A Year On

A Year OnTo reflect on the last year, with all its grit and grime, is an extremely hard ask for me. I’ve taken a look back at the blog, one year ago, and discovered it’s a year since my boiler broke and we endured three days without heat or hot water. A painful experience that I don’t really want to contemplate again and that’s just it, most of last year I don’t want to have to contemplate again. I honestly feel that 2013 was the hardest year I’ve lived in all my 41 years on this planet. I’ve never been overly superstitious but I am eternally grateful that I won’t live to endure another year with the number 13 in it. And yet, strangely, I personally, did achieve some amazing things in that year.

I ran the London Marathon and raised a large sum of money for the charity TACT.

I started The Weekly Adoption Shout Out with Vicki from The Boys Behaviour.

I started the website The Adoption Social with Vicki, providing support for adopters, adoptees and others working in or touched by adoption.

I produced a youth play for my local amateur dramatics group.

I became a trustee for The Open Nest Charity.

I made some incredible new friends from the land of Adoption and even got to meet some of them when The Adoption Social and The Open Nest exhibited at The Adoption UK Annual Conference.

Yet I measure my year by none of these achievements, I instead reflect on the emotional rollercoaster that the year was for my family. Allowing my mind to even wander near the edge of those deepest and darkest of downward facing times frightens me. My muscles tighten, my throat constricts, and a sickness is rising from within, from the depths of my core a wave of tears is swelling. So, now I’m taking a deep breath……….I’ve found composure and I have stepped away from the precipice. I’m going to stick with my resolution, to live in the here and now and allow only hope for the future.

What I can say, is that to have survived the year can only have made each of us stronger. We are now taking tiny steps towards firmer and more certain ground and I’m sure amongst these pastures of increasing confidence and blossoming optimism, our growth will become more evident. The children are already showing signs of progress, relinquishing 2013 seem to have made a huge difference for them.

Stig has been managing and regulating his anger in a far more positive way. A contentedness, which he lacked for much of that fated year, has returned and glows softly within him. He is growing up, and I think he is coming to terms with it. Maturity can be a difficult attribute to steer at first but he is taking control and beginning to benefit from, even enjoy, the fruits that it brings.

Tink remains a boy of two extremes. Beyond his cool, astute and steely stare is a soft and squidgy little bundle, which requires the tender nurturing of an infant. The softness at his centre is well protected and few are privileged enough to benefit from its tenderness. I however am being allowed increased access to his vulnerability, as he allows me to assist him, asks for my help and even voices his concerns and fears. As always it is all very much on his terms, or so he believes, I’ve also become increasingly clever at letting him think he’s in charge.

My relationship with Mr H has near enough weathered what has been some exceptionally treacherous storms. We cling to our life together by our fingernails alone, but sheer determination that we will not be beaten by a bad stretch, keeps us holding on. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I know we can get through, but damage has been done and healing may take time. We know however that it is worth the endeavour, as at our core the embers of the love we have for each other still radiate warmth.

For me the last year seemed an endless battle with my old adversary, depression. I struggle to recall any long periods when lightness was in my step and cheer was in my heart. I feel much of my time I was weighted by worries and anxieties for those around me and strained by the intensity of living with those filled with worries and anxieties. I have started taking steps to lift myself from beneath the heaviness and I am learning new ways of keeping my old friend at a distance.

So today I prefer to look at the year ahead and hold hope in my heart for the future. In this vein I will say that a year on we are now on an upper ward turn and I am optimistic we are leaving the darkness behind.

How does your Garden Grow 06/02/14

GardenI’ve not been here for a while, and I’m not just referring to this lovely link up, I’ve hardly set foot in my garden over the winter months. We stripped it back bare at the beginning of winter and nothing seems to have been going on since. With that and my not enjoying the cold or squelching across the soggy lawn, there has seemed no use in being here. This week however, with my returning verve for blogging and some tiniest of shoots in my garden catching my eye, I have decide to venture back into the garden.

I had to look hard for evidence of growth, up in these cold northern hills spring is always a little later than it is for those in southern lands. But look hard I did and found the following little gems.DSC_0007 DSC_0010 DSC_0011

 Whilst squelching about looking for shoots I noticed that the succulents I had planted in some tins I love and just had to recycle into something, were still alive and well. I also realised that the patio furniture cushions seemed to never have made it into storage for the winter and therefore added a nice splash of colour to my shots.

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It’s was actually rather good to be back in the garden, and if we cross our fingers for no snow I may venture out again soon.

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Sharing a Story

StorytellingIt’s National Storytelling Week, did you know? I came across this fact as I perused a magazine at the weekend, and thought to myself “now there is a cause I can get behind”.  I’ve always loved reading with the boys and with my mum, granny, working in library services there has always been an abundance of books on borrow or new recommended reads, littering our home.

Little Tink took to words like a duck to water. I still remember the day when he requested a turn at reading the 20 or so word cards I had stuck on the back of the kitchen door for his struggling older brother. Smiling sweetly, I played along and allowed him to step forward, my smile was soon agog in a gapping jaw drop, as he rattled them off with little effort.

“Oh you can read then” was all I could muster and popped the obligatory reward sweet into his grinning mouth.

Anyway from there on in his reading has been what only can be described as ferocious, completing all the Harry Potters at aged six. So when a child is so eager and happy to lose themselves in a book, it is easy to forget the joy and importance of reading to them.

However, struggling with bedtime and sleeping has brought back a more structured night time ritual for my now nine year old and that has included me reading to him again. I recently chose “The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas” for us to share. I had already read and thoroughly enjoyed it, and was sure that Tink would too.

He is a complicated little soul when it comes to choosing a suitable read. A lot of the books for his age don’t challenge him sufficiently, but moving into books for older children, teen books, can sometimes bring questionable content for a nine year old. However he has a very intelligent understanding of the world for a boy of his age and can recognise and understand subtleties on the page, which he finds very hard to handle in his own emotions.

The subject matter of The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas, The Holocaust, is a huge subject matter to grasp, but he had previously read “The Diary of Anne Frank”, so I knew he already had some understanding. However, as this story is told through the eyes of a nine year old son of a Nazi Commandant, it also requires the ability to translate his skewed perception on the events.  At times we’ve stopped to discuss what is being referred to, or what is in reality happening, and at each point he has known precisely.

We have been reading the book a chapter at a time and at the end of each one Tink is eagerly anticipating what will happen in the next. We are nearing the end and the story is now becoming very tense. Last night as we read, his little body leaning against mine, I could feel him tightening as the intensity of the situation on the page grew, he was truly gripped. Obviously reading stories also gives me another outlet for my dramatic talents, as I offer up varying tones and accents to the characters and intersperse the odd pause for theatrical effect.  Already knowing how it all ends, I am not looking forward to but, will be very interested to see how he responds to the outcome.

So the littlest thing of storytelling has recently offered a wonderful shared experience for me and my youngest boy.

I’ve linked this post with Mummy Never Sleeps.

All the Small Things - MummyNeverSleeps

Live the Moment

inthemoment

I recently received some CBT, don’t worry nothing dodgy or illegal, for those not in the know this is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. My therapist was a lovely lady from the West Country who swore a bit and used the word “peach” to describe excellent examples of how I was managing to implement my learning. As in “Oh that is just a peach of a gem on how to deal with that S**t.” Bit off the wall, but it worked for me, I did learn lots of “peachy” things from her and a lot of what I was dealing with was a load of s**t.

So the idea with CBT is to challenge our learnt thought patterns, often our negative beliefs, and then offer new and more positive trains of thought as an alternative route. We did some work on this and I’m hoping to revisit the process again soon to complete the work I started. The bureaucracy of the NHS only allows each patient a set number of weeks to complete the work and then decrees a 3 months gap before you can pick up the treatment again. However, I would also like to add that I am very grateful that I am able to access such mental health support from the NHS in my area; I know it doesn’t seem to be something everyone has access to.

So alongside the CBT my lovely therapist offered my many pearls of wisdom, coping strategies and snippets of advice, all delivered in handouts, I have a file full, on how to get through life. One of my very favourite of these I’ve been using a lot recently and feel it real does help me to see a tough situation in a more rational light, as well as truly experience the best parts of my life. So I thought I’d share it with you.

So the advice is this:-

 To accept, live in and feel the moment.

What this translates as is, whatever you are feeling at any given time, accept and experience it. Recognise that this is what you are feeling at that present moment and do what you need to do to either support, saviour or allow that.

By living in the moment, when you experience difficult or tough emotional times, you are not projecting your fears, worries and sadness into your future and therefore escalating the intensity of your emotions. I have been massively guilt of this, in the last year especially. An example would be if Stig starts to spiral into a massive violent and aggressive outburst my head is saying “great that’s the rest of the day/weekend written off or, dramatic pause……, the rest of my life”. Instead I should just focus on the present, accept that what is happening is emotionally very difficult for all of us, and do my very best to deal with the situation. Where I have managed to do this, I find the situation is resolved sooner and there is far less post situation fall out.

I also feel as if I give myself permission to be upset/angry by the present situation, because I’m acknowledging it is not an easy place to be. Allowing myself to feel that, means I don’t have guilt related thoughts later and it makes it easier to pass through and out of it. For example, I’m allowed to be angry or upset when my child tries to throw a chair at me and calls me “a f*****g b***h”. How I express  these feelings and where is obviously important (usually a bit of a private cry once it’s all over), but I give myself permission for the feeling and by doing that it almost feels like I release it from myself. It doesn’t linger and create endless guilt.

On the flip side of this, grab hold of any feelings of happiness and joy and try and hold on to them for as long as possible. Experience, feel and live your contentment. I think it is too easy to let the really good bits of our lives pass us by without a nod of recognition and it is therefore easy to think that there are none. Again, I’ll put my hand up for this one, doom and gloom can be a girl’s best friend far too easily.

Recently when out on a run, the sun shining and good music pumping in my ears, I felt a real rush of happiness. It was an extraordinary moment of real pleasure and I took the time to acknowledge it. I lingered on how it actually felt within my body and the sensation inside my head. I believe by focusing on it and not allowing my mind to wonder to other thoughts for the day, I managed to intensify and prolong that feeling of joy. It’s almost like bottling it, even now when I think of that moment, I’m smiling. So the next time you receive a warm hug or your child makes you really laugh, recognise that sweet and pure happiness and accept it into your life, bottle it.

For me I know I’ve been on a “my life is really s**t” tip for quite a while, and yes as a family we have all been dealing with some extraordinarily difficult times. However, once you take the time to saviour those small moments of happiness, you realise that actually there are far more than you ever imagined. Even if it is a dark and macabre joke shared between parents of traumatised children, yes you know the ones I mean, if it made you smile or laugh, embrace it.

As with all these practices they’re hard to implement to start with but, the more you practice the more it becomes a natural part of your thought process. So I am trying very hard to keep myself in the moment which is small part of my bigger plan, to live 2014 with more confidence.

I think this process is part of what seems to be a very now way of thinking “Mindfulness”. I don’t know too much about it yet but I’m on the edge of becoming more involved, I can feel it. If you know more please share with me and let me know how it is helping you.

I’ve linked this post to The Adoption Social link up, The Things We Do

The Things We Do