Nothing about this is easy

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Lately, if I’m honest, there has been a lot going on and not all of has been easy to process. I’m not talking about the move, yeah sure it’s affected us but as more of an inconvenience than a stress. Moving just added to the list in a big way but it’s do-able. Everything is do-able. Actually, moving into our new place has got me really excited but more on that later.

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Last year a big, emotional, personal shift occurred within me. I’ve spoken a little about it here but basically I felt lost. As a very driven woman this was unnerving because it was almost as if my inner compass was spinning out of control. I had goals but I knew I had to be the best version of myself to achieve them so I admitted I needed help and in February I started seeing a counsellor. It set changes in motion, I didn’t want to be this anxious, emotional and fatigued person anymore.

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There aren’t too many people I can talk to about what I do, most live in LA or NYC so it’s not like I can just pick up a phone and chat. Working from home is isolating but it just compounded the fact that I really was alone in all this, fighting daily for/with the industry. I was hesitant, I wasn’t sure if it would do any good but those 12 free sessions throughout the year changed my life. A local, private, educated, unbiased perspective… priceless.

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In New York I faced a few of my personal challenges head on, rationally, with brutal honesty and the world didn’t end, it actually got brighter. I learnt to limit my trust, that not everyone does business the way I do so on that trip I also learnt who my real friends were and now I really invest in them. Upon my return I began to listen to what I really wanted and fought for it, I realised no one else would.

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Meanwhile I was reflecting on my childhood and noticing patterns of behaviour and emotional responses. Turns out there were a lot of things I’d repressed, things a child wasn’t meant to deal with but only with an adult’s hindsight could it be recognised. Going to Darwin in July to visit my childhood friends and town on my own had a huge impact on me and cemented the fact that I desperately needed change.

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I was 16 when this picture was taken, it was my birthday, I was at the local show and I was in love. The boy aside, I keep looking at this photo as it’s a reminder of how relaxed and happy I was. This was the “Danielle” I had locked up inside me and I was finally ready to discover her again. I was tired of blaming factors of my life, passing the blame and being an emotional victim.

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It wasn’t easy (or pretty) but I started small. I promised myself I’d be honest not just with myself but with my family, my friends and yes you, my readers. A part of that honesty wasn’t just about feelings but also about action, I followed my instincts and made changes. Dying my hair blonde myself was probably risky but it was a process I needed to go through, it was cathartic. I was showing myself that I could change, I could do something that everyone had said would look horrid on me. To remind myself that I didn’t need to be “normal” or “comfortable” for anyone. I’m allowed to own my choices, my life, without pandering to the expectations of others.

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I attended a conference in September that made me question everything… and the blog didn’t have the answers I was looking for. I stepped back in a big way and put my money where my mouth was, practically closing up shop and allowing the blog to “just be”. To just be there for me when I needed it, the way it used to. Instead of this machine that traded my time, creativity and community for stats, ROI pitches, hustle and competition. The only other person I know who’s done the same is Eden. I was on the fast train and I got off. It was scary as hell but something within me tugged me in another direction and I couldn’t ignore it.

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I wasn’t out of “the game”, I just want to play it a little differently. The digital age is still so new, in the grand scheme of things it’s still in it’s infancy. I refuse to believe there is only one way to be successful in this business, that the secret recipe for good social media exposure and engagement that people keep pushing at us is the only way. I’d watched Gary’s keynote’s for years but over summer I really invested and read his books cover to cover and I finally found someone who had come to the same conclusions along his own journey just as I did. I felt less alone and suddenly my shift didn’t seem so scary, they felt natural because I was following my heart.

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Freeing up time from the hustle meant more time with my son, who is in fact, everything. Our bond grew deeper and I began to feel more at ease. I constantly felt like I had something to prove before. If I was to devote so much time and energy it had to pay off in some way. My peers were on television, brand ambassadors, travelling, making lots of money and it was frustrating because I had been doing it longer and in some cases I had better traffic and better ROI. I thought having an agent to “package” me would help but it turns out I don’t like to be put into boxes. Once I realised I could walk my own path, to my own version of success, everything changed.

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If I began to doubt myself over even the simplest decisions, I’d mumble “F*ck it, I’ll do what I want!” and it became my own little mantra over summer. Remembering to respect my feelings, my choices and not just of those around me is something I have to practice daily. I’m naturally a “giver” but this can often be confused with a “doormat”, something I’ve been called in the past. I refuse to be submissive any longer.

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Confidence isn’t about being brave and showing your body in public. It’s about self respect, self esteem and being true to your intuition. Really knowing who you are, what you want from life and not being afraid to get it. I wish that I could tell you that once you’ve found it it’s yours forever, unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Life tumbles and turns, we grow older, create life and witness it pass. Nothing is stable, nothing is constant, not without effort and not without work on your part.

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I got to a point early this year when all of it really sunk in so I pushed further. It had taken almost a year of emotional realisations and battles to get myself there but I couldn’t be prouder, it was time to tackle the next hurdle. I started looking into classes, degrees and internships hoping that they would steer me in the right direction. Additional education never hurt but my heart wasn’t convinced that it was the right path, not right now… I had bigger things to focus on.

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I’d been hiding something for the past four years, from you, from my mum and even from Steve. The only person I couldn’t hide it from was Aidan and the guilt of that killed me more than the pain within. In 2008 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis after laparoscopic surgery confirmed it. Removal of the tissue is usually an out patient procedure that will have you back to work in three days. My surgery took upwards of 6 hours, an overnight stay and three weeks to recover. It wasn’t exactly a day at Disneyland so you can imagine why I wasn’t looking forward to doing it all again. The problem is, I’m dealing with a lot of pain daily regardless, it’s fatiguing, irritating and hiding it was exhausting. For the sake of my own mental wellness I promised myself I’d be more honest with everyone (including you) about what it’s like to actually live with this condition, to which there is no cure and affects 1-in-10 women.

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I came to a crossroads, I could continue burying myself in a busy life and work or take care of body, really put myself first. I chose me. I chose me… for him. As I sat there in the Gyno’s office, surrounded by the same peach coloured walls, carpet, couches and curtains that were there seven years ago, I stared at Aidan in wonder. All those appointments where I’d sat in that exact same chair wishing for good news, wishing him into existence… and there he was, completely oblivious to how wanted his is, how loved. I felt at ease, this is what I’m meant to be doing. Not trying for another baby, but giving the boy I have the best Mumma I can possibly be.

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I was 135kgs when I walked into his office. I wore a size 24 top and 24/26 bottoms and I felt dreadful, apparently 135kgs was my turning point number. As I sat there a part of me felt like I was going behind enemy lines despite never really associating myself with the fat activist sub culture. You’ve probably just pulled a weird face after reading that line seeing as I founded Aussie Curves but it’s true. AC was never about a person’s physicality or breaking down society’s marginalised views on beauty. It has always and will always be about the individual, their path of personal self discovery using fashion as a tool to develop their self esteem and style in a safe, positive environment surrounded by likeminded peers.

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I work out, take vitamins, meditate, socialise and cook with fresh healthy ingredients… the same way I have been for almost two years. No weight was shifting, my pain was getting worse and to rub salt in the wound Steve lost almost 20kgs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely proud and happy for him but you can imagine how frustrating it was. I made the personal decision that I can’t go through with the Endo surgery until I’m down around 100kgs. It will lessen the fatty tissue between my organs, making excision of the endometrial tissue easier on my body and for my Gyno. It will be easier on my asthmatic lungs when I’m under and it should also make recovery less stressful and faster. I explained all of this to my Gyno, he completely agreed and with his assistance I’m slowly loosing weight.

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My goal is “Pain Free by Christmas”, it’s really that simple. I need to lose 35kgs to have surgery so I can give myself the chance for that to happen. I’m proud to say that I’m already down 13kgs and I have 22kgs to go. I’ve been losing around 2kgs per week and should reach my goal in July or August. I’m taking Duromine again just as I did pre-op in 2008. It’s as if an internal switch has been flicked and our healthy lifestyle is now showing my results. Unfortunately it makes sleep difficult and I get mood swings. Coupled with the pain I’m already in, some days are a complete write-off and sadly I’m not the only one effected but we’re just focusing on the end goal, “pain free” or at the very least “in substantially less pain”… I’d settle for that.

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I’m nervous and scared but I’m trying to put on a brave face. If my gyno gets in there and it’s a mess, a hysterectomy is on the cards and I’m not even 30. Believe it or not, having more children is not a top-listing concern. Making sure it doesn’t attack my bowels any further and preserving my quality of life is the priority. It’s taken almost two years of personal, emotional growth to get to this point. I’ve battled with many factors: physical, mental and  emotional. My family has been my rock, close friends have been by my side to assist where they can and my boys have been troopers. I know I’m only just sharing this with you now, as the end goal is in sight but as you can imagine, I had to get there in my own time… and apparently that time is 5am on a Monday.

Dani x

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Wow what an open heartfelt post. All the best with your journey to being pain free.
    As a chronic illness blogger I can tell you how rewarding it is to know that I’m supporting others affected similarly. I know that through you being so honest here, your readers will feel very supported.

  2. 2

    says

    Thank you for sharing this, your inner strength is truly inspiring. I hope everything turns out great for you in the end. Aidan is a very lucky boy :)

  3. 3

    mum says

    No mother likes to see her child in pain. It is especially heartbreaking when it happens from a distance and you cannot just reach out and hold them to offer comfort. This is your journey of which I am a small part. I continue to admire the strength you find and the determination to be the best you, possible.
    Love always from one mother to another,and one mother to her child.

  4. 4

    says

    Wow Duromine! I used to take it in the depths of a severe eating disorder. But that said, losing weight when your body clings to it and managing chronic pain ( I can relate to both) is so hard. I have great respect for you sharing your journey.

  5. 5

    Toni Brockliss says

    Goodluck Dani. Although we have never met, I am behind you 100%
    You will reach your goal. I am certain of it.
    I really enjoy these posts so much.
    Much love.

  6. 9

    Di says

    Good luck with your journey. I hope you achieve your goals. We’re all here cheering for you and to offer support.

  7. 13

    says

    You’re one of the bravest women I know Dani. I’m not really in a position to give much advice except to trust in the people closest to you. Their strength and support will be the greatest help of all.

    Lots of love, thoughts and prayers.

    Xo

  8. 15

    says

    Chronic illness/disease of any kind is hard. But I’m so glad you’re valuing yourself to work through it; it’s the most important investment.

  9. 16

    RenElle says

    This post is beautiful and honest. As l was reading it l thought l was reading my own story, l feel your pain and know you have the strength to get through. I two needed 6mths of counselling to get off the roller coaster and face what was going on. I wish you all the best, l too have lost 10 kilos so far……..we can do it girl! It’s about being a healthier person to make our lives easier x

  10. 17

    says

    Wow, what an amazing post Dani. You are such a strong women and you are amazing for realising you needed to make yourself number one, as it is often so hard to do that when you have others relying on you. Good luck with your journey and I really hope everything comes together for you. xxx

  11. 18

    VI says

    So Proud of you Dani. You are doing great..it’s your journey to be had. Good Luck, you are on your way! :-)

    I myself have embraced the healthy lifestyle for Health Reason this past year. Lost 15 kilo so far, Doing a Health course which is really opening my eyes to what is Healthy. And sticking to my exercise program. My favourite thing now is simply going to the park and playing sports (Handball, Cricket, Footy and Running) with my family. It’s quality time spent together while getting exercise. Win Win!
    Hugs from a long time reader. lol

  12. 19

    Been there says

    Honestly, I’m not a big reader here, just every now and then. But I highly recommend you get off duromine and look at having a sleeve gastrectomy. Best thing I ever did. I’ve lost over 50kg in six months without mood swings (more than usual at least) and without taking a highly addictive drug. I have kids and wanted to be around for them, so I can play with them and be here for their kids.
    Best. Thing. Ever.

  13. 21

    rockygear says

    Wow! Heavy stuff xxx I can relate to some of this. Not that I know exactly what you are going thru but my mum has endometriosis. Hers has killed a kidney and strangled her intestines. She had a colostomy bag for almost a year as they did the surgeries.
    Please look after yourself. I can’t bear to see people suffering from it. Don’t ever put yourself last and always do your best on each day. Even if that’s just getting out of bed to feed the family. Xxxxxx

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