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

Friday, 28 December 2012

21st December 2012... The End Or The Beginning?

Well, it's finally happened. After all the ups and downs, the in and outs, the backwards and forwards (and any other number of opposites you care to mention!) by book has finally made it out to the world. Not as a 'pre-order' or 'will be available some time in the future' - nope, it's available NOW on Amazon Kindle worldwide, as well as iBooks and other ebook outlets... Hoorah!!!!!

It has been one heck of a journey getting to this stage. Strangely enough, the actual writing of the book was one of the easier parts. It was the following parts in the process that made life tricky. Tricky and interesting enough, perhaps, to form the basis of another book...? Maybe. We'll see about that.

But for now, I'm delighted, excited and more than a tad bit nervous that my story is 'out there'. I can no longer edit, review, proof, or shift it in any way - it's done, dusted and available for anyone to read.

So what's all this got to do with the title of this post? Well, after all the publishing shenanigans, the day that the book became available on Amazon was 21.12.12 - the day that, apparently, the world was due to end. Or change. Since I'm writing this post on 28th December, I think it's fair to say that the world didn't end... or if it did then I'm living in some kind of parallel universe. So then it must mark the beginning of a change?

I believe that changes are afoot. Big ones. Good ones. Although not necessarily all comfortable ones - I've learned that the process of real and positive change can rarely be described as comfortable! Perhaps this is all part of the bigger plan...?

It's fair to say that in this particular adventure of mine there have been so many 'co-incidences' that my faith in a bigger picture has strengthened enormously. As a typical example, of all the dates possible, how peculiarly delicious that my story be made public at the end of the Mayan calendar? For me, it certainly marks the end of one world - a world where my voice was silent, where there was 'bad stuff' to deal with, and where the fight was relentless. In its place is the new world. Where I am surrounded by love, peace and opportunities for continued growth.

I don't know what this book will bring, but I hope beyond hope that it somehow manages to help others. I already know of one person it has helped even before it was published; so I guess in a way, whatever happens I've already achieved my goal. Anything else from this point forward can only be a bonus :-)

Funnily enough, it seems that a Twitter trend for 21st December was "I'm Still Standing" in response to the end of the world prophecy. Another 'co-incidence' or another example of that bigger picture I spoke about earlier...?

Of course I can't say for certain. But I can say, because I feel it in my bones, that 2013 is going to be one heck of a year. Not just for me, but for many of us. The wind of change is blowing. Things will be different. And I intend to play my part in consciously creating a better world. Out with pain and suffering, and in with speaking out and healing.

Or as the late Vaclav Havel put it "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate".... Bring it on, and count me in. Because I, for one, am ready!

PS - What I forgot to say was that the official release date is noted as 18th December... my birthday. Curiouser and curiouser don't you think?

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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Orphans Make The Best Recruits

Last night I went to see (and thoroughly enjoyed) the new James Bond film, "Skyfall". Without giving away any of the plot, "orphans make the best recruits" is a line directed at Daniel Craig's 007. Delivered by the wonderful Judi Dench as M, the words struck me with such surprising force that I gasped out loud, instinctively clasping my hands to my mouth to muffle the sound. I had gone on my own, and I can tell you I felt more than a little embarrassed when people started looking my way to see what had caused the slapping sound!

I missed the next couple of minutes while I tried to make sense of what had just happened. Where did that response come from? How had those words, out of the blue, had such an impact? What did it all mean? M's statement and my questions swam round and round my brain, slowly but surely connecting with and awakening something from deep within...

Yes, as those who know me and my writing are already aware, my parents were both dead well before I reached seventeen - not still a child but not yet an adult. So it is easy to understand the immediate connection with the word 'orphan'. But it was more than that. Because suddenly, out of nowhere, I could identify with Bond's approach to his world. Now hold on a moment, I'm not saying that I'm some kind of secret agent, nor that I possess any special skills or super powers that could in any way liken me to 007. No, it's not that at all.

What it is, though, is the realisation that being an orphan has, perhaps, made me much more prepared to take on battles - for others as well as for myself. With that comes a better understanding why others, perhaps, are less willing to push as much or as far as I do. It's fair to say that I am driven - some friends might even call me obsessive. That's why I'll consistently stand up for what I believe to be right. That's why I will not stay quiet when something needs saying. That's why I strive to help others tap in to their own inner strength. Last night, though, I realised with startling clarity that up until now I had felt more shameful of my early label than I had previously acknowledged. With that came the shocking realisation that despite all my efforts, I have been holding on to that shame in some way.

I'll always remember 'the handbag scene' (as I call it) from the play "The Importance Of Being Earnest" when Lady Bracknell scathingly rebukes the title character on discovering he has no parents "To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness!"  For my sins, I of course had been far worse than just careless; not only did I lose both parents, but I was also effectively disowned by the rest of my family as a result of my determination to fight for my sister. Goodness only knows what Lady Bracknell would have made of that...!

When M's words shot out and grabbed inside me, shaking me by the scruff of the neck, I knew it was an important message. Thoughts and feelings tumbling over one another, I suddenly saw with cinematic clarity how it is that I refuse to give up. What it is that drives me to be the best I can, and to make the best of everything that comes my way. Why it is that I will fight to the death for something that I believe in.

Until last night, though, I'm pretty sure there that somewhere deep down I had been somehow trying to 'make up' for being not quite complete. Striving to create a proper family, a nurturing home, authentic relationships and loving friendships to mirror the ones I knew in my early childhood. Don't get me wrong, I am still keen to enjoy all of those things in my life - but something has changed. The past few weeks have taken their toll on me for various reasons, and I have often found myself in a pretty dark space. I always say that the darkest hour is the one before dawn, and I am fully aware that recently I have been a pretty complex and sometimes difficult companion. Tears flow easily, and I am no stranger to staring face first in to the pit of despair. It doesn't scare me - I just thought that the answers might lie somewhere in the murky depths. But I think... hmmm.... nope, I know... that I have had an unexpected epiphany thanks to a line from a Hollywood movie. Funny, eh, how these things can just sneak up on people like that?

I am no longer ashamed of my past. And, more to the point, I am actually proud of who I am and of what those experiences helped me become. Things happened, I can't change them... and now I see them as a blessing not a curse. I'm lucky to have the additional 'armour' that makes me a force to be reckoned with - it's who I am. Not who I was, or what I should or could have been... It's who I am right now.

I don't need to search out the perfect family. I don't need to prove myself. I don't have to push myself to the limits just to prove that I'm good enough. There's no going back. It's frankly no good me looking to recreate the same love and safety I felt as a child. It's a futile search and I shall never find it - those days are long gone, and I am finally ready to let them go and accept a new reality of my own making. No comparisons. No measures. No attempts to recreate. Because things are different now.

I am me. And yes, like James Bond, I had to grow up pretty darned quickly. Heck, those same experiences eventually made his character an international hero for goodness sakes! But you know what? I can't change my past, and I can't reclaim any perceived loss of childhood or innocence - and  neither should I even think about wanting to do so. Because the fact is, I am who I am, and I believe that I'm blessed with the strength and determination that is a direct result of what happened. It means that I carry on regardless, knowing that I survived the worst. Each additional shockwave has only helped me to grow. That's why I'm one of the best recruits for this life...

The difference, since yesterday, is that I am going forward as me and for me. It's ironic how regularly I encourage my clients to look ahead, to grasp the future with both hands. I have a sneaky feeling that perhaps I've been ever so slightly holding myself back and holding on to the past... Doh! Well no more. What's done is done, and I'm proud of who I am and the life I have lived until now. The past is indeed the past. It is buried and I am whole. And I am finally ready to step in to the new world.

Mel Carnegie reporting for service - bring it on!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

New Endings

LOVE and CARE for you , my Dearest!!!
Sitting here in my kitchen in France, I am pondering what may now lie ahead. The past few months have been, it's fair to say, a pretty strange ride even by my book - a case of fact being far stranger than fiction. But here I am now, facing another ending. This time it's the ending of what has been a good and healthy relationship, but one that has now run it's course. It's time to move on. I don't know what the future may hold, but I'm hoping that one day I will once again feel sunshine in my heart.

My time with Patrice has given me the opportunity to feel genuine love. To share. To honour boundaries. To be real. To trust feelings. To be open. To appreciate the humanness of two souls who came together and, I hope, gave and will continue to give enrichment to both our lives. From the very beginning we recognised that there were many differences between us - but through those differences we somehow found a middle ground where we both thrived.

Was it too much to expect it could last for ever? Well, perhaps. And perhaps I have had my rose tinted glasses on for much of the time - or perhaps not. I don't know. And you know what? It doesn't matter.

I do know that right from the start we have both been honest with each other, even though sometimes the honesty has not been easy. We have always said that we hoped we would both grow from this experience together. For me I know I have learned through this relationship that there are indeed 'good men' in this world - something that, perhaps, only now I can fully appreciate. Perhaps the scars from my ex had indeed run deeper than I had chosen to acknowledge - even to myself. For that was a relationship that (for me at least) seemed to be perfect, but turned out to be just a sham. Abandoned, betrayed and ashamed, there were many times I thought I'd never be able to pull through. But I did. And with Patrice I found the courage to once again open my heart - to him and to myself.

But unlike the sudden finish of my marriage, this is a new kind of ending. Because this is a mutual (if painful) acknowledgement that our relationship has run it's course. We've come to the place where over recent weeks there has been more angst than peace, and more heaviness than light. Life is worth more than that - for both of us. So it's time to be honest and face the tough reality that it's time to move on. And so we're talking. We're crying. We're sharing. And we're working through the next steps. We'll support each other, and we will both find a better world.

It isn't easy. But it's honest. And it's real. And I know that I'll carry with me all the happy memories of the good times we've had together for the rest of my life. In the words of Edith Piaf "Je ne regrette rien"

Thank you, Patrice, with all of my heart.
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Saturday, 24 November 2012

"I Want" Doesn't Get...

Reaching (Photo credit: JoelMontes)
This was a phrase my mother used to repeat to me when I was a child. Kindly eyes and a smile always accompanied her words "I want doesn't get, Melanie, you know that!" Of course I can't be certain what she meant or understood by her words (I know for sure that it could only have been something positive) but what I can absolutely vouch for, wholeheartedly and from experience, is that this phrase, when taken by itself, holds a deep wisdom that is totally and utterly true - and more than that, it offers freedom. More of that later.

At the time though, I remember taking it to mean that I couldn't ask for what I wanted. That the things I desired were out of my reach. That I didn't deserve them. That I was being a brat (like the spoilt and demanding Veruca Salt in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory) or too greedy (fuelled by the continuing belief that I was both fat and clumsy). So the result was that I felt shamed and hurt - and usually cross. Because I was being denied, and because I felt so stupid for asking in the first place.

Funny, ain't it, how distance provides clarity?  It's only looking back that I can recognise that sense of being 'not enough' was there way back in my early childhood. Yes, ok, it could be argued that there are completely understandable reasons why I would harbour such emotions at that time - and why I've subsequently worked so hard to come to terms with what happened in my formative years. I digress. Because my point is this - I reckon that my response back then is one that is shared by many others today when told that "I want" is something that rarely achieves the desired result.

This is an observation that has been the subject of countless lively discussions - in both my professional and personal life. Because I've come to understand that when people (myself included) wish to improve something about their life experience, our automatic statement tends to be "I want..." followed by whatever the desire may be - a new relationship, a new job, a better home, a happier life, or just to get out of this mess... whatever it is that we feel needs changing. I can't count the number of times in my past when I have cried out in utter despair "All I want is to be happy and to feel loved!" Now, I realise, this is precisely where I started to go wrong.

Why? Because far from bringing whatever the goal might be in to reality (although the desire was very real - excruciatingly real at times), that very statement of 'wanting' only heightened my personal experience of not having. I have read (and seen) countless motivational teachers telling their audience to focus on what it is they want. Encouraging them to state it loud and clear. To create passion around their wants. And then to make a plan to achieve it. Based on what I now understand, so far as I'm concerned all that does is create a whole heap of extra work - more work for the audience and more work for the motivational speaker (with my cynical hat on, I question whether this is perhaps deliberate in some cases). Because then people require guidance on how, exactly, to bring their goal in to fruition.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there's anything wrong in having goals - far from it. What I am saying is that the way we often go about it is flawed from the start. From bitter (and valuable) experience, I've realised that the more we get clear on what it is we want, the more we create the experience of not having. We surround ourselves with a series of wants, which only confirms them as the very things we don't have. And the more we have the experience of not having, the more we feel inadequate in some way shape or form. The more we feel inadequate, the more we diminish who we are and the less likely it is that we'll experience the contentment we desire through achieving whatever it is we are seeking... and so it becomes a vicious circle. In other words "a self-perpetuating process which returns to its starting point with no improvement from where it was begun" Am I beginning to make sense here...?

I don't profess to have the complete solution. But what I am saying right here, hand on heart, is that I believe a simple shift in the words we use can have a profound impact on our immediate internal response - and, therefore, an equally profound impact on the likelihood of achieving whatever it is we desire. No matter what that might be. It's taken me many years of frustration to reach this understanding.

When it suddenly clicked in to place, I remember feeling a huge sense of relief - so much so that I actually started to laugh. A weight lifted from my shoulders, and I suddenly felt a sense of freedom. Like so many great truths, it's so simple and yet so elusive at the same time.

I have learned that, rather than stating what it is I 'want' to happen (and therefore keeping whatever it is at arm's length - or even further away) it's much more helpful to link whatever it is to my present experience. It's about bringing the 'desire' in to current reality - in a way that is both supportive and authentic.

I'm not talking here about positive affirmations. Nope - it's more than that. Affirmations encourage us to shift whatever it is we want in to a statement that affirms we already have it using language that is positive, personal and present tense. For example "I want to lose weight" becomes "I am slim". Let me be clear here, I do believe there's a huge amount of value in affirmations. I used to work as a Louise Hay trainer, and affirmations have been (and continue to be) a great source of inspiration to me. But I also know from my own experience that merely stating something as a fact doesn't automatically mean that it's going to happen - because in many cases (well, certainly in my own case!) deep down we still don't actually believe it to be possible. So for me, the inner battle continued. It's fair to say that I've had a love/hate relationship with affirmations... more positive than negative I'd like to add, and I certainly acknowledge it as a methodology that has been hugely instrumental in my own development.

Because it was through that process it first dawned on me that a shift in the way I described something (to myself and others) gave me a different experience - immediately. I realised that I actually had far more control over the way I felt than I had previously acknowledged. I came to learn that I could indeed shape my world no matter what was happening - and it gave me an immense sense of liberation.

But that wasn't enough. Because, as I said earlier, the internal battle would often continue - no matter how many times or with how much conviction I would state my own affirmation "I am loved and I am enough!" it was, quite simply, a bridge too far. So I sought to find another solution. I explored belief change processes with NLP. I had a go with Breathwork techniques. I studied Reiki. I played with Hypnosis. I became a student of firewalking. And I loved every new practice I learned along the way - every one of which continues to add substance to what I do today.

And through it all I discovered the resounding truth that the answer was here all along - within me. Yep. All those years of looking outside for the answer brought me right back to the place of origin - in the words of Joan Armatrading: Me, Myself, I

Over time I've learned to listen to myself and take note of what I now acknowledge to be my internal guidance system. Rather than fight it or stubbornly affirm truths that aren't yet real truths, I've found a way to gently accept whatever it is that I 'want' by taking note of what's going on inside rather than observing what's happening outside.

Because what I've learned, is that I can bring my desires in to reality much more easily - simply by becoming conscious of the way I talk about them. I've learned that it's about consciously finding a 'link' between the actual and the desired reality. It's about already accepting what it is I think I'd like to be, do or have - in a way that feels smooth, easy and natural. In other words, in a way that is accepted and believed by the whole of who I am, conscious and subconscious. Light and dark. Yin and yang.... however we choose to describe the richness of our human existence!

The key, I've found, is in replacing "want" (along with "need" "have to" "should" "must" and any number of other such demanding expressions) with a word that is both neutral and supportive. From there, I can get clear on what is important. I found a great starting point is the verb "choose" because it fits the bill in the vast majority of cases. It maintains connection and there can be no subconscious argument. For example "I want to get a better job" becomes instead "I choose to get a better job" (rather than "I have a better job" as would be the case in an affirmation, which I would of course have fought against) just as "I want to feel loved" becomes instead "I choose to feel loved". And wooo hooo... there it was! That simple linking word gave me the experience, the possibility, the probability that in actual fact it could be mine... because I suddenly felt it to be true. Somewhere deep within me I felt the innocence of curiosity - because suddenly I knew that I did indeed have the choice.

Putting in the word "choose" rather than "want" gave me the freedom to feel it right there and then... and decide whether or not it really was something I 'wanted'. The weird thing has been, though, that quite often whatever the 'thing' was that I thought I wanted so much, actually became much less pressing as soon as it became linked to what I already am. Hence, as I said earlier, the sense of freedom and relief. Because from that point I came to understand that I really could choose - I could differentiate between what was really important and what was just mind-chatter. And if whatever it was still felt as important to me, then my next question became "so how can I experience more of this" by building on what I was already feeling. Very different from the task-driven step-by-step process to achieve a "want" goal that by definition I could never experience until it's achieved - so I could have no clarity in judging whether it was really something I'd like to have in my life, until I'd put in the hard work! Whereas "choose" goals suddenly allowed me the opportunity to experience the possibility and then develop solutions - a bit like those "try before you buy" mini paintpots, allowing you to check whether you're really going to like the effect at home before committing yourself to the colour you think you like in the shop.

So my wise mother, as usual, was right all those years ago. I want doesn't get - it's so very true. But "I choose" can make all things possible, in ways that are safe, supportive, and real.

And this is a technique that is oh so important to me right now. Why? Because the past few months have been a relentless roller-coaster of experiences and emotions - some of which I've already written about, others I will write about when the time is right. It's fair to say that I've had high highs and low lows, riding the waves and rolling with the punches. Now it's time for me to rest and regroup while things take their natural course. In past times I may well have resorted to the affirmation "I'm full of energy and all is well!" which, at a core level is absolutely the case. But I've also learned, that in moments when I'm feeling less than vibrant, it's perfectly ok to be that way. After all, the times when my son told me he was feeling unwell or tired, did I tell him to pull himself together and get on with it? Of course not. Well, these days the same goes for me.

So while I might be feeling a little bruised and battle-weary, it's perfectly ok. I am choosing to look after myself - knowing that I am indeed loved and that I am (and always was) already enough. I'm choosing to let myself be, in whatever way is right for me right now - because that, it's true to say, is all that counts. And so it is that I 'want' for nothing, because I already am.

Thanks, mum, for all the love and wisdom you gave me.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Novel, Memoir, Or Something Completely Different?

Hmmmm... well now... so where do I go from here? I've been pondering the question of how to continue my writing and link it with my on-going quest to reach out to other people. The first book was (relatively) straight-forward, taking a few weeks to capture over four decades-worth of extreme ups and downs. It kind of wrote itself once I got going with it...

I know in my heart though, that "I'm Still Standing" is only the beginning. I have a dream that one day I am able to stand up and speak to others on the subject of survival and healing from any situation, big or small - including life itself. It's a huge dream, and I sometimes wonder whether I'm kidding myself that I'll be able to achieve it. After all, there have been so many curve-balls threatening a number of previous hopes that perhaps this is another one that will eventually dissolve in to the ether. But somehow I don't think so. This is one that's been with me for more years than I care to remember - and in many ways I guess I've already been partly living that dream through the various training workshops I continue to run. I've learned a multitude of techniques that have helped me through the good times and the bad - many of which I am now fortunate enough to be able to pass on to my coaching clients within the corporate arena.

But 'business' is only one aspect of what I'd like to be doing. I know there are many more people out there who I simply would never come in contact with during my professional career... and these are the people I would most like to connect with now. That's why I write for Lovefraud and that, after all, is also why I decided to write the book in the first place - to share my experiences in the hope that my story would resonate with others. In the not too distant future my book will finally hit the shelves (watch this space) and I am now considering my next steps. Is it too soon to be thinking this way? I'm not sure - but I don't think so. Surely it's better to be prepared?

The question is, though, how exactly am I going to move forward from here. Even since finishing the book I  have experienced quite an extraordinary set of events that would in themselves make a great follow-up. But is that the way to go? Should I continue writing about my own experiences, or would I be better creating a novel or two instead? Perhaps I can do a small second book of memoirs and at the same time craft some fiction stories based around what I already know to be true? Perhaps, on the other hand, I could start creating some speaking and workshop-type activities that can support the book? Perhaps I should just write a "How-To" manuscript that details my own self-coaching tools and techniques?

I don't know... I don't know... But hey, you know what? When hit with the "I don't know" blocker, it's the time to start asking myself instead "well ok, but supposing I DID know... then what?" And that, to be honest is where I'm at - imagining that I do know exactly what my next steps are, and then feeling overwhelmed by the possible routes that lie ahead of me!

Of course, there's then the other option of just doing nothing at all. Pulling back from this particular circus, and living a simple carefree life here in France. Hmmm.... do you think I'd last very long with that? Nope. I thought not.

The fact is, whether I like it or not, I am driven to do this stuff - so simple is not for me. Carefree, yes, perhaps, because each new day I am feeling happier and more relaxed than I can remember being before. At the same time I am filled with a passion that burns inside me. I thrive in sharing with others that which I know can add value - and I'm learning more every day. Each new day brings its own set of challenges - in my world and also in the world of other people - so each day offers the opportunity to delve still deeper in to the field of learning and self-development.

I always used to say that so long as there is a question mark over my head, then it means I'm alive and growing. The minute there are no more questions, then there is little left to life. I know, it probably sounds a bit OTT, but hey, that's just the way I see things.

Well right now there are questions all over the place, and while at times I am finding myself feeling somewhat dazed and confused, in the main I reckon I'm slowly finding a way through. My dreams are alive and kicking, and I am ready. Now it's just a question of finding out which particular route really lights my fire... and after that, well, as I've learned from experience, the 'hows' tend to take care of themselves.

Hhhmmmmm.... I wonder....

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lovefraud: Love After The Sociopath

I’m finally beginning to properly ‘get’ the age-old adage that life is a journey not a destination. Let me assure you, my particular journey continues to be filled with the most bizarre ups and downs, and I’m coming to realize that truth really is stranger than fiction – well, in my case at least.

Many peculiar happenings and coincidences have been going on over the past few weeks, most of which I am not currently at liberty to share. When the time is right I will put pen to paper, but until then I’ve decided to fulfill my urge to write by focusing on my own personal experiences around the subject of love after the sociopath.

Being Human

As you’ll know if you read my last post, I am now in a relationship with a wonderfully caring soul who is the polar opposite from my ex-husband. He’s been through his own tragedies, losing his previous partner to breast cancer. He is real, he has feelings, he cares and, most importantly, he is human. That means that like me, he has his failings. It means that his responses are not always perfect. Along with letting me know how much he loves me he also freely shows his confusion, demonstrates his hurts, and tells me when he feels in any way upset.

My own responses though, I am coming to learn, often stem from learned behaviours that I came to know from my time with my so called soulmate. Life with him was so darned perfect that there was never a cross word nor anything that caused me to even consider that our relationship was anything other than a dream come true. That dream, of course, turned out to be a living nightmare – but I didn’t know that at the time.

So when Patrice (my Frenchman who speaks no English) becomes quiet or reserved, I instantly question his motives – wondering whether he, like my ex, is trying to manipulate or control me. Of course when my ex was around, I had no such internal guidance or red flags. I just took everything that he showed me to be true, and I continued to shower him with unconditional love. By the time his mask was slipping, I was so far hooked in to his trap that I believed his strange behaviour must be due to something I was doing wrong. And I responded by showing even more love and understanding, opening my heart and soul even wider to embrace and reassure him, so that he would know without question that I loved him wholly and completely. I thought that was what marriage was all about – my ability to love him through whatever issues or problems he was facing, choosing to show more love in the face of his increasingly irrational put-downs and snide remarks.

Trust Without Naivety

From the beginning, the only thing I have promised Patrice is complete honesty – and that is what he gets. In barrow-loads! I continue to do my best to explain to him why I am no longer that naively trusting soul. To clarify why when there is something that happens to concern or rattle me – no matter how small – I will not brush it under the carpet. Instead I will meet it head on, gently in the most parts, and get to understand what it is all about.

The first few times this happened, I felt myself shutting off to him – and I told him so in no uncertain terms. I guess in hindsight mine was probably a pretty harsh comeback when all he was doing from his point of view was sharing his frustrations. For me, it was also incredibly challenging to really speak up for myself. To ‘go there’ when the circumstances seemed in many ways to be fairly petty. But I did it because I felt there was no point if I kept quiet – where is the honesty in keeping a painted smile?

And I’m pleased that I’ve learned to do this. I’m proud of myself for questioning every tiny misunderstanding, so that together we can understand, learn and lay solid foundations. This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt able to behave in this way with someone who is so close to me. So what has changed?

Courage To Be Real

Well, I think that once again it’s an opportunity for me to feel gratitude for all the unpleasant and sometimes downright ghastly experiences that I’ve encountered over my life so far. When I became an orphan I quickly learned how to fit in, shut up, put up and stay quiet – in short how to become invisible. I learned to ignore my own cries for help, and to push down my feelings of pain and loneliness. In their place I chose instead to focus on understanding and helping others – little realizing that through doing that I was simply pushing my own identity further and further within me, until I didn’t even know who I was. Oh yes, I had a mask of my own. But my mask, unlike that of the sociopath, was one created for survival. One that hurt nobody else but myself.

The mask of the sociopath, on the other hand, is a carefully crafted guise of love and devotion, designed to disable their target so they bend to their every twisted whim and manipulation. Is it any wonder that I fell so completely, hook line and sinker, for his practiced act of adoration and love? Having been starved of such connections for so many years, my ex was like a breath of fresh air. I truly felt that I had come home, and that life would be forever rosy. Looking back I can’t help but have a wry smile, realizing that I must have been a particularly easy target for him. They talk about rose-coloured spectacles… well, mine must have caused me to be blind, deaf and dumb to his scheming ways. I was so wrapped up in the dream of finally finding happiness that I simply couldn’t see what was right under my nose.

It’s only in recent years that people have shared with me their own views on my ex-soulmate. I’ve heard many words to describe the man I thought was handsome, charming, charismatic, and the life and soul of the party. Opinions such as ‘cheesy’ ‘fake’ ‘annoying’ ‘a braggart’ and many more are now being voiced by the people who knew him. When I ask why they didn’t tell me at the time, I receive the perfectly reasonable reply that they didn’t think it was any of their business. That I was quite clearly in love and happy with this person, so they didn’t want to rain on my parade.

I Still Believe In Magic

Hmmmm…. My own worst enemy? Well, perhaps so… but only now with the insights I have learned through my own journey to recovery. Do I blame myself? Far from it! I am deeply proud of what I have survived – and I also believe that it was because of my stubborn belief in magic that I didn’t allow myself to go down when all around me was falling to pieces. Ironically, I now believe that it was those very same characteristics that kept me so blinkered to his ways (including my innocent belief in love and happy ever after) that eventually proved to be my salvation. Through the bleakest days weeks and months following the meltdown, I still held strong to my conviction that everything would work out in the end – even though there were many times when it would have seemed the more sensible option was to just give up and give in.

I remember consistently telling people that if I could feel so in love and so fulfilled with someone who was nothing more than a conman, then when a real man came in to my life, the experience could only be many times better! I confess that for a long time this was more of a mantra than a strongly held conviction – but you know what? It has worked wonders for me.

Because now, in the company of Patrice, I am able to check and double-check on everything that happens between us. I can ask what’s wrong when he seems to be less bouncy than usual. I can speak up for myself if I feel he’s being unreasonable. I can ask what he’s feeling when he seeks reassurances. I can tell him I need space when I feel too squashed. And I can let him know every time he makes me feel like a princess – and that feels great.

So, no, it ain’t always easy being in a ‘real’ relationship after the false perfection that I knew for so long. But goodness knows it’s healthy and it’s honest. And through continued talking, sharing, hugging and learning about each other, I am feeling more settled, safe and loved than ever before in my life.

Does it mean I’m going to become a pushover with him? Heck no! I shall probably keep questioning even the smallest details for however long we stay together. I refuse to say ‘forever’ anymore, because the last time I did that I lost any hope of remembering who I really was. Nope. This time it is day by day, and let me tell you that right now, with each day that passes, this particular relationship is more fulfilling, exciting, rewarding, challenging, and loving than anything I ever experienced with my ex.
As I said at the start of this post, I am finally appreciating the joys of life’s journey. I do not need to focus on a destination, because I will never be ‘there’… I am here. And here is exactly the right place for me right now. However long this particular ‘now’ lasts doesn’t even matter in the grand scale of things. Because whatever happens in the future, I know I am at last able to be true to myself and to those around me.

So in actual fact the real love I’ve found is love for myself – and with that, no-thing and no-one can ever harm me again. As Patrice keeps saying to me “que des bonnes choses maintenant” which means “only good things now” – and you know what? I fully agree.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

My Brown Eyed Girl

It felt so deliciously peaceful just floating there in the nothingness. The noisy mind-chatter all but disappeared, I was happily allowing myself to drift off to sleep, enjoying the half-way-ness of being here, there and nowhere in particular. It was Thursday 9th August, and I was staying in Gloucester with my dear friends Sarah and Kevin. With me was Patrice, a wonderfully kind and loving Frenchman that I have been seeing for a few months. I'd been rather distant with him for the past few days, and was concerned that I didn't understand my feelings towards him. I'd been pondering our relationship as I dozed off to sleep, and that was the moment when she came to me.

I sensed her way before I saw her, feeling her presence floating up from somewhere below me... a rich, deep soul filled with love and laughter. And then, down to my left, a beautiful pair of treacle brown eyes appeared in the distance. They were searching - open, smiling, but not quite certain. I looked down to meet her gaze, and smiled at the mass of unkempt chocolatey curls that framed the most beautiful face. She stopped moving towards me when I smiled and just stayed there, hovering, questioning - was she shy? Was she nervous? Looking in to her eyes, I somehow knew what she was asking. In the silence that hung between us I told her "It's OK. I've got you. You're safe" Her smile broadened, and I felt the most enormous surge of love and connection between us. I asked her who she was. It was unclear at first, but slowly the letters appeared and the sounds formed.... Maddy. She let me know that her name was Maddy. And that she loved me.

The following day, two clear lines in the window of the tester stick confirmed what I already knew to be true. That at the age of 47 I was four weeks pregnant.

"I knew I was!" I burbled to Sarah, who was there with me - and who actually checked the result for me because I'd been too nervous to look myself! "I just knew it! What on earth am I going to do?" Screams, questions, tears and an overwhelming sense of joy danced and crashed around together inside me, and I burst in to tears. I knew instantly that any idea of termination was out of the question,  so it was a matter of getting used to the idea and finding out how I really felt. Sitting on a bench outside just a few moments later, I called my friend Anna in France. Checking first whether she was sitting down, I blurted out the news. "You'll never believe it... But I'm pregnant!" And with that it all became real. She was the first person I had told the news to - and now that the news was shared, it made it reality. Although the tears were flowing and I was still shaking with the shock, Anna's response brought a smile to my face "Well, what a wonderful gift" she enthused "and you and Patrice will make wonderful parents!"

Patrice was overjoyed with the news - surprised, yes, but absolutely delighted. The more I got used to the idea, the happier I became. Me, a mother again, when I honestly thought any possibility of producing a sibling for Dylan was way behind me. I felt incredibly blessed, and determined to to everything possible to protect the little soul that was growing inside me.

A couple of days later I returned to France, and collected Dylan from the train station. He'd been staying with friends and of course I hadn't  wanted to tell him the news until we were face to face. Naturally concerned about how he may react, I was overjoyed to find that he was as happy as me - he was delighted by the idea that he was going to be a big brother! I knew the baby was a little girl, and I shared with Dylan my story about Maddy - far from being sceptical, he gave me the hugest cuddle and said he was looking forward to meeting his sister. My own sister was also pleased for me, and with every passing hour I felt more filled with joy and wonderment as the miracle continued to unfold in front of me.

Then just last Wednesday, and with no warning, I started to bleed. Only a small amount at first, but then quickly building as the cramps set in. I was losing Maddy. It was the same day that Dylan was packing to leave home, and it felt to me that I was losing two children in one fell swoop. It may make little sense, but although I had only known I was pregnant for less than a week, it felt like my entire world was falling apart. That evening, together with Patrice, I sobbed and wailed for my unborn baby. I had never appreciated the pain of a miscarriage - both emotional and physical - and simply was not prepared for the strength of overwhelming sadness that hit and hit again with relentless force.

"I don't know what bloody contract my soul signed before I was born" I sobbed to Ruth and Anna who had come the moment I realised what was happening "but I clearly didn't read the flippin small-print! I just can't do this roller-coaster any more. I just can't..."

But of course I could. And I did. The past week has been, quite frankly, absolutely ghastly. I dealt relatively quickly with the emotional onslaught, but physically it's been just horrid. I had never appreciated just how debilitating it is to experience a miscarriage, and my heart bleeds for those women who lose unborn children at a much later stage than my relatively insignificant four weeks. My body doesn't know what it's doing, my hormones are all over the place, and I am physically and emotionally exhausted.

As with everything else, though, this experience has brought me unexpected gifts. I have learned so much - about myself and the wonderful people who are around me - and I feel more blessed now than I did before Maddy's appearance. She has brought this to me, and while I may never hold her in my arms, I will always hold her in my heart.

Now I know without doubt that Patrice and I have a real chance of creating a wonderful future together. There is no need for me to hide or be scared anymore - he's not Cam. And he's going nowhere. On paper it may seem an unlikely proposition - he doesn't speak a word of English, he's 11 years younger than me, and until a couple of weeks ago had never left the country. But at the same time, he's the kindest, most gentle and genuine person I've ever met - and we get on like a house on fire.

As well as that, I also know that despite my age, I would very much like to have another child. Whether or not it's going to be possible, who knows. The hospital has already warned me of the dangers of pregnancy for older women - both for mother and for child. But hey, life's about love, miracles and hope isn't it? And goodness knows I'm now ready and willing to accept and experience all of the good stuff.

So, now my focus will be on looking after myself - properly. And that means shifting some weight, taking up exercise, eating healthily and allowing myself to be loved and cared for by a man who may just possibly turn out to be the person I grow old with. And with a bit of luck, we may yet be able to welcome a new soul in to the world.

Thank you, Maddy, my beautiful brown eyed girl - in such a short period of time, you've had a profound effect on my life. I love you.

Re-worded for Lovefraud, link here

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lovefraud: Keep Shining, Beautiful Ones

This week I saw a quote on Facebook that spoke to me loud and clear “Keep shining, beautiful ones. This world needs your light” – because it immediately made me think of everyone here on Lovefraud. I imagined each and every beautiful person who reads and contributes to the site, and as I did so, my heart warmed and prompted a smile… and moist eyes.

Why did I think of this community? Because I truly believe that our experiences ultimately help all of us to shine more brightly as a result. At the same time, I fully appreciate that this notion may still seem to many to be a long way off, or even an impossibility to some people here – perhaps that was what prompted the tears? Well, that together with an overwhelmingly strong (yet clearly unrealistic) urge to reach out and show those people the future. A future where you are reclaimed and reconnected with your beautiful true self – and burning brightly as a beacon of hope that helps others find their way out of the darkness.

Blessings In Disguise

For three and a bit years since I realised that my ‘dream’ relationship was a nightmare in disguise, I have come to the place where I view my encounter as a blessing. Blessings that, at the time, were heavily camouflaged... absolutely. Painful beyond description... heck yes. Soul-shatteringly destructive, leaving me broken, exhausted, humiliated, knocked out, wiped out and on the floor... yep, you got it. Words, it appears, particularly now as I look back over what happened, seem totally inadequate when describing the hollow darkness of the weeks and months that followed my own discovery.

Like so many of us here, how can any living person be expected to function after their soul has been ripped out, stamped on and thrown out with the rubbish – whilst at the same time realizing that the architect of their downfall has been smirking during the whole process…? When explaining my own experiences, people have asked me how I survived. I remember asking myself the same question myself at my lowest times – I also remember sinking so far down that I even considered the alternative to survival….

The thing is, though, I have come to realize that if people can live through such horrendous times (and all of us here on the site are indeed living – although some days may actually feel like ‘barely hanging on by a thread’) then surely…. surely… as we come through the other side we must come to truly appreciate the strength of our spirit, and be proud of who we are? Surely we must reach a place where we can recognize the energy, focus, determination and love it took to come through…?

The Inner Light

I have noticed that there is a light that comes from people who have successfully overcome adversity – in any shape or form, large or small, physical or mental. Yes, they also carry the battle scars, of course. But the thing that speaks most clearly for me is the determined light that shines from within. It shows in their eyes, and it can be heard in their voice. There is something subtle, inviting, and thoroughly human about these people that cannot help but inspire.

We only have to look at the upcoming Paralympics to recognize the shining light of determination and passion in every athlete who has worked to overcome physical difficulties. On the other hand there are countless newspaper stories about people who have survived murder attempts, wars, violence and all manner of human cruelty. People who have subsequently gone on to live fulfilling lives and who quietly encourage others in the process. Then there are the ‘everyday angels’ – people who put themselves out to care for others who are in need. There are also survivors of life-threatening diseases. Then there is everyone here in the Lovefraud community – and others like us. People who are in various stages of waking up to the nightmare… and journeying through to the other side.

It’s true, I know, that not everyone makes it this far – so already we are the lucky ones. And as we continue sharing our stories, supporting and guiding each other, and helping to educate others… so we continue to heal and we continue to become brighter. As I said in last week’s post, we are the ones who know, who ‘get it’ and who are already reaching out to others facing confusion and pain at the hands of a disordered personality – whatever the relationship.

It was reading though the countless posts and comments on this particular site in 2009 that helped me to make sense of the madness. That helped me realize I was not alone. That prompted me to find out as much as I possibly could about the little understood subject of sociopathy. Even though I could feel the pain in so many of the comments, at the same time I also felt inspired that people were able to share their experiences, and reach out to others for help and support.

It was this very community who, three years ago, played a major role in saving my life and easing me back on track. Your lights were shining strong to me then – your examples showed me the way, and you continue to shine today. Thank you.

I am deeply grateful for being a part of this community. And I know beyond any doubt that we are all beautiful. I also know that in our own ways each of us are indeed already shining our light, helping to brighten a world that is crying out to awaken from the darkness.

So.... Keep shining, beautiful ones. This world continues to need your light.

With love, light and gratitude to all :-)

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Lovefraud: Our Silence Is Their Greatest Weapon

This week I’d like to tell you a true story – although details have been changed to protect privacy. It concerns a recent dinner conversation I had with a well-balanced, well-educated, professional gentleman who has worked at the same company for over a decade. Why? Because he believes in what they do, he loves his job, and he loves the people who work there. This man is articulate, intelligent, great company, happily married and by any measure has made a success of his life – I’ll call him James. So, you can imagine my surprise when, in a quiet moment, this strong man took me aside to confide in me about the horrors he had suffered at the hands of a female boss who had recently left the business.
The antics of this particular individual took its toll on every member of her team – and indeed on the many others who witnessed the carnage but didn’t know what to do about it. From what James said, it appears she would take delight in ridiculing, menacing and threatening her dedicated team of people. She would have one face for public appearances, and a totally different face behind closed doors. She would make a statement about her team to colleagues, and then berate individuals for (allegedly) going behind her back or for non-performance. Rules were changed at the last minute, promises made and broken, rumors spread and threats made – all cloaked with the repeated warning “you’d better keep this to yourself – don’t say a word to anyone else, you know what I can do”
The Only One
I asked how long it had been going on and whether the other bosses knew what was happening? “It had been going on for years”he replied, looking down at the floor “but they could never get any concrete evidence on her. We were all too scared and didn’t realize the extent of what she was doing. I honestly thought I was the only one”
My heart bled for him, as he went on to explain that he’d been on medication to combat stress and depression. It was only after his boss had finally been asked to leave that James realised just how many others had suffered similar symptoms. I was intrigued to know how the other leaders in the business had allowed such bullying behaviour to go on for so long.
“Well, it’s just the way it is. We all love the business and the people in it – we just have a few really strong characters who still think it’s ok to shout and belittle people. We just get on with it and learn to take the blows…”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I personally think that this is a terrible way to go on – and I am constantly horrified that people in positions of authority do not stand up against this sort of behaviour? For me, as I’ve said before, it’s not about witch-hunts or persecution of these individuals. It is not about identifying who may or may not be the sociopath, the narcissist, or the disordered person. No, it’s not about pointing the finger out and hunting them down. It’s simply about recognizing when something ‘bad’ happens (from whatever source, no matter what, where or from whom) and then finding a way to something about it. Because if we keep silent, or continue to take no action, then we provide ‘them’ with their greatest weapon… and they become more lethal the more they gain confidence that they can continue getting away with it.
It doesn’t have to be anything major or personally endangering. Even the smallest and seemingly insignificant of actions can have a dramatic result. Making an internal “no” decision, viewing the bully as a coward, maintaining a blank expression when dealing with them, or just simply walking away.  All those are within our own control. And all of those diffuse and deflate their perceived power over us. Each and every one of us has the power to do this, and it’s multiplied when we join with others and do the same. Yep, that all makes sense – so what stops us then?
I Thought I Must Be Wrong
I asked James the same question. His reply was quite simple. “Having taken the emotional beatings for so long, I just got used to it and found ways to make the pain more bearable. I thought I must be wrong, that I was misinterpreting the situation and that I should just get on with it. In hindsight, I can see that the problems started and escalated when I did nothing about the very first attack – because I just brushed it off. As we all did. It gave us a sense of unspoken bonding, surviving the bad stuff together”
 But now he knows. And now he is keen to share his experiences so that others can also know.
I come back again to the saying “we see things not as they are, but as we are” – and it’s the nice-guys who make excuses for bad behaviors in others. We’re perhaps too willing to forgive or defend other people, on the compassionate understanding that they might just be having a bad day. I’m not saying that’s wrong. On the contrary, I believe it’s a healthy quality to maintain and nurture. Along with that quality, though, I also believe that it’s time that as human beings, we all learn to re-set our internal barometer to super-sensitive, and commit to speaking out any and every time we recognize something is even the slightest bit off-course. It doesn’t need to be an accusation… but it certainly needs to become a question.
The on-going libel issues surrounding my book, for example, have become a farce – and I have been questioning the wisdom of their progress. Because, not content with the mountains of black and white evidence and witness statements that I have already provided, together with substantial name, relationship and location changes, the legal team are currently of the mind that the next step is to make direct contact with the ‘baddies’ in my story and ask them for sign-off on the entire manuscript, just in case there is any way they have any comeback later on. I am flabbergasted. So far as I am concerned, the suggestion demonstrates naivety in the extreme – why on earth would I place myself once again at the mercy of people who I know for a fact to be disordered? The madness of their suggestion just goes to further confirm my own opinion that the law has lost its way.
Action Is The Key
Who, now, is the law protecting? Where, now, is the support for freedom of speech? How, now, is the law standing up for those less able to make their case? It seems that the easier road to take is that where they, like James, have learned to roll with the punches and protect themselves against the bad people. Because from my experience, they are usually the ones who will cite their civil rights when caught doing something wrong, and who will be familiar with every legal loophole. They are the ones who cost most time and money, because they’ve learned to twist the legal system just the way that they learn to twist the true and generous hearted among us. So the automatic route now is to second-guess against what ‘they’ might or might not do – rather than to stand up to them and say ‘enough is enough’. And yet, in my heart of hearts, I am certain that many in these professions are themselves sickened by the on-going change of focus – feeling powerless to make a difference when common sense and judgment has given over to tick-boxes and back-covering.
And yet – the more we stay silent or take no action, then the more it will just carry on. Because what we allow, will continue.
I believe that there are far too many professionals who, even though they feel frustrated, continue to keep their own silence, refusing to hold their hand up and ask questions when something is wrong. I read a quote this week by Martin Luther King and I believe it sums up the message I intend to keep sharing – particularly with those in positions of influence who insist on hiding behind bureaucracy, fear, and any number of ‘company rules’ and defunct mantras of ‘that’s just the way it is’ that keep them trapped in the belief that doing what appears easier automatically translates as doing what is right. Here is the quote that spoke so loudly to me: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”
Well, folks, my life is just getting going – and, like many of us here, my voice is getting stronger day by day. Because we’re the ones who know what’s out there…

Link to Lovefraud post here

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Lovefraud: Real Love After The Sociopath

I don’t remember the number of times that my friends warned me not to shut down after it all happened. How many times they’d ask me not to lose myself. To avoid becoming bitter and lonely. To stay open, despite my pain.
“With what you’ve been through you have every right to never trust anyone again” they’d say “but please don’t let this experience change you from being the loving bubbly person that you are – time will heal. Stay open”
Yes, I am very lucky indeed to have such wise and loving friends. I count my blessings and am grateful for such levels of support – particularly during the early days after discovering the truth.  At the time I thought they were referring to my ability to trust another romantic relationship. That was ok, because I was always ready with an answer. My well-rehearsed response would be along the lines of “It’s ok, because I know that my feelings were real, even if his were not – and I know for a fact that I experienced true love. So if I felt that with an empty soul, then when one day I find a real person, surely the experience will be ten times better?”
The thing is, though, I have discovered that real love has very little to do with me finding another person. That ‘closing off’ does not just mean closing to the world and people that surround me. That yes, staying open is entirely to do with trusting and loving…. But loving who, exactly? And how…?
Rock And A Hard Place
As for all of us here, I’ve survived some pretty grueling experiences. My personal healing journey after the sociopath involved re-examining some of the old traumas that I thought I’d already dealt with. Re-opening the sealed emotions that were still hidden away, despite my honest belief that there was nothing left to discover. But there was. And to this day, there continues to be more.
There was a time when, to be frank, I was way too scared of going to some of the darker places that lay within me. Because I knew that re-discovery meant opening old scars and digging around in the old hurts. It was going to be painful, and I didn’t know whether I had the courage to go there – toreally go there and find out what was within. To deal with ‘whatever it was’ once and for all, so that I could be free and done with it. It was an almighty ask of myself – and there were many times that I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the task I knew lay ahead. I became frightened that if I went to the places that were beckoning me, I might never find my way back out. That I’d die from the pain, or perhaps be held prisoner for the rest of eternity.
On the other hand, I knew that if I didn’t go there, then I was doomed to stay stuck in the living nightmare that had become my life. And that, by comparison, was far too great a hurt to live with. So, caught between a rock and a hard place, I felt pushed to the limit. I had to make a choice. And I made the choice to dive right in, hoping and praying that by facing my fears I would come out the other end.
Having made the commitment I discovered that in actual fact the pain was never ‘too much to bear’ and neither was I held prisoner. Quite the contrary. Looking back now, I imagine the journey as a daily trek in to a dark mine. Each day hollowing out more rock, my body and determination becoming stronger as I continued to work. The job, by default, therefore becoming easier as I continued scraping away, emerging at the end of each day with a filthy face and a dirty great smile.
Reflections And Sunshine
And you know what? I never did reach any impasse. I never did find any really ‘bad’ thing hidden there. But I did find something. Something that I had never  in a million years imagined would be hidden there! Because underneath all the dark rocks and dirt, I found a diamond. I found myself.
I said earlier, I had honestly believed that I’d already uncovered and dealt with the emotional damage of my past. Because of that I believed that there was nothing left to discover. On top of that, I now realize that I had believed for many years that even if there was any discovering left to be done, it could only possibly be more of the ‘bad stuff’ that I’d hidden away so many years earlier. It didn’t even occur to me that there might be good stuff to discover – DOH! And now I am thoroughly reveling in finding new stuff within – because I’ve finally tapped in to the real love that lies within me. And ever since the first tentative connection was made, it has continued to build. On a daily basis I am finding more ways to love and appreciate myself for who I am – yep, I’ve lived with ‘me’ for close to five decades, but it feels like I’ve only recently started to know myself.
I am constantly chuckling at the reflections of this process of unfolding that are now occurring on nearly a daily basis. Just at the weekend, for example, I noticed a stone building by the river on a route that I’ve taken countless times over the nine years I have lived in my village. But I had never before taken any notice of the building. On Sunday I not only saw it, I went to explore. There I discovered the most beautiful ‘lavoir’ (a covered area where the locals used to do their washing in years gone by) that had clearly been standing there for many lifetimes. There it was, an exquisite example of beauty and history right on my doorstep. Yet for so long it had simply been invisible to me.
As for my fear of becoming captive to the strength of the pain within? I now realize that I have been living my life as a prisoner for longer than I care to remember. The journey to cleanse my memories, my emotions, and my soul has ultimately proven to be my salvation.
So, for the journey, and for the real love that I am now feeling, I am once again inclined to thank my ex-husband, and all those who have done me harm over the years. I can’t begin to understand their intentions when they were being so cruel, but it doesn’t matter any more. What they did doesn’t matter any more either. Because whether it was intended or not, and whether because or in spite of their actions towards me, I have managed to find myself and re-connect to real love. The real love that was and always has been deep within me.
It turns out that it was not the ‘bad stuff’ I was afraid of – it was the love. Not the darkness, but the light. Through diving in and facing my deepest fears, I have discovered the truth that it was no-one and no-thing that had been holding the real love back from me. In actual fact I had become my own jail-keeper. I had been holding myself prisoner over so many years. Even through years of forgiveness and self-development work, I had still been hiding my light under a bushel.  It was me who’d denied myself the love and the light. I was the one who had closed myself off.
So, since I was the one who had locked the door I was also the one who could open it and let in the sunshine. And as I continue to let the sunshine in, the sunshine continues to grow within me. And as the light grows within me, so my life fills with more and more love.
It was here all along. It always has been. I just didn’t know it. But now I do know it – and I also know that others share the same light. Like me, though, many are yet to discover their own brilliance. It’s there. And I’m here as living testimony that, no matter how impossible it may seem at times, there is indeed real love after the pain.
With deepest love to all. Thank you.