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Christmas is a funny time. This year will the 4thChristmas I will not spend with my daughter.Last Sunday (December 1st), was the first time I put a Christmas tree up in 4 years for my girlfriend and her daughter. I’ve recently fallen in love and I’m now in a wonderful relationship – Go me!!
The simple act of erecting and decorating a Christmas tree, led me to look back on the Christmas’ since being alienated from my daughter as I have avoided the last 3!!
The first year I wrote and recorded a demo version of ‘Slave to Fortune’. It’s completely bare, just acoustic guitar, organ, percussion and vocals. It’s most definitely a darker version reflecting my painful demeanor at that time. There is an extra verse “they’ll give you all the gifts you need…while I’ll be on my knees”, “are you looking forward to Christmas this year I think I’ll miss it” and an extra middle 8 – “I don’t want to fight no more, I don’t want to worry….I don’t want to hurt no more, I owe that to me”.
I listened to this version today for the first time in quite a while. The version on ‘My Truths’is less introverted and intended to be an uplifting narration of acceptance of a position of which I have no control, only hope and love.
I have an MP3 of the demo version of this and if you would like a copy just send me a note and I’ll happily email it to you.
I remember begging my co-writer Adam Williams to help me finish the song, as I HAD to complete it to help get me through the hell of spending my first Christmas without my daughter. At that time, the only way I could feel anything was when I sang. I literally felt myself come to life when we used to jam!
With one minor exception, the last time I saw my daughter was in May 2016 – she’ll be 17 next year.I kept thinking she’ll come round…. and she never did, and she still hasn’t. It’s heartbreaking, however, even now I still have hope.
My memory of that time is blurred, however, every time I sing ‘Slave To Fortune’ it helps me heal just a little more.
Grieving for a child that still lives is an indescribable emotion. However I have learnt to manage that pain and to create something positive with this unbearable draining emotion. In fact, I have dedicated my life to it.
I can honestly say the 2ndChristmas without my daughter was even worse than the 1st. I truly believed there would be a Christmas miracle and visualized my daughter and I returning to the fun, loving, positive relationship we once had. In hindsight, this blind faith kept me going!!
Other than spending Christmas Day with my parents, I can’t actually remember anything about that festive period. I was still getting to grips with the shock and horror that I no longer had my daughter in my life. I was walking around in a daze. I now understand I was depressed. I isolated myself and I didn’t want see anyone. My enthusiasm and drive were abandoned and I completely shut down.
As I look back, I feel desperately sorry for my poor parents as they witnessed their happy son, a proud energetic father slowly shrink and become a shadow of the vivacious person I once was. They watched my sparkle fade and the black cloud above me grow darker and darker.Not only did they have to witness this, they also lost the love of their granddaughter who they loved and nurtured for 13 years.
Christmas used to be a wonderful time, we would spend quality time together playing with our presents, watching TV, eating and drinking – such great times.
The picture below is from NYE 2014 where, as a family, we watched Queen perform live on the BBC 1. This is still my favorite New Years Eve.
I wrote most of the songs for my debut album “The Rumble”that year, without that creative outlet I don’t believe I would be writing this blog!!
The following year my songwriting had grown from being my solace to my obsession. I made the jump from part time to full time and left my job in order to concentrate fully on my music.
Equally as significant, I discovered I wasn’t the only person in the world who lost a child in such a cruel and painful way. I discovered a term for this cruelty. The term is Parental Alienation.
I discovered there are millions of parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family members all over the world who were also enduring this living hell.I discovered groups where people would share, offer support, guidance, love and unity. A Global silent movement where I could listen and talk openly and I learnt so much.
I learnt Parental Alienation affected so many people yet, I had never heard of it. Until recently, unless you’ve been affected, it is highly unlikely you may not have heard of this term as it was rarely mentioned in mainstream media.
To help me get through the Christmas period I wrote a new song – ‘The Apple of My Eye’. It’s an uplifting song where I sing about there always being a space at the table for the people who we love yet no longer see.
I reached out to the Parental Alienation community requesting selfies holding up the names of their alienated children along with the number of years they’d been alienated…. and life changed overnight!!
I received photos from all over the world, together with stories and well wishes from every continent. I shared stories, made friends and started to think maybe I can use my music to make a difference.
On December 3rd2018 the video was released and things moved up another gear.
I received messages of support from all over the World relating to the video. In some cases the video actually led to reunification of children with their parents. This absolutely blew my mind and made me realise I can have an impact and use my pain to create some good and make a difference.
The last 12 months, I have been campaigning for better awareness of Parental Alienation as a step towards eradication.Thankfully, through the hard work of so many dedicated campaigners, Parental Alienation is now being acknowledged and discussed. I hope this will be step forward into eradicating this vile pandemic.
For me, one of the major breakthroughs in mainstream media in the UK was the below discussion on the Daytime TV Program “Loose Women”.
I fully intend using my story and pain to good use. In fact, whilst I wish it had not happened to me, had it not I would not be the person I am today. I have grown from the painful hardship suffered, become awakened and these emotions have defined my life in a positive way.
I have learnt so much and I’ve completely changed my life. I talk about the positive impact Parental Alienation has had on me in a number of short films, where I combine my story and learning experience with my music. The first of which is released later this month.
Still, my journey and learning continues. I thought recently that I had forgotten how to be a father. I have however learnt the importance of self-love over the last 3 & 1/2 years. I eat healthy (mostly!!), meditate daily, exercise regularly and allow myself not to worry about what may or may not happen in the future, I can only affect what happens now.
I talk with other alienated parents and grand parents whose children are younger and encourage them to continue to fight for their children. I’m absolutely hopeful that by the time their kids reach teenage years, steps will be in place to prevent further alienation.
I read recently of the various stages of grief which are:
I believe I’m now at the final stage of this grief cycle. It has taken a long time to get here and am proud to display scars the I gained.I’m sure I will enjoy this Christmas, at the very least I will try to. The act of opening my heart, sharing and allowing love into my life is something I had forgotten about.
Parental Alienation stole my daughter’s childhood, it robbed me of my identity as a father, it deprived me of love, it took away my shine and it nearly ended my life.
It also gave me so much more – I rediscovered myself, I’ve removed all toxins from my life and I am now living a life worth living – a life full of purpose.
If you are away from your child this Christmas you are not alone. It’s ok to feel shit, it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to drink too much, eat too much in order to soothe the pain and it’s ok to feel lost. Acknowledge those feelings, talk to others when you’re ready – it’s ok!
Get to know yourself, work on you and find your light because your shine will guide your child home. You need to be strong and healthy to show them the love you have is unconditional – it’s not their fault!! Be their rock.
I’m here for you, if you need to chat.
Merry Christmas x
Listen to Hegsy’s show “Your 80s with Hegsy” every Saturday on Radio Cardiff between 10am and 1pm UK time.
98.7FM in the Cardiff, UK area / live.your80s.co.uk / TuneIn Radio App for iOS and Android
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