The email

To my counsellor

The MRI was as panic inducing as I expected. In fact I anticipated a seizure as a result of the huge stress on my body. Had it not been for  a friend holding my hand – I couldn’t have done it. The hole was so small and the noise just terrifying. But I am relieved it’s done. I’m also relieved that I didn’t have a seizure – this is surely a positive sign?

I heard on Friday night that the cop in England was found guilty. He will have a record and be unable to work for any police force, corrections, security type roles.

I’m still struggling with it. The guilty thing was decided which indicates he was in the wrong and I feel vindicated. Yet another part of me thinks that he is so less worse then the rapist. He was only ever nice to me – even when he was commanding. He manipulated me in such a way that he made me feel safe, even when he made me feel ashamed and dirty. How can that be? I hoped that Steve might see the ‘affair’ in a different light, that is, there was no black and white. But he has moved on/no longer cares. This outcome is something you and I need to discuss in more detail. Also, the investigating officer is calling me on Tuesday night to explain in detail what it all means and in her words ‘to ensure I have good support in place.’

It’s certainly been a roller coaster of emotions. The betrayal of good friends, the stress of the MRI, the results of the investigation and also learning that Steve is not and cannot be my ‘go to person’

Yet I still learn nothing. Today (Saturday) I longed for my family, for my role as mother and yes I admit I longed for a partner to bear part of my burden. I didn’t consider my fragile emotional/mental state. Instead ploughing on with my expectations.

My eldest C had horse riding and my other children wanted to go roller skating. I was happy to take C and then meet Steve and the kids at roller skating. I longed for the ‘normal’ family outing. Instead the complete opposite happened – as I’m sure you could have predicted. C fell off her horse, once I knew she wasn’t hurt I began a tirade of vitriol towards the horse she was on. My daughter was upset by my comments. She told me I ruined good things for her and that’s why she didn’t like me taking her horse riding. What could I say to that? I have let my own daughter down with my anger.

I was angry because I was scared for her. I couldn’t catch her, I couldn’t save her, so instead I placed all of my powerlessness at the horse. Plus the fact the damn horse did cause my daughter to fall!

So we drove on to roller skating. Her, refusing to talk to me. When we arrived H wanted to skate but my fears clawed at me straight away, the roller skates weren’t made especially for young children, there was no helmet, no pads! My little boy would be vulnerable. I think by this stage Steve saw me as a total nuisance.

I wasn’t needed. I was just a taxi, this was Steve’s show and I was encroaching. I didn’t belong.

Why did I have these ridiculous expectations? Why can’t I learn? This is not my family anymore. We’re not a unit. I am mother on my time, nothing more.

My friend S has continually been by my side, trying to keep me focussed on reality – I cannot appreciate her enough.

I left the skating ring. I didn’t want to physically turn away from my children, but I realised that this wasn’t my place. They had Steve and he was more than enough.

I got some wine and lie miserably on my couch. Images of England and what happened barking at my heels, my hidden fears about my health, the sense of loneliness and the pain. Reality fucking hurts.

The positive things to come out of this is that as we discussed I have taken some control over my death (if that was happen). I sat and wrote everything out. My wishes, the practical aspects, access codes. I saved it as a draft email. I won’t send until I’ve completed my letters to the children. But I know I have at least made things easier and there is less to worry about. In doing this I realised all of my outgoings, so I’ve had to face up to this and make some serious changes.

The week about starts next week as Steve isn’t travelling. I’m deeply saddened that it’s come to this. I grieve again for the home I’ve lost and the sense of partnership I imagined for myself. But I realise I can’t emotionally sever ties until I start removing myself from ties.

Tonight I feel a sense of relief that the week is all but over. I’m so grateful to the friends I’ve come to realise are true and can reach out too. But I’m so sad, so lonely and so fed up with myself (more than Steve is – which is saying something!).

I felt so much lighter after our last session and wanted to get down everything that’s happened to make some sense of it. To fill you in and get your much appreciated feedback.

If I don’t hear from you tonight (and that’s ok!) I’ll see you tomorrow,

Much love

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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.

Traction

I. Am. So. Tired! Brain and heart drained today. But I think it’s a good thing.

Firstly I saw Ian, my friendly CPN, he checked to make sure I have plans for tomorrow (I do) and had printed off a bunch of information on anniversaries and people with PTSD. Very nice of him indeed.

Then I stopped at a bakery (I never do) and had a strawberry milkshake and a cream doughnut! Naughty but delicious.

Then I met my new counsellor, and I had no initial warning instincts about her. She seemed very genuine and I liked her honesty. But she was compassionate as well, unlike Clipboard. Apparently she teaches in part from a Buddhist philosophy, which works for me. She was also into primates and our primal instincts. She also carried a satchel, so that’s my name for her. Satchel.

Satchel and I chatted only briefly about my past (I’ve learnt my lesson there!), but she helped me identify my monkey brain…ok this all gets a bit weird so I’ll leave it there, but it made sense to me anyway. I certainly felt calmer when I left.

Then I had a brief reprieve before picking up my kids at all their different schools. They were all hot and tired and about ready for the weekend – they must be working really hard at school!

Next Steve came over and like a tag team, he took over as I took off. I saw my GP for the FORTH time to get this bloody medical certificate for the benefits office. I’ll be dropping that off tomorrow.

Then on I went to the ‘widowed, divorced, separated’ group that I started last week. I was already a bit raw from therapy so I was surprised when I spoke up (last time I avoided it) and even let go of some emotion. I hope I’m on the right path to grieving and healing. I literally can’t do anything else.

Now I’m back at my dark and lonely house, missing the kids, missing the big house and it’s peace and serenity. It’s Valentine’s Day and I haven’t had anything. Nada. So it’s tempting to just throw in the towel. But I really felt I gained some traction today, and I haven’t felt like that in a long time.

Tomorrow I’m spending the day with my beautiful, warm mate that’s been an absolute god send through these really rough times. I know I’ll feel safe and respected with her. I’m very lucky.

Counselling fail

My counsellor, whom I’m going to name ‘Clipboard’ because of her constant use of the biggest one I’ve ever seen, is a nightmare. I’ve had three sessions now and I can definitively say, it ain’t working Clipboard.

About 30 minutes of our session was her having a go at me for not practicing the breathing exercises she taught me on our last session. She went on about the benefits of it and basically said, I can’t help you if you’re not going to help yourself. Bit harsh over some deep breathing!

Then I told her I was up all night last night, terrified that someone was breaking in. Firstly she reiterated the deep breathing stuff, then she went on to say, as opposed to lying in your bed scared, get up and check the house. (Admittedly I got used to Steve doing that when we were together). She told me if I felt uneasy I should just call the police. I said I didn’t want to call the emergency line over every little noise I heard. She told me that’s what they’re there for. They’re probably twiddling their thumbs waiting for a job, and if it’s just a cat or something they can let you know and you’ll feel better.

So on the basis of her advice, I’m to walk around my house deep breathing (god forbid I forget that) and call the cops if I hear a noise.

I realised at this point our relationship- it was doomed.

I’m feeling particularly vulnerable around this time and she did nothing to soothe that, she made reference to it being just like any other date, but that was it. I sat there wishing I’d stayed in bed and got a few extra hours.

The benefits office was a nightmare in itself. As usual I was made to feel like absolute scum. And then I was told I had the wrong medical certificate- this is the FOURTH time. But they take no accountability for the misinformation and the fact I have to pay to see my dr again for a revised form. So I’m off to the GP on Wednesday, right before my ‘singles course’ which will be stressful.

I’ll be glad when this week is over.

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.

Course

This evening I’m starting a course on how to move on after a marriage has broken down, or a person is widowed. My friends have been pushing me to attend this sort of thing as I’ve not been ready to move on. The timing is pretty bad, I’m trying to work through my past and hold onto my sanity. Maybe this will be the distraction I need?

I’m incredibly nervous. I was already making excuses to not go and then I was happy when the babysitter cancelled due to injury. But our regular babysitter has offered, despite having only just had a baby! So it’s back on! I’m going!

I can never tell when I’m taking too much on, until I basically break down. But I hope this will be a positive experience. A helpful experience.

I’m definitely not ready to date, and it’s not that sort of group. I just want to learn more about becoming my own person again.

I’m staying at Steve’s again, he’s away. It’s quite handy, Ive insect bombed my house. I hate all creepy crawlies so this will take care of them. And I think some bugs have set up home after following us back from camping. There’s something quite cathartic about setting off a bomb and walking away. (Insect bomb of course).

It’s nice to be at the house, safer. And more space.

Be interesting to see how this evening goes and tomorrow I’m catching up with my CPN.