On My Way To Burnout

beautiful lonely girl sitting on the roofHave you ever faced REJECTION from those you looked up to and admired? How did you overcome the feelings that stirred in you?

Beckie, the creator of Beckie’s Mental Mess, hosts a series entitled “WORKING ON US”. The theme for this week’s “WORKING ON US” is “REJECTION AND OVERCOMING REJECTION”.

November 6, 2019 “Working on Us” Week #22 Mental Health Blogging Community-Mental Health Series, Topic: Rejection and Overcoming Rejection

Yesterday I published my introduction to a multiple part response that I am submitting to Beckie. This post is going to examine in more detail the challenges I faced which developed into my one and only taste of despair. They all center around that word: REJECTION.

MY CAREER

construction clothesWhen I was sixteen, I stepped onto a construction site as a volunteer for the first time. That day changed my life. I REJECTED the opportunities my teachers were waving in front of me. I rejected the goals that the academic side of my family kept pushing. I rejected the world’s idea of success. From that moment on, my chosen career was working as an unpaid volunteer for charities.

In addition to working as a volunteer (for between 20-40 hours each week), I would work in a paid job (between 10-20 hours a week) to cover my living costs. People have often asked me how I managed to live on so little? I managed. I could share hundreds of great tips on that theme…but that is an altogether different subject. There are many hundreds of thousands who do exactly the same as I have – limiting their income so they can give their time and skills as volunteers.

While I was volunteering I met hundreds of other amazing volunteers, including those who were full-time international volunteers. They travelled the world, being sent to areas of need. Some of them had been in that role for decades. They had not been paid any wages for all those years. All they had was basic accommodation. Meals were provided for them and their travel was paid for. They had the biggest smiles I had ever seen. They radiated joy.

I was in awe. I applied every single year to become an international volunteer myself. I knew the criteria was tough. The living conditions are tough in many assignments. The physical, emotional and mental demands are intense. Year after year my applications were REJECTED.

Then after over ten years of REJECTED applications from me…suddenly I was invited to serve as a full-time international volunteer. For a time, I was assigned to help train a large team of part-time volunteers and to work in an infirmary for patients who had terminal illness. The assignment was special to me. But we experienced a very intense period in the infirmary. To give you an idea of how tough our assignment could be at times, I wrote about one very demanding day that stands out in my memory:

A Day That Demanded All I Had

assistant1Our manager left during the most intense period we faced. We had a new manager. One who had never worked in healthcare, but he was a good organizer. Our former manager was a people person. He was always supportive and looked after each volunteer making sure there was a warm family like spirit. Our new manager kept away from the wards. He was in an office doing paperwork all of the time. One of our new manager’s first decisions was to get himself an assistant. The assistant was a young man I had trained (yes, one of those who didn’t turn up when we needed him most).

The assistant had ideas. His ideas were to change the way everything ran. One of these was the rota. We had always had to do shift work. Our former manager designed a rota than meant that we had chance to recover from night shifts before going back to days. So we did four ten hour night shifts in a row…and then had three days off before we were back on five week day shifts 8am-5pm the following week. The rota had worked really well for years.

lucia.jpgThis new assistant couldn’t his head round the rota and how to use spreadsheets. I was asked to show him, but eventually he decided to come up with a simpler arrangement. You just did a whole week of your shift and weekends could be covered by part-time volunteers. That meant that if you were on night shifts, you had to do five week day nights, 50 hours and then were back on Monday on early shifts 5:30am – 2.30pm. If you were on night shifts, most of your time you were trying to assist Alzheimer’s patients who were normally most active at night.

burn.jpgWe were all exhausted after the intense few months we had been through. We had just lost one of our teammates to cancer We were all showing signs of burn-out. Understandably some of the girls complained about the new rota. His reaction was to say we had an attitude problem and this was a mutiny. I remember the words, “if you don’t like it you can leave, there are thousands of women who want to be here in your place.” It was the worst behaviour I had ever seen. I was shocked. Later the assistant took a six month sabbatical due to mental illness. But he had already complained about our entire department, labelling us “difficult whingers”, “uncooperative and inflexible” and “disrespectful and unwilling to accept new suggestions”.

flatIncidentally, by this point Jack had moved into the flat I lived in. Sometimes he would catch me crying with our flatmate Ella. He was living with me during the most stressful period of my career. I wish he hadn’t seen me when I was so tired and so stressed. He probably just thought I was over-emotional. I should ask him if he remembers seeing me crying with Ella.

nursesI was working between 40-60 hours a week and had a supervisor who thought our entire team were just out to “get him”. He seemed to want to push and push and push, asking us to do all sorts of strange tasks. He seemed to just want us to say “Yes sir!” I had never known another supervisor amongst all the volunteers I worked in who could make life so miserable. He seemed to REJECT our whole team. After all of our devotion to our patients, our new manager and his assistant seemed to despise us and have no empathy to the challenges we faced. Remember, none of us were being paid any wages!

burn1However…this is not the challenge that broke me. This was just the background to a situation which was initially part of my personal life that became a nightmare to me. Some of my friends later said that all of us girls who had worked overtime for years were showing symptoms of burn-out. Apparently, everyone thought I was the strongest (emotionally) out of the team and seemed carry on working when others said they couldn’t cope anymore. I didn’t complain you see. It’s never been my way. Maybe that caused problems for me.

(This was supposed to be a three-part series, but this post would have been far too long, so I have split it into two parts. I will publish the second part later today.)

Hiding The Bruises

incognitoI am alright now, (I think) but for a long time the situation with my ex-flatmate Jack kept my nerves on a knife-edge. I know there are some people who make a career out of being the subject of idle gossip for others, but that has never been something I wanted for myself.

Even when I was living with Jack, the rumours about the two of us were so upsetting, I tried to leave the flat earlier than anyone else and arrive home in the dark. I was sneaking in and out of my own home, to escape the attention of whoever it was who kept these shocking rumours breeding.

When I returned to London, after almost a year of resting and recovering from the physical injuries I had sustained the night I was assaulted (and then…being left for dead underneath some bushes) I was pretty nervous.

Although my physical injuries were healing up nicely, I was deeply self-conscious in so many ways. I was very nervous around men. I was very aware of my head! I felt secure with a hat on, or a bandana or scarf in the summer. I found London overwhelming. I felt very lost at times. I found bright lights gave me severe headaches. I always wore sunglasses out of doors. The first six months, I was hiding myself with hats, headscarves and sunglasses

But what I found effected me most deeply was gossip. I saw friends and colleagues. They were confused about why I had disappeared for a year. Many of them thought I had left in disgrace. Just before I had been attacked, there were rumours that I was involved with a married man. I don’t really feel like writing about that today, but I will at some point. There are already a couple of posts where I have touched on it already:

embarrassedBut it has taken a long time to be able to battle the anxiety that other people, people I admire and respect, think terrible things of me. That realization has made me pretty dismal at times.

I could have caused trouble for Jack. I did not want to do that. I could have talked about being assaulted (I find it really difficult to use the R word still) and beaten up. But you know, I really did not want to. If I started talking about it, I would have been asked a thousand questions by people that I was not ready to answer. So instead I let them think whatever they wanted to think.

As far as many of them are concerned, I was acting strangely, sneaking in and out of my own home at unusual hours, becoming cagey and defensive and emotional…and then I disappeared for a year. I returned to London wearing hats and sunglasses (with style!) and not answering questions openly.

I am a lot more settled than I was then, more relaxed about everything, and my friends are more relaxed. They all seem genuinely glad to have me around and everyone is very polite about what has happened in the past. Some of my very close friends know a lot more about what happened of course, and when I need someone to talk to they are wonderful. But on the whole, everyone has been so incredibly discreet about what happened to me, which I am extremely grateful for.

But there is a kind of loneliness that comes with having a big secret that you hide. I hide all the details of what went on between Jack and I. I hide all the details about what happened to me in the park. People know not to push me with too many questions because I will leave.

Aaaaah!

Well…I have said enough for today. It takes it out of me thinking about things that I don’t want to think about! So, to end this post I wanted to share a song that I fell in love with, mainly because I have become such a huge fan of the voice of Kristina Train. But I liked the song too…it does touch me in my situation. I have put two versions for you just in case you prefer the acoustic version. I like both actually.

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/daily-writing-challenge-nov-27/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/dismal/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/your-daily-word-prompt-lost-november-27-2018/

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/11/27/fowc-with-fandango-leave/

Memories…Letting The Happy Ones Dominate

Three years ago…I published this post.

Two years ago…I originally published this post, and I posted it last year for a second time.

One year ago…I published this post. I was very pleased with it. So here it is again.

(By the way, I did make it back there at the start of June, I needed to)

happymemories

I am about to go on holiday for two weeks.  I will be visiting various family members and friends.  I hope to take lots of photos and share them in posts.  Two weeks of pleasure seeking and seeing loved ones – cannot wait!

But before I go, I want to get something out of my system.  It has been looming over me…so I am going to tackle it aggressively!  Well…I mean face it head on without shutting it out of my mind.

The park I went to that night.  It is a beautiful place.  One of my favourite locations in London.  I had been there hundreds of times in the five years I had lived in London.  I want that park to be beautiful in my mind…not a place I associate with a traumatic event.  Since that night, I have been back three times.

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This is where it happened.  There is nothing outstanding about this spot.  But I do remember sitting on one of the benches that night.  This is a photograph taken from the bench I sat on that night.

When I first arrived at around 10.30pm, it was still fairly light.  There were people walking their dogs, there were joggers, there were teenagers sitting on the grass listening to music and chatting.  There were people sitting on other benches nearby.

Lackford Lakes June 2010

As I sat there, I became engrossed with my own thoughts.  I remember tears rolling down my face because I did not know what to do about my ex-flatmate who seemed to be sucking all of the life and joy out of me.  I did not notice that all of the sunlight had vanished and I was sitting in the dark.  I did not notice that there were no more dog-walkers, no more joggers and no more teenagers listening to music.

I remember a man sitting next to me.  I remember a lot of other things which I am choosing not to write about because I don’t see why those details would be remotely helpful to anyone else.  What he did does not pain me anymore.  It is the situation with my ex-flatmate that pains me still.

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The first time I visited this location after that night, I remembered something else.  The trees in this part of the park – they are brilliantly easy trees to climb.  I had been at this precise location a few weeks earlier with a friend and her sons.  We had been teaching the boys how to climb trees.  So much fun.

It was ever so helpful to remember that.  Such a beautiful park, I want the happy memories to be the ones that dominate.

20180628_151531

When I first moved to London I bumped into a friend from Wiltshire who just happened to be visiting one of my neighbours.  She wanted to go out for a coffee and a chat.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  I still did not know the area very well.  But my neighbour took us to this park.  There is a house, part of which is now a café.  We sat outside in the sunshine, before having a wander around the park.  I fell in love with the park that afternoon.  I would frequently visit over the next five years.

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It is very helpful to remember that.  This beautiful park, full of happy memories I have shared with friends.  I have taken many friends who were visiting me to the park and we have had long walks followed by coffee and cake in the café.  I want those to be the memories that dominate.

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These are the ponds where people can swim.  I had always wanted to go for a swim in these wild ponds, but I was a bit nervous of going alone.  A few days before I was attacked, a group of us came down to this park to do our keep fit class.  One of the regulars was moving abroad to get married and he wanted to have a special class as it was his last week with us.  Everyone used to call the class “fat-camp”.  I was too vain to call it that, so I called it “boot-camp”.  It was lots of running and exercises designed to train the parts of our body we did not even know were there.  Anyone was made welcome, but if you loved pushing yourself you would exult in the class.  We normally met once a week near to where we worked so we could go straight from work.

However, a few days before I was the victim of a crime, we drove up to this park and started running.  We ran together down to the ponds and then went for a swim. Afterwards we ran back up to a grassy area near to where the cars where and followed the instructions of the guy who took the class – stomach crunches, leap-frogging, press-ups etc.  Then we nipped into the pub for a beer before heading home.

© www.wildswimming.co.uk

I remember loving every moment of that night.  It was perfect.  Perfect in every way.  The delightful summery evening, the friends I was with, the exhilaration of running and swimming at a beautiful location, ending the evening with a laugh and a few tears as we said goodbye to our lovely friend before he moved.

It is very helpful to remember that.  This beautiful park, the location for some of my happiest hours doing what I loved with people that I loved.  I want all of those memories to dominate.

So there it is…this has really helped to get this out of my system.  This is the park where it happened.  A tiny blip in an otherwise wonderful treasure chest of happy memories of one of my favourite places in London.

happy memories

 

I Can Eat My Dinner In A Fancy Restaurant

Are you hungry? You soon will be! Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the appetizing theme: BREAKFAST/BRUNCH/DINNER/LUNCH/SNACK/SUPPER

Food, Dish, Restaurant, Meal, Gourmet

I suppose I picked this song because it is highly emotional and deeply dramatic – and this is exactly the kind of music I want to listen to at the moment – it helps me to diffuse the turbulence within!

There was a time when a song like this would be sheer torture to hear…but now that Jack and I have made peace…this just seems like a beautiful song. Yet…in saying that I acknowledge that some people will hear this song and be in floods of tears. Today…I am going to let myself shed a few tears with you.

Tissues at the ready…this is the incredible “Nothing Compares To You” recorded by Sinéad O’Connor.

It’s been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day
Since you took your love away

Since you’ve been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues

‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

It’s been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me, baby, where did I go wrong

I could put my arms around every boy I see
But they’d only remind me of you
I went to the doctor and guess what he told me?
Guess what he told me?
He said, “Girl, you better try to have fun no matter what you do,”
But he’s a fool

‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

All the flowers that you planted, mama, in the back yard
All died when you went away
I know that living with you, baby, was sometimes hard
But I’m willing to give it another try

Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

Written By: Nelson Prince Rogers

I Suppose I Did For Five Minutes…But That Was Over Three Years Ago

Four years ago, I felt as if I could not go home, because I did not want to see Jack ever again. I was out with friends, and instead of going home, I went to a park, sat on a bench and cried. The next morning I woke up in an ambulance. I don’t think I want to think and write about it…any of it. I just want to enjoy my time with Goldfinch. Think of me…right now…in his arms…please be happy for me. 🙂

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Will you forgive me for not being to keep up with every writing prompt that has caught my attention recently?  I have so many that I have started and are sitting in my drafts folder waiting for me to finish them.  Some I am determined to complete at some stage.

I loved the writing prompts in the August Write Away Challenge hosted by Sarah Elizabeth Moore

This is one of the posts I didn’t want to give up on:

When I lived in our family home, which for most of my childhood was with my parents, my brother and my two younger sisters (my older sisters are so much older, they had left home to go to university by the time I had started school) I never ever wished to run away.  I felt truly at home.  There were occasional challenges, but I was blessed to be reared in a haven of dependable love and trust.  Here is a photo of happy me…with my hair in pretty much the same state as this morning!

However, I left home in order to be able to work as a volunteer in a part of the country where there were a stack of projects and not many volunteers (partly because the cost of living in that area is so high).  Although the first year was hard, because I missed my family and friends up north so much, it did not really take me too long before I started to feel at home down south.  I made many wonderful friends and fell in love with the countryside.  I ended up living on the grounds of a beautiful stately home and being allowed to roam their gorgeous estate, and because they trusted me, I paid peanuts for my accommodation, which was another fortuitous factor in my volunteer career in the south of England.

 

Moving to London to become a full-time international volunteer was like a dream.  I had a rare opportunity as a single women to be chosen from many thousands who submitted applications.  That year there were two single women and sixty single men who met the criteria. Because of the physical demands and difficulties in the various challenging assignments, the number of single men vastly outweighs the number of single women. The physical, emotional, mental tests they put you under are designed to reveal if you really can take on a self-sacrificing role and if you really can be sent anywhere in the world and adapt to any way of living.

It was like coming home…even though I had been happy before.  I was happy on a different level. Everything felt right. The routine, the dignity, the rewarding work, the huge numbers of people I saw and worked with. I found I didn’t miss receiving wages. My main assignment would be in London, but at any point I could be sent elsewhere. I loved the astonishing variety London life offered. I found that I was thriving in this life-style.

celebrity.jpgHowever, as you may be aware if you have read some of the posts that relate to what crushed Caramel, it was here in London, that I faced a challenge the likes of which I had not faced before. It was no joke, though I think a lot of people were laughing.  If I can blame anyone or anything…I would like to blame “celebrity culture” and the puerile use of social media.

Sometimes it all feels like a blur, but it was two and a half years at least and it wore me down. The point at which I reached my limit was when rumours started (I think I know who started them) that I was having an affair with a married man, the husband of one of my close friends and workmates.  I was devastated (because this is not me).

After my friend and workmate, who was as distressed as I was about the rumours involving her husband, screamed at me within a public building in front of crowds of people, I was called into an office with two directors who were concerned about the incident and wanted to understand what was happening. They mentioned Jack. They knew him well and thought that he and I had gone from a romance to estrangement to bitter jealousy. I refused to discredit Jack.  I stood my ground and insisted that he was not to blame (although in my heart, I was certain he was).  They made it clear though that they wanted us to sort this out because they could not have anyone screaming in rage in the middle of a reception area were scores of visitors had been appalled by what they had seen.

More than ever, I wanted to talk with Jack and ask why, why, why was he doing this?  But all I received for months was glares and grimaces.  He made it clear that he was nursing a grudge.  A grudge that I could not comprehend.  Then that summer, I received some very concerning news about a relative who had become involved in a criminal court case and was featured in the news.  That situation deepened my anxiety and stretched me to the limit as I did all I could to help practically.  The last thing I needed was abject hostility from a man who was still sleeping in a bed just metres away from my own bed.

elevatorSo after seeing him frequently and feeling intensely shunned and despised by him…it was that evening when I was going out to meet my friends and I pressed the button for the elevator. The door opened and there he was.  His eyes full of disdain.

There was no way I was going to be able to stand inside the elevator on my own with him. So I took a couple of steps back and let him carry on alone.  That’s the last time I saw him close up. That was the moment I decided I wanted to run away from my beloved home to escape the nightmare.

I enjoyed the evening with my friends, but there was a huge surge of pain and despair that I was hiding from everyone…one of the girls who lived near me wanted to drive me home, but I said I would like to walk as it was still light. And walk I did, but in the opposite direction of home. That was my moment of running away from home. I walked towards the local park. On the opposite side of the park a fairground had popped up that weekend and there was a carnival atmosphere amongst the people I passed on the way to the park.

It was a beautiful summer’s evening.  It had been one of the hottest days of the year. There were joggers and dog-walkers and teenagers sitting in the grass talking and laughing when I arrived and when I sat down on a bench.

I was so consumed with despair, I did not notice that daylight had fled completely and there was no longer anyone else in the park, until a stranger sat down on the bench besides me.

Here is a strange coincidence about that location.  When I went back to that spot some time later (not on my own) I found my front door keys still there. Which was the most strange feeling. I didn’t find my missing shoe…navy with a slight frill detail above the toe, but I found my front door keys. They had been lying there undisturbed all that time. Even the police must have missed them.  I almost felt as if they had been waiting for me. It was a profound encouragement to me!

Over three years later, I still have not made it back home yet.  But I am working towards it!

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/09/22/fowc-with-fandango-number/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/your-daily-word-prompt-fortuitous-september-22nd-2018/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/carnival/

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/three-things-challenge-22-sept-2018/

I Think I Can Safely Say That Today Is Over

Another post from yesteryear…xx I cannot remember being grumpy with Jack for a very long time. Maybe that morning he splattered toothpaste onto the mirrored doors of the bathroom cabinet! But nope…now Jack and I are stuck like barnacles to each other! I love him. This post seems so strange to read back…but it was how I felt…three years ago…before Jack ever picked up the phone to call me.

It’s five years since…you know. I still don’t want to write anything new on the subject. I am just going to crawl into a little ball and hide away today. I was supposed to be in Australia…but the world has gone belly-up. So I am here, on my own, away from my family. I have not had a hug for months. I can’t think about Jack. I have been grumpy with Jack all month, but he knows why.

It is four years since…you know. I was planning on writing a post about this day and how it effects me. But I just could not face it. I will say this though – the past few weeks I have had nightmares and flashbacks. But I have also had so much to look forward to. It’s sent me on a rollercoaster ride emotionally.

How wonderful that four years since…you know…I am with Goldfinch, with a man I love and who makes me feel safe and warm and happy. This is last year’s post, because I could not face writing about it again.

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This is a day I would like to be over before it has started.  Don’t worry, I am fine.  Just finding that my head is full up on memories of this day three years ago.

I had the half-thought that I would be able to breeze through today by doing a twelve-hour shift.  If you are busy and distracted, it sometimes makes it easier to battle any unwanted memory or thought.  However, “the best made plans of mice and men….”  I have ended up at the same hospital as I was admitted to after a security guard found me covered with blood three years ago. I have been through all the first stages of examination and now I am waiting for a CT scan.

royalfreeHow odd to be here today.  Perhaps one of the worst possible places to be on the three-year anniversary of the day I was the victim of a crime.  Of all the gin-joints in all the world…I just happen to end up in this one!  Doesn’t life do funny things to you!!!

I am fine…well, I mean I am fine emotionally.  I guess in a way this is a place I felt safe to an extent three years ago.  I feel very calm at the moment.  My head has been a problem for some time, which is why I have ended up in hospital today.  But I am not even worried about that right now.  My number one aim is to make it through today with a streak of joy rippling through me.  I will not let any memory crush me.

chin-up.pngWe will let the staff here at the hospital worry about my head.  I will look after the emotional stuff.  That’s my responsibility today.  Keeping my chin up.  Believe me – I am on the case!  I am smiling and seeing the silver lining in everything that has happened today!

Today is limited…it is only 24 hours.  It will soon have passed by and I will be fast asleep and ready for a whole new day tomorrow.  The flashbacks will fade into infrequency.  We will smile and laugh and dance and drink champagne and forget this day.  We will be OK.

Since I have been physically placed within a building that floods my mind with memories, I thought I would let myself remember some of the moments that sustained me three years ago.

Just in case you are reading this post and have not seen anything else on my site, I will briefly mention that I endured two years of intense taunting both face to face and through social media.  One night, after seeing the man (my ex-flatmate), who instigated and maintained this campaign of cruel comedy and viscious slander, several times, I felt overwhelmed.  Instead of going straight home one evening (after a meal with friends), I went to  park, at around 10.30pm.

AmbulanceThe next morning I was found by a security guard and bundled into an ambulance.  I choose not to go into detail, but a man, a complete stranger, had carried out crimes against me that night and had left me (they think he thought I was dead) hidden under bushes.

But we are not going to dwell on that man, because it was not him who broke me, it was actually my ex-flatmate.  I have mentioned him in some posts, and I will explain more in future posts.  But for now, it is enough to say, he was angry with me, he said very unkind things, cruel things about me, he spread slanderous lies about me.  I am still desperately hoping for an opportunity to make peace with him, but even after I was attacked, he seems relentlessly cold towards me.  It is unfathomable to me.  However…that is for other posts.

Right now I want to think about this:

latte

There is a Starbucks coffee house just outside the main entrance of the hospital.  On the day I was to be discharged three years ago, I was ready to leave early in the morning, but my consultant wanted to take some more tests, so I had to wait for the results.  He was  being conscientious I know, and he had to be happy in his mind that physically it was safe for me to leave that hospital and go to stay with my family for a while.  He saw how eager I was to escape the ward though.  So, he suggested my sister and I go out and have brunch in one of the many restaurants in this area and then return for the results.  So, we did exactly that.  However, when we went back four hours later, he was nowhere to be seen.  One of his team paged him and he said he would be at least an hour.  Ay ay ay!

starbucks hampsteadItching to be away from the hospital, my sister and I went down to the Starbucks.  No matter what my opinion of super-giant chains, I have never been so content in that Starbucks sipping the first soya cappuccino I had tasted in over two weeks.  It was so comfortable and relaxed.  The music…was just the music I wanted to hear.  Starbucks – you are forgiven for everything – you were my safe happy place for a whole hour.

While we were sitting in Starbucks, I finally had the mental strength to make a plan.  Up to that moment, I had not known how to tell everyone in London that I would be going up north to stay with my family to recover fully.  What am I saying?  I had not told anyone in London that I was in hospital.  That might sound strange.  But let me explain.

text messageI had not had one day off sick in over five years.  However, shortly before I was attacked I had sent a text message to my manager to say I was not feeling well and was doubtful I would be at work.  So during my first 24 hours in hospital, no one was aware of anything unusual having occurred.  My manager and workmates thought I was unwell.  They presumed that when I did not get in touch the next day that I was still ill.  A friend of mine who I used to go running with was apparently a bit cross I had not let her know I was unwell.  My best friend was on holiday and so were my flatmates.

But after I had spent three days in hospital and nobody had heard from me, my workmates and friends started to worry.  I had my phone switched off to save the battery life.  But I knew people would be worrying.  My sister had come down from the North of England to be with.  I only needed one person.  I did not need a fuss.  She was the right person to call.  She stayed calm and collected.  She texted a good friend of mine who was a director at the site where I worked.  He was discreet and swift.  He promised he would not let anyone know what had happened as I could not cope with the thought of hundreds of messages and calls at that point.  He simply informed my manager that I had to go away due to an emergency.  That went a long way towards dampening the natural curiosity of everyone who had wondered why I had suddenly disappeared.

cry like babyHe wanted to come and see me at hospital, but I asked him not to come.  I was overwhelmed at the time and did not want him to see me as a blubbering wreck.

On the day that I was discharged I was hoping to escape London as soon as possible, but while we were in Starbucks, I suddenly realized it was right to see my friend who was also a director before I vanished.  We called him from Starbucks and said that if my consultant was happy with my test results, we were hoping to drive back up to the north of England that night.  He changed his plans to be able to see me before I left.  The consultant agreed for me to travel and had initiated my care as an outpatient being transferred to a hospital up north.

We met my friend (the director) in a carpark of a shopping centre.  It was easier to talk in the car rather than inside a café.  How do you tell a man what has happened to you?  For some reason, it is easier to tell a woman.  I didn’t have to tell him.  He had guessed.  I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to pass on words of encouragement that imparted power to me.  Most importantly, he reassured me that I could leave everything to him.

He came through for me…everything he said he would do, he did.

ct scanI am back at my little abode.  I had my CT scan.  I am not in any imminent danger.  But there are unusual swellings that they cannot explain.  That is exactly what they said after my last CT scan.  The pain is a problem of course.  But pain is a common issue.  How many people are walking around with physical pain – for which they can just throw pain killers at you until there is actually an obvious cause that they can do something about (ie. Surgery or some other treatment).  I try to grin and bear pain as I don’t like the thought of being dependant on pain killers.

After I left hospital, I went to the Starbucks near the main entrance.  I sat there and sipped a soya cappuccino.  Something happened that was kind of nice and yet not so nice.  A girl called Suzie appeared.  I know Suzie.  She was a good friend and I worked with her for several years.  Suzie often came around to our flat because she was very close to one of my flatmates (my flatmate was also named Suzie).  When my flatmate was married, Suzie was one of the bridesmaids.  I knew Suzie worked at the hospital at the time I was admitted three years ago, but I am pretty sure she is still there after seeing her today.  As soon as I saw Suzie today, my heart leapt with that lovely feeling of recognizing a friend with whom you have shared so many happy hours.  I waved at her and said, “Hi Suzie!”

But here is the not so nice bit, Suzie was not sure who I was.  Even when I told her my name, she seemed to struggle to remember me.  I had to prompt her several times until it finally dawned on her who I was.  She asked where I have been.  She asked if I am married now.  She asked if I was still with him.  I asked her who she meant.  She looked awkward.  I know who she meant.

cyberbullyBefore the night I was attacked, my ex-flatmate had been spreading rumours using social media in particular,, that I was having an affair with a married man.  This was absolutely untrue and damaged not only my reputation but that of a well-respected man.  I worked with this man’s wife, who was also distraught at the rumours.  Her reaction to me today confirmed to me that there are scores of my friends who do not know I was attacked in a park and left London to recover.  Many think I left in shame after an affair with a married man.

Aaaaaah….so I am ending this day with a mixed bag of emotions in all honesty.  Maybe you can imagine some of my feelings.  But it makes me realize the challenges I have ahead.  Before I go home to my life and career and flat…I need to be prepared to face a situation that three years ago I was unable to deal with.  My ex-flatmate made people think I was something that I was not and I am not.  I am going to have to make sure I am not overly sensitive about the damage he has caused.  I must be myself, and if people choose to believe something that is not true – more fool them I guess.

Some of my friends here, especially male friends think I should be tougher.  They think that my ex-flatmate and everyone else who taunted me are complete “losers”.  Even Goldfinch thinks I should not let what happened get to me.  But I am a softie, I have ended up inheriting my mother’s loveliness.  If someone picks a fight with me, I will just walk away, wondering why they would want to fight with me when I only think lovely thoughts towards others.

social media postingIt took me a long time to admit it…but I can see why others have claimed I was bullied and that I was the victim of something known as  “Cyber-bullying”.  When my family members later realized what I had been putting up with they explained to me what a troll was and what cyber-bullying was. At the time, I was trying to laugh it off and pretend it was not getting to me.  But that was not at all the case.  It was getting to me.  How did I feel about a workmate screaming at me because she thought there was a link between her husband and I?  How did I feel being taunted over my ex-flatmate by hundreds of people, many of whom I barely knew?  How did I feel when even my closest friends seemed to be suspicious of me asking me if there was something I was hiding?  Yes there was something I was hiding…I HAD HAD ENOUGH!  I WANTED IT TO STOP!

There is the possibility that it will get to me, that someone has spread lies about me and people I thought were my good friends seem to have believed him.  My sudden vanishing from London may have contributed to that.  But I did not want to share what happened to me in the park that night with all of my friends.  If in the future, I feel isolated emotionally like I did back then, this time I must turn to people who I can count on.  I must not carry that burden alone.  I must not go to any parks on my own late at night.

bullying

 

 

 

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/10/13/troll/

My Day Off

I broke free from the world for just one day…it was my time to let myself breathe, to let myself weep, to let myself mourn. For I am still in mourning. I am the legendary fish trying to live out of water, the bird whose wings have been clipped.

People, Girl, Woman, Alone, Hair, Cap

You see when people who don’t know what I had, the life I lead, the purpose of every moment, tell me to let go of the past, and make new memories, build a new circle of friends…they don’t know, they don’t know where I came from.

I will mourn until I am back where I belong. I snub the new people in my life who tell me to turn my back on my real life and be content with something trivial and meaningless.

Your goals are not my goals. Your dreams are not my dreams. I have no interest in the commercial world. In my bones there is a desire to get down on my hands and knees and work until this earth is as it should be. I reject the life you put before me. I will never ever be yours.

I embrace the life I have led with passion, with conviction, with a deep self-sacrificing love. I will never abandon my quest to be back where I belong. I belong to a way of life I sacrificed every other opportunity to gain.

Or perhaps, I will go to sleep one night and wake up back in my home. Jack will be there whispering to me that it was all a bad dream, a nightmare.

I’m Having A Rest

I wrote this post a year ago…xx

dflsldhadfhaIt’s hard to explain the effect of the last few weeks. If you have experienced how PTSD can play a cruel game of “cat and mouse” with you, goading you, teasing and tormenting, trying to find the fragile cracks in the rebuilt you…then you perhaps don’t need my attempt to explain it.

The inside of my chest feels sore because so many times during the past month, I have woken up, or experienced in the daylight, a horrible fear, a chilling flashback, and devastating memories and emotions that want to make me crumble again. My chest hurts after the stress levels of the past month have soared.

Anyway….I am going to have a rest over the next few days. I have some time off work, and I need to rest up and recover from the damage that stress has caused. I am still not 100% sure how I will spend all of my time off. Today, I have gone walkabout, but without knowing where there are public toilets that are open, I can imagine I won’t be able to go too far. I don’t want to be tied to a plan over these few days. I want to feel free. Freedom is part of what helps me to feel better.

lsdihgshgsg

I just want to let you know, I have scheduled some of my older posts to be republished over the next few days. They are posts from the past. They are not current. I mention this because I think I sometimes have confused people when I have done this before.

Most of you will know me and Jack are together now, as a couple. It still astonishes me at times that things have worked out for us. So things have changed dramatically since I wrote a lot of these posts. Jack has read these posts and we have discussed what I wrote a lot.

fdsgbfsghshHe and I are in a good place. I am looking forward to seeing him soon…after his fourteen day quarantine is over. But the two of us have challenges ahead. There is still an oppressive question mark hanging over the future. Right now…I personally feel neither of us need to feel pressured into any big decisions. We should be allowed to enjoy being together at long last, and I am every reluctant to let anyone else scrutinise us. To be in the life we want to lead together, there would be a lot of scrutiny – I am not ready for that.

So right now…we are not making plans…we just talk about possibilities in the future. All sorts of possibilities. We will have to wait and see. But we seem to be living at a time when making plans is much harder than it used to be.

Right….anyway….ciao for now – I am having a rest – just don’t be anxious about me when you see my older posts appearing. I have recovered so much peace since Jack and I ended our silence and ended up together.

The Anger Is Lurking

It’s that time of year again. Perhaps to someone who has never been through a life-changing trauma, it is hard to understand the need to let out the hurt inside once in a while. But others will know that if you don’t let that hurt out, you start to become erratic and agitated and scary!!!

I think a number of you know what my life-changing traumatic experience involved. Others perhaps have no idea what I am referring to. Well….it is now six years ago – six whole years since I was the victim of a terrible crime. Strangely perhaps, I found it not too difficult to process what had happened, and to box it up and put it on the top shelf where I did not think about it very often. There were a lot of other stressful factors that have been a lot harder to deal with, but making peace with Jack has healed so many of the wounds that came before the night I went to a park on my own….the location where I was later attacked.

But even though I rarely think of what happened to me that night, around this time of year, the reminders start pouring in. The hot weather, the smell of grass, Italian food, animals screeching in the night…they seem to be like little triggers (doh – was trying not to use that word!)…ok like little distortions in subspace that send me through a wormhole right back to that night.

How else do you describe a “flashback”? (Another word I was trying to avoid!) The recollection is so real, so terrifyingly real, that I really feel as if I am right there, and it is happening in the present. It is such a powerful phenomenon and it is unpredictable and deeply disturbing. The brain can do some bizarre things.

Brain, Glowing, Lights, Mind, Creativity

I woke up on Sunday night full of anger. I am not a person who gets angry. But the memory of what was done to me….I was enraged. Jack is away at the moment. He knows this time of year is tough for me. He has been sending me lots of messages and emails with photos of his trip. I am so grateful to have his love. As I mentioned earlier…it has resulted in enormous healing.

Yet…even though my life is now blessed beyond all of my expectations…I find that I need to take the box off the shelf, and have my tears and let the pain out. Every year someone seems to become distressed that I can be sad. I find that odd. Hey…being sad when you have a good reason is ok!! Even Jesus was sad at times! It is ok for Melody to be sad because of the painful memories.

This is a time of year that will pass. The memories will fade. The box will be sealed tight again and it will go back up onto the top shelf, where I will forget all about it. So if you recognize my posts and know you have read them before….please feel free to skip them. If you have not seen them before…please don’t get your knickers in a twist about them. I am just letting myself grieve. I am allowed my tears, my sadness, my anger for these few days as the memories flood over me. I don’t want to write anything fresh. I don’t really have more to say about what happened. I just need to mark it as a calamity, an injustice, a crime that robbed me of so much.

Woman, Meadow, Sunset, Silhouette, Sky

And…it is ok! I am ok. I am more than ok in fact! I am getting married to the man who was the pivotal reason why I was overcome with despair and foolishly allowed myself to abandon my senses in the night on my own. I am living my happy ending every day…and so much healing has been accomplished, so much joy has been regained. But if I don’t let myself have a few tears…I will go crazy!

We Cannot Control The Movements of Kamikaze Squirrels

This was another e-mail to Stuart that I adapted into a post. But I wrote it while working for the family in Notting Hill that I was living with and working for:

Have you ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong?  You seem to have worked hard all day and accomplished precious little.  Despite the best made plans, your efforts are thwarted and your hard work is sabotaged even by the most unlikely of candidates.  “Looks innocent enough”, you might think!  Do not be taken in by the cute fluffy outer-shell.  This little one has made himself public enemy number one.

Kamakaze Squirrel

When I attended the interview for my current post, I was told that there were three or hour hours of work to do each day, and occasional child-minding.  They said “occasionally” they might need to ask me to do a “little overtime” and asked me to be flexible as work might vary from day to day.  They asked me to start at 8am.  But I soon realized that they had absolutely no idea of the time it took to complete the tasks they asked for each day. I have actually worked a few ten hours days so far, but they don’t seem to realize how much time the tasks they are giving me are taking. I thought that I was managing to get closer to completing my work within the suggested time frame the first two days this week. It seemed that I was roughly managing 7.30am-2pm – and then a lunch break followed by an hour of ironing.  It is essential to escape before every one comes home and wreaks havoc on the house!

But today everything has gone out of the window.  I still have three loads of washing drying outside, the big towels are on the tumble drier and a dark wash in the washing machine.  I am hoping to wash the lodger’s linen today and hang it outside while there is still some sunshine and then I really need to do a rag wash – I have a huge bag of used micro-fibre and buffing cloths that I need to put through the washing machine, because I am running out of cleaning cloths.

Nevermind!  It is just going to have to be one of those days.

I keep analysing my schedule and trying to work out where I can shave time off my tasks. I am a woman! I should be able to multi-task more effectively! I have sort of a game-plan. I try to have all of the ironing finished by the evening and everything is stacked neatly ready to be delivered first thing in the morning. For example, I might grab one stack and run up stairs to the top floor and deliver and at the same time make the beds and tidy/wipe the bathroom. I grab the laundry bag which seems to be always full and grab the bin liner and go down to the bedroom below. I make the bed, tidy/wipe the bathroom and grab the laundry and the bin liner and head downstairs to the utility room to start off the washing. Then I can head back up and ideally the family will be on their way out so that I can start cleaning up the kitchen.  After all of that I can start the thorough clean of a the entire floor of the house.  Five floors of the house, one floor each day.  Now in principle that sounds straightforward doesn’t it?

But life is unpredictable is it not!!!  Proverb for the day:

We cannot control the movements of kamikaze squirrels.

This morning the delay was as follows.  The nanny leaves the boys clothes out each evening so that everything is ready for the following morning.

However, today Dad was very concerned about his youngest, “It is so hot today the little one will be too warm in a long-sleeved school shirt, so could you find a short-sleeved school T-shirt for one of the boys?”  Well, I ran from the ground floor up to the second floor.  No other T-shirts at all on his room.  I run back down to the ground floor to deliver the message that he does not have any other shirts in his room.  I was asked to go back up to the second floor to check if there were any in his brother’s room?  I pointed out that if his brother has short-sleeved t-shirts they were unlikely to fit the little one?  Four years age gap between the boys. They wanted to give it a try.  So, I ran up to the second floor again.  His brother had three T-shirts but they are all long-sleeved.  I ran back downstairs to tell them.  They asked me  if there were any shirts anywhere else? Well, I guessed the other shirts must be in the laundry, even though I washed everything in all the laundry baskets and ironed everything I washed yesterday (three loads yesterday).  I ran downstairs to check.  There were five dirty school T-shirts in the laundry baskets.  Why had the two boys been through five school shirts in just one day? – I have no idea.  There were also three unlabelled T-shirts which were clean, but all  long-sleeved.

By now I had wasted 20 minutes running up and down stairs. The poor little one still had to wear a long-sleeved T-shirt for school.  Nothing has been accomplished, except I could possibly claim I have already burnt off all of the calories from my breakfast.

I headed back up to the third floor to start bed-making.  Only I heard my name being called.  I ran back down to the ground floor. They wanted to tell me that they were going to keep the front windows open to create a through draft.  Great idea!  I ran back upstairs.  Then I heard my name again.  The shopping had arrived.  Somehow, it has suddenly become my job to deal with the shopping, even though they say they do it themselves.  This is the fifth week in a row I have done it.  I am pretty quick at organizing shopping – it is one of “my things”. That’s fine, if they need me to do it, I will do it. So, I unpacked the shopping.  Only, it wouldn’t all fit in the fridge, so I had to carry a lot downstairs to the spare fridge in the utility room.

I was looking at my watch and realizing that it was over 50 minutes since I started work. I still had not made my first bed yet.  I headed back up to the upper floors. I made the beds, I wiped bathrooms and brought the laundry and the rubbish down.  I put on the first wash I headed up to the kitchen.  I was a whole hour behind schedule by now.  I would like to have cleared the breakfast and wiped the sides and emptied the rubbish already – but suddenly the nanny arrived.  Five minutes later, the lady of the house came home from yoga.  Yoga just happens to be the same time as the morning school run.  So while the rest of us are trying to bribe the children to put their uniforms on, finish their breakfast and make their was to school…she is meditating and stretching.

I was now working around them while they sipped coffee and discussed the arrangements planned for the day.  They are both super lovely and I had a little chatter with them both.  But there is always a little “oh could you just do this or just do that” to slow me down and it normally involves running up and down stairs in the process.  I decided there is no way I could just wait around to be able to do the kitchen properly, I would have to do that after they had gone.  Instead, I decided to start with the cleaning upstairs…

I was cleaning the children’s rooms today.  Of course, before I can really start cleaning, there is always a lot of tidying to do.  Toys, clothing items, books…they seem to be everywhere except they ought to be.  I might be imaging it, but it sometimes seems as if the boys go into their room and open up all the cupboards and drawers, and then pull everything out and throw their belongings up into the air to see where they will land.  I was still tidying and had not started cleaning their rooms, when I heard my name again.

I went down to the first floor master bedroom where the voice was coming from.  I could not believe my eyes! Yesterday, I had done a thorough clean of this room.  An hour earlier I had spent fifteen minutes making the bed and tidying the clothes that were left on the floor.  This time I really was not imagining it.  Somebody, (and it was looking very much like that somebody was the lady of the house) really had opened all of the closet doors and drawers and pulled out all of her clothes and shoes and bags and thrown them on the floor.

Ay ay ay!!! My parents forbade us from using expletives…but the thought that ran through my mind was not a happy one.  She was looking for some shoes.  She has possibly sixty pairs I realized last week when I cleaned the inside of her closet and re-arranged everything at her request.  I put the normal looking sensible shoes in the main shelves and the weird shoes (you know they types someone might want to wear for a fancy-dress party) on the top shelves of the closet.  She described to me the pair of shoes she wanted to wear, while I tried to hide the horrified dismay on my face.  I asked her if she meant the spice girls shoes.  She didn’t know what I meant.

Well, tell me, if someone asked you to find shoes that are red, blue and white, with sequins and with a platform wedge…how would you describe them?  When I originally saw these shoes, I thought they were hideous, but I concluded they must be part of a “Ginger Spice” fancy dress costume.  Apparently not, I discovered today that they are the latest creation of some sensational designer – of course she would know about these things since she works in the fashion industry.  After I had found the shoes, I had to put everything back into the drawers and wardrobes.  Then back upstairs to clean the rooms on the third floor.  I still had not cleaned the kitchen after breakfast.  All the washing needed to be sorted out.  I was not sure when, or if, today was ever going to end!

Well….this is life…this is house-keeping!!!!  I am telling myself to get on with it and deal with things calmly and not get flustered but see the funny side of things.

The “funny side of things”…and now we come back to the squirrel…he looked innocent enough didn’t he?

…I had just finished for the day – everything was looking immaculate and I turned the lights off.  I was heading downstairs to take a quick shower before I went out, when…..CRASH!!!!….I turned around and my jaw dropped.  A kamikaze squirrel!!!!!  It had just done some kind of “Fosbury flop” and a triple somersault.  As it had done so, it knocked off several plant pots from the wall.  Now there was broken pottery and soil all over the patio and some of the plants had come right out of the pots.  The squirrel (who must have had some kind of a death wish) was outside the window staring in at me!!!  So, I had to fetch the broom and start sweeping up the soil and re-arranging the plant pots.

This is life! – things will crop up won’t they!!!  We cannot control the movements of kamikaze squirrels.

I am going to head out for a walk as soon as I have finished.  I am going to take my sling-shot, or perhaps my bow-and-arrow and try to find that squirrel.  My aunt Judy would love a new fur hat!

You know I am joking right!