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.

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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.

Therapy fall out

Physically I’m feeling unwell, I just vomited quite violently in the toilet.

Mentally and emotionally I feel beaten up. I feel a myriad of different emotions. Fear, shame, guilt, anger, sadness to name a few. I really thought when Steve got back from work he’d appreciate how bad I was feeling, but he didn’t care. I stayed in the bedroom while the kids played outside and he watched tv. I don’t know why I expected anything different. But he’s the one person that’s always got me, always understood and supported me. I suppose it was wrong of me to expect something different. After all I’m not his concern now and it’s none of his business.

Memories plague me. Snippets of horrible scenes that I don’t want to think about. I feel the shame and sense of being dirty as though it only happened last week.

I wanted to shower and scrub myself, but I was at Steve’s house, so it wasn’t really reasonable to expect to do that.

Even my relationship with my ex has come to the forefront of things. And even worse, ‘our’ song came on the radio on the drive home from Steve’s and it felt like I was being taunted from a past that should be buried. I think about how he manipulated me, how he abused me and how I held him in such high regard (this is a different ex, not Steve).

I talked about too much today and it’s really messing with my head.

Unfortunately I have the 2 younger ones staying with me tonight as they start school tomorrow. But I would have preferred to stay alone tonight. I’m sad, I’m lonely and now I’m sick. I just need some space. I’m due to return to Steve’s Tomorrow as the 2 oldest are there and he’s away overnight.