Hard but necessary

The last few weeks have been very hard.

I’ve lost my ability to write, to capture my thoughts and translate them into words. I have literally sat looking at the blog screen sometimes, and been unable to frame a single sentence. A kind of writers block, odd…

I feel better having made a decision. We are in tatters as a family, my son is not functioning and I believe things will not improve whist his father is manipulating and alienating him.

I have no idea if I can actually do this. In the past it would have been easy – my lawyer once told me if I wanted to stop contact (felt it was necessary) I should simply inform him and let him fight me through the Court. I never did this, as I thought any father was better than no father. I don’t think this any longer. But now its hard as the kids are 16 and 13 …

Son2 ‘wants’ to see his father –  when I told him I was seeking to stop contact he was very angry. But now I can see a glimmer of relief in his eye… Just maybe what he needs is for me to stand up, be tough and just STOP the shit ….

 

Dear ex husband,

At son2’s insistence (promulgated by you) I have instigated a child safeguarding referral for son2 and son3 with respect to the incident in which son1 hit son2. I personally do not believe this episode reached the threshold for referral, and nor did the Consultant Psychiatrist to whom son2 relayed the whole episode. However, this episode coupled with the ongoing and serious concerns about son2’s mental health do, in my colleagues’ opinion merit a referral to safeguarding

The referral has been made after I expressed my genuine and sincerely held concerns that you are subjecting son2 and son3 to emotional abuse by

  1. a) persistently, repetitively and regularly making disparaging comments about me, my lifestyle, my behaviour and my decision making. This behaviour in my opinion amounts to parental alienation and is extremely detrimental to Jacob’s mental Health and
  2. b) your persistent drug taking, glamorisation of drug taking, constant talking about drugs and failure to set appropriate boundaries around the information you feed your children

You have been told, many times that it is inappropriate to share your opinion about me with our children. It has been explained to you that children are emotionally vulnerable and that persistent denigration of one parent by another is destructive and emotionally damaging. Children who are emotionally robust may not display many overt signs of their emotional distress, but son2, who is emotionally very fragile, clearly is. I have told you, the child psychologist told you, your friends have told you, many times, that insulting me, using derogatory and abusive language about me to the children is wrong. And damaging. But you continue to do it.

I am the childrens mother. I am their primary care giver and always have been. I am the one reliable parent they have. I provide their home, and meet all of their needs to the very best of my ability. I attend their parents’ evenings, take them to appointments, monitor their screen time, cook for them clean their clothes and am there every single day trying to support them as best I can to become happy successful adults. What YOU think of me is NOT relevant to the childrens relationship with me. And your ongoing attempts to destroy that relationship is damaging both son2 and son3.

Your repeated and persistent glamorisation of drugs and drug taking is also WRONG and damaging to young people. If you cannot see why, then I don’t have the energy to explain it to you. It is evident from your behaviour that you do not think it is wrong, but the damage that it does is very, very evident. Again you have been told repeatedly to stop doing this, sensible advice that you ignore.

I have no intention of dignifying the things that you say about me with explanation or response. I am quite content for social services to investigate any and all aspects of our domestic life and am confident there will be no concerns. I will however make one statement. I am NOT having ‘an affair’ with J. I say this as your erroneous assumption that this is the case seems to be the trigger for your latest explosion of repulsive behaviour.

My private life is no concern of yours, and my choices in this regard are absolutely none of your business. Sharing your false opinions with our children is, once again, an attempt to alienate them from me and is unacceptable.

I have an appointment with my lawyer. The purpose of which is to seek any legal means I can to deny you access to the children for a period of 12 months. In my opinion this is necessary to allow the whole family some opportunity to heal from the schisms and emotional disruption that your persistent bad mouthing of me has caused. We are clearly a family in crisis, son2 is significantly mentally unwell. He barely gets out of bed at home, is not engaged with his school work, is taking drugs and is hostile, aggressive and abusive towards me and his brothers. In my opinion this is largely due to your inappropriate sharing of your negative beliefs about me.

In the last eight years I have tried very hard to promote and facilitate contact between you and your children, regardless of my personal feelings about you. At times I have tried distance, more recently I have tried to be friendly, I have tried telling you what is and is not acceptable, nothing makes any difference. The effects on us all are now unbearable and contact must cease.

You can do this the collaborative way and agree not to contact or see son2 or son3 for a period of 12 months, or we can do it via the Court, but either way, in my opinion, you bring nothing useful to son2 or son3’s life and are a very negative, disruptive and damaging influence.

Further contact will come from Social services and / or my lawyer. I have blocked you on my phone as I am no longer prepared to listen to you shout abusive things at me. If you are prepared to agree with my stipulation regarding contact you can respond in writing. If you are not prepared to agree than I will proceed and take steps to prevent contact via legal processes.

we will see. SS investigation has begun. I have contacted my lawyer. I’m exhausted and emotionally spent, but I will be strong and I will get through this. If I fail, at least I can say I tried….

 

Roses

This is the letter I wrote to my second son today. I have not been blogging because I could not bear to write about how awful things have been at home recently, but I feel that my dear friend K’s suggestion to write to my son has unblocked something, and I now feel I have a way forward,,,,

Dearest 

It was lovely for me to have you in for a cuddle this morning and for you to say you too are tired of fighting. I think we need to talk but I thought it might help if I set some of my thoughts down on paper so that you can get some understanding of my concerns and worries.

I can see so much potential in you.  You are funny, thoughtful and creative. You have begun to think deeply about social issues and to care passionately about injustice. You can weigh both sides of an argument and discuss intelligently. You can be engaging, charming and very personable. You are sensitive and can be super considerate and very, very kind. All these qualities make you into a fine young man of whom I am very proud, and whom I love very very much.

It has been very hard watching you struggle with anxiety and low mood; it hurts so much to watch you distressed, shaking & panicking and feel unable to help you, I thought you managed with such stoicism and bravery in the early days in Africa, when I know you tried very hard to put a brave face on your anxieties. I am so sorry that I had to terminate your therapy with X, although you have repeatedly said you don’t mind, I do feel that an important source of support has been taken away from you at a time when you are very vulnerable. And you have coped so well with moving school, managing the transfer from media to Philosophy yourself which is a real mark of maturity. Recognising that in fact Media was not for you and being proactive about making a change was a really positive step, and I felt very proud that you had done this yourself, seen the right people and made the decision.

I want to say a word about ‘me’ here. I know you have accused me of being self-centred and making it all about me. But I hope you believe that I have your best interests at heart. All I want for you and your brothers is that you are happy in your adult lives, I don’t care what it is that you end up doing, but I do care passionately that it is something you can enjoy, take satisfaction in and feel fulfilled by. That is so worth striving for. And for none of you will that fulfilment come from a minimum wage job stacking shelves or similar.

So, son2, to our current issues.

Firstly school. This is such a great opportunity for you, doing subjects that you enjoy and can be interested and inspired by, in a new school. Subjects that no one has done before and that you can really display your talents in. Honestly,  I really believe you can do very well if you can apply yourself to some study. And sadly neither I nor your teachers can do this for you. I can provide a warm room, a desk, computer, text books and all the support I can, but I cannot make you learn. I see that ‘hitting the ground running’  is such an important part of success in May 2020 and it frustrates me beyond belief that  you are making such minimal effort to even try and do the necessary reading and studying outside of school. I haven’t insisted you get a job, I let you alone the whole of Sunday afternoon to do these essays and you just sat on your bed with the phone. It is a known FACT that young people (in fact all people) are distracted endlessly by technology, and I was trying to get you to take some responsibility for doing your work by giving up the phone for a couple of hours. If you get behind at this stage you will feel overwhelmed by the mountain of work you will need to catch up with, and we both know how that will impact on your mood, mental health and academic results.

You need to TRY J, and that means being mature and responsible about studying. Setting yourself a routine and regular study times and actually DOING it. You are 16, not 6 and you simply cannot abdicate responsibility for your own life in the way you are currently doing.

I hope we can talk about this in a calm way later.

If you really feel that A levels are not for you then you do have another option. You can quit now and look for an apprenticeship or similar. You do have 5 GCSE’s and I’m sure we could get you a position somewhere reasonably local. You could go back to College at a later date to do A levels or something else if you feel more inclined to study in the future.

What you can NOT do is coast along doing nothing productive, becoming increasingly grumpy, irritable and aggressive. It’s not fair on any of the rest of us and it would be a dereliction of my parental responsibility to allow you to do this. Life isn’t one long day lying about listening to music, and I won’t allow it to be so for you.  

Second: the contribution you make to the household.

I’m not going to get into an argument about how much time I spend at work. Compared to others who are lone earners and live as we do, I am extremely privileged. I work 5 minutes from home: because I am one of the Bosses’ I can take time out to take you to appointments, to be at home for tradesmen etc : Many people have to commute to London as K did for many years, leaving home at 7am and not returning till 7pm or later. Many other doctors have to work nights and weekends, I do very few Saturdays and no nights.  We are super lucky, we live in a big enough house in a fantastic area and you have not had to work to contribute to household finances as many, many young people do. I am able to fund your Maths tuition, your guitars, your phone as many other parents are not. And that is not to mention the fantastic trip we have just done and the plan for Japan next Summer. So enough of the ‘you spend too much time at work’ – Adults have to live and provide for their family, I am not in a position where there are two adults contributing to raising my family so I have to earn myself. I am a doctor, I cannot just walk out at a set time when I have patients booked to see me, it would be totally unprofessional. And whilst my family comes first, it is not my only responsibility.

When your father and I divorced I could have downsized, could have moved further ‘out’, could have gone part time at work. And maybe I should have. Maybe. The problems would be different, but perhaps worse. Rather than berate me for decision that I cannot change please try to count your / our blessings and be thankful for what we have. We live close to Dad which offers you all the chance to see him and Granny as often as you wish, we stayed close to friends and my family too… we have a house large enough for you all to have you own rooms ( I cannot imagine the tension if you had to share which many young people have to)…..

One of the consequences of my working full time is that I need help in maintaining and running the household. I employ M to help with ironing and cleaning but I still do about 50% of the cleaning myself, I do 90% of the cooking, shopping and washing and 100% of the bills/finances/house maintenance/planning/ booking holidays etc. It’s a lot on top of a FT job. I am also responsible for supporting you all emotionally and sometimes practically – lifts to school, buying text books, organising maths tuition, getting you to the psychiatrist, attending parents evenings etc  (to list a few of the practical things I have had to do for you in the last fortnight) Remember there is also son1 and son3 who need support of different kinds.

I’m asking for you all to keep your rooms tidy, to keep the first floor bathroom clean and tidy and to clear up after yourselves in the kitchen. I’m asking you to keep the Den clean and I’m asking for general help in emptying the dishwasher and taking the bins round. I’m asking you to walk the dog when you are at home. Are these unreasonable expectations? For three able bodied young men, none of whom are out of the house for longer than I in a week?

They are not.

And coupled with my frustration that you would not do any school work on Sunday was my resentment that you sat around and let son1, son3 and I do all the work in preparing the Den for the new furniture, let us clean out the big shed to make room for that furniture. None of that was really for my benefit, but for yours… and last Sunday you did the same, lay on your bed in a filthy messy room, too disinterested to even put your clean clothes away…

It’s been a hard few weeks for me . I had to fight hard for my boundary with respect to drugs, meaning son1 had to leave home for a few days, there has been physical violence in the home between you and son1 which quite honestly terrifies me, I have had our unhappy dysfunctional family life exposed in front of a colleague and live with the Shame of that. I have been shouted at by your father picking up any shred of discord and using it to call me neglectful and threatening me with further social services involvement. We are facing further painful family therapy. My senior partner is on long term sick leave which means I have had to shoulder more responsibility at work in areas I feel under-qualified to do a good job,  I’m struggling son2, struggling to try and hold it all together and literally I reached the end of my capacity to cope on Sunday night.

I’m a person too , as well as your mother. I have no parenting manual to help me always make the right decision. Honestly I try my hardest, but I am as imperfect as the next person and sometimes I get it wrong. I believe you are old enough and mature enough to recognise this and to take some responsibility for the disgusting scene that erupted last Sunday. I apologise for losing my temper and shouting at you,  I apologise for sweeping your stuff into a big pile on the floor and most of all I apologise for  swinging your bass guitar at your back as you left, I did not really intend to hurt you, but I apologise sincerely and without reservation that I did.

What I need from you is threefold.

  1. I need a commitment to try at school, I need a recognition that you cannot study with headphones in, I need a mature and responsible attitude to your studies that mans that you voluntarily put your phone down for periods of time in order to facilitate meaningful study. Or, if you cannot commit to this, I need a decision to leave school and look for an apprenticeship.
  2. I need you to recognise that you too have a responsibility to the shared house we live in. I need you to understand that as a young man you must play your part in keeping the home clean and tidy and the chores done. This is not optional and it is not acceptable to do it only after repeated nagging and with obscenities and foul language.
  3. Thirdly you need to take more responsibility for your own mental health. You know what stresses you out, and you know what you should be doing – eating proper food regularly, getting enough sleep, taking exercise regularly and keeping your own space uncluttered. Just taking tablets will not remove your anxiety, you have to proactively manage it, and this means making an effort yourself.

Son2, I hope you know that I love you very much and that I want everything good for you. I would be failing indeed if I allowed you to sit around being a passenger, wallowing in anxiety and self-doubt. You CAN help yourself and it’s time to step up, show your character and do it. I know you have it in you.

Let’s try and have a quiet talk sometime. I hope this letter makes sense to you and that you can accept it comes from the heart.

With much love

Its been a car crash. Starting with three days of physical fighting between sons 1&2, and ending in my losing it last Sunday evening.

No one said sobriety would be easy, and this is ‘life’ not sobriety that is hard, at least Im fully present and sentient as i try to navigate my way through.

I’m putting this out there in case it helps anyone else struggling with difficult teenagers to feel less alone, less defeated and less like a complete parental failure. I’m better today, K’s strong support and robust defense of all that I have done and continue to do has boosted my self esteem such that I feel able to move forward.. but Oh how very hard it all feels. She bought me  a bunch of flowers yesterday….roses like the ones above and they gave me hope and renewed courage to plod on ….

Personal Craziness Index

In the last couple of weeks, as my step work has progressed, I have been introduced to this ‘personal craziness index’.

This can be found in the book above that I have been working through. Essentially it distills the character defects, painfully worked out through my step 4 inventories, identifies (lots of) behaviours that arise from these and suggests you chose the seven most ‘measurable’ on a day to day basis. Specifically those that indicate emotional disequilibrium…

So on my list are things like ‘messy bedroom’, which comes from my tendency to procrastination and a recognition that for me, a tidy and clean personal environment indicates a degree of emotional stability. Others include ‘irritability with kids’ – again when I’m feeling stable and robust (and not over dramatising) I’m better able to manage the normal ups and downs of life with three teenagers; messed up eating patterns ( a nod to the long standing, and now intermittent, craziness of my food intake) and absence of mediation / prayer/gratitude list … again, when I’m emotionally ok, I make time for these things … and I recognise that they are important for me.

At the end of each day, I add up the number of ticks in the boxes, give myself a score out of 7 for personal craziness, and jot it down. It’s a pretty accurate reflection of where I am.

Right now, I’m at 6/7. This is not great.

I going to offload a bit here, because it helps me to write this stuff down..

Firstly the kids. Son1 is home; after an aborted attempt at a conciliatory chat on Saturday (he stormed out) he returned in a much more reasonable frame of mind on Sunday. He accepted that he had broken the rules, and that part of my frustration with him came from his lack of contribution to any tasks in the home. He’s been much better since then, has cleaned up after himself, cleaned the kitchen and generally been a lot more helpful. I agreed to lay off the ‘get a job’ pressure for a week .. result a much more harmonious relationship. So much for son1 (for now)

Son3 is really no trouble. Hes been watching, a bit wide eyed, at the strife – and I can see him listening and learning. He gets himself up for school, is oi his homework, has submitted with reasonable good grace to the removal of his gaming computer during the week and is generally low maintenance. So much for son3

Son2 is the focus of stress right now. Is this me ? I don’t actually think so. Last week he failed to attend school /college on Friday when he had opted not to attend an optional team building day at Go Ape (for anyone who doesn’t know this is an activity center which involves swinging though trees / high ropes and activities up in the canopy) For a kid with a long standing discomfort of heights, not going seemed reasonable. What he neglected to tell me was that he should, therefore have attended normal lectures. He didn’t. He then missed his private maths tuition in the afternoon which he ‘forgot’ despite my reminding him twice during the day. This cost me £40 for nothing. Yesterday, after a massive tantrum he failed to turn up for his scheduled sociology lecture, which resulted in school phoning me and informing me that if he missed on further class he would be asked to leave.

Great.

He has adopted his older brothers mantle of lying in bed all day, amidst a jumble of dirty plates, clothes and books all over every surface and the floor.

I am very busy at work and simply not there all day to insist he clears up. Today I told him that if the space is not clean by the time I get home, I will confiscate his phone for a week. Lets see what that achieves.

So other stresses.

Last weekend I received a bill from son2’s private psychologist for £920. I was expecting £345. Plus a ‘bit’ . She charged me 1.5 x normal rates for a shed load of work she did (unasked) in August… she never informed me she would be charging me 1.5 x normal rate (which is £125 /hour) nor did she offer me the option to defer this till September nor did she give me any indication of the costs accruing. I raised these issues with her and got a  flat ‘this is the bill, pay it’ response.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place. Son2 likes her, he trusts her. She has been working with him for 6 months. I am very loath to disrupt the therapeutic relationship. BUT I feel she has been unprofessional and disingenuous and I no longer trust her … certainly I don’t trust her to be transparent about her charges. I’m very angry and very frustrated, but I’m mindful that I have a tendency to both overreact and paradoxically to minimize. so I have no idea if my reaction is reasonable. And that stresses me still further.

I know I should be happy that I’m sober. I AM happy that I’m sober, and I know all of this stuff would be harder if I were not. i just feel I’m lurching from one crisis to the next, clinging on with my fingernails and trying to create the order Im desperately seeking out of the chaos that is my lived experience.

 

 

 

 

Predictable

It’s the fourth morning that son 1 has been exiled. Sons 2 and 3 and I have been busy, the Den has been cleaned and rearranged so that Son 2 can have his band practice in there, and son3 can use the running machine and gym equipment. Now that it’s no longer a health hazard, filthy and messy (and coincidentally has, at last proper windows and a lockable hardwood door) they are re claiming their share of what was always supposed to be a shared space for the kids.

I have blitzed son1’s room, reorganised, cleaned and removed unnecessary stuff. A trip to the dump will be required at the weekend, but home feels calmer, cleaner and more settled.

On a less positive note, after two nights my ex husband says he cannot have son1 any longer and turns up on Thursday evening on my doorstep with son1 and his stuff. Son1 is defiant, unrepentant and angry. He refuses to apologise, ex husband reiterates that he ‘cannot’ have son1 at his mothers house any longer. I, massively put on the spot, say that he will be welcome home when he can accept and live by my rules. Son1 stomps off.

FFS.

Now that the threat of having to actually step up and get on with it is passed exH back tracks and says ‘of course he CAN stay’ … but son1 has made his way to my mothers house. This is better for him, since Granny will be sympathetic, will look for excuses for his behaviour, is a soft touch, and has WiFi ….

this is BAD for my relationship with her, for my brothers relationship with both son1 and her, and potentially for my brothers relationship with me, which, given that he is my most important source of sensible, unbiased, relevant advice fills me with dread.

All of us, stuck between a rock and a hard place, forced there by the unacceptable behaviour of a 19 year old messed up kid.

and what of him? My sponsor made a perceptive comment yesterday, she asked me if I was going to talk to him about his drug addiction? I hadn’t heard thought of him as a drug addict. And she pointed out that his drug taking has already had significant consequences for him, he’s lost his place to live… and when I think of it like that they have been other consequences too …. there is an addiction and recovery chart that I used with my sponsor, I’ve reproduced it below…

Now I don’t know how far down that slippery slope he is, but certainly some apply .. “work and money troubles”; “unreasonable resentments” and “excuses”…

I know he will say he’s not physically dependent, and I agree with that, but I’m beginning to look at him not so much as a recalcitrant, obstinate, lazy, teenager, but as a troubled, psychologically dependent addict.

And I know a bit about addiction.

I’m not so arrogant and stupid (or Co-dependent) that I think I can fix him, (and I will need to guard against this) but this relationship breakdown is probably at least partly about his compulsion to manage his frustration and emotion by numbing it with drugs …

Of course it’s partly about my stronger, more focussed self laying down boundaries and insisting on them being respected. That’s a change, and it takes some getting used to for the children.

So he will be visiting us later, for a “talk” … and I think I will start with that chart, which at least opens up a conversation…

wish me luck !

🌷

Consequences

This morning I found a contraption similar to the one above next to my sleeping 19 year old son.

For anyone who doesn’t know, its a grinder that breaks up clumps of marijuana leaves so that they can be distributed more evenly in a joint. He fell asleep in the Den last night and I was looking for him that morning as the dog is limping and needs to go to the Vet.

Oh dear.

Stupid boy doesn’t even have the nous to clean up after himself.

You might remember that the last time I found this stuff, about 3 weeks ago, I made it crystal clear (again) that I would not accept this in my house. He remembers, and so do I.

I’ve talked a lot about boundaries and consequences in this blog. About learning that boundaries are essential for my own self esteem and to maintain some order at home. About realizing how angry, powerless and resentful it has made me in the past having all my needs and requests ignored. And I have realised that at least for my younger two children, they feel better ‘contained’ when the rules are clear and enforced.

I set a clear boundary. I gave him one chance, one ‘mistake’, and I told him what would happen if he transgressed again and I discovered it. He has.

And I have told him to leave.

I called his father and said that he will need to stay at his house, and I told him to leave. Very calmly, no shouting and no hysterics. No anger. I’m very disappointed, but I’m not angry.

Not easy, by any means. But the consequences of NOT following through on my clearly stated (and not unreasonable) ultimatum, seem to me that they would be worse.

Son2 says I should be thinking about why he does this… and of course I do. I understand that he’s stressed about starting College, I accept that hes anxious about making friends, and I get that he’s under-occupied, bored and restless. I have given him many suggestions of things he could do to fill his time in a productive way, many options of clubs or sports or hobbies he could take up. Most importantly he could (and should) be looking for work… (he’s not)…

I cannot make him do anything, I cannot stop him smoking weed, loafing around and wasting his time, I cannot get him a job – but I can draw THIS line – no drugs in my house.

And I can enforce my consequences.

My mother is wringing her hands and is predictably full of plans to control him, get him away from people she perceives as leading him astray (they have all left College anyway) MAKE him clean up his mess etc. But all these plans won’t work,  because you cannot control what a 19 year old man does every minute of the day, he makes his own choices. He knows perfectly well that marijuana demotivates him and leaves him apathetic and lazy, he know perfectly well that he needs to look for work and how to do it. He knows perfectly well that his messy dirty health hazard of a bedroom upsets me – but he doesn’t care enough to not smoke drugs, make an effort look for work or clean up.

And trying to make me accept this, tolerate it, turn a blind eye, be endlessly supportive won’t work either because it will just make me angry, irritable and resentful.

So, he will need to stay at his paternal grandmothers house with his father. Where there is no wifi, no home comforts, no dog; where he will be eating plastic food out of packets and where he is not wanted.

I don’t know how long for, or if there are conditions on his return, but here I draw the line, and I will take whatever the consequences are in the longer term because I can see no alternative at the moment.

Predictably I feel guilty, a bit wobbly, and very unsure. Once again I’m back to trying NOT to blame myself – my mother told me I am ‘obsessed’ with son1 finding a job and ‘taking it out on him’ because my ex Partner refused to get a job. This is not true. I want him to get a part time job because

  • he needs to earn some money to fund his leisure activities
  • Having 4.5 days a week to do nothing, with no responsibilities is not good for anyone. College is not much more than two days a week and hours of unstructured time are not great
  • I want him to understand the value of work, at present he just doesn’t
  • I believe it will make him grow up a bit
  • I expect it will help his confidence

I’m very tired of the stress. I’m very tired of the constant uphill battle to get sons 1 &2 to function in a vaguely normal way, but I can no longer just turn a blind eye to the kind of behaviour that is contributing to a lifestyle and life choices that I do not accept are best for anyone.

Sigh. Interestingly I still feel better than I did last week, my self discipline in respect of my personal mental health programme is definitely paying off, and I am much calmer inside. Thank God!

The narcissist and the empath

This is the most chillingly accurate description of my last relationship I have ever read.

Someone sent it to me, and it reduced me to tears – (of sadness) for that vulnerable damaged woman I was, sadness, but also compassion and tenderness .. and that’s one big step up from loathing, self criticism and self hatred

Here

I don’t know why the written word should be so powerful, and move me so much … but each of these stages happened to me so exactly as described … I feel ill now, literally sick to the stomach, and I know I need some more self care, and self love … at least for this weekend.

Lost Ground

This is raw. So don’t read it if you are feeling low /wobbly …

Yesterday was a seriously bad day.

In the last 6 weeks, since I went holiday, I have been doing well in lots of ways.

  • Feeling strong
  • setting clear boundaries with my sons, my ex partner, a work colleague
  • My eating patterns improved beyond recognition

I am quite sure this is because before I went away I had built some good ‘self care’ habits

  • Acceptance of a higher power
  • Regular prayer / meditation. Short but regular.
  • Attending Church
  • Attending AA meetings, again not masses, but a couple of times a week
  • Working through stuff with my sponsor.

I ignored the subtle eroding of this routine since I came home as I felt good, and everything was going well. I ignored the subtle erosion of my mood, I ignored advice to go to meetings, I ignored a chocolate binge earlier in the week with accompanying feelings of self loathing …

In my anxiety about my children, increased work pressure, and everything else competing for my time and attention I neglected my carefully, painfully learned self care.

You can guess the rest.

No, I haven’t relapsed in the alcohol way, but I’m sitting here this evening feeling thoroughly miserable, having eaten everything I could find, stressed, anxious and low. And I know I HAVE to do something about this, or I will relapse..

I cannot understand why I have effectively self sabotaged like this. It’s been a long hard road to that place of increasing confidence, relative emotional stability, and peace, and it was such an empowering place to be.

I know what I need to do, I just don’t know why it’s so hard to motivate myself to do it.

Is it possible that these self destructive patterns serve some kind of ‘other purpose’ for me? That, although I desperately don’t want to be a messy, depressed, eating disordered, active alcoholic, that this served some kind of function for me? That breaking the patterns and habits of a lifetime is hard not just because of the neural pathways I have laid down over the years, but because these behaviour shielded me from ‘something’..

this is hard. I also think the re-emergence of my exPartner after 6 months silence has disturbed me. His emails, and the anger, resentment, and distress they caused me, have underlined that I am not at that place of indifference and forgiveness I have been aiming for. I want to forgive him, because then he can’t touch me any more, I want to forgive him for ME , so that I can find peace … but I can’t (yet) . I’m still too hurt, too let down, too angry. And I still react too much to these (understandable) emotions. It’s probably ok to be angry, he did great damage and great wrong to me, and my children.. but I judge myself harshly for not being able/ ready to move on and forgive / let go.

On reflection it’s this self criticism which is more damaging than the anger.

Having largely removed him from my conscious thoughts, and actively decided NOT to read more about narcissistic relationships, not to include books about toxic partners in my reading lists, and not to lurk about on Internet forums where damaged partners of narcissists share their pain, I now find I’m back to reliving my hurt, anger and self doubt … and back to reading others stories, and feeling their pain, reliving my own. I had accepted I will not get answers, I had fully recognised that he cannot see what he has done wrong, because he simply doesn’t get it, and I had accepted that I was deceived, manipulated and lied to not because I am an idiot: stupid and naive, but because he is very very good at lying, manipulating and deceiving for his own ends.

I so want that back.

This place, this emotional desert, with no protection against wind and sand storms and the cold night, is horrible. I need to rebuild my little oasis, and I need to take more care of the metaphorical ‘tent posts’ , canvas and fire that form the basis of my shelter.

PS. It’s Saturday now,. And I’m a bit better. Went to a meeting yesterday and going again this weekend. Been praying. Will go to church tomorrow, will be ok.

I hope

🌷

Dullsville

Yesterday I had a day when it seemed that just maybe everything was going to be ok for a while.

Son1 is attending College and remains enthusiastic, Son2 started his new school and despite being beside himself with anxiety prior to my taking him, he called at lunchtime to say it was ‘ok’. Anyone who has or has had a 16 year old son will know this is code for ‘much better than I feared’ … Son 3 is back at school and some stability appeared to be returning..

Sadly not so for long, this morning son3 is at home with tonsillitis, Son2 was back to morning vomiting and panic attacks and I just feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of it all. I wanted to stay home with my youngest today, I know he’s 13 and ‘can’ stay alone, but he was hot and miserable this morning and I would have liked to have the day with him. But because one partner is off, and there is stuff to do and to take a day off will cause an issue, I went in.

I joined a Facebook group for single mothers who are also doctors. I thought I might meet some nice people. And they are nice, but the group is filled with mothers who have had horribly abusive relationships, and many who are still struggling with divorce and financial wrangling. I just feel incredibly sad now and somehow deflated.

This post is shit too. Not interesting witty or insightful. Just boring. Like me I guess, boring, untrusting, spikey, lonely, introverted and sober

Great 😔

Just suck it up…

This might be a bit of a rant …

During the week I had a conversation with my mother about my concerns about son#1 and the boundaries I have set for him (again)

Namely

  • I will not accept drugs in my home. Full stop. If he transgresses he is out. Not necessarily for ever, and he has a father round the corner so he won’t be on the street, but I will NOT accept it.
  • He need to keep his room hygienic. If he will not he forfeits the right to a bedroom and can reside in the Den at the end of the garden.

My mother was full of reasons why I should not be ‘so harsh’ and full of explanations / excuses for his behaviour.

I have thought about this at some length and discussed it with my therapist yesterday. Basically she (my mother ) is saying that I should have NO boundaries where son#1 is concerned, and that whatever he does I should just suck it up…

To me this is a recipe for anger, resentment & frustration. For me. It feels like my feelings and the consequences for me or the other two children do not matter, everything must be done to keep son#1 happy. It seems to me that this is how she lived her life – angry and resentful at having to do everything whilst my father sat in front of the TV. No boundaries, and no consequences. Just seething resentment and explosive anger …

I have good reasons for not accepting drugs in my home

  • Its illegal; I am a professional and my status and registration could be at risk if drugs are found in my home.
  • Drug taking cost me my marriage and my future as part of a nuclear family. The direct result of my ex Husbands refusal to stop using cannabis, cocaine and God knows what else led to total breakdown of my family.
  • My sobriety and peace of mind are at risk if this continues
  • son#2 has significant mental health problems and is extremely vulnerable to the risk of ‘self medication’ with cannabis. I do not want this stuff under his nose
  • son#3 is 13 years old. I do not want him to grow up in  a home where drug taking is accepted.

But the message I get from my mother is that I should put aside all these reasons and accept this behaviour because son#1 ‘has the wrong sort of friends’; cannot be reasoned with because he has Asperger’s and thus a rigid set of beliefs; and that he needs stability to make the best of his opportunities at College. The message I get is that women (or mothers) are expected to accept anything from their beloved offspring, or husband or others, stuff down their own feelings and reasonable expectations, and just suck it up.

This is the message I have had, and witnessed, all my life and I have come to realise that its at the base of a lot of my issues with my mother. My needs and expectations have no value or currency at all in her world view. I am powerless to change others and not able to (or should not) stand up for what I believe to be right, no matter how reasonable that might be.

Well you know what? stuff that. An angry resentful person is NOT who I want to be. I want to be strong and assertive and I want my reasonable requests acceded to, by a 19 year old young man who lives in MY home and is fully financially supported by ME. I’m not asking him to stop breathing. Its normal to say no to drug taking and Asperger’s or not he knows perfectly well what my rules are.

I will need to address this with her (my mother) at some point, when I am less annoyed. But for now, I have explained to him how angry and resentful it makes me when he walks all over my rules and reiterated the consequences…

lets see what happens

Drinkers like me

Last night I watched a BBC documentary, about a former BBC presenter who was taking  a long hard look at his drinking habits.

Chiles’ drinking was exactly like mine. Every day, not to total blackout every day, but some binges as well in there. He added up his units to  100 + a week. Alcohol is part of his life, as he describes it, it’s in the fabric of his social life, meeting friends in the pub, for dinner having  few beers. But it was catching up with him, although his liver function tests were normal, his liver scan was decidedly abnormal; he is overweight with high blood pressure and also has a mood disorder.

Within 5 minutes I was shouting at him to give abstinence a try – that being completely alcohol free is not a disaster and can be managed. The programme however veered down the ‘moderation’ route and at the end, three months after filming, Chiles revealed that he was moderating his drinking – to only 25 units a week. That’s still twice the recommended limit. I had the feeling it was with some difficulty, and perhaps skeptically I thought this likely to be a) an underestimate and b) probably will creep up.

What to make of it.

Firstly I commend his bravery in making this film. It revealed a very ordinary man struggling with a very common problem, and he was very honest and open about his difficulties.

Secondly, he really came over as full of self loathing and despair. I felt sad for him with a mother who said on camera that she doesn’t believe in depression, a heavy drinking father who, forced to cut down, said it was “no fun”, living in a place of anxiety and chronic sadness. He made the connection between drinking and his mood disorder, but didn’t follow it to its logical conclusion. The closest he seemed to come was in a filmed session with an addictions therapist, and he did attend a club soda lunch … but expressed dismay that the occasion was dry!

Thirdly, I could not believe that none of his friends, even the 13 years sober alcoholic, or the comedian, sober for 30 years, actually seriously suggested he should STOP drinking, that he is in denial about his problem and that there is a life free of the stuff.  (The comedian, Frank Skinner, is 10 years Chiles’ senior but looked 10 years younger)

Fourthly the denial. Oh my goodness the denial, from ALL the drinkers. The complete denial that they were drinking excessively – because everyone else they know is doing so too. The use of the word ‘alcoholic’ and the search for a ‘fits all definition’ – the one that emerged seems to be that you cant be an alcoholic if you

  • don’t drink in the morning. (But Chiles was filmed having four pints of beer well before midday)
  • Don’t always want to drink

And lastly I just felt a huge suge of relief that this tortured struggling person is no longer me, that I have found a way to manage my alcohol misuse that works for me. Maybe Chiles can moderate, and maybe he will get away with not ‘having’ to chose abstinence,

Maybe.

You can see the documentary on BBC iPlayer here

some reviews herehere and here

 

 

 

 

900 / 500

Nice round numbers today 🙂

Today is my 900th day of sobriety. Oh YEAH ! NINE HUNDRED DAYS. That’s 128 weeks and 4 days, or 29 months and seventeen days, or two YEARS five months and 17 days …. I probably should count it in 5 minute gaps considering that’s how often I thought about i at the beginning..

I’m pretty proud of that. Not one single alcoholic drink in all that time… and look how my confidence  is returning and my self esteem improving. It isn’t all (directly) to do with abstinence, but the courage to make the changes that I needed to DID all come from the initial honesty with myself that I needed to stop numbing all my emotions, and just stop drinking.

I am conscious of the risk of relapse. Not that it feels big at the moment, but that its there… always there, waiting to catch me off guard and convince me that ‘just one wont hurt’. Or worse, “you’ve done it now, you’re much better, there no need for you to abstain any longer”… that little voice. I imagine we’ve all heard it, and sometimes its louder than others. I call it the Devil, or sometimes the wine witch (although that sounds too cutesy for the destruction that this inner demon is ready to wreak), and it looks something like this

devil

I am less afraid of relapse in many ways, I have many tools to help me if I feel vulnerable, and I have almost 2 1/2 years of sober experience to draw on – but I know when I’m vulnerable and I know very well that the path to relapse doesn’t start when you lift the glass to your lips. It starts much earlier than that.  I am vulnerable right now. I know it, I’m tired with the stresses of sons 1 & 2, exhausted with pushing to get every little thing done, flat after my wonderful holiday, stirred up my the contact with my ex Partner last week and just generally .. vulnerable.

I haven’t been to a meeting in more than 4 weeks and I haven’t seen my sponsor for that long too. I’ve been lax with my daily reading and gratitude lists and missing my short meditation / prayer sessions – basically I haven’t got back into the good habits I had before my holiday. I must sort these things out this week.

And the 500? This week the five hundredth person signed up to follow my blog. In fact I have 505 followers today. That’s amazing. The little stats thing tells me that this blog has been read all over the world from the Philippines to Haiti, in Africa and Australia, by more than 12,500 separate people. I’m so grateful to all those people, and especially to every one who has written a kind or generous comment and supported me on this journey.

So THANK YOU. and if one person has got something out of the thousands of words I have written, than I’m very pleased with that indeed.

500

Home

Home.

What does “home” mean to you?

For me, I have always wanted a comfortable home that feels like an emotionally safe place for me and my children. A place where we can all come to recover from the stresses of life “out there” and know that we are valued, cared for and able to relax.

Alongside that I want my home to be clean, tidy, well maintained and aesthetically pleasing (to me anyway!)

Over the last 15 years I have been collecting Art. Usually, but not exclusively from my travels, I have bought quite a lot of Art pieces. Mostly paintings, but also sculpture and some functional pieces. Some have been deployed round the house but quite a lot were badly placed or ill fitting to their surroundings. The house, whilst ok, hasn’t felt really ‘finished’. When my ex partner lived here, he jealously guarded the role of DIY expert. And, to be fair, he was very good at DIY, but he refused to allow anyone else to do anything at all. And he rarely actually got around to starting home DIY tasks, let alone finishing them.

Since I got home from Africa, with a few more art pieces, I have been rearranging stuff on the walls, with the help of my older brother who has an eye for this kind of thing. I bought a drill, some rawlplugs and screws and set about hanging the pictures.

Today I finished. The place looks great 😊😊

Home feels properly homely now. It’s how I want it to be. Im not great with the drill, but I can hang a picture and its straight and the spacings are right, and most importantly the tasks are completed.

The picture at the top is a canvas I bought in South Africa. Its not currently framed so I’ve just hung it to get the travel roll out of it until I can get a stretcher frame . And below is the lamp from Morocco thatI have just managed to use, and other paintings I have (re) hung.

Feeling pretty pleased with myself !

Getting Stronger

A lot of stuff is happening. I’m really noticing my increased psychological health and strength as I’m put under pressure. It’s not perfect, I’m wobbly in places, but it’s a lot better.

Progress, not perfection.

Son2 achieved 5 passes in his GCSE’s. He and I were /are absolutely delighted with this result. It’s so much better than we feared and I hope he will be able to continue at his supportive school, with his friends. Given his shaky mental health this is SO important … we go into school this morning for a chat. He has not quite got the grades he needs for automatic acceptance, but I’m hoping for special consideration …

Unfortunately things are not so hopeful with son 1 and yesterday I discovered a pile of drug stuff. Again. A grinder and evidence of weed smoking.

To say I was disappointed and angry would be an understatement. And there was a huge row. Not good. But, throughout the day I tried to ‘lean into the discomfort’ again, and actually think through my responses.

I have come to the conclusion that I

  • have every right to refuse to accept ANY drug taking in my home.
  • Don’t care if others think it’s “not that bad”. It is to me.
  • Am not mean, critical and horrible (as son1 called me in the aforementioned argument)
  • Have done my very very best for son1, especially in the last 2 years
  • Cannot control what son1 does – really really CANNOT
  • Can set my boundaries and can stick to them

So last evening I sat down with him calmly and explained that

  • I am afraid for him,
  • frustrated with his lack of effort to sort out College and
  • worried that he will lose the opportunity if he does not actively pursue the only option he has.
  • I feel he has betrayed my trust again
  • I will not accept drug taking
  • If I find drugs paraphernalia again he will need to find somewhere else to live. And I MEAN this.
  • I will not be giving him any money, nor buying clothes, shoes, phone, alcohol or anything else at all for him unless he is in FT education. If he IS in FT education I expect him to get a PT job, and we will discuss any other financial assistance that is absolutely necessary.
  • I expect him to keep his room hygienic and reasonably clean. If he cannot, he forfeits the right to that room and he will have to live in the Den. Again I mean this. His room smells, it’s filthy and unhygienic and he WILL NOT clean it up, nor will he allow me to help him to do so. I can’t make him clean, but I can lock the door and refuse him access.

No answer to that really is there. Good. I feel better. I still can’t control him, but I can control what I do. I have given him my reasoned advice re College, and it’s up to him what he does.

Lastly, to cap a truly stressful day (I haven’t mentioned the blocked sink, dripping tap and kitchen flood which stated it off ) I received an email from my exPartner.

Ugh. Essentially he wants to come and collect some stuff.

I said no. He ended up calling me bitter and hostile, heaping bad Karma on me and threatening legal action. I didn’t reply.

All kinds of difficult emotions round this one. Chiefly:

  • anger,
  • a certain pleasure in denying him what he wants almost a “satisfaction”.
  • A wicked desire to goad him – I know I am smarter than him and the temptation to stress him out with a combination of passive aggression, sarcasm, blunt truth and amusement is almost overwhelming.
  • A desire to do what he does. Just lie. I could say I remember him giving me these things. Then it’s his word against mine. It would drive him mad, but it’s what he did to me hundreds of times. It’s called gaslighting and it’s absolutely toxic
  • Hit back. Go to a lawyer with my evidence ( receipts etc) and demand return of the multitude of items that I can prove I paid for …

I guess these emotions are normal. I’m not very proud of them, especially the urge to lie, gaslight or hit back. I can see clearly that any contact with him is just toxic for me, and destroys my peace of mind. In the end my peace of mind is so much more important than anything else, so this is the last email I sent.

I repeat that I have no intention of facilitating your request to collect items from my home. I have previously indicated to you in writing that any possessions that were not removed from my home by January 2017 would be forfeit and / or disposed of.

Please feel free to investigate any ways you like to force me to do so. My position will not change.

I can see no useful purpose to further discussion and I would request that you do not contact me again.

Sincerely

It’s not the end, he said in reply; as he’s taking legal advice etc. Hahaha. What a bloody joke, he has no money and no legal leg to stand on. But I need to close it down from my end, and I will not engage further.

I’m reading a book by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho, about forgiveness. It’s a very moving and profound read from people who really know something about the subject. Desmond Tutu is one of those people I deeply respect and admire, a feeling intensified by our recent visit to South Africa. I have some work to do on true forgiveness. Not as Tutu would say, for him, but for me – to enable me to put down the burden of anger that weighs on the soul.

Adolescent Boys

Big sigh.

This is a venting post. I’m a bit rattled and I feel the lack of an involved other parent very acutely at the moment. The weight of decision making and ‘what to do for the best’ feels very heavy. Having said that, at least I don’t have to deal with conflict over what to do for the best – so I guess that’s one thing.

Son#2 has been a worry for a while as I have posted before. Really since he started secondary school aged 11 (he is now 16) things have been getting steadily worse in respect to his underlying anxiety and low mood, poor motivation and lack of focus. In the last year it has been much worse; he has been waking early in the morning, vomiting every day with anxiety, has poor appetite (or at least eats only junk food) and is plagued with insomnia and intermittent suicidal thoughts. Last October we went to see the GP for a referral and yesterday we finally got to see a child psychiatrist.

As an aside, I have no idea who people less assertive or educated than I, actually get through the system – this is the third referral to CAMHS we have had – the other two resulted in a suggestion to see Relate (a charitable organisation with a waiting list of months and a cap of 12 sessions) and a ‘lets wait and see – discharged’ … this appointment took 10 months, a report from his private psychotherapist and pretty relentless insistence from me, to actually procure.

It was a hard 90 minutes and I was only in there for 1/2 of it. She was very good, and didn’t get him to rehash everything but it was hard to hear him repeating that he has no future, expects to be dead by 30 and can see no value in himself whatsoever. This is despite having had a reasonably positive holiday experience and being more vocal with son#1 about his frustrations there.

She agreed he was ill, meets all the criteria for prescription of medication and issued it yesterday. She and the psychotherapist are obviously worried about the risk of self harm – and despite son2 not wanting me to ‘know’ this, I DO KNOW it. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet with the psychotherapist before the Summer break, as we both felt it might not help son#2 to feel safe in discussing his worries if he thought they were being communicated to me, but I am very aware of his suicidal thoughts, his substance misuse, his concern to protect me and not cause me additional concerns and his hopelessness about the future. I know he is angry about a lot of things, and I know how very very anxious he is. I’m trying to explain to son#2 that I’m worried about these things anyway ( I know them because he is my son, I live with him and I love him and am very concerned for him), and keeping them to himself doesn’t make me worry less.

Back to earth with a big bump

Tomorrow is GCSE (public exam) results in the UK. I’m dreading it. In his own words he ‘didn’t even try’ …. and yet I know that a clutch of dreadful grades will make him feel worse than ever…

And what the hell is he going to do in September?

sigh

“Womaning Up”

Is this even a word? I was buggered if I was going to put manning up !!!

We are home from Africa now and living through the post holiday washing, sorting , tidying stuff. Because we have been away for 3 weeks I had to head straight back to work yesterday, and so I asked the boys to do some stuff for me round the house whilst I was at work. Bear in mind they are 19, 16 and 13 and have no responsibilities at all right now.

When I got home an extremely minimal effort had been made by sons 2 and 3 . Son 1 appeared to have spent the day bossing his brothers around. I was pretty pissed off, but I asked questions first, and then I tried this “leaning into the discomfort” thing, which I assume means sitting with the very uncomfortable feeling of anger, frustration , disappointment and resentment that this complete lack of any significant effort brought up in me. Not only sitting with, but exploring a bit, examining how I felt and why and trying to weigh how reasonable I was being.

I still find these emotions really difficult to acknowledge- especially anger and resentment…

Part of that comes from having lived with critical cruel men. Both my ex Husband and my ex partner were very hard on the boys. Constant shouting, relentless criticism, unkind words, sharpness and putting down. Nasty little jibes about their acne, or weight: sweeping statements about how “useless” and “stupid” they were. I saw all this and winced at it, and overcompensated. Being too soft, too kind, too easily taking on all the responsibility myself.

Some quietish reflection and thinking persuaded me that in fact, expecting some genuine and worthwhile help from three teenagers who I have just taken on holiday for 3 weeks, is not at all unreasonable and in fact, not doing as I asked was massively disrespectful, entitled and just plain lazy.

Furthermore, when I realised that Son 1 had done NOTHING to prepare himself for his college enrolment this morning, to the point that he had actually forgotten that’s what he needed to do …. I decided to follow my feelings that he, at least, is taking the piss. That all his wanting £250 shoes basically involves me buying them (I didn’t) and little understanding that he is now 19; his life is in a bit of a mess because of HIS decisions, and if he wants nice expensive shoes he needs to get a job to pay for them.

So I told them ALL I was disappointed in their attitude, ALL that I thought it was spectacularly unfair that I should have to do everything in the house when I am the only one working, and all that a half assed effort is not good enough. I didn’t mince my words, and I was the opposite of the pushover mother I have had the tendency to be.

And I don’t feel mean, I don’t feel like backing down, I don’t feel like saying sorry, or “patching things up” …. I feel like I have discovered some part of the tough side of me that is rebelling about being trampled on by my kids – but especially my eldest.

So later, the ground rules get laid out unequivocally…. including that the ordering of his younger brothers stops as does the relentless criticism of everything they do. It’s time for him to shape up, and if he can’t do that? Then we will need to review his arrangements ….

I have had an apology from Son2 who said that I definitely have a point; and from son 3 …. son 1 is sulking. I know he’s anxious, I know he’s recognising that he actually needs to DO something now – that the holidays are over …. he needs to enrol in College and actually make an effort …. that he has literally NO friends and NO social life and he finds it hard to mix with his peers … but we cannot go on like this, and only I can sort it out …

The Lessons

This is a post that has been stewing in my mind since I realised that I have changed, even in the last 3 weeks, and just hugely since the day 889 days ago that I woke up and realised that I HAD to stop drinking. Or is it since the day, 2 years ago on Sunday, that I called a halt to my destructive, abusive relationship?

Of course the two are inextricably linked, but I can see now the fruits of the therapy. At times I have felt mired in the fallout and the personal recrimination, and the restless ennui of the recovery process, struggling with self confidence in almost every area, paralysed by indecision and fear of more failure. Insecure in the love of my children, afraid to set boundaries, beset with worry about not being a good mother, daughter, friend, sister, doctor, person ..

I feel differently today.

It’s been coming, in my peripheral vision, for a little while. I’ve been subtly aware of a shift in my self perception for probably 6 months now. Little shoots of fledgling confidence, shafts of positive thinking, a growing awareness that I have nothing to be ashamed about.

And in another one of those ‘big jumps’ of enlightenment I have experienced before, I suddenly feel, in my bones, that “I am enough”.

Imperfect certainly, (human) but good enough.

And with that feeling, that conviction, comes a new surge of energy and a sense of purpose. No more putting off till tomorrow, no more drifting and aimlessly hoping that things will turn out ok, it’s time for planning and building the future that I want for myself. The internal locus of control is returning, and I feel that I am in control of what happens to me, not external people, forces or circumstances. That I cannot predict everything, but I can plan, build and live with purpose in mind.

This feeling has also come from a recognition of mortality. That time is not endless, and that we none of us know how long we have. The best life is what we need to aim for now, not at some undefined point in the future, and if I have say 25 good years in front of me ((God willing) then I had better make the best of them!

Shoes

Bloody shoes.

Son one wants me to buy him shoes. Not just any shoes but shoes that cost 2500 Rand. That’s about $200 or £160.

I’m not willing to do this. Despite the fact that he says these shoes are cheaper in SA than the U.K.

if (and it is still if) he goes to college in September (full time) I am willing to support him for the basics… but if he wants shoes for that price he can get a blinking job and pay for them himself.

And that is final.

He is most seriously displeased.

But… I don’t care. And this is huge progress. I no longer feel afraid that I will lose him if I don’t do what he wants, instead I feel free to act as I think best. And he is 19, full of talk about earning …. but it is just talk. So tough love, no shoes until he can pay for them himself …

A review

I’m sitting on the balcony of our room in a small guest house, overlooking a beautiful bay (as seen in photo) about 2 hours drive from Cape Town. This is a whale watching Town, and as the waves quieten I’m looking forward to some whale viewing from the deck.

This is also an opportunity for reflection as our time in Africa draws to a close, we have been here nearly 3 weeks now, and fly home on Saturday evening.

To say this has been an ‘experience’ fails to give weight to each of very different and important, educational and recreational things we have done. From white water rafting to visiting Robben Island, from learning about the persistence of witchcraft in Botswana to tracking wild dogs, each and every day has brought something precious and valuable to remember, digest and learn from.

I have no idea what the kids make of it all, we have talked about a lot of it, but like me I think they are too overwhelmed with new sights, sounds, smells and cultural differences to begin to absorb what they have seen and done, I think, for us all, it will take some time to digest and consider the impact of our immersion in Africa.

The holiday has been in several parts, and as each chapter closed there has always been something else to look forward to. We have spent time at most destinations, sufficient to scratch below the surface and get some insight into the real life of indigenous people and the animals we saw. The great beauty of a 6 night mobile safari was the opportunity to spend one whole evening drive watching a leopard; just prowling, looking and then resting. Rather than rush to try and see the ‘Big 5’ in 2 or 3 days, we had time to observe the animals behaviour and habits.

I general we have all managed well living in close proximity to one another 24 hours a day. There have been a few arguments, but nothing serious, and we have had some practice at resolving disputes! I have been super calm 95% of the time, and have only really been ruffled by pointless squabbles between the boys. Only once have I seriously felt I wanted to drink, and in the beautiful sunny climate of the Cape Wine-lands where every second driveway promises ‘free wine tasting’ of cheap (and no doubt delicious) wines, I am quite proud of that.

Here IS hard though. We drove here this morning, along an astonishingly beautiful coastal path and now I’m sitting in the sun on the coast … the sea is crashing against the rocks and there is temptation to help myself to the FREE white wine From the well stocked fridge. I don’t have to drive anywhere else today …. but… I won’t. I can’t and I won’t… I’m not going to sabotage 887 days continuous sobriety. So I’m writing this, having a Diet Coke, and then I will go and watch the kids in the pool.

It’s hasn’t all been easy. I realise how much time to myself I actually need …. with 3 kids relying on me for every decision there is very little opportunity for silence. I have been sharing a room for the past 3 weeks … I have craved solitude and peace, my daily gratitude list is overflowing, but I have had too many distractions to properly reflect, to pray and to find peace with unresolved questions in my heart.

It’s been a wonderful wonderful trip, and I hope will have generated many positive memories, some new friends and a deeper compassion for others. I hope also we have become closer as a family and more tolerant of each other’s foibles …

time will tell

Holiday

This will be short as there is only very very slow internet here.

I love it. I’m happy 😃 boys are happy. Everything is just fine. I’m sober.

This is really fucking hard

That’s it really. Its all in the title

Its hard. I know, no-one ever said life would be easy, and in the grand scheme of world issues, I am just SUCH a first world problem. (That makes me feel guilty too)

I think the main problem is, now that I am actually having to DO it, I realise how very hard it is to be a single mother to three teenage boys.

Don’t get me wrong, I love them all fiercely, protectively  – and one thing I DO know, is that they know this. Deep down for certain they know that I LOVE them.

But its hard.

In the last week son 2 chucked at me that “You’ve spent the last 10 years engrossed in the computer and not looking at whats going on under your nose’; son 3 shouted at me that “You can’t remember ANYTHING” and son 1, yesterday, blisteringly accurately told me that “ You just side with who ever is there at the time”.

ouch, OUCH, OUCH

I’m trying to tell myself that this is a process, that we ALL of us are learning how to express ourselves in an environment where no-one is bullying us, or frightening us into keeping quiet. That this expression of frustration and anger is quite normal and that my floundering around in the anxiety of parental alienation is so common as to be almost Universal.

But it hurts.

It hurts because all those comments above are, to some extent true. I HAVE buried myself in an alternate reality at times, because ‘being present’ and FEELING the feelings has been so hard; I AM forgetful and uncharacteristically disorganised ; and that character defect of ‘people pleasing’ does creep into my interactions with the kids.

sigh.

One other thing that I know for sure is that I don’t hide behind defensiveness, I’m quite prepared (perhaps too prepared) to admit to my shortcomings, and to apologise for them when necessary. I am learning to be vulnerable, and maybe I’m too vulnerable and open to my children’s’ criticism.

In 11 days we fly to Africa. we will have 9 days with no mobile signal, no internet access and no-one else for company.

Could be interesting.

Loss of control

During the work I have been doing with my sponsor S, a few themes have come up.

One of these, that arose this morning, was a fear of “loss of control”, or perhaps more accurately a fear of doing things that I know deep down are a bad idea, a fear of finding myself self doing things against my instincts.

This is evident in the occasional drinking dreams I still have. In these dreams I have had a drink, usually not more than one, and I am aghast, desperate, uncomprehending as to how I could have taken a drink. Its as though I have drunk alcohol against my own will. I think this is reflecting a deep fear inside me that I’m not strong enough to actually DO what I know is right, and that at any moment for reasons unknown I’m going to do something that I regret, because I’m not strong enough to resist. Or more specifically Im going to do something that I KNOW is wrong for me, to please someone else.

There is a big element of this in my relationships with other people, especially men. Its the “people pleasing” part that I have come to recognise is such a strong part of my character. I think part of the reason I’m so cautious around men is that I am afraid I will end up in some kind of relationship, whether I want to or not. That somehow I will get swept away by emotion and what someone else wants, that the people pleaser in me will end up in a situation I’m not sure about …. or worse, a situation I actively DON’T want, but have been too spineless unsure to avoid.

Basically I’m a chronic “people pleaser”.

Now that I have come to recognise this, I can see this character defect trait, in many of my interactions. At work I have to tell one of my employed doctors that it has been commented on that she consistently leaves early from an on-call session, and that others are getting fed up with picking up the work she leaves behind. I have been avoiding this task for 3 weeks now. And it is because telling someone else that they have done something wrong is really really hard for me. …

I see it at home with the kids, Im far to much of a people pleaser and let them get away with things I should not… the result is that I appear to be a pushover, inconsistent and slightly unreliable. Sigh

I’m like this with my mother, outwardly compliant but inwardly seething; revealing nothing because I don’t want criticism (read I cant cope with criticism) but unable to be honest and tell her that her visits are too frequent, too long and too stressful.

WHY I am such a people pleaser I don’t yet know. How on earth I am to fix this deep seated character trait I have no idea. But once again, now that I have seen it I cannot ‘unsee’ it, and so I will have to try to unpick it, and devise a way to change it….

Today I am 851 days sober, and I have been separated from my ExP for 691 days (I track both because both were necessary for my recovery) That Lily seems a thousand miles away from the Lily I am today… all the changes have been in little steps… so I guess this is just one more step along the way.

 

Art journaling

As I recover, I’m rediscovering my creativity. Stifled inside me for many many years, I denied I even HAD a creative part to my soul.

All that’s changed.

If you have read my blog, you will know I’m an amateur oil painter, something I greatly enjoy and find hugely relaxing. I can genuinely say that my aim in painting is not to produce perfect pictures, but to enjoy the process, hopefully improve and benefit from the relaxation along the way.

The idea of Art journaling has been raised a couple of times, and this morning I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately the course I really want to do, with Brené Brown on the Oprah channel isn’t available in the U.K., but Pinterest has given me some ideas.

You can see the start of my “permission slips” project above. Now I need some glitter and glue and crafty stuff to finish it off. 🙂

I just loved doing this , and have been really absorbed for a couple of hours. I’ve had music on and been dancing between painting 🙂 what a wholehearted and joyful way to spend Saturday morning! What is best of all is knowing that all the kids have been to look and ask me about it – and I’ve been able to talk through the importance of self acceptance, courage, vulnerability and self love.

“You can’t give your children what you do t have yourself” so this is for them as well as me … I’ll post a picture of the finished product later 🌷

And here it is …

Uncertainty

Ok, I know now what it was yesterday.

It’s a surfeit of uncertainty.

a state of limited knowledge where it is impossible to exactly describe the existing state, a future outcome, or more than one possible outcome

And that uncertainty comes from all the things on yesterday’s list. Except mess, which I cannot tolerate when the rest of my mind is disordered. I CAN (have to) tolerate it better when there is less disarray and confusion in the rest of my life.

So,

  1. Son 1 – no job. Applied for college, no certainty of place and currently lacks a back up plan. Not eligible for employment support because he has not been back in the UK for 3 months after his travels. Not really looking for work seriously at the moment because we are going away in 3 weeks and he perhaps correctly thinks no one will take him on for such a short space of time. But he is open, transparent not smoking drugs, very communicative and very supportive (as much as a 19 year old can be) too much uncertainty for me about what happens when we get back from holiday … and the potential fall out / consequences.
  2. Son2 – finished school 3 weeks ago. No job. Doing nothing meaningful. Lazy. Again anxiety about consequences and uncertainty about his future.
  3. Practice managers resignation & developing conflict with partners re replacement … I thinkthis was yesterday’s proverbial straw. We had a meeting last night. In the end it was ok, as these things often are, but the fear of not being heard and not getting an outcome I was happy with was probably the difference between calm in the morning and gremlins in the afternoon.

The rest; mess, bills, discordant noise, recovery, mess are just unmanageable when I’m in fear. And that’s what’s underneath it all.

Fear

an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger

Fear that sons 1 & 2 will be living unemployed, parasitic and underdeveloped with me for EVER …

Fear that my partners will insist on employing a controlling, dictatorial manager who could destroy the flexible positive working environment I value so much and have spent so long cultivating.

And in to that I add my character defects (see how well I’m doing) controlling, perfectionistic,

And there we have the perfect breeding ground for the gremlins of anger, frustration and despair.

So, I have had a mindful hour this morning, prayed and I’m ready for the day …

thanks for the support 🌷 I’ll get there (eventually)

The Gremlins

I do not know what happens.

This morning I was ok. Not great because the current UK heatwave coupled with recent emotional disruption is played by havoc with my sleep, but ok.

It’s now 17.40 and I think I am going to explode with rage and frustration. Or is it fear ? Or something else …

but where does that sudden unmanageable emotional torrent come from?

And what the hell is it all about ?

Maybe someone can identify with overwhelming anger arriving out of the blue so that I feel like I hate EVERYONE in my path, my thoughts are completely uncontained and I feel like a fish wriggling on the end of a line.

I literally do not know what to do with myself except that I have to meet my partners in now 15 minutes …..

stressors in order of importance

  1. Son 1
  2. Son2
  3. Mess
  4. Too much to do
  5. No sleep
  6. Huge unexpected bills
  7. Practice managers resignation
  8. Developing conflict with partners re replacement
  9. Mess
  10. My recovery path
  11. Son3s discordant noise in his piano lesson
  12. Mess
  13. No time to do what I want
  14. Mess

Aaaaaggggghhhhhhhh

I am also …

I’m doing my Step 4 stuff right now. It’s hard going, or it is when you do it thoroughly, and I’m struggling to pull out my anger, resentments and Shame …

In the middle of doing this I felt the overwhelming urge to write down all the reasons for self hatred I can allot to myself. It’s a grim list. But it’s also not very mindful and probably not a very accurate snapshot of who I am right now.

Then I wrote on another page … I am also

And this is that list…

  • Brave
  • Loyal
  • Kind
  • Compassionate
  • Generous
  • Truthful
  • I have integrity
  • Clever
  • Resourceful
  • Passionate
  • Loving
  • Hardworking
  • Flexible
  • Unselfish
  • resilient
  • creative

I’ll take that list. I actually believe that. I wrote it and I believe it.

I think that’s progress ?

A busy head

I have a lot in my head right now, but I feel more positive and in control than I did.

There are three major themes

  1. Career
  2. Personal Shame.
  3. Grief

They are interlinked, and much of the last couple of days has been working out how. Anne commented below my last post that ‘knowledge is key’ , and I think that’s right, I need to know what my own values, boundaries, personal strengths and weaknesses are in order to keep moving forward. As Brene would say ‘it’s a process’ and I’m leaning heavily on her wonderful book “The gifts of Imperfection” to help me navigate through.

So, I have been courageous and explained some of my career concerns to my two partners. I also touched on some of the difficulties I had with my exP; namely that he was abusive and bullying. I did not mention my alcoholism, as I don’t think it’s that relevant, and I’m not ready to be that exposed. But I did feel I needed to let them know why I was considering my future in this practice, and why J’s death was so very hard for me  mainly because I have been absent or non productive for almost a month now:  (its linked to ExP, because J showed me, talked to me and helped me process what a normal husband and father is like) This decision to be honest has been very positive and I feel better understood and supported, less isolated and more in control.

This is good.

My dear friend A also wrote to me and said , I know she will not mind me quoting her

My thoughts, for what they’re worth;

Divorce is expensive. So are children. I’ve had neither. H & A have had one not the other & both have husbands who contribute. Your finances are a product of your situation. They do not define you.

This is important as it links to my personal Shame, that whilst my friends are cleaning their mortgages and investing for their futures / retirement, I am still juggling month to month. By reaching out and confiding, I have again received some validation that I am not BAD, and SHAMEFUL; but perhaps stressed, unhappy and to some extent a product of my circumstances.

I DO have time to make decisions, and I should definitely not rush them, nor probably even make definitive plans at the moment. But information gathering does seem like a good idea. Anxiety about the future, both short and longer term is part of my problem at the moment, and whilst some things I am learning to ‘hand over’ I do not expect God to sort out my pension planning!

To do list. Contact that NHS specialist IFA.

Shame. This is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Its EVERYWHERE in my thinking about myself. Constant, endless bloody shame. Not good enough. Not thin enough, not productive enough, not strong enough, not a good enough mother/ doctor/ daughter / friend / business partner … spendthrift, lazy, sloppy, weak. On and on and On

And then I want to add ‘SLUT’. STRUMPET. Evil, provocative, alluring …

Because I kissed a man.

This man is single and an adult of my own age. He is someone I know extremely well and like enormously. I know him to be kind, generous, gentle, loyal and honest. The kiss was a mutual thing, I hardly jumped his bones. And that’s all it was. There is no fall out. We have seen each other since and there is no awkwardness.

By my goodness it has stirred up a whole hornets nest of shame, guilt and anxiety in me. Why ? Logically and rationally there is absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed or guilty about. I need to explore this with my therapist, sadly she is away this week, but the level of anxiety and shame generated by this consensual, mild, perfectly normal interaction is most definitely related to something learned … and the SHAME part of it is doing my head in.

This is linked to grief too, because J was one of the very few men who was just unequivocally always, always ‘safe’. I was his friend and he was mine, and that was IT. Not all male friends are like that even if they are married, with some you have to be guarded and careful.  Not J, and once again I feel I have lost something, someone, infinitely precious and unique.

I will pick apart this shame about being a woman who is attractive to men, some more; when I know more … Bonkers I know, but it needs to be done

The weekend

This weekend I went away with my 3 BFF from medical school. We have known one another 30 years and despite distance and change, we remain close and tight.

We booked a cottage, many months ago, roughly equidistant from our various residences – this is important when the driving time between the furthest two is about 6 hours. We chose a place close to a nature reserve with a huge reservoir so we could walk, and we opted for a bedroom each – a necessary luxury as we get older !

After the emotional pressure and stress of the last weeks I woke on Friday morning rather reluctant to a) make the trip b) leave my nest c) leave K  and d) take the risk of leaving my boys ‘home alone’ for a whole weekend. On reflection that last was by far the biggest. When stressed and vulnerable, more ‘risk’ feels desperately hard.

But mindful of my enthusiasm previously, my genuine wish to see my friends, the knowledge that I would be very “safe” with them, and my need for some relaxation I left on Friday, later than planned but in time to arrive in the light.

On Friday evening I felt rather discombobulated, pleased to see my friends, but not really connected and belonging. I know this feeling now, and its because I am not sharing. So I talked all about what has been happening in my life, listened, and with the loving thoughtful compassionate responses of my friends came that sense of belonging as I have known it would.

We had a very slow paced weekend. Saturday I spent most of the day painting in the garden, whist the others read & sunbathed and we all chatted. We walked a bit, went out for supper and mooched companionably about – just being together.

This morning I sent them this email.

Just that short breathing space has done a LOT for my thinking processes.

I have reached 4 very important conclusions (I’m not going to DO anything right now BUT …)

1. All my life I have been chasing the lucrative practice. I have it. I have an “enormous” (for  GP)  income. But has it made me happy? NO. And further more, despite that (and I know that you all have some family monies that I have not had the benefit of) I am in a worse financial position than any of you

2. I am afraid of being poor. I grew up with frugality and the ‘not quite enough’ I saw the stress that not being able to pay for e.g. a car service had on my mother and this fueled my (and my brothers, I think) search for financial stability 

3. I HATE the ethos where I work now. I hate the relentless driving for more cash at the expense of all else. Its not the work I hate its the ethos. It goes against WHO I AM. I am empathic, generous, giving and I work in health care because its a good fit with my personality. But I have become  part of an organisation that ultimately puts the wants of the partners (3) over the needs of the employees (90) and the patients (26,000) 

4. I blame myself endlessly for being alcoholic, STILL having an issue with my eating (although not this weekend, interesting that, isn’t it) BUT, it’s because I am unhappy. Sure, I am much less unhappy than I was before, but most of my adult life I have been stifling and battering who I really am, in order to fit with an ideal that has been shown to me by my mother, the media, society, my expectations etc etc, No wonder I have been unhappy and resorted to alcohol, food and shopping to numb my feelings enough to get me through each day. 

I have no idea what I am going to do with this information but it is the truest thing I have ever written

And like I said, once its out. I find it hard to put it back in again.

A Celebration of a life well lived.

Today was my friend J’s funeral.

Again, as I have written before, this is not my story, but several things came together for me this morning and I wanted to try and capture them.

  • There is the celebration of a life, cut short, but full of fun.
  • There is the recognition anew – that we come into this world with nothing , and we can take nothing with us when we leave, except the memories we have made and the imprints our actions have left on others.
  • There is the beauty, simplicity and conviction of faith
  • And there is something (or things) personal that I want to reflect upon.

In the last 10 days I have been ridiculously forgetful, basically ditsy. I have been rushing around at 200 miles an hour, unable to concentrate on anything much, forgetting things (some important – like not cancelling a £200 online shopping order after I had done the exact same shop in person, some less so) My eldest son has been looking at me quizzically and commented “This is just not like you Mum”. And its not.

My concentration and output at work has been virtually zero. Forgetting things scares me at work for pretty obvious reasons, but I have not had any clinical sessions this week, the time freed up for other important matters to be dealt with Well they haven’t been.

On Tuesday evening I was struck down with diarrhoea. Severe diarrhoea. The kind that keeps you max 30 foot from a lavatory and leaves you wrung out, fatigued and sore. I have no idea what the cause of that was, emotional stress? Maybe.

Not good really. The house looks like a bomb has hit it, the dishwasher is kaput and the fridge is stuffed with enough perishables to feed a blinking army ….

This morning I was berating myself (again) for my poor performance in life over the last week. Then I looked in the Mirror and thought “so what HAVE you been doing ?” And the answer, of course, is that to the very best of my ability I have been supporting my friend K, J (before he died) and their son through a hideous, terminal illness that has been painful, terrifying and traumatic for much of the last 3 years. That I have lost a dear friend, been brought face to face with my own mortality, organised a BBQ for 30people in the back garden at a moments notice and generally lived through the pain and heartache of death, bereavement and funeral planning.

I would not have had it any other way.

Every single thing I have done or tried to do, has been done with love and a genuine gratitude for the support that both offered to me in the past.  I have been well placed to offer support, both geographically and by virtue of my medical knowledge. But I have not shirked from it, not taken the comfortable option (not my problem), not avoided hard conversations and not left K to manage alone.

Thats ‘what I have been doing’ and I’m both proud and grateful that I could help, and very honoured to have been trusted to be that close to a family in a time of need.

A woman I have heard a lot about came to talk to me at the post funeral ‘do’. As we were talking I heard the familiar inner voice of perfectionism and self blame in her narrative. When she finished speaking, I smiled at her and said, “But others will see what you HAVE done; we are always so much harder on ourselves than we need to be, look at how hard you have worked and how much you have achieved” I could see that this reframing of recent events was a bit of a revelation to her, and she responded by thanking me. That’s when I knew that some of the lessons I have worked so hard to believe in, to trust and incorporate in to my life are actually working.

Courage, compassion and connection. All there.

The closeness and loving kindness I have been part of the the last few weeks, the genuine compassion and community spirit of J’s many, many friends … it has been humbling and profound.

I know there is much more I need to reflect on, and much more that I have leaned from this whole experience. But today I have shed tears of grief, literally sobbed as though my heart would break, and also been a big part of a moving and uplifting church service that I will never forget. I have laughed, connected, chatted, listened and hugged so many people.

no wonder I am emotionally exhausted.

May God bless you my friend, you will live on in our hearts and our memories.

 

A Good space

Im in a good place right now

Not the ‘pink cloud’ good space that I have experienced periodically over the last 2 years, not an artificial high caused by something good happening. No, this feels sold, better, calmer.

My problems have not gone away; the kids are still the kids with their challenges problems and my anxieties about them; work is still work – busy, demanding, unmanageable; and life still has its downsides.

But I feel better.

Since what I am going to call my spiritual awakening, the problems I face seems to have been placed in a more appropriate perspective leaving a big space for gratitude. Not the slightly forced gratitude of the last 833 days, but a real, deep, profound, heartfelt thankfulness for all the amazing positives in my life.

Underpinning that is a much stronger sense of self esteem, a feeling of personal control and a trust in God. A true belief that I, with all my imperfections, am not some hideous malevolent, undeserving fraud, but just a person. Just a person with good and bad traits. A person like others, worthy of love, help and support. That my Shame and self hatred has been shrunk down to its proper proportion and assumes a much smaller place in my psyche.

This is a HUGE relief, and a huge step forward for me. Associated with this feeling is compassion for others, including those who have wronged me. No longer am I so angry, resentful and fearful (even though it was largely hidden from others) resentment, anger and fear were big parts of my feelings about my ex husband and my ex partner. Although I would probably have denied it, the fear with connected with anxiety they they could in some way still hurt me. Being able to let go of the fear, trust in my own boundaries and  KNOW that I will be ok, is very freeing.

Im working my steps, bit by bit – onto Step 4 and writing my lists of resentments, fears, anger, frustration is quite cathartic. It pulls all those suppressed ‘negative’ emotions into the present –  and poking over them makes me realise they are all very boringly common. Theres nothing particularly shocking there (that I have done) nothing to horrify or scandalise. its all pretty mundane. Who knew !

So despite this period of sadness and mourning, despite the tears for J which catch me unawares sometimes, despite the inevitable struggles of my dear friend and my absolute inability to make it right for her, inside I am at peace. I have faith that it WILL all be ok.

I think of that faith as a droplet falling in to the water of life – and the ripples are felt throughout my life – in all aspects.

One more things I’m grateful for .

A letter to my higher power

This is part of my Step two / three homework. It feels very important so I thought I would write it as a blog post, that way it stays here for me to look back on.

As I have written before,  have struggled with the concept of a higher power – an internal struggle of ‘wanting to believe’ ; envying those who do ; but lacking the trust needed to make that leap … By some miracle (and I use that word deliberately because that is how I experience it) I have made that leap of faith and I now find myself embracing the faith I have searched for …

Dear God,

I have been aware of you all of my life. At times I have felt Your presence pushing at the edges of my consciousness and trying to make me see You , but in my arrogance and wilfulness I ignored the obvious signals You sent to me. I carried on alone, struggling to cope with the unmanageability and chaos of my life, trying to control every facet. I continued down my self destructive path for so many years ignoring the lifelines you threw in my path …

I feels so lucky that despite my stupidity, despite my arrogance, self will and stubborn refusal to listen eventually an enormous proverbial slap across the face woke me up to the blindingly obvious fact of Your reality. After so long agonising over something I could not control, it came right in the end, by Your Grace, You showed me that my will and planning  is irrelevant, that Your greater plan will prevail, and we will all be ok. We will all suffer, because that is a part of life, but with trust and faith we will be ok.

To turn my will and life to You, enables me to LIVE the serenity prayer. It allows me to stop fretting about what I can neither alter nor influence. Instead by trust and faith and prayer I can come to accept the futility of my attempts to manipulate the future, and learn instead to trust in You.

This may be the greatest gift my recovery has yet brought me. I have learned patience, self control, calmness, have practiced setting boundaries, learned to manage the shame that previously engulfed me, and started on the path of self love. All these are great gifts that have come to me in sobriety and the lived experience of a calmer, happier home, and greater honesty with those I love is a wonderful result.

All this however has not removed my worries about the future that have tormented me. This nascent faith, trust and deep feeling of serenity provides me with the key to a wholehearted, joyful, spiritually healthy future.

For this I am deeply grateful.

I know there are many incidents in my life that You threw into my path, trying to help me accept Your reality. Of course now I cannot remember a single one to acknowledge in this letter. But I now there were many that I ignored. This last, this amazing last, I could not ignore. Sent to me right at this time in my recovery when my mind is open and my willingness to hear Your call is at last developed.

The last barrier to my acceptance of You was ‘trust’ – and you showed me in the most obvious way possible that I could, and should, trust in You.

I humbly ask for Your help in embedding this faith deep in my soul. I understand that faith is an action, it needs nurturing and it needs time. I commit to regular practice of prayer and gratitude to build my relationship with You. I commit to honesty in my relationship with my God and to seeking help from those who have greater spiritual wisdom than I. Please strengthen and confirm my faith in my daily life.

Amen