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.

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 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…

What’s in a name?

‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.’ – Shakespeare

It’s been more than four years since I left him, yet only recently can I hear or read his name and not feel as though I’m being strangled. Now, I take a deep breath and pause to remind myself I’m safe, that just because someone shares his name  does not mean they share the same personality traits.

I’ve spent quite some time deliberating over whether to use his name in my writing. If I use it, writing about him and his impact upon me would be so much more simple. I want to write it right now, yet in this moment, as I consider this my heart rate is accelerating.

I cannot let him have control over my thoughts, he held that power for far too long. For that reason here it is:

Brent, it truly is just a name.