Scared In My Capital

Scared  In My Capital

Not knowing which direction to go to get from A to B and back to A again was infuriating, scary and bewildering because this was my capital.  The city that as a child I’d been brought to on numerous occasions for visits to the zoo or to shop at Christmas in around its centre.  This city which I as a parent had brought my own children now scared me shitless, reduced me a once confident woman into a quivering wreck.

How was I to know that visiting the city was very different from starting a fresh new life there? What possessed me a country mug or a culchie to move to our capital at the most insecure time of my life?  Why of all the jobs I’d applied for did I get accepted for this job in our capital city when the biggest town I’d ever lived in would just about fill one small corner of this daunting city.  Holy Mother of God what exactly possessed me to believe I a lover of the country side would survive in a concrete jungle and be contented to cycle to Bushy park or the Phoenix park to see the deer make their dawn crossing in majestic splendour.   Me who had lived on the outskirts of a village in what some would call a bush now well planted in Dublin in an apartment on the second floor with no garden to sit in during the summer.

Me who had lived on the outskirts of a village in what some would call a bush now well planted in Dublin in an apartment on the second floor with no garden to sit in during the summer. An apartment with a row of steep steps up to the front door which was yellow like Big Bird out of Sesame Street. These same steps became my garden on sunny days because I lacked the courage to go further than my work place which was the local shop.

Where were my peace and quiet gone in this mayhem of traffic, alarms and calls?  From dawn to dusk or beyond the city didn’t sleep but then again at times nor did I.  Wondering how to get from A to B and then beyond B but eventually back to A without getting lost. Yes lost in my capital which remained a  serious mystery to me.

My capital nearly got the better of me and I almost left after a few weeks but my job held me so I stayed.  Only venturing out that gate in front of the yellow door to go to work. My world was small, crushing me daily, sucking the life out of me as I was scared to venture further in case I got lost and had to ask a stranger for directions from beyond B back to A.

Who would have thought that I struggled with this fear from October until January?   But I drove around the city in my tiny car never asking for directions, relying on my book of Dublin maps. I and my red car managed to get to the other side of my capital daily through the Phoenix park in the snow and back to A again. But this was all in my insulated little world of metal. It wasn’t truly being out in the city.  But being out on foot would mean meeting people face to face, dealing with loud noises or invasion of my personal space. All too much for me to be dealing with alone but there was no one to walk with me, no one to understand the aftermath of my trauma which I had dealt with by attending counselling at the Rape Crisis centre.

My capital scared me shitless and I being me was going to conquer this fear by making a life for myself in this city which was the other side of the Richter scales when making comparisons to the small village I lived in and it.  This daunting capital where others found freedom, I found imprisonment. My home became one prison while the walk to and from my other prison was my exercise area.  This exercise area expanded when I purchased my bicycle and some freedom.

The city that scared me became a different place as I zipped around it early on Sunday mornings, meeting night clubbers going home as I cycled to forget the misery of what was now my existence. I wasn’t living so it was just an existence on the fringes of everyday life because most of my interactions were superficial,   There were very few occasions for focused interaction but by God, there was plenty of time for unfocused interactions.  Meeting strangers on the street, scared to even say Hello but wanting to say hello because this was an inbred form of politeness and I am a good girl who uses her manners.  But fear kept my mouth stitched tight for a long time and only then did I interact with those whom I met daily on my exercise route or in that second prison.

Our capital confused me because at times it was heartless while at other times it was the best warmest place to be.  How could I feel at home in a hot to cold back to hot running place?  This capital where I had to be content with parks instead of a garden to plant, dig or lie in.  This place where married people pretended to be single to get closer. But as big as this scary place is it’s too damn small to have affairs in so put back on your wedding rings and go back home to love your wives.  Oh, I yearned for fields of peace and quiet without all this confusion of infidelity.  Clapping happy people praying on a Sunday but by Monday creeping around again. This capital is small when your unfaithful but huge when you’re a scared culchie from the country who wants nothing more but to make a new life, so put back on your wedding ring and go home to love your wife.

Beyond the pale is calling, beckoning to me with sweet promises of fields, mountains and rivers: Freedom in other words.  freedom from the confinements of those prisons which were part of my life, both necessary to survive. One to live in and the other to work in.  The rolling mountains are now my exercise yard with its strong winds clearing my mind of all unnecessary clutter which drags a person down.  Cycling along the boreens knowing when I venture up to our capital it won’t be as a nieve scared shitless culchie but as a confident bubbling culchie who knows exactly where she’s is going to in life.

Cycling along the boreens knowing when I venture up to our capital it won’t be as a nieve scared shitless culchie but as a confident bubbling culchie who knows exactly where she’s is going to in life.  Experience changes a person and teaches them more lessons than any university can.  But that change has to be constructive or else it will be as destructive as Trump on twitter.

Dublin Yes Dublin I miss and love you and as we parted on good terms we can possibly be together sometime but for now, a day at a time is all I need to saunter up Grafton street or in around Moore street which is ever changing.

 

 

 

 

To fight back or not to fight back ???

To fight back or not to fight back ???

To fight back or not to fight back now that is part of the question. Your damned if you don’t and damned if you do so what does one do?  The rapist might want you to fight back to further his sense of excitement and heighten the thrill of the rape.  But fighting back brings repercussions for the victim just as much as not fighting back.

Nobody ever imagines that they are going to be raped or asks to be raped.  Rape, as I have said before,” is the total violation, invasion and destruction of one person by another be they male or female”.

In my 40’s I never dreamed in my darkest nightmares that I would be raped let alone raped in the place that I considered safe. My home the sanctuary we had created together to be happy in no matter what storms life brewed up on the outside.  But the storm brewed and simmered on the inside and over time it escalated until I was raped despite having obtained a safety order. A safety order which was explained to him by the Gardai after yet another visit to the house by them.

I didn’t fight back because like so many before me and after me in this same dreaded place or position I was filled with a massive fear of being beaten to death.  But I did keep saying NO NO NO.  You see without consent it was rape but the DPP decided there was insufficient evidence so the case never got to court.  What was I to do eat or beat myself up because I had not fought back and gained bruises or worse?  Nope, I did what everyone should do if they are subjected to rape.   Get help.  Yes, I sought and got help to rebuild my life until I got this strong to use my experience to empower others.

To fight back or not to fight back is a purely personal instinct/choice at that precise moment in time.  It’s a bit like fight or flight only with rape you can’t get away because you are pinned down.  Those who say the victim (a word I hate) should fight back need to close their eyes and imagine to the best of their ability the sheer terror of rape. And those who say a victim should lie still should do the same thing because both parties must realise that there is no proper way to react to rape.  Yes, we can lock our homes up against robbers but we can’t lock our vaginas up against rape unless we are anxious and the vagina stays tight.   But like the robber breaking into a house, a rapist keeps on raping until full penetration is achieved.  A rapist doesn’t care if they use the front or back door and I am not talking about the house doors. They don’t care if you are raped anally or vaginally and no you like me can’t have a choice.

To fight back or not to fight back still is the question. Who can decide, who makes the choice?  Damned if I can answer that one.

 

 

 

 

I Stood

I stood. Yes! I stood like a rabbit caught in front of the head lights of a car. A car which catches them unawares. Just as my standing there or even ending up there caught me totally unawares.

I honestly totally forgot about that road which leads to that particular cul-de-sac. In fact, I forgot that this particular road would bring me back to my destination. In my mind’s eye as I cycled I couldn’t picture the route until I reached that, yes! that junction. That T-junction which when I turned right instead of going straight lead me there.   I didn’t have to end up where I ended up standing, in all honesty, I could have ignored the opening in the road on my left and sailed down the hill and right past that place.  That place where so much happened. First happiness, but then sadness, terror and abuse.  But I looked as I was just about to pass. Looked expecting what or to see what I really don’t know. I don’t know what I expected to be there.

The first thing I noticed was the cattle grid was gone. The place where that dreaded slippy useless piece of metal was all cemented over.  Curiosity pulled me over that piece of cement because with the grid gone my bike moved freely to where I ended up standing. Standing frozen as if a statue of alabaster.  Did I think that because bad had happened me there the building would cease to exist?  But there it was that beautiful 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house. With its massive split level kitchen, massive sitting room and huge entrance hall. It still stood there as I now stood looking at it. Looking at the windows for what I don’t know exactly. Signs that I was never beaten or raped there because that was the house we had our wedding reception in and lived in for a short time.

I stood as if time stood still, never thinking of why I was doing this instead of cycling past this cul-de-sac.  It was as if by being there I thought I could rewind and erase it all. But, nothing can be rewound or erased because he did what he did and I now use this experience to encourage others to report abuse and rape by speaking about my experience.

I never dreamed that in my 40’s I’d be beaten and raped. But that’s what happened and me standing there staring at someone else’s family home can’t change a thing.

But I kept on standing. I stood there playing like a video our wedding reception and then the terror. Talk about examining two opposite spheres of a spectrum.  I stood there, just stood there looking as if there was going to be something to see. In my mind’s eye, I walked from room to room touching the furniture which wasn’t ours.  Only stopping when I reached that rooms door, the room where he raped me. You see despite the fact we were married it was rape because he never asked for consent.

I stood there suddenly cold and I realised it was getting late in the afternoon. The wind was gone colder and dark clouds were shifting over head. So I cease standing there and faced my bicycle towards the road back out of that cul-de-sac back on to the road I should never have left. No, No now it was right to stand there to face demons of the past down.  Now that road is just a cycling route past a place I used to live.

I stood there, I stood there for a reason.  I stood there as part of my healing ritual which only I can understand at times.  I stood there because despite the experience of that place I am who I am today.  I STOOD THERE knowing I’m stronger for sharing to help others get out of bad relationships.

 

Yes!  I stood there knowing that the house will exist long after my memory is gone or I have vanished off the face of this earth. I stood there for more reasons than you or I will ever know.

Standing like an alabaster statue dressed in cycling gear, hand on her racer to move on with life very positively and happy.

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Abolish Direct Provisin

Introducing cosmetic changes to the Direct Provision system will not be tolerated by the people in DP nor by their supporters. The whole system stinks and is held together by corruption as the pockets of lots of catering companies and building owners are lined every year. I am hazarding a guess that not one centre owner has ever spent a week living in a room in their own room under the conditions that the people living in DP have to suffer. Prisoners get early parole for good behaviour from prison and DP is a prison so I think the residents should be freed for their exemplary good behaviour. Children should not be residing in these prisons which the government calls “HOME” 

 

              Child of female prisoner

17. (1) A child, of less than twelve months of age, of a female prisoner, may be admitted to a prison and remain with the mother to facilitate breastfeeding until the child has reached twelve months of age.

(2) In the case of a prisoner who gives birth to a child during the term of her imprisonment, the child may be admitted to a prison and remain with the mother in prison, until the child has reached twelve months of age.[220]

I am not saying, separate families. What I am saying is abolish DP and bulldoze down every building so that they can never again be used in such a fashion for financial gain by so few from the suffering and misery of so many

Teenage Suicide

Suicide at 13 was no joke. But then again suicide at any age isn’t a joking matter and when I hear someone say ” I want to die”  my antenna goes up.  Nobody should be in that lonely place and position that they feel suicide is a better option than living.  Living a fulfilled should be the only option for us all but sadly the reality of life is that suicide exists and while we battle against it the number of victims soar.  Every town in Ireland has been rattled and plagued by the icy chill of suicide as young and old choose its eery call.

People whom to the outside world have it all, but what exactly is having it all?   Is having it all just about having what everyone else wants or what they think makes happiness and contentment.  Material goods don’t bring instant happiness, love and understanding to a person life when all they want is to be listen to, understood and to have their questions about what is a puzzle to them explained.  But families now never cease to amaze me when explanations are not shared with younger members because its presumed there is no need because they won’t understand or the issues won’t have any effect on them.  Untold damage can be done to our younger generations by leaving them out of the loop of family communication and presuming too much.

Never presume anything with children even when they become a teenager.  By the time they are teenagers all this lack of information about what should be their family life makes them feel alien from their own family and shoves them into a spiralling downward trend.  Because communication is not strong between them and their parents this affects how they communicate in the outside world.  The world where they struggle to find a place to identify with others.  But then again what is it they have in common with their peers when they can’t identify their own struggles.

Reaching 13 and struggling with the normal teenage anxieties plus a few other things thrown into the pot made me feel unable to cope.  Coping wasn’t in my dictionary as life was a process of getting up, attending school while trying to stay out of trouble.  But it seemed that no matter what I did trouble found me and it became my middle name.  Trouble, with a capital T it seemed followed me around no matter how hard I tried to please.  By trying to please didn’t work because I was compared to my siblings by teachers and my parents. But what wasn’t recognised back then is that each of us is unique and do everything to the best of our ability.  At times I overheard conversations about me and it wasn’t exactly confidence building to hear your parents say to each other they didn’t know what to do with you.

Entering secondary school should have been exciting but it was a minefield as teachers sang the great academic achievements of your sister in 6th year not realising that you just wanted the earth to swallow you up as yet again you failed tests.  All this combined with parents friends reporting your every move outside of the home and a home where nothing was explained about a parent’s mental illness.  An illness which shrouded the home like and invisible mist but which was clear enough for you to know this wasn’t normal.  What was the point of continuing to struggle under this weight when you weren’t even allowed to see the one boy who you began to see just because the parents considered him too old? Being 13 really was too hard and one evening I decided to show them all that the world would be a better place without me because I just wasn’t really needed, wanted or loved and had no purpose in the great role of life.  My mentally ill parent had a  stash of uppers, downer and balancers which I took to ease myself out of this shocking place, this place that at 13 I considered to be the loneliest place anyone could be.

Oh gosh! I was found slumped over my books as I had tried to continue studying and very fast everything was put in place for me to be quietly taken to Wexford general hospital in my parent’s car. Hush Hush we mustn’t let the neighbours know what she’s done now.  Funny enough years later at an uncle’s, funeral I discovered that my extended family hadn’t even been privy to the information of my overdose.  What a strange world we live in where suicide is not talked about because of the shame, stigma and embarrassment it carries with it  Let’s break the stigma of suicide and remember to tell everyone “it’s ok not to be ok”

Looking back now I see communication or lack of communication has a lot to answer for as has the way we communicate.  Communication on a superficial level is fine socially at events but among family members, it’s not good enough. Family members should know each other well enough to pick up when someone is contaplating suicide or is feeling so isolatated and low that suicide might become a better option for them than life.

 

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My Freedom Butterfly

“You see, butterflies are things of beauty and fly without being trapped.” – Bernie

“He wanted me to get a tattoo. I got one and he got angry because it wasn’t big enough. I found out that there was another woman who had a tattoo and he wanted me to be like her. There was a problem, she was petite and like a doll. Her style was very different from mine. I love my casual wear but he tried so hard to direct me towards heels and jeans with glitter and slinky tops. I began to hate going out, because what I wore became an issue and unknown to me, I was competing with a doll. The abuse was verbal, emotional and physical. I was told I was big, and the punches came when he wasn’t pleased with how I looked. Here I was in my 40’s getting another tattoo. He was adamant that this one had to be big. For me, it is big because the pain was bad. But he still wasn’t happy because it couldn’t be seen but I wanted it to be discreet.

I chose this butterfly, which I now call my freedom butterfly. You see, butterflies are things of beauty and fly without being trapped.
Once I reported all the abuse and my rape, I flew and regained my beauty by regaining my confidence which he had scraped away every time he abused me.

The abuse came in many forms and at unexpected times. My phone was checked when he thought I was asleep or I was in the shower. He shouted at me in public but strangely enough, people just walked by. I was called names and accused of not giving him money, even though I was paying all the bills and I gave him what I had. He threatened to cut me up and put me in the boot of my car, all because he wanted chipper food and I had no money to buy it! He urinated on me when I was trying to rest on my day off and then beat me for making the bed wet. Plates of dinner made artwork on the walls and to check on where I was he would ask me questions about something at home. A cream became his favourite item to question me about so I bought a second tube and carried it about with me always ready and gaining more freedom. He wanted control of me but didn’t want me, the person. He just wanted what he could gain from marrying me. I was a puppet in his agenda, an agenda which he had already got before even meeting me. Thankfully, I have turned my life around after getting help from Women’s Aid and the Rape crisis centre.”

 

Unconditional Love

The wound is open, gaping like a door open for all the world to see.  But the world doesn’t see because I smile.  I smile to hide the emptiness that fills that hole, the void left a crater on the ground.  But the ground feels no loss because it’s tough and solid. My heart sliced in five, one piece for each child. Four now adults while one stays forever a child playing in God’s garden.  The heart soft as putty in the window fitters hand flutters when the ears hear a child call, Mammy. Even after all these years and knowing their adult’s,  tears threaten to tumble because of a secret longing which lies deeply hidden in public.

A longing so strong that it’s stronger than any tsunami to hit this earth. A longing to feel arms around me, not just any arms but their arms.  The arms which stretched for me from when they were small with trusting eyes. Arms which wrapped around me even as we all slept.  The hands which mimed mine in actions throughout the day in the kitchen or garden, cleaning, baking, planting or reaping.

The heart pulses life through this weary body which just occupies space,  space which is filled with memories.  Memories which act as plasters but don’t hold the gaping hole together because it’s someone’s birthday  or Christmas and emotions threaten to send tears flowing.  Memories of life with them,  Them who are loved so much, loved unconditionally. Loved with each and every beat of this divided heart and breath I take.

They say time will heal things but time won’t heal this wound.

 

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