I attended a personal-development workshop at the weekend. It’s not normally something that would be on my radar, but a friend of mine had a spare ticket and invited me along.

In truth, she didn’t tell me it was a workshop to explore and unravel the inner me, knowing full well that I would have declined the invitation. Instead, she sold the experience as a spa day, complete with gourmet lunch, and with the addition of Iyengar yoga and Pranayama breathing sessions thrown in for good measure.

Of course, I was there!

The room was filled with a dozen women, seated on chairs arranged in a horseshoe, all making polite conversation. I took my place at the end.

The workshop leader, a barefoot 50-something, with a flowing kaftan, wild crazy grey hair and a bindi, introduced herself and then asked us to share with the group an experience and or a time in our adult life when we were made to feel small and disempowered.

As a working mum that would be most days.

I glared at my friend. She smiled back sweetly and mouthed: “Don’t worry it’s going to be fun!”

“Right, who wants to go first?” the workshop leader chirped, looking in my direction as the head of one end of the shoe.

Seeing my arms folded firmly across my chest and my eyes not daring to meet hers, she turned to the other end to start.

In turn, the women started opening up, unravelling moments in their professional and personal lives where they had been made to feel inferior and imperfect.

A couple of them started to cry as they shared their experiences, finally admitting their pent-up feelings. One spoke about not being able to get pregnant, another about her neediness within relationships, another about how she hates the sight of her own body. And so it went on.

The group included medical professionals, media specialists, a couple of published writers and several business owners. All hugely successful women. On the surface they looked confident, in control and even rather intimidating. And, yet, here they were free from the façade.

The workshop leader turned back to me again.

“Where do I start…” I mumbled, as the tears began to flow.

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