Life | Relationships

Life – It’s Short

By on February 24, 2018
life is short

Life is short, fragile and is balanced on a knife-edge.

Life is short, it is fragile and fleeting.  Nothing brought this home to me more than the death of a friend last week.  She was not an old woman.  I had seen her 2 weeks prior to her death where a group of us enjoyed a slap up meal in the local Indian Restaurant and had a really good time, then suddenly she just…stopped.

We all say it constantly, ‘life is short’, but never seem to do anything about it.  Sometimes you really do need a kick up the proverbial to really ram home the truth of the matter: On average our lifespans may be on the rise but that is no guarantee that you personally are going to live to a ripe old age.  You need to live right now.

How often do we go through one of these awful situations and then go back into our ruts and the drudge of day to day life?  Stay stuck in a job that doesn’t value you, where you are treated badly?  Or in a relationship about which you could easily say the same?  We stay on our rails and follow the same old sequence of events because, why?  Maybe fear of change but also because it is easy.  You might be bored rigid but hey, it is easier to just stay in a job you can do with your eyes shut than it is to make the effort to find and learn a new role.  You might feel undervalued or even abused by a partner on multiple levels, but change is scary, and it is often so hard to get the help you need, you stay put, the years drift by and so it goes on.

How many of us try and try for a partner who shows us no appreciation or value?  How many of us knock ourselves out for a job where you know full well your employer would replace you within 24 hours if you dropped dead tomorrow?  Is it really worth it?  We all need money to live and we need to work to get the money – but we need to start working to live instead of the other way around and focus on our personal relationships with others – the ones that make us happy!

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that 2018 would be the year when I would work less, travel more and spend really high-quality time with those closest to me and who I care about deeply.  I planned to remove as many negatives as I can…so far I have pretty much failed.  My friend passing really has given me a kick up the arse – and I am going to make changes.

People who know me ‘in real life’ will be aware that I never sugar-coat the dead; we are all just people, good and bad, and this doesn’t change when we pass, but this woman really was exceptional and when I say she was one of the nicest and most genuine people I have been fortunate enough to meet, I actually mean that.  We knew each other I guess for just over a decade, we were never exceptionally close but she is going to leave a huge gap in our little group, in my life and the world will be poorer without her in it.

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Life

First Impressions

By on January 5, 2018
first impressions

I am a big believer in first impressions and I have often acted on connections with individuals that felt positive on a first meeting. I’ve rarely misled myself on this. However, I am more reluctant to follow my gut when my first impression is one of dislike. Instead, I have to ask myself, is this feeling of instant dislike more to do with me that it is with them?

I rarely find myself in the situation where my first impression of someone causes me to actually recoil from them, but it did happen to me last year for the first time in many years. I decided to withhold final judgement because I honestly could not understand why they had been so brusque toward me or why they felt speaking to me like a disapproving ageing aunt was in order. Perhaps I imagined it? If I hadn’t (and I hadn’t, I just tend to second guess myself and give people the benefit of the doubt) perhaps it was a bad day. I examined my own behaviour. I had actually not directly interacted with this person, there was just a general group conversation happening and they had decided to be – well, weird.

So fast forward 6 months or so and just before Christmas I find myself in this person’s company again. Not by choice, I hasten to add, however, there were other people there I wanted to spend time with that I do like and so I approached it with an open mind and equally openly spirited, only to find that for some reason I remain persona non grata as far as they are concerned.

However, on this occasion I was sober and they were not and it soon became more than apparent as to why this is the case. I have rarely met anyone so insecure, mainly with themselves but of course, that then extends out towards others around them including any significant other they may have. There was a lot of trying too hard, wanting to be the centre of attention and fending off non-existent ‘threats’ to this.

I think the reason I felt such an instant dislike to this person from the first time we met is simply that I totally relate to all of those emotions and I have behaved in similar ways myself in the past – although (I hope) not to that extent because some of the expressions of control that were aimed at their partner based, I presume,  on their own fear of abandonment I found really difficult to watch.  I know that in the past I could so easily have become that person.

So now I don’t feel quite so angsty about them, mainly because I recognise that those feelings are there because they are mirroring a potential aspect of my own personality I don’t like very much.  I hope that they can develop a sense of their own self-worth and be happy with themselves and their loved one. It is hard – I should know – to learn to love yourself, to do that work and continue to do it because, frankly, you tend to backslide, or I do at least.

That said, I shall be trusting my first impression, I shan’t be totally avoiding them but I certainly will not be seeking them out!

 

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Life | Relationships

The Forgiveness Delusion

By on December 30, 2017

To Err is Human, to forgive Divine

 

I thought I was pretty good on forgiveness. Even my brother who was pretty savvy with people once said to me (regarding a decade-long argument with a family member), ‘I wish I could forgive it but I can’t, I haven’t got the grace to do it. I wish I had your grace, you manage to forgive people, even for the most awful things’. At the time I would have agreed – now I am not so sure.

I would say that I am mostly pretty good on forgiveness. If someone gives me an apology for something I usually take it and mean it. I also believe I can recognise flaws in my own interactions with others and will apologise readily and mean it.

But what if someone has done something so bad, so terrible, with such long-lasting effects that you simply cannot find it within you to forgive?

“To err is human, to forgive divine”, said Pope in his poem An Essay on Criticism. On one hand, I would agree – we all make mistakes and we could all use a little forgiveness. Sometimes our behaviour is understandable, there are real and valid reasons why someone acts in a certain way. It could be upbringing, it could be mental illness, a traumatic event, it could be a lack of social skills. Oftentimes the knowledge of these things does indeed allow us to forgive because we can understand the reasons why something happened.

On the other hand, a reason is not the same as an excuse. Repeating the same behaviour over and over again when one could have dealt with it the first, second or even third time, pretty much negates the reason as an excuse in my book. Systematic abuses of people over decades, being repeatedly left as a result of this and still not looking at oneself, still blaming someone else, anyone else, again removes any possibility of using any reason to excuse yourself.

ForgivenessSo I repeat:  Yes, there are reasons, but having a reason is not an excuse, it does not excuse it or exempt one from the responsibility for or the consequences of that action, and we still need to atone or make good for what we have done, if indeed that option is still open to us.

I’ve tried, I really have. I actually believed for a long time I had succeeded. I maintained polite relations with this person. I accepted a half-hearted apology. ‘I must have really hurt you and if I did I am sorry’, all the time looking confused about what one could possibly have done that was so bad, despite having been told probably hundreds of times over a decade.  This is a half-arsed apology in my book and merely becomes self-seeking and irrelevant when used to precede an attempt at reconciliation. But that said, I thought I’d accepted the apology and moved on. I was wrong. I’m still angry and the fact that they thought I was so stupid that I was going to give them another go at destroying me just makes it worse.

Some things I can remember as clear as day (mostly things I don’t really want to) and others I cannot recall at all. This is distressing because my children will remind me of things and I genuinely have no clue what they are talking about. It isn’t that they can expand and I go ‘oh yeah, I remember now’. It simply isn’t there in a place I can get to it.

I know I could go and see someone, get these memories back but if I have repressed good memories I have obviously repressed them alongside something not so good. What if the stuff I can’t remember is actually worse than the stuff I can? Do I want to deal with those and the inevitable fall-out that would occur?

What makes it worse is watching them come out of every situation smelling of roses, twisting the truth so they are the perpetual victim. So I cut the ties as far as I can and I try to remove them, expunge them from my psyche.

I’m not even sure why this is all coming up at a point where I have been away from the situation almost as long as I was in it. I want to cry as I write this but tears just will not come.

And so, forgiveness is just not in me for this particular person.

I hope it comes soon, I’ve had enough of them.

 

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The Power of …. ‘the ’70’s Method’

By on November 3, 2017
abuse

This is a bit of a follow on from an earlier blog  and is a bit of an appeal to the very small minority of people, mainly but not exclusively women, who have started to collate every small slight or uncomfortable situation they have faced (often from many decades past) and decided that this is ‘abuse’. I believe that this is diminishing the seriousness of abuse, and is going to end up making life a lot more difficult for victims of serious abuse who want to come forward.

Sorry, and I know it is an unpopular opinion, but a man looking at your legs on the bus is not akin to sexual assault, rape, or anything else.  It is at worst possibly a bit irritating.  Yes, women should be able to wear whatever they like and in places like the UK we can.  However, if you don’t like people looking at your legs or your tits it seems common sense to me not to put them on display.  It’s not about misogyny, rape culture or suppressing your sartorial style, it’s about dressing in a way you feel comfortable.   Saying things like, ‘I dress this way because I feel good’, is fine if its true.  However, if it makes you feel self-conscious it isn’t making you feel good, is it?  Essentially, you are just conforming to fashion norms and dressing it up as liberation.    So if people looking at your legs makes you feel uncomfortable either get over yourself or wear trousers.

The bottom line is that you can only control your own behaviour, not that of others, and no matter how ‘civilized’ we become, a heterosexual man is hard-wired to look at women.  It is how we reproduce our species.  That does not excuse bad behaviour; it does not mean he is free to touch you; that is assault and he can be arrested and charged for doing so.  However, glancing surreptitiously at a toned female leg isn’t a criminal offence.  Not yet at least.

But when is touching inappropriate?  Apparently when it makes someone feel uncomfortable.  How is anyone to know this if they are never told?  Why the hell stay silent at the time and then bring it up decades later?  For some reason, we as women have become both more vocal and strangely more passive.  ‘He fleetingly touched my knee in a pub’…hardly, the crime of the century is it? ‘He sent me a text and it made me feel uncomfortable’. I’m sure, but asking you out for a drink because he liked a picture of you in a corset (which you chose to make public in a national newspaper, incidentally) is hardly the same as an unsolicited dick pic. And so what if he is a lot older than you? Sleazy maybe; criminal, no. Yes, I am talking about Damian Green, the Tory Politician – who is now facing calls to resign, investigations and the like and is also looking at suing for libel. And yes, he’s a Tory and part of me inwardly smiles everyone one of them gets it stuck to them, but my personal feelings aside, these are still just allegations and he is already being hung out to dry.  This happens time and time again.

It is said that these sorts of minor infractions being brought to the fore can and do highlight a certain culture within some echelons of society – but they are not telling us anything we don’t already know.  We all know that some MPs can be sexist arseholes, we know the House of Commons has a male orientated culture, we know about the casting couch and we know that regardless of how many laws you pass, how much you highlight the issue of sexism, some men will continue to act like arseholes.  (So will some women, come to that).

Maybe we should just take back our own power as women and reinstate what I call  ‘The 1970s Method’.   I am sure other people my age will remember that this is essentially telling men who get out of line to ‘sod off’ in no uncertain terms.  Failure to comply would inevitably be met with a slap or a kick in the shins (if they were lucky) or a knee in the nuts (if they weren’t).

All this focus on the minutiae of social interaction is, I believe damaging to victims of abuse.  Not only that, it stops us being taken seriously and does not help the cause.  If was feeling cynical I would suggest that this underpins the reason why the mass media gives this type of person air time – what better way to provoke a huge backlash?

In all seriousness,  if I and every woman in Britain decided to take everyone who ever made us feel ‘a bit uncomfortable’ to court, the criminal justice system would be backed up for decades.

 

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Relationships

Can a Dream Help us Mend?

By on September 14, 2017

Following on from an earlier blog I got to thinking about our experience of dreams as a way to heal ourselves from psychological and emotional traumas.  This was inspired partly by conversations with numerous women all of whom have experienced some form of gas lighting/abusive situation and all of whom seem to have a similar set of dreams once they are free of the relationship concerned.   I wonder how many people out there (male or female) experience the same sort of recurring dream.

I realised a few months back that I do actually have  memory issues – both false memories (where I believed I did something that I actually didn’t do because I was constantly told I had done it) and also huge gaps in my memory throughout the period from around 1987-2001.  People say that something or other happened, I really have no memory of it at all.   Considering a lot of what I can remember is pretty hideous I have no wish to go delving into these bits of my brain.   Perhaps this is where the dreams come in.

The worst of these (worst as in I feel awful all day afterwards) is what I call the ‘nothing has changed’ dream.

In this dream I wake up in bed, look over and realise I’ve gone back in time. Somewhere inside  I know that I have a new life, but suddenly here I am.  Was that new life just a dream?   I feel sick to my stomach thinking I still have to extricate myself all over again.  The other party carries on ‘business as usual’ as if nothing is amiss yet deep down I know that I should not be here.  Worse thing is I also know that they know it too and are deliberately acting as if it is all a fait accompli, this is what is ‘real’, and in doing so they succeed in perpetuating my imprisonment in this new reality.

I can actually feel the helplessness of feeling stuck in a situation where essentially I am monitored and controlled and living at the behest of another individual.  I have a ‘dream hangover’ which lasts all day.

In the early days of freedom these dreams would occur at least once a month, nowadays I may have one every 9-12 months.  This is a vast improvement but considering I have been out of the relationship almost as long as I was in it and I still have some processing to do it is a real testament to the mage level gas lighting skills of the other party!

I am quite happy to let my dreams continue to repair any residual damage and have no wish to pick at the scab ‘in real life’.  There is something about the process of ‘the change’ and moving forward into my crone years that has given me time and space to really ponder a lot of this unresolved ‘stuff’.   I find writing these  blogs strangely cathartic and liberating and I hope they are of help to others who have been through similar experiences.

 

 

 

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Life | Relationships

The Long & Winding Road….to Avalon

By on September 10, 2017

Following on from an earlier blog on where ‘home’ is, I started to think about how I finally ended up here on the Isle of Avalon and not on the Isle of Wight where I started out. It is a bit of a convoluted journey which started in 1982 and continued until I finally moved here in 2009.

In 1982 a 17/18 year old me arranged with my older brother Nikki to take a journey to Glastonbury on his flash black 1100cc Yamaha. It was a pretty cold early spring weekend and back then it was a lot easier to just head off on a whim and pick up B&B accommodation on the way than it is now so we just hopped on a boat, left the Island and started off on our journey. We stayed over the first night in the New Forest, visiting Burley and a few other places and then hit the road the following morning for Salisbury, after lunch we almost got as far as Stonehenge before the sleet set in so hard we were forced to turn back.

So, I never made it.

Fast forward to around 2004, 9 house moves, one failed marriage, 3 children and a failed engagement later and I am not very blissfully single at this point. In fact I’m having a really bad time emotionally and I am spending a lot of time meditating and after subsuming myself into 2 pretty abusive relationships, trying to actually establish who I was/am/would be.

So with all the hideousness going on around me I wake up one morning and decide for no apparent reason that I’d really like to visit Glastonbury. Quick call to Nikki and an hour later I am on the boat and heading off up to Somerset. This turned out to be the first of many, many visits. I started to make connections in the area and pretty soon we were up in the town about twice a month on average.

During this time my relationship with my fiance was very on and off. One of my earliest memories of being here was visiting with people who would later become rather good friends and sitting in a wood around a fire, they were all having a great time, I was the rather silent, miserable cow by the fire. But no one actually seemed to mind, I was just left to get on with it and fire gaze to my heart’s content. They told me later that they could see I was having a hard time, and thought I could use the space. It was pretty refreshing not to have people constantly trying to cheer me up and stepping back to let me process all the stuff I really needed to get my head around.

As it turned out I kicked him into touch shortly after this and it was one of the best decisions I think I’ve ever made. Although it is easy to dismiss him as a waste of air and skin, I learnt a lot about myself and others from the mess of that relationship. I definitely grew as a person, and hopefully he did too although judging by his track record I very much doubt it. Maybe he just caught some awful STI and have his cock rot off. Either scenario works for me.

I was finally totally free to pursue my rediscovery of me, of my pagan beliefs and develop my own sense of self. I was excited to be able to take part in many pagan community celebrations for the first time in my life, including the raising of the Arch Druid of Glastonbury at Stonehenge, where I got to stand inside the stones for the first time since I was a small child. It was a truly magical time for me.

I continued to travel to the town and spend time with friends here for the next few years during which time I had occasionally considered moving to the area but there was still something holding me back. At a Lammas picnic in August 2008 I met the man who was later to become my husband.

Interestingly, despite the fact that he had lived here for decades our paths had never once crossed, this may be an interesting story for another time. I finally arrived moved into a small cottage in West Pennard late summer 2009.

Coming here changed my life in all manner of ways – that is another story for another time – and although my relationship with the place has definitely change I still feel this is where I belong.

 

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