Triggered so unexpectedly 

My husband and I sat down after my brief nap after my long day yesterday to watch a new series we’ve heard so much about ‘house of cards.’ We subscribe to an extra service so that we can tap into the American Netflix as the NZ Netflix is a bit behind with all the buying up and rights of airing of certain American programs so we are grateful to access movies and series that we’d otherwise miss. 

As most of America and the UK seem to be, we are really enjoying it, and I’m a huge Kevin spacey fan. However in this particular episode an innocent scene where a character goes back to his childhood home and sees his girlfriend there, they end up in his bedroom. As they’re kissing he looks to the ceiling and remarks about the cracks. How he used to stare at that them every night. How he knows every curve.

It wasn’t a scene that usually my husband would expect as potentially triggering and fast forward. The dialogue wasn’t even predictable.

But for me, that scene alone sent me into a spiral of panic and flashbacks. My breathing felt out of my control. I couldn’t verbalise my fear, so sat rigid throughout the duration of the show. After as we went to bed my husband remarked I seemed short and agitated but I just wanted to get into my bedroom. As he did the locking up and turning off off lights that I usually help with, I sent him a quick text. 

When he came into the room he didn’t say anything. I wasn’t sure he’d checked his phone. It forced me ask, to which he replied when I was ready to talk he’d listen. And then I broke down and cried. Again, another unusual move for me.

The cracks in the ceiling were my distraction when I was being raped. When I knew that the fight was over, that no one was going to help me, when I knew it was inevitable, when I knew I was his, I looked at those cracks in the ceiling. I stared at them until they were the only thing that existed. I became lost in those cracks. They went from the wall to the light fixture.

When the pain was so great and his voice was all I heard I didn’t move my eyes from those cracks.

To this day, it’s become so easy, so automatic for me to seek out a blemish, a mark, a crack in a room and focus on that when I’m uncomfortable, most of the time I don’t even realise I’m doing it. I can lose myself in seconds, but sometimes I can’t fully return for such a long time.

I can miss entire conversations. It scares me.

It also helps me.

But it was born out of something so violent and painful that to hear someone else refer to it, it breaks my heart.

Last night I must have had nightmares. I don’t remember their content, just the throwing myself around and waking up in panic. I’m glad I had my salt lamp to lighten the room. 

Triggers tend to be more something more obvious. But this was unexpected. Subtle. But equally, if not more gut wrenching and painful.

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An odd day

  

Today I awoke with an impending sense of doom. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I think most people that suffer with anxiety and panic have these days. A fear of a day for no rational reason. 

My husband took my eldest to netball as usual on Saturday morning and I worried about them, I worried for myself. I’ve arranged for our groceries to be delivered now because we both hate grocery shopping at the weekend. But the only slot left was the Saturday morning. So I dreaded the delivery man’s arrival. 

I can’t explain any of it. My need to want to hide away and let the day pass without drama or problems. To not face anybody or anything. A part of my brain can identify that it’s irrational and has no place, no reason, but I can’t fight it.

I’d booked my daughter’s hair cut and she’s been dreading it. Growing it for so long, but it gets tangled, she doesn’t wash it properly. It needed more than a trim. So after netball I knew I had to take her, if I couldn’t face it, I’d never get her there.

She grumbled all the way there and reiterated her request for a ‘trim only.’ Of course I told the hairdresser subtly to cut it to shoulder length as I nodded at my daughter and said she’d be all right. Knowing I’d be the most hated mother in the world.

Suffice to say, it looks fantastic and she loves it. She looks so grown up as well!

  
While the chopping went on I did a search for the salt lamp as mentioned in a previous blog and found a stockist in the next town. I phoned ahead and they had a few in stock. So we drove there next, and I’m delighted to say I’m now the proud owner of an authentic Himalayan Salt lamp

  

I have it on my bedside table and I’m chuffed to bits. Even my husband who had been so cynical sees the charm in it.

While in the shop that also sold lots of crystals and various others interesting bits I noticed they did tarot readings. I’m not a great believer in those things. I’m terrified of ouija boards and would never do anything like that but tarot seems less dabbling in anything demonic and more to do with astrology. I’m also not naïve and totally acknowledge the psychology behind such things. That said I was curious having never done anything like it before. My daughter was nervous but I explained it wasn’t fortune telling, that we’re all responsible for own futures and choices, this was just her interpretation of what I told her.

She was an elderly lady. Kind, sweet. My cards reflected my love for my house, my connection with my son, and my love and protection from my husband. All of which is non alarming and accurate.

The cards also seemed to insist on upcoming travel and a job opportunity. But also that I carried a lot of burden on my shoulders, I had been through great pain in life and I was experiencing new grief.

She took time to tell me I obviously lacked confidence and self esteem, but I was beautiful both inside and out and that it was time to heal.

I’d asked for half an hour. She gave me an hour. She charged for half an hour, but I insisted I pay the hour. 

As we left my daughter turned to me and said, people just see these people to feel better about themselves don’t they? A good observation on her part! I told her if it helped people it could only be a good thing. But I see a counsellor for my problems, that for me this was just out of interest.

One thing she did say at the end was that before I do anything I need to take a deep breath and remind myself I can do anything. Say it out loud if I have to. Which is pretty much what my counsellor said. 

I’d like to believe I’m capable of turning myself around. 

Just from today Im exhausted. I feel like it’s been emotionally taxing and at times an internal battle. Seemingly for no reason.

I wish I had the strength of conviction that other people seem to think is within me.

A testing day with my husband

Working from home (when I used to work) meant manicures, catching up with friends for long lunches and shopping. Working from home for my husband means being in our home office most of the day, taking calls and being on hand to deal with technical queries. We have a different slant on most things!

Today he’d decided to work from home. And there were a few things that needed doing, as well as looking at some ideas for our upcoming eldest daughter’s birthday. It was also sunny and unusually warm, so for once I was keen to get out. Plus I knew I’d be feeling raw the day after therapy and I knew this would take my mind off things. And my husband and I rarely get much time together without the kids.

The first comment came when I was in the bathroom. I think I’ve mentioned before, one of my most terrifying fears is shutting the bathroom door. I must have it open at all times. Baths, shower, toilet, whatever. The kids are used to it. My husband has known me long enough to know it of course. I hate using public toilets because of having to close the door. In other people’s homes I can usually get away with leaving it open a crack unless it’s too close to the lounge, in which I have to check the handle is easy to get out and I don’t lock it. 

My fear stems from three places. One as a child I was terrified of moths. My mother in her wisdom locked me in the toilet with a moth in a bid to conquer my fear. All it did was terrify me further. And I still don’t like moths. I’m claustrophobic about small spaces and finally in a hotel, my ex came into the bathroom while I was taking a shower and spun a tower around really tightly and then whipped me hard with it so my skin broke and bled. He taunted at me, threatened me, shouted at me so I scurried by the toilet. Then he turned the light off – knowing I was afraid of the dark and held the door shut. I pounded on the door and begged him to let me out but he held on for what felt like hours. I was naked, bleeding, scared, humiliated, and vulnerable- my worst feelings.

So this morning as I was in my bathroom my husband walked in and I said I was about to use the loo and he flippantly remarked, why don’t you close the door then?

It’s like everything he knew about me had gone. I suddenly felt this fear and vulnerability rising and above all I felt stupid and childish.

He apologised but it felt more like an attempt to quickly appease the situation so I wouldn’t make issue. I didn’t, but I felt my eyes filling and told him we needed to get on in particular with sorting out our garage remotes.

Getting the remotes sorted would take an hour, so as he wandered around distractedly behind me on his phone answering work emails – which didn’t bother me, I suggested a shop that sells a lot of Paris themed items – our daughter is obsessed with Paris. I noticed they also had one of those lights shaped in a rock. I understand that particular rock denotes healing and calm and although you plug it in, it sets a calm, soft light. I thought it might be perfect for our room. Not as bright as my bedside lamp, but reassuring and something I could look to in the night in my panic. 

I pointed it out to my husband. He disliked it immediately and asked what I wanted it for it. I explained for our bedroom, for me in the night. He said if I wanted a night light we could find a much better one like our son’s but not a fire truck.  Whether intentional or not I felt embarrassed. A kids nightlight. There I was, an adult needing a kid light but in the form of a shitty rock.

I felt small again. Stupid.

We stopped for lunch and I tried to explain how I felt. I was raw after therapy. The comments had made me feel bad. I didn’t understand why he would say these things. Touch on a very deep powerful fear for me. He seemed genuinely remorseful.

Then in the car, he got an email that pissed him off and he drove the way home answering it muttering about some arsehole that had nothing to do with him. While I told him when the lights were green.

Then he disappeared into his office.

I sat for a while but decided to lie down in bed. I was tired. I didn’t know how long he was going to be, and I was out of energy.

He came in at one point, but I was half asleep and I’m not entirely sure what he said. Bed felt comfortable, warm and more welcoming though.

I slept until he had to pick up the girls.

In theory working from home is great. But I guess it depends where you’re at for it to be in anyway successful.

Today just left me feeling more alone and more isolated. And perhaps reinforced how much things are changing.

A long day

 

So therapy today. As usual I arrived intending to talk and protect myself. As usual she found her way into my core and i found myself tearful with exhaustion but relief. An understanding and a connection I’ve never felt before. I took a lot from today’s session, like how I can communicate to my children better about their own safety without coming across too scary and aggressive. I learnt I need to let some things go and not carry them as a perpetual reminder of my failures to flog myself with at every given opportunity. I learnt that in some instances it’s best to leave my inner child behind and be adult for the sake for my kids – for example we had the kids teachers interviews this afternoon. The thought of school brought bad memories up, and that petulant, aggressive, rebellious kid was bubbling in preparation. I’ve learnt more about how trauma can stunt ones growing so that an inner child can get stuck so it’s easy to revert to that mentality for protection and because that inner child was never nurtured and helped to grow. It makes a lot of sense, when I feel I’m losing control of a situation I get aggressive, I get obnoxious, I get angry and it’s born out of fear, I don’t trust anyone and I must make everyone around me believe that I’m invincible, that I don’t care. I’m just a terrified, clueless kid. But I need to learn to control that. For me, for my family, to communicate better.

We talked about my current unhelpful coping mechanisms that have become so normal to me, isolation, anxiety, shutting down, self blame, guilt, shame, distrust, avoidance, to name but a few. She reassures me that I can be normal again. She inspires me greatly. I know her story. She’s honest, direct, strong, inspiring, confident, honest, comfortable with who she is. I can only imagine being that person.

Currently I sit in her office and sniffle and share evidence of what a poor mother I am, how weak I am. How I prefer to avoid things and how a trigger can ruin my entire day.

She has faith. I wish I did too. But I keep seeing her for her inspiration alone. She does give me hope. And since I’ve been seeing her I’ve been crying a lot more. Really crying. Something I would never feel comfortable to do previously.

Teacher interviews went well. I went easy on them! The feedback was good and I’m proud of my girls. Despite everything they’re smart and do wel academically.

Then I took my two youngest girls to see Inside Out, something they’d been desperate to see. They were so excited. It was lovely to see them so happy. And I’m glad I put the time and energy in. It means so much to them. 

A long day, with a lot of things to focus on. Leaving the movie theatre it was dark and I was out of my comfort zone, but the kids were oblivious and just so thrilled by the movie, it distracted me. 

Getting home I’ve found it hard to unwind. My mind feels busy with the events of the day. My husband is exhausted but i forced him to sit up and watch television with me. I needed the distraction. 

My nightmares are bad. And I know there’s a sadness deep within from the counselling session.

Going into the school felt hard to. Usually my husband does these things, but I want to be part of their lives and school is part of it. It feels almost fearful going in there. But I vowed to leave the lonely, hurt teenager in the car and face this as my adult self for the sake of my girls.

I suppose tomorrow I will feel more raw. Today I have tried avoiding the feelings more. 

Why must it be so fucking hard?

Breaking down over mess

  
After I awoke from my incredibly long slumber that would have put sleeping beauty to shame I wandered out to the living area of my home. The first room I saw was the office area that id spent hours a week ago transforming into a cute little bedroom for my daughter with her broken arm to ensure she had plenty of peace and rest. It was, as the habit was becoming a complete mess. Not only that she had clearly rifled through the cupboard that I’d clearly said was out of bounds and found my expensive camera out of its box, thrown on the floor amongst yoghurt pots and spilt drinks. Also my old Sony Vaio, that while I don’t use it anymore, it was open, also amongst drinks, banana skins, next to her bed on the floor, unavoidable to be walked on. In a short time, a space that my husband and I had kept clean and clear of clutter for work and important calls, it looked like a junkie den.

My younger daughter had taken great delight in trying on all my sons clothes, so his room was littered with clothes everywhere. Including half eaten apples where presumably they stopped to snack. My eldest daughter was strewn across her unmade bed, playing on her laptop. Laundry bin empty meaning it was another case of me having to find the smelly items. A half eaten bowl of cereal next to her bed. 

Angrily I gathered all the items, not trusting myself to speak to any of the kids. Then I went to the bedroom and did something unusual for me.

I sobbed. I sobbed and sobbed until I could hardly breathe. No one would hear me above the noise of iPads and Netflix so I just let it go. 

A mixture of despair, guilt over my own long sleep, anger at my sloth like children – who can live like that? Misery, stress, just everything.

My husband walked in and looked horrified at my state, immediately assuming I’d heard news or something.

In between sobs I told him, I can’t take anymore. I spend my whole life cleaning after the kids. I cared for my daughter while she was in pain, I would have had her with me all the time if I could, I made everything as easy and as nice as I could have for her. I’ve spent hours making their rooms special, I buy things for their rooms, but I have no respect. I’m failing as a mother. I’m failing at everything. I’m not strong enough for any of this.

He gently suggested that perhaps of recent I’d not been strict enough with them. Which is true. But I told him, how can I? I’m hardly here mentally? I have slept all weekend, that’s not what a mother does. I snap easily, I’m stressed, I can’t do normal things with them because of my own fears and I embarrass them when I get so over protective. How can I be more hard on them when I’m clearly only half the mother I should be.

When I calmed down I made the logical solution to move my daughter back out of the office and back in with her sister. I told her she’d broken her promise to look after the room and didn’t seem to be getting any extra rest anyway.

Last night I had this horrific sensation of being half awake. I thought I could hear a man whistling. We don’t live particularly close to anyone but if the wind blows a certain way the odd voice can be carried. But last night the whistling seemed taunting and it was getting closer. Then he said something and I heard him say my name. I was paralysed in fear. I tried to reach out to my husband or call his name but I couldn’t move or talk. I thought he was going to come through the ranch slider, take me and my husband would sleep through it. He kept getting closer, then I heard him say, you won’t get away from me as though he were by the door. I fought with my body and mind to wake enough to move to do something. Eventually my hand reached my husband, he moved but didn’t wake. Perhaps it was the annoyance that pushed me enough to say his name and I told him someone had said my name.

He got up and walked the perimeter of the house, checked the locks. The usual routine when I have a nightmare. Although I’m sure he doesn’t expect to see anything, it makes me feel better. Although admittedly on this occasion he was greeted by our very angry cat that had been locked out and he was just about shouting his cat call.

When he got back to bed he listened tiredly to me trying to rationalise the different noises of what it might have been. I took a diazapam but I never really slept too well after that. I kept the light on and awoke at every little noise. 

This morning I’ve been busy moving furniture around again, and going through wardrobes to find old laundry and organise things to take to charity. It’s kept my mind pleasantly occupied.

I guess I have to keep taking each day as it comes. I’m really treading water here. Maybe I’ve already lost the plot. 

Comatose sleep guilt 

I took a 100mg quitiepene on Friday. Usually I have a tolerance for the medication even if it’s been a long time since using it. But teamed with my slight over use of codeine, my increased alcohol, the overwhelming stress and anxiety and the slight relief that things are finally moving and the lingering cold symptoms I collapsed and slept almost comatose. I have been oblivious to everything around me. Dreams vivid, the outside world could have been destroyed and I would have slept through it.

Some of the dreams were nightmares, into dark reaches of my mind. Grabbed, pawed at, clothes pulled off of me despite my pleas, my body jerking me almost awake, cries and screams caught in my throat. My husband may or may not have been beside me. Either sleeping through as usual or in the living room happily conjoined with his iPhone. Either way, a misery I endured terrified alone.  Other dreams confrontation with my parents, watching a plane crash and helping survivors and finding the dead while being painfully injured myself. All so vivid. 

But I slept, my stressed brain making movie reels presumable to offset the stress in my real life. Relive pain and torture, confusion.

On the very few times I awoke I stumbled to the bathroom, or took a swig of soda which I spilt almost every time, then sleep grabbed me again. No idea on times, days, not caring. Just needing that shut down.

At times I might have liked to reach for my husband in fear but I saw the glow of his phone and knew he was busy so felt it a necessary part of my minds journey to get through it alone. Prove that the nightmares weren’t going to render me paralysed and fearful.

It’s now Sunday lunch time, my longest period of consciousness although I might still not remember writing this later. My body aches from lying here so long. I feel spacey. Some of my dreams stick in my mind, wondering how on earth they got there, what triggered those stories.

I think I missed taking my medication yesterday morning. I hope the side effects won’t hit me tomorrow.

I’d promised my daughter I’d take her to the movies this weekend but I can’t drive as I am. I feel guilty for letting her down.

But for the last week I have fantasised about booking a hotel and putting a ‘do not disturb’ on the door and just sleeping. My nights are so bad, my body so drained. Seems my body took its chance to shut down.

At the moment I don’t feel refreshed, I hope that will come. I still feel a bit confused, I feel weary and I feel unsure.

My body not quite mine, although when does it ever feel like that?

My mind an odd blur of mixed dreams and feelings and confusion.

Not sure where I stand in the world.

A slight headache presumably from dehydration.

I sense I’m slightly down. Perhaps to be expected with strong fatigue. 

I hope I can feel the benefit, I hope my brain took what it needed. I hope I have once again done the right thing.

Self made pergutory 

My daughter is finally back at school full time after all the trouble with her arm. Poor thing. It’s still a struggle for her. Of course part of me could keep her at home and nurture her and care for her, wait on her, but she needs her confidence back and frankly I can barely look after myself these days. I’m drained to my very core.

I have the symptoms of a cold, but it’s something I get when I feel completely stressed out and my body is struggling.

I had therapy yesterday. Yet again this woman saw right into me and got to my very core. I broke down and sobbed which is incredibly unusual for me. I talked about my loneliness, my fears, not being understood, my obsessions with keeping safe, my mood swings and how I am around my husband. Almost with a childlike fear at times. Needing more support, but not being able to articulate what I need or how I need it.

She used her experiences and to hear how similar her feelings were was such a huge relief. I almost wanted to shout and grab her, YES YES YES!! YOU GET ME! But I restrained myself. I feel very connected to her. Her examples are bang on, her knowledge and experience are a mirror of my own. It’s impossible not to cry when I hear my own thoughts being said out loud back to me, but with reassurance that it can be broken down and changed. That I can be healthy again. I feel a glimmer of hope, if only for a short time.

I’ve heard from my lawyer that the offender has received his summons now. First to the magistrates to make a plea then it goes to the High Court. The news, although expected still sends ice down my spine. The memories so clear in my mind. The fear, the lack of the control. The spinning towards the edge of a cliff. I want justice, I deserve to be heard. But equally I’m scared of the process. I’m scared of him, his family and just how much more strength and focus is required from me.

After my therapy I met up with two women I’ve become friends with from the support group. We went to the women’s centre and drank tea in front of the fire. It was a true highlight for me. We all know each other’s pain, we can talk about that or the most mundane things. It feels easy, comfortable. Safe. Unlike my usual routine of heading home to bed.

I’m tired. I say that often. But I’m not just generally tired. I’m exhausted and drained. I live two parallel lives. One where I’m mother, do laundry, tidy, etc and when that’s done I’m living in my past. There is an inner child in me that’s scared all the time. Confused, wanting to reach out but not sure who to.

I live with such anxiety all the time. I hardly sleep at night. I don’t do much, and yet I seem to be living the life of a thousand brains.

I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to live in this pergutory. I wish to enjoy and appreciate my life. But I’m the one holding myself back I get that. How messed up is that??