The Recovery Writer

Documenting The Road To A Recovered Life.

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Dementia- The Ghost Of Christmas Present

Dementia the ghost of Christmas present.

Christmas can be a tough time of year for many people. There is so much unspoken pressure to be full of, ‘The joy of the Holiday Season’ but often that is the last thing people feel.  People struggle at Christmas for many reasons, for being estranged from families, grieving lost loved ones or, as in my case, struggling to come to terms with a mum who has dementia.

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Love Is A Doing Word – Day 97 and 98 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is choosing to give our hearts to people who show their love for us in action and not just in words.

IMG_20180805_131339_882.jpgLove is such a powerful emotion, it’s hard to stay mindful with such strong feelings but the stronger the emotion, the more aware you must be.
I have a history of poor relationship choices. I was in such a poor emotional and mental state that I  often left myself open to being hurt and mistreated. In recovery, I have learned to be more discerning about who I open my heart and give my love too.
Love can be such an easy word to say, but without action it is meaningless. As the saying goes, ‘Love is a doing word.’ In assessing my connections with people now, I listen less to what they say and focus more on what they do. It is in peoples actions that you find their true feelings and intentions.

Coping With New People – Day 95 and 96 of #365daysofselfcare 

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is reminding yourself that everyone in your social circle, was once a new person to you

Picture_20180803_150317523Social anxiety makes it difficult to socialize at the best of times and even more so with people you don’t know. My social anxiety, in general, is much improved. However, l do still get anxious about meeting new people.
This is especially the case when those new people are connected to someone l care deeply about. This week, I have had the new relationship friends and family tour and, have felt the extra pressure, from myself, for them to like me.
I had to step up my positive affirmations and remind myself of a few important things when it comes to meeting new folk. That you can only be yourself, that you cannot force anyone to like you, that other people are often just as anxious about wanting to be liked as you are, and, most importantly, that new people are only new once.

Taking Action – Day 93 to 94 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge.

Self-care means knowing when to stop reflecting and start acting

IMG_20180801_191229_442Self-care is sometimes doing something self-soothing and protecting, and other times it’s pushing yourself to do something which, while scary, will benefit you in the end.
I have so many good news things happening in my life. With good things comes the risk of loss and the fear that brings up. My most significant and most scary new thing is my relationship. We have had some teething issues, which, while normal, are very new and frightening for me. I’m scared to get hurt, I’m afraid to risk giving my heart again.
My partner went back home for his birthday, and I decided it was best for us to have some time apart so we could have some space and  I could have some thinking time.
Soon after he left, I realized that while reflecting on the things that scare me is helpful, the only way to overcome that fear is by taking action and facing whatever it is.
On that note, l took a deep breath and jumped on a train to surprise him in his hometown. His face on seeing me told me all I needed to know.

Managing Conflict – Day 92 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is reminding ourselves that disagreements between people are healthy and normal

self care instaMy most recent self-care posts have mainly been within the theme of having the courage to voice our needs, despite the fear of upsetting others. I think this is coming up for me a lot at the moment, due to my being in a new relationship.

I have become much better practiced at asserting my needs over recent years. However, relationships are highly emotionally charged, especially for those of us in recovery. In these situations, especially new relationship beginnings, it’s not uncommon for old ‘defects of character’ to attempt to rear their ugly head.

Although I do not fall apart in the way I once did when these things come up, they are still very painful. Because my feelings are so strong for this new man in my life, there is, of course, the fear of losing him. This is why, when I practice what I’ve learned over my years in recovery and voice my needs and feelings honestly, I find my old thought patterns lurking in the sidelines. Fear tells me that the disagreement will mean the end of us, that now I’ve said how I feel things are ruined etc.

It is taking a lot of effort to not join in the dialogue with this inner voice, but whenever I refuse to engage it, it gets quieter. Sitting with the painful feelings is a healing process in itself, especially when I see the proof after having a disagreement, that not only are myself and my partner still OK but also that we are stronger for a mini disagreement.


Listening Patiently to Your Inner Self – Day 86 – 90 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #354daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is learning to let our inner-self speak in its own time, rather than forcing answers

the answers are inside you.jpgSince arriving home from Truck festival, I’ve had a bit of an emotional crash. This isn’t unusual, Festival comedown is a common phenomenon! Its so lovely to be out of the daily grind, lying in the sun, listening to music, laughing with friends. Who in their right mind wants to return to reality!

It’s more than that though. This week away, while being one of the best festival experiences I’ve had for a while, has also been very emotional and I can feel the tectonic plates of my inner self, rumbling and shifting.

Before I went away, my new partner and I found ourselves rubbing each other up the wrong way. It’s likely new relationship teething problems, but then, whilst I was away,  there was an obvious emotional distance in our messages. It brought me back to reality with a bit of a painful bump and I started to wonder if we were not going to last the distance after all.

On returning home, my partner and I have sat and talked, and both of us want this to continue, but we do need to do things differently. Namely, having more time apart.

I’ve spent this week feeling quite lost and confused. I feel like something is happening under the surface at the moment, which started by revisiting Truck festival (see my last post) but I am not quite sure what it is.

I think I have a lot of things accumulating at the same moment. Realising my sexual attraction to men is not just a fantasy, 10000000000% enjoying sex for the first time in my entire life, giving up part of my independence to enter into a committed relationship and preparing for what will hopefully be my final lower surgery in my gender transition.

I am really feeling the difference between my actual age and my developmental age at the moment, and I have a feeling that this is something I need to somehow work through. There is likely a bit of grieving and acceptance to do alongside these new beautiful changes. I’ve found this has happened a few times in my transition. To be honest, I think everyone goes through this as life changes, but for us trans folks, it’s often more complicated and pronounced.

I’ve learned that not knowing what is going on is OK, if I just sit with it, it will all make sense and when it does it will be another one of those incredible leaps forward in self-growth and self-awareness.

Learn To Cherish Your Own Company – Day 80 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is learning to enjoy quality time with yourself

LOVE YOUR OWN COMPANYI have had a lovely day today, mooching about, buying random flamingo sunglasses and various blow-up toys ( get your mind out of the gutter its festival stuff), buying myself lunch and then having a pampering bath evening.
I absolutely love my own company, which is something l once could never have imagined myself saying! I actually miss it now when l go too long without me time.

Being in a new and exciting relationship, it can be all too easy to neglect to spend time with yourself. I’m guilty of this lately and l need to get a better balance because l actually miss myself!

Stop Looking For Happiness In Other People – Day 71- 73 Of #365daysofselfcare

This Blog os part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is knowing that we do not need to compromise ourselves in order to be loved


A wonderful thing happens when we love ourselves.
We stop needing other people to make us happy, to make up for missing aspects of or our lives, or to give us their approval.

This means that we can then enter into new relationships, not from a place of need but from a genuine connection.
It also means we are more able to retain our integrity and stay true to who we are, only giving ourselves to those who accept us for exactly who we are.

Setting Personal Boundaries-Day 68 To 70 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

Self-care is respecting yourself enough to bravely enforce personal boundaries, even at the risk of disappointing others

self care instaPersonal boundaries are a vital part of our daily self-care. It sets the tone for how we wish to be treated, by others and by ourselves.

This is not something that I learned quickly. I have a tendency towards people pleasing and a massive fear of conflict. These two combined means I am at risk of letting my boundaries drop if I think I  will upset or disappoint someone by asserting them.

The trick to learning boundary setting, was in first learning to love and respect myself.

It was only when I realised my own worth, that I stopped needing others approval. Once I loved myself and knew myself as deserving of respect, I then began to feel brave enough to assert my needs and beliefs, even when that did mean having to say no to someone.

Making sure to set and assert my boundaries is now part of my daily self-care, in my personal life and in my work life. Boundaries can vary with different people in our lives and in different work situations.

There is no hard and fast rule, it is about finding out where your limit is, with particular people and in various situations, what you are willing to compromise and what you insist on sticking too.

In my situation, with the amount of open sharing I do, setting boundaries can be somewhat complicated. My boundaries when I share via video or written form are much easier to enforce. I know how open I want to be and I never go beyond that.  However, when talking directly to people, either online or face to face, boundaries can be more difficult to enforce.

When I am wearing my work hat, if I am asked questions, I will share openly about myself if it will benefit that person. However, when I take my work hat off, I am much stricter in the number of questions I will answer. The issue is that people see I talk frankly about myself online and they can think that it is OK to for them, in turn, to share with people they know, about things I have said, or they think it is OK to quiz me constantly on very personal topics. I can find it hard at times to alternate between the two hats I wear, the work/public Finn and the social/private Finn.

With my established friendship group I have a tried and tested formula which works, but when new people come into my life, everything is thrown off balance.

Therefore it is important that boundaries are revisited continuously as our work, and personal situations change. This is something I have become acutely aware of over this last week. For example, in my now branching out into writing, I am sharing even more of my self. The memoir I am writing and the personal essays I am submitting for publishing contains incidents I have not mentioned publically before. I need to reflect on how much I am willing to share and the repercussions from this.

Additionally, I have a new partner in my life and with him comes his family and friends.  I have to get to know the dynamics in our new relationship, and what each of us expects of the other. In entering his family and social circle, they are understandably curious about my being trans. However, I have to be balanced between answering some of their questions and saying no when I feel I have given enough of my personal self.

My tendency towards people pleasing and my fear of upsetting people has not left me, I have just learnt to be mindful of it and keep it in check.

With new people in my life and new opportunities, I want to, of course, be the best me. However, this need, if I am not careful, can cause me to lower my boundaries and let people treat me in ways I do not wish to be treated. I must remind myself that being my best self and being loved, should never come at the expense of my values and wellbeing.


Being OK With Not Being OK -Day 60 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

its ok to not be okSelf-care is knowing its OK to not be OK


Allowing myself to not be OK is never easy for me. This is especially true when l have good things in my life, like now with my new partner. I think to myself, “why am l sad? Things are good!” But just because you are sad about one thing doesn’t mean everything else in your life can’t bring you happy feelings. It’s not black and white. I am very sad about mum, and that will be the case regardless of all the other lovely stuff in my life.

I think I also worry that, being in the early days of a new relationship, I don’t want him to see me low. I worry that it might put a downer on our time together. This was one of the reasons for not wanting to introduce my new partner to my mum. I knew that with mum having dementia, she wouldn’t really be able to comprehend my happiness. This on its own was upsetting but I also worried that having my partner with me at mums, would make me completely fall apart and I also didn’t want him to see that.

I am so glad I share in the way that I do, on here and on YouTube, as it gives me the chance to reflect on these things. When I uploaded my recent vlog about my dilemma about whether to take my partner to see my mum, I had some really kind and helpful comments. In the end I realised that seeing me upset is seeing the authentic me and that is what I want in a relationship. I also realised that I would be more upset if mum passed away having not met my partner. The sadness of that would far outweigh the sadness of her meeting him but not comprehending who he is.

As it turns out, it was a lovely meeting. Mum was quite out of it, she has been for a few weeks, but we got a few words from her. On asking her what she thought of my partner she replied, “He’ll do.”

We laughed a lot in that hour and both myself and my partner shared some damp-eyed gazes at each other. The meeting certainly wasn’t what it would have been pre-dementia days but it was special in its own way.

I was OK with not being OK, and it was OK.


Learning To Let Go- Day 57 And 58 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcarechallenge

LET go of the things you cannot control.jpgSelf-care is learning to let go of the things you cannot control

When I began my recovery from mental illness and addiction, letting go was not an easy lesson for me However, I was helped to realise that my constant need to control everything was the cause of my pain, not the the thing itself. Learning this was a revelation that completely changed my perspective on control and letting go.

My life is in a huge period of change and is suddenly full of things I cannot control. Some of these things are positive, some negative, but in all life changing situations I currently find myself in, I have very little control of the actual outcome. I have a new relationship, a second party in my life to consider, my mum is slowly leaving us via the cruel hand of dementia, and I am at the beginning of a new career as a writer.

On top of this, I have been given a date for surgery.  This should be my final stage, if all goes well. However, I have had many issues so there is a chance I will need further surgery if my last fix didn’t succeed. This has now been made even more complicated by the fact that I have an under-active thyroid, discovered only a couple of months ago. I found out last week that without my thyroid levels being stable, I will not be able to have surgery.  I have had to cancel events this week, in order to get blood tests and run around liaising and emailing between my GP and Consultant. Its frustrating because I am cancelling events that I might not need to cancel if surgery doesn’t go ahead. If it doesn’t, on top of the disappointment at not being able to have surgery it will be hard not to be annoyed at missing a holiday with my best friend and a music festival.

This frustration however, is a complete waste of my energy and is not going to help improve anything. These events are simply out of my control. My energy is much better spent in controlling the things I can, like reorganising things so that I can get the necessary tests done. Letting go of what I can’t control, gives me the ability to better manage the things that are in my control, and allows me to be kinder to myself.


Enjoying The Simple Things- Day 52 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

enjoy the simple thingsSelf care is taking time to enjoy the simple things

Yesterday was such a lovely day spent with Chris. We didn’t do anything particularly special, but at the same time everything we did was special.
We both joke how we have already become like an old married couple. We take little walks along the seafront, sit in silence in each other’s company. Simply holding each other whilst listening to music or playing on our phones. All of these things make me smile so much because these seemingly simple things are the things l will carry with me through life.
Self-care is remembering to never underestimate the simple things as they will be the things you look back on with the greatest fondness.

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