This is a much overdue, (and possibly final) post for BlobbyJogger. Maybe…
It is actually an email that had been sitting in my drafts in various forms for a quite a while, for various reasons but I hadn’t sent it… that was until a few months ago when I moved from London to LA. It’s kind of a ‘full stop, new paragraph…’ for me. Hopefully you’ll understand why I decided to finally post it here.
September 9th 2012. I sat in a beige meeting room in a hotel in Florida with a bunch of strangers, tried to introduced myself, and had a panic attack just saying my name.
I’m not sure how often you get to hear “you changed my life”? I’m guessing quite a lot… But I was wondering if you knew how the work you do truly changes lives years later?
I was pretty much at rock bottom back then. I had a successful job, but I had no ‘life’. I didn’t go out, couldn’t talk to people, had panic attacks and was physically sick pretty much every time I left my house, and even sometimes at work. Many hours were spent locked in toilets taking deep breaths and trying to get my heart rate under control. I felt trapped, utterly miserable and lost from the world. I stood outside a pub in the pouring rain without an umbrella for two hours once, waiting for a friend to turn up, too petrified to go inside on my own. My face was covered in as many tears as it was raindrops.
Life changed when, on 5th October 2011, I picked up a copy of the Daily Mail that someone had left on the bus, and in it there was an article that for some reason struck a chord. It wasn’t really the piece about the amazingly hot dating ‘guru’ that caught my eye (OK it was, but let’s just brush over that) but the underlying confidence element of what was written that really made me take notice. It took me a while to pluck up the courage, but on Saturday February 11th 2012, I went along to the 3hr Secrets of Attraction seminar. I had two panic attacks while I was there. I still don’t know what got me to sign up to attend the Women’s Weekend one month later, but something inside me knew I should. I had 5 panic attacks during that weekend. Horrible, awful, world disappearing, sinking into a black hole attacks. I nearly didn’t come back for the 2nd day, but I’m glad I did , because that’s when I found out about The Retreat. And that was the piece of the jigsaw I knew I needed. Not wanted. Needed. I can still hear Steve’s voice on the phone a few days later going through my application, saying that that word, ‘needed’, was what had caught his eye, and that yes, I would be coming to Florida. I remember bursting into tears with relief.
The week in Florida you obviously know about. It was incredible, and the start of an amazing journey for me. I didn’t tell anyone at the time, but I made a promise to myself on the final day – from that day on, I would talk to anyone and everyone about anything… I was no longer going to hide, shy away, or fade into the background. I knew it would take a lot of work, letting out that person I had been hiding away for so long, but I was going to try. I figured, if people liked me – great, if not – it really didn’t matter. But, no more worries, no more missed opportunities, no more sadness about the life I wasn’t living. No more nothings. I’m proud to say I’ve kept that promise and have had some truly awesome conversations with some incredible people. One of those conversations led to me finally plucking up the courage to fulfil a dream I’ve had since I was 13.
With those skills you shared with us in Florida, I busted a gut to do even better at work, to ask for promotions, to turn down the jobs I didn’t want, and go after the big projects I did. I had the courage to ask lots of lovely high powered people to write letters of recommendation for me, had the confidence to stand in front of 500+ and give speeches, but beyond all that, I started living. I was going out, having fun, laughing, trying new things, learning new stuff, dating lots of guys (something I never thought I would do) and simply said yes to pretty much every invitation that came my way (as well as a few I should have turned down) but I didn’t care. No more waiting…
My friends obviously noticed the changes too. They got to see the person they loved and cared for, bloom in front of their eyes. I met new people, did new things, and grew happier and more confident each and every day. If I didn’t like the way my route was going, I did something to change it. I have enjoyed many incredibly happy times and a few great sorrows along the way, but I’ve stood up to every challenge put in front of me. I did lose a couple of friends during this time – they didn’t like, or perhaps just didn’t understand, the new happy me. I have mourned their friendship, but wish them well on their journey as I carry on with mine. One friend that lived overseas for 3 years saw me last summer and asked what I’d done, as I looked so much ‘brighter’!
Of course at my heart and core, I’m still ‘me’ – you didn’t give me a personality transplant… You gave me something so much better. You gave me the ability to recognize and accept that I already had the power, the confidence and the skills I needed within me. That I was the one able to change my life to how I’d always thought I should be living. That I could do the things I always thought I should be doing. That to be laughing and joking, and just having an absolute ball as each second passed by was all there for the taking. You shared those skills, that information, and your knowledge – and what a gift it has been. Last year alone I worked on my dream project, took a holiday for the first time in 8 years, was kissed senseless by an incredibly cute guy in the rain, and laughed, and danced, and drank champagne, and enjoyed every single day. I can’t tell you how amazing and different my life is now.
But the best bit, and this is really the thing you need to know for this whole email to make sense – I haven’t had a panic attack in 3 years, 7 months, and 20 days. And before you get your calendar to work out when that was – the last one was on the morning of September 9th 2012. The moment I tried to introduce myself on the first day of The Retreat.
That’s 3 years, 7 months, and 20 days of living, loving and just being happy.
OK, so why has this landed in your inbox today? Well, because it felt like the right time to let you know what those five day in Florida did for me, and have continued to do every day since. And because I’m now 10 days into my next chapter.
Last week I moved to LA and am getting to live that dream I’ve had since I was 13. Just me, a couple of suitcases, and a smile. I have absolutely no idea where this road I’ve chosen is going to take me, but I know I’m going to have the best time finding out! So, if I see you around town, I’m definitely going to come over to say hello, and look forward to a giant Hussey Hug – after all, it’s been 3 years, 7 months and 15 days since the last one – I think I’m overdue!
Yes, this email was to Matthew Hussey and his amazing team. It was sent in April 2016 when I had just settled into my tiny apartment in a city I’d dreamed of living in for all those years. It genuinely had been in various draft forms for several months, until I finally sent it – partly because I wanted the Retreat team to know just how they had helped me nearly 4 years later, and to thank them for the incredible work they continue to do for hundreds of other people, but also to gently and graciously close the book on a chapter of my life that is now so far removed from the much happier, grateful life I lead today.
Everything I’ve ever posted on BlobbyJogger has been very personal, a part of my journey, and an insight into the struggles and the joys I’ve had. From the sometimes crippling panic attacks, to trying to run for 30mins without stopping. Doing my ’40 for 40′ challenges, to completing a full 26.2 mile Marathon in a decorated bra. And of course, attending the Retreat. I honestly wrote these posts for no-one other than myself, only deciding to put them out in the world as somehow that made them more real, gave me the impetus to keep going, to keep trying, to keep improving. And to my continued surprise and astonishment, I’ve received hundreds of wonderful comments and emails from perfect strangers along the way, some asking questions, most cheering me on, and I have absolutely loved reading every single one. Even now, some 4 years later, Five Days Of Summer continues to receive beautiful comments and questions from people searching for information about The Retreat. I hope in some small way I’ve helped.
But it is now time for me to take on that ‘full stop, new paragraph…’ and make the next part of this crazy journey I’m on even better, and more incredible than the one that person sat in a beige conference room just 4 years ago could ever have imagined.
Oh, and for those that are wondering, yes Matthew saw the email, and much to my incredible surprise and delight, I was hugely honored and extremely lucky to spend a little time with him recently, and was finally able to thank him in person.
And I got my Hussey Hug. Probably the best one ever, as this time I was able to hug him right back!
Full stop. New paragraph…