?

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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Progress

Progress is slow – but there is progress. The other day I didn’t have to take the kids to school, and I found myself lying in bed, not wanting to get up. Lunchtime came and went and still I remained, dozing on and off in bed. Everything felt too hard, pointless or required too much energy. But I told myself, I must at least go to the gym. I always feel better afterwards, not once have I finished a work out and gone, naaa, that was a waste of time. So I went and I did my hour and felt pretty chuffed with myself.

There’s still telltale signs that I’m not functioning properly. Housework has taken a back seat, I’m more emotional, my anxiety is always running high. I’m usually very house proud, so it’s unlike me to let the house get so messy. And every Wednesday when I go to volunteer I go through a myriad of excuses as to why I can’t go. But I go, even though my entire being is resisting.

But I see progress and I think others are noticing it too. I maintain my gym routine, I try to maintain communication with people and I put a lot of effort into my time with the kids. I’ve kept up with the Wednesday evening group for the ‘married, separated or divorced’ even though it’s a fair drive and the nights are drawing in so it’s dark, but I’m taking part more. And it’s reminder that I’m not alone.

Last Sunday was the survivors monthly meeting and it was a total flop. There wasn’t the usual energy and interesting pieces of information. It basically revolved around two women that I don’t like very much – and nor does anyone else for that matter! I was sneaking out and two of my friends caught me, they felt the same so we left and went to one of their houses and enjoyed a cold beer. It saved my Sunday from being a complete waste of time. I had to leave early though because Sunday night is my swimming time with the girls. They look forward to it every week and I’m really pleased we can do something together.

I have no routine, Steve’s hours are completely off the wall. Working very late, leaving early, sometimes travel sometimes not. So it’s a bit hard for me to commit to much else because I never know when I’m going to be needed. But it kind of works. I get more time with the kids and they’ve stayed at my house more often. I’m not sure if Steve realises how fortunate he is to have me always waiting in the background, ready at the drop of a hat, even though I’m still fighting my own mental illness. But I think I owe him. After all he went through because of my illness and having to be there for me constantly. At least I get time with my children, as opposed to him dealing with a sick wife.

Things remain amicable between us. But I feel a little like I have to walk on eggshells, if I say the wrong thing he accuses me of trying to start an argument or makes comments like ‘it’s always about you.’ I have to be careful what I say and how I say things. But I appreciate he’s busy and stressed with work. I just wish he didn’t think so little of me to always assume the worst.

The positive thing to come out of all of this is that I’m rediscovering myself. I wasn’t very self reflective when I was married. We were a unit and everything was just assumed as we’d grown together as opposed to growing as individuals. But I’m realising I’m quite a different person to who I thought I was and my likes/dislikes have changed a lot. It’s scary to realise everything I thought I knew is in question, but at least I’m being honest with myself.

So, the journey continues, one day at a time.

Fighting fit

I’m really fighting back against this low. I’m determined not to spiral into the horrible, black abyss I’ve been in before. Today was another example. I woke up but didn’t want to get up at all. It wasn’t just tiredness, it was a complete unwilling to take part in my life. Fortunately Steve has been away a lot recently so I have the kids – which I love. They were my motivation for getting up this morning, but it still felt like trudging through mud.

My friend and I did the yoga class last week and really enjoyed it. Today, I really didn’t want to go, I just wanted to drop the kids off and crawl back into bed. The strength of this feeling is like a magnet. But I dressed in my gym gear and drove to yoga, determined to just give it a few minutes at least. For the first 10 minutes I hated it. My body wouldn’t comply, I was tense, anxious, kept thinking about how I could just have stayed in bed. But gradually I got into the yoga – although I’m not bendy at all, my yoga days are well behind me.

I had a quick coffee with my friend, even though I’d never have imagined being out in public earlier.

I didn’t want to go on to the gym, I reasoned that I’d done my hour of yoga – but thought about how previously I’ve felt better for going, even when I really didn’t want too. So I went and had a fantastic workout, I’m getting stronger and I’m speeding up on the old treadmill. I left sweaty and with shaking muscles but dead proud of myself for my achievement.

I think I’m on the right anti depressants at last. They really act as a buffer. And fighting against my cumbersome body must be paying off. Although physically I haven’t changed which is really annoying.

Tomorrow I’m back at my volunteer role and I’m supposed to attend this special Easter luncheon. Mingling with different people from the organisation. I’m dreading it. Absolutely dreading it. But I will go, I’ve made that commitment to my boss and myself, even though I’ll be incredibly anxious.

In small steps I’m taking part in my life. It’s not easy and my internal monologue is still full of self loathing, doubt and anxiety. I ‘catastrophe’ every event/communication that I have. Some habits are harder break then others.

As for Satchel, she just keeps getting worse, her metaphors are cringeworthy, and she just rambles on aimlessly desperate to impart her knowledge of the Buddhist way of living, if I even mention stress or anything I want to get off my chest – she immediately stops me to meditate. It’s very off putting and unhelpful. I’m still on waiting lists for other therapists, but I also chased up my old counsellor and put it to her boss that I couldn’t afford the usual charge but wasn’t having much luck elsewhere. She said she’d talk to my counsellor and see what they could do – I never imagined I’d be able to do that. It feels embarrassing and shameful to basically beg for cheaper sessions.

Anyway, I’m off to pick up the kids and then make them all a lovely dinner (although they probably won’t like it!) but taking the time to prepare nice dinners for them feels like another way to show my love for them. Rather than putting frozen nuggets in the oven all the time – although that’s ok of course! And I still resort to that at times!

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.

Camping and counselling

Camping with the kids was absolutely fantastic. They were really helpful, they coped without WiFi and tv and we all had a really good laugh. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. For me, the disconnect from reality and being absorbed in (sorry for the cliche) nature and my kids was a real recharge. I would have suggested longer, only the heat was stifling so it was hard to keep food fresh, and we had to pick up C’s uniform in an allotted time today, and I see my psychiatrist tomorrow. But it was a good introduction at least. I especially enjoyed us all sitting around a lantern at nightfall and sharing ghost stories. It’s a rarity to have all the kids together and getting along like that. Obviously it’s no comparison to Steve taking them on a lavish holiday with meals out, but at least they adapt to my budget. I missed Steve on the trip. It’s my first holiday with the kids without him. I thought back to our camping experiences (and there were a lot) and I know he would have enjoyed seeing the kids out camping, and I’d have had someone else to share the memories with. It’s weird because I thought of him on our camping excursion but I know he would never have thought about me when they went on their first holiday without me. It never fails to amazes me how much of a light switch some people have with their feelings. We had years together but to him it’s meaningless.

Anyway, there’s no point droning on about that, it is what it is. The important thing is that I got to spend precious time with my children and they enjoyed themselves.

I did have my cell with me, although the battery drained and I had a message to say a counsellor has been allocated to me locally. I’ve been on a waiting list for a while so I’m really happy about that, although a little apprehensive that it’s a person I can relate to well. The reason I opted for this place was because it’s the cheapest service in the area and I may get funding. I literally can’t afford normal counselling or my old counsellor. I start on Monday.

My CPN has told me that I need to tell the psychiatrist that February will be a difficult month for me. I’m not entirely pleased as it’s also her last day so I hate going into detail, I’ll avoid it if I can. It’s infuriating that yet another psychiatrist will be allocated to me and then it’ll be starting from scratch again. I refuse to have any medication changed because a new psychiatrist doesn’t believe in it or whatever.

My medication does seem to be working, although I have to say it was a nuisance to remember it while camping. I never had medication before when I was camping. But I guess it’s that whole ‘having an illness’ thing, like a diabetic. Rather take a few minutes out to take some pills then be back to almost catatonic. I certainly wouldn’t have managed a trip like this a few months ago.

So now we’re back at Steve’s (he’s away) and I’m tied to laundry and tidying. The kids are back to devices and the tv is on. On the flip side it’s been really nice to have a shower and put clean clothes on! And of course, charge my phone!

This has been a really special summer. Usually the kids are in holiday programs but I’ve been determined to give them a good time with trips to the beach, the pools and of course camping. And with Steve taking them away to Napier (to his parents) and on their holiday, they have a lot to talk about when they go back to school, and more importantly they have memories.

I’ll miss them when they start back at school. Which is next week. But my plan is to take the dog on lots of long walks so I can keep up my activity level and increase my fitness. And get to the pools for a good swim.

The present and the past

This week has been full on with activities and seeing friends. I’ve really enjoyed physically pushing myself and hope it’ll kick start me into regular exercise, aside from walking the dog around the block.

Today I met with the woman that I got my dog from a second time and we went on a long hike. It was a beautiful day, and our dogs loved it. Then when we went our own way, despite it being late in the afternoon, I decided to drop my dog home, grab my togs and go for a swim. It felt so nice to be out in the ocean, and I picked a spot away from everyone, so it was wonderfully peaceful.

Last night I had dinner with a good friend of mine, and we headed back to my place as we always do and had a few drinks. We talked about a lot of different things, but my past came up. She was quite direct and asked questions which I didn’t mind and would have been comfortable saying if I didn’t want to talk about it. But it felt quite helpful to reference things that really stick in my mind. Memories that are fuzzy, memories that feel like yesterday, thoughts, fears, struggles. I surprised myself by how open I was, but the panic bubbled terribly under the surface. I could feel a panic attack building, but I was conscious of upsetting her, so I had to employ all the techniques I could to avoid one. Like for example listening to the outside noises, looking around the room and identifying things in my mind, and sometimes just straight up changing the subject. It felt strange to hear myself verbalise things that go around in my mind all the time. In retrospect it was quite freeing. And I know my friend well enough to know she’s not uncomfortable with anything I talk about.

I think it’s going to get more difficult as the date approaches. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable with the darkness. And I’m paranoid about him finding me online or just general people outside (men), in case they follow me and see I live alone. I always suffer with these things on and off as a normal course of events, but this time of year it’s more consuming and I feel more emotional. No where feels safe. This is a time when I really miss Steve, he knew exactly what I was going through and knew how to help me. He’d listen to me all night if I needed it. But now he simply doesn’t care and I guess feels it’s not his problem. Which is understandable, but sad for me. No one knows the extent of the trauma or how it impacts me. And although it was good to discuss some things with my friend, she or no one else really gets ‘it’ or me. It’s always been such a deeply private thing for me, I’ve always struggled to reach out. That’s why it was good with Steve because he knew, without me having to spell it out. I can’t imagine having that depth of relationship with anyone else. That’s something that’s built over years and experience.

So, next week I’m taking the kids camping. I’ve been to Kmart to get more camping supplies, my boot is full, ready to be unloaded. The kids are actually excited which is nice after Steve took them on such a lavish holiday. I’ve chosen a spot, not too far so if it all goes wrong we can easily head home, and it’s got a river for swimming and BBQs for us to use. And I spoke to the dog woman from today and she’s happy to babysit my dog. So everything is in place, I just need the food shopping!

Obviously it’s occurred to me that I might feel more jumpy or the darkness might bother me more than usual, but I have to be strong for my children, they take priority and I don’t want them to feel scared.

I’m really looking forward to introducing my kids to camping, and getting them away from their devices!

Co parenting and anniversary

I’m acutely aware that February is pressing down on me, the month of the anniversary of the rape. I’ve decided this year not to find out the exact date. As every year I face the same dilemma, to confirm the date or not. Confirming the date hasn’t made any difference and my brain refuses to remember the exact date, so I’m going with my brain’s desire. I saw my CPN today and warned him that February would be difficult, and fortunately I have a psychiatrist appointment on the 26 January so I can get some planning in place mentally. It’s awful because I spend January dreading February, in a state in February and then it ticks over to March.

I can feel myself becoming more emotional, but I refuse to let my fear wear me down. I’ve gotten into good practice walking the dog every night, and I feel much better for reconnecting with my friends, something I plan on keeping up.

I finally saw the kids today and the whole day turned to shit. I waited at Steve’s house as he’d text to say they were going out, then that they’d be late. When they arrived back, J was the only one that talked to me! It’s like I didn’t exist. Steve had bought them bits for their rooms – more stuff I can’t do, and they were engrossed in sorting out their rooms to accomodate the new stuff. I sat on the couch and read a magazine, pretending the whole thing wasn’t hurtful. Next minute, Steve and the girls were playing a card game! I didn’t get asked, there was no consideration of the fact I was there waiting. I just felt crushed. So I announced I was leaving. I just KNEW Steve would text something to either guilt trip me or pass blame and sure enough that text arrived ‘why were you so moody with the kids?’ – I couldn’t even be bothered to get into it. He will never know what it’s like to be left out so frequently.

I came home miserable and opened up a bottle of wine. I rarely drink (especially alone) but I just wanted to unwind and watch some movies. Get rid of this icky feeling. To be honest I still can’t escape how this whole thing has made me feel. But tomorrow Steve is going camping at a friend’s house, so I’m spending the night up there in his kingdom. So who knows? Maybe the kids will notice me? Maybe Steve can lose his reign for the night.