Avoidance

Yesterday at therapy I realised a few hours afterwards I talked non stop at the poor woman. Not letting her get a word in edge ways. For an hour I talked non stop. Then off I dashed to my hair  appointment. Then home where I proceeded to organise and tidy until I literally had no energy. So I picked a horror on Netflix and became engrossed in the plot. The timing was perfect, end of the day, time to prepare the house for evening, my evening routine. Lamps, heating, keep kids rooms ready, and kids!

I was, in retrospect, distracting. I hadn’t wanted to feel. To discuss the painful things. The hurt, my fears. I had talked to the counsellor about the trial and about what that meant for me, but I hadn’t stopped to feel any of it. I could have been talking about the weather. 

My husband left early this morning. He’s going to the airport after work and heading to Auckland for a weekend with friends. A trip planned ages ago. 

Obviously I’m anxious about continuing with my routines and the 4 kids, dealing with my nightmares and anxieties and being scared in the night, but the assumption by both of us is that I will get by.

  

After he left I fell into a deep sleep and had the most terrifying nightmares. Probably all my worst nightmares combined in a smorgasbord of death, horror, fear, hopelessness, blood, despair, terror, loss and vulnerability.

Two of my children drowning and me alone trying to save them.

The rape.

Walking in on a child being sexually abused (I didn’t know either one)

House being broken into – while me and the kids were in

Being tested for HIV, but then getting the all clear and these people chasing me to infect me in the most gruesome of ways

Hmmm, thinking about it, the last one might have been my brain making its own version of the horror I watched.

Anyway, I awoke feeling miserable and exhausted and very late for the kids school. Of course the kids knew we were late but had hoped I might keep sleeping and they might get the day off.

Bundled into the car I dropped them off, making it a record 45 minutes late.

Now I face a long weekend. Me and them. 

I don’t get much sleep, and when I do, it’s not refreshing. I’m so drained all the time.  The kids are arguing and fighting all the time and I don’t have a reprieve, there’s no family to reach out, it’s just us getting by. It’s suffocating at times.

My lawyer is still on leave so while he emailed me court notes, he hasn’t answered my questions. And it’s so infuriating and stressful. I don’t understand what’s going on, I don’t understand the process. It adds to the misery.

I suppose I feel like I’m losing control. 

Everything is changing and yet nothing is changing.

TrialĀ 

  
I’ve hardly slept. When I have it’s not been ‘real’ sleep. I’ve heard the bedroom door rattle. I’ve heard voices. None of it probably real. Half flashbacks i think. I am close to panic but fall back into an exhausted sleep.

I had an email from England. Everything is kicking off from August 3rd.

Not the anticipated September. 

Not that much difference, much somehow a shock. I received court notes from the Friday. His name. The court wait time. The time in court. 

Around 4am I saw his face. A clear image of back then. A picture perfect image. As though I was facing him. The image so cold and terrifying brought me fast awake. A panic attack brewing. But too close to the kids wake time to take diazepam and with little and poor sleep I would be too out of it to get them organised for school. 

I bring my breathing back, and instead I smoke. I’m so tired my eyes aches and feel so heavy. My brain feels sluggish. Tears want to fall but I’m exhausted to the very core.

Yesterday I was consumed with my failings and how different I had become. That seems so irrelevant now.

My focus is on surviving. On getting through. 

I have many bad nights, but this one feels worse. He is with me now. And my strength is questionable. 

I emailed my lawyer more questions and at the barristers request more personal information. Laid bare my personal information again. I am exposed for so many to see, to pick over, to eat up and spit out what they deem relevant and irrelevant.

My husband sleeps soundly next to me. Oblivious to my turmoil as he does most nights. I could wake him but something stops me. The knowledge that he won’t truly understand. That he will offer a few obligatory ‘feel good’ remarks, but come later tomorrow will no doubt ask why I’m moody or seem down – as though I should have snapped back from the news. 

I have fought tirelessly for justice and to be heard. That was all I ever wanted. The chance to tell my story in court. What will be after that will be. After all these years I need some closure. And what he did was wrong.

But I’m lying here in the early hours, in the still, before everyone gets up and I wonder how I will ever get through this? I’m no warrior, no crusader, no war hero. I rely on anti depressants, I suffer anxiety and panic attacks. I don’t sleep well and the nightmares are often debilitating – even for a grown woman.

I’m tired, I’m so sad, and I’m scared of my past. Scared of him. I hate the way he makes me feel, back to them. His weight on top of me, the disgusting things he did to me, his voice, his frozen eyes.

I feel dread. 

Some people say the past is best left in the past. But I feel I’m in this horrible situation where I have no choice. Either option is going to be fucking awful.

Peace is something that I just can’t imagine right now.

  

Transference or plain stupid

  
My son had been ill over the weekend. A slight fever, nothing major but his cough got increasingly worse, so by Sunday night his breathing became difficult. I sat awake on the sofa a lot of the night listening. When I finally went to bed, it wasn’t long until the little guy joined us. It was a welcome addition. He slept soundly. But he clearly wasn’t himself. In the morning the coughing continued so I got him an on call dr appointment and he was seen mid morning. He’s on a three day stint of a low dose steroid, and an inhaler through the night. He was incredibly good. He’s exhausted but in his true style still smiling. And managing his new inhaler extremely well.

  
Looking after my boy all day, and not sleeping much last night left me naturally tired. Add to that, on Sunday night I took a bath. I’ve found baths exacerbate my claustrophobia and anxiety so have stuck to showers. But with my music playing, I thought it might be nice to relax and put a conditioning treatment on my hair.

It started off well, but then I started thinking about the case. The conversation with the barrister, what it all meant and quickly the comforting heat became intense. The steam was blinding, the conditioning treatment became a boundary stopping me from getting out of the bath, the music was too loud, deafening, uncomfortable, nonsensical sound, the bathroom too small, the light too intense. I was at the far end of the house, isolated, in a white walled chamber, the mottled window that offers privacy seemed like a barred window. I was naked, vulnerable, childlike. Effectively blinded, deafened and muted by own device. My heart raced, my breathing shallow. The sobbing started. I felt both ridiculous, ashamed and fearful.

So began my mantra, wash out the conditioner and get out. You’ll be ok. I repeated it in my bid for freedom. Feeling both pathetic and desperate.

Finally I was out, pjs on, windows open, steam gone, an innocent bathroom, a silly grown woman with obscure fears.

Back to today. My husband’s friend from university was in town. Seeing different people and being the eternal bachelor I thought he might appreciate the opportunity to utilise our wifi, a shower, a home cooked meal, getting to do laundry, even having an afternoon sleep. I let him know our home was here as I knew my husband had met him for lunch but might not consider the basic needs. 

He came over early afternoon. My son was resting on the sofa watching movies. I was just doing odd jobs. Increasingly tired but knowing sleep wasn’t an option. 

I know the guy and he’s fairly self sufficient so I anticipated he would get on with his stuff. Which he did. 

So what’s the issue?

Really it’s all in my head. I have met the guy twice. The first time before kids, when I was super slim, confident, stunning, and felt like I could do anything. I was travelling, I had just met my husband, and my past was a deeply buried secret. I was essentially someone else. A free spirit. The second time I was heavily pregnant with our first baby. So I was still beautiful and healthy aside from my in proportion belly bump. Still relatively carefree.

Now he arrives and I’m frumpy. I’m exhausted, I’m drained. I’m overweight, miserable. My husband has told him my past and that I take medication. 

His first question to me is how is the medication going? I’m not sure how to answer that. I’m not ashamed of it. But I’ve always taken it. Does it appear that I’m not?! 

Then, am I working? No. Do I have any business ideas? No. Do I read any books? Yes of course! Do I know people in the area? Yes. He tells me ‘that’s good for you, makes it better.’

I’m feeling within minutes that I’ve been somehow catergorised/pitied/patronised. And worse still, the fire in me, the conversation skill has gone. I’m so tired all I can really do is stare and reinforce this vision he must have that ‘poor cow has really lost it’

I know I shouldn’t care what anyone thinks, but it was a real reality check to be faced with someone who had seen the older version of me. A better version.

Maybe it was the tiredness. Maybe it’s a low cycle which is reasonable. Maybe it’s a combination.

I hear from some people that I’m inspiring. I hear compliments. I feel loved and supported. And this is very important to me. They have no reason to lie. And their opinion is most important.

When my husband got home, I didn’t feel I needed to be privy or even worth their conversation- what would I contribute? They’re on a completely different playing field to me. 

I wanted to be alone. Even away from the kids. Just the quiet. Just my bedroom. My sanctuary, my safety.

The unsociable. Hidden away. Equally by choice and by judgement.

update

Last night I got to speak to my barrister. Usually I only speak with my lawyer but he’s on leave. By 11pm my time I was chomping at the bit for news from the UK. Staring at my phone. The battery almost dead, but in an unusual twist talking to my friends and the people that care about me. Knowing I wasn’t alone in waiting for some news.

My barrister used to be a judge, he usually works for the defence and has worked on some high profile cases. He was extremely well spoken. I was tired and anxious but tried to sound a modicum of rational and articulate. He told me he didn’t appear today, he saw this as a small administrative part of my case and had sent a junior. He hadn’t anticipated any issues. This was merely the transfer to the Crown court. 

He was so calm and confident, it was hard not to feel the same.

Despite his extremely professional demeanour over the phone, he told me that I should be focussed for the trial which they were aiming for September after the summer holidays. He told me I was doing absolutely the right thing. That I should be able to put my demons to rest. He told me that I was in control, I was the one taking heading the prosecution. He told me he knew exactly what he was doing and so I could trust him. He didn’t sound like an egotistical prick. He sounded like someone that worked hard and really believed that they had enough experience to vouch for themself.  Confidence without arrogance. And frankly I needed to hear that.

He required some more information about my medical records in NZ which apparently the offender can have access to. And that’s all the detail, including my therapists name and location and my mental health records, which upsets me because yet again my privacy is being violated. My health care is close to where I live and as I’m overseas, I have no reason to have that information withheld. I can be exposed to him again. But my barrister tells me it’s necessary for the proceedings and he would never hand anything out half checked. Everything would be the bear legal minimum. 

I thanked him for his time. I felt genuinely relieved.

Again I chatted to friends. Revealing my fears and concerns, my relief and what the barrister had to say. I realise I can’t do this alone.  

I’m afraid of the future battle and I’m tired already at this point. 

But if everyone else reminds me to keep going when I admit I’m struggling – I might just make it. The last couple of days have been testament to that.

not so alone

It’s Friday here in NZ. Tonight it will be Friday morning in the UK. Plea entering day.

I didn’t sleep too well, most of dreams were about having to fly back to England but then getting stuck and not being able to leave. And my parents were being arseholes to me. That’s not an unbelievable dream. And unfortunately it’s becoming a common theme.

My husband took our son to kindy this morning presumably to alleviate the stress. I was pretty out of it. Then suddenly the girls came screaming and tumbling through my bedroom door arguing like maniacs about something. My peacekeeping skills were at an all time low. I could only stare in horror, occasionally staying ‘stop it’ which was about as useful a cup of water on a house fire.

Finally after drop off I went to catch up with my beauty therapist. We have become more like friends over the years. She’s off traveling for two months, so I wanted to see her before she left. I was so out of it though, a route I normally do like second nature, I made wrong turns and drove straight past the place. When I saw her I got a pedicure. I was supposed to chat about her plans, but instead I wept quietly. I didn’t want her to see. To burden her. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt my chest caving in pain. I stared up at the ceiling feeling on the brink of really losing it. 

Everything seemed to be hitting me, squeezing me, filling my body. I realised in retrospect I should have stayed home.

But then the tears began to dry. I began to compose myself. And the usual chatter began to flow and I realised why such interaction was important to me.

In fact, overall, I have some very special people in my life. I think it’s easy to shut down and isolate and let the darkness gather around like a thick a blanket. 

I’m not good at reaching out. I’m not good at communicating my needs, I’d be there like a shot for a lot of people and I’d be devastated at the thought of most people suffering alone.

But in the grand scheme of things, I know deep down I’m not really alone. Some people have gone out of their way to reassure me that I’m not alone. They have said the most amazing and supportive things, and without them I’m not sure how I would have gotten through some of the worst days.

I need to hold onto that. I need to bask in the love and profound connections I have. I need to trust more. 

Its not an inherent trait I have, to trust. To confide. To lean on people.
But now more than ever, I need to be loved, cherished, supported, I need people by my side, to fight with me, to hold me when I’m weak, to remind me who I am, why I’m doing this. 

It turns out people have been trying to do that all along – I just wasn’t letting them in. Letting go of my own engrained fears and feelings of weakness and failure.

  

Courage

Therapy; I sobbed a lot today. I found it hard to concentrate on her words, and I often lost my own train of thought. My body felt drained, I could have slept. I couldn’t sit comfortably, the seat is made for you to sit upright but I wished it was a comfortable couch. I wanted to curl up. I wanted to protect my body, hug myself and feel physically safe. Rather than forced to be upright, facing her as though in a business meeting. I have taken to wearing my baseball cap daily. A way for me to help feel hidden, away from the gaze of eyes. It’s uncomfortable but a necessary politeness to remove my cap when talking to someone inside. But today I couldn’t remove my cap. I wanted to hide myself, I wanted some protection. The belief that I can be invisible. As can the shame and disgusting feelings that exude from my every pore.

I anticipated some impact from this week, but not to feel like a young girl again. Not to feel so vulnerable and so lonely and scared.

No one understands me. And though I know I have dear friends I cannot burden them with all of this. Some have their own issues, some are too focused on their needs, some simply don’t get it, and when I think I might have established trust and a safe place, I am left disappointed or let down. I don’t begrudge anyone. Who wants this in their life? Misery? Confusion? Sadness? It’s too much.

Even my husband is worn down by it. I know he wants to focus on his social circle and have a break from the routine of work and miserable wife. We argue, he upsets me, he is in despair. Trapped, restless. Resentful. And who’s to blame him? I was never meant to be around people for any length of time. I was meant to walk the earth alone – I truly believe that. I’m supposed to be a nobody. And now everything is out of kilter.

I stopped by my tattoo artists studio this afternoon and had her do me another tattoo, this one the smallest but on my hand. A reminder to me.

When I got home I slept. Exhausted. I still am. I’d love to sleep for days.