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Love’s Gamble

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A Valentine Day’s Post: This is in special honour of J & A and all those who fear the courtship ritual of making the first move. It took J ten years (yes, you’ve read it correctly) before he plucked up the courage to even ask the beautiful A out.

I personally found it endearing and touching that it took J (who sang bass in the same choir as A) so long to pluck up the courage to ask her on a date.

 

We tend to say less when we need to say more

Talk about the mundane until it starts to bore

All that is hidden, all that’s left unsaid

The latency hides heartache, the fear, the dread

 

The weather then becomes the discussion du jour

Or the latest travel plans where it’s safe and secure

Our hearts in the meantime beat onwards regardless

Hiding unseen heartache and unfathomable stress

 

Do we bite the bullet, say all that’s in the heart

How do we find the strength, when do we start

Perhaps today, maybe tomorrow, or could it be never

One has to make the first move before a line is severed.

 

(C) Wendy Robinson All rights reserved

 

I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.

The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear. ~ Nelson Mandela

 

I hope you enjoy Kyle Richard Hudson’s  ‘Lost For Words‘ which compliments this post.

Kyle: I wrote this one about the experience we’ve all had of not being able to articulate the way we feel.

Please express your appreciation of Kyle’s work, either in the comments or on his video or better yet, subscribe to or share his video.

Thank you Kyle for sharing your song with us.

Disclaimer: My thanks go to the anonymous photographer, who has generously shared his/her online photography for gratis.

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Incy Wincy

He (maybe it was a ‘she’) appeared out of nowhere and dangled off the dashboard. The girly me gave a silent scream while being acutely aware that I was driving in traffic.

Fear begets more fear and the fact that he was waving a dozen (I know spiders only have eight legs but at that close proximity, it looked like double the amount) or so legs in all directions, captured my undivided attention.

Despite the mesmerizing rap dance, I had the foresight or was it fore-wisdom to glance up as the traffic had just come to a halt. Dread and rising fear drew my eyes back to the gargantuan arachnid, who had by this stage, decided to move up on to the top of the dashboard.

‘Kill it,’ my brain screamed.

‘With what?’ was my response, while frantically glancing around to find a weapon.img_6149

‘Why is there no hammer when you need one?’ I bemoaned.

It was launching forward and moving fast and was pretty much in sync with the traffic that began to move at a rush.

‘I can’t watch it and the traffic,’ my brain cried!

‘I’ve got to put a stop to this!’ I firmly decided.

Before you could say, ‘Charlotte,’ I hit it with my bare errr … gloved hand.

The body arched a little and the legs quivered as though it was doing sit-ups on a mirror, and then it stopped.

I had to refocus on the traffic although the feeling of dread remained.

At the lights, I glanced down again and realised he hadn’t moved. Although it was no comfort, I managed to get to my destination without further huntsmandrama.

Shuddering visibly, I then stared in fascination at the spider. I thought about a friend who hysterically abandoned her car in traffic when a huntsman crawled out from under her visor. To this day we marvel that she escaped being killed on that freeway.

imagesz1y4cklbA family member emptied almost two entire cans of pest spray at a spider that had the audacity to take up residence across the corner of the entryway door to her garage. After the adrenalin rush of that marathon effort, she frantically called for her husband. She found him lying on the lounge deeply engrossed in a book.

In between gasps, she related the entire, terrifying episode to her patient spouse. She repeated the drama just in case he missed the absolute horror of it all and then implored him to come and check if it was dead.

He managed to pry his eyes away from the book and quietly told her she needn’t have used one can, let alone two cans on the spider. All she had to do was to ‘nag it to death!’

Although all these true-life stories appear to be centred on the fairer sex, our tough male counterparts can be equally as vulnerable. A male relative has a deep-seated fear of spiders. Whenever he sees one, he quickly retreats to safety while calling for his wife to get rid of the pest.

imagesabjpxp6gA burly friend confessed that there was no way he could spend a second in the same room as a spider! This gentle giant calls on his petite spouse to eradicate the offending hairy, creature whenever he spies one.

While these plucky ladies DO rescue their men, I have one final story to relate. My usually calm girlfriend raced into the house when a huntsman (what’s with these huntsman or is it huntsmen?) rushed across the interior car roof TOWARDS her and nano-seconds after she got in the driver’s seat. She frantically grabbed the spray can from the kitchen and raced back out to the car. She was already late for an appointment and that spider needed to be dispatched to spider heaven quick-smart.

Peering into the open car door, she searched the interior roof with dread. With mounting fear, she wildly scanned the back seat and the floor area but there was no evidence of the creature. In desperation, she waved the spray can all around the car and shut the door. ‘Hope you DIE an agonising death,’ she panted in anger.

The toxic smell and the fear of meeting it face to face again was enough for her to ring for a taxi. It took her an entire week before she could get back into her car. She never did find a shriveled-up corpse of the huntsman.

Thank heaven my spider was only a daddy-long-leg and not a huntsman but as far as I’m concerned, a spider is still a spider.

 

(C) Wendy Robinson All rights reserved

September 2016

Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run,’ or ‘Face everything and rise.’ The choice is yours. ~Zig Ziglar

Is it incongruous that we, who are relatively large compared to an insect that is generally the size of the palm of a hand, can be reduced to quaking jelly when we see these creatures? Please feel free to share your ‘spider’ adventures with me.

Zoe’s Testimony

When I approached Zoe for a Q & A in-depth interview, I was quite prepared for a polite ‘no’ as I knew she was sensitive about the whole psychological abuse experience (See: https://wendyswrittenwords.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/your-muse/). Imagine my surprise and delight when she wholeheartedly agreed to it! I also told her we could skip questions she did not want to answer if it was too painful but she bravely answered them all.

Underlying this testimony is Zoe’s wish to help other women to recognize the signs and to find the courage to seek help as soon as possible.

Zoe has come to recognize the change in herself and is thrilled at how far she has come. I will admit, by asking specific questions, I, myself, learnt even more than what Zoe had previously shared with me. Bouquets to Zoe and I’m sure you will join me in applauding her for her brave stance and her candid and open responses.

Let me be clear on this: Zoe’s husband never physically hurt her (although he came close once) but, while isolating her from her loved ones, he mentally and psychologically abused her. He eroded the confidence of this smart woman and her ability to think for herself.

In respect of White Ribbon Day’s 16 Days Of Activism, I have asked Zoe 16 questions about her abuse.

  1. Could you give a brief scenario on how you met your husband and how long you courted before you got married?  I met my ex-husband 18 months before we married. On hindsight I should have seen the danger signs but as they say love is blind. I saw the very attentive attention as ‘love’ and not as a sign of a total control-freak. The controlling behaviour was a very slow process and as he always had a good answer if I ever challenged him, I just accepted it. On reflection I feel my professional status, working in the nursing field, worked against me and to his advantage as I looked for the best in him and always made excuses if need be. I also didn’t recognise the slow process of alienating me from my friends and family.
  2. Did you notice anything untoward that might have given you an inkling of his nature prior to your marriage or soon after? On hindsight, perhaps! Prior to our marriage, he was very protective and attentive; he would telephone, for example, if I’d been out to the gym, with friends or family, checking to see if I got home safely and would often ask intrusive questions. But it came over as being caring and just making sure I was okay. This was to be the trend for anything I wanted to see, places I wanted to visit or attend on my own, and even seeing my own sons and mum. Following the marriage the behaviour became more controlling! He went absolutely maniacal when I said on one occasion that I had been asked to go on a hens’ night for one of my good friends. This resulted in screaming bouts, saying I was being unfaithful in wanting to go on the night out. Immediately after, his behaviour changed and he became conciliatory and gave examples of the unacceptable behaviour of women out on such occasions; the motives of men towards these women and how vulnerable I was and how he was being caring only as a husband would be. He was convincing and manipulatively clever and of course I didn’t go.
  3. When in the marriage did he suggest you move overseas, away from all the people who love and care for you? Initially, he wanted to migrate to New Zealand. The move to Spain was a couple of years before I retired. We’d had many holidays on the Basque Coast, Spain and back then, he was always calm and fun to be with. He claimed that his dream was to move to Spain where it was calmer and more family-friendly and to engage in the Spanish way of life. It would also be fun to have our friends and family visit. We did move but the discussions of how our life would be, was just talk as he resisted friends and family visiting; monitored my telephone calls to family and friends; wouldn’t engage in the Spanish way of life and was very resistant to me trying to converse with our Spanish neighbours. His view point was that they should speak English and if they couldn’t, it was their problem. I was now becoming isolated!
  4. This is a pattern that psychologists speak about: a common pattern used by a controller to isolate a person. When did you first notice his controlling methods? I think I was always aware in the back of my mind and recognised his controlling behavior and his intention to isolate me but because he was so clever and always had a justifiable answer for everything, I would excuse it or overlook it. Here is a perfect example: After our marriage, we always ended up having Christmas on our own. He made sure it looked like I was having a holiday but the reality was, it was self-catering so there was no difference but just in a foreign country and well away from family and friends.
  5. Can you define or give three examples of his methods of control?  Quite easily! He would stop me seeing my sons and mum on my own; stop me meeting up with girl friends for coffee, lunch or a drink outside of office hours; monitor my phone calls to my family and even Skyping my family when we lived in Spain. If, for example, I mentioned I was having lunch with a work colleague, he’d ring me with some excuse that we needed to meet up at lunch time and I would end up cancelling lunch with my colleague. He would also criticize me when planting plants in the garden or pots or even when using a hose pipe as he would say that I didn’t know what I was doing.
  6. When did you start to fear him? We were invited to a BBQ with friends, but my girlfriend just didn’t know the ratio of vodka to coke so with all the fun and the food, my friend and I ended up drinking a bottle of vodka between us. The next day I was totally out of it but my friend’s partner came to our bungalow and apologised unconditionally and said it was my friend’s fault. This just wasn’t good enough for my ex-husband! After my friend’s partner left, he went into an uncontrollable rage, calling me a ‘piss head and a slut’ and saying it was all my fault. He then took some of my clothes and most of his clothes out of the wardrobe, took them into the garden and threatened to set fire to them, to teach me a lesson. I just cried and promised I’d never ever do anything like this again. He didn’t burn anything! But afterwards, if I ever had a glass of wine, he would remind me that I was to limit myself to just one more. He would justify his warnings by saying that it was all my fault and that he wouldn’t need to be like that if I behaved more responsibly and put him first.
  7. Did you know that you were pandering to his abuse?  Yes I think I did! It was all a combination of recognizing his behavior; thinking I was in love and thinking I could change his behavior.
  8. How long did you endure his abuse? I guess from the beginning if I’m honest about it, but love is blind as they say. I finally woke up and recognised what was happening. It was following a chat with my youngest son that I finally acknowledged that the way I was being treated was not normal. I was pandering to my ex-husband’s behavior and as a consequence, his controlling methods were continuing at my expense.
  9. When did you decide or realise that it was abuse? When we moved to Spain, his behavior changed dramatically! This was the wakeup call and I started keeping a daily diary because I recognised that there would come a point when I would need evidence to substantiate exactly how life was and how controlling he was. I still have those diaries!
  10. Did you try to contact your family at any time in that period? Contact with my family slowly diminished but I didn’t recognise that fact at first. It was so very sad on reflection. My ex-husband monitored all my calls and I didn’t have a mobile until I went to University. He probably, on hindsight, gave it to me to keep track of where I was.
  11. What made you decide to end the abuse? I kept thinking I needed to escape from the intolerable situation but each time something would happen and I would keep making excuses. Sunday morning March 8th however, was the turning point!

My ex-husband received a telephone call from his daughter and, although the conversation was nothing out of the ordinary, he moaned about the vegetable garden and plants. When the conversation finished he just turned and stared at me. He started screaming like never before! The veins in his neck stood out; his eyes were wide giving me such a scary look and his voice was clear and precise. He knew exactly what he was doing! He started screaming how much he hated me; he should never have married me; I was a bitch, ugly, not sexy or attractive anymore; that no one in their right mind would ever want me; he was angry that he was stuck with me and wished he had never come to Spain, let alone married me. His rant just went on and on and on until he was exhausted. I was extremely scared and frightened in the pit of my stomach and although I wanted to scream back and wanted to vomit, I just, as per usual, said nothing. I knew the next 24 hours would be hell in having to look over my shoulder and having to walk on egg shells. The following day, as is the pattern, he was calm and polite and life was kind of back to normal.

He decided in the afternoon that he wanted to go out for a drive, so that’s what we did. It was during the drive when I asked him if he hated me and whether the things he had said the day before, was how he felt. This was my normal patter! I guess it was my way of allowing him to make amends while also blaming myself and thinking the situation had to be all my fault and that I had driven him to it.

This time however, he did not pretend to make amends or say that I was mistaken about what he meant. He said, ‘yes,’ he meant every word he had said and, ‘yes,’ he hated me! It was the turning point….like seeing the light! My marriage was now over and I decided that there would be no more second chances.

12. What did you do? I told my youngest son, my only confidant at the time, and his advice was to plan my escape. He warned me that if I stayed, my ex-husband’s continual, emotional abuse would either destroy me emotionally or destroy my spirit, psychologically.

Planning the escape then became my main priority and it was essential to keep patient and have a proper plan in place. My freedom and my future was now in my own hands!

So, while I planned my escape, I also contacted a bi-lingual solicitor and she advised me to set the divorce action in motion immediately. I had to forestall her as I warned her that this would place me at mega risk if he had any inkling of divorce proceedings. She understood and accepted it and she supported me all through it.

13. How was the situation after your decision to escape? My home life became more intolerable. His behavior was now becoming less acceptable and I no longer could live with a control freak.

Here is an example of how he would behave if things didn’t go his way. He would throw himself on the garage floor, performing just like a spoilt child, by kicking his legs into the air and thumping his fists on the garage floor while screaming at me. All of this because he couldn’t get his own way and I wouldn’t do what he wanted me to undertake.

14. How did you plan your escape? As my sons would proudly state, I did the great, ‘Houdini’ by disappearing. I took the greatest of risks when I walked out while my ex-husband was in the garden. I walked out wearing old clothes, putting my pc and important documents in an old shopping basket. I put rubbish in a black garbage bag and told my ex-husband that I was taking the rubbish out to the recycling bin. On leaving the property, I quickly phoned a taxi and asked to be taken to the railway station, which I felt, was a safe escape route. I telephoned my son from the taxi and he cheered me on with, ‘Great mum and keep your head down! Come to London and I will look after you!

For 11 weeks my son slept on the floor while I slept on his bed. During that period, my ex-husband telephoned, threating to commit suicide; burn the house down; come to find me; but then he would act conciliatory by saying he would change and would let me live the life I wished to. All total crap…. he just wanted me back to control.

15. Can you give 3 examples of the psychological affects or trauma that followed after you left? Where do I start! There are so many examples!

  1. Example 1. Following walking out on my ex-husband, I returned to the UK and stayed in London with my son for the initial 11 weeks. I badly wanted to go and see my mum and physically show her that I was safe and just to have a cuddle, but I couldn’t risk it. Even if my son accompanied me, I knew my ex-husband would be nearby just waiting for my return, and that he would then follow me back to London and I would be in acute danger. This was psychologically traumatizing.
  2. Example 2. My new partner (whom I met years after) and I were just having a quiet drink together one evening when I accidently knocked a glass of white wine off the coffee table. I ran to the kitchen returning with a cloth and while on my knees trying to clear the mess, I kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please don’t shout at me! It was an accident, please don’t shout!’ My whole body was shaking and I couldn’t stop crying. My partner was bewildered and shocked and then came to sit by me to reassure me. This however made it worse as I thought he was getting ready to really explode. But he just spoke very calmly and slowly and when I regained some composure, I explained everything. He was horrified! It took me a couple of days to recover.
  3. Example 3. I had arranged to meet my partner after work as we were going to meet up with a friend in the city. It was our friend’s birthday and we had planned to eat and then go to the theatre. However, on arriving at the station, I took the wrong exit and got completely lost. I went into an uncontrollable panic as I knew we would be late. The more I tried to find my way, the worse it became. I was getting so stressed but I didn’t want to phone because I thought my partner would get mad with me. It was the old behavior pattern of fear, but eventually I had no choice and rang my partner. He just calmly asked where I was and directed me to his place of work. My stomach was just turning over and over while I waited for the rant, the screams, the throwing of the present etc., but nothing happened and I was instead, cuddled while he called a taxi and we met our friend. We had our meal but I just couldn’t understand or cope with the calmness and not being shouted at. It was all getting too much! I remember saying as the meal finished that I needed to go to the ladies, where I just vomited and vomited while shaking from head to toe. I couldn’t cope with the calmness and the serenity, and I was in total dread of the anticipated back-lash later. It was only on the following day that I told my partner and this was traumatic because I just didn’t know what his reaction would be. What a little dreamer he is! He was angry with my ex-husband but very reassuring with me and he made me feel safe. Once again, it took a couple of days for me to settle down and accept that life was ok and I was safe.

16. What advice would you give another woman who may or is already going through what you did? Advice here is really difficult because, when you’re in this situation, I feel that the only person who can save you is yourself! However, when you do make the decision to leave and follow it through, that’s when you’re most at risk. That’s because he no longer has control and that’s the very thing he wants and needs and he will do almost anything to try to haul you back into the web. He desperately needs to be seen as the stronger one and you the weaker one. What I have learnt is that I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been and I will never allow anyone to manipulate me ever again. I’m a whole person now and I appreciate life, love, friendship and freedom more than I have ever done in my life.

My ex-husband no longer has any hold on me, either emotionally or psychologically! It’s all in the past and yes, I’m one of the lucky ones!

Answering these questions has in a way finally closed the door! Why? Because I have beaten him at his own game. I’m a totally free person in my own right. – Zoe

© Wendy Robinson December 2015

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

My thanks go to Zoe for having the courage to share this with me and for agreeing to share it publicly.  

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