Episode 064 – Is it safe for you to be seen?

Episode 064 - Is it safe for you to be seen? It’s not for me…

Welcome to episode 064 of the podcast! It’s great to see you.

Today I’m sharing something that has happened in my life that led to me creating a story for myself that has eroded my confidence ever since. It’s something we all do on some level or another. Something happens to you, you create a story from it, you ding your own confidence.

Creating stories like this is your brain’s survival instinct. Now it no longer has real lions to worry about eating you, it creates illogical lions in your day to day world, sometimes for very logical reasons. Stories that will have you thinking you can’t do something again.

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Transcript of episode

Hello! I’m your host, Lorraine Stone, and on today’s episode I’m sharing something that has happened in my life that led to me creating a story for myself that has eroded my confidence ever since. 

It’s something we all do on some level or another. Something happens to you, you create a story from it, you ding your own confidence.

Creating stories like this is your brain’s survival instinct. Now it no longer has real lions to worry about eating you, it creates illogical lions in your day to day world, sometimes for very logical reasons. Stories that will have you thinking you can’t do something again.

It occurred to me recently that I left my toxic marriage and just about got my life back on track only to be diagnosed with a chronic health condition. I have been in a fight ever since to get control of my body back.

I have had body confidence issues from when I was tiny. I got chickenpox before I was 2 years old, which left me with eczema so bad that the backs of my knees would split open and bleed after sitting in school assembly. Add to that wearing a B cup bra by the age of seven, my period starting by the age of nine, a few surgeries to remove benign tumours, having a stalker and being assaulted all before I was 20. Then with the toxic marriage and the chronic illness it really smashed my confidence, with a sledgehammer. Those surgeries would continue up to January of this year, for the first time in nearly 30 years we believe I am tumour-free.

Any one of these on their own can really knock your confidence, and put you into battle with your own body. 

I used to work out as if it was punishment, like I had to do it. As if my body had betrayed me for developing so young, or that if I kept super-fit the tumours wouldn’t grow. Which is ridiculous. But then after having a stalker, and being assaulted, I started to tell myself a story that it’s not safe for me to be seen.

Then there’s those male friends who we all have who think it’s ok to comment upon our bodies. Well guys, no. If I can have the humanity to keep it to myself about how small your penis looks in your jeans, then you keep it to yourself about my boobs, or my arse.

The ex-husband hated it if I ever got attention from other men, and I didn’t want what came after when we got home. So I stopped wearing makeup, put my hair in a scruffy ponytail. I would wear baggy clothes. All to blend into the background. It’s not safe for me to be seen.

I started to gain weight from eating to deal with my emotions, and as I gained weight, the less attention I got. New stories. I’m safe if I’m overweight. No one notices the overweight girl. I’m miserable, but I’m safe.

After I left him I no longer needed to eat my feelings, and I naturally lost some of the weight. But I now had cellulite on my legs, so I still hid my body away.

I then got sick.

I was given different medications to take which messed up my body, and I was being told no, you can’t do so many things anymore. And it’s funny because as a runner before I got sick, I never had an interest in doing a marathon and then all of a sudden the goal I wanted was marathon. When I went back to running after being discharged from hospital I didn’t set a goal like most normal people have such as a 5k for instance, I set myself a goal of running a half marathon in 3 months. I’d kind of found this inner peace that I was never going to be able to run fast again. So if I can’t run fast, why not run long. And from there the marathon dream came to life. I was told you’ll never be able to do it. Your body won’t let you. The medals I have from New York and Berlin will tell you otherwise.

Oh, and the years of the maybe baby saga, never knowing if I’ll be able to have my own kids, then finding out that my uterus was too unstable with a high risk of rupture, and then more benign tumours growing within it and on it. Ultimately having surgery back in January and having it all taken away. Again, my body letting me down. So running, for a while, it’s off the table.

Now, there are plenty of women who, three months post-op, go back to running and if that’s what they’re happy to do, that is absolutely great. And no one should judge what they are doing. My abdominal cavity was pushed around thanks to these tumours. I ended up with a seven inch incision because of the size it all grew to. The way that I have been stitched back together, how what remains has been held in place, those ligaments and everything are still healing and I spent long enough working in gynae to know that whatever it is I do now will affect my body in later life. Quite a lot of the women that came through our doors to fix things like bladder problems and prolapse problems said they wished they had NOT gone back to running so soon when they were younger after having hysterectomies. That perhaps they wouldn’t be needing to be fixed again. There’s no way of knowing, but I’m listening.

So running is not on the table for me. James and I get married in July 2023, next summer, and the thought of having to be centre stage is really overwhelming. It’s not safe for me to be seen.

The thought of going on holiday, next year on my honeymoon and feeling uncomfortable in a swimsuit and hiding under a towel the whole time? Because it’s not safe for me to be seen?

I am over it. 

I want my body confidence back. I don’t want to hide away under baggy clothes and scruffy ponytails. Still remains to be seen on the make-up, it’s so boring having to take it all off at the end of the day…

But, I’m still me. I still love to set goals that push myself. I still seem to be very much extreme. So what can I do if I’m not able to run? When the same caveats apply as my marathon training and that I still have to respect my illness.

I picked a goal that was there back in my teenage days. Back in the days when I used to go to a gym full of bodybuilders who would get up on stage and compete and I loved that world. The discipline it takes to get there. Discipline to be strong enough to get up on stage. I’m not talking bikini competition level here because I’m not ready for that. My body is too soon post-op to be able to handle what that brings. But there is a fabulous company with a great ethos that everything is all about health and wellness and not about deprivation and dehydrating yourself for days. I am all about the transformation and a big part of the transformation is your story.

If it’s not safe for me to be seen, to be fit and healthy because it attracts attention like when I was younger, well yes, back then I was fit in the strength sense, and I got a stalker and I got assaulted. So what better way to deal with that story than to say it’s wrong. To say it’s not true. And to prove it’s not true by getting myself back to where it is that I want to be and stepping up on stage.

I’m not saying this is going to be a walk in the park. 

There’s all kinds of things that scare me. For instance, when I was marathon training I was already going to the loo more often than is normal because of one of the tumours growing and pushing into my bladder, so where would I be able to go to the loo as often and, extremely importantly, as quickly as I needed to? That’s mostly been resolved now since surgery and my bladder gets to be a normal shape again. Or how will I carry all the nutrition I need to keep going because I’m slower now so I’ll be out there longer, and I could no longer tolerate the gels, so I was having to carry things like flapjacks.

Now those are no longer applicable here. Well, I hope I won’t be on stage so long that I’ll need to carry flapjacks with me… The things that really scare me with this goal? Other than walking on stage in a sparkly bikini and heels? Actually let’s start with walking in heels considering I’ve lived in slippers and trainers for how long since lock down? Then there’s the hair and the make-up and then that mad crazy tan that you have to wear on stage because of the stage lights. And. All those people staring at you. It’s not safe for me to be seen. These things scare me. And yet I’m excited nearly in equal measure.

So how am I going to deal with the sabotage that comes from telling myself those stories?

Firstly, knowing what my sabotage triggers are. I’d lose some weight, and I’d sabotage myself. But losing weight wasn’t what was holding me back, it was the story I had created that it’s not safe for me to be seen. If I lose weight I might start getting attention again, and that will damage my relationship.

But is that true? Yes, I might start getting attention again. Will it damage my relationship? It could.

But is it REALLY true? Unlikely. James isn’t my ex-husband, and he’s cheering me on as I work towards my goals, not tearing me down like the ex-husband did.

The first thing for you to notice there is a shift in language. Changing it from will happen, which is a definite, to could happen, which is a maybe. As the old quote says, there are no definites in life, only death and taxes. You have no way of knowing what will happen.

That man who was the stalker, even though I worked with him every day, it wasn’t the real me he was obsessed with. It was the me that he had created in his head. There was literally nothing I could have done to prevent it from happening. His behaviour is not on me. The man who assaulted me, also not on me. My ex-husband’s behaviour, you guessed it, not on me. What is on me is how I handled it after, and how I handle it now.

Whilst I tell myself the stories that say it’s not safe for me to be seen, I am still letting their behaviour have a hold over me.

I am undoing these stories.

I often say choose your hard. The easy option would be to NOT work out, eat what I like and suffer the consequences of not feeling great because the food has messed up my belly or feeling lethargic because I haven’t done any movement. For being miserable and lacking confidence because I won’t walk around in a bikini on the beach, or stop hiding under baggy clothes. But, that suffering that’s is my true hard. It’s easier for me to drag myself up and get moving and feeling much better for it, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

I’ve been saying for a while now my body my rules, I’ve been sharing with you all the things I’ve done to take back my health, my body, from a chronic Illness. But ultimately, it’s about confidence. Confidence to live your life how you want to live it, and that’s what I am here for you for. Anxiety, stress, disordered eating, it’s all chronic conditions, not just illnesses like mine with big fancy names most people can’t pronounce.

If you’d like some support with working through what’s getting in the way of you reclaiming your confidence, or your life from a chronic condition, you can email me on [email protected]. You can also find me on Instagram, at lifeinalign, just DM me, and I’ll get back to you. I’ve put a link to my email and my Instagram in the shownotes.

I have also created a quiz for you to answer a few questions to reveal your perfect match power scent, your confidence secret weapon, intrinsically echoed through your many varied choices in life. There’s a link for this in the shownotes too, and you can also find it at lifeinalign.com/link-me. Or, if you go anywhere on my website, you should see a pop-up that will take you there.

Thanks for listening, and remember – you are worth it, and you get to choose.

Have a lovely day.