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. This global pandemic has much of the world’s population on lockdown. How strict that lockdown 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?”

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.

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.

It was and it didn’t

Pregnancy isn’t supposed to be painful, it’s also supposed to show up on a home pregnancy test by six weeks gestation but it was and it didn’t.

There are two reasons all of this is so fresh in my mind at the moment. The first is that one of my siblings is expecting their first child and the second is that this week I have another operation scheduled to treat my endometriosis.

I went to work the day I had gotten the results from the doctor, at a job I’d only begun two weeks earlier, a few days after leaving Brent. It only seemed fair that he knew what was going on, I had no idea of what I wanted to do with the pregnancy and it wasn’t just my baby. I text him that I needed to see him to talk about something. He was so convinced that I had done so wrong by him and refused to see me, nor would he answer my call. So, in true twenty-first century style, I text him three words ‘I am pregnant’. Which, as I suspected, got an a response. It may have seemed immature, or unfair to tell him that way but I’d tried to do the right thing which is more than can be said for the way he treated me. His reaction was essentially go back to him or ‘get rid of it’.

My mother is a trained counsellor, growing up, usually unbeknownst to me, she was always counselling me. Whether it was always intentional or not, this time she knew that she could only be my support, and not a counsellor. I still needed to speak to someone who could be objective the pregnancy and the situation surrounding it.