I’ve learned that….

1-Change Myself

I’ve learned that whilst I now know there are people out there who’ll lie, trick, cheat and bully, I don’t have to change myself, my essence, as a result of this new knowledge (this was a comforting lesson to learn). I can still be me: open-minded, open Helen…I just need to be more cautious. Just because someone took advantage of me doesn’t mean I have to fence myself off and be on my guard all the time (this thought, this assumption that I’d need to change, was one of the hardest mental battles I fought). He rocked my foundations but he won’t change my outlook or my world view. A world view that’s based on a strong belief in human goodness and in the power of kindness. I’ll be damned if he changes me, alters the very essence of who I am. 

2-Evil Exists

I’ve learned that evil exists. It disguised itself as love but let’s call it what it was. Evil. A mockery of all things good. A disguise. A fake. Multiple masks, worn, exchanged as necessary (I now understand the repeated visits to the mask shop in Venice, understand his morbid, bordering on obsessive, fascination with it – my deeper me knew something was amiss but I refused to acknowledge it at the time, my ever hopeful ego trying to make amends). Evil. It touched me, touched us. Got close to us. Tried to pull us all down. It’s a real thing. Excuses can be made, upbringing, circumstances, psychiatric diagnoses conveniently accepted when it might mean the possibility of lighter sentences, but I saw it. Sometimes you can’t make excuses. You have to call it what it is. Evil. It can come disguised as whatever it wants; that disguise is never good enough to trick those who are guided by love and light. It won’t win.


I’ve learned that I’m one strong momma! I always knew I was strong (due to my fierce independent streak). I always knew I was resilient. I always knew I can do many things. But surviving what I have? Coming through that not only alive but stronger? I’m proud of myself. I take pride in my tenacity and my bravery. I don’t care if that sounds like I’m showing off when I say that. I’ve been through a – quite literal – Hell on Earth and I survived. I didn’t die. I’m alive. And I’m thriving. We’re thriving. It’s not only amazing. It should be celebrated. Shout it from the rooftops, Helen: “You’re a survivor”. You stared Hell in the face, came nose to nose with it, so close you could smell it’s skanky useless breath and you stared it down. You took your collected wisdom, concentrated your strength and you fought, silently but strongly, you fought that beast down. With good. Only with good. Truth. Love. Only good.


I’ve learned that life doesn’t end when you think it’s about to. (This was a hard one to learn!). At the point when you’ll be forced to your knees, to ask to be shown a way through. At your very lowest point, when going on didn’t seem possible, but it was only the thought of the beauty of life that kept you going, the ant scuttling past that distracted you sufficiently you simply couldn’t do it, couldn’t even hold the thoughts necessary to contemplate the practicality of it – at that point things will change. Your lowest point will be your turning point. It might not be fast. It certainly won’t be easy, but you’ll go on. Because life goes on. You’ll have setbacks. You’ll battle yourself in your own mind. You’ll feel lost, uncertain, alone. A myriad of negative emotions will bombard you each and every day. But you’ll feel hopeful and…


I’ve learned that one grain of hope is stronger than any amount of fear. And that you must take your hope where you find it, however you find it, and it’ll grow. You’ve just got to believe it’ll grow and it will. [Yes, it sounds corny but it’s not – it’s one of the truest certainties there is]. Take a little bit of hope, however small, and focus on that and nothing else, nothing bad, and it’ll get you out of that dark place, that despair, and it’ll lead you onwards, out, to brighter places, better pastures. Don’t let the fear in. Do whatever it takes to not let it in. Yes, that’s hard to do, because fear is insidious, it slinks in to every corner, every thought but…


I’ve learned that you need to train your mind, to leash it, to control it, to be able to tell it what to do, what to pay attention to, what to ignore. If you don’t train your mind, when you’re trying to get through something tough it almost killed you, then your mind will finish you off. Your own mind. It’ll a slow death, a living death. You’ll be alive but you’ll be consumed by dark thoughts, by thoughts that don’t have any positive purpose, and this heaviness, this weight you carry around in your mind – mostly of your own making – it’ll drag you down, heavy, heavy clothes clinging to you as you try to stay afloat. Train your mind. Tell yourself you must let it go, let it all go. If you don’t do this, if you don’t make the effort to do this, you’ll be lost. You’ll lose yourself, long stretches of time will be lost. That you’ll never get back. You owe it to yourself to be brave and to face the beasts in your head, to stare them down and show them who’s boss. To control them so they don’t control you. If you don’t do this, you won’t be living your life, you’ll be living a life based on fear and what fear makes you do and how it makes you act.


I’ve learned, all over again, that life is beautiful. Beauty-full. Full of beauty. Wherever you care to look. Full of things to be happy about, to take joy in and to revel in. Focus on that, on all of life’s beauty, focus on choosing to find, to see, beauty where you can and it’ll give you strength and lead you out of your state, of your no-living, barely alive state of fear. Choose beauty. Once you do, fear, ugly thoughts, evil, they won’t be an option any longer. You won’t have space in your head or your heart for negative, you’ll be so filled up with joy. It’ll elate you, show you a new way and you’ll want to run towards it, arms wide open, drinking it in, this feeling that’s been so long gone.

8-tghanksoccupies space

I’ve learned that life, every day, is full of a million little moments and that happiest comes when we stop and savour them. When we take time to mark the moment, to register it’s passing by observing it and giving thanks for it. Gratitude: a state of being that allows us to be in this state of eternal now, of eternal thankfulness for everything positive, everything beauty. Give thanks for all that you have, all that you are, for your feet that carry you, your eyes that help you see, for the world, the stars, the grass, the way things work, function. Give thanks and the cracks that negative enters through will close, they’ll seal up, boards marking ‘No room at the Inn’. Thanks occupies a lot of space.


I’ve learned, through all of this, that I want to learn how to be me. How to express my talents, my joys, my sadnesses, how to use the gifts I’ve been given, to the best effect. I’m nearly 41 and I find I’m re-learning what those talents are and how very strongly they’re calling me to be used. That voice, that calling, it’s strong and it’s determined. It’s waited patiently all this time but now it can see the light and it wants centre stage. “Use your talents, Helen” it shouts. And now, because I have space to listen, for the things that need to be heard, to be internalised, I am listening. I’m learning to unfold, to trust, to be led. I’m learning, I realise, learning how to be. 

[Written in response to Karen Beth’s Tuesday’s at Ten prompt, “I have learned”. Karen Beth hosts the Tuesdays at Ten link-up at her blog Finding the Grace Within; details here]


29 thoughts on “I’ve learned that….

  1. After all you’ve been through Helen – I can’t believe how strong you are – especially mentally. You have come through it all stronger and you are thriving! Keep up the great work!!

    I agree, unfortunately, that there is evil in the world. I feel I have seen it at times too. But I completely believe and agree with you about hope and how it grows, and about how much beauty there is too – if we choose to see it. Keep hoping, keep growing, keep thriving – keep finding yourself and then keep sharing your talents and knowledge. You are amazing. xoxo


    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Carrie, you blow me over every time you leave me one of these beautiful comments (and they go straight in my blessings jar, written out by hand)…..thank you, thank you, thank you, Helen xxx


  2. juliekirk says:

    There’s something cyclical or complementary about how you can *now* write/reflect so clearly about your experiences and express them to others … and how it’s those same abilities that got you through those experiences in the first place. That it’s not a *different* Helen who’s looking back – but it’s the fact you always were Helen that saw you safely to a place where you *could* look back. If that makes sense!


  3. Sian says:

    I think that, out of everything you have written, it’s the note about the mask shop which has finally completely revealed thefull horror to me. I’ve always found them indescribably unsettling..


    • iwillbloom says:

      Sian, your comment gave me chills when I read it this morning…yes, the horrors were that awful, but I’m through it…..we’re through it. Not out the other side yet but I can see the light again.


  4. Tessa says:

    That was a wonderful piece. You are one strong woman.


  5. You are thriving (and inspiring!)! Your attitude and grace give me the needed push not to let things weigh me down and your attitude towards kindness & gratitude is wonderful! I love how you are able to take the simplest of post ideas and give them meaning.
    Have a fantastic day!


    • iwillbloom says:

      Hia Kim, so so good to ‘see’ you….loved your comment, which made me smile so much (thank you!)….you *will* get through this small valley….promise!….anyone who buys – and then wears – those moustache glasses (!) has to soon see the positive fun side of life again, and sooner rather than later 😉


  6. Barbara says:

    Oh, yes, Helen!! I read your heart and soul and all that you have been through in this post! You ARE coming through it better than ever and – love this: “learning how to be”. Yes, there IS evil in this world, unfortunately! I have seen that evil face to face as well…though I did not “live” with it day after day – I could have, had I let the evil consume me and continue to be its victim. I chose not to continue being its victim – as you have!!! I thank God you are the Helen of TODAY and are “learning how to be” – for this is the Helen that He wants to raise your children; to connect with others (the world?!) through your powerful words! I thank God WE have connected!! Thank you, once again, for sharing yourself and opening your heart and soul for us to read and follow!!

    Many blessings to you and your little ones!


  7. rebekahbeene says:

    Beautiful, encouraging, true and lovely.


  8. Karen Beth says:

    I love how you highlighted each meaning to your writing above it.. that was really cool…. LOVE LOVE IT! thank you as always for sharing …..

    as you probably already seen my news on FACEBOOK .. be sure to check back on the Tuesday at Ten Facebook page Monday evening.. we just began something new where I am choosing one highlighted writer a week who used the prompt phrase the best … you will receive a blog award if you get highlighted ..

    be sure to post my new Tuesday at Ten graphic logo on your blog or in the blog writing for Tuesday at Ten so others know to link up ..

    thank you again for being a part of Tuesday at Ten .. I enjoy reading them all ..


    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Karen Beth….graphic logo has been added in now (sorry) as has a link to your Tuesdays at Ten landing page (double sorry)…I posted in a rush last night, in between finishing a piece of work, and shouldn’t have omitted those originally….do forgive me! I hadn’t seen the news on the FB page (I only go in to FB usually to check in with a group of long-standing blog friends)…I’ll head over and check it out (thanks for the heads up)….thanks! Love your prompts (as you know) and love the community you’ve created. Thank you. Helen


  9. Barbie says:

    You have a beautiful way with words to convey your story. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me. Visiting from Tuesdays @ 10!


  10. Susan says:

    This is an amazing post, Helen. I think a lot of people could benefit from reading it, people I know who have not responded to life’s challenges with the positive responses you’ve been able to muster, people who are being challenged with life now and finding it hard to see the beauty. Thanks for being you and for sharing your experiences and responses so authentically and powerfully. Be blessed.


    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Susan, thanks for your very lovely comment. I hope, when I write, that it does reach the people you mention: those who, like me, are processing things and wondering ‘why’ and ‘when will it end’…..thank you for your blessings. Helen


  11. alexa says:

    I love your thinking about thanks taking up a lot of space and gratitude sealing the cracks where negativity might creep in – and such of a lot of your wisdom is borne out of hard experience and therefore all the more vibrant for it :).


  12. Helen, from what I’ve read, you’ve apparently been through so much my dear. I’m so proud that you choose not to let it change you. One of my favorite sayings I’d like to pass along to you goes something like “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted. Thank you for sharing.


    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment….I saw that quote the other day and loved it. Love the idea of the seed sprouting from the dark. Thanks so much! So much appreciated! Helen


  13. Charlotte says:

    Yes you are strong. You are such an amazing lady, and I love who you are! X


  14. Beautiful Helen! I loved what you wrote about hope being stronger than fear. Even just one grain of hope. 🙂 Need my own reminder of that. You are an extremely strong, badass lady Helen!


  15. Also I liked how you talked about staying OPEN and KIND even if we’ve been through hell. I like that. We don’t have to change our essence. Love that. oxoxo


  16. Carly says:

    Definitely some great life lessons that most people have to learn eventually in their lives. I hate that we have to learn that evil exists. It makes me so sad to think about my child learning that lesson.
    Dresses & Denim


  17. Eva says:

    It takes some people lifetimes to learn all that you’ve learned and (what appears to be) so quickly! You’re an amazing person, Helen. I don’t personally know you, but just by reading what you write and how kind you are and how wonderful of a mother you are… I can tell you’re incredible. This post is from a little while ago and you’ve not written more since, I hope that’s because you’re enjoying an exciting, fun-filled summer with your children. I hope you’re very, very well.


  18. Charlotte says:

    You are an incredible, strong woman and I am in awe of you. I think you are just a fantastic example to women x


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