Ali is a Health and Happiness Coach working with highly purposeful people who have taken a life hit that has left them reeling, feeling vulnerable, powerless, rejected and lost. She helps them rediscover their self-esteem, confidence, drive and energy and ultimately, find their way out of a crisis to a life that is far more enriched, balanced and happier than it was before. Ali uses her signature 7 step framework – The Heal Yourself Happy Method – to help people navigate people through their journey of self-discovery to determine their own personalised prescription for healing and creating sustainable health and happiness – the ultimate success in life! Below she shares her love story.
Over to Ali.
Everyone has a story. My story is a love story. And as with every good love story, there is heartache, heart break, long nights of despair before the dawn of a new hope, the promise of new life and the journey of healing.
I hadn’t seen Vicki in 5 years when we were reunited at Castle Howard in October last year on Vicki’s second book tour date in York. When we’d last met, we were both speaking at the graduation of some wonderful children who had taken a course that I had been volunteer teaching as part of a scheme to empower young girls and encourage them to go to university.
I was an IT Management Consultant at the time, looking back, full of ego and confidence, charging 4 figures a day for my expertise in the world of retailing and ‘Multichannel’ as it was known back then. I was married to the love of my life, had been together for 20 years, we had two amazing sons, lived in a beautiful home and had a vibrant social life. On the outside, we were the ‘perfect’ couple and family.
At the time, I had no idea of the battles my husband was going through, how he felt trapped by his ‘good boy’ label. I had no idea that I was living a lie.
Looking back now, I can accept everything that happened and have made peace with the past. For it led me here. And here I am sat, in our dream family home, in my blue spotty chair, the dog looking out of the big picture windows, doing what I love – writing and feeling totally at peace with who I am, feeling loved, supported and appreciated.
I realise now that my first life had to be obliterated so that I could live my authentic life.
I can still conjure up the pain and hurt, the anger, the disgust, the hatred and the completely overwhelming shame for being so stupid and gullible that had me floored to rock bottom. I can still recall how I moved through life in a zombie state of disbelief only doing what needed to be done to keep my children safe and healthy. I was diagnosed with clinical depression, insomnia, an eating disorder that left me scarily underweight and PTSD from the events that revealed the extent to which I had been the ignorant fool in my marriage.
Without really knowing what to do in this situation, I turned to my GP; he offered me all sorts of antidepressants but I knew that I wasn’t going to find happiness or my lost soul in a pill.
My Mum had died suddenly 6 months earlier so I had been indoctrinated in grief already that year and had determined many coping mechanisms that worked for me, meditation being one of them, living fully in the present without any thought of the past or the future. Running to take away the pain in my heart and move it to my legs and lungs and to make sure I was feeling, not numbing my emotions. I learnt how to eat properly, to nourish my body and preserve longevity and prevent the Alzheimer’s that runs in our family.
And I wrote. I wrote daily and publicly in a blog called thealisandwiches.com from the day my Mum was escorted by the police to a mental hospital, sharing my feelings, what I was reading, learning and how I was implementing the coping mechanisms into my life.
I had lived through loss once, the incredible loss of losing my glamorous, complicated Mumbo and I knew I could do it again. While I could never bring my Mum back or find a replacement, I knew I could rebuild my life and replace the one I had lost. I knew I could find my happy soul, she just needed to know it was safe to come out again.
I had lost love in so many ways in a short space of time: the unconditional love of a mother, the adoring love from a husband, but most importantly, I had lost the love, respect and trust of myself.
And that is where I knew I had to start. I had to fall back in love with myself in order to heal my shattered heart and open wounds. I had to find my self-esteem, my self worth and know I was loveable, worthy of love and that I was enough. I needed to find my authentic self and get in touch with her, build her up so she could rise from the ashes of this life and shine for the next.
My Dad had been through a similar experience and a huge inspiration to me. He quietly and confidently told me that I would be OK, that I was a ‘Brooks’ (my maiden name) and, ‘that muck was always thrown on roses and that I would rise up through the sh*t as the most beautiful of them all.’ He really did say that to me.
We separated for 5 months. It was a lonely time for us all and devastating to watch my sons cry and not understand. But it was also a time of growth. My husband grew in character and humility and he backed up every word of remorse with action to prove he was worthy of my trust and forgiveness. He allowed me space and took every ounce of abuse I threw at him and he is a stronger and better man for it.
I did the inner work to find out who I was and what I wanted from life. Perhaps we had both been trapped by the expectations of us, by our parents, by society and culture. This shattering of our lives gave us both the opportunity to recreate something that was more authentic and meaningful to us. We had a blank page and we ripped up the rule book and started again from scratch.
Our marriage counsellor said that we must have some kind of ‘super glue’ that meant that we were able to stay together despite it all. I think she meant we had strong foundations. We had a relationship built on love at the core. We knew we had to build our new life based on those principles but also allow it to be the very cement to hold the rest of it together.
My teachers through this time Marianne Williamson, Dr Wayne Dyer, Gabrielle Bernstein and Eckhart Tolle all talk of miracles: a miracle is when you are able to shift your perspective from fear to one of love. When you can trust in the Universe that everything happens for a reason and that the art is to find the lesson in every experience, no matter how disappointing or painful.
I have learnt so many lessons in the last 3 years, through my own journey of healing and self discovery. I feel that I am still constantly learning and wouldn’t want it any other way.
Today, as I write, is the first time we are recognising the day as our wedding anniversary in 3 years. And it feels right. It feels good.
I now know that hearts can heal. Betrayals can be forgiven. Trust can be found. Lives can be rebuilt. And miracles can happen.