Same old

Maybe day 4 or 5, no showering, same clothes. I’ve given up on life. I’ve certainly given up on myself. No one would believe I used to get my hair done regularly, get my nails done, care about my presentation. I’ve got long dark roots, perpetually greasy, lank hair, crooked nails, and I don’t even know where my make up is. 

I look old, ragged, tired, and I’ve lost my sense of worth. I don’t care how I look and I don’t care how others see me. I have nothing and I am nothing.

S only cares about getting me to sign the house over. So his parents can hold it and then hand it back. He’s sorted for life. And I’m pretty sure he’s seeing someone, he’s on his phone all the time, sneaking out to take calls. It’s like him and I never existed. He doesn’t show any signs of compassion or even regard me as familiar. I’m just an over stayer. I never imagined how much that would hurt. I never thought he could be so cold and callous. I don’t know him at all anymore. And I guess that’s part of the reason I don’t know myself anymore. I used to be life and soul of the party, now I’m pretty much in bed all the time. Forget friends, I haven’t made an effort at all. 

I’d say I’m dead inside but I still have deep feelings of hurt and sadness. 

I don’t know if I’ll get through this. I hope every day that a truck will hit me, or I’ll have a brain aneurysm, just something that will stop this constant misery. I don’t want to hurt my children and I know they’d be devastated, so that’s why I’m not actually doing anything myself. It would be easier if it were out of my control. Every day. I hope something will happen. My funeral would be empty, it’d be process. Because I’m a nothing. A no one. I’ve not made any differences, I’ve not left any marks.

Well, maybe the plane will go down! Not that I wish death on anyone else.

I’m really anxious about my upcoming trip. I’ll miss my children so much. To be so far from them is a scary thought. There’s no ‘jumping on a flight’ in an emergency. It takes 30 odd hours of travel. I’ve never been very far from them before.

I wouldn’t be surprised if S left me there. He can do whatever he likes while I’m out of the picture. And I don’t know him anymore. It’s like he’d slay me with a sword with a smile on his face. I know he’s always thinking and planning, but in his mind, I’m the enemy. Sometimes he’s nice to me, and it’s almost scary. I wonder where the ‘metaphorical’ punch will come. I’m not sure he’s capable of being nice to me out of any sense of residual care for me, the anger, disgust, and disdain boils over too much sometimes for me to know where his true feelings lie.

Anyway, there’s no point keep going on about my sunken marriage I suppose. Perhaps this is normal, when couples separate, feelings change 180 degrees. It just becomes a game to some.

Hopefully England will give me the respite i  need. My parents aren’t particularly sympathetic people and usually blame me for my troubles, I only hope I can push that aside and just be grateful I’m out of NZ for a bit.

Furious – the ugly truth of rape culture 

I was so scared to share my last blog. Fear of shame, humiliation, being judged. I have spent the last few hours considering pulling it. I love to be honest and write my experiences and insight. It’s important to me, to document, to heal. To share.

I anticipated some backlash. But I didn’t anticipate this particular backlash, especially from someone I know.

And I quote (without getting permission)

Anyone in exposed situations is at risk. Doctors have to have someone with them if they are examining a woman. The odd woman will claim assault and there are big payouts if he does not have backup. It is being used by children against teachers etc. Yes there are bad public servants but a lot of innocent people have their lives ruined.

I mean, WTF???

You asked a question and I gave you an answer. There is now a bandwagon of money seekers. That is nothing to do with you or women like you but it is almost becoming a business now.

A business??

If you are an MP it is almost certain that you have carried out an assault at some point. In correcting one area the pendulum swings too far the other way.

Nothing to do with me or women like me??

Rape culture is defined as 

Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.

Men and women have a subconscious or conscious part of this culture – that can be anything from the long held belief that rape is the attack of a young, fully clothed  (no flesh showing), woman being threatened by a knife with mask wielding maniac in an alleyway. It can be the long held belief that as long as a woman doesn’t get drunk, dress a certain way, have too many sexual partners, flirt with a man, walk around at night, to name a few, are somehow part to blame for their attack. It can be people judging the accused, assuming a natural bias towards the accused because they’re white/wealthy/popular/famous/could have any woman they wanted/was known to the woman/volunteered at a homeless shelter/adopted a cat – the list goes on.

Rape culture isn’t bias towards men, women, sexuality, race, age. Anyone can participate in perpetuating the myths that ultimately harm the victim, prevent justice and divide a community.

By someone I know declaring victims out to make money, buying into false allegations propaganda, empathising with the accused’s family, they are indirectly insulting me, my friends and other victims out there.

Let me tell you, I cannot imagine a woman alive going through the harrowing pain, humiliation, degradation of talking about an assault for the sole purpose of making some money. I don’t deny that there *might* be, but I’d think that number is so comparatively small that’s almost obsolete. The onus HAS to be on making women feel safe enough to speak out. To not be condemned, threatened, humiliated and destroyed by a trauma that she didn’t ask for.

Frankly, I haven’t been so disgusted for a long time. Not because someone spoke the words that so many already think, but because it came from someone that knows me and knows the heartache that I’ve been through. Someone that I believed would stand up to rape culture, stand up for women and not buy into this nasty, vicious secondary assault on victims.

Turns out, you really can’t know people. And people can’t really know you.

People may feel comfortable in their ignorant beliefs, content not to face the real fear that women have known for too long. But ignorance provides a blanket for predators to roam freely amongst them.  To go without punishment, to go without fear of consequences. It leaves a victim more afraid, more isolated, silenced and perpeptually ashamed.

I remain appalled at these messages.  I print them here so I can assign blame where it belongs. With the culture that CHOOSES to be blind, CHOOSES the predator over the victim.

I want no part of anyone that is willing to throw myself or other survivors under the bus to make themselves feel better about the world we live in.

Shame. On. You.

Sweethearts and sickness

Its my high school sweet heart’s birthday today.  We’re Facebook friends.  We don’t talk to each other, just the odd ‘like’ on comments.  Way back when, everyone thought him and I would marry.  We ‘dated’ as you do in school, often split up and then made our way back to each other.  We were odd bods, which seemed to intrinsically link us.  Where others saw him as frankly a bit crazy (a candidate for manic depression), I understood his ebbs and flows.  His moods, and his little routines.  And I think in that, he felt safe to be himself with me.  Although he often chased the girls that were known for giving a bit more in the relationship physically, so to speak, he would often seek a respite with me.  Perhaps that’s because I was pretty damn crazy myself! – And as for the all of the politically incorrect statements I’m throwing around, I’m referring to our time in school.  Back then, labels weren’t applied, just observations.  He wasn’t my first kiss, that was DL. A local boy who went to the same first school and then secondary school as me.  I did think I was in love with him at the time.  I remember him dancing with Samantha at a school disco to the Bangles and I cried like a baby in my heart-break.  DL was also a larger than life character, he dabbled in some professional acting, and I believe does some acting now.  But DL and the first love that I refer to, AB, didn’t get along.  Perhaps their ego’s were too big for each other.

DL and I kissed in a cupboard for chairs one summer afternoon in a local village hall.  I was so terrified, but so excited.  We were dared to kiss.  When the kiss happened it felt so forced, I didn’t feel all ‘floaty’ as I would have expected.  I suspect he had kissed a lot of times before me.  I was 13.  I still picture it perfectly.  The room, the chairs, the lingering dust, the warmth of a summer’s afternoon, the other kids daring us.  It makes me smile.  Of all of the boys, DL was a great person to share that moment with.  A cherished fragment in a young life.

I never gave any thought to my first time sexually.  It wasn’t something people talked about.  Even AB chasing the other girls hadn’t considered sex, just even a look or a touch! – that’s his words!

Perhaps in a different world, AB would have been my first time.  Beneath his boyish humour and manic ticks, he was sweet and gentle.  We took many walks around the fields near his house, and not once in all of those times did he try anything.  I always managed to feel safe around him.  Even when he kissed me it never felt like a promise.  Perhaps we were never meant to be more than a dance of what could have been.  Certainly I have no doubt if we had have ended up together, it wouldn’t have lasted.  We both share the same moods and egos.  Both too passionate about our stances to back down.  We would have come to hate each other.  Both of us need someone calm, consistent and patient to counter our imbalance.

But life would have been better had I have chosen the person.  If it was planned.  And not necessarily even like in the movies, with the roses, candles and bed made by the fire.

This morning I went constantly into panic attacks.  My son was sleeping soundly in the bed, so I had to go into the bathroom and try to get a grip.  Then I got back into bed, drifted off to sleep and the same thing happened.  I don’t know what triggered me.  I guess a dream I had.  But clearly a lie in this morning wasn’t going to happen.

Already triggered, I decided to unblock HIM [the rapist] on Facebook and look at his profile.  See if anything significant in his life had happened, make sure we didn’t have any friends linked.  I wouldn’t usually do this, S has always done periodic checks for me, but it’s not his place anymore.  I need to bite the bullet.  Of course with Facebook settings as they are, I couldn’t see much.  Seeing his photos and I felt an odd shut down.  In my mind his image is set to back then.  His mouth, eyes, his demeanour is still clear in my head.  So the photos are hard to place.  I didn’t look for long, I didn’t want the revised image burned into my retinas.  I didn’t want any image to cause me distress.  So I didn’t find anything of interest.  Unfortunately now with Facebook I have to wait 48 hours to block him again.  So I live in fear of him seeking me out, I’m counting down those hours.

Seeing AB’s birthday was a reminder though of some of the better times in my young life.  Some of the possibilities that could have been.  But of course I feel sad, painfully sad for the loss of having a special memory for my first time.

S has decided to extend his stay in Auckland for another week.  So I’m up at the house.  I don’t have time to process any thoughts or feelings, and fighting this mood is difficult as I’m on call all the time.  S has also not left much in the way of funds, which is really stressful for me.  I had arranged for a babysitter to come on Sunday for a couple of hours so I could enjoy the women’s only swim, but I’ve had to cancel that, I can’t afford the babysitter.  I’m a bit annoyed that the one thing I enjoy I can’t do.

 

 

Working out

So, today.  Well, last night there was a dreadful storm in Wellington.  Although its Spring, it’s not unusual to get crazy weather this time of year.  Some parts of NZ snowed, some were flooded, most were bashed by the rain.  We fared well in our suburb.  It was noisy, but no power cuts or damage – thank god.  I had C (my eldest), J Bug middle girl and H, my boy.  S’s parents are in Wellington, so I’m effectively banned from the house.  I wanted to keep my boy with me but the girls also wanted to avoid his parents, hence the numbers at my place.  It was nice actually. I felt sorry for Egg who is with her Dad, but it was her birthday recently so she was bound to get spoilt.  That’s their formula for love and affection you see, they buy it.

Well, today I awoke and I felt low.  Dragging my heels low.  Frankly I could have not got up, but I had to take the kids to school.  I couldn’t face dropping my son off, so I had my daughter walk him into kindy.  It was both his emotional state and my own concerns about facing people.

Once alone, I had organised to meet a personal trainer.  There were going to be a few women there (it was women only).  I had arranged it earlier in the week and as it was locked as an appointment in my phone I didn’t think about it.  Last night she emailed me and I confidently told her I’d be there.  But come this morning, I didn’t want to go.  I felt anxious and I felt stupid.  I felt like I was going to be the only fat person there and I felt like I was going to make a fool of myself.  I felt very tired and didn’t want to move.  Urg, I just didn’t want to go.  But I went.  And then I couldn’t find the place, so I wasn’t going to go.  But I figured one quick drive along a road, and if it wasn’t there, then well, I had tried.  It turned out to be there, but then I couldn’t find the way in.  Oh well, time to call it a day, wasn’t meant to be, blah blah.  It was hailing heavily, it was bitterly cold, there were deep puddles everywhere and now I was late.  But I figured one chance to find a way in, then I’d give up.  I tried. As it happened, I found the way in.  The women stood talking, looking like they knew each other.  All of them slim, all of them happy.  Then was dumpy old me.  The late one.  God, I could have turned around and walked out of there so easily.  I even started thinking of excuses in my head.  Sick child?  Appointment?  Even while I was being introduced to the 3 women by the trainer , I was making up the reasons in my head.

She set us up with a circuit.  Oh great, im going to trip over, or be huffing and puffing and look stupid, or hurt myself.  Everyone would be looking at me.  Whispering.  Why did I even want to do this?  I don’t want to do this, blah blah.  The hour will go so slowly.  I spent to be fair, the first half hour moaning to myself and hating myself.  The second part I guess I got into it.  After, I felt great.  I was so glad I’d stuck at it.  And afterwards I spoke to the trainer and this other woman who had some serious self doubts as she’d lost a lot of weight and then subsequently more weight on – not with this PT of course!  I felt relieved I’d stuck the hour, and my body ached from being used.  I had a protein shake at home and then took the dog for a walk in the freezing hail.  Not very long, but it felt good to be out despite the weather and the dog appreciated it.

After I drop the kids off tomorrow, I’ll head to the pool – I hope!  I see the PT 2x per week.

This afternoon I’m feeling very tired.  admittedly its nice to the have fire roaring and the storm is lashing the house, but I’m cozy and my kids are here just sat around the fire, reading or playing games.

I’m still taking each day as it comes and I know some days will be easier than others.  Right now I just feel like I need to sleep and as I’ve identified before, not having a break makes it a little harder for me.  The kids can be pretty full on, and I’ve not even attempted uni yet, which makes me feel bad.

Its annoying that S’s parents will be here for a few days – if I ever needed confirmation that S and I are separated, aside from him being an asshole most of the time, its his families involvement.  They’ve gone from 0 to involved all at the flick of splashing their cash.

Ah well, my kids aren’t stupid, they’ll know what they’re like themselves the more they get to know them.  My eldest daughter is already fed up with them trying to buy her.

Life continues to plod along.  Can I start to feel better now???

Trigger. Unhappy.

Of course I should have known how this evening would end.  I should have known it the minute I identified my mood was dropping after getting so tired and knowing there wouldn’t be any rest time.

We were up at the house, the kids were being great.  It was a lovely evening with them. They went to bed really well, and I felt nicely relaxed.  However, my mistake was not taking the opportunity and going to bed when I could.  Instead I stayed up watching tv, waiting for S to get back.  Old habits die-hard.

I watched one programme and there was a sexual assault.  Nothing, NOTHING was shown, it was just implied.  I wasn’t triggered by that.  However, the way the perpetrator looked at his victim with such disgust, anger and hatred afterwards me  – shook me to the very core. He looked at her with such repulsion, as though she was shit on his shoe.  I have seen that very look after the brutal intimacy forced on me.  I guess that was very much a piece I hadn’t really processed or considered in any depth.  The way I was made to feel afterwards.  Like it was my fault, any shame I didn’t already feel was imprinted on me forever more.  i felt that shame in that moment, revisited.  My blood felt icy cold in my veins, my heart seemed to struggle to beat to an increased tempo.  I was both lying on the couch in the living room and back then.  I was both in the moment receiving the look, and watching myself.  I felt such a deep despair that even the tears couldn’t release.  I had the incredible urge to hide behind a pillow, curl up in the foetal position, anything, ANYTHING to stop the hurt and the replay searing into my soul.  Should I shower?  Should I scream?  How could I possibly placate this painful mourning.  I flicked the tv to something else, I busied myself with mundane tasks, laundry, trying to find an old necklace, messing around with a make up case.

I suppose I did manage to ride this wave, but clearly the damage was done.  Emotions lay on the surface and the inability to think objectively was hindered.  S got back an hour later.  Fairly drunk, looking dishevelled.  He said he had a good night.  We talked about the kids.  I talked about the plans for the week, who was staying where.  So far, so good right?  Until I asked him to look after the kids one evening because there was something I wanted to check out and he commented, ‘speed dating,’ I asked him why on earth he thought I would do that??  He said I always wanted to date??  I don’t know where that’s from, I don’t know what he thinks of me, but I can’t think of anyone worse right now.  Furthermore, is this the rapport now?  Swapping dating stories??  No, I am still hurt from this separation.  This is the man I’ve spent over a decade with, had children with, why on earth would I want to flippantly discuss dating?  Maybe he feels cavalier about that subject.  Maybe he is dating.  But I wouldn’t want to know.  I didn’t understand why he was trying to hurt me.  Or maybe I was already too upset from earlier.  I lost all impartiality.  I tried to ask why, why would you say that?  Is that really what you think?  He clearly wasn’t in the mood to talk and proceeded to turn off all the lights.  I went into the room with the mattress and tearfully went about taking my nightly meds.  My son was up, and wanted to sleep with his Dad.  But he sent him into me.  A single mattress on the floor just isn’t ideal.  I’ve told S that before, but still he sent him in and I asked my boy to leave.  He got upset, rejected, and perhaps because he knew I was emotional and he was tired and he started to cry, big fat drops of tears, and I felt like a bitch.  And S just shut his bedroom door, no doubt to fall fast asleep in a drunken stupor.  And I felt like my duty was done.  Kids were cared for, laundry is done.  And with no rest for myself I looked at my son and the mattress and said, no.  We’re going to MY house.

My home is becoming my safe space.  I have it looking really bright and cheerful and homely.  My only issue is the bloody neighbours.  Here I sleep in my comfy big bed, in a spacious room with all of my things around.  And here my son can sleep quite happily next to me.

My kids love it here, despite the neighbours.  And if I end up moving when the lease is over, I know I’ll make the next place my home.  Because I put time and effort and care into my home.  And its welcoming, and the kids know that.

But how can the house be my home?  When S seems to think we’re frat brothers!

If he wants to go out drinking and dating, then good on him.  For me, I care about my children first, my wellbeing and trying to meet my personal objectives – study and getting fit and healthy again.

As for this trigger this evening, I intend to think about it some more – when my son is at school and grieve for the child turned into a woman before she was ready.  Because GOD DAMN IT, I deserve to acknowledge that.

Pool

Today was a ‘good’ day – well, so far!  I didn’t get to sleep until very late, and I felt really anxious about going back to uni.  I felt sluggish from the medication, tired from lack of sleep and picturing going to the city caused me strong physical feelings of panic.  I considered how I might deal to that, such as taking the car.  But parking is really hard to find, so I envisioned being parked too far away and then walking amongst the hoards of students to get to my lectures.  Walking into each lecture feeling short of breath and sweaty and everyone staring at me.  Wondering what this old bugger was up to.  It didn’t matter what scenario I pictured, I always felt anxious and panicky.  You wouldn’t know it to look at me.  You wouldn’t think I was scared of being around students, dreading the journey in, and feeling the heavy tug of medications pulling me back into bed.

I dropped the kids off at their respective schools.  And considered where I might go from there.  In the end I decided to go to the pool.  I do love water and I enjoy swimming and its good for me, so why not?  A week day means no kids, and it was quiet enough with lanes available.  I knew I didn’t have to engage with anyone.  Swimming is a solitary form of fitness and that is what I needed.  Plus I wasn’t sure of my own capabilities.  At least if I reached a limit, I’d feel like at least I had achieved something.  After 30 mins, I didn’t want to be immobile from tiredness, so I headed to the spa.  The bubbling heat felt great on my body and I started talking to two older women.  They told me about their walking group, they meet every Monday and walk as far as anyone is willing.  Its been set up for people with injuries, people who aren’t very social, and/or people with mental health issues.  That  is, it’s a friendly group of mixed individuals that benefit from being motivated to go walking.  Apparently they also offer a gym programme and swimming clubs.  It was a strange coincidence to run into them – or rather float into them.  This sounds like something I might be able to do.  A gentle introduction to a healthy work out plan that offers some level of social interaction.I met the coordinator who was also based at the pool and learnt that simply by joining (for free) I’d get substantial discounts off of the pool! – What a find!

I’m glad that I pushed myself to go swimming my body aches nicely from being pushed.  I’m so pleased that because of that I met these women that introduced me to the group – if nothing else, I get a discount off pool entrance.

It just after lunch time and I feel very tired and its strange because as the tiredness seeps in, I am feeling more emotional.  It’s clear that not sleeping well is a teal trigger for me.  I had sat down with a cup of coffee to watch some mindless tv, but my second eldest daughter’s school phoned, she has a tummy bug.  So I rushed out to get her and decided to get my son as well.

This evening S is out late, so I’m up at the house with the kids.  I’ll be glad for the quiet to be honest.  My neighbours are already annoying me, the clanging of beer bottles and the music has started already.

My other daughter’s blood tests are back tomorrow, so I won’t be able to go to uni tomorrow as I’m driving her around.  But that’s OK, I’ll choose one lecture for Thursday and Friday to attend, one hour each day as a gradual build up.  Hopefully I can get back into a rhythm.

I’d just like to state again – I WENT TO THE POOL!

My chapter ‘what ifs’

I’m currently reading ‘Asking For It,’ by Louise O’Neill.  Its been a long time since I read a book with this subject matter (rape and subsequent suicidal thoughts).  I cant remember what made me pick this book on my Kindle, I’d read about it somewhere.  The book sees our protagonist, Emma, raped after a party where she took drugs and drank a lot.  She is 18, and the setting is Ireland.  The consequence to the rape is her repetitive thoughts of shame, self blaming and self hate.  And the small Irish town divided between her and the boys involved, as well as the subsequent trial.  The author has captured her jumbled and repitive thoughts extremely well, as well as the protagonist observing her family falling apart and blaming herself.  Her inability to use the word rape and her suicide attempts. With this level of insight, I can only assume the author did extensive research, or was a victim herself.  I have never read such an accurate portrayal of life after rape in the guise of a story.

Anyway, this blog post isn’t a book review.  I have only referred to the book as a premise.  I always find myself thinking about the way things should have been dealt with after my rape.  I can list the ideals in number and often do mentally.  This book reminds me of my contrast list of wishes if you like, and I can identify where it all went wrong.  So for the first time ever, I will write my list here.  My main objective is to bring it out into the open.  A document of things that should have been done, and if its useful to anyone else, than that is a bonus.

1, My friend at the time wasn’t equipped to recognise what happened, so I don’t blame her for that but she did have the knowledge to take me to a clinic – that’s a relief or else I may very well of had a child, as I certainly didn’t know about these thngs.The clinic should have discussed things with me in detail, recognised my state of shock and if I refused a medical exam (it wasn’t given at the time), given me the options available at a later date.  As I was under age, the proper authorities should have been notified, at least then I would have stood a chance of bringing charges forward sooner.

2, my parents should have confronted me about my behaviour.  Clearly something serious had happened (they later confessed in my last stint in the UK that they ‘had a feeling’ and my bed wetting and night terrors could have been helped.

3, my first suicide attempt.  No one really talked to me about it or addressed the issues.  Although family counselling was ‘forced’ on us – which my parents were none to happy about.  I should have had a safe place to communicate, but I felt like an inconvenience.

4, I was never talked to about rape, sexual violence or STIs, why??  Even I couldn’t identify what had happened was wrong.  I just had a ‘sense’ of it not being right.  Why wasn’t this mentioned?

5, moving forward, to the medical involvement, when I sought help.  Why wasn’t my testing reported to the police?  I was referred to an in-house counsellor that told me on my first visit she could understand why I was so upset, she likened my virginity to the time she lost a necklace that her Mother had given her and tried to hug me.

6, The signs were everywhere.  My behaviours at school,  self harming, nightmares, constant UTIs, why didn’t anyone address these issues?

7, the things I needed to hear: 

it wasn’t your fault, I believe you, you have been raped and you need medical attention, you may not want the police involved but now, but if you want to later it would be easier, you didn’t ask for it, you need a specialist counsellor – I will take you, it’s up to you whether you continue seeing her or not, you are grieving – take all the time you need, you will get through this, you’re not alone.

8, the police investigation came years later when we went back to the UK.  I wish there had been better practices in place, and more experienced officers.  I felt like I had to micromanage the whole thing.  Ultimately it led to a breakdown.

There is no right or perfect response to rape.  I could have had all of the above and still felt the terrible despair and self loathing.  But its identifying what could have helped that gives to discussion, that leads to openness and better support for people who need it.

I am scarred irreparably by the act and the subsequent lack of care.  2 decades on and I’m still fighting the aftermath.  The only solace I find is that my life isn’t a book that has ended.  I am still writing the chapters, and I hope that as my own protagonist in my book, I find the peace I so desperately need.