I’m A Mum To A Suicidal Teen.

Please before you read this, check in with yourself, this blog mentions topics that may be a trigger to yourself, or those around you. If you don’t feel that you are in a OK space to read it at the moment, that’s alright, flag it and read it later. Tell someone you want to read it, so that you can do it together, so you’ve got someone to talk about it with afterwards. This may help some people, it isn’t intended to make anyone else feel any worse. Self care and self check ins are so vital when it comes to mental health. My DMs are always open and so are my emails. There are also other services available for support and advice, please utilise your local areas resources should you need further support.

When I first became a parent I had the image in my head of the parent in all those books. You know the ones, in the fields surrounds by wild flowers, in the perfect floaty dress, children smiling around me, and me looking ecstatically happy. Little did I know my reflection would be more like dark circles under my eyes, hair styles that consisted of alternating between a messy bun and a ponytail depending on the length of time I can hold my arms up that day, baggy tees to cover the untoned, unkempt midriff that has kindly carried my amazing butterflies into this world, not to mention the permanent glazed over look in my eyes which is thanks to the permanent state of exhaustion despite probably consuming enough caffeine to switch my entire blood volume over the years over to coffee! Now that’s the image they never put in the parenting books! I wonder why???

They also never put the images of the parents sitting there looking at their phones redialling their teens phone numbers over and over in the hope they will answer, in the hope someone will answer. Or the images of us mums (or dads) sitting there crying as the worry and guilt floods us and the emotions are just overwhelming, not knowing what it is that we’ve done wrong to upset our child in that moment, when the chances are it is something that can be resolved if only the emotions on both sides just hadn’t got involved in the first place.

Every parenting image that I had in the beginning was a positive one, was a happy one, was one which involved a good memory, something that would be exciting and fun. The reality is the complete opposite.

If you’ve read my previous blog ‘Never Give Up’ you’ll know I’ve been on a bit of a journey with one of my butterflies recently. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’ll give you a back story to this blog and highlight how amazing my young one really is. With every butterfly going through a difficult time, battling the difficult challenges of mental health, is a parent trying to be a parent. By my butterfly there is me, her mum. Reality struck the other day when I was with her in the hospital and someone asked me “how are you managing being a mum of a suicidal teen?” That one question alone made the reality of everything shine so bright in my head, not necessarily how am I managing, but that is my child, and not only is that my child but you are right. I am a mum to a suicidal teen and that’s actually really fucking hard.

Sitting back in the hospital next to a bed that is housing my amazing butterfly, wrapped up in a mixture of hoodies, blankets, headphones and drowning the world out with music, I find myself thinking an awful lot. What did I miss? Could I have stopped this? What did I do wrong? Could I have fought harder for her? Should I have fought harder? Should I have said no more often? Should I have said yes more often? Did I hide everything properly?

Why didn’t I hide everything well enough? What if no one had called? What if she hadn’t have text her friend? What triggered this? Where do we go from here? Will she hate me for not staying all the time? Will she hate me for being here? Am I being too much? Am I too selfish and missing the point altogether here?

“Every parenting image that I had in the beginning was a positive one, was a happy one.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

Those are just some of the million and one questions that were running through my head in the first few hours, I had zero answers. None, now for those that know me and read my blogs will know that I always have answers. Not this time. I was empty. I wanted to hold my butterfly and pop her into a protective cocoon and not let anyone or anything near her. That wasn’t the solution either. What was the solution? What was the best next step in this situation? Was anyone going to tell me what to do? Why didn’t anyone tell me this in those parenting books? Why isn’t this taught to us?

How can I be a mum to someone who constantly ends every sentence with ‘if I live that long’? Well for starters, I can be. Everyone can be. Because when we became a parent, wether that’s a parent from birth, marriage, adoption, foster, you have that agreement in your heart and brain to stick by your child, no matter what. It can be hard, and it is really hard, especially to see the light go out in their eyes, but it’s our role to help them see that light is still burning. It’s just a bit of a smaller flame at the moment. That little flicker of light they need to see, is hope.

How was I managing to do this? I had to be sure I can hold on to hope first. Knowing my own families strengths, what their dreams are, what they want to be able to achieve, their best hopes. Not to be afraid of having those scary conversations. It’s true what they say, asking about someone’s mental health doesn’t create mental health difficulties.

“No one tells us that as a parent we will spend most of our lives scared, but filled with so much love it actually hurts.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

Despite all of that, I’ll admit getting a phone call to say ‘your child has od’d your needed at the hospital now’ is one which I won’t ever forget. Knowing that it had only been a matter of hours prior that I had hugged her, told her I loved her, and seen her smile. That tsunami of emotions and confusion came crashing in only (if I’m honest) it hasn’t fully hit yet. In movies you can pause a scene, which is kind what it feels like all those emotions and thoughts did in that moment, just hovering at the peak of the wave, dripping every now and then. Allowing me time to rush around underneath so that there won’t be any damage when that wave falls. This was a week ago now, a whole week since that call, yeah.

The last 7 days have been taken one day at a time. Every single day I’ve been asked by my butterfly ‘I might get to go home today right?’ And I’ve had to have the conversation about how she’s safer where she is, we have a laugh and a joke about how she will have to start thinking about redecorating her room, but the message remains the same. You need to stay safe. As a parent that’s all we want for our children isn’t it? Even if those decisions are the hardest ones to make, and can feel like they are ripping our hearts in two.

Being a parent in this situation teaches you things books can never ever teach. The ability to listen from afar, you know what I mean right? Those mumbles which are then followed up with ‘why weren’t you listening?’ Believe me when I say you learn to listen to everything, not a word goes un-missed because nothing gets repeated, if you need it repeated you get ‘it’s fine’ or ‘it’s not important’ or the best one ‘told you no one listens.’

The ability to make alternative games out of anything! Literally, have you ever tried to play Jenga with the blocks the opposite way? Or half the blocks and play against each other? They also make an amazing domino run, and not mention build a fabulous castle.

You learn the ability to look for smiles. Those moments that would normally go unnoticed now become moments to be held onto. When you walk in and see a small smile, and choose to respond with ‘that’s nice to see’ rather than with nothing at all. Or when you see a smile appear and choose to ask who’s send that message that made you smile, the smiles that appear because you played a game together, watched a YouTube video that you wouldn’t normally do, or even just sat in silence because at the moment that’s what was needed and it didn’t go unnoticed. You learn that the smallest of smiles can be the sign of thank you, I appreciate you, I needed that.

“Having the confidence to be bold enough to ask ‘can you keep yourself safe tonight?’ And being prepared for that answer to be ‘no’ so your own emotions don’t throw you off guard.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

You learn patience, so much patience. I never knew how patient I was able to be until now. That mum voice inside of me still tells me to just get on with everything, to just give that hug, just pour that drink, hand that sandwich or snack over. Instead I’ve learnt that it’s better to do things differently, ask if it’s ok to have a hug today? I’m pleased the answer is yes more often than not, and I can’t even explain the emotions when I heard the words ‘I want a hug’ the other day. It took a lot of will power to not squish my beautiful butterfly. To offer time and space, and understand that it’s not hate that pushes me to the edges. It’s just the moment in time, and time passes, so will this moment. Just because being there, sitting in silence doesn’t mean much to one person, it might mean everything to someone else, so not to criticise it, that doing stuff all the time is exhausting, and draining.

You learn that the person you thought you knew is still there. It’s so easy to think ‘who are you?’ Or ‘I don’t recognise this person anymore,’ but they are there. Showing the love, care and kindness you have will bring that person to the surface. Will show that you love every bit of your child, their colourful wings as well as the version of them that isn’t able to fly as high. Shows you will always be that consistent person by their side, on whatever level they are on. Wiping tears of sadness or wiping tears of joy, you’ll be there. Every now and then that laugh creeps out, their little quirks can be seen, the excitement for life try’s to spark up.

You learn when these sparks are there to grab them with both hands, to pounce on them quicker than your cat pounces on the mice in the fields. To hold them, and cherish them, water them, and help them flourish. Talk about them and fill these sparks with love, wonder, and excitement. With Hope. Before handing them back to continue their growth within your butterfly, for them to become embedded into bigger sparks. In the hope that the next time a brighter spark can be seen when you look in their eyes.

You learn to hold in how much it hurts, to walk away at the end of every day knowing you’re leaving your butterfly alone. Hoping they are strong enough, hoping they will be ok, hoping that despite all the positives in the day that something stuck. Just a piece of it. Knowing it’s hard, knowing they don’t want to see you upset, but you don’t want to see them upset either. Knowing that your own butterfly is just as stubborn as you are, which makes you proud, but scared at the same time. You question if you really did enough that day, knowing your butterfly will tell you you’re being dumb!

None of these things get taught to us, we have to just wing it and hope we do ok. We rely on the guidance of others to help us through, to tell us how it’s going.

No one tells us that as a parent we will spend most of our lives scared, but filled with so much love it actually hurts.

No one tells us that as a parent we will go through excruciating painful times that we have zero control over, and it leaves us feeling guilty, isolated, ashamed, overwhelmed, over protective, and cautious of the world we live in.

I write about this not for sympathy, not for pity, but because I know there are other mums, dads, nans, grandpas, aunts, uncles, carers, brothers, sisters, friends, all around the world who have been or are in the same boat. Thinking the same questions, and feeling the the same or similar feelings.

The expectation is to sit back and hear the words ‘this is your fault’ ‘you should have done better’ well guess what! This is not your fault. This is nobody’s fault, not yours as the adult caring for your teen, and most certainly not your teens fault either. This is the situation that we have found ourselves in and the way to work through this is one day at a time. An hour at a time if needed. You are not alone in this journey and there are others fighting alongside with you, encouraging their own butterflies to rest, gather their strength, and looking towards a more positive future.

“Being next to the bed holding your child’s hand is not your fault. Leaving them in a place of safety to receive treatment and care is not nice, but you are not abandoning your child.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

The main focus will always be on our butterflies, to aid their recovery. As their parent it’s important to check in with yourself too. My own butterfly (as frustrating as it is at times) is all too aware of how other people are managing, and does this with me. Keeping ourselves physically and mentally strong enough to keep that flicker of Hope going is important for us all. If that means taking those few moments to yourself to get a coffee and let the tears flow, that may look like taking a day to just off load and recharge with a trusted friend, however it looks, our own strength bounces off of those around us. So again another thing no one tells us is to be sure to make time to check in with you, how are you managing. Acknowledge how hard it is, because it really really is, but you’re doing great. You know your young person better than anyone, you know how they will respond to your words. If you can, tell your butterfly if you’re having a tricky time, believe me when I say right now they know what a bad day feels like, they will get you.

Talk, to anyone that’s willing to listen! We have a long journey ahead and any long journey is less scary with a friend or two to chat to along the way. Making sure all plans are clear and support is in place for everyone. Sometimes questions come up in conversations that we don’t even think of when we are asked ‘do you have any questions?’ And just be honest. Don’t feel guilty for taking some time for a bit of self care. The doctors and nurses are used to seeing me doodling or colouring while my butterfly is resting. It’s all about balancing everything.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, having a young person who is suicidal is hard, but it shouldn’t be something to be ashamed about. The world is slowly attempting to break the stigma surrounding mental health so why is it still so isolating as a parent sitting next to that bed? Reach out, because you really are not alone. The more people that talk about this the more awareness there really is, more parents will have the confidence to ask questions, and more importantly not be afraid of the answers.

Being next to the bed holding your child’s hand is not your fault. Leaving them in a place of safety to receive treatment and care is not nice, but you are not abandoning your child.

The things your child will remember in this time (from my own butterfly) holding my hand by my hospital bed, coming to see me every day, calling every day, bringing my favourite blanket, taking me for a walk to by nice food and a tasty drink, you making funny jokes about the disgusting food, doing my laundry and making the clothes smell like home, you bringing my phone charger so I can use my phone, reminding my to shower so I can smell good and make the ward smell like a beauty parlour.

These are what make the moments count, these are what matter, these are the moments to focus on.

I hope that reading this has helped some of you feel less isolated, and less lonely. I know I can say that this is definitely one of the most unexpected experiences I ever thought I would have to go through personally, and still feel totally unprepared for what the next few days, weeks or even months will bring. Accepting that I am a mum of a suicidal teen has actually been one of the most grounding things ever. I’m not just a mum of a teen with mental health issues, saying it as it is has helped me manage it better and see the world a bit better, to understand that actually it isn’t as simple asking once a day ‘are you ok’ and walking away. It’s a lot more deeper than that, more complex, and I’m ready to fight this with my little big butterfly all the way so we can both fly high together when the time is right.

I hope that you are feeling ok after reading this, please reach out if anything has upset you, left you with questions, of just left you feeling a bit unsure. Talking about mental health and suicide is a sensitive subject and as at the beginning of you need to seek help then please utilise the support networks in your local areas. Take care. 🦋🌈🦋

Feeling silenced, but the words will soon fly free.

Angles of August

Hi,

Have you ever shone a light through a prism and seen all the different colours fly out at different angles? For those who have read my previous blog “Never Give Up” you will know that August has been an emotional month. Life has literally been pulling me in all angles possible.

All is not lost, all is not bad. I am writing today because for the people who follow Butterflies With Rainbows on Facebook and Instagram will have seen the post on what has been your greatest achievement this month.

I shared this because despite the emotional rollercoaster that there has been a front seat ticket for, there have been many many positives within the month. It is a case of looking at the days from different angles that’s all.

Working through events and looking at the positives, the solutions, and the steps in how to overcome challenges is one of the things that I’ve been working so hard on. It’s one of the biggest challenges that I have faced.

This stems back to having experienced a lengthy time of not being able to make decisions independently and always having them questioned. Spending time doubting my own ability to make the right choices and ultimately not believing enough in myself even if I know I’m making the right choices.

What is it about looking at a light shining through a prism though that makes me think of all these decisions, choices and conversations that have been had this month? Let me explain.

Every decision we make pulls us in a direction. Sometimes it can feel like these directions are so far away from where we want to be heading but they just have to be tried, or they have to at least be explored. The thing is, there is one main thing when it come to looking at all these angles that gives us some reassurance, some comfort.

“Even the youngest are fully aware of self love and gratitude”

@butterflieswithrainbows

All the different angles come from one focal point. One single pivot which never moves, wherever you are that is the center point. So no matter how far away I feel like I’ve been pulled away from life this month I know that I can bring myself back to this one point, my own grounding point at any time. Refocus and recharge. All the different paths are connected to that one point and that will never change.

Focusing on the positives that shine through during the stressful times show just how amazing the world is, the bright colours of the rainbow from that light act as a reminder of the kindness that is shown. From hearing out of the mouth of a little butterfly the questions, “Do you love me? Do you love your own?” Only to realise that even the youngest are fully aware of self love and gratitude. To have the kindness of others reaching out and reminding me to just take some time out, making a sandwich and encouraging me to just do something to recharge for a few hours.

When a day seems so overwhelming and long, (summer holidays guys, you hear me right?) it’s been easy to just collapse in a heap at the end of the day wish for school to hurry up and restart, but thinking about it, was the day actually all that bad, or was it just that the overflow stresses from other days impacted this day, and impacted my emotions? The day isn’t any longer, it’s not been any worse, it isn’t going to be any different and to be honest we had fun.

“It is a case of looking at the days from different angles that’s all.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

Having the extra stresses that we have had has shown the amazing resilience my little butterflies have developed, their sense of humour they have inherited (sorry?) and their sense of determination to never let anything beat them. They never give up, so even though it’s a been a challenging month, the angle we’ve chosen to focus on is what has it shown us together.

It is definitely easier to focus on the stresses, but it’s exhausting, looking at things from the colourful angles that are shining through is much more fun, more rewarding and definitely more beneficial.

Looking back at your August, what different angles have you looked at each day from?

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.