My Blog

An Open Letter…

My darling Beth.

My one and only.

The only person who will ever call me Mummy and I will answer with silent butterflies in my tummy every time you call my name.

I am your Mother, the one who carried you for 9 months, who spent 12 hours trying to bring you into this world in the safest way possible, the one who watches you silently when you are sleeping and has little conversations with you whilst you are in deep slumber, you always answer with “I love you too Mummy” even though you have no idea what I have just said and nor will you have any recollection of it in the morning.

You are the one who my heart beats for, the one person who has heard it beat from the inside, not even realising that was the first song you ever heard. That beating rhythm was the sound of my love for you, the song of a Mothers love for her unborn child. You are the one person who makes my heart feel whole, you are the one who can piece it all back together when I am shattered yet you are also the one who can quickly break it.

Last night, that’s what you did. You broke my heart and you didn’t even know it.

I brought you into this world to do good things, to make a difference in this crazy place we call life. And you do. You do it everyday. So why my darling, why can’t you see this? Why can’t you see how special you really are?

There is a magic about you Bethany Emilia. There is a fire in your belly and a twinkle in your eye. You have a magic ability to make people feel at ease, some would call it a gift even. You have a fierce spirit about you, a wild heart yet so kind and pure. You are the most loving soul with a nurturing nature, a need to look after those you love and a constant desire to protect them. You are a girl with so much character and I can honestly say, you are a complete enigma. A rarity.

Last night when you broke my heart, it wasn’t because you did or said anything wrong. It’s because you said the words I never wanted to hear you say…

“But Mum, listen to me, I can’t, I’m not clever or intelligent, I’m just thick. I’m not good enough”

My heart shattered in that very moment because for the first time, you and I weren’t on the same page. For the first time, my words of reassurance weren’t enough for you, I couldn’t make you see how special you are. I couldn’t make you understand that you are good enough, that you are more than good enough. For the first time, I was in this battle alone, I couldn’t pick up the phone to your Nanny and ask her to get through to you because I know that when you don’t listen to me, you hang on her every word, she’s not here any more and all you have is my word, and my words just weren’t enough.

There are people in this life who sail through. They breeze through school, the pass every exam with distinction, they fall into a good job with a high income and they just keep sailing. And then there are the others, the ones who have to work extra hard at school, the ones who apply everything they have to pass those exams, that have to fight for every opportunity, that have to fight for everything they can. And, there are some, who sit in the middle, and there is never anything wrong with being in the middle, in fact, there is nothing wrong with any of those people. Because at the end of the day, we are all just trying to get by in life the best way we can, we are all enough.

You at an a testing age right now, an age where the possibilities are endless but the stress is there. Your teachers drill it into you that good grades will get you good jobs, they tell you that the day you sit your exams will pave the way for your future, they tell you those grades mean everything. And you believe it. Because they said so.

Your teachers only know what they see in the classroom, they don’t see you when you are in the car singing “Sweet Caroline” word for word, they don’t see it when your siblings tell you to shut up because you’re out of tune and tone deaf, they don’t see how it makes you sing even louder. They don’t see how you come home from school and tend to your rabbit, how you nurture him like your baby, how you make sure he is clean, fed and watered, how you ensure his little hutch is safe and warm. The don’t see you sort through your washing into colour piles and pop it into the machine with vigour. They don’t see you pick up the hoover and clean the house for us before we come home from work without being asked. They don’t see how immaculate your bedroom is, how your drawers are organised into sections all neatly arranged and in order. They don’t see you go write lists every day of the things you need to do each day so you don’t forget anything. They don’t see you pick up the phone to your Grandad every couple of days to make sure he’s ok, that’s he’s eaten and that he’s not lonely because Nanny isn’t here. They don’t hear you on the phone to your brothers when you reassure Gianluca that it’s ok to be himself and you embrace his love of dramatics, they don’t see you nurture little Alex when he’s tired and needs a cuddle, they don’t see the way Lyla looks at you in awe because she wants to be just like you when she grows up, they don’t see how George sees you as his best friend even though you fight like cat and dog. Your teachers don’t see you cook a mean pasta or make a grand cup of tea just the way your Nanny liked it. They don’t see you commit ourself to dance lessons twice a week and work your little feet off despite the fact co-ordination and rhythm aren’t your forte yet at ever show you’ve done, you’ve breezed it as though you’re Beyonce. They don’t see you set little alarms so you are never late for anything. They don’t see you go to work on a Sunday every week or how you spend your wages buying thoughtful gifts for everyone. They didn’t see you cry when you saw an ambulance outside a poorly neighbours flat a couple of nights ago even though you barely know her. They don’t see you count your money and organise your spending priorities. Your teachers don’t see how thrifty you are or the people that come up my door because you have sold something you no longer use and put the profit in your money jar. They don’t see you rearrange your bedroom every week or how you constantly redecorate it with gusto. They don’t see what I see.

I see a girl who is beyond her years, a girl who will make it through life with or without grades because you are already paving your future without even realising it. I see a girl who has built up all the skills needed to be an independent woman in a big wide world. I see a girl who will one day raise a family and be the kind of Mother every child deserves. I see a girl who has team building skills, organisation and time keeping management. I see a girl who works as a team, who leads the way and is looked up to. I see a girl who shows empathy and understanding to others, who embraces everyone for who they are and encourages them to be the best version of themselves. I see girl who is communicator, a listener and a team player.I see a girl with determination and strength, a girl who will fight hard for what she wants and will always find a solution.

I see in front of me, a young woman unfolding who will be as successful as the rest all because you fought hard to get there. I see a young woman that I am proud to call my daughter.

When the time comes to enter that big world of work, your potential employer isn’t going to care about the hours you spent annotating Act 1 scene 4 of Inspector Calls, he won’t care about Volcanic Ash and the role of Wing Attack on the Netball Court, he will care about you, and what you can bring to the table, and, my baby girl, you bring so much. You bring it because your are more than enough.

Stop telling yourself you aren’t enough, that you’re not intelligent or clever because you are. You so are. You have everything it takes to be a successful employer, or an entrepreneur, a CEO or an Ambassador of a global organisation, you have everything it takes to be whatever you want to be.

Don’t let the next two years drag you down because you are so focused on getting those grades, whatever those grades may be you can only do your best, because your best is good enough. Because you are good enough.

Remember that.

You were brought into this world to do good things, and you do them baby girl. You do them well.

All my love “Chica Bella”

Mama. Xx

RAGE – The blog version.

I barely listen to the radio these days, not for the lack of trying, but for the lack of time.

Today however, was a game changer. I managed a whole ten minutes by pure fluke. Ok, so it wasn’t exactly the proper radio, more of a “watch this interview with Liam Gallagher and Greg James” video on my Facebook feed but, it was radio all the same.

I spent ten minutes watching this video clip when I should have been dancing with the shake n vac, hoovering wonky lines into my carpet and singing the latest Latin Vibe chart topper in my best Spanish Accent, trying my best to speak Spanish but probably asking “how much man can I buy with this onion?” instead of whatever it is they actually are saying. I digress majorly but, back to my point, this was the funniest ten minutes of my week. I was watching Liam Gallagher being interviewed by Greg James for the weekly “Radio 1, Rage” feature. I could explain how it works, but instead, I’m feeling inspired to blog my own version of RAGE. Hopefully, you’ll get the picture.

We all have those niggles that are bound to annoy us, things people do or say that literally wind us up. Here are just a few of mine, it’ll be interesting to get to the end of this post, look back and see if I need to start googling anger management.

Things people say or do to put me in a rage….not a big one, just a little.

Firstly, I’m with Liam. Macdonalds. I do not expect to sit parked up in Bay 3 for ten minutes, waiting on two happy meals, six nuggets and a strawberry shake, just to get all the way home and find I have no straws. Sort your shit out drive through window 1.

Cashiers. I don’t mind engaging I conversation with the cashier at Lidl. It’s never an issue having a conversation with anyone, In fact, I enjoy it. That is, until they start examining my groceries and giving a running commentary, item by item. Now we can talk about my Mini Battenburgs and my Kung Pho Chicken meal for one no problem, but when she starts discussing my panty liners, we have a serious issue. Listen Carol, I buy “discreet” panty liners, discretion starts with you, so scan the item and move onto discussing my readily prepared cauliflower. Please. By the time I’m ready to pay, I know all about her bladder weakness too and how her Aunty Mary had a sling type thing in her vag (or near enough) because even a yawn had her wringing out her gusset.

Fence Sitters/People Pleasers. We all know one, maybe even a few. But do you have the pleasure of knowing a double whammer? The fence sitter who changes their opinion based on the majority vote. You know the ones, you’re sitting discussing the best biscuit dunker, you say digestive, I say rich tea, but not our Karen. No, Karen likes to dunk her hobnob. And so sparks a debate, you and I are firmly sticking to our beliefs but Karen doesn’t like the tense debate and quickly switches sides faster than you can let out a sly fart in a supermarket. And before you know it, Karen is a quivering wreck, tell you she agrees with you but the second I look at her, she’s back on side leaving her poor hobnob trailing in a sea of crumbs.

Dropsies. People who knock things off the shelves or rails in shops and don’t pick it up because “that’s what they get paid for.” That’s just not how it works people.

Crumbs in Butter. There is just no need to leave bread crumbs in the butter. Wipe the knife and move on. Stop contaminating my Anchor Spreadable. If I wanted to eat your toast, I’d take a bite!

Peeing on the seat. Because no enjoyable wee started with a wet arse cheek.

• Hot Ears. As someone who has a serious phobia of my ears being anything less than sub zero temperatures, anyone who so much as nudges my ear is straight on my dick list. (The dick list is not a wish list for the young and single, it is in fact, a list of dick heads that I keep a mental note to avoid)

Jobsworths. Yes Roger, we know you’re a retired refuse collector but I don’t need a lecture every time I put a cardboard box in the wrong bin. And yes. You can call your mates at the council and let them know I’m smuggling rubbish. Do as you please.

Empty Packets. There’s nothing more soul destroying than thinking “great it’s Friday, that means no more pack ups this week, which means I can have the last mini roll,” only to find that yet again, someone, I mention no names but we have three of them, has left yet another empty packet in the cupboard. As a responsible parent, I can only hope that in future, in 50 years time, this isn’t still the case when it comes to the last condom in the packet, otherwise Houston, we have a problem.

• Fake Laughs. If it’s not funny. Don’t laugh. Seriously. Don’t waste your time. You look, and sound, like a dick.

• GP surgery’s. All I can say here, is that ten minute automated message. Press two for an appointment. Presses two. Waits in queue for half hour. There are six people ahead of you. Finally gets through. Sorry, no appointments left, please try the same time tomorrow. Meanwhile, it’s another 24 hours sitting googling my symptoms feeling adamant I have Ebola.

Only. That one word. When you ask someone where they’re going on holiday and they answer “Only Dubai for three weeks, where are you off to?” and you answer, “a long weekend in Skeggy, shame your only going to Dubai.” Mutters under breath “I hope it rains every day”

• Miss Worlds. Or not quite. But the ones who know damn well they’re beautiful and strut like they own that bit of Earth. You compliment them and tell them they’re stunning, they say “No I’m not, no, no, definitely not” Ok Barbie doll, your pig dog fugly how about that no? Just take the compliment and stop milking it.

Bags. I used to get annoyed in Lidl, asked if I want bags when it’s pretty obvious I’m not going to carry all 372626 items of shopping in these two borrower sized palms, but now I know it’s law to pay for them, I get why we have to ask, but, what I don’t like is the cashier making me feel worse than I do for asking for yet another bag because I can’t fit all my items into one. Of course I care for the environment but this is not the Krypton Factor here.

* Disclaimer. Before anyone comments that this would never happen in Waitrose, yes darling, it does.*

And finally.

Those FB statuses. A certain person…I’m so upset….Certain people need to know…Who? What’s wrong? “Nothing I want to put on Facebook Hun.”

I just can’t. Delete and Block. Pronto.

So there we have it. My very own blog version of RAGE. I feel like I’ve got a few things off my ample bosom this evening and now I’ve read it back, I’ll hold off the anger management sessions, I don’t think I’ll be alone with these thoughts.

So tell me. What gets you in a rage?

Emma xox

Find Your Happy.

So I’m two weeks into my new job and I’m actually enjoying it more than I thought I ever would. I’m working with a great team of people and the opportunities are endless if you work hard for them. I am at the happiest I’ve been for a long, long time.

Why do I feel like I need to shout that from the rooftops? Well it’s simple, because yet again, someone has mocked my depression. Had it been five months ago, it would really have upset me, but, this time, I think the shock made me more upset as it came from “family”, yes, the family I walked away from almost two years ago. I wasn’t shocked at what she said as she’s mocked my mental health for years, I was more shocked that she’s still creeping around. I let it bother me for all of a couple of minutes but, this time it was different, because it made me feel glad I removed myself from the toxic behaviour and chose a path I wanted to be on.

People can mock my mental health all they like, having anxiety and depression isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s actually something to proud of, I’m not saying wear it on a sandwich board and shout it to the world (although why not, you’re a survivor and that’s pretty amazing) , but I AM saying be proud of the fact you’re a fighter and that you’re standing here today, fighting through another day.

Somebody asked me yesterday how I’ve got myself back into a good place again. It’s something I’d not really thought about before but something I feel, I would like to share.

My top tips on finding your happy…

• Stop surrounding yourself with people who don’t bring out the best in you.

I get it, it’s not easy, it’s hard breaking away from people that make you constantly miserable whether it’s family, friends, work colleagues or whoever, but, it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.

For me, in order to live the life I wanted without constant negativity, I had to work out who and what was bringing me down. Would I miss these people if I walked away or would I feel relief? Surround yourself with people who make you happy, people who love and support you, who encourage you and always see the best in you. Those are your happy people, they will become your happy place.

• Talk. It sounds so basic doesn’t it? Talk. Talk about what? Everything. There is nothing to feel guilty about in saying you’re not okay, there’s no shame in saying you don’t have the perfect background, there’s no wrongs in saying things aren’t right. Whether you talk verbally or whether you write these down, go hell for leather and do it. Because each time you talk, you’re letting go bit by bit. You’re letting those around know you need them and it’s a relief. Trust me, it’ll be a weight lifted.

• List your qualities. This was hard but, sit yourself down with a pen and paper and think of all the qualities you like about yourself, write them down. List all the qualities that other people have said about you that made you feel happy, list all those good things about yourself that you are proud of. It doesn’t matter how long the list is, so long as they are only positive. Read that list every day until you firmly believe them. Because you will. I wrote on my list that I’m a good Mother and StepMother, that I’m loyal, I’m a good partner and a good friend, I wrote that I’m transparent, I’m brave, open, strong and I make a great Victoria Sponge. There were lots of other things too and I was actually surprised at myself once I’d finished my list.

• Take a social media break. Social media is what we make of it. If we allow it to make us feel pressured then we will and it will consume us. It’s ok for people to have nice houses and a seemingly perfect life, who’s to say it isn’t? But these people are human, they may choose just to focus on their feel good and there’s nothing wrong with that, if it makes you feel pressured, unfollow. Sometimes, we try to fit in with the crowd and get sucked into buying things we don’t need all because Instagram made us do it, no, Instagram didn’t make you do it, you did. Take a break for a while. Leave all the social media alone and get back to the real world, ring your real life friends, go for a coffee with your neighbours. Live.

• Be kind. Do something good for someone else. Good karma exists you know. When my neighbour took ill, I rallied the community together to go and gut, decorate and refurbish his whole flat whilst he’s in hospital. Why? Because he was living in a way no person should have to and it made me see how lucky I am to have a nice, clean home to go to at the end of the day. I spent days in that flat and it now looks unrecognisable, I almost scrubbed my worries away. Doing good for someone else will make you feel good, I’m not saying be as extreme but even if it’s helping the homeless, or making a cake for an elderly neighbour. Doing a good turn will make you feel good inside, it’ll be a reminder that there are good people in this world and You are one of them.

• Sleep. When I was at my lowest point, I was an erratic sleeper, I’d sleep all day and not sleep at night, or I’d have nightmares. I went to bed with my phone in my hand and spent time looking through my social media.

Set yourself a bedtime and spend time gearing up for it, find a routine that works for you, just as you would work out a routine to get your children to have the best nights sleep. Put your phone away and allow yourself to switch off. I swear by Sleep Mist from Marks and Spencer’s, it’s a bargain at £5 but I’ve had some of my best nights sleeps thanks to this tonic. There is nothing worse than waking up tired so get the sleep you need so you can wake up feeling happy and refreshed.

• Back away from the phone. I’m so guilty of this and still struggle with it but now, on our days off, we take the kids out somewhere, usually it’s a nice countryside walk, we grab a bag and find pretty things to put in it, leaves, conkers etc, the phones come out only for photographs. Family time is family time and should be spent talking, laughing and exploring. When I’m out and about now, I forget my phone even exists. I just need to work on being away from it more in the evenings.

• Take some you time. Whether you go off to the hairdressers or whether you just go to a friends house for coffee. For me, I went to the hairdressers and went for a drastic new colour. It instantly made me feel refreshed and like I was ready to transform so many other things in my life.

• Prioritise your worries. Are they worries you really need? Can they be sorted with one quick phone call? What can you pass onto someone else to shoulder?

Limit your worries, try not to take on other people’s because quite often, it can drag you down too. It’s ok to listen to other people’s problems and help, but don’t be consumed by them.

• Remind yourself that you are enough. Do it every day. I spent so long thinking I wasn’t good enough to be a Mum, a wife, a friend. But actually, I am. And I’m actually a bloody good Mother, my relationship with my daughter is strong and one I am proud of. I’m a good StepMother and I know Paul’s children love me and look up to me, not everyone likes their stepparents (raises hand) but these kids do, and when they come home with hugs and chats about their day, I feel lucky to have nailed it. As for Paul, I’ve spent almost five years being the best girlfriend I can be, and, I have no doubt I am going to be a good wife to him. He’s happy, and I can see it, his friends see it and so does his family, he’s loved and respected and he gives it in return. We make a pretty strong team. As for my friends, they’re my family. They are the ones I chose and I couldn’t love them more. I’m enough for me, and I’m enough for them. That’s something we should always remind ourselves.

Finding your happy isn’t an over night cure, it’s a long, slow process but, once you’ve found it, you’ll keep looking for more happy. You’ll stop wanting and needing the negative shit because you know what it can do to you. I’m happy most days now. Don’t get me wrong, I have the odd bad day, but it’s not because people have upset me, I’ve left those people behind. My bad days are because we are still a grieving family, or because the orthodontist has cancelled yet another appointment and is taken the day off work. They’re bad days that I can control.

At Pam’s funeral, Beth’s Aunty Dannie gave me the biggest hug and told me through her red wine goggles something I will never forget.

It went a little something like this..

Emma, you’re a good Mum, you’ve got a good family now and a good life. You’ve got us and we’ve got you. Let the problems go, because problems create more problems. And when the problems create more problems, they make a spiral, and that spiral will keep going until it’s hard to get out of it. Let it go, let it all go”

And I think that was the moment, I knew I’d come through it, because I knew it’s what I’d done already.

And even though I was at a funeral for the one person I will always aspire to be, the Mother figure I’ve looked up to for 17 years, I was surrounded by a room full of love.

Dear John (walking away)

Dear John.

It’s never the kids fault when a relationship breaks down, we didn’t ask for it, we aren’t the ones to blame for it, we are just the ones who suffer when the two people who are meant to love us the most, can’t behave like grown adults and put the happiness of the humans you created first.

Take you and Mum for example. You didn’t work. I get that, and now that I know you both, I can see why. Mum has a temper, she’s vicious and she’s manipulative, she’s so consumed by the little world she’s created, she even believes her own lies. You? You’re arrogant and offensive, you’re the type of person who refuses to admit when he’s wrong and you’re a regular passenger on flight destination “Elevenerife”, you’re stubborn and you’re hard work, you don’t care about what you say and the people you hurt – especially me.

Put the two of you together and quite frankly, your relationship was a recipe for disaster.

But between you both, you had two daughters. When you called time on your relationship, my big sister and I became pawns. A six week old baby and three year old child, pawns in an adult game. You may both deny that, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Mum stopped us from seeing you although she allowed your parents access to hurt you, you’d spend very little time with us when we were with them but as we grew older, you’d ignore us completely and walk out of the room, but you kept tabs on us via the schools or family friends. You knew what was going on at home but you didn’t remove us from the situation and to be honest, I’m glad. Because now I’m able to look at you both and say that I don’t really need either of you. I’ve experienced both sides of the coin now and I don’t think I can say that either of you step up to the plate when it comes to being a good parent. A good parent would have taken us away from the situation, when you knew social services and schools weren’t protecting us, you should have stepped in. But you didn’t.

Do you remember when I was 26 John? I called you whilst I was pushing my daughter on the swings. You told me to Fuck Off. I waited ten minutes then called again. You said the same thing again. I gave up trying to get answers to the questions I was always going to want to know, until I was 32. I’d cut ties with my Mum less than a year before and decided to try one more time to find you, I did. I found you on Facebook and messaged you I don’t know how many times. Eventually you replied. It wasn’t the reply I expected, there was no elation, no emotion, just a bitter message aimed at my Mum, but, I ignored the passive aggressive undertones and arranged to meet you at Nans.

I thought there would be an emotional reunion, a long hug and an apology for being out of my life for so long, but no, a two second hug and a couple of hours spent bitching about my Mum. You didn’t ask my any questions about my life or about my daughter, you didn’t seem to want to know. I put it down to you being in shock perhaps, maybe even overwhelmed but no, fast forward almost 18 months and you’ve not changed a bit.

I used to call you daily, then weekly, now I barely call at all. Why John? Because when I call, I spend two minutes talking to you, then you pass the phone to your boyfriend and spend the time talking to him instead. And I don’t mind, I like Alan, he probably knows me better than you do, because he listens, and he asks questions.

Since the day I found you, you’ve never called me. It’s always me chasing you. When I come to visit Nan and you come over, or you’ve been to my house, we’ve never really sat down and had a proper conversation. In fact, we’ve spoken to everyone in the room but each other, it’s like we are two complete strangers, and that’s what we are, two total strangers connected only by a bloodline. I even changed my name back to yours in a hope it would make you want me more, in the hope it would make me feel like I finally belonged somewhere, but I’ve never hated a name more and, on the day I get married, I will finally have a name that I’ll be proud to carry, a real family name, from a family who love me and my daughter.

You knew I was off work with post traumatic stress and depression, you knew because yet again I rang you and told you, you didn’t really offer me any support and you certainly never called to check up on me from time to time like a good parent should. You were pretty shit to be honest John. I tried to defend you, tried to convince myself that it was because you didn’t know how to be a Dad, but when I think rationally, who does? There’s no manual to give us instructions the day we meet our babies for the first time so you really have no excuse. You just don’t have it in you to be a proper parent.

I got engaged recently John. I should’ve wanted to ring you and tell you. I should’ve wanted to share my excitement, but shall I tell you the honest truth? Only a month before, we had discussed the possibility of eloping just so we could avoid inviting you. And, on the day we got engaged and booked our wedding here in the U.K, we were excited beyond belief, but one of the first thoughts I had was “I don’t want to invite my Dad” do you know how that feels John? Not wanting your Dad there because I’m scared you’ll offend the people who have been there for me more than you have? Not wanting you there because I’m petrified of what you will say when the “Father Of The Bride” does his speech, because let’s be honest John, what can you say? You don’t know me. And I’m certainly not precious to you. I’m scared of you seeing me in my dress for the first time and walking me down the aisle because I know they’ll be no sentimental words exchanged, you won’t be telling me how beautiful I look or how proud you are of me because that’s not you. When I think of you at my wedding, I’m petrified you will ruin my day.

Instead, I’ve asked Paul’s Dad to give me away, and when I asked him, he beamed with pride and I didn’t feel scared or nervous about a thing.

I didn’t even ring you to tell you I’d got engaged because I knew you wouldn’t care, but I know you know because I rang Nan and told her, she didn’t congratulate us either. I knew she’d tell you so I waited for a call but that call didn’t come. So in the end, I announced our engagement on Facebook and let you know in the same way as most other people. We were flooded with messages but none of them from you, yet I know you saw it because you are on Facebook most days, don’t say you’ve been busy working John, if you can update your status, you can message me.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Pam passed away. I know you saw it, I know you know. But did you call your Granddaughter? Did you message her with words of support and condolences? No. Nothing. Beth needed you to step up and you weren’t there. You can hurt me all you like John but there’s one thing you need to know about me. I am a good Mother, I put my baby first and when she needs me, I’m there, if someone lets her down, you can bet I won’t give them a chance to do it a second time.

At the very beginning, I would cry happy tears after speaking to you because I’d found my Dad, I got excited when you hung up and said “love you too” but it didn’t last long, because I knew it wasn’t real. Now, the only tears you give me are sad and angry ones. I’ve toyed with talking to you about it but I know you can be nasty and nothing is ever your fault so I bit my lip – something that those who know me, know I struggle massively with. Instead, I’ve spent months waiting for a call, waiting for some effort from you and got nothing. Now I’ve given up. You’re not a Dad, you’re just a person in the background. A person I will keep being hurt by and more importantly, my daughter will keep being hurt by you. I can’t allow that to happen. I won’t.

I always thought my Mum used my sister and I as pawns against you, but now I realise it wasn’t just my Mum. It was you too. I strongly believe you only wanted me around to piss her off, because you know she’s not on the scene and it would eat her up knowing I was calling you Dad again. The only conversations you are ever interested in are the ones about my Mum and I genuinely believe that if I told you I’d chosen to allow her back in my life again, you’d be gone. Because for you, it’s you or her.

But let me tell you this John. Mum won’t be back in my life, ever, and after this. Nor will you. Because you both make me sad, you both drag me down and make me feel unloved and worthless. But I know my worth now John, I know I deserve to be loved and I am, I’m loved without question or conditions, I’m loved without having to make choices, I’m loved for being me. You can’t offer me that and that’s ok, I’m not angry anymore, I’ve added another notch on the bedpost of life lessons and as the cliche goes, it’s made me stronger and it’s made me a better Mother because I am never going to be the kind of parents you are. My daughter will grow up to be loved, she will always know that even though things didn’t work with her Dad and I, it was never her fault, she will always know she doesn’t have to choose and she’ll always know no matter what, we both always want the best for her. And, one day, when she gets married, we will stand together by her side, knowing that we were grown up enough to put her feelings before ours. Just as you and Mum should have done for the two lives you created.

You could have been a proper Dad to me John, and Mum could have been a proper Mum, if the two of you had just accepted your marriage was over and you had put your focus into raising your girls responsibly, as a joint effort, if you’d just put your hatred aside. Once upon a time, your hatred for each other ruined me, it left me feeling like I didn’t know myself and had to live my whole life choosing between you both. But now I know I don’t have to choose either of you. Because neither of you are worthy of my love, neither of you are worthy of my daughters love and neither of you are getting it. I’m not choosing between you anymore, because I don’t choose either of you. I choose to just do me.

Take this post as you will. No doubt you’ll accept no responsibility and I’ll be the bad guy for walking away. But whatever helps you sleep at night. It’s not me or Beth missing out, it’s you. You might see this as being harsh, but trust me, nothing is more harsh than being absent from a child’s life for almost 32 years and doing very little to repair the damage. We are done John, and this time, it’s not you walking away, it’s me, and I’m not coming back.

Emma

18 Year Old Emma.

World Mental Health Day.

I’ll never forget that first panic attack, the tightening of my chest that made me feel like I was having a heart attack, the way the walls felt like they were closing in on me, the way the ground felt like it was swallowing me up from under my feet, the headache that made me feel like it would combust at any moment and that horrible feeling of fear.

What was I afraid of at the exact moment in time? I don’t know. I still don’t know properly. I mean, I’m know fully aware of the things that trigger those feelings but, at that very moment in time, I had no clue what was happening but I knew something wasn’t right.

I’m 34 years old and those 34 years have been tough. I’ve experienced abuse, neglect, self loathing, DV, been cheated on, PND, single parenthood, debt, heartbreak, bereavement, family separation and estrangement, living on benefits, lost friendships, been shit on, anxiety and depression, a failed suicide attempt, infertility, a cancer scare, miscarriages, meningitis and early menopause. But the best part of it is, I’m here, I’m still standing.

Now some people might read that list and roll their eyes, some might think I’m revelling in self pity but that is so wrong. It couldn’t be further from the truth in fact. Why? Because I’m proud of the fact that I’m still here, still standing.

I want to share something with you that I don’t talk about to anyone and as I write this, I still wonder if it is the right thing to do, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I was 18 years old, it was New Years Day. Beth’s Dad and I had split up and I was on that rebound stage, I was dating a guy who I believed I’d fallen for – I definitely hadn’t, he’d taken a work placement in Italy and I was heartbroken. Why was I heartbroken? Because I was depressed. I was lonely and I felt that I wasn’t capable of being loved.

A few months previous, I made a stupid mistake, something I regret to this day and just couldn’t live with. I was unable to talk about it to anybody and I felt alone. Eventually, my family found out and I was giving another royal beating by my Mum, I was called all the names under the sun and left feeling like I had nobody.

I remember going to our local nightclub on New Years Eve. Alone. I celebrated the turn of a New Year drinking alone, dancing on the dance floor stupidly drunk and pretending the people next to me were my friends when I started to notice people realised I was out on NYE alone. When the clock hit midnight, I was sat in a toilet cubicle with my knickers around my ankles, drinking a Smirnoff Ice, crying my eyes out. I was 18 years old and had no friends, I’d been let down by the people who should have supported me the most and here I was, wanting to end my life but too scared to do it.

I stumbled out of the club and walked home alone. I got into the house and remember sitting down to write letters, in those letters, I apologised for being a let down, I apologised for not being good enough, for not being loveable, for not being the twin my Mum miscarried (although it’s recently transpired that I never was a twin and I’d been told for years it should have been me that died) I apologised for being a rubbish friend, a rubbish sister and daughter, I apologised for simply existing. And then, I fell asleep. Too drunk to even try and go ahead with my suicide attempt.

When I woke the next morning, I felt heartbroken, heartbroken because I’d failed to do what I set out to do.

I got in the shower and scrubbed myself, trying to rid myself of the thoughts that were taking over my brain. I got dressed, did my hair and made my bed. I put the letters on my bedside cabinet and walked around the house looking for tablets. It didn’t matter what tablets they were, I wanted them. Needed them. I was renting a room in a house and even went into the bedroom of another lodger and found all her medicines.

In total, I’d found 120 pills and so I took them all, washed them down with a bottle of Calpol, then lay on the bed, feeling like this was it. I’d be free. But then something hit me and in a split second, I realised I didn’t want to die. I was 18, I had my whole life ahead of me. So I called 999 and the last things I remember were having paramedics in my bedroom trying to keep me awake. They walked me down the stairs and by this point, my landlady and housemate were home and had contacted my Mum who was stood at the bottom of the stairs with my Great Aunt and as I cried, wanting my Mum to hold me, I remember her shouting because I’d ruined her day and I was a silly cow. Now maybe it was the shock but I knew my Mum and knew she meant it. I remember the paramedic taking my hand and sitting me up in the ambulance and then…nothing.

I don’t recall much after that, only that I woke up a few days later after very nearly dying.

When I was eventually brought home, I didn’t get any support. No help from counselling or professionals, no follow up appointments, I was back to my little bedroom, with no friends and by myself again. But I knew I wanted to live. And so I did. I spent a few months carrying on as if nothing had happened and before I knew it, I was back with Beth’s Dad and not long after, I was pregnant.

To this day, I believed Beth saved me. She gave me a purpose and a reason to live, to want to live.

So you see, no matter how tough my life has been, I know it does get better, I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I know that there are reasons to live even if you can’t see them at that moment in time. If I’d died that day, there’d be no Beth, I’d never have Paul and my step children, I’d not have my best friend and the people around me that I do now. I came out of it a fighter and I’ve fought hard for all the good things I have in my life now.

I believe that my mental health problems have always been there and will never completely go away, but I also believe that no matter how hard life gets, I want to be here to fight it and I never have to fight it alone.

Life is a beautiful thing, it’s precious and it’s a gift. Whether our life is all smooth sailing or full of constant battles, we are all here, still going strong. My past may be colourful and there may be lots of stories to tell, but my stories are my battle scars. When I hit a low point like I did five months ago, those battle scars remind me that it’ll never get worse than that, there is no test life could throw at me that I won’t find a way to pass. I don’t believe that I’ll ever be as low as I was aged 18.

So here I am now, 34 years old and I’m back at work again after a five month break to conquer my demons. Five months ago, I couldn’t leave the house alone, today I went to work for the second day of my new career, I introduced myself to new colleagues, went for a hot chocolate by myself and browsed around the shops, I laughed, I joked and I smiled. I’ve been happy today, and as I write this, I’m looking forward to all my tomorrows.

It’s important to know that you never have to be alone. Depression can make you feel like you have nobody even when there is a room full of people wanting to help you. It can make you feel like you’re losing even though you’re winning at life. It can also make you the best liar. Telling people you feel fine when really you know you’re not. And that is why is so important to talk to someone, anyone. To reach out and ask for help, whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, a partner or even someone you talk to in social media. Take that step and tell someone how you feel, it’s only when you say it out loud that you are on the way to recovery. It’s a long road and that’s only the first step but it’s the biggest, hardest one. There are so many people that care and I can honestly say, that these few months, I’ve found so much support in the kindness of strangers,I’ve realised there are people who care, and some have cared for me more than I cared for myself at that time.

So, on World Mental Health Day, as we talk openly and honestly about how we feel, how we’ve felt, and encourage each other to do the same, I know one thing, whatever life throws at me, I will never be 18 year old Emma again, and if I can help someone else by writing this post, hopefully it’ll help another person who feels like I did.

You are strong. You are brave and you can definitely do this.

Emma

P.S : If you do feel you need someone to talk to and you feel alone, use my contacts page to get in touch, sometimes, we just need that one person to talk to.

Time.

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It’s that one thing we take for granted most of all isn’t it?

How many of us avoid making that call to our family because we know we’ll be on the phone for too long and Strictly will be on in ten minutes? How many of us rearrange a visit with friend in favour of doing it tomorrow, not for any reason, just because we can’t be bothered and assume we  even have a tomorrow? How many of us pick up that extra shift at work because we think we need to buy that one extra Christmas present but it means missing out on ‘yet another school assembly that we’ve all seen before?’ How many of us have lost a loved one and been left feeling like there are words left unsaid, and why? Because we thought we had time.

On September 20th 2017 at 9.15am, the beautiful, kind, loyal, devoted Grandmother to my daughter and Mother figure to me, the Mum I always wanted, closed her eyes and peacefully passed away with a smile upon her face. Her battle with cancer was over and it was her time to take her place as the Mother of all Angels. Pam was my role model, she was everything I wanted to be and more. She was the kind of Mum and Grandmother who gave her everything and would have given more if she had it but the one thing she gave wholeheartedly, was time.

Pam was kind, she was patient and she was a listener. Three things that often require the gift of time, and boy did she give them. Why should kindness take time some may wonder? Surely kindness comes naturally? And yes, it does. But Pam went beyond that. She would show kindness to people she had never met before, stopping to make conversation with random people in the street that others wouldn’t have given time of day to. She would show kindness to every injured animal or insect she could – a couple of days ago Beth’s Dad and I joked that she would be like Noah up in Heaven. She would show kindness to people that others often prejudged and would make her own decisions. She would show kindness to her family and friends and would give the shirt off her back if she could.

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When Beth was a baby, I was severely post natal, something that even now, I don’t think many people understood but Pam was my Angel, she took the reins and practically raised Beth for the first few years when I lost my way and struggled to see a way out of it, that was , until she sat me down over a hot cup of tea and talked to me about what was going on inside my head and why. I poured my heart out to her regularly and told her about those PND demons that took over until that switch turned from off back to on. She was patient, she listened, she guided, she advised, she nurtured and she helped me. She showed me how to be a Mum and she was patient as I learnt. In my darkest days when I struggled to be around Beth, Pam was there, holding me up yet I didn’t ever really see just how much. She would stand for hours rocking Beth to sleep patiently, she would sit and teach Beth all about the flowers in the garden and never once grumbled when Beth would rip one from the ground to put into a potion. She would play the same game repeatedly with Beth because she knew it was her favourite, never once did she moan about have to go grocery shopping at Mr Tumbles shop in the back garden and spend all her money on plastic vegetables. She was patient and she was wonderful.

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If Pam had something she wanted to say, she never left it unsaid, granted, she would bite her lip on many occasion but only because she didn’t feel it needed to be voiced because to Pam, being angry or speaking out of turn was a waste of time and, if her words couldn’t change a situation, she didn’t waste her time trying. Time was something she held dear to her.

Losing Pam has given me a bit of a wake up call and I’ve taken time out to stop and reassess my life, where I’m going and what I want to do with it.

I’m a time waster, I spend too much time worrying about the things that don’t matter, the things I can’t control and although I know I will always be that way because it’s part of my make up, I have to start to look at these things that don’t matter and question whether or not I want to waste my time focusing on so many negatives when there are far more postives waiting for me?

At times, I think I almost look for problems. I have never had any qualms with walking away from people who don’t add to my life or bring me sadness but then I spend too much time still dwelling over it, worrying that I have done the wrong thing because people will think badly of me, worrying that I’m worrying in the first place. What I need to do is remember that I walked away for good reason, now I have to focus on what’s right in front of me. If I feel my time is too precious to have them in my life, then I don’t need to waste my time keeping them in my mind right?

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Now I’ve never been one to get splinters in my arse, I’m not backwards in coming forwards and have always been proud that I speak my mind, some appreciate and some don’t but I also know that sometimes I say things when I could just easily save my breath and walk away, I don’t need to waste my time retaliating when people aren’t kind to me, I don’t need to respond to people looking for an argument and I certainly don’t need to constantly feel like I’m having to justify myself. All these things are simply a waste of my time. They create problems that don’t need to be there because I am capable of walking away and giving my time to those who deserve it. I’m a kind person and I want to show that kindness to those who deserve it, not the people that bring out the worst in me. Sometimes, letting go is easier than devoting my time to negative people. I want to make sure that from this day forward, I don’t leave anything left unsaid so long as it’s for the better.

Tomorrow I go back to work for the first time in almost five months. I won’t lie. I’m scared. Scared but excited. The anxiety is still there but not half as bad as it was previously. Being off work has given me a bit of time to find who I am again, to work out what it is that matters to me and where I want to go with my life. It’s been an opportunity to be home when Beth comes back from school and when Paul gets home from work, it’s given me more time with them than I’ve ever had before. I’ve had time to get to know them all over again and it’s been a pleasant learning curve, even with the anxiety and the dark days.

Previously, I was guilty of always picking up extra hours, more so in the care industry. I saw the extra money as opportunities to do more but was never around to actually enjoy it. I missed out on parents evenings and family meals, I missed out on being there when I was needed the most and what for? Because I believed I had time to do it all another day. The sad fact is, we don’t know how many other days we have, we think we have our whole lives ahead of us but the reality of it is, we don’t know that for certain, nothing in life is a given. I’ve learnt that I don’t have to take those extra shifts if I don’t want to, that working a fourty hour week is enough and, when I function in the added travel time to and from work each day, that’s an extra ten hours on top that I’m away from them. Being at Beths parents evening is much more important than that extra shift, that extra two hours travelling and then coming home too exhausted to listen, too exhausted to show the children patience when they want to tell me about their day and too exhausted to deal with their bickering by doing anything other than shouting. If I’m going to be a working Mum, I need and want to enjoy it, I need to manage my time better. When I clock out at work and my working day is done, that’s exactly what it is. Done. My time is then spent focusing on Paul and the children, not worrying about the next day or things beyond my control. My time is precious, I want to all the little things that I’ve had time to enjoy in the five months of not being at work and refuse to let anything jeopardise that. I also want to enjoy sitting with my head in Bridal magazines now we have finally set a date and booked a venue but more on that another day.

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Losing Pam has taught me so much and I feel almost ashamed that it’s taken the loss of someone who was so important to me to make me realise what matters the most. But, in my heart, I know Pam would be proud of this realisation because all she ever really wanted me to do was be happy, enjoy being a Mum and a future wife, to enjoy being me and be the very best version of me that I could.

Don’t let losing a loved one make you realise how precious your time is, be like Pam. A lady who used her time wisely, a lady who made those visits, who picked up that phone, who made sure everyone knew how loved they are, a lady who showed kindness, patience and spent time listening. A lady who didn’t waste her time on words that wouldn’t be able to make a change, a lady who didn’t surround herself with those who don’t matter. A lady who appreciated the gift of time, and used every second wisely because she knew that time isn’t a given. A lady that meant more to me than most people and, if I’d used my time wisely, I probably would have had the chance to tell her that more.

Emma

* For Pamela Evelyn Polo – I loved you like there was no tomorrow, then one day, there wasn’t. Sweet dreams. Until next time, I’ll be seeing you. xoxox

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Blogging : The Struggle Is Real.

Recently I feel like I’m really struggling to find my place when it comes to blogging.

Someone I follow on Twitter last week wrote a pretty bitchy tweet aimed at bloggers (which is ironic as she’s a blogger herself) In this tweet, she said something along the lines of

“Everyone’s a blogger these days, bore off, free loading or writing about depression doesn’t make you a blogger love”

This tweet wasn’t sent to me personally or anyone else for that matter but, it upset me as much as it would have if she’d actually @’ed my name in it. In fact, it went above upsetting me and actually has had me thinking about it non stop.

I can’t lie. I’m struggling big time.

Blogging is now such a popular little platform and I personally believe that there is room for everyone. Yes, we may all be doing it but, we all have different goals, we all have different views and we also have different styles. I firmly believe there is a blog out there for everyone and now, some of my favourite blogs are very much like sitting down with my favourite books, I look forward to reading the posts and gazing over beautiful photos, I love to read creative content and see how other people view life. In my eyes, blogging is very much a “more the merrier” world now and I like it that way. In fact, I’ve even encouraged a couple of people to start and have taken great enjoyment in reading their thoughts.

However, I feel like finding my place is tough. Real tough. I don’t have a niche or a particular style, I don’t produce amazing photographs – mostly because I have no idea what software I should be using or how to even work my camera properly (I’m forever in sports mode and I don’t know why) I don’t have the looks to produce a pretty photo of myself and I certainly don’t have an exciting wardrobe to create some amazing fashion shots, I don’t have the creative eye to be an interior blogger (my house is pretty boring in comparison to others) and my kids are too old for me to be a Mum blogger (plus I kinda feel like I’m winging Motherhood at the best of times so I can’t really dish out advice. All I have to offer is a small ability to write and, on occasion, I might be a little bit funny which always helps. I just don’t know where I fit in, if at all.

I’m also finding it really difficult to ask for help. For me personally (and please remember these are MY thoughts) when I have been given help and guidance, it’s always come from mostly, the gorgeous Northern Irish bloggers. Sometimes, I don’t even have to ask and they’ll offer me words of wisdom and encouragement, I honestly couldn’t be more grateful.

Lately, I’ve seen lots of blogging events going on but none have really appealed to me and the ones that have, seem to be by the seaside and I live out in what feels like The Outback in comparison. Again, the only event I really wanted to go to was one held last week in Northern Island and, when another is up and running, I’m boarding the next available flight. The amount of positivity I’ve seen on Instagram that has stemmed from the event has been so beautiful to see and I love how inspired accounts now are. The vibe on my Instagram feed has been so uplifting, accounts now really seem to want to take the bull by the horns and make their blog work.

I’ve asked myself lately what I want from blogging. Do I want to be a career blogger? No. Yes. No. I don’t think so right now. Probably because I don’t think I’m good enough and because going out to work and being paid a wage from someone else is all I know. Do I want to earn money from my blog? I’d be lying if I said no, I’ve now got a wedding to pay for after all and I’m pretty sure our gorgeous venue don’t accept payment in buttons, however, earning money from writing and blogging isn’t overalls important to me as I now have a full time job (I start in a couple of weeks and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be employed by a leading brand and getting to work amongst the latest trends) but, extra money is always a bonus.

Am I serious about blogging? Yes. Why? Because some of my best blog posts have been deeply honest and raw, I’ve written each post from the heart in a bid to hopefully help someone else realise they are not alone, to make people see that it’s ok to be skint, it’s okay to not be okay, it’s ok to be estranged from family and so on. I want to use my blog mostly to hope people. However, I don’t want to constantly feel like I’m always writing about sad and negative aspects of my life because believe it or not, I’m actually quite a fun person to be around when I’m on top form. I just want to help people, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life.

I just feel like I need to know what I’m doing. I’ve seen so many people start blogging and give up for all of the reasons I’ve stated, but I don’t want to. I’ve not lost my mojo in anyway, I just don’t know how best to go about this blogging thing. I love blogging through my Instagram and making new friends from it but I noticed that not everyone wants to read posts anymore and perhaps that’s because they feel like there are so many of us. I just wish everyone who felt like that could see that blogging isn’t easy, it takes blood sweat and tears to put your work into public hands, to face criticism and judgement. It takes lots of time to put something together and it takes a lot of guts for anyone trying to make it in such a competitive market.

I’m currently trying to teach myself how to take better images, how to use my camera off sports mode and work out how to layout an attractive blog but it’s not easy when you have no clue. Is it that my photos aren’t right? Do I edit them to be too dark? Is it my content? Am I too scatty? Am I just not someone people feel they relate to?

I’m going drastically wrong somewhere and I don’t know where or why. I do know that I need to keep going as it does take time. Perhaps I need to stop thinking I’m not good enough and have a little faith in myself.

So, to the person who wrote that tweet. Yes, we are all bloggers these days, and we are all in it together so how about helping rather than hindering success?

Have you ever tried to start a blog and felt the same? Let me know your thoughts.

Emma