The Story Of My Life With People, Part 1
The Story Of My Life With People, Part 1
This evening as part of Relationship week, I’m going to share with you, my valued readers, the story of my life in terms of my relationships. I’m going to do this through a lens of the wisdom of middle age, and also the research and training that I’ve undertaken as a life coach. It’s certainly helped me make sense of what happened over all those years. It’s also great therapy and I recommend it as an exercise that you can do for yourself once you’ve read through the articles I’ll share with you this week.
My teenage years can be characterised in terms of romantic relationships as, well, barren...
In fact you could say they got off to a good start, I had my first kiss, and subsequent ‘girlfriend’, aged 12. But this was short lived, and I never really found out why. At the time I don’t think that traumatised me too much, but who knows… The reality was that not much followed in terms of school years girlfriends. I had a brief ’summer fling’ when I was 14 or 15, that was about it. As I’ve mentioned before, I was short and overweight as a teenager. I was friendly and sociable, but few saw me as boyfriend material. Or maybe I never saw myself as boyfriend material. I’m not looking for sympathy here, remember, I’m just looking back at how it was.
There followed my college years, hanging out with the lads, and just a few awkward and failed interactions with girls along the way. Looking back at this period, I had zero confidence in myself, I was a complete wallflower and I simply could not find a way out of it. I also look back at this period that I was the ‘nice guy’. This is a huge trap for men to fall into, I now realise. You should be careful about which kind of nice guy you are. I’m going to write about 'nice guy syndrome’ later this week. It’s an eye opener. It’s fair to say that the ‘nice guy’ often does not get the girl, does not get the right girl, or does not keep the girl.
I was comfortable with my male friends, and immersed myself in beer, football, and accountancy, during the nineties. I remember thinking more than once during that time, I’m not going to meet anyone, I’m going to be alone. I'd resigned myself to it, and I was certainly talking myself into that outcome...
Right at the end of that decade, I met the woman who was to become my wife. I can’t say what especially happened there, except that when we met I was recovering from a badly broken ankle and there may have been some sympathy affection in there. We were work colleagues, there was an inbuilt proximity and social life that meant it was possible for the rapport and attraction to grow between us, and enough time for me to finally pluck up the courage to do something about it. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.
By the way, I’ve observed many relationships between work colleagues, the average work environment is rich with circumstances for people to become romantically involved. There’s nothing inherently bad about that, although I think you should be aware of interesting dynamics that occur when you embark on a relationship at work. Maybe more about that another day.
We were married in 2004, I was in totally in love with my wife and I loved being married. We did all the usual stuff, exotic honeymoon, house ownership, emigration from our home country (OK not so usual but not extraordinary), and the beautiful children came along in 2006 and 2008. Then there were sleepless nights, fractured social lives, constant fatigue, work pressures, reduced intimacy and affection, and it goes on…until it stops.
For us it was late 2012, and my wife chose to pull the plug on our relationship, our marriage. Somehow we’d drifted to a point were we were too far apart to come back together. I didn’t notice, or I chose not to notice, nor do anything about it. And then it was too late, no going back.
I didn’t like it, I fought it for a while. Denial, anger, sadness, all those things I went through. Then I came out the other side.
There I was, in my early forties, with one major and a small number of insignificant romantic relationships behind me, faced with being alone again. My thoughts went back to my teenage and student years, the awkwardness, lack of confidence; I was destined to be the ‘wallflower’ again. And I wouldn’t meet anyone, get lucky, twice in one lifetime, would I?
Then I realised that I wasn’t exactly the same person. Twenty years had passed. Surely during that time I had gained something, grown as a person, changed in some ways?
Well, sure, I know what I’d gained: a few pounds around the waistline, it was not a pretty sight.
When I actually looked inside myself, took some time to clarify my thoughts, I found the core of who I was remained intact, and it was still covered in these layers of self doubt. That had not changed too much.
What HAD changed was my ability to identify this. With my age and experience came self-awareness. And once it was identified, and named (let’s call it “short fat hairy Neil”), I was able to deal with it.
I realised that this simple belief I had was holding me back for no good reason. I came to this realisation through reading and researching, and coming to understand that many other people with the same kinds of beliefs about themselves had taken simple steps to overcome them, change their beliefs, change their thoughts, change their reality. And so I did it myself.
Now I’m not going to go here into too much detail about how I did that. That’s a story about how I came into personal development and especially coaching, and it’s a personal thing that won’t be appropriate for everyone. When I’m coaching my clients, however, I can use my experience to demonstrate what’s possible and how it can be done, allowing my clients to adapt those into their own solution based on their own circumstances. If you're interested in following up on this aspect, please drop me a line.
What I do want to share with you now is how my life has changed as a result, how I look back on ALL those experiences, good and bad, with positivity, taking lessons from my failures and enhancing the success factors, to become the man I am today, on my way to being the best that I can be. And most importantly, enjoying every moment.
So, back to late 2012, early 2013, and seeing “short fat hairy Neil” looming large in my future. Once the self awareness dawned on me, I knew it was time to change. But the change wasn’t all about learning new things. The change was actually about taking things away. Taking away the barriers that were holding me back. The fears, the anxiety, the stress of actually being myself.
I know others had done it, I was determined I would myself. So I embarked on a mission, if you like. The mission was to get out there in the world, my small part of the world, and meet people, make friends, stop being a wall-flower, get involved, meet some girls, have a life, make an impact on people, for the better I hoped, form a network, fulfil my potential. I wanted to stop having life pass me by…
Tomorrow evening I’ll continue my story, bringing it right up to the present day….