Papers, Memories & Being Believed

It’s nearly half nine in the evening. I have a million things I need to do. Sorting, packing and throwing; getting ready for my pending move. Only a week to go now.

I had two goals for the day: 1) go through my various piles of papers to decide what needs to be kept and what ought to be chucked and 2) go through all my clothes, shoes, linen etc with the same objective.

I’ve managed to do the first part. It’s taken me hours. Never realised how much paperwork I’ve actually got: bank statements, invoices, council tax paper, student loans etc etc etc. You get the picture.

Now the job wouldn’t be quite so hard if it were only those things to leaf through. Admittedly I’ve got a somewhat compulsive need to hoard bank statements, but even so I’m not really that emotionally attached to them. No, it’s all the other paper stuff that makes this job hard. The postcards, birthday wishes, letters, little notes. Those are the things I struggle to let go of.

I found a piece of paper from some years ago with lots of little messages scribbled all over; the remains of an impromptu game played with my sisters and co some years ago. The words in themselves neither grand nor particularly meaningful, but somehow I still find it hard to make myself throw this piece of paper away, because it’s attached to the memory of all of us sitting in the kitchen passing the paper round and round, writing those little messages, the sillier the better. Precious moments of togetherness.

Then there are papers which I feel I need to keep for other reasons..

Quite early in the day I came across the legal paperwork from the court hearing against my brother all those years ago. The two versions of it. One – the publicly available version – which has nearly all of my testimony and most of his blanked out – and the other, the one only I and my brother have the right to access, where the testimonies remain intact, carefully transcribed by the court clerk.

And, of course, I had to stop and read through them. Couldn’t just put them in the expandable folder without first reading them, despite knowing full well that no good would come from doing so.

I’ve not read them that many times; once when I first got them, just after the verdict was passed, and once again a few years ago when I requested copies of them. And yet, despite this, there are passages in there which I could easily quote word for word.

Having read through those papers I put them away, but – of course – the memory of the court hearing stayed with me. The feeling of not being sure whether or not I’d be believed by the judge. Not knowing how my brother’s repeated statement “I can’t deny or confirm. I don’t remember” would play out against my detailed, if emotionally detached, descriptions of sexual abuse.

The written word has always been very important to me. Ever since I can remember I’ve kept a journal, writing about my life, about the ups and the downs, the joys and the sorrows. During the court case one of my journals, a small black moleskin note book, was submitted as evidence against my brother. I had kept it hidden for a long time, this secret diary – separate from all my other journals and locked in a metal box so that no one but me would ever be able to read it. In it I had for the first time written down the things my brother was doing to me. It was written in code, a childish attempt at disguising who the abuser was. The code was of course easily cracked once the truth had come out about my brother and read like a memoir of abuse. It had never been intended to be read by anyone, it was just a way for me to try to deal with what was happening when I got to the point where I simply couldn’t keep it all inside, but of course the police, and later on the prosecutors, viewed it as a goldmine of proof against my brother. Some sort of physical proof of things that had happened. A paper trail.

Ever since then my journal writing changed. I still write as much as I ever did, but I write differently. The knowledge that what I write can have such an impact, can hold such power, has changed it. I often find myself noting down where I am or what time it is when I’m writing, almost as if somewhere at the back of my mind, I worry that one day this journal, too, will be read by someone other than myself; that accuracy will be paramount, lest I be thought to have made things up.

I’ve talked about this with A. in my therapy; this self-imposed obligation to express myself in a very precise way, to make sure that I don’t make statements I’m not entirely sure about. The fear that should I be found to have made a mistake it may also be assumed that I might have got other things, important things, wrong.

Of course Adult Me knows that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, that everyone stretches the boundaries of truth sometimes, and that doing so does not mean that nothing she says will be believed, but Little S.. well, Little S still fears that Adult Me might be wrong. And so, every so often, Little S goes to battle with Adult Me, and every once in a while Little S pops up in Adult Me’s journal, checking that there are no discrepancies, making sure that she could never be accused of making things up.

It can be hard, that internal struggle between Little S and Adult Me. It can be tiring, confusing and sometimes painful. It’s a constant balancing act, ensuring that Little S feels heard, while allowing Adult Me to move beyond the childlike constraints of Little S’s experiences.

Anyway, it’s time for both Little S and Adult Me to go to bed now.

We have a whole day of packing ahead of us in the morning.

Sleep tight!

xx

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Yahrzeits, Anchors & Remembering One’s Divinity

It’s been a year since my friend C. died. I still miss her and think of her every day, think of the way that she died, making that final choice to end her life. How lonely she must have felt in those last moments, because dying the way she did, it cannot be but a lonely death. A final act that you must carry out on your own, without any of your loved ones at your side.

I know the feeling. I’ve been there. I’ve made that choice, I’ve made it more than once. But each time the outcome was different to hers. Not only in the obvious way that I am still here today, despite giving it my best shot not to be, but also in what I have taken from each time I’ve survived. Each time I’ve failed to die – because, ultimately that’s what I did; I failed to die, failed my mission – each time it’s brought me closer to some sort of truth about myself and about life. It’s not always been a truth I’ve wanted to hear or acknowledge, especially in those very first moments when I’ve realised that this didn’t work, either. But even so, it’s something that lives in me, this truth, whether I acknowledge it or not.

Last night I lit a candle for C., a yahrzeit, and I said a few prayers for her. Despite being of different faiths, I know that C. would have wanted me to do the things and say the prayers that felt right to me. The ones that help me deal with losing her.

One of the prayers says, towards the end of it; “it is God who is her heritage”. And that really made me think. About her, and where she is now, about who is looking after her, and it made me feel better.

But it also made me think about myself and the difficulties I’ve had recently, trying to cope with the not-knowing surrounding my biological heritage. And it made me think about the concept of remembering one’s divinity; what it really means. How, each and everyone of us was created in God’s image. That all of us, because of this, carry a little piece of divinity within, and how that is at the very core of who we are. And although this thought does not entirely dispel those existential questions of who I am and where I come from, I do find it very comforting to think that I do have a heritage that I know of. And it’s not just any heritage, it’s the Heritage, the one that I share with every other person on this earth.

There have been lots of twists and turns in my life, many many ups and downs, and I expect that I will continue to be presented with challenges to remember my divinity, but in the midst of all that, there are two things that have always been with me: the wish to have children – to pass that heritage on, and my belief in God. Those are the two ultimate constants in my life.

Those are my anchors.

Have a lovely day, make the most of it.

xx

Who Is It That Can Tell Me Who I Am? – An Entry About Search For Truth

By virtue of being a self-proclaimed writer I also spend an awful lot of time reading, getting a feel for other people’s ways of expressing themselves. Also, reading has always been an obvious form of escapism for me, especially when suffering from the inevitable writer’s blocks that every writer encounters at one time or another.

Ever since I was very young I devoured books as were they the very essence of life. Food for thought, but also, nourishment for a starving soul. I had, and to a degree still have, the idea that within those pages of black on white there was truth to be found. Hints to the mystery of life.

I am a slow reader; painfully slow, if you ask some – but for good reason. I need to take my time because reading is for me not only reading, but it’s a combined experience of taking in what someone else is trying to say and figuring things out for myself, sometimes even applying new ideas to my own sense of reality and identity.

I have a tendency to read more than one book at any one time, partly because not every book fits every mood, but also so as to ensure that I don’t get too locked into one set view.

I finished reading a book a couple of weeks ago, Who Is It That Can Tell Me Who I Am? by Jane Haynes. And there was something about it that really touched me in a most profound way. I don’t think I could ever exactly specify what about it it was that so moved me, but I think it was something about the utter honesty and human vulnerability with which it had been written that somehow connected with something inside of me. It’s an enormously beautifully and elegantly written book, but there was something much deeper than just the choice of word, the turn of phrase, that did something for me. I don’t think I’ve even quite fully comprehended what myself. At least not on a conscious level. It is more an instinctive understanding that this was an important book for me to read, than actually knowing what about it it was that made it so important.

So, that, dear friends, is what I intend to ponder on my next lap around the library. I’ll let you know if I come up with something which can be coherently shared.

All the very best and more,

xx

PS. I love the King Learian title of Haynes’s book. How anyone could not love Shakespeare is beyond me.

Pain – An Entry About Truth

So this blog is honesty-based. That’s what it says on the tin. That’s the whole point of it. To tell it like it is, or at least what it feels like. For me. It’s the only story I can tell. My story. My version of the truth. And today.. well.. it feels like shit being me. Nails done and re-done five times still counting, new hairdo, new hopes, but still the same messed up me. Some things never change..

My little brother is getting married on Saturday. My little brother who I always thought I was really close to. Or at least closer to than anyone else in my family. The one I loved better than anyone else. But on his big day I’m not invited. Persona non grata. I’m sure there are a million ways to justify not wanting me there. In fact I’ve been given quite a few reasons. And maybe we’ll never agree on whether or not those are real, valid, reasons. It doesn’t matter. It still breaks my fucking heart to know that the rest of my family will be there. Celebrating. Having a good time. Together.
And I’ll be here. Alone.
Uninvited.

I made a choice last year. To do something for myself. To change a pattern that up until then had been repeated over and over again, always with the same result: me trying to kill myself. I made a decision that it was time for a real change, because it was the only way I could think to break the vicious circle I found myself in. That break included taking a step away from my family. Not forever. But until I felt strong enough to face them as honestly as I can muster. I needed time to learn to do things that are helpful to me rather than destructive.

I got back in touch with my little brother on his birthday in October. I texted him beforehand to ask if it’d be ok to give him a ring. I didn’t want to take it for granted that he wanted me to. Things could have changed at his end, too. But he said he did. So I rang. We talked. I asked him if he wanted to stay in touch. He said yes. I warned him that I have changed a lot in the time we’d been out of touch, that I won’t be playing games anymore, I won’t pretend that things are ok when they’re not. I won’t pretend that what my oldest brother did to me didn’t affect me. And I asked him again if he wanted to stay in touch. He said that he did, that there was no need for pretence, not with him. He could handle it.

And I believed him.

But I was wrong.
And it hurts like hell to realise that.

A part of me wants to go on and on and repeat all the reasons my brother gave me as to why I’m not welcome at his wedding. I want to poke holes in his reasons, because none of them make any sense to me. They are so wafer-thin they’d come apart at the lightest hint of a breeze. I want to rage and scream and kick and bite until someone, anyone, will listen. Will hear the truth. My truth.

But I won’t.
I think deep down my brother knows all of this. He must.
Or he is not the person I thought he was.

I have no idea how I’m going to get through the next few days. I have moments when I think I’ll be ok. And then something happens, something reminds me.
That I’m not wanted.

And my heart breaks all over again.

xx