Don’t stop being You!

I hurt for you and what you suffer

Not because you can’t bear the burden

But because I wish you didn’t have to

I know you won’t walk away or run

Where others might fear to tread

You settle in and seek to improve

I appreciate that you never lie

That what you say is what you do

I know I can trust you with anything

You give me succor and safety

The freedom to be who I need to be

Moments of such precious safety

After a lifetime of loss and fear

You are the pot at the end

Of that old faded rainbow

That I hunted for so very long

Huddled in the darkest shadows

Buried alive just barely there

You offer me a hand, a kindness

A gentle breeze after enduring

The hurricanes of eternal hell

There may be fires normally

But not for me, I’m special

I get you as my friend

So Don’t Stop Being You

 

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Author’s note:   I struggled with this poem.  I had an idea in my mind but it wasn’t quite forming the way I thought it would.  Any suggestions gratefully received!!   I couldn’t bring myself to delete it.

 

A shared cup of piping hot tea

A spoon full of sugar to taste

A slip of milk to lighten the load

Combined to unite you and me

 

A shared slice of banana cake

With icing to simply decorate

Shared through a single spoon

A shared treat, we in turn partake

 

A lifetime of comfortable memories

Spill onto the shared table like photos

Full of laughter, tears and cheers

A shared branch of our family trees

 

 

A Noble Dear Real Entity

Love can be a very layered gift

Without which we feel bereft

We should receive it from each relative

Which they should want to freely give

 

But when they don’t the pain is deep

Every moment from then can seep

Doubt, making us question our value

From a life well lived we withdrew

 

We have a picture of who we are

Through a pain diversified, traveling far

Every relationship is questioned

Learning a harsh unnecessary lesson

 

You may not have those who should

Instead you have those that would

Love you as you truly deserve

Without judgement or reserve

 

 

 

This is my moment, I worked for it

image

On the day I got the information that I had passed my Master’s thesis I made hubby stop the car and I burst into tears.  The day I saw it published in book form I held it to my heart and cried.  I just kept saying “its a book, its my book”.  While very true emotions at the time these were like the superficial appearance of passing my thesis.  What was underneath is what has me in part dreading and sad for my graduation in two days.  I wanted to graduate with a sense of accomplishment.  I literally bled for my thesis.  This is what happened and how, today, I had a new realisation that will change my graduation on Friday to something I never expected.

I hold a degree in Nursing, I am so proud of that degree but notice I don’t mention my registration.  I do not believe that I will ever nurse again which while not fully a part of this graduation it is one of the impacting features.  I fell into Media studies by accident.  I was doing English and mediocre describes my passing grades and my level of engagement.  When I took a media studies class as a filler, I didn’t really expect anything.  What I got was full engagement with the content and the subject.  I love media studies.

So I completed a Graduate Diploma in Media Studies with Distinction, which means I never dropped below an A minus throughout.  What was more important is I fell in love and I wanted to do my Master’s with Dr Scott Eastham.  I changed from stopping my studying to running head on into a new direction.  I did the first year with a single hiccup – Communications Studies, so while I did my usual A range in Media Studies, I struggled with Communication Studies.  But I did enjoy what I did.  I did the research report with A.M. because I was saving Scott for the thesis year, as we had discussed.

Scott got cancer and was unable to be my supervisor, which simply put hurt.  So I continued on with A.M. and emailed sporadically to Scott.  I truly hoped he would recover and I would have time to talk with him and to continue to appreciate his worldview.  This wonderful, giving, amazing human being died and it broke more of my heart and definitely affected my ability to write my thesis.  Which at this time was already in dire trouble.

I love writing.  I know my strengths and weaknesses  in writing. Throughout this process I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t “fix” it.  My supervisor is a fantastic editor but he lacks the capacity to work with a student like myself and how I view my writing.  My worst memories are firstly from a meeting where he told me how bad my writing was (I knew that but I couldn’t fix it) and then told me I should be in tears for being told this information.  I ended up defending my lack of emotion (lets no discuss how much I cried on the way home and for days after). The second was a meeting where he asked what happened to my writing over Christmas?  Like it had been jettisoned sometime in the holidays and never recovered.

I know what was wrong with my thesis.  I had no real argument formulated so that meant argument was weak and often misdirected.  I just never got an understanding of the process (my real strength is finding the how and then being able to write within that, while still being me).  I write with my heart as much as for my head, even in academic work.  Scott taught me that.  He was also the voice in my head saying – keep going you can do this.  Thank goodness I listened to his voice!!

I absolutely refused to give up.  The first attempt at a Master’s in Nursing died when my niece did – life just lost meaning for me.  The second attempt at the same Master’s never got started as two days before the start I attempted suicide (twice) and never recovered my love of nursing.   The rationale for these suicide attempts were complex but included my friend basically dying in my arms at work and my colleagues responses in the aftermath.  But that is another story.  I included it because this third attempt in a new content had some major baggage attached.

I have been ashamed of the grade I received.  I have my Masters but the grade isn’t high enough to be able to do my PhD in Media Studies.  It is the lowest grade I got for Media Studies.  It was a B.  This is an individual issue, I am not comparing to other students that fail or get a lower pass grade.  It is how it made ME feel.  I am not even sure I wanted to do a PhD but it was one more irritation.    I wanted the option to be there.

So I graduate on Friday and I wanted to be thin and fit, joyous and proud.  I wanted to remember Scott and the good times in Media Studies.  But till today I was not sure I could even attend.  I have major depression, agoraphobia, anxiety and PTSD to contend with, let alone how I feel about my thesis and its process.  I am always anxious in front of other people and there are a lot of people in a graduation.  I struggled on my wedding day with everyone staring and that was 26 years ago.  I have declined being bridesmaids because I was worried my anxiety would ruin the day for the brides and I was too ashamed to fully explain to them why I couldn’t do it.

So today I woke up feeling like death reheated and left to rot.  I recently started a new nutrition plan and am not sure it gets on with my meds for depression and anxiety.  I decided to stop going with how I was feeling and just do something, anything.  And then it hit me.  Despite everything against my thesis being completed and passing, it did.  I have my Masters and instead of hating it or being ambivalent I need to look at it as an example of just how damn tough I am.  I cried while writing some of it, I had panic attacks for others and I just kept rewriting and researching and trying.

You don’t get pity grades at university.  My thesis earned a B, it passed.  I need to honour the work that went into it and stop just remembering the bad parts and the grade.  So on Friday I will walk across that stage with pride because this accomplishment had the most against its achievement and I did it anyway.

I was talking to a friend about this and saying how now I knew what I wanted to write and he says – why not?  Exactly, why not? So I am going to write a thesis with my new idea and when its complete see if I can get an article published from it.  I am qualified to write in this field (just kind of realised that too), and time is available at the moment to do so, so I will.  It will be put on my blog when its done in a year or so.  So, on this day in 2016 I promise to post my thesis.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and get this far.  Tell me your stories of studying and what inspires you to keep going in the face of overwhelming odds against it.

One last thing, when I cross that stage on Friday, I know Scott will walk beside me and in my head won’t be fear, anxiety or sheer terror, it will be the memories of studying Media Studies and the simple joy and love I found in doing so.

 

 

A reflection of strength

This poem is dedicated to Andre who requested the theme that it explores.

i

What gives me the strength to carry on?

Amidst the inner turmoil, illness and fear

It took me time to really consider this

To step away from the negative thinking

ii

The first source of strength is my husband

He understands me and loves me still

He walks beside me, but never for me

Giving me the room to find my own strengths

iii

The next resource is the brother of my heart

His enduring belief in me a source of strength

That I can turn to and never be denied

Unconditional acceptance, a true privilege 

iv

The third source is a woman of grace

She growls her challenge to my assumptions

Quietly asserting what she sees within me

Her friendship is a gift without price, an honour

v

Number four is a very stubborn woman

One who heals through her life experiences

She speaks with quiet dignity and strength

Calling me sister and embracing my challenges

vi

But where is my inner strength, the core of me?

It is derived in my sheer stubbornness

Tell me I can’t, sure fire guarantees I will

The only limitations are really my self belief

vii

Much of my inner strength is genetic

The women in my family are strong

Confidence in their own capabilities

Enhanced by the mates they choose

viii

I gain strength in the words of others

A phrase, a meme, a comment or a book

Words weave relaxation, escape and joy

Strengthening me in countless ways

ix

Strength can wax and wane like ocean waves

But like those waves, strength not being ‘seen’

In no way denies its continued existence

Always there for me, I just need to reach for it

-0o0-

 Note:

A challenge to my readers – give me a topic and I will give you a poem about it.  

Some Days Just Bring Hurt

Today has been incredibly hard for me.  I went to visit a friend, they were drinking and taking medications to numb how they were thinking and feeling.  I could accept their need to escape reality.  I have done it myself, in the past, but I find, as a coping strategy it is simply short term.  The long term effects can be so much worse for me and involve those around me.  So while I understood the why of their behavior it just made me sad that I couldn’t reach them, that they were so disappointed in life and had so little hope that a slow insidious death was all that they believed was left to them.  They may be breathing and talking but the comfort of hope was absent.  It was like talking to the shell of who this person was.

I left, because I was unable to protect them from themselves.  So all I could do was protect myself from them.  It was not an easy decision to just walk away from someone who was so obviously drowning in their own misery but it was all I could do in the moment.  I went home and less than three hours later they texted me and pretty much sent me a suicide goodbye note.  It was horrific, every sentence like a stab to my heart. This person I cared about was preparing to die and thought it was okay to say goodbye to me, like I would do nothing to stop them, via a text.

I rang the crisis team, who advised I ring the police.  Which I did and I told them everything I knew about the situation and the state my friend was in.  I told them I was concerned for this person’s life and that I would not be able to sit with them like I did last week when they were recovering from an overdose. Then I sat with them all night, as much for me as for them because I didn’t want them alone in their pain. But this time I wanted mental health to step in, assess them and help them find their way to recovery.  It was a task I was trying to achieve for myself and I sadly had very little left for anyone else

I don’t know what the police did but my friend just texted me and said they would forgive me for what I did.  The question is can I forgive them?  Can I be friends with someone who sees no future when I am in the process of fighting for my own? Can I risk all the work I, my husband, friends and counselor’s have invested in me?  In helping me find my new path in this life.  In the past it would be an easy answer.  In my mind, they would have more value than me, of course I would stay and fight for them.

I would sacrifice what I needed to be there for them.  But now I have learned that I have value, no more or less than any other person but my own value.  I have friends that remind me of it constantly and a husband that loves me and wants me healthy again.  So I can be there for this friend but no longer at my own expense.  I have to learn to be there for me, as much as for any other person.

I have never disagreed with suicide.  For myself I had rules around it.  I would never involve some one else – for example, I will never walk in front of a train or a bus, because I consider the horrific costs for that person.  But I also would never do what my friend did this afternoon and make someone through text, online or phone, be party to my suicide.  For me, suicide is very intimate.  Yes, in that moment of finality I care nothing for anyone but even then I would protect others from as much of my decision as I could.

Sadly, I have had to end this friendship for my own self protection.  I recognise that I made so many mistakes in wanting to help them.  Not least trying to help someone else when in the process of changing and fighting for my own life.  But you can not save someone else from themselves.  Just as I made the decision to live and with quality, they have to for themselves as well.  I also felt the need to help, for the self – centered purpose of keeping my mind off of my own problems, although I did not realise this at the time.

It is never good to assume or accept responsibility for any aspect of another person’s life or you deprive them of the very motivation and strength they need to continue to thrive and not just survive.  I have to learn to support and not take over. I have spent much of my life assuming responsibility for ‘things’ that were not mine.  That has to stop.  I am so sad that this friendship had to end but I am proud that for once I rationally made a decision that was right for me and hopefully, for them to.

The Drama Triangle by Stephen Karpman, M.D

I am doing a lot of studying to address the problems in my life.  I have some wonderful guidance on this journey so it isn’t always a solitary path I am taking.  This week my counselor suggested that I explore Karpman’s Drama Triangle.  I found this had some important sign posts for my journey.

drama_triangle

(http://www.joeydevilla.com/2008/02/28/the-drama-triangle/)

As a survivor of sexual abuse and torture I have spent my life refusing to consider myself as a victim.  I refused to be seen as pathetic or angry.  I simply denied what happened, even to myself, beyond a very superficial acknowledgement.   Part of that denial was to throw myself into being a rescuer, in part because I like helping people and in doing so I was able to ignore my own problems, in focusing on theirs.  In truth, it was not fair to either of us.

Since exploring this theory, I have found endless examples of where I have attempted rescue, no matter the cost to myself. Leading to increased risk to my own mental health. I was able to say I was a good person because of the rescuing because I saw or felt no goodness in myself.  I needed to be needed, even if it was only the length of the time that the other person needed me.  I asked for nothing for myself.

I have a new friend in my life, who adamantly will not be rescued by me (and he doesn’t actually need it).  He traded my helping him with his helping me and that made one of my first equitable friendships in a long time.  He will also not rescue me nor let me “play” the victim.  He just stands by me, lets me cry and gently guides my thinking when he realizes I might be drowning.  But he also lets me makes mistakes, only attempting to minimize the fallout but realising that I sometimes need to learn from this.

I could never be the persecutor for any prolonged period of time but it is naive to say it is not a role I could have.  Anyone who has been abused can seek to assign blame to someone else and then punish them for it, often they persecute themselves.  I think for me this role is slightly different than may have been defined in the theory.  I have a definite persecutor, in the person that chose to rape and torture me because he could. But the worst was that after I thought I was free of him I still carried the tendrils of his poison but instead of him doing it to me I was.  It sounds so dumb but it is simple fleeting things I had’t noticed like if I failed at something an echo of his telling me I was nothing but a failure.  I essentially took over from him and began destroying my own life, continuing where he stopped.

Guilt is one of the strongest motivators in my life.  Up until now I did anything to avoid feeling guilty including putting myself at personal risk.  That has stopped.  I now take the time to think about what I am doing and why, to ensure no unconscious past driven responses occur prior to a rationed decision.  It might be slower but it is a lot safer.  This is all relatively new and these healthier habits will take time to reside in my consciousness as easily as the unhealthy ones have but I work at it every day.

So which role are you habitually in?  A victim, a rescuer or a persecutor?  In a relationship you can be all three at different times.  The way to step out of the triangle is to simply be in the middle.  Accepting responsibility to only that which is yours and not assuming you can control anything else.  I like something else I read today:  Response – ability – the ability to respond but making a choice to do so or not, rather than responsibility that can often bear the taint of blame.  I need to make better choices and clearly know my rationale for making them.