Underneath The Mask of an Achiever (My Most Vulnerable Blog)

I started crying when I was thinking about writing this after coming back from a great day watching football with my dad. I knew I MUST write it as it was calling from my heart. I was getting off the train in Bristol (my city) and then walked past a shop where I saw some alcohol. I wasn’t tempted to have any on a Good Friday and was looking forward to going home for a nice relaxed evening, yet I felt a huge level of emotion (both sad and beautiful) when it triggered something off and felt called to write perhaps one of my most vulnerable pieces yet.

I’m in a pretty beautiful place right now, I do have challenges and stresses come up and more emotional mastery (a lifetime process) yet I’m able to feel my emotions much more deeply now and what’s so amazing is that I can experience some amazing emotions without the aid of things like alcohol (which I haven’t drunk since the start of the year) or a huge level of approval from others.

There were many years though where I was using something like alcohol to not feel, every weekend (and I was pretty unconscious to it). It was a band aid to feeling my emotions. A couple of years ago, even with so much personal growth inside of me, times got tougher and I started using it a little more regularly than just my wild partying at weekends. I didn’t (fortunately for me) get to a point where I needed it to live or operate yet things got pretty dark. It was the closest thing I had to feeling happy and numbing out so much mental pain that came to the surface that I had never dealt with.

I was honestly at a point where I hated waking up every day, I didn’t want to die yet being alive didn’t inspire me. Unfortunately this happened on and off over the next year. External events really got to my deepest wounds…. My deepest pain and traumas.

At that point I had a choice…. Find ways to temporarily move the pain like quick fixes like drinking or instant gratification or face my deepest and darkest emotions. I chose to face and really be with myself.

Tears stream down my face right now and I write this…. I’m so grateful I made that decision. I know any type of pain or challenge I went through and go through has meaning.

I know we all have different situations and challenges, but as a man appearing confident and in control on the outside I wanted to share mine. It’s not to compare one another, but I genuinely wanted to share a message that you never know what a man (or person of course) is going through no matter what it seems on the outside. I was also reminded this from the death of the captain of my supported football team who died by suicide – a strong leader and player.

I’ve shared in previous blogs or content that I lost a lot of people from a young age a brother, grandad and grandma so I think some part of that caused a lot of repressed grief. Yet I have felt something deeper and I experienced something deeper. A combination of aloneness, abandonment, sadness, terror and I’m not sure why it’s all there. I could spend a lifetime searching for the answers, I’d rather do what I need to though, which is feel them, accept them and choose new meanings to life.

Challenging emotions and feelings for me don’t make sense given my blessing of a life, I used to dismiss that. Now I acknowledge them and know they are there. I have two incredible parents and a sister, that I love and the best I could ask for. I have a lot of amazing friends in my life too. I have many achievements and skills and things I’ve worked hard for two successful careers, run a successful business, a podcast, and achieved many things in sport with many awards.

Yet something deep and buried has been there in my system. Something that terrified me as a child that would give me nightmares and I never knew what it was. This is difficult to explain and hard to talk about. I found many coping strategies; addiction to my playstation as a kid, daydreaming in my teenage years and partying away in my twenties and then a personal growth junkie my late twenties to early thirties (where I am now). Alongside being an achiever and working hard experiencing stress rather than the deeper challenges.

Feeling what needs to be felt is a process I’ve been working through.I celebrate now though. I’m more than ok with sitting with my deep challenging emotions, holding myself whether I need to scream it out or cry. I also can really experience more beautiful emotions like love and gratitude.

The main point I’d like to make is that where the break throughs and connection has been for me is in the ’being’ not ‘doing’. If I can’t allow myself to experience the darkest depths of myself, how can I experience to true beauty of life? I make my intention I don’t run from me, I don’t avoid me, I’m here for me. My other intention is to stay away from judgement of someone else and separate their behaviour as you never know the depth of challenge they could be facing inside.

I celebrate the work I’ve put into me and my mental health and growth, the time, the attention, the coaching, the therapy, the plant medicine and most of all courage I’ve had to be with the deepest and most challenging parts of myself.

Thank you life.

Jonny Pardoe

©The Self Esteem and Confidence Mindset Ltd 2024

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