My childhood broke my confidence and my spirit down. My mother was a troubled and stressed single parent who was emotionally unavailable. Teachers often were more concerned with finding out what was “wrong” with me than with catering to my educational needs. In their quest to find out the problem, they discovered I was “gifted.” I wished that “gift” away so often, as it separated me from my peers who could not understand or relate to me.
The final straw that broke my emotional back was when my mother got into a relationship with a man who really wanted to be a father figure to my brother and me. He had red hair, like me, and he was sensitive and kind and a little different, like me. He had met my mother at work and admired her for years. She told me he had been a ward of the state and had low self-esteem due to surviving childhood abuse, which made me feel very sympathetic to him. She had started this relationship as a kind of revenge when she split up for a time with a long-term partner, who was also emotionally unavailable to us. Being so young, I didn’t really understand what was happening; I was just so happy to feel like someone wanted to care for me.
When she went back to her long-term partner, as I would have known was inevitable had I not been a naïve 12 year old, we were pulled out our beds after midnight and bundled into a car. When the car pulled to a stop, I saw another car crashed into a concrete power pole. Sitting sideways in the driver’s seat was a man crying his eyes out. It was the man I had so wanted to be my father, and he had made a suicidal gesture or attempt. Sitting there, eyes wide and mouth agape, my heart and my brain broke in the same instant. I was so connected with and identified so much with this man I felt I had also been cast aside into darkness.
It had all been too much. I became depressed, dissociative and suicidal for years after this. I wrote about death in my diary and hoarded aspirin packets under my bed. Now, as someone who is trained in reacting to suicidal people, I know how dangerous this was. Not only did I have the motivation, but I had also acquired the means. Snooping in my room, my mother had found these. She screamed at me about it—obviously she cared—but she was ill equipped to take the next steps to support me.
I became pretty heavily involved with drugs and alcohol during high school and early adulthood to numb my pain. I had no confidence in myself, no internal stability, and very little support. I managed to complete university but was almost homeless several times during this period, and my mother was unwilling to provide a bed for me for any longer than a couple of weeks at a time.
But university built me back up in so many ways. I got high marks when I put effort in. I met lecturers who were quirky and smart—but also HAPPY. I learned so much about the world and how it works. I developed an insatiable thirst for knowledge on the systems in society that hold people down, and those that can also elevate them. I was able to quit doing drugs and drinking excessively and engage in the emotional work necessary to let go of my anger. When I left university I made a pact with myself—I would leave the world a better place than it was when I had entered it. I would DO SOMETHING about all the pain I had felt and seen around me.
To do this, I went into community services and worked with a lot of people who had experiences like mine and much, much worse. I coached them to rebuild their lives. I helped them prioritize the many components of their welfare and facilitated them into drug detox, into community housing, into work, into medical treatment, or whatever it was they needed. I helped them understand what made them unique and special, and that they were more than what their families, school or society had labelled them as. I helped them master the emotional triggers that caused them to self-sabotage. I was so good at this I was promoted to management nine months after starting work at my last place of employment. I helped my company win one award and was a finalist myself for another. I am now taking my well-honed skills into my own business as a Confidence and Self-Love Coach.
My take away message for you is this:
If I could take myself from being willing to end my life at 15 to being successful in business and in life, finding my confidence and my joy, anyone can!
Jessamine Gibb is a Confidence and Self-Love Coach with Master Coach level training, as well as a B.A. in Sociology. Additionally, she is an Associate Member of the Career Development Association of Australia and a Member of Counselling Tasmania Incorporated.
She is on a mission to help over-achievers and perfectionists with low self-esteem value themselves and get more out of their personal and professional lives. Her style is approachable and nurturing, but she also develops the rapport required to call clients to account when they are neglecting their self-care and stagnating in pursuit of their goals. Having a background in mental health case management she is equipped to work with clients who are maintaining their mental wellness while pursuing their goals.
Take her free mini course at: http://achievecoaching.wixsite.com/selfoveconfidence. For more information visit the website http://achievecoaching.com.au/.