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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gratitude Day 8: Happy Birthday M.......

Today is your birthday.

Today I would be busy and anxious preparing you a birthday surprise party.
Why anxious? Because I knew that whatever I do, you wouldn't appreciate my efforts. 

You know what? It was fine for me that you didn't appreciate the effort I put in for you but what made me so worried was trying to understand what you actually DID want. 
  If I prepared a party, you'd say you hate to make fuss of your birthday and I'd pay for it. 
  If I just did "nothing" and made it a simple celebration at home with only the two of us, you'd get angry and decide that you were obviously not important enough for me, and I'd pay for that, too.
  If I invited your family, you'd say you like to have your friends around (and I'd pay for it).
  When I invited your friends, you yelled and said 'What about my family?' and I'd pay for it.
  When I invited them all, you worried about how much it would cost and I'd pay for it.
  If I just ask you 'what do you want, what would make you happy?' I'd pay for it, and I paid and paid for every single thing I did or didn't do. 

None of the gifts was good enough, none of the dishes or choice of restaurant or cake was good enough.
I was crazy-anxious...

Today is your birthday, and I am still anxious.
You're not here and I won't have to prepare anything special, but I still wish I could. I just want to make you happy. That is all I ever tried to do. I wanted you to be happy.

I couldn't. I failed at that. I had to leave. Today you'll celebrate without us. I don't know if you'll be alone or surrounded by friends and family. I know your kids won't be there. I won't be there. My heart is sad for you.

On your birthday, I want to say thank you. This message will stay here on the blog, I can't send it to you, or I would pay for it, however nice it can be.

Today I am grateful for you, for the lessons you taught me. You've taught me a lot, so much more than you know. You've taught me all the things I dislike. You taught me how I don't want to be, who I refuse to ever become any more.

  Thank you for being non-appreciative. I've learned how to appreciate everyone and everything.
  Thank you for being disrespectful. I've learned the importance of respect, of people's worth and value.
  Thank you for being uncaring. I've learned how to have compassion and feel the pain of others.
  Thank you for being unloving. I've learned that love shines from the heart and through the eyes, not only in the words that people say.
  Thank you for being manipulative. I've learned to think for myself and make my own decisions.
  Thank you for being abusive. I've learned to be resilient.
  Thank you for being violent. I've learned to be strong and handle pain.
  Thank you for being who you are. I've learned I had to be away. I've learned I couldn't save you.
  Thank you for holding me prisoner. I've learned to appreciate my freedom.
  Thank you for lying to me, cheating on me, beating me, crushing my soul ....

I'm learning to forget you.

Gratitude Day 6 and 7: Thank you for support

Thank you friends,

I've had a very bad week-end on many different levels.

My thank you message for those 2 days goes to each and everyone of my friends and family for their support and presence in my life.

For those who knew I was struggling and those who didn't, you've equally helped. Support and love don't take effort or time. It can be a stranger's smile, a nice quote posted on facebook or a love message sent to all.

Thank you

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gratitude Day 5: Thank you for the hug

I can't give details on here but my "thank you" note today was for someone I love with all my heart.

"You came at the right moment and gave me an unexpected heartfelt hug.I needed it so badly. Thank you for being my pride"

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gratitude Day 4: Thank you Tanya

Dear Tanya,
"Tanya J Peterson NCC @tanyajpeterson1 May 19
@Nikkyy44 Good morning! Thanks for the RT! Btw, I've meant to mention that I like your profile picture. "

That is how our friendship started. Do you remember? 
I used to read your posts on 'healthyplace' since you took over when Jodi stopped, but I hardly commented at that time. 

Several weeks after your twitter message, I joined you on Facebook and participated to the event that was promoting your novel "My Life in a Nutshell".
I was one of the lucky ones and won a copy of the novel. I was so excited!

I'm writing you today to say how grateful I am to be your friend. It's not a post where I want to talk about your books and how much I loved them. I'm not writing about Tanya the author who made me fall in love with all the characters of her novels. I'm writing to Tanya my good friend.
You are so generous and considerate. You know how to make others feel comfortable. You're not afraid of being yourself and showing your vulnerability. You helped me to see and understand that knowing how to deal with problems is important, but it doesn't mean we can avoid facing them.

You have no idea how important your regular messages are to me, whether it's a long message or just wishing me a good day. It made such a big difference in my life because I'm not used to receiving messages unless in reply to something I have sent. I'm usually the one trying to keep contact and looking for connection. Receiving what I didn't ask for makes me feel important and loved.

Reading your novels helped a lot my journey of self-love. as I told you once: if I was one of the characters of your books, I would fall in love with myself immediately. As damaged as your characters appear, or feel they are, they are extremely lovable.
Thank you Tanya
With love

Tanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities. Peterson is an active volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), including acting as a co-facilitator of the Connection support group as well as the secretary of the board of directors of her local NAMI chapter. She is a regular columnist for the Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog on
She draws on her life experience on both sides of the couch (counselor and client) to write stories about the psychological aspect of the human condition, specifically mental illness and the impact it has on human beings. Her goal is to use writing and speaking to change the way the world thinks about mental illness and the people who live with it.
Peterson believes that fiction is a powerful vehicle for teaching fact. Further, she knows that people empathize with characters in novels, and commonly they transfer their empathy to real-life human beings. To that end, she has published Leave of AbsenceMy Life in a Nutshell, and the YA novel Losing Elizabeth.  Additionally, she has published Challenge!, a short story about a person who finds the confidence to overcome criticism and achieve a goal, and a book review of Linley and Joseph’s Positive Therapy: A Meta-Theory for Positive Psychological Practice that appeared in Counseling Today, the national publication of the American Counseling Association.
Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Mental Health Novelist, Writer, & Speaker

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gratitude Day 3: Funny Coincidence

I arrived to work this morning and I was exhausted and in a lot of pain. I worked for some time and then told one of my colleagues: I can't wait till the 11th to have my sleep test. I'm so tired all the time whether I sleep at night or not. I'm so grateful for that doctor who gave me this urgent appointment.

The day was very busy, tiring and stressful. I thought of taking a little break. I thought I would write my thank you note of the day, but I wasn't able to decide who I was going to thank, nor I was able to even focus on anything. After all, it's OK to skip one day? That's how I was trying to convince myself.

A  man entered in my office. He talked to my colleague. He seemed really nice. I was looking at him and thinking: why is his face familiar? He then looked at me and asked: how are you doing? are you happy with the job?

As soon as he stepped out, my colleague said: Didn't you recognize him? It's the sleep doctor, the one who gave you that urgent appointment!. I ran after him and as embarrassing as it felt, I gave my honest verbal heartfelt thank you of the day!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gratitude Day 2:Thank you Dad,

Dear Dad,

I know I was never Daddy's girl. I have disappointed you often and your dreams for me were much bigger than what l have achieved in my life, but Daddy, I did what I believed was right for me. I have always been stubborn and "different". Then I changed. I started to listen more to what I should do, what I must believe and who I was supposed to be. I thought I was finally doing the right thing. It's only recently I discovered that being myself was the right thing. 
I have always wanted and needed your approval. Now I feel free. I can be myself with clear conscience and I love you just as much.

Today, Dad, without knowing what you did, you gave me the best gift in many many years without realising that you were doing so. Today after talking to me, you spoke to my sister. What you didn't know is that you were on speakerphone. You told her about this young woman who was murdered by her husband. You said that she was number 9 this year. It's the 9th announced crime in our area this year, but there are so many more women buried secretly in that country by their families who are too ashamed to tell the truth.

The gift you gave me today was that you then said: "When I heard about that latest crime I thanked God Nicole is now safe".

Thank you Dad. This means a lot to me. Love you.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gratitude, day 1: Thank you Mr. Dentist

Good Morning Mr. Dentist,

I hated you before knowing you. I told you that. I was honest from my first visit. You see, I grew up in a war zone and we had to manage with what was available. I had an infection and needed a root canal procedure. No dentists were working, but some friend of my uncle's had the key of his friend's clinic where he used to work (assist the dentist, cleaning the utensils, etc). He said he'd learned by watching. He did the job, without anesthesia of course. I got poisoning and a more severe infection.

I didn't hate that man but I hated dentists, all of them. I've done my best to avoid them all my life. So, please don't take it personally. It wasn't you.

I had to go and see you again this morning. I stressed and panicked as usual but felt relief as I made my momentous decision: Today was the day. Today I would ask you to schedule appointments to pull out all of my teeth and have false teeth fitted instead.. I entered the clinic with pride and freedom. I allowed you to check my mouth and suggest what had to be done and I made my big announcement: 'I have decided doctor: I want false teeth and that will not only avoid pain, but it will be beneficial for my pocket and my health. Stress is not good for me'. You looked at me and said: 'You are serious?' Well, of course I was serious. You called your assistant and explained to her what I wanted, then asked her: 'would you tell Nicole what I said to you 5 minutes ago as we were looking at her x-rays?' She replied: 'You said: Wow, she has the teeth of a 16 year old !'.

Today I am so grateful for you Mr. Dentist and I've decided to thank you openly on my blog. I did say thank you and wrote you a nice card. I said: 'Thank you for treating me pain free. Thank you for being kind and patient. Thank you for complimenting me on the health of my teeth. Thank you for deleting from my mind the false conviction that dentists are cruel'
My biggest thank you, however, is because this man made me aware that for the first time I received a compliment and didn't question it. I accepted it and felt good about it. I didn't doubt his honesty and suspect that he was making fun of me. That is one of the many positive changes since I've changed my mindset. Thank you, Mr Dentist.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Express Gratitude! Great Idea Jodi!

Express Gratitude! #31daysofgratitude

I have so many "unfinished" posts in my draft sections and I never managed to decide and post any. I would give myself multiple excuses: what for, no one is reading? That is too negative, this sounds too good to be true so no one will believe it, and my list can get huge.

This morning, I read Jodi's blog post and listened to her message on youtube. I loved the idea of the 31 days of gratitude. I directly felt excited to participate. I was anxious to get home and start.

My days are so long at work, my evenings so busy at home. My excitement was fading due to my tiredness and lack of energy. I won't let that happen. I've decided to commit to this challenge and I will do it. Excuses are easy to find, and getting involved in something takes courage.

I have the courage. I have control over my time and actions. Every night, I will write a brief note on my blog and share my gratitude message of the day.

I truly believe this can be so powerful and make a difference in the world. I encourage everyone reading this message to do the same and spread love and gratitude.

Thank you Jodi :)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I challenged the Fear

Exactly two years ago, on August 2nd, 2012, I boarded a plane, headed towards freedom. With me were my three children and nowhere near enough baggage. I knew my destination, but I was also aware that the new life waiting for me wouldn’t be an easy one.
That fear didn’t stop me. I was determined and ready. It was all done secretly with the help of my sister and boss and the support of my wonderful friends, Jodi and Pat.

I was emotionally drained, in physical pain too. I didn’t know my body was suffering that much. I didn’t know the abuse and stress were causing that much damage. I was worried and scared; in fact, I was terrified…
….until I boarded the second plane in Heathrow. On that plane, I could breathe. I was in safe territory. On that plane, he had no power. We were free.

The first few weeks were the holidays I never had. We had fun. I relaxed. I was relieved and wasn’t ready yet to tell anyone, not even my children that we are here to stay. I didn’t even want to remind myself of that. I just wanted to enjoy the moment and give myself a break.

It didn’t last long. One day, everyone had to face the truth and I had to face the consequences of my decision. The abuse didn’t stop. Threats of death, brainwashing, promises, yelling, humiliation, and love… yes, even love. I think it was the only thing that really worked in the past. He could always convince me that he loved me and I was happy to believe him.

I lived a different fear and a huge loss. I felt like I had lost everything: my past, my life, myself. It was hard at that point to realize I was just finding myself, the real me.

I had 2 years of ups and downs. It’s not easy to control rebellious children who didn’t choose this new life. They had to adapt to a new school, new friends. They have lost a family, a father, a home and their childhood. I struggled with family who couldn’t quite believe the intensity of the abuse because I had hidden it so well for so long.

I had health issues and money problems while we were gradually settling down and adapting to our new life in Canada. I had so many disappointments. I looked for support and got great help from 2 marvellous counselors, but I needed more. I think I wasn’t really looking for help as much as I was starving for validation and love. I needed a friend, I desperately need to feel I have someone I can call a friend. Loneliness is my nightmare. It has always been.

FINALLY I found a job. I like it very much. It is very interesting but what is best about it is that it gives me a purpose, a reason to get out of bed every morning. It helps me re-build myself and find again my strength and abilities. I am not useless. I am not stupid. I am not “nothing and invisible” as I believed for so many years.

The kids are moving on in their schooling. I am not divorced yet but slowly 'moving along the track'. I know that I’m not well yet. I still have so much to do. Last week was a very painful one as I learned that the time has come for me to stop therapy. Therapy, for me, was more like an opportunity to examine my life in the company of two really good, confidential and understanding friends. The realization that I was losing those two good friends came as an almost physical shock. I was devastated but I think it was the “slap on the face” I needed to realize it was time to move on …. 
Looking into tomorrow (it’s too early for me to talk about “future” yet), with a renewed hope and wearing a big smile.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ego versus Soul

- Hey!! What’s wrong? What is this look on your face?

- Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk to you, please go

-Come on! You know I’m your friend and I just want to help

- No one can help me. No one can understand. I want no one in my life. You all want to hurt me, everyone. Please leave me alone. I’m not talking to anyone anymore

- You’re so angry. You’re so upset. Tell me what happened

- You want to know what happened. You want the truth? I’ll tell you. I’m the worst person on this planet. I don’t deserve to live. I’m a waste of time and space. I’m a waste of oxygen; that is what happened. I screwed up again because you managed to convince me that it was OK, that I was OK, well it wasn’t OK and it isn't OK and it will NEVER be OK.

- What are you talking about?

-She hates me. I know it. I feel it. Now she hates me. Everyone hates me. Whatever I do, I do it wrong. Whatever I say I say it wrong? Why do I have to be so stupid, please tell me why?

- You’re not stupid, and no one hates you. You know that

- No I don’t! They think I am different. They think I am strong. They love me for what they think I am, but once they see the truth, once they know who I am inside, they just run away. I would run away too. I don’t blame them. The more I try to change or make things better, the more I apologize and explain, the worse things become.

- You are different, everyone is. You are strong, one of the strongest people I know, and yes they love you for what they know you are; they love you because they know who you are inside. You are amazing. You are kind, loving, caring. That is what you are.

- Then, why do they all abandon me?

No one is abandoning you. No one is running away from you. You are running away from others. You are running away from Love.

- How can I run away from Love when feeling loved is all that I need?

- It’s because you feel unworthy of that love, that’s why. You are so scared of being hurt, so scared they will stop loving you that it’s easier for you to imagine a problem, believe it, then create it to prove yourself right.

- I’m sorry

-Yes, you ought to apologize. Your negative thinking and your self-blame and self-judgment are constantly putting me down. You’re not allowing me to shine. You’re trying to hide me in the shadows of this negative image you created for yourself. Let me out, set me free, please. I need to live, you’re killing me.

- Do you think they would still love me if they can see you?

- They will still love you just as much and even more, trust me, because those who love you already know I’m there. They can feel me and know you’re just hiding me to try and protect me. I won’t get hurt, Please let me out.

- I want to. I really do but I’m so scared

- Don’t be scared. I will help you. They will all help you. You just have to make the first step.

- Can I get a hug?

You want a hug? I LOVE you, silly ... you can have all the hugs you want from me FOREVER !

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Diving in...

On March 25, Jodi wrote a blog post that started with this question:

Today I will commit to start writing again without letting fear stop me. It’s a need I have thought about every single day for a long time, but I was paralyzed by fear.
One might wonder what has fear to do with it? Writing for me is not a career nor a life changing plan so how can I fear something I have already practiced for a few months that only got me positive feedback?
My fear didn’t come from writing, it only came from dreading loneliness and abandonment. It doesn’t really matter if my English is good or bad. It doesn’t really matter if the subject I’m writing about is interesting or not. I write because I love to. I write because it’s a hobby I enjoy and that helps me.
To simplify, I was afraid that after disappearing for all this time, I might disappoint you and lose your support when you realize that I am still struggling to overcome all the consequences of my previous life, the life I abandoned less than 2 years ago. I feel ashamed of my depression, but at the same time, it’s only your support that helped me out of it. What do I do?

Ask for what you want instead of complaining. (check out Jodi's video about it)

I want to get better. I want to smile and to laugh. I want to be myself and feel appreciated for who I am. I want to love and feel loved. I want to live.
I am ready to do all that it takes to get what I want. I am ready to break the walls I have built in order to protect myself. I am ready to fight for my new life.
The only thing missing is emotional support. I need support, sometimes I need a lot of it. I tried to do it alone, then I tried with intensive counseling, I tried distraction, I tried it all, but was afraid to ask for it from you although I believe that a community like this is a source of true love and sharing.

Phew!  Now that I said it, will I have the strength or courage to share this post? I don’t  know, maybe I will? I have nothing to lose and plenty to gain.

How about you helping me share my story? How about getting to know me better, my past, but also my dreams and wishes, my beliefs and thinking.
I would love you to ask me questions about my life, to suggest ideas for blog posts, or ask me personal questions which I will try to answer as honestly as possible in future blog posts.

Here goes ----- I'm diving in!