?

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.

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Treading water

Life is trudging a long and I continue to fight the low. I’ve continued my gym routine and walking and swimming with the kids on Sunday.

The manager at the volunteer agency offered me a job working with her interviewing people, so I had my first experience last Wednesday as that will be my regular day of the week. I’m was absolutely shattered by the end of the day! Then I had to drive to another town to pick up my three little ones and then go back on myself to pick up my eldest from volleyball training. It was a hot day too, so we all felt tired and irritable that day. But I’m glad I’ve decided to try this role. I hope the tiredness will fade as I get more into a routine.

Today was the start of an anxiety course my CPN put me down for. Ironically I hardly slept last night, anxious about the course! I’m up at the house as Steve’s away, so this morning I dropped the kids off and then crawled back into bed. I was warm and snuggly and wanted to miss the whole day. I reasoned with myself, I was tired, I hadn’t slept, the course would probably be crap, I couldn’t be bothered to go to the gym. But at the very last minute I decided to at least try and then leave if I didn’t like it. So I did. I got out of bed, attended the course, which wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before but I’ll continue with it in case there’s any snippets of new information or advice. I’d packed my gym clothes so I went straight to the gym afterwards.

I’m really proud of myself! On the Sunday I felt tired and sluggish and wanted to stay horizontal but as it was another nice day I’d promised the kids a walk and they were looking forward to it. It did them good as well.

So I’m doing my best. I can’t say I won’t go into a deeper depression without a fight.

I have my counselling session on Wednesday morning – which I’m dreading! God knows what direction Satchel will take us! I have contacted my old counsellor but I’ve still not heard back. I’m not sure she’ll be able to work with my budget constraints.

Things between Steve and I remain cordial. Although it nearly got bumpy. I attended a course on Saturday ‘parenting through separation’ which is done by the Ministry of Justice. It was really interesting and unfortunately I also found out that Steve and I made some costly mistakes at the beginning. Still, going forward there was some useful information and I was also given a ‘parenting plan’ which is a useful template for parents to complete and use as a frame of reference for each parent’s responsibilities. I tried to discuss it with Steve but he wasn’t interested. He feels what we have in place now is working. Which it is, and we’ve always been united where the children are concerned. But I was so badly stung by the separation agreement we put in place through lawyers, I can’t help but feel some insecurity about things further along. As our relationship hasn’t exactly been linear.

Still, a lot of people I met have terrible issues over custody. I’m thankful this isn’t the case for us.

Tomorrow I’m meeting my good friend to try a yoga class, which we’ve both had to delay for various reasons. So I’m anxious about that, but at least I won’t be alone.

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.