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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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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Strength in the night….

This past week…
Wow!
What a week.
Trying to process it all has been huge.
The demise of the master.
Then the destruction of a masterpiece.
There were not too many Kiwis who will forget the time 00:02 and the date 14 November 2016.
The terror of being awoken by the ominous rumbling and the violent shaking and the darkness and the unknown damage being wrought around each of us.
For those of us fortunate enough to not lose power there was immediate and frantic checking in on Facebook and Geonet to see what was going on and ensuring loved ones were safe.
I was so grateful to have Eilidh here with me.
She and I kept each other company as unbelievably my children and pups slept through the whole night!
Texts, messages & phone calls flew between family and friends.
These vital connections helped maintain a certain calm amidst the chaos.

A sleepless night ahead as the aftershocks hit, the anxiety that any of these might be a bigger one.
In the few hours following we experienced 6 quakes larger than magnitude 5, and over the week since, 357 aftershocks over magnitude 4.
Reports unfolded as the morning developed.
And the reports have gotten worse with each daylight hour.
The enormity of the power released is unfathomable.
The east coast sea bed thrust up 2 metres with such force and speed that sea life had no chance to escape.
The GPS station at Cape Campbell was moved 2 meters north.
Towns completely cut off, isolated by huge landslides and destroyed roads, rail lines twisted and moved like cotton candy.
Two people died.
A miracle there were no more.
Many others injured and traumatised.

I managed about 2 hours sleep, then Mahalia unknowingly woke me at 6am cuz she knew I was planning to go to the gym.
Ah! The normality of life.
As Monday unfolded, unraveling of the disaster gave clarity to the desperation of the situation for the people on the East Coast.
Especially those in Kaikoura who were totally trapped.
Then Waiau, then we realised that pretty much most of the top of the South Island was not only isolated from the rest of the country but also from each other.
Then came the tsunami alerts.
The King Tides.
And then came the rain.
Flooding in Nelson, Wellington, more damage, more chaos.
I thought we had escaped pretty much unscathed but then the call came from down home.
Seb & Phoebe were evacuating by boat after watching a huge landslide flow down the hill surrounding the house & buildings and covering the road metres deep in wet slurry.
I was just grateful they were safe.
There have been many things to be thankful for in amongst all of this.
Thankful they had a home to come to.
Thankful for friends who provided emergency vehicles and household provisions until we can retrieve their things.
Now to add to the merry-go-round of my life I begin the EQC dance as we begin organising the clean up.

In the scale of the events, ours is but a small portion.
But in our personal lives it is rather devastating to say the least.
I have been standing so strong in the past months.
I have gained my warrior crown.
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I must admit that on this day it slipped.
But I am proud of myself, because I never let it fall to the ground.
I caught it and let it wash in the tears of the moment.
Then I set it straight and stood up and faced the moment head on.
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To sign off in true Kiwi style
Heres some humour for the occasion.
Check out this wonderful rendition by Jason Gunn.
Thanks for keeping us smiling Jason 🙂

Even on good days tears still find their way….

You know when you have one of those days where you are giving all of yourself to a dear friend.
Having fun.
Spending time together.
Sharing and caring.
Deep and meaningful conversations.
Retail therapy.
Cafe crawling.
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Day is going splendidly.

Then out of the blue an accidental phone call from an old nemesis.
The last person I ever thought would call.
It was a really nice conversation.
Barriers finally breaking.
Cautious but not awkward.
Some lovely words spoken.
Complimentary about my man and our marriage.
Grateful, so very grateful.
Afterwards tears fell.

The conversation opened up memories.
Ones that I had secured and tucked away safely, only to be opened at times when I am ready and able.
Today the box was opened without my permission so my guard was down.
Not wrong.
Just tipped me off my axis somewhat.
Opening the box reminded me that our 38th wedding anniversary is only 2 days away.

My goodness we were so young with absolutely no idea of the adventuresome journey ahead.
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But this is more us.
Always my favourite photo.
42 years ago – star struck lovers.
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Our wedding may have been 38 years ago.
But we were one way way before then.
The beautiful comment made in the above conversation was that Tim and I had the most special marriage ever.
We did.
We truly did.
I miss that man with every fibre of my being.
And I know without a doubt he would want me to go on living and living to the full.
He told me once that he would never live without me, that I was strong and I could and would live without him.
For so long I thought he was wrong.
But I know now he was right.
He had the last word – for once 😉

Life’s magical :-)

y’know, I never dreamt life could be this good.
After a very long time of living in Crapsville things took a turn a few months ago.
This year, actually this past winter, was probably during the darkest period of the past few years.
But due to the encouragement of an ultra special person and the support of several close friends I began making changes.
The darkness didn’t disappear immediately.
But I can pretty much pinpoint back to almost the exact time things took that turn.
It was in June.
I’m not going to enlarge on the details right now as they are only important to me.
But lets just say the situation gave me a reason to look outside all the crap that was surrounding me.
It made me begin to smile.
Tentatively I began to reach outside of my darkness and grasp hold of the glimpses of light and as I did that light began growing brighter.
I still had stuff to deal with but I started giving myself permission to delegate the pressures.
To remove the weights I was carrying.
I reached out and gave permission to some trusted few to help me carry the load.
Once I began feeling free of the load I began living again.
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As I gave myself permission to start living and being happy again there has been no stopping me.
It has been the most freeing time of my life – ever!

Personally I had been facing this coming January with dread.
The dread of leaving this decade behind.
The number that was looming in front of me was so depressing.
I had never felt like this at the approach to any other decade before.
I have partied them all in big time.
But facing this one was becoming so incredibly daunting.

June began changing my paradigm.
Once the light went on in my emotional headspace then the physical part of me followed.
As I have made changes my health and wellbeing has increased dramatically.
Now I am embracing me for who I am.
I am excited about life.
Excited for my future.
Who knows where it will take me.
My boat is rocking and I am having a ball.

I am now preparing to rock in this new decade in a few months.
After all, it is only a number.
It ain’t defining me anymore 🙂
I know I sure as hell would not want to go back to any of the previous numbers!!
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So this is the new me – magical, quirky, and just a little crazy.
No apologies 🙂

 

Crossroads

Two RoadsDuring our life journey we come to many cross roads.
Sometimes it is easy to make the decision as to which one to take.
Other times the selection can be rather confusing.
Clarity is often not as great as we would like and we have to take risks.
Jump into the unknown.
Scary stuff!
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It’s very scary at times not to be able to see the end of the path we are on.
In fact if we could I am sure we would retreat fast!!
My journey came to an abrupt crossroad on February 18th 2013.
It was like I’d hit ahandheld-stop-signsign – smack in front of me.

I crashed straight into it.
I lay in the middle of the road reeling from the shock.
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With my classic PTSD responses I did several things.
I fled, hid, retreated to my sanctuary – my bed.
I froze, time stood still and the world carried on in a whirl around me.
and
I fought.
I fought so bloody hard.
I exhausted myself.
I was a ball of confusion as I processed it all.

The journey from then on has been incredibly tenuous.
Lots of ruts and complications along the way.
But as my friend Bob encourages I have been slowly turning my vision toward living.
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I cast my eyes back and see the roads of my journey weaving, looping, converging, but none of them straight.
Along those roads I have experienced more pain than I could’ve ever thought imaginable, I have learned more than I could’ve ever conceived.

A dear friend just sent me this message today, it touched my heart so deeply that I need to share it here.
“For some, suddenly they find themselves on a road that is not of their choosing, a road unknown they must travel alone. They travel naked, no suitcase of preparation to hand, constantly assailed by travelers offering garments that are ill fitting and uncomfortable.  Attending to those who join them then leave, turning back to their “place” Having no “place”. Eyes set on the path with no end in sight, and no sight to see, eyes in the back of their head their only vision, looking back, looking back, looking back, then suddenly traveling, walking on alone. When does this road not of ones choosing open out to something more?  When warriors walk it.  Walk on Raewyn I have utmost love respect and admiration for you. Your Tim would be just so proud of you.”

I am now standing at a new cross roads.
One where I am feeling exhilarated, excited, and energised.
Exciting to venture out into the unknown.
I am standing strong, displaying all my scars with attitude.
Completely unafraid – well almost 😉
I am becoming healthier emotionally and physically and mentally.
Tim was right.
He said I could do it and I am.
Rest easy my love.
I am OK!
I am a warrior!
A warrior princess embarking along a new road – one that I have not traveled before.
And it feels so right 🙂
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Uber exciting stuff!!

My past week has held so much excitement I can barely contain myself.
I have made some wonderful connections.
All have been totally unplanned.
They have all been so empowering, so strengthening, so encouraging.
There is something wonderful about connections between women of kindred spirit.
The gelling is so uber cool.
As most close to me are probably aware, I am passionate about working with sexual assault and abuse victims.
As a survivor of sexual abuse, and a crisis support worker for victims of sexual assault these connections have been incredibly moving and very very inspiring.

My first encounter was when I had the privilege to attend a forum which my daughter and her husband were speaking.
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I slightly selfishly just wanted to go to hear my family speak, but I was blown out of the water completely by the content from all speakers.
It was an absolutely brilliant evening.
The event was to raise funds for Amie Paulet from The Collab Nation  to travel to Bangladesh as part of her/the work that will see them partnering alongside women in the garment industry in Bangladesh.
Amie hosted and prompted responses from the panelists creating raw real conversation around sustainable and ethical business in today’s world.
On its own it was incredibly inspiring.
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But my excitement came from discovering women at the gathering connected to Bridge The Gap Project.
Emily was wearing a stunning very individual jacket which of course my mixed media eye was immediately drawn to.
I was keen to hear more about what was behind these art works and Emily happily filled me in on the work of Amanda Betts.
The work is diverse in nature but ultimately is supporting youth at risk and sexual abuse victims, empowering them in an enriching & creative way.
The back of this jacket rocked my soul – loved it so much 🙂
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You can see two of the jackets being worn in centre of this photo.
Each item of clothing is created by or for the person and tells their story in such a beautiful way.
And they get to wear it.
It empowers them, helps them to grow above their abuse etc, helps them stand tall and strong.
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After the forum was over I discovered the woman behind me was the one who was creating these jackets.
Sera has put her own label Selector Clothing on hold for a wee while to help with this project.
An awesome women, such a privilege to meet her.
We had such a great connection, initiating an ongoing friendship.
The lighting wasn’t great but we got some photos before the night ended.
Amie, Sunniva and two of their tribe
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Sunniva and her proud mother xxxx
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The next day I flew home, landed running.
Straight back into life in the fast lane.
My 10 days holiday was quickly on the other side of the horizon!

I was invited to two events over the next two evenings.
The first was to reveal a friends AC Cobra which he has been building for past 30 years!
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Needless to say it was a wonderful evening.
I even got to sit in the drivers seat!img_1151
Now I know that the car is amazing, but I am not a petrol head so my enjoyment during the evening was connecting with a new friend.
We had such a great time, coffee dates have been planned.

Then the following day I was on the pager for work.
I had a pre-scheduled client to support through her L3 Police interviews.
I was slightly daunted as the little I had been told prior sounded a bit too close to my personal story.
Wasn’t too sure how I would deal with it, if I would trigger in any way.
But I put my professional hat on and fronted up at 8:30 ready to do my job.
I was blown away.
She was an amazing, strong, empowered, woman, and once again we connected on a very meaningful level.
Often in my work the clients are so damaged that it is emotionally draining, but this time it was so positive.
She was working through her healing journey, knew what she had to do and she did it and she did it damned fine!
So proud of her.
Her attitude uplifted me so much.

Then that evening I took two of my team mates and drove out to Motueka to hear Louise Nicholas speak.
Motueka SASH had invited her and there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity.
I told my pager to be very quiet, I didn’t want to miss a thing!!

Louise stood and quietly told her story.
I have read her book. Seen the movie. Watch ‘The Louise Nicholas Story’ here if you haven’t already see it.
I know her story too well.
But to hear Louise tell it in person moved me to tears.
Louise is a beautiful woman.
I really respected the way she relayed her message.
She taught me such a lot.
She has always had my utmost respect.
But after this she has my heart.
This woman has mana.
She is lovely, she is awesome, she is – just Louise.
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I was rapt to talk with her afterwards, looking forward to a coffee date next time we meet.
Cant beat those coffee dates 🙂

And that was the culmination of 48 hours of amazing connections.
Just so buzzy about it all.
The excitement comes from seeing so many positive happenings coming from such crappy stuff.
Looking forward to see where the future takes me in all of this.
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Soul restoring

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Life’s noise is deafening at times.

Overwhelmingly so in fact.

To have an opportunity to remove myself from the noise is rare.

It is also incredibly scarey because I had to leave behind responsibilities.

Many responsibilities.

I had to trust.

Trust that my world would not fall to pieces without me.

Trust that the ones who needed to would step up.

I walked out, stepped out, with not just a little trepidation…..

and trusted.

And they have stepped up.

And the world hasn’t fallen over, or stopped without me.

And I have stopped, and found a small corner of another world that has granted me time – and peace.

Such a quiet, healing place.

A place where I have no history.

A place where I can just be.

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