If you thought living with someone misusing substances is tough, spare a thought for those who have lost someone to substance abuse.

According to statistics, up to three people are adversely affected by one person’s substance misuse. But I know it is far more. It’s been over fifteen years since I lost my father to alcoholism, and it still affects me to this day.

It is especially hard when I hear about another person, someone I know who has passed either as a direct result of misusing substances or due to fragile mental health as a consequence of substance misuse.  Yesterday, i heard the sad news that someone else I met, who’d successfully completed rehab, who when the last time I’d seen him, he seemed so positive, but has now passed away.

That’s five people now this year who have died this year alone. After overcoming the shock, my thoughts and heart always go out to their families and the loved ones left behind. We cannot ever underestimate the trauma that the families and friends are still left with after a loved one has passed. Hence my motivation to write this blog.

Often it can feel like a double bereavement. 

It isn’t uncommon for families and loved ones to go through the grieving process whilst their loved one is still alive. I lived with the anticipation of death way before Dad finally passed. He wasn’t the Dad that I recognised; He’d changed so much it was hard to remember what he was like before. I’d grieved over lost hopes and expectations that he would never truly appreciate what it would be like to have a peaceful mind or get to see his grandkids grow into adults. The missed opportunities were endless. 

Coming to terms with the way someone died 

Somehow it can be easier to accept death when someone has passed after a long or fulfilled life. However, the stigma associated with addiction can make coming to terms with the circumstances of death even harder, than say losing a loved one to cancer or in a tragic accident. The additional fear of judgement can often leave families, loved ones feeling isolated, stigmatised or that somehow your situation is less valid than that of other bereaved people. 

I vividly remember being given the option by the GP who was preparing Dads death certificate whether or not I wanted the cause of death being pneumonia or alcohol. Given a choice, I wouldn’t have chosen either, but I had insisted on the latter. Whilst I didn’t want my Dad to become a statistic, I didn’t want his death caused by alcohol to be in vain. His death wasn’t a peaceful one, far from it, it was slow and painful. He endured both physical and mental torture, and as I have mentioned in previous blogs if he’d have had the chance to end his days differently or sooner i suspect he would have. 

Whilst there may be similarities, substance misuse impacts/affects both the users and families and loved ones differently. Addiction isn’t like treating a fracture, where the break can be located and fixed by a cast. Some families live with the uncertainly of never knowing how who or where the rupture took place, and if they did, they would have moved heaven and earth to help fix it. The feeling of powerlessness can be overwhelming at times and is even harder to bear with so many unanswered questions. 

Fifteen years ago, there wasn’t as much support for families like me. Through writing this book, I have come across some excellent resources that I wanted to share with you, in the hope that if you know someone who has lost a loved one either directly or indirectly to substance misuse that you could guide them in the right direction (see below) 

In the mean time RIP to all those lost souls and to the loved ones left behind.

Love Fordy x

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up for emails.

 Oh, and If you liked the post please share it on social media and with friends  – and if you didn’t like it then do nothing that’s ok too

Sources of support 

Adfam was founded in 1984 by the parent of a heroin addict who could not find the support they needed. Overt the past 34 years they have evolved from a small support group into the national infrastructure body working to improve life for families affected by drugs and alcohol use.

Bereavement Through Addiction Provides support groups, a helpline and an annual memorial service in Bristol.

Drugfam offers a telephone bereavement helpline and other sources of support

Survivors Of Bereavement by Suicide (formerly SOBS) Exists to meet the needs and break the isolation of those bereaved by the suicide of a close relative or friend National Helpline: 0844 561 6855, 9am to 9pm every day

Grandparents Plus is the national charity which champions the vital role of grandparents and the wider family in children’s lives – especially when they take on the caring role in difficult family circumstances.







Boundaries aren’t just an enforcement tactic but a form of self care

I don’t ever recall the word boundary being mentioned much growing up, my interpretation of a boundary looked like rules. Rules that had consequences if tested or broken – and trust me I broke many. 

People misunderstand the purpose of boundaries; more often than not they are perceived as being a tactic or an enforcement tool in an attempt to manage another person’s behaviour or actions. And whilst setting and enforcing boundaries can do that to a certain extent, boundaries are only ever effective as the person enforcing them.

‘Why are boundaries are always seen or used as the last resort in an attempt to manage difficult behaviour or actions?’

I would advocate or even argue that we need to start looking at boundaries differently, in the first instance let us start referring to boundaries as an act of self-care. Using boundaries to help us build and restore our physical or emotional wellbeing. Especially, before we even attempt to apply them to others especially if you are using them to change someone else’s behaviour or actions.

I see this it all the time, particularly around families of addicts. Often the family’s attempts at establishing, enforcing, and maintaining boundaries almost always fail at the first hurdle, mainly because they are trying to enforce and manage boundaries at their weakest point.

“Life is hard enough being the person who has to think about, or even consider boundaries especially when it’s not your behaviour that’s the problem, let alone enforce them.”

Often addicts on the receiving of boundaries will go to great lengths and will do anything and everything they can to resist your efforts; they will argue, blame, ignore, manipulate, threaten, or physically hurt us.

“Trust me there is nothing worse than an addict who doesn’t get their way.”

Below is just a selection of some of the most common characteristics of addicts that families are up against

  • Frequent lies
  • Ignoring your boundaries
  • Manipulating you to get what they want
  • They don’t consider other people’s feelings or needs
  • Feelings of entitlement
  • They rarely apologize and if they do, it’s shallow, coerced, or worse – fake
  • They will blame others and don’t take responsibility for their actions
  • They will overreact
  • Make unreasonable demands
  • Have temper tantrums or fits of rage when they don’t get what they want

In a nutshell, their actions can create so much stress, anxiety, pain, which can affect your health, your ability to work, and your overall general wellbeing.

People often find themselves becoming co-dependent focusing more on how someone else can meet our needs rather than focusing on how to take care of ourselves.

And this is dangerous territory, its dangerous because quite often many family members or loved ones of addicts don’t seem to recognise just how bad their lives have been affected until it’s too late. They have been so consumed with fixing the addict and putting the needs of the addict first, that many are left feeling disorientated, disillusioned, and frustrated, with little or no energy left.

By establishing boundaries for ourselves we have a better fighting chance to start enforcing those boundaries that involve other people. This is particularly important when you are dealing with some of the above characteristics previously mentioned.

3 Points to consider 

  1. The starting point for anyone living or dealing with an addicted loved one is first learning to accept that sometimes “nothing we do or say can or will prevent people from acting a certain way.” This can often be the hardest pill to swallow especially when someone has been stuck in rescue mode for a long time.
  2. The second point is learned to accept that what we can do is learn to set clear boundaries for ourselves, to take care of ourselves, protect ourselves, at least that way at we can and give ourselves a fighting chance to feel stronger and more empowered to take on anything that is thrown at us.
  3. Thirdly, when setting boundaries, it is vital to recognise your feelings and learn to differentiate yourself from the other person.

Benefits of personal boundaries 

  • When we set boundaries, we’re less angry and resentful because our needs are getting met
  • Boundaries help us make our expectations clear, so others know what to expect from us and how we want to be treated.
  • Boundaries are the foundation of happy, healthy relationships with others
  • More importantly, boundaries are the foundation of a happy and healthy relationship with our selves.

Remember the purpose of setting your own personal boundaries is to let someone know you are not okay with their behaviour and the person who is one the other end of your boundary may still react. I know this all too well from personal experience.

When you are setting healthy boundaries, you are coming from a place of self-care and you find yourself in a better position to be able to acknowledge the other person’s reaction as opposed to trying to fix it.

I have come across this great No BS Guide to Protecting Your Emotional Space as a starting point to help start you off.

And my final WORD remember this is about YOU not them

I was recently asked to go on BBC Radio Sheffield to advise a lady called Louise whose life had been affected by her husband’s addiction to opiates you can click here to listen in (be warned its 20 mins long)

When tough love is no longer an option – Understanding End of Stage Alcoholism

I find it hard sometimes working in the recovery field, in one breath I am promoting recovery and that it is possible, but in the other breath, I know that this isn’t always the case.

I use the Prochaska and DiClementi’s cycle of change a lot in my work (see diagram below) it is a great tool to help people identify where they are at in their addiction. For a couple of years, dad went around the cycle like a fucking Catherine wheel, with every relapse brought hope, an opportunity for change, but it never lasted long.

After about 18th months into dad’s alcoholism, his cycle started to go anti-clockwise, I hadn’t heard about End Stage Alcoholism, none of the medical staff mentioned it (Or maybe they did and we were too stressed to take it all in) this cycle takes the addict and the family on a very different journey.

I have come up with a new cycle to help people understand the End Stage Of Addiction

1. Denial – Dad knew he wasn’t well, but it was never the alcohol, he would try to minimise the levels of drinking from the doctors, even though his deteriorating health, failing liver was because of his drinking. He had been told on numerous times that “If he continued to drink he would die” but the fact he was still breathing was evidence that anything the doctors said was a lie, only enforcing his rational that drinking wasn’t the real problem – I recall the time as if it was yesterday when dad took a sip of his Jack Daniels and coke refusing to take paracetamol on the grounds that it was bad for his liver, the level of denial was insane.

5. Body Failing– His liver was no longer functioning, he had no appetite, he started losing control of his bowels, His belly would bloat making him look pregnant, his skin turned yellow looking like Homer Simpson, his skin was also getting thinner and bruised more easily. And despite all of this “it wasn’t the drink”

4. Deaths Door – Hospitalised again, with what seemed a never-ending cycle of health problems, enforced detox to treat his alcohol-related health conditions. Following the detox, his mind would be clear free of the alcohol toxins and he would swing between apologetic or angry that he was back in the hospital.

3. Recovery – Dads back, sometimes he would have a newfound sense of determination, this time would be different, he would go Alcohol-Free, or stick to a beer, promising to stay away from the top shelf.

2. Complacency – I’m feeling loads better, I’ll have just one, it won’t be the same, I’ll stay away from the spirits and stick to cans of beer. But it never last, before long he would be back on the spirits and the cycle would start all over again.

1. Denial – back to square one

When tough love is no longer an option

Unlike say an opioid overdose death that can happen in a matter of minutes, dying from end-stage alcoholism is usually slow, painful and undignified. We had done our mourning for the person he was before the drinking had taken ahold. Tough love wasn’t an option for us now, some of the health conditions, side affects of his drinking could not be ignored.  Enabling and caring was the only option. We talked a lot with dad, about what he wanted, he didn’t want to be sent back to the hospital, he was as sick of the cycle as much as we were, he had accepted defeat and wanted to die at home, unfortunately this didn’t happen overnight.

Here are some of the  comorbidities that dad suffered 

Cirrhosis of the liver caused others near-fatal side effects

Korsakoff syndrome -is a neurological condition found in end-stage alcoholics. It develops due to a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency (although this wasn’t diagnosed, dad definitely displayed many of the symptoms) 

Malnutrition – his body was preventing him to absorb the nutrients it needed

Hepatic Coma was given days to live, he survived but then contracted MRSA, resulting in bedsores which required new dressing every day.

Ascites – where fluid accumulates in the stomach

Jaundice – a resulting from Liver Disease

Esophageal varices -coughing blood

Peripheral edema – a build-up of fluid causing swelling in his legsWernicke-

We resigned ourselves and essentially started providing palliative and end of life care the best we could between us. But this was hard, it went against everything I believed in, I felt like an accomplice assisting dad to slowly kill himself which was the last thing any of his loved ones wanted for him.

Caring for someone who is at end-stage alcoholism can be traumatic, often the addict is so out of it they are often unaware of the severity of their condition, but the carers are.

It’s at this point that the carers of someone who is at end stage, need support, not well-meaning advice or ideas about how to get your loved one into recovery, it has gone way past that, the bottom line is that unfortunately, not everyone recovers from addiction.

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.



Its not just the addict that needs help and support

Unless you have ever had a loved one entrenched in addiction, with no desire or will to pull themselves out of their misery, you can simply never understand the conflicting guilt, physical and anger that a loved one of the addict goes through. Living with emotions, like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to another, rarely settling in the middle.

You worry about them constantly — you can’t sleep, you can’t focus, and your heart stops every time the phone rings. The fear of losing them consumes you, and your focus becomes doing anything and everything you can to help them get better. 

Now I am not suggesting that dealing with a loved one’s addiction is easy but keeping the following things in mind can help you better address your loved one’s alcohol and drug abuse.

Letting go of control 

While you may be tempted to make it your mission to save your loved one from themselves, this will only leave you exhausted, hurt, and maybe even resentful. You may feel as if you are not doing enough to help your loved one, but you need to understand that no matter how hard you try, you cannot control their addiction. No amount of begging, pleading, threatening, or ultimatums will make your loved one stop drinking or using. 

Whether you realize it or not, your loved one’s addiction is taking a toll on your life. And you need to start making yourself a priority. Working on letting go of trying to control their addiction, you must come to accept that you are only in control of your life, you also have a life, away from the addict and embark on your journey of healing and recovery.

Letting go of blame

You probably never imagined that addiction would become a part of your life, but it has you may be wondering if you were responsible for your loved ones use. Did you not love them enough? Too much? Was it something you said? Did? Didn’t do? The questions are endless, and they can drive you mad, but the truth is that you didn’t cause your loved one to drink or use — even if they blame you for it.

The underlying cause for their addiction may not be clear to you. They may be dealing with trauma that you’re unaware of or having difficulty managing their emotions. Regardless of what’s behind their addiction, remember that you are not responsible, and allowing unwarranted guilt to consume you will only end up hurting you and your loved one.

But remember you are not alone, research estimates that in the UK YouGov that almost 1 in 3 adults in the UK have been negatively affected by the substance use of someone they know.

Don’t let their addiction become your addiction

It is normal for your loved one’s addiction to have an impact on your life. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to allow it to consume your every moment. As challenging as it may be, you will need to set boundaries. Whether it’s not giving them any more money, refusing to engage with them when they’re under the influence, or establishing a curfew or boundaries can help you and your loved one know what is and isn’t acceptable.

Remember though, it may take a few tries, there is no right or wrong, just try to find a balance between helping your loved one and taking care of yourself. Remind yourself that you should never feel guilty for doing what is right for you, even if it upsets your loved one. Just be sure that your decisions come from a place of love rather than anger or fear.

Don’t lose hope

Watching your loved one tackle addiction day after day is incredibly taxing. It can be a particularly hard pill to swallow if your loved one has tried to get clean before but continues to relapse. I know, I get it! it is like you are on the roller coaster with them. But it’s important to hold on to hope no matter how many setbacks you’re loved one experiences.

It may seem counter-intuitive to put yourself first, make time for you, but trust me, focusing on you, your needs, making time for your own maintenance or recovery is essential.

Here are some of the things that families often find helpful:

  • Carving out a small slot in the week to do something just ‘for you’. Re-read a favourite book, take a walk in the park, curl up with a magazine, take a bath, paint your nails, re-discover a long lost hobby.
  • Mindfulness. There are now many apps and local classes to help us practice mindfulness which is scientifically proven to improve wellbeing and reduce stress.
  • Re-connect with old friends. Families affected by drugs and alcohol often become isolated from previous social networks.
  • Get some exercise. A brisk walk, a cycle or a favourite class has many health and wellbeing benefits, not least that it will release endorphins that improve your mood.
  • Buy a diary, offload your thoughts, clear your mind
  • Take a break. Many family members of those who use drugs or alcohol feel unable to get away because of the unpredictability of their loved one’s behaviour. But a change of scene, even for a weekend, can make a huge difference to the rest of the family.
  • Find a local support group or an online forum where you can speak openly and offload how YOU are feeling

A word from the author

My dad died with as much dignity as an addict could, he wasn’t found on a street, out in the cold, he was at home surrounded by his daughters, he died knowing he was loved. I learned that dad was more than his addiction and in a bizarre kinda way we had a unique relationship, one that I will cherish If I am guilty of cooking meals, doing laundry, running errands then sue me? 

My dad’s addiction and ultimate death took my on a journey at the time I wasn’t ready or prepared for, but as I look back, I am no longer left with regrets or sadness, I am left with memories that will stay with me for a lifetime. Learning to let go of the guilt, the anger has helped me see beyond myself and see the past for what it was, a series of events that took place. I am a stronger version of who I once was and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Shithappens whether we like it or not, its how we deal with the shit that counts, so on that note.

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

Love Fordy x



Statistics suggest that someone in addiction can have the best chance of recovery when their families are educated and in recovery too, but be warned there are no guarantees. 


When dad came back into my life I could have never foreseen or predicted the journey I was about to take, I thought my addiction took me to dark places within myself, but dads addiction opened a new door to new fucking stratosphere of sadness and pain, but this time the option to turn to substance to help self medicate wasn’t there.

Trying to reason with someone who is permanently intoxicated is near on impossible, sometimes there would be a glimmer of hope, he would be hospitalised which gave him some clean time, I would get drawn into a false sense of security and hope, the promises of stopping drinking and sometimes he would stay clean for a time, but he would soon crave, kick-starting the cycle of madness all over again. – again It wasn’t easy.

Loving an addict is like grieving the loss of someone who is still alive, coming to terms with the hurt when you realize that the drug is more important than you. The sadness can be all-consuming and it used to come in waves, often I would push to one side my needs or the needs of others prioritising the needs of my dads. 

I found I had become addicted to dad, every waking moment, one moment I had hope, the next I would be waiting for the dreaded phone call to arrive. I was on a parallel journey with the addicted side of dad whilst he became obsessed with his drug of choice, I become obsessed with him.

My friends and family became sick of my incessant obsession with dad, I would turn down opportunities to socialise, soon the invites stopped coming. 

I knew first hand when I was entrenched in my addition I couldn’t see or acknowledge the damage I was doing to myself, let alone the damage and pain I caused my loved ones around me, that’s not to say I didn’t care, but I was so self-obsessed with myself I didn’t have the capacity to see. So I would try my dammed best to not take dads refusal of help personally, but the rejection and denial still hurt.

It seems counter-intuitive and is often greeted with confusion when someone suggests to a family member of an addict that they should seek help for themselves, after all its the addict who is ill, their rationale is “if the addict gets clean, then everything will go back to normal.” But the thing is, life will never go back to normal “Whatever the fuck normal means” 

I started to come to terms and to accept that whilst the opportunities to get clean might be there for dad if choice nor will isn’t there then I could never force him into recovery. Accepting he was on his own journey was hard, I had a choice whether or not I walked his journey with him, or walked away. In my case, I stayed, but I accepted I needed support.

Accepting help can take you on a journey, a healthier journey, helping you to become a more resilient version of yourself, you become more self-aware, your mind becomes less consumed with the addict. One of the biggest learning curves was accepting that I wasn’t responsible for dad’s addiction, the same as my mother or father wasn’t responsible for mine. 

The anger I felt, at the time was indescribable, resentments which I had bottled up from the past and anger around dad coming back into my life ate me alive inside. Then came the guilt, I would be ashamed of some of the thoughts that consumed my mind. I couldn’t talk to family, they were sick I hearing about my wows, I could see colleagues eyes roll at the very mention of dad. 

I found talking, and being able to offload the hurt and pain with like-minded people acted like a pressure valve slowly being released, it helped me lighten my thoughts, patterns of thinking, it helped me get back in touch with my own emotions, focusing less on the dad, what he said, what he did, or worse didn’t do

Support gave me a new perspective, the ability to see things differently. 

In my case eventually, dad’s alcoholism did kill him, I still live with regrets, I am not the person I was before dad and his addiction, but I am certainly a stronger version of who I was. Nothing in life is easy, but with the right support and willingness to accept support, it can help ease the burden. 

We only have one shot at this thing we call life but what I learned so far is that above everything that I have been through, is that the most important person in this world is ourselves. 

So for those still living on their wit’s end 

Please don’t forget you 

There is no denying you will still feel like crying 

Addiction is a heavy burden to bear

But try not to despair 

Remember“Deep down they know you care”

Make a pledge to yourself 

Be the best version of you

That’s all you can do

Your life is not over

Make time to mourn 

But be the best version you can

And continue to learn

Appreciate what you have got

We are not here long

Live one day at a time

Continue to be strong

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

Love Fordy x

What’s​ in your recovery​ toolkit?

It is the run-up to National Recovery Month my favorite month of the year.

All-day yesterday I had the privilege of being in the company of being surrounded by some incredible people all of whom carry their own recovery toolkits, each toolkit different from the next, but all equally they have supported them on their own recovery journey and like the chef and any tradesman or women our trades are worthless without our tools.

Just being able to share and laugh even, about the insane moments in our lives that for someone who has never personally experienced addiction may never understand or relate to is priceless. To talk about what was in our own recovery toolkits, we talked about the times the days when we left home without it? or misplaced it for a while, or even losing and having to replace it with a new one and start again.

Each an everyone of us has found our own recovery, developed our own recovery toolkit, everyones toolkits will look different and contain different things these could be 

  • Conversations from the past when the penny has dropped, the Eureka moments lets say…
  • A collection of tips and tricks of the trade shared by others who have openly shared some of their own tools from their own toolkits to help us in our own recovery. 
  • New understanding and self awareness of how our own addictive behaviour worked for us
  • Memories that remind us of how far we have come 
  • Mementos or souvenirs from completed programs or groups
  • Certificates, our reward for new found knowledge 
  • New found self esteem and self worth
  • Memories of volunteering or giving back 
  • Notes to remind us to make time for ourselves 
  • After years of selfishness, a bank of appreciation for our loved ones our communities 
  • coins of compassion

I don’t know about you, but I know that there will always be some new tools that I can take and use in my own toolkit, writing is one of them.

Each and everyone one of us has our own recovery toolkit “What’s in yours?” 

Love Fordy xx

Understanding and managing shame

I only share my knowledge with the intention of helping others. I have often questioned myself “Is it narcissistic to share openly about who I am?” But what I am learning is that if anything I take a risk of being misjudged every time I press the send button and a recent misinterpretation or accusation has just confirmed this. 

The post on here is a synopsis of my daily journalling, which for me has helped me understand who I am. Writing has helped me understand myself and if my writing has helped another person, then it s a bonus. But the primary goal is my own personal development. 

Sharing about some of my most vulnerable moments have actually turned out to be some of my greatest. I have been researching, reading and reflecting on the shame of late. As a result, I have felt better equip to recognise when I am feeling shame and I have learned how shame can silence us, how it has suffocated me and prevented me from moving forward. 

I have carried a lifetime of shame, shameful thoughts and feelings that have restricted me and held me back from being my full potential. In my journaling I able to better question emotional and mental shame moments, I revisit them, dissect them then disregard them and then move on. Researchers suggest that the difference between shame and guilt is the difference between “I am bad” or “I did something bad” so for example 

Guilt = I did something bad

Shame = I am bad

Shame for me has been like an invisible disease, shame has in the past consumed my thoughts and feelings and stunted my own emotional growth. Over the past year or so, I have learned more about who I am, but also the more I seem to learn about myself the less I actually know, which can be scary in itself. BUT, I would much rather live with the fear of the unknown, knowing who I am and learning to recognise and accept that “I am good enough”. 

When I open up or share some of the invisible fears derived from shame that have consumed me, people are often amazed or confused “how can you think like that?” Or “I would have never known that about you, you always seem so confident “ and that is precisely why I am willing to share my own vulnerabilities, because we live in a society where it isn’t trendy or socially acceptable to show “what might be described as weakness”. My view is that what society labels as being a weakness is actually a strength. 

We are all victims of our own emotions, and this isn’t about blame, but if we grew up in an environment where emotions were not acknowledged or talked about? Then how are we supposed to know how or what we are feeling?

I have been through my own shit, affected by my own addiction, my father’s addiction and have worked in the addiction field long enough to know that one of the key factors that keep people locked in a cycle of addiction is using substances or behaviours in order to avoid emotional pain. In, fact physical pain and intense experiences of social rejection hurt in the same way and just as we often struggle to describe or define physical pain the same can be said for emotional pain. 

Consider two scenarios. In the first, you spill a hot cup of coffee on your forearm and experience intense pain. In the second, you look at pictures of your former romantic partner, a person with whom you recently experienced an unwanted break- up; as you view each photo you feel rejected and experience another kind of “pain.” On the surface, these two events seem quite distinct. Whereas the former involves a noxious bodily stimulus, the latter involves the termination of a social relationship. However, cultures around the world use the same language—words like “hurt” and “pain”—to describe both experiences raising the question: How similar are social re- jection and physical pain? https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/108/15/6270.full.pdf

So if we are feeling highly emotional for what might appear for no reason? We need to learn to understand that there is always a reason. It can help to learn to question where this pain is coming from, if we don’t we will try our best to label it or push it to one side, deny the emotion, sometimes using substances to dull the emotional feeling or acting out in other distructivebehaviours.

Thats why you will see people seek out support groups or another professional, like a counsellor to help them navigate life. Many do this with the expectation that someone else can help them heal from what ever is causing the distress at that time, but the bottom line is that the only person that can heal us, is ourselves. There is no denying that we can learn from others, being able to share some of our own pain with others who have experienced similar emotions creates a safe space to explore ourselves. I haven’t got to where I am now, without the support and guidance of others who have walked a similar path and have been willing to freely share their journey with me.

Helping people understand themselves should never be about personal financial gain however I do class myself fortunate to be financially rewarded in my job, because in addition to problem solving I am also able to help people find themselves. I share what’s most personal to me because I fundamentally value the importance of being open and transparent and that’s why I love working in the recovery field, I get to work and meet some of the most vulnerable but also the most courageous people I know and I am learning as much from them, as they are from me. 

I will continue to use my position, my platform if you like to fight for the underdogs, for those who have been disregarded because of personal life choices or whose voice isn’t easily heard or ignored and if some people don’t get that, then that’s their problem, its no longer mine and I am slowly learning that it isn’t something to be ashamed about.

Love Fordy x

We are a society of fixers we see someone who’s broke and we want to fix them, but we simply cannot fix everyone!

There has been two women in particular who I have come across over the past couple of weeks, who have laid heavily on my mind of late – can’t you can tell? I am writing about them. There is one who sits outside shops, begging for money and the other one, more recent was someone who came to us just this week seeking support. 

I have sat myself down beside both women and we have sat and talked about our shared experiences, laughed about life, reflected on how shit life is and can be. Both women are sleeping rough, both have children that are no longer in their care, both have the most amazing eyes and if they washed more, took better care of themselves, if they loved themselves a little, gained some weight have the potential to be role models to other women. 

When I walk away from both I am saddened, because what I see is two amazing women, women with the potential to change themselves, to change their lived experience, I see women who have the potential to inspire others, but what they see is something very different are broken, they are lost, their lives are like cyclones, like inwardly spiralling winds, collecting debris on their path of self-destruction, rotating around life, with no respite, but when the wind settles and they see some of the destruction from their paths, the view can hard to accept. It’s even harder knowing that both women have been offered opportunities that could help them, help themselves but yet refuse or are not in a position to take a risk. 

I heard yesterday that one of the women who had accepted help and allowed staff to put a package of care in place, a place to stay, a bus pass so she could make her appointments, sorted out her benefits and ID didn’t turn up to the accommodation that evening! I am reminded that we are trying to help people to help themselves. If they are not ready for change, then you cannot force it, that lady suffered a panic attack during her assessment, was it too much too soon perhaps? Were staff too enthusiastic, overwhelming her? 

I often wonder “do we expect too much?” The reality is life can be shit, #Shithappens but then I am reminded of all the success stories out there, where individuals have overcome some proper major shit in their lives, whose lives had at one time spiralled out of control, but who have been able to rein the shit in, clean up some of the debris and take back some control.

Part of the recovery journey is about going back to face some of the destruction and cleaning up, fixing what damage they can, they both acknowledged that they had fucked up, made some bad life choices, but until THEY are ready there isn’t much else that we as a society can do! There will always be people who are simply not ready for change, wether that is out of fear, mistrust, mistrust in agencies, in themselves, christ I have been working on trusting myself for years and still am, so how must it be for them? 

I learned many years ago that there was only me who could fix myself, I learned that I couldn’t fix dad’s addiction and am coming to terms that as a society that we cannot fix everyone.

Love Fordy x

My pledge in your death, Is to continue to write

Looking back when I was a kid, you only ever really saw men in the pub, if women were there, they would always be accompanied by their bloke and kids were NEVER allowed on the premises. Some pubs even had little tuck shops, selling sweets from a hatch at the side of the bar, pacifying the kids playing outside whilst the parents drank inside. The pubs were dominated by guys drinking pints off loading their wows and drowning their sorrows, or in dads case celebrating his latest win for the darts team. Theres something called ‘Groupthink’ is a construct of social psychology which describes the actions of people who are more like to perform out of a desire to conform and a sense of loyalty to the group of which they are a members, Dad was part of this group.  Only in the UK is it acceptable and socially encouraged to drink on every occasion, if your feeling low “have a drink, drown your sorrows!” new baby  “wet it’s head” someone’s died “have a drink on the deceased’s memory” New house “lets christen it” your local teams playing, win or lose “lets get pissed to celebrate or commiserate” its Friday “you deserve a drink” got a new job, “lets go celebrate” fuck me even birthday’s, hen and stag do’s get strung out for a week nowadays, gone are the one night affairs people use this as an opportunity for a week long piss up. 

It’s no wonder that years later dads social drinking developed into dependancy, I see now how alcohol eventually stripped him of all his dignity, his identity and eventually his soul. The pride he once had, had long since gone drowned from years of looking down the bottom of a bottle, Alcohol became his crutch, his new mistress, he lived in the denial that without it he was nothing, he couldn’t socialise without it, he couldn’t live within himself without it, he couldn’t physically function without it and yet he couldn’t see that it was in fact the very same thing that was slowly killing and destroying him, not just inside but on the outside too. 

Alcohol wasn’t just destroying him, it was destroying me, his loved ones, those that once loved and admired him, pained at seeing what he had become, feeling powerless, knowing deep down that nothing you said or did would help, he had gone too far! And dad knew it too! I couldn’t see a way out, he had tried, he had tried many a time, but eventually, he gave up and had almost come to terms with his lot, his fate.  And so did we, this was dad, my dad, the guy who once turned heads when he walked in a room was long gone, replaced by a shell, hollow from the inside. As his daughters, we had to learn to accept that we couldn’t change dad, he was on his own journey and we had a choice whether or not we walked with him or walked away, we both chose to stay. 

Looking back i am sooo glad we did, i learned a lot, not just about Dad, but also me

Today marks the day
Since dad passed away, 
I still remember the day well
As clear as day
Those memories will never go away 

You made some life choices 
Some I will never agree 
You were who you were 
I could never change that

There is no denying
There were many times I felt like crying 
It was a tough journey
A heavy burden to bare
But we chose to stand by you 
And continued to care
Your death was not in vain though
There are many like you
Stripped of their dignity 
Identity, stripped of their soul
My pledge in your death
Is to continue to write
For all those unsung heroes 
Still in the fight
For all the families and friends 
Who despite their hurt and anger
Try hard not to walk away 
They are family 
And thats what families do
We stick by our own, 
binded like invisible glue 
For those still living on their wits end 
Please dont forget you 
You still count 
Try not to despair
They know you still care
Make a pledge to yourself 
Continue on your quest
Be the best version of you
Thats all you can do

Your life is not over
Make time to mourn 
But be the best version you can
And continue to learn
Appreciate what you have got
We are not here long
Live one day at a time
Continue to be strong 

Love Fordy x

That elusive “Window of opportunity”

Working with people in crisis, you will often hear the phrase “window of opportunity” what this means is that every so often that person that you are trying to support has come to accept something needs to change, they are receptive to take a risk and make some changes. 

After working in this field for over 20+ years, every day my peers, colleagues, from drugs, housing services or the voluntary organising offing drop in’s, offering respite from the cold,  or who provide free food, hot drinks, or replenish clothing are there constantly knocking on these peoples windows, trying to engage, hoping that one day, they will open their window and let them in and when that time arises they all will and do go above and beyond to help that person. 

However, the real challenge is once the window is open, it’s keeping it open, and let me be clear, that the person who first opened that window, has to help keep the window open too.

Familiy members, friends, staff or volunteers cannot force the windows from outside, as they have to be opened from within.  There are many reasons why people might decide to bolt their windows shut or refuse to open them, this could be fear, a lifetime of rejection, a cycle of addiction that has become someones comfort blanket what ever the reason, its reason enough for them to lock out the world. 

For those who dare open their windows, it might be they are sick of the cold, they are sick of their addictions, they are sick of causing harm or distress to others, they are sick of prison, or they are just sick of the cycle, the lifestyle that has become their life, what ever the reason, it doesn’t really matter, but what does matters is that they are receptive to taking a risk, trusting the staff but more importantly themselves. 

I feel privileged to be able to work alongside some amazing people, who themselves were locked in their own prisons, but who took the courage to open their windows and keep them open, the same people that are there day in a day out reaching out, knocking on other peoples windows hoping that one day, that person might let them in or to all the others, who want to help, because they simplly care.

Some days are tough when someone’s window that was once opened, has closed and this is a tough pill to swallow for those people trying to help.

To all my peers, colleagues, too all the families who’s mission in life is to help others or a loved one , I just wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU for never giving up and never give in.