Psychotherapist, Connection Therapist
and Circle Facilitator.
I am a professional, qualified and accredited Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Mindfulness teacher, and emotional health consultant. I have worked and trained in the field of emotional health and well being for the last 25 years, with mindfulness and spirituality being a central path to my life.
I have invested so much into personal development, learning and growing, and training in as many different modalities as possible so I could so I could heal the deep and at times unbelievably debilitating wounds of my human experience
“Understanding is Love.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
This has inspired me greatly in my lifetime, and my life’s journey has been to study and learn, cultivating skills to really see, hear and understand people on a deep level; and of course this had to start with me understanding myself, and the healing that this understanding has brought me. When we feel understood, we feel loved, acknowledged and accepted for our own uniqueness, and it’s through this acceptance that real healing occurs. There is much pain in not being seen, heard, and known for whom we truly ‘be’ and much inner discomfort and disconnection when we don’t know who we truly are.
There is tremendous power in listening and being present for somebody, not out of duty or obligation or politeness, but out of a deep caring and interest in them. If we don’t wake up to our own hearts and start to listen to them, I feel our hearts will wither and die. I genuinely deeply care about people, and to me, the work I do is my way of living an authentic life, doing what I love most, facilitating transformation and seeing people re connect with their authentic selves.
There is much pain in not being seen, heard, and known for whom we truly ‘be’ and much inner discomfort and disconnection when we don’t know who we truly are.
This is Me!
My Story – A Call to Connect
Have you noticed that we are often missing the deep, quality of connection we truly desire?
My feeling is that as humans we are all dying of broken hearts. People are so distracted, under pressure, not really present to listen fully, let alone witness one another. It’s no wonder we feel anxious, isolated, alone and, at times, discouraged when there is little genuine connection and sharing of realness and authenticity – and I don’t mean the ‘fake’ false relating; you know the one I mean – where you wear the mask and pretend all is well, yet deep down you feel shit, alone, lost, lonely and could really use some words of encouragement.
Have you ever had a feeling that nobody really knows who you are, and perhaps you wouldn’t dare show them anyway, for fear of judgment? Isn’t this how we all feel at times, or is it just me?
I personally love and long for the real, nourishing and genuine connection, where you feel like you are home in some way, because you show up authentically, and are accepted for it, welcomed and celebrated and the other shows up too, in their realness and so that exchange feels real and wholesome. Having to wear a mask and hide in some way for fear of (you can fill in the gap) creates a deep inner pain and isolation. The pain of not really being known and understood is always rumbling away in the background. Human connection is so important. We all have an innate need to belong. We need both physical and emotional connection, not to mention spiritual connection.
How often have you craved a healthy warm hug, somebody to listen, a bit of kindness, tenderness, a welcoming smile, or a friendly greeting that makes you feel like you count or are a part of something? I know these are the connections I long for, cherish and feel a craving for; that safety in the relating, when you can tell the truth and feel that is okay, where you can metaphorically show up naked and they don’t laugh, or judge you.
There is tremendous power in listening and being present for somebody, not out of duty or obligation or politeness, but out of a deep caring and interest in them.
If we don’t wake up to our own hearts and start to listen to them, I feel our hearts will wither and die. Well, this seems to be what my heart is communicating to me.
When somebody listens to me, really listens, I feel literally moved to tears – I feel so deeply grateful, so held and loved, that this creates an alchemy within my heart. I believe deeply listening to another is the best healing anybody can receive, and a real act of love you can bestow upon them.
I have come to see that when we speak our truth, and we witness others doing the same, it gives us all permission to show up in all our magnificence, as unique as we all are. It connects us in our humanness. When I witness somebody being himself or herself, I can really feel it; there is a quality of freedom in their expression. It is beautiful and I admire that deeply. I find such people so inspiring, no matter what their message.
According to a recent large scale American health study, most Americans suffer with strong feelings of loneliness and lack of significance in their relationships. Nearly half say they sometimes or always feel alone or left out and 13% said that zero people knew them well. And I am sure it’s the same for us here in the UK.
My heart is calling me to more authenticity; allowing myself to be seen more, in all my imperfection. Truthfully I have been terrified of showing my imperfection, with all its messiness and the brokenness of it all. I have felt shame around my messy, imperfect life, yet I am learning to embrace my imperfection, and find beauty within it. I know that often brokenness is a road to illumination and I witness others who have grown more beautiful and stronger through theirs.
And in light of this I would like to share with you parts of my story and at the same time invite you to join me in a deeper way of connecting together. My desire is that we can reach out and take one another’s hands and stand together, finding perfection in our imperfection.
And so my friends, this is part of my journey as a ‘wounded healer’.
I have invested so much in personal development, learning and growing, training in as many different modalities as possible so I could heal the deep and at times unbelievably debilitating wounds of my human experience. I craved to feel enough in my own skin, to feel safe speaking my truth and to feel like I had the right to show up. Yet the truth is, I didn’t feel like I even have a right to exist, let alone be authentic. I didn’t even know what authentic was. I was so used to hiding. I learned to hide very early in my life.
I know first hand what it’s like to not feel understood. I understand people’s pain and wounds so well because they are my wounds too. I know what its like to suffer, to feel alone, too scared to reach out, to be silenced, numb and isolated, to not want to live, longing with all my heart not to exist any longer, as this gave me ‘hope’ that the pain would at least stop then – or at least I hoped it would.
I know what it’s like to be beaten, sexually abused, neglected, abandoned and raped so many times that you have lost count. I was so familiar with being detached from my own body and for me this was the only way to survive. I learned to cope with and numb the pain of being invisible, humiliated, shamed and used. I devised a strategy of how to survive on crumbs. I learn how to become useful, strong, not to have needs and not to feel – ‘whatever you do, don’t feel!’ I become an expert in pleasing.
All my life I had the ability of a ‘knowing’, and ‘intuiting’ what was happening emotionally inside people. I think this saved my life on many occasions. But it also made my life harder; I could feel the shame, confusion and pain inside people. This made it even harder when you are being abused, as I could feel my abusers’ ‘internal stuff’; their shame, their pain, neediness, darkness and all their fears.
Despite being hurt, I always felt so sad for them, like I could feel their pain driving them. I never had a voice, no sound ever came out, It was as if I was frozen right from the beginning – I watched from an immobilised, frozen place; muscles tense, bracing myself and experiencing the pain – but I had no noise – nothing ever came out. It was as if someone had pressed the mute button. I didn’t know how to feel my own pain or acknowledge the right to have my own body, my own feelings or needs. I never felt human, and so I never felt the anger I needed to. I never expressed anger or sadness or any emotion at any of my abusers. I was just mute and frozen and believed I was bad and wrong. I felt insignificant – non-human. People’s actions and words frightened me, made no sense, seemed insane and yet through it all, something inside me helped me to stay strong, stay open and still retain an inner innocence.
Through out all this, I developed a clear and deep understanding about humans, and what they needed, felt and wanted, yet I was so detached from my own needs and emotions. They were a foreign land to me and I could never gain access to that land – or perhaps I was to scared to.
Throughout my childhood I just longed for somebody to notice, listen, see me and be interested, yet my deepest fear was that if they did, they would shame or humiliate me, so it felt best that they didn’t. I hoped that somebody would maybe – just maybe – meet me with a gentle kindness. I was a deeply sensitive child, with an innate ability to understand people and feel empathy for their pain. Yet this was met with a feeling that I was deeply flawed and I began to feel like maybe there was something wrong with this sensitivity – even worse I began to feel there was something wrong with who I intrinsically was.
When you grow up with such cruelty it becomes the norm and then you internalise it. In my case, I was not overtly cruel to myself, yet I always had very high expectations for myself, which made it hard for me to allow myself to be human or have needs. I learned to take it all, never retaliate and never show any weakness or any cracks. I never allowed myself to acknowledge the pain. It was filed away somewhere deep inside with a wall of amnesia around it to protect me. Then as I got older, I just learned to take it, and block it instantly, I guess that felt easier, as I devised a better strategy. I became good at strategy and learning from cause and effect. I was so afraid of vulnerability and knew if I ever showed any, it would be taken advantage of, so it was safer not to.
If you never really show anybody who you are, you will get found out for what you deeply fear; that you are innately flawed, bad, wrong, and unlovable, so I hid, deeply. Of course those were my child’s filters, and perceptions of myself, as that was always mirrored back to me. A child needs a witness, they need a safe adult from the outside to acknowledge what they are going through is wrongand that it is not their fault.
The truth is we all need a witness and to be acknowledged in our own unique suffering. This is the passion I bring to the work I do. I feel I am the witness of the child that had no voice; I feel its pain, as energetically it communicates with me – maybe knowing that there is an ally within me which understands – and I then communicate that to the person I’m working with.
This is the medicine I believe I bring, and it was borne through suffering and my own brokenness. Hemingway said ‘the world breaks everyone and afterwards many are stronger in the broken places’ and this is what I have come to see too. I have also come to see that the biggest places we have been wounded in life usually hide our greatest gifts and when we learn to lead from those gifts we step more fully into the truth of who we are.
I remember witnessing little children when I worked in Mozambique during the war in my late teens. I saw them take so much pain, even as they witnessed their parents shot, or their infected legs being gouged out with no anaesthetic – they registered no pain on their faces, no tears, no acknowledgement – they just took it. I related to their numbness and disassociation.
I have spent all of my adult life trying to heal these wounds. I have studied so many disciplines and spiritual practices, read so many books; which were my biggest allies and close friends at times. I was determined to heal the shame, understand and make sense of all things I witnessed and experienced, so I could understand my brain, what created the trauma, what emotional, social and developmental building blocks I had missed and how to now build them into by brain as an adult. I mastered how to skilfully understand and manage my brain, my thinking and my emotions. It’s not been an easy journey, given where I have come from and the way my brain has been so programmed into a ‘survival bias’ with my highly evolved hyper-vigilant ‘threat system’ on constant high alert.
And then there is shame.
Shame is the most debilitating of things. It thrives in silence, and being hidden away. But I was tenacious in my quest to learn, overcome and heal what I experienced. I knew I couldn’t go back and change the past, yet I was determined never to pass these patterns on to my children – that was my biggest driver. They were too precious to me, and I wanted with all my heart to protect them, as I know what it’s like only too well not to be protected.
Being a mother was my very highest calling; it was a role I thrived in and cherished with all my heart. It was like the healing balm I needed. My three children, Josh, Tom and India have been my best and most important teachers; the relationship we shared and share has brought me so much healing, growth and joy. Even when at times my needs were seriously unmet, my children helped me find my best self and lead from that place. I think they healed my own childhood, as I witnessed their innocence, freedom and innate beauty and my inner child had a safe environment to play and be nurtured alongside them.
I am also deeply blessed to do the job that I do, I have learned so much from 25 years as a therapist, and witnessing beautiful souls has been so rewarding. I love and deeply respect all the amazing people I am honoured enough to work with. They let me into their hearts, share their story with me and allow me to witness their beauty and miracle of who they be. I believe people are miracles; I am amazed at their resiliency, and the light I see within their essence. We all need to have this mirrored back to us. We are all miracles, as being human in this world is tough at times!
Through out this journey I have learned to grown an ‘inner loving adult’ that is open, curious, patient, kind, gentle, empathic and a deeply compassionate witness and I believe it’s this part of me that has saved my life over and over again. The art of healing is compassion; it’s a vital key to inner balance, understanding yourself and creating a deep and lasting healing, and Self-love is the centre of all. It’s the anchor for all expressions of your love.
I see myself like a vessel, I have many cracks and chips, parts where the paint is missing, yet I still manage to hold my liquid! The cracks have allowed the light to shine in and the light began to melt the prison bars I placed around my heart to protect me. And for that, I am deeply grateful. I am learning to cherish myself, and to be kind; kindness empowers, it softens and opens oneself and others, inviting a sense of dignity to be experienced.
My deep connection with the earth has always sustained me. It would be only to her I would go and feel safe enough to be held. I never felt safe throughout my life, and I found it hard to trust a human. Trees became important to me at a young age, as I leaned against them, imagining they were a kind parent who loved me and had my back. I internalised their ‘holding’ and they soon became my backbone and deep grounding roots which stabilised me. They still are to this day.
Nature sustains me, and I am deeply grateful for my beloved Gaia and my connection to her. As a child I would find feathers. They made me feel like somebody must love me and be watching out for me. Mother Earth was my hope growing up. She became like a true mother and father to me – my most cherished friend. I believe she taught me an inner wisdom, and enabled me to remain strong, yet deeply innocent, with a purity and playfulness that I can only describe as a miracle, given what I had experienced, but her energy somehow protected me, and enabled me to be resilient. In truth I don’t know how I survived what I experienced. I believe my survival was due to my constant love and connection to the creative source and the energy shared between us. I spent most of my time as a child in the rivers and woods, fields and with animals, birds and ethereal beings (that’s another story!) on the farm that I was blessed enough to grow up on.
Never feeling like you belong is hard and lonely. Being a therapist is at times lonely too. Yes, I hold the space for beautiful souls to be witnessed, journeying with them, yet still I am not really known. I am being totally authentic in this role, yet it is a ‘role’, and I have to wonder – is this another way of hiding, to avoid being deeply known and witnessed? It is only by asking ourselves deep and honest questions that we learn to go to our depths and edges, witnessing all that is within ourselves. When we can be curious and open, with the intention to learn about ourselves, we cultivates awareness and awareness leads to choice and choice always leads to freedom. My intention is always to come home to my authentic being and live fully from that place. At times that feels scary, exposing, unnerving and completely tender and expansive at the same time.
I believe that understanding is love. We all need to be heard, seen, felt and known deeply – this is the deepest of human needs. We need to be able to listen deeply with an open heart to one another, without being ‘fixed’, told what to do, shamed or receive comments and opinions on what we have shared. We are all intelligent human beings and from what I have witnessed through 25 years as a therapist, it is clear that people just want to share their stories and be gently heard with presence and understanding.
My challenge in my healing journey has always been allowing myself to be seen and held emotionally by others. I experienced such trauma around trusting, that I would talk myself out of it and instead end up holding the space for them and they never ‘found me out’ which in my mind confirmed that they couldn’t hold me safely.
I have since learned to allow myself to be held a little better, but I’m not always very good at it! This is why I am so passionate and experienced at holding space and holding it safely, gently and with conscious awareness. Feeling emotionally safe is so important to me and a vital part of healing.
This morning I found another lump in my breast. I felt a vulnerability rising and reverberating within my body. I am no stranger to surgery, with my sweet little breasts already looking like a beautiful piece of tapestry. Our bodies hold our scars from our lives don’t they? I am learning to release the fear and remains of shame around mine. The doctor’s receptionist was so kind and gentle with me. I felt grateful, which evoked a soft feeling inside me. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thanked her; gentleness was just the medicine I needed. I realised how important kindness is and that all my life I have longed for kindness, and this is the ‘why’ that motivates and inspires me to do the job I do. I believe kindness is such a healing medicine – one we all need. As a very beautiful and special person reminded me recently – kindness is powerful.
I don’t think I would change a thing about my life, because my experiences have made me who I am today. Despite the chaos and at times ruin and despair I encountered, I have come to learn how all these things can become opportunities to mine my inner gold and transform my wounds, through the inner alchemy of compassion and loving-kindness. Chaos can be a road to transformation. I believe life calls us to soften our edges and find more balance, so that we may learn to let go of what gets in the way of living with an open heart. It’s often it’s through our own suffering that transformation can occur, if we can harvest it.
My life experiences have taught me how to understand people deeply and how to hold a safe and loving space that allows deep healing to take place. Through experiencing trauma first hand, I have developed a ‘healing map’ from my embodied experiences, coupled with all my theoretical training and cognitive understanding.
A big part of who I am who I am today is because of the kindest person I ever met. I was 29 when I met him, and his kindness transformed my life and contributed so much to who I now am. He was so patient with me. He taught me about a gentle kind of loving, always encouraging me and my children to ‘pay that kindness forward’. He remains our inspiration to this day. Sadly this love in my life died 9 years ago from cancer. Life can smash us open, time and time again, yet if we meet our broken parts with kindness, compassion and gentleness, I believe we can eventually grow wild flowers in the crumbled parts of ourselves.
We need each other. We need to come together and witness one another and normalise our human experiences. When we share with one another, we no longer suffer alone. We learn from each other, as our unique voices are all important. It is a powerful force when we come together to support, embrace, and inspire one another as we move through life’s cycles. I am always amazed at how much insight I gain about my own life by listening to others share.
Women’s Gatherings (or Circles) can provide this. Sitting in circle together with other women reminds us that it’s safe to be vulnerable and unapologetically ourselves. It helps us feel the power of listening with an open heart, giving and receiving support in healthy ways. It gives us opportunity to witness the inner beauty of all women and this magic is priceless. We get to laugh and cry together, share our essence and be known. When the bond of a circle deepens, we feel a sense of equality and support, which brings healing with a knowing that we experience a shared humanity and are no longer isolated and alone anymore. We share the truth that is alive within us and learn to stay open to love.
Gathering with women gives us the energy needed to return to our lives, we gain inspiration, strength and perspective and a reassurance that our experience is often one that others share. These gatherings give us opportunity to find and share our voice, discover our authenticity, dissolving any shame we may carry. Shame often simply needs to be shared and heard in another’s story so we can be reminded of our similarities. This, in itself, creates a healing.
In my work and personal life, I’ve experienced and have heard many women express how they have been wounded in their relationships with other women. Women can trigger women, heightening insecurity or competition. The reasons for this are endless. Yet it’s good to have an open, gentle discussion about it. Imagine a world where we are curious and inspired by our ‘sisters’ mystery and charm, igniting our own inner brilliance rather than comparing ourselves to them. Let’s learn to stand side by side in all our feminine magnificence.
When women gather in circle with grounded openness, a container for healing and self-discovery is created. It gives us room to explore being free of habit energies, biases, filters and belief systems that drain our energy. This sacred space enables us to embrace our feminine natures – beautiful, empathic, intuitive, emotional, creative, reflective, wild, sensual, radiant and flowing – and can heal our relationship with ourselves and our relationships with other women by dissolving old outgrown judgment as we recognise ourselves in one another.
We give each other permission to be real, vulnerable, and authentic. We claim together our freedom of self expression and grow confidence to speak our truth. We will listen to one another with kindness, compassion, understanding and respect so we all feel seen and heard.
My journey is unique to me, as your is to you. So, let’s come together and empower one another, celebrate who we are and together create a new ‘kind’ of supportive community where we can all grow and thrive together.
And so I will be starting women’s circles, and I invite you to join with me.
The Dalai Lama stated in the 2009 World Peace Summit that “…the world will be saved by the western woman.”
Let’s be a part of that together and create a new ‘kind’ of connection.