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So we reached the end of our 10 week course and said so long rather than farewell as we exchanged emails and phone numbers all round. I hope to keep in touch with them as they’re a good bunch and I like them.

What have I learnt?

I had spent a year feeling stuck, feeling that although I have a vision of who I want to be (me, with bells on), I have no idea how to get there and nothing quite makes sense. I now feel that I have a bit of a road map.

I had doubted that making small changes, acting as if I did believe in them even when I didn’t, was the way forward. I’ve spent my life pretending to be someone different and it feels like I’m now having to pretend to be me in the hope that I’ll eventually work out that it is me. I think that makes sense. I have more confidence that I’m moving in the right direction.

In the same way I find it difficult to trust some of the big lifestyle choices I’ve made. Listening to people talk about work politics and the people they find difficult working with has made me think about my decision to work from home and not re-enter the formal workplace. I like to think I made it as a positive decision to compromise the need to be a  good parent and to earn a living as well as not feeling the need for a career. But on the other hand I can look at it and decide that it’s just running away from having to deal with people. Do I make choices because they’re the right choices or do I make them for self-protection? Can I have confidence in my decisions? This is one I am still struggling with.

I have been better at observing my behaviour and noticing that although I may not feel confident, I can act it; that I can stand up in meetings and express my opinions without worrying too much about what people say. I don’t feel comfortable doing it but I operate my “sod it” rule and do it anyway. I need to recognise this as evidence of real progress.

I have become more acceptant of the fact that this is a slow process and it will take time. I missed becoming me for my 40th, maybe I can achieve it for my 50th. Maybe I can learn to be mindful and practise it now rather than considering where I could be in a few years time.

Feeling the support and warmth of other people in similar positions, who have all shared their stories to greater or lesser degrees has been fantastic. I know I do have friends I can talk to, but the fact that eight total strangers can come together and meld so well and offer each other such great support is brilliant. We cheered and clapped people telling how they had stood up for themselves for the first time, or made real changes to their life. The positive vibes were genuinely amazing.

Where next?

I achieved my goals although the daily meditation is still a bit hit and miss.

Having completed my monthly exercise programme twice in the last term I’m feeling fitter and resisting the temptation I gave into last time of making it more intense or trying to complete it faster. No. I think I might add one dance period to that.

I want to re-read the mindfulness book over the Christmas holiday (along with lots of other books dammit!) and decide whether to look for another group course on that, or on compassion therapy which was also suggested as a way of learning to be kinder to yourself. I have some more links to look at. I could set as a goal to do one full body scan a week, knowing full well I find the idea silly and I have to deal with that.

I want to become less sarcastic. I cannot hide in humour, my father cured me of that but I do hide feelings in sarcasm. I take it too far and have on occasion hurt people I cared about because they took what I said seriously.

I’d like to re-read the books that our course followed and fill them in more. I find the actual filling in the details somewhat difficult and I’m not sure why.

I’m not setting goals for next half term yet as the holidays offer time for introspection and thought. I snigger at that thinking that actually I’ll have no peace and quiet at all over the next fortnight.

So yes.

It was definitely well worth it, for the emotional and verbal group hugs if nothing else. I learnt and have much to think on and to continue to learn.

Joie de Vivre