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…

 

 

Angry, hurt and ashamed.

Trigger warning.

 

I put aside this time to write a little in my journal to prepare for my therapy session tomorrow. My husband is out buying food for a Thanksgiving meal (we will be having a day late) and my children are asleep. I can’t bring myself to open my journal again though. I wrote a lot in it early this morning and after wrestling with myself, I posted one (“Ashamed”). I just can’t seem to go back in that journal right now.

I am feeling pretty bad, but that seems to be the norm at the moment. I’ve been dissociating a lot today and right now I am just full of anger. I’m angry that I’m so ashamed of myself, I’m angry that “he” made me feel that way. I’m angry that I have to feel any of this stuff, I am angry that it was done to me in the first place. I’m so angry. I really, really hate that I was a victim of that abuse, which I am sure is quite a normal feeling. I hate that people know.. yet it’s a relief at the same time. It gets so tiring hiding it, but the point is, I’m angry that anyone has to know. I’m angry that “he” did it, I am angry that talking about it is the only way through.

Sometimes I feel so vulnerable and exposed. I am so private, maybe because of the abuse, or perhaps it’s just who I am.. and so while I’m glad it’s out in the open, it makes me uncomfortable. I was groomed into keeping quiet out of shame. I believed what I was doing (being made to do) was wrong and dirty and that it needed to remain a secret. I believed no one would love me, or could ever love me if they knew the truth. Those feelings have come with me into adulthood and they remain now.

Each time I tell what he did, I am rewarded with a high of taking control, but I’m also fighting shame and that voice telling me I need to stop. Telling helps, but I am so very ashamed of what “he” did- I cannot help it. I was raped and in love with my rapist and that causes a huge amount of shame. I had to take part in vile and lewd acts, I had to say awful things and pretend it was real for me. I won’t go into detail, it’s not what this blog is about, but it was truly sick. I cannot help the shame.

I do know he groomed me to love him and I know he was at fault. I know it’s not my fault, I know the shame belongs to him. I also fully believe that victims of rape have nothing at all to be ashamed of, yet that shame remains.

This is really hard.

 

Trying to no avail

 

Yesterday, to try and reduce my stress, or at least to not add to the existing stress, I tried out a new after school routine,. It seemed to go well, my children certainly responded well and seemed happier for it. I had more energy and felt better for doing more with my children, I’ve missed them lately. Unfortunately, I suffered for it last night, it was a bad evening. I was exhausted and symptoms were heightened. It was if instead of the new routine relieving me of stress, it just delayed it. I actually felt worse in the end.

So now what? Perhaps there’s a middle ground somewhere? If not, well at least I was a better mother for my boys while they were awake. The feeling terrible is not ideal and not something I want, but I’m willing to go through it, if my time with my children and my parenting is improved by delaying the inevitable stress. I am probably getting ahead of myself, no two days are the same and I certainly will explore other avenues rather than merely accepting that I have to feel terrible.

I was discussing it with my husband earlier and he suggested perhaps I am trying too hard to make things better and I should accept that things are crappy right now. I’m not likely going to feel good and enjoy things while I’m in the midst of therapy. I see his point, I know I put way too much pressure on myself  and I also know realistically, I cannot just make this go by changing my attitude and my daily routine. But, I want to try to make it better for myself, I don’t want to give up and just embrace feeling terrible. I know I feel bad, I know I am in pain (and need to be in pain), but I need to do everything possible to make it easier for myself. I’m not sure I am doing that though? In trying to improve things I seem to be adding stress.

 

Today I had an unexpected day off work (childcare issues) and so it was just me and my youngest at home all day. I was grateful, I felt so terrible this morning, I really didn’t want to go to work anyway. We had a low key day, stomping in the leaves and generally spending some quality time together. I didn’t think I had done too much, but maybe I have because I feel horrible right now. Reflecting on the day, spending time with my boy, having time to ground and to have a clean and tidy (important to me) home, with a casserole cooking by 2pm, should have been a good day for me. It certainly would have made me feel happy 2 years ago. I don’t feel good or happy, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved, I just feel like a wreck.

I don’t want to be someone who complains all the time, or finds the negative in every situation, but I feel what I feel. I am trying so hard to make the best of this situation yet I feel like I’m going crazy. My chest is ready to explode and the symptoms are hitting me hard, one after another. I don’t know what else to do other than keep trying, if I stop trying then that feels like giving up. Giving up is a very dark road to go down. I’m afraid of stopping, I’m afraid what that may mean, but I’m a mess. I can’t keep this up. I don’t know what to do. I wish this was over, I can barely stand this.

 

Wow, I feel crap

Yup, completely and utterly crap. I have energy for work it seems, but as I set foot out of the office door, I feel myself sort of sag. My energy levels dip and I feel like I’m dragging myself to the car. I feel bad that work gets all my energy and my husband and children get a grumpy, stressed and exhausted me. Poor them.

This has happened before, it fits with what I’m going through in therapy right now. I don’t feel hopeless, quite the opposite in fact, but I do feel really unwell right now.

The symptoms are very bad this evening, I keep thinking “OK, enough” and “time to take control” and I get up and try and get on with something normal like laundry. Who am I kidding? I can’t control my symptoms, I can help myself out, I can minimise the effect, but I cannot just stop them by sheer will power. For some reason though, it doesn’t stop me trying!

It helped to write to “him” again today, that is something that I have really needed to do for a few days now, but I hadn’t felt up to doing it until now. It was a big relief earlier, it felt good to recognise the shift in thinking that has occurred (actually not just occurred, I worked damn hard at).

I’m doing really well -something pointed out to me last night – and I recognise that, it is undeniable. I’ve come so far, I’ve made so much progress and I am proud of myself. It doesn’t make this stress go away though. I fear this week, it’s only Monday and I already feel similar to last Thursday, which was a very low and scary point for me.

I am trying to do what I can to improve things for the week ahead (until therapy Friday at least, when I hope I can release some of it), I’ve reduced my hours at work. I had been working extra hours recently; as of tomorrow, I am back to my normal hours. I have been trying to take note of my dips in mood today in the hopes that I can work out a way to help myself. I feel exhausted after work, which is when the symptoms really kick in. I know some of that is to do with the exhaustion from wearing the “I am fine” mask for work,  but perhaps it is more than that. Early evenings are the worst. I will be talking to my husband tonight to see if there’s something we can do to increase my energy to lift my mood and hopefully relieve some of the symptoms. Food and thirty minutes to myself when I get home (where my husband’s job allows) are ideas off the top of my head.

I need to do something, I can’t just ride this out, I am making myself ill. I already feel like an upset child (you know when a child who has screamed for so long, can’t breathe right, so they sort of shudder with each breath?- yup that’s me) and my stomach is in knots. I also worry about my husband and the pressure on him and I feel incredibly guilty (and really upset) that I am missing out on time with my children because when I’m home, I’m exhausted and grumpy. I know it’s short term, I know it will pass, but I also know it will happen again each and every time I’m in the midst of disclosing. I have to find the best possible way to handle it, the easiest way through, not just for myself, but for those around me.

 

Wish me luck.

 

Venting.

 

As I carried my baby to his bedroom, with his head nuzzled into my shoulder, I reflected on my life now and how blessed I am. I always wanted to be a mother and to be a wife. I have those things, I couldn’t ask for a better husband and my children, while not always easy, are truly amazing. I love my job, I really do, it’s not what I saw myself doing, it doesn’t help people in the way I have always wanted, but for now, it’s pretty perfect. The hours suit and while it’s not rocket science, I really do excel at what I do. I like where I live right now, I (mostly) feel safe here.  I finally feel I have found somewhere I can call home. I have it so  good, I really do. For all those things and so many more, I am very grateful.

I should be happy I think? Look at all I have, all that should equal contentment. I am not happy though, I don’t remember when I last felt happy. I am not happy, I am not even OK. I will be one day, of that I am sure, but right now I am not there yet.

In terms of therapy, during the first half of the year, I disclosed a lot, we faced a lot of my demons, then we moved away from the details of my past and focused more on issues and feelings. While feeling pain is no fun, I felt somewhat stable. The PTSD symptoms continued to cycle, but I was doing better in day to day life. In recent months I have been venturing out of the house more, including taking my oldest child to school most days. My anxiety was noticeably reduced and my fears were calmer (yay!). Although things were not easy by any means, I felt more human, more like the old me at times. I even had some days where I felt good all day long. :).

Right now, it seems like those good days are a distant dream. We are back into disclosure and working through the details of my past. My anxiety is increased and with work pressures, home pressures and trauma anniversaries, I am feeling incredibly stressed out. The PTSD symptoms are worsened, I am sleeping better out of exhaustion I think, but waking shaky and disoriented. I am feeling triggered most of the day. I feel as if I am stuck half way between the past and now, unless I am constantly grounding. I know this is to be expected, I even know that it will get better again, but that doesn’t make it OK now. I keep thinking “I can’t do this anymore” (yet, I know I will). Quite frankly, it is exhausting.

I fear I am annoying people and frustrating those around me. While in the grand scheme of things, this therapy and this difficult time is short term, it actually feels as if it’s been going on for a long time. Some do not understand and some don’t seem want to (and I can understand that). I can imagine seeing my moaning Facebook updates or perhaps my inability to meet up must be frustrating to some. I go back and forth between thinking.. “well why should I hide this and the way I feel, when half the problem has been how secret this has all been for so long”, to thinking, “I need to just suck it up and deal with it quietly and put a brave face on to the rest of the world”. Why do I question myself so much? I don’t need the extra stress, worry and thoughts, my mind is working over time as it is.

I cannot switch off at all this evening, I don’t want to write, frankly, I haven’t journalled much at all lately, I am too exhausted for anything that involves moving off my sofa. I feel so wound up, too wound up to work out what I should do to relax. I guess I just feel like venting a little, because what I am facing right now is so hard, its enormity scares me, I sometimes fear it is maybe too hard.

The PTSD is horrible, remembering is horrible. Facing it is scary, feeling it is so painful. I do not want to do this again, but my damn stubborn streak keeps me moving forward. My desire to heal is greater than the fear and the pain. So face it I must.