Tag Archives: family

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. 

Laverne of the Thousand Days

Today is now Tuesday 27th December and marks the 1,000th day anniversary of my stopping drinking alcohol. I had my last shot of vodka at 23.59 on Wednesday 31st March 2014. It hardly seems real. In so many ways it was quite straightforward. It was just something I didn’t do anymore and that was the end of it. I made it public to my friends and anyone who read this and then that way I couldn’t take it back. It aided my incentive to stay stopped. I knew it was the right thing to do. When I was totally honest with myself my drinking habits were toxic and were only going to get worse unless I did something about it before my body became physically dependent. Psychologically I was well and truly dependant and that was what I needed to work on. Latterly when I woke it was the first thing I thought about. My first decision of the day was – ‘ Shall I drink today or not?’
Writing helped enormously as did being honest with family and friends. My parents probably in denial of their daughters drinking and in many ways my mum encouraged it at certain times but my continuing honesty with them has forced them to hear my truth. Slowly but surely they are understanding. Slowly but surely so am I. Trouble was as I revealed in my last post alcohol was only one symptom of the bigger problem. All the blog posts in the world with their profound learnings about myself would amount to nothing if I continued to misuse another substance. That substance being codeine. Now that was not only psychological but physical in my dependency of it. Every time I had tried to stop my 320mg per day I had felt awful. Shivering, upset stomach, headaches, restless legs, insomnia, skin crawling, muscular aching, irritability and depression. If in the last years whilst still drinking I had managed to go cold turkey and get through it I had had alcohol to take the edge off. Certainly that helped with the physical withdrawals but psychologically I was not working through anything. To think I was drinking and taking that sometimes too makes me feel ill at the thought now but then I was very unhappy and trying to find coping strategies just to get through day to day. I was in total denial with the idea that I could just stop it when I wanted and all would be fine. After all the doctor was prescribing them for me so they must be OK? 
What I chose to ignore and justified as necessary was watching my Mum and Dad leave their house to go shopping and my letting myself in and stealing them from the medicine cabinet as the doctor had reduced my prescription and I wouldn’t  have had enough to keep the horrible feeling from coming back. Also ignoring the series of pharmacies in a rotation I had set up that I would go to in order to purchase as strong codeine as I could over the counter to top up with my prescribed ones just to try and make them last me till the next prescription. The sense of relief when I did get them or the sense of panic and fear if I couldn’t. Who was I trying to kid? I was addicted and only I could stop it. It terrified me. Not the stopping because I had reached the point where I truly wanted to but the fear of me. The fear of being exposed. Just me! Nothing to hide behind. Just me! No tricks or confidence boosters. Just me! No trying to get the party higher. Just me!  No drowning my sorrows in a substance. Just me! No trying to feel something more than the emotional flatline. Just me! Just me!  It terrified me. I had never really been just me since I was 15. In all honesty I wasn’t sure I knew how to be just me or who that me was in adulthood. 
That is when I reached out and came clean – so to speak. I confessed to the GP, my family and closest friends. Each and every one were unbelievably supportive and my GP guided me through a reduction plan but very clear that it needed to be at my own pace. It didn’t matter how long it would take it was the being ready to stop and staying stopped that were important. She also recommended that I get some counselling to help support me emotionally through it. She gave me a card of an organisation so I called them and made an appointment. What then happened was meeting and becoming part of a group of people that allowed me to be brutally honest and helped with my understanding of what made me tick. Sitting in a room with people I never thought I’d ever pass the time of day with and I’m sure they thought the same of me was a total leveller because regardless of background, gender, sexuality, class, race or age we had all one thing in common. Addictive behaviour resulting in bad choices. 
Since owning my substance misuse in October 2015 I have been slowly but surely reducing my 320mg to a nominal 30mg per day. In the last 28 days I have had only 14 tablets meaning 14 days when I have had none. That is an incredible achievement for me but does make me realise one thing. I am as ready now to fully stop as any other time in the future. I no longer have a physical dependency and what is left is the psychological hold. The story I am telling myself. The final letting go. The just me. I keep holding on setting dates in my head of when will be my last day with codeine. Worried if I slip back into bad habits again. A trip to the chemist or a hand in my mums tablets? What if I end up turning to something else ? What if what if what if ? But what if I don’t? That’s what all the recovery work is for to help you stay focussed and keep on the clean path. I don’t walk into Tesco’s anymore and feel panicked when I’m near the wine aisle or think ‘that’s it I’m heading out to get a bottle of vodka!’ No, it’s something I just don’t do anymore. 
I remember when I moved down to London in September 1995. I was going to study acting at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. A huge life changing time. I was 25 and had only ever lived at home with my parents and my Nana. Yes the Nana that I had shared a bedroom with since the I was 10! It was all planned out. My Dad was driving me down with my Mum travelling too. We would stop off in York to visit my Aunty Rita and break the journey up. We would then carry on to my cousin Alison (Aunty Rita’s daughter) in Romford where we would stay the night. The following day we were to drive into the City of London where Guildhall was so I could matriculate and move my luggage etc into the halls. We were then going to see my Uncle Clifton performing at the Players Theatre and afterwards travel to his house in Enfield and stay the last night there. The end of the plan was the following day being Sunday my Dad and Mum would drive me back to college where they would let me settle into the halls and then take their leave returning to Edinburgh. I would next see them at Christmas. It was a fairly big deal and although I was so bloody ready to live my own life or at least have my own room it was also incredibly emotional and all of us were just avoiding the inevitable. The saying goodbye. The letting go. 
As I sat in the theatre I had this gut instinct. What was the use of putting things off as long as possible? Sitting there in denial that any goodbye was to occur. Refusing to believe that there would be any tears or breakdowns of emotion or worse snot ridden wailing and hugging. No I needed to make the break now. Yes it was going to be sad, difficult and hurt even but it had to happen and by taking control of when it did happen I was being proactive, assertive, sensible and courageous. During the interval I turned to my Mum and said, ‘After this I want you to take me to the halls. I need to say goodbye tonight’. She was visibly shocked and upset as was my Dad but they agreed and understood and afterwards made the drive to the city to take me up to my room. The City of London on a Saturday night is eerily quiet. The City is alive Monday – Friday but apart from those attending the Barbican there is hardly a soul around. Even some of the pubs stay closed at the weekends because there is no trade. We got out of the car and we travelled up to my room. I can still see it. It wasn’t the halls I was meant to be in as the new super duper ones were yet to be finished so this was emergency halls for the first two weeks until the new ones were ready to open. This room was near the top of a high rise block and although had an amazing view over London inside it was dark, over heated and bleak. Vinyl flooring and a single bed that a size zero model would struggle for space in. The tiny sink was enclosed in a cupboard and the only plug socket was a two pin affair. Yet I knew I had to do it. I had to say goodbye now. I couldn’t prolong it. I felt it in my gut and I had to go with it. We cried, we hugged and yes there was a fair amount of snot but they left, they went back to Edinburgh the following day and luckily we are all still here to tell the tale. 
That is how I feel just now. I feel it in my gut that I have to just do it. I have to go with it. I have to be courageous and take the leap. I need to trust in all the work that I’ve done and continue to do so. I need to let go. I need to just be me. I can really feel what I felt like that night when I said goodbye to my parents and the door with its safety hinge closed on me inside that tiny soulless room. I can honestly say I felt true loneliness but I also felt alone for the first time and in that I felt empowered. The two are very different and after 25 years I realised this was the start of my life as I wanted it to be. I was alone but I was fully in control and I was in charge of the choices I made. That night as I looked out over London with it’s twinkling dancing lights I made the choice to stop feeling lonely. Being alone was good because that was a choice but I wasn’t going to choose to be lonely. Well right now I want to look out of that high rise window and see the lights. I may be alone but I’m not lonely. I am ready to take charge. I’m ready to take that last step. I’m ready to just be me.
 I had 14 tablets left. I don’t anymore. I washed them down that tiny sink and closed the cupboard door on it. I’m not looking inward. I’m standing looking out and the view is quite dazzling. 


1,000 days

1 day. 

Moving

  
As long as I can remember I have always felt compromised when it came to my own personal space. Growing up I never had a room of my own even though I was an only child. It wasn’t so much the sharing but who I was sharing with that was the issue. Countless people share with siblings but sharing with your parents because a lodger was in your room of bunking up with your Nana from the age of 10 – 25 ( 28 if we include holidays from London) is not ideal to say the least but it was the way it was. I got through it but not without squiring a few over night bags along the way. 

Total number of house moves till London = 9.

When I lived in London as independent as I now was I struggled to gain my own space. I spent most of the time sleeping, eating, socialising, working in my bedroom whether it be a shared flat, student accommodation or as a lodger. 

Total number of house moves in London = 4

When I returned to Edinburgh I was an engaged soon to be married. Sharing everything with another person; a person who couldn’t understand if I needed or wanted space. It was more viewed as a slight on him and quite often ended up in acrimony. It wasn’t going to end well really was it and it would be no surprise to say that it didn’t. 

Total number of house moveswhilst married  = 4

The best solution under the circumstances was for me to move out of the family home and set up a flat on my own with the children living with me for 4 days of the week. And that’s what happened. I could go into detail about how traumatic the three months leading up to me leaving were but that would have you all reaching for the bottle which would defeat the main purpose of my blog. Suffice to say it wasn’t the best time of my life or the kids but after what seemed like forever I secured a rented flat close to the kids school and my family. I’ll never forget the day I moved. Yes it was rented but it was mine. It was the first time I had been solely responsible for a living space on my own. My own kitchen, my own bathroom, my own lounge and my own bedroom. The first time I had my own bedroom that all I had to do was sleep and be with myself in. The kids had their room but I also had my own room. My own room! At 42 I had finally arrived. 

So after over three years of living in the flat the kids were reaching the time that they couldn’t share anymore. If they were same sex it might have been more manageable but being a boy and a girl it wasn’t working out. I looked online for other flats but they were so much more expensive or in areas that would have been 2 buses to school in the morning that it just wouldn’t have been possible or the right thing for anyone. I mulled it over then after one particularly difficult evening I decided it needed to change ASAP and the change meant only one thing. I needed to give up my bedroom. 

When the day arrived last week for me to start the changing of the rooms I felt overwhelmed with loss. It conjured up so many feelings in me. The sense of losing that room space had a profound effect on me filling me with anger, resentment, sadness and fear. I felt like I was 14 all over again. Fighting for privacy, feeling marginalised, alone in compromising. I didn’t like it and  on Mother’s Day after a difficult few hours with the kids at my parents they were picked up by their dad leaving me alone to walk home. As I started my journey home I felt overcome with emotion and for the first time in a very long time I had the desire to be drunk. I visualised a glass of red wine in my mind and I so wanted to taste it but more than anything I wanted the feeling it used to give me. That warm, fuzzy feeling and an instant shoulder relaxer but the visualisation didn’t stop there and very quickly the glass panned out to a bottle and then panned out to me – drunk. That’s what I wanted. Drunkeness. In an instant I wanted to be in a state which stopped me caring about what was about to happen. Them as quickly something else happened. After allowing myself to visualise what I desired at the moment I heard myself say inside my head,

‘Laverne, you don’t do that anymore.’

As quick as it had come it had gone. I had controlled my need to drink by telling myself I didn’t need to or want to and it had happened organically. Even though the remaining steps of that journey home were emotionally difficult and tears stained my face I never thought again about drinking. It was just something I didn’t do. End of. 
With one foot in front of the other I walked up the road, in my head I was walking a new neural pathway. I arrived home and with the help of a friend I gave up my bedroom and created a new lounge/ bedroom. Once finished I stood back and looked at the new flat interior. Yes it was different. Yes I was back to eating, socialising, relaxing and sleeping in the one room but my children had the space they needed and deserved. They can grow and develop themselves within their own space and learn how important it is to have that freedom. Something I wish I had had. 

A week has now passed since the big change and my thoughts and feeling too have changed. When the kids came back the joy on their faces when they saw their own rooms made everything that I was grieving for seem irrelevant. I’m not diminishing my own feelings as what I felt was very real and on reflection understandable but when I look at what I have I am blessed. Regardless of who sleeps where it is my own front door, it is my own place with many rooms, it is my own bed, it is my own life. These are my children. They come from me and will be with me; connected always. I have changed my thoughts, feelings and actions regarding alcohol. I can change my thoughts, feelings and actions about anything. 

Number of house moves as a liberated me = 1 

Whatever the size, wherever the place I possess the most important aspect of living. My freedom. With that I can change anything. That is all the riches I need. 

Nighty night x

Ps 715 days 





The earlies, the mid’s and the late’s. 

Just 6 sleeps now till I reach my last mid 40’s year. If I say it quick enough it doesn’t really register but the simple fact is I will be turning 46. I’ve always been able to deal with new decades filled by the subsequent earlies and mid’s but there’s something about the late’s that I don’t like. I suppose it focusses on the end of something and the fear of the unknown next phase of your life. By that point I will have had 3 years to fret, pre empty and write some convoluted horror story in my head but the reality of the new decade is actuslly accompanied with a sigh of relief and I generally embrace of the new phase. The earlies are just 3 years that feel very much like the decade’s start and the mid’s are just settling into the new maturer me but the late’s well that’s the saying goodbye to years that I’ve lived too fast without stopping to take air and be present. I suppose getting another year older carries the same question that I have with New Year in that do you really begin something new or does your life carry on but with the time labels that are periodically stamped on it? I mean when I reach 46 does that mean that the next 366 days are a chance to make positive change, nurture the things I love or make resolutions? I don’t think so. I think we all fall into the trap of compartmentalising our lives into periods, labelling them and then looking at them with rose tinted nostalgia all too eager to wish we were 19, 25 or 34 again. In doing that we will only find it more difficult to enjoy the here and now.

 When I look at my late teens and 20’s a great deal of it was under the influence of alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis. Yes I had a some great successes in those years but for a large part I was nursing a hangover, borrowing money off my Nana for fags or taking a whitey. This of course will not be unlike most young people of that age group and I had a jolly good time in the process but did I? I was talking about this with some friends recently. When I  look back at my younger self in particular my drinking younger self like many in Scotland, well the UK, there is the expectation that you go out to get drunk, bladdered, wasted. That’s the aim of the game. The following morning retracing your drunken or stoned steps with your pals trying to piece together the hazy and sometimes blank night before. Hysterical laughter, many stories and shared memories for sure however, too often time was lost through memory loss or sickness ensued due to too much drink. I have so many sick stories I could do a standup routine just on the subject. By and into my 30’s I had stopped smoking both weed and cigarettes respectively but still liked a drink. Oh I loved a drink! It just took a different turn. As unhappiness in my marriage crept in like a dementor alcohol helped to numb me in that unhappiness but with two pockets of light shining always in the shape of my children. Thank you universe for them.  In my teens and 20’s it was a social substance. I very rarely drank in the house unless I was going out. When I lived at home with my family the flat ( being so central) was usually a hub of friend activity. My pals were always popping in to visit but unless we were going out we never drank alcohol. We made coffee, tea and cheese on toast. Into my 30’s and 40’s drinking became much more of a home activity as going out was not something I did very much anymore. The social binging of my younger self had become something different. It wasn’t so much socially anymore but more a means to get through difficult emotional times or to give me courage sometimes in the most mundane and unremarkable of activities. I was slowly losing myself. My strength, self assureness, decision making, independence and ability to love was becoming underpinned by alcohol and I felt I needed it more and more to find these things. When you are told you will never manage, that you are a bad person and that you will never be happy just alone and miserable then no matter what defences you try to protect yourself with inside that self made fortress it is a murky emotional swamp and your confidence needs propping up all the time. I hadn’t realised what a set of under arm crutches my drinking had become. 

I can’t remember what was the actual trigger that made me want to stop only that I had enough self awareness and understanding to know that I was using alcohol in a negative way and if I didn’t address it things could and no doubt would escalate into something that would be more of a struggle than what I was facing at that moment. I didn’t physically need alcohol. I didn’t feel any physical difference when I didn’t drink but I thought about it every day. Making conscious decisions on waking that this would be a day that I wouldn’t drink but then as soon as I felt stress or even joy it was complimented with a bottle of wine, vodka or both.

I’m lucky I had the strength and courage to say ‘ for me this is enough’. I am not a bad person I am human and may have made some bad choices but this was one choice that was to empower me and liberate me from the shackles of a substance that was controlling a lot of my own self. In choosing to stop drinking I was choosing to find me. Who would that woman be? What would she be like free from control? Where could she go in life? I’m not sure I have the answers yet. Who knows what lies ahead? Whether it be the earlies, the mids or the lates it’s not about the destination; it’s about the getting there. So far the journey has been challenging but it is so full of life, love, compassion, laughter, forgiveness and kindness. 

These are true riches.
  
  
 

Happy Sunday xx 

Ps 675 days 

1,2,3 1,2,3

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 

Bah! Humbug! No more! 

The dark nights are well and truly upon us and this year I am going to try something I’ve never really done in my adulthood. I’m going to enjoy Christmas. My usual bah humbug attitude of minimal decorations  up as late as I can manage it and then down early as is humanly possible without scarring the kids for life is going to be different. I have started my new found festive excitement by getting rid of my Christmas tree. Now that might sound counter productive but I have donated it’s fir coned self to the Royal Blind School Christmas show. Now before you think I should be beatified for this I do actually work there so it’s not like I arrived at the door like a modern day Scrooge visiting the Cratchit’s house on Christmas morn laden with good cheer and a big fat goose but it is still going to good use. That tree purchased in 2006 is like the ghost of Christmas past and each one pretty poor. Each year that it was dragged out of the two industrial bin bags my heart would sink. While each colour coded branch slipped into its colour coded partner slot my mood would darkem until “merry” melancholia took root spreading like dutch elm disease and strangling any notion of fun. New neural pathways? This was one yearly event that needed a good forging in a different direction. 

I can remember as a child being so excited when certain decorations made their Yuletide appearance. The warm memories of the angel with the yellow wool hair that rotated to ‘Silent Night’ when you turned the key or the snow globe containing the tiny Victorian street scene ( they’re always Victorian aren’t they?) and the metal candle holder that had to be carefully pieced together and when the candles were lit the heat made the reindeer dance around. Yet in the last 12 years whenever I stuck my hand into the tangled mess of what seemed like a mile long cable of cherry fairy lights woven into tarnished tinsel the pulling out of each decoration was like falling onto a cactus plant with your bare leg; each one stinging more than the last. 
  
It’s funny how negative memories can sometimes have a habit of taking centre stage with me rather than the positives. Is that because I expect the downside so if it is a festive flop I can’t be disappointed? I mean aren’t they all like that?  Stress, stress and more stress. It’s not like I even believe in God so this whole tiresome tinsel fest is wasted on me. Then of course there is the Christmas association with alcohol. Not that I ever needed an excuse but it was a big green light to get shit faced by at least midday and carry on down the gin soaked road until everyone had gone, the kids were shackled in bed and I could be left in peace inwardly delighted to tick another Christmas off the calendar of life but too pissed to actually show anything more than drunken stupor. I was of course not drinking last year but I still had the same figgy pudding frown on and of course the terrible memory tree was there in the room with its tired tinselled branches trying to twinkle. It’s weary baubles each one weighed down with a miserable memory of each Christmas past. It’s just there, in the corner,staring at me. 

This year I have bought myself an early Christmas present of a brand new trowel and I am starting by drawing a line in the grey matter. A light fresh new line but clear enough to see and each day I’m going to work that line with my trowel making it deeper and full of newly made Christmas memories. Im going to buy new decorations that the kids and I can choose together and we will create new memories of this Christmas and for the ones yet to come. I am going to fill our home with the smell of oranges, cloves, nutmeg, pine and cinnamon. We will cuddle up together and watch warm festive films. We shall love and support each other and feel lucky and blessed for having that. 

As I have said I am not religious but I absolutely respect those who are and whatever belief system they follow or whichever festivals they celebrate but for me I am going to view this Christmas as a time to reflect. Rather than assuming the day will be all for nothing I’m going to make sure that it is most definitely for something. 2015 has been another one of those years which has been so up and down I should have had travel sickness tablets on repeat prescription but I am nearly out the other side and it will end with emotional kindness and experiential  validation for those difficult times. It will be a celebration of the successes of the past year and the unchartered hopes for the future. 

There is so much to be thankful for even in those times when we are sad. Life’s departures need not always be viewed with disappointment, frustration or hurt but in taking the good from them, the happy times, the shared experience we can remember that what we have gained is unique and incomparable to anything else. That in itself (although with some loss) so much has been gained through life’s experience and we are the richer for it although not always obvious until later reflection offers a different world view. That’s what I want – see Christmas with fresh new eyes rather than the tired tear stained ones of the past. To view it not as a tangled fairy light mass of difficult memories and associations but as a future path of enlightened opportunities offering new experiences and enriching life everyday. 

  

So ring them bells…. It’s Chriiiiiiisstmaaassss!! 

Nighty night.

Ps 607 days 

Pps Happy St Andrews Day and 🎉🎂😘

An Extra Hour

The clocks went back last night. Well to be precise at 2am GMT. Just out of interest the Daylight Saving Bill was introduced in 1909, the year my Nana was born although it wasn’t fully put into practise until 21st May 1916 three weeks after Germany had formerly introduced it and by the looks of this photograph it wasn’t always in October. I wonder though with all those years of forwards and backwards what is the actual time had we not been saving? I suppose if it’s just back and forth we’re either here or an hour forward? Argh! The movement of time always bamboozles me. I mean don’t get me started on ‘ Back to the Future’ or ‘Twelve Monkey’s’. 

Yesterday was a day when I wish there had been an extra hour. That hour would have allowed me so much more calm, patience and usefulness. It could have been time well spent. As it stands the extra hour was not afforded me or anyone else for that matter. I mustn’t feel lone persecution in my time lacking anxiety but so often I do. When I feel pressure (usually time related) I change pretty quickly into John Cleese in ‘Clockwise’ striding  through the house in a demented fashion and giving orders out to the kids like a sergeant major. Trouble is the more I bellow like Brian Blessed on acid the more they go into slow mo and give me the ‘ I couldn’t give a figless fuck’ attitude. Yes it can be quite frantic and so predictable in many ways with one striking factor – time. If I had more time we wouldn’t be getting stressed. Sounds plausible doesn’t it but really that extra hour wouldn’t give me much at all because I’d only get up later or find other time wasting activities to fill it resulting in the usual wearisome meltdowns about buses, timetables, school bags, packed lunches, work, homework, appointments, forgotten play pieces, signed forms, money, match attax, loom bands, unofficially borrowed toys to be returned, missing uniform items, football training, football games, brownies, dance classes, play dates, sleep overs or even endless requests for teeth brushing to commence. 

Now that I don’t sit of an evening supping vino collapso and slipping into a numb fuzzy state (where any coherent thought cannot reside because my brain’s addled terrain is not conducive to its existing there) I have much more time to think and reflect on what has passed and it’s quite revealing and sometimes  hard to take. To really look at a given situation and what part you have played in it takes honesty and courage because sometimes you might not like what you see about yourself. When I am panicked, pressured or under acute stress I look to source the blame to make sense of how I’m feeling. It’s because the water wasn’t hot enough, or because you didn’t do as you were asked even after the 8th time or because too much was attempted in too short a time scale. I feel thwarted with a huge sense of injustice. Therein lies the answer to my own dilemma –  I try to do too much giving myself monumental mountains to climb and a self fulfilling prophecy to fail. With that expectation piled upon myself by yours truly I am bound to. I try to keep everyone happy. I try to prevent upset. I try to give the kids as many opportunities as I can because I am their Mum and I want them to participate in stuff that inspires them and makes them happy but in doing that the pressure I put on myself is immense resulting in time wasted by deconstructive means resulting in stress and frustration. I mean they are only with me four days not a whole week. I know I need to let go. I need to give myself a break. I need to be kinder to myself. 

Something I am learning is that it doesn’t make me a bad Mum or a failure if I say no to certain things or prioritise. At the end of the day when the kids have a strop about not getting more football cards or not having their friends over on a particular day are they not just pushing the boundaries and quite frankly being unreasonable at times? At the end of  the day when I have a personality change because ( deep down) I know I’ve not allowed enough time to give the best possible start to the day and I’m cross with myself am I not pushing the boundaries and being unreasonable by taking it out on them?  I know when the domestic storm hits that I am culpable as much as anyone else if not more for at the end of the day I need to show them that I am in control for then they feel safe. It’s hard sometimes when the pressure hits but if I’m not in control neither will they be. They look to me to show  them the way, to guide them, to make them feel safe and loved. I have no doubts that I give them all of those things in abundance and I beautifully and honestly receive them back in full but the kindness, compassion and love I am seeking  in these situations needs to comes from me. It’s not a bad thing to love yourself. It’s not egocentric or selfish, it’s acknowledging when you’re feeling vulnerable, weak or scared and allowing yourself to be honest about those feelings and be kind and generous emotionally to yourself  rather than burying them inside feeling the need to be punished for the stressful situation. None of us are perfect. Each and everyone of us is flawed and full of contradictions and we all need love, kindness and compassion. Let’s try not to forget to give that to ourselves too. 

Nighty night x 

P.S. 573 Days