Literally falling apart

Emotion still raw from my poem, I have found my symptoms of PTSD rife today. Tired, jumpy. Unable to sleep for the dreams of invisible hands clawing at me thrusting me into an adrenaline fuelled wake. My headache has ached and my body temperature ranges from sweating to freezing. I definitely don’t feel good.

I saw my GP reluctantly today about a health issue I had been putting off. It was serious after all and I need to see a specialist. I’m miserable at this news. Aside from the obvious health concerns and inconvenience the major issue for me is – I lose an element of control over my body. I HATE this. In pregnancy is the only time I have relinquished control knowing that the well being of my baby is paramount. However, without pregnancy, I find it impossible to give my body to health professionals for investigation or treatment.

So now I face the grief of my own poem, that it represented something so deep and important to me, the uncertainty and fear of my health and of course, my mental health and medication regime. It unsettles me enormously.

When did I become so weak? So frail? So useless?

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The fallout from writing a poem

I decided to write a poem. In it I would express a night in which my life changed. I would write my observations where previously they had only been shared as a police statement. Only this time I could bare my soul. Express my emotion, the depths, the darkness. Own it and regurgitate like a horrible sickness. Say my words with the horror and disgust that they were meant to be heard. Grieve and scream through the power of words alone.

My poem. My expression. My story. My words.

A tangible entity of everything that happened, the pain so deep and fear powerful enough to live forever in my soul.

My poem was complete. It was mine.

I shared it with my husband, he looked worryingly at me, he told me it was extremely confrontational and enquired as to my well being. I felt ok. The poem was constructed over a few nights. I didn’t want to deliberate over it during the day.

Until today.

Having minimal sleep I read a revised version over. There my factual inaccuracies hit me. As flashbacks. Two. Terrible. Painful, graphic. Both the image and the verbal account to police. I threw my phone. Curled into a ball and sobbed. How could I be so stupid? How could I have forgotten these things? Made these mistakes? I felt sick, beaten by the flashbacks, unsafe and sordid. For a brief moment I forgot who I was. Time, location, everything was gone. Nothing existed. Just this flashback. These details. Sadness, terrible gut wrenching sadness, fear and pain. I’m ashamed to confess that there was a brief moment where the old habit, the old desire to self harm crept up. Needing to cut a wound into my flesh, to see the blood run. As a punishment and to bring myself away from this horrible pain and these horrible memories.

I sobbed until I was exhausted of tears. I called my husband at work. I said the poem is wrong. The facts are wrong. “It’s your poem, you can write another one, you can change it. It’s your choice, it’s your poem.” He said to me.

I fell into an exhausted slumber for about an hour before my friend called. A call I was happy to receive.

Before I left to pick her up, I took my husband’s advice and just tweaked the two errors that caused the heartache. I realise in doing that I’m owning it again and it gives it some perspective.

It’s been a long day and I’ve not considered it again. There is clearly too much emotion tied to this than I’d initially thought.

Maybe one day I will put it in my blog.

Where I’m from

The country I was born in, is not where I am from. In fact I have spent less time in the country I was born in than my entire life overall. When I had the opportunity to leave, I left. I ran! I have travelled extensively over the years.

In time, I have come to objectively view elements of the country that I was born in with a fair eye. I enjoy the architecture and the history. Some of the finer dining establishments, and winter shopping in the capital. But that is where it ends. The culture, the archaic mentality, poor healthcare, poor education, high crime, insufferable racism and poor standard of living makes it a miserable place for me. I am estranged from my family, and all I have are demons in the murky girth of the place. So my home, my place of identity is where my home is. My family are, my life is and where legally I reside. I am proud of this heritage, of the history and the people. I take pride in my home, I appreciate the beauty, the unique culture, the expanse of unusual and captivating land. It’s where I have grown. Where my children have been born and grow.

At my very nature I’m a free spirit. If I hadn’t settled, married with children, I would still be wandering the globe. But it is what it is. And so home is here. I don’t expect to have to argue my case. Today I did and I was surprised by how much it hurt me.

I truly feel that people are born and then wander. Their home is wherever they choose to make it. It’s like whomever you choose to be with, a man, a woman, alone, you choose your company and so that’s your destiny. No one has any right to question that – to query decisions or query validity.

We choose what’s right and what’s fitting. For me, I have abandoned my historic links to an extent. They don’t make me feel good or safe. And that’s my choice! No more or less valid than the next person.

The most important things I know to be true are my passion and my strength to stand by what I believe in. The rest seems to be very much an altering work in progress.

I feel I have embarked on a lonely journey, as no one can understand what I’m experiencing and thinking about right now. As long as I keep my feet grounded into what I call my home and hold onto my passion, I will see where I go….

Reclaiming Facebook!

When we went back to the UK for my husband’s contract, I felt it necessary to drop my Facebook profile and create an alias. It created a sense of safety should anyone want to look me up that I didn’t want to. It allowed me the positive aspect of staying in touch with friends all over the world as well as groups and articles that I enjoy reading through the newsfeed. LinkedIn has always been my professional place so I doubted losing any professional connections as Facebook is a social network of course. I had periods of being unsure and would periodically deactivate my account but the draw card is seeing good friends status updates and keeping in contact in real time.

When we relocated to New Zealand, an old friend got in touch and one of their connections was distressing for me. I didn’t want to lose my friend, but I had no choice, the connection hadn’t been noticed immediately, so comments and pictures would have been viewable. Despite the pseudonym, I felt exposed and vulnerable. I deleted the account and created a new profile. Its not been particularly easy for friends to keep up with the changes, and I really appreciate their patience. I took all necessary precautions, blocking, advising the potential ‘gateways’ not to discuss details – that alone has been an extremely traumatic experience filled with learning curves. There certainly seems to be no ‘right’ way to handle things. And it seems the more you try to protect other people and the more you try to create less hassle – the more you end up creating it – for both parties! There is no doubt, social media has HUGE ramifications. You literally never know who can be connected to whom. Your safest person can stand right in the same shadow of evil. It really is both odd and scary how things can pan out.

Anyway, I am of course, outspoken, outlandish, I comment a lot on Facebook, on people’s status’s, I post things, I argue – I am hardly an unknown. To extend where people in different countries have asked who I am. This has begged the question, if you care so much about your security – why do you leave yourself so open to being talked about? You cannot seek safety in social media, but comment frequently and contribute to emotive or confrontational conversations! Of course people will ask about you. Either you own It and be yourself or you, basically, shut up! My response is that – why should I tailor myself? I am this way in real life. Why should I live in fear? Why I can’t I say how I feel? Speak for what I believe in? Comment on something when I want to without fear of someone saying something and everything starting to unravel? IT IS UNFAIR! Then the answer again – BE YOURSELF! do the security things that have to be done, but really its all or nothing. The secondary comment I heard was – Who said it was supposed to be fair? I just find that comment sickening. I think everyone is entitled to some fairness. Everyone. Or what is the point?

So, with shaking hands and rapid breath, I closed down the Facebook account I had come to know so well and opened my real account. I had missed my real account. Friends that I had lost contact with. Old pictures I hadn’t seen in a while. It was both scary and liberating. I hadn’t realised that by reluctance to reopen the account held such deep roots to the past for me. That something as simple as reclaiming my name and my identity on social media would signal a move forward from hiding. Am I saying that I am no longer ashamed of who I am?

I utilised the opportunity as the account had been redundant to look at links from my connections that I had found by accident. Its a confronting and painful thing to do. It leaves so many questions. When I drive I always drive with the window part down. I’m very claustrophobic. I like moving air around me whenever I am still. Sometimes the wind can be so strong that if I turn a corner the force hits me, it takes my breath away and blurs my vision. Its a horrible moment, as I’m in control of my car. There is a moment, fleeting of losing control of my body, being at the mercy of a powerful machine, it happens so very rarely of course. But I mention it because its that terrifying feeling, that loss of control, that moment of realisation of total loss of control, that is what I had when I looked at these pictures, these profiles.These names. These lives. There was something bigger in control. And I couldn’t breathe.

I have blocked a lot of people now. I don’t want anyone to hurt me or cause me stress. I just want good friends, acquaintances and my usual news.

Now, I have taken my place back. One small step….

Tough day (again!)

I can’t remember if I mentioned an incident that happened at my 7 year old daughter’s school – involving a 14 year old boy walking onto the playground during after school care and getting her to lift up her skirt. I can’t even be bothered to go through my own blogs to see if it was mentioned! Forgive me, I bore myself!

In a brief summary, my husband and I were very unhappy that our daughter hadn’t been supervised, that an older boy had gotten onto the playground and been able to establish a rapport (grooming), and that the teacher on duty had subsequently shouted at our daughter for it. We initiated (yes, WE) a meeting with the principal. He has the personality of a wet cornflake. Even that might be too flattering and offensive to the cornflake. He felt that our daughter should accept some accountability for lifting her skirt. I asked him if he was familiar with the phrase ‘victim blaming’ – a term lost on him. He was defensive about the lack of supervision, citing lack of staffing and ‘stressed staff.’ My recommendations to increase staff and change current staff were not met with enthusiasm. Furthermore, when I suggested tighter security I was told that this was a ‘community school’ and they certainly weren’t going to ‘lock down.’ Overall, Cornflake didn’t take kindly to being spoken to assertively by a woman. Yes, he’s one of those men. If I’d have fluttered my eyelashes and licked his balls, he would have been in his element, but as I queried his management and suggested certain teachers took retirement he became uncomfortable and clearly had to suppress the urge to shout at my husband to control me.

As we felt ‘unheard’ we followed the next step, going to the board of trustees.

While of all of this has been going on, Cornflake and his army of coffee morning mothers have been using petty excuses to get at me. Where I park usually, but it can be anything, from something I did/didn’t do, or even my old favourite of talking oh so loudly near me – which I like to counteract by playing heavy metal music. Make no mistake – I don’t make life easy for myself! The bitches want go talk, I’ll give them something to talk about.

The Trustee meeting was fairly routine, small hick town, everyone is thick as two short planks. But we had already taken the girls out of the afterschool care and found a fantastic one which is safe, friendly and where they can actually play because the staff aren’t lazy old gits. The minutes from the meeting were passed onto the police (at my request because I wanted the boy found and spoken to) and school policy meant Child, Youth and Family. But just to be real arseholes about it, the school ‘forgot’ to send us a copy of the report and in that report detailed the next steps.

Imagine my horror when I received a call from Child Youth and Family today. It was out of the blue and just put me in a full tail spin. The woman I spoke to was incredibly nice. She was surprised that the school hadn’t been in contact but had seen all the communication between us so realised it wasn’t a good relationship. She had already met my children which further upset me. How can all of this occurred without my knowledge? She told me they were wonderful, healthy, happy children – my other daughters were witness to my 7 year old lifting her skirt. So they were asked about the incident, their thoughts and feelings. I became emotional upon hearing this over the phone. My daughters were asked these things and I wasn’t present? Or even there afterwards or help explain or reassure them? I think that they may have been confused, unsettled. The social worker tried to reassure me that she was very child focused but it’s still painful to hear. Their responses were wonderful. Happy and content, for that I am extremely grateful. As a mother I worry all the time, am I making the right choices? Am I damaging them somehow because I am so damaged? But they are just ordinary, healthy children.

She did tell me that she asked them if they were familiar with good touching vs bad touching. Which of course I’ve drummed into them from a very early age and talk to them about repeatedly. The woman said it was great that we did that. But even as we talked about it, I felt those prickles, the shortness of breath creeping up.

By the end of the call we were chatting like old friends – as my work history is extensively in social work. But when I put the phone down I just felt drained.

There seems to be a culmination of events at the moment. The nightmares are gaining momentum, I suppose I’m jumpy because of the dark winter evenings. I guess I find myself thinking about England a lot – probably because the weather is so bloody miserable.

Anyway, days like today don’t help. I’m just so relived that my daughters are safe and healthy. I would do anything to protect them. And any parent that chooses not to, you don’t deserve to live.

A little thing called routine

This evening I took the dog for a walk. It’s winter here, so evenings are dark early. Knowing that I get jumpy and easily anxious in the dark I wanted to push myself. So I set off on my usual track – off course what I stupidly hadn’t considered is that my usual track is by the water and there’s no lights. I, of course, always carry a torch. But still, I wasn’t going easy on myself!

Convinced I was brave and wouldn’t be put off by irrational fears we headed off. Me, purposefully taking slow steps as a f-ck you! To fear! All was going well. The wind and rain had given us a reprieve after days. The dog was having a blast. The full moon meant I was treated to plenty of light and pretty reflections off the water.

It was on the way back it started. First a rustle in the trees, I assumed it was the dog, only to see the dog grinning inanely next to me. OK, must be a possum, it’s definitely not a crazed attacker. Bit further along I hear what sounds like thudding, distant traffic or serial killer and my imminent demise? Obviously the latter! So we continue, my dog oblivious to the fact that I am now panting and my own ears are more pinned back than his. My car seems like a sanctuary sent from the heavens, however I’m also conscious that there’s probably carjackers now waiting for me to turn at my most vulnerable angle so that they slit my neck and take off. I have the whole image playing in my head. Of course in the comfort of home I imagine myself doing some Chuck Norris moves, but in the cold dark night I feel about 10cm tall and made of glass.

I admit I did what I’ve done before, I called my husband, did the whole, ‘I’m just calling for a chat’ but the only time I ever do that is when I’ve got a guilty conscience or I’m nervous so he twigged pretty quickly it was nerves because of the time of night.

I stopped at the servo on my way back and noticed a group of lads that looked pretty rowdy hanging about. I’m always very aware of my surroundings, I like to know who is around and quickly gauge their intentions, especially at night. There’s a sense of being prepared if things are going to get out of hand. It’s a good trait to have. But it’s also tiring because I’m always on the defence. Always looking for the danger, always got my adrenaline running. Always in survival mode. I can’t imagine being any different. So by the time I finish at the servo, I know how many cars, people and staff are around, I know my possible threats and my own path. I get home and as I drive up the driveway I’m assessing any unknown cars, movement around the area, neighbours houses, my own home. I already know what’s locked in my house and the sliding door that’s unlocked for the dog but I know my husband will lock it when we go to bed.

Some nights I go downstairs and check everything again. Some nights I’m too afraid and will ask my husband.

I will walk my dog late again of course as happens in winter. And the same things will occur even though I try to fight the fears.

This is what happens when you find out that monsters exist. This is survival.

Fundamental lies

There were three fundamental truths that I believed as a foundation to my childhood without question.
1, my parents would always protect me, stand by me, help me.
2, if the monsters ever got me than the police would step in like heroes and take them away
3, good people get better. Bad people get crunched through ‘the system’ and pay for their bad behaviour.
I don’t know what led to this naive belief. Was it things I learnt in school? Things I learnt from the above people? Was I told by peers? Was it reinforced through propaganda in the media? Remember the stranger danger warnings? We all knew if some strange man wearing a rain coat offered you sweets you ran away screaming and told the nearest police officer who happened to be a street over and then the rain mac man would be arrested and no one would see him again. Although no one said what the rain mac man might actually do if you took a sweet from him. Then there was the dilemma at the dr when he offered a sweet, is the sweet indicative of something bad? But the dr isn’t a stranger nor is he in a rain mac. But my mother is here and she’s not saying anything and it’s rude not to accept something that’s offered so I guess I accept a sweet.

I was a very naive kid growing up. My parents believed that kids shouldn’t know anything. At all. Often I’d sense their anxiety or stress over things but I didn’t understand why. I believe that their decision to withhold everything from me was well intended, unfortunately not well thought out. Like when I got my first period for example – anyone see Carrie?!! Yep, i thought I was dying.

Unfortunately when someone knows nothing at all, they aren’t prepared. And when they aren’t prepared, well it’s an opportunity for people that are less well intentioned.

And the second part to my parents belief is, they don’t believe in discussing anything – especially if it’s hard. They prefer things are swept under the carpet. They are old school. It doesn’t help to talk they feel. What is the point? What’s done is done.

So I learnt that my parents weren’t able to protect me or help me.

I learnt that not all predators wore rain macs

And I learnt that the police weren’t infallible – that there are archaic laws, systems, procedures, and police aren’t trained well, they forget things, they make mistakes, they lose things.

Sometimes growing up can be excruciating. And you spend your adult life angry and confused. As a parent you try to do everything you can not to do the same to your own children.

I don’t want my children to know the pain of growing up in a lie, worse still thinking that everything they thought they knew meant nothing.