Ashes To Ashes (A Letter To My Mum)

A LETTER TO MY DEAR, LATE MUM

Dearest Mum,

I am writing this letter six years after you left this world. I hope you are in a better place now. I have written to you several times since your death as I buy a card for each birthday and Mother’s Day. I go to an old-fashioned teashop in town and order a pot of tea with toast, and marmalade, just like you had for breakfast every morning. I feel your presence as I write loving words to you. I imagine you are sitting on the other side of my table, and I talk to you, in my mind, about all the happy times we had together. I keep the cards in my bedside drawer along with the keepsakes that I chose from your belongings, including your pale blue and white checked shirt that you wore so often. It was worn thin and frayed at the cuffs and collar because you didn’t want to pay for a new one. You were raised to make do and mend like many of your generation.

I’ve written to you before about your moving but beautiful funeral. It was a celebration of your life as much as it was saying goodbye to you.

A couple of weeks later, in the middle of January, it was your interment. It was chilly and overcast, and a few spots of rain had begun to fall. I felt anxious that day, not knowing what to expect, not having attended an interment before. I had travelled the forty miles from home to Golders Green Cemetery and met Jill, a year younger than me, who was already there. She had flown over from Australia. We called in at the Reception Office to let them know we were there and waited for my other sisters, Lindsay, Anna, and your sister, Ellen, to arrive.

Twenty minutes later, they’d all arrived, with Anna and Lindsay carefully carrying a sturdy but pretty box with your ashes. It was painted with an image of a beautiful garden in summer – blue sky, lush green grass and pink and yellow flowers. We had chosen it carefully because you were always so passionate about your neat and tidy garden. It was where you loved to be at every opportunity. It seemed only fitting. You wouldn’t have wanted a dark, sombre urn to leave this world in.

Shortly, the graveyard attendant took us to the place where you were to be laid to rest. One by one, shedding quiet tears, we said our goodbyes to you as the box was gently lowered into the ground. As the last of the earth was thrown into the plot, what felt like a miracle or sign happened. Just as we were laying our carefully-chosen pebbles on your grave, as is the custom in Jewish cemeteries, the rain stopped, and the dark clouds in the sky cleared. We gazed upwards to see bright sunshine and a blue sky. Despite it being January, the sun was surprisingly warm. As we looked around, we saw lots of butterflies (a couple of Tortoiseshells, a Red Admiral and several Cabbage Whites). Then, we heard the buzzing of bumble bees and watched as they collected nectar from the daisies surrounding your place of rest.

There was an old, battered wooden bench nearby. We sat side-by-side, gazing around at the signs of nature that had come to pay its respects and to say goodbye to you. As we left the cemetery, the sky clouded over again, the chill wind returned, and a few drops of rain fell onto the windscreen of Lindsay’s car as we left. I’m sure it was a higher power that had sent us those joyful moments amidst the sadness of our loss. I’m sure you would have felt the same had you still been with us.

I miss you very much, Mum, but I’ll never forget the special times we had together and the many, many conversations we had on the phone. You were always there for me through thick and thin, and I was always there for you, too. I am eternally grateful to you. You will be forever in my heart and my mind.

With all my fondest love,

Ellie xxx 💝

Photo by Mariya: https://www.pexels.com/

An Alternate New Year’s Day

I know it’s New Year, and much joy abounds
but I’m full of despair, and it’s really profound
I’m trying to enter into the spirit of things
but I know this week is carrying the sting

Last night, bells rang, and glasses were clinked
I sat here alone, and all I could think
was the fear inside of me is here to stay
It filled me with utter and complete dismay

At Christmas time, I had my family here
and just for a while, it allayed all my fears
The children were great; I was thankful to see
Then, darkness descended, crippling me

I’m trying to hang on to a morsel of hope
when the whole of me is fighting to cope
I feel like my world will collapse forever
as my therapy ends; our relationship severed

I’ve written a letter to say thank you so much
I’m longing for a hug or a gentle touch
I know it’s unlikely; it’s not meant to be
Boundaries are there for Chris* and for me

I’m dreading Wednesday coming this week
I can’t see a future, not even a peek
My body is shaking; my head full of fear
The feeling of grief rises up to appear.


* Chris is my therapist/counsellor (until Wednesday)




NOTE: Forgive me a while if I can’t read your writing
I love you all, but I’m tired of the fighting
.

(Photo by Danil Aksenov on Unsplash)

Dear Unknown Counsellor

Many of you will know that my counselling with Chris is ending on the 4th of January, which I’m terrified about. I would normally be there this afternoon and again next week, but the counselling agency is, understandably, closed for two weeks for the Christmas holidays and New Year. The best way I can cope with the absence of my session today is to write, so I thought I’d write a simple poem for my new, as yet unknown counsellor.


Dear Unknown Counsellor,

I’m devastated and so upset
to be away from Chris
I’ve fallen into the darkness
and straight into the abyss

I’ve no idea when I’ll meet you
Apparently, there’s a queue
Otherwise known as a waiting list
How long? I wish I knew

I do hope that we’ll get on
and in you, I’ll learn to trust
I hope you’ll understand my truths
and not view me with disgust

I write a lot of poetry
and dabble with some ‘art’
It’s just how I express myself
pouring out the whole of my heart

I have a problem with anger
I can’t get it off my chest
I can’t scream into a pillow
although I’ve tried my best

I hope I get to meet you soon
I’m scared out here all alone
I’ve been so lucky to have Chris
and the care that she has shown

*Please take away the ticking
of the therapy room’s clock
It reminds me of the horror room
and the door with the bolted lock

My heart is already broken in two
I have one more week; then, the end
I hope my words are acceptable
and these thoughts that I have penned

Where do I begin with you?
Do I have to start over again?
I think I could talk forever
dispelling this huge weight of pain.

* See previous poem The Passage of Time

(Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash)

The Journey – A Poem

Most of you who know me will have learned that my desperately-needed counselling has to come to an end on the 4th of January 2023 (straight after the New Year). I’m on a two-week break over Christmas at the moment. You know how terrified I am of being without Chris. I’m still on a long waiting list to enable me to see someone else; this is likely to be months rather than weeks. All the things and emotions I’ve shared with her, some of which I’ve never shared with anyone before, where do they go? Do I have to begin all over again with a new person? I’m not sure I coud bear that.

I wanted to write something for Chris to express my gratitude for all the work we’ve done together, but also to share my fear of coping without her to speak to every Wednesday.

THE JOURNEY

I wanted to write something purely for you
to say thank you for all that you’ve done and do
I came, and you helped me to open my heart
You’ve listened to poems and seen bits of art

You’ve travelled my journey alongside with me
through all the depression and anxiety
We tried to deal with my muddled eating
That was the first thing we intended treating

But, then came the flashbacks of child sex abuse
A crime committed with no good excuse
I shared secrets I’d never discussed before
Felt guilty as hell as I stared at the floor

You’ve been by my side and witnessed my pain
Taught me I’m worthy and have lots to gain
You’ve reassured me I wasn’t to blame
and helped me let go of the awful shame

Trying to deal with my anger was tough
I couldn’t scream or shout loud enough
I did once throw hard clay at the chair
Tried to imagine the bastard sat there

I poured out my soul in words, rhyme and tears
and looked at my strengths and all of my fears
I’m so grateful to you for hearing my truth
of long, long ago, back in my youth

You’ve listened to secrets and made me feel brave
and I’m dreading our final goodbye and last wave
How do I live with this loss and my pain?
I just can’t believe I won’t see you again.

With my love, Ellie Xxx 🖤🖤🖤



A Bitter Pill

I cannot think; I cannot write
I can only see the end in sight
I cannot read the blogs I follow
Keep saying that I will tomorrow

My brain’s in autopilot mode
I just can’t carry this hefty load
My counselling has nearly ended
And yet, my heart still hasn’t mended

I’m losing C., my therapist
She’s going to be so sorely missed
Desperation is setting in
Fear like shark’s teeth on my skin

I’ve just got two days left to attend
I know that I am reaching the end
What will there be left of me?
An empty vessel is all I’ll be

The holidays just two weeks ahead
With jolly Santa, dressed in red
It’s such a struggle again this week
Where do I find the comfort I seek?

My heart beats fast and faster still
As I swallow down this bitter pill
I really don’t know how I’ll cope
I’m trying not to give up hope.



(Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash)

FOR GRAHAM J.
A neighbour died two doors away
I only found out yesterday
He was a husband, friend and dad
Mourning him and feeling sad.


RIP Graham J.



Cutting Some Slack

Sitting here blankly, staring at the wall
Asking myself why I’m still here at all
Only two days ago, laughing and joking
Anguish has returned, prodding and poking

I’ve been making such effort all day today
Holding in misery and fearful to say
Just when I thought it’ll all be okay
Depression decided to come out to play

Keep my head in the clouds, feet on the floor
Hoping joy will return to knock on the door
Fighting the sadness, I’m not giving in
Not knowing how or where to begin

Tired though I am; I’ve got to keep running
Fighting off memories; keep the good coming
Therapy fading and slipping away
Making the most of each session, each day

I’m trying so hard again not to lose hope
Nearly evening now, and it’s tough to cope
How do I start to cut me some slack?
Come on, start climbing; no looking back.





Image by Dr StClaire from Pixabay



Staring at Walls

A sense of numbness resides in my brain.
protecting me from the constant, repeating pain
of losing not a loved one but someone I treasure
whose help and support have been words I could measure

Six weeks of sessions left may sound like a lot
but from my side of the fence, it feels like it’s not
as my mind takes over and makes all the rules
I still dissociate and find myself staring at walls

I go elsewhere in my head to escape the trauma
that exists in my core with me trapped in the corner
with him calling the shots; the bastard, the shit
I’m rarely foul-mouthed, but he deserves all of it

I must try my best with the short time I have left
Try not to melt or disappear when feeling bereft
The time will go quickly; then, they’ll be no more C*
I wonder and worry how much they’ll be left of me

If I find someone new; if I get on the long list
I’ll still wish I was with C*; she’ll be so sorely missed
It won’t be the same as when I first started out
Will I be able to trust again? Right now, I’m in doubt


Now I’m counting the minutes, the hours and the days
like a kindergarten game or a new nursery craze
There’s so much of me still needing to mend
Who will I finally be if I ever get to the end?

*C – Counsellor

Image source – Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

My Day (Today) – Update

Yesterday, I wrote a post called, ‘The Day Before‘. So many of you (my friends and blogging buddies) were encouraging, kind, thoughtful, and caring, sending me your love and best wishes. I can’t tell you how much that support and love from you meant to me. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. However, as I had feared …

BAD NEWS

I got home at about 3.30 pm (it’s now 8.15 pm), but I’ve been trying to get myself back into a space where I can communicate without breaking down again. I could hardly see the screen on my laptop through my tears. I feel totally exhausted from crying so much.

The counselling with my lovely counsellor, C., is definitely ending on 21st December, and there is absolutely no chance of continuing to see her again after that date. I’m devastated and heartbroken 💔. I have been through so much despair and heartache with her trying to come to terms with the frequent child sexual abuse and rape that I suffered from the age of eight until I was twelve. I haven’t said those exact words on my blog before, apart from the odd mention in my poetry, but, there it is – in black and white, as that is the truth of what happened to me.

I’m only part of the way through working on this awful trauma, and now I will be completely alone and without my counsellor. We spoke, in between my tears, about going onto the waiting list for general counselling, which I would have to pay for. Up until now, I’ve been treated under the Eating Disorders’ umbrella, which has been free. General counselling would be less specific and, although, my eating habits aren’t as bad as they were, I definitely can’t say that I’ve recovered from those issues.

C said she would speak to the organisation’s manager to see whether they would even accept me under the general team. She said, as I feared, there is a long waiting list. As it is, the counselling offices are closed from the 21st of December until the middle of January 2023. So, I know I’m in for a long wait. I feel panic-stricken at the thought of going it all alone until a place comes up (that’s if they accept me). I really don’t know how to cope with this situation. If I’m accepted (and I won’t know this till December), I’ve got to find the funds to pay for it. As I said in my last post, I can’t afford to heat my home this winter (I appreciate the ideas that people have suggested that might help). Something is going to have to give. It’s a case of whether I heat my home or eat decent food.

Assuming I am accepted, it will mean starting all over again with a completely new and unfamiliar counsellor. I don’t know if I can face going over all those painful memories once again. I feel despairing. My doctor is phoning me on Friday; I will have to update her. There is nothing else she can do. I’m exhausted with all the emotion and will have an early night accompanied by two Diazepam to attempt to give me some respite from what feels like being in the hall of crazy, distorted mirrors at the funfair. It just sums up how my life feels today – crazy and distorted.

Please forgive me if I missed reading your blogs today. I can hardly keep my eyes open. I will catch up with some, or I may have to miss today’s blogs and start afresh tomorrow. Thank you for listening. Until tomorrow … Love Ellie Xx 🖤

The Day Before

TODAY IS THE DAY BEFORE. It’s the day before I see my counsellor (C). She was away last week, so I’ve had to wait two long, painful weeks for an answer. Tomorrow is the day C tells me whether I can continue to see her after my last session, which is due on the 21st of December this year. Up until now, my therapy has been free under the council-funded Eating Disorders service, where I got six months of treatment, for which I’m very grateful.

However, now I cannot get any funding to continue seeing C under the general health team at that counselling organisation. It’s not just that, but there is a waiting list of ten months to even be considered. I can afford a little, but not the average fee for counselling, which is in the region of £50 – £60 per session. On the improbable off chance that C can continue with me without the ten-month wait, I will have to find the money. As it is, I struggle to make ends meet, and because of the UK cost of living crisis, I can’t even afford to have any heating on this winter. Being cold is miserable, but I’ll put up with it if it means I can continue to see C. I’m counting the hours and minutes until I go for my session tomorrow. I feel absolutely sick with worry.

All that aside, I have also lost three people this week (not through deaths, thankfully.) Their losses have been a blow, nevertheless. I had a Befriender from the Hospice who had phoned me every Friday – we’ve been chatting for nearly a year – just day-to-day stuff, like friends. She called me on Friday to say this was her last call as she was leaving the service to work with her daughter.

The same day, I had a call from my lovely pharmacy assistant, who’s been dispensing my medication for the last ten years, and whom I got to know on first-name terms and almost like friends. She always had time for a quick chat.

Finally, I had a call from Amy, who works for the NHS Wellbeing Team. She told me, very kindly, that because my mental health has deteriorated, she can no longer work with me. I just can’t figure that one out.

I’ve seen images on Google that say something along the lines of the picture below. Sadly, it’s no consolation to me right now. Please, wish me luck for tomorrow and keep your fingers crossed that the decision goes in my favour. I will update my situation either tomorrow or within a few days depending on the outcome.

Thank you to all my amazing and beautiful friends and readers who have been there for me on every step of my recent painful journey. Love Ellie Xx 🖤

(Image source – main photo – Photo by Liza Summer: https://www.pexels.com)