Heart REset on living (a.k.a the power of hope)

I do love that title but I can’t take the credit for it – thanks my friend for coming up with it, it’s inspired, you know who you are.

Well … what a difference a day makes!

Writing the post Heart set on dying?’ on Friday was excruciating. On Twitter, I likened it to performing open heart surgery on myself. Certainly readers who are familiar with my blog noted it to be my most ‘raw’ post to date. It left me feeling very exposed. I even toyed with the idea of deleting the post an hour or so after publishing it, which is, I think, a first. I’m not afraid to explore difficult stuff, but I’ll do it with a smile, with humour, anything to deflect, otherwise I might be troubling you; you might judge or reject me.

You might think me weak.

I can feel a barrier in my mind when I try to really capture my feelings around that thought but I know this much; it’s a fundamental for me. Being consistently told when I was growing up that I was weak and lesser, in a multitude of ways, had a huge impact. I never wholly believed it, a life-saving grace, but I was deeply affected by my family’s apparent belief in it and it has left me with a deep-seated fear of being deemed weak.

Primarily, I wrote that post first and foremost to try to release the pressure in my head; its volatile contents were fit to explode. I did also hope to connect in some way, otherwise I could’ve just scribbled in a notebook. I didn’t, I chose to write here and publicly post. Secondly, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of dying without having put my ‘story’ out there, by that I mean without someone at least knowing what my life has really involved and who I really am. Third, I’d no expectation of being able to reach someone in a way that resulted in meaningful connection but the spark within that fuels me, held hope of it.

I knew there was every likelihood that my teenage best friend would read that post, as I introduced her to my blog earlier this year in what was a tentative step on my part to try to decrease the distance that I had put between us. I did not expect that she would read it late that very night and turn up on my doorstep the next day!

Yep, she did.

She lives almost 200 miles away – something like a six hour round trip –  and we last saw each other in 2002.

We use a messaging app to chat. When, yesterday, a photo of my friend, who is not given to selfies, popped up, the background of which looked like the distinctive city where I live, I was a little bemused. I assumed I’d got it wrong, or that it was an old photograph. I could see that she was writing a further message and calmly awaited further explanation.

I am on my way to put the kettle on … it began.

I gasped, for a moment I thought she was kidding before swiftly considering that she would not joke having read that post, which I knew for certain she had.

***

So, we hadn’t seen each other for 15 years – we’ve known each other for 33 years.

I don’t think a year has gone by without some sort of contact, even if just a scribbled note in a greetings card. We perhaps connected on social media between three and five years ago, I can’t remember. We’ve certainly chatted frequently online for the last year, if not longer than that. I curse my addled my memory here for not being able to remember.

They say that the best of friends can pick up where they left off, no matter the time that has elapsed, as though it were only yesterday. I’ve heard this, friends have said it of my friendships with them, but I hadn’t seen it until yesterday.

“Let’s have a cuppa”, she said.

“I haven’t got any milk”, I said, genuinely appalled … and fearing that I could never again set foot in our Lancashire homeland having committed the cardinal sin of not being able to offer someone ‘a brew’.

“You have now”, said she, revealing a pint of milk with a familiar flourish, swiftly followed by teabags, coffee, a choice of sandwiches, strawberries, chocolate, fresh juice, and dinners for the following three nights courtesy of M&S. She’d remembered that I’m vegetarian. There was also tissues  – in case we got emotional – and the softest, most ‘snuggle-up-able’ ‘comforter’ in one of my favourite colours. That girl got it covered!

If you read Heart set on dying? you can probably imagine that my socks had been well and truly blown off by this time.

Given the distance that I put between us, given that she was the friend that I seemed to have most feared confiding in as my ‘car crash’ of an adult life unfolded, I was staggered to realise that I felt comfortable, that there was not a moment of awkwardness. We chatted and meandered about my flat, like it was something we do every week.

That fear of confiding seems to have been rooted in shame, a perception that she must surely see me as a ‘failure’, a ‘dropout’ or a ‘loser’. She and I went through our teenage years together, closely entwined, with different dreams and ambitions but with a path mapped out through O level and A level examinations and on to the hallowed territory of university. Amid the abuse, I fell at the first hurdle and I had long been left behind by the time I fought my way back onto the path and ultimately made it to university. Perhaps I feared her reaction most because she mattered most, I don’t know. I am sure that it will be healing to explore those feelings in future therapy. For now, they are difficult to access, I’ve had to ‘shut down’ a great deal over the years in order to continue to put one foot in front of the other. Now I know that I am accepted, not judged but embraced. It’s a new feeling and I sense it will take some time to embed itself and take root.

I was shocked to be reminded that she knew more than I thought, as she recounted, among other things, my often reluctance, and fear of, going home. She knew, back then, that I was unhappy, and that my surviving parent was ‘odd’ to say the least, but nothing of the violence or details of other abuse that was the basis of my daily life. Abusers school in silence. This was the first time I’d discussed my situation, my abuse, in any detail with someone who was in my life at the time. It was emotional, it was powerful, it was tough but I was really glad to do it. It was validating, and it’s also helping me to begin to fit together some of the pieces of that ‘Ultra Jigsaw’. I’d like to write more on that, but I am time pressed today and I have a mountain to climb tomorrow and I need to prepare for it.

I wish I could tell you my friend’s maiden name. I have always known it but only this afternoon did it suddenly loom large in my mind making me gasp and then laugh. I am not superstitious but to think that through those terrible teenage years amid the horrors of my abusive home life, I had a best friend with a name to suggest that I should, that I could hold on to her. We used to read our horoscopes with glee and anticipation back then, and asked burning questions of a sort of a pendulum constructed of a necklace and a ring, you know that thing? You’d think they might have nudged me to note the obvious!

Thank you to those who read ‘Heart set on dying’, and sent messages of comfort and support. Please know that you are valued.

Yesterday’s visit meant more than I say and has given me yet more still. I began to capitalise on it immediately and when I’ve the ‘spoons’ , and the time … there is always so much to do, I will write here, in explanation.

Thank you, as ever, for reading. Comments welcome.

Heart x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the leap

I’m almost surprised that the cogs of my brain can’t be heard clanking with all the wrangling, wracking, worrying and wondering that’s going on in there. 

Momentarily inspired, I’ve just jotted a few suggestions under the title of that third listHow Do I Get From One To The Other? 

  •  with the help of the local advocacy service 
  • by knowing my rights
  • by recognising my worth
  • by being helped to assert my needs and secure ways to have them met
  • by learning to be confident that I an deserving regardless of how some have acted as though I was not 

I can be very assertive and can advocate for the world and his dog, but the effects of abuse and trauma impede my ability to do it for myself. 


No Tigger left behind 

You might think that as someone who experiences reactive depression and suicidal ideation that I’d be a bit of an Eeyore.

But oh no, I am most definitely a Tigger. Boundless enthusiasm and plenty of bounce that’s me! I can almost hear myself go Boing …. .

In the early hours of this morning after my post Terror, I received this image from a Twitter friend with the hash tag #noTiggerleftbehind. It brought such a smile to my face. 

Ours is a fledgling friendship, not so much.in time terms but in trust which for me is challenging in friendships because of my trauma related experiences. It’s conducted via social media and, more recently, occasionally a natter on the phone. We live at practically opposite ends of the country and have never met. 

I may be alone in most terms but would like to believe that perhaps I do matter to some however it might appear that my demise wouldn’t be felt by anyone. 

The image is now the wallpaper on my phone for purposes of regular smiles.  

Operation Fight Back: Day 2

This morning this made me laugh …

This was under the lid of a   newly opened pot of 'extra firming neck cream.'
This was under the lid of a newly opened pot of ‘extra firming neck cream.’

It’s not the best photograph. I had issues with transferring images from my phone to my laptop this morning. Only after I’d finally managed it did I realise that it wasn’t the clearest of images … I hadn’t time or patience to try again 🙂 .

I was pleased with my treadmill stats this morning – 12mins 47, 10mins jog, 2mins brisk walk, 0.62miles. Not bad for a girl with physical health problems back on the treadmill after two years or thereabouts and after two months spent on the sofa.

Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well last night BUT I was still up by 9am. I did 25 reps of all four of my physiotherapy exercises plus 18 stomach crunches before getting onto the treadmill.  I ate a small bowl of porridge with skimmed milk and a handful of fresh blueberries and two slices of toasting malt loaf with a smidge of soya spread. I drank plenty of water and  a large mug of tea with skimmed.

I achieved three out of five of yesterday’s further aims. I didn’t get around to meditating, although I was frequently mindful, and I didn’t get outside. The latter because I made the mistake of confiding in someone very close to me yesterday about how much I have been struggling and asking for support. They didn’t react well. Although I’ve learned that I am not responsible for others behaviour and that it is not a reflection of my worth; I felt very sad and hurt. I was also physically exhausted and felt wrung out.

I surprised myself by getting through it. I tried calling the Samaritans but I couldn’t speak. I texted a couple of people of trusted people.  I ate carefully and mindfully. I was kind to myself and practised a lot of positive self talk. My mood rose again to a manageable level and held. I went to bed with hope in my heart and a smile for myself.

Today’s further aims:

  • send at least one of three important emails
  • a ‘pamper mission’ – I think this will be doing some art work
  • try to get outside for a brief walk locally
  • a laundry load and a little cleaning and tidying to keep on top of things

This morning was beautifully bright and sunny. It was lovely to wake to so much light after a difficult night. There are clouds about now but I hope the sun will hold its own for a while longer.