Trust. Embarrassment. Fear

Yesterday was rubbish, PTSD symptoms, fears, feelings of vulnerability. I slept very little, a combination of symptoms -dissociation, hyper in general, then a flashback in the early hours- and now I am experiencing the crash that follows.

It was a difficult day for reasons I cannot and do not want to go into here. The nightmare yesterday certainly did not help, but it wasn’t the reason for the struggles.

 

I am now feeling embarrassed at my reaction to the situation and for showing that reaction. I am going through that emotional roller coaster that seems to hit when I realise I have gone and trusted someone way more than I ever planned or thought I could (or even once thought I should).

Trust after abuse is so, so hard. I keep hoping it will get easier, but if anything it seems to be harder. More people than I could have imagined and a growing, deeper trust with a couple of those individuals- it is a scary, scary thing.

It’s good to trust isn’t it? Why can’t it feel good? It is safe to trust now, I choose the right people to trust and even then I am very careful..yet there’s always the fears that accompany any new deepening of trust. I have experienced it with my T many times as our relationship has grown and changed. Though those fears always pass somewhat, a deepening of trust feeds the fear of rejection and abandonment issues that are oh so very big right now. I hate that. Neediness is not OK, not for me. I am not OK with that.

 

Despite the fears, worries, embarrassment and exhaustion, I am doing better than yesterday. Calmer, apart from a bit of precautionary grounding that is necessary since the flashback early this morning (they tend to hit in waves), PTSD symptoms are not so bothersome as they were.

 

 

I guess no one said this journey would be easy. Life after abuse, is not easy is it?

Perhaps today will be better. At least I see my T tomorrow.

 

 

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She wakes.

 

 

It is as if there is another entity within me.

Something lurking inside, just waiting for her moment.

Though sometimes she sleeps, she won’t ever truly let me be.

 

And with every step forward I take, she wakes.

Pushing her way to the surface,

she reminds me of what is at stake.

 

Blaming me for what I did and what I did not do.

Taking control, she shows me I am dirty, she shows me I am used

and if only they knew, they would leave me too.

 

She ridicules my stupidity, for my trust, my love, my hope.

The death of my insecurities are revived by her doubt

Why did I rely on them? How could I ever thought I’d cope?

 

She is awake today, the same as yesterday and the day before,

hating me for trusting, for my reliance and my neediness.

I feel her disdain, she despises me to my core.

 

And as I try to claw my way back, I have to wonder if she’s right?

Knowing I am doubting too, she won’t concede now.

It’s easier to give in and let her lead. I can no longer fight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Trust after abuse

Trust after abuse has felt impossible at times, but just lately what I really struggle with is the fear that trusting brings.

There are different levels of trust, some have been easier to achieve than others.

I trust my husband, not just with my safety, but I also trust him enough to be myself around him. He is the only one who ever really sees all of me- my anger, my tears… Last night, as I climbed into bed with him, I was overcome with (emotional) pain, I felt a desperate need to let it out- which is new for me. I lay my head on his chest and I cried. I said to him “I feel..” and I couldn’t continue. He said “Yes, you feel” and pulled me closer. I cried some more. To be able to let go and cry (some, at least) with him is amazing. I am so thankful for him and for our relationship. I trust him completely with the way I feel, that trust last night enabled me to do something I really needed to do- cry. That trust feels good.

I trust the men who are part of my life right now (Family, Therapist, Boss, Minister, male friends) I know they will not hurt me in the same way “he” did. I trust my own fear instinct enough to know when someone is a danger and when they are not. At first, it was hard to trust my instincts enough to actually feel comfortable alone with those men (family aside as that was never an issue) but it has become easier over time. That trust in my own instinct and the trust I have in those individuals never to hurt me, feels good.

I trust many people to be there for me if I had an “everyday” sort of problem, childcare issue for example. I am grateful to have those people in my life. I am glad to have people I can call on when I have a problem. That trust feels good.

I never imagined trust could go any further than those examples listed above’; trust in my husband, trust in the men I know not to abuse me, trust in all those in my life to be there when I have a (practical) problem. And I was OK with that, in fact I was more than OK, I had already promised myself that I would never tell, never disclose what was done to me and never share how I felt about it. I was so sure I would never break that promise.

Eighteen months ago, I did break that promise. I took a huge leap of faith and I told my T that I had been physically, emotionally and sexually abused. As I have blogged about many times, that trust has grown and changed over time. I trust him completely with the details of what was done to me, I believe I am beginning to trust him enough to show my feelings, but that’s fairly new so I cannot say for sure.

Just over a year ago, I told someone else, I didn’t intend to and even when I admitted I had been abused, I had no intention of ever talking it through with this person. However, I didn’t realise he would react in the way he did, I didn’t realise that I had picked a rather amazing person to tell. The first thing he said to me was “I believe you” and fellow survivors will probably know what an absolutely massive deal that statement is. From that point, he has been there for me at every step and I am utterly, completely astounded by him and his support.

I have started to trust people with the very thing I swore to myself I’d never speak of. I trust only 5 people with my feelings and with the story of the abuse, (only my T with the intimate details), but there are more who know of the abuse -family and more recently, some friends. And quite frankly, it is terrifying me.

Shouldn’t it feel good? I want it to feel good, but instead it feels like a loss of control, suddenly I feel afraid for my safety in case of a slip up, or an accidental disclosure, by the people who know. While I feel paranoid and irrational over this, I also know just how dangerous “he” is. I know what he is capable of better than most people, he was part of my life (or perhaps I was part of his?) for 7 years. I know that it is healthy to be afraid. So, I fear. And I fear the trust I have in people.

That fear leads to a desperate desire to shut down from those people I trust. I want to run and hide away and never, ever speak of this again. I am trying hard not to over react and cut links with the very people I  need. At last I am no longer alone with this and I never want to be again, so I have to fight this fear and to continue to accept and even reach out for the support that is offered, not run and hide.

Tomorrow I see my T, I am sure he cannot help these feelings to leave, but perhaps the outlet and his safe, comforting presence will be enough to calm my fears.

I look forward to one day trusting without fear, that day will come, right?

Love, Sex, Relationships and Truth

I am in the long and painful process of learning to accept my past, what it really was, what I was a victim of, what he was, what he did.. all that horribly painful stuff. To get my head around it, I’m writing, avoiding, distracting, then writing again.

After writing “I didn’t know”  today, it got me really thinking about my experiences of love, relationships and sex. What was done to me was none of those, I was not in love, he did not love me. We were not in a relationship, we never had sex. It’s something I need to continually remind myself of right now. I appreciate the reminders I get from those in my “Circle of Trust” too. I certainly need them.

I believe I’ve only ever loved one man, my husband. Prior to him there was a pretty serious relationship with a lovely guy, but I am positive I didn’t love him. I cared deeply for him, yet I wasn’t able to love him. It was similar story with who I consider to be my first boyfriend. I cared for him, I believed I loved him, but after experiencing the love I have for and with my husband, I don’t think I ever loved either of those guys.

I have no intention of getting into the history of my boyfriends nor my sexual history, it is helpful though, to compare my experience with the abuser to the experience with boyfriends and more importantly, with my husband now. The experiences are completely different, yet I’ve been lumping them in together for years. I believed my “first time” was at 14, I believed he was a boyfriend. I did not choose it, I did not want it, there was never consent, therefore it was not sex and so it was not my first time. It was violence, never sex. It was control, never a relationship. I was groomed into believing it was sex, love and a relationship. I was trained to respond in the way he wanted me to. I was so traumatised that I buried the reality, instead distorting the facts until I found a version of reality I could handle. 

I’ve felt real love since then, I’ve been in good relationships and I’ve had amazing sex. Those experiences could not be more different from the abuse. Equal love, mutual intimacy. I have been and I am treated with respect, I am adored for who I am.  I can’t say it’s all been plain sailing, particularly in regards to sex, it’s something my husband and I have had to and continue to work at.  He has learned to read me, to recognise the signs that I am triggered (as my response is to freeze). This is true of every aspect of our relationship, not just with sex. He is in tune with me, almost all of the time. It’s amazing and wonderful to be loved in such a way. It is freeing to say I know what good sex is and I know what it means to be treated equally. I give consent freely, I am not controlled by my husband. Our love and our intimacy is for us, both of us, together.

What the abuser did to me, is such a polar opposite of what I have now. That was no relationship in any shape or form, there was never consent, it was not sex. He was the abuser, he groomed me, my responses were from his grooming, his training, his manipulation and his complete control. It was all abusive, not because it was a abusive relationship, but because it was “simply” abuse, “just” abuse. Nothing else. Nothing. 

It’s painful, but it helps. It helps with the guilt and self blame. I cannot even begin to explain how this kind of guilt eats away inside. It’s been such a burden to carry, one that hasn’t left me, but it is lighter for sure. I have felt as if I have been carrying such a weight of shame, dirty secrets hidden deep down, poisoning my system. The reality is difficult, but it’s not like the alternative reality has been any easier to live with. It’s new, it’s scary, but it’s truth. Truth is the only way forward.  So I will continue to remind myself of what he really did, who he is and what it was. I will continue to re process memories, to remove the distortion and denial until there is nothing but truth left.

“Circle of Trust”

It’s all been poetry on this blog lately, I find it helpful to express myself in that way. I’m not sure I’m any good at it, but it comes right from the heart. Sometimes when I am unable to write or talk about the experiences I had, the poetry provides a much needed outlet.

I am unable at the moment, to blog about “my story” as such, yet I’m at the point in my journey where I need to talk about it. I need to talk about what happened, how I dealt with it, my regrets, my guilt, my pain, my anger etc. It’s what I want to do and need to do, but I remain unable to do that here.

At one point, when I began my journey there was just one trusted individual, my best friend. Since then the “circle of trust” has slowly started to widen. Though there are quite a few others who are now aware of my past, those I trust with parts of my story are few, for now at least. Apart from my “besty”, there’s my T (of course), my husband, one of my brothers and my Minister. One day, I hope to be more open with all those in my life and even beyond, but for now I see this as good progress, this time last year only one person knew.

There are many worries about trusting someone new, what details to tell them and trying to work out if I’m sharing too much. I know these things are not easy to listen to, I worry endlessly about over sharing with those already in the “circle of trust” so the thought of widening to include others, is daunting.

I’m afraid of rejection, I fear hurting or triggering others, I am afraid of gossip and twisting of the truth. I fear I won’t be believed, I fear being called an attention seeker. I fear a lot of things.

My biggest fear can be debilitating. I am deeply afraid that some how it will get back to the person who caused all this. The town I am from isn’t all that big, people are connected, it may be unlikely, but I cannot risk him finding out anything about me. I do not want to be back on his radar. I must feel safe at all costs.  The fear is so real and so great it makes me paranoid and obsessive, it makes me want to never utter a word to anyone ever again. Telling means fighting that feeling and it is not easy. The idea of expanding the circle to include more worry and fear, is not an attractive one.

So for now, my circle of trust remains small. I will work on pushing past the worries I have with those individuals I do trust.  I want to be more comfortable (if that is the appropriate word) with talking about my past, I do not want it to control me. These are my experiences, my memories, mine. I want control back. Releasing the memories is helping with that. I hope to get a little braver and post here about it one day, but today is not that day.