Is There A Recipe To Recovery?

Is there a secret recipe to help you sail through challenges and emerge from the storm victorious and stronger? You may hear or read the advice and experiences of others. It might be very helpful, but some of it might not be helpful. To a large extent, that all depends on who “you” really are. The inner you. The person you want to be.

It’s all very well for me to say, I climbed this mountain, I OVERCAME REJECTION and other challenges. It might even possibly inspire others. But the exact steps that I took, the exact conditions I faced – it’s not possible to replicate. However – do take courage – if you feel overwhelmed. Your view of your situation may change dramatically.

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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

This post is my final part of what has turned out to be a five part series (I was not intending that when I began!)

Be Prepared

On My Way To Burnout

The Teasing Turns Treacherous

Getting Back On My Feet

Puzzled blonde two females stand close to each other, curve lipsI have some wonderful close friends who have been very supportive. They are aware of the challenges I faced. They know what happened to me in the park that night. They have helped me enormously to settle back into London. I have received all sorts of advice – some of it helpful, some if it not so helpful. But there have been others who have treated me coldly when I have crossed paths with them at events. Should I need to explain to them what happened to me to elicit warmth and kindness from them? Not really. I believe humans ought to treat others with respect, dignity and fellow-feeling.

What has helped me to OVERCOME REJECTION? I am not sure I have completely overcome the challenges I faced. I heard a whole load of advice from counsellors and well-meaning people that didn’t help me. Annoying cliches that sound alright, but when you are stuck in a pit that doesn’t seem to have any steps to help you climb out…cliches, “one-liners”, quick fix advice from people who think they can relate to you – it’s infuriating at times!

annie sad1

All I could do was wake up in the morning, and get myself out of bed. Have a shower. Make coffee and eat some breakfast. Push myself to do something. Housework, reading, learning Chinese, baking or writing a letter. Whether there was any direct point to what I was doing just did not matter. It all helped in some way. Setting myself small goals and feeling some satisfaction. Finding ways to give to others, express kindness – it provided a rewarding feeling. It did help me to be working. Sometimes I was treated abusively by a customer or patient, but there was also a lot of satisfaction from knowing I could help others. But for at least two years after I was attacked, I still felt I was just going through the motions.

I had a lot of challenges around men. Men made me nervous. I also felt myself becoming easily provoked and angry towards men. I had a few very intimidating situations where I felt threatened by strangers. I couldn’t tell if I was being over-sensitive. A friend who was very supportive expressed his love for me. But it was too early. I was not comfortable with him trying to touch me. I REJECTED his advances even though I cared for him. Another man who had known me for years treated me like a princess. I tried hard to respond to his interest. But his ideas were too erotic. I was not ready for that kind of relationship.

IMG_20180722_123051 (2)Then twenty-eight months after I was attacked…I met Goldfinch. I know I have written a lot about him. I have some wonderful comments from other bloggers who have read my posts…and a few kind of acrid comments which I just chose to ignore. The thing is, no matter what anybody else thinks, Goldfinch will always be sacred to me. I went from being terrified of men, to feeling there was no better place on earth than being safe in his arms. He has been wonderful for me. He has helped me heal in ways you cannot imagine. The excitement, the joy, the desire…he has been like a rescuer. He is somebody I never want to lose. After all of his loving kindness to me – he is going to remain close to my heart always!

looking up at cloudsDuring the last three years, gradually lots of things have healed. I can’t pinpoint exactly when, probably it was just a slow accumulation – but I lost that sense of just mechanically going through the motions. Life was no longer just breathe, sleep, wake up, get out of bed, shower, dress, coffee, breakfast, do something, do anything, just do something. Gradually life has become more and more and more satisfying and special – like it always was before. I have become busier and busier – but it’s been good busy. My enthusiasm levels, my energy levels, my appetite for life have all increased.

I am aware of when I need rest. I have weak points I didn’t have before. Aggression, from men in particular, causes me to prickle like a hedgehog or porcupine. If I feel threatened by a man, my response may be erratic. But those occasions are rare.

Woman hands typing on laptop keyboard on abstract blurred bokeh of city night light background. Focus in the foreground.I am so grateful to my family, my close friends, and to gorgeous Goldfinch. I am grateful to the friendly bloggers who I have interacted with during the eighteen months I have been blogging – blogging has been very helpful to me, to help me keep my mind focused on who I really am. It is helpful to think over things and express myself without worrying I am going to receive some kind of dodgy counselling after I have poured my heart out. I can decide when I want to think and write about something difficult. I can do so at my own pace.

careful1I am grateful for the new friends I have made at work who were great company and with whom I have enjoyed “surface relationships” with – I needed some light-hearted, easy-going chit chat about nothing especially important, but just to be able to make each other laugh (my new friends have not known about my high-profile life where I travelled extensively and worked with thousands of people, nor of the challenges I faced). I don’t need to tell everyone about those challenges.

happyDuring the last three years, I have gone from surviving each day…to thriving each day. Recently I received some feedback when I was working on a project. My supervisors don’t know anything about the challenges I have faced in the past. But they said I am gregarious and have an infectious joy for life and enthusiasm for every task I undertake. They say I make other people feel better and make the working environment a pleasure for everyone. It’s really really encouraging to be given that kind of appraisal of your personality. It means so much, because I had to fight to keep myself from sinking into dark places emotionally.

Positive feedback is like sunshine! Some of the comments from other bloggers have been so exceptionally encouraging. I treasure those lovely words and the bloggers who took the time to write those comments.

i cant drawIt’s really hard for me to give you a list of tips based on my own experiences, and to say they will work for you. I don’t believe there is an exact “recipe for recovery” you can follow and expect the same results as someone else. My life is not the same as yours. For a long time, you might be very raw, very fearful of more REJECTION or other challenges. I found a lot of the cliches I heard when I was at my lowest infuriating. That woman who kept on saying my life is like a book, and as one chapter was ending another was beginning…I wanted to tell her to burn her stinking book! I was so provoked by being told clouds had silver linings, and everything happens for a reason. Those little cliched one-liners – when you are having a good day, they make so much sense. On a bad day, they can be be very irritating and seem to belittle you.

woman cryingSome things kind of helped. The advice to “just take one day at a time” took the pressure off me. But it didn’t seem to help me make steps in the direction I actually wanted to go in. Just because I could get from sunrise to sunset without breaking down in tears – that was not such a major victory to me, even if they thought it was. I read an article I loved at one stage. It was all about the miracle of crying. It still feels good to let myself have a little cry at times. It’s not often nowadays, but when I was writing these posts, I found emotion built up in me. I cried. And it felt really good.

ready for rhtaSome people may try to say things along the lines of “just keep smiling”, or “stay positive”. Very well-meaning advice. But I feel that if you have had a traumatic, distressing, overwhelming experience in your life – you are allowed to have your moody moments. It is alright to cry! Oh my goodness, don’t repress than pain. Overcoming challenges doesn’t mean you have to be always jumping for joy and breaking out into song. It is alright to say to a friend, “look, I don’t want to be a negative person or for people to think I am a moaner, a grumbler, an everlasting sob-story…but today, I need to say that I feel like crying and trying karate on every man who looks at me.” You might have to pick the right person, who will let you have your occasional grumble, or you might have to set up a WordPress account where you can let your grumbles out.

loyalIt is good for you to consider the challenges others have been through (when you are ready). Sometimes, it’s easy to become locked into your own trials. Nobody else has quite walked in your shoes, down your path. But being aware that others have had very stressful situations that threatened their emotional health and robbed them of joy, hearing how they have gradually healed and become better able to deal with the damage done to them – it might not help you the day you hear it (or read about it), but it might help you in the future. When you hear or read about how others have faced REJECTION – it can be helpful to realize “it’s not just me.”

cliche.jpgA phrase I heard when I was a little girl, long before it ever really meant anything is “DON’T LET CHALLENGES MAKE YOU BITTER, LET THEM MAKE YOU BETTER.” Much as I am not a fan of cliches, I consciously chose that I did not want to lose “me”, because of the difficulties I faced. I have always been a happy, joyful, kind and loving person – like my parents. Why should I lose that? Nor did I believe in the shame and blame game.

I felt that no one person was responsible for my trials. Certainly not Jack. I knew that. Neither could I blame any one individual for the furore around my personal life. It’s a strange phenomenon of modern internet usage. People give their opinionated opinions freely without any thought of the damage they can cause. Some people forget that cruelty is cruel, and it can wreak havoc on somebody else’s life. I realized that I was never going to receive apologies from all the people who said cruel things about me. They probably have long forgotten the fuss that was made when Jack Barnes moved in with a tall curvaceous caramel blonde.

exhaThe situation I faced was not fair, and it wasn’t right. But I was not going to let it cause me to become a people-hater, or a mistruster. I love people! People are wonderful! Life would be miserable without other people to enrich it, to eat and laugh and dance and sometimes cry with. Especially the kind of people I was working with. But you know what – they are imperfect. Just like me. They go through trials. All sorts of trials.

Jack’s mum had cancer while I was living with him (I didn’t know that at the time.) One of those lads who used to tease Jack about me and make comments that Jack was a voyeur and I was throwing myself at Jack, well I tried to talk to him about it and asked him to stop. Oh he was so apologetic and upset that he was actually hurting me. Jack told me off later. I didn’t know that the young lads mum was in a hospice due to cancer.

basic phoneThe situation I faced made me reluctant to ever use a smartphone again. I have REJECTED smartphones and social media. But I don’t miss out. I have had a basic old-fashioned phone that does not connect to the internet. I have tried to avoid giving out my landline number or the basic mobile phone I carry for emergencies mainly. I don’t have any desire to use Whatsapp, Instagram or any other ways to keep connected with the thousands of people who used to be in contact with me. I have a smaller circle of people I keep regular contact with nowadays. But I have a very big heart. That has not changed at all.

We are all learning. We all say things at times that cause damage. We REJECT things and sometimes people for reasons that may seem valid. I REJECTED two marriage proposals and many men who asked me out because I didn’t want that. I REJECTED that counsellor who I thought was unprofessional to say the least. Did he go home feeling humiliated? I didn’t want to ruin his day, or rob him of self-esteem – I just could no longer cope with all these strangers “counselling” me with unhelpful nonsense.

strong man pose (2)We have to have a certain amount of resilience in the face of REJECTION. It’s not always personal. All those REJECTED job applications – they didn’t know me. They had no idea what I had been through and that every REJECTION was a potential knock to my crumbly confidence.

All the people who made degraded comments about me. Some of them may not have thought I would ever see those comments. They may have got carried away with what they thought was a bit of a joke, a tease. I am not going to let what happened make me a people-hater, hungry for vengeance or vindication.

countsyNot everyone has to be our best friend. Some people might really warm to us, others not so much. We don’t all have the same sense of style, interests, beliefs or sense of humour. But that’s no reason to go round viewing people as enemies. In fact, if I thought people thought I was unlikable, well, it would just make me want to be even nicer to everyone I came into contact with. If people are just outrightly unpleasant, I still take pleasure in being a nice person, who bears no ill-feeling or malice.

However…we all have a right to some respect. If people are slandering us, spreading malicious rumours, degrading insults – that is a valid reason to feel hurt. Retaliation is not a great idea, in my opinion. But there are usually ways to report what is happening. I should have gone to my superiors and told them what was happening. I showed them the records I kept after I was attacked. I wish I had shown them before. My superiors were angry with Jack. I could have damaged his reputation and career as a volunteer. But I pleaded with them. I made every excuse for Jack that I could think of. I said he was stressed and the situation had grown beyond his control.

chris and annie eatingThe situation I went through left me shattered, lost, fearful and hurt. But I had something precious – peace of mind and a clean conscience. The threat to my peace was the belief that Jack (who I thought the world of) hated me and would be forever hostile to me. We used to be great friends. Then it all went terribly wrong. I could not make sense of any of it. But I knew that I had warm feelings toward him. I also knew that I had REJECTED opportunities to take a swipe at him and damage his reputation.

annie disappointedBut there did not seem to be anything I could do about it. I just had to keep breathing – even when I wanted to close my eyes and never wake up again. I had to keep living and hope that my life would go on becoming better and more meaningful. Life is enriched by the wonderful people you interact with. But when you have been damaged, people can unwittingly become very hazardous. When you have been hurt, everything is raw. People may have no idea that their conversation, attitude or behavior are pushing you to the point of crying/walking out/wanting to go and find a bridge to jump off.

So at those times, it is helpful to have some sort of strategy. I found ways to acquire some instant relief – a text to my sister who almost always called me back instantly, seeking a deep sofa in a coffee house and sipping the most indulgent hot chocolate on the menu, buying myself a new scarf or pair of earrings. None of those things actually solved my situation, but they were some small solace at a time intense pain had rushed over me and made me want sit down in the middle of the pavement and tell life and the whole world that I was on strike! But life is a precious precious gift and life can give you some lovely surprises. Your view of your situation can change drastically.

annie reading1I also found prayer incredibly helpful. I know that some don’t believe in a Creator, but I do. In fact, meditating on how our Creator has been a victim of slander and malicious lies for thousands of years, was extremely helpful to me. I often thought about how He must have felt by the hurtful vicious words of others, the accusations, the slurs on his name and reputation. I thought about how He had reacted. Incredible patience and love. I wanted to be like Him. When I read passages about other people in the scriptures who faced REJECTION, Abel, Enoch, Noah and the list goes on and on, I realized – there have been some wonderful people who have been REJECTED. But they certainly were not REJECTED by their Creator. He treasured them and was very aware of their challenges. While they lived and faced hostility from others, they had the friendship of the Sovereign of the Universe. The One who knew their every thought since they were conceived. How He must have longed change their situation. In the future, they are sure to be fully rewarded.

struggling1I sometimes read what people say about others who have caused them challenges. They refer to former friends (or family members) as “toxic”. I have many workmates and acquaintances who label half of the people they know as “narcissists”. I just have to take their word for it, because I don’t personally know the people they are talking about. Everyone is different. I don’t feel comfortable labeling other people like that. In my view,  most people are damaged in some way, ways I may not ever understand. I have enormous empathy for the challenges every human faces to be the best person they can.

flowers.jpgI have never agreed with the idea “this is who I am, I can’t change me”. I have been WORKING ON ME since I was a little girl. Always trying to be someone who makes my parents glad they invested so much love in me. I want to be a ray of sunshine to others. I want to be kind and sweet. I want to be helpful and patient. I want to be eloquent and respectful. I want to be upbuilding, forgiving, empathetic. It makes me feel much much happier as a person. The experiences I have had mean I am more guarded in some ways, but I am not generally distrustful of people. I am just a bit more careful. Especially careful not to expose the more vulnerable parts of me that could be easily hurt.

annabelle finale.jpgI didn’t want what had happened to sour my view of people. So there is a lot I have willingly chosen to look over. I have let go of anger towards any individuals. The memory of the situation I faced is upsetting, but I don’t want to feel I have enemies. I knew resentment would damage me more than anyone else. I am not someone who wants revenge. Of course I wish there was a way for all of the damage to be undone, all the horrible things that were said about me. It still causes me some anxiety that the people I admire think awful things of me. But I realized I would need to be patient.

made up.jpgI realized some time ago, that if it was the purpose of a small number of individuals to make me unhappy or feel worthless (and a whole load of others had just got carried away with what they thought was funny), well, it turns out that I came off the winner. Because I am very happy and very proud of the woman I am. I love that I am soft, sweet, mild and a joy to be around. I am very secure in the fact that people said things that were a million miles away from the truth about me. Of course it’s upsetting that some people thought that some of what was said was true. But all I can do is go on living the kind of life I have always led, go on being the person I have always wanted to be – but be even better than before. The knowledge I have of myself affects me more than the lack of knowledge others have of me.

annie bed2I choose to be a lovely person. Nobody is going to take that away from me. If after the mistreatment of others, I had lost the qualities I prize and aspire to, I would consider that a huge loss. I don’t want to be less kind, less sweet, less forgiving. I feel good about who I am, the inner me, with a peaceful joyful heart. I have become wiser to those who characters who think cruelty is a sport. But at the end of the day…people who are deliberately nasty – they will suffer the most. Who is it that will inherit the earth? The meek, the peacemakers, those who love what is good, love kindness and wait for the One who can see all things perfectly.

Yet Jack and I – the painful estrangement was very hard to bear. I am sure I have published posts when I described some of my agony over the loss of Jack’s friendship. I was aware of the passing of time and felt that with every day, week, month, year that slipped by, my chances of a reconciliation were diminished.

memories1.pngOut of the blue – something extraordinary happened recently. It has felt very much like a miracle. If you have reading my posts, you will know that a couple of months ago, Jack phoned me. After over four years of silence, he made contact. Initially he was very sweet. He said some nice things about me and the work I had done. He knew of a project I have been working on recently and the things that were said about my attitude to work and the spirit I bring to projects. He reminisced over past projects we worked on. Then he began to talk about his regret over the past. It’s kind of personal what we said to each other at that point. There were a few moments in that phone call, when I wanted to hang up on him to be honest. The more I listened, the more I could empathise with him. I might possibly write more in the future about what Jack said he thought was happening back then.

2020 togetherI kept my focus on what I had always hoped (but doubted) Jack and I could recover – peace. JUST PEACE. (I would love to have peace with those people who said things about me that were untrue and damaging – but most of them I never knew.) I realized this was the opportunity I had been waiting for and I ought not be too sensitive. He also wanted peace. He expressed great concern for what I had been through.

estrangementNot everything was resolved in that telephone conversation. But he called again, and during the second conversation we had, he said he would like to sit down and talk things over. I will admit, I was reluctant. It seemed overwhelming to be in the same room as someone I was fearful of. (Not fearful for my physical safety, but his ability to effect my emotions profoundly.) It was my idea to have a walk somewhere, rather than being entrapped in a room. Plus I didn’t want to be seen by people who knew us – we couldn’t meet near either of our homes, nor anywhere too public because he is so often recognised. So we went for a walk in a huge London park which has a lot of woodland. Somehow…after talking for some time face to face, he felt inclined to reach for my hand.

And the rest is history. Two months of wonderful have ensued.

cuppleyIt’s hard for me to think too far ahead. I am very happy. Very relieved. Peace is on full-flow in my heart right now. Yet…I am still vulnerable. What will happen when we tell our family and friends? (Some of whom told me Jack was “toxic” or “a narcissist” and said that I should cut him out of my life?) What will happen when we go public and those same fans of Jacks, who trolled me years ago find out that we are now together as a couple? Frankly…I am terrified! I am so scared that it still has the potential to affect my happiness. Jack and I have discussed this frequently. We have both agreed to just focus on WORKING ON US, before we share our relationship with those we love.

Internal wounds have been healing nicely. But I am still “damaged” in other ways. My head injuries still cause challenges. Jack has seen my have blackouts twice in the past couple of months. He has had to take me off to hospital and wait patiently while I was checked over.

fun and gamesI am no supermodel! But I am content with myself. I don’t sulk over what I cannot change without drastic plastic surgery. I don’t want to see photos of myself (when I am with Jack) on social media and for people to say they think I am ugly, fat or miserable looking. I am going to have to ask my friends not to draw it to my attention if that’s what happens. Because there is a limit to what Jack can do. We live in a climate where sadly, some people will make very unkind comments about people they do not know. They don’t know the challenges I have faced and how much I suffered due to how overwhelmed I was in the past.

events1But this time…I won’t be on my own. Jack has pledged to be supportive. I hope my family and friends will be mindful of the challenges that being with Jack may bring. Yes I am happy because I am finally able to love the man I always did love. But “celebrity” has a very ugly side to it. Yet because I love Jack, I am making the choice to be prepared for the possibility of REJECTION by people who follow Jack’s life and work.

This has turned out to be another really long post! But I want to conclude this saga. I just want to say that we are all different. We all face different challenges and we might deal with them differently. But what has helped me is asking who am I as a person? Who do I want to be? Am I prepared to allow REJECTION from other people make me less of the person I want to be? I want to be happy, joyful, loving and kind. So if other people REJECT me for those precious qualities that I daily seek to display – well…I am not going to be overly concerned about that.

silent murmursHowever, I will always be mindful that there are people walking round who are damaged. Their emotions might be so raw, they might have a huge internal battle because of the hurt inflicted on them. So if they say something that feels like REJECTION, I am not going to be oversensitive. Everyone has challenges! And when you are in the grip of challenges, you might say and do things that would normally be unthinkable to you. Like the vicious dog, who has been neglected, badly mistreated and abused by it’s owner, they may just be still traumatised by what they have been through. I have OVERCOME REJECTION, as far as in I have not let it change the wonderful person my parents worked so hard to shape and I am delighted with. I am still me! Wonderful me! Despite REJECTION from others who did not see the person I was trying to be.

wed (2)Healing is wonderful…and it is most effective with a lot of love, patience, kindness and mildness. After what I have experienced myself, I am more determined than ever to be loving, kind and forgiving. Nobody is going to rob me of my joy in life that comes from loving others as I would like them to love me.

That’s my choice, because that is who I am. Somebody else may have dealt with those challenges differently. But I am a person who cannot bear the thought of hurting someone else. So I had to overcome the challenges I faced in a way that meant that I was still me.

Despite a bumpy, rocky journey…I am me! And I have peace in my heart, and with the man I once thought had REJECTED me and influenced others to REJECT me. That’s what I was always longing for! Life tastes so much sweeter when you are at peace, when you love people, forgive their bad days, and you take pride in being someone who males life sweeter for others.

 

 

Getting Back On My Feet

annie blackwoodWe all face challenges in life. We learn, we grow, we are better for it, we share our experience to help and inspire others. Most of those challenges are just a little bigger than other challenges we have faced before. But sometimes we face challenges so enormous they knock us flat. They may seem to change the course of our life and who we are as a person.

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

In what has turned out to be a three four five part series, I have been responding to Beckie’s chosen theme for this week. It turns out I have had quite a lot to say about the subject of “REJECTION”. These previous posts explain the challenges I faced:

Be Prepared

On My Way To Burnout

The Teasing Turns Treacherous

This post is going to concentrate on how I overcame the challenge of REJECTION. But first of all, I will explain what it is that forced me to face just how overwhelmed I was with a situation that had drained me.

not speakingJack and I were still living in the same block of apartments (but in different apartments). He and I were estranged. Looks, glares, grimaces were all we exchanged. When I looked at him, I just felt pain. I was convinced he hated me and had caused others to shun me. One night I was out with friends, and I did not want to go home. I had seen Jack four times that day already, including just before I left the flat to meet my friends.

I REJECTED the offer of a lift home from a friend who had a car. Instead, I walked to a nearby park. It was the middle of the summer, so it was still light. It was 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.

AmbulanceI choose not to write about the details of what happened that night, but it was bad! No woman (or a man of course) should ever be terrified in that way. It’s a horrendous violation of you as a person. Awful awful awful. I still remember the blows to my head that came before my next memory. Waking up in an ambulance the next day. That first day in hospital was horrible. So many people asking me questions about what had happened. All I wanted to do was sleep and cry and sleep. But I didn’t feel as if they would let me. Questions questions questions.

I have already a number of posts about the strangeness of that week. I don’t want to relive it all now. I was so frightened. I felt I could not go back to my home in London. I couldn’t go back to the situation that had been causing me so much stress. Instead I fled. My sister helped me. I left hospital and we drove straight up to the north of England.

too much (2).jpgI hate to remember the messages I was receiving on my phone. People did not know what had happened to me of course. They would never have sent those horrible messages if they knew, I am sure of that. I ended up turning my phone off.

I had access to counselling services. My sister thought it would be very helpful to avail myself of these provisions. It was ok. I was in shock. There was one young woman who was easy to talk to. But she couldn’t come all of the time. Some of the others who came were really provoking. They all agreed very quickly that I was still more upset about the “bullying” (that’s what they called it, although I had never thought of it that way before) than I was about being raped and beaten up.

chapter.jpgOne woman kept on saying to me, “life is like a book, you finish one chapter and start a new one”. She wanted me to make new goals, go to university, get married, have children, become a rocket scientist – it didn’t matter what – she just wanted me to accept that a part of my life had ended and I had a lot to look forward to. There was another woman who kept on telling me every cloud has a silver lining, that everything happens for a reason, and that I should view what had happened as an opportunity for something exciting.

what!.jpgThere was a counsellor who seemed obsessed with “karma”. Am I allowed to confess that I had an unusual desire to throw my lemonade all over her? Would that have been karma paying her back for talking so much nonsense? Then there was the guy who just kept on going on about cavemen. What ever I said, his response was, “well, when you think about cavemen…”, which frankly was baffling. I REJECTED all this shallow meaningless advice which was not helpful to me at all.

Cup Of TeaThe last counsellor who ever came to my sister’s home really provoked me. He came very late. His first words were that the morning had been hectic for him, meaning he had not had chance to read my notes. But I couldn’t help but notice that he had clearly found the time to have at least one cigarette. He reeked of tobacco. He walked in with muddy boots on. My sister had cream carpets. I asked him to remove his shoes (it’s a house rule – everyone else did it automatically). He said to me “I prefer to keep them on, if you don’t mind.” He walked into the cream carpeted living room (leaving a trail of mud, and commented that the pale colour of the carpets was impractical) and sat down on the sofa, asking if I could put the cat out because he was allergic to cats. Then he told me “tea with milk and two sugars”.

Smoke rising from a cigarette in an ashtrayAfter fetching a drink for him, I sat down on the other sofa. After taking a huge gulp (I also had to point out to him the coasters, as he had placed the china mug straight onto the wooden table beside him), he asked me, “On a scale of one to ten how much do you want to kill yourself?” My instant response was something along the lines of, “You come into this house stinking of tobacco and you ask me a question like that? You are the one who clearly have no respect for the precious gift of life.” After I evicted him from my sister’s home, I rang the counselling services administrator and asked them not to send anyone else ever again. I was fuming. Mate! You should have read my case notes. I REJECTED services which had the potential to be very helpful to me. A good counsellor is a treasure. A bad counsellor has the potential to frighten you away from supportive services.

cen.jpgThat year was tough. I had my family, which is great really. I can’t bear the thought of some people facing huge trials without a supportive family. Nonetheless, it was a year of frustration for many reasons. I was moving around to stay with different family members, because I didn’t want to become a burden to anyone. After three months, I felt bad that my family were supporting me. I went to the local Job Center and explained I would like to find a part-time job, maybe just a few hours a week, to be able to contribute something to my family.

All they wanted to do was to sign me up for benefits from the government. It was explained to me that really to get their help to find a job I need to go through “the system”. Their priority was getting me to fill out a bunch of forms to get some money paid to me and then I would be assigned an advisor to help me find work. When did it become so complicated? Anyway…I did what they said.

illI had some further complications after my head injuries. I was in and out of hospital repeatedly. My brain kept on forgetting the importance of breathing. I had repeated blackouts and falls. When I was out of hospital, I was also using the internet to try to find work. Most of the part time jobs I applied for online, I never heard back from. My applications were ignored or REJECTED. It was disheartening.

One I applied for replied immediately. It took me an hour to get to the site by bus. On entering the building, two security guards searched me and removed my handbag which would be locked away until after the interview was over. I was incredibly nervous. It was one of the experiences I had which made me realize how raw my nerves were and easily overwhelmed I could become bu situations I found threatening. These men were rather rough and ready.

nopeI went in to what turned out to be a group interview. The guy made the place sound like a farm – with us as the animals. No, that is not really fair. I am sure farmers would treat their animals better. Amongst other things, he said that toilet breaks are not allowed during your shift. I sat there mortified at what I was hearing. I raised my hand and asked something along the lines of “if toilet breaks are not allowed – are we just to stand there and wet ourselves? Is there a clean-up team who might assist in cases of bladder weakness and the resultant yellow puddles beneath our feet?” At the end of the interview, he told me that it was obvious I was a princess and that this place was not for me. In this case it was a REJECTION I was relieved about!

tiredWhen I was eventually appointed an advisor to help me find work (which was roughly eight months after I was attacked), the guy did not seem to comprehend the term “part-time”. I explained I had not worked for eight months, and that before that I had been the victim of a crime. He just kept saying work would be good for me. I kept on insisting I needed to build up. I didn’t want to end up in a job that left me completely exhausted. I just wanted to contribute to the household expenses for my family. He wanted to help me draw up a CV/resume. I already had a stunning CV. I showed him my CV, my references and explained the long list of skills I had. He said there was nothing he could do to to help me. His role was usually helping people write down lists of usable work experience and put together a CV – tasks I was perfectly capable of myself. I had already applied for around three hundred jobs throughout the North West of England by that point. The lack response was demoralising. He referred me to another agency.

Weeks later I had my first appointment with them. Hopeless! I ended up with a full-time job offer in a hard-to-reach part of Manchester. It would have taken me two and a half hours to travel there by public transport. I was so disheartened. I found myself a job in London. A live-in housekeeper job. The advert said they only needed ten hours cleaning a week.

Well…that turned out to be another challenge. I wrote a series of posts about the difficulties I had there. Amongst which were my boss exposing himself to me, repeatedly making inappropriate physical contact with me, making suggestive comments, name-calling, body shaming…I gave my noticed in after two weeks. I have never wanted to REJECT what someone was offering me more in my life!!!

I was able to find another part-time live-in housekeeper job. But they were unrealistic about the amount of work to do. It was far more hours than I was capable of at that time. I was working sixty hours a week for them (they had advertised the role as twenty hours a week). I had an accident at work, my head was injured. My face became badly bruised. I had to go to hospital. When I was discharged they told me I should take a few weeks off work. The family really needed a house-keeper. So I left, fleeing to the north of England again, bitterly disappointed that my attempt to get “back-on-my-feet” had failed.

flat1.jpgI kept on applying for work and trying to find accomodation in London. Amazingly, I was recommended to my current landlords. Here I am three years later in a beautiful home, in a very expensive part of London. I feel safe. Two huge gates hide my front door from the rest of the world. I work part-time for money and the rest of the time I have been able to slowly increase the time I spend as an unpaid volunteer working for charities. My physical circumstances have improved. The number of times I have had to go to hospital due to breathing difficulties and bruising all over my face has decreased.

annabelle9 (2)I have been fearful though. The REJECTION I faced from Jack and my peers had a huge effect on the inner me. The effect on my emotions and feelings was immense. I was in danger of losing “me”. I was fearful of what people thought of me, what they were saying about me. It did not take me long to realize that most people thought I had left London in shame. They thought I really had been having an affair with a married man. People have seen me and not been very nice to me. I have been in the same room as Jack and literally fled in fear because I couldn’t face seeing him.

However…the good news is: things have gradually got better. How have I been able to overcome some of the feelings I have had due to a challenge that felt like an enormous REJECTION of me as a person? The next part will explain how Caramel has been able to OVERCOME REJECTION.

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.

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.

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.)

 

Be Prepared

Be prepared! A three five part saga is in progress on CRUSHED CARAMEL. This is Part One!

on itYou have very likely seen the fascinating series hosted by Beckie, the creator of Beckie’s Mental Mess, entitled “WORKING ON US”. Each week she selects a theme and invites us all to participate by writing about the challenges we may have faced on that theme and how we have worked to overcome those challenges.

I have been reading the posts from other bloggers for some time with great admiration. But until now, I have not felt I had much to say on many of the themes. However, the theme that Beckie has chosen for this week really resonated with me. 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

If you have been reading my recent posts, you will know that I am a very happy girlie of late. Something amazing has happened in my life. Caramel is very cheery and content. Peace and joy have flooded into her heart. All is wonderful! But it was not always this way.

curveball.pngI am not so naive as to think I will never face painful challenges ever again. Having experienced painful rejection in the past, I am not going to set myself up for a crash that could to a crises. I am more aware of my weak points now, I know where I am vulnerable. I am going to be prepared for future disappointments, specifically when it comes to facing REJECTION. When life throws that particular curveball at me, I plan to be more prepared for it.

hindsight1In fact…when I first began writing posts on CRUSHED CARAMEL, I realized that this could be an avenue to talk about challenges in a way that I was fearful to burden anyone else with. I didn’t want to weigh down my friends and family. But somehow, an audience of complete strangers (often made up of those who have often had challenges to overcome themselves and write about what helped them to do so) seemed a safer and easier way to express what happened.

At the moment, the pain of the past seems so long ago. But right up until Jack made contact me, it was fresh, always just beneath the surface. In my case, when wounds heal, I forget the pain. Because all is wonderful at the moment, the memories that used to plague me have faded. But when life throws up painful challenges, sometimes that pain comes back full force.

sinkingLearning strategies to be prepared for a tsunami of painful, perhaps traumatic, memories that threaten to swallow you up, is so important. I have had to find ways to keep my head above water at times.

Since I began this post…I have realized that this could potentially become a very long post. I keep trying to shorten my posts, so I have decided to split this one up into a three parter. This is just the introduction. The other two posts will examine the challenges I faced on the theme of REJECTION, and then my own personal experience when it came to OVERCOMING REJECTION.

To give you a taster of what to expect, I found these posts that I wrote and have published on CRUSHED CARAMEL, during the eighteen months I have been blogging:

In One Word…

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

Storm’s Rollin’ In

I Think I Can Safely Say That Today Is Over

Hiding The Bruises

When Your Whole World Is Turned Upside Down

Stuffed PeppersI will publish this part now…and the other two parts will come as soon as I have time to work on them! Jack will be here soon. Yes…Jack! Isn’t it wonderful! I have stuffed peppers in the oven and some salad all made up. There is nothing naughty in my cupboards at the moment, so I have told him if he wants something naughty he can bring a pudding or some wine…or he has to be content with me!

2020 togetherI love him so much and I am so glad, so so glad that during the time I was hurting most, I managed to keep my painful feelings under control and held back from damaging Jack. He now knows the decisions I made to protect him, even though he had accidently hurt me. It would seem that he loves me for it. Although I am going to reexamine an emotionally intense period of my life, at the end of the day…that’s what matters most…love and peace. Everything else seems to be fading away for the most part.

Running Fearlessly Into The Fray

I will be so glad to finish this six day week of long long days at paid work. Still it will be a helpful boost to my bank balance. which will help me travel up and down to Wales, to see my family.

weekendI will be with Jack for three days. I hope we have some chance to stretch our legs and have some fresh air. We are going to be in a very pretty part of the country. I am so looking forward to it! And so glad to be with him again.

I have had lots of fears and concerns about what everyone will think of Jack and me, not just making peace, but trying to be a couple. Advice will come. Whether I ask for it or not!

I wouldn’t be doing this if it didn’t seem like a good thing. But I am aware of the challenges. I have already had a big taste of them in the past. The difference is, I was on my own back then, this time I am going to be with Jack when I deal with those challenges.

ready for rhtaI am a bit of a softie in some respects. I love people. So when five/six years ago I was called horrible names and became the target of slanderous slurs and insults, it did affect me. Most of that came from strangers. Some very upsetting accusations came from friends.

But what I found hardest is the way the people I admired and respected, people who I thought liked me, cooled towards me drastically. I have told Jack how much that knocked my confidence. I didn’t know who my friends were any more. Everyone seemed more worried about maintaining their friendship with Jack than me. Jack knows what a softie I am inside, how much I want to look at others with love. I have tried to explain how lost I feel at the thought of trying to restore all those friendships when they find out about Jack and me.

I want to run like a wild horse alongside him, fearlessly facing challenges, and this time…I don’t want those blows and those sharp arrows to slow me down. If strangers or “friends” start insulting, accusing, slandering me…I want Jack to help me this time. I wish I could ignore it all in some respects – but it is hard. It is hard to keep your smile when strangers make shocking statements about you.

 

Resistance Is Futile

resistence.jpgI have found the last few days a bit distressing reading about this Borg-like entity, apparently registered in India, that is assimilating all of our blogs. I am baffled by it all and very upset that it has caused some of my favourite bloggers to feel they need to close down their sites.

Blogging to me is just a bit of fun, a hobby, and it gives me the chance to think about my family and loved ones, and what I want them to remember if my head injuries wreak even more havoc on my life than they have already. But for those who are serious and talented writers and have works they need to protect, I understand the concern they have felt. It’s great to see Captain James T Fandango coming up with a way to wage battle against the borg-bots. Hold on wrong captain…I  mean Captain Jean-Luc Fandango don’t I?

bad reactionI am a bit late in response to lots of prompts, nominations for awards and writing challenges at the moment. But I am working on them. There is a lot going on in my drafts folder – I have fifty posts in progress!!! My philosophy is BETTER LATE THAN NEVER…but if you are looking out for my response to a nomination or tag, by all means give me a shout!

Some prompts I just cannot resist, like FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

What are the three biggest challenges your country (or, if you prefer, the world) is facing right now?

Well, I don’t think I can provide a detailed answer to that question, as it would cast a cloud over my otherwise sunny disposition. But amongst those challenges are these three:

  • more more.pngGREED
  • SELFISHNESS
  • HAUGHTINESS

I am going to spend a little longer considering the alternative question Fandango provided as this week’s FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

What are the three biggest challenges you are facing in your life right now?

Fandango asked us a similar question a few months ago and I appointed him as Doctor Fandango. If you would like to see how I answered back then, this was my post.

Dr Fandango Will See You Now

dr fandango.jpg

So what about now? What am I finding challenging now? Hmm…let me think about this. I have challenges like everyone else. Some little and some large. But I do find I have a great deal of resilience and pragmatism when it comes to my challenges. I don’t find myself overcome with anxiety about too many things on a personal level. What does get to me are things that I cannot control.

challengesONE OF MY CLOSE FAMILY MEMBERS IS VERY ILL. Cancer. I am not writing in detail about it at the moment, because it would no doubt lead to a torrential outpouring of emotions, and it’s all a bit overwhelming right now.

What doesn’t help perhaps, is that so many of my family, myself included, have worked in the medical field for years. Doctors, nurses and carers. I worked with patients with terminal illness for five years. So we are all so clued up on cancer, it is hard to resist worry!

up sticks.jpgBut I have been making decisions and changes to my life that mean I can be there for my family member more often, and can literally up sticks and move at a moment’s notice. I will write about the changes I have made at a later date. I have been a busy lady since I came back from Australia.

IMG_20180722_123051 (2)I AM MISSING GOLDFINCH. Aaaaagh! Matters of the heart. It is not easy to be in love with a man that lives on the opposite side of the planet to you.

Well, the loving is easy. It’s the thought of how long will it be until I can be with him again? I had such an amazing time in Australia. And I have come back to England more in love than ever and completely baffled as to how I am going to face months ahead without him.

self control.jpgLong distance relationships bring challenges that can be hard to understand. Challenges that I don’t think I have faced before. For example…when you are feeling low, wishing you had someone to offer comfort and affection, but the person you know you were wishing was here, is not here, nowhere near, 10,100 miles away – then the temptation to respond to the friendliness of someone else who is attractive to you is huge. Sigh! Especially when the person nearer to you seems so lovely and so kind and excites you….and you have no idea if you will see the person you are attached to this year or not. It is a great test of your self-control.

I will say this – I honestly believe that married couples who decide that economically it would be best for one to work or study abroad are putting themselves and their marriage at great risk.

When you are separated by distance from the person who claims your heart, but there is someone right here right now who makes you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside – it is hard to resist. I have resisted.

vols.jpgI AM STILL NOT WHERE I BELONG. I am still unable to go back to my life and career because of my head injuries. That is a cloud that doesn’t seem to want to shift. So I am still just making my way in the world today with everything I’ve got. Having a break from all my worries sure would mean a lot. I am always wishing to be back where everyone knows my name, was always glad I came and they all felt the same.

I crave a sense of purpose in my life. Existing without a cause is not an option for me. The work I was involved in as a volunteer provided inspiration, satisfaction and prompted tremendous energy in me. Oh how I long to be back there – alongside other people who are not interested in financial gain but are devoted to making a difference to the lives of others.

eventsThere is one man who prevents me from moving back to the area I was living in and working with more of my former colleagues who have decision making power over my future as an international volunteer. Jack. And nothing has changed on the Jack front. He is still there, right in the middle of all the volunteer projects on that side of London. He is one of the most popular volunteers. He still has a crazy amount of fans and followers. He is still on television and at huge events (and small events). I am still being careful and am anxious in case I am at the same event and somebody connects the two of us or snaps a photograph of us near to each other. I can’t abide photos of me in reference to Jack being spread again. Can I trust Jack will be able to resist returning to his thoughtless ways of fuelling the media interest he had because of his connection with me? It forces me to hide away and take pains to avoid him. Many an evening has gone pear-shaped because I realized Jack was present at an event and I had to beat a hasty retreat.

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therapyThank you Doctor Fandango for my blogging therapy session. I hope you received the cheque in the post for my last therapy session and look forward to receiving your invoice this time round.

I hope I am not giving you a headache reading all about my challenges. Challenges can be good for us, or not – depending on the challenge. But they sure do make you realize what really counts in life.

Whatever challenges you are dealing with currently, keep going! Keep positive, we are rooting for you. We all long for a world where the most painful challenges are removed, and instead we can get back to making this beautiful planet the paradise it should be. Roll on the good times ahead, when the greatest challenge will be: how on earth are we going to keep in touch with so many wonderful friends???

snoops

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This post was my response to this week’s FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #34

FPQ