That phonecall I actually made, and its aftermath…

I went into therapy feeling really really spacey. I had a head floating away into the clouds, a mind that retreated away somewhere safe.

Dr K noticed it straight away and asked what the problem was. I told her I had psyched myself up to call the sexual assault referral place, and she made sure with me that I was ok to do this seeing as we aren’t able to see each other next week (she’s on holiday). I said that the longer I left it, the worse my anxieties would get.

She sat with me whilst I dialled, encouraging me and helping me just by her presence. My fear was there but I pushed on through it and spoke to two separate people about my confusion and worry.

The receptionist and the doctor who talked to me both agreed that I need to talk to my GP about the problems with the pain and bleeding I’m still getting, but the doctor also said that she would get an independent sexual assault advisor to contact me and help me out if I decide to report what happened to me. They were both so kind and respectful, and believed me without question. The doctor also told me to contact them again if I felt upset or needed any more information.

Dr K was so proud of me and all of my fractured jigsaw-piece parts. The younger parts, fourteen and fifteen year old me, were both upset but ok with the fact that I was trying to get help and also that they were believed through me. I floated out of therapy feeling like I’d achieved something but wanting to curl up and sleep.

Tomorrow I travel along the country to teach. I have a train journey to master, two classes to teach, socialising and responsibility for myself in a station I’ve only recently had a panic attack in. I think I can do this. I will just be careful with myself, take a puzzle book, and try to sleep well when I’m there.

I feel scrambled still but I hope that I will feel more with it tomorrow. I am so proud of myself, but I’m tired too.

Thank you for supporting me today.

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.

Mayday warnings. (Guess what, TW. Stay safe folks.)

Hello again all…

I am so sorry I managed to, yet again, vanish off the face of the earth. I’ve been having a pretty hard time. I haven’t even been keeping up with my journal.

I’ve realised why my voices have wanted me to kill myself in May.

Big step forward, I hear you say, and yes it is… a huge step. It all started when I took my puppy for a walk and began to have a conversation with the ‘it’ voice of the dark passenger.

We sat on a tuft of dry grass, I threw handfuls of it for the puppy which she chased. The it voice wasn’t screaming its usual deluge of vitirol. Instead, I was having a conversation with something that was acting like a scared, naughty child and then BOOM-

I’m eight years old or thereabouts. I’m sitting at a table with three naughty boys, the worst in the class. They pinch my belongings and hide them, empty pencil shavings in my hair and on my work, they call me names and hide my precious glasses, without which everything becomes a blur.

The teacher watches and laughs and blames me for their behaviour. I’m only rescued from that table when my mother, mortified that nothing is being done to protect me, goes round to her classroom after school ends. She’s met with indifference from my uncaring teacher, and a justification for splitting me up from my friends and putting me with the class bullies: she’s weird, she deserves it.

The it voice then chose that moment to point out that it had been born on that table with those three horrible boys.

I’m not surprised, then, that quite often I felt like I was dealing with a naughty upset child… because I was. I think I was dealing with soundbites from three nasty little boys that my traumatised brain had classed as a voice. Now I know what it is, I’ve learned to treat it firmly but gently. It’s pretty much vanished now. It’s dormant and quiet and sleepy, benign and un-frightening now. I did an interview with a girl who was training to be a psychologist, and explained what I’d done with the it voice and how much the voice had changed since I engaged it and started asking it questions like that. She was amazed and pleased for me, as was Dr K, and I felt the glow of pride there for myself, too.

The next big event that has happened is working my timeline out and understanding why May is so hard. It’s a trauma anniversary, but I’m sure I’ve wondered about that somewhere in my journal, then dismissed it as I couldn’t think of anything bad that had ever happened to me then.

Whilst with Dr K at therapy, I let her know about the it voice and about my continuing manicy feelings. I said I was feeling anxious a lot and frightened, and that I didn’t know why. Dr K asked me about May again. She reminded me that I was very ill last May but I was ok now, doing a lot better, able to do more and see further into my future than this time last year. She’s right, that’s true. Last year, I was only able to to a thing a day and to keep my schedule for living that the hospital had given me.

I’d been wondering about something all week though, and wanted to know why I was fixating on it so much. I was wondering about the boyfriend I’d picked up at Spring Harvest, an Eastertide Christian event I used to go to when I was younger. I hallucinated pretty badly there, seeing Jesus and angels and all manner of things that should have been reported to a mental health worker. I even heard the ‘Voice of God’- pretty sure now that it was a mania-induced hallucination. Anyway…

Dr K mentioned something about Spring Harvest and my anxious, manic feelings and suddenly something clicked.

I was fourteen when I met Ash. I was on the rebound from my first ever, fairly fantastic boyfriend, and I was so lonely and feeling so unloved that when Ash asked me out I said yes. I went to visit him a little while after we’d gone home from Spring Harvest- he came to visit me first, behaving and sounding like the perfect boyfriend, telling me that I was special and that I needed his love to feel better from my previous boyfriend. So, going to visit Ash at his house was exciting and I was so, so hoping that I would, at last, feel like I was moving on.

What happened was very different.

I was going to bed, after a day of meeting Ash’s friends, seeing the church he went to, meeting his bandmates and his parents. I was pleased with how it had all gone and how happy I was and just, really, the fact that he was so nice. I supposed that kindness was a whole Christian thing- maybe I was lucky now. My old boyfriend had supposedly been a Christian, but I thought maybe he wasn’t so Christian as he would question his faith and try new things. He would push the boundaries- but I liked it. Maybe, this new relationship would become like that…

I was snuggling down in bed but my insides were jumping with excitement. I knew he was across the hall and I knew he could just come over to my room any time, and I wasn’t above a bit of fun before we slept. Actually though, what I wanted most in the world was for me to go to sleep in the arms of the man I loved.

Suddenly the door opened and Ash was standing there. I looked up in surprise. He sneaked in, locked the door, and my feeling of excitement drained into a clump of something else in my stomach. I asked him in a whisper what he was doing there, and he said he wasn’t happy we were apart and he would stay with me. I relaxed a bit. Clearly he just wanted that hug, the same as I did.

The problem was, he didn’t.

The problem was, he started kissing me and trying to move my hands and I wasn’t happy about that, but then he shoved his hands into my pyjama pants and it was hurting and I was asking him to stop and my hands were up against his chest-

I heard footsteps up the stairs and I was so afraid they’d come in and find me and I wanted him to stop so so bad-

He got out of bed in a hurry and there was a knock on the door. He went to open it. I felt so so embarrassed, so ashamed, so upset and revolting. His mother was there, asking him to leave the room. He wouldn’t go.

So of course, she brought his father up and he still wouldn’t leave the room. Two grown adults could not make one teenage boy leave the room, and they had the door open the whole time I was sitting in bed, covers up round my neck, legs pulled into my body as tightly as possible. I was obviously to blame here. They hadn’t addressed a word to me since they had come upstairs. Clearly they were disgusted with me.

The next day, my mother and father had somehow found out about Ash coming into my bedroom, and I was absolutely mortified. I was upset, too, because I didn’t have a clue what had happened the night before and I felt dirty and bad. I had clearly sinned. God was clearly punishing me. Because men always need reining in and the women have to be responsible for that and I hadn’t stopped him, it was my fault I was hurt. I was also at fault for sacrificing more of my purity- who wants to marry a whore?

What I understood in that flash of memory, whilst telling Dr K, was that it was at May half-term that I went to see Ash.

MAY HALF-TERM.

I was so unhappy for all these years in May because I was violated for the first time ever in May half-term.

This week is May half-term.

That’s not been the only thing that’s been the problem.

I had three voices- he, she, and it. It  has become an ally, something gentle and quiet and sleepy. He and She were still angry and volatile… until last session with Dr K.

We learned that my She voice is actually angry, frightened, upset fourteen-year-old me, trapped in my own head and screaming for Ash to stop hurting her.

Dr K and I got her out of her little hiding-place in my head. I felt strange, like I was having a flashback, and then suddenly my arm was moving of its own accord- like it used to do once long ago when I would self-harm and not feel like I was in control of my own body. My arm started to write words, and Dr K and I watched it as it spelled out:

STOP IT.

Then:

THANK YOU.

I was shocked. Dr K asked what needed to stop, and then suddenly my arm reached out again:

HE HAS TO STOP TOUCHING ME.

We were both shocked, I think, but she kept writing, and she told us the story of that night when I lost trust in men and started to believe that I was sullied and revolting and that God hated me.

Dr K told me and her that we are not to blame for the adults blaming us, for the horrible boy who sexually assaulted us, for the fact that for years I was uncomfortable with what happened but still, STILL blamed myself.

I was exhausted and sleepy after the she voice had her say. Dr K was so proud of me, and worried that I had to teach later on.

I’m a mixture of everything. I still don’t want to admit that the she voice is me, but since I confronted her, she’s quiet and sad, but not that flaming ball of anger that she once was. She’s me now, and that weird schism in my brain has mended. I can feel it there. The wall is torn down, the split gone. Maybe now I can heal better, knowing that two of my voices are actually hurting parts of me that need just as much love as the rest of me.

I am also disturbed that I didn’t recognise that two of my voices were actually parts of me. Also, the arm moving by itself, the writing alone… That’s DID symptoms right there, and I’ve been thinking to myself that I definitely didn’t have DID. Has anyone got any advice for me here? I’m so confused and I would love to know what’s been going on.

At least I am more whole now… although…

Maybe I have been more fractured than I thought.

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.

Still worrying, still wondering.

I’m going to go to therapy tomorrow and talk to Dr K about the last post I wrote. I still feel like there’s more to talk about with it. I think it’s still bothering me because I feel like the mania is clouding my real feelings. I want to cry but I can’t. I want to get upset and hide in a ball but I can’t, because I get distracted and suddenly I’m laughing for no reason and feeling cheerful, but it isn’t real cheerfulness. It’s some sort of bubbled effervescent fizz, tasty but short-lived, and there’s the speeded-up-ness and the irritation to contend with. I get worried when I’m like this because it’s dangerous. If something catastrophic was to happen I would be energetic and capable enough to do something drastic. I don’t want to not be happy, I just want to not be this frenetically speeded-up.

The thing that’s been bothering me today, apart from my mania and the thing I wrote about last time, is my scars. I know that compared to others, they are not big. I know that the ones on my legs and hips are pretty small compared to some. The problem is, the UK has been experiencing a lot of warm weather recently and I’ve been peeling off my customary, long-sleeved layers. I am seeing more of my scars, and I still can’t like or accept them. I know that J calls them my battle scars, that Dr K says that they’re not big or visible, and that scars are good things in some cultures. I want to believe that they are acceptable and that I am not this shredded mess. The scars on my hips actually disgust me still. I hate them.

J has never criticised my scars. He has never criticised anything about my body. He is always lovely and sweet about me, and he would never make me feel uncomfortable- so why am I making myself feel this way?

I’ll start again on the vitamin E oil again, and I am going to talk to Dr K about these feelings too. My mum might have hit the nail on the head- she said the reason I might feel so bad about my scars is because I have a lot of horrible memories that surface whenever I see them. The ones on my arm remind me of that time I wrote about here: https://battybeth108.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/bad-day/ That day, I wound up in A & E because of my self harm. The ones on my hips remind me of the early days of my depression, of the later days just before I met J, and the later days than that just before I went into hospital. The faint ones left on my calves remind me of being thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen. I hate the fact that each set of scars throws my mind back in time to when I was at my worst. I hate how they look and what they make me feel.

If anyone has any suggestions about how to help myself come to terms with what I’ve done to my skin, and maybe some help as to trying to reduce the appearance of my scars, it would be welcome. I feel so guilty and upset when I think of them- and then, worse still, I get distracted all over again and when I next think of them, I haven’t dealt with what I’m feeling so I go back into those feelings again.

Apologies if some of this makes no sense, but I’ve taken over an hour to write this because I’m just so distractible and my head is everywhere. This is what I hate about mania- can’t concentrate for five minutes solid.

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.

Back appointment, bad dreams, difficult things and dissociation.

Trigger warning- first part is pretty safe, a few medical doctors dotted here and there. Second part involves a bad dream with my ex, a triggering ultrasound scan, and more sex stuff. Please stay safe and only read what you feel able to.

Yesterday I travelled two hours away to the nearest place that would offer me specialist back care for the injury I’ve had no treatment for since last March- the 11th to be exact. I knew that I would be frightened about going on the train again- I had to pass those triangular boards in the station where I saw my ex standing, larger than life, waiting for his train. I knew I would have to overcome the nerves I now feel when I’m in any sort of medical situation, as a direct result of the other doctor who dismissed me so callously last March with an obvious dig at my mental health.

What I didn’t know was how well I managed to handle most of it.

Although I was nervous and frightened, I took my panic and I looked at it. I remembered that I was feeling anxiety and that I have managed to overcome anxiety before. I did crosswords and wordsearches, and I breathed deeply. The appointment itself actually went well- a woman consultant, a woman physiotherapist and a woman clinic worker, all very nice and all very professional. Apparently my initial injury was healed, according to physical tests they had done on me, but I now had something new to contend with which was sacro-iliac and pelvis related. That felt good to hear because it meant that Dr Pratface was wrong and that I was right, and that I was still in pain and I was NOT making it up. I see them again in April, so I have to do that journey again, but I don’t care, it was worth it. The examination took an hour, they asked me specific questions about my pain, and they listened and asked me what I thought. I finally felt respected and understood.

OK, TRIGGER WARNING here, stay safe. My dream got graphic. 😦

That morning though, I’d woken up with another bad dream behind me. I had been dreaming that I was at my ex’s house, and he’d invited me round when I was walking the dog. He then managed to get me in bed with him, and I knew I wasn’t supposed to but I let it happen. As it happened, he didn’t even want to get inside me- he finished on my stomach and jeans, and where it touched them the jeans stained bright yellow immediately. I got up and got Juno, who had been curled on the bed watching me with a disparaging look… almost as if she knew we weren’t supposed to be there…

The atmosphere was like the early days of our relationship, where I was slowly being manipulated into things I was not comfortable with. I knew I was supposed to love him and I was supposed to care about him, but I just felt desperate and guilty and denied my own release. I told my ex I was supposed to be leaving, and he kept trying to persuade me to stay. When I told him I really had to get back because of the dog, he wished me his snidest, ‘good luck, you’re going to need it,’ clearly referencing my mum and how angry she would be that I went to see him.

The awful shocker was that suddenly, I realised I was supposed to be with Josh all along and I jerked awake, feeling all kinds of sick and guilty and ashamed.

I hate these nightmares so much. I hate them. I hate that I keep dreaming about him when he has no place in my life any more. I wanted to scrub the dirt out of my skin and hide in bed all day, but I had the appointment to get to and a class to teach. My friends supported me after I posted a status about it, dropping me public and private messages of support. I really appreciated that. As the messages flooded in, my spirits lifted.

On Saturday, though, I had another scare.

I had been sent to the local clinic for an ultrasound (non-obstetric adult ultrasound, the letter read), and I assumed that the scan was for my back. After all, when I’d asked my surgery’s receptionist about the letter when it had first arrived, she had assumed that the doctor had wanted to cover all bases as regards my back injury and its treatment.

As I’ve explained before, I get nervous about medical things, and I was really hoping that they wouldn’t need me to take off too many clothes. I didn’t want to be exposed to strangers without good cause.

The nurse was lovely and chatty, and the doctor was calm and friendly. I didn’t mind the cold of the gel on my stomach and continued to breathe, ignoring my full bladder that they’d requested for the scan.

The problem was, I was in pain again. Period pain type stuff but with no bleeding, which is something I get a lot, and as the scanner glided over my upper stomach and my kidneys, I tried to concentrate on the cold gel and the nice nurse, who was asking me questions to try and put me at ease.

Then the doctor started to scan my uterus and I started to panic, because this took a longer time and they started to take a lot of notes. The scanner pressed into something on the inside of my left hip and it hurt, and I lay there trying not to panic and wondering what I was really here for.

I hope it’s just paranoia, and like my friend R explained, they could be scanning my L5/S1 area and that’s opposite my uterus, so it would make sense that they would scan there. What I’m actually wondering is what if I was referred to the clinic because of the abuse, and they’re checking to see if everything is ok because I was raped? I told the doctor I saw to get referred for my back what had happened with my ex. She asked about it because Dr Pratface, my original back doctor, had been so obnoxious about it and kept asking unwarranted questions about it.

Maybe it is paranoia, I don’t know. I will get my results this week at some point, I hope. I have to ring my GP surgery to find out.

Today has been a weird day again. I’m not feeling too bad but I am feeling very tired, and very dissociative. I have started my fifty hours of practical massage work, which is good, but I’m still worrying about the scan and my dream.

What has been pretty good has been the response to the therapy work I’ve been doing with Dr K. I wanted to tell J how I felt about sex properly, but I felt like I couldn’t tell him… but instead of telling him, I decided to send him the last post I wrote about it. He’s read it and he understands it! He’s also recommended me to email the post to a friend of his who is a social worker, so she understands this sort of conflicted stuff. I think I will- I’ve met this friend of his and she is lovely, and I trust her even though we haven’t known each other long. She deals with this sort of stuff day in, day out. I hope she doesn’t mind me emailing her.

Also, I’ve been being very brave and trying to reconnect with myself. I wrote before that I get so upset sometimes over masturbation, and it’s still really hard to write about it or talk about it. I know it is healing for you to finally be in your own body and give yourself pleasure, but the nineteen-year old inside who is still scared doesn’t understand that it’s not a big deal, that lots of women do it and take pride in it. I’m nurturing that split-off fragment of my past self, telling her that what we are doing is ok, that we need it to heal, that we deserve fun and pleasure. J would probably agree with me there- one of his little mottos is ‘If it feels good, do it!’ His one proviso is that whatever you do has to not impact negatively on other people, but that certainly wouldn’t apply where self-pleasure is concerned.

All in all, I think I have a lot to talk about and a lot to ask Dr K. Maybe the pains in that scan were body memories? Maybe it’s my poor beleaguered body’s way of telling me it was hurt too, and it needs some sympathy?

I’m going to try and stay positive over it, as much as I can, and just wait to see what the scan results are. Dr K will help quell some of my anxiety.