Jeans and the increasing intensity

*****POTENTIAL TRIGGER******

I briefly brought Jeans up to date on the goings on since we last met. But I highlighted something I’d not really realised before – that when I’d spoken to the Principal I’d remained present the whole time – I hadn’t disassociated. He also brought it home that I was identifying a place that I’d been able to speak openly and honestly and done that. I’d not hidden away my past. I’d faced it. Progress?

I admitted that my week as a whole had been difficult with nightmares and flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. He told me to expect that as we were working so hard.

The conversation gravitated – (or perhaps I pulled it) to my ex. I feel the relationship was intrinsically linked to the attack because I’d confided in him. Because he kept me ‘safe’

I never identified the relationship as abusive. He started off as controlling. But I wanted to keep him happy and more importantly I wanted him to keep me safe.

I never intended to go into detail with Jeans. I wanted to summarise some aspects. Certainly avoid the humiliating aspects.

I began to disassociate. My peripheral vision was gone. Time, space no longer existed. I drifted between my ex’s bedroom and blackness. Him shoving me onto the bed. Telling me to fight him off or else I wanted it. Forcing himself on me over and over so that I was in physical agony.

I had a body memory there in the therapy room. Jeans must have seen pain in my face. He asked if I was feeling it. I felt ashamed and humiliated and I told him that and yes I felt pain. He told me to bear with it. To breathe and that it would pass.

I had an urge to cry out, ‘FUCK YOU’ and curl into a ball on the floor. I hurt so badly. My minds eye forcing me to view the things my ex did. Forcing me to remember he didn’t want to me shower. When I was upset he would say, ‘I’m not ‘him” referring to my attacker. He was insulted that I would react in a way to imply that he or I was dirty or injured.

I was a nothing. Tossed around the bed. His pleasure.

My vision was barely a pin prick. Jeans was trying to talk me back.

I felt so lost in all of it. I was the closest I’ve ever been since it happened. None of it made sense.

Jeans and I walked around the room. I kind of swayed and hobbled and wondered if I might throw up. I don’t remember much of the goodbye. I was still a bit out of it.

I lasted my session. I didn’t talk my way out of it. I faced a demon. I realise this week might be wobbly.

But I faced this memory full on.

FUCK YOU MEMORY!

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The Principal and the psychiatrist

I had to drop some clothes off to my middle daughter today at her school and the Principal caught me – he suggested a quick catch up in his office. Annoyingly I wasn’t dressed smartly and my tattoos were on show. I prefer to be suited and booted for such meetings. I felt a bit off the back foot.

I had also wanted my husband present for any meetings relating to camp, or in fact our daughters, he takes the calm less emotive tone and is always able to make compromise. I’m only good for the threats of legal action and/or violence!

His mood was clearly unhappy. He told me straight up. My daughter would be asked to leave camp if she was caught with a cell phone again. I tried to channel my husband. I did the calm rational reasoning about why she was allowed a cell phone in the first place (responsible, mature, etc) and how as parents we wanted that communication. I apologised that I had been unreasonable in my own handling of the situation. But I said it was wrong to deny my daughter the experience. The principal went on to say that technology wouldn’t be allowed we should just trust the teachers etc. at that I could feel my facade crumbling. My daughter flashed before my eyes, was it my daughter or me? Small, terrified, broken, afraid, no one to reach out, no one to listen.

Then I felt the tears betraying my hard demeanour roll down my cheeks.

I realised there was silence – for how long?

Shit, I was really losing it!

I looked out the window, the sun, cars driving by, everything seeming a threat to my children, this school was just a fake shell. I was losing control.

The words left my mouth, ‘obviously there is a bigger picture here, much more going on. I’m doing the best I can. But I need to feel like I can look after my daughter – keep communication open.’

He nodded, he understood. He didn’t look embarrassed. He told me he’d assumed the whole time I was just arrogant but this made sense. He said he would support our decision. He told me I was doing a good job trying to protect her. I told him I didn’t feel like it. It was getting harder as she was getting older.

Then I thanked him and I left. I felt the panic as I walked to my car.

My appointment was close at the psychiatrist. I disassociated through most of that. The searing pain from the unexpected disclosure wanting to burst out. I can feel my mood is threatening to dip already.

She could see it to. Back on quietiepiene for me. Increased visits.

Im not sure what’s happening with me at the moment. Maybe it’s the therapy, maybe it’s the desperation not to fight it anymore. Maybe it’s a mood change, maybe it’s stress. But things seem to be shifting. I’m both terrified but curious. Anxious but ready. Devastated but feel it necessary.

Struggling with this body

My husband is concerned (did I see disgust?) at the changes of my nipples as I lay in bed today. The skin is changing colour. Most women know that is of concern. I have repeatedly ignored the issue. I saw my GP some time ago and she told me it could be a number of things, to eliminate one possibility she gave me a cream. There were also a couple of moles, one on my arm, one on my back – both noted concern but I was not concerned. I was not interested.

I have not been back.

It’s become an issue at home. My husband will bring it up and I’ll shut it down. I’m sure he thinks I’m being awkward or sticking my head in the sand. I’m not.

When i lost control of my mind, literally couldn’t handle my mood swings and lost periods of time, couldn’t control my behaviour, sat mortified when I was told of the things I’d done, was told I’d need to take medication for the rest of my life – I was devastated. I fought it, I denied it, but then I accepted it. I managed it. But at times I’m angry that my mind has let me down. That I’m weak.

Every time I need to see a dr I am angry with myself and terrified. I suffer often with kidney infections because of UTIs because of the brutality of the sexual assaults I was forced to endure.

Every intimate examination brings a new kind of horror for me.

Once all I wanted was to get the IUD fitted, I became so terrified the gynaecologist thought it best I was put under. The lead up was horrific, and when I came around I went straight into a panic attack. The whole thing was awful. It didn’t work anyway, my body spent the next year trying to expel the thing out of me.

I don’t like my body much. I don’t trust it. I don’t like to look in mirrors and I can’t remember the last time I saw myself naked. There is a mirror in the bathroom but I avoid looking at it when I’m going for a shower.

Every month I have my cycle and it causes nightmares and pain and triggers.

I suffer migraines constantly. But I’d never seek alternative therapies. I don’t want to talk about where I feel tensions, I don’t want to be touched. I don’t want anyone getting close to me in any context.

I have been admitted to medical hospitals and I always discharge myself. God forbid they attach me to a drip, I yank it out myself. Mental hospitals I will only stay on the proviso some conditions are met – like being allowed to leave on my terms – my husband is good for negotiations on my behalf and I always have my cell.

I have had to survive so many things. And I’ve been let down so many times. I’ve been on my own so many times. I’ve been beaten and abused and people have stood by and done nothing.

I fear being vulnerable and I fear being exposed in every context.

So when I feel pressured to get something checked out, my protective instinct kicks in. I won’t be pushed, bullied, made to feel like I need to expose a part of myself.

I realise that it is well intentioned.

But I will only do things in my time. And there are some things I faced and have done despite its enormous impact. Cervical smears to name but one. But that’s in my time, my space.

I hate my body. I hate what has been done to me. I hate what’s been taken from me.

I hate that things must be so difficult.

I just feel in a place where no one understands, where the damage can never be undone.

Who cares about my fucking nipples? My whole body is WRONG

My daughter’s camp

My daughter (10) went on a camp with her school for a week. The list of required items reminded parents that technological items were not allowed.

My daughter has an iPhone that I gave her when I changed providers and got a new iPhone. I like being able to maintain contact with her and she’s extremely responsible with her usage and the apps. I didn’t want her to take that to camp but no communication was not an option, so I got a cheap prepaid phone put it in her bag and told her to secretly text me each night that she was ok and to call in an emergency. She was nervous about breaking camp rules but i insisted that she might need it and wouldn’t get in trouble.

A few nights after she left she made the unusual decision to phone us quite late. Her friend was especially emotional and she didn’t know what to do. We (my husband and I) asked if they’d spoken to a teacher, they had but the response hadnt been very good. In the end we asked for the girl’s number and said we would speak to her mum. That seemed to placate her.

In the end it transpired that it was unusual for this girl to be so upset, and that the teachers had failed to adequately support her. At least she had been able to talk to her daughter.

Of course this issue brought the phone out into the open and a teacher confiscated it.

However, it later emerged this teacher’s own phone ran out of battery and she used my daughter’s phone because of an emergency situation. Which of course leaves me to say – thank god my daughter had the phone to provide in the first place.

OK, there were a catalogue of errors here where the teachers were concerned and I understand meetings are taking place over the coming weeks.

But I have to admit that I totally lost the plot when I was able to make contact with the teacher that took my daughter’s phone. I shouted down the phone that keeping it was tentamont to theft and I’d call the police! That I expected to be able to communicate with my daughter and he had no right to interfere with that. I was beyond livid. My husband was trying to get me to calm down. My entire body shook with rage.

I realise in retrospect that I went a little too far. Although I don’t believe over zealous teachers have the right to confiscate property unless it’s a weapon or something.

But my reality is, I know what it’s like to have no communication. To have no one there. Admittedly when I was young there weren’t mobile phones. But there are now. I want my daughter to have a voice, to have access, to have a fighting chance. To never feel alone or alone. I realise I can’t prevent that every single second of every single day. But I will try my hardest. I want my daughter to have a sense of safety.

If I hadn’t have heard from her. I would have called the camp. If I couldn’t get through, I would have driven down.

No one fought for me. No one picked me up. No one put me back together again. When I cried for help, no one came.

There has been no one in my darkest hours growing up.

I would walk through fire to stop any of daughters feeling that.

I don’t care who I piss off along the way.

Jeans playing parent

I had dreaded this session. And yet I was as cynical as always. But whether my cynicism was in fact a cover for my fear I don’t know. I like to analyse when I feel strongly negative about something. Is it fear? Ignorance? Triggering? It can help me to know why I get so angry or so dismissive about things I’ve never tried before.

In therapy I often get dismissive about treatments. I joke, I call it hippie hogwash or psychobabble. I’m all for pills – but the ‘feeling’ stuff? Hell no! I become almost angry and defensive about it. But I recognise that I’m scared. OK, some alternative therapies really are just mad, I remember watching someone dancing as a tree once to express herself. I held my giggles in so long I started dripping coffee from my nose. Course, she gets the last laugh if she’s completely healed and doing well and I’m still struggling with things. If all else fails, I might have to find my inner tree.

Anyway, I digress. So Jeans brought over another chair and I had to decide whether I was going to confront my Mother, my Father or the perpetrator. My mother is a meek, blank individual with no real maternal sense and is very manipulative. I’d say at an uneducated guess that she has a very deep rooted personality disorder. She has mood swings, is defensive, is incapable of holding a conversation, is a narssist and frankly you never no what you’re going to get.

My father is a conservative with views stuck quite happily in the 1920s. He isn’t wrong, how can he be – he’s a man. A white, straight man at that. He is also a narssist. He has a textbook idea on the role of a father up to a certain age and then beyond that it baffles him. A child with its own ideas? Opinions? – alien to him. He is stubborn. Callous and unwilling to change.

I tried in the UK to reason with both. Unfortunately in their eyes I am not a mother, a wife, an adult, a woman, I am their daughter. Below them. My mother sees any initiation of conversation as threat so gets defensive. My Father goes on the attack – it’s gameplay.

Back in the UK I wanted to discuss a few things including my childhood. But I was shut down. That was what lead to my decision to sever ties. Sometimes you cannot keep toxic people in your life – even family. There were a myriad of contributing reasons. I guess trying to get things out in the open and being shut down was the nail in the coffin for me.

So in therapy I chose to address my Father. I thought it was a bit daft. That I wouldn’t say much. But gradually the room fell away. I disconnected to an amazing degree. Jeans prompted me occasionally. I said things that I’ve only really thought about saying if we got in touch. Things he wouldn’t listen to in real life. Loneliness, disappointment, expectations that weren’t met. I suppose ultimately I also realised that over the years my regard for him is less. And that its ok to feel the way I do. At one point Jeans said, (as my father) ‘I’m dying, will you stay with me.’ And I said, ‘No, I want you to feel the sadness and loneliness that I was left for feel for so many nights when you weren’t there for me.’

It took a while for me to feel the room again. To be present. It was an odd feeling.

I feel so tired now.

We’ve agreed that it’s not a good idea for him to play the role or speak on behalf of the perpetrator. I’m not sure how I feel about doing that. Might be too soon I guess.

We still need to break down my poem and go through that. Funny I always feel much more determined when I’m thinking ahead but on therapy day I feel like talking about the weather instead! I’d be gutted if I did just talk about the weather though!

Sleep

Nightmares plaguing me. My sleep is so interrupted. People complain when they don’t get a full nights sleep and that blows I get it. But when I’m missing sleep it scares me – I risk getting ill. Sleep disturbance is such a huge trigger for me as it is for most with mental illness. I find myself so easily disoriented, more easily anxious and emotional and my concentration is shocking. Then there’s the shift is mood and all hell breaks loose. It scares me.

I think because I’m being committed to my therapy and working on things my sense of vulnerability has increased, my triggers are increasing and therefore my nightmares are increasing. I’m waking in blind panic. I’m emotional when I wake. My breathing takes a while to get under control.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid of not talking about my past and I’m afraid of talking about my past. I have rehearsed bits that I can say, the things I can recall for the benefit of psychiatric reviews or acting like I’m ok talking about things. But the darker things, the things that make my throat go tight, that make me feel like puking, that make me feel torn as to whether I should slice my skin, run away, or be curling into a ball in the room. Those things that need dragging into the light like pulling barb wire out of my throat, those things – they scare me and cause me pain at night. Turmoil.

I’m on this continual loop of nightmares at the moment. They vary in their presentation but the underlying theme is the same. I am the same. Always weak, always being overpowered. Always screaming for help. Never being helped. Always being humiliated, objectified, my dignity taken away.

And the nightmares can sit with me all day.

The other day my neighbour upset me. She spoke to my children instead of me. So I went over to speak to her. It was just about my dog. But she managed to get a couple of other comments in – typical passive aggressive. I prefer to sit down and discuss things and seek a compromise, not idly gossip to neighbours for weeks then mention things when confronted. I kept my cool but alone I felt the tears burn. I don’t care about my busy body neighbour, but the truth is, I’m weak in mind at the moment. I appear strong in nature, but I have this battle going on.

My 10 year old daughter continues now to press for more information naturally about sex and changes relating to her own body. I felt so sure I could handle this. But I feel myself becoming unsure of what I say, weary of overloading and of then being selfish not to trigger myself.

The house feels such a overflow of noise and chaos and demands and I’m trying to keep up. But there is a sense of failing everyone and myself.

There is no reserve.

There is only a bank of hideous memories and pain.