Halloween Monday Night Reflection

Last week was about health, and another week of just waiting without any news has just passed. Physically I do not feel any better, however, the Mouse has been busy. One of the upsides of using Grammarly as my spell checker is the weekly review and count of how many words it has checked. Last week it checked nearly seventeen thousand words, which means that in terms of literary output I have been busy.

I, not the Mouse, am also working on a new business venture and it has moved forward although launch seems ever further away the more work I do. It’s imperative that something launches before Christmas because that is a busy time and a good time to test the waters. Last week, I also introduced how the Mouse, as a therapeutic device, was helping me process the past. In terms of creativity, at the moment, the Mouse and therefore, my past is driving my writing. The Mouse has it easy, as I am already a half competent writer learning a new skill, while as an artist am in completely uncharted territory where everything is new, everything is learning and nothing at all is even remotely visible from my comfort zone. The fact that I am also creating with a commercial view is a discipline, and launching a business, a completely new business in a field I am completely new to being part of, with no reputation, no qualifications, training or background, is an incredible undertaking.

What is probably more remarkable is that my creative anything at all is entirely due to the fact I created the Mouse. Through the discipline of writing, and by facing the demons of the past, through the Mouse, was able to reach a place where failure was okay. This new venture does not have to be a success, its failure or success does not define who I am. In fact, the very fact that I am undertaking this venture at all speaks volumes about how I have changed as a person. The Mouse too, as was mentioned, has changed, growing in confidence and finding a voice that was more strident than ever. From writing last week’s reflection came the realisation that the Mouse cannot speak for me, and that the Mouse has boundaries, crossing them is to dalliance with disaster. After all the Mouse is a persona, and as a persona, it was created to keep me safe.

Contemplating the relationship between the whole me, and the Mouse who is a personification of part of me led to some interesting thoughts on how I cope with life, and I did ponder on the “normality” or otherwise of using a persona to handle trauma, especially as Mouse is not a disassociative persona. I felt that brilliant as the Mouse is, the Mouse, like me needs to heal, and that by healing I may be actually letting the Mouse die. However, as long as I need anonymity to deal with my past, I know the Mouse will have a place, and an outlet for his creativity.

In between feeling very ill and doing the stuff of life, my reflective focus has been on healing and the future. I have been wondering what does healed look like. The idea is that I  have a goal, or a target, or even just milestones on the journey that indicate I am travelling in the right direction. What I realised is that my childhood, my adult relationships, meant that actually, I have no idea what healed looks like in positive terms. I can produce a definition based on what healed is not, but a positive, constructive and attractive what healed looks like leaves me blank. I am unprepared in my quest, unequipped by life experience to build up what a person who has gotten past their trauma looks like. I know my experience will be a journey round the grief cycle, I know I have buttons that can be easily pushed by situations and that I have hard-wired protective behaviours that are actually no longer appropriate or protective that I need to unlearn.

I have no idea what the life I am looking for post trauma looks like. From child to adult, the majority of my relationship experience is abusive in one way or another, and mostly emotionally. So I know intimately what love and relationships should not look like. DVUK have a their “Love doesn’t hurt” campaign, which I think is inspired both in its simplicity and its accuracy. It is another thing that defines what I am looking to build by what it is not, a negative definition. There is the Biblical 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, the staple of many a wedding. When you look in detail, love is patient, love is kind – the rest are again negative definitions love does not envy, love does not boast, it is no proud, it is not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no account of wrongs.

I do not like defining anything by what it is not. So my challenge is to build a picture, for myself, of what it is I am looking to achieve; set the Mouse and myself some goals. One definite goal is to get the Mouse or me to take notes through the week or make a list of reflection prompts on my desk notepad. Yes, I have a spiral notepad I jot notes on at my desk so I can go back and see them, everything from phone numbers, addresses, writing prompts to inspirational quotes and things to do that fall outside a defined to-do list or task list. Instantly out my head into storage.

success-is-liking-yourself

Indeed, I am learning to use more tools in my life, to take more time to learn how to do that which previously I had been scared to try. I was fearful, if I tried to be more organised or a new system, any failure real or invented would be used against me. Mostly, I learned for the intellectual experience of learning things, any sort of change I implemented so slowly so that it could pass undetected or with something big I could use to shield my real intentions. What I learned was that in reality when someone sets out to sabotage and undermine you, even the simplest positive change becomes a massive almost impossible undertaking. I wonder where I found what I needed to keep on trying things and to keep on trying to learn and use what I learned.

Perhaps, the fact that I am breaking new ground so much is the reason things are taking so long. I am not sure, I know that the Mouse writes with great emotion, often streaming with tears as we relive the emotion of the experience being used to create the words. It is draining and very tiring. But, at the same time, the reward of looking back at work that was genuinely produced, and to see it connect with someone and evoke emotion is impossible to quantify or explain.

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Daily Prompt: Bridge

Daily Prompt: Bridge

I looked at you; the magic path I crossed to escape,
For some, you are a tourist attraction, architectural wonder,
Engineering accomplishment and international landmark,

Spanning the generations like you cross the Tyne,
Everyday the people stream in and out, ants or bees,
From my distance looking happy going home,

Best of all they were not me, trapped and bound,
I crossed you to get away, not freedom but free,
Any place that didn’t hate me for being me.

Tyne Bridge seen from Quayside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. © RIBA Lib

The Person Who Didn’t Love You Back

642 Things to Write : The Person you loved who didn’t love you back.i-am-what-i-have-over-come

I haven’t opened this book for a while; I bought it because I was finding the blank page impossible to conquer. However, it did not take long, once I committed to the discipline of writing practice, as opposed to writing publication, every day for me to be able to find something to fill that intimidating blank void. Today, I was thinking of taking a different direction, my creativity in writing has been drawing from the same well a lot lately and I thought randomly opening 642 Things, would instantly give me a new stimulus and a new challenge.

Instead, I am back at the same well. I could, of course, just open a different random page and carry on from there. I think that is a betrayal of the exercise. 642 Things often pushes me way past my current capabilities and the result unpublished. The point, of course, is the exercise, the practice, and for me only perfect practice makes perfect. I also believe that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is I made a poor choice or made a bad decision. I don’t like coincidence and I am not sure how random, random really is; without a philosophical diversion into deity, karma and the universe, it is difficult not to think, was I supposed to see this today.

It is stunning to contemplate, that everything I have done, every decision I have made, put me here, right now, staring at this very question. I could make this about someone other than my ex-wife, who knows, that blend of control and manipulation may be what she thinks love is. I know that I thought that I was loved, because what happened in my marriage was what had happened in my childhood. And your parents love you, they just make mistakes. You don’t speak ill of the dead or your parents, so there was nothing to say. If your parents don’t love you then who would; if they could not love you then something about you made you impossible to love.

I could have ducked and picked a girlfriend, but I never really loved them so that would be outside the spirit of the exercise, a fiction. I never let myself love people, you love you get hurt, I learned that at a young age, fondness is much safer, caring, that is okay, whatever you do set a limit. Loving someone makes you vulnerable, loving someone carries the risk of hurt, so you just don’t do it. I decided to take a risk; I definitely loved, love the noun and love the verb. I didn’t know any better, abuse wasn’t a word I knew existed. Abuse was hitting people, violence, it was sexual stuff, done to children. Of course, at that point I was I didn’t know that I had been physically abused as a toddler, I still don’t remember it, that has been blacked out forever; there is some sort of irony in the person who was so emotionally abusive changing their career to protect you from physical harm.

I could have picked someone who loved me, but I never managed to love her back. I got a lesson in what love was but I missed a bit. I kept what I knew from childhood; love is being rewarded, love is being monitored, love is restriction and control, love is the word no, love is not. I learned what you do when you love, over the years I learned what I was obliged to do because I loved. Just as I learned my obligations first as a husband and then as a father. I learned that these obligations were a privilege, to see them as a burden was to abuse the gift. Love was a verb, I knew what to give, I knew what to receive.

I thought she was pretty, I fell for her, she cared, took time for me, she bothered to hold me, she wasn’t ashamed of me. She let me love her; I wasn’t rejected, we planned the future together, we went places, did things that loving couples did. I had no idea, restrictions on money, movement, the questions, that is what love did. Jealousy  was normal. I was the abnormal one for not understanding it. I always thought a guy hitting on her was a compliment, I had good judgement because she was the best he could find. The thought she would audition my replacement never occurred to me. Sure the attention of other women was nice, but I had my love. It was never on my mind, looking back maybe it should have been. Near the end I had the chance, pretty and younger, I think sometimes, perhaps if I had given real grounds, things would have been different, but even in the midst of hell, I just did not consider the arms of another. It would have been a comfort in the darkness, but I never believed her anyway. I wasn’t funny or attractive. How could I be, how could I be of real interest, I guessed it was really some sort of bet to see if I would bite to get a laugh my expense. Laugh behind my back, nothing new by then, I knew I cut a pathetic figure with my belief I could achieve something, that I could be attractive was a joke. My mirrors worked and the evidence of my failure was too easy to see. But I was loved in spite of the fact I needed to lose a few pounds, despite the fact I wasn’t what I used to be in a bedroom, and we could overlook my crushing life failure to live up to anything much with my business that didn’t deliver, my poor parenting, and how I failed to make friends and drove people away. The unlovable cry alone in secret.

That was not love, I know that now. At first, I read it, I read it again and again. I refused to believe it was true. It is not a simple thing to know you were not loved, the longer it was for, the greater the denial, the greater the impulse to keep the mirage true. Just as knowing she came from his arms to mine, his lips to mine, his caress to mine changed forever every memory from that day, it changed memories up to that day. Leaving it years to tell me meant those years became lies, every time I looked at my loving devoted wife, I was looking at a lying cheating wife. Every moment instantly changed colour, and as the story unravels more hypocrisy and lies. I should have known, if you love someone you don’t fall into the arms of another. However lonely I had got, however black and dark my place became, however kind the hand looked, I never went anywhere but home, I never held, I never thought of kiss, I never even wondered at the warm embrace. Perhaps I should.

Love is many things, but it is not a punch to the face, it is not controlling who you see, where you go, your access to money, it is not insisting on knowing all your passwords and reading your email and social media. It is not a two-hour interrogation over what you said to someone who mentioned they saw you when all you said was “hello”. Love is not needing to memorise every telephone conversation so you can repeat them back, love is not going to the hospital alone and being scared of the consequences because they want to admit you to save your leg because you left it so long to go. Love is not being told you made yourself unlovable, or that you need to lose more than a few pounds when you are as light as you have ever been. Love is not cowering on the sofa afraid to fall asleep in case the next thing is a sucker punch to your testicles. Love is not walking with a limp or having bruises and telling lies about how you got them. Love is not despite.

Love is because, love doesn’t hurt!

I said the Word. (Thinking Aloud on Domestic Abuse)

It has taken me, the man that is the Mouse over 3 years to say the words “I was in an challengesabusive relationship” to anyone. Until then, like a Mouse I scurried off the subject quickly, avoided the word, ducked it. This verbal admission came very recently and only after by marshalling my thoughts, exploring my feelings and creating a blog where no one knew the Mouse, did I manage to do this. When I did say it, I felt terrible, guilty and ashamed, diminished because I had let it, the abuse, happen.

I think the other person was so stunned that the sentence passed without comment or incident. I am not sure I will say it in the real world anytime soon. The Mouse had gained confidence, the Mouse was squeeking a little louder and more clearly. That confidence spilled over, I wish it hadn’t. While the Mouse can write, tweet, engage and create because of the past; the truth is in the real world, it doesn’t work like that. While the Mouse has anonymity from my abuser, I do not. I am still scared, and now,  I have something worth destroying, I am more frightened than before. When I had nothing left, bankrupt and with shelter due to kindness, I still didn’t have any courage, perhaps I should.

I have let the Mouse explore the world of domestic violence and abuse; and I will stay hiding behind my Mouse. It feels very hostile; I am clearly from the wrong team. Feels like my childhood where I went to the wrong school, put a bullseye on my back and fire away. The Mouse wants to fight back and say loud “what about the men!” or “women are abusers too”. I admonish him, no, I cannot face a war, and there is no win. Keep that head down, be quiet, don’t make a fuss; it kept you and me alive this long.

Let someone else fight that fight.

Daily Prompt: Transformation

Daily Prompt: Transformation

butterfly-through-the-darknessMeek and mild, not words that described me as a child,
Frustrated, angry, uncontrolled and wild, I was a problem,
I wasn’t troubled, I was bad, I was mad, I needed to be fixed,
What I did was wrong, who I was, he was much much worse,
Politeness, hard work, perseverance were a thin veneer,

The truth so very clear, I was broken, far worse than I appear.
School was not a happy place, but I learned to despise my face,
I learned how I was broken, lazy, stupid, last in every race,
I tried hard to disappear, I failed at that too.
I had my fists, so I was never bullied by the children too,
One day, I actually passed, of course, that wasn’t good enough,
I had no value, that much I learned was true.

The best years already done, into the world, I was flung,
Awkward and unprepared, I didn’t hit rock bottom, I was already there,
I made friends at least, Jack Daniels was the first, white powders not the last,
Jobs came and went, I should have loved but I just lost,
No matter how hard I pressed, self-destruction only left me depressed,
I was broken see, nothing worth saving, no way to be fixed.

But, there I sat, someone dared to care, someone dared to believe,
What on earth they were thinking, broken, absolutely nothing,
I heard it every day, I knew it to be true, I had no value,
No contribution could I make, except sorrow and heartache,
They said something different, sitting bridging self-imposed exile,
Taking my story, they slowly exposed the failures as lies.

They had been told they were broken too; I was not the only one,
They had heard they were bad, mad, and beyond even God’s repair,
Downcast and bleak, I had nothing left but to believe,
Not empty words, promises, something pie in the sky,
Not some therapy of fancy words, long sentences and diagnosis,
Just the simplicity that looked right through the whisky armour of my life.

That was day one, day zero, long ago in time not memory,
Precious time, something changed in me,
It wasn’t who I was, I was what I believed to be true,
I was never bad, made broken, and didn’t need fixing too,
Enough lies had made me believe what was never true,
Some days, I wonder, am I broken? No, of course, nothing new!

Monday Night Reflection

Normally I write about the Mouse in the third person; this is quite liberating as it allows me and the Mouse to be different people. I am the Mouse, but the Mouse is not all of me. The Mouse has always been the deeper, inner person behind what is an identity and persona that allows me, and therefore, the Mouse, to function. Left to his own devices the Mouse is fond of his Mousehole, and avoiding people. The Mouse, as I have explored that part of who I am, that is that part of me I have given life with the Mouse looks back and is busy with the job of processing the past. The Mouse does not particularly have a future orientation, although, clearly the Mouse considers it. Of course, I have, since deciding to create the Mouse grown to love the Mouse, and more than that, really value and understand the work the Mouse does.

happiness-vs-unhappiness
We need to take care what we build for ourselves.

The Mouse takes trauma and transforms it into creativity. The Mouse is both the author and creative director. Mouse writes and explores as therapy when he writes; the Mouse is a little prone to attention deficit issues, but he and I are working together on tackling our shared problem. By giving the Mouse a voice, I have, found my voice too. The Mouse existed long before the Mouse blogged. Once the Mouse found the bravery, or whatever it was my Mouse needed to finally give expression to his world, I, that is who you would meet in person, also found my voice and my expression.

While the Mouse has been writing, creating and exploring, I have been living life, taking on the changes and challenges of the world away from keyboards, card and creativity. I am not a diary writer, and if I did want to be a diarist, I would have to ask the Mouse to help me. Writing a diary has never appealed, I do keep a gratitude journal which I pen once, twice and the odd three times a month. It says very much the same things, somehow, what I am grateful for is the strategy and structures more than I am the ebb and flow of the day. That said I am going to see Katherine Jenkins and I am super excited; I will be very grateful when I have done that. However, lovely occasions are the icing and cake toppers which make what is great absolutely beautiful. My reluctance to diary does not mean I have nothing to say or want to say nothing. I would like to say something, or maybe I would like the Mouse to say something on my behalf; possibly I mean, I want the Mouse to help me express what I want to say. I do not have as much to say as the Mouse, the Mouse loves to explore the creative process, and the thoughts and emotions that his writing evokes in him. Without putting myself down, my everyday is uneventful, deliberately without drama, I seek calm and peace, and for the most part, my days are very much the same. Now, I know for some, that is a living nightmare, for me, that certainty is security, and security allows me to be happy.

The Mouse is a reflective fellow; the rest of me likes to look forward and plan, together we like to learn, create and share. Monday Night Reflections are intended as a collaboration where anyone who reads gets a peek at the person outside the Mouse, the character and personality of the Mouse, and, as well, it provides a place where a little context can appear.

It could also be that when you are sat waiting for biopsy results to see if you have oesophageal cancer, you just need to say it somewhere, somehow because you are more than a little bit worried, and so are those who love you the most you have ended up saying nothing. That you want to say, I feel powerless, and saying it will be okay is hollow and meaningless until the actual day to find out what is actually the case. And, that until, you actually know the results, you feel it would be wrong to worry people unnecessarily or make a fuss when there are people with real cancer not just the possibility or the maybe.

Writing out a reasons why explanation, something I do anyway, because I am a planner and researcher, who likes to trust his instincts and make decisions quickly (go figure!), makes me think, actually, I want to share more than this current concern, that there is value in the idea of reflecting, in a positive and constructive way on what I and the Mouse have been doing and sharing those thoughts.

Continue reading “Monday Night Reflection”

Poetry Corner (Experimental): A wooden heart.

I gaze and wonder, all around trees, breathing sort of in reverse for you and me,
I don’t have a special one, I wonder how that feels, not me, the tree, don’t be silly,
Every tree, unique and different, its own soil, wind, water, the stuff it needs,
From a little sapling thing, they just grow, drink and feed.

Leaves are falling around, like my hair, clogging up the drains,
I know they don’t have a heart, no artery, no veins.
They have no brain, no nerves, they do not feel, they never cry,
I guess when they get hurt they never get to ask why.

I planted a memorial tree once, there is a plaque and everything,
It was a long time after their funeral, autumn, should have been spring,
Freezing cold, windy, desolate and bleak, the season knew them well,
A different generation, distance was love can’t you tell?

This tree is different, not destined to be cheap and tacky mdf,
So proper and correct, know one could know when you wept,
Stiff upper lip, be a man, stand tall and strong like that there tree,
Trees have scars, cruelty leaves its mark just as indelibly,

A tree has usefulness, ships, houses even early planes made out of wood,
I know, be like a tree, I know, I know I should.
I am not them; they are not me, I am the only one who can see,
That a tree cannot feel, it cannot dream, it cannot hope, long to be.

What a lucky lucky tree, alive not conscious of gritty reality,
There is more to them than could ever be to me,
I am not jealous, despite all they are and I obviously am not,
Yes my tree, you bring life, you cradled creativity

I am not better, I have no superiority, sonnets and symphonies not written by me,
I cannot gloat because I can walk, talk, or cut you down and sail the sea,
In truth, I cannot build a bench and sit down to rest,
Unlike you, I have failed life’s test.