"Bitterness and regret melted away like ice in springtime Scotland, where culture tells us to be strong, stoic"

“Born a boy in Edinburgh, my alcoholic, bullying, 6’ 3” father towered over me, terrifying me – hating my softness, demanding perfection, expecting high intellectualism, never showing love, creating feelings I was inadequate and could never please him; abrogating all emotional nurturing to mum.

He provided the necessities of life but his emotional neglect created a hole in my soul that I tried to fill with nicotine, alcohol, work, women, prestige and money, all providing short term relief but resulting, at age 34, in commitment phobia, abject, bone chilling, utter loneliness, breakdown and suicidal thoughts as my ego defence mechanisms (the concrete wall I built around my heart to protect me from further hurt) began to fail.

When un-dealt with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) came back to haunt me – the rapacious Jungian shadow now paralyzing my life, exposing my fear, guilt, low self-esteem, depression, self-pity and isolation – demanding attention, exhumation, examination, acceptance and healing through love – the only sufficiently powerful force to heal broken hearts, beginning with in-patient treatment, therapy groups, 12 step programs, spirituality and faith in a Higher Power to return me to sanity – my essential self.

To re-frame childhood experiences and to view life anew with trust and hope as cynicism, bitterness and regret melted away like ice in springtime Scotland, where culture tells us to be strong, stoic (and suppressed), where vulnerability is “inferior”, where big boys don’t cry and asking for help shows weakness.

But I live in Canada now where, for 30 years, the conversation, awareness and treatment of ACEs is mainstream and yet I still have a heart for Scotland as we tragically struggle with what I suffered, reaching for alcohol, drugs and high risk behaviours to, mistakenly, seek relief from unresolved ACEs and I long to help, praying that my shared experiences, strength, hope and victories can benefit others.”

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