Friday, 19 July 2013

Bravery - Beechwood Cancer Care

As part of the process of recovering from child abuse I decided to have a naked photo shoot done. It was something I felt I needed to do. I had always planned to have a bump shoot done, but of course, didn't get that far. I never felt I wanted to celebrate after Joseph was born, I wish I had. When I look at my dear friend Kimberley's pictures I kick myself for not having done it when Joseph was small.

When I decided to get my kit off, it was important that it was more than just about me. I also wanted to support a charity. I thought long and hard about which charity to support. To me it had to be a charity that symbolised bravery. And it had to be an adult oriented charity. I turned to Twitter and was struck by Beechwood Cancer Care based in Stockport.

 When my mother had cancer, complimentary therapies, yoga, relaxation and spending time with other people on the same journey was essential and as instrumental in her recovery as the surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

I'd love you to give a little (or a lot) to this wonderful charity. For every £500 I reach in donation I'll post another picture, culminating on being featured on Naked Mums in September.

Having this shoot done was a huge milestone for me. Yuri at Urbanvox made me feel so comfortable, and it was actually great fun. 

You can donate to Beechwood Cancer Care Centre here.

Thank you

Sunday, 14 July 2013

10 Songs to Silence the Voices

One of the things that I have always turned to is music. When I was 6 my primary school announced they were going to have music classes, violin classes, but you had to sit an audition. I was terrified, I knew nothing about music, but I needed to learn the violin. I had this strong urge that knowing how to play music would help me. So I sat the exam. And I did brilliantly. I started violin lessons.

This piece, Bach Minuet in G Minor was the first proper piece I ever learned. I would play it over and over again, even now, although I haven't played in many years, I bet I could still get the tune out. Here is my list of the top 10 songs or pieces I turn to, and you can find the playlist here

1. Gopuru - Gurrumul

This song is just like a aural hug, the words are so soothing, Geoffrey's voice is just the most beautiful instrument I have ever heard.

2. Ben Harper - Whipping Boy

The first time I heard this song was in the 90s, covered by an Australian band for a tv mini series about a child abuse ring. It just really hit me in the heart, and when the voices are getting at me, it helps.

3. Johnny Cash/Marilyn Manson/Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus

It really depends on what the voice is saying and what mood I am in which version of this song I reach for. The Johnnyy Cash version is probably the most spiritual but when I really angry Marilyn Manson really works for me!

4. Tears for Fears - Shout

I have chosen the 2012 version for my playlist because its so powerful. I was 12 when I first heard this song. The lyrics really spoke to me. The abuse was just coming to an end, the bullying was at its worse, I felt powerless and a lot of the time scared and angry. "I hope we live to tell the tale" with "shout shout let it all out" on top of it just meant so much to me.

5. Electric Light Orchestra - Don't Bring Me Down

This is a really hard song to include on this list. ELO was played a lot in the abusers house and this song was played when things were happening. But for some reason, this song always helps. I think the driving nature of it just kept me going. But at certain times ELO can make the voice much worse.

6. Supertramp - Its Raining Again

This is another difficult inclusion, as this song was another from that era. I remember it most in the car, with mum and dad, and singing it always made me feel better. I do love songs where the lyrics and the music are a bit mismatched!

7. Sinead O'Connor - Troy

My sister introduced me to Sinead O'Connor, and I could have chosen many of her songs, but this one really does help, with its quiet beginning and reaching a stunning crescendo, then coming back down again.  One of the reasons I love it so is the orchestration. As a teenager I was in the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra and there is nothing so powerful as to be part of something like that, when you work as a team and create a wall of sound.

8. Hunters and Collectors - True Tears of Joy

This was my band, from the first time I heard the, Hunters and Collectors became the soundtrack of my life, I owned every album and ep, I went to see them 3 times in concert. This song is probably the most apt for me and silencing those voices, the lyrics are amazing. "your thoughts are scattered like paper everywhere tiny pieces of laughter and despair"

9 Bernard Fanning - Watch Over Me

I went home to Australia in 2006 and heard this song for the first time. The lyrics just spoke to my heart, and whilst this is  a prayer, its almost like a song to my nana. "Tell me you'll always be there to pull me free". There's also a special friend this song reminds me of to. "You brought me round, your humble way".

10. Black Sabbath - Anno Mundi

When I was at university my friend Amanda introduced me to the TYR album. Sometimes the best thing to silence the voices is a long, self indulgent metal track and this is the one I choose. Must be played loud and really give those voices a kicking.

What music silences your voices?

Saturday, 13 July 2013

I Have a Voice in my Head

I hear voices. But I'm not crazy.
The voice is relentless. When I have a flare up.
Most of the time its silent, but boy when it has something to say it just won't shut up.
"pathetic, you can't do this, you think you can get better, you think you can heal, but you can't"
"you are worthless, this was your fault. You deserved what I did to you, you are dirty, you are damaged"
"you can't achieve anything, I put paid to that, you will never achieve your goals you will always be a loser"
"you are a pathetic friend, a useless wife, a rotten mother. How could you even think for a moment you could have a family and make it work?"
"just stop kidding yourself, get a care job, go back to being a nobody, finish this now"

I told my therapist today about the voices. He said something that stuck in my head.
"stop listening to it, it has nothing of value to say". Nothing. Of. Value. To. Say.
I have been listening to the voice, thinking that maybe I can find some truth, something to help me.
He also told me something else. Most abuse victims hear the voice.
I am not crazy. I am not alone. I am, um er, normal. Well as normal as can be.

He told me to choose. To treat the voice like a bully. There is a time to engage, to fight, there is also a time to ignore.
He also told me to find balance, to find positive voices. Like my Nana. Her soft gentle voice telling me she believes in me. That I can do anything. That I can save the world, one heart at a time.
I can make a difference.
Today is the day.
Today is the day I tell that voice it has no place now, I know what its trying to do.
And it won't win.

I will win.

I am winning.

Saturday, 6 July 2013


Happiness is looking at my daisies in the garden.
Singing "hakuna matata" with my little boy.
Crocheting a blanket for my best friend.
Meeting work colleagues for lunch and having a giggle.
Reading recipe books and planning meals.
Walking to the park and patting dogs.
Reading a magazine with the cat on my knee.
Hanging the washing out listening to the neighbour's little girl giggling.

Happiness exists.
Where there is fear, and sorrow, happiness still exists.
Sadness and happiness are not opposites, you can be enveloped in one and still feel the other.

In therapy we talk about "self care". To me "self care" is about finding happiness, about keeping balance. Therapy is tough. When we talk about things I have pushed aside for over 30 years, its painful. Old wounds reopened, friendships I have lost, family relationships fractured, its very hard to bring those things out and deal with them.

It can threaten to overwhelm.

To me "self care" is making time for the things that bring me into the present. That remind me life, although its been hard, is unbelievably beautiful and happiness is all around.

Sometimes you just have to look really hard, dig really deep and ask for some help to find it.

Friday, 5 July 2013

On Being a Survivor

Almost two weeks ago I read "Jimmy Savile is Dead" to an audience of 500 people. The last two weeks have been tough and I really need to share my thoughts.

Being a survivor of child abuse
Means the childhood I never really had is never really over
Every happy memory has a sad one attached to it
I close my eyes I see things that stopped a long time ago
But in my head have never really stopped
Smells trigger me, the smell of cut grass in the sunshine leads to lawnmowers and two-stroke fuel, and those greasy smelly hands of him.
Lavender in my garden reminds me of nana, my safe place, my safe person, but she has gone.
Freshly baked bread, the farmhouse kitchen where I felt safe, but always had to leave, to go back home.

I keep busy, but I can't focus
I feel angry but I am impotent.
I cry, but it doesn't help, as no one truly understands
I want to talk to other people who can relate
But their own pain and suffering makes my own worse and the whole thing even more unbearable.
I try and hide from the news but it is everywhere.
I try and take comfort in my own son and absorb myself in him, but the fear of this happening to him just won't leave me.
His age haunts me, the age where I lost my childhood. 
There is no comfort in anything, everything makes me sad, or angry or frightened.
I still have so much fear.
Yet everyone uses words like strong and brave, and I feel anything but.
The person close to me cannot bear to be with me, there is talk of separation, of having time out.
There is so much to bear
And my shoulders aren't as broad as they appear to be.

 And I just really want this to be over now.