Life update: All sorts of news.

Hi everyone!

Since my last few posts, life got incredibly busy. I had to stop posting and start using all my spare time to keep up.

So, pain wise- still in pain. We went to the stupid bowel clinic appointment and were told two things:

  1. This isn’t bowel related. The distended bowel was probably caused by starvation before the op, as it’s the most common cause of distended bowel without illness. If it had been a partial or complete blockage, I’d be feverish, vomiting and incredibly sick. He also said there was no way he would put me through all these horrible tests just to prove it wasn’t my bowel as I have virtually no bowel symptoms- everything is fine.
  2. He said that the hospital had maybe missed something and I needed a second gynaecological opinion, as this is clearly gynae related. I felt so vindicated (So did I, I went to the appointment for 26 and nearly fucking airpunched right in front of the guy when he said that! 19). He said that his hospital would be better for gynae and that they would take more time over diagnosing and assessing us.

So basically we left that appointment and decided that we weren’t going back to the doctor’s again because frankly, we had had enough. No more bullshit referrals that take six months to go through, no more cranky consultants who insist that we are perfectly healthy and nothing is wrong. No way. We had an alternative plan.

 

Co-inciding with our visit to the doctor was another challenge- the dance school show. We hurt every day and spent most evenings sitting flat out on the couch or pulling ourselves up to bed. We have crawled up the stairs more times than we can count. We have had several horrendous periods and cried from the pain, but somehow managed to choreograph everything for the show, get it done on time and perform (craply, but still actually be on stage to dance) for three nights on a trot. After that we literally did as little as possible in classes. There was no way making it through adult ballet on Tuesday night was being prefaced by teaching flat out. We struggled through to the end of term and managed, somehow, to make it.

 

Another thing that has happened which we are still in happy shock over is the fact that our fiance, the Dutchman, signed the mortgage papers and bought the house. It’s been the wildest of rides! We all never dreamed that we would EVER own a house, ever, but this has been a dream of ours for as long as we can remember. Owning a house would have been a pipe dream with the tiny pittance we have been able to earn as a dancer and as a teacher, but the Dutchman has had solid, stable jobs for years and has been able to save. We now are the proud owners of the house his auntie and uncle owned, a house that the Dutchman’s father grew up in, and a house that had been in quite the state of disrepair. His parents have been an immense help. They have been working at the house day and night to fix it, the Dutchman has been working on it every spare moment he’s got, and then so have we… what, did we not mention the key fact here?! 😉

We have officially moved countries. We live in the Netherlands now!

The country we liked so much when we visited at eighteen is now our home. This is, bear in mind, the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage, a country with progressive attitudes and friendly residents. A country whose environment and scenery brings us peace and happiness, and the language- lord, what a challenge, but so worth it! The younger ones (14, 15, 16 in particular) are frigging ACING it. I’m so thrilled when I hear them start to speak Dutch and the Dutchman’s friends get what they’re saying! Not only this, but it looks like health care wise, they outrank the UK by miles. The Dutchman says that quite often, people come from other countries to the Netherlands and the doctors here are shocked that things have been missed- sometimes small things, but other times things that should have been obvious. Problem is, when you have a healthcare system that has been systematically drained of money and its problems blamed on patients, things will be missed as there’s no time to look properly. We are ready to go back and try and get ourselves fixed properly. The Dutchman has promised to help as much as he can.

 

Alongside this is another huge milestone: we have finally finished seeing Dr K. Gods do we all miss her. So so much. I think she’s not aware of how much importance we have all placed on some of her teachings, but we do know that she is aware that she’s saved our life a couple of times since we started to see her. Nineteen became really upset that we had to leave, as she feels like she’s been horrible to her (when she was a voice) for longer than she’s been nice to her, but Dr K has reassured us all that she thinks we are brave, strong and good. She’s really pleased with our recovery, so much so that we now don’t really come under the DID category officially- well, more so the final D for disorder. We are a dissociative identity, but we function as a team. We are solid as a rock that way. As an example, we recently had a family member de-friend us on social media because apparently, they didn’t like what we posted, calling it “generalisations” and “opinions”. We went into meltdown for a day- but, actually, are now doing really well. We even managed to bounce back the next day fairly well, functioning enough to work on the revision and documentation for our massage course.

 

That’s another thing that’s happening- we are THIS CLOSE to beasting the final exam from our massage course. We are so excited! We have less than a week now, but we will be fine, we suspect- we feel quite ready. We have spent a lot of time updating client records and sorting out requisite information, revising anatomy and physiology, health and safety, and a ton of other stuff. It’s been a challenge and we have spent a lot of time in bed due to also trying to fix the house, but we are slowly getting there.

 

It’s been a challenging journey, this past couple of months. There have been a lot of incidences where we have wanted to throw the towel in, but there have been other wonderful things that have made up for it. Watching my sister find a new boyfriend who absolutely treasures her has been so beautiful- they give off the same vibes that the Dutchman and I did when we first got together, it’s the best!- and seeing her so happy; having the Dutchman stay over for his two week holiday, going reverse trick-or treating (we might explain how that works in another post!); having hilarious moments with my sis, the Dutchman and my sister’s new boyfriend… it’s been lovely. Add to that the fact that my sis and the Dutchman are so good as brother and sister, it’s melted all of our hearts! She burst into tears on Christmas morning when she gave us new wall art that she’d made, so we could hang it in our new home, and we cuddled her until she felt better. It was a bit of a bittersweet Christmas as we left on Boxing Day (Tweede Kerstdag for you langophiles!) but she loved having us around and all of us got on really well- her new boyfriend is Latvian, and brought a ton of lovely, delicious Latvian goodies over for Christmas! We had a lot of fun times all together, playing Speak Out (which had everyone in hysterics), eating the lovely Latvian food that sister’s boyfriend (let’s call him V) had made and brought. The family had a lot of innocent fun this Christmas, and lots of lovely presents were bought for the Dutchman and I for our house: we were bought curtains, had a clock made for us, wall art made for us, a cool Harry Potter themed doormat and amazing new kitchen knives! We have been so lucky and so grateful.

 

We are all learning, too, to work as a whole more often. We seem to be able to split still, and we are all able to come out and be called out by the Dutchman, but quite often we work as a whole. We are more likely to split if someone throws a trigger at us, but sometimes we come out individually just to say hello to someone we love- the Dutchman knows each of us by our quirks and the voices we have. The lovely thing about being with him every evening and every morning is that when something hard happens, he’s there helping us at every turn. We had a bad trauma anniversary recently, and nineteen was particularly unhappy as it happened to her, and he cuddled her til she felt much better. He never stops being amazing. We have played Mario Kart with him, laughed at stupid Youtube videos together, worked in the attic squished close and have been to watch New Year fireworks with him and his awesome crazy friends. This new life we have here has been so amazing so far, even though we have not been here so long and we are still in a lot of pain. The best thing about being here is that we know, at the end of the day, he comes home to us and we all get to wrap him close, feel his beard against our cheek, and kiss him.

All pain is gone. (TW-ranty)

TW- an angry rant from me, 19. Sorry about that. Stay safe.

 

So in a moment of madness, I decided it was time to push my stupid body. The one that disobeys me, hurts every fucking day, causes all of us endless anxiety and loathing on occasions. I ran up three stairs cause my heart had been behaving and BOOM-

It felt like I was going to faint. I just got to the bed in time. Black spots and white stars flashed in front of my eyes and my heart screamed bloody murder at me.

What the fuck was I thinking? I already pushed it too hard yesterday- I demonstrated (craply cause I can barely stand by the evening) roughly for two new kids, and it almost broke us. It fucking hurt. Fifteen took over and got us into the car (Dad picked us up) and we spent the rest of the evening trying not to think of how much it fucking hurt.

Now I run up the stairs… and Mum catches the tail end of my stupid experiment and thinks I am RUNNING AWAY from her to HIDE something.

Yeah. I’m hiding the fact that the dog was upstairs cause I can’t fucking stand being so godsdamn lonely in the house all the time.

That’s all, Ma, I’m not hiding blades or a knife. I’m hiding my feelings here right now cause no matter how hard I try to explain the fact that hoping for a fucking end to my pain is like a death sentence for our emotions, you don’t seem to get it. Perhaps you’re exhausted with caring for our nana, and you wish something would go your way. Perhaps you want something to change and for our pain to vanish, and for something to finally start being right about 2016. For you, it’s been a bust, we know… but…

Hope has been a dangerous thing to us. We hoped for a more understanding answer on that appointment with the consultant than, “Well it might be IBS. Here, take two medicines that may or may not help, stop taking tramadol and you’ll probably be totally fine.”

Sorry, but no. One does nothing, the other froze our digestive system like it does when we get migraines. Eating better has helped a lot with some of our discomfort, but the fucking pain is the same. Like knives in our stomach. Like something small and with too many teeth is clawing to get out through an ovary, the right one. I think we ovulated the other day and Jesus, that was rough. Agony through one ovary (the left) and searing pain along our left hipbone.

So no, I’m not hiding anything. No, I’m not cutting- god knows my body is in enough pain without adding to it. Yes, I can run- adrenaline makes a fine taskmaster, though a dumb one. I pay for my mistakes in pain, and that’s why I walk with steps like I’m terrified to wake the sleeping monster. It’s because that fear is real.

Days like this, I cling to the future because living in the present, with no hope and a lot of pain, is torture.

 

I want to run, I want to lift weights, I want to tickle my friend’s kids without the searing pain from bending over. I want to wrestle with the dog without the worry she will jump up and -splat- her paw will hit the ovary that’s still screaming. I want to actually feel normal when I go up the stairs as opposed to getting half way and struggling for breath.

 

I hate being this ill and I hate having no options for relief. I want someone to come along and take the pain away, but currently, for the pain to go, we have to get 26 to use her iron will to force it away.

 

Problem is, it just comes back to haunt us later.

 

Current listening for today.

 

That week I had where I realised things are different, now.

Hi all… Please just be careful whilst reading this. I talk about the cyst again and a couple of other things that might be difficult to read. Stay safe.

 

 

So, Sunday came round and we did manage to fly out. Getting through the airport without assistance was hell. I actually asked when we were on the plane if I could have assistance at the other end, and luckily I was given some- I was wheelchaired right into the Dutchman’s arms. I was so thrilled to see him: we all were. It was such a relief to be able to hold him close and kiss him again. We always miss how kind he is, and we crave the physical closeness he gives. It makes us happy to be able to reach out, grab his hand and kiss it, pull it close to our cheek and feel his fingers on our skin. We love that he is so patient, so kind.

 

He wheelchaired us all the way to the CARDIS (yes, that is what we have decided to call his car! He could fit a swimming pool and a library in the boot!) and drove us home. I kept looking at him, smiling. We knew that even though our journey had been very difficult, we had him now. What could go wrong?

 

Going back to his house, it was great to see his parents again and the cats (he has two adorable fluffballs, snuggly and also full of character). It was amazing to climb into bed next to him, to sleep wrapped in his arms. This is what we are all working towards- all four of us want to end our day asleep next to him every day.

 

The next morning (Monday), sadly, we woke up in a lot of pain and discomfort. Turns out that if you will a cyst to go away by just doing stuff you could do before you had it, it screams bloody murder at you the next day. Mostly,. the day was spend lazing around in bed, cuddled up next to the Dutchman, or in the comfortable chair next to the computer where we both played XCOM. Damn, that game is fun. It helped that both of his parents are completely happy to let us just chill together, and they enjoy my presence in the house. We all like being there- it’s such a calm, restful environment.

 

Tuesday was a little better. We started to be able to walk with a cane. The pain was still there, but the Dutchman helped us to walk and we managed to overcome the pain for long enough to go and visit his auntie. She’s not well at all, and is thinking of leaving her house and going to live in a care home. She would like the Dutchman to inherit the house, and all of us liked meeting her. Her and her husband were huge fans of animals, have been all their lives, and they used to work for an animal rescue centre. They own a Bosnian dog, who has obviously seen horrors that no person or animal should ever see- she flinches when you make a movement. It doesn’t have to be sudden. Slowly, however, she began to trust us more and more, and eventually wanted the Dutchman and I to take her for a walk as we were leaving. The Dutchman’s Auntie wanted him to have the house because two cats live next door, and she is convinced that he will look after them when their owners can’t (or won’t, they apparently sleep in a box filled with hay in the garage. If you don’t want to have a pet in the house, don’t buy one!). I also think she wants him to have the house because of the kind person he is, and because of the rough time he has had finding employment in the field of work he studied in.

 

Wednesday morning wasn’t too bad again, but  showering and brushing teeth and washing our face was, and is, such an effort. The Dutchman helped us by supporting us in the shower. This is something we are not used to, seeing as we all are scared of the shower in varying degrees. Me, nineteen, I hate being touched by anyone but me in the shower. Twenty-six doesn’t like soap in her eyes and ears and being unable to defend herself. Fifteen isn’t comfortable with nudity, and Fourteen still feels a little strange when getting in the shower with a guy- she feels like she will be told off at any moment, although she wants to be in the shower. However, the showers we all had with the Dutchman have taught us something: this can be a nice process and it doesn’t have to be frightening. He lets us do what we need to do (like washing our hair, which we hate anyone but US doing) and helped us stand up when we felt weak.

We started to realise that actually, what he’s done for us all week has become our carer. We were horrified. We are trapped like this for no discernible reason, with palpitations and erratic heartbeat and nausea and anxiety and crippling pain, and he is shouldering the brunt of caring for us. We all realised that and were horrified.

Going to the house of a friend of his for dinner was a lovely change, and meeting her husband and three gorgeous kids was fantastic. I am still surprised we all managed to stay awake as long as we did. We loved the meal, although we were in pain, and it was so good to meet his friend- the Dutchman has talked a lot about her.

 

Thursday, and time for my parents and sister to come over. Again, we had to use a wheelchair, and the Dutchman pushed us all the way through the airport. Picking up my parents, we realised we were too tired and weak to get out of the chair. We all had food together, where the four of us ate a sandwich that would normally have been no problem for us, but right now it filled us up too much. The Dutchman made my parents, sister and I laugh, and there was light-hearted chat despite the wheelchair at the table. Having them meet the Dutchman’s parents was brilliant. Sis, the Dutchman and I went to the local supermarket, complete with cane, although I had to rest on quite a few occasions. We all had an absolutely brilliant time and a great laugh. We all agree, the four of us, that Sis and the Dutchman couldn’t be better suited as brother and sister-in-law (eventually!).

 

Friday resulted in more exhaustedness, because we had walked the day before. It was good, however, to be with our two families as they made friends and got to know each other. The sun had begun to shine pretty forcefully, and we had an outing to the local shop. The wheelchair came in super useful again, and I eventually became the trolley- we forgot to get bags, so we used me instead! Spending time out in the wheelchair slowly became more bearable, even more fun, and we explored Leerdam in the chair with the Dutchman pushing us around. Sis came too. We stopped off for a small pastry in one of the local bakeries, which was pretty awesome. The sun was warm, and there was a slight breeze. It got so pleasant outside that we ended up being able to sit out after dinner.

 

Saturday dawned and I struggled to get up. We all took turns that morning in ‘fronting’, which is our term for taking charge of our body. The Dutchman helped us change and brought us our meds, as usual, and we ended up being ready for our outing to a town on the German border. The reason? A friend of mine that both 19 and I have known lives in Germany now, with his partner (who is German, that should explain a few things!). The city we went to was the closest to everyone involved. We had the best day out, sitting in the chair, although it got incredibly hot! It was nice having all the family out too, there to enjoy the sun and meet our friend and his partner. The Dutchman has met them before and gets on like a house on fire with them, and we all have a lot of fun together. It was so lovely to be with them again, we didn’t realise how exhausted we were until we got back home again. We actually went out to eat that evening too and suffered serious pain from the cyst- reaching up to get plates absolutely floored us. Tea was delicious though, and the Dutchman kept wheeling us wherever we wanted to go in our wheelchair.

 

Sunday was a day of sheer exhaustion. We looked at the amount of medicine we had taken all week and were shocked to realise we were running out of some of it already. The Dutchman never stopped being kind and thoughtful, helping us with anything we needed. It doesn’t matter, he never tires. We had some laid-back fun, enjoying ourselves with our families and having a good laugh. In the evening, my parents, sister and I all piled into the Dutchman’s car and we went to see his brother and his partner, and their new little girl. She was born at the tail end of April, my birthday month, so we are already April girlies together… not only that, we will LEGALLY be her auntie when we are married to the Dutchman next year. She was gorgeous, so tiny and perfect, those little fingers grasping for mine already as she lay in her crib. Her mother is the perfect mother- she is so well-prepared for her, so perfectly able to respond and she knows instantly what cry means what. I’ve never met anyone else who gets tiny babies like we do, but she certainly does. In some ways, tiny babies are infuriating and occasionally impossible to figure out, but we have always found them easy… well, easier than two-year-olds!  We were all enchanted, family included. The Dutchman was the picture of the proud uncle. It made us melt.

 

Monday came, and so did horrendous palpitations. They were so bad, we spent most of the morning almost passing out, with the Dutchman snuggled up to us on the sofa, helping us be distracted by XCOM. We rang the airline I flew with and discovered that we needed to go and get to the airport earlier to ask for assistance, which we did after the Dutchman had packed our case up for us. He was amazing- he managed to fit in our new purchases, and also the wool that Sis had bought for knitting with! There was a LOT of it. The airport had, when we arrived, already been notified that I would need assistance, and what then followed was a very pleasant afternoon spent wandering (or wheeling) round a couple of the airport shops, sitting waiting for my parents and sister’s flight in a cafe, then the Dutchman and I waiting for ours together. We did not want to say goodbye to him. We had, despite things, had a brilliant week together.

 

He kept reminding us that we were not a burden. Supporting us in the shower, we were strangely unafraid. We only needed to ask him for something and he would run and get it for us. He carried us to the wheelchair when it arrived. He is everything I thought didn’t really exist in the real world, but we are all finding out that the younger two’s hopes for a true gentleman are, in fact, completely justified.

Therapy is not for the faint hearted- part two. TW- stuff gets intense.

Last week, I went into therapy with my head packed full of thoughts again, singing, buzzing, my heart pounding and my nerves zinging. I let Dr K know I felt weird the minute I got in- before I’d entered her office, I had been flittery-minded and really cheerful, but during the wait to come in my head had started to play games with me again. Dr K immediately saw that there was something wrong and I let her know that my head was doing that panicky thing, where I can’t focus and the panic forces my heart to thunder in my chest.

She let me know that I was safe, and asked whether I would like to talk about what was wrong.

I explained that the mania, I think, stops me really taking in what happened and that I’m frightened that it isn’t processing properly. I explained that I thought there was more that I wanted to talk about from last week, but also that I was feeling so jittery and on edge that I was having a hard time concentrating.

We spent a little time concentrating on calming me down. Dr K helped me visualise my thoughts, swirling as if in a hurricane, and asked me to immobilise it. I pictured a freezing spell from Harry Potter (I love to read, and Potter novels helped shape who I am. I idolised Hermione Granger!) and trapped my thoughts still, so I could organise them into a timeline. Dr K seemed pleased by my quick thinking, and happy that I had managed to control the raging whirlwind in my mind.

She asked me if I would like to try something new today, once my raging panic and my hideous anxiety were manageable enough for me to concentrate. Dr K had said a while ago that she thought it might be beneficial if we tried EMDR, to try and put the shadowy fiends in my head to rest. I’ve read up on EMDR before, trying to understand what I would be in store for, and have found the idea to be a good thing- who doesn’t want to lay these howling, screaming demons low?

I agreed. We moved our chairs to face each other so that I was dead opposite her. Dr K explained what would happen. She said that she would use her fingers to set a steady pace, moving them side to side so that I could follow them, and let me know that whatever I experienced there with her, I would still be safe, and to just let the images or memories come.

I let her know it was ok, and that I was hoping that my torrent of thoughts would calm down afterwards. I wanted the acute anxiety I was feeling to go, and for the reason behind it to be confronted and laid to rest.

Dr K started to trace her fingers through the air, and I found myself falling back into dissociation, watching the fingers in front of me move through the air with solid repetition. I found myself suddenly seeing flashes of things. A shaft of sunlight across my face, a hollow feeling in my gut, a leaden weight in my arms. A feeling suddenly happened on me- suffocation, my face pushed into a pillow, my lungs straining for air…

And then, boom.

Flashback.

(Here’s where the trigger warning comes in. This happened to me and I had no idea it was wrong, because a sociopath convinced me it was normal.)

I was in my ex’s university halls of residence. It was sunny- his grandparents had helped us move all his stuff in and had left us alone to unpack. I was naked, lying on his unmade bed on a heap of clothes or something. There was a shaft of sunlight falling down onto my face, and I felt leaden. I felt dead. I felt like I was being devoured.

I heard myself narrating what was happening to Dr K, and somehow I was aware of her being there too. I stared at the wall opposite me, seeing things that didn’t make sense. I was trapped between two worlds, helpless to escape but able to explain in a detached way what was happening to me.

The sunlight was really uncomfortable, quite hot. I was leaden. My legs were just immobile. My head was as far out of the room as it could be, detached from what was happening below my waist, detached from the man that was holding my wrists to the bed. I wanted to fly out of the window into the sunlight, fly above my body. I was terrified that someone would knock on the door, but I also really wanted them to. That way, the man would stop and suddenly become my boyfriend again-

His face was a blank nothing. It was a face that was basically devoid of emotion, a face with an agenda. That agenda was not love. That agenda was not pleasure. He had set out to devour me, and that’s what he was doing. I was lying there being eaten alive by something that was supposed to be my boyfriend but had turned into a demon when my clothes had come off.

Suddenly I was on my stomach, kneeling on the floor, my head forced down into the pillow and a hand on the back of my neck. My body suddenly burned. It was on fire. My stomach was cramping and I wanted to scream to stop it all, but my throat felt funny. It didn’t work any more. My tongue was forming words in a dry mouth that would never be spoken. I was gasping for breath, my chest felt like there was a hole in it, and I realised I was without any options.

I started to ask to get out of the room. I was not having sex for the first time with my boyfriend- his body was there but he was not, and he was some sort of soulless shell with defilement as his aim. I was panicking, I didn’t want to be there any more- and Dr K was suddenly talking to me, reassuring me, explaining that I was safe and I was ok, and that all I needed to to was try and think of some way to get out and I would.

I started sobbing: J burst in through the door. He pulled my ex off me, wrapping me in a blanket and scooping me up into his arms. He told my ex that he should never lay hands on me like that again, and I saw in the doorway there my parents and sister. R appeared, looking just as she had done when I was 18, and she had an icicle in her hand. This icicle meant business- it was there to go straight through my ex, to gore him in what passed for a heart.

I let them take me away, persuading R not to stab him, because I wanted to lock the door and leave him in there to starve and die and blow into dust. I was handed the key, and I asked J to melt it into a blob for me, so that I would never have to worry about that bastard getting free again.

Dr K slowly brought me back into the room, helping me remember who I was, what age I was, where I was. I was shaken. I had remembered the first time my ex and I slept together before, but I’d not really made the link between how I felt and my assumption that that’s how sex was. I have said before that I was shocked to discover that sex didn’t hurt, that it was how they said it was supposed to be in film, but now I truly understood why. I had been raped that day.

Dr K and I discussed how horrible it was to have my ex change the way he did in front of me. That face that usually smiled when he saw me had been devoid of any feelings and had become this soulless, evil-looking thing. He didn’t look human. He looked like some sort of nightmare figure, something pretending to be the man I cared about that had suddenly revealed itself to be terrifying- a true monster. No wonder I’ve had nightmares of being devoured by an evil, giant male creature, taking my internal organs for its food and devouring them all into some hollow, cavernous mouth. No wonder I drew the he voice with this giant, sucking maw: that’s what I saw that day in the man who was supposed to love me.

I understand now that he was the evil one. He used my trust and dropped the sociopath’s easygoing, seductive, charming mask and played on my innermost fears. He ate me alive and spat out my bones, wearing the real face inside- the sociopath face, the face that never gets revealed because it literally gives people nightmares. He let the Church tell me I was evil for wanting sex and used that against me in so many ways. He hurt me so badly that day, I’m surprised I didn’t run from the room naked as I was and screaming. I’m pretty sure I bled.

Dr K and I probably have more things to work on using EMDR. It’s not for someone who doesn’t have something they can cling to in order to pull them out of a flashback. I have J and my family and R, and they pulled me out and helped me slam the monster in a room to die. I told him in my memory I wanted him to die. I wanted him to be gone forever and never return.

I think that I’m finding the connections between things that I previously split apart, things that I pushed into separate corners of my mind because it was all too much to deal with. Now I have started to make the connections, I’m seeing things that I wasn’t safe enough to be able to see before.

What I learned from that EMDR session is that my ex probably dropped his mask that day on purpose and let me see the scavenger within, the thing that hungered to split me in two, raid my body for my bones and drink down my life. I saw a real monster in that room. I saw a sociopath unmasked, without pretences or airs and graces, without the lies and the charisma and the front. I saw the truth, and it terrified me. However…

He has not won and I was able to beat him quite easily. I added into the memory of that horrible afternoon something that will always help me remember that I got away, I left him, I am in control now and there are some wonderful people here to help me. I will never forget the gratitude of being rescued. I know logically that they never entered that room, but I see that wonderful rescue party now as if they really did… and, in a sense, they were there. Had they all known that little eighteen-year-old me was being completely torn apart in that room, they would have been there. J has wrapped me in his arms to comfort me- it makes sense that he would wrap me in a blanket. My parents, tough though my relationship with my mother can sometimes be, have never let me down and have always stood up for me. My sister has never left my side and pines for me if I’m away. R will never leave me- she’s essentially another sister.

I am so amazed by the power of the EMDR session we did. It found a dark secret, let it out into the light, and I can now see it without the terror being quite so present. It is, thank the gods, nothing more than a bad memory now.

A bad memory with a shaft of light running through it.

A shaft of light that pulled me out of the void.

Life, and not getting what you want.

I think I’m in danger of causing rifts in my family.

I’ve achieved something today. I asked to do more of something and none of something else, and I’m paying for it.

This time, I feel like I’m awful.

I have upset my sister so much she’s no longer speaking to me. It’s like I don’t exist. I have tried to be everything to everyone, and I’ve hurt her in the process.

I have quit dancing as a career properly today. I decided I was shutting that door and moving on. As a result, I’ve dropped out of all the dance classes I was dancing in for more time to actually do my work on the massage qualification I’m desperately trying to get.

My sister is furious.

She wanted to joint-run a dance company with me, but since I haven’t been well again I’ve been re-evaluating things in my life that continue to hurt me. I have decided that dancing as a career is one of them. This, of course, puts paid to the joint company, and I’ve really hurt her by that.

The problem is, I’ve had enough of the dance world. Looking at my pointe shoes was starting to make me upset. I hurt so badly some night when I finish dancing because of my back, but sometimes also because I hate being in the dance studio all day, every day again. I loved it when my body was whole and did anything I told it to. Now I hate it because I hate that my leg will not lift at the back. I hate it because I have a TWO YEAR gap in my CV which will make all the professional dance companies out there laugh if I ever was to hand it in. The dance world is harsh and brutal and nobody cares if you get injured, because it means it was your fault and you were never good enough anyway, because a REAL dancer will never get injured because they’re too clever for all that.

My sis hasn’t faced quite everything I’ve faced yet in the dance world, although she knows just as much as I do how horribly cruel and unforgiving it can be. What she doesn’t understand yet is what it feels like to have no drive or passion for something you once loved dearly.

I hate the sight of the studios now. I hate my figure in the mirror, making shapes that aren’t what they used to be. My feet and legs look awkward and clumsy to me, and I hate how much effort I have to put into simple steps.

She will hopefully never feel like this. I never want her to feel this way. To hate the art that once nurtured you, to hate it so much you never want to dance or teach dancing again- that’s agony worse than a broken back.

What I have to do now is explain that to her, and hope that her hurt lifts. I don’t want to push her away even more with my idiocy, and my terror of telling the truth.

The reason I’m terrified of telling the truth?

Every time I did, my ex would push me away into a nowhere-state, filled with silence. That was worse that the other way it could go, which was rage. Give me the rage any time.

Right now, this silence could drown out the whole world.

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.