Can your inner child come out and play?


I came across this image recently and it really resonated with me. It’s quite a question, for me anyway. Can yours?

Since beginning this whole journey into D/s four and a half years ago I’ve always envied those who identify in full or part as littles or middles. Not in a jealous way but more in a curious way, not quite understanding how easily people could tap into their inner child so freely and in such a fun way.

I recognise a longing, not necessarily to be a little or middle, but to be able to find similar qualities within myself. I also recognise, unfortunately, that I have challenges that prevent me doing so. And that kind of makes me feel a little sad for myself. Not sorry for myself, but sadness around the situations that led me to have to hide her so well that I forgot where I put her.

I think, although I’m unsure on this, that I often come across as quite a serious person, responsible and more often than not, not always fun and lighthearted. I see these beautiful qualities in others and oh how I wish I could shed the layers to reveal this part of me. The difficulty is, I think, that she doesn’t really know how to play as she never had the opportunities she deserved in order to learn how.

Without going into too much detail, I know I very probably quickly learned that  play had little place in a home where repeated acts of domestic violence, drug use and abuse and constant underlying threat was the norm. What was the norm was behaving, not rocking the boat and gaining praise through achievement. I don’t have many memories around being playing with at home with my parents or brother. Outside yes, at school yes, but at home? No.

I see my own young children playing so openly and freely, racing around yelling and making the mess children do in their whirlwind of learning and growing and battling at times, as siblings do. I find myself wondering if I did that and just can’t remember or if I really just wasn’t able to access that. And that realisation carries a lot of pain. Especially as I now have my own little people to compare myself against. I do know I grew up too fast, that I realised things I shouldn’t have had any awareness of so young and I learned very quickly to read moods, stay under the radar, stay quiet about what was going on at home and be a ‘good girl’.

So, whilst young, my young self was neglected by my parents. And I continued to do the same all the way into adulthood and parenthood. Only relatively recently have I spent proper time trying to pay attention to this inner child of mine and discover her again.

Yet there are often times I feel young, not always really understanding how things should work, or what things mean. How relationships should work and I also have learned this is interpersonal trauma based. I’ve had two clinical psychologists identify that I have 2 contrasting schemes – a very high functioning, driven, no nonsense, successful and strong way of being (protective part) and a much more childlike, young and unsure way of being (vulnerable part) as a result of not gaining all the developmental ‘tools’ I should have back then and then trying to use my limited selection in adulthood, if that makes any sense? Sounds awful doesn’t it? But makes perfect sense when I now know my brain was rather busy surviving trauma instead of doing what it should really have been doing. It was kind of distracted I guess.

She’s really pretty quiet, and a whole lot of sad. I imagine myself taking her by the hand and holding her close. When she’s noticed she sort of comes forward, very tentatively though. But she’s there, inside, watching, wondering, gradually making herself known to me. Her voice is getting louder as I realise she is the part of me that has held the pain and trauma all my life. Not adult me. So no wonder she can’t be free and lighthearted and fun. How can I expect her to be?

I know I can never call Cuiplash my Daddy as there are too many damaging connections and triggers there. Despite me fully recognising how much of a caregiver he is to me, how he calms and soothes and guides and looks after me. How he manages the important stuff at home, feeds me and supports me. It’s inherent in his nature and always has been. It’s very probably one of the things that drew me to him when we were teenagers as, even then, he protected and nurtured me. When he now calls me ‘good girl’ or refers to me as a girl at all, I know it is her that responds with a nuzzle and gratitude. Because he knows she’s there too and she thanks him for seeing her.

It’ll take me time to coax her out, to foster the trust in myself and find the playfulness and fun. The desire is there, the release is there and I also think a lot of healing lies there. I’m not suddenly expecting to become a little or a middle, I’m not sure if too much damage has been done, but the thought of being able to tap into the carefree and joyful me that lives in her makes her smile. Maybe one day my inner child can come out to play whenever she wants.



This week I think I’ve failed in pretty much everything I’d planned not to do.

In Restacking me I wrote about how I was going to try and stay soft and open when facing the demands of returning to work. This didn’t happen. What did happen was, upon being thrown what felt like an insurmountable number of analysis, administration, planning and leadership tasks to complete in a very short space of time, with no actual time to do it, I subconsciously or otherwise threw some armour back on again. Already chasing my tail from day 1 is not a good place to find myself due to the mismanagement of time by those above me. It’s easy with hindsight to reflect and note how this was a defence mechanism to protect against feeling overwhelm but could I prevent doing this at the time? Nope.

Coming home worn out and feeling exhausted was further compounded by a disconnect with Cuiplash, as a result of said armour, that I couldn’t remove at home either. As he didn’t seem particularly aware, so on it stayed. Again, I can reflect that I must have been a challenge, shut down, stressed, a bit wobbly, impatient and trying desperately to get a handle on it all. And he sometimes defaults to leaving me to it, so that’s what I do, and did.

Unfortunately, mid week, he also forgot I was at group trauma therapy that day. I’m unsure how as I’ve been going every Wednesday for the past 13 weeks but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt as I know he, too, has been swamped by returning to work. However, the hurt I felt at that caused me to don more armour. Quieter and more insular I went. Pushing down feelings and gagging myself.

I’ve missed my children, having spent nearly two months with them, who have also returned to school this week. I’m not there to walk with them to school on their first day. I’m home late from my work. And then my eldest choked on a sweet in front of me when I was home alone with them. As in, silent couldn’t breathe choking. The sheer panic that shot through my body makes me feel sick to recall. I jumped up, asking him if he could breathe as I saw his face turn purple. My mind is simultaneously screaming at me that he’s going to die, I’m aware our youngest is watching, and my fight/flight kicks in and I back blow him. Again. Again. A gargled breath. Again. Crying. Breathing. The whole thing must’ve only been seconds but the memory will last a lifetime. We were all in tears. Thankfully no lasting effects. But for me…that’s another story. 

When Cuiplash returned home and my eldest told him what happened I don’t think he realised the enormity of it. Or it felt that way to me anyway. So more armour went on to shove down that horror ‘what if’. To stop me fully breaking down in front of them all.

I’ve also been struggling with feeling hurt and confused by the behaviour of someone else I care about, my gut screaming one thing at me whilst my mind tries to rationalise. I withdraw further to try and manage how it’s making me feel about myself but it’s there in the background. More armour. Less hurt, but not really. I’m doing a really bad job by now!

On my day off I’m meant to catch up with the work I never had any time to do on the allocated days, despite staying late, but all I can do is go to bed and sleep. I need the quiet time alone. I need to rest, but only after a cry of course. All this armour is wearing me down and weighing me down, down, down. And I go and collect the children from school and laugh and joke with friends in the playground.

I fail to communicate my struggles, I fail to take off what I’ve put on to protect and conceal. I fail to not put it on in the first place. I fail to reach out. I fail to be open. I sit in the overwhelm, the hurt, the fear, the discomfort, the confusion, the disappointment, the disconnect, the pain. And then I beat myself up for it. 

Yet, what is seen? Same old me, maybe quieter. Functioning, getting stuff done, online, offline, in line. If you could see past it though, speak with me, you’d see. 



when it breaks down 

who is at fault 

when pillars of rock

become pillars of salt


that crumble and fall

hope slips through my hands

when pillars of rock

become pillars of sand 


that cover my path

forcing me to a halt

when pillars of rock 

become pillars of salt 


that blind my vision

I catch tears with both hands

when pillars of rock 

become pillars of sand


that muddy my thoughts

fight and freeze my default

when pillars of rock 

become pillars of salt


that bury my needs

and alone I stand 

when pillars of rock

become pillars of sand

Restacking me


My therapist uses a set of Russian stacking dolls frequently to visually demonstrate the concepts of inner child, layers and defence mechanisms. They sit on the table as we all talk, and cry, and laugh and learn. Sometimes tightly stacked, other times split apart, revealing their tiers.

In my piece titled Parts, I explored the relationship between a number of my parts. Like a stacking doll, each plays an important role fitting around my centre. Some deflect, some protect and some feed my core self and my submission. I’ve had the breathing space over the summer to shed the outer layers, the armoured achiever protective parts that I rely on at work. It’s always a relief to slow down and become softer, lighter and freer. To be able to focus on what and who is most important to me, including myself, without these other pressures and responsibilities screaming at me for attention.

Tomorrow, however, I have to return after nearly two months away. And I’ve cried about it in therapy this week, and this morning. Whilst I recognise that I don’t do change very well and that a healthy dose of anxiety always accompanies a return to work after a long break, I’m more aware of a deeper pull, and which part of me is actually sad and why.

My therapist helped with this as we each spoke of how we’d been of late, given there had also been a short break for the group to accommodate holidays. She said “you are all obviously high functioning and resilient to be where you are today, but what we can forget is…at what cost? What is the cost to yourselves, your inner selves where your core needs lie, in having to develop outer defence mechanisms in order to function so highly in a professionally setting?” And I realised who in me was grieving the perceived loss of freedom, softness and lightness. Because to pull myself back up to that level of responsibility, accountability and leadership I have to don the weight again of those outer layers. And they smother and darken the little me nestled inside and it is she who weeps. I know how easily it is to get sucked back into the treadmill of giving and doing more and more. And I’m not okay with that, more so than ever, as that is akin to neglecting myself for the benefit of others. As has been my way for so long.

So, I wonder how it would look to not full restack? To allow some light to shine through, to not conceal or have the need to protect my worries, stressors and pressure to maintain performance from others. I will always do my best, in anything I do, but I have to be more mindful now at mitigating the cost to me.

Cuiplash will support me in this, and we’ve spoken of reintroducing some things when I’m at work that will help me remain mindful of our D/s where my core softness, freedom and lightness resides, and in taking time to care of myself when I’m in the middle of it all. I know that check ins, affirmations and rules around taking breaks and eating and drinking properly have always served me well and I know I will feel secure in feeling his intentions in these small acts that honour our connection.

Today, I’m going to keep busy and enjoy relaxing with Cuiplash and the kids before all our routines flip back to the busyness of our non holiday daily lives and schedules. I’ll try not to dwell on the anxiety burbling away underneath, and will gladly anticipate the spanking and play that awaits me later, to clear it all away and ensure I sleep well. I’ve an early start in the morning…E479D4C8-F29F-468F-BE2E-14BC2D344DE4.jpeg




Never mine to give away


When I was considering how to tackle this week’s Wicked Wednesday writing on the theme of Passenger there was one question that kept replaying over in my mind.

To what extent am I a passenger in my own life?

In this piece I chose to write about our D/s and how we have navigated some issues around control and trust to develop a consensual healthy passenger/co-pilot/driver analogy with a beneficial and agreed joint agenda that meets the needs of each other.

In thinking about this further, I recognised that in friend and family relationships I often place myself in the position of passenger, however this is often rooted in poor self worth and therefore not always positive for me.

In group trauma therapy yesterday we were asked to discuss our feelings around how we view our assertiveness and how we feel around expressing our wants and needs. We had to reflect upon any memories from childhood where we could recall doing this, or expressing dislike or reluctance, or ever having our feelings, thoughts or opinions validated and given worth when we were young. And I couldn’t recall any instance at all.

In moving into this further we were given copies of a Bill of Rights and the Child’s Bill of Rights (1975) and asked which ones in particular resonated.

I have the right to be respected with regard to my own worth

I have the right to deal with others without being dependant on them for approval

These two were particularly triggering  to me emotionally. In discussing this further I said “I don’t know at what point I handed over the keys to my worth to other people” and what the psychologist said was one of those lightbulb moments.

She explained that ‘normally’ a child receives their sense of worth from their parents, that it initially is implicitly verbalised and reinforced by behaviours from the parent to the child and, developmentally, the child then gains a sense of their own self worth as a result and can verbalise this, which is then also validated by the parents.

She said ‘your worth was never yours to give away as you were never given it in the first place’. Well. Boom. There we have it. I was never given a sense of self worth for who I was, just as me, in the first place. My self worth was conditional on achievement, success and being a ‘good’ child.

I always thought I gave it away, that it was my doing I don’t feel it very easily. That this was because I place my sense of worth upon the actions of others. Yet, I see now more clearly that the keys were never mine to give away as I never had the keys to give away. I didn’t do this to myself. And so, like a child, I still search for those keys, that worth. And in placing myself as a passenger, my worth driven and determined by others, I will always lose. I have to provide it to myself, that which should have been provided for me, grown inside of me as a strong resilient seed of belief, unconditionally, when I was little. And wasn’t.

Cuiplash pointed this out to me recently, and not for the first time, when I was anxious about feeling insecure in a friendship and didn’t know exactly why. He made it clear to me that he often sees me placing myself as secondary, as a passive passenger in friendships and family relationships. How I seek to please and help and appease and be of use, because I don’t believe I can be worthy as I am, doing nothing expect just being me. That whilst I actively choose to hand him the metaphorical keys for our own mutual benefit in our relationship where I do feel secure, elsewhere I tend to accept a secondary position from a place of insecurity. That as an equal I deserve to also be a driver, or at the very least a co-pilot.

I realise I inadvertently and unfairly place too much responsibility on others, that my own sense of worth is just that, my own. It shouldn’t be so vulnerable and open to damage or scrutiny. It shouldn’t be negotiated with others. It should be secure and whole and seperate, able to hold fast no matter the action or inaction of others.

This emotional lightbulb moment today made me realise what I deserved and had a right to, what I never received, what I lost as a result and what that has done to me. I need to parent myself in cultivating, validating and protecting my worth. Because that is a precious thing that should never be determined by the hands of another. I deserved better then, and I deserve better from myself now.


Handing over the keys. Wicked Wednesday #323


They say in life and relationships you’re either a passenger, a co-pilot or a driver. In most cases we will naturally move between all three positions, depending on who we are relating to, how we feel or the situation we are in.

Healthy relationships will tend to have agreed mutual agendas and will openly and honestly meet the needs and honour the values of all involved. As individuals I also think we all overtly or covertly carry our own agendas, that serve to look after our confidence, self esteem, attachments, boundaries and values and we will place ourselves in the role of passenger, co-pilot or driver in order to observe these as much as possible.

I can recognise in my life where I sit regarding all of these roles. I am secure in the places where I am undoubtedly the driver, primarily within my professional career. I take responsibility, ownership and control of the wheel, leading and directing those in my charge and my peers who trust my experience and vision. I have come to realise how much this feeds my sense of self worth and it can compensate for other areas where I lack this. Being a driver, however, comes with its own price regarding the stress of accountability and the pressure to maintain performance amongst striving for the elusive work/life balance.

I can also reflect upon times when I fought to be the driver for many years in almost all things in my relationship with Cuiplash, in an exhausting attempt to hold onto control. I had my own protective agenda that I gripped tightly but wasn’t always mutual, or beneficial to us both. Having experienced lack of safety in many out of control situations when I was young galvanised the belief in me that in control lay safety, and in safety lay peace. Cuiplash recognised this need in me and would step back, and place himself as the passenger, to help me feel secure. Of course, it was futile really, and not what I actually needed, but I am grateful we learned new ways.

When I eventually handed over the metaphorical keys to him I found relief in listening to my actual needs. In trusting myself, and him, to lead us in a healthy shared agenda that did meet our needs individually, and as a couple, we grew in intimacy, vulnerability and strength. Our communication improved, and our physical, mental and emotional needs were recognised fully and held in high regard.

I would say that we still move between this and being co-pilots jointly steering our path, making the best use of our strengths and shared agenda for us and our family as that is what works best for us. I would not wish to be the passenger in my relationship with him at all times, nor he wish to be the driver at all times. We move to fill in and support the other in times where that is needed, and will co-pilot through parenthood, health and family life.

During sex and play, however, I am always the passenger and he the driver, as that is how we work. I do not wish to know where he leads me, how he will drive our physicality or the nature of that journey. I am his to take where and how he pleases, for as often and as long as he wishes. The route is his and I follow him gladly.

We have managed to work out a natural way to travel, for us, that honours our D/s, our agreed agenda and values, and the ups and downs of our day to day lives. I know that I eventually felt secure enough to hand over the keys to him, instead of grasping onto them tightly myself, because I listened to myself and thus learned about myself. I stopped pushing down my needs through misplaced fear or old destructive habits. I was able to express those needs to him and trust him to handle those needs with care. In turn, he accepted those precious keys from me and trusted me to trust him to drive us forward on our agreed path. In truth, I was only really keeping his seat warm for him. And so far, we are enjoying our journey together even more.

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Trigger Happy #1…the C-PTSD stuff


Triggers and the responses that they elicit are something that everyone experiences to a greater or lesser extent in their lives. I want to reflect on two main areas of triggering that I experience regularly, negative emotional triggering as a result of my C-PTSD and positive physical and verbal emotional triggering within our D/s.

Part #1…the C-PTSD stuff

*trigger warning*

I have lived with emotional triggering, which results in what is known as emotional flashbacks, for more years than I care to recall, but it is only relatively recently in my life that I’ve had the opportunity through focused trauma therapy to make sense of them and develop awareness of the root causes and how they affect me.

Emotional flashbacks as a result of emotional triggering is a common and painful response to childhood trauma. An emotional flashback is basically the unwanted experience of regressing to the feeling states of having been a traumatised child.

I now recognise that, for me, a flashback is usually triggered by something in my environment that subconsciously and immediately takes me back to overwhelming feelings from my childhood, like a fast track neural network wired from present to past. It happens so incredibly fast I am often caught on the hop before I have the chance to rationalise it, and it feels like a sucker punch to my gut. It is a particularly unpleasant physical feeling that I have grown to recognise and feels like a ball of dread in the pit of my stomach. I know I’m triggered when I feel that feeling.

Essentially, during a flashback, the fight/flight response (sympathetic nervous system) is activated, often by the smallest of things, and creates overwhelming feelings such as fear, alienation, despair, depression or grief. There are times when I’ve been significantly affected for a number of days, struggling to calm strong emotions, at other times it can pass very quickly. Peter Walker, author of ‘C-PTSD – From Surviving to Thriving’ describes them as ‘amygdala hijacking’, hence the swift and often unexpected nature of the trigger.

The double whammy is that, on top of trying to get a handle on a flashback, it is usual to also experience what is known as toxic shame at the same time. This is a horrible self punishing sense of being not ok as a person. It can create painful feelings around feeling fatally flawed, inadequate, inconsequential and unlovable and can lead to self isolation in response to believing oneself as unworthy of comfort or support in comparison to others.

I know from my own experience that shame of what I came from in terms of my experiences at a young age of parental drug addiction, domestic violence and imprisonment, combined with what I now know to be emotional neglect served me up a healthy dose of toxic shame and I am all too familiar, unfortunately, with battling such persecutory feelings as a result.

Through a great deal of self reflection, discussion and mindfulness I have identified that my triggers primarily sit around my sense of worth. When I have strong self esteem and feel secure in myself and in my relationships with friends, family and Cuiplash I am not really affected very much, but when I feel less strong then I can be triggered very easily with little control over how and when. It may come as a result of a dialogue, or lack of one, a situation or event, even reading or a film. I still remember ugly crying at Inside Out and Moana for this reason.

What then occurs is a bit of an internal battle between my logical and rational adult self and my, at that time, very triggered emotional little child self to attempt to gain an even keel. Because I realise an emotional flashback is happening I don’t often feel I can trust my feelings about it as logically I know they are disproportionate and it can take me some time to calm down my upset little self, if that makes sense.

To an outside observer, however, you would have no clue whatsoever that this has happened to me, except I’ve maybe become a little quieter as I try and untangle internally. I carry on with whatever it is I was doing yet I’m doing a huge amount of stuff inside, like a swan gliding along yet underneath the water it is frantically paddling. I would say this is also where the toxic shame comes in as I tend to manage it myself and would not readily ask for support or explain what I’m experiencing as I’d worry about how I’d be viewed or about being ignored or rejected. I’m also well aware how ridiculous it may seem and am embarrassed by the feels that hit me.

This all links back to not having any emotional needs met when I was little when the worst was happening and everyone was compromised one way or another, and not feeling safe to express fear or sadness, or feeling burdensome at the thought, given everything else that was happening at the time. I’ll admit to even feeling apprehensive about writing all this down here for similar reasons but I think it’s important for me to use this space as it’s all me at the end of the day, the good and the bad, and I must gain some self acceptance in it all.

This has caused significant issues for Cuiplash and I as when I’m in the thick of it I find it almost impossible to verbally work through it simultaneously and he has often left me to it, thinking that is what is best for me, which further triggers me. It can be a bit of a mess to be honest and has affected our dynamic on many occasions which of course then brings guilt into the mix too. I know it is frustrating and difficult for him to observe and manage and I’ll always be sorry about that.

To help us both he added two additional rules to our D/s. These are simple and easy and allow me to signal to him visually and verbally, without a huge discussion at that moment, that I am affected. We implemented an emotional safe word that I must try and use to let him know. Sometimes I have unfortunately found that even that proves too difficult so we also have a fall back visual signal rule if that happens. I chose a necklace with a silver rabbit on it that I can wear, as an emotional talisman if you like, to alert him. Sometimes even putting that on is hard but I know I must. I will write more about these in future posts.

Experiencing emotional flashbacks as a result of mostly benign triggers is really exhausting and often feels painful. It’s really horrible actually and is hard work. Recognition and understanding is going a long way in moving forward with it all, as is learning ways to manage them individually, as a couple, and as Dom and sub when they do occur. I really hope that this is something I can overcome.


Dominance as radical care giving


Care giving has always been a key foundation in our relationship from the beginning, as you would expect in any loving relationship, but developing our D/s over the years has really allowed this expression of love to come to the fore for us. In the main, Cuiplash has always been the primary care giver in our relationship but my submission has also opened up new ways to care for him and meet his needs. 

Cuiplash is an incredibly nurturing man and I would describe his style of Dominance as radical care giving. He naturally puts me first, my needs over his, and supports, guides and encourages me consistently. He looks after me in many different ways and looks out for me. When we started out in our D/s and initially struggled with searching for ‘how’ to do this outside of our kink and play, we realised we had actually been all along, we just didn’t have a name for it. 

Our D/s has enabled him to develop confidence in enforcing his care whereas in the years prior I know I was, at times, resistant and obstructive to his attempts in a misplaced need to maintain control over everything. Because he was aware that this was something I defaulted to in a futile effort to reduce my anxiety and hyper vigilance, he’d allow me to carry on, mostly unchallenged. Relinquishing my need for control opened up the much needed space to hand myself over to him entirely with vulnerability, authenticity and ultimately, relief.

So today, when my bout of melancholy and insecurity hit me hard, knocking the wind out of me and leaving me challenged emotionally, lacking in energy and ability to self care, he caught me as I fell. Where I tore myself down he built me up. Where I masked, he saw. He has picked me up and held me in his hands, looking after me with my well-being his focus.

He has brought me tea, fed me, sent me for a long nap, held me. He has refused to accept my ‘I’m fine’ when he has repeatedly checked in with me. For I still struggle with feelings of being a burden and in admitting my struggles, even to him and these are old learned beliefs that I’m still working on. I wouldn’t say any of what he does is unusual but, for us, his intention and underlying foundation is clear to us both. My acceptance of his instruction honours him and our D/s.

His radical care giving has strengthened me, his vigilance and attentiveness has bandaged me, his love and nurturing cradled me as I curled up in his lap.

And in turn, as I see him hold strong, belying his own concerns over returning to work tomorrow and all the pressure and responsibility that await him there, I will care for him tonight. Where one of us falters and is compromised in capacity the other moves in to fill the space, giving of ourself what is needed to allow the other to regain strength. In this way, we meet the needs of the other, radically caring for each other.

Tears and tan lines


This morning I’m in a bad place. I could feel it approaching, black clouds brewing on my horizon, and tried to fend it off with avoiding anything too taxing, attempts at contacting friends, laying low and trying to engage on here and elsewhere. I need to record this for myself so I remember.

But here it is. The perfect storm of post holiday blues, lack of sunlight and warmth, hormones, overwhelm at all that needs done, anxiety at impending return to work and trauma therapy, generally feeling bad about myself and doubting. I want to hide under covers and cry my heart out until my skies clear again.

Today I’ll rest, try and get a handle on it, take a break from online stuff and not listen to my brain. Maybe the sun will shine again tomorrow 🌞

Daddy issues, or finding the good in the bad…

I wrote this post a while ago but I wanted to have all my writing in one place… 

*TW* domestic violence and trauma


I stand, shifting my weight from foot to foot uncomfortably as my fingers flick through the cards, working from right to left, top to bottom. I sigh. I hate these cards. But my hate rests protectively on top of my hurt, because they remind me of a parent I deserved but never had. ‘Thank you for being an amazing Dad’, ‘Dad, you’re one in a million’, ‘Dad, thank you for all you’ve done’.

Tears prick my eyes and inside I rail against the unfairness of it all, like a child. It’s been 21 years since I last saw him, I wonder what he thinks of on Father’s Day. I wonder what my card would say…

Thank you for teaching me that drug abuse, emotional neglect and domestic violence wreck childhoods, families, trust, attachments, relationships, emotional well being and sense of self. Wreckage that ripples out across the years. Wreckage that silences, shames and takes years to pick apart.

Thank you for instilling in me a will to never take any harmful substances, as I am acutely aware of the damage they can wreak on everyone and everything.

Thank you for ensuring I was fierce in my determination to choose a partner who is the polar opposite to you, and accept nothing less than the best. In Cuiplash I am blessed to have a man who loves, respects, treasures and cares for me, all of me, always. Whose love is not conditional on my success. Whose love is unwavering. Whose behaviour is stable. Who wants to always know the truth of my needs and will do his very best to meet them. Who does not speak one way then acts another way.

Thank you for instilling drive and ambition in me. I recognised young that lying in bed all day out your face on god knows what and not working, ever, despite being entirely capable, was not a route to achievement and pride. Thankfully, I somehow was born a clever little girl who worked hard and loved learning. Top of the class, great qualifications, 1st class honours degree, highest honours degree mark in my discipline in my year, post graduate qualification, top of my profession. Go me. Despite you.

Thank you for making it crystal clear the type of parent I should strive to be. I work hard on this every day, your example serves as a sharp deterrent of what not to do and why. My children thank you too.

Thank you for my learned ability to read people, usually very quickly and accurately. It’s serves me very well in my profession and allows me to forge trust, empathy, connection, communication and ease challenges. Some may call it hyper vigilance. I had to do this you see, to read your moods when I was young, to sense when you were going to kick off. Practice makes perfect.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to know myself deeply. The many challenging hours in appointments with therapists exploring the length and depth of it all, trying to heal my witness to multiple acts of violence, my trauma, the chaos that was then. That time you turned up with a knife, that time you nearly killed our dog, that time I had to speak to a judge, that time I had to walk across the playground in school the day after you were jailed and it made the 6 o’clock news. That time, that time, that time… all the times. The breathtaking realisation of the enduring effects that wrote themselves into my being, my beliefs, my heart. I will no longer carry shame. You did this.

Thank you for contributing to the forging of my resilience and strength. Children do this to survive trauma. Become strong too young. I could win Oscars for my front at times, forging on ahead like a force of nature with a smile and vivacity, whilst invisibly nursing my sores. Double edged sword forged of steel.

Thank you for showing me that life isn’t always perfect, fair, happy or content. That people who claim to love you can hurt you and yours deeply, and that actions do indeed speak louder than words.

For all of this, thank you. For a great deal of me is because of you, but not all. What you did does not define me. I must remember this. I work hard every day to accept these parts and be gentle hearted with myself and others, for it’s all too easy to harden in order to protect. Old habits do indeed die hard.

I look down and smile. A bright, colourful card catches my eye. ‘We love you Daddy’. It’s perfect and I know Cuiplash will love it. He’s the best daddy I know. Our little ones are blessed. As am I. And for that, I am truly grateful.