Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Art of Self Soothing

At a time where the country and the world feels a bit fragile and uncertain, when the rain is pouring and it’s grey and miserable outside. When the shorts have been put back in the wardrobe and don’t even mention the football things just feel a bit, well… crap! It’s easy to slump and give in to misery but I am a big advocate of self soothing. Knowing what you can do to make yourself feel better and calm (if it’s at all possible ) is really all you can do.

I thought I’d share some of mine. The things that when life’s a bit rubbish just soothe the soul a bit!

A cup of tea in my fave mug

Chips by the sea

Waking to birdsong (I know this one isn’t something you can control but still lovely)

A sweet text that makes you smile at your phone

The sound of your child giggling – doubly so if you’re the one to have made them laugh

Re-reading an old, favourite book

Writing letters (receiving a handwritten letter is soul food too)
Getting straight into your pj’s the minute you get in after a rubbish day

Eating nostalgic, childhood meals (Heinz tomato soup for me)

Watching a weepy movie under a duvet

Ice cream, with flakes and squirty cream and sprinkles and sauce..

Laying in bed, listening to the rain

Daydreaming

Long phonecalls with people who make your heart happy

I’m sure there are many more that will come to me over the next few days. What are your comforts?? What would you add to the list?
Agree with any of mine?

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The teens are regressing…

Is this a phenomenon??

Or is it just my children?

I’ve bragged and boasted on this very blog about how it’s really lovely now the children are older. That they’re great company now and they sleep and even manage to toilet independently. I talk of how much hard work having 3 so close in age was when they were babies and toddlers and how lovely and calm it is now.

However (and it absolutely serves me right for being smug) the last couple of weeks we have been on the express train to bickersville and it seems we’re here to stay.

I am going to go nuts.

The teens can no longer sit on a sofa and watch TV together. Neither can we sit at the table and eat dinner in peace.
Board games evening is a battle I can no longer stand.

Bicker
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My teens really need to learn to turn the other cheek. They need to learn to keep their noses out of conversations that don’t concern them. They absolutely need to drop the obsession with having the final word.

As smaller kids eldest girl would watch her brothers doing a jigsaw and hide a piece in order to wind up the boys.
She now insists on singing through the football to get the same effect.

As younger kids they’d argue over who got to be scoop when playing with the Bob the Builder toys.
Now it’s the laptop.

“mum tell her /him” has made a comeback.

“I’d have been banned off the computer if I’d done that ” is a new one.

I’m turning into the stuck record mum I was 10 years ago
” stop doing that”
“don’t annoy your brothers”
“go to your room until you can be nice to everyone ”

I’m putting it down to being a phase and hoping it’ll pass as quickly as it began.

If anyone needs me I’ll be hiding in my room with a large glass of wine and reevaluating my effectiveness as a parent…..

Turning a corner


Earlier in the week I wrote a note here to the man who abused me. I am finally feeling like I’ve reached the bright sparkly light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t want to sound knobby but I feel healed. Years on from leaving the abusive relationship I’m finally confident that I’ve turned a corner both emotionally and psychologically.

I do credit a lot of my feeling better with writing this blog. I’ve always felt better when I write down what’s on my mind. I find writing down my feelings therapeutic and really helpful in making sense of things in my own head. Communicating verbally is trickier for me (understatement of the year anyone) I mean small talk I can do until I’m blue in the face. Chatting is one of my favourite ways to pass the time. Talking about my feelings though? Emotional intimacy? Urgh there’s nothing strikes more fear into my soul. There is still much work to be done on that front and I’ll keep trying. I’m positive I can get there.

In other ways though I can look back and see how far I’ve come. I don’t want to go all X Factor on you but it’s been a real journey. Little tiny baby steps of achievement have turned into huge leaps.

When I first left I had 2 or 3 anxiety attacks a day.
Now they’re a rarity (touch wood)

When I first came here I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. So convinced I was that everyone who spoke to me thought I was as stupid and ridiculous as he had always told me I was.
I’m better now.
I’m never going to burst into a room and tap dance across the table but after a lot of work I’ve a quiet confidence in who I am.

When I first left I hated being touched, in any way at all. I’ve spoken about my hug aversion here.
Now I can do affection (shhh don’t spoil my Ice Queen reputation but I even quite like it) I can handle touching. I can EVEN (don’t faint) cuddle!! Not just with the kids either!!

When I first left I didn’t have a clue how I was going to parent alone. He’d always told me I couldn’t manage without him and I still believed that. I’d been told so often for so long what a rubbish mum I was and I’d never been allowed to wholly parent my way. I’d never lived on my own with the kids and was scared I really wouldn’t manage, that I’d damage them.
Now I can’t imagine ever living any other way. The kids and just me works (sorry Mr Perfect even when you show up I don’t think we can live together) My children are happy and I love our family dynamic. It suits us perfectly and so far as I can tell they’re not psychologically damaged by having me as their sole carer.

Looking back from here I struggle to equate that terrified, exhausted, worn down, shell of a woman who ran away that day to the woman I am now.

It’s been a long, long healing process. Certainly took longer and was harder than I expected.

In the abusive relationship the future was a scary prospect , filled with fear and self loathing.
Now though the future feels like bright, optimistic place. I’m excited to see what it has in store.

One day I may even manage that talking about my feelings nonsense…. Maybe….

A few words to my abuser…

To the man who tried to destroy me,
It’s the anniversary of that date.
The date I left.
The date you shoved me into a door and stamped on my foot – a little incident in the grand scheme of things but the last one
The date I packed up my children and ran for my life.
The date your years long reign of terror came to an end.

I just wanted you to know that I remember.

I remember and I celebrate. I look at my well adjusted children, I look around my home, I look at myself in the mirror.

Then I smile.

You didn’t defeat me you see. You broke me, you dismantled me, you shattered my soul into a million fragments. I can tell you though that now, finally I am mended. It took a while, you did a very good job of breaking my spirit. Over the years when I’ve tried to build myself up I never quite got there. The fixes were too fragile – it only took one nasty comment to have me back on the floor shattered once more. It’s different this time. I stopped trying to rush it. I’m held together with superglue.

There’s been a huge shift in my mindset the past couple of years, a change in my thought process, a change in myself.

Do you know what I think kick started the new outlook? Writing this blog. Sharing my story has helped more than I could have dreamt. I’m not the only one who has been involved with men like you. There are so many, way too many of us. We tell our stories, we support one another, we comfort and we share and we listen. Women are strong, we build ourselves back stronger and with the support of other women we’re a real force. My little blog reminds me of this. When I receive messages from other women who tell me my blog helped them feel less alone that helps my own recovery. We all know your type now. Those of us who’ve attended the Freedom Programme can now spot an abusive man. We know the warning tell tale signs. There’s strength in that. Female empowerment is stronger than the likes of you thank goodness.

You won there for a little while, when you said if I left no one would believe me, they’d think me mad and take my children you had a really good go at that. You failed though. You failed spectacularly.

Because of you for years I walked around with my head down, the posture of a woman who doesn’t want to take up any space, who doesn’t want to catch anyone’s eye.

Because of you I doubted my parenting skills, I felt useless at everything and more than that I thought that’s how everyone else saw me too.

Not any more.

I’ll always be affected by what you did to me both physically and psychologically. I use it to my advantage now though.

I’m happy with who I am, with how I look. The woman who believed she was stupid, fat and ugly, your favourite three words, is gone.

My life is good. My children’s lives are really good.

We won.

My Facebook page is here

 
 

JakiJellz

 

Mummy Times Two


A Fathers Day note…


My dad was not a fan of Fathers Day. A day he actually despised ‘commercial bloody exploitation ‘ was his description. So dad.. This cost me nothing!

Dear Dad,
The last time I saw you, you were just heading off to bed. Bedtime for you had become between 7-8, when you could take your morphine and get some release from the constant pain you were hiding from us all.

If I’d have known that night would be my last chance to kiss you goodnight(at 15 I was still a total daddys girl) I’d have ensured I hugged you extra tight, made sure I told you how so very much I loved you, and not to worry. That I’d look after my mum and sister for you.

I didn’t know though. None of us did. I suspect, though, that you were aware you were coming to the end of that long, painful journey. You had one up on the rest of us though.,  as usual. You knew your cancer had returned, that instead of last time where you made a hard fought recovery. This time you couldn’t get better and it was only going to give you a month or so with us. You kept that to yourself.

In the days leading up to your funeral,  people would talk a lot about how brave you were in not telling us about the cancer. How courageous of you it was to have gone through all that on your own. How kind you’d been sparing us that. I didn’t feel that way. I was so so angry with you.

How could you deprive me of my chance to say goodbye? How could you let your death come as such a shock to my mum, your wife who believed you were going to get better.

Only recently, twenty years later, can I understand why you did it. I’m so sorry I was so angry for so long. I hate that I never got to know you as an adult. I suspect though there would be huge similarities between us. I think you probably didn’t tell anyone because you couldn’t actually handle everyone elses emotions. You must have been going through a torturous time yourself. I understand why you couldn’t also deal with your devoted wife and your 15 and 12 year old daughters having their world ripped apart right in front of you. That you’d always been the guy to come to, who made everything better. When I was sick of being a narrator in primary school plays because I was a good reader. I told you how I wanted a ‘proper part’.. low and behold who was Molly Malone in the next one?. When I didn’t want to go on a school residential because the burgers they served were from a tin?? A tin??. You sorted it and sent me with a box of Birds Eye burgers after ok ing it with the teacher! So now this hugest of things, that you couldn’t solve, that you couldn’t make go away. Well I understand why you couldn’t cope with our heartbreak too.

I didn’t go to your funeral for the same reason. I couldn’t deal with other peoples grief, I couldn’t handle my own and I couldn’t be part of everyone elses.

I understand why you kept your secret and particularly as a parent myself (I know had you been around that never would’ve happened. Was it 40 I had to be before I could hang around with boys??) I see that you were brave and courageous and kind in doing what you did. That you were all the things those around me, who knew better than a heartbroken 15 year old, said you were.

As early as I can remember I put you on the highest superdad pedestal, as being the best and most loved man in my whole entire world.

Do you know what dad? You’re still there.

Xxx

Ps. You know how I drove you mad with my Kylie obsession and you said she wouldn’t last two minutes??? Seems I was right!!…. Oh and I still don’t get Monty Python

The Boyfriend List

I, tongue firmly in cheek, allude to The Boyfriend List in this blog whenever I chat about my singleness or my absolute unshakeable belief that MY Mr Perfect is out there somewhere. I say ‘my’ Mr Perfect because obviously no one actually is perfect are they? I believe there’s someone out there who is perfect for me though.

During a particularly productive therapy session years and years ago I produced a list of characteristics my ideal partner would have. It became The Boyfriend List.

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Now I know EXACTLY what you are thinking. You’re thinking that’s pretty demanding list for a woman in her mid 30s with a whole brood of children. I know that’s how it appears.

Let me explain.

Back when I wrote this list I was still battle weary after the abusive relationship. I was also hugely aware that I was vulnerable.

Life after abuse is scary.

The problem with being tired and wounded and damaged is this : It attracts the very men you need to be well away from. Abusive men love vulnerability, to them it means malleable, easy to manipulate, easy to control.

Even back then I knew I wasn’t put off men forever. That I wasn’t sworn off relationships. It’s unusual to get to my age and never having been in love. I knew one day I wanted to give that a whirl (how on earth can I write my best selling rom com without ever even have had a sniff of the happy ever after stuff)

I was distrustful of my own judgement when I wrote the list. I also knew EVERY relationship I’ve ever been in had come about accidentally. There was never any desire or admiration or even the simple crush about them. I’d met someone, thought they were OK and fallen into a relationship I didn’t particularly want.

I never want to do that again.
So despite how it looks, my list really isn’t a demand.
It’s a promise. To myself.
It’s saying don’t settle.
It’s saying I deserve someone a bit special.
It’s saying even if he never shows you’re best on your own than in a shitty relationship.
It’s saying don’t lower your standards.

Also, as was pointed out to me – (my name is Kelly and I’m the least self aware person in the world) this list isn’t unreasonable.
I’m not asking to be woken in the morning to a specially assembled dawn chorus of trained birds before having breakfast brought in bed on a golden platter followed by out of this world, mind blowing sex. To later find myself spending the day on the yacht of my boyfriend, the most handsome man to walk the earth, lounging in my diamond shoes having my every whim catered to by an adoring man.
It’s really just asking for a decent human being.
That’s not too much to ask is it?

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The Pramshed

One Messy Mama

The rules of sister..


My sister is my favourite grown up in all the world. I wrote about why here. She’s my best friend and I really hope my daughters are as close when they’re older. We never really fall out, we speak at least once a day and we are really close.

I think the reason we get along so well is that we follow a few unwritten rules of sister. Except I’m just about to write them down I suppose so here they are anyway.

1) Spontaneous, random texts are necessary.
This morning my sister texted with memories of donkey derby she participated in aged 8. Some mornings she texts to let me know that she’s sat next to the world’s smelliest person on the bus!
They always make me smile!

2) We find one another (and ourselves) hilarious.
I’m not easily ‘got’. Most of the time I’ll be sat giggling at something funny I believe I’ve said only to look around and realise everyone thinks I’m a knob.
This never happens with my sister, phone calls occur where 10 minutes are spent with no words just us crying laughing at some nonsense or another.
I should at this point mention my brother who this point here also applies to. Now he THINKS he’s the funniest guy in town, but in reality without his straight guy (me) and dizzy little sister (her) to bounce off he’s lost if truth be told!

3) What happens drunk is never mentioned again.
No matter what nonsense occurs after a wine or two (or ten) in the cold, harsh light of day these shenanigans are NEVER mentioned again.
Never ever.
There are no ‘Oh do you remember last night when you…’
Nope. None of that.

4) We encourage one another.
I’m not talking the big, sensible grown up stuff here although I think we do that too.
A three word encouraging text of ‘Don’t judge me’ means let’s have wine on a school night. We encourage one another’s crazy new business venture ideas – I stand by my thoughts that she’d be a great private detective!
She was once so encouraging she had me believe my rendition of Nessun Dorma was nothing short of spectacular.
It’s the little nutty things that count. Let me take this opportunity to say her Johnny Vegas impression is a wonder.

5) We use insults as affection
To the outsider our trading of insults may come across as mean and horrid. It’s really just a declaration of love – honestly.
We don’t really do heartfelt in our family so ‘ your fat, ginger face is so annoying’ actually translates as ‘I miss your gorge, auburn haired face please visit soon’ or summat.. I once texted her ‘I love you’
Her reply?
‘Are you dying? ‘
Hey it works for us!

So there are some of our rules of sister. I’m kind of assuming all families have similar little quirks?? Please say yes!!
Either way, quite fond of that birdbrained dirt bag of mine!

16 things in 16 years.


We all know I’ve no claim to be a parenting expert. I make mistakes often but I generally learn from them (I have only ever ONCE attempted to take the kids to school on an in service day).
Eldest boy is almost 16 (I know I know I’m way too young!) and I’ve had 3 more since him so I must have picked up one or two things about parenting in 16 years.

Here are the 16 parenting lessons I’ve learnt in 16 years :

1) I do like children after all! (phew)

2) Motherhood leaves you vulnerable to more pain, upset and worry that you could imagine.

3) Mother’s instinct is a real thing.

4) Never leave weetabix bowls for even two minutes before you wash them. That stuff could be used to build houses.

5) Despite what meany-pants parenting books try to say, there’s no such thing as too much praise. I absolutely believe the reason I’ve such confident children is because they know I think they’re fantastic and tell them often.

6) Colic doesn’t last forever. You think it will but it doesn’t.

7) One day you’ll really miss the TV shows/books/movies you currently hate because your child wants them ten times a day (I’m so sorry for hiding you We’re Going On A Bearhunt)

8) The teens will never admit it but they do appreciate you taking the time to ask about their day. For every 10 times the response is shoulder shrug and ‘meh’, there’ll be one time they open up and chat about their day. It’s worth it.

9) There IS a difference in parenting boys and parenting girls.
10) There’ll be days you find motherhood dull or exhausting or impossible. That’s OK, those days pass.

11) One day you’ll find yourself telling your children off for exhibiting behaviours that have come directly from you.

12) Teething is torture. For all concerned.

13) Don’t panic about children being late potty training or giving up dummies and bottles. One day they will.

14) The chocolate /junk food /sweets you swore you’d never bribe your children with? You probably will. Don’t worry about it, it’s a means to an ends. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that and if a kinder egg means your kid will sit quiet while you have a smear or something equally glam so be it.

15) A kind or thoughtful gesture from your child will break your heart in the best way. It just kind of dissolves with pride.

16) Don’t lament the end of the baby /toddler/pre school days too much. It’s hard to let go but teens are quite good company (on their terms of course)

It’s in no way rules to live by, but I’m Queen of making it up as you go along parenting and these children of mine *crosses fingers, touches wood, finds lucky rabbits foot* they seem to be turning out OK!

The nice guy

I’m not going to lambast Johnny Depp here. I don’t know what went on his marriage. I wrote here how important it is that women who come forward about domestic abuse are believed is.
I’ll say I believe her, and I’ll leave it there.

The thing that’s unsettled me most about the Depp scenario though as a survivor of domestic abuse is twofold. Firstly the horrific manner in which Amber Heard has been treated has triggered a hell of a lot of anxiety for me.
“she must have deserved it”
“those bruises are clearly fake”
“she can’t have been abused, there’s a pic of her smiling the next day ”
All the vileness and disbelief thrown her way took me back to a dark place, brought back feelings of absolute despair and frustration because I’ve been that woman.
It’s a massive thing to finally admit you’ve been abused. 

The other thing that’s really gotten to me about the whole thing is the number of colleagues and friends coming forward to assert ‘he’d never do this. He’s a nice guy’

Abusive men are usually nice guys. To their friends to their families. To your friends to your families, to you in the beginning.

These men are charmers, sweet talkers, they’re so genuine and caring and loving.

The insidious nature of domestic abuse is what makes it so dangerous and so frightening.

When the ‘nice guy’ asks you to stay in with him rather than go out with your friends, you find it flattering.

When the ‘nice guy’ tells you, you don’t need to wear make up, why don’t you take it off before you leave the house, you’re quite charmed.

When the ‘nice guy’ confides in you that your friends are no good, they all secretly laugh at you and hate you. Tells you that there’s only him who really cares you believe it.

When the ‘nice guy’ kicks you in the face for speaking out of turn he’ll apologise and cry and tell you it’s only because he loves you so much and it wouldn’t have happened at all if you’d just kept quiet. You’re worn down by then, you’re ashamed so you believe him.

When the ‘nice guy’ screams in your face that you can never leave as you can’t cope without him. That no one else will ever want such an ugly, stupid mess. You believe it wholeheartedly.

Then if you’re one of the lucky ones. If you get to leave, if you run away and escape from that torture that was your life. The charm offensive intensifies, towards you at first. Grand gestures, tears, flowers, on his knees begging you to come back. He must note a change though, a look in your eye, a change in your stance, a different tone of voice. He realises his power is waning and has to turn his charm elsewhere.

He’s good at that.

The ‘good guy’ will tell your friends and family he’s concerned about your mental health.

He’s likely put years of background into this to make sure they’ll believe he cares.

The ‘good guy’ will use tears to anyone with authority. The police, the social worker, the court. He’ll break down into heartbroken sobs that his children have been taken away.
He’s a charmer, some people will believe him.

The ‘good guy’ will have told HIS friends and family lies about why you’ve left. They’ll aid his abuse by calling you a liar.

The ‘good guy’ will contact the children, with tales of how he misses them, how mummy has taken them away and he can’t eat or sleep without them. The beginning of emotional abuse of them right there.

Unfortunately you can’t pick out the abusive man in a crowd.
You can’t say it can’t be true because they’ve always been nice to you, bloody hell abusing their partner is a full time, intensive job, done over months and years they simply don’t have the time to abuse everyone they know.

You can’t say you’ve never witnessed it so it can’t be true. These men aren’t stupid, every action they ever take is planned and thoughtfully carried out.

I know many really good men (well a couple at least) hell I’m trying to raise two. I’m not saying the good guy doesn’t exist. I’m just saying maybe we can be a bit gentler with the women speaking out, doing the bravest thing they’ve ever done.

Abusive men are charming and manipulative, they’re good at it. Maybe we can keep that in mind before we judge.


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