I am a survivor of extremely severe ritualistic childhood abuse and sadistic systematic torture. Without God's intervention in my life I wouldn't be here - NOW is the time for me to tell MY story by speaking the TRUTH about MY life. I will be silenced no more! On this blog I share MY life, MY healing journey; helpful quotes/stuff I come across and MY thoughts along the way. The more I speak out the more liberated I am from the shame and trauma of the abuse. My broken wings are gradually being restored. This blog has helped me begin to get my voice back and documents the journey God is taking me on to heal me from the trauma and damage caused by that most appalling abuse.

Monday, 21 July 2014

CATCHING UP

The last seven months have been hell to get through which is why there's been a huge gap between this and my previous post.

The failure of the local Community Mental Health Service to provide any support for me has impacted hugely on my life.

It all began in January when my CPN and care co-ordinator, Kathy, went off sick. I had a phone call then a letter, then nothing until early April. I felt invisible, lost to the system.

Then I was called to meet a new caseworker, Lesley, to find that she wasn't a new caseworker but rather a temporary interim worker brought in to cover Kathy's absence. Her boss had requested Lesley to find out how my mental health was, what support I needed and also to tell me that Kathy would not be returning to work. I was totally devastated to receive the news about Kathy though not all that surprised, I had a feeling that things were moving towards that conclusion. I was able to express to Lesley how hard it had been to have Kathy go off sick. I was also able to express how devastated I was to hear that Kathy would not return.

More importantly I was able to get across how invisible I had felt all those weeks which turned into months, hearing nothing and having no support offered.

I felt heard, affirmed and encouraged by what took place during that meeting and was hopeful for a sensible and constructive way forward. I was booked to see Lesley two weeks later. I left the meeting unconcerned by it and equally unconcerned about my future support. I felt a corner had been turned.

When I showed up for my next meeting with Lesley I was introduced to another caseworker and asked if I minded if she sat in the appointment which was odd.

Once in the meeting Lesley informed me that her contract had been terminated early and this new person was my new care co-ordinator, Sarah. Sarah informed me that her job was to actively review my case with a view to shutting my case down and getting me off their list.

Lesley coldly stated that she knew nothing about me, my history, diagnosis nor of the fact that I am in therapy and need long term support. She said those things were not important as she is about closing down cases not continuing support. That is her job.

I could not take in what I was hearing. The dynamic was all wrong. The atmosphere was cold. I felt very threatened, intimidated and undermined.

When I said I was devastated by Kathy's departure I was told very coldly “Kathy is now in the past you need to move on.” There was no acknowledgement of the impact of the loss on me nor of the grief I was feeling at Kathy's loss. I was further traumatised when Sarah very coldly stated “you've had a lot of therapy, you are doing so well now, there are many people on our waiting list, a decision needs to be made as to whether you're going to be allowed any more therapy.” It was extremely difficult and traumatising to sit in a meeting which I had been told was about meeting my new caseworker then discovering it was actually something very different. The dynamic of that meeting was a mess. It wasn't about me, what I need or where I'm at therapy wise.

It was a tremendous shock and has been very disruptive to my therapy and to my general mental health. And that puts it mildly!!

It was all wrong. I was appalled as were my psychologist and her colleagues.

Everything about that meeting massively traumatised me. It was so traumatic that I dangerously split. I was ripped apart by it. My support workers had to intervene. They negotiated me off Sarah's list, got me clustered at the right level of care support, and gained reassurances that my therapy and support would continue.

My psychologist kicked up a stink about that meeting. As a result I was called to another meeting to meet a new care co-ordinator early in May.

She introduced herself to me as Debbie. She said she was to be my new care co-ordinator. She informed me that she's been working in mental health for over 30 years. She told me she is on a permanent contract and not planning on going anywhere. She was very anxious to put things right, to get to know me and the kinds of support I need. She apologised for what I've been put through and confirmed that I am longer on “active review” but rather on the longer term care co-ordinator support list. We had a very positive session discussing my history, my therapy and counselling progress and the type of support I was hoping for from her.

After five months of being in the wilderness finally things were looking up, or so I thought!

A couple of days before the next appointment I came home to a message on my answer-phone. It was precisely the same message I had received about Kathy, but now it was about Debbie. I couldn't take it in. Then I received a letter identical to the one I'd about Kathy's absence in January, but this time it named Debbie.

I was immensely shocked and traumatised. I hadn't realised how traumatised I'd been by the events around Kathy's absence and subsequent leaving. Only now was I aware of deep trauma. Now there was an additional layer of trauma.

My child parts said very firmly “we're glad we didn't tell her much about ourselves then!” There was nothing I could say to that,

I tried to keep positive and reassure them that this was different to Kathy and she'd soon be back to work. But two weeks became five weeks and then indefinite. History was literally repeating itself and I, and my child parts were massively re-traumatised.

I could not believe nor take in what was happening. I realised that the trauma triggered old messages that “I was bad and this had happened to me because I was bad and did not deserve anything better and I was being punished for having such a good rapport with Kathy and such a deeply therapeutic and positive relationship with her.

I reeled from that and tried to navigate a way through it in counselling. I realised I was fire-fighting and in damage-limitation mode.

While in that mode I could not grieve nor move forward. It was really tough.

Then I unexpectedly received a letter from Kathy telling me she'd had to take early-retirement for health reasons, that she was sorry and had felt privileged to work with me.

I appreciated that letter more than she will ever know and more than I can find words for. Now I had something to counter those old messages.

That letter changed things. I was suddenly able to grieve and to speak of my loss. I was able to see that not only was I missing my Kathy and finding it hard to take in that she wasn't going to walk in the door and smile at me. I was also missing all that the relationship had been to me. I realised there were many layers to the grief and sense of loss.

But the difficult issue of non-existent support which her leaving had left in it's wake was still unresolved. That was until last week.

Last Wednesday I had a very important meeting with a person quite high up in psychological therapies. My therapist and counsellor were also present at that meeting.

The first important thing to come out the meeting was a more complete diagnosis. Alongside the psychiatric diagnosis now sits a psychological formulation – “Complex trauma and Dissociation.” - At long last!! That will be sent to my GP as well so it will be on my GP's notes as well as the Community Mental Health Team's notes.

The second thing to come out of it concerned Kathy. I discovered I'm not the only one who has had no care co-ordinator support for seven months. I also discovered I'm not the only one who has been severely impacted by her leaving and how appallingly badly it has been handled. There are other people saying exactly the same things as me. Discovering that changes things for me in that I now have stuff to counter some of the old messages which had been triggered by the trauma.

The third thing to come out of the meeting is a definite concrete commitment to long-term support and therapy. We have another year of therapy confirmed, to be reviewed in 9 months or so with a view to continuing support beyond that, one-to-one and possibly group work.

The fourth thing to come out of it is also a formal commitment to sorting out my mental health support. If Debbie is not back to work in a month's time then my therapist has the authorisation to contact the Community Mental Health Team and force them to provide alternative ongoing support and also provide me with a proper care co-ordinator.

I feel so much better for that meeting.

I came out of it feeling heard, understood, taken seriously and so many other things I cannot find words for.

The dynamic of that meeting was so different from the one with Sarah. It was all about what's going on for me, how everything has affected me and how things can be moved forward on to a better footing.

The meeting changed a lot for me.

It didn't solve all the problems but it removed some of the uncertainties.

I could not continue with things how they were. Seven months with no care co-ordinator has been appalling and it's going to take some time for me to recover and find some belief in the system again. I was very close to cracking. It was only the fact that I had ongoing therapy and counselling which helped keep me going. If my only support had been from the Community Mental Health Team I don't think I would still be here. I can't help but wonder how people with even worse mental health than me have coped.

But at least something is being done about it now! I'm not invisible to the system any more and the system is going to have to account, maybe in a very small way, for it's care or lack of care.

Doing nothing is not going to be an option for them in a few week's time.

Knowing that is an immense relief!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

I WENT DANCING LAST WEEK

I went dancing last week.

Erm, yes, you did read that right!

I WENT DANCING LAST WEEK!


I hadn't danced in 33 years. I'd kept away from places with dance floors, declined invitations to things which might have dancing involved, or if I couldn't do that, stay as far away from the dancing as possible, usually with a camera in hand to give me some reason for not dancing.

It was the Women on Wednesdays (WOW) Pre-Pride Bop last Friday night (9 May), the night before Exeter  Pride. I'd known about the event for a couple of months. As soon as I heard about it I knew I wanted to go. But for me to go to a bop - wow that would be one huge step to take. So I'd been slowly building up the courage to go, reminding myself why I wanted to go and why it was so important to go but also so difficult! I so wanted to go to it, but to go would be so massive!

In the end it was a huge decision to go. I knew it would take me right out of any of my comfort zones. I knew it would be a challenge, I knew I'd find it scary, but I also sensed deep, deep down that I'd enjoy it too.

I've been to a couple of WOW socials so there were a few faces I recognised. I really enjoyed that I was recognised and warmly welcomed by several people. The first 10 minutes or so were filled with awkward small-talk conversation which I find so very difficult then people began arriving in numbers and there were loads more people around and more people for them to go talk to. And I was able to go back to people watching, feeling very shy.

I quite enjoyed sitting with the people I already knew around a small table people watching. I deliberately chose an end seat so I could get up and out of the situation quickly if I needed to. I had conversations with people who spoke to me and still found it difficult to get over my initial shyness and start conversations with people I really don't know. But at an event like that it didn't really matter.

I lost my voice after about the first hour - a combination of fear and having to talk loudly because of the music in the background. When I'm ultra nervous my chest tightens and I lose my voice. So I had to go to the toilet a few times, do some breathing exercises, remind myself why I was there and cough my voice back.

It took me over 2 hours to pluck up the courage and step on to the dance floor. I kind of moved toward it in a way that suggested I knew exactly what I was doing when I didn't. But once I was on the dance floor it was as if 33 years just dropped away and I wasn't scared any more. YES, I was ultra-aware! YES, my radar was up high! YES, I was hyper-alert about messages people were giving out! YES, I was hyper-alert about my own body language.

But that didn't stop me dancing. 

It just meant I knew where my boundaries were and if someone got anywhere near them then I would have a sudden urge to go the toilet and try to climb out the window. 

But that didn't happen. 

I was terrified someone might hit on me and knew if someone did part of me would like it, but the larger part of me would find it terrifying and feel like running away. 

But, thankfully that didn't happen either!

Oh, and guess what?

I enjoyed it.
I enjoyed being on the dance floor.
I did my thing and wasn't too bothered what anyone else thought.
I kept myself safe.
I had fun.
I didn't feel embarrassed or self conscious after a while, after all everyone was doing their own thing!
I felt good about what I did and how I did it.
I felt so alive.

It was a huge achievement going dancing that night and I want to do it again when the next opportunity comes along.

I am so proud of myself for going dancing.

So why was going dancing such a big deal?

Erm, well, where do I start?

Throughout my life whenever anyone has mentioned "dancing" to me I feel a wave of immense shame and embarrassment roll through me. I've never understood why and not really thought what it was about. I didn't want to go there because it was something which made me feel really horrible

So, what's the why's of it?


There were the talent shows I was forced to take part in between the age of approximately 6+9. There were those horrible mini frilly dresses that left nothing to the imagination which I just hated being forced into. And there was the being beaten for not wanting to wear the hated frilly dresses. 

I have an image of me, a pudgy little girl in frilly dresses, sometimes white or yellow or orange or red, my pudgy little arms and legs and my white knickers on show to everyone. 

Then there was that horrible exposed feeling of being forced, pushed on to the big stage with loads of people, mostly men goggling at me and judging me. I just wanted to run away but had to stay there, sing and dance around the stage smiling when all I wanted to do was curl up in the corner and cry. There were so many people who'd reach out up to me and touch my cheeks and say "haven't you got lovely dimples". I wanted to say "no, I haven't", pull my tongue out at them, tell them to go away and run away to a place I could never be found. Instead I had to smile sweetly-sick smiles and allow horrible unwanted touch which felt like such an invasion, and agree that my hated dimples were lovely. I knew I'd only get beaten more for making a fuss and not letting it happen.

There were school discos too. At the end of every school year at Grammar School. Most of my friends were paired off. I wasn't and didn't want to be. I was laughed at for being single and not wanting to be with a boy. I was called many names. Then when I did make it on to the hated dance floor I was laughed at, told I didn't know how to dance, had no sense of rhythm, was clumsy and unco-ordinated. I felt embarrassed, self-conscious and ashamed of my inability to do what everyone else was doing as well as they were doing it. So I went and hid in the toilets for the rest of the disco.

So for me to choose to go somewhere where there was going to be dancing was massive. 

For me to also decide that I was going to be part of the dancing was ginormous. 

For me to actually go and do what I'd made my mind up to do was humongous. 

For me to do it, enjoy it and feel good about what I was wearing, to feel good about my conversation and about my body language was seismic. 

For me to come away from it feeling so good about it and about myself, well, it's deeply astounding and a HUGE step forward for me.

For me to come away and want to do it again is amazing!!

So that's the story of how I went dancing last week and I am so very proud of myself, prouder than there are words for!

It was and is exhilarating! 

To feel so good about myself! 
To feel so good about my body! I'd never have thought it possible!
To feel so good about how I handled myself and the situation! 

Well, what further can I say, I run out of words.

BUT I'm so glad I took the risk and went! It was a huge accomplishment. And a massive step forward for me!




Monday, 28 April 2014

AN UPDATE

I had a knee operation on 1st April and have been recovering during the last four weeks. I'm  just beginning to get back towards normal routine so I thought it was time for an update.

The last month has been an emotional rollercoaster. Some of the stuff that's been challenging for me include being really poorly in reaction to the anaesthetic; taking longer to physically recover than expected; having to cope with nursing care in my flat; coping with not being able to do stuff for myself, including the most basic things; getting news that my CPN is not returning to work after long term absence; my therapist being off sick for 2 months following surgery; working with a temporary therapist in the interim; my therapy being threatened by changes to local mental health team; missing swimming; missing playing pool + all the things that contribute to my everyday wellbeing.

The knee was a partial success in that the knee has been cleaned up and is moving a lot easier. However, the operation revealed underlying osteoarthritis in the knee which wasn't such welcome news and has long term implications.

It's good to be starting to get back to "normal" now and to be finding emotional and psychological energy I've not had since before the op!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

PLAYING POOL

I've been playing pool once a week in a local sports bar for a couple of years now and have made huge strides forward in how I cope with the social aspects of it. I look forward to going now and really miss it when I can't make it. That is huge progress from being terrified about it to enjoying it. It began as something I wanted to do but which also terrified me. Being woman alone in a bar is very daunting. Also, playing a sport which is very much a man's domain was also daunting. It was terrifying all round!! But I've stuck with it and it's now become a really important and enjoyable part of my week.

Last week I had cause to enjoy it even more than usual.

I was coming to the end of my practise time when 2 men came in to the bar and began playing pool on the table next to mine. After about 15 minutes one of them challenged me to play him for money. I declined asserting that I never play for money just for pure love of the game. He then agreed to play me on those terms. His mate said he'd play whoever won.

Well I beat the 1st guy hands down, I played him off the table. He said "I can't believe I just got beat by a woman".  So I went on to play his mate. It came down to the last ball on the table and it was 50-50 who would win. 

He won in the end but said "he couldn't believe how close he'd come to getting beat by a woman" and asked me how I'd learned to play like that.

I told him how I started out in snooker 25 plus years ago and only came to pool 3 years ago. How I bought a 4-foot table for myself 2 years ago, play snooker and pool most days and that I go down the sports bar once a week to play on a full size table.

He was like "respect", put it there, as he shook my hand in disbelief that a woman could play the game so well and take on the men in an even game in the way I did.

I nonchalantly said "well, erm, women can play pool you know".

He said to me "if ever we're in here again and you are here we will play you again for sure, you are good."

There was so much respect coming from thay guy towards me it was breathtaking and very healing to feel so much respect as a woman from a man.

All the while his mate kept saying "I can't believe how close both of us came to being beat by a woman."

Inside I chuckled to myself. I packed up my cue and walked out the bar feeling 12 foot tall!!


Saturday, 8 March 2014

THERAPY UPDATE

My therapist had an operation this week and I won't be seeing her until mid-April.

Throughout January and February in the lead up to her operation and sick-leave I did some very deep work in counselling and therapy. 

There was a lot of abandonment and rejection stuff kicked up which goes back to my tiniest age. I realised that there are many levels of abandonment and rejection in my life and it isn't just about being beaten up and left for dead in the snow by my parents. There were so many different abandonments and rejections throughout my childhood that it's amazing I can function at all.

It was good to be able to sit with my therapist and admit to my struggles with it all. It was very healing to sit her and say that I was not ok with it happening and to be heard, understood and NOT put down.

After my last session with her which was very tough there was a switch inside from anticipating and dreading to accepting it had happened and focusing on battening down the hatches.

Last week I had my first session with my interim therapist. It was hard work. It was very much a "getting to know you session". I still have no idea what work I'm going to do with her but at least I do feel I can work with her.

It helped when she was able to tell me my therapist had come through the operation ok. I feel much more relaxed about her now, knowing it's a question of time and recovery.

None of this has been either easy or comfortable. It's been very hard and very uncomfortable. But also, the first time in my life I have not run away from the uncomfortable strong feelings and fears but have faced them head-on. And that is progress, although very painful, difficult progress!

At the same time I am coping with my CPN being absent from work, since late January with no alternate provision. I'm finding that very hard. I'm hoping she will return to work on 3rd April. She was supposed to be back 3rd March then it got pushed back another month,

It's the not-knowing what is going on and the powerlessness of the situation which feels very tough and difficult to cope with!

MY BIRTHDAY

I approached my birthday this year in February in a totally different way from I have in the past. 

Instead of treating it as a special day which had to be treated differently and coming up against all the stuff from childhood about it I decided to treat it as a normal day but do something different for lunch. And it worked, it worked really well and I felt very different. I had a special lunch at Bella Italia. I dressed smart casual in a shirt and jacket with my jeans and I felt a million dollars.

Throughout the week my birthday was in I fed on the memories of my birthday in Bavaria last year. The memories of people, places, interactions and experiences are very special to me. I felt the sparkle in my eyes and the light it brought to my inner places those memories create.

It's wonderful to have all those memories. And it's fantastic for me to be able to decide to do things slightly differently and wow, what a difference it made.

And then, I had another surprise when a friend invited me to have a birthday dinner with her family the following week. I felt very special eating roast chicken dinner and then when she presented me with a birthday cake with lit candles and a knife I was blown away. It was very precious to me!!

Monday, 3 February 2014

WHAT I FELT 28 YEARS AGO

I wrote the following words on the eve of the 28th anniversary in immense physical and emotional pain. Two days later I experienced a huge release as I spoke them to my therapist.

This is how I felt and what I thought as a 19 year old beat up and abandoned in the snow, left for dead by my parents.

"I didn't want to be alive. I was shattered. I was bewildered. I felt empty and lost. I didn't know what to make of what had happened. I couldn't take it in. I didn't know how on earth I was going to have any kind of life. The pain, the aloneness, the uncertainty, the abandonment, the despair, the shock, the loss - all blew my life apart. All I wanted to be was safe. That was all that mattered now. I was in immense shock, deeply traumatised, battered and bruised. I hoped I'd wake up from the nightmare BUT I was living it - and it was appalling!"

THE 28TH ANNIVERSARY

It was the 28th Anniversary on 28th Jan of the day, or rather, evening, I was beaten up and left for dead in the snow by my parents.

It's always a very tough anniversary but this year it was very tough. There was something very significant about the combination of the number 28. Also the trauma has gradually been getting closer to the surface as I've been working in counselling and therapy in a very reflective way for the last few months getting closer and closer to what actually happened and how it actually felt.

The three weeks leading up to the anniversary were very hard with a huge increase in migraines, nightmares, panic attacks and trauma responses which got worse as the anniversary approached. I also began to experience body memories as I've not experienced them before. 

I could actually feel the kicking my back and backside took back in 1986. Lying in bed I could feel the kicks and feel how my back felt those kicks. It was as if I was getting the beating and the kicking all over. I could feel the kicks, the pain and the bruising. It was very powerful and the pain I experienced over that weekend before the anniversary was extreme. I also found it very hard to sit down for several days. 

The body memories brought stuff to the surface in such a real and raw way that I had to work in a very raw, real, honest and deep way both in counselling and therapy. I've gained deeper understanding of myself and deeper respect for my body through it all!

I've always said that it's always felt like a part of me was still frozen in the snow and frozen in the horror of what happened. As a result of all the work I had to do from the body memories that part of me no longer feels frozen. It's as if I allowed her to revisit the trauma from a safe place and process it in a way she hadn't been able to do before. 

It is a relief to now be in February. I've gotten through a very tough January. I hope that the work I have done throughout the lead up to, during and following the anniversary means that in future it will not be so bad.


Friday, 31 January 2014

CHRISTMAS 2013 TO NEW YEAR

I had a very enjoyable Christmas in a surprisingly mild Austria. I got plenty of snow in the mountains to make up for the lack of it at valley level!

The holiday was very gentle and a mix of the familiar and the new which worked raelly well and helped me with the emotional stresses of that time of year.

Most of my travelling companions were really sociable, friendly and unobtrusive in conversation and I could see changes in how I communicate with people I don't know.  I was aware of increased confidence in my decision making around communicating and dealing with social situations.

I had a fab time enjoying the Christmas markets in Salzburg and coping well with the busy crowds around me. When in the mountains the weather was perfectly sunny giving breathtaking views which gave me wonderful opportunities for photography.

All in all it went very well and I noted changes in how I coped with social and other situations which cause me stress. I realised how much more accepting I am of myself and how I process events around me and could see much progress.

Returning home from the holiday felt very different to how it has in the past. It made a huge difference to me to know that I would be seeing my counsellor on New Year's Eve.  It made a massive difference to me and so I was more relaxed. Having that appointment enabled me to be able to work on some of the difficulties I have negotiating the period between Christmas and New Year.

The counselling appointment helped me reflect on my progress and what I would like to happen in my life during the coming year.

All that enabled me to negotiate that tough time of year more easily than in the past and I feel encouraged by that!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

IT MATTERS COS I MATTER

The last couple of months have been very busy and very hard at times. It's always a tough time of year with lots of difficult dates, memories and body memories, There have been some very hard deep counselling and therapy sessions.

There have also been some very helpful sessions reflecting on the progress I've made. We can all see changes in my thought processes, confidence and reactions.

It's taken a lot of hard work and there is much hard work ahead, But it is fab to pause and recognise how much has changed - it gives me hope for the future.

As I type this I'm mindful of the fact that I leave for my trip to Austria tomorrow for Christmas. I'm REALLY looking forward to Christmas and that is NEW for me!!!

And I have plans in place for New Year. I have those plans in place because of a conversation I had with my CPN. We were discussing New Year and issues around it and I heard myself say "it matters because I matter". We both stopped and looked at each other realising I had just said something massive. It's the first time in my life I've said or thought anything like that about myself and that is MASSIVE!!

I will also be seeing my counsellor on New Year's Eve and that takes enormous pressure of coming home and finding a way to get through New Year.

Things are changing for me and it does me so much good to reflect on those changes as well as acknowledging what sheer hard work and determination have brought them about!!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

MINDFULNESS

I've been introduced to Mindfulness during the last couple of months or so.

Some of it I've not been able to get my head around at all. I particularly find the Mindfulness Bodt Scan very hard to engage with.

But I have found some other aspects of Mindfulness very helpful and useful.

I have a Tibetan Bell app on my tablet PC. It is set to ring every half hour. When it rings it reminds me to breahte deeply for a few seconds. That manages to centre and calm me immensely. Mindful breathing when feeling stressed gives me space to calm and gives me some respite too!!

Being mindful in my activities also helps interrupt the trauma processes in my brain. It has helped me notice my environment more and interact with it in ways which distract and calm too. Noticing things such as squirrels or interacting with dogs in the park has enabled me to begin to enjoy and be less afraid of what is going on around me.

I also love being mindful as I swim. Feeling how my body moves through the water helps me create a safe space for myself as I swim and helps me keep calm.

To start with I put myself under a lot of pressure to regularly do mindful breathing exercises which was counter productive.

I've gradually relaxed with it over time and am now happy to do it when it crosses my mind to do so and enjoy the moments of respite it gives me. I'be found that works a lot better for me!


Monday, 26 August 2013

1ST ANNIVERSARY OF MY FATHER'S DEATH

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my father's death.
 
I took myself out for the day to a local tourist attraction where there are loads of animals and really fun and interesting stuff to do. I've been there before and had promised myself a trip there this summer but hadn't managed to.
 
I had a lovely day meeting the animals, getting hands on with many animals, feeding them and having fun being so close with them. It brought out the gentle, nurturing side of my personality and was fun! My day also included 2 falconry + birds of prey displays, watching goat walking (which was hilarious when one got free and had loads of fun dodging everyone who tried to catch it!), ferret racing and going on the deer train to get up close and very personal to deer and llamas.
 
I took a shed load of photos of the day and the weather was very kind to me. I had a goat attempt to eat the top of one sleeve of my t-shirt while I petted his mate!! I got chased by a gaggle of geese. I was followed very closely by 2 gorgeous white ponies as I walked around their large pen - I think they were unconvinced that I really had run out of food for them - I had 2 other bags in my rucksack which they must have been able to smell but of course I wanted to share the food around all the animals there!
 
It was a wonderful day. It was so much fun. I really enjoyed myself although the shadow of what the day was hung around me throughout.
 
The night before wasn't very wonderful - it was awful actually!
 
When I woke that morning I felt so rough I didn't want to face the world.
 
As I headed home to watch the snooker I'd recorded throughout the day I knew I was going home to face my pain, grief and loss too!
 
And today is very hard too!!
 
There are 3 aspects to anniversaries that I've discovered this year - there is the build up, the preparation I need to do beforehand in order to get through the anniversary - there is the day itself which has to be got through as well as possible - and then there is the reaction to it, which tends to be the hardest aspect of all!
 
I had prepared myself well for this anniversary. During the 3 weeks leading up to it I worked hard in therapy and counselling on what issues came up and needed addressing about my father, what he did and so on.
 
The day itself I was determined to give myself as much fun and gentle activity as possible so it could go as well as possible. I was also determined to give myself, as far was possible, some really good memories.
 
And now I am dealing with reaction which may take quite a while to settle down. But that's ok. I expect it will settle in time for me to be able to head off on my trip to the French Alps in a couple of weeks or so in a more settled place, emotionally and psychologically!
 
The big difference for me is now that I recognise those three stages and I accept them rather than give myself a hard time over it all!

And that makes the BIGGEST difference of all and really helps my healing processes!!





IT'S BEEN A WHILE

It's been a while since I've been able to post anything due to a combination of computer problems, exhaustion and all else that's been going on in my healing journey during the last couple of months.

At long last the computer problems seem to be solved and I'm in a place where I can pause and catch breath.

I've been very busy in therapy and counselling going deeper in to the abuse than I ever thought possible and going deeper in to the belief systems about myself that formed and the effects on the abuse involving every aspect of my life.

It's been very tiring but also very rewarding work! Not easy, to the contrary very hard to do but by doing the hard work of going to those really hard places has made it easier for me on all sorts of levels.

I've also begun doing some mindfulness work which is slowly impacting on my daily life and making a difference to how I am. Even if for only a few seconds a day I'm able to have respite then it's worth it!

On the issue of Dissociative Identity Disorder I had a really HUGE breakthrough!!

 It was a week or so ago that I was reading a discussion on Facebook about whether integration was necessary for healing to happen. I read this discussion and suddenly thought actually there is a third way that I have discovered for myself in my healing and that it not about integration but acceptance and communication.

As I have slowly learned to accept, appreciate and care for my child parts huge healing has taken place. The more loved, accepted and soothed my many child parts are the better I am. The more I communicate with them the more settled they feel and the easier life is for me. What I've discovered is to live in relationship with them, communicating with them, looking out for them, protecting them and loving them the best I can. As that's happened my child parts have begun to feel happier. My child parts have begun to look out for each other. And I feel very different. I don't feel at war with myself as I had done for all of my life. It has made a MASSIVE difference to us all!!!

And in danger of making a HUGE understatement - that breakthrough has made and continues to make a GREAT BIG difference to how I feel from day to day!



Friday, 19 July 2013

DEALING WITH TRAUMA

The last two weeka have been very traumatic for me and I am just starting to recover, hopefully a calm, quiet weekend will continue to soothe and enable my recovery.

I was very traumatised by 2 events outside of my control and this time last week was in a place of total overwhelm. I seriously self harmed and came close to slitting one of my wrists.

It was a very tough time but the support I've had from my counsellor and therapist has been superb. I've been able to pick apart, step by step, what processes I go through when I am traumatised, shut down, disassociate and self harm.

Through doing this work that we've been able to work out the points at which an intervention could interrupt the auto-pilot trauma response.

It has also enabled me to better understand what is happening for me and why and to accept and value the ways in which my mind, in particular, has helped me cope with past and present trauma.

I am beginning to do some mindfulness and self-compassion work with a Mental Health Recovery Worker which, it is hoped, will help interrupt the trauma response and enable me to eventually live at a lower level of overall stress from day to day. Just 5-minutes of mindfulnesswork with my worker were very eye-opening for me in showing me how my brain flitters about at break-neck speed.

So although I could have done without the trauma of the last 2-weeks the support I've had has helped me understand the processes involved and look at strategies for managing past, current and future trauma events in my life.

BIG DENTAL PROGRESS

I had to visit the dentist today and it was daunting going knowing it would involve preparation of a chipped tooth for a crown and then doing a 2-stage impression.

Impressions have always been a source of major trauma as I cannot cope with someone putting something in my mouth without seriously gagging.

So today felt very daunting and I was really stressed when I arrived. But I was to be amazed at how well the appointment went.

She was able to give me and injection, work on the tooth and to the impression all without my gagging. I lay in the chair focusing on my breathing and counting in my head amazed and flabbergasted that I was NOT gagging at all.

It shows that the hard work I've been doing in counselling and therapy has paid off and some huge healing has happened.

I enjoyed how good it felt not to be gagging and in trauma but calmly lying there counting and breathing. Wow, it felt so good!!!!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

FATHER'S DAY 2013

I had no idea what Father's Day was going to be like this year with it being the first one since his death last summer.

It turned out to be a very intense day. The week leading up to it and the week afterwards were equally intense. I was in a world of deep trauma and pain and was dissociated pretty much throughuot that time.

I also experienced a new phenomena dissociating in my sleep. I've experienced waking up dissociated which is always difficult and confusing but sleeping dissociated was new to me and utterly exhausting - physically and psychologically.

On some levels Father's Day this year was easier than in the past but in many other ways it was far harder.

My emotions have always been very mixed when it comes to my father. Among all the hurt and trauma of what he and what he did there was also relief that he is now dead and cannot hurt or be involved in the hurt of anyone ever again.

That relief was very intense and helped ease the world of hurt I was in. However, I also had some feelings of betrayal. I felt I was betraying my father by feeling so good about the fact he is dead. I then reminded myself of how much he had betrayed me which helped balance things out a bit. I still had that niggling feeling of betrayal though. I mentioned it to my therapist last week. Her comment was "he betrayed you, you wouldn't be human if you didn't relief that he can't hurt or betray anyone else, you have full permission to feel relieved and happy that he is dead and cannot hurt anybody!"

That helped me a lot and I've been working on allowing me to feel that relief and not beating myself up about it.

I had a massage the day following Father's Day. I was in a world of hurt and totally disconnected from my body. The massage helped bring me back, I found it very comforting. That is the first time I've felt that during massage. The gentle comfort I felt helped me reconnect with my body and I left the massage feeling more connected with myself.

Allowing myself to feel comforted and to allow myself to stay in that feeling was a totally new experience for me.

The odd feeling I also had about being, in effect, an orphan, although my parents are still alive but don't want to acknowledge my existence was always very hard and painful. On Father's Day knowing that my father is alive and does not want to even acknowledge he has a daughte was always a very horrible feeling. But now he is dead that perspective to Father's Day has gone. That in itself is a massive relief!

So moving on from Father's Day, fully acknowledging the pain and trauma but also the new life I am building for me, is helping me with the hurt every day. Nothing will ever fill the gap of never having been fathered. But thank goodness I can truly say I am fatherless now, without thinking "hmm that's not totally true" while at the same time being the true situation of my life. That always felt weird!

Spiritually speaking I have a growing relationship with my Safe Daddy and I love being His little girl. And that makes all the difference in the world to me!


Thursday, 13 June 2013

THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS

The last couple of months have been quite a journey for me. It's been mostly a happy time in spite of having to work through some tough issues.

Mid May saw me in Austria on a luxury coach holiday paid for by my criminal injuries compensation. It was an incredible week of creating wonderful memories. It was also challenging in some ways.

The social meal times are always a difficult time for me. I was blessed to share my meal times on this holiday with some lovely caring people who were non intrusive at the same time. They were also incredibly gentle. I found myself sitting next to a man in his mid 30's who was very gentle in manner and speech.

To begin with I felt absolutely terrified and unsure how to communicate with him but as the week went on I got more confidence and enjoyed our conversations over dinner which were mostly filled with sport, football being the main recurring theme! By the end of the holiday I was quite sad as I realised how much I'd enjoyed his company and how much confidence I had gained as a result. I really appreciated his very gentle spirit and the gentle way in which he spoke. It was really good for me to find that I could hold my own in conversations at the dinner table and to also find that meal times could be fun and not an endurance event!

The weather during the week was absolutely fabulous and I felt very privileged to be in the Alps in early summer and to be able to see the Alps in such glorious perfect weather! I particularly enjoyed on the final day wandering the hiking trails around the village where we stayed and photographing the carpets of wild flowers. At one point I lay down on the grass between two carpets of flowers and enjoyed the aroma and the freedom I felt. I've rarely felt that free in life!

Our visit to Salzburg was on the hottest day of the week and I was able to enjoy and photograph the breathtaking vistas from the fortress which I couldn't see Christmas 2006 because of fog. I struggle to find words for the trip we made to Hitler's Eagle's Nest mountain hideaway. The drops were terrifying and the views awe inspiring. To be so high up in the mountains with such incredible views of mountains as far as the eye could see was an incredible feeling. To be where Hitler once was, to stand where Hitler once stood, was a very strange feeling. It was an unforgettable experience of many mixed emotions.

The group I travelled with were mostly very kind, hospitable people who were a joy to be around. The only word I can find for how I feel about being able to have that holiday is "privileged", very privileged indeed!

Once home I had a lot of issues to process in counselling and therapy as well as celebrating the progress I've made too!

It is challenging to realise that people do like my company, want to be around me and value what I have to say and me as I am.

That goes against all the overt and implied messages I had throughout my childhood that no one would ever want to be around me and that I have nothing of value to give or to say.

The holiday to Austria continued what has begun through my Christmas trips and my birthday trip earlier this year to Germany. I now have solid evidence that I cannot explain away and it's so appropriate that it has come as a result of the compensation. Such experiences are challenging but also very healing, if I will allow them to be and stop arguing them away!

We're getting back to working on some really serious issues and I am facing and feeling for the first time the very real and consistent degradation I experienced throughout the first twenty years of my life. It's tough work which is taking a lot out of me but it's also a relief to finally, after all these years, get back to that stuff in a safe supportive environment. I said yesterday that I survived it against all the odds so I can survive going back to it now even though it feels so overwhelming at times!

Friday, 10 May 2013

SINCE EASTER

The last few weeks since Easter seem to have totally flown by. Such a lot has happened in that time! I've been dealing with a lot of dissociation and deep trauma. There has been some self-harm but there's also been new coping strategies I've been adopting.

Therapy wise I've been making massive progress. I've been able to talk about some really deep, degrading aspects of the abuse in ways I'd never have thought possible. The kind of stuff I never ever thought I'd ever tell another human being! And I've amazed myself at my ability to trust my therapist with some of the most degrading and shameful aspects of the abuse. I've also been able to allow my therapist to hug me a couple of times after particularly traumatic sessions. And I've been able to refuse hugs that she has offered which I couldn't cope with. Having that 'no' respected and accepted has been huge. It's been great to be able to say 'no' and to learn I have the right to say 'no'. But also being able to say 'yes' and to allow those healing hugs has been HUGE for me!

In my counselling sessions I've also been addressing some tough material. We've been doing visual stuff as well as talking, I had one week doing sand therapy in a sand tray which was very powerful. This week I was lying on the floor with felt tip pens and huge bits of paper pouring out words, thoughts and feelings. Whenever I do anything that's visual in any way it has a powerful impact on me. I've also done some really good work with my child parts. I find that if my little ones are comforted, soothed, doing ok it makes a huge difference to how I feel. We've also introduced some grounding techniques to help with the dissociation. I've also begun to come to sessions with ideas on how I'd like to work on something and she has welcomed that input from me. My counsellor said to me "I love it when you take control or bring ideas".

And now I'm packing up for my next holiday funded by my Criminal Injuries Compensation. I leave for Austria early tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to seeing the Alps in late Spring/early summer rather than in their winter covering of snow. I'm also looking forward to returning to Innsbruck and Salzburg to tick off things I wanted to do on previous visits to those places but didn't have time to. I'm excited about going to some new parts of Austria too.

I'm both excited and anxious about the holiday, excited as to what adventures lie ahead of me during the next week or so but also anxious as to what the people I'll be travelling with will be like. I hope they'll be friendly and hospitable without being intrusive.

And so to the next adventure!!!


Saturday, 20 April 2013

GETTING THROUGH EASTER



Getting through Easter was really overwhelming this year. I wasn’t able to prepare myself for Easter at all because I’d had so much processing to do following my birthday and all the wonderful and challenging things that happened during the holiday. I also had a lot of shock and trauma to process in the aftermath of the police banging my door down and warning me about what I post on the internet about my abusers. I tried to prepare myself as well as I could for Easter but knew I wasn’t in as good a place as I wanted to or would have liked to be in when it came.


Easter itself passed in a haze, my memories of it are very fragmented which suggests to me that I was very dissociated through it. I remember going out on Good Friday to see what state the putting course was in but it was so brutally cold I was back home in under an hour. I also remember going out on Easter Day for the annual duck race, treating myself to a pizza and then an ice cream on the seafront in the icy wind. I remember being handed my ice cream and seeing a mini egg on the top of it. I commented on it and the guy serving me said “well, you can’t have Easter without an egg.” 

I smiled and nodded and turned away as I flashbacked to Easter 1975 when I was 9 and I was given the only Easter egg I had as a child. 


I was reminded of that egg which came from my godfather while my brother and I were staying with my godparents and their children. Our parents had left us with them and gone to a hotel for the Easter weekend. 


It was the last Easter my godfather was alive. He was dead from a massive heart attack a few weeks before Easter 1976. 


I remember the glint in his eye when he gave me the Easter egg. It came with conditions attached - to submit to his sexual abuse and rape of me together with his own daughter. It wasn’t a nice Easter. To be honest, it was a very horrible Easter. I’ve always vaguely remembered it with the Easter egg being most vivid in the memory. That’s probably because it was the only one I had as a child and maybe because I didn’t want to engage with what else happened. 


With the flashback following that innocent comment by the ice-cream seller meant I had to face the details in a way I never have done and process them as best I could to be able to enjoy the duck race and feel safe with myself. But I realise I was considerably dissociated as a result. But I got through the day with relief knowing I had something to look forward to.


During the run up to Easter I had investigated whether it would be possible to stay in a hotel but the prices were astronomic. I had though managed to book a couple of days immediately after the Easter weekend. The knowledge of that little break I had booked also helped me through Easter. 


Another reason I had for booking that break was that my therapist and counsellor were both on leave the week after Easter. Once I knew that I had to do something because I knew it was going to be very hard coping with Easter and the following week without my usual support network in place.


I enjoyed my short break and was very glad I had arranged it as I wasn’t in a good place while I was away. I was experiencing a lot of trauma. My sleep was very disrupted and I was experiencing extended periods of dissociation. So I was very glad I was away those couple of days, doing things I enjoy. It helped me through a very difficult week which felt like one long hard slog.


I’m very pleased to have reached a place where the dust is beginning to settle over Easter. Now I am preparing myself for the trip to Austria I have booked mid-May using my compensation. The itinerary is fantastic. It’s good that I’m beginning to look forward to it and feel excited about it. That means my emotions are doing better than they have been.