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Weekends…

Weekends…

Six o’clock on a Saturday evening and I’ve run out of things to do. My house is clean, the laundry done, my planning and preparation for next week’s teaching is complete. So I’m sat here home alone, my grown up children all out living their lives.

Before marriage and children, I had an active social life. I knew a large group of people and on any night of the week there were numerous pubs or music venues I could go to and someone I knew would be there, we could have a drink and a chat or sit in companionable silence and listen to whatever band happened to be playing.

As we grew older these friends got married, had children and moved away. My siblings all moved back home and I was left here with three young children and a husband who’s life revolved around his hobbies of motorbikes and drinking. His drinking took place in the evenings after work meaning he was rarely home Monday to Friday. His weekends were spent riding or working on his motorbikes, a hobby that did not involve me.

For twenty three years my life has revolved around my children, looking after them, ferrying them to activities, matches and competitions. For most of that time I also worked outside the home so didn’t get to form the school gate friendships that most other mothers take for granted. My husband wasn’t interested in socialising with any of the people I met through school or church, and as most of women I knew socialised with husbands or partners in tow I rarely got asked to join any events and when I did my husband refused to go. As I worked coffee mornings were also difficult.

My opportunities to make friends were further limited by my husband’s point blank refusal to either come home of an evening, or stay in so that I could go out. His view was that a wife was there to run his house and look after the children and my needs should have been fulfilled by that. His family was just for show really, he could tell people that he was married and had three kids thus proving his virility and ability to provide, building a picture in his head and to outsiders of a wonderful husband and father when he was far from either.

While he never physically stopped me from going out, he made it very difficult. When I made arrangements to meet friends I would let him know my plans and ask that he be home to care for the children, he would frequently “forget” despite regular reminders and notes in his diary, or something would come up and he wouldn’t be able to get away. Time and time again I would either fail to turn up at restaurants, theatres, gigs or would have to text my friends to tell them that I wouldn’t be there. I cannot blame them when they then started to plan things without me, tickets were bought, tables booked and I wasn’t invited and slowly contact diminished and the people I needed most in my life drifted away.

The people who could have allowed me to see that my life, my relationship was not normal were no longer there. I was alone, and isolated and began to withdraw, becoming depressed and agoraphobic. I left my job as I couldn’t find the confidence, the drive within me to keep going.

I don’t know if the isolation was a deliberate ploy on my husband’s behalf or if I just wasn’t strong enough. We had plenty of discussions with regard to my needs for a social life but nothing ever changed, he didn’t want to socialise with me and he wasn’t prepared to change his life so that I could socialise without him.

Now I am free to do what I want, but I spend every weekend home alone. I don’t know how to change this. I’ve tried to make friends, invited people I’ve met through work , yoga and Reiki to coffee, lunch etc. but everyone is always so busy, they always seem to have plans, people to see, things to do.

I do venture out on my own during the day, I will bring a book and sit in a café by the river and read or watch the world go by, I often walk miles by myself. It is the evenings that I would most like some company, someone to talk to but venturing out on my own at night is too scary a prospect. I am not ready for another romantic relationship so dating is out, I’ve tried Meetup without success. Sadly, I am coming to the conclusion that it is me, that there is something about me that doesn’t appeal to the people I meet, I wish I knew what it was and I could perhaps change it.

In the meantime I sit and wish the weekends away, no Sunday evening blues here, I look forward to Mondays when I am back to work teaching children. Their curiosity, liveliness, pure joy in the moment lights up my life.

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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in General, Healing, Life, Reiki

 

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Intentions…

Intentions…

Yesterday after yoga one of my fellow yogis, who is about ten years younger than me, commented that she was jealous of the control I have over my body, the ease with which I can move from one pose to another. I questioned her use of the word control.

Control to me has connotations of force, of trying to exert dominance over something or somebody. Having spent years in a controlling relationship I strive for steadiness and balance on my mat and in my life off the mat. I try not to exercise control over anything. Yes, I can tell my body, my breath, my mind what I want it to do, but often my body doesn’t want to move the way I would like it to. My breath doesn’t want to be held or the speed of it wants to be slower or faster than I am trying to produce. Often times my mind wants to go off on tangents, it doesn’t want to be still, or concentrate on whatever it is I have decided I want to do. And I have learnt to accept that some days balancing will be easy, on other days it’s just not going to happen, there are days when I will achieve a lot in terms of reading or work and others when the day seems to fly past with me seemingly doing nothing at all.

For years, I was a slave to the “to do” list, I would get anxious if I hadn’t done the things on my list each day. I still write lists but I am more relaxed and realistic about the time it takes to complete things and better able to prioritise. I can also see that motive is also a major decider in what gets done and what gets left.

Yoga and Reiki have helped me let go of trying to control what I can’t, to learn to be at ease with what I do achieve and accept that what hasn’t been done wasn’t meant to happen. They have also taught me to take a step back and assess why I am doing something, why I feel compelled to achieve certain things, what benefit it has to me and those around me.

I have discovered that even when we approach things with the purest of intentions there can be other things lurking behind.  I offered someone who had been diagnosed with cancer, and was going through chemotherapy, free Reiki treatments. She turned me down, Reiki just isn’t her thing. I was upset and questioned my motives for offering in the first place. I did have her health and well-being at the forefront of my mind, to help her deal with the treatment, to allow her to be able to give it her best shot. I wanted her to be healthy. And behind this was “me”, I wanted her to get better because I enjoy having her in my life, I wasn’t ready to lose her, and seeing her suffer also caused me pain. Reiki would have benefited both of us, but it was not part of her journey  and on reflection my offer was to a large extent more about me than her.

Now when giving Reiki treatments, in order to not have mixed motives or unrealistic expectations,  I set the intention that whatever comes of this treatment is for the highest good of all recipients  and so it is.

 

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2018 in General, Healing, Life, Reiki, Yoga

 

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Parents…

Parents…

I don’t understand how my mother can be so cruel and heartless towards my father. He can’t help the way he is and I’m pretty sure it hurts him too. I know she is upset at seeing him like that and angry too, possibly, at the unfairness of it all but to be so rough with him and constantly telling him off. It really got to me. It makes me wonder how she actually dealt with us as children, when we hurt ourselves or were crying. I do remember being hit and I remember being told to stop crying or I’d be given something to really make me cry.

She has no empathy or sympathy for him, I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to be unable to communicate even your basic needs to others, to be reliant on them asking the right questions and interpreting your head and hand movements and then being unable to explain if they get it wrong.

Seeing him, a man who ten years ago was up mountains on a regular basis and thought nothing of tipping his ride on mower over to check for things caught in the blades, sat in a wheelchair without the strength to haul himself up to standing let alone walk is heart-breaking. He was always very practical and active, he made built-in wardrobes for our childhood home, built boats as a hobby and to make extra money, the reel to reel tape deck, record player and amplifiers we had at home he assembled himself. He worked hard to provide a comfortable life for my mother and us. Now, he sits in a chair and stares into space, struggles to wipe his nose or feed himself, needs help to get dressed and do the normal everyday things we take for granted.

And my mother treats him like a nuisance and actually tries to avoid going to visit him if she can. She says she loves him but can’t bear to see him the way he is. For me that strikes of pure selfishness, he is still him, his sense of humour remains intact, he understands what we say to him and recognises us. Just being there with him, holding his hand, talking to him or around him but so that he is included in the conversation is enough for him. He greets you with such a heart-warming smile and still gives a powerful hug despite not being able to stand.

Trying to comprehend how she cannot see that he is there, he looks at her with such love in his eyes and such pain when she doesn’t respond to his touch or pulls away, does my head in. She lives in her own little bubble where it seems that everything that happens is done to cause her hurt, pain or upset. She acts like my father has purposely gotten Alzheimer’s as a way to punish her or hurt her.

For years, when I have visited my parents I had my children with me so was always distracted by taking care of them and their needs and so spent little time with my parents alone. It is only in the last few years that my children have been old enough for me to leave them to their own devices that I have actually spent long periods of time with my mother. During these periods, I have listened to her talk, to her worries and have realised that she really cannot see beyond her own point of view, she is unable to even countenance the fact that they may be a different way of looking at things. Now in her eighties, I doubt she is going to see the light any time soon and that I am going to have to learn to, hard as it is to accept that.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2018 in Communication, General, Life

 

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Til death do us part…

Til death do us part…

The sight of his name appearing in my email inbox or text messages still has the power to make my heart pound and my hands to shake. All the old feelings come flooding back. the fear, the uselessness I felt. How difficult it was to make myself seen let alone heard. Even in written communication he still manages to ignore my opinions or desires. It is as always about what he wants, what is best for him.

I refuse to actually see him so all communication is via email or text, though I try to limit the texts.  The children see him on a regular basis and it seems nothing much has changed, they often come home deflated and angry where he has put them down or spent their time together questioning them about my life, what I spend money on, who I’m seeing, though they try their best to avoid this and to divert his attention to other things.

In some ways they are as afraid of him as I am. They are spending Christmas with him. They don’t want but are too scared of his reaction to tell him so. I started a new job a few months ago but they have avoided mentioning it to him as they are afraid of his ranting about money and how he will take it that I am now earning, slightly, more. I will admit to asking them in the beginning not to mention it as we had just agreed finances for the divorce and I didn’t want to put a spanner in the works as it had taken three years to reach an agreement but now that the divorce has come through there is no reason not to.

Of course it is their choice to see him, he is their father and they love him. They are however beginning to recognise that the goal posts keep changing, what made them loveable and him proud six months ago no longer does. They are in many ways a disappointment to him, none of them high fliers, or hugely talented in any particular area. It makes it hard for him to realise his dreams and live through his children and they pay for that. He doesn’t see them for the kind, caring, compassionate and beautiful people they are but as props to enhance the illusion he likes to present to the world.

He doesn’t have to deal with the day to day fallout of this, the anxiety and lack of confidence that comes from being eternally crushed. When they tell him of things they are proud of achieving and get either no response or questioned as to why they hadn’t done better, achieved more, it saddens me. He complains that they have no confidence but doesn’t see his role in that nor does he see that telling them this is not going improve matters. They are young adults starting their journeys in a world that is much harder to navigate than the one we occupied at the same age yet the expectations  are even higher.

His world revolves around him and the impression he wishes to create of himself and sadly, we have all failed him so he takes his misery and disappointment out on us. Leaving the marriage and divorcing have had little impact on his behaviour and his words and actions continue to affect us all deeply and to ripple through family life.  Freedom is far more than a piece of paper and I’m not sure if I will ever truly break free until death do us part.

 

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The slow burn…

The slow burn…

Today a  video  was posted online in conjunction with Surrey Police and Women’s aid about coercive control, calling “Walking on Eggshells” to raise public awareness of coercive control. As I watched it all came flooding back, the trepidation with which I would greet my ex in the evenings, moderating my tone of voice, the language I used and how I actually phrased my words. All in an effort not to provoke a reaction, of any sort. I never knew if I was going to be yelled at, given a disdainful look or the silent treatment.

I learnt over the years to move around the house in silence and during night time hours in darkness for fear of disturbing him from his television viewing, gaming or sleeping. When the children made, what I now recognise as normal amounts of , noise I would shush them, heart in my mouth, hoping that he wouldn’t hear them or if he did that he wouldn’t be in ones of his moods. Sometimes he would shout at them to be quiet but more often once I had settled them either to a quiet activity or to sleep I would be lectured. This was always done sotto voce which was far more scary than being shouted at, there was true menace in his softly spoken words, the way his mouth would move, the look in his eyes and the clenched fists.

Of course it wasn’t like this in the beginning, but looking back I can see the signs were there. I chose to ignore them. I was insecure, I hadn’t had a long relationship before and had been through a life changing event that almost destroyed me. Here was this handsome, charming man who liked me. All the girls in my social group thought he was fantastic and boys thought he was “solid”, however I was to learn over the years that this persona he displayed outside the relationship was just an act.

In private, he was mean, lazy, selfish and  increasingly bad-tempered. The trouble with this was even though I tried to tell people what was going on, trying to gauge what other people’s relationships were like, no one believed me. I was cast as a complainer, someone who didn’t know when they had it good.

Inside I was dying, escaping an abusive relationship when no-one believes you, when they fall for his charms is no easy task. Even when on the rare occasion he let the mask slip in public he was forgiven as he always maintained it was stress that caused his outbursts. He came across as the poor misunderstood husband who was working himself to an early grave for his family. He was very good at playing the victim, of turning the tables and twisting everything so that he always came out looking like the good guy.

The problem with this is made me feel like I was going slowly mad. I started to doubt myself, he never remembered conversations we had and would accuse me of not telling him things when I knew I had. I started journaling and writing out the conversations as soon after as possible. Within a few weeks the pattern was very clear and I began to believe in my truth and to disregard what he told me. Identifying his lies and manipulations helped me gain the confidence I needed to start the process of leaving him.

While the video, mentioned above, does a fine job, it would take hours to explain to someone who has never experienced this kind of abuse how it affects a person and how actually when you are in the relationship fighting on a daily basis just to keep your head above water how difficult it is to recognise and do something about it. It is a long slow insidious depletion of your self-esteem, your confidence and extremely isolating. Finding the courage to talk about it takes enormous strength and it takes real guts to stand up to an abuser and leave.

And for many of us leaving, sadly, does not mean the end of the abuse…

 
 

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The long goodbye…

The long goodbye…

Why is that even when we know a relationship has reached its end, there is no good feeling between you anymore, you bring each other down, you argue, even their very presence causes inner rage, and still we can’t let them go. That final goodbye is so hard.

We drag it out. We sit in silence and stare at our phones. There are no words left to be said, or the ones that are left will cause too much hurt, as much harm to the one saying the words as to the one hearing them.

Sometimes love just isn’t enough to hold us together, especially when one loves more than the other, When love means different things, when one believes they can love enough for two. In the beginning that overwhelming love blinds you to hard reality and even when it hits you in face you still refuse to see it. Naivety and hope win the day.

As life progresses and the daily battles grind you down it is easier to ignore those little differences, to sweep them aside, there are always more important things to deal with. Actually it is the little things that break the relationship in the end, because there are just too many of them and when you can’t deal with little everyday problems when the large real problems come along they seem insurmountable.

Love is not deferring to someone else to keep the peace, nor is it putting their needs constantly above yours. Allowing yourself to be put down, to change who you are to meet someone else’s approval or to gain their supposed love does not make for good relationships. It hands someone else your power, it gives them control over your happiness.

I wish I’d realised that years ago. That my version of love was not true love, I loved him with all my heart, but those feelings weren’t really reciprocated. I know that now, there was no empathy, no caring, no gentleness, at times it seemed as if he didn’t even really like me let alone love me.

We should have said goodbye years ago, we were falling apart before we even got married, deep in my heart I knew that, I knew he would never love me the way I needed or wanted him to. I was so scared of facing life on my own that I clung to a relationship that was one-sided for years after I should have let it go.

He was clinging on too, for reasons I can only surmise, during our final proper conversation he told me that he didn’t want to break up the marriage but he didn’t want anything to change, he was apparently happy with things just the way were.

Our divorce papers came through last month and though we have yet to sell the  marital home it feels like it is finally goodbye. I can let go, forgive and hopefully move on with my life.

It’s been a very long goodbye…

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2018 in Communication, General, Healing, Life, Memories

 

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Whose lie is it?

Whose lie is it?

My marriage was a lie, all twenty one years of it. For him the importance of marriage was not the vows he made, nor even the idea of a lifelong partnership, no it was fulfilling a societal expectation. He appeared happily married to all those around him. His fertility and hence his masculinity proved by producing three children. He often boasted that he alone among his colleagues had managed to sustain a long marriage. Sadly, it wasn’t love that kept him in the marriage but his obsession with his appearance to the world around him.

 

For me marriage was the cornerstone of family, it was supposed to provide a lifelong partnership. We would become a team united against all that the world could throw at us. Parenting was part of that too. I imagined in my naivety bringing our children up together, doing bedtime routines, sharing the early mornings and sleepless nights. Weekends spent out and about with the children, having fun, teaching them about the countryside and the sea, instilling in them a sense of wonder and love of the country and planet they occupied.

 

The truth was a far cry from how I dreamt of rearing my children. Mostly, it was me, on my own. As the years went by the responsibility and crushing loneliness got to me. I was barely alive, treading water, collapsing into bed each night hoping that either I wouldn’t wake up in the morning or that by some miracle tomorrow might be different. That something, anything would change.

 

I too was living a lie. My marriage was not even a relationship. We were two people with different agendas living side by side. The love disappeared and resentment built. The more time passed the harder it became to see what had got me there in the first place, I hated him and I hated who I had become even more. Fear kept me there, fear of speaking up for myself, fear that that he would, as he threatened to, take the children away from me, make sure I was left with nothing. I thought the pain was already unbearable and the idea of ripping my family apart tore at the very fabric of my soul.

 

As the children grew and needed me less, I had time to think, to reflect and explore, to look at the life behind me and what lay before me. I was broken.

 

The lie was not mine. I had made my vows and stuck by them to the best of my ability, he had never had any intention of keeping his, I was a convenience, a tool that created the image he wanted for his life. However by staying I was complicit in the lie, does that make it mine too? Does that make me culpable? Does it matter in the end who’s lie it was?

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in Depression, General, Healing, Life, Memories

 

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