Letter to my inner child.

Vulnerable, raw, fearful. That generally describes how I felt as a child growing up. Yet even after years of breakthrough and healing there are occasions as an adult when I hurtle backwards in time and my thoughts are of that of an overwhelmed eight year old or a terrified teenager.

It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does my whole body numbs. My mind goes blank. My emotions however run riot. Any sense of serenity escapes me and even my faith feels as if is beyond my grasp. Thankfully today I have experience of recovery and psychological strength to draw on. I can remind myself of how far I’ve come and how far I have to go. I can reach out to others who in turn can remind me of my worth. And my faith which never leaves me becomes bright and forceful in my life again.

But as a child dealing with abandonment and abuse I had no way of knowing how to deal with the hurt. And no adult to help guide or reassure. I often wished that I could have written to my inner child during those trouble times. those times. It could have read:

“Dear little one,

When your mother left you never to return – it wasn’t your fault. When your father made you into a commodity for himself and others – it wasn’t your fault. You don’t have to go through the rest of your life carrying the burden of guilt that was not yours to carry. Put down the shame and walk away.

The words spoken over you that left you believing you were worthless and unlovable were lies. You are precious. But don’t go trying to replace the love you should have had by seeking out a mother who will reject you further, or from other men who will abuse you again.

Look inside your heart. Look inside your soul. The treasure that is ‘you’ is waiting to be nurtured and released. Trust your quiet determination that lies within. You will survive.”

The letter didn’t exist for me as child but all the same, I survived. My journey through life continues to both challenge and amaze me. Sober, peaceful and fearless is how I would describe how I feel today. But sometimes I need to reassure myself as I would a child. Today the letter reads:

“My loved one,

Hold on, Keep strong. Everything’s going to be alright.”

Yes, it is.

Images thanks to the amazing Katie m. Berggren

The Gift of Gratitude.

How can I be thankful for my life? How can I find gratitude when events take a turn for the worse? The answer for me lies in ‘perspective’.

My computer crashed suddenly and spectacularly at the beginning of the week. It wasn’t just the inconvenience of being without the internet, it was the possibility that I had irretrievably lost some of my recent work that worried me. Any other time, this might have sent me into a panic at best and at worst, a prolonged period of ‘Why me?’

But I was able to accept the situation for what it was – a technical failure which meant I had to change a few things. My perception had been impacted by what had happened the day before. A letter had arrived to confirm the need for further treatment following a biopsy. It wasn’t what I had hoped for. Yet I could look at the positive side because of what happened the day before that. The death of a friend.

Perspective. No matter what was going on for me, the fact was that I had a life. My computer could be replaced. My work could be rewritten. My illness could be treated. How could I not be grateful?

Gratitude is a gift. And like any present, it is something that benefits the giver and the receiver. Thankfulness is so much more than an emotion. It is a choice to appreciate what you have. It is a decision to accept yourself and others for what you or they are.

Yet the more grateful we feel, the more our eyes are opened to the miracles that take place in our lives every day. We are touched by the blessings that appear and this allows us to reach out to others. Whether it is a simple ‘Thankyou’ or an extravagant gift, heartfelt appreciation always reaps rewards. It can turn someone’s ordinary day into an extraordinary occasion.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
~ Marcel Proust

In the past, my psychological damage and depression meant long periods of being unable to find anything to be thankful for.  My mind was so busy dealing with the pain that I became emotionally frozen. I could barely feel or express anything, but especially not gratitude.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus

Life can be harsh, but the best way to deal with those troubled times is to count your blessings. Finding even one small thing to be thankful for can take you out of self-pity. Gratitude can help you find peace in chaos and relief from pain. It can spark the light that leads you out of the tunnel.

Learning how to be grateful brought healing to me. Through my faith and my family I learnt not only how to love others and myself, but also how to love my journey. I am grateful for the life I have had because it has made me the person that I am today. I can love my life because of my past and not despite of the pain. The gift of gratitude has set me free to embrace life on life’s terms, and that is freedom indeed.

No matter what happens today I’m going to find time to say ‘Thankyou!’ Will you join me?

Top image http://www.etsy.com/listing/94172614/may-you-wake-up-with-gratitude  thanks to Lori Porter

Happily Ever After.

“And they lived happily ever after…..” That’s the fairytale. But life is more complicated than any storybook and when it throws up challenges and heartaches, happiness can seem like an unreachable dream.

“The darker the despair, the brighter the joy.” ~ Carolyn Hughes

My own experiences of abandonment, abuse, addiction, depression have all played their part in making me feel sad and despondent at one time or another. But faith, love, gratitude have helped me to find happiness in the darkest places. Learning to take each day at a time, and appreciating each moment in time reminds me that life is too short for regrets or fear.  Happiness, joy and laughter are to be enjoyed today.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Happiness is all about you. Only you can make yourself happy, so if you’re relying on something else to give you peace of mind, think again. Society persuades us that we can be instantly and permanently exhilarated and delighted – Buy this. Do that. Eat this. Drink that. Wear this. Look like that. We are bombarded daily with the promise of never-ending pleasure. That’s gratification. It’s not true happiness.

Inner contentment can be a fleeting feeling or a deep-seated emotion. Most of all it should be an established attitude.  Living joyfully and peacefully means accepting imperfections in yourself and others.

Happiness is appreciating what is right, not lamenting what is wrong. It’s being thankful for what you have, and not being envious of others. It’s looking forward to the destination, but enjoying the journey. So stop waiting for happy days. They’re here already!

 “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” ~ Dalai Lama.

A word of warning if you are looking to others to make you happy. They can’t. Of course you can enjoy a wonderful relationship, but it can’t be dependent on someone else’s happiness. Neither can you depend on someone else to provide you with total fulfilment. It’s not their responsibility.

Your happiness comes from within your heart. Only you hold the keys to your heart. And only you hold the keys to your ‘happily ever after’.


“A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” Proverb

Nobody is perfect. Everyone messes up. So why is it so hard to forgive ourselves sometimes?

Guilt can be positive if it acts as a catalyst for change. Seeking to make amends, having genuine remorse can all be stepping-stones to healing and forgiveness. The process of resolution diminishes guilt as others reaffirm their acceptance of us and our apology. You can learn from your mistakes and move on.

But if you don’t forgive yourself then you are heading for misery. Guilt will eat away at your mind, body and soul. And the grater the regret, the more you will try to overcompensate or withdraw completely.

When I was in the grip of addiction, it was shame that kept me there. I was so embarrassed that drink controlled me. I was horrified at the things that I did to myself and others. So I drink even more and so the cycle of shame continued. As my alcoholism passed the point of no-return, I could no longer bear my guilt. I felt so worthless and undeserving. It was more than self-pity. My life was such a mess, and I genuinely thought it was my fault.

The chains of guilt needed to be broken in my life, but first I had to decide that I deserved to be free. Just like the words of the serenity prayer, I learned to accept the things I couldn’t change and found courage to change the things I could. After releasing those things over which I had no power, I could then focus on releasing myself.

It didn’t come naturally and it didn’t take much for my guilty conscience to raise itself. When it did I had a choice to make – use the emotional energy to beat myself up all over again or forgive and restore.

“Grace is getting something that you don’t deserve; and mercy is not getting something that you do deserve.” ~ Francis Bacon

My faith showed me the path to forgiveness through grace and mercy. It was the way to break the chains of shame once and for all.

There are many things that I wish I hadn’t done or should have done.  But today I have the freedom of forgiveness. The freedom to depart from the past and to  welcome the future.

Guilty? Not any more.

Thank you to Jane Hinchcliffe for linking my blog to her wonderful post ‘Forgiveness sets you free.’

Top image thanks to Rebecca N
                                    Bottom image thanks to Katie Daisy

A Healing Heart

When life lets you down, it can feel like your heart has been ripped out. Experiencing abuse, the death of loved one or an unwanted separation can leave you wondering if you will ever be whole again. Shattered dreams can crush your spirit and cause heartbreak so strong that you are convinced you could die from it.

You may never replace the loss of a childhood or a relationship. You may have to find some new dreams. But one thing is for certain, and that is unless you allow your heart to heal you will never be far from grief and fear.

There was a point in my life that I felt I had been so hurt by others that I couldn’t envisage trusting, let alone loving, ever again. But living in this state of brokenness was like being in an emotional prison. I was resigning myself to a life sentence of nursing old wounds.

The trepidation of attachment made me put up the barriers of mistrust and hostility. I alternated from thinking, ‘I’m never going to let anyone near me’, to ‘I’m going to hurt them, before they hurt me’. Relentless self-pity kept me trapped in a vicious cycle of hopelessness.

“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.” ~ Maya Angelou

My turning point was the realisation that life goes on. I could choose to stay with the pain of the past or rise above it. There were days when I thought my tears would never stop and the heartache would never ease. But it was only through experiencing my vulnerability that I could be emotionally restored.

Over time faith filled me with the promise that I could be freed from the captivity of my mind and gave me hope of a loving future. It gave me the courage to take the risk that the unthinkable would happen – that I would be hurt again.

Of course I have been hurt many times since, but the scars of my heart are reminders of its strength. My healing heart means I can get up when I fall. I can smile after the tears. And I can look to the future because of my past not despite of it.

As long as I have a heart I can heal. And as long as I can heal I have a heart.
What does a healing heart mean to you?

Top image thanks to JCSpock http://www.etsy.com/listing/59126689/mixed-media-art-rising-heart-5×7-print
Bottom image thanks to Amanda Cass http://www.redbubble.com/people/theartoflove/works/8989590-making-a-fresh-start?c=27861-art-from-the-heart