My NaNoWriMo features

Isn’t it strange how you can be doing something basic, like making a cup of coffee or, even just having a bath and a memory hits you out of nowhere closely followed by the tears when you realise that you aren’t done grieving for those you’ve lost.

I wanted to discuss this with you as it is happening to me a lot lately. I lost 3 members of my family in 2015 within the space of 6 months. I lost my Mum in February, my Uncle over the August bank holiday, and my eldest Brother within a week of my Uncle.

I know there are the 5 stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Where am I in this cycle? With my Uncle, I think I passed through the stages really quickly. Sound callous? It isn’t. My Uncle was severely diabetic, and my Dad and I knew that the matter was more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if’ so when my Uncle passed, while I had an initial shock, that he had actually passed away, but I very quickly found myself in acceptance.

With my Mum, it is a little harder to say where I am in the cycle. I didn’t have the best relationship with my Mum, we were just so different, at times it felt like we had nothing in common. Sadly, my Mum was an alcoholic, not that she would have ever admitted this to anyone, including herself, and this caused so much friction within the family.

I’m the youngest of 4, which in another family would sound like a busy home. Not so much in mine as you see, there’s 14 years between me and the younger of my elder brothers. By the time I was growing up, my half siblings had all left home and I grew up like an only child, with half siblings that would call over from time to time to see Mum. As a child, I was always sent out of the way so the ‘grown-ups’ could talk. I understand why, grown-ups want to talk without a kid around, but the overall result? I don’t actually know how to have a proper conversation with my half siblings. But this isn’t what hurts the most.

Back to how I feel about losing my Mum. Well, as I said, we didn’t get on very well and in fact while my parents were going through a divorce, my Mum and I got into it during a phone call, which turned out the me the last time we spoke to each other before she passed. I remember being so angry with her, and I was trying to patch together a relationship with my Dad, who’d always worked really hard when I was growing up and again, I didn’t get to speak to a lot. I remember really laying into Mum about what she’d been doing, was trying to do and the call ended badly with my putting the phone down on her.

When Mum was really ill and in hospital, I didn’t know anything about it. She’d apparently told my half sister that she didn’t want me to know anything in case it got back to my Dad. I was on a staycation in Edinburgh with my other half, our first break together (we’d only begun seeing each other around 6 months before). We’d been out all day, walking around the city, around galleries and so on. When we got home I saw I’d missed so many calls and before I could call back, my sister-in-law called me again. She said it was my Mum and she was bad in hospital. She had a problem with her heart, she’d been offered surgery that would have saved her, but Mum had refused to have the surgery done and they weren’t sure she had long left. I wasn’t in a position to set on a drive back from Scotland, and my sister-in-law said she’d let me know what happened.

I remember calling my Dad and getting really upset with what was happening. My Dad talked to my other half for a while and I just left them to it, laying down on the bed crying to myself. A few short hours later, my sister-in-law called again to say my Mum was gone. She’d passed at around 11:00 that night. I called my Dad again; he drives night shift so he picked up. What went through my mind when I heard Mum was gone? A whole mix of emotions. Shock that I wouldn’t ever see my Mum again, a little disbelief – I was only in my very early thirties, I felt I was too young to lose my Mum. I was just so unprepared for the loss. To some extent, more than 4 years on and I still feel unprepared. I feel hurt that she chose to not have the surgery that would have saved her life. She chose to die. I don’t have the chance to talk to her again, to get more of the stories of the family, like we used to talk about.

The one loss I just can’t accept of the 3 is that of my eldest Brother. Of the 4 siblings, we the most alike, and even now I look in the mirror and see him in me. Like with the rest of the siblings, I didn’t ever know how to have a proper conversation with him, but I loved him so much, even if I hadn’t spoken to him for years (that was Mum’s fault too). Even now, I’m literally crying as I type, just thinking about him. I know I will never accept that he is gone, that I won’t ever get to speak to him, have a big brother hug from him. Or laugh as he grilled my other half.

So what is the outcome of this? Grief takes time. You never really completely get over the loss of someone close to you, no matter what the ‘experts’ say. There will always be something that makes you remember, makes you sad. All you can do is learn to live again. Do something for those you’ve lost, make them proud of you, even though they’ll never be able to tell you. Just be you.

"Gun to the Head" 

How did I get here? How did I let it get this bad? I never thought I'd find myself staring down the barrel of a gun. I should never have let Nick out of my sight, its him they want, not me. My stupid ass twin. I'd kill him myself if it didn't mean more paperwork for me down at the station. Think, Mike, think, What makes Nick different from you? THINK! Oh jeez the metal of the barrel is cold, hey chill mate - I'm not going anywhere am I? Nice tattoo by the way. Tattoo - that's it, Nick's pride and joy, the phoenix on his neck. I ned to make this guy understand, move your head Mike, lean your head to the left, a little more, more, that's it, you've got his attention. Oh what? I don't understand you mate, but look at my neck would you. Damn gag, he can't hear me, move your head again Mike! Why did I pick today to wear a button down instead of a t-shirt? stupid. that's it, he's lowering the gun a little, oh hell no, he's getting angry with me, No! No! look at my neck!!! Oh, he gets it now, that's it, look - what's not there? Ouch! didn't need to grab my hair. Oh no, no, no, no you don't understand, I'm not...….CLICK.

"Nobody goes there".

"Nobody goes there anymore" is the only thing I've been told any time I ask about the old Logan place.
Logan's Drift was a huge sprawling house set in a couple of acres of land that once was in full bloom. Until that one night that is, back in November 1980 when the bodies were found in shallow graves near an old summer house.

Rumours had gone haywire for years after Clara Logan had seemingly disappeared with her daughter Jenny, who had turned 7 just weeks before.
When Clara's husband, Jenny's father Phillip left suddenly a few weeks after the disappearance, the thoughts of those in town soon turned to believe that Phillip was guilty and was on the run.

That's why I'm here in Cliftwood, trying to piece together what happened to Clara and Jenny, why they were killed and why Phillip left the way he did. I don't believe he had anything to do with it but, well it does look bad.

Trouble is, those who are old enough to tell me the truth are no longer around or have dementia, all I'm told by those who were young at the time of the disappearance simply say that "Nobody goes there anymore".

I wasn't old enough at the time to ask questions, but I just want to know the truth of what happened to my sister, but I guess some secrets are destined to remain in their graves.

I really like this and I might even use it in a longer story, maybe a novel. What do you think??

"Murder on the Train".

There's a light drizzle as the woman hurries down the steps to the platform and onto the waiting train.

As she makes her way to her seat, she glances through the window and freezes, causing the person behind to bump into her. A quiet 'excuse me' and the woman sits down after removing her coat.

How did he know where she was? She'd been careful, only making her travel plans at the last minute. She'd even taken a longer trip to the station, deliberately going the opposite way and then doubling back. Didn't matter though, she thought, he's found her again anyway and there he was, sitting on the bench, right there on the platform, watching her.

She did her best to ignore the man whose eyes barely left the idling train as it sat waiting to leave and took a notebook from her bag and set to work. She had a deadline to meet and she couldn't be late this time, her job depended on it.

As she worked, a second man joined the first on the bench, huddled up against the weather in a rain slicker and a dark hat. The second man glanced at the train and checked his watch before looking away. The woman couldn't help chancing a quick look out of the window as she paused in her work, but looked away quickly as she caught the eye of the man that had followed her as he had been for weeks.

She looked up again at the sound of a sudden commotion, a crowd of passengers flooded the platform, rushing to get on the train before it left, bound for London.

She stole another glance as the crowd dispersed and was disappointed to see the man was still there on the bench, he hadn't moved. Was he planning to jump onto the train just before it left? The second man, in his rain slicker was still there too looking as though he was waiting for someone.

Then she saw it. A small Mark just above the first man's collar and the slowly darkening stain on his clothing, a small drip onto the floor that only a downpour would remove and she knew it was over.

She turned back to her notebook as the train's engine hummed to life, it was preparing to go. A light tap over the keys was all it took. Moments later she heard the telltale chime of a phone message being received. After a quick glance at the screen, the second man looked at the train and nodded an acknowledgement to the woman as the train pulled away.

"Payment received"......

Thank you to the Bullies.

This is a letter to those out there who decided for whatever reason to use me as your verbal kicking post, to bully me.

I want to say thank you. Strange, I know, to receive thanks for picking on someone for years of their life, for making them feel worthless, hated, unloved. But I suppose I could say that without your hatred of me, without your apparent jealousy of who I am and what I can do, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today.

I won’t bother pretending to understand what it is that I had supposedly done to offend you, I may not have even known you, but you took a dislike to me for a reason only you will ever know and you used that reason against me regardless of what I did, and made it your mission to make my life as miserable as you possibly could.

Congratulations. You succeeded. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.

Yes, many years have passed since I said goodbye to the torturous years of education. Not that the education was torturous, just the daily rounds of verbal abuse from so called peers who liked to think that they’re better than me just because they lived under a different post code. But, just because the years have passed, does this mean that the effects of their actions, their hateful words has diminished? Afraid not.

You see, the younger a person is when they’re bullied, the easier it is for their lives to be shaped by the victimisation; something the bullies themselves don’t seem to understand. Picture this. A four-year-old girl starts nursery school, she’s average height for her age, red hair, blue eyes. To all intents and purposes, she’s like any other child, save one difference – the girl is a little heavier than most. (What the girl won’t find out until she’s a grown woman is that her weight is the result of a medical condition that she was born with).

So it begins. The new girl isn’t just a red head (ginger to the bullies) – hair colour was actually a dark red called Auburn – the new girl is FAT. This in itself is apparently enough for shallow minded individuals to take an instant dislike to the girl, irrespective of whether they had ever spoken to her or not, and decide it is a good idea to taunt the girl about her size, her shape.

Funny how fast a person can get used to being called ‘Fatty’, ‘Tubby’, and such like. Trouble is, as used to it as you think you are, every time another kid shouts it out to you across the yard, it hurts that little bit more. You daren’t eat your packed lunch because you’re being watched to see what you’re eating, so you make do with the sandwiches and the drink, take the rest home again, make out to your mother that you weren’t hungry (only to get shouted out by your mother because you hadn’t eaten all of the lunch).

This attitude from the others carries on all the way throughout school, through primary school, into senior school, and it hurts all the way. I was actually glad to be going to a different senior school to those who had bullied me through primary school, only to find out on my first day that not only had some of the bullies gone to the same school as me, they were in the same tutor group! I couldn’t escape them.

As the bullies got older, so did their taunts and attitudes. I had gotten to the point that I didn’t dare do anything that would draw attention to me. I would barely answer questions in class unless I was asked directly, I certainly wouldn’t volunteer an answer. I hid the types of books I was reading – not only was I the fat girl, I was the fat girl who knew how to read faster than anyone else, I was the fat girl who wrote stories at home. I wasn’t about to be the fat girl who could sing as well.

It was only when I gained my Prefect badge in year 10 that things started to change, that some of the bullies from the older year groups had left and I finally felt like I could breathe. I finally got the hang of standing up for myself and fighting back. I wasn’t going to be walked over anymore. Not that it didn’t stop people from trying. I finally gained myself some respect by being able to do a pretty decent Javelin throw, play a reasonable game of tennis and so on. Still, it didn’t stop the names from being thrown in my direction.

You see, I’ve always been the kind of person who would do anything to help anyone. I would carry extra books for someone, help someone else with their homework, be the person that someone else could talk to about their issues. But, ask yourself this – who ever did the same for me? Nobody.

My own work suffered while I was trying to help others. Yet it wasn’t just the bullies at school I was having to contend with, oh no, I was also having to contend with the bullying of my mother, an alcoholic who refused to admit that she had a problem, even when it was obvious to everyone else.

You see, what the school bullies didn’t know about me was that I was the youngest of four, and due to the age gap, I grew up like an only child. (Yes, the others would visit on weekends, but only to see mother, so I had to leave the room, so the grown-ups could talk). This meant that there was no real buffer between me and my mother when she had drunk one too many.

My mother would join in with the bullies, picking on me for my build, for the fact I liked to read, for any little thing I did. I had no option but to spend my time at home sitting with my mother, watching the soaps, not being allowed to spend time on my homework, studying, reading, or whatever. I had to sit and listen to my mother spend hours at a time calling me down, calling my dad, saying the most evil things and all because she’d had a few drinks again.

Brandy and Gin were the favourites. The drinks steadily got stronger and stronger. The same excuse, that she didn’t go anywhere so why couldn’t she have a drink?

Please understand me, I’m not saying this to gain pity – it is far too late for that. I’m saying it to put things into perspective for those who thought it would be a good idea to bully a child for years just because they thought they knew something about me.

Thanks to the bullies, thanks to my mother, I don’t do a lot of things that I know I’m capable of doing. I don’t sing in public – you’ll never catch me on a karaoke machine, even though I’m capable of belting out tunes that would scare a lot of you. I don’t drink, apart from the rare (and I mean rare) occasions that I just feel like a Cider, or very recently, on a night out, I had a gin cocktail (had to swallow back some bad memories with the gin I can tell you). I hide myself away in loose baggy clothing (I’ve lost a lot of weight, but this won’t ever change), and the confidence I show in public is exactly that, a show. I have no self esteem worth a damn, my “confidence” comes from small victories over the years and the ability to finally show people what I can do, hence my website, my writing.

I’m not published yet as a writer, all because my confidence is so low. I’m scared to put myself on the line like that, to give the bullies something else that they can call me for. I’m 35, yet my head reverts back at times to being 14 again, to being a kid being told by their own mother that if they failed their SATS exams, they needn’t bother going back home because they wouldn’t be welcome, they would be better off killing themselves. (you wouldn’t believe how lucky you are that I’m actually still around).

So who am I now? There are times I’m not sure. I spend every day doing my best to bury the past in the recesses of my mind, but it is always there. My past, the bullying, the memories of spending weekends picking my mother up off the floor when she’d had one too many, its all there.

I am the person that will still do anything I can to help someone else out. I am the person who writes in their spare time as a way to ease the stress, the depression. I am the person who has a small circle of friends who I trust and love dearly, they know who they are. I am the person who has somehow become stronger in character thanks to everything that has happened before. I am the person who no longer allows others to walk all over them. I am the person that struggles to believe that they are worthy of their other half, no matter how much they say they love me. I am the person that walks away when someone decides to call me names.

Thank you to the bullies who helped to turn me into who I am today. I am, in many ways the same person you knew all those years ago, but I am not your verbal kicking post anymore.

Do you know anyone who has been bullied? Were you the victim of Bullying? Don't do what i did and bottle it up - you only ever end up feeling a whole lot worse. Talk to someone. It will help. Remember, you are worthy of love, you are surounded by people who love you, will support you. You are not alone.  I will always listen to those who want to talk to me. Always.