Covid-19 bringing so much back

2019 felt like my last hurdle. By Christmas, I had recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I knew that the last time I had a PTSD related anxiety attack was April 2017 and was in a really good head space. Finally, I felt like it was my time. However, 2020 had other ideas, for all of us.

It would be practically impossible for anyone, no matter where they are in the world, to not know about COVID-19 or ‘Coronavirus’. This global pandemic has much of the worlds population on lock down. How strict that lock down is depends where you live. Where I live, the state police force are issuing fines for all non-essential travel.

Most of my posts have been about the aftermath of my relationship with Brent. I’ve written very little about my life with him, only really the night that I left.

My family and majority of my friends live a minimum of two hours drive from me. Travelling to see them would very unlikely be considered ‘essential travel’. Whilst I can talk to them over the phone and in video calls, this social distancing experience has brought back so many negative memories that I had all but forgotten.

As I write this, I am realising why I don’t write much about my actual life with Brent. I am constantly reminding myself to breathe, telling myself aloud “we’re ok”, there are tears running down my face and my body feels overly tense.

Every day, Brent would come home from work, take my phone and check my browser history, my text messages and my call logs. There was no social media for him to check, as he’d already made me deactivate all platforms. If he could see I’d phoned a family member, he’d interrogate me until I recited every word from the conversation.

I had already lost most of my friends. The male friends, because Brent had an insane jealousy towards them, he’d even made me change my phone number to ensure they couldn’t contact me. The female friends, looking back, it’s quite hurtful that their solution to my trauma was to pretend it wasn’t happening. After I’d left him, I recall a then close friend saying “I was walking past your street, I thought I heard you screaming ‘stop’…but I didn’t know what to do”. That there is the issue. Domestic Violence is too faux pas to many and so, they do nothing.

Eight years ago…

Eight years ago today, I confirmed to my sister that what she had feared, was happening. I was in a domestic violent relationship. I highly doubt that I said those those exact words, but what I did say, was enough for her.

Brent had lost it at me about something. I can’t recall what it was as so many things were trivial, I suppose the reasons he would find to be angry at me is a blog for another day. He did what he’d always do when he was angry; tear out the driveway and ignore my contact for as long as he wanted whilst texting me and making me believe I was at fault.

Earlier that day, whilst Brent was at work, my sister dropped by. She lived a little over an hour away back then and was in town for dinner with some old friends. I had known the ladies she was with that night since I was five. I suppose that’s why I was a little less fearful contacting her to ask if she was still around. They invited me to join them for dessert and I obliged.

I sat fairly quietly in that restaurant. The conversation seemed to continue as it was before I’d arrived. Some of these women had seen domestic violence in their own lives. Perhaps they knew there was no point pushing me and that some normal life experience was what I needed at that time. Some of my life was spoken about, it was suggested that I stay with my sister that night.

I don’t know why, I chose to go home to Brent that night.

He refused to sleep in our bed. I had done something wrong and ‘disgusted’ him. He slept in the spare bedroom. That week, I was in the middle of painting the living room, so, the lounge was in the spare room as well. I’ll likely never remember what was going through my mind, however, after pleading with him to come to our bed, him physically stopping me from laying in the spare bed with him and stopping me from sleeping on the couch, I slept on the floor that night.

The next day, I had a planned spa day with my sister, mother and grandmother. Ironically, vouchers for the best spa in town were a Christmas gift from Brent, something he’d purchased for me before he’d turned into the monster I’d come to know. After a few hours at the spa, we had lunch in a local restaurant with the most amazing views over a valley. There is a photo of the four of us from that lunch. I had not slept a wink. I had cried and pleaded to Brent for what had felt like all night long. Every time I see that photo, I want to shake that girl, what stopped her from leaving him that night?

Those who know me, know that I bruise easily and rarely can I explain how I end up with my limbs covered in bruises. However, back then, I knew what “that hand shape looking bruise” was but made excuses to mum every single time she saw one and asked. I had excuses for everything he did, for every friend I didn’t speak to, for every social occasion I’d missed, for every text message I deleted and pretended I never received. My life was focused on keeping Brent in a calm state. There wasn’t any room in my life for what I wanted.

It wasn’t until July, 3 months later, that I finally left him. Brent had applied for a firearms license some time in June. I know that my family lived in fear every single day that they could lose me to his violence. Reflecting now, even through these involuntary tears, I just said out aloud to myself “what the hell was I thinking?”

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?

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?

I know how you feel…

‘Good morning! Merry Christmas, I went through something really traumatic once in my life and I’ve let it affect me forever, so now that I’ve been getting help for it I understand and I know how you feel.’

I was controlled and abused; mentally, physically and sexually, for months. ‘I know how you feel’ is the absolute most inappropriate thing to say to anyone with PTSD, as chance is, you have no idea how they feel.

It’s true, I’m fragile and I have no issue sharing my experiences with those who wish to listen. However, I don’t use the negatives of my life as an excuse for behaviours and I don’t use them to get attention. Still to this day, very few people know the extent of what really went on. The reason that I do not sulk to every person who will listen to my woes, is that I will not allow the trauma and less than ideal things that have happened in my life to define me.

I am genuinely concerned for the person who decided Christmas was an appropriate time to speak to me about their trauma, and compare their understanding of PTSD to mine. The moment I expressed concern over their sudden change from depressive to manic behaviour, the response was but look at all of these the unfortunate events of the past year and it’s just my time to be happy. This person has been using some unfortunate, not traumatic events, to get attention for too long, and I have suddenly stopped succumbing to it. It’s fine though, there are people in this persons life who will be quite happy to flock to the attention seeking childishness. They see the personal gains of being in this persons life, as soon as they no longer think they need you, they’ll disappear from the face of the earth, just like in the past.

It’s fine to talk about trauma, it’s not fine to think that you can understand what anyone else has gone through. Particularly when your trauma is probably your excuse for not really being there for me when I needed you most…