I’m thinking of you Jane Doe

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Today my thoughts are with a 13 year old girl who has just been told that she isn’t important and that justice is often an illusion.

Even though she is not 13 now, the coming forward, the legal process, the media attention, all the recent election events, are highly likely to be making her relive it in her head, not to mention flashbacks and anxiety. It is as if her 13 year old self is being told that she isn’t to be believed – again.

I’m Listening

Origionally Published 22nd May, 2016

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I might talk about some female issues that cause distress

Yesterday afternoon I got stopped on the way back from work by one of those charity fundraiser guys on the high street.

Not being the most assertive of people (I know those who would call this an understatement…), it’s taken me a long time, much practice and numerous encouraging/teasing/incredulous words to reach the point where I deliberately avoid them, obviously blank them or politely refuse to talk to them.

Yesterday I was exhausted, ill, two down on three work days in a row and most definitely in a vulnerable state of mind.

I stopped when the fundraiser guy stepped in front of me and thrust his hand in my face. I put on what I could muster of my cynical mindset and prepared to be polite but firm. I wasn’t going to sign up for any charity and if he so much as mentioned child abuse – was he going to get a speech he wasn’t going to forget!!

He was trying to get me to sign up for a campaign to stop child marriage and FGM.

Um, what was that I said about not signing up for anything and speaking my mind?! Umm…

I put up some token resistance, asked a lot of questions to make him work for it, but I knew and he knew … he’d got me. He even said “I can see you’re emotionally invested”.

Well DUH!! I’m the girl who has to watch the program about any kind of abuse against women, because if I don’t, I feel like I’m ignoring their voice, not listening to their story and being just like the people that turned away from me. I know that the girls in a documentary are never going to know if I watched or not, but I do, and I’m not going to leave their voice unheard. Absolutely it brings me extra pain and heartache I don’t need, but I know what it’s like not to have a voice or not to be listened to. Not if I can help it.

So I signed up for this charity. I was annoyed with myself and the person fundraising as I did it. I know that although this is a heartbreaking issue that desperately needs support, my heart lies in hidden issues a lot closer to home. That’s where my money should be going. (Note to self: Why haven’t you done something about that before girl?!)

I worried, I went off on one at the guy (just in my mind), I stewed, I couldn’t settle for a nap (don’t judge! Another post …) And I had to explain it all to my ever-patient husband amidst much self-incrimination and repeatedly saying how weak I am.

Thankfully, my hubby knows me well. He knows why it was difficult and knows why I signed up. He calmed me down and reminded me that when they did a follow-up call to see how it went, I could just cancel then and choose a charity I actually wanted to support.

And that is what I did. Maybe I’m just a little proud of myself ….

I tried to point out that the fundraisers should check if the person they’re talking to is alright emotionally/mentally with the subject, or if they need to stop. Just a simple question would be enough, right? “Are you ok if I talk about child abuse statistics? If this subject is too difficult for you, please say.” Yes, I can see all the ways this could be taken advantage of, but for those of us who can’t get to the words, for whatever reason, “I can’t talk about this,” this would be the way out … without feeling like a heartless women that just doesn’t care.

(I kind of put a lot more feeling – and a fricking load more of stumbling, rephrasing and apologising – into my explanation, but that’s the basics)

The person I talked to on the phone said that he was a psychologist for his other job and got the whole trigger and emotional (to drastically paraphrase) thing, and would definitely pass it on. He was very nice about it all and definitely made the whole process better than I thought it was going to be.

I’ve no idea if what I said will make it through to any kind of meeting, be suggested to fundraiser teams, or just discarded in the office paper bin.

But I really did try.

For now, that’s the point.

I have to listen to girls or women who are hurting. That’s what I have to do. I feel it. I’m glad I feel it. But I need to learn when that listening needs to be turned into action, and when my role is just listening.

Small and Tired

Origionally published 24th April, 2016

Today I am feeling small and tierd. I’ve actually been feeling that way for the last couple of weeks.

Scrap that. I feel small and tired all the time. I can acknowledge that what I have done and what I continue to do takes strength, from an intellectual point of view, but inside? I’m still just little old me.

I cancelled a Skype talk with a friend tonight. I didn’t go to church this morning. I was so glad some friends couldn’t have us over on Saturday. I bailed out of coffee with a friend on Friday. I can’t quite bring myself to say how long it’s been since I had a proper shower. I’ve had to put more than one washed laundry load through on the 15 minute cycle because it had been sitting in the machine too long. I cancelled seeing a friend on Monday afternoon and then cried over the phone to my husband. I slipped back into bad coping strategies this week.

I see a whole lot of failure. I see a whole lot of letting people down. I see a whole lot of weakness.

If someone in a like position came to me, upset because they were feeling a failure, I would be able to list all the things they’d done this past week, all the ways they’ve fought and stood their ground, all the ways they’ve continued to be brave, all the two steps forward they’ve taken to their one steps back … Somehow I just can’t give the same grace and understanding to myself.

I’ve been trying hard recently to show myself love and care, to extend the same understanding to myself that I freely give to other people, to at least give myself some slack and allow myself to have a bad day.

It’s a slow process. It’s a hard process. It feels so often like it goes against everything I should be thinking. But it is a process.

So yes, I’m feeling tiny and am just so exhausted of fighting.

But you know what? I’m still fighting. Whether I can forgive myself for what I think went wrong this week or not, I am still here, I am still fighting and tomorrow is still going to come … although hopefully after a night of nightmare-free sleep.

We’re still here and we’re still fighting.

Can we please be proud?

Origionally published 4th April, 2016

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Today I found myself once again envious of the simple life of a baby.

The baby I nanny has discovered she can hold her feet in her hands and she is so frickin proud of herself!!

Please can we be proud of the seemingly-simple-but-monumental-for-us-steps?

Walk In The Sunshine

Originally published 13th March, 2016

This afternoon I slipped my camera strap over my shoulder, left my coat hanging on it’s hook inside and went for a walk in the beautiful sunshine.

I say walk – I didn’t walk far in terms of distance, because I was busy look at all the signs of spring around me and trying to capture them on my camera.

I collected a bunch of sticks for a craft project right at the start, so with a collection of sticks tied up with a hair band balanced on my bag, stopping every few steps, nearly burying my camera in a plant or tree, kneeling on the ground (probably with significant clothes slippage!), maybe humming to myself … I must have been an odd sight! But for once I didn’t care!

It was so beautiful and peaceful – despite the shouts and laughter from the nearby playground and the music coming from a house – and I felt real joy that spring is here and that I got to be out in it!

This daffodil at the bottom – this one I planted myself last October and it sits in a tub outside my front door. Such a massive sense of pride and achivement, even though I was only the planter …! My Nana would have loved that it’s a traditional, old-school daffodowndilly.

HAPPY SPRING!

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Hello and Thank You!

About 10 days ago I was cursing my computer, swearing at my memory, kicking my (lack of) organisation and becoming more and more enraged with WordPress …

I was locked out of my account. I couldn’t remember my password! For so many years I had relied on that tricky little “remember me” button … But I’ve just got my first ever smartphone and I wanted to get my blog set up on that as well … My account is a free, internet-based one, so no user sites or admin portals, or receipts from purchases … nothing that would get me any access to my site or attention to sort it out. My email address had somehow become linked with a completely random and never-used blog of some unknown person and my user name was never getting any password re-set emails …

*Imagine Big, Involved and Long-Lasting Screaming/Frustration Noises*

At long last, after hours (trust me – hours and HOURS, seriously!) of scrolling through help pages and blogging websites, tripping my way down the source code for my original blog and regenerating long-closed email addresses in the hopes one of them would yield a password reset … I decided enough was enough … I would have to start again.

And so here I am!

I have recreated, as best as I can (with way too little patience!) my previous blog … My username is a bit different – but true to my real name and who I want to be with this blog. The blog name itself is a bit clumsy, but it was the closest I could get to what I want to convey without paying a fortune!

I’m really sad not to be able to take with me my readers, the blogs I have followed for nearly 6 years and the thoughtful, loving and wise comments of some of you dear people. But here’s to the readers of this blog and the friendships we make (and renew!) from here!

So what I want to say the loudest? THANK YOU!! Thank you for reading this blog, thank you for liking my posts and thank you so much to those that have somehow managed to follow me from my old place and find me here – that really means so much!!

Much Love – Ruthie

(Dotty Lizzy: https://whisperingintothewind.wordpress.com)

Still a Sausage

Frustration boiled up in me again just now when, after expressing a desire to do something and L saying he wouldn’t join me, I immediately started saying that I wouldn’t either. I started to “change” my opinion to match his as soon as I found out what he wanted.

Again.

From the moment we started dating, L has encouraged me to be my own person, state my own views, make my own choices and to be more assertive about who I am and what I do or don’t need and want. Just this evening he said, “No, it’s fine! You can do that if you want. It’s ok!”

Still there is always this struggle. A struggle to become myself  at 29, after 22 years of trying to cram myself into the image my parents wanted to see. The struggle to be ok with my own choices at 29, after 22 years of meticulously feeling out my father’s preference before announcing it as my own “independantly made” decision.

I am trapped in this should-be-surreal scenario where in trying to live a normal life, I am being rebellious in the eyes of my parents, whose beliefs demanded conformity to a lifestyle that fought against the pressure to be just like everyone else.

I remember more than one occasion when my father told us about this song which compared the school system (although this might just have been his interpretation?) to a sausage factory, where all that happened was the mindless churning of children through the system, so they would all pop out at the end of the process as matching sausages. We didn’t want to be sausages, did we?

No, we didn’t want to be sausages. We were being homeschooled so we weren’t just churned through the school system. We didn’t have to bend to any expectations to be just like everyone else.

At what point will my parents realise that they turned into their very own sausage factory, churning out sausages that, although admittedly a very different shape from the mass-made sausages they so feared, were still sausages?

When I struggle to take a decision that isn’t influenced in some way by either what I know my father would want or taken purely because it’s the opposite of what he would want, I find it hard to laugh at the stupid irony of the whole thing.

Here I am, at 29, after all this hard work to break away from my parent’s demands, doing exactly what they claimed to want for me in the first place!

I broke free from my society’s pressure to be just like them and to live my life a certain way just because that was what everyone else was doing. I went against the trend and made my own choices, enduring the disapproval of my peers for the sake of my convictions.

Only the society I bucked was my parent’s and the choices I made for the sake of my own convictions? They had me heading away from my parent’s demands to be just like ‘one of them’.

Here I am, at 29, still learning to make my own decisions.

Oh Hello PTSD

“Power on through. You can do this. Power on through. You can do this. Power on through. You can do this.”

I was walking along the unfamiliar pavement, rapeating these lines outloud (to my embarrassment) to myself, getting that slightly burning wheeze that comes from cold air, fast walking, a general lack of fitness … and panic.

I’d pushed the button to get off at the next bus stop, but I hadn’t known until that moment that this bus didn’t stop at the bottom of the hill, but went round to the next road. I had already been running late, now I just couldn’t think about the time.

When I say ‘I just couldn’t think about the time’, I mean I actually could not think about the time. I had to tell myself my watch was running 10 minutes fast and that everything was going to be ok.

Otherwise I was going to run away.

I know, because I’ve done it before.

You know what? I made it! I made it to work, my boss didn’t say anything about the time, work happend, I left, I still had my job. In my book, that’s a win.

It turns out, I’m needed in my job, I want to be there, I feel like I’m in the right place. But I left feeling heavy, sad, disappointed – those last 3 minutes before getting there had been a big fight.

The buzz of the first two weeks of working again is settling into normality. The drive to prove myself capable and entitled to this job is melding into the reality of beating my fears every time I go to work; of knowing that most people don’t even know that ringing that doorbell is an act of courage every single time.

PTSD becomes a part of my everyday life. Has probably been for longer than I’d be able to admit. It doesn’t become easier, but it does become a wierd kind of normality. Do I forget it’s there? Um, no! I don’t forget the nightmares that happen every night or the 13 times I have to check the front door is locked before I can go to bed. Do I try to minimise it’s impact on my life and pretend that I can do whatever anyone else can do without it causing negative affects? Abso-flipping-lutely I do!

The reality comes sneaking up behind me and knocks me over the head. PTSD is a real and living thing in my life and sometimes, it can be cripplng.

This morning I made it to work and everything was ok. This evening I didn’t make it out to homegroup and I sobbed into my knees with frustration and shame after my husband accepted a lift there (despite not wanting to go) and I stayed at home.

I felt like I had failed and I felt so small and pathetic. Once again I had oh-so-very-publicly demonstrated that I am Not Normal.

I meant to go. I even got the bus home instead of walking so I’d have enough energy to go to homegroup and be normal and stuff. But the car giving a lift only had one spare seat, so was very happy to come back for me … but I would be causing an extra lift (I HATE it when people have to put themselves out for me) and I’d have to do it alone with a man …

My throat started to close up and I actually froze mid-conversation. Dam. I thought I was being normal … right?

Both me and my ever-lovely husband knew right then that I wasn’t going to be going. I tried to tell myself it was still going to happen … somehow.

But I got supper just that bit too late. The doorbell rang while L was atill eating. I wanted to run and hide but had to answer the door … I have this cringe-worthy need to fill any silence that could be interpreted as awkward when I’m tired or nervous … I was both … I knew I wasn’t going, I guessed that the kind-but-still-male person knew I wasn’t going … and knew that I knew that he knew … and L went when he had worked longer, harder, more frustrating hours than me …

And I stayed at home and sobbed into my knees. Even though I hate crying.

Oh, hello PTSD.

Too many words

Words keep rushing through my head. They have been all day.

There are things that have been said to me. Things I’ve heard being said to other people. Things I’ve said. Most of all, what I’ve been thinking. My (mostly) silent response to all I’ve heard.

I’m not sure that I can get them out in a way that will make any sense. Or at least, not without a lot of backstory.

So for now, next time you see the quiet person, think about what might be going through their head. They might be fine. But they might be having a dark day.

Maybe a smile, a cup of tea brought to their desk, the door held open … maybe it might help to break up the steady flow of negative words running through their head, their heart.

Words are so powerful. Sometimes the absence of words can be just as powerful.