Posted in Blog, Mental Health

It’s the Most Wonderfully Difficult Time of the Year

Christmas has been extremely difficult for me.

Filled with sadness, anger, violence, disappointment, and desperation.

This year I spent it with my girlfriend, just the two of us in our flat.

My fourth Xmas without my mother and sister. I tried really hard to get into the spirit of it all, wrapping presents, spending more than I could afford on food to cook a great (vegan) Xmas dinner, decorating the tree, obsessively buying more and more “little things” to make the flat more Xmas-sy. 

This year, I’ve also been volunteering with the recovery centre of a local mental health charity. I started a couple of months ago and it’s been an amazing experience. However, talking to the service users about their feelings towards Xmas is difficult.

A couple of weeks ago, a tweet by Sonaska a writer and designer fell into my timeline, retweeted by someone I follow:

You can also follow her on Instagram.

It was retweeted in relation to mental health at Xmas.

It’s tough being without family, watching everybody else excited to spend the holidays with family, eagerly buying loads of presents for everybody. It’s also tough when people send you messages hoping you have a great xmas with your family, unintentionally sending you back into that black hole of loneliness. 

Considering Xmas with my family was always so unbearable, if you think about it really, I’ve had a lucky escape. There’s no pressure for me to be anything other than myself, I’m spending it with somebody who genuinely cares about me and I don’t have to anticipate having a breakdown.

I also have to consider that I am blessed to have at least somebody to spend it with. Although the charity will be hosting a Xmas dinner at the day centre for the service users (and also arranging transport to the centre and back home), so that they won’t have to spend the day alone, it is still a reminder that there is no alternative for them (other than spending it alone), which is heartbreaking.

Therefore, although I spent most of Xmas eve sobbing into my pillow with multiple glasses of Bailey’s (yes I know you shouldn’t drink while on medication!), I worked to be thankful for what I do have: A home, a partner, friends, a career-plan and my sense of self. 


If you are still finding it difficult to cope, please reach out. The Samaritans are great listeners. With 1 in 3 people contacting them on Xmas Day alone you’ll be in good hands.

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Why Doesn’t Anyone Check In? Pt. 1

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been really struggling with my mental health recently, as well as battling an increase in seizures.

I found a draft post that I starting writing weeks ago and never finished, about sometimes feeling like a “Billy No Mates”. Some people put this down to age: once you start reaching your late-twenties/early thirties, existing friendships dwindle and it becomes more difficult to ignite new friendships (don’t we miss the days when you could just walk up to somebody and ask them to be your best friend? LOL). When you have a chronic health condition too, nobody really wants to be friends with you, when you’re the one who’s always cancelling plans at the last minute and aren’t really that much fun anymore.

However, although I can relate to both of these, I also think that I give off an impression that I can look after myself, so people don’t think to check in on me. I was discussing this in my most recent therapy session: I’m the kind of person who, if I know you’re going through a shit time, I’m going to check in on you. You need to know that you’re loved and I need to know that you’re still alive. But I rarely, if ever if I’m honest, receive the same back. Don’t get it twisted, I don’t give to receive, but when I’m hanging off the edge of cliff, I can’t be expected to save my bloody self really, can I?

In yesterday’s session I brought up my mother and my anger that she fails to check in on me, even though we’re not talking and this is something she actually failed to do, even when we were apparently close and was something I desperately needed particularly after my epilepsy diagnosis but I never got. At least my sister would check in to make sure I’d eaten, but my mother… nothing. If she heard from me, then that would be her confirmation that I was still alive.

Whenever I confronted her about this, her argument was that she knew that God was taking care of me, to which my response was, so does God relinquish your responsibilities as a mother? Sometimes, my therapist and I do role-playing in our sessions, where she will play the role of the person I have the conflict with, while I – as myself – take this opportunity to not only confront that person but simultaneously hear their point-of-view of the conflict between us. It’s also a great way of bringing past conflicts into the present and I always find this technique extremely enlightening. It went as follows:

Me: why don’t check in on me? It’s like you don’t seem to care about me.

Mother: Well,  you’ve always been really good at looking after yourself… and I just don’t want to look after anymore you because I’m tired of having to do it. I’ve done enough.

I often think that my mother was never prepared for motherhood and then being thrown into single-parenthood was just too much for her.

I often think that she never wanted to be a mother – particularly to me; it was a role forced upon her by her environment.

I often think that she resented and blamed me for putting her into those situations.

I often think that while I was the practice child, my sister who followed me was the one who received everything my mother could never give me.

Although my mother thinks that she took care of me, our perceptions of my childhood are complete polar opposites: I was consistently lonely and emotionally, psychologically and physically (denial of treatment for my epilepsy) neglected, forcing me into extreme survival mode, taking on the role of the parent for myself.

I’ve been reading a lot recently too, which I’ll get into more in a future post, but I just wanted to reference Halsey Street by Naima Coster, because without wanting to give too much away, like me the female protagonist is often perceived as this tough young woman who can look after herself, when inside she’s still the broken child crying out to be loved and like her mother who made sure that she was one to walk out on her family, mine always wanted to be the one who walked out on us instead of our father.

(Header image source) 

Have you been forced into looking after yourself and often find it difficult to balance that kind of self care with showing a side that people can reach out to when you need it? If so, I’d love to know how you deal with it in the comments.

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

What Do I Want, Like, Really REALLY Want?

Even though my sister and I haven’t spoken for just over four years, not a day goes by where I don’t think about her; sometimes it’s a song or film that reminds me of her and all of the memories connected to that come flooding back, overwhelming me with grief. For example, over the weekend I was making my girlfriend watch the “Twilight” film: for her it was the first time; for me it was the God knows what-teenth time. The Twilight saga literally took over me and my sister’s lives! We were both obsessed with Edward Cullen, while my best friend at the time was infatuated with Jacob Black, so my sister and I would cackle at how anybody could choose a smelly werewolf over an oppressively loving vampire (of course I realise now that Edward’s behaviour was borderline sociopathic, and he and Bella deffo had an unhealthy relationship…) and we would obsessively watch the films over and over again. There’s a particular song at the end of Twilight by Iron & Wine which my sister absolutely loved and hearing it on Saturday absolutely broke me.

 

Probably also because I’m forever reminded of her in my dreams, which could be why hearing this song affected me so. Sometimes I dream that I’m apologising to my sister for abandoning her; my mother in these dreams is crazy to the point of feral, while my sister is so stressed she’s become severely underweight. In most of my dreams I’m chasing her for her forgiveness while she ignores me, until recently actually: last week I dreamt that she wanted to come to my birthday party (my birthday was recently) and I told her no, because I only wanted true family there (my friends). This was the first time I’d shown any authority towards her subconsciously, which is symbolic because showing authority and standing up for myself against her in reality was one of the reasons why she stopped talking to me.

 

Considering I’m a Psychology student, I should probably through some Freudian theory into this: most psychologists believe that dreams are just random brain activity while sleeping, but Freud’s psychoanalysis on dreams argues that our dreams are symbolic of hidden impulses we desire to enact and while asleep, thoughts from the id (subconscious) slip into our ego (consciousness).

 

Growing up, my sister and I were extremely close however, we did fight a lot, mostly over banal things such as each other’s toys, but also because of jealousy – I saw my sister as my father’s fave and she saw me as my mother’s fave – while being played off against one another by our parents. But I always promised myself that we would never end up like our mother and her sister (our aunt) – who no longer speak to each other and haven’t for years – so even when I knew my sister was in the wrong, the majority of the time I would be the one to make up with her, desperate to keep our relationship in tact.

 

As close as we were and as hard as the separation is for me, (according to my mother – when we were speaking – my sister was also struggling with our separation, but where I’ve made many attempts to reach out to her, she has slammed the door in my face and hasn’t made any attempts to reach out to me either) I need to come to grips with the fact that we may never speak again. On the other hand, it has only been four years which in the grand scheme of life is not really that long, so there is still time to reconcile.

 

But do I really want to?

 

On Saturday as I was crying to my girlfriend and sobbing that I couldn’t take not speaking to her any longer, my girlfriend thinking that it was coming from a good place advised me to try one more time to reach out to her. So I did plan to give it one more go on Sunday (yesterday) by calling the house to speak to her while my mother would be out of the house at church, but then on Sunday morning I had two seizures and couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day and forgot about our plan until later on in the evening. The strange thing was, I didn’t seem to distraught about having forgotten about it.

 

I also religiously listen to Kelechi Okafor’s podcast called “Say Your Mind” and this week, during her tarot reading section, she talked about self-worth and knowing who should and shouldn’t be “on the [life] journey with you”. She advised that sometimes people leave your life for a reason and if they cannot see your self worth, then they shouldn’t be on this journey with you and this led me to reconsider my actions regarding my sister.

 

My sister doesn’t see my self-worth; she doesn’t consider my feelings; she only loves me when I’m being a “yes man” – remember she made the decision to stop talking to me after I moved out of the family home and growing tired of her shit and lies I finally stood up to her.

He was a good man

This is also the same sister who even though grew up in the same household of tyranny with my father, claims to not believe that I was sexually abused by this man because according to her warped memories, “he was a good man”. Her memories are extremely selective though, because she does appear to remember him beating us and shouting, yet I guess because he bought us nice things (while getting us into debt) he was a great father.

 

This post has been extremely cathartic for me actually, because now that it’s all written down, I can see our relationship for how fucked up it really was and I do deserve better. I was saying to my girlfriend today that I would never chase an ex, so why am I chasing after my sister? I have too much dignity and self-worth for that.

 

So bringing this back to Freud (I’m not even a Freudian by the way, however I do find his theory on dreams quite interesting) what could my dreams mean?

  1. Do they mean that I do desperately want to reconcile with my sister?
  2. Do I just want to speak to her so that I can tell that I deserve to be treated with respect, how she’s rejected me is below par and that I deserve more?
  3. Or is it just a whole load of random thoughts?

 

I’ll probably still grieve, because it’s a massive loss regardless of how fucked up the relationship was, and as much as I wish the whole science from the film: “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind” existed, it doesn’t. Therefore things are going to trigger memories, which I have to accept and learn to cope with.

 

As for my dreams, I am seriously considering hypnotism to get this bitch out of my subconscious, because it’s driving me INSANE!

 

On a serious note, as of tomorrow, I’ll be seeing my old therapist again. My lovely girlfriend has agreed to help me out with the fees and I’m putting my pride aside to put my mental health first. So this will definitely be something to focus on. Clearly there’s something deeper psychologically to this which needs to be worked on.

Perhaps I need to realise that me living my best live and focusing on that instead of being able to say this to my sister’s face is actually the best therapeutic fuck you. My therapist is amazing at what she does, so I’m positive that I’ll be able to move on from this loss, both consciously as well as unconsciously.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Exhausted

I am exhausted.

Being an introvert, although I do love to socialise, I find interaction with the outside world exhausting, which is a big part of the reason why I chose to do an MSc online as opposed to in a University with a building, where I would be forced to engage with people in real life. For me, there is nothing more indulgent than putting off my morning shower for as long as possible, so that I can sit in my PJs while I read a chapter for my latest assignment.

And I do love socialising, especially with the people I love, but it does drain me. Last night for instance, I went to Kent to visit my surrogate family – my Auntie (my mum’s best friend who is like a second mother to me), her husband, their daughter and nieces. I brought my girlfriend with me too and this was the first time they’d met her and it was also the first time I’d seen them all in almost a year. I love spending time with them – especially my Aunt. She and I have a very similar sense of humour and although she’s known me since I was 14, I think we’ve actually only really gotten to know each other properly over the last two or three years, when I moved to London and stopped talking to my mother and sister. Even though she was still my mum’s best friend and she loved my sister just as much as me, she never turned her back on me and I love her so much more for that. As a teenager she was also the only person who I could truly be myself with: withdrawn and broken, and it’s only recently that I found out that she’d been advocating on my behalf to my mother to renegotiate a proper relationship with me over the years, because she could see how burdened I was by the unhealthy and unbalanced relationship my mother and I had.

So seeing them wasn’t the exhausting part; It was the catching up, and filling in on the latest on my new relationship with my mother and the still broken relationship with my sister who still refuses to speak to me for so many unknown reasons, and trying to decipher why my mother is the way that she is… that was exhausting. I spoke to my mother just yesterday afternoon actually, because I was upset about something and needed my mum, but then I told her that I was going to see my Aunt in the evening and let slip that the last time I’d seen my Aunt was at her daughter’s birthday party last year, so I was really excited to catch up with her. Awkward silence, then my mum said:

Oh. You were there? 

I’d completely forgotten that my mother probably wasn’t invited because at the time we still weren’t talking and my Aunt wanted to see me so invited me over my mum. Plus we were meeting up without her again last night. Then I ended up leaving a conversation I’d initially started to make myself feel better by coming away feeling almost just as shitty, because my mum was clearly upset and I’d probably gotten my Aunt in the doghouse with her.

I told my Aunt about the conversation and she reassured me that it was fine, that it was just one of those things that my mum will have to get over. Plus my mum doesn’t hold claim over my Aunt. In fact, I probably have a closer relationship with her than I do with my mum, but I know my mum and I think she’ll hold this against me. In her mind, I forced her best friend to choose between her and me and and her best friend chose me.

My mum and I are meeting up next Thursday… it will be the first time we’ve seen each other in almost three years. It was a meeting I had to initiate because my mother lacks initiative even when it comes to her own children. This is what exhausts me the most and having to constantly explain this bizarre relationship that we have, where I’m now coaching my own mother on how to actually be a mother. When I asked her why she hadn’t yet suggested to meet up, considering we’ve been talking for a couple of months now, her response was:

Well I was waiting on you. 

I need my mum to prove herself to me, which she knows, but she’s sitting pretty waiting on ME to initiate our first meeting.

Thanks mum. Way to prove yourself there.

So my point of this story is that as an introvert, socialising is exhausting enough, without having to constantly drag around the baggage of my family.

My cousin and I now have a rule that when we call each other to catch up, we will no longer speak about our fucked up extended family and I think it’s brilliant, because we can focus on not only catching up but strengthening our sisterly relationship and getting to know each other deeper as well as having fun. I think this might have to be a rule that I bring in to other relationships too, because as much fin as I did have last night, where on the car ride home I was so happy I was singing at the top of my voice with my girlfriend sitting in the driver’s seat next to me (I never sing properly in front of people, I have intense stage fright), this morning I woke up feeling emotionally like I’d gone ten rounds in a boxing ring while having multiple seizures at the same time.

Sometimes it is good talk, but I’m now starting to realise that you don’t necessarily need to talk about all things, all of the time.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

My Mother & I… Freedom

After my last blog post which you can read here, I spoke to my mother and we finally addressed our past. It’s been a looooooong time coming. We finally openly spoke about what it was like for me growing up after my father left, but also what it was like for me before. While talking, it also dawned upon me that I never ever told her about the final conversation I had with my father on the phone and his final words to me:

You need to be an adult now.

Words that I had carried for twenty years. I didn’t realise the weight behind the meaning of these words, until I uttered them to my mother last weekend. My father wasn’t just telling me to be the adult, to be the second parent; he was telling me to bear the burden of his sins and to keep my mouth shut. For so many years, I blamed my mother for not being able to talk about what happened to me and for the memories that I repressed however, what we both came to realise in those words was that he was just as much to blame for both of us not being able to speak to each other.

Black women are burdened with carrying so much pain – it’s a curse.

15-beyonce-lemonade-screenshot-2016-billboard-650

(Image source)

I watched the visuals for Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade last night (finally (!) – if I’m honest, I’ve always been more a fan of her sister Solange – who to me was more woke and more real, however lately I feel like Beyoncé’s been calling out to me lol). The visuals are stunning, but the lyrics and the spoken word parts are incredibly more resonating, because she speaks about Black female pain and its curse – the curse being that we as Black women are never permitted to feel pain. This is why Lemonade spoke to soooooo many Black women.

The exclusive world premiere of Beyonce's 'Lemonade' on HBO

(Image source)

I’ve often thought to myself, why did B stay with Jay-Z when he treated her so badly? He cheated on her, he caused her such psychological stress that she had multiple miscarriages. There’s a lyric that resonates with me in one of her songs, where she sings:

Let me see your scars/ show me your scars

Again, this is breaking the curse.

Yes, she could’ve left him, but then they may never have addressed their issues.

She had to stay with him, to compulse him to address his own issues, and this would’ve taken an incredible amount of stamina from both of them. But especially her. And the fact that he submitted himself to her, considering where he’s from and who he is, is again breaking that curse and breaking down so many barriers here not just in relationships, but for Black mental health simultaneously. Hopefully, they have finally re-created a relationship where both man and woman are now on the same platform, where man is no longer above woman, where woman is no longer inferior to man.

And I really do need to write up my piece on the self-care event I went to (I’ve been unwell, so I’m behind on my tings), because this is one of the things we discussed, and it’s also something my mum and I discussed, and why she couldn’t permit me to talk to her about certain things, for so many years. My mother would shut me down when I tried to open up to her about what my father had done to me, especially so when I was older and the repressed memories began to resurface. In fact, when my father left I originally went to a family friend about the abuse, because I couldn’t talk to my mother.

On Sunday, my mother apologised for not permitting me to address these memories with her, because she acknowledged that she hadn’t yet dealt with her own pain. Through prayer and therapy, she’s now done that and I’m incredibly proud of her because she’s broken the curse in our family. Just like Beyoncé did. Beyoncé had to allow herself to feel pain that perhaps no woman in her family had permitted herself to feel before. This then breaks the cycle of the curse, so that her own daughters will go on to have healthier relationships with themselves, as well as their significant others.

My mother has now permitted me to see her own scars, which is something that has not been done in our family before.

My mother had, and still does have a terrible relationship with her own mother, because of this curse, because it wasn’t broken. In fact, they presently have no relationship. My nan carried her pain; my mum carried her’s; both refused to acknowledge each other’s pain and address each other’s pain, until it festered into an incredibly abusive relationship and now they unfortunately no longer talk. I’ve come to realise that this is not uncommon within Black communities.

Hopefully, my mother and I can continue to progress down this healthy road of mother-and-daughter-relationship.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Oh Mother, Where For Art Thou?

So I had a quick catch up with my mum last week afternoon and caught her up on my failed teacher training due to racial microaggressions, the bullies using my epilepsy as a scapegoat, and my subsequent suicide attempt. Fairly light afternoon mother-daughter chat. When she asked the reasons they had used to sabotage my reputation at work, I replied “well at first it started off as them accusing me of being late for work, then they started to say that I was aggressive towards members of staff. Have you ever known me to be late for work mum?” Without a moment’s pause, she replied no. However, when I asked her if she’d ever known me be aggressive, she paused, before replying:

“well maybe not aggressive but angry”.

We’ve fallen out over this before. She’s always perceived me to be an angry girl, however she’s never paused to think about the reasons behind it. I didn’t want to fight about it, so I just said to her “at work mum. I know how to present myself at work.” Her response was then:

“well I’m not there with you, so I can’t say, but I’m sure you are.”

How come you can say with conviction that I’m a punctual person when I’m not in your presence, but you cannot say that I know how to be a professional Black woman?

That’s what I wanted you to say mum.

It dawned on me that yet again, our parents are a generation that have been insidiously conditioned by white supremacists to think in certain ways about our Black actions.

Just because I may behave in a certain way in your home, does not automatically mean that I am the same person outside. Furthermore, you brought me up woman! You brought me up to have manners, to be polite, to act “white”around white people so as not to draw attention to myself, therefore that’s how I used to act outside (in the workplace).

At home, I was your angry daughter because I had issues with you, therefore if a group of white people in the workplace are then ganging up on your daughter and stereotyping her as an aggressive Black woman, alarm bells should be ringing in your mind mother.

And this is where I am yet again reminded that my own mother doesn’t know me.

My mother doesn’t even know that my favourite animal are owls.

Everybody who knows me knows this about me.

She banned me from having anything owl related in her house, because she thought that they were demon-related – especially so when Harry Potter came out.

Hedwig

So, after crying myself into a nap, I realised that things needed to change.

I messaged her, reminding her that the things that I was angry about, were reasonable things to be angry about, and I did not appreciate being labelled as angry for that.

This was confirmed when I went to see my Tarot Counsellor on later on in the week, Thursday. I’ve recently gotten into Tarot and astrology, because I follow my heart and not only do the cards give surprising readings; they sometimes confirm my gut instincts. For example, I had no idea that I would be speaking to my mother again – the cards read this, which was a surprise for me and after two years I thought that I was ready to move on, but it turned out that it was time for me to return on my terms. The cards also read some incredible insight into the broken relationship between my sister and I. You might be reading this and thinking this is all bollocks, but I’m not easily swayed either. I just follow my gut.

My Tarot Counsellor advised me that it was time to stand up for myself, because I already knew that the relationship between my mother and I was an unhealthy one, bourne down through generations of trauma. My mother was also a shadow who casts darkness over my light – in fact, nobody on earth makes me feel shitter than my mother and sister; nobody on earth makes me feel more like an outsider than my mother and my sister. My mother consistently acts like the child in our relationship, knowing that it puts significant strain upon me – both physically as well as mentally. She claims to care about my health, but it dawned upon me that we’ve been talking for two or three weeks, yet she hasn’t apologised for the fact that we haven’t spoken to each other in over two years, nor has she apologised for the vile things that she said to me. Whereas, I apologised during our first conversation.

So, I messaged her.

I wasn’t rude. I reminded her that I was her child and that if this relationship was to move forward, she needed to embrace her role as a mother. She should also get to know me, because she never had and she still did not. Those are my terms.

I haven’t heard from her since.

aa0d15d5ebb3ffd727c34836b0ab3c15ea29376d6cf01011958702e509e6aadc.jpg

It is what it is.

This time however, the door is still open on my side, instead of slammed shut like before, which is much beneficial to my mental health, as well as my physical.

And I’ve been busy making my family around me who know me and love me. I don’t need blood when I’m a Priestess and I’ve got options and acceptance.

XOXO

 

Posted in Blog

I’m Out, But I’m In It For Nan

I’m back!

It’s been awhile.

It seems that this is the year that I’m falling out with family instead of friends.

Unfortunately there have been ripples of tension within my extended family (my uncles). Therefore, I’ve been drawing away from them in order to protect my physical and mental health. During this point, I’ve been developing relationships with my youngest girl cousin – who has now become like a little sister to me – and nan, because not only do I love them unconditionally, but they appear to be the only people who actually care about my physical health. Even my nan at 85-years-old, told me off for not eating properly, because I was worried about her and she forced me to apologise to myself!

My cousin, her brother and I think my nan is being abused by my uncles and aunt, but unfortunately there is nothing that we can do because Social Services have now failed us.

An 85-year-old woman imprisoned in a bedroom by a mentally imbalanced daughter (my aunt). The house is in disrepair, my aunt is also a controlling hoarder.

My uncles are enabling it, and I suspect, keeping my nan’s finance’s from her.

But I’m just an “outsider” – this is what I got labelled, as well as a child when I called out my uncles and aunt, for their despicable behaviour.

All of this has had an effect upon my epilepsy, as you can imagine. Two weeks ago, there were a few days where I couldn’t get out of bed due to seizures and exhaustion.

The change in relationship with my uncles forced me to make a change in relationship of my own. I needed my mum, so I called her on Monday. I surprised even myself, but it was good to hear hear voice. And during this time, she’s being the mum I need her to be. She’s concerned for my safety, she’s concerned for my wellbeing, and most importantly, she concerned for my health.

It’s all I ever wanted.

I also came out to her, and she didn’t reject me. She was surprised, but not angry, nor religiously spiteful or spitting blood down the phone….

… Barriers are still up though.

XOXO