Fulfilment

Last year, somehow, a man woke me up to the fact I have feelings. I’ve suppressed them for so long and played the role of object to men that I was almost content with simply being a little minx. Never allowing myself to commit to a relationship. I know I’ve covered contentment before but fulfilment, it’s different.

With the man that awoke me gone, I guess I began to fall in to my old ways. Not exposing myself to the possibility of having feelings, avoids the possibility of being hurt. Perhaps this is a PTSD thing but looking at the wider world, I think it’s simply just a product of modern dating.

Modern dating. It’s no longer faux pas for someone to share that they met their partner on a dating app or website. Sure, we all want to be able to say that we dropped our compendium in the middle of the street, that papers were flying everywhere and there he was rescuing us and that the rest is history. That’s not reality though, that’s Hollywood.

I wonder, if I meet someone but the ‘spark’ isn’t instantly there, do I settle because they can make me laugh? Do we simply just settle because don’t have the confidence in modern dating? Do we settle because the sex is satisfactory? Do we settle because we have decided that ‘this one will do’ even though they don’t completely fulfil us?

Food for thought, what is it in a relationship, be it friends or a partner, that truly makes us feel fulfilled?

Chances

I was speaking to my ex boyfriend recently. He had broken up with his girlfriend, a girl who just a few months ago he told me was the first person he’d had feelings for the way he had me. He and I broke up over three years ago.

He told me that she was aggressive, insulting, needed constant validation and was volatile. I stated to him that he had an ex who had PTSD surface during the relationship but this girl was worse and he responded “yep”.

As we were generally chatting away, I can’t recall the exact words he used but basically, what I heard was was that he still wonders why things didn’t work with us. I’ve said to him a few times before, that it was the timing, PTSD began to surface in me just before I met him. He was the one who would hold my hand just a little too tight or say a phrase that triggered something and I’d be hysterically rocking back and forward in the corner of the kitchen, hidden by the cupboards. He’d always ask me just to tell him not to say or do things so that he didn’t upset me again. It clearly tore him apart believing he’d caused me to break down. The thing with PTSD is, you don’t know what’s going to trigger the anxiety attacks until they actually happen.

After that conversation this week I’ve been thinking, ever since Brent, have I actually really given anyone a proper chance? The ex I mentioned in this blog, told me that he bought his recent ex flowers every other week. He bought me flowers a couple of times but I’d practically brushed him off for it. Now I wonder, why? I used to joke that chocolate would stay with me longer (on my hips) but thinking about it, Brent would buy flowers for me frequently in the days he still treated me ‘normally’.

Do I subconsciously expect that a man who showers me with gifts and love is going to turn in to an abusive man somewhere down the track?

I try to insist that any guy I date let’s me pay for things from the start. My go to ‘pick up line’, whilst in a bar, ever since I was in my teens, is “Can I buy you a drink?”. No man has ever refused. However, I’ve also never seriously dated a man that I ‘picked up in a bar’.

It’s been almost seven years since Brent was in my life. It’s time. Time that I realised that my need to control every moment of my life is probably something that’s held me back. Time to actually give people a chance to break through my wall. Time to trust men again.

Contentment

I was recently seeing a man for a few months. He treated me well. We could have some great conversations as he has a brain. He definitely knew how to read me, particularly the vibes that I didn’t want to be thrust in to the spotlight that seems to find its way shining on his life. Yet, aside from the fact that we lead very different lives, something was missing. I stepped back and thought, ‘what am I doing?’. Granted, when I started seeing him it was with the intention of getting over someone else so I was probably never open to the possibility of falling for him in any way. However, I’d possibly have continued along with that as it was if I hadn’t gotten incredibly ill and been forced in to being a hermit for the past two months.

Previous to this, I spent almost two years with someone just as ‘friends’. We basically did all the couple things together without the commitment. I was content just settling in his arms, but I wasn’t in love, content spending time with him and him making me smile but I wasn’t blissfully happy as you should be in a young relationship.

The last time I saw Brent, I met someone later that day and we dated for quite some time. I told myself I loved him. I didn’t, I just loved that he didn’t treat me the way Brent did. Yet, I felt content so I settled for him much longer than I should have.

A good friend of mine and I talk about this contentment thing quite a bit. This friend has been with their partner since they were teens. Yet, finds themselves with a wandering eye and finds confusion setting in. My advice to this friend has always been centred around the fact that they don’t want to end up resenting their partner so be honest with themselves. This advice is based purely on this friends comments about their partners parents, how one of them is unhappy and resents the other.

As I look back at my past I can’t help but wonder, do I know any other way or have I always just settled? Why do I tend to live in a state of contentment until a factor outside my control disrupts me?

A sunny winter’s day

Six years ago today I sat in a park, on a sunny winters day. I was in that park with my eleven year old niece and three year old nephew.

I had watched these children grow up from the day they were born. I was eleven when my niece came in to the world. Her first couple of years they lived within a ten minute walk from us. I had watched her waddle around in her nappies with her big cheeky grin, bossing around their boxer and bringing sunshine in to our lives. Then as she grew, a couple of times a week I would pick her up on my way home from school, from preschool, then kindergarten, and walk her home with me. Some days we’d have a half an hour or so of Aunty/niece time before mum would get home or my sister would come to pick her up. As an adult I would often babysit my niece and nephew.

This day in the park was the first time I’d been alone with the kids since I’d left Brent. My sister, their mother, was the first person I had began to admit the truth to whilst I was still with him. He had made me go from the aunt who was in so many little moment of these children’s lives to having a home their mother wasn’t comfortable visiting, let alone asking me to babysit. I had missed them so much, Brent had been so successful at making me afraid of talking to and seeing people who loved me.

Today was a gorgeous sunny winter’s day, similar to that day in the park. However, on this day six years ago, as I played in the park with my niece and nephew, I knew that I had the potential to have my own child the following summer. I was still unsure of what decision to make, I was still considering the situation surrounding it.

Watching how happy the children were, remembering all the moments I’d been there for when they were babies was toying with my mind so much. Yet, whether it was later that day or over the following days, I knew what was meant to, or not meant to, be in my life.

Six years of sunny winter days have passed and throughout each one I have wondered about the child that could have been. I won’t deny that I have had a lot of ‘What if?’ moments. For all this time, even though I don’t doubt that I made the right decision, I’ve felt an empty space in my heart, particularly this time of year. The different thing this year was, that recently, not all on my own and not without some heartbreak, I began to open up my heart and soul. Now that I realise that I have been closed and protected for so long, perhaps there won’t be many more empty hearted winters like the last six.

The walls we build

When life has thrown so many challenges at you, you construct an emotional wall. I recently told someone that I have the Great Wall of China. I always thought this wall came up after my tumultuous relationship with Brent. It’s been six years since I left the most volatile relationship of my life. One would think that it was then that the last time my wall was down. However, someone walked in to my life recently and I’ve realised that my wall has been up since my high school boyfriend and I broke up. That’s ten years of never truly letting anyone in.

Yes, I’ve had a mostly healthy relationship since then but he got the damaged me, the me when the PTSD really reared its head. It wasn’t easy for either of us, but we at least had some happiness. It was hard, he was seeing a psychologist for emotional detachment disorder so I guess that’s what kept me placing bricks in to my wall instead of slowly taking it down piece by piece.

Since then, I dated a man for almost two years. It was ‘casual’ but people seemed to think we acted like a relationship. We’d laugh together, spend a lot of time together, tease each other and generally vent about our lives. Occasionally we’d do family things together but never a big event. We’d buy each other gifts with cute cards, but never an I love you. We never opened to committing to each other, I guess we just knew it wasn’t meant to be. He was a great support through all of my emotional times and when I let go of him, I seem to have also let go of my past traumas. Still I wonder if that relationship put more bricks in to my wall.

They say that things happen when you least expect them. It wasn’t part of the plan for me to let someone in recently. I know it wasn’t part of their plan either. But I’ve stopped building my wall. I’ve gone from having this Great Wall of China as strong as it could be to completely letting it crumble. As my wall has come down, I’ve seen another try to rebuild. I know that I’m strong enough to at least let the light shine through the cracks. No more building walls.

The abortion

They warn you when you book with an abortion clinic that you may encounter protesters at the clinic. They don’t warn you that there will be a teenager in the waiting room waiting to terminate her third pregnancy. They don’t warn you that there will be a woman with a child in that same waiting room.

I look back on this experience and I feel anger surrounding the process. There are laws in certain areas that outlaw abortion but these achieve nothing. What angers me is that there are no laws enforcing the research process that I put myself through and no laws to enforce a single counselling session. The only moment that a professional speaks to you about how you became pregnant and why you want a termination is the gynaecologist almost immediately prior to being prepared for abortion surgery. It made me wonder about the teenage girl, had she ever actually had any proper counselling around her pregnancies. It made me wonder if the mother waiting for her own procedure had been offered all of the advice she may have needed. As a teen and before my own experience I always said that abortion was only for rape victims but having been through the experience myself, I am now pro-choice but I am pro-educated-choice. The gynaecologist who women speak to is not a counsellor, not a psychologist, cannot give qualified financial advice and is essentially only qualified to perform surgery on and treat the reproductive system. I am not attempting to disrespect the doctors working in abortion clinics, I am simply saying that they should not be burdened with a responsibility for which they are not trained.

I was in a ‘nice’ private clinic, the front of house staff were kind and empathetic. The gynaecologist herself was kind and respectful whilst performing an ultrasound prior to the procedure. However, it was not a pleasant experience, I was made to get myself on to the table prior to being given anaesthetic, I’ve had several surgeries in my life and never before had this happened. I then woke up in recovery hearing the crying of the teenage girl, she had nobody there with her, it had seemed she was on her own, that upset me more than anything at that time.

Mum was there once I came out of recovery, she had been incredibly supportive throughout the entire process from the moment I was standing in her kitchen after receiving the positive pregnancy test.

Driving home from the clinic I felt empty, no emotions just emptiness. I also felt really gassy and uncomfortable. They give you a suppository…my butthole was stinging so much. This is graphic, but this experience was my reality. We were on a highway and I literally sharted, luckily I was wearing a fairly large sanitary pad, we pulled in to a roadhouse a few minutes later and I rushed inside. It felt like I was pooping for half an hour. Mum came in to check I was ok, I washed my hands, we grabbed some food and hot drinks and continued the journey home.

I was occasionally teary, but I was numb. This month marks five years since this experience. I feel much the same today. Numb.

The situation surrounding it

The situation surrounding it. It wasn’t as though I was a sixteen year old who accidentally got pregnant to their high school sweetheart. It wasn’t as though I’d found out I was pregnant after leaving someone I had a happy but boring relationship with, whom I had simply fallen out of love. I was pregnant to a man who, at the time, I was still in love with. A man who had spent more of our relationship berating and bruising me than he did showing he ‘loved’ me.

Two counselling sessions over the next few days and I went over as much of the complicated situation that was my life as was possible in a couple of hours. How I had felt like I was having an outer body experience since the day I walked out of my home with Brent. The physical pain and the thought of the financial support my parents would need to provide. The risk the unborn child was at of having birth defects or developmental issues as I had been prescribed vitamin A cream and an SSRI. Whilst it all played on my mind, none of those things was the deciding factor on the decision I made.

The counsellor wasn’t the only outside person that I spoke to in order to help me decide on the next chapter of my life. There was a girl I went to school with who fell pregnant at 17, although weren’t friends at school, we were in some of the same classes and she was a good person. I spoke to her about the challenges and rewards of raising two beautiful little girls, initially on her own but still as a team with their dad. I went to the state child protection agency to find out about temporary foster care, until I had a job that could support me to raise a child alone. The agency could not guarantee that the child would go to a registered foster carer that I knew, so that option was quashed quickly from my mind. The option of adoption only briefly crossed my mind, a lifetime of not knowing where my child was and if they were happy, if I could have made their life better.

Someone very close to me had a child young, whilst the child is happy, the mother spent so much time protecting the child from the spiteful things the father would say or do…just to try emotionally hurt the mother of his child.  However, children are smarter than they are given credit for and this child is now old enough to see both parents true personalities. Watching that situation led me to wonder if I wanted to put a child through the same experience.

Raising a child with someone means you are a team. That you are in each others in lives until your dying day. How could I possibly be part of a team with a man who had used the words “come back to me or get rid of it”. I couldn’t be with a man who thought he could use an innocent child to scare me in to staying with him. I had never had him charged for his abuse so I had no legal standing to stop him from being a part of the life of our child.

Whilst I was putting myself through counselling and researching every possibility on my doorstep, my doctor sent me for the usual routine pregnancy blood tests. It appeared that I had lost immunity to rubella so I had this immunisation in preparation for the pregnancy to proceed. Through the whole journey I was conflicted so I needed to prepare for whichever path I chose.

I kept going back to the woman who had her child young, and how little team interaction there was in raising her child. I felt that it would be unfair for me to bring a child  into the world already having the knowledge that the parents would never be a team. After a call with a counsellor from a local abortion clinic and an additional appointment with my doctor, to which my mother accompanied me; I made a decision to terminate the pregnancy.