Such an inspirational man, his courage and tenacity, his passion to do what’s right, is an example to us all.
Thanks #IntelGroup for the interview.
#RaifBadawi #FreeRaif #ReadRaif
The cane broke. Isn’t that all we need to know? The switch broke.
Raymond Johansen allowed himself to be tortured yesterday in solidarity with Saudi writer Raif Badawi. He was hit 50 times with a cane in Trafalgar Square, where public corporal punishments were once seen regularly but not since the 1830s. He had difficulty walking after and even expressed confusion as to where he was upon speaking with a reporter.
When a caning is administered it sometimes does not look as severe as one thinks a beating would look; even one of the words we use minimizes the severity: lashes. In writing about the Saudi Arabian writer Raif Badawi, who was sentenced last year to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison, I have run into this weakness of language. All language is analogy, and I have wanted the analogy to convey the pain of judicial corporal punishment…
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Read Kendra Davis’ brilliant article about the emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex, and the traumatic accident that brought her to the realisation of just how wrong things were.
In life coaching on Friday, where i go weekly with the Hidden Homeless in Bradford, Nina asked everybody to consider writing a testimonial or something for the magazine, Hidden Voices. A lot of the group wrote something there and then, but I couldn’t think of something that I hadn’t said before or already written in an evaluation sheet, so I said I’d have a think about it and write something later.
I had a few ideas about what to write. I was going to write about the change in my life thanks to Gary (founder of Hidden Homeless)and Nina (amazing life coach) so I got out my notebook and made a list of the ten most obvious ways in which my life is different. Most were quite obvious, simple differences: I’ve started making a conscious effort to focus on the positives in my life, remembering to be thankful for my blessings rather than resentful of what I feel is missing from my life; I’ve developed love for who I am as a person, the me that is doing my best right now to be a person I can like, rather than focusing on the mistakes I’ve made in the past and the pain and embarrassment I’ve caused to my loved ones. Number 4 on my list was “I have gained the confidence in myself to make difficult choices.”
Today’s been quite a stressful day, and I’ve been so glad of a few tearful phone calls and IM chats with the amazing friends I’ve made in the last 6 months, my support network, which brought me to the conclusion that I have been quite a selfish friend recently because I’ve started slipping into old behaviours without realising it. I’ve been so focused on trying to drag somebody else through their dark times so that I don’t have to watch them self destruct or end up diving in after them, basically trying to control a situation that I can’t be responsible for in an effort to ensure that I didn’t throw myself into the abyss, and I didn’t realise I was doing a subtle, slow slide down into that despair filled pit without looking around and seeing where I was. I wasn’t paying attention. And I wasn’t any good to anybody because of it. I haven’t been there for friends who could’ve done with the support and I wasn’t helping the person I was holding onto so tightly.
So I had another reminder that I have to take care of myself in order to be a good support to anybody else, and I’m glad I got it now rather than 6 months down the line.
Every week Nina gives us a small task to take home and reflect on. I maybe don’t put as much effort in as I did the first time I attended the course, just because I think more positively in general now after attending life coaching for 3 consecutive courses, and don’t often feel the need to really sit down and use my ‘homework’ quite so desperately as I once did. That frame of mind comes easier now, it’s a habit to analyse my thought rather than leading with my feelings. I couldn’t even remember what I had written down in the back of my notebook last week but today I felt like I really needed a a large dose of Nina’s ever – insightful, logical positivity!
As soon as I read my notes I knew instantly that this would work as a journal entry for my blog as it would be a good way to reflect on my emotional growth and I usually find writing therapeutic, and it would also be a good testimonial for the hidden homeless as without Gary and Nina I would never have learned the skills to separate my thoughts and my feelings and reflect objectively on my behaviour, or to stop beating myself up for the things I can’t change.
The task that I brought home after last Friday’s session was to think about a decision I have made in my life that just felt right; where I have been my true, authentic self and made a choice for my life that took courage, belief, and determination.
It was obvious to me which decision I needed to reflect on.
A few months ago, my partner and I finally got offered a new flat. It was a bit smaller than we were already in, but it was off the council estate that we have bought and used our drugs in for the past few years and away from everyone who knew us for that. I fell in love instantly with the flat. It’s set back off the road in a quiet, tree filled area, with floor length windows in the lounge and a welcoming atmosphere. I could really picture our future there, it was our fresh start and I was beyond excited. I instantly started trying to collect stuff for our new home, so we could have it cosy and really make it our own. I planned scatter cushions and decided on the mural we would have on the wall, so we could face both that and the beautiful windows. We were going to get married.
Then, after a long and painful revaluation of my life, due to various circumstances, I decided not to move into the flat with my partner. It broke my heart and I still have to wipe away tears remembering how painful it was to come that decision. I still feel as though the future I was working towards has been violently ripped away from me. My partner probably doesn’t feel any better and I feel guilty thinking that he might be feeling like I am, but I had to dig deep for the humility to accept that there is nothing I can do to influence the choices made by others, some things I can’t solve, no matter how much I wish to. If I could do what’s necessary for him I would shoulder that burden in a heartbeat. Nothing I can do will solve this situation right now, because it isn’t mine to solve. I have now, after lots of soul searching, many filled notebooks, and too many tubs of icecream, got the belief in myself to know I have done my absolute best and there is nothing more I can do without any cooperation. I did not give up easily. I have done everything that is within my power. I worked hard at it, but ultimately I had to try to find the serenity in accepting the things that I can’t change. I was emotionally drained, and I can’t afford to invest so much energy into a black hole, getting nowhere with my efforts. I know where that path leads for me and I am determined that I will not stray too close to it, not for anybody. Because then I’m no good for anybody.
Now I have returned to faith. I’m trying to keep that connection strong, be it to God, the universe, fate; there is something stronger than me at play in this world, and I am trying to trust that whatever happens next will somehow, eventually lead to better things. I know I made the right decision. It hurts, but nothing worth having comes to us easily, as long as I do my best with the things I am responsible for, as long as I remain aware of the way I’m living and focus my energy on the right things, everything will come together. Maybe it’ll all work out so that I get to spend the rest of my life with the man I have idolised for nearly 7 years and sacrificed so much to be with. Maybe that’s not what’s in store for us. I have no way of knowing, I just have to keep working on my life and hope he does what he has to in order to get what he wants from life.
This isn’t what I expected, or wanted, my life to look like at this point but this is the hand I have been dealt and I am playing it to the best of my ability. I can’t afford to lose again.
My broken heart will, slowly but surely, heal and I’ll recover but active addiction will, slowly but surely, kill me and break the hearts of my children.
There really is no choice in it.