2013 – My Journey.

Wow, what a year! What a long and painful, roller coaster of a year. But, what an amazing year it has been in so many ways too.

There have been many changes in my life and in myself. I don’t think I am a different person, in fact I think I’m more me than I have ever been before. I’m glad about that. Somewhere under all the low self esteem, under all the self loathing that was groomed into me, I think I could start to like the person who is emerging.

 

I had a wonderful Christmas in many ways. Sure I was often tired, sometimes quite badly triggered, sometimes grieving Christmas memories past in more ways than one; but I also felt a sense of freedom and with that freedom came relief. It has been awesome to feel that way at some point every day for the last week or more, awesome!

 

This year has been the most challenging of my adult life so far (and ever I hope). I have made massive changes and major progress in the last year. I’ve really started to notice those changes in the last few months.

I have settled into therapy now, I trust my T more than I could have ever imagined. I have told him things that this time last year I was convinced I would never tell anyone. Therapy is changing my life and I can honestly say that over this last year, I have given it my all. I am so glad to have my T guiding me through.

Early this year, I did something else I thought I never would; I told people about my past. It was so incredibly hard. It was painful, so much more than I expected, but it has changed my life completely. Though I have had to face harsh truths and accept disappointment, I have been learning to allow others to support me. I am still learning and still struggling with trust, but while I can count on one hand the people I trust with my past, the trust within those relationships has deepened over the past year.

I am able to talk about this with one brother particularly, while I go through periods of saying very little about the details of the abuse, I know I can tell him whenever I need to. He checks up on me lots, he’s there with a understanding, but grounded and level headed response whenever I need it. I’m so glad he knew before everyone else, he’s been on my side every day since.

Besides my T and my brother there’s also my minister and he is fantastic. I know I’ve mentioned him in blog posts before, but I cannot say it enough, he is an awesome guy, he really is. It’s always very scary to tell someone new about the abuse, it’s hard to know how someone will react but in this instance, I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction. And then last Christmas, after the carol service at the local Church I remember telling him that I planned to talk to my family (and then friends) about my past and my issues since and now. He immediately said, we should get together in the new year and chat about it properly. I was completely stunned (in a good way!) and have continued to be stunned and wowed by his consistent support since.

I do not trust easily, I don’t know how or if I can ever widen my “circle of trust” but the trust I have in those already part of it, has deepened tremendously over this last year. I am moved by the support and understanding I have from those people and I am so very glad to have them on this journey with me.

 

The last year has also seen an incredible improvement in my marriage. It was never bad, in fact it was good a lot of the time, but I had so many issues that I, nor my husband understood which caused us both problems

I’ve learned a lot about myself this last year, even in recent weeks. I usually know when I am triggered now and recently I’ve started to react early enough a lot of the time that I ground before it gets too bad. Not always and not when the trigger is particularly bad, but often enough to make a difference to my daily life. My husband has also learned to read the signs of hyper vigilance, triggers, dissociation etc. again, not always, but often enough to make a difference. I have told my husband about some of the abuse, I have told him a lot about the way I felt then and the way I feel now. He has supported, encouraged and sometimes simply just held me through it all. He makes me feel safe, he allows me to be needy as  necessary while also reminding me that I am a strong and capable woman.

Our sex life has improved dramatically, (family can look away now) I enjoy it now, but I didn’t used to. As with everything in my life, I faked and I pretended. With a lot of work and communication things are a lot better. My husband reads me, we have signals between us, he knows when I am triggered, often before I do. He knows when we need to stop without our word being said. It’s amazing and wonderful to have such a loving, attentive and affectionate partner.

My work in therapy and our work together at home has made us closer than ever before, we are now a team and I love him more every day.

 

 

My ability to ground has improved over the last year, I have found what works for me and use those techniques all the time, whether I am triggered or not. More recently, using some of those grounding techniques, I have been “reclaiming my bed”. It’s working. I actually enjoy being in bed most of the time now. I spent many years feeling unclean in bed, years of feeling incredibly grumpy every morning until I showered. I didn’t understand why. I do now and through therapy and taking steps to make my bed as grounding for me as possible, that has changed. My bed will probably never be my safe place when I’m triggered, but now I no longer feel dirty and unsafe every morning when I wake.

 

A few months ago, I was promoted at work. I thought that worth noting, because while it has been such an incredibly difficult year, I still managed to do well at work, so much so that I have been recognised for my achievements with a new job title and pay rise. I think that’s pretty incredible. Some days, many days in fact, I wonder how I will make it through work. I battle hyper vigilance and dissociation, at times I have battled flashbacks that have made me physically sick, all while managing to do my job (mostly) as efficiently as normal. It does affect me, holding it all in isn’t ideal, but I like my job, I want my job and I need it too in many ways. I’m proud of the way I have handled work this last year.

 

This last year has seen me face the lasting impacts of his grooming. I believe there are still aspects of his control in my life, but I know what they are and I am working or will be working through them. I now know that I do not love and have not loved him for a long time. I know the man I thought I loved never existed. I have and do feel a sense of loss, I hurt and I grieve, but he no longer controls me in that way. I have let go of a lot of guilt, I have realised that blaming myself was part of being groomed, some remains, I am in no doubt, but a lot of it is back on him, where it always belonged.

Besides accepting and facing that I was groomed and all the issues that has caused, I have also faced several of the incidents of abuse. I told (and not just my T) and now they are no longer deep, dark secrets. The triggers and flashbacks for them are not what they were and the nightmares for those, few and far between. While it was hideous to disclose those details, I am glad I did. It feels good to start the New Year with the knowledge that those things I once thought unspeakable, have now been given a voice and released.

 

There are some other achievements/ improvements I am aware of, but I won’t detail those right now, mostly because I cannot explain here but I do want to note how my attitude towards the future has changed. I always wanted a future, always wanted a husband and children, but I didn’t believe I’d have it. Even once I did, I couldn’t imagine any kind of future with them at all. A part of me always assumed “he” would come back into my life at some point. Now I am free to dream of my future, I am able to make plans with my husband and I am able to feel excited about those plans. That feels really great.

 

I know that the new year ahead will not be easy. I have more to disclose to my T and more issues to deal with. I won’t lie, I am afraid of what is to come, but I know that I will do it and I know I will come out the other side because I am strong, I am capable, I am determined and I am in control.

 

 

Loss

It was early hours of Christmas Day, dark, cold and damp out there with you. Your eyes pierced mine as your rough hands cupped my face gently. I remember the neighbours were awake and I knew they could see us. Part of me wondered if they would tell, but the thought was fleeting. In that moment, I didn’t care, I had no time for anyone or anything but you. I remember the warmth of your lips upon mine and I wanted to stay in that moment forever. I adored you.

When it was time for me to go, I stepped a few paces away before turning to watch you leave and I still remember the thrill of realising you hadn’t moved.  You were still there, watching me go. As my eyes once again met yours, you gripped your chest with one hand and  pointed to me with the other; a gesture of love that always weakened my knees.

Whenever I was disturbed by those other nights of terror, those moments were my cherished memories, my hope, my explanation, my escape, my safety net. And now they’ve gone I realise how much I needed them, how much they meant, how much hidden truth they contained. Now I remember before as well as after, now I know you didn’t love me and now I know my most treasured memories of you were never real and it hurts more than I could have imagined. 

Lately, I’ve been haunted by those many nights I met you while everyone else slept. I remember how damp, how cold and how windy it always seemed to be and oh how I remember your lips on mine and your arms around me. Right now, it seems, I cannot open the door without being blasted by such similar weather and those haunting memories of you. I don’t know whether to feel trauma or pain. I’m reminded of what you did but also of those many nights you walked me home.

I’m left feeling like I’ve lost the only good memories I had of you and I’m left feeling a loss I do not want to comprehend. I am used to feeling terror, I am used to feeling horror. I am getting used to battling the reality of what you did, but loss? Grief over you? Over what I thought we had, over what was never, ever true, or right, or even real? I am ashamed of that. I feel conflicted with hatred and hurt over you. I’m ashamed that I mourn you and who I thought you were.

I hurt for my teenage self, for all the broken promises, for the heart that swelled with love, that you shattered into pieces.

And I hate you for that, for hurting an innocent child, who did nothing but love you with everything she had, who was fiercely loyal to you no matter what you did. Everything you inflicted, every insult, every rape, every bit of pain that knocked her down, she always stood right back up and trusted that the end would come, that she could fix you, that the good in you would one day shine again. So innocent, so full of hope, so full of trust and so full of love.

I hate you for what you did to her, to me and to us. 

I am so full of anger, so full of hate and so very deeply ashamed of it all right now.

Let go (flashback).

 

An afternoon out with my beautiful family. A walk through the park,

the light departing, the wind rising, howling through the trees and it is all so similar,  far too familiar.

And just like that the sound has gone and I can’t rip my eyes from those trees looming, menacingly over me.

I can’t fight as I know what is coming, as I am drawn back to hell. Like a black hole, I can feel you pulling me through.

Beside me I feel your hand around mine, leading me away from safety. Always leading me away.

Your smell hits me hard and I am frozen in fear, somewhere inside I sink to my knees

because I remember this night and what is ahead for me.

And I am willing you to let go. Please, I beg you, let go of my hand, let me go back to them.

I can hear sobbing and I know it’s coming from within me, but it feels so far away,

it’s like being under water, desperately I am clawing my way to the surface.

And as quick as I left, I know I am back. The sound returns and the cold air hits.

I smile brightly at my children as I run my hands through my hair and stamp my feet to ground.

They are blissfully unaware of the sobs I am containing.They are oblivious to my haunting.

But not my husband, not him. He knows where I’ve been and he knows that you took me. He knows.

And as he takes my hand gently leading me away from you, I know he will never let go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body Memories to ruin my day.

 

Handling body memories while dealing with real life and in my case children, is not easy is it? I had come on here to ask how others handle it. But I guess I already know, because I am handling it, whether it feels that way or not. My children have eaten, they are busy playing/ watching TV, they are safe and oblivious to what I’m going through (and for that, I am glad).

I’m not sure of the exact cause but anxiety, dissociation and then body memories started about an hour ago. I assume I was triggered, I remember an intrusive memory but not the specific trigger. I’ve done pretty well up until this point, the day went better than I had hoped, I got things done and also managed to have some time to play with my youngest child. But now, both boys are home and the responsibility I have for them suddenly feels huge. It’s dark outside, everywhere is quiet and I can feel myself dissociating through the body memories. I know I am triggered because it almost always causes a rage that I have to make an effort to control. I have that bubble of rage in my chest right now. I’m fighting to stay rational when my oldest child goes upstairs, I fight the urge to tell him to stay where I can see him. But I am winning and that should probably feel good. Perhaps it would if it wasn’t such an effort all the damn time.

And how do I feel good when my head is throbbing, my thoughts are foggy and there’s a big ball of fiery rage pressing on my lungs, restricting every breath? How do I take delight in my win, when my body aches, my inner thighs, my pelvis, my abdomen from something that was done to me long ago?  I hate this, I hate the body memories so much, they aren’t real pains, they don’t exist anymore, what was done is over now. But oh how hard it is to smile at my children, how difficult it is to sit on the floor putting together duplo towers when I am feeling 14 again, when I feel the pains as if I am being attacked right now. And it’s so hard to hug my beautiful children, because I am fighting that rigid, frozen feeling body memories bring.

I’m doing the right things, reminding myself to breathe properly, drinking water to help me ground, surrounding myself in light, pillows and blankets, trying desperately to keep the children happy so they don’t scream and fight. It doesn’t make this better though and it doesn’t make it right.

Why should I have to fight so hard all the time? Isn’t it bad enough that I had to live it the first time? Why do I have to feel as if he’s with me now, when he has long gone?

Sometimes it is just too hard and it gets me down so quickly. And I hate him for that. I hate “him” so very much right now. 😦

Christmas Love?

Christmas and I was so in love.

Excitement, danger and you.

You held my hand, pulled me close

kissing me gently, I just couldn’t let go.

I adored you in those moments.

 

I know I was abused, I know he groomed me. I know the person I loved didn’t actually exist, but that love felt so real to me. I loved my abuser. I really did. I’m ashamed of that in a way, even though I am fully aware that he was at fault, not me.

This is the first Christmas that I have fully accepted that what he did was abuse, I have accepted that he groomed me. And now I feel like he has ripped away my only good memory of him and that time- us at Christmas. Because of those moments, the ones I treasured, for years, I believed he had to love me on some level at least. That and the harder it got for us to be “together” the more he held on. I saw that as love rather than his control and arrogance. Now I don’t see those tender moments as anything but ways to get to me and to keep me.

And it leaves me angry for sure, but I also feel a sense of loss and that confuses me. It’s the sort of thing I’d take to therapy and I know my T would reassure me that it’s normal, in the way he assures me that everything I feel is OK and valid. I know he’s probably right and it’s OK to feel what I feel, but I don’t like feeling it. Anger- while I’m not comfortable with, I know I’m valid in feeling it, the same with hurt/ pain and sadness. But loss? That is not something I’m used to with this.

I guess it’s understandable given the recent anniversary that I tried to ignore, that won’t make much sense here but I cannot explain here right now (or in my own journals). But I think It makes sense to me, I think I better understand some of my own actions around that anniversary now.

Oh I’m missing my T already and it’s not even been a full week yet.

Some downtime for Christmas?

This time last week, I had just spent an hour crying down the phone to a stranger. I thought it was worth noting that I feel a whole lot better than I did last week. I’m not the wreck I was last Thursday, I’m a whole lot calmer and right now, grounded.

My boys are playing beautifully, work was quiet and relaxed and I managed to sleep without a nightmare last night, first night in well over a week (Yay!!!).  I’m also feeling better physically. I’ve been fighting some virus for about a week now, which has made me pretty miserable. To be honest, with that and the lack of sleep/ nightmares and hyper vigilance, I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself (embarrassed smiley) and incredibly grumpy. Today is the first day I can talk without pain and apart from a slight cold, I think I’m better.. woop. I am certainly less grumpy, I am sure my husband and children are relieved.

 

Tomorrow I have the day off work, I had planned to leave the baby in childcare (big boy in school) but my husband is now going to be out for the day with work-a couple of hours drive away all day (he normally works at home). I’m feeling apprehensive about it, well perhaps more a little fearful than apprehensive. I’m worried about my ability to handle both my children alone (mostly after school) tomorrow. When I am having symptoms, I know my husband can take over at any point as he’s almost always home. That safety net is really valuable to me right now. Also, I am more on edge generally due to the time of year, recent hyper vigilance etc.  A combination of those things and I made the decision to keep my baby at home with me. It means two less journeys out of the house, it also means I won’t be home alone. Which sounds ridiculous right? How does having a toddler with me make things any better? I don’t know that it will, I just know I don’t want to be alone at all at the moment.

So, tomorrow is week one of no therapy and yet it seems I still have a challenge to face (home alone and handling the responsibility of children with no back up). I’m annoyed, I was really hoping to wake on a Friday for once, without feeling apprehensive, nervous or scared.  I was really looking forward to no work, no children, just time at home, with my lovely husband close by. I was looking forward to no stress that work and children can bring and no anxiety that therapy can bring- I hoped to do “normal” stuff that every other parent (mother more likely 😉 ) is doing this time of year. I wanted to do the things I used to do this time of year. I just wanted to feel “normal” for once.

I really had way too much set on tomorrow, I put pressure on myself I guess. And now it’s not working out the way I want and it upsets me. My husband often (gently) tells me not to plan so much, because when things don’t go to plan I feel sad/ angry or whatever… He’s right, of course.Well, I guess, whether it’s therapy or a day alone, it really makes no difference, I will handle it. I will find a way through because that’s what I do. I’m confident in that at least.

A break some time soon would be good though, some “normality” perhaps? Some kinda down time at some point? I don’t need gifts, I don’t want or need to drink or stuff myself silly, I just want some of what I used to have- not the denial for sure, but some feelings of normal, some of the old me that I’ve had glimpses of over the last 6 months…

 

 

Reflecting a little.

This time last year, I remember comforting myself with the thought that by this Christmas therapy would be done. I was wrong, nineteen months in and we are not done. I have come far though, I know I have changed, I know I am stronger.

I finished another journal last night, I spent a little time reading back through it, I ended up reading through April’s entries particularly. April has always been a difficult month, with an Anniversary of the most physically traumatic night of my life. I disclosed that incident to my T during April this year. My pain and anguish was evident in my journal’s entries, but it has made me realise how far I have come. I am not over it, I’m not sure anyone could ever get over something that horrible, I closed my eyes and winced in pain when I came to my journal entry that detailed part of what “he” did to me that awful night. But it was pain, not trauma. That is progress.

With what is going on for me right now, I think it was particularly helpful to read those April entries last night, or at least it has given me some hope. I’m struggling with a recent anniversary at the moment. I completely ignored it, pretended it hadn’t happened and hoped it would go away. With that and the trust/ fear issues I have had, it’s no wonder I am having so many nightmares and hyper vigilance. I ignored the nightmares and hyper vigilance, until the body memories started and I could ignore no longer. I don’t think I have ever become used to anniversaries but I have been better at dealing with them, ignoring is not dealing. I understand now why it’s been so hard for me lately.

Classic me, would be to beat myself up for ignoring the anniversary and making things worse for myself, but I won’t and I am not. Not only was I was having a rough time with trust and fear issues but anniversaries that have never been talked through are always more difficult. I’m in pain, I’m traumatised by what was done that day and I haven’t processed it (nor do I want to right now). I think it’s OK that I tried to make it go away, I think it’s OK that my only way of coping was to suppress and ignore.

I will not be seeing my Therapist now until the New Year, I won’t be disclosing/ talking/ processing this particular anniversary for a while. Even if I had therapy this week, I don’t think I want to or I’m ready. So it’s about getting through Christmas without ignoring how I feel and what memories are getting to me, while at the same time containing those memories, because I do not have the safe outlet my T provides for a few weeks. It won’t be easy, but I do feel better now I have more of an understanding of why and what is going on.

I am aiming for a low stress and quiet few weeks and hoping for plenty of grounded moments, so I can enjoy some of the Christmas/ New Year holiday with my husband and beautiful boys. And I am fairly confident that this time next year, therapy will either be over or almost there at least. That is a good thought to hold on to.