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When Absent Fathers Die.

Yesterday I should have been celebrating. I published my second book. Emilee. However at 7:20 am, I got a text from my step-sister asking me to call her, telling me it was important. I’m sure I must’ve known what she was going to say, we never speak on the phone, and yet nothing went through my head at the time.

 

No one wants to hear the words “I’m sorry to have to tell you but …”. 

 

The majority of us (I believe) spend most of our adult life actively avoiding any thoughts of our parents dying, it being too big an emotional deal for us to cope with. For me, it was the opposite. I’ve spent years imagining how I would react, how I would cope, knowing that the first solid contact I would have, would be because of this. In recent months, my thoughts have crescendoed to the point where it became part of the story I wrote. As the words fell out of my fingers, it wasn’t Emilee who was stood in front of the casket as it disappeared behind the velvet curtain, it was me. It wasn’t her who flashed back to her early childhood, it was me.

And now it’s happened. Did I know? Did I have an inexplicable sense of what was about to take place? Even my dreams about him have escalated in recent times.

The messages of sympathy and condolences have poured in. I should find them comforting but I don’t. I feel guilty. Like a fraud. Because I didn’t go and see my dad. Because I couldn’t get over (or around) the person that he was. … A good person at heart but someone who just wasn’t that great at parenting. Someone who communicated at his best by shouting, and bullying. Someone who liked his whiskey too much even if it meant the rest of his family suffered. The person who gave up trying and let me go.

I’m jealous, of the people who got to see another side to him. A better side.  Was I just not good enough to be allowed that?

I’M SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW.

This is supposed to be the time when I look back and see our time together through rose-tinted glasses and I can’t! My brain is scrambling to find enough memories to assemble just something that didn’t involve me being screamed at, or being told I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t trying hard enough. I’m glad you found those better times eventually, I just wish …. some of them could have been with me.

I’m feeling everything and nothing, all at the same time, the result is a weird numb paralysis. I don’t know what else to do but write.

I DON’T WANT TO LOVE YOU AS MUCH AS I DO. ALWAYS HAVE.

I want to go back to being 5 years old and I want you to make it all ok Dad! But you can’t. And now you never will.

I DON’T WANT TO MISS YOU LIKE I DO. ALWAYS HAVE DONE.

I don’t even have any proper photos of him. Nothing tangible to hold, or smell, or feel. It’s almost like you didn’t exist, and you did because there is this massive dark black hole in my heart that I have been trying to fill since the age of 15. And it never goes away.

I really want to run away right now … to anywhere, to everywhere, to nowhere … away from myself.

Maybe I’ll bring you back. I’m a writer. I can create any world I want to. I just would rather not be in the real one right now.  I need someone to stop the ride so I can get off.

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I Love You

I Love You

 

I got tagged this morning by a friend on Facebook in this ‘upload 3 pics of yourself, let’s promote the beautiful woman that you are’ kinda thing. (I’m sure it’s open to you guys too in this world of equality) I’ve already uploaded any photos of me so I won’t be joining in directly, but I really support the sentiment of the project. … but it got me thinking ( as I was sat on the loo, which is where I do most of my best thinking) about where our sense of beauty comes from. How it’s reinforced, or not. And for all the ‘self-love’ in the world, it’s (humanly) very difficult to keep that self-belief going without some kind of signal from the outside world that it’s true. And then I started to think back about when was the last time that I had a guy ( as in fella, in a relationship), look me in the eyes and say with all of his heart that to him, I was beautiful. Or to pen a love letter ( not email or text) to say similar. There’s been a fair few bf’s although not for a lot of years as a singleton for 5 years ….. but I had to go all the way back to the age of 16.

16!!!!!

And yet I could honestly say that to each of them, I have said it. Because if I’ve chosen to share myself with someone at that level, it’s because I think that person is. Beautiful.
That speaks volumes about what I’ve been prepared to settle for over the years.

Volumes!!!

Always being ‘okay’ with being someone else’s 2nd best. Someone else’s entertainment when they were bored.

Boom! Big wake up call.

My point of this post is not a call for compliments. Words on a screen mean very little to me especially in this world of disconnect between the living and breathing. My point was, how often do WE look at the person /people we love and tell them,

‘ You are the most beautiful person in the world to me and I love you’ ?

I mean REALLY tell them. Heart stopping, breath stopping, world stopping, eye contact and really tell them. And make sure they hear, feel… every word we say?

 

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We should do it! Every day! And if you are with someone whom you find it impossible to muster up those words for, because the emotions don’t exist behind them, you should question why?

Why?!?

Why you can’t? Why are you with them?  They deserve to have someone who does feel those things and who can say it.

As do you.
We all do.
I rarely say ‘I love you’. I’ve had my emotions abused and taken advantage of so much in the past that those 3 little words get stuck in my throat and won’t come out. The gamble is generally too high. So I (try) to go out of my way to show ppl. The chosen few. And hope and pray that it won’t get thrown back in my face.
It’s always a risk but it’s one we should take. No matter how teeny the ‘safety-window’ gap of opportunity is.

“You are the most beautiful thing in my world and I love you.”

Feel it. Say it. Feel it.

Anna J xXx

 

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall.

 

Going through any kind of trauma presents challenges; walls that need to be dismantled. Brick, by brick, by brick. The journey of recovery is different for everyone. A short skip, jump and a hop for some; for others, much longer. I’ve travelled one of the longer ones. Five years and it’s only  in recent times that I’ve felt brave enough to properly stick my head above the parapet.

Today I took a huge leap.

I bought a mirror. A full length, scary as shit, mirror … And then I looked at myself in it. Something I’ve avoided for more than half a decade. I refused to have them in the house, became adept at ignoring my own image in store windows etc.

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I hated what I saw BUT I did it! 

So many of us spend our entire lives listening to the voices outside and in, continually telling us that we aren’t good enough. Breaking that record is really difficult and I take my hat off to those of you who have already found the courage to do so. Domestic abuse left me afraid of everyone and everything, including myself. I tried so hard to make it all okay, to stop the vileness that ran through the veins of the relationship. To make him stop. But I couldn’t.

‘I wasn’t good enough.’

 Despite my ‘logical-head’ knowing exactly where the land lies, the other part of me … the one that thrives on love, and passion, and warmth, and trust … has still got a way to go. I’m still not finished wrestling with the ‘it wasn’t my fault’ element of the equation. I’m not sure I ever will. And with that self-blame comes the need to avoid. People, contact … emotions.

I’ve spent so many years, walking around, avoiding my own reflection.

Avoiding me.

Myself.

And I.

I don’t want to do that anymore.

I have no clue what lies beyond the looking glass. The thought of stepping through makes me feel sick with fear ,but for the first time in as long as I can remember, there is something else. Buried deep inside that knotted ball inside my stomach.

Excitement. Hope.

 A seed that’s been dormant.

Waiting to grow.

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When ice starts to melt…

When ice starts to melt…

 

After far too many years of being incredibly unhappy in a dark and turbulent relationship, I remember the exact moment I ‘remembered what happy was’. The exact second. My brain suddenly woke up and discovered that it still knew how to ‘do it’; despite having laid dormant for almost a decade. The exact nanosecond that I made the decision that I was never going to allow myself to be put in that position, where there was nothing but shadow, again.

That I would never let go of it.

Would never settle for less.

 

And I haven’t.

 

Life brings up and downs. I wallow in the high times and release low ones with relative ease; keeping hold only, of whatever lesson or gift was left on the beach as the waves rolled back out to sea. And there is always at least one of those. Usually both.

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Such basic emotions like happiness should be a given. A human right. But for so many they aren’t. No matter how dire an individual’s circumstances, the effect is the same. Our reasons for living, are stripped away until all that remains is a shell that exists on a diet of fear and self-protection. Eventually it becomes so much the norm that we all but lose the ability to let back in any light. Love and warmth becomes the stranger we hide from.

 

It’s taken me five years to reach my next ‘wake up’ moment. And my life has changed all over again. This weekend, someone gave me two gifts. The first is one I already treasure. Time. Given with no demands. No expectations. Nothing required in return.

The second, was one I didn’t even realise was (still) missing from my life.

Safety.

Security.

Total trust.

Twelve hours spent wrapped up in someone’s arms, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, not just feeling but knowing that nothing was going to hurt me. No matter how big the boogeyman hiding under the bed, I had nothing to be scared about.

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No adrenaline required.

Fiery relationships force you to adapt to survive.Each and every action meticulously planned to maximize damage limitation.   Fiery childhoods mean it’s a honed skill that is entwined with the atoms that create your very being. Self-defense and protection, as crucial as breathing. 

It never switches off … you can never let go … there is no relax…

Until the right pair of arms finds you. And for a brief window in time, all the bad stuff disappears.

Just for a moment.

What is a moment for them, for me, is a gift that will last forever

I remembered what is to feel safe.

From this point, I will never again settle for less.

Life is supposed to feel good. You are supposed to feel happy for the majority of the time. You are supposed to feel safe and secure, for the majority of the time. Anything less is a sign you are walking the wrong path. Only you can step off. Change your route. Change your life.

Only you.

No matter how scary, the reward is always worthy of the leap of faith.

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We should spend less time analyzing why people are in our lives, and more time thinking about the reason we are in theirs. We all leave a mark. Shallow or deep, we should  strive to make the footprint we leave, a positive one. We may not be destined to be in their life forever, but the memory of us will be. We should make our footprint one that is treasured …

Just like the one I now have, etched across my heart.