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.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

UPDATE ON BENEFITS SITUATION


Yesterday I received a letter from JobCentre Plus in Plymouth requesting my attendance at a work-focused interview with a personal advisor which is mandatory, non-attendance would lead to sanctioning of my benefit. The appointment was for an early morning in Exeter which was just not do-able.

Due to my high level of disability from physical as well as well documented mental health conditions I did not expect to be put through this crap. However I’m not too surprised because even terminally ill people going through chemotherapy treatment who are supposed to be protected have been forced to appointments and had their benefits stopped for non attendance. Even so, I guess like all of us, I never thought it would happen to ‘me’. I feared it but never really expected it.

To get this letter having appealed this decision over 3-weeks ago incensed me. 

I appealed the decision because their medical report totally misrepresented me by stating the complete opposite of what I wrote on the ESA form. It was full of inaccuracies and contradictions. Put plainly and simply the medical report was a fraud. 

The only good thing on the medical report was that it did clearly state twice that a return to work is unlikely within at least two years and is extremely unlikely over the longer term. It was the most ridiculous thing I have read for a long time. So it is a complete travesty and a farce for me to be deemed fit for work. The report having outlined the reasons why I was fit for work then stated very clearly that I was not and probably will never be fit for work. 

My protected level of benefit for severe disability is due to end today and I have not been notified how much my benefit will be going forward. Having been deemed fit for work I know that protection ends and I expect I will be dropped to the lower level of ESA. It is disgraceful that they have not had the decency to inform me what that amount will be. But then they regularly stop people’s benefits without telling them so I shouldn’t be too surprised that they couldn’t be bothered to tell me in advance what my reduced rate will be. It’s so good that I had the compensation when I did, it was so well timed given all this rubbish!!

I did assume that because I had appealed the decision I would be protected from all the other consequences of being deemed fit for work. That assumption was wrong.

When I received the letter I was extremely angry to be put in the position of regardless of the affect upon my physical and mental I have to attend an appointment which is all about putting together a plan to return me to work when I have no hope of ever being able to return to paid work.

So early yesterday afternoon I picked up the phone to JobCentre Plus and requested that the appointment be deferred pending the outcome of my appeal and stating that it would serve no useful purpose and be a complete waste of their time and my time given that I have no hope of ever returning to work and should never have been put in this position. The response I got was “oh I can’t make a decision about that, I have to speak to someone, you do realise these appointments are mandatory and we will stop your benefit if you refuse to attend?” I reminded the person that an appeal is in progress and exactly what the grounds for that appeal are. “Oh well I still can’t make a decision, someone will call you back some time.”

I didn’t expect a call back yesterday afternoon so it was a pleasant surprise when the phone rang just before 5pm and it was someone called Sarah from JobCentre Plus. Sarah is my designated personal advisor. 

I explained to her exactly what the situation is and how pointless it is for me to be expected to attend this appointment. I told her I made it clear on my ESA form that I can only do things in afternoons and I’d been given an early morning appointment in Exeter. I also mentioned that I’ve not been into Exeter except for hospital appointments for about ten months because I cannot cope with the long trail in and out by bus and the level of stress it puts me under.  

She explained that the appointment cannot be deferred because legally it has to be done and it has to be done within a certain timescale. She said the way ESA is set up to work they have to act as if I am totally fit for work regardless of whether the decision is being appealed. There is no protection for people who appeal. She did however say that given the situation she may consider not recalling me to any further work-focused interviews until the outcome of my appeal was decided. 

She then totally surprised me by saying she considered it unreasonable to expect me to go into Exeter in the circumstances and suggested doing an afternoon telephone interview instead. 

The telephone interview is arranged for 3.50pm on Wednesday 18th April. I do not await it with bated breath, I will not be mincing my words during that interview.

Monday, 2 April 2012

THOUGHTS 2 APR 12

I can't believe it's April and will soon be Easter, this year is going so fast. I'm finding it really hard to take in all that's happened during the first quarter of this year. It's been one massive roller-coaster after another. It's no wonder that I'm feeling so totally drained. The last time I felt this emotionally and mentally drained was the months that followed the CPS decision to drop the case against my abusers in the autumn of 2010. I guess in some ways all the crap going on with the police is a constant reminder of that trauma and the total lack of justice.

I met with my CPN this week after a break of three weeks due to her having had leave. I said that when it comes to the police stuff I feel like I'm locked in somewhere really dark and banging and shouting but no-one's hearing me. She reminded me that there are people in my life who are hearing me and totally believing me. It's good to be reminded of that.

Getting the Criminal Injuries compensation was unexpected but couldn't have been timed better with all that's going on with my disability benefits. It still feels very unreal! I guess it won't feel really real until the bills come next month showing my debts all paid off. It's really nice to have money in the bank for once in my life. It's a huge relief to be free of all that debt. What a transformation that's brought to my life. It feels incredible to have the crimes recognised in such a way.

There is a part of me that is driven – driven for justice – just as there's a part of me that's driven – driven to heal. It's a good driven. For much of my life the quest to just survive and stay alive was what drove me. Now I'm on a quest to heal, to get my life back, to get some quality of life into that life, to start to unpack my childhood and begin to put it to rest little by little.

Talking with my sexual abuse therapist last Thursday she said there were several sessions worth of stuff to work through in just a couple of sentences I used. It would be easy to be totally overwhelmed by the size of the task ahead of me. It's good to remind myself how far I've come.

In some ways I don't recognise myself from just a few months ago. My life has changed in so many ways. I have so much support now. The way I view my childhood and the abuse is very different as is the way I perceive things which are bad that happen in my life. Instead of perceiving them within the mental framework of “I am bad, nothing good happens to me, I deserve bad stuff to happen” etc. I'm now able to perceive things in a much more abstract way and so am internalising things less which in turn is making me more relaxed about life and life events than I have previously been. The way I process things and deal with things has changed massively.

Being believed has made such a difference to me on many levels. I know what my truth is and I'm determined to live in that truth and not subscribe to any more lies or denial about my childhood and how the abuse has affected my life. I've discovered I have a very low tolerance for people around me who do that.

I had re-introduced touch into my life. I've done a little bit of research and discovered it will cost at least £38 for an hour's massage, privately. If I have to go that route, I have to, but I hope not to have to and that Quiet Mind will be able to find someone to replace Juliette. I'm still really shocked about the bombshell of her leaving and the manner of her leaving and wondering what to do about it. One thing's for sure I cannot go back to no touch in my life. As my CPN said this morning when we were discussing it, that would be a backwards step.

Easter brings with it new beginnings.

There have been many new beginnings in my life over the last couple of years and that is set to continue and I'm sure increase as I move deeper into therapy and deeper into healing.

Of course there is the financial new start which I've been given in addition. And that is a wonderful gift for which I am immensely thankful.

The main challenge I'm facing over the next couple of months is the change to my CPN. Kathy and I briefly discussed how I'm feeling about that. She re-assured me that she intends for it to happen gently and gradually rather than suddenly and that she will be happy to talk through my thoughts and feelings about it when we next meet.

My Rethink worker is also going to do some work with me around change and developing skills to enable me to handle changes that are outside of my control easier. My counsellor has also offered me extra support during the time of the changeover.

What's wonderful is that what I'm feeling and thinking about it is not being belittled but rather recognised and understood. I still find it hard to be really honest about how I feel with my workers. But I'm finding that when I do find the courage from somewhere to be honest about my thoughts and feelings I'm being heard, respected and understood, rather than belittled, disrespected and put down.

Slowly the old tapes in my head of how I expect people to react to me are being replaced with more positive constructive responses.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

IT'S BEEN THE MOST INCREDIBLE WEEK

This week’s been one long roller-coaster. A week ago I was having a quiet weekend as I was totally exhausted and trying to prepare myself for what was ahead. 

I knew that during the coming week my Criminal Injuries compensation would go into my bank account. Part of me still couldn’t believe it was really going to happen and part of me couldn’t wait for it to go in and to pay off all my debts. It was a strange combination of feelings.

On Monday I went to my counselling session which was very powerful and helpful. However while I was there I was informed that my massage therapist Juliette, is not coming back. Quiet Mind are very unhappy with the situation because they had to visit her at home when they couldn’t get hold of her on the phone and Juliette airily said “oh I’ve got a new job, I’m not coming back.” She hadn’t bothered to tell Quiet Mind or anyone else. The powers that be at Quiet Mind are extremely angry and feel very let down. She had 6 clients who now need to be found a new massage therapist but there is no-one who can take up that slack. So it’s not a good situation.

That broadsided me. I’d had a horrible feeling inside that she wasn’t coming back and had been putting it down to my abandonment issues but with that news I realised that it had actually been my gut telling me - my gut knew. There is no-one to replace her and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I cannot believe she has done this. It’s not a good stunt to pull especially when your clients are sexual abuse survivors. It is not what you expect someone with over 20 years experience to working with sexual abuse survivors! It’s very shocking indeed. I trusted her. We trusted her - me and my child parts. And now we’ve been dumped all over and it hurts and is incredibly wobbly!

Whatever I do I’m going to have to start over with someone knew after making all that progress with Juliette. It’s really hard.
Why is it that when I get something that really works and is really good for me in life I’m not allowed to have it and it gets taken away from me. This has happened so often in my life, it is a frequent pattern of events. It’s happened so many times that I’m totally fed up with it. 

At least now I have the compensation I can actually afford to pay someone privately for massage. So now I’ve got to investigate that option. 

Now that I’ve got used to having massage and to being touched for an hour once a fortnight I cannot go back to a life without touch. The massage was so important for me on many levels. 

I wrote a letter to a very old school friend who lives near Whitehaven. I am going to Keswick in May for the mountain festival. After four nights in Keswick for the festival I will travel through to Whitehaven and will be staying in a hotel two miles outside of Whitehaven for a couple of nights before coming home. I’m staying there at that hotel for my own safety and also so I cannot be accused of being anyway near my parents’ house which is probably about three miles from where I’m staying. Way to far a distance for me to walk and I don’t think any buses go anywhere near there either. I’m also staying at that hotel because I’ve stayed at other Premier Inn’s before and know they are high quality hotels and the breakfasts are amazing.

I’ve arranged to have dinner with a special friend there on the Monday night and then dinner with other friends on the Tuesday night. 

Thinking about the Monday night I decided to write to an old school friend of mine who is also a mutual friend of the person I’m having dinner with. We’ve kept in touch over the years exchanging Christmas letters and occasional letters at other times of the year but haven’t seen each other for around 28 years. I wrote suggesting she joins us for dinner as I would really like to use this opportunity to see her again after all these years and pick up that friendship again. 

I was really surprised with myself but I realise there is a new ‘me’ emerging who isn’t afraid to take risks now and isn’t prepared to just live with regrets, but rather wants to do what she can about them. Come to think of it, I’ve taken a lot of risks to get to where I am in my healing journey.

Tuesday came and my compensation was in my bank account late afternoon. It felt so good to see £22,000.00 sitting there. It would have been easy to be overwhelmed to have such a large amount of money and to go crazy with it. But I had prepared a list of exactly what I was going to pay each creditor and also what I was going to be buying on top – new TV being my priority as well as paying for a holiday, replacing my broken filing cabinets and buying a new safe. I knew exactly what I was going to spend right down to the penny.

I went out to swim and aqua fit in the evening which was relaxing and fun. As I was waiting for my bus home from aqua fit I switched my mobile on and there was an email from the friend I wrote to. She was absolutely thrilled to get my letter and delighted with the idea of dinner and really excited about it and looking forward to it.

Her response to me blew me away. I was not expected such an overwhelmingly positive response. 

I thought to myself that how I see myself and my life is not how others see me and my life. I’m also realising that there are people in my life who are safe, who are totally safe and who are really rooting for me and supportive of me. I’m slowly realising that I’m not so alone in the world as I thought I was and always have felt. In some ways I am totally alone in the world having no family or relatives. But I’m not totally alone, when I think of those people in my life who are supportive, positive and encouraging towards me.

I couldn’t sleep overnight, the money and the massage issues were playing on my mind. Plus the excitement of knowing how much money was in my account and the drive inside to get going with paying off my debts was causing so much adrenalin to go round my system that sleep was impossible. I rested as well as I could, telling myself “there’d only be one night like this in my life” and eventually managed to doze a bit in the end. 

I spent most of Wednesday online and on the phone paying various debts. It was an incredible day. There won’t ever be a day like that in my life ever again. To spend £15,000.00 in one day is not likely to ever happen again. I felt really good to be paying off my debts. Some of the debts were hangovers from university and other debts had been accrued by just living for years on benefits and needing credit to replace things that break down, put clothes on my back etc. In paying off my debts I cut my monthly outgoings by £650-£700 which is going to make a huge difference to me. In the middle of everything I started having payments declined and had to phone my bank to find out what was happening. They had frozen my account and bank card given the unusual activity taking place. I explained the situation to them and they released my account and bank card and allowed all the payments through which they had previously declined.

I hadn’t expected that to happen. I just expected that if the money was in your account the payments would automatically go through. I didn’t mind the bank doing that, I’d rather they check things out rather than just allow unusual activity to take place on the account.

By the end of Wednesday afternoon I was mentally and emotionally exhausted although strangely exhilarated too! Thursday was a relatively gentle day after all that activity. My appointment with my sexual abuse therapist was intense and really good. I had some quality time with my tree in gorgeous weather which helped calm me down and ground me.

Good job too because I came home to a letter from Cumbria Police. It was a very shocking letter carrying on the lies and excuses and closing ranks. I was appalled but to be honest I didn’t have the emotional or mental energy to even look at it properly never mind process it. I distracted my mind watching and playing snooker that evening. It played on my mind all night and my sleep was massively disrupted. 

I dragged myself out of bed feeling awful on Friday morning. I had my usual swim Friday lunchtime which was quite relaxing, although it didn’t relax me totally. After lunch I had some great tree time before going on to my appointment with my Rethink worker. I was feeling very black as I was walking around and feeling like I was falling into a deep dark pit. It was a very horrible feeling. I think shock from the letter was settling in. 

By the time I got to Rethink I was very black and suicidal. It was a good job I had that appointment. It helped me a lot and I came out of it feeling I could go home and face the weekend and leave the letter till Monday when I’ll be seeing my CPN and my counsellor and will have support.

So I have had a very quiet weekend, catching up with paperwork, resting and watching sport on TV, having some ‘me’ time. It is refreshing and strengthening me.

It has been an incredible week. A huge roller-coaster of massive extremes.

I’m looking forward to moving into the future no longer saddled with huge debts. That’s really transformed my life. 

As I said to my sexual abuse therapist “yes the money has transformed things for me, but the money is nothing compared to what that award says, it’s the vindication and the validation that the compensation brings with it, money can’t buy that, and that is wonderful and makes me feel amazing.”