Holistic Centre for Body, Mind & Spirit

A Path to Being in Control

OCTOBER 2010, STREETS AHEAD MAGAZINE BY THE EDITOR

When Tracey split with her husband five years ago she was left devastated, angry, upset and alone. She had reached her lowest point and was beyond despair. Then by chance she saw an advertisement from Anam Cara and her life took a totally new turn.

Everyday women and men encounter serious problems with their well being. Whether they are suffering from pain, anxiety or depression it can affect them in many ways, and to differing degrees. Many feel totally helpless and are unsure if they will ever find a solution to their problems and believe that nobody can, or will understand what they are going through.

This is obviously not the case and Tracey has opened up to Streets Ahead revealing very emotional and personal things about her life in the hope that any readers who are going through issues of their own can see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We meet Tracey who is 46 years old in the very pleasant and calming surroundings of the Anam Cara Holistic Centre in Sutton Coldfield on a pleasant morning. She is dressed casually and despite being suited ourselves, we cannot help but feel the influence of the Centre and we both feel relaxed and at ease. After a cold drink we both sit back and Tracey begins to tell her story.

“In August 2005 my marriage of 16 years broke up. It had been a difficult period for both my husband and I with a lot of upset, arguing and trauma in the preceding eight months. It transpired that he had been having an affair and despite my trying to talk to him and solve the issues, he ultimately took the decision to leave me and the children to be with his girlfriend.

As you can imagine this left me totally devastated. I couldn't understand what I had done wrong, how I had failed in the marriage. In my mind it was my fault and I was to blame. Whilst my husband never blamed me he couldn't give me any reasons why he had cheated or why he was leaving. Maybe there wasn't a reasonable explanation but I needed answers and none were forthcoming.”

“So that’s where I found myself. Alone and confused with two young children, wondering what the hell was going on.”

“Of course I did have friends and relatives that were by now aware that he had left me and could see the pain and anguish I was going through. They were sympathetic and caring but that wasn't what I wanted or needed. They allowed me to cry and let out my sadness but I couldn't really talk to them. They were 'on my side' and because they blamed him and the other woman for the break up they were unable to give me an unbiased and constructive opinion that I so desperately craved. If they told me it wasn't my fault, I wouldn't believe them. I needed to talk to someone that wouldn't just tell me what I wanted to hear but who would help me to get to the bottom of the problem and the way I was feeling.”

It was then, six weeks after he left that Tracey saw an advert for Anam Cara and first met Sonia.

“I was feeling really alone and quite desperate. The children were aged ten and twelve and the fact that I had to continue with a regime for their benefit, and wear a mask to protect their feelings meant that the moment they were in bed or weren't around I felt it really difficult to keep a grip of things. The questions surrounding what I had done wrong remained and gnawed at me. I had believed myself to be a good wife and mother so why had all this happened, to me and the children? I felt guilty for them too. I felt I had not only lost a husband but had lost my children their father. He still kept in contact with the children but it is never the same as when your dad lives at home with you and your mum.”

“Having children stopped me turning to drink and there was no chance I wanted to be put on prescription drugs.”

“I wasn't so much depressed, more at a very low point in my life. I could carry on for the children but it was a charade for their benefit. I knew what I really wanted was somebody to speak to. Someone that would listen and help without being judgemental.”

“It took me a short while before I actually picked up the courage to call. I kept putting it off as you always have that slight doubt that it will be a waste of time or that nothing will come from counselling and also the stigma that seems to surround counselling, including the feelings that you have failed because you feel the need to talk to a stranger, you are weak and that you should really just ‘pull yourself together and get on with it’. I soon discovered there was absolutely no need to worry.”

“The moment I heard Sonia speak – she asked me why I had called for her help I just broke down into tears and the whole thing flooded out. I was totally inconsolable. I remember exactly the moment, phone against my ear whilst I watched the children play in the garden. I was crying, blubbering and probably making little sense.”

“Sonia was going on holiday that day, but still took twenty minutes to speak with me and discuss the problems I was encountering. She managed to totally reassure me and left me feeling that I could get my emotions in check and the answers I wanted.”

“I knew almost immediately that I had made the right decision and that Sonia would be able to help me. In fact whilst on the phone I was aware that I was more devastated that I wouldn't get an appointment until she came back from holiday than any of the other issues swimming around in my head. Sonia being Sonia however made sure that I had her personal mobile telephone number and told me to call her at any time if things got really bad.”

“Nothing had been sorted but that one telephone conversation seemed to lift a great weight off me. I had taken the first step and knew that I had made the right decision. She had given me hope.”

“When Sonia came back I was overjoyed to finally meet her. It wasn't how I had imagined the meeting would go – I thought she would wave a magic wand and cure all my problems immediately – but it was still the most constructive ninety minutes I had shared with someone in ages. Sonia took all my history, family ties, relationships and where each of these fitted into my life. She then let me discuss with her the events surrounding my marriage breakdown and before I knew it my appointment was over. I left feeling good that I had finally spoken to someone but unsure what had actually been achieved. I did however make another appointment for the following week.”

“After that I visited Sonia every week for around eight months talking through lots of things, my feelings, thoughts on what had happened and why. I felt protected, safe and relaxed in Sonia's company and used my appointments to get everything off my chest. Not only the marriage breakdown, but the fallout from it too. The good thing for me is that the meetings were not clinical. We sat and chatted in relaxed surroundings, discussing all the problems that continued to arise in my daily life. There was never a set agenda it was simply whatever I brought to the room. Our discussions ranged from deep rooted family problems from my childhood to how let down and saddened I felt when my ex husband didn't visit the children as regularly as he could and how I felt he continued to disappoint them.”

“Never judgemental or interfering Sonia allowed me to talk and take the lead. The meetings allowed me to put the emotional building blocks in place, build a foundation for getting my life back on track. If I was hurting she would recognise that and there was a connection between us, although this was not an emotional one. She was an outlet for my emotional outpourings and enabled me to deal with any problems that came my way – especially on how I dealt with my emotions when coming into contact with my ex husband.”

“The transformation was amazing. Suddenly I was in control. When events occurred that would have, at one stage, made me hysterical (such as my ex husband turning up late to fetch the children or forgetting a parents evening) now were handled efficiently, calmly and confidently I had a new insight into why he behaved the way he did – and also why I behaved the way I did and suddenly I felt liberated.”

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Five years later and Tracey is now working alongside Sonia and the therapist team at Anam Cara. As the Centre Manager she feels that she too can help to make a change to the lives of people who are suffering or experiencing similar difficulties to those that she herself endured. She would never claim to be an expert but appreciates how easy it is for people with personal problems to push them to one side and allow matters to affect their health.

“I want people to understand that it is no good sweeping problems, however trivial they may seem, under the carpet, as they will always choose to reappear at some later stage in your life. That there are people like Sonia that can help and really make a difference. She has helped me move on and become a stronger and more balanced person and she can help others too. Don't put off picking up the telephone, make the call and know that this will be confidential. I know from personal experience that it could be the best decision you will make.”