Welcome to my Blog, Welcome to my Journey. 

I’ve been debating whether or not to start my own personal blog for a while now, I want to share my journey so far. 

Here is a chapter that I wrote last year and it introduces quite a lot about me…
Personal journey chapter 1: 

I was born the 1980s, in the days when mothers stayed in hospital for at least a week. I was a healthy 9lb 4oz at birth. I’m still unsure of the specific details, but I suffered a non-genetic ‘Facial Palsy,’ or ‘Facial Paralysis.’ My mother took me to a facial disfigurement clinic at a few months old, and there she was told that there was nothing that could be done at that time. On photos it was recognisable that one side of my face was uneven and I couldn’t really ‘smile’ as such without one side of my mouth drooping down. As my parents are such wonderful, down-to-earth people, all they saw was a happy and healthy baby. I’m so luckily to have parents like this, they never really made it an issue. 

My parents have described that even from 6 months old, that they can recall that I squirmed away from affection and would pull myself away if someone tried to cuddle me. I was described as an extremely ‘shy’ child, I was bored with hearing the words “aren’t you shy” and “you’re quiet.” I was very passive and extremely compliant, If a little too compliant. I believed everything that people told me and as the saying would go “you say jump,” and I say “how high?” At the age of 3 I started biting my nails, and I’m still doing it now 30 years later, not a habit that I’m happy with.  

I didn’t like giving people eye contact, it felt awkward to me and was always thinking: “Can they notice my mouth?” I received curious questions from other kids which you’d expect: “What’s wrong with your mouth?” My answer: “Its poorly.” I was a target for bullies, even from a young age but I loved my Primary School teacher, she made me want to do her job and made me feel safe. I literally went a shade of bright red if I had to speak up in class.  

I found it hard to made friends and would cling to the ones I had for safety, even though looking back these were not always the most appropriate choice of friendships! I had an imaginary friend called Tinkerbelle, who was often there when nobody else was.  

I could come out with some quite hurtful things, I remember being about 5 or 6 years old and hiding for a whole afternoon in a wardrobe. When my mum came looking for me I shouted: “Go away, you’re not my mummy,” It’s strange how I can remember events like this as clear as anything. And now I find that my own daughter is starting to say similar things to me! I was extremely sensitive and even just sitting next to a boy in class made me cry! I cried when films ended, not wanting them to finish and felt like I wanted to jump into the TV to find out what happened next. I clearly remember doing this with the 1988 film ‘Big.’ I was very much a child who would love to jump into a picture drawn in chalk like in ‘Mary Poppins.’ I was a child that craved company, I’d stare out of the window willing a visitor to come to the house, but I’d equally want time on my own, usually outside, visiting the fields behind my house and building dens in the hedgerows. I also spent a lot of time on the family farm that my Grandparents had once run, I collected eggs with my Nanny and played Hide-and-Seek amongst the hay bales. I think growing up in the countryside suited me. I collected ‘pets’ in special tubs, usually Snails and Ladybirds. 

I had a vivid imagination and I’ve always seen everything in pictures, from an early age I would take out a camera and take photos around the village where I lived. I wrote my own fictional stories and believed that fairies lived at the end of my garden. I developed a huge interest in fictional stories and I would find sanctuary in libraries throughout the whole of my school life, I wanted to be alone most of the time and while reading, I was happy and at peace. I can remember the smell of the libraries; I’ve had a habit of smelling books since I was very young! I read books such as C S Lewis’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia,’ and I found myself visualising people as animals, I would ask myself if a certain person was an animal, which one would he or she be, giraffes, monkeys, elephants, even badgers!  

I’ve always been a fact lover! I Google absolutely anything and everything, if I see an actor in a film and I recognise them from another film, I’ll check what else he or she has been in. But this isn’t always a good thing in terms of health issues, as I can overthink far too much! I love finding the answers to unanswered questions and I received an Encyclopaedia at the age of 8 years old, I used it so much that it fell apart!  

Obsessions started early, at first I collected ‘Troll’ figures that we’re very popular in the late 80s and early 90s, I would have hundreds in shoe boxes, later on I moved onto Porcelain dolls, which freaked out friends that would come for a sleep over! And then it was fairy figures, followed by pin badges that I kept on a special bag that I carried everywhere, I’d have to collect these from anywhere I visited. These ‘obsessions’ have carried on into adult-hood, I am an avid fan of any historical drama, and I’ve watched ‘Game of Thrones’ 10 times over from the start of the first season to the most current one! (Just in case I’ve missed something!) I am a big ‘Harry Potter’ fan I own the whole collection of both the books and the films,  

I spent lunchtimes attempting to join in with other children playing a game of ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Neverland,’ I’d always be character of ‘Tigerlilly,’ and hoped that I’d be welcome to join in again the next day. I loved reading Roald Dahl stories, and completed ‘Matilda’ in one day. My favourites were ‘The Twits,’ and ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine,’ I got completely lost and consumed in these stories and read each one several times.  

I was big for my age, wearing age 12 clothes at the age of 7 or 8. I have a clear memory of being on holiday and getting stuck in-between 3 tyres (playground equipment,) I panicked and screamed for help as I hate confined spaces, I had to be forced out of the tyres with everyone staring and watching! I once rolled down about 100 steps at a historical house and split my Bermuda shorts on a Donkey ride at the beach. I was always being laughed about, but couldn’t embrace this through sheer embarrassment. In sports lessons at school, I could only describe myself as ‘Galumptious!’ Tall and clumsy! Attempting to do dance lessons in my bright green Lycra leggings! And coming last in the Cross Country! I wasn’t blessed with the physical education gene that my father has! I knocked the hurdles over, the high jump bar off and tripped over in the long jump pit! I was put in a defence position in a girl’s football team and hadn’t a clue what I was doing! And can remember getting my face scratched in netball! I certainly wasn’t a contact sport kind of child!  

I often am asked how do I remember such things from my childhood and how I have such a good memories and I do believe it’s because I’m such a visual and sensory learner, I see everything in pictures, smells and sounds can also trigger certain memories, such as the scent of someone’s perfume.  

One thing I do know is… this is me and I can’t change, so I’ve just had to learn to embrace the quirkiness!  

I will elaborate on more specific areas in other posts, I currently have 10 ideas for posts already lined up! 

Featured post

The professional that broke me 

“You’re not firm enough with them” (referring to both of my children,) the last words an educational professional said to me before I pulled my child out of the setting. The last thing I said was: “I’m not looking for parenting advice thanks.” 
Let me explain from the beginning: 

I first noticed my eldest child’s sensory issues at around 18 months old, she was also hard to settle. Many people tried to reassure me saying “she’ll grow out of it,” and “it’s just the ‘Terrible Twos.” But it carried on and on until she reached the age of 4 and started a new early years setting. At first everything was ok, until I expressed the difficulties that we were having at home with our child’s behaviour.

Well she’s not like that here,” ‘The Professional’ said, when I explained about my child having up to 10 violent meltdowns per day: “We don’t see any of these behaviours.” 

There was a very strange incident when I attended a play session with my child and wanted to get a tissue for her so I proceeded to walk into a room (a classroom,) to be ushered out by a member of staff who firmly said “you must not go in that room, a member of staff is upset and needs privacy.” Was there a note on the door? No. Shocked at the manner to which I was “told off,” which I felt could have been put in a nicer and more professional way, I made a formal complaint to ‘TheProfessional,’ did she take it seriously? No! She told me that I was being “Over Sensitive.” 

Little did I know the term ‘masking,’ which I now know is why my child appears differently at home as she does in an educational setting. From this day onwards ‘The Professional’ was on my case. If my child refused to remove herself from under a table ‘The Professional’ would take it upon herself to come over and ‘take over’ and took great pleasure via a huge smile when my child would comply, as if to ‘twist the knife in,’ this kind of thing happened over and over again. And it wasn’t only what was said, my child was late being put forward for early years referrals to the services that would hopefully provide help and support for her transitioning into school. She was put forward so late to one forum that she couldn’t be discussed before she started school and I’d spoke to Health Professionals when she first started this setting, it was said that we needed to move quickly before my daughter started school. No other professionals turned up for team meetings regarding my child, making me think why, what was happening or being said when ‘The Professional’ was supposed to be contacting various services to come and discuss my child. Even my child’s feeder school was baffled as to why the relevant referrals hadn’t been made, paperwork that should have been sent to the feeder school hadn’t been passed over so I took it upon myself to ensure I photocopied and handed the necessary paperwork over. 

There was also a hold up when ‘The Professional’ hadn’t filled out a referral form for my daughter to receive Occupational Therapy which put us on a waiting list for almost a whole year. The appointment came through just when my child started school and the referral was originally made 9 months previously. 

Health professionals and other people involved in my child’s care would say “I can’t understand what the hold up is.” Well I can now say I know that the hold ups were all due to one person who couldn’t see past my parenting skills and was so focused on this, that in fact, it held my child’s referrals and support back.

This professional broke me… 

My anxiety and paranoia became more intense, I didn’t believe in myself as a parent and questioned my every action. I would say to family members and close friends “Do you believe me?” I was made to feel like I was failing hugely as a parent, ‘The Professional,’ made me believe that I was making my child’s difficulties up, offered no sympathy to how hard is when your child behaves in such a way at home that it has a knock on effect for your whole family dynamics. 

I didn’t want parenting advice at all, I just wanted my child to enjoy attending a setting, I don’t believe that any educational professional should just ‘give out’ parenting advice, unless the parent has specifically asked for the help or advice. 

This was unforgivable but after a break I decided to take my youngest child to play sessions and in a view to join her up. What I’d experienced previously was unforgivable but quite a few of my friends were sending their children to the setting and it is the closest to our house. I hoped that ‘The Professional may have mellowed slightly and would give me a break! 

How wrong I was 😦 

Cue – a complete repeat of history! 

“She’s a different kettle of fish, from her sister,” 

“It’s probably learned behaviour.” (From her sister.) 

So she’s already using Pre-conceptive ideas about my second child, based on what she remembers about the first, although refused to acknowledge any Additonal Needs with my first child. So confusing! 

My child wasn’t coping well in the very busy parent and child sessions, she didn’t cope very well when I left her there for 3 hours. So I decided to pull her out in her best interests. To be approached by ‘The Professional’ who wanted me at attend with my child for less than an hour per session. I wanted to meet some friends with their children for a play session but I was asked to leave (a public play session) to “end on a high,” after my child had only been there for 30 minutes, with my friends looking at me in a baffled way as they couldn’t understand this either! I left the room with tears in my eyes and a screaming child who couldn’t understand why we had not long arrived and now had to leave! 

I wanted to put my child in her pushchair and get out of the door, however ‘The Professional’ stood in the doorway blocking my pathway out of the door. She said “The trouble is you’re not firm enough with them.” My jaw hit the floor as I was attempting to stop myself from letting out a huge cry of sheer anger. To which I quietly said: 

“It’s history repeating itself,” 

“Pardon?” said ‘The Professional, to which I said: 

“You’ve been telling me this for years, not once have I asked for parenting advice, and if you really knew my child you would know that the ‘firm’ approach simply doesn’t work with her, as you’d be likely to get a smack in the face!” 

I finally walked out of the door and cried all the way home. 

I told myself the next day that I didn’t care how far I have to travel nothing is worth going through several years of this complete ridicule, I contacted my local SENDIASS and Early Years Inclusion Team, who obviously had to remain professional about a fellow professional, but their advice was “go and have a look at other settings.” 

So I did, and we start a-fresh this September, no Pre-conceptions, support and understanding from day 1. 

And I’ve learnt a huge lesson in all this: 

To stand up for myself! I will not allow myself to be spoken to in such a way ever again! I just don’t want any other parents to have to experience what I did either. 

That Toxic Friend…

Hey you, the 9-year-old me…

I’m talking to you as a 30-something adult, 

You see that girl over there…

… the one who tells you that you NEED to join in with her games? 

… Please stick with the friends you’ve already made, you’ll regret this in 20 years time! 

Yes you think she’ll protect you from the bullies, but honestly you’ll regret it over time. 

She’ll use your passive nature to her advantage, 

She’ll tell you what to do, when to do it and control you like a puppet, 

She’ll be involved behind the biggest decisions – life changing decisions, and you’ll go along with it because you’re too afraid to stick up for yourself. She’ll get you so confused: “get with this guy, no he’s no good, I think you should be with this one instead!” 

She’ll act so sweet and polite to everyone around you, but not you, no – she has 2 faces you see. 

She’ll steal from shops and you’ll know that it’s wrong but she knows that you won’t tell anyone. 

She’ll tell you her deepest, darkest secrets then expect you to keep it ‘shtum.’ She’ll warn you that if you tell anyone she’ll share all your secrets and disown you, and then you’ll feel even more alone. 

You’ll never be your true self as she wants to mould you, into someone so you don’t even recognise yourself. 

She’ll tell you what to wear, what to say, who to see, where to go and what music to play. You’ll agree that you love ‘Take That,’ when you really Blur and Nirvana! 

Then years later, when you’re older and and she tells you to leave your marriage, you will want that ‘Eastender’s’ moment on her big day – as her hubby doesn’t know that secret, she’s already threatened you not to say, but stop…

… and think, to yourself… 

is it really worth it? All that hassle? 

Let Karma do the job for you. One day it will all come back to bite her, just sit tight and look at what you have now. 

25 years it will take, after several failed attempts, one day you will finally see, this friendship, this person is TOXIC and being true to yourself, will set you free. 

One day I finally snapped, after I found out that you’d talked behind my back, and the last straw was that you repeatedly swore in front of my kids. 

It’s now been 12 months since I said “No more” and “Goodbye,” now I’m better, happier and a more confident person, and making my own decisions, finally…

… I’m so glad I finally broke free! 

Being a Teenager and my most awkward subject…School! 

Chapter 2 of my personal journey: Being a Teenager

I can now say, at the age of 34, that my teenage years were the most uncomfortable of stages in my life so far!  

I can only describe these years as ‘awkward’ I didn’t understand who I was, as I was desperately trying to find my identity, fit in and feel like I belonged. I think the reason why I can remember parts of my teenage years vividly is because things happened that made me feel uncomfortable, hopeless and lost and I can still remember 20 years on. I got lost on my first day of high school, I’d previously been at a small village school and I was overwhelmed by the size of the buildings, where I needed to be at the right time, I found it loud and claustrophobic when other pupils would walk towards me down the corridors. I clung onto the friends that I’d made in Primary school and would feel completely lost if I failed to find them at lunchtime, I felt like everyone was looking at me, I spent most of the hours I attended school wishing that a hole would open up in the ground and swallow me up.  

I found a safe haven in the school Choir and Orchestra, this would fill my lunchtimes and I didn’t feel judged in these activities. For some reason it became ‘uncool’ to be in the school choir or play an instrument in the orchestra, I had enjoyed learning the flute but once I’d made new friends I didn’t feel supported in doing activities like this anymore. I have always been a target for bullies – taller than all the other girls, with my lop-sided mouth and large nose. This started almost from day 1 of high school, “What’s wrong with your mouth.” “Crow nose,” were some comments that resonated in my head from that time, so I stuck by the friends that protected me from the bullies. I changed my whole image to ‘fit in with the crowd,’ I dyed my hair black, purple, cherry red – a different colour every month. I wore a thick layer of make up to act as a mask to hide behind, and pierced my ears 7 times in each ear. I had always stuck to the rules, I had always been on time and always done my homework, my new set of friends were the opposite, when they snuck out of the school grounds at lunch time, I’d cringe at the thought of breaking the rules in case I’d ever get into trouble, I hated getting told off and if I ever was, I’d immediately burst out crying. I would pretend that I was going along with the going out at lunch time and would then turn back and head myself straight to the library where I felt safe.  

In my teens the fact that I loathed being physically touched was even more highlighted, these girls I’d made friends with liked to link arms together at lunch time and I didn’t feel comfortable with this touch, I’d copy their activities such as smoking behind the sports hall and drinking cider at the park on the weekends. I hated keeping secrets like this from my family and I lost touch with the friends that I’d made at middle school, who in hindsight, are the kind of friends that I ‘should’ have kept company with. As my ‘friends’ started to partner off with boys, I couldn’t think of anything worse that actually touching a male of the population! Once I reached 14, my friends would have house parties and alcohol was introduced, I didn’t take to drinking very well but I felt freer and that I wasn’t being judged, I can still remember my first kiss to this day and I still get butterflies, it was only a kiss and nothing came of it in terms of a relationship, as I was far too shy to even talk about it again. Fast forward to 14 years after this and via the power of social media, I reconnected with my ‘first kiss,’ and we realised how much we actually had in common, but were both too shy to approach the other, back in the day! It’s ironic that we started a friendship when I was in such a dark place after my marriage had failed, but no matter how much we looked back, time had moved on and he completely disappeared from my life, the words he said to me will always resonate and I will never forget, “I loved your freckles and your cute smile,” even at the age of 27 this melted my heart, as thinking this about me, who had a facial palsy, meant the world to me, maybe we connected for a short time for a reason, it helped to give me the boost that I needed, but sadly the ship had sailed and times had moved on.  

I spent hours at home doing my homework, recording myself singing the latest Madonna song on tape recorder and had an unhealthy obsession with my nose, visualising what it would look like if I were to have plastic surgery to make it smaller and generally hated myself! I remember once being bullied that much, to the point that the perpetrator would search me out at school and call me the delightful “crow nose,” nickname every day, that I faked a sore throat that lasted 2 weeks so that I could avoid school, this insensitive person actually made me feel like I wasn’t worthy to be a part of this earth. I’d hold in my anger for this person every day at school, even though I wanted to punch him very hard in the face! Once I got home I’d take all this pent up anger out on my mum and sister, I’d have, what I can only describe as a ‘teenage tantrum,’ which was a lot like a panic attack where I couldn’t breathe. It must have been very difficult for both my mum and sister to witness, and no one outside the family knew that I could get this bad, I couldn’t talk to any of my friends at the time as I would be showing my weakness with the ‘hard girls’ as I named them. I stopped eating properly, I hardly ate anything and would feel guilty if I ate a full meal as I saw myself as overweight. I would gag on meals that my mum had made for me, in particular Stew made me gag and I still can’t deal with the texture of it to this day! But this worried my parents and it led to a visit to the doctors. This was the start of my first Counselling sessions, which I talked about how I felt like an outsider and didn’t really fit in with my friendship group.  

When I hit 16 I threw myself into studies, something suddenly clicked in my learning and I found that was finally getting something right, especially in my childcare lessons, via work experience I found that I could talk to children with ease and they didn’t judge the way I looked, I was accepted by them as someone who could teach them and interact, especially via role-play activities, where I wouldn’t have had the confidence in situations with other adults. I found that via work experience I found a love of ‘messy play’ as I disliked getting messy myself but I didn’t seem to care when in the company of children and I quite enjoyed getting covered in paint! I was becoming more distant from my friendship group as they didn’t share the same passion for studying as I did, I revised to the point where I completely shut myself away, in fear of failure as I’d never really failed at anything before. I was once taken out of my bedroom (study area) by my Godfather and taken over to the local pub to give myself a break. I’d never felt nerves like studying and actually taking my GCSE exams before, this is when I can first remember that I started ‘Stimming’ I was that nervous for taking my exams that I could only find comfort from this information ‘overload’ and extreme collection of anxiety via rubbing my palms together. By the time of my final exam, my palms were red and the skin almost broken. From this day onwards, if I have ever felt nervous or excited I have rubbed my hands together, even to this very day, I can control this in public but at home it tends to flare up at the most stressful of times, such as money worries, worrying about my daughter’s behaviours, etc.  

By the time of my Prom, my exam worries were almost over, I attended alone and from looking back at the photographs, was extremely thin. But I had Sixth form to look forward to, and was then happy to re-connect with some of the friends that I’d not really spoken to since the start of high school. Eye contact was still difficult for me but once the bullying experiences were well out of the way, I could concentrate on enjoying the subjects I thrived on and I was in the company of people who seemed to respect me for me. I was able to join in with events, such as going to bars and night clubs and I did have a couple of boyfriends, but I found that I would become quite possessive and a bit too ‘full-on’ I really had no idea what I was doing! I was encouraged by my sixth form tutor to apply for a degree in Primary Teaching, I’d never thought of setting the bar so high but I was delighted once I was accepted to University.  

I did never become a successful singer from recording all those tapes singing to Madonna and Alanis Morissette, I do still have a love of music though! 

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