More often than I should…

Do you ever find yourself completely stuck in your head, anxious because you’re unable to escape your thoughts? Or worse, having your mind constantly occupied with thoughts of someone you know you should be pushing out?

Recently, I found out that he’s a father, Brent has a child. I can’t help but wonder, is his wife safe? I hope that she has never seen the side of him that I saw. I wonder, was she ready to be a mum or was it simply because he didn’t  “…want to be 40 and not fit enough to play football with” his child? Why am I even giving him time to occupy in my mind?

My last relationship ended four years ago. It was during that time that PTSD symptoms rose. Our breakup was amicable, we still speak fairly often as friends.  However, a month or so ago, my head was sending me back to our happy times, wanting him back. I would think, he know’s the worst of me, it’s easier to be with him then have to show my scars to someone new. If something has failed before, it’s bound to fail again, right?

There’s the man I spent two years with, more as companions as neither of us were in love with the other. I occasionally find myself wondering how he’s going. Why do I care? Yes, he was a big support to me through a personally challenging time. He’s moved on, and it’s not as though I’m “hung up” on him, so why do I want to know how he is? Perhaps it’s because I lost another male friend to a woman who felt threatened by our friendship?

Then there’s that one man who somehow, within a very short time last year, made his way in to my heart. It frustrates me so much that even though it’s been well over a year, he still randomly comes in to my head. He made a point of breaking through my wall but as quickly as he entered my life, he exited. He had to move back to the other side of the country, he was gone. He’s out of my heart now but frustratingly, not gone from my mind.

I find myself questioning, why do I think of these men more often than I should? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just let go of them all completely and move on? Each of them has changed me or helped me grow. None of them was right for me then and they’re not right for me now, so why am I letting them hold me back from letting someone else in? I guess, perhaps I’m keeping my wall up, even though I promised myself I would stop building it.  I tell the world that I don’t suffer PTSD anymore but is that truthful? The truth is, I don’t know, I guess that now I just know how to get through it.

I’m ok

Today, I was walking through the city with a friends 5 year old daughter. She was telling me about her favourite foods, what she’d been doing at pre-school recently and generally being a joyful little spark. Almost every person that walked by us smiled at her.

I suddenly realised, you’d be not much older than she. This could have been my every day.

It’s been almost seven years since my internal battle to let you go. Unlike other times, I didn’t mourn you. I wasn’t sad, but ok.

I am ok that you’re not here.

I’m not ok that your father made me in to a woman who cannot let men in to her heart.

I’m not ok that because of him, I have so much baggage that people probably think I need a luggage trolley instead of a handbag.

I’m not ok that I sometimes get anxious about the most insignificant tasks because he is subliminally still in my mind telling me I don’t have his permission or that I’m not good enough.

I’m not ok that at thirty, I still can’t tell people what I want to do with my career. The answer from the time I was 7 was always teaching. A person cannot teach high school if they can’t handle someone raising their voice.

Life must go on, so when someone asks how I am, I won’t tell them all of that, pity is not an emotion I want directed toward me. The answer is always, I’m ok.

I didn’t lose you, did I?

Today is International Bereaved Mother’s Day. I saw a friend, who’s lost two infants in tragic circumstances, post to her social media, love and support to all bereaved mothers. Then I thought to myself have I lost a child, am I a bereaved mother?

Yesterday, completely randomly, someone asked me “What’s your opinion on abortion?”. I couldn’t lie. So I answered straight out “I’ve had one”. Perhaps this blunt honesty was inspired by the I had one too movement. The person who asked seemed as though they really didn’t know how to react. I explained a little in about 15 seconds but then the conversation was dropped. I kind of wished I’d asked their opinion before I’d answered, then I’d have known the point of the conversation. Instead, I felt a little judged.

With yesterday’s conversation in mind and knowing that it’s International Bereaved Mother’s Day. The question I find myself asking is whether I have a right to grieve the child that could have been. I, not without considering my situation, chose to terminate my pregnancy. I chose to go through with the abortion. I chose to not have my six year old child walking beside me today. I also chose to not be trapped in a life with a controlling, physically and emotionally abusive partner.

Someone very close to me has had more miscarriages than I think I could ever bear. She, I expect, grieves those children. She had her rainbow baby but I’m sure those children that could have been are never forgotten.

This year, you’d be in first grade. Other than knowing that, I don’t know if I have the right to imagine who you could have been. Because I didn’t lose you, I chose to let you go, didn’t I?

Diamonds have emotions

I have a ring, it was purchased by my grandfather for my mother when she was a teenager. He had passed not too long before Brent and I had met. Back then, I wore it every day.

Recently, I was on the road and I drove past the turn off to the town where Brent was born. It’s six hours from where I live, so not somewhere I pass often. I was thankful that I wasn’t wearing that ring as it was the catalyst on the night I finally left him. Still to this day, it triggers the memory. Diamonds do have emotions, jewellery holds emotions.

It was the middle of winter and we were sitting in the lounge room. He started saying “that ring means more to you than I do”. It all happened so quickly, small snippets of memories come back and I piece together that night. After he’d thrown the ring across the room and I had picked it back up, I was crying and he kept screaming the same words at me. It ended up with him pinning me to the ground so I couldn’t move. I could barely breathe as he held me down. I was using all of my strength to keep my fist closed as he was using all of his to take the ring from my finger, it felt like the struggle whilst I was pinned to those cold hard tiles went for hours.

Eventually, he pried it from my finger and put it in his pocket. For what felt like hours again, I begged him to not leave it in his pocket as he was leaving the house to go to the gym. I begged, and he eventually obliged but didn’t give it back to me. He walked in to our bedroom, I heard a drawer close and then he left.

Brent was strong, but he wasn’t intelligent. After he had torn out of the driveway in his V8 (side note, I judge myself for dating a man who drove that car), I went in to the bedroom to find my ring. I was always so anxious that everything had an exact place, as if things were perfect then just maybe he’d be sweet and thankful. I knew when I opened his sock drawer that one pair was out of place. I picked up that pair and just inside it was my ring.

With my ring back on my finger, I picked up my phone and called my mother. My family had known for almost three months of the abuse I was suffering. Mum had told me her roster and I knew she was off work the following Tuesday. She answered, I told her that I was ready and that wanted her help to move me out on Tuesday. As we spoke and she calmed me down I told her what had transpired before I had phoned. Of course, almost everything I said was through tears.

I heard his car roar down the driveway. He stormed inside and began screaming. I hung up the phone. He kicked the TV, screaming insults at me but that part of the night still remains a blur.

I don’t recall how long it was before he left again. However, when he did, I began packing things in to my car. I couldn’t be there a moment longer. Whilst I was packing, Dad turned up. He tried to tell me to leave right away but there were precious vases and family heirlooms that I knew Brent would smash from the moment I walked out the door. Dad gave up trying to convince me and he started to help me pack a few more things.

Brent’s car roared down the driveway again. Dad walked outside, I was so afraid of what Brent might do. I was afraid that perhaps Dad wouldn’t stay calm. I heard Dad speak sternly but with restraint “Don’t you touch my daughter.” Brent came inside, he shut the doors and the blinds.

Again, the next part of the night is a bit of a blur. I told him I was leaving, that my car was already packed. He sat there on the lounge with me, pleading that I stay. He cried and kept saying “I beg you, I beg you”.

A loud knock on the front door “police”. I answered the door and let them in. I told them I was leaving and that their presence really wasn’t necessary. They had already spoken to Dad outside. I refused to make a statement, to this day I know that my life could be so very different if I had made that statement. Police still had to take our details, they believed that I was leaving and they knew that Dad was there to support me, or perhaps that he was going to make sure I did leave.

After the police left, as Brent sat crying, I packed a few more things in the car, and I left.

In the months after I left him, I had a few friends tell me that they had been in nearby streets and thought they’d heard me pleading him to stop on multiple occasions. They’d heard a bang and wondered if it was him throwing me against the wall again with his hands around my throat. They couldn’t answer why they hadn’t told me when it had happened. They could only tell me that that’s why they stopped just popping in. Brent had tried to lock me in a castle and to take everyone away who mattered to me and he almost succeeded.

My mother always says “diamonds don’t have emotions”. I feel very differently, jewellery is sentimental, it triggers memories. A ring may not be an emotion but it holds emotions.

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 we don’t have 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 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, I don’t think exclusively. Regardless, he treated me well. We could have some great conversations as he has a brain. 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?