When coaching becomes so much more…
I started working with Rebecca at the end of the summer of 2020. I had been working for five years in a highly stressful and traumatic environment, teaching students with Special Educational Needs. Pupils were mostly teenage boys who were often angry, abusive and violent. Each day was unpredictable and incredibly stressful.
Family members had repeatedly expressed (increasing) concerns that I needed to get out and find a different job, but I didn’t want to be yet another person who had walked away from these challenging children. I fobbed friends and family off with promises to sort things out soon, but secretly I honestly thought I was strong enough to cope and that things would somehow get better if I just tried harder and kept going.
Increasingly drained by the job, plus the frantic pace of life outside work, I was trying to be perfect on all fronts — juggling home, my own family’s needs and the increasingly manic social whirl I created in order to escape thoughts about what had happened at work that week. I was too exhausted and stressed out to think straight or see any way out of a situation which, with hindsight was rapidly destroying my mental health.
The pandemic hit and we went into Lockdown. We were working remotely but I was cut off from my usual coping strategies — my over packed diary was suddenly empty and I suddenly had some space to reflect. Being asked, yet again, what I had actually done to keep my promise about leaving my job, I suddenly saw a post in a Facebook Group from another middle aged lady expressing that she was looking to leave a stressful job and find a new career and asking if anyone in the group could suggest someone she could talk to. Several members separately named Rebecca stating that she was kind and supportive and it felt like a sign, so I decided to finally do something and booked an appointment with her.
I was in such a state by this point and I didn’t really have a clue what good this would do me. In addition, asking for help was utterly alien to me, but something deep inside me recognised that I couldn’t go on in the same way anymore.
By the time the appointment came round, the years of stress had finally taken their toll and I was at the start of what I later came to recognise was a nervous breakdown as a result of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). I used the last shred of my strength to keep the appointment with Rebecca when everything inside me was screaming that I should cancel and I am so incredibly thankful that I did.
Instead of being able to present myself in my usual calm, upbeat and sensible way, poor Rebecca was confronted at our initial meeting with a tearful, broken and incoherent woman at the very end of her tether and on the verge of collapse. I wouldn’t have blamed her in the slightest for walking away and saying that she couldn’t help me, but if she had done so, the fact that I had finally found the courage to reach out to someone, would have meant that rejection would have had a disproportionately devastating effect on me.
I will always be eternally grateful that, instead, Rebecca was non-judgemental, supportive and calm. She listened to me babble on and then said that she believed that she could help me and that she would like to work with me. Her words and kindness were a lifeline and over the coming months and seeing her each week was like a ray of light through the darkness.
In the early sessions I was incredibly fragile, often distressed and tearful. I was way out of my comfort zone talking to anyone, especially a stranger about what was really going on with me, having previously been someone who prided themselves on being strong and independent (which, with hindsight, was a huge part of my problems).
Rebecca was always kind and supportive. She created a safe space for me where I could show up in whatever state I was in and receive whatever it was that I needed. She allowed me to see that it was OK to be open and to share what was really happening, giving me a place to release my innermost thoughts and feelings and I quickly realised that I could trust that they would be heard with compassion and wisdom.
On days when I felt stronger, Rebecca gently pushed and encouraged me through things that I found challenging or uncomfortable because she recognised that I needed to work through them. Other sessions where I was too exhausted or vulnerable, she switched to nurturing, encouraging or healing strategies. She used a variety of techniques and approaches but applied each using love and care to calmly guide me through my darkest days.
A few months after our initial meeting, having been properly diagnosed, I started seeing a clinical psychologist, but Rebecca’s sessions were so special that I decided to continue working with her in addition to the therapy. Rebecca brought a different skill set but I recognised that she was just as vital to me being able, not only recover from what had happened to me but, to build something better and different for the future.
Rebecca worked with me for just over a year gradually rebuilding my confidence and self esteem and changing the way I saw myself and what I was capable of. Eventually I felt strong enough to start taking steps to re-enter the world again but in a different, healthier way than before. I recently enrolled on a Professional Gardening course and have started taking on work redesigning and maintaining gardens in my local area. I have always loved gardening and have set up and design gardens for family members over the last thirty years but I would never have had the courage or confidence to think I could do it as a business if it wasn’t for Rebecca. The work is creative and satisfying and I feel happier than I have done for years. Although I am not fully recovered yet, I am continuing to make great progress and I am drawn forward by the vision of the happier and healthier future I see ahead of me now that I am working to shed the toxic and unhelpful baggage of the past.
I recognise that my circumstances were highly unusual and extreme, but I would say that if Rebecca is able to help someone through such an intense experience then she is capable of helping anyone! I will always be eternally grateful for the coaching, care and support Rebecca gave me through one of the most difficult years of my life and I sincerely credit her with playing a large part in my subsequent recovery. I don’t have sufficient words to express my gratitude at being returned to my family and friends in a better shape than I was — or ever was before and I can only say that our sessions were not only life enhancing, but literally life saving.
Thank you so much Rebecca.
Lorna, Coaching Client