This is really fucking hard

That’s it really. Its all in the title

Its hard. I know, no-one ever said life would be easy, and in the grand scheme of world issues, I am just SUCH a first world problem. (That makes me feel guilty too)

I think the main problem is, now that I am actually having to DO it, I realise how very hard it is to be a single mother to three teenage boys.

Don’t get me wrong, I love them all fiercely, protectively  – and one thing I DO know, is that they know this. Deep down for certain they know that I LOVE them.

But its hard.

In the last week son 2 chucked at me that “You’ve spent the last 10 years engrossed in the computer and not looking at whats going on under your nose’; son 3 shouted at me that “You can’t remember ANYTHING” and son 1, yesterday, blisteringly accurately told me that “ You just side with who ever is there at the time”.

ouch, OUCH, OUCH

I’m trying to tell myself that this is a process, that we ALL of us are learning how to express ourselves in an environment where no-one is bullying us, or frightening us into keeping quiet. That this expression of frustration and anger is quite normal and that my floundering around in the anxiety of parental alienation is so common as to be almost Universal.

But it hurts.

It hurts because all those comments above are, to some extent true. I HAVE buried myself in an alternate reality at times, because ‘being present’ and FEELING the feelings has been so hard; I AM forgetful and uncharacteristically disorganised ; and that character defect of ‘people pleasing’ does creep into my interactions with the kids.


One other thing that I know for sure is that I don’t hide behind defensiveness, I’m quite prepared (perhaps too prepared) to admit to my shortcomings, and to apologise for them when necessary. I am learning to be vulnerable, and maybe I’m too vulnerable and open to my children’s’ criticism.

In 11 days we fly to Africa. we will have 9 days with no mobile signal, no internet access and no-one else for company.

Could be interesting.

Loss of control

During the work I have been doing with my sponsor S, a few themes have come up.

One of these, that arose this morning, was a fear of “loss of control”, or perhaps more accurately a fear of doing things that I know deep down are a bad idea, a fear of finding myself self doing things against my instincts.

This is evident in the occasional drinking dreams I still have. In these dreams I have had a drink, usually not more than one, and I am aghast, desperate, uncomprehending as to how I could have taken a drink. Its as though I have drunk alcohol against my own will. I think this is reflecting a deep fear inside me that I’m not strong enough to actually DO what I know is right, and that at any moment for reasons unknown I’m going to do something that I regret, because I’m not strong enough to resist. Or more specifically Im going to do something that I KNOW is wrong for me, to please someone else.

There is a big element of this in my relationships with other people, especially men. Its the “people pleasing” part that I have come to recognise is such a strong part of my character. I think part of the reason I’m so cautious around men is that I am afraid I will end up in some kind of relationship, whether I want to or not. That somehow I will get swept away by emotion and what someone else wants, that the people pleaser in me will end up in a situation I’m not sure about …. or worse, a situation I actively DON’T want, but have been too spineless unsure to avoid.

Basically I’m a chronic “people pleaser”.

Now that I have come to recognise this, I can see this character defect trait, in many of my interactions. At work I have to tell one of my employed doctors that it has been commented on that she consistently leaves early from an on-call session, and that others are getting fed up with picking up the work she leaves behind. I have been avoiding this task for 3 weeks now. And it is because telling someone else that they have done something wrong is really really hard for me. …

I see it at home with the kids, Im far to much of a people pleaser and let them get away with things I should not… the result is that I appear to be a pushover, inconsistent and slightly unreliable. Sigh

I’m like this with my mother, outwardly compliant but inwardly seething; revealing nothing because I don’t want criticism (read I cant cope with criticism) but unable to be honest and tell her that her visits are too frequent, too long and too stressful.

WHY I am such a people pleaser I don’t yet know. How on earth I am to fix this deep seated character trait I have no idea. But once again, now that I have seen it I cannot ‘unsee’ it, and so I will have to try to unpick it, and devise a way to change it….

Today I am 851 days sober, and I have been separated from my ExP for 691 days (I track both because both were necessary for my recovery) That Lily seems a thousand miles away from the Lily I am today… all the changes have been in little steps… so I guess this is just one more step along the way.


Art journaling

As I recover, I’m rediscovering my creativity. Stifled inside me for many many years, I denied I even HAD a creative part to my soul.

All that’s changed.

If you have read my blog, you will know I’m an amateur oil painter, something I greatly enjoy and find hugely relaxing. I can genuinely say that my aim in painting is not to produce perfect pictures, but to enjoy the process, hopefully improve and benefit from the relaxation along the way.

The idea of Art journaling has been raised a couple of times, and this morning I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately the course I really want to do, with Brené Brown on the Oprah channel isn’t available in the U.K., but Pinterest has given me some ideas.

You can see the start of my “permission slips” project above. Now I need some glitter and glue and crafty stuff to finish it off. 🙂

I just loved doing this , and have been really absorbed for a couple of hours. I’ve had music on and been dancing between painting 🙂 what a wholehearted and joyful way to spend Saturday morning! What is best of all is knowing that all the kids have been to look and ask me about it – and I’ve been able to talk through the importance of self acceptance, courage, vulnerability and self love.

“You can’t give your children what you do t have yourself” so this is for them as well as me … I’ll post a picture of the finished product later 🌷

And here it is …


Ok, I know now what it was yesterday.

It’s a surfeit of uncertainty.

a state of limited knowledge where it is impossible to exactly describe the existing state, a future outcome, or more than one possible outcome

And that uncertainty comes from all the things on yesterday’s list. Except mess, which I cannot tolerate when the rest of my mind is disordered. I CAN (have to) tolerate it better when there is less disarray and confusion in the rest of my life.


  1. Son 1 – no job. Applied for college, no certainty of place and currently lacks a back up plan. Not eligible for employment support because he has not been back in the UK for 3 months after his travels. Not really looking for work seriously at the moment because we are going away in 3 weeks and he perhaps correctly thinks no one will take him on for such a short space of time. But he is open, transparent not smoking drugs, very communicative and very supportive (as much as a 19 year old can be) too much uncertainty for me about what happens when we get back from holiday … and the potential fall out / consequences.
  2. Son2 – finished school 3 weeks ago. No job. Doing nothing meaningful. Lazy. Again anxiety about consequences and uncertainty about his future.
  3. Practice managers resignation & developing conflict with partners re replacement … I thinkthis was yesterday’s proverbial straw. We had a meeting last night. In the end it was ok, as these things often are, but the fear of not being heard and not getting an outcome I was happy with was probably the difference between calm in the morning and gremlins in the afternoon.

The rest; mess, bills, discordant noise, recovery, mess are just unmanageable when I’m in fear. And that’s what’s underneath it all.


an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger

Fear that sons 1 & 2 will be living unemployed, parasitic and underdeveloped with me for EVER …

Fear that my partners will insist on employing a controlling, dictatorial manager who could destroy the flexible positive working environment I value so much and have spent so long cultivating.

And in to that I add my character defects (see how well I’m doing) controlling, perfectionistic,

And there we have the perfect breeding ground for the gremlins of anger, frustration and despair.

So, I have had a mindful hour this morning, prayed and I’m ready for the day …

thanks for the support 🌷 I’ll get there (eventually)

The Gremlins

I do not know what happens.

This morning I was ok. Not great because the current UK heatwave coupled with recent emotional disruption is played by havoc with my sleep, but ok.

It’s now 17.40 and I think I am going to explode with rage and frustration. Or is it fear ? Or something else …

but where does that sudden unmanageable emotional torrent come from?

And what the hell is it all about ?

Maybe someone can identify with overwhelming anger arriving out of the blue so that I feel like I hate EVERYONE in my path, my thoughts are completely uncontained and I feel like a fish wriggling on the end of a line.

I literally do not know what to do with myself except that I have to meet my partners in now 15 minutes …..

stressors in order of importance

  1. Son 1
  2. Son2
  3. Mess
  4. Too much to do
  5. No sleep
  6. Huge unexpected bills
  7. Practice managers resignation
  8. Developing conflict with partners re replacement
  9. Mess
  10. My recovery path
  11. Son3s discordant noise in his piano lesson
  12. Mess
  13. No time to do what I want
  14. Mess


I am also …

I’m doing my Step 4 stuff right now. It’s hard going, or it is when you do it thoroughly, and I’m struggling to pull out my anger, resentments and Shame …

In the middle of doing this I felt the overwhelming urge to write down all the reasons for self hatred I can allot to myself. It’s a grim list. But it’s also not very mindful and probably not a very accurate snapshot of who I am right now.

Then I wrote on another page … I am also

And this is that list…

  • Brave
  • Loyal
  • Kind
  • Compassionate
  • Generous
  • Truthful
  • I have integrity
  • Clever
  • Resourceful
  • Passionate
  • Loving
  • Hardworking
  • Flexible
  • Unselfish
  • resilient
  • creative

I’ll take that list. I actually believe that. I wrote it and I believe it.

I think that’s progress ?

A busy head

I have a lot in my head right now, but I feel more positive and in control than I did.

There are three major themes

  1. Career
  2. Personal Shame.
  3. Grief

They are interlinked, and much of the last couple of days has been working out how. Anne commented below my last post that ‘knowledge is key’ , and I think that’s right, I need to know what my own values, boundaries, personal strengths and weaknesses are in order to keep moving forward. As Brene would say ‘it’s a process’ and I’m leaning heavily on her wonderful book “The gifts of Imperfection” to help me navigate through.

So, I have been courageous and explained some of my career concerns to my two partners. I also touched on some of the difficulties I had with my exP; namely that he was abusive and bullying. I did not mention my alcoholism, as I don’t think it’s that relevant, and I’m not ready to be that exposed. But I did feel I needed to let them know why I was considering my future in this practice, and why J’s death was so very hard for me  mainly because I have been absent or non productive for almost a month now:  (its linked to ExP, because J showed me, talked to me and helped me process what a normal husband and father is like) This decision to be honest has been very positive and I feel better understood and supported, less isolated and more in control.

This is good.

My dear friend A also wrote to me and said , I know she will not mind me quoting her

My thoughts, for what they’re worth;

Divorce is expensive. So are children. I’ve had neither. H & A have had one not the other & both have husbands who contribute. Your finances are a product of your situation. They do not define you.

This is important as it links to my personal Shame, that whilst my friends are cleaning their mortgages and investing for their futures / retirement, I am still juggling month to month. By reaching out and confiding, I have again received some validation that I am not BAD, and SHAMEFUL; but perhaps stressed, unhappy and to some extent a product of my circumstances.

I DO have time to make decisions, and I should definitely not rush them, nor probably even make definitive plans at the moment. But information gathering does seem like a good idea. Anxiety about the future, both short and longer term is part of my problem at the moment, and whilst some things I am learning to ‘hand over’ I do not expect God to sort out my pension planning!

To do list. Contact that NHS specialist IFA.

Shame. This is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Its EVERYWHERE in my thinking about myself. Constant, endless bloody shame. Not good enough. Not thin enough, not productive enough, not strong enough, not a good enough mother/ doctor/ daughter / friend / business partner … spendthrift, lazy, sloppy, weak. On and on and On

And then I want to add ‘SLUT’. STRUMPET. Evil, provocative, alluring …

Because I kissed a man.

This man is single and an adult of my own age. He is someone I know extremely well and like enormously. I know him to be kind, generous, gentle, loyal and honest. The kiss was a mutual thing, I hardly jumped his bones. And that’s all it was. There is no fall out. We have seen each other since and there is no awkwardness.

By my goodness it has stirred up a whole hornets nest of shame, guilt and anxiety in me. Why ? Logically and rationally there is absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed or guilty about. I need to explore this with my therapist, sadly she is away this week, but the level of anxiety and shame generated by this consensual, mild, perfectly normal interaction is most definitely related to something learned … and the SHAME part of it is doing my head in.

This is linked to grief too, because J was one of the very few men who was just unequivocally always, always ‘safe’. I was his friend and he was mine, and that was IT. Not all male friends are like that even if they are married, with some you have to be guarded and careful.  Not J, and once again I feel I have lost something, someone, infinitely precious and unique.

I will pick apart this shame about being a woman who is attractive to men, some more; when I know more … Bonkers I know, but it needs to be done

The weekend

This weekend I went away with my 3 BFF from medical school. We have known one another 30 years and despite distance and change, we remain close and tight.

We booked a cottage, many months ago, roughly equidistant from our various residences – this is important when the driving time between the furthest two is about 6 hours. We chose a place close to a nature reserve with a huge reservoir so we could walk, and we opted for a bedroom each – a necessary luxury as we get older !

After the emotional pressure and stress of the last weeks I woke on Friday morning rather reluctant to a) make the trip b) leave my nest c) leave K  and d) take the risk of leaving my boys ‘home alone’ for a whole weekend. On reflection that last was by far the biggest. When stressed and vulnerable, more ‘risk’ feels desperately hard.

But mindful of my enthusiasm previously, my genuine wish to see my friends, the knowledge that I would be very “safe” with them, and my need for some relaxation I left on Friday, later than planned but in time to arrive in the light.

On Friday evening I felt rather discombobulated, pleased to see my friends, but not really connected and belonging. I know this feeling now, and its because I am not sharing. So I talked all about what has been happening in my life, listened, and with the loving thoughtful compassionate responses of my friends came that sense of belonging as I have known it would.

We had a very slow paced weekend. Saturday I spent most of the day painting in the garden, whist the others read & sunbathed and we all chatted. We walked a bit, went out for supper and mooched companionably about – just being together.

This morning I sent them this email.

Just that short breathing space has done a LOT for my thinking processes.

I have reached 4 very important conclusions (I’m not going to DO anything right now BUT …)

1. All my life I have been chasing the lucrative practice. I have it. I have an “enormous” (for  GP)  income. But has it made me happy? NO. And further more, despite that (and I know that you all have some family monies that I have not had the benefit of) I am in a worse financial position than any of you

2. I am afraid of being poor. I grew up with frugality and the ‘not quite enough’ I saw the stress that not being able to pay for e.g. a car service had on my mother and this fueled my (and my brothers, I think) search for financial stability 

3. I HATE the ethos where I work now. I hate the relentless driving for more cash at the expense of all else. Its not the work I hate its the ethos. It goes against WHO I AM. I am empathic, generous, giving and I work in health care because its a good fit with my personality. But I have become  part of an organisation that ultimately puts the wants of the partners (3) over the needs of the employees (90) and the patients (26,000) 

4. I blame myself endlessly for being alcoholic, STILL having an issue with my eating (although not this weekend, interesting that, isn’t it) BUT, it’s because I am unhappy. Sure, I am much less unhappy than I was before, but most of my adult life I have been stifling and battering who I really am, in order to fit with an ideal that has been shown to me by my mother, the media, society, my expectations etc etc, No wonder I have been unhappy and resorted to alcohol, food and shopping to numb my feelings enough to get me through each day. 

I have no idea what I am going to do with this information but it is the truest thing I have ever written

And like I said, once its out. I find it hard to put it back in again.