My name is Emily
I’M THE FOUNDER OF RECONNECTED LIFE
Who am I?
IT’S A QUESTION I’VE ASKED MYSELF MANY TIMES.
I’m just like everyone else: I work hard, I enjoy spending time with my friends, I love curling up on my sofa binge-watching too many US TV dramas and I have a long-held passion for helping people. I’m enjoying life, and enjoying building my life.
But I haven’t always been this way.
BACK IN 2008, PEOPLE THOUGHT THEY KNEW ME.
I was quirky, non-conformist, outwardly confident; the kind friend offering support; the corporate career woman who told it straight.
They couldn’t see the survivor battling away underneath.
Some of them knew I’d been raped, some even knew I struggled sometimes, but they didn’t really understand.
They didn’t see the pain, the self hatred, the suffocation.
Every single day.
I was shattered, both mentally and physically. For over six years I struggled with PTSD. I had nightmares, panic attacks. I rarely slept through the night. I felt that there was no way out of the abyss.
I spent a lot of time feeling out of control and on edge. I became hyper-vigilant. So I self-medicated: alcohol, drugs, food, sex, cutting – you name it. Anything to numb my brain to the constant noise. Break the cycle.
I even planned my own death.
ALL THE WHILE I TOLD THE WORLD I WAS FINE.
And all the while that I told the world that I was fine, I was coping, I was hiding panic attacks from work colleagues and the desperation to numb myself to the pain, every day. I worked ridiculous hours, then went home and slept all weekend from the sheer exhaustion of wearing a mask all week.
Over time, some things started to fall into place but I still had an overwhelming feeling of emptiness inside that I just couldn’t seem to shift.
I told myself that this was just the way my life was from now on.
I was coping. I was treading water. I thought this was the best it could get.
AND THEN IT ALL FELL APART.
When you’re spinning so many plates, it’s inevitable that they will come crashing down sooner or later. Losing myself in work, working 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week; anyone would be at risk of losing their grip. Add PTSD and it’s no surprise it happened to me. I had a breakdown.
It was the catalyst that changed everything.
I realised that I hadn’t been coping, that was a convenient lie.
I went back to therapy. I was referred to a psychiatrist.
TWO YEARS LATER, I WAS DECLARED ‘CURED’.
And it’s true, I haven’t had a panic attack since.
With the apparent cure in place, I remained totally frustrated that I still didn’t feel ‘right’, I didn’t feel like I ‘belonged’ in the world, I still felt ‘broken’ and ‘fragile’. I didn’t trust my cure, I didn’t feel connected to anyone or anything, not even myself.
I was supposedly cured, but I still felt broken, fragile and disconnected.
Again, I thought this is just the way life is going to be. One day at a time. Surviving. Better than before, because no panic attacks, but still, not whole, not really living. Surviving.
At about the same time as being discharged from psychiatric treatment, I took voluntary redundancy and started my own business. As part of that, I wanted to add coaching, so became qualified, adding the NLP toolset along the way. What I found was, that in learning how to help other people, I was actually also learning how to help myself. I was learning how to start to feel connected to the world, to dreams, to future plans, to me, again.
I was feeling empowered, the kind that comes from within, and isn’t found at the bottom of a bottle of wine.
MY BODY LAGGED BEHIND.
My mind was ready; my body was not. It seemed to want to stay in the hyper/hypo yoyo, it wanted to sleep and collapse after any minor excitement. It was becoming my Achilles heel, and I resented it more than ever, holding me back, preventing me from doing everything my head now said I could.
Then, one evening, completely unexpectedly, something clicked. I was at a women’s retreat, the kind where you do lots of intensive & challenging internal personal work, not the kind where you have face masks and massages. It was an exercise in connecting with our inner vitality, our inner soul animal. I watched everyone connecting with tigers, lions, dancing, moving. And yet I was trapped, I couldn’t move; I was locked, frozen, in position. The tears started rolling down my face. I realised: I hadn’t forgiven my body for what had happened to me.
MY MIND AND BODY WERE COMPLETELY DISCONNECTED.
Up until now, I’d been dealing with symptoms and trying to control conscious thought. And although this had undoubtedly saved my life, what I really needed to do now, was make peace with my body and start living as a whole human being again.
I’d found the missing piece to my recovery.
I have been working hard ever since, slowly reconnecting my mind with my body, my body with my mind.
SO WHAT NEXT?
It was staring me in the face for months. All the training I’d done, the skills I now had to help others, the fact that I’d survived something so utterly brutal.
But although I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, I didn’t want to make rape the focus of my life. I didn’t want to be defined by that one, devastating event.
I’d spent years and thousands of pounds trying to make sense of it all, trying to feel whole again. I knew the coaching skills combined with my real-life experience of different therapies and my own recovery could be a powerful combination to help others. But I didn’t want to.
And then I met Deborah
DEBORAH IS A RAPE SURVIVOR WHO WAS BRAVE ENOUGH TO TELL ME HER STORY.
She had no access to help and was on a waiting list for therapy. She’d lost friends, struggled with work and felt completely isolated. It broke my heart.
AND UNFORTUNATELY HER STORY IS NOT UNIQUE.
I spoke to other rape survivors and found that they all felt the same disconnect that I did. The same hopelessness. They too felt that coping was enough. Getting through the day was just about as good as it gets.
I DECIDED I HAD TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
I started to share my strategies and knowledge, gradually helping others to re-connect the dots in their minds.
They began to make profound changes, which previously they felt were impossible. I loved the feeling of being able to have an instant, positive impact on someone else’s life.
Everything slowly started to make sense.
I realised that my life did have a purpose, and that I couldn’t possibly leave these women to struggle alone.
Finally I had something to fight for. Something to live for.
TODAY, I NO LONGER SEE MYSELF AS A RAPE SURVIVOR.
Because to survive is to struggle. To fight, every day.
I’m more than that. My life is blossoming. I feel revived. I can see light pouring into the cracks and drowning out the shadows.
Of course, there are still occasional dark times, dark thoughts. Moments of despair. But I know that they will pass. And that’s more than good enough for me. They serve as a handy reminder of just how far I’ve come.
But the greatest pleasure for me, comes from knowing that one day, you will feel this way too.
IT GETS BETTER
My story of life after rape
When every day is a fight for survival, it’s hard to believe that things can actually get better.
Hope is a very powerful drug; we need more of it to bolster our recoveries.
My hope is that my personal story will give you hope, that your life will get better too.
ARE YOU READY TO STOP SURVIVING AND START LIVING?
I developed the ReConnected Life Experience to help people just like you move from a place of self-blame and disconnection to a place where they can look forward to what the future holds, with a happy, hopeful heart.