Less than a month away from 2 years.

Nearly 2 years away from stopping drinking. Here is the latest.

It’s a been a little while since I last discussed my progress on not drinking so I figured this was as good a time as any to review and update. This is as much for myself as for anyone following and reading my blogs.

Unfortunately, I broke in September. I am a touch disappointed but let me explain a little more. The break was not a bad break and always I maintained I would never say “never again”.

I had one drink! That was it.

It was at my best friend’s wedding, he was my best man and I one of his groomsman. I always intended not to drink on the day and across the weekend. Everyone present at the wedding that knew me also knew this, there was no pressure. If anything the time to perhaps have had a drink would have been at the socially distanced stag do the previous much, I certainly felt more tempted on that occasion but was incredibly pleased I didn’t.

So on the wedding day before the ceremony the Groom presented all the groomsman with a small gift which was a small wooden box with names printed on. Inside were a set of Ted Baker cuff links as well as a printed whiskey glass and 50ml miniature of Glenmorangie (or equal high quality whiskey). I actually felt a little awkward here because the Groom knew I wasn’t drinking, so why had I been presented with a gift as such? I can only assume it was keeping things equal amongst all others. But I pondered for a good few moments while others were chatting. It was obvious to me some sort of toast was to happen here. Do I get involved or do I not? I made the decision that in this moment I will make an exemption and for one instance I will break my No drinking rule for my good friend on his once in a lifetime special day and be a part of something special. Was I nervous that one drink may lead to more, incredibly oddly enough, but went with it. So I poured about half of my miniature into the glass and enjoyed that moment. As already noted there was no pressure on me and the Groom even whipped out a can of Pepsi for me because he knew. But I was decided and I joined in. It felt good, given also it was Whiskey I properly felt it as well, probably not the best first choice after a year and three quarters but it was the only drink I had on the day. I didn’t touch another and continue to not be drinking still to this day. The other half ended up in the Groom’s whiskey glass also.

The temptation to continue and make a full night of it was there as well. But I did not and I didn’t even feel tempted to indulge, the bar was also open. There was table wine but I didn’t need it or actually want any more, other than to enjoy that one moment with an incredibly good group of lads. I am so pleased about this and that I could leave it at that. It might mean that down the line I might also toast other important occasions, it might not, I will take it as I feel on the day. Occasions such as taken my son out for a beer on his 18th. Special anniversaries or birthday’s, I don’t know. But it is nice to know there is some control about me.

So whilst I may be a touch disappointed I have no regret and I can absolutely say the choice was mine and I was fully in charge of the situation. So the positives for me far out way the negatives. It was an enjoyable moment that I shared in.

Interestingly whilst in this time of international crisis and feeling isolated. Not just my not drinking excluding me from wider society but the virus itself. When those social occasions arise that I am involved with I really do not feel excluded because I’m choosing not to be a part of the drinking that is occurring. This is also something very cool and pleasing. I can make of the event what I want to make of the event without feeling judged or criticized by piers for the lifestyle choice I have made.

So maybe another update at the 2 year mark, or is that reset now? I don’t know. But either way I’m keeping strong and I’m really happy about that.

Seriously, what the fuck?

Ranting out loud. Apologies in advance for the lack of positivity and many questions without answers.

I’m ranting loud on here because I’m not sure where else I can in this crazy world of social media. I just don’t understand things right now at all.

What’s going on? Everything feels crazy from a local scale to a global scale and I just don’t know what to do.

We’re in a global pandemic. It’s Covid-19 and cases are rapidly on the rise in the UK and it feels like no one cares. The entire situation is making me feel very recluse from society. I want to push out more, mainly for my family but I just don’t know how to do that and feel safe. I’m lacking trust in those around me that I should trust. But I view social media, I see people behaving irresponsibly and not social distancing, going to busier locations like pubs and restaurants. It seems all too risky for me and I fear this virus.

I don’t understand the lack of social compliance in basic rules. Wash hands, wear a mask, give space. That’s not hard. But apparently it truly is hard for many, I don’t get it?

This coupled with the fact I stopped drinking (ok one slip in September where I toasted my best friend at his wedding with a whiskey but that has been it since December 2018). I’m really pleased with myself but I know this has made me a recluse in part. This coupled with being a new parent that wants to keep my family safe at this challenging time, and myself safe to be able to provide for them. But it’s all hard.

We’ve got some big life hurdles coming up and my feeling is we’re just not that important to many friends and family. We’re not the first they call when they’re looking to socialise. I’m just as guilty arguably, I’m not chasing socials because I just don’t know where to go at this time. We did have a lovely couple of hours at a park with NCT friends, it was a cool catch up and flowing conversation. I attended my mates wedding, but that was just me and not my family. I’m not putting us out there as a family on social media. Do you get forgotten if you do not present yourself here? Fuck knows.

I see posts on social media of friends with kids and i worry for my child’s development being just stuck with my wife and I in lockdown. We’re trying our best but is it enough. I’m sure at this point a few years back I’d have been cracking open a bottle just to chill…. that’s not helpful though.

I’m not exercising or playing badminton either. This is not helping. I need to get exercising, I keep saying it but struggle to do. Badminton can wait. It’s meeting up with people that I don’t fully trust, they just want to play badminton. I don’t feel this still.

And there’s no end in site to this virus. Just what the hell is happening. Why do people not follow the rules? It’s mental. So many don’t understand what it’s like to lose loved ones overnight. Most will shake the virus but not all will. It’s beyond my comprehension.

If anyone out there has anything valuable to reply with then please do. I need some useful guidance.

Let’s talk again… and then let it go.

A blog on what therapy has taught me. I said I was going to blog during therapy, that didn’t quite happen but I felt I would share my learning from the process.

Overall it has been a very good thing.

The last couple of months since I wrote my blog “Let’s Talk” have been quite something around the world and at home. It’s all gone a little crazy with the latest pandemic. It really has been something else. I’m not going to dwell on this, the news is talking about it 24/7 if you are interested in that.

So now I have had my prescribed therapy sessions and they have helped in many more ways than I ever expected. I said towards the end of my previous blog that I had just had my first appointment and that I was excited by what was to come, I had every reason to be as I got so much out of these sessions with an expert. Whilst talking to trusted friends and family may work for some there is something else to be further gained from speaking with a trained and qualified therapist who has no connection or bias towards your situation, and fundamentally is their to help you. I personally didn’t feel help was available from friends and family anymore and I didn’t want to further burden my wife with my troubles, especially as she is also taking great care and bringing up our new child. This was my main reason for going, to get me to a better place, I definitely feel this has been achieved.

Let’s talk again.

After my first session the therapist described me as emotionally scarred from my experiences. I was also looking for coping mechanisms to deal with some of my issues as I have stopped drinking which was previously a coping mechanism. She asked why should I even need this coping mechanism. I had to agree, why would I want one? I wanted as she indicated to be able to cope and that be that.

I made notes as well after each session in an effort to cement the learning and knowledge I was gaining from the sessions as well as to discover the next talking points in the subsequent weeks. This was useful for me and I shall keep these notes as reminders of the work covered, lessons learned and support for myself in the future.

One of the key area’s I needed to discuss having become a father but not having either of my parents on the scene any more was to get to grips with some of the issues I had here. If you have read any of my previous blogs you will know my mum passed away and my father and I had a disagreement that we could not find a work around to, and that I now am beyond looking for it. But nonetheless it still hurt. The therapist was incredible in how she created an environment in my mind and in my heart that pushed me to thoughts I had never dare take myself to. My mum’s passing was through adult sudden death syndrome. The therapist pushed me into a situation that has freed up and unburdened me from a lot of pain, guilt and sadness surrounding her passing. I have wondered in the past did I ever fully grieve my mother’s passing, my home life at the time made it near impossible to do this and I quite often drank heavily when moment’s became too hard. The therapist’s session on this particular occasion was unbelievably emotional as it felt real and true to me. It is so hard to articulate as I didn’t think I could remove these feelings as I believed in them so strongly, but they were unhealthy for me to hold in the manor I did.

I cried most of the 20 minute drive home on that particular evening it had been so emotional but such a release as well. I believed the situation created. I was honest enough to totally open up to the therapist and her assistance in helping me move past these feelings has been incredible and I am ever so thankful. It won’t change how I want to go about conducting my life, I still have no intentions or desires to drink, I will still go about my life as I feel I need to but the unburdening is inspired and I feel happy for it. I feel I’ve moved on far more in accepting my mother’s death. I’ve even listened to those same songs by Bonjovi and others that made me break down and cry at Christmas with a smile upon my face now because my view and outlook has changed. So happy!

Now it’s time to let it go.

This is the other item that was significant from the sessions that I will be looking to build upon and better learn going forward. This blog will serve as a big reminder to me (if nothing else) about this lesson.

The therapy led me to further discover more about myself here I feel than dealing with the passing of my mother. You could argue that I still hadn’t even let her go. There’s probably mileage in that. But I discovered that I can take just about everything very personally. I let things fester and bother me far more than is healthy, I relive incidents again and torment myself with them but ultimately do nothing. This has become abundantly clear through the sessions and the therapist probed and questioned a lot of me here and I very much appreciated the challenge because it was amazing to discover and learn something more about myself.

So very simple the advice to me was “let it go”. Sounds easy? Too often I sit on things that have been said to me or things I’ve witnessed. But I chew them over in my head, maybe think I should’ve said this or I should’ve done that. Or when I have responded perhaps not responded appropriately, by that I mean an overreaction, or said the wrong thing perhaps and then heavily regretted my reaction. These things I then think about after and they knock my confidence as well to a degree. Usually these are things I feel quite strongly about and more often with people I know over strangers. This is why it gets to me more because it feels very personal. This is hard for me.

So the advice let it go. Everyone whether I know them or not is an individual and like me they have their own way of viewing the world just as I do. Yet everybody sees and interprets what’s out there in there own way and more often than not this view could be very different to my own. So sometimes when I witness I may not react and let it frustrate me. Or I’ve overreacted and probably upset the person because I’ve expressed my view. Why am I taking it personally? Because I’ve felt not listened to and therefore possibly not respected and my view not valued. Or perhaps even not taken seriously as people don’t see me as overly mature, these are all things I have reflected. This hurts because it’s personal as said. The therapist engaged me further on this and indicated that perhaps I had a need to protect people, perhaps lead to an element without the authority. But what she could also see is that when I felt I wasn’t being listened to was that I needed to keep at it, either with myself or the person and that was the unhealthy part. She challenged me to rethink how I approach issues, be more calm and professional and take a lot of the emotion out of it. She taught me that I can only control so much and people will do what they intend to do, she knows this and I can see the sense in it.

 

I adopted these views very quickly and actually put it into practice so quickly with subsequent incidents with family members. Previously after receiving information I was presented with I would have got frustrated and starting asking a lot of questions and go digging to the source, but I didn’t need to. I asked a couple of questions just to check all were ok and then I “Let It Go”. I didn’t need to dwell, I felt really good as well for it. That I could control this situation. It didn’t directly impact me, I didn’t look for more issues. This situation was back at the end of March and we’re now at the end of June and I cannot remember what the subject was even about, I just know I had success in adopting the “Let it Go” lesson. There have been more incidents as well since and I’m learning to understand as well where I cannot do anything and instantly let things go, or where I do need a little more information because it is important to me. Experience with time will go a long way here.

 

Another book Anthony Middleton, the former elite soldier turned reality TV star, has further reinforced and supported this lesson. His second book titled “the fear bubble” really added to this lesson.

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Photo of Anthony Middleton by Channel 4. 

 

I would highly recommend to anyone on giving this book ago. He talks about how people spend too much time living in fear and the negative impacts this has on people’s mindset’s. He uses a technique of his called the fear bubble to control the fear and when you get to grips with the technique it changes your mindset and outlook creating positivity over negativity. I’ve certainly tried adopting so much of it because I know with my experiences I have lived within fear for elements of my life. His words have reinforced my recent therapy lessons and inspired me because I can see big changes on the horizon for me and family following this Covid-19 pandemic and that is exciting for us all.

 

My blog here is a permanent reminder to me of the therapy lessons received at the start of the year and how I can go forward in a positive and confident manner with clearer understanding of what I can and cannot control. Where I need to step in and where I need to let things go and move on from either in the right way that will benefit me. I can control what I do, I can make a positive impact and not be held back by grievances from the past. This is exciting. If this helps someone else along the way as well then that is fantastic.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Feeling Grateful.

Following on from my therapy sessions I was advised by my therapist to try writing a list in this challenging time of lockdown for all the things I’m grateful for. I’m taking it a step further and blogging instead.

For those following my blogs I’ve been having a challenging time recently mentally. The great thing is through therapy I’ve managed to push myself into a better place at present. This is something I can be grateful for. My therapist has been excellent and it was her advice to try writing a list for everything I feel grateful for. So this is the start today on the 16th April 2020 but it will not be the same day as published as I will be spending a little time letting my mind flow and the thoughts evolve about what I am truly feeling grateful for. Maybe some of these thoughts will be echoed by you as the reader. This was an exercise my therapist regularly uses with her clients, but here in the UK we’re in lockdown from Covid-19 so my thoughts here will certainly be influenced having been at home now for nearly four weeks, and certainly beyond this by the time the publish button has been pushed.

 

So firstly I am so grateful for my wife and 6 month old son. I love them both so much and I’m lucky and happy to say we are all currently healthy at this time in the lockdown. My wife has been a rock for me since we have been together and provided daily support just by being herself which I love. My son who is new to this world (and what a time to join it) anf has without being aware himself challenged me to be a far better person than I had been to date. Even before he had been conceived the thought of having a child prompted me to change my ways and I stopped drinking. I am grateful for that. The lockdown has also offered the opportunity to give me all this extra time with them where ordinarily I would have worked. This is an absolute blessing for me as I didn’t feel my 2 weeks paternity leave was enough. So the bonus family time is very welcome in a time of hardship.

 

To my knowledge on this date I’m grateful for all my wider family and friends generally keeping themselves safe and healthy at this tricky time. It pleases me to know that I generally associate with people that follow the rules, some sooner than others. Then reading comments on my social media and seeing that so many more people promoting the stay home message.

 

I’m thoroughly enjoying the unprecedented good weather we are having this April. It is making things easier during this tricky period. And with that having a garden, it is a bonus having this private outdoor space and it has never felt more important than this time.

 

As I’ve been typing this I’ve had Radio X on in the background and they just played “Can’t stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I love the track and I’m grateful for the happy emotions stirred from the music I love.

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Copyright to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

 

I’m reminded from Chris Moyles the other morning on Radio X noting they were key workers in media services. I’m grateful to all the key workers unquestionably. Particularly those in front line work on the NHS battling the virus first hand. How could anyone not be grateful for this effort. They are all incredible people and words will never do justice for what they are working to achieve for the greater good. We are so fortunate in the UK to have this service and more needs to be done to support this wonderful institution. I feel I’ve been cheating a little by staying home and waiting for this to pass as my work as furloughed me. I’ve signed up to a local Covid-19 support group but not yet had to support. I wish I could do more but at this time I know I’m playing my part by staying away from all others. My wife has also played her part and volunteered to make scrubs for the NHS, she’s a seamstress and can make these which is again a small part to help, I’m immensely proud of her for that.

 

Now we move into thinking about something I’m grateful for that is not necessarily Covid-19 connected. It’s a joy to watch my son develop and learn. Now I can see why my wife get’s so much satisfaction of these moments. I miss them at work and feel I always have to play catch up. Just this week we’re watching him try solid food for the first time. He is also on the cusp of rolling over from front the back. It’s truly incredible watching these little developments. That’s it for today on the 16th of April 2020. This will be continued.

 

Today is the 28th of April. 2020 I’ve not added to this yet because I’ve been unable to think of anything useful and I’m maybe not quite in the mindset this evening to be carrying on with this but I want to try because I want to lift my spirits.

 

So today I am grateful for music. I literally have Kerrang Radio playing on in the background, no idea who the current artist but it’s rock music and I generally love this. It’s me. Some of the artists I love, the Chili Peppers as mentioned, Blink 182, The Foo Fighters, Nickelback, Greenday, Jimmy Eat World, Linkin Park, Muse, are just some of my favourites. And then there is the Offspring, the main reason for my love with this genre. The album was American and the song “Pretty Fly for a White Guy”. Oh my days who knew this would set me down this incredible road of drums, guitars and noise! I love it.

 

The Offspring – Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

Copyright to the Offspring. 

 

The Offspring have always brought a smile to my face. Their energy, their lyrics. They will never be the greatest band out there but they are special to me. Nothing will ever change that.

 

Then there is live music and that special feeling of occasion when you witness your favorite artists perform their songs that you love. These emotions are irreplaceable. It’s always interesting as well, I always have a lull at a gig, for just a brief moment I slightly switch off. Sustaining the pure joy throughout a 2 hour set is probably impossible. I get distracted during a quieter song and then another big song comes on and you switch back into that high. It’s intense and insane. However this never happened in a Mosh pit admittedly, haha. When I next get to a gig is an interesting thing to ponder. That will be amazing, the first gig after becoming a father, it’s a long time off yet but when it comes round that will be something to be grateful for.

 

Sports as well. My goodness we have been without sport for 6 weeks at least. It such an important aspect for life whether it be through participation or spectating it is such a value to so many people including me. I love to run around the badminton court and really haven’t been able to do this properly and regularly for so long (way beyond the 6 weeks) from injury. Then just watching sport, I enjoy so many, not all and I won’t watch anything but can appreciate the talent and the skill of most. Right now we are missing it. I’ve found myself watching Youtube rugby re-runs in this time of lockdown, these have mainly been of matches I never had the privilege to watch in their day. What a treat and opportunity to appreciate some of the greats. It will be such a good sign for society when sport returns to close to normal. I fear it will be one of the last things to return but what a treat when it does.

 

Who knew, there’s a couple of things at least on the 28th of April that I was able to write about. Then there is always a cup of tea that has that ability to assist as well. I think we can all be grateful there. We’ll see what we can come up with next time.

 

I haven’t been in touch with this for a while. It’s the 5th of May 2020. I’m struggling beyond what I’ve already noted at present. We had to give up our family pets. 2 little cockatiels. They were good fun but unfortunately became far too loud that we were concerned for our hearing. I can be grateful for all the fun times that a pet can bring though. They will never be forgotten either and we look forward to seeing them soon at the pet refuge to which they now reside.

 

Wow, it’s now the 25th of June and about 7 weeks have passed since I last worked on this. So many highs and lows during a furlough period. I’m currently under threat of losing my job and being made redundant, and after the initial shock of it I’m generally now ok because we have been making plans (as best we can) to move forward and deal with this situation, whatever the outcome of it may be. I do feel there is an element of my mindset that has shifted and changed through this lockdown period. We have stuck to the rules where so many have not. I actually feel if everyone had behaved the way we have then we may be further through this but having said that the news suggests things are getting better, more people are getting back to work and so we can be grateful that everything is heading in the right direction.

 

With our situation and generally following the rules I am a touch aggrieved at those that haven’t, it is selfish of them. But also I know we have done everything we can to keep ourselves safe away from harm so how can I not be grateful for this. I only hope that this continues through society and there is no regression in this battle.

 

We have a trip planned out to the zoo and a couple of other dates for the diary and this is exciting. I look forward to seeing these things continue and getting a little more back to normal with each day.

 

Watching my son develop, now 8 and a half months old has been a joy. The satisfaction of watching his daily progression is unreal and I am certainly knowing what it feels like to be a parent. It’s amazing, he’s nearly crawling, he’s eating food very well and very controlled, he’s incredibly comfortable using the potty and we’ve not had a dirty nappy to deal with in weeks as he’s able to let us know. Introducing to something new as well and see him light up, just wow, what fun he must be having.

 

We continue to do what we do at home and we are pushing ourselves to get things done each day. Jobs at home, cooking good meals, keeping the place clean and tidy, all important routine items that might not appear much but do make a big difference in how comfortable feel and just to keep things as they should be for us. I’ve even picked up a little on the exercise again as it had dipped. Fundamentally all about keeping positive and keep being true to ourselves and enjoying it. It’s all we can control so we’re owning that and grateful for it. I touched on the start about the therapy I had completed and some of the lessons are certainly sticking in their, I believe if I hold on to these lessons I will be all the better and happier for it moving forward.

 

Thanks for reading.

Let’s Talk.

Society isn’t ready in my view for people to open up about their feelings and troubles. We’re still too judgemental when really we should support. I’m not ready to talk direct to people but I feel the need to express what I’ve been up to recently and get it out there.

So for the last year or so perhaps I’ve had a little itch inside my head that I’ve not been able to scratch. A lot has happened in the last year with expanding our home to accommodate the arrival of our first child. I’m well over a year now off of alcohol which is great. Lots of positives happening and I am happy, but I believe I can be happier. There are some little anxieties creeping in and it’s been a struggle to explain why they are there on my own.

 

I think this minor anxiety really became apparent in my mind last Summer 2019 around late July/early August when the works at home were near completion and my focus was shifting to the arrival of our child in late September. Exciting times to come. I’d been reading a couple of books before this point and starting to prepare, Summer was now the time to for me to get fully engaged with this life changing event. It really has been life changing but for the better.

 

So what was holding me back from being completely excited by this?

Why does something not feel quite right?

 

I actually contacted my Vitality GP to talk about this but not a lot came from this initial conversation and I was asked a few questions about how I was feeling, generally the feelings were good, so not much more happened. I carried on getting ready with my wife for the arrival of our child.

 

Our son arrived late, 15 days overdue so into October but completely healthy and we couldn’t be happier from this. My wife has taken to being a mother incredibly well which is certainly a great relief for me as well as bringing so much joy in seeing how they both are together. Going back to work for me so soon afterwards was tough because it wasn’t long enough with our little one and I do feel like I’m playing catch up continuously with his development, constantly trying to re understand his changes and his growth because it really does happen so quickly and all I want to do is the best I can for him. Which I also know means being the best I can be at work and providing for my family.

 

There was a quite a lot going on in our calendar in the run up to Christmas, lots of people wanting to see the baby as well as other events, plus Christmas to prepare for. My worries had disappeared a little more through being busy and not having to time for thoughts to creep in, it wasn’t a bad thing.

 

Just over the Christmas break though I remember my wife was doing a little sewing in her office and I was trying to calm the baby down by using our playlist we had set for Hospital, our “Birthing Playlist”. (I would incidentally recommend to all expecting parents to have one of these for Hospital, it made an immense positive difference to the experience and I know our son was born to the Stereophonic’s song “Have a nice day”.) But at this point when the music was playing the Bonjovi song “I’ll be there for you” came on and I just broke down crying uncontrollably, the lyrics are quite powerful but this hadn’t happened to me in a very long time and it was a little concerning. It wasn’t the only instance of this either. I couldn’t stop it. Lots of other memories flooded back in, not connected to the song but the lyrics are such it just brought them up and then the emotion out. I know music has the power to move but it also felt like a little warning also.

 

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(Youtube image).

New Year came and everything at home went a lot quieter on the social side of things but this discomfort in my mind was increasing again and given my past experiences with my mother and father I was becoming quite aware that things were not feeling right again. I think I’ve even noted in a previous blog that I hadn’t dealt with my feelings towards my mother’s passing, talk about the writing being on the wall. Now that I’m coming into the huge life transition as a dad also this entire situation is perhaps stirring emotions inside of me that I’d perhaps surpessed? Is that the right word? But whatever the word things had been put aside for too long.

 

I’m also currently about to finish, but late last year in 2019 had started to read a book by Jason Fox, a former elite British soldier now reality TV star, who shares his experiences in a book titled “Battle Scars”.

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Jason Fox, Battle Scars, 2018. 

Initially the book opens up straight into a fire fight from one of his final tours with the elite group, The Brotherhood. Very quickly I assumed this book was going to be just a bunch of war stories which wasn’t actually what I was expecting. I follow the SAS who dares wins” show on Channel 4 and had already read a book by his team mate Ant Middleton talking about so much more than just war. So had high hopes but thought I was going to be left disappointed. Far from it! For a man who’s early career revolved around operating in a elite fighting group I’ve been blown away by how open he has been about his life experiences and struggles with his mental health following the things he’s seen in war. Whilst I have never been in the Military I found quite a lot of similarities from my own life that he had experienced with regards to mental health and coping mechanisms. 2 that stood out initially is that we both used exercise and alcohol as 2 main methods of getting by day to day. This created somewhat of a red flag for me in my mind because as I got further into the book Jason’s struggles only got worse to the point he once found himself on top of a cliff contemplating the worst. He had also had is own outbursts of emotion. I’ve not yet finished the book but given I watch him on TV I’m hoping for a positive ending to his writing. I didn’t want this pattern to continue for me.

 

It’s strange, I was on the point of calling the Doctors again anyway as I felt there was some more understanding as to why I had these little doubts creeping into my mind but I was watching the TV show Suits with my wife one evening. For those not familiar with the show it follows a group of corporate lawyers in New York who lead very wealthy lifestyles and one of the lead characters in the show, Harvey Specter, appears to everything.

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Gentleman’s Journal. 

The seven figure paying job, the looks, the cars, the penthouse home, the women, and then all of a sudden even he starts suffering from panic attacks. I was wondering how? This is the ultimate man. He actually opts to see a therapist and this leads to finding out he has many unresolved family issues particularly with his parents. His father had died and he’d fallen out with his mother. Similarities again with my own experiences. He actually manages to repair the relationship with his mother, I’m not sure I can do that with my father and unlike him I have no intention of trying. There are a few noted differences where by my father had hurt me, his mother had cheated on his father several times and that’s what hurt him. I know this is only a TV show but the signs were there and I was on the phone again the next day looking to speak with the Doc.

 

So this pretty much brings us up to date. Whilst I’ve never seen myself as struggling just now I believe I could be in a better place and I certainly don’t want these feelings to get worse, I’ve also been there before. I had a phone call with the GP who has referred  me to a therapist. I’ve had my first introductory session with the therapist and it was a good first appointment and I look forward to my next. If you’re interested in what was discussed just read some of my previous blogs, they’ll pretty much tell you.

 

What came out of it though is she recognizes I have many emotional scars from my history. She also told me I shouldn’t feel guilty about my mother’s death, it was a freak occurrence with Adult Sudden Death Syndrome. I’ve been told not to feel guilty before and I’ve not yet been able to get over this, I’m actually a little excited this time that she can help with this because it’s the first time I’ve believed it, I’m not sure why but I’m happy I have trust here. I’m also going to be looking for ways for her to help me with my confidence and anxiety, ways of coping with the tougher memories. What for me was a refreshing response from her was that she asked “why do you need a coping mechanism?” I was taken a back a little, because she want’s to get me to a point where I would not need one which would be even better. I need to be the best I can be for my family and that’s why I’m doing this.

 

So there’s exciting things to come from this. I think I wish I had trusted my gut a little sooner and perhaps had some of these discussions before my son arrived but I’m on a good path now which I hope continues. I’m writing about it because other than my wife and a coworker that I have confided in I’m not yet ready to really discuss much further with other people and yet I’m feeling a need to share things and put them out there. My previous writings have helped but due to society being the way it is I’m not yet convinced showing this vulnerability is a good thing. The media continually talks about the need for people to talk more and share this and I do not disagree with that. There’s even a profiled case in the media right now with the passing of Caroline Flack and that is such sad news. Especially as she was unable to tell anyone. There is a nervousness about opening up here and for me I feel there needs to be a strong level of trust with you and the person you choose to share this with, because you don’t want to be the talk of the town as it were. Whilst the right noises are being made in society there needs to be so much more done in making it more understood and accepted. It’s such a subjective field also that what’s one problem to one person will not be a problem for another and that’s a challenge also because everyone has their own view on what is and is not a problem. Who’s to judge?

 

But for now, and to those reading if you are sharing similar anxieties always trust your gut instincts, invariably they are right in what you want/or should do. Don’t be afraid of talking to professionals either as they are confidential. I’ve done it before it 2014 and feel comfortable going again in 2020 because of the previous positive experience. If you don’t feel comfortable then you can also stop, they are there to help though.

 

Thanks for reading and probably more to follow.

 

 

What a plank!

The memory of a picture taken 10 years ago. A funny tale coupled with a deeper significance.

10 years ago I was tagged in this picture on Facebook and today it has popped up in my “memories”.
10 years ago I unintentionally haggled this trader out in the Gambia, and by unintentional I mean I didn’t want the carved plank of wood but this trader would not let it go. After much back and forth, him being keen to make a sale and I just wanting to get away I think I paid about £2 for this item and it was smiles all round. Smiles from him because he made his sale and smiles from me as I knew I could get away. However we did have a lot of banter during this exchange and he was an incredibly nice bloke. Also telling me the tale of how he made the carving. I had to admire his persistence and passion.
This however left me with a plank of wood that I was lumbered with (excuse the pun) and now had to get back to the UK. I could have left it behind in the hotel room, but I wasn’t happy with the idea of this after how long I’d spent on the purchase, this was mine. So first of all on the coach back to the airport where the majority of my fellow students who were not present at the sale were confused by my acquisition.
Then I had to get it through check in, amazingly I was allowed to take it as hand luggage. So I carried under my arm and into the departure lounge with me where I held it for a couple of hours before boarding our flight. Our gate was announced (I think there was just 2 gates) and we boarded where the cabin crew gave me even more confused looks. Who could blame them. Then I sat with the plank of wood all of the flight home to Gatwick. About 6.5 hours long, several thousand miles I was getting this home.
Back at Gatwick at around midnight now and it was time to collect luggage and get the coach back to Coventry. Another couple of hours travel in the early hours. I placed the plank on the parcel shelf for the journey. Back in Coventry now and being tired after the long journey we were back. But at this final point I got off the coach and did not pick up my carving. Everyone was off, we set off walking home and my arm felt empty which was the moment of realisation that I’d left it on the coach and it was gone. I could not believe it after many hours and miles of travel I had forgot it at this final point.
I tried a few times calling the firm to get it back. Let’s face it, it’s a unique item, you would think it would be obvious to find left behind and it would make it’s way to a lost property. They denied any knowledge and I was gutted because I’d got it so far. It was gone and all I have now is this pic and the memory of probably my most unusual purchase.
10 years on I’m still as gutted. Especially now as a homeowner this would’ve looked amazing hanging up over my……. or hanging up in…. well it would’ve probably been in the attic. I just feel bad for losing that trader’s work, and how I had become invested in it. He was incredibly passionate about it and I foolishly lost it.
10 years on I’m reflecting on this photo in other ways beyond just being a funny story on how I lost my purchase after carrying it half way round the world. People in the developed nations can learn a lesson or two from people living in developing nations who take nothing for granted and are so appreciative for any opportunities that come there way because they are so few and far between. Such things like manners and smiling. I may have been the only sale this tradesman had that day and my purchase may have allowed him to go home and feed his family that evening. Back then as I student I didn’t have loads but I had a lot more than he did I feel as I’ve not had to sit at the side of the road looking for opportunistic sales from passers by with no guarantees of trade. When we in the UK moan about a slight increase in petrol prices, a 10 minute delay in waiting at the doctors, the weather being slightly cold as examples then we probably need to get over ourselves slightly as really we are all very fortunate (particularly the people reading this post). The week’s trip to the Gambia and everything I saw and experienced during that time really now highlights to me how lucky we are in the UK. I could also appreciate how lucky we were back then when I was on the trip but just re thinking about that time really makes me grateful for all that I do have.
And I’ve still not learnt my lesson from then on leaving things behind on coaches 🤦‍♂️

11 months and it’s feeling easier than ever.

It’s coming up 11 months since I stopped drinking. It feels easier than ever to keep this momentum going.

Here’s what else has been happening.

I haven’t talked about this for a while but I felt a quick update was in order. It has now been nearly 11 months since I had my last alcoholic drink. I’m feeling great for it and have plenty of motivation to continue what I’m doing.

 

Why is it feeling easier than ever? Very simply my son and first child arrived into the world last month. If ever I needed inspiration, motivation and focus to keep this going and be a better person than I have been to date, he is it! My wife and I are so happy with his arrival and very much enjoying the challenge of parenthood. It’s been such a positive start. I know if I was to have a drink again I would be the first person to be disgusted with myself for it, it would feel far from right with where we are presently at. Fortunately there is no desire, only an energy to do the best I can for him and drinking is not it.

 

The only slight itch I have had this last week since he arrived is to have a run around the badminton court, but it’s too soon for that at the moment.  One day perhaps in the New Year I will be back on it.

 

For now my wife and I are working well as a team in managing these early days of parenting. She has wanted to breastfeed which is great, I just cannot do a lot here (obviously) even though she has requested of relatives that they get me a pair of lactating boobs for Christmas. That being said I have made sure she is well hydrated and cooked the majority of dinners since his arrival, so I am perhaps playing my part. All I want to do is keep this positivity going as it will be the best for him.

 

Thanks again for reading, probably another update on the 1 year (ish) mark.

 

 

Starlight

In 2006 the British Rock Band Muse produced an unbelievably great track in my opinion. I wanted to share some of my feelings about the track from then to date having just seen them in 2019 for the third time. How the same music can change it’s meaning to you if you open your mind an allow it.

Full credit to Muse for producing an amazing piece of music.

Muse for me are one of the most established rock bands in the world at this moment in time spanning a career of 20 years now since they released Showbiz. Their album Blackholes and Revelations is probably my most favorite of all that they have produced and their song Starlight on the album I believe is something incredibly special.

 

I remember purchasing the album on CD in the summer of 2006 from Woolworth’s no less. The leisure centre I worked at had plenty of staff in on the day of release so my old boss at the time (who is a huge rock fan also) said let’s go into town and get it. I didn’t need to argue with that decision and it is incredible that it sticks in mind as most albums I cannot remember how and when I purchased them. So we did, when we got back the CD went straight in the player in the office (which the sound quality of this device really didn’t do Muse any favors) and listened to the latest work at that time. This was swiftly followed with playing the album many times at home as well and fully immersing myself with the music. It was awesome and two songs stuck on on the album, Knights of Cydonia Starlight. Both of which are amazing and even to this day in 2019 can still give me goosebumps and a shiver of excitement.

 

Now for anyone who follows or has read other blogs of mine you will know that my mother passed away near the end of 2006 and this was a hard time for me. Starlight quickly developed an entire new meaning to me and very much ripped me apart inside when it was played because the lyrics were exactly what I was experiencing at the time and the song became upsetting to a degree as it flooded me with memories of a tough time. The lyrics below are as follows.

 

Far away
The ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

The starlight
I will be chasing a starlight
Until the end of my life
I don’t know if it’s worth it anymore

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold
You in my arms

My life
You electrify my life
Let’s conspire to ignite
All the souls that would die just to feel alive

Now I’ll never let you go
If you promised not to fade away
Never fade away

Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations
Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold
You in my arms

Far away
The ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

And I’ll never let you go
If you promise not to fade away
Never fade away

Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations
Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold
You in my arms
I just wanted to hold

 

It’s crazy how the mind makes associations with music to periods in time. It does, this song that I loved, I didn’t hate or stop listening to but it was now full of sadness to me. Yet I do not believe that is what Muse are trying to achieve with it. It’s just this is all I thought and my mind would drift back to my mother and that tough time each occasion I heard the song. I couldn’t help myself. The line’s And I’ll never let you go, Hold you in my arms, If you promise not to fade away… All I could think about here is the passing of my mum and her being someone I can never see again.

 

It wasn’t something I wanted to change though. I love the song and I feel it became that much more significant to me because of the emotions it generated within me. It is it’s own memory I guess.

 

In 2007 my brothers and I acquired tickets to see the Blackholes and Revelations tour. This was to be the first time any of us had seen Muse (and for my youngest brother his first gig) and we were incredibly excited, we were going to Wembley stadium as well. The biggest stage. It was amazing and yet when Starlight was played the moment was full of sadness for me due to what the song meant to me. It hurt but took nothing away from an incredible occasion.

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2007.

 

6 years later I got to take my wife to see Muse for her first time and my second as they were touring The 2nd Law. It doesn’t stick out in my mind though as to whether or not Starlight was played. If it was it did not have the same impact on that day. I’m not even sure if it was played. Nonetheless it was an incredible gig once again. Muse knocked it out of the Park in another inspired performance. They truly are an incredible live act.

 

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2013.

 

Last Saturday in 2019 I was so pleased I got to see them for a third time at the Olympic Park in London. I first saw them when I was 21 years old and now 12 years on at 33 I was just as excited, although on the plus side not hungover, didn’t mention that bit before and it’s not even that important. It does however signify perhaps a maturing as well as having a different view on life. It is also the longest span of time for me in seeing the same artist perform, 12 years in this instance which blows my mind to a degree as the gig in 2007 was so special and memorable. The next longest span of an artist doesn’t even get in the double digits for time in years. The Red Hot Chili Peppers is 7 years, Feeder 9 years, The Enemy 8 years. I do know that in less than 3 weeks Muse will be beaten by Bonjovi hitting the 13 year mark, that will be quite a gig.

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2019.

 

I digress, 12 years between first time seeing Muse to the recent gig. The set list was incredible and Starlight played. I just about broke out in tears but not because of the memories as you might expect. It was with what is to come and look forward to. My wife was with me and it was her second show and she is presently 5 and a half months pregnant. All I could think about during the song which made me incredibly happy was our little child on the way. Our hopes and expectations,

You electrify my life

I will be chasing a starlight

Hold you in my arms I just wanted to hold. 

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Starlight 2019.

 

I hadn’t forgotten my mother in that moment but those painful memories were totally superseded by the excitement of new life in the very near future. I was stunned at the revelation that this song’s meaning could change just like that. I do believe the live performance helped with this and Muse absolutely smashing it out of the park I have no doubt further aided the significance in that moment. I haven’t really stopped thinking about the new feelings and emotions that came out of the music in the last few days. I am amazed and very happy for it. There’s so much to look forward to.

 

Just before this 2019 gig I was having a conversation with some people who are not overly interested in music and pay no attention to the lyrics they do listen to. I was stunned! Although when I was a teenager perhaps did similar and did not pay the most amount of attention to what the artist was saying. Some lyrics are incredible and make so much sense, they’ve certainly helped me out in more challenging times but also aided in helping me celebrate the tough times. As a rocker I have really noticed so many powerful lyrics that rock/indie/punk/metal artists have created and they are amazing for it.

 

Other people I have spoken also believe rockers are negative and their songs are full of explicit content. I agree with this slightly but there is so many more rock songs that do not conform to this at all and deliver far better messages than what is in the charts in many instances. Just because they dress a little different and look a little different does not mean there is a need to fear the music. It’s just a fashion.

 

In the last year or so I have been trying to improve my positive mindset and avoid fixating on the negative. I feel this reaction has come about from this re-training of the mind and delving into my past to improve my future. I didn’t think music’s meaning could change like this, but I am so please it has as it feels incredible.

 

Thanks for reading, I hope you found it just a little interesting and give Muse a try if you have not listened to them before. They are Awesome!

 

 

3 months, easy!

The latest update from 3 months of not drinking.

Another little up date on progress so far on not drinking. It’s been a little over 3 months now and it’s been fairly effortless which has been really pleasing from my point of view.

 

There’s been a couple of socials where it would have been very easy for me to drink. I didn’t. The most satisfying element of that as well is that I didn’t even feel tempted or feel like I was missing something, it ultimately did not matter. One social in-particular was a work’s social where the drink was free flowing and if requested they would have put me up in a hotel near by after. I didn’t drink and just took the train home out of London after. Amazing.

 

I don’t know if the fact that everyone is a little older (in our 30’s) that this is the significant difference from in my 20’s. Pier pressure has not played a part at all and I am definitely comfortable saying no to those that have tried. If it is the difference then great because I’m not drinking and extremely happy about this.

 

So we our going to maintain what we are doing, avoid awkward socials and stag do’s (to a point) to avoid any temptation. It is working so far.

When is enough enough?

This is my experience of my relationship with my father. It was a never a great relationship (in reflection) and now there is no relationship. This article is an effort for me to make sense of this and maybe assist others who have challenging family relationships.

I haven’t spoke with my father in nearly four years and I do not regret my decision to drop him from my life. The stress of his actions upon my life became far too much for me to deal with and the only healthy decision I feel I could make for myself was to cut all connections to him and minimise all my relationships with other people connected to him. I know I’m not innocent  in how the relationship got to this point but it was the best decision I ever made. I always hoped he might change his outlook on life and be what I perceived to be a better happier person, this was wrong of me. However it is not wrong for me to want to have nothing to do with his life because of how I see him living it, that choice I do get to have.

 

This first line might make me appear a horrible and selfish individual, how can a son turn his back on his father? That just isn’t right? Is it? It does sound crazy and probably all boils down to poor communication between us and the inability to convey to the other how we are feeling.

 

I like to think I am a positive person and I always try to look for the best things in life and enjoy whatever I choose to do to the fullest otherwise I am probably wasting my time. We all know that time is a finite resource. I like to find solutions to any obstacles and challenges I have. I never look at situations I am faced with and feel that they cannot be achieved, instead I figure out a way to make it work and happen if I am interested in pursuing it. I hope this sets a scene for the type of person I am. I also believe my life is not far away from another big transition and I am looking to make some sense of the past, manage my feelings on it so that I might be stronger and more decisive in where I am going.

 

So why did I choose to stop speaking with my father?

 

If you have followed any of my other pieces then you will know that I lost my mother in 2006 and this changed my family in ways I could not have imagined. But very simply in the wake of this experience I knew I still had my life to live (and plenty to live for) as I was only 20 years old at the time. It was incredibly sad and she is not someone I will ever forget, nor the experience of her passing as well as all she taught me before. However I wanted from very early on after her passing to get on with my life and live in a positive manor that would make her proud. Not feel sorry for myself and use her passing as an excuse for why I might not go on to achieve better things.

 

My father on the other hand is a different story and outlook, his life fell apart and he could see no future for himself. We couldn’t be more different people in my view. When people who knew my mum compare me to her this is one of the biggest compliments I could hope for because I strive to follow the example she set to me. I did not follow my mother’s example well when she was alive and by way of apology to her for not doing so I do try (and not always succeeding) to do my best now. The example set by my father I want to stay as far away from as I possibly can because what I have seen there is toxic, poison and a generally horrible outlook, I don’t even think I know the half of what he feels life is all about. I now don’t want to.

 

So where to start with such as piece of writing? I will start by saying I am not a victim here. My dad has done many things that has pissed me off but I am certain that many actions I have done and decisions I made have given him similar feelings. So this in the first instance is not a healthy relationship where two people have conflicting views that only anger and frustrate the other, and then cannot come to any agreement or common ground. I will also say that there were good and fun times growing up as well, it certainly was not all bad. Unfortunately those feelings seem to be drowned out now and don’t really exist for me anymore. I say “don’t really” because I feel I just want a father figure in my life, but that is totally not my actual father.  So I don’t focus on any of these happy memories, they remind of time that simply does not exist anymore and won’t exist with myself and him again, it’s too upsetting. They are from a long time ago and just do not feel relevant as I want to look forwards, not backwards and I’ve worked very hard mentally to achieve this. If we had a healthy relationship I would choose to focus on them more but the more recent feelings of hurt are so much more prevalent that I do not want to look back at my life with him in it in any way. I was  a child and arguably knew no better from my limited life experiences. I followed my father’s interests as I think a lot of sons do. It was when I became a teenager and dropped these interests to explore other ones that things started to change. Perhaps this is the place to start.

 

My father is a very big War-gamer. For those reading this that don’t know what that is, it is a gaming hobby that involves the assembly of models to use to battle opponents over a tabletop. Invariably there is quite a complex set of rules to play these games and results are determined through strategy and chance results (outcome of dice rolls). I am not going to shy away from the fact I used to play some of these games when I was primary school aged and early secondary school aged. I played them a lot with my father and my brothers and even went to a few clubs with others who shared this hobby. My dad had been playing these games for a lot of his life and had a ridiculous amount of gear for it, he was very good at it and dedicated a lot of time to his hobby.

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(boundingintocomics.com – 2018)

I never remember beating him at any of these games.

There was one instance even that we set up a sci fi game and he allowed me double the resource value of what he had. What he failed to tell me was the resource he was using was significantly more advanced than the forces I had. The equivalent of the 17th century musketeers lining up against a modern day army if you like. I was carved up in this game and my dad had taken great delight in this one as he found it very funny and knew I didn’t have a chance. This wound me up and he won’t ever know how much. He also told me much later on that when he first taught me games he used to under resource his sides to allow for the perception of an even game whilst I was learning, this was equally frustrating as I still never won even then with this advantage. After him telling me this it also made me feel quite stupid and incapable, plus I was being manipulated into playing this hobby because I thought I was doing well and gaining a false sense of achievement. A feeling of success in any hobby is key but I don’t know if this is the right way to go about it. I thought I was close, but then again not quite good enough. My dad was actually just playing me the entire time. Always just close.

This is key and to say I had low confidence growing up is an understatement (I’ll come back to this). I actually never got a result over him memorable enough to be really pleased about and I’m certain I would have remembered any sort of result. It just didn’t happen. When I had turned 13 we moved away to Scotland just for a year because of my dad’s employment and this was a low year for me because I had no friend’s at school and only a couple of friend’s who lived locally. The gaming hobby felt like all I had and I was getting a beating at it. I think this was some what masked though as I could beat my brother at it (he was a couple of year’s younger than me). So when we moved back to England and I was surrounded by friend’s once again and I had turned 14 years old I realised I didn’t want this hobby anymore, I had become bored and frustrated with it. Looking at the stereotypical gamer then they were overweight (at various levels as some were grotesquely obese) and generally did not take care of themselves in a health sense. And being a 14 year old boy I was becoming interested in girls and this hobby wasn’t going to do me any favours here. So I decided to stop it, and also sell a lot of my stuff and this is the starting point (for me) of my relationship with my father falling apart.  It was a starting point for my sports interest so all in certainly not a decision I regret.

 

I believe my father was deeply disappointed and frustrated with me for quitting and he was unable to change my mind which may well have got to him the most as I believe he takes a lot of satisfaction in being able to influence and manipulate people into doing what he wants. He had lost this with me as far as a hobby goes. However on the flip side I believe my mum was secretly ecstatic that I had ditched the hobby, not that she ever said. It is a hobby that to look at is just a game, however the fundamentals are death, destruction and completely obliterating your opponent which I actually believe is quite an unhealthy concept for the mind. You don’t just play these games like monopoly, scrabble or dominoes. There is a lot of building through the models, there’s a lot of pre game planning as well so to see all this work and effort being destroyed hurts (sounds stupid but it did). The entire concept I believe reflecting today in 2018 is incredibly toxic for the mind. The interests I have moved on to through sports, music, comedy, outdoors activities, gardening, cooking and more… I have found a far more satisfying way of living instead of this hobby hell bent on destruction. I’m not sure my father understands this, or ever understood what I moved on to enjoy because it was of no interest to him, my new interests to him were perhaps perceived as dull and boring.

 

So that was the start of the end from my view. I’m going to move on to discuss a few feelings towards him now and my thoughts towards it all. Why I have chosen to bring this up first? It’s a hobby he’s played for decades that is hell bent on death, destruction and obliteration. This took up so much of his time all through out growing up and I believe has had an impact on how he views life generally. The games to a greater or lesser extent have twisted with his mind because he spends so much focus and energy on them. What he perhaps hasn’t appreciated is the impact it has had on the relationships he has with people around him. Especially those who do not share this hobby and interest.

 

FEAR.

 

I feel this is the most prevalent feeling that I have when I talk about feelings towards my father. My father has an old school approach to many things and discipline of his children fell into this category. I believe he set out his discipline so that we knew if we stepped out of line we were in trouble. The phrase children should be seen and not heard is very true for me when it came to socialising in the presence of my father. This I guess is how he felt it best to raise his children and who can judge this. Everyone has an opinion here. Is there one right way? No. Are there perhaps better ways pending on the child? Almost certainly!

 

Actually with this fear in mind it may have inhibited us as children in being able to express ourselves and share our thoughts, feelings and idea’s, particularly if they did not fall in line with his way of thinking. From my own experience as the first born in my family I had a real reluctance to try anything new and actually got quite upset when forced in to joining things that I did not want to. My mum would push me into beavers, cubs and scouts (on reflection she was absolutely right to), I wasn’t happy about joining any but actually had for the most part a great time. I was pushed into swimming lessons, again nervous about it. I never wanted to try anything new for myself as a child. I was asked if I wanted to do karate, I never did. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I tried badminton, but again my mum was already at the club. I joined a rugby club at 15 years old but went with a mate. Nothing on my own until I went to uni perhaps??? Nothing for myself and I believe I never voiced it because it wasn’t worth it. My youngest brother had the opportunity to play county rugby, he attended the trials. He was upset when he couldn’t go after because my parents would not take him. Maybe I never tried as well as a child because I knew it would go nowhere, but equally there was nothing I wanted either. The games dominated at a young age unfortunately.

 

He’s the only person as well to make me truly doubt what I am doing.The trust I placed in my father as a boy I believe is normal of any child as you trust your parents, you know no better. But I think back and there are many instances where he has made doubt and therefore I do not act. It’s scary to wonder about possibilities potentially missed. There’s one that stand out that I did not miss and I was an adult at this point. My employer had threatened me with redundancy and I was competing to save my job. I was dependant on a job as well to pay my mortgage, my life. I knew this would continue also. So I started looking elsewhere and found work in construction. All my friends and even bosses at my current employment (the one’s threatening me with redundancy) backed me to take the opportunity. All except him. He placed doubt in my head but I did not listen despite thinking on it. We actually bust about 2-3 months later and on reflection I believe he made me doubt taking the new job because he would see me less than what he was at that point time.

 

My dad could also give a bollocking. He has an extremely powerful voice and when my brothers and I misbehaved he made sure we knew about it. We would invariably fall back into line. We were brothers though, we misbehaved so we needed readdressing. Even the odd smack when things went too far. I do not disagree with this approach if appropriate, it helped keep us on the straight and narrow as kids and stopped misbehaviour going too far as we knew where the line was. My dad frequently told us the story of how his dad, my granddad had belted him for stepping out of line. One day apparently I did go too far. I couldn’t have been much older then 6/7 years old, apparently I was spotted (at my aunt’s and uncles house) in the garden doing something I shouldn’t that could have very seriously hurt my brother. I really don’t remember that bit. If I did I deeply regret it, I have no idea the situation that culminated to that. But afterwards my dad was out like a rocket and he had lost his shit, he was raging. I was grabbed, dragged inside and upstairs to the spare room we were staying in and thrown on the bed. The belt was coming off and I was nothing short of terrified at the prospect of what was going to happen. It was my mum who had chased us up the stairs and had to fight and drag him off, anything she could to stop him giving me the beating of my life that I know I would not have forgotten. But I haven’t forgotten anyway and the mark of this experience has stayed with me to date. My mother was not prepared I believe to let one of her children receive such a beating. My dad was seeing red and had lost control, I am forever grateful to my mum for preventing it, mental mark still left on me though, as it was going to happen. It is amazing how some situations can be imprinted on the mind and never forgotten.

 

My brother was also fine with no lasting damage from the incident which was a relief.

 

Always the joker. 

 

As I turned a teen and as I mentioned we’d left Scotland and I was in a place with friends again. Life for me was happier than it had been for a year. Equally I was also starting to learn banter from friends around me. My dad always loved a bit of banter, and would always ensure he had the last word, no matter who he was dealing with.

 

From experiences at school I have some incredibly witty and sharp friends and it began for them in teenage years at school. I had the nickname Paddy at school and it has stuck around to date. I was quite proud of it because it gave me identity at school, it was something everyone called me. I was happy with it. However everyone knew I was Scottish and everyone knew my surname was Ireland. Going to school in England this attracted quite a lot of easy shots of “banter”. I took it as this but at times later on in 6th form it did get me down because at times it was relentless. I had the odd moment where it broke me and I snapped back. However for the most part it was funny and that was the way it went down, I could generally take it and no big deal, just having a laugh. What I avoided though was giving it back at school, it might have been an error not to stand up for myself more but it felt the easier way at the time to deal with it, certainly the more civil. If I did decide to take it out on someone then physically I would not have been losing, that would not have been the right way. Reflecting on it now though it has made me very hardy to banter to be later received in life as it was much the same for me at uni as well, the additional “banter” here was I was 2/3 years older than most, therefore I was old, ancient, a relic, etc. I think everyone goes through things like this growing up and even as adults. How we manage it is the true test, not to let it phase us because usually that just attracts further unwanted attention.

 

I began experimenting a little at home on my brothers with “banter”. My youngest brother was never bothered but I could get a reaction out of my other brother quite quickly and I played on this at times. Some occasions definitely taking it too far to which I look back now at and regret as it really was a form of bullying.  I’ve apologised to him now we are older and he’s doing well for himself but takes nothing away from the fact it could not have been much fun for him at the time, I just thought it was funny. Looking at it now it was probably a reaction to being bantered at school. The biggest difference being my brother couldn’t take it in the same manor I could. It continued for a couple of years, maybe when I was 14-16 until one day my dad game down on me hard for it. He laid down the law and that it must stop. I remember it happening in Scotland. There was no looking to understand why I was doing it, it was a full blown lecture and my attitude to my brother must stop. I think it did? I remember this and I told myself “ok, this has to stop as my brother really does not like it.” I actually put distance between myself and my brother just to ensure I stopped myself and not further upset him. My brother still gamed as well, I feel my father favoured him and my other brother over me because of this and I was actually becoming isolated to a degree at home from my family. Thinking about it now I do feel I set distance between myself and all my family because my interests were not the same and the best way for me not to get myself in trouble was stay out the way. Particularly from my dad. I did have a games console that my bros and I battled over, this might be about the only common interest we had when I was a late teen, that was good fun though with many laughs. Arguably this could be as close to family events as it got.

 

People have different levels of tolerance with “banter” I’ve come to learn. This isn’t appreciated as a child but you can see when you are older. As already noted my dad enjoys “banter” and I have witnessed him go to town on people and taking a great sense of delight in it. On those odd occasions though that people get one up on him he is incredibly upset with it. Not until close to our bust up did I really see this. It was rare that someone could get a one liner over him and he not come back with something, however, if he was made to look silly in some other manor he could not stand this, but generally it was ok for him to do this to others, myself included. As we got older more and more “banter” would come mine and my brothers direction as well. (You might wonder why I’m being so sensitive about this but stick with me). I was a porky child at primary school and had a good appetite. Some of his classic lines directed at me were:

 

  • “Nothing wasted when father keeps a pig”.
  • “One day son you will have a belly as big as mine.” 

 

I do remember one such reaction that went through my mind later on was “FUCK OFF it won’t”.

 

Again from an early age I just soaked it up, it’s what I’ve always done. I certainly didn’t call him names and make comments like this in the same way, or at least I don’t remember it, however I was a child and him an adult. He thought he was being funny and at the time everyone laughed. I don’t think he anticipated that I have my own mind and I thought about these incidents. The thoughts were “I don’t want to be like that”. So when you think back to my earlier points on overweight gamers, my dad was overweight. I was also aware of what the guys at school did to get the attention of girls, or at the very least not be picked on for being fat and nerdy. That was very simply playing sports, being active and taking a little care in their appearance. So the gaming stopped and the sports began and I was a part of a good group of people that had fun, a laugh (a little to often at me, but you don’t know what others are going through) but people I did feel a part of many still friends today. Equally because it felt like my dad distanced himself from me many of the comments stopped as well. I also significantly changed my diet to reduce weight. I knew basics in that fruit and vege were good for me, chocolates and cakes were bad so I pretty much stopped eating these things for a very long time (at least 18 months). It had the positive effect I was looking for.

 

This is actually the first time I’ve thought we were both consciously staying out of each others way because we didn’t want to be a part of each others lives during the time I was a teenager. I remember doing very little family things at this point in life. I was looking to spend time with my friends, work, or even exercise and spend time on my own. Family was the last place on my mind. I knew distance was there, I’m not a confrontational person and when we had no like minded interests we certainly would not have had a positive relationship heading on. It certainly hard to do things with people and engage with them when you feel you have little in common.

 

He does not care. 

 

When I stopped the gaming I cannot remember an occasion where he was actively interested in what was going on in my life. I’ve made reference to how I was distancing myself from my family, there’s going to be quite a list coming up and only the real headliners within that list.

 

Growing up unless we were gaming he wasn’t interested. I do not remember my dad ever coming to a school parent’s evening, particularly at secondary school, just my mum taking me and speaking with teachers.

 

He rarely came to watch me play rugby, I was the oldest, my parents generally went where my younger brothers went.

 

My mum took me to uni as an 18 year old when I went to Nottingham and then I dropped out, she came to get me. I don’t even remember the time my dad and I had a conversation about uni. I remember the day I left on this occasion and considering it was a big deal for me, he really did not seem interested or overly bothered. I think he said something along the lines of “all the best” and that was about it. The only career thing my dad and I did was him taking me to the RAF recruitment office for one meeting, it didn’t last long and went no further. That would be it.

 

My 18th birthday nothing memorable happened for me. Friends were taken out by parents for meals, or parties were hosted for them. I tagged my 18th on to a 6th form party. I don’t believe my dad even took me out for a pint to celebrate the occasion. What’s hilarious though is after I graduated and came home, he also retired and had a huge do at the Officers mess. I barely had any space on my overdraft and he made a significant point to me that I never bought him a drink, he had plenty of offers but the gesture would have been nice. Slightly hypocritical.

 

This isn’t a one way road. I know I have hurt him from my drinking habits, or I would be surprised to learn if it did not bother him. It’s something I’m only now really working on but I was a huge binge drinker with little care for my actions because drinking gave me a confidence that wasn’t typically there.

 

My 21st was a write off because it was about a month after my mum passed. I understood that, but in the interests of fairness he wrote off both of my brother’s 21st’s, just to keep it fair/and equally do nothing for one of his sons/make an effort to demonstrate his feelings for them.

 

He never came to my graduation. This one stung because when I got there and realised the nature of all the other families and the pride parents were gushing over their children’s achievements I was gutted. I knew I was one parent short from the off. For him to show no interest in it hurt. I had Dawn though and that is what truly mattered.

 

I had to tell him not to come to my wedding to Dawn. I actually believe he did not want to come. That’s another matter but he could not bring himself to say. I asked him a closed yes or no question, 3 times I asked do you want to come until he eventually said yes without trying to dance around the question and avoid the answer. So down the line after this I wrote a letter to him to say he’s not coming. I don’t know if he was bothered or not.

 

The mental torment. 

 

In writing this entire piece it’s brought back feelings of absolute mental torment that he has created on me just through his selfish ways. For so long I felt it was all me and what I know is my dad is just at much at fault.

 

I always kept my feelings on my family generally to myself (other than a couple of trusted friends later on). It’s not appropriate to slag off your family. But he never played by the same rules and I know he has lied and twisted the truth to many other people/pretty much anyone who would listen to him. With the relatives I felt like I was fire fighting because his words were to be trusted more than mine and my wife’s. This really hurt that he had gone about other people spreading things, how could he think it would not get back to me?

 

The most significant thing linked with the bust up is when he brought up his issues with Dawn. This one broke me because I copped so much on me and just accepted. His issues with Dawn I totally disagreed with and were unjust. He let his own feelings to her manifest into hate all because he couldn’t talk about it. I have had many intense conversations with my father after my mum passing in an effort to improve life for all my family and these were all emotionally draining and upsetting. At times I needed to challenge him because we could not go on as we were, it was an itch for me that I had to scratch. It was all connected to me and was ok at the time, or so I thought. I went to uni, met Dawn and learnt so many more things on other families which seriously highlighted the flaws in my own family life at the time, for me. So when my father kicked off at Dawn that was it! It took a few months of working through, I admitted myself to a professional counsellor through my local surgery because I was not coping. I struggled sleep, my normal positive routines were falling apart. At the end of the months of work we told him he was not welcome at our wedding and I was done with him at that point.

 

On a plus point though the counselling was excellent and I would recommend that to anyone undergoing internal stresses. It was a great to talk through my issues without judgement. It also reinforced to me that the path I was thinking I needed to take was ok and I need not feel guilty for doing what was right by my own health.

 

It was the reflection after on many things that I still had to work through, my realisation that he is very good at making himself appear a victim and pushing the blame on to other people. The critical element for this for me is that because my father is not a stupid man, he is actually a very clever and calculated man. All these elements combined are no accident and he is deliberately choosing to behave in this way. This is what I cannot be a part of because it is a relentless stress and I have no trust in him. That was also broken when he presented his issue with Dawn and I am never going to look to find that trust again. I am just not interested. I’ve also heard stories since from others connected to him about his behaviours with them, he’s not changing or behaving any differently and I know my decision is 100% correct.

 

So when is enough, enough?

 

There are so many issues up in the air here in this blog. If my dad and I got on, they probably would not even come into the equation. But we bust up and that has made me think about the past to move on in the future. At what point:

  1. The so called banter and having a laugh?
  2. The loss of a common interest/hobby?
  3. The lack of interest in me as his child?
  4. The repeated instances of causing me to doubt where I’m going.
  5. The disapproval of my partner.
  6. The lack of attendance at important life events for me.

 

The list could go on.

 

So after everything I’ve discussed I’m going to circle back to the very first paragraph. Like I said I always hoped he would change and be a happier person, particularly after my mum passed. I know now it was never coming and it was a false and wrong hope to have. It’s not fair for me to expect change, he is who he is and that is fine. But what is fair is I can make my own decisions and I’m choosing not to be a part of his life, it’s not good for me or healthy. So I have stayed out of his way for over 4 years and I have every intention of making that last. What feels amazing is being able to write these feelings down and get them out in the open and off of my chest. It has been refreshing and I’ve definitely learnt a thing or two in the process. In the wake of the bust up I see things differently. I think people struggle to understand an unhealthy relationship until you’ve left it. I know I did. As previously said as well I know I’m not innocent but I know I am a better person for now not having him as a part of my life because it feels like I have been freed.

 

Thanks for reading, I’ll apologise for the general tone but if you have experienced similar I’ve learnt that it is ok to break relationships from family if they don’t work. They are not different to a friendship and need to be worked on like any other one. People break up from relationships as well that do not suit so why should family be different. You will know if it was the right decision because a weight and a release will have been lifted. I felt a little guilty at the time, it did not feel right, I think it would be hard not to but ultimately I’m happier now and the the guilt no longer exists because I know I’ve made the right decision.

 

It feels great to have got so many of these issues off of my mind and write them down. It was a while coming, probably the main reason I started writing blogs because I was conscious of these feelings. But blogging has been enjoyable for discussing other things as well.

 

Enough was enough.