Lie ins.

Fluffy pillow

cotton sheets

freshly washed, hard to beat

tired body

aching head

clinging to my comfy bed

curtains closed

becoming light

dependent on the distant night

 warming feet

duvet days

shielded from the sunny rays

ticking clock

stirring sleep

covers tangled in a heap

waking up

fight begins

for one more hour of my lie in.

Courtesy of Google Images. 

Little Ocean.

Little ocean take me away,

sink my skin into effervescence

floating

drifting

through gentle bubbles

floral scents

intoxicating

Little ocean sweep me away

carry my body

lingering over steamy clouds

filling my lungs

I breathe again

Bliss

Elation.

Little ocean glide me away

into the deep

hear the distant calls

do not respond

I’m lost in your power

pulling me further

stranded

abandoned.

Little ocean set me free

engulf me with warmth

gratify my wishes

flitting through ripples

my hands make waves

soothing

Utopia.

A Bitter Sweet Reminder.

I have just arrived home. I feel compelled to tell you that I saw a man today. A man standing in my father’s house. My old prison. A man standing by the kitchen window. He was dark, like me. My father’s house was lit up. Not grey and hidden as it has been for the last eighteen months since his death. I was shocked to say the least, haunted even. I have a bad habit of peeking into the old place. Curiosity gets the better of me and I can’t help but look back. Perhaps if I wasn’t living in the same area as my abuser, I would not even think about our home.

As I’ve mentioned before, I pass my abuser’s home every day to and from work. It’s highly depressing and unfortunately unavoidable. However, this unexpectedly ghostly figure could be the answer to my prayers. The house has clearly been sold and the time has finally come to move on. I can look at this as a positive step forward out of the darkness.

It has felt like an age, and although it is disturbing to witness someone else in my last home, it is also a relief. I hope their lives are more enjoyable in it than mine was. That house holds so many awful memories in it for me; for my mother. I want one day to never see it again. It belongs in my past.

Seeing a man by the window was upsetting. His build was not that dissimilar from my father’s. It was only for a few seconds but it was long enough for me to feel queasy.

Thankfully, I did not get too upset. As I got off the tube and made my way onto the bus home, I felt nothing. There is no more room for tears, I have no emotion left for him or that house. The windows had steamed up from the heated bus and the heavy rain. I could not see a thing. I leant over to the clouded pane and drew the only thing that could put a smile on my face.

To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of  “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.

Self-help hater.

I confess it. I am a self-help hater. I have never been a fan of being given “advice” on how to be a better me. I prefer to analyse myself and be the one who gives the guidance. It stems from my father’s love of self-help books (a point I have blogged about previously). He needed instruction on how to live his life, without these books’ direction, he would not have been able to make decisions or create values. They were fundamental to who he was and detrimental to the power he possessed. It was a source of control. He used the messages in these books to dictate and order me around, to degrade my life choices and look down his nose at me. He would see it as “knowledge”. I can’t tell you how many clichés he threw at me. His favourite was “knowledge is power”. I read. Just not enough and I certainly did not read the books he was recommending. I did not want to “improve” myself. As a young adult, I was only discovering who I was. He hated that and attempted to crush and contain any self-exploration that I tried to seek.

It’s not that I am unwilling to look deeper into the depths of my character; I am. I just want to do it on my terms. I have sought out help before but through a legitimate path by seeing a counsellor. She gave me questions and ideas to think about so that I could journey through the past and present consciously to improve and develop my future.

Self-help books and ideas aid many people. I can understand that. However, I choose not to follow my life by what someone else is telling me to do.

Today, I was subjected to a little self-help. In a discussion, comments were made about regret. Someone noted a quote that spoke of how we tend to regret the things we haven’t done and not the things we have. True. Sometimes. This is a very general and broad statement. One that many people seemed to agree with. I can’t.

I don’t totally disagree of course, but life isn’t that black and white. Some of my biggest regrets in life are the big choices I have made. The biggest regret being my foolish decision to live with my father aged sixteen. The choice that upturned and capsized my life. The choice that handed my abusive parent the reins to control and mentally torture me. I regret staying with him for so long. Twelve years! I regret not fighting sooner and accepting my pathetic life. I regret so much that I chose to do.

I am not a risk taker.

I can’t imagine doing some of the things I long to do. I believe in responsibilities. I am not frivolous. Perhaps that is a bad thing. Perhaps I should be more spontaneous. Except I hate surprises. In twenty years time, I am certain I will have regrets. Not huge, life-changing ones but ones where I should have taken that holiday to the Caribbean or treated myself to that expensive bag I had been lusting after. I do not mind those regrets, they are the regrets that keep us human.

Life cannot be so straightforward nor can it be peaceful and effortless at all times. I am not saying I want a depressing and bumpy journey! I just understand that shit happens and we need to be ready to face it when it comes our way.

I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.
Katharine Hepburn

Too right! How anyone can say they do not regret a choice they have made is beyond me. How an earth can you ever repent, learn or forgive?

Boxing Day revelations.

I mentioned in my last post that my mother had seemed out of sorts on Christmas day and that on Boxing day, her reasons were very much revealed.

It was what I had predicted.

A few days before Christmas, my mother received an envelope in the post. The label had been printed on so it was not clear who it was from. My mother however, instantly knew. I had no idea this envelope had arrived. My mother had kept it out of my sight. I hate secrets so was frustrated to find out she had deliberately hidden it from me. I understand why though. It would’ve played on my mind all Christmas if she had revealed it earlier.

On Boxing Day as my mother chatted about how my she missed her sister’s daughter’s child that she had spent so much time with in India, I began talking about my nephew – my sister’s son and how much I miss him. Memories filled my mind, memories of him as a baby, drooling and smiling at me. He was beautiful. He was kept from me and I have barely seen him in the last four years. My sister has taken away that basic right and for no clear reason. Her anger and hatred for my mother four years ago grew into immense anger and hatred for me. I was getting closer to Ma. I was trying to get as far away from my father. She was always my mother too. Why I had to “compete” for her affection I’ll never know. A mother’s love should be unconditional. As should a father. But my father held conditions on his love. Conditions and expectations that I could never reach. Only one person met his expectations – my sister.

“Something came you know,” uttered my mother as she listened to me reminisce.

My heart dropped. I understood immediately what she meant.

“Well let me see it,” I needed to see it.

She brought out the envelope and handed it to me explaining that it arrived a few days back. I was horrified that this had been a secret. That she kept it private. I no longer want to be kept in the dark, to be the last person to discover shocks and be told that I have to accept them.

As I opened it, a card fell out. Within that card lay several photos of my nephew and the niece I have only ever seen once (at my father’s hospital bed where my sister told him that her daughter “does not go to strangers” as he handed my niece to me). I couldn’t believe my eyes at how much he had grown. It was beautiful and devastating at the same time. I tried not to let my emotion show. As I looked at the card I saw my sister’s handwriting. Her words were affectionate towards my mother. To a stranger’s eyes you would believe that this mother and daughter had a lovely relationship; close even. That of course is not the case. My mother and sister are strangers too. My sister estranged herself four years ago from my mother. She sent an appalling letter documenting lies about her. Lies that my mother accepted.

Was it an olive branch? Was she reaching out? Maybe. I won’t be too negative. Perhaps she genuinely wants her mother back in her life. There is no way that I would stand in the way of that but why be so distant and ignore her for the past four years. At my father’s funeral last year, my sister blanked my mother. Her husband ignored the both of us. That is not the behaviour of a person who wants to make amends.

I am suspicious. I have every right to be.

I have warned my mother that I cannot go through it all again. In 2004, at the end of the year my sister got married, something changed in her. Anger consumed her and it became increasingly difficult to say the right thing around her. I especially grated on her. She will forever look at me as a teenager. A view that is distorted. That opinion will never change. She holds no respect for me as an adult or a woman. The few years that followed were an emotional nightmare. My mother attempted to bend and bow to my sister’s commands but she never met her expectations. Sounds familiar right? So my sister eventually cut her out of her life and within a year or so, she had walked straight back into my abuser’s life.

My father’s prodigal daughter had returned.

She is my mother’s prodigal daughter too. I worry and fear for the future. I can never match their relationship. I have no longing to. Their relationship was unhealthy and suffocating. I do not want that to happen to our relationship.

I had hoped 2014 would be a new start. Where the past would not return and I could move forward.

Now I’m not so sure.

The lady on the train.

I went out for a rare night out with my friend K yesterday.

It was an awesome night, lots of dancing, just what we both needed.

We left home around half five in the afternoon all dressed up and excited for the evening ahead. After almost seven years of friendship and countless nights out, it had been a while since we had been dancing. We were aching to be let loose on the dance floor and release some inhibitions.

As we entered the tube station and waited on the platform, I noticed a young woman also waiting for the train. When the train arrived and we all boarded it, something stood out immediately about her.

She was crying.

Sobbing.

I instantly felt for her and questions filled my head. She had a pair of headphones in her ears. I wondered if the music was triggering an emotion or memory in her. I subtly pointed her out to K with worry. K was shocked. It was unusual to see someone pouring out their emotion so openly especially in such a public environment. We both wondered if she had just lost someone or found out her partner had cheated on her, did she have a broken heart or ended a bad relationship?

Either way, it was clear to me that I could not just sit there and watch this woman suffer.

I reached into my bag and pulled out some tissues. My friend seemed surprised at my gesture questioning whether it would be appropriate. There was doubt in my mind. I could be infringing on a personal moment and she may want to be alone. However, she made the decision to get on the train, in front of watchful eyes and concerned hearts. I had to do something. I too know that feeling. Many a time, whilst living with the abuser, did I rush onto the tube in tears fearing his presence, anxious to escape. Did anyone approach me with a tissue? No. And I can honestly tell you that people have looked into my eyes as tears streamed down my face and immediately looked back down. Who’d want my problems?

So, up I got. I walked over to her, tissue in hand and sat beside the crying lady. She looked up and noticed the tissue. I didn’t say anything, I just handed it to her and smiled. Suddenly, her face changed. The tears fell into the gentle creases of her face and what was once a frown turned into a soft smile. She mouthed to me,

“Thank you so much!” over and over again.

I rubbed her arm gently.

“Are you all right?” I asked tenderly not wanting to reignite her emotion. She nodded sweetly and said thank you again silently through her smile.

I sat back down to see K with tears in her eyes. She was touched and saw that the young woman felt the same way. Why would I just sit there and watch her with judgement? I couldn’t do that. I had that done to me.

After I moved away from her, the woman wiped away her tears. She leant on the pane of glass beside her and closed her eyes. She seemed at peace.

For the rest of her journey she remained calm and as she got off for her stop, she sent me a gentle wave and mouthed “thank you” as she left.

I smiled and mouthed back,

“It’s okay”.

It’ll be okay.

Bon voyage!

Au revoir my friends!

Tomorrow I am off to Madrid on a trip with work. Something I’ve never done before so I’m very excited and although we’ll each have a lot of responsibility out there, it’ll be nice to get away.

It’ll also be my first time away from my husband in three years. It’s strange as I would call myself independent and am really looking forward to some time alone. However, David is my best friend, we talk and laugh every day. I feel quite sad that I can’t share this experience with him.

He’ll love it I’m sure!

I’m also slightly frightened of the journey. I have terrible travel sickness usually resulting in fierce migraines. I hate taking off and landing. My hand luggage is packed with mints to preoccupy my mind.

Ultimately, this will be a well deserved break as well as a little adventure.

See you all next week!

R x