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

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.