The “processing” process

My therapy session today looked again at some recurring themes in my life. Control, anxiety , low self esteem, poor boundaries, lack of self respect (drinking / abnormal eating patterns) .

Sober, I have made some quite significant progress in understanding how these things link together, in part how they originated and the healing process and self awareness is developing. My therapist tells me she believes I will not make similar mistakes again – that “processing”, becoming self aware, ‘knowing stuff’ is a kind of a one way street – once you know this stuff, you can’t ‘un-know’ it… and that a space where I learn more and shore up my self respect, will mean that if I am ever brave (or foolish) enough to enter the dating pool again, I will know what I good for me and what is not.

i don’t quite share her confidence yet, but as I have no intention of doing any such thing at present, I suppose that doesn’t matter. And yet I think about it. Angela asked me why? And I think it’s because. I am afraid I will never again love anyone as much as I did ex P. I do see, and believe, that what I loved was a mirage, the “too good to be true” charming, handsome, interesting person he presented as. The reality, which started to emerge after about 12 months, is that he is undermining, selfish, bullying, critical and dishonest. All that he presented to me initially was a facade behind which an anxious, insecure, narcissistic and aggressive person was lurking.

I remember the early days or our relationship;  a breathless whirl of adoration and excitement, how lucky and happy I felt, how I felt, I had finally, at 46, met “the one”. How we seemed to say and think the same things at the same moment, how pleasing and cherishing me seemed to be his first priority. And yet it was all SO wrong.

in the end he had chipped away at my already fragile self confidence, making comments about my appearance, my ‘crap’ son, my ‘shit business’ (which incidentally provided him with every penny he spent for years) , shouted at me for coughing In the night, refused to discuss anything with me that he didn’t want to, threw things at me, abused emotionally all of my children (although the eldest the worst) and left me tens of thousands of pounds in debt.

And then I get angry all over again. Really really angry. With myself for being so spineless, for having seemingly learned NOTHING from my marriage; for allowing him to take advantage of me, for believing his words and not looking at his actions, Angry with him for all of the above reasons but most of all for NOT caring at all how I felt.

I know that anger fades. I don’t want it because it indicates that strong emotions remain. Anger or hate is not the opposite of love;  no, the opposite of love is indifference. And I know I will, in time “process” the anger, express it, mull it over, talk it through and it will settle. What I am afraid of is that the intensity of love will never return. I will never meet anyone I can love as I loved him … and that’s bollocks because what I loved didn’t really exist.

I just have to have faith that in time I will process that too.


This too shall pass..

This morning was one of the most difficult I can remember for sometime.

i took Lola out early, and walked her for a good 2 hours, through our local beautiful park. Usually the exercise, connection to the natural environment and sheer joy of the dog in running, sniffing and chasing the ball is grounding for me. Not so today. Today I felt almost agoraphobic, anxious, agitated and uncomfortable. I was plagued by recurring thoughts about ExP, and spent much of the walk fighting back tears – had the park been less crowded I think I would have howled, perhaps literally in an attempt to expel my discomfort.

When I arrived home, I found the boys up, making pancakes with all the ingredients scattered over the kitchen; puppy wee on the floor,  muddy paw prints, foot prints and dog hair everywhere.

I actually thought about walking out.

instead I gathered the kids, explained that I was overwhelmed by what needed to be done to make the place manageable  for me, so that I could relax and cope with my return to work. And then I phoned my mother and asked her to come and help.

And I don’t often ask for help. I asked her to supervise the children cleaning their den, to enable me to get on with steam cleaning the kitchen floor, the halls, and hoovering everywhere. So she did.

And I cleaned, and they did their bit, and my agitation settled as my environment improved. I worked very very hard, but my home is clean tonight, my garden is free of dog poo, and all the washing is done. Homework is up to date, everyone is fed and settled.

Tomorrow is ExP’s birthday. I’m sure that why he was in ny head. I don’t have a card, but I have sent him a message, wishing him the best for the upcoming year. I’m satisfied that I have acknowledged the day, but not “opened the door” for further communication.

The way I felt this morning was horrid, and I barely knew where to put myself. In the past I would have drunk, today I had to sit with it and wait for it to pass. And pass it did. I’m quite calm now and not upset at all.

Little steps.


A milestone… I hope

Today is my 259th day of consecutive sobriety, and it is 14 weeks today that my relationship ended. In a way that seems so recent, and in another, it’s like another age.

Yesterday a former colleague came to see me, and her partner fitted the new latch and side gate that ExP made. I was so grateful. We messaged ExP to ask where the keep for the lock was. He offered to come over today to show me – but I have declined.

i don’t want to see him.


i don’t want his undermining snidely comments about the puppy, about the job that Has been done on the side gate, about me, the house and everything. that is what he would do: criticise me and everything  about me. I just can’t take it and I don’t want to.

He would ask solicitously about sons 2 & 3 – and probably about my extended family, and studiously ignore the existence of son # 1.

Ive had a tough week. Being off work, looking after Jasper has not been a break. It’s been one long round of cleaning up , mopping, feeding, basic training and trying to get small things done. I’m stressed, anxious, anorexic (in the medical sense – meaning not eating) agitated and disheartened. My life is boring.

BUT… and this is a big BUT …

  • i do not think I am in love with ExP ANY longer
  • i can see how he undermines me and I don’t want it
  • i don’t want to see him
  • Both sons #2 and #3 have had good school reports this week
  • i am sober
  • i am growing emotionally and psychologically, I can almost feel it. It hurts , it’s difficult,awkward and very painful …
  • i have a space, where I can go, every week and explore these things in a non judgemental, non emotionally charged environment; with someone who reads what I say, and feel and helps me with interpret it. I feel safe and contained with my therapist,but able to be very honest.

I expect this this is my first day of the “acceptance” part of the loss. He is not the answer. He has been a big part of the problem.i don’t expect (sadly) that this feeling will stay – I expect regression, but I do expect it to return, and return more often. I expect it to take root slowly, and as long as I continue to nourish it; by remaining sober, but not seeing or communicating with ExP, by plodding on, I expect it to flourish in time.

Until now, I have known I cannot continue with the relationship for my children, because of the financial drain. Today I don’t want to continue with it for ME. Me, Lily, the woman, who can suddenly see the undermining, lack of care for my feelings or needs, criticism, unkindness – as damaging TO ME. And I feel that I matter

marking my place.

a very happy thanksgiving to my friends across the pond.

Lily 🌷 xxx

Eating disorder

i am developing an issue with food. Or “not food” to be honest. Not eating.

weight, body image, appearance.

Here we go again.

like a lot of young women, I had a variety of eating “issues” in the past. My height, 158 cm, means that I show extra pounds easily, and both of my parents were /are overweight. From the age of 18 I have been ‘dieting’ pretty much continuously. At times I have been anorexic, not seriously, but enough to drop my BMI well below ideal: much more often I was bulimic. I have taken all kinds of slimming pills, laxatives (although never appetite suppressants as I’m afraid of them) .

in the last 10 years my weight has bounced between 8 stone and 11 stone. The former makes me look like a lollipop and the latter like a weeble. My relationship with food and eating/  fuel/ weight  is entirely screwed up.

like most people ,(well women anyway) who stop drinking, I calculated how many calories were in my daily bottle of Sauvignon, and assumed that the 700 calories a day I would no longer be imbibing would result in a steady measurable weight loss. It didn’t. At the beginning I actually didn’t care. I was far too busy focussing on not drinking , and I took heart from sobermummy’s experience that her weight loss, started at about 100 days. I didn’t have too many issues with carb stuffing, but my weight stayed stubbornly static at about 10 stone 7. That’s 147 lbs and a BMI of about 26.

Then, of course, as my sobriety lengthened, the clarity of thought that slowly developed , made the way I was living, the stress of my financial situation and the relationship between ExP and my children, the main focus of my thoughts. And being “out of control” of those things turned me back to one thing I could control – my eating. The starving / binging cycle started again. Very secretive, very stealthily I found myself binging, and then compensatory starving. Then the starving started to feel good ….

i can eat ‘normally’ , around other people, but not for long. I’ve lost weight, and that feels good. To an extent it is good, I’ve lost a stone -15lbs to be exact , and look better for it. All my clothes fit and I feel more confident BUT …

Since I split from ExP , since I have been doing counselling and since there are so many uncomfortable, painful feelings around my head … it’s become a different kind of addiction. Feeling hungry, or not (and very often it’s not) has become another way of punishing myself? Or controlling something that feels out of my control.

Im concerned about this – but I don’t seem ready to do anything about it. At the moment I’m almost enjoying the denial, I don’t know why.

My weight is a very good barometer of my emotional well being. When I hover at 10 stone, it tells me that my emotional state is ok. Prior to my “breakdown” in 2014 my weight plummeted to just over 8 stone and then I fell apart. It’s a kind of early warning sign. I AM noticing this – I can’t and don’t want to get back to that state of extreme anxiety and depression. I don’t think that I will.

but I’m marking my place here. I’m being honest that all is not well. And I need to address it.





When I look back at my past life, I regard many of my behaviours as astonishingly immature. That’s quite a HARD thing to admit to myself, although it’s been niggling away at me for some years.

Not in the work sphere, where I have usually been very conscientious, and regarded as a “safe pair of hands”, with good judgement, a broad knowledge base and caritas. Indeed the worst criticism I received in an appraisal was that I ‘cared too much’ and became too involved with my patients. That’s when I worked in hospitals, and I think my boundaries are better than that now. 

No my immaturity was in my relationships with others; particularly men, but also with family. My generous brother offered me a home when I moved back to London, and in retrospect I did not behave well. In my defence I was lost and bereft after the end of a long distance relationship, but it’s not an excuse for the extreme selfishness and messinesshe had to put up with. 

Underneath the story of Ben’s conception is the understanding that onsome level, deep inside I wanted something to love me. Someone to love me. I’m an educated woman who knows perfectly well how contraception works. I was so far in denial I not only failed to prevent pregnancy, but failed to recognise it for almost 3 months.

 I grew up a lot once I had a child to care for but I have still allowed my heart & Emotional state to rule my decision making in a way which I do not find admirable; no I find it immature, ungrounded, foolish and selfish. 

I wonder how I can have had such a split existence? A professional life governed by discipline, commitment and solid achievement, and a personal life full of loss , pain, stupidity, selfishness, and desperately low self esteem.

Angela says I have not been properly “nurtured” as a child. That I didn’t learn self esteem and self worth from my birth parents. I believe that about my father who had little interest in me; I find it harder with respect to my mother, who I know loves me very much. But, whilst she is great at practical help, she’s quite critical as a mother. I don’t ever recall, for example, her telling me that I looked nice – even now she will critisise my clothes (memorably she told me a couple of years ago that my shoes made me look like a prostitute- they really didn’t) and never every praises me. I know she loves me and is proud of me,but maybe her generation find it hard to demonstrate. 

Is immaturity a result of poor parental attachment (in the loosest form) is it related to the large amount of alcohol I drank – kind of halting or delaying personal maturity, whilst allowing professional development to continue (obviously I was not drunk at work) … is low self esteem a character traitor does it come from experiences? 

I’m not in the blame game – I’m trying hard not to ‘blame’ myself for the place I am now, and I’m certainly not ‘blaming ‘ anyone else. I’m trying to understand. To see why and from what place I made the decisions I did …. maybe to try and inform how I parent my own childrenand to try to make better decisions in the future. 

The role of alcohol in all of this is shadowy, not overt; but rather subtly, pervasively, subversively preventing personal development. Obscuring clarity, comforting me, numbing painful feelings and giving me false social confidence. Falsely reassuring me that “everything is fine” … it really wasn’t. 

I hope through my ongoing sobriety, my therapy sessions and my sitting with the deeply uncomfortable feelings that are stirred up by looking at some of this stuff, I am belatedly developing a personal maturity befitting my age, 

What would that look like ?  It would look like financial stability and security, it would look like no further relationships with men for at least a year, it would look like planning and sticking to a training schedule for my events next year,: it would look like prioritising myself, my sobriety, my health and my mental health. 

It would look like forgiving my mother. 

It would look like forgiving myself.



humdrum. I rather like that word, and it describes my life pretty well at the moment. There are no big highs, but also no long, deep lows. My stress levels are undoubtedly lower than before.

My home life is humdrum,  being mum to three boys (and two dogs) sorting out their needs, homework, the shopping, cleaning, washing, ironing.. all day today I have minded the puppy, house training him, cleaned up the endless muddy paw prints from repeated trips to the garden, done my accounts, cleaned, washed, walked Lola twice, taken the car to be serviced and MOT’d.

I think about ExP quite often. Not in a yearning way, but in a ‘rationalising way’, trying to make sense of the whole thing. I bit quite cross doing my accounts when I realised just how much money I had ‘given him’ in the last financial year. From my perspective now I cannot understand how I allowed such an obviously ridiculous and financially abusive situation to continue for so long.

The anger is less violent, less consuming and lasts less long ,than it did at the beginning, but it can still take me over with moments of hot impulsive fury. During those momentS, I would like to scream at HIM. But I know it won’t help, won’t change anything and the moment passes in an hour or so.

Im grateful for the reduction in intensity of emotion. I can cope better, feel less raw. It’s exactly like how I felt a couple of months after I stopped drinking , as though my sobriety had brought some balance to my emotional state. I’m still a bit up and down, but I could never have done this if I’d still been drinking.

I think a humdrum life suits me quite well right now . I worry a bit about what will happen when I feel the need to look for some excitement again, but maybe I won’t. Maybe I’m cured of wanting / craving excitement in my life. Maybe I’m going to enjoy some longer term stability with pleasure in little things ….


Later …

Of course it’s fine. He has been gorgeous, and Lola seems to love him now- they were playing together this afternoon – lovely to see. Puppies also sleep quite a lot, which I had forgotten, so we had several peaceful hours when I could get on with the housework.

Much calmer tonight, and more optimistic. Why on earth should I not cope with two dogs. I’ve trained one, why not a second? And my primary aim, which was to give Lola a canine companion , seems to be working out. 😍🐶

jasper is asleep in his crate, and Lola is asleep at my feet. The house is clean and tidy, and I’m off work this week

all small, petty things. But it’s what makes my life tick …

thank you for your supportive comments xx lily 🌷


So yesterday we picked up our beautiful puppy. He is adorable and full of energy and fun. So far, Lola seems ok with him, the cat has swiped him a couple of times for annoying her, he’s eating and we’re starting with house training. So far, so good.

But I am feeling overwhelmed, he’s much noisier than Lola and cried last night in the crate which was heartbreaking. The garden is a mud swamp due to the rain, making the kitchen floor filthy again every time you take jasper out for a pee. The boys love him, but find accidents funny and don’t take training as seriously as me.

When I took Lola out for a walk this morning she was a disobedient as a 6 month puppy. And that’s really not like her. She wouldn’t recall , or bring me the ball and took pleasure in dancing just out of my reach. I suspect she is displeased with me on some level for getting a puppy, even though she has been playing with him. Like a toddler when a new sibling comes Along. Stressed me out though,.

I know I need to chill a bit. Mud is inevitable at this time of year, and at least Lola likes him ! We have wooden / tiled floors and have taken up the rugs so he can’t ruin anything.

Agitated and overwhelmed is how I feel this morning, and worried I have made an expensive and stressful mistake ( that’s the voice of ExP)


Yesterday I was discussing with my therapist last weekends meeting with ExP. In particular the part where I agreed to go for a “drink” with him and watch rugby. Why I did that, what I was hoping to gain? What the feelings I had at the time and afterwards were about – actually what feelings I HAD. After we had chatted for a bit, and I had tried to put the complex feelings I have into words, Angela said ” you are still bargaining”.

And that’s it. That’s the crux.

If you take the Kubler-Ross  model of the grief ‘experience’ ; (and after all the loss of a significant relationship is a kind of loss that induces grief) then ‘bargaining’ is one of the stages that many people go through. I’ve certainly done ‘angry’ ! The bargaining is a kind of desperate attempt NOT to face reality (that the relationship has failed) and for me is bordering on denial that this can actually have happened.

To me its SO obvious that my deal-breakers are ‘reasonable’ and normal that I literally CANNOT understand how this man, who says he ‘loves me so much’ can’t get it

  • That I cannot be 100% financially responsible for an able-bodied adult who cannot make any money in his chosen sphere and will not work in any other, whilst I get deeper and deeper into debt through supporting him.
  • That an adult who is rude, bullying and unkind to my child cannot live with him. And that the child comes first to its mother.

and I just don’t understand why he cannot see this. and my bargaining comes almost with myself

  • If only I had tried harder…if I give him one more chance he WILL see these things
  • If only we had got support from a couples counsellor…, someone who could make him understand
  • If only I had tried to talk to him earlier / differently…If I could have made him understand

And why can’t I accept that he does not see it, and will not see it because he doesn’t want to?

Because I think, I had so much invested in  this relationship. And despite all I know, he still ‘looks good’ to me. I have to trust the process of building my self esteem and confidence so that He (who is not good for me) will eventually not LOOK good to me either…

And in the meantime? I would be best advised to keep away from this person, accept that I was mistaken in my past assessment of him; accept that I cannot change HIM only my reaction to him; accept that in time I won’t want him at all, and plough on with in own furrow.



Clinic Day

So I’m sitting in the breast clinic waiting for my name to be called. Strange feeling. I can’t believe there is anything seriously wrong with me, or maybe I just don’t want to believe it’s a possibility. I’m aware of the stats; that 9/10 ‘lumps’ are benign, that of the 1/10 who do In fact have a breast cancer, 80% will be cured of it. 

But it is only sitting here, surrounded by a group of similarly anxious women, that I am really allowing myself to think about the scenario that it’s not ok, there are about 10 women currently waiting – statistically one of us will get bad news. Why NOT me ? 

Update 15.30, the lump is a cyst, and benign. Phew 🙂 thank you for your support xxx lily 🌷


One of my big issues in my adult life has been a tendency to develop co-dependent relationships, in which I play the role of “Rescuer”. Although I am unaware of it consciously, I would bet that this fills a need in me as much as it does in my ex partners. Many healthcare professionals have “rescuer” tendencies, as do many women. I think mine are quite well developed, and have led me into problems.

If I am ever to have a healthy, boundaried, mutually respectful relationship, I need to get my head around this

i read this on Lucy’s website ( …I Recognise every one of these behaviours in my most recent relationship (and others) -and it’s partly for this reason that I know I need therapy and help to work through this stuff as I don’t SEE it at the time, only later …

Recognize a Rescue While You Are Participating In It

Learn to recognize that you are rescuing when you:
– Do something that you do not want to do because you believe you have to, and feel resentful later. YES
– Do not ask for what you want.YES
– Inappropriately parent another adult (giving unsolicited advice, giving orders, nagging, or criticizing) YES –  although I think really this came from his abdication of responsibility. 
– Don’t tell your partner when there’s a problem, or when you feel resentful, ripped off, rejected, cheated, depressed, disappointed, or otherwise dissatisfied. YES
– Contribute more than 50% of the effort to any project or activity that is supposed to be mutual, (including housework, earning income, making dates and social plans, initiating sex, carrying the conversations, giving comfort and support) without a clear agreement between you. YES although I did TRY to discuss it.
– Feel your role is to fix, protect, control, feel for, worry about, ignore the expressed wants of, or manipulate your partner.YES – fix, protect, worry about 
– Habitually feel tired, anxious, fearful, responsible, overworked and/or resentful in your relationship. YES
– Focus more on your partner’s feelings, problems, circumstances, performance, satisfaction or happiness than on your own.  YES

When I look at this list it just seems SO bloody obvious. Take the dog for example. We agreed to get a dog together. We agreed to get a collie, a breed that needs exercise and training. Who paid for the dog, me. Who paid for her inoculation, worming, puppy training, insurance, food, toys, equipment? More significantly, who put in the hours training her? Walking her ? Every weekend who took her out ? Where exactly did this “joint project” start being a 50-50 project ?. Answer , it didn’t. Like so much else he wanted the credit without putting in ny of the spade work.

So what I have been wondering is why I have become such a rescuer / fixer. It looks on the surface like such an unappealing position – leading to resentment frustration and taking on far more that a “fair share” 0f responsibility…I’ve been looking on the internet for explainations, because there are exactly none in my head ….

There seem to be a number of possible reasons why many of us cast ourselves in that role.

Nobility – This kind of self sacrifice is sometimes encouraged by popular cultural and religious beliefs. There is a strong cultural narrative that teaches us that it is more noble to give than to receive and that those who adopt this philosophy will prevail in the end. Many of our cultural heroes are people who martyred themselves or sacrificed themselves for a cause. Some of us, while we are suffering in silence, privately hope that we are winning the admiration of friends and family for doing so.

Action – Sometimes, when the world around us seems to be imploding in a world of crazy destruction, it can seem foolish to do nothing. At least if we are hacking our way through a jungle we have something to do and a task to focus our energy on. It can be therapeutic to take our frustration and confusion out on a project and sometimes the extra adrenaline we get from frequent conflict with our personality-disordered family members can be channeled to give us a kind of “super-human strength” to accomplish amazing things.

Latent Justice – Some of us, religiously or otherwise, view the universe as a place where all will be made equal in the end. Like some kind of emotional bank account, we pay in our efforts and sacrifices hoping and believing that some day, in this world or in the next, we will reap all that we have sewn, with interest.

Guilt & Pride – Some of us, while we are working hard on ourselves or on “the relationship”, harbor a hidden vengeance and secretly plan for the day when our loved-one will “See the light”, “come to their senses” or “pay back what is owed”. We may secretly imagine our loved one coming to us, acknowledging all that we have done for them, and asking or pleading for our forgiveness.

For mr I think , at least latterly it was just the path of least resistance. To complain, question or disagree with the world as ExP saw it, was to be shouted at, criticised, undermined and have things thrown at you. So best to just shut up and get on with it, until  you can’t anymore. And there are periods during all ‘normal’relationships when one partner gives more , when one needs extra support. It’s a gradual thing slipping into all give on one side …

I think there is also something about my low self esteem that can’t imagine anyone who didn’t NEED me would WANT to be with me. That I can’t imagine being loved just for myself, that maybe I would feel very insecure in such a position.

I don’t really know, I know I need to think about this some more. I know that co dependency and rescuing is a real concept and complex problem I need to deal with … I just don’t know how ….



I’m writing this post to remind myself of something, as many of you reminded me in Comments, and I have heard in real life.

This man cannot make me happy. This ‘nice’ man I went out with on Saturday afternoon does not really exist. This ‘nice man’ is a facade, with a mission. And this ‘nice man’ is also inside, a damaged, unhappy, unkind, selfish man who made life so hard for my son. This man took and took from me leaving me with a huge debt to repay. This man thinks he is always right

Even on our nice afternoon, there were subtle attempts to undermine me, telling me that the house is a mess (it isn’t) and smells bad (it doesn’t) and forecasting disaster at the arrival of a second dog. I’m so so used to these little digs that I don’t SEE them until I reflect on things later. He asked with interest and concern about my younger two sons, but did not mention the eldest who started his first job last week.

He tells me he misses me, loves me, but he does not apologise for the things that split us apart and he does not SHOW me that this ‘love’ is true by understanding my point of view. By Listening to me. I am so vulnerable to him that I only hear the words, and I need the commons sense of my friends and family to remind me to look at the actions. Judge what someone DOES not what they say ..I feel weak, gullible, vulnerable, raw and confused.

I contrast that with me this morning at work. I have seen patients with mental illness, a child with a self limiting virus, a newly diagnosed diabetic, a 40 year old with somatisation and anxiety, a transplant patient, and man who’s indigestion is almost certainly angina pectoris. An elderly lady who has lost her husband  and is struggling. And more. I am confident here, in my clinic, I have offered these people my time, empathy, explanation support practical advice, medication and expertise. I know I am good at my job. I’m confident in my decision making and my reasoning behind it. I’m confident my knowledge and experience have now produced a rounded, holistic, true “family doctor”. I’m proud of my achievements at work, proud of what I do, grateful that i am valued and relied upon, My judgement is valued and sought.

What happened to this in my personal life ? Why does this one man, who pushed me SO far and has done me wrong, still push my buttons? Why can I see that logically but struggle to connect to it emotionally? Am I afraid of being alone ? Do I judge my worth as a woman by having a man at my side ? Not consciously; consciously I enjoy my calmer life, my time to focus on my children and what needs to be done. Consciously I’m happy in my warm bed at night alone. Consciously I feel the relaxation coming over all of us, I notice the loss of anger and resentment from my day to day life. Consciously I appreciate the peace that comes from doing, each day, what I believe to be right and having no battles between what HE wants and what my conscience tells me is the correct thing to do.

Maybe its like alcohol, it takes time. Consciously I knew that drinking was doing me no favours, but it still took some time to action sobriety. And maybe this ‘moderation’ ; seeing him for an afternoon for a nice drink / rugby match is no good for me either. Maybe here too, abstinence, complete abstinence, is the only way I will recover.  He is not my friend. He was my lover, the man I hoped to grow old with. He is the man I loved more completely and passionately that I have loved before. I am afraid that it is THIS I am scared to lose. That there is no-one else who could ever make me feel THAT good. That any other relationship will be a pale imitation, second best – measured forever against this ‘lost’ person. On another level I never want to meet anyone else. I never want to risk this again. I don’t trust myself and I certainly don’t trust other ‘men’ – (excluding of course a few I already know)

Reflective mood for a Monday, before a bitch of a week work wise.

But then, on Saturday, Jasper comes…. and I have a week off 🙂


Yesterday (and don’t all shout at once) i saw ExP. The boys are with their Dad on Saturdays and I desperately needed some figures and statements from the last financial year to complete my tax return. In the circumstances , dissolution of the partnership, I needed his input.

it was nice to see him. (Groan). we managed a senseful and appropriate business discussion which will enable me to get my stuff to my far so good.

Then he suggested we go to the pub and watch the England rugby match. It’s on sky tv which I don’t have. So we did. Again, don’t all groan together. This blog is an honest account of where I am, and I can’t miss out the ‘blips’….

the pub serves becks blue , I didn’t drink alcohol obviously, he bought me a drink ! We watched the match , it was a good game with the right result if you are English. I love watching rugby and it’s something we used to do a lot together.

Ok.this the hard bit. It just felt nice, normal, calm. I enjoyed being with him, close to him. I remembered the good times. We didn’t really discuss anything controversial or difficult, stayed after the match for one more and then I went home. Alone.

And now I’m confused. Not really about the big stuff. He can’t live here, not with the boys. And I’m not paying for one more thing. But I’m clearly no where near ‘over him’ , and still vulnerable and still susceptible….

In one way I can see my progress; and it’s only 12 weeks since we split, and we were together 6 years,  and I did adore him. On the other hand …. ggrrrrr


Eight months

Eight months ago today (March 11th) I took my last alcoholic drink(s) . I didn’t know it then, but it was a turning point in my life.

Today feels like  a day of reflection as I’m pondering a slightly uncertain future given the stubborn lump (which has not gone away ! – awaiting appointment)

So I woke early this morning – one thing I have started doing is going to bed earlier and rising earlier, so I can walk Lola in the morning, be back in time to get the boys up in good time for school / work, have time for a shower and more leisurely preparation for the day. I like this. I like being early for work, not rushing, I like watching Lola run and run with sheer joy in the early morning misty darkness; I like the exercise it gives me and I like the feeling of control I have over my day

so small blessings I counted as I dried off after my shower

  • My boys, downstairs from me were chatting as they got ready. Nice chat. Not arguing.
  • My dog is better trained, because as well as running after the ball we do training every morning.
  • My puppy Jasper arrives next Saturday 19th November
  • My house is warm
  • I am fed, my children are fed.
  • I have a loving extended family and very good friends
  • I am sober and with my sobriety have come so many blessings
  • I am in therapy – and although that sounds a bit ‘cliched’ , i genuinely feel I have for the first time a safe space where I can be honest, and not judged, actually affirmed.
  • as a sober woman I have the insight and the self reflection necessary to make progress in that therapeutic environment
  • I am separated from my Ex , which means the constant cognitive dissonance – doing something (being with him) against what I knew to be right (putting my children first) is gone.
  • I feel contentment
  • I have stable employment
  • I never ever have to worry about how much I drink, driving the next morning, picking the kids up late, having an accident when drunk, I am no longer ashamed of my drinking
  • I am calmer, my moods are stable
  • I am genuinely close to my children. They TALK to me. And I share more of my day to day life with them because I have time, and energy.
  • This is an evolving one, but my co-parenting relationship with my ex husband is now better that the civil one I have always tried to maintain. I would describe it as positive.
  • My choices are positive ones for ME. And my family. All of us.

I feel truly blessed right now. And safer, more secure and more confident that my path is the right one than I have for some considerable time.

And on this day eight months ago I truly had NO IDEA what was just around the corner,

Bless you all, and I wish you a peaceful, happy day. Especially the two people IRL who share my blog, you are more important to me that you could ever realise.

Lily x



The past…

we have reached the point in my therapy where the subject of the “past” has come up –  specifically the circumstances surrounding the conception and birth of my first child.

i was an ‘unmarried mother’ and Ben was not a planned child. The shame I feel about the whole episode means that this evening was the first time I have discussed this in detail, possibly ever. It’s been buried in my conscious, a source of such  intense embarrassment and guilt that I literally NEVER discuss it. Not with my ExP or my ex Husband, not with my friends. Just not.

the phrases “disgusted with myself” , degradation, stupidity, humiliation come to mind when I think of the circumstances surrounding Ben’s conception. Of course despite initial reassuring noises about how they don’t think badly of me regarding this both my ex husband and ExP have made it abundantly clear (when things got difficult) that they do, in fact, think I’m a slut and an unforgivable whore / tramp for having a child with a man I had a fling with.

The disquiet runs so deep,I was even nervous about discussing it in therapy. I feel it shows me in such a poor light – perhaps once again thus demonstrates my need to be ‘perfect’ to ‘please’ in that I don’t want Angela my therapist to think badly of me.

The hour I spent discussing it flew by. I’m sitting in the coffee shop at the gym now because I need some quiet space to digest my feeling about having discussed this. I’m also aware that I feel a strong urge to go and get drunk, to block out my feelings , to do “something” with the uncomfortable feelings that have been raised. (Don’t worry I won’t) I have a peppermint tea, some space and this blog, and the rest I will have to just sit with.

i think reviewing the circumstances which led me there allow me some leeway to ‘forgive myself’ a little. I left London in 1997 after the end of a very important relationship. Although I had called time on it, I was bereft, consumed with my loss and desperately unhappy. I had been living with my brother who had been kind enough to put me up. I must have been a nightmare to live with. I described myself to Angela as chaotic, which sums it up – but when I look back I don’t recognise myself. I was late to work, disappeared for long shopping trips in the middle of the day, was selfish in the extreme and utterly lost. I was drinking heavily and didn’t care about myself one little bit.

So I decided, in my wisdom to go to Wales and train as a GP. And not to Cardiff or Swansea, but to a tiny rural Welsh speaking hamlet, where I lived alone in a stone cottage ( having first dumped myself on an acquaintance for the best part of 3 months)  I was running away, although I knew not what from, not what to. I had no plan, no stability and had just removed myself from all the sources of support I had.

Small wonder I took up with the only man who was single and had all his teeth. I was never ‘in love’ , I never intended it to be a long lasting relationship. And after a few weeks I started noticing things about my new friend I didn’t like much – he was a fantasist, habitual liar and (probably) a small time crook. So after about 3 months I ended the relationship. All fine

except that in my chaotic, self sabotaging, self loathing state I had “forgotten” to take care of contraception properly. I didn’t realise I was pregnant for a further 9 weeks.

In that time I went skiing, twice. Drank like a fish, took antibiotics for a chest infection and wondered why I felt so tired. Poor child , what a shitty start.

Writing this down I begin to feel sorry for the younger me. I see she needed love and compassion, she needed stability and a feeling of self worth, she needed security and to take care of herself emotionally and physically. She didn’t.

The decision not to terminate my pregnancy was immediate, and ultimately provided me with a salvation of sorts. The arrival of the baby, who I adored as soon as he was born, brought me a stability and reason to create order in my life. I went home to my mum to have the baby, by that time I had my certificate of completion of GP training, so I knew I could earn a living and support us both. And that’s what I did.

Ben’s father has never seen him. I did not tell him when I was pregnant as the relationship was already over and the last thing I wanted was him hanging around trying to play happy families. As soon as Ben was born, and a light clicked on that this was a separate human being with his own rights, I did inform his father. On the third attempt I got a reply.

But ben has a whole other family out there. Two half siblings ( that I know of) an aunt and uncle and 4 cousins ( that I know of) grandparents. And of course a father. A man I despise, and a man I would wish to protect my son from. A man I should never ever have had a child with.

Angela and I will talk more about this I’m sure. I don’t know If I will ever forgive myself truly, or if the self disgust and self reproof can be “reprogrammed” to self forgiveness and compassion for the damaged, lost woman with such desperately low self esteem that she though she was worth no better.



I need this like a hole in the head

I have a breast lump

A 2 cm firm lump in my left breast. Its not been there long – I know because I check regularly. Its mobile, and there are no really sinister features. But It’s there: I’m a woman and 1/9 women get breast cancer at some point in their lives. why NOT me.  I was a heavy drinker which increases ones risk, and I have had enough stress in the last 3 years to increase my risk of ‘illness’. I really believe that emotional stress and  anxiety take their toll on physical robustness.

So I have been to see my GP, I’m trying not to read too much into the fact that she did NOT say “Oh that feels fine, I am not worried at all, but just to be safe we will refer you …” But rather ” Ok, I’m going to refer you to the 2 week wait clinic -(for suspected cancer)” ; I’m resisting the urge to poke the wretched thing every 5 minutes to see if its gone ( it hasn’t); and I’m reasonably sanguine about the whole thing right now. I have had a couple of 3 am wobbles, in which my overactive brain jumps from worst case scenario to the grave in the space of 2 minutes… but in general I think remaining optimistic that its a) nothing to worry about or b) early, small and easily dealt with is probably more helpful

I have told my poor friend Kate, who with a poorly mother and a very sick husband surely doesn’t need more ( but she reads my blog so I cant keep it from her ) and my brother … When I get a clinic appt I will tell my mum. Do not intend to burden my kids with this, until and unless I must… ie hopefully never.

for the first time I miss ExP quite fiercely, as a hug and a reassuring arm would be pretty nice right now..

I have posted a picture of my gorgeous puppy, now named Jasper, at the top of the page, to remind me there are loads of things to look forward to and lots of things to be grateful for.


Narcissistic personality disorder

I dislike “self diagnosing” patients who come to me and tell me they have “bipolar” because they are a bit moody, or lupus because they have a spot on their face.

And I try hard not to diagnose myself – I have a wonderful GP and I trust her 100% tomake sensible decisions about my health. She is secure enough not to be challenged by the fact I am a colleague, humble enough to come to joint decisions when required and mature enough to be firm ! 

BUT. I’m now going to do exactly what I hate others doing and do a bit of armchair Psychiatry with respect to my ex P

Narcissistic personality disorder: wiki definitions in italic, my observations in plain type

According to the DSM-5, individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms, typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments: 

1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others. Yes yes yes. He expects others to treat him with the utmost respect and deference, yet shows little to others. He really believes he’s had a successful career when he has sold two works in the last 6 years, and has earned no money

2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. He has  a whole load of completely unrealistic expectations as to how he can take small comments forward, believes he will be a global success without putting in any of the spade work

3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions. He was once and I don’t think he has got over the loss 

4. Needing constant admiration from others. Always always, especially me. Have to tell him how wonderful everything he has done is…

5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others. Enormous sense of entitlement to be supported financially whilst he does very little. Expected everyone – including me – else to do as he wishes. Shows no respect to my kids, but excpects them to respect him

6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain. Hmmm 6 years or not working not contributing and having everything paid for, absolutely no remorse or understanding as to how that could have been detrimental to me. Note debt in the 10,s of thousands … 

7. Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs. They are so unimportant to him he won’t even discuss them

8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them not so sure about this one

9. Pompous  and arrogant demeanor, Oh yes, extremely 

So where does this get me? I sent this to my friend K ( without the annotations) and she saw immediately the traits within ExP. I also asked if it mattered what you call it ? She thinks it does, and I’m beginning to believe her – it helps me to know I’m not going mad, that this is him not me, that he will never change because these are fixed personality characteristics and he doesn’t not, cannot , see where he is wrong ? In which case I have to give up any faint hope that he will change, do anything different, understand what I’m saying and why I am upset. 

I have to let go, and understand that I can’t win. K also pointed out to me that I sound like I do not LIKE him much, and I realise I don’t – he has few of the personality traits I admire and many I positively dislike ; and that I don’t have much respect left for him. 

So maybe I’m going to go ahead , inside me and say that I believe my ExP has a narcissistic personality disorder. And that just maybe I’ve had a lucky escape. 

Alcohol a love affair

I’m drawing some funny parallels with my relationship with alcohol and that with my ex P.

My relationship with alcohol started when I was about 14, and waitressing at a community event. There was alcohol present and plenty of opportunity for the ‘staff’ to have a few glasses. so I did. And expanded up pretty drunk. The rest is predictable . Unlike some others I have always had a difficult relationship with alcohol, drugs didn’t interest me and my profession – on call one night in three or four saved me from drinking every day for many years. But I have never really had a ‘off’ switch, or an ‘enough’ switch… 

I met my ExP fairly quickly (4 months) after my marriage ended. Red flag no 1. I honestly didn’t realise it, because I felt relief that a marriage that had made me very unhappy was over, but I was extremely vulnerable. I met him entirely by chance, but the only opportunity I had to avoid falling in love with him would have been to walk away right then and there. I didn’t. And so I fell deeply, swiftly and irrationally in love. Lost myself. Lost my values, my own opinions, lost my sense. But like drinking, I knew in some little corner of myself that this was risky, potentially dangerous, but I did it anyway. And when I look back, he “told me” exactly who he was, via anecdotes quite early on. I ignored these warning signs, just as I ignored all the warning signs that my taste for alcohol was slipping out of control.

And both of these relationship’s damaged me. Damaged my sense of self esteem, damaged my relationships with my children and my family, damaged my development as an adult woman. Cost me financially, emotionally and cost me my health. I damaged my liver by drinking ,as well as my mental health, and the strain of living with the horrible toxic relationship between ExP and my eldest son lead me to a “nervous breakdown” for want of a better word. 

I found it impossible to imagine life without either alcohol or my ExP. If you had told me 12 months ago I would be sitting at home , dry for almost eight months and single for almost 3 months, I would have wondered if that could possibly be me. How I would ever find the strength to do those things.

Giving up alcohol is, for all of us who have done it,a hard slog at the beginning, physically & emotionally it’s difficult. At the beginning you think about it ALL the time, miss it, fret about how you will manage, can’t look too far forward, are afraid to relapse, but also aftraid of an alcohol free future. For me, those exact same emotions are replicated in the breakdown of my relationship with ExP. It was started by a moment of anger, blind fury, but quickly replaced by the same feelings of physical (all the stress made me feel physically dreadful) and emotional preoccupation with HIM. I missed him, fretted about the loss, was anxious about how I would manage without him, could only go day to day, was afraid of weakening and having him back, yet terrified of going forward without him… 

and like alcohol, the period of abstinence has calmed my feelings. Well that, and opening up a bit to those close to me, ( similarly to my sobriety I have not shared widely that my relationship has broken down) I now don’t think about him all the time, as time goes by and I seeem to be manageing – new boiler this week – I’m losing the fear that he engendered that “I couldn’t cope alone” . My therapy has provided me with a safe space where I can be honest, exploring things that are hard to do even with the closest friends, and the professional questioning shines light on aspects of my life that I haven’t really thought about / have been avoiding. 

The best thing is the peace in my head. The peace from not drinking, no headaches, no hangover, no embarrassing things to squirm over, no more cognitive dissonance as I watch him treat my kids in a way I disagree with, no more choosing between him and my children, no more feeling of failure as a mother because he tells me how shit my children are. No more stress and toxic atmosphere at home; yes the kids argue sometimes, yes there are disagreements about who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher; but critically the children are treated equally, everyone knows they are loved, we do stuff together and I can be the mum I want to be. Similarly with no drunkenness, I’m present emotionally, and responsive in a way I have not always been.

One of the stop drinking books I read in the early days did a lot of comparing giving up alcohol to leaving an unsuitable lover. It really irritated me at the time, if fact I stopped reading those bits because it felt like there was no relevance for me in the comparison. Looking back now, there may have been more than I thought! 

I’m having a down day today, very very busy week at work, and just exhausted. But I’m going to try not to beat myself up about it, and just rest, blog, and take care of myself. 

Stability and Sobriety

I’ve been neglecting my blog. Partly I think because I have been very busy in the REAL WORLD; partly because I Think about my sobriety much less these days and partly because my reflective brain / space has been occupied with thoughts I cannot share. That ‘cannot’ tripped off the keyboard – and it reflects the shame I feel about certain parts of my life; The shame is mine – and not because objectively I have done anything THAT shameful; but because I am deeply ashamed of it and I never speak of it. Angela (my therapist) has brought this up, and I know its time to open the cupboard door and take a peek inside …

as part of that process, this thought has occurred to me..

All my adult life I would have described myself as ‘cyclothymic’ – (below from Wikipedia with my own additions)

Cyclothymia is a type of chronic “mood disorder”  widely considered to be a more chronic but milder or subthreshold form of bipolar disorder. Cyclothymia is characterized by numerous mood swings, with periods of hypomanic symptoms that do not meet criteria for a hypomanic episode,  alternating with periods of mild or moderate symptoms of depression that do not meet criteria for a major depressive episode

An individual with cyclothymia may feel stable at a baseline level but experience a noticeable shift to an emotional high during subthreshold hypomanic episodes of elation or euphoria, with symptoms similar to those of mania but less severe, and often cycle to emotional lows with moderate depressive symptoms. To meet the diagnostic criteria for cyclothymia, a person must experience this alternating pattern of emotional highs and lows for a period of at least two years with no more than two consecutive symptom-free months.

I’ve never bothered a psychiatrist with any of this, partly because I think its just my personality (and thus not an ‘illness’) , partly because I don’t want to take any mood stabilising drugs and partly because they might have asked too many questions about how much I drank! Through my life I have stabilised to some extent anyway – mellowing with age some might say.

Since I quit drinking that stability has become more noticeable. Not immediately, but I am almost eight months sober now, and I have definitely noticed  that I am calmer and less reactive ; more ‘stolid’ and stable. For example Son #3 managed to run up a phone bill of almost £200 in one month ( on at £20 contact) and instead of “going mad” I was able to calmly talk to him and sort out where the problems have come from.

This has surprised me. Given that I was not drunk ALL the time (when one is always more volatile) Its interesting that sustained sobriety has had this effect. Its definitely a positive. I feel as though I am becoming more of the person I want to be, calm, stable, emotionally reliable – rather than volatile and unpredictable. I wasn’t THAT bad but I’m better now. and less cyclothymic.

Maybe I am now able to examine some of the skeletons rattling around in my brains ‘closet’ and not overreact to the feelings this engenders.

I hope so. I think its time I did