Easter, even if you’re not religious is a good time to reflect on what is meant by a good life and it can offer a hopefully useful answer: that success is not about worldly triumph, money or happiness but about developing an ability to use one’s own suffering as a route to compassion and hope for others.

Having started my blog over the Easter weekend, Good Friday always takes me back to the beginning of my long journey out of the depths of misery and despair after unexpectedly joining the world of single parenting. Perhaps it might be of use to anyone else going through a family trauma to know that over time, things can improve. My blog is TWELVE YEARS OLD TODAY and over the twelve Good Friday’s experienced in the process, I have fluctuated between “Bad Friday” and “Excellent Friday” with quite a lot in between.

This is what I wrote 12 Good Friday’s ago:-

GOOD FRIDAY 2007

I am trying to keep busy. This is my latest “what to do with myself whilst the children go away with their father” project. If I don’t keep busy, I tend to feel sorry for myself. If I feel sorry for myself I tend to do stupid things because I hate being on my own.

Having to let go of the children, both physically and mentally was, and still is excruciatingly painful. Today, I am trying to stop thinking about how many Easter Eggs they will be eating without me and whether they will be doing an Easter egg hunt. They leave tonight. I am deviously planning to let them eat their easter eggs early (obviously children from broken families benefit by getting 25 times as many eggs as children from nuclear families). Half an hour before they go on a four hour car journey in their father’s car should do the trick. This will be in lieu of travel sickness pills and I may also accidentally on purpose forget to pack the sick bags.

Only joking. But I am seriously going to have to find myself some projects. I can’t bear the thought of them going somewhere without me.

Pretty bad eh?

Then the next Good Friday was even worse so I called it “Bad Friday”. I was in a mess, in a dark place with not as many anchors as I needed to stop myself from falling off the edge of my life path. It was a defining moment, because I realised that I had to get a grip. Things were falling apart:-

“This is SO not Good Friday. This is Bad Friday. I am so ill. I have the worst hangover in the history of hangovers and I have been sick twice. In addition my lovely ex-sister-in-law is coming over to take me to casualty because I think I may have broken my ankle. This, for any of you who have been following my blog, is not my fault. It is a genetic problem that I can do nothing about, that involves drinking pints of disgusting pub white wine, falling over at some point on my way home and waking up wondering what on earth happened. My father did just the same thing only months ago and my two brothers do it frequently.

I am never drinking again.

I think I must have been Rohipnolled (is that a word yet?) because I have a very big blank in my memory. Which is a very dangerous place to be. Texted friend who was with me: “u hav 2 call me I’m dying” and told her that if I had actually died nobody would know for four days because my children are away. “Lucky you” she said – “at least you can luxuriate in your misery – I have to go and get a dead hamster out of it’s cage that has been eaten down to the bone by the other one and then console my inconsolable daughter”.

I am off to hospital now. Back later for on-going saga of drunken night out”.

So you see? Really not a good place to be.

Ten years down the line and I had moved on to what I called “Pretty Good Friday” and I wrote this:-

It’s been a really horrendous start to the year what with one thing and another but things are getting better and I have learnt to try and look at the good things, rather than worry about the bad. My children are around – firstborn is lying on the sofa after meeting mates for lunch, my daughter is doing her dissertation and my youngest one is off swimming. My mother arrives tomorrow and there are lots of fun things going on over the weekend with friends. I have stopped worrying about meeting a new man – mainly because I have enough in my life to keep me happy at the moment and perhaps it’s all about timing and stopping to smell the roses on the way. I have a fantastic family and great friends and focusing on those make me feel like I am not missing out on anything else.

And so today? Twelve years down the line? I would say that it is an “Extremely Good Friday.” My children are all in a good place, which means that I have allowed myself to feel the same way. I have one grown up child asleep upstairs with his girlfriend, another child not far away staying with a friend and my firstborn is in Lisbon for the long weekend with his girlfriend so I feel happy, happy, happy for lots of different reasons. On Sunday lots of family are coming over for lunch – including my mother who is sadly struggling after two operations on her spine in the last year, but I hope it at least lifts her spirit to be surrounded by her family.

Look at my happy, beautiful children!

Long may it last.

Off to make some Easter eggs now!

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