Progress (93)

366 days ago I was spending Christmas with my parents, my brother and his fiancé, and a couple family friends, at my parents house (the one where a lot of the abuse from my brother took place) . My therapist last session said something about how terrible last Christmas was for me and I did a huge double take, (was it? Fuck I don’t remember that), because it all kind of blurs in I think. You do what you can to get through it, and the immediate aftermath is normally pretty bloody bad, but then you get by and you just sort of erase the details from your memory.

In these last 365 days, progress has been, well, non-e-fucking-xistant.

Let’s see, after that terrible Christmas, my therapist and I talked a lot about all the reasons it wasn’t really safe to tell my parents, to do the one thing that was on my mind all the time. Pocketcanadian would tell me that it wasnt safe for me to tell my parents like she had, that it was different circumstances, I am younger and I’m not independent from them. So a measly 6 weeks later, like the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the biggest idiot that I am, I fucking tell them.

And you’d think, 10.5 months on, that a lot would’ve happened, progress would be made, but that’s the biggest fucking laughable joke going.

I didn’t even have to say it, my mother asked the question, because she already knew the answer… What did he do to you? I know he tried it on with you once. Yes mum, he fucking raped me and attempted it a couple of times when you walked in and basically did sweet fuck all. Everything took place under your roof where you turned a fucking blind eye and allowed your daughter to be abused. Amazing.

And their responses… They don’t want to lose him. They don’t want to risk his career. They don’t want to risk him never coming back. They want me to keep my fat gob shut, and to play their little game of happy families. I’m to attend family events, I’m to act the part of loving daughter and sister, I’m to let no one know. I have to be so grateful for my darling brother. Told that I have to open presents from him that I really really don’t want to. Told to not be selfish. Told that isn’t that lovely of him /them.

Summer birthdays were the first time I actually was made to be there all together again, I had successfully managed to avoid being there when he was up until that point. And guess how it went? Dinner parties where my mother gushed over her amazing son, and slighted me every way she could, in front of everyone. I actually couldn’t believe it.

And now I’m back here again, a year later, a full circle. Thankfully no brother as he is away, but that doesn’t mean a lack of all the other stuff. Dinner table talk of how amazing he is, how wonderful his fiancé (their perfect vision of a daughter – if only they could’ve got one like her, not me). Video calls with both of them. All the lovey bullshit about how wonderful he is, what a shame he can’t be here, how missed he is. All for the audience of a family friend and grandparents. Meanwhile I’m barely at the table. I’m the waitress, that’s what I’m there for. To help cook, to carry plates, to fetch and carry and pour wine. To wash up everything from cooking a massive meal and serving a four course meal for 6 people (shit ton of washing up). And I’m not missed. I’m told what to do, not wanted to sit down with everyone else. And I sit back and do nothing (because there is no point), when my mum goes on about what a great mother she is. How she’s thinking of my other brother (who only wants anything to do with them when he needs money), how poor him, and poor her, and shes such a great mum, and when you have kids you’ll understand how mothers just want to protect their kids and have them close. Protect them? Lol!!!

I realised at some point yesterday, when my dad got angry and arseholeish with me because i hadn’t immediately gone and got something he wanted me to (because I was washing up a stack of plates resembling everest), that that was all I was there for. They had all the family they wanted when they could phone call my eldest brother and his fiance. They are their darlings, all they need in life. And I will never never never live up to them. And immediately I was so full of shame. I was being yelled at, I wasn’t good enough, yet again, and worse still, I was actually not really wanted. And that was it, I was 4 years old, crying without being able to stop the tears falling, escaping to cuddle my cat and try to find just someone that loved me and wanted me. My little one is still noisy, still sad, still ashamed for always being wrong.

Yesterday I texted pc, whilst I was so mad and losing it, and I said this: Here’s a resolution for 2019. Fucking kill myself so that I don’t have to see another year through. That’s how I feel about all of it, that’s really how I’m still feeling, how I can’t bear another year like this one.

So that’s my full circle of this past year. So much has happened, so much that a year ago I would have bet all my money on not happening… if someone had said I would tell my parents, face this stuff, I would have told you that’s incredible progress. But I guess that’s the amazing thing now about hindsight, because progress? What fucking progress? I’ve told them and *nothing* has changed. And that fills me with so much shame that I really do wish I was 10ft under.

Merry Christmas, folks.

Fault (88)

This one’s hard. Like really really hard.

When I was a bit older I used to go to my brother and ask him for things. I did it knowing the things he would ask for/demand in exchange. I went knowingly and willingly and had I not, those instances would not have taken place.

I sold myself to him, basically.

I struggle with this, even now, a huge amount. What I’ve come to realise is that I went to him to gain some control. I went in a complete panic inside, and I detached myself and I did it. And then I felt lighter afterwards. The threat of what he could do that day was no longer a constant companion inside my head; it had already happened. I felt more relaxed and I felt safer and I was doing what I needed to do at the time to cope.

And yet… Am I not to blame? Is it not my fault? Those instances surely were… I mean had I not gone to him, there was no telling whether any abuse would have taken place those days. In law there are two types of causation, one of which is the ‘but for’ test. But for my going to my brother and asking for things, it would not have happened that day. And at least once, if not multiple times, that would be the case. In which case causation lies with me, and in which case the fault is mine.

Relief (87)

I think of the relief I feel when I’ve lost my shit, gotten angry thrown a total temper tantrum… How releasing that anger suddenly feels like relief.

I think of how people say that crying when you’re so so sad offers relief and how actually, it really fucking doesn’t. How you feel like you’re drowning in it, it’s not getting any less, how actually letting it or doesn’t seem to help… Until suddenly you feel empty and full all at the same time. How that actually doesn’t feel like relief, it just feels exhausting.

I think of how I truly truly believed that if I could just tell my parents, I’d feel relief. I’d feel freer. How that is laughable to me now (omg I was naive). I think of how I guess it did offer a small amount of relief, I no longer have to constantly ruminate over how I would tell and what would happen if I told, and that’s amazing, but also, I’ve just substituted ruminating over that for ruminating over the fact that they couldn’t have given a rats arse about it. How dumb and naive I was, how shameful it feels, why? What did I do? Is it me? What do other people think? Well anyone care? Am I being an idiot?

I think of the sweet relief of cutting, how it releases everything inside of me and just quietens it all down for a bit.

I think of the relief of telling somebody, and not being alone. I think of pc and how talking on the phone to her and laughing and joking or just being heard and loved can bring sweet relief.

I think of how I had no relief back then. Except to dissociate, to split off and to ignore it all.

Breath/breathe/breathless

Free associations today:

  • The way that my kitten or my pups curl up on my chest, their little heads under my chin, and as I breathe the air passing through my nose hits the tops of their ears, and it makes them twitch all adorable, and then every now and again they’ll shake their heads. I try to move my head so that I’m not exhaling on them, but it’s not always possible. And, despite how it’s clearly bugging them, they really don’t want to move, so just put up with it. Sweet little twitchy ears.
  • Breathing in the air late at night. Walking out into the crisp cold wonders air and breathing it in. Wood chimney smoke, the smell of the cold cold air. And, the sweet summer nights. Saltiness from the sea, sweet mellow flowers, warmth, and a day well spent outside.
  • Running and running and running until you can run no more. Sprinting as fast as you can, and feeling the air burning through your lungs. There’s some sort of satisfaction and comfort in that.
  • Sufocating; my biggest fear. Being held underwater, hands over mouths and nose, things in your mouth that shouldn’t be there.
  • My grandmother in the hospital. Already dead if not for the life machines technically allowing the basic functions to continue as that of a living person. But body only, not brain. Saying goodbye. The machine pumping her lungs full of air. Its roughness, the forceful way her body moved with the oxygen. The loud harsh noise of it. Not at all gentle like the actual breathing of my dear nan. Saying goodbye to the body of somebody already dead but being made to look alive in the most grotesque way. She wouldn’t have liked it one bit.
  • The way therapists have always made a note of my lack of breathing. The way I hold it all in. One therapist once told me it made him think of tiny little baby birds opening their mouths for their mums to feed them to survive. My body was the birds and I was starving it of life by refusing to breathe. That not breathing is a way of holding all emotion in.
  • The way my flute teacher in my very first lesson made me lie on the floor and asked if he could put his hand on my stomach to try to explain how I was breathing wrong, and how to do it better to maximise the air I was taking into my body. How scared I was, but how I did it despite every bone in my body screaming at me not to. How I never looked back, how I adored this man.
  • How my t told me today to sit with my kitten and notice his breathing and then go back and notice my own for as long as I could, until I find it too much, and then to go back to my cat again. How I’m trying to do that right now as I write this.

Enable

This word makes me think of all of those people that enable abuse to take place. All those questions that weren’t asked, all those times a blind eye was turned, all those times it would cause too much hassle to pry.

It makes me think of our mothers.

Control

This is maybe the most obvious factor that’s played out in abusive situations and then subsequently by the abused person in the rest of their life. I wish I could say I was different, but well, I’m not.

Abuse involves a lack of control. Always. A child being raped has no control over the situation and yet tries to claw at it in any possible way. I recently read the book The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, and in it the author gives an example of one of his clients, who during a time of sexual abuse by one of her mothers’ boyfriends, would go and find him when he was drinking and act provocatively. What she was doing was simply trying to gain some form of control over the situation. By doing that she could dictate when it would happen, and she wouldn’t have to be anxious and awake all night, waiting for it to happen. It likely increased the number of times he assaulted her, but at least she had some control over when it would happen.

I did something different, and yet similar, and have always hated myself more than anything for it. I have been disgusted right to my core at myself, called myself a prostitute, a disgusting little whore, and could never hear anybodys attempts at compassion for the child I was, gaining control over the situation in any way I could. I still hate myself. When I first read that chapter in the book something clicked and I suddenly felt sad, but that has long since dissipated.

But even in the everyday, normal things, I am, and for as long as I can remember have been, a massive (and extremely annoying) control freak.

I’ve never cared if it meant I’d be doing all the work, so long as I was the one in control and doing it. My best friends used to laugh at me for it frequently… It was just one of those things about me. And actually not something I’ve ever really wanted to change about myself (aside from getting a bit better at relinquishing control over really unimportant things, which I have done).

But the thing is, I still do it to my detriment far too often in my life.

Several weeks ago I got really mad at my therapist… I took a book with me that she had given me, that we were working on, and when I got mad I told her that I only brought the book with me because I was giving it back to her. I wouldn’t do the work, didn’t want to, and there was no point in me having it. (my version of a ‘fuck you’ – you’ve disappointed me so have it back. I’m in control here, and I’m not doing anything you tell me to).

And I had refused to commit to doing the work up to that point too. I’d read the chapters a lot of the time, but refused to do any of the homework or exercises in it that she told me she wanted me to.

Then, a few weeks after giving her the book back, I went to therapy and at the end of my session asked if I could get it back (petulant child? Oh yes). That was just two sessions ago…I got it back (I think she was pleased I wanted it back), and I went home and read a few chapters and did a few of the exercises. Because this time I was in control, it was on my terms, not hers. And I went back last week with the book in my hand, full of bits that I’d written in it.

And then (I promise we’re coming towards the end of this boring story, sorry), I was panicky and young and scared last week, and I told her I quit.

I was done with therapy. Didn’t need it, was a waste of money, there is nothing wrong with me and I’m just being stupid. Really, I was just feeling all out of control of my life. My best friend was wanting to kill herself, and I realised I couldn’t help her or stop her, no matter how desperately I wanted to. My other best friend is having a terrible time with her family and yet is in the beginnings of what will be a successful career, in a long term relationship with the man I have no doubts she will marry and have kids with, and doing all of this with her own background of trauma. And then I’m here, entirely alone, unable to work out what I want to do, unable to move away, unable to feel in control of my life. I have an ex(not boyfriend, don’t know what to call him) who is pestering me to see him and that’s really just one 6 year long mess. I’ve got a family that I don’t know what to do with because I can’t seem to stop myself loving them even though i know they won’t ever be who I need or want. My brothers fiancé is talking about them having kids, which just makes me want to hurl. And I just completed a chapter in a book on dissociative disorders that terrifies me and that I had refused to do up until that point but somehow I wrote stuff and now it’s out there for somebody to read, even if that somebody is my therapist, and that scares the crap out of me.

So I quit. Because that was something I finally had effing control over. I could say, no more. I could say I was done…Except I signed a contract stating we’d have 2 finishing sessions in the event of terminating therapy (fuck it).

So I handed her the book, told her to rub all the stuff I’d written in it out (to which she said the book was mine to keep, that I mattered, and that my thinking she would just erase me from her life made her sad and brought tears to her eyes). But she took the book, swapped it out for another one that I could read this week while she reads what I wrote in the first one. And then, tomorrow, she’ll let me leave and not come back, without fulfilling the requirement of two final sessions, if this is what I want.

And now I don’t know what I want.

Going there tomorrow and saying goodbye, refusing to let her in, makes me feel in control.

Going there tomorrow and saying I’ve changed my mind, I want to carry on, feels weak. It feels very much not in control. It feels exposed and vulnerable and like I want to push anyone that comes near my heart far away.

It feels like something that I can finally do to say fuck you, I don’t need anybody, I decide what I do, and nobody gets to hurt me.

What a bloody mess, this need for control. I’m not sure how much sense this makes, it’s now 2.45am, and I’m going to take something to try to sleep, so I’m ending it here regardless…

Resolutions

I’ve been searching, for years, for a resolution to the things that happened to me.

For years I placed it out of my mind. Don’t think about it, don’t feel anything, don’t acknowledge any of it. That was my resolution, and it was a necessary one at the time.

Then I moved out of my parents’ house and suddenly that was no longer possible. I couldn’t ignore it, even when I wanted to. So my resolution became to start talking (or try to) and to get over it without ever having to say a word to my family or friends.

Except that still wasn’t working too well, and one night I did tell a friend. Then we both ignored it… Didn’t know what to say so said nothing at all. Nothing had really changed, I was still set firmly that I would never tell anyone, never hurt my family and break us up. That that was no resolution at all.

Fast forward a couple of years and outwardly everything remains the same. Still set in my mind… I’ll never tell, never ruin everything. But inwardly I am a mess. I’m spending lots of time on a forum, I can’t shake thoughts of this stuff for more than 2 hours in a row. I feel unfixably broken. I’ve become extremely close to a woman that has done something I am to afraid to. She is brave and strong and amazing, even when she feels the opposite of all of those things. And I feel ashamed that I’m too weak to do what she’s done. That I can’t stand up and tell them.

Until one day I do. Without ever intending to. (and she’s the first person I tell). I’m a mess, I’m dissociative, I’m trying to keep everything together whilst it’s falling apart. And yet somewhere inside of me I had this voice saying that it was good, so good. That I’d told, that the burden and weight was lifted, that it would all be okay. That finally, I had my resolution.

Naive, right? Oh yes. No resolution, no nothing. Heartbreak and pain that the two people that raised me want nothing to do with this information. That I come last, yet again. That I am placed yet again in the position of keeping this secret, only this time with nobody to hold out hope for. Nobody to think that they would care and love me and put me first. Nobody to be heartbroken by the things that were done to me.

Now I don’t know what the resolution is. To stay here? To ignore it all and keep this secret to keep my family? To leave and lose all of them?

I still don’t have a resolution, and I realise that I won’t ever have a resolution that feels good. And this post is whiny and poor-me and annoying, I know. But actually, tonight it breaks my heart. It kills me that our mums did nothing whilst we were sexually abused by members of our own family. It kills me that after telling, years later, they still do nothing. The lack of safety, the lack of loving people, the aloneness. Jesus it hurts tonight. It really fucking hurts.

Can you imagine? A wee little pocketcanadian at 4 years old, in her bedroom, alone, after being shamed, alone and scared and trying to make sense of the disgusting things men did to her tiny little body.

I always felt disgusting. I blamed myself and I felt like I had to be the adult keeping our family together. I didn’t let anyone in, I tried not to let myself have feelings, except late at night, when i would cry myself to sleep. I wasn’t safe. I never felt safe.

There probably isn’t a resolution. I suspect its dumb to expect one. But I can’t seem to stop searching for one

***

Tonight pc and I have been messaging. I told her how sad I was, how I couldn’t bear any more hurt. And she said yeah, that’s what’s been hurting her so much, that she feels like she’ll never get over that hurt. I told her we will, we both will. Not get over it, but become more at peace with it. (Meaning, it will always be there, but we’ll be better able to cope with it, we’ll come to accept it easier, somehow. I don’t know, I can’t seem to adequately explain what I mean). Her response: no we won’t. But it will get less. It will inform our lives, it will make us so so strong and so gentle and so resolved to not repeat it ever again.

I feel like I want to save those words. I want to save the love and protectiveness and gentleness we are both feeling for little us tonight. And I want to save that knowledge, that the hurt will change. It will always be there, but it won’t be as strong as it is tonight, it will shift, and it will sit differently within our bodies.

And I want to cement that resolution. I will never do what our mother’s did. I will never sit back and allow those things to happen to a child. And should somebody let me in to their hurt and tell me of terrible things that have happened to them, I endeavour to always take it seriously, to be gentle and loving and present.

Water

I love water. I love swimming, I love being in water. I just love it.

I’ve always been known for it. For swimming for hours when we’d go to the beach, and for going in the freezing UK sea no matter the weather. Or even the season, actually. I once went in in February as a kid in my underwear because we definitely weren’t expecting to be swimming. They’re a photo from when I was about 4 or 5 I think, of me diving (sort of – the way little kids dive) into a swimming pool, no arm bands, and it makes me smile.

This past summer was uncharacteristically nice here in the UK, and I went swimming in the sea as often as I could after work.

There’s something about being submerged. The way you dive under and all the sounds that were there before are muffled. The way you go from being surrounded by people to being entirely alone, under the water, with the water flowing over your body.

I dont really have words for it, how to describe how water settles me and grounds me, all I can say is it helps me so much. Be it having a shower or better, listening to crashing waves, sailing through them, or diving into them…or just feeling it flow around me as i make myself streamlined and push myself through the water.

I kind of want to end it here, keep it positive. Annoyingly though I can’t seem to let myself. Because there’s something else that comes to mind… One of the things my brother would do when we were kids (and in my teens too) was to push me under water and hold me there. He’d have his hands on the top of my head or on my shoulders and he’d keep my head under. I’d writhe and panic like crazy and try to get out of his grip, but wouldn’t be able to, not until he let go, no matter how hard I tried I was never strong enough. He never drowned me (obviously, I’m here writing this), but sometimes it felt like it came so so close. I can hold my breath pretty well, but when you’re terrified, when you’re panicking, it’s so much harder. Id often have no air in me, id have let it all out, sometimes by sort of screaming in the water at him, and then he’d still hold me under for a bit longer. By the time I got up I’d be gasping for air, tears streaming down my face (not that you’d know, of course, because of all the water). Id be relieved, and fucking terrified too.

But yeah, I now don’t like swimming in pools, or the sea if its crowded. I don’t like people coming near me in the water. I don’t like people touching me in the water. And my biggest fear is of suffocating. And this is one of the ways that I can imagine it all too clearly and horribly.

And I am so mad about that. That something that could be so good for me, I can’t do, because it’s too cold to swim in the sea most of the year here (I’m not that brave anymore), and I don’t like pools, because im too close to other people in the water. So I can’t swim most of the time. And that’s crap. I hate that he took that.

Creativity

 

I have packs of drawing pencils, I have watercolour pencils, I have watercolour paints. I have a billion sketchbooks, I have paintbrushes, I have pastel pencils, I have charcoal…loads of bits given to me by family members who used to paint. (I’m most certainly not a painter,anything involving paint remains very much unused)

I’ve always loved to draw. I’d draw all the time when I was little and there’s a drawer in my dad’s study that still has some of them in it.

I loved making cards… We went through a really long phase of doing that.

I love making things. I enjoy being creative and I like making things look nice.

But creativity wasn’t exactly the thing that was celebrated in our house. And somewhere along the lines, the comments, the nitpicking, the faults with what I produced got to me enough that I just wouldn’t do it.

Now I draw… But nobody knows I draw, nobody sees them (bar pocketcanadian). I enjoy it, but I have no confidence in what I produce.

But its good, its a good grounding technique, my t goes on about it a lot, always asks if I’ve been drawing that week.

Pain #2

Reading pc’s post again tonight brings tears to my eyes. She writes beautifully about the ugliest of things and she’s put words to things that I had zero desire to try to write about yesterday.

I want to add some more. And I suppose there are two types to this. The physical pain, and far worse, the emotional. I’ll start with the former.

  • The bruises on a body from ‘kids being kids’.
  • The feeling of suffocating when your head is held underwater and however much you flail and try to get out of their grip, you can’t.
  • Or when their hand is over your mouth and nose, or around your neck and you can’t escape.
  • When their body is on top of yours, pinning you down.
  • When your arm or leg is held so hard you end up bruised.
  • When you are hit or pushed down or threatened without the requirement of words even leaving their mouth.
  • When their penis is down your throat and you cannot escape. When you gag and can’t breathe, and the only air you can get into your lungs is when they release the pressure of their hand on the back of your head and you can pull back just long enough that you can breathe through your nose again before they thrust your head back forward and you’re suffocating. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat x 100.
  • When you disappear to wherever you can, because the things they are doing to your body are more than you can cope with.
  • When doors are slammed on hands. Objects thrown at faces. Plates and glasses smashed on the wall behind you.
  • The sweet sharp pain that is self inflicted in order to try to bring yourself back to the present, or punish yourself, or just feel *something*. Or rather, actually, to so often feel nothing, to numb everything happening in your brain and body, to remove yourself from it all.

And yet, the actual physical pain and fear is short lived right? Ha. No, not really. Because the emotional pain brings them back all the fucking time. Periods become triggers where your body feels like it’s still happening, over and over, where your memories torment you. And all of these things come back, out of nowhere, when you least expect it, when you might be having a good day, and then SLAM. Hit in the face with this shit, out of nowhere, for no reason that you can pinpoint.

And as pc has said, all of the other shattering things.

  • The fact that they chose him, yet again. The fact that you’re not chosen. The knowledge that you won’t ever be.
  • The fear that has your knees curled up to your chest whilst you sit on the floor of the shower for half an hour hoping that the water will wash it all off of you.
  • The birthdays, the christmases, the fathers days, the mothers days, the lunches, the dinners, the family gatherings, the celebrations.
  • The never ending silencing.
  • The earth shattering loss of parents that can make you feel orphaned, and alone and like you won’t survive it.
  • The shame. The white hot, flushed cheeks, sweaty bodied shame.
  • The fucking ocean of grief. And the ocean of grief that you haven’t been able to cry for in years.
  • The years spent taking care of yourself because nobody else will. The putting yourself to bed and the crying yourself to sleep at night.
  • The feeling unseen, unheard, unappreciated, unloved. Unloveable.
  • The taking all of it on so that you can retain some semblance of control.

There are so many more. This list isn’t even close to exhaustive, but I have another post I need to write.