Vulnerability 17.8.13

During an emotional session with my therapist we talked about the difference between being a victim and being vulnerable.
Fine line.

I am so scared of not being seen as a victim that I cover up my vulnerability.
I was a victim for so many years and to survive I had to become strong.
If I hadn’t I would’ve succumbed to all the mental illnesses and maybe attempted suicides that so many who have walked in my shoes have.
I spent so many years being strong, burying the past, just surviving, wearing a mask, living two lives, that eventually my spirit could not take any more.
I crashed.
I broke.
The victim in me began crying out for help.
In my spirit I was fearfully curled up, hiding in a dark corner sobbing uncontrollably..
In my physical I was hysterical, beside myself with pent up distress, lashing out, desperately needing to be heard.

Because everyone had seen me as strong, it was a shock to my family and those around me to see me like this.
I was in shock to see me like this.

They saw a mess.
They saw a mother they didn’t know.
They saw a sister they weren’t expecting and it blindsided them all.
They didn’t and couldn’t understand.
I was judged harshly.
I was rejected.
I was re-victimised.
They hadn’t walked in my shoes.

Three years on I am growing.
I am developing a new strength.
A strength that can recognise my pain, my trauma, my anxiety.
But I am scared.
I am scared of telling my story.
I am scared of rejection.

I still struggle with so much.

Now I have a new pain.
A new trauma.
A loss so great that sometimes I don’t think I can go on.
I surrender to the grief and it makes me feel vulnerable.
I am scared of being vulnerable.
Scared of being hurt again.

But this time I cannot hide behind my mask of strength.
This time it is a grief that is ok to make public.
It is a trauma that is more easily understand.
But I cannot tell my story half heartedly.
My story has to include the little girl, the victim.

Because that is all me.
“You cannot know true strength until you know vulnerability.”

The Absence of Intimacy Sept 2013

The hardest thing to talk about it with your family and friends is the the topic that most people like to laugh and joke about.
Sex.
I miss making love.
But it isn’t cool to think your parents have sex.

It is not even thinkable that they may even enjoy sex.
So when your heart dies and you are left alone, how do you explain what you are missing when you are not supposed to talk about it.
I miss my heart so much.
The loneliness of not touching.
The not being held in that intimate way that only he could.
The loneliness of our marriage bed.
It’s emptiness.
It’s coldness, despite the electric blanket and new warm down duvets.
The absence of intimacy
Hands exploring places that only he was allowed.
The arousal and pleasure in the midnight hours.
The comfort given in the early mornings.
The kisses and hugs throughout the day.
He loved to ‘shock‘ the kids by showing them how much he loved me with kisses in the kitchen,
We would snuggle in the chair in the study whilst discussing business.
Even the wee pleasures of cutting his hair.
He loved for me to do that because we could enjoy special private moments under the guise of practicalities.
Sex isn’t just the act itself.
It is a 24 hour thing.
The recognition of a love throughout the day.
My heart broke that day and no amount of ducktape will ever put it together again.

The absence of intimacy with him is what breaks my heart more and more each day.

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

My perfectly made bed – August 2013

I make the bed.
My perfectly made bed.
The sheets are all clean, smooth and straight.
The hospital corners folded just right.
The pillows are stacked and the duvet is smoothed.
Just as I like it.
Just perfect.
I get into my perfectly made bed at night but it isn’t perfect anymore.
There are no long limbs with boney knees intruding over onto my side to push away.
There are no warm welcoming arms to hold me.
No lover to warm the evening chill as I drift off to sleep.
I curl up on my side and read my book.
Trying to get warm I flick the electric blanket on, and then off again as I overheat unnaturally.
Waiting for tiredness to overcome me.
Waiting for sleep to envelope my loneliness.
Eventually the book hits the floor and I sleep.
In the darkness of early morning I wake.
My perfectly made bed is still relatively undisturbed.
I toss, I turn, I try unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, just for a few more hours.
But it’s all wrong.
There are no encompassing arms to hold me.

No warm chest to lie my head on.
No early morning loving
No one to talk to.
The thoughts that I would’ve talked to you about are just left to swirl around in my head.
No release for them.
My stomach is tight.
I feel sick and tense.
The unbidden tears fall.
I then hate my perfect bed.
I hate that your long skinny legs haven’t kicked the sheets out from the perfectly tucked in ends.
I hate that you haven’t pulled the blankets in and rolled them around you and left me with not a lot on my side.
I hate that I can’t yank the bedding back off you and then snuggle in against your cosy warm form.
I hate that you are not here to wreck the entire bed with total abandon to make love to me.
I hate that I don’t have to make the bed again in the morning.
I hate that you are not here to tease me about my OCD bed-making skills.
I give up trying to sleep.
The dawn is breaking so I leave my perfectly made bed.
Until tonight when the anguish of sleeping in a perfectly made bed starts all over again.

The Last Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love
To the dark and the endless skies

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
And felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love
That was there at my command

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love
and It would last till the end of time my love

The first time ever I saw your face, your face
Your face, your face

These lyrics are hauntingly entertaining me this morning. But in my mind I am changing them to ‘The last time ever I saw your face’.

And then my mind flits back to the first time. The first time I ever saw my Timmy’s face. I remember so vividly when he walked into my life. I was only 14. He was nearly 8 years older than me and I was smitten from that very first sighting. He was this tall Adonis – such a good looking, rugged country guy, with no pretensions. He was just Tim. What you saw was what you got.
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We were on a family holiday and there had been a horrendous storm. The next day Tim and his brother arrived over by boat, just checking up on the locals, as you do in times of trouble. I fell head over heels right then and there. For the next couple of years Tim would come by our house and hang out. I so loved those visits. He was so randomly casual and would turn up at all hours and make himself completely at home. It did make it easier that my parents liked him.
We would go down to Port Ligar for holidays, my poor mother must’ve been worried out of her brain when Tim would sit me on the back of his trusty old Norton bike and head up and over the hills. We courted on those hills, out of sight, but no doubt not out of my mother’s mind!
Then the my final year at high school we were an item. But then life got in the way and I left him behind and headed to the big smoke. I spent three years there trying to forget him. But I never did, and thankfully we had someone playing cupid so I returned to Port Ligar at the just after my 21st birthday and I never left.
At the end of that year I married my man, the man who for the next 34 years was the mainstay of my life. He cherished me, treasured me. Literally by the sweat of his brow, cared and provided for me.
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That beautiful lopsided grin of his just got bigger and better over the years. Along the way his hair became greyer, his face developed deeper and more interesting lines. They were not all worry lines, most were lines of laughter and joy as we shared good and hard times together, more formed as each of our children were born. I watched him weep with joy at the birth of each one. He wanted no more from life than to love & care for his family. He was content with his lot in life.
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And then I come back to the words twisting a knife in my heart this morning. ‘The last time ever I saw your face’.

The last day I remember so clearly. We were preparing to go to town. He had decided to head off a day earlier so he could help Graham gather food for his family. Before he left though he had work to do. While he waited for Sebastian to come he went down to the wharf with Azzan and they worked together conditioning ropes. My last photos of him were taken then. Then Seb arrived and they took off on the boat to do some mussel work. He arrived back, quickly showered and changed, gathered up all his things, his briefcase. All the while I was hovering nearby making sure he had what he needed for his journey and confirming our meeting times etc. He loaded crates in the back of the Safari, along with some bins of mussels. He hugged and kissed me goodbye and that is the last time I ever saw his precious face until I identified him the next day at the morgue.

Letting go

When Tim was killed writing was my catharsis.
A lot of it was buried for no ones eyes bar mine.
Most of the  posts were written during 2013 when my grief was in its raw numbest state.
I shared some, but others were just too hard and too personal.
I had forgotten them, on rediscovery they are showing me how far I have journeyed.
I think that I am now strong enough to share.
Strong enough to let go
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Sparkling living

This journey of mine has taken me on many detours.
Some have been incredibly hard.
Others frustrating.
And more, emotionally disabling.
Through it all though I have found a new me.
A stronger me.
Someone I did not know existed.
Many close to me have recently commented that they are so pleased and glad to see me smiling again.
It was said that I have my spark back.
That stopped me…
To breath…
And think…
I honestly do not ever remember having a spark.
Not like this.
Never.
Maybe as a very small child I probably had that childish spark of mischief and wonderment.
Like this gorgeous poppet I captured at the beach last week.
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But that spark was cruelly extinguished at a very early age.
Yes, I was happy – to an extent.
But there was always that underlying ‘thing’
The part of my life I wasn’t able to talk about…
The secret…
The burden I carried…
that killed my spark.

I had no idea until recent years just how much those 10 years of stolen childhood had affected my entire life.
But now I am walking my healing journey
Running towards an expectancy of wonderment
Reclaiming ‘me’
I am not going to compromise myself anymore with the pain and the abuse and the heartache.
Because I Am all I have got and I Am going to live sparkling.
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You just gotta watch your back!!!

This is probably one of the most difficult posts I think I have ever had to write.
Formulating my thoughts, unraveling, trying to make sense.
Recent happenings, blending with historic.
Processing how someone someone who is articulate, intelligent, adult, very aware of dangers, who has been working through the healing process for the nearly 6 years, could get caught by a predator – again?
I am feeling incredibly sick as I type.
Triggers seem to be punching me from every side this morning.
Seems that even after so much healing, there will always be triggers that sideswipe when I least expect them.
Especially when I go back and open doors, taking lids off of boxes that I thought were sealed.
But due to some recent events I have had to reach out for help and in so doing I have agreed to join my voice to the fight.

As a child I had absolutely no understanding of the predatory process.
I just knew that the one person who was supposed to love me the most and should have been my most ardent protector was the one person…..
Who failed me.
Who took advantage of me.
Who took the most precious thing he could from me.
Who changed my life forever.
Those ten years stolen from my childhood have marked me, damaged me, changed me from who I could’ve been to who I became.
Only now as a healing adult can I look back see the damage wrought.
Not just to me but to my family because of the destructive behaviours it bred, the negative self esteem issues, the underlying anger, relationship difficulties, and many more wrapped up in this ensuing ball of ptsd ….
It has been a long battle these past 6 years, fighting my way back up from my breaking point, when my body, my brain, my emotions, my whole being just could not fight anymore.

It has been a hard battle.
I have fought, retreated, picked myself up, punched back harder, been battered and bruised almost beyond recognition.
The fight almost killed me.
But I have survived.
Actually I have more than survived – I became a Warrior.
In the past months I have really come into my own.
Finally found my Self.
Standing strong.
Facing the world head on.
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So it was incredibly shocking to me to discover that I had been scammed recently.
Scammed by a predator.
And I never saw the warning signs.
I, who should have known, should have seen.
Been there so many times in the past I have worn out all my tee-shirts!!
I never saw it coming.
Got sucked in big time.
But thankfully, I am not entirely stupid and when he asked me for money the brakes went on fast.
I made contact with John whom I know professionally as a cyber safety educator.
He talked me through the process of what to do and then asked if I could write about my experience to help educate others.

I found these Five Stages of Grooming by a Pedophile on Dr Phil’s site.
They are concise and accurate.
I have adjusted them slightly as they to apply to any predator, not just the pedophile.

Stage 1: Identifying a Possible Victim
Although predators differ in their “type” regarding age, appearance and gender, all predators will look for a victim who seems in some way vulnerable.

Stage 2: Collecting Information
The next step is for the predator to collect as much information on the targeted victim as possible. This is most commonly done through casual conversations with the prey. They ask for your birthday. About your family. Where you work.

Stage 3: Filling a Need
Once the predator has the information he needs, he then becomes part of his/her prey’s life by filling a need. If the victim is lonely, the predator will act as a friend. They appear caring and concerned about you and your life.

Stage 4: Lowering Inhibitions
The predator will then start to lower the victim’s inhibitions. This is so subtle. They might give you proof of their identity to establish that they are real.

Stage 5: Initiating the Abuse
At this final stage, the predator begins to financially extort the victim.

This is what happened to me.
On the 9th November a man connected with me via an internet site.
He was handsome, charming, and was apparently working on a contract in the North Island for a large well known international company.
We chatted and I unwittingly fell into Stages 1, 2 3 & 4 without too much effort from his part.
This is where I could start berating myself and blaming myself.
But I am stronger now.
I will not accept his behaviour as my shame.
He was on the hunt.
A predator looking for prey.

In this situation the story went like this – He was a Swiss American chemical engineer, wife killed in car crash 7 years ago. Two kids 14 & 16 in boarding school in UK. Over a period of several weeks I was sent work ID photos, photos of ‘his kids’ etc. Had to fly directly from NZ to Russia to fulfil a contract – which of course he sent me proof of, then once he got there – oh dear my kids need to go on a school trip from their boarding school in UK but he didn’t get the notice in time and he can’t get the money out of Russia as the relationship between USA & Russia is so bad so his poor disabled from the car crash kids are going to miss out on the trip and fail their grades. I was sent copies of bank account pages showing hundreds of thousands of dollars to make me feel like he was just asking for a loan. It was a shame that he had already sent me photos of strong healthy undamaged kids, plus he was tangling with a researcher and I was on Google faster than you could blink, checking out all the details he was giving me. He sorta shot himself in the foot somewhat and I wasn’t going to let him go down or disappear without a fight!

Despite having fallen into Stages 1-4,  I very quickly retreated and checked for personal collateral damage. Made contact with John, who talked me through what to do to safeguard myself and the family.
Reported the scammer on all the sites he was on, triple checked all my internet sites, and my children’s.
Funnily enough he has disappeared.
Undoubtedly into some other persona with a new story out to scam a new victim.

Facebook is another site being used by scammers.
A friend of mine recently had his account hacked and duplicated.
I accepted the friend request and unwittingly entered a private conversation with ‘him’.
Within minutes though I noticed something on my friend’s real wall and realised something was amiss.
Spoke with him and established that I was not in fact speaking with him in this private chat.
Quickly deleted the bogus account.
However, he had another friend who was not so fortunate and was parted with a considerable amount of money.
I must stress, I honestly thought I was talking to my friend.
So did this unfortunate victim.
The conversation was too accurate, too similar.
These scammers are ruthless and relentless./

These types of people are all around us.
Predators – animals who ruthlessly exploit others.
With no concern for anyone but themselves.
They will find you when you are at your most vulnerable, they can be people you know, people you don’t.
You have to be circumspect, on guard, alert, aware.
You need to be educated.
The internet is making this type of behaviour far too easy.
But predators can also be physically in your lives.
They are not always strangers.
I know of too many stories concerning family and friends, whose stories are not mine to tell, who have been caught by predators – wolves in sweeps clothing.
Preying on the vulnerable.
Despicable.

If you have any doubts whatsoever then back off, be wary, contact John or someone of equal ability, or go to the police.
But Never, Ever, Not Ever, give or send any money in any shape or form.
Sadly there are too many vulnerable people who have been stripped of many dollars and life savings.

Part of becoming a warrior survivor is learning to not hide behind shame and secrets.
Keeping secrets helps perpetrators to continue their dirty work.
As Brené Brown says, our wholeness depends on integration of ALL experiences.
So own your stories.
No matter how difficult they are – own them and use them.
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