Anika’s Blog

Lifestyle

No Friends, So What to do Now?

I have been sharing the story of how I completely changed my life. To catch up, read Part 1 and Part 2 right here.

So here I was, with my new life up in Scotland with literally no friends. What on earth was I to do to make some? This is the downside of moving and starting again, but I tell you, if the same circumstances happened again, I would do exactly the same thing.

I do not, have not, and will not regret the decision I made to start my life again.

It was a fast but great move, the best choice I ever made in my life.

When I arrived in Scotland, because of traffic I was slightly too late to move straight into the new property I was renting. I didn’t know if I would have to find a hotel that would take myself and my cat Mia for the night, but the pastor found a couple that took us in until I was properly settled. This was a massive blessing to me because I didn’t have anywhere to go and had never stayed anywhere with my cat other than my flat in England.

I was very grateful that the woman I stayed with took me out for that first Saturday evening to a restaurant to meet some of the other ladies in the church. Although I was a little overwhelmed, I ended up sitting next to someone who knew where I would be living, as she lived a few streets away she was happy to show me where everything was nearby us.

Learning My New Area

My new acquaintance was as good as her word. She came and collected me and drove me round to show me where things were so that I could get a grip on my bearings. It was wonderful that she was able to help me, being new to the area. So now I knew 3 people in my new life and I had no idea how to find other people to make new friends.

But how was I going to find some new more friends?

I didn’t want to have just 3 people that I was friendly with. And where do you find people in a completely new area? I didn’t have a handbook of what you should do. In fact, I honestly had no idea but knew I wanted to know some other people in Scotland. Well, there was one option – going around the neighbors, knocking on their doors and saying that I had just moved up and wanted a friend? But that idea just didn’t appeal to me.

The other option I considered, which I much preferred, was to see if I could find some friends via the internet. I was aware that there are many dangers to finding people online. But I thought if I don’t put my address or my real name, surely I would be safe? There were many dating sites but none that answered my need to find friends directly. However, some of the relationship sites offered the opportunity to make friends with others, without dating. So I thought I would join a few of them and see what happened. Quite honestly I didn’t believe I was ready to find a life partner.

Protecting Myself While Making Friends

Truth to tell, I was not sure if this was the right or wrong thing to do. I had kept myself as safe as I could by not using my own name and by not giving any address out. All I let made known was that I was somewhere near Glasgow. I only had 3 people that ever wrote to me on all of these sites. There was one person who wanted me to come off the site straight away and exchange phone numbers. But it was something that the sites counselled against, so I told him no and the second man who answered, I didn’t like the way he wrote but the third person who wrote to me I thought ‘yeah, ok, I’ll chat to him, as I like the way he writes. But I’m not really looking to meet up.’ I was really worried about the prospect.

We became excellent friends online, talking to each other about anything and everything and he helped me so much. But when he suggested we meet in public on a Sunday afternoon, I was terrified. All sorts of scenarios popped through my head. But I was persuaded to go and we sat together talking for 6 hours! In fact, we got asked twice how long we had been married – and this was the first time we had met!

You Never Know Who You Will Meet

And you know what? None of those bad scenarios happened. He was a lovely man who was caring and gentle and kind. We got to know each other really well, so quickly. He understood me more than I did myself and reassured me through nightmares and flashbacks and helped me to begin finding myself. In fact, I am married to Kevin and we have been together for 10 years altogether.

Now I’m not saying you’ll find your soulmate. I don’t know if you will or not. But try something new. Make new friends. Good things can and will happen. There are blessings everywhere – you just need to find them.

Lifestyle

Leaving Everything Behind

If you missed the beginning of my story, Starting My New Life After Abuse, is a good place to start to learn how I started changing my life.

I decided to move and leave everything in October/November 2008. There were many tiny decisions that helped me make this life-transforming choice. I had no idea where I was going to go. There seemed to be a number of places I could move to, but they were all in the UK.

Starting on 4 December 2007, I had been going through facial reconstructive surgeries and had been in and out of hospital.

For many years I had been struggling with only being able to open my mouth about one inch. It had started impacting my whole life. There was back pain, headaches, jaw pain and my arms were quite weak. Nobody seemed to know what the problem was, and it had me struggling to even get to work.

A dentist in London referred me to a Professor because he didn’t know what to do and he thought the professor would. I remember walking (very slowly) into the room. He took one look at me and said “I know exactly what’s wrong with you. You have Treacher Collin’s Syndrome and need your face rebuilt. If you had been diagnosed when you were a child, you would have had all the surgeries between the ages of 8 and 18. But I can do them in a year and that will really help you.” My jaw dropped.

Finally, someone knew exactly what was wrong and not only that, they knew the answer to the problem.

It was quite weird having so many surgeries, one after the other.

So many people helped me and drove me to and from the hospital many a time. Not only for the actual surgeries but for the infections that I got, as well.

I was unable to work much, and certainly couldn’t manage a full day of work. So I think it was June/July time, I asked if I could be made redundant and that took a massive weight off my mind.

So I was considering changing my life and moving to a different area in the country. Truthfully, I literally had nowhere to go. There were two options I was considering and I wasn’t sure which one I would go with.

Choosing My Path

I went up to Aberdeen in Scotland because I knew one person there and I thought it might be nice to live there. However, I was looking at possibly buying at place rather than renting. And Aberdeen was really expensive.

A pastor I had spoken to said she knew another pastor in Paisley in Scotland and suggested that I go there in the middle of me being in Aberdeen. I said to her (and everyone I asked) that I wouldn’t make a choice until I was home. And had visited the other places.

Have you ever made a statement and then wondered why on earth you said it, because it changed the whole direction of your life?

Well, while I was in Paisley, that was what happened to me. The pastor took me to a letting agency. I saw a property, said I would be up on 4th December 2008 AND signed the paperwork!

I was so surprised that I had even said it! Here was me with minus money. And I was moving – not only 400 miles, but with only 10 days between the time I had said and the day I moved up.

When I got back to my new home, I wondered how on earth I would manage to get packed up and drive all the way to Scotland. I was in a lot of pain in my chest. So the doctor came and told me I had a chest infection. Some people I knew came to help me pack up everything so that I could put some things in storage and take the rest of it with me.

Also, a couple who were friends with me, asked if they could rent the place until I could sell it. This covered the rent in my new place in Scotland. I had no idea how I was going to live because I literally had no money. Here I was wondering what I would do to survive.

I was so grateful to a charity called CAP (Christians Against Poverty) when I moved up to Scotland. The pastor in Paisley had told me about them. She got me in touch with the man who worked with them in the area. They really helped me and I will always be grateful to them for what they did for me while helping change my life.

Catch more of my story next week.

Lifestyle

Starting My New Life After Abuse

There are so many ways to tell the story of any life but it’s easier to focus on one area. Your early life always impacts your later life, whether you want to think so or not. Some lives are comparatively easy, while others are more complex.

I am a 45 year old woman who was brought up in a cult like atmosphere for 32 years of her life.

My parents began and ran the whole thing. Any and every type of abuse you can imagine went on. There was mental, sexual, emotional and physical abuse that took place.

The “big” lie (for me, anyway) was that all my medical problems had been “healed” because God asked my father if he loved me. That did not actually fit in the grand scheme of things because I couldn’t do what other children could do. I found it so impossible to do the physical activities the other children did without questioning. I can remember falling and hurting myself trying to compete on some level and although it was not remarked upon, I couldn’t really understand why I was definitely not like all the other children when I should be.

Making Sense of Two Versions of my “Life”

I think one of the facts of me growing up was me trying to reconcile the two different versions of my life. The way I was being treated and the public perception of our family life was just so irreconcilable. And I didn’t have anybody to really share about the abuse that was going on. I was meant to project the perfect family image in public, but I wasn’t totally sure what it was so didn’t always get it right.

I would stay with “friends” within the community overnight or they would come round to spend the night with me. Often when I was staying with friends, their parents would end up buying me necessities or clothes. I had no idea why or what caused them to do so. Sometimes this caused an angry eruption when I returned home, other times not.

Just again something else that made no sense.

My mental, physical and emotional health was up and down all the time. There were times I was unaware of how much the abuse was impacting me. Other times I devised ways of keeping myself safe from the suicidal thought that would intrude. Again, a demonstration of the inconsistencies that I grew up with during my childhood.

People would ask me questions and if I answered them, I would often get in trouble when I arrived home. Again, just something more to add to the unknown box in my mind. One day it would all make sense and I would understand everything.

This was the hope that I lived for.

Occasionally I would feel that I was doing something good, but I was always waiting for the blow to come and something to go wrong. It didn’t matter what it was, where it was, or when it was going to happen. I knew I had to smile whether I was happy or not and I had to make people believe I was too.

But if you want the honest truth, I hated my life.

I thought there was no point in trying because nobody cared anyway. There was no way to express the different emotions that raged through my being. And I never felt wanted.

I think because I was so confused, I lived my life trying to stuff feelings down and wait for the day when everything would be clear to me. The privileged life I was told that I lived, I could not reconcile to what the reality actually was. In fact, I never really got to understand what went on until well into my new life.

When I went to university, I decided to attend one where nobody else that I knew was. I couldn’t stand the feeling of being “looked after” by people in our community. All they seemed to do was tell others what had been said and twist things to land me in trouble. I thought if I went to university and got a degree like my siblings, maybe things would be better for me.

They persuaded me to work in the centre of the community so that I could do what my parents wanted and ended up doing a job for 10 years in a company I didn’t like. I wanted to get out of it but felt obligated to remain. When I finally said I had had enough, I used the year of facial reconstruction surgeries that I had needed as my reason for requesting redundancy.

Starting on My Own, Away from the Abuse

There were many circumstances that led me to drive 400 miles away from England to Scotland and these are just a few of them. I worked for not much money for the community, thinking I was giving back in some way by doing it. However, it left me in financial difficulties that I had no idea how to resolve. Thank God for an organisation like CAP (Christians Against Poverty) that helped me to sort out my financial affairs.

After I moved to Scotland I changed my name officially. Nobody from my past knew where I lived. And that was the way I wanted it. My past and my present do not mix. Now that I can understand that past and how it impacted me, I can move on in my future.

Starting My New Life with Kevin

I got married nearly 10 years ago now to my husband Kevin (who I met after I arrived in Scotland). We both have genetic conditions and I have a number of different chronic conditions that have put me in the place I am today. I am an electric wheelchair user – sometimes just outside but if I am having a bad day, I do need to use it inside.

Through the years my husband has known me, he has supported me in every venture or desire I have had. He knows that I have been attempting to work out exactly who I am and what I am here for in the world away from the abuse. There has been a lot of money spent but he has never told me to hold back or not to do what I want to.

In my new life, I have a wonderfully blessed future to look forward to.

I have discovered who I am and what I am going to be doing. Now there is no confusion or inconsistencies in life. I have my friends and a small but loving family. Such a contrast between my past and present but my story is going to have a wonderful future.

Encouragement, Lifestyle

My Journey with Music

Music has always been a part of my life. Even from when I was a very young child I can remember singing and enjoying hearing other people sing. Often I would have a song going round and round in my head and would be unable to get rid of it.

Learning the Piano

My interest in music took a backward step when I started to learn the piano. This was a lot of work and my siblings seemed to catch on to it much easier than me. It got me very discouraged. When I learned that I couldn’t reach the keyboard and pedals at the same time and had to give up playing the piano, I don’t think anyone else could have been happier than me.

I ended up having private recorder lessons during the school break. I wasn’t sure if I was blessed for the time I spent playing the recorder and not having to be out in the playground or not. It was a very confusing time with differing emotions.

Then one of my friends started to learn the flute. I thought it would be nice if we did it together, but I couldn’t get my mouth in the right shape. So I went back to the recorder, but a wooden one this time. And actually got really quite good at it.

What I struggled the most with in regard to music was learning the theory of it. I could do it, but had no comprehension how or why – just that was how the piece was played.

The End of My Recorder Days

When I had got to the end of the recorder music I could do (my hands were too small for the next size up recorder), I had to give up. But my music teacher suggested I try the clarinet and I really enjoyed it and became very proficient at it.

I can basically play a tune or two on most woodwind instruments. If I hadn’t been going to university, I would have tried to learn the oboe. The sound it makes is so rich and deep and I know I can play the two reed instrument because I picked up a friend’s at university and was able to play it instantly.

Joining Choir

In my teens I joined the choir in the “church” I grew up in. It was a confusing time. Sometimes I was praised for what I was doing and other times I got in trouble. I had been told I had a good singing voice many years before but now I don’t know how good it actually is! I can certainly keep in tune, even if nothing else. So I may try to find a choir to join at some point.

I met a really good pianist. He was a lovely man and tried to support me in my endeavors. He gave me a CD of his playing to help inspire me with my poetry writing. The wonderful thing was it was just improvisation so I could hum to the melody and write at the same time.

Finding Peace in Music

When I was pregnant with Johnathan there were 2 songs that meant the world to me. I was in the maternity hospital, in a room of my own, for 6 weeks. I had my phone playing that music again and again and it brought me peace during that difficult time.

Music has always been a part of my life. I don’t think it would ever not be. I believe that avenues of creativity are a marvelous way to express yourself and that music therapy is a good thing to know/use.