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

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.