The Teasing Turns Treacherous

tired.pngI didn’t realize how much I had to say on the subject of REJECTION! This post finally outlines the challenges that had the most damaging effect on me. I first met Jack around eight years ago. It was some time after I met him that a situation began to develop around  him and I. I had never had a challenge of that scale, not one that affected me in such a personal way.

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

despairYesterday 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.

In the last post I mentioned some of the stress I was under at work. Perhaps, this made me so tired, I was less effective at dealing with a situation I had never before encountered.

MY LOVELIFE

dean and annie5From my late teens, I was courted by a wonderful young man named Jammy. (His real name was James, everyone called him Jamey…but as a child he pronounced that as “Jammy”. So Jammy stuck.)

When I was in my mid-twenties, I ended the courtship. It was not a REJECTION, I just realized how different we had become. We talked about it, we agreed. It was a hard decision, but to stay together would have led to more unhappiness than ending the courtship. We made sure that we reassured each other. Years later we ended up living round the corner from each other (by which time Jammy was married). He was still a great caring friend to me.

unexpected.jpgI had lots of male friends (hey, I had been working on construction sites for years). I went on dates, but I knew there was noone I wanted to have a romance with. I received two marriage proposals, both of which I REJECTED. But I explained my reasons kindly. One of those men took it well, the other didn’t. He left the country! He decided to move to the Arctic Circle. I wrote a post about Pete actually:

I Wonder Where Pete Is Now

greg.jpgAnyway…Jack was already an international volunteer, but he was assigned to be based in London six months after I was. He caused quite a stir. A celebrity who was going to be boarding with the rest of us in basic accommodation. He is amazingly charismatic. Volunteers are already a friendly, energetic bunch, but Jack managed to bring even more life and spirit to every project he was involved in. I was aware of his presence, but I was yet to meet him. then came the day he sat opposite me when I was out with friends for brunch. I realized he was looking at me.

platonicAfter that we were on friendly terms. We were at a lot of social events together. We both loved karaoke. It all started with a bit of teasing. I just tried to dampen down what people were saying. I REJECTED the tittle tattle as nonsense. My closest friends (who had been spending a lot of time with Jack) claimed he liked me. I know I know…it sounds like school doesn’t it! But this was how it started. Before I knew it…it went viral. I think that’s what is is called. Suddenly I was walking along a road and strangers were approaching me to take photos and ask me if I was shagging Jack. In the end I wrote down hundreds of comments made to me and questions I was asked.

waltzin in.jpgThere were a few things that Jack may not have realized were adding to my stress. He kept turning up at the infirmary where I worked, to cheer up our patients. He would come waltzing in with those smouldering eyes and that gorgeous smile of his. He would sing to our patients and take selfies with everyone. And they loved him! So he kept coming back.

But our team claimed he was really coming to see me. He used to bring young lads with him (he is a very good influence on a lot of youngsters). These teenage lads would be looking over at me and whispering and laughing. Jack made it obvious the conversation they were having was about me. I REJECTED the silly comments. I liked Jack a lot. but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I didn’t believe that he would ever like me.

triedNews was spreading in ways I never understood. I received calls and e-mails from friends in other countries asking if I was dating Jack. A few people said they had heard we were engaged to be married. Jack and I were friendly at this point, but nothing was going on. Then he moved into the flat I was living in. The rumours multiplied. Look, I have a great sense of humour. I could see the funny side of some of them, even though they were not really appropriate. I spoke to the young man who was telling everyone that Jack had been drilling a hole in his bedroom wall so he could watch me undressing.

ideals1There was other teasing that came from our close friends and colleagues. Jack was sometimes a bit untidy. Ella refused to clear up after him. But I cleared up after anyone I had lived with. I love cleaning. Well…jokes developed along the lines that I was making myself the next Mrs Jack Barnes.

annie8Our close friends were teasing that I was washing his dishes and picking up his clothes and throwing away his moldy food etc because I was in love with him. He retaliated by telling everyone I had OCD and was obsessed with cleaning. He didn’t realize that my new manager and his new assistant took those rumours literally and decided I was a control freak, which is why they thought I wouldn’t cooperate with the changes they were making. Actually I did cooperate. But I asked them to listen to the girls on our team who were crying because they couldn’t cope with the new rota and the harshness from them.

songaPeople became more bold about what they said directly to Jack and I. They were “friends”. They would say things with a grin, so it had to be a joke right. They would say things like, “What you two need is just to have a really good snog (or a shag) and then you won’t feel awkward with each other anymore.” Or they would suggest that we surprise each other by walking into each other’s bedroom and pouncing. Or they would say, “You look happy this morning, have you two been shagging again?” None of this was happening. Jack and me were not speaking to each other. We were scared to look at each other.

annie disappointedBut what I really really objected to was being called a slapper, a dirty slut, the slag next door, Jack’s latest whore…I found that very objectionable. I hated seeing photographs of myself at parties where Jack was near me. I had no online presence, but people showed me photos they had come across. People were getting hold of my phone number and I received messages from mystery numbers full of obscene language and lewd comments referring to what I was apparently doing to Jack in the flat we shared.

The result? Jack and I became awkward in the flat. We stopped talking. We were awkward outside of the flat. We were at the same social events and were scared to go near each other. But these rumours would not die down. More and more photos of us were online. There were some frankly cruel comments from people I had never met calling me ugly, fat, miserable.

names.pngIt’s hard to convey the sheer amount of incidents of online cruelty that were accumulating. They started to affect me. I became convinced that Jack disliked me. He wasn’t speaking to me. People were saying online I was this ugly fat wannabe who was harassing Jack and throwing myself at him. Then something kind of strange happened. It all centers around one week in our flat. In fact the events of that week inspired a whole series of posts (which are badly written I know, I was just so emotional when I was writing those posts). If you have a few hours spare, you can read the entire saga that developed:

rumoursThat’s not the end of it though. As I mentioned in those posts, after I moved out of the flat, the rumours were that after our passionate affair, we had argued, I had tried to attack Jack with a knife and we now hated each other. It all became more and more ridiculous. Our close friends knew there was a rift between us. I kept on turning up to the homes of friends who had invited me for dinner and there was Jack. Our friends wanted us to be friends. But it was so awkward.

I was struggling. I don’t think anyone understood how my confidence had crumbled. I had left the flat I loved and flatmates I loved. I had moved in with flatmates who had hardly interest in me. One of them seemed to think I was after her husband. That was not a nice situation to be living in. Moving out of the flat had not stopped the rumours. It had just changed them. I regularly heard that Jack hated me from others.

endorphinsI just threw myself into work and took on extra assignments. In my spare time I started doing more and more sport, That is supposed to be good for you, endorphins and everything. I lost a quite a lot of weight. I was avoiding the main dining room were meals were served. So I was hiding in the changing rooms or somewhere outside eating a rice-cake and hummus day after day. I am five foot eight and was looking extremely lean at this point.

Friends who picked up on my stress levels told me I was working too hard and should go out and have fun. People give what they think is well-meaning advice don’t they!

night out1I was still being invited to lots of parties and social gatherings, but not by those I admired and respected any longer. I was being invited by a more wild kind of crowd. I remember going to a club with some people I hardly knew and dancing for hours. I was full of adrenaline, my emotions turbulent. My friends said I was getting a reputation for being a party girl. Rumours online about me twerking (whatever that is!) and flirting with men were upsetting my friends, and apparently, the rumours about me were getting back to Jack.

burnWork was still challenging. There was so much negativity. Everyone was complaining about our new manager and his assistant. There was not a nice atmosphere. I just concentrated on our patients and gave my most tender care. I also helped a neighbour who had experienced a severe stroke at the age of thirty. Her sight, cognitive abilities and physical mobility were very limited. She and I developed our own little language – literally. She was the highlight of my week. The time I spent with her was so special to me.

take me homeJack a presenter at a charity entertainment evening. I don’t know what he was thinking. He made several jokes that were about me. I was right there in the audience that night. He didn’t name me of course. More calls, texts, e-mails. I remember two men chasing me down the road shouting out at me indicating they knew the jokes were about me.

The bereaved husband of a wonderful woman we cared for until she died came to visit us. He had been in Africa for months, so naturally when he saw me he gave me a huge bear hug. Guess who witnessed that? Well, in addition to Jack, around twenty people saw it actually. We had dinner together with some other carers. We also sat next to each other at the funeral of a very special volunteer who was well over one hundred when she died. Some of my friends suggested that I would be perfect for him. But gossipers said he and I were already “involved”. Rumours were that I had stopped chasing Jack and was now after my dear friend. It broke me.

impertinantI remember after some incredibly impertinent questions from someone I looked up to in front of others who I admired accusing me of trying to climb the ladder by catching an interesting husband…I just broke into tears. Amazingly Suzie and Marta just happened to arrive at the right time. They were horrified at what I was experiencing in connection with a man who was like a brother to us after we had supported him through the biggest trial of his life. I wrote about this dear friend of ours and his amazing wife in this post:

Catrina And Catbells

joggingThe running club I went to – it was very popular. Some weeks fifty people turned up. But when it was raining, there would only be handful of us. I remember Jack driving past me when I was running in the rain. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but there was a man running alongside me, a regular at the club. Shortly afterwards, rumours began that I was having a relationship with this married man. His wife worked with me. She was understandably very upset.

There is more. But this post is already so long!!

no more.jpgThe truth is, I didn’t have a relationship with any man after I ended the courtship with Jammy. Because of Jack, nobody I was friendly with could show interest in me without a lot of gossip and possibly losing Jack’s friendship. Who would want to be REJECTED by Jack – one of the most popular volunteers across the country? Maybe nobody was interested in me. Afterall, social media had labelled me an ugly fat slut. Why would anyone want to date me? I was lonely. My friends had evaporated. My close friends all loved Jack. I couldn’t tell my family what was going on. I was talking to them regularly, but I told them everything was great. I wanted them to think I was happy in this wonderful life I had sacrificed everything to attain.

annabelleI felt REJECTED. By Jack, by my friends, by my manager and his assistant, by a faceless mass of strangers who thought they could say anything they wanted about me. What hurt was that the people I had looked up to, admired and imitated…they seemed to be shunning me because of what they were hearing about me. They were very pally with Jack. But I was facing REJECTION from those who I desperately wanted to accept me.

Well…I will carry on with the rest of  the saga tomorrow. But by now, I hope you have an idea of the challenges I was dealing with. I know it might sound silly…but the accumulative effect of all of the above had built up. It’s sometimes hard to empathise when you read about someone else’s challenges. What is distressing to one person might be “no big deal” to someone else. I was overwhelmed and felt powerless to fight the force of that nasty slanderous gossip, which had started with teasing, but warped into something brutal.

ouch1What I had experienced had eroded the inside of me. I was no longer myself. My energy, my appetite, my sleep were all affected. Increasingly I wanted to be alone. I REJECTED many invitations. When I did spend time with my friends, I was still smiling and laughing, but inside I was cracking up.

There were too many times I prayed that my Creator would allow me to go to sleep and not wake up the next day. But I kept on waking up to the same situation. It didn’t relent.

After over two years of stress…something happened that changed my situation dramatically. I will let you know what changed (well, you might already know) and how I tried to overcome the feelings of REJECTION that had been sucking the joy out of me.

I Think I Can Safely Say That Today Is Over

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.

bully

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/

I Must Have Tried A Thousand Times

I wanted to write a post about a moment that my sister Mandy was hoping would cheer me up…but it actually had the opposite effect. So, although I am no expert in mental health, I am only describing my own experience, this post describes the emotions I dealt with within the first few weeks after I was attacked. How just a silly little thing can knock you all the way back to Square One, well, it knocked me anyway. I had never been so sensitive and exposed emotionally (and I am glad it did not last long, because frankly it was exhausting!)

nutshells.jpgFor those who don’t know much about the past few years for me…here it is in a very quick nutshell:

Life was pretty perfect…a male friend (Jack) and I seemed to be getting on well, lots of other people took an interest in us and started teasing us, then rumours started, then he moved into the flat I was living in, more rumours, now we were very awkward, more rumours and gossip, then we had a chat…he said he loved me.

Woah! Then we were less awkward, then the rumours and gossip went wild, then I found out he may have been feeding the rumours, then we had a kind of argument, then we became really awkward, then I moved out of the flat, then the rumours became even worse and became nasty, we were more awkward and then were more rumours. Then the rumours changed, gossip spread that I was having an affair with another man, a married man, his wife screamed at me at a very public occasion.

I tried again and again to sort things out with my ex-flatmate, he was very hostile, I started sinking into despair. I went to a park on night because I did not want to see him, a stranger with ill intent was also there that night, the next morning I woke up in an ambulance after a security guard had found me.

Now…if you did not know that had happened, you might not have understood what I am going to describe next..

After I left hospital in London I went up north to stay with family members. At first I was just sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. But when I started to feel I was up to a more normal routine, my sister Mandy was eager to plan activities that would distract me. I appreciate how well meaning she was.

I wanted to show some enthusiasm for her ideas. She wanted to take me to all sorts of places to visit, beautiful parks and gardens, farms, zoos, quaint cafes, all sorts of places. And eventually we did go to some of those places. We went for walks in the countryside and National Trust properties in the North of England.

Those activities did help in some ways, although that was a very strange time for me emotionally. I was not at all myself. Not at all. I remember PTSD being a subject for the counsellors I spent time with. To be honest, I never concerned myself with labels and diagnosis – I just thought I would heed the practical advice I had been given and take one day at a time.

I ended the counsellor appointments after a couple of months because I didn’t think they were helping at all. I might or might not write a post about the counsellor that made me determined that nobody was going to come to see me anymore. He was such an idiot. Honestly, it makes me cross even now to think of how unprofessional he was. What they did do, and I am glad of it, is help me to recognize that I was more traumatised by what they described as bullying (the taunting and rumours that had developed around the relationship with my flatmate for over two years and his hostility when I tried to resolve the misunderstanding between us), than I was the physical attack I had been a victim of.

As Mandy was going through her list of suggestions for days out she decided she would share with me the new album her husband just bought her. She told me enthusiastically how fantastic this singer was and this was her latest album. She selected her favourite song and pressed play and asked me to listen to it.

 

I listened. I looked at her and I think she saw what was happening to me. It was an awful awful feeling of someone else, someone with an amazing voice, singing words that cut your heart to ribbons of pain. She realized that had happened as she saw me break down in heaving wheezing cries of agony. That sent me back to bed for several more days in outbreaks of distraught sobbing.

Poor Mandy. I think she realized that when you have someone who has been through such a traumatic experience – you just can’t introduce intense emotion in any form at first. Well, at least that was my experience – I could not handle those intense emotions. For a while I had to be allowed to be numb. It took me time to be able to deal with emotions again. For some time, I found just busying myself with housework and household laundry and reading information books was all I could do. Exposing myself to emotions came slowly and carefully.

That level of intensity and those powerful lyrics that touched on such a terribly raw nerve completely debilitated me.

It’s funny, because three and a half years later I can actually enjoy that song, (after all it is a beautiful song by an amazing singer) but I remember the first time I heard it – it was totally the wrong time for me!

….Hello Jack!

Hello from the other side!

I must have tried a thousand times….

Along Came Jack

I was very pleased to see that Sarah, the creator of Sarah Elizabeth Moore, will be hosting a weekly writing prompt during 2019. I loved her prompts back in August.

Please feel free to prepare a post of your own and link it back to Sarah’s host page:

https://sarahelizabethmoore.org/2019/01/06/writing-prompt-1/

010619

I Want To Go Home

me at 9Not the home I grew up in. Although I was very happy there, and had a very active and wonderful childhood – my family home is no longer my home. Our family is not even there anymore. Around ten years ago, my parents were able to sell the family home when we all left to live elsewhere, and they moved into a bungalow near to my grandfather, who was starting to struggle with his health. We lost my grandfather last year.

I left home in 2007, 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). 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 in 2010 to become a full-time international volunteer was like a dream.  It was like coming home…even though I had been happy before.  I was happy on a different level. Everything felt right. It was hard work, and for long hours. 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.  Not at all. 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.

Then along came Jack…

I remember the first morning I met Jack.  We were having breakfast with some friends and he arrived late and he sat opposite me.  It appeared that the way I tucked into my stack of pancakes had the ability to captivate him. My friends always said they had noticed the way he was looking at me and knew he was going to chase me.

I will never understand how Jack changed over the next few years. He went from being glued to my side at parties and social events, to moving into the flat I was living in when a room became vacant. First he was friendly, then he was grumpy and miserable, then he told me he loved me. There was so much said by so many other people, but nowhere near enough open communication between Jack and me. Jack became a complete riddle to me. I could not decipher him. The breakdown in communication between us and the pressure from hundreds, perhaps thousands of others who frankly had nothing to do with the situation, led me to feel it was right for me to move out of the flat.

Subsequently, Jack became even more estranged. He seemed to feel humiliated. He manifest that with being reckless with what he said about me. He caused me humiliation on many occasions.

The situation became much worse when rumours circulated that I was having an affair with the husband of one of my colleagues. I was not of course. I will write a more detailed post one day about those ridiculous rumours and why I think Jack was responsible for them. By that point I had lost all sense of trust in Jack.

What was, and should have been, personal between Jack and I, was becoming more and more public. Due to an incident which I shall also describe in more detail in another post, I was called into a formal meeting with a couple of directors and told that these scenes could not go on occurring in public areas in front of many onlookers. The directors were firm that Jack and I needed to resolve our differences.

elevatorJack was incredibly hostile in response to my efforts to speak to him. One day…I saw him four times and he just kept on scowling. The last time I saw him up close was when I was waiting for the elevator within our apartment block. The doors opened, and there stood Jack glaring at me with an expression that seemed to convey hatred. I stepped back. There was no way I was going to be within the elevator with him.

I went out with friends that night and 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. 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.

He did things to me that caused me great physical injury…and emotional distress. I left hospital in London and did not even go home to collect any belongings. For a year I stayed in the homes of various family members in the north of England in Wales while I recovered. I needed to be away from gossip and rumours – they would have made the challenges I faced of recovering from that night impossible. My family and those who knew what had happened that night were outraged and shocked. I have received great support from them because of what happened that night.

However…what hardly anyone seems to understand is that the damage was already done. It is the situation with Jack that had crushed me. I needed help long before. I needed Jack to stop long long before. I showed clemency to Jack for so long it left me empty and exhausted.

I should never have gone to the park on my own that night.  But I wish in a way I could change everything that happened with Jack. I sometimes have wished that I had never known him. Could I change the moment when he joined me and a group of friends for breakfast that morning and sat opposite me? If I could go back to that moment, I think I would have swapped seats with someone, or just walked out so that he did not have chance to dwell on me.

If I could re-live those moments – I would have run from Jack. No matter how long he chased me for, I would keep on running. There is no way I would let him take me away from my home!

My life, my chosen career, my world. If I could change one thing about my life. I would be back home. I am not going to give up hope.

https://swimmersweek.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/trust/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/your-daily-word-prompt-clemency-january-6-2019/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/riddle/

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/

FOWC with Fandango — Leave

Do not be afraid. I…will help you.

I don’t mind being alone…truth be told, I quite like my own company.  My head is never empty of happy thoughts, wonderful memories, dreamy hopes.  I am more than content to be alone at times and be lost in my own pleasant mind.

However, I was once all alone.  Not on my own physically, rather I was isolated within a challenge that I could no longer handle.  I am going to save the full saga of how this challenge developed and intensified for other posts.  But for now, it is enough for you to know that I had no idea who to turn to for help.  It was a situation I did not feel I could share with my loving family.  It would have appalled them to know what I was dealing with.

I had lost confidence in the friends around me.  I had many friends who had known me since childhood but none of whom were living in London.  Those I thought could perhaps help, I either did not want to bother them because they were so important, or I was frightened of the consequences of getting others involved.  Truth be told, the man who was the root of all my trials had confused me.  (If you read “Peanut-Butter Cookies – That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbled” or “Would You Like A Cup Of Tea?” you may understand why I was confused.)

This man seemed to have decided to make my life miserable…he was a very influential man.  He was a popular celebrity.  He had been using social media to spread his dissatisfaction with me which had intensified my isolation.  I am a softie…I don’t fight with people.  I had never been in this situation before.

My isolation had been increasing over time.  One Tuesday evening, I felt I could not go home to where I lived because I might see him again.  I had seen him several times during the previous days and he had shown his usual hostility.  So I did not go home.  I went to a local park.  I sat on a bench and allowed tears to stream down my face.  I was overwhelmed by this challenge…I felt not just alone, but all alone.  Isolated in my emotional pain.  Maybe you have experienced that kind of alone…”all alone”…feeling under intense stress and not knowing who you can turn to.

In London you are not often alone physically.  There are always lots of people around. When I arrived in the park there were joggers, dog-walkers, cyclists.  A man sat next to me on the bench.  A complete stranger.  It was him.  I was not afraid at first, I was caught up in my burdensome brooding.  But I do remember what happened when I stood up with the sudden awareness that now it was dark and there were no joggers, dog-walkers, cyclists anywhere I looked.  I had decided I should not be there.  I said it out loud.  I actually said, “I should go home.”  I try not to think about him.  Despite what he did that night, the damage was already done.  Caramel was already crushed long before that night.

Now I am going to take you forward several hours.  A security guard had found me…he had found me left in bushes with obvious injuries.  He had called an ambulance.

Ambulance

The rest of the day…well I remember an array of flashes and noises.  I was asked many questions, the same questions over and over, by paramedics, nurses, doctors, police…everyone introduced themselves…I still remember some of  their names, Gary, Patrick, Michelle, Daryl, Samara, Naomi, Carol, Jyoti, Michael, another Michael…I cannot remember their roles, but I can remember their words.  I was asked again and again what I could remember.  I would be asked that question many many more times.

I was also asked who they could call…I kept on saying “Noone, please, not yet.”  I told them where I lived, but I begged them not to contact anyone yet.  I knew that my family and friends would be very distressed.  I needed time to be able to muster the strength to reassure them that I was alright and everything was going to be alright.

I drifted in and out of consciousness…after a whole day and night in the hospital I woke up on the Thursday morning feeling numb and empty.  One of the first people I saw that morning must have been a ward clerk, with the task of arranging discharges.  She introduced herself as Sally.  She asked me how I was getting home? had I arranged my transport home? was someone coming to pick me up? or would I be making my own way home?  I felt horrified…suddenly the thought of going back to my accommodation after what had happened to me in the park was impossible in my mind.

How could I go back there?  He was still there…the man who had been making my life unbearable for two years.  There were scores of neighbours who had been speculating about the relationship between he and I.  Over the two years thousands of cruel words had been spread about me.  I had been taunted and mocked about him.  Hundreds, perhaps thousands of others – friends, workmates, and his fans had read his posts about me on his social media sites.  He even used me as the subject of a comedy sketch he was involved in on an entertainment show.  After that I received many many more remarks about his view of me.  I had been enduring all of that for almost two years and it had essentially crushed me.

This site is Crushed Caramel.  I am finally sharing with you what crushed Caramel.  Not what happened that night in the park, but the two years beforehand.  Now…with my physical injuries and the horror inside of me of what had happened during the night I was in the park…how could I go back now?  I was not ready.

I said to Sally that I had not made any arrangements yet.  I asked her what time did I have to leave? was the bed I was in needed by another patient?  She had a look at my notes and replied that I should not worry until the consultant made his rounds.  I was worried though!  When the consultant came…I asked him what time I had to leave.  He made it clear that I was not going anywhere.  He said that they would be keeping an eye on me for the next few days.  I was relieved.  Pressure lifted, I felt that would allow me the time to work out what next.  Who should I call?

My best friend Marta was on holiday in Spain, visiting her family.  My closest sister Milly had just flown out to Central Africa to begin a new project.  I did not want to call my parents just then because I knew they would be anxious, possibly devastated if they saw what had happened to me.  My flatmates, Ivo and Lyn, were also on holiday.  I did not want to call my boss or anyone too important.  I had many friends in London, but they were all  friends of my ex-flatmate.  I was frightened they would tell him what had happened to me.  There was one thing I was sure of, I did not want him to know.

Momentarily, I felt desperately alone.  For the first time since I arrived at the hospital I began to cry.  It was not being on my own, but feeling all alone.  There seemed to be noone who could really take the weight of this enormous challenge away from my shoulders, noone who could lift the heavy burden on my heart.  The pressure inside me was welling up and out poured tears.  I cried silently.  But the raw pain inside was burning away.

That was when these words suddenly started to echo around my mind:

If I would fly away with the wings of the dawn to reside by the most remote sea,  Even there your hand would lead me and your right hand would take hold of me.  

If I say: “Surely darkness will conceal me!” Then the night around me would become light.  Even the darkness would not be too dark for you. But night would be as bright as the day; Darkness is the same as light to you.

You may know these words well or perhaps you have never heard those words before. You may have other sources you turn to for comfort and wisdom. But these were the beautiful words that started to sing within me.  The pain, the pressure, the panic melted. Comfort invaded the space they had been occupying.  Comfort in the shape of warmth, of courage, of knowing I was not alone.  The awareness that I had a friend who was far bigger than any challenge I could ever face, far more powerful than the worst of my fears, was immensely comforting.  I felt as if a great pair of arms lifted me up out of the bed I was resting in and gave me a bear hug!

Those last words “darkness is the same as light to you”.  Momentarily the gloominess of my situation had overwhelmed me.  However, even if my pain was dark and bitter and I could not see hope ahead or a way out…well, He could.  To Him, it was clear as day…night might as well be day.  He saw past the darkness, He could see everything and understood everything.

More words came into my head and comforted me.

I have many friends and family members.  At times though I had felt as if they didn’t understand who I really was on the inside.  Everyone thought I was a little ray of sunshine.  I tried to be happy and friendly with everyone.  I had tried for those past two years to conceal the pain of essentially being bullied and tormented.  I had tried to laugh it off, to make light of it, to pretend I was not bothered by the cruel words uttered against me.  As I mentioned, I had felt all alone because there did not seem to be anyone I could turn to for help with this challenge.  The words that came into my head again in a loud and reassuring tone were these:

My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret. When I was woven in the depths of the earth.  

Your eyes even saw me as an embryo.  All its parts were written in your book.  Regarding the days when they were formed before any of them existed.

To feel all alone, to feel as if there was nobody that really understood me or could help me with this challenge…how wrong I was!  From the moment I was conceived He knew I existed.  Nothing has escaped his notice.  He knows every detail of my mind and the depths of my heart.  There I was alone in hospital, but now I knew I was not alone!  I was now infused with the peace and calm and power I needed to face the future.

It gave me the courage to face with calmness everything I needed to do.  I rang our Mandy, who was the only family member I thought could see me with my injuries without sobbing.  Mandy is one tough cookie.  She jumped in the car and came straight down to London.  She did cry when she saw me, but she managed to control herself as she saw that I needed calm.  Together we rang a close friend of mine who was of great influence.  He promised to look after all of my arrangements in London.

All of these beautiful expressions, which were penned around 3000 years ago, were evidence to me that we were never intended to have an isolated existence.  Being on your own is good for you at times, but feeling all alone is not good…it is not what we were designed for.  We thrive on love – showing love and knowing we are loved.  To me these special words breathe love and deep personal interest.

To sum up the effect of these words, I would like to share my quote for today.  If you ever feel all alone.  Isolated, with a challenge that is beyond your ability to deal with.  If your heart is weighed down with grief or anxiety and you cannot see any light ahead.  The quote, the 2,700 year old famous words that empowered me like never before were these:

Do not be afraid. I…will help you.

And He did!  Every step!

__________________

Many of us are very sad at the news that First Fridays, Daily Prompt and The Community Pool are no more to be…We are all hoping there will be ways to keep the connections going.  Well one way appears to be challenges bloggers can nominate each other for.  So this post is Day Three of the Three Day Challenge.

I was nominated for this audacious challenge by Mr Mark Anthony, as you can see from his post.  Thank you Mark Anthony…the nomination gave me some ideas regarding more lessons in life that Caramel has indeed learned.  I am pleased to be able to share them on the Crushed Caramel site.

https://markanthonysthings.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/3-days-3-quote-challenge-day-1-1st-tag-be-inspire/?wref=pil&wref=pil

THE RULES:

• Thank the person who nominated you.

• Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).

• Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day.

“ Do not be afraid. I will help you.” 

CRUSHED CARAMEL (LEARNER AT LOVE) – DAY THREE OF THE THREE DAY – THREE QUOTE CHALLENGE

 

My nominees :

https://pepperedwithstories.com

https://gratefulsinglemoms.com

https://mylifes810015070.wordpress.com

I love looking at your posts and appreciate all of your support and encouragement.

I hope you enjoy this challenge as much as I have.  Maybe you will have something fun, wise or inspirational to you that you can share with us.

As for my own posts…well I promise you for the rest of the week they will be much more light-hearted!  I don’t want you to worry…we will come back to this subject at a much later date.