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#What's the Safety Word?

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“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
John Joseph Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love

Everyone has heard about the ‘safety word’. The safety word is the serious-I-mean-it-now time-to-stop word. The word the ‘client’ arranges when he visits his S&M bondage person so he doesn’t accidentally get himself killed during the ‘play’.

What I wonder, is the safety word when you’ve had enough of the ‘merry go round’? I’m referring to that time when you feel you literally cannot face another minute of the hurt, the pain, the torment, the abuse, the depression, the………. (just fill in the blank).

It almost sounds like the beginning to a play or a movie script. The notes followed by the story board before shooting begins. Except it isn’t part of a fictitious film, instead it’s a serious and real part of life. Not the calculated gambles people want to take with their fetishes or fantasies. If something goes wrong there then you almost have to say – ‘they knew what they were getting themselves into.’ But what happens when life pushes you too far?

Talking to people is easy. For some reason I’ve been fortunate that people find it easy to talk to me. I’ve been told many things. I’ve been blessed by sharing the good news of a daughter’s engagement, a son’s engagement, marriages, the unhappier news of divorces, accidents, windfalls and tragedies. It may sound strange to include windfalls as part of the unhappier news, but for many people it hasn’t brought them the happiness they hoped for. Sometimes yes, but many times they have found themselves in a much worse place than they were before their good fortune.

Sometimes there simply are no words to express how you feel. Sometimes you need to rely on a hug or holding someone’s hand and send them strength because there is nothing you can say or do to change things. Having to tell someone their child, husband or wife is dead is one of those times. Words just aren’t made to let people understand you feel their pain.

I had many talks with ‘Sharon’, a lovely lady who was always putting herself down. She simply couldn’t believe she was good at anything she did or that she was wanted or needed by anyone. Despite having a good job she was convinced she was stupid, since her husband continually told her she was. Even though she had two children she couldn’t persuade herself that there was any purpose to her being there. She convinced herself that they would be better off if she was no longer around.

Sharon took a bottle of pills and curled up waiting for the end to steal quietly over her. Her husband came home early and she was rushed to hospital. Unfortunately she didn’t get the help she needed and her unhappiness and feelings of low self-worth grew. Her husband helped her with that part. When she finally left him he embarked on a calculated plan to undermine her self-confidence and she found herself spiraling further down that dark hole.

She moved and I lost track of the family for a while. In trying to out run the influence of her ex-husband she isolated herself from everyone who knew her. She avoided anyone he knew and anywhere he was likely to go. There was nowhere for her to turn to. Her children moved out, as they do when they finally grow their wings and she fell into a deep depression. Depressed or not she still managed to work.

I met her again a short time ago. She often spoke to me of her struggle with ‘The Black Dog’, but being alone it was too difficult for her. She began trying to out run her problems. She would drive day and night when she was not working until she finally fell into a stupor to get some rest. But you can’t roll those dice for long before the stakes get too high. It’s almost like putting your hand in a basket of snakes and expecting not to get bitten.

Sharon told me she didn’t want to leave her children without some kind of support. She didn’t want them to be dependent on their father to “look after them”. Years later he still influenced how she thought and she didn’t trust him to do the right thing by his children. So her game of Russian roulette on the roads didn’t seem to make much sense on one hand, but knowing how her ex-husband had eroded her self-worth, it did.

It felt as though she was holding on by some tenuous thread and at times I wasn’t sure she really heard me. She did see a doctor and get medication, but it was going to be a long haul back.

Sharon died in a pile up on the motorway. She was on her way home from her mother’s funeral. A drunk driver had lost control and ploughed into the oncoming traffic. Her car was hit head on.

What was Sharon’s safety word?  I can’t help but wonder if she had a safety word.  Who could she have called out to, so that she could stop the merry go round? If she had a safety word when should she have used it?

Tell me, do you have a safety word?

#What's the Safety Word

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Blessings, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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#Pushed to the Limit

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“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

There are times when, irrespective of how much you try to do otherwise, you fly off the handle. These episodes are usually preceded by periods of intense pressure, things not going according to plan or life generally not playing out the way you hoped. Colloquially they are called “knee jerk’ reactions. They are usually regretted almost immediately as soon as the blood cools down sufficiently for coherent thought to return.

If, like me, that cooling off can be fairly quick, most of the time, it leads to a great deal of soul searching and castigation for behaving in a manner which isn’t liked. However, many times the damage has already been done. Trying to set things right is quite often impossible.

All my life I’ve been told I should behave in certain ways. I was “better than my protagonist” and so held to a higher standard.  “I knew better than that” and so should have controlled that impulse to retaliate.  When you are placed on a pedestal and expected to live up to everyone’s perception of who you are, it can be extremely difficult to find the real you.  You may not even recognise the‘real you’.

#Pushed to the Limit

image from cstl.semo.edu

There have been times, over the years, when that pedestal has rocked alarmingly as I tried to keep my footing living up to so many other people’s ideas of who and what I was. Can you imagine how difficult it might be to understand what you want in life when you are so busy living up to someone else’s ideal? The saddest part of the situation is that it all begins with the best of intentions.

Hard as it may be to understand I was a very shy and quiet child. Head down and mouth closed so I drew as little attention to myself as possible. Yet all the time I was trying to live up to firstly my parent’s expectations of me and later my first husband, my work colleagues, my brothers, and then it seemed everyone else. Everyone had this idea of who I was and how I would respond in certain circumstances.  My first husband had a whole list of ways in which I was allowed to behave and respond that I hardly knew who I was. Sad, pathetic but true. The fact that I did respond as they expected, because it was expected, simply cemented these thoughts in their mind. Sadly, very few of these personas held more than a grain of the real me.

Not wanting to disappoint anyone it was easier to continue to play the roles I was ‘given’. It was safer in one particular area to follow the ‘rules’ than to face the consequences. At the same time I was able to hold down responsible positions, firstly as a police officer, later as a bank official and mother, school chairpersons and so on. I wasn’t actually hidden away where it may have been easier.

Realisation, when it seeped in was the beginning of the real humiliation. Knowing I had been this milksop of a person when I could think, had opinions and could do so many things was quite devastating. The fact that my husband was a police officer meant that I had nowhere to go and no-one to go to. Who would believe me over a serving police officer? It simply didn’t happen, not when the domination is psychological and emotional.

It is still hard for me to write these words, to accept them as reality and realise what I allowed myself to become – a doormat. I was a slave programmed to perform to command. I can never look at a woman in a domestic violence situation and condemn her, man, woman or child in that situation because it can be started so insidiously that it is too late by the time you realise. I was a slave to my ex-husband’s drive to achieve financial stability. The fact that he failed to support his children after I left, usurped part of my settlement and told the children it was theirs, all added to the ongoing manipulation. He is still doing this to my children, though they are grown and through them he is doing it to me because he knows they are the only way he can reach me.

#Pushed to the Limit

image from paulissakippisms.com –

Why have I told you all this. Because if it happened to me it can happen to anyone and if someone reads this and recognises where they are in this cycle and can get out, it is worth my embarrassment. If it helps someone reach out, to me or to someone else it is worth the embarrassment. I am tired of allowing him this hold over me. I am taking my life back, all of it and I refuse to allow him the space in my mind, in my life ever again.

This is real. It can happen to anyone, at any time. Please, if you recognise someone who is drowning under this type of treatment, offer a helping hand. Tell someone in authority and help them before it’s too late.  Life is a precious gift and shouldn’t be destroyed by insecure bullies.

#Pushed to the Limit

I am a woman, flesh and bone, heart and soul.

“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.”
Shannon L. Alder
Everyone has the right to respect, like breathing, take it away and the soul dies. – Susan Jamieson

Blessings, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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