Update

I’m on my last week of the 8 week running program. I’ve absolutely amazed myself by running 4km. The goal is 5km on Saturday. I’m still not confident but I’m going to give it a good shot. I’ve worked hard at this.

I had a rough weekend. I signed up for self defence, which was being run by women for women. It should have been a safe space. But I was triggered so badly. The idea of shouting really pushed me over the edge. I used my voice but was ignored, why should these self defence tactics make any difference. Plus we talked about strangulation. I was fine with the theory but I wasn’t ready to do the practice. I ended up locked in a toilet stall having a panic attack. When I finally got it together I snuck out to get my bag and leave. A friend caught me on the way out, she hugged me and reassured me. It felt nice, I could have sobbed on her shoulder all afternoon, but I was scared of upsetting the women. So I took my bag and fast footed it to the car. I cried hard driving home. I had to ring Steve in the end because I couldn’t get a grip. He was very understanding- unusually so actually. He knew I’d been doing this and suspected this would happen. I took comfort in his support and made it home. I was incredibly hyper vigilant- jumping and crying at every noise. The exhaustion though was overwhelming. I napped on and off. I felt so drained mentally and physically. I’ve never known anything like it. I was really too tired to have my boy over, but I missed him so much. Playing lego all evening was pretty hard, but I didn’t want to spoil his fun. The following day I had a wicked migraine. My son watched movies while I lay in bed hoping it would go. Suffice to say I felt like a terrible mother.

I’ve had some rough nights since then. Hopefully it will taper off. In retrospect I never should have taken that on. I have enough going on, I should have realised this would trigger me.

My job still sucks. I’m tired of the politics and pettiness. My boss goes on leave from December 21st, I can’t wait. It’ll be nice not to have her breathing down my neck. My official leave isn’t until 14 January. I can’t wait. I desperately need a break from this job environment. I’m still applying for other jobs but it’s tough going. Particularly with the time of year.

I’m really hoping to enjoy this Xmas. Traditionally I’m always unwell at Xmas. I can feel the low creeping in but I’m trying hard to fight it. I want to be there for the kids. There really is nothing quite as sad as sobbing miserably on Xmas day.

As the running program finishes this weekend, some new friends I made and I are making our own running club. I think it’ll be easier to stay motivated with people. I’ve also signed up to some runs around the area, including Round the Bays, which is quite an infamous run event here.

I am worried about my financial situation. As I suppose everyone is. At least Steve and his family can spoil the kids. I’ll never be in a position to do that anymore.

Fingers crossed for Saturday!

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Rape

I saw an English series today that was really triggering. A girl was raped and the perpetrator and his friends seemed to think they had done nothing wrong. As usual when I see things like this I wonder what the rapist thinks when he thinks about me – if indeed he does. Does he feel victimised? Does he brag about taking someone’s virginity? Does he justify his actions that night? What does he tell his daughters? How will he keep them safe? What’s his moral compass when it comes to them? Does he feel guilt? Does he think he had a lucky escape where the law was concerned?

I was reduced to tears. The white hot blade of pain stabbing at me, as usually occurs when I’m triggered to think about it.

My life will never be the same. I recall the rape suite where I told my story. I recall the sterile, cold Family Planning centre where I got the morning after pill. Faceless professionals. The AIDS test, the vaginal swab. The coldness and the emotionless processes I followed.

I will never get closure. I will never get to face him in court. The justice system is weak.

I will carry this on for the rest of my life. Sometimes it lays dormant beneath the surface. I can almost breathe without the feeling of dread and self hate. Sometimes, like now, it bubbles to the surface.

Despair. Self hate. A pain that never ends. A shame that never goes. Self disgust that wraps its tentacles around me.

I will never be fully free of what happened. I will never forgo the panic attacks, the moments of paralysing fear.

I am marked. By him. Forever. And it sickens me.

?

I’m not sure why, but I seem to have dropped a couple of rungs down the ladder. After I saw my counsellor last week, I felt much lighter, I’d finally articulated all of my jumbled thoughts. But by evening I felt empty. I can’t explain it. Not so much drained as just very alone, very vulnerable.

I hoped it was just blowback from the much needed counselling session; but I haven’t been able to bounce back. Even at the gym I feel very sluggish and tired and yet usually it energises me.

It’s possible I was getting into a routine (of sorts). Irrespective of whether I dropped the kids off or not, I’d head to the gym. Do my volunteer work on Thursday, and I guess from there I planned my days.

It’s now the school holidays – and don’t get me wrong, I’m loving spending time with my kids. Steve is completely off the radar and I don’t mind being available at all hours. But I can’t get to the gym daily, I can’t do my volunteer work, my WSD course has finished, it’s hard to see friends because I have the kids and I don’t really have evenings to myself. I have counselling tomorrow and I need to take the kids with me, and I’m seeing my CPN on Friday, I’ll have to take the kids along to that too. Not much fun for them. But I feel I really need my counselling session to work through this and I need to see my CPN to talk about my mood.

I also had a scary experience at the gym last week. I was on the treadmill listening to my music but glancing at the tv screens and for some reason I completely disassociated. A lot of time passed, my legs were working but my mind went off. I KNOW I was thinking about something (flashback?), but I really can’t remember at all. I suddenly sort of came around and panicked. I didn’t know where I was, what I was doing and why it happened. I’m thankful I didn’t fall off the treadmill. But it’s really affected me. The gym is my safe place where I can think through concerns and then distract myself with weights that usually leads to me feeling good. But for quite an extended period, I’d left my body and lost control of my mind. I feel like a memory of what I was thinking is just on the periphery but I can’t quite touch it. It’s such an awful, scary feeling. I haven’t spoken to anyone about it. I guess if it’s not said out loud I don’t need to own it. Plus I can’t imagine anyone understanding that. For 2 days afterwards I had a terrible migraine. Not sure if it’s related or not.

My sleep is also off. I’m not taking zopiclone because I’m mindful that I need to be alert for the kids. But what’s happening is we’re all going to bed later and then sleeping in.

I guess I also have to factor in that Steve had some friends down from Auckland. They’ve been with their wives since Steve and I have been together, and although Steve has been up to Auckland previously, it seemed to affect me more with them being here. All 4 of the kids were at my house and we weren’t allowed into the house. Which sent my brain into overdrive a bit. Were his friends really here? Or was he planning a rendezvous with a new lover? And why should I mind?

After the weekend, Monday to be exact, I was planning a ‘slob’ day at the the house. I knew I’d have a load of washing to do (I don’t have a tumblr dryer at my place), and I knew the kids would relish the space and privacy. Turns out Steve had decided to work from home. As usual he could hardly look at me, and contempt seemed to be radiating off of him. I politely enquired about his weekend (not question him ruthlessly of course) but see if he had a good time and his friends were well. (obviously I know them). He couldn’t have made it any clearer that it clearly wasn’t my business and I had no place to ask.

I miss catching up together. I’d liked to have told him about my gym experience and get his feedback. I’d like to have shared my vulnerability and get some reassurance. I would have loved one of our evenings where we used to watch a movie, have a bottle of wine, some take out. Just have that connection. But of course I realise that’s totally inappropriate.

So like two pieces of broken jagged glass we tried to sludge through the day. In retrospect I should have left the kids with him (he could have worked and looked after them) and I wouldn’t have been in this situation. But of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I miss his warmth and I miss him caring. I miss just chatting and hanging out.

So I think it’s probably a combination of ALL of these things. And now my internal monologue is beating myself up for not giving the kids a better holiday, for wishing for the old times, for losing at my life.

Last night I had a really vivid dream that Steve was telling me about his new girlfriend- I don’t know if he has one or not. But he spoke with such fondness for her and continued his hateful attitude toward me. I could have cried this morning.

Steve has been my best friend for years. But now he can’t even tell me how his weekend was. His hatred of me is almost palpable.

Despite being around my beautiful children, I can’t shake the feeling of loneliness. And Steve’s parents have announced they’re coming down next week, so I’ll be dismissed from mothering duty.

Is it loss of control? Is it a sense of not belonging? Is it just part of the cycle of grief and healing? I don’t know and I feel I’ve lost my way a bit. Please just let this be a temporary phase.

Today

I’m mindful that it’s not even 10pm yet, so I don’t want to get too complacent about the day. But I’m tired and want to document this day.

I’d planned to catch up with my good friend J today. And it was the best planning/decision I could ever have made. I put on a dress I quite like, I dropped some more dreaded forms off at the benefits office, but it was less of a chore because they’re situated next to my favourite bakery, and I headed in there for some morning tea to take to J’s. and off i went! It was a sunny day, J lives over a big hill and in a small town quite isolated from anywhere else, so it always feels really nice to crest the hill and feel like I’m heading into a different world.

J and I drank coffee and chatted about this and that. I felt extremely relaxed, and I also felt very in control. I knew J was completely flexible about the day and that really helped because I didn’t feel any pressure. And she offered to make eggs! Yay! Fresh eggs again! If I still owned my own house, I’d consider chickens.

And as her sons came home I felt part of their warm family and really privileged to be party to it all. Her sons are awesome, and I think/hope my boy is going to be like them at the different ages.

I think I felt empowered by the day. I’d taken charge, I was going to rule this day. I’d taken the very rare step of reaching out, and I’m really glad I did.

We parted company at 5.30, but I didn’t feel ready to face an evening at my house. I called Steve and asked if I could come over, he grunted, why? I explained I wanted to see the kids. As I drove there I considered his response, it was cold and unattached. Having been together for so long, I expected compassionate, regard, respect. No, I wasn’t expecting him to fall at the floor and cry for me, but just an acknowledgement would have been nice. I got to the house and the kids were post dinner playing together (not my eldest of course!). I sat in their room and tried to understand their computer world. We were all together for a few hours, laughing and playing. It was balm to my soul. Then I corrected something I thought Egg was saying wrong, we checked with Steve and it turned out I was wrong! But this lead Steve to tell me how he ‘hates’ how I get then/than wrong and how it couldn’t be more simple. I was firmly chastised. Not that’ll it’ll make much difference!

As the evening drew to a close (the kids going to bed) Steve started on at me for leaving the garage door open. I only have a garage remote to access the house, he hasn’t and I expect won’t get a key cut.

He didn’t ask how I was, he didn’t offer for me to stay, he wasn’t gentle with me, he didn’t consider that we were parting on him having a go at me. And for the first time in a long time I thought, fuck you then! I don’t deserve to be treated as an inconvenience. We may not be together but I’m still the mother of his children. We still have a history in which he knows how painful this stuff is for me. He’s tended to the nightmares, the panic attacks, the tears. But he couldn’t be bothered to simply enquire as to how my day has been.

I think because my day has been good, I am doing this course, I am doing far more for myself then I ever imagined, I didn’t feel angry or let down. It just served to show me on how different territory we’re on.

I’m looking forward to hanging out with my kids tomorrow afternoon as Steve is going out for drinks (despite him making it abundantly obvious he had man flu).

From history I know it’s not a home run. I feel the effects of these memories for days/weeks after. Like the 16th I spent at a clinic, so that day is raw for me. And I’ll have flashbacks about the event and how different my life had become. At least I’m prepared. I don’t know how I’ll handle it, but I know I won’t go knocking on Steve’s door expecting any understanding.

I do know I have friends I can turn too. And this is the greatest lesson of them all.

Swimming fail

Ladies night at the pool tonight, as usual on Sunday night and I try to make it fairly regular. There is a sense of camaraderie amongst women of all shapes and sizes and ethnicities being able to enjoy the pool without fear of judgement or preying eyes. I usually enjoy the background chatter, people catching up, family members aqua jogging together. And I’m certainly most at peace in the water.

Tonight before I left I’m without the kids. I’m at my house. It’s raining heavily, I’m jumping at every noise, I feel lonely. I couldn’t decide whether swimming would help or not, but decided it would get me out of the house.

My body felt worn out before I’d even really begun. The usual energising chatter sounded unbearably loud and from the snippets I caught, really tedious and inane. I tried heading to a different part of the pool and floated on my back. But the chatter continued. The pool was extra busy tonight. I didn’t feel like myself. I wasn’t open to talking to anyone and the smiles I gave were forced. I sat bubbling in the spa pool for a while and realised just how off my axis I’m becoming. The usual joy I’d get from swimming isn’t there. My hyper vigilance is at an all time high. I dreaded returning to my house, but didn’t want to drive home in the dark. Luckily the evenings are still light here.

Now I’m sat in the relative dark, relying on a sleeping tablet to get me through the night.

I have an appointment with the benefits office tomorrow morning which is causing me great anxiety and I have a counselling session booked at lunch time. And of course next week is the day of the actual anniversary, so my entire week is going to be awful. Perhaps that’s why I felt so out of tune with swimming.

I wish I wasn’t experiencing all of these feelings.

Group

Yesterday was the group. I tend not to say much about myself and listen to others instead. But the need to talk about February was too great. I explained that it was an anniversary of sorts – didn’t give much detail, but went on to say I was easily triggered, that I didn’t know how to handle the month, let alone the specific day. Most if not all the women in the group said they were guilty of triggering themselves. The reasons a, creating a situation they had control over and b, an element of self harm/punishment. I was so relieved to find out I wasn’t alone. I also talked about some of the preventative measures I’ve put in place such as deactivating Facebook and avoiding the news. The facilitator talked about avoiding confrontation and taking extra care. I felt really supported in the group and less alone. I’m so glad I went.

After group I went back to my friend’s house (someone from group) and we had a really in depth conversation. I explained it was shame that was stopping me from talking about any details and she felt talking was the only way to get rid of the shame. She talked about her own experiences, her own shame and facing it head on. I was able to open up a bit more to her, whereas previously I’d dodge it. It was incredibly painful and i bordered on a panic attack, but it felt good to talk a bit more. To trust her and to open up to her. She had some ideas for the actual day, watching movies or going for a walk. Just doing something different but not lying in bed all day.

I talked about how I wanted answers. The ‘whys’ primarily and she rightly said that no answer would help me. That the pain would still be mine to bear. She’s right of course.

I didn’t leave her house until 11.30, so after group and an intense conversation I felt drained to the very core. Of course sleep didn’t come easy. My brain was in turmoil. I’d wake up and then drift into a troubled sleep. My friend had told me to expect that.

I have therapy later today, so I feel I have a lot to go over.

I definitely feel I’m putting the work in this month.

Struggling

I deactivated Facebook. I didn’t realise just how much I scrolled through my newsfeed, I find myself grabbing my phone and then realising. I’m probably getting more upset having Facebook though, so I think my brain and my emotions will appreciate the break. And I have messenger active, so I can still communicate with friends.

Last night I had a powerful flashback which nearly sent me into a panic attack, but I had the children at mine, so I had to stay calm and distract myself.

The flashback was of my ex forcing me to receive a sex act that the rapist forced on me. So a double whammy. I feel so out of control of these images and memories. I hate it. I hate living like this. I hate that I feel so vulnerable and everywhere feels dangerous and every man that comes near me feels like a threat. That said, I also act over aggressive. A bus driver asked me to move my car, and I told him it wasn’t my fault he couldn’t park his bus (he had loads of room). I got in my car and he opened up the passenger door and swore at me. I just saw red, I felt cornered and I told him if he didn’t shut my passenger door I would ‘cut his head off.’ – a slight exaggeration I think! But it was fear fuelling my anger and on principle I wasn’t going to be bullied by the man.

I’m feeling tired and irritable. My concentration is shot because my brain keeps reliving in the past, so often I miss conversations with my children, and I can’t stay focussed on reading or tv.

When I went for an appointment with my CPN yesterday and he was off sick, but he’s made contact via email and it’s reassuring to have that check on my mental health. In terms of my mood I know I’m stable, that I’m not entering a low. This is purely circumstantial. I hope it stays that way too.

The kids are back at school now (new term started here), so I’m back to chauffeur mode. I need to learn how to use that time so I’m not isolating myself again – which is tempting. The kids on holiday gave me a purpose and I was desperate for them to have the best summer holiday and form lots of memories. Now I need to learn to do things for me.