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, 8 January 2013

Lovefraud: I'm Still Standing!

Well, 2013 has arrived so I’d like to wish a very Happy New Year to everyone here on Lovefraud. I’d also like to make an official announcement (thank you Donna) to say that my book has finally been published! Hoorah! It’s been one heck of a journey getting to this stage, but it certainly feels worth it – the excitement tinged with a touch of fear (will people like it? Will it help others?) has meant that I’ve been gently fizzing for the past ten days.

Why did I decide to pour my heart and soul out in a book that can be read by anyone who chooses? To be fair it’s a question I’m asking myself more now than ever. Because the old worry monsters are once again rumbling inside me, but I won’t let them take over. I decided that perhaps writing about my decision will help to quieten them – after all, it has helped me to work through things many times in the past. And where better to share these thoughts than here, on the site that gave me so much hope and inspiration during the dark days following my discovery of the truth?

The Roots Of My Career

My profession, as many of you already know, is that of a leadership development coach – working with senior people and their teams, helping them through times of change and challenge, and helping them to find their inner strength and confidence. It’s a career that has spanned more than fifteen years, and I absolutely love it. Even now I still get a huge buzz when one of my clients makes a breakthrough – it’s a huge responsibility, and I feel honoured that I’m able to work so closely with people.

What made me choose this particular path? I can honestly say that it’s purely down to my personal experiences as I was growing up. I faced a number of difficult times – orphaned by the time I was sixteen, and dealing with all kinds of emotional fallout as a result. Not least of which was learning to survive in a series of new worlds that at times, threatened to bring me to my knees.

It’s true to say that had I known then what I now know, I may not have found the strength to carry on. But instead I just kept digging deeper and deeper each time a new trauma hit.

Helping Others

Now I am grateful for everything that happened, because through those times I learned how to become resilient. I learned how to roll with the punches and keep going no matter what was happening around me. I became an avid student of self-help and personal development, and it seemed a natural choice to dedicate my career to helping others. After all, I knew from personal experience just what it takes to weather the storms and surprises that life can throw!

But I never shared the intimate details of my past with my clients. Instead I continued to fine-tune my skills and approach, and quickly gained a good reputation as a professional and motivational coach. I loved the fact that I could connect with others on such a deep level (perhaps because my experiences meant I could empathise in some way with many of the challenges that others were facing?) and the more I worked in this way, the more I developed my approach.

The Deepest Cut Of All

I thought that life was perfect. I’d found happiness with a man I loved with all my heart and soul, and I was happy in my work. Little did I realise just how valuable the skills I was teaching others would become in later years!

The final and most devastating hit came in April of 2009, when I made the discovery that my marriage was a sham. All of us here, sadly, have our own stories of betrayal and abuse at the hands of another – so I won’t go over my own account again here. Suffice it to say, that when the truth finally came out, it was enough to nearly finish me off. I had already come through so much in my life, the devastation hit me with such a mighty force that I thought I would not survive.

But I did. As all of us here, I’ve had to battle my way back out from the depths of despair – and it’s been darned hard work.

Writing It Out

It was a few weeks after the ‘earthquake’ that a wise friend of mine advised I should just “write it all out, Mel… write it out. Don’t judge, don’t criticize, don’t edit. Just write it all out as it’s happening, and soon you’ll start making sense of it all” I didn’t realize it at the time, but she had also been married to a sociopath, so she knew what she was talking about!

That is exactly what I did. I started in a journal, but soon decided it would suit me better to write from my computer. I found Google’s Blogger application, and started keeping accounts of my thoughts and feelings as the story began to unfold. I didn’t make it a daily chore, I just took to my keyboard whenever I felt like it.

The blog was my own personal diary, but after a short while, I decided to share it with a few friends. To be honest, it often felt easier to say “here, read this – it will tell you what’s going on for me”rather than having to explain over and over again the madness of the nightmare that had become my life. As a result, I started to receive messages of encouragement and understanding. Messages that I could print out and keep by my computer, reminding me during the dark days that there were people out there who cared and who understood.

Opening Up To Others

To my utter surprise, some friends wrote to me to say that they felt inspired and uplifted by my accounts – and I kept being told that I should consider opening up the blog to a wider audience.

So eventually that’s what I did. Slowly, “Life’s Little Lettuces” started to attract an audience, until I had readers from many countries across the world. I continued to receive emails from people, thanking me for sharing my experiences. They told me that it helped them to make sense of their own lives. At times I was overwhelmed by the way that people would pour out their own stories to me – and thank me for openly sharing! Yes it was often scary 'putting myself out there' – and at the same time, the messages from others gave me hope and encouragement to carry on.

A Book Is Born

I don’t remember the first time that someone wrote to me to suggest I should consider writing a book about my experiences, but after I received the message a few times, I decided to do just that. And “I’m Still Standing” was born.

In writing the book, I knew I would have to provide more background to the story. I knew that I would have to explain about my childhood. And I was afraid. What would people think? What would my clients think? All the people I’d worked with, how would they react when they read my story?

But I went ahead and did it. It was hard work – and at the same time, hugely cathartic. There were many times when I was writing the manuscript that I would be sitting furiously typing away with tears rolling down my cheeks. It was the first time that I’d been able to acknowledge, in black and white, just how darned difficult life had been. I felt angry, then slowly I started to feel proud. Proud of what I’d achieved, and full of love for how much I had overcome.

My book appeared on Amazon Kindle worldwide on 21st December 2012, but the official release date was 18th December – my birthday. It is also available for download on iBooks and other ebook retailers. The paperback edition will be out in the UK in April this year, and soon after in the USA.

So now the truth is out there. I am both excited and afraid. I don’t know how my clients will react. I don’t know how others will react. But I do know this. If my account can in any way help others, well then it kind of makes everything worthwhile.

Thank you for reading, and thank you all for your continued support. This is such a loving, caring community here, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Special Invitation To Lovefraud Community

I have a small number of limited edition paperbacks that will be printed this month. They are to help with the PR and for competition giveaways. I would like to offer two limited edition copies (signed and with a personal dedication) to the Lovefraud community. If you are interested, please send an email to mel@lovefraud.com and I will pick two winners at random towards the end of the month.
Thank you again, and thanks particularly to Donna for creating this magical space where we can learn, share and heal. Happy New Year to everyone - here's to 2013, may it bring happiness and hope to us all.