Category Archives: recovery

self-compassion and how to do it

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During the last few months lots has been going on. In the midst of lots of rubbish and drama, I’ve had so much clarity which has truly been significant for me. In my sessions with Penelope, I have been doing a lot of work on loneliness- an affliction that quite regularly paralyses me if I let it. We have been working on it for years to be honest and I jut feel its one of those things that Ive never yet had any success with. It always comes back to this one, I’m stuck in it and I want to get unstuck.

Penelope always says the same things really… look at the evidence, I’m not lonely, it’s my self-talk, its the judgement I place on being by myself- its because I don’t have a relationship with myself… and I know these are all true but they don’t help!!!! I still hadn’t found the hook on which I could grasp and then work with.

unknown-2-1.jpegBut I think I might have now… in my recovery I always come back to is this definition of stupidity. If I want to be different, I have to do things differently. So simple- but so profound.

But sometimes we just need what I call, the ‘click of clarity’. The way I have been relating to myself for the past 40 years is totally screwed! Its obviously not working! You’ve got to do something different. IT AIN’T WORKING! And in that moment, I set my intention to do it differently. To relate to myself differently. Kindly, with compassion. Not berate myself. Not say the most awful things to myself. Not abuse my body or wretch in disgust. But to be kind to myself.

And then of course, once you’ve set the intention, God or the Universe seems to kick in and ‘coincidences’ start to happen. A suggested post on Facebook, a chance conversation with someone, a book crosses your path…  all three have happened for me.

I already had this book, but have never read it… but as I’m packing for a cheeky week Unknown.jpegaway it ‘pops’ out at me. I read it and I start doing it! The same with the Artist’s Way- I’ve had it for years… but now I’m ready to do it.

 

 

 

 

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Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying I read the books and things changed- it was sort of the opposite- I changed and then the books have helped put flesh on the process for me. One of the hardest things about recovery, is that it demands a different way of living to what you’ve been used to- but most of us have never experienced or seen that different way and just don’t have a clue how to do it!

If you were ever in my secret chamber you would hear my pleading to God- ‘but I don’t know what that looks like, I don’t know how to do that’. When Penelope and others would say, you need to love yourself, I would be shouting inside- WTF does that actually mean? You are talking gobbledegook. SHUT UP!

The Germer book in particular has really helped with practical suggestions- which have been intellectually credible. But the key to all this is in paragraph 4- I had to want to do it differently. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude that miraculously I’ve got to that point of wanting that. Thank you. 

Thanks for listening.

telling my story

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Sometimes an every-day type of conversation can give you a golden nugget.

I was talking with my friend Sandra and she questioned my motivation for doing something that I am currently doing. It wasn’t a negative questioning rather a genuine what do I hope to achieve from doing this…  good question. She mentioned the word ‘justice’ in the process and since that time I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

Justice just wasn’t ticking the boxes for me. Firstly, I’m not entirely sure what justice actually is and whether it ever makes any one feel better. But also, why would I want justice… the concept doesn’t yet feel like it relates to me. However, what was amazing, was that in that process of thinking about justice I did begin to clarify what I did want from this process.

Unknown-1.jpegI want to be heard.

I want to tell my story.

I want my story to be validated.

Ideally, I would like my story to be believed- but I can’t control other’s response to my story.

Ironically, I am surrounded by friends who hear me, listen to me and validate me. But this isn’t about other people- this is about me hearing myself, validating my story and believing myself. Oh my word- if I can do that- (and I will) my life will be transformed!

Currently, I have people who don’t know me doing the above- and it is sooo powerful. They have no reason to believe me, listen to me, take me seriously- but they are. (not sure if they believe me but they are certainly taking me seriously). The impact for me is quite incredible. I can feel myself standing a little taller. I can feel a lessening of the pain in my chest.

I can’t control whether others choose to hear my story but I can control my own response to it, and I think my own response to myself will be one of the most healing things I can do for myself.

Thanks for listening.

Seize the opportunity

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Talking with my friend, Fiona last week, she challenged me to seize the opportunity I was currently in. An opportunity to not just get through this current season of my life but also an opportunity to make a lasting difference to my life.

I have chosen to seize the opportunity with everything I have. It’s a slightly rocky ride with some very difficult bits. But I am seizing it with everything I have. Would love to encourage you to do the same. Take hold of what life is giving you- the good, bad and the ugly.

Thanks for listening.

 

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surrender

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I was chatting with my friend Fiona while in France. She mentioned a friend of hers who describes herself as a recovering alcoholic. I identify with addicts- regardless of the flavour. All addiction is addiction. Thankfully some of my behaviours are far more socially acceptable and one could argue not quite so harmful to my own body- but the process is the same. Addicts escape. And the desire to escape is sometimes so strong that it is literally all-encompassing. Sorry, I digress.

Her friend, will often talk about the need to surrender. She doesn’t drink because she surrenders to God. Her God, happens to be the Christian Jesus, I am aware that in the 12 step programme the ‘Higher Power’ is less prescriptive. I personally relate to Jesus and when Fiona mentioned it, I felt quite a peace in my heart. I knew who I could surrender to. I have taken those moments of peace with me. I am fully aware that surrender is a continual process. Its not one moment of surrender and that’s done. Any one in recovery knows that it is continual. Moment by moment, step by step, tear by tear surrender. And its quite liberating.

On my ill-fated walk up a French mountain, which happened to be the same day as this conversation. I may have missed the proper destination. But instead I found this.

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I am not very good at measurements, but it was massive. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Much much bigger than a person. Majestic. Surveying the land.

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I stopped and lay down in front of it and sung to Jesus. It was the only thing I could really do. As I stood up, a saw a tiny crocus, that thankfully I hadn’t squashed. It made me smile.

I didn’t have a Damascus moment. I didn’t hear voices, I didn’t see visions. But I had a few moments of peace- and let me tell you, in the turmoil of my mind, that is the greatest miracle of all.

As I trudge through things at the moment. I constantly think of Fiona’s friend who has to surrender so as not to drink. I think of her as I try and do the same.

And to every brave soul who has to surrender to survive- I totally salute you. You are amazing.

Thanks for listening.

 

A Tale of Two Lunches

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In my last post I poised the question as to whether I might have had a breakthrough… images.jpegwell, I think I have! The difference in me since that DBT session with Penelope has been seismic for me. The relief is even more palpable then when my jury service ended- as this has this separation anxiety has plagued me for years.

 

A tale of two lunches best illustrates this. Two weeks ago I went to lunch with Gareth and Daniel. I had left the pups in school (5 mins away) crated up safely with a member of staff sitting in the same office. I was anxious. Not the worst case… but I was preoccupied with them. I admitted it to my friends, but at that point I just couldn’t understand why I was being so pathetic. I wanted to text Eileen to check they were ok, I fantasied that a member of staff was going to complain about the pups being in school. At one point, I thought I was just going to have to run back to them. (we were gone about an hour). It wasn’t great.

This week I had lunch with Gareth. I left the pups in school again. This time, I TOTALLY FORGOT about them. I mean, TOTALLY FORGOT. Didn’t think about them once. Didn’t even dawn on me to text. I TOTALLY FORGOT about my precious pups. And I could sing and dance with joy. The relief is enormous. The result is that I am enjoying them even more. I look after them, but their needs are not more important than mine.

I will bring them with me when I can but only when its the best thing for them and the best thing for me.

I know I have a way to go. I think 3.5 hours is the max I’ve left them alone. (with no other human). But I have not asked anyone to sit with them or pop in- which is just great.

This new information/ experience also makes a difference to other aspects of my life, not just with the pups. If I can continue to develop this ability to keep separate… and be able to love from afar as well… who knows what else life may offer me. Possibly I could commit to someone/ something without it being a life sentence??? Shock horror- if I’m managing this fear, perhaps I can develop to a point where I can even feel loved? As I say to the children in my school, the world is your lobster- just may be my world has expanded just a little bit more.

Thanks for listening.

OFSTED came… 

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OFSTED came, OFSTED went and OFSTED will come again. 

I can’t believe there is any teacher in England and Wales who can not empathise with the trauma that is an OFSTED inspection. It is brutal. As much as I have opinions on the efficacy of this process, I will restrain as this isn’t really the place- but it is in my opinion a rather bizarre method of getting the best out of teachers to give their best to their pupils. 

We knew OFSTED were going to come. However, I was also in denial that they would actually come. Like a lot of things in life I convinced myself that it wouldn’t happen to us. It did. 

I have blogged before about my at times overwhelming sense of being a fraud. I know perfectly well that most people have this feeling to some greater or lesser extent. I speak with friends who feel frauds at being a mother, wife, business owner… I know it is a plight common to man- unfortunately that hasn’t helped me cope with my symptoms! 

When the call came, my terror was primarily at being found out. 

It was not helped by a comment I heard at a Heads conference the previous weekend. A highly respected educational professional in passing mentioned that he had met some heads who were only heads because they owned the school and there were not suitable. I am totally aware that I am only in my current role because a) we can’t afford to pay someone else to do it b) no-one responded to the ad and c) there is no way a state school would employ me as a Head! And yes I am one of the co-owners!  I am aware that I bring some strengths to the role but I’m unconventional at best, completely unaware of what I’m doing at worse. I also know in my heart that I’m trying my best for our pupils- but good intentions aren’t always enough. 

OFSTED came, as Directors we worked like Trojans, we argued our case, hardly slept, I cried and we survived. The school did well. But it didn’t help me with my fraud ness. (I’m feeling the slight need to justify myself and make it clear I don’t bang on like this all the time- but it is always there for me even if I don’t say it) 

So what do I do about it? There are always options… 

1) I learn the job quick! Get a mentor. Go on a course. Act like a Head

I am doing this. I ask for advice every step of the way. I speak to staff and parents like I know what I’m doing. I’m petrified they can see though me but I am a good actor. I do want to do a course. I know it will not make a jot of difference to my feelings, as my Play therapy supervisor used to say to me- Hepzibah you could have a PhD and still feel a fraud. But I would love the study and the process of learning. I am on a steep learning curve and my prayer is that I do not do any damage to my staff or pupils while I’m on it. 

2) give up the role. Re-look at staffing structure and cover things differently. 

But as I write, my heart and spirit can’t think of anything worse. I absolutely love the role. I say again I’m a round peg in a round hole. I’m possibly not the best head around, and I’m sure others could do it better- but only I can do it the way I do it. 

OFSTED didn’t think I was a fraud. They saw some good things. The only negative thing about OFSTED was that it scuppered my sleep pattern and left me and my team completely exhausted. 

I don’t like living with the fear of being found out all the time. It makes me far too vulnerable when others are unhappy with me and slightly high maintenance. But I can’t and won’t let that fear rob me of doing what I love and have some talent at: teaching.  But even more than that- setting a vision and making it happen. Impacting others lives for the good and speaking up for those who don’t have such a loud voice. 

This has been a hard post to write. It’s one of those where I start thinking in a certain way but by the end I’m in a different place. Absolutely brilliant but the temptation is then to censor my original thoughts. I will not do that. The paper doesn’t judge so nor will I. 

Thanks for listening. 

What’s different part 2

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On January 1st of this year I wrote a post entitled ‘what’s different’. In it I explored some of the reasons why I thought I might have managed so well during my first term in my new work role. It was a very encouraging post! This morning I’ve woken with thoughts about why this term has not been quite as ‘successful’ in my eyes. (I know others will have different perspectives on this, at the moment I need to get myself unstuck from my perspective.) 

Re-reading the previous post has helped me see that annoyingly I wasn’t so good at using the techniques I had previously employed. Out of self-compassion (?) I need to acknowledge some of the things going on for me this term- all of which I will process at some point. 

1) OFSTED came. 

2) I was burgled. 

3) I had sad news about my brother’s health

4) my sessions with Penelope have been the ‘messiest’ to date. At times trying to function as a vaguely responsible teacher while battling urges to mutilate myself has been tricky. As i write this, I think, no wonder I’m tired!!!! 

5) the final blow was my brother being hospitalised the day I left for this holiday. Another episode of them trying to save him in resus. Another conversation with doctors about how poorly he is. Another time of having to say goodbye wondering if this will be the time when he doesn’t recover. Sorry- have to stop that thread, it’s too upsetting. 

So as I list these 5 things, all over 3 months the challenge is, what do I do about it? As I wrote yesterday, this is about Operation Rescue for me. Unlike yesterday I do feel a bit more human this morning which always helps! 

I’m off for some breakfast! 

Thanks for listening.