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!

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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.

The client

Today I met a client that seemed to read me like a book. She sensed my uncertainty and pounced on it. When I asked her anything she cried and wouldn’t answer, but her tears were very short lived. She doesn’t want an advocate – by her own admission, she wants a support person. As the story unfolded what she essentially wants is a taxi service to drive her around. Although it’s not my place to make those judgments, I just write the paperwork. The thing that got to me was in amongst her aches and pains she confided she had been raped. It sounded like a disclosure. She started to cry. I’m not good at hiding my feelings. I blanched, I know I did, she caught it. So she seemed to get graphic. I struggled to keep my composure, lots of things whirring through my head. The next minute she was up showing me her paintings. Then she picked up her bag and requested I drive her to the shops (which is not something we do). I was so taken aback by the whole thing I didn’t object. The woman isn’t under the mental health act, so there’s no illness. I felt well and truly manipulated. Which is not uncommon in this sort of job. I duly dropped her off and then drove back to the office in tears. I felt really angry with myself for losing control in the meeting, for being triggered, for letting my past get in the way. This woman’s story may or may not have been true, but I should have controlled the meeting better. She took control and walked all over me. I feel like such an idiot.

Fortunately I have counselling tomorrow so I can go over it then. I need to learn to manage my triggers.

The rest of the day was fairly nondescript. I went back to the Ward, which used to be my trigger, or at least triggered me the first time I went, but now I’m in and out and don’t think anything of it. The client I was seeing there was just arriving the same time as me in the back of a police car, and I thought, yep, here we go! At least this job isn’t predictable!

My daughter has twisted her ankle (my 11 year old) which is a common occurrence with her. She is hell bent on having crutches- I have no idea why. So every so often we go through this bloody thing of her twisting her ankle and saying she can’t walk and needs crutches. Then we feel like horrible parents making her keep walking. This time however, she has completely put her foot down, or not, as the case may be. She’s adamant she’s really hurt herself. Her father definitely wouldn’t put up with it, but I’ve decided on this occasion to take her to the GP. Just in case. Most likely response is he’ll say she’s sprained it and to rest it where possible. No crutches. No time off school. No bandages (which she also loves). It’s a really frustrating situation. We all know the story about the boy that cried wolf. I’ll never know when/if she’s truly injured unless she’s got a bone jutting out somewhere.

Tomorrow is Egg’s birthday. She’s insisted that I join in the birthday dinner, much to Steve’s chagrin. He has no choice, so it’s a family affair. A couple of hours of being civil. I’ll have to try and not make my passive aggressive comments.

Visual representation in therapy

My therapist today told me that I’ve worked incredibly hard, particularly over the last few months and I’ve achieved a lot. The way I talk about things is different. And she sees us moving forward onto the ‘next level’ of things. I didn’t understand what any of this meant and asked her what that might look like. She actually did a visual representation for me which was really helpful and unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

She took a bunch of toys and books from the box and laid them out on the floor in different spots. Each item represented some aspect of my life. The abuse I’ve experienced, Steve, the kids, my home, my job, my friends. She showed me how it was all a jumble when I started counselling. But things have separated and I no longer mix them all up. She showed what things are my priority (kids) how my home has moved closer to me (it feels more like home) and how my past has less power over me. How my friends are of great value to me, and how, despite a Baptism by fire, I have continued to stick it out with my job – and who knows where that might lead for me in terms of a career. Seeing my life laid out in an external format was really enlightening. I couldn’t identify the emotional connections, but I know I felt some contentment that it wasn’t as overwhelming as I always think of my life to be. My therapist explained that I would, in my own time, work through the different dynamics and discover new feelings, identify things I hadn’t worked through or considered before. Carefully unraveling layers, but ultimately consolidating foundations with the ultimate goal of becoming stronger, more aware, healing.

I’d really like to be handed a manual and told exactly what the processes are and rush through to the end. I find all this work very painful and often wonder if I’ll ever truly be at peace. But I guess I just have to trust the process.

This session certainly wasn’t like last session which was incredibly intense and I felt the pain for days. I didn’t think I’d stop hurting but obviously I did because at some point normal life resumed. The weekend was pretty tough but that’s because the kids didn’t want to stay with me so I was pretty gutted. I felt the familiar tug to wallow in bed the whole time; and I pretty much did. But on Sunday I went out to watch a movie – The Wife. I enjoyed it immensely. I like watching movies alone. I cried during the movie, it was really just an excuse to release some emotions.

I’ve had the kids the last couple of nights and I feel so much better for it. And Steve is away for most of next week, so I’m looking forward to next week with them. Time with the kids means everything to me – even though they’re messy and noisy! They make my house a home, they’re my whole world.

I feel a bit numb from this afternoon. I tend to after a therapy session, unless it’s been particularly intense, in which case it’s harder to control, I have to seal it off as I’m looking after the kids. But I’ll be thinking about that visual representation a lot. I can move things around in my head and think about what issues are requiring my attention sooner.

Pain

Yesterday was really tough.

I had a really intense therapy session. I knew I’d been feeling sad, but I’d not been able to really let myself ‘feel’ it which I’ve learnt is integral to healing. I told my counsellor what I’d felt, but I never expected the depth at which it came flowing. I uncovered so much that I’ve not said before. I felt really ripped raw. Don’t get me wrong, although it was incredibly painful, I knew it was incredibly powerful. I could have curled up right there and sobbed the night away. I had unpicked a scab and the pain was unbearable. But the tears flowed freely. The pain was being released that had been trapped inside.

When I left I felt raw, but I was going to Steve’s as he was away and I was looking forward to spending time with the kids. It was my focus. I called him on the way back and asked him where he was, no reason it was just by chance, this turned into a saga in which it was pretty clear he was lying. He back peddled, lied, stumbled and fucked his way through an awkward conversation in which I sounded like a paranoid insecure wife and he sounded like lying, cheating scum caught out. Of course, he’s not cheating – we’re not together anymore. And I’m not his wife. But my god, it was like a white hot knife to the heart. I’ve had my suspicions with his travel but this has just confirmed it. And the bumbling lying has just made it a hundred times worse. I knew it was inevitable, I’m not an idiot, I knew he wouldn’t stay single forever. I just didn’t expect to find out this way – although any way would have hurt to be honest. It really felt like salt to a tender wound. I broke down and cried more. The kids of course saw this. But I was tired, and I couldn’t hide my sadness. I explained I was sad with their dad. We hugged and moved on. Although of course at night while they slept I sobbed quietly. All the pain of the day washing over me.

Today I put my game face on for work, but alone I’ve felt the tears welling. I’ve felt tired and at times numb. The temptation to crawl into bed overwhelming but somehow I’ve managed to plod on.

I feel I’ve reached yet another junction in my life where I can either choose to give in or drag myself together and keep going. Things never seem to happen at once for me, or I never seem able to coast. I always feel like I’m surviving.

I feel sick about everything from yesterday. The feelings I experienced from the past, my ex husband moving on with another woman and blatantly lying about it. I just have to hope that the pay off is that I get stronger from this.

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

?

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.