When I was little I was unsure about everything and fretted about anything. If the cat was sick. If my teacher wasn't on form. If my parents were unhappy.
Sometimes I would come away from talking to someone who was negatively charged and feel inexplicably down. They would say something slightly critical and I would feel annihilated.
It made me utterly empathetic and highly emotional. Good for being artistic but bad for life.
I struggled with this for many teenage and adult years yet it did not sort itself out.
I thought I had got near the answer when I went to Australia I was told I was 'connected' and was just tapping into other peoples' auras or vibrations. I also learnt that feeling 'odd' at times meant that I was living out some previous bad Karma.
But it never solved the problem.
Then one day I had a moment of epiphany. It was my birthday - for me a perennial obsession - and I woke up feeling horribly empty.
It was my day. A celebration of me. Yet somehow I felt that I didn't deserve it. It was then that I understood why I felt so fragile or crushed by others. It was not just in response to their energy but it was because I was dependent on it. I only saw myself through their eyes. My opinion of me was non existent or rock bottom, yet I was addicted to the views of others.
We all are supposedly told by our parents we are beautiful and great when we are little. But some of us are told too much of that, some too little.
I had the kingpin position for the first three years of my life and then things changed. I went from fusion to abandonment. I had value and then it and then suddenly it was gone. After that I stopped believing in myself and sought to define myself through other people or jobs or things.
It created an unattractive concoction of attention seeking and insecure behaviour. Trying to get people to listen to me first. Trying to beat everyone at school. Trying to control others' reactions.
I know now that if I had had a stable base of inner confidence I would have been less needy or 'wobbly'. I would have cared less when I failed and been more content in myself when I succeeded.
Lack of self-esteem is like a leaky bucket. No matter what anyone says you just don't believe it. If they say you look nice you think they are lying or if they say you're looking tired it means you must be ill.
All of this is subtle and yet a daily grind. But it means that you strive for perfection, settle for nothing but first best and are often seen as the high achiever.
In truth I had achieved a lot by superficial standards but I was not actually doing what I wanted to do. I felt restless deep down, hollow when everyone patted me on the back and desperate to do better, get that promotion.
Then I had some life hiccups and I got forced off the well trodden path to do what I loved. Doors of my old life in advertising closed and new doors opened.
I got sick for a start. Excessive worrying undermines the nervous and digestive system. Not to mention the disturbed sleep patterns and nightmares. I got shingles and acid reflux.
I was also brutally fired from the job. The so called peak of my career became the nadir.
I had no choice but to align myself with what I want to do with my life. It took a while and I made a few turns but after a lot of listening to my inner voice I got to know me, what I love and therefore what I am best at.
It has not been easy to stay in my truth. There's nothing like a snotty dinner party when someone turns round and asks you "what you do" and then switches off if it isn't a traditional career. Or when my contemporaries are all now CEOs of companies with swanky offices and salaries.
In fact everything over the last five years has been a self esteem bootcamp. Divorce, job loss, new home and marrying one of the most successful ad-men in France.
It is definitely the path less trodden by, but that, as they say, makes all the difference. It has taken me to the edge of pain and doubt but it has given me a sturdiness I never had before. One that is vital for happy life and for bringing happy life into the world. It means a life built on rock, not on sand.