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 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 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 asked 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.

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.

 

 

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…

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.