How do you feel your confidence has changed over the past 10 years?

I become more confident in the last ten years.

In my twenties and thirties, I was in a wrong job and abusive, coercive relationship. I was drinking too much and although I had not “reached bottom” I was sitting very comfortable in grey area of drinking.

Things started to change in my late thirties when I decided to change career and end my marriage.

After years of confusion and self-doubt my confidence soared, I started private practice where I support people with alcohol problems.

We talk about domestic abuse a lot; it seems these two often are like evil twins.

Why do you think that is?

After ending an abusive relationship, a scary and extremely challenging time in my life, I finally had time to ask myself “Who am I?”, “What I want?”, “What my dreams are?”.

Answers that led to discovering I am autistic and ADHD. It felt like coming home, having identity and finally being able to understand myself.

It gave me more self-awareness and confidence followed. I think knowing who we are is a massive part of real confidence that is often overlooked.

Do you feel invisible in some aspects of your life? How does that show up?

Sometimes I feel invisible.

When I am asking for reasonable adjustments and my needs being dismissed or minimised.

When I talk to medical professionals with limited understanding of Autism and ADHD and its presentation in physical and mental health.

When what I went through in my marriage was brushed off.

What I have learnt from it is I need to take space and make myself visible.

Visibility is not always given, as a woman I often must claim it.

Tell me about a woman who is older than you, inspires you and why? Describe how she makes you feel.

I don’t have a role model, but I like how Hellen Mirren and Andie McDowell embrace aging and break stereotypes about older females. That we are strong, beautiful, experienced no matter what age and how many wrinkles we have!

Our qualities do not disappear because we have grey hair and wrinkles!

What worries you about ageing?

What scares me is that I will, at some point, need people looking after me.

That I might become truly invisible with no strength to claim my space, and people might think they have a right to make decisions on my behalf without consulting me.

What excites you about ageing?

My wrinkles 😊!

The possibilities that come with age, experience.

Understanding and liking myself a little more, every day.

The history written on my face, the perseverance and resilience to keep going, the giggles and twinkles that show up in my eyes every time something excites me!

Growing love and compassion for myself and people around me.

The happiness and unspoken understanding I have with the lady in a mirror.

What advice would you give your 15-year old self?

You are not responsible for other people actions.

You are important and smart.

You deserve to be loved.

You have a right to choose.

You can change your mind.

Do your best to be financially independent.

Don’t ignore your intuition.

Being kind is not a weakness.

Question from Audrey…

What does strength mean to you?

Not giving up. If you believe in something you keep going until you get where you want to be.

It is the kindness you show to others even when you feel trapped, and the world is collapsing around you.

Going to bed thinking “I will just try again, tomorrow”.

Waking up in the morning and letting yourself not to try… just being and breathing, getting your strength back, so one day you’ll say, “I am ready to try again”.

Just being a woman.

Thank you Monika for answering my questions.