As I approach 2000 followers on my Instagram page @thezipperfoot, I felt I wanted to properly introduce myself and give you a small insight into what this sewing journey means to me. I’m not writing this for dramatic effect or to have anyone feel sorry for me – I’m writing it because I know there will be people out there who are going through tough times and feel like there may be no light at the end of the tunnel and I just want to try and reassure those people that there is. There’s not only light but adventure, strength, fun and friendship. This is not a sewing blog as such but a blog that explains a little about how it’s helped me. So, let me take you back a few years and also introduce myself.
My name is Emma and I work in Occupational Health for a Railway Company. I have worked here all of my life in various roles and am on the approach to my 20 years service. 8 years ago Jenson, my son, entered the world and my seemingly perfect life was turned on its head. At that time I was working in a high earning management role and I had a nice life. This changed dramatically when my sons father left us, never to return. Jenson was 6 weeks old, I was recovering from a C-section and I was about to fall onto half pay. Undeterred (naively) I went into survival mode – fight or flight – and boy did I fight. I moved into a smaller property, I put on my big girl pants and went back to work full time placing my son in nursery 4 days a week from 08.00-17.30. Fine I thought, the money is still coming in, I’ve still got a great career, a house – I can do the strong single Mum thing. No problem. The only thing being, it was a problem, slowly and unknowingly, I must have lost myself. I woke up one morning, a morning I will never forget as long as I live. Jenson was screaming in the room next to me and I was in my bed crying, feeling the most broken I have ever felt. I felt alone because I hadn’t told a soul how I felt, I just wanted to be the best Mum in the world. I felt frightened and almost child like. I called work and said I wouldn’t be in, followed by a call to my GP to say I would be in!!! I went and was signed off work for 6 weeks – I couldn’t be signed off was my immediate reaction! My GP told me it wasn’t something I had a choice over, it was happening and I would be attending counselling sessions across those 6 weeks. I was also advised not to be alone and so I moved home for 6 weeks where my folks welcomed me with open arms.
To cut a long story a little shorter I realised across those 6 weeks that I didn’t even really know my son. Someone else was taking care of him more than I was. I was missing milestones because they were happening at nursery and I just couldn’t miss anymore. I started looking for new work within the company and found a part time admin role. I applied, interviewed and got the job. This made me so happy, I was in Tesco car park at the time I received the call and I told the caller from HR that I loved them…!!!! Not an entirely appropriate response I know but I was elated and it just popped out! I would now have a Wednesday off and finish work on the other days at 14.00! I wouldn’t know myself and I didn’t!! However, this demotion brought another issue with it, overnight I had kissed goodbye to 30k a year. I would be bringing in much less money and have zero responsibility. Two things I was incredibly unsure how I’d feel about. I had worked for a decade to reach the position I was in and overnight I was back earning the same as I had on my first day as a 17 year old with the railway. I was worried….again!
Alongside this worry my health had taken a bit of a bashing and after numerous, invasive investigations which I won’t go into I was diagnosed with IBD. This brought along it’s own issues, mainly anxiety related. I was worried to go anywhere as my body was not behaving quite as I’d like it to!!!! Haha!! I’ve never been a fan of public toilets but I soon learned, if I wanted a life, I was going to have to overcome this fear!! Getting out of the house in the morning was an issue as this was when it was at it’s worst. Looking back I think the madness of my mornings, getting myself up and ready, getting Jenson ready, fighting the traffic etc. None of it helped, all I would think was ‘what if I need to use the bathroom and I’m stuck in traffic…!’ Guess what started happening…I started to need the bathroom whilst stuck in traffic…! The mind is a terrible thing, so strong when we are so weak.
So, these two issues ruled my life for probably the next 3-4 years. Lack of finance and a toilet as a best friend. However, there were positives…I was happy. Jenson was happy and there were no wolves at our door. We had a very modest lifestyle but actually somehow I felt happier.
I never met anyone in the time that Jenson’s Dad left until last year. I was a single Mum and I was determined I wasn’t going to carry the unfortunate tag that seems to go with that title…scrounger / benefits mummy / just out to get pregnant. I wasn’t having it, there was a strong desire to still succeed within me and to do it alongside being a single Mum. I didn’t feel like I needed or wanted a man and actually that was the best decision I ever made. I don’t hate men or anything so awful as that, I was just focussed. I wanted to feel better and I wanted to achieve. Years passed and the IBD was kept at bay with both medication and some cognitive behavioural therapy – this basically gives you coping strategies to stop you panicking when it all kicks off! I put it into practice and it has helped me immensely. I learned to live within my means and go without certain luxuries. The greatest thing that happened across this period of time though is that I re-found myself but this time I found a much stronger version of myself, someone who wasn’t afraid anymore, someone who didn’t care what people thought anymore and someone who was wholly independent and self sufficient. What a feeling.
I started to look for new work on the railway, Jenson was at school by now and I had more time. The opportunity within Occupation Health arose and I could finally put my education to good use! I retrained to get the additional qualifications that were required and I got the bloody job!!!!! Yes!!!! I knew this would be good for us, it would give me the opportunity to once again earn a better salary, to satisfy my need and thirst for knowledge and to be able to provide and offer better opportunities for Jenson. This almost brings us up to date, I have been in Occ’ Health for three years now and I finally feel totally back to me. Prior to this, I felt like I was climbing up a mountain, a beautiful one but I was keen to see the view from the top. It’s amazing what you can see when you’re above the clouds, you see that a lot of life is false, people aren’t as happy as they make out, social media does have a lot to answer for and life can be happy without loads of money. We live in a very materialistic, pressurised world and we need to take a step back sometimes. Appreciate the small things, appreciate each other and just appreciate your life!!! I feel so lucky and yet I have nothing really…nothing of financial value anyway!!
You may wonder where this fits into my sewing story! Well, a few months back when I reached the peak of my mountain I felt it was right about time that I did something for me. I had spent the previous 8 years living and breathing for my son. I had an existence in some ways, I was Jenson’s Mum. I have friends, obviously, but we always end up talking about our kids which is fine but I just wanted something else, something more and I’m not talking about with regard to my friends as I love them dearly. I mean I wanted to do something where people knew me as Emma and where nobody knows me or my history. This is when I started my Instagram page, @thezipperfoot. Four months ago now I signed up to Instagram and I started learning how to sew and I shared it all with the sewing community. I could never have imagined what was to come, never. I was met by a community who warmly welcomed me into their lives, who encouraged me, praised me and advised me. I have made friends who I know solely because they sew too, I know nothing about them and they know nothing about me! We are joined by one common thread, a love of sewing. I now chat to some of these people almost daily, sometimes just to check in, sometimes with sewing issues! I love it and I love them!!!! I feel like I’ve been given such a great gift and this is where social media does shine – by connecting people. People that otherwise would probably not have met. Best of all, it’s mine. It has nothing to do with Jenson, it’s mine and I’m Emma there. It’s the icing on my cake. I feel very blessed.
I’m sharing this because I had a chat with a lady on instagram last week who is having a rubbish time, outwardly you would never know and I just saw myself in her. Don’t damage yourself as I did, share. Talk to someone, a friend, a relative, a professional…don’t keep it bottled up. The greatest gift we have in this life is humanity, people can be cruel but they can also be kind…in fact they can be amazing and sometimes help comes from the most unlikely of people! I think we need to look after and protect each other – praise each other and be kind. Life is hard enough without competition or unrealistic materialistic expectations!!!!
Live within your means and be proud of them, don’t be afraid to take a backwards step – sometimes it’s just preparing you for the greatest leap forward, love those around you, believe in yourself and don’t feel bad to do something that’s solely for you. We all need that.
Climb your mountain because the view from the top is pretty outstanding 🙂
And thank you @sewersofinstagram for giving me the best gift I could wish for – acceptance, encouragement, praise and friendship. There are too many to mention but I can’t not mention @notimetosew, @mummabmakes, @make140, @robinsnest1926 @pocketortwo, @the.polka.dot.palace, @carrie_can_make_it and @louisalovestosew … you guys rock!!