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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Friends, Family.....Forever?

I am a hopeless romantic and a kid at heart. I want life to be fair and for love to last forever! I am not ashamed to admit it and I think I will never change no matter how old I get. I think everyone deserves to be happy and I think everyone should be treated well and that we should all try to help people and people who don't  treat others well should get their just dues.



I often wonder what makes something, a relationship, last forever? We often think of expressions like "blood is thicker than water" but then I know that sometimes people sever ties with their blood relatives and form lasting relationships with friends that are stronger than the ones with family. Sometimes friends are fickle and only transient and other times a long standing friendship can no longer survive over what seems trivial.

As I said,  I am a hopeless romantic. I always have been from an early age and will die a hopeless romantic. I believe in fighting for the things you believe in and standing by people's in the toughest of times. I believe that living in hardship is better than living a superficial and shallow life that is based on dishonesty. I believe in giving everything for the people you love, sacrificing and putting yourself out. I believe in true love and soul mates and that sometimes it takes a lifetime to find that person and you may have a short time together but that is ultimately better than never having found them at all. I know we do not and can not live forever and that everything must one day end, but I still believe in that romantic notion of forever.

                                       
I look back at various relationships in my life and some have lasted and some have not. Usually the first relationship we ever have is the one we share with our mother. As an infant it is more often than not the mother who spends nearly all of her time with the baby, caring for them, holding them, talking to them, feeding them etc. I adored my mother and was fortunate to have a really good relationship with her. When I would dream of my future, my mother was always in the dream somewhere. Those dreams, like many, were never realised due to her premature death just after she had her 52nd birthday. She was gone, out of my life and no longer a part of my future; however, she is in my life forever.

The relationship I had with my father and sister was not quite the same and I would say that we went through some turbulent times. My sister and I were like most siblings who had their moments of cruelty and arguments, some of which turned physical. We also had times when we were friends and played together or hung out together. Unfortunately around the time that my mother's cancer was diagnosed the relationship between my mother and sister was not on very good terms largely because of the relationship my sister was in at the time. The strain was eventually felt within my relationship with my sister and eventually about a year or so after my mother passed I felt it necessary to stop having contact with her, but it did not last more than a year or two. Today we are such good and close sisters and though we hardly see each other due to the great geographical distance between us, we chat nearly every day on line and when those wonderful occasions happens that we are together we can talk endlessly and laugh randomly and infectiously like children!

                             

My father and I had more issues and we also severed our relationship and did not see each other or speak to each for about 7 years. Within that time was also the time that I decided to leave everything; my friends, sister, my belongings, my memories and my familiarity, to start something new somewhere else. My father also started a new life with a woman only a couple of years older than me. After my new life in London with a husband and a two year old child I decided to go back to L.A. for a visit but had no intentions of seeing my father, to me that relationship was damaged forever and it was gone forever. Upon my arrival at L.A.X with my very sleepy 2 year old snoozing in my arms I was greeting by my sister and her husband, a very good friend and unbeknownst to me, my father and my half sister who I had never met and was now was around 7 years old, were also waiting there for me at the airport. Years had passed, wounds had nearly healed and I was a mother now which all made my reaction to seeing my father there much more pleasant than I would have thought possible. When I was returning home from that visit and everyone said their goodbyes at the airport, my father whispered in my ear, "I'm sorry".  We started a fresh start and in the next 10-12 years we grew closer and closer until he came to stay with me and his three grandchildren when he died here only a month later. That was about 6 years ago now. Grandpa had became a part of our lives and I will remember him forever, in fact everything before that reunion and his new role as a grandfather are not as important as all the memories I have of him later in life. So with my father I experienced a time when I thought forever meant never having him in my life, to forever remembering those fond memories of him with my children and times spent together.

My friendship and other family relationships have been all over the show. Some relatives get weird as they age and think of who is there for them in terms of physical presence and practical help. They start to think of who will inherit and who will not. Sometimes relationships have been frayed because of the lack of honesty or commitment. Sometimes money interferes and damages  trust. Sometimes broken promises are too many and too often to withstand the test of time. Some people have showed that they are ultimately selfish and care more about themselves or being treated as the centre of attention to have the capacity to stay around "forever". Other friends and family understand that shit happens and life gets in the way and distance occurs but that the bond can not be lessened and time may pass and difficulties experienced but the relationship survives.

During my controlling marriage in a new country I did not have many opportunities to make friends and build relationships. In fact the couple of times that I did, there was fault found in them by my husband and he would never give me the freedom to have my own social life. As we already had a small child when we were married and no one to provide any childcare, if he went out then I obviously could not. It took me a very long time after we split up to build relationships and though I thought I had a few acquaintances that could grow into true friendships, these all these proved to be superficial and transient.

Even though the last 5 years have seen more social activity in my life, the strain of having all the problems with my son's serious drug/law/behaviour issues as well has financial strain and how this has all impeded on my daughter's lives has created a somewhat less than social butterfly mentality within me. A few friends have found it hard to understand and eventually there are more and more plans cancelled, lack of interest in making plans or sensitive feelings which makes me wonder how long they will last, since one or two friendships in the past year or two have ended completely.

I accept that feelings change and people do sometimes change as well, and that sometimes relationships do not last or their purpose is transitional. I have many good memories of people who have come and gone for a purpose or when one of us had to move on. I guess what I get annoyed about is that when people are less than honest about feelings or their current position or circumstances and then that creates so much fuss that did not need to happen. Sometimes we meet people who inevitably are false and though sometimes that can be obvious, other times it is not and when we learn the truth it hits us quite hard.

                                                  
 
My children have been hurt by each other and by family and friends. They have learned already that many relationships do not hold up under pressure. I can not predict whether the relationships between each of them will stand the test of time and if they will hold on to their love one day or forever, but I do hope that the pain they have felt will most definitely not last forever.

I may not have a large circle of family and friends, but some of the ones who are, actually most of the ones who are in that circle, I know that I will indeed love them forever. The one most definite thing in my life that will last forever in my life is me. I have to feel good about how I live and what I can do for my family and friends and others. I will remain my children's mother forever and one thing, no matter what, I can say with my head held up high that I am a good mother and I have absolutely no doubt that ALL of my children love me very much and if they hold on to my love and remember that even when I am gone, than I know I did something good that indeed will last forever.

So, as it is Mother's Day tomorrow here in the UK, I wish you all a Happy Mother's Day whether it will be tomorrow or next month! Take pride in knowing how much you are loved and that a mother's love is indeed forever!


                





Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Good and The Bad of It

Well, court hearing was a formality I guess and nothing more as it was referred to Crown Court. More waiting and then more worrying closer to the time. We will have to wait until June 9th and I have been told not to expect a resolution then , as the case will probably be "sent away for reports", meaning that my son will be assessed by parole officers and drug rehabilitation workers etc and their reports will go back to court.



I was pleased when our first hearing last Friday was to be heard at Magistrates Court since that is usually for lesser offences and lesser punishments; however, now we are going to Crown and there are two ways to look at it. First we can worry that the prosecution is playing up the seriousness of the case, the amount of time and money that was put into the investigation and therefore  the punishment should be severe, or we can view it in a way that since the Crown Court is where very serious crimes are heard i.e. murders, rapes, assaults, burglary etc, perhaps the judge will view this clearly as a less serious case and treat it as such.

For those who may not be familiar with the differences between the two types of courts, here is a link explaining about Crown Court:

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/you-and-the-judiciary/going-to-court/crown-court

To explain more about the magistrates here is another link that might be helpful:

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/you-and-the-judiciary/going-to-court/magistrates-court

There is little point in worrying about the differences between the courts, as it has been decided and so be it, Crown Crown it will be! My hope is still for the best possible outcome for my son, but now I also hope that I will not be called upon as a witness! In case some of you have not been following my blog that long, this all has to do with an incident in which I took a variety of chemicals to a drug clinic on the understanding that they would dispose of it safely for me. Things did not go according to plan and in the end there was a huge news item about a "chemical leak" and possible "drug manufacturing". Our home was over taken by police and we had to evacuate for two days while my son was in police custody. There  was indeed a large amount of chemicals removed from my home as well as drugs which resulted in the recent 9 charges brought against my son.

I wrote about it all in these blog entries:

http://livingwithmydrugabusingteenager.blogspot.co.uk/2013_10_01_archive.html

And also here:

http://livingwithmydrugabusingteenager.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/drug-crime-is-drama.html

Hopefully now everyone is up to speed and has a better understanding what all the fuss with the police and courts is all about.

We seem to be attracting interest from the press again, in the run up to the court hearing it was mentioned in the local news, radio, bbc teletxt, etc. While in court the press from our local paper was there and in fact even attempted to get a photo after we exited the court and after his failed attempt, the reporter followed my son and I around until we got to the town centre and lost him! I hope and pray that he did fail in getting a photograph of my son, because it will only serve as a trigger for more anxiety and anger from my son. I do not think he has realised that his name and where he now lives has already been publicised on the internet news! I have never revealed my son's name in my blog and the previous news items were always regarding a young teenage man...now it takes on a different atmosphere that will be too close for comfort for my son's liking!



Moving on though to some more positive aspects of the day.

Considering the early time we had to be in court (9:00 a.m.), I was pleased that my son was awake and managed to get nicely dressed in his shirt, tie and blazer along with the new trousers and shoes I had bought him earlier in the week, Though he was gently drinking his cider in the morning to calm his nerves, he did not get intoxicated nor did he take any drugs. We got to the court on time and there was no fuss from him at all, no irritability or lashing out. He listened and spoke to the solicitor and when it was time to stand up in front of the court, he was clear and articulate.

After he calmed down regarding the reporter outside, we spent the rest of the day together (about 6 hours including the court). We walked around, we looked in shops, I bought him his favourite Nando's chicken for lunch, took him to his flat to change and took him back into town. My son was not argumentative or defensive at all during the entire course of the day. Despite that we started off the day not knowing what the day will hold, it turned out to be some nice time spent together.



As a side not I will mention that his father did not turn up at court, though he had told our son earlier in the week that he would "try". He did phone later in the day and during the conversation asked our son, "Do you see much of your mother?"
How absurd! How does that man think our son with no money for a bus and a horrible track record of walking up on time and attending appointments on time, fathom that he would make it to the court on his own by 9 a.m.? I was glad to hear that my son said, "yes, she is here with me now". Later that day, and subsequently the next day as well, my son told me that if it were not for me he would have no one who would help him. What a sad realization for our son that his father never returned the police officer's phone calls during the original arrest and that he did not turn up to court either and when I suggest asking his father for help he says he knows he wont. However, it is also a very positive realization for my son that there is someone who will always be there for him and I hope that one day he will also understand why I made the decisions I did.

As my family may be slightly broken and our lives still not quite as we may like it, but at least I am teaching my children what it means to be a parent, what it means not to give up, what it means to believe tomorrow will be better and that there is always hope. My daughter may not have any desire to see her brother at the moment and indeed she thinks that will never change, but I hope that she is seeing that I am still trying to help him because I know he is worth it, as a mother who loves and believes in ALL her children. Hopefully she will also see that I made some decisions with her best interest at heart and that even now I respect her feelings even if it may make me sad. I hope all my children see how much we have all been through and we are still basically O.K., and despite all our struggles and all the heart ache and without any family besides us, we are not only surviving, we are thriving in some respects. My son is standing on his own two feet and he did not crumble. It has been three months since he is no longer at home and he has seen his circumstances change dramatically and often. Yet he is doing just fine even though he is facing so many difficult situations because of his addiction. We may not all be gathering around the family dinner table every Sunday, but my son and I do speak nearly every day and see each other quite regularly. My daughters are getting happier and more relaxed. My older daughter is excelling academically and her parent's evening was enough to make me cry with pride when I heard all the remarkable statements made by her teachers. (None of whom have any idea to the challenges she has faced at home). My youngest is always happy and a pure joy. I have trained to be a mentor and have also started my Facebook page for families of addiction, I will be speaking about my blog to a support group and I am growing as a writer through this blog. There have been some positive movement forward despite all the struggles and complexities and obstacles and having all the responsibilities on my shoulders alone.

                         

I am sure there will be many more hard times and difficult moments to get through and my son may go further downhill before he starts climbing up again. My family and home and troubles will still be here tomorrow but so is my love and my strength and my desire to make things better and my hope in a bright future for us all. I hope all of you can hold on and believe in your brighter future too!







Tuesday, 18 March 2014

We Are Broken Now, But Hopefully Not Forever

I am a mother and as a mother I can only speak from a mother's point of view, so I think that for most mothers when they imagine their children, they imagine them as a family unit forever. I do not think that any mother taking care of her babies and raising her children ever imagines that one day her family will be torn apart. We may wonder if our marriages will survive, we know are parents will pass away and life will change but we assume that our children will always be there and always be together.

          
               
To be a mother of three children and knowing that one child says that she will never ever want to repair things with her brother and does not want to see him or know about him ever again, is extremely painful to acknowledge. My daughter is also very annoyed and upset at the thought that her brother may not get a lengthy prison sentence, though she knows the pain I will endure if any prison sentence is given, this to me is shocking. I could not imagine not ever seeing my sisters again or wanting them to spend as long as possible in prison or suffering in any way! I have to remind myself that she is a teenager, and that with time this will possibly change.

My son is understandably very anxious about the court hearing on Friday and is very fearful of being sent to prison. He phoned up the other day and wanted to come by for a visit when his sisters were at home because he said that he wanted to see us all. I could imagine that in his head he was thinking that he would like to see them before he gets sent away! How hard was it for me to say, No. Even harder yet to try to explain to him that there has been a lot of damage done and that they do not want to see him. That same evening he was coming by for his bike and of course rather then taking it and being on his way he knocked at the door. "Can I come in?" "No." "When can I visit all of you?" "I don't know", "Can I use the toilet?", "No.", "Can I have some money?" "No." " I am cold, can I come in just to warm up?", "No.".....What an unimaginable conversation for a mother to contemplate let alone ever have with her first born child!


               

As parents we are realistic enough to know that our children will not always get along. We can imagine that one day they will not all live near home or even in the same state or even country. One thing we never imagine though, is that our children will never want to be, or in fact will never be, in the same room  or home together sharing a meal or a civilised visit! Even envisioning family arguments at Christmas time is a better alternative then imagining one of your children being excluded.

                          

Oh yes Christmas! Our last Christmas did see my son excluded from the family and how painful was that for me and surely for him. I had to exclude him then because of my daughter's increasing suicidal thoughts. Then when I did open my door and my heart and invited him here during Christmas (with my daughter upstairs in her room the entire time), it failed miserably because he proceeded to get high in his room! Now we are fast approaching Easter and I think to myself, "Where will my son be at Easter?" Will he be in prison and if not shouldn't he be part of the family and share in a meal at home, because that is what it should be, home. How do I separate my children and their lives and still feel like we are a family with a place that we can all call home?

                  

Maybe it is just a question of time, maybe it is too soon and the damage is still raw and painful. There has been little healing done at home because I feel "stuck" and in limbo. I find it difficult to move forward not knowing what the future will hold and in the meantime struggling with these thoughts of a broken family. My older daughter is just starting to show signs of improvement in her recovery towards a better and healthier life. Of course, the main obstacle is still my son's drug addiction and altered state of mind and disjointed memories. Until he seeks recovery and starts repairing himself, family relationships, especially with his sisters, can not be healed.

I find it very hard to believe that it has been three months since my son no longer lives here. I have yet to clean out his room and I find it very hard to think or plan for the future. Perhaps it is because of the ongoing uncertainty of his police investigation or perhaps it is because I feel unable to move forward until he is actually recovering? Well, if it is the latter I am screwed because I might have a very long wait ahead of me!

We all give up some of our own dreams as we grow up and live our life. We are in the process of living and shit happens, so when we are in our 40's we accept that  life is not quite what we imagined it would be when we were very young. However, the dreams we have for our children are often greater and more powerful than the dreams we had for ourselves. We want our children to grow up from generally happy childhoods with enough good memories to out weigh the bad ones. We want our children to get more of an education than we did, to have more opportunities then we did, to see more of the world than we did and to be happier and more successful than we were. When one or more of children's dreams are crushed and we see them living such a dramatically different life then we ever dreamed for them, well that is a very bitter pill for a mother to swallow.

I am of course speaking of the here and now and of course I am not that cynical or depressed to know that none of us know what the future holds and it may indeed turn out to be wonderful for all my children and I will feel happy and fulfilled. Yes, I still hope for brighter tomorrows and healed wounds and repaired relationships and new beginnings...but in the meantime I am dealing with what I have in front of me and my daily struggles because sometimes life is just about dealing with each moment as it comes.

                         


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Hospital, Drugs, Court and Sunny Sundays....Just a Normal Week!

A saga is defined as:  a long complicated series of related, usually negative events. Well it seems life for my family has been a saga!  Having experienced my son's drug problems and all the chaos it brought into our lives, as well as having police in my home on more than one occasion, the police investigation, making my first born child homeless, and now having had him in hospital for a grand mal seizure due to drugs or alcohol we are now faced with his charges and his court date. The saga is just that, a saga. That is just one part of our sage. Do sagas ever end though? If so, do they ever end well?

                           

My son was in hospital for 2 days after suffering a seizure at a "friend's" house and having had the paramedics take him to ER. According to my son this seizure was due to alcohol withdrawal. I am dubious whether it was indeed from alcohol withdrawal or from something else. I do not know if I will ever know. Sadly, I was not notified of my son's admission into the hospital until nearly 24 hours after his seizure. When my son was being discharged I offered to collect him from the hospital not only for his safety and well being but also to give me the opportunity to  speak to staff at the hospital for myself and ascertain what had happened to my son and what they advice. Unfortunately, even after spending 3 hours at the hospital I was unable to get any information at all!

Monday my son and I had contact. Tues I was meant to call him, but did not feel up to it. Tues evening he had a seizure. Wed I phoned, first time no answer, second time we spoke and he told me he was in hospital. Thursday I picked him up and took him for lunch and took him home. Friday I visited him and the post delivered his police charges. Today, I txted him twice, no response so a short phone call revealed he is fine and with his new "friends" and not at home. He is alive! I am tired! Life goes on.

I have always known that my son is compromising his health and his life, I am still so aware of it and now it seems to becoming more apparent to others and maybe even to himself. He knows he could have died, but it still did not make him want to stop. He has finally admitted to me that the last 3-4 years he has never been completely clean from everything...this I knew and I was always so annoyed when he said he was! He says he is always safe, but that is a false sense of security. He is back on the poppies and his "friends" are alcoholics and drug users using a variety of things but mainly the so called "legal highs", crack, heroin, prescription meds, morphine....The so called friend who he stays with often had the nerve to be txting me after I had found out my son was in hospital about how worried she is about him that he is going to die if he does not stop this and that needs to get into a recovery program. Hell-lo honey, I know that, thank you! Get yourself sorted too!

Now before I get into the mind frame of having a go at these so called "friends" (who have been brilliant, by the way, and done so much more for him than I have according to my son) lets move on to the next issue we are faced with : the police charges!

Now mind you, I have absolutely no experience with police investigations, charges, criminal court etc, so this is all new to me and I do not know how to react since I have nothing to compare it to. I do not know if the charges are excessive or not, it the type of court we are going to is good or not and I certainly have no idea what to expect in terms of the punishment the court will set for him. I am very much in the dark here as to how to react or gauge it all.

My son has been charged with 9 separate charges:


  • Production of a Class B drug Methaqualone
  • Possession of a Class B drug Amphetamine
  • Possession of a Class B drug Cannabis
  • Possession of a Class B drug JWH-018
  • Possession of a Class B drug JWH-073
  • Possession of a Calss B drug JWH-250
  • Possession of a Class A drug Acetylpsilocin
  • Possession of a Class A drug DMT
  • Possession of a Class C drug Medazepam (1 tablet)
                                                

Now I am sure many of you are not familiar with most of these drugs, my son is not your typically drug user. Most Americans will remember the term Quaaludes, that is the first on the list. The JWH drugs are the so called "Legal Highs" that use to be legal but are no longer legal! They are synthetic forms of cannabinoids used for smoking.

If anyone is interested in more information one these here are some links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JWH-018

http://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=86290

https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/spice_product/spice_product_law.shtml

Next on the list is Acetylpsilocin, that is a synthetic pschoatic drug.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O-Acetylpsilocin

https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/4_acetoxy_dmt/4_acetoxy_dmt.shtml

DMT is similar and is:  "N,N-Dimethyltryptamine is a psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. When ingested, DMT acts as an intense hallucinogenic drug." 

http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showwiki.php?title=DMT


                                   

The last on the list is actually quite humorous in that it is one pill, one lousy pill! It is according to Wikipedia:

Medazepam is a drug that is a benzodiazepine derivative. It possesses anxiolyticanticonvulsantsedative, and skeletal muscle relaxant properties.
It is known by the following brand names: NobriumRudotelRaporanAnsilan and Mezapam.[1] Medazepam is a long-acting benzodiazepine drug. The half-life of medazepam is 36 – 200 hours.

So, these are the charges. Court is in two weeks, March 21 at 9:00 am at the Magistrates court, not Crown Court, which from what I can tell can possibly be a good thing.

magistrates' court is a lower court, where all the criminal proceedings start. Also some civil matters are decided here, namely family proceedings. They have been streamlined to swiftly and cheaply deliver justice. There are over 360 magistrates' courts in England and Wales.
Summary offences are smaller crimes, that can be punished under the magistrates' court's limited sentencing powers – community sentences, fines, short custodial sentences. Indictable offences, on the other hand, are serious crimes (rape, murder); if an initial hearing at the magistrates' court finds there is a case to answer, they are committed to (passed on to) the Crown Court, which has a much wider range of punishment. Either-way offences will ultimately fall into one of the previous categories depending on how serious the particular crime in question is.
Cases are heard by a district judge (magistrates' courts) or by a bench of three magistrates (lay judges); there is no jury at a magistrates' court. Criminal cases are usually (although not exclusively) investigated by the police and then prosecuted at the court by the Crown Prosecution Service. The defendant may hire a solicitor (or barrister) to represent him, often paid for by the state.
There are magistrates' courts in other common-law jurisdictions.

                   

Of course my son is now wishing he would have died when he had the seizure because he is certain they will send him to prison, I still cling on to the hope that they will not. I am hoping for a DRR (drug rehabilitation requirement) though it would be forced upon him and not his choice, it may serve him some good, though I know that many people reading this may believe that prison would do him some good.

So life carries on, my son is living his life and living it on his own now but I am still very much a part of his life and worry. I live my life with my perfected smile to the outside world and try to make plans for the future and take care of myself and my daughters. I do the things I need to do, sometimes still burying my head in the sand and procrastinating but never the less I try.

I hope for a better tomorrow, that is my hope every day. I want nothing more for my son to be healthy and safe and recovering,  living a different life. I hope that my girls will not follow our family and will not create their own sagas, I want them to set themselves free of our dysfunctions and our negative learned behaviours and be self confidant and positive in their successful lives. I also hope for some happy carefree days for myself before I get too old!

Tomorrow I shall make phone calls and try to get as much advise as possible for court and talk to my son in the upcoming days until court to try to keep him positive and as sober as possible. I will take him shopping for clothes and shoes to look presentable in court. I will support him as much as I can and continue to hope for the most positive outcome that a situation like this can have.

                   

However, today is Sunday and the sun if finally shining and there are no clouds in the sky and the temperatures are slightly higher. I will go for a nice long walk with my two wonderful and beautiful daughters, not thinking about what is wrong or lacking in my life but rather focusing on what is right. I will cook a delicious Sunday meal, this time some good old fashioned Hungarian comfort food instead of a roast and I will sit at the table with my girls and we will eat and I will drink a glass of wine and we will laugh and be as merry as we can be!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Soul Food

Yesterday I was cooking my son's favourite meal, without my son here to enjoy it. My daughters were delighted since it has been several months since I cooked this meal, and it is one that they enjoy too. When they expressed their glee, I had to keep my emotions balanced, "yes, it is sad that my son is not enjoying this food, and as much as that brings me sorrow, I must not let that over shadow the fact that this meal has brought joy to my daughters".



Food and meal times are an amazing part of life that do so much more than give us sustenance to stay alive. It evokes emotions and memories. It heightens our senses of not only taste, but sight and smell and touch. It can also be very symbolic in many ways, as simply as when you prepare someone's favourite meal, it symbolises the love you offer to them.

When family dynamics are dysfunctional and there are tensions in the household, many aspects of family life are affected, but particularly mealtimes. So much of our social learning takes place at mealtimes that can be very hard to unlearn later in life. For example, my ex husband was raised in a family in which talking at dinner was not the done thing. Children ate their food and remained quiet. Later when the family had a tv in the kitchen, the entire family remained quiet while they "watched" tv during meals. My ex husband found it extremely difficult to partake in polite conversation around the table, particularly when it was just us at home. The only time this would change is when there was alcohol involved in the meal, and since we did not drink at dinner with the kids, because it was more often part of celebrations, entertaining or going out, most of our family mealtimes were very quiet (except for the children being scolded for their behaviour).

Anyone knows that when there is any friction between people,  even if it is short term from a bad day for example, it is very difficult to sit down and enjoy a meal together, and in fact you can't even digest properly! Well, when a family is dealing with ongoing and long term dysfunction, chaos or turmoil meals are a chore, a necessity that is dreaded and thoroughly unenjoyable.

I LOVE to cook and I LOVE food! I am, I have been told, a very good cook. To cook for my family was something that brought me joy; however, in controlling relationships even having dinner when your partner comes home can be cause for complaint. Whenever I tell the story of when my ex husband and I attended marriage counselling sessions and in one session my then husband complained that I have a home cooked dinner ready when he comes home from work and he does not like this, well most people just laugh! It took the control away you see, he argued that sometimes he does not want to have dinner when he comes home, maybe it is a nice evening and he would rather go for a walk or perhaps he has come home with work to do and would like to go into his study and finish work before dinner. How dare I control something as simple as meal times. The selfishness of his comment did not get past our therapist, who immediately had to remind him that we had three children and therefore routine and family meals are essential. Still, I should not be so bold!

Then my son, who only had his father as a male role model, began a few years ago to repeat some of the control around meal times. Despite his youngest sister being 10 years younger then him and therefore having to eat and go to bed much earlier than him, he insisted on having dinner later and later. Back then when it started I would do anything to "keep the peace" and I made dinner later and later, of course when I realised that I was only enabling his controlling behaviour and started to stand my ground,  the pattern was already firmly embedded. I would make dinner when I wanted and then my son would keep us waiting 10-20-30 minutes or maybe even more. Eventually with time and many spoilt dinners later, we no longer waited for him. Eventually we stopped eating at the table all together, not only because of the control my son tried to have around meals but also because most of the times he would come to dinner completely stoned (to help give him an appetite!) and I could not eat while seeing him that way. We often had arguments at the table and no one enjoyed the experience yet the interesting thing is that though our son learned ways to try to control me and things such as meals, he did not emulate his role model with the "silence is preferred at meals" idea and would come down expecting and wanting to have dinner conversation. I would often be feeling anger toward him for "ruining" dinner, but simultaneously I would feel sorry for him because he wanted to act like a normal family and talk, yet no one wanted to talk because we were so angry at his behaviour and resented it as well.

                         

My love for food and for cooking virtually disappeared. My son would also criticise my cooking, finding any small fault he could. Sometimes he would be so patronising and opinionated that I would take my plate up to my room to eat. His control, now looking back, was so strong, yet he was my son.

So, food and meals can also be a powerful time to evoke power and control in an unbalanced dysfunctional relationship. This is something that has now been eliminated from our family home. One of the things my daughters and I now do since it is just the three of us, is come up with a weekly menu, each of us having our choice of dishes twice in the week and then Sunday is roast day! This was decided as part of our plan to start rebuilding a more normal family environment. We sit around the table and we listen to music and we enjoy our meal, though dinner conversation is something my children still struggle a little bit with. The environment is so much more relaxed and the meals are prepared with more time and forethought, it has been the most successful part of our rebuilding so far.

Food also provides comfort and my youngest seems to be indulging in this comfort and enjoying the dinners so very much that she has in fact put on some weight! She nearly always includes  our "lovely dinner" in her grateful book as well! Food seems to bringing her some much needed normalcy and enjoyment and it is a big part of her day, a part she now looks forward to rather then not knowing when and what is for dinner until the last minute and then the uncomfortable experience of eating it!

My visits with my son also involve food in one way or another. Taking him to eat, taking him shopping, discussing what he eats etc..Then that disastrous visit on his birthday when I brought him his favourite cake, it was for me a real gesture of my love for him and it symbolised not only my love but also that I remember all his birthdays with fondness and of course the cake is always a central part of birthdays. When he did not seemed pleased with the cake and criticised me for giving it to him, it was more than just about the cake, and it hurt me. I often wonder if he even ate the cake, or did it end up sitting there and eventually in the bin?

My son no longer has the privilege to be so particular about what he eats and I think that is a good experience for him. I hope that when he is in the situation that someone has prepared him a nice meal, he will be much more appreciative then he was during our difficult years at home. Eating well is also something that is not available to everyone and this too is a lesson my son is now learning. He is eating things he would have never dreamed of before!

We want to heal and comfort or express our love and affection through food. We want to give the people we love an enjoyable experience of tasting wonderful things, we want to help less fortunate people by offering them food, we want to cheer up our loved ones with special treats. We want to make our friends or family feel better when ill by offering them a bowl of chicken soup!

Months ago, my friend in the States sent us a wonderful gift of fruits and vegetables to help us, cheer us up and perhaps help bond us together again as a family with yumminess! It was such a heartfelt gesture and my kids were awe struck and it was so exciting and wonderful! She sent us a few of those boxes and it was magic every time. When my son left our home on his way toward the unknown of homelessness, I packed him up a big bag of food as if that would somehow keep him safe! When my aunt in Hungary sends us a package for birthday or Christmas, she always puts something edible in it that will excite us by bringing back memories of eating something we can only get in Hungary and we are transformed back there with the first bite we take! We remember, the food, the people, the love, the warmth, the memories! Food can do some wonderful things, and it most definitely is good for the soul!