renee davisFor the background on why I’m publishing my self-help book Become the Best You here on the blog, please read this article. Should you wish to purchase a copy of the book, you can do so here. 

A little bit about me, Renee Davis

I was mostly ‘dragged up’. After her own unhappy childhood, my mother had a baby (me) aged 18 because she wanted someone to love her. By the time she was 25, she had three kids. I had a different father to my siblings but she felt it was best to tell me their dad was also mine. The official lie was that he was in prison when I was born, explaining why he wasn’t on my birth certificate. Growing up, it was obvious that he didn’t love me as much as he did the other two, but I wasn’t told the truth until after I had left home. Turns out my biological father was engaged to his current wife when he got my mother pregnant. To this day his wife does not know I exist.

My step-father had a horrendous childhood. His mother died when he was two, and he was shown very little love when he was younger. It’s not surprising that he was a cold man. That he turned to crime. That he was an alcoholic, manic depressive and emotional bully. I remember being at my Grandma’s house one day when I was seven or eight years old, and having to go out to daddy’s car and say goodbye because he was going to kill himself. He had a massive gun in the passenger seat and had drank so much he was paralytic. Although he didn’t go through with it, that day haunted me for years.

He and my mother had a strange relationship. They only lived together as a couple for five years from when I was eleven, and split for good after that. I viewed him as a man of mystery throughout my entire childhood. We were not allowed to meet his family and I found out some years later it was because he’d had an affair with his sister-in-law and was the father of his brother’s son. Apparently this boy and my half-brother were close in age and looked so similar they could have been twins. He knew the secret would have destroyed his brother so he sacrificed us instead.

renee davisHe was overly generous when it came to birthdays and at Christmas time, which upset my mother as she felt he was flashing his cash as a slight towards her. Day to day he provided extras which went some way towards supplementing our benefits income, but she was terrible with the little money she had. I witnessed her many times putting her last pound into a fruit machine, or going to bingo with it. She was always hoping for a big win that would change our lives. In reality, the phone and electricity were cut off more times than I care to remember, and the cupboards were often bare. It was a constant battle to make ends meet and I grew up thinking that her life must have been utterly miserable.

Being the eldest, I was regularly left alone to babysit my half siblings from a very young age. One distinct memory shines through the rest. The remains of a Guy Fawkes bonfire rekindled and the garden caught light one evening while she was out. I was nine years old and seeing fire through the living room doors was absolutely terrifying. Fortunately our neighbours across the road were home and came to our rescue. Shortly after this my mother took in a friend’s 16 year old son and he lived with us for a while.

He would take advantage of me when she wasn’t home which led to me having an unhealthy attitude towards men for many years afterwards.

My mother used to run up as much debt as she could get away with, and when it looked like it was catching up with her we would move house. Unbelievably, in the 80s the debt would mainly be attached to your house rather than your name. By the early 90s it was becoming harder to get away with but not impossible. If there was a scam to be had she would seek it out. We’d had over a dozen addresses by the time I left home, which meant going to eight different schools.

I often endured low level bullying for being the new girl and over the years I was spat at, sworn at, threatened with violence and routinely humiliated. The bullying I suffered in the last school I went to was significant, and led to a suicide attempt. I had gone to a sleepover and one of the boys molested me in my sleep. He then went into school and bragged about it. The police got involved and my so-called friends turned against me, saying it was all my fault. I found myself in the unfortunate position of being the most hated girl in the whole school. By then it was my final year and my self-esteem and confidence were at an all-time low. I loathed going in and would do anything for a day off which meant falling behind with my work.

My step-father was a permanent feature in our lives by then, and the best way to describe him was that he was a deeply unhappy, ‘functioning’ alcoholic. We got into a fight one morning about me not wanting to go to school and he punched me in the face. He was often harsh with his words but usually kept his fists to himself. He almost broke my nose, and this ended up being the catalyst for me leaving home. I was 15, had no qualifications and only £50 in my pocket. He said I’d be pregnant and living in a hovel within the year. I went to stay with an aunt in her tiny maisonette where I slept on the floor of my cousin’s bedroom between the cot and the bunk beds. It wasn’t ideal but at least I was safe.

No-one escapes the psychological fallout of a childhood like mine.

I went through major bouts of depression as a young adult, and lived life in self-destruct mode for many years to numb my pain. I spent my teens and early twenties going from one all-weekend bender to the next. I had a string of disastrous relationships early on, then spent a handful of years sleeping with just about anyone. I wouldn’t have even looked at half of them once, let alone twice when I was sober.

Eventually I had a breakdown aged 22 and sought professional help. My counsellor was an amazing women who had lots of experience dealing with family dramas. During the eighteen months that I saw her regularly she taught me that I needed distance from my family, that I deserved to be loved and how to respect myself. Although she tried her hardest she couldn’t get me to tackle my love of booze or partying. That would come later. Along with breakdown number two.

renee davis Even though my finger was firmly attached to the self-destruct button, I knew from day one that it was up to me to fend for myself and have always worked. My first few jobs were cash in hand affairs in grimy market caffs and pound shops. As soon as I had my National Insurance number I went searching for something that paid more money and offered more respect. After working in a couple of London department stores a friend suggested I learn some computer skills and try finding an office job. I took their advice and worked locally to gain some basic experience. I was the only non-family member in a small office and treated like a second class citizen, not exactly the step up I was hoping for. As soon as I felt competent enough around the computer I set my sights higher.

One sunny day armed only with a flimsy CV and the ability to talk the hind legs off a donkey, I ventured into the City of London and went door knocking on recruitment agencies. After a lot of rejection someone offered me a temp job on the reception desk of a major financial corporation. I knew it was a huge opportunity, and I worked my socks off to ensure that my initial two weeks led to a permanent role. I was given an administration role and stayed for three years, after which I moved to a company around the corner for a decent pay bump.

When I was made redundant after two and a half years I was given a £10,000 pay out. It was the most money I’d ever had and I decided to book myself an around the world ticket and go travelling. I had so much fun and met lots of interesting people, a good handful of them are still a part of my life. The trip was the best decision I ever made because it was where I met the man I now call my husband. I’d been on the road for almost six months at that point and in South East Asia for two.

Andy and I met on Serendipity Beach in Cambodia.

It was supposed to be my last night in the town before heading to Laos, and it was his first night there. I had been out to dinner with some friends and we went to our favourite bar afterwards for a nightcap. I spotted him as soon as I walked in and introduced myself right away. Sparks flew and if this doesn’t qualify as ‘love at first sight’ then I have no idea what does. We stayed up talking all night and the next morning had breakfast together and chatted away for over four hours. We clearly had a connection. Not only was he handsome and my type but he was down to earth and easy company. He was just what I needed and I decided to get an extension on my Cambodian visa and travel the country some more with him.

We spent six blissful weeks together and each day was an adventure. When we went our separate ways (him to Australia and me home) it was awful, we missed each other so much. After just three days in the UK I realised I was making a huge mistake, and within a fortnight I was on a flight heading to Melbourne. My future was uncertain and funds were fast running out but I knew I would regret not going and seeing what could have been. We spent our first six months together living and working in Australia, then went back to Asia for a little holiday before returning to the UK. Neither of us could properly settle at home because Cambodia had gotten well and truly under our skin.

We headed back out there longer-term around our first anniversary. The original plan was to find English teaching jobs, but we were given the opportunity to set up a shop above an established charity. By day we sold clothes and other tourist trinkets then four nights a week we became the Revelation Vodka Bar, specialising in different flavoured vodkas that I had created. The paint had barely dried when a spiral of events caused me to reach boiling point with my mother, and I made the tough decision to cut ties with her. I will tell you more about this later in the chapter Calling Time on a Toxic Relationship.

renee davisAlthough I now view it as one of the best decisions I have ever made, at the time it sent me to a very dark place. I pushed Andy away and crossed the line to the wrong side of partying. I was completely out of control. I was hardly eating and existed mainly on iced coffee during the day, then I’d drink vodka all evening and well into the early hours. I wasn’t averse to hanging out in undesirable places either, getting wasted with the wasters. I had a sizeable valium addiction by this stage, and would regularly take other powerful pharmaceutical drugs. My sense of what was normal and acceptable became more and more skewed each and every day. I honestly feel that had we stayed in Cambodia any longer I would have ended up dead.

When Andy and I returned home almost a year to the day after we left, it was separately. We then had an on/off relationship for months which must have driven our friends crazy. During this time I worked for a small company with high expectations of me, both professionally and socially. I used to work 12 hour days, then go out drinking until the early morning at least three times a week. After living like this for about six months I ended things with Andy ‘for good this time’. A few weeks after we split I went on the quarterly work social weekend. An all-expenses paid trip to Reykjavik. After parting non-stop for 36 hours and being so wasted I picked a fight with my boss, I took a taxi alone from the bar to my hotel on the other side of town.

When I woke up the next morning I was utterly appalled with myself.

I had gone too far this time. I’d argued with my boss, shown myself up in front of my colleagues and put myself in unnecessary danger once again. I looked in the mirror and told myself that enough was enough. This nonsense had to stop right here and right now. It was my rock bottom. The penny had finally dropped. This is when I woke up to myself and my addictions and decided to get clean. Rock bottom came with the epiphany that I was in great danger of losing the best thing that had ever happened to me. The gravity of my foolishness hit me like a whack in the face, and for the first time in a very long time I did something right.

I worked incredibly hard to become a better person than the one I was perhaps ‘destined’ to be given my background and start in life.

I didn’t so much as sniff an alcoholic drink for three months then I learnt self-control, something that had been absent until that point. I disassociated myself from bad influences and stopped partying. I knuckled down at work. I read lots of self-help books and developed a truly positive mental attitude. Above all else, I became happy with what I saw in the mirror and started enjoying my own company.

After three months of no contact I got in touch with my then ex and told him about the new me. Fortunately he gave me one last chance, and we headed into a fresh year under very different circumstances. I was no longer unable to have a glass of wine without finishing the bottle. I didn’t want to go out partying all night anymore. Fast forward to today, who is Renee Davis? I am a happily married mum of three. I’m highly regarded among my peers and considered to be well-rounded and dependable: a good mama, wife and friend.

There are people who you meet who seem to easily breeze through life. It’s as if they were born under a lucky star and it follows them everywhere. On the flip side, other poor souls get the rawest end of the bargain. For most of us though, how we deal with the hand we are dealt determines our fortune. The way I see it is this: we all have control over our own destiny. It is up to each of us to ensure that we live our lives being the best we can possibly be.

I truly believe anyone can change their ways – no matter how naughty or wicked. Anyone is capable of breaking the cycle of dysfunction as I did. You just have to want to badly enough.

When #SolidariTEA was kicking off last year, I must have been the only “mummy blogger” on the block who didn’t post a photo on social media of kids eating fish fingers with a glass of wine or G&T in the background. I didn’t feel it was morally right to do so, just because everyone else was. Instead I wrote this piece here. The way I saw it, and still do, is a group of highly successful bloggers/authors/merch makers were slated in the Daily Fail (nothing new), and accused of being bad parents for feeding their children still-frozen food whilst swigging neat gin from sippy cups.

keeping it realSeriously who does that? No-one, and anybody who actually took the article seriously needs their head read. I always suspected the main outcome would be driving blog hits/book and merch sales of said bloggers through the roof. I’ll leave you to ponder that for a second.

Many bloggers now boast about their six figure incomes, which basically means there are people at the top getting paid a shit tonne of money while the rest of us are left to scratch around for the scraps. Ooooooh, sound familiar? Every week, it seems, bloggers are releasing how to books, and e-courses about blogging. Apparently anyone can do it, and with the right attitude, work ethic and GRIT an uber lucrative new career is at all our fingertips. By grit they mean playing the social media game.

My three kids are my main priority and I don’t have the time to be permanently attached to social media engaging with my audience. Nor do I have the money to pay a VA to do it for me. 

This week I have seen the very worst side of blogging and social media. I have seen a wonderful woman get torn down in the most vicious of ways. Her character has been decimated, and her abilities as a parent have been questioned. There have been accusations thrown around saying her daughter would be better off going up for adoption. Apparently she is an unfit mother because she’s going through a very hard time financially, and sometimes has visit food banks. Trust me, I have know many unfit mothers in my time, and this lady ain’t one of them.

She is constantly trying to be a better person, and in turn a better mama. She doesn’t hide behind a cloak of G&T when life gets tough, she goes to AA meetings. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, that’s something to aspire to. What on earth is our world coming to, when one side of the fence are allowed to use their channels for keeping it real, they’re allowed to have fun,  yet the other side are vilified for the same things? The double standards in the so-called sisterhood astound me for all the wrong reasons.

keeping it realI know all about the trouble with keeping it real online

With my properly raw posts I quite literally bleed all over the screen. I’ve been told by some readers that they wince as they’re taking in what I’ve written. I have questioned myself over and again, wondering if it’s absolutely necessary. Doesn’t all this emotion just leave us vulnerable? Well in a way yes it does, and of course I can only speak for myself here, but I would never change the way I write. I don’t make much money – a few grand a year, which keeps me ticking over (and by a few, I mean less than three last year). We get some nice meals and lovely days out for the kids, in exchange for my words. But I am rarely paid in cold hard moolah. This illusion that we’re all earning six figures has to be shattered!

The reason I’m still blogging, even though I have gone through many cycles of wanting to stop over the years, is because my readers regularly get in touch and tell me my blogs are their therapy. That I make them feel less alone. Trust me, no matter how understanding friends and family are, no-one truly gets how utterly all consuming it is to raise kids on the spectrum, unless they’re also doing it.

More than anything though, I’d like to be remembered as someone who isn’t afraid to talk about the things most people shy away from. I will never stop standing up for injustice when I see it, online or IRL. We are living through a seriously sad and polarised era, where Donald Trump is the most powerful man in the world, and the Tories have been voted in THREE TIMES since 2010. Largely I think due to non-voters and those completely unaffected and apathetic towards the devastating austerity cuts.

Which is why I point blank refuse to be silenced through the fear of people rolling their eyes at me. I will never stop keeping it real, and talking about things that are truly important. After all, isn’t that what blogging is supposed to be about?

**For details on why I have decided to publish Become the Best You on the blog, please read this. Should you wish to buy the book, you can do so here**

Question: What is the cycle of dysfunction?

Answer: A negative pattern of behaviour passed on from parent to child, which will continue indefinitely unless the person at the end of the cycle actively breaks it.

My mother had a rotten childhood. Her father was killed in a road accident when she was small. He left behind my pregnant Grandma who was carrying their sixth baby, along with five kids aged between one and ten.

They were living in the United States at the time and she came back to London where she raised her family alone. She worked six days a week to provide a roof over their heads and food on the table, yet her kids all resented her for it.

They would have preferred to have had a mum who was home more, but she thought she was doing the best thing by working. While Grandma grieved for her husband and threw herself into her job, the six of them were largely left to their own devices and brought each other up.

cycle of dysfunctionMy mother and her siblings are classic examples of a dysfunctional childhood. As adults, the four women chose their men badly and suffered affairs, violence, emotional abuse and loneliness. Although the men chose their partners well, they both had their fair share of issues.

All six had two or three children each, and the last time I saw any of my cousins it was clear that we were all (in some way or other) still reeling from what we had gone through. None of us were spared our parents’ dysfunctions.

My mother was deeply affected by her childhood and she emerged from it knowing she wanted a better start for her own children. There was no way she would go out to work all hours leaving her family behind once she was a mum. She wanted a family desperately and felt that constantly being present would be enough to ensure her kids grew up happy. Unfortunately, the reality couldn’t have been further from what she had intended.

Rather than dealing with the past, healing herself and gaining some life experience, she rushed into having a baby with my biological father when she was 18. A man who abandoned her to marry the woman he was engaged to throughout their brief affair.

She then did the exact same thing less than two years later with my step-father. She’d only known him for a few months before falling pregnant with my half-brother. My half-sister came along three years later even though they were not a proper couple.

From my earliest memories I knew my path was straightforward. I would not just talk about how my kids would have a better childhood than the one I had yet still rush into having babies anyway.

I knew I had to do everything in my power to become emotionally stable before bringing children into the world

Once they were here I would ensure I did not repeat history. In my early twenties I honestly didn’t think I had a maternal instinct. I was far too busy experiencing as much of what life had to offer to be getting broody.

For me, breaking the cycle of dysfunction meant finding true happiness within myself. I then had to settle down with a suitable partner before even entertaining the idea of starting a family. I found my husband long before I found inner peace, but both were firmly in place before falling pregnant with our eldest daughter.

Now as a mum of three, one diagnosed autistic, I know with absolute certainty that I did the right thing. I would have never been able to cope with the trials and tribulations of motherhood had I not fully dealt with my demons and put the past to rest before having my children. I also know that I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without the support of my wonderful husband and amazing friends.

the cycle of dysfunction

This is a chicken and egg situation, because without becoming the best me I would not have kept hold of the fantastic people I have in my life

I believe most negative behaviour patterns lead back to a cycle of dysfunction, and you can apply the rule to almost any negative situation. The hardest part can be realising the cycle exists in the first place. Once you are able to recognise the cycle and are committed to breaking it, you’re half way there.

You have to be willing to unlearn things that have been passed down from your family, and shun deeply ingrained thought processes. It’s time to start truly thinking for yourself.

If you have a cycle of dysfunction to break yet do nothing to actively break it, you will almost certainly pass your dysfunctions on to your children one day. The cycle has to stop with you to ensure they are given the very best start to life that you can possibly offer them. If you are already a parent then please do not feel the opportunity has been lost. As long as you are 100% committed to the cause, the cycle can be broken at any time.

Today is a good day to start your journey.

More examples of the cycle of dysfunction

Emotional and physical abuse
– Growing up in a violent environment, then going on to become violent yourself or having a partner who is violent towards you.
– Growing up watching one parent always putting the other one down, destroying their self-confidence with every comment. You may do the same as an adult or have a partner who is derogatory towards you but feel you do not deserve any better.
– Watching a parent be cheated on and generally treated badly by the other, then going on to treat your own partners badly or being treated badly yourself.

Health Issues
– Growing up around alcoholics or drug addicts and developing addictions yourself. It’s imperative that you wake up to these addictions and seek help as soon as possible.
– Having a bad diet as a child which has led to weight and/or psychological problems as a result. If you were never taught how to cook and are still eating badly you are likely to be struggling with these issues well into adulthood.
– Some minor health complaints can be completely fixed and avoidable in the future through eating well and looking after our bodies.

Other examples
– You may have felt you were a disappointment to your parents when you were growing up which has led to having low self-esteem. If your parents expected too much from you as a child, this could lead to feeling that nothing you ever do is enough.
– Not being good with money and getting into debt while you are young is a curse. If your parents were bad with their cash then you have never known any other way of life.

cycle of dysfunction

What separates the cycle breakers from the cycle repeaters?

This is of course the million pound question. What is the fundamental difference between a person capable of breaking the cycle of dysfunction, and a person who goes on to repeat history and continue it?

The answer is of course complex, with too many variables to pinpoint any one defining factor. I believe there are three core steps we need to go through to break the cycle. We will look at each of them in depth throughout the book.

Step One: Awareness
It can seem so much easier to just ignore our problems in the hope that they disappear, but they never do. In fact they become harder to deal with as time goes on. To break the cycle you have to acknowledge the cycle exists in the first place. Self-reflection can be a bitter pill to swallow but it is absolutely necessary during this process. There will be lots of looking long and hard at yourself, and the company you keep, to assess the changes that need to be made so you get to become the best you. No matter how bad your earlier life has been or how messed up you think you are, it is down to you and you alone to secure your future happiness. No-one else can do this for you.

Step Two: Determination
Breaking the cycle of dysfunction is hard work. Some people convince themselves that they don’t possess the tenacity to do the job. It is much easier to just follow in the footsteps of our parents because it’s all we have ever known, but if you want to have a different life you will need to do things differently. Waking up to wanting more is a massive step in the right direction, but you’ll have to surround yourself with the very best people in order for it to happen. A supportive partner, real friends or loving family will want to help you, not try and sabotage your efforts. People who genuinely love you would only ever want to encourage your success. You have to be strong and not let anyone take advantage of you. If certain people are bringing you down then you’ll need to be prepared to get some distance from them.

Step Three: Courage
You will have to get to know yourself, and always be true to who you really are. This means not getting swept up with the crowd, and never living your life according to anyone else’s timetable. You will need to be a ‘what you see is what you get’ type of person, not someone who changes their personality based on who they happen to be. Anyone can put on a brave face but a cycle breaker will have a truly positive attitude towards life. Once we are thinking positively we start acting positively and after a short while it becomes our natural default setting. Cycle breakers do not sit around waiting for a lottery win or dream job to fall at their feet, they make stuff happen. Ultimately it’s one thing talking about change, but actually changing is a huge challenge. You must always have the courage of your own convictions, stay focused and believe without doubt you are doing the right thing.

I hope you found this useful. Please pop back next weekend when I’ll be sharing the second chapter. 

 

My first book, Become the Best You, was written in 2014 while I was deep in the midst of maternity leave with my third child. He’s now four and a half, where on earth does the time go?

For those new around here, Become the Best You is an autobiographical self-help book. It walks you through my dysfunctional childhood, and how it led to a self-destructive young adulthood. It details my journey from rock bottom borderline alcoholic to happy wife and mama.

The initial response to be book was amazing. Sales were great, social media shares were being given unasked for. I had it trending on Twitter and the five star Amazon reviews were pouring in. Unfortunately as my time became more and more stretched, momentum to promote the book waned.

Almost four years on, and sales are pretty much non existent. So I’ve decided to publish the book as a series of blog posts. I want my story to continue helping people and hopefully by doing this it will. Should you wish to purchase a copy of the book, you can do so by clicking here.

become the best youBecome the Best You is an easy to read (and digest) book, and the overall reader feedback has been very positive. Some readers said it changed their lives, because it opened their eyes to their own demons. Many have said everyone could use reading the book, because it’s so relatable and impossible to not take something away from it. Others have said it felt like they were sitting in a cafe with me, having a chat over a cup of coffee.

Why should you bother reading Become the Best You?

There are many self-help books out there telling you how to think, what to wear and how to behave. Qualified professionals are desperate to give you their views on any subject matter you require guidance on. What’s so special about me? I’m just a regular person. I don’t have letters after my name or a rags to riches story, so why should you bother reading this book?

After having a dysfunctional childhood, and self-destructive young adulthood, I broke away from my past and created a much brighter future. Rather than just talk about my children never having to experience what I went through myself (like my parents did) I worked damn hard to ensure it was the case. Throughout this book I will share personal stories from my life and insights on how I overcame the many obstacles I have faced over the years.

I’ll tell you how I broke the cycle of dysfunction, and hopefully it will inspire you to go off and do the same. Getting passed my past wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible. I promise not to talk about things that I have no personal experience of, and I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But I might just have the ones you are looking for.

become the best youIf you can identify with this list of demons I had to conquer, this book is for you!
– Raised by parents who had dysfunctional childhoods and subsequently had one myself
– Moved house lots and went to many schools
– Suffered bullying in several schools
– Suffered sexual abuse as a child
– Left home at a very young age after not finishing school
– Struggled with depression
– Got into a lot of debt
– Had very little self-respect
– Used to sleep around
– Abused drugs and alcohol
– Put myself into unnecessary, dangerous situations

What do I hope you will achieve by reading this book?
– The ability to make peace with your past
– The ability to look in the mirror and like what you see
– The ability to find your inner strength and start respecting yourself
– The courage to re-define the rules of a relationship that has become toxic
– The courage to cut ties with people who make you miserable
– The courage to break the cycle, keep it broken and become the best you

What this book doesn’t do
– Use overly complicated words or examples that are difficult to understand
– Go into minute detail telling you exactly what you should do
– Patronise you and assume that you aren’t capable of turning your life around

 

Today is my 39th birthday. I am almost forty, and that’s okay

I didn’t think I’d feel this way, but something has shifted in me this past year. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m getting older, and am genuinely okay with the idea. Might sound ridiculous, but this mindset hasn’t come easily.

I started adulthood at fifteen, and was always head and shoulders younger than everyone else. In all my jobs and house shares I had at least half a decade on my peers. Now I often find myself in situations where the extra five years is in the other direction.

Saying goodbye to my thirties

I had a bit of a freak out over turning thirty, but I needn’t have done. 3-0 was good to me. I’d recently got married and become a mum. I felt ready and happy to embrace the next chapter of my life. My thirties gave me three gorgeous kiddos and immense strength to get through the challenging times.

This decade has seen mine and Hubby’s relationship tested to the point of most people being incredulous we’re still together. It’s seen me make and lose friends, but my rock solid crew have never faltered. It’s been about truly looking inwards to squash the demons that have previously had too much control.

Bring it on!

Now that I am almost forty, I’m embracing it. Age is simply a number after all. If we feel healthy and happy in our achievements then who cares? I’m finally comfortable with who I am and the way I look.

I’m not going to waste another second agonising over my thighs which seem to get bigger every single day. I’m not going to cry over the weird mole/skin tag thing on my right eye ever again. My teeth suck, but hell I’ll cross that very expensive bridge when I have to. My nose isn’t, and was never, that big.

I just smile now when people make silly jokes about getting old. Or look at me in mock horror when a stranger asks my age. I absolutely refuse to cling to the next 365 days with dear life.

I am almost forty.

I am fully onboard with the flaws which make me me, and you know what?

Being me isn’t such a bad thing.