Tuesday 19th November 2019

Women Of Courage Series. #25. Anonymous. 112/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #25. Anonymous. 112/2019.

Trigger warning: Domestic Violence, Family Violence, Mental Illness.

 

 

Woman of Courage #25  has chosen to be anonymous.

There will be no replies from this poster.

She will, however, be reading and I will be responding as I always do to readers’ comments.

Thank you for your understanding.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

I do know the person who has chosen to be anonymous.

I am in awe of her courage and was honoured when she decided to share this in this on-line space.

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

In the recent past, I was a victim of family violence. (Not of the intimate partner variety, but of the extended family variety – I’ve learnt a lot since it happened, and one of the things that I’ve learnt is that if you’re related in any way, it’s still classified as family violence.)

It was a single terrifying incident, although with the benefit of hindsight I can see the years of conditioning and gaslighting that preceded it. There were two perpetrators, and my children and I were the targets. I had to be courageous in the moment, even as my mind refused to believe what was happening. And I have had to be courageous since, making decisions to protect us and taking actions that I knew might lose us other family members and friends who refused to hear about what happened.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

In the moment, I learnt that the fight, flight or freeze response isn’t an either/or scenario. My initial response was to freeze. My mind could not accept what my eyes, ears and skin were telling me. A scream from my children flicked the switch to fight (though not of a physical variety – I instead said what I thought the perpetrators wanted to hear) until I could create a path to my children and then onwards with them to flight.

In terms of diagnoses, this incident changed me by bringing the terms anxiety, adjustment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into my life. It also brought imposter syndrome back into my life. In the past, it had usually been related to career success; this time, it was feeling that my one little incident wasn’t ‘worthy’ of PTSD. How dare I compare myself and my itty-bitty incident to a returned soldier’s experiences of combat?

In terms of practicalities, well… I’m still working through it all. I went through the stages of grief, which is to be expected. But I spent so long in denial that I did not accept the truth and depth of the incident and its effect on me for months. It took me a long time to accept my experience as traumatic. It took me longer still to recognise and accept that there was no shame in the experience, and no shame in the label of traumatic.

The incident broke my trust. With the perpetrators, of course, but also with others. With everyone, at first. I’d been conditioned to doubt myself around the perpetrators, and that continued. My brain constantly told me everyone was on their side, everyone thought I was overreacting, everyone was going to set up another ambush, everyone was against me, and wasn’t that fair enough? Wasn’t I overreacting? Did I really remember everything correctly? I had to rebuild my trust in people who had never done anything to deserve losing it in the first place.

Other changes? Fundamental beliefs and truths I held – such as my belief in the inherent goodness in all people – were shattered. (I’m working toward believing it again one day. I’m just not there yet.) Meanwhile, my belief that everyone has a right to freedom and safety has been strengthened. It might be truer to say it was created: I had simply taken it for granted previously.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

The things I’ve learnt are not fun, so I apologise to anyone not ready to hear these things. But here are the main things I’ve learnt (or things I knew that are now cemented):

  • ‘Family’ is not an excuse for violent behaviour. (In fact, it should be a promise for good.)
  • You don’t owe violent people anything. Your time, your regrets, mediation, compromise, placation, forgiveness. Anything.
  • There is no such thing as neutrality in violence. If someone says they want to remain neutral, or don’t want to get involved or pick sides, it’s too late. Whether consciously or not, they’ve already picked a side. And it’s not the victim’s.
  • You can’t control what people think about you. If people want to believe the worst of you without even speaking to you, based on nothing more than the lies of the perpetrators, that’s on them, not you. It still hurts, but you’re better off without such people in your life.
  • Anyone who expects you to compromise your safety for them isn’t worth it.
  • There is no excuse for violence.

These don’t sound like tips for courage, but knowing these things – not just logically knowing these things, but truly believing these things deep in my bones – are what eventually gave me the courage to take legal action.

One other thing I’ve learnt: lean on your support network. (You might have to wait until you’ve relearnt to trust your support network.) Many see the development of courage as a solo endeavour, but in my case it was a team sport. With my wonderful husband as captain and coach.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I don’t think it’s a case of being more courageous. It’s a case of knowing what otherwise dormant courage I already have, knowing what I will and won’t stand for, and recognising it sooner. Violence toward or in front of me and my children grants you an instant dismissal from our lives, do not pass GO, do not collect $200. And when I say violence, I now mean violence in all of its forms, including manipulative, controlling and coercive behaviour.

I do think I’d have the courage to take legal action sooner if something like this happened again. Courage borne from knowing that seeing the perpetrators in court a few times is preferable to not knowing if they’ll pop up anytime, anywhere and constantly living with the fear of that happening.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Courage isn’t a steely resolve. Courage isn’t determination or steadfastness. Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

I felt the fear. I felt the anxiety, the panic attacks, the self-doubt. And, eventually, with great support and understanding from the people I love and had relearnt to trust, I did it anyway.

And if I ever have to, I’ll do it again.

 

 

I so appreciate the thought and decision that went into this post from Anonymous.

Thank you for sharing this.

Please note: these numbers:

https://www.respect.gov.au/services/ Emergency: 000 or 1800 RESPECT

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

 

Denyse.

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Self-Care Stories #6. 42/51#LifeThisWeek. 105/2019.

Self-Care Stories #6. 42/51#LifeThisWeek. 105/2019.

In the past of this series I have written about daily routines, helpful strategies and learning about self-care for me. I have referenced people who have helped me in my quest. Some of my posts can be found here, here and here.

This week’s is different.

Read on to see why.

Where Do I Start?

Not at the beginning in this case! I start with what I think was/is for me a big issue in terms of self-care.

Believing the stories I am telling myself even when there is no evidence nor reason.

What Do I Mean By That?

I’ve been making big progress in terms of my on-going wellness physically and emotionally, particularly related to head and neck cancer, and in every day life practices ….or so I thought until last week.

On Wednesday last week I had the worst headache I had ever experienced since getting migraines waaay back in my 30s and 40s. I woke with it and it was unrelenting. I ended up, most unusually for me, vomiting once. I did not want to eat, felt nauseous, nothing appealed and I spent a miserable night tossing and turning because “I was making up so many stories about what I HAD DONE to cause this to MYSELF”

On Thursday it has settled more but my mind continued to play that above “rubbish” in my head. In fact, my husband and a friend said “maybe you have a virus, or even the flu”. No, not me. I couldn’t accept that. Again….”what did I do to get this?”

On Friday, bit better but not right 100%, another example of my story-telling which came to mind. When I felt I needed to use a toilet quickly because of symptoms of IBS. I “blamed” my inability to manage my emotions and spoke to myself harshly. I won’t repeat the words.

but by the end of that Friday I was so, so ready to

SHUT

THAT

VOICE

UP

and then this is what happened.

  • I felt the feelings and did not like them but I did know why they stayed.
  • I had felt ashamed to admit my health vulnerabilities.
  • I used to think I did have something wrong (and that is true) but until I had a diagnosis from my GP or someone with a medical qualification I hid behind my stress.
  • It has been like this for me probably since I was young. No-one (as I see it) in the 1950s and 1960s brought their kids up to speak of emotions and be able to be heard. In fact, I don’t think our generation did a good job either. We may have been more understanding but I guess “we wanted a happy, not crying kid” too.
  • I made an appointment to see my GP next week. I then examined how my physical symptoms were and they matched either a virus or a form of the flu. At the time of writing they are still there but I am managing them better.
  • I chose to treat myself with compassion.
  • I told myself I had not CAUSED anything to happen. I relaxed and took care of myself with food and water and kind inner conversation.
  • But wait, there is more.
  • You see, the old old issue for me of shame and embarrassment around my bowel habits continued to be one where I took myself to task often. Add to this a rectocele I also need to manage and I started to ‘hate needing to go to the toilet or find one wherever I was’ and I blamed me.
  • I knew though that I needed to change that darned voice and SOON.
  • I did.
  • I wrote about it. In my on-line journal. It also helped to read it aloud to my husband.
  • It relieved my stress to such a level by that Friday night and into Saturday (time of writing) I have been:

A very pleasant person to be and to live with.

What a significant self-care story this turned out to be.

But of course, you just can’t turn a belief on its head like that…because our minds like to play with us.

IF I had not already done a lot of self-education about self-compassion, having courage and learning from Brene Brown, Kristin Neff and My Calm Meditation AND all the courses I have done, including seeing a psychologist ….and having a trained counsellor husband who has, ahem, talked me down from quite few heights of emotion…then I could not have done this.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?

Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion.

So, I thank you for reading this far. I have felt a bit vulnerable in owning up to what was keeping me stressed in some areas of my physical health but I have done it.

Two images with quotes which have helped me grow as a person are shared here:

Denyse.

P.S. The story does not stop here. No. Unless I continue to practise and recognise my self-care and compassion, then my negative/default mind (it’s how all of our brains operate) will revert pretty darned smart. So, I will return to this book, where I began completing the pages. Sometimes it IS hard to look at yourself with a reality check. But I know this helps me. Onward….and away from old thoughts, memories of shame and embarrassment.

This is the book I use.

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 43/51 Your Favourite Book As a Child 28/10/19

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April Is About.13/51#LifeThisWeek. 32/2019.

April Is About.13/51#LifeThisWeek. 32/2019.

By the end of April it’s 1/3 of the calendar year….gone!

Yet in some ways it can feel like the year has just begun.

Here’s what April is about from my perspective:

Camellias: these were from the house we last rented. Mature and beautiful flowers.

Rugged surf afternoons in school hols.

One grandchild has a birthday in April!

 

Blue Skies. The last of the Frangipani towering over the camellia at our last house.

This is how we ‘survived’ the East Coast low in April 2015. Almost 5 days with no power.

April Musings. 

My late paternal grandmother was born in April 1896. I wonder what she would make of the world now! My late Uncle (Mum’s brother) was born in April too and had a rather sad life despite being ‘the eldest and son’. It happens. Our daughter chose an April wedding day. It was a beauty weather-wise. Whilst her marriage like many did not last, the three grandkids have always had their parents there for them and now in adulthood are forging lives of their own. I have remained very good friends with my daughter’s former m-i-l and we only got together for a catch up last week!

In Australia it is the beginning, in some areas, of less daylight as we turn the clocks back and boom…6 p.m. and it’s almost dark.

Reminder: early Sunday 7 April is when ‘we put the clocks back one hour.’ It will mean we will be in the same time zone as Queensland again. Yay.

In April I am travelling to Newcastle Writers’ Festival to see two of my favourite authors speak about their books! Sunday 7 April – the Festival is from 5-7 April and held generally in the area closest to the civic centre in Newcastle. Here is the link to the site. I will be leaving home early…to drive and secure a park nearby I hope!

Rick Morton: One Hundred Years of Dirt. 10.00 a.m.

Jane Caro: Accidental Feminist 1.30 p.m.

What does April bring for you?

Denyse.

Linking here on Mondays with Kell for Mummy Mondays.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s optional prompt: 14/51 Self-Care: Share Your Story #2. 8/4/19

 

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My Favourite Decade. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 18/2019.

My Favourite Decade. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 18/2019.

Given my age, and my so-called group status as a “Baby Boomer” it would not be a surprise to read that my favourite decade is the 1960s.

The decade where my childhood faded, and the teen years beckoned then ended with my teaching career started.

All from ages 12 to 20.

Why oh why was it the best?

I wish I had an image for each of what I remember as highlights but instead, it’s a list and there are a few back up pics.

1960.

Into a new to us Primary School that was much bigger than the one we went to in Wollongong and I had many more people to get to know and achievements to make. The best part of 1960 was having Mr Duffy as my Yr 5 teacher and knowing that I too wanted to be a teacher.

1961.

Year 6. There were two classes and there was quite a bit of competition to do well and whilst I was not as academically gifted as many I liked the ‘leadership’ aspect of Year 6 and our relative independence. We were allowed to leave the school grounds and walk to the local shops for lunch when we had money for that. I remember hot chips and a malted vanilla milk in a carton.

It was the end of year camp that was not so wonderful as my first period decided to arrive during the 10 day camp on Lake Macquarie. Never mind, no swimming, but you can write and edit the Camp Magazine. It was fun. And it was printed on a metholated spirit printer. Remember them? They were still around when I began teaching.

The BIG deal too that year was the Year 6 Farewell Dance. Oh My! Hair done, new dress selected, stockings to wear (a garter belt held up the stockings, a bra fitted, with due embarrassment, at David Jones’ city store and my first tiny heel on a shoe. Wow.

1962.

To High School. We were the cohort of the first 6 years at High School in N.S.W. for the ‘new’ Higher School Certificate as planned by the education review called the Wyndham Scheme. We were indeed guinea pigs but off to the almost brand new single sex public school Manly Girls High, I went. I was put in the top class and there were a total of 7 or 8 classes per year. Getting to know new friends and to go to sport at a local swimming pool and to work with a timetable and catching a bus to school was all part of this time.

1963.

My social life was more fun than school but still I persisted. I would have preferred French and Art as my 2 picks for subjects added to the compulsory four but my dad insisted on French and German for the matriculation purposes in Year 12. But even though it was not as clear as that I complied. I was still part of Girl Guides but not devoted at all and went on a pretty wet camp south of Wollongong. I left Guides once I could. I also began teaching Sunday School. I like little kids and the idea of teaching. I was not as enamoured with the church side of it.

1964.

More independence and I began regular paid evening baby sitting gigs which I continued with the same family till I left for my first teaching appointment. I also began doing some school holiday office duties at Dad’s work. I sure was not interested in helping Mum much. I did a typing course at night in Manly where it was safe for me to catch a bus home in the evening. I went to an after school Ballroom Dancing class each week (i.e. meeting boys class) and my first boyfriend was from the local boys’ school. Ah Col. We had some good times and I got my first friendship ring the next year.

I went to see the Beatles in June with my friend and my brother. It was amazing to actually see, not so much hear, the Beatles.

I began collecting records. Dad was keen on all music and I could play my 45s (the small ones) and my 33s (the big ones) on the family stereo.

I got my first transistor radio and was glued to the evening shows with Mike Walsh and won prizes as I was quick on the phone. Yes I “was” doing homework but could multi-task!

1965.

A big year. Well, that was how it was made out and in terms of the new 6 years of school it was. We had to sit an external examination  called The School Certificate. In completing the School Certificate, the plan was that unless you wanted to go to University, Teachers’ College, enter Nursing or Secretarial College,  then you left school at the end of Year 10 to do an apprenticeship or go to a job. About 2/3 of the whole Year 10 would have left. It was a big shock doing our first external examination to find that the “one” compulsory component – poetry – of the English paper was not one I had prepared for nor knew much about it. Neverthless I passed all of my subjects, and we celebrated with parties at people’s places.

It was the year Sound of Music was released and more movies that genre were about: Doctor Zhivago, My Fair Lady, and so on. When we went to the movies, there was always a double feature with the main movie starting second after interval. I had a new boyfriend by the beginning of the next year, and we met via the social group at Manly Presbyterian Church.

1966.

Again social life precedes school life but the existed side-by-side thanks to joining forces with the local boys’ high schools to appear in a Gilbert and Sullivan Show, and to attend dances. Of course. Greater independence as some of the boys now had cars was for me to be ‘dropped’ by Mum or Dad into Manly on a Sunday afternoon and attend the social/church event and afterwards to go to a local coffee shop. Very trendy.

I continued to do some holiday work for Dad, and to babysit but social life aka love life beckoned more. It was during Year 11 that we of the first to do the HSC got to select and wear a senior uniform and to have some freedom with some teaching time off for ‘study.’ I was active in the School Magazine and social events but came down with a crash when my Year 11 results were not exactly stunning.

I moved on….to

1967.

Ah, a big year and one in which the boyfriend and I split (bye Rob) and hello Stu. Met through the same place. Good old Manly Presbyterian Church Fellowship. This one was already at Uni! He had completed the last of the Leaving Certificate (like my never yet met husband) and was doing Ag Science at Sydney Uni. He had a car. He lived at home with the friendly younger brother and his mum. My younger brother got to meet his, and with their neighbourhood friends, THESE blokes are still mates! Me, broken up with the bf in 1970 …another story for another time. Oh yes, here it is here.

This year was when I got my licence: P’s, could borrow Mum’s car, had more social engagements inclyuding Uni balls, and then realised I needed to put my head down to actually study in the lead up to the H.S.C. It worked, and in saying that it was a slight disappointment that I did not get a NSW Dept of Education scholarship in the first round of offers, but early in 1968.

Meanwhile from end of H.S.C. in November my father had secured a job interview for me (thanks Dad, not!) and in early December 1967 instead of holidaying like my friends, I began as a filing clerk in the human resources section of the A.B.C. in Elizabeth St. If I was happy about one part of this, I was now 18 and could meet up with bf and his mates after work and we could go to the new Wentworth Hotel, the Menzies or even the one where the Hilton is now and have a drink. I did not drink much at all but it was nice to go to those places.

1968 – 1969.

Yes, you are off the Balmain Teachers’ College: sign here to ensure your ‘bond’ of employment for 3 years after graduation and we will send you anywhere in N.S.W. as you will be a permanent teacher. And stayed that way until 2003.

I signed, our neighbour was the guarantor as was the case back then, they paid me $22 a fortnight to become a highly trained and eminently qualified teacher. It was a rigorous course: 5 days a week, every single day taken up with learning how to teach and what to teach kids aged from 5-12. Whilst I specialised in Infants teaching I qualified as a K-6 teacher. I LOVED it all. We had Wednesdays for optional activities and another arvo for sport – we had to learn what we would teach. All set in the now very posh (but not then) suburb of Balmain where the smells of making soaps at the local Colgate factory as well as the plumes from the coal-fired electricity plants at White Bay.

My social life continued with many activities based around our mutual friends’ birthdays. 21st parties were huge. As were Sydney Uni and NSW Uni Balls. I think I went to at least 4 in a year. New dress, please Mum! And I was lucky. Mum kept me looking good by being my accesory and ally in clothes shopping and hair dressing appointments.

School was even more part of my life. We did 2 pracs each year, a prac of our choice at the beginning of the second year after Christmas holidays and we also attended the North Sydney Dem School to watch selected experienced teachers and learn from them. I did well at Prac. I loved it. I had wanted to do this for a very long time and now I was.

I got to do pracs at my old primary school: Balgowlah Hts – Yr 3 and Yr 2, Mona Vale P.S. – Kinder, Neutral Bay Yr 1 and North Sydney Dem Year 2 (I was given this prac as my teaching and preparation was excellent and the Dem school was a prized place.

Graduation was formal. My parents and boyfriend attended. He had finished his Bachelor of Ag Science and was looking for work in North-western NSW. He landed a job at Tamworth. In the school holidays at the end of 1969 into 1970, my preferred teaching place came for me. I accepted: a North-western NSW country town called Barraba: about 45 minutes from Tamworth. To find out what happened next: go here. I have already written about it!

That is why 1960s was/is my favourite decade!

What is yours?

Denyse.

I join in these two other Monday Link Ups from Australian Bloggers.

Alicia is at One Mother Hen here for Open Slather and Kell is here at All Mum Said for Mummy Mondays. Go over and link up there too!

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s optional prompt is: 9/51. Taking Stock. 4/3/19.
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