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, 6 April 2016

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged?

I remember learning from a young age that judgement is a bad thing. That if we call out faults in another person or situation, it's because our own faults are showing themselves through the mirror of that event. More to the point, if I am sitting in judgement, then how can I really have a clear conscience, let alone call myself a caring, empathic person?

Still I can vividly recall the hot flush of guilt any time I'd feel something to be wrong. Because it meant I was judging - and that's not right. Right? 

I remember many evenings my guardian coming home from work. Often we would have had something to laugh about, and would be smiling comfortably together. I'd hear the front door slam, wait for the rattle of keys as he hung up his jacket, and then feel my tummy churning as he slid in to the kitchen - dreading the all too familiar tightened smile and cocky bounce. Because that meant one of us would be in the line of fire - at best humiliated, at worst sent to bed crying. I realise now that I lived with an overwhelming duty to protect, and I'd trained myself to be on guard for the unexpected. I felt it my obligation to rescue the situation, with humour, deflection or what I call 'dancing to please'...

It seemed I was the only one who could actually see what he was doing - how he deliberately deflated our fun and put us down, whether with looks, words or actions. Diminishing others was one of his favourites - particularly close relatives. He'd encourage his young children to practice short impressions of them, deliberately designed to embarrass and belittle. I'd see the whole game playing out - us trying be part of the 'fun' while his eyes flashed with enjoyment as his targets squirmed (and still laughed along) as they were ridiculed. 

I felt so bad. So often. Bad because I could see the bad stuff happening. Therefore, surely that must mean I'm bad because I'm seeing my own reflection? Or is it as my guardian said I'm 'uptight' and can't take a joke. Perhaps I should lighten-up. Perhaps I should just join in the sarcasm and barbed humour. But I couldn't. Why? Because I knew. And yet at the same time I was riddled with doubt. 

People regularly told me how lucky I was to have been given such a lovely home after mum died. "Such lovely people, such a lovely family! You really are very lucky Melanie, it could have been so much worse!" They'd come to the house, and smile and chat with my guardian. They seemed blind to the pain that both my sister and I were suffering. They were equally blind to the lies and covert bullying I saw happening in plain sight! Why couldn't they see it happening too? 

So I began to believe that I must be the one with the problem. That my churning tummy and feelings of discomfort were all because there was something wrong with me. So I pushed down my feelings, ignored the churning, and instead focused more and more on trying to fit in, to please, and to be accepted.

I followed this path for an entire lifetime. I bought in to society's broadcasts that say put the other person first. I swallowed the fairytale that if I love someone enough, they will heal. I happily put my faith in the forward-focus of goals and planning... and bit by bit, day by day, I numbed my true-self in to a comatose existence. 

Pleasing others, accepting who they are, flexing my behaviours to suit, and pouring more care and attention in to every situation, I was slowly killing myself in the process. And the crazy thing is? I didn't even realise it was happening...

Today of course I real-eyes that there was nothing wrong with me - there never was. What I witnessed was the truth. And when I stood up to protect, to fight for what was right, I was the one that was made the black-sheep. It's only in recent times that I understand why. I've finally 'got' the bigger picture. It's all finally clicked in to place.... Let me explain...

I was talking with a beautiful lady just this week about this subject of judgement. She, like me, had bought in to the idea that if we notice 'bad' in a situation, it's a reflection of the 'badness' that's in us - which is actually as nonsensical as the whole original sin idea that's pushed at us through many channels. Like many of us before, she'd been accused of being too needy when she'd asked for validation that what she was doing was right. This wasn't in a relationship. This was in the workplace. 

My experiences with sociopaths - personal and through the many targets I've worked with since the publication of my book, have opened my eyes to the fact that this is a perfect cover that allows manipulators to destroy people in front of others, because they just can't see it happening. Speak up they say. Own your feelings. Get real about what's going on for you! Yet if I dare to question something because it's somehow not quite right, or I'm just not getting the answers I'm looking for - then of course I can be pilloried as the one who is at fault. I'm over emotional, and clearly I have more work to do on myself in order to heal these feelings of inadequacy. You know that judgement is such a nasty trait.... so yes, there you go Mel, you've noticed what it is you need to heal! Well done. Now off you go and work harder on yourself, you've a long way to go.

Leaving the people around marvelling at the wisdom, while the manipulator rubs his or her hands, and keeps strengthening their skills of hiding in plain sight. The target, of course, is left bewildered and believing once again that they are wrong. Clever eh? Yes. And it's going on every day and in every walk of life. 

This is how it's happening my friends. This is how so many of us, striving to be good people (because that's what we are) end up being whittled away to nothing - while the other good people around us are oblivious, because while they continue buying in to these rules, they're also being numbed down as well.

Judgement is absolutely a right thing! It's our inner guidance, our sat nav, our instinct, our core, our soul... it's nudging us to say that something's not right, or could be improved. If we ignore, dim down or lose our sense of judgement, then how on earth are we ever going to know what's right or wrong for us - as individuals, teams, businesses and nations? And, for those of us who know what it's like to be sucked dry by a sociopath, without our judgement in tact, surely we're leaving ourselves open to be duped again?

Let me just be clear here - I'm not saying that everyone who talks about judgement as a bad thing is a sociopath. Neither am I saying that the intention behind what they are saying and the advice they are giving is anything other than honest and caring. No. That's not it at all.

What I AM saying, is that there are numerous 'rules' we buy in to and happily engage in with innocence... and it's these rules that provide shelter and nourishment to manipulators. 

They're subtle. They're clever. So understated that the vast majority of people don't notice what's happening. But I do. I always have done. And many others do as well.

My work now is about honouring intuition, recognising feelings, and increasing our own power to detect the truth and make judgements based on that truth. Without fear of guilt, shame or "not being good enough". That's the way we'll all see the manipulation for what it is, without having to go through the years of pain so many of us have suffered - and the minute we see what's happening, it loses power. That's the way we can live in openness, authenticity and love.

It's about learning first to trust in ourselves, and then in others - because then we'll know for sure the difference between truth and lies. I grew up in a world that taught me to do it the wrong way around... I'm here to set the rules straight. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Daring to Look Under the Carpet - Reclaiming my Birth Name

What springs to mind when you imagine looking under the carpet?  I’m not talking about a rug, or a mat, or a runner – I’m talking about a fully fitted carpet that’s been in place for many years. It’s laid silently under foot, furniture and food for all manner of family gatherings – parties, playtimes and celebrations. It’s held babies as they dribble through from crawling to walking. It’s soothed pets rolling, sleeping and scratching. It’s witnessed breakups and makeups and all manner of other life time shakeups. And still it stays.
So now, can you get a better idea about the dirt, grime and unidentifiable ‘stuff’ that might fester there underneath the carpet pile? Yep, I scrunched my nose up as well – and yet that is where I have metaphorically visited this weekend. I finally found the route to venture under the rich and colourful carpet of my life to find out what was lurking underneath.
To my surprise I discovered treasure; a truth that had eluded me and had been buried there. It’s a beautiful, big, sparkling bundle of treasure that shines bright with its own powerful and loving energy. And that hoard of huge riches had been swept away and hidden under the carpet. No wonder I’d been tripping over so often!
In recent months, I’ve been experiencing resistance and struggle on various levels – from IT equipment suddenly not working to my car blowing up on the way back from dropping a friend at the airport. From ‘in the bag’ work contracts dissolving at the last moment, to uncharacteristic behaviour from people I believed I knew well. Illnesses, missed appointments, losing things… you name it. It’s been getting ridiculous! And it’s not just me – it seems to be happening with other people who are on this journey with me. To the point where there’s no other helpful response than to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
While I’ve been perfectly able to continue surfing the waves (this is all comparatively small stuff when I remind myself of the other challenges I’ve overcome) none the less it’s been frustrating, and has started to become exhausting. I’ve known that the answer to all of this lies within me – yet for some reason it didn’t matter where I looked, how far I went in, what additional tools I called on to find ‘whatever it was’ nothing seemed to change.
Until it suddenly hit me. I was in my kitchen on Sunday evening, making a batch of fig and ginger chutney that I’d promised myself I’d do after two years. All of this had been niggling at me, and perhaps it was the action of stirring the saucepan, or perhaps just because I was doing something I’d been looking forward to – I don’t know – either way, it just suddenly hit me that I was being inauthentic. Yes, I had not been being true to myself – and in that moment everything fell in to place!
My work, my life – my mission if you like – is all about authenticity, cutting through the crap and speaking out for what is right. And here I was, steadily creating a whole life and is-ness around that, when I suddenly realised what had been holding me back. Of course it was me. And when it hit me, it was all so blindingly obvious, as I find these things usually are – it’s never rocket science!
whats wrong with just being you
It was all in my name. I was not using my true name. Something that (ironically) started when I wrote my warts-and-all autobiography in 2012. I had never ventured into the publishing world before, so when I was signed by a well-known publishing house, I was over the moon and happy to learn how it all worked. That was when I came up against the fear-run libel laws that had my lovely publisher nervous from the start. Because none of the characters I had written about have been convicted, and also because they’re alive (apparently it’s not possible to libel the dead) it meant that names, places and relationships had to be changed – despite the fact that I had black and white evidence to support all areas of my story.
So although I voiced strong concerns about bowing to laws that seem more interested in corporate arse covering in case the people with no conscience decide to sue, and that do very little to support the voices of the innocent,  I went along with it, believing I had no other choice. And I was happy with my decision, because the most important thing for me was to get my story out there – to finally validate what had happened to me, and to reach out to others who might be experiencing the same difficulties. I’m glad I did, because I have been contacted by countless people who have suffered the same – including people who know the characters in my book. My story has helped others, for which I’m deeply honoured. And it’s also brought some wonderful people in to my life, for which I’m deeply grateful.
As well as changing characters names, it was decided that if I change my name as well it would help with the ‘final top and tailing’ with the libel lawyer (that proved to be a whole other experience that deserves to be told as a stand alone story!) So I chose to shorten my first name and adopt my paternal grandmother’s surname Carnegie. I had always loved Granny very much, and was also proud of the ancestral links to Andrew Carnegie. So it sat well with me. And other characters in the book went along with it as well, giving me pseudonyms they would be happy for me to use in place of their real names.
Incidentally, the only person who refused change his, was my beautiful son. “My name is Dylan” he explained, sitting on the sofa together one evening. “I know our story and I’m proud of who we are and what we’ve done. I’m not changing my name for anyone.” How I love my authentic brave son, continues to teach me every day.
So that was how my name changed. That was how I started using the name professionally in order to avoid confusion. And after a while I changed my name on personal online forums too, because people were searching for me as a result of the book. And I remained acutely aware of the publishers’ fears – so it seemed simpler to give people an avenue to find me, and also to honour the libel laws I had been told about.
The way I see it now though, is that by using a name that in effect was chosen in order to protect the very people who had treated me so badly, meant I had actually become part of the very problem I’m so passionate about changing.  Aaaaaarrrrggghhh!!! Now THAT real-eyes-ation hit me like a steam train. It meant that I was not being truly authentic. That even though the magical work of Light-Up has woken me and countless others up to real life, the very fact I’ve been working under an adapted name means I’m once again denying my true self. DOH!
The ridiculousness of the whole situation coupled with an instant feeling of freedom, brought me a sigh of relief and some giggles too. Why?
Because for so many years both my sister and I were quite literally brushed under the carpet.
Filed away in the ‘too difficult’ pile and forgotten about.
Isn’t it ironic that I had been doing exactly the same thing to myself, and even more ironic that it happened when I’d finally found my voice to speak out the truth?
So Sunday night’s super moon saw me reclaiming who I am, by reclaiming my full birth name of Melanie Pledger. For this is who I am, and this is the person who has survived and thrived, and who is now on a mission to share her work so that others can claim their true power as well. No more playing small, and no more being anything other than my true authentic warts-and-all beautiful self.
As with most profound realisations, it’s a massive shift for me that has in such a weird way changed everything and nothing. I know it’s significant, because just yesterday as it was all settling, I suddenly shared with Yasmin, my right hand lady at work and oracle in life, that I now know what it feels like to be normal, a feeling that had evaded me since I was very small. It means I’ve finally come home – to where and who I have been all along…
I do make myself laugh you know – us humans, we’re such funny and adorable creatures when we dare to look under the carpet…

Monday, 4 April 2016

Three Years Later... Look Who's Back

When writing the previous post, I said to myself that it would be the last one for this page. I'd said it before, this time though I affirmed that it was the moment to finally move on from the blog. I decided it was time to get cracking with the job in hand - because by then, my life's work had already begun taking shape. Already the life-changing magic that is today known as DeNA Light-Up was moving through me. I haven't written much about how it was born - my book only goes up to a certain time in my life, and I stopped writing the blog as it was coming in to form. So it's odd actually putting this stuff down in black and white. Why? Because this work was not something I asked for - nor was it something I consciously designed. And yet it came with a force so strong that, try as I might, I could not turn away. Believe you me, I certainly did try to run from it! 

Right from the early days, I realised the power of the work that was taking form. From deep within me, I knew the magnitude, and I recognised the enormity of the work that was to be done as a result. Light-Up, as I now fully understand and accept, is something much bigger than me. Although I rarely use the word, I believe that it is my destiny. It's my reason. And it finally makes perfect sense of all the struggles my life has offered me.

Over the past three years (and more) I've worked with countless people who have suffered at the hands of a sociopath/psychopath/narcissist/bully - I don't care about the label any more. It makes no difference what we call them - it's recognising their actions, acknowledging the damage they do, and offering support to people who have been targeted that's of importance to me. Because this is a key area where my experiences and this work helps.

I've witnessed manipulators in all shapes, sizes and environments. The sly ones, the overt ones. Ones who parade a killer smile to match their drop-dead style, and others who spit their venom under the cloak of some imaginary disorder - garnering pity from caring people who feel sorry for their hardships. Yes, I'm getting to know these types, and recognise them quickly. And the amusing thing is, I've discovered that in most cases they know that I know... and they avoid me.

And still I'm learning, while also fine-tuning the power of the work I'm sharing with others. In a nutshell, my work now is light over dark. It's love over fear. It's connection over self-sacrifice. The work is gathering force. And the manipulators can feel it. They don't like it. I don't care. 

I wrote a while ago, during what now seems like a previous lifetime, about calling fellow survivors together. I'd once again been struck by just how many beautiful, compassionate, intelligent, bright souls are lured in to a living hell - and once again felt the stirrings that those of us who've been through it, can in some way light the way for others to follow. 

"I believe that we are the ones who can band together and make a real difference. From where I am standing, it is our painful experiences that make us authentic, giving us the hard-earned power to understand and empathise at the deepest level. We’ve been there, seen it and got the T-shirt, and perhaps have more reason than others to make sure that we find a way to stop these people continuing to hurt us and others"

Since then, I now have a proven experiential journey, DeNA Light-Up, that allows people to reclaim their dignity, their sanity and their self-worth after losing themselves to such people. Light-Up is for everyone. Not just for people who've been snared by a psychopath. Yet here are where the roots lie. Because here, through my own experiences, was where this life-changing magic was first born.

And now I have a solution that can help so many more people heal so much more quickly than the time I took to recover myself. Which is why it's important to me that this very special group of people is up to speed with what we're doing.

So now I feel once again compelled to write here. To fill in some of the gaps, and also to document the progress as this new chapter develops. I don't know how often it will be - I'll write when I'm stirred.

In the meantime - thank you for reading. It's good to be back in the saddle again ;-)