REBUILDING CASTLES

castle pic
My castle had been under siege
for ten years.
Cannonballs,
battering-rams,
fighting on the ramparts,
hot oil,
and raging enemy fires
had all caused it,
over time,
to become –
AN UNINHABITABLE DWELLING!!

What had been a fairly
SAFE PLACE
to live in when I met
my husband,
had, under his
CARELESS,
and often
BRUTAL
Behaviour,
ended up –
A RUIN!
storm 2
I was open to
the elements!
Rain fell in,
wind blew through,
there was no
PROTECTION
from the cold, and
little shelter from the heat.

I WAS VULNERABLE!

Before the bombardment
I had been outgoing –
at ease in company.
NOW I shivered
amongst strangers,
and was TIMID with
friends
and even family.
I awaited,
CRITICISM
and feared –
REJECTION.
shy 1
I WAS VULNERABLE!

How could I
REBUILD my walls?
RE-TILE my roof?
REPLACE
my windows?
Become
A SAFE PLACE
to live in once more?
PROTECTED!
How could I again
become –
A HABITABLE DWELLING?

When I, and my two-year old son, escaped my husband, we left America and came to live in England where I was born and raised.
Most days I would spend some time walking through the countryside, my son in his push- chair, talking out loud to myself (to the amusement of many a grazing cow!)
stroller
I was speaking out my search for clarity, trying to make sense of my vulnerability, figuring out the mechanics of re-gaining my sense of identity, so that I could find some way of building myself up again.

I knew it wouldn’t happen over night, but I had to start somewhere!

My first little breakthrough came on one of these walks.
I realised that in order to feel comfortable in social situations again I had to –

“SHIFT THE FOCUS”

The “ruined” me, the vulnerable me, was anxious at social events.
I did not enjoy them.
I was too busy wondering what impression I WAS MAKING or whether others were FINDING ME INTERESTING, wondering whether or not -THEY LIKED ME!
I was filled with anxiety.
I would leave a party or dinner and analyse MY PERFORMANCE.
“Damn! Why did I say that?”
“Good grief I sounded boring”
“Well, I won’t get asked back!”
Etc. Etc.

THIS WAS NOT SERVING ME WELL!

So I made the decision to practice “shifting the focus”.
I made myself a little mantra I could use to remind myself –

“THINK LESS ABOUT IMPRESSING
AND MORE ABOUT BLESSING!”

Cheesy – I know.
But it helped me remember to –

• Focus on the person/people I am talking to
• Really listen to what he/she/they are saying.
• Let them know by words and body language that I’m interested in THEM.
• Ask them questions.
• Put them at ease.
• After the event DO NOT analyse WHAT THEY MIGHT THINK OF ME.
• Focus, instead, on WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY AND WHAT I THOUGHT OF THEM.
conversation 2
It took time and practice.
I didn’t always get it right.
But gradually I began to enjoy the company of other people again as I re-learnt the freedom of unselfconsciousness.
And because I made others feel good about them-selves – they enjoyed my company and invited me out again.
This began to improve my self-esteem
and, in turn, enabled me to dare be a bit more my REAL self.
And so I began again to establish my sense of identity

Little by little bricks got added to my walls,
some roof tiles went on,
a broken window got replaced.

I WAS BECOMING A SAFER PLACE TO LIVE!
yellow castle

This is only my story, my experience.
I realise that everyone has his or her own unique story to tell.
Has an unhealthy relationship left you feeling vulnerable?
How have you found a way of building yourself up again?
Maybe you are only just leaving a bad relationship and feeling quite lost.

I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

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28 Responses to “REBUILDING CASTLES”

  1. It’s not cheesy at all, it’s beautiful! So many people experience social anxiety but you turned it around in the best possible way, by listening and truly engaging with others. Listening is a skill and we often forget this, a lot of the time people are just waiting for the pause to interject their next point. Kudos to you for rebuilding yourself in this way, I’m so glad you got away from him 🙂

  2. This was a wonderful piece that explains the many levels that we can be affected by someone who is controlling/abusive. Their power lies in trying to lesson your power. Only when we reclaim what is ours can we begin to rebuild our own towers.

    • I so agree – they are demolition experts – but the great thing about “rebuilding our towers” is that with perseverance, and the wisdom that we gain through hard times, we can make them more beautiful than before – i appreciate your comment – thanks

  3. Love this shot! I also really enjoyed the picture of the cottage. Looks like I could write there for a thousand years x

  4. Beautiful piece. Your strong, thank-you for this post from your heart and sharing.

    Verbal is the worse, where bruises never bleed out and band aides don’t hold. Sometimes when these traumas are not healed from the past, and our house not rebuilt properly, they attract similar trauma over again (weak doors, leaky roof) I wish my house was a little stronger before moving on. But a garden grows in my heart from all the ‘crap’. ‘Blood fed’ are the richest and most beautiful. I’ll reblog a poem that a dear friend let me write with him. You might like it. ‘Drum Drum Drum’
    Thank-you, Tara

  5. Interesting. I’m moved by the words. ~GL

  6. Carol Whelan Says:

    Karen, I have cried as I read your work this morning. You write so well and so powerfully. I remember you at the beginning of all this and applaud you for the journey you have been on. You used to say “roses grow best in shit!” back in the day and you have proved it! Beautiful words, beautiful memories of a beautiful person. Love you Karen Unrue my friend of old!!

    • Carol – thats sooo encouraging – thank you….and yes roses still do grow best in shit lol – those were difficult times its true but I wouldnt have missed them for the world (though believe me i also wouldnt want to go through them again !!!) because i really like who i am as a result of that journey and because those days an the ensuing years really forged my relationship with God. I know that you have been through your own shit too so you know what i mean – i have learnt that He can be trusted and that he REALLY loves me – i have also learnt that he is never a minute early or a minute late – lots of times i thought i couldnt take any more and why didnt he hurry up and mend me – but i now see the timing was perfect.
      i have never been happier than i am these days.
      I also recall our friendship with a smile – we had some fun didnt we!!! you were a great friend – I wasnt always great, i know i let you down sometimes and im sorry about that – it wasnt intentional, i was a mess –
      i’d love to meet up sometime – as long as you dont mind being seen with an ageing lesbian who is about to become a grandma ha ha xxxxxxx

  7. If you have been in roofing repair you recognize that there exists a lot of recourses which might be full nonsense, thankfully your website is simply not one of these sites, i like your content very much, continue the good work

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment – it means a lot coming from someone used to roof repair lol – I could have used your skills in the past – dont know if you do castle rooves hahahaha

      • Hi – I just noticed where you are based – I lived in cincinnati and then Dayton Ohio for many years in the 1980’s – I actually worked in Columbus – I was PA to the major at the national guard outfit just outside of Columbus – small world

  8. what an intense cool piece. Happy holidays and have a great year ahead.

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