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.