The Rough And The Ready

Close-Up, Eye, Eyelashes, See, WomanLast Friday I was struggling. I was on edge all day. On the verge of panic. Unable to cope with all the multi-tasking I have to do at work. I became tearful at work when I thought of weeks more of this intense pace stretching out in front of us, without the chance to break away and go and visit Goldfinch in Australia. I wanted to run. I didn’t know who from or why. But I wanted to escape.

This is how I felt five years ago. I was cornered. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know who was safe, who I could trust. Friends and colleague were talking about me and Jack. I had no idea exactly who was saying what, except for those who blazenly taunted me to my face. Every aspect of my life was touched by the slanderous gossip, name-calling, accusations, undermining of me as a person and my sincerity or integrity.

Ambulance, Wear, Interior ViewYou know where it led me. I went to a park after a night out with friends because I did not want to go home. I was the victim of a crime that night and woke up the next morning in an ambulance.

But around a month before that night, I remember a small incident. I escaped my part of London and travelled to the other side of London for a social event. My sister Milly was there. I met some new people who had been working with her on a project. There were some deaf volunteers there too. Milly and I both learnt British Sign Language when we were teenagers.

I remember saying goodbye to Milly and her husband when they dropped me off at the train station. Somebody had given me a gift. Two bottles of wine, one red and one white, I recall. As I walked towards the train, the gift bag gave way and the wine bottle smashed on the concrete floor. There were glass and wine everywhere.

fdshhgdhsvMy main concern was that glass was a hazard to other people. I searched for a member of staff asking if they had any cleaning equipment to clear the glass. I would have done it myself. I asked if they had a hazard sign or cone or tape, to warn other people. The station employee said just to leave it and they would sort it out. I was so anxious. It was my fault. It was my fault there was dangerous glass on the station floor. It was hazardous to other members of the public. I wanted to fix it. I stood rooted to the spot, determined to be a warning to other people that there was broken glass and they must be careful. I became unreasonably emotional and ended up in tears.

It wasn’t really the glass that was upsetting me. It was the situation in my personal life that was overwhelming and was completely taking all the joy out of life. The effects of tiredness and stress can accumulate. If you become isolated with a challenge and do not know who to trust you can become desperate in your thinking. Its as if you are cornered, they are coming at you from all directions, you want to escape. I wanted to fix it. I was ready to accept some responsibility for the situation between Jack and I. But the relationship between us was so strained back then…he would not speak to me.

annie disappointedSo, when the wine bottles smashed, I just fell apart. You know the expression “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. I was in a flood of tears. I didn’t know what to do. A guy came over to ask if I was alright. When I explained I had dropped the bottles and now there was broken glass all over the floor, he responded by kicking the glass to the side of the wall (so it was less hazardous I suppose) and telling me not to worry, accidents happen.

Well…last week, those feelings were coming back. Every summer since I was attacked I have a rough few weeks. I have flashbacks of events from that night. But I also seem to relive all the stress and anguish that led me to go to the park that night. I had wondered if having made peace with Jack things might be different this year. They don’t seem to be. I am having waves of panic, sleepless nights, dreams recalling some of the most stressful situations I was in five years ago, those same feelings of being cornered, under attack, needing to escape.

I actually think I might be having a worse time so far this year. Perhaps that is because I am cut off from friends and family socially. Perhaps the accrual of tiredness because of work has made it hard. Normally my life is graced with variety. I am involved in different work, different projects, I work with different people, in different locations. The past few months have been the same…every day the same. The feeling of wanting to escape is growing.

Fear, Woman, StopAt the end of this month it will be five years since that night. It is still the night that took me away from my chosen career, my chosen home, my world, my purpose. It is still the night that left me with severe injuries, blackouts, headaches, nightmares and fear of whom I could trust.

People say such silly things. Someone said to me again the other day “everything happens for a reason”. If only I could sent fire to that expression. Do people think about what they are saying? It was also recommended to me that I focus on the positive and what I can do to help others. Yes yes, I know that having experienced a traumatic event myself and gone on to do marvellous things, I may be able to be of assistance, inspiration, a source of practical advice to someone else. I do realize that we learn things when we go through challenging experiences and we can develop precious qualities and we may be able to help others. But really!

The truth is my life has been like broken glass ever since that night. My life is in pieces. But I am a positive person and I do make the most of my situation. I keep going. I keep smiling. I keep singing.

Hooded Man, Mystery, Scary, Hood, HorrorBut still…it’s back again. The waves of panic, feeling cornered, feeling overpowered, under attack, nowhere to run to, noone to turn to, nobody to trust…it comes back. I ended up on my own at that park because for so long I had put a brave face on, I had kept going, kept working, kept smiling and kept singing until I shattered like broken glass.

The brain is powerful. The things that cause flashbacks are varied…the smell of grass, the smell of men, the warm weather, feeling dehydrated, feeling there are excessive demands on me.

When I was on my way home after work last Friday night there was a man walking towards me. He was carrying a grocery bag. As I neared him, his bag burst open and glass bottles of beer smashed onto the road and beer began running down the hill. It took my brain back to that night I dropped the wine bottles at the station just a few weeks before I was attacked.

I watched the guy. He shrugged and laughed and carried on walking.

jhvbdkjxhfbIs that what people want me to do I wonder? Shrug, laugh and carry on. These past couple of weeks have made me realize that despite it being five years, despite being busy, despite having the longed for peace with Jack, despite so much else that has happened on a positive note…the memories of despair and the memories of trauma are still there. They leap out at me from the shadows of my mind.

I think I am in for a rough few weeks.

 

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/

Dawn Of A Dream

The writing prompts or challenges from Teresa aka The Haunted Wordsmith are superb. There are some days when it is impossible for me to work on a post in response to them because I have so much work and running around to do, but the picture prompts especially play on my mind and give me so many ideas. I have a half an hour break and then I will be at work for another three hours. I am going to see how far I can get with Teresa’s picture prompt for today.

Sun, Water, Clouds, Mirroring

As soon as I saw this picture, the word that popped into my head was “DREAM”. Something about the hazy splendour of the scene that made me want to write something beautiful. Yet I found it hard to grasp. There was a misty-eyed thought in my mind, but it was so hard to distinguish and explain.

Which is sometimes very much like a dream. Either when you wake up and the dream that moments before felt like reality seems to fade as quickly as puffs of smoke. Or like the dreams in your heart that impelled you as a child, only to meet with harsh cold sober discouragement or disillusionment, as you found that the world doesn’t always make things easy for you.

Still, what are we without a dream, without an ideal? It might at times seem an indistinct, undefinable dream, but I am sure most of us have a sense of something that spurs us on. We know that things are not really as they should be. There is a lot that is not right. We long for a fairer, safer, happier world, one in which we would be glad to wake up in the morning and look forward to all that the day promises.

woman cryingAt times challenges seem beyond our control to surmount. Even when we try to be positive, content and grateful for all we have – there are times when the injustice of either our own situation or someone else’s is like a hard slap in the face. We can become gloomy or pessimistic or even simmer with despair.

I have fought to keep my focus on my dreams. My life as a full-time volunteer kept my life orbiting around my dream, my ideal. But waking up in an ambulance three years ago yanked me away from my chosen life and career. I have had to fight to keep my chin up and keep my eyes fixed on the dream. I don’t dream of being a movie star or an astronaut or an Olympic medal holder. I dream of a fairer, safer, happier world. I am determined to keep working towards that dream, that ideal, and do every little thing I can to make my dream come true.

paradiseSeeing Teresa’s picture prompt was a tingling reminder that I have a dream, and it is a wonderful one – a world free of fear, pain, injustice, cruelty, abuse, violence. A world where everyone opens their eyes glad to be alive and looking forward to all that the day promises. I am going to keep my focus on that dream until one day, dawn arrives and that dream has come true.

Now just to explain the song I have added below…I deliberated so long about a song that expressed the dream that I hold dear…but I think I realized “Imagine” by John Lennon was the closest…but I just was not keen for some reason. So instead I added a song that sums up the feeling of having your dreams crushed. Something too many people have experienced.

 

Now…although this is a beautiful song, it is desperately sad…I hope that for you and for me…we will keep our focus on wonderful dreams, wonderful ideals and do everything we can to make those dreams a beautiful reality, where desperately sad is no longer something we taste, but rather deep joy and satisfaction in life.

I have to head out again to work…but it was nice to use my break-time to dwell on my dreams.

 

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/daily-writing-challenge-26/