New Year – New Start

Well it’s 2019, thank god. I made it through 2018: I don’t know how I made it, but I did. Boy was it a tough year. If I’m being truthful it was probably one of, if not the worst one I have had. I achieved so much but in return it cost me so much, the enormity of which is still sinking in.

Almost a year ago I received a letter from CICA saying they were awarding me Criminal Compensation for the abuse that happened to me between the ages of six and eighteen. That letter changed my life – it meant someone believed me, that I had finally been heard. They had looked at my whole medical history – I don’t know what was written in my notes but it was enough for them to determine I had been permanently damaged both physically and mentally by what had happened to me.

But and it’s a massive but, that letter was the final nail in the coffin in terms of my relationship with my mother. She couldn’t cope with it. Whether it was the confirmation by outside parties that I had been abused or just the fact I had received compensation at all I don’t know but the venom that came from her was undeniably meant.

I know she had a horrible marriage. I know that my abuser physically and sexually abused her too. But and it is a big but, she was the adult in the situation and i was a child. I had no control over whether she left or stayed with him. It was her job to protect me. I don’t mean to belittle what she went through, far from it because I was there with her – I saw it all. But as parents and adults we have to take responsibility for our children. If we make mistakes whilst we are bringing them up, if we make the wrong decision and it impacts them negatively, we have to admit it to them and own up to our wrong doing. We have to, they have to know that we know we messed up.

Also, I didn’t enter into my EMDR therapy to piss my mother off. At the outset I told my mum that I might withdraw for a while as I dealt with my issues. I told her this because I wanted her to know I loved her and that I always would but that I needed to get well. I had reached my lowest point and if I hadn’t sought help when I did I don’t think I would even be here now. But again she made it about her. She told me I blamed her and again reiterated that what happened to her was much worse than what happened to me. She couldn’t cope with the truth, that my childhood had shaped me into the woman I am now and that warts and all, my physical disabilities and mental health issues were and are a direct result of the abuse I experienced growing up. So I lost her, for good.

I enter into 2019 as a man-made orphan. Is there a word for a child who has no parents even though they are still living – that’s what I am. I’m frightened – all I see is a massive black hole ahead of me. The year ahead is just a wide abyss that I have to circumnavigate. All I can do is take it one day at a time. More than that is over powering.

That old familiar feeling

Well it’s twenty to midnight here, Boxing Day and I am finally getting a few minutes to write about how my first Christmas has gone since starting my EMDR therapy. I was very apprehensive about how it was going to go – every Christmas prior to this one has been very traumatic – I become hyper sensitive to potential triggers and my depression can easily be sent into overdrive.

The festive season this year has the potential to be even more traumatic as it is the first one without my mother in my life since she disowned me early in the year and since my ‘best friend’ ghosted me at the end of the summer. So it was fair to say I wasn’t going into it with joyous anticipation.

I tried my best to go gently with my plans. I planned everything in advance and has purchased and wrapped all gifts by the beginning of December. I love Christmas movies and set myself the challenge of watching one every day in December until Christmas Day arrived. This might have been made easier by the fact I knackered my right wrist and then caught flu but I managed it and I enjoyed them all despite some of them being definite ‘B’ movies.

My children were spending Christmas Day with my their dad leaving me, my husband and stepson to celebrate alone. It was quiet but lovely. Today they were at home so we had a second Christmas and it too was lovely. And not a trigger insight. There were a couple of slight wobbles, I’m not perfect but none like I have experienced at Christmas previously.

My husband drove my son back home today as he was due out with his mates back home and whilst he was gone I sorted out the putting away of gifts and did a bit of washing. Then I settled down to watch a couple of hours tv.

I have always strived for the perfect family Christmas but really, in truth, for the majority of us there is no such thing. Maybe we expect too much, who knows. So this year I just held out my hopes of a peaceful perhaps even non-eventful one. I expected a blip and told myself that when it came I would give myself time to grieve. You see I love Christmas and I have in my life had so much taken away from me, I’ll be damned if I will let the suckers take that too. So my EMDR must have worked, well the triggers of Christmas especially. The processing of those awful memories must have eased something.

When all my children have left home I will have a different kind of Christmas. I will book a holiday for me and my husband and disappear for the whole of the festive season. Until then I will try to enjoy it as best I can.

All in all it has been a lovely couple of days and I did it, I survived Christmas. Now I’ve just got New Year to contend with.

When a therapist lets you down

This week, well yesterday to be precise I ‘sacked’ my therapist. Why you may wonder, what could a therapist do to a client that was bad enough they got theirselves fired.

When I first contacted my therapist in March of this year I was honest at the outset that I do not just have mental health issues but physical ones too. In addition to CPTSD, severe depression, suicidal thoughts and panic attacks, I physically suffer from amongst other things, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Ehler Danlos Syndrome, Arthritis, Chronic Pain Syndrome and Somatization Disorder. I was completely honest and upfront that there would be times that I may have to cancel my appointment at short notice because of my physical incapabilities not because I was avoiding therapy. She informed me of the fee charges and the amount of notice I would need to give to avoid paying and I was fine with it. She may be a therapist but she’s running a business – I get it.

Since April and up until this week I have cancelled twice. The first occasion I was very poorly and cancelled on the day. I made sure that I paid her double the next week. The second time I had a major flare up and knew that it would last a few days or more and as I couldn’t walk I cancelled. Because there was enough notice I didn’t have to pay for the session.

This week I was scheduled in for a session yesterday. I haven’t had one for a couple of weeks as she has been on holiday. I felt ghastly Monday night and went to bed early and woke yesterday with Stomach Flu – Joy ! So I emailed to say I couldn’t make it. I asked her for her bank details so I could pay her the fee prior to Christmas. I received an email back saying that we would have to have a face to face chat as she thought I was avoiding therapy and added that she was letting me have her bank details as I would have to pay. As if I chose to be ill! Trust me the week before Christmas I have far better things to do than spend my days going between my bed and the toilet.

Well my therapy must be working cause I wasn’t upset at her insinuation that I was a quitter, I was angry, in fact fuming. I wrote her a very calm email saying I would transfer the money, that I was ill and had in fact told her at the outset that this may happen and I was not as she had put, avoiding therapy. I then told her that it was probably best I find an alternative therapist. A little later I received an apology and a request that I think it over and if I change my mind contact her as changing therapists causes a break in treatment and disrupts improvements.

So this year folks I have been disowned by my mother, ghosted by my ‘best’ friend and accused of being a quitter by the one person who I was paying (a lot) to help me. Go me!

Therapists are there to help us and if we can’t trust them, who can we?

The Rollercoaster of Parenthood

Parenthood is a rollercoaster and navigating its twists and turns is difficult at the best of times. Add into the mix the additional sensitivities of a parent from an abusive childhood and you will see a parent who is riding that rollercoaster without the safety bar holding them in to the seat, they are basically holding on for dear life whilst their legs are being dragged along behind.

I have three children of my own, all are from my 21 year relationship/marriage with their father. My eldest suffers with depression and is on medication for its symptoms. Without it he dips into periods of severe low mood but is also prone to bouts of extreme anger which the meds help to control. My middle child also suffers from depression and has also had periods of self harm along with suicidal thoughts. My youngest suffers from ME also know as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She was first diagnosed six years ago. Her latest episode has so far lasted nearly three years. During that time she has been absent from school receiving tuition from teachers sent to our house during the week.

During the text messages my stepfather sent to me in the summer of this year, he commented, “you are going to make your children as screwed up as you are”. Boy did he hit a nerve but I suppose that was his aim. As a sufferer of mental illness one of my biggest fears is that I will ‘damage’ my children. How disgusting of him to cast doubt on my abilities as a mother when I already do that to myself enough.

Because of my own experiences I have an incessant need to keep my children safe and happy. The pain I feel when they are not is unbearable and debilitating. It stops me eating, talking and can even make me vomit. After all it’s not as if being a parent isn’t already one worry from start to finish.

When you want to become a parent you worry that you won’t be able to conceive. Then when you find out you are expecting you worry that your baby will be ‘perfect’. When that little bundle arrives you worry and worry and worry some more. As a parent you rely on your own upbringing to guide you in the right direction. What do you do when your childhood was full of pain and suffering; what experiences do you fall back on for reference then. All parents muddle through; babies don’t come into the world with their own instruction manual. But when you have nothing to fall back on it makes the already impossible job of parenting so much more difficult. Those of you with troubled backgrounds will know exactly what I mean especially if like me you suffer from CPTSD.

Picture this, a teenage child comes home from school upset because they have been subjected to bullying. Any ‘normal’ parent will be upset by the news. They will sit down with their child and comfort them. They will try and get to the bottom of what happened and if required will go into the school to sort out any issues that may need specific handling by the school to avoid it happening again.

Now look at the same situation but imagine that the parent of the bullied child was themselves bullied as a child. The bullying they experienced was so severe they became a recluse as a child and developed phobias as a result. If taunted about their weight they may have even developed an eating disorder which has followed them into adulthood. As adults they still find it hard to trust and make friends and may not even have any ‘real’ friends. In this situation when the child comes home upset from bullying the parent is catapulted back in time to their own experiences. They suffer flashbacks and relive the memories of their own torment as if it happened that day. So now you have a tormented adult trying to soothe a tormented child.

Now imagine the same scenario but in addition to the parent also being bullied, imagine that their home life had been filled with abuse, they not only experienced abuse themselves but witnessed it being done to their own parent by their other parent. As a result all of their emotions are thrown into overdrive at the thought of any bullying/abuse. Their reaction sometimes seems far too excess for the situation and they may stampede into the school demanding something be done hurling abuse at anyone who does not seem to be taking them seriously.

Raising any child is bloody hard. Raising a child as a parent who has experienced abuse firsthand is nigh on impossible. You spend your life feeling out of control all because when you were a child, you had none. Ask any abused child who has since grown and had children of their own and they will tell you that had they known how difficult it would be to raise their own family they would almost certainly have decided not to have one, not just for their own sanity but more importantly for the sanity of their children.

Struggling to cope

I haven’t blogged for nearly a month. To be honest I haven’t been in a good place both mentally and physically. I have been struggling to cope with everything that has happened this year. I expected that EMDR therapy was going to bring changes into my life but I wasn’t quite prepared for the amount of loss I would experience.

I lost my so-called best friend. Well didn’t lose, she ghosted me, cut me off without word or reason. That upset me at the time but the fact I got over it so quickly leads me to believe that our relationship wasn’t all that anyhow or I would have cared more about it finishing. But then it was terribly one sided, on my part. She did all the taking, I did all the giving. I only wish I had figured it out prior to paying for her to go on holiday.

My biggest loss has been my mother and it is that I still cannot begin to understand. At the beginning of my EMDR journey I told her that I was doing it for me, that I loved her but it was something I had to do. Any mother would want their child to get well, but it was too much for her. In the end she told me I was disgusting and that cut me to the core. But the thing I cannot shake, the thing that I cannot rationalise is why she felt it necessary to tell me what my abuser, her second husband, had done to her during their marriage.

I witnessed a lot of it, even as a small child I nursed her wounds and consoled her after beatings. I saw it all. But was it really necessary for her passing blow to be her telling me what deprived sexual acts he had subjected her too. What kind of mother does that. It’s as if she wants to persuade me her abuse was worse. I can’t shake it from my head and it is destroying me.

I have gone into myself since then – bar my children no one can reach me. I see the pain in my husband’s eyes and I don’t know what to say to him. It’s as if I have nothing left. My bulimia is back with a vengeance. I vomit daily – sometimes I don’t even have to make myself – it just happens. I am empty now. I have nothing left to give. I am disgusting. She has won.

Music has always been of great comfort to me.

My song for today – “Let it Rain”, by Clare Bowen

https://youtu.be/146DT8ShGHY

Happy birthday to me

It’s my birthday today. The day I’ve been dreading. I’m 50 years old today. I haven’t been dreading being 50, age is but a number. No, I’ve been dreading my birthday. Granted I have never been one for birthdays – I hate being the centre of attention despite what my step-father says.

When it’s your birthday you are suppose to revel in the spotlight, everyone expects you to behave in a certain way. You’re supposed to smile and be happy all day but I just don’t feel like it, I haven’t even got up yet. I will have to in a minute – I can stay in bed all day. But then I will have to put on my birthday face, be all excited about gifts and cards my nearest and dearest have bought for me. Except this year it’s different. This year there will be no birthday wish from my mother, not since she disowned me. My sin, wanting to be well.

It is now nearly thirteen weeks since I last heard from her and far more weeks since I saw her. The last text message she sent me was to say that all the disgusting abusive text messages my stepfather, her third husband, had sent were sent to me with her full knowledge and blessing. It was also to explain in graphic detail things my abuser, her second husband, had done to her. These things she could tell me, she said, because she was never going to see me again. I can only assume it was to make me feel that her life had been much worse than mine therefore justifying her renewed hatred of me and nullifying any pain I was feeling. After all, the abuse I had suffered was my fault – her words.

As I am writing this I have now reached the evening of my birthday. The day has been quite pleasant, more pleasant than I thought it would be. My husband, children and my stepson have made it their aim to make me feel special. The cards they purchased had lovely handwritten messages of love in them – cards have always meant far more to me than gifts. Words from the heart mean the world. To have them in my life I am blessed.

My pain has been terrible today though. Not even my strongest pain killers have worked. This normally happens when I am really stressed or depressed so taking into account the day, I don’t think that should come as a big surprise to me. It took me a good few hours and a very hot bath to make it down the stairs to see everyone.

I heard nothing from my mother today. I do find it amazing that despite all that my elder brother has put her through and trust me when I say it is a lot, his birthday has never been forgotten. My crime has been to try and get well and finally put my past behind me. She obviously meant it when she said she could no longer have me in her life.

If only we could buy happiness

‘Happiness can’t be bought’.  That is what the Dalai Lama said.  ‘Mental peace cannot be injected by any doctor’.  I read that in ‘The Little Book of Wisdom’, by his holiness the Dalai Lama.  It would be wonderful though wouldn’t it if we could go into a shop and purchase happiness or place an online order for some.  But then again that would then make it only available for those who had monetary resources available to buy some.  The rest of society would be poor and miserable,

Happiness comes in many forms.  For me it is when my life is on an even keel, no short sharp shocks or nasty surprises.   Or when those closest to me are happy, that brings me pleasure.  Finding happiness is one of the many reasons I am slogging through EMDR therapy and it is a slog.  There are many days after my weekly session that I wonder what the hell I am doing, why I am putting myself through it.  After all I have lost so much with my decision to do it but I have gained so much for myself.

The changes in my personality might not be noticeable to others but I notice them.  It takes more to rattle me and I am calmer when rattled.   I used to bite when backed into a corner, fight or flight they call it.  But now I seem to be able to pause and take a breath, taking time to decide what to do or say.  And it does bug the ‘rattler’ because an argument is hard to carry on when it is one-sided.   Don’t get me wrong, I still get rattled but the number of times that a situation escalates is much lower than previously.

EMDR also makes you aware of situations that have deeply affected you that until that point you are completely oblivious to.  By processing this you clear space in you mind for the happy memories to come through, things that have been long forgotten.

Maybe when all this is over I will finally find the happiness and inner peace I have seeked for so long.