Boundaries and Recovery

I had a revelation this morning as I was waking up, that wonderful place between sleep and wake, I love it there, I seem to get a lot of insight when I am listening.

I had been dreaming about an old boyfriend, and saw his disrespect for me, something that for me at the time was perfectly normal. In the dream, we had arranged to meet up after a party where we both were and all of a sudden some friends of his had turned up and he said sorry I am going with them……..not would you like to come nothing, I was  just dropped.  Somehow I just accepted it, just like I had accepted it most of my life.  Even though I was so angry inside I did not have the words to say how I felt and this is not ok, and I realised in that moment, this is where my addictions come in.  It was a real moment for me.  I would stuff the anger with booze, food and then become passive aggressive and as a child this is when I would self harm, I had no words to say this is not ok for me, they were buried way deep inside and for some reason they still are to a large extent.

I am realising this behaviour is a huge part of my depression and my mental ill health, I had no way of really understanding how to deal with this. No words. My parents were pretty unreliable, my father was busy working and often away and anytime I challenged my mother on her lateness, which was most of the time, she would always put it back onto me, saying something like ‘I am here now, what is your problem’ and I would be left with it.  Now I see the problem is she never called to say she was late, she just turned up and that was supposed to be ok, now I am seeing it is not ok, but all this time I have thought it was me and I have chosen so many people to replicate the same thing.

I am begining to realise the extent of my co-dependency, it is definately at the root of my addictions.  I am only now getting to see my part in things, my part is not putting up with it, setting boundaries and if necessary walking away.  I realise that, as I said to a friend of mine, we teach people how to treat us, if we respect ourselves then they will, it has taken me years to really understand these words and for them to go from my head to my heart.

I am finally learning a language that I lost.  I would blame others for treating me like shit, I had no idea I let them.  And likewise, others would blame me for treating them like shit and I would take it on, they would blame me for treading over their boundaries, I did not know they were there, they never told me.  I feel I have had a great epiphany this morning and I want to share it with you, I think the world is going to become a much easier place for me as I am learning that maybe, just maybe all that shit was not mine, I could have said not thanks, please take it elsewhere, this public convenience is actually closed.

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This includes all forms of violence, be it physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual or financial.

In 2009, I made a documentary of myself interviewing my own Domestic Abuse Outreach worker, I wanted to share this to give an insight into the depths that the abuse can go and to show that actually, so often we ourselves have no idea why we actually stay.  If you know anyone who needs help, please share this.

Thank you.

My Dream

Welcome to the section for Ifs Buts and Maybes.

This is the beginning of a dream for me of writing my journey and sharing it with the world.

The blog has been set up to introduce you to my writing, share excerpts of my book with you as it develops, before I am published.

I am making a movie from the book.

Thank you for visiting,

Penny

I have set up a Social Enterprise entitled Addicts4Addicts please feel free to visit our sit

About the Author

Thank you for visiting the site of ‘Ifs, Buts and Maybes’.

About the Author.

I have had a passion for writing for many years and been avidly putting my feelings and dreams, life experience and thoughts on paper for most of my life, it was a way for me to release what was in my head to not feel so alone and distressed, it was the voice I had lost speaking out for a long time.

I had the priviledge of realising my dream of going to film school, in 1993. I went as a mature student, inspired by a friend of mine who died of Aids in 1990. I went on to win a fuji scholarship for Producing in my second year and in my third made a film which was sent to film festivals and taken up by the British Council, but all was not well and I ended up in the doctors with her asking me some pretty frank questions and my life went into free-fall.  My drinking got out of control, my eating went all over the place and my relationship history began to look pretty bleak.  I needed help.

I began frantically writing out my thoughts because I did not know how to connect with my feelings, the only time I got remotely close was two thirds of the way down a bottle of very cheap red wine……….and when REM sang everybody hurts and everybody cries I found myself asking how, I was numb, and I was desperate.

This blog book is about my journey into recovery from a place of bewilderment and an absolute lack of understanding of what was happening to me and why………..I am still taking baby steps but I am closer in understanding than ever before and that is because some very kind people have gone out of their way to help me and through a lot of adversity.

I have a faith now which I never had before, the God word was a sure way to get me running in the opposite direction, now I am building a relationship, slowly, with a God of my understanding.  Trusting has never been something I did, and still isn’t to a large extent, but I am learning it takes two and it takes time. It takes the kindness of someone to go out of their way to see me,to come walk along side me and slowly help me out of a living hell and for this I am truely grateful.

I am grateful to my son, who through it all has shown me love, and who has taught me the real meaning of unconditional love and who respects me because he says that eventhough I had problems he always knew he was loved and I was always there for him, so I am not to beat myself up………what more could I ask for.

I hope you will stay with me as I slowly reveal my story and please feel free to leave me a comment.

Penny

Adele – Someone Like You

I have been prompted to write today for several reasons. One because I miss it and have now committed myself to write one day of the weekend, I have to for myself, it is so good for my soul to connect with the creative part of me. Secondly because of a song I put onto my Facebook and when my friend Matt saw it he suggested I put it on here. When we discussed it, it became apparent how poignant it is to my story, no wonder I love it so much. It sends tingles down my spine and brings tears to my eyes when I listen to Adele singing ‘Someone like you’

I have also been following  Paulo Coelho recently and a line that came up from him on Facebook last week was ‘Don’t allow your wounds to transform you into someone you are not’. This cut to the quick with me, together with this song, it  reminds me that there is healing to be done and that I have allowed my wounds to transform me into someone I am not, which I feel very sad about but  I am also grateful that I am able to realise this and change before it is too late.  The grief that has come with the decisions I made a long time ago, is finally being addressed, I now have people around me who are able to hold me as I face it. Thank you.

It has been a long time since I have written here and I have really missed it.  I have been so busy trying to sort other things out to give myself time to write here, and it has taken me away from my absolute love, writing, somehow it connects me with me and in these moments I feel so at one it is a beautiful feeling and one that I need and want to tend to more.

I have been getting on with the book, the first three chapters, which are coming along nicely. I am very blessed to have two amazing people helping me, one with the basic actual editing and support and another who is a writer himself and who gives me an overview and is helping prepare the chapters to send to Agents, so things are moving forward, fingers crossed.

I have also been busy trying to organise my time between setting up a Social Enterprise for Addicts in recovery entitled Addicts4Addicts -this will  help with more support for those struggling and in need, which comes from my journey; whilst taking care of my own recovery and mental health, and writing. It is a juggle, but I am getting there, some days are better than others, of course.

Thanks to everyone who is following me and for your comments, please do keep coming back, I am sorry I have not been more attentive for some time.

Penny

The Christmas Hamper

I received an e-mail from a friend of mine in a form of a round robin, from a local charity urgently requesting food for their Christmas hampers for the poor……….it sent me all over the place.  It sent me to a place I have not forgotten, but also a place I find so painful I can barely go there, but a place nonetheless that was to change my life.

I rang the lady up and asked her how they did the hampers and found that I was really quite aggressive ‘I was one of those poor people six years ago and I would hate for anyone to feel as patronised as I did by the way I was presented with mine’. Not by that charity I hasten to add, but the word HAMPER was enough to send me into a really dark place.

I wanted to give money, so people could choose for themselves and not just have what thew have been given and chosen for by another person……….obviously there are a small few who would not use the money for Christmas, but who are we to tell people what to do with their Christmas money, who are we to bloody well tell them what to eat on Christmas day just because they are fucking poor…….I hate the patronising attitude attitude of the do gooders who cannot begin to imagine the humiliation of being in the place where things are so bad you can barely afford electricity and you have no idea how the hell it got so bad.

 

Six Christmas’s ago, well just before Christmas, November 17th, I was baptised in the Holy Spirit, not a religious thing for me, a cleansing of the old and a welcoming of the new and as I gave my talk I talked about the poverty, the homelessness and the fear thad had been upon my son and I for so many years………….I asked God to change my life, little did I know that he tests you first, really tests you, well he did me, that is for sure.  Not long after my baptism I had to cash in an insurance policy I had had for my son, in case I died, for some reason I was constantly convinced it was only a matter of time before I died and he could not be left with nothing.  Alas, I could not pay my bills so I cashed it in and felt very clearly that I was being told, in my prayer and meditation time, to give loads of  the money away to a local homeless charity………..as I walked up to the door, and handed over the cash in an envelope I knew it was right but I felt so scared as we had virtually nothing for Christmas.  I had asked my house group leader if he could ask the paster to help, I was sobbing my heart out in church, maybe I should not have done it, why won’t they help me?  The paster refused to help me, I had said nothing about giving away the money, he simply refused to help us.  A few days later, the door bell went and there were these two, young, not particularly attractive, thank goodness, women, who were giving out hampers from our church to the poor………..a small cardboard box, covered in shitty Christmas paper and whatever was inside of it covered with poppers and paper streamers.

What was below them was nothing short of patronising in my opinion and I could barely contain myself as I stared at this fucking cardboard box and looked up at their cheery faces and thought you have no idea what this feels like……….I had hit rock bottom.  As I peeled away the crap on the top of the contents, below was the smallest Christmas pudding, stuffing, alcohol free drink, a few other odds and sods and I looked at them and said ‘nice to have all the stuffing and trimmings……….but you have completely missed the point, what am I supposed to put it in……….I can’t afford a fucking turkey’.  My life was severely in complete chaos and I have never known lonliness like it for a very long time.

Now, here I am , standing on this woman’s door step, having driven here in a wonderful car, I have a great home and my son has had a good education and he knows who his father is and I am again offering money to help the poor.  It is Christmas and I can barely pay my bills, will have little for me once it is all done, but again it feels like the right thing to do.  Again I was feeling irresponsible as I went to her door, shaking and thinking maybe this is not right, but I knew it was.  Gratitude came over me as I looked at what I have, and we are all called to give God the cream not the dregs of our income.  As I was talking to the lady on her doorstep and explaining to her the importance of the ‘Hamper’ and where I had been and where I am now, she said to me that one of the other women had said to her if we do not get enough food donations we are going to need money to help all the people.  She then went on to say that this lady had a direct line with God and it always comes………….and here you are!  I said you can tell her, I have a direct line too and that is why I am here and that is why we all need to listen to ‘our marching orders’, no matter how scary they are, and  believe me, I am scared right now, but I trust!

I went on to explain to her about my life and how it had been for me, I asked her to please ensure that the Hampers were full of wonderful things and that they do have a turkey, and if not to please sort one out, or that the people may be vegetarian. To maybe make arrangements with Sainsburys, Tescos, M&S and Waitrose to give things to help.  I also told her how it really felt being in such a desperate position that taking handouts can feel so humiliating if given in a patronising way.  She said she had really never thought about things in the way I am telling her. I felt so tearful sharing this moment with her, she was very kind and open, I had never shared these feelings so openly before. I went on to tell her  that I am now writing a book about my experiences, writing my way out of poverty and she said ‘you must write your book, people  need to know just how it feels and if you have not been there, you do not really know’.  ‘I will’ I said, and thanked her.

Between December 1999 and today our life has changed, I was blessed with a private education for my son, a car, a wonderful home when we had barely two weeks to find somewhere to live a friend stepped in and helped us, we had two weeks to go before we could so easily have been on the streets or living in a complete shit hole that to be honest would have not helped with my mental health at all.  How could I do nothing to help people worse off than myself?

These were all answers to prayer and a belief that if you do ask, it is given, it is just that when you are so overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness it is almost impossible to believe that things can get any better, and in that moment, I find I have to find it in me somehow, remember what God has done for me so far and believe it will be ok and all the testing I am begining to see, I have always been rewarded ten fold, when I listen and do what feels completely mad, it has been to prove my trust.

This story was written in 2005, our lives have been up and down ever since, and sometimes I find it so hard to believe that there is a bigger plan, but always without exception, God has moved in mysterious and wonderful ways and it has been five years since I wrote this story, things have been really tough again and then another situation comes along and we are ok…….I am begining to learn that God really does know what we need. My son now has a full time job and is really doing so well and I am writing this, and doing other things to help me get better.  I have a home that I love and people around me, who actually care about me.  I am begining to realise I am not driving the bus and I could never imagine what is coming next, so I just keep going one day at a time.

BBC Competition-My Story

I have had a hell of a few days and sorry not to have written for a good two weeks, I have been up and down and for some reason so shut off did not share it, I will get there.

I went to see two old friends in London on Sunday, it was absolutely beautiful and everything I needed.  I felt loved, connected with a part of me that I have not felt connected to for so long, those familiar smells, the hug that feels so comfortable and to be listened to and supported and to laugh with people who just know me I needed it.

My friends woke up parts of me that only they can, because they were there and we had been through it together.  One of them I had not seen for 27 years and the other 5, somehow it didn’t matter, the love and affection was there like yesterday.  Generosity of spirit, going out of their way, just because, it is food for my soul.  One friend reminded me of just how spiteful my mother was, how nasty, how competetive with me, how she always put me down, never had a nice word to say about me and just how venimous she was, I am so grateful to hear this, because I thought it was me famiimagining it.  I have a lot of healing to do around this but conversations like that, amongst love and support, laughter and generosity make the healing possible I have a witness and as Alice Miller says, in her book The Drama of the Gifted Child, we all need one.

The reason I have titled this blog with the BBC Competition is because there are some very moving stories on it that I thought you may want to see, about the effects of child abuse on three different women. There is only 4 days left to view them so hopefully some of you will get a chance to see these amazing stories.

The last few days-19th September 2010

I have had the most incredible days, this week has been very very powerful.  I feel that there have been so many forces working with me as I get up, pray, ask God for guidance and hand my day over, to be greeted by hunches and ideas and following them.  I have sent the synopsis and query letter off to an Agent I would love to work with, I have got closer to registering Addicts4Addicts just waiting for a few little things to be concluded.  I have finished shooting a documentary series for my blog www.PennySnowball.com and I am due to edit this coming week.

I have to say that some days I am full of fear about how things will turn out, financially I worry about making ends meet sometimes and yet somehow I believe that all this is for a reason and it will all work out.  I am on the cusp of change, I spoke to a friend the other day and said it feels like the sea has parted and it is my time to run through it before it closes again, like some third dimension of happenings, everything lined up for this moment to go, I have been working my socks off, but the time is there, so I am pushing through.  It feels like everything is being lined up, people are coming my way, thoughts, dreams and even what I am saying to friends and how I feel.  I just wanted to log this before I go for a few days into the editing room to complete the edit for In Search of My Mental Health, a series of interviews each lasting 10 minutes about a lot of the things I have done in the past 14 years to try and get the help I need.

I had not realised I have not written here for a while because I have been so busy and I miss writing on here, I feel like this is such a part of me and I really hope that soon enough I will be completing the book and getting publised.

I may well be writing again in diary form what is going on during the edit as it brings up so much emotion for me, the filming was intense I have had the most incredible days, this week has been very very powerful.

Thanks for following me, I love it when I read your comments so please do keep them coming.

Penny

My Hearing Test 7th December 2005 and again 31st August 2010

As I walked into the room to have my test, the door was closed and it was a padded, soundproof room.  Normally I would have panicked because I hate confined spaces, but for some reason, today was different.

As I sat down on the chair and looked at the equipment I said to the lady, this may sound a bit sick, but for some reason I am feeling really excited.  As I turned the chair round, away from the equipment waiting for the test to begin, I had a sense of myslef like I had not had for years, and for some reason I held my tummy, I felt like I was taking the child me for this test and I was the aduld with an invisible child on my knee, it felt quite wonderful an soothing and a great sense of peace came over me.

The test commenced and the sounds seemed quite clear most of the time and when it was finished I excitedly asked her what the findings were and she said she did not give those, I would get the results from the doctor.  So out ‘WE’ went and it was not long before the nurse called ‘us’ to go to the doctors room.

He looked at the test results and then looked at me, I saw a big dip in the reading on the graph and as I was glancing at it he said to me that there is one part of my hearing that has gone……….just one particular area, reassured me that I did not need a hearing and and I was not going deaf but he wondered how it happened.  Unsure of what I was being asked he went onto explain there that there are ony 3 ways this can happen.  1. A severe blow to the head and he went onto explain the other two but I had stopped listening by this point and my body went into shock, as he then asked have you ever had a sever blow to the head………I stared at him and began to sob……..repeatedly as a child, I was frequently bashed around the head from about the age of five……….his face smiled at first and then he suddenly looked very serious, I said, not the answer you were expecting on a Wednesday afternoon!  Of course I tried to make light of it for a second, old habits die hard, but then I took myself very seriously.  I had been in a car accident in 1990 but my head was not actually hit, the impact was quite bad on the care………..the other was loud music, and I did go clubbing a lot, but not enough to cause this kind of damage……….my world fell into place right in front of his eyes.  He shook his head ad I felt held as he looked at me and said I have to do something, but I am not sure what to do first, I need to help you.

It is the strangest feeling, my head has hurt a lot of my life, down the right sideand that is where the test showed the worst hearing damage.  I often ask my son and friends to repeat what they are saying, I find it hard to process things properly and often become confused with too much information and I was diagnosed with dyslexia during my time at film-school.  The doctor said he wanted to run a further test to check the pathways of hearing inside my brain and also to see how good at hearing and repeating sounds I was.  This was incredible to me….I have often been accused of not hearing what people say properly, the world has often felt like a confusing place and I have often felt so isolated inside my head because I could not understand things that were going on.  The other problem was that if I heard something someone said and it was different to what they said then I responded to what I heard this caused all sorts of problems, least of all the conflict in communication and me always being told I was wrong and that is not what the other person said at all.

I explained to him that during my dyslexia test the auditory processing was the main area of problems for me…….it is all begining to make sense.  He told me that this was a very old condition, it had been with me a long time.  He asked if I had had a private education, when I said yes until I was seven and then again at fifteen, he said that would make sense because this should have been picked up when you were very young, but in private education they do not do these tests……..he then said depending on the further tests I may well have to have a brain scan.  I said book me for one of those anyway…..I have wanted on of those since I was twelve years old, I have always known there was something wrong with my head, and thought when I was young that I would have a brain tumor or something because I knew I could not make connections, it was like a part of my brain was not connecting to the other and it has been so frustrating my entire life.  he said one step at a time but we may well have to do one.  He looked so kindly at me and I felt like I was really being taken care of and heard!

I have been going to my doctors on and off for ages now asking to have my ears tested for my hearing, my son has asked me if I am going deaf and as I say, several of my friends have to repeat themselves and i find processing information really hard sometimes.  My doctor has said there is no wax in there and nothing I can see blocking your hearing, so gave me some drops, they never helped me.  I used olive oil on cotton wool in my ears a lot as a child because I used to get such bad ear ache and going on a plane can be almost unbearable.  As the doctor said to me, this is inside of you, and we can’t see it………like most things that are going on in my life at the moment……people can’t see them!

As I got up to leave, he said to me, I see you are a film-maker, what types of film do you  make? I told him about the films I had made, one with women who are HIV positive and another project with young people about drugs and alcohol and another on bullying which is being used by Kidscape.  I told him about the fuji Scholarship and my graduation film being a black comedy, which I love to make, about a man in hospital with an embarrising illness.  I said it often works better telling sad stories with humour.  I said that I had not done any film making for a long time because I was a full time mother and could not seem to do both……..but I am writing a book which I will develop into a film, what is that about?  ‘The effects of child abuse……and how it can effect your life……..so this is really good material!’

I am still not sure what happened to me on that day, but suddenly it all feels different, I feel more whole than ever before, I am begining to look after myself, take care of me and it feels an internal connection is finally begining to be made.  I have felt so lost and now I don’t, not so much.  I can tell my son and my friends why I can’t hear them properly and they will understand, when I aske them to repeat themselves for the tenth time I will not feel stupid or mis-understood.  I can check with them what they mean by what they say and I can begin to understand that acturally I am ok, just as I am.  I can also know that I am not making it all up, the trauma of my childhood is slowly revealling itself and the damage it has done to my life, I will overcome it now I am begining to understand.

My therapist has also told me that trauma can cause us not to be able to make connections and slowly we will begin to repair the damage that is done, I am actually quite excited, but also very sad.

Tuesday 31st August 2010

I have been noticing my hearing deterioating again and asked my doctor to please get another test booked for me.  I went along to see the same doctor, five years later having had scans where my homeopath had to come along, hold my hand and give me lots and lots of homeopathy, I am so grateful to her, fortunately there was no brain damage, also we had to have another head scan and other tests all of which were showing that the level of depth to the loss of hearing was due to severe trauma to my head.  I remember when I first got sober and was in meetings for recovery, I would literally hold my head as I could almost hear the wack across my head, I was having flashbacks as I was waking up and thawing out, it was horrendous and I still get it sometimes today.  I used to hold my head and lean down on the table saying and crying my head, it is agony what is happening to me, it was a living hell.

I walked into the doctors and it was lovely to see him, we talked and I realised I had not been back for 5 years, I have actually been in a pretty difficult place these last years, and everything has slipped away in many ways.  I told him what the problems were and went for a test, the results…………it is much worse, particularly the right side and I now need a hearing test.  I was stunned and shocked and we talked again about the cause and he said that the impact of what happened to me as a child would have caused this, the repeated whacks round the head when she lost it have caused me to have a hearing aid, live a difficult life and you know what……….I hate her for it, I felt a deep sense of loss inside of me as he told me what would have to happen now, I wanted to sob and sob and sobb but somehow, it just could not come out, I was numb.

I left feeling bewildered, repeating the words this would have been caused by the blows to your head, no doubt about it, it made the weakness there and it is progressively getting worse.  I walked across the road, like I was in another world, shock, I rang a friend who tried to say oh well at least they have nice hearing aids these days……………why do people do that, try and smooth it over, I felt really angry and said that is not the point, I have just been told I am having to have a hearing aid because of the slaps around my head from my step-mother, bloody hell.  What to do, I cry and cry, I need a hug and I share it and eventually I will have got it out of my system and be able to move on, but right now, I feel utterly bewildered, angry, shocked and very very sad.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I needed to share it.  Some people think hitting children is ok, there are consequences to it, this is proof.

Touching My Own Void (final)15th January 2006

I realise I have always longed to be approved of, celebrated and be part of a loving family.  I have clung onto other families deluding myself I belonged, but on major days I was not invited, I had fantasised I belonged.  I have always found the world a painful place, the way I interpreted things in a way, but not everyone meant the things I thought they said and then I am told I am wrong and this just adds to my self loathing and actually it is how I feel. Always being wrong or feeling I am wrong never , never feeling loved, it is crap.

I have also to give up the fantasy about my mother and as my therapist says, it takes courage.  I do not have a mother, I have a woman who gave birth to me, but she does not mother me.  I now have a biological mother and I have been looking for a psychological mother my entire life.  The to will have to be seperate people and I have to stop going back to my mother expecting her to be able to mother me, she cannot and it damages me everytime.  I have to give up the fantasy that my mother can give me what I need if only I am good enough.  How can I be good enough for a woman who does not like themselves that much?  The venim that has come out of my mother’s mouth towards me has almost destroyed me and it is also a constant rejection as I constantly try to get her to love me.  I have now given that up too.  I have not ever been able to see it objectively, now I am learning.  if someone critises me, I am wrong, until now I have not ever been able to grab the concept that is is about them, that is why I have found the world so painful.  It started when I was so young it is not surprising.  I am now learning to find my voice and to be heard, not bollocked for every expression of emotion I had.  I said to my therapist that it feels like I am tumbling out of control, falling into the abyss and we both agreed that the rope had been cut.

However, she also said she thought it had been cut a long time ago, when my mother left when I was three, I have been in the void ever since, I think she is right.  I began to sob and my time was up, I looked at her and she said I have to go, thank goodness I was off to my first group session, it is all so much to take in, I felt like my heart was breaking, but it is a good breaking.  The fact that I had to leave her sesson straight away was really hard, I felt rejected all over again, no hug, no nothing just time up, somehow this was always a problem for me, having to leave and be alone with all that pain did something to me which felt really rejecting.

After I left my therapists I had a little time to pass before I went to my first group session, I sat in the car and gathered myself and drove to the meeting place.  I walked in and felt quite comfortable.  I sat down and one of the other members was there, I had obviously not met any of them before and we started to talk.  It felt odd to me because I was really interested in making polite conversaton i just wanted to be with me for a while.  It was not long before we were called to the room.  A nice light room and I sat by the window at the the far end of the room, it soon became the focal point as I was one of the new ones and they asked me to tell my story.  I was so grateful that there were therapists in the room, this was something I found very hard in recovery group meetings, I needed there to be supervision by a trained counsellor and here I was.

I began to look around the room and feel eternally grateful for what I had, a wonderful son, a car, money to pay the meter, a great home and I felt ready to take this leap.  I realised there and then how far I had come.  I told my story briefly of how I have been sober for 4 years and then started drinking again three years ago, actually it was almost four, and what I had not bargained for ws the shock of the people around the room.  They were scared and told me so.  How can you be 4 years sober and then drink again? I am struggling with each day.  I said that night became day for me and that black became white and a major crisis in my life took me back to the bottle and I have not stopped since……….I also said I am scared myself.

I was not prepared to tell them exactly what  had happened but I said that I thought I could cope with it and I could not.  I also said that I am so grateful that I have decided to get help again.  The meeting went on and we shared our experiences and as others did Ibecame more and more grateful, I have not lost my child, I am not brushing my teeth with vodka and I am not so physically ill that I can barely walk, all because of alcohol.  I am not feelling smug, I am feeling sick, humbled and I realised that this is serious, I want life.

As I left the room and got into my car I felt shell shocked.  I began to drive home and thought of all the times I had gone to recovery meetings all those years ago and how grateful I am to the handful of people who helped me, who stood by me and who really understood me when I did not understand myself, I was so shut down.

 

I drove along the country road with my music blaring out and thought, go get your future, it is over, the trauma is over, this is your story, your recovery and how you have been blessed, helped and how you have a duty to write the book and help yourself and other people.  The lack of funding for people who have nothing is a disgrace.  I realise this is why beginning to write about the time from 1996 makes so much sense.  I was not aware until then of  anything, and still struggle today but from then it is all retrospective.

I am grateful every day now for all of it.  As I peer through the shaft of light that is round the corner, will slowly get to the other side.  I am learning I let myself down and punished myself just like they did, I choose to learn to love myself as I am being loved and this is very exciting.