Never Give Up

Having spent the vast majority of time over the last few weeks sitting at the bedside of one of my butterflies I have had the time to think, and reflect. On a number of things, including my own mental health, on hers, on family, and in my blog page. One thing that hit home was when she noticed that I had posted I wouldn’t be around as much and she actually said to me “you need to write mum, you can write about me, about this, you need to write about never giving up.” I have wondered how and where to start with this, as every time I start it hurts, the tears fall. Emotions run high, why? Because writing about your own battle and journey is on one scale, but writing about the battle and journey you witness someone you love and cherish fighting is in a whole new dimension altogether. So this is for you my little big butterfly, who is yet to see the beauty in your wings, but believe me you’re the most beautiful and strongest I’ve ever seen you yet.

How is it possible to go from thinking everything is going ok to the world opening up and you feeling like you’re sinking in a split second? Well it can happen quite quickly, with one message to your phone. A message to say your child is in hospital and you need to get there. In that moment it is possible to feel your heart stopping. I remember reminding myself to breath and snapping myself into reality before panic set in. Not knowing what had happened, or what I was going to be walking into, all I needed to do was get there. In a sense of panic somehow managing to find everything and driving in one piece (without speeding fines) to just be there with my butterfly.

“I truly believe that because you are my butterfly.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

The instant relief when my eyes meet the figure sitting in the corner. No eye contact, that’s ok. No physical contact wanted, I managed to get a hug in but otherwise it was alright. No verbal communications other than through a friend, okay, I’m beginning to understand, your not okay right now. You need space but I needed to know what to do.

Then I’m told to leave, covid restrictions mean only one person can stay. It didn’t take a genius to see that the person you needed was your friend, I needed you to keep talking, I needed you to know I respected your need for space, and that I was ok with it. I waited outside, I know you didn’t see the tears, but I know you knew they were there. You really are way to clever at times. That’s where the waiting began. What a wait!

You knew I was there all along, I came in when I could, but left you with your own space. Did all I could to give you the time you said you needed, I could see the frustrations building when you weren’t being heard. Hearing you describe how you felt, your plans, how you viewed your future, and seeing the sadness in your eyes. Then the disappointment when it fell on deaf ears. I wasn’t going to give up on you, I heard your words, I could hear your heart breaking. I heard your tears as you fell into your friends arms, and I made sure your voice was there! I did what I could to get you heard, to keep you safe. I wanted to keep you in my arms, it was at this point I knew it wasn’t possible.

I stayed by your bedside all night, those moments cherished when you let me near to watch funny videos online, for the odd snuggle. Giving you space when you needed, comfort, kind words or just silence. I’d have given you anything that night. Every time you refused to take something to drink my heart sank a little bit. I would have given my last breath to have seen a small spark of something in you to have the wanting for a bit of self care. I knew it would happen in time, there was a part of me that wanted it now. The parent in me wanted it now, that part in me I was talking down while telling you it was ok that you didn’t want to drink right now but there was water and juice when you were ready.

The days that followed all rolled into one, observing your smiles when you got to see your friends on FaceTime, to seeing glimpses of the brave and strong person you are inside when spending time together. Playing silly games for those few moments, including catch with an octopus (if you know you know) to seeing the sadness take over, and feeling helpless. Not knowing what to say, where to sit, or what to do. Sometimes across the room, sometimes outside. Sometimes right next to you, depending on how you were feeling and that was all ok. Knowing as a parent all I can do hope, hope that you won’t ever give up. Hope that you know I’ll never give up on you. That so many people love and care for you, and will always be around you to fight for you and stand by your side.

I don’t know what it must have felt like for you. Being there alone, with no one for company other than the nurses, and your mum for company. When all you wanted was your friends, the people you had learnt to trust the most. The feelings you kept locked up, and afraid to tell the world about. Keeping your beauty locked away from everyone, including yourself. I could see the fight happening in your eyes, yet powerless to it, there was nothing that I could do at the time to help in any way. Not knowing how to help, or what would help, if anything would help, it was all I could do to bring you your comforts, a blanket, a book, some headphones.

“With so much to think about and to consider all I wanted was to know you would be ok, so I waited.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

Every day seemed to be the same, wondering what the next would bring, what was actually going to happen? What was going to be the end goal? How were we going to move forward? What can I do to help? So many unanswered questions and no one to give us the answers. Then things started moving in fast forward, and professionals started talking, people getting involved who seemed really nice and helpful initially, it was a bit overwhelming. I was not sure what was going to happen. The conversations that were happening you were so brave, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride with your bravery, but at the same time a sense of fear.

Before we knew it, that day came, and it was time to say bye. With no warning at all, the plan was told to us and that was it. On this day when we both pushed away every emotion possible to make it easier for each other. The both of us seemed to look at each other like automatic machines, both wary of each others feelings, both desperate to say sorry, yet neither wanting to say anything.

This was the day when I wanted to bring you home, but I understood all too well that it wasn’t the best option, and being proud of your bravery I hugged you and said goodbye. Walking away the tears burned. I trusted you, and I knew you were going to be alright, yet I wanted you with me. I couldn’t and didn’t want to accept you going without me. With so much to think about and to consider all I wanted was to know you would be ok. So I waited for the message from you.

Those colourful wings of yours are so wrapped up at the moment, they are wrapped around you keeping you safe, and keeping you protected. The time will come when you can open them for the world to see. When you do people will stop and stare in awe at your beauty, your strength, your bravery and your courage. It takes so much to do the things that you’ve done, and to keep yourself going, to constantly keep fighting the battles in your head, when you want to quit and you convince yourself to never give up.

Although things can be hard, seeing your own butterfly fighting, sad, making decisions they should never have to make. Watching them grow, shine, and prove to the world how determined they are makes it amazing and makes the journey a little bit easier.

The heartache will always be there, I will always miss my big little butterfly till the day I have her back in my arms. If that will happen, However, knowing she’s doing all she can to get stronger, healthier, happier, and more resilient I couldn’t be prouder of her. We won’t ever give up.

As each day passes without you by my side, I wait for your message to let me know you are alright. I hold on to the hope that you will keep going, you are the one that said ‘never give up’ because of that I truly believe that you will be able to stand strong one day soon. I truly believe that because you are my butterfly.

Supporting your own family member, if that be a child, parent, carer, sibling, or another close loved one when they are in a crisis situation is challenging to say the least. The fear is overwhelming at times. Yet knowing that you have the love for that person, to support them in their time of need. Knowing that whatever they need to be able to regain their strength, their ability to fly again, and find the colour in their wings is so important. Despite the challenges, the distance, the fact that even when at the lowest of lows my own little big butterfly stood there and told me to write, and told me to never give up, when that is what I was telling her, just goes to show the impeccable strength she has within her. One day, her wings will be the boldest, brightest I have ever seen. Knowing that she has hope within her, means that I will never give up.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You Don’t Need A Name.

Domestic abuse can affect anyone, it is hard to talk about if you’ve experienced it yourself, but hearing first hand how it can make you feel can also give someone strength, hope, courage and the power to take a step needed. However, reading about someone’s experiences can also be quite upsetting or traumatic for others, so please remember to take care of yourself when reading about personal experiences. If you feel uncomfortable, there is no shame in reaching out to a friend, colleague, loved one, for that support. Thank you for reading my blogs, and for being a supportive bunch of readers.

I think you know who you are. I never need to say your name anymore yet the sheer thought of it sends shivers down my spine. Not the good sort either.

You took so much from me, you don’t even realise it. Maybe you do. To the outside world it seems like you don’t, but now that isn’t important. Why? Let me explain.

I was once this person who had a love for life, a little bounce in my step and a spark for all things I did. Then you came along and turned my world upside down, inside out, and left it spinning. You gave me everything I ever wanted, and never wanted at the same time. The things you expected in return were, to me at the time, normal. With every ‘normal’ day came another hole in my life, another dark shadow in my head, and another scar or bruise to tell the tale of a day I forced myself to survive.

This ‘normal’ paid its price on my identity. The bright, colourful, confident person I once was, became an empty shell. Something that just purely existed in this world that didn’t experience any joy, any happiness or any peace. This was because you became one thing to me, my abuser.

All those times you you whisked me off my feet, you showed me that you loved me with those magical days out; amazing gifts and the beautiful flowers you would present to me. Only to insist on the gratitude, the level of thanks which could exceed any length of time that suited you. Only to get jealous when someone else gave me flowers, or a gift. Leaving me to hide them and enjoy them in secret, for fear of upsetting you. The guilt of receiving any form of thanks or kindness from anyone else had become a huge fear over time. This was my ‘normal’ now.

When you successfully taught me over time how to behave in front of all the people you approved of. Made sure you taught me who you didn’t like, convinced me that my friends made me a bad person. That they were a bad influence, they were ‘toxic’ because they made me laugh, made me smile, gave me the confidence to give life a chance without you. You didn’t want me near them because they allowed me to be the person I was, the person I wanted to be, the person inside. To have a voice, and be honest. To have fun and to take part without you by my side. I soon learnt who those people were and I soon found a way to avoid them, to let them down, to tell them I was not that person they knew anymore without blaming you. Without telling them it was you who didn’t like them, I didn’t let on to them that it was because of you I stopped enjoying all those things. I did that for you, you didn’t even realise that when you were shouting at me though did you? When you were screaming at me for not putting you first? Was it apparent when you called me selfish that I had given up all my friends for you?

Remember when you kept poking at me every single time I wore clothes that you didn’t like? You would comment on everything I ate, the way I looked, when I gained weight, and even when I lost weight. At what point was my reflection ever going to be good enough for you? The times when an effort was made and then the insults came, the accusations flew thick and fast because it was assumed the effort I made was for someone else. Did you ever begin to notice that I stopped eating? I always ate elsewhere, or ate earlier in the day so it wasn’t an issue at meal time. What about when I stopped wearing nice clothes? That didn’t register either. You did that, you made me hate the body I have so much, every little piece of it, to the extent I still cant look in a mirror without saying how much I hate myself. Was this your goal?

“This was my ‘normal’ now.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

You made me feel like I was losing my mind on a daily basis. Constantly telling me how tired I was, reminding me that I was forgetting everything. Telling me I was not remembering things correctly, and incapable of carrying out basic tasks. Even when I was sure I remembered, that I hadn’t forgotten, that I knew I could manage. You made me doubt myself so much I lost my confidence in the things I loved. In myself.

You used to lay there at night listening to me crying myself to sleep, only to wake me up again to make more tears fall. So long as you got your apology that was all that mattered. You always got your apology didn’t you? You also always got your sleep, I made sure of that, it didn’t mean you were grateful. You had your requests which needed to be met, tears or no tears. You never noticed them did you?

“Do I miss the person I used to be?”

@butterflieswithrainbows

You hurt me in more ways that I ever knew was possible. To have the ability to put me in that constant state of fear without it seems, even trying. To be a person who says they are caring and protective, yet so scary and frightening at the same time. To be able to silence me from across the room with a single look, to be able to respond to a room of people on my behalf without so much as raising an eyebrow amongst the crowd. You think no one saw, you think think no one noticed. I thought the same too, because I didn’t realise how much I’d lost my voice, how much I’d lost my name.

You shrunk me to nothing, but it didn’t go unnoticed.  By shrinking me down so small you gave me the ability to hide away.  This was such a change for me that this actually meant I was seen more.  I now realise this wasn’t what you had hoped at all, but it is what happened.  

What do you think of this person, who has managed to pull someone down so far, they’ve at times considered if even living is worth it. That they have so much pain in their heart and mind that they would at times seek solace in physical pain just to manage it. That they need to work hard everyday to repair and rebuild the damage that you caused them?

Do I miss the person I used to be? No, I don’t actually miss anything about her. Do I mourn her? Maybe a little sometimes if I am honest. The person I am today is growing stronger than ever, and will achieve more than that person ever could have managed to in that situation.

The reason I am growing stronger is down to all you did to her. The lessons you taught her, the life you gave her, and most of all the family you gave her. So by shrinking that past me down so small, you’ve made me better than ever.

I will never forget what I have experienced, or felt, and will have to live with it for the rest of my life. There will always be times when I will wish I didn’t have to remember. There are also going to be many opportunities to make amazing new memories moving forward. Along with memories, come dreams, and hopes. I now have hopes, something which I never really had before. My biggest hope for moving forward is that the two versions of my life will merge into one amazing butterfly.

The wounded version who’s healing and always present, who has the occasional wobbles, and the version of me that creeps out sometimes stronger than ever.

“Do I mourn her?”

@butterflieswithrainbows

So you see, You don’t need a name, you never will. The lessons learnt from the memories are what I need, the strength they’ve given me is what deserves the name. That name is mine.

Why do I reference to a butterfly? Butterflies can never see the beauty of their wings, or how well they healing after they’ve been wounded. The only time they know when they are fully healed is when they fly high. Their strength is hidden until they soar.

So, if you’re reading this wondering how long it’ll be before you fly, remember to be that butterfly, and fly when you’re ready.

If you’re reading this and still wondering why you don’t need a name anymore, it is because I now have one.

My Name Is ………………

6 Minutes.

I suppose when you put your mind to it, in the space of 6 minutes you can do quite a bit.  For example

  • Do 15 push ups
  • Write a letter to a friend/family member
  • Make your bed
  • Enjoy a cup of tea/coffee
  • Put the laundry on
  • Meditation

A lot of other things can happen in the space of 6 minutes too.  Sometimes that time goes by ever so fast, sometimes though it seems to drip by slowly.  The most fascinating times is when two people are sharing this time and both experience two completely different things.  Two separate things that were learnt from this time, both just as important and relevant as each other. 

So for this blog I have enlisted the help of Ayse. Ayse is a solution focused therapist from London specialising in domestic abuse recovery.

The reason being is quite simply because I made Ayse wait that 6 minutes.

I didn’t know it at the time, I wasn’t timing it (she was) but to me that 6 minutes didn’t feel that long.  For me 6 minutes was something else, and for us that 6 minutes gets referred back to time and time again. 

Ayse, what was it that made you stay silent and wait for me to reply to your question in that day?

When I initially called you to book in our first session you said, ‘What’s the point? No one ever listens to me. People make up their own minds like I don’t have a voice’. I wanted to support you in finding your voice. I wanted you to know that you matter. 

For me It didn’t feel that long to me, to be honest it literally seemed like 1 or 2 minutes because I couldn’t think of what to say.  I remember having a million different answers in my head, so it wasn’t really not knowing what to say, but not knowing how to say it.  I was desperate to respond with ‘I don’t know.’

Ayse, did you know that when I look back now I have so much respect for you waiting that length of time, just sitting there waiting for me to answer.

What difference did it make you having been giving time to think without being rushed?

This is a good question, to be given the time to think, and allowed to answer in my own time meant I was able to process my own thoughts.  At the time my thoughts were so jumbled it was always easy to respond with ‘I don’t know’ or ‘it doesn’t matter’ because to me that was simply how it felt.  However, sitting there being given the time on that day planted the seed, which has then slowly grown into trust.

What difference did those 6 minutes make to you and your practice?

It taught me patience!! I am not the most patient person but it was not about me. It was about you. My practice has changed significantly since then. I invite clients to ‘think’ and not have the assumption that they have the answers, they just need the space to think. 

I had spent so long not being able to answer with the words that I had wanted to, being able to have that opportunity was scary.  I couldn’t understand why it was important for someone to want to know what it was I wanted to say.  Let alone what I was thinking and feeling.  I had gotten used to saying what other people wanted to hear.  This was unknown territory to me.  This initial conversation was an eye opener that’s for sure.

So what was it that sparked this long wait?  What was it that I was asked?

The question was a follow up question. My initial question was, ‘What are your best hopes?” It took a few minutes for you to answer, but you did. The actual question I asked that resulted in me waiting six minutes was, “Imagine your best hopes were met, what difference might that make to you?” You rolled your eyes a few times and changed your seating position. Not because you were upset by the question but because you allowed yourself time to think of the answer. I had no idea what was going on in your head but I could see you were working hard. I was not going to interrupt your thought. Then there was a eureka moment. You hesitated by shared your thoughts with me. You described what life would might look like for you once you met your best hopes.

Best hopes, this was the hardest question ever, although now this is one my favourite questions to be asked, because I always have best hopes, in every day.  Out of every conversation, out of every situation.  Sometimes even if that is just to be heard.

Now writing this, looking back it is easier to reflect on that moment.  This is because I am so much further along in my own journey.  Over a year further along.  There have been many moments when I have sat in silence following being asked questions, for a multitude of reasons.  The feeling of being allowed to have a voice, an opinion is one thing.  The understanding that it your voice is wanted, and respected, and liked is something different altogether.

There are many more people who cannot be heard.  Or feel that being heard is not important.  Part of this is being able to learn that you are important, and your voice is important.  In many different aspects.

Being heard by yourself is just as valuable as being heard by others.  This is something that Ayse has helped me with on may occasions.  Hearing yourself, and what you are telling yourself that you need.  That little voice in your head.  You know the one, the one that tells you that you need a break, that you need to take it easy for the day.  That you just need to slow down or take some time out.  When you need to remember the things that ground you, the breathing, the colouring, the crafts, the writing.  Voicing the times that you have managed to do things that you are proud of.  Even if it is going into a coffee shop and ordering a coffee, making that phone call which you know will be answered by a total stranger.  Small steps lead onto greater leaps at some point when you are ready. 

If you have never experienced a period of time where you aren’t able to be heard, or to speak out.  Try for a short time, take 6 minutes; and watch the world go by.  Listening to your own voice in your head with all the things that you are wanting to say, but not able to speak them.  Feel the frustrations, the torment, just for that short moment, so that next time you are speaking with someone, and you notice that they are finding it hard to figure out the words you may understand and some of the frustrations they are experiencing.

Ayse is taking this one very large step further, and is staying silent for much longer. In order to feel what it is like to be a victim of domestic abuse, this may only give her a snippet of what it is like but it is an experience every time she does this. (she has no idea I am writing this by the way guys) Ayse spends her days listening to others, listening to how other people experience days, weeks, months where they spend their lives not being able to have a voice, or be heard. So for a day or two Ayse goes quiet, and listens to the conversation around her, not being able to speak, watching the world carry on around her, and not being able to do anything about it; let alone have a say in what is happening around her. I mentioned above about you trying it for 6 minutes. This year Ayse is being silent for the 6th and 7th September, all monies raised will be going to the charity Family Based Solutions to keep supporting families where they are recovering from domestic abuse. The donation page can be found here Two Days Silence – Online Social Fundraising Donation Platform | Givey and if you want to learn more about Family Based Solutions then check out their website here Child to parent abuse adolescent Parent support groups (familybasedsolutions.org.uk)

Just as an added note, if you’re wondering how long 6 minutes is, if you read at an average pace, this blog post should take you about 6 minutes to read.

A little something to think about.