Losing My Mum Saved My Life

From surviving to thriving and why I do what I do

beautiful tiger butterfly in the garden.

Photo by Sagar Kulkarni / Unsplash

I would say it's wild how many people just put up with feeling miserable, depressed even, instead of changing what they don't like about their lives... but I was one of those people for far too long...

Until I lost my mum, that is. 

I was 28 and had been unhappy since my early teens. A fairly chaotic childhood and the insecurity that came with it had clearly played a significant part in my feelings of self doubt and anxiety around doing this whole living thing. 

My lack of self confidence meant never living up to my potential in whatever I did, which turned into an annoying and unnecessary cycle.

Considering the news that my mum was dying filled me with fear, as well as the most profound sadness - as I simply couldn't comprehend how to live without her in this world - it would be reasonable to imagine that her passing would make everything even worse for me. That's certainly what I had expected to happen.

But something different unfolded, instead.

Don't get me wrong - losing her will always be right up there as the most difficult experience I've ever been through. But it was also the catalyst for me changing my life beyond recognition.

It started in the hospice, where we had practically set up camp to be with my mum as she lived out her last days. I began to notice something at a level I couldn't ignore; the way the remnants of her energy dropped when someone in particular entered the room. It seemed like what little life she had left in her was further depleted each time this happened. 

It wouldn’t be long until I noticed I was experiencing a very similar thing with the person I shared my life with.

Something else, which would later become important, happened in that room - it came in the form of one of the last things my mum ever said to me… 

It was a rare occasion I managed to be alone with her. She gestured to me to come close and as I lent in, she said quietly in my ear, “Always follow the butterflies”. 

Okay”, I promised her, not having a clue what I had just vowed to do. I meant it, though.

Nathan Dumlao | Unsplash

My mum was very spiritual - she worked with crystals and angels, the latter of which she painted beautifully. She had started on this path later in her life, so all I knew of it was what she told me during the times we visited with each other. It fascinated me and I was keen to learn more.

This meant I was quick to look up what butterflies symbolise in a spiritual sense and just as quick to discover that they are a symbol of transformation and are considered to be good omens or signs. 

So, the last advice my mum ever gave me was to follow the signs. 

It was as if she intuitively knew that I had been ignoring them; that when I looked back over the previous decade or so of my life, I could see them all - left, right and smack bang in the centre - and I had pushed them away, thinking I knew better and could force certain things in my life to improve if I just tried hard enough, without actually changing what I knew, deep down, had to change.

The signs were always there - but now they were impossible to ignore...

From that moment on though the signs became relentless and also impossible to ignore because I had become awake to them; they had gone from what had felt like subtle pointers that I could keep pushing out of my mind to the equivalent of thirty foot neon flashing signs on my lawn or by the side of the road on my journeys to and from work. 

And even if I could ignore them - which I was sometimes tempted to try and do because the other option meant monumental upheaval, insecurity and doing something that filled me with fear - I had made a promise not to.

I had made a promise to my mum on her deathbed - a promise that essentially meant starting to value myself and make decisions accordingly.

One of my realisations at that time was that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a situation that wasn’t worthy of me, with someone who chipped away at my energy until I had none left.

Over the course of the following year I ended a nine and a half year relationship, walked away from our jointly-owned house, left my well-paying job and moved my dog and I back to Scotland from the North East of England, nearer family and long-time friends, to start afresh. 

It's important to us to support creators, so when using this photo please give photo credit to Keith Pitts at keithmelissa.com; Instagram @keithmpitts. The creator featured can be found on Twitter @ItsAustinSaylor

Photo by ConvertKit / Unsplash

It wasn’t exactly happy ever after - the 15 years since I did all of that have been a bumpy ride at times, but I have never, for even a fraction of a second, regretted my decision to do it.

It took a few years to settle a bit, find my feet, find a new and amazing partner who is now my wife and to find what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.

When it came to ditching the drum teaching, which I’d never really enjoyed, it was because I’d decided I wanted to use my natural empathy and listening skills to help people who needed and wanted it. 

I started on a path to becoming qualified as a counsellor, which I loved at first - I devoured the introductory evening course I found and then jumped straight into a year long Certificate course before being readily accepted to do my Masters in Pluralistic Counselling at a university in Dundee. 

However, a year into the Masters, I was changing my mind about my planned profession and left the course with my Post Graduate Certificate instead, because something else had captured my attention and my heart…

The previous year I had found out about a type of talk therapy that helped people to recover from “energy” conditions, like M.E. / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. 

Why did this capture my attention? Oh yes, I haven’t told you yet that my mum suffered greatly with these conditions for years. However, as with many people in the same boat, she was given no real help to overcome them from her GP or any specialists. All that was offered to her was a cocktail of medication in a weak attempt to dampen down her symptoms. 

chronic pain and fatigue help

She felt dismissed by a medical system who, on the one hand, didn’t believe she had a real, physical condition and on the other, told her she was unlikely to recover. Confused yet? Well, so is our healthcare system when it comes to these conditions. Think about how the patients feel.

When I discovered this talking treatment, I also discovered that my mum had in fact tried it at one point and it was the first thing that had ever started to truly ease her symptoms and help her feel better. However, she wasn’t able to have more than a couple of sessions and, therefore, never recovered. She went on to develop further health issues which led to her passing in 2008. 

It pains me beyond belief to think that there was a way of her getting better which would have prevented further illness - she could still be here, today. Instead, I’ve been without and missing my mum for 16 years now.

But dwelling on this wouldn't do me an ounce of good and nothing was going to bring her back. So what could I do? Well, I could make sure her life and death meant something - that she didn’t die in vain. I could do everything in my power to prevent others from suffering the same or similar fate.

So I trained in the seemingly miraculous approach - Mickel Therapy - and immediately began doing precisely that. Seeing this way of working and how it was helping people transform from being floored with fatigue and debilitating pain to recovering their energy, losing their symptoms, and getting off pain, anxiety and depression medication was simply astounding. I started feeling like I could make much more of a difference, and in a shorter timescale, using this kind of method over counselling.

It was still working with emotional issues but using the theory that these - and the emotional suppression that ensues by not knowing how to deal with them effectively - were the root cause of the physical symptoms and conditions; being in a prolonged state of emotional unsafety can produce an ongoing biochemical stress response within our body, with wide-ranging ramifications. This explains why these energy conditions are generally diagnosed by doing all kinds of tests which exclude other illnesses, despite often having a long and varied list of symptoms produced by every system throughout the body. 

Therefore, getting to the crux of things and identifying the emotional issues playing out in clients’ lives, and guiding and supporting them to make relevant changes and take appropriate action, helps them to feel emotionally safe. This means the stress response (fight or flight mode) can switch off, allowing symptoms to reduce and even stop, altogether.

This, to me, felt like a far more direct and effective way of helping people and I spent a good few years doing so very successfully. However, I had been pushing the boundaries of the therapy to get the best results for my clients and wouldn’t be able to keep doing so within the organisation; practising Mickel didn’t allow me to bring in any other tools or waver from the system I was taught, so I left.

I had been learning about and training in other methods which appeared to provide something that had been missing so far; Hypnotherapy, NLP and Transformational Life Coaching gave me extra tools to help clients get past stubborn, unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. 

I branched out on my own, using all the techniques, knowledge and experience I had gathered to develop my own method - Mind Body Align™ Therapeutic Coaching.

M.E. CFS Fibro Therapeutic Coaching

I developed my own method of helping people with chronic health issues

I have continued to work with clients of all ages and backgrounds with M.E./CFS, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety and other illnesses of the same ilk. I specialise in working with women and have created a membership - my Mind Body Align™ Members’ Circle - for those who benefit from being part of a supportive community with understanding of each other and the recovery process. 

I am also continually creating new ways for people to gain access to and benefit from my work, such as workbooks and online courses and I have recently produced some CPD materials for holistic therapists after being asked to by the College of Bowen Studies.

My life now bears virtually no resemblance to the one I was living before suffering the greatest loss of my life and simultaneously acquiring the greatest gift.

The gift is having the awareness and knowledge of my inner emotional guidance system (what the signs were pointing out to me) and how to follow it to live as the truest version of myself that I can. 

It’s surely no coincidence that this is exactly what I show others how to do, in order to feel emotionally safe and, as a result, physically healthy.

Thank you mum - for everything you have ever done for me and for your invaluable words that made me change my view of the world and how I live - and now thrive - in it.

If you are interested in finding out more about the work I do and what I offer, you can visit my website, here: