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.

 

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.

The Brick Wall

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THE BRICK WALL

I wanted to write this post to attempt to fill in the gaps for family and friends regarding the goings on with my kids and specifically with my youngest son *Lucas.

I know that a lot of you (particularly family) rely on me writing about this stuff to keep you in the loop and I’ve been terrible at staying on top of this blog. Partly because I’m kinda busy lately and any spare time I do have is usually taken up with kid stuff and also because it’s all a little overwhelming and I am trying really had to not be all doom and gloom and come across all negative. Because, let’s face it – that kind of writing is as depressing to read about as it is to write it.

I also want to thank those of you who have been constant with their prayers and encouragement because that’s what has kept me afloat these past few months. It hasn’t gone unnoticed and I am so very appreciative of it.

So, *Lucas:

He hasn’t been very well at all, mentally, and towards the middle of last year he took a very steep downward spiral and like his older brother did at the same age, he became suicidal and majorly aggressive. Not to other people but mostly through self-harming. I won’t go into details for his privacy but suffice to say that there was no way that I was going to sit back and let this monster take over my baby in the way that it had threatened to do with *Harley only a few years earlier.

The first step was having a meeting with his school counsellor and principal and through them I was put in contact with a family referral service.

The family referral service then helped me find a child psychologist who specialises in autism and mental health disorders and have also helped fund these visits as it is a private practice and unbelievably expensive.

During July, I asked my Mum to move in with me for the entire month because I was falling apart and the magnitude of trying to hold down a job and parent special needs kids just about sunk me. I am SO thankful that I have her and honestly: I don’t know what would’ve happened had she not been able to step in and help me dig myself back out. She has been a constant support since then and has held my hand through every step of this harrowing process.

*Lucas’ Paediatrician put him on the same anti-psychotic meds Harry is on, only he doubled the dose after it not having the desired effect.  I still failed to see much of a change in him (apart from marked weight gain which is one of the ghastly side effects of the drug) so I have been gradually lessening the dose until we can find the right balance. Now, he is holding at a lesser dose but he is also undergoing intense therapy so that probably as a lot to do with it as well.

I have just started attending a “parenting challenging behaviours” course that was strongly recommended to me by his psych and after battling my own reservations about this- I went for the first-time last Thursday night. And I’m really glad I pushed past my own junk to go because I can see that the next 8 weeks are going to be the equipping and empowering that this worn-out mother desperately needs.

(My reservations mostly centred around feeling quite hurt and affronted that my parenting skills were being challenged and judged because I felt as though it was somehow my fault that I was once again dealing with the head mess that is out-of-control children).

But I posted a little something on Instagram about this and received some really encouraging comments that helped me to get over myself and realise that it was the best course of action for me to take.

So, the course: I wrote down a ton of notes on Thursday night (none of the other parents did – I think they were a bit confused by me but I know how forgetful I am and didn’t want to walk away not remembering vital information). And I have decided that I will write some blog posts in the next few weeks outlining what I have taken away from the workshops so that I have an online copy of this as well as the scribbled notes in my journal.

Also, because the internet (particularly autism parent-written blogs) are the first place I go when I have a question about behaviours or development and there’s a chance that reading this might help some other parent out there on their own 3am google fest.

(I need to mention that this information is not my own and if you would like to know more about the group of professionals that are teaching this, please email me and I will send you their details. I just don’t want to publicly give away my location so that I can protect my kids).

 

What I took away from Thursday night was “The Brick Wall Analogy”

I have always wondered why the meltdowns and tantrums in my boys seem SO much worse now that they’re older. I mean, when they were 2 -5 (typical developing children’s usual tantrum age) – they would lose it and although their episodes could sometimes go for hours on end, they were shorter and less intense than the episodes that I’m seeing in them now that they’re older. And that didn’t make sense to me at all? Because I thought that they were something that kids just “grew out of” or learned new ways to self-regulate, and they do.

But sometimes, they don’t.

And that’s where the brick wall analogy came in.

All walls are built with a foundation. Some foundations are strong and sturdy (nurturing, loving, typically neurologically wired) and the base for the child’s development is solid. But some foundations are a little weaker. (Illness, trauma, abuse, disability, neurological difference etc)  and though the foundation is weaker – it can still hold a wall because the foundation learns to shift to make allowances for these things (because it’s all it’s ever known).

Over the years, the bricks of learning and development and life experiences are laid one by one until eventually there is a very tall wall that is now strong enough to withstand the onslaught of life’s issues that most adults are equipped to deal with.

But in some children with learning difficulties, neurological disorders, trauma, illness, abuse, disability, situational grief (and a vast list of variables) there are bricks that are either not laid or they are damaged.

Sometimes these bricks are things like self-regulation skills, social skills, language skills, motor skills (gross and fine) and the bricks that are not laid for whatever reason don’t appear to be too much of an issue when the wall is still toddler or child height.

But the taller the wall gets (the older the child becomes) the more that the missed bricks in the wall begin to show their weakness and the more that the wall becomes unstable and noticeably different to other walls.

It starts to sway more because of the missed bricks and the force on the wall; like a strong wind (“life happenings”) cause the wall to take much longer to stabilise.

Now, all is not hopeless, A wall can have the missed bricks patched up later by an experienced brick layer, (child mental health professional) but it’s important to note that these patches will never be as strong as if the brick was correctly laid initially in childhood. Still able to hold the weight of the wall but the more bricks that are missing – the greater the repair job and the more unsteady the wall.

And that’s often where the challenging behaviours begin. The child is missing vital bricks (in Lucas’ case it’s self-regulation and social skills) and right there is how I can now zero in on exactly what my boy needs.

Does anyone else find this as fascinating as I do?

I walked away from the first session feeling as though I had hope for the first time in a very long time and once again – I’m SO glad that I went.

Anyway, I went and got my hair all fancy at the hairdresser this morning and I’m about to go get ready for a girl’s night out with a group of friends so I will leave it here and wish you all a fabulous weekend.

Fi x

 

 

Not that kinda mother.

img_7617There’s a certain kind of clarity that comes from being 40. Well, er – 41 actually but I’ve stopped counting. I have decided that I’m not going to get any older, Ima stop right here at this age.

Well, last year’s age, but you know what I mean.

And by clarity, I mean, self-awareness. I seriously could no longer care less what other people think of me.

Yeah, that’s a lie too. I WISH I didn’t care but my emotions preeeeetty much rule this girl.

Yep. Always have done- probably always will do.

And that’s ok.

Anyway – as I was saying, I’ve learned a lot about myself in these past few years and I’m gonna write about it here so I can read back on it the next time I’m in full blown self-hatred mode and rediscover why its ok to be me.

Firstly – I am aware that I am different to most mothers. I am not great at the whole example setting thing.

My teenaged daughter is usually the one telling ME to mind my language and it’s usually her asking ME to get a grip when I lose it. And my boys have seen me in a puddle of tears on the floor holding onto a glass of wine for dear life and then been there to comfort ME more times than I care to admit.

But here’s the thing: my kids know they could rely on me to be there for them no matter what happens, and that I will love them regardless of anything that they could ever say or do.

So I’m calling that a win. I’m not always perfect, but my love for them is.

I may not always operate in complete coping mode but I am capable of being what they need when they need it most and that’s what is most important.

I don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to parenting but I do always apologise when I stuff up.

That’s also important.

Secondly: I’m a better mother when I spend (a metric crapload) of time away from my kids. And THAT’S ok to admit too. It doesn’t make me a bad mother; it makes me real. Not all mothers want to spend every waking moment with their children climbing all over them and obsess about every tiny aspect of their children’s lives. We are all different. I for one go stir crazy when I’m not afforded enough “Fi” time.  And the result of that’s not fun for anyone. BELIEVE me. Working outside the home with long hours is what keeps me sane and helps teach my children the independence that they may not have learnt had they not have been forced into it. I’m not gonna feel guilty about that anymore either.

It’s wonderful that some people can post all over social media about how much they LOVE school holidays and simply ADORE having their offspring home and post album after album of beautiful photos of the amazing artwork, craft creations and outings they have done with the neatly dressed, intelligent, well behaved children, – but that’s not me (or my children) either.

No.

Not even close.

It’s taken me a loooooooooong time (and I’m not there yet) to be ok with the fact that I am not like those mothers.

I abhor craft, I don’t have an artistic bone in my entire body and going ANYWHERE further than the corner store with two autistic boys makes me want to stab myself because it is a hell that most people won’t ever fully experience.

And here’s why:

My kids have zero executive functioning skills. Know what they are? They are the skills that allow kids (or adults) to exercise mental control and be able to regulate themselves.  These skills are easily learned and eventually instinctive in neurotypical (or normally wired) individuals and most kids have them down pat by about ten years old.

And by self- regulate I mean, to be able to make decisions for themselves, to instinctively understand what is expected of them in public places and to know how to self-entertain, behave appropriately and in their own best interest.

Put simply:  because my boys are autistic and don’t yet have these skills mastered, a simple outing usually ends in one or both of my boys hitting/punching/kicking/poking/slapping each other in the nether region or screaming out something to the tune of:

“I’M BORED AND HUNGRY AND I HATE YOUR HAIR MUM AND YOU SMELL LIKE BUTT AND YOU’RE THE WORST MOTHER EVER BECAUSE YOU WONT BUY ME A NEW GAME AND WHY CAN’T I HAVE THIS CHOCOLATE AND WHY CAN’T I GO TO THE TOILET RIGHT BLOODY NOW AND WHY CAN’T I GO HOME WHERE MY PLAYSTATION IS BECAUSE YOU KNOW I HATE GROCERY SHOPPING AND WHY ARE YOU SITTING IN THE CORNER OF THE SHOP ROCKING AND SOBBING MUM WOULD YOU LIKE ANOTHER WINE?”

Or, you know, something like that.

And when I remind myself that most mothers stop dealing with toddler tantrums at around the age of 5 and that I am still dealing with them in 10 and 13 year olds I remember to stop comparing myself to the mum who took her four beautifully dressed children on a thirty six-hour car trip to see the beach on the other side of the country and stopped at every boutique café along the way because that isn’t – and will never be – my life.

Plain and simple.

It’s not even comparing apples and oranges but instead comparing apples with mutant kiwifruit cross bred with an exotic rambutan and bitter melon (they’re real fruits – google them).

But I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. Just don’t judge me for not being even close to having my ducks in a row.  In fact, living this ridiculously insane existence has afforded me a sense of humour that I never knew I had before, and it’s taught me to never ever EVER take anything at face value.

There is ALWAYS more going on in everyone’s lives than what they post on social media.

I’m learning not to compare my off-the-planet home life to Susie homemaker and have come to the realisation that not everyone is as brutally honest as I am.

I may scare a lot of people off with my honestly because it’s often confronting and raw and uncomfortable, but it also filters out anyone in my life who isn’t willing to stick with me through the darker days and has shown me who I can trust and who only wants to be my friend for what they can get from me.

So thankyou to anyone reading this because it means that you’ve stuck by me and I love you and appreciate you more than I could ever convey.

Have a great weekend all. I am spending mine taking my son to the hairdresser to fix up the home hair cut he gave himself (those darn executive functioning skills to blame again).  Or lack thereof.

Haha.

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?

On being yourself.

 

A quote was shared with me earlier this week. It said:

“Love is not just tolerance. It’s not just distant appreciation. It’s a warm sense of “I am enjoying the fact that you are you.”

And oh my goodness, how that spoke to me. Because, I know that I’m quirky, and odd and obsessive and a bit manic at times and that I’m often unreasonable, had to manage and extremely emotional.
But this my friends, this is me. This is what makes me me.

I have spent months analyzing friendships that have dissolved and relationships that have become strained and every time, and in every situation, I have blamed myself.

I have agonized over past conversations, pulling apart entire monologues in my head and I ended up wasting days, weeks & in some cases: months wondering if things would have gone differently had I have handled things another way.
I tried to change me to fit other people’s moulds and tried to alter my personality to fit in with crowds who never really wanted me in the first place.
I told myself that if I were less needy, less emotional, less talkative or even less “present” that I wouldn’t be as frustrating to people and that I’d be more likeable if I tinkered with the parts of me that frayed other people’s edges.

But all that did was strip me of what was quintessentially “Fiona” and it left nothing but heartache, desperation and despair. It made me forget who I was and I could no longer recognise myself for who I am.

Because after you peel away all of the smiles, and the hard outer shell and the mask – you find what’s really inside of me. You will find the depression that lingers despite the medication and therapies I’ve endured, the grief of losing my dad that just wont go away and the constant overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and fear that goes hand in hand with raising autistic children.

It’s all still there but increasingly I am learning that this is the way that God made me and I don’t have to be like anybody else (and I don’t have to be perfect either) to be accepted. And the good news is that I don’t have to stay this way. I am a work in progress and God is slowly bringing the people who I need in this season into my life to speak into me and pray with me and love me through my heartache.

He is healing me and growing me and that ALWAYS hurts.
Jesus wasn’t accepted by everyone when He walked the earth and He certainly didn’t change who He was to suit other people. He just loved them wherever they were at in their lives and served them with grace, mercy and a love that I will never perfect in my lifetime because I am human to the core.
Jesus accepts me just as I am. I don’t have to always be rational or have my life together and I certainly don’t need to pretend that I am tough, in control or managing every aspect of my life. He can see through all the fake and knows the real deal anyway. Plus- He died for me despite all my junk.

I am learning (albeit slowly) that just because other people don’t talk about their hurts, their fears and their shortcomings that it doesn’t mean that they don’t have any – it just means that they aren’t as open or candid about it as I am.
I will probably never find the answers to why some of my relationships dissolved or discover why certain situations ended the way that they did, and although I believe that I have forgiven, it is still hard to forget and move on. But as a very close friend reminded me today: It’s because of unanswered questions that we find faith.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 

Beauty Will Rise

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Springtime has long been linked with new beginnings and the end of a cold, dark oppressive period. (The winter) I was looking over some old letters today (because I’m very sentimental like that) and came across a beautiful ditty in a card that my best friend’s Mum wrote to me about this time two years ago. It still very much speaks to me.

It’s in the winter that the trees shed their leaves, and look bare and even unattractive.  However, under the ground the roots are drawing nutrients, growing bit by bit, and becoming more secure and able to hold the following spring’s “leafed tree” more securely afterwards.  I remember telling myself MANY times: “In the winter, the roots go down.” Spring is on its way!!!

I was reminded of a song written by Steven Curtis Chapman following the untimely and accidental death of his daughter Maria.

The tragic loss almost caused him to quit the music industry and give up completely. But during the grief that he endured in the many painful months afterwards, he wrote the song “Beauty Will Rise”

‘Cause I have seen the signs of spring

Just watch and see

Out of these ashes,

Beauty will rise

And we will dance among the ruins

We will see it with our own eyes

Out of this darkness

New life will shine

And we’ll know joy is coming in the morning

He didn’t give up nor did he allow difficult and painful circumstances to shape him or dictate how his future was going to be.

He chose to allow beauty to rise from the ashes of death both physical and metaphorically.

It is September and the first official month of Spring here in Australia and I am starting to see new life sprout in the form of progress in my children and a new hope for my future. During the winter periods the roots DID in fact go down, in fact, they went down very deeply. They have been drawing nutrients and life saving water reserves and already I’m starting to see newer and fresher foliage appear.

 

 

Psalm 1:3 He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water. That brings forth its fruit in its season. Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

 

I can’t help but be excited about whats in store for us.