Welcome to My New Sobriety Blog

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde

I’m quite new to my relative sobriety, finding my way in a world where I’m used to being the helper not the helped. I’m thinking there might be other people out there like me, scared to come out because of their professions so if I reach you and you feel less alone then I’ve helped us both.

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Embracing Sobriety

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So I’ve made it to 10 days cannabis free and it’s beginning to feel a bit pink cloud like. My sleep is improving again with slightly less crazy dreams! My energy levels are up and most exciting for me I wrote a piece for my other blog that has been in my head struggling to make it out due to stoned stupor for a long time. The editor of the publication I submitted it to likes it a lot and is working on polishing it before publishing. I feel so good about finally doing one of the things I really want to do. Next week is early morning Pranayama again and I’m confident I’ll make it out of bed all week. Concrete changes I can use to motivate me.

It’s not all been easy though. My arthritis is more painful without cannabis so I think I need to get some CBD oil. I had a low 24 hours in the week and I had persistent thoughts of drinking. I was in the shop and stood in front of the wine contemplating getting a bottle. In my head were thoughts of not having fun and missing out but when I considered drinking a bottle of Merlot alone I realised how sad and not fun that really was. I told myself if I still wanted it tomorrow then I would buy it. Thankfully I woke up in a much better mood and was relieved. The wine witch changed tack and I found myself musing about wine with meals – surely that would be ok? I saw a half full bottle of red in the cupboard – I think C got it for cooking the beef stifado he’s making for Valentine’s Day. I sniffed it imagining the taste then thought about how I could never stop at one; I drank to get drunk. I recalled the wise words of fellow bloggers who have tried moderation. I thought about my girls and my health and the moment passed. Phew!

What I’m taking from this is addiction is addiction, and when you can’t have one thing you want another. Substitution is not the same as sobriety. I may be nearly 2 years alcohol free but I’m only 10 days sober. Those grooves in my mind have yet to turn into impassable tracks and perhaps they never will. I still have a way to go to turn the healthy paths into easy drive highways. I need to redefine “fun” for a start!
Whilst much of the fun in my life to date has involved intoxication in various forms, it’s also involved lovely people, good music and good food. The most fun I’ve ever had is on a horse. The bit that’s hard for me is finding the fun in the little things – a game, a film, a walk or a meal. I was always preoccupied with the accompanying or soon to come booze or spliff to fully appreciate them. Sobriety means you can be in the moment and fully appreciate and enjoy it. A slower gentler kind of fun but ultimately more nurturing for the soul. Hope you’re all doing ok and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Checking in…day 3/day673

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I’m awake an hour before my alarm was due to go off so I’ve drank tea and read blogs without taking time from my day – bliss! I decided on Saturday to keep track of what I do instead of smoke spliff to help keep my motivation so where better to record that than on here! The title is to remind myself that if I can not drink for that long then I can not smoke weed too if I really choose to. It’s not as if it’s everywhere I look like booze or even legal here!
Saturday after writing I went and watched J have a riding lesson so I could video – I haven’t been at the yard with her for a while and we had a nice time. C and I did an online dance class sat evening – Argentine Tango with Oti Mabuse. C used to dance a lot and I dabbled with him but we never really kept it up together. It was really fun – though I kept kicking the bin as our kitchen isn’t that big! Made love later 💗.
Sunday a long walk and catch up with a friend not seen in a while then I had a long video call with my brother in Bulgaria. He’s the youngest and we were very close but I’ve drifted from him over the years as he is more one of life’s takers than givers. He had it tough as a child and dealt with it angrily whereas I people pleased more. He seems to have found some peace rescuing dogs – one of which is coming to live with us hopefully! I’ve rediscovered my love and compassion for him and am enjoying reconnecting. After that I cooked for a good few hours listening to Sounds of the 70s on the radio which I love. Played scrabble (lost) and read my book before gratefully falling asleep. I’ve not been reading much lately so getting into it this weekend also been good.

I’ve not actually craved the cannabis at all though I’ve had nicotine which is the main addiction I think and I know that Gollum will make an appearance sooner or later. I’d usually spend a lot of time on my iPad playing games and scrolling when stoned and doing something more genuinely stimulating instead has definitely helped. I’ve hardly done any of that this weekend and my mood was better for it. I’m awake early – one of my main motivations is to get up earlier and get into a morning yoga/meditation habit so that’s where I’m heading now. Have a good Monday my friends!

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January Reflections

Lucky to have this on our doorstep!

It’s been a while since I’ve written and although I have lots of ideas I’m struggling to commit to writing them. I’ve noticed that bloggers come and go and I’m missing some of the bloggers I connected with when I first started on here (Jim and Nadine come back!) but I’m aware I’m drifting too. I’m not done with getting sober yet – I’ve had more cannabis free days in Jan than I would usually but keep going back to it. My new year intention was to persevere with quitting though and I am not waiting months before trying again so I’m ok with that. The few days I did without cannabis or nicotine I was agitated and distractible so I’m focusing on the cannabis first. Whenever I stop I start thinking about drinking again which is a concern. I imagine just having one at a social event – who am I kidding? The idea that ‘you have to have something’ is a powerful one that I can’t quite dispel. What does this actually mean? That we have to lose our higher faculties to truly experience pleasure and joy? It’s a nonsense but somehow just being me 24/7 doesn’t seem to cut it. I’m glad I have a 2 year milestone coming up as that is stopping me succumbing.

What the stop/start sobriety is slowly showing me is that I am ok without it until I start thinking I’m not. It really is all in my head. I need to push through that and figure out what it’s about. I did a week of early morning pranayama with my lovely yoga teacher in Jan and experienced a connection with my true self that I don’t think I’ve truly recognised before. I was aware of this inner awareness but still chose to follow the addictive voice and roll up again and failed to get up early the following week to practice on my own. The conflict is more palpable now and I want to keep it that way. I think I avoid writing to avoid articulating this conflict as it pushes me towards sobriety; so as I embark on another attempt I will try to keep myself accountable on here. I don’t like failing – preferring to keep quiet until I have something positive to show; being prepared to be seen when failing is probably an important step for me. Bringing my outer and inner self together and being authentic even if that means being messy and imperfect.

The rest of life carries on in its muted pandemic way. I am enjoying my work, my walks with friends and my riding. Baking bread has become part of my routine too. I love the simplicity of flour and water becoming this delicious loaf with time and the right processes. A metaphor for sobriety perhaps? We’ve had our 1st vaccines so there is hope on the horizon. The vaccine roll out appears to be our government finally getting something right though I am worried about the delays to 2nd doses creating ideal conditions for a vaccine resistant mutation – a thought I try not to dwell on. My mum’s cat had cancer and had to be put to sleep which was heartbreaking for her but a new arrival comes today. She has struggled with the pandemic isolation and her cat kept her sane so the quick replacement is very welcome. My daughter J starts a job in a nursery next week – not what she wants to do long term but a job nonetheless. My eldest E is in love (or so it seems) with a guy who sounds lovely and that warms my heart hugely. I can’t wait to meet him! I’m really aware my children have inherited a messed up difficult world and will not have life as easy as I have had it. I can’t help thinking we’ve not prepared them well for the challenges they will face. I think hedonism, drugs and party culture became a replacement movement for social conscience and political activism; ineffective – all style and no substance; you’re not going to change the world dancing to Techno in a field high on Ecstasy however radical it feels! Perhaps this generation will be more serious and focused?

So that’s me – how was your January?

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638 days alcohol free – 1 day smoke free

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I did it! I got past day 1 for the first time in a very long time. Completely substance free apart from a piece of Nicorette gum! My friend Colette’s blog https://wine2water.blog/no-excuse-for-excuses – read first thing in the morning was instrumental in turning my non committal thoughts into resolve. I wrote in my phone ‘if not now then when?’ and a list of my goals – to read and write more, do my workouts, yoga and meditation and cook and bake new things; along with a reminder that nicotine does nothing except poison me. I told myself that all I had to do today was not smoke though. The rest would come.

I found it hard to settle to work all day, being fidgety and distractible. I couldn’t remember much at all about where I’d left things at before Christmas and had that sense of dread that comes from too many tasks left undone. Having vowed to only use the online diary this year I found I can’t function without pen and paper so out came the paper planner – I’m a Luddite at heart!

By the evening I was more twitchy and the lockdown announcement had the smoke devil whispering that doing lockdown without spliff would be unbearable. Luckily C has hidden it all away and reminded me I’d feel crap if I smoked or I might have cracked in that moment. We have the vape and I considered that but didn’t use it. I came on here and read and commented instead. In my head I’m allowed the vape as I think it’s the act of smoking I most need to overcome. As I suspected the appeal of getting stoned is less without the nicotine so I’m hoping that will sort itself out as things progress.

Historically when I’ve tried to stop smoking I get really low in mood and suicidal after a week to 10 days; then I smoke and think ‘why have I done that – it’s not that big a deal?’ but carry on anyway. Knowing what I do now from going AF I see this as the addictive voice going full throttle. Remind me of that if I’m writing about how shit my life is in a weeks time!

I started one of the books about quitting cannabis I’d downloaded last night as I found quit lit really helpful with alcohol, and we went to sleep earlier than usual. I sweated a lot and woke several times through the night but I still feel more alert than usual this morning. I have stepped out of the halfway house, and resumed my journey towards a fully sober life and it feels good!

This quote has been on my kitchen calendar through December and I think it’s sunk in!

New Years Resolutions

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Happy New Year everyone! You don’t hear much from me for a while then 2 posts in less than 24 hours! If I reflect on why I’ve not been writing much I could make lots of ‘busy’ excuses but really the reason is simple – smoking. I’m still smoking so I’m avoiding things that increase my cognitive dissonance- (the technical term for the argument in my head between the smoke devil and what I hope is my authentic self) and sobriety blogs clearly do that. ‘Well read them more’ I hear you all shout through my ipad! I have written lots of posts in my head about how I’m going to stop; 30 days of yoga, write every day etc etc but not surprisingly they’ve not made it to the page. C and I are away in a cottage for New Year on what has become an illegal holiday; and I had planned to stop whilst here, and do lots of writing, reading and yoga. We have vapes for both substances but when I opened the nicotine one (I’ve had it for months) I didn’t have a cartridge. Also just considering stopping put me in an argumentative discontent that isn’t conducive to having a nice time. Historically I’ve often tried to stop smoking on holiday and it has never gone well! So we’ve smoked but quite a bit less than we do usually and probably with less pleasure. The dissonance is getting louder and I’m getting sick of it now. I remember how much head space the wine witch took up and what a relief it was when that stopped.

I forgot to bring what I needed to work on a post for my other blog and I’ve only done 15 minutes of yoga. When I abandoned the yoga it occurred to me that in my head I was going to come away for a few days and basically become the person I wanted to be – overnight, no effort and no process. Suddenly I would be a prolific writer who did yoga every day, didn’t smoke and probably didn’t even eat chocolate or ever get angry! I wanted to get there without doing the work. I suspect this is a common way of thinking in addicts. Wanting the quick, easy fix to make it all better, change the mood, relieve the pain. Enduring growth and change comes much more slowly with many twists and turns along the way. I can’t force it but I do have to keep trying. The changes that have come since I stopped drinking have evolved slowly over these last 3 years and some of them came from the first attempt even though I drank again for a while.

So my word for this year is ‘persevere’. I am going to persevere with attempts to stop smoking. I won’t add a load of other aspirations to that as they will come in their own time. If I cave then I will try again the next day – no waiting for a full moon, the next holiday or next new year. It’s a process not an event and it will take time, energy and commitment. I just have to keep trying.

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A New Year

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2020 has been a year like no other in most of our living memories. Covid 19 has reminded us that we are not rulers of the universe, nature is, and we are all fragile beings at her mercy. In spite of all our progress, the tools we have to protect ourselves are the same as at any other time in history – soap, water, masks and space. Our human need to gather together, to connect with others has been curtailed globally and we are all sharing in that; though not all sharing the suffering of loss, sickness and economic deprivation. Many have found they have less to do whilst those in key worker roles have never had to work as hard. We’ve realised which jobs really matter and it’s not the ones in the City! A lot of people are a lot poorer whilst a few are significantly richer. Whilst governments have tried to balance health needs with the economy they’ve found that the two cannot be separated so easily and the virus has stayed one step ahead. Countries that prioritised the health of everyone earlier have done better economically. The UK’s developing hospital crisis is not only a result of indecisive dithering about restrictions and lack of efficient testing for staff but also years of under investment and staff shortages. I fear the New Year will be worse at the start than anything we’ve seen in 2020. Successive governments disregard for the well being of the people has led to this catastrophe.

Our worlds have been smaller this year. Little travel, no gatherings. This enforced slower pace has it’s benefits though. More time with our immediate loved ones; more time to connect with nature, to bake, to read or just to be. We’ve seen people less but appreciated it more when we have. I’ve baked bread for the first time in my life and grown flowers from seeds.

As the new year dawns there is hope. The development of a vaccine in less than a year is truly remarkable and just shows what we can do if we work together. Could we do the same to tackle climate change? Global poverty? We could if we wanted to. The internet has allowed us to keep connected and for many, myself included, to keep working safely. Imagine a pandemic without it? Lots of community projects have developed to help and support others. We helped deliver 300 Christmas dinners and sacks of toys to needy families, individuals and care homes on Christmas Day – organised by one awesome guy in our area.

The pandemic has shown us the best and worst of humanity. We are not yet on the other side but my main hope for 2021 is that we learn the lessons we need to from it. I for one want a new normal; one where every life is valued and cherished; need comes before profit; nature is respected and love conquers hate. My mum tells me that every pandemic in history has brought significant social change afterwards. So let’s imagine and hope for 2021!

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The Halfway House

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It’s been a while since I’ve written on here – or anywhere. Yes I’ve been busy but it’s more than that. Since my 3 week break from cannabis I’ve been back on it; a little less indulgent but every night all the same. I don’t want to be the person who repeatedly fails in public, it doesn’t fit my external self image; but then neither does my hidden self. Coming on here and owning my struggle is how I’ll join my two selves – my light and dark, to be a truly whole being. So here I am – warts and all to share where I’m up to.

Like alcohol, (just before my 1st 3 month break)I find myself debating my relationship with cannabis most nights. My resolve to quit is always strongest when I’m high, and all but gone in the morning. I think about whether to stop tobacco first, use a Vape, or do both together. I act resentfully towards C because I’m actually sick of myself. Then I have another smoke and let the warm fuzzy glow wash it all away. I’ve added on line jigsaws to my addictive habits too. I swear I get a buzz every time I put a piece in – the crack cocaine equivalent for sensible people! At least that won’t kill me!

I feel like I’ve set up home at the half way house on the route to sobriety. I can look forwards to sober land; hear your stories and think ‘ooh that does sound good….I really need to get there soon’; and look back to the place where I hear ‘we all need something don’t we?’, ‘treat yourself’ and the like. I don’t want to go back and don’t think I could – I’ve seen through alcohol and we are done. Clearly though I’m using some of the myths to keep me where I am.

In one of my night time musings I thought about what it was that was my lightbulb moment with giving up booze. It was when I realised the marketing ploys but also the neuroscience of how are brains adapt so I downloaded a book written by a former addict and neuroscientist called ‘The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction’ and I read a little each night. So far the main take home message is whatever the drug, your brain gets busy producing the opposite effect as maintaining homeostasis (constancy) is the brain and body’s main preoccupation. Eventually environmental cues alone will set your body off producing the opposite of what you seek so you just don’t get the same feeling any more. Cannabis works on lots of our brain, like alcohol, which is why the effects are so diverse. It acts on the post synaptic receptors unusually telling the brain to pay more attention to the stimulus coming in which is why perception is enhanced, food tastes lovely, TV is funnier and sex is amazing. However, once your antidotes are kicking in through chronic use then everything is just dull and you don’t enjoy or appreciate it. I am still enjoying simple pleasures but maybe I’d enjoy them a lot more sober? Thinking about this stuff is helping my mindset and I’m hoping it will help me move on from the halfway house.

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A quick catch up

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’ve been thinking of you all – the way you do about friends you’re missing and meaning to call or arrange to see. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all meet like the folks in the picture? Seems like a remnant of life as we knew it in these testing times. Anyway before I get into prophesy of doom mode I’ll share what’s been going on in my life!

Work mostly but it’s good. My private work has been building and I’m at the stage where I say yes to most things whilst still working 2 days a week for my job. We’ve agreed on my relationship with them moving forward and after this week I only have a month left so there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve not worked this hard in a long time but I’m staying calm and enjoying it mostly. No idea if making enough money but I can look at that when I get the space to. Otherwise have had a few weekends away – wales with C, visit to my eldest E whilst still allowed and then pony camp which was a commute daily in the end but was great. Satisfying the 11 year old in me! Oh and we won our last competition! By making a mistake which cost us time so we weren’t too fast but I’ll take that!

I managed 3 weeks of no spliff but wanted some for the weekend away with C and we’re back to it again since. Of course I can’t moderate but I’m still hanging on to the idea of it – why? I think I can’t fully let go of the ‘needing something’ argument coupled with smoking being part of how I see myself and my identity. Through giving up alcohol I feel I’ve stripped back layers of superficial identity is accumulated over the years and am more my true self these days, but the problem is smoking feels like genuine me still. I don’t have enough cognitive dissonance around it (internal arguing!) so I’m not in enough of a dilemma. Until we externalise our addiction as not us then I don’t think we can truly let it go. The dry drunk is still battling with themselves, feels deprived and has to use will power. They don’t see the underlying needs and issues that alcohol is the solution for and the addiction becomes who they are – squeezing out the other parts of their personality, usually for the worst. My spliff habit is more contained and impacts others less but I know it’s not good for me and those 3 weeks taught me I don’t really need it but I still I want it. I’m not stressing about it and maybe I need to to act. I’m just accepting this is where I am right now and as long as I’m still working on other things then that’s ok. I don’t think it’s such a consciousness obliterator as alcohol is but maybe that’s just an excuse? Addiction is addiction right? I don’t worry about my coffee or chocolate intake or my jigsaw habit either but maybe one day I will. My 18 month landmark of not drinking passed without me noticing – it’s just not a big deal anymore. One day the same will be true of smoking.

I miss Ruby and her presence in the house but it’s ok. We’ve adjusted to J living at home again and I love seeing her and C together. They’re playful and have fun and there’s a lot of love there. I’m reading an amazing book – The Over Story. It’s blowing my mind and though it’s a slow burner at first and long and deep I’d highly recommend it. I can’t help thinking there’s trouble ahead for us all and have apocalyptic visions of the future. I also think though that the world all being preoccupied with the pandemic and all it’s fallout is a huge focus of collective consciousness that means people see and notice what may have not touched them before. It’s much harder for the powers that be to fool us when we’re all paying more attention so I have hope that mankind might wake up and demand change before it’s too late. My mum has been reading up on global pandemics and they have always led to social change. When it happens it happens fast – I remember the Berlin Wall falling and how rapidly the whole of the USSR fell after that. We are moving in the wrong direction here and the USA and it may get worse before it gets better but I hang on to my hope. I’ve joined Extinction Rebellion and have 2 visions of the future; living in the countryside being as self sufficient as I can and living in a camper van being a full time protestor! For now though I need to work and I want to write more so I’ll stay where I am and just be here now as best I can. I know I’m much better off than so many fellow humans and I’m grateful and humbled by that. How are you all doing?

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Goodbye my friend

Last Friday my old dog Ruby was put to sleep. Although it’s been on the cards for the last few months or so it came on us quickly with a marked deterioration in a few days. I took her to the vets not really sure of what the outcome would be, trying to separate my wishes and thoughts from her wants and needs. When the vet talked about how hard it can be to know the right time and we could wait 2 weeks but that might be too long I knew now was for the best. She has always been a very undemanding dog; unlike most pets I’ve ever had. She accepted her life just how it was; rarely barking or asserting herself. In recent months she had fretted when not with me, pacing the house looking for me. Dementia had set in alongside physical decline. I’ve not alway been the most attentive owner to her – too many distractions and too many hangovers. This year I have been here for her and I am grateful for that time with her.

Animals have always been part of my life. I spent a lot of time as a child in their company and when I left home to go to University they were what I missed the most. As soon as I could I had pets again and there’s been beasts in my house ever since, along with the horses (who would live with me too if I didn’t live in a terraced house in the city!) More recently I am starting to appreciate the wonder of trees and plants too. I’m reading The Over Story which is about trees essentially (Dwight you would love it!) but so much more besides. Nature can teach us all we need to know about how to be the best humans we can; to support and care for each other, staying in balance and accepting the passage of time and ageing. Ruby grew old with grace and acceptance. She enjoyed what she still could and when the end came lay down peacefully and slipped away.

Gratitude for C

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Tomorrow is our 6th wedding anniversary. I’m writing this sat looking out at the countryside in a tiny cottage in Anglesey – (a  small island off the coast of north wales for those of you not in the UK) early in the morning with the dogs snoozing whilst C sleeps in the mezzanine bedroom above. It seems the right time to write about C and express my gratitude. 

C is incredibly generous with his time, money and affection. It was the first thing I noticed about him when we met. Rarely is anything too much trouble or met with begrudged agreement. If he can’t he will tell you but if he possibly can then he will. I’m the lucky recipient of this attentiveness but it extends to my daughters, my mum and others too. In the early years my girls werent keen understandably, but he would still do things for them and gradually he’s melted their hearts. My youngest especially loves him dearly and seeing them together gives me joy. I am striving to have the same lightness of touch and positivity in my interactions with others. I know how good it makes the other person feel!

C loves me unconditionally. If I’m honest the heady days of our early relationship coupled with the pain of divorce and upset children escalated my drinking hugely. C bought the wine and although drinking less himself didn’t criticise or try to control me. There came a time when I wanted him to but deep down I knew that would give me an excuse to project out my self loathing and carry on, and I had to make the decision myself. We had some awful drunken rows when I would do this anyway; often when we’d had a really nice time towards the end. It was me rowing with him but he would forgive me in the morning and suggest ways we could work it out. When I decided to stop he stopped with me. He’s done the sober thing before for over 30 years and he genuinely could moderate. He can take it or leave it and he left it when I was ready to support me. He’s not once said he misses it. When I’ve been low he’s listened to my nihilistic hopeless thoughts. I would have wanted to leave me to be honest I was so depressing and negative but he’s never once said he’s fed up with me, only that he wants the situation to change. 

The early stage of our relationship when you’re blindly in love and can’t get enough of each other lasted a long time! Having always believed you have to work at relationships suddenly I didn’t and that was wonderful. As we’ve been living together longer and  more ordinary life starts to fill up the space there have of course been times when things have been difficult. The realisation that the pattern seemed similar to my 1st marriage helped me realise what I was bringing to ‘us’ and to begin to resolve my underlying issues. C owns his contribution too though and actively tries to change as well whilst encouraging me to be the best version of myself. 

C is incredibly wise. He’s lived a varied life and can still surprise me with new stories of what he’s done. ‘Have you built a waterfall before – yes actually – for a church back home’ – ‘J teaches yoga in prisons – Yeah I used to do that’. What?!! He had a difficult childhood in the rural Deep South and not the easiest of times over the years with relationships but he has grown and learnt through his experiences and continues to do so. He reads a lot and is writing a book to share his wisdom with the world and I think the world needs it right now and I hope it gets published. Attachment theory and his therapeutic way of working, how plasma cosmology relates and how those things can save the human race basically – (I have said it’s maybe a little broad in its scope!)The way I work with my clients is based on his approach and it really works – another gift he has given me.

I am not often bored in C’s company. For someone who is easily bored that is big! Today we will walk the dogs, eat, read, play Scrabble and talk. We don’t often do much different from that wherever we are. A far cry from the manic hyperactive person I used to be; never able to settle for long, chasing the thrill and ever elusive excitement.

C is a lot older than me and that makes our relationship bitter sweet; Ive found my soul mate late in life and the threat of loss hovers in the shadows. At times that can make me anxious which can lead me down the depression hole and spoil the present. When we met and I was on the cusp of falling in love I told myself if we had 5 years of happiness it would be worth it. It’s 8 years since we met now. Those 8 years have been the journey back to my true self as I’ve slowly stripped back the inauthentic parts of me brought about by trauma and addiction. I’m still on it – making mistakes, learning and growing, but I’m more and more present in this life of mine. It’s a journey I’m not sure I’d have taken without C by my side. The word I would use now is contentment. Happy anniversary darling! 💞💞