We are continuing our series 'Reflections', our series where we share the thoughts, experiences, and inner workings of women amongst us and ahead of us.
Our intention with these chats is to share stories through candid conversations. We want our contributors to dig deeper than just the 'highlight reel' and share the journey, the highs and lows, the self-reflections, plus the tools and resources that got them to where they are today.
This time we chatted to Erin Deering, mother of four and co-founder of a multi-million dollar swimwear brand, she had it all on the outside. But on the inside, she was struggling. She had never been able to voice her needs to her then-partner and business partner, and as a result, her mental health suffered.
In her new memoir, 'Hanging By a Thread', Erin shares her story with raw honesty and courage. She talks about the devastating toll that silence and suppression can take on our day-to-day, and how she eventually found the strength to put herself first. A very relatable story as a mother, we loved it and highly recommend reading it, it's no suprise it became the number one selling autobiography.
Erin is passionate about helping others avoid what she went through. She wants to encourage mothers to put themselves first, be self-led over being self-less.
Let's hear from Erin.
The Journey of Self. Let’s dive right in, in your own words, what has your journey been to date: Where have you been mentally, spiritually and physically compared to now?
Oh my gosh! Straight to the deep stuff, I love it!
Mentally I have been as low as I can ever imagine myself being. Utter hopelessness towards life. As someone who had always found it easy to find some kind of enthusiasm in my days, having none at all was so foreign and so scary to me.
Spiritually I had an interest but a whimsical, lustful, from a distance interest, like perhaps one day I may look at it, when really, it was all I needed and continue to still need, and I write that because spirituality to me, it just the practice of investing in my spirit, listening and taking care of ME, in that true, honest way.
Physically, at my worst I was a chaotically anxious, detached human from my spirit. Punishing my physical body through excessive and diet, and running it into the ground over and over again to feel like I had some control, but also feel a numbness which meant I could just stop the thoughts, even if just for a minute.
All of these low moments were occurring for me in 2018, not long after I left my business, and had to face the fact I didn’t know anything about who I was, or what I wanted out of life.
I spent many months avoiding the uncomfortableness of who I was, or wasn’t – and eventually, after returning to my hometown in Melbourne, realized that my life had irrevocably changed, and that I had to own that, face that, and move forward from that, for better or for worse.
Starting to honour my spirit, my health, and my well-being slowly, felt really tough and really awful for a long time – and I just somehow kept with it because I just felt I had no other choice but to try and work out what was going on inside my body and my mind. I remember feeling so poorly about myself, but the work I was doing had a glimmer of hope, in the sense of being reminded Erin was in there somewhere, and that she used to be a pretty happy, vivacious, energetic person.
Motherhood.You are a mother of Four, what did you expect motherhood to be like before you had children? How has motherhood evolved for you?
I never considered myself to be particularly maternal. I had never dreamt of having children, but also knew it would be part of my journey. I thought I would naturally evolve into a very different person once having a baby, and I found that not much changed at all for me. In fairness, I was that mother that took my firstborn everywhere. Breastfed until he was 2, he was with me at every work meeting, every dinner, every work trip, every photoshoot. I felt really proud of stepping into a role as a selfless mother, when it was really damaging to my mental health to take on this role of abandoning my sense of self, and who I was, to show up for this child 24/7.
Motherhood evolves for me all the time still. I have never loved being a mum more, and it’s in direct correlation to the fact I love myself more than ever now.
I find my children the biggest providers of joy in my life, and I in turn absolutely thrive off knowing I am their safe space, their ‘home’. It feels like the biggest treat of life, to have these people just look at you like nothing else matters, and I take that very seriously now, because I can give myself to them fully, knowing I give all of myself to me too.
The Postpartum. Were your postpartum different each time, and if so, how? What advise would you give yourself?
The postpartum period was a joy for 3 out of my 4 babies. I absolutely love the newborn stage, because I lean into the simplicity of it. The bubble has been the best times of my life and I wish I could bottle that feeling of slowing down, on asking for help, and relying on others around you.
I felt invincible with Oscar and Oly and kept working, and really loved it. I just charged on through when I needed to, but slowed down when I could, and I felt I had balance more often than not.
Beatrice was born during Covid, and it was just bliss. I spent so much time with her and it was a really magical time. Seeing as I’d had 3 fabulous experiences, I thought Bobby would fit the bill too bit he definitely didn’t, and I fell into a heap at the failed expectation I’d had of his newborn months. Every postpartum journey is wildly different, and so the only advice I’d ever give, is that: You will not know how you feel until you’re in it, and that every feeling is valid. Don’t suppress if you’re hating it, but also don’t suppress if you’re loving it. We need all the stories to know we aren’t alone, whether good or bad!
You are big advocate of being self-led and how doing things for ourself is not a luxury, but essential to our well-being; in fact you talk about being self-less burns us out. What was it for you at the start of your self care journey that led you to start taking action? What would be your advice to someone at the start of their self-care journey that is feeling inundated of the ‘busyness’ of life?
Ok, so firstly – I indulged in lots of self-care which was done with a busy mind, and no connection to me (think nails, hair, injectables, lots of wine sessions with friends etc), before I realized self-care was a very different belief system!
I resented a lot of people and things in my life, and it was because I put everyone before me, often in my mind only, which was enough to make me feel like they were taking up all of my own space.
I have always had a healthy level of self-awareness, but it was after meeting my future husband, who highlighted some of my not so healthy ways of managing my life and thoughts, I decided to start to take care of myself.
Self-care when you’re really busy, and feeling overwhelmed can for sure show up as a massage, or a long walk – but for me, what worked was taking care of myself by addressing why and how I felt so overwhelmed and so resentful.
Anyone who feels too busy, and that it’s too hard to work on yourself – just be honest with where you are now, and ask yourself if you want to still feel this way in 5 years, or even worse in 5 years, because pretty much what I’ve seen across the board, if you don’t start on some really solid work on yourself, the bad feelings will stick around forever.
Your framework to feeling good. What are the things you do to fill up your cup?
Tiny things frequently (20 sec or so) multiple times a day:
- Talk to myself honestly and kindly. As if I’m talking to my best friend. Often out loud (crazy person vibes!)
- Making sure my face and muscles are relaxed. Checking for tension in my body.
Small things daily:
- Check in with my water intake.
- Stretch. Do something for me. (message a friend / get a snack / cuddle my kitten)
- Ensure I have connection regularly with others.
Big things once a week:
- I get a blow-dry.
- I ensure I eat a favourite meal.
- I try and find solo time with my husband.
- A date with a friend, or friends. A social moment.
Bigger things once in a while:
- A night or two away.
- A shopping day (or hours).
- A day where I do nothing!
The Inspiration. Describe your favourite moment of the day?
This picture is just pure joy @erindeering
I love the hope of the morning. A new day. A fresh start.
The morning sun streaming through my bedroom window.
Hearing the kids laughing, or fighting, waking up.
I also love rain. And cloudy, gloomy weather as a reason to slow down and switch off.
I use the weather to fuel me, or guide me. Which in Melbourne, is very erratic! But it’s fun to flow with it!
Even in my darkest times, I always found hope in the sunrise so it’s always special to me.
What are some of the tools and/or resources that have been most helpful to you along the way?
Connection with others. In an honest way. I hate small talk, I used to hate when people said that, but oh boy do I feel it. I love being honest, going deep, just cutting through the crap! Life is too short to never have depth in your every day!
Do you have a quote or sentence you found helpful in your journey?
I have so many! And I can never remember any of them!
At the moment, I say ‘thank you’ a lot. For my life, for my lessons. It’s very simple.
An outward acknowledgement to the universe for all I have and all I will continue to have.
That sounds weird maybe, but gratitude is a phenomenal feeling when you truly embody it.
It can just take a while to get there!
What is the one thing you want anyone to take away from our chat today?
Moving forward into future years – some form of internal work is going to be a necessity.
Consistent, constant even, work on yourself to figure out who you are, to be better, to be happier.
The world is shifting, it’s evolving (although it feels like it’s falling apart!), and levelling up is the only way to enjoy what’s happening, or even just be ok with it.
You can find more about Erin on her socials @erindeering and check out her website: https://www.erindeering.com/ she also has a great podcast 'The Work'.