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, 31 January 2012

Lovefraud: Shame And Silence


There has been a story in the UK news this week that touched my heart. It’s a story of a ruthless abuser who controlled, abused and manipulated their partner. Sounds familiar?  Two years of mental, emotional and financial cruelty, the physical injuries alone resulted in the need for corrective surgery. The attacks included bleach sprayed in the eyes. Lit cigarettes up the nose. Fractured skull. Cracked ribs. Repeated scalding with an iron and boiling water and attacks with a claw hammer. And yet even after all that ill-treatment, the victim has not lost faith in finding another partner. These are the touching words that reached out to me and brought tears to my eyes:
“It’s going to be difficult when I meet someone who doesn’t understand what I’ve been through. They will no doubt ask about my scars, and I’m not going to lie. My fear is that they’ll wonder what I did to deserve it…”
Prior to the relationship, this person was a successful professional. After the relationship this same person was left homeless, penniless and living in the grip of crippling fear. Trapped in the silence by constant threats, the victim says “I felt as though I couldn’t walk away, because she told me she had family who were involved in organized crime who would kill me if I left her. I felt I was trading with my life”
Yes, the reason why this particular story made the headlines was because the abuser was a woman. A small woman at that, standing at just 5ft 1. The victim is a man. A well educated, successful man who, in his ownwords “was brought up well and taught never to hit a woman”. Like so many of us here on this site he had trusted his partner. She took control of his money and ran up debts – another familiar story for so many of us. So the night he finally broke free (after a worried friend tipped off the police) he found himself staying in a shelter for the homeless – where he stayed for the next 18 months. Looking back at that time he says “I didn’t have any money and didn’t know where to go or what to do. I was petrified walking the streets, as I was paranoid her brothers were going to come and kill me. As it turns out, they didn’t exist. But I didn’t know that at the time”
It Can Happen To Anyone
The gentleman in question is called Ian McNicholl. He took the brave decision to speak out but as he says “I can completely understand why some men will feel embarrassed speaking out…. The massive problem is that men are not seen as victims.”
It’s deeply moving stuff and my heart reaches out to this man. I feel for him on many levels. Firstly because I know how hard it is to come to terms with betrayal and emotional abuse. Unlike this man, though, I never (thank goodness) had to also endure physical torture.
Secondly because I know from experience how difficult it is to explain to others what has happened. I know what it feels like to answer questions that are meant to help, but that actually cause more pain “Why didn’t you do something earlier? How did you not notice? Why didn’t you just get away?” Of course, we all know it’s not that easy, and it hurts like hell when those close to us don’t seem able to understand.  It was tough enough for me – but I reckon that for this man he must have faced even bigger barriers because, as he says, men are “not supposed to be victims”
On closer inspection, I found that this kind of story is far from unusual. I read another article that said according to recent British Crime Survey statistics, a third of domestic violence victims are male. That’s at least 400,00 men a year in the UK alone. Another anonymous male victim says :
“Did I say anything to anyone? Or leave her? No, I didn’t. For, like thousands of other male victims of domestic violence, I was mortally ashamed of what was happening to me. I made light of what was happening, even though it robbed me of my confidence and self-esteem. After all, I was a man. How could I be a victim of someone nearly half my size?”
I know it was hard enough for me to break free and share my story with sympathetic friends. I felt the burning shame, the twisting guilt and recoiled at my own head-bangingly stupid blindness – all of those feelings that most of us here know only far too well. But I was lucky. Because as soon as the truth came out I was encouraged to talk. The anonymous gentleman goes on to say: “…embarrassed I’d put up with I for so long, I didn’t tell many about the experience.”
Who Can Handle The Truth?
The shame runs deep. But I still believe it’s the silence that is a killer. Simon and Garfunkle put it very succinctly when they sang “silence like a cancer grows”. The silence can come from anywhere. We remain silent because we hold on to the hope that it will all be alright. Friends remain silent because they don’t like to interfere. Society remains silent because, in many cases, it’s just too horrible a truth for people to acknowledge.
The truth that yes, there are “bad people” out there. The truth that those caught in an oppressive relationship are trapped because they are good people – not because they are stupid, blind, or did something to deserve it. The idea that daylight imprisonment can and is going on right in front of our noses – and that others can do little or nothing to help.
Hmmmm….. Or can they….? I’m becoming more and more convinced that we can do a whole heap about this. I believe that the more we educate people about the reality of predators among us, the more we can stand up and do something about it. Because surely, the more that people can learn to trust gut instincts (we all have them) and the more we can act as a result, the more people can learn how to identify a threat and protect themselves accordingly. At the moment, sociopaths can more easily hide in a society that could arguably be said is psychopathic in its’ structure.
What do I mean? I mean the accepted (encouraged?) focus on greed, competition, looking out for number one, and the glib use of the phrase “it’s not personal you know!” All these go against our natural instincts.  They encourage us to toughen up and hide our feelings. They encourage us to ignore our own internal sat-nav system that’s there for our own protection – for fear that we’re making a fuss? That we’re wrong? That it’s a storm in a teacup? That really – who are we to judge anyway? Better to put on a brave face and carry on regardless.
Well no, I don’t think it is. Too often (particularly in the corporate environment) I hear what I call the business babble of false words, double-speak and turning a blind eye. People carry on and ignore the fact that they are suffering. Until something happens…
Here’s a great example. I was working with a board of directors. To say they were dysfunctional is an understatement. There was much finger pointing and whispering behind closed doors, but no direct or honest conversations. The blame was placed squarely at the feet of one particular person – their boss. A lady who, it was deemed, was ‘beyond help’ – the archetypal corporate bully who was so emotionally detached from her team, they felt helpless and depressed. It was during a group session that something changed. The boss was away doing ‘important things’ so could not attend the session. All of a sudden, one small, quiet voice spoke out:“We may not be able to change HER, but we CAN change how we respond to her” he said “we all know when she does something mean or wrong, but we’ve kept quiet about it. Now it’s out in the open. Now we’ve all acknowledged what she’s like. So now it’s time for us to stick together and just say no. It’s our duty – to ourselves and to our teams”
A few seconds of shocked silence was followed by smiles, nods and an impromptu round of applause, and a few misty eyes as well. Something had happened. The group had acknowledged that something was wrong. They’d reclaimed their power and decided to stop letting the bad stuff happen.
The silence was broken. They’d spoken out. And now they were working together. That boss could never again hold them in such a stranglehold – her time was over, and theirs had just begun.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Lovefraud: Actions Speak Louder Than Words


This week I’ve been inspired by another motivational quote that I hadn’t seen for a while:
”What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
And it got me thinking. Looking back over my own experiences of abusive people, I realize that I believed words over actions. That because the things they were doing were so divorced from the story I was being told, I decided that I must have misunderstood. It must be me who is misinterpreting the situation. It must be because I’m giving out mixed messages. Heck, perhaps it’s just that I’m asking too much – perhaps I just need to be grateful for what I have and be more understanding of the other person’s point of view?
When I was wrapped-up and trapped in the warped relationship that I believed was real love, I hadn’t realized quite how much I was enabling the situation by my own excuses or blinkered outlook. I sometimes wonder how much earlier I might have broken free if I’d actually given myself more credit and prodded harder at the smiling façade that masked the bitter truth.
Who Am I To Judge…?
By the way, I’m not saying that I blame myself, nor am I saying that I think I was wrong. Far from it, in actual fact. As I said in a previous post, we can only judge situations and people by what we already know – we see things not as they are but as we are. That’s why, in my opinion, we excuse and brush aside negative behaviours and situations that from a realistic perspective are absolutely not ok.
For me, I know that I would regularly dismiss warning signs that something was wrong. “It’s alright” I’d say to myself, ”s/he didn’t mean to upset me. S/he doesn’t know any better – and anyway, nobody’s perfect, right? Who am I to judge?” I’d then pour more love and compassion on the situation, and inadvertently play right in to the path of more damage.
Yes, like so many of us, I hold my hand up, because now I understand that I was a willing victim. I played my part to perfection “Bravo Mel, compelling performance, encore!” And I’d continue to perfect my role of blissfully happy and in-love, whilst at the same time unknowingly building my own façade and continuing to lose myself along the way.
In the early days after the truth came to light, I blamed myself for so many things – veering from broken-hearted disbelief “What happened? When did I lose him? How could I have shown more love?” to the coldly self-critical “Why couldn’t I see what was going on right under my nose? I must be stupid!”
It’s taken a long time, and a huge amount of determination to work through the questions and re-connect with myself. And it’s been worth it. Because now I understand what was happening. I understand that in healthy relationships, other people’s actions do indeed speak louder than words. I also understand that a sociopath on the other hand can use such a barrage of flowery and compelling arguments, that it becomes nigh on impossible to see the wood for the trees!
Listen And Feel
And at the same time, with the benefit of hindsight and distance, I now recognize that I had another action-related guidance system I could have consulted that would always have told me the truth of the situation. And that was the feelings that were within me. The shivers down my spine when I saw his flashes of anger. The twist in my stomach when plans suddenly changed at the last moment. The tiredness behind my eyes when once again I couldn’t make sense of a situation. Those clues, those ‘actions’ were all there. But, instead of going within for answers, instead I’d check outside of myself to understand what was happening. Each time I’d voice my concerns, or ask questions – and each time the confident responses would flow out. Easily, effortlessly, and with what seemed like a perfectly logical situation. Each time those responses would be sealed with a Judas-kiss, or a squeeze on the shoulders, or those well-used words “Come on, you know I love you, it’s you and me against the world!” and the accompanying look of pity that made me feel I must be stupid.
I remember searching for physical signs that I was being told the truth – after all, I worked in the field of human behaviours, so accurately reading the non-verbal clues that show themselves in any communication was my profession, right? Hmmmm…. wrong. Because now, of course, I realise that the sociopath is a pathological liar. They can reason with any number of untruths – no matter how far fetched – and make the story so compelling that they are believed. And, because they demonstrate none of the usual non-verbal signs of a liar, there is no way of gauging the truth behind the words that are being spoken. So in the case of dealing with a sociopath, there will be no supporting ‘actions’ to determine whether the story is a true fact or a deliberate web of lies. And that was where I allowed myself to be scuppered – time and time again. I was looking for the physical responses (nervousness, sweating, tiny changes of expression, eye movements – all the things I’d studied for years and knew so well) and when none were apparent, I concluded that I’d made a mistake. And so would start, once again, my internal criticism and determination to be more loving and less judgmental.
Let’s just get clear here. The truth was there all along. Because the actions I could have been taking notice of were my own internal responses. Those were the actions that spoke louder than words. Those were the signs I could have believed. But at the time I had no comprehension that anyone could possibly tell bare-faced lies without displaying some kind of unconscious signal associated with lying. Equally, of course, I had no comprehension of psychopaths.
I said that one of my automatic responses used to be “Who am I to judge?” Well, in actual fact, who am I NOT to judge? What gave me the right to put myself down, to banish my intuition, to shut up and put up when, as I now know, there were so many things I could have done when faced with an unhealthy situation! But at the time, well, I didn’t know what I didn’t know – so like all of us, I did the very best I could.
Yes, hindsight and distance has brought me a wisdom I didn’t possess when I most needed it. I guess my intention in this post is to pass on what I’ve learned – because had I known then what I know now, I’m convinced that I would have paid far more attention to the warning signals that showed themselves time and time again through my own senses. I would have known, beyond question, that what was happening was notok. I would also have realised that I was dealing with something that was totally alien, and that I’d be wise to seek out and learn as much as I could from others who ‘knew’ before planning my next moves.
I now believe that it was my naivety that played a big part in keeping me trapped. Because these days, even the slightest flutter within alerts me to the fact that something is not right. These days I take action to support my internal guidance. These days I pay much more attention to the non-verbal messages that my body transmits any time I choose to tune in. These days I’ve learned that they are always right, even though they may seem at first to be misplaced. As a result I’m delighted to be surrounded by a set of healthier relationships than I’ve ever experienced before.
And the bottom line is that the buck stops here. With me. Because, if I don’t learn to listen to and look after myself, well nobody else is going to do it for me – because if I don’t practice self-compassion, I won’t even be able to notice it in others, let alone accept it!
It’s taken time, patience, and a whole heap of gently saying “ssshhh!” when words have threatened to create too much distraction – my own or those of other people. As a result I’m now convinced more than ever that actions really do speak louder than words. I’d believed it to be true for many years – but now, though, there’s a small but critical difference in my understanding. That difference is my focus on which actions to believe; only those of others, or also those of myself? Those tiny internal responses that always speak the truth above anything else…
And you know what? The warm happy feeling that’s rising inside me right now as I finish this post, tells me that I’m indeed on the right track :-)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Lovefraud: Chain Reactions


It’s been another interesting week for me with a good few ‘ah-ha’ moments sprinkled in along the way. So this week I decided to write about how we are influenced as well as how we influence others and ourselves. First off, I’m wondering how many of you have seen the Skype Laughter Chain on Youtube?
The description below it says “Laughter brings us closer together – it’s a language we all understand. It’s also contagious..” and it was made by filming peoples’ reactions as they watched other people laughing. My son introduced it to me at Christmas, and since then I’ve watched it over and over as I continue to share it with friends. And you know what? Each time I can’t help but start giggling within seconds of it starting, and I always end up laughing out loud – even though I’ve seen it all before!
And so it got me thinking. And I started wondering about how just one thought or direction can influence us and how, if we choose where to focus, we can change our mood in just a few moments. The laughter-chain example is, of course, a positive influencer – and one I highly recommend to brighten up your day. On the other side though, (as all of us here know) we can also be influenced by negative messages. It’s the same physical process, but in these instances I believe a better label is ‘manipulation’ rather than influence.
The Inner Spiral
Sadly, we all know how it feels to be told or have it implied that we’re not good enough. We know the pain. We understand the shame. And I guess most of us are also familiar with the spiral of doubt and fear that is then triggered inside? For me it was a familiar feeling – and because it was so familiar, I would slip in to it easily and effortlessly, adding my own internal critic to whatever judgments I felt were coming at me from the outside.“Foolish girl,” I’d curse in my head “you shouldn’t have done that! You should have known it would only cause trouble!” It was a subconscious reaction, and while the criticism burrowed in to eat away at my self-esteem, I kept the painted smile on my face in an attempt to mask my pain.
But of course the pain didn’t go away. In fact it got worse, as I continued to allow ‘bad things’ to worm their way in and take hold on my self-image. When I was still a child, after my parents died, I regularly received the message that I was worthless. That somehow I was to blame, and that I’d never amount to anything. As I grew up I worked to counteract those damaging messages and learned how to feel good about myself. When, many years later it finally dawned on me that I was being subjected to the exact same manipulation by the man I called my soulmate, well then I just knew I had to find a way to break free and heal.
It is said that we don’t know what we don’t know – so ok, if we don’t understand that we’re being controlled and manipulated well, then that’s all there is to it. We just don’t know. But surely, once we’re aware of what’s happening, whilst we may not immediately know the answer, it must stand to reason therefore that we can decide to do something about it? Doesn’t it? Equally, surely the seeds of strength, the beginning of reclaiming our power, must lie purely in that decision alone? Because as human beings, once we settle on something, our minds can’t help but start searching for ways in which to achieve our resolve.
Now then, I am not naive or insensitive enough to suggest that just by deciding to do something that our situation will instantly change. Of course not. I understand that there is no simple solution for escaping the grips of any abusive kind of situation. I’ve been there too many times to know that it takes focus, courage and determination to make lasting changes. And as I’ve said before, I know the ensuing journey can be fraught with challenges along the way.
One Thought At A Time
What I am saying, though, is that it is always within our power to create some kind of positive improvement in our experiences – no matter what the situation or difficulty we’re facing. And I’m also saying that, with consistent practice, we can eventually create new habits that serve to support us and eventually help us break free.
I remember in the early days (not long after I discovered the meaning of the word ‘sociopath’ in actual fact) I was standing in my kitchen, holding on to the sink for dear life while my body shuddered with painful sobs. Confused, hurt, and still trying to understand where I had gone wrong, a fleeting thought suddenly entered my head. I had read an article on Lovefraud earlier on that day, and it went along the lines that we can’t ever make sense of their madness. That the void is their problem, not our doing – and with that I pulled myself back, stood up straight, and declared out loud “this is not my fault! It never was!” and with that I got up and searched out some defiant music. Around that time Pink’s “So What” became a firm favourite…!
It only took that one thought. That one fleeting realization, to cause a chain reaction of similar thoughts that led me to seek out the music. And once the music was on, I started jumping round the kitchen, punching the air with my fists and singing (well, shouting!) at the top of my voice. And boy did I feel better!
Did it mean that I’d solved my problems? No, of course it didn’t.. Nor did it mean that all my difficulties miraculously disappeared. But what it did mean was that in those few moments I felt better – and right then, that was all that mattered.
And you know what? As I’ve moved forward and continued my healing journey, I’ve come to realize that how I feel is really all that matters. Because when I feel good, I know I can stand up against anyone or anything that threatens me or those close to me. When I feel good, I can also give more love and kindness to people I care about. When I feel good, I can get on and secure business deals and widen my network.
So yes, these days perhaps more than ever, I am still acutely conscious about the thoughts and decisions that effect my day. I may not always be able to blast out music, and it may not always be appropriate to dance around shouting at the top of my voice. But even if I can’t do it in person, I can always imagine it – and there is no person and no situation that can ever stop my imagination.
Even in public – a crowded tube, a busy supermarket or even a silent library for example – it makes no difference. Because my thoughts and imagination are just that… mine. They belong to me and nobody else. So, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can choose to create a party in my head… and guaranteed it will soon make me smile. And then… guess what… my smile may then be seen by somebody else who will also smile… and then their smile may be noticed by someone else… How’s that for a chain reaction?
I happen to believe that any of us here can help to positively influence ourselves and others along the journey to healing after the devastation created by sociopathic personalities. We’ve all been there, seen it and got the T-shirt – many of us are still battling to break free. And right here on this site, we’re in exactly the right place to share, to mend and eventually to become whole again.
A huge thank you to Donna for having the foresight and courage to create this site in the first place, and a massive TOWANDA to everyone who has found their way here. Because now we’re all part of our own chain reaction to heal and reclaim who we really are.


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Lovefraud: Seeing Things As We Are


Last week found me involved in an unusually high number of conversations about sociopathy. By now I’m no stranger to explaining my own experiences to incredulous people and then patiently answering their questions and putting in to plain words the fact that no, a sociopath will not even begin to know the meaning of the word ‘sorry’ let alone feel it!
“But surely Mel, I know if I’d done something even remotely as heartless as the person you’ve just described… well, I’d be eaten up with guilt! I couldn’t sleep at night!” they exclaim, eyes wide open and hands held to their face. “Surely deep down they must know they’ve done wrong and feel ashamed?”
Each time I hear that kind of response, I just smile, take a deep breath and prepare to explain in yet another way that no – these people simply don’t have the same responses that we do. They are devoid of conscience and empathy, they don’t feel sorry for the things they do, and in actual fact they don’t ‘feel’ emotions in the same way we do – period!
And that is where I believe it can be such a challenge for those of us to know to get others to believe what we’re saying. Because, as the French author Anais Nin so eloquently put it “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are” And of course it makes perfect sense. We use our own judgment and experiences to make sense of the world around us, and because we have a set of emotions and responses, we expect other human beings to have something similar.
The Looking Glass
This perfectly natural trait of human acceptance is also a response on which con-artists and tricksters depend. They’ll target honest open people who judge others as they judge themselves – and because they wouldn’t dream of deliberately conning another, they can’t comprehend that the person in front of them is anything other than who or what they profess to be. A variation on the old theme of “do as you would be done by” it’s a case of“understand according to your own experiences”. And when you think about it, how can anyone really be expected to understand other than from their own experiences?
It’s like, say, when we’re having a conversation with a friend and they’re explaining something they’ve seen or somewhere they’ve been without us for example. When things don’t quite make sense, we might screw up our face, scratch our chin, and search through our memory banks until we find something in our own experience that seems somewhat similar. Then we can make sense of what they’re saying and we say “ah, yes, now I know what you mean! You’re saying it’s like… blah blah…”
A disco mirror-ball invites us to do something similar. The broken up little squares might promise me a new perspective – but when I look in to it the reflection is still always the same. It’s me. How could it be anything else?
I remember when my discovery of the nature of sociopaths suddenly made ghastly sense of what had happened to me. I remember the horror as well as the relief. The burning need to learn more and yet the impossible struggle to grasp that such alien creatures actually live and breath among us – let alone that I was married to one! I just couldn’t get it! It was only after trawling through so many incidents that had left me hurt and bewildered, only after mentally finding a number of examples for each of Dr Hare’s checklist subjects that I could finally let the truth settle.
So, there I was, only truly believing it once I had made sure with my own internal reference points!
It’s Just Not Me!
Blinkered? Foolish? Or just following my natural instinct to see others as we see ourselves? The jury may be out on that one, but I plump for the last option – because I happen to believe it’s the truth.
That’s how we can remain duped for so long. That’s how they can get away with their repetitive and increasingly outrageous bad behaviour. That’s why when they plead and say sorry, we believe that they are – because that’s how we would respond ourselves if we were in their shoes!
And that is why, for those of us who know, it’s such an uphill battle and constant struggle to convince others that what we’re saying is true. That’s why I regularly heard a set of questions that at the time felt like accusations “But if all this was really going on behind your back, how on earth didn’t you notice anything?”  “Why didn’t you check more closely?” Because I would never have imagined behaving in that way, that’s why. Because I believed that the love was real. Because I’ve jolly well got values and a solid understanding of right and wrong – that’s why for goodness sakes!
And yes, I know and fully understand all that now, but at the time it was happening I felt that I was being attacked all over again. If somebody didn’t believe me, then surely it meant that I wasn’t worthy of being believed. If another person was so convinced that I should have noticed something, well then perhaps it meant that I was stupid. The shame kicked in, the self-doubt reared inside me, and I’d slink down to hide myself from the humiliation.
But the thing is, though, how could I have expected someone who hadn’t actually been in my place to understand something that I even struggled with myself – and I’d been the one in the firing line!
I can’t go back in time – well, not yet in any case, so far as I know time travel is still something that has yet to be mastered – but if I could I know now that I would have been much better protected against the innocently persistent questions that were thrown at me by well meaning friends and colleagues. They weren’t doubting me – they were just trying to understand something that was so completely out of their sphere of reference, it just didn’t make sense. But at the time, my response was to recoil and shut up. Drawbridge up, shutters down, and don’t say another word.
These days it’s different. These days I have achieved sufficient distance to answer any number of questions calmly and with compassion. I welcome the questions as an opportunity to test my ability to explain. To strengthen my mental flexibility and to deepen my comprehension.
And with each new conversation, I find I’m becoming better equipped to answer and educate – maybe not to the level of the full experiential comprehension that we share here on this site of course; I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But slowly, surely, I do believe that it’s possible to find ways to help the unsuspecting and incredulous understand and take heed. And I believe that it’s the likes of us, those who’ve been there seen it and got the T-shirt who can become hugely influential in getting the message out there. I realise there’s a long way to go, but the crusade is growing – and I have a feeling in my soul that little by little the worm is turning.
So watch out spaths, psychos and all you other misfits. You can run but you can’t hide for ever, because ready or not we’re coming to get you.


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Lovefraud: New Beginnings

Happy New Year everybody! I’d really love to reach out to everyone on this site to give you a huge hug for 2012 and say thank you for allowing me to be part of your community. Even though I can’t physically do it in person right now, I hope you can feel it any way :-)
Perhaps not surprisingly, I am choosing this week to talk about new starts, new beginnings and renewed hope. Over the holidays I came across a statement that resonated with me on numerous levels.
“You can’t reach out for the new until you let go of what is in your hand!”
It’s another of those simple yet deeply profound wisdoms that convey the truth in a way that can be instantly understood. I smiled when I first read it – then came a few nods of the head followed by an inner “Ah-ha” and an even wider smile for reasons that I’m about to explain.
The past few weeks have been, for me, another period of huge inner voyaging and discovery. It hasn’t been easy and at times it’s been acutely painful. This particular journey was not sparked by anything external – nope, on that front my life’s in pretty good shape. I’m free from the ex (in all ways), I am surrounded by loving friends and family, and my career is in great shape.
So no, this time I believe it all came about as a result of finishing the manuscript for my book. You see, in the process, I had dug up old feelings, relived past experiences, and gone back over situations that I hadn’t considered for years. Yes it’s been hugely cathartic – and I would have been a fool if I thought that writing about deeply personal experiences going back to my early childhood would pass by unnoticed. Of course, yes, I understood that it was bound to have a knock-on effect. Emotions and memories were bound to have been stirred up – it’s only natural!
Out With The Old!
What I hadn’t quite counted on, though, was that the settling process after all that jiggling around would present me with quite so many challenges. All those memories, you see, all those ‘facts’ about things that had happened, all the ‘history’ of events that went together and got me to where I am today had become solid foundations. Re-visiting and re-living them, and then writing them down in a format that would be of interest to others, necessitated that I consider new perspectives. That process alone meant that the ‘solidity’ of my unconscious memories were rocked. It meant that many of the things I had just accepted as ‘fact’ now deserved a new set of questions – well, that’s what it meant for me in any case!
All of a sudden I found myself feeling pretty lost. It was weird. My ‘external’ life (family, friends, home, work) was – and is – totally sorted. As I’ve said before, that particular war was finished and done with a good while ago. But on the inside, I was suddenly starting to ask myself questions that had never occurred to me before. Going over my past caused me to re-write my own inner emotional history – which meant re-evaluating and shifting my present understanding today about who I am.
With my old unconscious ‘facts’ now re-examined and out in the open, the foundations of my belief system had quietly become unsettled. Technically, if my belief system had shifted, then surely I was in a place to consciously give my life a makeover?  Surely now I could choose how much to keep, how much to throw away and how much new stuff to bring in… couldn’t I? But the strange thing is, with the core foundations moved, I found it increasingly difficult to find my footing – or to ‘get a grip!’ as I found myself saying many times to my reflection!
I had honestly thought that finishing the book would be the end of it – like drawing the curtain after the final act. End of, job done, pat on the back and move on. Well I was wrong. In actual fact it turned out to be the calm before the storm. This time, though, the storm crept up stealthily and took it’s time before building in to a tornado that was determined to rock my world!  Taken by surprise, and unprepared for this new twist, it proved to be a white-knuckle ride that left me very much shaken not stirred!
Just Let Go
It won’t come as a surprise to many of you to know that I found it pretty tricky to just let go and ‘go with the flow’. I’m one of those people who like to retain an element of control (my friends would say perhaps too much!) so when I found that I simply couldn’t get any traction, I felt scared and often panicky. And we all know how this goes – the more scared I felt, the more I panicked, and the less capable I became of getting any emotional footing whatsoever. It was exhausting!
But at some point, I can’t pinpoint exactly when it was, I realised that I was actually being given no other option than to give up, give in and let go. To trust and have faith that I was safe and heading for a better place, and just allow myself to go with it, wherever it was taking me. And you know what? It worked. Well, of course it did – and the absurdity of the situation is that I always knew in my soul that it would. So I got to wondering how I’d once again fallen in to the trap of struggling against myself during a process which, ultimately, has brought me even more peace and confidence than ever before!
That was exactly the time when I came across the phrase I started with earlier “you can’t reach out for the new until you let go of what is in your hand!” Of course, of course! Even though I know all this stuff (as I believe we all do) it can still be tricky spotting and changing old habits. Habits, it is said, are like a comfy bed – easy to get in to and very difficult to get out of. Yep, ain’t that the truth!
Letting go seems such a wonderful idea – and I know so many people, myself included, who say “wouldn’t it be amazing to just be free and go with the flow?” It makes such perfect sense, and yet the strange thing is (from my experience in any case) that it can take a tremendous amount of courage and determination to relax and accept. From my point of view, I realised that I had still been holding on to old stuff while expecting to be able to welcome in fresh ideas….! But how could I possibly reach out and grab hold of anything new if my hands were already full? Crazy, really, when you look at it that way wouldn’t you agree?
And so now here I am. The emotional storm has passed by and I am once again surrounded by blue skies, sunshine and birdsong – this time even brighter and more beautiful than ever before. It may have been trickier than I’d expected, and I may well have put myself through unnecessary struggles on the way, but yes, I can honestly hold my hand on my heart and say that I have indeed let go of the old. Well, at least I’ve let go of the old that was in my way this time – I’m quite sure I’ll come across more old stuff as I continue on this wonderful journey called life!
Having scraped away at old rusty beliefs and rigid opinions that had hitherto kept me in a particular place (don’t get me wrong, all have been exceptionally useful for many years, but many are just no longer appropriate) this New Year finds me stepping forward from the firmest foundations I can ever remember experiencing.
In all honesty, I have no idea where this year is going to find me.  I don’t know how many of the exciting projects that I’m discussing will come off – or how they’re going to develop. Indeed, I haven’t got a clue about how many other opportunities might present themselves over the course of the next twelve months… who does? What I do know without question that I can look back at where I’ve come from, give myself a huge pat on the back, and look to the future with nothing but excitement and joy. It’s been a tough ride with massive ups and downs – but you know what? From where I am standing right now, in this very moment, I wouldn’t change a thing.
So, come on 2012, let’s buckle up and enjoy the ride – Bring it on!


Original link on Lovefraud here