Keeping my children safe

It was time to initiate the chat with my older daughter this week. She’s 10. She was sat at the breakfast bar drawing. My husband and I were sat near her in the family lounge. I hadn’t wanted it to be premeditated or else I’d feel the pressure and panic. So I casually asked her about the word she’d used the previous weekend that caused me to get very angry. The word that made me send her to room for using it out of context and that had her Father speak to her about it. At first she couldn’t remember which really got my shackles to rise. My husband prompted her the word was ‘raping.’ She said yes rather dismissively and I went over what she thought it meant and what it actually meant.

We have taught all of our children the basics about bad touching and that adults might tell them to keep ‘secrets’ we’ve covered that bad touching can be done by other children, teachers, parents, even people that should know better like police officers and that regardless of what is said and/or done they must always tell us.

We used the word raping to explain that could mean different types of assault and usually forced. My daughter asked how someone could force themselves on you. I could feel my strength was wavering. But I persevered and gave examples without being brutal enough to give the kid nightmares. Then suddenly she said, ‘did you say no?’ I said what? She repeated the question. I felt my entire life drain out of me.

My husband took over the conversation and brought home the importance always communicating any unwanted attention and also only using the word correctly. Then I came on really strong going over it all again until she got really upset and ran running from the room in tears saying she didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

Mother fail. Again.

When I was growing up my parents didn’t teach me anything. They taught me things like not putting elbows on the table, how to sit like a lady, children are seen and not heard, etc. I didn’t have sex education, and my parents didn’t even tell me about periods. So when I got my first period, I thought I was dying.

When I was raped, I knew something was wrong as I was in pain and the man seemed angry but I didn’t know what it was. When I wet the bed for months afterwards (at 14), no one said anything, no one told me it wasn’t right. The nightmares, the self harm, not eating, was all visibly apparent but wasn’t discussed and they were coping mechanisms that I had learnt and no one told me they weren’t healthy.

When I met this gorgeous man at 17/18 and that began this spiral into a terribly unhealthy relationship of re victimisation all I knew was that I had a man that I believed could keep me safe and would stand by me.

I was, ill prepared.

When I pressed charges against the man that raped me my parents told me that they knew something had happened but felt it was up to me to tell them.

But how could I? I didn’t understand what had happened to me.

So now I have this powerful urge to fill my daughters with as much knowledge as I possibly can. Forewarned is forearmed. Because I know I spent most of my childhood confused, fearful and alone. I was embarrassed, ashamed, I didn’t know where to turn. And I NEVER EVER want my children to experience that.

But I don’t want to overload them like I did this weekend to my daughter. Fortunately my husband can be objective and play mediator. I’m just so scared for them. I don’t want to fail them.

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Beam me up Scotty

My car is dead. I took it to the mechanics and the computer threw out a code which apparently only the car manufacturer can decipher (Holden – Chevrolet in the US). So I drove it to a dealer only to be told there’s a major engine malfunction. I only bought the car 2 months ago! So my husband needs to squabble with the dealer up in Auckland to get it sorted. Meanwhile the repairs will take at least a week. It will be a few thousand dollars. And in the meantime, I have a rental.

I hoped this week might be better. How bloody silly of me. It’s all gone to shit, from my vacuum cleaner blowing up, to my kids friend’s mum giving the police my number (by accident – she thought my number was an after school carer for her kid) and me getting a phone call at MIDNIGHT from the police. I tell you, I’m just about sick of it all.

So today was therapy. I was too dog tired to get too deep. Which in itself pissed me off. I feel like I need to flog myself half to death in therapy to feel like I’m getting anywhere. Mostly we talked about setting boundaries, and we talked about the police being a trigger for me but I can’t escape them at the moment! First the woman I helped last week and now this random call. Furthermore my ten year old daughter used the word ‘raping’ which sent me into a tailspin. Turns out some kids were using it in the context of restraining but I didn’t expect to hear it. I had to get my husband to speak to her because I didn’t want to be a sobbing mess and scare her. Mother fail AGAIN.

I’m not feeling good about myself. I’m not feeling good about where I’m at. I’ve lost my way. My past clings to me like a horrible demon, never letting me forget where I came from. Trying to pull me into a bleak abyss. The darkness is familiar to me. I could lose myself in the deep foreboding shadows. Sod everyone. Let me close my eyes. Let me switch off. Let me not care anymore.

I can’t see my future. I never was one to look to the future. I’m more of a present person. And my present sucks. It really sucks. It is sucking the life right out of me.

I’m just so very tired and so very fed up. I have nothing left to give. I am but a tortured soul that is trying so desperately hard to survive on an empty promise of something better.

Alone. One day.

I just read this blog and it’s so incredibly powerful. It roused deep intense emotion within me. Short, bitter sweet. Beautiful.

Shedding Light on Darkness

Your family are out and you are busy tidying up the destruction only two small children can make.

In your son’s room, wading through the pieces of plastic and tiny bits of Lego you are trying to find the floor among the chaos.

On your knees, picking up the pieces of a board game, paying attention to the colour, the texture of the pieces of plastic animals in your grip, you are ensuring to keep grounded while you are alone.

When you look up and out of the window at the sun breaking through the clouds, at the beauty of the green trees that almost but not quite, block the sun.

The sun is like a spotlight- you on your knees, looking right up. And you can’t contain it, just for a few moments, you just can’t keep it in any longer.

As much as you fight it, even though you try to…

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Feeling like my car

I’m just feeling really fed up at the moment. And a bit like my car. My car has been throwing out some signs that’s it’s not doing so well. We only bought it 2 months ago! First the airbag light stayed on all the time and I moaned to my husband that it needed looking at. Then I had a flat battery. Thank god for my neighbour jump starting it. Then another light stayed on the dashboard which, according to the manual meant, engine malfunction. Then I noticed it’s WOF (warrant of fitness) had expired, that’s a MOT in the UK, not sure about anywhere else. Only by a few days. Then this morning it died again and wasn’t going to start. So I had to call out the AA. He got me going and it was straight to the mechanics. My husband came back from work and took the kids to school and then took me to get a rental.

I know how my car feels. I’m tired and fed up and I’m sending out signals but no one really seems to notice or care.

Last week was hellish for me. Then my husband went to Auckland to see friends on Friday to Sunday which he deserved to do and I’m really happy for him about. But after it felt more difficult than usual being left with my four children. Weekly therapy is especially confronting. I’m not sleeping especially well and in sole care of the kids I don’t want to dip into any of my PRN medication because I need to be alert. On the Saturday my eldest daughter (10) was desperate for friend to stay and play. Although I really didn’t want that – it was kind of thrust onto me. I took all five children to an indoor playground where the girl’s mother was going to pick her up. Hours later – still no mother. So I politely text her to ask her plans and she asked if I in fact could drop her daughter at home. We drove there and then I was railroaded for her to stay overnight. The mother had things to do, the kids were pleading. I tried to explain I had 4 children already on my own but to no avail. We ended up driving back – all 6 of us. It was a long night. I knew I had grocery shopping to do but I wasn’t going to attempt it with everyone and at this point I was still unsure about my car. Turns out – rightly so!

I guess right now I’m feeling a bit beaten down. I had wanted to be gentle on myself knowing that therapy takes it out on me. Knowing that I’ve only just got to the right levels and right medication for my mental health. But gradually, like my car, I’m being pushed even though warning lights are coming on the dashboard. Just last week, last Thursday I had the incident where I pulled over to help a woman in distress. Although I was calm at the time, later on it did bring up some memories of my abusive ex boyfriend. As anyone in therapy knows, you are more vulnerable to memories to popping up and emotions coming up in waves. It’s hard to make sense of these when you haven’t dissected them before. And it’s tiring. It’s also extremely lonely.

I feel like I’m stuck in this awful routine that just keeps getting worse. And I guess I’ll just be like my car – one day I just simply won’t start.

Therapy and a roadside drama

Today has been especially difficult and confronting for me. Starting in the most unusual and unexpected of ways. I had just walked my dog down by the local river and we were driving home before it was time to set off for my therapy appointment. I saw ahead a woman gesticulating wildly for me to pull over. There were no vehicles ahead or behind me. I could see a Toyota Camry pulled far away towards the river on the other side, this road is a state highway and as such the traffic is fast moving. But along the river are walkways. And at various spots spaces for cars to pull off and park safely out of the way. I assessed that it didn’t seem to be a break down as the hood wasn’t up on the Camry and no one appeared to be looking over the car. I saw one large male with two large aggressive dogs and he looked angry. I put the window down on the passenger side unsure of what I was driving into. The woman was shaking, clearly terrified, she told me the men were fighting. I asked if she was ok and if she had called the police. She was and she hadn’t. I told her to get inside my car to be safe. She was shaking too much to call the police. So I did it, as it’s the hands free kit it’s quite audible from the outside, so the male came storming over demanding to know if I was calling the police. Then the second man appeared from nowhere and they started off again. Occasionally coming over to my car to bang on the windows or at one point open the doors to shout their sides of the story. My newly acquired passenger was visibly shaken and struggled to give verbal observations to the police communications, for some reason I was calm and felt able to describe the men and their actions. When the police finally arrived on scene the woman thanked me and I left. It wasn’t until I’d driven about five minutes down the road that I suddenly felt like passing out.

I think of this poor woman’s face and body language. Her genuine terror and desperate need for help. She shouldn’t have had to witness that. I think about the out of control aggression shown by the two men. How instinctively I didn’t speak to either of them, look directly at either of them, just focused on giving the information to the police communications officer. I was able to stay present. Give the registration of the Camry quickly in case he drove off.

After I had dropped my dog home and driven to my therapy appointment I talked to her about what had happened. But quite rightly she told me that I wasn’t talking about the emotions attached to it. It’s difficult for me to identify emotions when things happen. Partly because I want to shove them deep down and not handle them or feel them. But also because I’m scared of my own feelings.

I was able to talk about how seeing aggressive men reminds me a lot of my abusive ex boyfriend. How there is an element of thinking when exposed to that anger; well, what’s the worst that can happen?

I talked quite candidly about how he was the first person I ever really talked to about what had happened to me. How I had trusted him to care for me and keep me safe. But somewhere along the line that relationship had changed. The way he treated me was uncaring and unkind. Unfortunately the more detail I went into, eventually I began to disassociate. But even then as my therapist said today, I have diminished those things. And I have. I can’t see the things he did as being ‘that bad’ – I just can’t.

Facing aggressive men is always going to be a trigger for me. I hate drunk men. I don’t even like it when my husband gets drunk. I try to avoid those situations. But it happens, especially as I’m an assertive woman and there’s still a lot of men that don’t like that. So I hold my ground and seem tough, but as soon as I’m alone I crumble and break.

Therapy was difficult today because I opened up more about some of my painful experiences. I might not have done that had I not have had that encounter on the roadside.

Tonight as I write this I feel quite numb and I’m writing to clear my mind of the jumbled thoughts. I can only think that in the next couple of days things will catch up with me. I just hope it’s not too rough.

Virginity **TRIGGER WARNING**

*T* please read with caution – ref – sexual violence

It doesn’t matter how old I get the subject still bothers me. In my teens people would often discuss ages and the person. I know that I had an on/off ‘high school sweetheart’ that I would like to have been the chosen one. In the 20s it’s often joked about. And of course as relationships become more serious often partners want to know your ‘number.’ – just how many sexual partners have you had. I have always hated those conversations. Both with partners and friends. The subject can even come up in innocent banter with colleagues or over drinks with acquaintances. It is on the surface an innocent subject. And often people recall fond memories or amusing tales.

Would my first time have been on rose petals by candlelight listening to Michael Bolton while his parents were out for the evening? That is perhaps how I would to think it would have been. Sweet, nervous, fumbling, uncomfortable. But something I could look back on as a turning point in my life as I grew up. And know that I chose the man and chose the time. That I was respected and that the moment would live as a tiny fragment in our minds for years to come. Perhaps be the cause of an odd smile. Is that how it is for some people? That’s how I imagine it.

For me now it’s a sordid, dirty uncomfortable subject. The details Shared between me, him, the police, some medical professionals. Touched upon in therapy to this day as I try to make sense of it.

Memories cause nightmares and panic. Affected my pregnancies and the way I handle medical appointments.

One night that should be a hazy memory but can bring the faintest smile to my lips is instead my darkest nightmare. Bringing fear, shame, confusion, misery, loneliness.

I’d like to think that as I get older it bothers me less. But the media mentions virginity often. The conversation comes up often enough. I can’t escape the fact that my first time that is, am I led to believe, supposed to be so special, so momentous, so tender, was a thing of aggression, anger and hate. It wasn’t my choice. It wasn’t my time. I wasn’t ready.

I need to find peace somehow.

Warrior Child Award

The “Warrior Child Award”

Thank you so much to Living in Stigma for nominating me for this award.

This is a very special award. As any blogger who has been blogging for a while will know, there are numerous blogging awards out there and quite rightly so.

Blogging Awards are a way of showing caring and compassion and of demonstrating respect for other bloggers work.

Generally speaking when you receive one such blogging award you then, as part of accepting that award, have to nominate a number of other bloggers who you in turn would like to nominate.

Awarded by any member of the Mental Health Writers’ Guild it is awarded without reservation or expectation to any blogger who, in the opinion of that Guild Member, has demonstrated in their writing both the ability to be as strong, determined or brave as a warrior whilst at the same time also showing that they too are as vulnerable as a child.

Please note that whilst the “Warrior Child Award” can only be awarded by Guild members recipients do NOT have to be Mental Health Writers’ Guild Members.

You are also very welcome to join in any competitions that are run and to give out the Warrior Child Award to any blogger whom you feel is deserving of it.

I am awarding this to the following blogs that touch my heart and are struggling as I am:

The Introvert
Ambivalence girl
Pain in hiding abuse