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Life can and will hit hard at times......

It's our resilience and determination to get back up to the challenges that count.

Never underestimate how strong you are.........

We can't keep running marathons every day, eventually, something will give or break.

So many of us are under so much pressure these days with providing for our families and juggling 2 or 3 jobs working ridiculous hours to make ends meet.

I don't think it was any different for my parents either and so many others.

Trust me I've been there too, holding down 3 jobs, paying 2 mortgages so my kids didn't lose their home and working on average a 100 plus hour week, and eating whatever I could to keep going.

Credit cards maxed and feeling sick at how was I going to pay the next bill, fuel the car and eat!!

Having the kids come around and skipping meals so they could eat. I'd serve their's up and say I'd already eaten. Any crusts left were hoovered up though. And I'd do it again for them.

I even at one point whilst waiting for the rental house to come through considered sleeping in the shed I used for the weighing of my birds of prey, or the car.

I had a sleeping bag, and hey I have grown up with challenges. I have my kids to provide for.

I am trained in being resourceful and will use my initiative, so thankful for the Fire Service and the family bond you have when in the service. Plus I have much to live for.

I crashed down, (on the quiet,) at the station for 6 weeks living out of the few bags I had put aside when I moved out. I'm not the first or will be the last to have found themselves in a shite place through no fault of their own.

I'm not blaming my ex-wife here, these things happen, that's life I guess? Many factors contribute to the problems we had.

Maybe I just couldn't tell her stuff or would she have even grasped the concept of what I'd been subjected to. It makes no odds now. Knowing more about how it's affected me and what others are dealing with allows me to forgive and wish no ill to anyone. Life's too short and precious.

Plus I have met and married someone very special and not lost my bond with my 3 amazing kids.

I hope they can learn from my mistakes.

During all this, I even had to care for 1 of my birds, a Harris Hawk during this time after it broke its wing after hitting a tree in winds, so I guess I had a distraction, but also an added stress. It made a full recovery. The Falconry business was my therapy and working with these was better for my health. The alternative was hard graft.

(Services, or anyone, shouldn't have to work additional jobs to make a living. )

After 3 weeks my mate at the station, who was also going through a divorce, offered for me to stay at his place when we are on duty as he didn't have his kids over. I had a bed, although I stayed in my sleeping bag. It was his kid's room after all, but wow a luxury.

So getting called out in all weathers and times of day and night, I didn't care, this was incredible to possible alternatives.

Trust me this was a lifeline, so I grabbed it.

We were on call at night and on duty in the day, (so 72 hours on 72 off.) If you got called out every night so be it. I had someone to talk to and listen, as did he.

In comparison to what we'd both seen on the job, we were in a better place than so many others, so I am blessed in many ways. To have seen life slip away from so many and others to have lost their homes, I am still so fortunate in so many ways.

We were known as Eric and Ernie (Morcombe and Wise.) Who cares, piss-take is part of services humour. Processing stuff on your own is hard, sharing is so much easier. It was 3 weeks alternating 3 at the station when off duty and 3 at his whilst on duty.

I feel it's important to explain that Fire Service life will affect you and everyone around you, as much as we try to hold it in or keep it from others.

There is much that has been stuffed down and festered.

What we are subjected to is not normal and shouldn't become normal.

We have a world where we are becoming less connected verbally and socially, especially with the restrictions we are all facing.

Emotionless texts and emails just don't work and are so easily misread.

So being face to face, open and honest and not afraid to speak up and have help from others is necessary and not coping at times is acceptable.

We are a social species and need interaction.

I have always lead by example, motivating and encouraging from an early age playing football, karate, all sports really. A football game can be changed by 1 persons actions and energy, people see that there is hope and it's infectious. Games have been won this way.

I hope I can be an inspiration to others, and to not ridicule or turn a blind eye to others in a less fortunate place, as we just never know what twist of fate life will throw at us.

So many have opinions on every subject. I just know that until you are there for real for yourself, (let's hope you don't,) you would never grasp the full consequences of the situation.

It can get very dark and everything will be analysed and replayed over and over.

Nothing will make sense. The only thing that made sense to me was my kids' and my role as a Fireman serving the public. I had a role to play and responsibilities for my crew and public, plus my kids. I was in charge and making decisions so had huge responsibilities.

I guess I was lucky in that I was always on call, either for the Fire Service or my kids so I had a purpose and didn't or couldn't afford to anyway, turn to alcohol. This kept my thoughts clearer and focused on dealing with what seemed impossible to overcome, but I got there eventually. And birds of prey to feed and look after and fly to keep healthy. I had a purpose.

So my point here is, yes we all have flat, unmotivated days, feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders, where we can't be arsed to do anything. Just sitting and staring aimlessly at nothing, unfocused and non-caring.

Avoiding social events, (I had no money anyway,) or over-reacting and feeling anxious or angry at small stuff.

You may just shut down or want to scream or even sob.

It's all healthy responses and part of the healing process.

For me, I imagined every problem and I saw it as a rock, in my then, very heavy rucksack.

Deal with the priority problem first and then one at a time.

Then you start to see progress, small progress it might be, but progress is still progress.

You are more resilient than you think............

You are worth more than you think.........

You are important and have a valued role to play in many lives around you........

You have others who understand you and are available to listen and help.........

If you need help, don't be afraid to ask......................... really is OK to not be OK.

We don't have to be strong all the time, let others take the helm and steer the boat as it were.

Be kind to yourself.

Take time to be down, but just remember to get back up.

You are stronger than you think.

Keep motivated by moving through exercise.

Every sunrise is a new day for opportunities.

Humbled by the kindness of others.


sunrise onto the Pyrenees


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