How My Dream Began
My dream started when I was twenty one years old and living in a violent relationship. I was lost. I had no real friends, I was angry, I was lonely and my children were suffering. My self esteem was gone and I had really hit the bottom of the black hole. I also had three children aged five, two, and four months old to care for.
One night after yet another violent argument with my partner, I found myself at the Royal Children’s Hospital. My son had been admitted after being physically hurt. It was 2am and there I was, crammed into a little room with my three children, officers from the Department of Human Services, some Federal Police and a few staff from the hospital.
They questioned me for a very long time about the relationship I was living in, and how my son was hurt. I was grilled about why I was staying in this abusive relationship and why I was putting my children through it all.
After a couple of hours of this I was asked to leave the room. I sat out in the waiting room until eventually they called me back in. I was told that I had to get myself and my children out of the situation I was in. All the authorities who were represented in that room had discussed my situation and as of today I had two choices.
My first choice was that I could stay in the relationship and have my three children placed into foster care. I remember dropping to my knees begging them not to take my children from me. Then they offered the second choice.
If I took the second choice I could keep my children but I must change my life. The conditions were that, beginning immediately, I would be court ordered to not have anything to do with my violent partner for twelve weeks. In those twelve weeks, I would have to attend a domestic violence counsellor. I wanted desperately to keep my children but couldn’t see how I could possibly change my life.
That night I was forced to make the best choice of my whole life. That night the dream began.
I went along to the domestic violence group, thinking that I really did not belong as I was not bruised and battered. As it was court ordered though, I had to attend. For some reason I remember exactly what I was wearing the first time I went along a little pair of blue denim shorts and a red singlet top. I was trying to hide my legs because I felt so fat and disgusting. I was a size eight. I remember telling my counsellor Donna that I felt very ugly.
Although I started with a negative attitude, after a while I started to realise that the group was really helping to build up my self esteem. The sessions were every Tuesday and Saturday and I attended them without fail. They even had a child care facility where my children could be safely minded. The Tuesday sessions always finished at 3pm and I would head straight to the school afterwards to pick up Josh. Every Tuesday after the session I would stride into school as confident as the Queen. I was on cloud nine, so excited about what was happening.
However even with all the help of the group, it was extremely hard for me to just walk away from my partner. I really thought I loved him. One day I was feeling really depressed and was sorely tempted to slip back into the relationship. I knew that if I was caught I would lose my children and felt like I must be the worst Mum alive. I asked for guidance from my counsellor Donna. She said ‘Stacey, go and hire a book from the library’. I looked at her blankly and replied ‘Is that all you can recommend? I really hate books’.
By that point I had gained a tremendous amount of respect for Donna. I was finding that everything she told me was true, so I had a lot of trust in her. After that session I went to my local library and hired a book on sexual abuse. It was BRILLIANT! For the past two years I had been told every day that I was a psycho, insecure, a scum bag, a slut. Now, for the first time in my life I started to feel normal. All the emotions I was experiencing were totally normal. My favourite part of the book was the exercises to help turn all that negativity around, get over my issues and create a successful life for myself and my children. I took action on all the learnings and watched in amazement as my life soon started to transform. My self esteem reached an all time high. I felt great, I truly loved who I was becoming and felt like the best Mum to my children. I even felt attractive for the first time in my life.
After this I became addicted to reading and self development. In the ten years since then, I have read a book every week. The topics vary depending on the issues I am facing at the time. I have read books on self esteem, parenting and anger. I have read business book, books on marketing, I have read the stories of entrepreneurs, successful women, successful business owners and many many more.
As I read, I started to realise that all successful people have some things in common. We all read books, we all have a strong commitment, we are all motivated, we all face our fears and we all have strong values.
I remember reading one day on the internet about a woman who was only thirty years old and had built a very successful business. I read everything I could about this lady; how she began, the obstacles and hurdles she had faced, everything I could find. I’d had a dream since I was eight years old of owning my own business. After reading this lady’s story, I knew I could make my dream a reality.
I wanted to know more about successful women. Why were they so confident and successful when I wasn’t? What was their secret? I wanted to be able to network with them without feeling intimidated or thinking they were better than me. I became obsessed with learning everything I could about successful women. With each learning, I realised more and more that I was just as good as these women, even though they were all older than me. I could become just as successful as they were if I wanted to. I had no more excuses. It was up to me.
My next goal was to surround myself with friends who had a positive outlook. I started to look for positive young Mums. I attended a young Mums’ group but it just was not for me. They spent their time talking about drinking, partying, smoking; all the things I did not want to be involved in. I struggled to find the people I wanted to be around, so I googled successful young Mums and positive young Mums. I looked at the library for books on young Mums. I could not believe that there was nothing positive to be found relating to young Mums.
By now I had become involved in our current business, Signs ‘n’ Banners, so I started to attend business women’s functions. I found I was extremely intimidated by the older women there. It had nothing to do with the women themselves; it was my own lack of self esteem getting in the way. I had come so far, and yet I could see that my self esteem still had a long way to go.