Why do we do it, hide behind our demons. What are we afraid of, to step out and share? A problem shared is a problem halved, right?
Did you, do you, feel trapped. Trapped in a situation, a relationship and feel like you are drowning, disappearing? Did you know, there is a way out, you just have to put your trust in someone….. YOU!
I was 19 when I realised that I had this ‘power’.
I got engaged when I was 18. It was a magical, deep emotional love. A whirlwind romance. We got engaged after 3 months. I was completely swept off my feet.
He was kind, funny, attentive. Until after about 6 months, when attentive and kind, turned to possession and obsession.
It was a slow and gradual transition, so slow and gradual, that it almost evaded me. I was young and naive, and in love.
It started first with words, then a shove, a push, a punch, a kick and a strangulation. There is a new word for how it begins these days, ‘gaslighting’. Back then, anything to do with gas light, was exactly that, a light.
How easy we can be manipulated without really knowing what is happening.
It went on for 18 months and all the while in silence. I was ashamed and had no voice with which to tell anyone what was going on in my ‘secret life’.
On the outside, all looked fine and dandy, because that is the picture you want to portray. We all portray a fine and dandy picture one way or another, at some time or another. Yet, we all suffer, one thing or another.
It may be a bad relationship. It may be caring for a sick child, a disabled child. A sick or disabled parent. A job we hate. Ourselves, that we despise. What ever it is, there is something that we all tend to gloss over and hide.
At almost 20 I had decided that it was time to find my power to escape this secret life.
He came back from the pub, drunk, so drunk and I pretended to be asleep. It was after 2.00 a.m in the morning. He decided he wanted a fight. First he raised his voice to ‘wake me up’, then he smashed a few ornaments before throwing me on top of them. Next he hurled the bed up onto its side, before sitting astride on me and placing his big hands around my neck while screaming and shouting and strangling me.
I was terrified. I screamed in the hope that the neighbour would bang the door down, or at the very least, call the police. They did neither.
Next, he grabbed me by the skin of my chest and swung me from the floor to the window, all the time holding on, and bashing me against it, over and over and I screamed some more, thinking I was going to die by falling through the upstairs window to the ground below.
Exhaustion took hold of him and he finally let go. Thank god it was a sash window. The horizonal wood across the middle almost certainly saved my life.
I tried to calm him, apolgise to him, appease him. Eventually, it worked and adrenalin had left his body and left him as weak as a kitten
I escaped. I quietly tip toed down stairs, opened the front door and ran, in nothing but my bare feet, underwear and flimsy dressing gown, into the night.
I told myself I would rather be raped and murdered by a stranger than stay with this monster who purported to love me.
I realised, as I finally made it safely, to a fiends house some miles away, that the choice was mine to make.
I loved HIM dearly and with all my heart. However, I despised and was terrified of his behaviour when he was drunk.
We had been in this abusive situation many times, but that night, I decided, would be the last. Love was not enough to endure this abuse any more.
We all have our demons, our faults, our capacity to deal with adversity, whatever the adversity may be. However, we all have our strength, our power, our resilience, there within us. It is a matter of choice, not chance, when we decide to tap into it, hold it by the hand and bring it to the forefront of our battle.
That time of making that choice, is usually when we have had ‘enough’. Our ‘enough’, not some one elses. We have to decide, when we want to stand up for ourselves. Ask for help, for ourselves. Let others know what our demons are, what our cross is that we have to bare, and share the load.
It is not weak to ask for help. It is not weak to walk away. It is not weak to stay. Transition often takes time. As gradual as this new situation crept into our lives, can often take a gradual transition to deal with and cope with and understand or even break free from it, depending on what ‘it’ is.
In one way I am glad that I encountered such horror so early in life because it set me up, on alert for every situation that I found myself in ever since. It prepared me to weigh up my options, to accept or become absent. To seek help or to walk away.
Each relationship, good, bad, indifferent teaches us something. There is learning in every single encounter that we have. It is in the learning, that we grow stronger and more resilient.
But, it is in the choices we make whether we decide to stay stuck in our secret lives or whether to share our ‘secret life’ and offload our pain, our troubles, our worries and tales of woe with others so as to feel not so alone, ashamed or isolated.
The power of sharing is the secret to unlocking the power within you, me and everyone.
The season to be jolly, is now upon us, but is it all twinkles and sparkles?
I took this picture yesterday. It is one of Brown Thomas’s windows in Dublin City. You will see the writing at the bottom left says ‘possibilities’. To me there is drama in the photo, a space woman and her space pod surrounded by baubles or mini planets, but isn’t she fabulous. The possibilities for her starting somewhere new, starting something new, are endless, if she is brave enough to try.
At this time of year, as Christmas approaches, we may all take time to reflect on the year behind us. The hopes and dreams that were realised, the gains and the losses we have experienced, the paths we did not intend to take, but took nevertheless and the new goals and wishes we intend to set for ourselves as we step into the next new year.
I love the idea of Christmas. I love the twinkle and sparkle of the lights, the decorations, the shop windows, the excitement of children looking forward to Santa. The reality of Christmas though, is often a stark contrast what we perceive it to be or believe it should be.
As I walked along the streets in Dublin, where decorations adorned the buildings, cardboard and makeshift beds, with damp sleeping bags lay in an alcove, or by a railing, tucked to the side, to be used later in the day and night.
Where some people were busking and demonstrating their many talents, others were sitting, despondent and defeated, holding out a cup, in the hope of getting a few coins.
I wondered where both cohorts would sleep that night. How warm, how comfortable, how joyous or how full of dread they would be, heading into the Festive season or whether it would be just another day rolling into the other for them.
It is a season of conflict, a season of extremes. For some children there will be no Santa on Christmas morning, no food, no comfort, no warmth, but instead deep sadness, loneliness, perhaps fear and despair and wondering why Santa had again, forgotten about them and not called to their home.
Each year many children telephone Childline, for numerous different reasons and this is a critical support for children of all ages. Most of Childline’s funding comes from fundraising and donations from the generosity of ordinary people like you and me. I once organised a fundraiser for them and raised almost a thousand euro, and the event I organised was fun and interactive and the people who came had a great time and were very generous with their donations.
Barnardos, the ISPCC, Make a wish, Jack and Jill to name but a few more charities that actively support disadvantaged and sick children, could not do it without the help and generosity of us, joe blogs, by donating money, goods, our time etc etc. The possibilities are endless when we come together, seek out, dig deep and remember that so many of us are more fortunate than others, and at this time of year, especially, seek out what can we do to help those less fortunate.
Times are tough, and some people may just want a listening ear, or a call to see if they are OK. Christmas is, after all, about giving. Even giving someone a hug or a compliment can make their day.
It may be someone’s first Christmas without a loved one, and they may be struggling with that, knowing their future will never be quite the same. I understand that feeling, having lost my dad and best friend withing 6 months of each other. It is tough. What can we do for people who have suffered loss? We can just try to be kind and understanding and offer hope and our presence, that is often the best present someone can receive.
Like the spacewomen entering her new phase, starting out somewhere new, or something new, it doesn’t have to feel or be hopeless, it can be hopeful, exciting, curious, but it has to start with what she will seek out, what she will try, what she will surrender to and what she can offer. It is often in the offering and giving, that the greatest joy is felt.
‘Good will to all men (women and children)’, is the best way for ‘the season to be jolly’. We cannot fix everyone’s problems, but for those of us who can, we should try to give what we can to those who need it most.
How we take this form of writing for granted. We do it without thinking. It is quick, instant and can land near and far in a nano second. It can be swiped, discarded, deleted and forgotten about at the flick of a button. This is text!
Since time began what connects us with each other is communication. Before text, communication came in different forms such as symbols, drawings, paintings, dancing, smoke signals or different sounds.
We have always managed to find a way to communicate and have evolved so that each nation has their own written word and language and communication has become much easier to read and translate.
When mobile phones first appeared and became the most sought after device in almost every house hold, we learned a new way to communicate; TXT. Abbreviated from Text. It was the new order, the fashion, the new next big thing. Words were shortened and abbreviated all the time, so a new form of language evolved, like LOL, BRB, FML, BFF and our fingers and thumbs worked at quick speed to send txt to our fiends and families and everyone else.
Social Media came next and a whole new degree of communication was possible. But, with all this evolving of communication and txt, something went missing and is almost extinct, because we have been so progressive in moving forward. The art of letter writing. The only letters most of us get these days are perhaps hospital appointments, bills, summonses (perish the thought) and maybe a post card when on holiday.
Friends and families send txts to eachother, thousands every day, and it is a great facility. It works at quick speed and is instant and we would be lost without it. But, I do find it sad, that me included, do not send letters, written on note paper, popped into an envelope, stamped and sent to our nearest and dearest. It is sad, because it is a record, a physical record of not only the text contained, but the art of seeing and recognising the senders handwriting, whether good or bad or illegible!
I sent a letter to my daughter who worked during the summer at a camp in Canada. I wrote her a couple of letters, rather than only sending txts and emails, because, I wanted her to have something arrive in the post that she could open and read at the end of the day, and keep it safe somewhere, so that when she is an old woman and I am not here, she can open that letter and be transported back to her summer in Canada.
I have a stack of letters from my youth, from when I moved from the UK to Ireland. My friends and I only had letter writing to stay in touch. I kept my letters, and to this day, they are so precious to me because I can be transported back to my youth, laugh at the tales of woe and glee contained in the letters. I can see the post mark on the envelope denoting the date. Feelings and emotions rise up in me as I hold and read the text and it feels like treasure in my hands and brings warmth to my heart.
I am not saying we should go back to only letter writing, but I am saying, we should reintroduce it, don’t let it become extinct. Send someone you love a letter, the old fashioned way and I bet you will get a surprising txt back saying how wonderful it was to receive it!
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