This is going to be long and a very vulnerable blog for me, I am finally talking about things I have hidden, but I feel are very relevant to the coach I am today and how I am able to help other women like myself. You see, it’s not until you’re completely honest, completely open to showing people who you are, that you can actually show you’ve overcome these things yourself.
I’ll start with something I have said many times, that being a mum is the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me. I genuinely believe I’m a great mum and I can say that with huge confidence. Do I get things wrong sometimes? ABSOLUTELY? Who doesn’t? As parents, we do the best we can. That doesn’t however, take away the fact it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And if you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you’ve been through a similar experience and are possibly still struggling to find your identity and path in life again.
This is exactly what happened to me.
Meeting the man of my dreams and having a baby at 39, was not something I thought would happen. I was selfish, always striving for more in life. I had chased a career and loved to travel and experience new things, having children wasn’t part of my plan up until then. However, when it happened, we were over the moon and knew it was right for us. You see, I’d always been very self-aware and no relationship I had previously made me feel like I wanted to start a family. I was very good at trusting my instinct and things never aligned or made me feel I wanted to change my life and include children, until then.
I knew nothing about having children, all my friends children were grown up, I had no clue what I was doing and stupidly thought I could just slip back into my normal, busy life and she would just fit in. Boy, was I wrong. Going back to work within my business 3 weeks after having her was a huge mistake, pushing myself to get back to that ‘success’ quickly was a big mistake and not opening up or asking for help, going it alone too was a big mistake.
There is a reason we have maternity leave, there is a reason the mother and baby classes are encouraged to help support mum too, well mums who don’t just turn up and rush off to work, while the others sit, chat, have a cuppa and open up to one another.
Yes, basically I had my own plan and ignored the things that would have helped me.
Our little girl didn’t sleep for 9 months, and I mean she didn’t sleep, due to milk intolerance and reflux, and as I’m sure many of you are aware that sleep deprivation is a killer, in fact it was used during the war as a torture and I can confirm that it is. This lack of sleep triggered the depression I had suffered with for years, I also went way down below my normal weight and struggled both mentally and physically.
My little girl was born in the January 2018 and by November I was completely burnt out. I had severe brain fog and could barely run my business, my gym, my passion, my love. Something I had created with my mum that had been our whole life for the previous 12 years. So, I made the quick, rash decision to sell it, feeling like I couldn’t cope with that and motherhood right then and needed an out to focus on me and my baby.
I took 2 years out to be a mum and loved every minute of it, but still didn’t really feel much better mentally and definitely hadn’t found my identity. I was very insecure, had zero self-esteem, felt ‘lost’ and as much as I hate that word as a coach, that’s the exact way I felt. Like I didn’t know who I was anymore, like I had nothing of myself left, no direction, no goals, no career just being a mum. Which, before you judge me is absolutely amazing as it’s the best job I’d ever had, but come on in reality we all need more, we all need to ensure we are keeping some of our own personal dreams and goals alive too, to feel alive, to feel a sense of purpose.
I had gone from running my own gym, having 2 at one point, one in Spain too. I spoke on the radio weekly about my passion and experience in the wellness space, helping support others. I had created a family like environment in my gyms and helped hundreds if not thousands of women feel and look better. I had a health and fitness show on local TV, Swansea Bay TV and I was a massive part of my community organising and taking part in events and doing a lot of charity work. And going from all this to just being a mum and not having my own identity hit me hard.
So, the time came, where I realised, I had to do something to occupy my time and have a break from being a mum. I also had zero income coming in and for the first time in my life, was reliant on a man, my husband for money and that was another thing that made me feel even more rubbish.
I was still exercising, as it was always a massive part of my life, but my workouts were nowhere near what they should have been and I was just surviving, eating rubbish often as my stress, lack of sleep, depression took over.
I wouldn’t go out far anymore, nights out killed me due to already feeling exhausted. I changed my clothes style or actually didn’t even know my style anymore. I felt I didn’t look right in my old clothes, so wore things that really weren’t me and which actually made me feel worse about myself.
I was in a negative cycle and didn’t know how to get out. I reached out to my good friend and old life coach for help, because you see, as much as I had all these qualifications too, the experience and success helping others, I couldn’t’ help myself.
I started to do a lot of work on myself and in a year, I was back coaching clients, but online by now and some personal training clients from home, but I wasn’t quite getting the clients I wanted and needed and I wasn’t feeling the passion and love I felt for what I did when I had my gyms. finally realised I needed to look for a part time job financially and to give me some time to myself, a break from being mummy, a start to hopefully discover a new identity and thrive again.
This was another obstacle, as I was embarrassed that my new coaching business wasn’t booming. I was seeing other people online doing amazing and I was missing something. I just wasn’t getting it right and this kept me feeling shit. So, I got a job in a gym as a personal trainer a good way from my house, so no one would know me and no one I did know would judge me for taking a job after being so successful in my own business. Yep, that silly feeling of being judged, of going from top to crashing to the bottom, of being a failure!
I swallowed my pride and got on with the job, being a Shaddow of my former self, feeling like I had lost all my knowledge, all I’d ever learnt and like I was starting again. I massively lacked confidence, so much so that I just kept my head down and no one knew the real me. This is actually the first time I have spoken about this job publicly, as I have always kept it quiet, why? Because I felt like a failure, I was on a lot less money than I had been for a long time and just blended into the backgrounds, where honestly, I wasn’t used to being. Having run my own businesses and being a success, having been well known in my community, this to me was a massive step backwards at that time with how I felt mentally.
Little did I realise, that this was actually the best thing I could have done and in fact looking back now, this job, the lovely people I worked with all gave me a chance to do exactly what it was meant for, give me the break I needed away from home, socialising, chatting and ultimately bringing some money in too, so I could have a little of my own independence back and stop relying on my husband. All of which helped me eventually rebuild my confidence, especially once I took on a role there, that was totally meant for me and allowed me to shine again.
Fast forward to 2023 and I had by now spent money and time on coaches, additional learning including becoming an NLP practitioner and I was finally heading forward and feeling good about myself and my purpose again. I became a champion for the maternal mental health alliance and I had spoken in many businesses about mental and physical wellbeing and highlighted the fact that both parents need support returning to work after having children. You see I had been the example of the change I wanted to make again here, just like when I opened my female only gyms after having a car accident, to support women who felt intimidated going to a normal gym, as I did back then.
As my own personal development journey was ongoing, I realised that I had always drawn to me, women like myself, women who felt they had lost their identity and were hiding in the shadows not living their best life. This had happened to me after my car accident in 2002, that’s why I created my supportive ladies only gym and again in 2018.
So the journey I had taken, meant I had the experience as well as coaching expertise to help others through this shitty time.
You see, when you become a mum, this precious little bundle is your everything and it can be very hard to navigate the rest of life around this. You are in awe of this little baby and you want to give it your all, but at the risk of losing parts of yourself. I wonder how many women actually get that balance right early on? If that was you, then I’d love to hear your story, how you did it and I genuinely think you’re amazing for doing so.
For me that didn’t happen and being an older mum, who knew nothing about children, I lived in constant self doubt, feeling that I was doing everything wrong, that I wasn’t good enough, that people were judging me. Even when school started, I stood there with the other mums, many of which were at least 10 years younger than me, again feeling like I didn’t fit in and for the past 6 years, I have felt this way a lot. Therefore, I know how vitally important it is to gain self awareness, to find your tribe, to stay in your lane, to just do you!
It took me a few years to feel like a new version of myself again, to not care what others thought or said (even though they probably didn’t) to wear the clothes I like again, to be my crazy, fun self again, without fear of being judged. You see that fear we hold is only internal and very often the judging is not happening. When we are at a low point though we don’t see clearly, we often protect ourselves from the possibility of being hurt, when in reality we are hurting ourselves.
I am so passionate about helping other women move away from this feeling, that even when things got tough and I felt like I’d have to give up on my passion of helping others, on my business on the thing I loved, my own story kept dragging me back. You see for me, I genuinely feel that we all deserve the best life possible. We deserve to be happy and feel good all of the time. There is nothing worse than feeling shit about yourself, about feeling like you don’t fit in, like no one likes you, like you have no idea how to ever be happy about yourself again.
I have spoke about my maternal mental health journey for the Prince and Princess of Wales, Kensington Palace platforms, with the hope to help other parents going through similar. You can check that out here
I want to help every women who feels this way!
I want to help you!
Love, honesty and authenticity
Emma Jay xx