Some years I write a newsletter summing up the year passing….to family and friends. One Aunt in her 80’s delighted me saying she LOVED to get news this way….so in her honour…HERE IS & WAS 2009!!
CHRISTMAS ROUND ROBIN 2009
24 Loughcrew View . Oldcastle, Meath, Ireland.
Dear Family and Friends,
I have an Auntie on my Mother’s side who is a game old bird in her 80’s. She recently took computer classes to learn how to use the internet and stay in touch with friends and family! When I wrote Christmas letters in the past, she said she loved to get them, they were as good as Coronation Street (!), so with that in mind, here is a recap of my 2009
This time last year I ‘met’ a gentleman from Hollywood California on MySpace a social networking site on the internet, and in a very short time we were speaking for hours every day on the phone like a couple of teenagers. He is the same age as me and had grown up in Hollywood with a semi famous Dad, and he’d had success himself in the music business. Sex, drugs and rock and roll took its toll on his life and he is now divorced, lonely and broke. I thought, indeed we both did, we had met our soul mates, but sadly when I went to visit in June the reality did not match up with the fantasy, his medication regime for a previous back injury had him zoned out or hyper, and he had to counteract the pain medication with sleeping tablets and anxiety pills. Throw in a propensity for alcohol and it made for a very uncomfortable bedfellow so to speak, and I bailed out. But more of that in a while. January I spent a week in Spain with a girl I used to foster, who is now married and working as a radio d.j. very successfully. I got a 50 euro return Ryanair ticket, I brought home 3 cartons of my brand of cigarettes which cost a third of what they cost in Ireland, and I spent the week with my friend and her husband so it was an inexpensive and welcome break. My smoking addiction was a bit of an issue, I smoked in the guest room and apparently the odour stayed on the clothes in the wardrobe for weeks so slap hand for me, but it was generally a lovely week, and good to see Rachel in her grown up life, she was quite a celebrity on the Costa Brava! February was the toughest in a lot of years. My niece took Sharon’s ex husband to court for child sexual abuse which he committed against her when she was 13. Sadly he only got three 2 year sentences to run concurrent and suspended which meant he spent no time in jail, nor did he get put on the Sex Offenders Register, which had been my niece’s primary motivation in taking him to court, to prevent the possibility of other children being victimised. The worst thing about the court case, was not that the truth got diluted by about 95%, but that it polarised our family and shockingly, my parents and 2 sisters and another niece sided with the paedophile and spoke for him in court or supported him with their presence. Louise was re victimised as she watched helplessly as Paul Hopkins lied and dissembled his way into the family’s hearts and trust, against their own flesh and blood. Tellingly, none of his own family attended the court or supported him in any way. Anyway, the details of all that will be in a film and book I am working on, although this is my niece’s story and I have my own to tell. The injustice of the court case outcome and more especially the reaction and lack of support from the extended family were the hardest things my niece and her Mother have had to deal with in a lot of years, and they are still both trying to deal with the fallout and come to terms with their betrayal. It impacted an upset me hugely, I felt suicidal a lot, as did Louise. I had been re activated into my own background of abuse and I felt despair both for myself and my niece. I have written my way back to sanity and hope to have a publishing deal early next year, and my first film is in production. Louise is putting one foot in front of the other and doing her best to mother her three children. Raiu has some serious health issues, more of which when test results come back. Kathy did the only thing she could in defence of her daughter and cut contact with all family members who had disbelieved her daughter and worse, supported the man who molested her. Kathy still remains incommunicado with most of the family and it is a great source of pain to her and her daughter and myself, but she has taken a stand for the truth and I respect her for that.
I hope and pray the coming year will bring some healing in that situation, and like every child sex abuse survivor I yearn to be believed as does Louise, and we will not give up until we are….it took more than 20 years for the victims of the Irish Clerical sexual abuse victims to be heard and validated but they never gave up and nor will we.
As I mentioned earlier, I went to see my new friend in Hollywood in June. To be fair, just the telephone support the difficult aftermath of my niece’s court case, was very welcome and I should thank him for that. I had noticed sometimes he slurred on the phone but he assured me it was his medication and it was not until I was face to face with him 24/7 that I realised it was actually a real problem. We were together in Rodeo Drive in Hollywood when the news of Michael Jackson’s death came through which was so sad. Apparently the majority of people in Hollywood are abusing prescription medication in one way or another, so sad. Even the rich and famous reach out to numb the pain of this thing called life, addictions are a terrible curse and I still battle with mine….I had two attempts at quitting smoking earlier this year, which didn’t go past 10 days, although nicotine patches and love were a great motivator! And after a stint in rehab in 2007 and a year not drinking, I sadly started again after Louise’s court case. Just a few glasses of wine a day, I can’t deal with whisky any more, but I am still aware that the demon alcohol wreaked havoc in my Mother’s life and could so easily trip me up again. I either need to get very happy in my personal life or get back to regular AA meetings I think. Drinking alone, even if just two or three glasses of wine, is not healthy. I forgive myself for now.
So having abandoned my new love after only 8 days, I high tailed it for the rest of my 3 week holiday over to San Francisco where I still had friends from when I had lived there 20 years previous. Alexandra gave me her bachelorette condominium on the bay to use, and we drove different places almost every day and had a ball. Definite silver lining and very nostalgic for me as I had not been back in 20 years.
Gabriella introduced me to FACEBOOK another social networking site last year, supposedly so I could monitor the boys on the internet, but unexpectedly it opened up a whole new world for me, and helped me a lot to re integrate my life past and present. I used it for creative writing amongst other things, and in response to some of my work, I was invited on a speaking tour in America, addressing the subjects of abuse and recovery in a christian context. I spent 12 days in Louisiana, speaking at a Womens Empowerment Conference, a Prison, a High School, a Professional Womens Network and a couple of churches. The Mayor gave me the key to the city of Lake Charles and honorary citizenship for outstanding service to the community in coming over to address a difficult subject and going where ever invited, and the hospitality was fabulous. I met up and stayed with an amazing woman who has written a book on children of domestic violence, being one herself – she has made a huge success of her life and travels internationally with her work and ministry. We are going to collaborate in the future on many projects.
I am going to spend the New Year with Kathy and Louise and their families, with my 2 boys. They started boarding school locally this September just gone, they are away Monday to Friday and back at weekends, and they took to it like ducks to water, absolutely love it. It is only a small school of 200 pupils, with about 50 boarders and they have a real sense of community, it gives the boys a sense of family which as a single parent with health issues it was difficult for me to do. (My diagnosis was changed this year from Personality Disorder to Dissociative Identity Disorder which used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. I don’t do a Sybil and am quite well most of the time, but I can disconnect under stress, and also lash out at loved ones so to ALL who I have offended the past year or previously PLEASE FORGIVE ME FOR CHRISTMAS! And I will forgive you too ha ha!)
The boys’ Dad lives only a few miles away and has regular contact with them, he minded them a good few times over the year whilst I was travelling, he has got involved with their school Parents Association and is very active where he and the boys go to Church. We are both still very committed Christians, but sadly our marriage was never going to work, and I am finally, after 9 years separation, filing for divorce at the moment. We attend separate churches and the boys go with Paul to his, because the childrens group is very active there. Both boys also went on christian summer camps, Josh in Roscrea and Jamie locally, which they loved. During school holidays the boys are mostly with me, spending a couple days a week with their Dad, and during term time, we share them, 24 hours each at the weekends. Takes a bit of flexibility and sometimes superhuman commitment to co operate for the boys sake, but it works very well. Paul was in the Building Trade all his life and has had no work for almost 2 years, so it is great to have help with the boys, and he hopes to re train in another field as he will be approaching his 60’s when this recession peaks and passes. Gabriella and I are on great terms again after a difficult few years. We visit often and I adore her son Donnchadh, a year and a half old now and delightful, he has a mop of black curls and looks just like Gabriella did at his age! She graduated University with a 2:1 in Textile Art and does some exquisite work when she is not parenting a toddler fast approaching the terrible 2’s! She lives about 7 miles away in Kilnaleck, which is where we lived for a couple years when we first emigrated to Ireland back in 1996, and Donnchadh’s Dad is a very devoted Father.
So New Year will be London for a week. We had hoped to go for two, but a Celtic football scout is visiting my sons club here on December 28th and they would have swum back across the channel for that so I changed our arrangements! I adore my children and grandson. I am trying to get back to work and earn some money because since the breakdown of my marriage I have had to depend on Carers Allowance from the government and a single parent benefit, which whilst a great help, is not what I want long-term for myself or the children. The Carers Allowance was because Jamie has a serious visual impairment and Josh has Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder but both are stable and doing well, with great medical teams, Ireland has been good to us. I sold my camper van at half what I paid for itf, but the weather over here doesn’t warrant too much camping even in comfort, and it was good to free up some money!
So I think that is all my news or an overview of it…it has been a busy year, extreme pain and extreme joy possibly in equal measure, but with bright possibilities for the future. I love my friends and family and you all have a place in my heart, even those with whom I only catch up at this time of the year. Any of you brave enough to learn social networking on the internet can find me as ANGELA POWER on face book…actually I introduced a lot of the Power side of the family to it and now all sorts of cousins and relations are in touch, sharing photographs and news, which is lovely. Gabriella stays in touch with her American side of her family that way too, as well as e mailing, and she plans a visit there next year. GABRIELLA STRANO and JOSHJAMIE POWERDISNEY can also be found on face book, feel free to get in touch we would love to ‘see’ you there! How about it Auntie Barbara, would you like me to come for a visit and teach you how to do face book?? Go on , I dare you!
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU….REMEMBER AMONGST THE FESTIVITIES THE REASON FOR THE SEASON, AND MAY NEXT YEAR BE BLESSED, SAFE, PROSPEROUS AND FULL OF LOVE AND RECONCILIATION FOR ONE AND ALL.