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I haven’t had much time since my beautiful boy was born to be creative, so I was super excited once I finally found myself in a position to do so. I’ve missed having space I think, and creativity makes me feel good. Baby Boy is old enough now to enjoy playing on his own a little longer (and is sometimes happy to watch his mummy create) and I have just that little bit more energy.

The first thing I turned my attention to was painting a train on my son’s toy box. I wanted to make something that he would appreciate as he grew older, as well as spice up the boring white (which is currently in our living room so we look at it every day). It was super fun, though tricky as I was painting onto gloss and my faber castell pens weren’t drying. Baby Boy was pretty happy watching me paint though, which was wonderful.


I should probably mention that I finished this back in January. It has taken quite a while to write this post!

I also found a project online for a paper heart garland that I really wanted to try. The original picture that caught my eye was unfortunately not linked back to an original post, but the instructions I used are from this site and were very helpful. I completed this project during the evenings when my son was (mostly) sleeping and it really didn’t take very long. The perfect something cute to hang in our living room in place of the fairy lights which I loved but were increasing our carbon footprint just a little too much (and stretching our budget). I used slightly different lengths than the instructions tell you to. After trying several different combinations I settled on 16cm, 14cm and 12cm strips which fit well with the space I was using. I cut up pages of an old book I found at my Grandma’s house. I love that I have memories hanging up there, pages of fairy tales that my mother probably read as a child that have aged and become more beautiful with time.



Since then my son has been quite unwell with several colds, a throat infection and what I can only assume is teething, though there are no teeth visible yet (note – since writing this a couple of buds have started growing!) Over the first few days of his illness he was taking mammoth naps, and so I started working on a project for his room, and then slowly completed it over a few weeks. When I was small, my parents marked our heights on the doorframe so we could see how we had grown over the years. We can’t do that here, the house does not belong to us and there is a high probability that we will move at some point in the future – and I don’t want to lose those memories. So I have created a movable version from some wood my husband abandoned in the garage. Sadly I didn’t take progress pictures but here are some of the finished article:




Love this shot of Baby Boy appreciating my work!

The next project is going to be sewing related I can feel it. There are so many ways to reuse and recycle fabric and I am keen to learn something new. Unfortunately it will have to wait until I have acquired a sewing machine as I have never had one! I was a pretty poor sewer at school so it could well be a steep learning curve, so definitely taking my time to find a relatively good value second hand machine rather than splashing out on something new.

I’m experimenting with lots of other ways to save at the moment (having children is expensive!) More on that to follow I am sure. For now I will leave you with this photo of Baby Boy finding a creative way to eat his noodles.



Catching my breath

Parenthood. Oh my. Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be like this? These days I barely have time to pee, let alone write a blog post, and all romantic notions of my baby sitting in the wrap close to my skin happily all day, sleeping and taking naps (during which time I would be able to do the housework AND find time for myself) are LONG gone, together with most of my expectations and plans. Nothing, in fact, went according to plan. Not the birth, not the following weeks and months, and none of my ideals. I have learned to be flexible, and to let go.

It is, however, totally worth it. There are moments – lots of them – when my exhausted, sleep deprived self wonders what on earth I was thinking; trying to comfort a teething, frustrated and tired baby who refuses to nap and hates the car seat and the pram (against all odds, apparently). Definitely one of them. Running up the stairs for the fourth time in half an hour to put the dummy back in. That is another. (Can you tell we have hit the four month sleep regression?!) Yet there are moments when the joy blows me away and I realise exactly what Brené Brown is talking about when she says that joy is a form of vulnerability, because the fear of losing him is enormous. The smile that greets me when he sees me for the first time each morning. The smell of his neck, and the way he licks my face when I try to kiss him. The earnestness in his look. His excitement at bath time. The little things of myself or my husband that I see in him as he grows and changes and learns new things. All these things and more make it SO worth it and intensify the joy – and the vulnerability. Yet loving him is amazing and a privilege and WAY better than the alternative of cutting myself off emotionally in order to cope with the fear of loss, (though I do cry more).

I definitely wasn’t ready for this four years ago before I started therapy. I’m not sure that anyone can be fully ready or prepared for parenthood. Nobody tells you about the shock of it, the way it feels like you have run full tilt into a brick wall. The way time passes and it is December when you are still somewhere in August. It has been interesting watching myself through the process, and noticing how I have managed and coped with each stage in ways that would have been very different four years ago. When I had to let go of my birth plan at the hospital, that was ok. I didn’t even panic. When our baby really struggled in his first few weeks, and was very unsettled I loved him through it (and cried a lot). When I had to let go of my plans to breast feed I did what was best for him not for me (and cried a lot). And even though I don’t know if I have done enough for him to feel connected and loved and safe, I am trying to love my imperfect self and keep going, keep learning, keep loving. It is HARD. And my heart melts every day. But it is worth it. (And I cry a lot).


Life is the process

Yesterday was my last official session with my counsellor. As I wrote in my previous post, we had begun the process of detaching and ending many months ago, and yesterday we reached that last hurdle. The Ending.

Interestingly, it felt more like a celebration than anything else. We did it was the phrase most strongly in my mind. It has been a long and difficult road, but we made it and I feel proud of the accomplishment.

Over the last months we have reviewed our work together, and reflected on the changes that I have made and that are still making themselves apparent in various ways. Something that became clear a few weeks ago is that I no longer see the process as restricted to the work we have done together. ‘Trust the process’ has been a major motto for us (it is a general therapeutic theme anyway). At times it has kept me going through the tough bits, given me perspective on the process as a whole and hope that we would make it through to the end. At others it has wowed me with its truth as over and over again I realised that the process had naturally led us where we needed to go, that we went there and we changed. (Well, mostly me). Throughout our work together however, I have thought about this in terms of our process. Our four years, seven months of working on and through and beyond – this has been the process I have been trusting in – sometimes desperately – to bring me to a better place. Now I see things differently.

Now I see life as the process. It is bigger than just our work together. The process continues, and as I move on into new things I can trust that process too. It is a testament to how I have changed, and my perspective has broadened. I don’t feel afraid any more of things that are out of my control, of change and growth and moving forward because I believe these things are part of the process and that I have the resources to manage.

This ending, though sad, sees me moving on in a big way. I am certain that this next phase of my process will have HUGE things to teach me, that there will be many hurdles and challenges to face and great joys as well. I feel excited and nervous and new all at once – and I’m looking forward to sharing some of that process with you too. As a consequence, this blog will have a slightly different focus. Not wholly different – it is still a part of my process as it was before, but not my therapy process any longer. My life process.

I have written a number of times on this blog about the difficulties and challenges of grief and infertility. As part of my process it has certainly been one of the most challenging ‘here and now’ experiences that I have ever had to work through – and at times intolerable. Nevertheless it has been part of my experience, and although I can’t claim to have had decades of working on this I do know the taste of bitterness and pain that comes with struggling to conceive and have a family. On that, I needn’t say any more (though I recommend this article that was written recently on the topic) because this is a part of my process that has, after much time, changed. At this moment of writing, I am 37 weeks pregnant, and as you can imagine the emotions that come with that statement are both huge and varied.

This isn’t to say that I won’t be writing about therapy at all. I am still a counsellor, and although that part of my life is on hold for now, it is still an important aspect of who I am. For now though, I am excited to be anticipating what being a parent might have to teach me about life, vulnerability and courage. All the things I have learned and grasped over the last four and a half years will be a huge part of this next experience. I have a lot now to draw on that I didn’t have before, but it will be hard. I will screw up. I will definitely screw up. But that too, is part of the process, and I can’t wait to see where it will take me.



It’s not what I thought it would be, when I was in the middle of the attachment crisis that shaped our work. Don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be significant grief when we arrive at our ending – this woman has been such an important and central part of my life over the past four years that it would be incredulous if there were none, but it won’t be the painful, harrowing experience of attachment trauma that I was expecting and dreading.

At the height of our attachment, our work together was all I could think about. I was so very submerged in the process of learning to connect despite horrendous fears of losing that connection, that detaching was impossible to imagine. However over that time those child parts of me that were unable to conceive of being without an attachment figure, once they had found one, were able to receive enough of what they needed, and our interactions gradually shifted towards something different. I began to notice sessions in which I arrived feeling very much in adult, and able to enjoy a different level of relationship that allowed me to leave at the end of the session without feeling heartbroken. Those child parts who were initially desperate to be heard, understood and loved felt secure and comfortable, trusted that I could speak up for them, more or less, and believed enough that I was cared for that they weren’t as activated as they had been previously.

It was a slow gradual process that saw weeks in which the child parts and their fears and insecurities popped up again, and weeks in which they felt very much settled and secure. Over time they needed her attention less and less, and our relationship moved into a more adult-to-adult interaction. One in which I felt strong and equal. I depended on her less and felt less like I needed her to survive. I appreciated everything she had taught me  of course, and still had very deep feelings for her but they weren’t the same needy longings for a mother figure. Instead they became feelings of heartfelt gratitude, deep respect and genuine love for another adult, one with whom I felt on an equal footing – just as prone to screw up as I was but one hundred percent valued and worthwhile.

At this point in our relationship I have confidence in myself and have began to form dreams and hopes for my own life, things I can begin to pursue on my own. I feel safe enough to leave the nest and while I might not want to cut our relationship off completely, (there will always be a part of me that misses her and remembers being held and nurtured by her very fondly) I am no longer attached in the same way. I have begun to learn how to nurture myself, and allow others to do so too. To ask for help without shame and feel less afraid of making mistakes. Which of course I will do!

And so I am not crippled by fear at the thought of ending now as I used to be. It doesn’t feel threatening. I can only describe it as a shift from having that desperate young need for a mother, to feeling like an adult who is filled with all the things a good enough mother is able to instill in her children – courage, confidence, playfulness, the knowledge that they are good enough and a sense of adventure – ready to leave and explore the world outside. Not forgetting what came before or severing the relationship (or sense of relationship) completely, but able to draw and build on it as I go out into the big wide world.


on being silly

I feel full to bursting with stuff to process after today. I’m so full with it I’m not sure where to begin. She is so gentle and tender with me, I find it so overwhelming at times, washing over me and taking my breath away

It feels like we have gone back to some old messages a bit, some of the things we’ve worked with before. Its not that I haven’t changed – there is a different feel to it – but it’s perhaps because it needs reiterating right now, and perhaps because it’s been avoided for a little while. I remember fighting so hard at the beginning to be vulnerable with her, to risk vulnerable work and being seen. It took a long time to trust her with it, and once I’d got there a lot of our work had moved into the transference and attachment sphere. And after we had worked through the bulk of that, perhaps it was easy to feel we had got somewhere and for my adult to avoid the little one more than was good for me.

And so now we are back with her, and she needs reassuring again that it is safe and ok, that she is allowed and that it isn’t silly. And my critical voices need quietening; as an adult I need to remember what I’ve learned about vulnerability and connection. About being willing to be a little silly because I am enough and being fully myself even where that is silly is the only way to be authentic and connect meaningfully. And I need to remember what she has taught me about herself too, that she can be trusted, that she cares, that she loves and that she is willing to do this stuff herself. That she has done this stuff herself, and not found it silly.

It was a little difficult, but I went with it first this time, and asked questions later. In a way, there is a link between what we talked about and the struggle I had with being seen. It has been a long time since I’ve felt that yucky feeling about myself. I had forgotten what it felt like.

Under the blanket, safe and away from being seen is like being in a cocoon. There is a little room to stretch, but not quite enough to feel comfortable, and it is a little hard to breathe. But it feels safe and warm, and less vulnerable. Still I feel awkward. I wriggle about trying to get comfortable. I suck my thumb, I get into a palaver with my hair (it’s getting in the way, all knotted up and slightly damp). I’m sure it is yucky, just like later I’m sure the running nose is disgusting and I get hot and bothered.

Settling a little, I start thinking about the weekend. What it felt like to be there with familiar scents and the undercurrent of home. I remember how hard it was for me to tell my parents how much pain I was in after walking so far. I felt guilty, and not good enough. That somehow I had let them down, and was afraid it would alter their good opinion of me.

Because they do have a good opinion of me, and that is a new and tenuous feeling that is all too fragile for me to rock. I am so grateful for what I have now, the knowledge of their feelings of love and pride for me as well as their own fragility, that I am very wary of damaging that delicate balance.

For the little one though, it is super painful. Because no matter how wonderful it is now to know they feel about me the way I’ve longed for them to feel all my life, they still don’t know me in all my fragility. In particular, they don’t know her, the little one who was so lost and alone, whose parents were there but not there. She didn’t have the comfort and understanding she needed – and in reality she never will. For her, my parents will always be ‘there but not there’ even as my adult enjoys a different kind of relationship.

And so for her, the return home was poignant and painful as well as joyful. She is desperate for him to be happy, for both of them really but right now, particularly him. If he is happy then she knows he understands that she loves him, and accepts it, and that is ok. That she is ok. If he is happy then the world is safe and ok and good. My adult has an equal need for his happiness, her tenuous link on their good opinion and shared relationship is too new, too precious and she is terrified it might be lost. What damage could be done, if something bad were to happen for him, what grief might it bring to her as well?

So I was stoic and brave, and walked the last few miles in a quiet agony, so I wouldn’t spoil anything for them.

The little one was distraught and cried profusely. And this left her drowning in tissues with a blocked nose and again feeling awkward, disgusting and yucky. In that hot and bothered state the fear of what I’ve said and shown and what I am is suddenly heightened and the critical part of me takes over. This is stupid, she is disgusting. And underneath is that desperate longing to be ok, to be accepted and loved and not disgusting. But my adult is convinced that snot covered tissues and talking in a baby voice are not endearing traits and that I may have inadvertently let my guard down too far. Maybe this time she thinks I’m silly. I can see her through the blanket but the weave obscures her face. It looks blank to me and I can’t tell what she is thinking. But lifting the cover from my face would expose me too and that feels very frightening.

But with her ‘there not there’ is a parallel – I am also there but not there, under the blanket. It isn’t possible to have a real connection that way, for her to be present with me, and that is what she needs. She needs to be seen.

It is hard – so hard, but with her close and encouraging me I begin to emerge, slowly, painstakingly and let her see me. At first I can’t look at her – I am afraid of what I might see. Some part of me thinks this is ludicrous – I know her after all this time, I know what I’ll see. And yet that little part of me feels disgusting and is afraid. She has let some of herself out, and isn’t sure yet that is ok.

When I do look, I can’t speak because it is overwhelming. What I am longing for, what I need is right there.  That gentle understanding and complete acceptance, and it is, absolutely, overwhelming. I am overwhelmed, by love. She invites me to come nearer and I have a precious bit of time feeling completely safe, wrapped up in her arms, loved and accepted.

It surprises me that I am learning these lessons all over again, but I’ve learned enough to accept that it is needed, and that it will come. I know one day I will be brave enough to be whatever I need to be while there, and be seen without fear. I will be able to fully accept myself, to accept those parts of me that I struggle with, and be able to share them – even when they are less than appealing – because they are there. And I will be able to trust that they will be accepted and understood, not ridiculed or shamed.



A session today and I haven’t even journalled last week’s yet. I am concerned that I’ve forgotten the salient details, as I’ve been so busy with other things, but I’ll try and write what I can.

We talked mainly about a weekend away, the increase in pain I’d had whilst there, and what might be going on for me in that. One theory I had was that it was going away itself that triggered the relapse – that whenever I go away I often experience an increase in pain where in the past I would have suffered with panic. So we talked about what it was like to go away and how it left me feeling, trying to connect to my inner child.

Interestingly, it took me back to when I was a small child sleeping in a room by myself for the first time. I remember that room, that ugly depressing room. I remember lying in my bed with the covers pulled up tight over my head, barely able to breathe and yet afraid to breathe too loudly in case there were robbers in the room. I was terrified of robbers – I don’t know why – I used to lie there terrified, but unable to ask for help. Because of course my parents weren’t the type to be reassuring and helpful, they would have been angry and dismissive and sent me back to bed.

So perhaps those nights I spent alone and shivering in fear were the precursor to the fears I have now. Oh, I’m not afraid of robbers any more. And I no longer have panic attacks at night, although I did suffer through more than ten years of them. However I feel safest and most comfortable when I am at home, surrounded by familiar smells and the comforting presence of my husband, the things I feel at home with. Away from home, I feel dislocated and uncertain, on alert for what might happen. Anything might happen, my little one says. Anything – be ready. And what if you aren’t? What if you are sick, what if there is no-one to come, what if you hate it. And so my body responds with tension and pain, and I end up feeling those things anyway. Whilst away on the weekend I was in tremendous pain, pain that made it hard to connect to others. I felt ridiculously tired, and that left me shivering in fear just as strongly as the robbers did when I was small. I spent a lot of the weekend lying on my bed, trying to block out the pain and tiredness, and yet inside I was clenched in fear and very uncomfortable in my surroundings which weren’t at all familiar, weren’t at all safe. I was alone, and afraid.

Not so distant from the past after all.

I suppose the last ten years have taught me that the world isn’t as safe as I’d once thought. That our bodies are not immune to illness and that we may not always be strong enough to manage everything. That I am vulnerable, fragile. And this terrifies me, terrifies my inner child particularly, who despite being terrified of robbers did believe her parents were able to keep me safe the rest of the time. Terrifies my inner teenager who believed being strong and fit was all that was necessary to stay safe. Believed that all she needed to survive was a tent and a small stove, and dreamed of running away with just a rucksack on her back. And terrifies me, as an adult, who has been through pain enough to leave its mark, emotionally speaking. And physically as well of course – my body does a good job of betraying me regularly. Or so it seems.

Perhaps I need to be more gentle with it. And with my inner child, who after all – just wants somebody to come.



I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately, and in particular this idea of being willing to own your story.¹ For me this has often meant finding the courage to continue walking in my story despite how painful that can be at times, particularly where it has involved a lot of grief over our difficulties conceiving. In these moments, courage has been the word that has kept me going.

More recently however I’ve managed to find a bit of perspective, and I’m beginning to feel more comfortable with the thought of this taking some time and to accept that it may yet be several years yet before being a parent is part of my story.

So in the last couple of weeks I’ve also been thinking about risk, and the willingness to be courageous in risking oneself and giving things a go, and actually that’s quite a vulnerable thing to do, to put oneself out there and try something when you don’t know whether or not it will work.

It has been so helpful for me in this context to read about Issa’s project; ‘101 things in 101 days’. Her courage in leaning into discomfort and being prepared to take risks in order to grow has been inspiring.

Taking risks – particularly ones that involve our vulnerability – is a courageous thing to do, and I have been considering how I can be courageous in this way myself. There have been times when what I’ve needed is simply enough courage to keep walking. To take the next step. Now however I am beginning to feel ready to exercise a different type of courage, and am putting together the beginnings of an idea for taking a risk of my own – for giving something a go even though it may not work. And I think that’s quite scary, but I’m ready to try it. To put my stuff out there. Stuff that I’ve poured my heart and soul into, stuff that might be rejected or ignored – but to do it anyway.

It’s going to take a lot of preparation and thought, but I’m in the early stages of starting up an Etsy shop and selling prints of the paintings and things that I’ve created as I’ve been walking this therapeutic journey; things that represent my thinking and my process but also that have inspired me and helped me to keep going. And the pieces I’ve created on courage are a good example of this, pieces that have helped me – reminded me to be courageous and to give things a go, and so in a way putting these pieces out there epitomises my thoughts in this area.

It’s about risking vulnerability, being willing to be vulnerable. And that is a risk that is rewarding in so many ways. If we don’t risk then what do we gain? Nothing. We live our lives in fear and that’s not something I want to do. I want to experience life and give things a real effort. So in that spirit I have ordered myself a nice new lens for my SLR, which I’m thinking will allow me to take some reasonable shots. I’m investigating prices at the moment, that’s a little bit scary – the thought of shipping and all of that, no idea what I’m doing. But I’m going to take a risk and see what happens, something that’s been a part of my therapeutic journey as well in fact, something I’ve reflected on a great deal as we have moved through it – what it means to take risks and be brave in my process. And now I am finding that talking about ending is a fairly risky thing for me to do too, and that’s taking quite a bit of courage at the moment.

If I do go ahead with this new project I feel that my creativity is only present and worth anything when it’s been born out of vulnerability, and this journey that I’ve been taking this last four  years, this therapy journey, is one that has really promoted that vulnerability and creativity. So if I am to continue creating once it has ended I’m going to have to find ways of continuing that search for vulnerability and truth in my everyday life because that is the only thing that is going to allow me to have any creative authenticity, any validity – it needs to be real, from my soul. And that is a different kind of vulnerability from the kind that I’ve been doing in therapy, but it’s still vulnerability.

So, I’ll keep you posted and let you know how things are proceeding. I’m feeling scared but excited!

¹ If you haven’t heard this before do check out Brene Brown and her TED talk, or check out her blog.


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