Will you stand with me here for a while?
What in the world is going on?
What is this world coming to?
Is this the end of the world?
Please hold me
Don’t let go
Tell me that everything is going to be alright
Will you stand with me here for a while?
What in the world is going on?
What is this world coming to?
Is this the end of the world?
Please hold me
Don’t let go
Tell me that everything is going to be alright
Can you see it in my eyes? I don’t think I am doing a very good job of hiding it at the moment. The sunglasses and the hats are my protection. They aid my disguise. I am still hiding, still running from a situation I never really learnt to deal with properly. It did overwhelm me. I escaped it when I went to a park and ended up fleeing London after the injuries I sustained that night.
I sometimes wonder if the reason why it still hurts me, even though it is over five years ago, is because I did not find a way to deal with it. Being the victim to a crime did remove me from the nightmare, but it wasn’t dealing with the cause of my distress. It just gave me a different set of challenges to deal with and overcome.
I overcame my physical injuries, my loss of joy, the knocks to my self-confidence. I managed to get back to paid work and unpaid voluntary work, to socialising with friends on a small scale and colleagues on a large scale. All good things.
But I never figured out a way to deal with being a subject of trivial gossip and slanderous rumours. So I still hide. The life, the home, the paid work I am involved in now feels like a temporary blip where I can hide, where I can pretend to live. It feels safe for the moment. But there is always that threat that they will find me and do what they did again. I still have no idea how I would deal with it if they did.
It’s hard to plan when the whole world seems to be shifting around you.
What will tomorrow bring? Nobody seems to know. Anxiety over the cloud brewing on the horizon. One storm after another comes battering. Waves of panic over a disease that seems to spread like wildfire and hunts down the most vulnerable. Billions of dollars disappear due to a lack of confidence about the future. Is it safe to go here? Is it safe to go there? Is it safe to shut ourselves away and hide?
It’s not just me. Everyone I speak to is uncertain. Everyone is wondering what will happen next? Will winter ever end? Will summer ever return? Will we be able to breathe a sigh of relief?
Will the travellers stop and ask for directions? I see them smiling calmly, quietly waiting for anyone that wishes to pause and ask questions or take something to read. I see them everyday, in every corner of London.
They are not afraid. Neither do they fear storm nor pestilence. They do not lack confidence. Their bright eyes and sincere smiles reassure me that I can plan for the future. I can plan to live. They inspire me, they fill me with hope. I cannot help be in awe of their resilience, their faith and their love in enduring all manner of obnoxious remarks.
I often wonder to myself, is it someone like me that makes it worthwhile to them? When I stop and tell them I think they are wonderful and pick up something to read during my lunch break. They are always there, in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Urdu and other languages I am sure.
I wrote this a couple of weeks ago…before that big night out with Jack – our first public event together as a couple.
I have had a lot of time to plan for my first official public outing with Jack. I have been watching what I eat for a while. I have been trying to walk everywhere instead of catching the bus. Jack has done a lot of walking with me too.
I am not overly obsessed with the way I look. So long as I am clean and tidy – I am happy. Somebody said to me many years ago, many people (he said especially women) are so concerned with the way they themselves look, they don’t pay all that much attention to the way you are looking. That is perhaps a bit debatable, but I realized that as a teenager, I spent most of my time worrying about the way I looked, rather than the way anyone else’s appearance, So, I told myself there is a lot of truth in what my friend said – and I should not become obsessive about the way I look.
But the thing is…being in public with Jack means something I hate! It means cameras! I hate seeing myself in photographs. That is why I have been being more strict with myself than usual.
Anyway…Jack has brought me tremendous peace of mind and joy of heart these past few months. I am sure all of that internal healing has been better for my complexion and confidence than any amount dieting or exercise.
So…in planning for our first public outing, all I needed was a dress. I love my friends…we have had fun trying things on me and one of my gorgeous friends lent me a sparkly dress (which I would probably never have looked at in a shop myself). But in the end I have chosen to wear a Ted Baker dress I found in a charity shop a while ago. It is more my thing, navy blue with gorgeous flowers on it. Nonetheless, I will sparkle in it! Wearing a beautiful dress is another helpful way to feel a bit less terrified!
I just hope I make Jack proud. That’s all that matters! It’s a huge deal in my head at the moment. In fact…I am so super scared, I think I am going to schedule this post to be published after the event. I can’t think about it at the moment. It’s all so daunting. I keep telling myself, just think of Jack, just enjoy being next to him.
It will be all be over after a few hours of smiling and chatting. Ugh! Here we go!
I have just a few weeks to prepare myself. After Christmas, we will go public. Until now we have been in hiding. It’s all been very “cloak-and-dagger”. He tells me where to wait for him. his car pulls over, I get in and then we are off.
We’ve walked on the beach late at night. That was the first time it got really romantic. But it was freezing. But he wouldn’t let go of me. We’ve walked in the woods in the dark. He has been recognised a few times. He says he is less in the limelight these days. But I saw him on television twice last month alone. He continues to balance the media with work he does for various charities. And he does it so well.
It’s just been he and I. Mostly in places he has hired. He will send me in to get the keys to our cottage or lodge because he is the one who will be recognised. Nobody would know Caramel on her own. He thought it was hilarious to leave a review on Trip Advisor about the a place we stayed in. I wish it could just be he and I alone forever. But it can’t. You can’t hide from those you love most. I am desperate to tell people I love. But as we both know, when you start to tell those you are close to, it does not take long for news to spread.
I am terrified that I am not going to be able to face the pressure that I know will come. I have been in a bubble of love with him. All these weeks of actually being glad that the nights were getting longer. Darkness has made it so much easier to hide.
He wants to tell his parents and his sister when he is with them during the holidays. He wants me to tell any family that I need to. My parents, my younger sisters. They need to be prepared. We both know what happens. He will of course be the focal point of everyone’s interest. I will just be that blonde on his arm.
I hate seeing myself in photographs you know. And they take them from such hideous angles. it is so invasive. It’s enough to give me a complex. But I have to do it for him. It’s his life you see. And he does it so well. He wants me by his side. He’s already mentioned a couple of events in the new year he wants me at. By his side.
The last couple of months have just been incredible. I have felt loved. That’s what we needed. We needed to be alone to work everything out. There wasn’t really that much to work out in the end. Just a lot of love. That’s all it needed. A chance to be together and let love do the rest. And he does it so so well. I did wonder at times as if there was a reason he held back. Well, now I know that if there was a reason, it was not any physical inadequacies. No shortage of love. Perhaps it is a good thing that we are getting our fill of the erotic variety before we face the opinions of others. I am hoping that’s all we will need to survive what everyone else thinks. I am going to try to block out everyone else’s comments.
It’s hard to believe still. over four years, believing he hated me. But he wants me by his side. I am terrified that I will let him down. If you notice photographs of a well know figure, handsome with greying hair, who is stepping out with a caramel haired woman on his arm – please know her heart is racing. She is terrified in every way. A miracle has happened and turned her life upside down.
She is not just a ditzy blonde wannabe. The two of them actually lived in the same flat for some time. They know each other well. They have been breaching a rift. They don’t want to let each other down again. The blonde on his arm is a woman who always said he was the love of her life, despite everything that happened. You might see her real name mentioned. But to you, she will always be Caramel. She has no idea if she is going to be able to continue writing her story. It’s taken a surprising twist these past few months which she never dreamed would take place.
What if it all goes wrong? At least now he and I have something wonderful to remember each other by.
When I saw the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore, at first I thought about the scariest things that have happened to me. That night in the park was above and beyond any other kind of scariness in my life.
However, the prompt is worded THE SCARIEST THING I’VE EVER DONE…which is a whole different kettle of fish isn’t it! Phew!!!
I don’t feel scared because of heights or the dark. But I have sometimes found some responsibilities I was assigned scary. Different assignments I have received were scary for different reasons. Sometimes I have just felt overwhelmed or completely inadequate by something I have been asked to do.
I think I felt a bit like that when I left home. It was scary! I was moving from an area that is relatively inexpensive to live, to one of the most expensive parts of the country. But boy, did that work out! I ended up living rent free in luxury! (That’s another story.)
When I was working at a steward we had a couple of bomb threats. Once the suspicious package was right on the stairwell where I was posted. Little old me (I was only about twenty-one at the time) had to direct crowds of people to make a swift departure. My heart was racing. I knew how serious the situation was. I was in Manchester City Center on a Saturday morning in June 1996, when an IRA bomb destroyed the area where I had been shopping a short time before we were evacuated.
When I was assigned to serve full-time caring for patients with terminal illness – I thought at times I was unable to cope with that assignment. But it turned out to be my niche, in a way I never would have expected. I loved the privilege I had in devoting myself to the care of very courageous men and women.
I was once asked to drive two of the most important dignitaries in the country across London. I must admit, I did crunch the gears a couple of times…but I did alright! It was a top-secret situation, and because I was aware of the situation, I had the call asking me to drive these two men. But the responsibility of who I was driving made me want to wet myself!
There was another occasion when I almost lost my bottle. I have had to be on stage in front of audiences on many occasions. But normally those audiences are 200-1000 people. However, when I was asked to speak in front of 15,000 people…that was kind of scary! The weirdest thing was the sound system, It felt as if my voice was echoing around the venue. I was glad to leave the stage that night.
Doing scary things is one of those things in life. You learn that you have strengths you never imagined. Lesson learned…it’s alright to be scared. Being brave does not mean being without fear. Being brave means that despite fear you do what you need to do. Sometimes being scared makes you take the responsibility you have been given even more seriously and give your utmost to your assignment.
This was my response to the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore:
I know this is a very late post. But I did want to complete it as it was a question that certainly did provoke my thoughts.
Back in May, Fandango asked us the following two questions as part of FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:
When I was younger I think I had a fear that I would identify as nerves or shyness. At a very young age, maybe I was five years of age, mum took me to some kind of children’s activity day at a local community centre. When we arrived and I saw all of these exuberant children running round wildly shrieking, I became gripped with fear. My eyes welled up with tears and I clung to my mum’s hand tightly. She tried to persuade me to join the children and enjoy myself, but I ended up bawling my eyes out. Mum had to walk home with me. That is the first event in my life when I can remember what it is to feel fear and decide not to do something.
I remembered that day for a long time (I still remember it now), but the memory of it had a positive effect on me. I didn’t want to feel that way again so I pushed myself to do what I was afraid of or nervous about. I don’t remember being gripped by that kind of fear through the rest of school. I was secure and content at school. I was not bothered about being popular, and I ended up having a fairly easy passage through school on the whole. I excelled at school work. I was good at sports (because of the stamina that swimming had built in us) and I got on with people. I was in a popular group.
After school I became involved in voluntary projects, including construction projects, which I loved. I became close to two girls who lived in my town and for the next couple of years we travelled together all over England and Wales to work on various projects. We usually shared accommodation too. But then both of the girls dropped out for various reasons…paid work was becoming more important to them. They both had boyfriends and were preparing for the future I guess (they both married before they were twenty-one). The first time I was invited to a project miles away from where I lived, I felt that fear again. Going on my own made me nervous. I would be staying with a family I had never met, and would not have the other two girls to help me be chatty with them. I would be arriving on the construction site on my own and hoping I would see other volunteers I recognised so that I did not end up standing alone looking like a lost little lamb.
Why on earth did I feel nervous? It was wonderful. I was emerging from my shell and becoming more of my own person. It was so good for me to do things like that on my own and not rely on my familiar friends. I have rarely looked back since then. I have seized all sorts of opportunities that came my way and I have realized fear should not hold me back from all life has to offer. I have realized that meeting new people, having new experiences, visiting new places are all wonderfully enriching and exciting. How happy I am that I have not held back. I have acquired an amazing treasure chest of friends and life experiences that make me me!
I guess the only area where I do hold back is when it comes to love. Maybe it’s because I am such a realist. I know that whereas there could be many things that could make me a blessing and a bonus to someone I love, I could also become a burden (especially after my head injuries). I do have a fear I suppose that holds me back. I would not want the man I love to resent making a commitment to me, making sacrifices for me and making changes to his life to have me be a part of it. I can’t bear the thought of the man I love slowly starting to despise me because I cost more than I contribute to his life – I don’t just mean financially.
There are other fears. I fear making the man I love angry because I won’t compromise on certain issues. It’s not just a matter of being stubborn, it is my conscience I cannot deliberately go against. It has happened before. It’s not easy when the man you love asks you to do something that is so much the opposite to who you are as a person. It has caused at least one of my meaningful relationships (my courtship with Jammy), and many of the fledgling relationships with men I had started dating, to crumble. If a man pushes me to do something that makes me miserable, my fondness for him, respect and trust for him fade, as I find it harder and harder to feel secure. I disconnect and an impenetrable wall goes up inside me.
It’s not so easy to find a loving relationship that makes me thrive. I love giving. I love loving. But if I realize that the person I am is shrivelling up and finding it harder to breathe because of the unhappy cloud that has descended upon me, all I can think of is how to escape. I can overlook a lot. I can endure a lot. But I have a silent breaking point. “Silent” because I don’t become enraged, no, instead I just vanish. I don’t want to hurt any man. In some ways…it is better to be in love with a man who lives on the opposite side of the planet, because hopefully those situations when I would either stand up for my conscience and disappoint him, or else give in out of a desire to please him, and then suffer the misery of a pained conscience, will not arise too often.
I think at times I should carry a sign on my head that says “DO NOT TRY TO MAKE ME YOURS, BECAUSE IT IS EXTREMELY UNLIKELY THAT I CAN BE WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO BE”. I met my match. My match was Jack. Jack and I were on the same page with regards to all sorts of issues. We both knew it. We felt the same way about how to spend life, time, money. We both danced to the same beat. It is one thing that saddens me at times to know that there are many nice men out there, but men who I would make miserable and/or who would make me miserable because we would not be on the same page with certain issues.
I am afraid of being in a situation that is desperately miserable for both me and the man I love. These days I like to be realistic and make it clear to the man I love that I can be his best friend and there are a million things I can do for him out of love, but there are things I cannot do without destroying myself. I will love him the best I possibly can. I will be there to hold on tight through thick and thin, but there are issues I will not compromise on. It’s harder than it sounds to find someone who really understands that and does not resent you for being uncompromising on matters that are no big deal to them.
I don’t like the thought of a loving relationship as something that is doomed to failure. I am afraid of hurting someone I love. And then there is a fear, a morbid dread, of a repeat of the situation that occurred with Jack. I cannot bear the thought of someone I love becoming my enemy.
This was my very late response to FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:
I don’t mind being alone…truth be told, I quite like my own company. My head is never empty of happy thoughts, wonderful memories, dreamy hopes. I am more than content to be alone at times and be lost in my own pleasant mind.
However, I was once all alone. Not on my own physically, rather I was isolated within a challenge that I could no longer handle. I am going to save the full saga of how this challenge developed and intensified for other posts. But for now, it is enough for you to know that I had no idea who to turn to for help. It was a situation I did not feel I could share with my loving family. It would have appalled them to know what I was dealing with.
I had lost confidence in the friends around me. I had many friends who had known me since childhood but none of whom were living in London. Those I thought could perhaps help, I either did not want to bother them because they were so important, or I was frightened of the consequences of getting others involved. Truth be told, the man who was the root of all my trials had confused me. (If you read “Peanut-Butter Cookies – That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbled” or “Would You Like A Cup Of Tea?” you may understand why I was confused.)
This man seemed to have decided to make my life miserable…he was a very influential man. He was a popular celebrity. He had been using social media to spread his dissatisfaction with me which had intensified my isolation. I am a softie…I don’t fight with people. I had never been in this situation before.
My isolation had been increasing over time. One Tuesday evening, I felt I could not go home to where I lived because I might see him again. I had seen him several times during the previous days and he had shown his usual hostility. So I did not go home. I went to a local park. I sat on a bench and allowed tears to stream down my face. I was overwhelmed by this challenge…I felt not just alone, but all alone. Isolated in my emotional pain. Maybe you have experienced that kind of alone…”all alone”…feeling under intense stress and not knowing who you can turn to.
In London you are not often alone physically. There are always lots of people around. When I arrived in the park there were joggers, dog-walkers, cyclists. A man sat next to me on the bench. A complete stranger. It was him. I was not afraid at first, I was caught up in my burdensome brooding. But I do remember what happened when I stood up with the sudden awareness that now it was dark and there were no joggers, dog-walkers, cyclists anywhere I looked. I had decided I should not be there. I said it out loud. I actually said, “I should go home.” I try not to think about him. Despite what he did that night, the damage was already done. Caramel was already crushed long before that night.
Now I am going to take you forward several hours. A security guard had found me…he had found me left in bushes with obvious injuries. He had called an ambulance.
The rest of the day…well I remember an array of flashes and noises. I was asked many questions, the same questions over and over, by paramedics, nurses, doctors, police…everyone introduced themselves…I still remember some of their names, Gary, Patrick, Michelle, Daryl, Samara, Naomi, Carol, Jyoti, Michael, another Michael…I cannot remember their roles, but I can remember their words. I was asked again and again what I could remember. I would be asked that question many many more times.
I was also asked who they could call…I kept on saying “Noone, please, not yet.” I told them where I lived, but I begged them not to contact anyone yet. I knew that my family and friends would be very distressed. I needed time to be able to muster the strength to reassure them that I was alright and everything was going to be alright.
I drifted in and out of consciousness…after a whole day and night in the hospital I woke up on the Thursday morning feeling numb and empty. One of the first people I saw that morning must have been a ward clerk, with the task of arranging discharges. She introduced herself as Sally. She asked me how I was getting home? had I arranged my transport home? was someone coming to pick me up? or would I be making my own way home? I felt horrified…suddenly the thought of going back to my accommodation after what had happened to me in the park was impossible in my mind.
How could I go back there? He was still there…the man who had been making my life unbearable for two years. There were scores of neighbours who had been speculating about the relationship between he and I. Over the two years thousands of cruel words had been spread about me. I had been taunted and mocked about him. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of others – friends, workmates, and his fans had read his posts about me on his social media sites. He even used me as the subject of a comedy sketch he was involved in on an entertainment show. After that I received many many more remarks about his view of me. I had been enduring all of that for almost two years and it had essentially crushed me.
This site is Crushed Caramel. I am finally sharing with you what crushed Caramel. Not what happened that night in the park, but the two years beforehand. Now…with my physical injuries and the horror inside of me of what had happened during the night I was in the park…how could I go back now? I was not ready.
I said to Sally that I had not made any arrangements yet. I asked her what time did I have to leave? was the bed I was in needed by another patient? She had a look at my notes and replied that I should not worry until the consultant made his rounds. I was worried though! When the consultant came…I asked him what time I had to leave. He made it clear that I was not going anywhere. He said that they would be keeping an eye on me for the next few days. I was relieved. Pressure lifted, I felt that would allow me the time to work out what next. Who should I call?
My best friend Marta was on holiday in Spain, visiting her family. My closest sister Milly had just flown out to Central Africa to begin a new project. I did not want to call my parents just then because I knew they would be anxious, possibly devastated if they saw what had happened to me. My flatmates, Ivo and Lyn, were also on holiday. I did not want to call my boss or anyone too important. I had many friends in London, but they were all friends of my ex-flatmate. I was frightened they would tell him what had happened to me. There was one thing I was sure of, I did not want him to know.
Momentarily, I felt desperately alone. For the first time since I arrived at the hospital I began to cry. It was not being on my own, but feeling all alone. There seemed to be noone who could really take the weight of this enormous challenge away from my shoulders, noone who could lift the heavy burden on my heart. The pressure inside me was welling up and out poured tears. I cried silently. But the raw pain inside was burning away.
That was when these words suddenly started to echo around my mind:
If I say: “Surely darkness will conceal me!” Then the night around me would become light. Even the darkness would not be too dark for you. But night would be as bright as the day; Darkness is the same as light to you.
You may know these words well or perhaps you have never heard those words before. You may have other sources you turn to for comfort and wisdom. But these were the beautiful words that started to sing within me. The pain, the pressure, the panic melted. Comfort invaded the space they had been occupying. Comfort in the shape of warmth, of courage, of knowing I was not alone. The awareness that I had a friend who was far bigger than any challenge I could ever face, far more powerful than the worst of my fears, was immensely comforting. I felt as if a great pair of arms lifted me up out of the bed I was resting in and gave me a bear hug!
Those last words “darkness is the same as light to you”. Momentarily the gloominess of my situation had overwhelmed me. However, even if my pain was dark and bitter and I could not see hope ahead or a way out…well, He could. To Him, it was clear as day…night might as well be day. He saw past the darkness, He could see everything and understood everything.
More words came into my head and comforted me.
I have many friends and family members. At times though I had felt as if they didn’t understand who I really was on the inside. Everyone thought I was a little ray of sunshine. I tried to be happy and friendly with everyone. I had tried for those past two years to conceal the pain of essentially being bullied and tormented. I had tried to laugh it off, to make light of it, to pretend I was not bothered by the cruel words uttered against me. As I mentioned, I had felt all alone because there did not seem to be anyone I could turn to for help with this challenge. The words that came into my head again in a loud and reassuring tone were these:
Your eyes even saw me as an embryo. All its parts were written in your book. Regarding the days when they were formed before any of them existed.
To feel all alone, to feel as if there was nobody that really understood me or could help me with this challenge…how wrong I was! From the moment I was conceived He knew I existed. Nothing has escaped his notice. He knows every detail of my mind and the depths of my heart. There I was alone in hospital, but now I knew I was not alone! I was now infused with the peace and calm and power I needed to face the future.
It gave me the courage to face with calmness everything I needed to do. I rang our Mandy, who was the only family member I thought could see me with my injuries without sobbing. Mandy is one tough cookie. She jumped in the car and came straight down to London. She did cry when she saw me, but she managed to control herself as she saw that I needed calm. Together we rang a close friend of mine who was of great influence. He promised to look after all of my arrangements in London.
All of these beautiful expressions, which were penned around 3000 years ago, were evidence to me that we were never intended to have an isolated existence. Being on your own is good for you at times, but feeling all alone is not good…it is not what we were designed for. We thrive on love – showing love and knowing we are loved. To me these special words breathe love and deep personal interest.
To sum up the effect of these words, I would like to share my quote for today. If you ever feel all alone. Isolated, with a challenge that is beyond your ability to deal with. If your heart is weighed down with grief or anxiety and you cannot see any light ahead. The quote, the 2,700 year old famous words that empowered me like never before were these:
And He did! Every step!
Many of us are very sad at the news that First Fridays, Daily Prompt and The Community Pool are no more to be…We are all hoping there will be ways to keep the connections going. Well one way appears to be challenges bloggers can nominate each other for. So this post is Day Three of the Three Day Challenge.
I was nominated for this audacious challenge by Mr Mark Anthony, as you can see from his post. Thank you Mark Anthony…the nomination gave me some ideas regarding more lessons in life that Caramel has indeed learned. I am pleased to be able to share them on the Crushed Caramel site.
• Thank the person who nominated you.
• Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).
• Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day.
“ Do not be afraid. I will help you.”
CRUSHED CARAMEL (LEARNER AT LOVE) – DAY THREE OF THE THREE DAY – THREE QUOTE CHALLENGE
My nominees :
I love looking at your posts and appreciate all of your support and encouragement.
I hope you enjoy this challenge as much as I have. Maybe you will have something fun, wise or inspirational to you that you can share with us.
As for my own posts…well I promise you for the rest of the week they will be much more light-hearted! I don’t want you to worry…we will come back to this subject at a much later date.