Flower Girl of Steel

My Friend asked me if I feel angry. In moments I feel it rise up as I quickly convert it into something more useful in doing. There is no room or place for it in this. If I were to unleash it in it’s entirety I think i might turn this world upside down. Instead I harness it for the job at hand. But yes, I’m angry. Mainly with P. But she needs him. She really needs him in this. And until he deals with his own stuff, he is just another thing for her to worry about. she needs to worry about her. and so I find myself as his biggest supporter as I hold my own anger and encourage him and support him in trying to take proper care of himself and deal with the things that he hasn’t want to and doesn’t want to deal with. Putting him before me because I care but also because he is holding the key for her. So I feel that anger but I don’t. But I do recognise it and that is enough right now. Less suppressed and more contained and converted. It’s a different source of power that helps me to deal with it all.

What’s the point of getting up? I’ve got nothing to get up for. I just don’t want to do this anymore”Words spoken to me by my  daughter  as she has in other moments. The beginning of the daily challenge of getting her out of bed in time for the first meal of the day. Her dad in the other room saying something   Similar. It can feel exhausting in feeling it from both sides. She is trying really hard, he is starting to try but it feels hard. It is hard. Really bloody  hard. I feel both their struggles.  Often wanting to just take their struggles away. It feels painful to watch. Only can’t and I’m not. I can’t just fix this I feel my tendency to want to rescue but I know I can’t do that either. These are their own own journeys. All I can do is support. The weight of that on both sides feels really heavy as I try to hold it all up. I feel like superman in Man of Steel as he holds up that oil rig so the helicopter can take off. 

The  heaviness can make me question myself and often leave me owning the reasons for their struggles even though when I think about things more rationally I know how hard I have fought for a very long time. My arms feel tired  but my heart feels strong. It’s easy to question myself with my daughter. As with most things in mental health it all ends up lying at the feet of the mum. It’s no surprise that most of those heavyweight theorists were privileged men in a male dominated time. I’ve mused whether Bowlby’s mum sent him to bed early without any cookies?! It’s all mums fault! Of course I’m being facetious but for mums it’s all  a bit damned if you do and damned if you don’t, while doing the lion’s share of the work. Overly protective or neglectful. I know I wasn’t either but I’m not a perfect human being either. I have no doubt I have made plenty of mistakes even in all my good intentions. I can own them even if I’m not sure what they have all been. All I do know was that before that chapter she was always a very happy kid doing whatever she loved, and having her  friends. She always tells me how happy she was growing up and she wishes she could rewind back to it before the pandemic. Before this illness took control. That transition from  child to adult stunted in having her freedom taken away and being isolated at home in a less than a beautiful and wonderful environment at that point. Life has thrown its punches through a chapter and I did my best in putting myself in front of them. Those sitting pretty in their safe and secure ivory towers having no real concept of choice. Yes I wonder who they would be without that security.  

When J died it all went pear shaped. A very traumatic moment that affected everyone. She was the quiet and invisible might that held it all up. They say being  a mum is a thankless job. No one really appreciated how much she did until she was no longer there. Isn’t it always the way with those we love but take for granted. I always really tried to be the best mum I could be and have always shared  a beautiful  relationship with my daughter. Never needing to be thanked. Nothing selfless or sacrificing about  it. I just love her and love that she is in the world. Always grateful just in that. She is the greatest  joy in my life. Nothing about  being her mum is a chore. We evolved through age from mum to friends. Something that is beginning to help as she shows signs in beginning to open up. Just little snippets. Seeing  her dad trying and verbalising his struggles  seems to be giving her permission to do the same. I was banking on it. Early days. Only one week in and P following his own  plan but he seems determined this time which is raising my spirits In it’s subsequent impact on my girl. Obviously I care for him too, we have so much beautiful history but he is also a grown man who needs to own his stuff. But I’m supporting and encouraging . Just taking each day as it comes and trying my best in that. In the end I have  only ever wished for her and others to be well and happy and do and be whatever she/they want. Nothing has ever changed In that. I’ve always been very  simple in that but life and this world is a little more complicated. And stuff that has impacted on me that has hurt me and her, leaves me holding some anger and sadness. Because I didn’t deserve it. I know that. 

She shared with me yesterday why the pandemic was the trigger. But I know what came before must have affected her and left her vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. Chaos and insecurity ahead of chaos and insecurity. It’s been relentless. I hold my share in that but also knowing how hard I have fought for her and always being the grown up in that. The mum. And I know that P is holding so much guilt in how he behaved. It’s hard to reconcile those feelings  He knows. It’s why blame and anger is pointless at this point. We all know what we do in life. Those with awareness and a conscience will feel it. But at some point you have to let go of it. Actions speak louder than words for me. It’s why fixing things is so important to me. It takes real courage to fix. It’s easy to just walk away and say I’ll be a better person elsewhere leaving your trail of destruction behind you.  It doesn’t help those who got squashed on the way. The easy route. If you don’t know how to fix things then you’ll continually be walking away. I saw it in my dad as I held his hand and fixed it. He didn’t know how to. It’s why it took a lifetime and my little bros  intervention. Because he was too scared. Are all men just very little boys their whole life? No wonder this world  is such a bloody mess. The greater sex ?… As Jerry Hall  said “Men are a wonderful part of life, but my life goes on whether they are there or not. I think Jerry has evolved too. In the end I own and hold my own versions of guilt in whatever part I have played in this illness,  as I try to work out what will help and doing whatever it takes. Forgiving myself and others will come once I have released all the pure anger I’m holding inside. Most of it fuel  that is being converted into doing. That doing will eventually burn it all out but whatever is left will be given a safe release. I was inspired  with an idea. 

The pressure of holding  things up and the tiredness that comes with that can’t help but leave me questioning myself. So I have to rebuild myself back up each day just so that I can function in it and be what she needs. Feelings of insecurity and feeling  less certainly won’t help. Her feelings of safety being created through a quiet and  gentle strength. So that she feels like I’ve got this. But in moments when she shares that she is really struggling, I share  that I have lots of moments when I feel that too. Because we are all human and it’s ok to struggle. It is tough. But we just keep trying and have faith . She has hit a wall right now and pushing through it feels hard because she can’t really see it yet. Doing what is necessary because she is being told to by the two people she trusts most. She just can’t find that switch that turns the light on and says this thing is hurting me  and needs to be kicked into touch. It’s common for it to take a long time for someone suffering with anorexia to really see the harm it is causing and take back control. But in one week I can definitely see the difference it is making in seeing her dad starting to try. A feeling of solidarity in their struggles. And also being able to show those struggles as I find myself praising them both in their efforts as they share what they are finding hard. Just expressing that struggle feels like progress. I did laugh  to myself when P pointed out to me that he had polished round. As I thanked him. It wouldn’t help for me to say “what do you want a medal”. Encouragement encouragement encouragement! I feel a bit like a mum to two kids right now. But if it helps then I’m happy to play that part for a moment. Whatever helps  and works. Praise and encouragement all round in their efforts and trying. I actually do feel really proud of them  both. Trying is everything to me. But seeing them trying for themselves even more important to me. I will get to me at some point I tell myself. Learning is how I give that to myself at the moment. Fortunately I have my mum and my few close friends who provide me with some encouragement in moments too. I can in moments feel very lost in it all.But I encourage myself as I remind myself what I’m doing and feel proud of myself in that. The most proud of me I have ever felt in life actually. 

As for finding that switch. Sometimes you know there is something wrong but you just can’t see it. Not being able to find the switch so that you can you just press it. Sounds so easy and yet it’s really not, even when others see it and tell you. You have to see it yourself. When you are living in it and stumbling around in the dark trying to find it, it can elude you in a way that can create such inner confusion and frustration. Sounds like it needs a revolutionary and life changing moment. But the truth is you have to just search for it yourself and sometimes you just stumble on it  out of nowhere.  Looking for others to switch it for you is pointless because they often only see a fraction of the bigger picture and often see their own switch. Signposting and highlighting and challenging is as good as it gets. But encouragement right now helps them more. It’s easy to feel wise in what you are not living. Wisdom is as subjective as art.We can try to quick fix a million things with a plaster but until that switch is pressed it is meaningless. It’s just being able to function in this world. And sometimes that is enough. But to really change things requires a realisation, self awareness and ownership. And an honesty in who you really are. The real answers can only ever  really be found within yourself and you have to search very deeply for those. And that’s pretty scary and often painful. In this fast turning world where we all supposed  to have successful, happy and perfect lives who really has time for exploring themselves. It’s why quick fix therapy is more popular. Cheaper, faster and getting quick results. Even our hearts, minds and souls are being given the modern treatment of “on demand”. Achieve your best self in 12 simple genetic steps. It always feels like it has privilege stamped all over it with their set of values which of course comes with marketing and a price tag. I think I used to be influenced and impressed by so much as I put myself out in the world again after being a mum for so long. But I think my flower girl has refound her radar for bullshit. A bit like Shania  “it don’t impress me much” unless it comes with a whole lot of real and genuine and substance. It’s easy to be fooled by what looks and sounds good on the surface.  But when I had faith, really it was faith in myself in knowing that I was always being authentic. For me the version that I  can share with is someone who is relatable in being real and genuine and trustworthy and kind and caring, who just listens and tries to “get it”. Kind of like my closest friends actually. Only two of which are trained in these things but all having big hearts and caring souls. And genuine empathy is massively up there too. 

I think sometimes it’s probably easier to not think and just go with the flow. But I would feel  like I was drifting through a life numbly. And why I often find myself not wanting to flow with the many. Finding myself feeling more alone in that version than actually being alone and also left with a feeling of emptiness. I don’t have time to kill. There are so many moments in life (mainly when  I’ve tried to “better” myself)  where I have found myself surrounded by people who all seem to be singing from the same sheet and effortlessly blend together in that, while I find myself not knowing the tune. On the outside I  have found myself being able to blend in and liked but on the inside feeling like I have to adapt to their tune. Often feeling like  a fish out of water. I’m much better with individuals than groups. Much happier in that version. Same when I was growing up. Group stuff always feeling like a show to me. Perhaps I need to learn to sing their  tune but I  have never found the motivation yet to do so. I think because I prefer my own. I know the people I fit with. I have found them hidden amongst many in all different places., All of them being very different but all very trustworthy honest real and true. I have a type. . And feel safe and myself in that without having to pretend or perform and not needing them to do the same either. But in those different qualities there is a leveller in feeling  equal, no matter who they are, what they have or what  they do. I tend to see and swerve those who use those things to create a power differential.. Relationships made of mutuality are the only types I’m interested in. I’ve never been a “yes girl ” and never will be.  Genuine and real and not in need of others blowing smoke up my arse. I’m happy to be challenged as long as people are happy to be challenged back. But when I say I care I mean it. When I give a compliment I mean it. Otherwise I say nothing at all. But I can’t do pretence, superficial or holding up others egos. If you want a “yes girl” then best to swerve me . There are plenty out there . Some people like to give their opinions or judgements but are less receptive to receiving them unless it’s all wonderful. How can you ever learn anything or grow and evolve without being challenged. It’s only if it is seen  in their way that it them has value. Might as well just talk to  a mirror. Its the values that are the root of my successful and healthy relationships. The stuff on top is all the various colours that creates the rainbow. I love difference. 

I went to see My Fair Lady  at the Colosseum London   with my daughter the other day.  I like this story adappted from Pygmalion. The societal experiment in turning the common flower girl into a lady by making her speak proper … properly. I enjoyed it just in being there with my daughter and seeing her happiness in being out in London again and the relatability of people she recognised in the show that felt familiar. I can dissect  anything and everything and fill my mind with thoughts that often provide inspirations. These  aspects of the world beyond I really like. I loved the line of Mr Doolittle, father of Eliza who said “I am not in a position to have morals”. The dust man who had a simple life and was very happy in that and who said “they ruined my life” when his thoughts on morality suddenly made him a rich man and he suddenly felt like a prisoner in that. Preferring to just be in the pub with his mates.  I can’t afford morals either but I have bleedin well tried to ave em my whole life. I think that’s my religious upbringing and my mum’s talk of money not buying class that influences that way of being. Laugh if you like but they mean something to me. I don’t care what others do or don’t do. Freedom is everything. do what you want. But I know what feels right to me in how I live life. Not wanting to tread on others or climb over others or use others just to get what I want. To do  that would just leave a nasty taste in my mouth. The struggle is what has often provided  the beauty and the  gratitude. I’ve always believe and always will believe in every one having an equal chance in life but also in looking out for each other and being kind. It sounds so simple and yet we never really crack it as we are all supposed to aspire to the lives  and ways of being to those higher up the ladder. But I don’t. And just in that  I felt a solidarity with Doolittle senior. Meanwhile Eliza found herself conflicted in being neither the flower girl or the lady. “What do I do now” she asked of the man who took the credit in being the person who had made her a lady,  but who still treated her like a flower girl.  I found myself relating so much to Eliza in her journey to becoming who she had the potential to be. Which was very different to the intended version. The flower girl still living inside the lady. It resonated on many levels especially the song “without you”. 

I thought about it in relation to all the people  in my life who have not treated me so well. 

I find myself wondering sometimes what will be the right path for me in the future and where I will wish to go. I don’t know yet. But the fact that I wonder tells me that I am still looking to go somewhere. Focussing on helping my daughter has all my energy and attention and that is as much as I can cope with right now. But beneath that I feel my feistiness that had been lost in the difficulties but is coming out as I finally flicked that switch and felt myself rise as I walked back through Holborn with my girl and sat in Lincoln Inn Fields while we took care of her afternoon meal. And thinking how far I have come as a person from then. And feeling my growth from all those battles. Post traumatic growth in place of stress. I still feel the stress. It’s bloody hard. But all that vulnerability being transformed into quiet and invisible strength. Still feeling some vulnerability amongst it. I’m a human and a mixture of strong and gentle. I still really care and love. That will never change.  The flower girl will always be my root and sit at my core. .Feeling all those scars and that internal bleeding that I show in moments but mainly hide right now in order to function. But also feeling so very self sufficient. L & K especially put their hands out. And I appreciate that so much. I’m not an island and nor do I wish to be. But feeling safer with those who share similar values with caring natures alongside a lot depth. 

When we are in situations that threaten our safety and security they say we have a moment of Fight or Flight or Freeze. I am already fighting but have felt completely grounded. But some inspirations and lots of reflection has started to see me rising again as I find myself suspended in the  air. Not quite flight or freeze. Perhaps right now I am a mixture of all three. That feels a good combination in this current endeavour and certainly movement even if travelling nowhere. 

Why do I fight so hard for others? Because my dad didn’t ever fight for me. He left and didn’t look back and in that left me at the hands of an abusive  and  narcissistic stepdad who made all our lives hell. Once  when I found myself alone in the house with him as a young teenager of 13 he came for me. In that moment I ran to the kitchen to protect myself and picked up a carving knife which I wielded. Scared shitless little kid whose bravado told him that if he came any closer I would use it. I’m not sure if I would have? It scared me way more than him, I should think. But in that moment my response was to fight. Like a cornered animal whose survival instincts took over. He turned around and walked back up the stairs laughing and calling me unhinged. I wasn’t unhinged. I was just a child protecting myself from a predator and continued to do that by putting my bed in front of my door until I left school at 16 and got a job and moved out. Those teenage years being very difficult for me. Stopping me from doing what others took for granted. Working so I could be somewhere safe. Not telling my mum because I didn’t want to upset her. Eventually she saw him for who he really was and got rid of him. But it took a long time for her to find that switch. I finally told her while  I was on that course. Always left with a feeling that perhaps there was something wrong with me. Perhaps i was unhinged  Even though I’ve never done anything similar since and in fact am a very gentle soul who doesn’t wish to hurt another soul. But protecting myself and more so  others, most specifically my daughter being at the top of my priorities list. I blamed my dad for leaving me in that position. For leaving my mum so vulnerable and having to try to survive on her own with four kids and making her a prime target for a man  that seduced, manipulated  and controlled her. She told me during the pandemic that the moment she felt most free was the day her divorce from him came through. No one has been able to control her ever since.  T tries in moments but she just skips  back to her own place where she is always happy doing her own things. She wants him but she doesn’t need him. But she is still as warm  and loving and caring as she has always been. I think T likes  that she keeps him on his toes. Even if In moments he finds her exasperating. He knows she has a really big and  beautiful  heart and is completely authentic.  There is absolutely nothing fake about my mum She’s always kind and polite and friendly to anyone and everyone, but she’s nobodies fool.  She told me that  had she known back then what had happened to me it would have pressed her switch. She feels guilt in bringing him into our lives. But she didn’t know. She was the perfect target for a man like  him who can smell the vulnerability. And plays on kindness and compassion. Disguised behind his position of power of a deputy head teacher. Who would believe the “gutter rats” that he “rescued”. And at the time I didn’t want to ruin things for my mum or see her struggle in the way I had seen in her when left by my dad with absolutely nothing and having to do all those different jobs that paid the bills because she was too proud to go on the social. When I think about who she  was and is, I think how  epic she was and is.. I feel so proud  that she is my mum.   She could have done anything in life. Way more capable and intelligent than my dad. But she chose to look after us. And she absolutely tried her best  in that even if she did make some mistakes. She’s only human too. But she has always tried to rectify them learning as she went. She really is one of a kind and a massive inspiration  to me.  That girl who is getting closer to 80 is still dancing in the sun . She doesn’t give a shit about convention. She is totally her own girl. She tells me often that I will get to that too when  my important work is done. I feel it too. I don’t know why but I feel it too. I’m not done yet. Too much still living inside me. Rethinking in fact that weirdly  in in its very messed  up way, that perhaps this is my moment in the sun. A moment when I am finding out exactly who I am and what I’m capable of. It certainly doesn’t look and feel very sunny, in fact it’s an absolute dark storm but it is the most proud I have ever felt in life in holding things together and seeing the very gradual changes in them but also in myself. Requiring  so much more than I ever thought I was. But I take in everything. Learning and growing constantly. 

I told my girl tonight that she is a superhero. Her trying is epic. And she is really trying to fight for her life. Even though she still can’t see this illness yet. Or all her strength and amazingness in fighting every day with a villain that she can’t see. She just can’t see it. But she follows me in doing what she has to do to fight it. I can see it even if not In all it’s details.. And so she fights with it because I ask her to. Just because she trusts me. Until she finally sees it and can flick that switch that allows her to push through and fight for it  herself. Because she is worth so much more than what this illness tells her she is. So much more. She really is a superhero. But in the meantime I keep fighting for her. Every change or progress being a mini victory in what we are doing  together as I continuously now try to hand back that control to her. It’s gradual work without overwhelming her. But all these little things reminding her that she can do it again without me.Getting  to that place  she wants to get to. Where she  doesn’t need me. Because she is her own woman. That’s what we are striving for. 

I feel both of their frustrations projected on to me but I’m rebooting myself every morning as I sit in the garden early in the morning listening to music. I do the same when I go to bed. I am the person who is fighting harder than I’ve ever fought to help two people get up again. And trying to help her destroy this illness. This illness that is creating a living hell but I am standing in its flames and refusing to let it. I have quietly been where they are. Where you are completely depleted and feeling broken. I still feel it too in many many moments mainly when I’m tired. I’ve seen people unable to get up for so much less but I’m having to just push through it all. I am pushing through it as I find inspirations that help to lift me higher. Finding even more new strength by pushing everything else aside  and only concentrating on what is important. Helping my girl. Feeling like the most important thing I’ve done in all my life. And helping her dad is part of that. But he is struggling so much. I understand it. He’s  been through a lot and I’ve felt the same traumas. But one too many in seeing our daughter almost slip away. She came very close and that has affected us both as well as what it is like to live in it. Trying to rebuild yourself when there is something so big and important to deal with is not an easy task. But he has to try. And he is. It’s taken a lot to get to a point in trying. I feel his pain. I  feel the immense tiredness from trying to help her, him and survive it all myself and to just keep going each day. Adrenaline carrying me in those early moments but something different required in this daily slog.  Patience, commitment, resilience, determination, faith. But I’m going. More than going. I’m holding it all up and rising in it. Sleep is my best friend. Without it I think I would crumble. When I’m rested I can deal with it all more easily. The tiredness is what affects me most. 

I was completely unaware before that course In how much I had always carried us in all the basics. Didn’t recognise the strength that was in my quiet doing. That looked so insignificant and worth less but always made stuff happen. As though it materialised from nowhere. As though an invisible fairy had come along and waved a magic wand. In fact Ive never had a magic wand. It has always been quiet and invisible hard graft  that was so quiet that no one really saw or appreciated it. Its sounds cliche but their happiness was always my reward. It has always made me happy making others happy. But no one wants to feel used or taken for granted or Mistreated or treated like their life doesn’t have value. Any relationship has to feel feel like a team effort. Sometimes it is weighted more heavily one way like now. And I don’t mind because it’s more important. My friends supporting me through this long chapter and feeling more heavily weighted my way but gradually I will give it all back. And I think and hope that they know that I guess I made a rod for my own back  right from the start. I was just so happy when I found someone I felt completely safe with and was able to build a really beautiful life with. I wanted to give all that back by by doing al all the things I knew how to do and make it even more wonderful. But it meant that P never learnt how to take care of himself. His mum, me and then his daughter all taking care of him. When I was doing elsewhere and not having time to just take care of him he was as lost as his dad was  without J. He’s been lost ever since. Even though he took care of both his mum and dad in ways that are inspiring. He can do it. I believe in him. Seeing him now try is lifting me. too. I know that I am more than a flower girl or a lady.  Kindness, courage and hard graft will take us to our individual versions of “better”. An individual and collective journey. Helping my girl to be independent and be able to take care of herself again too. I can see how my own neediness was created in me during my moment of feeling very vulnerable. But how unneedy I feel again despite having to deal with this mainly on my own. My eleven year old reflections reminding me so much in how independent of mind spirit  and action I was and still am. I’ve never been a princess and never wanted to be in the traditional sense. I love the romance of life and believe in love and magic . And the dream of rags to happiness. There is a whole lot of Disney in the flower girl. But I always wanted to be a superhero. 

I’m  finding myself feeling like I don’t need  to belong anywhere other than to myself. The crowd creating its own safety in numbers. I am feeling enough in myself. Standing on my two feet And only wishing for the company of those who want to be around me but not needing those who don’t. I don’t want to be a damsel in distress or a one of those “I’m a strong independent woman” kickass types. I’ve got smarts and I wish to use them. I’ll find my way. Underneath warm and loving and caring and compassionate. But with some super powers to boot,  which I don’t wish to abuse but just use for good in whatever version that might look like.   I am  feeling more secure  in myself and who I am without anyone telling me. Not in an arrogant way. Just in knowing that I am a good  and decent person in the world with a caring heart and that I am capable of doing anything. This situation showing me  that. I have learnt so much more in these challenges than I ever did in two years in that room. Other than I know how to write an essay which was handy in getting a 2-1 for those  essays while I kept her in it. I don’t even know what a 2-1 is? I don’t take anything for granted in this. It can swing from one extreme to another in just a moment. 

It’s easier on some days more than others but we have come a long way from those early moments three months ago when I tried to help her to remove the agitation and frustration and anger more safely as I lay beside her and stroked her hair for half an hour. Holding her hands as she hit her head over and over again. Screaming out and throwing herself around. Some days it worked, some days not,  as a back and forth was required that could take hours and on those days it often ended in a war zone as all those feelings would be unleashed on me despite all that relentless patience and calmness. The illness just not wanting her to get out of bed and eat. Perhaps she just needed to get it out but hurting me wasnt/isn’t the greatest release. Well not for me at least even though often she felt better after. For a while. Three months feels more like three years. It’s been completely intensive care Keeping me safe hasn’t  always been possible, but keeping her safe has, as I’ve stood up strong in taking it. Even if it sounds weak. Because through standing strong that weight has gradually and painstakingly increased and those very small but significant changes have happened. Like watching and seeing the changes everyday in your child starting to stand up. The ends in those moments have justified the means. I was a mum trying to keep my daughter in this world . I would have done anything. And I would do it again in a heart beat. It has worked up until now as I have taken care of both physical and mental aspects of this illness. Still such a lot to do. The little bit of support from the clinic helping in keeping us on track but the work totally happening at home. You’re pretty much on your own in this illness despite how complicated and difficult it is. Our provision of out patient treatment for this illness in this country is absolutely shocking. It’s not their fault. it’s very specialist and underfunded. The preferred method  for dealing with mental health  in supporting them to help themselves. We are only just starting to get to that version. Not quite there yet. But I know as I reflect back that I was right in not letting her go to a place full of strangers where I think she would have given up completely. She often asks me how I am doing it. How I stay so calm in it all. How I still smile. And I tell her that I don’t really know the answer to that other than I try to find what I need inside of myself that I didn’t know I had just to keep going so that I  can help her to do the same. Because  I love her more than anything in this world. It’s amazing what you can find in yourself just through that basic feeling of Love. Love isn’t weak. It is the strongest emotion of them all and has a power that can lift you to a place that you think is impossible to get to. That is the power surge that happens overnight that helps me find more. It’s relentless and there are many moments when I think “I can’t do this” but I just keep  trying .  We have progressed since then. Often now just a five minute hair stroke and gentle encouragement before putting out my hand for her to take before she just gets up and heads to the shower. This morning she just got up. It felt like a revelation. Maybe in going to see My fair  lady. If I didn’t have to worry about the food aspect I probably would have tried a different tact. Allow her to self-soothe and find her own way up eventually. I know I can’t fix it. But this illness works very differently. In that scenario it hasn’t been an option. She would have stayed in her bed and not eaten a single thing until eventually she would have wasted away. Anorexia doesn’t care about a survival instinct. The powerful darkness of this illness is such that without eating it takes complete hold until it destroys you. We came so very close to that. Something I have to put out of my mind. The very thought of her not being in this world is too much to bear. And would leave me feeling like I wouldn’t want to be either. She is the person who provides meaning to everything I ever do in life. Without her I would be living in an empty and soulless world. This world needs her. I need her. To find myself wishing for, praying for and fighting for my daughter’s life has changed me profoundly forever. Life and death has a way of doing that. In ways I can’t really express. But the gratitude in her still being in this world is immense. And everything that I have become in that fight is what I’m most Proud of in the life I’ve lived. 

But every good thing has its flip side. And within all the work in protecting her and helping her to gain weight and what that takes, has also created her neediness in me that is inevitable but one that gradually needs to be removed again. She didn’t need me in this way since she was a baby in my arms. Just as we took that journey for her independence back then we need to do the same again. But this time it is little steps of reminders. Like relearning to walk. She knows how to do this but it’s gradual steps. I believe in her. I know she can do it. Her dad just trying to stand up again but I believe in him too. It’s hard. It doesn’t happen just like that. It’s just struggle and trying. Relentless trying. It doesn’t matter it he falls. It’s all about getting back up. The feeling of safety for her being so important right now but the feeling of independence for her being equally as important to me. And I’m very aware of trying to find ways to help her in that. This is an evolving climb and the same plan won’t work all the way. Where I would iron something she wants to wear she now asks for the iron to do it herself. It seems small but important in doing things at a pace that doesn’t scare her or send her backwards. Well sometimes she goes backwards but it’s all trial and error. Like a faster track of going from child to adult without it being so fast that she is overwhelmed. Just sitting on separate sides of the auditorium the other week was a tiny step in dealing with separation anxiety. Something she felt at the weekend and shared with me after returning from a weekend with her uni friends back at the house. Another risk worth taking in balancing her need to stick to the food plan while rebuilding a confidence in being able to take care of herself. She found it hard but managed for a couple of days. It’s a tight rope we are walking here and her realisation in her own feelings and being able to share them felt massive both in self awareness but also in vocalising it. She felt the comfort of coming home and feeling safe again but also the fact that despite all those feelings and the odd difficulty with the food plan that just for those couple of days she was ok. Rebuilding that secure attachment. I’ll be right here. She is way off being ready to go back in September right now but we have some time. It is a big part of her motivation in trying to get where she wants to get to. Having purpose, happiness, a life is a massive part of her recovery that still requires boosting her weight back up. That work continues every day. There’s a lot to try to deal with. It’s a complicated balancing act. And it can often feel overwhelming for me in trying to balance all those things on my own while her dad feels the tiredness and frustration in trying to stand up. I’m trying to give him space to do that but sometimes I need a moment when I’m shattered to take a respite for myself. I’ve never felt such tiredness. I have to get my sleep. 

On Saturday while she was away I got a rare  day to myself where I had made a plan to see my friend K. It’s the first time I had been out for a whole day on my own in so long. And it felt very strange as I walked through Pimlico to meet her on the way to Tate Britain. I should say at this point that sharing in that with her was wonderful. I know nothing about art other than “I like it… I don’t like it”. I tend to find something I like amongst it all. But on this occasion the exhibition she took me to was for an artist who I really related to. Helped I think by the artists  wonderful explanations of her inspirations behind each piece of work, how they were created and what they represented for her. Art is subjective. Everything is in the eye of the beholder. But there is something really connecting for me in understanding what it means for someone who created it. And from there I am able to interpret my version of that and whether I can feel it or not. Whether it resonates or whether it doesn’t. What it means to me or what it doesn’t. There were lots of things that I really loved. My friend K loving something different to me. I went home wondering what it was she loved so much about it and asked her the next day. As ever I was blown away by her response. It fascinates me so much in how her eyes see things. Often thinking how cool it would be to live inside her mind for a day and walking around seeing things through her eyes. That soulful quality coming through in her explanation in a way that I hadn’t been able to feel myself. But remembering it and loving it more through her eyes.And then thinking about what I really loved. Loved in a way that I don’t think I have ever felt when looking at art. Perhaps it was the humour that I found in myself in reading the artists explanation. Or how beautiful it looked in all it’s simplicity of raw materials and busyness and complete carnage. The artist blew up her shed with everything in it. All the random stuff that lives inside a shed. She filled it with explosives used by terrorists (a word I think she used with a much wider meaning than the version of terrorist we are given. I think that institutional terrorism was definitely in her mind. Or perhaps it was just in mine. It’s a very emotive word. The world of good and bad being very blurry when you pick it all apart beyond the simplistic version) and then pushed the plunger down and blew the whole thing up. God I bet that must have felt amazing as I wished I had blown up my previous shed before replacing it with the new one. I walked round the whole exhibition saying to myself “she blew up her shed”. My friend K buying me a magnet to remind me of what touched and inspired me so much in that moment. Because what that looked like in art form was a devastated shed that was put back together in a suspended form along with all the collateral damage in the various injured and very different everyday random things  that hung inside those pieces of wood, some of which had survived and some of which were battered. Looking as though it was a slow motion version of being blown up or a slow motion rewind in being blown up. Either way the feelings it created inside me are still sitting with me. But more so in putting something back together that has been completely destroyed and making it even more beautiful than it was originally. Definitely a metaphor for me in seeing my own life’s complete devastation. I felt like I wanted to be left there all night with it. To lie and sleep next to it. I  didn’t  know why. There was something reassuring about it. Something childlike too. Something macabre in its lighting. My friend found it calming. I found it awe inspiring. That something so simple and ordinary could create something so powerfully inspiring. That it could be suspended as if floating effortlessly in the air. I am looking at the magnet every time I go to the fridge and I find it really reassuring. There are a few things I would quite like to blow up. But I think I may just build a miniature version of a shed out of all the sticks of the mini milks my daughter has to eat and then fill it with random things that have hurt me in that chapter and then blow it up when my daughter is well again. I think perhaps a firework might suffice as my ammunition. And perhaps create a little sparkle after. I think K would approve of that. One day out and I sure did enjoy it to the max and finding inspiration that hadn’t previously existed through someone special sharing a world they love with me. A world that wasn’t given the space it deserved because it wasn’t understood. I didn’t always understand it myself as I shared with her but what I loved was it’s very different version to me. An alien version to my own alien but that held so much interesting and wonderfully fantastical stuff. And with such a goodness and generosity of spirit attached to it. I feel lucky to have met her as I do with all my closest people. All having something very specifically different to them but all having that same big caring heart that sits underneath. Just in being out on my own in the world again as I travelled there left me feeling like an alien and wondering if I looked like one. With just myself to take care of for a moment. It felt strange. If you are going to be an alien who doesn’t want to connect socially with the many or be noticed by others right now then London is the place. I could be Superman himself and no one would take a blind bit of notice especially if I put my glasses on. One of the many things I love about this City (a city that In moments I can lose affection for but I only have to look at the beating heart of St Pauls and I am reminded of my deep love for her and all the spectacular memories held within her. People come and go in it and often use it because it provides what they want and need for a moment. But for me she feels special. You could put me somewhere so much more beautiful and friendly and safe but it would never feel like home to me. Having to fit is not something I wish to do now. Belonging can take away loneliness but can also feel like a prison for me. 

love London because it is home. They say home is where the heart is. It’s absolutely where my heart is. It was the place I felt safest as a kid. It was the place that provided me with all the opportunities that I didn’t have before I left school. It is the place where I met all my closest friends. And it’s a place that feels very real in all its good and bad. I’m more of a girl next door who has some grit. Anonymous suits me much more right now. 

But meeting a friend I love and trust really helped. I’ll always be a girl made  more for intimate relationships than the crowd. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about super heroes. Superman and  Wonder Woman  being my favs. Loving Superman In all his ultimate powers because fundamentally he had a good heart and is always on the side of justice. And uses those powers for others rather than himself. Ultimately believing in humanity. I love the moment in Man of Steel when he goes into church and reveals to the priest who he is. and then flashes back to when he was a kid and challenged in “choosing what kind of man he wanted to be”. And I found myself thinking about who I wanted to be. I don’t have the power to change the world but I do have the power to be the kind of person I wish yo be that I can feel proud of. And as he walks away the priest says to him “sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. The trust part comes after. ”Those words sit with me a lot. I’m not ready to take any leaps of faith beyond my girl. I think I have lost a lot of faith in others. I put that film on everyday when I was working from home. It kept me going in moments I felt like just giving up. Sounds so silly doesn’t it. Ok so Henry Cavill was easier on the eye than a digital platform but there was something in his transition from boy to man and the various conflicts that existed inside him that resonated with me as I watched him each day save the people he loved and the world beyond. Love and Justice sitting at its heart. P has always laughed at me in my love of superheroes. But I believe that we all have a superhero inside of us. And a villain too. I guess it depends how we choose to use that power and who for. I feel like a flower girl in a red cape. 

My songs and clips represent my recent inspirations. Zimmer in the mix of course.Strength comes in many versions but the strength and beauty that comes through struggle is often invisible but it is what inspires me the most. 

❤️

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