As we approach the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday, I’m already feeling melancholy so I decided to look back as a first step to looking forward and I discovered that if 2012 was the year I learned the fragility of the body and life, 2013 was the year I learned the vulnerability of the psyche.
I’ve had highs and lows, tears and laughter, one-offs and one to manys, but I hope that my zeitgeist might help me learn a lot about myself and help me create 2014’s adventures:
1. Lost 3 stone and fixed most that ailed me:
After being diagnosed insulin resistant in 2012 I changed my diet and lifestyle at the end of January ‘13. In a year I’ve lost 3 stone, brought my underactive thyroid up to normal level and lowered my cholesterol.
I feel healthier than I have done in years.
2. Got famous among teens on Tumblr as the mum who got chatted up (kinda) by Jack Barakat at the All Time Low gig in London on Valentines Day:
From the stage he looked up, saw teengirl standing next to a girl who was at least a foot taller than her and obviously thought she was much younger than she is and shouted up: “Are your parents with you?” She shouted back: “Yes, she’s there,” pointing behind her to me.
And I waved at both Jack and Alex like a loony as Jack put his hand to his ear in a phone shape and mouthed: “Call me” at me.
Teengirl has been dining out on that ever since!
3. I went to Downing Street:
Because of this very blog I was invited as a guest of Mumsnet, The Railway Children and Aviva to a reception at Downing Street hosted by Samantha Cameron. And I was one of the few people selected to meet and chat with Sam Cam.
It was the most surreal, incredible, amazing day of my life. An experience I’m highly unlikely to replicate and one I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
4. Teenboy and I didn’t talk for 3 months:
For some secret reason teenboy opted not to go to Camp America for the summer and returned home instead. Just 3 weeks later he was going off the rails, a week later he’d totally lost the plot and stormed out. We didn’t speak for 3 months.
I descended into depression and apathy and anger. My hair began to fall out and continued to do so for many months. I stopped sleeping and I obsessed about my ability as a mother. I stopped writing on here, anywhere. I questioned myself over and over again desperately trying to work out where I’d gone wrong as a parent. I went back and forth in my mind over what to do for the best: do I seek him out and talk to him or leave him be to come back on his own. In the end I never made a decision I just let it linger on all the while feeling sadder and madder.
In the end he came back just before he went back to Uni and apologised.
But if I’m honest, I’ve still not properly recovered from it. It has caused ripples that have surfed through many parts of my life and my psyche still feels very vulnerable and my self-belief has been seriously dented. And our relationship remains fragile.
5. Teengirl got counselling:
In 2012 teengirl’s friend committed suicide and then she was bullied by an ex-friend who spread rumours about her sexuality. I took her to see a counsellor who I’d seen several years ago who practices new and innovative approaches. Teengirl had one session with him with his Metaphors of Movement. This was during summer half term holidays and when we left neither of us were quite sure if it had made a difference.
The summer holidays came and went and by the time teengirl went back to school in September my happy, outgoing, confident, strong and feisty girl had come back to me.
6. I became an award winning poet
I wrote a poem entitled Around the World in 80 words, entered it into the South of England Show competition and won with almost full marks.
7. Went on a streetwalk with homeless outreach workers:
Thanks to Mumsnet and The Railway Children I got to go out with outreach workers from New Horizons Youth Centre onto the streets of London to see how homeless young people live and how these workers try really hard to help them get off the streets and into safety.
Eye-opening, heartbreaking and humbling.
8. I saw Roger Waters perform The Wall live and cried:
I’ve loved Roger Waters since I first heard Radio Kaos when I was 18. The Wall was my go to album when teengirl was in the hospital as a baby with Comfortably Numb being my soundtrack to that horrendous time.
And with the opening bars to the wall crashing down I cried on and off for two hours as I sat in awe at one of my heroes.
9. Took teengirl to a Dove Self Esteem Workshop:
Another day I can never replicate that more mothers should be able to share with their daughters. I spent time with hundreds of teenage girls, listening to their worries and hearing their hopes and strengths. I felt like I was in the presence of some of our future female leaders.
This event gave me the greatest gift a mother can get: I learned that my daughter looks up to me that she thinks I’m fearless and amazing. And I’m an inspiration to her.
10. Supported teenboy through yet another argument with his estranged dad:
Teenboy has issues with his dad who lives abroad and who has never supported him financially or emotionally since he was 3 years old. This time his dad had tried to tell him how to live his life, told him if he’d raised him he’d be different and better, etc, etc, etc. Things a child should never hear from a parent. Teenboy’s a man of 20 now though and he shouted back this time. He said all the things that he’s kept inside for 10 years.
I got the call at midnight from my little devastated boy who doesn’t understand why his dad doesn’t seem to love him.
I went to Southampton the next day and we talked about his dad, their relationship, or lack thereof. I was worried he’d spiral down into depression again but he assured me he was doing ok. He clarified this when he told me he felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders by telling his dad what he’d wanted to say for many years. He hadn’t said it before because he was afraid he wouldn’t be loved if he voiced his feelings.
That night teenboy texted me to tell me he loved me, to thank me for always being there for him and for always loving him no matter what.
Our relationship has begun to be repaired thanks to an argument with his dad and we’re working on it, it’s not normal yet and still quite fragile, but it’s better. And he knows I will always be here for him.
* * * * * * * *
Yes 2013 was quite hard in some ways but in others it was out of this world amazing. I’ve learnt so much about myself and occasionally the kids have let me have a little insight into their inner workings.
So this year I’m going to continue to be fearless and strong by running headfirst into some new adventures including:
- Teengirl and I are launching a t-shirt line featuring some of her artwork and some of my photographs. Guess what everybody got for their Christmas?
- I’ve begun an NLP for Life Coaching diploma.
- I’m in the midst of creating a healthy weight loss system based around the principles I used to lose weight and keep it off. It’s due to launch in around April/May.
Have you looked back and liked what you saw? Have you been spurned on to take action to make 2014 better than last year?