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, 14 December 2012

I WAS ANGRY WITH MY THERAPIST



During the last few weeks I have experienced something new which has thrown up some very interesting and hard issues. I got angry with my therapist and expressed that anger towards her.


That was seismic!! It was massive!!


I’ve always been scared of my anger because of the powerful energy it contains. I’ve also been scared about my anger because of the destructive and violent ways in which I experienced anger being expressed throughout my childhood. 


In my relationships I keep any anger towards the person strictly to myself and avoid expressing it because of my fears around rejection and so on. 


So for me to be angry towards someone and also to express that anger to them in a very clear way was a totally new experience for me. 


Before this happened I had had three sessions with my therapist talking about my anger about the abuse and its effects upon my life. I had done some very expressive art work and thought I’d processed a lot to do with the anger and so was ok with it. 


I was wrong. Yes I had processed a lot but in all honesty had only just begun exploring it. The anger continued simmering away under the surface until a sequence of events caused it to explode out.


It was a very bizarre sequence of events involving major tooth problems for me which led to me having to cancel a therapy appointment - my therapist being ill which led to her cancelling an appointment at very short notice - plus several other factors which all combined together to bring my anger very raw and full of energy right to the surface.


Everything exploded out during a very difficult phone conversation with my therapist. That was followed by several text messages on both sides attempting to calm things down.


I struggled to deal with how I felt about being angry. I was struggling with how strongly I had reacted and how unfair I felt I was being towards my therapist. I struggled with the fear that my therapist was really angry with me and maybe wouldn’t want to carry on working with me. It was very raw painful stuff.


Another factor is that it’s also still very new for me to feel. No longer am I in a numb place. So I am experiencing feelings at very extreme levels and don’t seem able to regulate my feelings and reactions.


The following week I was sick with anxiety going to my therapy appointment. It was one of those situations where I knew I had to face it otherwise it would have gotten far harder to deal with.


What came out of it all was the realisation that my therapist is NOT going to reject me because I was angry towards her. Also my therapist is NOT going to make things difficult for me because of it either. The relationship continues intact with very open communication on both sides about what happened and how we both felt about it. 


In addition I discovered that I can be angry and express that anger in constructive non-violent and non-abusive ways.


It was a HUGE learning experience for me. There is still part of me waiting for something bad to happen because of it and it is very disorientating that only good stuff is happening because of the events that occurred.


It’s all been immensely traumatic and also strangely positive.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

POTTERY GROUP - UPDATE

For various reasons I will not now be going ahead with the pottery group. 

When I agreed to give the group a go my gut intuition was putting the brakes on and telling me it wasn't right for me. I tried to ignore my gut intuition but on being reminded that my gut intuition can always be relied upon I decided to pay attention to what it was telling me and try to figure out why.

While I was in the process of figuring that out my Rethink worker left her post. Rethink currently have a staffing crisis in Exmouth and only have one male worker there now. As there was no female worker available for me I am now without support from Rethink. 

However, had that not happened I would still have not gone ahead with the group. 

While I was trying to work out why I was getting the message not to do the group I remembered when I was having massage on alternate Tuesday mornings and then having counselling in the afternoon. I remembered that it wore me out and I was glad I was only having to do that alternate weeks. Thinking about the pottery group being in a morning every week I realised that I just is not physically possible for me to do that.

The counselling is much more important to me than a pottery group would have been.  So it made sense to ditch the pottery group and prioritise my counselling. Having made that decision my counselling sessions have had to be moved to my counsellor's private practice in Exeter because of difficulties getting room bookings at Quiet Mind. As that involves a train journey and extra time with the travelling I realised all the more that the decision not to go ahead with the pottery group was the right one.

So all those things combined to show it just was not the right time for me to do the group. Once I'd taken the decision not to go ahead with the group my gut intuition relaxed and no longer sent out the warning signs it had been sending out to me! Good old gut intuition!!

Friday, 16 November 2012

NAVIGATING TOUGH ANNIVERSARIES

Getting through late October into early November is always really tough for me and takes a lot out of me. How I managed this year highlights how much progress I've made.

One reason why it's a tough time of year for me is the existence of several anniversaries on top of each other
  • 27 Oct was my late father's birthday [he would have been 80 this year which made it bigger especially as he died late August this year] He was still my biological father alongside the terrible abuse and cruelty he meted out to me. He abused me as 'Mr nice guy' as well as 'Mr mean guy' which was very confusing at the time and is still really confusing and hard to get my head around. I'm glad he is dead though and is no longer able to abuse or hurt another child and cannot be involved in arranging to abuse or hurt any children. It's very hard to say and think those things about your own father, but it is the truth and it's so important these days to clearly state the truth. No more lies, only truth!!
  • 31 Oct is halloween, a very tough date for survivors of SRA as are a few days leading up to it and following it. I really struggle with the spiritual atmosphere that's around during that week or so. It's a very horrible energy! Memories and flashbacks of the rituals I was forced to be part of are really hard too!
  • 1 Nov is my brother's birthday [he would have been 50 this year which made it even bigger] I find it very hard to imagine him at the age of 50 as in my mind's eye he is still the lanky 22 year old that I last saw him when I was 19 and beaten up, disowned and left for dead by my parents. I haven't seen him since. It's extremely sobering to know what a dangerous individual he is. Although I know I did all I could to safeguard others from him I still feel it was not enough. The police just did not grasp what sort of an individual they were dealing with! I find it very hard to accept I have a brother who is such a damaged and dangerous individual. Although it is not my responsibility I do feel some responsibility for how he has turned out – and that is very bizarre indeed. I think it's a case of he is my brother when it's all said and done and he always will be my brother – biologically – it's tough to have such an evil sibling! It's also really hard to face that fact that I have a brother who was never a brother to me and never will be a brother to me. It's really good though that I'm able to begin to see him for the person he real is and always was. All abusers are cowards deep down, they just don't want you to realise that because unless you do they will always have the power over you. That's what I think anyway!
  • 2 Nov is the anniversary of my grandfather's death in 1992 [so this year was the 20th anniversary which made it feel really big] As one of my biggest abusers the world is a better place without him in it, although it is very hard and painful to acknowledge and say it. It's very hard that I have no happy memories attached to him, only bad ones. But it is very healing to state clearly that he was one of my biggest abusers!
  • 5 Nov is Bonfire night which had very bad connotations in childhood and was also when I found out about my grandfather's death in 1992 after having been out to a firework display. I came back home after a firework display on 5 Nov 1992 to the phone ringing. I had the feeling it had been ringing all evening. It was my mother informing me that my grandfather had dropped dead from his 5th heart attack and his funeral was the next day on 6 Nov 1992. She also informed me that she'd arranged for a wreath to be there from me and was asking me for the money for it. I was so angry that she had assumed. Given the choice I would never have sent flowers or any kind of message from me to his funeral. She was at her most manipulative. I argued with her but in the end caved in. The only way to get her off the phone was to reluctantly and against my wishes agree to send a cheque which I could not afford to send. Thank goodness for the tinned food I had in the cupboard!! I was so angry at myself for caving in. I was also very angry with her for what she did. Every Bonfire night since has tainted with the memories from childhood and of what I returned home to following that firework display that night. The 20th anniversary of it this year made it much tougher too. The good thing is that I am able to focus on my mother, her behaviour, attitudes and so on, rather than on how I handled it [or didn't handle it] all those years ago.
  • As a child from mid November I began to prepare myself for the horrors that were ahead of me over the coming Christmas and New Year, from which I knew there would be no respite or escape. I realise only now how much energy that took out of me. I'm so glad that I've been able to transform Christmas to a much happier time of year for me and have been able to create happy memories which offset the horrendous memories and flashbacks during that time of year.
Another reason why it's a tough time of year is the clocks going back and days becoming increasingly darker. I really struggle with that. Although I do not have a formal diagnosis of S.A.D [Seasonal Adjustive Disorder] it is something that really affects me and is noted on my medical records that late October to April is a very dangerous time of year for me when my depression is far worse than throughout the rest of the year.

So this time of year always takes a lot of navigating through.

Though it was indeed very tough this year and took a lot of energy and also a lot of distractions and “resourcefulness” [to quote my therapist] to get through I noticed quite a difference in how I coped.

It certainly makes a huge difference that I now have support in my CPN, counsellor and therapist. The work I've been doing with them has changed several things in me.

I notice I'm a lot kinder to myself. I accept myself, my thoughts and feelings in a way I never have done before. In the past I had many 'should' and 'should not' arguments with myself about how I was etc. Now I don't have those arguments any more. They lurk in the background but it's as if the volume has been turned down on them.

Also, I'm a lot more aware of what things help me, distract me and enable to cope better, such as playing pool, snooker, putting, photography, going down my tree etc. Allowing myself to do things which I enjoy and are good distractions is making a huge difference to me and is actually enriching my life. I guess I'm developing new coping mechanisms which tend to be constructive rather than negative or destructive.

Another change is how I value myself now which I think has come about through the way those who are supporting me are showing me my value and encouraging me to be 'me' and find my identity in who I am as a whole person rather than just as an abuse survivor. I'm realising there is so much more to me than the abuse survivor. I'm having fun discovering 'me' in my many guises.

Finally I think the work I've been doing with my child parts means they feel loved, valued, wanted and included these days. I also am taking into account the things they like doing and giving them space to enjoy those things, if possible.

I described the place I'm at to my counsellor the other day as a space where I have space to breathe and space to explore. All my life until now I've felt like I've been in a very constricted place. I felt so tightly restricted there was no space to move. Now things feel very different, which is amazing and wonderful!

Getting through that really dangerous time for me this year was different for all those reasons and probably others I haven't discovered yet. It was a very hard time and it took all my strength and resolve to get through in as constructive a way as possible.

The therapy and the counselling are making a huge difference to me and to my life! Although I feel that the really big things I hope for, for my life, are well out of reach still, I do see enormous changes in me and in my life that give me hope for a better future and a better life than I've had up until now. It also makes coping with the present day a little easier.

I often overwhelmed by scale of the task before me and how far I have to go. It's good to pause and remind myself how far I have come and just what differences I and others can see in me.

There has been massive progress and growth which is incredible.

I could never have dreamed my life could be all it is now, although it's a long way from where I really want to be!!

Monday, 22 October 2012

MASSAGE MILESTONE



I’ve had a very good massage today and came home with lots of thoughts going through my head. 

Before going to today’s massage I had a glance back through my diary and realised it was my 10th massage today. I knew it had to be about that which is why I checked. 

Wow, what an achievement it is to have reached my 10th massage! And what an achievement it is that I’m allowing her to massage more than just my back and shoulders.

I’m really proud of how I stuck with it and how well I’m coping with being touched and allowing Caroline to move on to massage a new place each time.

We began with my shoulders, neck and upper back. After a couple of sessions I allowed her to massage my lower back as well. Then three weeks later I allowed her to move on to massage my buttocks. In doing that I discovered that some of my lower back pain and most of my leg pain is due to very tight muscles in my buttocks.  

After another couple of weeks I agreed to lie on my back to allow her to work on my arms and on the front of my neck/shoulders which is a very painful and tender area for me. 

I also feel very exposed lying on my back although I’m under towels. Lying on my back is very hard but I’m determined to push through that. The first time I had my eyes shut but found it too triggering so now I lie on my back and look at the ceiling and pictures on the wall to distract me from that fact that I’m lying on my back.

I’ve noticed that the muscles in all those areas are gradually loosening up and that massage is not as painful as it first once. As far as Caroline is concerned “I am doing really well and my body is responding to the massage and progressing amazingly well.”

I would never have envisaged I would have progressed as well as I have. It’s worth the £38 it costs me each time to see such progress both physically and emotionally.

POTTERY GROUP



I’ve been on the waiting list to join Rethink’s pottery class for several months and had almost forgotten I’d agreed to be put on the waiting list. Then a couple of weeks ago I had a phone call from my Rethink worker telling me that a vacancy had come up and asking would I be happy to go ahead with the group? 

I replied that I’d be interested in meeting the group leaders and take it from there. Also, I told her that I was absolutely terrified about taking this next step and that I couldn’t agree to doing it until I’d met the group leaders and had a chance to size them up. So we agreed I’d show up the following week at the beginning of the class to be shown around the meet the leaders. 

As I thought about the group and how scared I was feeling I realised that this is a HUGE step for me. Most of my activities are solitary activities. I’m a very solitary person, partly because I’ve had to be. But that solitary person doesn’t necessarily want to remain solitary and would like to be able to do things with other people but the sheer thought of having to interact with another human being is so scary for me that quite often it’s totally paralysing and so I carry on with my solitary life and solitary activities. In agreeing to try the pottery group out it means I’m going to have to be part of a group once a week which means I’m going to have to find a way through the terror and total lack of confidence I feel being in a group.

Another interesting dynamic is the memory of being unceremoniously turfed out of art classes as a 12 year old in my first year at grammar school because I couldn’t draw. According to my teacher I was useless and there was no hope for me because I had “no sense of perspective” and I couldn’t look at something and then draw it. That event has stayed with me and carries with it a fear of trying anything creative out in front of other people in case I’m crap at it.

So those two issues combined make it a MASSIVE step.

The night before I was due to visit the group was terrible. I spent the night constantly waking up in a cold sweat and state of sheer terror. I felt really ill the next morning from nerves and nearly phoned to cancel. But that’s not the way I do things so I showed up at the agreed time literally shaking. 

The group leaders were very friendly and laid back and did their best to put me at my ease. They were very gentle with me and understood without me having to say that I was finding it a bit of an ordeal. 

The main leader has been teaching pottery for over 50 years and used to be a teacher. When I told her I was a complete beginner and was totally terrified about the idea she said “oh I’ve been doing this for 50+ years now and I’m very patient, I’ve found most people can produce something if they’re taught and supported properly, I’ll teach you how to do a fish to begin with.”

I thought “a fish, crikey, eeek” but at the same time felt strangely reassured by this very calm woman who was trying to soothe and encourage a very terrified little girl in a 46 year old woman’s body.

She then asked me if I’d done any clay work at all. My reply was “oh only the type in therapy where you get a piece of clay, do whatever with it, and then bash it to pieces.” She chuckled and said “ah, ok, err that’s not quite the kind of clay work we do here” I chuckled too and somehow that broke the ice, the terrified little girl slipped into the background and adult ‘me’ felt that maybe this was something do-able. She went on to say “this is a type of therapy rather than being a formal kind of class and we see it very much about being therapy.” That comment settled any remaining fears about being found incapable at some later stage and subsequently being thrown out of the group for my lack of artistic ability.
I was introduced to the other group members. There are 7 other people in the group, male and female, so that’s going to be another challenge for me. But everyone was pretty laid back and relaxed and busy concentrating on their work. 

After about ten minutes of being shown around and meeting everyone the group leader asked me if it was something I felt I could have a go at? So I’ve agreed to show up on Tuesday 6th November for my first session and to try it out for the six sessions that will lead up to Christmas and see where I go from there.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

PROGRESSING PAINFULLY AND SLOWLY



Well October has begun and I’m wondering what happened to September. 

Oh yes, I remember it disappeared in a haze of slowly and gradually working on very painful stuff that’s arisen for me following the news of the death of my ‘father’. 

I’ve also been really busy working through the 7107 photos I took during my holiday to the Scottish highlands in August. There have been times when the memories of purple heather, water cascading down mountainsides and reindeer walking by the side of the coach have been the only things which have helped me make it through some of the darkest days of September.

It’s been a very long hard month of being brought face to face with the reality of ‘who’ and ‘what’ Alan Nicholson was and also what he did and didn’t do or didn’t say. Death has a way of stripping away all the bull***t and all the excuses we make for ourselves and others until all you’re left with are the facts.

I’ve been reminded of the last time I saw him in 2002 and the powerful non-verbal communication which is the main thing I remember about it as well as Sheila’s nonsense during it. I remember feeling the depth of his regret and wishing things were different BUT I also remember how totally impotent he was at communicating that or doing anything about it. I remember how totally terrified he was of Sheila. That was something the police picked up on when they were arrested in 2010. It’s always been hard remembering that last meeting. I’ve wondered all these years what would happen if Sheila was to die first. Now I have the answer. I was hit by the weight of the sadness of Alan throwing away the opportunities he had to make some kind of amends. I never wanted or expected an apology but some acknowledgement that something happened, something was wrong, would have gone a long way. I sensed all that when I last saw him 10 years ago. The non-verbal stuff of that meeting was very powerful. I remember walking away disappointed that he made no attempt to address the truth that I sensed he wanted to just because of Sheila’s presence. She has a lot to answer for! BUT so does Alan! It is that which has been so highlighted by his death. At the end of everything he made decisions and took his choices. He is fully responsible for his actions and also his inaction. No excuses.

There are times I’ve felt the sheer emptiness of being rejected and abandoned and disowned by my own family, my own ‘parents’. I’ve felt very desolate and alone during the past month. Nothing can ever take away how that feels. There’ve been times I’ve self-harmed because the pain has been too intense to bear. Cutting acted as a release valve to get some of the pain out. There’ve been times I’ve felt very black and suicidal but I’ve somehow be able to remind myself that there is some great support in my life now and also of how incredible things are for me now compared to how my life has been. 

There have been a lot of ‘should’s’ and ‘should not’s’ around. Some have been about Alan and some have been my own. Some have been helpful and some not so. I’ve had a lot of powerful and confused feelings and emotions around.
Accepting how I feel and the complexities of my own ‘grieving’ process has been a hard process. 

My CPN said gently to me one day early in September - “maybe you could erase the word ‘should’, your feelings are your feelings whatever they are, they may not be what you may have expected but they are your feelings and being able to accept your feelings being around as they are would help you a lot, it is your own grieving process, you are grieving though it may not be recognisable as grief”.
 
My therapist and my counsellor have both said they “wouldn’t have expected me to feel any other way given what I’ve survived.”  

It’s odd because I’ve been alone for so long. Because my parents have been as good as dead to me for so long I thought it wouldn’t affect me all that much when they died. However, there is something about the finality of death which really highlights the pain and the truth. I guess that’s one thing that makes it so painful. I’ve found that I can’t just shrug my shoulders, say “they’re scum, don’t matter to me” – which is one of the things I feel - and then carry on as if nothing happened. The opposite is the case. I guess none of us know how we’ll react to anything until it happens to us!
It’s been one of the longest months I’ve lived through for a long time. 

Thanks to the deep work I’ve done in counselling and therapy sessions, including art therapy and working with clay, I’ve begun to find a way through the confusion and the hurt and to see a way forward. 

Alan’s death has done me one favour in a strange way. It has brought into sharp focus what he did to me and enabled me to step beyond generic terms such as ‘rape’ and ‘abuse’ and actually explicitly say ‘this is how it really was’, ‘this is what it really felt like’, ‘this is actually what he did/said’ and so. That has been incredibly powerful and healing. It has been a HUGE step forward for me. I’ve realised just how deep my trust is in the wonderful professional women who are walking alongside me and supporting me in this journey.

It may not have been a choice that I began this journey, but it is my very choice to remain in the process, no matter how hard or painful it gets, rather than jumping off the bus long before journey’s end.