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.