24. ‘Lockdown’ within cave land – part 2.

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Today we are on ‘Day 8’ of our lockdown in cave land and … it’s Mothers Day.

My last blog was posted on day 4 when I wrote about how lucky I felt being in lockdown in such a lovely area with the room and space I have around me.  Now, 4 days later, my thinking has altered slightly.

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I am beginning to realise that it is not how big your castle is, how large your garden may be or the number of places you can hide in that makes lockdown more bearable.  On day 8 I am more inclined to say, although size does matter, it’s the state of mind we have that is my new number one.

As human beings we tend not to like being told that we cannot do the things that we have taken for granted all of our lives.  We all know that this lockdown makes total sense and may totally agree with the rules that we have been asked to abide by but…. deep in the back of our human minds we don’t like the thought of not being allowed to do the most normal of activities.  It is so easy to get into a negative frame of mind.  We are all human, it will happen, to some more than others.

What do I personally do to combat my own images-1human failings – especially on this particular mothers day?  Please remember, I am not saying my way is the right way but sharing what appears to be working for me …. so far.

1.   I am taking it day by day.  I am not looking towards the end of lockdown (now extended to the 12 April) as for me that appears to be too many days away from today.  In reality it’s not but…

2.  I am not planning my day’s activities.   Instead I give myself something to aim for.   Today images-4for example I would like to spring clean my bathroom.  You notice I said ‘like to’ and not ‘must do’.  This gives me a get out clause if I decided to do something else.  There is always tomorrow!

3. I am actively researching places I would like to visit when this is all over. images-12 It may be several months away but I am getting excited about the not so far off future when I can tour around.  I enjoy planning where to visit, where to stay, what to see, history of the different areas etc.  It doesn’t have to be far from home.  There are so many beautiful places to visit within Spain and I would love to see as many as I can.  A night here, a weekend there…. sounds good doesn’t it?

4.  I am trying to keep in contact with the outside world.  I try and talk as often as I can to family and friends by messages or phone.  I have images-6also enjoyed the many live events hosted on Facebook over the past few days.  I have watched exercise classes to great music sessions from people coming together, (not literally of course), from all over the world.  People are talking, performing, sending jokes, sending recipes – simply communicating with strangers.  One particular event yesterday moved me to tears reminding me that we were all in this together.

5.  For me personally, I do not want to stagnate.  Yes, it is great to have a sofa day but I images-7know that the more sofa days I have the less positive I get.  I need to see and feel that things are getting done.  It may be painting the dining cave walls or simply sorting out a drawer. Whatever the task – I do need to feel a sense of achievement.  Others may not need this but, I know that I do.  

6.  There is a lot of bad press out there.  We have all read it and have been affected by it.  However, there is also a lot of great news out there to.  images-9  Speaking to my son Chris today by phone – he commented how positive it was that people are thinking about others and offers of help are spreading far and wide.  I couldn’t agree more. The different ways that people are offering help and sharing with others is amazing and seriously makes my eyes leak.  It doesn’t need to be much.   A simple text to someone you have not spoken to for a while saying ‘hi’ may be all it takes to make that person’s day a better one.  We often have no idea what other people are going through, and  we may never know, so I try to be kind and reach out whenever I can.  But, again, we are all human and we must not forget to consider our own personal well being.  We should never be afraid to ask for help.  Don’t forget that. 

7.  I remind myself of the things I do have and not what I don’t.  My life is good and I don’t need to be reminded of that fact very often.  To whomever it may concern – A little less curve balls thrown in my direction would be good though – please.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, keep positive and keep planning for the future.  Most of all keep talking.  images-11

Hugs to everyone especially to all moms on this very unique Mothers Day.

23. ‘Lockdown’ within Cave Land

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The Corona Virus is affecting everyone all over the world.  The majority of people have had and will have more restrictions placed on their everyday activities as the days go by.  Some more than others.  We are presently on day 4 of our lock down in Spain.   ‘It’s not been that long’, you may say.  I would agree but it is harder for some than it is for others and we have to be prepared for the original 15 days enforced restrictions to be extended further.   This is not going to be a quick fix.

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We sit here in our cave discussing how this is affecting our lives and what hardships we will have to endure.  We will not be able to visit friends and family for a while, won’t be able to go for a meal at the local swimming pool in Los Carriones or a coffee at Emilio’s.   We won’t be able to go to the garden centre or my favourite mall in Granada.   We will not be able to go for a drive out to the lakes or explore nearby towns and villages or chat with the friendly postman as he sorts through the packages in the back of his garage.   Ok, so that is how it is going to be, for us.   Not to bad you might say.  Yes we are confined to our home boundaries (with the exception of going food shopping, vets, bank, fuel, (only one at a time and strict regimes in place when you get there)), but we are truly lucky to have what we have around us.  Our own personal hardship is not that great – so far.   

We then started thinking about how it could be affecting other people near and far who may not have the things we have.  

Why do we feel so lucky?

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We have a large cave in which we can spread ourselves around.   As our rental cave next door is empty we are free to use that space if necessary.  By adding both caves together we have in total 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 kitchens 3 lounge areas, one dining room, an office,  a gym, 2 garages, numerous patios and a huge wood store.   That’s enough space to find a quiet spot if you need one.

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There are many people in Spain who live very happily in their smaller apartments or homes.  However, being confined within that space can be hard for some, especially now.  In normal times people live their lives and everything is generally ok especially when you are happy and content with what you have and with the person(s) you are living with.  But, what if you are already in an unhappy relationship or the thought of not being able to leave the confines of your home is very limiting and depressing?  I cannot imagine how difficult that must be.   There must be many people in this predicament who, on day 4, are counting every second with dread.  All I can say to anyone who may be in that situation is to use friends via any communications method you have, find something to do that you enjoy or think about things that make you happy.  From me to you – I send you all a huge virtual hug.

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We have our own land around our cave so we and and our three dogs can freely roam and potter in the fresh air.  We also have the added bonus of lovely scenery all around us. 

Many people do not have that luxury and have little or no outside space in which to escape.  We have sometimes thought the land we have is a little problematic regarding upkeep and trying to think of ideas of what to do with it but … I am, on day 4, so pleased we have it.  Weeds and all.

With today’s communications network we can keep in touch easily with family and friends far and wide.  We use WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype etc etc which is all becoming increasingly more important as the days go by.  They keep us in contact with the outside world and obviously with our family and friends.

Some people do not have these luxuries.  They may have a mobile phone and tv but little else.  Don’t get me wrong, that is enough to keep in contact with people but we feel spoilt for the choices that we have.

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We live in a sparsely populated and rural area where few cases have been reported.  In fact, we have had no reported cases within our immediate area to date.  So far, we are healthy (relatively of course.  John still has his heart problems and I seriously need to lose  the weight which has piled on recently).  So why are we as worried as we are?  That is the question being asked by some back in the UK.   

Because we are!

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How many times have I heard ‘but it’s just like the flu’! For me it’s the same as people’s attitude to smoking ‘dope’.  For many it’s a case of feeling good for a short time while you enjoy your homemade joint.   Good for you!  That is your choice and you are free to do what you want with your life.  However, for others, and there are many, it causes mental health issues. hallucinations, horrid nightmares and paranoia.  I have seen it happen so many times to so many people around me over the years.  The same attitude is being applied to this virus.  This virus may just be a walk in the park for some but for many it has and will continue to be painful, disruptive due to being hospitalised and even in the worse case scenarios causing loss of life.

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We like most families have people we deeply care for who have a medical condition which this virus poses a great risk to.  We have good friends who need hospital treatment but cannot get it now as the hospitals have no beds or are closed to regular appointments.  It is causing such distress to those who need to carry on with the treatment they were receiving and now are in limbo not knowing if the lack and delay of treatment will cause them to get worse or halt their own recovery.   It’s not a happy position to be in.   I don’t want to lose any one of these people due to others not taking precautions and treating this virus as ‘the flu’.    I’ve just been watching on TV the scenes at a popular coastal area of Spain where Brits are acting as idiots and only interested in drinking themselves stupid while they happily socialise in the streets.  It does get to me.

Getting back on track,  we are lucky to be locked down where we are, but I do ask everyone to consider the consequences of what they do especially in the next few weeks.  The UK may not yet be in lockdown, but it is coming I am sure.

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So, day 4 comes to an end and I’ve planted the flowers I purchased last week, watered the trees, moved 3 pallets that you apparently can see on Google Earth, brushed the dogs, done the usual housework and washing and now I am going to sit down with a cold drink.

Cheers everyone and please please please keep safe.  For you and everyone around you.

19. Cuevas de la Paz are finally ready for guests.

 

What can I say…. it’s been hard work and it’s given me more grey hairs than I like to admit to but, we have achieved our goal and can now open the doors of Cuevas de la Paz to our guests.

When we purchased our own casa cueva we did not intend to buy anything else.  We had (and still have) lots to do to transform our large cave into a home and a separate holiday let.    However, whilst sitting with a cup of coffee, up pops the bargain of a lifetime on my Facebook timeline .   The selling price had been dropped dramatically and we had no hesitation in wanting to know more.  We quickly arranged a viewing for the next day knowing that others would be interested to.  We had been determined not to rush into anything but, once viewed, we soon realised that these caves were ‘too good to be true’ at the reduced price.  They were full of artifacts collected within the farming region and with a little TLC could be up and running quickly.  Once we had looked over each cave twice we both decided to take a risk.  We jumped in with two feet and the caves went off the market.

There are many quirky things in these caves but one ‘adornment’ in particular has people coming up with lots of ideas!  One cave has two iron rings above the bed!  We were told by the agent that these were used for the animals when the caves had been shelters for the local goats.  We will leave you to decide whether that is a true fact or an addition made by a previous owner for other uses!

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Our next decision was whether we left the caves as they were, (already a going concern but being trueful, they were dark, cluttered with various items and not that appealing), or should we give the caves a makeover.  After several conversations with my loving accountant husband it was decided to start with plastering (yeso) the lot rather than patch the walls up!  We knew that this would give a cleaner and a more pleasing look to the interiors.  Once you start looking around you find other things to do don’t you? – well we did!

The large expanse of barren car park appeared to be a waste of land.  So we decided to make a smaller car park at the top end with its own gated entrance and the rest of the area into a walled garden and seating area.

Then there was the bedding, toasters, towels, patio area and how about making the store room into a new gym.  To cut a long story short we have spent more than we intended to but, isn’t that always the way?

DSCF1040Gym? Well why not. Some people do like to ensure their fitness does not deteriorate during their holidays!  We have tried to cater for most tastes with 5 different machines – treadmill, rowing machine, bike etc and a small set of hand weights.

The immediate outside area has been stripped of its tangled ivy and replaced with seats.   We have added a budha or three to give a calming and relaxing feel to this outside area.  It is now an ideal place to sit with a morning cup of coffee.

We are now happy with the new revamped look of the caves and the area they sit in and any further work can be completed when and if.  I need to get my hair coloured and my back mended before we do anything else!

The area we live in is varied  and beautiful with great walking paths, magnificent lakes that we have around us and old abandoned caves to explore.  It is truly beautiful and so vast – you will have to return again and again to see it all!

To see the other transformations, especially of the interior of the caves, please take a look at the Cuevas de la Paz website.     www.caveholidays.com   Any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Thank you to all our friends and family who have given us encouragement and offered help during this time.  It has been much appreciated and we will never forget you.

 

 

14. The decision has been made.

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The decision has been made.  We have both agreed to sell our original dream cave.  It has been a hard decision in many ways but after weighing up all the pros and cons it was not complicated or difficult after all.  We should sell and put our energy into the new cave home (Casa Cueva) in Puente Arriba.

At the beginning, some of our friends and family thought we had gone potty buying such a project as the original cave, never mind at our time of life.  In some ways they were right but nothing ventured……  As life has a habit of doing to us all, it took us down a different path.

Yes, we are of a certain age and I for one am not as active or as proactive as I used to be.
I would be a fool to pretend otherwise.  The meticulous planning that I have completed so far has been extensive and I will admit, exciting, but it has been mentally tiring too.   The other issues are with the usual stress we all go through with the red tape, local authorities and fighting with work men to achieve my own ideas for our home.  These issues  are just the tip of the stress mountain.  I really don’t want that in my life.  The dream – yes it was a great dream and I will never regret it but I am being realistic and want to enjoy the rest of my life, no matter how long or short, enjoying the Spanish life style and weather.  As I say that we are having snow storms and cold weather, but we know it will not last.  Cross fingers.

Our latest purchase in Puente Arriba is going to be our home.  All our efforts are going into making it as comfortable and homely as we can.  If you have been following our saga you will know that the cave is in two parts. The first half is in a fair to good state and is certainly livable in but the second half needs lots of tlc.  It is going to take time and a great deal of thought to get to the stage were two become one.  But, that is our aim.

Then we have the land around our cave – 10,000 sqm. in total.  I need to look at each area and every aspect of the different and varied layers to ensure that the land around us is used to its best advantage – that is to say for our best advantage.  Seating areas with views, to a secret garden, they all need to be carefully planned and thought about and then thought about some more.

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That is where I am at the moment.  I have ideas. Some will need to be tweaked and others discarded but that’s half the fun. The first priority is to fence our land, (shown here in red), so that our two  rescue boys do not wander off to say hello to the local shepherd and his flock or find food in the neighbours kitchens.  The fence will also curtail the numerous local doggie visits we get each day – leaving presents behind is fine but I must confess to not wanting those kind of doggie presents outside our cave door.

Saying all that the dog population are friendly and they all welcome each other and play which is kind of nice but I just don’t trust our two boys not wander off so….fence it is.

In my next blog I will take you through some of my ideas for the outdoor spaces and walk you around the land.  Hope that you are enjoying our adventure, our ups and downs and our new challenges as we continue or journey with life in Spain.  Thank you for reading.

13. Something to cross off my bucket list.

If you are thinking of buying a shelf or a type of unit to house a DVD or Apple TV, you may think of visiting B&Q or Ikea.  I certainly have on many occasions.

fullsizeoutput_33c0However, when you live in a cave, as we   do, there are other options.  You could attack the cave wall with a hammer and chisel and carve yourself a shelf in the rock wall.  I debated long and hard about this option; the thought of how deep the recess would need to be to house all the electrical devices was not that appealing to me.  Chiselling out a hole in the wall is not an easy task especially as the rock can be very solid, a hammer may not crack the nut!  I have also been reliably informed that a small hole creates masses of debris by our lovely neighbour Steve.  He should know as he has a few recess shelves in his own cave.  So, what other option do I have?

The second option is to build out into the room.  It could be a shelf or a unit but no…..when you live in a cave the obvious thing to do is to build a rock to house your gadgets.

So, how to build a rock?  This is something I can honestly say I have never thought of before.  I have built steps, arches and fireplaces but never a rock!  I came up with a plan  to use breeze blocks and chicken wire.

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A visit to the local builders yard and a walk around the cave grounds gave me all the material I needed.  I haphazardly arranged my building material in the corner as near to the design that was in my head. Then I rearranged them and then rearranged them again. This went on for a few days.  Eventually I was content with the overall shape and set to work joining the full and half bricks together with a great deal of Yeso.  I wanted to leave two flat areas on the top so that I could place tiles to form a platform for the gadgets.  This was to be my cave shelves.

At this point I realised I did not have a tile cutter which was to be an important piece of equipment but a trip to our local town Baza sorted that.  Tiles cut and sited and the job was done.  It may not be perfect but I really don’t care because……I did it!

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Was it easy…no it wasn’t.  It was time consuming, thought provoking and a little back breaking but I would certainly take a few short cuts next time and I have learnt a lot about building a rock.  All I need to do is to finish the paint job on the wall.  Job done.

Something to cross off my bucket list.

 

10. We made it to Spain. Perfecto!

22728836_740099056178328_996893290030930417_nHow we’ve survived the last few weeks I will never know.  It has been seriously hard!  Chris, my son, asked me how and what was so hard and I just couldn’t put into words why we felt that way! Perhaps it is our age, perhaps our health or perhaps we underestimated the energy we would need to move lock stock and barrel to a new country, again.  Perhaps it was due to all three.

It all started with saying goodbye to some very good friends.  We have been lucky to have a handful of people we could rely upon in Cyprus.  The kind of friends that are there for you no mater what.  We all know that true friends are like gold dust and we truly feel blessed.  Bill and Sue, Dave and Doreen, Hercules and Effi, Gay, Christakis,  just to name a few.

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In the short time we had to prepare for our journey, we made detailed plans to ensure our move from Cyprus to Spain went as smooth as possible.  However, plans can only be as good as the people  involved.  If those contracted to do a job or made promises to deliver don’t, then your plans have to be adjusted.  Sometimes our plans got adjusted on a daily basis!  We have been so disillusioned by others being money orientated, power mad or just plain devious.  We are honest people and pay good money for a fair job – but it is not that straight forward sometimes, is it!

The only ‘plan’ that sailed through the process without hiccup or change was for the accommodation and transportation of our two dogs, Barney and Charlie.  We went ahead of the boys by 11 days.  Annie’s Animal Ark (Anne Parsons) made all the arrangements to get the boys over to Spain, resourced giant crates and kept us informed all the way.  Her fee for the work she did was  not just fair but brilliant.  Then there was Tony and Gina Potter.  Tony cares for visiting dogs in his own home and the boys simply love him.  For us to leave the boys with Tony and knIMG_0817ow that they would truly have a great 11 day ‘holiday’ was such a relief.  Charlie has one mission in life which is to clean everyone and is a fairly confident boy but Barney is, and always has been, a very fearful boy.  Walking  with Barney outside of his own safe domain can be a nightmare.   God forbid if there is a parked car on the street that is not normally parked there.  He would simply refuse to pass this highly dangerous situation and use all his strength to return to the safety of his domain.  Being 38 kilos and having a strong front end (having 2 operations on his back hips made the front half a power pack), if Barney wants to go, you go to.  This is all down to him having a bad start in life in Cyprus as a pup and we were very worried that he would not survive the journey but with Tony and Anne taking charge all went so much better than we could have imagined,  Thank you so much to you both.  You come highly recommended by us all.

 

We have now been in Spain for 2 weeks and each day we get closer to getting our paperwork and general life sorted.  We will have our new car on Friday, (fully insured with a tracker fitted hopefully), which will allow us to return the hire car – hooray!; with a good wind we will be official residents of Baza when we get our Padron at the end of the week, (we need an address which is registered with Baza town hall and, as we could not use our first cave’s address as it is not yet registered with them, we were stumped. However, we should be proud owners of another two caves by the end of week which are registered); and we will have internet in the new caves within a week – now breathe.

full_1535_18511If you recall one of the caves is fully reformed and is almost ready to move into.  This will be our home until our original cave is complete.  Once we are settled in we can work on the front area of the caves to transform it into an area of peace and tranquility with sun beds, hammocks and outside eating areas.  The second cave next door is unreformed, but once complete, will provide us with an additional rental cave for anyone wishing to stay in a truly amazing area.  These two caves will be known as Cueva de la Paz 1 and Cueva de la Paz 2.  (Cave of Peace).

When the contracts for the new caves are signed (we are crossing fingers for the 3rd November) we will have 5 days to clean inside and organise any small repairs that are necessary before we have to move out of our rented cortijo (farmhouse).   I then need to arrange for delivery of mattresses (bases are built in), a couple of chairs, microwave and bedding and we can move in.  Our container from Cyprus should be arriving sometime after 9 November (we hope) so we should have a homely cave by then.  More fun to look forward to!   Chris is flying out hopefully on the 16th so it will be all hands on deck.  Did I say he could have a holiday?  I lied!

We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our future in Spain can begin and I will work hard to ensure we enjoy every minute.  Hopefully the family can come over as often as their lives allow, which will be wonderful for me as I do miss them loads, and it will be something different for them.  New experiences to share and enjoy.

I am ending this blog now as my Cerveza Limon is ready to be consumed.  Enjoy, I know I will:-)

xx

 

 

 

3. Cave Living. Why?

 

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Our cave!

Cave living – why?  Caves have been home to mankind forever. We have all seen pictures of ‘cave men’ huddled around an open fire whilst they look out for predators trying to join them in the safety of the cave. In more modern times these caves have become homes that we would recognise today. Within the Province of Granada in southern Spain there are thousands of cave dwellers, or Troglodytes as they are fondly known, who’s families have lived in caves for hundreds of years.

My first thought upon hearing about cave dwellings was a very negative one. Surely the caves are damp, dark and dirty? How can anyone live in a cave? Yes, some are damp, dark and dirty but often it is not the cave itself – you get houses like that all over the world. The majority of cave dwellers have the perfect homes. Dry, clean and can be added to quite easily by digging out another room. Apparently, not long ago, when a wife became pregnant she would start digging ready for the new arrival. It is not unusual to find an 8 bedroomed cave!

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Until only a few years ago cave living was for the poor and cave homes seen as inferior to the modern town houses. Shepherds and farmers used them for shelter (and for their animals) as they worked. They were dug out of the land often by hand or small tools. Today caves are becoming big business. There are many hotels and restaurants in caves and even churches and council offices. Cave living is on the up and up.

What advantages are there to cave living? The answer is simple – lots!

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When To Give Up?

images-3.jpegIf I had asked myself this question a few years ago my answer would have been a resounding ‘never‘!

But….life sometimes takes you on a different path than you expected just to prove that your beliefs are not as stable as you once thought.  Your once certain knowledge to the ‘Questions of life’ can change quite dramatically.  For the better? Not too sure on that one. Ask me in a few years time.

We all know perfectly well that there is good and bad in this world. You cannot turn the TV on or open a newspaper without that fact jumping out at you. However, today I want to talk about the good and bad that can effect our very existence, the good and bad that is closer to home and personal.

We all get hurt by someone close to us. A husband, wife, child or friend – it does not matter who they are. Those closest to us can hurt the most.  Sometimes those that are close, whom are generally caring and kind, want to hurt you in any way that they can. The pain from this hurt is the silver lining of all pains. So why does it happen especially when you truly don’t deserve to receive such hurt?

I have agonised over, digested and agonised all over again, this very question. My conclusion is – I don’t know and I don’t think they know either. Sometimes when a person is hurting badly they will turn against the one person they love and they then become the enemy. All their fears and anger gets channeled onto you. You have caused all the pain and suffering because you did not do…….you have caused this to happen because you should have……I would not feel like this if you had…….the list just goes on and on.

The world does not revolve around one person. Our lives have many factors that we should and need to consider especially when we make life changing decisions. To balance all these considerations is far from easy. Whom do we let down or upset, what can we do to help to balance the scales, how can we make it work for everyone, what do we ourselves actually want to do?  There can be so many considerations to work through and agonise over when a major life changing decision has to be made but… there is one thing for sure, you are not going to please everyone.

couple_communication_errors_281x309.jpgWhen a person channels their anger and hurt at another person who is close to them, feelings get that intense they cannot see or hear anything other than the thoughts in their own head. They wear blinkers and will not accept any action or words that don’t fit into their self made picture of events locked away in their minds. They only hear certain words in a sentence which are then used against you to justify their anger. The problem with this is that everything gets taken out of context and it does not matter how many times you try and explain, nothing else gets heard. You are talking to a brick wall that has gone deaf. Their pain, self made or not, is just far to intense.

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