The sun is streaming in and I have been sitting here thinking back to the time when I first got to know you.
That was such a difficult time for you wasn't it and yet you had been actively looking for help for so long. You had read and rread. You had taken your child to so many appointments but as the years had gone past your child had got bigger and the meltdowns had got more and more intense and actually it was becoming quite frightening.
All those appointments and yet you still didn't understand what was happening and how to help. It was particularly hard because you were an experienced professional and it felt to you as if you should know what to do - it felt to you as if others were looking on and judging. And indeed perhaps some of them were.
The thing was your child could be so delightful and gorgeous - interested and interesting - you felt so much love - but the line was so fine and the unpredictably so intense. You had developed a way of treading on eggshells - hoping hoping to not say or do the wrong thing that would trigger an explosion off.
No wonder you were exhausted - you cared so much and were so competent elsewhere but at home things were different - and often felt very out of control.
However what to do and where to go? Your sleep was affected - in fact no one was sleeping well in your family and certainly not your child
Your appetite was affected and you had all gone to your GP several times hoping for some medication solutions that could help make a difference to how awful you were feeling. Living in dread and living with a sense of despair and constant worry about what might happen next.
Various professionals had suggested various diagnoses and you had read as much as you could about each one but somehow none of them took you much further
Just that FOG, that dread - those intense moments when the meltdowns happened again and you saw your child doing frightening things and then sometimes found yourself doing and saying things that were not like you - in fact not like you at all - yet in the moment it could all happen so fast.
You just wanted things to be 'normal' - just to have a few ordinary days that didn't feel like a battle
Yet - there would have been many people who would not have seen this side of you - as to many others you were a confident kind skilled and self-composed person.
So there was something about this relationship with your child that was really challenging and really hard to describe.
You were very stressed weren't you. And though it was hard to see it at the time, so was your child.
This was the FOG.
In I Matter we describe the fog as being that state where it is very difficult to think and where there are intense interpersonal red route loops going on.
It starts to become very interesting when you can step back and get a distance but the FOG does not feel nice at all
What a relief that those dark hopeless days are now past.
What a relief that you can now see more clearly.
You hung in there Uma because you were determined to find a way through and it has been my privilege to be part of the process of helping you find a way out of the FOG.
And you did find a way through and now you are out there enjoying your relationship with your child and sharing your learning with others
Helping make a difference one relationship at a time
Imagine what a different place the world could be if we could help more people find their way out of the relationship fog
Lets keep thinking about how to do that
Have a good weekend!
It has undoutedly taken me longer to get to know youa as in this wider world of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and families there is still such an overdominance of women . I know I don't need to tell YOU that! Yet over the years of my practice I have seen that when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of children men have an absolutely key role to play but they are too often undrerrepresented in the discussions.
So one of the reasons I love working with you Stan is that you are a really committed hard working and caring man who has been clear enough and strong enough to insist that you do want to be actively involved with your child and with children in spite of the fact that finding other men who are active in that caring world can be more challenging. You are someone who knows that relationships are important. Being involved can present some challenges for you but you have hung in there undaunted by all those female companions and I for one really appreciate that you have.
Relationships are pretty complicated though aren't they! They are not something we learn much about until we are right in the middle of them wondering what exactly is happening. It is surprising really that there isn't more around to help us understand what makes good relationships work. Relationship education seems to be reduced to those rather uncomfortable school conversations about sex or we can find ourselves turning to the internet and what we learn there or from soaps and crime thrillers about relationships can sometimes all add up to a pretty sad picture.
Perhaps one of the truths about good relationships is that they take up quite a lot of time - learning to trust another person depends on learning to trust ourselves and so navigating those moments when things don't appear to be working well at all is all part of it. So when I first got to know you it was clear that there were also some challenges in her relationship with your partner. You were a bit cautious about this I Matter stuff but I sensed you were ready to contribute if it wasn't too weird and didn't take up TOO much time.
I am so glad that you did decide to take part (as not all partners do take part) yet as several years later it has been great to see how working together to help your child has really deepened your relationship. In fact it is one of the great privileges of my work that I get to see the impact of I Matter Framework Training not just on the health of adult-child relationships, but also on adult-self relationships and on adult-adult relationships. How good it is to see you now on that more hopeful path too as I know full well how tough it was for you too at times.
As we go forward I am keen to find a way to make I Matter accessible to more men Nonetheless II did laugh the other day when at our first focus group meeting of the I Matter community wheel you explained to me that really what you wanted from a social group of other men was acceptance and just hanging out at the bar and talking about sh+++e,
With thanks for your commitment!
I know that your time is precious, and that the world you live in is busy. It’s busy for so many of us. So I want to start this letter first of all by saying thank you for agreeing to me to being here in your inbox and thank you for taking the time to read what I want to share and for allowing us to be connected, using the modern wonders of email. I have mixed feelings about technology and its place in our modern world, especially when it comes to our children, but nonetheless it is a wonderful way to bring together information, people and make things happen.
This is a letter to celebrate and appreciate you and your importance in the world of our children's mental health and wellbeing. I have decided that I am going to write a good old fashioned letter, every week for 52 weeks, to help us grow as a community and to allow ideas and actions to converge.
I concocted this idea because I was challenged during a recent I Matter board meeting with the question “How are we consistently sharing our message and news with our community?” My instant response was “I don’t want to bother people. People are very busy.” The response back to me - from the I Matter team was one of shock. They reminded me that people who are signed up to receive updates from I Matter WANT to hear about what we are doing, want to receive refreshed information and want to continue their own learning journey. I guess I had not remembered that!
So Debbie, you are an “avatar” for our perfect I Matter ambassador.
The word “avatar” is used in the digital world to describe a person who is the 'ideal client' for that business or charity or venture. Seven years ago I hadn't heard that term and I didn't know what it was but slowly I have been learning how important it is and in the process I have been getting to know you intimately - and me. Because of course, I am also an avatar for I Matter.
I have travelled a long journey that has produced the I Matter Framework and I Matter Training because back when I started I wanted the tools and the processes and the support to do my job better and to parent better and to be a wiser human being. Back then and at points on the way, I quite often felt rather lost. However in this unfolding process, the better I have come to know you - and hence me too - the more privileged I have felt to be sharing this I Matter Journey with you.
I know that you care deeply about children’s mental health and wellbeing. You’re passionate about what you do, and, sometimes against the odds, you continue to believe that we can change the situations we find ourselves in and make a positive difference in a world that can feel full of so much injustice and unhappiness.
What I particularly love about working with you Debbie is that you are a person who combines many talents. You move seamlessly between being so skilled in your work role with all its formal responsibilities - and its contrasts - to the somewhat fraught and messy realities of everyday family life. You are a deeply loving person who also somehow manages to extract more hours from the day than really exist. You work so hard and help so many people and you give your all, as much as you can, to help those people feel cared for.
Yet when I first met you you were on the search for something robust but also practical that could help you straddle both your professional and your parenting role. You wanted that because at that time you were feeling overwhelmed, confused, very frazzled and weary. Do you remember the confusion and the Fog of those times? - How very thick it was back then? It is great to see you so much happier and more confident as in I Matter Speak that is what 'the Direction of Travel' is all about.
And this is why I’ve decided to write a letter to you more regularly, to help us keep travelling on together, navigating this rocky road, adjusting our backpacks as we go, weathering the inevitable storms. We have now shared so much together that I feel it could be really exciting - a way to get clearer on the impact and contribution that we make, individually and collectively. We can talk about what we have learned together and what we continue to learn on the way towards brighter clearer skies.
I hope you’ll stay on this journey with me.and thank you for your belief that we can work together to make a difference and thank you for being here on the I Matter map.