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Mary Daniels is a lady of many, many hats.… Mum of one, and until recently stepmum of 3, she now travels the world (when it’s allowed, that is) mentoring, coaching, running retreats, designing programmes to empower women and young people, and is a published author of an incredible book entitled: Wild Awakening: The 9 questions that Saved my Life. She’s currently a consultant working for a Human Rights Group, and has also done a Ted Talk on her experiences. Maryis a frequently booked speaker on her incredible life story and attitude towards living and self-help, and having now heard it myself it I’m not at all surprised as to why. Essentially, she is pretty intimidating whilst also being the loveliest person possibly ever. We worked together at NCS, or the National Citizen Service, an enormous social enterprise helping young people all over the UK, and although I had no idea at the time the extent of her talents or the darkness in her past it was blindingly obvious that there was definitely something about Mary.
I just wanted to say before we start that although I promise this journey has a happy ending, we do talk briefly about sexual violence, and in some more detail about maternal mental health, postnatal depression and psychosis, suicide and abuse. I wanted to place this up front. If it’s not for you, no problem, just click the fast forward button on the episode as you listen.
Mary’s childhood was a pretty stormy one, to say the least, and never in a million years would you guess it. You’ll know exactly what I mean as she starts speaking - she laughs often and freely and is relentlessly sunny and upbeat. With spells of being fostered, Mary suffered from life changing serious abuse from her own father. She was removed from her home at 17, became a stepmum at 19 to 3 children under 5, and then a mum herself at 21 with a man who was 16 years her senior. She was also trying to run 2 businesses, and deal with a deeply upsetting rift in her relationship. The relationships described in this episode really made me think about the fine line in our families and romances. Passion, love, control and coercion can too often become intermingled, and more of us than we think have perhaps had a partner like this at one time or another, where with the highs come enormous lows. Mary’s harrowing experiences in this vein made me reflect a great deal about what this can do to our self-confidence and approach to life, and how confusing abuse must be at the hands of a close relationship. Mary ended up standing on the edge of Tower Bridge with her baby boy, and about to jump, before something intervened in her life. The rest is a wild and winding story to get her to where she is now - doing what she absolutely loves with incredible success and optimism, despite an impossible past. Introducing, Mary Daniels.