mindfulness

Starting in Cyprus

I started writing out the past as part of my Narrative Exposure Therapy- the sessions alone weren’t enough and I was too self-conscious in the sessions to say it all.  On days when I don’t have time to write, I will share some of those autobiographical writings, giving me a chance to reflect still.

kaleburnu

Here’s the first…

I was born in the late 80s to Turkish Cypriot parents in a tiny village at the very north of Cyprus.  My mum was 20 and had just remarried my dad. They had gotten divorced barely a year after the arranged marriage. You see, my dad had his family ask my mum’s for her hand in marriage. Her mum told her she didn’t have much choice, as she was barely taking care of my paralysed grandfather. They promised to treat her well and she went along with it.

She went from being the “bosbori” (baby) of the house to running a house, pregnant and hard farming. My dad’s temper, jealousy, possessiveness and late drunk nights were too much for her. He would go to the village gave (caf for men) after he was done with the goats and drink and gamble the evening away. But she was strong-headed and left him. Only to have my grandmother convince her to go back to him. She was pregnant. What would people say? Divorced women were not respected.
When I was 8 and she told me this story, I was so angered by the injustice that had been done to my poor mum, aged just 18.  But now I’m just angry at her because of who she became.
And so I was born. And then two years later another sister was born. And my dad carried on in the same way.  We were poor, living in the home of relatives who had moved to London. My parents’ siblings were all flocking to London in search of a better life, or with that dream of saving money to build their own home in Cyprus and mine made plans to do the same.
I spent the first few years of my life living a proper rural village life. I have a few scenes that play out in my mind from around age 3. I know I was 3 because my parents were still with me in Cyprus. In one scene, I’m on the back of my dad’s tractor while he is loading his tanker with water for his goats. My mum would always say that I adored my dad as a toddler. In another, my mum is waking me up at the crack of dawn, because her brother from London is there. I’m too sleepy to get up but note that they are having snails round the fire and as this was a favourite of mine, this disappointed me.
Soon after that last scene we all flew to London. I have no memory of the journey. I have two memories of my first time in London:
1- -An aunty we were staying with giving sweets to her children and not us.
2- -At the airport a couple of months after arriving with my grandmother, who was visiting and was flying back to Cyprus. My mum told me and my younger sister to follow my gran to the sweetshop at the airport. I was dragging my baby sister who had just started walking behind me, annoyed she was delaying our arrival at the sweetshop. Eventually, I realised my gran was checking us all in, turned to my baby sister and started wailing and sobbing that they had tricked us. We were going back to Cyprus and my older sis and parents were staying in London. I cried all the way to Cyprus. That memory has always been so vivid. And the flashbacks won’t stop. I remember the exact rhythm of my wailing and the words it contained. I remember how little I was and how big everything around me was. I remember constantly being told there was no reason to cry and how silly I was being. But no one would tell me what was actually happening or why.
I have always assumed that my mum as unaffected by this. She is always so cold and matter-of-fact when she talks about it. It was necessary because they couldn’t both work and save money with us all there. A couple of months later they sent my older sister back too. Did she shed a single tear for us? Did she miss us? Was she glad to be rid of us? For years, she has never uttered a single word of love or affection to me. Not once. She’s so cold.
anxiety · depression · mental health · mindfulness · recovery · self-help

I didn’t write much

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So 11 months after I wrote my first blog, I received an email that my domain was expiring in a month, and I realised that I haven’t written much.  I then started to feel really sad and disappointed thinking of all the intentions I had and the accomplishments that never happened.

But then I started reading over my first blog, ‘Freedom’ and decided to check myself.  OK, so I didn’t ‘write my heart out’ as planned, but I wrote and I did a lot of other things.  I knew that in order to want to keep coming back to writing, I needed to give myself stuff to look forward to writing about.

I’m going to try and come back to writing by reviewing the goals in that first post.

  1. I want to write my heart out- OK, so I didn’t write the next big novel, but I continued with my poetry when my concentration would allow, so actually, I have stuff to share on here and that’s something to look forward to.  I just need to reorganise myself and make regular time for writing.  I’ve finally found a job that I enjoy and that leaves me time to write- that’s a huge accomplishment.
  2. I must get physically healthy- so I’m not Miss Universe, but I’ve come a long way.  I now walk to and from work every day, I’ve gone down a dress size since last year and am sticking to home-cooked food.
  3. I will focus on my mental wellbeing- I completed my Narrative Exposure Therapy sessions and the experience has been life-changing.  I am by no means cured of PTSD, depression and anxiety, but they no longer dominate my life and happiness is not some distant dream anymore, but a regular feeling I experience.
  4. I need to show my partner how much I appreciate him and have more fun with him- this has been difficult without any real disposable income, but I’ve tried.  I have to admit that this is an area I need to keep working on- I just haven’t quite figured out how to do it without money yet.  I try to tell him how much I appreciate him and the things he does for me at every opportunity and offer to help him with what I can.
  5. I need to reconnect with my family- at one point, I thought that this would be impossible, but my therapy really prepared me for it.  I keep my family meetings brief and try to keep conversations with my parents superficial in order to avoid trigger topics.  It has been amazing building a relationship with my baby niece and being more involved in my sisters’ lives.

So actually, I didn’t write much, but I did a lot in the last 11 months and I’m proud of myself.  I managed to finally believe that I can do better.

Here’s to doing!