WORKING OUT

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(photo credit – http://www.fineartamerica.com)

 

Well … I’ve made a decision [round of applause, please]. I’ve decided, after living much of my adult life in a wheelchair and needing carers, that I’m going to get myself fit. I’m going to get fit in my city’s main gym – working out – [yes, me, little Ellie, working out – you heard right]. My brilliant idea is that maybe – just maybe – I would be able to manage a bit more independently without having to rely on carers so much.  I am very serious about it, and it would be amazing to achieve this.

Having made this great pledge to myself, I set off for the sports centre for the first time today.  I bought my ticket and a membership card and wheeled through the turnstile, along with an unexpected and very excited party of primary school children who were waiting to go into the pool for their swimming lesson.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I entered the door to the gym. I was wasn’t entirely surprised to find there were a few keen, male bodybuilders and one or two rather muscular, female weightlifters, all of which looked like they had popped a few steroids before they’d come out! However, I wasn’t particularly concerned [‘each to their own’, I thought].

I slid quietly passed them, trying not to look too conspicuous in my pair of blue jeans, a tee-shirt and a purple and white sweatshirt (which I couldn’t get changed out of without the help of a carer who I didn’t have with me). Compared to everyone else in their smart sports gear, I did, indeed, look conspicuous. I pulled off the sweater and bravely bared my arms in a vain attempt to fit the image a little more. I failed, miserably, but was nevertheless determined to get started – onwards and upwards!

One of the instructors met me a few minutes later, and having assessed me gave me a print out of the exercises I needed to do. I was keen to begin my workout. I didn’t know the names of half the equipment, but I managed to locate the weights and thought I’d start with them. I picked up the 2 kg dumbbell, and my arm plummeted towards the gym floor … I’d better start with a lighter one, I decided, and then chose the ½ kg weight. That was better although I felt a bit pathetic attempting to raise my arm above my head with what looked like a pencil with two blunt ends. I managed two lots of ten lifts with each arm altogether which was a fair start.

I gradually worked my way through my programme and finished after an hour, feeling suitably proud of myself. I felt really good and had thoroughly enjoyed it. I refilled my water bottle, went out into the caféteria area and treated myself to a vitamin-packed mango, spinach, kale and celery smoothie which was delicious despite the fact that it looked the same colour and consistency of the green sludge that floats across the top of my garden pond from time-to-time. Trust me … it was lovely.

I eagerly finished that up and left the sports centre absolutely buzzing with endorphins, and now, I can’t wait to go again on Tuesday. I’m so excited by the prospect of possibly being able to manage with less care, so achieving more independence. The sun was shining, warm on my back on the journey home and I must have looked a bit daft as I wheeled along with a smile on my face like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland!

woman in wheelchair exercise equipment

(photo credit – http://www.nchpad.org)

 

 

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WHAT’S IN A NAME?

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What’s in a name? My own name is important to me but perhaps not in the sense that most people would feel that their name means much to them.  I have changed my name quite a few times during my life. I feel I have needed to do this precisely because I’ve never had a solid sense of identity to represent the person I show to the world and the individual that I feel I am at a given phase in my life. Sometimes, I have changed my name to metaphorically, run away from myself, usually for some emotional reason.

I don’t give my birth or last name here because I want to retain the anonymity of my blog. I don’t share my blog or my blog details with any of my family or friends – only my readers and followers.

When I was a teenager my life changed very radically in that the sexual abuse I had suffered since toddlerhood finally ended. As the months went by and after the initial sense of trepidation wore off, I began to feel safer in my own body, and I decided I didn’t want to be called by my birth name anymore (I didn’t want to connect with that abused child inside).

I then begged my parents to let me change my name and eventually, they agreed that I could use my middle name and so at the age of seventeen, I went by that name. However, I can’t say I was terribly happy with that either, but it was as far as my mother and father were prepared to go, so I settled with that, at least, for the time being.

After I had married, I was free to go by whatever name I wanted. I chose carefully, not rashly nor hurriedly. I changed to suit who I felt I was at that point in my life. It goes back to that fundamental core lack of identity. During my young adult years and in the short time before I became a mother myself, I was Rachel and Jacqueline. But, I think I was still running away from myself as I was never really 100% happy with either of them. Of course, when I had my children, I kept my name, Jacqueline (although often abbreviated and then the spelling altered from time to time), more for their benefit than for mine and did so until they grew up and were no longer living at home. My life altered again then as I got used to living alone without a partner (I wad divorced by then) and without my children with me.

And so, as the subsequent years followed, I changed as we all do throughout the different stages of our lives. Then, finally, in 2014, I began writing this blog, and through the course of writing, I’ve discovered who I am inside. I’m Ellie. I should have always been Ellie – I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin. I love my ‘WordPress blog world’. I still don’t share it with people in my outside life. This is my reality; where I can honestly express myself freely. This is where it’s safe to share my secrets. I can write about what’s in my heart and what’s in my mind, and that’s exactly what I do.

At times like this, when I feel truly free, freed up in the course of my writing – in fact, then I have wings. I have wings and can fly. Perhaps, my next name (if I were going to have one), should be Tinkerbell! x  😉

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(Photo credits – imarcade.com and cartoonbucket.com)

 

MOVING FORWARD – THE PASSAGE OF TIME AND BIRTHDAY CAKE

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Why an image of a clock to begin this post with? This is because it is actually a good depiction of my feelings and where I’ve been at for some time. Life has felt rather surreal during this last year. The clock face also shows the passage of time I have been through over the last few months.

At last, I’m beginning to feel like I’m getting back to normal after my Mum became ill, had a stroke, and I finally lost her only five months ago (almost to the day). There was the funeral to get through (and all that encompassed) and now, we are dealing with probate, Mum’s will and the sale of our family home after spending my first twenty years of life there.

However, as far as my psychiatric health in concerned, I’m feeling brighter which is good (and about time too). I am now on different and new medication which, in the last week has begun to help improve my state of mind, and I’m sleeping so much better which makes a great difference to how I feel during the day. The severe anxiety attacks have also lessened which is a huge relief.

The many cogs in this clock also represent changes in a more positive way … slowly … as time has ticked by and the wheels have been turning, my relationship with my son has improved, and we have become closer which means I have more contact with my two beautiful grandchildren, Josh and Lily who are a delight to me. I have definitely become closer to my sisters, particularly the one who lives the furthest away from me. We may be separated by many miles but are hearts are inextricably linked and always will be.

The recent passage of time, like each cog, has been whirring, clicking and ticking by slowly but steadily. A lot else has changed in that time too. My eldest granddaughter has now turned eleven and will be going up to senior school in September, and my youngest granddaughter will be starting primary school at the age of four-and-a-half (she seems too young). Where has the time gone? Am I really old enough to have a granddaughter in senior school? Goodness! I must be older than I think! I’m definitely older in years than I feel and I am fortunate enough to be told by several people that I don’t look my age. However, I am reluctantly coming up to ‘a biggy’; a big ‘0’ birthday in three month’s time (which I’m trying to ignore) … ugh! How am I going to get all my candles on one cake?!

Image result for Birthday Cake with Many Candles

In addition, I would like to say thank you to my dearest friends here at WordPress who have stuck by me through thick and thin over the last year or so – it can’t have been easy at times. Their blogs have kept my head above water some of that time by distracting me with their diversity, interest, humour and compassion. So, shout out to Bun at https://bunkaryudo.wordpress.com/ and Mick at https://mickcanning.co/ and Carol anne of https://therapybits.com/. Also, thank you to any of you who may have called in or dropped by my blog and hung around with support and kind words too. Love to you all, Ellie xxx

MIXED EMOTIONS (AND POTTING UP GERANIUMS)

elderly woman gardening

(Photo credit: http://www.healthtap.com)

Ok – so this isn’t a picture of my Mum and those plants aren’t actually geraniums, but to all intents and purposes, both of those things could have been facts as that’s exactly what my Mum would have been doing at this time of year if she were still here. She loved geraniums of all colours and would have been repotting them all into bigger pots as they would have grown after their dormant period in the dark and damp basement of the house. They would have all been neatly arranged on the patio outside the kitchen, making a huge splash of colour in the garden.

In fact, this was actually what she was doing along with mowing the grass, cutting the hedge and tying up raspberry canes just two weeks before she had her stroke last year. She remained in hospital from then until the day she passed away just before the New Year this year.

I miss my Mum. I hurt. I’m still hurting. I don’t when or if the hurting ever stops. I have photos of her in my living room and by my bed and yet, believe it or not, I can’t look at them. I cannot look at my Mum. I just am not able to ‘make eye-contact’ with her. Perhaps, it’s too early. Perhaps it’s the pain of not having her here anymore. Maybe, it’s the shame. Perhaps, the guilt that I wrote about in a previous post is telling me that she would be ashamed of me.

I can vaguely scan past the photos. I know the one on my desk in front of me so well. It was a photo I had which was taken only weeks before Mum had her stroke. It’s a picture of her in the garden which was always a sanctuary for her, with the big honeysuckle rambling up a large trellis covering part of the brickwork of the house behind her and next to that are the peach-coloured, climbing roses clambering up the wooden fence. The patio in front of her, adorned with pots, large and small of her favourite geraniums, orange, white and red, all in full bloom.

But, every time my eyes catch the slightest glimpse of her face or her eyes or smile in the photos, my heart is wrenched from my chest, and my mind is screaming, “Noooooo ….”  I cannot cry – I really can’t. My eyes are prickling from the sheer pressure of my tears building up behind my eyelids and fighting to get out. Maybe, I can’t can’t cry because I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t ever be able to stop. I want to go and visit her grave and lay fresh flowers there, but it’s 50 miles away with no public transport with wheelchair access so impossible. Sometimes, I still feel so close to her and almost forget for a second that she has gone. At other times, she seems so very far away.

All the legalities regarding the will, probate and selling the house are continuing to go on in the background. It’s so hard to think of my childhood home being taken over by someone else. Who knows what will happen to it … maybe, it will house another family for many more years although there is also the possibility that it will be completely gutted and turned into several flats and that’s much harder to stomach. Moving on, emotionally, isn’t easy but I have to remember too, that it was only five months ago that Mum was with us and living in that house.

Mum was a great one for ‘keeping things’, usually followed by, “It’ll come in useful for something”, a trait that I’ve inherited. Amongst all the ‘useful somethings’, we’ve unearthed photo albums, not just of our childhoods but also of Mum when she was growing up and even some of my great-grandmother in the 1800’s … real treasure … a pictorial history of my family on my Mum’s side … fascinating. It’s going to take me forever to sort through all of those photos and distribute them to our remaining family. They’ll certainly provide me with lots of happy and no doubt, funny memories too which will probably eventually get passed down to my grandchildren and who knows, perhaps their grandchildren one day? Actual history in the making. Mum would be pleased.

(DIS)ORDER IN THE COURT!

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FINAL HEARING: TWO FULL DAYS

Setting the scene:

We’d waited a long time, many months at least, for this final court hearing to decide on the custody and access of my two beautiful but now damaged grandchildren, *Lily, now four years old and *Josh, now two years old. They’ve been living with their mum, *Kate, (my son, *Tom’s ex-wife) and her interfering aunt, *PL and uncle, *A. Added to this poisonous mix is now Kate’s totally unreasonable mother and father, *C and *M who have been intent on tearing my grandchildren from my son who loves them so deeply and tells them this frequently when they are in his care in an attempt to contrast to the toxic negativity they are constantly being fed about their Tom by Kate and all her family.

The last court hearing settled on every second weekend with one-day in-between plus a small share of the school/nursery holidays. We’d applied for further access between that time and now but this had been flatly refused with no good reason by the court.

THE HEARING LAST WEEK:

The judge was the same biased judge as we’d had at all the previous hearings (which was more than unfortunate). Present were – my son, his ex-wife, her aunt and uncle, her mother and father because they were all involved in the day-to-day care of the children and various representatives from Social Services, the local police, nursery teachers etc and the individual personal witnesses. I wasn’t allowed to be present and neither were any of my family because we weren’t in charge of Lily and Josh’s care.

Over the course of the two days, all parties were cross-examined by each other and the two solicitors appointed, by Tom and by Kate. Lots of evidence and statements were heard – many truths from our side and many lies from theirs. [Tom and I had spent many days and sometimes all through the nights, writing, checking and double-checking all our documents and reading and checking all our witness statements and plenty more besides]. The judge, unfortunately, didn’t seem able to differentiate between the truth and the lies which didn’t help our case one bit. The judge then left the court to deliberate.

THE VERDICT:

Finally, all were ushered back into the courtroom for the verdict to be delivered. We’d hoped and prayed for almost two years now that the judge’s decision would finally be a fair one. As the words left the judge’s lips, our hearts despaired. The verdict, finally was for Tom to have Lily and Josh every other weekend as before but now with just a ten-minute phone call to the children once a week in between. It’s highly unlikely that these calls will be private – I’m sure Kate will be listening in to the children’s replies and brief conversations and no doubt Lily and Josh would be then questioned as to ‘what daddy said’.

The school holidays – Tom was granted an extra week in the summer with one weekend around Easter and one weekend at Christmas. I guess you could say we won – gaining an extra eleven days a year but if felt like a hollow victory when we had applied for shared custody. That was it! No appeals, no re-trials, no nothing! That’s it – final – until the children are old enough to request changes themselves (approximately aged 13-15). That’s an awfully long way off and an awfully long time for them to be suitably indoctrinated against Tom and our family. Having phoned me from the court that last evening, Tom was torn and beaten. I stayed as strong as I could on the phone with him, we hung up and I wept and sobbed hopelessly, wasted tears, from that moment until I finally slept that night.

THE FOLLOWING MORNING:

I awoke to the same horror that I’d fallen asleep to. The realisation had set in. All there is left now is hope and love – hope that Lily and Josh will come out of this reasonably unscathed but I know this is unlikely: and love; as much love and positivity that we can possibly pour into the children in the short spells that Tom has access to them. So, that’s it – FINI – FINITO – FERTIG – समाप्त हो गया – FINISHED!  😥

CHAMELEON SKIN – TAKE 2

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I intended to write a post today about my son’s final court hearing regarding custody of his children which took place this week but I thought it appropriate, following on from last week’s post, to republish this poem because it explains so well how I feel so much of the time.

When I ‘depend’ on any given person, I become someone who moulds myself into whatever character I think that ‘given’ person wants me to be. In other words, I have become, unwittingly and unintentionally, a chameleon to fit whatever role I think is required. This is an instant response and not something that I have control over yet (although I’m working on it in therapy),  and it is actually totally exhausting as I automatically become an ‘actor’, albeit an unwilling one – it’s really hard work, mentally, pleasing and fitting in with everyone (people-pleasing in a way). This is a desperate attempt to ensure that the person on whom I depend likes/loves me enough that they won’t leave me because, without them, I don’t know how or who to be and feel helpless and abandoned.  I’m aware that this all sounds somewhat pathetic but, for me, it is not only a symptom of my BPD and DPD but the only way I know to survive in my world.

The biggest problem occurs if I find myself with more than one person that I know and they know me, which obviously does happen sometimes, my mind and my body (as in body language) don’t know how or who to be and I usually either end up confused, very stressed and muddled and find an excuse to leave the situation.

 

CHAMELEON SKIN

She is what she is … or is she, indeed?

She’s perplexed, befuddled, embroiled

Lost her mind along enmeshed journeys

She belongs, does she not to this world?

~~~

Is she real or a trickster, a fraud inside?

Not knowing her mind, too caught up in lies

Or perhaps, revealing her open wounds

You win some, you lose some, just look in her eyes

~~~

She’s not without fear though she’s scared of the thrill

The rollercoaster won’t come to an end

She writes her life’s story in ink, so black

You may wonder how her thoughts are penned

~~~

Innocence seen, and innocence gone

A fight in a nightmare; she holds her breath

The howls can be heard from far away

Will she ever return from the brink of death

~~~

You know her, you don’t, you think that you may

She’s a friend, a soldier, blood-kin

She lives or she dies; knowing the shadow side

Unknown, she wears her chameleon skin.

I’ve republished this poem with its image at the top of the page, not because I can’t be bothered to write a different post (as I will write about my son next), but because, as explained last week, this subject is playing very heavily on my mind at the moment and at times, I am very trapped by my own thoughts and need to write. Therefore, please forgive me for ‘rehashing’ a previous post, especially if you read it when I published it back in February 2016, but there is a specific reason (as explained) for doing so at this time.

A final thought: Is there a bit of a chameleon in each one of us if we look carefully enough at ourselves?

Edit: Taking the form of a chameleon is a very common aspect/symptom in people who have BPD or DPD.

MY CONFESSION – BRUTALLY, HONESTLY WRITTEN.

I apologise for the length of this post. It is a very serious subject to me and the explanation of this did not warrant abbreviating it, so do forgive me my ‘indulgence’.

(Photo credit – https://heatherstinnett.files.wordpress.com)

A comic illustration, you may, at first glance, assume. But, in this case, not so. It’s a very serious topic – a confession – very long overdue.

As you will know, I have written much of my guilt and despair over the last few months. Well, here I bare my all with much humiliation, guilt and fear – fear of being disliked, disapproved of, despised even.

I came to terms many years ago with the fact that I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – it was a case of having to really – fight or flight? As much as I wish I could say that I chose the option of fight; in many ways, I found myself, at the time, thinking, “I can’t deal with this”. Therefore the possibility of flight came into play although I didn’t strictly take flight – it was more a case of burying my head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, not wanting to admit or see the reality of the situation. Intertwined with that was my plunging my head deeply into the soil around me, my disability thrown, nonchalantly into the mix.

Now, comes the tricky bit – tough – brutally honest and extremely painful to confess. I have a condition alongside the BPD, I have DPD (Dependent Personality Disorder).

If you care to read up on the definition of DPD – https://psychcentral.com/disorders/dependent-personality-disorder-symptoms/ – it does not come across very favourably at all; in fact, quite the opposite. I’d go so far as saying even very unappealing and not worthy of any compassion.

I cannot make a simple decision without first seeking the advice of someone else, often a Carer. I will do anything it takes to ensure I am ‘cared for’ in one way or another even if that means carrying out tasks or chores that are unpleasant for me. Anything to be seen to be complying, thereby, ensuring the highest probability of my care being continued. Even, making myself seem more helpless than I am – (this is not to say that I don’t need physical assistance, I certainly do – I just need a little less of it, thereby, having not been totally honest with my Carers or anybody else either) for which I am full of remorse. As for my mental health aspect of this, that it is another but closely-linked kettle of fish which I may go into in a later post.

Often, the decisions, straightforward and obvious to most people, are difficult for me -What to have for tea? What item of clothing to wear that day? Which programme to watch on TV that evening? More important choices also, such as – Which bank shall I have my account with? How much do you think I should spend at Tesco this week? Pathetic really. Basic, simple questions with, you would think, equally simple replies. But, not for me. For me, they are excruciatingly difficult decisions.

Shame on me!! I hang my head, plunged deep into the shame and humiliation of suspecting this very strongly. If you do read up about it, it will make me sound like a selfish, greedy schoolgirl, wanting everyone to run around after her. I can assure you it’s not like that at all. It amounts to, for me at least, living a daily life of emotional pain and guilt and as I’ve said much shame.

This poem goes some way to explaining in very simple terms, partly how I feel:

If I could right the wrongs

How free my mind would be

I’m trapped inside this bell jar

And dying to be free

~~~

I long to be independent

Not twice-daily care all the time

Free from all this helplessness

Tell me, is that a crime?

~~~

Needing help with meals

But doing some preparation

To help to get it together

Without causing complication

~~~

Can I dispense with my care?

Surely I could manage with less

But, oh, my needs in other ways

No carers? I can’t say yes

~~~

Sinking into deep depression

Plunging into total despair

Not rising in the mornings

Because no-one would be there

~~~

Oh, how I’ve longed, to be honest

How I so much longed to be free

Now, no more hidden secrets

Just me as I am, just me.

So, there – my guilty, shameful and long-overdue, secret, confession. Bare, naked and vulnerable. I feel those very things right now, having finally and at length, written this post; unsure of the reaction or feelings of my readers but open to all comments be they good or bad. But, here I am, being true to myself, honest to all and if I dare to have the cheek to say it, free at last).

DANCING WITH THE DEVIL … AND PRAYER

This post is dark … again. I tell you in advance as you may be so sick of hearing of my negativity that you wonder when there will be a respite from this torture and whether any experience of positivity is going to return? I wish I could let you into my world where I have secrets so deep, you couldn’t dig them out from the depths of hell. My shame has no end – I know that I’m dancing with the devil and now I have engaged in this dance, I can no longer pick the tune. I feel that I will spend the rest of my days terrifyingly and extremely reluctantly tied to this dance partner.

I listened to a sermon at church today (a place that I have no right to be as the bearer of my sins). It was about God loving each one of us despite what we have done. The first step would be to turn away from my sins which are, admittedly, not entirely of my own making, but they are now so great and I have sunk so low that I am too far down under the ocean to see any way back up to the surface.

I prayed so hard for God to show me a way out of the unfathomable mess I’m in, but there were no answers other than my knowing I will either spend my eternal days in hell if my sin remains only in my conscience or the alternative is for my sin to be exposed and I then spend my living days in damnation with my entire world having fallen apart around my ears until I die. And on that day, my feet will know no other way to tread than in the devil’s footsteps.

Dancing with the devil 2

“Father God, I praise You with all that I have and all that I am, deficient and insufficient though that might be. Forgive me, I beg, for my dreadful sin and please, Lord, free me from the captivity of the enabler and partner in crime who lives so closely alongside me emotionally yet they are not here in my existence now and I know that You already know this fact and were fully aware of this before I even put my pen to this paper.

I thank You for all the good that You have given me throughout my life. There have been many difficult and painful experiences along the way as there are in many people’s lives but I feel that, on the whole, I have learned from these and grown although evidently, not enough to right the wrong that I am doing currently and have been for some years.

My Father in Heaven, I plead with You to show me how to help myself to get out of this mess that I am in and in turn to become purer in thought and deed. I ask all this with all of my heart and everything I have in my soul, in Your Precious Name. Amen”