Courage to heal.

Are you a victim of your past? Do you ever find yourself reliving the pain and unable to move on? Has your trauma become your security blanket? Then you need the courage to heal.

At some point in their life everyone will go through an emotional ordeal or physical trial. For many, recovery is difficult but achievable with appropriate support. In time there is nothing left other than a harmless memory or experience.

On the other hand, the damage of a life changing event or situation can create a victim mentality that unless challenged will keep you trapped in the past. The longer you remain attached to the pain the harder it is to break free. Your emotional state, whatever it is – anger, bitterness, jealousy, grief becomes your normality. Eventually it can become your refuge, because familiarity is safe.

Yet you don’t have to live as a victim. The transition to survivor and living your life as the person you were meant to be is possible. But you do need to have the willingness to heal. And you need courage.

Courage to take responsibility for your life again. Courage to take the risk of letting go. Courage to explore your inner-self.

Most of all you need courage to face the fear. The fear that if you mess with the wound that somehow it will be made worse and it will never heal. Or that your worst fears about yourself will be confirmed and you will never be whole again.

You may believe that you haven’t the strength or the bravery to overcome a situation that has overwhelmed you for so long. You do.

After years of suffering depression and being gripped by alcoholism, I had a complete physical and psychological break-down. Admission to a psychiatric ward heralded for me ultimate despair. At the time, I felt like the tears would never stop falling and my nightmare existence would continue for the rest of my life.

Yet a nurse came up to me and made the most extraordinary comment – “I’ll be excited to see where you are in five years time.” She knew of my past and how I had attempted suicide, but there she was talking of the future. Her reply when I pointed out how ridiculous that sounded was a big smile and a matter of fact, “After everything you’ve been through, you’re still here.” She then listed some of the things she saw in me. Courage wasn’t one of them, but resourcefulness and determination were.

“Listen to what you know instead of what you fear.” ~ Richard Bach

I realised that courage wasn’t an action, but an attitude. It meant accepting my circumstances and asking for help. It was overcoming my weaknesses. It was having a willingness to change and be changed.

The courage to heal came when I embraced all these things, so that little by little I could come to terms with the pain of my past. It no longer held me hostage. Recovery and sobriety helped me to appreciate what life had taught me. And the very things I used to fear became the source of my strength.

I wish I could’ve have told the nurse how right she was. Five years on from that incident my life had turned around completely. I was sober, sane and happily married with two beautiful daughters. Her words had been a gift. The gift of courage.

If you are struggling to find your inner strength I would like to extend this gift to you also. Take what you know and use it as your stepping stone to change. Watch it transform into the courage to heal and set yourself free.


Top image thanks to the wonderful                                                                                   Lindy Gaskill×7-she-wanted-the-rainbow-so-she-put-up

Love you forever.

Is it possible to love someone forever?  Or is it more realistic to believe that nothing lasts forever?

The notion of ‘nothing lasts forever’ can be effective in dealing with disappointments and let-downs. It’s like a mental shrug of the shoulders that acknowledges a setback but allows you to move on unhindered.

In the past however I used it as a permanent mind-set. It was the only way I had of rationalising and managing my life.Of course all that happened was that I became trapped in a self-fulfilling prophesy. I desperately wanted and needed to love and be loved, but as long as I held onto the idea that everything was temporary, it was never going to happen. And believing that I was worthless compounded my perception that love would never exist in my life at all, let alone forever.

A counsellor once said to me, “It’s a miracle that you are married.” She was right. I’d experienced such dysfunctional love. The grief I had felt at losing my mum was based on a false love – I had no love for her, only love for the mother that could have been. And that goes for my father too. His love came at a price. Love was a ‘deal’ – Quid pro quo.

As an adult the problem was my inability to identify what love actually was and then to accept it when it came my way. Who doesn’t remember their first true love? The bitter-sweet romance of youth with a promise that it would last forever. Naturally he broke my heart in a way that only a first love can and left me resolving never to allow myself to feel that vulnerable again.

Whilst everyone else around me seemed to be connecting with their long-term sweetheart, I went through relationships that were at best superficial and at worst completely destructive to my body and mind. Alcoholism and depression became my constant companions. They fed my fear of attachment and ensured a loveless existence. And a life without love is no life at all.

Learning to love was by far greatest challenge in my healing. With the help of faith and hope I confronted my alcoholism, dealt with the traumas of the past and reclaimed my life with a passion. But finding the courage to love myself and others was challenging and painful. Opening up myself to the possibility of rejection was terrifying, as was the notion of commitment.

When I finally believed I was worthy of a relationship, I had to learn how to manage the love within it. I’d previously had the unrealistic expectation that ‘love you forever’ meant ‘I’ll never leave you’ or ‘I’ll never hurt you.’ And I’m sure for some people that’s actually the truth. But for me I could only receive ‘love you forever’ as something for the moment.

I’ve come a long way from only believing in ‘nothing is forever’, and I truly want to believe in ‘love you forever’.  When I made my marriage vows I meant them and want the marriage to last.  But if I’m honest, there are times when I doubt that it’s possible. I struggle with having the experience that reminds me how people can let me down but on the other hand having the wisdom that reassures me that I am strong enough to trust.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And that’s what I intend to do. I’m a work in progress and not a million miles away from doing the thing I think I cannot do.

But in the meantime I’ll take a deep breath and say “Just for today, I’ll love you forever.”


Top image thanks to Freaky Peas          Bottom image thanks to Joy Northrop 

What if…..?

Ask a child to finish the sentence ‘What if’ and they will probably come up with a fun, imaginative, affirmative reply. ‘What if’ for a child is full of endless possibilities. Yet as adult we often use ‘What if’ as a pessimistic precursor, which goes hand in hand with that other ominous statement ‘If only…..’.

When faced with a difficult situation it is a normal response to think about the ‘What if’s’ and when looking at a situation with hindsight, it is equally natural to consider the ‘If only’s’. For many of us though it’s only the worst possible scenarios or the most awful outcomes that come to mind. And if you’re anything like me, those images that are conjured up can become a form of self torture that do nothing more than hold you hostage in a state of fear.

Several years ago my long-term sober husband decided he could drink again. Dismissing my expressed concerns he was adamant that he could control his alcohol and that it wouldn’t affect our family. He couldn’t and it did.

Whilst he enjoyed his new found ‘freedom’ to do as he pleased, for me it was like being forced onto a train that I knew was going to crash. The months passed and my husband lived in complete denial of the damage being done by his addiction. Whilst for me, each and every day brought a new terror in the form of a ‘What if’.

‘What if ….. he crashes his car, what if he gets into a fight, what if he hurts someone, what if he hurts me? O f course these were always accompanied by the self-blaming ‘If only’s which had become a normality in our increasingly volatile family situation. ‘If only….I hadn’t said that, done that, behaved like that.

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.” ~ George Bernard Shaw.

It was only when my husband completely relapsed that it occurred to me that I had been allowing the ‘What if’s’ to lead the way. I had been so busy trying to keep the peace and reacting to every event that it wasn’t until crisis point that I realised I needed a radically different approach. There was nothing I could do to change the situation, but I could decide to change myself.

It started with changing my notion of ‘What if’. What if I said ‘Enough is enough’ and meant it? What if I drew up boundaries and stuck to them? And of course the victim mentality of ‘If only’ also had to change. For me the best way to stop lamenting the past was to make a conscious decision to close the door on the things that had gone before and look for a new door which would lead me to new opportunities.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Obviously living my life by choice instead of chance didn’t happen overnight. And the hurt of those desperate months took much time, patience and prayer to resolve. But the lessons I learnt from the experience have been invaluable in dealing with other challenges since.

Today I don’t have to worry about ‘What if’, because I’m too excited about the ‘What next?’


With love and thanks to my husband, who found the courage and strength to overcome the relapse.

No need to hide.

I spent many years in hiding. Not physically, but mentally. As a child I would immerse myself in books and music. They offered respite from the horrors of my dysfunctional life and gave me a mental escape from reality.

Then as a teenager, alcohol became my means of blocking out the pain. Whenever I felt my emotions overwhelming me I could run to the refuge that vodka provided. Alcohol also provided me with my mask. A mask I was to wear for the next twenty years.

My need to hide stemmed from my mother’s rejection and my father’s abuse. I grew up believing that if I’d been good enough then the bad things wouldn’t have happened. I developed damaging self perceptions that I was never going to be anything less than worthless and no-one would ever love me. What was equally unhealthy however, was my desire to cover up the truth.

Initially I wore a mask of happiness, confidence and fearlessness. It didn’t feel like a deception but indeed it was. For underneath lay an increasingly depressed and worryingly addicted woman.

Then the mask of alcohol turned into something sinister. It turned into the mask of denial. As anyone who uses alcohol, drugs, food, sex, work as a form of self-medication it is denial that turns a rational, responsible individual into a guilt-filled liar. The mask of denial also kept me on the spiral of self-destruct until eventually I hit rock bottom.

I had a choice to make – ‘end it all’ or ‘stop hiding and start living’. But moving forward meant coming out of the darkness and into the light. It meant revealing my imperfections and my fears. Terrifying as that felt, I knew that I was ready. I was ready to drop the mask.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~ E.E. Cummings

Without the drink to cushion me and without the cocoon of my depression I felt useless and hopeless as any human being could experience. Only faith could have pulled me out of that pit of despair. And initially, it wasn’t even my own belief that offered hope; it was the faith of someone else. Their conviction that I could learn to overcome my past and have the courage to heal was incredible. It was so powerful that even in my doubtful mind; there was a chance that I could turn my life around.

When you’ve been hiding in the dark for a long time, you have to come into the light slowly. Otherwise the intensity is too much to cope with. And so it was with care and with gentleness that I welcomed back my heart, mind and soul to reveal my authentic self to the world.

I often get asked why I share my heart and spirit so openly. The answer is simple. Because I can.

I can live my life as the person I was intended to be. Who would hide that?