Blake Fielder Civil; drugs, self-harm and Amy Winehouse, a recovery story

Blake Fielder Civil; drugs, self-harm and Amy Winehouse, a recovery story

By Charlotte Fantelli

(This piece was published before Amy's death)

We’ve all read the shocking headlines ‘Amy Winehouse died in Blake’s arms’ and ‘I made my Amy a junkie,’ but have any of us stopped for one minute to consider the lives of the people behind the hype and the headlines? What drives two young people, with the world at their feet into a life of drugs, violence and self harm?

I must admit it is very easy to pass judgement on a man who has been blamed for the demise of a brilliant young star, to chastise and look down on an addict and criminal; it is always much easier to cast blame than it is to ask why! Easier than looking deeper and seeing what life is really like for an addict and the devastation their addiction causes to all that surround them.

Mental Healthy speaks to Georgette Civil, mother of Blake Fielder-Civil about what it is really like to be part of a family torn apart by addiction.

I can hear the slight crackle of sadness break through the composure in Georgette’s voice as she reminisces “Blake was the most beautiful child, intelligent and sociable. His childhood was full of love.” Adding “Blake was so anti drugs and smoking when he was little, I even have him on tape talking about why smoking is bad!”

“I hadn’t realised quite how much this had shaken him, I had my hands full with our new baby, and soon I was expecting my third child. Everything seemed fine, but with hindsight, I have regrets that I didn’t see how challenging these new adjustments were for him.”

Blake was so much older than his two siblings that his life was quite separate to theirs, but his relationship with his mother was always close. As a teenager he showed no signs of the self destructive tendencies he would later adopt.

“He was just an average teenager, drugs were never an issue. He had the occasional ciggie, and a drink now and then, but even that was rare.”

Georgette and Blake’s father Giles were both hard working people who did their very best to give their children a good start in life. Georgette ran her own hairdressing salon while Blake’s father was a headmaster. Blake enjoyed living in a lovely house, in a quiet neighbourhood and attended a private school.

“It is so easy to accept addicts as being poor, uneducated, from a bad bunch; no-one likes to accept that rich or poor, good education or bad, drugs are a problem throughout all sectors of society. You can give your child an ideal upbringing but they are still going to make their own choices.”

It was when Blake set off to London to fulfil his dream to become a journalist that things started to turn bad for him.

He ended up working in video production, a world where drink, drugs and parties are a big part of life. Speaking honestly of her son’s choices, Georgette states “I can’t blame the crowd, it is so easy for any parent to blame the people around, for their child’s demise, but it was Blake’s own free will that got him into drugs”.

She added “The drugs relieved his emotional pain, his problems may have appeared small to some people, but they were a big deal to him.”

It was during this time that Blake met Amy Winehouse, a fresh faced and ultra talented young singer. It is not clear to what extent Amy had experienced drugs before meeting Blake, but in an interview with the News of the World in 2008, Blake did admit introducing her to Crack Cocaine.

“Both Blake and Amy were embroiled in the world of parties and dabbling with substances before they both met, however I admit, their relationship was a catalyst for them both.”

As Amy’s career took off the pair were given more fuel to fire their drug taking. The pressures of fame, being followed by the paparazzi and having your every move scrutinised by the media was a huge burden for them both. This was coupled with the money they now had at their disposal, and the access to any illicit material they desired. It was obvious to the public that the couple were in need of some serious help, but what was it like for the family?

“If I am honest I was in denial. I didn’t know what to do. Even when Blake was in prison I couldn’t see him as an addict, it was just too painful.’

The self harm was another well publicised and very disturbing part of Amy and Blake’s relationship. Often pictured with fresh cuts on their bodies, for a mother to see her son and his wife acting in such a way must have been so painful.

‘I blocked so much out. I would go and see him and he would have cut again. I would cry and hold him, but then I would block it out, push it to the back of my mind, deny it to myself. I think I had to be like that for my own sanity and for my other children.’

Far from receiving any help or support, as Blake’s exploits were more and more publicised the family suffered bullying, discrimination and even had to leave their home, attempting to protect themselves from the abuse they all battled.

“My other boys suffered bullying at school and we even felt forced out of our village as people hounded us over Blake’s problems. People failed to see Blake as a human being, they saw the drugs and nothing else.”

As the weeks and months went by, Blake and Amy’s relationship became seemingly more volatile and destructive.

‘It was the drugs, they had a hold on him like a demon with its hands around his neck, and it just would not let him go.’

In June 2007 Blake inflicted grievous bodily harm on James King, a 36-year-old landlord, in a fight at the Macbeth pub in Hoxton. Later the charge of perverting the course of justice was brought against him,  relating to an incident which took place in November which King was offered a large sum of money to flee the country to avoid testifying against him.

After pleading guilty at his trial in July 2007, Blake was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He had already spent nine months in jail on remand.

He was said to have been on alcohol and cocaine when he and his friend attacked Mr King outside the pub. At the trial Judge David Radford said Fielder-Civil joined in the attack "out of a mistaken sense of loyalty to his friend.”

Georgette admits “Even sat across the table from Blake in prison, I could not admit he was an addict, to me he was still my little boy. I was convinced it was a phase, and one he would just come out of.”

After years of denial, Georgette finally realised that there was a problem and Blake needed help.

“I remember it clearly, it was January, Blake had been in prison many months and it finally sank in. I finally admitted he was an addict.”

It was this realisation that turned the tables for Georgette. Instead of being a mother in denial, she was now able to stand at her son’s side and fight this battle with him. She set about finding help for Blake and fought to get him into a unit suitable for him.

‘As soon as I admitted he had a problem, I was so much better equipped to help.”

Georgette fought passionately and set about finding a strategy that would set her son free of the clutches of his addiction. It was during his six month stay in a rehabilitation centre in Sheffield that Blake finally started to regain control of his life.

“The heroin mugs you of your own child; it had a solid grip around his heart that even as his mum, I could not break through.”

As Georgette speaks, I find myself understanding the pain she must have felt as she saw her son ripped apart, not only by the drugs, but by the media also.

Having gone through so much with their son, after 26 years of marriage, the pressures become too much and Georgette and Giles’ relationship ended.

“It is all about balance, and I couldn’t juggle being a great mum and supporting Blake, and being a good wife. I chose Blake and it took its toll on my marriage, I love Giles very much, but I am a mum and I will always put my children first.”

Having publicly divorced Amy in 2009 on the grounds of her infidelity, Blake did not claim a share of her fortune reported to be between £10m and £13m.

“Blake and Amy love each other, they always will, they just cannot be together. He did not want her money; it was never what their relationship was about.”

There is no doubt that Blake has been responsible for some abhorrent actions, he has never denied this, nor can we condone some of the things he has done. But behind this figure that has been vilified there is a human being who has been battling many demons.

In speaking with Georgette she talks of a person far from the image the media has portrayed of her son. His faith and religious belief, his love for his family, not taking a penny from Amy, just a few examples of a softer side to Blake we have not seen before.

Blake is now out of prison, clean from drugs and living with Georgette and his brothers at the family home. She talks of the future and the plans the family are making:

“I am enjoying having my three boys around me, getting back to being a normal family, giving Blake time to be himself again, free from the grasp of drugs and from the prying eyes of the media, or at least as far as possible.”

Georgette still has much guilt as do many who find themselves in similar positions.

“I am now left going back over what went wrong and trying to pinpoint my part in it all. One thing Blake and I have always been good at is talking and that really has helped our relationship through this difficult time. I have to accept his feelings as they are, and not throw them back at him. We may differ in the way we see some things, but his opinions are what they are to him, and I have to accept that.”

Georgette and Blake both plan to turn the experiences they have had into positives, by sharing their story with others and trying to make a change. They are currently filming a documentary about drug abuse, in which Blake explores homelessness and the perpetuation of addiction when people find themselves without a home. Georgette is also writing a book all about her experiences as the mum of an addict, which she hopes will help other parents and relatives who find themselves in a similar position.

“It was never Blake’s intention to hurt me. My advice to anyone in a similar position is not to scream or shout, just listen. Reflect and allow your child to feel their feelings, don’t dismiss their point of view just because you don’t share it. If they are hurt over something in their childhood, let them feel hurt and own up to your responsibilities in that. If you accept it, however hard it is, you can then fight the battle with them, not against them. There will be light at the end of the tunnel.”

She adds that Blake wants to show the world how evil drugs are by saying ‘I am not a scumbag, I am a human being, if you are thinking of taking drugs, just look at what it has done to me!’

We want to thank Georgette for the very candid interview; we here at Uncovered wish her and all the family the very best for the future.

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