Archive for family

Changing My Name

Posted in Context, Everyday Life, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 13 January, 2010 by Pandora

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the other day that I had asked the Twitterverse how difficult it was to change one’s name by deed poll (it turns out that it’s actually very easy, if logistically something of a pain in the arse).

I have been thinking about changing my surname for ages – at least two years.  During that time I’ve been fairly to absolutely sure of the new name that I would adopt, and I think I have thought through all the ramifications of the whole thing properly.

Despite what many people think, there is no official or central register of name changes in the UK.  Theoretically, you can simply write a letter yourself stating your intention to use a new name, though that tends not to work much in practice when you involve banks and passport agencies and the like.  The lack of such a register means that you have to inform everyone yourself – preferably using certified copies of your deed poll – of your new name.

This includes passport agencies, driving licensing authorities, the health service (and specific services therein that you use), banks, credit and ‘store’ cards, insurance companies, utility companies, pension companies – the list goes on.  That’s not even considering your personal contacts.  It’s a profound logistical hassle.

But, for me, it is worth it.  I have long since hated the fact that I have links to my father via my name, as of course the man was a detestable piece of shit.  This was exacerbated after the whole kerfuffle over V’s will; I don’t want to share the same name as my American relatives either, after them virtually glorifying my ‘father’ and then stealing my bloody money.  I want to sever connections with that whole side of the family absolutely and completely, and this gesture is a symbolic way of doing so.

Furthermore, my surname is a completely shit one.  So much so that it was the brunt of endless verbal pestering when I was at school, which wasn’t exactly fun (not that that was what made me so inherently miserable there, but the name-calling and teasing certainly didn’t help).

I haven’t discussed changing my name with with C, although I probably should.  Perhaps this can be touched upon briefly tomorrow.  I did discuss it in some detail with Margaret, the CBT therapist I saw in 2008, and she felt that if I was prepared to go through the hassle of informing everyone, that changing my name could bring some “closure” [hate that word] on the many mental health issues I have that are attributable (at least in part) to V.  To be honest, I think that’s a very simplistic way of looking at it – changing my name is not going to change what he did to me, nor to my mother.  However, it’s one thing I can do to publicly acknowledge that I want no part in his legacy.  A token gesture, some might say, but I think it’s an important one.

I determined towards the end of last year that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it in 2010.  So yesterday (as intimated last night on Twitter) I took a deep breath, filled in the online deed poll application, and – after dithering a bit – hit ‘submit’.

The lack of a central register means that my name is not changed at all until I sign and date the deed poll (which should be with me by early next week), and in practice it remains unchanged until I send the certified copies to the aforementioned agencies and they update their systems, my cards, etc.  But I’ve taken the first step – and as I said, it’s a big step, in my view, as I have lived with this name for over 26 years.

I’m really nervous about what I am doing, but it’s a new start in a kind of symbolic way, and to that end I’m terribly excited too.

So up yours, V, and up yours, V’s family, for contributing to my being completely batshit mad.  Shortly I will have no links with you whatsoever other than my mother and genetics, and I cannot wait.

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Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Posted in Context, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 21 October, 2009 by Pandora

I found this insightful (if concise) article via Twitter today. I was utterly astounded by how much of it describes my behaviour after my uncle raped me when I was about 10.

I don’t really fancy getting into the ins and outs of the incident at the minute, though I’ll explore it more in a future post.  For now, though, these are the paragraphs that resonated so strongly with me:

The most common symptom for children is sleep disturbance or more specifically nightmares.  They don’t seem to be able to be explicit in describing what is happening in their dreams but they do know that “it is bad.”  Children that have been abused have advanced knowledge beyond their years about sex and they often act very seductive or sexually inappropriate around adults.  They are usually angry and either will cry or they are aggressive towards younger children without exactly knowing why they are behaving in that manner.  Often times in younger children they  display regressed behaviors, such as talking like a baby or they start wetting the bed.  In older children, they will often begin finding places in the house in which to touch themselves or masturbate.

Other symptoms that may be present are self-mutilation, usually seen in older children, lying or stealing, sudden changes in behavior, running away from home, eating disorders*, excessive fears, drugs/alcohol**, or threatening to kill themselves. There is no one sign/symptom or behavior that is proof that a child has been sexually abused, however these are some key symptoms for parents to look for to help them determine if abuse has occurred.  As always, a professional whether it is a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or a mental health professional should be consulted in order to assist with the behavioral/emotional symptoms that are being displayed.

(c) Tara Tamanini, Kid Awareness Series

The italics are mine, denoting signs that I exhibited.

* -ish.  I often behaved in a psuedo-bulimic fashion, throwing up my food for no reason other than not wanting to gain more weight.  But not often enough, I think, to actually be considered to have that illness.

** I started drinking when I was very young – perhaps 12.  No drugs, though.

As I’ve stated several times before, I think very little about my late childhood and early adolescence, but this brings back a lot.  Whilst recognising objectively that I have no reason to feel to blame, I am so horribly ashamed nevertheless.

Ashamed that I flirted with anyone, especially him, ashamed that it was seemingly a catalyst for my fairly early sexual self-explorations, ashamed that I lied and stole at times, ashamed of my aggression (which still hasn’t gone away), ashamed that I ever let any of it happen.

It makes my fucking skin crawl.  But I am glad I found this article.  As long-term readers of this blog know, I’ve been quite neurotic about MW, my uncle’s great-grandson.  This is now especially troubling as MW’s mother, SL, is due to have her second child in early 2010. Whilst I am terribly concerned for MW and any future brothers he may have, I’m pathologically terrified that SL will have a daughter.

I know that child sex abuse is not really so much about the perpetrator’s sexual orientation as about the fact the victims are children, and, of course, about the perpetrator’s power (as is the case in any instance of sexual abuse).  Nevertheless, although I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he would act inappropriately towards a male child, I am (perhaps irrationally) terrified that a female is at an even greater risk.

Whilst obviously this article is short and therefore far from definitive, it is a half-decent start.  The problem is, without ruining the family and potentially putting the children in further risk, what can be done before he touches any of them up?  All of these signs are reflective – ie. something will already had to have happened for anyone to recognise them.  For very obvious reasons, I’d rather pre-empt any abuse.

A thinks it’s unlikely that anything is likely to happen. MMcF’s husband is getting on in life, I’ve seen no evidence that any of the other generations have been effected and, due to his medication, he is exhausted and sleepy all the time. I can appreciate that it’s unlikely, at a rational level.  But is that enough?  ‘Unlikely’, almost by definition, is suggestive that there is still a possibility.  And that’s what scares the fuck out of me.

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The Familial Idiocy Saga Continues

Posted in Everyday Life, Moods with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 14 July, 2009 by Pandora

It’s been an odd few days in the world of SI (as if it ever isn’t).  There is stuff I probably should write about, but as of yet I do not feel that I am at liberty to do so.  Suffice to say for now, I’ve been experiencing a lot of mixed episodes, which are fucking completely with my head.  Looking at my iPhone mood chart, there has been a lot more mania (along with depression) since my change in medication, and as such I feel that it seems likely that Venlafaxine is to blame.  Apparently this is common in people with bipolar who take anti-depressants intended for very severe depression.  The problem is that of course BPD is felt by Dr C, my psychiatrist, as being the more dominant disorder in me.

A cursory search online suggests that the “solution” to this, if that is even close to the right term, is not to discontinue the use of the anti-depressants, but to add mood stabilisers to the medication mix.  w00t.  NICE advise against this in the use of BPD, but since I also have bipolar II, it might have to be an option.  I am seeing Dr C again on 27 July, so it’ll be fun to see what she makes of it all then…

Anyhow, my mother confessed to me the other day that she has told Aunt of Evil, GA*, that I am “away” during GA’s visit to Northern Ireland.  This will be the first time I’ve been “away” whilst still at home.  In other words, my ma lied to her sister. (* See contextual posts here ((latter portion)), here ((latter portion)) and here).

In fairness, I appreciate that if I want to explain my reasoning for not seeing GA then it is only fair that it is me that does so.  The problem is between GA and me, and has nothing to do with my mother.  It was simply easier for her to make this bullshit up to GA.

Apparently, though, GA worked it out.  My mother forwarded me this paragraph from an email exchange between the two of them:

I’m sorry that we’ll not see SI, but I’m not surprised that she doesn’t care about seeing us.  The last time she saw us was a very hurtful time for her [around V’s death and its aftermath] and she wouldn’t want to be reminded of that.  We can just hope and pray that by the next time she sees us, she will be able to understand that we didn’t intend hurt to her – in fact, just the reverse.  It’s extremely difficult for us to be in this in-between situation, not intending hurt to anyone but causing it nevertheless.

Part of me thinks this is reasonable enough, but part of it continues to annoy me, as yet again she bleats on and on about how hard things are for them.  Maybe so, but what is the relevance of that statement?  Having this knowledge does not benefit my mother nor I in any way.

Additionally, she still believes my disdain for her and her family relates directly to V’s will.  Certainly, I think they behaved appallingly in that regard, but it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

Furthermore, I have no belief that they intended to hurt me.  I just think they behaved like fuckwits.

I finally decided that it was time for me to wade into the discussion.  It was partly to prevent my mother having to explain the situation; it was also partly because I know my mother will fuck up the story.  Anyway, this is what I sent GA.

Dear GA

I have been advised that you have been informed that I will be “away” during your time in Northern Ireland.  Please be aware that this is not the case.

I do understand, however, that you have mostly worked this out.  I should like to clarify a few matters that you appear to have misunderstood.  You clearly opine that my lack of interest in meeting you whilst you are in this country is predicated entirely around the death and will of VA [ie. V].  This is not the case.

The reality is that unfortunately we have absolutely nothing in common except the luck of a genetic draw.  We share no beliefs, thoughts or outlooks whatsoever.  My view is that your family’s behaviour surrounding V’s will was simply a further illustration of something that has always been the case (ie. our wholly divergent outlook on life).  It is not a reason for my unwillingness to meet you in and of itself.

I would also like to add that any speculation or discussion on my ongoing mental health issues is not an appropriate conversation for any of my family to engage in without my express permission, especially in my absence or via means that do not include me.  I thank you in advance for respecting my wishes on this matter.  If it is of comfort for you to be aware of these illnesses, then be advised that as well as depression and anxiety, I am diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and bipolar II disorder.  There are a significant variety of contributory factors to these.

I do not wish to cause familial problems; however, I feel that more problems would be caused than solved by a meeting between us.

I wish you a pleasant trip.  Please do not reply to this email.

Yours sincerely


I went ahead and sent it, after brief consultation with A.  Now I feel guilty and even sorry for her, even though I hate her.  Rationally, I think meeting her would be problematic. Rationally, I think the matter did need to be brought into the open. Rationally, I think my email is fairly reasonable, if rather cold and unfeeling.  But my irrational mind’s endless desire to feel sorry for people and things that have no reason to be pitied has once again rared its pathetic head.

Well, too late to do anything about it now anyway.  The email has been dispatched and I am sure I will receive a running commentary on the matter from Mum when GA arrives.

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