Stuff For Kids That Adults Might Love, Too

‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ — 1 Corinthians 13:11, King James Version.Yes, I know, nobody comes here for the Bible verses, but this one has stuck with me for decades. […]

Zan, Zandegi, Azadi (Woman, Life, Freedom)

The following words were written by a friend of mine, who is Iranian. Were she to record, or publish it herself, it could be dangerous for her family who are still in Iran. So, I’m doing it instead. The hope has always been there that one day, I could go back to Iran to see […]

Hope

‘Hope springs eternal’‘Where there’s life, there’s hope.’‘Hold On Pain Ends’ I don’t know about you, but I have been on the receiving end of these platitudes, and fake ‘positive psychology’ messages more times than I can count. I have a complicated relationship with hope. For many years, I sat in the quagmire of hopelessness, and […]

Grief (Part Two)

Last week, I wrote about grief, and about how I do not believe it is ‘love with nowhere to go’. This week, I want to write about grief following abuse. As people who were abused as children, it can be difficult to identify grief in the myriad emotions we are containers for. We have much […]

Grief

For many reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about grief recently. Well, when I say recently, I mean in the past few years. There are a few reasons for this: The recognition of Covid as a pandemic had more of us thinking about and – sadly – experiencing grief. There was the national (and, to […]

Experts By Experience

In the interests of full disclosure, I was a See Change Ambassador when it launched, in 2012. At the time, I was fully onboard with what they proposed to be doing: Using people with histories of mental ill health to smash the stigma that exists around these issues. In the years since however, I have […]

This week’s Guest – Niamh Ní Chonchubhair (S1, Ep3)

This week, I’m talking to Niamh Ní Chonchubhair on the Woman Up! podcast. Niamh is the CEO and Director of Axis: Ballymun, and – I have to be honest – this episode really sounds like a love letter to Ballymun. And, sure, what’s wrong with that?! I asked Niamh to join me on the podcast […]

The Trauma Of Parentification

Were you parentified when you were a child? By that, I mean were you given the responsibilities of parenting your parent/s or guardians? Of course, it is entirely correct to encourage, and support, children to undertake tasks and chores around the house as they get older. It is only right and proper that children are […]

Woman Up! Episode One With Aoife Martin

Nine year old me is thrilled with herself. Forty years ago, I dreamed of having my own radio show. In a desperate attempt to make that dream a reality, I spent the few pennies I had on low-quality blank cassette tapes. On these, I recorded myself (sometimes with a less than enthusiastic younger sibling joining […]

Choosing A Guide For Your Healing

  Amid all the chatter on- and off-line around ‘reaching out’; acknowledging that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’; ‘ask for help’ etc. etc. finding the appropriate healing guide for you is not always an easy task. What Do You Need?I think the first place to start is deciding the type of professional you need: […]

Child Sexual Abuse Is Not The Same For Everyone

    Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse, Trauma, In my work with people who were sexually abused as children, the notion of a hierarchy of abuse regularly comes up. Sometimes, people diminish their own experiences because someone else has had more extreme experiences. I remind them that our abuse has many elements: There’s the physical […]

Body Of Evidence

Some Thoughts On Living In The Body Of A Woman Who Was Sexually Abused As A Child The Axis Theatre, Ballymun November 26th, 2021 at 1pm Written, and performed, by Hazel Katherine Larkin Oh no! Not another piece of work about her body by an Irish woman writer over 40!! What is this band wagon […]

What Does A Rapist Look Like?

Then, there’s the false sense of security that Garda vetting provides. Garda vetting doesn’t weed out predators, it doesn’t give any indication of who is, and isn’t a rapist. Garda vetting just tells us who has a criminal record. Do you see the problem here? You could be a serial rapist, but because you have […]

It’s Not Her Fault! (Or Is It?)

Often, when I work with daughters of narcissistic mothers – particularly women who have just realised they are DONMs – they question how fair it is to expect more, or better, of our mothers. If, these clients reason, narcissism is a personality disorder, can we realistically blame them for how they behave? By naming their […]

‘Too Damaged By My Mother To Have Children Of My Own.’

Earlier this year, I surveyed 1,722 Daughters Of Narcissistic Mothers, with a focus on their own experiences of motherhood. This post is the first of two that provides an overview of the responses of women who completed the survey. Like many forms of child abuse and neglect, the truth of these relationships is bound in […]

‘Going No Contact Was My Only Option.’

Following on from my piece yesterday, today I’m looking at the levels of contact the respondents to my survey reported. Of the 1,772 women who took part, 257 revealed that their mothers were dead. Obviously, for them, the issue of current levels of contact did not arise. Just 228 of the remaining 1,465 participants, were […]

Smear Campaign

CW: Child Sexual Abuse, Pregnancy Loss This year, European Cervical Cancer Awareness Week falls from January 28th. As a result, the past few days have seen my Twitter feed full of reminders that smear tests save lives; that cervical cancer is an awful way to go; that it is preventable; that a few minutes’ of […]

Baby Boxes Won’t Raise Birth Rates

(This is not a Finnish baby box!) A week ago, Katherine Zappone announced baby boxes would be given to all new parents in an attempt to increase the birth rate in Ireland. Baby boxes were first introduced in Finland in 1938, when infant mortality stood at 65 per 1,000. The boxes contained clothes, nappies, a […]

Pathways

For a number of years now, I have been choosing a single word to guide my coming year.  It’s a word I refer back to over the course of the following twelve months if I’m stuck, or feel I need to get back on course. For 2022, my word is Pathways. This year, I am […]

The Two Norries

I was very honoured to have been a guest on the award-winning podcast The Two Norries, hosted by James Leonard and Timmy Long for their 95th episode. You can listen to it here. As of now, I hold the record for the longest interview broadcast by The Two Norries! (Although we only managed to discuss […]

Knitting & Narcissism

My mother is a narcissist. She also taught me how to knit – which is one of the things I most love to do. So – what’s the connection between her narcissism, and my knitting? Watch this video to find out!

Be A Cycle Breaker!

One of the things I hear a lot from people I work with is that they’re afraid to have children because their own parents were abusive – whether that abuse was psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, or a combination of all four – and my clients are concerned that they, too, will be abusive. Sadly, I […]

Loving Yourself (Part One)

As I said yesterday, loving yourself isn’t a prerequisite to loving someone else – but I do believe that loving yourself enriches your experiences of life. Loving yourself means finding the worth in yourself and placing a value on it. For those of us who grew up in dysfunctional families, being abused regularly – even […]

Loving Yourself (Part Two)

I was talking yesterday about loving yourself and doing the counter intuitive thing of listening to the voice in your head and then making a list of your attributes. A natural follow-on from that is what I’m going to talk about today. I think that, sometimes, we fall out of love with ourselves because we […]

Loving Yourself (Part Three)

Today, I want to talk to you about your environment, and its connection with loving yourself. We know that our surroundings impact on our moods – think about things like colour therapy, and aromatherapy, and mood lighting and so on. These things matter. I’m talking to you today from my purpose built office. Now, I […]

Loving Yourself (Part Four)

I mentioned, yesterday, about assembling your fan club – and it really is easier than it sounds. Now that you’ve denuded your home and work space of all the things that remind you of your detractors – the people who don’t support you, take a look at what you’re surrounded by. The people who have […]

Loving Yourself (Part Five)

This final instalment of this mini-series on loving yourself is a bit later than advertised. I could lie – but I’m not going to. The truth is that I was using Cold Turkey to shut myself out of the Internet in order to avoid distractions while I write up my doctoral dissertation; and (genius that […]

Bottling It

It’s World Breastfeeding Week until Sunday. The purpose of World Breastfeeding Week is to raise international awareness – through a number of initiatives, including several Brestivals across the island of Ireland. Infant feeding is a divisive, and contentious, issue when it really shouldn’t be. Women who don’t breastfeed their babies are judged, while those who […]

Keeping Them Safe

This Piece, in today’s Irish Independent, brought back memories of when my own children were much younger, and my ex made a kidnap threat. As he’s a narcissist, co-parenting was impossible – he had no interest in the children except when they could get him attention of any kind. When I left him, he viewed […]

A Different Light

Purple has been my favourite colour since I was a teenager. The thing I have noticed about Purple People is that we are so passionate about our love for the colour that we are nearly evangelical. The colour inspires us on so many levels – it’s more than just having blue, or red, or green, […]

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?

The second part of that quotation, from a poem by Muriel Rukeyser, and first published in 1968 is: ‘The world would split open.’ I think about this quotation often – not least because there’s as much truth in it now as there was nearly 55 years ago. The other lines in this poem which particularly resonate […]

A Smile Can Save A Life

  **CW: Suicidal Ideation** Photographs of Dún Briste (Downpatrick Head) in Mayo are becoming a regular feature on my social media feeds. But I knew her before she was famous. Decades ago, when I was a teenager, an aunt and uncle of mine had a second home in Ballycastle – a tiny, rural village on […]

Back To School

Yesterday, in Ireland, those who have completed their final exams at secondary level (known as the Leaving Certificate – or ‘the Leaving’) received news of whether or not they were being offered their most preferred course at third level. For many, it’s a day of relief, joy, and pride. For others, it’s a disappointment. I’m […]

Slipping

  Over the past fortnight, I’ve noticed that more people (myself included) have found their mental health slipping. I’m very grateful for the fact that I have managed to move far enough along in my recovery that I didn’t spiral completely, but I know that not everyone is as lucky. I’ve trained myself to step […]

Sex Positive Parenting

More and more frequently, in my discussions with other parents about sex positivity, parenting, and being sex-positive parents, I hear mention of how they are so sex positive that they have condoms in their homes for their teenaged children to use. ‘Better under my roof and using protection than out in a field, and not,’ is […]

A Guide To Failing Sexually Abused Children

Me, aged 9. I’d already been a victim of sexual abuse for 7 years when this photograph was taken. For help with child sexual abuse, rape and incompetence:  Rape Crises Help Samaritans Mental Health Ireland Yesterday, Sarah McInerney wrote a piece in The Times about my late friend, Shane Griffin, and how he was let […]

Breastfeeding After CSA

The first week of August was World Breastfeeding Awareness Month, but the United States Breastfeeding Committee has declared the whole month of August Breastfeeding Awareness Month. In honour of that, I wanted to share a few thoughts on breastfeeding after the mother has suffered Child Sexual Abuse.  While so many of us want to breastfeed, […]

Misogyny, Double-Standards and Witch-Hunts

As a woman, Ireland is not a great place to be. Not just because of the patriarchal hierarchy but because of the blatant denials that the patriarchal hierarchy exists in the first place. I’ve been giving this quite a bit of thought lately – not least because I am a woman and I have two daughters. […]

10 Lies Women Hear in Irish Maternity Hospitals

Women in Ireland are, finally, realising that they have – for the longest time – been sold a pup when it comes to how they are treated with regard to maternity care in this country. For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in mothering, maternity, babies and birth. Before I’d […]

Life Without Santa

Another Christmas day has come and gone, and I am pleased to report that Santa did not make an appearance. He never has. There is no such thing as Santa, as you well know. In Ireland, however, as in much of the Western world, this imaginary creature is a bigger, more important fixture in the […]