I’m going to tell you a story about a woman. A woman who always tried to do her best, to be kind, loyal and care for those she loved.
But this woman was let down in the worst possible way by the one person she loved and trusted most in the whole world, by someone who she thought was her friend and who she had helped in her hour of need.
And that woman…… was me.
A year ago, I was doing what I thought everyone was expecting me to be doing. I would get up, wash, get dressed, go to work, come home, cook the dinner, do the housework, go to bed… generally not sleep.
And then the next day, I would do it all again.
I was existing, going through the motions as such, not really thinking about what I was doing.
I was doing it all just for my three sons.
At this point I was living in the home I had shared for nearly 26 years with my husband.
He now was living less than 30m away in a house at the bottom of my garden with my 'widowed' ex-friend. Their bedroom window overlooked my garden. To go to the doctors or shop I would have to walk right past the front of their house.
I would go to bed knowing he was there so close and wake up knowing he was there.
I barely stepped into my garden and avoided going past the house for fear of bumping into them and it was painful to see his car parked outside. I waited until it was dark to go that way through the village.
It was daily torture for 11 months, and I honestly don’t know how I got through that time.
People say that when times are tough to 'take one day at a time'.
But back then sometimes, I had to take it one hour at a time.
The only purpose I felt I had was to be there for my three boys.
Now in every good story there is a hero, or as in this story, I’d like to call him my 'angel in disguise'.
Three weeks after my husband left, my oldest son bought a cocker spaniel puppy as he didn’t want me to be on my own. Kenny!
Kenny turned our lives upside down. But in a good way.
This little dog… saved my life.
I have talked to him, hugged him, cried into his fur, laughed at him and he has made me smile every single day.
I will never forget how he has helped me. He has been a constant in my life (quite a destructive one at times!) but he has brought me so much comfort and love at the hardest time of my life.
My son is moving out soon and he will be taking Kenny with him as he is his dog. I will miss him terribly… Oh and I will miss my son too! But I know I will be looking after Kenny occasionally and I can visit him often too.
When I applied for a place on the blossom programme, I was completely honest with what I wrote and I seriously thought they would take one look at it and say 'no, she’s definitely not in the right place for this course!' and turn me down.
I was going through the toughest of times and I had reached rock bottom, but I kept it hidden as much as possible.
But they didn’t say no and for that I will be eternally grateful.
So I have learnt a lot over the course of the year, as we all have. But if you were to ask me to name just one important thing that I’ve learnt on the programme, it would be this…
At the beginning, as I mentioned before, I kept going for my sons. They were the only reason I felt I had to get up and carry on.
But with all the workshops, talking to the people here, my inspiring coach, Karen and of course all the lovely blossom ladies who have been so kind and helpful, I came to realise that I was forgetting about one other important person who I had kept going for… and that was me
Because what is a life if you can’t be happy in yourself?
My sons just want me to be happy and to do what I want to do. To live my life how I want.
As long as they can come and stay with me wherever I am, be a little bit spoilt by their mum… oh, and eat lots of food… then they will be happy.
I have learnt that I CAN make decisions on my own.
I am a kind and loyal person, and there is nothing wrong with that. I am unique and I should value myself more.
I am stronger and more independent than I ever thought I was.
Sadly, this isn’t the end of this particular story yet, and I do know that it will probably get a lot harder before it gets better.
But it will have an ending and when it ends there will be a new story with different characters, a different setting and maybe, just maybe… out there somewhere, there may be a new angel in disguise for me?
It still isn’t easy, I still feel hurt, I feel lonely sometimes – but less so than at the beginning, I have self-doubt and a broken heart, but I know that I am worth so much more than how those two people made me feel.
I just want to finish with something that my coach said to me at the beginning when it was a particularly difficult time.
She said "you are in the deepest darkest tunnel and the only thing lighting up the ceiling are your sons".
And she was absolutely right!
But I can safely say, a year on, that there are a few more lights lighting the way now.
And I do think that I might actually find my way out eventually.