WELCOME BACK

April 2016: After three years away from this blog I'm back. It was originally started so I could make sense of the madness that ensued after my marriage to a sociopath. Much has changed, grown and been created since then - including reclaiming my full birth name Melanie Pledger.
My voice has become stronger, and so has my mission. I'm here on this earth to share the life-changing magic that developed as a result of my personal journey overcoming abuse, abandonment, manipulation and betrayal. I've learned that many of the rules we've been taught about life are fundamentally wrong. They've been misunderstood by most, misused by some, and deliberately misdirected by the manipulators who live and breathe among us. I've also learned that it's easier and more enjoyable than people think to shift things around...
Now I know there was a reason for it all. So now I'm back to fill in the gaps. To share what I've discovered, and dispel the myths that don't serve us... I look forward to reconnecting with old friends, and discovering new ones.
Thank you for being here.
Mel xxx

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Four Years On...

Candles

Today is Thursday 23rd April 2013. I am relaxing with a cup of coffee at Limoges airport in France, sipping a café crème while I wait for my plane to arrive. I'm feeling excited about the coming two weeks in the UK, and am also taking this opportunity to give myself a big smile and a massive pat on the back. It’s only now, looking back with clear vision, that I can begin to fully comprehend exactly what I’ve achieved over the past few years – and I am filled with pride and love for myself. Does that sound boastful? Well, perhaps taken as a stand-alone statement I suppose it could indeed appear a little as though I’m blowing my own trumpet – although I still maintain there’s actually nothing wrong in that… but I digress. The recognition of exactly who I am and where I am, for me, feels like a huge release. A sense of lightness. Of freedom. And of peace. Because not so long ago it was a very different story…

Four years ago to this day I was also at an airport. It was Angouleme airport, and I was there with my son. It was the day after the evening when I had uncovered all the sordid, sickening details of the life my husband had been leading behind my back. The night before I had finally fallen in to bed, exhausted, sobbed out and totally empty (apart from the good few slugs of brandy I had downed). The next morning, four years ago today, I faced the toughest challenge that has ever been put in front of me. Because I knew I had to tell my son Dylan what had happened. That everything we knew had suddenly changed beyond comprehension... and I knew it would break his heart. It was beyond excruciating, because I already knew the pain that my words were about to cause the most precious person in my life. To this day I remember his innocent little face crumpling in agony as the dreadful truth sank in… heaven forbid that I ever have to witness anything like that ever again.

Four years ago, we were clinging to each other at the airport, broken hearted and numb with shock, glad to be  flying to be with people who love us (Dylan was going to stay with his father, and me with my sister) and at the same time facing a terrifyingly uncertain future.

To be honest, looking back over those early days and weeks, I really don’t know how I got through – well actually, yes, of course I do… but I sometimes wonder, had I known in the early days just how long the war was going to be, and how much tougher the battles would become as time marched on, well... perhaps I might not have continued with quite such determined force. But I didn't know, and I did battle on - and thank goodness  for that. Because now life couldn't be more different...

Now… Aaahhhh.... NOW…. Well, I can honestly look back over it all and feel glad and proud. Glad that it’s over, and proud at what I’ve achieved in a remarkably short period of time. Because today I am sitting here full of wonderment and excitement – about today and about the future.  Today I am prepared for a two-week trip to the UK that promises to produce yet more opportunities and adventures – and Dylan is at university in Bordeaux successfully finishing his end of first year exams. Incredible! We spoke on the phone last night, both of us remembering the road we'd travelled - how far we'd journeyed and where we'd got to....  

Things have of course become steadily better... and since the end of last year, my life has taken extraordinary leaps forward, in just about every way conceivable - and the hits keep on coming! I have published my first book; I am surrounded by an amazing team of people - both personally and professionally; I am contracted to appear in a movie along side such self-development luminaries as Brian Tracy and Don Miguel Ruiz; oh, and I am also just about to launch an ‘inside-out’ training programme that is destined to have a major impact in the way we do things, both in the corporate world and in ‘Life plc’… Talk about feeling fizzly - this is more of a full-blown supernova! (Wikipedia's description: "a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of its mass" - ha, well I couldn't have put it better myself, perhaps apart from changing 'mass' to 'mess'!) 

So how have all these shifts come about? Well, even while I was still fighting my battles and claiming my victories, even while I was still exhausted and wondering where I'd find my next burst of energy, I heard it said by a few people that “you are so strong, you always pick yourself up, it’s just who you are …” and on many occasions I felt somewhat peeved. Didn’t people realize just how bloody hard I’d worked to get through challenge after challenge - not just now but in my early years? Couldn’t they see that it’s not simply a question of “it’s alright for you…” it's so much more than that? Couldn't they jolly well see that I've been in training over many years to be able to get through this particular nightmare for goodness sake? And then all of a sudden it dawned on me that perhaps they couldn't see that at all... and I went quiet. 

And then I got to thinking. … Hmmmm…. OK, yes, I am strong and yes I always pick myself up - but was that nature, nurture or something else? Round and round the questions went while I explored reasons and theories (as many of my closest friends will witness!) until I became absolutely certain beyond any doubt that in actual fact there is nothing ‘special’ about me at all…. By which I mean no more ‘special’ than anyone else here on this planet. 

Because I came to understand that in actual fact, over the years I had been learning, checking and fine-tuning a set of skills that got me through the shifting sands of my experiences - so yes, it was indeed "just who I was" but I had become that way through a set of testing situations. I had learned how to be flexible. I had learned about responsibility. I had learned to ask the questions and not take 'no' for an answer. And above all, I learned about courage. I honestly believe looking back, that it was only once I'd successfully fought (and won) so many battles, that I knew I finally had the courage to go within and do the real work. To find out and connect with who I really am - because it was then that I finally 'got it'... 

I remember when it happened, because I wrote about it here in this blog. It was June 2010 and I remember feeling terrified as I came to understand that this sense of 'no way back' was upon me...! I also remember that once I actually 'got there' and found myself - well, there was really nothing at all to be frightened of - quite the opposite in actual fact. Because from there, things really started shifting and getting better. And as I got to understand what had happened on a 'soul' level, I began to realise that being so previously 'disconnected' with myself had caused me no end of difficulties. 

As I began to truly grasp the meaning of this, I started to understand that this is something that we all do in some way shape or form. And I became fascinated with the idea that perhaps I could find a way to guide others to do what I had done and clear whatever obstacles or challenges they were facing... eventually I succeeded, and it worked. Each time I felt the compulsion to 'go for it' in coaching sessions, I just seemed to be able to hit the spot - no matter the person or the situation. People would call what I did 'Mel magic' and I really did begin to wonder (and worry!) whether it was something that perhaps only I could do because of the trials I'd faced and overcome?  

To my absolute delight, in recent weeks I have come to absolutely know beyond any question, that the technique I have developed can be trained and repeated by other people. Simply put, it is a process that guides people to 'light up' from within, and by doing so create the life of their dreams. This methodology has recently become a brand. And this brand has become a product that (together with the fabulous people who have gathered together to create the key team) I'm now ready and able to launch to the corporate market as well as to "Life plc".

Very soon there will be a website and more to explain exactly what this programme is and how it is going to work. Until then, just ponder this... if I can deal with all the stuff life has dealt, and successfully turn my life around in the way I have... and if the techniques I used are now transferable through a specific training methodology... and if the approach for this training methodology can also be adapted to fit not just the corporate world, but also schools, parents, teachers, groups - people just like you and me - just begin to imagine now what this could bring to others... and ultimately to the world we live in... Are you feeling fizzly yet...?

What a difference four years makes eh? Thank you :-) 
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Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Darkest Hour Is The One Before Dawn

Dawn over Moreton Bay-1=
Phewy... and.... breathe.... Over the past few days I've been feeling somewhat 'stuck' and blocked. I know, it happens to all of us every now and again. Recent weeks have brought such a buzzing roller-coaster of experiences that I'd forgotten how much the 'darkness' can feel so overwhelming when it arrives. I guess like so many others, I can be prone to periods where I lack energy and motivation, where it seems (emphasis on 'seems') that all is about to be lost and nothing is moving forward. I have referred to these moments before as the 'blip' times and I accepted long ago that whenever things become uncomfortable or unsettling it always signifies a period of growth and adjustment. I know for a fact that it heralds the start of something new, and that always (and in all ways) it is a good thing. But crikey, it can still be tricky when I'm in the thick of it!

This particular dark phase hasn't lasted very long. It's been a powerful one though, prompting me to once again bring in to play the skills I've been fine-tuning for so many years. I learned long ago not to fight whatever feelings I may be experiencing - just as I've also learned that the 'trick' to this is to just go with the flow, allowing whatever feelings to arise, without any judgement or blame. Whatever is going on is just an expression of who I am - and since I have finally learned to love who I am... well, then it stands to reason that there simply can't be any criticism, right? And so it has been that from that place of love, I have watched myself over the past few days as I've slumped around the house, feeling tired and lethargic, and prone to tears for no apparent reason. And at the same time I have loved myself for being that way, knowing that given time, patience and kindness I would come out the other side even brighter than before.

I guess it's part of nature's cycle - and there is no point arguing with that! Things die away to make room for new growth, and I suppose it's natural to feel a sense of mourning through the process. "This too will pass" is a phrase that has been running through my head, as I've continued to smile at myself in the mirror and give myself comforting 'mental hugs'. And you know what? Daft though it may perhaps seem, I can honestly say that this last dark period has been one that I actually learned to enjoy...! It doesn't mean I'd like to feel that way more of the time, it just means that this time it posed no real threat to me. Before, I would have been afraid. Before, I would have been worried that perhaps I was doing something wrong. Before, I would have been so focused on fighting 'what is' that I'd actually have prolonged the agony!

This time, though, I knew for sure that whatever was happening would pass. I remembered that there is a gift in every experience, and that however I might reappear the other side I would be brighter and stronger. Another of my favourite sayings is "the darkest hour is the one before dawn" so this time I chose to embrace the darkness, taking myself off to bed when I felt tired, and crying whenever I felt like it.

Last night, just after midnight, I felt the darkness lifting. And I rejoiced, knowing for certain that whatever blocks had been there were loosening their grip. I thanked the darkness for whatever gift it had been bringing, and went to sleep with a smile on my face. After a night of the most amazing dreams, I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of energy and life.

Things have shifted. I have grown once again. And I am ready for the next leg of my adventure.

Today I have had some wonderful conversations, some 'out of the blue' contacts, and some pieces of very positive news. Oh, and today, by the way, is also the day that finally finally the paperback version of my book is available worldwide through Amazon. Coincidences? Well... you know my thoughts on those ;-)

Bring it on - I've just stepped up another gear. I am peaceful, I am free, and I am ready for the new day.
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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

And We Call This Humanity?

Humanity in Motion
Crikey, I've been having a funny old time of it recently, I can assure you! Mum would always ask me to qualify that kind of statement with the question "Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?" and the truth is that this time it's been a pretty equal mix of both. So I'll stick with what I just said, yep it sure has been a funny old time...

You'll probably already have gathered from my last post that my roller-coaster life has once again kicked up a gear - and with that of course has come a few surprises. After my story appeared in the Daily Mail, I have been inundated with messages; from people thanking me for sharing my story as well as from media people keen to interview me. All good stuff, all confirmation that I'm doing the right thing, and all helping to raise awareness of my message that we all have the power within us to overcome adversity.

During this process, though, I have once again come up against one of my old adversaries. A part of society that plays a necessary role in protecting the innocent - but that also, in my experience, has also become part of the circus that unwittingly continues to support the less than innocent in their antics. What am I referring to? I am talking about the libel laws and their professional representatives. More of that in a moment.

Firstly, though, I am keen to highlight what I believe to be the media's misplaced thirst for selling bad news and discord. For those of you that have followed my story, you will already know that I am all about giving people hope, together with the necessary tools, to break free from being a victim (in any way) and to live life in freedom, choice and light. I know from experience that whatever life decides to throw our way, there is always something we can do to reclaim our freedom. There is always always something that is within our control - even if, as has certainly been the case for me in the past, it felt as if the only thing that I could control was my breathing. My message is about noticing and grabbing hold of anything and everything that allows us to regain our personal power - every tiny step is a step forward - until we are free from whatever chains (real or imaginary) that threaten to keep us prisoner.

You'd think, therefore, that perhaps I have some strong positive messages to share with people, that might actually serve to bring a little positivity in this increasingly confused world we live in? You might also think that publications with the power to reach millions would be interested in promoting such stories of hope? Hmmm... I thought the same. But it appears that instead of that, most of the publications that have approached me are only interested in the headline grabber. They want to focus on the 'poor woman duped by a sociopath' - and nothing else. Take the Daily Mail, who dictated how I should look (clothes, makeup, hair, pose, expression) to sell their story. They didn't want a photograph that shows the vivacious, positive person that I believe I am. Nope, I had to look severe, serious and (in my opinion) downright frumpy. Is it any wonder that the piece received a number of 'it serves her right she looks like a moose' type of comments?

I can ride those kind of storms - of course I can. There are always people who revel in making judgemental and negative comments. Sadly there seems to be a growing culture of cyber bullying and vile comments posted by a small minority. But that's not the point. I believe that we have a bigger issue. I believe that by consistently focusing on the 'bad news' we are only encouraging the baying mob and in the process we are in the process of dehumanising ourselves. I've seen it time and time again in my professional life - working with people who are either too afraid to speak out against wrong-doings, or who simply can't be bothered. "What's the point?" is, sadly, a phrase I have heard far too often for my liking.

So back to the libel lawyers. Those who know me well are already fully aware of the absurd battle I faced in even getting my book to publication. The details of which are far too complicated to write about here in a blog, so they are going to form a large part of my next book. The series of unbelievable events I went through are enough to make anyone's teeth curl! (Another wonderfully colourful expression my mother used on many an occasion). Suffice it to say that I have learned a huge amount about what can and can't be said. What can and can't be expressed. And how the most important thing is to make sure backsides are covered - instead of focusing on supporting those of us who have been through the ringer to get a real message of hope out there. It's skewed, to say the least!

But that's ok. I worked with these laws to get my story published - as I have said in the preface to my book:


"I am an ordinary woman who has faced a series of extraordinary circumstances to become the person I am today. Privacy laws dictate that I cannot divulge identifiable details about many of the people and situations that caused me so much pain. It’s a law that exists to protect the innocent, even though many of the people I’ve come across have, in my opinion, been far from innocent in their actions. That law, paradoxically, has actually worked in my favour while writing this book because this is not about ‘them’. In truth, it never has been; it’s about me. This is my story."


So I've done the hoop-jumping, and I've played my part. I have black and white evidence to support everything I've written about. I have witness statements and more. I've changed names, places and details so that people cannot be identified. And as I said, that's ok, it's more than ok in actual fact.

So last week, when I was contacted by a well-known morning TV programme inviting me to appear on their show to talk about my experiences, I welcomed the invitation with open arms. I was well aware that they'd want to focus on the tabloid headline grabber (that was inevitable) and I knew that once I was given air space I could work on getting the bigger message across to the audience. So I started talks with the programme producers. I supplied all the supporting evidence I had collected during my publishing journey. I explained the steps I'd taken to protect privacy. And I agreed to go in with their headlines. But that wasn't enough.

Ofcom rules dictated that they had to get a 'right to reply' from the people I was talking about - which meant making direct contact and asking for comments. Now, I understand the need for Ofcom's rules - of course I do. But in this particular case it seems crazy to me on so many counts. Not least of which is the fact that, having done so much to mask identities,  it would have meant divulging real names and locations to a bunch of strangers... how could I be sure that these details would remain confidential? (Not such a strange question to ask once you understand my previous experiences with another libel lawyer...) The main sticking point though, for me, was that I was once again being asked to put myself at the mercy of a disordered person. Someone who had already very nearly claimed my sanity with his lies, leaving me in a situation from which I had successfully fought so hard to escape. I was not about to give anyone that kind of power over me - not then, not now, and not ever again!

So politely, and firmly I declined the invitation, making this point at the same time: "... It's a shame that the 'rights' of someone who is clearly disordered takes precedent over sharing truths that help so many other people..."

And I felt pleased. I chose to step away from something that would have not only compromised my position (and that of others) but also given me a voice only on the condition that I talk about the headline grabbers rather than the bigger story. I had already been told "we only want to talk to you about the sociopath, nothing else..."

That same day, walking through the train station after a late evening meeting in London, I saw a young woman sitting and crying on her own on one of the benches. It was gone midnight, and there were very few people there - apart from a few policemen who were gathered at the ticket barrier - but I was astounded that nobody seemed to be helping her. So I went up and asked her if she was ok? Of course she wasn't, and as she shook her head, her face crumpled and her eyes filled with tears. I sat down next to her and held her hand as she explained what had happened.

She told me that she'd missed the last train to London by two minutes, and even though the train had been at the station, she had not been allowed to go through the barriers. She knew nobody locally, and was facing the prospect of spending the night in the train station. Hearing her story and seeing the policemen nearby, I went up to them to ask for their help. They'd been watching me all the while. Guess what they did as I came close to them?

They bristled, pulled themselves upright and shoved their hands in their pockets while the cold expressions on their faces gave me the clear message that I was to back off. You know, I actually felt I'd done something wrong! It's a darned good job that I am a trained communicator, because it took all my skills to crack through those defence barriers. They told me that they had it in hand, that the young lady was 'a mess' and was 'inconsolable' - rolling their eyes as if to say 'you see what we have to put up with?' My blood boiled but I kept calm. It turned out that they were waiting to hear whether they could get her on the last staff train home. But they hadn't told her that. And when I asked what could be done to make her wait more comfortable, they shrugged their shoulders, with another rolling of eyes, and told me that there was nowhere warm she could wait.

After making sure that they would indeed keep her up to speed with what they were doing, and would keep an eye on her while she was waiting, I made my way back to her and put my arms around her (making sure, of course, that the policemen saw what I was doing). I reassured her that they were doing all they could to get her home and that she was going to be ok. I then helped her do up her coat and put her hood up so that at least she would be warmer. I stayed with her until the tears stopped and she let me know she was confident that she was being looked after. Looking over at the policemen, I made sure they acknowledged me with nods and reluctant smiles.

So why couldn't these policemen have offered this vulnerable girl just some simple human kindness in the first place? Have they perhaps become so used to people attacking them that their automatic response is just to stay away? Was that why they all bristled when I went up to speak to them...? Or perhaps they've just joined the 'what's the point' brigade that is threatening to drown our system of humanity. Have we become so trapped by our rules, following blindly without checking the results or even questioning why they are there? Are we becoming that robotic in the way we lead our lives that we've become immune to what's really happening?

I don't know. But as I walked away from that young lady, knowing that at least I had done all that I could, I felt even more certain that I'd done the correct thing in turning down the barbed TV invitation. It's a sad state of affairs when it seems fear and separation is seeping in to our society - but it's not too late to do something about it.

I for one am absolutely determined to do all I can to stand up, speak out, and jolly well wake people up to the reality that we CAN make a difference. It doesn't take much. Just an honest reality check and a small amount of courage to shift the way we respond.

I am on the case and fired up. Watch this space my friends, watch this space.

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