It's hard to gather my thoughts and emotions around all I experienced during the past week. I anticipated I would probably have a good time but was not sure how I'd cope with it all.
My overnight stop in Windermere was fantastic and excellently located. The weather the next day was appalling but it didn't stop me seeing Grasmere and doing everything I wanted to do there. The 4pm check in at my Keswick B+B was a pain which meant I was hanging around in the cold and wet far too long which led to me being poorly during my trip, although that wasn't the only reason I was poorly. I under-estimated the effect of the trauma of facing memories and emotions on me which all contributed to me being poorly throughout.
It was lovely when the weather cleared early that evening and I was able to walk down to Friar's Crag and take some wonderful photos. That walk down to Friars Crag was so important to me. Before then I'd been feeling very overwhelmed by the realisation that everywhere I turned and looked there were memories, emotions, smaller versions of 'me' running around. The weather clearing enabled me to go down to Friars Crag. It also meant I had Friars Crag to myself for a good half hour. It is so rare to be alone there that I felt that was SO meant to be. That half hour alone at Friars Crag was so healing and calming, it was equivalent to being at my tree. It calmed me immensely and helped me ground myself and remind myself why I was there in Keswick. The 'me' who walked away from Friars Crag was very different from the 'me' who that walked there. It enabled me to move forward into the reasons why I was in Keswick and took the focus off the trauma on to what I was in Keswick to do.
I thoroughly enjoyed the mountain festival. It was wonderful absorbing myself in climbing and mountaineering culture for a few days. Mountaineering is such an important part of my life. I always knew it was important but never realised quite how important until I was at the mountain festival and in that environment. Although I hoped I might actually meet Chris Bonington I never really actually believed that could happen. So when I did actually meet him, shake his hand and speak with him it was very special. Bumping into a couple of friends on the Saturday was lovely and did me a lot of good. I really needed that big hug but meeting them did wobble me. It reminded me about how close I was to Whitehaven and that it would be very easy to bump into people I didn't want to. That seriously wobbled me and I my attention was drawn to how close to the surface the trauma actually is! Once I got back to my B+B after that I calmed down, refocused myself on why I was there and felt safer once more.
Walking on Catbells on the Sunday morning was wonderful. To finally set foot on the mountain in such glorious weather and get the photos I've wanted for so long was very special indeed. It was also good to get photos of Friars Crag from the angle you can only get from on the fells. I am really pleased to have photographed Friars Crag from every possible view as well as to have taken many other photos I have wanted to take for a long time.
Going on to Whitehaven on the Monday was very hard. I did not want to leave Keswick, making the transition was very tough. I felt so ill making that transition. Being with special old friends in the evening was incredibly precious. The years rolled away and the 3 hours we spent together was very special and will live long in my memory.
Tuesday in Whitehaven was very hard. My anxiety levels were very high and I felt very physically ill and weak. It took a lot of energy to wander round taking photos all the while on the look out in case my abusers were around. Thankfully it passed off without incident. By the time my friends picked me up I was completely done in and had nothing left.
It just shows how deeply traumatised I still am by all that's happened, not just throughout my life in Whitehaven but also during the last couple of years. The events of my childhood have very deeply traumatised me in ways I hadn't realised but also that trauma is very close to the surface and it doesn't take much to tip me into it.
It took me a while to start to relax at my friends' house. It didn't help that I was still coughing a lot and I felt very limp and done in. At least I managed to eat while there and enjoyed showing off my photos to my friends on the TV. We talked at length and in depth. It was SO good to be able to be so open. She commented on how much more relaxed I am. Our drive over to St Bees in the evening was lovely. I was reminded how much I like St Bees and why. It was also lovely to be able to relax and be safe relaxing which I couldn't do while in Whitehaven, even with them. It was hard to leave them at the end of the evening, but I knew I really needed to be back at the Premier Inn and to get an early night.
Now I'm home, getting used to being back in my own bed, with my snooker table and back to all that's familiar.
This trip has taken a lot out of me and I very seriously need to rest. I've learned a lot about myself during this trip - I realised how strong I am but also how I need to balance that with being real and vulnerable!
It's been a kaleidoscope of emotions and feelings, connecting with childhood memories and reclaiming them as an adult. I'm glad I made the trip although I could have done with not being ill. But I think there was a huge lot of reasons for me being so ill, including the stress and anxiety of doing the trip.
I think it's the first time that I've been away and have felt happy about going home. It's strange to be back though. I've really loved being in the mountains and being back in old familiar surroundings. It's great to be home back among more up to date familiar surroundings!
I feel there is a part of me which is still in Cumbria. I have a lot to process. I seriously underestimated the depth of the trauma and how hard it was going to be. I also discovered, well got a glimpse of a 'me' who is immensely strong, determined, tenacious as a bulldog and very resilient!!
It was SO good to recognise that in me. Other people have seen it in me but now I have seen it in me too, and that is SO very precious and important.
Part of me wishes I hadn't gone to Cumbria because it's opened such a Pandora's box of emotions and memories. It has taken a lot out of me and will take some recovering from. But for the most part I am very glad I went and faced all that in such a safe and controlled manner. I now have some wonderful memories and new insights which I think on looking back I will realise that it was an important part of my healing journey!