Category Archives: recovery

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. 

Being known

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Christmas is for all intent and purposes virtually over. The holidays are not 🙂
One of the lovely things for me this Christmas was that I felt really ‘known’. In the presents I got, I knew that people knew me. It was lovely.

In particular I had an abundance of onesies (a girl can never have too many!). Luxury ones, fluffy ones and possibly my most outrageous one to date! (Actually this is a close call between this one and the giraffe one that nearly got me arrested in Poland! )

I’m looking forward to wearing it to school for World Book Day!

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I also got beautiful furniture for my dolls house. Last January I had planned to work on my dolls house but my eyes were poorly and I couldn’t. I was already thinking that I would set aside January this year to have my dolls house as my creative project. My friend beat me too it. Such a beautiful gift.

It is really nice being able to receive love. Being horrible to oneself is really more highly rated than it should be!

Thanks for listening.

Growing in knowing

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My quest for change continues…

Since Sunday in particular I have been musing on the question- ‘what do I want things to look like?’ I’ve been blogging about wanting to do things differently, but I need meat on the bones- what does that look like?

Currently, I’m not entirely sure. But I am now able to observe that I have a clearer sense of what I don’t want. My sense of self is slowly but surely developing… I can now articulate foods I like and dislike… Textures of materials… Colours… Smells…

But I realise I find it is a lot easier to articulate what I don’t like, it is more tricky for me to express what I do like or want. I think some of that comes down to fear of rejection- if I say I like something or want something- what if I can’t have it??? Occasionally and very recently I have been able to say to friends with whom I feel safe enough if I don’t want something – I find that hard enough let alone saying what I would like !!!

This morning I realised again, that for so many years I have accepted what I don’t want in life because either
A) something was better than nothing
B) fear of being hurt and punished for articulating my own preferences or
C) fear of having nothing if I choose not to accept what is in offer.

The challenge for me is to grow enough in my personhood to work out what I do want. If I don’t want Christmas/ New year / school holidays to be like this… What do I want them to be like …

And that my friends is part of my mission… I realise just because I want something doesn’t necessarily mean I can have it… But I’ve got to at least start with getting in touch with some of my desires and give myself a chance of living the life I want…

I feel this at such a deep level that this blog really doesn’t do it justice- but maybe that in itself is a bit of a clue – maybe I need to strip back again to the basics…

All is good

Thanks for listening

Doing it differently

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‘Don’t expect a different outcome if you carry on doing things the same way’.
This is a poor paraphrase of a quote by Joyce Meyer, but I know what I mean!!!

Someone else also said that a sign madness was to carry on doing the same thing and expecting the result to be different.

I remember this quote was the basis of one of my first ever blogs on this site. I was so challenged by the concept that if I wanted things to be different , either I had to be different, or act differently… Doing the same old thing was going to produce the same old results.

Obvious? …Well, yes…
Easy? … Well, no…
Possible?… Definitely…
Challenging?… Yes…
Worth it… YES, YES, YES…

I spent a long time yesterday chatting to a precious friend- and I could hear myself saying often, I need to do this holiday differently. I need to respond differently, I need to be prepared for it to be different… Florence asked me what this looked like… Exactly the question I needed. More of that in a future post!

Historically, school holidays have been difficult for me. This started when I was at school myself and as a teacher, the pattern has continued. I always think I must be one of the few teachers who don’t like the long holidays! I now work in an independent school and they are even longer!!!!

Previously, I have often been physically poorly in the holidays. My body holds on until the first day of the holiday and then wham bam my body protests violently at the stress I’ve put it under. Last Christmas was particularly difficult with my eye sight. It wasn’t great.

I broke up from work on Friday. I was out in the evening and went to bed relatively late for me. I then did something I haven’t done for a while. I was too frightened to go to sleep. I kept myself awake. I know, a bit bizarre- but I used to do that when I was very depressed. I used to find waking up to the black cloud suffocating me so awful, I preferred to keep awake so I didn’t have to wake up.

I knew if I was going to have eye problems, Saturday morning was likely. Of course, I eventually fell asleep with lights and tele on! And amazingly, my eyes are ok. I have got a fair chance of trying to do this holiday differently. And I am. End of. I am changing. Full stop.

I hope to blog a lot this holiday, I hope we can encourage each other to do it differently.

Thanks for listening.