I was having an open and frank conversation with a senior police officer on the 2nd May and it was during this talk that he asked me if I was aware of any organisations that would have been able to support me during my ‘period of need’. Being as honest as possible I stated ‘no’. Of which of course came as no surprise to him as he was hoping I would prove the opposite of what he already knew. There re no male support groups I would consider even close to be able to use.
However, I was introduced to The Recovery Village who offer support for both domestic and alcohol abuse. Would it be too much to ask for our representatives, so called protectors and policy makers to do a little bit more that the bare minimum they are doing now? Could our English Government and social workers not take a leaf out our American friends book?
Anyway, I invited them to write a blog primarily aimed at my American readers or certainly to offer food for thought for my home readers.
Thank you Amy and Carlos….
The Recovery Village
Domestic violence and substance misuse are viewed by many as separate problems needing to be addressed in the United States. However, the two have a well-documented connection to one another — and in many situations where one is present, so is the other.
The Recovery Village is part of the integrated behavioral healthcare management company, Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS), and includes a network of treatment centers for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring disorders. Many people who come through the doors of a drug and alcohol rehab facility such as The Recovery Village have also experienced domestic violence, either as the offender or victim.
Connection Between Domestic Violence and Substance Misuse
Drug and alcohol misuse and domestic violence are extremely prevalent issues in the United States, and nearly half of Americans suffer from either one of or both of these issues.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 20 million Americans ages 12 and older reported in 2016 that they suffered from a substance use disorder. Around 2.1 million misuses opioids but the largest group was alcohol misuse, with 15.1 million people reporting they were addicted to the substance. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
There is information that backs up the link between domestic abuse and addiction to drugs or alcohol. Some of the facts that associate the two issues are:
Adolescents or young adults who were involved in dating violence within the past year are more at risk of having mental health or substance use disorders.
Teens who have suffered from dating violence are more likely than their peers to misuse drugs, contemplate committing suicide or regularly eat unhealthy foods.
Research from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) shows that substance misuse plays a role in around half of violent incidents between intimate partners.
People who were victims of domestic abuse are 70 percent more susceptible to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol than people who have not experienced dating violence.
On days when one or both members of an intimate relationship used drugs or alcohol, a physical altercation was 11 times more likely between intimate partners.
How The Recovery Village Helps
The Recovery Village cares about the mental well-being of its clients, which is why the rehabilitation centers provide treatment for co-occurring disorders, also known as dual-diagnosis. These could be mental health issues such as anxiety disorders or depression, or eating disorders. Through treatment for both addiction and any co-occurring disorders, people who have experienced domestic violence can find support and healing from these tragic events.
The Recovery Village understands the struggle of individuals who suffer from domestic violence because of the connection between that tragedy and substance use disorders. Because of that, The Recovery Village provides help for for people who recognize the presence of domestic abuse in their own lives.
While many signs of domestic violence might be visible primarily to the victim, there are some symptoms someone on the outside of the abusive relationship can easily notice. The Recovery Village wants to make it as easy as possible to identify these abusive relationships. If a friend, relative or other loved one is suffering from domestic abuse, they might:
Frequently make over-the-top attempts to please their partner
Explain cuts, bruises or other injuries by making up accidental injuries
Receive harassing text messages or telephone calls from their partner
Make excuses for their partner being verbally abusive
Get nervous or have difficulty talking about their relationship
Frequently miss social outings, school or work obligations
Show signs of anxiety or depression, including low self-esteem
Tell stories of times their partner was jealous or possessive
The Recovery Village’s associates are trained professionals who can help people suffering from not only substance use disorder but also domestic violence. These conversations could enlighten people suffering in these relationships or people who know someone in an abusive relationship, who know someone in an abusive relationship, which could lead to them seeking help for their issues.
The Recovery Village provides opportunities to open up about domestic violence during the rehabilitation process. One of the most integral parts of The Recovery Village’s addiction treatment process is the inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs. Whether it’s during a full-time stay at one of the facilities, or a weekly visit during an outpatient program, people on the path to recovery often receive support during individual and group therapy sessions. In these intimate settings, there are opportunities to discuss negative experiences prior to recovery or talk about any physical altercations with an intimate partner that continue to cause emotional distress.
I suppose now having returned back to work full time it would be reasonable to reflect on how it has gone so far. Futhermore, and this was good advice given to me, it should be worth considering those of whom are at a point whereby they too are thinking of returning or about to return to work.
Now I know I have previously written about returning to work when I wrote ‘The Philosophy of Returning to Work’. However, this piece is going to be less philosophy and more reflection. Or, to put it another way an ‘idiots guide’ to returning to work after a long period off.
Great works of fiction
Firstly, lets not be under any illusion when I suggest that you have been the topic of conversation at some point whilst being away. I can consider that I have been lucky in that respect as I was told by a number of friends that I was. However, what I found deeply amusing was that the stories about my absence were wide and to some extent quite entertaining. The reality is that there is only one factual explanation and it is you who has it. As a result I found (and still consider) it best that if people asked me why I had been absent I told them. Almost instantly, with the truth now being out from the’ horses mouth’ (so to speak) the more adventurous elaborations were instantly put to bed.
With this in mind, having returned (appearing unscathed) I generally don’t think people were too bothered about it all. One day I was away and the next I wasn’t. It was that superficial. That simple.
Was you away??
Interestingly I spoke to a colleague whilst sat outside the local Accident and Emergency department doors waiting for a ‘shout’. She raised a point that I have often thought but never really considered beyond the thinking part. She stated that in our line of work we can go for months without seeing specific people and when we do eventually catch up it may have seemed like weeks rather than months of absence. As a result, I suppose old un-concluded conversations are revisited and same old dilemmas are discussed. In effect, nothing if anything has changed. In many ways I had picked up where I had left off.
When you think about it it’s not just about you returning to work but it is also about allowing other people back into your life. For me the time I had off was a great period of re-evaluation and reflection. I had spent days deciding on what and who matters in my life and daily existence.
However, I had a ping of guilt when I returned and realised there were people I had forgotten about or had not given a second thought of. But the real comfort came when these individuals actively approached me in the corridor, staff room or even in the toilet and said how nice it was to see that I was back. That was a real warm kind feeling. These people of whom I had temporarily put to the back of my mind had put me to the front of theirs. For me this was the kind of welcome I felt grateful for. It was both kind and considerate.
It’s all so familiar
To date I have had no awkward silences or embarrassing avoidances. Indeed people know why I was off (either realistically or not) but either-way they knew I was off and now I was back. Just like before, people are asking for shift swaps or what shift I am on next week etc. In fact those ten months of absence may not have happened for both by colleagues and I. I was back to early starts, searching for a decent vehicle and attending a range of calls with people both new and old to the job. I still have the same dilemmas such as what to have for lunch or the fear of another late finish after a twelve hour shift.
Inwardly however, I am still able to chuckle at the patients who still persistently phone 999 for illnesses or conditions that do not come close to what I or others had suffered. Yes, the frustrations of the job had returned. But it was surprising to note how quickly it had returned yet also felt comfortably familiar.
Different strokes for different folks
It’s not just illness or circumstances that requires people to be away from work for long periods of time. I recall my first day as a qualified teacher after the summer holidays. As a new teacher I was excited about having my first form group and ready and prepared with my stimulating and informative lessons. However, in the classroom opposite was a (shall I say) more seasoned teacher.
Whilst standing in the doorway once the bell had rung she said how sick she felt. With concern I asked her if she felt well enough to be at work. In reply she chuckled ‘it is normal for all teachers to feel this way after the summer break’. In fact, she was right. As time progressed I too developed the sickening feel of returning to work after a holiday break.
The difference, however, from returning to work after a holiday break and a period of sickness is that following sickness you return when you are well enough to do so. In the teacher scenario you return when it is dictated so.
With this in mind my recent return to work was a better than that of a teacher but I had forgotten that. I was eager to return unlike many teachers who dread that moment.
Furthermore, depending upon your job or career path you may get what is known as a phased return. Whoever came up with this concept is a genius. For those not in the know, a phased return is allowing you to return to work on a slow and steady pace. For me I started on a couple of days a week on half a shift. After time both the days and hours increased concluding into a normal shift pattern.
I was placed with a paramedic I knew well and we were able to ‘chew the cud’ and talk openly and frankly about everything. For me it was a positive and welcoming return to work compared to the fears and intrepidation I had felt prior to returning.
What I am saying
I suppose that if you had found this page because you had googled ‘returning to work’ or you know someone who has been through a similar experience and knows they have to return my advice is simple. Just do it. Having a job to go to gives a person a purpose (I have never understood those people who refuse to work). If you fear returning because of what people may say or think the reality is that no one really cares. And the good people will be glad to see you back anyway. Furthermore, if you feel it is okay to do so, be honest about why you were away. It is better to lay those ghosts to rest but also to kill off the wild and fanciful stories that had been circulating prior to your return – regardless how funny they seem.
Like so many other bloggers I take great delight in hearing from my readers. For me it is not only an endorsement of what I am saying, but an appreciation of where I have come from or for what I have to say.
As a victim of domestic abuse and a life time sufferer of depression it becomes so easy to look inward for answers or reasons. And as many of us know this is often a difficult process to stop. Time and again (certainly in my case) I tried to understand why my ex behaved in the way she did. And time after time I found reasons or excuses for her.
I have agreed to Elena Perella posting a second blog on this page. Firstly, we all know that abuse is not a one-way street and although she explains her abuser’s actions it offers food for thought to the women out there. After all, my whole ethos is to get a greater picture of love, loss and abuse. And here Elena has attempted to explain from a female victim’s standpoint.
I certainly consider the last paragraph one to offer food for thought. Although there is never an excuse for violence within a relationship Elena offers an alternative view from a victims standpoint.
For both Elena and John it has been a brave step to share this with us. As we all know admitting there is a problem is the first step to recovery and I feel this guest blog has done this.
Violence against women: you, -yes, you!- can solve it.
Growing up wasn’t easy for John. He was constantly under attack from his parents, especially his mother. She insulted him, yelled at him all the time and beat him with everything she could lay her hands on. John cried and cried; and the more he cried, the more violence she used to make his tears stop. Anything John did, like coming home with dirty clothes after an afternoon spent playing on the street with his friends, was enough for her to give vent to her anger. His home wasn’t the only threatening place for John. When he went to school he had to go through the same treatment he suffered at home. His teacher was also a very dangerous woman. Everybody feared her, not only her students but the students of the whole institute. Everybody knew she beat and verbally abused her little students. Children, parents and colleagues knew and many were testimonials of those happenings, but unfortunately nobody ever took measures to stop her. She was afterall a teacher, thus with a status and belonging to the middleclass. Practically untouchable.
She yelled and beat her students constantly. For John going to school meant entering hell every single day, for five interminable years. He didn’t dare to talk at home about what happened at school. He was sure that his parents would think that he was making it up and punish him even worse. Fortunately John had a secret place where he could go and experience the peace he couldn’t find in the adult world: nature. Often John went to the beautiful hills that surrounded the village where he lived. It took only twenty minutes to arrive but it felt like it was a thousand miles away from the terrifying reality he was chained to. He walked and ran immersed in nature, between the trees and the rocks. He breathed deeply the pure air that caressed his hair, his face, his body. When he was at the top of the highest hill he felt free. He opened his arms and embraced life, receiving from that beautiful environment the love he deserved. He pointed a finger in the air to touch the sky, so blue and clean, a wonderful painting of perfection. Why couldn’t there be such of perfection at home? He cried and his tears found their relief in the silent passage of a flock of birds. Then he wished he could be one of them, to fly far away from the horror he had to go through every day, to reach destinations without the obligation to remain anywhere and be free to choose when to leave for the next adventure.
Nightfall brought him back to another reality. It was time to go back. Silently John returned home. Resigned to his terrible destiny, John grew up with a deep wound in his heart. The mistreatment he went through moulded him into a violent man. He lost his capacity to choose his reactions: wrapped in pain he became a slave of the toxic inheritance his mother filled him with. This manifested itself through a careless attitude towards himself and others, especially women. He was so scared of being rejected like he had been by his mother, that he unconsciously devastated and broke the relationships before the woman did. No matter how painful this was for him too, he couldn’t help it. He was program to destroy. He had forgotten to be free, forgotten what he had known as a child: that he had a choice, that things could be different. Would he remember it again?
If we really want to solve the problem of violence against women we must look at the problem from a different perspective, even though this isn’t easy. We, women have the power to give life or death to our children. When they are in our womb it’s we who decide what their reality will look like, because it’s we who pass onto them their lifeblood. If we don’t love ourselves, we feed them on our lack of love.
I should have written this blog three days ago as I returned to work following my period of absence. My initial feelings of anxiety had diminished as I had wanted to return to work several months previously. However, I think my anxiety had turned into trepidation.
I found it very strange that after entering through the doorway how everything was the same but felt equally different. There were new faces who looked at me with some form of inquisitiveness and there were faces I knew but carrying 10 months’ worth of stress and other work/home related problems. I was also surprised at the amount of people who were presently working their resignation. Indeed, it was a sad realisation of how much the job had changed for so many people.
I spent the previous day or so thinking and reflecting upon the events of the past few months and on how my outlook and views had changed. Initially I was both cross and disappointed with myself that I had not found another job. I had a realisation of how much my chosen career path had taken out of me to the expense of my health and family/social life. However, it is easy to reflect on that when the reality was that I was too ill to consider a new job.
Page or chapter?
I also considered how my worldly outlook has also changed. By returning to work I suppose a new page or chapter had begun and so reflecting on these new findings was right.
Conciliation of philosophy
It was during my time at university that I was introduced to philosophy. Admittedly it was political philosophy but I had caught the ‘interest’ bug and carried on reading all sorts of philosophical genre. As a result (and I am not selling it here) I came to realise that no matter what our thoughts or feelings are, someone somewhere has also thought the same things. I have found it to be both comforting and, if you like, an endorsement of my views when I have come across another thinker with the same opinions. I suppose it can be considered as a form of conciliation.
Feeling like a fraud
As I grew older I discovered that hitting rock bottom had different levels. To put this simply some bad days were better than others or lasted longer than previous feelings of hopelessness. Because of its irregularity I could not see the point or purpose of seeing anyone about it. Furthermore, the idea of an appointment system often let me down because by the time I had managed to make an appointment I had started to feel better. It made me feel like a bit of a fraud. In effect my health had literally gone awry.
CBT wasn’t for me
Time and again CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) had been suggested as a form of treatment. It came highly recommended and so I gave it a go but for me it didn’t work. However, whilst searching the internet I discovered that the psychologist who had invented it, Albert Ellis, had got the idea directly from ancient philosophy (Greek to be exact). Since reading about Ellis’s ideas I found that it matched up with Epictetus (AD 55 – 135) view of human weakness. Epictetus suggested that…
“Men are disturbed not by events but by their opinion about events.”
Perhaps my views of the world like Epictetus, had considered that our emotions always involve beliefs or interpretations of the world we live in. Perhaps, therefore, our interpretations may often be inaccurate, irrational or just simply wrong. And as a result, will make us emotionally ill or devoid of the things around us. Whilst I write this perhaps I can consider that I had a value system that put a huge emphasis on working and behaving to the best of my abilities. Perhaps I can now consider that this flawed belief system has put too much pressure on my simple and narrow shoulders. It is ok to be human and say; ‘I’m just not managing and want a second consideration’. I can now say that this is what I would happily except from others, so why not myself?
I am not finding or looking for a reason or excuse but perhaps our beliefs are ingrained from an early age and so become habitual. Would it be fair to consider that our, actions become so regular and habitual that they become comfortable or unseen in our day to day activities? Perhaps this is why people are generally uncomfortable about changing their life patterns or regularity. Taking a leap if you like. For example, people may not be able to cope after the pattern of a long-term relationship comes to an end. I know some of you may be screaming at me right now saying that this is what CBT encourages us to consider. But for me I was uncomfortable talking about this in front of people sitting in a circle. My main concern at that time was to just get out of there with my integrity intact. This is why I renewed my love for philosophy. Or to be precise my re-reading of philosophy.
It has often been suggested that our capacity to choose our paths in life is constrained by a great many things (genes, childhood, circumstances, wealth [or lack of], education and so on). But to a degree we can widen the paths we have selected by considering views different to our own. This ability can make us improve ‘our lot’ and open up our ideas and views with the resources we have to hand.
Epictetus put this simply by dividing life into two categories: the things we control and the things we don’t. We don’t control the weather, other people, our reputation, our even own bodies and health. But he considered that although we can influence these things, we don’t have complete control over them. The only thing we do have control over is our own thoughts and beliefs.
I would like to suggest that emotional problems arise when we try to gain control over something external – something out of our control. When I had hit rock bottom and felt destitute, I rested all my self-esteem on others’ views of me. This, of course, made me feel helpless, depressed and finally anxious.
My enlightened moment came one day whilst walking in the park. The end to this self-enslavement was to stop trying to manage other people opinion and views of me. Instead I decided to focus on controlling my own thoughts and beliefs. I knew my good and bad points and I also knew the facts behind a false allegation. I won’t say it was an instant relief, but it had given me the strength to return to work with a ‘do or be damned’ attitude.
Alas, I must confess that this makes it sound so simple. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. The problem is that humans are incredibly forgetful creatures. We might read a book or hear a revelation on the radio or TV and have a light-bulb moment, but then a few days later we forget and go back to our old way of seeing and doing things. We are creatures of habits. In fact Aristotle (384–322 BC) wrote:
“It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference.”
Every day, we have a choice to either reinforce a habit, or challenge it. The Greeks understood the importance of habits to the good life. Their word “ethics” comes from “ethos”, meaning habit and they developed some great techniques for habit-formation.
One technique the ancient Greeks liked to use is the idea of ‘maxim’. A maxim is the compression of an idea into a short, memorisable phrase, like “everything in moderation” or “look before you leap” and so on. Ancient Greek students would repeat these maxims over and over, even sing them, until they became neural habits, thus became expectations.
So how has this helped me?
Well the ancient philosophers enjoyed and encouraged other thinkers to keep a journal. As you know (if you are a regular reader) my blog became my journal. It outlined and tracked my progress. When I read many of my blogs back to myself I can witness the growing of my strength and understanding. This of course, has also been endorsed by other bloggers and readers who have also encountered their own difficulties and problems. It is not a measuring tool to compare our woes, but it has become a support structure for others to say ‘yes I get that, I’ve been there too’. Epictetus would have embraced this as he once stated; “count the days when you were not angry”. To be able to do this you need to keep a journal of some kind. A blog is now the ideal medium of which to do this in modern times.
As I write this I consider that our new-found philosophy needs to be more than theory, it needs to be practice too. Time and again I have found myself to be confident in the classroom, but a miserable shipwreck when it comes to practice. To put this simply you cannot get over your anxiety by holding a new view in the safety of your living room. I learnt that you need to go out and practise. For me it was important to take small steps first, like walking in the park, then the shops and finally back in to work. Can I therefore, suggest that every situation we’re in can be an opportunity to practise our new philosophy. Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), put it better when he said; “The Stoic sees all adversity as training.”
I have now realised that philosophy through CBT can heal suffering and perhaps save many lives. But it’s not the last word and it is not a wonder pill to be taken once a day. To use another maxim “no man is an island” I would suggest or even dictate to male suffers of anxiety and depression to get those tablets and embrace counselling. The offensive term of ‘manning up’ is not a philosophy. It is a dangerous, small minded point of view that has killed more than it has saved. Being a good person is the acceptance that sharing your pain or recovery process for the benefit of others is perhaps the best gift you can give.
It is amazing how often complicated things can become simple once you get an understanding of its concepts, flows or for that matter, formulas.
I remember a time whilst at school I was very distressed by the fact I could not get to grips with the concept of fractions. This fact was not helped by the poor and incapability of the specific teacher who appeared to take great pleasure in highlighting my inadequacies to the rest of the class. I can recall, with a great level of distress how he would make me stand up to answer fraction questions he would fire at me.
Well, I took the time one evening to sit with my adopted father who went to great lengths to explain, demonstrate and show the practice and understanding of fractions. The following day I attended the usual maths lesson, this time fully armed and equipped with my fraction formula. Much to the teacher’s frustration and I suppose humiliation I was able to answer his quick fire fraction questions with ease.
At the end of the said lesson the teacher asked me how I had ‘cracked it’ so quickly. I replied with the answer ‘I spent some time with someone who did what you were paid to do’. From that day forward, it was evident that both he and I never really liked each other much. I heard many years later that the said teacher eventually died from alcoholism. Let me make this very clear, it was not my fraction revelations that drove him to drink as I am sure (whilst I reflect on it now) that he had some form of drink problem way back then. The point I am making here is that his failure needed to be projected to some other place than his own. Perhaps alcoholism was his way of admitting to himself that he was poor at his job.
So how does the truth create hostility?
Throughout human history there has been a constant dialogue of struggles in one way or another. Even in our own life times we can identify some disruption or other based on the failing of minds meeting.
But, I wish to reveal a three-stage step to the discovery of truth. I recently came across a quote that seemed to offer a formula to understanding in the face of hostility
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)
For me this revelation seems to fit with every stage that I have challenged recently.
When I discussed the fact that men are also victims of female violence or men suffer with depression, I met three stages.
Firstly, there is an element of ridicule – “man up” or “don’t be so stupid”
Secondly, I have experienced hostile opposition – “how dare a male victim attempt to violate female territory of victim status”
And finally, acceptance as a reality – Letters of apology from specific organisations.
Historical example – Galileo
If I give the historical example of Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) you will see and understand that the modern approach to the truth has had a historical precedence.
In the Christian world prior to Galileo’s conflict with the Church, the majority of educated people subscribed to the Aristotelian view that the earth was the centre of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth.
Galileo decided to challenge these perceived views and argued that the earth was not the centre pin of it all (heliocentrism). Opposition to Galileo’s writings combined religious and scientific objections.
Galileo – Ridicule
Religious opposition to heliocentrism arose from Biblical references such as Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and Chronicles 16:30 which included texts stating that “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” In the same manner, Psalm 104:5 says, “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place.”
Galileo defended heliocentrism based on his own tried and tested observations of 1609. In December 1613, the Grand Duchess Christina of Florence argued against Galileo’s theories with biblical objections to the motion of the earth. Prompted by this incident, Galileo wrote a letter in which he argued that heliocentrism was actually not contrary to biblical texts, and that the bible was an authority on faith and morals, not on science.
By 1615, Galileo’s writings on heliocentrism had been submitted to the Roman Inquisition by Father Niccolo Lorini, who claimed that Galileo and his followers were attempting to reinterpret the Bible, which was seen as a violation of the Council of Trent and looked dangerously like Protestantism. Galileo went to Rome to defend himself and his ideas. In February 1616, an Inquisitorial commission declared heliocentrism to be;
“…foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture.”
The Inquisition found that the idea of the Earth’s movement… “receives the same judgement in philosophy and… in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith”.
Galileo – opposition
Pope Paul V instructed Cardinal Bellarmine to deliver this finding to Galileo, and to order him to abandon the opinion that heliocentrism was physically true. On 26 February, Galileo was called to Bellarmine’s residence and ordered:
… to abandon completely… the opinion that the sun stands still at the centre of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.
Silenced to no longer question
In essence, Galileo was publicly silenced by the authorities for speaking his view of the truth at the risk of imprisonment or death for holding heretical opinions.
Although Galileo attempted to abide by his restraints he could not resist speaking directly to his challengers in the form of writing. As a result, the Pope called Galileo to Rome to defend his writings. He finally arrived in February 1633 and was brought before inquisitor Vincenzo Maculani to be charged. Throughout his trial, Galileo steadfastly maintained that since 1616 he had faithfully kept his promise not to hold any of the condemned opinions, and initially he denied even defending them. However, he was eventually persuaded to admit that, contrary to his true intention, a reader of his Dialogue could well have obtained the impression that it was intended to be a defence of heliocentrism.
Galileo – suppression
The sentence of the Inquisition was essentially in three parts:
Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to “abjure, curse and detest” those opinions.
He was sentenced to formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition. On the following day, this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life.
His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.
Galileo – Self Evident
I suppose with our modern outlook of the world backed up with scientific facts we now readily accept the fact that the earth moves around the sun. However, we forget that to have established this truth an individual had to endure so much for what we now take for granted.
How does this fit with modern problems?
When I decided to write about my own experiences it came with some form of ‘shock and awe’. As I have stated so many times, there was and is very little published works of which I could compare my experiences with. This was as a direct result of social expectations. To clarify this, it was expected that to be a male you had to endure certain inequalities. Speaking out against this would ensure ridicule and hostility.
For example, when I asked for refuge against my violent ex I was faced with a brick wall of confusion. There was/is no emergency homes available for men because the perceived fact that male victims do not exist. By requesting help I was considered as troublesome because it flew in the face of established facts – of which are built on presumptions and not evidence.
I now know that I was not the only one to have experienced such negativity. The problem rested with the fact that victims were and are too scared to speak up. This created a feeling of isolation and vulnerability in a world that had collapsed within a moment.
It is only now by stating that I am recovering and survived that can I see the true cost of seeking the truth. It is expensive in more ways that financial. It tests your resolve, sanity and faith in everything you have understood to be right. By seeking the truth I was also searching for self respect and self worth. This is important because you need to know that you have a stake in a society of which you contribute to.
For me writing was my avenue of seeking these things. I have had to ask and look for answers and trust the judgements of those of whom matter. It is easy to say that I know there are so many other people out there seeking their own truths and understandings but it is a journey of seeking, fighting and accepting. Or to put it another way, ridicule, hostility and finally acceptance.
Every fight is worth fighting for if you know the truth is being suppressed and worked against you.
Talking about depression was also not perceived as being a manly occupation. Time and again I have heard other men talk about the concept of ‘manning up’. This in my view is a personal attack on the victims. It is wrong to refuse or accept the concept or fact that men also suffer with this debilitating illness. Just because men are not (and perhaps still not) encouraged to talk about it does not lesson the pain.
As I have stated in my previous blogs that if I tried to speak out or open up it was often suppressed or directly challenged. What made it worse was that it was not challenged by other men but by (certain) women who had claimed to be victims themselves. And here lie the similarities that Galilieo faced. He talked about a fact based on knowledge (and perhaps experience) and was suppressed by those of whom would lose their monopoly of power. I wanted and needed refuge in my hour of need. But because I did not fit into social expectations of victim status I was dismissed. In fact I am still awaiting domestic abuse support from the police six months after being promised.
The process of time
When being challenged with suppressive actions it can become exhaustive. Each minute can feel like a day but you only start to heal when know you are being listened to. Therefore, minutes no longer feel like days but finally feel like the sixty seconds it should do. This is not a quick process, like the formula states, but a time consuming, up hill struggle that feels as if you are stepping in uncharted territory. The fact is you are not, it is just that you have not met the other searchers yet.
#metoo – really?
I am all in favour of victims speaking out. In fact I encourage it. However, the recent explosion of victim status via the public arena of #metoo has completely missed the point.
A suppressed section of society is not allowed the privilege of being heard. Yet, so many victims are jumping on the bandwagon of victim status. I actually question how many of these ‘shouters’ as I should call them were actually victims in the first place. Yet, suppression has not allowed male victims to shout out about their victimisation for fear of ridicule or reprisals.
I hope that society will eventually mature enough to recognise that to be a victim does not require you to meet certain characteristics.
A self-evident society will and should accept that a victim is a person who has been subjected to an action or event contrary to their expected human right. Or a person that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment. There should be no pre-requisite of gender, sexuality, race or colour before you can claim victim status.
Like my maths teacher, he lost the upper hand when I worked out the formula. And here I have argued that the formula of truth does indeed come in the three stages as previously stated (ridicule, opposition and finally it is accepted as being self-evident).
This should be the Galileo status of it all making sense in the end. A victim (of anything) does not consider their status or position when they are taking a beating or being robbed etc. The future should now rid its self of the shameful act of ridicule and suppression. It is now time to embrace the fact that we are all responsible for the protection of each other.
I used to enjoy art at school. I must confess that I could never have claimed to be good at it but then by modern standards I could have been considered the producer of master pieces.
Even today as a middle-aged man I like to do the odd doodle, visit art galleries, buy nice prints when I can and so on. I even have Lempika’s iconic picture ‘The Woman in The Green Dress’ tattooed on my upper left arm. I’ve probably had it for about 8 years now and I still look at it with a sense of pride.
But what is art?
Well this is actually difficult to pin down. There are loose explanations around that still don’t make it clear.
I have often visited galleries, art shops or exhibitions and asked myself ‘how on earth did this ever get past the critic?’ Furthermore, how can a piece I consider to be poor demand such a high price when my GCSE masterpiece only made me a ‘B’?
When I do see something I consider to be ‘poor’ I develop a nagging concern that I am not educated or qualified enough to evaluate the work and so be unable to justify its worth. Of course, we all know that the interpretation of art is subjective, and this is why I cannot identify what is good art.
Denying questions is ignorance
The idea that the artist defines the artwork reduces the viewer’s involvement with the artwork and eroded the authority of the viewer’s perspective. In this belief system, the artist has the ultimate trump card: “you don’t understand.” Therefore, the conversation is over, the viewer hushed and finally shamed into silence.
In my view life is a subjective experience. And yet, we still trust in the ability of people to evaluate and share their perceptions in journalism, history, law, science and so on. It is the responsibility of the artist, the scientist, the lawyer (including the police and CPS) and the historian to convey an individual’s window on the world. Art is not a one-sided conversation, and it doesn’t help to continue acting like it is.
The art of words
If a piece of art genuinely moves only one person, it is still good art. The same can be applied to the art of conversation or the ability to write. If it moves many people, it might be great art. If it moves you only because you think that it ought to, then it is time to start thinking about why. This does involve an element of expectation of self-awareness and belief in the ability to people to be confident in their own perspectives. At the very least, it requires thoughtfulness.
So how does this fit here?
I have loosely touch upon this when I suggested that the art of conversation is still an art.
When I studied A level Law many years ago a key statement my tutor made was that ‘the law and its principles is open to interpretation’. The art is being able to understand, decipher and communicate back.
It is not an art to ridcule
Unlike the ‘expert’ artist, I feel it is immoral, wrong and dangerous to ridicule someone’s interpretation of what has been said or implied.
Like so many victims I have met the process of recovery is not just living day to day but to be listened to. The art for the listener is to pay attention, interpret and attempt to understand. It is not their role to criticise, ridicule or use it for harm.
Wittgenstein and the limitation of words
For many people (or survivors) their words are restricted by the Wittgenstein principle.
Wittgenstein’s work (Tractatus) considered the relationship between language and the world. He argued that the logical structure of language provides the limits of meaning. The limits of language, for Wittgenstein, are the limits of thought or the sharing of ideas or principle (aka philosophy).
There just doesn’t seem to be any logic
When I reflect on capabilities, why are footballers (or soccer to my American readers) paid massive sums of money to just kick a piece of leather around. Yet my Ambulance colleagues, who save lives on a regular basis, have to threaten strike action just to keep up with the cost of living? How is the value of their skills measured correctly? Is saving a life less of an art than kicking a ball?
I recently endured a series of programmes that awarded celebrities for being, well – celebrities. I witnessed how the artists were categorized and judged. In my view the winners were imposed upon the audience (who are very often culture obsessed) with deciding who is worthy and who is not. We watch people walk down the red carpet and listen to commentators judge their appearances and beauty.
I once fell into a similar trap many years ago. I was watching some award programme for authors and their books. The programme raved and shouted loudly about how brilliant a certain book was. Well with that kind of praise I rushed out the following day and bought a copy. Well, it was without doubt, one of the worst books I have ever read. To be honest with you I never finished it. As a result I have learnt to ignore these so called experts and develop my own thoughts and considerations about what I perceive to be right or good.
How is being quiet an art?
The art of being quiet is to allow the talker to create their own problems. These past few months I have come into contact with so many so called ‘professionals’.
During these many conversations I witnessed their art is one of self-indulgence and above all arrogance. Many of these talkers have spouted false statistics believing them to be gospel or as flawless facts. Yet, when challenged they see it as a personal attack and treat it as such. If a true believer has faith in what they have to say then they shouldn’t have to revert to personal attacks.
Just sit back and watch it all happen
The art of being quiet is to sit back and watch them dig themselves deeper. To give this an example, I have recently dealt with the CPS about how they consider every case on a case by case basis. I asked them to supply policies and precedence to show this. To begin with i did not question or criticise their statements. I didn’t need to because by their own words I found so many contradictions that it has now become impossible to ignore.
If you recall I used this same principle with social services which resulted in the sacking of one of their own.
I have discovered that if you remain quiet and let the fakers continue to talk they eventually get caught up in their own contradictions. Their ultimate shame is shown when they cannot criticise you anymore due to the recognition that they have been caught out.
He or she who shouts the loudest has the most to hide
Maybe the reason the abusers continue to talk when they know they are being caught out sheds light on a deeper human truth. Perhaps they overstate their arguments and lie to fill a void of unworthiness. Maybe we need to define abusers as the “other,” the lesser, the unworthy because we know following our own experiences that there is a definitive right and wrong, good and bad, and very often the weaker listeners fall on the latter side to believe the one shouting the loudest.
By definition, and my personal belief, the art of being quiet is just the ability to let the wrong doers express their interpretations wrongly. Often it warrants a greatness and appreciation for the beauty of staying quiet and buying your time rather than lowering yourself to their level resulting in a public argument. This allows you to own the power of their own downfall, either for the fake accusers, their departments or the subsequent offenders and abusers.
Remaining quiet does not feed their flames – They do it themselves
The art of staying quiet is the ability to step back and buy yourself some time whilst the accusers and their supporters dig their own graves. The real skill is to buy your time and choosing your moment correctly rather than feed their ego by counter arguing. Of course, it feels right to defend yourself the instant an accusation has been made. But if the abuser continues upon their own path to destruction it rewards you by witnessing the creation of their own endings.
Very often a change in your views or conceptions doesn’t actually hit you until something ‘clicks’ in your head. This is very much like the recovery process of which I wish to discuss.
Like the stages of mourning, there is a process that a person must endure before they can either move on or consider themselves cured from the grief that they had experienced.
5 stages of mourning
Put simply Kubler Ross and David Kessler described the five stages as; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But most importantly they are not checkpoints on a linear timeline.
Writing the sequal
Last week I had a chat with one of my potential publishers. It was during this conversation that I informed him that I had started work on a sequel to my book (which incidentally will be called Silent Story). Almost at that point I had realised that I had, indeed, moved onto a new stage.
In essence, I had stopped trying to work out why things had happened but had now tried to understand why things are the way they are. I was no longer a victim but a veteran with a story to tell with a benefit of hindsight. I didn’t have to try and understand why things were the way they were but to try and find a science or formula to share or to understand.
When I read and re-read my earlier material, I can see and hear the distress and pain that the events had caused. There were so many questions I was seeking answers for and it became a maelstrom of paths and directions I needed to venture down to try and make sense of it all. Yet my later writings were an attempt to answer those questions and to try and gain some form of perspective.
However, it is impossible to identify at what point this change happened. Like the mourning process I mentioned above it became organic and was a slow process.
But I will now argue that I am sitting comfortably in the recovery zone.
Several weeks ago. I asked if I could return to work but on light duties due to a back injury I sustained. Unfortunately for me there was nothing available, so I just came home and focused my working energy on the publication of my book. Finally, it was decided that I had recovered enough to consider going back to work (on a phased return). However, I had so much leave to take that it was decided to take some prior to my return otherwise I would lose it. So, as I write this I am coming to the end of a period of leave as opposed to a period of sickness. That for me shows a tangible example of recovery.
Ups and downs
A viciously intense roller-coaster of emotions and experiences is how most victims would describe their time spent with an abuser. You’d hope then, that once you break free of their grip, this unpleasant ride would come to an end…but you’d be wrong.
The ups and downs tend to continue long after you’ve left them behind, as if their poison still courses through your veins. Recovery from abuse is just like any other form of mental or physical recovery – it takes time and determination for the wounds to heal.
Healing the wounds
My research identified that abuse in all of its forms, affects so many people that it is too horrifying to comprehend. Yet, I have shown that once you leave the relationship the problems don’t just end there. Time and again in my earlier blogs I have demonstrated and highlighted the consequences of the psychological anguish. Physical assaults don’t just end with a punch or kick, they too become a mental suffering when flashbacks occur. It is similar to a pebble being dropped into a pond. The splash is all too evident, but the ripples are the consequence of that initial violent, penetrative action.
My dreams are no longer focused on nightmares but on future events and potential adventures. I now rest with an element of comfort that there is a strong possibility of a restful night’s sleep. This, only a few months ago was something that I had longed for.
Guilt, shame and blame
When I first decided to write I was instantly told by friends and colleagues that I was taking a brave but right step. Indeed, I was expecting some form of backlash. But (to date) I have not. I have had comments from around the world (thank god for the internet) that a majority of what I have written is what a lot of people wish they could say. For me it was the only path available to try and find answers. I searched bookshops and the internet for what I needed. And as there was nothing I decided to write my own.
For me I had lost everything in a moment and so I had nothing else left to loose. And with great confidence I can argue that it has been the best thing I have ever done. I have been able to address old issues, vent my anger and frustrations and reached out to people I would never have had the chance to previously.
But, like so many others I too blamed myself for allowing the abuse to occur and continue for as long as it did. Survivors feel guilty for not allowing their better judgement to take over. Unfortunately, I have also found that others blame the survivors for allowing themselves to be victims in the first place. These emotions increase the survivor’s negative self-image and distrustful view of the world.
My advice is that these criticisers should celebrate the wonderful life they have had. It is only luck that has protected them so far. Ultimately, luck does run out and it is the victims they will seek out for comfort and protection when their time comes. In my view life is too fragile to be complacent.
I am probably not qualified enough to comment about family members when it comes to my own family back ground.
I was always led to believe that family should stick together regardless of what has happened. Yet, in my case this was not the case.
My children have been fantastic. At no point was their loyalty questionable. Yet, my recovery process found the flaws in my (biological) father.
The knight in rusty armour
To put this simply, if I was not related to him I would not have had him as a friend. It was only the recovery process that allowed me to see things from behind a veil. I would never have a friend who would consider women as a tool for the home or a son as a meal ticket. But I was not being instantly dismissive of him as I gave him chance after chance. It’s just that I was no longer prepared to be taken advantage of, especially when he opted to be the heroic knight to a vengeful and bitter ex abuser.
My recovery allowed for me to put people in order of preference based on how they treated me. I was no longer grateful for a glimmer of recognition, but I felt that my worth was far greater than I was being afforded by him. Since writing my last blog I found out that he had suffered another stroke. Interestingly enough, my brother who had previously warned me about him was unable (or unwilling) to visit him and my father is fully aware that he has shot himself in the foot with regards to his relationship with me. It’s a shame really as I had spent 40 years trying to find him. But it was he who opted to behave in an unfatherly way.
Indeed a narcissistic ex-partner can be so persuasive and calculating that your own family will blame you for the breakdown of a relationship. But my father had equal knowledge of us both due to the time we had known each other. But a flash of tit and a wisp of blonde hair and I had lost him.
He who has the last laugh…..
But my recovery has allowed me to see them both for what they are. My dad is now alone, and my ex has a new prey. Well as the stronger person I wish them all the best when trying to either play the victim (again) or the superhero of nothing. I won’t say I am laughing but there is a slight curl in the corner of my lip.
The freedom of recovery can be both liberating and disheartening in equal measure and it will often shift back and forth from one to the other. For me the liberation came when I did not have to seek justification for the behaviour of others. It was a great weight lifted from my shoulders. Yet, this development came with the cost that fake dreams of happiness were just that – fake.
So many people wish for the 2.5 children, a nice semi-detached house in a respectable area with a nice car (or two) on the drive. The reality is nothing like this. To obtain a dream you often have to endure a nightmare and then there is no guarantee. It appears that behind every closed door a story is developing and it is often not the story the characters wish to play. The progression of recovery indicates that it is important to be happy with what you have and any positive developments just add to the pleasure. This approach just makes life so much easier. It is both simplistic and helps to avoid pain and disappointment.
The art of rebuilding yourself takes a significant amount of time. For me it had required the big step of facing my demons. These demons were the remnants of the abusive ex; the scars she had left and the false beliefs about myself that grew out of this experience.
Rebuilding is not a straightforward task. Some days it felt as if I was making leaps and bounds. But then it was often followed by days of not wanting to venture out of the bed of which mirrored the early days of my recovery. Alas, there is no straight answer to this. I found that elation and celebration often gave way to fatigue or loss of appetite. But sitting here, right now, I can see that these episodes are getting less and less with the realisation that things are falling into place now. Being and remaining positive is an exhausting occupation of which is great to have but tiresome to maintain when you have not fully recovered.
As I have previously said, I have looked back on previous blogs and noticed a shift in my approach to justice. Initially I was so angry and venomous about my ex that it was becoming all consuming. Indeed my focus had changed and I am glad it has.
I have come to realise that a person who does not wish to change never will. For her being abusive is profitable both financially and emotionally. If a person plays the victim they will get sympathy – that is until people get smart to their games. As you know it transpired that she had a history of such actions, and so it has come to pass that my fight could not be with her. My fight had to be with the system that allowed this behaviour to persist unchallenged and unhindered.
As a result I focused my attentions to the police officers that dealt with my case and the social workers that threw their weight around unchallenged.
Just a little shift in focus
This new focus has been more productive and has shed a greater light on the processes that are so wrong.
I know to the reader it may sound evil when I say ‘I am delighted that I got a social worker sacked’. It is a big achievement when the system is stacked against you. But, indeed I got one sacked. My recovery gave me the confidence to know that I was right about the injustice I had experienced. Unfortunately, I cannot name the specific social worker but when he said; ‘how dare I challenge him when he is a social worker’ it was like a red rag to a bull and I went out of my way to prove his unprofessionalism. But what came as a shock after the event was that he knew he was wrong and gave a false name to try and deflect what was coming. My recovery allowed me to challenge him and gave me peace of mind when I knew a corrupt social worker was now out of the system.
In fact my drive for truth, equality and justice has now put me on first name terms with a senior police officer at Worcester Police station. I am realistic in knowing that full justice may never be achieved but we have come to an understanding that a learning development is required by his police officers.
Again, I’m not out for early morning arrests or punishments. Time has allowed me to consider that my recovery is the knowledge that the next victim may have better treatment than I experienced. Indeed, the fight with the authorities and my ex is not over but I am seeing a realisation that what they (the police, social services and CPS) did was wrong. And I am starting to feel comfortable with this because the fight has come with a heavy cost.
Listen and be heard
My recovery and open, frank conversations has allowed me to know that she is being monitored about her future accusations and behaviours. In essence she is being watched. Perhaps, by being able to challenge pre-conceived ideas or measure the authorities by their own standards has made them sit up and listen. I knew I had been wronged and I was not going to let it go. It’s not about being pig-headed it is about demanding to be heard (even if I have solicited an interest from the press). To do this you need to have confidence and to have confidence you need to be on the road to recovery.
It is all too easy to beat yourself up and subject yourself to self-anger for overlooking things which are now plain to see. Of course, everything is clear in hindsight. I suppose this is why I set out to write in the first place. I wanted to be able to reflect on my own hindsight. But I also wanted to let other readers experience my hindsight and experiences.
These works have been my ability to shout and to point. My recovery has been the ability to do so.
Perhaps by now I have moved on. I am getting ready to return to work. I am planning a holiday of lifetime (of which was inconceivable until recently) and my future writing is now acknowledged to be from a different standpoint from that of the beginning.
For me the recovery has been a process of no return. Put simply I have learnt so much of which still needs to be developed. And so the recovery process will forever continue. Which of course is not actually a bad thing.
When I look back on the past few months whilst writing these blogs of mine I have come into contact with a number of people who wish to share their story with me. Some are deeply interesting and insightful. Others are shocking in their detail and then there are some that make you grateful for the honesty and frankness of their experiences. We really are lucky to have these kinds of writers around who are willing to discuss and share their experiences in the hope to benefit others. This is why, when asked, I was happy to share his story on my website.
One particular (new) blogger is Blithe Conway. For obvious reasons he chose to use a pen name. Blithe came into contact with me a few weeks ago now expressing his interest in sharing stories about surviving abuse and mental health. Of course, it has been difficult to suggest specific paths because each have their own, but I have tried to guide and suggest ideas and thoughts or which he has been receptive.
However, Blithe has made some magnificent steps to release some his demons in the form of writing them down. It has helped him by not only sharing them but to trying and get some form of understanding to what had happened.
At no point has Blithe attempted to proportion blame of which is deeply admirable. But his writing is frank, open, honest and deeply thought provoking about the society he lived in. He has discussed the persistent failings of the authorities who found any reason to dismiss him rather than doing the honourable thing and listen. But then this is not an unusual consequence of a fearful state.
I wish to share his story that he initially wrote in 2015 about his experiences of abuse at home and to see if I can establish more links for him.
Open up the discussion
Now, this is not just ‘another’ story. But Blithe has attempted to open up the discussion of abuse in the home and how it has affected him as a male. He has also taken the steps to suggest sensible changes in the law to not only protect victims but also to ensure that voices are never over looked or forgotten.
I am sure he won’t mind me suggesting that you contact him via Facebook (Blithe Conway).
Anyway, have a read of a link he sent me and send him your regards
When we read a gripping novel we are always keen to know what happens next. If you are a writer we are often perplexed about what to put into the next chapter.
Life has its similarities. Very often we don’t know what comes next. Even though we have some control over our lives many things happen because of consequences or actions of others.
Rolling with the punches
In my case I wanted to get some form of control back. The previous few months had been very much in the lap of the gods and I had to just roll with the events as they unfolded. Once one event had been concluded and I had brushed myself down it was then on to the next event.
As a result, starting again was the step I was striving for. I had lost my home because of a consequence of someone else’s actions. I became ill because of a culmination of events that I had not desired. And now, once the dust had started to settle life and its steps had become a little more clearer.
Can’t see the wood for all of the trees
It was only a matter of a few months ago whereby I could not see the woods for all of the trees. As a result I often (and still do) took a step back and asked myself the importance of each and every action I was going to take. For example, clearing my name was more important than considering finding a new home and so on. By doing this everything became more digestible than trying to tackle all the problems at once. This approach would have left me engulfed and certainly overwhelmed.
Looking back I can see now that the footsteps had become stepping stones that I would repeat if the past events (or something similar) ever happened again.
My first step was the realisation that something was wrong. It then led to keeping records and then everything else that followed from those moments. But what I am trying to tell you is that (and I know hindsight is a wonderful thing) even the greatest of walls that are blocking our paths can be chipped away to reveal new paths ahead.
For me, I knew I was in a relationship that was wrong. And to keep it in check I supported myself by considering how I could tackle the problems piece by piece. However, throughout all of this I knew that all the wrongs had to be corrected. Above to all I had to prove my innocents as this was the most important step to take. Once this was done everything else would fall into place. I always considered that the truth or the rightness will always shine through. But I now think this is a little naïve as I have come into contact with people who have had it a lot worse than I. And this is where perspective comes in. Although things were bad, they could always have been so much worse.
So what is my next chapter? Well taking back control gives you more options than you give yourself credit for.
Our lives can be complicated but they all boil down to simple things. For me (other people have their own priorities) it has been family, mental health, work and home. These are not in any particular order but each one has a special consideration that very often overlap.
Work has been at the forefront of my mind for a while. I have been torn between doing a job I have deeply loved but have also recognised the impact it had had on my health and family. My job left me tired and forced me to make decisions on my work life balance. Regardless of what people will say, working shifts covering seven days a week does have an impact upon family life and as a consequence, in the long term, creates issues with your health. As a result, I now know that something has to give. I am in the right frame of mind to consider finding alternative employment to now suit the new person that I now am. I don’t really want to go into the ‘what for’s’ as this has already been covered but I now realise how little value I was to the service I worked so hard for.
My biggest step was finding a new home.
A home is much more than a house. When we travel or commute we pass so many houses but each house is a home to someone. It is here that memories are made (good or bad). I do miss my old house, but it is only the construction that I miss. It was a very old house and the historian in me loves that kind of thing. But the ghosts within those walls would never leave if I had remained there. It was an unhappy house and so would never be a happy home.
For me my new home is a blank page whereby each stroke of my pen creates a mark of which can be shaped into whatever I want it to be. A new home doesn’t judge you on your past, but it wants to become a part of the family whereby it will be loved and taken care of.
When I first saw this house, I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight as I wanted to be as far away from society as I could be. I didn’t want a neighbour for as far as the eye could see. But living in the real world this would have been a difficult task to complete. But this house is rural and has a few houses dotted along its road. And that is forgivable especially as the views all around are beautiful. In the morning I am awoken by the horses playing in the field of which my bedroom over looks. But most importantly, it feels like a home. There is room for grandchildren to come and play and space for children to stay (although they are fully grown adults now).
The walks can be long with so much to find and discover along the way. But importantly, as this is a new start we are both getting used to each other’s faults (the boiler needs a PhD to work out) and I have my off days whereby I want to be embraced by its warm and comforting walls.
This really is a fantastic new beginning. With the comfort of having a new home my next steps are to tackle work and as a consequence I hope my health will improve. I think it will, because it has to. But a home is never where the heart is because so many homes can have negative memories. But a home is what you feel inside and where you feel comfortable within yourself. Whether this is a cave or a mansion a home can reflect where you want to escape to once the door is closed behind you. That probably doesn’t make sense, but my new home will not allow abuse or assaults within. It is a haven from all of those kind of things, because my experiences will never allow such nastiness to filter through these new walls.
I’ve had a thought. To be honest I’ve had this thought for a while. But I am considering publishing parts (or most) of my blog in book form.
Should I make what I have written into a book?
To date I have had one book published. And so I am aware of the errors and pitfalls that this process may take.
Initially, after good advice, I started to write these pages based on my experiences and (on advice) to help ‘get things off my chest’. It was probably the best thing I had ever done. I have had the opportunity to reflect, question, analyse and so much more.
It was all a new venture
As time passed I found that I could express thoughts that other people have tried to say but have not been able to. I wouldn’t say this is a gift, but it has been a privilege. I have found that I have said something and shortly afterwards I would get a lovely comment from someone expressing their thoughts. As a result, I have shown that in the darkest hours, I or we, are never alone. Indeed, the world is a big place but it can become a lot smaller when it has been broken down into smaller, common, communities.
In 1999 when I graduated from the University of Birmingham in History and Political Science, a well-respected tutor stated, “the past is another country, they do things differently there”. They are words that didn’t really mean much at the time. However, years passed by and I had not heard it again until recently when I heard it twice in one week.
Nothing is the same
Indeed, everything in the past is a different place. The language I spoke then was one of confidence whereby, I knew my place and felt (it now appears deludedly so) secure. I worked hard and felt there would be a mutual respect when the need was required. Each day had a meaning. In fact, everything has now changed. Even my home city of Birmingham has become unrecognisable following a recent visit.
Perhaps things are still a little fuzzy. Recent events are being draped behind an opaque blanket of rawness. But equally it has made me sharper and more sensitive. I have discovered that each day offers an opportunity of insecurity and the fact that the ‘carpet can be pulled from under your feet’ at any moment. Literally, life can change in the blink of an eye.
Yet, I have learnt that if you have a principle that you believe to be right, then it is worth fighting for. I have also learnt that a quick fix isn’t really a fix at all. The rights I have wronged were personal. I was attacked on so many fronts but held it together because I knew I was right. And indeed time has now furnished me with this fact.
I know people will say things behind my back but the simpletons in society love that kind of gossip, after-all soap operas are built on this simplicity. But I know the real value of truth and above all dignity. We are all deserved that at the very least.
Twelve months ago I often said that if you cut me in half it would say ‘Paramedic’. I loved my job. I adored the people I worked with and the responsibility that making quick decisions meant. When I had days off I always looked for an opportunity to do some overtime. As a result I was often told to take some leave because I never did.
In many ways I still enjoy being a paramedic. I am, at this stage, desperate to return to work. Yet I have learnt a massive lesson. It is indeed too much to be expected to be seen as a human. You and I are numbers. We have bank account number, national insurance numbers, even my driving licence is lettered with numbers.
Nothing in return
Whereby, I gave up so much for work the investment had never paid off. Time and again I had been overlooked for promotion (it transpired that a certain manager feared I would take his job as I am more qualified than him). The times I would go into work to cover any staff shortages are beyond counting. But in the blink of an eye I found myself expendable.
It may just be a coincidence, but I was sent a comment by a friend and the words rang so very true.
I think you find that it speaks for itself.
I have decided that I am going to work less. My job took over my life and so I now want to repossess what I had lost to a job that showed no value of me at all.
But why publish?
Everything I have said is nothing new. Following my choice to write about it all I have discovered other people all over the world expressing the same things. But prior to this I could not find anything to help me with my struggles or choices.
Yet here I was writing what I wanted to hear. I was taking a bold step to leave myself open and be judged. Interestingly enough I have made some amazing friends of whom I have not physically met. But equally I discovered who my true friends really are.
I feel after some consideration if these pages have reached out to other people like myself why should I leave it as a blog? Would I have found this blog when looking? I probably would have eventually. But accessing it in a book format would have made it better for me. And this is why I have considered publishing this blog in a formal book format.
I am under no illusion that much of what I have written will need to be re-written or even merged with other things but the content will remain the same. I want to tell the world what it is like to be a male victim of domestic abuse and the consequential mental struggles. I want the reader to know what it is like to be assumed guilty before being given the opportunity to clear your own name. And this is not happening in a backward country. It is happening in every street and every town in a so called ‘civilised’ society.