Lies (the result of grooming).

Do you ever lie to yourself, therefore to other people too? Do we all do it? I know it’s something I have done for many years. Partly because I was groomed to lie about what was going on and even to lie to myself about what I felt. It was also because I and everyone else couldn’t handle the truth. Lies were my friend. It became difficult to know the lie from the truth. I was tangled in lies for years.. until I began to unpick it all 2.5 years ago as I entered therapy.

Since then, I have not only learned the truth but also how to continually analyse my behaviour and things I have said, to ensure those lies that remain, are confronted or at the very least noticed, ready for processing later.

I hate that I have anything left in my behaviour that is a result of grooming, it makes me feel like he still has his hands on my life, moulding and shaping me when I dare to let my guard down and don’t continually fight.

Last night, it was pointed out to me that my automatic guilt response is part of grooming, it wasn’t news to me, in fact I have previously discussed it with this person, but it jolted something inside of me.

While I have made huge leaps and bounds in letting go of guilt, I know that guilt is still a go to response whenever I cannot easily explain my feelings, or make sense of something that was done to me. I know it and I will continue to work on changing that. However, it isn’t the only way I still have his grooming as part of me. As above, those lies I needed for so long, well, they remain. Not to the same extent, but they are still there. Like the guilt and even shame, they are a go to response when things are too hard or simply, because I am afraid.

Sometimes, it is when I just cannot handle what is going on. For example, I automatically lie about anniversary dates. This goes deep, I am not simply lying to those around me, I am fooling myself to such an extent, that I fully believe it. I hate lying, but when I don’t know I am doing it, until my mind allows me to, or until I have the chance to fully analyse and process what is going on, how am I supposed to know?

I am trying hard to spot the signs and my T is getting better at calling me out on it. Recently I haven’t been able to lie to myself about up and coming anniversary dates for more than a short time, before either I notice or my T pulls it out of me. Progress, I hope?

Last night, I didn’t sleep too well, tossing and turning as I realised that I had lied to myself and those around me for the last few days. Except it wasn’t about things being too much to handle, because actually the one truth in all this, is things are a little better than they have been. I have finally put away that awful flashback a few weeks ago.. but yet, I lied. I didn’t know it as I was doing it, I didn’t realise until I began to analyse that jolt mentioned above.

The reason for this lie is because of other people. It is about my worry and fear of upsetting/ angering or pushing them away. Again, a groomed response, not only from my abuser but from all the times I was left feeling alone, rejected and abandoned. For years, and I know I am not alone here, I have pretended to be OK, for the sake of other people, as well as myself.

We all do it to some extent, where we automatically say we are OK or fine, for fear of upsetting others. I don’t want that. I feel what I feel, I am who I am and I do not want to change that in order to protect other people. If they cannot handle it, that is their issue not mine. I guess, I am not quite there in putting it in to practice. I am still reacting as I used to, I am lying about how hard things are to myself and to other people.

I know I’ve suffered a lot since October and I know it cannot be easy for those around me. So when PTSD symptoms began to improve a little, somewhere inside, I began to lie to myself again. I told myself that actually, those symptoms have gone and that other than these new feelings (which are progress, therefore allowed and good- if that makes sense), I am fine. I suppose subconsciously I have been so fearful of further abandonment, that it was just automatic to lie to myself again, so I could then lie to those around me.

 

The symptoms haven’t gone, I have had nightmares every night this week. Awful dreams of being trapped back there and last night every time I fell asleep, rape was waiting for me. And now I am being honest with myself, I am struggling to shake that dream right now. Yesterday I had the most sickening flashback, that I had to ignore, because I am so ashamed of what that memory is to even allow it more than a moment in my thoughts…But because I’d been sleeping better in general and the flashbacks haven’t been as debilitating as a month ago, it was easier to fool myself into believing that I was doing OK. And I wanted to fool myself, because I wanted to be OK – at least aside from these new feelings (which is a whole other post) and I wanted others to believe it. Because, well it’s Christmas and because I don’t want to annoy people or cause them to be frustrated enough with me that they walk away.

It isn’t my fault, it is because of the grooming and it is because I have always had to gauge the reactions and feelings of others and what is going on for them, before responding.And that is partly because I put others before myself but also because I had to become used to reading others feelings and predicting their behaviour in order to protect myself. An abuser who was like a bomb waiting to go off, other people who switched between anger and being nice to me. I had to protect myself from them…

And this lying right now is just that, it is about protecting myself, but not because the symptoms are too much for me to handle, but instead protecting myself from the reaction and possible rejection of others. It is something I no longer need, but I have done it for so long, I guess it’s understandable that it is so automatic for me.

This isn’t something I want, because somewhere inside, I am past this. Past the fear, past the needing to react and respond in a way that will ensure others like me and want to be around me. Part of me has already changed and is strong enough and therefore ready to be real with myself. I guess, I am just not all the way there yet.

It’s a bit of a blow to me this morning, to realise that these things are still there, but equally, I feel relief to admit the truth to myself. The PTSD has improved some, as I feel more, the symptoms always improve, however, I am not symptom free and I am not OK.

 

Learning to be Me.

I think there are big changes for me on the horizon. I should be used to it, two and half years of therapy and I am no stranger to change. I am apprehensive though at the changes that I feel are coming my way.

I am trying not to get too ahead of myself, because the reason things are changing is down to finally feeling things that I could not before. My head and my heart are all over the place. I cannot trust my emotions, I cannot control my reactions to my feelings. I am highly emotional, whether it be from joy or pain.

Along with all the emotional stuff, I am finding myself feeling increasingly dissatisfied with things that were once so familiar and so necessary for me to function. I am frustrated with aspects of my life that once brought me at least some level of contentment. Things that used to help now seem to hold me back, as if they are stunting my growth. I have this desperate yearning to be me and let others see me, but at the same time I have a great and very real fear of doing so.

 

My job is probably the most frustrating thing for me right now. My employer particularly. I am seeing things in him that I dislike immensely. Where I once considered him a friend, I cannot be any longer. It’s not just him, I have always been so good at my job, partly because of my organisational skills and partly, because I have always cared about the results of my work. That has changed, I just don’t care any longer. Looking back, it has been building to this, weeks here and there where I struggled to find anything left in myself that I could give to my job. Weeks where I was so traumatised, I just didn’t see how my job could matter.

Now, my work seems so superficial. In the grand scheme of things, it seems not to matter at all. I’ve seen too much suffering in a world many people ignore even exists. Going into an office and stressing about deadlines and whether a client is happy, just seems pointless. People are hurting, dying, being abused, grieving, homeless and I just don’t know how to care anymore about a job that means so little. I cannot deny or suppress or pretend that those things don’t happen. I cannot pretend to care about something that now means so little to me.

 

I feel- so much.. and I think this is only the beginning.

My T said it’s OK to feel a little at a time. It’s OK to face these new and frankly overwhelming feelings, as I can handle them. It’s OK to allow myself time to get used to the way I feel, to allow time to establish new boundaries with myself and other people.

If that is what I am doing and this is just a little of feeling, I am extremely nervous as to what it will be like when I am no longer holding back.

 

The depths of feelings I am beginning and will need to feel, should never be felt by anyone. It’s funny, I always wanted to be the same as everyone else, I was desperate not to be the victim any longer. I wanted to be “normal”. I wanted to fit in. And now that has changed because trying to be “normal” would be trying to be someone I am not. It is not about accepting a victim status or allowing my past to define me.  Nor is it about wanting special treatment, sympathy or allowances made for me. Instead, it’s just simply being real with myself and other people. Anything else is denying myself and denying my past.. I have seen hell, I have lived it.. and I don’t care if you read this and think I am exaggerating or wanting attention.. because it is truth. It is my truth.

I never wanted “my story” to define me, I didn’t want to carry it with me always. I saw therapy as processing trauma and then shutting the door on it forever. I saw my past as something that was infecting my life and part of my journey was about seeking the antidote. I am not any longer.  Instead, part of the vision I have, is about finding a way to feel peace within myself while simultaneously allowing the door to my past to remain open. It is about accepting those parts of me that have changed forever because of of the abuse.

I am not a victim, but I will not deny that I once was. I will not pretend it didn’t happen and that it doesn’t affect me. I am who I am, because of the way I survived an impossible and horrific situation. I am on my way to learning to be proud of that.

Who I am, no longer fits completely with the life I’ve lead over the last decade or so. Things have been changing slowly, but I think I am realising that it isn’t enough. I need to be me, free to feel and think and express myself. I need to be around people who will allow that. I need a purpose, a career that matters and means something and that meets a real need. While I am increasingly frustrated with things right now, I know it isn’t the time to make any big decisions or to implement changes all at once. How then, do I subdue this yearning? How do I continue in my job?

 

I am getting pretty desperate for my break over Christmas, not from therapy, but from work and other situations where I still feel I have to hide myself. Home is the only place I can really be me, it is the only place that brings me a feeling of contentment and any sense of peace.

I long for the day where I find the courage to find that in all aspects of my life, I cannot wait to truly be me.

 

Feelings and Change.

The more I come to understand about my past, the more I realise just how bad and big it all was and is. The closer I come to accepting just how terrible it was, the greater the fear that I will be left alone with it. Not out of irrational, paranoid fear, not even because it has happened before, instead it is because I see just how difficult it must be to support me.

Abuse that went on for so long, with many incidents of brutality and torture is something that scars a person. That person cannot be the same again. That person carries those things every single day. And the journey to healing and peace is a rough one. Supporting someone like that must take its toll. It must be exhausting mentally and physically. 

I am that person, who has so much baggage and fear and pain. To sit with, to listen and to witness that hurt and anger must be draining.  To hear those awful details of abuse, I know must be very painful. It is difficult to know that caring for me can be painful.

My T gently suggested that as I continue to learn what it is to feel, I will understand that loving and caring for people is painful, it cannot be avoided. Loving and caring for people means opening your heart to their pain and fear, but also to their happiness and joy.  That made me think.. and is something I need to explore some more.

 

Yesterday as we reflected on the magnitude of abuse, my T said that one incidence of rape was too many. He is right, one was too much. Once would have been enough to break me. I was raped more times than I can count. And not just rape, the control and fear, loneliness, rejection.. all during important growing years. I cannot undo all of that,  I cannot simply erase the impact it has had on me. I am scarred, I will always be scarred. 

I see how difficult it is to support me through my ongoing struggles and pain. Not only difficult to watch, but it must be so tiring to see that when one issue is dealt with, it is replaced by another. How can I expect or ask anyone to support me? Have I been selfish?

The last two nights I have been dreaming about just that- those I trust who cannot take it anymore. I wake up sad, lonely but not angry, because how could I blame them if it were true?

In my dream the other night, I was asleep and woke to a text message from my best friend, who told me that he is too ill to be there for me any longer. A Facebook message from my brother telling me it is too difficult to know about the abuse and what it is still doing to me now. An email from my Minister and friend telling me he couldn’t continue to support me through this because of the time it consumes and the pain it causes. And a voicemail from my T telling me he cannot see me anymore. In this dream, I turned to my husband who then told me he was leaving because he couldn’t handle that I’d been raped so many times. Horrible dream that has lingered. 

I know, that all those supporting me wouldn’t suddenly leave me-they’ve seen the severity of abuse all along. They are good people and they care about me- I see that. This is big though, HUGE and I know it’s a lot to ask people to be there for me. Particularly as I come to understand just how special those people are. The majority I come across do not have the capacity nor do they want to have the capacity to understand my struggles. 

I talked with my T about how I am changing and we reflected on how boundaries with others have had to change to accommodate my progress. We talked of the possibility and even necessity of having to change those environments that won’t allow me to me. That was such a relief as I realised that I cannot change others and I am not willing to pretend or hide myself any longer to suit those people and situations. It’s OK to feel uncomfortable and hurt and afraid, it’s OK to want to be around people who are understanding.  It’s OK to want to surround myself with those who will allow me to be me, without me having to hide the scars from my abuse. 

I do fear that those people already there for me, will one day have enough and leave, but at the same time, I know I cannot predict the future. Instead I can be grateful for what I have now, knowing that our paths cross with different people throughout our lives, some people stay, others leave. It is not something I can control. All I can do is continue to be me, and those that can and want to accept it, get the invitation to stay if they wish. I cannot control anyone’s actions but mine. I cannot continue to pretend to be someone I am not, or hide who I am and my past, just to ensure I won’t be alone. If people want to leave because they cannot handle me, then so be it. They are the ones who will miss out on the love and light that I know I can offer. 

So yeah, I’m insecure and full of new fears of abandonment, but that’s OK, fears always come with change and I am changing for the better. I have a sense of clarity this morning.

Look out world, here I come.

 

Ten years

Ten years since it ended. Ten years since I reported him
Ten years since he finally left me alone. Ten years since I broke free from that control
Ten years since I last saw him. Ten years of finally being safe.

And that is truly amazing. Isn’t it?
Thanks to a chat with a good friend this week, I am looking at it differently now. I see this anniversary in a new light. I got out! Me, I did it! I finally see that now. It changes so much, or at least it will in time. Fears of my safety, fear of him, fear that he could do it again- all that stuff that can paralyse me sometmes- that could finally go away!!

I cannot go into why or how, or what right now. Because it’s not just 10 years since I’ve been safe, it’s also the anniverary this month of the last time I was raped. Ten years ago he ignored my pleas and he did exactly what he wanted. Ten years ago he overpowered me. Ten years ago he violated me… again. :(
It is a little different from the others. With all the other rapes I have disclosed, my T has been the first to hear the details. Each and every time telling my T has been the first time I have spoken the words aloud. This rape, ten years ago, I reported to the Police. Two plain clothes Police officers listened and encouraged me to describe what he did in awful, horrible detail.
Most of what I need to tell my T, I have already talked about- in a shocked, perhaps even detached state. However, I lied to the Police, or perhaps I should say, I omitted some of the details. There were things I just couldn’t bring myself to say. Things that needed to remain unsaid back then for my sanity.
Until I tell my T that whole story, I don’t think I can fully appreciate this new change. It’s in the way every time I try to explore it properly.

Am I ready to tell? Should I? Honestly, I really do not think that I am. I could tell him, but I am struggling so much, wouldn’t it be stupid to add more right now? On hold is probably for the best. Why then, such turmoil? I am sure that this is not the right time, but Ohh, this could mean the end of fears I have carried for far too long. Fear of him. Fear that he will find me. Fear that he will rape me again. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to live carrying such fear? And this could be my way out.. this IS the way out. The truth, the only thing that fits.. and I know I am probably making very little sense right now.
What do I do? Put in motion the beginning of the end to living in fear by causing myself more pain and suffering in the short term? When I think of it that way, it almost seems to be a no brainer.. suffer now for peace later. But aren’t I doing that every day anyway? Every day that I am facing this I am going through pain and suffering.. to find peace and healing within myself.
It’s on my mind, I keep seeing it, over and over. Reliving him pushing me to the floor and standing over me. And I feel him, feel what he did and remember what he said and it makes me want to be sick. Does that mean it’s time? Will ignoring make it go away? Or do I tell now to release myself from the burden of reliving it again at a later date?

I don’t want to. I don’t want to tell my T right now. I don’t want to say those horrible words out loud- again. I am so tired of disclosure. I am weary of putting into words such vile acts. I don’t want to.

Not yet, not now.

Is that my answer? How am I supposed to know? I wish someone could make this decision for me.

Putting myself first. A desire for peace.

Preparation for therapy used to take a great deal of time. Time, fear, worry, anxiety, all that fun stuff. I would set aside at least a few hours for it. I’d think about it for days, planning carefully what I would allow my T to know and what I could bear to share. I would spend time balancing and weighing up the desire to let it out with the potential dangers of dong so. It was complicated and risky and quite frankly, exhausting. It was like I needed therapy to prepare for therapy…
Things are different now, I have settled into the routine and pattern of therapy. Even when things are new and different, I am more at ease and even comfortable enough, to mostly let my thoughts flow freely. Preparations continue on a Thursday evening as always, but where it was once pages of writing, it is often just bullet points. 
I had set aside this time to do just that. Twenty minutes perhaps, to gather my thoughts ready for tomorrow’s therapy. Five minutes in and I’ve already hit a wall. So much going on, endless thoughts of the past, nightmares, triggers, work issues, an anniversary, the body memories that are hurting so much today…. where do I begin. Which do I pick? 
I know not to force it, but if you know me at all, you will know how hard it is for me not to plan, at least a little. What will be, will be. What needs out, will be released. I have faith in that, in the process, in my T and also in myself. However, it remains difficult to just let go.
I hit the wall, decided it was there for a reason, so found myself reflecting on the last week or so and my last therapy session instead. My last session seemed like a waste of time. I was so upset at some work issues which we spent the majority of the session on. Work, vulnerability and fear. If I am being honest now, I think the session last week was more worthwhile than I first thought. I think it is behind a decision I feel I made today. Perhaps decision is the wrong word, I am not sure, maybe a realisation perhaps? I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Whatever it is, it has made me feel a little better. Control and strength and relief at the freedom to choose for myself. I haven’t felt so free lately, quite the opposite in fact. 
Last week at work, someone shouted at me. I won’t go into the circumstances, they really are not important, but it was a horrible experience. At another time, maybe it wouldn’t have got to me, I am not sure? On this particular day however, it caused great distress. I was triggered and I felt attacked. Attacked, afraid and vulnerable. I cried in front of my colleagues and as crying is something I rarely do because it makes me feel so unsafe, I was left with fears that I had not only lost a coping mechanism (to not react at all to upsetting situations) but I had also lost part of my identity (to always be in control).
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I have been beating myself up for reacting to anger with distress, yet knowing full well that it is to be expected. My teen years were filled with anger, hate, aggression and hostility, therefore, it makes sense that anger would cause such upset. I had wondered if it was another goal to add to the plan- to become more comfortable/ able to react appropriately to anger directed at me. Today though, I made the decision that actually this need not be the case and as I instantly felt lighter, I think it must be the right thing for me.
 
Rightly or wrongly, I believe that after all I have been through, I am entitled to a life without anger or hostility from others. Why should I continue to suffer because other people cannot control themselves? Or worse still, because they don’t want to control themselves? I think that I deserve love and peace and kindness, which as a teen was in short supply. I decided I have experienced more hatred and aggression than most, therefore I believe it is OK to want the rest of my life to be free from those things (is that selfish?).
Now, I am not crazy (I don’t think), I realise that I can only control my own behaviour and actions and not those of others. I can though, takes steps to minmise it and react appropriately afterwards. I will no longer tolerate anger directed at me, I will not allow aggressive, hostile people to be part of my life. It is time I put myself first for once because you know what? This is not my fault. None of this is my fault. It was not my fault that I was shouted at last week, the same as it was never my fault that I experienced violent, angry abuse. 
 
Anger is a healthy feeling when dealt with correctly. I actively encourage my children to feel what they feel.. I have no intention of banning a feeling from my home or my life- heck I am pretty sure I have a lot of deep anger, desperate to get out. No, it isn’t about removing a feeling, instead it is about removing (as much as is possible) those people who make me feel as I did last week, or for much of my teen years. People who cannot control themselves, people who are proud of their anger and aggression, people who choose hostility, people who look for an argument, people who refuse to face and work on their anger issues, people who make me feel threatened and attacked, people who take out their anger on those smaller/ younger than them. Those people are not welcome in my life.
I am a person, a real, live human being and maybe you wouldn’t believe that if you knew the way I was treated.. hell, you wouldn’t treat an animal like that, but I am. I am a person with feelings, a soul and a heart, all of which have been trampled on enough. I wrote last week about feeling broken. I do feel that way, because I was broken. Broken and destroyed by other people. I have been forced to rebuild myself and my life from the debris of what they left behind..haven’t I suffered enough?
I have been through enough. I have been hated enough. I have been yelled at and screamed at enough. I have been beaten enough. I have been abused enough. Too much, for far too long and I do not ever want to experience those things again
I desire peace for myself and my life and that is new, or at least clearer than it has ever been. I hope it isn’t selfish, but I desire peace and I believe I deserve it as well.  What do you think?

 

Nightmares.

He’s plaguing my dreams again. Every time I close my eyes, he returns to remind me of what was. Except a little different this time, like he is bringing then to now, rather than now to back then….

Forced to return to my home town and back into his trap, into a life, I once knew so well. Another, where I was dreaming that I woke in my bed, to a dark figure above me and pressure on my chest. As I reached out to my husband, it was my abuser who reached back..

Last night was the worst yet, the fear as I tried to flee and he gave chase. No way out, once again.

And it is the fear that lingers, the terror I cannot shake.

 

 

 

 

Sitting with my feelings.

I had a bit of an epiphany this morning as I read the comments to my post from yesterday.

Yesterday was a very bad day, I was alone much of the day, then alone with the responsibility of two children in the evening. I missed my husband and the comfort and security his presence brings. I was not in a good place at all, very afraid, paranoid and frankly quite unwell.  I was physically sick with the PTSD symptoms. I couldn’t eat, I felt like I could barely breathe at times.

I couldn’t reach out for help, I didn’t want anyone to see me in that state. As I wrote yesterday, I feel like I have lost a part of myself by doing just that earlier this week. I couldn’t ask for help, I just couldn’t.

Today is a little different, I guess I feel a little more positive. While I don’t feel better- I am as ill as yesterday, I suppose, I am just more accepting of it all. The suffocating anxiety, the deep and agonising pain and I feel more broken than ever. I have stopped fighting it though and that is a relief.

This week is not turning out to be about recovery and healing in the way I thought it might be. It is not recuperating in the way I hoped. Instead it seems to be that it is more about finally letting go of the control a bit.. however scary that may be. It seems I am finally sitting with my feelings and I think that may be more about healing and recovery than I could have ever imagined.

Admitting the truth is something I did some time ago, but feeling it is another matter. It is a whole new level of acceptance. You see, not only do I know, I remember it now. How it felt to be so trapped. Imprisoned in hell. Even when the door was wide open, there was still no way out for me. I may as well have been in chains, I could not leave. He had every part of me. He destroyed me. He broke my spirit and he shattered my soul.

And now here I sit, in this brokenness, hoping that soon, I will find the way out.

Sit with me? It is such a lonely place to be.