Let’s start with the earliest male influence in my life – that of my father. Whenever I was around my Daddy I felt totally loved and adored. And I, in turn loved him back completely and utterly. He always told me that anything is possible, and through him I believed in magic. After all, wasn't he the person who could build a plane out of bits of wood, paper, glue and paint, and make it fly... with a real engine? He taught me how to play and how to fight as well "you must always know how to stand up for yourself" he'd say to me. We would walk together, laugh together and sometimes cry together – and I knew he’d always be my world. So when he died so suddenly when I was just four years old I learned some profound lessons. Some of which have been helpful, others not so – all of which have certainly had an influence on the way my life has unfolded since then.
The helpful lessons include these specific ones I still hold dear, which are that anything is possible, there is such a thing as magic, and that dreams really do come true. These remain some of my guiding values and, rightly or wrongly, have keep me going through many of the darkest periods of my life.
One of the not so helpful and equally influential lessons – a subconscious one I’m still unravelling – was the belief that I wasn't good enough for him. That quite clearly he didn't love me enough, because if he did surely he would never have left me? I learned what it means to feel abandoned, afraid and alone; and as a consequence I learned to keep my distance from anyone who might start to mean too much to me. I also learned to keep myself locked away so that I could never be hurt like that again.
My less than positive lessons were compounded twelve years later by the treatment received from my guardian. It was while I was under his roof that I learned it was safer to please than to speak out – better to fit in, to be a good girl, to do everything I possibly could to make my guardians' lives easier and make myself invisible. I believed that if I could do that successfully, then perhaps I would be able to maintain the unstable home he and his wife were providing for both me and my little sister after the death of our mother. I’d seen the way he treated his wife. I’d witnessed his cold behaviour towards his small children, together with the endless jibes and gossip about his friends and family behind their backs. I understood the threatening uncertainty of our predicament and knew I had to keep both my sister and myself safe and away from his radar.
But in the end my best wasn’t enough and I couldn't save the situation. I couldn't win his heart and we were both thrown out despite my best efforts to placate. And so another lesson was compounded – that once again I hadn’t been ‘good enough’. This time, though, I'd not only let myself down, I'd let my sister down as well because I'd failed to keep her safe. And on top of that I must surely be a very bad person to deserve this treatment. Again, a deeply engrained lesson that has clearly been behind some of my less than healthy life choices since then.
Fending for myself at a relatively early age made me toughen up in a way that many of my female friends had yet to discover. So rather than having close girlfriends, I tended to have a collection of close male friends. I found them straight forward, straight talking, and fun to be with. I found I could be myself with them, and felt chuffed when they called me 'an honorary bloke'. I learned a great deal about their approach to life, and being in their company strengthened the male side in me - something, I'm sure, that has encouraged me to be so driven in business. So determined to carve my own path and make a name for myself. These, I believe, were all good lessons. Perhaps, though, there was a fall-out as well. Perhaps I neglected my feminine side as a result. My instinctive, nurturing side.
Oh, sure I could be nurturing to others - but not to myself. You see, I'd learned from the men in my life to stay strong - an approach that served me well at the time. If I hadn't been strong during my teens and twenties, then surely I would have broken down in to tiny pieces. So I learned how to become driven and focused. To believe that I was invincible so that I could deal with any situation. I would be the first to stand up against any injustice that had been suffered by another. I would put my neck on the line time and time again for those I believed had been wronged or misjudged. Because I knew I was strong enough to handle anything - look at what I'd already survived? On top of that, for much of my life I believed that I had a point to prove - that if I kept myself together and could prove that I was a good and worthwhile girl, well then perhaps, just perhaps, maybe one day I would no longer be a bad person and might be loved for just being me.
The change happened with the birth of my son when I was 30 years old. All of a sudden I started to consider that perhaps I was already good enough - in fact, perhaps I always had been. Through him I learned the meaning of unconditional love. I was enchanted and intoxicated by the exquisite and sometimes overwhelming feelings of gratitude and love I felt for this small defenseless person who utterly depended on me - and who absolutely trusted me to provide whatever he needed. And through my love for him, I finally realised for sure that my father would never have left me on purpose. I also began to understand that I had been holding on to a series of unhelpful subconscious beliefs that had shaped my life in to some less than positive twists and turns. So I embarked on my quest to consciously re-shape my life - a journey that is still continuing. I became a dedicated student of self-development and self-discovery in a bid to help me unravel the harmful lessons I'd absorbed through my earlier life.
Paradoxically, I was the strongest I'd ever been - emotionally, spiritually and physically - when I met Cam nearly three years later. At the top of my personal game, it never occurred to me that he was anything other than who he professed to be. Through my relationship with him I learned about commitment, contentment and the fulfillment of my life's dream - to be accepted and adored for who I was.
Despite the fact that since then I've discovered the grisly truth about him, those experiences are still mine to keep. Despite the fact that my feelings were never reciprocated, it doesn't matter a jot. I'm proud and grateful for those feelings. Because I felt them myself... honestly, willingly and with all of me. And I loved those feelings. And through what's happened since I discovered the truth, I have learned for certain that I am a good person. That I am enough. Because even though I could have crumbled as a result of his deceit, instead I've been able to draw on my strength and positive determination and I've pulled myself and Dylan through. On top of that I've grown further in the process - and am continuing to grow on a daily basis! So, as I've said before, I'm thankful for the deeply cleansing qualities of the whole ten-plus years he was an influence on my experiences. How on earth could I choose to feel anything else but gratitude?
And the most recent lessons from a man I've loved? Well, Simon has shown me the depth and breadth of the lessons I've been learning - and I know for sure that through our relationship, some old and deeply engrained patterns have shown themselves to have been finally shifted. I'm confident that those lessons are well and truly learned and absorbed - and there is no need for me to experience them ever again, at any level. And as for the thunderbolt of love I described at the summer festival? It remains with me to this day and is mine to keep for ever. Because, as I said at the time, it came from something bigger than the both of us, and stirred something deep within me that had not been reached before - at least, not on a conscious level. The power and innocence of that love meant I could love safely with Stuart - deeply and honestly. And at the same time be authentic to myself - something I'd failed to do previously in countless other relationships, be it with friends, family or lovers. So thank you, my Chevalier, for helping me on so many levels that will positively shape my life going forward. Thank you also for an on-going friendship that I know will stand the test of time.
And now… now… I have a sneaking feeling I may have found a new teacher to take over from all the male influences in my life. Someone who has been there all the time, but who has been waiting in the wings. Or, put another way, perhaps someone who I'd refused to acknowledge. This person, though, is someone who will never leave me - someone who has never left me. Someone who cannot let me down, and who understands me completely. Someone who is absolutely with me, on my side, and will do everything within their power to make sure I live my life to the full, and fulfill or exceed all of my dreams.
So who is this person? Well, it may come as no surprise to learn that this person is me. Yes, little old me – Mel Carnegie. Here it is, and here I am. And I'm now very happy to announce to anyone who cares to listen, that I’m in once again in a committed and deeply loving relationship. But this time, it’s with myself. And right now, that’s the most important relationship in the world.