Endometriosis, Winston Churchill & a healing ballet dancer.
Updated: Jan 16, 2020
My goodness, 2020 already? It seems only yesterday that 2019 was newly upon us, yet so much has changed in the mean time.
This time last year I was a professional showgirl, dancing across the stage in my dream role. I had no idea this time last year that my whole life would spin out of my control due to my health, or that this would be my last performing contract.
In February of 2019 I was taken ill with indescribable abdominal pain. The same pain I had suffered with on and off for 15 years. Unknown at the time, I had a severe case of undiagnosed endometriosis and a large cyst growing on my ovaries.
Unfortunately, the NHS could not offer me the operation I needed to remove the cyst and the endometriosis tissues that were sticking my organs together. I was forced to turn to crowdfunding and selling my belongings to get the help I needed.
Hundreds of kind friends, family and members of the public stepped forward together to help fund my operation. Gratitude isn't a strong enough word for how I felt to realise I would be able to have the surgery I needed.
While in recovery, I found myself in a new position of freedom. I was liberated from the pressure I had been placing on myself to keep up to a certain standard of body image. Showgirl life is a hungry life, indeed. I had also now had met my incredible boyfriend, who had jumped in to support me endlessly despite the fact we had only met a few months prior.
Was I ready to finally do what I had planned all these years, taking Living Liberté full time?
My head was filled with doubt about whether I could develop my part time passion into something that could make social impact.
I made the choice with Richard to hit the road in the van home he had built, embracing the changes happening in our lives. We let go of our anchors and rolled our way through France and Spain before arriving in Portugal. I continued to heal, stopping myself from overtraining while we travelled. Dance training mentality is a hard habit to break, as I discovered!
A year on, my body is almost healed and my mentality has shifted positively also. Richard and I have settled into slow Portuguese life while we work on our projects which has made me so happy.
Last June I applied for funding to support my relationship education programme ideas - including a travel fellowship from the incredible Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. I proposed travels to USA and New Zealand to research how these countries are leading the way in relationship education.
When I applied I didn't think further than the fact that I had enjoyed the process of applying, which had helped me refine my ideas. I was utterly shocked to find out that I had been shortlisted for interview from thousands!
Last week I found myself sitting in the waiting room of WCMT with my heart pounding. I had been told that in a few short minutes I would be going in to meet the panel of experts who would be conducting my interview. I have faced many frightening experiences, but this one seemed even to me to be impossible.
What if they saw through me, and discovered how terrified I felt? What if I forgot the 5 minute pitch I had spent months preparing? If you're at all familiar with the incredible work of Brené Brown then you might be familiar with this moment of vulnerability.
The thing was, as soon as I walked into the room, I knew I was in the right place. Not only were the panel incredibly supportive but I felt a wave of recognition for what I was there for.
I was in that room to share the story that had lead me to that moment. I was proposing to develop the journey I have been on for 8 years in order to stop other young people going through the abuse I did. I was there to share our community story.
No matter the outcome of the interview next month, I know I am where I need to be. Not just geographically, but because I know I am working on something that I truly believe in. I am doing this for the young people of the future. That's all I need to know.
I don't have a magical recipe of bravery, nor how to go about the unbelievable. I am still learning, as we all are. But I believe in the potential of humans to make positive change in the world - and for now, that's enough.
Thank-you for joining me here. It's been lovely to return to my old style of writing, straight from the heart! It's a privilege to share this ongoing journey with you.