Transparency Sucks!

“Say it out loud” they say, “Be real” they say, “Be transparent” they say… And all those comments sit so well with my soul. Yes please I said, I’ll shout it from the treetops I said!

I hate wearing a mask, I hate pretending that I’m not broken, body and soul, … and every time I bear my soul, or I say it how it is, or a show my wounds, I am so encouraged by the support that I get… and it feels validating for me, helpful to others, and totally natural….

But for every measure of those things, comes an equal measure of mud. I might be shaking off the masks, and yes, that requires some strength, …but don’t over estimate me, maybe I’m shaking them off because I feel that I have no choice.. Maybe I feel that I have less to lose and more to gain than others? Maybe I’m not that brave at all…

But don’t forget those masks, and what I’m trying to reveal to the world, is the frightened, abused, squashed, trampled, voiceless little girl inside …and she isn’t so robust and nor is she immune to the criticism that comes from others, who think that I should keep wearing  my masks forever to make them feel more comfortable.

Most of them don’t mean it, … I know that it’s their own fears or hurts or lack of strength or robustness that is behind them feeling threatened. And for many of them their masks are survival techniques which keep them safe, contained, secure, and that for them to drop them would be catastrophic (don’t underestimate that, some only think that it will be catastrophic but for many it actually would be)…

We all have different journeys to walk and different timings too. And so my timing may well be different to yours. I am by no means a trail blazer, I take great strength and confidence from those who walk this journey waaaay ahead of me. And for those behind me on their journeys, I want to be the strong one for them. But being real also means being honest and being honest means telling the truth, and telling the means that I have to admit that being transparent comes with criticism and judgement… And a lot of it, …and often from where you least expect it!

About 6 years ago I found a book lying around somewhere and the title jumped out at me. I ignored it, but the same thing happened a few times over, and eventually I borrowed it reluctantly. It was called “I Quit” by Geri Scazzero. I was determined that I was not a quitter and so it wasn’t a book for me! …But I had it’s meaning all wrong and once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. It was life changing for me, …and she warns that if you want to be real, honest, and transparent then expect a cyclone to occur in every corner of your life and relationships.

Well she wasn’t kidding. NOTHING could have prepared me for how powerful, all consuming, and destructive that cyclone was (and still is)… Or that it would go on and on, and on …for so long. But I especially didn’t get that it would leave such a mess behind… Some of which would take years to clean up …plus other damage that would be permanent.

But she was 100% correct in that should you and your loved ones survive the storm, it would be oh so worth it! I can’t begin to explain how worth it it is!

… Even though on so many levels  ….it also sucks!

3 Blockages to Self-Care if you were abused…

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 1.58.44 PMSelf care sounds like the most simple thing on earth. And if you were raised in a way that encouraged that (usually without the words “self-care”) then it probably is easy. But for many of us it is the hardest thing in the world. Chidhood abuse of any kind robs us of many basic skills, and one of those vital skills it robs us of is the ability to self care.

Self care is not the ability to dress ourselvs, feed ourselves, or basic hygiene. This is beyond that, it is the ability to healthily nourish and self soothe ourselves in ways that enrich us, recharge our batteries, and keep us safe. For the most part, it is about keeping us from falling down the rabbit hole. It is time out, head space, nurturing… the things that keeps us functioning well. Matt from “Surviving my Past” does a great job of explaining what self care means for a survivor here.

1: Abuse has a powerful emotional element of entrapment. When you grow up in abuse, you know nothing different, and this creates a disconnect between our lives and the lives of the rest of the people around us. Our basic need is to be free of the abuse, and that is all we want. To me growing up I assumed that I was the only miserable broken one, and everyone else out there looks the same; …happy, normal, thriving. … I didn’t get the luxury of learning about other kinds of needs. I didn’t see differences between other people. All I wanted is to be like “them” and I missed a lot of subtleties about discernment, differences and preferences that I would otherwise have learnt if my basic need for safety had been met.

2: All abusers blame their victims, whether overtly or covertly (in my case extremely openly), and it can leave us feeling unworthy and with a false sense of shame. Unworthy of anything good in life, shameful of enjoyment. It can feel subconsciously as though we don’t have the good things because we don’t deserve them, so we don’t try to get them. We don’t deserve breaks, or time out, or to spoil ourselves. I found that I felt so much guilt when doing anything for myself that wasn’t enjoyable or worth it. So I never got to find out what self care even meant for me.

3: As the entrapper, abuser and the blamer, then the last thing that a parent would also be teaching the child, either purposefully or by example, is any self caring skills of ANY kind. I wasn’t taught how to self care, have an opinion or a voice, or even had it modelled to me. It was a completely foreign concept until therapy and even then it took over three years before I could find the smallest thing that would be considered “self care”.

For many years I could not even understand the term. I couldn’t understand the difference between self care and pampering and none of my psychologists explained that because they assumed that I knew what they meant. Discussions on self care caused me huge anxiety and left me feeling as though there was even more wrong with me, and that I was in trouble for not knowing the right answers. If this is you or someone you love, how did you overcome these huge issues that arose way before I could even unpack what Self-Care was for me?

Social Media is Stealing my Writing time!

I know that social media is an important part of getting ourselves out there, but I genuinely and stupidly thought that immersing myself in the deep waters of social media for a week would be enough to understand and get my systems going, and then while I knew that there would still be a good few weeks of taking longer to “do” the social media stuff each week, I would be back to writing again in no time.

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The truth is a vicious cycle, where I am constantly having to learn and research something new, which means that I am not writing anything proper, and because I am not writing anything worth reading, I look like someone who is constantly writing nonsense about SM instead of having anything to say worth following! AAAAAHHHH!!!

Talk about a love hate relationship! If I can hold enough people long enough to get my head around all this, my hope and dream is that eventually I will be able to write again and keep up with this social media thing which I actually enjoy. Having been on Facebook forever, and joining Twitter with a handful of truly helpful and loving people, has made it so much easier, so thank you all for following and encouraging and writing and so on 🙂

Twitter’nStuff; hindrance or help?

Nearly 6 years ago I started my first blog. It was private with only a small handful of readers that I trusted. “Share your heart” they said. “Share your story” they said. “We will listen and hold your hand” they said. And some did. But most just read it without support, feedback, thanks or encouragement. I felt hurt and let down, ….but a door had opened that could never be closed again.

And so I went deeper. I started to tell things as they were, unfiltered and unmasked. I didn’t invite anyone who knew me to see any of it, but I hit that “public” button instead of the private one and hid behind a pen name. Lots of strangers heard my voice and commented and replied and asked questions and encouraged. It was thrilling that for the first time in my life I didn’t worry about what anyone expected of me, no body told me that I was wrong, and for the first time in my life I felt “heard”. I was going through the hardest time of my life, going through heartache that I had never ever imagined would be mine (in this way anyway). My soul had been shredded by those closest to me and I was in so much heartache that I could barely breath.

I didn’t know until later that I was in such deep trauma that I was in danger of a complete breakdown, but every day, instead of allowing it to destroy me, I wrote and wrote and wrote and strangers heard me and carried me and for the first time in my life I belonged somewhere, to a group of fellow journeyers who were as crushed and broken as I was.

I worked hard at healing and growing and eventually I needed more light in order to survive. My heart ached for those women who were not able to climb out of those holes, often through no fault of their own. But my own light and survival was so new and fragile and it became unhealthy for me to spend time in that dark desperate place. I want to write about that place and share it one day, but first I need to create a safe enough space, up in the light of the rest of the world, before I can do that.

A year ago my physical mess of a body was diagnosed and I had a whole new space to write about, process and a different journey to share. This January I at last felt robust enough to start writing my whole story, …. and this blog was born, to carry me through that journey and hopefully lead to one day finish writing my book. I have felt encouraged and blessed in the process, but 2 weeks ago I was encouraged to take it another step further…

You need to get Twitter they said, and Instagram they said, oh yes and Pinterest they said… Just use this or that handle and everyone will retweet you they said… “it’s easy” they said…

What they didn’t say was that it is fast and overwhelming and scary and crazy! What they didn’t say was that complete strangers follow you hoping that you will follow them, and that some of them are great people but for others it is just a numbers game and if you don’t follow them back then they dump you. Even though they “tempted” me with their cleavages and their duck faces…

They didn’t say that there are apps and ‘bots and programs who churn out tweets at a great rate of knots and that if I am not careful I could sell my soul to be heard or seen or noticed… I am learning that you can’t just speak and someone will hear, …you first need to become noticed (and cool and popular? Like school maybe?)

I feel a little like I am back in school again, …. And back to being invisible … I don’t want the Twitter Train to run me over or kill the voice that I am only just now starting to find, but I’m also pretty sure that I still don’t want to have to change everything that I do so that I too can be cool and “fit in”….

Maybe I’m just feeling fragile today … Maybe today isn’t a good day to bear my soul….

Hang on …. Must I only bear my soul when I’m feeling strong and uplifting and encouraging and make everyone else smile and feel good about themselves? … Am I only to use my voice for everyone else’s good?

Thank you for all the support of those who have risked following me on this journey, I hope that I stay worthy of your follow, and if not … well … I will cross that bridge when I get there, …but I am determined not to be bowled over by the Twitter Train!

Leapfrogging

img_3342I don’t know whether Leapfrogging is an “actual” word or not, but it is one that I have found that I use a lot the last few years. For me it means that the relationships that work for me are those where I feel that on some level we are equal, and we are good for each other in that we leap frog each other.

One example is the special friend that I often create with on a Tuesday. Apart from the fact that she and her husband take such great care of me one day a week so that I can spend my day creating with her without having to worry about anything else, I love that whenever we spend time together we add to each other’s art and lives. I used to say that she was so much better than me, and she would say the opposite, but we soon realised that what actually happens is that one of us would come up with a good idea, and I am not saying that without the other it would stop there, however we think so alike that the other would build on that spark of an idea and add greatly to it with a new and brilliant idea that expands it. Which then sparks the first person to do the same thing. It is a little like a chain reaction, or leapfrogging over each other until the end result is quite brilliant. It may end there and we pat each other on the back and wish that we could implement it all if we both had the time and energy to do it, but often it actually amounts to something wonderful (and fun if nothing else).

It keeps us brave and adventurous and sometimes those brilliant ideas are complete failures too of course, but it is exciting and uplifting to have someone that I can leapfrog with. This may sound obvious but because I am self taught, love to experiment, and one needs to buy materials from people who are experts in their field (timber from the hardware store, beads from the beading shops and stalls and so on) and those people are usually interested in what their customers are doing, they ask what I am planning and more often than not I get told that it can’t be done. I find that deflating and unhelpful.

When I got to renovate my home a few years ago the first builder that came to give me a quote told me that I couldn’t put a window there because it is an unusual size. The next builder that came to quote answered that he would think about it, and the next day rang with a solution that was both cheaper and more affective. His new idea sparked an inspiration in me for wall behind that window and so on we went… another leapfrogging experiment and I am sure that I don’t need to tell you who got the job.

This is what I love about blogging as apposed to writing a book (which I also love) … there are so many good bloggers out there who inspire me and ignite ideas in me, and I hope that I can do the same for them. I don’t want to be told that I can’t write this or that, I want to write and be inspired and be real and tell the truth as it is. So thank you to those of you out there who I read, who are transparent and real and brave in all kinds of ways…