Last night

So it’s my last night in the U.K. I said goodbye to my sister which was far more difficult than I imagined. I cried all the way back from her place 


We’ve really reconnected and I’m really grateful for that. I’ll miss her terribly.

I’m looking forward to seeing my kids obviously but prior to that I have this god awful flight to contend with. My anxiety is bad anyway but it manages to encompass all of my fears; crowds, claustrophobia, lack of control.

I’m hoping to keep myself sufficiently drugged on both legs of the flight (going via Dubai again). Annoyingly my dad has booked with Emirates that I think is one of the worst airlines, but he’s paying so I can’t complain!

Naturally I’m incredibly anxious about the stress when I arrive in NZ. There’ll be a lot to plan and organise and no doubt fight for. I know I’m far from strong enough, but I can’t put off seeing the kids any longer, I miss them and even though I’m a useless mother, they need me.

I will miss England terribly. I’ve dearly loved my time here. Even with the crappy weather! It’s been fantastic to be amongst my friends and family and connections have become far deeper. I realise I’m very blessed and wish with all my heart I’d not taken it for granted in the past.

If I had a choice I wouldn’t leave, but I have to make good with what I have.

I’ve also found out that a psychiatrist won’t be available until mid October!! That’s a painfully long wait when I’ve been on the wrong medication for so long. I was hoping to get it sorted pretty much as I arrived as it’ll take a while for the meds to work.

So the England chapter closes. I know there’s more I should have done, more people I should have seen, but I’m just glad that I’ve had this experience.

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Reality

So my dad has booked the tickets and I’m beyond excited to see my babies again. It’s been too long and much longer than I anticipated. I keep imagining their faces, their warmth, even the way they smell. I won’t be able to get enough of them.

The hurdles that I have to deal with on my return are what are keeping me awake at night. I’m so glad my parents are going to be flying with me and have booked accomodation for us. That’s a huge weight off of my mind. But I have so much to organise in the short time they’re with me, seeing my lawyer, organising my medication and worse still, organising my own accomodation in the long term. I keep having terrible anxiety attacks and I’m barely sleeping. I feel deeply suicidal because I don’t know how I’m going to be strong enough to deal with all the shit, especially how Steve will inevitably treat me. I feel so vulnerable, so alone, so afraid of my uncertain future. But having my parents by my side in the start will help immensely. My focus is on my children and their love and excitement to see me back.

I am both relieved at the booked flights and equally terrified. There is something to be said for the ignorant sanctity I have been indulging in back home. Although I’ve obviously had guilt and uncertainty, the immediate concerns could be thwarted by delay. Now everything is speeding towards me like a jump from a tall building and I know this landing is also going to hurt.

I’m scared of my unknown future. I’m not strong like I used to be. Nothing is the same. And somehow I need to conjure the strength to organise everything in the short time that I have my parents both emotionally and financially. And I worry about the toll on them. They don’t have deep pockets, they’re old and deserve their peace. Not hurtling towards a car crash situation that’s geographically the furthest point away with a large potential financial burden.

I feel like I’ve let everyone down. I’m no longer the daughter to be proud of, the mother to be proud of and the woman to be envied because I had it all. I’m broken and I have nothing. I am nothing and I’m completely without direction. 

Aside from the warmth of my children – that is all I have to cling to.

Fighting

The UK continues to provide a good source of friendship and family and a nurturing environment. But I miss my kids so much I’m feeling the loss like a physical illness. I Skype with them almost daily and it’s not enough. I’m consumed with thoughts of them and can’t enjoy the simplest thing without wondering what they’d think.

Unfortunately S has gotten progressively worse and nasty and I know a cold, hard fight awaits me in NZ. The blows which he’s dealt have at times rendered me breathless and unable to see a way forward. It’s like his contempt of me grows daily and he’s trying to make me stay away by increasingly throwing obstacles at me. I can’t remember feeling as despised as I have been. And this thrusts me into a horrible quandary. I want to be with my babies but I need to be strong to face S and his hard hitting blows. I wonder if I’ll be able to survive it.

My kids are gutted as time goes on. They miss me and need me back. They don’t understand why I can’t afford a flight back, they don’t understand that I’m not allowed in the house – but their father has hired a live in nanny instead. It’s confusing for them. I can’t slate their father to them. I have to bite my tongue and say it’s all going to be ok.

But it’s never going to be ok. I had no idea how capable of change someone I once loved could be. Someone that used to make me feel safe and loved. Now I’m treated like something lower than scum. 

The whole thing is a brutal mess. 

I don’t regret coming back to the UK. It’s been a place that’s felt safe and where I’ve been reassured I’m not a bad person.

But going back will take some serious strength. And as any communication I have with S usually renders me in a state of panic and unable to function – I worry if I’ll ever be strong enough.

This is looking to be my toughest fight yet.

Still here!

I’m still at S’s house, I can’t explain why that is aside from the fact he has clearly needed me for childcare as he’s been considerably late every day. Harry has been sick with a bug so I’m glad I can be here for him. But there is an element of feeling almost anxious about going back to my own home even though i miss it which is a paradox. I suppose a similar occurrence happened when I moved into the other house, for the first couple of weeks maybe even longer I found excuses to stay longer at S’s house. Unlike previously it’s not that I’m trying to hang on to something that’s gone, I just don’t really fancy being on my own right now and perhaps as the last time I was there I felt so down; pretty much suicidal I’m nervous about going back to the same space. But it is something that I really need to do, not only that but I really need a break it’s been really full on with the kids as well as everything else all the time.

If S feels I  am  outstaying my welcome he hasn’t said anything, on the contrary he’s been very accommodating. I guess somewhere along the line he realises I’m feeling anxious about being alone again. If I thought Harry was not going to school on Monday I can take him back over the hill with me.

I met up with a friend for coffee today which I haven’t done for such a long time and was sure I could push through. Okay so I wasn’t too bad about the whole thing, in my mind I could see myself leaving and going back to the house, but I pushed through it and also I was keen to try to have some semblance of being a normal person.

It was quite nice to have adult company and to be out of the house without my children. But I could not have lasted more than two hours I could feel anxiety was starting to seep in. And that’s the thing with anxiety it hides in the corner, and lets you know its presence is there, the more you try to ignore it,     the more it seems to appear larger and looming over you, until it starts to wrap its arms around you and grip you tightly.

This evening has been quite nice S and I ordered Indian food and watch movies all evening. A non-thinking activity and also no need for communication so i think he enjoyed the silence and relaxed atmosphere.

I was looking forward to getting to bed at the end of it, keen for some sleep, but as like last night despite feeling tired I feel extremely restless I know it’ll be a while before sleep embraces me. In one of the movies that was a scene again very innocuous and hardly worth mentioning but it stuck in my mind and was trying to conjure a flashback that wouldn’t come but my body seemed to remember. This has left me feeling more unsettled.

In all it’s not been a bad day, the house has been enveloped in fog all day and it’s rained relentlessly, but at least I’ve got some time out with a fellow human being and it’s been a relaxing evening.

Tomorrow I really must try and get back to my own home.

Therapy

I saw my therapist today. I’d been anticipating the appointment for ages, eager to relinquish a lot of deep seated grief and confusion compounded by an unrelenting trigger. One that I’ve never articulated before. As my car was under going work for its WOF, I had use of S’s car – as long as I dropped him at work. The drive from the city was good because it allowed me to focus on driving only and not my anxiety that had been gradually building in the lead up to today. 

I arrived nearly an hour early, but fortunately her office is within the Womens Centre, so I was able to relax on a sofa with a cup of tea. The waiting time didn’t help with my anxiety and I was self conscious that I was breathing like Darth Vader while I waited. In fact I started to reconsider bringing up anything that might make me uncomfortable.

As luck would have it, her previous client had to leave early, so she invited me in to start early. I felt myself go off on a tangent about irrelevant things – anything to detract from the fears inside.

But I intend to use therapy to benefit me and I need to work on my issues – although it feels easier to shun anything that’s painful or uncomfortable, ultimately I end up feeling better when I’ve been honest.

So I described in vivid detail the trigger. The aspects that frighten me most, the lingering feeling of fear and sadness so intense it’s breath taking.

I’m confused about how this particular trigger has come about. I’m also unsure why it’s bothering me so much now. I can’t think of anything that’s happened recently that would effectively trigger the trigger!

During our analysis of the trigger, I moved through a raft of feelings. The predominant one was sadness, but I also felt at times angry, confused and very small. Child like, fragile, exposing a great vulnerability to my therapist. The tendency to disassociate lingered ever stronger, and the urge to babble about less relevant things sometimes took over. I felt my insides creep and crawl. I wanted answers from my therapist – I wanted to see the horrific car crash – but what if I saw something so disturbing- I’d never be able to forget it?

My therapist told me some insightful experiences she’d had and tried to find a thread on which I could gently pull and unravel the darkest places in my heart.

Although I’ve been unable to attach the trigger to anything, I certainly feel like my insides were scraped out. I feel like I may have been on the precipice of something both profound and heartbreaking. 

When I left the session and drove home, I felt sick. Completely nauseous to my stomach, uncomfortable, awkward. A surface had been scratched and the feeling of deep sadness and shame has long since lingered with me.

I’m tired, more than usual after a session. A dull headache throbs. I want to sleep, really to avoid the feelings. Yet I also want to sleep to remember.

There is nothing as frightening and frustrating as wanting memories so badly – but fearing them with great velocity. An inner turmoil so great, I can quite empathise with the drinkers and the drug takers.

I need to be ready to pick up the kids soon. I need to be able to put this session aside and be present.

I feel raw and alone with this. 

Furious – the ugly truth of rape culture 

I was so scared to share my last blog. Fear of shame, humiliation, being judged. I have spent the last few hours considering pulling it. I love to be honest and write my experiences and insight. It’s important to me, to document, to heal. To share.

I anticipated some backlash. But I didn’t anticipate this particular backlash, especially from someone I know.

And I quote (without getting permission)

Anyone in exposed situations is at risk. Doctors have to have someone with them if they are examining a woman. The odd woman will claim assault and there are big payouts if he does not have backup. It is being used by children against teachers etc. Yes there are bad public servants but a lot of innocent people have their lives ruined.

I mean, WTF???

You asked a question and I gave you an answer. There is now a bandwagon of money seekers. That is nothing to do with you or women like you but it is almost becoming a business now.

A business??

If you are an MP it is almost certain that you have carried out an assault at some point. In correcting one area the pendulum swings too far the other way.

Nothing to do with me or women like me??

Rape culture is defined as 

Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.

Men and women have a subconscious or conscious part of this culture – that can be anything from the long held belief that rape is the attack of a young, fully clothed  (no flesh showing), woman being threatened by a knife with mask wielding maniac in an alleyway. It can be the long held belief that as long as a woman doesn’t get drunk, dress a certain way, have too many sexual partners, flirt with a man, walk around at night, to name a few, are somehow part to blame for their attack. It can be people judging the accused, assuming a natural bias towards the accused because they’re white/wealthy/popular/famous/could have any woman they wanted/was known to the woman/volunteered at a homeless shelter/adopted a cat – the list goes on.

Rape culture isn’t bias towards men, women, sexuality, race, age. Anyone can participate in perpetuating the myths that ultimately harm the victim, prevent justice and divide a community.

By someone I know declaring victims out to make money, buying into false allegations propaganda, empathising with the accused’s family, they are indirectly insulting me, my friends and other victims out there.

Let me tell you, I cannot imagine a woman alive going through the harrowing pain, humiliation, degradation of talking about an assault for the sole purpose of making some money. I don’t deny that there *might* be, but I’d think that number is so comparatively small that’s almost obsolete. The onus HAS to be on making women feel safe enough to speak out. To not be condemned, threatened, humiliated and destroyed by a trauma that she didn’t ask for.

Frankly, I haven’t been so disgusted for a long time. Not because someone spoke the words that so many already think, but because it came from someone that knows me and knows the heartache that I’ve been through. Someone that I believed would stand up to rape culture, stand up for women and not buy into this nasty, vicious secondary assault on victims.

Turns out, you really can’t know people. And people can’t really know you.

People may feel comfortable in their ignorant beliefs, content not to face the real fear that women have known for too long. But ignorance provides a blanket for predators to roam freely amongst them.  To go without punishment, to go without fear of consequences. It leaves a victim more afraid, more isolated, silenced and perpeptually ashamed.

I remain appalled at these messages.  I print them here so I can assign blame where it belongs. With the culture that CHOOSES to be blind, CHOOSES the predator over the victim.

I want no part of anyone that is willing to throw myself or other survivors under the bus to make themselves feel better about the world we live in.

Shame. On. You.

The thing (the truth)

You know what, I am just going to write about what’s been happening that has caused me so much stress.  No one has said that I can’t discuss it and I’m sick of carrying it around and being careful not to mention anything.  And again, I cannot be silenced.

So, I started by blog when I was back in NZ after my brief time in the UK (18 Months) because S got ‘the job’ that was going to ‘make’ him.  Yep, heard that before.  I was pregnant with our son and I really didn’t need that upheaval, when I had a good circle of friends and a good OB here.  But he was adamant, we were all going.  It was going to be good for us.

We were given two weeks to pack our lives and move out of the house, the house I’d loved overlooking the ocean.  Where friends had congregated for BBQs, and where the children went to school just down the road.  We had, like most accumulated so much stuff, alas, most of it became charity or tip fodder.  The whole thing felt like a nightmare.  I anticipated any second that S would change his mind.  Why would I want to return to the UK??

Back in the UK, we’d miss a Kiwi summer, and were in an English winter.  I can’t tell you how depressing, back to back winters are.  S was in the job straight away, so pregnant and leaving my kids with my parents, I trawled rental properties with an agent.  I was pregnant, tired and sick and eager to build a nest for my children.  I had no help, my parents bordered useless.  They were never good with the kids and as a wife/mother, it was obvious that I could juggle all the balls in the air, still look good and not complain.  We were temporarily in an apartment, a 2 bedroom apartment which was hellish with three small children, so S arranged for us to move into a four bedroom apartment near St Paul’s Cathedral.  The area was lovely, and perhaps in holiday mode, I could have enjoyed the history and architecture and atmosphere and I have done previously in London.

But not just a house, I needed to find an OB and hospital too.  This meant many taxi trips and appointments, squeezing the odd scan in where I could to make sure my baby was OK with all this stress.

I found a house, a lovely big home a short walk from shops, off the M25 so easy drive into London city (not incl traffic!) and a fast train into London.

Our furniture was continuously delayed, so we had small pieces of rental furniture.  That were neither homely nor barely functional.  But we got through it.  Despite morning sickness and tiredness and swollen ankles, I organised a school for the kids and started to make this town our home.

I could never shake my regret at not filing charges against the man who had attacked me all those years ago.  And I felt more vulnerable than ever.

I hired a PI initially, I had to KNOW my enemy, and then I decided to press charges.

S worked long hours in the bank.  I felt I barely had any support.  My parents of course delighting that I should be a bankers wife and concentrate on being a Stepford wife.

The whole thing was a horrible, long never-ending nightmare.  But that is a different story.

As I lived in a county away from where it happened, I pressed charges through the local constabulary and then they in turn communicated with the constabulary of the area where the attack occurred.

communication breakdowns, different people on shift, new people, disorganisation and the general disregard you’d expect for a hisotric case were all part of a journey that lead to multiple psychiatric treatments, in-house care, medications, etc. I also managed to parent three kids, give birth to my fourth, and manage my life back in Blighty.  Of what life I had.  The resentment that I had towards S slowly bubbled unde the surface.  Maybe this signalled the start of our breakdown.

Anyway, there was a ‘Specially Trained Officer’ in the local police office that always treated me with such compassion and kindness.  We had a lot in common, and he was great company, funny and attractive.  He always had time for me, he never saw me as victim, he always helped by giving me legal advice and I feel supported me through the whole process.  Even in times of panic and upset, I could get hold of him.  We text each other often and after a while, people started to think our communication was probably too much.  But I didn’t care, here was a man who understood my pain, but could make me laugh and be there to mop up the tears.  I’m not sure how the line was crossed, there is no clear moment, no recollection of comment misread, or a ‘moment’ but somehow we became flirtatious.  There was an attraction between us.  He was married as well, but he told me unhappily and keen to leave.  We bonded over so many commonalities, and he made me feel like a desirable woman.  Not a mother, nor wife, nor struggling mental health patient.  A woman with desires, smart, funny and tender too.

In essence he represented to me everything my husband was not.  He listened, he advised, he held me, he spoke to me for hours.  He was there.

Anyway, he knew ultimately I would return to NZ and he knew that I loved my husband.  But I genuinely believed that there was something special, a connection.

I’m not going to justify this, it was wrong.

Fast forward, maybe three or so years later.  I’m in NZ.  He texts occasionally.  Chatty, upbeat messages, but I keep my tone civil but wary.  I am focused on my family and my marriage and I’m home.  Then he tells me that there was some sort of protest and he and some other cops got involved, things got a bit gnarly and there’s been a complaint about him.  He wonders, if asked, if I  might be a reference for him.

I don’t think that a good idea at all, and say as much.  I asked some friends in the UK and they tell me about a protest that occurred, so I know that much to be true.

He asks a few more times, implies things are heating up.  I answer the same.  I haven’t been in the UK for ages, it would be strange and frankly I don’t know the charges or what happened.

Then I receive a letter, from his office, an official letter, asking for information about an investigation into an officer during years that women made were pressing charges for sexual assault related crimes.  Of course, it was during the year that I had made my complaint (about the offender).

I thought it an odd request.  I ignored it.  I wanted no part of it.  I did query though, with him, why this letter?  He claims that someone is suggesting he was inappropriate, but its all lies and it’s a witch hunt.  Of course, I believe this because initially it seemed to be about a protest.

Gradually as time wears on, his communication comes in spurts.  Mostly asking for a references, sometimes just random, vague messages.  Once telling me he was quitting the force, felt suicidal.  It all seemed surreal.  I didn’t reply because I didn’t understand.

Gradually I started to wonder if maybe he had done something.  Overstepped a mark with someone, and if so, I had effectively set the benchmark.  As my affection was mutual, could he have interpreted that to mean that it was OK to make moves on victims?  I felt horrendously guilty.  Had I started a behaviour?  A year went by, and I carried the weight of my guilt.  What had I done?  What had he done?

So I called and obtained the name of the investigating officer.  I spoke to her.  I had to know what was going on, and why.  Hoping it was something minor, something casual, a witch hunt.  The investigation was still on going.  And I learnt that he had been inappropriate with 10 women in total (that they knew of).  All survivors of sexual assault, all with some sort of mental health issues.  I felt my heart go to stone.  Immediately I explained it WAS MY FAULT, I had been equally attracted and so he must have thought that paved the way to be with other people.  I also asked why this started off the back of a protest.  It had nothing to do with a protest.  It was a woman, making a complaint about his conduct.  I was noted in the communication through emails.  They expected I had become involved but without talking to me, they didn’t know the extent of the communication.  I had to know – was it my fault?  What had I done?

I thought back to when I saw him, always on duty, always in a police car (unmarked), it added to the appearance of a professional meeting.  Yes, somethings had seemed or said that seemed inappropriate, but he was a man and we were friends now, so it didn’t matter did it?

Frankly the whole thing is confusing.  He’s apparently claiming to be very unwell (mentally) but the argument is whether that caused his behaviour or whether he’s simply using it as an excuse.  I guess that’s internal politics because I don’t know why a resignation wouldn’t be accepted.

I mentioned that his marriage was broken and it had been a difficult year for him – yeah well, apparently that’s not true either.

In fact, I am not really the wiser as to what is true and what isn’t anymore.  Maybe I wasn’t so special?  Was he attracted to damaged goods?  Did I really know him at all?  Could these women be wrong?  Was it wrong that he spent so much time with me?  I thought he genuinely liked me.  Or was I a challenge?  Was this a game?

I mentioned to the woman who I kept my phones, I always keep my cell phones, unless I upgrade.  I have a phone and handbag addiction.  I’m not even sure why it tumbled so forthcoming from my mouth.  Even at the time, she didn’t seem interested.  I guess I pictured that Blackberry in my draw, that had been my lifeline.  So many messages communicated.  Such an integral time in my life.  Later she asked for me to send it back.  But the thing has been long since reset.  I might keep my phones, but I don’t keep my data.  She wanted things I’d told her to be written down and for me to sign. A formality with record keeping.  That made sense.

Little did I know, its been a few weeks of complete hassle.  Emails come with statements – formal looking, I’ve had to go to the library and sign and scan.  NZ Police got involved to get the phone.  I have felt scared.  I have felt further violated.  And frankly I would like to speak to the person in question and ask all these questions, did I mean anything to you?  Whats a lie?  Whats the truth?  Is this all one big mistake?

I’m reminded of the reason we met in the first place, and that adds to the seediness of it all.  I feel dirty and crappy all over again.  I’m scared.  I feel used, but I feel so stupid.

I want to believe he’s the nicest cop I’ve met, that helped me through a traumatic time.  The alternative cannot be right.

So, this is why my life has taken an unusual and upsetting turn.  I probably shouldnt have called the UK police, but I had to know the truth.  Although I don’t feel much closer to it.

Again, I’m shouldering this alone.  But I have made an appointment with my therapist to discuss this.  I need to talk, and to think about it.  I need to find where to allocate my blame.  I need to consider what this means and what I’ve done wrong here.