The past…

I thank you for your kind words in the last 24 hours.

I have also had support, in real life, from my friends J and K and my brother. J phoned my ExH today and told him that his behaviour was unacceptable. The “issue” is apparently that my ExP was mean to the children.  the children have told their father some things… and I am to blame. Hence the tirade of abusive words. Are you seeing this? The logic? No, me neither.

Apparently he (ex husband) thinks “it needed to be said” although since ExP is not living here and has NO contact with the children, it’s pretty hard to see why it needed to be said ! It’s also pretty hard to see why anything needed to be said at 3am, using that language. I am left with the conclusion that either a) he was drunk /drugged or b) he’s been storing up a load of black bitter thoughts in his heart – saving them for when I would be vulnerable … or maybe it’s both…

either way, I have done nothing to provoke this, I am his children’s mother and have done 95% of everything for those children, including maintaining their relationship with their father despite his drug abuse, and significant provocation. I deserve to be treated with respect.

He also conveniently forgets that it was HE who hit son #2 with a remote control, over the head, resulting in a police caution for domestic abuse; he who left the children alone in a sweet shop and drove off when they were 8 and 5 leaving them hysterical until his mother went to rescue them;  he who threatened me with a knife; he who kicked son no #1 down the stairs;  he who caused me to flee my home in terror with three kids as he was so aggressive. I do not think ExPs treatment of the children was ok – and ultimately that split us up, but he was not physical with me or the children and I never once felt as scared of him as I did of ExH’s violent, irrational, vindictive outbursts.

I’m more angry than tearful today. More indignant than upset. Apparently one other thing I have done wrong is deciding to send son #3 to school B (selective state, so free) rather than school A (private) when son 3 would have preferred school A.. since he (ExH) would not have offered to pay one penny for that education I think it’s a bit rich that he critisises me for this …

the unfairness if it all really stings. I hate being blamed for things I have not done, and I hate being criticised unfairly. I hate that my children will have to listen to him slagging me off because he’s too emotionally immature to understand that this is BAD FOR THEM. I hate that he’s seen a weak spot and ruthlessly gone for it with a stiletto blade. The caption at the top? That’s him, for all he pretends to be a Christian, and he has got VERY churchy and preachy – no true Christian would behave as he has.

So, for the record … ExP did not treat son #1 as he should have. It was wrong the way he behaved and our relationship ended largely because of this. BUT there were also good times, both between him and son #1 in the early years, and between him and the other boys. Ultimately being a blended family didn’t work, but it was not ALL bad, and not all exP’s fault.

I know I’m not really vulnerable, there are two dogs here – I’m pretty sure Lola would go for anyone who tried to harm me. My two eldest sons are bigger than him… but he scares me. I think it’s because he’s totally unpredictable and has no limits beyond which he wouldn’t go. Once in the past when I fled the house during a violent rant, I was terrified he would kill the children (who were upstairs) to get back at me… he is, or can be, that unstable. Yesterday’s totally unexpected tirade has brought it all back..

So, wise, sober people .. help me. I need some advice about how to discuss this with my children. Firstly how to help them see that their father is not an emotionally safe person to confide anything in… without making him sound like the devil… and secondly to help them discuss and reflect upon and put into context their relationship with ExP, the good and the bad. Help them to express their emotions about it, allow them to be angry (with me too) but not OTT … it’s too close to me, I’m lost … but we all need some help ..



This morning I woke to find two text messages from my Ex husband. They were extremely abusive, calling me a “c*nt” and various other choice phrases. The texts said that our children had told him “what I had been doing” ….They were sent at 3am.

to say I was surprised is a massive understatement. My Ex-husband and I separated on August 9th 2010. I was granted a decree absolute on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour in an uncontested divorce, on April 5th 2011. My ex-husband was/is a drug Addict; a non recovered, fully operational drug addict, who knew no limits to his drug taking when we were married and created a chaotic frightening landscape in our family home. I tried extremely hard to “make” the marriage work, and had previously reconciled with him following a 6 month separation in 2007, because I believed in my marriage vows and in a second chance.

The night he went out and got incoherently drunk / drugged in central London with our 11 year old son, was the night I had had enough.

Having said this, he is my children’s father. He adopted son #1 and has always treated the children exactly the same. We live about a mile apart and he has seen the children once a week (on a Saturday) since the divorce. He does not have them overnight, does not take them for weekends away and struggles somewhat with doing stuff. 95% of childcare, all the decision making, organisation and responsibility for raising the children has fallen on my shoulders.

I have tried hard not to run him down to the children. I am civil to him and I would have said our relationship was cordial and reasonably constructive.

until this morning.

I have quite literally no idea what set this off, and at first I was so shocked I wondered if his account had been hacked. But no, when I called him I got a huge tirade of abuse which apparently relates to me having a relationship with my ExP: “putting my c*** before my children”, allowing ex P to bully the children and basically being the devil incarnate.

i don’t know if he’s ill, or been taking drugs or what, but it’s really horrible being on the receiving end of a vituperative, vindictive tirade of abuse, the purpose of which seems to be to underline just exactly how shit a person I am, how rubbish all my efforts to be a decent parent are and how I deserve every bad thing going.

Ive just spent the last 6 months or longer trying to convince myself I’m not THAT  bad, that perhaps everything is not my fault…but clearly I haven’t succeeded as I feel completely blindsided by this; desperately upset and uncertain how to react.

A BIG part of me thinks I deserve it, that deep down I am horrible, evil and that I deserve every single hateful word and the opprobrium of the whole world on my head. That is how I FEEL.  And that, I think,  is the problem.

what I should feel (I know) is a huge amount af righteous indignation and conviction that  have done the best that I could …

what I have done is reply, saying that this is out of order and I won’t listen to any more. Then I blocked his number, gathered up my children and the dogs and went to the Park for 2 hours.

And now? Now I’m bewildered, anxious, upset, angry, flustered and unhappy. I feel as though I must be a really horrible person, to provoke such an attck from nowhere. And I feel very sad.




Today I am quite alone. The children went to my mother last night, and are with their father today, so my company has been the dogs. Some people might not enjoy this solitude,  but for me it’s a very rare opportunity to do as I please, unfettered by others. I even (partially) managed to avoid the list of things I feel I should get done (washing, cleaning the floor/ stairs etc) in favour of what I WANT to do… today that has been, collect the car from repairs, take the dogs out, make a chocolate reflection cake (two actually) whilst listening to radio drama, and reading a book called Quiet

Quiet was lent to me a few weeks ago by my therapist, and has been sitting by my bed waiting for me to have the mental energy and concentration to open it. I’m about 60 pages in and struck by the relevance to how I feel deep down. The book is about the role of introverts, the power of introverts, in a world that increasingly values the qualities of extroverts and extols the virtues of sociability, team working and verbal communication.

Being an introvert is not the same as being “shy”; Shy vs Outgoing is how well/easily you handle social situations. Introverted vs Extroverted is your need for alone time or relaxing in company. It’s essentially about how restful you find other people essentially, and how much time alone you need to recharge.

I score pretty highly  on personality questionnaires as an introvert. For many years I didn’t believe this, as i forced myself to behave as  society/ my own inner beliefs (from where?)  thinks right, and spent a lot of time being sociable. On the Myers Briggs questionnaire I would always score as an INTJ, the N, T and J I accepted, the I ? Not so much. I have come to see that in fact the questionairre had more validity than I was prepared to allow it, and that years of forcing myself to behave as an extrovert, in denial of what truly makes me content, has been pretty destructive. I wonder for example, if I partly drank when socialising to help create the extrovert image I wanted to project.

We live with a value system, which Quiet’s author Susan Cain, calls the ‘Extrovert Ideal’ – that the best self is alpha, gregarious and happy in the spotlight. Cain says that introversion has been relegated to a “second class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology” – an observation that made me wince, and smile, when I read it.

An introvert’s desire for solitude is more than just a preference. It is crucial to our health and happiness. We need time alone to restore ourselves. Introverts are pressured to push ourselves in social situations to the point of exhaustion. Then we feel guilty for becoming irritable and grouchy. We blame ourselves for not being able to be “on” all the time. In contrast, when we give ourselves permission to seek the solitude we crave, life becomes lighter. Social situations are more bearable.

I have always found big gatherings hard, I actually can’t face “people” most of the time, I find it exhausting being “interested”, although I would much rather talk to acquaintance about their interests than my own. A book, a radio play, a jigsaw, my blog, are all restorative… close friends are restorative. Parties and socialising are not .

Im only 60 pages into this book, but I find it quite affirming (which I suspect was the point of lending it to me) in an hour or so the kids will come home and the whole “mum” chatter will start again. Instead of feeling guilty that I have not achieved much today, I’m going to try and feel that I have restored some peace to myself by being quieter and alone, and that this is a good thing – not lesser, not shameful, not lazy .. necessary.



I haven’t posted for a few days. I’ve been unwell, proper poorly with a temperature, unable to swallow for a day as my threat was so sore … I’d forgotten how miserable it is having a temperature, and I’m hoping this flatness is just recovery…

Because I’m so low.

I took two days off work, then dragged myself in yesterday. There are several others away so there was a feeling of “good your here, now you can pick up the slack”… I really couldn’t, but then felt horribly guilty and ungrateful because there are others so so much worse off than I am. I’m not sleeping because I’m sweating so much at night, I hate it and wake up soaking wet, cold and then can’t sleep any longer… 

I can’t be bothered to do anything.  I’m tearful, I see nothing to look forward to, just endless stress and hard work, financial pressure and declining health. The kids are ok, but they are growing up. They don’t need me as company – or want much to do with me really (apart from no 3) they do the bare minimum, create huge amounts of mess…. typical teens really. The house looks empty and bare. Stuff that was on shelves and walls has gone and the house looks unfinished, unloved and tatty. My car wouldn’t start yesterday and that was the proverbial last straw … I feel overwhelmed with the responsibility at home, at work … overwhelmed and utterly inadequate. 

This is not supposed to be happening. I’ve been sober for 322 days. Being sober was supposed to make me serene and happy. Well I’m not. I’m sad, stressed, lonely, apathetic, increasingly introverted and can’t be bothered / don’t have the energy to change anything.

I’m also stressed to fuck about this charity bike ride I have signed up to. I just can’t fit in the training. I have a FT job which is increasingly demanding , a house to keep, two dogs to care for, three kids and everything else … it just seems impossible to carve more hours out to train …don’t know what to do.. I have £125o already pledged …. 

sorry. This is self indulgent and not very helpful … 

Close the door… please

Please skip this post if you are bored of my inability to ‘let go’ .. ( no hard feelings, I’m bored of it myself)

A couple of weeks ago in my therapy session we looked more deeply at why I was/am struggling to let go of my ExP. To be clear, I know he is “bad” for me, I know he was very bad for my family, I don’t miss HIM, I don’t miss the anxiety and stress he brought. I don’t miss the constant trying to ‘square the circle’ and trying to make him understand why I was upset. I don’t miss anything about him really. He wasn’t a support in the day to day running of the house, he wasn’t a  support with the kids, his inertia and inability to organise himself to get stuff done was really frustrating…

I know that I need to cut all contact. I know this is the only way I will be able to heal, to move on with my life.

My therapist commented that this break up was probably not the worst thing I had been through in my life – but I disagreed, I feel like it is,  (even if It should not be) Even allowing for the drama of the here-and-now, this separation is more deeply painful that I remember my marriage breakdown being.

It took me a few moments to work out why.

It’s definitely partially because my children have been affected – The years of my eldest sons life between 15 and 17 were blighted by ExP’s attitude to him. Son#1 and I were not as close as we should have been, and I didn’t support him as well as I could have done. I can’t have that time back and there have been things done and said that will have a lasting effect. Its very hard  for me to  look at this straight on, accept it and try to forgive myself for this.

But more than that I feel like there is nowhere to hide from the mistakes I made. In the past I have been able to ‘blur the edges’ of my own willful, selfish and impulsive decision making. Kind of brushed off the consequences as they have primarily not fallen on others – only  I have been hurt. This time I can’t do that because a) others are most definitely hurt, b) things have been damaged that cannot be repaired and c) I am very very sober and looking at things through a very different lens. I’m comparing my behaviour with what it ought to have been (quote Marianne Dashwood, who was impulsive, emotional and stupid romantic)

I think one reason why I’m struggling to move on, is that closing the door and cutting all contact means there will be no redemption. This whole sorry relationship will stay, like  a stain, without resolution. The scars will remain and I will never be able to say (or think) well it was really difficult but it was ‘worth it in the end’.

Because it wasn’t. And if I had been more circumspect, more cautious, MORE GROWN UP, I would never have got involved in the first place and never hurt those I love. Never have allowed him to damage my children, never have allowed my attention to be diverted from my role as a mother.

I think maybe it’s so hard to finally let go because that means Facing my own culpability, with no excuses and no apology. Accepting that I was just WRONG.And that I have to live with that. Live with the uncomfortable feelings that brings up. Live knowing I could and should have done better. That I was weak and foolish and allowed him to bully son #1 when I should have stood up for my child.

And there is no way around that. 





Most of THE STUFF is gone.

Most. Not ALL.

He came on Saturday, with a friend and a transit van. The packed up clothes and prints and generalized stuff. Cinema seats, old chairs, piles and piles of books. They loaded the transit van and ExP’s car, They ran out of space on the vehicles. The tools in the shed, several boxes and two suitcases of clothes are still here.


He asked it he could walk the dog with me sometimes, if we could be friends, if we could see each other occasionally. He said I was ‘right about most things’; that he was sorry he had ‘let me down’, that he didn’t want there to be animosity between us.

It was straightforward in one way; no shouting, no emotional scenes, no being unkind. But it was exhausting. emotionally Confusing and painful.

Trying to unpick that is hard.

I honestly and genuinely know that this relationship was wrong and that this man is not right for me. he made me desperately unhappy and I cannot go back. I don’t want to go back. But for a LONG time I thought he was everything I wanted, I literally adored him and would have done (did do) anything for him. Its hard to watch that person sitting in front of you and be split – one half feels nothing nice and just wants to move on, the other half is filled with regret and sadness and wants nothing more than to be hugged and held close and told that its all ok …

The ‘sorry’ split me too.. It made me feel angry (that he can NOW say sorry for several years of really shitty behaviour), it made me feel cynical (why is he saying sorry NOW for several years of really shitty behaviour) it made me feel slightly vindicated (even YOU can see that your behavior was really shitty) It made me sad ( because the damage is done and can not be undone).

That fragile tape stuck round the boxes felt like it should have been round me.

On Sunday I woke with flu like symptoms, a headache, myalgia and sore throat. I went for a walk with K and the dog – then I crawled back to bed…. later yesterday I was on the receiving end of a barrage of shouting and rage from Son#2 telling me that he is ANGRY with me for allowing ExP to ‘stay so long’ because “Him being here has ruined son#1’s life”

This is the subject of another blog post. It hit a very raw nerve though.

So I crawled back into bed and today is another day. 318th day without alcohol. I was hoping for more from this weekend. I wanted closure. Its closer but I am not there yet …


what WOULD i want

In the wee small hours of the morning, when I’m lying awake my thoughts sometimes turn to what I would want in a partner, should I ever be brave enough to date again. In my therapy session yesterday it came up that I feel very upset that I do not have a successful relationship history. If one measures success in life by a successful intimate relationship than I have not succeeded. I think in part I do measure my  “worth” in this way, so the good job, friendships, kids, professional success somehow measures up to being of ‘less value’ than a longstanding happy relationship.

Given that I am quite a driven person, I guess its natural that I should think about how to go about getting what I feel would make me happy. I’m not ready yet, and may not be for some time, but I do wonder what it would be like to build a relationship without the lubricant of alcohol, whether all that I have experienced has ultimately made me a better judge of character ? whether I could reign in my impulsive streak and learn to think with my head when it comes to choosing a partner (all be it that there has to be a spark of attraction as well)

So what would I want ? What’s important to me? What do I NEED?  here’s what I’m thinking at the moment …I’m intending to look back at this in 6 months and see if its changed !

I would like to meet a man who is independent, has his own life. I don’t want or need anyone living with me and the children; somebody reasonably geographically close – I don’t have much time to be travelling far. I’d like someone at the same ‘life stage’ as me – i.e. no pre-school children, and probably not already retired… I don’t have a problem with a moderate drinker, but I don’t think I could cope with a heavy drinker. Drug use of any kind  is a complete no, as is any other active addiction (gambling etc)

so far so straightforward

I’m far from perfect. I’m messy, for one, and there are lots of other faults I have, some significant some not, but I’m wouldn’t be looking for a Mr Perfect, rather  someone right  for if I had to list my top character attributes …  non negotiable, they would be…

Kindness – kindness, to people you know and those you don’t (bus drivers, the woman on the street, a sales assistant) is absolutely critical. Unkind people can turn and be unkind to you …Kindness indicates (to me) a basic respect for others and a person that can treat others as they would like to be treated. Critical. I’m kind, and I need this in a partner.

Integrity by which I mean more than basic honesty. I mean a moral code that includes working hard, not taking advantage of others: Having a set of intrinsic internal belief structures that include telling the truth even if its uncomfortable … The older I get the more I realise how important trust is to me, and respect, I can’t respect a man without integrity.

Solvency this is less a characteristic than the result of one. I don’t expect to be ‘provided for’, but I don’t expect to have to provide for another adult. Equally, as an adult who has worked hard all her life, I don’t want a partner who has ‘nothing’ For me lack of fiscal responsibility is (now) deeply unattractive ! the ‘struggling artist’ holds no appeal whatsoever, as too often its an excuse to live off someone else…

I hope, that if I am ever in the position where I meet someone again, I can hold fast to these thoughts and not let my heart overrule my head as it has done so often. It takes time to get to know someone, and by the time I have got to know that someone does not meet these standards I don’t want to be so involved that its hard to walk away. I will look at ACTIONS , not listen to their words… the old adage is just SO true. ExP kept telling me how upset he was NOT to be working … but his actions did not support that statement …

Caution, patience and reserve; trust in my gut instinct. self belief, self confidence… that’s what I need before I even THINK about dating again…




Cross addiction

I’ve become very aware of the issues of cross addiction this week.

A patient, who I previously supported through an alcohol detox, has relapsed –  not by drinking but with harmful use of drugs. Just like with alcohol , the use has escalated, is out of control and is causing serious issues in their life. Just like with alcohol, the drug use is secretive, destructive and so damaging.

i am very aware that my food / body image issues are part of a cross addiction syndrome. I have lost 21lbs since the Summer, I look less dumpy and feel more attractive (no idea why this matters to me at the moment but it really does) but the addiction part is more than that. It’s about control, I can’t control the emotions I’m experiencing; sitting with them is frustrating, painful and I feel I am making little progress. But I can control what I eat. I can distract myself from insoluble emotional distress by punishing my physical self… starvation comes with its own endorphin high, and the added kick of fitting into clothes a size or two smaller, of people telling me I look “great” , of being complimented on my weight loss… it’s heady stuff. This is not new, I’ve struggled on and off with eating / body image issues all my life. Right now it’s very hard for me to eat a complete meal, to sit down with the kids and eat, or to eat much at all. It’s “just about” 0k at the moment- I’m eating enough and my weight is stable at the moment… but it’s a bit precarious…

Cross-addiction (swapping one addiction for another) is the leading cause of relapse in recovering individuals.  Essentially  a person recovering from alcoholism needs to be vigilant and avoid the use of anything habit-forming, avoid excesses in all things … including taking other types of habit-forming drugs, dieting, eating, gambling, exercising, excessive working …..I think this is why it’s said that giving up alcohol is actually only the start – and in reality it’s possibly the easiest part …

i didn’t really understand that before – well I did intellectually- but now I understand it viscerally and emotionally. All that drinking was covering something up, it served a purpose for me (as well as being horribly destructive) and whatever-that-was is still there … and still hard to deal with.

From my research / reading , the concept of  cross-Addiction is best explained this way: once a person has been addicted to a substance, they have lost the ability to have a casual relationship with any other addictive substances, or behaviours. In other words, a person who is addicted to one substance is really addicted to ALL substances, even if they have never used them. Abstinence from all mood-altering, mind-altering substances (and addictive behaviors) is the way to prevent a relapse into addiction. It’s probably due to the addicts propensity to avoid “sitting with” painful feelings, and the urge to blot them out with ANYTHING is extremely powerful… and it’s a work in progress for many of us… probably this is why addicts are always ‘in recovery’ not recovered.

It all comes back to “balance”

and I have a LONG way to go …


Today I had a consultation with someone I have previously mentioned in my blog, here

The person concerned is very ill physically. Huge swollen belly, jaundiced, stick thin apart from swollen abdomen.This is end stage alcoholic liver disease

The child protection proceedings continue.

They are slow, but inexorable. The parent has been unable to stop drinking, they have not engaged with the local alcohol support services. They remain in denial, telling everyone that they are ‘sober’ or drinking only a glass of wine a day. This persists, even when it is clear to professionals that the individual is intoxicated in meetings.

They refuse to see that there is an adverse effect on their child from being forced to live with an active alcoholic.

The family home is now for sale. If the home is not sold in a ‘reasonable time frame’ the social services will go to Court and seek an order that prevents this person from living in their home. They may remove the child since the other parent is also in denial and colluding.

The consultation was very blunt. They do not see that ALL of their misfortune; arrest, inpatient stay in a psychiatric ward, children’s social service involvement, being forced to sell the family home, being in intensive care, not allowed to spend anytime with your own child unsupervised etc etc – ALL due to alcohol. Still they will do nothing to alter the situation. …

I explained, bluntly, that it may seem as if SS have ‘backed off’ but its temporary. And they will not go away. They will ensure that the child does not continue to live with an actively alcoholic parent. Nothing will change.

Denial is a desperately powerful thing.

It’s amazing how we forget. And not in a good way. Here is an extract form a journal entry I wrote back in April 2013 after I got drunk at a family lunch that ExP  and I hosted. I don’t remember much of the later afternoon, as I was drinking from mid-day and cooking…I went to bed at about 7 – before my children – drunk – and woke at about 2 am sweating, sick and head-achy. This is what I wrote

“Sweating, Anxious, barely slept. Strong suicidal thoughts, imagining hanging myself, intrusive, persistent thoughts. desperately ashamed, amnesia, what did I do, say ? alone, isolated, twisting like a fish on a hook. fear fear fear. and stuck.”

I stopped drinking for 3 days after that. THREE days. I honestly wanted to kill myself because I was so ashamed, but THREE days later I was drinking again .

Denial is a desperately powerful thing

I don’t judge my patient above. That could have been me. I remember how difficult it was to think of a life without drinking, and I and so thankful that I had the strength and conviction to just do it anyway, and trust that it would be ok… I’m lucky; my patent is still mired in the gutter due to alcoholism .. what a bloody waste

Denial …


Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destablise and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the target, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.

The term originates in the systematic psychological manipulation by the main character of a victim in the 1938 stage play Gas Light known as Angel Street in the United States. In the story, a husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting that she is mistaken, remembering things incorrectly, or delusional when she points out these changes. The original title stems from the dimming of the gas lights in the house (by the husband) that  when he was in the attic searching for hidden treasure. The wife correctly notices the dimming lights and discusses the phenomenon, but the husband insists she just imagined a change in the level of illumination.

A rather disturbing thought has taken root in my conscious mind, fleetingly at first around Christmas time, and increasingly strongly since then.

I recognize that ExP did this to me.

Not very often, but in order to block me from discussing thing, he would simply deny that he had said things/ or that I had said things / or that certain things had happened. I KNEW that they had, but he would completely deny it.

I did indeed, at times, think I was going mad. For example, some years ago he was invited to a weekend party on the Isle of Wight. I was not able to go, and said that I had no problem with him going, but I wasn’t happy to buy his ticket for the ferry. I am absolutely 100% sure that I said this, to him. He bought a ferry ticket on my card anyway. When I challenged this he flatly denied that I had said any such thing. There are other examples.

I can’t explain why I’m finding it hard to accept this. FWIW I don’t think he was deliberately trying to make me think I was mad, rather that he did exactly what he wanted to, and lied to me to change the ‘facts’ afterwards so that he didn’t look ‘bad’. This further example of lack of openness. honesty and true partnership  shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but somehow it still is. ExP is a master of obfuscation, very talented at not revealing too much. Understanding this has helped me NOT blame myself so much for becoming involved with him… It actually took many months for it to become clear that he had NO income at all….because he did not disclose this, but rather had excuses and reasons for all the things I had noticed about his lack of cash …

This lack of integrity, which has huge and wide ranging manifestations, is something I simply can’t accept. Its completely alien to me. I expect that, underneath, one of the reasons ExP had SUCH an issue with Son#1’s history of dishonesty, is because deep down he seems himself in this behaviour. We often have extreme reactions of revulsion to traits in others that we dislike in ourselves …the more I reflect on ExP’s actions (not his words but his ACTIONS) the more I realise that he is very much less than the paragon of honesty and truthfulness he pretends to be.

Confusing times.

He will be collecting all his possessions from my house on January 21st. THEN it will be truly over.


This quote, from Mahatma Gandhi, struck me as particularly apt at this present time. Somehow I have come to the place when I am reviewing the value of my “feelings” and the impact that they, perhaps as opposed to my thoughts, bring to my life.

I have always ‘felt’ things very intensely. This has been both a blessing and a curse. At times, the passion that I have felt has driven me to achieve things I might have thought I could not; my intense need to ‘sort something out’ has benefited my patients on more than one occasion and my drive to find a solution to some intractable problem or other has served me well.

On the other hand, at least in my personal life i have not listened enough to that small voice saying ‘hang on, is this  a good idea?’

When I got married, barely a year after I had met my husband-to-be, there was a small voice telling me that I should not do this. I ignored it. Through therapy I have come to understand a little more about why I ignored it, to recognise the strong internal drivers that led me to that position, and to forgive myself at least partially for the decision.

The ‘ignoring’ of the internal voice has / had become the norm for me; in part I think I drank too much to manage the persistent anxiety that was caused by behaving in a way which ran contrary to what I knew was right (for me) Right now, I am living in a way which is true to my thoughts. I’m not acting in any way that makes me feel deep down uncomfortable. Its much more restful, though my intention to live according to my thoughts rather than my feelings has not been significantly tested up to now.

So, looking at Gandhi’s comment… There is no mention of your ‘feelings’ in there. Rather an emphasis on beliefs as the starting point… which, in general, are formed after some thought; are based on solidity; are perhaps less transient?


Maybe this is the key? Hold on to beliefs, opinions that have been formed after thought, internal interrogation., informed debate… and try to observe feelings as an impartial onlooker… noting them, but not responding..

doe any of this make sense? I love some parts of my ‘new life’; I love feeling harmonious INSIDE, but I’m aware that my emotions are sparked by the littlest thing, and the strength of them is a little frightening …

A pearl

To me anyway ..

I read this on the great website of feminist ne wisdom that is Mumsnet. I can’t find where so I apologise to the original author whom I am unable to credit.

I’m the middle of (another) thread in which a woman is desperately upset by the appalling actions of her partner, but seems unable to leave because she “loves him”, a poster wrote 

“It doesn’t matter what your feeling are, your feelings will catch up with the rest of you. What you have to decide is, is there any realistic prospect that I and this person can have a fulfilling relationship that meets my needs ” 

And if the answer s no, for whatever reason, you need to end it. And break contact, and eventually you won’t love him anymore. 

For some reason, this extremely simple truth has rung a HUGE bell for me…

I’ve written about 8 posts this week, and not published them.

 Something is shifting again in my head. I think it’s progress but I’m a bit apprehensive… 

lily 🌷xx 

My puppy Jasper is above, for no other reason than I love him ❤️

The limbic system

Emotions impact our thinking more than our thinking impacts our emotions.

Think about that for a moment. (Ha ha) think about the last time you were really scared, or really angry… what happened to your “thinking” brain? And then reverse it, and remember the last time you tried to persuade yourself you were NOT angry, or worried – how you tried to reason away the emotions you were feeling … how effective was that ?

Our brain is a very complex structure, that has evolved over time. We share some of the most primitive structures in the base of the brain (the brain stem) with reptiles … as you might expect, on the evolutionary scale, the most basic parts of the brain control the most basic functions – temperature regulation, heartbeat, breathing etc. Next up, in a basic sort of way is the cerebellum that manages movement and other homeostatic functions. Then we have the  mid brain,and part of this mid brain, (higher up the evolutionary tree than the cerebellum, but not as high as the frontal cortex)- is the limbic system which is where emotions are regulated, what modulates motivation, drive, love and other emotions. Humans have an enormous frontal cortex,  that most animals don’t, and this recent evolutionary addition enables us to “THINK”….

It makes sense that the majority of information passing though neural pathways is ‘upwards’ rather than down, and in simple terms this is why the more primitive emotional brain has a greater impact on the thinking part of brain than vice versa.

Our limbic system, which is where we experience and process emotion, actually sends more inputs to the thinking part of our brain, i.e. the cortex, than the opposite.

So, to refer to my earlier post (last week) with respect to managing / attaining emotional sobriety. It seems to me as though part of this is about learning to put one’s thinking brain, (that we are gifted with, that is a much later addition in terms of evolutionary development) ahead of one’s emotions. Of standing outside the emotional response to situations and instead analysing them with your thinking brain. acting how THOUGHTS not emotions dictate.

I think Im getting there, but it does sometimes feel like two steps forward , and one step back


Emotional sobriety, a thought for the New Year.

Emotional sobriety is a term that describes the more complex transformation a recovering addict makes beyond attaining physical sobriety. I have been sober for 295 whole days; though holidays, birthdays, Christmas, New Year. Physically sober. And that’s been good, I see andlive a more peaceful life. But, I’m still struggling to manage my emotions, frustrations and stress. This is not the nirvana I had been hoping for… I think the reason is that I have not yet achieved emotional 

As a defense mechanism, every human being is susceptible to an unconscious drive to protect themselves from painful realities.3 The difference between the general population and addicts is that the latter are very good at ignoring their feelings by masking them with drugs or alcohol. Being emotionally sober means getting in touch with your emotions, whether positive or negative, and allowing yourself to feel the
What are the Signs of Emotional Sobriety? 

• Ability to regulate strong emotions • Ability to regulate mood • Ability to maintain a perspective on life circumstances. • Ability to regulate potentially harmful substances or behaviors • Ability to live in the present • Ability to regulate activity levels.
• Ability to live with deep, intimate connection.
• Resilience, the ability to roll with the punches
• Ability to regulate behavior
What are Symptoms of a lack of emotional sobriety?
• Inability to regulate strong feelings such as anger, rage, anxiety, sadness
• Lack of ability to regulate mood
• Lack of ability to regulate behavior
• Not being able to gain a perspective on feelings when they are extreme
• Lack of ability to regulate self medicating use of substances or behaviors.
• Inability to live in the present, preoccupies with past unresolved wounds.
• Lack of ability to regulate activity level. (chronically over or under active)
• Inability to have deeply feeling intimate relationships.
• Lack of resilience or the ability to roll with the punches
What are the Solutions: How Can I Come Into Balance?
• Resolve early childhood wounds
• Learn techniques of self soothing and make them a part of your life
• Develop a strong relationship network
• Maintain a healthy body, exercise, rest, nutrition, sensual pleasure
• Find meaningful activities, work, hobbies, and passions
• Process emotional ups and downs as they happen
• Develop inner resources, quiet, meditation, spiritual pursuits
What is Emotional Sobriety?
• Emotional sobriety is about finding and maintaining our emotional equilibrium, our feeling rheostat.
• Emotional sobriety is tied up in our ability to self regulate . To bring ourselves into balance when we fall out of it.
• Balance is that place where our thinking, feeling and behavior are reasonably congruent; where we operate in an integrated flow.
• When our emotions are out of control, so is our thinking.
• When we can’t bring our feeling and thinking into some sort of balance, our life and our relationships show it.
• Emotions impact our thinking more than our thinking impacts our emotions. Our limbic system, which is where we experience and process emotion, actually sends more inputs to the thinking part of our brain, i.e. the cortex, than the opposite. (Damassio)
• The essence of Emotional Sobriety is good self regulation. Self regulation means that we have mastered those skills that allow us to balance our moods, our nervous systems, our appetites, our sexual drive, our sleep. We have learned how to tolerate our intense emotions without acting out in dysfunctional ways, clamping down or foreclosing on our feeling world or self medicating.
• Addiction and compulsive, unregulated behaviors reflect a lack of good self regulation.
• To maintain our emotional equilibrium, we need to be able to use our thinking mind to decode and understand our feeling mind. That is, we need to feel our feelings and then use our thinking to make sense and meaning out of them.
How Do We Learn to Self Regulate?
• Nature and Nurture: Each tiny interaction between parent/caretaker and child actually lays down the neural wiring that becomes part of our brain/body network.
• As the parent interacts with the child, the child learns the skills of relating and regulation which are then laid down as neural wiring.
• The child takes this new learning into his world of relationships, experiments with it, gets continued feedback and continues to lay down new wiring based on what he is seamlessly picking up from his environment and the relationships in it.
• Early experiences knit long lasting patterns into the very fabric of the brain’s neural network. (Lewis) And these neural patterns form the relational template from which we operate throughout life.
• As children, if we get frightened or hurt, for example, we look to our mothers, fathers and close people to sooth us, to help us to feel better, to bring us back into balance.
• We learn to “tolerate” our intense feelings when we’re young and as we get older, “holding environment”
• When our skills of self regulation are well learned during childhood, they feel as if they come naturally, as if we always had them.
• When they are not well learned, we may reach to sources outside of ourselves to restore the sense of calm and good feeling that we cannot achieve ourselves, namely drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling and so on.
• The ACOA/ACOT syndrome can reflect problems with early attachments or relationships. Children who learn the skills of relating and regulation from unstable parents internalize unstable patterns.
What is the Limbic System?
The limbic system is the body/mind neural network that governs our emotions. Our moods, appetite and sleep cycles are some of the areas of functioning that fall under its jurisdiction.

The limbic system
• “sets the mind’s emotional tone,
• filters external events through internal states (creates emotional coloring),
• tags events as internally important,
• stores highly charged emotional memories,
• modulates motivation,
• controls appetite and sleep cycles,
• promotes bonding
• directly processes the sense of smell and modulates libido. (Amen)
Our emotions circulate throughout our bodies as brain/body mood chemicals that impact how we feel.
Problems in our limbic system may manifest as:
• When we have problems in our deep limbic system they can manifest as moodiness, irritability,
• clinical depression,
• increased negative thinking,
• negative perceptions of events,
• decreased motivation,
• floods of negative emotion,
• appetite and sleep problems,
• decreased or increase d sexual responsiveness or social isolation. (Amen)
• an impaired ability to regulate levels of fear, anger and sadness,and may lead to chronic anxiety or depression.
• substance or behavioral disorders,
• problems in regulating alcohol, eating, sexual or spending habits
All of this is what impacts our emotional sobriety.

How is emotional sobriety undermined?
Emotional trauma can have a negative impact on early development. It can both interfere with our ability to use our thinking brains to decode our emotions and it can create problems in our limbic systems. Our limbic systems get set on “high” we are over sensitized to stress and hence, we over react to it.
Our bodies don’t really distinguish between physical danger and emotional stress.
The natural fear response associated with our fight/flight apparatus will cause the body to react to physical or emotional “crisis,” by pumping out sufficient quantities of what are known as “stress” chemicals, like adrenaline, to get our hearts pumping, muscles tightening and breath shortening, in preparation for a fast exit, or a fight.
But for those where the family itself has become the preverbal “saber toothed tiger”, for whom escape is not really the issue, these chemicals boil up inside and can cause physical and emotional problems. And family members may find themselves in a confusing and painful bind, ie.,wanting to flee from or attack, those very people who represent home and hearth.If this highly stressful relational environment persists over time, it can produce what is called cumulative trauma .
Because the limbic system governs such fundamental functions as mood, emotional tone, appetite and sleep cycles, when it becomes deregulated it can affect family members in far ranging ways.
Problems in regulating our emotional inner world, can manifest as:
Homes that aren’t calm, that are in, what we might, call chronic chaos, undermine our body’s ability to maintain a regulated state. Over time, we lose the ability to tolerate intense emotion so that we can think about what we’re experiencing on a feeling level. At the most extreme level thought and emotion become disengaged. When this happens, our thinking selves and our feeling selves become out of balance, split off from each other. This undermines our ability to use our thinking to understand what we’re experiencing on a feeling and sensory level. At the most basic level, we lose touch with ourselves.