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.

Friday, 28 January 2011

SURVIVING JANUARY


Well I’ve navigated through another January. 

January has always been a difficult month for me. I think it’s a combination of reaction to Christmas and memories and reminders of the day my parents nearly killed me and disowned me.

The reaction to Christmas is both surprising and interesting. I’ve been able to transform what was a horrible almost unbearable time of year to one that I plan for and look forward to most of the year. When I realised I was still having a reaction to Christmas, in spite of the amazing times I have in the Alps now, I was extremely surprised and confused. I thought “what’s going on? I thought I’d be ok now but there’s still a reaction”. It’s like a delayed reaction. Although I go away now and have good times I get reminded of why it is I do Christmas like that. 

There are reminders while I’m away exploring the mountains alone and seeing other people having fun together. There are reminders during the social moments of these trips when the inevitable questions come up about family and how come you come away on holiday on your own? 

I’ve discovered that no matter how happy I make these times for myself I cannot escape my past and that’s one reason why healing is so important to me now - so that I can deal with those social situations without such intense pain.

I try not to remember the Christmasses I spent as a child and teenager walking the streets looking in on other people’s happy Christmasses with intense loneliness and envy. But the memories are there. My body remembers too just how cold it was out on the streets, trying to keep moving to stop from freezing to death. When I remember I shiver just as intensely as I did all those years ago. I hate the fact that Christmas is such a tough time because of the abuse and rejection of my family. I just keep on hoping I can manage to find the money each year to go away so I can have a Christmas.

January is always a tough month because it’s full of memories of the final January I spent in the abusive home. It’s full of memories of how the violence escalated during that month until my parents put me in a position of ‘kill or be killed’. The violence was so extreme. So was their rejection of me when they realised I was no longer prepared to be used and abused by them. I can never forget how empty I felt lying in the snow, on the one hand realising it was all over, but on the other that I was alone now and it was up to me and to me alone to survive, to stay alive, to live without any support from family.

This January’s been all the more poignant because the end of the month is the 25th anniversary of being beaten, left for dead and disowned by my parents. 

I’m astounded that I’m still alive to be honest. I’m astounded that it took me nearly 25 years to find the courage to speak out about what they did to me. I’m astounded that I’ve taken the HUGE step of changing my name. I’m astounded that I’m beginning to think about having a future now.

I grieve the loss of my childhood.

I grieve all my life has been because of the abuse.
I grieve all they took away from me - being able to have relationships, marry, kids, career.
I grieve the loss of my physical, mental and emotional health.
I grieve all that my life has not been because of the abuse.
I grieve all the lost years in my life; all that my life could have been that wasn't.
I grieve the rejection, abandonment, isolation and solitude.
I grieve the fact that I was never loved, wanted, accepted or affirmed.
I grieve for the child I never was and the adult I've struggled to be. 

The abuse took so much from me, the list is endless.

What drives me now is damage limitation and the determination to reach the point where I can say “they destroyed only part of my life not all of it”. Up to this point it’s been a case of “they destroyed my entire life”. BUT no more, I’m determined to heal. I’ve had enough of the damage in my life.

I know I’ve got a very long way to go but I’ve begun now and I’m determined to do whatever it takes to heal.

Changing my name was the beginning of establishing my identity as ‘ME’. I’m not sure who I am but I know I like the person I am becoming. 

For the first time in my life I’m thinking positively about myself and the future and that is awesome especially as I’m hurtling towards 45. As I approach that milestone I’m able to acknowledge that the worst is probably behind me now. There is also the hope that things can only get better from now. 

At least that’s the hope I carry now I’ve embarked on the very long road towards healing. At least I have hope now, however tentative, and that’s amazing!!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

HEALTH ISSUES

On Thursday 14th January 2011 I was diagnosed with diabetes. 

The diagnosis has been creeping up on me. 

Several years ago I was diagnosed with Impaired Fasting Glycaemia and have had regular tests keeping an eye on it Over time the test results have gradually gotten worse and particularly during the last few months. Both my ex-parents have diabetes so my risks factors for the illness were much higher . The sustained stress of the last few months has caused my blood sugars to fluctuate wildly so there was a certain inevitability of the diagnosis eventually coming. I hoped I’d keep dodging the bullet but things have caught up with me.

For most people a diagnosis of diabetes means making changes to their diet to make it more healthy and adding in some exercise to help bring the diabetes under control. But for me that is complicated by several factors.

Firstly I have ME/CFS which has severely restricted my life for the last 9 years. I used to walk miles before that diagnosis, now I hardly walk at all because my energy levels and stamina are very poor. It also means I do not have energy to prepare and cook meals and rely on stuff I can just put in the oven and microwave. That makes healthy eating a big challenge to begin with!

Secondly I have 2 eating disorders which add to the challenges of healthy eating. The eating disorders have no doubt contributed to the diabetes and make bringing the diabetes under control a massive problem. The eating disorders are deeply enmeshed not only in issues related to the abuse I survived but also in how food was used to abuse, manipulate and control me. Throughout my life I’ve had a very poor relationship with food. I never grew up with regular healthy meals. That concept has been a very difficult one for me to grasp throughout my life.

When my Doctor said to me that with the diagnosis came the need to lose weight I told her losing weight is fraught with huge issues for me. For a start I’ve always been fat. I’ve always been overweight. I was a fat baby, a fat toddler, a fat child, a fat adolescent and a fat adult. That is how I’ve always been. There are many factors involved in that. Over the years health professionals have tried to get me to lose weight and put me on various diets but every time I’ve ended up worse that I was before I went on the diet because it's not a simple issue of losing weight. There are many factors involved. Each time I ended up feeling like a total failure.  

I don't know how you reverse an entire lifetime of being fat and overweight. I’d love to be nice and slim, but life’s never been like that for me. I have huge issues about my body, weight being just one of them.

To be honest I've so many other things going on at the moment that the last thing I need to happen is to be guilt tripped or to feel like a failure or feel bad about myself because I cannot conform to regimes to control my weight, diet and diabetes. 

I’m just beginning therapy to begin to deal with the abuse and the issues surrounding it. I know I have several years of therapy ahead of me. I know my issues with food are deeply  linked to the abuse and are not going to be solved overnight or quickly. 

I know my poor physical and mental health has its roots in the abuse and trauma – asthma, high blood pressure, ME/CFS, long term chronic depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD, DID, BPD – these are all stress/trauma related. Diabetes also has factors related to stress as well as genetics and diet. 

I’m under no doubt that the sustained stress of my life and the events of the last few months have contributed to the fact I now have diabetes.

I know solving any of the issues that caused these illnesses in the first place is going to be long and complex.

It is not going to be easy or straightforward. The diabetes cannot be treated in isolation to all the other factors in my life. The only way any of the health related issues – physical or mental - can be successfully treated is by treating me as a whole person – not just a diabetic – not just someone with PTSD/BPD/DID – not just someone with high blood pressure – not just someone with long term chronic depression. I'm someone who’s been severely traumatised by life events and has several physical and mental health problems because of that trauma.

When the Doctor spoke about the importance of a healthy diet and losing weight she used language about having a healthy future. I had to stop her at that point because she was not in touch with where I’m at or what I’ve gone through. 

I’m still trying to figure out whether I have a life worth living. I’m still trying to figure out whether I have a future at all. My entire life until the last few months has been about merely existing, staying alive for the sake of staying alive. It’s been about surviving for the sake of surviving. It’s not been about living.

The whole point of me speaking out and beginning therapy is to change all that, but that is going to take time. 

I know that with diabetes the sooner diet etc are sorted out the better the long term prospects are. But I have so many issues going on and so many other things to sort out first before diet/healthy eating and so on can be addressed. I know that as issues related to the abuse and to how food was used in that abuse are faced and worked through it MAY be possible to resolve the deep seated long term eating disorders. Work like that is not quick or easy or guaranteed.

I don’t know how the diabetes is going to be brought under control in these circumstances. I’m still reeling from the diagnosis and its implications for my life. I do not know how a way forward can be found; just that one must be somehow. The solutions are not simple and simplistic ways of trying to address the issues will not resolve the problems or create a way through.
 
The way ahead is not easy but then life has never been easy for me, anything but. To be honest this diagnosis was the last thing I needed at this point in my life. It’s come at the worst possible time. And that’s where I’m at.


Saturday, 15 January 2011

CHANGING NAMES


On Wednesday 12th January 2011 I applied to have my name changed by Deed Poll.

It’s going to take time for the paperwork and everything else in my life to catch up with that. But I have begun the process to change from my current name to a new one.

The day I’d set aside to begin the process and apply for the Deed Poll was a very hard day which I had to take gently and in stages as I felt the enormity of what I'm doing in changing my name.

I began feeling totally overwhelmed at what I was going to do. I felt the hurt and pain of the total rejection of my family which I'm formalising by rejecting the name they gave me and starting over. Then I was able to think more clearly about it and think about the pro's and con's. 

Eventually I was able to see it for the positive thing it is. 

But what a process I went through to get there!! 

It was really strange at Christmas travelling as "Helen Nicholson" because “Helen” is my first name and what's on my passport. I do not relate to that person at all. I don't know who she is. I am no longer her. She kept the family secrets and the family code as did “Fiona Nicholson”, the name I was always known by. I guess that’s why I no longer relate to either of those names and need to change to an entirely new name. I realised yesterday that was an untenable situation and I couldn't face travelling as "Helen Nicholson" again. For me that’s as good a reason as any to change my name. 

The hurt and pain of knowing your family, your own parents and brother never accepted you, never loved you, dumped you and left you for dead is hard. The hurt and pain of knowing your family, your own parents and brother will never love you, acknowledge you and accept you is very hard. There are no words for how that feels! By changing my name I’m acknowledging that fact and formalising that estrangement/divorce. 

I hope to have the Deed Poll within about a week, but I will need to get it signed, witnessed and then sent back for them to lodge an electronic version of it and send me all the legal copies I requested. I'm hoping by the end of January to have the paperwork sorted. Once I have the Deed Poll all legal I'll be changing Facebook accounts and email addresses as well as moving and establishing my “You Can Fly With Broken Wings” blog to a new URL under my new name. I already have new business cards printed. It's all exciting but daunting stuff!!

In changing my name not only am I cutting my final tie with that toxic abusive family – the name they gave me – but I’m also saying “this is me, this is who I am”. I am no longer the person they made me to be or told me I was. I don’t even identify with that person.

I am sticking close to my roots by my choice of surname because the name I’ve chosen is part of my Scottish ancestry. My choice of first name doesn’t have any links back to abuse or trigger any bad stuff for me.

Identity is still a big issue with me as it is for anyone with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Choosing a new name for myself is the beginning of establishing my real identity.

It is the beginning of starting to define who I consider ‘ME’ to be. It is the beginning of getting to know who I really am under all the layers of hurt, trauma, false guilt, beyond the foggy confusion that the lies of my abusers created within me.

I am ME, whoever ‘ME’ is and I like ‘ME’ too, even if I can’t always figure out who or what ‘ME’ is!!! 

There is so much to changing my name and so many reasons why I'm doing it. The transition is difficult but I'll be much happier once I've made that transition.

THE CPS LETTER

I finally got to read the letter from the Crown Prosecution Service on Monday 10th January 2011.

As my worker passed it to me I commented that it feels like I’ve lived through several lifetimes since that letter dropped on to my doormat at the end of September last year.

Opening it was a surreal feeling.

I knew that it was going to hard to read. I knew I was going to experience very powerful emotions. I knew it was going to hurt. I also knew it was something I had to do. If I’d never opened that letter I’d have spent the rest of my life wondering what was in it, what would it have been like if I had opened it? To be honest my life is full of ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’, I don’t need any more!!

I’m not short of courage but taking possession of that letter and opening it was the hardest thing I’ve done for a while. Seeing it in black and white was always going to formalise the uncomfortable and unbelievable truth – the CPS had failed in their duty to bring my abusers to justice and no amount of explanation was going to help or change that.

Yes the CPS letter was very hard reading and triggered a load of stuff.

They're basically saying that because I could not remember every single tiny little detail of every single little thing that happened 20-35 years ago the evidence was unreliable and considered inadmissible in court. There are other things in it too BUT that's the main thrust of it.

That just makes me so angry, it is just so unrealistic.

I feel like yelling at the top of my voice "just because I can't remember every tiny little detail does not mean it did not happen"... “Just because I can’t remember every tiny detail does not mean it has not affected my life because it has devastated it... “Just because I can’t remember every tiny detail does not mean this decision has not affected me because it has – it has totally shattered me.”

My worker gave me a crash course in how the judicial system works and said the CPS always struggle with cases like these because they aren't neat and tidy and don't tick their boxes and that is why so few historic abuse cases ever make it to court. She said she's witnessed police officers have show downs with the CPS over decisions and crumple at the way in which they treat cases like mine. She said to me "if police officers can feel betrayed by CPS decisions then you're entitled to feel that way too". It is cold, it is clinical and it is unrealistic. She also said "when cases like yours are treated like this it does leave everyone involved feeling what is the point?" My worker said “it's not just you feeling betrayed and let down” which was comforting to know and validated how I'm feeling.

So yeah it's been a really difficult time reading that. It triggered all the stuff about not being believed, minimising things, not feeling validated or my experience being recognised. It triggered all the “it’s not fair” and “it’s all wrong” stuff.

The biggest thing it did was to formalise that “there’s no justice” situation. That is eating away at my insides. Maybe it’s something that only time can help with.