Not allowing myself to wallow

This blog is very different to my usual tone. I wanted to write about something that affects many of us.
In advance I want to apologise if what I write may cause offence to members of my family. It certainly isn’t intended but part of this blog will touch on personal issues.

Recently I’ve been unwell, a slight stroke highlighted some other problems, which hopefully are now being addressed. However the exhaustion & threat of losing my personal care has causes quite a bit of worry and stress.
Generally I’m still upbeat and positive but my mood is definitely slipping.

I live alone and because of previous life problems, including a 17 year bout of agoraphobia, the plight of those facing loneliness is always on my mind. I am doing all that I can to highlight the problem. I write a column in the local paper trying to address this serious issue. The difficulty that I have is that I literally feel their pain. When I see or hear someone who is alone or feel unloved, it actually hurts me. If I could, I’d wrap my arms around every lonely person, even the difficult and unlikeable and welcome them into my home. No one should have nobody.

I guess because of the time of year, the whole family thing is going round and round in my head, everyone is chattering about how many visitors they will be having and so on. Unlike many, I am fortunate, I do have family, however we are no longer very close and I have in fact lost contact with two of my sons and their children. I find this really hard. Because of the family situation, I spend most Christmases totally alone. I receive very few presents & only one or two cards from my family. I try to act as if I don’t mind, but really I do! It’s not the being on my own for Christmas Day that’s the problem, after all, it’s just another day. I don’t mind my own company. I have a good social life with lots of friends and lead a very full life. But Christmas highlights the separation between us. I don’t complain, you can’t force someone to like/ love you, even your own flesh and blood.

Everywhere you hear of families driving miles to be with or fetch their distant families, people will be getting together, maybe having a great time, maybe not, but at least they are together. I will be alone, like many, many other elderly people. Through my voluntary work in a charity shop I have spoken to many people in a similar boat. Several tell me that they have family that rarely contact them. I wonder why it happens?

Years ago it was accepted that families stuck together. Now through people relocating all over the country, even world, families are not as close knit as the were. Divorce/ remarriages have added to the problem. It is such a dreadful pity. Youngsters no longer have the security of the family elders ( often grumpy or difficult) but usually a source of love and comfort as well as knowledge. It taught older generations how to tolerate and accept the ‘batty’ great aunt or uncle with peculiar habits. Children were taught how to handle these situations, how to accept the differences between the generations. We played family games, knowing that certain elders would insist on winning, equally we learnt who could be relied on and who would help us cheat ( playfully) at times. A bit like Christmas Cracker jokes, memories of past Christmases can often be remembered with a groan, but we understood our place in the family, our role.

How will young children learn to accept and help older relatives if they are kept away from them? One day, they too will be the elders.

Of course there are a huge majority of families who take their responsibilities seriously and include the older family members, whether they are very fond of them, or not. In some families the elders are very much loved, important figures who are totally involved with everything. The children from these families will undoubtedly be more rounded in their attitudes to others.

Since the split up of families has become so widespread, many children will grow up without knowing their grandparents or Great aunts and uncles, maybe even their cousins. This is such a shame. It is a relationship that cannot be found again. Although there are many extremely successful step families, in most cases, somewhere in the background are the now unwanted relatives.

I’ve been as guilty as many others, having been short sighted about my children keeping in contact with blood relatives, when divorce caused separations. I believed, ( wrongly) that consistency, being only with my side of the family was less painful and less harmful for my children. I know realise how badly I got it wrong. Inadvertently I was teaching them that relatives could be dispensed with, or forgotten about. That was such a bad lesson to show them. It’s understandable that I have now become dispensable.

With my generation, we were taught to accept our responsibilities and would travel regularly to make visits, topping up with at least weekly calls. It wasn’t always convenient or easy, at times the cheerful, chatty banter had to be forced, especially as the years went by. Now that all of my elders are gone, my brother and myself are the new elders. He is fortunate that his family is extremely close knit, I’m sure that the family dynamic doesn’t always run smoothly but they get over difficulties and remain very close. I am blessed to be quite close to this side of the family and love seeing how the younger members are growing. My own relationship with my parents wasn’t always easy, in fact at times it was dreadfully strained but now I can look back over those times spent together and feel so grateful that I have those memories, good and bad.

In years to come, there is a real risk of family unity bepreaking down totally. What stories will the children hear from their rambling grandfather or funny memories of their fussy grandmother? Children are richer for having grandparents. The relationship is very different from the one with their parents.

Times have changed, I understand that, the clock can’t be turned back but I really believe that the younger generation will be losing out.
In many countries the elders are revered, known as a source of wisdom which undoubtedly can only be attained by age and has nothing to do with educational knowledge. Here we are frequently treated with indifference.

Most of us have past memories of times spent with our elders, doing things that our parents didn’t have the time or money to do with us. I am so glad that I have mine. I pity the children that won’t have that because their parents are too tied up with their own lives to include the nuisance older relatives.

I will spend this weekend alone, if I’m lucky I’ll get a few fleeting phone calls. I’ll sound happy enough and I won’t complain. I can’t alter their mindset, but deep down there will be a heartfelt sadness, not just for what I’m missing, more for what memories are being lost from the younger generations. Not just in my own family but in those homes up and down the country who have decided not to bother about the irritating oldies.

I will not allow myself to wallow in sadness, I will keep myself busy with one of my many interests, but not everyone will feel the same. I wonder how many tears will be shed? How many pensioners will be dreading the coming few days?
How many will only have a carers company for an hour or so?

Remember, one day, you too will be that oldie and without having anything to follow,there is every chance that you too will be left alone.
As I said at the beginning – No one should have nobody. None of us are islands.
We all need company, some more than others.

I hope that this gives food for thought. Make that unexpected phone call or trip, it may be an inconvenience but think of the joy that you could be bringing.

I wish you all love and happiness and hope that the coming year will b good to you.

Rosie x

How much had I been missing?

Today has been exceptionally good for me. I haven’t come into money, or met the man of my dreams, nor have I been on an exotic jaunt. No, my days was blessed with simple pleasures.

Despite feeling unwell, a fellow writer dragged herself out to pick me up, enabling me to attend a much enjoyed writing retreat in Frome. I had expected to miss it due to her illness, so being able to attend was terrific. I was able to do quite a significant amount of work, despite us needing to leave early.
I met several new people, hopefully recruiting a few new members for my writing group. I also paid a visit to the cottage that is key to my novel. All in all, an enjoyable morning. But there was much more to come……

The day has been very sunny and warm, too nice to go home, so I uncovered my mega size mobility scooter and headed for one of Wells’ jewels – The Bishops Palace. I was fortunate enough to have been given a membership by a dear friend which allows me free access to the magnificent gardens. I frequently go there to write, especially if I feel a little bogged down with hum-drum life. Today however, I simply wanted to bask in the sun.
I have recently been unwell (hence no blogs)and have become a slight recluse, purely because I didn’t have strength to venture outside. I hadn’t realised how much I had missed it.

I was filled with pleasure from the outset, having chosen to use a bridleway rather than the town centre. I’ve lived here for four years but for some inexplicable reason I had never used this route. Although the road has houses, they are non obtrusive and all the way there are overhanging trees and bushes. I immediately felt at peace. I even noticed the first blackberries of the season, something which, for some reason always excites me.
After a pleasant ride alongside the moat, observing the ducks and almost fully grown cygnets, I enjoyed a glass of elderflower presse, overlooking the palace before entering the gardens. That’s when I felt totally serene.

Leaving my mobility scooter safely inside the grounds, I continued on foot across the stream towards my favourite writing spot. Seating myself down, I tied my scarf around my shorn hair to protect me from the searing heat & settled down to get on with my stories, but was couldn’t. Sipping my water, I closed my eyes and enjoyed feeling the suns rays impregnating my skin. All around people were in good humour, due mainly to the weather I imagine, but I paid very little attention to them. The sounds of nature were speaking far louder. The water flowed, ducks quacked, birds chirped, leaves rustled and bees buzzed, I’m sure that I could even hear the insects scurrying around. It was idyllic.
My mind drifted to a time and place when I lived on Dartmoor, a memory that had become tainted by life problems. A storyline came into my head and as I quickly scribbled it onto paper, I knew that the happy feelings could be recalled. I felt myself smiling like a goon! Bare feet, scarfed head, a batty old woman sitting, grinning to herself but I didn’t care.

I spent a while writing before roughly sketching the scene. A couple of elderly neighbours stopped to exchange pleasantries before wending their way around the grounds. The Cathedral clock chimed. Taking a further sip of water, I realised what was making me so happy.
Life.
Pure and simple.
Life.

I have recently spent quite a while sharing the details of my 17 year battle with crippling agoraphobia. I’ve even had a near full page article about it published. Life is rapidly changing, new opportunities are making themselves known. I’m so enthralled with the fullness of my life, but I still hadn’t truly grasped what had happened previously. For seventeen long, lonely, miserable years I hadn’t spent any time outside. The warm air hadn’t brushed my skin. The breeze hadn’t blown through my (then long) hair. I hadn’t lifted my face to the sun, or heard the calls of the birds. I had been imprisoned through fear, yet it had affected me in ways that I hadn’t considered.

I now understand why it is so vital for me to encourage others to step outside. Face life. Face their demons, their challenges, their fears. No-one should take the elements for granted. It wasn’t just my physical freedom that I gave up – it was all of the years of poetry and song, writing and drawing. It was my potential that I had turned my back on.

I have been so fortunate to have been given another chance. If I could bottle that feeling of sunshine in my heart as well as my body, I would. Can you imagine sharing that with people in despair? Unfortunately I am unable to do that but came home with the knowledge of what I need to do.

I have been toying with the idea of giving motivational talks (not speeches)but have been dismissing it as a flight of fancy. It’s not. I have those feelings inside of me. I can write about them but I can also talk about them. I’m very capable. I KNOW THAT I CAN DO IT. It was the aftermath of the grey existence that was preventing me, causing doubt. The heady influence of the sun has warmed my soul, shone over my path, guiding me on the role that I was kept alive for. I feel so excited. I’m sure that the road won’t be smooth but it doesn’t matter one bit. I have a story to share, an ability to express it.
WOW!
A couple of hours ago I signed with a motivational speakers agency. The Universe won’t send me clients/jobs unless I’m ready. I’ve got no reason to doubt it.
My blessings are bigger than even I can comprehend. Yes I hid from life for so long as a caterpillar, protected in the safety of my chrysalis for the past few years. Now, today I have emerged into the sunshine as a fully fledged butterfly, dried my wings and have taken flight. I will be guided by the breeze of the universe. One thing is certain – I won’t stop until my job is done.
)0(

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope that you enjoyed it.
If you did, please ‘share’, post onto your social media pages or even subscribe. I would welcome having you as a follower.
I am aware that my blogs are irregular-something that I shall attempt to rectify. Don’t give up on me. I’m still here, just sometimes a bit side-tracked.
Blessings and love to you all.
Rosie

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog about my experiences with mental health.  Although unintentional, I was actually a lot more forthright than I had intended.  I’ve had quite a reaction to this blog, some saying how stupid I have been to be so open, other, my far the majority, have welcomed & thanked me for my honesty. Well, I’ve reassessed my thoughts about the wisdom of that post & have reached a very definite conclusion – ALthough a little embarrassing, I DO NOT REGRET WRITING IT ONE TINY BIT!

Mental health problems are very diverse, affecting a wide range of people. the range of illnesses affects everyone in many different ways. There is no one pill to cure all. In many cases it is a very long road of trial & error. Depending on the type of mental health problem, some people recover reasonably quickly, some never recover.   Everyone is an individual. One thing that most people have in common is the fight to be recognised as a normal person with an illness, not some freak of nature. This is something that needs to be addressed.

I will continue to speak out…

Rosie