Bring home the importance of strong networks




One of the evidence-based sign that someone’s recovery journey is sustainable is having a good social network and strong family network.  A few things in the last couple of weeks have brought this home to me.  Firstly having a girlfriend I can occasionally travel with to explore mutual interests like New Grange led to a very energising weekend in Ireland, which made me feel 20 years younger, it also left me longing to see old friends.  Last Friday I drove down from the island in one go with Rory and Francesca to Gloucestershire to visit my parents.  The kids were great considering we had all got up at 5am to catch the early ferry and didn’t arrive in until 9.15pm.  Saturday I went to Cheltenham and old haunt and met up with my daughter Alex and her boyfriend Matt, it was lovely to see her happy.  I left them to go to my oldest wisest friend in Gloucester Terry and her partner Simon and 2 other close friends Toby & Sue.  Its over 2 years since I have seen them but it was just like fitting on an old comfortable glove it made me realise how much good friendship is worth as we sat reminiscing, arguing and debating around the dinner table.  Two years apart just faded into the background and I felt I was living around the corner again.  Friendship helps me keep that sense of who am I?  My values and my journey through life so far.  

Yesterday was special for the first time for a few years my brother, sister and me were in one place sharing lunch.  I had brought down with me one of our own pork roasting joints.  some of our kids were there happily playing together and as is usual with families, we adults had started arguing over politics, values etc, it ended amicably but also gave me that sense of how like and how different I am from my family.  I love to see them and be with them, but I am also glad that I live far enough away in order to keep my own identity.

Recently in training I had 2 workers from Kerala, they were lovely people and we were discussing the importance of having a strong extended family, but they also pointed out that this led them to have much less freedom to be themselves as respect for their elders and belief in this model of caring for each other, meant they as individuals had to give up much of their individuality.  Although I long for the return of the extended family in western culture, I actually probably enjoy more the freedom I have to be different than my family.  I also passionately believe that children once they reach 18 need to leave home and grow up, take risks and learn what living is all about.  I am proud of my 2 eldest children as I watch them take those leaps into adulthood, they are always on the end of the phone but have the freedom to explore who they want to be without me breathing down their necks.  I must admit though Facebook is an interesting way of keeping tags on them!