Treadmill Tales: Day 15

Well, I am pleased to have that under my belt!

12 minutes
3.4mph
61.4 calories
I jogged for the first three minutes and the last minute and I walked the remaining time.

I said that my plan would be subject to revision as I reflected on my progress and here are my thoughts so far.

  • I’m delighted to be jogging AT ALL, I didn’t think that would be possible as I had become so deconditioned due to illness and gained so much weight.
  • Now that I’ve introduced a little jogging, the walking is feeling a bit boring in comparison so I’ve decided to maintain the 3.4mph pace for the jogged minutes for now, but up the pace for my walked minutes in that hope that that will increase my engagement. I will also try to dig out my old MP3 player and set up some podcasts on that that I’m longing to hear.
  • If I can manage a session tomorrow on top of going out then I plan to do 13 minutes and then 14 minutes on Saturday.
  • I’ll do 15 minutes on Monday and then I plan to stay at 15 minutes for the rest of that week. My pace will probably stay at the same rate but I plan to jog for a total of five minutes – three at the start and two at the end.

 

Finding family

I could have applied to be on Long Lost Family with Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall. Instead, after my own extensive search proved fruitless, I turned to the Salvation Army.

The organisation runs a Family Tracing Service and will undertake, what are expensive searches, for a modest fee. From memory, I think I paid £25. I was looking for any surviving siblings of my father. To be frank, I’d have been happy to make contact with ANY relative on my father’s side, as I’d had no contact or knowledge of the paternal side of my family, since my father’s death when I was a child.

My surviving parent forbade me from going to his funeral and told me that from now on his family wanted nothing more to do with me. I was too young to really take it in, but I was devastated all the same. I thought I was at fault.

It was many years before I came to realise that I may have been lied to, as I had been about so very much else. Likewise, after my abuse was finally uncovered, I came to realise that I owed my surviving parent no loyalty.

I was nervous about finding my long lost family. I did fear rejection. I had no idea what they might make of contact from me, after more than three decades. I knew that one sibling had died for certain – the one with whom I had had the most contact. The Salvation Army were able to locate my father’s eldest sibling, who furthermore was happy for me to make contact. So I did, and I found my relative living in an area I’d known well as a young adult. We don’t have much in company, save for our ancestry, but I was able to learn some family history – I knew next to nothing – and I was loaned a HUGE box of family photographs and documents. Eventually, this relative put me onto my father’s other surviving sibling – an uncle – living on the other side of the world. I had been unable to find any record of him myself because I had incorrectly remembered his name, confusing it with that of my Godfather. Finding his contact details was not easy, but eventually by means of a daughter-in-law’s entry on the LinkedIn web site I was able to obtain an email address and I wrote to him. I received a warm and welcoming reply!

For the first time I felt a family connection. This sibling was closest in age to my father and they look similar. They also seemed to share a sense of humour. Looking at photographs gave me an idea of what my father might have looked like had he lived beyond early middle age. From my uncle I learned more about my father’s interests – most of which I happen to share – and he came alive again for me. I warmed to my uncle and liked him very much in his own right. I learned about his emigration journey, his new life and his second wife, my auntie. I so enjoyed our correspondence. This felt like relationship to cherish.

He rang me one Sunday and I chatted both to him and to my aunt for some time, sharing news and history and finding common interests. My aunt loves arts and crafts, as I do, and my uncle was learning to play the ukelele, as I was trying to learn to play the guitar. My aunt told me how delighted her husband had been when I had made contact. There were no recriminations, no hint of rejection, there was just joy.

They came to say that they loved me. I felt uncomfortable, finding myself thinking but you don’t know me and pondering whether this was heartfelt or just something that was said. The reason for this is that I don’t know what it is to be loved by family. I haven’t had that experience. My father may have loved me but our relationship had many complicating factors. My surviving parent was incapable of loving me, perhaps of loving anyone.

It’s not that I don’t welcome being loved by my long lost family. Family love is supposed to be unconditional and a founding fundamental that can be counted on as we grow. I didn’t have that experience and so this is all new to me. I am learning how to be with it.

The trauma and abuse that I experienced, and my continuing recovery from it, has impacted on our developing relationship. The email I had to write describing my father’s violence and the horrors I witnessed as a child was the most difficult. Nor was it easy either trying to explain how his suicide affected me, or how my surviving parent and a sibling had abused me, why it gone on for so long, and the resulting devastation to my life.

Describing my resulting experiences of mental illness, was hard. As I’ve previously written here, I fear being seen as weak. I fear people won’t see the real me. The last three years have been especially difficult, following the breakdown of my marriage, bereavements and further illness. I have not been in touch with my relatives nearly as much as I would’ve liked to have been, either because I haven’t had the capacity or because I haven’t known how to explain. Terminal illness, food banks, the threat of homelessness, bereavement, flashbacks and suicidal ideation have all touched my life in that time. These are not the easiest of topics of discussion.

Despite my nerves, I was determined to complete my search. My often ‘gung ho’ approach served me well here, as I forged ahead. Even if I had been rejected, I knew for certain that I would rather have tried. I didn’t want to be left wondering what if ..? 

I am genuinely thrilled to have found my uncle and aunt. Through them I also have contact details for some cousins in the UK. I had nothing before that in terms of family, everything I have now is huge bonus and I am so grateful for it. I didn’t know if any of my father’s siblings would still be alive. My uncle is, shall we say, a gentleman of advancing years. I’ve felt that time isn’t on our side and I’ve felt guilty about not doing more.

I wrote to my uncle for the first time in a few months just the other day. My aunt swiftly sent a lovely reply, but letting me know that my uncle was in hospital having had to be rushed in for heart surgery. I sensed her obvious worry and wanted him to be at home and well again for her. I felt worried for him and wanted him to be feeling much better soon and be back at home living life with his loved ones.

Inevitably, I also found myself worrying for us.

I don’t pray, I’m a Humanist, but I found myself wishing for more time. Please let us have at least a couple more years, I said aloud, please let us have that. Please let us have more time. It feels like we are just beginning. I am only just finding myself again and still have significant obstacles to overcome on this journey to recovery.

My uncle and I have met just once. I was just a few months old. He sent me a picture of himself holding me in his arms. Our conversation wasn’t up to much that day 😀  . I would love to visit them. I’ve even wildly thought of crowd-funding my airfare. Realistically, health-wise, it would be better for me to wait another year before attempting long haul travel. This all feels a bit ‘pie in the sky’, but who knows what’s around the corner.

My focus is of course on the positives but nonetheless, it is difficult and painful to know that someone wilfully robbed me of this relationship and left me without family for three decades. I had already lost my father in devastating circumstances and they ensured that I lost even more. Sometimes, I feel angry. I know that I have yet to fully heal from this because it’s only now in knowing some of my paternal relatives that I can fully begin to appreciate what I have missed out on. Now as well as celebrating and embracing these new relationships, I also need to grieve.

I’ve never had a happy family dinner or celebration. I’ve never been warmly embraced by a family member. I’ve never known what it was to have a family member feel proud of me or be there for me when I needed somewhere to turn.

I hope, as Operation Thrive continues a pace, that these family relationships can thrive too. Some much time has been lost. We can’t get that back. We can only try to make the most of what we’ve got.

Thank you for reading.

Heart x

P.s. How exciting that I’ve just been able to add the category ‘Family’ to my blog, for this post 🙂 .

 

 

Shared from WordPress

I just had to reblog this because it’s such a delightful post. I hope you’ll enjoy it and perhaps also enjoy reading more entries on Dara’s blog.

I confess that I’d be too squeamish to ‘snuggle a snail’ but, to my surprise, I throughly enjoyed reading this post all about them, because the enthusiasm and fascination of this young wildlife-watcher shines through, and is altogether life-affirming. 

30 Days Wild – Day 19 Snuggle a snail!  – http://wp.me/p7DHGo-1wD

Eating Insoles: a footnote 

You might like to know that those cornflakes were improved by a little sprinkling of sugar! 

I do have a sweet tooth but I don’t add sugar to anything much. I can’t abide it in tea or coffee. I don’t usually add it to cereal of any type, but in this case sugar was a welcome sweetener. 

Trauma Therapy – Session #1 Friday, 4th November, 2016

This post concerns Trauma Counselling provided by a voluntary sector organisation free of charge via weekly 50 minute telephone sessions (free call) initially for 12 weeks, with the option to extend for up to 12 months. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll refer to my therapist as ‘Pea’.
See this post for a brief round-up of my therapy history. 

therapy

I rang in at 1pm only to hear a message informing me that all counsellors were busy. I should have got straight through to my counsellor at that time. I panicked momentarily, then tried again and got through.

This is my first experience of therapy delivered via the telephone. I would prefer face-to-face sessions because I believe body language is an important part of communication. The only other slight drawback is that my therapist is Italian and has a strong accent, which sometimes leads to misunderstandings on my part. I need to learn to be assertive and it will do me good to learn to ask her to repeat herself. I currently find this excruciating to do. Drawbacks aside, this is what is available to me right now and I am very much in need of therapy and so grateful to have it. On the plus side, as a #spoonie, if I am unwell I need go no further than my own phone and could have a session in my pyjamas if necessary!

I had missed my session the previous week, which should have been my first, as I was in crisis and feeling beyond help. Pea explained that while some of my previous therapists had asserted that they were in no way a ‘crisis service’, she has no such qualms. She said,
“My intention is to meet people where they are.”
I found this statement encouraging and scribbled it down into my bullet journal (I’m a recent convert) in order that I could remind myself of it.

I don’t remember quite how we got there but we moved on to speaking about my sense of my life having always been built on quicksand, and how that fuels my natural drive turbo-changing it to top speed. She commented that I was speaking quickly. I explained that I hadn’t been aware of that but that I felt my speech reflected my racing thoughts. I feel such pressure to change things, to do so much to improve my situation, to fully recover and thrive, and put firm foundations in place. I feel so overwhelmed by it all and so alone with it. I’m tired of always battling so very hard. However, the fear of being swallowed up by the quicksand ensures I remain hyper-vigilant and in ‘hyper-drive’!

Pea asked if I would like to try to put some foundations in place there and then. I readily agreed. She proceeded to lead me gently through what I immediately recognised to be a guided meditation/mindfulness exercise (See Take10 for free here to try a similar exercise for yourself). I was to concentrate on my body and its relationship with the chair on which I sat and, particularly, my feet on my wooden floor. Pea asked if I could feel the firm foundation beneath my feet. I thought yes and said so, but I also immediately felt a rapid fire thought – with the power of an immense wave – that, because my flat is rented, I could lose it at any time …

big-wave-surfing-1

I persisted and ultimately, by keeping my focus on the moment … myself sitting on my chair … my feet, I was able to slow my breathing and my thoughts. The new thoughts that came felt like light clouds gently drifting by … I found myself thinking that yes I could feel that firm foundation, that solid foundation beneath my feet. Furthermore, that while I acknowledged that I have little money, do not own my home and there is a sense of insecurity in that, that right now in this moment it is my home and it is secure … and this moment is all that any of us have.

light-clouds-drifting

I’ve previously found mindfulness to be very beneficial but I’ve struggled to maintain consistent practice. I’m taking steps to change that.

This was the first time I’d felt at all able to shed the forever sense of peril due to the quicksand. I couldn’t believe that I could so quickly feel a sense of firm foundations! I said ‘Wow’ … and felt it. I also felt a sense of peace – which has hitherto been as scarce as hen’s teeth in my life.

Pea asked if I might like to take a piece of paper and draw something to represent that peace as we continued to chat. I already had pen and paper in front of me (they’re ever present). She also suggested using some colour and I (a very arty sort) instantly reached for fat crayons. What fun! I drew the word peace and shafts of yellow and orange light radiating from it while light clouds drifted by.

Soon Pea remarked on the time and we discussed how we would draw the session to a close and then did so. I felt that the 50 minutes had whizzed by but I also felt that we had connected well and that our first session had been both productive and valuable.

Much as last week, I have no idea where we will begin next session. There still seems to me to be so much to tackle and I can struggle to prioritise it. However, I shall aim not to worry about it, remain ‘in the moment’ and trust that it will come together as it did last week.