Update

You know it’s funny, my ex-husband used to take me away fairly regularly on five star breaks, because he wanted to treat us. The reality is that over the last few years I have been busting a gut to look after the children, keep myself on an even keel, and hold the glue together. I am absolutely exhausted and probably deserve a holiday more now than I ever have! And I can’t afford one! And he definitely won’t pay for one!

I’ve continued to work during the lockdown. It’s not been very easy with the children being demanding, within their reasonable demands of course in terms of expecting lunch and dinner and help with homework. And trying to keep the house tidy. But I’ve managed and I’m eternally grateful that my family are well and that I am in a position to be able to work during lockdown. And I’m especially proud of my children for managing the situation so well and for sticking together.

Of course my anxiety has played havoc, I’m not completely in human. I have had to close myself away in the shower and have a good cry, and I’ve noticed my dose of Valium has increased over the last few weeks because of panic attacks. I found myself waking up in a panic. But I don’t think that’s any different to anybody else. As we realise that those we love around us are at risk. The things we know have changed. And the world around us is an unknown place at the moment.

I am of course grateful to be in New Zealand during all of this. We have an excellent prime minister who is taking care of all of us and the element of risk seems somewhat more less, and although I’m terrified of my children going back to school next week, I have to believe is the best thing for them and for us.

The organisation I work for is very different to anything I’ve ever worked for before. As I’ve had to work from home because I don’t want to put myself and my children at risk, I’ve had to prove myself in terms of meeting KPIs and working on other things as presented to me. I believe that I have met those targets, however the way I present myself is very different to my comrades. I am extremely assertive and I don’t like mistakes being made, and I think this sort of personality probably doesn’t bode well for the laid-back personalities and culture of this organisation that I work for.

I remind myself, that this is really an income provider for me, and I begin my new study again in June. Which I’m really looking forward to. Don’t get me wrong I am totally embracing this role, and I do take on board all of the family situations that I work for. That’s probably makes me a little bit different to others and that I really empathise with my families and their situations. My desire to help them comes from a genuine and authentic place.

I have certainly been enjoying my kids being here more often and they are really enjoying my new home. And it really does feel like a home. With property prices dropping and the need for deposits dropping significantly from the original 20% it would be nice to think that potentially I could look to purchase this property in the near future. I don’t want to get too excited about that in case it’s a no go. I just know that I don’t want to go through constant inspections and be answerable to a corporate organisation and pay somebody else’s mortgage. after all as we know, i used to be a home owner but that was taken away from me. Yes Steve continues to go from better to worse. He is doing exceedingly well financially, the house is now worth over 1 million, and he is sitting pretty. Yes I do feel some resentment over that I’m not going to lie about it. But I have to focus on myself right now and my children I’m doing the best I can for them.

I don’t really have a lot to add in terms of updates because life has been really just ticking along for me. Although there’s been work stresses and other stresses, nothing seems completely unattainable or in surmountable. I don’t know if I can attribute that to the medication or my desire to stay level and on top of things. I just know that there haven’t been any dramatic moments worth noting.

So next week we begin a new journey on level two. Where the kids will be at school and I will be in a new part of my role out on the road meeting families and children, which I am actually really looking forward to. As I said before my desire to help people is definitely genuine. I’m less looking forward to working in the office, but I think that’s pretty standard now being as I already know my passion belongs in a classroom environment.Snext week we begin a new journey on level two. Where the kids will be at school and I will be in a new part of my role out on the road meeting families and children, which I am actually really looking forward to. As I said before my desire to help people is definitely genuine. I’m less looking forward to working in the office, but I think that’s pretty standard now being as I already know my passion belongs in a classroom environment.So next week we begin a new journey on level two. Where the kids will be at school and I will be in a new part of my role out on the road meeting families and children, which I am actually really looking forward to. As I said before my desire to help people is definitely genuine. I’m less looking forward to working in the office, but I think that’s pretty standard now being as I already know my passion belongs in a classroom environment.

I haven’t been catching up with friends, primarily due to lockdown. I have been messaging friends though that have maintained contact with me throughout lockdown. I think it’s really interesting to note who is regularly in touch and who isn’t. It’s like when I moved house, there are some friends that really come to the fore and help another is it disappear into the background. I’m not particularly bothered about this, because throughout this lockdown my main priority has been my children.

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!

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.

Facebook

Every year I do the same. I unblock ‘him’ on Facebook and look through his profile. Even though it affects me terribly and makes me feel sick to my core, I feel this need to see what’s happening in his life. I realise Facebook tends to only show the good and not the bad, but looking at the pictures it seems life is treating him well. I am so gut wrenchingly sad to see this. I’m not sure what I hope for, but in reality I doubt anything would soothe me. It’s all smiles in the pictures but I remember his anger, I remember his not stopping and I remember the pain.

It’s not too dissimilar from these celebrities that act like they’re gods and people adore them, but some women have experienced the other side. The dark side. Unbelievable to so many, it makes it worse, makes it some how scarier, that these people can swim through life, never having any accountability.

And the same thing happens every year, Facebook makes you wait something like 3 days to block someone you’ve just unblocked. So I wait this time down, fearful of my own online safety.

The other issue I’m having with Facebook is triggering articles being published. They pop up on my newsfeed and I am saddened by the stories but made angry by some of the comments.

Steve knows all of this. He tells me to shut Facebook down for a few weeks this time of year. I like to see my friends and families posts, but the price is becoming absorbed in this online world and forgetting to process what I’m actually seeing. Instead over loading and feeling it all when it’s too late.

I fear every year being like this. Never being free of the memories, never being able to breeze through this time without any emotional turmoil.

The thing that gets me most is my sense of powerlessness. I tried reporting him, I even tried confronting him in a letter. But he got a lawyer, and there wasn’t enough evidence because it was historical. Despite a witness finally being more forthcoming. Although I feel for her because I think she was victim too (one of his friends). I don’t think I’ll ever have closure. I only would have closure if he admitted to what he’d done.

So I’ve done my Facebook thing, painful as usual.

I’m considering shutting down Facebook for a few weeks. Apparently messenger is still accessible so at least I’m contactable to friends and family.

I feel so alone with this. I wish someone would reach in and take all the hurt away.

Past and present

I’m feeling increasingly more jumpy. Also more emotional and more frustrated. I can’t stop ruminating over the police investigation and how hard it was, not to mention how futile it was. For him, it’s long since forgotten, but for me I’m still having to deal with the trauma. I’m sick of this every year. I have tried to forget it, but my mind always takes the same route, and the memories come flooding back. I feel so powerless.

On another note, I heard from the investigating cop about the one that’s been dismissed and the internal investigation still hasn’t started yet. To be honest, I couldn’t care less about that. The cops are a network, no one is going to do anything within the force. I feel like shaking them and telling them to use their resources to investigate what happened to me. I don’t know if enough rocks were unturned, and I hate myself for not remembering names, although for the important witnesses, I’m not even sure I knew their names at the time. It doesn’t stop me feeling like I could have done more.

And my ex continues to come into the picture. As if I don’t have enough traumatic events to deal with. I suppose he’s living the life of Riley too. I have no faith in karma or the justice system.

This Sunday is the support group and I’ll definitely go to that. I haven’t been for months. I think it’ll be beneficial to be around other people that can understand me. I’ve tried finding some comfort in a couple of websites; aftersilence.org and pandoras aquarium. But then I end up finding the posts triggering.

2 of my children are back at school. The youngest. I miss them terribly, especially my son. But I am able to get more done during the day. My other 2 start on Thursday.

Steve is away a lot so I get to stay at the house and to be honest, it helps. If feels safer here. It always did feel like my sanctuary. When he’s back, I actually dread going back to mine. Although I’ve got it laid out perfectly for me, it’s hard to feel at home. The house is in a suburb on a fairly busy street, and there’s crime down there. Whereas up here at the house, there isn’t crime around and the house is on a private, dead end road, so no through traffic.

I miss my old life. And I can’t get over the sting of loneliness. I’m going through all this trauma alone.

I just want February to hurry up and be over.