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?

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 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.

Just when you think you’re ‘normal’ again

My last relationship ended quite amicably, we went through a lot together. My PTSD symptoms came to a head during the two years that we knew each other. There were too many times that he’d say or do the simplest of things and I would end up snapping…or break down and collapse in hysterics. I thought it was all over as far as innocent actions triggering the anxiety side of my PTSD. I thought it was all over until a few days ago.

There’s a man who’s been in my life for quite some time now. He is one of the most kind, gentle and caring people I have ever met. My parents are mid separation and he has been so supportive of me. He has even been a shoulder to cry on when I’ve been a blubbering mess. The thing is though, he has absolutely no obligation to be there for me but he has been. As kind and gentle as he is and as much as I trust that he would never do anything to hurt me, a few days ago he triggered my PTSD. We were just sitting and chatting, I was likely being my usual irritating self. I don’t recall the exact details but it led to him holding my arm still so I couldn’t move. That moment triggered it. As my anxiety rose I asked him a couple of times to let go…until it felt like I was yelling it.

I apologised to him later during the day, it seemed like he’d barely noticed I’d snapped. What I didn’t tell him was that it’s not the first time almost the same thing has triggered an anxiety attack. It first happened a few years ago, only about eighteen months after I’d left Brent. A guy I’d known for more than five years wrapped his arm around me and held me tight and commented “You’re so tiny”. It felt like he was pinning me down, he only held me tight for a few seconds, my chest tightened and I felt as though I couldn’t breathe so I yelled at him to let go. Luckily…I’d not long told him about the night I left Brent, so he knew exactly why I’d reacted that way.

Unfortunately, the second time it happened was with my last boyfriend, probably one of the first times he saw me break down. I told him as little as I could about my past because that’s what it is, past and it shouldn’t affect the present. However, as I mentioned before, that relationship was when everything PTSD began to rear it’s ugly head. He’d get upset with me because he would do something playful or make a joke and it’d trigger something in the back of my mind and I’d flip out or hyperventilate and collapse in an hysteric heap. Every time it happened he’d aske why I just hadn’t told him not to. It’s impossible to explain to someone what will trigger PTSD, not until it’s actually happening.

That’s just it with PTSD. You don’t know when it’ll pop up, you don’t know why until it actually happens. I thought those days were over, I thought men could be playful with me now and I would be fine…but I’m not.

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.

Past is past, so I thought…

Generally, from my experiences; past partners are not something you talk about with your significant other. I’ve always thought that the past was irrelevant; the present and the future are all that should matter. Unfortunately, he did not agree with this and went snooping.

I’d been in hospital for an emergency day surgery on a cyst, nothing major. He’d waited at the hospital for me most of the day and when I was allowed out of recovery I knew that something wasn’t right, he was distant and short spoken. I was still fairly under anaesthetic affects and in a fair bit of pain. We got to the car, and he began yelling ‘Why did you have to be such a slut!’. Of course, I had no idea where this had come from for him to then go on that he’d been through old messages on my phone between myself and an entire two ex boyfriends. He apparently had major issues with the sexting nature of these messages, it’s pretty normal to be facetious with your significant other right?

He yelled the same words at me over and over for the entire forty minute drive home. I wasn’t really in a state of comprehension so all I could do was cry and apologise. I look back and wonder why I let things continue after this, I really had no reason to be apologetic. He had gone looking for trouble, the messages were all from before we’d met and they were so far down the inbox I didn’t even know they were there. Who goes scrolling down an iPhone message inbox just to go find what you can delete from your own phone? It’s the past so it shouldn’t matter.

This day was when his abuse began. It started with control, he made me agree to cut off all of my male friends. He had it in his head that every male friend I had just wanted to get with me. The next day, he took me to change my phone number, to be sure that I cut off all the people he didn’t want me to contact. In hindsight, I question why I obliged to this but I loved this man, I saw a future with him so thought it was an easy sacrifice to make so he was happy and trusting.

If only I’d realised this was just the tip of the iceberg.

The perfect beginning, it starts small

You’ll always hear professionals say that domestic violence (DV) starts small. Everyone I knew thought that I was the most confident person who would never tolerate a violent partner. They were wrong.

In the beginning it all seemed perfect and I didn’t see it coming. Many people wonder how could someone so confident be so naive? Because it does, in fact, start small.

We met when I was taking leave from a degree that I was apparently good at, I’d always had excellent grades. It’s been seven years now so I don’t even recall why I was taking that break. After we’d been together for a while, he learned I wanted to return to university. He seemed very supportive and wanted me to focus on full time study.

I was working a job I didn’t love and had met this man who had swept me off my feet. He encouraged me to leave my job, and ‘we’ decided that we could afford to live very comfortably solely on his income. At the time, I thought that gesture made him the most wonderful man in the world. I just wish I’d seen his ulterior motive.

It turned out, that wonderful gesture was only the beginning of his controlling behavior and eventual physical violence. I had to leave that degree, and it’s unlikely I will ever go back due to the PTSD effects my life with him caused. Whilst this brief return to study was the beginning of the hardest time of my life, it was also the perfect beginning of some friendships, two ladies who have become life long friends.

It can start small, so small that nobody will see it coming.