A woman in man’s overalls

I have recently been through lung cancer and had an amazing experience and super speedy recovery, thanks to the way that I now live and a decision I made to completely turn my life around six years ago; otherwise I may be dead now.

This experience offered me the opportunity to reflect on my life, and I came to realise that the way I had chosen to live up until six years ago was to prove myself by taking on male roles and acting ‘tough’. At the age of fifteen I felt that I disappointed my father and as a result of that hurt, I had been trying to prove myself to him – as a woman in man’s overalls – ever since.

Over forty-six years I have worked in many roles: as a hairdresser, in retail, hospitality, real estate, a tree lopper, a landscaper, a nursery hand and on fishing boats. I am a woman who has lifted and worked far beyond what I was truly capable of. I had been brought up with ‘you will have to work hard or you never get anywhere' and ‘you scratch my back and I will scratch yours’ mentality, and I took it literally.

For the last twelve years I have worked for a retail hardware company as a manager, after completing a Diploma in Frontline Management. I worked physically hard, always working like a man and competing with the men to prove I could do it.

I had always been able to build relationships with teams easily, but at times the demands and the pressures of being a leader were overwhelming. I was frustrated, judgmental, demanding and wanting to control outcomes.

As a result I would become stressed, work very long hours and physically overtax myself because of the high expectations I had. I also measured my team by what they achieved and I was very selective in who I opened up to.

I drank and smoked every night to relieve the stress; I was constantly exhausted and needed sugar and coffee to keep me going through the day. I thought I always ate reasonably healthily and that would compensate for the total disregard I had for what I was doing to my body. In a very male dominated business I was constantly competing to achieve results and meet targets. I was driven to succeed and had become hard and tough, and even though I cared for the people I worked with, the message was loud and clear – do not cross me.

In May 2010 my life took a complete ‘U-turn’ after a suggestion from a friend to attend a healing course, which I feel ultimately saved my life!

That course was Level 1 Sacred Esoteric Healing which was presented by Serge Benhayon. Serge was very clear in presenting that where we were was because of the choices we had made and it made a lot of sense to me. He talked and shared about the Gentle Breath Meditation®, self-care, connection to ourselves and energy – he was never imposing, just presenting that there could be another way to live. For six years I have continued to attend his presentations, and slowly but surely I have been inspired to change the way I live and work.

What has changed?

I have been alcohol, coffee and smoke free for five years now and there was an immediate effect on my stress levels; at first I did not notice the change but my team noticed, and made comments that I was so much calmer . . . and I had thought alcohol relaxed me!

I came to realise that my cold, hard exterior was me holding my body in the protection of not wanting to be hurt again, and the drive to compete and succeed came from growing up in a household of men and my wanting to be recognised by my father.

My recent experience with lung cancer gave me the opportunity to go even deeper in my understanding and I came to realise that because of these old hurts, I had separated myself from people and I had deprived myself of the love on offer – and equally deprived others of the love from myself.

I now support myself with healthy eating to nurture my body. I have a commitment to a regular sleep pattern and I rarely feel exhausted. There is vitality in my body that I had never felt before and I no longer feel the need to compete with the men anymore – I am starting to connect to and express from the woman that I am.

I now have very open working relationships with my team. I express honestly, I treat each and every one of them equally and support them in their roles and I see them for who they are and not just what they do. I immediately know if they are having an off day and if they do I am open for them to share what is going on for them. I have learnt to observe what is going on rather than absorb it; there are still times that I react, but I am now much more aware as it immediately affects my body and I lose the connection to myself. There are still targets and goals to be achieved within the company but I never feel as pressured as I did previously and everything just seems to get done with much more ease.

I have become a leader in retail who is committed to my ongoing self-care and the care of others, and that reflection is there for all to see and feel. A beautiful, delicate and tender woman has climbed out of the overalls, forever.

Filed under

AlcoholSugarLifestyle diseasesSugar FreeHealthy relationshipsHealthy diet

  • By Susan Evans, Diploma in Frontline Management and Advanced Diploma in Management

  • Photography: Clayton Lloyd