Desert Poem

I see you in the desert where,

You’re wandering alone,

But what you have forgotten is,

I haven’t left my throne.

.

If you take my hand, I’ll lead you out,

But you need to make that choice,

I’ll never force or pressure you,

I’ll guide you with my voice.

.

I am a patient father and,

I’ll love you either way,

But I want to save you heartaches,

And remove your constant pain.

.

I have a master plan for you,

It’s been there all along,

I know you wandered off the path,

But I also made you strong.

.

My strength in you has kept you as,

You weathered storms and strife,

My spirit has sustained you when,

You wanted to give up on life.

.

Your heart is soft and beats for me,

Though you’ve said things you regret,

You momentarily lost your way,

But when I forgive – I forget.

.

My chosen child, my precious one,

Be still and rest in me,

I’ll guide your steps and hold you close,

For all eternity.

 

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Freedom..

You hurt me. Not with words, but by withholding them when I needed them most.

You hurt me when you walked away.

You took with you my dreams, my hopes and my passion.

You scarred me with the ill-chosen words you did choose to use when you allowed anger to guide you, and your eyes to be closed to compassion.

You turned your back on me when I needed someone to prop me up.

I needed to lean on you, and you let me fall and I struggle to believe that it wasn’t deliberate.

You knew I was treading water, yet you threw me no lifelines. You responded to my cries for help with anger.

Were you angry at me for being weak? Or angry at yourself for being ill equipped to deal with the onslaught of emotion that I bring to the table?

Some say that you were not ever able to deal with me emotionally, but I call bullshit. You always knew exactly what you were doing.

I know I’m pretty full on but you knew that from the very beginning.

This was always all about control, and power and winning no matter the cost. It was about arrogance and selfishness.

I want to hate you for this and for all the rest of the pain you have caused me over the years, but hate is such a strong force that I don’t want to allow it in to poison me. Because I know it will damage me irreparably.

Part of me wants to find out what I need to do to cause you the same level of hurt and pain that you’ve caused me, but I know deep down that revenge is never the answer.

Love is.
Forgiveness is.
I’ve held onto enough pain to last me a lifetime and it’s starting to make me physically ill so it’s time to let it all go.
It’s time for me to move on and allow healing to begin.

You’ve left me damaged, but not broken. Cautious but not so much that I’ll never be able to let someone in again.

You don’t deserve that much power over me.

Your neglect of our relationship, of our history and our connection hasn’t left me feeling as cold as it I would’ve expected.

It has pushed me closer to Jesus.  To the one who will never be disappointed in me.

The one who will never crush me with angry words, the one who will never abandon me.

So thank you. Thank you for teaching me that it was always foolish to expect a human to be what only God can be.

Faithful, true, honest, loving and kind.

All the things you’re not.

 

Brutal honesty and self-talk.

 

Someone sent me a quote the other day and I loved it so much that I put a paraphrased version of in my Instagram bio.

It says:

“Parenting is the most rewarding thing that has ever completely destroyed my sense of self.”

And those couldn’t be truer words for me.

I’ll strip it right back to the bones: “Parenting is the most rewarding thing

Yes. Absolutely it is.

It can give me chills (of the good kind) it can make me laugh and it can give me the greatest sense of accomplishment I’m ever likely to experience.

Watching mini versions of myself running around is amusing, wonderful, heart-warming but also somewhat frightening. When my child achieves something whether spectacular or a smaller personal progression, my heart swells with pride and I also get to feel some of that euphoric feeling they’re experiencing.

There is a part of me that takes ownership for their success and I become so happy for them that I feel as though I could almost burst. I pat myself on the back and mentally list off all the ways that I helped them to reach their goals and the emotions can be simply overwhelming.
When one of my kids succeeds – I feel as though I have finally done SOMETHING right in raising them and the self-talk is usually kind, compassionate and positive.

(But I do have this warped idea in my head that I will somehow be more acceptable to society when my kid is seen to be “one of the good ones).

And when one of them is hurting– I also go through similar pain to what they’re experiencing and it’s hard to separate my own feelings from the truth of the situation in front of me.

This happened a lot when my daughter as younger. She was bullied for a while in primary school – as was I – and it took me back to my own past hurts. To this day, I still struggle to be civil with the girls involved in tormenting her.

I was only chatting with her about this the other day and she told me point blank that I need to bury the past, get over it and move on. (She’s very different to me in this way. She’s a far less emotionally-led person than I am and a lot more matter-of-a-fact about these things).

And she was right.  If she has been able to forgive and get past this, why then can’t I?

Because: so much of my time and compassion and love was invested into helping her through the horrible years that I forgot where to draw the line between caring and taking it personally.

I believe that this is a common parenting mistake for a lot of mothers.

I’ve also done it with my boys concerning societal judgments on their behaviour (whether that was incorrectly perceived by me or the criticisms were real). I’ve gone all psycho-mum on educators, doctors and family members/friends when I’ve thought that my kids were hard done by or ripped off in any way.

I’ve stepped waaaaaay over that invisible line and I’ve come out swinging because my emotions told me that it didn’t matter whether I was right or not, it only mattered that I was seen to be fighting the good fight.

And now to the second part of the above quote: “completely destroyed my sense of self

To me, that means that the very same child that can cause me to reward myself with kind, compassionate and positive self-talk, can also cause me to hate on myself with toxic venomous judgmental words that I would never ever direct at another living person.

Like EVER.

Because I know that words can bring life or be a destructive force. I just don’t seem to value myself enough to withhold such harsh judgments from me.

Let me explain:

If my child doesn’t listen to me and shouts at me and calls me unspeakable names; instead of me just recognising that my child is being a jerk, I instantly blame myself for not having taught them better ways to manage their anger.

If my child gets in trouble at school; I’ll give myself a major dressing down because I tell myself that I probably should have better prepared them better for a situation such as this. I tell myself that I’m a failure and that I’m not present enough in their lives and that it’s all my fault that they’re being a dickhead.

The reality is that sometimes, they really ARE just being dickheads. And that’s a fact.

When my kids fight with each other, I reprimand myself and assume that they’ve only learned this because they watch their father and I tear strips off each other on a frequent basis, and I tell myself “Oh well Fi, I guess they’re only doing what they’ve had modelled in front of them for years”

 And it’s like a vicious cycle.

But the reality is that my kids are probably no worse than any one else’s kids. The difference is that I constantly compare myself to other parents and most of the time; what I’m seeing is only a small snippet of what really goes on in other households.

Or it’s what has been presented to me.

Because I’ve discovered that most parents just aren’t as candid as I am. Most parents only show the highlight reels and cover up all traces of them stuffing up when dealing with their offspring.

I get that, really, I do. I get that airing dirty laundry in public makes others uncomfortable and can sometimes make for some awkward conversations and predicaments. But I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about hanging your kids out to dry (see what I did there? – the laundry reference?)

I’m not saying that we all need to compare horror stories online of what our kids have done wrong. I don’t think we need to shame them- especially publicly. Our job as a parent is to protect them- not tear them down. But admitting that sometimes we – as parents have missed it, or stuffed up, or even reacted in the exact opposite way to how we should have, doesn’t mean that we have failed as parents.

It just makes us real and honest. And that’s a very healthy place to be if it’s used correctly: to better yourself and learn from your mistakes.

I’m talking about the idea that social media seems to have purported that we are only allowed to show our successes and our wins. That we’re supposed to bury the messy, gritty and downright soul destroying parts of parenting down to depths never to be seen, and make everyone believe that we have are shit together and we are sailing along calm waters all the time.

Because all that THAT does is make parents like me second guess ourselves and wonder what the hell WE did so wrong to have to battle the situations that no one else seems to even understand, let alone live when the reality is that everyone of us have struggles but only some of us own them.

Most one-on-one conversations I have with other parents (particularly mothers) usually go along similar lines to this:  “Wow Fi, thank you for admitting that- I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about, I totally agree with you and your honesty is refreshing, I wish I could speak so openly about that but ….”

And then when I ask them why they hide behind their pretty pictures and captions they tell me that they’ve learned to shut up and ‘smile and wave’ as the saying goes. Just fake it and hope like hell that people are buying it.

And I think that’s sad. Really, really sad.  Because if you can’t be honest about where you’re at – nobody knows how to help you.

Occasionally I’ll have a day where I’m tearing my hair out, I’ve exhausted all my patience and have hit a brick wall emotionally when it comes to parenting. And sometimes on those days, I used to post a picture or quote on Instagram.

On those days, I could usually predict who would avoid me like the plague and who would comment, like and rally alongside me. I was usually correct in guessing the texts, DMs, and phone calls I’d receive and it never failed to amuse me when someone would passively aggressively post immediately afterwards a quote or caption that was intended to put me in my place.

Or worse: they’d make a point of coming and talking to me in person because they were “concerned” about my mental health and how I was coming across. A few times I was told that they were concerned about my children’s wellbeing. I can tell you that this is like waving a red flag to a bull with me – (don’t EVER allude to the fact that you think I’m an unfit parent just because I chose to be real).

It was like they were saying: “How DARE you use a social media platform to garner sympathy or whine about your life. How dare you be so forthright and in my face when all I wanted was to come on here and look at the pretty sunsets and happy families.

But I got rid of all those phoney followers long ago. I didn’t need their judgments (I’m harsh enough on myself!) and I have realised over the past few years that they were in fact the ones who were struggling the most.

I have been scared away from the internets on more occasions than I care to admit but gradually I am becoming a lot stronger and surer of myself.

The Case Worker I have just acquired has been counselling me and showing me how damaging my self-talk has been in the past and she’s been encouraging me to ‘give myself a break’.

I am learning to step back from any situation where I feel as though I have failed my kids and talk to myself as though I were talking to a friend. She’s having me roleplay and speak out my responses so I can hear for myself how damaging my own words have been all these years.

Here’s an example:

My little one was very sick last week.  But I missed all the cues and all I saw was the revolting behaviours and aggression during the days leading up to it. When his teacher sent him home with a spiking fever and a throbbing headache and sore throat- I suddenly realised that all his meltdowns and outburst were because he felt crappy and didn’t know how to tell me. His behaviour told me, but I wasn’t able to see past the shouting and the kicking and the defiance. It was autism 101 and I totally missed it.

My case worker asked me to imagine that my friend had called me and explained the above paragraph. She asked me how I would respond to my friend in that situation.

Easy.

I would tell my friend that it wasn’t her fault. That she is too close to the situation so was unable to see the signs. That she can’t be expected to get it right every single time but that it doesn’t mean for a second that she’s a terrible mother. I would tell her that she’s an incredible mum and that even realising in hindsight is awesome and that she should be proud of how far she’s come. I would tell her that I can see how exhausted she is raising these kids whilst working long hours and that she needs to give herself a break.

Lastly; I would tell her that I love her, that I’m always here for her and that I believe in her.

Self-talk.

It’s totally a thing, and my goal this last 6 months of 2017 is to learn to love and care for me better because no one else is going to do it.

If you’ve gotten this far- through the 2000 + words and are still reading; I thank you.

I hope this weekend is kind to you.

X

 

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Beginning to exhale 

Blogging about your children is an issue that has been a topic of much debate.
There is the camp that say that it’s ok and that it’s no one else’s business what you write because they’re YOUR children therefore your right, and then there’s the camp that is almost venomous in their opinions and attack any parent who chooses to write anything at all.
This second (and polar opposite) group often refer to the the afore-mentioned group as abusive and attention seeking while the first group see the second as do-gooders and the ‘parent police’ .

I’m somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

I think that writing about your children is definitely a personal decision that needs to be discussed with your kids and it’s certainly not a right. I think that any writing needs to be respectful of the children and mindful of any possible future effects on these children. I also think that the children need to give their permission before anything is shared. And in the past- I have not done that.
I hold onto a lot of regret over that one.
We need to remember that one day they will be grown and there is such a thing as cached information and that it’s possible for anything that we share now to potentially have a profound impact on our kid’s futures.
I feel that it some ways I have crossed the line between wanting to protect my kids and the never ending pursuit of finding my tribe, the other parents out there who can nod in agreement and say ‘me too’.

I have read back on posts I wrote 5 years ago and cringed. Not because of what I wrote- but how I wrote it. Of how I let my own emotions and hurts override the maternal instinct to protect my kids and how I described situations that could now be seen as detrimental to my children.

A lot of the things that I have written when my kids were much younger were NOT written to garner attention or extract sympathy from readers, but simply to try to find other people ‘out there’ who get it.

Other parents who know firsthand what the emotions are that you can’t always necessarily describe and the parents who will stand beside you as you continually push impossible elephants up increasingly higher mountains.
But blogging can also be a place where triumphs are shared and troubles are halved because talking about those things that you’re struggling with can become less daunting and overwhelming when you have another parent offering up advice or ideas that you may not have thought of yourself.

But at some point over the years I learned to shut up and say nothing. I learned that a lot of people judge and a lot of people already have their opinion formed and that there’s nothing you could say or do that will sway them or convince them to see something they’re not willing to see. It’s not always malicious but sometimes it unfortunately is.

So in a way I allowed my heart to toughen up a LOT. I formed a protective barrier around it because I got tired of people walking out on me, and I got tired of other people (even other autism parents) judging me or gossiping about me because they couldn’t or wouldn’t understand what we have been going through or why I would write about it.

Fast forward to last Friday when I met with our new family case worker.
I spent 6 years trying to secure this for our family and I’d almost given up. Six long years of emotional blogging to try to release some pent up grief and to try to dig us out.

On Friday, I sat quietly around a large boardroom table that had a case worker, a senior case worker, a family referral officer and her senior manager sitting there taking notes and assessing ways that they could help our family.

Our family that is in crisis.
Our family who is held together by sheer determination on my part and by the grace of God.

The case worker had a thick file in front of them full of information that had led to us being here where we are right now.

It contained detailed reports from professionals in the medical as well as educational fields. Reports that would make most mother’s hearts rip apart and most families to go through similar emotional breakdown.
And during this meeting, I was required to let it all out.

I was required to describe everything with absolutely no details spared, with no ‘t’ left uncrossed, no ‘i’ left without a dot and no pages left unturned.
Because this was what was needed to enable the workers to put plans into place to help out family to find our equilibrium again.

The first thing that the social worker said to me was that I needed to be helped first.
Because a mother who has no outlet and no relief will not be able to function well enough to be the best mother that her children need. Especially when it’s such a difficult situation that you’re all in.
She knew from past communication from me that writing was what leveled me out and what I use as my therapy.

She knew that I have been avoiding writing for fear of backlash because of the nature of the events surrounding both of my boys and she advised me to keep the details I had shared with her off my blog and that I instead use her as my safe place to discuss these things.
But she doesn’t want me to stop writing altogether.

She wants me to continue writing the fictional novel I started years ago and publish the one that I completed already.
But I haven’t decided yet what to do with that. Because a part of me doesn’t want to share what was written from such a deep and personal place.
Part of me wants to keep the novel sacred because it was written semi auto-biographically and a lot of it mirrors what I was going on in my own heart and mind at the time.
So for now I’m going to sit tight.

But the good news is that for the first time in a very long time – I am finally able to exhale.

And that is worth far more than all the gold in the world.

Silent chaotic prayer 

I am just so angry.
Where are you God? I know you won’t leave me, but right now, I cannot find you.
This hurt that is inside me is all-consuming. It’s overwhelming and frightening.

I struggle to join coherent thoughts together and the idea of completing simple everyday tasks seems so much more than I can possibly handle right now.

I wonder aloud whether there is more to life? There has to be. Surely this isn’t the best that life has got to offer? And I if this is in fact it- I want out.

Why aren’t you fixing this mess?

My mind is starting to go places that I know I should stop it from going. It’s been poking into dark corners that should be avoided and meanders it’s way along deadly paths and tracks that are all one way streets.

There is no coming back from some of these thoughts, but at the moment, it is what it is.

I’m so angry I can barely breathe some days.

Why have you let me get so low? Why aren’t you changing anything?

My current state of mind is a veritable quagmire of pain mixed with emotions that have no escape. They swirl around in my head and spin madly creating a series of out-of-control tornadoes that have the power to take me out in one foul swoop, and the energy that I expend trying to push them back under the surface is nothing short of exhausting.

Why aren’t you bringing the break I so badly need? Surely I deserve better than this?

Trying to keep this stupid mask glued to my face that presents a coping facade to the public and fool them into believing that every thing in my world is peachey is a task that requires enormous self-control and frankly: I no longer seem to have that in me anymore. My emotions torment me daily.

Where are you hiding from me?

These emotions hover on the edges of my sanity provoking me and passively aggressively eating away at my peace until I explode in a spectacular display of insanely refractory behaviour that paints me into a corner where I sit and rock as I try to wrap my head around what the hell is happening around me.

I am through pretending. When is this going to end?

Where is my escape?

Maybe I really have lost the plot once and for all. Maybe the end of my rope is the end of my life as well?
You know what? I don’t even care anymore. I’m done caring.

I know that YOU care, well at least I thought you did.

I am all out, I’ve got nothing.
Jesus: I need you.  More than air.


Psalm 10:17
You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.

 

 

 

 

 

The rocking horse …

I’m a worrier. Always have been, it’s kinda my ‘thing’. I’m not proud of it, and next to my tendency to over share and to talk too much – it’s my most hated personal trait.
One of the things that has been bothering me a lot lately may seem small and insignificant to some, but I’ve struggled a lot with it and am still trying to figure out the best way to move past it. And that is friendships. Specifically- for my boys.
Lucas has been catching the bus home for a long time and whilst there were some teething problems, he seemed to be handling it quite well. But recently he has been coming home quite distraught and adamant that everyone hated him. It took a lot of directional questions and detective work on my part, but I finally got to the bottom of this alleged bus bullying and it was a hard one for me to stomach.

My boy in all his aspie glory took it upon himself to self-nominate as the ‘bus monitor’. Which, in plain terms means that he decided that snitching on all the other kids who weren’t following the rules was his personal responsibility.

So, any child eating on the bus was awarded a mark against their name in his notepad, as was anyone swearing, standing up or ‘being a bully’ and he took his self appointed job very seriously and carried his notebook into school every morning to report to the teachers what he had seen on the bus the previous day.

Clearly the other kids were not huge fans of this and the rest is pretty easy to figure out.

Lucas is turning ten this year, and sadly – his quirky little ways aren’t as endearing to other kids as they once were. Kids are quicker to point out his differences and he responds to this with aggression.

Sigh.

And then there is Harley.
I worked DAMN hard to get him this placement in an autism class and I stand by my decision. He needed this because he was drowning in mainstream and I truly believe he’s in the best possible place for the rest of his schooling. But that comes at a price.
And the price is socialising.
Since he has been in his placement, he is surrounded by other children with varying levels (for lack of a better word) of autism. And that’s great – but it’s also not.

Because at lunch and recess and sport and PE and pretty much every extra curricular activity that his class is involved in- he is surrounded by other children who also have massive social delays and enormous anxiety. They are all given the option to stay in the ‘safe playground’ (which is a concrete area with seating attached to the unit they attend) or to play in the ‘regular playground’ which is where the rest of the high schoolers hang out.

No prizes for guessing where they all end up.

And all of them ‘want ‘ friends, but none of them have any idea how to go about making them. And that’s sad. None of them understand how to initiate conversations and because they’re not choosing to mix with the rest of the school- they aren’t learning vital social skills to survive in the big bad world. This bothers me greatly.

As much as I want to wrap him up in cotton wool and tell him that he can stay my baby forever- I know that I am doing him a disservice by not encouraging him to do the hard things and teaching him those social skills that he will be expected to display one day in the workforce.

Harley comes out of school most days and talks animatedly about the boys in his class and what they did at lunch time and the games they played in class and he talks fondly of the other boys, but he has absolutely no idea how to foster friendships with any of them and truly believes that they aren’t his friends and don’t actually like him.

And I’m left wondering how to teach these skills to my boys when they only have each other and don’t really have any ‘typical’ friends to teach them about having mates or being socially appropriate etcetera etcetera.

I worry that this is my fault because I never involved them in any sports. (I offered but they weren’t interested). And I never forced them into play dates or social functions that they clearly didn’t want to attend.

I even stopped requiring them to go to church because the fall out afterwards from the sensory onslaught was becoming too much for ANY of us to deal with.

And because it’s ‘my thing’ to worry, I lie awake some nights angry with myself for not fixing any of this earlier – or some how preventing it and I beat myself up for being a crappy mother.

I worry that they are going to be dysfunctional adults and that I would’ve caused it through neglect. And then my mind starts to go places it shouldn’t.

Eventually I drift off into fitful sleep and wake up the next day drained and beyond tired.

But here’s the thing: I really do know better. I know deep down in my heart of hearts that this will all somehow work out.

Because they’re God’s kids and He won’t let them sink. They may go through any number of storms in their lives but He will always be in the boat with them telling those pesky waves to quieten down and the raging waters to calm.

Like He does for me.

All. The. Time.

As my dad used to say: “Worry is like riding a rocking horse. You can ride it like crazy but it doesn’t actually get you anywhere, all it does is wear you out and steal your joy”. 

I just need to be reminded occasionally.

My girl was the cutest little rocking horse rider you ever did see

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Being Kind To Yourself..

20121123-222717.jpgI’m not one for making New Years Resolutions; I never continue them past the first week of January anyway. Declaring publicly that you are giving something up or starting something new is a sure-fire way to make a fool of yourself or end up disappointed when you ultimately fail.

Ask me how I know this 😉

Besides, I already know of several areas in my life where I need to make changes. God has been speaking to me gently about them for a while and I have also got some friends around me who aren’t afraid to be honest with me when they see me battling hurdles in my life. These friends are few but they are consistent and they speak life into me when I’m struggling and love me no matter what season I’m in.

I’ve always thought that self-harm was cutting, overdosing or physically damaging yourself in some way, but lately I’ve been made aware of the fact that self-harm actually refers to anything that you’re participating in that is causing you injury whether it be physical, emotional or mental.

And I’m the worst at self-sabotage.

I frequently say yes when I really want to (and should) say no, I eat what I know is going to make me ill (I have a list of known food intolerances as long as your arm) and I allow myself to be persuaded into being places I don’t want to be.

The downward spiral continues when I start to hate myself for being weak (again) and I push myself until I end up an emotional basket case and no good for anything or anybody.

Life is always going to throw curve balls at me, and people will always disappoint me – I can’t do a damn thing about any of that. But what I can change is how I view ME and how I treat ME.

Over the course of this year I have many long-term goals, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Physically I’m looking at gradually eliminating meat, processed foods, dairy, sugars and alcohol from my diet, fine-tuning my eating habits and getting on top of my many food intolerances.

I want to improve my running; both distance and style and I’d also like to work at losing a bit of weight, toning up and strengthening my body.

Spiritually I want to set aside more time to spend with my children and with Jesus. I want to rearrange my priorities and make room for miracles and blessings to occur and I want to teach my children by example about having hope.

Emotionally I want to learn to be kinder to myself. I want to learn how to say no when I need to, how to stand up for myself and how to stop taking crap from other people because I think so little of myself. I also want to set aside time each week to write. I process better when I do this and I find it incredibly cathartic.

 I know that life isn’t always going to be easy and it’s a pretty overwhelming and exhaustive list of changes that I want to make in my life, but I don’t intend on doing everything all at once.

I haven’t even set dates as yet as to what I want to achieve by when or even how I plan to go about reaching those goals, but I have set myself the baby step goal of doing one thing per day that is just for me and just because I deserve it.

Today’s baby step was coming home from work, running myself a bubble bath and drinking a healthy smoothie made from fresh fruit and almond milk.

Tomorrow I am visiting a beautiful florist and I am buying myself a massive bunch of roses and coming home to do yoga and weights in front of a romantic movie.

I’m being kind to me. I am choosing to value myself. This is going to be MY year, I am going to look after myself and I am going to shine.

What’s your 2016 going to look like?

Until Next Time….

Well Hey! Hi, How’s it going? What’s happening? Is it as good as they say it is up there? Have you been reading the letters I’ve written you? Does God pass on my messages? You know I ask him to, like – all the time?

Today begins a new year, twenty sixteen – can you believe that? Yep – 16, the age your firstborn grandchild turns this year. The daughter I brought home from the hospital on your birthday all those years ago. Speaking of birthdays – you would’ve been 70 this year. Time flies huh?

Remember when I was chatting to you out loud the other day – when I was driving between jobs – when I cried that messy, ugly cry and had to pull the car over on the side of the motorway until I managed to pull myself together enough to continue driving? Yeah well – that situation worked itself out with a few well-timed phone calls, apologizing, begging and whatnot.

Thanks for listening to me and not judging me on that one. A hug certainly would’ve helped but – you know – kinda difficult with you being up there in heaven and me being here and all….

I miss your cuddles the most. The ones where you’d pull that face and extend your arm and say: “Come here kiddo, it’s gonna be ok” and you’d pull me close and wrap me in a bear hug and kiss the top of my head. Somehow, that used to make me feel safe and protected no matter what storm raged around me.

I don’t get hugs like that anymore, no one in my life seems to be ‘huggers’ like we both were. I’ve taken to sometimes hugging my teddy in my bedroom because none of my kids care for the kind of hugs that I need.

Pathetic right?

Yeah, well …

OK.

I guess it is what it is.

*shrug*

I really miss your words too, I miss being told that you thought I was beautiful, and smart, and clever, and when you told me what a brilliant mother I was, I believed you. I think that’s because you were (and still are) the only man in my life who never ever hurt me. You were the only man who was brave enough to show me all your emotions and your love was never conditional.

Sure, I was often difficult, and unreasonable and often moody, but your love for me never waivered.

I’m going to start running again this year, I have a lot of pesky kilos that have sneakily crept onto my frame and this year I’m going to be kinder to myself. It’s time to stop making excuses and look after my own health and my mind better than I have done to date. I was pretty neglectful of me in 2015 and that really needs to stop. I need to do something for me – just for me – and not for anyone else. It’s my turn this year.

We just finished another Christmas.

It was hard.

Christmas is always hard now you’re gone. I miss your ‘Dad jokes’ and the way you’d have to stretch those paper hats to their capacity to get them to stretch over your big ol’ noggin. I miss the silly selfies we’d take together long before selfies even became a thing. Way before iPhones existed and Instagram and Facebook were even invented.

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I miss the way you’d get so excited – just like a little kid – when you opened your gifts and how you would drive us all crazy with anticipation as you felt every square inch of your gift trying to guess the contents before removing a single piece of tape.

You’d shake it and turn it this way and that, and smell it before finally deciding to open the damn thing and put us all out of our misery!

You saw it as part of the fun of Christmas. You really were a big kid at heart. And that was one of my favourite things about you.

I loved that you were the only person who could pull me out of a bad mood successfully. You wouldn’t stand for my grumps and you’d call me on it every time. But you did it with a tenderness and compassion that I’ve never found since. You were the first person to ever tell me when I was being a bitch, and you will probably be the only person who would get away with it even to this day!

Grief, is a funny thing. I’ve learnt that it’s not just a matter of going through the seven stages and then being miraculously cured for the rest of time. No, grief is very much a cyclical thing. The cycle I’m currently in is a painful one, but I know that I’ll get through it because, I always do.

I thought I’d be doing better by now. I mean, it’s been almost 8 years since you left, but there are still a LOT of days that leave me struggling to cope. I spend a lot of time and energy pushing people out of my life because I’m frightened to let anyone close again.

Pretty screwed up hey?

Anyhow, it’s time to take another step forward. Time to throw myself at God’s feet (again) and let Him continue the healing process.

I’m ok, don’t worry about us. Mum takes great care of us all and I know she misses you as much as I do, but we understand that it was your time to go.

It just sucks is all.

Have fun running through those streets of gold and stay out of mischief.

Love you Dad,

Your Fi xx