New Years Resolutions

So, after Christmas comes the New Year …

When I was a young woman I loved New Year. A chance to go out with friends, get drunk  celebrate get drunk, usher in the next exciting chapter get drunk. Christmas was for family, New Year was for friends…Once I had children I still enjoyed new Year festivities got drunk , but usually at home, or at a close friends. NYE was still a highlight of the festive season, still a chance to get drunk have a good time and let my hair down. A few resolutions would be made over the next Day, a few were stuck to, most were abandoned often very quickly. The new Year trundled on …

Right now NYE seems like just another evening, I would be happy enough sitting at home in front of the fire, if the expectations of NYE past weren’t weighing on me. If I didn’t feel the (self imposed) pressure to ‘have a good time’. So I’m trying to look past NYE (which my youngest has generously offered to spend watching a film with me) , and peer into ‘next year’. I’m considering the ritual that is the making of ‘New Year Resolutions’ ..

I have mixed feelings abut this. In one way, I think it does no harm to take a look at ones habits, review ones dreams and goals, think over ‘the plan’: In another way, the marker of another year passed, another setting of another set of aspirations one can’t meet seems pointless depressing and futile. Most ambitions seem flexible -either through choice or sometimes necessity. My friend K has often talked to me about having ‘plans’ eg a one yer plan, and 5 years plan, a 10 year plan. Thinking about how you would like you life to be at the end of that time period, and working backwards to make a small set of stepping stones, smaller goals on the path that can be reached on the way to the ultimate destination.

I like this approach and have been musing on what goals I have that lend themselves to “chunking” in this way.

The first is my garden. I live in suburbia, about 10 miles outside London in that wide commuter belt that empties of suited business people every morning. My home is a detached property with a fair sized garden for the area. When I moved in it was rather ramshackle and we had some initial leveling and re-turfing work carried out to make it suitable for the 2 children we had at that time. Over the years I have done very little further, and the garden has been utilized for football, children’s games, a trampoline and other outdoor activities for three growing boys.

I would like to make more of the garden, and although its a daunting task, and I will need some help with certain aspects of hard landscaping, I think I could do a lot myself.  I could make a plan, perhaps over 5 years, and break it down naturally so that the tasks are neither so overwhelming nor so expensive. I think I would enjoy this, It will improve my environment, provide a sense of well-being and potentially achievement. I’ve been collecting Pins (on pintrest) and at the weekend will sit down and try to create a mood board, and a plan. More of that after the weekend.

So that’s one. Make a plan, make a start on a project to develop the garden…


Number two: A goal to collect NO parking tickets over the next 12 months. I did this once before (and it was one I stuck to) Parking infringements are stupid, and a pointless waste of money. It just takes 1. swallowing the irritation when there is nowhere easy to leave the car and persist in looking until there is and 2. being realistic about how long I will be away!

Number three: I am going to try very hard to write an email to one of six people every week. So that I have some kind of correspondence with people I value but don’t contact enough …

So what else ? I have stopped smoking already, so no need for that one. Continuing not to drink is a given… Eating / exercising …. that perennial bugbear … In one way I would love to commit to increasing my regular exercise/ and increasing my vegetable intake. Keeping it vague means there is more chance I will achieve this, but: I am still carrying a hip injury from falling off my Bike last Winter, and I find that pressurizing myself over what I eat / don’t eat is one more stress I can do without …So deliberately, I am leaving these two off my NY resolutions for 2018.

I think perhaps, maybe, that’s enough ?

What are your NY resolutions ?



Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate – and happy holidays to those who do not.

I’m not sure which category I fall into this year.

Until today I have been off work since 9th December. What a treat. 18 days of rest, relaxation and preparation for the festive period. Of course I made a few plans: saw a couple of people for lunch, visited some exhibitions: cleaned and tidied and sorted a bit …

The holiday days themselves my children were with their father on Christmas Day and I had planned some stuff to do alone; the 26th my mother came for lunch.

All very nice. Certainly more relaxed and prepared than some years when I finished work at 6pm on Christmas Eve and rush back on 27th …So I dressed the house with care, got out all the decorations, including a Christmas Village scene given to me by me late father in law some years ago and a flying singing, noise triggered Santa to suspend from the light fitting; strung fairy lights through the palm in the front garden and wound foliage through the banisters; I bought multiple candles and lit them with a childlike simple pleasure. I planned meals, ordered food and cooked puddings and cakes as well as inviting family and friends over. I enjoyed pottering around my home and making it ‘nice’; I enjoyed walking the dog most days in the brisk Winter mornings; I enjoyed planning and cooking and I enjoyed being clear headed, not hungover, not excessive …

On the 22nd my brother and his family came for an early Christmas lunch. Apart from difficult behaviour by son #3 (which is unusual) it was a lovely day. I enjoy seeing my brother and sister in law and the light hearted banter of their family. We had a great day.

After that, not so much. Christmas itself was a bit of a let down (but then that’s what I expected, given that the children were with their father) Yesterday, tense and crabby with son #2 eating nothing at lunch because his father had given them literally scores of chocolate bars the previous day and he had finished the lot. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but it did. My lovingly prepared lunch pushed aside after two mouthfuls because hes been eating chocolate all morning. Cue argument; cue son#2 telling me I’m grumpy since I stopped drinking (thanks mate).


I feel lost really. No fun. Festivities are hard with no alcohol, at least I find them so. Looking at the wreckage of my ‘family’ makes me deeply sad. Realising (again) that my ex husband has no interest in ‘parenting’  – just in being popular eg buying a very overweight 15 year old 2kg of chocolate at Christmas …

That taking away their electronic stuff (PS4 and phones) doesn’t result in them wanting to spend time with me – son2 barely uttered 10 sentences to me apart from disagreements …

back to work doesn’t seem so bad really… and that’s sad in itself …

Here we go again…

This is a vent, a moan, a release of frustration.

My ex husband is on the rampage again.

This morning I got a message for son 1 in Nepal, worried that ‘Dad seems to be having some kind of breakdown’ …. on further questioning it seems that Dad has got the hump with all His friends, and his brother, over Christmas arrangements, and (from what I can piece together) because some friends came to me for dinner last weekend. So what? The problem is that he twists the truth, sprinkles it with a liberal helping of venom and then serves up his bitterness and twisted reasoning to MY kids. Now sons 2 and 3 think their Uncle, Aunt and cousins are horrible and unkind; that they neglect their responsibilities and treat exH badly. Nothing could be further from the truth and I just feel really sick that he is infesting the kids with his nasty, vindictive, melodramatic opinions.

This time it’s not about ME directly, but he is angry that some mutual friends didn’t tell him they were coming to my place for supper on Saturday. Why on Earth he thinks he has a right to know, escapes me … but he has decided that he will be “severing all ties” with both friends and his brother. He expects it to be “extremely hostile”, which will “suit him fine”.

It’s hard to explain how completely fucked up he is. I think he has a black heart. He enjoys upsetting other people and twisting things to cause damage. He’s taken so much cocaine and weed over the years I honestly think he’s not in his right mind half the time. And my kids are e posed to this, over and over again. I wish now I had stopped co tact years ago, moved far away and kept the, safe from him. He brings NOTHING positive to anyone, least of all to his children.

I’m at a complete loss to know how to counteract the poison he drops in to the kids lives. How can I say, to them, he’s just evil, manipulative and cruel? That his brother and family distance themselves from him because he is SO toxic ….that his longstanding friendship group have slowly got tired of his bitterness, self obsession and relentless self obsession.

I can’t. I can only hope that one Day they see it for themselves. Who on earth TRIES to get their children to hate people? Who drags kids int petty adult squabbles? Who tries to corrupt a child’s innocence?

I feel so sad. And despairing … this will ever end, until he dies ….

What is important to me?

I think I have accepted that I don’t want to be alone for ever. I think I have accepted that I can’t make a relationship in which I can thrive with my exP. (As an aside I was asked this morning by someone, who didn’t know we had separated, If I was hurt by that –  I found my eyes filling with tears as I said that I was) I’m a long way from being ready to meet anyone at the moment, hence not actively seeking or trying to do so, but I have been wondering what I would want, what are my non -negotiable’s in any future relationship?

I’m hoping if I have put some thought into what is important to me, I might be able to hang on to my sense long enough  NOT to ‘fall in love’ again until I KNOW that person ticks most of the boxes …

My purpose in this ‘scoping’ exercise is to try and avoid what happened last time. I fell, tumbled, head over heels in love, lost my wits and sense and was carried along by limerance, lust and excitement. With the help of my therapist, I’ve been trying to look at what particular needs that I had were being / seemed to be so completely met by that person, that led me to suspend my normal good sense and be so completely taken over by the relationship.

One of these is a need to be ‘looked after’; or not so much a need, as a ‘want’. Actually I don’t NEED looking after. I have a good job and I’m a perfectly competent person. I’m lucky in that I can employ people to do what I cant e.g fix my shower. But there is a small childlike part of me that just wants to be cared for and looked after. Angela and I have speculated whether this might be related to my distant relationship with my father and lack of his approval? Maybe its partly a female thing? Maybe is partly just looking for someone to share the load of my busy, hectic life. Either way, I picked a man who has a strong controlling and authoritarian streak, and very strict sense of right and wrong… initially that was very attractive, but ultimately it became too rigid, lacking nuance and sensitivity.

I’m beginning to think it was not just that HE changed, but that I did too. That when I met him I was astonishingly vulnerable, just out of my marriage with three young children. The things I found attractive then, were not what I needed 5 years later when I had found my feet again and regained some self confidence. That’s a gross simplification of the situation, but it has some truth…

So what looks attractive now ?

Strength looks different to me now. Strength is not about what you say, its about what you DO. Strength now looks like someone who is able to examine themselves, their own motivations and actions, who can reflect on experiences and learn from the. Strength now looks like someone with their own life and baggage who has managed that and moved forwards having learned something from life’s lessons.

Kindness. Kindness is a much underrated virtue. And it shows in myriad ways. Kindness is doing things for others without keeping a tally of your efforts, Kindness and generosity with time & love. Occasionally putting others first. Being able and willing to prioritise your partners’ needs, the needs of ‘the relationship’ and the ‘family’ … and balance them with your own.. being able to talk about it when those needs are conflicting…

Honesty, and that’s not just ‘not being a liar’ Its been honest about who you are and what you expect, Its about being honest about how you feel, Its listening and considering others points of view. It IS paying your way and not expecting to be supported. Trustworthiness come in here, and its not just about fidelity, its about everything. Someone who tries to do what they say they will, someone who can be trusted to make the ‘right call’ , someone on whose judgement I could rely. Its about living true to your values …

Someone who is solvent. I don’t need or expect someone to support me financially, but experience has taught me that I get resentful if I am expected to fully support another adult. Fiscal responsibility is important, some planning for retirement, living within their means, prepared to work for financial reward.

In not sure how important shared interests are? Somewhat I think, but not essential. More important is curiosity and interest in the world around us, a willingness to learn and to be engaged with what others think, the capacity and enthusiasm to question things and to embark on new experiences. That could be new food, or travel or political thought. It could be finding out about climate change or involving themselves with voluntary or charitable work in an area of interest.. anything really that sits ok with me morally.

Someone with no addictions ! I don’t mind if someone drinks, but I would prefer (no, its essential) that this is not the focus of their life. I think I will be able to spot an unhealthy fixation with alcohol at a mile – and I will not continue to date anyone if  I am unsure about their relationship with alcohol. Somethings really are best avoided! Equally, my NOT drinking needs not to be  a huge issue, I’m happy to talk about it, explain it even, but not to be encouraged to drink or to be criticised for the decision to be dry.

It has been pointed out to me that I am a ‘do-er’; if I think something needs to be done, I do it. I MAKE things happen. Probably a good example was son1; his lack of academic achievement and life ‘plan’ meant that he was bumming around, not doing much and I felt this was unacceptable and unhelpful for him. So, I did something about it and packed him off to Nepal for 6 months.

experience has taught me that I get frustrated by people who have a “no can do” attitude … so I’ll add that to my list of “needs” …

Now I just need to work out if such a person exists !


Most of you will know that I have been in personal therapy for the last 16 months. When I made the decision to end my relationship I knew I would need help. To stay true to my innermost feelings and not crumple and take him back, as I had done so often before.

I didn’t consciously know that there was lots of other “stuff” that I needed to work through, although I sort of did – after all you don’t usually end up with a wreckage of a personal life if you are a fully psychologically healthy person.

I have done ‘therapy’ before; most notably with my ex husband when it was clear our marriage was in huge trouble. I am now thinking that part of the reason it didn’t really ‘click’ before was because a) I was still drinking and b) I was not able to be fully honest.

Obviously if one keeps back “unacceptable” thoughts and feelings, one shouldn’t really be surprised if no significant progress is made. Its only now that I realise that this is exactly what i did. The keeping back thoughts that I had internally, perhaps in a bid to be seen as ‘normal’ or ‘nice’ simply led to the therapist not being able to do her /his job properly and help me to reflect on what I was feeling. On reflection I think it would have been hard for me to share , partly because I was drinking every day to numb the difficult feelings, partly because I knew that airing them (and subsequently reflecting on them) would have meant that I would have been unable to continue as I was, and it was too hard to contemplate change. I was only this time, once I had ALREADY made the changes that i knew I had to, that I have been able to open up the deeper thoughts, insecurities and anxieties.

Ive been thinking about WHY I found it so hard to contemplate leaving my marriage and then my relationship with exP. It was perfectly obvious that both relationships were dead, neither man was prepared to do anything to compromise and both treated me very badly indeed. In both cases I left it far too long, in the hope that things would change, in both cases I accepted things that I should not have, because they were extremely detrimental to my self esteem, unhealthy for my children and made me utterly wretched.

With my marriage, its perhaps easier to understand why I tried so hard. We had children together, our finances were linked, our relationship legally formalised. I made vows in church, which I took very seriously and believed in –  I think I upheld my side of the bargain. At times I really struggled with the fact that I had made those vows, but chose to end the marriage – I was hugely helped by friends who reminded me that HE did not uphold his end of the bargain (love, honour and cherish ?) and that a marriage made under false pretenses falls under Catholic doctrine as capable of annulment. Addiction in one partner is a grounds for annulment and although I am not Catholic, I find this comforting – that even the very strict Catholic Church doesn’t hold you to your vows in these circumstances. No such thing exists in the Church of England, and anyway I’m not sure about the status of the children if I went this route, but morally it makes me feel better. I also know I tried as hard as I could, but in the end there was no respect and no trust left, and without trust and respect there is no marriage.

So, what of this therapy?I have realised in the last few weeks, that this is the place why I at LAST feel able to be completely honest. Its taken time. I liked Angela enormously immediately and her warmth and compassion made me feel accepted, but I have realised that it extends further than that; Instinctively I knew i wanted a woman therapist, my own age or older, who had experience and could ‘hold’ my emotions. I do this myself for so many of my patents, offer a non judgemental space, but I hadn’t consciously realised I was looking for this myself.

It feels like I can ‘test’ just being me in the therapist’s room. Not censoring what I say, not keeping stuff back and presenting only the acceptable face – but what I REALLY feel. Because Angela doesn’t critisise, or tell me I ‘shouldn’t’ feel or do as I have felt /done, indeed she indicates that my feelings and actions are OK, I find it hugely validating. All my adult life I have felt that I am ‘wanting’, not good enough, have messed up, could do better, make stupid decisions… and now someone older, wiser and a person I respect is telling me that actually I’m OK. And, most importantly, shes telling me I am OK despite all the things I have done….

My sober sister has this function for me in relation to my drinking. Because she is just like me, a woman with kids who has a responsible high powered career, and drank like me – too much, but not so that she lost her job / family. We have laughed and metaphorically cried together about stupid scary things we did when drunk – and I know I don’t have to hide anything from her because she gets it.

It reminds me of my youngest son, aged about 6, saying to me “Mummy, you know everyone thinks I’m nice and helpful at school? I’m not really, inside I have lots of nasty thoughts’ – My job that day was to explain to my little boy that its ok to feel how you feel …

And now I think I have that space for me. It took well over a year before I could say I completely trusted Angela, not that i was not honest, but just that there was probably some reserve in my heart about saying things – I think I was expecting to be judged, pointed in the right direction, chastised, reminded that x or y was a BAD idea… essentially ‘rejected’ this expecting the same reaction I get from my mother ? or from my ‘critical monkey on my shoulder’ my own inner (harsh) critic …

A lot to think about. Not least that writing this has made me cry …



Feeling unspeakably awful this morning after a bitter argument with son2 (15) . He hates me. He blames me for his ‘shit life’ and the anger and criticism of my choices – in particular my relationship with ExP – was furiously, eloquently and viciously expressed.

I know he’s 15. I know much of what he says / thinks comes from his father who has enjoyed filling his head with adult thoughts. I know he’s anxious about public exams at the end of this year. I know this..

But, but … it’s pretty crap. And pretty depressing. And not, it seems, solvable