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A-Z

It’s been four years today since I became alcohol free and one year since my last post. Writing had been such a help during my journey into sobriety giving me the space to work through the mix of emotions I felt whilst letting go of my coping tool but also dealing with so many emotions that before I had anaesthetised with alcohol. It was revelatory but also at times terrifying. The idea that all there is was me made me feel at times isolated and fearful. What this past year has shown me is that in stripping back the one thing I used to cope with the highs, the lows and the flatlines left bare the wounds that were not healed and bloody hell they stung. I thought that by leaving a toxic situation or by no longer having a person who’s influence could be at times both loving then in a nanosecond destructive was enough to move on from but it wasn’t. It wasn’t because I never really dealt with any of it. I only numbed myself, then talked through it in an addled way not even remembering half or most of what I had said, done or thought. The following day was spent popping codeine to take the hangover head away leaving me with a different numbness and just a focus of getting through the day hour by hour then come evening, most nights, drink again. Granted I didn’t get wasted every night. I could locate the off switch at times but that was only safe in the knowledge that I could give myself permission to lose it the following night. I knew the way I used alcohol was taking me down a dark path. Drinking alone in the house mostly, carrying alcohol in my bag when going out to top myself up in the loo, having sneaky shots at the bar, glugging back ready mixed mojitos and pina coladas in public toilets before meeting people, drinking wine alone in parks, necking vodka and tonic in Sainsbury’s loo before meeting my ex and going to pick up the kids. It’s not easy reading that back but it’s true. It’s my truth and I have to own it. All the while I functioned, I kept going even whilst drinking all that I was taking codeine on top.

Something in me sparked the fire to change my life and even though I am now four years clear of alcohol and I still have an on/ off battle with codeine I realise that this wasn’t the sum total of moving my life forward letting go of anger from the past but only part of it. Removing one heavily relied upon substance didn’t solve anything but it did let me see more clearly.

I always knew that feeling unsettled, displaced since a child and growing up with (however perhaps unintentionally meant) conditional love I had developed an outward appearance that bared no resemblance to how I felt inside or could begin to make sense of. Truth is I got me. I absolutely understood what was going on underneath the surface, deep down but naming and acknowledging it is only the start of the healing.

This last year has been difficult but only because I started to truly feel the weight and strain of the load I had been carrying for decades. A load layered on top again and again and all I could do was keep on carrying it until I felt something I hadn’t really ever felt before. Sadness. I felt genuinely sad. I was use to anxiety, stress and anger but not sadness. I felt myself sinking more into dark thoughts, feelings of despair, helplessness and a sense of pointlessness. These feelings felt different and I couldn’t seem to control them.

I’m very good at being my own worst critic maybe it’s the actor in me or growing up and later being married with criticism of who I am but something I can do which I see now is a strength is knowing when I need to seek help. Maybe my openness with myself does leave me more vulnerable to others negative words or judgments but it also shows I know who I am. Sometimes I wish I learned to not give so much so soon but a life apologising for being me is no life at all. I suppose when I was drunk I could absolve myself of the responsibility of my character and now with nothing to excuse it I am left with just who I am.

Me.

And I don’t need to apologise anymore for that. Being me is just fine.

Through that dark period I am beginning to see that I was eventually going through the sadness I felt as a child, a teenager and a woman. That I had buried the parts of my emotional self that could leave me vulnerable under lock and key and had never allowed myself to feel sadness, loss, disappointment or even true happiness. I just brushed myself down, dusted myself off and started all over again or didn’t indulge myself in congratulations. That outwardly I showed strength and sassiness but inside I was lacking in self worth. I am beginning to let myself feel and that isn’t just in my head but my whole being. Today I got up and thought. Right. It’s the 1st April, I’ve not had a drink for 4 years, the kids are away, it’s sunny therefore I should do something. I should go out. I should go for a walk. I should go to the cinema. I should treat myself to something nice. I should, I should, I should.

Towards the end of last year I did a mindfulness course. One of the many things that struck a chord with me and has become very apparent in how I am feeling now is how much we live in our heads. We are disembodied beings running around mad, never stopping to actually make sense of how we feel and what our bodies are trying to tell us. I had been living in my head for so long I saw my body as a separate entity that I had to drag around with me. Getting wasted brought the two together but only in a kind of gooey play dough numbness.

My body was telling me so much that my head wasn’t listening to. It was only when my head started to get sad and thoughts of not existing anymore came in that I think my body said ‘ That’s it! Enough!’ A dose of the flu and confirmation of now being perimenopausal in this case was just what the doctor ordered. I was forced to stop and do absolutely nothing but focus on my body. Bless her she has carried me this far for 48 years so best give her something back. So today I looked out of the open window, listened to the birds sing, felt the sun shine through the glass on my face and felt how my body was feeling. I wanted my own space, with only me. I wanted quiet, peace, maybe a little music, a favourite film, some chocolate, nice tea, an afternoon nap, to write, to just be me and that was fine. That was good. I saw this drawing today and it has stayed with me all day.

The rose at the surface but underneath the thorns. Not thorns to hurt but to protect. One couldn’t live without the other. We are complex in all of our emotions but we try to hide so much or deny ourselves the right to feel. Nature shows us that we can be all things if we just look and allow ourselves to just be in all our complexity.

Maybe this all sounds a little new age hippy but I am finding myself more grateful each day. I am grateful that I can admit when I need help. I am grateful that we have the NHS who have helped and supported me. I am grateful that I am blessed with people in my life that never judge just love. I am grateful that I have the capacity to love unconditionally. I am eternally grateful for the two human beings that are my children. I am grateful for every path I cross with a person who struggles because we learn from each other if we listen and expect nothing in return.

My alcohol misuse for me as for most wasn’t the cause of my sadness, anxiety or anger but a symptom of a deeper emotional issue. It gave me a false sense of worth but my actions when drinking only exacerbated my lack of self worth when sober. It was like a self fulfilling prophecy. You are told you are x, y and z so therefore you are x, y and z.

Well no! I’m the full bloody alphabet and I’ll write how I want.

Four years and counting xx

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Forgiveness 

It’s three years ago today since I last drank alcohol. 23:59 to be precise when the last drop of vodka slid down my throat. I hadn’t been to a meeting since the start of the year but felt today I wanted to make a concerted effort to go. Not that I felt the need in the sense to stop me from using but to share in my abstinence success, catch up with other group members and to stay focussed. It’s easy to get complacent and not celebrate that what you have achieved so far is pretty damn good. I don’t ever give myself enough or even any praise with the successes in my life. Far too easy to accept failures as that’s more the way isn’t it? You can’t go into a recovery meeting and tell everyone how great you’re doing and how you never think about alcohol now and don’t even miss the codeine buzz and calm either? I mean there are people there who are really struggling with addictive behaviours and they don’t want to hear about everything being hunky dory with you? Truth is … they do.
Each and every person around that table celebrated in my success. They were generous, kind, hopeful, supportive and humorous. That’s why I like to drop in still because we all help support each other at whatever stage of recovery you are at. 
Right now on the eve of the start of my third year of sobriety it has got me thinking about not only how far I have come but also where I am going. As I’ve written about before stopping drinking was only one aspect of the bigger story. Stopping codeine was something else and in many ways the harder of the two due to the physical withdrawals and the realisation that I was on my way to just being me. Just little old me. I had found that prospect quite terrifying. I’d have nothing to hide behind but what was I hiding from? The answer of course was myself or the me that allowed myself to properly feel and not self medicate the negative feelings or enhance the positive ones but to actually feel what was happening in me good and bad. 
Since I was around eleven I started to have feelings of judgement, conditional love and not being good enough. Although that could also come with big love, support and praise it could change like the flick of a switch. My coping mechanism was to adopt a cool, ice maiden exterior where no emotion was shown that way I couldn’t let what I was feeling inside affect me. What I was feeling inside was hurt, sadness,  fear and a whole lot of anger. My Nana was the creator of this but through circumstances my parents facilitated it. It is only now with my new found clarity that I look back and accept what happened. A lot of it circumstantial and a lot of developing clashes between a dominant older personality and an emerging strong teenage one who like her grandmother also knew her own mind. It could be really tough and sharing a room didn’t help but in many ways both of us were put in a situation where familiarity really did breed contempt. For so many years I blamed every negative ounce of me on her and what my parents allowed by moving in with her but I can either choose to carry on living like that or I can choose to let go and get on with the rest of my life but in order to do that I know I need to do one thing. Forgive. 
I do and I feel a weight lifted. I look at my own children and I know what I want for them. I want them to know every minute of their lives that I love them – unconditionally. I don’t want them to ever have an ounce of doubt of my love for them. I don’t want them having to show forgiveness towards me for how I made them feel once I am dead. I don’t want regretful love and wishing it had of been different. 
I’m not making that an excuse for my binge drinking habits or analgesic popping ways but I know the root of my inability to accept myself lay in my formative years and I carried it into adulthood using substance to take the edge off of me. It took a real plummet in my self worth from an unhappy and emotionally toxic marriage and subsequent divorce to enable me to take that substance crutch and throw it into the recycling. What came back was the courage to support myself and my children without the voices in my head telling me I wasn’t a good enough daughter, granddaughter, wife and even mother. 
The kids and I have our own unique way of saying we love each other. When they drive off on a Sunday for three days with their Dad we always sign ‘I Love You’ by pointing to our eyes, heart then each other. Nothing new there and commonly used by many but we have our own unique way of writing it too. An eye, within a heart, within a U. We sign it on birthday and Christmas cards, letters, postcards, notes or messages to each other and have done since it has just been the three of us together. 
Here you can see my youngest leaving a message on the kitchen reminder board. 


I had this idea to do something that would stay with me forever and always bring home to me even in the darkest moments how blessed we are to have each other. How blessed I am to receive such unconditional love from two human beings and what a privilege and joy it is to love them without condition. So I made the decision to take our unique and personal symbol and give it permanency. 


This is phase one and completion will be in a couple of weeks time but when I look at it I find it reminds me that being just me is good because I am being authentic in my love and every night my children go to bed they know how much they are loved and so do I. 
In many ways my binging on drink and codeine was a form of self harm for it stopped me from forgiving myself all the negative thoughts and feelings I had squeezed to capacity inside of me. Forgiving another does take courage, faith and trust but to forgive yourself takes kindness and that can be hard to do. When I sat in that group today I felt kindness from each and every one of them, I feel kindness from my children, I feel kindness from my family and friends but by forgiving myself and celebrating what I have achieved I am starting to be kind to me. 

Mistakes 

We all make mistakes. It’s part of human nature to do so. You might forget to close the freezer door or pass on some important information. You might make a typo in a document or get the wrong sandwich for your work colleague in the lunch run. Yes they can be annoying and you feel genuine remorse but generally they are easy to move on from and without any lasting damage. We realise logically and rationally that ‘hey it was just a mistake’. 

Some mistakes however are habitual.  They cause havoc in our personal and emotional lives shrouding us in guilt, self loathing and tinge our inner self with anger and despair. These repeated mistakes are thorns in our sides and before we realise what’s happened we’ve done it again and again and again but maybe it’s how we deal with them and move on that defines us. Reflective practice to work through and discover why we repeat certain mistakes and aim to change the behavioural patterns that we automatically defer to takes courage and the will to want to. Sounds easy doesn’t it. Writing it down it makes perfect sense but it’s not. It’s bloody difficult and unless you accept that it probably will get a whole lot worse before it gets better then the new road ahead will never be fully travelled by you. 

Was drinking for me a mistake? The drinking certainly caused certain behaviours which resulted in mistakes that could and should have been avoidable. So what happens when mistakes are made that can be detrimental to my happiness and general wellbeing? When it affects those around me but I can’t blame alcohol anymore. When patterns of behaviour and reactions are repeated without thought or pause only resulting in unhappiness and unfulfillement. That all I am left with is me. All I have in all of this is me. All I can be in this repeated mistake is me. Me. A little word with a big world of doubt. 

Learning to make decisions, create change and bloody well face the music can be terrifying on my own and when I say on my own I mean without a go to substance to “help” me deal with my mistakes. The mirror is well and truly held up and it’s difficult to take a proper look but unless I am willing to take my hands down, open my eyes and take in what is reflected the change in direction will never happen. 

My daughter can be at times emotionally challenging as she navigates her own path through life. She can be demanding, even manipulative at times with a strong will and huge stubbornness. Along with that though is warmth, kindness, an abundant creativity and an emotional intelligence that takes my breath away. In her childlike innocence she has the knack of turning an upsetting and personally disappointing series of parenting mistakes into something positive.

 Last night we locked horns. It wasn’t a very happy couple of hours with both parties unable to back down or give the other the required emotional space to recover. In a way habitual mistakes are almost a kind of addiction. In some weird subconscious way persistently repeating mistakes that cause pain feeds the need to keep telling myself the same story – that I’m not a good enough mother, daughter or friend, that I should feel guily, that I should fail, that I’m a bad person. It’s easier to continue to believe that at times because it’s what has been learnt, heard and expect. It’s easier to fall into the learnt behavioural pattern of mistake because it’s like a self fulfilling prophecy. So where is the kindness to myself in these moments? Where is the love I need to give myself? Where is the basic liking of myself? It’s there but in these moments of non substance addictive behavioural choices I can’t see that what I am is a human being; a complex collection of cells, imperfect in their make up but uniquely special in their capability to take my life wherever I want to. 

The older I get the more cynical I’ve become but my children’s unconditional love has this unique way of showing me that I can learn to forgive my mistakes.

In the aftermath of our fight she brought me a gift. 

A little yellow plastic suitcase from her toy collection. 

She asked me to open it. 

I did. 

There I found 5 pencil top erasers that she had broken off and placed inside. 

 I asked her what they were for.

Her face glowingly expectant she replied, 

‘to rub out all our mistakes Mummy’. 

800 days 

    FOMO

    I heard that acronym for the first time in years last week. FOMO: Fear of missing out. It struck a chord with me. A great big major C. It was the social disease that I had been living with since my teens. Always the good time girl, always at the party, always the life and soul ( as long as I was hammered), always the one that couldn’t say no to a drink out or a smoke, always just there, always frightened I was going to miss out. Although none of all that was ever really fulfilling. It was all just emotional and spiritual empty calories; unsustaining leaving me hungry and needing more and more to fill the void. A void that had no bottom because the fast burning energy was eating it up. 
    I still had it though however much in denial I was about it. The fear of missing out. The FOMO. My week is split into two distinct parts. Four days full on single mum. Three days child free single woman. It’s quite an odd way to live. I’m not going to deny that three days not having to negotiate the logistical hell that is my Wednesday from 5pm to Sunday 10am is very welcome but it also makes for the arrival of the kids each week that little bit harder and the manic momentum which has slowed down for a few days is back up to full pelt again not to mention the loss when I say goodbye to them on a Sunday. 
    It is during those child free days that the FOMO strikes. I suppose in the time I have freedom to do my own thing without having to check what the kids are doing first I want to fit in as much as possible. Meeting friends, going to the theatre or cinema, if I’m invited I’ll go. If there’s nowt happening I’ll create it. Even if I’m exhausted. And I am a lot of the time. Exhausted!

    Then I heard it. FOMO. I heard it loud and clear and although I realised it still struck that old familiar chord for the first time I wasn’t frightened anymore of missing out on a party, a drinking sesh, or even just meeting up with people for a coffee I was frightened of missing out on me. By feeling the need to fill my child free days with activity it was stopping me from having time with myself and to recharge after the craziness of the other full on days. So I thought about the plans I had made that day and really checked in with myself. When I stopped to listen I heard it loud and clear, ‘ I want to go home’. So I did. I listened to what I really wanted and acted on it and didn’t feel frightened of missing out. 

    Life goes by in a instant and before you know it another week, month and year has passed you by. I always burn the candle at both ends never stopping to take stock of where I am in my journey and what I need. What I need is time. Time for me. Time to just be. So saying goodbye to a lot of the old patterns of behaviour and feeding needs that were not healthy for me I will slowly but surely sense and believe that I don’t have the fear of missing out anymore. What I do have is something positive and much more empowering. I have the hope of finding me. 

    Nighty night x

    Ps 775 days 

    Out with the old…

      

    So here we arrive at the end of another year. Hogmanay has always been a huge event in Scotland and certainly one in my family. When I was growing up we always had an open door party policy and would still have people in our flat till light was drawing in. I remember one year when I was about 23 a rather cute Aussie guy standing in our kitchen and someone asked him who was it he knew here he replied, ‘ No one. I was at the Tron and someone suggested this address if I wanted to go to a party’. We lived so centrally that it was about a fifteen minute walk from the Tron so a popular place for people to come to. My Mum always did a huge spread of food and there was every alcoholic beverage you could think of. Yes she catered for all tastes and heartily encouraged much drinking. There was music, sometimes romance ( well maybe an inebriated New Years snog with some equally  drunk person), party pieces where I was always encouraged to sing at every opportunity by Nana and my Dad but the one thing I really remember was the sound. It was so noisy with chatter and laughing – so much laughing. It was one of those nights that was well and truly a green light to getting totally shit faced. I lived for Hogmanay. In many ways the excitement for it outshone Christmas for me. It was always going to be the night of nights! 

    Truth be known it never was any better than some of the other nights I had out at totally random times of the year. There was always a sense of anti climax after it. A realisation that all the stuff you promise to do once the clock strikes midnight that will change your life forever and make this next year truly fantastic is all wishful thinking.  Life doesn’t really fit into periods of twelve months and we can say well that’s that done now and the next twelve will be totally different. How does a happy New Year fit if a loved one dies at 11pm on December 31st, or your battling illness over months or years crossing over yearly timelines making it different to differentiate one year from the next. We have a tendency to look back at the negatives that happened in a year and maybe by trying to box it into this twelve month period it will somehow be gone on the stroke of midnight ready to start a fresh?

     For me truthfully it never really was. 

    If I look at the last year it has been full of ups and downs with some significant downs I have to say. However, most of these were not just confined to 2015 and actually had been carried over from the previous year, years or decades in some cases. In some ways though it was during this twelve month stretch that some of these challenges peaked. There were some unwanted intrusions in my life by certain individuals who need to do a lot of work on themselves but sadly never will.  There was pain, anger, anxiety, worry, dissapointment, self loathing, feelings of failure and underachievement. In Spring someone took their leave from my life who had over the course of 18 months become a constant. That departure only clarified their meaning to me. That meaning will always remain special to me and held with much affection. On the back of that another person took their leave from me but for different reasons. Their proclaimed ‘disappointment’ on reflection only led me to realise that the only thing I would say to them now would be ‘Right back at ya!’ 

    Yet without these downs, these lows, these emotional challenges I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t be looking inward to myself and learning to accept me and all that entails and by making sense of it in a totally sober world that what I give outwardly will be more honest, accepting, self assured and open. Too often I haven’t listened to how I am feeling  for fear of rejection but if you can’t hear what yourself is saying and respect that and give yourself  kindness then how do you expect to give it to others? Alongside the more challenging aspects there has been much wonderful joy. My constantly surprising relationship with my parents is one that is growing richer by the day. All I will say is thank you ❤️ My children make me feel blessed and full of love like no other way. Being a single parent has its obvious challenges but it also creates a unique bond and trust between us. The love they give is totally unconditional and the bond between us will never be broken. They have shown me how to love and how to love myself. Sometimes I look at them and they take my breath away. My life is immensely rich in true friendships something I cherish greatly. I have learnt so much from my very close friends and their understanding, lack of judgment, love and support is a life force to me. I love you all dearly. 

    The older I get the more I am becoming comfortable with who I am and as the seasons come and go and life’s patchwork quilt grows and takes on an ever changing shape and scale I understand that each portion had its part to play in creating my journey to this point but people and human interaction are vital to that story too.  I cannot change what has been or predict what the future will be but I can be here and present in what is now, not just for 2016, or on the stroke of midnight but at anytime. My little girl said something today after we’d had a falling out. She said ‘Mummy, let’s start a fresh. We can choose to start anytime so let’s start now’. We are only where we are now. 

    The previous years, the years to come? 

    It’s now that you truly feel the sun. 

    So stop and truly listen to yourself,

    Inside you’ll find so much wealth.

    Time arrives too soon and departs too fast,

    Hold on to now before it becomes the past. 

    So for the first time on Hogmanay I am sitting alone, writing this, with a cup of tea and you know what? I’m perfectly content. May the rest of your life from this moment on continue to challenge, inspire, cherish and surprise you. 

    Nighty night xx

    Ps 638 days 

    A Lot Can Happen. 

    The 1st of October marked two significant events for me. I had now reached 18 months of complete sobriety and three years of total independent living. When I look at the woman I was then when I left the family home on that sunny Monday morning in 2012 with all my life packed in one van and the two loves of my life standing on the pavement waving me goodbye I felt the hugest sense of relief. However, that relief went hand in hand with total fear for this was the first time truly in my life I was totally responsible for me and not only for me but two other people. I won’t go into the detail of why I left but safe to say it was the right and truthfully only option open at that time. I remember arriving at my new flat and being met by the letting agent who was waiting for me with the keys. Various friends arriving throughout the day to help move bits and pieces into the flat, the building of the bunk beds, the taking out of the window to get a chair inside and the excitement of opening boxes and putting things where I wanted them. The creation of my safe place, my private space, my world. Getting it ready, cosy, homely for when the kids came to stay on the Wednesday for this was their world too… Well half of it. 

    After all the hustle and bustle of the day the time came for me to say goodbye to my last visitor, close the door and just be with me. Now I’ve lived with me all my life but now I truly felt like I was living with me. As I sat there in my flat that I was solely responsible for I remember feeling a huge wave of emotion. The cage door had been left open and I had stepped outside. There was absolutely no going back only forwards. Of course back in 2012 the life event was of course marked with opening and consumption of a bottle of Rioja and why not. Why the hell not. The following day I had a huge list of things to do. Council Tax registration, Virgin Media man coming for TiVo box installation, Scottish Power, TV licence, change my address on this, that and everything, contents insurance, do inventory for letting agent and email by midday, go to IKEA with friend to buy curtains, rugs and household things, etc. Oh it went on. Then Wednesday came and suddenly the excitement faded and a sick heavy feeling ached in my gut. I knew what it was. It was one thing finally being a single independent woman but quite another being a single mother. The way marriage had gone for me at that point in my life I had very little confidence that I could manage on my own with the children. Although I masked it well I was incredibly insecure in my own motherhood. I felt inadequate, incapable, fearful of getting it wrong. I knew this was a massive change for them no matter how resilient people tell you children are they are still two little beings whose world has been turned upside down with no control from them. They are at the beckon call of adults decision making for good and bad. What if the decisions I made as a parent were wrong? What if they didn’t like living here? What if they were really unhappy? What if I didn’t like it? What if, what if, what if? That first time I walked round to school to pick them up and bring them to their new home I was both excited and concerned for all those things but they embraced it openly and with great affection and I truly feel they do love living here and that it is their home. 

    Now three years on a lot has happened both good and bad but when I look at it all I see how much I’ve grown as a person. On the 1st October 2012 I just needed to step out from the cage but I didn’t realise how far away from myself I had travelled. How lost I had become and how much further I still had to go. The letting go of something you thought would be forever is never easy but sometimes it is the right thing. What I had also done was let go of me. The road back to me has been hard but worth it and I can honestly say I see myself now. I am accepting of myself now. I have found confidence in myself now. There’s still further to go but I’m on the right path at last with two shining  lights to guide me. There is so much to be thankful for and each day is a blessing. So I try to stop often and think about where I am now in comparison as to where I was before  the cage door opened. I try to be mindful of my liberation. To feel it in me, to embrace it and let its power give me strength. I want that for my children. I want them always  to feel liberated and hold on to how important that is as human beings. To always know their worth and have self belief in themselves but to equally honour that in others. To know that sometimes we can get lost but the only way out of that  is through it. Most importantly I want them to always know that they are loved. 

    I was where I should have been three years ago. I am where I should be right now but how exciting to wonder where I might be going.
    Nighty night X

    Ps 549 days 
      

    Motherhood 

    Ten years ago today I became a mother. Something I never thought I would be. Something for most of my life I never really had a desire to be. Yet a decade ago there I was ready to welcome into the world my baby, my son, my life changer. As soon as my then husband and I married we decided to try for a baby. I wasn’t get any younger so there seemed no reason to wait. I had also changed my view on having kids and knew it was something I very much wanted. When I try to think what it was that changed in me I am not 100% sure. Partly at that stage I felt in a secure relationship and it seemed a natural progression but it was also something quite personal. I longed for a connection with another human being that was totally unconditional, a unique bond, to feel selfless in my love for another, to think of another before all else, to nurture and to find complete joy. After 18 months of trying in 2004 I eventually fell pregnant… Twice in fact. Both pregnancies were lost. I felt a failure, incomplete and scared that I would never be able to sustain a pregnancy full term. Then in January 2005 I was pregnant again. Third time lucky? It had to be and it was. This pregnancy was not straightforward with gestational diabetes, a separated symphysis pubis and high blood pressure just for starters but what I found most challenging was the psychological effect it had on me. The worry that I would miscarry again and only till I was fairly showing and feeling strong movement did I relax on that. The worry of the diabetes and trying to keep on top of the endless hospital appointments, scans and blood checking. Given all that I still had the biggest concern of all. The fear that I wouldn’t be a good mother. That I would fail. That I wouldn’t meet the requirements of the job. What if I was rubbish at it? What if I couldn’t give my baby what it needed? What if he felt rejected by me? After all Nana had told me enough that I wasn’t a great daughter ( based on the fact that I was just different to my Mum and didn’t pander to her ego like she did) so surely I wouldn’t be a good Mother? These fears were in the back of my mind the whole time as well as the sheer excitement at what lay ahead. 

    Then after yet another hospital appointment I was kept in for observation due to high blood pressure. The following morning I was informed that although 11 days early they were going to induce me. You’re not ready! I could hear in my head. You are not ready! Well I had to be. There was no going back or stalling this. My induction began on Friday 2nd of September at a around 6.30pm and my son …our son Max was born at 2.14am on Sunday 4th September. After a monumental 31 hours and 44 minutes, pain, examinations, epidural resulting in what was akin to a near death experience, vomiting, more pain, needles, more examinations, blood, fluids, drips, catheters, cesarean section, anaesthetic, fear, exhaustion, terror, emotion, joy, relief and laughing there he was. A little blue due to low blood sugar but there, big, strong and beautiful. He was the most glorious thing I had ever seen. I remember every time I looked at him I couldn’t believe he had been born from me. That he had grown inside my womb. That he was of me. Of both of us. 

    So much has happened since my son was born both good and bad but one thing is clear. Regardless of what departures have been made between the two people that created this human being, this clever, funny, sensitive, loving, supportive, caring, sometimes grumpy young man that is forming in front of my very eyes we did get one thing very right. Our son. In fact little did we know over those life changing hours that only 19 months later the second thing we got right would happen. The birth of our daughter. Whatever isn’t there anymore we always have the joy and pride of sharing the creation of these two perfect children. 

    My motherhood has changed me completely. It is by far the most rewarding, loving and special aspects of my life but equally can be the most challenging, soul destroying and exhausting. There is not a day goes by that I do not question myself as a mother. Sometimes my insecurities are hard to bear and the self doubt is overwhelming but that is something I need to work on constantly and now a single parent I am finding my strength in that and it is liberating. Regardless of what mistakes I make the bond is forever, unbroken, unconditional. The love I give and receive is solid, unending and perfect. I am blessed. 

    My son you were not the only one born that day. I was too. 

    I love you always and forever. 

    Your Mummy xxx

    Ps 520 days 

    Max only hours old.

      

    Max’s first day at school ( aged 5)

      

    Max on his 10th birthday.