Equality? Yeah right: A message from 19. (potential trigger: Mentions stalking and abuse)

Hi all, nineteen speaking.

“Why do you always wear baggy jeans and a hoodie? You have a great body! Show it off, I wish I had your physique!”
I’ve been told this, and variants of this, since I was about 18. As I got older, I kept giving answers like “Oh, I felt cold this morning setting out,” or, “This hoodie is really comfy!”

That’s not why I hid in baggy clothes for the longest time. Although they are both valid reasons, they’re not the reason why I did it.

They don’t really come close.

I’ll give you an example of why I hide in baggy clothes.

Today I was in my favourite coffee shop. 25 goes there after therapy with us, treats us all to a coffee and a cake, and we read or write in our journal to pass time. Today, we had a break at work, so we went in to chill out.

25 was doing some wedding planning, which was fun and exciting. We all got engrossed and started asking 25 questions about what to do, and she helped us joint write our emails to important folk.

A guy passed by the shop, staring in as he walked. We figured he was probably people watching, like I often do, and ignored it. Barely paid any attention to it.

Just as we were putting our stuff back into our bag, there was a voice speaking from above us.

“Excuse me, is anyone sitting in that seat?”

It was the same guy from before. He gestured to the chair our coat was sitting on, and we saw he had a friend with him.

25 answered for us.

“No, but I’m just finishing my drink and leaving if you would like the table.”

He mumbled something in the affirmative, so we got our coat and bag, downed the drink… And saw they were leaving. The door opened and shut, and the younger two were puzzled.

“Ok then, why ask for the table and not take it?! Weird…”

As I stood up, my senses were on red alert. Something wasn’t ticking over right. I slid our coat on and looked out of the window. 25 was just as anxious.

There they were. Standing outside the coffee shop, both of them were hanging around as if waiting for someone…
25 and I decided then and there we were leaving the shop through the opposite door. I made a point to say bye to the café staff, because then if anything did happen to us they would be able to say they had last seen a girl in a long grey coat as she had said goodbye to them.

Immediately 25 said to get our phone out and play some anti-anxiety stuff we have saved on there. I kept checking behind me- sure enough, they were still waiting, and luckily hadn’t seen us.
25 and I were on red alert all the way back to work. The younger two were horrified and frightened that they had waited outside the shop, quite obviously expecting us to leave. After all, 25 had said we were just leaving. They knew that… And waited outside!

Whilst this had been going on, there was a man sitting on a table opposite us who would not stop staring.

As it happened, we had a very anxious day the next day and felt pretty horrible about what might have happened.
I wear baggy clothes or my long coat or hide in jumpers because of that. Those eyes permanently on us because we happen to be a young woman who’s attractive. I hate the eyes that looked us over and decided they somehow had the god-given right to wait for us and then, who knows?

I hate that all of this reminds each one of us that once upon a time, a monster thought that because society tells girls and women to “lighten up,” and “don’t take it so seriously!”, he believed it was his god-given right to subject us to six years of abuse.

That’s why I wear baggy clothes. Better to hide away than have those unfriendly eyes all over us. Better to wear unflattering, big baggy jumpers so all that gets stared at is our legs. I am so sick and tired of the eyes, and I want to keep us all safe.

25 often reminds us that we are all safe, that we have the Dutchman and she is equipped to take on potential threats. She says I am capable of telling weirdoes where to stick it and to get off our case.

The thing is, once protected by something that is formless, that risk halves.

So next time I hear someone tell me that I need to wear nice things more often, I’ll just tell them this story and remind them that my work clothes are all form fitting, because they’re dance clothes.

Any questions?

Advertisements

Nights like this…

Tonight I’m sleepless and trying to exorcise the demons in my head. J and I have just talked and I love love love the smooth, sweet drawl of his voice. That voice anchors me whilst I’m feeling strange.

I’ve been a little dissociative tonight. I’ve been at Saturday family tea- the whole clan, aunties, uncles, cousins- the lot. My auntie was babysitting her best friend’s daughter, who is a shining gem of a seven year old. She played with the puppy, a rare event- Juno puppy is not the world’s biggest fan of children, but this little girl is an old head on young shoulders. She let me read to her. She cuddled up with me and the puppy, her on my knee and the puppy beside me. I felt very safe, but somehow a little sad.

I think what’s triggered me a little is talking about my ex to her. My auntie was married to her abuser, and this little girl knows a highly edited version of that story. She calls him Naughty, so we all do too. We had gone upstairs in my nana’s house to see one of the many family portraits hanging on the walls, and she mentioned to me that she knew that Naughty was a bad guy because HIS smile was not a good smile. All the other people on the picture had big, happy, truthful smiles, she said. Only Naughty’s wasn’t right.

That really hit me hard. SHE could see, through our eyes, the flaw in him, the defect that ate at his core and caused such harm to my auntie that she ended up in hospital, too. She knew, this seven year old, that there was a man not to be trusted- and she could see that through his smile!

She asked why my auntie had even married him in the first place, so I explained that sometimes, the scariest baddies are the ones that pretend to be your best friend. I said that I had been with a naughty man, for six years.

The wise, innocent little face formed an expression I’ve mostly seen on adult faces: she was appreciating how hard that was for me.

“Whew,” she said, “that’s a long time.”

I said that yes, indeed it was, but he hadn’t started out bad. He’d pretended to be one of the good guys, and I had never seen the badness coming at all. He’d added the bad stuff in, bit by bit, until I didn’t know that he was all bad.

Looking at those feathery blonde brows rise in shock, I was struck with an intense desire to protect her. I would have jumped in front of a bullet for that child, and I still will. I would right now. I didn’t want that angelic creature to have to face what my auntie and I have faced- the sleepless nights thinking he is perfect and I am not, the agony inside as he breaks up with you and demands you back only for the cycle to repeat. I felt something tearing inside of me in my chest- my heart was trying to reach through my chest to keep her safe.

Talking to Dr K, my therapist, on Thursday may have stirred a lot up- I was trying to tell her about some of the things I’ve had to endure under him- but this has made me remember long nights waiting by the phone, worrying about ringing him in case it ‘wasn’t convenient right now’. I’d get yelled at if I didn’t ring at bang on ten pm. I feel like time is slipping backwards, like having a rug pulled out from under your feet. I remember the feeling in arguments, that bad feeling of ‘I’m losing you and it’s my fault and you knew I was going to say that, oh god why?!’

I’ve found a song that sums it all up. He never drove, but the car keys are symbolic. They are the keys to my heart, my freedom, my life. They are the things that drove me and the things he took control of, bit by bit. Those phonecalls I tried to make that he aborted with one stern word. The threats of all sorts, the demands, and finally go to sleep silly girl, we’re getting nowhere tonight. I would try not to get too upset but tears inevitably burned my cheeks, that acid tang, and the feeling of being about to throw up came when he called me pathetic. I was trying so hard. I was. I promise I’m trying so hard to be different and more like the girl you wanted me to be, the girl I was when you met me. I promise I won’t go to anyone with my problems, definitely not you, I’ll solve them myself. I know I’m weak and need to stop being such a little girl I promise I won’t do this again I swear I’m not going to hurt you I didn’t mean to oh god don’t say that to me I’m not like that I swear I’m not-

The loop plays on and on, and I drown it out with other things. But, in the background, it’s always there, along with his replies.

Letters to Hell part 2.

I hoped I wouldn’t have cause to write a part two of this, but here I am again. That guy A wrote to me last week and I have been trying to process it, and make head or tail of it. Unfortunately, I am stuck in a rut of self-hate whenever I read it.

He claims he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, that I ruined his life, that I caused him to have a breakdown and that essentially, I have broken him. He said that his girlfriend has told him to stop writing to me- I doubt she even knows. He used to do a lot of things behind her back whilst telling me that she was suspicious of him- like I wasn’t supposed to hint at the fact we used to talk online a lot whilst she was around.

I know I am not an angel where that whole awful mess was concerned. I beat myself up over the whole situation frequently. The problem is, I have no normal frame of reference for a relationship and I am not sure if I just was the biggest, most fucked up mess that happened to them, or if me and her were being used. I suspect we were. I just don’t know it.

As such, I’m posting the mail he wrote, of course devoid of real names. I’m not that much of a bitch. The reason I’m posting this is because I need to know if we were both being played again or if it was me.

Can people possibly read and let me know?

Thank you.

 

Hi. Well here I am again, messaging you. Wondering if you ever even see these. Seems stupid when you think about it, but I’ve found it helps. My girlfriend says I need to move on with my life. It’s obvious you have. I guess I just hate it when things go unsaid. It wont end you know. Not for me. You came into my life and shook the foundation of my existence the way no other person has. You made my world brighter and darker. I now am diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder which in truth, explains a lot. I’m ill most of the time which makes work very hard and I don’t really have many people left in my life. You destroyed my life, and yet I don’t know how to feel in regards to you. You’ve moved on from that time and place that we spent together but I’m haunted by the memory of you. I hate you more passionately than I’ve ever hated anyone. But I know somewhere down I’m still in love with the mad woman I met. To be honest I don’t even know if she was real. If you were real. I wish I knew. You’ll probably never see this and even if you do you probably wont reply. You haven’t replied to anything I’ve sent in the last year or so. But at least if you do I can move on. Or maybe you like the idea of my suffering, I don’t really know.  I sit and wait for this to end.

A

Hello insomnia, I fucking detest you.

Partially this is my fault, I think, buy also I’m not sure if it is. I am awake because I was reading the courageous posts on Project Unbreakable, but that has two effects on me. I feel supported to start with, and usually disgusted at what some really evil people have done, but today I am triggered as fuck and hating it.

I remember every fucking word. I will always remember. I remember that stupid “I am a rapist” joke, which wasn’t a joke, because it was scary and not funny. I remember dissociating- the lush rainforest would appear and I would be there, away from pain and hurt. I even remember the barbed comments made about how you liked my “love handles” and how you didn’t like it if I wore jeans that colour, or if I wore that eyeshadow…

I feel disgusting too. I want to scrub myself clean until all this has gone for good. My skin is trying to crawl off my bones in loathing…

I will always remember, even though I never want to remember again. Always.

another blow to the chest.

Today, I went to the hospital about my back. This is an occurrence that has been familiar to me since I originally did the injury, and I am well-versed in waiting to see consultants, registrars or locums. I am familiar with the usual ‘touch your toes, how does that feel?’ routine, and I am mostly ok with it.

Today, I was discriminated against because my my mental health problems.

The Consultant decided, in his infinite wisdom, that because I have a lot of issues going on, I need to sort those out and then return to sort out my back. My objection that PTSD is a long-term illness was brushed aside. He was adamant that I needed to be discharged and then I should re-apply once I was ‘feeling better’.

Whose bright idea was this?! Is it hospital policy that you can only treat one thing at once?! I have a healed stress fracture and healed sprained facet joints, which STILL cause me problems! I can’t adequately describe how I felt as he bulldozed me into accepting a discharge from care, but I’m going to go with betrayed again.

It seems to me the NHS care nothing for people’s pain. I will not keep making the excuse for them that they are short-staffed (check out how many medical graduates there are each year) or that there are a lot of patients (pretty sure in other countries there are a lot of patients too, but it doesn’t seem to stop them getting seen a damn sight faster than I have been). I am sick of these excuses and quite frankly have lost patience. So what if there are a lot of patients? Re-organise so you see them faster and more easily, or hire another goddamn medic. I don’t see the issue.

I also don’t understand why an injury that I did BEFORE THE DEPRESSION now suddenly has an impact on my mental health problems WHICH ARE TOTALLY UNRELATED? What sort of BS is that? I told him that my back was the least of my problems right now, and instead of seeing it my way (which is I can fix this so easily it will be a piece of cake compared to what I live with every day), he saw it this way: you’re too self-absorbed to heal your back up, and I don’t know where to take your care. I give up. Fuck off you crazy bitch, I’m not treating you any longer.

He said to me at least three times that I had to get my ’emotional problems’ sorted out before the physical ones. It was so upsetting, so hurtful and so damaging to hear that again. I’ve already had enough of that from the stupid psychiatrist. (An aside- I rang up and asked not to see him again, so I don’t have to. Thank gods, I hate the fucking psychiatrist.) The consultant also had a student in with him, which made talking about my issues triggering. I didn’t even want to talk about my mental health issues, but the consultant seemed to think he had a right to talk to me about them. He also offered me a thing called a pain management course, which I wanted to go on, but he decided that he wouldn’t refer me because of ‘the state you’re in.’ What, so helping a girl with mental health issues get a worry off her mind is a bad thing?! Despite the fact that when I am doing something to help myself, I feel better?

When I left, I tried writing in my journal but it didn’t work. All I could think of was the fact that my mental health issues had cost me a valuable NHS service. I tried to stay there until I felt safe, but you guessed it- the dark passenger got in there first.

Their poison kept me occupied until I noticed that there were two people coming to sit nearby me, so I cleared off outside fast. Then, the voices started their tirade anew and it broke me.

“Stupid bitch, why do you always have to go and open your mouth?!”

God, you’re a whiny bitch aren’t you? It’s one fucking pity party after the next with you.”

There was more, but I don’t want to write it cause they just got more horrible and more venomous. I walked away from the hospital and ended up at a motorway junction.

“Now’s your chance, bitch. Jump.”

They all started yelling at me to jump. All three of them. They wouldn’t give up, and finally, I hopped over the hard shoulder and walked to the railings.

I stood there, wondering how it would feel to finally fall to Earth for the last time ever. The thought of bliss, darkness, and forgetting filled my head until it was all I could think about. I shuffled closer, and the voices were clamouring for me to take off my backpack and jump.

Then memories of my new puppy, my parents and sister, J and my friends flooded my head. I remembered J holding me close the first night we got together, and I pushed hard against the railings and swore at the dark passenger.

I crossed the road to the service station I could see, and finally called my mum. The dark passenger is, and was, furious that I didn’t jump, but my fantastic mum calmed me down and talked to me all the way onto the tube home.

I am moving away from London in two days and not coming back. It’s too much. I was on a fucking motorway bridge, listening to the dark passenger’s three poisonous voices and putting myself back to square one. I was in danger today and I am realising that I cannot keep exposing myself to London and thinking I will be ok. This place triggers me. The NHS here does not want to help me, either mentally or physically. I was raped here, and I see my ex everywhere as a result. The PTSD symptoms have been lessened somewhat during work but I still flinch if a man gets too close to me. I try not to show it, but it hits me as I leave work and panic attacks set in.

Time to focus on healing, and time to focus on getting what is best for me. Right now, all I want to do is collapse into bed, but I can’t because my friend Z has a friend coming to stay tonight, and I don’t feel safe enough to stay in the same bed as her. What happens if I have a panic attack or flashback if I wake up and find a strange person next to me? I’m sleeping on the couch cushions on the floor tonight.

Tomorrow? I’m ringing the hospital back and letting them know they are NOT getting away with that. I will be treated with respect, and I will be seen and not discharged. Good luck trying to get me to back down.

That voice again.

Today is bad. I feel so down, so insecure, and I feel like the voices are here in my head to stay. I am so so tired, and I feel like today I want to sleep forever. I can’t get my words to make sense. I keep saying weird things and writing weird things, like the words don’t get out right. I just want my head to end. I want this insecurity to go. I want my life to get going again. I am tired of pain and suffering, and tired of feeling up one day and down the next.

I don’t like panic attacks. I hate feeling like I’m always a problem. I hate feeling like I can’t talk to anyone about the contents of my head.

I rang the psychiatrist’s offices today, and they said they didn’t have my referral yet. So I had to ring up the psychologists’ and ask them where it was, because they said they had sent it on Monday. I can’t keep fighting like this. I need help, and it seems like at the minute I’m reaching out my hands and there are no answers.

When do I get them? Why can’t I trust properly? Why am I always frightened?

I’ve truly had enough. I just want to hold J close and forget about the world and the voices, and I want my happiness to descend again.