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Open Letter to the Kids on WordPress

I read your posts full of anxiety, depression, loneliness, feeling unloved, misunderstood, unseen, unheard, unacknowledged, not validated, insignificant.  You struggle to keep head above water, do daily battle with the demons in your head while outwardly you feign ‘normality’ and keep going.  Attending school, doing your homework, working part time maybe, laughing and messing about with peers while inside you are dying and screaming for help.  You really want to say, ‘I’m feeling shit, I’m not doing so well, I want to burrow deep under the duvet and never get up.’

When I taste and feel your pain and distress across cyberspace through the words on the screen my heart breaks a little.  I wish I was there to give you an enormous hug and tell you it’s gonna be alright, you are going to be fine, hang in there kid.  Hope there is always hope.

This is what I want to share with you.  Like you I don’t have all the answers and I charge into battle keeping my demons at bay every second of the day: depression, negativity, hopelessness, self pity, helplessness, loneliness, not being good enough, not belonging, rejection …  But I am older and wiser and I have been through an abnormal amount of shit in my half a century’s existence on planet Earth and so I would like to share with you the lessons learnt through pain and despair.

First and foremost be happy.  Make a decision now this very second to be happy.  Don’t instantly reject the idea, don’t think of all the excuses why you couldn’t possibly be, just be happy, as simple as that.  I am not belittling all the obstacles and shit in your life but we all have problems.  Nobody has an idyllic life problem and worry free.  Nobody, not even the rich and famous.  Look how many go into rehab or die from an overdose.  The filthy rich worry they will lose all their money or that those who want to marry them are just after their wealth and not because of true love.  They worry they’ll be robbed, kidnapped.  They don’t know who they can trust.  The poor struggled to make ends meet, working their socks off in some dead end mind numbing soul destroying minimum wage job. 

Don’t compare yourself to others and think they have it all and am deliriously happy.  Behind their contented facade they may be feeling just as if not more shit than you. 

Life is too short, so live it to the full while you can.  My dad has had diabetes since he was middle aged.  Mum didn’t let him eat any sweet stuff which he loved and now he has suffered a major stroke and is paralysed from the neck down.  He can’t swallow so eating is out of the question.  Maybe he should eaten the stuff he craved when he could.  Life is unpredictable; none of us have a crystal ball so do what you enjoy and will make you happy.  With the proviso it doesn’t harm your body, isn’t illegal and won’t hurt others.  Do no harm is a pretty good rule to live by and treat others the way you’d like to be treated.  That is how I try to live my life and it works for me.

Be your own person, strive to be comfortable in your own skin.  Perfection is unattainable and a delusion so don’t even try.  We are all unique and by virtue of being human we are good enough and worthy of respect and love.  You don’t have to try to be someone else, a better version, you are good enough being you.  You don’t have to do anything, try harder, get better grades, be slimmer, more beautiful, have bigger breasts, perfect hair and complexion, fit bodies.

Life can be brutal, harsh, fraught with obstacles and shit but do try and seek out the good too.  Nothing is all black and white, good or bad; identify the grey areas.  it’s all about balance.  Nobody’s life is all bad or all good and of course it varies at different points.  The good news is the bad times though appearing hopeless will pass and things will get better.  The good thing about having hit rock bottom is the only way is up.  It can’t get worse, you have survived it so hang in there and be patient.  Hope there is always hope and don’t ever lose it or give up.

The freedom you have even in the shittiest of times is to decide how to react.  When you think you have your back against the wall you always have a choice.  No choice is still a choice. 

I hope this helps a little.  I’d be interested in hearing what you think and for you to share your stories.  Over and out Mama G.

Let’s talk depression (3)

What’s it like to be depressed, how does it feel?  Everybody’s experience is unique but this is how it is for me.  It varies.  Sometimes it feels I’m in quicksand and the harder I struggle the deeper I sink and all effort is futile.  Other times it is like drowning in the fierce currents of life and desperately grabbing onto any passing debris. At times it is like being at the bottom of a deep pitch black well with the lid firmly shut.  Sometimes I feel nothing, absolutely nothing at all. 

It is the fact that everything feels such a chore, the simplest of task like getting out of bed, having a shower seem to take such will power as if I am running the marathon.  It is as if your feet are stuck with superglue and it takes monumental effort to prise one foot off  and then the other, leaving you wasted.

On top of that is an overwhelming sense of futility.  What is the point?  Of anything?  Why get up at all?  The meaninglessness of life.  The trials and tribulations endured, what for?  Why are we here at all?  Every day is exactly the same; a struggle to stave off hunger, to answer the call of nature and battle insomnia and to persuade yourself to hang in there, to stay alive because maybe just maybe it will get better. 

You don’t really believe it, you can’t imagine it ever being any different.  You can’t enjoy anything, not even the stuff you used to.  You don’t notice the sun is shining, that the daffodils herald Spring, that life is going on outside the prison of your mind.  You don’t care.

You hibernate, isolate, burrow deep into your warm cosy safe duvet, refusing to tunnel out unless absolutely necessary when your body screams food and your bladder is full.  You build a formidable fortress all around with a moat that even the closest people to you cannot scale.  It feels secure; nobody can disturb or ask you awkward questions forcing you to face harsh reality but neither can you reach out and it kinda feels lonely.  You feel unloved.  You have friends but disappear off the radar; you don’t want to be a burden, you know you are bad company, you are sick of yourself, why would anyone want to spend time with depressed you?

I used to really hate the term ‘mental illness’ and that I was a sufferer because the word implied I was a nutter, crazy, mad, insane.  I resented it cos I knew I wasn’t.  Now I realise it means that depression is ‘all in the mind’, that is why it is a mental illness. 

I decided to make a new life in Hong Kong because I wanted to leave the scene of the crime, there were too many painful memories that I couldn’t leave behind physically and mentally.  Why HK?  Well it was where my life began but more importantly I associate the city with happy memories.  The three years of university followed by another three in the 80’s teaching English there were the happiest, most carefree of my life.  I wanted to return and recapture those happy thoughts and rediscover that optimistic, sociable, innocent me.  I remember loving and being loved.  Friends, colleagues, pupils, my first boyfriend liking me for who I was.  I was very popular.  They appreciated my sense of humour, naive enthusiasm and openness.  I was young, in my early twenties, beautiful, hopeful, the world was my oyster, I could be whatever I wanted to be.

Then I hadn’t suffered years of being put down and criticised; made to feel inadequate just wrong.  Not good enough, that I did not belong, however hard I tried.  I had not become a doormat, lost my voice, to keep the peace, for the sake of the family.  I had yet to become a martyr, sacrificing my own needs, very own identity and scrimping and making do so that my husband could indulge in his ever changing expensive hobbies and that my child was not the poor kid on the block.  In the end that man whom I love for 18 years evicted me without any notice from his heart, mind and life.  Just like that.

Yet I have to take responsibility.  I have learnt not to keep playing the victim.  I allowed it to happen, the emotional abuse, the lack of respect, the being shut out, not listened to, the feelings disregarded and mocked.  I sold into the romantic myth hook line and sinker and was prepared to pay the price however high.  Losing your identity, very being is too high my friends.  That’s why it took me so long to get over the divorce.  No longer a wife I didn’t know what I was anymore, that was my role, identity and life.  That family unit of 3 was my world.  We were going to grow old together.  That was the plan.  But as you know plans are for fools.  Life is what happens when we are busy looking the other way.  I think Lennon said something along those lines.

 

Let’s talk Hope

For Jade my beautiful adopted daughter

 

I am aware that my posts recently have been quite heavy all about depression, suffering, tears, cancer, divorce, heartbreak etc.  But to set the record straight my life hasn’t/isn’t just filled with misery.  That would have finished anybody off, even a tough old bird like me.  I used to be Jonathon Livingston Seagull, the rebel, black sheep, refusing to fit in, follow the crowd.  Slowly but surely I am becoming Jonathon again but an older wiser version.

Let’s talk hope because that is what has kept me alive and my daughter and the kindness of strangers and good friends which I can count on one hand that have stood by me and not dissolved into the ether.  And family of course, my family, not his.  They don’t want to know me, not even when I was supposedly part of the family and certainly not now.  I have no significance whatsoever, not as the woman in their son’s life for 18 years nor the mother of their first grandchild.  I am not important in my own right, as a separate being.  But that is fine because the best thing about the divorce is I need never have anything to do with them ever again.

Hope.  My favourite poem in English is by Emily Dickenson which starts, ‘Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all …’  Look it up, it is a beautiful poem and very meaningful.  I know it by heart and in my darkest lowest grimmest moments I recited it over and over again to remind myself that even this hell will pass though I didn’t believe it.

I tell you my friends out there across cyberspace and behind the screen, however bad it gets it will pass.  All things do, the good and thank goodness the bad too.  Time is your best friend.  And time really is a healer, cheesy but true.  Time brings about change.  Three things we can be sure of in this life:  Death, Taxes and Change.  Nothing remains the same, we grow old with time and constant change challenges us throughout our lives.

Survival of the fittest – those who can adapt to change survive those who can’t wither.  Have you ever read Primo Levi’s writings?  The Italian Jewish chemist who survived the concentration camp but sadly could not rid himself of the horrors and committed suicide by jumping down the flight of stairs in his apartment building in Paris?  In his writings about his experience during the Holocaust he said something along these lines, ‘The only freedom left in such horrific circumstances is how you decide to react’.  The ones who didn’t simply give up and lie down to die were more likely to come out alive, as he did.  Hope.

Hope and Love the most potent forces in the world.  Only hope and love can defeat Hate and Evil, put an end to hostility and war.  Words too.  ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’.  It is true.  Only when we start a dialogue, a genuine one, an open one can there be a possibility of peace in the troubled areas but those in power need to have the will and sincerity to want it; instead of sending youngsters to kill and be killed.  That I think amounts to crimes against humanity.  It is murder because you have actively sent them off to war knowing there is a high possibility they will die.  Some as young as 18 with all of their life ahead of them.

What inspired me to write this post was Jade’s comment about how my posts though full of pain endured still offers hope and that we can come out the other end, not unscathed but stronger and wiser.  Look, if I can survive all that within the space of a few years so can you.  I am just an ordinary human being, like you.  I have no secret powers, magic wand, formula.  I tell you the human spirit is resilient.  Courage will come when you need it.  When you don’t think you could possibly cope, you do, because you have to.  There is no choice.  Well there is.  The choice is brutal but a choice nevertheless: lie down and die or fight.  Fight and flight trigger when confronted with crisis, something that threatens your life, very being.  The will to live is very very very strong. 

Those who commit suicide must be in an extreme dark pain place where they see no alternative, way out, exit from their pain.  Some call them cowards.  They are wrong, I think it takes great courage and determination to extinguish the flame of your own life.  I am not advocating suicide by all means and those left behind have to live with that grief all their lives.  Others accuse them of being selfish but I think if you are in that much pain you are obviously not thinking straight.  If you have the presence of mind to worry about what it is going to do to your friends and loved ones then you wouldn’t be contemplating suicide or going through with it.  At least their suffering is over.  It is what they wanted.  We have no choice over our birth and family but we should over death.  Likewise with euthanasia especially as the person desires it.

Sorry I started off talking about hope and it has got heavy again.  But without the dark shades how can we see the light tones?  Without the stormy threatening clouds how would we appreciate the blue skies and sunshine?  Without despair euphoria?  Without chatter silence?  Without the shit in my life the new beginning?  Knowing who are the people who love me and stand by me come hell or high water, however difficult, crazy I got, how impossible?  I am blessed, beyond measure. 

Love and hope have kept me alive.  Not the love of a man which is what all the love songs on the radio glorified.  That love broke my heart, caused me to cry oceans of tears for 5 long years but no more.  Enough is enough.  It is time.  Family love, daughter, sisters; platonic love from friends and strangers.  Love from a stranger??  Any acts of kindness however minute is a display of love, of concern, of care, of wanting to ease your pain, of reaching out to another human being.  Empathy, compassion are under-rated whilst romantic love of the fairy tale happy ending kind is dangerously over-rated.  It is the biggest lie of all times, since records began.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that genuine long lasting love between the sexes and the same sex doesn’t exist, of course it does, I have many friends of whom I am very envious.  And I am very happy for them.  But it really is sold as the superior brand, that without it you couldn’t possibly be happy and fulfilled which is blatantly untrue. 

This post has been truly rambling and no doubt from a disturbed mind. 

Over and out Mama G.

 

patchwork

patchwork 
(for all those who live to fight another day)
nothingness hollow emptiness numbness
frozen murky grey confusion depression
misty sandy mirage flashes of the past
bits and pieces sewn into a patchwork
some brilliant joyful contented moments
others a paler shade of grey black blue
yet others turbulent clashing violent red
i see shiny multi-coloured quality street wrappers
floating in the air illuminated by a shaft of sunlight 
kids chasing them spellbound a magical moment
i remember going on the train to canton when i was 6
entering this dark spooky house lit by a lone candle
up the stairs where a wrinkly old lady dressed in black
lay dying my maternal grandmother but i did not know then
i am jolted back to the instant the boeing 747 landed with a bump
out of its metal belly spewed a chinese country bumpkin
in two black pigtails smothered by the london august heat 
welcome to heathrow your new life the year was 1969 i was 8
i see her wearing headphones in this language laboratory booth
repeat after me and that’s how my sister and i learnt english
and duely lost our childhood as our parents’ keepers
i am rudely awakened by vicious angry shouting familiar voices
it is not the melodic sound of dad singing after winning on the horses
nor the loving words of mum telling us to be careful when we went out
it is the heavy violent banging of mum’s head against the headboard
mum confronting him about the shanghai mistress his infidelity his lust
he hits back by threatening to kill her rushing back with a chinese cleaver
my superhero sis jumps in to avoid bloodshed while i cower under the duvet
i recall fairy godmother does not step in wave her magic wand make it all ok
the drama intensifies dad buggers off no kiss and make up no heart to heart
leaving in his wake a suicidal wife two unsupported traumatised teenagers
i remember thinking he didn’t love us enough to stay we weren’t good enough
i see two girls rushing home after school terrified of what they might find
if mum should have made good her threat what was gonna become of us
would we have to end up in a children’s home could we stay together
i see from the corner of my eye fairy godmother half waving the wand
mum pulls herself together after a good talking to from an old family friend
wipe your tears shelf the self pity your two girls need you to be strong
dad eventually came back with his tail between his legs mum took him back
fast forward 1980 i sit in a lecture theatre in cardiff full of nervous 18 year olds
true taste of freedom without the weight of ancient culture breathing down my neck
my feet metaphorically unbound an eye opener of how the other half lived
i was gobsmacked when my best friend hazel told me she was staying put
i assumed you went home after graduation that is what you do
by then i was addicted to my liberation not boxed in by somebody else’s rules
i thought up a cunning plan told mum i was off to hong kong to find my roots
that was the only way she would let me out of her claws not watch my every move
this time the boeing 747 landed at kai tak international airport with a bump
narrowly missing the high rise in kowloon welcome to 80’s hong kong
i see a 22 year old beautiful woman the world at her feet having a ball
charming her students though chinese like them she was very different
she didn’t walk the walk talk the talk like the natives but still cool and fun
enter the first boyfriend short overweight not brad pitt but heart of gold and keen
charmed her said nice things she’d never heard before like you are beautiful
put her on a pedestal she felt the dizzy heights from her throne she surveyed
all was good in her world she was loved adored free soaking it all in loving it
i recall in my mind’s eye a gorgeous bride in french plaits flowers in her hair
beaming with joy and pride in her plum coloured silk cheung sam
with the mandarin collar slits either side all the way down to the ground
clutching a bouquet of flowers it was her wedding day she gets the prince
determined to be married by 30 i made it with two months to spare
after we exchanged rings kees knelt on the grass i sat on his lap cameras flashed
it was the happiest day of my life for the first time i felt i belonged had come home
i remember moving into the first home we bought on the isle of dogs
a narrow town house on a square with open plan lounge and kitchen
two bedrooms and a box room we made into an office and integral garage
i see a woman lying in pain feeling fed up in a hospital bed
wishing the baby would hurry up her waters would break the labour over
36 hours later a baby girl is sucked into the world taking her first gasp
the father is beaming with joy the mother lies exhausted but proud
i have 1998 etched in my mind it was the year we had our best ever holiday
cape town gorgeous sunshine coastal drive ocean waves misty table mountain
kruger park elephants giraffes lions hyenas roaming the wild vultures circling
mei with her pink shiny barbie camera attracting unwanted attention
the guide and kees fighting off the baboon baring its teeth trying to get in
sleeping in cosy mud huts having barbecues out front putting sun tan lotion on
also the year it all started to go wrong at 36 i was diagnosed with breast cancer
i feel the huge hammer from the sky hitting me hard on my head like a nail
i lost my mind three years earlier let’s just put it down to workplace bullying
do you know that even happy life events like marriage buying a house
having a baby can be extremely stressful now my body was letting me down too
the worse was the not knowing torturous waiting endless tests needles
you run through various scenarios in your head best being no cancer 
worse was unthinkable and sod’s law the evil word ‘mastectomy’ resounded
i come to in a deadly silent room except for the machines beeping looked around
knew instinctively i was not back on ellis ward not enough beds for a start and quiet
no phone constantly ringing visitors’ voices nurses rushed off their feet bright light
i knew i hadn’t died gone to hell cos where was the furnace the welcoming party
my life hadn’t flashed before my eyes no light at the end of the tunnel pearly gates
a scottish male nurse appears like a genie this is the high dependency unit phew
soup has never tasted so good the op took longer than expected lost a lot of blood
i am minus left boob but replaced by brilliant reconstruction with implant muscle
less lymph nodes to ensure cancer hasn’t spread and additional scars front back
good news no further treatment needed bad news .5 cm of invasive cancer found
excellent prognosis nevertheless you are one of the lucky ones cho wan mmmm
who am i to beg to differ it’s all relative ain’t it i didn’t die it hasn’t spread so maybe
once is unlucky twice is careless especially as you can smell the finishing line
i’d passed the all important 5 year remission mark on the last strait to the 10th
i was getting too complacent just as you think it is safe to get back in the water
finally leave it behind the grey cloud hanging over the back of your mind
that’s be too easy wouldn’t it come on you are always up for a challenge
tough old bird survivor let’s see how far you can be pushed before you crack
God does not give you more than you can bear rubbish sorry He does
but what is the alternative lie down give up and die or shout bring it on
so what i lose my health hair i can’t swallow eat i am abandoned go it alone
i am in bed it is the afternoon but i have no desire to get up do anything
i don’t see the point makes no difference if i put the washing in now or later
i thought i’d be ecstatic the last day of my radiotherapy it felt a huge anti-climax
i believed i could slip effortlessly back into my old life of humdrum normality
how wrong my mind body soul went on strike shut down declared they’d enough
sulking pissed off the body assaulted poisoned the mind deprived the soul crushed
i took to my bed for 8 montnhs operated on sleep standby mode recharging
i am staring at a tall dark stranger who looks remarkably like my husband
he talks smells the same but i cant quite believe the words coming out of his mouth
they seem to take on a life of their own the sounds hanging heavily in the air
it feels like he is talking about somebody else’s marriage some other wife
who never made any effort in all the 16 years who made her husband’s life hell
it didn’t matter if she couldn’t help being depressed her cancer coming back
to top it all his business failed cos he couldn’t focus on turning it round he wants out
i hear a heart silently breaking the death throes of a marriage love strangled
anger what in all the 16 years of marriage not one single happy memory
i see a traumatised woman ripping out treasured photos from her white album
tearing them up scattering them like confetti on her wedding day
screaming there is no marriage anymore so why keep them
she wished for amnesia to wash over her blocking out i don’t love you anymore
i haven’t for 3 years i stayed waiting for you to change but now i know you won’t
i remember jumping into my red polo with early dawn behind me a broken woman
i drove to norwich having looked up the map a leap in the dark if ever there was
but i knew i was very unhappy i was dying inside i had to walk away or go insane
life hasn’t been one big bed of sweet roses in norwich the grass not really greener
i had no choice it was what i had to do to save myself from going under forever
i needed to get away from it all seek sanctuary a place to rest and heal recover
i had to have time for contemplation heartache for crying mourning self discovery
now what next brown cow who knows what tomorrow brings i don’t plan no more
i go with the flow embrace what life brings try not to sweat the small stuff
really in the scheme of things we are terribly insignificant a speck in the galaxies
our individual tragedies drama appear gigantic disastrous but they too will pass
despite the involuntary stay at heartache hotel regular custom at lonely hearts cafe
i would not swap a single piece of the patchwork of my life every bit a rare memory
every square rough or smooth a defining moment empowering me to go on

Poem a day challenge #7 delete

if it causes pain why hold on
delete
if it brands your soul why hang on
delete
if it eats you up why bite
delete
if it poisons your well being why hesitate
delete
if it suffocates why continue
delete
if it makes you feel less than human why permit
delete
if it makes you feel shit why admit
delete

Memory Lane

Happy Days

 (for fighters and survivors wherever you are)
Unexpected sunshine through clear blue skies
Dad pushing swing kid shrieking with delight
Elderly couple holding hands very much in love
Break of dawn stillness silence before the storm
Another stab at freedom happiness
Reprieve from hospital stays climbing the wall
Hairless angels of mercy watching life go by
Happy days again reasons to be cheerful many
Fight another day
Twittering birdsong rumbling traffic chatter
Baby’s cry bike blasting by drop of rain bouncing off my head
Alive did not vanish from operating table 
Nor perish from heartache struck by lightning
at the door of recharged life
The lady is not for turning full steam ahead on the mystery tour
Not doing xmas turn convention on its head
Flush brainwashing down the loo
Declutter people things 
Emptying mind of negative thoughts 
My way to the promise land free happy at peace 
Past self naive alter ego mistakes forgiven forgotten
What awaits the little crocodile clear cloud
As she thunders towards half a century on planet earth
Events defined but not extinguish her flame
No ignorant bliss awarded soulless living dead
Lifting head up to observe as a child
Who passes by why
Love of writing first took root not shy away from the truth

Silence

Silent response
Sole way of relating
Through shattered shards
Distorted fragments
Blurred reflection
Single beam of light

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