suicide, my son and nightmares

If someone were to ask me how I was feeling at any precise moment of the day, I would answer automatically, fine. But the real answer would be, numb. I am in fact existing and doing and being without any emotion at all. My routine is the same and I believe my demeanour is the same. I am able to function, but I can’t express and I can’t feel. My thoughts remain flat and focussed on chores and routine.

I am distant from my husband but which one of us created that distance or maintains that distance I couldn’t say. I’m sure he’d blame me, but I feel unable to talk to him at all and in the night when the nightmares jolt me awake and the storms howl and keep me on edge, I know I disturb him but he says nothing. But perhaps he feels I don’t want him to reach out for me and perhaps he’s right.

Frankly at the moment my journey is so branched out and so far removed I feel there is no one best placed to understand my emotions than myself. 

Last night my husband went to bed before me, I could have happily slept on the couch but the kids knew I was curled up on the couch on my laptop with my glass of wine. I don’t usually drink, but I wanted the comfort of the red wine. It’s warm buzz. The kids came out a few times, so I wasn’t going to get any peace. But I’d watched this movie and in it this girl had been put in a car with the gas from the exhaust directed with a hose through the window. What a peaceful way to go I thought. Listening to music. Taking some sleeping tablets, being in the privacy and perceived sanctity of my car. Drifting to sleep and letting the world melt away. I realised I had taken that image on the screen and created it in my garage, in my own car, even going as far as considering the hose pipe and using duct tape around the exposed edges of exhaust. Lining the bottom of the garage, wondering about timings. Perhaps I’d had too much wine? I don’t feel suicidal at least I don’t allow myself those creeping thoughts. I always thought hanging seemed so crass and slashing wrists so brutal. But sleeping pills or car gassing peaceful. And although I don’t daydream about it, I realised I’d spent too much time wistfully considering it. 

But my boy means everything to me. He is perfection. And for all I feel that is wrong and damaged and shameful about me and body and soul, he came from inside me. It’s hard to get my head around. If I hadn’t kept him with me the entire time after he was born I might think he was someone else’s baby. And when I go away I know he misses me and every time I pick him up from kindy he greets me with all the love and enthusiasm in the world. If I spill something on me, he offers me his t-shirt, he will randomly kiss me, he will give me a smile that radiates through to my heart and could convince me that there is absolutely nothing wrong in this world. When my husband picks him up he comes home and seeks me out to say hello before anything else. He is my greatest gift. My angel and all that is right with the world. So while I might get carried away thinking about my permanent peaceful sleep, the reality of hurting my son, who I know, is the one little guy that loves me unconditionally and needs me as I need him, I realise I could never do that.

My nights are torturous. Last night especially bad, perhaps because of the wine or the thoughts I allowed myself to have.

Nightmares reliving my ex putting things inside of me. I was nothing but a vessel. I was looking down at myself as tears rolled down my cheeks and my body lay exposed. Brain switched off. But in my dream I was trying to see what the things were. 

Then I awoke in panic and it looked like three men at the patio door coming for me, or were they demons coming for my soul? I lay quietly staring, waiting. I refused to be afraid, if they were coming for me, let them take me. But as I woke up more and my eyes adjusted I was able to make out the familiar shapes and shadows.

Back to sleep this time I was being passed around different men, but as I tried to say no each one said, this isn’t rape, this is what you’re here for. And a part of me realised that was my reality, I was bound for eternity to be passed around like meat with no rights over my body because no one really cares.

Who can I discuss these things with? I don’t care about dream interpretation or what caused these dreams, I can figure that out, I don’t want pity or affection or for it to be acknowledged and then forgotten about an hour later and then asked, why are you in a mood? Is everything ok?

I don’t want empty philosophical conversation about it or obligatory chat – in the sense of my past,  I don’t want any of it. 

Understanding, empathy, patience – they would be nice. But no one has limitless of that. I understand that, we’re all only human.

So I will continue answering, fine. And I will continue existing. And numb works for me. Numb is all I have at the moment.

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contact with the past

I contacted someone from my past this week. Huge leap/gamble. I didn’t know what the implications could mean for her or for me. It all related back then to the attack. How do you even begin a monologue to that? Oh hey remember me? Back when that happened?

But there were things I wanted to know and I also wanted to, I don’t know build a bridge, open lines of communication, learn something. But not to her detriment. There’s no guidelines for this, no advice getting for this. I just went from the heart.

I wrote my message I found via good ole Facebook. I had a bath, accidentally made it too hot and then felt terribly panicky. Suffocated. Unable to breathe. What had I done? What if she didn’t answer? Would that be worse? What if she was mean? What if I caused her damage? Where is she in her point of life? The bath steam filled the room despite the insistence of my ever having the door open (residual effect of trauma). The heat was stifling, my head felt full of anxiety, sadness, worry, doubt, conflict, anger with myself, possible outcomes and I felt suddenly very vulnerable. Very small and very alone. At this point I needed to be scooped out of the bath, reassured and comforted. But the words never came. The request was lost. My husband lay watching Breaking Bad on the bed, but he could have been in a hotel down the road. There was no one that could understand my plight and hear my thoughts at that precise moment.

I managed to clamber out of the bath. Swallowed a diazapam amongst shallow desperate breaths. My husband asked if I was ok. I explained the water was too hot and I just felt stressed about the message. His logical side came in with the possibilities. But I didn’t need the strategic breakdown. I just needed the fan, the drug to take effect and then my body would balance again.

The next morning there was no reply. Due to the time difference I had hoped for something overnight. I was disappointed but not surprised. I went about the usual routine getting the kids ready etc.

As I drove them to school the message flashed up from her on my phone. She had replied. I wanted to continue the drive, drop the kids off, but my fear was that some technical glitch might occur and the message might disappear forever and I would never see those words. Regardless if they were good or bad. My phone sat in its cradle, lit up, goading me. I had to pull over.

The message was humbling, friendly, sweet and sad. Honest and sincere. Were the kids quiet for a moment or had I zoned out completely?

I went to drive on but the kids became so loud and argumentative and the next minute my eldest asked if we were meant to be going this way. I had taken I wrong turn. I called my husband hoping to feel grounded to discuss the response but frankly we could have discussed tyre pressure at that point. I couldn’t hear him and his voice became another distraction and irritation. 

I dropped the girls off first and then my son who has his little ways when getting organised before getting out of the car. I put all of my energy into not being impatient.

Unfortunately I’d even brought the dog too! I’d intended to walk him after drop off. I decided a quick walk might clear my head and keep him happy. But the message, her words, my thoughts, my possible response kept whirring in my mind. And I felt myself getting annoyed at my dog for keeping me out!

At home, I wrote my response. Again from the heart. Hoping that being raw and honest could be the only way forward.

I can’t begin to articulate the feelings I’ve experienced. Some of them relate to the things I learnt in her message, like my sense of anger at the the police, and feeling of being let down, I feel guilt for bringing old things back up for her, I feel sad about everything, I feel powerless, anxious, I’m tired, my nights are fraught with bad dreams and worry about what’s transpiring overseas. Things trigger me more so than normal. I take extra precautions instinctively now to feel safer, I feel restless, listless. I feel ashamed of my history. I work hard to keep my kids away from all of this, but when their behaviour changes or their sleep changes I worry it’s my fault. 

I’m alone with this. No one gets it. I smile on the outside. When I’m grumpy people seem surprised. I want to escape but I fear being isolated. 

I don’t feel the creeping tentacles of depression, although I suppose someone might objectively say I’m fitting the patterns. 

But no one can say how I’m supposed to deal with all of this. No one can tell me how I’m supposed to feel. And no one knows. I can’t find comfort and I can’t find resolution. I can only keep going for the sake of everyone and keep my inner most thoughts tumbling away or what can be expressed written on here. 

This tumour is growing. It’s painful, hideous, unbearable and I feel like it’s slowly killing me. I can’t run from it and I’m forcing myself to face more pieces of it over smaller proximities of time. 

I’ve been alone for most of my life, and I have to say at this point, I don’t think I’ve ever felt lonelier.

Limbo

So life continues at home literally like I was never away. My illicit affair with the washing machine and tumble dryer. The undying addiction for each other, making up for lost time. That welcoming smell of damp unwashed towels, the bravery that only mothers can handle reaching into the bottom of neglected laundry baskets. The slight smell of damp mixed with odourous stinky kids rooms because no one thought to open windows during the day. Ah, home. The kids didn’t even make the weekends easy for me, they didn’t think to, break me in gently. This weekend was all fights and arguments. And when the modem played up and wifi wasn’t consistent I think we all considered drinking the kool aid! 

Don’t get me wrong, glad to be back. But my oh my, so easy to see how I got stuck in a rut in the first place. Letting the pressures and lack of space pull me down. So many anxieties, so many considerations but trying to balance the family and contain my own shit is hard work. Everything is a battle and I’m thinking for the family, about the family but trying to make sure I don’t fall into the depths of despair and all of my symptoms don’t pop up at a really inconvenient time. So many potential triggers, and running on not a great deal of sleep either.

Nightmares and panic are there. Waking up feeling that horrible shortness of breath and fear and a period of disorientation.

Still can’t explain what’s going on but not long now, and it will all make much more sense. I just feel so alone at the moment. 

My husband is doing his best. He looked after the kids while I was away and I know he’s always open to talking to me if I need to. But I’m tired of having to articulate my fears and thoughts. And I feel he might be a bit too complacent, I know the situation, I know your story, therefore I get it. He’s never said that of course. But can a person get complacent or bored or another’s trauma? Can a person become so densensitised? Or as situations change can they not realise that feelings, although similar are not exactly the same?

Maybe it’s just me. I bore myself. And I’ve said before, life would be much easier if someone told me how I should and shouldn’t feel. Then I wouldn’t need to analyse it.

I’m taking each day as it comes. It feels less overwhelming. Although I’m aware I’m not really ‘living.’ Again it would be good if someone could construct my day, but then likely I would get anxious or rebel against it feeling controlled. 

There is no hope! 

Who said time was a great healer? Time has done nothing for me, despair, anger, sadness, hurt, confusion, loneliness, frustration – it has all slowly eroded my soul. The shadows have grown darker, the nights have gotten more terrifying, and my courage and belief in myself dwindle with each passing minute. Time hasn’t healed me. Time has slowly pulled me apart. 

Home

So the wanderer has returned. And not before time. My poor son has been out of sorts, not sleeping well and playing up at school, not like him. My girls were thrilled to see me. It felt good to be driving home, to people that loved me and cared about me. It felt nice to get messages of support from people both here and overseas when I struggled when I was alone. I felt that quite possibly I really wasn’t alone in this. That people CARED. That if I slipped away tomorrow, people would notice. And if that’s the case, maybe I’m not the worthless heathen I’ve come to think of myself as. I’ve come to learn about myself. 

Being home and getting into my routine, getting things in order has felt nice. I’ve felt control.

I dearly loved my break and the peace. But I also love my purpose and the fact that I have one.

My husband and I had dinner last night for our wedding anniversary. One of our favourite Italian restaurants. Beautiful red wine, fantastic service. Initially I felt so tired I worried how I might get through the evening. But the conversation gently flowed about old friends and current affairs. We managed to get quite far along until something of the past cropped up and I suddenly became achingly aware of the present and the pain inside of me. And then I felt my eyes occasionally drifting to his phone to see if there were any emails coming in from the UK in Respect of this situation. Mostly we tried to avoid the conversation.

Happy bellies, full of good food and good wine we got home. My baby boy curled up peacefully in our bed. Our house does feel like a sanctuary. I’ve moved furniture where I like it to be, bought things that suit. It feels like a home. There’s no theme, there’s no clutter, it’s just my own style. Light, airy and spacey.

Dinner and time together was intimacy enough for us. I’m not comfortable with my body. I feel raw again, ashamed. I cancelled my wax appointment. 

I guess although I’m clearly happy to be home, I’m out of balance somehow. I’m of course still incredibly tired. 

I’m unsure what the next few weeks will bring. I’d like to just muster through, hold onto what’s familiar. Garner strength from my break and the fact that I was able to enjoy independence and I’m not completely owned by the past or the PTSD.

   

 

rough start and a moko

Last night, well, I had interactions regarding the UK. Away in Rororua I felt stressed. I felt alone, unsure. I reached out to some people from the old days, I posted a note on Facebook declaring my misery – so against the engrained ‘don’t make anything public’ upbringing I’ve been taught to believe. Then I had a shitty text from someone within NZ. A professional thing, a situation I had to placate. All before I had gotten out of bed. My mood was miserable, drained.

Of course it doesn’t help that people don’t know the current stress I’m under. So I suppose to that extent I’m making my parents proud on that front! 

I curled up under the sheets. I wondered where I would get the strength from, what’s the point? And who cares? Then I thought, NO. I’m away, in this beautiful cottage in a place I love and my dog NEEDS a walk and the sun is shining. Autumn is a beautiful season. Crisp blue skies. Chilling clear air. I threw on my clothes, loaded the dog in the car and we went to the lake, which in the morning was quiet. 

Due to my facebook status I received messages from concerned friends. Genuine care and encouragement. It warmed me. It spurred me on. I like to believe I’m a tough, independent woman and I don’t NEED anyone, but I do. When I’m in the dark I listen for voices and when I’m drowning, although I want to give in to the strong tide, I can hold on to those arms around me. 

My dog swam around cheerily. Oblivious to my inner turmoil. But grateful for the location and watching me for the odd thrown stick or change in direction. The sun felt warm and the peace was calming. I felt safe and in the present.

After I dropped the dog home and headed into town I opted to get a ‘moko’ done. A traditional Maori tattoo. It’s a story told in patterns and swirls. Everything represents something. Usually it’s about whakapapa (genealogy). As I consider NZ my home I have wanted something like this for some time. My other tattoos represent my story in art work. But I want the Maori translation. I spoke to a fantastic guy and summarised my story. I wanted to encompass things like, trauma, trouble times, but also better times, strength, courage, protection, etc. there are limits to the translation but he depicted my wishes beautifully. In traditional colours. It was quite emotional for me. Every detail means something. A story, a representation personal to me. And having it here in Rotorua a place special to me at this time makes it even more special.

This afternoon I feel tired and a bit lost. I miss my children. Their warmth and energy. 

I feel overwhelmed by events. Lonely that I can’t really discuss it. 

I feel like I’d appreciate someone telling me how I should be feeling and what I should be thinking and doing, so that I don’t have to work it out, if that makes sense?

Anyway, my tattoo, on right leg inner calf above my ankle,

  

my evening and knickers

Yesterday became a lazy day. Dozing under a blanket, drinking tea, watching tv. I felt like I ‘should’ be doing something. That I wasn’t ‘properly’ utilising this time away. That I was ‘lazy’ that I was ‘giving in’ to my depression. I had to remind myself constantly that I’d driven 7/8 hours a couple of days ago through thick fog and heavy rain and spent the last two days doing some good walking. Plus Sunday’s in my house are pretty noisy and the kids always manage to find me when I try to sneak off for some quiet time. ALWAYS. So I tried to do what I came here to do, relax. But I must say, it wasn’t without guilt.

When evening came I couldn’t work the oven, didn’t fancy pasta again and decided to head into town – which is about a 25km drive away. The drive is easy aside from seemingly random variable speed limit changes. And having done all these long drives, I’m not going to be pleased getting a ticket on a short between the Bach and town centre – Rotorua.

Dogs are banned totally in Rotorua town centre. So I left my furry friend behind which was a worry, he’s never good in the initial stages in a new place and as there’s no gated land, it was inside for him.

Now, getting ready was the thing. I’m very much a shower, throw on any old lipstick I can find, quick blow dry of the hair, what makes me look less fat kind of gal when I go out with my husband for dinner. Going out in the evening alone takes planning. I want to blend in, but not look weird or anxious. I don’t want to overheat – I rarely feel the heat and I get claustrophobic. My boobs are big, so they can’t be on show. I need comfortable shoes that I can run in. A bag large enough to contain my wallet, phone and torch, not flashy, but not rucksack tourist either. 

Knickers. During my witness testimony to the police years after the rape I was asked what knickers I wore. Colour, style etc. as it happens the type is etched into my mind forever. The exact shade, the exact size, the exact style, how long I’d had them for etc. I will never forget them. Even though they were the plainest most insignificant looking knickers you might ever see. But clearly they were relevant. If they were lacy, red, or perhaps said ‘fuck me’ on them they would have implied consent? Is that the implication here? Is that what women are reduced to? Their knickers? For some reason that really struck me. Ironically the intimacy of the question and what it implied. 

I rarely wear nice knickers. I wear particularly awful ones when I’m alone. Yesterday evening i wore faded ones, where the string is coming off. The ‘I’m definitely not wanting sex’ knickers. 

Dark clothed with faux confident look, I got into my car and drove like a granny into town.

In retrospect I realise my anticipation for the evening was quite gloomy. Everyone was presumed a potential enemy. At least worst I’d get called names on the street, have my bag snatched, car stolen, attacked, shanked (too many prison movies!), or raped. Again. The dark night was a suffocating blanket. I wanted to head back but I refused to give in. 

Most women go out at night in fear. They take precautions, they know evil lurks. We all know it. 

For me personally, I wasn’t attacked by a complete stranger in a dark alley way. The thought terrifies me and I often think it will happen in time. Like my card is marked. 

I worry about my car being broken into. It’s an engrained fear. When I was in primary school, my dad picked my sister and I up from school which was very unusual. We’d driven for about 10 minutes when he told us Mum’s car had been broken into at work and her bag had been stolen. I cried immediately, poor Mum, was she ok? Who would do this? Dad replied of course she was it was all fine, just a nuisance. At home Mum looked a bit tearful but was busy on the phone. I wanted to know what was in the bag, pictures? House keys? Would they come here? I was shut down. No more discussion, it was taken care of. A few weeks later I overheard Mum tell someone they’d found her bag, empty. Who found her bag? I didn’t understand. I worried for a long time that someone could come to our house with the keys. I worried that someone didn’t like Mum and did it to get at her. I wondered what sort of person did that. It happened at her workplace, was she safe? But as usual there was no conversation. No explanation.

I don’t leave valuables in my car. So if my car was broken into it would be to take the whole car. I don’t think I would fair well though if I returned to see a window smashed in. Childhood fears creeping back, although as an adult I understand things better.

Although my evening was a success, I found it extremely difficult to sleep. I just couldn’t shut down, but refused to take sleep medication. I watched another movie on Netflix. And just dozed on and off watching the hours go by.

When I did sleep I had terrible nightmares about animals savaging other animals and I couldn’t do anything. Gruesome, graphic. Gory. 

I have plans to walk the dog and take a hot pool today – which Rotorua is best known for. 

Hopefully feel refreshed.

The break

There are things going on that are integral to the reasons for the peak in PTSD symptoms and for taking this break but I still can’t mention it yet – I hate holding back on writing something that’s having such an impact on me and could effectively help other people. But hopefully it’s just a matter of a couple of weeks. I’m trying to keep myself distracted and positive and manage the symptoms as best I can. 

So I have been able to relax. I’ve done lots of walking, thanks to the dog. I probably wouldn’t have gotten out so much. I’ve seen some great places and felt comfortable. At night it’s been good knowing he’s around. The quiet has been nice, no expectations or demands. Just time to consider things or in fact consider nothing at all! I downloaded Netflix onto my MacBook and have watched a couple of movies. 

My sleep, the first night was nightmares. Over and over and I woke a bit groggy. But I figure that was my brain working through everything. The nights have gotten better. My sleep is better. The bed is so comfy.

I do feel independent. I havent felt that way for a while – although technically I am, but I’m more running a routine. 

I do miss my children though in a strange way! The quirkiness of them. The chaos. This is why these breaks are so important to me. Having the best of both worlds.

I don’t think I could function without an escape. My symptoms are too much. I need a reset button. I don’t want the children to see my meltdown. 

My emotions still swing but there’s no one to witness them or bear the brunt of them more importantly.

I feel sad, scared, angry, lonely, frustrated, fed up, miserable, but here other feelings surface. I can be relaxed, feel nicely tired. I’m not tightly coiled, I’m not ready to lash out. I intend to appreciate that.

 The Redwoods, native to California but here in Rotorua, stunning