Loneliness

No matter your age or abilities or situation
Loneliness is
it just is

It ebbs and flows
you can be the happiest busiest person
and still be lonely
feel lonesome
feel so alone in the midst of a busy room
be alone in a crowd
feel empty

Loneliness
is an emptiness
it is tears escaping for no apparent reason
it is a void
a blackness
abandonment

Loneliness can begin
through no fault of your own
from grief
loss
estrangement
abuse
physical proximity
social isolation
emotional isolation
feeling different
feeling unacceptable
feeling misunderstood
removing yourself in your head because it hurts
removing yourself before it hurts again
self protection
not allowing anyone in
building barriers
closing people out

Loneliness
can be just there but you don’t know
until you do

Understanding behaviour



Most people who read this know my story
(If not then cruise on back through my posts and you’ll soon figure it out)
And you will know that I have been in therapy for over 10 years now
it was actually quite a cataclysmic event that I am able to pin point my breakdown to – the Christchurch NZ February 2011 earthquake happened exactly one month after I broke.
Not sure if there is any rational transcendent reasonings behind that timeframe but its definitely a hinging point for my memories


I have learnt and am still learning about me
And how the traumas have affected and altered me
I’m sure it has been beneficial
No, I know it has been incredibly beneficial
It hasn’t changed my past
But it has altered how I deal with my future
My trauma based brain that I operate from still sends out triggers on a daily basis
But I have learnt to how to identify them and cope with them more readily

I’ve also learnt a whole heap of new vocabulary
And for someone like me who processes in the written word
Who loves words
Who loves to research
This helps me immeasurably

Recently I was talking with my therapist about how people perceive me and how I see myself
I am usually seen as being strong and outspoken and independent
But inside I am often a quaking mess, unsure, afraid of being hurt and afraid of upsetting proverbial boats

I present this exterior persona of being strong and in control
Which I also am
I’m both
Because the me that is now I
Was shattered into pieces
And I am trying to meld my pieces back together again
Confused much
Yeah me too



This quote pretty much sums it up though

10 years of therapy sounds a such a long time
But so much else has happened within those years that have rabbit pathed my focus so my therapy has been often stretched sideways
I relaxed into it more easily once I was told in the earlier days by one of my case managers that my abuse/trauma would take a very long time to heal from


So anyways, recently my therapist shared these words with me when I was asking her how the hell do I present so together when I’m actually not…

Firstly
Dissociation
(when we numb out or block painful feelings)
I’m already very familiar with this
I do it often
It makes life so much easier to cope with
But it makes others feel like you don’t care

Over identification
(when swamped and overwhelmed)
oh my Lord!
This is way too familiar
I know one of my ptsd cover ups has been, and often still is, to keep very busy
So I do
And then there gets to be too much happening in my brain
And I start spinning
And one small trigger tips me over
And my brain crashes
Like the wheel spinning on the computer screen
And I blank out drowning in an absolute lost mess



But the third one is the word I needed to understand to answer my question

Disidentification
(when keeping at arms length and know it’s not about me)
This is the word I had not heard before
But it sure is a good one
And it is most definitely me
A lot of the time
It’s the suck it up and do what is deemed right part of me
It’s the brave face
It’s the masks I wear to protect me
And it’s the masks I wear to actually protect others
Because no matter how much I break my silence there are still those who do not know, who can not know, who I still protect

This was the me that was able to stand up the front of the church and speak at my own father’s funeral
I never understood how I did that
But it was expected of me
I was the eldest of the siblings
Eloquant
Strong
Someone who gets shit done
So I did what was expected
And I spoke
I remember absolutely nothing
My mother of course kept all the words and on her death I probably inherited them along with all the other words she passed on to me
I choose not to go searching for them
I choose to stay in a state of insulation to protect my very vulnerable self.

Did I speak at my mother’s funeral
I absolutely cannot remember
I know I organised her funeral
I know so many intimate details of the day, the weeks prior and the weeks & months following
But I have completely buried that part of the day
My mother was an important part of my development but her ultimate betrayal is still too painful and deeply embedded so dissociation wins


But I do know
I stood and spoke at my husband’s funeral
This was the me that was so broken, so lost, so overwhelmed with pain
But I did it
Cuz I had to
For me
For him
For the kids
I disidentified and dissociated

I am so good at it

Clarity of your own narrative never fades

Each of us has our own narrative
We can be part of the same story
But we see with clarity only our part of it

I remember my part of the story that broke us all
I remember
A day of normalcy
A day of planning ahead
We were all going to town the following morning
But Tim decided to go alone on Monday
He wanted to go help Graham pick vegetables because Graham always brought us bins & bins of seconds which he gathered up on his own and brought down for us to process to help feed our large extended family
He wanted to do his bit towards this incredibly generosity
So
He did some mussel ropes with Azzan, some boat work with Seb
I remember he raced through the shower and I helped him pack an overnight bag
He packed up the Safari
I remember we were alone at the back of the 4WD as he loaded in bins of mussels to give away
It was to be my last moments with him
But neither of us knew
I kissed him goodbye and arranged to meet him in town on Tuesday afternoon.
He took Seb & Phoebe home and left around 2pm on Monday afternoon
I was to drive out with the 3 youngest the next morning to meet him in town.

I remember relaxing with Anson & Marah before they went home
Having dinner with the kids and putting them to bed
I remember enjoying a peaceful evening

Then with incredible clarity
I remember receiving a text from Anson just before 9pm saying he’d heard there had been an accident on our road
In my mind ‘our road’ meant anywhere from Port Ligar to Rai Valley
I remember making phone calls
I called David where Tim was supposed to be staying
‘No we haven’t seen him’
I called Graham
‘No I haven’t seen him, call the police’
I phoned Ian at Okiwi Bay who was our local ambulance responder
‘No, we had a call out but were turned back because the choppers were flown in. Call the police’
So I called the police thinking I would get our local station
I remember talking to a lady who had no idea where I was
She was in Wellington
I remember her telling me she would ask and call me back
I remember the heightened fear, adamantly refusing to let her hang up
I remember the lightbulb moment whilst waiting for her return – ‘Anson heard it was on the news’!
I remember racing to my computer and typing in Stuff.co.nz
I remember seeing the news bulletin
A lone male was killed on the Port Ligar-Te Towaka Road

I knew instantly
I absolutely knew
I was hyperventilating
I was holding my breath
I remember her returning saying she would transfer me to Blenheim Police
I remember the voice of the police sergeant…
I remember his name
I will never forget his name
…confirming without compassion or hesitation that yes Tim was dead & had been taken to Nelson
I remember frantically asking him where he was and what do I do??
I remember him saying
“I don’t know. I’m going off duty now and have handed over to Picton police.”

I remember texting Anson saying Please Come Now!
I remember screaming
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO


I remember the 3 little ones coming out thinking I was laughing at a movie and their confused faces in total disbelief at what I was sobbing
I remember Marah holding me
I remember Anson bravely making the worst phone calls he would ever ever have to make
Telling his siblings the worst news
I remember Seb & Phoebe coming by boat
Still numb from losing their wee one only 2 weeks earlier
I remember them sitting outside in stunned silent pain
I remember having to call Australia
I remember Jesika answering, she was so happy at her dance class
I remember the anguish of having to tell her
I remember her screams as she collapsed
I remember the pain of not being able to hold her

I remember receiving a message from a Blenheim cousin at 9:30pm saying how sorry she was and discovering she had heard it from a local person
I remember the disbelief that obviously so many others knew long before I did
I remember our neighbours Liz, Harry & Jude arriving an hour later
I remember them telling me their story
Their story confirmed how badly the sergeant had handled the whole situation
That Tim had died over 6 hours before only 20mins from home

I remember my pain was so intense that even though I was trying to be everything for everyone that night I completely failed

I have carried all my children’s pain along with my own
It has been an incredibly heavy burden
I have felt torn in so many directions
Grief is a tortuous creature
It attacks us all at different times and in different ways

I have watched each of them walk their own journeys, process their own trauma, and know they hold their own narratives of that night
Some have vocalised
Others have kept theirs hidden deep
I cannot tell their stories
Just as they can’t tell mine
But we can hold each other and listen

Lockdown = trauma brain triggers

My brain has been all over the place during this tumultuous period of our lives
There have been so so many triggers
I have really been struggling to process them all
My emotional state has been highly disturbed and at a very low ebb


Modern technology has been both a curse and a blessing
The curse of information overload
what to believe
what to not
who to believe
who to not

I have learnt to use Zoom which has been such a blessing as the one certainty each week has been my hour with my therapist
It is the 9am appointment that I have to get out of bed and show up for
She has helped me unravel my trauma brain amongst all of this confusion
The first week was so bad
I was drowning in isolation
I did not cope
with being locked in
with being controlled
with being silenced
with living in fear

Unraveling…
Taking it back…
Processing…

As a child
I was mind controlled
I was silenced by fear
I was isolated by fear
and I was locked in by the knowledge that if I spoke up I would destroy so much
By keeping silent I was protecting everyone else
but also protecting myself
I found strength enough to hold the abuse
But I wasn’t strong enough to endure the consequences of breaking silence

My brain was fighting, struggling with being taken back down that dark trauma rabbit hole
I was drowning

Once I was able to process and identify
I spoke up
Voiced my fears
And I was heard
My friends and family heard my cry for help
And through video coffee dates and phone calls
And walks in the sunshine & lots of supportive cuddles from my love
I have made it through thus far

“My life is so blessed with some of the most amazing people. Thank you for being part of my journey.” – Unknown

Touching the grief

On this day 39 years ago I married the love of my life.
Tim was the love of my youth.
He was part of my life from the time I was 14 years old.
He was 21
He gave me the best years of his life.
He truly gave me his all.
I loved him and the journey after his death has been turbulent and tumultuous.

As I approach the 5th anniversary of his accident I am in a much more peaceful place.
It has been a long, long walk through some pretty dark valleys
I am finding myself standing higher on the hillsides now and spending less time in the valleys.

This journey through grief is indeed such a personal one.
I have made discovery after discovery during my walk.
Deeply personal discoveries which I have grown through.
And continue to do so.
They have been incredibly hard and at times I have wondered if I would ever make it through.
But with perseverance and resilience
And the support of precious family and friends
I have.

This morning as I was quietly remembering our wedding anniversary two posts popped up in my newsfeed
Such movingly appropriate posts
The first was a moving video by Kate Braestrup
Grief, to a 5 year old
She told such a tender story of how a 5 year old so naturally grieved her little friend.
It made me think back to when I had to say goodbye to my Timmy.
I am so grateful I was able to spend time with him during that week.
I do have regrets that some weren’t done differently,
but at the time you don’t know
you have no idea what to ask for
or how to ‘do it’
You are in so much pain
you sorta just go blurringly along with the flow of things
But to have been able to spend time with him
To hold his hands
To touch him
To talk to him
To just be with him
both alone and with the loved ones who wanted to see him
was incredibly special

Then an article by Katherine Schafler
‘The one thing no one ever says about grieving’
contains some simple but very pertanent truths.
The one that resonates strongly within my spirit is this
“Move towards the epicenter of your grief, as it’s the only path to other side of your pain.”
From my experience the only way to deal with pain is to face it square on and confront it.
By side stepping you only have it come back to bite you at a later time.
By suppressing the pain it only makes you sick with anger and guilt and more pain.

As time has progressed the triggers and pain from Tim’s accident have lessened
Time does heal
But scars still remain
And sometimes tears well up from deep within
They take me by surprise
But I know they need to flow

Last week I was enjoying dinner out in Sacramento with my special friend Brielle
It was a place and time so far removed from that time back in February 2013
As we talked all of a sudden tears started flowing
They took me completely by surprise
But I needed to go back to that place
Just for a moment
And allow them to bathe my soul

Today the tears are back again
They are tears of gratefulness
of memories
good memories
happy memories
tears of times gone
special times
I can’t go back
I don’t want to go back
But they are flowing
Because I am remembering a good man

Back on this day
the 4th November 1978
I gave him my hand

and on the 18th February 2013
I held his hand
for the last time
and let him go.

 

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 🙂
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 😉
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 🙂
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 😉
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.

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

Aggrandizing of self

When the Japanese mend broken objects,
they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with GOLD.
They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.

I absolutely fell in love with this concept when I discovered it.
As someone who has been broken
not just once
but many, many times
I know what it is like to be shattered into so many pieces
that it feels like I will never ever be whole again

Aggrandize
such a marvellous word
I love how it rolls off my tongue
it has such
a beautiful tone
a wonderful feel
an importance even

It derives from the Latin grandis – meaning large
It is an enlargement or increase
in power, status, wealth
In this case
it is enlarging the worth of a broken object
by making it
even more beautiful
than before

Over recent months I have been picking up my broken pieces
I have been spending time
working out how to fit all of those shattered fragments back together
It has taken me years to understand
that no matter how hard I try
I will never be the whole that I was
way back before
I was broken

But I can be whole again
even more than I am now
By piecing together the best parts of me
the healed and healing parts of me
and aggrandizing them
with the gold that I am discovering along the way

Gold that comes in so many forms
true ‘stay with me forever no matter what shit I put them through’ friends
new members of my tribe
new experiences
deep emotional discoveries
and
new love 💖

I can be whole
I can be a new me
Aggrandized into a far far more beautiful self
than I ever believed possible

And that
to me
is
Pure Gold

Grief for the fallen Rimu

When Tim was killed a friend commented that ‘the mighty Rimu has fallen’

I remembered this recently when I was processing some headstuff and ’saw’ an incredibly clear picture of the journey our family has taken since he fell.

The picture was of a dense forest and a tall majestic tree was standing at the edge.
When it fell the noise resounded for miles and miles
Its branches smashed paths in many directions through the forest.
I could ‘see’ that each path was the journey that each of us within the family has made and are still making through this forest.
The paths are all going in different directions.
Like branches of the tree some paths are straight for a while and then they hit a bend.
Some bends are small and others are large knotty ones.
There are twigs jutting out along the way which take you on small detours but ultimately you have to return to the main branch.
Then you carry on until you hit the next knot or branch fork.
It’s a different journey for each ‘branch’.
And each ‘branch’ is reaching the clearing at a different time from the others due to their differences in size or length.
These differences equate to our processing abilities and other outside influences which divert us along the way.
My own journey was incredibly intense for the first 3.5 years.
I struggled through some pretty dense undergrowth.
At times the battle almost broke my branches, but ultimately the struggle made me fight and find strength I never knew I had.
I reached the edge of my clearing and the sunshine almost blinded me.
It was overwhelming to see light again.
I revelled in it.
Danced to the light of the sun and the moon.
It was truly the most wonderful feeling.
It took me nearly 4 years for my ‘branch’ to break free of the forest.

I look around to find the other branches and I see some have emerged before me and others are still finding their way.
Some have found their clearings but have times when they venture back into the forest for a short period.
And others are still lost in the undergrowth.
And that is totally ok.
I sometimes take a few steps back into the shade.
But I’ve learnt not to venture too far because I do not want to get lost in the undergrowth again.
It is a very dark and scary place.

When we do reach our clearing we have to remember to be patient with the others who are still untangling themselves from the forest undergrowth.
It is a journey that each ‘branch’ must make alone.
No one can walk it for them.
That is the essence of grief.

Discovering my Phoenix

Wow!
Just realised it has been a month since I last wrote a post.
I really have claimed my freedom!
For over 10 years I updated on a daily basis
And to have now given myself the freedom to write when I want and not feel any pressure is amazing.

One thing that people closest to me know is that I am inclined to be rather spontaneous.
Some may call it impulsiveness 😉
So I do have to curb myself at times.
I have learned over the years to take a big breath before responding to things, to hesitate long before pushing the Send button – often leaving a response until I have calmed enough to Bin it!
But I have also learned that spontaneity is a marvellous thing.
It can take you places you never dreamed of and would never go if you thought twice.

Over the past months I have had a desire building within to do something
Just for me
It is something that I have never before ever wanted, and was also quite opposed to for years.
It did seem somewhat impulsive at first
But I held myself in check, addressed it cautiously over a period of months

The desire came from a place deep within.
From the depths of my survivors soul.
Something to mark my rite of passage in a way.
I have spent months and months thinking it through
Discussed it only recently and very tentatively with one or two closest to me.
I decided that it would be my birthday present to myself.
It was going to be a one time forever thing so I had to think long and hard.
Ensure that what I did was absolutely right
And the person who did it had to be empathetic to this tattoo virgin.
After several enquiries I finally found Pete upon recommendations of several friends.
I met with him and we talked it all through.
He was so lovely, sensitive to my needs and wants.
After some discussion he set about to draw my design for me and sent me home to sort out the script & font.

The appointed day arrived and on the 26th January I rocked up at 9am with a excitement & anticipation, and a just a wee tad of trepidation.
2 hours later I left
Absolutely delighted with the results

I am ever so grateful for the hand above that held mine throughout the process
Yes, it did hurt – at times
And that hand was squeezed incredibly hard – at times
But it wasn’t unbearable because I really wanted it.

I chose the phoenix because it is representative of transformation
My personal transformation from victim to warrior

It is a symbol of my renewal, strength & power.

The words I thought long and hard over
Finally deciding on this Latin line
Illa alis volat propriis 
which translates as
She flies with her own wings

I have spent years on this journey
I have learnt and in fact am still learning to fly with my own wings
It is a daily process to brush off my feathers
Spread my wings
Project myself into new unknowns
Rising up with renewed strength each day

It is so joyful to be able to be happy
To be completely unconcerned as to what people think
To finally be so in tune with myself and my body
That at this age
My age
The number I was so freaked out about attaining
I can be myself at the beach with my young beach babes
Be unafraid of the camera lens
In fact I can be proud of me
Cuz actually
I have decided that I am pretty damned awesome 🙂