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Where Am I?

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Diane Hall By Diane Hall

Where am I?

It’s a question I’ve asked over the last few months, given changes in my life both personally and professionally.

It’s not a geographical query; my feet are firmly rooted in beautiful Yorkshire, and even though I may encounter new places and people all the time, there’s no place like home. I know where I am, physically.

But spiritually, well, things are a little different. I’m lost. I’ve forgotten how to pay attention to me and my needs. When they were younger, this wasn’t an issue; the children’s needs came first. However, now they’re old enough to look after themselves, it’s a different story.

Things got a little manic about six months ago and I took (read: was forced) to take stock of my life. ‘Mum!’ isn’t shouted in my home so much anymore, as my kids have their own social lives and circles, and don’t rely on me for absolutely everything. My husband has never needed me to look after him, but I admit, we’ve both been too busy over the last few years to be indulgent with any spare time we conjure up. I’m now free to be myself, but I don’t know who ‘I’ am.

Where do I want to go? What do I want out of my life, now that I’m able to explore anything and everything? What do I like doing – is it the same as when I was younger, single, and childless? Where do I turn for escapism nowadays? What are my views on the wider-reaching aspects of life, now my focus isn’t on those surrounding me? How does one let their hair down when it’s been tied up for so long?

Six months ago, I realised that, from getting out of bed to turning back into it, I didn’t spend any time on me, because it hadn’t been an option for so long. I’ve forgotten the art of how to please myself after spending so long pleasing others.

There’s no wonder I’ve forgotten what I liked doing two decades ago – unsurprisingly, I’ve changed since then. Motherhood changed me. Chasing my dreams and working for myself has changed me. Simply ageing has changed me. Hopefully, these changes have been for the better. I hope I’ve become wiser, more tolerant, more knowledgeable – a better person from the mistakes I may have made. I’m bound to feel a million miles away from the person I used to be.

I fully admit that the one thing working for yourself commonly fails to provide is camaraderie. That banter you have with your close colleagues. The things you’re able to share with them about your daily lives, knowing that – in most cases – what’s said in your office remains in your office.

I can’t talk about my feelings with clients. And though I have some great contacts in my network who I’m close to, they only know me in a business context, and therefore, they’re close to my professional side, and not necessarily the real me. Most of the men and women I meet through business have enough of their own problems without hearing mine.

Being so busy, and because people simply move on, I’m guilty of letting some close relationships slide, even ones within my own family. I used to enjoy ‘chewing the fat’, as we say in Yorkshire, with my sister, but we only see each other nowadays on kids’ birthdays and family events. I have a few friendships with fellow mums that were formed when my kids were little, and although we do still make the time to see each other – and it’s really fabulous when we do – it’s far less frequent than when we saw each other every day in the playground.

Given all the above, and all I’ve lost touch with, is there really any surprise that I’ve lost sight of the relationship I had with myself, too?!

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