Connecting the Dots: Everything happens for a reason.

Today is a particularly poignant day. It is precisely 16 years since Dad took his last breath. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. Me and my sister found him on the living room floor in his flat, and despite looking like shit, he was in a positive mood. He reached out his hand, asking, “Help me up, I’m going for a pint”. Little did we know that morning that they would be some of his last words and that he only had hours left to live.

Memories of his slow, painful death still haunt me, but the special memories we shared during this sad time have also inspired me to write. Steve Jobs famously said, “You cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back”, he also goes on to say that “You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. That you have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever”.

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, this belief has come from the lessons I have learned from connecting the dots from my past. For example

Had it not been for losing my insanity, I would never have found my reality

Had it not been for the time spent in Middlewood Hospital, I would have never learned or understood about mental health, as I do now.

Had it not been for the CPN (community psychiatric nurse), I would never have had the courage nor inclination to go back to education.

Had I not gone to college, I would never meet the teacher who encouraged me to pursue a counselling course.

Had I not done the counselling course, I would have never met the Manager from a day rehabilitation program, who offered me a volunteering job.

Had it not been working in a recovery environment; I would never have understood addiction as I do now.

Had it not been for my addiction, I would never have understood shame and how to break free from it.

Had it not been for my recovery and the things I learned about myself, I would have found it impossible to support Dad during his alcoholism.

Had it not been for Dad’s demands, I would have never turned to journaling to offload my anger and hurt.

Had it not been for Dad, I wouldn’t be writing this today

Had I not been sat waiting to be interviewed by Roni Robinson, I wouldn’t have met the previous guest on his show, writer, Beverly Ward and asked for her business card.

Had it not been for Beverly Ward, I would never have dreamed I’d be signing up for a writing retreat.

A lot of the above didn’t make sense at the time, but I now realise that they all happened for a reason. Only this week, a memory appeared on my Facebook, taking me back to when I was packing to go away on my first ever writing retreat. I remember before heading off, our old man joking, ‘Thal be coming back wearing crocks and be a born-again vegan’. None of that happened, but something did change in me during that weekend away.

It was around the same time; the news was dominated by a deadly virus and government plans for a lockdown. Just being away from all the bullshit and negativity and being around other writers afforded me space and time to seriously consider whether or not I had a book in me. One year on, and now I’m 75,000-words in, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing.

I recently suffered from writer’s block; in fact, I came to a full fucking stop! I’d gotten to a point in my life where events became blurry, and I found myself struggling to connect the dots. I panicked. I freaked out. I even questioned if the memories I had, were even true, did they even happen! I even contemplated throwing the towel in, how I could continue writing if I couldn’t remember the story. I was afraid that I would be cheating the readers out of part of the story, but the truth was scared, and I felt cheated myself, not recalling events.

Some people have said to me ..

‘Why put yourself through it?’

My response is always…

‘Life is sometimes shit! And it is ok to feel shit and it doesn’t last long’

I know that from personal experience, it will pass. It always does, and after a week of tormented thoughts and sleepless nights. Guess what? It did!

And I finally broke through the writer’s block.

I don’t usually advocate dwelling or living in the past. It’s in the past for a reason. But I do see the value in popping back every so often to remind yourself just how far you have come.  Nowadays, I don’t look back and feel ashamed. I can look back and feel grateful for everything in my past, especially the darkest periods.

I couldn’t save Dad from his alcoholism, but hopefully, I can help others in his memory, and I can make sure that his premature death wasn’t in vain. I’m not sure where this is all going, but as Steve says, ‘I just have to trust that the dots will somehow connect.’

Ps . If tha needs inspiring you can check out the rest of Steve Jobs  had to say clicking  here

Rest in Peace, Dad and thank you. Thank you for everything, including the Good the Bad and the Ugly, all my love Tracey x

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to receive post as soon as they are written CLICK HERE – I promise i will NEVER send you any spam, i’m not into all that shit, i just like to write!

Hormones and the cycle of change – Part of a woman’s recovery that’s rarely talked about

Most people in recovery have heard Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change, but what about the monthly cycle. I have spoken to many women whose periods stopped during their using but came back with a vengeance when they started their recovery journey. “I mean as if us women don’t have enough emotional shit to deal with.”

Let me take you back to before the drugs – My periods and mood swings have plagued me for years and had gotten notably worse after having kids, but I’d learned to live with them. My emotions and body could fluctuate like a frigging swinging pendulum. One minute I could be calm, collective, rational and feel great. I’m in a mental place where I am happy to accept my body, stretchmarks, and all the wobbly bits. The next minute, I could be an emotional wreck, I would mentally tear strips of myself. The self-hatred and self-loathing thoughts were made worse with the fluctuating weight gain, which left me feeling like a fat fucking Umper Lumper.

 

A plus sides of using – is that I didn’t suffer any of the emotional crap that came with the dreaded monthly cycle, let alone everything else that was going off for me. Using had become my coping strategy. It helped to numb my feelings. I was a hollow shell. I didn’t care about myself, let alone anyone else – well, that’s what I’d told myself. I now realise that behind the face of every addict, is in fact, someone who cares deeply but doesn’t know how to cope with their feelings.

 

A downside of recovery – There was one particular day. I remember the day well like it was yesterday.

 

I was in the psychiatric unit and into the second day into withdrawing from amphet when I came on my period. All was going well; I felt the usual sense of physical relief enveloped me like it had every month for the past few years. I felt that good. I even wondered if the doctors might have misdiagnosed me and wondered if I had been suffering from a “VERY BAD time of the month” instead of drug-induced psychosis!

 

Earlier that day, I’d been on the phone with my ex earlier and asked him to send some Tampax with mum when she visited later that day. I’d been frustrated during the call because all he was concerned about was when I was coming home. I vividly remember reminding him, and he “promised” not to forget before replacing the phone.

 

I was in a good place, much to the relief of Mum when she arrived. (the poor cow was still coming to terms that she had to visit her daughter in a psychiatric unit) So, when I asked after the Tampax and realised he’d forgotten, I totally lost my shit.

 

And I mean, I literally lost my shit…

 

I was kicking chairs in the canteen area and was about to throw one of them before a staff member came to try and calm me down. The emotions were overwhelming. I was shaking with rage; I couldn’t control myself; it took me ages to try and calm down. The staff suggested Mum should leave. I could tell she was shocked, scared and worried. I couldn’t blame her; I mean, who reacts like that over a Tampax!

 

“Me that’s who”

 

Looking back, I now realise that it wasn’t the Tampax, but that at that time, the last thing I needed to deal with was my hormones. My head was already fucked from withdrawing from the drugs, my life was a mess, and I was already emotionally raw.

 

It’s been years since that incident happened, yet I still remember it like it was yesterday. I have worked in the recovery field for over 25+ years. In all that time, I have hardily heard a professional have conversations that took into account women’s hormones, especially in recovery.

 

Emerging research suggests that some hormones may enhance the likelihood that some people will become addicted to a substance or behaviour or will struggle more with addiction in general. In particular, the hormones a woman produces during her menstrual cycle may make women more vulnerable to addiction and relapse than men. – That’s not an excuse to use every month, by the way…

 

Over the years, as well as having to deal with all the cause and effect of my using, I have had to learn to understand and come to terms and try managing ‘That time of the month’, and it has not been easy. I am not ashamed to say that I have to take Prozac, I have done for years to help manage my symptoms. I just wish more people talked about periods, peri-menopause/menopause, hence why I am sharing this. 

There is an old saying in the recovery community.

‘The best thing about recovery is you get your feelings back, and the worst thing about recovery is you get your feelings back.’

So, to all you women out there, who are smashing recovery, please remember that as well as being kind to yourself every day be, extra kind to yourself especially at “that time of the month

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to receive post as soon as they are written CLICK HERE – I promise i will NEVER send you any spam, i’m not into all that shit, i just like to write!

Love Fordy

 

 

 

 

Letting go of Anger…

Haruki Murakami was quoted as saying that “once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive…But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in”

This quote resonates with me, but what Haruki doesn’t mention or talk about is some of us walking out of the storm are still a little battered and still piss wet through and that we still need time to dry out. For some of us, there will be feelings and emotions during the storm that have left memories. Some still painful, unresolved that we haven’t had a chance to put then to bed and finally allow then to lay to rest.

I wish I could walk away from some of my storms without knowing or questioning how I made it through or how I managed to survive, but I can’t.

One of the best things for me that has come out of my addiction experience has been the recovery process. I have enjoyed the discovery of recovery, learning new things about myself. Understanding where my triggers and cravings came from, which was usually driven by an unmet emotional need. The best and most challenging parts have been learning to love me and accept my flaws, which has helped me draw a line in the past and carve a future path.

Writing has really helped with this process, being able to extract and dump all my thoughts onto paper has become a coping strategy. And up until recently, writing the book has been cathartic. So much so, I no longer suffer the torturous nightmares I used to have about Dad since I started writing the book.

But I hit a wall, writer’s block they call it. I fell out of love with writing, I found it hard to find the right words or articulate how I was feeling, I tried to write, but it wouldn’t come. At first, I put it down to hormones, COVID, being stuck in a rut, too much time spent alone, working from home, overthinking, I thought I was going fucking mad. But after a lot and I mean ‘A lot’ of soul searching, I realised it wasn’t any of these. You see I was stuck at a particular chapter, a part of my past, something I thought I had dealt with, put to bed, but then I realised that there was a wound that it hadn’t yet healed properly.

Now I have dealt with many emotions over the years, sadness, worthlessness, loneliness, shame, guilt you name it, the list goes on. I will spare you the specific details about the chapter as the details don’t really matter. What matters more was understanding why it still hurt so much.

I’m generally not a romancer I am a pragmatist at heart. Still, this memory had me romancing memories, stolen memories laced with regrets. For the past week, my days have been consumed recreating memories. Memories that I had missed out on because I was too wrapped up in meeting another man’s needs and demands. But this time something was different and after a lot of soul searching and patience, I finally realised what it was, it hit me, it was ANGER.

It took me totally unaware; I hadn’t realised just how angry I had been, I’d been blinded by it. I felt angry at myself, foolish even that I allowed myself to be manipulated, used, and no amount of self-compassion seemed to help. For some reason, I just couldn’t let it go.

I hated feeling this way, continually feeling unsettled, unsure about myself. Usually, an optimist I found myself being pessimistic about everything. I felt physically lethargic, I could feel myself withdrawing, and I needed to find a way out and quick, the only problem was I didn’t know-how.

But then the penny dropped – I needed to let go of the anger.

This revelation came to me at my weekly Monday Morning Writers group. I love this group, but that morning on the 1st Feb 2021 had been the first time since I joined that I didn’t want to be there, I had nothing to say, I hadn’t made any progress. I was stuck.

As usual, I was greeted by familiar faces, people I have grown to trust. I tried to be positive and my usual upbeat self, but instead I withdrew after saying my usual “hello’s”. I muted myself waiting for the session to start.

January had been a tough month for everyone for many reasons, so our writing prompt was to think about all the potential positives that February could bring. I took pen to paper, nothing came, looked up, and sat busy writing, they seem to have a lot to say, but I was stuck. Trying not to overthink I let my words flow…

I don’t want to think,

I don’t want to write.

I just want to board a plane and jump on the next flight.

I feel like I’m on the brink.

Life fucking stinks

Nowhere to run

Life’s stopped being fun.

I need to have a word.

Gi me head a wobble

I know thinking this way will only get me into trouble.

I need to find a way to pop this fucking self-pity bubble.

Fuck it I don’t know how!

It was time to feedback – At first, I was reluctant to share, everyone else’s seemed so positive and upbeat, and I didn’t want to bring the mood down, but I had to be honest.

‘I’m sorry folks I’m feeling like a Mardy Bastard today, and I’m not sure if I want to share.’

After a little encouragement, I shared what I’d written, I felt compelled to share the root of my anger, I continued to share the part of the story that was causing so much pain. I stopped sharing conscious I was taking too much time of the group, mindful that others hadn’t shared yet. Bev spoke first

‘It’s bound to be hard to write parts of this book because you’re taking yourself back to difficult places. You need to look after yourself while you’re writing it.’

‘You don’t have to be positive all the time,’ said another member of the group. ‘Thanks for being vulnerable.’

‘You have to remind yourself, as well as writing this book you have an emotionally demanding job too’ said someone else.

‘What might help here?’ asked Bev.

It didn’t take me long to respond ‘Well, for starters a baseball bat (to his head) might help or a small dose of COVID?’ I laughed, but deep down I meant i

‘No seriously, joking aside, I know I need to just let this anger go, I know I can’t change it, I know this’ – Just whilst as I said those words, I could feel a weight lift from my shoulders, but also in my heart.

DA Scottish guy who always makes me smile, laughed warmly ‘Tracey, we all struggle at some point and let’s face it, you aren’t writing a fictional story, this is real life’. And I knew he was right!

You see, I preach on about practising self-compassion and yet for the past week I hadn’t done any on myself. In fact, all I had done is berate myself. For the past week, I had allowed myself to live in the past. Worst still I hadn’t even really shared with anyone how I’d been feeling, let alone thinking. Well, not until that morning. It was no fucking wonder I felt like I was going to self-combust.

The session ended, and I was so happy that I’d made the decision to go along, despite my initial misgivings. And after a day of work-related meetings, I headed out for my evening walk or should I say stomp! As I gathered speed, instead of taking my usual turning up Birley Lane, I continued walking, heading for the narrow path on White Lane towards Ford. I turned on the torch on my phone to help navigate the narrow and uneven path, the roads were quieter than usual, and I was grateful for that. Every so often I stopped and took in the sky, every time I stopped, the clouds’ sequence seemed to have changed and the colours too. The further I walked the lighter I felt. with each step I was mentally letting go of a part of my past was just that ‘The past’. When I got back home, I went straight back to my room and revisited the words I’d written that morning and turned it into something else

I cried today 

But that’s ok

You see, my past caught me out.

I thought I’d moved on.

Always assuming I was strong.

Turns out I was wrong

I went back in time when I felt vulnerable and weak.

Back to a place when life seemed so dark and bleak

could choose to not revisit the past.

could leave it where it belongs.

But something inside me needs to rewrite all the wrongs.

A need to make sense of a past

For me to clear a way forward

But I’m working out this isn’t always fucking straightforward.

I know thinking this way will get me into trouble.

So, every so often I have to give me head a wobble and pop the self-pity bubble.

I know deep down that once I’ve drawn that line in the past.

I will be able to stay in the present, which feels a lot more fucking pleasant.

I’m learning that to continue

I need to practice some more self-compassion

Something that of late feels like it’s gone out of fashion

It was time to have a word wi me sen.

So, I gave me sen a big mental cuddle.

Told me sen that I’ll be alright

And reminded me sen of others who are going through worst plights.

I have just strayed off course.

And on reflection, life could be worse.

I’ve come so far and I ain’t going back.

Just for today, I made a promise to give me sen some slack.

I took some time out.

I had a word wi me sen

And finally found some of me lost yen

I’ve learned a valuable lesson this week, and that’s “Whilst our past can haunt us, they don’t have to continue to hurt us” That is only if we let them. Me writing and sharing this the final part of me letting go and leaving the past in the past, where it fucking belongs –

A special thanks to my Daughters, Danielle and Lauren and to all the guys in the Monday Morning Motivation Writing group.

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

Much Love 

Fordy x

What was your Shirley Moment?

I watched Shirley valentine over Christmas; it was a welcome distraction from the boredom that comes in between Christmas Day and New Year, I laughed at her talking to the wall because I realised that used to me!

I’ve always questioned everything; even as a kid, although I rarely voiced any of it because it got me into trouble when I did it. Unlike Shirley, I didn’t talk to the wall. Instead, I would swallow them, many of them unanswered to the back of my mind. Brought up in a working-class family on an estate called Gleadless Valley, the main priority for my mum and stepdad at that time was ensuring that there was food on the table whilst my Dad was preoccupied with chasing skirt or drinking with his mates. I had many unanswered questions. 

I’d hated being a kid for years, back then life was unfair. I craved for adulthood so that I could reach the age to demand answers to all my questions. And yet when it came, I realised I wasn’t ready for it, and still the answers never came. 

Aged sixteen and pregnant, and unlike my other friends who at the time were figuring out who they were, partying and carving a career out for themselves, where as my life had already been mapped out. God did I envy their freedom.

Like Shirley, in the film there were many a day I would privately reminisce about my childhood days and wonder where I went wrong, I felt insignificant, I had nothing to offer, and yet deep down I knew that there was more to life. The only shit part was I could never work out what it was and more importantly, how to find it. There was always something missing, and then I found drugs.

I got to the point when I had stopped questioning, sick of waiting for the wall to answer back, I reckon! So instead, I’d dutifully conformed and started to play along with the charade commonly know as life. It wasn’t until I found myself sat in a hospital ward in Middlewood hospital a few years later. Admitted with drug induced psychosis that I realised that I was well and truly fucked. I would potter around the ward and listen to other patient’s stories, many had given up, but I wasn’t ready to give up, not yet.

It’s fair to say I did a hell of a lot of thinking in Middlewood, fuck me there wasn’t much else to do!  

I shared and offloaded my thoughts and feelings with the staff. I realised how much I had been bottling up and that had been the first time I had acknowledged my thoughts and feelings, let alone deal with them.

For years I’d expected everyone else to be able to answer all my questions for me, but soon realised that most of the questions could only be answered by myself. But first, I needed to listen to what was being asked? and instead of questioning my thoughts and feelings, I learned to sit with them, listen, really listen, and have a #properwordwimesen Questions like

Why doesn’t anyone love me? turned into “Why don’t you love yourself?Or “Why do people treat me like shit?” – turned into “Why do you let people treat you like shit?” or the most frequently asked question was “There has got to be more to life” turned into “What do YOU want from life?” and I realised there and then,  I had never really asked myself before.

Since leaving Middlewood, life hasn’t been easy, and I continue and still make mistakes, the difference this time though is  I will question the mistakes and examine the role “I” played in the mistakes instead of blaming everyone else.

I still have days when life gets in the way, when it gets on top, I feel disillusioned, scared but have have worked out that when this happens it’s generally because I have allowed life, the news, social media distract me from myself. So when this happens, I make some time and take some responsibility to #Haveawordwimesen

Often I find going for a walk, reading a good book or offloading my thoughts down in a journal helps me give me head a wobble. Doing this alone helps remind me to save some of the compassion I fine myself freely giving to others, to saving some back for myself. Sometimes I even go back to the fundamental questions I asked myself years ago in Middlewood Hospital.

“There’s got to be more to life.” 

Another thing that has helped over the years has been surrounding myself with people who have faith in me, especially when I had little in myself. Over the years, I have learned that I choose who I allow in my life and can now tell the difference between those who support me instead of exploiting me.

Find your tribe –the people who are on the same page as you. And remember that if it turns out that they are not on the same page, you can always end the chapter or start a new fucking book.

Learning to, listen to trust and have faith in yourself isn’t always easy, but it is achievable if you put in the effort. Working on yourself isn’t like a regular nine to five job, it’s a full time one. And listen its ok to have a break once in a while or to have a “fuck it moment!” but remember you can always go back to the basics and remember all the answers you need are in you.

I still don’t know if Shirley ever stayed in Greece or returned to the UK. I suppose it doesn’t matter, what matters is that after years of feeling lost, she finally found herself and realised she was worth more. Ps, if you haven’t seen Shirley Valentine before or haven’t watched it for a while, I recommend you do.

The End

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

Much Love 

Fordy x

Christmas is coming… Check yourself before you wreck yourself

People look forward or dread Christmas day for many reasons, it  can  be an opportunity for relaxing or relapsing – you decide

A Christmas Poem – By Fordy

The pressure of family expectations.

The awkward conversations with family members you speak to only once a year,

Worrying about money, the money you haven’t got.

A chance to compete with the neighbours

Check out who’s lights are the most outrageous.

To pretend that Father Christmas existed.

Time for Santa’s elves to get mischievous

For some, it’s to celebrate Jesus.

An excuse for the stretchy pants and to get ready to stuff their faces

To attend midnight mass.

To reflect on Christmas past.

Remember a loved one whose been laid to rest.

Or to put Jamie Oliver’s recipe to the test.

To get pissed and forget about life.

Take a day off from the worry and strife.

A chance to wallow in self-pity

Tell a joke from the Christmas cracker and pretend to be witty.

A chance to tell someone you love that you care

Or a time to envy others and compare

The time of year to get everyone together

Moan about the weather

The lack of snow, ya remember all that white stuff we used to get years ago.

For some, it’s a much-needed day off work.

For others, it’s just another money-making machine.

Or the shops have closed a chance to save some cash.

Then there are ones who get up early in preparation for the boxing day money saving dash

However, you see Christmas day, regardless of previous rituals that have been encouraged over your lifetime, remember Christmas can be about anything you want it to be

CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

You decide if your previous Christmas revolved around any of the above. You didn’t like them – this is your chance to make Christmas about whatever YOU want it to be – I’m not suggesting you take the fun out of Christmas, but it’s also not an excuse to say ‘fuck it’ this time only comes around once a year and give yourself a day off. It’s another day, how you interpret it will dictate and shape whether or not this year will be a negative or a positive experience.

There is no right or wrong, but you do get to decide.

Happy Fucking Christmas

Love Fordy

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 with others – and if you don’t then do nothing that’s ok too 

How’s your resilience bank account looking

I always had a voice and an opinion, but I rarely voiced it, you see I grew up at a time surrounded with messages such as “kids should be seen and not heard” or “ya made ya bed now in it”. Emotions and feelings were either black or white, there was no room for any shadiness. Another phrase that would particularly piss me off was “you should always respect your elders” like their age was the only thing that qualified them as being wiser or more knowledgeable, which was bullshit!

  • Years ago, I used drugs to numb my emotions because I was so scared of how they made me feel.
  • I would avoid trying something new out of fear that I might fail.
  • I would say and do what others expected of me out of fear of being rejected. I would bottle all my thoughts in my head, afraid to share them just in case someone thought I was mad or worse insane – fuck me that worked out well!
  • I was consumed with self-doubt, I never gave myself a chance, so I didn’t need anyone else to put me down, nah fuck that I did a pretty good job of that mi sen.

For years I tried my best to conform, to ‘Shut up and put up” but none of it made me happy, I always felt discontent and disillusioned by life to the point that I nearly gave up. I was emotionally bankrupt  and I didn’t have a fucking bank account, let alone a metaphorical one.

“So what changed” I hear you ask?

I’d been brought up to always be considerate of others, ‘It was the right thing to do” I was never inclined to consider myself. Thinking about oneself was deemed selfish. But that started to change, I started taking notice, and when I say taking notice, I don’t mean taking notice of everything going off around me, I started taking notice of me and instead of questioning everything and getting fuck all back, I started looking for some answers, my of which only i could answer.

I found that there were people and places where people were willing to listen to all the things I’d always thought, but never dared share or voice out loud. It was a relief to I realised that there were others like me! Many were on a journey and had similar destinations in mind.

It was like being accepted into a fucking “secret society” that I never even knew existed.

But unlike some other societies, you didn’t have to go through some dodgy ritual to gain membership or acceptance. Fuck that! most of the members had gone through enough dodgy shit, they didn’t need to go through anymore. There were no oaths, no pledges of allegiance the only oath you need to make was to yourself. That’s where I learned about something called resilience and best of all I learned I had some already, only I never knew it.

Resilience isn’t something you’re born with, tha can’t buy it online and it isn’t just for a select few neither. Most of us have our own bank accounts, right? I now have what I call my resilience bank account and trust me it far more valuable than whats in my Natwest account. Over the years I have come to realise the importance of having some time out, making time to #Haveawordwimisen  It’s the place where I bank my happy memories, I invest and deposit positive thoughts about myself daily.

(like now) to sit alone with my feelings and thoughts including the uncomfortable ones and let go of the ones that don’t serve me.

Every so often I will get a copy of my resilience bank statement to remind myself how far I have come and to make sure I’m not going into the red.

I have a special volt in my account, that’s for the crappy memories, parts of my past., there is only me who has a key. Occasionally I might pop it open have a look, but then I’ll put it back where it belongs in the past.

This hasn’t been easy Resilience isn’t about pushing through and accepting shit and it isn’t about taking control or carrying on regardless of how you feel. Resilience is about developing strategies that help you manage when facing situations, you find stressful instead of running away from them.

I know on the outside that some people think I have got this life malarky all sorted, but they couldn’t be more wrong. There are some days I have to work fucking hard, sometimes all it takes is looking at situations differently or considering a different perspective.

My resilience has developed and changed over the years, based on how I’ve responded to experiences, my environment at the time and all the social interactions. I have come to accept that I will be forever having to learn about myself and accept that #shithappens – it’s how I manage it that counts.

There are now loads of support groups freely available that can help develop your resilience. The best part is their doors are open to anyone who has a willingness to take ownership of their shit and a desire to change, to improve themselves on their terms.

So, stop feeling sorry for ya sen, get off ya ass and start investing in your resilience bank account – cos your worth it

Love Fordy

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, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

Recovery Rush

I used to get my rush (or high) from Speed, Amphet. It was a rush like nothing I had ever had before, I felt invincible, something I hadn’t felt for years. it was physical, it was emotional. That small bit of white or pink powder could transport me from what was causing me pain and offering a brief respite from the feeling of hopelessness and unhappiness.

But it didn’t last long.

Ask anyone in recovery and they will tell you that most of their lives became consumed with chasing that elusive rush, but it got harder and harder.  They will tell you how they still chased that elusive rush or high whilst their lives were unravelling around them and how they still chased that rush despite the consequences. Loss or breakdown in relationships, poor physical and mental health, loss of jobs, homes and even worse their children. Addiction is selfish, it isolates us, it isolated us from loved ones around us, but more importantly, we become isolated and disconnected from ourselves.

Recovery from addiction starts by learning to put down the synthetic highs and replacing them with natural ones. Recovery isn’t just about ridding or detoxing our bodies of the synthetic poison. Recovery is also about detoxing our minds, what we watch, what we listen to, who we listen to and what we read. But more importantly how we talk and listen to ourselves.

So, what is a recovery rush?

I would describe my recovery rush or high comes from listening and reading stories of how people from all walks of life have overcome or come to terms with the very reasons that we turned to substances in the first place. Now my natural rush comes from hearing about how people have overcome adversity and who feel happier in their skin. The special rushes come hearing people talk about newfound self-awareness, watching people deconstruct the physical and emotional walls that they built over the years.  It is a privilege to witness the freedom and a sense of relief and recognition that they are deep down worthy of better.

I haven’t yet once met anyone who chose to become addicted, who set out with the intentions of sabotaging themselves, or their families and loved ones. Addiction isn’t a lifestyle choice it is driven by a complex set of internal and external factors both unique to the individual concerned. Addiction’s not a Monday – Friday job, it’s 24/7 its 365 days a year. Once a year, people use September as an opportunity to speak up and share their recovery journeys. Offering hope and inspiration others who might be questioning their own.

I am very proud of Sheffield’s Recovery community, which is rich in diversity but more importantly, it is driven by the people in recovery themselves. Selflessly giving back, offering a listening ear to someone who has felt unheard for years. Its visible recovery at its finest, being surrounded by people may be weeks or even years ahead of you, but who you can look up to as role models. You hear about their recovery journeys and hear similarities in their stories that reflect your own and can feel an instant connection. A safe space to explore painful memories emotions that you have tried to block out for years can start to bubble to the surface, but it ok because you are surrounded by likeminded people who have been through something similar. For many in the recovery community, it’s like finally finding your tribe. A sense of connection and belonging. Sheffield has many tribes (groups) ranging from NA, AA, CA, SMART, ARC, SASS, Kickback and De-hood recovery peer groups. There are also loads of recovery led support services such our treatment providers, Hep C mentors, Shelter, The Greens offer specialist support the list goes on and on.

The key for those in early recovery is finding their own a tribe, or even more than one tribe it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter what tribe you chose, just as long as it works for you. A tribe where you feel connected, a healthy recovery community doesn’t mind about how you became addicted, what you did during, your using, or how long you have been clean, what substances you misused or how many lapses or relapses you have experienced. All that matters is that you are trying, that you are doing your best and trying to learn from past mistakes and are trying to unlearn, old learned behaviours, to become a better version of who you are, a happier version, someone who doesn’t need synthetic external substances to make your ‘feel’ better within your skin.

There are challenges though, whilst it is priceless being around others that can support and inspire we mustn’t start to become dependent on others for our recovery rush. Internal happiness is something we all have to continuously work at don’t lose sight of how to develop your internal recovery rush.

Steps to work on developing your Recovery Rush

  • Get into new habits, like doing a daily gratitude list
  • Remind yourself that you are worthy of happiness, just like everyone else
  • Remember what you have achieved how well you have done
  • Even if you haven’t got a lot, be thankful for what you have got
  • Continue to develop and work on healthy relationships not just with others, but yourself
  • Do the things that make you feel get about yourself that make you happy
  • Observe the world around you without being immersed in it.
  • Connect with yourself daily
  • Start to learn to love the parts of you that for years you have disliked

Sheffield Recovery Community’s main purpose is promoting all the recovery tribes in Sheffield, we don’t favour one over another because each tribe/group offers their own uniqueness.

To find out more about Sheffield Recovery Community you can either go to our FaceBook page or head to Sheffield DACT website to find out more about treatment and if you want to be really inspired head to the Recovery Page  to read and listen to some amazing stories

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, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

 

Taming & unchaining shame

It’s been with me for years, I could best describe shame as being unable to say what I really wanted to say, suffocated by other people’s opinions or expectations. Sometimes my mind felt it felt like I was a contortionist, my thoughts and emotions were permanently being twisted into what I now understand to be unnatural positions. I wanted to share my most recent poem it’s called

Taming & unchaining shame

He’s there

Mr shame dangling the key

For years I thought I would never be free

Always secretly wanting more

But too afraid to tell

Because if I blew my cover

My life will be hell

So, I would continue to conform, to societies norm

Like a contortionist trying to fit in

But it never seemed to work

And I could never seem to win

I could not find my place

I had accepted my fate

I continued taking the blows

I shelved my desires

But in reality, my life was a show

Each time I gave in

I lost part of my soul

And wondered if I’ll ever feel whole

I wasn’t a bad person

I was just too eager to please

But this got me into trouble because I’d neglected my own needs

But over time I started to question

Mulling over my past, the years of rejection

And realised it was time for some honest reflection

I started listening to my heart

It was time for a fresh start

I learned the peace that I’d been yearning had always been there

All I had to do was take a step back and practice some self-care

The more I truly listened

The more I heard

And I finally found the courage to break free from the herd

I took back the key, from my jailer called shame

And for the first time in my life

I feel like I’m part of life’s game

 

 

Remember you hold the key

Maybe its time to get honest

It’s time to face your reality

#Fuckshame

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, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

 

The importance of practising self-compassion in early recovery

I am not a woman faith, I simply cannot get my head around buying into ancient stories told many years ago, by a man who I have never met. But I did learn an important lesson during my early recovery and it was in a church.

Years ago, I was at a friend’s house one day, having a coffee when another friend of hers called round for a chat. I’d never met her before, but as my friend introduced her to me, she told me that as well as being a mate, she was a medium. I scoffed at the thought, she looked far from being someone I would have thought a medium, whatever they are supposed to look like. She sat opposite me at the table and started to tell me how she could see I had just been through a bad time, but that things were looking up for me. I wasn’t impressed by her forwardness, I mean I hadn’t asked for a bleeding reading.

I laughed, she couldn’t have been further from the truth, I hadn’t just been through a bad time, my life was a fucking mess. I’d not long since come out of Middlewood, I was living in a one-bedroomed flat, with two kids and had nothing to my name, I remember thinking, ‘you haven’t got a fucking clue mate.’

She said that she could see me at the cathedral in the city centre, I scoffed at her words, I had never been to the cathedral and had no plans on going neither. She said some other things, but to be fair I took no notice of her. I didn’t stay long at my friends that day and left thinking she was a full-on weirdo, so disregarded everything she had said and never thought about her again.

A few months had gone by since my encounter with said weirdo, life was still rough. I had recently been given a three-bedroomed maisonette but had no money to furnish it. I was a single parent trying my best to make their lives as normal as I could, ashamed of myself as a parent for allowing my kids to live with nothing. I had walked away from my old associates, and the familiar chaotic lifestyle, I had stopped buying and selling stolen goods. I was no longer using, I had been clean for a while, but it was still hard. I had to sell my beloved car to help make ends meet, I was lucky at the time to have a closed friend who had been recently banged up and insisted that I make use of his car to help me out. Apart from the close family, the only person that I relied on was a CPN nurse who would come and visit me once a week for support.

One morning, I had a sudden urge to go to the church, at first, I tried to disregard the thought, I had hardly any petrol in the car and I certainly had no money for parking. But it wouldn’t go away, something, someone said ‘it’s ok, it will be ok’ as I drove into the city centre, I felt a sense of calm, a sense of purpose a feeling I hadn’t felt for a long time. All I knew was that this feeling was something different, a sense of calm that no amount of drugs had given me, despite all the promises.

I parked outside the cathedral, I remember thinking how large it was, being close up and wondered how I would get in or even if a building of this stature even opened its doors to members of the public or people like me who had no faith. Thankfully the entrance doors were open, walking in slowly I noticed how the building was cool, but at the same time, it was warm and inviting.

This is the first time I had ever stood inside the building; I had walked past it many times in the past during visits to the city centre. I was in awe if of the architecture, the intricate designs that had been crafted out of stone, by someone’s hands many years ago.

There were rows and rows of benches in front of me, with only a couple of people sat silently apart doing what? I didn’t know. All of a sudden, like being woken from a spell, I looked around and questioned why I was there, I felt out of place, I questioned ‘I didn’t belong here’ and was in two minds to turn around and walk out of the building, but something, someone said, ‘it’s ok just keep walking’.

The silence was deafening as I walked deeper into the church. To the right of me, I could see a set of benches separate from those in the main hall, I made my way there. I sat on one of the benches, I looked up and thought ‘now what?’

As I sat down and I felt vulnerable, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. My mind took me back to recent events and I shuddered at the reminders, ashamed of how I had hurt loved ones, but also hurt and angry towards those who I felt had let me down or who had hurt me. The memories came in waves my emotions got the better of me and I realised I was crying, silently. For a moment, I was glad I had chosen this part of the church, out of the way from the others so that they couldn’t see my tears.

Alone in my thoughts, I recalled each memory that had brought me pain and heartache, but as the pain started to peek, I was enveloped by what felt like two big arms, wrapped around my shoulders and heard whispers of someone saying, ‘it’s ok, let it go’. One by one the memories came, heartache bubbled, threatening to overwhelm me but just as it reached its peak, I heard the comforting words followed ‘it’s ok, let it go’. As well as the comforting words, it physically felt like someone, something was washing away the pain and hurt that I must have been carrying around, for how long, who knows. All I know is though that it felt like nothing I had ever felt before.

At one point, I panicked, I suddenly remembered my car parked outside without a ticket on it, worried that when I returned that there would be a yellow ticket. A fine I was in no position to pay, but then the words came again ‘it’s ok, let it go’.

I don’t know how long I sat in the church, but I stayed there until there was nothing left, no more tears, but best of all, the sense of sadness that I had been carrying around with me since walking out of the gates of Middlewood was no longer there.

I have never felt calm like it, I felt like a different person. As I walked out of the church doors, I felt like I was in a parallel universe, it was like walking into a different world. The hustle and bustle of buses and people going about their day to day business. Shoppers were completely oblivious to little old me standing there, still confused about what had just happened to me. I felt a sense of lightness as I walked towards the car and even before approaching it, I knew that there would be no yellow ticket waiting for me. And when I got there, there wasn’t, and it wasn’t until a few days later that the conversation I had previously had with the said ‘weirdo’ came back to me.

I still to this day don’t know who was talking, who was comforting me or even if it was me comforting myself all I know is that it felt like I had truly experienced compassion for the first time in my life. During some of the lowest moments in my early recovery, I learned the importance of self-compassion and it is something I still practice to this day.

I often find that I have an abundance of compassion for others, but still to this day find it hard to save some back for me. There are still times when I doubt or mentally berate myself, but then I’m taken back to that memory in the church. It’s a reminder that I don’t have to carry negative thoughts or feelings, I can choose to let them go. So when I am feeling low, I make time to practice some self-compassion.

Practising self-compassion

Investing in self-compassion takes time to accumulate, you cannot buy it off a supermarket shelf, it isn’t like winning the lottery where it happens to a small amount of ‘lucky people’ anyone can acquire it and it is something that can be learned and cultivated.

Practising self-compassion is about treating yourself with the same kindness, gentleness, and acceptance you likely already extend to others. it about accepting that falling short or being average is simply part of being human, and therefore unavoidable.

So, if I’m, feeling low I will often take myself off into a corner practice a little self-compassion, go Haveawordwimesen and tell myself ‘to let it go’ and remind myself ‘I’m doing my best’.

Do you invest in self-compassion? If you don’t? why not open your own Self-compassion bank account, there is no joining fee, just a willingness to be kinder to yourself. You can make a daily or weekly deposit of self-compassion and before you know it you will be the wealthiest person you know.

My circumstances have changed a lot since living in that bare, three bedroomed maisonette on Arbourthorne, but if I have learned one thing in the past 50 years, it is that whilst material wealth can be nice, it isn’t as important as our mental & emotional health. I could have the nicest house, car, or holidays abroad, but it is worthless if I don’t like myself.

Click here for a great article about it

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, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

Love Fordy x

What constitutes Recovery ?

Someone recently asked me about my recovery journey and why alcohol is still present in my life? It was a reasonable question and I was more than happy to explain…

The definition of “recovery.” The very word is the centre of much debate in the addiction community; some say it’s simply abstinence or remaining sober, while others believe it’s a lot more complex and multi-dimensional. There’s controversy over whether someone is truly in recovery if they’re on maintenance medication, such as methadone and/or if he/she can be in recovery if they use in moderation without harmful consequences after a sustained period of sobriety.

I am inclined to believe it’s a lot more complex and multi-dimensional, but it doesn’t matter what I think, or what others think, it’s what works for “YOU”.

It has been a long time since I have picked up an illicit drug, but I still drink alcohol, socially with friends. My drinking has never really been problematic,  I have my boundaries and accept the consequences of having one too many. I have never had an issue with alcohol,  but I know from my father’s alcoholism and from working int he recovery field for the past 25 years that not everyone is like me, and that’s because they aren’t me.

I personally like SAMHSA’s definition of Recovery which is described as being “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self- directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

My personal belief is that the foundation for any recovery journey is learning to accept that it is YOUR responsibility, but this is can be a lot harder than it sounds. The fear of change was almost crippling at times and I thought of throwing the towel in many a time. But with support from a CPN worker, my GP and of course my family I didn’t.

Family and friends can help direct and guide you to sources of support, but it is YOUR responsibility to accept support, it might be from support groups, one to one support or online support. It doesn’t really matter, what matters is how YOU use your newly acquired knowledge to help fix and shape YOU as YOU see fit.

I believe that recovery takes time, in the early stages it is helpful or even essential to distance yourself from peers or influences who are not in a position or who have no interest in your recovery. That’s why seeking support from others who have already started their recovery journey is invaluable.

My recovery journey started when I realised I had hit my “rock bottom”. My rock bottom was a place where I could no longer hide from the consequences of my drug use from my family, but importantly myself. I was emotionally and physically bankrupt, with no evidence of who I used to be, my beliefs and values that I once held dear had been smashed to smithereens.

I often use the analogy that my recovery journey has been like a jigsaw puzzle. A journey of self-discovery, where I learned that using substances was a poor solution to some deeper unresolved issues.

There are still parts of me, that are like unfinished jigsaw puzzles, they look untidy. That is why reflection, making time to contemplate, making time to reflect feelings and thoughts, is important to me, now still twenty plus years since my life was turned upside down from using drugs.

I may reflect in private, but my recovery journey hasn’t been in isolation I have listened and learned from others. Learning from others and about myself has helped me find a piece of the jigsaw that was missing, sometimes in place’s I would have never thought of looking in before.

I see a lot of people will seek out others for help, with the hope and expectation that someone else will be able to them find all the missing pieces and complete the puzzle for them. But this is futile because whilst they can help you find your pieces; it is YOU who has to be ready to finally fit the jigsaw piece where it belongs.

I love the sense of accomplishment of completing a jigsaw, being able to set it to one side and admire it for what it was, a part of my life. Every completed jigsaw puzzle is filled with colour, some are dark some are more colourful, but once completed, the puzzle tells a story, me or about one part of my life. Any unresolved feelings of hurt or memories are resolved and laid to bed which allows me to move onto the next jigsaw.

Like with most jigsaws, I find it easier to start with the edges, it helps me set the scene, crisp and clear lines, I like the neat frame. Working inwards, I search through the pile of pieces and am happy when I find the piece I was looking for, fitting perfectly bringing me closer to completing the puzzle.

I am coming to accept, that suffering is inevitable and that sometimes it can take longer to find the missing jigsaw piece than others, but I truly believe that if you persevere you WILL always find it.

Getting to this place, or learning to understand me to this degree, has taken years of practice and I will probably be still be reflecting and learning about myself until I draw on my last breath.

Nobody can understand me better than myself. Getting honest about the things I might do wrong, being able to admit to things I need to change, can only come from within me. Willingness to see and change, the decision to change what I don’t like about my life, can only come from me.

I have managed to complete a lot of different Jigsaws over the years and I have learned a lot about myself since walking out of those doors of Middlewood hospital twenty plus years ago.

Before my drug use, I used to measure my self-worth based on someone else’s views and opinions, I also did it for a while in early recovery. But I no longer measure my recovery based on what drugs I used or for how long I used them, just like I no longer measure my recovery.

I choose not to call myself an addict, I don’t tell people I am in recovery, but I am willing to explain that I am just someone who fucked up on drugs in my past but has worked hard not to go back to that dark place. I no longer have any regrets or shame. In fact, I am glad I got to experience the darkness because had I not, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am a passionate advocate, a champion for recovery regardless of what recovery method people use, the key isn’t about it works for them, it’s about if it works for YOU.

I will never pass judgment or measure someone else’s recovery, especially based on my own. Everyones,  recovery journey is unique to them and what works for them might not work for you, so it is YOUR responsibility to find out what works for YOU and if it is working then stick to it.

Love Fordy x

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