So, I’ve been struggling with what to write about this week so I turned to a book my wife bought me, “642 things to write about”. This topic jumped off the page at me “It’s not every day someone walks into your life to flip the whole thing upside down”. I’m incredibly lucky to have many people who fall into this category so I’m going to focus on 5 of them & tell a brief story of how they changed my life. All of these people allowed me to open up & grow and I am forever grateful. I hope to inspire you to see that change and growth come in many forms and from places you don’t necessarily expect.
My mother Kay…
What can I say about my amazing, resilient mother? Right… that she’s amazing and resilient! I got my strength from my mother, no question. I’ve learned so many lessons from her, too many to chronicle here, so I’ll give you a sample. I grew up in Ireland, at the time not the most tolerant place for a young gay woman. Even though we never discussed my sexuality, I never felt judged at home, which was unusual for the time. A couple of years back, when Ireland was contemplating legalizing same-sex marriage, my mother was out in front of the church handing out pro-equal marriage leaflets to the parishioners. She wore her “Yes/Tá” pin to church, right up to the altar for communion. She was fighting for my rights even thought I now live thousands of miles from home. Like I said, amazing and resilient!
My wife Debbie…
Ahhhhh, my wonderful wife. When we met I was an incredibly shy and introspective person. I was strong but lived behind a self-made wall that few people could penetrate. Almost immediately, I felt like Debbie saw me, the real me, the me that I wanted people to see but was too afraid to let them see. She broke down some of the first bricks in my wall and I love her for it, forever.
My friend Caren…
She doesn’t know this, but Caren enabled me to be truly “out of the closet” for the first time in my life. My family and close friends knew I was gay but I was never comfortable being open about it at work or in the world at large. Caren made it easy for me at a company we both worked at and I have never looked back. Another layer of bricks crumbled. Thank you my friend, I am forever grateful!
My life coach, Kathy…
Where to start? Kathy has changed my life in immeasurable ways. She saw my wall (I think she’s a magician) and helped me continue to take it down, brick by brick. I suffered terribly from negative self-talk (more on that here) and I had really low expectations of myself. When we started working together my goal was to be merely content with myself and my life. She challenged me to think bigger and, when I did, my goal morphed to “allow myself to enjoy the dreams I have achieved and love myself enough to go after those yet to be”, all of which led me to being here and helping others! Thank you Kathy, I owe you so much.
My friend Kim…
Despite all of the brick chipping, crumbling, and dismantling that had happened so far, I still had some wall left to break down…enter Kim. She came roaring into my life recently and, because of a heavy dose of Kim’s larger-than-life enthusiasm and mojo infusion, I have kicked down the rest of my wall! Kim, you have no idea how much you have changed my life! Someday maybe I’ll be able to express it adequately!
Mum, Debbie, Caren, Kathy, and Kim,
Thank you for seeing me, believing in me, and being a safe place for me to grow and fail, to learn and slip-up. I no longer hide behind self-depreciation, sarcasm, fear and anger. I am a strong, kind, woman warrior and I’m ready to make the world a better place!
There are so many others who have had a huge influence in my life, and I hope you know who you are. I am so lucky and grateful for all of you, too many to mention here by name. I love you all.
This story first appeared on my blog at www.ciaragogan.com. Its been edited to include one very important woman missing from the original, my Mum!