Love, hope and other lovely things..

So here I am, a couple of months away from my 40th birthday. Looking at my past, present and future and wallowing somewhat in self pity. When I asked myself, to what yardstick do I hold my life? I mean, compared to Kate Middleton, perhaps my life has not been a bed of roses. Certainly there has been no Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet. But though I have lived a Hellish existence, I still have the capacity to be happy. I smile, I love, I laugh, I care. In fact, now that I have waded through the ‘self sabotage’ chapter of my life, I actively seek these things. My childhood taught me that love equals hurt. But my journey since has shown me otherwise. We all have the tendency to over complicate things. Where there is a clear path we unwittingly throw obstacles into it. We over think and we over compensate. We invent things that are not there by foretelling the bleakest future or hang our hopes on the flimsiest of inklings. And so I’ve been practicing the art of simplicity. I thought at first that this meant that I had to reduce everything to black and white, but I’ve discovered that actually it’s about accepting that everything is shades of grey. I always see things in very firm right or wrong answers, I never really gave myself a chance. I have been guilty of comparing myself to others, but it’s a silly roundabout to jump on. It had come time to accept all of my own grey areas. Yes, I have come from an abusive background, but this in itself doesn’t define me. But I do accept that it has had an impact upon my life and I have to be honest and admit that not all of it was negative. Because I was abused I am more guarded about the safety of my children but I love them more than my parents could fathom loving me. Because I was abused I live with several mental illnesses but I have never ending empathy for those who struggle because so do I. If given the choice I would obliterate abuse in all its forms, but I can’t. I wish with every fibre of my being that it did not happen but it does. It is not right, not ever, that any person should suffer it but we do. And so I choose to see both sides of my coin and live a balanced existence. And remember, how would I have ever known happiness if I had never known sadness.

Mum

Dear Mum,

I’ve wanted to say these things to you for many years. But we now no longer speak.
It would be a lie to say that we were ever close anyway. Our relationship was always somewhat superficial, if we’re honest. You were always holding me at arms length and i’m sad to say that if there were any happy times, I just don’t remember them. I know, now that I am a Mother myself, that our children are the most important things in our lives, I would die for mine, but you were always an enigma to me. I used to be desperate to understand your behaviour, I needed to know why you seemed to not love me. Now I know that I will never understand and it wasn’t me that needed to anyway. It was you. You stood by and did nothing while your vile husband abused me almost my entire life. You should have protected me mum. You should have chosen me, your only daughter, not a man you barely knew. I will never be able to make you understand the pain I went through, from eight years old to 39…He never stopped mum. You brushed off his behaviour as just mildly inappropriate. But he hurt me and that hurt reached to my soul. You abandoned me. You left me. I still haven’t recovered.
I can’t love you anymore mum. I can’t keep hoping that things will change between us. This has impacted my entire life, my mental health, my parenting, my relationships. It has to stop here. I did all the right things and you let me down and now I gravitate to people who only ever let me down. But I’m changing mum, i’m in therapy and I no longer hate myself. Maybe you couldn’t love me, but that’s not my failing, it’s yours. I’m sad for you. You will never admit what happened. You will never say you were wrong. And we will shuffle off this mortal coil as strangers. I came from you, do you remember that? That I was once your child, that at some point you must have nurtured me?
It’s not my job to forgive you. You will have to carry your burdens, I have shouldered enough blame. I have been other people’s pack horse for long enough. It’s time to shed the load. I place the blame and the anger and the pain, squarely at the feet of those to which it truly belongs. Because it never should have been mine in the first place.
I know you’re afraid to be alone. That’s why you ignore his darkness. But you are alone mum. Because he’s empty and now so are you.
Goodbye mum.

The Importance of Being Honest

I have realised that there is a running theme to my life. Person after person has reinforced this message, sometimes not even sympathetic enough to pussy foot around it but directly saying the words to me.
I am not important.
I have spent my entire life putting others needs and wants before my own. I protect them, support them and say all the things I should say.
But lately I have tired of it. Why do I constantly have to ‘stow my shit’ for others? Why is it more important that they be ok than me? I have ptsd, generalised anxiety disorder and depression. I suffer crippling flashbacks, struggle with self harm and my lows are soul destroying. I also have children, go to therapy and I work. I am supposed to be supporting my partner who has volunteered for an epic adventure, but when I wobble, when I struggle, the message I get from those around me is ‘deal with it and don’t upset him’ which is funny considering I never received the same consideration. I did not volunteer to be abused and while he is away it is emotionally hard for him, but he can get off his boat. I will never get off mine.
So my issue is finding the middle ground. I don’t want to be selfish, but I have never asked for what I want. It is time I started. It is time I was truthful about what I need from this life. It is time that my needs and wants were met. It is important in fact. I am responsible for my children, so if I have an emotionally hard time the consequences can be dire. Every time someone tells me to just put it to one side, their advice flies directly in the face of everything I am learning in therapy. I work hard to dismiss it and spend subsequent days telling myself I am important, I do matter and so does what I want. Their words still do damage. When is it ok for me to have a say, to actually say ‘no, I don’t want this to happen’ This is my life, I can choose and I can ask for the things I want and I no longer want be compromised because there is a massive difference between that and compromising.
I ask myself, if I stood up and said, this is what I want and I can’t be held responsible for how it affects you, to those closest to me, how would they react?
I feel like Shirley Valentine…
But we all have a right to choose. My choice is to put me first for a while. I don’t think I could ever be truly selfish, but I do think I deserve more.

I kinda like me..

I feel rounded at my edges, solid and tangible, my words feel honest but softer.
I no longer feel venomous, ready to spit shards of glass at all and sundry.
But rather, peaceful at my core, at my soul.
Where the spark used to be, there now burns a warmth.
It glows like embers, it radiates within me, and every step I now take leaves a trail.
Not of destruction, but of burgeoning life, of new beginnings.
I see my footprints birth spring, fertile with compassion for myself.
I have lived the life I have lived, it’s true, not much of it pretty.
But that’s ok, i’ve found my balance.
I have a calmness that has settled around my heart and a knowledge that I am good.
How strange I should never have seen it before, how odd I should never have felt it.
I like myself…I may even love myself.

Farewell to my dad.

The memories of your face I see in sepia.
So long has it been since I thought of you at all.
A grainy, flickering image in my minds eye.
You were dark and statuesque, with an aura of unpredictability.
Being in your presence, was like standing on the edge of a tornado.
I remember missing you, when things were dark and life was washed in grey.
I remember making you the hero, to return to me, to rescue me.
But you never came, and now you never will.
I wish life had taken a different turn for us.
I wish we had loved each other more.
I wish a lot of things on many blackened nights.
When I lost my faith in all things, I never thought of it returning.
It did, it has, I wish you were here to see it.
But you’re gone, and I will waste no more time on regrets.

This is my goodbye to you dad.
I hope you never knew how he hurt me.
I hope you know I no longer blame you.
I hope you know I loved you once.

Consequence

Step lightly through this world, lest you step upon another.
Love kindly, be mindful and hold consideration highly.

I have felt the pain of cruelty tearing me apart.
I have known what it is to be at the mercy of another’s selfish heart.
And so I control my every action, every decision made.
I see every outcome of every move I make.
This is not my sacrifice, but a promise that I bade.
When I looked upon my swollen belly, a price I’m happy to have paid.

So please step lightly through this world lest you step upon another.
Love kindly, be mindful and hold consideration highly.

The Cursed.

I am tired of this secret, this burden of mine.
Of carrying it’s dead weight around my shoulders.
It pulls me down and steals my purpose.
It poisons my relationships with toxic fumes.
It suffocates all hope and meaning.
It renders people speechless with its stigmatic black cloud.
It curses all who hear it with its mere knowledge.
It passes on its pain and anguish every time I speak it.
And I tire of bearing witness to its destructive force.
I hoped the light of day would diminish it’s depravity and put an end to suffering.
But in the end truth turns her fickle face away.
In the end even love has its limits of understanding…

The Role.

You cast me in this role I never asked for, never wanted.
Before time taught me that I had choices.
You educated me well, and groomed me to your perfection.
Your toy, your thing, I am made inanimate.

Day after day, year after year, I tread the boards of your fantasy.
I am an empty vessel, but you cannot see the vacancy.
Or perhaps you just don’t want to, perhaps it is fear in your eyes that I glimpse as I float beyond your reach.

You see me now, immune to your power.
No vacuum behind my eyes, but anger, strength and vengeance.
I am filled with something new, something I forged in my darkest dreams.

I see you now for what you are, an old and weak man.
You hold no fear for me, as I watch you diminish and my light grow.
Extinguishing your darkness inch by glorious inch.

Today is Freedom

I awake to the sun streaming through my window. I throw off the covers and let it warm my skin. Suddenly I relish the ability to do this, to lie naked on my bed and listen to the whisper of the trees. There was once a time that my door would be barred from entry and I would wear pajamas in the height of summer. I would be listening, not for the breeze and birdsong, but for the sound of his keys that he wore hung from his belt.
I watch the blue sky and stretch out decadently. I must remember to relish these things. To take a moment to enjoy my freedom, acknowledge the past and see how far I’ve come.
Today I will only do the things that I want to do.

Son

I watch him sleep a while, listen to the sound of his steady breathing. I wonder at his existence, at how I came to have made such loveliness. His face is peaceful, he sleeps easy, with no dreams of horror or evil. He is what is right in my world, he reminds me of the beauty in it when I find it hard to see.
I lay a gentle kiss at his temple and I whisper the same promises I always do.
I love you, bigger than the world, bigger than the universe.
I will always protect you.
I love you,
I love you more,
I love you most.

My one regret.

I loved a man once, almost to the point of madness. He had ebony skin and the deepest darkest eyes. He spoke to me in poetry, his dulcet tones resonating deep within my chest.
Eyes closed, fluttering lashes against my cheek, dusting soft kisses on my skin. He enraptured my soul with his words, with his touch. He captured my heart and held it gently, with such honesty, I thought him to be imagined.

I loved a man once, but felt undeserving. Such was his beauty and understanding, I was blinded by it’s brilliance. Fearful of it’s intensity.
Eyes shut tight against his love for me, enthralled yet unbelieving. In my retreat I broke his heart, I wounded an Angel. I cut his wings and yet he still reached out for me, one last time.

This is my one regret. To have hurt out of fear and selfishness. And to have lost a true love.

A reason to live.

My last session in group therapy left me shaken, we all were. I look on these women that I really barely know, as my family. We never speak between sessions, but when we have that hour and 45 minutes together, we are stripped naked of our fake smiles. We are real.
These women are my sisters, we are bound together by something terrible but also by our survival. So when one of us stumbles, we all feel it. When one of us triumphs we all share it. I trust these people with all of my secrets, thoughts, feelings. I’m not afraid that any one of them will hurt me, but I am afraid of one of them hurting themselves.
Some of us have attempted suicide at least once in our lives, and I hear their stories and empathise. I think…yes, I have felt that way. That happened to me too…this could be me…this could be any of us. And suddenly I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I will snap and break and all of the reasons I tell myself to keep living for…will mean nothing.
When things are bad for me, they are bad for every minute of every day for what seems like forever. I become unable to see past the memories, the broken trust. I become hopeless and I watch the clock wishing away the hours, wasting life. I remember calculating how many years I had yet to live when I was around 12 years old. I became distraught at the thought of being here for so long. How utterly heart breaking that someone would make a child feel that way.
So when one of us cries in group, we all cry. We all feel her pain, we reach out to each other, in the brief time we have, desperate for a connection with someone who truly understands. We are unable to tell ourselves of our own worth, but we can tell each other.
So when I told them how I felt that day, of how I felt like a monster myself, of how I felt like I was worthless and unlovable, they rallied.
I have beautiful children that I made. I created them. I nurtured them. And I need to remind myself that nothing so wonderful should be given up. I can’t be all that bad if they came from me? I am still here, still trying.
I love those women, for their humour, for their strength, for their empathy, for their love. And I will rally for every one of them and tell them of their own strengths and reasons to live.
Even if I can’t do it for myself…

What is PTSD?

Originally posted on Willow's Cabin: Heal. Share. Live.:

PTSD Awareness June 2014-003Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe condition that may result after an individual has been exposed to a traumatic, fearful or life-threatening event.  Repeated exposure to multiple events can result in Complex PTSD.  The effects of PTSD are thought to be irreversible because of the structural changes that repeated exposure to stressors causes within the brain.  PTSD was originally thought to be associated with war-time military personnel.  The medical field has now recognized that PTSD can develop from other traumas such as natural disasters, crimes against persons and abusive situations.

Someone who suffers from PTSD can experience any or all of the following symptoms:

  • recurring flashbacks (re-living the event)
  • nightmares
  • panic attacks
  • memory loss
  • inability to pay attention
  • avoidance of certain events, places or people (triggers)
  • numbing of memories/emotions associated with memories
  • consistently high levels of anxiety (called “hyper-arousal”)
  • long-term and repetitive symptoms
  • difficulty with professional and personal relationships

If you…

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Because I want to.

This morning was the first time in the last two weeks, that I haven’t rolled over in the early hours and searched for him on the vacant side of the bed. The first time I haven’t panicked, in my semi conscious state, when I realised he wasn’t there. I slept from 1 a.m through to 4.45 a.m, which is good trust me.
I have relied on him far too much, I should have started therapy without him, I tried. But this is where we are and it’s pointless constantly being angry about it. So I got up, I saw the children off, I cleaned the house and wrote before work (The house is immaculate and so I’ve now moved my ocd to the garden! ) The monotony of the mundane soothes the troubled mind…or something, I don’t know.
What I do know, is that I have never written so much. Alone in my thoughts with no him to distract me, I’ve become a focused, unfocused poet. Images to words to paper. Sometimes whole and complete and sometimes discombobulated. Maybe pain and anguish are my inspiration…but Christ I hope not…
Of course, all this emotion isn’t just caused by his leaving. It’s everything! It’s living with mental illnesses, it’s living with the cause of the mental illnesses, it’s therapy, it’s fear, it’s loneliness, it’s love. I find it difficult to separate all of these things and so I feel suddenly like the victim of an avalanche. Before, I would have had ways of dealing with this, actually before this would never have happened! But I’m not stupid, I know that unless I open up I will never move forward and heal. And so I write, mostly just lately as if no one is watching. It’s a constant stream of consciousness, and it feels wonderful to write it out.
I do worry that the place he occupied, will be filled with something else. Maybe this. That would be very sad. But I’m going to group therapy this week, alone without him here before to tell me how great I’m doing, or after, to hold me and just listen. Because I can. Because I must. Because, actually, I want to.

Leaving

You tell me of your plan to change the world, of your heroic altruism.
I hold my tongue and swallow my words.
Imprisoning invectives capable of laying waste to all before me.
My tears, unshed, threaten to drown me in my sadness.

You talk and talk but all I hear is,
“I am leaving”
“I am leaving”

My heart begins to dismantle slowly, as I smile and nod.
This dream of yours is not ours, but yet I hide from the truth of it.
My insides pound and rail against my cage, and still I smile and still I lie.

I talk and talk but all I hear is,
“He is leaving!”
“He is leaving…”

Why is he leaving..

Mother

She is desolate, with no solace or understanding to be found within her embrace.
Barren and devoid of nurture.

She is sand, choking my every breath from me with vacant empty smiles and no dawn of realisation.
Hollow and deathly silent.

She is mother, to be revered with pretence, lies and misdirection.
But she always knew.

I miss you

The space you left reaches to my soul.
Coaxes tears from my eyes at breaking dawn.
I brush my hand across the sheets where you used to lay.
And I mourn your leaving, my head laid upon your pillow.
Breathing in the last of you.
Nothing holds it’s colour, as when we were together and I laid eyes upon your face.

I miss your weight next to me, and the warmth of your proximity.
I miss you
I miss you
I miss you

Wicked Woman

Wicked woman am I
With such intention in my eye
With lust and want in every pore
You may mistake me for a whore

But I am reflection of your need
Your base desire to sow your seed
Before you smite me with poison name
Be sure to know who is to blame

I Am

With my every step, the ground beneath me ignites.
Flames fanned by a lifetime of waiting.
They grow, they engulf me.
I am fire.
I am fire.

I was borne of brimstone, forged in white hot lava.
Moulded for his purpose.
Prized possession, yet untamable.
I am fire.
I am fire.

I fly, phoenix feathered, trailing flame in my wake.
No longer bound to him, but now my own possession.
Taking flight with heartfelt freedom.
I am power.
I am power.

Harm

Please be aware this poem may be a trigger.

Silver edged, glinting, with no answers to give, no promises to keep.
The last port in the storm raging, held tight to chest, coveted.
Unfailing in its failure to provide what’s needed.
Every measured movement, precise, rooted in history.
Immovable, unchanging, unbreakable in nature.
Touched by sadness and confusion, it is the only way.
Doomed forever to walk the blade, bound together by rituals made.

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