Liberation Day

So today is the Dutch day for celebrating the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis in WW2. I feel like the UK doesn’t acknowledge the fact that a lot of mainland Europe suffered horrifically during world wars one and two, and I feel like we should. The Dutch were one of the first few nations to be annexed, and we all know what happened to Anne Frank. I read somewhere recently, and correct me if I’m wrong, that she applied to the United States to get a visa to leave the Netherlands. They denied it. 
In the light of that, I just want to say that I don’t care where you’ve come from or where you lived before I met you. You’re a human being and if you are running away from something terrifying that’s happening in your country, you deserve safety and peace. The UK, USA and anywhere else that has the capability to welcome refugees and asylum seekers should do so. 

Anne Frank did not want to leave her home. She was terrified and vulnerable when her family applied to live abroad. Likely, they would have had to grab what they could carry and run as fast as they could to get away. The same applies to anyone running away from war in Syria, Chechnya, Africa… They have lost everything and are desperate.

Some of the people who lost their lives in world war two were artists, philosophers, scientists, poets, engineers and playwrights. Some were elderly people who had every right to have a calm, quiet retirement, but were dragged onto a train to a death camp. Some were frightened children. They had the potential to be anything, but their young lives were snuffed out because of incredible racism and bigotry. Some people who died were disabled, some physically unable to fight back, others suffering from mental issues which made them unable to resist. Some were black or Romany, treated awfully and not given the human rights they deserved. The LGBT+ community suffered terribly too, losing their lives to the regime that claimed so many. 

I’m writing this because it is clear to me that we are seeing this happening again. The USA elected an evil man, and Russia is sitting idly by as Chechnya kills its own people. Whilst the world’s richest sit on their wealth, Somalia faces famines. Children are ripped from everything they know in Syria, Palestine, the Congo, and trafficked, forced to be child soldiers, orphaned. 

We cannot let this happen again. 

We really have to include people who have made it out of those awful warzones, places where they had to leave high-paying jobs for menial shelf work in a country where people are discriminatory. We have to stand up for the Native American people, at Standing Rock and other sacred places. We have to call out white cops who kill black children. We have to talk to the lady in the hijab who takes the bus with us, to the old black lady who is lonely and wants a friend, to the kid in our class who is gay and not handling the rejection from his peers too well. We have to stop being bigoted, violent, ableist and racist…

Or the next history books our children’s children will read will be about how we had WW2 as an example of how NOT to act, yet we ignored it and sat idly by as people died and we decided it wasn’t out problem.

In school, I learned that war is ugly and it should teach us one thing:

If they come for your neighbour… You stand up and say no. 

Love,

16 and 27.

Really difficult stuff to talk about.

TRIGGER WARNING- I’ve managed in this post to talk frankly and openly about sex and how screwed up I am over it. Please stay safe, everyone. Some of this is quite graphic, although not all of it is the usual sad stuff I post. Be careful.

So, I have been recently discussing some really difficult shit with Dr K, and of course, it’s haunting me a little. I feel like the fragmented parts of me (the nineteen-year-old in particular) are really freaked out about sex and not sure what is normal any more. In fact, I know that at nineteen, I had been actually having proper sex with my ex for nearly a year and I was confused as hell about why it didn’t feel like all the films said it should.

I was confused by how it used to happen, too. I thought it was attractive to the guy you were with if you crawled into his lap asking for sex. I thought that it was a good indication that you were really interested in him and you thought he was sexy. Apparently, to my ex, it just meant you were a whore. I cannot count the amount of times I was pushed away by him, only for him to re-initiate at least twenty minutes later, once my drive was well and truly off. Then, he would expect a show and I would perform like some sort of whore. At least, that’s what I thought it was like to be a whore. Surely sex was like this for everyone, then, and all the films and movies were lying?

Talking to Dr K about this has thrown up my poor fractured sense of ‘normal/healthy’ again. I told her all of this, and she said it wasn’t right that every time I wanted sex it was thrown back in my face. This reminded me of something that happened between J and I, something that’s hopefully re-wiring how I see approaching J for sex.

So we were pretty tired for about a week whilst I was staying with him, mostly because of the sweaty, baking weather. I was, inexplicably, about as turned on as you can get and had not a clue about how to ask J to help me out with it. Of course, you’re not meant to ask the person you’re with for sex, so I had to just hint and hope. When that didn’t work, I resorted to just pushing all those feelings away, resulting in a horrible depression for at least three days.

J saw there was something wrong and asked me every day, but I couldn’t tell him. I must be warped to want sex this much, it must be programming from my ex to perform, so I just told him I was feeling bad but not why. Eventually though, he decided that it was bad enough to keep pushing me about it. When I did tell him, there was a huge sense of relief.

J did not push me away, reject me, or call me a whore. He was amused that I was that horny and actually very flattered, and told me outright that asking him for sex was really attractive and a huge turn-on for him. I felt suddenly very appreciated, and very relieved. He let me know that of course I wasn’t warped (and so did Dr K as I related this story to her) and that being young and with someone I care about that much will of course make me tick over like a well-oiled engine!

All of this is flies directly in the face of what my ex forced on me. I used to feel so dirty a lot of the time with him, and I’m trying to shake that feeling and re-work my head to accept that what J is telling me is what most people think.

I haven’t mentioned this to Dr K yet, but one of the other things I really struggle with is – gah, I can’t type it without feeling like a fucking whore – masturbation.

Ugh, I remember feeling guilty and wrong and sick over it ever since being really small. I hate guilt. It kills whatever drive I have and gets rid of it faster than a blink. I know logically that it’s not wrong, but I feel horrible for even thinking about it sometimes. In my more manic moments, I literally don’t care, but I am not manic right now and it actually scares and angers me in equal measure that I just can’t process it properly.

J’s helped me a lot. He’s told me so many times it’s good for me, and that I’ll feel less stressed and anxious- after all, after a good orgasm, it’s almost impossible to feel horrible. What I struggle with it that the Church is so condemnatory of any and all sexual feelings and behaviour that I am still conditioned to believe I’m a proper Jezebel, a total whore, for feeling like J is the hottest man on the planet and remembering all the lovely times we’ve spent together in bed. I wish that I’d never been brought up in the Church. It’s responsible for so much of the damage to my psyche.

I’ve also read on various sexual healing sites (like Aphrodite Wounded) that masturbation is actually good for survivors of sexual violence and that it can help you feel less dissociative, and more in touch with your body. I didn’t realise it, but I actually spend a lot of time out of my body, not feeling its aches, pains or pleasures. I’m always fully present when I’m with J, out of necessity, because I don’t want a flashback ruining my mojo! I also don’t want to be trapped in the ether forever, and feeling that safe with J is a great help.

I just wish I was less conflicted about all of this. It’s really hard to actually relax about all of this, what with my ex’s abusive ways and the Church’s abusive sayings floating around in my head. The nineteen-year-old part of me that I talked about before is horribly conflicted. Her view on things pretty much sums it up- want it, shouldn’t want it. Dirty whore.

J would never call me a whore. He thinks my every move is brave, and has been gentle and patient with me since day one. This also brings me to something else that has been conflicting my poor head, something that I know is slowly feeling less weird but is also still a little anxiety-provoking.

I was with J for the first time since Florida last year, in January and February. I remember feeling excited and nervous and a bit frightened of sleeping with him, even though I desperately wanted to. I didn’t want to have a flashback or see my ex where J should be. As you’ve read, I managed to, and I actually enjoyed it, and cried in happiness when it was over. J was lovely with me, held me tight, kissing me and then making me laugh.

What happened a couple of days after was really strange.

My ex used to lash me with a belt, metal side to skin. He would tie me to the bed with handcuffs and leave me there for a while. He would force his hands round my throat and choke me whilst having sex with me, and I’d just lie there and take it all. He called it BDSM. Dr K calls it abuse, and she’s right, it is. Real BDSM can have all those components, but both parties involved agree it’s what fries their chips and gets them off, and they usually sign a contract and also have a safe word AND aftercare when the scene is done. I had none of that.

I was writing something on J’s kitchen table, bent over, and he came up behind me.

“What are you writing, babe?”

“Just a shopping list so we don’t forget anything when we go out.”

“Ok,” he said, and lightly slapped me on the ass.

I froze. That did not feel anything like the awful spankings I would endure under my ex. That… that felt good.

He saw my eyes widen and the pen fall from my hand. “Are you ok?” he asked, and spanked me again lightly.

I shivered. “Y-yes,” I said, and he grinned and spanked me again.

Through clothes, the sensation was incredible. I didn’t get why I was enjoying it, but a few well-placed slaps later and my elbows and knees buckled. J grinned, and helped me upright. I was shaking with pleasure and I’m pretty sure I had a grin plastered on my face.

“That… what was that!?” I asked him. He laughed and kissed me on the forehead.

“So you liked that, did you? More of that later. We have to get to the grocery store now. Can you walk? Are you ok?”

I smiled back and said I could, but he might have to hold onto my until my legs felt less jelly-like. He laughed and stayed there til I trusted my knees enough to walk again.

Since then we’ve explored more with spanking. I told Dr K that I felt really weird about it- on one hand loving it and actually feeling good when we did it, and one the other terrified that my ex’s violent ways had warped me and twisted me, forcing me to re-live my abuse in a different way. She explained to me that this is not the case, that many people enjoy it and it’s not even at the scary end of the scale. All of this made the nineteen-year-old inside me feel a little less freaked out.

Dr K also explained that I am not re-living my abuse because I am actually enjoying myself about it. It’s true- I never thought it was possible to enjoy it, but I am boneless when he’s finished and usually ask him not to stop. J always respects my wishes, and the whole thing is done safely- something that Dr K has pointed out to me. I do feel a little better now writing about it, and I feel a lot more like I am moving on with some aspects of feeling weird and fucked-up and guilty.

What I really want out of my stupid roiling mass of feelings over sex is some true clarity, and not to feel so triggered or have so many intrusive thoughts when I’m alone and thinking about sex. Has anyone out there got any advice over this? I would really love a bit of extra help. I feel like even posting this will take a huge amount of courage, because it was so hard to write this, but I would like a bit of advice about how to heal from what my ex has done to me and to be able to express myself better (sexually that is) to J. Dr K is helping as much as she can, but I only see her once a week.

If there’s one thing I’m learning about sex, it’s that it is not what I thought it was- it’s much more exciting than I thought, and that what I had before was just pain.

Home again, emotional flashbacks, and holiday withdrawal.

Oh GOD I miss J. Seriously, like a hole inside. If not for my puppy I’d be a lot worse than I am right now- I’d be a crying wreck! He’s so calm and logical- after my last post, I went outside to the pool where J and my mum were. J was already in the pool, cooling off, and mum was enjoying a nice beer.

I had a panic attack trying to get in through the door where my dad had installed a very loud alarm- my brain entered that flight state and I started shaking and crying immediately. All that rage and terror came out in tears, but mum and J were there being awesome immediately. Mum came over took me away from the doors and hugged me til I felt better. J was there, shocked, but calm enough to tell me everything was ok, baby, and to put on my bikini and come in the pool with him to relax. Mum agreed, so I did. It worked. Tears faded, shaking stopped, and within FIFTEEN MINUTES (gotta be a new record there!) I was completely fine again, calm, and making jokes with the family and cuddling J in the cool water.

J can spot my mania immediately, and it’s impressive. Bradley has given me a great tip to manage it now I’m home again (boo, being home is not as nice as being out there with J and my family) and I’m going to start it tomorrow. I’ll set alarms on my phone that will remind me to check in with myself, and to stay calm.

So far, I’ve had a tough ride already. I’m aware that I drank too much whilst I was on holiday, so alcohol consumption has gone down a lot. Tonight, I had a cup of tea (fruit tea, orange smoothie tea!) and a glass of water as my beverages of choice. I’m doing this because when I’m manic, as I suspect I’m heading that way now, I do have poor impulse control and drink is usually the first sign of it. I’ve already had some very depressed moments, but that’s not the bipolar speaking.

That’s something else.

I’m in the midst of a bastard of an emotional flashback right now. For the past few days, I’ve felt unreal and dissociated, and horribly depressed, but the depression waned in the evening. Today it got so bad that I began acting unlike myself- snappy, withdrawn, moody, and exhausted. I even yelled at the puppy- at this point, I’m glad she’s deaf! A long sleep this afternoon fixed a lot of that, and I emerged with a better take on the world. I still didn’t understand why I was feeling like shit, but I was ready to give my day another try.

Dancing was fun and went well, and when I got home, I went upstairs to get changed. Pulling my favourite pyjama/lounge type pants on, something in my head suddenly shifted into place and I got it.

I understood that when I was with my ex, I was used as a fix. Because he was jealous of my family spending an unadulterated two weeks with me, I was often subject to derision and scorn when I got home. He’d cold shoulder me, blank me, and finally fix up a meeting with him sometime or place that was impossible for me. I’d inevitably cancel, he’d throw a fit, and then break up with me. I’d be alone, blaming myself and hating myself for nearly two months, and then he’d need his fix again. He’d pretend to relent, he’d tell me he ‘forgave me’ (er, bullshit sir, I believe you finished with me for no good reason) and we’d be back in the honeymoon phase again. Lovely.

So naturally my poor beleaguered brain still think I’m in for some horrible punishment for having fun. I’m reacting like a beaten puppy and I’m shaking in anticipation of a blow that will never fall.

J’s already been on Skype, commending me for my smarts in realising this. I’m pretty chuffed too… BUT GOD I miss him!!! He knows that, of course.

Another remarkable milestone I’ve achieved whilst away is that I’m better able to do real couple things now. I hold hands with J a lot, I’ll go for a cuddle when I fancy one, and, best of all- I was so tired one night I felt drunk, and slipping off into sleep I told J twice that I loved him. He said it back, and I heard the tenderness in his voice alongside the amused chuckle at how sleepy I was. When I asked him about it the next morning, he said I had indeed said I loved him twice and he hoped I remembered that he said it back to me.

Of course I had.

Stuff will be hard now I’m home. I’m trying to take more responsibilities this year, and I’m hoping I don’t overload myself- apparently, therapy this week with Dr K will be the start of lots of tough things for me. I am very aware there are still big issues I need to face. For instance, whilst I was in America, I had night after night of nightmares and J had to hold me to calm me down one night after I told him I was frightened to sleep. Hopefully, I will get these discussed with Dr K and she will help me become less afraid.

There are bonuses, though. I’m taking on more work so I can fund myself to get to America to see J quicker (I hope), I’m finally meeting a good friend I’ve talked to for a long while, I have a snoring puppy next to me and I’m planning dance numbers for a show. There are definite goals to achieve.

Fingers crossed that this year is the year that I get stuff solved, and not another year where I wrestle incessantly with the contents of my own head.

Hello again, America.

So, tomorrow I fly out to America again. I’m so excited to see J, but I’m worried, too. For instance, I’m worried that the security guards will pull me aside and frighten me. I’m anxious that we won’t find J in the massive airport we’re landing in. I’m really frightened that the two hour stopover in a strange airport will upset me, and I’m worried the flight will be tough for my sister. Tomorrow will be stressful enough for my family, but worse for my sister and I- she with her fear of flying, I with my PTSD. I’ll flinch and shake maybe if things don’t go right, and I’m worried about a full-scale meltdown. I hope I’ll get there and be fine- I’ll try and update tomorrow night. Right now, sleep and the last wee bit of packing beckons.

No Quarter. I am on the move.

I have a few things to talk about, a couple of things to get off my chest. Today seems like a good day- I’m back in London, missing J enormously, and my family, but overall I am feeling ok. Balanced. Happy. At long bloody last!

The journey back here was pretty good- I travelled down with a friend. She drove, I chatted at her from what felt like the wrong side of the car (apparently, I’m too used to American cars now!). I spent the first half of the journey trying to explain to CK what my depression, PTSD (finally, I got told that part of what I have is PTSD, after I don’t know HOW long telling mental health professionals that was what it was) and voice-hearing experiences were all like. She’s a kind, sweet girl, is CK, and she listened well and asked questions.

Before I came back to London, I had the appointment with the psychotherapist that I was dreading. I am now so scarred by psychiatrists and fucking assessments that I was sure this would be another put-down: “Get back in your place, crazy bitch. You’ve already got a diagnosis (lies), why the hell do you need or want help?”

Actually, it turned out to be a little different.

I brought my mum with me- she of the awesomely strong backbone- in case I needed her to back me up. I wanted to get across that my personality is NOT fucking disordered, that I NEED help for the trauma I have suffered, and that I am really quite desperate to get better and not worse.

The receptionist gave me the same bloody forms to fill out, and I filled them back out again with impatience. Seriously, I had done this so many times I was bloody sick to death of the sight of the stupid fucking forms. Mum looked over my shoulder until I got to the difficult bits, and then I turned so my back was to her. She stroked my back and said she was sorry, she was just being nosey. I didn’t mind, it’s just hard to write about voices that want you dead with the mother who still sees you as her baby watching.

When I gave in the forms and was called in, the psychotherapist said to my mum that we would only be half an hour, to which mum said that she would rather come in with me. So with a little bit of further argument, we all went in.

At this point the psychotherapist, M, explained that if therapy was to work for me, I would really have to see her alone. I was still like an abused dog at this point, distrustful and ready to snap, so I told her I understood that but my mum was there to tell M that I truly did need therapy, and to be my backup in case I wasn’t believed. M was shocked, I think, beneath her professional demeanour, by how determined both my mother and I were about me getting help. Also, I think the fact that I told her that so far, I didn’t feel helped or believed must have been a bit of a blow to the gut for her. It’s true, though. J is shocked by how little help I have received, as was his good friend.

We came to an agreement- I would stay alone, and M would listen to me. Mum left, and I felt alone, skeptical, and desperate.

M and I didn’t really talk about the symptoms I was experiencing too much- she wanted to know why I wanted therapy. Why the fuck do they ask these questions of someone who has been asking for therapy for months is beyond me. I did tell her, like I have told many other mental health professionals, that I am desperate for help because I cannot manage my distress. I cannot live life searching the street for a tall, broad-shouldered man with curly hair. I do not want to wake up screaming from my nightmares any longer, nor do I want to lie awake in bed and pray that eventually, I will be able to sleep without seeing images of the assault/s (yeah, I’ve deduced that every time I didn’t want to but I was too frightened to say no was the same) flooding my mind.

I told her how frightened of strange men I am, how much fear floods me if I think I have seen him in the street. I told her how the voices will still tell me I am making this up, and I told her how I hear three of them.

I think I’ve been listened to, because M finally told me she was putting me on the waiting list for therapy. She challenged some of my thought processes, too- the mark of a good therapist, I feel, especially if thee thought processes are irrational or frightening. She told me I would have to be back in my hometown for therapy, and that I might have to wait up to four months for therapy.

So far, so good, ish. At least now I have a chance to heal properly, with help from a professional. I wanted this, and I finally have it.

Moving on from the appointment and its fantastic outcome, I had the most amazing time in America. I know I’ve already written about this before, but I have a head flooded with memories of the calmest, safest three weeks I have lived since becoming depressed again. Certain turns of phrase will have me laughing out loud, certain songs make me shiver or smile or just feel safe. J sent me lots of silly e-cards on Valentines Day, featuring our favourite serial killer, Dexter. Seeing those made me forget the horrible Valentines Day argument with my ex and remember instead the cosy, warm nights we both spent on the couch, curled up together and munching through season after season of the series.

I loved it so much out there that I am already £70 up towards my goal of going back there asap. I have already done two shifts since arriving back in London, and my social anxiety whilst working is minimal because I am so focussed on what I have to do.

So, a mixed bag… but in all, there is a reason I am feeling positive, and that reason is that I can finally stop grasping at straws and reach for my life again.

Between sheets.

My last posts were angry and powerless and upset. I felt betrayed, alone, weak.

I feel different, so different now.

I have broken a pattern. I have done something so brave I want to tell everyone about it. I feel like I’m changing again- another layer of the chrysalis peeling away.

I am in America with J.

I flew to meet him, an eight hour rough-and-tumble through cotton clouds to the place he calls home. His face lit up when he saw me, his smile the anchor I have been waiting so desperately for. I ran to him, dropped my case, threw hungry arms round him and sighed in relief.

He treats me like a princess. He calls me doll, and hon, and baby. I’m not used to these Americanisms, but in his smooth drawl they rock my world. He strokes my hair, holds me if I’m frightened.

He makes me laugh so hard. He took me to meet his friends and my usual terror vanished, and I slotted right in there with them. I felt happy and peaceful, and I feel like my old self.

That girl I love who is not shattered into a million fragments of the past.

I burn when he touches me. I’ve felt that since Florida, but memories of the painful past and images of trauma used to flood my mind and prevent my natural boldness from surfacing. He understands that. Even better, I lead, I command, I control. He asks me to, he tells me I have to say if I am upset or frightened.

The first time we lay between sheets together, I cried in happiness when it was over. My body thrilled, my mind rejoiced with it. I am free of the vicious chains of abuse, and it feels like I am healing some of the deepest hurts I have suffered. He asked me if I was sure. He held me as I cried, and told me I didn’t need to apologise for crying. He knew I needed the comfort and he gave it to me.

I am safe here.

 

He is my knight in shining armour, this brave man. Despite his own demons, he helps me tackle mine.