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If She Tries to Resist, Assimilate Her!

Just a very brief outline of what was upsetting me yesterday, and will no doubt continue to unsettle for a while.

Last year when Mum moved in with us, I took her along to a Women’s mental health support group which was run by a national charity known as Rethink Mental Illness. I was surprised to recognise many of the members from the Fibromyalgia group I had previously been a member of, but had been uncomfortable with it being run by a mental health charity. (ME and Fibromyalgia have been dogged by inappropriate association with psychiatry for decades)

To cut a long story short, the group decided to break free of Rethink and set up on their own (there was actually a very acrimonious split but I won’t go into details).

It was decided that the group would amalgamate to be both a Fibro group and a mental health group and since we were all friends, we could divide the time informally and equally between the two. I thought it suited everyone.

But then, just after Christmas, there was a big, bad falling out and one of the members left/ was pushed out of the group, and one or two members made a complete turnaround and decided to ask Rethink to step back in, as though everything that had happened before and all the reasons we ejected Rethink were irrelevant.

I was given leaflets to re-apply to Rethink to be ‘assessed’ by them, and I filled them in but carried them around in my bag for weeks, really not quite comfortable about being involved with them again (not to mention the fact that I was unhappy about various aspects of the way the group was going, not least of which was the decision to offically call the group a Mental Health group and ignore the ME & Fibromyalgia).

On Friday, we weren’t able to get to the group and apparently they met with Rethink  without us. Rethink determined that nobody could be a member of the group anymore unless they were assessed and approved by Rethink and so we could no longer attend meetings until we got that sorted out. Not only that, but they stipulated that we were not even allowed to meet members of the group for coffee until Rethink had approved us.

Well, no.

Apparently the other members of the group all sat there meekly and said “Yes Rethink, whatever you say, Rethink, three bags full, Rethink.”

They seem to be honestly surprised and confused that I would disobey. They had not anticipated it and apparently everybody is reeling because I have broken the group up!

Of course I am very sorry and upset to have hurt or upset my friends. But by all accounts, I think these friendships must have been very weak and superficial if not entirely fake if they would submit to tyranny for the dubious promise of safety that Rethink offers.

I think I probably need to learn to say “no” louder and more determinedly at an earlier stage if I’m to avoid repeats. But in this instance, I think it’s all over and we need to stand our ground and be prepared to lose the group to Rethink. I’m not willing to submit to the malevolence or incompetence of a group that has already shown themselves to be untrustworthy and more trouble than it’s worth, and I doubt the others are strong enough to resist.

I hope I’m wrong and the friendships will survive despite the disagreement (and Rethink’s ridiculous rules). But somehow, I very much doubt it.

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Aversion Therapy

aversion

I wrote this post once already, but the evil internet ate it up and it disappeared without a trace, so instead of the beautifully crafted original post, you’ll have to make do with what I can cobble back together from my memory.

A few weeks ago, my mother and brother came to visit us from that London, and on the Saturday they wanted to go to the cinema and the only thing that seemed remotely worth watching was Bridget Jones’ Baby, so we went to see that.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Well this isn’t a review. In a nutshell, it’s a perfectly good and funny film (although I have to say it scandalised my mother! I forgot how rude and sweary Bridget Jones was!) But it is a stupidly inappropriate film for anybody who has recently had any kind of baby loss! I should have realised that, but I guess I felt ok – until the part in the film where Bridget goes for her (first) ultrasound scan, from which point, I was a complete wreck. I managed to contain my emotion outwardly until I got home and promptly locked myself in the bathroom and bawled my eyes out.

I told my little tale of woe to my Recurrent Miscarriage group, and lots of people said they wouldn’t even consider going to see it, one lady wanted to see but couldn’t face it and another watched it like I did and had a good cry afterwards, but she said she was glad she watched it anyway. I wish I hadn’t seen it.

On another note (but somehow related – I couldn’t tell you how my train of thought connected the two), I decided to take a proper break from facebook (it’s all baby photos and happy boasting announcements that make me want to vomit – maybe that’s the connection) and I noticed that an old friend, somebody I had known for years and with whom I had shared life’s traumas and troubles over and over – not just mine, but hers (she was evicted at the same time we were, she has a child with a chronic health condition that took ages to diagnose, as I do etc) had unfriended and blocked me, and not only on facebook but on Twitter as well (all my accounts!)

I was really ticked off because it seemed so petty. But apparently we had had what amounted to a fundamental disagreement.

I don’t actually remember exactly what she had posted but it was something along the lines that Trans people being allowed to choose the appropriate toilet for themselves was an outrage to public decency and a danger to all God-fearing girls.  As I recall, I tried to explain to her that being Trans was a little bit more complex than she probably realised. But she was so determined that she was right that she started making very unkind and wrongheaded personal judgments about one of my children (who happens to identify as Trans) and obviously that was not acceptable. I presume that she deleted me as soon as she realised I wasn’t prepared to let her do that.

Whatever.

Well. I’m prepared to say “good riddance” – that sort of ignorant attitude is not really what I want to surround myself (or my children) with.

But it hurts, to be judged, and to be summarily cut off in that way. And of course it worries me that these kind of attitudes are so prevalent, and I hope that my children can be safe and un-persecuted, whatever their personal choices that don’t hurt anybody else.

So just for the record I thought I would clarify some points about being Trans. I hope I’m not misrepresenting anybody, this is just my take on it all, as a parent.

  1. Being Trans – having gender dysphoria – is not a sin.
  2. Being Trans – identifying with a gender other than your birth gender – is not the same thing as being attracted to or having sexual relations with another person of the same birth gender. That can be the case, but it’s a separate issue. Still not a sin, even if you’re conservative enough to believe that all same-gender relations are inevitably sinful, with no exceptions.
  3. Being Trans does not automatically mean having a sex-change. (And frankly, having a sex-change is not necessarily a sin either!) ed.: I’m wondering what circumstances would make it a sin, actually?!
  4. Being Trans inevitably includes a range of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, fear and confusion. Please don’t add to it. Just be kind! Always.
  5. Being Trans is often seen in teenagers associated with Asperger’s Syndrome (in my own child’s case, gender just does not quite ‘compute’, and the whole idea of any kind of sex is disgusting). Not a sin.
  6. Trans people are not known for violence. The argument that allowing M to F Trans people use female toilets would lead to more rape or attacks on female children would seem to be deeply flawed on so many levels, and wholly without basis. The kind of people who desire to make those sorts of attacks are going to do it anyway, regardless of the law.
  7. Gender identity and sexuality are actually a little bit complex. Not the simple black and white, fixed boxes you might assume. It’s not just a matter of physical gender – it’s genetics, it’s hormones, it’s mental, it’s culture. It’s complicated. Take a step back before you jump in and condemn.
  8. And finally, who the (((bleep))) are you to judge? Get that plank out of your eye, people!

That is all.

Displaced and Virtually Homeless

Lovely field with bright yellow and orange daffodils (Narcissus). Shallow dof and natural light.

I did a bad thing, and I got banned and blocked from a social media site. That’s never happened to me before. I shouldn’t care, but I cried all evening and stayed up way into the night trying to sort it out.

I’m not mentioning any names, because I don’t want for them to find this blog and identify me.

It went like this: I was hurt by the fact that my favourite site – basically my home on the internet – is closing, which made me feel raw and vulnerable, and then hurt some more (by other members and Admins on a new site I joined, being really rude and nasty). I turned around and lashed out at the Admin. I apologised, but she responded by banning me and blocking me from even viewing the site, with no right to appeal.

I acknowledged I had been rude, and had said things I shouldn’t have, but I think I was more than justified in complaining about her rudeness and the unwelcome attitude across the site. I apologised to her but she wouldn’t acknowledge any wrong on behalf of her or the existing members, believing that I was just wrong and that was that. ‘Immigrants’ from the old site have been repeatedly told “we don’t want you, go away”.

The ban was lifted after two hours (I don’t know what made them reconsider or why, because the “go away, we don’t want you” posts are still coming) and now it’s all supposed to be smoothed over between the Admin and me personally (is it? I can’t really tell), but there’s a really bad atmosphere and I feel like a homeless, unwelcome refugee.

I hope nobody is offended by me comparing myself to refugees. I’m not really doing that, but I am drawing parallels about being sensitive and welcoming to new people who have been displaced, understanding that it takes time to adjust and that there’s a learning curve. If the welcoming hand of friendship had been extended, none of this need have happened.

Even if we do try to adjust and fit in, the site certainly doesn’t feel like a happy or safe place – certainly not a place where I could bare my soul and talk about the things I need to talk about – and I think I need to find a new home on the internet.

It’s hard to build up a network of friends, and I am so sad the original site is closing. When real life is really unbearable, a virtual life that’s good can make all the difference between keeping your head above water and going under.


So anyway, on a happier note, I thought I would do a little CW journal again, just for fun.

Today’s Events – taking it easier today. No car, so can’t get to the beach but might go out while the sun shines.

Weight – 16.9 which sounds awful, but I had gone up to 17.4 so I’ve lost 9 lbs and I’m really pleased with that.

Food – basically relaxed low carb, with plenty of protein and fat, but keeping the overall calories around 1000 per day. I’m not hungry or suffering at all.

Exercise – not so much, ask me again.

Who we fancy today – Theo Theodoridis

theo
Who may be the most beautiful man ever created. Sad story there, do you know it?

Music The Matrix soundtrack – great for hammering out anger and tears.

Make-up – nothing today.

Jewellery – I have my eye on a silver necklace but out of my price range atm…

Clothes & shoes – barefoot and slouchy today, but I do have a thing for costume, especially Victorian costume, and look what I found! *Victorian Star Trek uniforms*

Nice things today – sunshine, a roof over my head, daffodils, coffee, a nice clean kitchen (I scrubbed that sucker angrily while I was banned from the site), online friends who have stuck by me and supported me, and sympathised with the whole horrible business.

Jobs I’d like to try – Airline pilot. I had toyed with stewardess, because it’s glamorous, (not only clothes and shoes, but hats!!) But who wants to serve drinks when there’s a plane to fly?

Thought for the day from Chairman Whorlow

“May those who love us love us, and those who don’t love us, may God turn their hearts. And if not their hearts, may he turn their ankles, so we know them by their limping.

The Forest Dark

I confess I spend quite a lot of time on the internet, simply because my illness limits my activity and I can’t get out much. I have multiple twitter accounts, and (don’t tell facebook) multiple facebook accounts. You would hardly believe how much I dislike facebook, given that fact, but I really do. There is almost no control over what you see in your timeline and it’s not fun anymore. None of it seems all that fun anymore.

The fact that I have so few irl friends here has meant that shutting myself off from social media recently has left me really isolated, and I’m probably not doing myself much good.

But without a job to go to, and without young children to meet at the school gate, it seems nigh on impossible to make real-life friends at my age. We have been down here 5 years now, and I have one friend. One. And it has not been for lack of trying, believe me.

If it were up to me, I would move home in a flash. But it’s not even an option. I am stuck in this beautiful, lonely place.

“Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
And the straightforward path had been lost in strife.” — Dante

It’s one of my favourite quotes, one that I have felt affinity with for many years. (Although I still haven’t got round to reading the book. It’s on my list.)

But perhaps I really do have a tendency to ‘glass half empty’, because I remember feeling like this before all the awful things happened to us, back when we were living in our own house, in the city.

And I remember feeling that I was in a kind of ‘wilderness’ even when we lived there, surrounded by people.

Janeway-and-Chakotay-Shoulder-Massage

While I have been away from facebook and twitter, I have been indulging in a bit of Star Trek fan fiction fantasy (a bit of writing and role play). If you’re familiar with Star Trek Voyager, the scenario is that – in the episode Resolutions – Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay, infected with a parasite that only allowed them to live on the planet where they became infected, have to be abandoned there alone while the crew go on without them.

In the series, a cure was found and they were rescued and resumed their journey home to Earth. But the fantasy is that the crew never return for them and so they live there on New Earth together, fall in love and have a family (in fact this is what the writer of the episode, Jeri Taylor, originally envisaged). Of course, I am Janeway and husband is Chakotay in my fantasy. All that’s missing is a tattoo.

I like the scenario because, quite apart from the romance, I love the idea of being stranded alone, having to pioneer a homestead, grow our own food, make our own clothes, tame animals and raise livestock, and being completely free.

So why do I hate it here so much in real life? I’ve had 5 years to think about it. The reality is that we don’t have any land, we don’t have a homestead, we can’t even keep chickens here. The country is no better than the city if you have no money. In fact, I think it might be considerably worse in some ways.

And I am beginning to think that I don’t actually like people very much (although it’s probably just sour grapes. I’m pretty likeable, what’s their problem?! Nobody smiles, nobody talks to you – it really is the most unfriendly and unwelcoming place I have ever lived in, and the beauty doesn’t make up for that). There are far too many people around here to allow my fantasy of being alone, pioneering on the planet.

So, a way forward? I can’t see us ever being completely happy here, even if I could make friends. I think that the only way to get happy is to get going and move away. I just wonder how far we’d have to move to get the kind of place we want and need at a price we can afford.

Hiding Out

I have been feeling so bad since Whistler was put down, I wouldn’t even call it depression – it’s more like a kind of numbness which has made me want to run away, escape, shut myself off, shut myself in, hibernate, baton down the hatches.

As I’m sure you’ll notice if you’ve been here before that I’ve had a change of theme – I do like to change the furniture around occasionally but I decided I needed a BIG change to reflect the enormity of the upsetting, life-changing nature of losing a pet.

If it’s something you have never experienced, let me give you an idea of how seriously it can affect you. What I did last time I had a pet die on me in (my cat Mini in 1994 – I might do a separate post just on her in fact – she was accidentally poisoned by a neighbour who put down rat poison). Two days later I moved out of my house and left my husband, permanently. Life-changing.

So obviously my current life, such as it is, has been under constant re-evaluation recently as it has been so poopy for the last few years, but I haven’t been able to do much about it. I still don’t have any answers really. The changes I’d like to make are still mostly outside of my control. What can I do beyond “be grateful” and look for beauty? I’m not finding many treasures in the darkness so far, just darkness.

Instead, I am taking some time out in the hope that isolation will let me heal – time off from church (I’ve just stopped going), time off from friends (I’ve given twitter and facebook a wide girth and since I don’t have any real life friends locally, that makes no odds); I am even neglecting wordpress.

I’m taking a little bit of time off from reality altogether to be honest.

Spirit of Jezebel

Over the weekend, we had a resurgence of an episode relating to an older woman, let’s call her Jezebel, who has plagued our family over the last three years as an interfering busybody, gossip and manipulator.

It all started when we joined the youth group she runs. All four children joined and I volunteered as a leader. However, that stage didn’t last very long because the three youngest children did not enjoy the club, so they left after a year. I carried on volunteering for a while but I found her personality to be so manipulative and controlling that I couldn’t stand it and left as well. (One of the last evenings I was there, she very publicly and inappropriately dressed down her husband in front of the children, and I knew I didn’t want to be around that.)

There was also a huge problem with gossip, a serious lack of understanding of special needs and unbelievably, Jezebel was the ‘safeguarding officer’ for the club, which meant there was nobody to trust or to go to discreetly, an appalling situation for a children’s club.

My eldest son, nevertheless, seemed to enjoy it at first and went on camp with them two years in a row (although I could tell a couple of horror stories about that too), carrying on as a leader for another year. However, after having a breakdown at school, everything got too much for him and he decided to take a break from the club, and that was when the trouble really started as Jezebel wouldn’t accept no for an answer.

She visited the house uninvited multiple times, repeatedly gave me unsoliticed parenting advice, and then visited again once when I was out, and bullied eldest into agreeing to go back, although he was completely not ready or happy to do it. When I got home he was deeply distressed and so I asked her by text not to do it again. We exchanged a series of texts which became more and more heated and threatening and in the end I told her in no uncertain terms not to visit us again and to leave him alone and not contact us. I also contacted her superior to make him aware of the situation.

So this weekend, Jezebel called my husband’s phone (how sneaky is that!) and I happened to answer it, and the conversation was immediately hostile and ended with a threat of more interference at which point I put the phone down on her and contacted her superior again.

Later that evening I found another threatening text to which I responded that if the harassment didn’t stop I would be seeking legal advice. I am hoping that this will be an end to it now, but obviously if not I’ll be having to visit Citizens Advice or look into how to get a legal injunction against her.

In many ways we are a family in crisis right now. But interfering and gossiping about us is not kind or helpful. I am not sure what Jezebel hoped to achieve other than to undermine my parental authority, but hopefully we have beaten her at her own game as we’ve now reported her to her direct superior as well as the club’s head office.

Your Desire Shall Be for your Husband

I have been contemplating my relationship with my husband recently. It is pretty good now overall but we have had our fair share of ups and downs, and for years I resented him – not because we had had miscarriages, of course that wasn’t his fault, but because he had decided, despite knowing that I desperately wanted another baby, to wait so long (7 years) between our last baby and trying again, by which time it was too late.

I think that probably I was too ill by the time we started trying again, although I didn’t realise until much later that that might have been a factor. (I read a couple of years ago that women with chronic conditions such as ME, Fibro, MS, PCOS etc. tend to experience miscarriage three times as often as healthy women) .

I have mentioned before that I am not yet at a point of acceptance, of being able to get some closure and say now we have finished building our family. But I have been thinking more and more lately about trying to work out for myself what the shape of my life should look like now going forward if there’s not going to be any babies in the picture. I’ll be 45 this year, so the chances now are next to zero – especially after 4 years of no conception at all (and obviously not using anything to prevent conception!) It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, but highly unlikely. I know that.

I remember once, before we started trying again in 2010, my husband asking me, “Why am I not enough for you?” That is to say, why do you need a baby as well? At the time I thought it was a ridiculous thing to say, the two things weren’t in the same category. But I wonder now whether there is something in it. What is it that makes women like me want babies, and keep wanting babies even with a big family? Well, as I’m sure I have mentioned before, I was raised on the Waltons / Little House on the Prairie as well as having family friends with a big family which seemed really idyllic which fed into the same fantasy. Large family life just seemed much more homely and loving and fulfilling than our quiet, standard small nuclear family. When I had my own family I knew which style I wanted to emulate, and it wasn’t what I had grown up with. But additionally, maybe also a kind of tender intimacy, feeling needed, having somebody to love and adore? (Come to that, why do most women not continually desire that?)

My husband had two sisters, so not a specially large or small family really and I don’t think he was fussed either way. But I do remember once discussing with him that I wanted ten children, and he actually agreed. I suspect now that he thought I was joking. (We have produced 9 in total though – including all our losses – so one more and I would let him off the hook!)

Obviously I have also had thoughts about having a career and started taking steps towards that, but there have been obstacles and it hasn’t happened so far. I have been toying with the idea of working but I think I am basically unemployable. I would be so unreliable with ME – most days I wake up in so much pain I can’t get up, and who would want to employ somebody who might need more sick days than work days? So I have begun to wonder about what sort of things I could do from home. But I would still be at home.

I’m not really convinced that I am cut out for housewifery. I may have the excuse of homeschooling and having the kids around all day and having lots of extra educational materials and books hanging around, but I do not keep a very tight ship. If burglars ever broke in, they might be forgiven for thinking they were too late and we had already been burgled. I wish we didn’t live in a mess but we do.

Perhaps if I were well enough I could take a bit more pride in the state of the place, try a bit harder to keep things ship-shape. But I don’t think I would find that very fulfilling, and sitting at home reading books all day for the most part does nag me with a twinge of guilt at times. So being at home without babies, now that my kids are nearing the end of their education, is beginning to feel a bit odd. What will I do when the children are grown and start to fly away?

I did start some serious writing projects, but I haven’t given them the time or effort to see if they could amount to anything yet. Too busy letting myself get distracted with blogging, although I have given facebook and twitter the boot recently and I have pleasantly surprised myself to find that I really wasn’t addicted at all. (It’s nice to be able to discover new things about yourself at a time when you’re beginning to feel old and staid and boring!)

Going back to my relationship with husband though, I have been thinking more about the necessity of adjusting to this different way of life as empty-nesters (actually I think it will be a long way off for us as youngest is still only 12 and eldest who is 20 seems to have no plans to leave to go somewhere he might need to cook and wash his own clothes). I know it’s not uncommon for some couples to grow apart and end up separating when the children are gone, but that is not something I want to happen to us.

I keep thinking about the phrase in Genesis in the Bible where God tells Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband“. The context is that it is part of the ‘curse’ after the Fall, and I know that many anti-feminists interpret it to mean that part of the curse is that women desire power over their husbands. (Just as an aside, I posted a question about Christian feminism on a Christian forum recently, asking for reading recommendations, and wasn’t at all surprised to be told that the whole concept of Christian feminism was power-seeking and unChristian. Good grief.) Anyway, what was I saying?

Yep, I don’t honestly know what it means, what the relevance or significance might be to modern Christian women. Perhaps none at all. But I can’t stop thinking about the phrase somehow. I remember when we were first together, before we had children, he told me that he didn’t want me to let myself become dependent on him, because I was perfectly capable to look after myself. But inevitably, as a non-earning housewife and mother of course I did become dependent on him and I still am. I’m not actually too worried about that, as I don’t think it reflects my worth or capability, and I know that things can change in an instant – the universe turns on a pin, after all. There was a time when I went out to work and he stayed at home. It’s not inconceivable that the roles could reverse again. I might get well. (Pigs might fly, hopefully the former is more likely than the latter.)

But I would really just like to be satisfied. Content. With him. With our life as it is, without wanting or needing any babies, or a bigger house, or more money, or some great career or some other monumental success in my life. Is that lame? Or is it a reasonable way for a middle aged woman to think? Yuck! I hate that phrase, ‘middle-aged’. I’m just ‘mature’, right?! (Hahaha, who am I kidding!)

So we are back to gratefulness again. I am grateful. I am thankful. I have lots of good things in my life, and I am totally grateful that I do have such a good, faithful, long-suffering husband. He thinks I am crazy, but he still loves me, and thankfully he seems perfectly happy to accommodate my wish to keep quite a bit of baby-making practice going. 😀