How I built myself up to working for myself
Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse & Rape
“What was once a void is now a value”
I’m Kerry Boland. I am from Stockport in Manchester. I work with female entrepreneurs on their sales strategies and I’m a mother of three.
I grew up in Reddish as the eldest of 4 children. My dad always drilled into us that you had to make something of yourself so the people and jobs I looked up to were the people in suits. As a primary school kid, I wanted to be a solicitor!
By secondary school, I was forever getting suspended. I think I was like this because I was being bullied. From year 7 to year 10 or 11 I was bullied, and I have never known why.
I think I was playing up to fit in and to make people laugh with me instead of at me; but I was too afraid to admit to my dad what was going on because he had always told us to stick up for ourselves and to have our own backs.
My parents divorced when I was 14 and I went off the rails a bit: wagging school, going clubbing and when I was 16, I moved out.
I left school in June and moved out in October. I had a place at college, but I got a job over the summer in a catering business, liked the money too much and I never went back to school.
After that, I got a job at the co-op bank and realised how good I was at sales. I began my journey working my way up the bank and into a different sales arena.
I got pregnant at 18 and signed off on a house with a guy I had been with for a couple years. It left us skint. I fell in love with someone at work and I ended up leaving the guy that I bought the house with.
Two months later I was pregnant, and I was a mother by 19. The birth was horrendous, and he was poorly at birth with e-coli septicaemia. I don’t think I realised at the time how serious it was.
We ended up having another baby who was planned, and we were together for 5 years. We were just too young however and he wasn’t supportive enough for me. We are still good friends, and he is in the boy’s lives.
Being a mum so young made me stop and think about what I wanted from life. What I realised I wanted was to give my kid’s the best life I possibly could.
I went back to college, did my GCSEs again and did an access to nursing course and took a part-time job caring.
I tried to be a nurse and go to university, but I didn’t get in. I had my second-born instead and changed my mind completely about my life-path. I went back into sales part-time.
Just before my second-born, Alfie turned 2, I met my little girl’s dad and fell madly in love. We planned Isabelle and we were together for six years. We were a family of six as I now had a step-son; however, when Isobel was one, he left me and my world completely broke down.
I began to have new feelings of anxiety and it was an awful time. We stayed apart for three months before we sorted it out and stayed together for another three years.
For a while, everything was amazing: we got engaged, had amazing holidays, good careers and everything fell into place.
But he began presenting with depression but he was quite a closed book. It transpired a few months later that he was addicted to cocaine. He really struggled with it, and it broke our relationship.
Looking back, there was emotional abuse and misunderstanding on both sides.
I had about six months of being on my own but I had this thing about acceptance from men so I always had to bounce between relationships. I think that’s the abandonment wound; the not-good-enough wound.
I ended up with a man that I had known for a while and fancied for years. I felt so lucky. He turned out to be an alcoholic and he was abusive. He never physically hit me, but he would smash my house up every week, scream at me and spit in my face.
I became a shell of who I was, and I suffered in silence. I was on anti-depressants when I met him and I kept taking higher doses. I stopped sticking up for myself and when my mum came round, I would take responsibility for what damage he had done to the house.
I felt guilt and shame about staying in the situation for so long and keeping him in my kid’s lives but anyone who has been a victim of domestic abuse knows how difficult it is to leave.
Now, I feel grateful. I think it has given me the drive and determination to be something more than the woman I was then.
After splitting up with him, I ended up developing a great friendship with an old childhood friend. It was being with him which made me realise how much work I had to do.
I became the perpetrator I think in this relationship. I tried to create drama when there wasn’t any.
I did a relationship course to try and understand myself better. To understand how I attracted those men before and how to navigate my feelings and my thoughts. And by October I started weaning off my antidepressants and began doing work in the community with women.
I started holding sister circles. The first one was in the woods and only 3 people came but it grew to 17-18 people. We’d do meditation and journaling and sharing.
Over my ten years building up my career in telecoms into management I always knew that I was worth more. But a lot of the time, at home, I played small. When I came off the tablets and did this course, I realised I didn’t have to feel weak anymore.
In February last year I trained as a life coach. This is where I felt empowered. What I had avoided in my childhood: connection, friendship and love, I was now experiencing in my adult life. What was once a void is now a value.
I began general life coaching, but I felt I still had lots of issues to work through before I could do it. So, I decided to pivot, and I began to help female entrepreneurs to create strategies for growth.
I love to show people that there is more than the 9-5 and there is more than working for someone else.
I jacked the full-time job this time last year on the senior leadership team as sales operation manager. It was nerve-wracking but it has turned out well. I have managed to earn more this year than I did in that job.
Then, I went to Portugal on my own for five days. I finally felt able to do something on my own. It was an amazing holiday.
My goal now is to be able to give my children experiences and to support them now in growing.
This blog was written by Ava Goldson based on the interview with Tales to Inspire