Scars – we all have them, but what do we do with them?

Scars – we all have them.
Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual….

Some we can live with and others we abhor with intensity.
It is how we embrace them that matters.
1. we can cover them up and be unaccepting of ourselves and our self perceived ugliness.
Or
2. we can be completely unabashed, and unashamedly display them.
The first is our natural instinct
The second takes work, a hell of a lot of work.

When I was quite young I had an altercation with a barbed wire fence.
It left a raised horrid scar on my upper inner thigh.
I hated that scar with a passion
for years
But now I barely ever think of it
It is still there
still the same as it ever was
it is not a concern to me anymore
Time has healed.

I have other scars
hidden soul scars
Too many of them
I chose the first route for years
but there was so many toxins festering beneath them
I finally realised if I didn’t choose the second route I would never ever heal completely.

I have only recently chosen to confront and display my scars
And in so doing am coming to a place of positivity
And a place of content peacefulness.

A year ago I had a most fortuitous encounter with a lovely woman who has since become a friend.

Sera lit up my life ūüôā
That encounter unleashed so many opportunities.

Looking back I love seeing the unfolding of chance encounters.
Is it really chance?
Karma?
Fate?
Coincidence?
We used to say that a ‘coincidence is just a miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous’
Whatever way you look at it
that meeting was the beginning of so many positive things for me.
Sera was wearing the most wonderful jacket.
Being someone who loves mixed media I was immediately drawn to it and to the message it was portraying.
Be Still My Sacred Heart
That resonated so loudly in my damaged and vulnerable soul.

That jacket and it’s branding is the baby of¬†Amanda Betts
She began Bridge the Gap Project to support and empower young victims of abuse.
The Heartspeak Collective allows victims/survivors to tell their stories through art and fashion.
I was so inspired and absolutely delighted to finally meet and spend time in Auckland with the dynamic and enthusiastically energetic Amanda a few months later.

I then began communicating with Sera about creating my own garment with her.
When I began talking with her about Heartspeaking a garment it seemed a natural progression to use my tattoo as part of my creation.
My phoenix is in a fairly private part of my anatomy
Only comes out in summer ūüėČ
My eldest son reminds me often that scars are the tattoos of the brave.
The Phoenix is my Brave rising from the ashes of my abuse and heartbreak.
Perfect!

I also loved Sera’s cocoons so decided to combine those two loves.
We physically connected a few weeks ago and began working.
We spent the day choosing, cutting and piecing fabrics.
It was so much fun working with her on the project
I was so in my element
Back in my happy space that I haven’t been in for so long
It was feeding my creative mojo and incredibly therapeutic

I had to leave Sera to finish it as I needed to return home.
The following week I was transiting through Auckland airport and Sera delivered the finished garment to me.
I was blown away
So rapt
Ecstatically happy with the results.
It is absolutely perfectly Me ūüôā
Thank you Sera
And Thank you Amanda
You have touched my heart and helped towards the healing of my soul
 Each Heartspeak garment has a heart tucked in it somewhere.
Mine is the large orange flower – of course ūüėČ
And the words in the banner – also from my tattoo
illa alis volat propriis 
(She flies with her own wings) I was also delighted to hear Amanda exclaim that the blue/orange flames were cut from one of her old dresses.
So I feel like am carrying a piece of her and Sera with me where I go.

Turning Wounds into Power

This year has been one of immense growth for me.
I have finally found my voice
And now that I have, my wounds have become words that hold so much strength and power.

Since I came completely out of my closet back in May life has really gained momentum
There’s been some really hard times but the positive things are outweighing those.

Early June I was interviewed by the lovely Megan Bowers-Vette 
She was wanting to portray abuse survivors not as victims but as people with renewed strength & life
The US Project was begun with a photography exhibition in Whangarei
Then released in the most amazing heart rending book
I am so proud to have been able to work with Megan in this project
She has done a brilliant job depicting 50 people in NZ & Australia who are daily living with the consequences from the experience of rape, and other forms of sexual abuse.
She has now published The Us. Project Book of Stories
It is a tremendous book portraying so much heartache, and yet so much strength.
Such a powerful communication
I would encourage you to buy this book
Read, pass it on, share it around
Open peoples eyes to truths
Where so many refuse to see and choose to stay blinded.

I was interviewed by UNICEF a couple of months ago.
It was an incredible privilege to work with Shelley on this project.
To be able to speak out on behalf of other children
Children like me who are being silenced
Not by violence
But by emotional headfucking
Which is more silencing
Because of the lack of ability that people have to see and understand what is happening
The support which has come from the video and article has been huge.
My hope is that it reaches and helps many young ones to speak out and find help and to prevent so many more from experiencing what I did.

I know that this is a really tough subject
It is very confronting to so many
Especially those who are connected in a vicarious way to a victim
But what has to be remembered
When dealing with this type of trauma
Is that the victim
Is the victim
and
The victim
should not
is not
to be blamed
or shamed
or accused
or doubted
No matter how difficult it is for you to process

You have to stop
and think
and just listen
and actually
hear
their pain
hear
their truth
because it is their truth
and you cannot dispute their truth

You have to stop
disbelieving
victim blaming
victim shaming

You have to stop
supporting
encouraging
allowing behavioural continuance
to the perpetrators
Just because they appear to be
so good
so important
so squeaky clean
so -‘oh they would never do anything like that’

You have to stop
questioning
why didn’t you disclose earlier
why didn’t you say something at the time
why did you wear that
why did you go there
why did you drink that
and the worst one of all
why didn’t you confront your abuser?????
Seriously???

Unless you have lived the pain
You have absolutely NO IDEA
of the why
to any of these questions
You have absolutely NO IDEA
of the re-traumatising that happens
from your questions
from disclosing
from the doubting
from the demands
You put on us

Please just stop
and love us
hold us
and give us space
and time
to heal
in our own ways
in our own time

We so need you
If you can do this for us
We can heal
We can become strong
We can face the world again
And we will totally kick arse and become even stronger than before!

Therapy

Therapy
-a treatment that helps someone feel better, grow stronger,
-the act of caring for someone

Origin

I used to think therapy was the difficult stuff
the hour long sessions spent with my therapist
But
it’s not

Therapy has
many colours
many forms
many shapes
many times

Therapy
for me
is writing
is meeting a friend for coffee and and one on one time
is time & fun with my children
is taking the dog for a quiet meander along the river walk
is impulsively popping in for a chat with a friend
is sweating up a steep hill track and taking in the spectacular views from the top of my achievement
is impulsively shopping
is leaning into the arms of my closest tribal members and sobbing my heart out
is allowing them to feel my pain
is receiving their love and encouragement
is watching movies that make me cry, and laugh, and think
is sharing my innermost soulful thoughts with my best friend
is spending a day in bed with Netflix just because I can
is messaging my lover in the early hours of the morning
is sharing belly laughing crazy wine drinking sessions with my tribe
is creating art
is accepting the love and understanding of my man
is being held safe in his arms
is sitting at the beach and soaking in the sunshine
is planning my garden
is clambering around slippery river rocks with my children
is walking beside others who have also experienced my journey
is creating something joyous and wonderful and beautiful
is dancing wild and free
is making love
is gloriously wonderful food
is coffee

is orange :-)Therapy is caring for me in a way that restores my soul
But
I find
it tends to come delivered on a roller coaster
I delight in the parts of the ride that are slow
easy
soothing
cruising
but
while I am enjoying them I don’t tend to notice that the car I am riding in is beginning to climb…
Until I am perched at the top
rocking
waiting
then….
horrifyingly
the ride it gets to be screamingly scary
Situations arise
Events happen
my carriage plunges
down
down
down

and the therapy becomes
brutally intense
it makes me writhe in pain
I feel as if I am being torn apart
the anguish of the years
comes pouring out of my eyes
without permission
and when I think
I just cannot bare another moment,
when I am totally emotionally spent
the roller coaster reaches the bottom
and quietly cruises again
I gasp and gulp and reel
from the carnage wrought on my soul
I nurse my bruises
then realise
I made it through
that time
I begin the gentle soul soothing nurturing
knowing that this time
I have been made stronger
so that the next time my carriage reaches its peak
the pain won’t be as raw
the screaming not as loud
the ride down not as intense
nor as long

Nayyirah Waheed expresses it so well

recovering
healing
from abuse
is not an easy journey
it is wrought with hard seasons
but it is not an impossible journey
if you are willing to reach out
and accept the hands
who want to love you
but the hardest thing of all
for us
is

Continuum

For too many years I was frozen into silence by shame
Shame that was not mine to carry
I was also silenced by loyalty
Family loyalty
But I know now that was all bullshit
Because the only one that was being damaged was me
And I was the one
In my child’s mind
Protecting everyone else
Because don’t you know
Family has to stay loyal
Family has to cover up the dirt
Family is more important than the abuse of a child
But now…
I am saying enough!!

I am sick and tired of being the victim
Tired of being victimised
I will not be shamed into silence again

For too long I was under the impression that I was the only one
But as I have broken my silence I am hearing more and more from others who were victimised by my father
It is daunting and horrific
And I am sickened by the extent of his depravity
Yes, I know he is dead and gone
Yes, I know he cannot defend himself
But I know that as an adult I personally challenged him and he never denied a thing
All he said was – as he brushed it under the carpet
‚ÄėIts all in the past‚Äô
All in the fucking past!!
Yeah Nah!
You cannot abuse a child for over 10 years of her childhood and think you have left her unscathed.
It doesn’t work that way.
It will never be in the past
Yes I have worked on my healing
Yes I am still working on my healing
Yes I am on a new journey
And Yes I am in a really really good place now
But the damage he inflicted will never ever be forgotten.
I will not allow myself to be swept under a carpet again.
I know now that I am far too valuable for that.

My childhood memories are not all scarred with depravity.
I am the first one to admit that there were some great times along the way.
My grandmother was a true feminist, way ahead of her times, and I loved her for that
I spent many holidays with her and my ‘not so much older than me‚Äô uncles who I adored¬†like surrogate¬†older brothers
She was a strong influence in my formative years
My mother was educated, a teacher, always a teacher –¬†I understand that because she passed that trait on to me
She provided me with a wonderful understanding and appreciation for music and culture and the arts
I will always be very grateful for that
And for the sacrifices she made to ensure I received those piano lessons, the precious books, the records she could ill afford.
From both these women I inherited the love of words and the ability to express myself passionately in my writing.

Unfortunately my memories of the great times are pretty much all tainted by the undercurrents of what I was experiencing under the covers, behind the doors, when no-one was looking, when no-one was seeing
On the surface everything in the garden was very rosy
It was beneath the surface where the rot was lying.
And when there is rot it eventually weakens the foundation and everything collapses.
It took many years for this rot to work its way to the surface
And now I am burning it out and rebuilding my foundations with new wood.

I do have many happy times that I recall
As a preschooler my mind casts back to a carefree spirited little girl
and I see snapshots of me pre the age of 7 that easily spring to my mind
In those snapshots I see myself, but I also see my carefree little granddaughters reflecting in their similarities to me
I just hope and pray that my little girls will never, ever, ever, have to endure what I did.

By breaking my silence
By bringing the rot to the surface to be dealt with
I am allowing discussion and freedom to talk openly
I have had so many friends and family come to me in the past weeks saying
‘Thank You’
‘Thank you for sharing’
‘Thank you for opening the door to allow us to talk’
‘Thank you for giving us the ability to¬†share our pain’

It has taken every ounce of strength I have to come to this point in my journey
The emotional exhaustion from writing has been immense
I began to spiral down the tunnel again last week
I allowed myself a day of recovery time
I was tended to by empathetic friends
But I knew I couldn’t allow myself to fall too far
I will not let myself go there again
I woke the following day with resolve
I put my armour back on
My warrior self kicked the black dog fair out the door
And I faced the world again
Brave
Courageous
With my smile
I will not allow my smile to be stolen from me again

This is my story
My journey
My truth
and in front of me
is
My future
And I am writing it myself
I will not allow anyone to corrupt my shine ever again

Living with PTSD

Back on the day 6 years ago that I was finally diagnosed with PTSD
It was such a relief
To know I wasn’t crazy
I was just broken
a traumatised soul
But
In the identifying
and the confronting
and the search for answers
I had no idea what lay in front of me.
I knew what was behind me
And I wanted no more of that
So I turned forwards
started the healing
facing the demons
But as I did they would attack with greater ferocity
biting at my heels
attacking with force the closer I got to identifying each one
Sometimes it felt like one step forward and ten back
I would break
and fall apart
thinking what was the point
it is all just way too hard


But finally
I found my courage
I sourced that inner strength
that had maintained me throughout those traumas
I was able to embrace the education of my mind
and was ready to face
and retrace my nightmares as each one surfaced


Being able to identify triggers
is essential
to not just surviving PTSD
but
to actually living with PTSD
In the past
triggers would escalate me out of control
I didn’t understand what was happening
And therefore
was unable to process
My normality which allowed me to cope
was
to be in control
have total structure
OCD to the max
keeping so busy so as not to remember

Today
I understand
I do have PTSD
I will always have PTSD
You cannot endure as much trauma as I have
and escape unscathed
But I am identifying the triggers
much more quickly
and in identifying them
I can deal to them

I haven’t quite got to identifying them
at trigger point
prior to the reaction
But I am processing
so much more quickly
I am also able to verbalise the situation ‚Äėmuch more better’
Which for me
helps the processing
builds my emotional strength
allows me to understand
and share my self more easily
And lessens the feelings
of inadequacy
of hopelessness
of neediness
of¬†‘crazy woman status‚Äô

Over the past months
I have had several ‚Äėmeltdowns‚Äô
which I have been able to confront face on
Each trigger a reaction to different traumatic life experiences
Activating a neurobiological response from my amygdala
I go into instant ‚Äėfright’ or ‚Äėflight’ mode
I become anxious, frightened, out of rational control
But thankfully now
that is only for a short time

The reality of living with PTSD
is the ongoing
underlying
‘just have to live with’
stuff –
the sleeplessness
the inability to focus
the fluctuations
–¬†emotional numbing
–¬†emotional excess
the hypervigilance
the adrenal fatigue

Through my many many sessions with my therapist
(I still cannot believe she has never given up on me!!)
my work with other abused & traumatised women
and researching the ways trauma effects the brain
especially a young developing child’s
learning big words ūüėČ
like
amygdala
hippocampus
ventromedial prefrontal cortex

I have learned to manage, conquer or control many of my symptomatic responses
-the intrusive thoughts of unwanted memories
-the flashbacks
-the mood alterations
-the shame, blame, persistent negativity
-the avoidance
-the depression

When I get gutshot by a PTSD trigger
I can now
identify it
deal to it
let it go – (why does that want to make me burst into song ūüėČ )
and use it to help others

The Becca Lee poem at the top really speaks from and to my heart
She summarises me perfectly
If you have managed to read through to the bottom of this
please go back and read about ‚Äėme’
I’ve written previously about my phoenix rising from the ashes
this rebirth of mine
the growth from the pain
which has made me the woman I am today
I would gladly have traded all that pain whilst enduring it
But now
today
where I am right now
I can honestly say
I am ok

In fact today
I don’t just think
I’m ok
I know
I am doing
Absolutely brilliantly!

But if you are with me on the days when I am not doing quite so brilliantly
Please be a just little forgiving xxx

Farewell to 2016

Well…. 2016 you have gone.
Disappeared into the realms of time along with all the previous years of my decades.
Not too sure if I’m going to miss you much, although there were some good times in there along with the not so great.
I was mulling over the following questions that Sunniva posed prior to New Year but never got to do more than ponder them.
But now I might just take a very quick look back…
…very quick because actually I am too busy looking forward to spend too much time looking back these days.
But¬†like Kermit….

sometimes it is good to stop and have a look back and then you see how far you’ve actually come.

So on to the questions Sunniva posed…

What did you achieve?
I achieved the ability to not sweat the small stuff and to allow those who had my back to help carry the stresses of the big stuff.

What did you love most?
I learned to love myself.
For the first time in my life I found me.
I love the freedom that has brought me

What made you feel successful?
Learning to make decisions without fear
Learning that if something isn’t working it is not a failure.
That changing direction is ok.

What was positive about it?
I made it through the darkest period since Tim’s death, alive & sane
And not only did I make it through, I came bounding out of that dark place and embraced my future with excitement and anticipation

How did you grow?
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
I fought my boundaries
I went to war with my beliefs and traditions
I began forging my own path

How have you changed?
I have become more positive,
stronger within myself,
taken ownership of my future
and am learning to be completely honest about my past

What did you learn?
I learned that friends are vital.
That some are with me just for a season.
And that’s ok.
And that others will remain glued at the hip.
They will always have my back.
I learned who to trust and how to trust
and to use my past because in that sharing comes growth for me and healing for others

Where did you travel?
I traveled to Perth
and Auckland & Waikato
and Christchurch
and Byron Bay & Brisbane
and Wellington
Each journey brought me to a new place in experiences and in personal growth

Who do you appreciate?
I appreciate my friends.
I appreciate my children
And my health
And my home
And my place in this corner of the world
I have finally come home and I am content and appreciative for that.

Who influenced you?
Oh My!
The influences this year have been wonderful.
From the famous to those close to me.
Taryn Brumfitt – you are such an inspiration
Just this one quote alone from you has changed my life
“MY BODY IS NOT AN ORNAMENT, IT IS THE VEHICLE TO MY DREAMS”
Constance Hall Рyou rock our world.
Your raw honesty and humour is so refreshing.
My favourite quote from you would have to be this –
“Your summer body is your winter body with a bigger audience.¬†
Scales define weight. 
Happiness defines beauty
Summer + body = summer body.‚ÄĚ
And there are those close to my inner sanctum who listen and who share and with whom I laugh and cry.
Their influence in my life is immeasurable.
Names are not necessary because you know who you are and I love you dearly for that

What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for my health and wellbeing.
I am incredibly grateful for the years I spent with Tim but am also grateful that he lovingly released me to find myself.
And I am grateful that I know without doubt that he would be incredibly proud of where I am now.
I am also incredibly grateful for my warrior tribe.
My tribe of extremely close friends that have embraced and surrounded me during this year.

And yes I did celebrate New Years Eve.
I walked into the city with my two girls.
We enjoyed the last meal of 2016 together at Bacco WineBar


Mahalia went off with Sophie, and Azzan was off somewhere in the crowds with his friends.

Eilidh and I milled with the crowds at the Cathedral Steps, danced to Tomorrow People’s reggae music, absorbed the atmosphere, drank mochas to keep warm, and just had a wonderful time.
Happy New Year everyone – Welcome 2017 ¬† ūüôā


 

Young woman, Precious girl

Young woman
Precious girl
I see you
I see your trembling lip
The uncertainty in your eyes
The small tear escaping
I see your strength
I see such courage
I see you
And my heart is breaking
My heart breaks every time I encounter you
because I know
I know exactly what you are feeling
What you are thinking
because in you
I see me
I see Young Woman me

Your life has been changed
in a moment
a moment you did not choose
a moment that robbed you of so much
of your innocence
of your trusting
of you

Young woman
Precious girl
I encourage you to stand strong
to speak out
as loudly as you dare
knowing that I stand
I stand beside you
to hold you until you are strong enough to stand
beside the next
Precious girl

Because I know
we know
there will be more
there are so many more
too many more
look around your friends precious one
the statistics tell us
that 1 of every 3 of your friends will be sexually assaulted before they are 17
the statistics tell us that living in New Zealand
the place we call Godzone
is one of the most dangerous places for you to be
Sexual assault in New Zealand is endemic
a far too silent epidemic
the silence is¬†deafening…

Young woman
Precious girl
I understand your need for silence
in your silence you find normalcy
when something so heinous
so evil
so invasively devastating to your inner being
happens to you
you crave in anyway possible for everything to be ‚Äėthe way it was‚Äô before

Precious one
if your silence is for normalcy
then be silent for as long as you need
be silent while you build strength
be silent and know that I am walking with you

But
if your silence is because of shame
then my Precious One
this is so NOT right
This burden
this shame
Is NOT Yours
Do you hear me?
I will shout this from the rooftops if I have to
Do NOT carry the shame of another
It is NOT yours to carry.

Young woman
Precious girl
be brave
take courage
knowing that we are walking beside you
we are breathing fire
as we fight for you
until you can breath your own fire.

Young woman
Precious girl
my heart is breaking
I love you

Becoming Woman – A Wild Warrior Woman

I’ve been exploring my wild self.
Learning about me
My inner innate self
Peeling back layers of societal constraint
Pushing myself out of my comfort zone
Questioning
all my pre-learned norms

Discovering that being a wild woman has nothing to do with
doing wild things
or stomping on male egos

It is about embracing your true natural self.
For one
that may be loud and out there Рwhirling through life in dervish excitement
for another
that is could be silent and contemplative
and everything in between
and maybe even at the same time

It is the woman who wants to break free from all the strings society has placed on her to find herself in the heart of love and compassion

A few days ago I experienced a sudden awakening
I know what happened…
…physically
that I will never ever forget
I have learnt how it has damaged me
…emotionally
…mentally
that I am recovering and healing from

But the light went on with a suddenness that kicked me in the gut
it was like a lightening bolt hit me
I saw with incredible clarity
As a child
I was completely Mind Fucked
My God!
It wasn’t my fault.
I knew it wasn’t my fault
I know it wasn’t my fault
But
Now
I
Know
None
Of
It
Was
My
Fault!
The release of shame
and guilt
and the burden
with that understanding
has been immense

I have been entrenching myself in this song
Soaking in the words
Whirling to the music
Unfucking myself
Claiming my Warrior Woman
And allowing this brave heart of mine to shine

‚ÄúWarrior‚ÄĚ – Aurora
I fall asleep in my own tears
I cry for the the world, for everyone
And I built a boat to float in
I’m floating away

I can’t recall last time I opened my eyes to see the world as beautiful
And I built a cage to hide in
I’m hiding, I’m trying to battle the night…

Let love conquer your mind
Warrior, warrior
Just reach out for the light
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior of love…

I stand behind the wall of people and thoughts, mind controlling
And I hold a sword to guide me
I’m fighting my way…

I can’t recall last time I opened my eyes to see the world as beautiful
And I built a cage to hide in
I’m hiding, I’m trying to battle the night…

Let love conquer your mind
Warrior, warrior
Just reach out for the light
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior of love!

Underneath darkened sky
There’s a light kept alive

Let love conquer your mind
Warrior, warrior
Just reach out for the light
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior of love…
Warrior of love!
Warrior of love!

Watch my rising….


My journey has at times been rather a ponderous hesitant walk.
I’ve staggered under burdens
of expectations
of abuse
of self imposed protective measures
of responsibilities.
Many parts of the road have been incredibly rough going.
Often¬†times I’ve approached¬†corners with hopeful expectancy¬†only to be blind sided once again.
Treacherous valleys, difficult hills, swamps have sucked me in and nearly suffocated me.
My path¬†this year led¬†me over the blackest¬†coldest mountain range…

I fought my way up those high peaks
I collapsed at the top panting with exhaustion
Completely spent
I could go no further
I was finally stopped
I let myself bleed
Let myself feel
I
Let
It
Go

I conquered the pain
I conquered the fears
I conquered the blackness

No longer will I run away from my dragons
I will fear them no more
I am embracing my dragons
They now work for me,
with me,
are part of me,
but no longer control me
The roles are reversed
And it feels
SO
Damn
Good

Pain – April 2013

I turn on the electric blanket to ensure the bed is warm.

I lie on my left side, with my back to the empty half behind me.
I read to fill the silence of the night.
But when my book hits the floor and I cannot keep my eyes open any more I turn off the light and try to go to sleep.

It is dark now.
Safe to turn over.
I can’t see the empty other half of my bed.
But my leg reaches out, searching, looking for what cannot be found.
It only feels cold sheets.
No warm body there to wrap myself around.
I toss and turn.
My stomach aches.
My limbs twitch and stretch, constantly searching.
Looking for arms to hold me.
Hands to caress me, love me.

I want to sleep, to forget.
But the ache is so bad.

The ache in my gut rises.
Up through my chest and into my throat.

Until I can contain the tears no more.
I give in and the sobs rack my whole being.
I cry, uncontrollably into my pillow.
The pain is so bad.
The loneliness is overwhelming.
The knowing that he is gone.
Eventually the tears drown me to sleep