Kate’s International Women’s Day Address
Good Evening Ladies. Thank you for inviting me this evening to speak with you.
My name is Kate Seselja and I am extremely honoured to be speaking to you not only on this important day for women globally but for this extraordinary club that represents the very essence of why I do what I do to Educate, Empower and Enable change and improvement in the lives of women and girls because we know this has a powerful impact on families and the betterment of all society.
Last May I founded The Hope Project, as a Not for Profit organisation that helps to educate through vulnerability to bridge the gap between people in struggle and the help that they need to be restored.
Like many before me ‘I did not choose this mission, it chose me’ I grew up in Sydney 2nd child of Seven in a loving home. As a teen I started to lose myself as I didn’t thrive in the school environment. I now know I just learn differently. At 18 my boyfriend introduced me to pokies and gambling and I was immediately hooked. Winning and losing and lying and loathing became my normal, I was spiralling out of control and I didn’t know why. Then very suddenly for a brief moment the fog lifted and I met my husband and we married within a year, we were 20 years old.
At 23 I was living with my inlaws, owner building our home expecting our second child and running our own business. I cracked. My addiction came back with avengence. This nightmare that I felt I couldn’t escape haunted me and haunted me. Why cant I stop, why am I imploding my life? This cycle of pain continued for the next decade.
In Jan 2012 at age 32 I felt I simply could endure one more day, not one more day of seeing disapontment on the faces of people I loved not one more day of mental torture of hearing the sounds of pokies in my mind and dreams, not one more ounce of energy left in me to hold up a veneer of ‘im ok’ to people who knew me.
I was done – but there was a tiny life inside of me our miraculous 6th child. Suddenly I realised I was trapped because I couldn’t figure out how to take my life and not hers.
I had no words when I finally answered the phone after my husband had called hundreds of times trying to find me.
He just said ‘please just come home’
From that point came a journey that I didn’t expect at all, infact I didn’t even think it was possible.
Because looking back at that evening, I loved my husband I loved my children family and friends so why did I think there was no point being here anymore ?
I had lost HOPE
It had been removed in 3 ways
1 by way of me trying to get help numerous times and it not working,
2 by me trying to conceal my struggle and not being ok with being human
3 by the once an addict always an addict mentality
Everyone in this room I’m sure knows someone who is struggling with something.
I want you to bring them to mind – now let me say those things again
Hope – it doesn’t sound like much but it is so vital – if someone has no hope they are at the very end of existence and extremely vulnerable.
Deeply entrenched Hopelessness is what is taking peoples lives – 8 Australians a day.
From that crisis point I saw a new councillior the next day – even driving there I remember thinking, I guess I will just buy time here til the babies born and then I will get to leave. Thank goodness she saw just how broken I was at that point and saught to help me first and foremost start to like myself again, she said name ten things …..
Rob yourself of all you do right
The most fundemantal mistake we have made as a modern tech advanced highly achieving race is that we don’t know ourselves.
I AM me therefore I Know me – wrong wrong wrong – I had no idea about when I had stopped feeling myself, what the stress in my life was doing to me and the impact of shame and how it cripples the soul. I had no Self Awareness No self Esteem and I was doing nothing in the way of Self Care.
At school I’m sure I would have heard about Socrates, but I had no awareness of the importance of his thoughts and words and the impact of understanding ourselves as human beings and how vital it is to our wellbeing until I reflected back. Socrates said of the importance of Knowing thyself – is that people make themselves appear ridiculous when they are trying to know obscure things before they know themselves.
What followed that point of realising that there was so much that I didnt know or understand about myself was that I got curious, I began paying closer attention to everything and I now refer to those years as the University of Kate.
So many people think that successful recovery is that you have stopped whatever it is – I had had periods of stopping but I still wasn’t ok – because I thought that the mistakes I had made had disqualified me from ever being whole again.
I compared myself to others and wondered why was I so defective. The Why s that I asked of myself fell into a deep pit of darkness, having others ask Why especially loved ones hurts the most because the tiny voice inside, this frightnened little girl just trying to exist was screamimg ‘if I knew why, I would stop, I just dont know how else to exist.
Existence, some people are born into it and some have no conscious awareness of when they slip into one. Some people don’t even realise there is a difference between an existence and a life. One is connected to self and others in a meaningful way and has passion and purpose and it is intentionally lived, the other is disconnected from self and others and it is reactive and lacks fulfilment.
Two years after that crisis point, I felt different, I felt like me, not patched up broken me but rebuilt reinforced restored. My curiosity got the better of me again, what did I do differently this time as apposed to the other periods of abstinence I had along the way.
Could I actually be well? In investigating why I felt different I discovered I had been instinctually practicing a system for living that kept me conscious and awake, compassionate to my own needs and gave me greater capacity for others. I began observing and investigating the way others felt and experienced the world from all angles from policy to systems and different schools of thought and opinion and pieced together the evidence to support my observations.
At this stage I had trained to take over the SMART recovery group I had been a part of earlier and then the opportunity to train as a speaker for the Gambling impact society interested me because I had never seen anyone talk about gambling in public before, the shame associated with gambling addiction is much higher than smoking and drinking and even drugs, because of the way it has been marketed as harmless fun and entertainment. When the individual becomes affected by gambling they aren’t aware of the neuroscience of addiction and how the brain is triggered in the same way a cocaine addicts brain is impacted. They are told ‘Gamble Responsibly” which just piles on more shame because the person doesn’t know how to stop when the brain is saying keep going, more, more.
As I began speaking publically I would be speaking about my journey and insights and people would come up after and say to me – what you said made sense to my life but I have never gambled – suddenly I realised I wasn’t just fighting for gamblers but I was helping people understand pain in their life that they weren’t currently able to deal with or make sense of on their own.
HOPE was planted in my mind Help Other People Everyday.
I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know how, so I started asking for help. I started learning more, I knew I had to help people before they reached crisis point. I wanted to change the tragic outcomes our society faces at the moment – addictions, suicide, crime and violence. If we want to change the outcomes then we have to change how we do things in the first place, people simply cannot change what they don’t know. These skills this method of living intentionally that I was utilising daily was needed proactively as a prevention tool as well as a framework for restoration.
The huge warning sign we have missed as a society is Overwhelm. While people reluctantly say what they are struggling with or using to cope within their world, they will gladly say im overwhelmed with the kids, husband, work, school etc Overwhelm is the thief of passion and purpose, it creates apathy and it is THE precursor to addiction and mental health struggles. We need to be aware that that is the body saying im not ok and I need proactive measures to stay AWAKE. But we have normalised being busy, overworking, social judgement, bulling, midlife crisis, living for weekends etc
When my self esteem was destroyed and I had no awareness of all that was impacting me I essentially fell asleep in my life – yes I got up, I went about my day going through the motions but I had no physical, mental or emotional capacity left for anyone else. When my self esteem was acknowledged and repaired and I paid attention to my world and needs and I practised self care – I came AWAKE and it has given me the tools to navigate lifes storms, because nothing else in my life changed same husband- same debt- same stress yet I was thriving instead of drowning. My vital Oxygen, the oxygen that keeps us AWAKE in life got cut off for way too long and I almost paid the ultimate price, im grateful for the knowledge that came from my pain and how it is used to help ease the pain and senseless suffering of others.
The very best thing you can do for yourself and those you love is learn about you. Because when you know authentically who you are, rest in your humanity, focussing on the unique gifts of you and how you can use them for the betterment of all we will lift as a society as a race and come closer as a human family.
My speaking work has lead me to connect with many amazing organisations like yourselves commited to improving futures, that is what lead me to the UN and The Sustainable Development Goals because I see goal #3 Good health and well being for all as the most important, because without personal mental freedom we as human beings don’t have the capacity to care about the other goals and how they are achieved, reaching these goals by 2030 requires everyone to be involved and ensure no one gets left behind and right now 8 people a day are being left behind with millions vulnerable on the fringes because they don’t know how else to exist.
If you would like to help in the spreading of this important and urgent work please take a few moments to complete the little forms at your place and help me make further speaking connections and help link people with the tools I have available, there is a self guided work book with the framework inside they are available tonight if you would like to purchase one and there is also a form at the back to sign up tonight as Earlybird VIPs to my 5 week online course which will be launched next month, there is a huge discount and bonuses if you pre order tonight,
I want to thank you all humbly for listening to my story and journey and I hope that it has been helpful, from this mum of 6 who just had to be the change she wanted to see in the world Happy International Womens Day and I wish you all every happiness in your life
When we restore hope, kindness follows.
Watch some of the footage below: