Closure

If you have read my book or have followed my blog you will be aware of the destructive nature of the relationship between my dad and I. I have often wondered what happened to him,

We were tied only by anger. And when I left home at 15 the toll of the abuse from him had infected me with the same spirit of anger that he had carried with him since his own horrendous childhood. He suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of his father. There was a sickness in his family that led to anger and addiction. I hated my dad more than anything. It was anger I fought to suppress and it led me to seek relief. Alcoholism became my path. Filled with shame, frustration and anger from my own abuse as a child. I never saw my father again apart from a brief encounter in a pub when I was 18.

I was 36 when I finally found permanent sobriety. I had reached a point that I had to let go of the hate towards him. He was a sick man that sadly became a father to two boys. He was ill equipped to mentally deal with fatherhood. Neither brother or I were planned and we both suffered from his inability to deal with his own abuse and poor mental health. I forgave him, simply by not hating him, I had to, otherwise I would have gone out by way of alcoholism or suicide. My life had to change. The anger carried through generations of his family had to stop with me. And it did.

I hoped that he would one day know peace. That he would overcome his anger and addictions but for a man with such a dark past, that hope was slim.

Now I finally discovered what happened to him. My wife found his death certificate online. He died from a ruptured aneurysm. Internal bleeding killed him on Christmas eve in 2003. He was 56 years old. His lifestyle of anger, addiction and alcohol abuse took him out in the end. It’s brought closure, it’s also raised a few emotions. If anything I feel sadness. No child should suffer abuse and trauma. It set’s off a tragic life of damage and pain that many never fully recover from.

I thank God with all my heart for releasing me of my anger. For giving me all I need to be a kind loving man. To be of use to those still locked in the darkness of trauma and anger. It’s been a painful journey but there is a lot of love in my life. And my children will know only love and patience from me. It feels like a chapter in my life has now closed and its time to move forward with the family I have been entrusted with.

A father’s strength

Becoming a dad is the beginning of a turbulent journey. One that will bring stress, love and joy in turn. Being a father takes a certain mindset that when committed to can help a family trive. The saying is true, ‘there is no manual’ and many men, like myself, were thrown in at the deep end with no real warning. It literally becomes a case of sink or swim.

I believe the biggest hurdle in parenting is stress. Woman go through their own emotional struggles as they adjust mentally and physically to new motherhood. Whereas we men face our own pressures. And if you can find a way to meet stress in a way that you build resilience to it, fatherhood becomes a whole new journey.

There needs to be a solid foundation on which a healthy family can be built. A spirit of patience and love at the centre of a home can create an environment in which the whole family can thrive. Meeting stressful daily events with intolerance and resentment only fragments relationships and builds more tension.

Most of what I have learned about fatherhood has been taken from the broken down relationship with my own dad. I know the type of parent I don’t want to be. My children will be raised in a loving home with open communication, love and support. Discipline especially must come from a spirit of love. Anger only fuels anger

Men must bring a level of stability and calm to a home and I didn’t always get it right. My wife was a stay at home parent when the triplets came home. She was dealing with hard days when I returned to work, it was a massive undertaking. She was also breastfeeding which required that she stayed calm and relatively stress free. It took me a few months to adjust myself. I became resentful and overwhelmed in the beginning, fuelled by exhaustion and stress I sank mentally for a while. It was tough going with 3 babies all in need of attention.

But thankfully I snapped out of my negativity. I had to. I didn’t want to be the dad that couldn’t handle the situation. Beaten down by stress and frustration I was only creating problems under my roof. I knew the problem and also knew the solution. Anger had pierced me and I had to become free from it.

No man likes to admit they have an anger problem. I certainly didn’t. But as much as I was suppressing it I couldn’t escape it. I resented that I couldn’t get enough sleep, I resented the feelings of separation I felt. My mother in law moved into help and I really felt like I was on the outside looking in. It was all knew to me and I wasn’t one hundred percent sure as to what I was doing. I was beginning to feel like a loose end. Instead of being grateful for the help we had, I resented it.

My new reality was something I had to get a grip of. If I couldn’t deal with the pressures of early parenting my life was going to get one hell of a lot harder. My family needed me emotionally and  spiritually present. I had to do more than just go through the motions of work and home-life each day.

The real problem I had was resentment. It was clouding my judgment and adding tension to an already difficult situation. I was like a zombie, stumbling unconsciously through my days and drowning in self pity under the surface. I had to wake up! And one way to spiritually awaken is through non contemplative meditation. And it took me just days to get back into the stream of life when I realised something had to give.

A fathers strength lies in his ability to practice patience and tolerance in the face of adversity. Free from anger and with a protection against stress, life became manageable once more. I had more energy as I wasn’t burning myself out trying to constantly manage my emotions and trying to control everything. My erratic emotions naturally regulated as a result of meditation. In waking up I found my role at home and began to enjoy fatherhood. Tensions also lifted and even though tiring, home-life became one of love.

I was able to feel a part of the journey for the first time since they were born. And I continue to meditate daily and be the man my family needs. All it takes is for me to be awake. And whilst in that conscious state I find all I need just comes. I now intuitively deal with life without struggling. Problems are just opportunity’s for growth and there’s no shortage of those.

Here’s the link to the free, non religious meditation exercise that I use.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Happy 5th

5 years ago on the 4th of July our triplets were born by C-section, exactly 2 minutes apart. Ava, Lacey and little Blakely came into the world screaming to bob Marleys ‘3 little birds’. It was a surreal day, and a miracle they made it all healthy through a high risk pregnancy.

Ava

And so began our journey as a family. And for me, my first experience as a biological dad doing the baby deal. And boy was I in for a shock. Exhaustion hit me hard, as it did with Stacey who had planned on, and began breastfeeding the trio.

Lacey

I struggled through the first 6 months as best I could and eventually thing’s got a little easier. When the girls began sleeping through the night and I got some rest, for the first time in a while my sanity returned. And as the girls grew and developed we also faced new challenges.

Blakely

This last 5 years has shot by. It’s hard to believe we have come so far and are still together as a family. It’s no secret that raising multiples is hard going at times. The girls are relentless in their energy and stress us both out but Stacey and I are good at communicating and discussing any problems as we go along.

It’s also no secret that I am a very proud dad and have committed completely to my role. I love being a father, even though the pressures and challenges we continue to face can wear me out, I still manage to practice patience and tolerance. I am convinced and have been from the start of my journey into fatherhood, that love, and the stability it brings, is the most important thing I can contribute to my family.

The gang

Bullies

As someone who has worked with men and women with anger problems, I understand the cause. I know how bullies operate and why they seek to transfer their anger and fear onto others. It is a spiritual cause, passed on during childhood. They are under the spell of resentment. It has infected them like a virus and they are unable to control their sick behaviours.

I was bullied as a child. Picked on and beaten up on occasion by older kids than me. I was too afraid to fight back. As a family we moved every year or two and as a result I was always the new boy. I was an easy target. Especially before I began high school. I grew angry and resentful. I also had learning difficulties which led me to have special needs classes which was just more ammo for those looking to harm me. In short I hated bullies and I hated school.

I think it’s every parents worst nightmare that their child be bullied. And for us it’s now become a reality.

The worst thing is how helpless we feel as parents. Stacey has been non-stop on the phone to the school. It got to the point where the police got involved. Even though action has been taken towards the girls involved, my daughter has been that affected that she’s had a full on panic attack. The bullies have used personal information about her biological dad to taunt her. They have gone well below the belt.

It’s hard not to feel anger, my initial response was to go and speak to the parents but I was talked out of it by Stacey and Frankie. It would have only made matters worse.

As a dad it’s my job to protect my children, but when they go to school I can’t do that. They are at the hands of the school. The most I can do is keep talking to her, to make sure she doesn’t begin to bottle up her emotions, suppression is dangerous in the long run. I can also show her how to get free from anxiety and deal with stress through meditation. I don’t want her to have to suffer as I did. My anger as a child caused me to struggle with my mental health for most of my life. My alcoholism was a result of suppressed resentment as was my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.

It’s now just a case of seeing how it goes going forward. The girls involved have been reprimanded and the school are fully aware of the situation. No child should have to live under the threat of violence or take personal attacks. At school or at home.

On father’s day

It’s only natural that on father’s day I think about my dad and the lack of a relationship I had with him. There was a time I couldn’t mention him without feeling rising anger and fear.

He was an addict. Prescribed morphine twisted his mind along with anger from his sick upbringing. He abused alcohol and gambled, he had an obvious disliking for me that caused me to fear and resent. He grew up around sexual abuse and violence. He never wanted children. My brother and I were both accidents that he resented deeply.

My own abuse as a child was difficult to live with. I developed mental health problems as a result, and the anger I felt towards him just fuelled alcohol abuse from a young age. I blamed him for all my failings in life. My suppressed hatred almost destroyed me from the inside out. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder later in life. A behavioral disorder caused by trauma. His anger had become mine.

Becoming a dad was an opportunity to be a better man for my children

When I got sober I had to address, and face, my resentments. When I did I began to see him from a different angle. He was destroyed as a child. His father was a real bad man. My dad grew up without any loving guidance. He just grew up with deep emotional trauma and an inability to deal with stress. His addictions were his escapes, and he didn’t have the tools to be a stability in our lives.

I had taken the same path down a road of suppressed anger and addiction. Mental illness affected me as it had him. He was sick, and staying angry at a man who couldn’t control his anger was just insane. When I looked at the damaged life I had lived as a chronic alcoholic I had to give up my judgment. I had to let go of my anger.

I feel no more ill will towards him anymore. I was saved from my anger through an act of grace. I was eighteen the last time I saw him and he was in bad shape. My hope is that one day he discovered his own peace. Just as I had. And I give thanks to God that I was freed from anger before I became a dad myself. My children will know only love from me.

Becoming a dad was a big deal for me. It was a chance to be the man I always wanted to be as a father. I take my role very seriously, to be a dad is an honour. To be trusted with the life of another human being is the greatest responsibility I will ever have. And love and tolerance are principles I practice under my roof.

So, happy fathers day to all of you men reading this. Be the pillar of love and stability your children need and enjoy this day of recognition. X

A triplet dad – how do I do it?

I get asked a lot by other men how the heck I do it? They take a look at the three kids and are baffled as to how I function as a dad to triplets. They’ll say “i have enough trouble with one”. And I don’t doubt that. Kids are hard work – full stop.

There are times I wonder this question myself, especially when my CPS is flaring and I’m struggling myself to get through a day. But it all comes down to three thing’s – patience, tolerance and a commitment to fatherhood. I have a job to do, and it is the most important job I will ever have in this lifetime.

It would be easy for me to resent my situation, it is tiring and stressful. Especially at the age the girls are now. They are going through the tantrums, backchat and ignoring us stage, just to see what they can get away with. It’s a normal phase of their development, still we find ourselves constantly disciplining them. It can be exhausting, simply because there are three of them going through the same things.

I felt committed as a father when I married Stacey and became a step dad to Frankie. Then right from the first scan when we discovered my wife was pregnant with triplets, my path was cemented. I was to be a father. A lifetime of parenting (and grand-parenting) was ahead of me, with all the drama and stress that came with that role.

Like butter wouldn’t melt

And it hasn’t disappointed so far. The last five years it feels as though all we’ve had is stress and drama, and that’s without my personal health issues. But chronic pain aside I look back at how I’ve managed to make it and I believe I have done a good job so far. So how do I do it? I only have one answer. I do it consciously.

Since recovering from alcoholism 9 years ago I began practicing a simple, free meditation exersise. Every morning before the kids wake up I sit still for 10 minutes and pull back from the negative chatter in my mind. I wake up, and the meditative state sets me up for the day to stay free from rising anger, fear and frustration. Because I meditate this way I rarely suffer from anxiety because I am less affected by resentment.

It’s that simple. There is nothing more I need to do to stay emotionally stable as a father than to practice conscious awareness each day. It doesn’t mean life becomes a fluffy breeze – hell no! Life is tough and the temptation to bite into anger or frustration in the stream of life is very real. Half an hour with a screaming kid will confirm this.

But we can at least give ourselves a chance.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Mental illness – a day in the life

My life now is a thousand miles away from what it was when I was undiagnosed and my mental health was suffering. People who know me can’t imagine that it was ever that bad. After all, my emotions are regulated and I live a good life besides the chronic pain. I still have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder but it no longer defines me. My friends and family only know me as a stable man.

It’s mental health awareness week, and I wanted to give you a day in the life of a younger me. Just to paint a picture of what mental illness was for me.

If you need a trigger warning, this post includes mentions of suicide, alcoholism, hallucinations, mental distress.

     ‘I awoke in my decrepit flat in the afternoon. It was cold as it had no heating or carpets. I needed to get out as I felt fearful after a long night and morning of paranoi and not much sleep, I felt daylight would help me. I sneaked past the squatters, the heroin addicts who lived below me and who’s front door was open. I think they were more frightened of me, because of my erratic and sometimes destructive behaviour.

As I walked through town I could hear my name being whispered, and occasional shouts of abuse. This was normal and had been for a while. I was 19 years old and my mental health had been deteriorating for years. I was diagnosed with anxiety and deppresion. I had already had two suicide attempts by then and was a self harmer. The local mental health team were at a loss with me and my psychiatrist just medicated me. I was abusing alcohol by this point as a way to quieten the noise in my head. It would be 10 years before I got a diagnosis of BPD.

As I walked through the busy town centre I noticed something that got my attention. In a parked car I saw what looked like a face pushing through the fabric of a parked cars head rest. I got closer to get a better looked and also saw to faces moving and pushing through the back seats. I panicked and preceeded to stop passers by to help somehow. Getting more frustrated and manic that no-one would listen to me. People looked frightened of me as I began shouting for help by the parked car.

I ran into the pub opposite (where they already new me and were aware I was unwell) and began shouting for help to the confusion of the lunchtime punters. A man I knew came down from the bar to calm me down. I told him what was happening in the car and he looked confused and concerned. He walked me out of the pub and back across the street to the park car and looked in. “Si, there’s nothing in there”, and when I looked he was right.

I burst into tears and walked off. Made my way to the off licence and bought myself a bottle to help me calm down. I was frustrated, frightened and embarrassed by my behaviour. I headed back to my flat and back to alcoholic oblivion. It was just another experience I had to stuff down and try to ignore, I had to suppress it otherwise it would just play on my mind. Alcohol was, and would be the solution for another 16 years.’

My mental health affected me less the more I drank. So crossing the line into chronic alcoholism was a natural progression of my alcohol abuse. But there were many days and night’s of madness, fear and destruction. Too many to remember. I was ill for decades.

Sobriety and Meditation finally freed me from the madness of my own head. It was the end of a life of self destruction and the beginning of a new life of stability and peaceful well-being.

My life now is one of the joyful drama of parenthood. I live a full life with the principles of love and patience at the centre. I still suffer destructive thinking but with meditation it no longer affects me. My past experience isn’t without it’s use. It has made me useful when it comes to helping others who are still suffering. I am passionate about recovery. Especially mindfulness.

If you are struggling with mental health, never be afraid to reach out, and keep searching for solutions. There is a life beyond the bondage to darkness. Many do recover if they are willing to commit to change. Never give up the journey to wellness.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

The ups and downs of fatherhood

I was thrown into the fire with the triplets. Although I had become a step-dad I had never done the baby deal. Early parenting was a new experience for me. And wow! Was I in for a shock.

Sleep deprivation is used as torture. The victim is kept under stress and forced to stay awake until their mind snaps. Welcome to New parenthood!

I seemed to breeze through the pregnancy, buzzing around our amazing situation. Fast forward a few months and I was pulling up at home from work, completely drained and filled with dread about walking into my own home. Head on the steering wheel in tears on occasion. Knowing that when I walked through the door I was not going to get any rest. Maybe an hours sleep, two if I was lucky before I would have to go to work again. And as a welder I did a physical job.

It was intense. Exhausting to the point I was in danger of resenting my situation. And I couldn’t let that happen. I had to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm. I didn’t want to be the dad forever complaining, my wife needed me calm and out of stress because she needed to stay calm to produce the milk for the girls. Plus babies pick up on stress energy. I didn’t want to be a negative presence in the life of my daughters.

But it wasn’t all bad. I made a point of bonding with them whenever I could. In the more chilled moments we had skin time. I played them musical I liked and talked to them. Just making time for them kept me grounded and focused on the bigger picture. I survived early fatherhood through meditation and a concious attitude towards fatherhood and the man I wanted to be.

Rising above the pressures

It’s seems like only yesterday the girls were born. The last few years have shot by. They will be 5 on the 4th of July. I often wondered if parenting would get easier as they got older. It’s not easier in the sense that we are still dealing with 3 children. But there are a few bonuses to them being 4. It’s little thing’s like they keep each other occupied playing games. They also tidy up after themselves (most of the time). But being 4 there are different pressures that I experience.

The hardest being the relentless routine. Almost every day is exactly the same. And I the girls have boundless energy and I have a chronic pain condition that stops me physically playing with them as I once did. My disability has also caused me financial concerns and fears around the future. But I have to stay out of self pity. My family need me present. So there are new challenges that arise from the stream of life. I just have to adapt. My primary focus is still being a good father and husband. That has been my job since they were first discovered.

Mu tribe

It can be daunting as a parent to look ahead at times. Fatherhood is tough, but we cannot wallow in thoughts about the future. ‘Now’ is the only place we need to be. Parenting can be a case of dealing with one day at a time in the rough spots. But let’s not forget the positives. The random hugs and kisses. The little whispers of ‘I love you’. The new thing’s they learn that fill them with a sense of achievement. Having a front row seat and being involved with a child’s ongoing development is a beautiful experience. My daughters amaze me every day.

So if you are struggling at any stage of parenting reach out to a group on fb and get some support. Also this free meditation exercise will help you stay on your feet in what is the stressful event of fatherhood. Above all stay strong. Focus on the job at hand and be the example of a man for your children. Be the influence they need.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

A journey into music

As a kid of 12, I decided I wanted to play in a band. I wanted to get up on stage and entertain people.
At 14 I started a band, just me and a drummer. We played sex pistols songs and I was shit on the guitar and couldn’t really sing. But I loved it! I had a shitty guitar and amp but didn’t care. Playing was the best feeling. I started writing my own songs and after a while we got other members and played our first gig.
We were pretty shit but the feeling was electric – we gave it our best. And I was hooked.

Naturally I decided then I had to have world domination, Playing Wembley stadium etc. My ego got involved but unfortunately my drink problem and mental illness got in the way of me progressing. I went on to get fired from every band I played in.

I did have some luck in my mid 20s and joined a band as a singer – after years of practice I tuned up my pipes and could hold a note. In that band I co wrote the songs and we got to headline at the cavern in Liverpool. We also supported the Alarm. Unfortunately I went travelling and the band continued without me.

Alcoholism then got in the way of my playing. After getting kicked out of Australia I moved to New Zealand and started a thrash band called the Deported. But Alcoholism got in the way again. So instead I took to writing acoustic songs. I enjoyed doing that in my drunken stupor.

I eventually did get sober and shortly after quiting drinking I auditioned as a vocalist in a project in a local band. That band became Slipstream.
For the last 8 years I have been singing my ass off and enjoying every moment in a band with no ego’s. We are great friends who gel as musicians. Playing cover songs we love to perform.

I get to live my dream of being on stage and at 46 my voice is better than ever. We may not play Wembley but we do get to raise the roof off of local venues.

So live your dreams. Play live music and kick ass.

The stress wheel of parenting

It’s only natural to fall into the temptation to resent my situation. I feel I’m up against the wall daily with the relentless routine that is my life as a parent and a sufferer of chronic pain.

No matter how many kids are involved – parenting is a tough gig. They may still be fully reliant babies, moody cranky teenagers or anywhere in between. Kids demand our attention and support. And it’s under this pressure that we have to guide them, to show them how to navigate life safely. Not an easy task when we are stressed out to the max and are dealing with our own problems and pressures.

My routine is pretty much the same each day. I wake up, work in the mornings and take care of the triplets during the afternoon. I cook dinners, bath the girls and by the time they go to bed I am exhausted. At the weekends we try to do something out of the house with the girls and on a Sunday we tend to chill. I cook a roast dinner and we watch a movie. Then it’s back to Monday and the same routine. And whilst all this is going on I deal with nerve pain flare ups. It’s not easy. I was also prone to bouts of deppresion when my pain is ramped up.

So how to deal with the monotonous routine. It takes a certain mental attitude. After all it is the stress that must be dealt with, the slump in moods and resentment that we all experience as parents from time to time. We have to stay conscious and present in family life. And as dad’s we are relied on to bring mental and emotional stability under our roofs.

Some of us have hobbies and distractions that give us a break from the norm. It’s important to have an outlet outside of home-life. Not so easy when we have babies to deal with but after the initial shock of new parenting we do eventually get a little time to ourselves. I personally write, aswell as this blog I write in other forums dealing with mental health issues and chronic pain. I also sing in a rock band which gets me out of the house once or twice a month.

But we need more than distractions to survive the stres of parenting. In a mental health rock bottom 8 years ago I reached out to a stranger who seemed to have found a solution to resentment. A way to deal with the daily grind without becoming overwhelmed. I was interested in how he did it, because I was going all to shit just trying to deal with family and work life with just one kid, let-alone triplets.

He had a one word answer. Meditation. I laughed him off at first because I had tried many types of meditations and most were just bs. Distraction techniques that put a band aid over the problem and never solved anything. It seemed a flimsy reed to me but I was open to anything. My family life depended on my sanity. And I was slipping down the rope each and every day.

He introduced me to non contemplative meditation, a simple observation exercise. It was also free and non religious which I liked. So I gave it a shot and I instantly discovered a solution. Within days all the stress energy in me was expelled and I stood on a new footing. Through practicing daily meditation, just 10 minutes x3 times a day i found a way to deal with stress and the nagging fears and agitations of parenting. I found a new way to approach life.

Not only was I able to face life with a new courage but I also discovered a way to stay free from anger, a way to master resentment and fear. I was no longer prone to deppresion and anxiety. And I continued it to this day. And even though I still feel the pressure of parenting it no longer overwhelms me. I still have moments of moments of doubt and frustration but they are short lived. For the most I have a handle on life.

I found a way to step off the stress wheel of parenting and live life on life’s terms. Which for a man with a history of mental health issues and anger problems is a big deal.

Il leave the meditation link here if you are interested in giving it a try. I hope if you are struggling you do. It may just be the solution you have been looking for.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/