WELCOME BACK

April 2016: After three years away from this blog I'm back. It was originally started so I could make sense of the madness that ensued after my marriage to a sociopath. Much has changed, grown and been created since then - including reclaiming my full birth name Melanie Pledger.
My voice has become stronger, and so has my mission. I'm here on this earth to share the life-changing magic that developed as a result of my personal journey overcoming abuse, abandonment, manipulation and betrayal. I've learned that many of the rules we've been taught about life are fundamentally wrong. They've been misunderstood by most, misused by some, and deliberately misdirected by the manipulators who live and breathe among us. I've also learned that it's easier and more enjoyable than people think to shift things around...
Now I know there was a reason for it all. So now I'm back to fill in the gaps. To share what I've discovered, and dispel the myths that don't serve us... I look forward to reconnecting with old friends, and discovering new ones.
Thank you for being here.
Mel xxx

Friday, 26 March 2010

Dancing In The Rain

SOUTHSEA, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11:  Raindrops...
I received a lovely email this week which ended with the following statement: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... It's about learning to dance in the rain and merely opening your hands to receive something better"

It couldn't have come at a better time, because yesterday was just 'one of those days'. They don't happen very often anymore, and when they do it always comes as a surprise. And while I've come through so many battles, I still don't always handle those sort of moments very well. Yesterday afternoon was no exception. It all kicked off with an email from my solicitor. One of the creditors is chasing particularly hard, and despite the fact that I've written to them to explain the situation (that I am going through a divorce, that the debt is a matrimonial issue, and that their debt is one of many that all need to be handled together) and asked them to freeze the account and address queries to my solicitor, they still insist on sending letters demanding payment and a financial statement. Crikey, if they had that they'd certainly stop chasing me as it's blatantly obvious that I have nothing whatsoever!

So, in my mind, I've already done my bit in letting people know what's happening. And also as far as I was concerned, I had explained everything in great detail to my solicitor - and I'm sure you'll remember the battles I had even hiring the right person! Someone I could trust, and who would be prepared to fight for me and with me. So it came as a bit of a shock when he emailed me with the creditor's latest demand, and said he thought I should find a debt specialist as this isn't his field! You could have knocked me down with a feather. Open mouthed and noticing the heat of anger rise in my body, I felt as though all my battles, my research, my hours talking with debt advisors had all been for nothing.

My solicitor had told me when we met that the debts were now to be handled as a matrimonial issue - and added that any advice I'd already been given by debt specialists had not taken that in to account. We'd already agreed a way forward, and I had fulfilled my part of the bargain by writing to each and every one of the companies who are owed money. So why, now, was he advising me to seek help from a debt advisor to deal with this one creditor? It made no sense whatsoever, and in fact could jeopardised the whole plan! Just as I thought I had a professional who was on side, understanding, and competent, I suddenly felt I'd been shunted right back to square one again. The anger subsided, and I was now left feeling ashamed, crumpled and very very small, and wondering again where I was going wrong.

It would have been all too easy at that stage to link together all my other 'failures' and really beat myself up properly. Trust me, it was very tempting.... and it was as I noticed the return of a familiar sneering voice in my head reminding me scathingly that I'll never win, who do I think I am, and just look at the mess I'm in, that I decided enough was enough. The tears of defeat were already pricking in my eyes, and storm clouds were gathering outside. But I pulled on my coat, shouted to Hamish, and set out for a walk.

Well, to be honest it started off as more of a stomp than a walk for me as we marched off towards the barque and across the fields together. Geoff had decided to join us as well. He's my ginger tom cat, and he hates to be left out of things. So it was no surprise when I heard him meowing, calling out for us to wait. I stopped with an exaggerated huff and shrug of the shoulders, hands on hips, eyes rolling and tongue tutting with "can't I get any peace around here?" going through my head (just think of Harry Enfield's Kevin and Perry for I'm certain that's how I must have looked). And I turned around to see him running towards me from around the corner of the lane. My face must have had the sulkiest expression in the world, but Geoff didn't seem to notice, and just tripped along happily towards us - and if a cat could smile, that's certainly what he'd have been doing. And there it was - just like that. My mood was instantly broken.

And I burst out laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Here I was, stomping around all alone, carrying my very own dark and thundery mood-cloud with me, and yet my two pets still wanted to be around me, just happy for some attention. They didn't care that I was in a filthy mood. That I was teetering on the edge of listening to that malevolent voice in my head and giving up on all the progress I've made. Nope, all they cared about was being petted and having fun. So I decided to join them. Even though it was raining, all three of us sat by the river bank, Hamish and Geoff taking it in turns to get as close to the water as possible without actually falling in, and both of them coming back for regular petting and cuddles.

What more could a girl ask for? Unconditional love and affection, beautiful surroundings that money just couldn't buy, and a whole world of possibilities stretching out before me. Who cared about a small creditor getting their knickers in a twist over in England? OK, so my solicitor had slipped up - but then don't we all do that from time to time? And just who was in charge of creating my great future in any case? Well, me of course. And stomping around in a filthy mood, just because of a small set-back certainly wasn't conducive to receiving something better in my life! No way, no how!

So I took a deep breath, held my head back, opened my mouth and I shouted. And I shouted. And I shouted. And I shouted. At the top of my lungs - just to make a noise, and clear out any unwelcome emotions that had become trapped inside me. Although I was a little hesitant at first, I soon got the hang of it and boy did it feel fantastic! Another good reason to be grateful I'm living in the countryside far away from anyone else. Mind you, the French wouldn't bat an eyelid - I'm known for being a bit eccentric!

Back home I corrected my solicitor, and re-confirmed the path I had understood we were following. I asked him to keep all creditors at bay, asking them not to write until they hear from him, and not to respond to any more letters or emails. Each one costs me, and gives me less to repay the debts. And he responded beautifully - with an apology and re-focus on the plan. Job done.

So last night I played the piano at full volume. I sang at the top of my voice. And I danced around the living room with Hamish in my arms (that poor dog has a lot to put up with!). And I went to sleep wearing nothing but a dab of perfume and a big fat smile as I contemplated the great future that is coming in to my already fulfilling life.
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Sunday, 21 March 2010

Happy Anniversary

It's only just hit me. And hit me like a steam train. I simply hadn't noticed it. And the sudden realisation sent shivers down my spine, and a whooshing sensation I can honestly describe as being how I would imagine an out of body experience to be. It happened just a few minutes ago. I'm still in shock. I was sitting out in my garden you see, soaking up the spring sunshine in the courtyard I'd been tidying earlier on in the day. Eager to finish the end of the novel I've been reading, and thoroughly enjoying the chorus of birdsong that surely confirmed the end of a long cold winter, I'd settled down on the wooden lovers chairs next to the area I grow my tomato plants. My dog, Hamish, was sitting happily in the other seat, and I was feeling pretty good about life. In the final chapters, the author raised the question whether, perhaps, things were just meant to be - that perhaps the characters in her story had been part of an intricate plan - call it fate or call it faith, wasn't it true that, in fact, everything always works out in the end? Her musing caused me to swiftly scan my life, so that I could gauge my response and perhaps add another opinion of my own.

And that's when it happened. I was smiling, you see, finally feeling content and generally at one with the world. Last night I'd shared a wonderful evening of fun, friendship, food and plenty of laughter with some wonderful people who are really now more family than friends. And today the sun has been shining - I've been out on my bike for the first time since my accident last year, and this afternoon I've been tidying the garden and planting seeds so that I may enjoy a rich summer of colour and perfume. I allowed myself to bask in the fullness of my life, and started to think about my new business and the wonderful future that I know is ahead of me. Absent-mindedly I was still scanning for any "life coincidences" in response to the question posed in my book.

And then BANG! There it was. Clear as day, bold as brass, obvious for all to see. Except I hadn't. With a loud and deliberate"Oh... my.... goodness!" (or words to that effect) my hands fell to my lap, the book fell to the floor, and Hamish jumped from his chair.

How on earth had I missed it? The day last year, when my life was changed for ever, is a date I thought I would never forget - Wednesday 22nd April 2009. For that was the day when I discovered the truth about the man I loved and with whom I had shared my life for more than a decade. As well as being the day that my entire reality came crashing down around my ears, the day when everthing I thought I could rely on as being real turned out to be nothing more than a sham - it was also, as you'll remember, the very day when I outlived my mother and, therefore, both of my parents. So it's a date that has been branded deeply in to my consciousness. I confess, I'd been worrying about how to best celebrate the anniversary this year. Should I go wild? Party like there's no tomorrow? Or perhaps drown my sorrows with a couple of close friends? I hadn't decided, but I knew I had to mark the occasion.

Over the past week I have been working on pulling together the very first team event for my new business The Top Banana Bunch. The leadership team now stands at 15 people, not including the teams within the team - if that makes sense. Everyone has busy schedules and work commitments, so it has been interesting working out how best to organise such an event - what it should entail as well as where and when it should be held. We started off with five dates to choose from. And with 13 out of the 15 people able to make one particular date, we settled on it. Yup. You guessed it. Thursday 22nd April 2010.

In my focus on creating a team day, I had totally overlooked the significance of the date we have all chosen. So now, as it all falls in to place, I am grinning like a Cheshire cat (I told you Alice has a lot to answer for these days!) and feeling the sunshine in my soul absolutely matching the warmth of the early evening rays.

What an absolutely perfect way to mark the anniversary, and finally wave goodbye to what has been the most testing year of my entire life. Yes, most testing, and at the same time most rewarding in so many ways. For I have discovered the richness of friendship. The strength in surrender. The peace in trust. And the comfort in the knowledge that no matter what happens, things always turn out well in the end.

So on 22nd April this year, with my new company up and running, instead of wondering as I was this time last year how on earth I was going to survive the shock and pain of betrayal, I shall be working and planning with my amazing team of Top Bananas how to bring magic and delight in to the lives of business leaders around the world.

What a difference a year makes eh? Happy Anniversary!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Through The Looking Glass

English: Alice stepping through the looking-glass
Life for me these days is really, well, a little as I would imagine Alice felt during her travels through Wonderland. And, quite frankly, I've given up trying to understand, control or predict how events are going to turn out. For whenever I think things are moving in a certain way or heading towards a particular destination, I am greeted with unexpected changes and surprises.

"Curiouser and curiouser" is a regular mantra for me these days, together with a wry smile and slow nodding of my head. And curiosity, I am finding, is an extremely useful and positive tool to keep fear at bay, no matter how menacing the apparent threat or danger of a situation.

Instead of last year's responses of panic or despair when hit with unexpected happenings, these days I find myself instead surrendering to an inner calm. A place of peace. A position of safety where I can watch the next chapters of my adventure unfold. Wondering about how it will all come right, and at the same time knowing and trusting that all is working out for my highest good.

It's when I recognise this process that I feel as though I must be in Alice's Looking-Glass House. For everything appears to be the same, and yet it isn't. What looks like a perfectly normal, run-of-the-mill sort of a day, is in fact a time where nothing is as it seems to be. I know I cannot change what is happening, and I also acknowledge that I've come through so much over the past year, that nothing now can threaten or derail me any more. I have survived - and more than that, I'm actually thriving now even in the face of adversity. So now, these days, I simply take a deep breath, relax, and wonder at the intricacies of the master plan that is surely guiding me through this maze of twists and turns.

Just last week, for example, I had wanted to give a spare key to a French friend of mine. She was having a rough time at home, and I had offered her a bolt-hole if ever she needed some space. I didn't have a spare key left, so instead I asked another friend to return a key she had been holding for me. Why? Because I didn't have enough money to pay for a new one to be cut, and also I doubted that I'd have enough petrol in my car to get me to the key cutters and back as well as complete the trip to the airport I had to make so that I could fly to London for business the following day. Yes, I'm totally used to living on the edge these days!

So, mission accomplished, I was working at my computer and minding my own business later that afternoon, when my friend appeared on my doorstep in tears. It had happened. She'd told her partner she needed some space, and had walked out of their home. Good job I had followed through with my offer and secured a spare key just a few hours earlier!

The following morning, after an evening of chatting and bonding, I had an instinct to check the level of my heating fuel before leaving for the airport. Here in rural France, my main source of heating is oil, and in this cold weather the boiler has been unusually thirsty as you can imagine! I was right to check it, as it was down to just a few inches left at the bottom of the tank. Any less and the boiler would stop. That was all well and good, I now knew the situation, but I didn't have the money to do anything about it. So, curiosity kicked in again, and I just wondered to myself how this situation was going to work out! I explained to my friend that she would need to call the fuel company and arrange for a delivery. I pulled out my two french bank cards - my current account and my credit card. I knew there was next to nothing to squeeze out of them, but told my friend to order 300 euros worth of fuel (my normal delivery is in the region of 1,000 euros) and see what they could get from each card. I smiled to myself, thank goodness she had turned up when she did, for I would have had no way to order fuel if she wasn't there.

While in the UK I had another amazing week of business meetings and opportunities. I couldn't help smiling at the irony of the situation. Here I was pitching The Top Banana Bunch to major companies - and winning work, by the way - and yet all the while not knowing whether the balance on my Oyster travelcard would actually allow me to get back home. Worry? No way. There's no point. Instead I smile, nod, and wonder at the magic of guidance and timing as the solutions unfold in front of my eyes.

It was the Wednesday morning when I had a breakfast meeting with another living Guardian Angel. This wonderful lady had offered to lend me a hand while I get the business going. And the hand she offered me that morning was financial. A cheque for 5,000 euros that I could put straight in to my French bank account and repay to her once I'm on my feet. Once again, I have been looked after, and made safe in the nick of time.

Back home, I find that my French friend had moved back home to mend her relationship, and that the oil had indeed been delivered. So it seemed that between them, the cards covered the bill! Remember, though, that like Alice's Glass-House, all is not as it seems. Because a couple of days later I received a phone call from the oil company to say that the cards had been refused. That few days of grace had meant that the heating had continued working while my friend needed shelter, and in the couple of days since my return the cheque had hit my account. So now I was in a position to order more fuel to see me through to next winter, and also pay the outstanding bill at the same time.

Timing. It's a wonderful thing. And I could never have planned for everything to work out so perfectly in the way that it continues to do. My job is just to relax and enjoy the ride.

At this moment in time, I am filled with awe and gratitude on a daily basis. I wake each day expecting surprises and miracles. And each day I experience exactly that - some days more than others, but every day something wonderful happens. I know, beyond any question of doubt, that I am not alone. That I am connected to something more powerful than I can ever begin to imagine. And that this connection is bringing people and opportunities in to my life at exactly the right moments, in exactly the right places, for exactly the right reasons.

I've said this before, and I think it's worth mentioning again. My everyday life, my surroundings, my situation, really haven't changed that much. The battles are still in front of me. The creditors are still chasing me for the debts that have been left to me to settle. Indeed, from the outside things appear much as they were a few months ago. But as for my inner world... well, it's like I've been transported to another country - perhaps even another planet, another galaxy! I simply do not recognise who I was in the days when I lived under the spell of my estranged husband. I've finally found the inner peace and contentment that I've been searching for all my adult life.

And you know what? It was here all the time. Within me. Just waiting to be found and welcomed in to my life.

I've been regularly told that I did some amazing life-changing work through the original Top Banana. Now I know with absolute certainty that the personal growth I'm experiencing means I can be much better than I ever was before. The Top Banana Bunch is going places, and I'm leading it there. And that only means one thing. Fulfillment, happiness, and an inner joy that shines like a beacon.

Oh yes, I am finally home.
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