13 Phrases a person estranged from their father does NOT need to hear this coming father’s day …..

 

We live in a society which understands it is acceptable to go no contact with a partner when the relationship breaks down. A society which understands that friendships can also fall apart and no contact is too an option; but we are yet to live in a society which understands that relationships with family members can also break down and that we have every right to give ourselves permission to choose to go no contact with them, in order to steer ourselves into a more fulfilled life.

I chose to estrange myself from my parents and with that choice I was forced to view my siblings as collateral damage; something which still causes me heartache today. That decision was the hardest decision I have EVER had to make! Please believe me when I say that I exhausted every other option at the detriment to my own well-being.

It is heartbreaking enough having to accept a life with the absence of my family. Having to accept my side of the story will never be heard from their innocent ears. However for the sake of my own sanity I HAVE no other option but to accept this. What I cannot accept and will not accept is the stigma associated with family estrangement. The judgments people make, and the “pearls of wisdom” they tend to share around family holidays such as father’s day, in the hope that they can help me fix something which is irreparable.

Estrangement is not an easy topic for people to understand. Largely down to the lack of research and training conducted in this area. Which is why I believe that these “pearls of wisdom” do come from a kind and caring place. My only request is that you please think before you speak to someone whom you know is estranged from their father this upcoming father’s day:

  • “THEY ARE STILL YOUR FAMILY”

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Thanks for stating the obvious! I am fully aware they are still MY family. THEIR BLOOD RUNS THROUGH MY VEINS! Plus my reflection in the mirror reminds me every  damn day! Just because they are my family DOES NOT MEAN  I have to endure the toxicity of the relationship.

  • “I’M HERE IF YOU NEED ME”

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Granted this is well meaning in it’s intention but through my own experience the people who have said this to me are the people who could not really commit to helping me through any stage of my grieving process. Actions speak louder than words and the people that were truly there for me were the people that gave me their time on my low days. The people who sat with me and let me cry on their shoulders. The people that forced a hug around me when I was trying to be strong and said I did not need one but saw that I did and therefore gave me one anyway. The people that heard the words behind my words.

  • “DON’T YOU FEEL BAD THAT HE WON’T SEE YOU ON FATHER’S DAY?”

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Thanks for bringing that up! NO I do not feel bad. In fact I feel terrible. I feel like the worst person in the world.

  • “I AM SURE HE STILL LOVES YOU”

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I am not just sure of this. I am certain of it. I know my father Loves me that is what makes this whole situation so much more painful. It’s just the love he and my mother have for me is a possessive and yet suffocating love. A conditional Love that forces me to become a conditioned version of myself. A type of love I will no longer accept because I am worthy of an unconditional love.

  • “I AM SURE YOU WILL WORK IT OUT”

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Making my decision to estrange myself from my family and force myself into a grieving process was not a decision I made as a short term solution. Please do not be so disrespectful to assume it was an easy option! Moreover if by “work it out” you mean continue running on the same hamster wheel I have been on the past 25 years then YES I too am sure we will work it out!

  • “I BET HE MISSES YOU”

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I miss him too. Every single day! I too am sure he misses me however he misses who I WAS. Not who I AM. He misses the version of me who lived in the shadow of what he and my mother wanted me to be. The version of me who CONFORMED.

  • “COULDN’T YOU JUST GIVE HIM THIS ONE DAY?”

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NO, NO ,NO and NO I couldn’t! Believing that you are worthy and deserving of an unconditional love takes a MASSIVE investment of your time and energy. Hours of therapy and self-love is needed! Working up the courage to go no-contact is not EASY. It is not a default option. One conversation can DESTROY any progress somebody makes.

  • “I AM SURE HE ONLY WANTED WHAT WAS BEST FOR YOU”

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Well that makes everything so much better! Thanks for that! I should have stayed wrapped in the cotton wool they forced round me then and never escaped from the shackles they strapped onto their apron strings?

  • “SURELY YOU MUST HAVE SOME GOOD MEMORIES?”

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I have plenty of them. Hand on heart I do. My wish is that all of the good memories I have could supersede the horrific treatment I endured. Could supersede the level of deterioration my mental health suffered due to their actions………. BUT THEY DON’T!

  • “MAYBE FATHER’S DAY IS THE RIGHT TIME TO WORK ALL THIS OUT?”

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Why is father’s day any different to any other day? Can I also ask why the onus is on me to reach out? I tried and I tried with my father and I made myself a promise for the sake of my own health that I would stop trying. Please do not compare my life to an unrealistic reunion scene from a cheesy blockbuster movie!

  • “WHAT DID YOU DO?”

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Why you think you have a right to know I do not know! Why villainise me in the situation? Whilst we are here though …. I grew up, wanted more for myself and MY life. Didn’t want to live the life they had planned out for me. The veil had been lifted on their way of living and I did not want that for myself….WAIT WHERE ARE YOU GOING? COME BACK THERE’S MORE!

  • IT’S JUST ONE DAY TO RESPECT THE LIFE HE HAS GIVEN YOU”

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If by life you mean EXISTENCE then cheers, thanks Dad! I have given MYSELF a life. A fulfilling one with passion and purpose! 

  • ” LIFE IS SHORT”

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YES, YES IT IS! which is exactly my point so thanks for stating the obvious! Plus here is a fun fact we only get one! Therefore I am not going to spend my life going round and round in circles with my parents. I wish my dad could be a part of my life I really  do but until he understands the reason why I had no other choice but to choose estrangement for myself and takes a long hard look at himself I will continue living MY LIFE!

I chose estrangement when my quality of life was completely non-existent. Please be mindful of the judgements you make of people’s choices when you do not know what options they had to choose from.

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Surviving A Fatherless Father’s Day ….

Do you know that feeling when you see something you weren’t prepared to see? That feeling of surreal shock, quickly followed by self-judgement because why on earth had you not prepared yourself? You knew it was coming, it comes round every year. Why would this year be any different? It felt almost as if all of the stores, online companies, TV and social media advertisements decided to start their marketing for father’s day in unison. 

It was a normal day for me, I was out doing some shopping for the week and WHAM …. EVERYWHERE and I mean everywhere I seemed to look there were fathers day cards addressed to “THE BEST DAD EVER” hot drink mugs for the “NUMBER ONE DAD”. Banners, Balloons, party hats and over the top dramatic shop-front window displays. I look to my phone for a way of escaping this overwhelming feeling boiling inside of me and PING I receive an email informing me to “get ready for father’s day …. shop today and save”. There was no way of escaping it.

I am aware my perception of this is down to my personal experience. Anyone with a supportive father who loves them unconditionally would have a very different opinion to my own. I feel that it is important to acknowledge that:

Your Projection is Your Perception”

Meaning that the movie reel you are playing in your mind- will be the reality you perceive in your life. What we focus on we create whether it is good or bad. The way in which we perceive our life’s circumstances will determine how we respond to them. What you are projecting internally is what you will be perceiving externally. So change it, not the experience as that cannot change but change your experience of the experience.

Father’s day will never cease to be a lucrative time of year for companies, and these emails and adverts have not set out to deliberately hurt me. It is important to remind myself of that when I feel those feelings burning inside of me. Self-awareness has given me the key to the room playing the movie reel (my mind). By being aware of how I am feeling and taking care of myself in those troubling and sometimes scary and painful moments, I give myself the tools to change the story, to change my perception. This is MY LIFE, MY STORY, MY BOOK, MY MOVIE. I am the author, director and even the publisher. I’ll never let anybody write my book again.

“EVERY PROBLEM BEGINS AND ENDS IN YOUR MIND. WHAT YOU GIVE POWER TO HAS POWER OVER YOU …. IF YOU ALLOW IT”

I have had no contact with my dad since 2017. I love my dad and I miss him everyday. I long for the day he accepts accountability for his actions and changes the way he is as a person and a father. Unfortunately I can no longer leave my movie on PAUSE waiting for that day. I get one life just as you do, please do not spend it waiting for a day you are not guaranteed. Therefore I press PLAY. I continue turning my own pages. Writing my chapters. Of course my story is not as I would want it but ask yourself is anybody’s? Who am I to feel hard done to because I wish my life was different?

The absence of my father in my life causes a mixture of sadness, anger and guilt. I am sad for the way our relationship broke down. Sad for the loss of my father. Sad for the hole in my heart that cannot ever be filled. Then angry at the reasons why the relationship broke down. Angry at the life I have to lead now in order to protect my own sanity. Then guilt because I second guess my decision most days. Second guess whether or not the relationship truly is irreconcilable. Second guess whether or not I could have tried harder, endured a little more…….. When father’s day comes around all of these thoughts and emotions intensify.

How to handle and survive a fatherless father’s day then:

  • Acknowledge that the TV advertisements and shop-front windows are not true representations of a father daughter relationship, they are merely focusing on the view through rose tinted spectacles no relationship is perfect. Remind yourself that they are marketing ploys aimed at selling a product or service to their customers.
  • Avoid social media on Father’s day- it will only be filled with loving posts of friends and loved ones expressing their love to their father’s- something you are unable to do and will no doubt make you feel worse seeing others that are able to make these posts.
  • Create your own tradition-  we all have hobbies and interests that make us feel good- make today a day you dedicate to investing in yourself. Take yourself on a day out, book a spa-day, mini break, get lost in a book or a movie, work on a scrapbook of memories filled with happy times with friends and loved ones. Whatever it is DO IT!
  • CELEBRATE YOU- you have climbed mountains, crossed oceans, dragged yourself out of dark tunnels and smashed through the ceiling of the dark, lonely, terrifying pit you fell in. Why not make today a day you celebrate such an achievement?
  • Write your dad a letter- DO NOT SEND IT- just get all those thoughts and emotions out of you and onto paper and then seal them in an envelope. You can keep it or you can burn it. It is YOUR choice.

The process of letter writing has helped me immensely, not because I want to reach out to my father, I tried and I tried with my dad, I exhausted every avenue imaginable. Estrangement was not the default option for me. It was the only option I had left. I tried relentlessly to help him to see things from my perspective, from my point of view, through my own eyes. The truth is he will only EVER see his version of events. Even if it is in black and white in front of him. He will only see his movie reel. Just as my projection is my perception his is too. The letters are therefore not to make my point for the hundredth time, or to encourage him to change but writing these letters is cathartic and I am entitled to my emotions just as you are, so write the letter and move on with YOUR day!

  • Reach out to friends and loved ones- be mindful that today is a day where you will be feeling more vulnerable than usual and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that, you are going through a grieving process, give yourself permission to lean on the people that do care for you. I will be spending the evening with my friends who are also estranged from their fathers.
  • Try to not focus on that hole in your heart and instead focus on how filled the rest of your heart is. How fortunate you are to have the people in your life who love you unconditionally.

 

Remember Grey sky’s do not last forever. No matter how painful father’s day may be just like any other day it only lasts 24 hours. YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT.

The effect estrangement has when a family member passes away.

My great aunt sadly passed away just before Christmas 2017. She was 90 years of age and often said she wouldn’t change a single part of her life! She was very special to me and I often spent afternoons with her drinking tea with evaporated milk, eating cake and far too many Werther’s originals! She would share with me both the stories and the lesson’s of her life. These tales I had heard hundred’s of times growing up but they were still just as enjoyable the hundredth time as they were the first time because I got to see her face light up as she would tell them.

She loved her family so witnessing the estrangement between me and my family hurt her. She loved both my parents and I very much. To protect her I never told her the full extent of the treatment I had endured from my parents. I never wanted her to be put in the middle or forced to choose a side. My parents loved her just as much as I did. I never wanted my aunt’s opinion of my parents tainted due to how they had treated me. Although she always knew there was more to the story and would often tell me that she knew I wasn’t telling her everything. She was a wise lady. She knew I was holding back with the best of intentions.

My aunt often reassured me that my parents did love me, but it was a “suffocating love”. This helped me to begin to understand why my parents treated me the way they did. It was unconscious to them I guess.

The last thing my auntie told me was “you’ve tried hard enough with your parents, you need to stop trying. You need to focus on your life now, you are going to be okay it’s time for you to spread your wings and fly”. She always spoke the wisest of words and she was always right! I believe she left me at a time she knew I was strong enough to live without her.

Hearing the news of her passing was painful, and surreal. I was glad to be in the company of my cousin’s. The tears would not stop falling, but that is grief and I can accept and process that. What I cannot accept is the uncontrollable amount of fear I was overcome with in not even an hour after she had passed away. Fear of coming face to face with my parents at her funeral. Immediately thinking not to go and pay my last respects to this extremely special person. Fear of crumbling in front of the two people who are solely responsible for me falling into one of the darkest places I have ever been, a place I live in fear of ever returning too.

I have not just been broken by these people, I have been shattered. I watched my world fall apart around me at the hands of them. The past 8 months had been challenging for me, working on myself, finding myself, facing demons I never thought I could and making some of the hardest decisions in my life to date. No wonder I was terrified, it’s a completely natural response to fear coming face to face with people who hurt you so excruciatingly. To Fear all your hard work coming undone. To Fear slipping and falling back to where you have been. I needed to protect myself now more than ever!

Being estranged effects every aspect in your life! Just look how my focus shifted from grieving to needing to protect myself. Within 48 hours I had a plan of action ( I will share in a later post) I needed that plan to ensure I would be okay on the day.

At one point in my life my parents were the lions. They were the king’s of their kingdom. The leader’s of their pack. The hunters I feared. But I am no longer in that place in my life. I set myself free and therefore I was not going to allow fear to stop me paying my last respects to someone so special to me.

I have grown through what I have gone through, and in order to survive I had to become the lion tamer. The lion tamer still fears the lion just as part of me still fears my parents but they still have the courage to stand in a cage with the lions just as I have the courage to stand in a room with my parents in order to pay my last respects to my aunt.

My parents had taken everything away from me It felt at one point. One thing they can never take though is the truth of this story. That is something I treasure, it is my greatest weapon and also my strongest shield.

YOU also have your truth. keep hold of that, and focus on that, it is your bulletproof armour wear it everyday!

 

Surviving a motherless mother’s day ….

Just as I feel like I have recovered from Christmas with the societal focus on family WHAM mother’s day hits! Another challenge I have to face, another hurdle I need to cross another mountain to climb! You know what? I am exhausted it seems like a constant test, a constant fight, the longet game of snakes and ladders ever and sometimes I just don’t want to play anymore! Being estranged you do not have the luxury of choice. You have to play because if you don’t play you lose. It is far too detrimental for me to lose.

“Everything is shouting at me this time of year to show my mother how much I care. Tv adverts, shop front window’s, leaflets, posts on social media. It is impossible to avoid and ignore them all.”

Personally the run up to mother’s day is harder to cope with than the day itself. I notice a lot of changes within me on the run up, I am grateful for the gift of self awareness that enables me to see these changes and act upon them. I acknowledge not everyone is as self aware so I have listed the main symptoms hoping if they resonate with you, you too can act upon them.

  • My inner critic seems louder and more dominant than usual.
  • I experience a lot more anxiety.
  • I am restless.
  • I doubt myself more and as a result I question myself.
  • I struggle to focus.
  • I am more lethargic than usual, more drained and less energetic.
  • There is a lack of enthusiasm. I come across disinterested and disengaged.
  • I struggle to sleep.
  • I struggle to focus.

Pretty tough right? Now try balancing ALL of that alongside full time study, part time work and life in general. How do I do it? My answer is simple, I have no other choice.

Being estranged you learn to rely on nobody other than yourself. Only you know how resilient you are, how strong you are and how much YOU can cope with. Only YOU know how’s best to deal with your current experience, only YOU KNOW what your triggers are, what your warning signs are and ultimately only YOU can pick yourself back up when you fall. Sure you LEAN on people, but you’ll never RELY on them. This is YOUR life, YOUR show, YOUR book. Everyone that plays a part can leave at any time or when the going gets too tough. YOUR stuck here. I have learnt the hard way to never NEED anyone again.

I reclaimed my Christmas it was empowering. I am going to reclaim mothers day too. Cards are very important to me, I enjoy sending cards, writing cards and choosing cards. They are a momentum you can keep and pull out on difficult days. So the idea of not writing my mother a card this year regardless of her treatment towards me is excruciatingly painful. How will I combat this then? Simple I am going to write and send cards to all my friends who are mothers that make me feel proud when I see them with their children.

“As much as I miss my mother, and hate that she will not have a card from me this year on mother’s day, it is far too detrimental for me to reach out to her, I can sit comfortably with my decision of estrangement.”  

Mother’s day will be a challenging day, I am going to feel an enormous amount of emotions and there will be a lot of surprises therefore it is imperative that I have a plan of action to help me cope on the day! You know what else I know though? That I will get through it, that I will get to the end of that day. You know how I know? Because I have got through EVERYTHING ELSE! I am strong and resilient and I’m fine not feeling okay all the time. I am a human being and I loved my parents I could just no longer endure the toxicity of the relationship and I gave myself permission to love myself enough to remove them from my life!

“I can survive mother’s day without a mum.”

This is how I will keep myself safe:

  1. Plan ahead- I will avoid social media today- it will just be filled with posts of friends honouring their mum’s this will be far too difficult for me to process.
  2. Start the day with a jog this is how I start every day, It helps me to feel good about myself, it helps me to feel more enthusiastic towards the day it wakes me up and makes me feel more present and connected to myself.
  3. An abs workout- my new years resolution was to have more definition on my stomach I am going to focus on my goals.
  4. Login into my headspace and enjoy a mindfulness session with a hot coffee. It’s important today of all days to be present with my thoughts and feelings.
  5. Draw myself a bath with bubbles, oils and scented candles. I will relax and ease any tension that may be building up.
  6. I’m going to get dressed! I will wear something I look and feel nice in, I’ll do my hair and make-up I will look and feel fabulous! A quote I LIVE by “no matter how you feel, GET UP, DRESS UP, SHOW UP AND NEVER GIVE UP.”
  7. REACH OUT TO FRIEND’S OR LOVED ONE’S-  I have arranged with friends that if I feel I am struggling to cope I will reach out to them.
  8. I am allowed to have feelings so I am going to feel them! I am going through a grieving process, grieving for a family still alive is a type of grief I would not wish upon anybody so no matter how I feel on the day I’m going to let myself feel it whether its pain, anger, hurt, upset, it is okay to NOT be okay. Once I have felt it I’m then going to let it STRENGTHEN me!
  9. I am going to write my mother a letter. Not one which will be sent to her. But one I will write, seal and post into a box filled with other sealed letters and cards for her and my siblings- the process of transferring the thoughts from my mind on the day onto paper and sealing them in an envelope helps me MASSIVELY- I am not a horrible person I also want to wish my mother a happy mother’s day in that letter.
  10.  I will appreciate and celebrate my “cheer team” the friends I regard as family, my loved ones who have been behind me cheering me on and picking me back up every step in my journey and the new ones who are only just learning of my story but cheer me on when I achieve something else!
  11. I am going to celebrate ME on Mother’s Day- I have endured and survived a lot! I have fallen into a very dark place and dragged myself out of there! Picked myself up time and time again! I have lost my spark in the past and then rose as the whole DAMN fire! I have played the hell out of the cards I have been dealt why would I not celebrate a woman such as this?

So scrap mother’s Day! Happy YOU Day! You pulled yourself out of a dark place and everyday You stop yourself from falling back there! This is YOUR day! Keep yourself safe, allow yourself to feel, appreciate the GOOD people you have in your life, and most importantly CELEBRATE YOU! 

YOU ARE INCREDIBLY STRONG, RESILLIENT AND BRAVE. YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION PLEASE DO NOT EVER FORGET THAT!

My Mum’s Birthday.

Being estranged events such as my mothers birthday ALWAYS cause me anxiety on the build up and the day itself. I start to feel guilty weeks, and sometimes months in advance because I will not be seeing her. As empowered as I feel making my decision of estrangement and giving myself permission to remove people from my life regardless of the role they hold in it. Special events like birthdays always make me question myself. I HATE that! Sure when I look back and remind myself of the treatment I endured I quickly snap back into reality however those seconds of second guessing myself can sometimes feel like hours. I am only human and this is a maternal bond between daughter and mother. Regardless of her treatment towards me I still care for my mother and would never wish any harm to come to her. I just simply can no longer endure the toxicity of the relationship with her for the sake of my own sanity and safety. The love my mother has for me is a conditional love but also a suffocating love.

I notice my sleep being disturbed on the run up to her birthday, because I am worrying and overthinking things. I notice a lack of enthusiasm towards things I usually enjoy like running and baking. It is more trying to get out of bed in the morning. Do you notice though I am aware of these changes within myself? Confirming I am still the one in control here.  My body is showing me I am processing something and I need to take extra steps in taking care of myself. I respond by doing just that! I go on my jogs regardless of whether I run as far as I usually do or not the point is I am still out running releasing those endorphines and feeling more energized. I will go to bed earlier and lay with my thoughts. Or write my thoughts in my journal and get them out of my head. I will talk to my wonderful friends and cousins about how I am feeling which really does help! I will run myself a hot bath with nice smelling bubble bath and candles. Or I will get lost in a book and you know what I feel okay! I will never become overwhelmed with my thoughts and emotions again because I have learnt from my past. Everyone has different self care rituals and that is okay just do what works for you!

I acknowledge that it is okay for me to feel the way I am feeling this is my mother, it is her birthday and I won’t be seeing her or writing her a birthday card. The love I have for my mother is unconditional no wonder I feel the way I do on the run up to her birthday! I think I also fear slipping back into the Dark place I fell around events such as birthdays. It is imperative to me more than ever around occasions that I protect myself. Self awareness is key.

On the day of my mothers birthday, I was extremely upset. I ran 3 times that day. Jogging through my emotions, through the pain. I reached out to friends. I ran a bath and wrote in my journal. These rituals were not working the way they usually do. I was getting frustrated at myself for getting so upset over someone who hurt me so excruciatingly. Questioning why I was so upset about her.

what did I do?

I wrote her a letter. I think I just wanted to tell her how I was feeling. Now I have no idea where my mother lives nor does she know where I live however I wouldn’t be sending this letter. I mean what I say when I made the decision to not have her in my life anymore. That door is staying closed. That bridge is burnt. I merely wrote this letter, put it in an envelope and put said letter in a box. Instantly I felt relieved. It really helped me to write to her rather than in my journal. I wrote it envisaging her reading it. In the letter I told her I was writing to her on her birthday and explained exactly how I was feeling that day. How upset and confused I was. Then I wished her a happy birthday and hoped that regardless I wanted her to have a nice day. I told her what my birthday wish was for her and I am quite comfortable sharing this wish with all of you. I wished that her birthday was the day that she looked in the mirror and finally realised that the problem was never me. That I am not disposable to her and that in fact I am irreplaceable. I wished that she looked in the mirror that day and realised that the problem was always her.

My Reclaimed Christmas- New York 2017

I remember the nerves walking through the airport. I was apprehensive about how my “reclaimed Christmas” was going to “play” out. I realise apprehension is completely understandable and if anything a natural response to an event such as this. I am different now. I am ME. You grow when you walk through all your dark tunnels. I have come to accept my family situation. Accepted that it isn’t my fault, and that I am powerless in changing them (my parents). My experience of estrangement has taught me that only YOU can change YOUR life.

Arriving In New York was surreal. The yellow cabs were lined up outside the airport waiting for all the tourists itching to explore!

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My first ride in a yellow cab!

I found it bizarre how familiar New York was to me! The taxi driver played a song. It was Taylor Swift- Welcome to New York. A verse from the song struck me “Everybody here was someone else before, welcome to New York it’s been waiting for you”. It resonated with me, I was somebody else before, I was the conditioned version of me and I have finally given myself permission to be me!

I was walking the streets of NEW YORK! ME! Everything about the place just screams diversity. Walking around the iconic department store Bloomingdale’s in complete disbelief. They had dressed the store to revolve around the film the greatest showman.

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Bloomingdale’s dressed the store to fit the theme of the greatest showman movie.

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Complete disbelief that I wasn’t dreaming and i was really shopping in Bloomingdale’s!

I had not seen the movie at this point. One of their window displays struck me. They had taken lyrics from one of the songs from the movie.

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Window Display In Bloomingdale’s.

The lyrics and quote really struck me that day. Before I flew to New York I had been interviewed on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show discussing how I would be spending my Christmas when I was estranged from my family. Sharing my story so publicly highlighted I was no longer scared to be me. No longer was I going to apologise for being me and nor would I live in the shadow of the person someone wants me to be.  The window display encapsulated all of this. Then when I listened to the song itself it just felt as though it was written for me! Music has always been a coping mechanism to me, I think that’s because in life we learn that time removes people but music will always remain. This Is Me Lyric Video from the greatest showman movie.  New York was more than a holiday to me. It was progress. It was me reclaiming my Christmas. I have learnt that when the pain of staying is greater than the fear of the unknown you find your wings.

Last Christmas I remember rolling over and going back to sleep when I woke. This Christmas was different. I woke and jumped out of bed! I wished my friend a merry Christmas. I took in the view from my hotel window. I was feeling good. Very different from last year. This shows growth and true strength and resilience. I am not the Brogen I was last year.  My friend and I exchanged presents and got ready to go out for a New York breakfast….. WAFFLES! However I was mindful of how I would be feeling today and I regularly checked in with myself to ensure that I kept myself safe.  I regularly participate in mindfulness sessions I find these help me to remain present with myself.

The moment that I saw the Rockefeller tree, was a moment that took my breath away. It is a memory nobody can ever take away from me and one that I will treasure. I had to give myself a moment to take all of this in! That moment I thought of my siblings and how many times we wished to see that tree. I long for the day I can show them my photos and share with them my story of that day.

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Christmas Day 2017 Seeing The Rockefeller Tree.

A decision I made was to not have a Christmas Dinner this year. The thought of sitting down and having a Christmas Dinner without my family was too much to comprehend and I gave myself permission to say No. Instead I had a NEW YORK hot dog from a hot dog cart in TIMES SQUARE! Christmas day wasn’t easy but I did enjoy it! I feel empowered overcoming my fears of a Christmas without my family.

I have been a prisoner of my past. No longer will I look back and feel bitter about my journey. My journey has enabled me to find out who I am and what my purpose in this thing we call life is. Looking ahead to 2018 I am going to continue to grow and strengthen. A song written by a band called The Script really encapsulates this vision I have.

The Script Written In the scars. Be proud of all your scars, be proud of your story it’s making you who you are. one verse that really hits me “those lines on your face tell a story of how you became you …. you get fire proof going through hell”. Everything you are feeling and experiencing is strengthening you, preparing you for what comes next. Just trust the process.

Estrangement- Finding Me

Estrangement, such an intense and somewhat harsh label isn’t it? Who decided on that label? Who decided to identify themselves as estranged? Who even thought it was possible and acceptable to become estranged? These are just some of the many questions I asked myself in the very beginning. They did however get one thing right and that is the pronunciation of estrangement to say the word we hear the word strain! And my experience with estrangement has been a strain! My life over the course of the disownment  has been a series of ups and downs of highs and lows, twists and turns almost like a roller coaster and as Ronan Keating once famously sang we’ve all got to ride it haven’t we? And it is so true regardless of what was going on for me at that time the sun still set and then still rose the world kept turning. Life still continued even on the days I didn’t want it too! That was the daily battle wanting it all to be over and being completely powerless to the grip it held on my life. Correction, thinking I was completely powerless. Through my healing process I have become more self-aware and resilient. Lyrics taken from Louis Thomlinson’s song “just hold on” got me thinking “where do you go when your stories done? You can be who you were or who you’ll become” true my estrangement story isn’t done however the negative suffocating and desolating hold it had on me is. I am turning into the person I wish to become from my experience and that is a person who inspires others. This story is tiringly convoluted however I want to share it. I feel I have a story worth sharing. A story I hope will resonate with many people all at different stages of their estrangement. But also people who are not estranged I want to raise awareness and an understanding of estrangement. I hope that through sharing my story I can make a difference to people’s lives. I hope that, my story could have the capability to entice even one person to speak up or ask somebody for help. To make people aware that they’re not alone that it’s okay to feel completely and utterly heartbroken, shattered and to ask yourself constantly why me? To even wish it upon somebody else! And not feel bad in doing so. And to hopefully begin to alleviate that stigma that is associated with estrangement. I want to restore people’s hope. Hope that there really is light at the end of the tunnel that even in the darkest of moments we all have a light within us to guide us. It’s very easy to focus on the negatives when we are in a state of incongruence. It’s also very easy to ignore the point in which it ends. I’m sure we’ve all heard the nursery rhyme about the magpies? “One for sorrow, two for joy etc.” well I believe your mind-set can be compared to this. It’s very easy to focus on the one magpie representing sorrow. You see one magpie and begin your pity party, however magpies are birds that remain in pairs year round therefore if you just take the time to look around you’ll see the two magpies representing joy. You just choose to only see the one. My point is this…. Even on the darkest of days there was always something positive. I just chose not to see it.

I love my family they were a very big part of my life as any family is to somebody I don’t hate my parents. Hate is such a strong word for such a weak emotion and over the course of the past 2 years I have come to learn that a wound can’t heal if hatred keeps it open.

Would I change anything about the past two years? Would I wish the estrangement away? My experience has shaped the person I am today! It has enabled me to grow. To become more self-accepting. I love my family but to hold onto something so toxic and detrimental is dangerous. Not just for me but also the people around me! My siblings included. Many times I have wished for things to be different, thought about Giving in to my parent’s demands but that is me continuing to be the conditioned version of me and not my true self. Therefore no I wouldn’t change the past two years because through becoming estranged and through losing people I never thought I’d lose and through a series of catastrophic events I found ME. I smile as write that.