How childhood shapes us

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Kitty
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How childhood shapes us

Post by Kitty »

Hello all,
This is a new thread I'm starting in response to the flow of personal stories that grew out of a discussion on the Cutting Down thread yesterday. Childhood shapes us in different ways. Some of us started drinking before we became adults and that can have a profound effect on our emotional development. Some of us had difficult times growing up, some of us didn't. One thing that seems to be a common factor is that a lot of us depite our upbringing have felt different for all or most of our lives. This is a place to explore that and everyone's story is valid.

Kitty X
"Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough" Billie Holiday

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Lush »

Kitty this is a brilliant idea for a thread, thankyou. <:)>

My childhood has had such a MASSIVE effect on how I ended up, I fear that if I start writing about it I won't be able to stop. I've recently been having counselling for depression which hasn't really worked because as you all know it's not vanilla depression it's bipolar disorder, which the alcohol was masking. My GP agrees that it's pointless continuing with the counselling at present. The point I'm getting to is this: when the counsellor was asking me about my childhood and which areas I wanted to address, it was like I was talking about someone else. I thought it was supposed to be cathartic, but it just didn't feel that way. Maybe I've blocked so much of it out that it really does feel like it happened to someone else, but I felt like I was narrating a story while she just sat there looking professionally sympathetic. One day I will write it all down, but it's going to be one hell of an essay.

Susie
xx

Edited to add: I never ever felt like I had a childhood and I always felt 'different'.
"I love the English language, it has a certain je ne sais qoi".

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Kitty
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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Kitty »

This is a post I wrote in response to something another member wrote on the Cutting Down thread. I know what you mean Susie about it turning into a never ending essay, but the way i see it is that we can just touch on things as they are relevant or occur to us


I was born in London, quite a confident clever kid (or so I'm told). When I was eight my parents uprooted us and we moved to the Canary Islands. I was sent to a Spanish school. I learnt Spanish pretty quick - I needed to. I was not alone in this, I have a sister a year younger. My sister is a petite little pretty thing, I'm just under six foot tall. I stuck out like a, well like a giraffe - that's what they called me, my little sister blended right in. Her teacher was a young forward thinking man who spoke a bit of English, my teacher was a slightly older woman who hated me in a way that as an adult I can only describe as racsism. As a child I just thought it was me. The kids hated me too.
My mother made me wear things that made me not fit in, I remember a particular tracksuit that I begged not to wear because every chance he got a boy on the school bus would attempt to yank down the bottoms to humiliate me. I gave away my things to them to try to make them like me, I lent them things they refused to give back and I told no one. I don't know why. On one memorable occasion the afore mentioned teacher humiliated me in front of the whole class by telling me how wrong I was when I claimed (in a moment of rare bravery) that England won the second world war. She insisted I was wrong and that it was Germany that won! I know that everyone reading this will find what I am saying very hard to believe. I went home and told my Mum, she dismissed it and told me I must have misunderstood. I hadn't. I kept things to myself from then on.

After some years we changed to a different Spanish school because we moved areas, things improved, by this time I was about twelve, I made friends. On the education front things were not good. The clever kid i was in London gave up on learning at the hands of that bloody nutty fascist woman at the previous school. So we changed schools again as It was then decided that we should be moved to a private English school on the island for the sake of our English eduation .
All this my sister took in her stride, if you dropped her from the moon she'd land on her feet! I made friends at the school with English kids that had recently moved to the island, it was the eighties. I was dreadfully uncool to these English kids, but somehow I managed to bag myself a best friend. My best friend's Dad owned bars and ran nightclubs - I'd found my playground.
In an attempt to make me happy my Mother gave me what as a mother myself now I would consider quite a lot of freedom. I was thirteen and I had a curfew of midnight - because that's what my best friend had. My pocket money was 3.500 pesetas per week which was then around £17.50 - because that's what my best friend had. £17.50 bought you a lot of booze on that Island at that time, not to mention the fact that in my BF's Dad's bars we didn't have to pay (and a few Malibu and cokes wouldn't hurt us would it ). And so I began my career of by growing up too quickly not growing up at all.

I've never spoken to my Dr about my reliance on alcohol due to my extreme inability to cope around people. I did go to therapy once but was not honest about my drinking and the therapist just made me hate my parents and feel worse about myself.

I can't believe how selfish I've been here Charlotte, spewing my stuff out here when you need help. I just wanty to offer you solidarity love. I'm 36, you're obviously quite a bit younger than me, don't leave it till your mid thirties to do this for yourself.


Sharing our stories can help, I'm sure it can. Sorry again for going on so much.

Love Kitty xxx
"Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough" Billie Holiday

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Lush »

Kitty please please don't apologise to anyone for sharing how you feel. Reading your post is incredibly touching and if sharing your story helps others to open up then that's a good thing, yes? You have no need to be sorry for being so open and honest. <:)>

There is a relevant part of my childhood coming up very soon and I'm getting a tattoo to commemorate it. My dad was killed in a car accident on 20th December 1968, just under a month before my 4th birthday. He was sober as a judge, the guy he was driving home had given him his keys because he'd had too much to drink. He ended up with a few cuts and bruises. The tattoo I'm getting to commemorate the 40th anniversary is a pair of angel wings with a halo above it and the word 'daddy' between the wings. I'm going to have it done on my right shoulder. Even though I was so young when it happened, I have never got over it, and in no small part due to my mother's refusal to talk about him. I will write more when I hit another relevant period in my life.

Susie
xx
"I love the English language, it has a certain je ne sais qoi".

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Bupster »

I've copied this over from the other thread as well, but added a few bits.

I also did the not fitting in at school thing, and was mocked for being good at school and for sounding posh (in fairness, we'd moved from north London to Luton; Lorraine Chase would have sounded posh). I felt like I'd been parachuted onto an alien planet and had to learn everything from scratch. I remember at the age of 16 consciously deciding that I was going to have to buckle down and learn social skills just like everything else. Booze helped. It levelled the playing field. I found places where I didn't stand out so much.

I only actually began to feel a sense of belonging when I belatedly acknowledged that I was quite bright as well as being a good barmaid, and went off to university in the city where I now live, a place that treasures its eccentrics. It's impossible to stand out here, you could ride around on a unicycle quoting Milton and be ignored, and eventually I felt safe and started thinking of myself as something other than a clever barmaid. I love Fiend's description of 'excising' the bits that seemed to cause offence; finally, in my mid- to late- twenties, I started acknowledging them and liking myself, which was very hard to do when everyone around you seems to disagree.

I also had a fraught relationship with my mother, and I think that does contribute to that sense of outsiderness, compounded by the fact that both my parents felt themselves to be outsiders to some extent as well. It's hard to teach your kids ease in the world if you haven't any ease yourself. I was lucky in that I had started to come to terms with myself before my mother died and we had the chance to come to a deep if largely unspoken understanding. There was forgiveness. I don't think she could have been any other way in her life and neither could I, but I know she loved me and that's turned out to be enough. I do wish she was still around, though; her death has opened up areas for me that I never thought I could enter, as so much of what I was trying to be was the 'opposite of her'; my mother was very emotional and so I was relentlessly rational, she loved flowers and gardens and didn't drink so I went to pubs and rejected anything feminine. Now I have a flat full of flowers and an allotment and I think she would have liked the person I'm becoming, though if I'm honest, perhaps I couldn't have become it if she was still alive. Mothers have such a planetary pull on us.

It's funny, it's almost impossible to acknowledge that this stuff strikes a chord without writing a couple of chapters, isn't it? I don't think there are any other fora in which we could put our drinking in the context of our whole lives like this though. And see that other people have harder stories, and that at the end of them all we're all sat here wanting to start writing a new chapter for ourselves.

Kitty's "extreme inability to cope around other people" in particular feels really familiar to me. I would feel frozen, caught in the headlights, every time I was in a social situation - I simply had no idea how I was expected to behave, what I was expected to say. For me it really did feel as if I'd missed out on something that other people somehow learned - I was just as awkward as a child, but frankly, all kids are weird, so it didn't matter as much. As an adolescent though, especially in an environment where I felt and sounded alien, I just had no idea where you were supposed to get the list of rules from. I know all teenagers go through this to a certain extent, but at the time my parents were coming to the end of their marriage and my mother was beginning the descent into being a bit bonkers, and I had nobody to turn to to ask. Drink was a revelation. I'd never felt such ease, and when I discovered pubs it was like I'd finally come home.

I'll stop now, before the server bursts.

Cheers,
Bupster
Do not wait; the time will never be "just right." Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. George Herbert

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by hamster »

Hello All

Brill posts and I cant believe how much I can relate to.

I also often feel 'frozen' in social situations. Always have.

I moved around a lot in my childhood - 11 differnent addresses and two different countries by the time I was 15. The worst was moving to Yorkshire and I had the same problem in that I sounded 'posh' to others. This astounded me but I was teased for it. I hated moving , hated change - still do.

My Mother never showed love - not something she was able to do. Dad was always there - somewhere behind his newspaper. I felt very responsible for my younger sibblings and always seemed to have a huge sense of responsibility for their feelings and my Mothers.

I was also quite ill in childhood and spent a lot of time in and out of hospital. I comfort ate and by the time I was 15 I was decideldy dumpy.

I decided to do something about the weight and anorexia seemed good. Also got me some attention from my Mother who was incredibly impressed with my self control - wow - approval - I kept gooing.

Anoxria is not that much fun - cant eat and I like food. So not long then before I went onto bulimia - binging and starving cycle. Totally turns you upside down emotionally.

Bulimia went on until my late twenties when I decided I needed to get a grip - no one else thought I did - just me. Mum still thinking if I look good then nothing else is a problem.

So went into therapy and all sorted. - All ok for some years - still tendancy to comfort eat but no anorexia or bulimia. In my late thirties the drinking started. swapped one addiction for another :roll: I also smoke - another addiction.

The moral to this story is - not got a clue actually :lol:

I think children need stability, security and love to grow up emotionally stable. If a child has emotional intelligence they will have the confidence needed to achieve anything.

I also think that the past does not define the future and that we have that in our own control. We can challange behaviour patterns and change them and we can challange thought patterns and change them also.
a pap childhood does not mean a pap adulthood automatically - it can be more difficult but we all have the power of change within us.
Hammy
x
AF2011 number 10

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Jan
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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Jan »

Hello Everyone,
I am a bit afraid of this thread. Not in a bad way - I just think it is probably going to get big and deep and heavy. This is a good thing though. We all need to face our demons, the reasons why we drink. It isn't for the taste or the buzz. For some of us its because deep down, we don't really like ourselves - low self-esteem if you like. Low self-esteem caused by the very things we are talking about. We do need to talk about these things, to face them head on - and so although I am a little bit afraid of this thread, I also think it is the most important and healing thread on the forum. Well done Kitty and Bupster for getting this thread started.

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Lush »

Jan I'm shit scared of this thread too, but I do think it's very much needed. Getting my new tattoo is going to be such an emotional time for me, but I want to do it before the anniversary comes so I can go to my dad's grave and 'show' him, if that makes sense. He's buried a fair bit away in the village I grew up in, and I only go there once a year because that place holds very little but bad memories for me. I think this tattoo will finally help me gain some kind of closure, something that has been lacking all my life.

Susie
xx
"I love the English language, it has a certain je ne sais qoi".

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by CFM »

Hello. I think this is a great idea for a new thread, although I do agree that the content could get quite deep and painful ... I wrote something earlier on the cutting down thread in response to Fiendish's post about school experience because I really identified with some of what she said, but clearly this is a better place for these thoughts, as (for me anyway) it has nothing to do with cutting down which I am not able to even attempt.
I am in therapy at the moment and my therapist has helped me see that I have used a number of things as an escape from painful thoughts and feelings, drink being one major escape route (I am over simplifying here, he is a good therapist!) We have also talked quite a lot about the feeling of never fitting in properly, of always feeling like an outsider. Allied to being an outsider is being left out - I come from a very big family and there are issues with that - without going into too much detail, it has left me with a constant sense of being ignored, or overlooked, or slightly neglected - I described it to him as feeling like a fraction of a person. Which leaves a very fertile ground for anything which provides an escape to thrive - drink, drugs, bad relationships, and more.
I am actually feeling very unhappy today because of other things which I can't bring myself to put here - I'm not sure the forum is a suitable place anyway - other things which I am sure also stem directly or indirectly from all this long-ago childhood stuff. And I really don't want to start drinking again - this is the first time in four and a half weeks that I am going to have to deal with something really painful without covering it up with alcohol.
Hope I am not on the wrong thread yet again - I'm not planning to drink.

Be brave everyone, I'm sure it can only help us to look back at those childhood demons and lay them to rest.

CFM :(

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Bupster »

I'm actually going through my mum's stuff at the moment. It was shipped to my flat after she died, several years ago now, and I'd never really set aside the time to go through it, it all just lived in boxes, except for the things that got absorbed into my daily life. It's bringing her very close to me. I just found her glasses.

It's also bringing the loss very close as well as the memories - the good crockery that was never used but lived on the dresser, that sort of thing. I feel quite sad, and tearful, but glad I'm able to do it without a glass of wine. Hopefully some more of her stuff - and of her - will be absorbed into my life, and some put away for my brother and sister, and some given away because none of us need it any more.

Didn't expect this tonight.
Do not wait; the time will never be "just right." Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. George Herbert

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by S-J »

I just lost a really long message, my own fault for not being logged in!

My Mum and Dad have been married for 45 years. My Dad was the youngest of four, so was treated like a baby. My Mum had a tough upbringing, she was one of seven and was the eldest daughter so bore the brunt of the responsibility. She was really clever, but my Grandad was a real chauvinist and told her that a bright, confident woman would never find a husband. He also bullied her for being overweight which I believe has really affected her more then she would admit.

I'm more like my Dad - good at English and art, perceptive, over-analytical and totally obsessed with the way we're perceived by others. My Mum has really done her best to make me and my brother 'successful', but whereas he has a great life 'professionally', I totally freaked out when I went to unversity and got some real independence, I went down the classic anorexia route - I couldn't control my life so I controlled what I ate. I then descended into alcoholism. I managed to graduate with a degree in philosophy in art, but ended up travelling for five years, terrified of doing the '9 to 5'. I loved being on the road, meeting new people every day, seeing new sites but never forming any real bonds.

Anyway, I fell pregnant by mistake and gave birth to my little girl 17 months age. I love her so much, but I don't love her Dad. I travelled with him, so we have a huge bond. But he had a violent upbringing, and has a nasty temper. To his credit, he is getting counselling for our daughter's sake. But I'm not living the life I went - I'm 31 and I haven't met the love of my life yet! I possibly never will, but I realise that I need to get sober to try and establish exactly what it is I do want.

Anyway, enough waffle - take care everyone X
"The beauty of life is finding the balance between peace and passion."

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by S-J »

Bupster,

My post seems very trivial and shallow in comparison. I hope you're OK, I can't imagine the emotions you're feel.

Thankyou again for your ace posts X <:)> <:)>
"The beauty of life is finding the balance between peace and passion."

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Bupster »

Trivial and shallow it isn't at all. It's really useful I think to see how we've modelled ourselves sometimes on one parent rather than the other, and perhaps limited ourselves that way as well. As I was going through some of this stuff (only one box so far - there are many many more...) I did find a few bits and pieces that I immediately snaffled for my own mantlepiece or set aside for the future. My whole taste (awful word) in dress and decor and the things I like to have around me comes from my mother, but for most of her life I denied her and tried to model myself on my father, who I saw as strong and capable and at ease in the world, and in the pub, natch, where my mother was weak and emotional and awkward and had few friends. I never really saw her generosity or kindness outside that frame of weakness I'd imposed.

Control is coming out as a big theme as well, isn't it? Ironic that so many of us are desperate to impose control on our lives, and I rejected anything that looked like it might be weak, and yet our drug of choice instantly catapults us to out-of-control. Perhaps it's in reaction? Perhaps we are so exhausted by the striving for control that we actually want oblivion just for a rest?

Cheers,
Bupster
Do not wait; the time will never be "just right." Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. George Herbert

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by S-J »

hi Bupster,

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said thet sometimes striving for control is so exhausting that we just seek oblivion for a rest. That's precisely how i feel right - for me, being sober is easy once you gain the momentum, but in the early stages it feels like too much of a chore, which is why I''m in this current mess.

It sounds really cheesy, but for want of a better phrase I think you need to be in the appropriate headspace. If you've been getting drunk on and off for ages, it's easy to kid yourself that social drinking is possible - not drinking daily means you're ok, surely?. I think that I know that it isn't. The only time that I go at least a week without drinking is when I've had a really bad binge and have been physically sick, etc. Surely this shouldn't be the first hint of a drink problem?
"The beauty of life is finding the balance between peace and passion."

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Bupster »

jaycee wrote:I find that I often disappear internally to avoid dealing with things. I am now learning to recognise what is happening and how to use techniques to help keep me anchored in the present.
I remember several years ago, coming to a solitary decision not to let myself daydream any longer. I used to be able to go off into flights that could fill up hours of my life. It was a good way of filling time that I wasn't enjoying, of putting myself somewhere more interesting, where I was a hero of my own life instead of a bystander. I used to do it drunk, too, especially if I was drinking alone; I'd find myself going to bed at 2 or 3 am on an extra bottle because I'd spent three hours in my own head.

I just stopped doing it. Every time I caught myself, I made myself stop. It was horrible at first, like every time I'd got comfortable I had to go out in the cold. But after a while it became one of the most important things that I'd done, because I got all that time back, I spent all that energy present in my own life instead of off somewhere in my head. As recently as a couple of years ago I still occasionally did the drunk fantasy thing, but not any more. The only fantasy I indulge in these days is the football (at which I'm rubbish, as it goes).

Cheers,
Bupster
Do not wait; the time will never be "just right." Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. George Herbert

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Liquid Child »

Hi,

This is a truly great thread for all the right reasons. I'm in tears when I read all the similarities that I can relate to. I've wanted to post here but this is going to be the hardest post I've ever had to make and I really don't know where to begin. To be honest I'm afraid to start because I might not be able to stop.

I was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham 16/12/1964 (our Mums were carrying us at the same time Susie! (that's a funny thought!)).

I was a very handsome kid and I started to talk at 6 months old and everyone was so shocked when they saw this little lad coming out with all this stuff.

I fell off a tree swing whilst trying to show off no handed to a girl who lived next door and smacked the back of my head open on the rockery. Her mum was a nurse and my mum rushed me round. I was OK for a couple of days but started to have blackouts and remember throwing up whilst watching 101 Dalmatians at the cinema. I spent about two weeks in hospital with really bad concussion. I swear that contributed to me becoming so withdrawn.

We moved to Droitwich Spa when I was 6 as part of the Brummie overspill project to a brand new housing estate. I'm sat writing this in the same house now I live back with my parents. I was the first little Jehovah's Witness boy (I'm not now) to go through the school system in the whole of Droitwich. Every assembly I had to sit outside the door as every other kid went in and asked me over and over "Why don't go into assembly", I always said the same thing "My mum and dad are Jehovah's witnesses and it's against their religion". Then there was all the "Why don't you celebrate Christmas and Birthdays" questions. RE lessons I had to sit at the back and read a book and every now and then I was made to stand up explain why I couldn't participate, I always gave the same answer as before. Every play time I stood in the far corner of the playground on my own hoping that mum might walk past. I used to get covered in bruises from all the kicks and punches. Ended up running away several times all the way back home. I remember standing there once and thinking "What if we're all just brains in jars like some experiment that aliens are conducting and none of this is real".

The daft thing is I was bullied so badly and felt so lonely and isolated I didn't put any effort into any of the lessons and years later I've taken IQ tests and I always score above 160 or as high as that test will go as much as 180. Despite all the years of drug abuse I've still got an absolute photographic memory for any piece of music I hear. I might forget who wrote it or what it's called but I can remember every note of every instrument. I can remember all the notes of anything sung but often forget the actual words which is odd. Been composing music and driving everyone mad since as long back as I can remember.

Sorry went off on a bit of a right tangent but it's all relevant to how I feel and how frustrated I am about what might or might not have been.

I ran away from home when I was about 10 for a few days and all the police were looking for me. I lived off blackberries and damsons in the woods. It was in the local paper. My claim to fame. I started doing it again even after Id left school and started college then various jobs in photographic trade. I used to say good bye to my wife to go to work then wander over the fields all day before returning home. Oh course after a few weeks went by with no pay cheque I always got found out and have lost many jobs doing that. Two wives were lucky enough to experience my madness. I ended up for a while at a magical place called 'The Covercroft Center' where all the local crazies were sent to socialise and draw and paint and throw pizza at each other in between the dribbling sessions.

I'll have to stop waffling for a while as this is mentaly draining and I cant continue. At least I haven't been drinking yet because of all the typing.

Love Glenn xxx
Last edited by Liquid Child on 03 Nov 2008 22:15, edited 1 time in total.

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Lush
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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Lush »

Glenn, well done for posting all of that, especially as you're having such a rough time lately. The common theme throughout all of these posts is the sense of isolation, not belonging and feeling 'different'. I also feel that once I start writing about my childhood I might not be able to stop. I still believe that the root of a lot of my problems is the fact that I lost my dad so young, he was only 33 when he was killed and I miss him even though I never got the chance to get to know him, weird as that may sound. I suppose I've idolised him for all these years which probably isn't entirely healthy, but I don't know how to feel any other way.

Susie
xx
"I love the English language, it has a certain je ne sais qoi".

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by becstarr »

Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories with us all. You are all very very brave to do so.
I don't have much to tell really so I'm not going to contribute but admire everyone who does.

Bec <:)>

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Liquid Child »

Fiend,

My heart is with you I really mean that. That's awful about your work. Please find some comfort in knowing that I'm thinking of you along with all your mates here. It only often takes one bad apple in the work place to make things horrible. You know and we all know just how special you are and I bet your absolutely brill at whatever you do <:)> <:)> <:)> . I hope we get to meet up soon one day like this month maybe. Your sense of humour is awesome as well you know that.

Loads of love to you always.

Glenn xxx

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Re: How childhood shapes us

Post by Anna »

Glenn,
I think you are the most extraordinary person I have ever not met.
I , too, don't quite want to 'go there ' just now with going over the past so I do salute those stories here and if I haven't replied in detail, it isn't for lack of care but because I'd perhaps have to delve too deep into my own (not at all dramatic really) past ,stick myself there for a bit and I 'm just not ready to do it at the moment.
Love,
Anna.xx

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