GUEST POST – Finding Me

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Today I have a guest post lined up for you written by one of my best (in real life) friends, Gabby. When I first started talking about Non Fic November, she was eager to take part… to be honest I was expecting a post about her fave books, as I know she loves to read non-fiction, but instead she sent me her own true story. I hope you enjoy.

‘Finding Me’, I know, what a mind-stirring title to have. I bet all sorts of thoughts and feelings are swirling around your intrigued mind, I know they are for me.

The path of finding myself is an interesting whirlwind of adventures of the heart and mind, a story with no ending but continuous telling.

Childhood, what a thing of beauty! It is innocence of all things, but I had a disruptive one. Yes, I had all I could ask for materially, but there was nothing to be given emotionally. Two parents that hated each other’s guts but couldn’t live without each other’s emotional abuse; that is a story for another day.

Finding myself? Now that was a heartbreaking challenge. Destructive relationships of torment.

Adulthood started quite quickly for me as I moved out of my broken home at the fragile age of sixteen. I moved in with my boyfriend’s family (who I really disliked). They where the type of people who would sell poison to a child to earn a pound in return, so you can probably imagine the horrid experience I had there.

I fell pregnant within a few months of living there. It really was a God send, but not really the best age to be having a baby. I was seventeen, and with a man who couldn’t look after a fish, let alone a child and a woman. I had such a terrible time living within this man’s parents’ home I ended up finding myself homeless. Fortunately, the kindness of our country housed me, not something you dream of as a child – I know I didn’t. I thought I would be married to the man of my dreams, who would take my breath away with every kiss. I’d be living in a big house with lots of happy children. But life has a funny way of biting your butt into reality; still, I held on to the dream of prince charming.

So I had my beautiful little boy, with big bright blue eyes and wavy white soft hair. I can’t explain that feeling when you first hold your precious little bundle of joy. Feeling his skin against mine, his warm soft pale skin, the feeling of when we first looked into each other’s eyes so powerful it brought me to tears. I felt for the first time truly loved. Truly wanted. Truly needed. And I promised this gorgeous little soul in my arms that I would always be my best and do my best, and I would love him forever.

Two months later I got married. Still seventeen. I felt wrong having a baby and not being married. At the time all three of us were living in a motel, and my soon to be husband started changing into something dark.

We were married for two long hard years. I was raising a small baby and looking after a house, a load of animals and a drunk. Things quickly changed after the wedding. This man I had married became a monster, with abusive langue and actions. It got to the point where I completely lost myself. I became a walking, talking zombie. Until one day it became to dangerous to be this man’s wife anymore. So I ran, I ran as fast and as far as I could, abandoning my home and my beloved animals. I grabbed what I could. I took my beautiful baby and ended up in a women’s refuge.

I lived with women who have seen the ugly side of humankind and been victims of it. So safe to say, I was not in a good place.

For the next two years I experienced the world of dating and being a single mum. I came in to this unknown world; all I knew was how to be a wife and a mother. I met some very unpleasant people, but to be honest after what I went though, I wasn’t that pleasant any more. So I went around, destroying and hurting every man I could. I’m not proud of the things I did at all.

I realised I needed help to get my happy back. I took myself to counselling. I found that all the stuff that had happened to me turned out not to be the root of the problems. It was my childhood experiences that started it all off, but I didn’t realise that until I really started to look at myself.

So after many failed relationships and heartbreaks, mental breakdowns, I finally found my happy. How, you ask, well I deeply relied on my religion, and I still do. But there were certain things that I couldn’t understand, like “be God like” and “God is love”.

I found a book called Be Love to Find Love and it really saved me. I helped me let go of negativity, I finally understood so much more, and not just the things that had confused me in the Bible.

This book delves deep with you and shows you the meaning of what love is. We spend our lives feeling as if we have to be loved by another to feel love and to feel happy. The funny thing is that you will never truly feel happy this way, it feels almost as if something is missing, but what? I found it. I found out how to release every bad memory and burn it up. I found out how to replace the darkness with only good, joyful emotions. I learnt that, yet again, everything boils down to those hurtful things that happened during childhood. I’d never let go of it; I just carried it around like an old, stinky, heavy suitcase that I didn’t add anything new to. All I did was replay out the same hurt through my life, in many a different way, but it was all still very much the same. Once I let go of everything, and truly forgave.  I FELT SO FREE. I learned how to love myself and be love, not need it, or want it, but be it.

So you ask how all of this helped me to understand what the Bible meant by “be God like” and “God is love”. It’s quite simple really, being “God like” does not mean to be as a God it means, to have the qualities of God, so if God is love, so are you.

I don’t look at the past any more, or pressure myself about the future. As soon as any such thoughts return into my mind I burn them (not literally). I tell myself it doesn’t matter what has happened, it is history. And it doesn’t matter what hasn’t happened yet. Looking into your past is upsetting, and looking into your future is too – you feel as if you should be there and not where you are. That is the wrong way of thinking you. You should only ever be in the moment where you are; you should truly enjoy it every –  feeling, taste, sight and sound otherwise again it just becomes a distant memory that you can’t get back.

My happy has come from realising what I actually already have, not what I want or dream about. I have opened my eyes to see that my life is amazing. I am in love with my life and everything in it. I find just walking my son to school is such a pleasure. I get to see the beauty of the natural world in a leaf, the colour of a vibrant berry, the sounds of the birds singing, but the best of all is that I am in this moment with my son. Our relationship has gone from strength to strength, with me realising how to be here instead of anywhere else.

The really great quote “if you can’t love you who else can?” and “if you don’t love your life who else will?” brought it home. I can say everything in my life has improved drastically with just being present in it instead of looking for the next thing coming. I am more positive and my relationships with friends, family and everyone else have all changed for the better. My mum said she finally has her daughter back after watching me destroy myself for years. It is safe to say I have found myself again and it is still only the beginning of my life’s journey, but I feel amazing.

You all can do it to; you can all find your happy – it is already within you, you just have to let go. I wish you all love and happiness. 🙂

For more information on Be Love to Find Love, check out this site.

I’d just like to say a big thank you to Gabby, not only for being one of the greatest, most inspirational people I’ve ever known, but also for always being there to support me in everything I do. Love ya.

She’s recently set up her very own blog. I hope you’ll head over and share some love.

D x

Pangs

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Here’s the thing… I love food. A lot. I always have. So during the ‘life writing’ section of my last creative writing module I chose to write about my love for food, and as today’s Blog Every Day in November topic is FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD I thought I’d share a snippet with you. No remember to be nice, it’s the first time I’ll have shared any ‘creative’ writing with you, and I’m a bit more sensitive about it than the usual bloggy word vomit you see here!

Watching her cook was truly fascinating. She wandered around that kitchen as if on autopilot, yammering away in a barely discernible andaluz accent and tossing ingredients into a giant pan without really looking at what she was doing. There was an overwhelming feeling of ‘home’ in that place, and spending time there helped me to figure out what I wanted to accomplish someday: a home where everyone just feels safe and comfortable. She must have somehow sensed this about me, as the first thing I can ever remember her saying to me was “Hija mía, come stir this pot. If you don’t learn to cook good you’ll never bag yourself a husband.”

I had always enjoyed lending a hand in the kitchen. When I was younger I used to lurk around my Granny’s ankles while she was cooking. I always think of her making stew; my Grandma’s stew is second to none! It’s the first meal I can remember eating (in my Captain Scarlet pyjamas and watching Star Trek). Their home had always been an escape for me too.

Perching on the edge of that immense wooden table, I looked around me. The inside of that kitchen was so similar to every other Spanish kitchen I’d set foot in. The walls were whitewashed and flaky, the floor was covered in ugly beige tiles and all the windows were barred. And of course there was a densely built mamá standing at the stove. Only María wasn’t a mother, even though she would have been incredible. She spent her day adopting strays like me instead while Alfonso was off doing his ‘man things’ like messing around with his van, or sitting in a bar watching the game.

The first time I met Alfonso it was raining. Me and my younger brother Micheal had gone for a walk with Millie (the dog), and we were a fair way up the road when the skies exploded. Now in Spain there is no such thing as a light drizzle; standing in the rain is something akin to having a paddling pool emptied above your head. I didn’t have the option of running home- Micheal was only three and his little legs couldn’t manage it, and he was definitely too much of a chunk for me to carry all the way back. A grubby white van blasted past us before grinding to a dusty halt, and reversing slowly down a hill to find us again.  At that point we’d only been living in Spain a couple of weeks and I didn’t really understand any Spanish.  I could tell from the emphatic gesturing that he wanted us to get in the car. Obviously I said no. Over here it’s drummed into you from infancy that you should never, ever get into a stranger’s car. He seemed rather offended when I refused. As much as I wanted to be out of the rain, I remember thinking how angry my mum would be if I let anything happen to my little brother, and it just didn’t seem worth it… After a lot of cajoling (on his part) and a lot of head-shaking (from me) he gave us an umbrella, and then drove next to us the whole way home, just to make sure we got there safely.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of something different… if you’re lucky I might share the rest of this piece with you one day 😉

D x

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Life Writing, Part 1

So I’m saying goodbye to fiction and poetry and embarking onto a journey into life writing. I’m worrying a little about this topic for a number of reasons:

  • Why would anyone find my life interesting? I’ve never done anything so different or so exciting it merits writing about!
  • How honest can I really be if I want my friends and family to speak to me ever again?
  • How do I even come up with an idea of what to write about?
  • How can I avoid unturfing sensitive issues?
  • I’m 20! How much of a life have I even had?
  • What if people judge me for what I reveal about my life?

I think writing down my fears has helped calm me down a little bit. And there are things I’ve been looking forward to about life writing, such as:

  • I can use my own voice! I know this sounds like a silly one, but I find it so much more freeing writing from my own point of view; when I’m writing from the perspective of an invented character I’m never sure if I’m being entirely consistent…
  • I won’t have to do any in-depth character creation- my characters already exist!
  • I will be able to use my friends and family as a resource. Their memories will help to add more depth to whatever story I decide to tell. Also having their help will stop me from feeling like I’m swimming against the tide by myself.
  • It could be cathartic writing about my past experiences, especially if they were particularly difficult events. This could be my opportunity to flush out my negative baggage.
  • It’s something I am capable of doing; I’ve kept a diary for years and I do (kind of!) keep a blog, they’re both forms of life writing, right?

I think that as long as I focus on those positive thoughts about life writing, I might be able to keep my cool! My aim is to prevent the usual panic, and I think that this time I might have just done that… I’ll keep you posted!