Tag Archives: forgiveness

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. 

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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 

    A New Axis 

    An axis a straight line, sometimes seen sometimes not that is important in maths, science, art and our survival. Silent, strong and steadfast it steers us through allowing life to just happen somehow managing  to keep our momentum going and keeping us on track…. most of the time. Taken for granted we always manage to brush ourselves down and get on with life…. most of the time. Relying on that inner core to keep it together … most of the time. The position of the straight line is vital for life. Take Earth our home, it’s axis on a tilt of 23.5 degrees allows for perfect sun position resulting in moderate seasons with no extreme temperatures. Without this life would not exist. The earth’s axis is essentially constant which is crucial for the advancement of life but what happens if it shifts? You know that expression ‘ to feel off kilter’ well that’s it. That’s me. Somehow my axis has shifted and I feel my rotation has gathered a pace into an erratic super spin. It can take hundreds even thousands of years for tectonic plates to move, planets to alter positions or asteroids to reach earth so 45 years for a polar side step is nothing. A blip even. It must all be relative because right now I feel like a seismic change is occurring within me and this ain’t no blip. Perhaps I have felt like this at different stages of my life but I most likely self medicated with alcohol but this time there is only one trajectory and that is straight through it feeling the full force of nature and all its complexities. I know I have to stay with this until the spinning stabilises and my axis is secured. I know I have to stay with this until I find my way back to me. I must trust in the spin. 

    The universe is changing all the time both in what we can and can’t see. With every cataclysmic occurrence on Earth our planet, there is fundamental change, reshape and in time regrowth. Sometimes all we can do is listen to Earth and let her do what she needs to do. Maybe we need to listen to ourselves more and let us do what we need to. How often do we stop and stay in the present truthfully? I know I don’t enough but I am learning to do it more. Alcohol didn’t allow me to do that. I realise now that I was petrified to be in the moment because then I’d have to feel the pain or happiness and it could be overwhelming. I am not going to lie in saying that I feel sad. I am going through a sad period in my life one full of uncertainties, confusion and loss. We are conditioned to dust ourselves down, brush ourselves off and start all over again and there is some useful advice in that sentiment but it also stifles recuperation, healing and forgiveness. Recuperation needs time, healing needs kindness and forgiveness needs courage. Forgiving someone can release you, empower you and give you peace but first of all maybe we need to forgive ourselves. Maybe my axis has always been “off kilter” and as the degree increased the rotation gathered momentum until the spin was out of control. I feel like I have been seeking a fixed axis point for forever but can only really see that now. The spin is gradually losing momentum after reaching crisis point and once the prolonged orbital free fall has ceased I hope to find my fixed point to which I can move freely to and fro but nothing will ever be the same again. It can’t be. It shouldn’t be. 

    Allowing myself to really stay with this no matter what is the only way through. If I feel happy rejoice in it. If I feel sad acknowledge it, let it have voice and breath. If I want to laugh do so heartily. If I need to cry let it out until the tears stop… for now. I can’t speak for others although I have tried mightily in the past and I can only guess at what they think, do or feel so why let others presumptions or assumptions dictate my view of the world and me. I can’t control their actions, beliefs of thoughts, I can only control mine and trust in the process. Only I know my story. Only I know my truth.  People can project what they want or what they think they know and again I can’t control that. When my axis stabilises (and I have faith that it will) the seismic change that has occurred will bring with it new form, re growth and acceptance in me. Never apologise for feeling after all only then are we truly alive. 

    Nighty night x

    Ps 453 days 

       

    Never forget 😘 

    My Miraculous May: Day 5

    So today was a day filled with an AWOL Dad ( who had apparently done a sneaky on the bus up to the HMV to buy DVDs he’ll never watch), lunch with a friend, enormous cake consumption, line work, returning batteries, buying batteries ( if that sounds suspect that’s cause it is), hunting for a child’s birthday present, more line work, hoovering, washing and insertion of batteries. Phew!!!

    But hey no hangover!

    I was given two gifts from friend. The first a book about learning to forgive. I think will be an interesting and insightful read. Who knows it may lay some ghost to rest. Worth a go and I’m sure I will no doubt be writing about it soon enough. The second was a card. This card:

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    I laughed when I saw it because it resonated with me a lot. How different the past 7 weeks or so ( and I refer to My Angelic April: Day 11 1980’s bullet point song list) could have been if I had been drinking. I actually shudder to think. That awful logic you get when you’ve have a drink or three; I know what would be really sensible right now- texting and saying blah de blah de blah!! A potentially terrible mistake on all counts particularly in this situation. So not drinking has saved me from upset because no matter how much you feel validated to relay certain things to some individuals it is a waste of time, energy and credit. They are just not worth the bother and being sober helped me keep clear, focused and allowed me to truly find how to be kind to myself.

    Since not drinking I am finding out so much about myself, my reactions, responses and feelings. I am finding a new contentment within me. A new strength I never thought I had. I am finding happiness honestly and truly and not faked or forced by alcohol and it feels good. After all to be happy is the best “two fingers up” you can give.

    Nighty night x

    P.S Five weeks and counting