This morning the little one declared she was going to have a lie in.
So I carried her through to my bedroom and put her on the bed.
Where she fell asleep
And when I got up and headed downstairs she told me off for making a noise and disturbing her.
So I came downstairs, made coffee, caught up online, started work.
And then just before 9 she trotted downstairs happily and had her brekkie
She had bed head
First lie in. Done. Aged 4 and a bit.
Yesterday on the plane to London I read a brilliant book by Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, called “Man’s search for meaning”. In it he examines that inner resources that differentiated between those who survived and those who didn’t. He developed a therapeutic model from it called Logotherapy.
One of the questions he likes to ask is “What stops you committing suicide”
It may appear a little harsh but it’s a pretty direct route into what the meaning is in our lives.
I have been pondering on what my meaning is.
If I would have asked myself Viktor’s question I do not have an answer.
All through my life I held the thought of suicide as a possibility that made living achievable. Knowing I always had an escape plan. When I went to university at 18 my plan was to kill myself. But I didn’t. I had every chance to but didn’t take it. Why?
When I left Uni I moved in with my future-hubby and became successful at work. There wasn’t a day went by where I didn’t dream of killing myself. But I never did. Why?
And then in recent years I changed things. I got help. The help transformed my life and has brought me to this amazing place. Why did I take action when I valued myself so little? Why did I get myself help?
I really have no idea. But I’d like to know.
So now as I look to the future at the cusp of the culmination of this transformation and I wonder what is important to me now I am no longer fighting to just stay alive each day.
Now I can truly live my life what does that mean. And there are some important questions that form part of that.
So this is where I am. It is a place of freedom of choice. Unconstrained by emotional hang-ups and triggers I can now think about tomorrow and what it means. I can choose what I do.
Imagine if you had the freedom to do anything you wanted to do what would you do?
“I have been abused…”
There is no handbook that tells you how to respond when you hear words like this from a child. In whatever way they tell you.
It's a shock. It's probably very scary. It may leave you flooded and hijacked by an emotional response.
It is unlikely that you will be thinking calmly and coherently if you are unlucky enough to hear those words.
But at the same time you have been incredibly lucky. Because there is a child that has trusted you enough to share with you the biggest secret they will probably ever have in their lives.
The courage it will have taken to ignore the mental and emotional pressure to keep the secret and actually speak out is equivalent to that of walking into something you know will cause you extreme pain.
And they have chosen you.
And you now have a chance that few people will get. A chance to respond and to help.
So what do you do?
1. Believe them. This is the most critical thing that you can do. Above all else, accept that what they are telling you it true. The very very small risk that they aren't telling the truth is worth it. And far easier to deal with the fact it was a lie than it wasn't and you didn't believe them.
2. Do not judge. When we are emotionally hijacked we can say crazy things we don't mean. I recently heard from a 50 year old man about his abuse as a young boy. His mothers response was "are you sure you didn't lead him on?". I am sure she didn't really believe that but can you imagine what that sounded like to the boy? Others I have heard of have felt so helpless they have asked the child what they expect them to do it about it. Do not judge. Do not say anything judgemental. A child is in the care of adults and is programmed genetically to do whatever is necessary to survive. Given free will and choice they would not choose to be abused.
3. Assess danger. Is the child in immediate danger? What can you do to get them out of that danger. This is pretty tricky this one. If you are a teacher at school the child will have to go home. If you are a parent and the other parent is the abuser you can't just walk out. Look at the options you have to minimise risk but whatever your options, let them know you are there and they can always talk to you and that you will do your best to help them. It is very likely they will be scared of repercussions. You are the adult - you can assess those more accurately than the child. In many cases the repercussions aren't what they have been led to believe. Honour their trust but don't let it stop you taking action.
4. Help them. There are a number of things that are likely to be bubbling in their heads. This may include : they brought it on themselves, if someone else knows about it they will blame them, it is their fault, it is shameful, their body responded so they must want it, now they've told someone then something will happen to people they love. There is an opportunity to stop these thoughts becoming facts that they live their lives based on. You can help them understand that it's the abuser to blame. That they have done nothing wrong. That our bodies are programmed to respond. That it is an adults responsibility to nurture and care for a child not the child's responsibility to please the adult. That it has no relationship to love.
Disturbingly, it is possible that a response to abuse can actually cause more long term emotional pain to a child than the abuse itself. Children try and make sense of their world. They take clues from the adults around them on how to do that. With our words we can either help them make sense and move on or we can create a ball of fear that remains locked inside them until they find help as an adult.
And if you are an adult who has been abused and still has the demons to battle because of it, know that it is always possible to overcome anything. You have been strong enough to get this far. There is help out there for you. Nothing needs to be the way it's always been.
If you think I can help you I would be honoured to have that chance. Just drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk.
At 11pm on Friday night I caught the sleeper train down to London to attend an event called the Questival. This is where Quest trained Cognitive Hypnotherapists come together to network, share ideas and learn new stuff.
Once more I caught the sleeper train down. I organised my travel to make sure I was only away on Saturday but unfortunately the options for travelling home on a Saturday are severely limited. London City airport shuts at noon on a Saturday and doesn’t open until noon on Sunday and there are no sleeper trains back to Dundee. I’ve decided people aren’t supposed to travel from London on a Saturday – only to it!
My cabin was ok though and on the way back I had power and free wi-fi (but no hot food which was weird!)
Some weird alarm went off at 2am which you expect in a hotel but not a train! I got very little sleep. Partly due to feeling frozen and only discovering at 6am when I got up that there was a temperature control in the room!
Breakfast was lovely but I could only manage the croissant which was a shame.
Anyway I arrived into Euston on time and then headed over to the tube to Baker Street. By 8am I was happily settled into Starbucks drinking a latte.
I wandered through Regents Park and to the college, having a chat to the hubby and little one on the way. A friend was taking her to a birthday party in the afternoon so I didn’t feel so bad about being away.
Breakfast was laid out for us in the college and pretty soon the room filled up with Questies (Quest trained Cognitive Hypnotherapist). It was great to catch up with people from my course and also to meet in person some of the people I’d spoken to online.
Oh and there was loads of hugging. It was great. I think I hugged more people on Saturday than I have in my whole life!
The way the day worked out, I really didn’t get much time at all to catch up with all the people I wanted to talk to. It was a real shame actually. The only train I could get home left at 6pm which meant I couldn’t stay for the evening event which I really would have enjoyed. It is unusual to be surrounded by 120 people and feel so comfortable and like, in some way, all of them are friends.
Anyway, soon we went into the lecture theatre to listen to a day that was broken into chunks.
Trevor Silvester talked about creativity and the conditions for thinking creatively. That got us all thinking. He also played this brilliant Kelly Clarkson song
and talked about how we could use it in therapy. There were quite a few tears in the room! One of the nice things about this video is it shows “Nothing Needs to be the Way it’s Always Been” sound familiar?
The next talk was from Russell Davis and Gordon Mullins on how Cognitive Hypnotherapy can significantly improve the chance of success when a couple has fertility struggles.
(Russell on the left and Gordon on the right)
I was inspired by their talks which both showed the wealth of knowledge and experience and were very emotional as Russell shared his personal journey in this space. I don’t think I could ever reach their levels of competence in this area but I do want to give people the chance to benefit from it. What’s nice is that the journey can be supported by downloads as well as face to face consultations. Russell has a website all geared up for this – just click on the picture below to find out more
The last talk of the day was from one of the worlds leading martial artists Geoff Thompson
He is a prolific writer and producer these days. You can see him there with a BAFTA that he got for a film he did about the death of his alcoholic brother. The BAFTA is very very heavy (he passed it round to us) Geoff said that the weight of the BAFTA represented the weight of fear he used to carry inside of him. Geoff has had a difficult path through life. He had lots of violence in his past as he coped with the effects of what happened in his life. These days he is a very spiritual person – channelling his fear into helping others. He uses his writing and his films to confront his fears so there is some hard hitting stuff out there from him. I can see how many people would be very inspired by him. He is certainly a fighter and has overcome some big demons in his life. For me personally, his approach doesn’t really fit in with my model of the world. I found myself wishing I could have the chance to help him as I listened.
Unfortunately I couldn’t stay to the end of his session because I had a train to catch and that also meant I didn’t get a chance to chat to my fellow Questies. There was an evening event but as I mentioned, transport was against me so I couldn’t stay for it.
So all in all it was a brilliant day. I feel really lucky to be part of something like this.
I caught a 6pm train from London
which left on time and got to Edinburgh early! I got an 11:09pm train from Edinburgh which was full of drunken yobs and stopped at every stop on the way to Dundee!
Eventually I got home around 1:30am and went straight to bed. I got up with the little one at 6am and after sorting her out I dozed on the sofa before heading to the cinema with her to see Nativity 2 ( I thought this was a horrendously bad film but she liked it!)
After an afternoon nap I felt a little more human so I took some stuff to the recycling, picked up some cat food (avoiding buying another bunny), took the little one to McDonalds for her dinner and then bought these pyjamas from Asda
She loved them so much she asked to go to bed early! So she went to bed happily at 6:30, I fetched a chinese and that was the end of an amazing weekend!
In the last 18 months everything has changed for me and when I looked back at that post I realised the letter would be very different now.
I am sitting down to write this letter once more.
I like you. I think you are a really nice person. And I know what you’re thinking “why would anyone like me?” but you’re just going to have to accept that I do.
I know it feels like you are broken. That there is something wrong with you. You did the right thing when you went into your head to hide. That skill you have developed there is going to get you through many years of your adult life.
You have done what you needed to do to survive and you’ve done an amazing job. Your brother hasn’t been through half of what you have and yet he has run away and is a drug addict. I know you resent him for leaving you but he can’t help it. He’s not as strong as you are.
But you know, this isn’t about you. Hard to believe I know when you see yourself as a common factor in all the years of your life but just think for a moment if you can – when you’re older and have your own daughter, how would you respond if she was treated in the way you have been? Would you tell her to try harder to not upset those adults all around her, or to work harder to please them? Would you tell her it’s all her fault? Would you tell her that she has something wrong with her and is impossible to love?
I know that’s what you believe about yourself but could you believe that about your daughter?
I don’t think you could because I know I can’t.
Because I know when I look at my daughter I would do anything to protect her. If anyone did even a fraction to her that they have done to you I would take great pleasure in destroying them.
You see it really isn’t about you. None of this has been your fault.
You’ve been unlucky. You’ve been brought up by people who have been too absorbed in themselves to care about you. And you are right, it really isn’t fair. But that still doesn’t make it your fault.
In a couple of years you will go to University and when you do you will realise that nice people exist. That there are people out there that will genuinely like you and there is one person that will love you. Let them. It’s ok. You are both likeable and loveable.
And you know all that strength and determination that you have had to survive so far? (trust me, to be the person you are despite everything has taken huge strength) Well that same strength can be enough to know that once you have left home, no one will have power over you again. You don’t need to protect yourself all the time. You are strong enough to cope with anything.
And one day you will realise that. One day you will realise that you can be whoever you want to be and that no one can control you any more.
You will feel truly happy and you will realise that I was right. You will realise that you are an ok person.
But don’t worry, when you do it won’t be too late. You will have wonderful people around you and you will really be able to enjoy it. You will also have the chance to help others. And I know you think about that already. I know you look at others who are suffering and want to stop their pain because you are too familiar with how it feels. Well one day you will be able to help people in ways that you could never have dreamed of and it will give you the biggest buzz ever.
So you are ok.
None of what you’ve been through is about you. It’s just wrong place, wrong time.
I’d be your friend. And I think you are really loveable. After all, I love you and I don’t give out love easily.
Take care and hang in there,
Dawn, aged 40.
The hubby has always loved his Kindle. We’ve both always been big readers and it made more books instantly accessible.
I was a latecomer. I liked having the physical book there. I’m the same with music – I still like having the CDs.
But when I won some John Lewis vouchers I decided to take the plunge and was instantly converted. It’s lighter than a book, the battery lasts forever and any time anyone recommended a book I could instantly buy it.
I also like the fact that the Kindle app is free for pretty much every device known to man and it’s intelligent too – if you read a book on your Kindle, then open the app on your iPad it offers to immediately synch to the same page as you left off. Now that is just clever.
And all this for a relatively low priced device.
So when the Kindle Fire HD came out I was encouraging the hubby to get it. For £189 for the top of the range model it seemed like a no brainer. It can play movies, has an app store and even has a little camera (although it only faces in one direction which isn’t much good!).
When it arrived it didn’t disappoint. It is a sexy little device
The screen is crisp and clear.
It has an app store where you can buy/obtain all sorts of little apps from games to Facebook, Twitter and even Skype.
People have complained about the adverts but the price of the device itself is so low in comparison to the bottom of the range iPad Mini that it is only reasonable that Amazon are just trying to get as many upsells as they can for people who have the device. After all, I am sure the rationale with the price point of the device is similar to mobile phones – the device is ‘cheap’ because the money comes from ongoing revenue.
So personally I don’t mind the ads.
To all intents and purposes the Kindle Fire HD is a beautiful device. It does everything you could possibly want and has even managed to improved the quality for reading books. You no longer need a case with a light or to be reading in a lit area.
An absolute top marks recommendation.
So why do I have disappointed in the heading?
Well because of one thing…battery life.
The battery life is appalling …and by that I mean no more than 24 hours before you have to charge it.
It’s totally chalk and cheese with the old Kindle which would last 1 month+ and certainly enough to take it on holiday with you instead of a suitcase full of books and not worry if you forgot to pack the charger.
Clearly, like everyone other than Apple it seems, Amazon’s touch screen technology just eats up battery life.
And for that reason alone, because it is such a key feature of a Kindle, I would say don’t buy the Kindle Fire HD. Because at the end of the day you want to read books on it. And the hubby reaches the end of the day and has to swap to his old Kindle (note thanks to the page synch mentioned earlier this is very easy to do) while the Fire charges.
So don’t do it peeps. It really isn’t worth it. And I’m gutted to have to say that.
If you’ve never known how something feels it’s hard to know what you’re missing.
And it’s hard to know whether you are there or not.
I have been on this journey for 18 months or so now. A journey of transformation or as someone described it “a metamorphosis”.
And I guess when you’re a caterpillar you look up at butterflies and think “gosh look how graceful they are, I wish I could fly”.
I have spent my life as a caterpillar looking on at the butterflies flapping around me and feeling like I was missing out on something.
And then things started changing. With each change I thought “wow, how good is this? I feel great”
Eventually I reached a point where I felt I had achieved everything I could. For the first time in my life I could answer “I am happy” honestly. I was happy with the path of my life, with my future and with the people around me.
I was happy. That must mean I am ‘there’. This is where I need to be.
And yet I was a still a caterpillar. I would still stare up at the butterflies longingly. I would watch people engage in conversation easily. I would watch as people said hello with a hug. I would watch as people laughed.
And I would watch people struggle too and found that I was relating to them far easier than the others.
I didn’t want to be a caterpillar anymore even though it felt like I was the best caterpillar I could possibly be. At the end of the day, I didn’t like being a caterpillar.
And so when you read about me forgiving myself, when you read about how happy I was, what you didn’t read was how much I still hated myself. Because even I didn’t realise that I wasn’t in the best place I could be.
I thought I was there.
And then a sequence of events showed me there was still something not right. A sequence of events that started with my 40th birthday and spiralled out of control from there.
Then I had more help and everything changed.
I became a butterfly!
And Oh My god – this place I am in now is amazing!
I didn’t realise it could be like this. How could I? I’ve never been here before.
I feel so good!
1. I am happy.
2. I like me. Really. I think it’s pretty cool being me.
3. I feel a sense of inner peace and calm where it used to be torrid
4. I feel powerful. I feel like no one can tell me what to do and nothing can touch me because I am cool with being me and how can anyone else have the right to override that?
5. I genuinely look forward to everything in my future. So much is possible when you aren’t held back by constant feelings of worthlessness.
6. I know I will lose weight now. Because I know my subconscious was keeping my weight on for protection and it doesn’t need to any more.
So this is where I am. This most amazing place where everything just feels right. I feel like I am not on alert any more. I am just being. And I can’t imagine anything more fun.
Well I was going to do a post on how well the bunnies are doing.
Every evening when I take the little one to bed we go and see the bunnies. We clean out the cage and give them fresh water and food as necessary. We top up the hay too.
They seem like happy little bunnies despite their traumatic start in life (the cat brought them in on separate occasions). The little one named them Clunk and Clank.
They had their injections and the vet eventually confirmed they were both girls.
Clunk and Clank had a happy life in a nice comfortable hutch
Clunk was the second that Spud the cat brought in and never seemed to settle as well as Clank. Clank was pretty happy to be cuddled and would have her ears pricked up when you visited.
Last night when I went to sort them out, one of them was upstairs so I picked it up for a cuddle. It was looking really freaked out and there was a funny smell about it. I put it back in the hutch and it just sat there.
I was concerned but put it out of my mind and carried on with the bedtime routine.
Today I realised it had been a long time since I told you how the bunnies are doing. They are now both fully grown.
So I went upstairs armed with the camera and found one of the bunnies lying dead in the hutch.
I am very sad.
I can take heart that it had a longer and more comfortable life than it would have if I had released back outside for the cat to catch again and eat. But I’m disappointed. I don’t know why it died. I hope the other one is ok.
I took a picture (sorry if this offends you but it is not a gory picture)
RIP little bunny