Thursday, 14 December 2017

Surrendering My Need to Achieve

I decided at the beginning of the month to let go of my goal of finishing the first draft of my novel by the end of the year. I am bang on track, with only a few chapters to go, but then I read this on Being COA is a Thing. It is a fictional piece written from the perspective of being the eldest child with an alcoholic parent. It is totally me. The child that copes by being perfect and achieving - by telling the world they are 'fine' by being sports captain and getting top grades. It's how I've coped all my life, I love work, I love to achieve. I can still remember the high I got from completing my Egypt project and being the netball captain in Year 6. I was ten. 

Me at 10 - the girl who already loved to achieve 

It's hit me how much I am still addicted to achieving - the self-esteem it gives me and the external validation I am always craving. I gave up work two and a half years ago, I was depressed and I wasn't coping well, once again far too stressed with my striving to be the perfect employee. It was just before my second daughter was born, but when she was only 12 weeks old I enrolled in an adult education course on how to write a children's novel - I've been writing ever since. I've never once allowed myself to have a break, to be just mum. On the first morning, I didn't write, I was dry retching, just like my dad when he hadn't had a drink. Working and achieving is still very clearly my crutch. 

It's time to let go. I also need to surrender my time anorexia. I don't know if time anorexia is an actual 'thing' but it's what it is to me. It is just like how my food anorexia was, but with time. I hate putting things in the diary just as I hated putting food in my mouth, it makes me feel totally out of control, I don't know if it will be too much for me (just like the food) and whether I'll be ok (again, just like the food). I'd feel safer if I never had to commit to anything. But, all of this is ruling my life, I am constantly in a battle with time, there is never enough of it and what I have done with my mornings off is never good enough. 

I started working on all of this with my energy healer on Monday night - there are many layers to delve through! We first worked on my belief  'I can't cope with everything I have to do.' We worked on releasing it, all the pain in my solar plexus, with tapping and positive affirmations. The next layer was control. I still believe others are controlling my life, that's why I have used food and now time to try and regain that control. This is an illusion, no-one has control over me - it is safe for me to be powerful and take charge of my life.  

Yesterday, I discovered more. I am also holding onto a pattern of panic. I wrote about this in July in Finding Myself. In this blog, I tell you how I spent my whole childhood in fight and flight and how I still always feel on edge like I need to do things as quickly as possible. I can feel it now as my fingers race across the keyboard, typing as if my life depends on it. I am of course safe now, but my inner child is not so sure.  

I will keep peeling off these layers. All of these thoughts and actions are just another form of self-hatred and self-punishment, there is no love in them. I am finally seeing it for what it is, I have been living with it for seventeen years, if not more and I am fed up with it. I want to be free. This has to be the first step, wanting to change and admitting my powerlessness. I can surrender my thoughts and behaviours to The Universe, asking the Angels to cut the cords to these destructive ways and transcending them with light. 

Archangel Raphael from Kyle Gray Angel Prayers Oracle Cards
Archangel Raphael's name means 'God heals.' He is the Angel to call on when you need healing of any sort, physical or emotional. Imagine yourself cloaked in his healing emerald green light. 

I am perfect just being me. I am good enough. I don't have to keep proving myself to everyone, to believe I will find salvation in achieving. I have achieved plenty and it's never enough, I always want more. True salvation is in loving myself, to stop the self-punishment and believe, truly believe that whatever happens, whatever I do or say I am still loveable, I am still loved. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Reality vs Fantasy - Today I Start to Live My Life

'What can be fearful but fantasy, and who turns to fantasy unless he despairs of finding satisfaction in reality? Yet, it is certain that you will never find satsfaction in fantasy so that your only hope is to change your mind about reality.' 

This is from A Course in Miracles, page 170, a text I am studying at the moment. As always with The Universe, it was perfect timing reading those words last week! 

A Course In Miracles 

I created my own fantasy world from a very young age - it was where I escaped to. As I wrote in last week's blog, Boys, Boys, Boys - I always took boys in there with me. In this perfect world, I was happy and I was in control. I could decide when and how boys would kiss me and no-one could ever do anything unexpected in my world. It was safe. 

Real life wasn't. In my reality, I was being sexually abused, two years after that my dad became an alcoholic. Yes, there were happy moments from my childhood, plenty, but it wasn't enough. I needed to create more, to even things out perhaps. 

Life has rarely been enough for me. I have certainly carried this belief into adulthood. I am not enough, I SHOULD always be doing more. I find it hard to find satisfaction in things.  As I have written before, life is good right now - it really has been for most of my adult life, but my mental health - my anxiety, my depression, my anorexia, my low self-esteem has prevented me from truly being happy. How have I coped? By going into my fantasy world and projecting into the future - when this happens, when that happens life will get better, I tell myself. I believe the fantasy of the future will be my salvation.  It is really an illusion. There is only now. When the future arrives, it will be in the now. 

I was doing this last week. I had a cold and it was a struggle looking after my daughters - two strong-willed girls who seemed to continually fight. My solution, go find a job. Changing my work has always been my go to. I can't tell you how many job applications I've written whilst in despair of my present reality - dozens! That next job will be the one that finally cures me as I wrote in Becoming Famous Will Save Me - What A Load of Bollocks! And I am doing it again. Yes, maybe working would give me a sense of purpose, help me get out of the house, but the reality is the workplace is where my worry of not being good enough is at it's worst. If I just stop and think rationally, I don't really believe that adding work to all the other plates I'm spinning  is going to be the magic solution. 

The magic solution is changing my mind about reality, changing my perception,  being truly grateful for everything I have and looking at the positives in my life. There is absolutely no need to take a taxi into my fantasy world - nothing in there is real, nothing I have ever fantasised about has come true. My life here right now is real, the love I have for my husband, my family and my friends is real. 

My wonderful family

I am not sure how I begin to truly believe it. Mindfulness feels a good start - I have been practising observing my thoughts over the weekend, and I have started to see how often I am terrified that I am wrong and how often I am controlling things to feel safe. 

I have to start trusting that I am good enough. No ifs and no buts.  I have to accept who I am, not the superhuman I've created in my fantasy world - I can never live up to her. I have a bucketful of good qualities, but I also have shortcomings and that's OK. I don't have to go running into the fantasy world sunset where I can be perfect. 

No more running into my fantasy world sunset!

Goodbye Fantasy World -  you helped me for a good many years, you made me feel happy and alive, gave me a sense of control, but it's time to say goodbye. I have a good life and that's the one I'm going to start living.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Boys Boys Boys

Boys have always been my way of coping. The first boy I fell for was Simon. I was probably five or six, I was already being abused by Grandad. I went to primary school with Simon, he lived in the next road along - all my friends seemed to take turns being his girlfriend. I was jealous, I wanted to be his girlfriend. I have so many happy memories of Simon - playing in his treehouse, leaving behind my worries and fears and the Halloween parties at his house, the only holiday that I didn't have to see Grandad. I was heartbroken when he left school, he was being bullied and it was time for him to go from my life. 

Simon and I

But, there was a new boy in town, he was small and smart, cute with curly locks and our mums became close friends. I was eight when I fell in love with Matthew, my love was to last almost a decade. I was beyond happy when in Year 6, our class teacher sat us together and we had leading parts in the end of school play. 

Soon, it was time for secondary school and we went our separate ways. The Universe kept us close though, we shared a love of tennis and I would count down the days until we'd both be on the tennis court, together once more. I was obsessed with Matthew, he was I would think about, how one day we might kiss. His parents had family parties - I prayed each time we would play spin the bottle and we'd be trapped in his wardrobe together. I am laughing at myself, in fact, I can hear him laughing too, for he is now with the Angels. He sadly passed away last year at the age of 35 from cancer, leaving behind a wife and two young children. His funeral was devastatingly sad - his mum had made a collage of Matthew through the years - within in there was a newspaper article about him winning a gold tournament, the same one I had cut out twenty years earlier and tucked in my diary. 

Matthew, age 10

At age sixteen, Matthew kind of got dumped (sorry, Matthew!) My love for him had not gone, but someone else was to sway my eye. He was tall, dark and handsome, a few years older and I'll always remember when I first saw him - on the telly, playing the most incredible tennis we'd seen a British man play in decades. His name - Tim Henman. I can't really tell you why I loved Tim so much, but he gave me something. Tim helped me through the tough times with dad's alcoholism - I filled scrapbook upon scrapbook of cuttings of Tim, clinging onto him for dear life.  

Tim Henman in one of my many scrapbooks

Maybe I was hoping all these boys would be my knight in shining armour, that that they would come and whisk me away from my reality of life. I knew there was a better life out there, but I couldn't escape, I was trapped in the prison of abuse and addiction. I tried again. In the summer of 1998, Justin Rose, an amateur golfer came fourth in the British Open - he was about to turn eighteen as I was. I sent him a birthday card and wrote him a letter. I have no idea what I wrote that day, but I know I was sobbing as I wrote it and I know it was a cry for help. Justin did not hear my cry - I'm pretty sure it was in a code that no-one would ever decipher, but he did send me back a signed picture of himself. Everyone thought it was hilarious. I was crestfallen. 

The signed picture of Justin Rose

I could brush all these off as a series of schoolgirl crushes, but there is more to it than that. Simon protected me from Grandad, I remember him being at Nana and Grandads, me clinging to him at the door when his mum came to pick me up, he had been my human shield. With Matthew, my love for him kept me going through the long years of abuse. His parents had a party the weekend after I was raped - I survived that week by knowing Matthew would be at the end of it. Tim gave me hope - hope that there was another life out there and I admired his determination to succeed, his quiet confidence. 

I will always be grateful for these boys in my life, especially Matthew. He was there with me through some of the worst times in my life - I hope he now knows  how much he helped me. 

Friday, 27 October 2017

'Becoming Famous Will Save Me,' My Head Says. What a Load of Bollocks!

I am very impatient. I’d only been going out with my husband a week when I drove into a petrol station and out again. He said to me ‘what the hell are you doing?’ I replied, as if it was totally normal ‘there’s a queue!’ That was sixteen years ago and I’m much more patient now, I can wait in a queue, but what I've seen in myself this week, is that I am still very impatient for the future.

Me and my husband, just after we met

I’ve always held this belief that becoming famous will be my salvation. How I’ll  be famous has varied over the years – a highly successful CEO and then a TV nutritionist. At the moment I’m writing a book, so my head goes ‘when I'm a bestselling author, all will be ok.’ Of course, this is a load of bollocks.

The future is an illusion, there is only now. When the future arrives, it will be in the now. Sure, today has its challenges – we are going through some stuff with my eldest daughter, sleep is terrible and I’ve been fighting off a stinking cold and stomach bug whilst looking after my daughters during half-term, but life is good.

Me and my family  - life is good now

Today is good. Do I seriously think that being famous wouldn’t have its ups and downs? Of course, it would – in fact I know it would. I was very successful in my first job at age 21 – it was everything I had always dreamt of, but despite looking confident and in control, I was battling anorexia, anxiety and depression. We all know that becoming successful or famous does not instantly make you happy or exempt you from addiction or mental illness – Ant McPartlin, James Arthur and Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child are just a few who have told us their stories. 

And, besides I will still be me. What I’m really waiting for is for the future to save me from myself, to cure me. And I am desperate to be here NOW. 

But, I’ve had enough of these false beliefs – instead, I need to change my perception, I’ll never be happy in the future if I don’t learn to be happy in the present – to look around and truly be grateful for life.  There has to be peace with myself – whatever happens, I am the one person I have to always live with. I do not need to be cured of myself, I am perfect just as I am. Right here, right now.

Easy Street is here - in the present - not in the future

Monday, 16 October 2017

Miracles Do Happen

Miracles happen - they honestly do - they are happening around us every day, we just need to see them. A Course in Miracles defines a miracle as ‘A shift in perception’ – when we change the way we see, hear or feel life. This usually happens and has certainly for me when we move from fear into love – when we open our hearts and surrender.  

A Course in Miracles - the spiritual text I'm reading (& try to understand!)

I have spent most of my life hiding, hiding from myself and others. I thought I was protecting myself, and maybe for a while, it worked, but not for long. The deep secrets, the darkness turned into depression, anxiety and addiction. I stayed hidden far too long, but when I started to let people in, when I let down my shield, bit by bit,  that's when the miracles started to happen. When I first stepped into an  Al-Anon meeting aged 23, I can never have imagined the friendships I would have made – how instrumental they have been in my recovery. I had no idea that sharing my truth and hearing others would bring me so much relief. 

In the last few weeks, I have been reminded of how being true to myself,  really does make way for miracles. Sharing my child abuse story on Facebook has been very powerful – by letting people see the real me, it’s made way for more intimate relationships. There has already been a shift in a few friendships, they have shared some of their secrets with me - I am more at ease, they are more at ease – there are no longer unknowns between us.

By facing my fears & opening up, my past hurts, my past traumas are starting to heal. I am making my way over that mountain! 

Then there is my mum – for anyone that read my blog – the feeling frenzy from sharing my story – at that moment I was pretty angry, and I never meant for her to read it. But she did, and by opening my heart and being willing to let the Universe do whatever it needed to do for both our highest good, it has led to intimate and truthful chats between us, and I know there will be change. 

So, look for the miracles in your life today, I bet there’s loads – the random way you met your partner, the children in your life, your friends, your job. Something. Even if the darkness is surrounding you and it feels like there is no good, keep looking – I promise there is something to hold onto. When you move into love, miracles will surely return. 

See the Light in Your Life - it's there! 

Monday, 2 October 2017

The Anxiety Of Being Nice

So, I sent a text to a mum from school last night, approximately at 7:30pm asking when her son’s birthday was this week. My daughter has just started school and this boy is clearly her favourite person in the class. I thought it would be nice to buy him a card, but, my head has gone insane – it's sounding something like this.
‘She hasn’t replied.’ 
‘Maybe, she thinks I’m being too intense – I’ve mentioned to her AND her husband that my daughter has been talking about their son a lot.’ 
‘Maybe her son doesn’t like my daughter.’ 
‘Maybe, I’ve done something wrong.’ 
‘But surely, I haven’t.' 
'I am just trying to be nice.' 
'It’s now 9am on Monday morning – why hasn’t she replied?’

The Birthday Card!

 And there is the crux of it. I am trying to be nice, but if I am brutally honest, buying this boy a birthday card has come from a place of fear. I wanted the boy to think my daughter is nice. I am terrified my daughter isn’t going to make friends at school. She much prefers the company of adults – at lunchtimes, she chats to the teachers and the caretaker. When I asked her if she’d like to go and play with the other children, she just looked at me quizzically and said ‘no.’ This really triggers me, I have always wanted to be liked, needed to be liked and have done everything I can to be popular. I am finding it hard, her not being that bothered.  

But, I admire her really – she is being true to herself. I bent myself in every way possible to be liked, losing myself in the process. I yearned to be naughty and cheeky, but I was being abused by my grandad, and I decided I was being abused because I was bad. I soon came up with a plan, I just needed to be nice, get everyone to like me then surely, he wouldn't abuse me anymore. The problem was, no matter how hard I tried, how ‘good’ I struggled to be, I kept being abused.

Me and Grandad 
Looking at this photo, I can sense I'm terrified, but at the same time desperately trying to be the 'good girl', smiling on her birthday. 

I made a connection last night. When being nice, it comes from a place of fear, my ego - the ego then needs re-assurance, so I am in a state of fear until the other person affirms I’ve done the ‘right’ thing. When I do something from a place of love, there is no ego involved, so no fear. 

Kyle Gray has a great prayer or affirmation that I have adapted and say to myself every day. 
‘I am the keeper of my mind and body. Where there is love, fear cannot reside. I am love.’
And so this sums it up. Many people would say I am a kind and lovely person and I hope I am, but a lot of my loveliness comes from a place of fear – if I am not lovely, what will they do to me? My past beliefs still haunting me twenty years on.

I know a lot of self-help books and programs, including the 12-step fellowships are based on being of service. If we are of service to others, then we are out of our own heads, our own dramas. I am totally with this, but I think it has to be interpreted in the right way. When I was encouraged to be a sponsor in a 12-step program, I always ended up crashing and burning. I can see now, this was because I was feeling forced to be good, just like I was in those years with grandad. I didn’t want to give, give, give – I’d been giving for years and quite frankly I was frigging fed up with it. I wanted to give to me, I wanted to nourish me. The time in my life where I’ve felt the most freedom was at University, where I was able to let go and not care – I spent three years getting drunk,  snogging as many boys as I could, and not studying nearly as hard as I had at school. I wasn’t’ being a good girl. It felt amazing.

Me at Uni, on a good night out!

It comes back to being authentic, back to being me and finding a way to come from a place of love, not fear. Grandad is gone – he is not here, I am safe and I cannot be abused anymore. And, I need to stop controlling, I am powerless of my daughter and what friends she makes- she has her own journey, her own experiences to learn about and from – I need to step back and trust she will be ok, I will always be there if she needs me.

I'm sure the mum will reply, I'm sure she has a perfectly good reason for not yet coming back to me like she just read it quickly and forgot. Maybe the Universe delayed her response so I could have this ‘lightbulb moment’ and write this blog. I read last night, ‘How can I first serve myself,’ and then ‘how can I extend it to others,’ I like this, it sits better with me. So, here I am, writing this to serve myself, to give myself some clarity in hope that my anxiety will lift. And in turn, I hope that one of you that reads this will relate and helps you  For as a Course in Miracles says, ‘To teach is to learn.’ 

Monday, 25 September 2017

The Feeling Frenzy From Sharing My Story

I have been insanely angry the last few days, maybe the last week. I am feeling hemmed in, trapped and own my own. My eldest daughter has started school, there has been a complete overhaul of our routine, and whilst, she is enjoying school, most days she has cried and clung onto me at the gate. After school, she is screaming, crying and being rude – a complete personality change and is also not sleeping well. My husband and I are arguing about how we should handle the sleep, and I am resentful of him because as far as I can see, his routine hasn’t changed and it’s me having to handle EVERYTHING.

Really, what I think is going on is that my mum and sister have decided not to read the blog I posted on Purple Friday, my child sex abuse story that I shared on Facebook and Twitter. It was the first time I had gone so public; all my close friends know about the abuse, but they didn't quite know the depths it has affected me, and many other friends, old school friends and colleagues didn't know about my past at all. The response I got was amazing, messages and messages of love and support, words admiring my strength and courage. All this love has been overwhelming, as a survivor I have never had a very high opinion of myself and this is a strong reminder from the Universe that I am loveable and am loved.

Just some of the messages I received on Facebook

But, the big BUT is the people I want to see me for who I am are my mum and my sister and they just can’t. My mum sent me an email saying that she supported me in sharing my story, but I have no idea if she has read it, I suspect not. My sister has been clearer and told me outright she won’t be reading it. It hurts, and it hurts hard – a massive black splodge right in my heart.  

I kind of understand why they don’t want to read it, can’t. When dad’s alcoholism came to an end, they both shut the door on it, never to be opened again. I have taken the completely opposite approach, I unlocked the door and have been rummaging in there ever since, inspecting and cleaning every last corner. They can’t really understand the route I have taken, I can’t really understand theirs. But there it is, and I need to accept and respect their way as much as I would like them to accept and respect mine.

It might take a few weeks though, right now my ego is shouting ‘fine, fuck off then. This was huge going public, HUGE and if you can’t see what an amazing daughter and sister you have then fine, just fuck off.’ It feels good to get that out and I know the feelings will subside. Even though it can be painful, I want my family in my life. We have been through so much all together, I am not about to give up on them now. And as a good friend said to me last week, they are just in self-preservation.

But, I think there is something else tied into all of this. All my hard work as a teenager, my dedication to my studies, my perseverance on the sports field, my devotion to my sister was all for them, my mum and dad – in hope that they would notice me, maybe in hope that dad would get sober.

Craving my family’s love and attention this week has triggered me back into my perfect 16 to 18-year-old self.  I have been working my arse off trying to be the perfect mum with her daughter going to school, the perfect wife at home doing more and more chores, and working so hard on my recovery so that they will finally say ‘we are so proud of you, you are amazing.’ But, it's futile, maybe they do think this, but I am only harming myself working harder and harder in hope that that sentence one day falls out of their mouths. And if it did, would it really make me feel that much better. I doubt it.

Me at age16 or 17

I pulled an Angel Card last night, it was Peace & Harmony, Archangel Raguel – the interpretation told me ‘to stand down from any conflicts that are going on in my life right now.’ It is spot on, there is conflict between me and my mum and me and my sister, bubbling under the surface, but I also realise this morning that I am in conflict with myself, believing that everything is my responsibility. I have forgotten this week that I have a partner, that my daughters are not just mine, they are ours and that I am not responsible for everything to do with school, I don’t have to do all the housework and I don’t have to crack my daughters sleep issues. Just like solving dad’s alcoholism and looking after my little sister was never my responsibility. 

The Angel Card from Kyle Gray Angel Prayers Oracle Cards

Last night as I meditated, I sent love to my mum and sister and now I send love to me too. I don’t have to be perfect to be loved - I am loved just being me. Holding onto this huge tangled ball of over-responsibility doesn’t serve me, it only harms me and others as it does not give them the space to heal and grow either. It is time to drop the ball.