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Relationships last forever

Relationships last forever

'We had to face the wall the whole time Match of the Day was on. And the really cruel thing was that we could still hear everything. It was awful. I would cry myself to sleep whenever he did it'.


55 year old television presenter and ex-international football star Ian Wright this week shared some of his life experience in an interview for the Players' Tribune (https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/ian-wright-earning-my-smile) which was also reported on by the BBC (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/46357587).

He describes how, in the earlier years of his life in particular, he often struggled to manage his feelings and that this regularly led to him finding it difficult to negotiate the various challenges that he faced including his quest to progress through school and to finding employment, and with his football career. Anger and frustration and a lack of motivation and confidence regularly led to more challenges to negotiate. Fights were a regular part of life and he spent time in prison after not paying fines for driving offences.


As he reflects on his life now, enjoying a role as part of the presenting team for the famous weekly football show Match of the Day, he describes how the abuse he suffered as a child still affects him today. So much so that when he was first congratulated on securing the job by the lead presenter at the time, he stated that he 'nearly broke down crying'.

The experience that he describes which is mentioned in the opening paragraph of this article was a regular feature of a relationship with his step father. The impact of this psychological abuse, along with the other forms of abuse and neglect that he regularly had to contend with meant that facing stressful situations was an extremely regular occurrence.

As discussed in last week's NowCounselling blog article, the effect of this on overall health and wellbeing is not only acute but can also be chronic. Match of the Day represented pain and suffering for Ian Wright, the child. Now, many years on, for Ian Wright - the television presenter, successful record breaking footballer and father - the echoes of this trauma can still be felt at times.


Thankfully, the healing that he has been able to do mean that echoes are all that remain. And this is largely down to the relationship that he had with another man that also started during the earlier years of his life. He describes how Mr Pigden, a teacher that he met during the period of his life when he often cried himself to sleep at night and fought during the day, showed compassion and kindness and also taught him skills that were vital to him as he tried to make sense of the world around him. The safety that he felt in this relationship and the education that Mr Pigden offered meant that he was able to learn to manage anger, to learn to be patient, to be confident and take responsibility. He was also able to learn to communicate more effectively and to read and write.


Ian Wright's courageous self disclosure in this story is an important contribution to the issue of raising awareness of the widespread impact of trauma, in short - that trauma can and does affect all of us. The NowCounselling blog article from 9th November - Talk Tonight: Mental health is a daily priority for all of us - featured another contribution from a sports star in the public eye. And as James Docherty (who works for the Violence Reduction Unit in Scotland) describes during his presentation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAfptkj1DUU) at the @ACEAwareNation conference in September in Glasgow, self disclosure is also vitally important for another reason. It can help anyone to feel more able, more confident, to talk about and begin to deal with the impact of their own trauma by asking for help. It simply means more people can feel ready to heal.


Mr Pigden played such a vital role in Ian Wright's journey to healing from the impact of the adversity of an abusive relationship that the supportive and caring relationship that they have still lives powerfully with him today, despite him dying quite recently at the age of 95. The feelings associated with their relationship resonate far more powerfully than the painful echoes of his childhood trauma.


'The one man in particular who helped me through those dark times. He changed my life. He was the first man who showed me any kind of love. He is still with me. he will always be with me'.


Trauma can and does affect us all, and the relationships that we are in have the power to help us to heal. We can never erase scars from these wounds, but we can take action to help those around us to heal theirs, as well as healing our own. Everyone has the power to create relationships that last forever, everyone has the power to be a Mr Pigden .