I LOST MY CHILDREN due to Gambling Part 2

My Therapeutic Stay at Life Beyond the Horizon

In part one I told you about the reasons I lost my children. Now I want to share my journey of getting them back.

Prior to arriving:

I found the pre- care very helpful, it consisted of some weekly counselling sessions over the phone and additional information by email.

Day 1) I used to love going to new places, but I’ve not flown since 2014.  When I arrived at Porto airport, I was made very welcome and I soon relaxed. The place is so beautiful, it was like a home from home. They offer animal assisted therapy as part of the treatment; How would I feel being near horses again?  

Day 2) The sun was already shining when I woke up. The double bed was very comfortable, I had slept well. I took pictures of the horses from my window, what a beautiful view. After breakfast Karen and I went to see them close up.  I had been a groom and a jockey, but hadn’t ridden for 6 years since my last fall broke my shoulder, that was the 10th bone I had broken. My confidence was lost. I couldn’t ride so I left the profession.

These horse counsellors are great!

I was able to help with the grooming and we even gave one of the horses a bath! It was rewarding and relaxing. While out with the horses, I talked about how I was bullied at school.  I feel like I am finding me again as a person, my confidence is starting to grow.  

Day 3) This day brings more opportunities for change. More counselling, this time Nuno and I talked in the counselling room one to one. We talked about how I perceived things. I was bullied at school because of my height, but actually my small stature enabled me to go into racing stables. For the first time in my life, I fitted in. I got comfort and respect from the horses.  

In the racing world, I won many races, I became respected.  Because of my natural stable and riding abilities, I travelled the world looking after some great horses,  As I talked, I realised that I had had some great life enhancing experiences. I realised, that these strengths, of determination and a dedication to achieve, was down to my past destructive experiences as a child. These negatives from my past, however, were instrumental in helping me achieve a very successful career in racing. 

Why had I not appreciated how good I was? 

Coming out here was one of the best things I have done in my life.

I look at the pictures of my children every night, it keeps me focused on what I have got to do. I am a good father and I can look after them, they will have a great life with me. 

Day 4 – 5) The food is great, healthy and delicious.  Did some gardening while listening to some music, was wonderful, relaxing and peaceful. I feel like a new person, it is a beautiful and magical place to be.  I now feel really good and proud about how far I have come. In the afternoon we took the horses for a long walk, it was peaceful walking in the mountains, the sun shone and the birds were singing, I hadn’t stopped and listened for a very long while.  


Day 6) I woke up feeling great and relaxed, we talked more, this time about my relationship with my father. I felt my father never showed me any love, I don’t hate him, but I don’t like him, during my childhood he was always distant. At that time, I had no idea my father had a gambling problem, and no idea that most of his arguments with my mother was down to this.  

My negative thinking meant I was only dealing with feelings and emotions, instead of dealing and recognising the facts.   

Part of the programme at Life Beyond the Horizon is to enhance and re-establish connections. Those who once criticized you can become your best support network. During my Future Planning session, we discussed how I was going to approach Mum and Dad and what I was going to talk to them about.  

There is nothing irredeemable you can do to your children. 

This change of mindset, has helped me overcome my fears and insecurities. I feel confident about my future. I have not felt like this since the day I lost my children. I am very focused on getting back to England and getting things in motion. 

Day 7) It was wet today, but we still went to see the horses.  Nuno and Karen, listened and took on-board, my advice in regard to the horses. By sharing my knowledge, abilities and experiences with horses, it gave me a lot of confidence in me as a person.  Also it felt great giving something back to them. That afternoon I even applied for 3 jobs and with horses! 

I will miss this place and Nuno and Karen; we will be friends for life. When I can, I will bring my children to see this beautiful place. I am now focused and confident for the next step of my journey to fight for my beautiful children.

Day 8) It’s the final day! I’m sad to be going, however, I want my children back. I can’t wait to go back to court, armed with Nuno’s report. I said goodbye to the horses. This has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Because I have inner confidence, passion and drive, I am the person I once was. I want to share these experiences with my children, I want to start to travel again.  I can teach them so much.

The day after I got home, I sent them this message: “I spoke to my mother last night, I told her everything. My father phoned me this morning and said sorry, I told him you have nothing to be sorry about, you are my Father and I love you, for the first time in my life, he said “I love you Son.” We spoke about many things, about my bullying and he questioned why I hadn’t told him about it? At the end of the call I better understood him.  Due to his upbringing and gambling, my Father had been distant. I now realise that in his own way, he did love me.

Thank you, Nuno, for helping me find myself again, I will never forget what you and Karen have done. 

This story is just beginning. I will post Part 3 with an update when we have more news.

This is the second blog post about my stay at Life Beyond the Horizon, if you haven’t read the first part, see my story here

To hear if I am successful in getting my children back and have updates about LBTH sign up for the newsletter HERE

Written by Nuno Leitao

March 19, 2020

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