I will, always.

I’m into Whitney Houston at the moment.

I was driving along to meet my very gorgeous friend during the week and had ‘I will always love you’ on LOUD! I drove through my small town towards the traffic lights passing the painted white houses and the restaurant with the blue chairs outside.

And Iiiiiiiiii will always love you…..I SING out loud, I even dance a little in my seat Also in those few seconds I have my usual little day dream while singing. Though this one was an extension of my normal one. The daydream is the one where I have had secret singing lessons and all of the sudden I can actually sing because I do know I can’t sing even though I sound like I CAN sing when I’m singing along. I know I can’t because I’ve done that thing where I’ve pressed mute during the song and I actually then hear my cat like screeches rather than the Whitney esque tone that I think I sound like.

Anyway, in my little day dream I’ve had some singing lessons and I’ve applied for X factor secretly and I get to audition for Simon and I go through the story in my head and the fact he rolls his eyes at my age and then I start to sing and the whole judging panel smile in awe of this Welsh beautiful perfect sweet voice and they get up on their feet and the audience is dancing and it ends with a standing ovation. In addition, in this little day dream, it’s televised too and I imagine the faces of my family and friends watching me on TV, shocked at my new singing talent.

We all have these daydreams right??!!

Anyway I drive towards the traffic lights, I’m so excited to see my mate – we haven’t had a proper catch up in months and she’s one of those that just makes you feel good inside, you can cry with, you can laugh until you almost pee yourself with, you can talk politics or talk lipstick with. I’m singing along and I’m going through the X factor dream and I catch myself thinking, I’m happy. I’m feeling happy.

I am happy much of the time I’m sure but I rarely catch myself knowing and recognising that happy feeling in my belly.

BANG!

The whole world stops for the tiniest of seconds and there it is.

GUILT.

This won’t be pleasant to read but I say it as it is – a voice comes into my head and immediately tells me off. Don’t you remember your daughter has died?… it says. Don’t you remember you are a bereaved mother? How can you be happy? How could you feel happy? Don’t you remember??

It feels like my life has stopped, it really does.

It feels like a breezeblock has been placed on my head and it has the word GUILT painted on it.

I can’t hear Whitney any more as my happiness drains from my body through my feet making a dart for the car door, I almost forget where I am but I realise I’m at the traffic lights and it has just turned green, my concentration is poor for a portion of that second because I think I can turn right but just realise in time I can’t and I have to give way to oncoming traffic. Because I’m distracted away from guilt for that split second, I gain a little bit of energy and I have slightly dented GUILT because I had to remove focus from it to concentrate on driving. It’s all it takes, it has taken many years of practicing to get here but I have just gained the upper hand against guilt because I have taken away it’s power by focussing on something else. With that I gain momentum and I kill the last bit of guilt by turning up the volume to the highest level, imagine myself back on the X factor stage and continue to sing (using that term very loosely) out loud along with Whitney.

And I… will always love you, ooh…..Will always love you…You….My darling, you…

I will always love you. We always will love them. Those we loved who aren’t here. We will always love them. We are also allowed to be happy.

Guilt 0. Happy 1.

Happy Sunday XXX

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Gremlins

**This post contains swearing**

 

I like to think of myself as a positive thinking person despite spending  about 30 years living with anxiety. Actually make that my whole life. My first 15 years were spent being petrified of what my dad was going to do next… get another gun out.. lock us in the house… hit us… throw something at the wall… torment us… smash something… shout.. lock himself in his room for 3 days….(I’ve revisited and considered deleting this bit of the blog ten times but decided not to) …so those 15 years then led on to a life battle with anxiety and looking back it’s not hard to imagine why. I rarely talk about that abuse in detail. Ridiculously I still even now worry about repercussions. Crazy.

I spent ten years from about 16 to 26 fighting debilitating panic attacks… mostly on my own. I had really got to grips with my anxiety thanks to amazing books and my work at Women’s Aid…until I lost Tes… having spent the last few years in a war with A I’m beginning to feel more ‘normal’ but it’ll always bubble.   I like to think I’m a fighter… trying to make the most of every day. Getting up every day after losing your child is really hard. Walking around with a permanent pain the size of a boulder inside your chest is exhausting but I’ve managed it and I’m proud of that strange achievement.

But… I caught myself this week walking around just going to do some shopping and I caught it.. that bloody voice in your head that’s not happy you’ve managed to keep going…that you’ve managed today…. do you know what it was saying??!.. you’re such a fuck up.. . you’re so fucked up.

For a few seconds my subconscious mind nods along in agreement but I stop in my tracks and question this voice…Excuse me?!? Fucked up. Who are you calling fucked up?!? What even is fucked up and more importantly why the hell am I telling myself horrible things about me when there’s enough of that going on in the world without me adding to it.

So.. just a little reminder really to watch out for that gremlin in your mind that tries to ruin your day or tell you you’re not good enough … watch out for it and when you hear it .. well…tell it to fuck off and remind yourself 3 good things about yourself and kick arse for the rest of the day!

Happy Sunday.. x x

FYI

I contemplated not writing a blog this week and that can only mean one thing – I’m not doing too good.  Those close to me often message me after I write a blog like this having no real idea that I am feeling down and I (of course I do) feel guilty about that too!!  I also feel guilty for over sharing on here and I question myself a lot about why I do it.  I know most of my friends and family don’t do it, I know lots of people that suffer in complete silence about really serious things and tell almost no-one about it.  Writing about yourself can feel very self-centred but I hope that by writing when I’m happy, when I’m sad and when I’m just OK means it’s alright and even perhaps may make it ok for one of you to share something with someone in you life, if you want to.

My blog has been a window to talk about all kinds of things and if I only ever wrote about the positive bits it wouldn’t be right, life is not like that.

So at times this week,  I’ve been feeling sad, overstretched, stressed, confused, anxious, tearful.  I have been doing quite a lot of self-searching lately, it feels like I’m looking into myself properly for the first time in years.  Anyway I am here, I am going to be ok and I have still written my blog x

FYI. You won’t get your time again.

I sent this in a text this week during a deliberation of discussions around our jobs, our happiness, conformity, searching for happiness, financial strains, making do.

I am reading the new book by Ruby Wax  – How to be Human… I’m a few chapters in.. I’ve just covered evolution and it is truly mind blowing to be reminded that we evolved from fungus!!  That explains a lot about some people 🙂

In it she explains that evolution is full of trade offs. One example being that the giraffe evolved to have a long neck to be able to eat the leaves that nobody else could at the top of the trees, however the trade off is that if they fall over, they can’t get up again.

It made me think about our trade offs, we have evolved into the most amazing intelligent multi faceted beings yet with it we are sometimes wreaking carnage on our minds and in our world.  Like the giraffe, we have evolved, we have large brains and complex minds, the trade off perhaps is now we find ourselves in a world of so much choice and distraction we have lost what’s important by searching for more. We have traded away a simple life for one of debt, overworking and diversions.

It got me thinking, what are we all searching for?  What is it that would stop us to keep looking for something else.  I stopped and sat in the park and thought if I had a choice right now to do anything, what would I want to do?

I know immediately what it is.  It’s to sit wrapped up on a North Wales beach in the Autumn, listening to the sea and watching the waves crash, putting my fingers through the sand, picking up shells, watching my dogs with the breeze lightly sweeping over my face, holding hands.

It has taken me this many years to realise what is really important and what I really want in life.  What makes me happy in life and what I really need are free.  To everyone.  Love, friendships, stars, the sea, meaningful conversations, flowers, fields, seashells, walks, rivers, wildlife, trees, smiles, kindness, respect, honesty. All free.

This brings me back to the title of my blog. It was in response to a message I received that started with… if I had my time again.. . to which I said….

FYI. You are never going to have this time again.

So…. this is my time.  This is your time.

Eat the juicy leaves at the top of the tree ….and try not to fall over.

The best things in life really are free.

Happy Sunday XXX

 

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Be more.

I’ll firstly apologise to all the humans in my life for leaving them out of this blog, mostly!

On Wednesday this week I felt pretty blue, crap actually. I got home after 14hrs had passed already into the day, I’d been up since 5am. I was tired. I was battered and a bit bruised (psychologically). All I wanted to do was get in, do what I had to do and get to bed.

 

When I drive home, before I get to where I park I have to pass the porch on my house, I always look in and there they lie, waiting. My two dogs. I am immediately lifted, I grab the keys to the house, I occasionally remember to put the car in gear (how it hasn’t ended up in the road I have no idea!) and grab my unicorn flask, my love island water bottle and my blue rucksack covered with birds, I throw this over my shoulder and walk to the house.

 

They’ve started to recognise my car, the sound of it I guess, the routine of it stopping and then my footsteps. They are now on four legs and I say through the glass – HELLO! Now I have verified my presence they dance around crazily, on two legs mostly and I can’t quite get in because they are jumping on me, they are squealing, they are besides themselves that I am home. In five seconds I am made to feel like the most special person in the whole wide world.

 

I sit down and I let them mouth their little teeth on my wrists, for some reason they like to do this then they’ll get a toy and show it to me. Their bums waggle 100mph, this goes on for a few minutes before I get ready to take them out which gets them even more excited of course. We go out for an hour every morning, the most beautiful part of the day where there’s almost nobody else around. In the evening due to the long day I often take them over to the field for their favourite thing ever to do. Ball catching, ball chasing, ball chewing.

 

I fear the neighbours probably think I have lost it a bit as I get a bit over excited during this half hour of the day. Inevitably my work will have been stressful – productive, rewarding, even fun – but inevitably stressful. So this is where I wind down, with my dogs, in a field, red ball thrower in hand.

 

Towards the end when they get tired we play ‘catch’ and every time they catch the ball I put my hands up in the air and shout ‘wooooooooo well done’ and laugh out loud as they proudly bring the ball back to me, wagging their tail feverishly and dropping the ball at my feet to do it all again.

 

This is the time of day when I often feel my best and it sets me up for the evening. The stress has almost vanished, replaced with – well a whole lot of love!

 

I got my first dog just a few weeks after Tesni died. I felt guilty about it (of course). You can’t replace anyone. You certainly can’t replace your child. But having my new furry tiny pooch made me get up in the morning, it made me walk, it made me care, it gave me focus, she needed me, she wouldn’t hurt me, she loved me. So much.

 

As I watch them jump to catch the ball and as I catch myself giggling out loud in the field, it made me think about love. I love them so very much and I realise that is hard for some people to understand, but I do. It got me thinking, what is love?

 

I made a list in my head of why I love the dogs and as I got through them I realised it isn’t dissimilar to love in relationships, the reason the dogs are so happy is not by chance, the reason I love them doesn’t just happen when you get your furry friend, the two-way healthy love bond is only there because of a whole lot of work.

 

The ingredients needed for love whether animal or human are the same.

 

Love them truly and they will love you back. Want the very best for them and they will protect you. Be kind to them and they will never hurt you. Look after them while letting them be free and they will respect you. Provide them with safety and they will do everything they can to keep you safe. Be loyal to them and they will never distrust you.

Communicate softly and they will reward you with eyes full of love. Have patience and they will grow. Be fun and they will smile (with their tail!) back at you.

 

Because they know I love them so much I can also get away with the odd time of being too tired for that second or third walk and they’ll forgive me because on the whole they know I love them and every day I do my best for them to be happy.

 

Love more, love honestly, love with kindness, love without selfishness, want the best for your loved one, be kind, look after them, let them be free, provide safety, be loyal, have patience and most importantly have fun, ‘whoop’ out loud in a field, dance in the kitchen, take long walks by the sea, respect, talk, listen, smile.

 

Let’s all ‘be more dog’!

 

Happy Sunday xx

Rising fog.

I’ve always been a bit of an all or nothing kind of person.

At 18 when I decided to go vegetarian, I stayed vegetarian. I decided I want to be able to run at least 3 miles in one go 4 years ago so I set up a running group and now I can. I left my job I loved, working with women and for women, so I set up an online women’s group instead eight years ago so I could do ‘something’ in that community, it’s still going with 600 members. I woke up one morning in my 20s and wanted to buy a green and white Citroen 2 CV and by the weekend I had one (who knew they had colon gears?!). At 16 I decided to go to France in a lorry with a man I didn’t know to be a nanny, there was nothing my poor mum could do to stop me. At 21 I decided one day I no longer wanted to be a house owner and work in an office, I wanted to travel, six months later I was on a plane to Sydney for 12 months. Last year I decided I wanted to move to another town, two days later the house was sold, I’ve lived here in the new town for a year now. Basically once I put my mind to something I tend to get on with it.

Something else I’ve recently realised I ‘put my mind to’ is having a glass of wine or two after work. I almost never get drunk (hate the feeling!), I don’t crave a drink in the morning, I never pass out. I’m just joining the masses, being sophisticated, ending the day with a glass of vino. Right?

All fine. Until major trauma occurs. Mine being 5 years ago when I lost my lovely Tes. Only having a drink at weekends extended the weekend from Thursday to Sunday, then that extended to include a Monday (EVERYONE deserves a drink on a Monday right?), before long the ‘gap’ changed to ‘as long as the sauvignon blanc was poured after 6pm’, this was also perfectly acceptable.

It’s been about two years where I began to realise that I’d messed up my relationship with the beautiful pale yellow liquid waiting for me in the fridge. I began to begrudge nights that meant I had to drive, I fell asleep almost every night watching the TV, I woke up most nights at 3am and I have survived for the last five years on as little as 3 hours sleep most nights.

The problem is I am VERY good at being able to carry on with little sleep and I am VERY good at being able to function at a high level during the day when inside I feel crap. I think this is partly due to the fact that after losing Tes my heart is broken and I have found a way to carry on the day job with it in two pieces because there is no other choice.  So coping with little sleep is easy compared to coping with a broken heart.

ANYWAY – I have stopped drinking entirely, not sure how long for, no goals really, I just know it had become a bit too much of a habit so I’ve replaced it with hot chocolate and Hagen daaz ice cream!

Comments from other people have not been very favourable – ‘boring’ being the most common. Weird isn’t it, if you give up cigarettes everyone throws a party but if you give up one of the most addictive harmful drugs that exists you are cast aside like a leper!!!

In my first two weeks some remarkable things have happened already, firstly it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Secondly I am SLEEPING!!!!!!!!!! And I MEAN sleep. Since I lost Tes I thought I didn’t sleep well due to grief but what I hadn’t realised is …..what I was doing to dampen down the grief then led me not to sleep well. I put my head on the pillow now and I wake up six hours later and I haven’t woken up in-between!!!! I have more energy, I am much less anxious and I have more money in my pocket!

With it though my at times foggy brain coping with a hangover or just over indulgence has suddenly become shiny, clean, transparent and with it I’ve had to painfully look back at things and with it experienced an emotion that I try not to – regret. Those regrets are my own personal ‘stuff’ that I must find a way of dealing with but I realise that the biggest arguments, rows, difficulties and bad decisions I’ve made over the years have always been when I and/or others have been drinking. It hurts a lot to think of some of the bad decisions I’ve made, the effect on our lives and there’s nothing I can do really about these regrets apart from being a grown up and accepting I can’t change anything in the past.

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you, I struggled with whether I should write this, it’s not easy to put your life out there at times, there’s a lot that I keep to myself for fear it’s just ‘too much’ (believe it or not!) but I know that other people out there struggle with their ‘coping mechanisms’ too be it cigarettes, prescription drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, illegal drugs, eating, not eating etc. I am accessing some online support too during this latest change in my life where I’ve thrown away my safety blanket, It’s not simply that easy to just ‘give up’ for most people but perhaps whatever you want to change you can try to start with today…

Happy Sunday to you all x

Bubbling

This is one of those blogs that I get a bit nervous of putting ‘out there’. Do I. Don’t I? The main reason I think it’s important that I do is that my life isn’t just one of beautiful walks, beautiful people and beautiful unplanned meetings that lead me to write. This is a blog about life, life after a massive trauma, it is about the ‘journey’ and it would be wrong if I just wrote about the turquoise skies and luscious lakes and ignored the clouds of stormy days.

If you’ve read my blog you’ll probably know that after I lost Tes I was diagnosed with suffering with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can be hard to explain, people often say – yes I’m a worrier too. Anxiety isn’t like worrying. It’s a controlling tiny voice changing your reality, creating a world of danger that doesn’t truly exist. In truth anxiety had probably been bubbling due to issues from a long time ago for a long while. It manifested itself in my late teens with severe panic attacks that lasted for years and that I mostly hid from those around me. That was a very bad move I realise now. In fact, I did try to tell someone but I was told not to be silly, I think they hoped that if I didn’t talk about it that it’d go away. So I didn’t open up again for a long long time. Suffering and coping in silence.

When I learnt that panic attacks were just serotonin levels raising due to the flight or fight instinct within my body I was very annoyed that I’d spent years avoiding things I perceived as ‘dangerous’. These included any situation really that I thought I couldn’t easily get out of… like busy supermarkets or even sitting in the middle of a row at a concert. Buses. Ferries. Planes. I was the worlds best at coming up with excuses to avoid these situations. Eventually after about 5 years and learning about the physiological causes I managed to take control back (thanks in most part to the book I’ve talked about so much before – Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – it changed my life).

Anyway. Since I lost Tes over five years ago, after a 20 year absence, anxiety entered my life with a gigantic crushing wave. I spent the first two years fighting it off. Fighting it off with running. Fighting it off with wine. Fighting it off with mindfulness. Fighting it off with being ultra busy. It wasn’t getting me again. However. Get me it did. After two years of fighting, I was exhausted and admitted defeat. Ending up at the doctors before it had even opened one morning crying, asking for help. With that help medically and psychologically I learned to live alongside it and it stopped controlling me.

So it’s been a bit of a shock this last 2 weeks or so to realise that I’ve had a mini relapse. Anxiety has managed to seep it’s way in somewhere, only a little bit. More like a light drizzle than a full blown storm. I realised because I’d started worrying about strange things like where I’d normally walk and feel safe I’ve started walking in busier places again, just incase. When I’d go to sleep for a few hours (I don’t sleep much now anyway) I’d wake up at 2am and convince myself someone could try to break in. When my son was picked up to go to footie instead of watching something on tv or writing, I sat imagining the worst until he came back through the door. And I start thinking I’m getting ill. A lot. Again.

The best thing is, since I talked to someone about this 3 years ago, I’m not scared of it any more, I know I will get better and because of that I’m nowhere near as ill as I was a few years ago because I’m not frightened and I’m also not pretending that I’m fine. In fact I am actually genuinely feeling pretty much very fine. I’m thriving in my new job, I’ve lots of plans and holidays coming up, I’ve a lovely life. That’s the thing with anxiety (and I’m sure other mental health issues) it can seep in whenever it pleases at times but by talking about it with someone we trust and who can help we can also eliminate it as we would a headache with paracetamol and some rest, we wouldn’t ignore a migraine so why ignore your mental health

As I write this I know some people will think I’m exposing myself but someone else will, I hope, read it and feel some hope of their own.

Most importantly for me .. I can talk about it.. to you! That helps more than you know x

Thanks for listening.

Happy Sunday

Xx

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5 years and two days.

One of the hardest things I find about meeting new people is waiting for them to ask me the inevitable question of. How many children do you have? Even now. 5 years and 1 day later, I dread it. Not for the reasons you may think. I’m entirely happy and comfortable to talk about my daughter Tes. Alive and also not. My dread is for them. The question they think only can have happy connotations is met with.. well.. death. And that’s tough for them.

I have started a new job 3 weeks ago and of course my new colleagues unfortunately have had to hear this sad story and I feel so sorry for them as they try to find the words. They’ve managed beautifully I have to say.

As I left on Friday I carried the gorgeous orchids that my new colleagues had bought me as a gift in recognition of the anniversary date we lost Tes. The 21st of April. Someone passed me on the stairs on my way out and cheerfully asked me … What have you done to deserve them? I always think about lying at times like this. To protect them. But I don’t lie. So I have to tell him the truth.

I dont know how you deal with that. He said.

I found myself replying and saying something that I hadn’t before. Not in the last 5 years and 1 day.

I dont know how to answer that, I said.

And what I meant was. Neither do I. I also don’t know how I deal with losing Tes. I have no idea how. I do know that many many people deal with loss and also get up and also put their mascara on and also get pleasure from wearing their newly bought shirt. That others turn the music up loud and sing along and that others go out for dinner and drink a glass of their favourite wine. I know others too still love the beach and their mountain walks. Still giggle with friends. Still find a lot to live in this life.

But I don’t know how.

I do know it’s wrapped up in immense guilt. I do know I do all those things and I also have a weight that feels like it’s as heavy as a house right there in my heart of pure and utter grief and pain… that sits just by the side of where my immense love for Tes still is. Always will be. I know now that massive heavy stone of loss will never go.

But I know too that despite it, I will get up tomorrow. I will get up on the day that’ll make it 5 years and 2 days. I will walk my dogs. I will choose a lipstick. I will drive to work. I will text friends and arrange to meet. I will look forward. I will. I’ll go the cinema and to that gig and to see that comedienne. I’ll meet those friends for afternoon tea and go on that holiday near the sea. I’ll celebrate birthdays and I’ll meet friends for the weekend.

I will look forward. I don’t know how. But I will.

And she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

We miss you Tes. Every bit of every second of the last 5 years and 1 day. My 14 year old and 350 days old beautiful gorgeous fun busy clever crazy knowledgeable sensible organised human being that I was and am still immensely proud to call my daughter. I miss you more than I could ever write, even if I had a million words.

Xx