Memories of Mam 💓

Are you in Pain and Hurting from the Loss of someone dear to you? Is there a special important day like ‘Mothers Day’ looming and it presses those buttons of Grief and Loneliness? .
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Loss and Grief are some of the most intricate and complex scenarios that Life throws at us. The Emotions that are attached can be varying and so difficult to handle. You can go through Anger, Frustration, Sadness, Loneliness, Peace and Happiness. .
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For me my Mothers death has been the hardest life event to date. Nothing prepares you to say that Goodbye no matter how much notice you have. For me my Grief didn’t really begin until very recently, our bodies and minds are so clever and can keep us in a Protective and Survival mode. This is so useful however at times it plays havoc with health and well-being. It’s much more beneficial to Allow those Emotions, those feelings of despair and heartache to surface and be released. .
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Notable days like Mothers Day, Fathers Day, a birthday or Anniversary can bring it all back to you in an instant. It depends on where you’re at in your healing & journey how you’re feeling about those types of days, whether you celebrate them, want to run and hide away from them or scream and roar the place down!
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This past week I’ve felt triggered by all the gifts and cards that are in ever shop you enter. A constant reminder of the (for me) two mothers that aren’t in my life. As I’m in the process of trying to contact my birth mother a myriad of emotions are surfacing. However it’s a good thing, a positive for me that I’m finally allowing myself to feel them and to let them pass through. .
Ways I’m helping myself on days like Mothers Day:
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*Celebrate: I’ve decided to mark my special Mother in some way on Sunday – go to her favourite spot, take time out to reconnect with all my beautiful memories of her.
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*Journaling/Write a Letter: Just because she’s not physically here doesn’t mean I can’t talk to get, tell her what’s going on in my life and share the gossip with her!
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*Photographs: Reminisce back my looking at the photographs of happy times, of memorable days and trips away as a family. Use them to spark conversations with my family.

Storms of Life 💨🌪

Are there some Days when you just feel like you’re living in a never ending Storm? Do you wonder when it will give up & die down? Does it sometimes feel like those Waves keep coming?
At different times in my life I’ve felt like this, that everything comes at once, that there can seem to be challenge after challenge. It can be quite rocky and stormy. You can feel unsteady.
However I always always trust that these incidents and times of Change are happening for a Reason. There has to be some Learning or Lesson involved. I do believe it’s important to Reflect on the Storm and ‘wonder’ what could it’s purpose be? Is there some underlying reason? Can I flip my thoughts around to see the Value in it? (As challenging as that can be!!)
Ways that Help me through the Storm:
*Journal/Reflect: Sometimes we can all be far too much in our heads, analysing the situation, getting stressed out with all the emotions that are flooding our system. It’s important to take time to ‘get out’ of our head, to release those inner ‘waves’ maybe through writing, through movement, through art/music. It can very often tell us a lot more about the Storm that what we’re feeling or seeing.
*Ride the Waves: I know for me I can be quite resistant of the more ‘painful’ and unpleasant feeling associated with the Storms that can show up in Life. I’m learning more and more that it’s crucial to learn to ride the Storm – to feel the feelings, allow them in and then release them free. In the last I would have tried to ignore and shut them out however they just remain within, festering inside. Let them Go!
*See the Light: Yes it can be really dark and bleak at times however keep your eyes peeled and alert to when you can start seeing little, visible signs of brightness and light entering. Again at times I know I can be so self consumed on the ‘problems/challenges’ that I can be blinded to the glimmers and flickers of light, of change. Keep watch you’ll begin to see the hope and light of a new day dawning.
#darknesstolight #hope #lessonslearned #ridethewaves #mentalhealth

Better Memories 🙌🏻🏀👩‍👧‍👧

Have you lost someone that you love, a family member, a close friend, a partner? Grief is utterly horrible and it is so individual and unique. I know there is such a thing as the 7 steps of Grief but by God some days I feel like it’s 177 steps or at times that I’m stuck on a step or about to fall off a step!

My Mam’s 5th Anniversary is looming now at the end of January and in some ways it feels like she is only gone and in other ways it feels longer. Time is a funny phenomenon. Looking back I had thought I’d ‘grieved’, dealt with her death probably due to the fact we had known for some years that she wasn’t well and that there was no cure but I don’t think you ever give up HOPE for that miracle, that once off blessing that defies all odds? No matter the circumstances, the warning, the way we loose a loved one, it’s never easy to let go or to accept their death.

For many years I felt stuck, enveloped in the sadness, the hurt and pain of not having my Mam by my side to talk to, to laugh with, to do Sudoku and crosswords with. There is a real empty void when overnight their physical presence has vanished. Us humans are such sensory beings so not being able to smell their scent, their perfume, hear their laugh or voice or feel their hug and warm embrace is heart wrenching. It does feel at times that someone opened you up and broke your heart into tiny pieces.

However, having all that said I now feel I have turned a corner, I can feel more at peace about my mam’s death, I am able to look at her photos and smile rather than cry, I can bear to have little chats with her and it’s not as painful as it once was. Surely I must be on Step 6 at least!!

For me what’s changed is my perspective, my emotions and my relationships. Now I can see back to more happier times and not feel stuck within the cycle of her sickness and the trauma we all suffered, now I can feel all emotions again (still a slow process but I’m moving!) before at times I felt I couldn’t feel happy from guilt, or sad from the pain or anger from the shame! Gosh we are complex beings!! Now I can relate and communicate better than I ever could. I can now express calmly my emotions, my views and trust my thoughts.

I’m slowly regaining control again over my thoughts and being able to reminisce of times in my childhood with Mam, fond memories shared together and smile as I do so. I know she is with me every single day, guiding and protecting me and also giving me a good shake when needed!!! She wouldn’t want to see me sad, regret, have guilt or pain while remembering the past. She would only want me to feel the warmth of her, remember the true Anna Ward aka the Tough Cookie, the one who never missed a basketball match, the one who would give everything she had to make others happy, to lend a supportive and listening ear in times of worry or stress, help me with my homework/studies and pour out her love.

Coming up to Christmas and it’s just not the same as before, it’s a time for family and how can you be happy and joyful when someone isn’t there. That would have been my thoughts before now. Now I’m choosing happiness, I’m choosing fond memories and I’m choosing joy. The power lies with us which way we think/act and live. It’s not that I’m forgetting I’m now remembering. Remembering without the pain, the loss or hurt.

Sometimes we’ve got to take action in doing so. I’m organising a fun basketball gathering just after New Years (2nd of January) in memory of Mam, where we share stories, gather and remember the good times while making more!

How do YOU choose to Remember?

“Remember Me

In all My Glory!

I know You’re Sad

You Miss a Friend you Had

But I’m Not Gone

Eventhough Time can Feel

So Long!

I’m Still Here

Don’t You Fear”

(Deirdre Ward)

During the week I was chatting with a mother in relation to her son’s behaviour and how during a challenging incident she found that she was overwhelmed, went into ‘survival‘ mode herself and reacted to the undesirable behaviours. She beat herself up saying how she could feel her temper and didn’t deal with the behaviour the most effectively.

It got me thinking that it’s only human and natural we are all triggered by events, people, stress, a word passed, a ‘look’, of course we all react in the moment. However it also gave me another insight into how important it is that we begin with ourselves, we need to self-reflect, look at how we behave, our own internal thoughts, the way we work, how and why we do the things we do?

I delivered a workshop in conjunction with my business UNLOCK on Tuesday evening to a group of 63 parents. I was educating people about how by the age of three our Core Beliefs are formed about ourselves, other people and the world. Imagine at 3! How young we make these perceptions and formulations of how we will be treated, firstly by ourselves and then by others. Don’t panic!! We can Change also and rewrite these beliefs that may be somewhat false and out of sync!

For me in the past and still at times today when I feel triggered, my views of myself revert back to the feeling of not being good enough, of being wary of others and the world, whether I am truly safe or not. The subconscious mind, where we store old memories, thoughts and feelings can come right back up to the surface and hit you out of the blue. At times we don’t even know it’s happening.

If we don’t do some piece of work on ourselves, deepen our awareness of the being we’ve become – good/bad/indifferent, then how can we strive to reach a new level of existence, one in which we grow more fully to reach our potential, reach new heights and feel complete. Do we ever feel complete? Surely it’s a continual process for as long as we live?

Don’t try to change anyone else, believe me I’ve tried it for too long, it’s like trying to fit a circle into a triangle. It’s draining, hard work and will never happen. Yes of course you may see ways in which you believe others need to change – your children, your family, friends but firstly step back see how you can become somewhat different in Your approach, in Your way of being that might help and assist those people in making some changes for the better.

Remember you always put your own oxygen mask on first before anyone else’s!

Have a wonderful weekend Tough Cookies x x

Love Deirdre

Comfort 👚🧣💕

Some days reality comes along and hits you like a slap across the face. Last night I felt overwhelmed by many different areas in my life: health, work, family, demands. Sometimes it can all just pile up and you just don’t feel as able to cope as other days! Most definitely it hits me when I’m tired and have been on the go.

I had a busy weekend where I was on the go so last night when I had heard some bad news along with having a health related appointment earlier in the day it just got too much! Do you ever feel like curling up into a cocoon and hibernating?! 🦋

Yesterday I visited my aunt (my mam’s sister). Seeing her resemblances with my mam triggered me missing mam’s personality, appearance and irreplaceable qualities. Like I said some days it just comes out of nowhere and hits you more deeply, more suddenly and more painfully than others. Feeling overwhelmed and upset I got some comfort from my dad but I also had to ring my ‘adopted Mammy’ that lives in Wexford; a very special lady I met the first time I visited Medjugorje. I knew Mam sent her on my path as a mothering figure for me, a support, a loving female to be there when I need my Mam. While on the phone to her she suggested I get into my bed with my hot water bottle and something belonging to my Mam. How crazy is it that I NEVER much thought of taking something tactile to hold and hug of my mam’s to feel her close by and to feel soothed by! Course I did soon after she died but I hadn’t in a long long time.

I slept soundly last night all cosied up to my mam’s soft, fluffy cardigan. Sometimes it is the smallest things that help reassure you, bring comfort and love.

I saw this quote at the weekend of wanting to be a fairy instead of a human at times! I just loved it, of course we all feel like escaping at times, magically wishing the pain, the hurt, the anger and sadness of tougher days away, of being that fairy throwing some magic dust over life.

Life is challenging, full of hurdles and blocks however we have to remember it IS FULL of magic, of happiness and love, visible and invisible. We have the MAGIC within!

“Some Days can Seem

Dark & Dull

No Sparkle

No Magic

It’s Quite Tragic!

But All’s not Lost

Although at a Cost

There’s Comfort

Around

It Can be Found!”

(Deirdre Ward)

Tough Cookie Travels 🌎✈️

Tomorrow morning the Tough Cookie is taking her Dad off on an adventure to one of her most favourite, treasured and special places she has ever visited – Medjugorje.

This place I and so many call ‘Home‘, is hard to sum up in words, to explain and to understand. It’s an Experience and I guarantee you one you’ll have never witnessed before. This magical land is full of miracles, blessings, healing and light.

I’ve shared memories previously of the signs I’ve received while there of butterflies, the sun, the peace and feeling my beautiful mother close by me. For the last three years I’ve been trying to get my Dad to visit Medjugorje but one vital element was missing. I always said he’d have to go on his own with a group for his first visit. To my disgust I used to believe that we would ‘kill’ each other if we went together. How dreadful to even say those words never mind think them. That WAS the space I was in, full of grief for my mam’s death, in pain, angry and confused. Sadly I took this out on my Dad, the one person closest to me and whom I love above and beyond. It is so so true that those closest to us we can at times hurt the most.

Thank God I ‘saw the light’, I can now see clearly, I unravelled those blockages and continue to do so each moment of each day, we can be so blinded, so unwilling to go inwards, self-reflect and instead blame others around us, blame life for not working out, for feeling stuck etc

I, the Tough Cookie had to be weak, be vulnerable, to breakdown in order to rise again, to find clarity, to want change, transformation and to feel love, peace and light in my life once again.

My prayer, faith, trust and determination has helped me with this and I must add along with very special family, friends and strangers I’ve met along the way. Courses such as the Landmark Forum has helped me to take action, to create magical and magnificent possibilities for my life, my future and those BIG dreams I am manifesting into reality.

I feel fully blessed and grateful for my life, for myself ‘Deirdre Nicole Ward‘ for the first time in a long time (if not ever!!)

I am taking a well deserved break from my Tough Cookie Blog, from work, from my busy schedule to make Magical Memories with my Dad, to feel at ease and peace and to live every second fully this next week.

I look forward to sharing my trip with you all on my return. And remember you’re ‘One Tough Cookie’ 💪🏻🍪💜

UNLOCK 🔑💜

Have YOUunlocked’ old beliefs, outdated habits, negative thoughts and resolved difficult experiences that you experienced in your past? If not, WHY NOT?

Does something still hold you back? Tell you you’re not good enough? Whisper those self-doubts in your mind? That’s too bad if your answer is Yes! Fear Not! You CAN turn that Yes into a No!

I don’t believe that any one of us sails through life unchallenged, unaffected by negativity, by a hurtful experience, a scary situation, a memory that stays within and haunts us. But I do believe that Every One of us has the ability to resolve, to change, to fix and heal our mind and our lives if willing to do so.

UNLOCK is a programme that I designed to do just that. It’s to help children feel free, confident, capable, empowered and happy from a young age so that their hearts don’t harden, they don’t become riddled with fear, they’re not held back from pursuing their wildest dreams and most of all they feel accepted just as they are.

Humans amaze me all the time, at how unique we all are, connections we make each and every day, coincidences that occur and memories made which are deeply rooted within the heart to treasure and hold forever. Surely we are all here to love, to trust, to help and to make some difference while our time ticks on?

I feel privileged to be able to work closely with children and parents/carers so that I can help and support the whole family unit. I wear many ‘hats’ such as listener, carer, advisor, protector, player, mentor and I’m finding new ones every day! All important and necessary, even that clown’s hat within the playroom!! 😂

I’m passionate about the work I do, I’m honest, empathetic, understanding and non-judgemental. Although I am not a parent myself yet I do see how challenging parenthood can be, I say all the time it is the hardest job out there. It comes with no manual, each child so very different. It’s overwhelming, scary, stressful and exhausting but I do also see how rewarding and fulfilling it can be.

I’m here to help ease stress, worries, difficulties within your home so that everyone is happier and there is more time for fun, laughter and play.

As a child I remember being anxious, lacking confidence, unable to trust myself and was filled with fears. I felt locked inside despite having the most loving, safe and reassuring Home. Yes this was deeply rooted in my Adoption, it was part of who I was and became stuck within my subconscious mind. Slowly but surely I have turned that key, I have set those old ways and thoughts free and I see the beauty, the uniqueness, the capabilities that are weaved within Deirdre!

I’m sure you want this and more for you, your child and whole family. Help everyone feel Free, turn the key, UNLOCK oneself! I can help with those set of keys!

“Sometimes we’re Tense

We get a Sense!

Of Fear,

There’s Danger Near,

We Hold it In

It Sinks into our Skin!

But Fear NOT

It CAN be

UNLOCKED!”

(Deirdre Ward)

The Tough Cookie Treks 🏔

Hi Tough Cookies, I’m BACK!!

Thank you to everyone who shared a piece in the last two weeks, each and every story, nugget of insight was invaluable and no doubt touched those people that needed to read them. I for one know that each piece brought some comfort, support, guidance and truth for me. You can feel proud for sharing a piece of your journey to help others.

I have to admit as much as I was SO grateful to others for sharing blog posts I missed writing my own! Doesn’t writing your thoughts and feelings just bring about such healing and help you to understand that bit more clearly what is going on inside your body and mind? It makes us slow down and connect that bit more fully.

Life isn’t easy by any means but what I am really focusing on at the minute is it’s beauty. Especially during this beautiful spell of sunshine we here in Ireland are being blessed with at the minute it is much easier to see and feel gratitude each and every day. Gratitude for the smallest things that we too quickly take for granted – friendships, nature, health, a smile, a hug.

Yesterday I went on an adventure and climbed Mount Errigal here in Donegal, it was just what my soul needed. A wonderful friend, giggles, contemplations on life, fresh air, exercise, one or two stumbles along the way 🙈, meeting strangers and a lovely meal shared.

This is what life is all about. Taking time out to enjoy simple pleasures right on your doorstep, meaningful friendships with those people who uplift you and connect with you, getting outdoors moving your body, filling your lungs with fresh air and feeling grateful for the bright days.

As I write this I have a smile on my face along with a slightly swollen and bruised hand! I smile because reflecting on my ‘falls’ (yes it’s plural) yesterday as I made the descent down to the bottom of the mountain, the first stumble I had, I laughed it off, a shock but relatively unhurt. The second fall (within the next 10mins!) almost mirrored the first, the same impact, the same body part and yes much more painful!

I smile because isn’t life a bit like this? We stumble, we fall, we fall many times, repeating the same mistakes, taking the same path until we take the ‘final’ blow and get fed up of the pain, the hurt. We decide to take a different path, we decide to rise and get up, mustering up all the strength we can find and feel determined to overcome that particular hill/peak/climb.

This is exactly how I feel. I have felt like I have been climbing an uphill battle for sometime in particular with my grief & health, yes along the way there have no doubt been some even and smooth terrain, but there have been many falls, loose stones and shaky ground. I heard the passage at mass this weekend in one of the readings that ‘our weaknesses make us strong‘ and I know and trust that this is the complete truth and every stumble has been for an important reason. Choose to view your struggles and ‘falls’ in this light and you WILL overcome them.

“I have Fallen

Over & Over

I have made the same

Mistakes

Again & Again

But I Trust

In the Path I Pave

Step by Step

It’s How I’m Saved”

(Deirdre Ward)

The Wounded Healer 🙌🏻

Thank you to this Tough Cookie for sharing an incredibly difficult piece of their story. You’re SO SO brave. Thank You 🌟

Bowlby believed that our ‘internal working model’ is based on our early childhood experiences (McLeod, 2015). He believed that early childhood experiences could affect mental health and behaviour and that a secure attachment with the primary caregiver or mother, particularly in the first five years of life, would lead to the healthy development of the child, the child’s personality and future interactions with others (Bowlby, 1969).

Looking back on my own early childhood and first five years of life, this seemed to be true. I have fond memories of my childhood, a secure attachment with my mother and explored my world and environment through sensory based and natural objects. I spent my days exploring in the flower bed, making ‘flower perfume’, playing outdoors and had a very wide imagination. So how is it that a child (me), could have a positive start to life, later suffer from depression, anxiety, bulimia, self-harm, substance abuse and have a long-lasting sense of guilt and shame?

I was bullied at the age of twelve. I was bullied for being ‘different’ in terms of my physical appearance. The bullying lead to self-harm and missing school, and I fully believed, until a few weeks ago, it was the cause of my depression and the reoccurring theme of shame and guilt throughout my life. For the past two years I have grown and learnt to accept my wound, believing that my lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence and feelings of shame, particularly in terms of my body, was impacted by the bullying. However, recently, I have built myself back up again, creating an empowering, emotionally intelligent and strong young woman. Over the last two years, I had built myself to be a woman who truly knew herself, was aware of herself and felt strongly towards her beliefs and values, a woman who stood up for what she believed in, a woman who travelled to the continent of Africa and could singlehandedly banish corporal punishment in schools, a woman who was determined and powerful, a woman who knew the many different characters and archetypes of herself, calling upon them when they were needed.

That was until last year, when my identity, personality and psyche was stripped away or split off. Everything that I had ‘known’ or was aware of, about myself, became unfamiliar.

A year ago, I was sat with my personal therapist. We were discussing meditation. I told her about how I enjoyed the body-scans but did not enjoy the visualisation and imaginative meditations that take you on a journey through destinations e.g. beaches, forests etc. She encouraged me to change my mind, encouraged me to try it again, one last time. I agreed. During the meditation, she brought me on a journey through a forest, to a cottage and to a book written about my life, which I was to read. I began reading, only to awake from the sensation of spiders crawling up the back of my neck. Of course, there were no spiders, just the unwelcome and alarming sensation. I was awoken and back in the room. We spoke briefly about whether my body, my unconscious mind, did not want to read the story. I couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t, after all, I was aware of my wounds, my story, and accepted them.

A few days had passed, and I was sitting in the last module of my college year. I had forgotten all about the meditation. We (myself and my college group) were discussing the games, activities and ways we played in our early childhood. We were remembering all the different toys we played with etc. It was at that moment I felt a sense of panic, an overwhelming feeling right in the pit of my stomach, an overwhelming feeling of shame and of guilt. A memory came flooding back to me, a memory which threw me off guard, caught me by surprise and made me feel vulnerable and afraid. A memory of my sexuality, an event. A memory of childhood sexual abuse, which occurred when I was eight years old.

A memory that my mind had forgotten, one that I had ‘repressed’ (Freud, 1915), A memory that was stored in the body, not accessible by the conscious mind. The memory was an emotional shock that split off part of my psyche and therapy succeeded in bringing these split off parts into conscious awareness.

My unconscious was conscious. I was experiencing an expansion of consciousness. Freud states that some events are too painful for individuals to acknowledge and are therefore ‘locked away in the unconscious mind’. This helped me to understand why I had ’forgotten’ an event that obviously had caused so much pain inside of me. To ‘forget’ the event was my defence mechanism to avoid the feelings associated with it. However, now that the memory is conscious I have realised and become aware of the unconscious ways in which the event influenced my judgements, feelings and behaviours. My mind had forgotten but my body stored these ‘implicit’ memories (Van Der Kolk, 2014) and these memories came to me through my felt sense and in lifelong symptoms.

What the mind has forgotten, the body remembers….’ (Sigmund Freud)

The unconscious mind is the primary source of human behaviour (Freud, 1915). My feelings of shame and guilt, my depression, the disconnection from my body and the lack of self-esteem and self-care has begun to make sense. These were my lifelong symptoms which occurred through my bodies remembrance of the traumatic experience. My body’s memories of the experience and the memory stored in my unconscious mind influenced my attitudes and behaviours. I have now become aware and have reached a level of understanding. I understand now that my feelings, decisions and behaviour had been strongly influenced by my past experience, and stored in my unconscious. My experience of sexual abuse has unconsciously lead to negative feelings about myself and the world, leading to depression, anxiety, self-harm, ‘acting out’ behaviours, bulimia and substance abuse. It had also influenced my decisions in engaging with and exposing myself to unsafe and dangerous situations. Perhaps it is also why I found it extremely difficult to cope with the negative behaviour from others, towards myself, in the form of bullying. I was bullied for my physical experience, my body, that I was already ashamed of, the body I had already felt disconnected to and guilty because of. My experience had brought about ‘emotional angst’, disembodiment and confusion. Disembodiment, overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt, and the setting and maintenance of boundaries were and are the result of my emotional shock and experience, and are probably the most lasting and negative responses. It explains why I feel inferior to others, why I feel constantly judged and afraid when speaking aloud in a group or crowd and why I feel triggered or become over responsive to touch or things I cannot control.

I live a life full of familiarities. I do not like the unknown or things that are not familiar. I try my hardest to dodge objects, people or places that may bring me harm or fear. I like to be in control, controlling every aspect of my life, my relationships, keeping myself and those close to me ‘safe’, to avoid pain and suffering, to avoid negative feelings and emotions, to avoid feeling vulnerable and afraid. I have developed anxiety, as a result from my past experiences. However, I am more aware now than ever before. I had found the missing piece of my jigsaw, the missing piece I needed to understand, to come to terms with, to accept and to feel closer to my ‘self’. The missing piece that would bring me closer to ‘wholeness’ (Jung, 1963).

Why is it then, that since my memory reached my consciousness, I feel wounded, vulnerable and exposed? I feel as though the powerful woman I have built over the past number of years, the identity I have created for myself, is being ripped apart and being laid out on the floor, like my psyche has been split all over again, needing to be rebuilt once more.

The only explanation I can think of, which I have been analysing and researching, is that the archetype I have associated myself with for so long has shifted and changed. Deep inside of me, there are aspects of my personality which have formed a self-image (Jung, 1944). What I am experiencing now, because of the shift in my memory, is a dissociation from the archetype I had created for myself and an association with another, a victim or a wounded child, one associated with pain and suffering. Perhaps the archetype I am currently experiencing is the same one I experienced during my younger years and early life, one full of shame and guilt. Carl Jung called this archetype ‘The Shadow’ (Jung, 1944). According to Jung, the powerful feelings of shame and guilt, as well as depression, are all ‘qualities’ of the shadow, which I have experienced and feel I am reexperiencing, to a certain extent.

According to Carl Jung, the experience was internalised to form an archetype, the shadow, and has therefore, built patterns at an unconscious level, forming my ‘internal working model’ (Bowlby, 1969). It has also influenced my patterns and behaviour, leading to an ‘avoidant’ attachment style in terms of my relationships with others.

Jung also believes that archetypes depend on the information supplied by the unconscious (Jung, 1967), that archetypes are resulted from information supplied from the environment. I believe this to be true, that how I internalised my experience, and my feelings of shame and guilt, was due to my own cultural context and society. Depending on the culture, the abuse that I experienced could be labelled as ‘normal, everyday occurrences’ or ‘wrong’ and ‘shameful’. Western culture, the culture I was brought up in, declares my sexual experience as wrong, as sexual abuse, as dangerous and immoral, and declares me as a victim. Therefore, I associate myself as a victim and I’ve bared the shame and guilt of my experience for years, because that is what my society, my culture, has taught me. I have grown up to believe that what I experienced was wrong and shameful, that I was no longer innocent, that I was harmed. The reaction from my father when I told him the part truth of what had happened that day proved to me that what had happened was wrong and immoral. It brought shame and it brought guilt. It brought lifelong symptoms of pain and suffering. My personality had been split off because my experience was unacceptable to society. I was ashamed of my body because society told me to be. I was ashamed and guilty of how I looked, physically, because my culture told me I needed to be.

When I visited Africa, I was exposed to a different culture to the one I had lived in. I was exposed to a culture that accepted my body, that accepted me, for who I was. I was not labelled. I was not bullied. I was not chanted at for looking different. There were no expectations I had to meet. I was me, I was free, I was content, and I was confident. I was powerful and I was whole. That is how I need to feel here, in my own culture, in my own society. I need to accept my wounds and allow them to heal, allow them to heal my soul and not be labelled as a victim. I need to not label myself as a victim. I need to stop this memory from leading me down a path of self-destruction and self-loathing. I need to become ‘the wounded healer’ (Dunne, 2015), to understand my brain and body, past and present, to adjust to a more relaxed and balanced sense of being. The sense of being I felt while in Africa.

I, myself, have an effect on how my wound manifests. I, myself, can choose whether my experience or my memory will be destructive or be empowering. I choose to let it be empowering. I am willing to face, consciously experience and go through my wound, to find its true blessing. It is only then, that I will allow my ‘self’ to be re-created (Jung, 1967). It is only then, that my old self will ‘die’, never to be the same, and the empowered part of self will be born (Jung, 1967). It is then that I will experience a deeper level of being, that I will open up a door to the archetypal realm and experience real ‘freedom of my being’, and a step towards ‘wholeness’ (Jung, 1944).

If I look at my wound as a global field of experience and an archetypal moment rather than feeling resentful and victimised, I can truly heal from it. It is then, that I’ll reach the archetypal form of ‘self’ and be able to heal others. It is then, that I can become ‘The Wounded Healer’ (Jung, 1944).

HOPE 🦋

An AMAZING story full of raw emotion & pain but it’s the HOPE that prevails. Thank you for sharing, you’re one Tough Cookie.

On my 22nd birthday, I was told I had multiple sclerosis. I hope you never hear those words. I hope no one ever hears those words, but that’s not real life. In real life, people hear these words & much worse words everyday. I believe that everyone gets something. Something that changes their whole life and if you could choose what this thing was going to be, what would YOU chooseI would choose MS again & again. It’s a cruel disease, that affects people in such varying degrees. But if everyone was to throw their problems in a pile, I would take my own back. Because at least this is familiar, this is mine. I have MS like no one else has MS. And there is so much worse out there, that other people are going through, whether you know about it or not.I have been really lucky with how it has affected me. In the beginning, I had blurry eyes, horrible balance, shaky hands. They have all become less and less over the years and except for the tiredness I feel really good. Somedays, I even forget I have MS.When I was first diagnosed, I remember being terrified that having MS would mean I might not be able to have children. All I wanted, all my life, was a family. Everything I had growing up. I wanted a husband, a home & babies. When I was young, it was a given that you would have those things. But in those terrifying few days in hospital, I felt all that begin to dissappear.I remember after being under bed rest for 3 weeks, I was so glad to finally be able to get away for a day. I went to Letterkenny & wandered around for hours, relishing the freedom. In Next, I noticed this tiny babygro hanging on its own. It caught my attention & as crazy as it sounds, I bought the babygro. In that moment, it symbolised my HOPE. That I couldn’t let the MS change me. That it could take my balance, my confidence and sometimes even my smile but it could never take my dreams. Six years later, it was the first thing my daughter wore. A few hours old in the hospital, my husband put it on her and it was nearly too big of a moment to take in. She is such a big miracle in such a little girl. It will never fit her again but weaved within its soft fabric is so much magic. I’ll keep it for her. I’ll tell her the story, how life can be hard sometimes but don’t give up hope.Eight years later & MS has left its scar, I will always have those extraordinarily tired days. And those hard memories of the terrifying, lonely, first months after diagnosis. But I have also had so many blessings. I now have the things I once prayed for. My husband & my daughter. They are my happy place & they keep me brave.

My Miracle 🙏🌟

A Wonderful Story of Faith and Prayer this morning and how it Transformed this Tough Cookie’s life. Thank you for sharing. 🙏🌟

I did not grow up with a strong faith foundation and due to difficulties in my family; my dad struggling with alcoholism, the concept of God as father was always hard to grasp. I am the eldest of five and unfortunately I was not a good example growing up to my other siblings, at least not during my teenage years. I did not respond well to the family situation at home and by the age of fifteen, I was expelled from secondary school and was spending most of my free time drinking and taking drugs. This chaotic lifestyle eventually got me in trouble with the law, to the point of a court case, wherein I was up for eleven charges. My solicitor told my family that a prison sentence was most likely.

In my desperation, I turned to God in prayer. Coincidentally, my Dad who had been sober for a few years through AA at this stage, had met a man there who introduced him to the rosary, and my dad began praying a decade a night for my conversion. This same man organizes and leads groups to Medjugorje on pilgrimage. My father begged him to bring me, and so he did, although with some apprehension due to my not so good reputation.

I did not know where I was going, and it was probably just as well. Looking back now, God had planned everything the way it needed to be. The first couple of days were rather fruitless, as I spent them mostly in the sun or in the pubs. However, on the third day, I felt impelled to climb apparition hill with the group, and I don’t know what happened but I came down that hill a different man. It is hard to articulate, but halfway through the rosary, which we were praying as we climbed, I felt Our Lady embrace me with a warmth and a love out of this world which broke through all my defences. I basically just fell in love with the Blessed Virgin. I returned to the sacraments in Medjugorje, on the eve of Divine mercy 2005.

Two weeks later, the time of my court case arrived. I was eighteen years old, which meant that I was on stand. However, whenever the judge asked me anything, the three gardai who were present in the courtroom, interrupted and demanded that I be sentenced without being heard. I have to admit, I feared the worst, despite the number of people praying for a successful hearing. Nevertheless, the power of those prayers became undeniable as the judge sent the three gardai out of the courtroom, so that she could hear what I had to say.

I just told her about my visit to Medjugorje, and how I believed that God would help me change my life around. She was obviously touched or maybe she had not heard this kind of resolve before. Either way, I received 200 hours community service, a curfew of 9pm for one year and a suspended sentence. I believed God seen the sincerity in my heart, and that he was my judge in the courtroom not her, and that she was just the instrument of his mercy.

It was the lifeline I needed and by grace of God I made a firm resolution to change and become a new man. I promised Our Lady a rosary every day, which I’m certain kept me on the straight and narrow. I started going to Knock shrine with my mother every Friday for period of time, which helped nurture a strong devotion in me towards the Eucharist.

Thereafter, I started working with my father who is a stone mason in construction. This was divinely orchestrated as it really helped heal my relationship with my dad. A few years later, I joined the legion of Mary, which brought my relationship with Our Lady to a whole new level, and also emboldened me to go out of myself and reach out to others.

Eventually, I felt the only way I could repay God for all the good received, was to lay down my life and enter the seminary to become a priest. I joined a religious order in the Philippines and lived there for almost four years. However, it wasn’t to be and after two years of poor health and then a tragedy in the family, I decided to come home.

I am back in Ireland a little over six years, and am now married to my amazing wife Emily, who is expecting our first child. Moreover, since I’ve been home I have been blessed to lead a number of youth groups to Medjugorje, and have been involved in other evangelization initiatives. None of this would have been possible without God. If one looks at my past, it’s quite clear that God’s touch transformed my life.

Seek first the kingdom and the rest will be added unto you.” This is my favourite scripture as I’ve discovered that you cannot outdo God in generosity. I realized the more I put God first and at the center, the more he blessed my life a hundredfold. God means everything to me, and it’s His great love that keeps pushing me to be better man. He’s my rock.

My Morning Meditation

How do you begin and end your day? Do you have some daily rituals and routines? Lately I haven’t been including them into my day, felt too busy and too stressed to take the ‘time out’. Well time does catch up on you and for me I began to feel burnt out.

This morning my alarm went off I hit snooze, it went off again and I was tempted to roll over but instead I focused my mind, didn’t allow it to take command and allowed my body and soul to talk to me. They wanted movement, I could hear them clearly and so I jumped up and took control.

What’s your body, mind and soul saying to you today? Is it that you need some rest? Some exercise? To take ten minutes out of your busy schedule for a cup of tea by the sea?!

I am beginning to try to take that time out each and every day for ME, to keep my mind, body and soul well. There must be a balance 🙌🏻⚖️

“How to you Begin & End Your Day?

Is it All Work with No Time for Play?

What does Your Body, Mind & Soul Say?

Which Way will You Sway Today?”

(Deirdre Ward)

The TIME is NOW 💪🏻🙌🏻⏰

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Time heals everything” or “With Time you will heal”

I’m not so sure I agree. 🤔

I would add “IF you WANT to Heal”

Nobody escapes pain and hurt in this life sadly. It can leave you feeling vulnerable, angry, frustrated, hopeless and a mixture of many more emotions. This week I realised for me very often emotions surface together eg. Happiness that is tinged with sadness, Sadness that follows Anger, Tiredness that seeps in after Determination. So very often we feel more than one emotion at a time. It can be really difficult to pinpoint what we feel then? Which do we feel more strongly? Which one is the ‘rootcause?

My advice is don’t get too het up on them, the important thing is to identify them, feel those emotions and acknowledge them. Try your best not to hide, suppress them or lock them away. I’m living proof that if you do that those painful emotions manifest in other ways throughout your body causing other problems and sickness. It’s better to try to allow them in even for a couple of seconds.

Yes I do FULLY agree that ‘Time is a Great Healer’ but time won’t heal YOU unless YOU want to heal you.

“Take Control

Begin Today

Those Unpleasant Feelings

You CAN Wash Away!”

(Deirdre Ward)