Little Red Riding Hood. (TW: body stuff)

Trigger Warning guys- I talk about a triggering memory, body issues, and my feelings on all of that. Stay safe. x

This could well be a bunch of my random musings. I’m feeling a little distractible and dissociative today, floating on my after-therapy cloud. I feel like I’m hiding inside my own head, letting my body take over and do adult things so that I can just hide and not have to face anything tougher than ordering a coffee.

I feel like today’s session was a rest. I am so tired with all the frantic busyness of the week before but the late sunsets make it very difficult to sleep. I lie awake, hyper-aware of my body, telling myself it will all be ok soon. I hope.

What struck me about today was that I’m realising that connections I could have made years ago are only now being made due to how much I’m actually able to face them. Certain memories that have always haunted me and made me uncomfortable are actually not the stand alone events I thought they once were.

I have a lot of uncomfortable feelings about my body and sexuality, and I believe that quite a lot of that stems from a memory which has always been difficult for me to remember. As I was writing in my journal today, I had what was pretty much a flashback.

I’m fifteen. I’m going to my new boyfriend’s house- well, the place he stays during the week with his grandparents so he can get to school easier. I’m excited and nervous. I’m going out with someone who says God has given us both a special purpose, that we’re angels in human form, that we will defeat the antichrist and save the world. I lap it up eagerly, mania helping me to swallow the lies.

He gets handsy, but I’m ok with that. In fact, when his hand slips down the front of my jeans I’m not worried, I’m excited. So excited I have my first proper orgasm and my jeans and knickers are soaked.

I’m confused. I knew I could get excited but this is new. He seems to find it exciting too and I’m pleased that he finds me attractive.

Problem is, once he’s finished, we head back to his and I’m left sitting in my soaked clothing.

There’s no offer of help, no jointly-concocted lie about me sitting in a puddle on a park bench. I’m just left wet and embarrassed and uncomfortable, and I’m so embarrassed when my mother asks me about the “funny-smelling” jeans and underwear I threw in the wash.

Clearly that means I’m dirty. I’m ashamed of how excited I got and guilty. I lie to my mother a few days later about sitting in a puddle on a park bench, and when I start bleeding whist passing water, I know I’m being punished for what I did. I’m a dirty whore, clearly.

Antibiotics cleared the infection but my sense of cleanliness altered. I felt ashamed and dirty a lot. Clearly, this incident connects to much of my bad feelings about my body today- my horror of myself, my suspicions that I’m infected by him, that somewhere in my psyche he planted a warped seed and laughed at me as it grew. I always feel dirty. I’ve scrubbed my skin raw today in the shower, as I do often, and I’m paranoid about infections or illnesses very often. I tell myself that I’m anxious, that eventually these symptoms will fade, and they do.

I felt like little red riding hood in town on the way home today, lost in the forest and worried about her family. I got off the bus and stumbled across the path of a real live wolf… Except this one didn’t have his teeth bared at me.

I have known Wolf from seeing him at the hospital where I go for therapy with Dr K. He’s tall, well-muscled, close to fifty and tattooed everywhere. Even his lips are tattooed. However, despite his fearsome appearance, he’s a loyal and gentle friend. We talked today, and instead of blowing the house down, he offered me a cool lemonade at my favourite coffee shop.

This wolf believes in the choices others make. He says that although he also came from a background of abuse, he chose the path of righteousness- he patrols the town centre 7 hours a day because he wants to keep others safe. I always count myself lucky that I didn’t meet one of those wolves that will rip you apart, and that I met a wolf that isn’t what the hunters make him out to be.

When I left him today, he gave me a little gift. An angel pin, the head of it a pearl. He’s told me before that my name is in the city of angels, only one letter different from its earthly form. Although I don’t know what to believe, I like that he thought of me and that he’s smart, understanding, generous and kind.

There are a lot of wolves out there, and some like to rip you apart for liking the colour red. My ex and his grandad were like that- terrible, starving, vicious monsters craving my destruction. Wolf himself hates people like that, having been surrounded by them in his life once.

J is a wolf too I think, but more often than not, he’s the wolf that would fight any threat to protect me and is constantly, neverendingly loyal to me as his partner. He’s helped me lick my wounds and curled his body round mine when I’ve felt as dirty and nauseated as I have been feeling right now.

Little red riding hood and the wolf doesn’t end with a human slicing open the stomach of the beast, pulling the girl out of the darkness. It takes a cunning beast to catch a monster, and a wild heart to love a damaged girl once trapped in the belly of the monster that swallowed her whole.

It’s a good job there are only a few rogue wolves out there, and that the rest of the pack takes care of the weaker ones. I may be injured, but the other wolves I know will not stop growling at the darkness until it goes away.

I will keep wearing my red cape without any shame, bloodstains and all. I don’t need to be ashamed- I never asked the monster to eat me after all.

TW: little one.

I barely have words for this.

I’ve been doing better- dissociative, absent-minded maybe, but better. And now it’s nearly July and I had my miscarriage then, and I am currently bleeding because I forgot to take a pill two days ago.

It’s bringing back memories of the horror of realising I was pregnant and pretty much immediately after that realising my marble was dead, my baby was gone. I have that hollow emptiness between my hipbones again where life should have grown. I am not cradling a three year old girl or boy in my arms, soothing my little one to sleep. I’m ragged and in pain, bleeding just like I did then.

I thought I had managed to put this aside a bit better than this, but I think that my body has not finished grieving yet. It’s still grieving for all the sorrows, crying out for all the times it was hurt and couldn’t do anything to stop it.

I hope I stop bleeding soon. I keep thinking that there’s something wrong, but what’s really wrong is that someone once put me through so much emotional pain that I lost my child.

I think I will have to ring the phone number the doctor gave me for the rape crisis centre near me. I think it’s time to find out what’s happening with my body, and to let myself continue to grieve for a dream that never happened.

Therapy is not for the faint hearted.

EDIT: PTSD has screwed up my timelines. I was fifteen, not fourteen, when this all happened- still, I was a child.

I have held off writing about this because I have not wanted to. It’s too much. It validates some of the weird almost-phobias I have about certain things and the anxiety that comes with them.

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING. I’m going to talk about some really upsetting stuff. I was FOURTEEN when it happened and I’m still struggling to really process it without dissociating and feeling weird.

Ok, on with this.

I’ve been neglecting my WordPress account as of late. I have been overwhelmingly happy. That sounds good, but I’m actually realising that I’m hypomanic. It’s the first time I’ve caught the feeling so early, the first time I’ve realised that I’m starting on the rollercoaster of mania again. I am praying that I don’t get too far ahead with it and that it doesn’t make me ill again. The crashes are almost more than I can bear. J spotted my mania for what it was, and actually, Dr K picked up on it, asking me if I felt speeded-up when I was in therapy on Thursday. She was right- I felt like my head was buzzing and the thoughts were just zooming round, three thoughts a nanosecond. She encouraged me to take some deep breaths, massage my temples, try and breathe through the rattling, zinging thoughts bouncing in my skull.

I kept thinking that there was something I wanted to tell her. I was trying to pin a thought down to tell her about, but the overlying detritus in my skull kept distracting me. I’m horribly distractible at the minute- it’s awful, I feel fragmented. Happy, loud, joyful, but all over the place.

We kept talking. I felt irritated with myself, annoyed that Dr K must think I was wasting time. We started talking about the Church again, that I might be feeling manic because it’s just been Easter and I used to get so manic at Easter because of Spring Harvest, the Christian event I used to go to. I was talking about how the Church often made me feel dirty, guilty, wrong, for enjoying sex or thinking about it even, but then something stormed into my mind and I was swamped by it.

Here was that elusive thought I had been chasing. Here was that thing that had been evading my grasp in the darkest corners of my psyche- a shameful memory that I’d pushed away every time I’d thought of it. I suddenly remembered- and I told Dr K about something that happened when I was newly in that six-year relationship with my ex.

I’m having problems writing this now. I am actually shying away from it again, shying away from the awkwardness, the upset, the hurt and the pain of a fourteen-year-old girl. I’m trying to quell my anxiety and tell it that I was not to blame, that I was fourteen and I was innocent. Dr K and I talked about that, my innocence. She called me a lamb to the slaughter. She was right.

I was adventurous with my ex, at fourteen. I was in love and full of hormones and trying to control them, because the Church told me I was a sinner if I didn’t stay totally pure… problem was, my ex was good at flattering his way through my defences. I succumbed gladly, letting him in, and I would deal with the guilt later. I didn’t want the Church or my parents to find out that I was enjoying getting close to my new boyfriend. I wanted to enjoy our teenage make-out sessions, I didn’t want to let the guilt swallow me or be banned from seeing him.

That time, we were round at his grandparents’ house. He had been sent to live there at the age of eleven, ostensibly to attend the nearby secondary school, but I remember him telling me that he had hit his sister when he was younger. I suspect more than hitting happened to that poor girl, but I will never know. At any rate, he treated his grandparents as second parents, and they idolised him, particularly his grandfather. D was a tall, stout man, loud and cheerful, often ready with a glass of wine for me and my ex and a home-made dinner on the table. His wife was sweet and kind, quite quiet, and an excellent cook with a nice smile. I took to them pretty quickly.

I’d been to my ex’s grandparents’ house before, but this time when the two of us went off upstairs, my ex left the door open a bit. I was confused. When I went to shut the door, he explained that he needed to leave it like that so he could hear if his grandfather came upstairs. I was nervous and uncomfortable, but my ex soon stopped those feelings with well-placed seduction, and soon, I wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing. He had most of his still on.

I didn’t hear anything to start with, I was too distracted, but there was a squeak of floorboards and I noticed that my ex’s grandad, D, was walking away from the door down the hall towards the room next door. I jerked upright and asked my ex if he had seen us. He told me that he was sure he hadn’t seen anything, and tried to get me to resume what we’d just been doing. I still felt uncomfortable and weird and asked him if I should put some clothes on. He still said it was fine and that I should get back to what we were doing. I slipped into the bedcovers, pulling them up above my breasts, and asked him if D could hear us. My ex said no, he couldn’t, he was on the computer in the other room and would be there for a long time. Eventually he persuaded me to get back to what we were doing before, but I now jumped at every squeaky floorboard and didn’t feel comfortable in the slightest.

Dr K asked whether I wondered whether the two had talked together about this, and I explained that yes, they had. My ex had casually told me over the phone the very next night that his grandad had seen us together and next time I went there to visit, we were to keep the door shut and he would knock if he wanted us.

I had never felt quite as ashamed of myself as that moment. His grandfather had seen me naked, in the throes of passion. He’d seen me giving myself to someone I thought I could trust. In that moment, I was completely humiliated.

That’s not the worst of it by far.

After that incident, the door was kept shut sometimes, but other times it ‘somehow’ crept open again. I often bumped into D when returning from the bathroom. The hugs D would give me got longer, and he had added a kiss on the cheek to his greeting to me. I was often the subject of discussion at the dinner table- or maybe, should I say, my anatomy was the subject of discussion- my ‘nice legs’, the top that showed too much cleavage and resulted in D fanning himself with a large hand. I felt permanently uncomfortable at that house, always watched, always observed and commented on. My ex and D would banter back and forth over the table, D sometimes slipping me into conversation in a really inappropriate way, usually under the guise of congratulating my ex that he was going out with me. D’s wife and I would sit and laugh, or at least, we’d pretend to. That woman was as much under the thumb as I was, and I feel awful that she’s still there.

Dr K then voiced the awful link that I’d been trying to deny.

She wondered aloud whether my ex and his grandfather had set me up between them.

All of a sudden, the feelings I was flooded with in Dr K’s office were the feelings of a hurt, scared fourteen-year-old. I sniffed, child-like all of a sudden, and I said, “But that’s not fair…”

I cried like a child then. My bottom lip wobbled as it hasn’t done since I was about that age. Dr K gently explained that if this was true, I was being groomed, at that age, to take whatever my ex wanted to dish out on me next. I was certain of it, I explained back to her- why the hell would you leave a door open if you wanted to mess about?! Why was D in the room next door for so long when there was no computer up there?! Why was I always the butt of the jokes, the object for admiration, the target of the most awful shame I’d ever had then? My hurt, fourteen-year-old self convinced it was her who was the dirty one, that it was her who should have been better, purer, that she should have said no to sex. She stopped wearing skirts and dresses because of the boy she was dating sliding his hands under them at every opportunity, in the wrong places, in front of his fucking grandfather at the dinner table…

Dr K let me sob for at least fifteen minutes, talking to me as I grieved for a piece of my past that should not have been that way. I was fourteen. Fourteen-year-olds should not be displayed like a piece of meat as a favour to some perverted old man. I feel disgusted even now, thinking about D, and I still look out for him in the supermarket, in the street, driving in his car…

Dr K was amazing whilst I sat and let it sink in that truly, it was NOT my fault that I ended up so badly abused whilst with my ex- he was only copying what he’d seen his father and grandfather do. Dr K thinks the whole family is riddled with abuse and pain, and he was passing on what was normal- although, he saw the whole episode mentioned above as a joke, so Dr K agrees with me that he KNEW it was bad and awful, what he did, but my ex did it anyway because that’s who he is.

I thought about the messed up, mixed up kid I was then and let her know (that part of me that is her, who’s hidden this memory’s awful consequences deep inside her) that I didn’t blame her or think she was bad. I thought the Church was bad, that D and my ex were awful, that Dr K thought I was ‘an innocent flower’. Someone described like that could never be wicked or bad, or deserve what they got. I managed to calm down slowly, realise where I was again, let Dr K ground me and help me to remember where I was and what was happening today and now.

I am shocked that this happened to me. I know that this memory is completely true, because I kept shoving it down into the darkness in my head whenever it came bouncing out again. I need only see a certain front door or see a certain car and I’m back there again, on that sunny day where he and his pervert of a grandfather robbed me of my dignity.

I was aware that therapy would not be easy, but I never knew that it would be this tough.

I hope that I can, one day, tell this to my parents, but I doubt it. I will have to put some other spin on it to make it more palatable for them, because they’re still Christians and I broke every fucking purity law in the book when that happened to me. I know that part of them would be horrified for me, but I wonder whether part of them will be horrified with me for doing what I did. I hope not.

I’ve hinted to J that I remembered a bad thing, but we haven’t had time to chat tonight- he’s had a bad day and needs to rest. That’s ok. When he can be strong enough again, when he feels ok, I’ll tell him. That will probably be tomorrow. If I can’t tell him directly, I will send him this post to let him know that although this happened to me, it can’t affect us. I refuse to let two scumbags even impact in any way the amazing thing I have with J.

I cling to the fact that he has seen me at my worst, that he was one of the first people I confessed the first rape to, the person I rang at three in the morning in fear for my life and the person who quelled a panic attack in fifteen minutes flat, fought my voices and won, and loves me for the person I am under all my issues.

Flashback and dissociation- TRIGGER WARNING. Please ONLY read if you feel safe.

I had a flashback in therapy yesterday.

It was the worst one I’ve ever had. I was not expecting it- there were none of the usual signs, like seeing hallucinations of my ex or constantly jumping at loud noises. I had been feeling dissociative all week (since I last wrote, Crisis Team have been seeing me daily) and I’d been squeezing onto a worry stone I was given by H to try and ground me, to keep me in the present. I didn’t know that was a sign for a flashback, but apparently therapy is tapping into places in my head where I can’t remember what happened consciously, but my subconscious knows all too fucking well and it poured out.

I came into therapy feeling jumpy and shot through with adrenaline so I tried to calm myself with the little buddha garden they have in reception. I stroked the rake through the sand, watching the grains trickle by, and started feeling a little better. Then Dr K came for me and we went to her office, only I’m not sure what she was saying and I can’t really remember how we started out conversation and it scares me because normally if I dissociate, some little part of me knows where I am and what’s happening. I just feel like I’m floating away and I’m outside my body, watching my life happen, but this has been different recently and I have been unable to remember huge chunks of my day.

Dr K asked me if I was ok because I looked like I was going to have a migraine, and I remember asking her to turn the light off, and then suddenly it was off, and the heater was going, the noise started to swirl and I couldn’t hear Dr K’s voice any more properly and I was being sucked through the back of my chair into a vortex. Dr K started asking me what was happening and I told her that I felt like I was travelling back in time. She asked me to hold my hand, my younger self’s hand, or maybe take J with me. I did both- J on one side, me on the other, and I travelled in this light place with images and scenes from my life flashing all around.

Suddenly I was sitting in my old flat in London. I was in the corner of my bed, that rickety thing that would squeak even if you rolled over. The curtains were drawn, the light dim, and there were clothes everywhere. His coat was on the computer chair, his shoes under it. His shirt hanging over his back on the foot of the bed.

I was terrified. The covers were all over. The blanket was neatly folded on the floor and the two toys I treasured the most from my childhood were lying on the floor on top of it. I was chilled, numb, shaking, in pain. I was naked from the waist down, knees drawn up to my chin, feet crossed, head buried in my knees. I pulled the covers over me, wrapping myself in a nest. The bedding was my parents’, and even that wasn’t helping me to feel safe.

The back of my neck hurt like hell, ached like I’d been trying to hold it up. My lower stomach was creased in agony. There was blood on the bedsheets. Lower still, I smarted and stung and throbbed. I wanted to get the pyjama bottoms that were on the floor, I wanted to reach out and hold my two toys close to me. I wanted to run out of the door, even dressed how I was, but I couldn;t because he was suddenly in the doorway.

Dr K’s voice guided me, asked about what I could see, asked me how I felt, asked what was happening. I knew he wanted to start again. He was asking why I had wrapped the duvet round me. He wanted to know why I wasn’t waiting for him. He put his hands on the back of my neck and I pushed them away under Dr K’s guidance.

I knew what he wanted- sex, again, until he had had enough. It didn’t matter what I wanted. I had no right to say no. I felt sick, shaking, dreading the next thing, but numb on top of all that so he couldn’t see.

Dr K asked me to push him away, out of the doorway of my room, so I did- he fell, down a huge black gaping tunnel, and I resurfaced, crying and shaking and panting for air and scrambling for words.

I kept asking her if what I had just been through was real. I wanted to know if I was still there but also if this was a real memory, if I really had seen what happened after that time that I was in pain having sex and asked him to stop and he just carried on. I documented that here, in a post called the worst thing. Dr K said that she thought so, and she thought I was brave, and that I was safe and I was with her in hospital and I didn’t need to feel afraid any more.

I spent the rest of the session recovering. I hurt still, and Dr K explained that I had felt the pain then but blocked it off, and I was feeling it now. I had to just remember I was safe and he could never touch me like that again. She said to go home and curl up maybe, sleep, wrap myself up and remember I could look after myself however I wanted.

I did. I had an hour before teaching to recover where I just read, wrote in my journal, and taught in a determinedly present way, then went home and slept and cuddled my puppy dog. She slept curled up in my legs again, soft little head resting in the crook of my bent knees.

That was the hardest thing I’ve ever written, apart from one other thing. I wrote about my awful flashback on my wall on my social media account as part of the take five day.

I have received so many positive comments and so many messages of support over my post, even though it was much less detailed than this. So many of my friends and best friends have supported me by commenting on what I wrote. Their words were incredibly loving and welcome, and I had tears in my eyes, reading them all.

Best of all? J and I have just finished a long Skype conversation where quite a while was spent with me explaining what I’d been through, and him trying to understand, but still accepting it and loving me for who I am. He was there with me in therapy, and he was there with me tonight as I scrambled to make sense of it all, and to explain it to him- someone I truly love. It’s the one thing that will help me sleep tonight as I pick my way through my shattered, broken memories. I know he is holding my hand.

Denial is a powerful thing.

I think I’ve been in denial about something that’s glaringly obvious to Dr K. Not only that, but another fellow blogger, the lovely BDLheart ( http://bdlheart.com/ ), can also see it. I mean, gods, even J can see it.

In floods of tears last week, I told Dr K about how dreadfully ill and run down I was feeling. She listened as I described my mothers head-buried-in-sand attitude to my mental health crisis, and she said, ‘I knew there was trouble at home.’

Since I’ve met her, I have always denied any sort of upset at home. I always said I had a wonderful childhood, which wasn’t wrong. The problem is that along with the lovely things, like trips out and long summer afternoons playing with my dog and sister in the garden, I had always buried the not so nice things.

Things like when my mum realised we had not picked up my cousin for gymnastics and she was left waiting at school, my sensible plan to be dropped off at gym first (we were literally within walking distance when she remembered) and for my mum to zoom off to get her was met with a smack across the back of my hand.

Things like being screamed at for the fact I couldn’t remember in the slightest how to do fractions.

Things like accidentally saying a rude word and then having the silent treatment all afternoon.

Things like that.

BDLheart told me this:

“Take care of yourself. Your mom sounds a lot like mine. They can sufficate us if we’re not careful. I get stressed regarding work when I sleep poorly because of dreams, etc. Just rest and write.”

I went on to read a post of hers, and instead of feeling the usual ‘oh no, that’s not quite like my mum, she can just be a little difficult,’ I felt like someone finally got me. I read the story about painting a duck, in all its visceral realism, and remembered all the time my mum spent tutoring me to get into the local private school. Often I had to write stories, and often I was set a time limit and I was left to write alone. I hated this because I felt like my literary efforts were being mocked. My mum would get very sharp with me if I forgot paragraph rules, or misspelled something. It always felt like I could do better and it was always my fault when it wasn’t better.

I’ve denied that my mum can be cruel my whole life. I have negated incidents such as those above and others with alarming finality. No, it was my fault she did that because I was annoying and not concentrating. It was my fault that she screamed at me at home after ballet because I was being too chatty in class. It was all my fault and I was a bad kid sometimes.

Thing is, I’m sure Dr K would tell me to imagine this being ME and a child I know in place of my mother and I. I’m picturing now this sweet, adorable, cheeky monkey of a six year old who is the child of a close friend of mine. I’m trying to picture slapping him on the hand, or screaming at him for messing around in class, or even getting snippy with him for no reason…

Every time I try, I can see his sweet, mischievous face crease up in pain and shock, and tears pour down his face. Of course I pull away from that horrible image as though burned.

How can you scream at a six year old like that? I know they are frustrating and irritating, and can be smartasses and rude to boot. Thing is, they’re only children and quite often just need something explaining to them to make it click, or a firm but fair word in their ears. The only way I could ever condone screaming at a child like that is… never. I can’t picture it or do it so why should it happen?

I remember being really small and accidentally insulting an auntie. I didn’t mean to- I found her long, beautiful white teeth rather fascinating, and I remembered that horses had the same long, beautiful white teeth. Predictably enough, mum was horrified and shocked when I informed my auntie she had horse teeth, and sternly told me to apologise immediately when I had no clue what for. However my auntie was seized by a fit of giggles, which caught me too, and she averted a tense situation with her hysterical giggles. I remember that as being something a little revolutionary- if you made an honest mistake, it was ok not to be shouted at.

For years I never went to my mum if there was a problem. I’m pretty certain that’s because I was terrified of the legendary cold shoulder and the wrath that would come with me making a mistake. It’s three in the morning and eight-year-old me is feeling really sick. I wouldn’t wake mum up- I’d take myself to the bathroom, throw up horribly, and then go back to bed like nothing had happened and tell her in the morning. Sometimes, she’d wake up and hear me, but the response when she found out I’d been sick was always the same.

“Why didn’t you come and tell me?!”

After years and years of utter mystery, I know why.

Because I was too scared.

Dealing with vomiting by myself was easier than getting her out of bed. She doesn’t sleep well, so I thought that it was probably a bad idea to wake her if she was sleeping and I’d probably get in trouble for it. Of course, I don’t think I would have, but better to be safe than sorry, hey? I’d get up, throw up, and go back to bed. Same used to go for periods. Oh dear, in agony at four in the morning? That’s fine. Go downstairs, sort out pills and microwave a heat pad and go back to bed yourself, making sure to set and unset the alarm as needs be. My first period was at eleven, so I’d do this regularly from then. Same logic appeared in my child mind: if you wake your mum, you don’t know if she will be angry or not, so why risk it?

I fear conflict because it’s terrifying to have someone at least twice your height screaming at you about chatting in class. Yes, she was under stress because she was losing her auntie to cancer. Yes, her sister had started down the anorexia pathway again. Yes, my dad was at work a lot and basically on a terrible, exploitative contract. But there was no real excuse to chew my ear off so badly about one incident that she had me in tears begging not to have to leave the family dance school. She had threatened to kick me out of the school I don’t know how many times as a young girl, and every time was as devastating as the last.

I used to believe that this was just all ordinary childhood trauma, but I actually don’t think it is all that ordinary now. Dad was working a lot so he couldn’t be with my sister and I as much as mum, but I remember that he would only raise his voice if truly necessary. Mostly, his disappointment in us was sufficient for the two of us to apologise and get on with it. I’d always go to dad if I wanted to see a friend at the weekend because mum would always say no, regardless of whether or not we were free. It seemed when I was little, there was little room for negotiation and her word was always the last.

I thought she had mellowed a lot as I got older, and she has done for sure, but the problem then was that there were things I clashed with her about. We had some almighty rows about my Advanced ballet exam. I was under the thrall of my ex then too, but I continually felt like I was between a rock and a hard place with the two of them. She wanted me in the studio permanently, with what felt like no breaks: he wanted me permanently with him and wasn’t afraid to let my mum know that. So, of course, when he sent her rude texts, I was the one to blame because I’d let him say that to her. Did I have nothing to say? Was I as bad as him? How dare I!?

I don’t think any of this really constitutes as abuse, but I think it does constitute my mum re-enacting her own trauma onto me. Her mother was very emotionally unavailable throughout a lot of my mum’s life and she has been damaged through that. When I feel a messy, complicated emotion, my mum goes to pieces because she was never adequately taught how to deal with that emotion when she felt it, so how could she have the tools to teach me? So instead, work goes on top of it to mask it all and bury it deep, and I’m denied the acknowledgement of my emotion because that’s not possible. There’s not rulebook for that.

I was talking to her about my ex again. I do it a lot- she needs to know what I’m suffering, and she has no idea really what’s happening in a daily basis in my head. I know she didn’t mean this to hurt, but it did.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she said, “but I’m going to be so glad when you don’t talk about your ex any more. It means you will have moved on.”

Oh gods, where do I even begin with that one?!

I will NEVER stop talking about my ex. NEVER. Does she expect her sister to stop talking about the man who she was married to who abused her? At the time, I said that I understood her comment, but now I know that what she really means is that when I stop talking about my ex, I’ll be that smiley smiley always happy girl who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, and I’ll be TOTALLY BETTER and COMPLETELY OVER HIM.

Newsflash- this is forever, and the reason I will not stop talking about his myriad cruelties is to EDUCATE.

Now the denial has faded, I’m beginning to understand so much more about why I have felt so horrible for so long. I was trying to protect myself from a mother who can only be emotionally available about certain things, and is too frightened to be emotionally available about so many others. It’s a scary place to be and I now understand why my ex got his hooks into me- I needed that emotional availability from someone else.

Thank gods I have my friends and J. They will never ask me to stop speaking out.

I’m going to ask if anyone else has any advice for me on this subject, please post me a comment. I feel like I need a little guidance on this as it’s left me feeling scared again.

Crashing down.

So the inevitable crash came. I’m sorry I didn’t blog properly in so long- truth be told, I’ve been struggling since before the new year began and I’m so exhausted. Nightmares or lucid dreams plague me and I toss and turn, and wake up almost every hour to check if the door is still shut and he’s not bursting through it.

I went to therapy yesterday still trying to pretend to myself I was ok, when my Moodscope scores have been saying the opposite for a while. No scores have been above 50 this whole month. I’m drained and I need rest. Dr K has been concerned about me for the past three weeks and she let me just cry yesterday in her office. I sobbed almost the whole time I was with her and that hasn’t happened since the early days of therapy when all I could do was cry. I felt so dissociative and I told her so, and I told her that I felt a lot of the time like I was pretending again. I read a blog post recently from Shedding Light on Darkness (thank you so much for writing that) that said something about lying to yourself. I’d been telling myself that I was fine with working straight after therapy on a Thursday and that I was processing it all, when really it comes out in dreams and I saw one of the weird shadows again, plus I hear the voics more regularly at the minute. I was falling down out of the sky with no parachute and trying to pretend I was flying.

It’s like all the stuff I’ve been trying to work on, to process through my system, has been being neatly unpackaged for an hour a week, given some thought, and then I’ve tried to stick it back into the box and leave therapy. Problem is, the minute you give memories and feelings like those any attention, they gain a life of their own and come crashing through your system, so I’ve had some horrible dreams recently, some horrible bad day, thoughts of self harm and suicide. I’m rambling in my speech again, and I can’t always think of the word I need to describe something important. I called the hall table the ‘ front desk’ the other day. Nobody thought it was a warning sign, they thought it was funny.

This is still a huge problem. I wrote a ‘How to Handle your PTSD-stricken daughter’ letter to my parents. I think Dad is getting it but the problem is he works a long way away from home all day, so basically it’s mum who takes care of me and she has no clue what she’s doing. Despite that letter, despite all the things I tell her on a day to day basis about PTSD and abusive relationships, despite the sliding scale I drew of my moods…

Yesterday after therapy, Dr K and I were drawing up a plan of action. She was worried about how unwell I was and how thin and gaunt I’d become. She wanted me to have a rest, but I knew how that would go down (and in fact, how it has gone down,) with my mum. When I left therapy I was daunted by the size of the task ahead: tell my mum and sister just how bad things were, ask for a week off, try and get a lock put on my door.

I told mum how bad I felt in a heartfelt cry for help, tears running down my cheeks and a huge pain in my chest. She blinked, looked at me, and said, “well I’m teaching now, and you will have to teach your second class.”

Then she walked off.

She wasn’t even going to bring it up that evening. She was going to try to jolly me along and make me smile again so I could go back to being the smiley smiley girl everyone wants to see.

I couldn’t deal with that. So me, my dad and her had a conversation about what the problem was, and I’m still getting nowhere with her.

It’s the same sort of stuff all over again. “Working makes you happy. Working gives you a purpose. Not working makes you depressed. Work is a distraction. Work is not what made you crash last time. Believe in yourself.”

So many problems with all that.

Working like I am doing at the minute does not make me happy. I hate it. I hate Mondays with a passion. I hate Tuesdays more. I drag myself through the working week like I have no legs and I can’t walk. I don’t sleep well Wednesday nights then I’m forced to get up on Thursday to get to therapy, which is the only highlight, and then basically I’m slamming all the tough emotions and feeling straight back into the box to teach again.

I don’t really want to teach for life. I’m not interested in examining dance any more, and I want to write as a career now, more than anything. I’m done with teaching already but I need it to be able to fund the set-up of a life with J maybe, or the start of my massage business. Not working does not make me depressed- I feel that actually having time to process all the tough emotions that happen to emerge after therapy HELPS. I’m more productive afterwards if I’m able to feel bad and curl up in a ball with the dog. Work is a huge distraction- so big that it takes up my whole fucking life and leave me with nothing else at the end of the day. I still have a limited amount of energy, and it’s all wasted on work and not on self-care. I’m so drained at the end of a day that I can barely muster the energy to call J.

Work is precisely what made me crash last time. I am so on edge and exhausted, and I feel like working has heaped strain on my head harder than not doing so would. I don’t mind if my mum used work as an escape, but I don’t want to do that any more because that’s what sent me into hospital last time. I’ll be there again soon if I don’t do something about it.

All the self-belief in the world will not help if I commit suicide (or attempt again) because I am simply doing too much to process what I’m digging up in therapy. I’m not going to lie to myself any more and pretend I can compromise and just nod my head and go along with whatever anyone says other than me because that’s what I did with him. Now look where I am. Mired in severe PTSD, exhausted, and nearly without options.

I want to be with J more than anything. I miss him so much, and I need his reassuring presence. Even just having him in the room with me sometimes improves my mood. I want sleep that heals, not that fills me full of nightmares. I want no voices in my head any more, they’re scaring me again. I also want to be listened to- still not having the lock put on my door because I self-harmed in the past, and regardless of the fact that several times I actually self-harmed in public with no locked doors, I still don’t get my wishes respected. I need a lock. I need to feel safe. I hate having to change in my room because there is no lock on the door and I feel vulnerable, and it doesn’t matter how many times I ask mum to knock, she will still barge in uninvited and pretend she is surprised when I’m literally just out of the shower in a towel. I have no fucking privacy- I hide all my old journals, because she’d read them without a second thought despite the fact I’m an adult woman.

This all needs to change or I will keep crashing down and someday I’ll burn out, and there will just be a shell left of me.

Dr K and I are working on all this and I think that we need to have a meeting with my mum at some point. She’s scared and cynical of Dr K. She says Dr K is planting the idea that I should never work in my head. Mum actively tried to get me some work last night with MY massage business that I haven’t even set up yet!! She was trying to book me an appointment to massage somebody on Saturday at two! I teach all day on a Saturday, and the massage business is MY business, not hers. I am so tired of trying to do what I want only for it to get subverted by my mum. The lock is a sticking point and so is this. I told her I couldn’t deal with any more work, yet here she is trying to set up more. It’s not just to build a future for me, it’s so I don’t feel any messy emotion near her and I’m that happy smiley FAKE girl ALL THE TIME. JUST LIKE HE WANTED.

Enough is enough. I’m taking the week off this week or I will end up in hospital. I’m exhausted and just need space, and I need to be understood.

Otherwise, I’ll end up back on the mental health ward again and it will be another three weeks before I’m allowed out.

Last year, this year.

Last year, I had no energy to send any proper presents to anyone. I was four months away from the break with reality that hospitalised me. I was exhausted and upset and scrambling over voices and hallucinations.

This year, I was heading into town to see my friend and I saw my ex.

There he was, standing under the notice boards. He wasn’t a hallucination. He was real.

I ran. I fled. My heart hammering, my eyes wide, head turning to check he hadn’t followed me. I just fled blindly and didn’t stop until I found a shop where we used to go, but I’d drag him in because he hated it. I knew he wouldn’t come there to try and track me.

Next, I phoned two friends. One picked up, R, and I knew I was safe the minute I heard her voice. I cried, she asked me if I was safe. I said I was. The next question was had he seen me? I didn’t think so, although I couldn’t be sure. R thought he hadn’t seen me as he hadn’t tried to talk to me or follow me. Next, she asked me had I told the friend I was meeting what had happened? I told her I hadn’t, so she told me to tell her, then ring back when I had done.

Luckily my friend was very understanding and said that I should wait where I was.
I rang R back and she talked calmingly to me until my friend arrived.

Now comes the part I’m most proud of.

I got on with my fucking day. I had a great time. I enjoyed it! I managed to laugh and joke and shake off the sheer terror that had been the start of my day. Admittedly my hypervigilance and terror resurfaced when I had to return to the station to buy a ticket, but I was managing it well by keeping my stone clutched in my hand, and by leaving it another half hour to return to catch my train.

The worst part by far of stumbling across my ex like that was the feeling that I had to go and beg for forgiveness, that I had to get down on my knees and plead for him back. I thought that part of me had died. I thought that I’d killed it long ago, with realisations of the horrors he’d put me through. Apparently, it’s much tougher to kill than I’d thought.

When I told R what I’d found the most horrible, she responded with the fact that it had taken my ex a long time to get me that way, so sadly it will take me a long time to get rid of that part. She’s right. I will get there, but it’s a scary process that involves thinking you are better than you are, learning you are better than you were last year, and understanding that therapy is working and I am getting better.

H said on the phone to me today (yes, she’s doing a bit better! <3) that I did the sensible thing by running away. I took myself out of a bad situation and focused on caring for myself and sorting out my emotional needs.

That is a fantastic start to the new year.