**trigger warning – this post deals with issues of child abuse**
I’ve learnt a lot in court these last few days.
I've learnt I can deal with repeated traumatic memories without breaking. I have had to re-live the trauma of the abuse 4 times over 2 days. In detail. It hurt. It caused me to repeatedly abreact and melt down. It’s a shame my Nike Fuelband doesn’t track full body shakes! I haven’t stopped shaking yet. Every now and then a tremor starts at my elbow and runs up across my shoulders and swirl around in my gut. But I was still able to chat after. I was still me.
I've learnt that, if anything, the story I carry of my early childhood was under played in my mind. My school said we were starved and skeletal, covered in bruises and badly neglected. I didn't realise the school knew this. I didn’t realise social services were involved. Both the defence and prosecution barristers repeatedly referred to my early childhood as horrific. It was sobering.
I realised that, for the first time ever, I feel sorry for the younger me.
I've realised that what happened really did happen and no matter how I am questioned – the truth is just that.
I have learnt I have the best friends both from now and my time at school.
I have learnt that I had more of an impact on the people in my life then I ever dreamed.
Most of all I have learnt that I am strong and, in the truest sense of the word, brave. I can face my biggest fears head on and be OK.
I have learnt these lessons thanks to all of you - who held my hand all through. You who believed in me. You who reminded me at every hurdle of how far I have come and how far I can go.
I have learnt a lot.
I believe me.
This process has been brutal. There really is no other word to describe it.
But I have learnt a lot about myself from it. I wouldn’t choose court therapy as approach, but you need to take what you can from each situation you are in – no matter how hard!
I believe me. I believe in me.
Today the jury will deliver a verdict. The verdict matters but it doesn’t reflect on me. I have done everything I can to protect others. Hopefully the process and proceedings of court will deliver the result I was aiming for.
She will be 7 in July.
We got a letter home confirming the terminology that would be used for different body parts.
It’s always been a bit of a challenge for me, given my childhood circumstances, to make sure she is aware but not paranoid about all things sexual. We have tried to teach her about appropriateness and boundaries. She knows we never keep secrets in this house and she knows that her body is hers and no one can do anything to it that she doesn’t want. We want her to be body aware but see nothing wrong with it.
It’s a difficult balance for a child that loves to run around naked showing everyone her bum!
We have rules, like if you say stop then whoever is doing whatever stops immediately.
We refer to body parts as ‘bits’. It’s easier that way.
So education about the body is a good thing and it doesn’t do any harm for her to start understanding why we say she should get dressed in private now etc.
But she’s still young. She watched the new Karate Kid with us the other day and was convinced Jaden Smith (Will Smith’s son) who played the main character, was a girl. He had hair in dreadlocks and was only 12 years old so there weren’t many clues he was a boy. Until he did a scene with his top off and she went “oh yes, he’s a boy”
But it’s still confusing for her.
And quite frankly the timing couldn’t be worse. Having a frank and unbiased conversation with my daughter about the difference between boys and girls etc when I have a court case in the next week is like poking me with a red hot poker constantly. But I will not let my screw ups screw her up. I refuse.
So she gets off the school bus on Wednesday (yes she now goes to school on a bus woo hoo!) and she starts telling me what she has learnt.
“Girls have a venja…I think that’s what it’s called…and boys have something that begins with a p” I explain the correct words.
“And boys have seeds and when they put their willy in a girl the seeds go in and make her pregnant”
And then we start talking about something else because, let’s face it, the attention span of a 6 year old for one topic can only be counted in seconds.
Later that day she is talking to the hubby and explains that she is worried about being pregnant because she accidentally went into the boys toilets.
This is the problem with this level of education. They can understand differences between boys and girls but the subject of getting pregnant? Well that can be very confusing!
April has been amazing. Off the scale amazing. It has been so busy and my best month ever to date has been blown out of the water.
It’s been brilliant and just what I need.
Because in May I have a black hole in my diary.
It starts on the 17th May when I travel down to North Wales.
The trial starts on the 18th May and will last 2-3 days. I will stay there until the verdict although I am only required there for the 18th to testify.
I keep glancing at my watch. Not to look at the time, but the date. 1st May
11th May I travel down to talk to the CPS barrister on the 12th. This is the first chance to get some idea of what I might be asked. I hope. And I hope not. I will also visit the courtroom for the first time to get familiar with it.
1st May. 11 days and then only 17 days. Time is flying.
Soon it will be time to do something that is probably one of the hardest things I will ever have to do.
Downtime is hard. Busy is good.
It’s getting harder. Sleep is elusive now. Any sleep I get is filled with horrible dreams.
Busy is good. Downtime is getting harder.
But it will be over soon. And when it is, I can reclaim the final piece of me that is still hanging on to the past – the outside me hasn’t caught up with the inside me yet. It’s not ready to until I let go of this last thing.
May is when I let go.
June I reclaim me.
Then there will be no limits.
1st May. 17 days to go.
Quite a long time ago we booked a special deal to stay in the Village Ashton Moss Urban resort in Manchester. We stayed in this hotel for the MIL’s funeral and we all love it. It has free wifi, free use of leisure facilities including an excellent pool, 2 on site restaurants and a Starbucks in the lobby. What’s not to love? It also is right next to the tram line and the family room configuration really works.
So we booked a deal with 2 nights for 4 of us (2 adults and 2 kids because we went with a friend and her boy) which included dinner one night and breakfast both mornings.
We then made plans for what to do each day. On the drive down we passed the Trafford Centre so we went to the Lego Discovery centre. We loved it and spent over 4 hours there. We used the “adult goes free with a child” voucher off the Kelloggs packs, which I was glad of because it’s very expensive.
But we all loved it.
(the little one believes she’s a unicorn right now. This is the entrance to the Trafford Centre)
There is a ride where you go round and shoot lego men and trolls. The little one was sulking because she wanted to go on the carousel outside the Discovery Centre (I hadn’t realised at the time) I was trying to get the bad guys but my gun wasn’t scoring. Josh aced it and did most of the scoring and my friend Jenni was just having fun!
This ride went round and round and the faster you pedalled the higher you went.
The little one and I had great fun on it
And she did get a shot on the carousel
We had a great day all in all and spent over 4 hours in the Lego Discovery Centre. We went back to the hotel and had a lovely dinner.
That night the little one got earache and was up from 2am crying. I had one sachet of Calpol which allowed her to get a bit more sleep but basically between 2am and 7am she slept in short bursts, on me. Meaning I couldn’t get any sleep. She also kept crying and saying she missed the hubby and wanted to go home. So in the morning my friend took her little boy for a swim and we both went back to bed for an hour. She seemed a little better after that.
The plan for the day was Chester Zoo and the weather was glorious.
Can you see the queue? Easter + nice weather = busy! There were two lanes of cars queuing to go into Chester Zoo. Each was streamed off in a different direction. There were 4 full fields of cars plus the main car park. And they were still arriving – this was at about 11:30 and the zoo opens at 10. We were really glad we bought our tickets online. Apart from the price being £20 cheaper, this also gave us fastrack entry.
Chester is a fab zoo. Loads of different animals, all within easy reach. And you don’t feel ripped off. These cups cost £8 and had unlimited refills. Every snack shack (all over the park) would refill the cups whenever you wanted. We got one to share between two of us – and with the weather being so lovely it meant we never went thirsty.
I met my best friend from school and her daughter there. She was up visiting her dad on Anglesey. The shame was that after an hour or so the little one started feeling rubbish again so I ended up leaving Jenni and my friend, Ruth, who had never met, to wander the park together! I felt so bad, and it meant we didn’t get a proper catch up.
I took the little one back to the car and she had another nap. When she woke up she said she didn’t want to leave the car and wanted to just go home to her dad. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t think straight because I’d had no sleep. We phoned the hubby and he persuaded her to take more medicine and go back in the park.
We managed to see some animals.
She loved the giraffes most of all
Mind you, she was equally impressed by this massive range of slushy flavours!
We went through the gift shop at the end and she got these two. Elvie on the left and her mum, Geraldine, on the right. The prices were really reasonable in the shop. I was pleasantly surprised.
Despite illness, she did manage to enjoy a fair amount of the zoo. I just didn’t get to spend much time catching up with my friend. It’s been about 15 years since I last saw her!
Both kids were very happy with their new friends. As ever, they really enjoyed their time away together. They get on so well. And we had a great holiday too.
I am having a giveaway of my book on Goodreads. Click to enter. Also you can ask me questions about my book on there. That would be great. Otherwise with no reviews on there so far, and no questions, I look like a Billy No-Mates!
A friend shared the following link with me the other day on 15 Questions to Ask Your Kids to Help Them Have Good Mindsets.
I decided to ask them to my daughter, who is 6. I also decided to answer them myself.
Maybe you would like to try?
Daughter: Beautiful on the inside, Kind, Like playing, Don’t like seeing people upset, Like playing with friends
Me: Determined, amusing, caring, daft, impatient!
Daughter: Playing with friends
Me: Hanging out with my daughter (also doing talks and helping clients)
Daughter: Teach them how to be happy
Me: Teach them how to be happy!
Best – Snow and Sledging.
Worst – When I get shouted at.
Best – Having my daughter
Worst – Losing my son
Best – Be careful not to crash into trees
Worst – Shouldn’t be upset because mummy and daddy are looking after me
Best – I am capable of loving in a way I never thought was true.
Worst – It was not my fault and the Universe is not against me
Daughter: Be Kind. I don’t want to be a nasty bully when I grow up
Me: My clients and my family teach me stuff every day. I am not planning on growing up any time soon though
Daughter (really struggled with this one): Go to sleep. Don’t mess about
Me: It gets better.
Daughter: I feel grateful that I have you as parents
Me: Everything. I feel like such a lucky person.
We skipped this one because it didn’t make much sense.
Daughter: Josh, because we spend most time together
Me: I don’t care! Who I like is nobody else’s business
Me: For writing a book that everyone can relate to and for helping people where others couldn’t
Daughter: Everyone would like me and do everything for me! (Pretty much describes her life right now lol)
Me: I would stop people judging others.
Daughter: Give them a great big hug.
Daughter: Be friendly. I don’t want bullies in the world. I want everyone to be kind and helpful
Me: Stop believing you can read minds and live your life for you.
The other day I got contacted by a rep from Wallpops asking me if I’d like to try their stickers and blog about them. I have used wall stickers before and I’m a big fan of them. It’s such a simple way to brighten a room.
These guys say their stickers can easily be removed and it made me realise that now was as good a time as any to decorate the little one’s room. I have been promising I would do it for a while now. I didn’t want to do anything permanent that she would grow out of so stickers are the perfect solution.
The walls have been the same colour since we moved here 14 years or so ago. Yellow with white flecks.
So the little one and I picked the stickers she liked from the Wallpops website.
They arrived within a couple of days. Oh no, that meant I had to do it now!
We got a decoration and a chalk board sticker.
Then we went to The Range to get some soft furnishing
A giant shoe bean bag wasn’t really on the list but I couldn’t resist! Also a stool for her desk and a nice soft mat for the floor.
Then we had to paint. Lots of painting to be done. I never realised how frustrating it can be having a small child “help” you paint until yesterday!
But we got there in the end and the little one was very happy.
We waited for it to dry overnight and then it was time for the stickers.
There are no convoluted instructions, which is nice.
And mostly they were quite easy to peel off. A couple were tricky and a couple tore a little as we peeled – but generally it was easy enough that the little one did all the little stickers herself
I put the chalkboard sticker up by her desk. I’d have liked this one to be a bit bigger but it comes with chalk and works very well.
And then the room was done.
I have been struggling with how to get her to put her dirty washing in the wash basket which is in her room. A friend suggested sticking a basketball hoop over it. So I did that too
And now all she wants is dirty washing so she can slam dunk it!
So here we go, the finished room.
I got these products for free so I could try them out but I would definitely buy them. I like the range too. And out of all the stickers I have put up over the last few years, these were definitely the easiest to use – so easy, even the little one was able to do it.
I have had a few clients who have caused me to examine stuff in more detail. Not just stuff about them. But stuff about me too.
I had noticed that those who had experienced violence as a child didn’t blame the violent parent, but rather blamed the other one for not protecting them. Even though it was clear they were subject to the same violence.
I realised why. I realised that if they blamed their abuser then they couldn’t accept any blame themselves. By blaming the non-abusive parent they keep some of the responsibility.
I looked inwards and reflected on this.
At the weekend I heard Trevor Silvester talk again and he shared this Kelly Clarkson video, like he has before. After the last time I used it often when I spoke with kids.
This time I heard things in the song I’d not heard before. I always thought the song was about her dad. It isn’t. It’s about her mum. Here is an extract:
“I heard you cry every night in your sleep
I was so young
You should have known better than to lean on me
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain”
It was quite a revelation.
It made me look inwards again.
And I want to share here what I now realise:
I realise now… that I blamed the wrong person for what happened. That is not to say they were blame-less – but it was merely a deflection.
I realise… no one is to blame. That includes me. Shit happens. It doesn’t always mean anything.
I realise now… that my lack of anger towards him is not healthy. It is not right. I’m working on that. It’s quite a shift. It’s also quite scary. But they say you can’t stop energy, you can merely transform it. So I need to redirect it.
I realise now…I can let go. I know I don’t need to forgive. Forgiving is, in my opinion, an emotionally loaded action. I do need to let go. Of blame. Of that small part of me that remains that believes it happened to me because of me, and not because shit happens and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I realise now…it’s my choice. I can allow people to have power over the way I feel or I can create a surface that their stuff can’t stick to. I just need to think of the little one giggling. That deflects anything negative in an instant.
I realise now…I am lucky. I have had a chance to learn so much and those lessons mean I can help others. Not because I can relate to what they’ve been through – but because I know I don’t have to. Each experience is unique to us. Our thoughts define our experience. I know I can change my thoughts and change my experience, which means I also know I can help my clients to do the same. I just need to work out how.
I realise now…how far I have come. I know what’s possible. I also know how far I still have to go. My moods can swing in a moment from elation to feeling like I’m failing at everything. It passes quickly, but I still take too much on board. I tell myself that one day I will be free of being a screwed up person, but I’m not so sure.
I hope I never lose sight of how lucky I am.
I hope I never lose my passion for helping others become free.
I hope I never lose that belief that anything is possible.
I hope I never lose sight of the fact that we are all in a work in progress, so it doesn’t mean anything when I need to seek help. I think we all do sometimes – and that’s ok.
This week has been a buzz!
My publisher (yes I love saying that) interviewed me for the Huffington Post – in the US. As a result I have had 10 new client enquiries from US clients (2 of which I am speaking to today). I have had over 1000 additional hits on my websites. I have gained an additional 23 likes on my Facebook page. And I’ve sold loads more books – getting as high as #8900 in the US Kindle charts and in the top 10 for the different categories the book is registered under.
I have LOVED it. For me it’s a sign of things to come as the book takes off.
I have shared the interview below.
Tim Ward did the interview. You can find the original on the Huffington Post website.
While it's nationally recognized that we are in the midst of an "obesity epidemic," our response remains gravely inadequate. Imagine handling the ebola epidemic by saying to those who contracted the disease, "Try harder not to get sick."
Despite what our culture, exercise and diet industries would have us believe, there's growing evidence that combatting obesity is not about willpower. And while our society is indeed structured to make lack of exercise an easy default, and high-calorie, low-nutrition products ever-present, the fact is that people are addicted to food in a way that is killing them. To gain a deeper understanding on the causes and cures of obesity, I interviewed author and cognitive hypotherapist Dawn Walton, who has had surprising success in helping people kick their addiction to food. Her new book, The Caveman Rules of Survival, provides a new approach and new hope for individuals dealing with obesity.
Question: Dawn, how much of your work is with people dealing with obesity, and what do you tell them when they come to you of help?
Walton: About 50 percent of the clients who come to me are for eating disorders and weight loss. I get a lot who are considering a gastric band and decide to "risk" a slightly different approach first. When they come to me I tell them I don't care how much they weigh. Their size is none of my business. What they eat is none of my business. How much they exercise is none of my business. All I care about is giving people the freedom to choose. If someone comes to me to lose weight, then I regard it as equally successful if they lose weight or decide they are happy with who they are. This is different from most people who work in weight loss. Most therapists measure success in terms of weight loss. I measure it in terms of freeing clients up from the addiction for the rest of their lives. My clients never have to diet again.
Question: How do the "Caveman Rules of Survival" help people to see their problem differently?
Walton: Most of us believe we have conscious control of our choices. It's simply not true. Your subconscious is in charge for at least 90 percent of the day. That part of your brain is primitive, emotional, and quite frankly, stupid; but it means well. It is always looking to make you feel better. So when you find that eating that bar of chocolate makes you feel happy, even for a moment, you know that comes from your subconscious. If you think about when you have had a stressful day; you get home at the end of the day and feel exhausted. You know that if you eat chocolate you will feel better for a short while. Consciously you know you will feel bad right after, but that doesn't matter because you need something now. Why would you not eat the chocolate when you know it works?
All through childhood we are learning. We aren't just learning at a conscious level, our subconscious is also learning how it can keep us safe and well once we become adults. As it learns a significant lesson, a rule gets written in the rule book. That rule book is then used to guide your subconscious during that 90 percent where it is in charge of your thoughts.
It's a rule in your rule book that creates the link between eating chocolate and feeling happy. Imagine that your mom took you to the dentist regularly as a child. She wanted to make sure you went without complaint so she promised that if you behaved you could have chocolate after. It was important to behave in a way that ensured your mom would love you, so you take the chocolate as a sign that she cared. Your mom is now dead but every time you eat chocolate it reminds you of those trips to the dentist with her and you smile. Once you realize where a connection comes from, you can remove the connection without losing the memory. This is what I do in my therapy practice. We time travel, and looking back on a memory we look at it with a new, adult, perspective. So we might focus on your mother giving you a big hug instead of a chocolate bar. We might imagine you forgetting about the chocolate in favor of having the hug. We might replace the chocolate with a magazine. It doesn't have to be true, it just has to be plausible.
Question: What kind of success rate do you have?
Walton: As I have said, I don't measure success the same way as other therapists. I do have stories, of course. I have a lady who has lost over 8 stone (50kg, 112 pounds) over a period of about three years. She now runs regularly, which is amusing because when we first spoke, one of her measures of success was going to be choosing to walk her children to school a couple of mornings a week. Now she runs every morning, and when I tried to arrange to chat to her, she refused because she was doing her run at that time! What I can say is that once you start working with me there are two ways the process ends: You either achieve the freedom from food you want, or you give up. There is not third option where I decide it won't work for you.
Question: Could you walk us through the first step you take in working with people?
Walton: I start by finding out why someone wants to lose weight; sometimes you just want freedom to choose what to eat, sometimes you want to get in a particular clothes size so you can pick clothes off the shelf, sometimes you can't stand to look in the mirror and you want to feel okay with yourself, sometimes you want to be able to walk up a hill without getting out of breath. This is a critical step. Someone with anorexia might come to me and ask me to help them to lose weight because they feel fat. The problem isn't really their size, it's that they feel fat. This is why I class it as equally successful if someone decides they don't need to lose weight, as if they go on to lose loads.
There are then two things to do. First, we need to break the connection between food and emotion. Second, it may not be enough to just break the emotional connection. If your subconscious has a reason for you being overweight, nothing you do will have the effect you hoped for. Weight can protect you. Maybe it's easier to believe that people don't like you because you're fat than because you're a horrible person. Maybe it stops people seeing your shape so you can hide under the fat. Maybe you have always been the "fat friend" and without that label, you don't know who you are. So that's the next thing I work on, if it applies.
Question: Other than obesity, what else do people see you for help with?
Walton: You name it, I do it. I am a therapist so can help with anything. I work with a lot of clients with depression and anxiety. I also work with phobias, which are probably the simplest of all problems I deal with. I work with issues of abuse and trauma. I work with children from 8 to 17. I also work with a number of physical conditions such as ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), etc. People usually come to me when the medical profession gives up on them. I haven't had anyone I haven't been able to help yet. If someone is willing to work with me and believes in what we can do together, then I can help.
Question: Now that your book, The Caveman Rules of Survival, is out, what are you doing to reach more people to inform them about kicking their addictions?
Walton: The book gets the message out that we don't have to be stuck with stuff. There is a general perception that we will always be an alcoholic or always have to diet. I don't believe that's true. I believe if you get rid of triggers, which sit in the rule book, then you don't have to spend the rest of your life battling your subconscious.
I take a "splatter gun" approach to getting the message out there. Do lots and some things will stick! So I have a blog and a YouTube channel. I have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. I also love doing talks. I did a book launch in my local Waterstones book shop when the book was out. I have applied to do a local TEDx talk. If I don't get that one, I will get another. I have an app to boost willpower and self-control on the app store called "TICIWillpower." I try and find ways that people can experience the benefit of what I do in as many ways as possible, even if they can't afford a session. I also do 50 percent of my business online using Skype and FaceTime, so it doesn't matter where in the world you are, I can help.
Dawn Walton is the author of The Caveman Rules of Survival and a practicing Cognitive Hypnotherapist specializing in food addiction. She runs sessions in person out of offices in Dundee and Aberdeen in the UK, and internationally via Skype and Facetime; most clients only need between two and three sessions to rewrite the rules in their rulebook.
Facebook: Think it Change it
Therapy site: www.thinkitchangeit.com
Author site: www.thecavemanrulesofsurvival.com
Amazon UK : The Caveman Rules of Survival
Amazon US : The Caveman Rules of Survival