January 2014

The Ulimate Test

gaged - CopySo what would be our ultimate test be? The one that you know without doubt you now hold all the cards. The aces are now in your grasp, not in that of your abuser. It was a very surreal moment the very first day I knew that from here on in I controlled my destiny. At first it was a little difficult to deal with, because for so many years we are told how to think feel and react. What was allowed to be made public knowledge and those things we were told must always remain secret. We have learnt the hard of way how to hide our scars and emotions. It’s a long way to claw your way back to a place of complete recovery. For so long like the image attached to this piece you have felt gagged and restrained. These restrictions never needed to be seen; we always knew they were just there within our world of pain. When we embark on the road forward to take we control it’s a little like a baby trying to take their first step, we know that we need to learn to walk or we will never move forward, but just like that infant we are going to fall many times. These falls never heal quickly even when the immediate cuts and bruises disappear, because they have a profound effect on us. With each fall we take it just seems to compound that walking alone is something we can’t do. For so long we were controlled, confused, made to think that without our abuser the world could come to an end. I can almost hear those of you out there saying that was never the case; but in truth it’s that exactly. I my own case, I was made to feel that the only one that would be there for me was my abuser. He was the only one that cared; making it without him was a fool’s errand. Abuse is a strange way of caring for anyone right? But when told often enough that if they were to take it away you would never make it on your own you start to think would you? Thoughts are compounded so deeply within you that you start to believe them. In a sick kind of way it seems that they are your only salvation. Let’s remember here that for me this abuse was there for as long as I can remember. This resonates with so many people I meet within my work. We are dealing with the minds of children who believe what’s told to them. Sadly the end result is that this person becomes the one constant in our lives. Sitting here now talking to you, I am well aware that for me that was the case; it took me many years to change that thought process. As for all of us it is a huge mountain to climb. My abuser followed me for many years well into my adulthood far after he was no longer around, but for some reason still unknown to me he continued to mould my mind – but why? I have been giving many answers to that question which once burned so deeply within me; the one repeated more often than not is that somehow through his control for so many years, I stayed very much that scarred little child. Through my many radio interviews I continue to meet those that have travelled much the same path as me; many still trying to heal that child within. It’s a hard upstream struggle. As we continue to grow into the person we are meant to be, time heals those scars so deeply felt. I was asked quite recently if I recollect any good memories within my childhood, sadly without much thought the answer to that question was a resounding no. But with all that said happily I now have new memories, those of my own choosing. These happy memories go a long way to healing the pain of my past.

I’m going to return now to the heading of this piece and the reason I sit here today talking to you. I have crossed over many bridges to be who I am today; I have learnt to walk within my pain and I no longer feel the burning terror that used to tear at my emotions. I have faced my past and strive daily to connect with those still struggling within abuse. I give live interviews knowing that no matter what question is asked of me, I will be able to answer with control and in control. There have been some pretty difficult ones throw at me at times, but hey you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. Each day I start it as I wish now; I make my own plans and live my own life. I feel as if I am in a complete place of strength. So what is left for me to conquer? I had taken back my life; my abuser was no longer in control. I had been able to share my story with you within my book, which in truth helped me so very much upon completion. I am no longer looking over my shoulder afraid of what I may see; I can now visit places alone whilst still feeling safe. That may sound like a strange thing to say, but life for me before my recovery was very much how it was. I know quite clearly that my abuser is no longer even in this country; but back then that didn’t seem to matter. Fear made me feel that he could reach me wherever he might be – that’s their ace in hand – our fear. For many years now it seemed to me that I had dealt with everything I needed to. That every stone had been over turned that in time I had won that fight. But there was just something lurking in the back in my mind that I was never really sure of, something that I could never really pin down. Then it came to me during a very surreal moment quite recently. This I knew was the resounding end to everything that ever happened to me. I sit here now to share it with you. But before I start I wish to make it totally clear that this is not a bench mark for everyone; it’s not a goal you wish to aspire to or anything else that springs to your mind whilst reading. It was my continuation that for many years I never knew existed. If I am completely honest with you it did further my strength; I won’t use the word ‘recovery’ because for me that had already been achieved. I had already aspired to that some years ago. So why am I sharing? Maybe it’s just to share with you that we can face the monster head on and come away still whole.

It’s around eleven in the evening and I’ve been sitting here all evening, relaxing, watching the television. I had an interview earlier that evening that went really well the host was great and the interview had flowed. It had put me in a thoughtful mood which never fails to happen, you can’t share and then walk away as if the interview had never happened. But this evening was somehow a little different – why I can’t say; there was nothing that sprang to mind then or even now. A niggle in the back of my mind my taking on a life of its own, one that I could not relate to or own at that time. Something just seemed fated at that precise moment. It was like I had taken an interval in the proceedings that had never really come to a full stop. I could not shake the feeling that there was an irreversible succession of events from the past just out of reach in my mind’s eye – much as if I had to stop for a commercial break. It would not interrupt the program; it would just enlighten me to what’s out there if I cared to look. It was something which seemed to separate two points in time. My instinct at that time was telling me that whatever it was it had to be handled carefully, I just knew that it had seemed out of reach before. Ok I think I have made my point so let’s end it here before I over kill it – something for me was still left undone.

It seemed to creep up on me from behind, realisation slapped firmly full in my face. I had to complete the circle; I had to talk to him. Suddenly there he was standing in front of me. Of course it does not need to be said this was a scenario was being played within my head. Did someone not once say fear is the thing that makes us fearful? Well I’m here to tell you they were right on the money. There was nothing I could do to stop the thoughts in my head running away with me I had to talk to him, a fact unbeknown to me until that one moment in time, there was just one more hurdle I had to climb over. Could I talk to my stepfather and take back the power? Because in truth all that had passed before I had completed on my own, my recovery had been my doing. Although as you already know I did not do that alone. A single branch will break, but a bundle is strong. I found that strength and camaraderie within you and others like you. Right then right there I knew that the only way for me to feel complete was to face him head on. There was no way this could be achieved face to face, the expanse of miles were too far apart he was no longer in the country. But to talk to him hear his voice would that be enough? I had his telephone number in a cupboard which had been given to me many years ago, it may not even be a number still in use but my gut told me otherwise. The feeling was not going away; it was now after 1 in the morning, later in the place he now called home. I stood up and walked toward the cupboard, each step sending shudders up my spin why was it having this affect? All I can say is that the thought of his voice left me in a place akin to hell. I had spent so many years fearing that sound. My hands where sweating; I had to wipe them against me to absorb the moisture. The vein in my neck was pulsating I could hear each beat of my heart like thunder in my head. I knew I should walk away, but I just couldn’t; there was no retreat possible for me. I looked at the ink stains left there on the paper so long ago; did they even know the affect they were having on me? This was it I was not turning back; I steeled myself and walked towards the phone. The sound of the dialling tone left me cold as I dialled the number and let it ring out. It just seemed to go on forever; but no matter what, it would ring out until it was answered. I leaned back against the wall unit, willing it to prop me up; this was a feeling I thought I had left behind long ago.

Hello, a voice that in the past had turned me cold was there, but the chill I was expecting just didn’t arrive; it was just a voice. He sounded old and beating down by life, the power I thought he processed just wasn’t there. Right there and then I knew that the fear of this contact was all it had ever been. It was clear that the sound of my voice had hit him like a steam train. Right there and then I felt the power he used to control me with changing hands; there had never been a more surreal moment for me. He was having trouble forming his words tripping over himself. Then he asked me the question that should have been mine to relay why? Why what? Why was I calling what did I want from him? Right there and then I knew I wanted nothing. He had broken me into so many pieces for as long as I could remember but not today I was whole. Once again did someone not say that the only thing to fear is fear its self? As a metaphor it could not have been clearer. He proceeded to tell me that he had spend a period of two years in therapy on disappearing from my life; I am still not sure why he felt the need to do so. I guess he was now somehow looking for absolution, hoping beyond hope that forgiveness would be mine to give. In truth, by the end of our conversation it felt so very much like this time for him was spent as therapy. I have learnt through my work just how to converse with others that have travelled the path of an abuser; it’s not always those that have been abused that call into a show. There have been many times that it has been the abusers themselves. To my mind when this happens it’s as if they have already started to recognise their wrong doing, why else would they be there listening? Of course this is not always the case; some are there for their very own perverse reasons. But could I give him the same part of me? This was my abuser wanting, hoping, to heal through the tools that I had come to acquire. I’m sure there are those of you out there that are having trouble getting your heads around this – and rightly so: even as I type it seems absurd to me. Life is never black and white; life can turn things on their heads with a moment’s notice. What’s right for someone else is very wrong for others. You need to keep in mind that this was right for me; it’s not something you need to shadow. My monster had become a weak man as time had passed what’s more he probable always had been. Imagine when we were children and that big oak door had been just too heavy to push, as an adult it becomes just another door that we can open easily. The boogie man had become someone with no control over his life whilst I had become strong. So did I beat him down? Did I pour all my past anguish on him from a great height? The answer to that question is no I just didn’t feel the need it wouldn’t change the past. There was no explanation that he could ever have given me that would make up for the things he had done, even though at the start of our conversation that had been my quest.

I replaced the receiver and went to sit in the chair. It was only then that I realised that I had been standing the whole time; maybe I just needed to have that fight or flight option open to me. It was dark and well into the night but I felt as if I were soaking in the sun’s rays, the sky was blue; rainbows seemed to be appearing in front of me. My future had never been so bright. Could I now sleep after our exchange? You bet your life on it. I climbed the stairs one by one each one firmly beneath my feet. I climbed into bed with a complete feeling of peace and I slept like a baby……………….