Tag Archives: children

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.

She-Devil

It’s official, my neighbour is the She-Devil. Every morning, I am woken up by her shouting and screaming at her crying, screaming kids, until bedtime.

It’s really upsetting, to me and my children, we have got to the point where we can’t go in the garden or even have the windows open when they are home.

I believe she is a single mum. The only interaction I have had with her is her shouting in my face.

I’m afraid I’m really struggling to feel sympathy for her, and as for praying for my enemies, I’m struggling to pray anything nice!

I have tried setting a good example, speaking softly and kindly to my children in her hearing (before being in the garden just got too inpleasant) and smiling and being friendly when I saw her, but it just seems to make her madder.

It’s actually really getting me down. How would you deal with this?

Quiet Down, Cobwebs

For two weeks, we had the non-stop noise of hammering every day as next door had their carpets fitted. The noise stressed me out but I couldn’t help feeling angry and jealous that whoever the people were had the ready cash to afford carpets and curtains before they moved in.

The new neighbours moved in last weekend, and I hadn’t seen them, but I had heard their little children laughing and screaming (which was endearing and irritating by turns) and their mother constantly shouting at them (which was upsetting).

I spent the week thinking how youth is wasted on the young and how so many young mothers wish the time away, not realising how short a season it is. I also found an old diary from 2004 (something my hoarding tendencies won’t allow me to part with) and thinking about what we were doing when our children were young.

We have also had visitors every day this week – a dear friend whom I love, but who has had a very different experience to mine. We are the same age, but she married late and her children are all little. She spent the whole time telling me how lucky I am to live by the sea. True. But depression can’t appreciate that, and I wasn’t able to communicate that to her. If you’ve never been there yourself, it’s hard to comprehend how depression draws a veil of grey over the sunniest day.

Last night as we arrived home, the next door neighbour was knocking on the door. I expected she was coming to introduce herself, but instead, she said:

“Your kids keep waking my kids up!”

“Oh, ok” said I.

“I wasn’t going to say anything but it keeps happening. Your kids keep running up and down the stairs” she said, angrily (presumably it had just happened)

“Oh, ok. Nice to meet you” I replied.

I went in and told my sleepy children to try to be more careful on our un-carpeted stairs. I’m pretty sure nobody has been running up and down, but they do get a bit stompy when they’re tired.

That was the last straw really.

Instead of crying, I went in and stuffed my face with (vegan) comfort food (banana, non-dairy chocolate spread & peanut butter in tortilla breads). Several of them.

I went up and checked my blood pressure, which is horrendously high (tablets notwithstanding). I’m a little bit frightened I will just drop dead, and I’m really not ready to do that. Not THAT depressed.

I will leave you with a poem that has been going around in my head this week.

“Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”

Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Open Letter to My Former Friends

For over ten years I lived and worked as a home educator in my former town. I worked tirelessly to run the Christian group, organising events and activities (mostly for free) in friendly co-operation with the secular groups. It is a deep regret that the group I set up did not continue after I left.

For a few years, it was absolutely great. Additionally, I started and briefly ran a home education learning co-op, and I ran several websites supporting, helping and encouraging people who wanted to start home educating.

I am told that ‘nice people’, and voluntary organisations in particular, are prone to infiltration and harassment from Dangerous People: twisted, troubled, manipulative individuals who may even have mental illnesses such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Fair enough. I’m sensitive, I hope, but I was also a fairly tough cookie, a good judge of character, and really not about to be troubled by That Sort of Thing because I’m basically pretty strong, I have a solid foundation, and I have a great circle of friends.

So far so good. Crazy person attacks, I fight back (with love to begin with, as much as possible, but make it clear that I won’t be walked over), problem solved.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how dastardly, cunningly clever the crazy people were (and we’re talking multiple crazies). Neither was I prepared for how easily my solid circle of friends could be swayed, poisoned against me and end up making the lies their own.

Character assassination is alarmingly easy to achieve. Social isolation, mental breakdown, even physical breakdown, easy-peasy. (It was at this point that my ME became much more serious, and I’m sure that stress is a major part of my health puzzle).

It obviously helps if your audience is slightly naïeve and a bit gullible, and perhaps prone to preconceptions and prejudice. (Not quite middle class? Not quite respectable? Must be suspect!)

But You – my friends – listened to the lies, believed them, maybe agreed with them (she is an insomniac, she is up all hours of the night on the internet, she’s can’t be looking after her children properly, easy couple of mental steps to “her children must be being abused”! She had post-natal depression, she must be mentally ill!)

You held a secret meeting to discuss me.

You lied to my face.

I hoped and prayed that the Truth would out, but it took years to do so; and finally, when the crazy people were revealed for what they were – manipulative, trouble-making liars (on a scale that would make you weep with laughter if this were fiction), you turned around and unapologetically laid all the blame for everything you had done at the feet of the crazy, disturbed, probably mentally ill person who actually, on reflection, had an excuse.

You had no excuse.

Three years ago, when I lost identical twins in miscarriage, my friends (and a couple in particular) – instead of supporting me emotionally or making any effort to understand how devastating it was (at my age, after so many years of hoping and longing and praying) – said the most appalling things to me. Amongst other things, they accused me of being selfish, self-indulgent, oh and a whole host of other things that I choose not to remember. “It’s not all about you!”

Wow.

I guess not.

I am told that the gossip ran along the lines that “she was never pregnant at all, she made it up.”

WHAT THE.

At this point we decided as a family to turn our backs on the whole toxic, bitchy, gossipy scene. This kind of constant battle really isn’t conducive to raising kids, or to home education, or to family. We left the city and moved away. Way away.

It has taken me three years to even begin to feel as though I am recovered.

Not once have I had a single apology.

Not a single one.

I tried my hand at reconciliation before we moved, but it really doesn’t work when a relationship is unbalanced with one side refusing to acknowledge their faults.

I am not twisted, and I’m not bitter, however easy that would be. I choose to walk in forgiveness whether or not you can acknowledge what you did.

But I sure do hope that you learned from the last few years – not only how twisted and dangerous the crazies are (that’s a given), but how vulnerable and easily persuaded and fooled you were. Because you were had. Not only did you contribute to emotionally damaging a friend and potentially destroying a happy family unit (remember how close you came to allowing the Crazy Woman to report us to Social Services?), you allowed lies to destroy a happy, supportive, stimulating social circle and home education group.

I presume the group itself recovered, moved on, has new people now. But what we had for those few years, that beautiful supportive, happy group of parents and children – is gone forever.

I mourn what I have lost.

I miss you.

I loved you.

I don’t do gossip, and I have always made it a rule to not say anything about anybody that I wouldn’t want that person to hear. I am still a nice person, I still volunteer and organise, and I always try to look for the good in people. (But I’m a little wiser now)

I know I’m not faultless in this, I know I said unkind things. I know I made bad decisions. I lost my temper. I hurt people. I apologised. I hope I have come out of this a little bit more mature, a little bit of a better person.

If you are willing to put your hand up and say, “Mea culpa”, I would be more than happy to reconcile.

There it is, an open door.

But if you want to argue, if you want to gossip and prevaricate a little bit more (I didn’t mention any names, you know who you are and which portion of this applies to you), I really don’t want to hear it.

I’m done.

Post-script

The night after I wrote this, I took it down after receiving some strange phone calls. It may have been an excessively paranoid reaction. I have re-read the post and decided to put it up again (minus the identifying locations). At the risk of possibly making me sound a little bit pathetic, and also possibly of upsetting and offending people, it is a chapter of my life that deserves not to be swept under the carpet. Lessons need to be learned, ultimately, and I feel that the best way for me to put this all behind me and move on is to make it public.

And so these three things remain: Faith, Hope and Charity (love) and the greatest of these is Charity. Love and forgiveness are paramount. I won’t waste my time bearing grudges.