Hi, my name is Jacqueline Burns. When I’m talking to my kids and referring to years ago, I often hear myself say “when we were younger”. I think this explains a lot about the level of maturity I was at, at the time I had kids. I was, and I guess I still am, a young mum, having my son at 18, my daughter at 20, and becoming a granny at 41. I was a single parent throughout and I feel very proud of having brought them up myself. They’re both young adults now: 25 and 23. And I can honestly say, with a mammoth sigh, that mothering is so much easier now that they’re older. Being a granny is an absolute joy; it’s all the love with minimum responsibility.
Being a young mum I had ignorance on my side and it never crossed my mind that there could be any worries with my pregnancies or babies, and so when I hear other mothers worry I feel blessed to have skipped that. My pregnancy journeys were easy. I sailed through them, and while birthing my babies went without any issues I can honestly say I was petrified – particularly with my first.
I was in no way prepared. My ignorance did not serve me well here! I simply didn’t believe it was possible to survive that level of pain. I was convinced I was dying and the doctor and my mother (my birth partner) were keeping this from me. Then, expecting a bundle of pink joy to be birthed into the world, imagine my shock when my baby comes out purple. I thought he was dead. I can laugh now, but my heart goes out to my younger self. The whole event was traumatic.
I left the hospital with a healthy baby boy, postnatal depression, and PTSD that lasted years, whereby to see any woman on TV in labor would bring tears to my eyes. In comparison, my daughter shot out like a bullet. I was so ready the second time. I knew I could do this. I felt like a powerhouse and, oh my god, it was an entirely different experience. I was sitting having a cup of tea and a Twix at 10:30 and she was born by 12:30.
When my daughter was starting playschool, I decided I wanted to return to my education after leaving school at 16. So the year she joined primary school my adult education began. I did a few courses over the years in a number of things that interested me. They included clinical hypno-psychotherapy in 2007, hatha and vinyasa yoga in 2018, and HeartMath in 2020.
I have worked with the hypnotherapy all through the years; it’s the most interesting line of work for me. It put my life on a different path and I felt everyone should know about hypnotherapy. I’ve worked with adults and kids with the hypnosis, dealing with so many different issues, most of which are anxiety-based. The HeartMath is a great addition, it uses technology to help you retrain the nervous system, and the techniques merge beautifully with hypnosis. Having been introduced to Buddhism this year, I find it so interesting to see some of the Buddha’s techniques reiterated in these modern healing modalities. I get a real kick out of that.
Follow Jacqueline on her Instagram for hypnotherapy inquiries.
So, struggles as a single mum, Jodie, there were a few. I’ll give you the top three. I would say teenagers, like everyone knows, are a challenge. And not having someone to help you make decisions when you really haven’t got a clue what you’re doing, makes it such an intense time. I felt I was spread too thin, trying to be there for both of them going through what they were going through. And then, you know, I was studying at that time too. I was back in college studying sport and business. So I was trying to be the mother, the father, the provider, the teacher and then trying to keep a sense of myself in any way, shape or form.
The second struggle would be finances. There would’ve been a few times over the years that we had a few quid, but overall finances were a major struggle. I remember one time they were around 8 and 10 and talking about what their house was going to be like when they were older. And one of them said, “well, when I’m older, my house is going to be warm.” Just thinking, how sad is that! The top of their list is a warm house? So, yeah, finances.
But for me, the biggest struggle was when they were younger and I was on my own. My mental health wasn’t in a good place. I had debilitating anxiety days, days that I couldn’t really leave the house. I didn’t even want to open the curtains, really. And looking after the two of them with the loneliness, oh my god. I remember I had a mobile phone and there were nights that I would, ring – it was air cell <laughs> it was so long ago, this was air cell – and I would ring to check the balance, just to hear somebody’s voice. The loneliness was excruciating.
And my anxiety. That just stopped me from living a normal life. And that would’ve trickled on to them. I wasn’t able to do the normal things with them around their school. My social anxiety kept me from being able to mix with the other mums. So they missed out on that part of the school experience. And then they had to deal with my anger and frustration with me being in the house so much and struggling with all of it.
So I would say overall, my mental health was the greatest challenge. I had a good number of years, like seven plus years, when there was no support. I had a good friendship with my brother and he was there to kind of like pick me up a lot of the times. Otherwise, I didn’t have family support.
And so your question, do I think that changed me as a person? Yes. Most definitely. I probably would’ve carried on with a small life, not putting myself out there, and all the rest of it, if I didn’t have the kids, where I knew I had to start being a better person so I could be a better parent, to be better for them.
Those struggles and being a single mother most definitely changed me as a person in the right direction, one hundred percent. I’m so grateful because I do wonder sometimes what would have been if I hadn’t had the kids.
When I had my daughter, that was a time I felt empowered and uplifted. While I had been pregnant with her, I had been living in a women’s refuge for a few months and I’d made the decision that I wanted to be out of there: before having her I wanted to have my own home.
I remember after she was born and bringing her home to a house I was renting and just feeling so proud of myself. I had my little family: myself, my son, my daughter, and just this feeling of like, ‘look what I made’. We had a bit of structure and routine. It was just a joyful time. I even remember when the spring came and going out and having my son in the buggy and my daughter in the baby sling. I just remember feeling really happy, empowered in who I was, what I had and what I was doing. Just uplifted by the whole lot of it. Thank you for reminding me of that, Jodie.
My advice to other single moms would be: ask for help. You won’t feel like it. You don’t feel like it. There’s this big pressure that you should know what you’re doing. You know, like anyone can have a child, so you should be able to be a good mom and do it all and get it all done. And, oh my god, scratch that expectation. Scrap that notion all together. If you’ve gotten to the point where you feel you need help, well, then that’s a signal that you’ve let it go too far. You’ve let it go too long. Ask for help. Ask your friends, ask your family. If that’s not available, pop the kids into a creche, or into a child minder’s. When you need space, take space, and don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t feel ashamed of it. You are doing your kids more of a favor by taking breaks and asking for help. It’s for them. Ask for help.
YOU HAVE PREVIOUSLY SHARED ABOUT YOUR ANXIETY STRUGGLES. IS THIS WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TRAIN IN THE METHODS HYPNOTHERAPY, YOGA AND HEARTMATH? WHAT IS THE MOST POWERFUL CHANGE YOU MADE DURING THESE SESSIONS?
It sure is, Jodie! The first class I went to was yoga. I think I had tried a couple of counselors and just didn’t gel. Like I said, along with the anxiety was anger issues and I had a serious chip on my shoulder. So yeah, I didn’t gel with any counselors for a long time. I tried yoga, thinking that was just going to cure all my anxiety. I know it is life changing for a lot of people, but I didn’t quite understand what I was doing. And when it came to the breathwork and the meditation and all the rest of it, I wasn’t actually able to get involved in it. So to me, the yoga was very physical for a very long time actually. It wasn’t until more recent years that I got more of a handle on my anxiety and I was able to get my head into yoga and not just into the postures. I didn’t even know there was a yoga philosophy at the time. I think I was 21 when I started yoga.
And so then with the hypnotherapy, I went to the hypnotherapist thinking they had some healing powers, that she would be like the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter or something, and that she would fix me. So I was very disappointed when I got there to realize I had to do my own work <laughs>. I wasn’t impressed with that at all, but I was desperate.
So I did my first of the hypnotherapy sessions. I think it was three months. And when I left, I didn’t really feel that much different. I didn’t get out of it what I had wanted to get out of it. I came away still carrying my chip on my shoulder and feeling like it was a waste of my money. That it was just an absolute waste. I remember feeling very angry at the therapist. But then it was a few months down the line and bit by bit, gradually, I was realizing and observing changes in my life and in my reactions. I used to have days that I was vicious. I used to call them vicious days where I was just vicious and I hadn’t had a vicious day since the hypnotherapy. I had a recurring nightmare since I was four. I hadn’t had that since the hypnotherapy. I was just happier in general. My anxiety was still bad. But I was happier and more positive about things. I felt a bit more blessed in things. I felt a reconnection to my faith.
And I realized that things had changed inside of me that I thought where my personality. I didn’t know you could change your personality. I thought you just were how you were. And the hypnotherapy highlighted for me that you can change. You have parts of yourself that don’t serve you, that are holding you back, and I realized that you can change them.
I was just blown away by this. So I continued with hypnotherapy on and off. One day, I just thought to myself, ‘oh my god, everybody should do this, I just love hypnotherapy.’ Then I decided to study it.
And then the HeartMath: I loved the idea of being able to show people in real-time, the effects of a simple breathing technique. Because, like I said, in yoga when my anxiety was so high, I didn’t value a breathing technique because it didn’t change how I felt quick enough. And so I just didn’t put much stock in them, even though there was all this research and evidence and I would be teaching it to my clients and they would be feeling results. I didn’t feel it; my anxiety was too high for me to feel the benefit of it. So with HeartMath’s ability to show a person in real-time what is actually going on with a breathing technique, I thought it would be a good addition to the hypnotherapy. When I bought the HeartMath device for myself and saw the benefits for myself it was amazing. I just thought, ‘I need to share this with people.’ So I trained in that so I could incorporate it with the hypnosis for my clients.
Just reading the rest of your question, ‘What was the most powerful change you made during these sessions?’. I think the first time I went for a hypnotherapy session, Jodie, I was 23 and I’m 43 now. So I’ve had many a profound session in hypnotherapy. I feel I’m not recognizable as a person. If I compare who I was before hypnotherapy to who I am now, I am a different person. I’ve just changed myself entirely. Thank god. <laughs>.
It’s funny because having the two of them together at the same time is still a challenge. They still annoy each other, pick on each other. So I still find it easier to manage one of them at a time. But for me, being with the two of them at the same time, the three of us together – and of course now with the addition of my grandchild – but the three of us together, it just feels like home.
Jodie, it feels just – it’s my comfort zone. It’s home. It’s how it’s meant to be. Because I remember after my son was born and he was just a few weeks old and I remember saying to my mother, “he’s only four weeks old and I remember life before him. But it is as though he has always been here.” So yeah, the best part for me about being a mother is the feeling of being at home when we’re together. The comfort of the three of us together and the sense of knowing we belong together – the sense of belonging.
The round-up to the story would be, ‘We survived!’ <laughs>. You know, I kept three people alive all these years. <laughs> My son sees me with my granddaughter and is just like, “how did you keep us alive?”
So yeah, I have to word that now. I don’t know…my son is living in Galway. He moved to Galway about a year ago. That was a big change because we’ve always lived near each other when they moved out. They still were close by. So that’s been very different. I still find that very different, not just giving them a buzz and saying like, do you wanna go for a bite to eat or wherever?
I feel blessed to have the relationship that I have with them now. Like I said, they didn’t have an easy time with me over the years, so I really do feel blessed that they forgive me, to be honest. And I feel blessed that they want to know me and be my friend. I feel really blessed for that. And I enjoy being a mother now that they’re adults; it’s much easier.
Career-wise I work with young kids through to adults with all descriptions of anxiety-related issues. I work with clinical hypno-psychotherapy and medical hypnosis, asI get a lot of doctor referrals to help treat psychosomatic problems too. Such interesting work – I love it.
I said before, I love the hypnotherapy out of all the different things I’ve done over the years. The hypnotherapy I just continuously do. I’ve never taken a break from it. I’ve never wanted to come away from it. It’s so satisfying. I love working with people and helping them utilize their own ability to make changes for themselves.
I say to my clients, particularly the little ones, “this is your superpower” <laughs>. So I suppose I ignited my own superpower <laughs>. As far as my career goes, I can see myself doing the hypnotherapy forever. Along with whatever comes along with that, whether it’s the HeartMath or tapping, or including pranayama. The hypnotherapy will always be my go-to because I value it so much as a tool. I would never imagine to say to a person it is the only help for them, but it’s definitely something that has worked for me along with other things.
Thank you so much for this opportunity. I’ve really enjoyed doing this interview. I was very scared of it. But you know, I reckon just because you’re scared of something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
The first thing I really set my mind to and achieved was getting a car and learning to drive (in that order). This poem was with a smiley air freshener I bought for the car. I’ve always loved it because there’s truth in it.
Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today
I started smiling, too.
I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled, I realized,
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about my smile and then
I realized its worth.
A single smile like mine could travel
right around the earth.
If you feel a smile begin
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick
and get the world infected.
- Jez Alborough
What products could… JACQUELINE BURNS not parent without?
Now, I have to say, Medela nipple shields. Silicone nipple shields were my absolute saviors. It was thanks to the nipple shields that I was able to feed my daughter for as long as I did.
But funny stories about toys when they were kids: Santa brought them a swing set – outdoor swings and a seesaw. It was December, and it was freezing, <laughs> so we put them up in the kitchen and then when I got sick of them in the kitchen, I moved them upstairs into one of the bedrooms. Which was funny. Because I mean, it was a council house. So you can imagine <laughs>.