I am back and ready to coach

I have not really been available for coaching for a few months. My Mum’s death had taken a lot out of me, and I just wasn’t in the right space to coach outside of my day job. I just did not have the bandwidth to provide support to people in my day job and then do it when I got home. I needed to practice what I preach and create the right balance.

Recognising that I needed that I needed to rest and allow myself to grieve and recover was an incredibly painful process. The emotions I had been feeling since Mum’s death in August last year were, quite frankly confusing and distressing in equal measure. I felt that I had done all the right things to deal with my emotions therefore I should have recovered quicker than I was. After my birthday in March I thought that I had reached all the milestones so I could leave the feelings of grief behind and carry on my life. That seemed perfectly reasonable and a normal thing to do. Far from it, my emotional pain intensified, what I was experiencing was worse than what I had felt after Mum had died. I just could not concentrate on anything, I was getting flashbacks to the last few weeks of her life. I was terrified that if I stopped feeling the pain that I would forget her. My emotions were all over the place. I felt guilty that I had hated the last month of Mum’s life, guilty that I felt trapped and duty bound to care for her. I didn’t want to say goodbye to her, I found it impossible to contemplate that I was never going to speak to her and hold her hand ever again. I felt shame that I was still feeling this way months after Mum’s passing. Men just don’t behave this way (I know this is not true, but the toxic masculine narrative is a strong one to shake)!

With all this happening my bandwidth had narrowed significantly, fulfilling my role at work was challenging enough, so the prospect of coaching anyone or writing anything meaningful outside of work was impossible. Thankfully our Occupational Health department has a counselling service. I was able to access this quickly (within a few weeks of the referral). It was the tonic I needed. Talking to an expert, that has all the qualities required for a highly effective helping professional was exactly what I needed. She gave me the space to talk and think, liberally scattering empathy and metaphors to provoke deeper conversation. I don’t think I have ever bared my soul quite as much as I have in these sessions. I have been able to look at that last month of Mum’s life through a different lens, a more helpful one. It was incredibly difficult, and at times it was extremely distressing, but it was tender and full of love all the time. Now I am proud of what I did during that month, being courageous to help my sister care for Mum, to be able to share Mum’s last few weeks with her, and show her how loved she is. By doing this I have been able to make space in my mind for my Mum to live. I imagine my mind is my home, full of rooms that represent important parts of my life, such as work, friends, family, coaching and so on. After Mum’s death her memory was appearing in all the different rooms in my house, making a mess and distracting me. She had her own room but that was full of the difficult memories of her last month. Now I have redecorated it and re-furnished it with all the loving helpful memories of Mum, not just happy memories, but memories that remind me of the love I feel for her. Her room is a comforting place to be now, so she is happy to be in there, and when I miss her I can go and sit with her for a while, feel sad, shed a tear and then go back to my life.

Now I have sorted out the living arrangements in my mind I am ready to start doing what I love and start coaching and writing again. The house metaphor is a really useful one to use when life gets complicated, and stuff starts to spill out of one room into another. Having your own Marie Kondo to help you declutter is essential. Get in touch if you want support sorting through your cluttered mind.


Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

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