What's happened over the past couple of years?

What's happened over the past couple of years?
Come and find out about our life-changing work!
Update April 2018: It's been a while my friends - and such a lot has happened since I was last active here!

When it finally dawned on me that I had been systematically abused - and not just by one person - my whole world collapsed around me.

You see, I had always believed myself to be a strong person. Capable. Successful and somewhat sassy to boot. A fighter. Someone who could overcome any challenge, as I'd proven to myself since early childhood, time and time again. So the knockout thud of recognition that I had been a 'victim' hit me with the full force of a steam train, tsunami and earthquake rolled into one.

"How could that have happened to me? How did I let it happen? Why didn't I notice it? Why didn't I stop it, or at least speak out?"
...and then came an all engulfing darkness of shame. And then the deafening silence.

It took me years to come out of that place. Years of hard work, self reflection and excruciating pain.

Which was how, ultimately, Light Up was finally born.

Now this work is being experienced and shared by many - and is growing in numbers and momentum. And I am grateful.

Grateful not only for my own experiences, also for the fact that Light Up gives people the tools to escape from their shame and pain in far less time than it took me!

We are already working with trafficked women, abused children and traumatised adults, successfully guiding them back to completeness (without having to relive their horrors) in as little as two sessions.

People are waking up and finding their voices. I am a firm supporter of the #metoo movement, and every other group that sheds light on and offers a platform for people to speak out and seek a complete way of living.

Yes, there is darkness in this world. Yes, there is much that has been hidden away. And yes, now people are speaking out. Thank goodness for those voices! The quiet ones. The angry ones. The sad ones. The loud ones. All have their place. All have their unique message to share. All are warriors.

I am honoured to be in service, and to play my part in reigniting this beautiful world of ours. We are coming together now. We are gathering force. And I am glad.

Fellow warriors, I salute you. I commit to continuing to stand in this arena alongside all my brothers and sisters who know there is a better way and a brighter future.

Come and find out more www.dnalightup.net

In continued love, recognition and gratitude

Mel xxx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Lovefraud: Beautiful Birds

English: Feather of male Pavo cristatus (India...

Thank you for your kind comments after the Tigers post – I’m so glad that people are able to identify with what I’m saying. It kind of makes all the past ‘bad stuff’ worthwhile… you know what I mean? So again, thank you for letting me know what works – it means a lot to me.
This last weekend was my birthday and I’ve been wondering what to write for this week’s post. Do I talk about the celebration of birthdays? Or the festive season? Or perhaps the concept of rebirth and renewal? And then, all of a sudden, as I was consulting Google for a completely unrelated subject, a phrase that I had never heard of seemed to jump out of my computer screen:
“It’s the beautiful bird that gets caged”
Simple. Straight forward. Meaningful. Relevant. It’s a Chinese proverb and, as with so many ancient wisdoms, a whole story is conveyed in just a few carefully chosen words.
A Valued Prize
For me, it bears witness to the many times people have said on here (myself included) that we must have had something very special about us to make the sociopath want to control and possess us in the first place. We must have shone very brightly in order to attract a person who is only interested on winning. Someone who calculates to capture everything s/he can to make sure they come out on top. Surely it stands to reason that they would only be interested in ensnaring a valuable prize? Something that would be certain to give them the one-upmanship they crave so deeply?
And once again I am reminded to be thankful for all that I am – and yes, also for all that I was in the first place. Because, like all of us here, I must have been a worthwhile target. It stands to reason, doesn’t it?
Coming out of a sociopathic relationship (or any kind of abusive experience) the feelings of guilt, shame and self-hate can simmer and gnaw away inside, ever-defining the gaping hole that was once filled with something we believed to be love. At the same time, self-flagellation and whispering fury continue to eat away at our last remaining pieces of self-esteem “How could I have been so stupid!” “What made me so blind!” “Where have I gone so wrong!”
Sometimes the emotions explode geyser-like, full volume and highly coloured, and other times they stay rumbling beneath the surface. No matter how they come, at times they threaten to overwhelm us entirely… And that is where the sociopath, even if they are no longer in our daily life, is still managing to exert their power of manipulation. Or are they…? Are they really inside our head? Are they really dictating our thoughts? Are theyreally controlling our emotions?
We Decide – Day By Day
Yes, I agree, many times it may well feel as if they are… the thing is, though, it’s within our power to break free from the control-cage in which they’d held us prisoner. It’s up to us to decide what thoughts to think and what emotions to feel. Whether to lie down or stand up. Whether to give in or get out. These decisions are ours to make – and nobody and nothing can make them for us. And you know what? Every single moment of every single day we have the opportunity to choose who we’re going to be and how we’re going to live our life.
I know it can be daunting and at times seem impossible. I can understand how much it hurts and I can identify with the depths of pain and despair – both during and after such relationships. And I know it takes every ounce of courage and determination to fight back and come through – and I also know it’s worth it. Every clash. Every battle. Every small win. They all add up and they all help us to shine even more brightly than we ever did before.
For me, a huge part was looking back and honestly recognising my own value before I entered in to the relationship with my ex. It was critical to understand that I hadn’t been stupid, blind, dumb or worthless – as the proverb says, I must surely have had something pretty special about me in the first place, or he wouldn’t have wanted to trap me.
It wasn’t easy! Far from recognizing my beauty, there were times when I felt like a beaten up, washed out, brown and stubby-feathered excuse for a bird. My wings clipped, my voice vanished, I could sometimes hardly even find the strength to breathe. But, like the rest of us here, I did manage to keep breathing – and eventually I regained my strength. But it all came from a decision. From my decision.
It wasn’t a major life-changing future-defining “ah ha” of a decision. Far from it in actual fact. Nope, on a daily and sometimes a moment-by-moment basis, I decided I would find a way to survive. I would fight back and reclaim my life despite the overwhelming odds stacked against me. I would find my self-worth and appreciate myself for who I am. And slowly and surely I made steady progress.
Flying High!
I’m sure that many of you here can identify with what I’m saying, and I’m quite sure that many have had or are having tougher challenges than those I’ve faced. The thing is, though, each and every one of us is still here. Still breathing. Still carrying on. Still fighting back, whatever stage of the journey we’re on. And that, my dear friends, is what makes us such strong and shining examples of the human spirit. That is why our stories can educate and inspire others. This is how, as a group of people who’ve experienced the masked charmers and lived to tell the tale, we can set others free and prevent still more from being captured in the future.
Surely, you may be thinking to yourself, it takes a certain kind of person who would be willing to take that on board? Surely that kind of arena is reserved only for the brightest of souls, the strongest of spirits?
Yes, absolutely it does – of course! And… remember, only the shining people are caged and put on show in the first place. So yes, that’s you. You are and always have been a strong and beautiful bird.
Remember Obi Wan Kenobi’s warning to Darth Vadar: “If you strike me down, I shall become even more powerful than you can ever imagine”. Well, so it is for us. Because once we’ve been through the experience of being struck down or caged, and then we find a way to break free…? We become even stronger, brighter and more beautiful than ever before, flying high and singing at the top of our voices, our bright, vibrant colours shimmering in the sunlight.
To each and every one of you beautiful birds out there, I salute you my friends and wish you happy holidays and an abundance of love and blessings for everyone. Thank you for reading.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Lovefraud: Don't Think About The Tigers!

I am always fascinated by the way we use our thoughts and our language – both are extremely powerful tools, both have equally as much power to help us as to hinder us, depending on the way we use them. In the vast majority of cases, people have little idea of just how much control they actually do have over their experiences – and even less understanding about how to do something to positively influence how they’re feeling. And you know the strangest thing? Most people are so acutely aware of what they don’t want that they’ve forgotten what it is they do want – which is why so many remain stuck.
Not so long ago I was working with a lady who’d had some pretty rough experiences. She’d already told me that she felt unloved, unsupported and useless. The interesting thing about the session is what happened when I asked her to imagine her ideal life, when she could be do and have the things she said she wanted. She started off well, listing things like a loving relationship and a happy home, but in order to describe it better she explained the things she didn’t want:
“I really don’t want to stay in this job – it makes me feel as if I don’t matter” …hmmm… “I don’t like my house either, it’s too small, too untidy and I feel uncomfortable there” ….okay…. “My family is certainly not the way I’d like them to be! They judge me all the time, they make me feel useless – sometimes I wonder if they even notice me at all!”
And of course she went straight back in to describing in great detail how rotten she felt and how terrible her life was – even though she’d already told me earlier about the things that were wrong! Whenever this happens my inner smile grows wider, because I know beyond question that my coaching session is going to be a success. I know that I’m going to be able to help the person I’m with, and that in turn makes me happy.
So ok, you may be thinking, what’s that all about then? And what’s my point?
Internal Google
My point is this. The human brain works somewhat like a computer search engine. It is, if you like, our internal Google, and is extremely obedient to every instruction we give it. Our brain cannot differentiate between positive or negative. Good or bad. Do or do not. It just does. It has to find a reference in order to make sense of any situation or instruction it’s given, and our thoughts become our experiences. So explaining the things wedon’t want or telling someone not to do something, has exactly the opposite effect.
For example, have you ever witnessed this kind of interaction between a mother and child? The child is carefully walking across the room balancing a cup of juice. The mother, aware of the dangers, says “Don’t drop that!” The child looks up, loses concentration and… drops it.
As another example, how about I give you this direct instruction: Don’t think about the tigers. Do NOT think about the tigers. OK? Absolutely under no circumstance are you to think about the tigers – particularly not the pink tigers wearing bowler hats and wellington boots!
Now – what have you got in your head? I’ll bet you’ve got tigers of some sort. Some of you may even have pictures of pink tigers in hats and boots. And yet… what was my original instruction? It was to NOT think about tigers – but you did! You thought about exactly the things I asked you not to think about – because your own internal Google had to find a reference in order to make sense of what I was saying.
It’s like the mother and child scenario – by telling the child not to drop the drink, guess what? The drink is dropped – because that’s what the child’s internal Google search engine found in response to the mother’s instructions.
You Can Choose
None of this is rocket science – some of the best things in life are usually incredibly simple. The thing is, though, I’ve discovered that very few people actually grasp the fact that although they may be striving towards something positive, because they’re so clear about what they don’t like about their life, they’re unconsciously keeping themselves stuck in the very place they say they don’t like!
When I first learned about this idea many years ago, I was surprised about how tricky it was for me to actually list the things I’d like to have in my life without slipping in to the trap of describing the things I didn’t like. This was the kind of dialogue that went on in my head:
“I’d like a home in the country, where my son is away from the London fumes because it makes him sick”
Can you see what I was doing? I was instructing my thoughts to bring up the images of my son being sick – and thereby messing with my dream to live in the countryside. Doh! So I’d change it:
“I’d like a home in the country where my son is healthy and happy” – and once I was clear on that, I’d make it even stronger by turning it into an affirmation:
“My son and I are living in a beautiful home in the country, and we are healthy and happy”
For a long time I would have internal tussles as I gradually learned to train my thoughts to concentrate on the things I chose to bring in to my life. And guess what happened? As my thoughts became clearer, and my internal Google kept searching out the good stuff – I automatically felt happier. Yes, even before I achieved the things that at that time were just a dream. And because I felt happier, I was more open to positive opportunities and more able to take action as a result. Incidentally, we moved to a beautiful home in the country less than six months after I started monitoring my thoughts.
You’ve heard the phrase “be careful what you wish for”…? Well, so far as I’m concerned, every thought we have, every word we utter, is a wish – and a confirmation that this is indeed the wish we have chosen. So that’s why I so consciously do my best to choose exactly what I say and what I think.
Because I am certain that our thoughts really do influence our reality – and no matter what has happened, or who is trying to control us, nothing and nobody can ever control our thoughts. For me, it was the conscious freedom of my thoughts that helped me to heal my pain, and it’s that same conscious thinking that now continue to help me create the life of my dreams.
Hey, I don’t get it right all the time – far from it. And I also have my gloomy times as you already know. The thing is, though, by remembering about the tigers, I can pull myself back on track and get my thoughts and feelings back in gear. And you know what? It works.
As for that lady I talked about at the beginning of this article? Well, once I’d explained about the tigers and we’d done a couple of exercises together, she was totally able to imagine the life of her dreams in absolute detail. As she described it to me, her face lit up and her entire body lifted. She left the session looking younger and taller – and since then she’s reported back about some amazingly positive shifts she’s already experienced.
So my Lovefraud friends, until next week, just remember… don’t think about the good stuff… do NOT think about the good stuff! Certainly don’t even consider all the wonderful things that are coming to you right now…
You see? It does work doesn’t it?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Lovefraud: Get Out Your Rainbow Colours!

Many months ago, a dear friend of mine sent me a card with these words on it:
“You, whose day it is, get out your rainbow colours and make it beautiful!”
Traditional Nootka Song
 I still have it sitting on my desk because it always makes me smile and, when I need it, gives me a bit of a jolt as well! It’s come in particularly handy over the past few days because, for whatever reason, they’ve been just some of ‘those’ kind of days. I’m sure you know what I mean. They’re the days when, no matter what, it just seems there’s a storm cloud following – not necessarily in full storm mode, maybe just moody and threatening. Either way, there’s a kind of heaviness and flat feeling that just sits there… you know what I mean?
The thing is, for me there has been no particular rhyme or reason behind it. The huge battles are finally behind me so, technically, surely in fact, there should be nothing to feel flat about… should there…? I learned long ago that the ‘why’ questions merely serve to stifle growth and create paralysis by analysis. So rather than plough through the countless possible or impossible reasons as to why I may be experiencing this temporary gloom, I’ve stopped asking things of myself in that way. Because, if I step back and think for a moment, I already have the answers. It’s been a long and bloody war, and while my life is unrecognizable compared with just a short while ago, there are parts of me that are bound to still be feeling pretty battle-weary! So instead of questioning why, it’s just about accepting these emotions exactly as they are – because they’re just another expression of me. And it’s ok.
 What’s In A Question?
But, hang on there a minute, though. Am I saying that there is no value in asking questions? Am I suggesting that it’s better to just bury my head in the sand and carry on regardless? Am I implying that self-exploration and discovery is worthless…? No, I most certainly am not! But what I am saying is that the way in which we do things can deliver a whole array of completely different results. Do you remember the old 80’s song by Bananarama and Fun Boy Three? Well, in my personal experience, it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it that determines our results.
So – instead of asking myself why I was feeling a bit under par, I decided to focus on what might help me to feel better. It didn’t mean that I ignored how I was feeling – far from it. In actual fact I took the time to explain to my reflection exactly how I was feeling (without asking myself to justify “why”) and allowed a couple of tears to fall in the process. I didn’t use the exercise to go even further in to a ‘downer’ I just used it to accept the way that I was feeling and to reassure myself that it was ok. “Yes, I’m feeling a bit low, but hey, that’s ok! It’s just how I am in this particular moment – all is well!” It sounds such an easy thing to do, but trust me, it’s taken me years to perfect that skill!
I decided that something that could help would be to talk with people I knew would understand. One such person was a friend and teacher (thank you, you know who you are) who told me about a book called “After The Ecstasy, The Laundry” by Jack Kornfield. He suggested that perhaps because of all the huge positive opportunities that have been coming my way over the past couple of weeks, perhaps dealing with the day-to-day normality is partly responsible for my drop in energy. You know what? I think he’s right. And taking that on board helped to settle some of the spinning in my head – and I happily acknowledged the increased peace that happened as a result. Remember that I had directed myself to find out how I could feel better, rather than why I was feeling out of sorts? That served me well because when these more positive sensations started to grow, I was more able to accept them rather than question them for their appropriateness or my worthiness. Does that make sense…?
Creative Juices
Another thing I decided to do (inspired by the card I talked about at the beginning of this post) was to get out my art materials. Painting and drawing is a hobby I have enjoyed since I was a child – art was my subject after sixth form, although I couldn’t complete my degree because I fell ill. For many years my art stuff has lived mainly untouched at the bottom of an old wooden chest. Today, though, for the first time in a long while, I felt inspired to do something creative. And this time I made the conscious decision that I was doing it for me. I would not beat myself up or feel guilty because I ‘should’ be doing something else worthwhile. Nor would I judge whatever creations came out – good or bad. Nope, instead I would just enjoy the drawing and painting for what it was. I decided to feel good about what I was doing, and good about myself as well.
So I got out my rainbow colours and decided to make my day beautiful. And you know what? Just as Bananarama sang, it wasn’t just what I was doing (painting) it was how I was doing it (with the intention to feel good) that I think helped me to produce some pieces today that I’m really pleased with! So now, not only did I feel good while I was creating, I can also look at my pictures and feel pleased with the result – a constant reminder that today “the girl done good”. Double whammy – bring it on!
You know when things just ‘fall in to place’…? Well, as I was checking the source for the quote I started this piece with, I found that there’s a song that uses those very same words. It’s by a group called Wonderful from the album “Wake Up To Dreamland” – if anyone’s interested this is the link to their site, and the song is track number 5 “Rainbow Colours”
So come on, sing a long with me:
“Hey you, whose day it is, get out your rainbow colours!”
Final Thought
You know I like to encourage people to stand up and join in with the journey? Well I read this week that in order to inspire others we do not have to be consciously healed or whole. I read that in order to join the band, to speak up, to have a voice, to let others know that they’re ok and they’ll come through, the most powerful thing is just to share what’s happening for us right now. To share honestly and authentically. To tell it as it is – warts and all – to the level that we are comfortable with. And it struck a chord. Because I believe that this is what we all already do on this site. We are all sharing our stories and sharing ourselves. I do believe that we are already making a difference. And I also believe that the more we consciously band together with the intention of bringing more people along on the journey, well, then I think we can fully expect miracles. Don’t you?
Thank you, and with love.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lovefraud: It's Up To All Of Us Now

Wow, last week’s course with Dr Robert Hare was absolutely amazing!  A huge eye-opener on how offending psychopaths are measured and dealt with in the criminal justice system – and also an insight in to the astonishing man who has given so much to so many of us. I’m planning to cover more about that in future posts…
This week I’d like to talk about another subject that came up last week. It was also spelled out loud and clear in the Fishead movie that I know many of you have seen. It’s the point that, even though it’s widely acknowledged that a psychopath cannot ‘get better’ (and therefore it stands to reason that we cannot change the way they behave) it’s also true that the vast majority of the population are inadvertently supporting these types of people as they continue inflicting damage on individuals and on society itself.
I know… that was a pretty strong statement to make. Believe me, it’s not one I make lightly.
The movie, Fishead, made a point that I found absolutely fascinating. Talking about famous psychopathic leaders, it invited us, the audience, to consider whether it is solely the psychopath who is responsible for the bad things that happen. Couldn’t it also be argued that it is the rest of us who are also in part responsible, because we are allowing the destructive behaviour to continue? Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Stand Up, Speak Out
I had to agree – it made perfect sense to me. In particular, I could identify with this from my years of experience working with teams and individuals in my professional career. Too often people will choose to keep their heads down, say nothing or let things wash over them in order to keep the peace. They’ll smile and say that everything is ‘fine’… Despite the fact that they may be desperately unhappy with a situation or a person they work with! Everything is far from fine. And no, it’s neither OK nor right that people should be expected (even encouraged!) to carry on regardless. This isn’t what the human race is about! This isn’t how we’ve made so much progress! This isn’t how it’s meant to be! My job, in those instances, is to encourage people to speak out and find a way to openly and honestly address issues in a healthy way that benefits them as an individual as well as the wider team. And it works. Every time.
It was the next part, though, that really made me sit up and take notice. Because just a few moments later, the film explained what percentage of the remaining population would need to do something different in order to have an effect on the rest. Before the answer was given, I had a stab at guessing what the figure would be, and felt confident that they would say around 20 – 30%. But you know what? I was totally wrong. The film said that it would take just 5% of the population to wake up and make a stand against the unacceptable – even just the small things – to make sociopathic behaviours that much harder to stick. Just 5% of us… that’s all. Just that small amount to stand up to actions we know are wrong. To say “no” when we’re not happy. To demand a change when something goes against our values. Because when one of us starts standing up for what is right, then it encourages others to do the same. It wakes people up. It gives people permission to speak out and stop tolerating stuff that is harmful or hurtful to ourselves and to others.
“Having good morals” somebody said in the film “is contagious – just as much if not more so than bad morals!”
The thing is, though, while we block our instincts, shut down our emotions, and glide around in a pretend bubble of “everything’s fine” we are providing the perfect breeding ground for predators. They’re free to fine-tune their approach, hone their skills, and continue with their actions against humankind because we do nothing to stop them or at least ‘call them’ on what they are doing.
Behaviour Breeds Behaviour
Yes, this is a scary world. It is also a world of opportunities and magic. A world where we can make more of a difference than most of us realize. And, in my opinion, the more people who become aware of how little is necessary to make a massive difference, more will join our growing army of fighters determined to do something to stop the predators, warn others against them and help those of us who have already been hurt by them.
It doesn’t take much you know. It really doesn’t. From my own experience, I know that as I have become stronger at simple things like setting boundaries and saying no, then my perspective of the world and, therefore, my experience of the world continues to change for the better. I feel more confident, and more in control. My heart is more open and I can clearly see with love and kindness. Each day I am more joyful, and each day brings more wonderful surprises. Did anything change on the outside? Does it mean that I have managed to rid the world of people who would do me harm? No, it doesn’t. It simply means that what I am now allowing in to my world is a deliberate and conscious choice – and I no longer stand for any kind of nonsense.
Can you imagine what would happen if more of us took the conscious decision to say no to anything that wasn’t useful or pleasing in our life? Can you imagine how inspiring it would be to others? Can you imagine how wonderful things could eventually become – and how impossible it would be for sociopaths to thrive as they have been…?
My friend Rachel pointed out when I was telling her all about last week’s course “Well, we can’t keep all the psychos locked up – so we’ve got to learn how to fight against them!”
So I did some simple sums in my head. Granted we don’t know for sure, but let’s say that 1% of the free population is psychopathic. We all do know for sure that these people will all have many victims – most running in to double figures when you take in to account that they may have hurt colleagues as well as friends and family, let alone the mega-sociopath who may have hatched a scheme that defrauds hundreds or thousands! So, for argument’s sake let’s say that if each has ten victims, then at least 10% of the population has had personal experience of a psychopath – regardless of whether or not they recognize what they were dealing with. That doesn’t necessarily matter. What matters is the fact that they have been hurt. That in some way (or many ways) they have experienced the destruction that these individuals continue to wreak on us, their unsuspecting victims. The original nice guys who naturally choose trust over suspicion.
It Only Takes 5%
So, what do you think might happen if just half of those people could learn how to re-set boundaries? How to speak out? How to stand up? How to reclaim who they are? How to consciously choose a life that’s filled with happiness and positive experiences… ? We’d have the 5% that the film talked about and, as I’ve already said, it’s just as simple to copy the happy stuff – if not easier in fact! The good stuff, the positive results, can be hugely contagious. What chance would the baddies have in such a positive environment where people would no longer stand for negative behaviour? Of course I can’t prove it… but I’m pretty sure that they couldn’t survive.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because I feel it’s important. It’s up to all of us now. We all have the power to heal and to make a difference – no matter how impossible it may seem at times. Yes, I know from experience that it isn’t easy. I also know that we are all at different stages of our journey and I also acknowledge that not everyone will be interested in reaching out any further. It doesn’t matter. Because either way, all of us here have first hand experience of “the dark side” – we know what it means and we understand the dangers. And our numbers are growing.
I believe that we are the ones who can band together and make a real difference. From where I am standing, it is our painful experiences that make us authentic, giving us the hard-earned power to understand and empathise at the deepest level. We’ve been there, seen it and got the T-shirt, and perhaps have more reason than others to make sure that we find a way to stop these people continuing to hurt us and others.
What do you reckon…? ;-)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Lovefraud: Reclaiming Who We Are

I’m so glad that so many of you found Fishead useful. It’s yet one more resource, one more educational tool that can only help to highlight the cause about sociopaths. This week I am on a training course run by Dr Robert Hare, so next week I’m sure I will be writing about my experiences.
Today, though, I felt it appropriate to share something of my own experiences following the aftermath of my relationship. It’s a post that was written on the 19th June 2010, fourteen months after I discovered the truth. It was a time when I’d really begun to make progress. I had survived (probably the most important thing at the time!), I knew exactly what I was dealing with (in terms of the personality and the issues he’d left behind) and I knew who my friends were. I had re-started my business and I was determined that life was only heading one way – better and brighter.
I talk a lot about the importance of reclaiming ourselves. About the healing qualities of accepting who we are in our totality. For me, it hasn’t been an easy journey. It’s taken focus and a stubbornly held belief that I deserved a better life to push me through the fear and uncertainty and allow me to embrace who I am to the full.  But boy it’s been worth it!
Just last night I was with a fellow delegate, who asked me on a scale of one to ten how happy I was with my life at the moment. I thought about it – not for long – before answering with a confident “nine and three quarters!”
At the time of writing this post, I had no real ‘proof’ of how my life was going to turn out. I had no ‘guarantees’ that things would work out well. But I DID have a deep down feeling (cultivated over months of telling myself that all is well despite the external circumstances) that there was something much better waiting for me. At the same time, I was terrified. I was heading in to unchartered territories, and the feelings of fear were sometimes overwhelming. But I did it – and I’m so very glad. Because now, less than 18 months since that post, my life has changed beyond recognition.
Yes it took courage. Yes I had to stand strong. Yes I had times of doubt. But you know what? In hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing. I hope this piece is helpful.

The Mouse That Squeaked
…because I sure don’t feel like roaring. I’m scared, you see. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not scared of what’s happened – nor of the battles I know are ahead of me or the constant waves of challenges that face me on a daily basis.
No – I’m not afraid of those, because I’ve faced things like that before. You see I know how to deal with them. I know how to be. I know how to act. I know what’s expected. I know how to get through. So no, I’m not afraid of those.
But there is something else that is building. Something else that is gathering strength. Becoming real. Demanding attention. Developing an identity. Something I have ignored – or perhaps been all too acutely aware of – for longer than I care to remember.
And now this thing. This energy. This entity (is it any wonder I was so terrified at the film Poltergeist for goodness sake?) seems now to be demanding space. It’s gathering form. Sound. Expression. And suddenly, those around me are echoing its very essence. Which frightens me. Because it tells me that this internal fear… this hidden doppelganger… this hideous nightmare that lives within me is about to be exposed and exorcised.
Bloody hell. I am about to be in the position where I HAVE to face my fears – whatever they might be. And you know what? Deep down I already KNOW what they are. Perhaps we all do. I can’t know that for sure. I DO know, however, that with each passing experience, each month, each year, each day, each living moment… I know I’m moving closer to freedom I’ve craved for so long. And I also know that this particular fear is the one that’s most debilitating.
Because I’ve discovered through this long journey, that the one thing that I have allowed to hold me back, the one fear that I’ve so far failed to overcome, the one thing that I’m actually afraid of…. is…. me!
I’ve realised I’ve spent so many years protecting myself – starting with the first time my world shattered when I was just four years old and gaining more and more strength with each additional body-blow, that I’ve forgotten who the real Melanie is. And over the past year or so as each of my barriers have been falling down (well, annihilated would be a more accurate description – with a full demolition gang and explosives in actual fact) well then the real me has been getting closer and closer to the surface. And I’m now at the point of no return, because the little vulnerable me that has been buried away for so long will no longer be ignored. It’s her time now. She’s gaining strength and is demanding to be noticed.
And I’m scared. Because I don’t know who she is. I don’t even know whether I’ll like her. I don’t know whether she’ll like ME either. And I don’t know how she’s going to impact on my life, and what new changes it will mean. Because surely this is indeed the herald of yet more change.
I had built her a castle you see. A fortress. To keep her safe and protect her from harm. I trained the best soldiers to fight for her, and dug the deepest widest moat to keep harm away. And it worked very well. People admired the strength and beauty of the castle I’d built – it’s served me well and I’ve been perfecting it for over 40 years. But now it’s crumbling, and now the princess, my precious little girl who lives inside, wants to come out and live in the real world. And I cannot stop her – and I’m scared.
I’m scared in case she’s not ready. In case it’s too soon. In case she gets hurt – or worse. How will she survive?
I’m scared because I think she may feel I’ve abandoned her. That I’ve betrayed her trust. I worry that although I locked her away so long ago for her own safety, she might be very angry with me. She might be furious in fact! Do you think she’ll ever forgive me? I don’t know…
And I don’t know how to welcome her either. I don’t know how to let her in – or let her out. And I don’t know where to turn. I just know that the increasing restlessness within my soul, the physical churning in my stomach and the constant electrical fizzing in my mind means that the time is near when I can no longer put off the inevitable.
My friends know what’s happening – I can sense it in the way they’re responding to me. The little nudges forward, the reassurances that I’m on the right track, together with the exploration of new connections – deepening of existing friendships and the influx of new ones. They are all guiding me forwards. For they are now my army of soldiers.
So now I must give up my castle. I must walk forwards, move free from the rubble and trust that this new world is ready for me.
I’m scared. But I’m doing it. Please catch me if I fall.

(With love and blessings to everyone here on Lovefraud – Mel xx)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Lovefraud: Sociopaths Can Only Talk The Walk

This week I have been reading Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test. It’s been on my list of ‘must reads’ since it came out earlier this year, and just a couple of days ago I downloaded it on to my Kindle. I finished it within 24hours.
Jon Ronson is a British journalist who, among many other things, wrote the film Men Who Stare At Goats, which was made in to a movie starring George Clooney and Ewan McGregor. Jon interviewed my friend Mary Turner Thomson (author of “The Bigamist” detailing her marriage to the sociopath Will Jordan) and became fascinated with the subject of psychopaths. He subsequently attended Dr Robert Hare’s training programme to understand the PCL-R checklist that many of us on this site are only too familiar with. Ronson’s book explores the diagnostic methods for identifying personality disorders and details his own experiences interviewing people who scored highly on Dr Hare’s checklist scale. It’s a fascinating read – no surprises for those of us who have been there and seen it – and I am just glad that he has provided us with another resource that can be added to the list of useful educational tools.
I am delighted to tell you that I will be attending that very same course next week. I am hugely excited about the prospect and am very much looking forward to meeting Dr Hare himself so that I can thank him for helping me in my personal journey to reclaim my life while (just!) keeping my sanity. This is why I have once again been devouring further material on the subject. And this is how, on Dr Hare’s website, I came across a fascinating new film that explores psychopathy. It was released on 11th September this year and is called Fishead.
Fishead – The Movie
There is an ancient Chinese saying that says a fish rots and stinks from the head, which is how the makers of this movie settled on the name. It relates to the heads of industry, as well as to the human brain – which is arguably rotten in the case of psychopaths. The film explores the idea that our society is being progressively more controlled by sociopaths, as well as the suggestion that our increased use of medications such as anti-depressants is contributing to a manufactured set of psychopathic traits. Decreased empathy and reduction of emotional responses are, of course, side-effects of drugs that are designed to numb emotional pain – although I must say I had never thought about it in the way that the film portrays. If you are interested in exploring the movie and its makers, you’ll find all the details at www. www.fisheadmovie.com  The film is free to watch, you just send off to them for a password.
So, anyway, all this additional material has been sparking new thoughts and prodding at old ones as well. And I am reminded of the expression “walking the talk”. Yes, it may be said that it’s now a well-worn cliché, and, for me it is still a short accurate description of authenticity. I myself know full well when I am walking my talk – and over recent years, it has been that approach that has pulled me through some of the darkest periods of my life!
As I am now re-exploring the workings of antisocioal personality disorders, it struck me that the sociopath can only ever talk the walk. They can never, I repeat never, walk the talk in the way that you and I can. I’ve heard other phrases like “they know the words and not the music” and the idea that “they can only dream in black and white” – but to me, now, when I think of “talking the walk” it describes my own experiences absolutely to a tee.
Just last week I met up with a client I am now proud to call my friend. This lady came to the conclusion that she could no longer thrive in the company where I met and have been working with her. Describing the place as“somewhere that seeks out and silences of gets rid of people who care” she has now moved on to another company that communicates authenticity at a human soul level. Not through some well thought out set of words that purport to describe the company values. Not through a carefully crafted website. Not through flashy promises of a golden career. Not even through white-teethed hand-shakes and a swanky dinner to seal the deal.
No, this company has actually been walking the talk. My client (I’ll call her Sarah) has already experienced the heartache and frustration of working within an organization that says one thing and does another. She knows first hand what it feels like to be encouraged to stand up and stand out, and then be shot down for having an opinion. She knows the debilitating confusion of being undermined, undervalued and pushed to the limit – for me, it’s just a shame that she had to experience that in order to fully appreciate the difference. The good thing is, though, that from now on she will settle for nothing less than an environment where she is valued and can make a difference. Never again will she allow herself to be belittled or underestimated. I absolutely believe her, and I’m glad.
“Do you know what Mel?” she grinned after telling me a particularly shocking account of a senior director’s inability to demonstrate compassion for his team “this new bunch wanted to know my birthday just so that it could be marked off as a holiday – on top of the usual holiday allowances!”
It doesn’t take much to help a person feel motivated. It takes a whole heap more to knock a person down. And it can take a huge amount more until we are prepared to move on and walk away.
People like you and me, you see, will automatically judge other people by the same set of values and behaviours that are naturally to us. Like us, people by nature tend to be forgiving “Oh, that’s ok, it’s just the way s/he is sometimes. It’s no big deal!” we might say when somebody does something that is upsetting to us or to others. “S/he’ll get over it, let’s just give them a chance!” And this is how the deliberate manipulator continues to win their games. This is how they keep on going, parasitically sucking the lifeblood from people (and organizations) just to fuel their personal whim – whatever that may be at the time. And because we naturally judge others by how we are ourselves, we cannot begin to comprehend that somebody else is playing by a whole different set of rules.
Powerful Experiences
The sociopath may be an expert at mimicking and manipulation, but s/he will never ever have the same richness of experiences that we can enjoy on a daily basis. They will never know what it feels like, what it reallyfeels like to fall in love for example. To feel genuine friendship and connection with another human being. To experience joy, fear, sadness, peace, excitement and the myriad of other emotions that are at our disposal.
They may well think they are clever. I’m sure they think that they have one over on us because they can talk the walk to such a professional degree that they continue to control their willing targets. But you know what? Once we know what we’re dealing with, once we recognize the subtle gaps in their shows of emotion and understanding, then they have lost their power.
Yes, it’s a living nightmare working through the pain and confusion that is the aftermath of a sociopath’s influences. But you know what? So far as I’m concerned, I’d walk my talk a million times over rather than be doomed to the sociopath’s empty existence of gray numbness. And the more people who experience that void – through work, relationships, family, friends, or the growing educational resources – the more of us can join together and make a stand against these empty souls.
I don’t doubt there’s a battle ahead. And at the same time I am  filled with confidence that together we can make a difference. I’m ready, and looking forward to exploring opportunities to increase our army. I’ll let you know how I get on with Dr Hare…

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Lovefraud: Because Shift Happens!

Shift happens all the time – and when it does, boy it can knock us off balance can’t it? My mother used to tell me that the only constant thing is change – she didn’t tell me that it was probably one of the most impossible things for which to plan. She also didn’t tell me that it could arrive at any moment and that whether or not you’re ready, it sure is going to have an impact on your life!
It would seem that some of us have experienced more ‘shift’ than others. Some prolonged ‘shifty’ periods, and some shorter moments where the time may be less but the shift can be much more potent. Yes, there are indeed varying degrees and innumerable differences in our experiences – but we certainly know when it happens. Or, as I once read in a magazine “We sure as heck notice it when the shift hits the fan!”
We all deal with things in different ways. For many years now, I have believed in the notion that it’s not what happens to us that helps us grow, it’s how we choose to respond that makes the difference. It’s our responsibility; our ability to respond that determines whether or how soon we can find and welcome the gift in any given situation.
Billy Connolly Live In London
This weekend I was luck enough to see Billy Connolly live in London, in aid of Leukemia and Lymphoma Research. For those of you who may not have heard of him, Billy is a famous Scottish comedian – and an accomplished musician and actor to boot. Known as “The Big Yin” ('The Big One' in Scottish dialect) he works tirelessly for charities having endured a particularly difficult childhood himself. Billy is a big man with a big character and strong opinions. His language is hugely colourful (to put it politely!) and his humour is often a little on the dark or unusual side – he has a knack of taking his audience to places that they don’t really expect, and then having them falling about in hysterics as he continues with his wonderfully imagintive explanations. I bought the ticket because seeing Billy live was on my bucket-list, the things I’d like to experience while I’m here on this planet.
It was a wonderful experience. Not just because of his humour, but also because of a very serious message that Billy chose to share with the audience. Alan Yentob, the famous and hugely respected television producer, was interviewing him on stage, and he encouraged Billy to talk about his childhood.  It is a well documented but not often discussed story of abandonment, neglect and abuse – physical, sexual and emotional. It’s a story about abject poverty. It’s about enduring a harsh life in some of the toughest areas of Scotland. It’s about survival – and ultimately it’s about the fulfilment of dreams.
Billy stood up at one point, clearly moved by his memories, and reached out to everyone in the theatre. Looking around the auditorium he seemed able to touch each one of us with his voice, with the look on his face, and with his open armed gesture.
“You may be surprised to learn” he told us “that there are many more people who have been through abuse than you might care to imagine. I’ll take a bet that if we asked every single member of this audience, the vast majority would understand what I am talking about” Barely perceptible head nodding started as soon as those words were out. The theatre went silent – as usual Billy had succeeded in shocking us. This time, though, it was not through his off-the-wall humour. This time it was because of his honesty. It was because of his willingness to share his story, and to reach out to others. This was a completely different side to “The Big Yin” and I felt immediately humbled. Just moments before I had been doubled up in my seat, sides aching with laughter as the tears rolled down my face. Now I was alert, straight faced, wide eyed, and incredulous about the way this incredible man was connecting with the audience.
Alan asked how he had possibly managed to overcome such hardships. How he had managed to endure the pain and indignity of his childhood to become a man who brings so much joy to so many people. Billy’s voice cracked a little at this point. He drew himself up taller and spoke to us all again.
Forgiveness And Encouragement
“I implore you – all of you – to embrace forgiveness” he explained, emotion clearly etched across his face “It works, it really does! It’s like getting rid of a whole sack full of heavy rocks that had been weighing you down. It’s wonderfully healing you know. It’s a marvellous experience. It frees you. And I recommend it – not just for anybody who has been through difficult times, but for all of us. For every single one of us”
He then also went on to explain how frustrated he still gets when he hears people talking about victims of any kind of abuse – particularly children. Explaining how adults know everything when you’re a child, he said how damaging it can be when the adults then compound their misery by giving the child an unconscious message that they can never get better
“Oh, the poor child. That’s it, his/her life is now ruined. They’ll never be able to get over that. That person/situation has taken away any chance they had of living a normal life”
My goodness – that resonated with me on so many levels I can hardly put it in to words. Not just because of some of the messages I received as a child, but also because of the way people misguidedly keep us in our suffering when we’ve gone through a period of ‘shift’. “Oh, I feel so sorry for you, you’ll never be able to love again” “I’ll bet you can never trust anyone now” “You must feel so stupid – you’re whole life is messed up!” Meant with the best of intention, messages like this (particularly to a child) can hold people in a mental prison. There may be no physical walls, but it doesn’t make it any easier to escape from the chains.
“Don’t tell the poor little b*****ds that they’re f*****d!” he cried, clenching his fists and gritting his teeth “Tell them that they’ll get through it! Tell them there’s a way! Tell them that this will pass, that there’s always hope, that they’ve got the power within them to make things good! Tell them to dream, to keep hope alive and to feel good about themselves! I did it – so can anybody else!”
When Billy stopped, the applause started. Quiet at the beginning (I was one of the first to applaud, as you may already have guessed) the whole theatre gradually built in to a crescendo of people all clapping their hands and nodding their heads. Once again I had tears rolling down my cheeks – this time because I had been deeply moved. I know I was not the only one.
I feel hugely privileged to have witnessed Billy Connolly in this particular way. It was a huge surprise for me – not in the least what I was expecting, but more rewarding that I could possibly have imagined.
It’s so true. When we believe we can, we do. When we know we’ll get through, we find a way. When we take one more step even when we think we can’t go any further, then miracles can occur. And when we encourage somebody else? Well, not only does it boost the other person, it gives us something positive at the same time.
There’s a friend of mine who often talks about “Random Acts Of Kindness” and his love of surprising people with good deeds. For me, I’ve learned that it’s hugely important that these gifts of love are not only given to others. I now understand that the more we ‘do’ Random Acts Of Kindness for ourselves, the better our world can become. And the better, as a result, we are able to radiate love and kindness to others as well.
The ticket to see Billy Connolly was, for me, a totally indulgent act of kindness to myself. The only ticket I could buy was a top price VIP ticket (it was the last seat in the theatre) and it also meant a flight to the UK and a stay in a hotel. Yes, it was a massive personal commitment of time and money from me to myself. Through that, though, I am now able to share this experience with all of you – well, it certainly justifies it for me!
So, yes, shift does happen. We all know that, and we all have plenty of it in our past and perhaps in our present as well – we may well feel at times that we’re “in the shift” more often that we’d like. So I’d like to finish this I post with a phrase I read today. It made me chuckle – I hope you’ll like it too
“Perhaps there are some areas of your life that could now do with some nurturing and some fertilisation?” it read “Just remember that the manure of your past can help grow a more fruitful future. What are you waiting for? What are you going to grow now?”
Love and blessings to all :-)