Comfort from a Country Quilt – or ‘setting myself goals’.

For Christmas this year my husband bought me a brand new sewing machine. Not just any sewing machine, bar cut the material it does it all ! So I’ve set myself a goal – this year I’m making myself a Christmas quilt. I’ve given myself all year to complete it and it should end up looking like the one in the picture, (hopefully).

I made my darling daughter her own quilt from Cath Kidston fabrics years ago and she adores it. It goes on holidays and long car journeys and sleepovers – she calls it her Comfort Quilt. I made it for her when she first became poorly in the hope it would give her many years of warmth and so far so good.

I decided to set myself two goals this year in the hope it would help me cope with the long dark abyss I see before me. With the start of the new year all I see is a mammoth black hole full of change. I don’t do change – it scares me. I suppose it is the lack of control I have. Last year was one of great change and this year is no different.

My daughter went into school today for the first time in a couple of years due to ill health. It was just an hour and she was petrified. But she did it and she came out full of excitement. She can’t wait to go tomorrow. Change but a good day.

This year my son and my step son, both 18, head off to University. They have placed their applications and the interviews and acceptances are coming in and before we know it they will be heading off leaving what was once a house of six to a house of three. More change.

So I am trying to be positive. First off, my quilt challenge. Secondly, I have booked myself into a Meditation Course in the hope it will help calm my burnt out nerves and bring some peace to my hectic and traumatic world. Thirdly, I am going to finish my first novel. I started writing it five years ago, well putting down ideas. This year I am going to finish it if it kills me.

I’m trying to be positive in the hope it gives me some semblance of normality in my life. Fingers crossed.

A Mother’s Love

My daughter goes back to school tomorrow after the Christmas break. That isn’t a huge thing to everyone but it is mammoth to me and even more mammoth to her. My daughter has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and hasn’t been in school full time for nearly three years.

She first suffered a bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when she was six and had the last four months of year two away from school. Then she was okay until the just after Christmas in Year five. She was given a flu jab but was given a live vaccine instead of a dead one (a no-no for CFS sufferers) and boom, bed bound for four months and the rest of year five and all of year six away from school.

She started secondary school last year and managed three weeks of a reduced timetable but went down hill again. The school have been brilliant – they have ensured we have been kept up to date with goings on and started sending a tutor out when she was well enough last year. And now she is well enough to go in albeit for a small amount of time. She is going in for an hour three times a week at first and the tutor is still coming out twice a week to do Maths and English.

The sad thing is that because it was a totally new school and then she went off sick, she hasn’t been there to make any friends. I know she is nervous as anything but she is so brave she won’t let on. It’s ironic that her health started improving about the same time my mother disowned me. Makes you wonder if all that stress wasn’t helping her either.

As parents we are responsible for protecting our children but I can’t do this for her. I’ll wait for her in the car park as it’s not worth coming home again but I can’t do it for her. I can only sit and pray she gets on okay.

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.

‘Tis the season to be merry’ – not with CPTSD it isn’t.

Christmas, the season of goodwill amongst men. Not when I was growing up – it was the most traumatic time of year for me. Far too much alcohol around leading to domestic violence and alcohol fuelled arguments.

When I was little and I mean very small I loved Christmas. We didn’t have much money being a single parent family but I loved the build up especially at school, Carol singing, stirring the Christmas pudding in the school canteen and making your wish and the school Christmas party.

All that changed when my mum met her second husband, my abuser. He drank, a lot and that made her lewd and lairy and violent, very, very violent. Every Christmas I tried to join in with the pre Christmas build up. I used to love going into town alone with my mum, present shopping and listening to the brass band playing carols st the end of the high street.

All that changed one Christmas, THAT CHRISTMAS. I’ve already gone over what happened that Christmas in a previous blog post and as much as I spend every year reliving it with my PTSD, I won’t bore you with the details. It’s simply enough to say that Christmas brings up so many bad emotions for me, I have often contemplated cancelling it altogether. But if you have children you can’t, can you. You must soldier on for their sakes. I must say though part of me can’t wait for the day they are all old enough to make other arrangements. I will book myself a cave somewhere and hibernate I think.

I have really tried hard this year despite being disowned by my parents and ghosted by my ‘best’ friend. Who knew trying to get well would cost me so much, both financially and emotionally. This year like every year I have done all the present shopping. I have made my Christmas cake and one for my grandparents and pickled my onion marmalade. I am trying so hard for this Christmas to be better but the memories still come back. The Yuletide pit in my stomach is still there in spite of it all.