Family Moving In!

(Image courtesy of Pexels)

Well, that was a blow! It’s Sunday afternoon. I’ve just had a very long phone call with my son, Tom. He was married about 16 years ago and had two children, but that didn’t work out, and he split up with Karen after ten miserable years together. Since then, he’s been in a relationship with a woman called Kim, but that’s not working out either (after six years). Tom and Kim had bought a big house between them as Tom has got my two youngest grandchildren, aged nine and seven. I call them my ‘little ones’ because my daughter and son-in-law have ‘my girls’ who are older. Kim has three much older girls still living at home. As a Mum, I sensed something was wrong quite some time ago. I hadn’t said anything, but Tom just called to say they’re definitely splitting up. The house will have to be sold.

Tom had a question to ask me. In fact, it was a huge ask. He said the big house would have to be sold so that he and Kim could afford to each find somewhere smaller for themselves. Until then, he can’t stay in the house with Kim as they’re not getting on well at all.

“Can the children and I come and stay with you for a few months, please?” I wasn’t expecting that! I’ve been living alone very happily for many years, and as much as I’d love to see more of them, I need and enjoy my space and privacy. I like that it gives me plenty of time to do some studying and writing. What on Earth do I say? We talked at length; “Can I think about this for a couple of days, please, Tom”? Tom was willing to do that, naturally. I love them all very dearly, but suddenly going from living alone to having the house occupied by family will be a bit of a shock, to say the least.

There’ll be a whole heap of things that will have to happen first if I agree. They’ll have to sleep in my only spare room, a junk storage room. It’ll need clearing out, decorating, carpeting and new beds and furnishings to make it habitable. It hasn’t been touched for decades. The garage will have to be cleared of ‘stuff’ so that Tom has some space to store furniture etc. It’s going to be chaos. I hate having decorators in because of all the mess too.

I’ve now got a couple of days to think about all this. I really don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s come like a bolt out of the blue. Tom is an adult, so I didn’t ever expect to be playing the role of Mum again. I’m not sure I can go ahead with it, but what else do I do?

The Missing Mum Years

My childhood home

This is my dear late Mum’s house as it stands now. It was my childhood home until I married at twenty years of age and moved out. I’ve been reminiscing about this house over the last couple of days. One of my sisters had been back to visit there recently. Although she advised me against it, I asked her to share her photo with me. Big mistake! Huge mistake, in fact. It’s no longer how I remember it. Gone is the beautiful orange door (not that it’s visible in this picture) – it’s been replaced by a dull grey. The window frames have all been painted stark white over the original orange. Orange was Mum’s favourite colour. The steps outside are also not visible in this photo. The neat box hedge has completely overgrown, as has the glorious pink azalea shrub. I feel so sad. I shouldn’t have asked to see this photo. I should have known it would be different now, six years after losing my Mum. I still miss her so much. I always will.

The steps at the front of the house were a barrier for me for the last four years before Mum passed away. Being a wheelchair user now, there was no way I could climb them to get into the house. To make matters worse, Mum was severely agoraphobic, which meant she couldn’t leave there. It meant that we didn’t see each other for all that time. It broke my heart (and hers). We spoke on the phone a lot, especially towards the end. I would call two or three times a day to check she was okay. She mainly was as fit as a fiddle … until she had her stroke. Before that happened, she would vigorously mow the grass, raking it up, digging and planting flowers and tomatoes.

Those last four years were so painful. I didn’t feel sorry myself; I never did, but I felt angry and frustrated about my disability stopping me from seeing her. It was hard to come to terms with, and we missed each other terribly. The only time I got to see her in those last years was when, towards the end, she was admitted to hospital after her stroke. Hospitals are nearly always accessible. She was never the same after that happened. I wrote a post about this at the time. You can read about it at https://elliethompson.uk/2016/11/26/grief-without-death/.

I’m glad I can’t see the inside of the house; it must be so different now, and it would only upset me further. The kitchen was always my favourite room. The kitchen units were orange, as was her one-person teapot, which sat permanently on the side waiting to be filled. She loved her cups of tea and her toast and marmalade, which she’d have for breakfast every morning. After we lost Mum, there were all the usual formalities to arrange; the funeral, the interment, the house to sort out etc. My sisters came from various parts of the country to deal with all this, but I had no choice, being unable to go up those damn steps. My sisters were very kindly involving me as much as possible by taking pictures of everything, so I could decide what I’d like to have. I chose Mum’s little orange teapot. It reminded me so much of her.

Mum’s orange teapot sitting comfortably on my kitchen windowsill

I have a tradition now. Every year, on Mum’s birthday and on Mother’s Day, I take myself off to a quaint tea shop in my city. I order myself a pot of tea (I usually drink coffee) and some toast and marmalade. Sometimes, I order a slice of cake – Mum always enjoyed her cake. Having recently bought the loveliest card I could find in John Lewis, I sit for a couple of hours and write to her. I write it as a conversation between us, just as if she were there with me, drinking tea and eating toast or cake. It makes me feel closer to her at those times. I wish she were still here to join me. But, however much I write, it’ll never make up for those four years when I couldn’t see her. I missed so much of her later life. I think I’ll always miss her – the pain doesn’t lessen. Perhaps, it will in time.

A New Journey

(Image credit to Pixabay)

As you move towards this new chapter of life, I hope you learn how to let go of the idea that it’s too late.”

Unknown

When I first started my blog, eight years ago, it was certainly a very dark space to be in and my posts attracted a following of very hurt and equally damaged people, also in their own dark worlds. After very many years, I decided that I didn’t want to live like this anymore, so, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I read endless books (my favourite being, ‘The Mother Tree’ by Suzanne Simard), trawled through various websites and signed up for lots of courses. In the early days, they were topics like improving self-confidence, building good self-esteem, assertiveness training etc. (That last one was a toughie and one I never quite got my head around!). Oh, well, you can’t win them all!!

Then, I started signing up for courses on subjects that interested me. At the time, we were in lockdown so many of these courses had to be on Zoom. That was a challenge in itself but one, I quickly overcame. I did a lot of nature courses; I learned about British trees, wildflowers, fungi [fascinating], the islands around Britain, rivers and waterways; and then, there were things like aromatherapy for beginners, learning about crystals and fossils (that was spurred on by my nine-year-old granddaughter’s interest and determination to be a paleontologist when she grows up!) Quite impressive for a nine-year-old, I think. Now, I’m taking part in a series of writing courses, not so much spelling and grammar, but more creativity and thought expression. I’m in my element!

This was a simple poem I wrote a short time ago while I was digging deep inside of myself to find the ‘real’ me.

Turning life around was tough; so difficult to do
Secrets and nightmares, tar-black and sadly true
I’ve been through hell and trauma, and dealt with so much pain
Now, I’m learning to trust myself all over again

The thieves have all left and the abusers have gone
I’m free to dream and dance, and gently walk on
A brand-new life is waiting patiently for me
As I discover better and smarter ways to be

Such beauty to see in this new world of mine
Blue seas, emerald forests, beasts of every design
A pale waxing moon and the glory of the sun
My heart, soul and mind, all united as one

Now, I’ve so much to love and so much affection
Searched deep inside, and found a new direction
I’m joyfully grateful; perhaps, even wise
I’m honest and open, no need for disguise

Living my life now without shame or disgrace
Treading my new path; no blame at this place
Letting go of the guilt; being rid of the dismay
Searching out truths; at last, finding my way

If you knew me back then, eight long years ago
You’d know how hard I’ve fought, albeit progress was slow
See how much I’ve grown by the sweat of my brow
Judge me not as I was, but rather where I am now.

BOWING OUT?

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It’s been a while since I posted (again). I’m finding it more and more challenging to keep up with my blog, and to read my fellow WordPress friend’s blogs too. I’ve been writing here for almost five years now and have published no less than 344 posts. I checked this fact and was quite amazed that I’d been able to write so much.

When I first started writing it was all about my mental health and my history of abuse. I don’t need to go there anymore (thank goodness), and I thankfully, don’t live in that world now either.

I’ve moved on a long, long way since then. I’m busy – a never stop kind of busy which is fine by me. I’m finally enjoying my life and doing so many things that I enjoy and that are enriching my life; expanding my thoughts and opinions; bringing peace to my soul and joy to my heart. I am fortunate enough to be able to listen to music that I like and read books that interest me. I’m finally happy.

I’m still volunteering at the university, and I’m continuing my studies. I’m going to the gym regularly, and I see significant progress in my mobility. I’m able to walk a few steps unaided now, only indoors as it’s not safe for me to walk outdoors without support because my bones are so fragile that if I fell on the concrete, I’d possibly permanently damage myself. The last thing I need is to have to go back with my progress, so I’m ultra-ultra careful.

This is all leading up to the fact that I may have to bow out of the world of WordPress. I’ve tried (and managed for a short while) to write more regularly, but seem to always fail abysmally. I often burn the midnight oil, and I am in fact burning the candle at both ends. As it is, I’m writing this at three o’clock in the morning! Not good as I’ll regret not going to bed when I see the breaking of the sun.

I still so enjoy my writing, but somehow, it doesn’t seem right to pour my thoughts out on paper (or rather, on my laptop) and expect others to be interested when I cannot reciprocate this. And so, I’m seriously thinking of bowing out. Any constructive comments, views, and advice very welcome. Thank you, friends, Ellie x

HAVING TO TAKE A BREAK

pexels-photo-taking a break for blog

Having written my last post, I said that I would shortly write my next post about my two wonderful trips to a seaside town a little distance away. I was very much looking forward to sharing my experiences with you. However, current difficult circumstances have meant I just haven’t had the time or the concentration to write. Nor, I am sorry to say, have I had the time to read all my fellow blogger’s many posts either. I know I have missed so many and for that, I apologize.

This means that I have to take a break for a little while but plan to be back again before long, and then I’ll start rereading your blogs too.

Should I say … please, bear with me … or … watch this space!?

I’ll be back. Hopefully sooner than later …

Love Ellie Xx ❤

TEA AND CAKE

Image result for tea and cake

Today is Mum’s birthday … or, perhaps, I should say, ‘it was Mum’s birthday’. As most of you know, I lost my dear Mum a year ago. It’s been hard; very hard at times. I’ve been trying to heal from my pain, but grief is no respecter of time. Some people get over it in a couple of years, some less, but many more never.

I wasn’t sure what to do today. I wanted to do something special in honour of Mum’s birthday. I finally decided to go to a favourite café of mine to have tea and cake because that’s what she would have been doing at teatime today. It’s a quaint place with lace tablecloths under glass tops, sepia photographs on the walls, brass kettles on old-fashioned cake stands and waitress service as opposed to the usual queue up and help yourself.

I asked for a pot of tea, as opposed to a mug or cup as Mum always, always drank her favourite ‘tipple’ poured from the pot. I’m a great coffee drinker whenever I get the opportunity. It wakes me and my tastebuds up and makes me feel almost human, especially in the mornings. I never usually drink tea –  But, Mum always drank it, but never coffee. Actually, tea’s not bad – quite refreshing really. I chose a piece of carrot cake, one of my favourites, and Mum’s too, and she would have liked this one as it was homemade. She much preferred ‘the real thing’ as opposed to shop-bought ones.

I’d bought a birthday card, strange though it may seem. Perhaps, to buy a card for someone who is no longer here, in body at least, could be seen as rather odd. I feel Mum is here with me in spirit though and especially today. I sat in the café for an hour, writing my words as if I were talking to her. I can’t send it, of course, but I shall keep it with the rest of the items I have that I was able to keep after she passed away. I thought she would approve of me sitting there, having tea and cake and I told her I loved her and missed her so much. I said that I wish she were here with me. And I did.

As I write this in the evening, I am missing that phone call to say, ‘Happy Birthday, Mum’. I realise that she’s not coming back, and they’ll be no more birthdays or Christmases. In fact, they’ll be no more days at all with my Mum, at least not in this life as I know it, but maybe in the next. I hope so.

Happy Birthday, Mum x

MY FORGET-ME-NOT SHED

Image result for a blue shed

I’m aware that I’ve been away since the middle of July (or thereabouts), so that’s nearly four months which must be the longest I’ve ever been away from my blog for. A lot has happened in my life during that time.

Ten-and-a-half months have passed since I lost my beautiful Mum. That time hasn’t been like I would have expected it to be. I haven’t been able to grieve. Strangely, and somewhat disconcertingly, I haven’t been able to cry either. I still cannot look at my Mum in any of the photos that I have. This isn’t how I expected grief to be. However, I am aware that everybody grieves in their own way and in their own time. Maybe, the time isn’t right for me yet.

As for other goings-on in my life, they have been more positive. Some of you may remember that my care regime was about change drastically with new carers coming into place and old ones going. I’m pleased to say that it has all worked out far better than I could have imagined.

I was also at the beginning of having a lot of work done on my house too. This has been a prolonged process, but I am getting there gradually. My bedroom is finished and is now a haven of peace and calm in which to sleep. The new shed has been built in the garden, that is, after being ripped-off by builders who I, eventually, sent packing, and consequently, employed new ones who have done a great job.)  The shed is painted a delightful shade of forget-me-not blue (at least, I think it’s delightful – I can’t speak for the neighbours).

The next and most significant project is adapting and renewing my twenty-five-year-old kitchen. This, I’m most excited about. It’s going to have lowered worktops, a new lower hob and a sink, all of which will be accessible to me in my manual wheelchair. The work is due to start in about two weeks. I’m currently at the stage where I and my carers are frantically sorting through cupboards and drawers with the intention of clearing out everything we haven’t used in the last two years, (that includes packaged food in the units that are well past their sell-by date!) I can’t wait for the new kitchen to be installed, although I’m not eager to face all the mess and disruption. However, as they say, “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”)

Well, I think that’s just about a relatively accurate round-up of what’s going on in my life at the moment. I promise I’ll try to catch up on some of your blogs as soon as I can, and I really will try not to leave it another four months until I pop into WordPress again. Thanks for sticking with me through my absence.

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

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What’s in a name? My own name is important to me but perhaps not in the sense that most people would feel that their name means much to them.  I have changed my name quite a few times during my life. I feel I have needed to do this precisely because I’ve never had a solid sense of identity to represent the person I show to the world and the individual that I feel I am at a given phase in my life. Sometimes, I have changed my name to metaphorically, run away from myself, usually for some emotional reason.

I don’t give my birth or last name here because I want to retain the anonymity of my blog. I don’t share my blog or my blog details with any of my family or friends – only my readers and followers.

When I was a teenager my life changed very radically in that the sexual abuse I had suffered since toddlerhood finally ended. As the months went by and after the initial sense of trepidation wore off, I began to feel safer in my own body, and I decided I didn’t want to be called by my birth name anymore (I didn’t want to connect with that abused child inside).

I then begged my parents to let me change my name and eventually, they agreed that I could use my middle name and so at the age of seventeen, I went by that name. However, I can’t say I was terribly happy with that either, but it was as far as my mother and father were prepared to go, so I settled with that, at least, for the time being.

After I had married, I was free to go by whatever name I wanted. I chose carefully, not rashly nor hurriedly. I changed to suit who I felt I was at that point in my life. It goes back to that fundamental core lack of identity. During my young adult years and in the short time before I became a mother myself, I was Rachel and Jacqueline. But, I think I was still running away from myself as I was never really 100% happy with either of them. Of course, when I had my children, I kept my name, Jacqueline (although often abbreviated and then the spelling altered from time to time), more for their benefit than for mine and did so until they grew up and were no longer living at home. My life altered again then as I got used to living alone without a partner (I wad divorced by then) and without my children with me.

And so, as the subsequent years followed, I changed as we all do throughout the different stages of our lives. Then, finally, in 2014, I began writing this blog, and through the course of writing, I’ve discovered who I am inside. I’m Ellie. I should have always been Ellie – I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin. I love my ‘WordPress blog world’. I still don’t share it with people in my outside life. This is my reality; where I can honestly express myself freely. This is where it’s safe to share my secrets. I can write about what’s in my heart and what’s in my mind, and that’s exactly what I do.

At times like this, when I feel truly free, freed up in the course of my writing – in fact, then I have wings. I have wings and can fly. Perhaps, my next name (if I were going to have one), should be Tinkerbell! x  😉

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(Photo credits – imarcade.com and cartoonbucket.com)

 

MOVING FORWARD – THE PASSAGE OF TIME AND BIRTHDAY CAKE

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Why an image of a clock to begin this post with? This is because it is actually a good depiction of my feelings and where I’ve been at for some time. Life has felt rather surreal during this last year. The clock face also shows the passage of time I have been through over the last few months.

At last, I’m beginning to feel like I’m getting back to normal after my Mum became ill, had a stroke, and I finally lost her only five months ago (almost to the day). There was the funeral to get through (and all that encompassed) and now, we are dealing with probate, Mum’s will and the sale of our family home after spending my first twenty years of life there.

However, as far as my psychiatric health in concerned, I’m feeling brighter which is good (and about time too). I am now on different and new medication which, in the last week has begun to help improve my state of mind, and I’m sleeping so much better which makes a great difference to how I feel during the day. The severe anxiety attacks have also lessened which is a huge relief.

The many cogs in this clock also represent changes in a more positive way … slowly … as time has ticked by and the wheels have been turning, my relationship with my son has improved, and we have become closer which means I have more contact with my two beautiful grandchildren, Josh and Lily who are a delight to me. I have definitely become closer to my sisters, particularly the one who lives the furthest away from me. We may be separated by many miles but are hearts are inextricably linked and always will be.

The recent passage of time, like each cog, has been whirring, clicking and ticking by slowly but steadily. A lot else has changed in that time too. My eldest granddaughter has now turned eleven and will be going up to senior school in September, and my youngest granddaughter will be starting primary school at the age of four-and-a-half (she seems too young). Where has the time gone? Am I really old enough to have a granddaughter in senior school? Goodness! I must be older than I think! I’m definitely older in years than I feel and I am fortunate enough to be told by several people that I don’t look my age. However, I am reluctantly coming up to ‘a biggy’; a big ‘0’ birthday in three month’s time (which I’m trying to ignore) … ugh! How am I going to get all my candles on one cake?!

Image result for Birthday Cake with Many Candles

In addition, I would like to say thank you to my dearest friends here at WordPress who have stuck by me through thick and thin over the last year or so – it can’t have been easy at times. Their blogs have kept my head above water some of that time by distracting me with their diversity, interest, humour and compassion. So, shout out to Bun at https://bunkaryudo.wordpress.com/ and Mick at https://mickcanning.co/ and Carol anne of https://therapybits.com/. Also, thank you to any of you who may have called in or dropped by my blog and hung around with support and kind words too. Love to you all, Ellie xxx

MIXED EMOTIONS (AND POTTING UP GERANIUMS)

elderly woman gardening

(Photo credit: http://www.healthtap.com)

Ok – so this isn’t a picture of my Mum and those plants aren’t actually geraniums, but to all intents and purposes, both of those things could have been facts as that’s exactly what my Mum would have been doing at this time of year if she were still here. She loved geraniums of all colours and would have been repotting them all into bigger pots as they would have grown after their dormant period in the dark and damp basement of the house. They would have all been neatly arranged on the patio outside the kitchen, making a huge splash of colour in the garden.

In fact, this was actually what she was doing along with mowing the grass, cutting the hedge and tying up raspberry canes just two weeks before she had her stroke last year. She remained in hospital from then until the day she passed away just before the New Year this year.

I miss my Mum. I hurt. I’m still hurting. I don’t when or if the hurting ever stops. I have photos of her in my living room and by my bed and yet, believe it or not, I can’t look at them. I cannot look at my Mum. I just am not able to ‘make eye-contact’ with her. Perhaps, it’s too early. Perhaps it’s the pain of not having her here anymore. Maybe, it’s the shame. Perhaps, the guilt that I wrote about in a previous post is telling me that she would be ashamed of me.

I can vaguely scan past the photos. I know the one on my desk in front of me so well. It was a photo I had which was taken only weeks before Mum had her stroke. It’s a picture of her in the garden which was always a sanctuary for her, with the big honeysuckle rambling up a large trellis covering part of the brickwork of the house behind her and next to that are the peach-coloured, climbing roses clambering up the wooden fence. The patio in front of her, adorned with pots, large and small of her favourite geraniums, orange, white and red, all in full bloom.

But, every time my eyes catch the slightest glimpse of her face or her eyes or smile in the photos, my heart is wrenched from my chest, and my mind is screaming, “Noooooo ….”  I cannot cry – I really can’t. My eyes are prickling from the sheer pressure of my tears building up behind my eyelids and fighting to get out. Maybe, I can’t can’t cry because I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t ever be able to stop. I want to go and visit her grave and lay fresh flowers there, but it’s 50 miles away with no public transport with wheelchair access so impossible. Sometimes, I still feel so close to her and almost forget for a second that she has gone. At other times, she seems so very far away.

All the legalities regarding the will, probate and selling the house are continuing to go on in the background. It’s so hard to think of my childhood home being taken over by someone else. Who knows what will happen to it … maybe, it will house another family for many more years although there is also the possibility that it will be completely gutted and turned into several flats and that’s much harder to stomach. Moving on, emotionally, isn’t easy but I have to remember too, that it was only five months ago that Mum was with us and living in that house.

Mum was a great one for ‘keeping things’, usually followed by, “It’ll come in useful for something”, a trait that I’ve inherited. Amongst all the ‘useful somethings’, we’ve unearthed photo albums, not just of our childhoods but also of Mum when she was growing up and even some of my great-grandmother in the 1800’s … real treasure … a pictorial history of my family on my Mum’s side … fascinating. It’s going to take me forever to sort through all of those photos and distribute them to our remaining family. They’ll certainly provide me with lots of happy and no doubt, funny memories too which will probably eventually get passed down to my grandchildren and who knows, perhaps their grandchildren one day? Actual history in the making. Mum would be pleased.