Sweethearts and sickness

Its my high school sweet heart’s birthday today.  We’re Facebook friends.  We don’t talk to each other, just the odd ‘like’ on comments.  Way back when, everyone thought him and I would marry.  We ‘dated’ as you do in school, often split up and then made our way back to each other.  We were odd bods, which seemed to intrinsically link us.  Where others saw him as frankly a bit crazy (a candidate for manic depression), I understood his ebbs and flows.  His moods, and his little routines.  And I think in that, he felt safe to be himself with me.  Although he often chased the girls that were known for giving a bit more in the relationship physically, so to speak, he would often seek a respite with me.  Perhaps that’s because I was pretty damn crazy myself! – And as for the all of the politically incorrect statements I’m throwing around, I’m referring to our time in school.  Back then, labels weren’t applied, just observations.  He wasn’t my first kiss, that was DL. A local boy who went to the same first school and then secondary school as me.  I did think I was in love with him at the time.  I remember him dancing with Samantha at a school disco to the Bangles and I cried like a baby in my heart-break.  DL was also a larger than life character, he dabbled in some professional acting, and I believe does some acting now.  But DL and the first love that I refer to, AB, didn’t get along.  Perhaps their ego’s were too big for each other.

DL and I kissed in a cupboard for chairs one summer afternoon in a local village hall.  I was so terrified, but so excited.  We were dared to kiss.  When the kiss happened it felt so forced, I didn’t feel all ‘floaty’ as I would have expected.  I suspect he had kissed a lot of times before me.  I was 13.  I still picture it perfectly.  The room, the chairs, the lingering dust, the warmth of a summer’s afternoon, the other kids daring us.  It makes me smile.  Of all of the boys, DL was a great person to share that moment with.  A cherished fragment in a young life.

I never gave any thought to my first time sexually.  It wasn’t something people talked about.  Even AB chasing the other girls hadn’t considered sex, just even a look or a touch! – that’s his words!

Perhaps in a different world, AB would have been my first time.  Beneath his boyish humour and manic ticks, he was sweet and gentle.  We took many walks around the fields near his house, and not once in all of those times did he try anything.  I always managed to feel safe around him.  Even when he kissed me it never felt like a promise.  Perhaps we were never meant to be more than a dance of what could have been.  Certainly I have no doubt if we had have ended up together, it wouldn’t have lasted.  We both share the same moods and egos.  Both too passionate about our stances to back down.  We would have come to hate each other.  Both of us need someone calm, consistent and patient to counter our imbalance.

But life would have been better had I have chosen the person.  If it was planned.  And not necessarily even like in the movies, with the roses, candles and bed made by the fire.

This morning I went constantly into panic attacks.  My son was sleeping soundly in the bed, so I had to go into the bathroom and try to get a grip.  Then I got back into bed, drifted off to sleep and the same thing happened.  I don’t know what triggered me.  I guess a dream I had.  But clearly a lie in this morning wasn’t going to happen.

Already triggered, I decided to unblock HIM [the rapist] on Facebook and look at his profile.  See if anything significant in his life had happened, make sure we didn’t have any friends linked.  I wouldn’t usually do this, S has always done periodic checks for me, but it’s not his place anymore.  I need to bite the bullet.  Of course with Facebook settings as they are, I couldn’t see much.  Seeing his photos and I felt an odd shut down.  In my mind his image is set to back then.  His mouth, eyes, his demeanour is still clear in my head.  So the photos are hard to place.  I didn’t look for long, I didn’t want the revised image burned into my retinas.  I didn’t want any image to cause me distress.  So I didn’t find anything of interest.  Unfortunately now with Facebook I have to wait 48 hours to block him again.  So I live in fear of him seeking me out, I’m counting down those hours.

Seeing AB’s birthday was a reminder though of some of the better times in my young life.  Some of the possibilities that could have been.  But of course I feel sad, painfully sad for the loss of having a special memory for my first time.

S has decided to extend his stay in Auckland for another week.  So I’m up at the house.  I don’t have time to process any thoughts or feelings, and fighting this mood is difficult as I’m on call all the time.  S has also not left much in the way of funds, which is really stressful for me.  I had arranged for a babysitter to come on Sunday for a couple of hours so I could enjoy the women’s only swim, but I’ve had to cancel that, I can’t afford the babysitter.  I’m a bit annoyed that the one thing I enjoy I can’t do.

 

 

Trigger. Unhappy.

Of course I should have known how this evening would end.  I should have known it the minute I identified my mood was dropping after getting so tired and knowing there wouldn’t be any rest time.

We were up at the house, the kids were being great.  It was a lovely evening with them. They went to bed really well, and I felt nicely relaxed.  However, my mistake was not taking the opportunity and going to bed when I could.  Instead I stayed up watching tv, waiting for S to get back.  Old habits die-hard.

I watched one programme and there was a sexual assault.  Nothing, NOTHING was shown, it was just implied.  I wasn’t triggered by that.  However, the way the perpetrator looked at his victim with such disgust, anger and hatred afterwards me  – shook me to the very core. He looked at her with such repulsion, as though she was shit on his shoe.  I have seen that very look after the brutal intimacy forced on me.  I guess that was very much a piece I hadn’t really processed or considered in any depth.  The way I was made to feel afterwards.  Like it was my fault, any shame I didn’t already feel was imprinted on me forever more.  i felt that shame in that moment, revisited.  My blood felt icy cold in my veins, my heart seemed to struggle to beat to an increased tempo.  I was both lying on the couch in the living room and back then.  I was both in the moment receiving the look, and watching myself.  I felt such a deep despair that even the tears couldn’t release.  I had the incredible urge to hide behind a pillow, curl up in the foetal position, anything, ANYTHING to stop the hurt and the replay searing into my soul.  Should I shower?  Should I scream?  How could I possibly placate this painful mourning.  I flicked the tv to something else, I busied myself with mundane tasks, laundry, trying to find an old necklace, messing around with a make up case.

I suppose I did manage to ride this wave, but clearly the damage was done.  Emotions lay on the surface and the inability to think objectively was hindered.  S got back an hour later.  Fairly drunk, looking dishevelled.  He said he had a good night.  We talked about the kids.  I talked about the plans for the week, who was staying where.  So far, so good right?  Until I asked him to look after the kids one evening because there was something I wanted to check out and he commented, ‘speed dating,’ I asked him why on earth he thought I would do that??  He said I always wanted to date??  I don’t know where that’s from, I don’t know what he thinks of me, but I can’t think of anyone worse right now.  Furthermore, is this the rapport now?  Swapping dating stories??  No, I am still hurt from this separation.  This is the man I’ve spent over a decade with, had children with, why on earth would I want to flippantly discuss dating?  Maybe he feels cavalier about that subject.  Maybe he is dating.  But I wouldn’t want to know.  I didn’t understand why he was trying to hurt me.  Or maybe I was already too upset from earlier.  I lost all impartiality.  I tried to ask why, why would you say that?  Is that really what you think?  He clearly wasn’t in the mood to talk and proceeded to turn off all the lights.  I went into the room with the mattress and tearfully went about taking my nightly meds.  My son was up, and wanted to sleep with his Dad.  But he sent him into me.  A single mattress on the floor just isn’t ideal.  I’ve told S that before, but still he sent him in and I asked my boy to leave.  He got upset, rejected, and perhaps because he knew I was emotional and he was tired and he started to cry, big fat drops of tears, and I felt like a bitch.  And S just shut his bedroom door, no doubt to fall fast asleep in a drunken stupor.  And I felt like my duty was done.  Kids were cared for, laundry is done.  And with no rest for myself I looked at my son and the mattress and said, no.  We’re going to MY house.

My home is becoming my safe space.  I have it looking really bright and cheerful and homely.  My only issue is the bloody neighbours.  Here I sleep in my comfy big bed, in a spacious room with all of my things around.  And here my son can sleep quite happily next to me.

My kids love it here, despite the neighbours.  And if I end up moving when the lease is over, I know I’ll make the next place my home.  Because I put time and effort and care into my home.  And its welcoming, and the kids know that.

But how can the house be my home?  When S seems to think we’re frat brothers!

If he wants to go out drinking and dating, then good on him.  For me, I care about my children first, my wellbeing and trying to meet my personal objectives – study and getting fit and healthy again.

As for this trigger this evening, I intend to think about it some more – when my son is at school and grieve for the child turned into a woman before she was ready.  Because GOD DAMN IT, I deserve to acknowledge that.

Pool

Today was a ‘good’ day – well, so far!  I didn’t get to sleep until very late, and I felt really anxious about going back to uni.  I felt sluggish from the medication, tired from lack of sleep and picturing going to the city caused me strong physical feelings of panic.  I considered how I might deal to that, such as taking the car.  But parking is really hard to find, so I envisioned being parked too far away and then walking amongst the hoards of students to get to my lectures.  Walking into each lecture feeling short of breath and sweaty and everyone staring at me.  Wondering what this old bugger was up to.  It didn’t matter what scenario I pictured, I always felt anxious and panicky.  You wouldn’t know it to look at me.  You wouldn’t think I was scared of being around students, dreading the journey in, and feeling the heavy tug of medications pulling me back into bed.

I dropped the kids off at their respective schools.  And considered where I might go from there.  In the end I decided to go to the pool.  I do love water and I enjoy swimming and its good for me, so why not?  A week day means no kids, and it was quiet enough with lanes available.  I knew I didn’t have to engage with anyone.  Swimming is a solitary form of fitness and that is what I needed.  Plus I wasn’t sure of my own capabilities.  At least if I reached a limit, I’d feel like at least I had achieved something.  After 30 mins, I didn’t want to be immobile from tiredness, so I headed to the spa.  The bubbling heat felt great on my body and I started talking to two older women.  They told me about their walking group, they meet every Monday and walk as far as anyone is willing.  Its been set up for people with injuries, people who aren’t very social, and/or people with mental health issues.  That  is, it’s a friendly group of mixed individuals that benefit from being motivated to go walking.  Apparently they also offer a gym programme and swimming clubs.  It was a strange coincidence to run into them – or rather float into them.  This sounds like something I might be able to do.  A gentle introduction to a healthy work out plan that offers some level of social interaction.I met the coordinator who was also based at the pool and learnt that simply by joining (for free) I’d get substantial discounts off of the pool! – What a find!

I’m glad that I pushed myself to go swimming my body aches nicely from being pushed.  I’m so pleased that because of that I met these women that introduced me to the group – if nothing else, I get a discount off pool entrance.

It just after lunch time and I feel very tired and its strange because as the tiredness seeps in, I am feeling more emotional.  It’s clear that not sleeping well is a teal trigger for me.  I had sat down with a cup of coffee to watch some mindless tv, but my second eldest daughter’s school phoned, she has a tummy bug.  So I rushed out to get her and decided to get my son as well.

This evening S is out late, so I’m up at the house with the kids.  I’ll be glad for the quiet to be honest.  My neighbours are already annoying me, the clanging of beer bottles and the music has started already.

My other daughter’s blood tests are back tomorrow, so I won’t be able to go to uni tomorrow as I’m driving her around.  But that’s OK, I’ll choose one lecture for Thursday and Friday to attend, one hour each day as a gradual build up.  Hopefully I can get back into a rhythm.

I’d just like to state again – I WENT TO THE POOL!

Tea and peace 

It is SO hard. I am really bloated and irritatable on the olanzapine. Uncomfortable bloating, I feel like I’m full of water and air. I feel so fat and horrible. I tried stopping the meds as im taking lithium now but I ended up anxious and sobbing and miserable. I’m clearly not ready to be off of them. At least I know they’re helping my mood.

Last night I didn’t take the antihestimine for sleep because I wake up with such a painful headache. Instead I didn’t get to sleep until after 2. I heard my partying neighbors come back and continue to make noise. It’s really starting to grate on my nerves now. I consider myself a considerate neighbour. I don’t have parties, I don’t rev my engine, I don’t run my mouth off in the middle of the night and I make sure my kids keep quiet at night. I don’t moan about their partying, I don’t call noise control in the middle of the night to complain about their parties, I don’t complain to them about their constant revving engines, even though the exhaust fumes seep into my home, the incessant drilling (woodwork) and the groups of bodies drinking and smoking. I appreciate that they’re young, they want to party, they don’t have responsibilities or commitments. I used to be like that! But today, on a Sunday lunchtime, I’m over the music and shouting. I’m too irritable, too tired, too sore. I need some peace. 

The monthly support group was on today, but I couldn’t face that either. The wallowing, the emotions, everyone vying for the ‘who’s doing it worse’ position. Too much. I’m already feeling triggered and anxious so it probably wouldn’t have helped, probably more hindered.

Egg had her birthday party at the pool today. I couldn’t face that either to be honest. The parents I don’t know, the stifling sticky heat, random kids running around, forcing smiles. But for my daughter I turned up, she looked so happy.


I kind of avoided the parents, S is a better showman at these things.


My son is such a water baby. I wish I’d joined him in the pool, but it was very busy and I don’t feel confident at all about being seen in my swimmers.

I disappeared while they were all busy swimming to vacuum and clean the floors at my house. Keeping the house tidy is such a priority to me. It’s the only thing I have any control over. Although just cleaning is tiring.

I had then wanted to lie on my bed, doze off, feeling relaxed. Unfortunately my neighbours wouldn’t shut up. So I decided to head up to the house. I wanted to be surrounded by family, but isolated from the noise of surburbia. I wanted to see my son and aside from the excited chatter of my own children, soak up the peace. 

So here I am


A relaxing cup of green tea.

The day has been long. And testing. Side effects troubling, but better than the misery of the low.

I’m supposed to be at uni tomorrow, but I can’t imagine having the concentration to study. At least I have an appointment with disability services. I’m determined not to fail – but I have to recognise my limitations at the moment. I’m scared to get worse.

My chapter ‘what ifs’

I’m currently reading ‘Asking For It,’ by Louise O’Neill.  Its been a long time since I read a book with this subject matter (rape and subsequent suicidal thoughts).  I cant remember what made me pick this book on my Kindle, I’d read about it somewhere.  The book sees our protagonist, Emma, raped after a party where she took drugs and drank a lot.  She is 18, and the setting is Ireland.  The consequence to the rape is her repetitive thoughts of shame, self blaming and self hate.  And the small Irish town divided between her and the boys involved, as well as the subsequent trial.  The author has captured her jumbled and repitive thoughts extremely well, as well as the protagonist observing her family falling apart and blaming herself.  Her inability to use the word rape and her suicide attempts. With this level of insight, I can only assume the author did extensive research, or was a victim herself.  I have never read such an accurate portrayal of life after rape in the guise of a story.

Anyway, this blog post isn’t a book review.  I have only referred to the book as a premise.  I always find myself thinking about the way things should have been dealt with after my rape.  I can list the ideals in number and often do mentally.  This book reminds me of my contrast list of wishes if you like, and I can identify where it all went wrong.  So for the first time ever, I will write my list here.  My main objective is to bring it out into the open.  A document of things that should have been done, and if its useful to anyone else, than that is a bonus.

1, My friend at the time wasn’t equipped to recognise what happened, so I don’t blame her for that but she did have the knowledge to take me to a clinic – that’s a relief or else I may very well of had a child, as I certainly didn’t know about these thngs.The clinic should have discussed things with me in detail, recognised my state of shock and if I refused a medical exam (it wasn’t given at the time), given me the options available at a later date.  As I was under age, the proper authorities should have been notified, at least then I would have stood a chance of bringing charges forward sooner.

2, my parents should have confronted me about my behaviour.  Clearly something serious had happened (they later confessed in my last stint in the UK that they ‘had a feeling’ and my bed wetting and night terrors could have been helped.

3, my first suicide attempt.  No one really talked to me about it or addressed the issues.  Although family counselling was ‘forced’ on us – which my parents were none to happy about.  I should have had a safe place to communicate, but I felt like an inconvenience.

4, I was never talked to about rape, sexual violence or STIs, why??  Even I couldn’t identify what had happened was wrong.  I just had a ‘sense’ of it not being right.  Why wasn’t this mentioned?

5, moving forward, to the medical involvement, when I sought help.  Why wasn’t my testing reported to the police?  I was referred to an in-house counsellor that told me on my first visit she could understand why I was so upset, she likened my virginity to the time she lost a necklace that her Mother had given her and tried to hug me.

6, The signs were everywhere.  My behaviours at school,  self harming, nightmares, constant UTIs, why didn’t anyone address these issues?

7, the things I needed to hear: 

it wasn’t your fault, I believe you, you have been raped and you need medical attention, you may not want the police involved but now, but if you want to later it would be easier, you didn’t ask for it, you need a specialist counsellor – I will take you, it’s up to you whether you continue seeing her or not, you are grieving – take all the time you need, you will get through this, you’re not alone.

8, the police investigation came years later when we went back to the UK.  I wish there had been better practices in place, and more experienced officers.  I felt like I had to micromanage the whole thing.  Ultimately it led to a breakdown.

There is no right or perfect response to rape.  I could have had all of the above and still felt the terrible despair and self loathing.  But its identifying what could have helped that gives to discussion, that leads to openness and better support for people who need it.

I am scarred irreparably by the act and the subsequent lack of care.  2 decades on and I’m still fighting the aftermath.  The only solace I find is that my life isn’t a book that has ended.  I am still writing the chapters, and I hope that as my own protagonist in my book, I find the peace I so desperately need.

 

 

Poem of mind and pain

The corridors are long and dark,

Demons linger, their meanings stark.

Passing doors where shadows lay in wait,

Full of anger and venomous hate.

There is no hope of escape,

Confronting the memories of violence and rape.

Feeling afraid and forever lost,

Her survival comes with a very high cost.

With no light to follow

or guides to rely on

She continues alone,

Her sanctuary unknown.

Dark is her enemy, the light is too strong,

Everything highlights all that is wrong.

She seeks compassion and care

she seeks comfort and repair.

She is damaged and broken,

Her fate is unknown,

deep wounds are left raw and unspoken.

Memories are nightmares and flashbacks replayed

Time still passes but the pain will never fade.

She needs to find her solace along the way,

Can hope possibly give her this day?

No one can see the madness she faces,

No one is able to visit these places.

For this is her walk deep within her mind

The atrocities and torture remain her only bind.

Although no can see the pain she endures,

And platitudes are lost over the dragon that roars.

Her mind is a maze of bitter twists and turns,

The pain is like fire leaving its burns.

Onwards she trudges in her daily fight

No one understands her, although try as they might.

She has to believe that she will get well

That demons will die,

and she will leave this hell.

For she believes that peace awaits her and she has to be strong,

She has to rise above all that is wrong.

Embracing the bad

There is such freedom in admitting I’m not happy.  That I am sad, that I am afraid of everything, that I’ve lost my direction.  Instead of battening down the hatches and pretending that everything is ‘fine, thank you very much.’

For the first time in my life, I haven’t tried to ignore my feelings, push them so far away that I am living in denial and getting angry with everyone including myself for not accepting that my smile is forced and taken monumental effort.  That getting up only happens when I’m forced to for something.

I’m lucky that I have midterm break now, so I have been ‘allowed’ time to rest and recharge.  Because I would hate to be lying in bed without a fully fledged reason. And my brain has been allowed to languish in its own sorrowful woe, critical of my ever increasing weight (thanks olanzapine), critical of my abandoned crazy hair, critical of my life, of my failings, of all that is wrong with me and all that’s happened in my life.

I am embracing  my grief, my lack of direction, my struggle, my pain – why?  Because to embrace it means I am accepting that I have an illness, that it won’t always be like this, that its chemically induced, that it’s not forever, that I don’t need to prove myself to ANYONE.

So, last week was especially hard, but today I have my son with me. I had to go to the mall today because its my daughter’s birthday (8), and I wanted to get her a special gift.  Although it would usually fill me with dread and foreboding and a part of me hoped the car wouldn’t start.  I was able to visualise exactly where I needed to park, where I would enter the mall and exit. I put a time on it, so I knew at whatever self agreed time I prepared, I would be home free!  I had my son which helped immensely because I chatted to him and held his hand, he saw it as a parental guidance and interaction, I saw it as holding on to my beautiful light.  My ray of hope.  All that is right and beautiful with the world.

I bought my daughter a beautiful Pandora necklace with Elsa and snowflake charms.  She loved Frozen and she is a really girly girl.  Loves all think pink and princesses.  I think she’ll be very happy.  Just along from there was a department store and they sell the make up range I like prefer, so I decided to get a new foundation.  I’m ghostly white, my skin looks tired and stressed.  I usually take such special care of my skin and my face, but I haven’t worn make up for so long and I don’t bother moisturising – why would I?  There is no point.  I don’t go out, I look bloody awful whats the saying?  You can’t polish a turd!  But I decided to go ahead and get a new one.  At the make up counter the lady applied foundation for me and as I tried to interact with her, I realised I hadn’t really talk to anyone (excluding the kids) for so long, my words sounded stuttered and awkward and I’d forget the name of things.  Perhaps the meds, the anxiety and the tiredness combined, but I worried that I sounded drunk!  And the more I worried, the worse it got.

By the time I got back to the car, I also picked my son up some Lego and toy cars – I couldn’t resist! I was absolutely shattered.  The headache I’ve had for days was threatening to come on strong again and I was aware that I’d been out for longer than intended – not to mention spent a lot more than I intended!  The result is that I’m pretty happy with myself for being able to relax a bit and get out and about.  Although I decided at home to rest before dinner this evening, S has called and asked me to collect the kids.  As he’s still sorting some things out for our daughter.  I accepted immediately but I regret it.  Going out straight away and then being alone with my four children after a full on week and not much sleep is stressful enough, but team it with a low and its near impossible.  Here, what I recognise is that often I try to meet expectations and push myself for more and more.  The end result often means I am left drained and feeling like a failure when I don’t cope well and that undoes the work I’d done earlier.  All of these experiences are important to me, as I learn to manage my mental health as a single woman.

The other thing I have realised is that coming back to my house wasn’t such a terrible thing.  As much as I enjoyed the house, and being around my family, it still remains S’s house and I was a guest.  The master room was HIS room, we all referred to it that way and HIS house, and I didn’t want to break into a snivelling mess! Back at my place, I have my comfy big bed and all my things around.  Why would I be sad surrounded by my things and my incense burners, the smell of sweet berries as I arrive?  I brought two of my children to stay last night, my daughter so that I could wake up with her on her birthday morning and of course my amazing son.  So I still had that warmth and love around me.

I think on the whole I am getting better at conversing and relating to S, but this will not be a linear part of my journey.  As is feeling better today.  Understanding that I’m following a process is really important.

I’m feeling anxious about the dinner tonight but that is because we’re going to a local restaurant, and no doubt there will be people around and the kids might play up a bit – they’re really good kids, not the usual running around types, but they DO argue and get grouchy when its later on a school night and they’re over hungry.  Then I usually get stressed because I’m worried about what people think, that I’m a bad mother.  Silly paranoid thoughts, but in this time of weakness – it bothers me.

I’m also really self concious because I’ve put on so much weight.  I had lost a  lot from the separation because I simply wasnt’ eating.  But with these medications I crave carbs and you’d have to be born and raised in a bunker not to know that carbs are the cardinal sin of weight loss.  So although I’m only eating toast, my metabolism has slowed right down and I’m really bloated.  My fear is that out in public, people will judge the fat girl in the restaurant.  Although my choice will be something healthy, I’ll feel very self concious.  As I progress with feeling better, I will resume my walking and gym work outs, but at the moment, if I can barely face walking down to the mailbox because of ‘people’ anything else is out.  I’m doing this tonight, for my beautiful litte Egg.

Again, I am so thankful for recognising my symptoms and getting help sooner rather than later, or else I might very well be in a respite facility – again.  At least I still have my independance.