This is one of those things on my mind the last few days,

Those of you who have attended AA or any 12 step programme will know that one of the steps involves making a list / remembering all the things you did that damaged others when actively addicted.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Then you need to discuss these ‘with another human being’ (so Lola the dog doesn’t count) and make a list of those you have wronged

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

and ‘make amends’ (step 9) as long as doing so doesn’t cause more hurt / damage.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

So far so good. I’m not particularly proud, and I already feel that in general, sober alcoholics are amongst the least judgmental people I have ever met. Admitting all the stupid, embarrassing shameful things I have done will not be that hard, they are all stored up in my brain pretty near the surface, and I know there are worse things I could have done.

One of my first experiences with this was when my ex-husband called me a few weeks after our marriage imploded. He was attending either NA or AA and had a sponsor. He was obviously ‘working the programme’ but he demanded to see me (that day) so that he could make amends to me. The dictionary definition of amends is “compensate or make up for a wrongdoing.” This clumsy demand made me furiously angry, (and pretty contemptuous of him, his sponsor and the whole 12 steps caboodle) FFS he though he could ‘make amends’ for terrorizing me and the children, abusing me and the children, trashing our marriage vows, destroying the kids family and permanently altering my life, by demanding to see me and saying ‘sorry’. I don’t think so.

I do now see that the problem was not the 12 step programme, nor (probably) his sponsor, but him – and that ‘making amends’ is not supposed to be a quick trip round your nearest and dearest with a superficial ‘sorry’ and brushing all your dreadful behaviour under the carpet. Rather, proper commitment to the steps involves a thoughtful, considered reflection on your addiction related behaviour and a genuine heartfelt apology where possible but most importantly a commitment NOT to repeat the mistakes. As above “change the behaviour” is an essential part of the process.

So, I have not yet chosen a sponsor, I’m a little reluctant to do so if I’m honest, and one of the reasons is the “amends” part.

I KNOW I damaged people, let them down, embarrassed them and myself, and upset them as a result of my drinking. I know that the underlying character traits of stubbornness, willful pursuit of MY wishes, lack of consideration for others needs and selfishness were exacerbated by the numbing effect of alcohol and that I knee jerk responded to situations in an unhelpful and sometimes hurtful way.  I have no problem in apologizing to my mother, my brother and my children for past mistakes. I think, as I have mentioned before, that knowing that sustained sobriety has increased my patience, reduced my tendency to over dramatization, and made me more sensitive, thoughtful and less self centered, makes it easier to be confident that I won’t repeat the behaviour.

No, my problem with the whole ‘amends’ things, centers around my ex-husband, and to a lesser extent my ex Partner.

To be brutally honest, I never should have married my ex-Husband. And by doing so (and yes I know he was an adult with free will, I hardly coerced him to the alter) I damaged HIM. I didn’t /couldn’t see that he was not like me. I couldn’t see that he was not driven, didn’t really care about traditional measures of success, and that due to his chronic low self esteem a highly competent, successful, professional female partner was never going to make him feel good about himself. Ignoring his part in the disaster, I met him when he was vulnerable, I saw in him a man who wanted a family (more children because I already had son 1), who came from a stable family background and who could redeem my past mistakes (unmarried mother) and give me what I wanted. (see how selfish I was) I loved him certainly, but not as I should have done (as I know I am capable of), not enough to put his needs above my own wishes. I knew that at the time, but in my arrogance I believed I could ‘fix’ it. I believed it would be ‘good enough’, essentially I settled for him, and by doing so I short changed him as well as myself. By being married to me, I emasculated him and left him feeling even more useless than he already felt. I didn’t intend to, I wasn’t consciously trying to, but through sheer capability and innate drive I demonstrated to him every day that he was not as good or capable or competent as me.

I do not believe this excuses in any way his horrible, abusive, vindictive and aggressive behaviour, it doesn’t let him off the hook for his drug taking, it doesn’t provide justification for the sheer horror of his actions when high / paranoid. All those actions belong to him and were caused largely by his inability to see that he lost all sense of decency and acceptable behaviour when using and was unable / unwilling to put in the effort required to get and stay clean. When weighing up my errors and contribution to the failure of our marriage I still believe they are massively outweighed by his. I kept my side of the bargain, I genuinely tried hard to ‘make’ it work. But I recognize that I was not blameless, and in my recognition I feel some compassion for him. This is a much more comfortable place to be than the anger and resentment that has characterised the 8 yeas since our separation.  In finding compassion I try to ‘live’ amends to him, by treating him with respect, accommodating his wishes with respect to our children and keeping him informed of any significant updates. For example I forwarded him some pictures of son1 this morning that had arrived from my friends in Vietnam.

So whats the problem? I would have no problem talking this over with my therapist. I trust her to listen and respond without judgement, to be able to place my thoughts about him into the pattern of my life and allow me to accept my part in the whole thing without making me take more blame than I am due. I’m not so sure about a potential sponsor. In the end a sponsor is just another alcoholic, sober longer than me, without training or expertise in the complex issues that surround self worth, shame, marital breakdown and relationships. To ‘make a fearless moral inventory” and admit this to another person, fine – but is it arrogant / missing the point to be a bit picky WHO I choose to admit these things to? Or is it actually sound judgement, deciding only to talk to someone who has earned the right to hear them?

I wonder if a sponsor is essential ? If I have a therapist, is it really necessary to go through all this stuff with another person? Or is that arrogance and self will talking?

Not sure, but I do l know I will take my time, and not decide to ask someone to sponsor me until I feel ready, and I know more about that person.


Calculated destruction

Do people actually DO this ?

Are there people out there in the world who work out how to get what they want by manipulating people and situations? And then actually DO it?

Do some people actually deliberately (rather than by accident, or inadvertently) set out to discredit someone they dislike?

I’m really struggling with this in relation to my ex partner. I know I cant get answers from him (and actually I’m no longer tempted even to ask)

Thinking about things in our relationship that I couldn’t find acceptable , they seem to fall into three categories…

  • casual disrespect (or not so casual) e.g. staying out all night and not texting me to let me know; walking off from me on Waterloo station and getting on a train without me, small things that just showed he didn’t have any respect for me at all and didn’t care about how I felt.
  • Intransigent position against all logic – e.g. refusing to get any kind of income thereby forcing me into debt. I used to spend ages wondering how I could MAKE him understand why this was not ok, but this was quite the wrong tack – he understood very well indeed, he just wasn’t prepared to do anything about it. he didn’t care about me enough, about what might happen to me, or the consequences to me, to do one single thing that was not what he wanted to do
  • and then this. Maybe. Deliberately causing rifts (or trying to) between me and my sons by MAKING THINGS UP? between me and friends , between me and my birth family… lying, falsifying things that were said or done to lead me to believe that son1 had done things he had not.

Do people actually behave like that ? Causing untold damage to others. By deliberately lying to me (if he did) he caused huge problems between me and my son, between son 1 and his brothers and enormous anguish to me.

I know he lied to me about some things, I know there are several occasions in which he manipulated facts and swore that black was white even though I knew it had not happened as he said. I know he stole from me (and I’m not talking about the thousands I gave him voluntarily) I’m talking about taking my bank card and spending my money on something I has specifically said I was not prepared to buy. I know he stole from others (a life preserver mysteriously found its way into his bag on return from holiday – no accident) I know he ‘borrowed’ money from lots of people he had no intention of repaying (and no means to do so) I know his girlfriend prior to me chased him very hard for £14,000 she ‘lent’ him… never got repaid.

BUT, to deliberately make up stories about something son1 had done. To lie, actively maliciously lie with the aim only to damage him and break our parent child bond.  Really? Do people DO that? Honestly is that person I loved and lived with for more than 5 years really not only capable of such evil, but actually did this?

I feel physically sick and ill when I think about this, when the possibility comes into my head. I thought about this at the time, because my gut instinct was that son 1 had NOT done these things, but I allowed my ‘rational’ adult head to believe that no-one, surely, would make such a thing up. Now I really, really wonder. What does that say about him? what kind of a person does that ? And if there ARE people out there like this, who think nothing of deliberately lying, fabricating and deceiving … if HE is one of them…

Its that picture again, that I talked of before, coming into clearer focus. the fog is lifting and what parts I can see , they look distorted. My reality , my memories of the past are shifting, and it no longer feels like something happy and nice, but a sick, twisted, frankly evil relationship with a man devoid of compassion, decency or integrity. A man who spotted my vulnerability and intrinsic honesty and exploited me in every way he could.

no wonder i feel ill.

I don’t KNOW this of course. I have no proof. and I wont get proof. Probably I don’t NEED proof, I have all I need … and I have to find a way to live with it


Pause ..

The last few days have been quite difficult.

Examining my motivations for contacting me ex partner, and the subsequent reflections on how deliberate our Interactions with others actually are, has opened something of a Pandora’s box for me.

All of a sudden a load of ‘incidents’ that I have not really thought about for a while are crowding in to my consciousness, and with the new knowledge that my therapy has opened up for me, they are assuming quite sinister implications.

I’m not describing this as a ‘set back’ because that’s not really what it is. I know that to fully heal, to protect myself against making any further destructive relationship I need to recognise what happened, need to appreciate the significance of incidents and behaviour. I need to learn to trust and value my own judgements, and to do that I need to see and understand where I have not done so in the past.

I’ve had a relatively quiet few weeks on the emotional turmoil front, the enormous boost that seeing son1 in Nepal gave me, has carried me forwards and filled me with optimism for the future. Planning for our family holiday to Africa a natural mood booster.

However, there is no denying that the past few days have been emotionally difficult and I came close to a panic attack yesterday – the first time in several months.

I do believe it’s better for me to pull these things out into the open, expose them to the light of day, and muse a little about their meaning. My ultimate aim is to rebury them, divested of their emotional significance, somewhere deep in my subconscious. Accessible if I need to refer to them, but otherwise not reaching the surface of My conscious thoughts…

so, having said that …

a couple of things that happened, that deeply upset / disturbed me… that I now believe were either accidental nor unconscious, but instead intended to undermine me, to make me less confident, designed to confuse and wrong foot me. There art truths which I was persuaded to believe were lies, completely reasonable actions from me that I was taught were deeply unacceptable and disrespectful to him ….

Quite early on, one Friday, we were planning to go out in the evening. In the afternoon I had invited a friend, the woman who used to be a nanny for my children, over for tea. For a at catch up and for her to see the children. She cane over for a couple of hours, we had some tea and cake, and then a glass of wine. He was at home, and went upstairs quite early on in the afternoon. I didn’t think much of it. Later in the afternoon, say 5 pm we had a glass of wine, and my friend left about 6. Writing this is giving me palpitations and making me feel anxious. When she had left, I went upstairs to see exP and to get ready to go out. We had a babysitter booked at 7.30pm. He went mad, a huge tirade about how disrespectful I had been how I shouldn’t have people. In ten house, how I disgusted him, how he want repeated to spend any time with me because I was spending time with others (or something) he refused to go out that evening and didn’t speak to me for 3 days. I was utterly bemused. And I never invited her over again, and rarely anyone else .. I felt like I had missed something awful that I had done, the strength of his reaction, I must have deserved it ?

wrong. Him not me. Wrong WRONG WRONG . My having a guest in the afternoon had NO impact on our evening plans, it’s not unreasonable to have a friend over for tea, and his reaction was just one of the things he did to try and isolate me from my friends, it was MY house FFS … but vulnerable, un self confident and in love, his outburst scared me, made me resolve never to do such a thing again, and redouble my efforts not to upset him. Classic abusive behaviour.

Early on in our relationship he visited my, stayed overnight and left his bicycle in the house. The next day he said something was broken and that one of the children , son1, had fiddled with it and broken it. He got very angry when I tried to probe further about what was broken, so I was never clear. All the children denied fiddling with it, and actually, I believed them. This because an enormous issue, I offered (and did) pay for the ‘repair’ but from the on he became obsessive about protecting his ‘things’, refusing to allow the children in to the living room because his books were in there, refusing to allow son 1 to travel in his car, hiding things form everyone so that no one could use or have something he thought of as ‘his’ even if it was not. And yet, he took my car out one day, made a huge scrape down the entire side of the car, both doors and the bonnet panel, and didn’t even tell he he had done so,

I don’t believe (now) anyone touched his bike. I think it was a deliberate lie, to divide me from my kids, to get his bike repaired paid for by me, and to test how far I would back him. He talked a LOT about having respect for possessions and people, but it was ALL one way. Everyone else had to respect him. But he treated others and their possessions with casual contempt.

Writing this makes me feel shaky, tearful and frightened, I feel sick and have palpitations. The physical reaction to the memory is very strong, considering it’s several years ago. I think I’ve only been able to look at this stuff recently, as it’s only recently I’ve been strong enough.

What I’m seeing clearly, without obfuscation, is a systematic narcissistic abusive person, deliberately gaslighting , deliberately sewing doubts and discord in my family. No wonder I feel ill.

I still struggle to believe this. I find it so hard to believe anyone would actually DO this, I contacted his ex wife earlier this week (by email) to ask for help, I feel like this just CANT be true,and yet…. she is probably the only other person who would be able to confirm or refute my thoughts … she hasn’t replied (which is disappointing, but perhaps nor unexpected) ….

Sigh …


I find examining the motivation behind why I feel or act as I do very interesting. Its also pretty useful in helping me understand some of the feelings that I have, when I can’t regard them as logical.

Since I have been sober, I’ve done a LOT less things on impulse; still some things (like the very beautiful sculpture I bought on instinct on last year’s holiday) but much less. I generally pause, get less carried away by emotions and employ a cooler more rational and analytical thought process. In general I think this is a good thing, but occasionally I still do things impulsively – I guess the habits of a lifetime are hard to modify.

Since Christmas I have sent two emails to my ex Partner.

The first, sent on an impulse, was the photograph of me paragliding, far above the Himalayas. The second, which I sent last Friday was a considered gesture – I heard via my mother who does voluntary work at the local hospital that his mother has a possible serious diagnosis. Being an only child, whose father is dead and estranged from his son and somewhat from his daughter, he and his mother are close. I know that any such diagnosis would be devastating and frightening for him. I considered whether I should acknowledge this, and in the end sent a short mail expressing sympathy.

He has replied to neither.

This bugs me a bit (as no doubt it was intended to) and yesterday I discussed this with Angela my therapist. She, from an outsiders view point, asked me why I had sent these emails, and pointed out that they send very conflicting messages, that although the first contained no words, and the second only the briefest of sentences, there was a wealth of hidden meaning in both posts, that would have been obvious to the recipient.

The first was a “fuck you” message. In that one image, of me flying high, in Nepal with son1 (whom he loathed) excited, experiencing new things (that my regular income can buy) it was a real ” look how great I’m doing, despite the fact you thought I couldn’t manage without you, look how fantastic my life is now” It was a message of defiance, confidence and condescension. I can honestly say I didn’t think all of that when I sent it, but now I reflect on it I can see what was behind the sending – and I’m sure that’s what he picked up too …

The second message was one of sympathy. I thought long and hard before I wrote it, but eventually decided it was too pointed NOT to acknowledge the information my mother had passed on to me. Angela suggested that this is the exact opposite of what I sent in the first email. Sympathy, empathy, compassion, caring. All the kindness that I genuinely felt, but of course it sends an entirely different message about how I am feeling to the one I posted 3 weeks before.

After discussing this, I concluded that it very much mirrors exactly how I DO feel about him. Confused (still). Alternately free, independent, following my own path, building my relationships with my children, being the best mother I can be, excited about the opportunities that await me, and on the other hand vulnerable, kind, anxious not to see him hurt, thoughtful. Angry, and then sad; Optimistic and then vulnerable and lonely.

The fact that he hasn’t replied probably just reflects that he doesn’t know how to read me, that he’s fed up with my conflicting messages verbal, written and in person,  or he may have moved on to the next mug, or he may be angry or …. well , It doesn’t really matter does it. I meant it when I wrote a few days ago that I can accept its in the past and that nothing, no words or actions can repair this broken relationship. But Angela pointed out to me that it’s ok to be ambivalent sometimes, its ok to falter, it merely reflects the depth of emotions and the strength of my feelings. They don’t go away or resolve overnight and that this is a process, a path that I’m following. I’m a great deal further on than I was 6 months ago, but the emotional attachment takes time to wither and die.

The take home point for me about all this is that we convey a huge amount of meaning and emotion in the small, non verbal things we do or don’t do. That the majority of small things; ‘forgetting’ to send a text, not responding to a comment or reacting to situations in a way that is out of proportion, convey a huge multitude of meanings. These things are not  unplanned, they are deliberate manipulations to wrong foot someone, they are designed and engineered to gaslight and confuse.  I’m getting a glimpse of a deeply unpalatable and thoroughly disturbing outsiders view of that relationship, Its still shrouded in fog at the moment, still obscured by my naivety .. but the fog is lifting a little momentarily and small acts are now assuming a much greater significance.

I think that view, when its clearer, will be a much more accurate picture of the reality than the fairy tale and guilt I’ve been carrying around with me.