Busy

I’ve been on annual leave this week and very busy with a combination of settling the puppy back home ( he is transformed in all the best possible ways) working with him and Lola to reinforce that training , cleaning out junk from the house and sorting things out.

I’m physically exhausted. We have CLEANED the boys den – untold sacks of rubbish there, cleaned out the cellar , reboxed stuff to keep and disposed of the rest. I have cleared out the eaves of the house , again retaining what I need / want to keep – providing space for ‘things’ that don’t need to be out but hadn’t a ‘home’ away somewhere. I have reorganised my bedroom – removing every trace of my ex partner- and orders new bed linen and a new mattress so it really feels like mine again. I have done 3 runs to the dump with ‘stuff’ that domestic waste collectors won’t take , got a new bed assembled in son 1’s room (thanks to my brother who lent it to me) and generally organised my life. 

Mentally I feel Good. Clean sweep. Sorted all the tools ex P left (they are mine now) and put them away. 

Have spent some time with sons 2 & 3 – and generally maximised my awake time … 

I also attended the funeral of a 19 year old boy- the awful pointless waste of his potential and the suffering etched on the faces of his family – I have no words for this. I went because I was asked, to pay my respects and to demonstrate by my presence that though I can do nothing to alleviate their pain, I acknowledge it. It was unspeakably dreadfully sad, but I had to go and I’m glad I did. 

I could never have achieved this much if I had been drinking . Never have cleared cleaned and sorted with demonic energy, never have found words – or no words / to onbey my heartfelt empathy to the bereaved parents. I wold have had to have been at least a bit drunk to face the raw emotion in that church , and worse the extreme vulnerability of the young mans parents.

I did a better job sober, all round , a much better job. 

cognitive dissonance

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort  (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values. I describe it more as doing or not doing something that YOU believe to be wrong. It can be a small wrong, like eating chocolate when you have given it up for Lent; or big wrongs like living with a man who you believe is damaging your children.

The occurrence of cognitive dissonance is a consequence of a person’s performing / accepting an action that contradicts personal beliefs, ideals, and values; and can also occur when confronted with new information that contradicts said beliefs, ideals, and values.

The above is partially lifted from Wikipedia (with my own inserts.)

I’m writing this post because the Absence of cognitive dissonance in my life now is one of the most positive aspects of my sobriety and of my separation from my ex partner.

I have lived with the psychological stress of this for 16 1/2 years. Sometimes I think its no wonder I drank.

But my drinking cause untold stress and cognitive dissonance too. because I KNEW I was not a ‘normal’ drinker I worried about it constantly. The mismatch between what I believed – drinking excessively is bad for your health, bad for your kids and just bad. was totally mismatched  with the bottle of New Zealand Sav blanc that I drank every night, or the pissed person I was at the weekend.

My ex husband used drugs. When I met him, it was no big deal.  He didn’t drink, but had a spliff in the evening. My son no1 was 18 months old, so asleep in the evenings when ex H came round and not exposed to it. I’ve never really bothered with cannabis (thank God) but I had no real problem with this. Lots of his friends had the odd spliff too. We were in our mid 30’s ; It didn’t seem so weird. Or wrong,

Fast forward five years. By now we have three young children and he is smoking weed morning noon and night, and in front of the kids, and most of his friends (all of the ones with children) had stopped using weed because they realised it was a bad influence on the kids. Cognitive dissonance , being forced to live with something you feel deeeply uncomfortable about. That was easier in a way, everyone knew he took drugs, and everyone had seen his aggression to the kids in one form or another … so I had support from the beginning.

Same feeling, different issues, with ex partner. On the one hand “love” or at least “perceived love /need” and on the other “I’m afraid of your temper, I’m afraid of your anger, I don’t think you treat my kids right, etc”

Again my solution was to hide from those feelings in a bottle of wine. I was not the perpetrator of emotional abuse of my children, but I sat by, with my bottle, and Let it happen….

Dissonance increases with:

  • The importance of the subject to us.
  • How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
  • Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.

Dissonance is often particularly strong when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief.  E.g. I believe it is very important to me to be “the best mother that I can”  but then I allow my partner to live with my children and treat them in a way that I think is wrong – then the discomfort I feel as a result is cognitive dissonance. Very strong and very uncomfortable cognitive dissonance.

On the positive side Cognitive dissonance a very powerful motivator which will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting beliefs or actions. This reflects how I felt about my ex partner – torn between supporting him or supporting my children. (And sometimes son #1 did things that were so wrong it was impossible to disagree with ExP’s evaluation of his character) hence more dissonance . The discomfort felt like a massive internal tension between the two opposing thoughts. Something I could NEVER talk of, never reveal, try not even to THINK about, and so of course never resolve.

To release the tension we can take one of three actions:

  • Change our behaviour
  • Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
  • Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.

Dissonance is seen to be most powerful when it is affects our self-image. Feelings of shame, immorality, affecting my self image as a mother …. are dissonance in action. And it was so strong it drove me to the edge of my “sanity”. I can see this now, but I could not then. In April 2013, when I was really Mentally unwell with intrusive suicidal thoughts, it was because I was sober – and therefore could no longer ignore the feelings of dissonance (the issue at that time was between ExP and son1 – he didn’t start picking on son 2 till a bit later) – and I could not

  • change any other persons behaviour
  • justify either persons behaviour
  • add new cognitions to justify either persons behaviour

So I was stuck: being stuck , seeing it, and seeing no way out – I just dissolved myself.

I did not see the psychological dissonance clearly, and I did not / could not dissect it as clearly as I have above.  Although I saw the option of splitting with ExP , I could not imagine actually doing it. I don’t know why, I could say I loved him, but that would not really be the truth (I HAD loved him certainly, but actually I quite disliked him by then) I think it’s closer to the truth to say I believed I needed him…. and I thought he would still turn back into the lovely man he had been when we first met  if only I could solve ‘this problem” (son1). I considered trying to send son 1 to boarding school, I considered lots of options, but none were possible. Above all I could not change any one else’s behaviour, how ever hard I tried.

Looking back, I’m not surprised at all that I broke. In fact I’m astonished I managed for as long as I did. And of course getting “well” again involved medication, rest, and burying my head in the sand bottle again….

Dissonance increases with the importance and impact of the situation / decision along with the difficulty of reversing it. Discomfort about making the wrong choice of car is bigger than when choosing a meal from a menu… e.g.: I want x car but it’s more than I wanted to spend … if you buy it, you will experience dissonance, but will probably change your beliefs to justify it .. e.g. Well I can just cut back on coffees out etc , I can manage that, it’s worth it etc …

I wonder how I changed my beliefs to accommodate the horrors in my home ? Or how I tried to change them..? Or why I did that? Why I allowed myself to carry all that burden without unloading it anywhere.

i will need to think more about this. One thing I do know, the absence of dissonance right now is a massive, enormous relief and I will never go back to it again.

 

How very far I have come

Its is now 12 months almost to the day since I ended my relationship

I have come a LONG way since then

Back then it was a huge burst of frustration and anger: the culmination of several years of unhappiness, increasing frustration, and inability to communicate that drove me to change to lock on my front door and call time on what I had hoped/ believed would be my relationship for life. I knew it was right, a bit like stopping drinking, but It had been very hard to do.

I surprised almost everyone with that decision. Even my closest friend K, who had listened and held my frustration and anxiety over the destructive elements at home had not expected me to be so abrupt and determined; I think my brother (perhaps) was the only one who was less surprised. He knew, to some extent, all was not well and he knows that I can be pushed a LONG way, but that eventually I will snap.

Back then, I was so sad about it. Back then I thought I had a loving partner who although he had some problems with my children; problems with his business / earning a living; problems with his relations with his own children; was basically a lovely man who I just couldn’t get through to.

I see him very differently now. Now I see what others saw. I see what K saw, my brother saw, and bless them for their diplomacy in not ever trying to force me to see what I could not, until I was ready.

Now I see a bullying, insecure man who at least borders on narcissism. I see a man with delusions of grandeur and arrogance that mean that he listens to NO ONE, talks a LOT about respect and integrity but has none himself. Now I see a man who probably had such an issue with my eldest son because he saw reflected back at him some of his most deeply unattractive traits. I see a man who had so little regard for me, that despite the fact I had 100% financially supported him for 5 years, refused to even TRY and support himself financially when I struggled to service the debt I had incurred by taking on HIS responsibilities. I see a critical, unkind, self absorbed person, unwilling (or unable) to compromise on anything, and I shudder.

The best decision I made in the immediate aftermath of the split was to find a therapist I could work with. I saw one, who I am sure was perfectly competent, but I felt no empathy. Then I saw Angela, my current therapist and knew that here was someone who could ‘cope with’ me (Because I recognise that I’m not the most straightforward, with my alcohol addiction, eating disorder, propensity to attract men who are damaged / damaging) – but ‘cope with’ me in a kind and supportive way. I knew I needed this support and space to be honest, to be able to hold on to the decision I had made.

In retrospect I can’t believe I was only about 24 weeks sober when I did this. Of course I was committed to being sober, and of course I had negotiated the very hard early days.. but 24 weeks ?? That seems very early in sobriety to me now, to make such a big change to my life and expect me to see it through. Reflecting on it, I’m proud of myself that I did it, and prouder that I a) stuck to it and b) stayed sober.

For several months I struggled with the decision, I ‘knew’ in my heart it was right (at least for the children) but struggled to recognise or accept that I too had been badly treated, that I deserved better. With patience, lots of conversations, reflective discussions, and time –  I came to see exactly that. That he treated me very badly – the emotional abuse he dished out was not confined to my children ( not by  along chalk); that expecting to be ‘fully funded’ by another adult rather than pulling your own financial weight is a form of abuse in itself (if not a negotiated and shared decision between a couple), I tried ‘seeing’ him a bit in the early part of this year –  coffee here and there, the odd day out / walk with the dog. One part of me enjoyed this, but there remained a part of me that felt uncomfortable; and eventually at LAST I recognised that there were things done (or actually not done) that I could not forgive. More than that, it was ok that I could not forgive them. That I had a right to my own boundaries and he had crossed them, I had a right to say ‘no’ that is not acceptable TO ME.

Oh yes, I have come a LONG way. And this shows in many other aspects of my life. I dont always find it easy, but I’m learning to set my boundaries with my kids, my mother, and my work colleagues. Im learning (about 30 years late) that it is healthy to respect yourself, your time, your person, your beliefs.

Angela said to me, early in my therapy with her that she had heard a good expression, that when you are psychologically ‘well’ with good boundaries and a healthy self respect ‘What is not good for you wont LOOK good to you’. All through the Winter and Spring I wondered why ExP still ‘looked good’ to me… it was because I was focussing on his negative features with respect to my children, not with respect to ME …. once I “got” the latter – he no longer looks ‘good’ to me in any way, shape or form.

 

Life is immeasurably better now. I have learned to be more open with  people close to me, and to ask for help when I need it. I have been on a couple of dates, and decided I can’t be bothered at the moment! My kids are happier, my home is calmer, I am restarting painting classes next Month. I will continue with my therapy – I don’t know how long for, but you don’t correct the poor self esteem from many years in a short year… I will stay sober and I will build myself, am building myself, a contented, safe, peaceful home.

I do, actually genuinely feel proud of myself for achieving this. HE said I would never cope without him… well I have, I am and I will continue to do so.

bleeding eyes

Not any more……

 

 

Settling / passing / calming….

The last few days gave been hard. This evening I see my therapist and I will try to pick this apart a bit more. Can I find a trigger ? Why are the mood swings still SO extreme ? That kind of stuff…

Today I am much calmer. Thank goodness.

I can think of a couple of reasons for this: but like the ‘reasons’ for irritability and ‘poor mood’ earlier this week , they are very ‘external’…. I’ll come back to this.

First, because it helps me, the calming things:

  • Son 1 made an unexpected call home on Monday evening, all the participants were allowed a call home, and it was wonderful to hear him and how positive he sounded. He said there had been ‘down days’ when he felt homesick, but that he was really enjoying the experience, loved Scotland, loved the wilderness and was finding the therapists helpful. Reflecting on that call has deeply calmed me; a feeling that despite the uncertainty, his initial reluctance, the cost, my gut instinct about what was right for my son seems to have been correct. And that he (has already) and will gain a lot from the experience.
  • I have mentioned a few times that I damaged my right hip during one of the several falls I had from my bike whilst training for an intended charity bike ride. Since November I have had daily pain in my right hip. Not life threatening, not life limiting, but annoying, persistent and at times tiring. My exercise capacity has been significantly limited, I could neither run nor cycle and had to take regular analgesia before walking the dogs. I’ve been through the process of investigation and yesterday saw my Consultant again for the final scan results. The good news was that the hip joint itself has only some extra fluid ( caused by inflammation) and that the problems are /were inflammation in some tendons inserting into the top of the femur and an inflamed bursa. My consultant offered to inject these areas for me with some steroid and lidocaine. I accepted immediately and he did so there and then. This morning I am pain free. I can’t quite believe it, but I can walk without it hurting, even up and down the stairs: like I said, it was not ALWAYS bad, and I was aware it was not “serious” , but it was annoying and it seems to have gone… 😀😀😀😀😀
  • A had a quick 90 mins meet with a friend last night. She lives in France, so we don’t see one another often, but she was over for a few days and came down to see me. She had no idea I had stopped drinking ( had only realised at lunch on Saturday) and asked me about it yesterday. When I said it was almost 18 months since I had taken an alcoholic drink, she was amazed! She also said that In France, many people don’t drink, that it’s a much more socially normal position, and in that simple acceptance, kind of helped me “normalise” my decision. It didn’t feel so weird any longer, she didn’t ask “why” , or if I intended to drink in the future , just accepted it …
  • Tonight my youngest comes home, tomorrow we go to collect the puppy from his training ( he’s almost 1 now) and next week I’m on holiday.

I do feel better, this is undeniable. The horrid twisting anxiety has settled, life feels ” manageable” again; but it concerns me that I am evidently pretty volatile. On the positive side it has been some time since my mood has been quite so low and the alcohol absence quite so hard; but it worries me that there still seems little “internal” stability. That how I am depends quite heavily on how things are going … I will talk to Angela about this today… the other small problem, that I would prefer to ignore but I know I can’t – is that as I got ‘better’ over the last couple of weeks (before this weekend) my appetite returned… and so I gained a little weight. And I hated it. I ate all weekend, well. And gained more weight. And I hated that too. And so I’m back to intentional (this time) calorie restriction ….

And I think this ‘control’ (tipped the scales at 57 kg again this morning- so lost those 5lbs) helps my mood. This is weird, I recognise it, I do not understand it, and I don’t want it. ( or I don’t want to want it, or I’m ashamed of it) But it’s true…. and I cannot, by will power alone, change this behaviour; and I guess only by admitting it and facing it head on , will I make progress….

I hate this

I doing this weird anger cycle again. You would have thought it would have settled down by now.

KublerRoller

I’m in the most vile mood. Angry, frustrated, irritable, demotivated, bored (yet have 5000 things to do)

I feel like I’m right back at the beginning of this bloody roller coaster

I want to see people, but I don’t want to. I want to go out, but I want to hide at home. I want to be with my kids, but then they annoy me ( I had the most wonderful phone call from Son1 yesterday from Scotland which was totally unexpected and lifted me hugely as he sounded so happy and positive) I want to declutter and sort the house out, but I cant be bothered. I want to achieve things at work, but its such  struggle.

And all this because i ‘want’ to drink ? normally ? like a normal person does? Because I want back the sad, desperate, messy, deeply unhappy disaster of my life before I stopped drinking? REALLY ?

My lucid mind says ‘Of COURSE’ not . but I’m still angry, and feel crap. and lost and unsure of my direction or even of the POINT of my life any more. If i’m not ME then who am I?

This is self indulgent drivel, but it so real to me right now. My little pendant I had made after about 6 weeks sobriety (God I was naive) has the word ‘serenity’ on the largest disc

img_0306-1

I’m holding on to this bloody pendant right now, alone with two key rings given to me by my sober sister. I’m telling myself to bloody snap out of it…. I’m telling myself that it never ever stops at one (drink, or one day), that all the positives of never ever regretting NOT drinking, never worrying about drink driving, never ever having blackouts is REAL. and this yearning for the familiar messy crap that goes with alcohol is pointless

It should be over by now. I’m angry about that too. GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Right now –

I have managed another weekend without alcohol

This weekend, in contrast with many others has been HARD. I have had to make conscious decisions that I don’t WANT to drink several times a day; I have been more tempted to drink that I can remember for a LONG time.

This has disappointed me. I didn’t drink, and I’m bloody glad I didn’t, but I’ve had a more social time, and therein, I think lies the problem

On Saturday lunchtime I went out with a group of friends to a lovely restaurant. I have known these people for 15 years or so, and I consider them all friends. Many are also ‘friends’ with my ex husband, and indeed I met them through him. Most didn’t know I stopped drinking 521 days ago. Most will remember the BBQ’s and parties we had at my place where there was ALWAYS lots of alcohol and I was (almost) always drunk.

I drove, which was partly because I could then give a lift to J & K as J is not that mobile, but also partly because it added a layer of protection to my ‘alcohol free armour’ and provided an excuse (should I have wanted to use it) as to why I was not drinking. I actually didnt bother, just said ‘I dont drink’. Everybody else was drinking; red, rose and white wine. It looked delicious, intoxicatingly tempting, the looseness of people’s conversations as they imbibed was obvious to the sober one. I hated that,hated feeling left out, hated feeling different, hated the bloody Diet Coke I was stuck with – wanted to drink (a LOT) -… by the end I was pretty desperate to leave despite the lovely food, and the genuine pleasure of the company of people I love who I don’t get to see often enough…

In the evening a friend came to see me. I knew him when I did my GP training in rural Wales; he was married to a friend of mine. I guess I had a bit of a crush on him at one time; but I would never have done anything about it, as I said he was married to a friend. We used to wrangle cheerfully about politics and as virtually the only two English people in a very Welsh community ,  support one another a bit.

We lost touch when I left Wales, although I knew that his marriage had subsequently broken down. Last year he found me through Facebook and we met on Saturday at my house. It’s silly to say people haven’t changed in almost 20 years, but that is how it felt. We slipped easily back into the friendship we had shared and talked and chatted about our subsequent experiences.

He knew me as a heavy drinker. There is not a lot to DO in rural Wales except drink – and we all did. Saying it out loud ” I don’t drink anymore” was hard. I wanted to drink, I wanted to get a bit pissed, drop my guard a bit, I felt safe and comfortable and I wanted to share the wine – for what reason I don’t really know- but I did so want to.

I’ve done 521 days sober. I’m so proud of that, and I’m so pleased that I didn’t blow it, either time at the weekend. But I’m left feeling  little sad.. moderation doesn’t work for me, I know that. I tried every way. The only answer is to be sober. But I felt the loss of my former self this weekend which I have not done in a while. I felt the loss of sharing wine, or being part of a group, of letting go. I felt the stigma of knowing I CANNOT drink. And oddly I felt the weight of responsibility – knowing that I can never again blame ‘being drunk’ for making unwise decisions. That all my decisions are now made sober, they are undoubtedly better decisions, but its somehow a bit bloody boring.

sorry. I AM glad i didn’t crack. I know what I have achieved through my sobriety. I just feel a bit nostalgic for the impulsive, messier me … which makes no sense at ALL !

 

 

 

Just Me

This is quite weird

On Wednesday my therapist remarked to me that that session was perhaps the first time I had just come ‘with myself’. Not with my problems related to my children, or my ex partner, or alcohol or disordered eating or work or anything. And I have been attending pretty much every week for a year.

Just me. Not a mother, a partner, a friend, a sister, aunt, daughter, a work colleague, a doctor, an employer. Just me.

I don’t even know who that is.

If I describe myself, I can do it with  a positive, or a negative slant. (I expect most of us can) I can list things I like to do, I can describe certain values I believe to be important, I can identify aspects of my personality that are generally congenial, and a few that are less so.

But who AM I? without all the other roles to define me? who is this person who lives inside my body? What is she, truly like ?

I don’t think I even know.

I know some things, and more things than I knew a year ago. When I review where I was just 12 months ago, I can see I have come SO far. Tomorrow I am meeting a friend for supper who I have not seen for almost 20 years, we ‘found’ one another on Facebook and I’m looking forward to catching up. We first made contact about a year ago, and I deliberately did not make arrangements to meet up because my friend is a man. My Ex P would not have allowed that. Or liked it, and I would have suffered for it. Its quite liberating to know I can now go out with whomever I choose, whenever I choose.

I feel like I am at a real turning point. There are some real things I need to find out about myself, there is a lot to look forward to – small things like resuming my oil painting classes next month, and bigger things like planning a holiday to Africa with my kids next Summer.

How can one get to 52 without a clear sense of self? Or do others also feel that they are quite defined by their roles? … something to think about

 

To rent or not to rent …

This is a ‘thinking out loud’ post…

My son is going to Nepal soon. He will be away for at least 6 months. I am skint. My room is the converted loft room of an old Victorian house with a small ensuite bathroom, two sets of double doors overlooking the garden ( and suburbia) and a good amount of storage space. Its at the top of the house and has a lockable door.

Son #1 who will be away has the largest room on  the first floor ( the original master bedroom) and shares a bathroom with his brothers.

I COULD move into son 1’s room for the duration of his trip – a pretty big moving exercise- but I could, and rent my room out. For about £650 / pcm for one person or perhaps £725 for a couple. for 6 months.

I had found a ‘perfect’ couple … he was a little older than me, she a little younger. They seemed quiet mature professional and sensible… all good. we met twice, agreed the ground rule, and yesterday they pulled out. Dont know why.

Am torn between irritation , frustration, relief and indecision.

For renting

  • money coming in
  • potentially another adult in the house – not for ‘baby sitting’ but incase of fire etc
  • one might be able to come to an arrangement whereby lower rent = help with dog walking /

Against renting

  • having someone in my house
  • leaving my sanctuary room
  • exposing the kids to another person in their home
  • more mess / other peoples habits / loads of things that I havent thought about

Its not THAT much money. Im tempted to scrap the whole idea ? …

what would you do ?

Banshee

I’ve written previously about the role of domestic abuse in my family. I’ve written about my ex husband and his paranoid, violent outbursts, and about my ex partner and his undermining cruelty to my two older kids, his physical intimidation and his refusal to support himself.

Now I have outed, named and considered this, it’s time to review my part in the whole dynamic. And this of course is hard, it involves examining and revealing a degree of unattractive behaviour from me, and an honest appraisal of some of my actions. Without wishing to remove responsibility for their behaviour from either of the men I have lived with, domestic discord often has two sides.

The person I am NOW, would not have allowed either situation to continue as it did. The person I am now, 514 days sober (had to check that because I forget) with boundaries (at least some) and a small but developing sense of her own self worth would never ever have let so much of what happened, happen.

I married my husband because I loved him. I had a small child, he accepted that and appeared to want what I did, more children an a stable, normal suburban life. I think he loved me too. All good. Except that he loved cannabis much more than me, my son or either of the two subsequent children we had together. More than his home, more than his role as a father, more than anything or anyone. As I am now I would never have married him. I would have seen the warning signs and known that you cannot change a person. Oh I saw the warning signs, but in my arrogance and in my naivety and my wish for a ‘happy ending’ I believed I could ‘make it right’. It was no good for either of us. My sheer force of character and determination made him feel emasculated; his inertia and lack of ambition frustrated me. Our marriage had its best moments when I was weak, for example in late pregnancy or with a newborn child. When he could feel that he was the stronger.

But thats not me, weak. And I don’t accept things lying down, I try to achieve things I want, and I am ambitions – not so much for ‘things’ but for opportunity, for experience. I believe that commitment and hard work gets things done. He does not.

Quite soon I disliked him, and when his paranoid drug fuelled aggression spilled over into our home life I was both afraid, furiously angry, bitter, resentful and I think I often treated him with contempt. Not nice really. I was not nice really. I tried to talk – we went to 18 months of pointless couples therapy – during which the therapists realised much earlier than I did, that this was not going to work out. … I told myself I was trying, but I could not reconcile myself to his lack of motivation or ambition – could not accept his drug taking. I was not REALLY trying, because what I was being asked to accept in my husband were aspects of his character that I could not respect….And I drank. A lot. Until I saw a way out. and took it.

With Ex P it was different. It took a long time to lose respect for him, he demands respect, By his presence, his voice, his decisions. Instead, when several years in, the frustrations started to grow and I was completely unable to get him to engage with me as an adult, I turned in to a banshee, A shouting, screaming banshee. Like if he wouldn’t listen to me calm, I would MAKE him listen to me loud. Of course he did not. Like the picture at the top of this page, I felt desperate, furious, almost mad with frustration and anger.  But the banshee behaviour spilled out into my interactions with my kids, some days I felt stretched so tight I could have yelled at everyone the minute I walked through the door, And some days I did. Not good. Not consistent, not calm, not supportive, and not constructive. Just an ANGRY drunk middle aged woman so frustrated she didnt even know WHY she was so angry. I struck my middle son across the face – I am so ashamed of that. My temper was so close to the surface, I too was losing control.

Thank God it is no longer so. I am so so much calmer now. I rarely raise my voice at home. I am consistent and measured, I do find it hard sometimes to make clear boundaries and stick with them, but Im working hard on that with my therapist.

I was not a very nice wife, and I was not a very nice girlfriend; but much more importantly I was not always a very nice mother.

Im better now. Much better. And you can see it in the kids. They are much calmer, much less volatile. Less angry, less aggressive.

No more Banshee. Banished because I am no longer angry. I am no longer dealing with the unmanageable inside my own home. Who knew.

Why do I never expect this?

Yesterday I went with son #1 to Scotland for him to start this Wilderness therapy programme. I am so pleased I went, although the day was exhausting – left home at 5am, returned at 11pm.

Those who gave read some of my posts about my son will know how difficult the last couple of years have been. In truth I have been counting the days till he went …

But now he is not here – and has no phone / internet access for 3 weeks …. I feel crap. I miss him, I'm afraid for him, I want to give him a hug… I want to know he's ok…

I seem to be finding it hard to let go

I'm grieving. I feel agoraphobic, diminished, small, lonely and scared.

Sigh. I expect this too will pass, but it's really not very nice right now.