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.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

I STOOD UP FOR MYSELF

On Saturday night I posted a really good article about homosexuality to my Facebook profile. The article I posted was written from an extremely compassionate viewpoint which is why I loved it so much. I knew in posting it that some of my Christian friends may have issues with the theology in it as I knew the article did not approach the subject from the traditional condemnatory judgemental approach many Christians subscribe to. Even so, I thought I knew my friends would know my heart on the issue. But I was not prepared for what happened next.


A friend posted several comments on my wall denouncing the article and denouncing me. She told me what I should and should not believe. She actually had the nerve to tell me I was “believing lies”. She also posted links to ‘Christian’ organisations who focus on ‘healing’ gays.


I was both shocked and disgusted and immediately deleted all her comments. My main reason for deleting her comments was that someone who vehemently disagrees in the way she did is not going to listen to reason. She vehemently disagreed with the theology in this article and jumped to conclusions about what I believe and about my sexuality. 


I cannot have the kind of stuff she posted on my wall as I have Christian and non Christian friends, many of my friends are also survivors at different stages of their healing. 


I have to think of everyone who can read my wall as well as myself and consider where I'm at on the subject and what I need and don't need at the moment.


After some thought I posted the following comment to lay down ground rules for commenting on the post – 

“I WILL NOT ALLOW COMMENTS ON THIS POST WHICH ARE JUDGMENTAL AND FOLLOW THE CHRISTIAN STANDARD OF JUDGING AND CALLING ANY EXPLORATION OR UNDERSTANDING OF SEXUALITY SUCH AS THIS AS SINFUL OR BELIEVING LIES. I LOVE THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE IT IS SO COMPASSIONATE. THAT WAS MY MAIN REASON FOR POSTING IT. THE COMPASSION IN IT IS PHENOMENAL. I DID NOT POST IT TO ENTER INTO A DISCOURSE OR ARGUMENT ABOUT THIS SUBJECT WITH ANYBODY. I ALSO DID NOT POST IT TO ENTER INTO A THEOLOGICAL DEBATE. MOST OF WHAT COMES OUT OF CHRISTIAN MOUTHS CONCERNING THIS SUBJECT SERIOUSLY LACKS COMPASSION. YOU MIGHT THINK YOU HAVE MY OWN GOOD AT HEART BUT YOU ACTUALLY DO NOT KNOW WHERE I AM ON THESE ISSUES, WHAT HEALING WORK I HAVE DONE, AM DOING AND WILL DO. POSTING LINKS TO CHRISTIAN HEALING ORGANISATIONS IS ASSUMING A LOT ABOUT ME AND IS NOT HELPFUL. I AM ALREADY WELL AWARE OF THE ORGANISATIONS ANYWAY. I HAVE DELETED AND I WILL DELETE ANY COMMENTS MADE TO THIS POST WHICH DO THE ABOVE AND JUMP TO ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT ME, ABOUT WHAT I BELIEVE AND ABOUT MY REASONS FOR POSTING THIS ARTICLE.”

I also posted the following to my status update –

I have ZERO TOLERANCE for those who think they have the right to tell other people what they should be believing and also what they should not be believing just because they don't agree with what they think [rather than know] is your theology and at the same time think their theology is the right thing to believe - please take such attitudes elsewhere and keep them off my wall” 

It was a very stressful episode which happened very late at night. In fact it was nearly 1am by the time I finished posting my response and logged off.


The event played on my mind all night and I was concerned as to what may have been posted overnight. 

I was pleasantly surprised when I logged in today to see several friends were supportive of what I posted and found several messages of support and encouragement. 


Interestingly, I heard nothing from the person who caused all the trouble. If she was hoping for an argument I disappointed her. I was determined to not get involved in an argument or debate on the subject. I’ve had too many similar ones in the past and was not prepared to put myself through that kind of stress.


I checked later in the day and discovered she’d unfriended and blocked me. 


That’s fine by me. I don’t need the kind of crap she hit me with.


I was gobsmacked at how I handled it. I stood up for myself without getting defensive. I was also assertive without being aggressive. Wow, what progress I’ve made!!


IT WAS A CRAZY WEEK

The week before last was a totally crazy week which I’m still recovering from. 


It began well enough with a very good counselling session on the Monday. On Tuesday 17 January I was booked to see my CPN who I last saw five weeks previously on 16th December. I really needed the appointment, big time needed it!

I set off for my appointment preparing myself for a heavy hour catching up and discussing all that I’ve been busy processing during the last few weeks. 


Just fifteen minutes before my appointment I was wandering through a local park just five minutes away from where I was due to have my appointment when my mobile rang, or rather vibrated in my pocket, as I had it set on silent ahead of my appointment.


I answered it to hear an unfamiliar voice say “I’m phoning you to tell you that your appointment with ‘K’ has been cancelled, a crisis has come up”. At first I thought it was a wind up and said “what?” She repeated herself and I realised it wasn’t a wind up. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I went into a trauma response as my mind froze and my body froze. I said “what am I supposed to do with this, I was due to see her in 10/15 minutes, you can’t just cancel it so close to the appointment, that’s crazy, I need this appointment, it’s been over a month since I saw her.” The unfamiliar voice said “I’m just passing on a message” and the line went dead. I stood in the park unable to take in what had just happened. I couldn’t process it. 


I don’t know what happened or where I went during the following half hour, I just walked around dazed and dissociated. 

Half an hour after the phone call I found myself outside the place where my appointment was supposed to be and thought to myself “how the hell did I get here? What the hell am I doing here? My appointment’s been cancelled.” At the same time there was a little voice at the back of my mind saying “you don’t have to handle this alone, ‘H’ has said many times to you that you can phone her if something happens.


‘H’ is my Rethink mental health recovery support worker.


I knew I had her phone number in my Blackberry so I found it and pressed dial without even thinking. A male worker I know answered and passed me over to her. ‘H’ was really shocked that I phoned. Her reaction was “it can’t be Fi, she never phones”. She was all the more shocked when I told her what had happened. It was good she was free. She told me to go straight there.


I really surprised myself in phoning ‘H’. I’m so used to handling things alone because I’ve always had to. In making that call I realise I’m slowly changing and getting my head around the fact that I have support now and don’t have to deal with things alone any more.


When I got to Rethink I realised that it has become a very safe space for me. I talked through my shock with ‘H’ who helped me express some very uncomfortable emotions and processes. She asked me if I wanted to speak to the Duty mental health worker, I said “yes because someone needed to know I’d been thrown into crisis by it”. ‘H’ arranged for the Duty worker to phone me. I had a really helpful conversation with her. I felt really validated and heard by her and that made such a difference to me. The Crisis Team were also put on hold in case they were needed out of hours later in the day or overnight.


Due to that phone call and my chat with ‘H’ I was able to leave Rethink feeling safe and headed down to my tree for some grounding and soothing tree time before heading home safe and feeling less likely to self-harm. I felt I'd be able to get through till my CPN phoned me in the evening, which she did to apologise and re-arrange our appointment for Friday.


I got to Thursday and my appointment with my sexual abuse therapist. I was still feeling fragile, thrown and wobbly by Tuesday’s events. I arrived early for my appointment. The person who answered the intercom was my CPN. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to see her or speak to her. I didn’t realise how sore I was still feeling about what had happened. 

After saying hi and being let in I went on to sit in the waiting room for my therapist to arrive. Just a couple minutes later my CPN walked in saying “I don’t want to do this to you.” I looked up in surprise and disbelief and heard myself jerk out “no, oh no, not twice in 48 hours, the first time sent me to the edge do you really want to tip me over?” She said “I’m sorry but I’ve been told “M” is off sick today”. My body and mind froze and I struggled to get words out. I said mechanically “no, no, something’s not right here I haven’t had any messages from ‘M’”. I knew ‘M’ would attempt to contact me if there was a problem, she has done in the past. My CPN confirmed what she’d been told. 

I felt like re-arranging the furniture in the room. I couldn’t take in what was happening. I was holding a glass of water and had a tough time talking myself down from throwing it in my CPN’s face. I knew it wouldn’t have been a good idea but was scarily just one flick of the wrist away from doing so. 


That was really scary because I’m not someone who goes around throwing chairs around or water into people’s faces. 

It’s frightening to realise how out of character you can react when taken to the edge!


There was enormous relief when the receptionist walked in a moment later and said ‘M’ had arrived after all. By then I was feeling totally numb. I just stared in disbelief and shook my head at the cock-up. I still couldn’t believe it until ‘M’ herself appeared a few moments later. She was extremely angry at what had happened and even angrier when she was made aware of the context the mix up was made in. 


What happened over those two days no-one could have predicted. I already knew change unsettles me after the events of the last 3 months. I’ve had appointments cancelled on the day before but never at such short notice. It really messes with my head when it happens but I could not know how such a short notice cancellation would affect me. 


At least now I know. And all those involved in my care know too!


Even though the events threw me into major crisis I learned amazing stuff about myself and how far I’ve come as a result. And that was very useful. It’s funny how things turn out!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

WELL NOW, FIONA...


Well now Fiona...” were the opening words in a letter from a friend I received just before Christmas.


Every year I send a card and letter about the year's events to my friends. Last year I wrote about the police investigation of my family and the collapse of the case. I also mentioned that in 2011 I would be changing my name, what I would be changing my name to and gave my new email in my new name for people to use. The letter I sent this year opened with saying that I'd changed my name in Jan 2011 to the name I'd said I was going to change it too. At the top of the letter I put my new name followed by (was Fiona Nicholson)” so no-one was left in any doubt. I also mentioned all the work I've been doing to get my mental health on a more stable footing and to start healing from the affects of the abuse upon my life.


When I sent out the letters I thought it would be interesting to see who replied and what people's responses would be. I'd already decided I'd automatically wipe from my Christmas card list anyone who didn't reply. I knew the likelihood was some people would not understand or accept it and I was prepared for that.


What I was not prepared for was this particular reply. It came from a long term friend who I've known for 26 years. She's in her 70's now.


I opened the envelope addressed to “Fiona Nicholson” in her handwriting and got a shock. Addressing the envelope to me in my old name was not an oversight or a mistake but a deliberate act.


I read the words “Now then Fiona” and was transported years back when those words meant I was in BIG trouble. Those words pushed many buttons that, quite frankly, I didn't need pushed. Those words made me feel like an extremely silly VERY naughty little girl. I went to a very dark place for a few minutes before I pulled myself back and read the rest of her very short message to me.


The message read “now then Fiona... about your name change, that was what really made me think I don't think we should continue this relationship, I don't think we should correspond any more. Thanks for all you've shared. Hope you don't mind.” 


I couldn't take in what I was reading and had a “err what!!!!” reaction. I remember putting the letter down and my hands were shaking. My brain was in freeze mode and I told myself I must have totally mis-read it. She didn't really mean what I thought she meant did she? It was the last thing I expected from her. After 26 years I thought I knew her relatively well, although in relationships you only see things about a person they let you see. Even so, I thought she'd be supportive of me, at least.


It was a shock to realise she wasn't supportive of me and that in fact she was withdrawing from the relationship. Part of me wished she'd said something a year ago when I mentioned the impending name change. But she didn't. I dunno why, maybe she thought I wouldn't go through with it.


Once I got past the “now then” I came to my old name and that angered me. She deliberately chose not to call me by my new name but to use my old one. That made my blood boil. It was like she was deliberately disrespecting me, disrespecting my new name, disrespecting my new identity.


Even if she couldn't accept what I'd done in changing my name, to deliberately use my old name when she's been told I legally had another name and had been known by that name for nearly a year. Well, words fail me!!


The attitude that showed was shocking. I doubt if she knew that in doing that she was breaking the law. When someone changes their name by Deed Poll it is legally binding. Once a person has been advised of that legal change they are legally obliged to use that new name. To not do so is to not only go against the spirit of that person's decision to change their name, it also breaks the law. I guess a lot of people don't realise that.


So not only was she not accepting my new name, by choosing to address me using the old name was a mark of her disapproval as well as disrespecting me and the journey I'm on. What an attitude!


I can only live my life. She can only live her life. I can't tell her how to go about living her life and she can't tell me how to go about living my life. I might think some things she does and says are odd and may not always approve of things she does or says but that doesn't give me the right to judge and vice versa. But that is exactly what she is doing by her actions.


I'm not a child and have the right to do what I have to do in order to live my life. To refuse to use my new name is refusing to know or accept the person I am. There are people I know who have struggled with my name change and not fully understood. But in spite of that they've respected me and my wishes and adapted to it.


Knowing her though I reckon part of what's going on is a religious objection to what I've done. She's very religious and is a lay preacher in the Anglican church. One hunch I have is she believes I was baptised as “'Fiona' in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” and so I should keep that name for religious reasons. That is very narrow minded but I can hear her saying something like that. However, whatever her reasons for objecting and disapproving, she still has no business making her disapproval known by refusing to address me in my new name and withdrawing from the friendship. That is just total crap!!


It would actually have been far better if she hadn't sent me that letter. It would have been far better if she hadn't bothered to reply at all.


Part of me feels like writing a snotty letter back to her pointing out that she broke the law when she wrote what she did and saying something about kicking people when they're already down. But I don't think there's any point in doing that. I might write a letter that I'll not send. It's sad to lose the relationship but who wants friends like that. Not me!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

REFLECTING ON CHRISTMAS 2011

I had a phenomenal Christmas this year and I needed it. Every aspect of my trip to Austria was positive and I stayed relatively well in spite of the cold I took with me and brought back too! At least I didn't do down with anything on top. I travelled with a group of very friendly sociable people and was able to completely ignore the ones who weren't so their negatively didn't affect me at all. Now that was a huge step for me. Usually when people are being negative around me I think it must be down to me in some way and it's also down to me to turn the negativity into something far more constructive. I've come a long way to be able to shut that negativity out and not be brought down by it.

Thinking back to Christmas 2010 I recognise now that I was drained physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually and had nothing in reserve so actually things were bound to be strained. It's no surprise that when things began to go wrong I didn't have the resources within to process and deal with it. It's also no surprise that I was ill. The amazing thing is that I made it to that Christmas and got through what was a real tough time and have been able to turn it around for myself by having a fantastic Christmas this year.

Reflecting back to being in Dover on the 22nd and bumping into a driver and tour manager I'd met on previous Christmas trips. I was astounded I had the confidence to go over and chat with them the way I did!

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the food we had in Austria. It's a long time since I enjoyed eating and I thoroughly enjoyed every meal we had. It was positive to realise that even if it was just for a few days, I could enjoy food and enjoy eating.

During this trip I really established my passion for photography and didn't care what anyone else thought, which also was a huge step forward for me.

I was much more relaxed in every aspect than I've ever been and what a difference it made to the holiday and to how I felt.

The only point where I wasn't relaxed was during meal times when I felt very out of my depth socially and was so aware of how isolated I've become.

All in all it was an amazing holiday, every aspect of which I enjoyed. I allowed myself to enjoy it and I allowed myself to feel that I was enjoying it. That is HUGE progress! I will hold the memories for a long time and I know they'll feed me and strengthen me through the tough times ahead this year.

Before I went away 'M' asked me to be gentle on myself and notice what I was thinking and feeling throughout my holiday. I was very sceptical of my ability to do that and I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do that.

The New Year period was very wobbly and I went to some dark places emotionally but I weathered those wobbly days. It feels good to be getting back in to some sort of routine. It also feels good for my support workers to be kicking in again post the holiday break. It's good to remind myself how much support I have now! It was hard coming back and facing the reality of my life but it's good realising I'm not dealing with all this stuff alone any more.