The past, is a place that I try not to go, well with a life like mine, it’s safer that way. Just occasionally, though, there is no escaping it. The TV may be my greatest companion, during the day, but, there is a danger, in watching the types of programmes that I enjoy the most. They fall generally into three categories: History, from stone age through to the end of world war two; Medical programmes, both real and soaps, often too close for comfort, but they say that there is comfort in the familiar; Police and murder stories, mainly the true ones. So which was it that triggered my problem? Well clearly not the history one, I’m not that old. Medical stories, often upset me, but not this time. So that leaves only one, it has to be the murder stories, but clearly, I haven’t been killed by anyone. What got to me was a story of a woman who put her trust in someone and even fell in love with them; only to find out later, they weren’t the person she thought they were at all. I had been in a relationship that ended only two months before I met Adam in a night club, and we started to see each other. At first I thought I was imagining it and I brushed it aside, but I had seen my ex in places he had no reason to be. Adam and I kept bumping into him, where ever we went. Then on the night we got engaged, one of my friends was chatting with Adam; he told him he was surprised that I had ever gone out with my ex, as he had been in jail for kidnap. He had kidnaped his ex-girlfriend because she split up with him, apparently, my ex had told him one night when he was very drunk; my friend, of course, assumed that I knew. I hadn’t known anything about it. He had always been secretive about that whole period of his life; there was just this void, that made no sense. When I pushed him, he got angry and abusive, so I stupidly chose to just ignore it. I once did speak to his mother about it, she too wouldn’t tell me, just said “I think it is up to him to tell you if he wants too”. We were together for just over 3 years, I ended it. Like most relationships, everything had been fine to start with, but his attitude and behavior changed, until one day, I couldn’t take anymore and told him to leave. He wouldn’t go, so omy friends Jake piled all his stuff in his van, drove the 30 miles to ex’s parents house with a message to tell him, never to return.
Adam and I had moved in together once we were engaged, but despite only telling a select few people where we were, he found me. He had worked for the electricity company and used their database to track me down. Just to let us know that he knew, he sent me a birthday card. Being stalked is an odd experience, especially as I now knew about his history. He stalked me right up to our wedding day, I didn’t see him that day, but others did. Some of my friends went as far as to stand guard, at our wedding reception, just, to make sure, he didn’t turn up there too. In the story, the girl in my position wasn’t as lucky as me, she didn’t land up married, she landed up dead. The programme was spookily close, thought, to my story; it was even set on the rock scene, exactly the group, both Adam and I belonged to at the time. Her ex also had a history of stalking, kidnap and violence, she didn’t know about. The whole thing was compelling and extremely upsetting. No names matched and the locations where different, but the narrative was too close to my truth for comfort. I had the feeling that someone had been writing my life story; with that standard line attached; “Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent”. If it had been fiction, I doubt that it would have got to me so much, but this wasn’t fiction, it was all true. I guess, it must happen to people all over the world every day, and it was just my turn, to be the innocent victim of a TV programme.
When I imagined being housebound, I always had this idea, that the past would be a place, I would spend a lot of time, but it hasn’t worked quite that way. Long before I had even met Adam or even the ex I just told you about, I started writing my life story. I had so much pain, and so much hurt to get rid of, that I thought writing it all down, might somehow put it all in perspective and help me move on. It was a very long a slow process, as I only wrote when I felt strong enough. I had told myself; that there was no point writing it; unless I was going to be totally truthful and included all the details, even those, I didn’t want to even think about. By the time Adam and I married, I had managed to get it almost up to date, I just had the last 8 or so years to go. Compared to the rest of my life, that part was a cakewalk, so I wasn’t too worried about dealing with it. Somehow, when you are happy, probably the time that we should deal with the worst aspect of our past, we ignore them and stay in that happy zone. It takes those bad days, for us even to start picking at past scars, once we have them open and they are bleeding, then writing about them is easy. About a year after my diagnosis, my writing was complete, but oddly, I didn’t feel any better. It was all there in front of me, but it was also all there inside my head, as big and as black as ever.
Once I was housebound, I sat and I read it all again and as I read, I made a point of firstly trying to forgive those involved in the bad things, and thanking those who made the good things. Clearly, I wasn’t doings so to their face, or even on the phone or in a letter. Some are long dead, and most, I wouldn’t have the first idea of how to find them. It was all done inside me, where the pain lived. I also did something else, I deleted each section as I went along, until there wasn’t a single word left. So OK, the memories, their stories and how I felt at the time is still here, but the power of those people, that they had at the time and still had over me, to that very day, was gone. I know that I have written about forgiving before, but not once have I written about the process that I used or how I made it work. There was something about that act, the deleting of my words, something I know is only a symbolic act, but that action, made it feel real and it finally did put my past to rest.
I honestly believe, that if I hadn’t done all of that, that my story today would be a very different one. When you have time on your hands, which clearly I do, the past does find ways of sneaking into your life. It doesn’t always take something as dramatic as a whole TV programme, just a few words, or a voice that sounds familiar, is all that it needed. Yes, I still have bad memories, but that is what they are, nothing but memories, just as they should be. I can though see, how someone’s life could become nothing but a mire of pain, one that is impossible to escape, especially if they don’t have anyone with them. We don’t exactly have a future, yes, we have years ahead of us, but that isn’t the same as a future. The future is an unknown happy place; a place where we all hope, that our lives will be better than they have been, no matter how good or bad, they have been. My future isn’t ever going to be that, my future, isn’t even going to come close to that. Once you are in my position; all you really have; the only place, where things were better than now; is the past; but if much of it wasn’t better, what you have is a minefield. It is all too easy to be somewhere wonderful in your head, then suddenly by accident, you fall in this huge pit. Those pits are still there, but at least now, they are lined with a bit of cotton wool and a ladder to get back out on.
It is a mistake, for anyone, to think that the worst thing has already happened to you when you became chronically ill and/or housebound. The biggest danger we face isn’t our condition, it is our own minds. You don’t even have to have a good imagination; if you own a brain; it has a million tricks, just waiting there to catch you out. I honestly believe, that part of the reason that I haven’t fallen into depression is my own personal awareness, of what my mind could do to me. My only defence is to try and stay one step ahead of it. To put my life, both past and present, into perspective and to do everything I can to keep myself safe from all those demons that could do me harm. I don’t have the luxury of a counsellor, or spending time with different medics, who can explain what is happening to me. I have only me to deal with the physical and the psychological, so I write. I never thought until I did it, that deleting it could have an even greater power. That programme; well; it took me back to a point in my life that held the most wonderful person, and maybe not the worst person I have ever known, but one of the scary ones. Luckily for me, I had Adam all the way through it. Going back there yesterday, didn’t leave me feeling scared, it didn’t even hurt me. I was as in control as I was the day that I deleted him from my life.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 05/11/2013 – The fix it
The phone call trail eventually found me speaking to the company who have the NHS contract for all equipment supplied to the disabled. It was a ridiculous journey through the web, which actually only turned……