Therapy and holidays

Had my first therapy session today. Jury’s out on whether we’ll gel. But I did open up an awful lot to her today, more than anticipated with a new therapist. It’s like everything I’ve been ruminating over came spilling out. All of my anxiety around the date, the flashbacks, the panic, my ex and how he treated me, the confusing stuff with the cop. I asked her what was normal, I asked for her perspective, I relayed conversations, thoughts and memories as they came racing through. I even spoke a little about my relationship ending with Steve and how that’s impacted me. Once I started, there was no stopping me! It goes to show just how much I’ve had in my head, how much has been bothering me and weighing me down. I did feel calmer when I left. My head felt like it had more room.

I’ve really got a lot in with the kids these holidays. We’ve been constantly either at the beach or at the pools. It’s another sweltering hot day here and I’ve love to be on the beach, but the kids are struggling with the heat, so they’re happy at home. Two of them (the two youngest) start school tomorrow. It’ll be strange after having them around for so long! But it means I can get stuff done without worrying about dragging the kids around. And I’d like to spend as much time as I can at the beach before summer goes.

So, feeling pretty good about today, certainly relieved to have started therapy again. Although for me, it’s usually the night I start to feel it.

And really happy with the way the school holidays have been. I can’t imagine I’d have been capable of this a few months ago.

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Camping and counselling

Camping with the kids was absolutely fantastic. They were really helpful, they coped without WiFi and tv and we all had a really good laugh. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. For me, the disconnect from reality and being absorbed in (sorry for the cliche) nature and my kids was a real recharge. I would have suggested longer, only the heat was stifling so it was hard to keep food fresh, and we had to pick up C’s uniform in an allotted time today, and I see my psychiatrist tomorrow. But it was a good introduction at least. I especially enjoyed us all sitting around a lantern at nightfall and sharing ghost stories. It’s a rarity to have all the kids together and getting along like that. Obviously it’s no comparison to Steve taking them on a lavish holiday with meals out, but at least they adapt to my budget. I missed Steve on the trip. It’s my first holiday with the kids without him. I thought back to our camping experiences (and there were a lot) and I know he would have enjoyed seeing the kids out camping, and I’d have had someone else to share the memories with. It’s weird because I thought of him on our camping excursion but I know he would never have thought about me when they went on their first holiday without me. It never fails to amazes me how much of a light switch some people have with their feelings. We had years together but to him it’s meaningless.

Anyway, there’s no point droning on about that, it is what it is. The important thing is that I got to spend precious time with my children and they enjoyed themselves.

I did have my cell with me, although the battery drained and I had a message to say a counsellor has been allocated to me locally. I’ve been on a waiting list for a while so I’m really happy about that, although a little apprehensive that it’s a person I can relate to well. The reason I opted for this place was because it’s the cheapest service in the area and I may get funding. I literally can’t afford normal counselling or my old counsellor. I start on Monday.

My CPN has told me that I need to tell the psychiatrist that February will be a difficult month for me. I’m not entirely pleased as it’s also her last day so I hate going into detail, I’ll avoid it if I can. It’s infuriating that yet another psychiatrist will be allocated to me and then it’ll be starting from scratch again. I refuse to have any medication changed because a new psychiatrist doesn’t believe in it or whatever.

My medication does seem to be working, although I have to say it was a nuisance to remember it while camping. I never had medication before when I was camping. But I guess it’s that whole ‘having an illness’ thing, like a diabetic. Rather take a few minutes out to take some pills then be back to almost catatonic. I certainly wouldn’t have managed a trip like this a few months ago.

So now we’re back at Steve’s (he’s away) and I’m tied to laundry and tidying. The kids are back to devices and the tv is on. On the flip side it’s been really nice to have a shower and put clean clothes on! And of course, charge my phone!

This has been a really special summer. Usually the kids are in holiday programs but I’ve been determined to give them a good time with trips to the beach, the pools and of course camping. And with Steve taking them away to Napier (to his parents) and on their holiday, they have a lot to talk about when they go back to school, and more importantly they have memories.

I’ll miss them when they start back at school. Which is next week. But my plan is to take the dog on lots of long walks so I can keep up my activity level and increase my fitness. And get to the pools for a good swim.

The present and the past

This week has been full on with activities and seeing friends. I’ve really enjoyed physically pushing myself and hope it’ll kick start me into regular exercise, aside from walking the dog around the block.

Today I met with the woman that I got my dog from a second time and we went on a long hike. It was a beautiful day, and our dogs loved it. Then when we went our own way, despite it being late in the afternoon, I decided to drop my dog home, grab my togs and go for a swim. It felt so nice to be out in the ocean, and I picked a spot away from everyone, so it was wonderfully peaceful.

Last night I had dinner with a good friend of mine, and we headed back to my place as we always do and had a few drinks. We talked about a lot of different things, but my past came up. She was quite direct and asked questions which I didn’t mind and would have been comfortable saying if I didn’t want to talk about it. But it felt quite helpful to reference things that really stick in my mind. Memories that are fuzzy, memories that feel like yesterday, thoughts, fears, struggles. I surprised myself by how open I was, but the panic bubbled terribly under the surface. I could feel a panic attack building, but I was conscious of upsetting her, so I had to employ all the techniques I could to avoid one. Like for example listening to the outside noises, looking around the room and identifying things in my mind, and sometimes just straight up changing the subject. It felt strange to hear myself verbalise things that go around in my mind all the time. In retrospect it was quite freeing. And I know my friend well enough to know she’s not uncomfortable with anything I talk about.

I think it’s going to get more difficult as the date approaches. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable with the darkness. And I’m paranoid about him finding me online or just general people outside (men), in case they follow me and see I live alone. I always suffer with these things on and off as a normal course of events, but this time of year it’s more consuming and I feel more emotional. No where feels safe. This is a time when I really miss Steve, he knew exactly what I was going through and knew how to help me. He’d listen to me all night if I needed it. But now he simply doesn’t care and I guess feels it’s not his problem. Which is understandable, but sad for me. No one knows the extent of the trauma or how it impacts me. And although it was good to discuss some things with my friend, she or no one else really gets ‘it’ or me. It’s always been such a deeply private thing for me, I’ve always struggled to reach out. That’s why it was good with Steve because he knew, without me having to spell it out. I can’t imagine having that depth of relationship with anyone else. That’s something that’s built over years and experience.

So, next week I’m taking the kids camping. I’ve been to Kmart to get more camping supplies, my boot is full, ready to be unloaded. The kids are actually excited which is nice after Steve took them on such a lavish holiday. I’ve chosen a spot, not too far so if it all goes wrong we can easily head home, and it’s got a river for swimming and BBQs for us to use. And I spoke to the dog woman from today and she’s happy to babysit my dog. So everything is in place, I just need the food shopping!

Obviously it’s occurred to me that I might feel more jumpy or the darkness might bother me more than usual, but I have to be strong for my children, they take priority and I don’t want them to feel scared.

I’m really looking forward to introducing my kids to camping, and getting them away from their devices!

Co parenting and anniversary

I’m acutely aware that February is pressing down on me, the month of the anniversary of the rape. I’ve decided this year not to find out the exact date. As every year I face the same dilemma, to confirm the date or not. Confirming the date hasn’t made any difference and my brain refuses to remember the exact date, so I’m going with my brain’s desire. I saw my CPN today and warned him that February would be difficult, and fortunately I have a psychiatrist appointment on the 26 January so I can get some planning in place mentally. It’s awful because I spend January dreading February, in a state in February and then it ticks over to March.

I can feel myself becoming more emotional, but I refuse to let my fear wear me down. I’ve gotten into good practice walking the dog every night, and I feel much better for reconnecting with my friends, something I plan on keeping up.

I finally saw the kids today and the whole day turned to shit. I waited at Steve’s house as he’d text to say they were going out, then that they’d be late. When they arrived back, J was the only one that talked to me! It’s like I didn’t exist. Steve had bought them bits for their rooms – more stuff I can’t do, and they were engrossed in sorting out their rooms to accomodate the new stuff. I sat on the couch and read a magazine, pretending the whole thing wasn’t hurtful. Next minute, Steve and the girls were playing a card game! I didn’t get asked, there was no consideration of the fact I was there waiting. I just felt crushed. So I announced I was leaving. I just KNEW Steve would text something to either guilt trip me or pass blame and sure enough that text arrived ‘why were you so moody with the kids?’ – I couldn’t even be bothered to get into it. He will never know what it’s like to be left out so frequently.

I came home miserable and opened up a bottle of wine. I rarely drink (especially alone) but I just wanted to unwind and watch some movies. Get rid of this icky feeling. To be honest I still can’t escape how this whole thing has made me feel. But tomorrow Steve is going camping at a friend’s house, so I’m spending the night up there in his kingdom. So who knows? Maybe the kids will notice me? Maybe Steve can lose his reign for the night.

Friends

While the kids have been away, it’s been tempting to just sit and wallow in self pity. Instead I’ve made a concerted effort catching up with friends – and it’s been fabulous! I forget how kind, warm and accepting my friends are. In my head I get such anxiety about perceptions and things to talk about. I fear I’m a bad conversationalist, boring company. That friends will judge me harshly and try to get out of seeing me again. It’s not a reflection on them, but my own paranoia and self doubt. Instead I’m left wondering; why did I leave it so long? It’s been great to have adult company, share stories, share experiences. There’s a glimpse of the old confident, capable person.

I even took a drive out to check out a different outdoor pool for when the kids get back. I’m not great anymore at driving out of my comfort zones, and I relied solely on google maps, but I loved having a swim on a hot summers day. Beat sitting around feeling sorry for myself. And I wasn’t self conscious because I was enjoying the pool, I wasn’t worried about what other people were thinking. And that’s a lot of my trouble, I get caught up worrying about what other people think.

Tonight my friend suggested I look at volunteer work while I look for the ideal part time job. It hadn’t occurred to me, so I think I’ll look into it. That may also help my self confidence and allow me to gain different experience.

I am still missing the kids terribly, and I still harbour resentment towards Steve for creating these new memories and experiences with the kids without me. I’ve had mixed responses from friends, some feel I’m right and it’s understandable some think it’s obvious he’d take the kids away without me and I should just accept it. I think both of these perspectives are right. But obviously for me it’s emotional so of course I’m entitled to feel left out, resentful and it’s another kick in the guts from Steve. Facing them all when they get back will be difficult. I don’t want to hear about their holiday. I’d rather just forget this period of time occurred. Not seeing my friends though! I need to make more of an effort to maintain contact with people.

I’m not sure what I’m doing tomorrow, but I’ll try and keep busy.

Kids away

So my ex husband has gone on holiday with my children. He’s rented a house (with a pool) and they’ve all gone for nearly a week.

To say I’m gutted is an understatement. It was bad enough when he took them to Napier, but at least it was their grandparents over Xmas time. This is another not so subtle stab in the chest that we’re no longer a family. Although he did had the audacity to say that when he gets back his friend is hosting a party with guests pitching tents and he’d rather leave the kids with me then because he’ll ‘be sick of them’ by then. So I’m really just a glorified nanny to him, to step in and take over when he needs me. To bugger off when he doesn’t. I hate being in this situation which I’m guilty of putting myself in because I’m obviously keen to see my children. I feel really upset that he didn’t offer for me to join the holiday – is that wrong of me? I’d have dearly loved to hang out with them outside of town and I know how much they love pools. It’s not like Steve and I wouldn’t get on of an evening, we both like the same tv shows. But I think he did this on purpose to reinforce a boundary. Perhaps it’s another reminder that I needed. Not this his constant cruel and callous attitude towards me isn’t enough but this is a tangible display of having different lives. I’ll never be able to provide such lavish holidays for the kids, which makes me feel like a miserable failure. Their dad will always be the one with the expensive gifts and big holidays. How am I supposed to compare?

The weather is shocking with an unrelenting storm hitting the North Island (and is it wrong of me to say South Island with a smile -where they are). It’s constant rain and winds. It’s been like it over the Xmas period and ever since. To be honest, I don’t mind the rain and lower temperatures, I’m happy to curl up and read. It’s hard to get stuff done in the heat. That said, I’ll be pleased to see some sun when the kids get back, so I can take them out to the beach and pools.

I’m feeling really miserable at the moment with the kids gone, so I’m just going to wallow in it. This separation stuff does not get any easier.

Kids are gone

Steve took the children and predictably I broke down and wailed like they were lost at sea. I hate that my babies are being taken away from me, and although I know they will have fun, a part of me resents Steve for taking them away from me during the holidays. Especially choosing to leave earlier, so Boxing Day became miserable for me. He predictably left the house in a state. I did some tidying but my heart wasn’t in it. The house felt so cold (emotionally) and so dead without the children and I could easily imagine them all coming back in. I needed to get out of there. So Ava and I are back at mine. I’ve been cleaning my house non stop for hours to keep my mind busy. Ava is curled up on J’s bed, loyally waiting for her.

I’m anxious about a myriad of different things. I need to phone the benefits office to get that sorted – that’s my main source of stress, and I need to go back to Steve’s to finish off laundry, reload the dishwasher and empty the dehumidifier- Harry ran a bath and forgot about it, so the ensuite was flooded and it came out into the bedroom so the carpet is soaked.

I feel this looming sense of dread that the time is ticking away to a new year and it’ll be another year of shit for me. I literally have nothing to look forward to. I know it’s merely a ticking over of one year to the next and I’ve long since stopped celebrating it, but I can’t help but feel the enormity of starting a new year with nothing to look forward to. I can only hope it’ll be better – it can’t be worse surely?!

At the moment I’m feeling so down because I miss my kids. It’s hard to be positive about anything. But I suppose I should get used to these broken holidays – being as I’m not part of a family anymore.

I’m definitely not going to drink tonight because I know that will end badly. Soon the festivities will be over and hopefully I can resume some stability.

If anyone reading this is struggling with mental health issues, please know you’re not alone. It’s bloody tough but we can get through this.