Monthly Archives: April 2016

Getting back to me..

With each day, month and year away from abuse and unhealthy toxic relationships I feel myself step away a little from the woman I was. Moulded by him, pliable and malleable. Resistance eroded away by years of abuse and coercive control. With every day away from that environment I’ve taken fairy steps towards the ‘real’ me.

For years and years I had it in my head that to be fully recovered would mean returning back to the person I was before the abuse. That was my goal, that’d be the end point when I knew that I’d come out the other side. I was frustrated with myself because I just couldn’t get back to being the woman I was before him.

It’s taken me a while to realise that this is an unachievable goal. The woman I was before him was a teenager, she wasn’t a mother, she was naive and vulnerable. I could never expect to get back to that. I wouldn’t want to.

The brutal fact is abuse changed me. Recovering from it changed me even more and not necessarily for the worse. Moving away from being the woman he made me into doesn’t mean going backwards but forwards I’ve finally realised. It’s about finding who the real me is and embracing and nurturing her.

For years and years during the abusive relationship and even afterwards I spent so long trying not to draw attention to myself. Making myself as small as I could be, taking up the least space I possibly could, staying silent so as not to say the wrong thing. Repressing all the characteristics that make me who I am so as not to annoy or irritate him. When you are in that kind of relationship you attempt to turn yourself into the person he wants you to be. The person that will keep him calm, that will pacify him, that will not irritate or annoy him. It’ll never work though. The person these men want you to be changes from day to day, hour by hour sometimes. Today being quiet may be what he wants, what will calm him as your stupid nonsense chattering winds him up. Tomorrow though, being quiet will be you being stuck up, thinking you’re better than him leading him to prove to you how worthless you are.

When I was living that life I wasn’t just not myself anymore. I wasn’t anyone. By the end I was numb, I had no opinions to voice, I’d given up on how I looked. I’d finally become and believed I was exactly what he said I was.




It’s taken longer than I ever expected to start to feel more like ‘me’. It’s been harder than I could’ve dreamed to like me. To embrace my quirks and flaws and mistakes and not let them cripple me. I suspect I’ll be discovering myself for a long time, maybe forever.

Right now though, today, I’m content with who I am. Being me makes me happy.

I’m opinionated and messy and clumsy. I spend a lot of my time daydreaming with my head in the clouds. I’m disorganised and absent minded and contradictory and irritating.

I’m me now though, I’m more ‘me’ than I’ve ever been and it’s an empowering, freeing feeling.


I glanced at you this morning…

It was just a quick glance as you were counting down days to your 8th birthday and I was concentrating on making sure you had all you needed for school. Our usual everyday school run routine.

In that minute though, that split second I glanced at you and there were no hints of baby any longer, no remnants of toddlerhood. You were all little girl. A beautiful, chatty, funny little girl who is almost 8.

It shocked me. I know how daft that sounds. I know you’re nearly 8. After all I’ve been around for the bits between birth and now, joining the adventure that is your life. When I looked at you this morning though it felt as if birth to 8 had whizzed by all in that exact second.

Your stunningly beautiful little face has none of the chubby cheeked squishiness that the toddler you had. There’s not a flash of the gummy toothless smile that used to greet me every morning as I went to lift you out of your cot.

Whilst you’re chatting away to me about birthdays and school and Romans and penguins in the chirpy enthusiastic way you have I struggle to equate it with the preschooler I worried so badly would never talk. I know! How nuts is that? My Little Miss Chatterbox wouldn’t talk. I panicked and stressed and worried for so long, half believing you’d be forever silent. As it turned out you were just holding on until you had something articulate to say. I know MANY grown ups who could learn from that!

Those strong legs of yours that are never still that never walk when a hop, skip or leap will do. We laugh, don’t we? About how we know when you’re feeling poorly as it’s the only time you actually walk from A to B rather than skip or dance. So very different from those gorgeously wobbly baby thighs I just wanted to gobble up. The legs that would kick and wiggle as I attempted to dress you or change your nappy. Those sturdy little legs I kept standing you up on every time you wobbled as you were learning to walk. They’re gone. Replaced by your athletic gymnasts legs.

When I stop and think like this, I can recall the moments between the tiny baby who was placed on my chest as she was born and this amazing little girl I hold hands with and school run everyday. When I stop and take a breath there are a whole catalogue of such very special moments we’ve shared. I feel as though I could bring to mind every day, every occasion, every milestone.

Just for a second though this morning, when I glimpsed at the pretty chatty girl in front of me it felt as though 8 whole years had whizzed by in a heartbeat.

In another 8 years you’ll be turning 16. That’s a scary thought. Though I’m grateful for the reminder of how time really does fly. I’ll do all I can to ensure when I feel like time is rushing too fast to stop and remember the moments because it’s the moments that make up a lifetime isn’t it? I don’t want to forget a single one.


What happens when you step out of your comfort zone

When I decided to make this blog ‘public’ and share it with people who actually know me rather than just let very kind total strangers (hi Twitter people ! you’re obviously not total strangers now!!) read it it took me months to build up the courage.

My blog’s Facebook page was sat there idle with no posts on for weeks. Gradually I started to transfer posts over , waiting for the day I’d be brave enough to press publish.

It doesn’t sound very brave I know , sharing a few hundred words of my thoughts to a few people online. The thing is sharing my feelings doesn’t come very easily to me. In fact that last sentence was THE biggest understatement ever. My personal comfort zone is a one woman closed book emotionally. I find it nigh on impossible to talk about my feelings*shudder*. …even typing that is bringing me out in a rash. My cosy happy place is just drifting through life with no one ever asking me a personal question or asking me how I’m feeling. I’m emotionally uptight and really struggle to express myself about anything meaningful verbally. Writing is a bit different though, always has been. I still write letters for goodness sakes, with handwriting and stamps and everything for exactly that reason.

Whilst I was sharing my stories and thoughts and opinions with strangers it was relatively easy. They didn’t know me and I wasn’t going to bump into them at the shops just after I’d bared my soul so it felt safe. Comfort zone remained mainly in tact. These strangers though were so kind with their words , they told me their stories and I felt like I was maybe even helping a tiny bit in a tiny way.

I was really worried that when I shared my ramblings people would tell me to go away with my egocentric waffling and off the wall punctuation. No one has yet though. Everyone has been so supportive and I’m so grateful.

Since I took the step though. Since I tiptoed out of my comfort zone so many positives have come from it.

My little blog has had way more views than ever before.

This post has become my most viewed ever and it makes me proud I was brave enough to share it. It’s the one that has struck a chord with women who’ve been through a similar journey to me and if it’s helped anyone feel even a tiny bit better or comforted then I’m bloody humbled by that.

This post was on the Mumsnet front page! My writing , that I actually did was up there amongst the proper bloggers.

So I suppose what I’m trying to say is that on this occasion doing something that made me feel a bit uncomfortable and a bit scared turned into a positive thing. Leaving my comfort zone was actually quite empowering!

I’m going to step out of my cosy place more often.

I’m going to force myself to do scary things.

I’m going to dream a bit bigger.

Have a bit more belief in myself.

Of course safe to say I’ll document it all here .After all,the emotionally stifled woman riddled with self doubt and self criticism seems to have been replaced with someone who overshares with the whole internet!



My Facebook blog page is here

Reasons being an Auntie rocks!!

It’s my eldest nephew’s birthday today. I remember clearly the day he was born 14 (how the hell did that happen) years ago. I remember walking into the hospital room and seeing my baby sister sat holding her own baby. It was a shock to the system, but the beginning of an adventure which is so different from being a parent it’s really quite wonderful.

Not living in the same city as my nephews and niece is tricky. I miss them all so much. I miss not being able to go to class assemblies and good work presentations. I think if we all lived in the same city all my sister and my children would be a mix and match of who was staying at either of our houses on any given day. Though I miss not seeing them all the time it’s always so bloody lovely to see them. They make me laugh and smile and feel just right.

Being an Auntie is fantastic. Here’s why:

1) You get to feel all the love, with none of the responsibility
You get to adore your niece and nephews like you do your own children but the pressure is absolutely off. There’s no worry or sleepless nights stressing because you know that their parents have all that covered.

2) You get to be the ‘fun’ parent you’d like to be if there were no consequences.
Sweets for breakfast? No problem
Want a comic? Here have two!
Want to share my chips? You are the ONLY people who I’m willing to do that with. That’s how special you are!!

3)They listen to you more than your actual children.
As long as I’ve not annoyed her my niece thinks I’m pretty cool. She used to love I bought her books and so when she got a Kindle for her birthday I did get a smug kick out of being able to think “aaaww she’s her Auntie’s genes” She listens like I talk sense which is great. No one else does! She was happy to be a sponge for my feminism chat last time I was round. I’ve high hopes.

4)They’re actually happy to see you.
Because I don’t get to see them very often they’re pleased to see me, in my head I pretend like they’re my very own fan club! Nothing more lovely than opening your sisters garden gate to see your baby nephew (oh so he’s nearly 5, he’s the last child in our family he’ll be the baby until he’s 23!)looking out of the window for you. I get giddy when they argue about who gets to sit next to me on the sofa and offering to share their beds I never feel as loved as when I’m at their house!

5) You can stitch up your siblings
You can make up any story you like about their parents and what they got up to when they were little. Your nieces and nephews will believe you. Especially if, like me, you’ve put work into being the sensible, truthful Auntie.
It’s great fun.

So B, C and O.
You are just so special to me. I’m sorry I can’t see you everyday. I miss you all like crazy but just chatting to you on the phone makes me happy. Your mum telling me what you’ve all been up to makes me smile. You’re all growing up so quickly and I’m so proud to be your Auntie.
Oh, and next time I’m over let’s chat about this nonsense that your mum spouts about how she never got into trouble at school….

Life after abuse : It’s probably not ‘just’ you

The way I react to situations I find myself in often do hark back to the abusive relationship. Particularly those times I behave a bit strangely to the outside world.
I’ve been thinking how I’ve dropped a lot of my old behaviours but some do remain.

I wondered if I could share some just in case any woman out there is comforted by the thought they’re not alone. They’re not the only one who has been left behaving in a way that can appear odd to others.
I won’t go through the massive stuff, I’ve droned on enough about that.

I act a bit strangely sometimes. I mean I am a bit weird quirky as it is, but that’s just me. Only some of my behaviour I can reason came from that relationship, the rest is just me, genes and shit? Who knows?!

I dislike the use of my name.
He used my name. A lot. As a warning. If a sentence started with my name things were about to kick off. Even now someone starting the sentence with my name puts me on alert. Thankfully few people use my name, my family and friends shorten it so it’s not a huge issue.

My affection aversion
I don’t even mean a full blown hug. Just a touch of the hand, a squeeze of the arm I’ll back off from. The thing is this. At the beginning, I was vulnerable I’d just lost my mum. He showered me with the affection. I’d never known anyone so tactile. Despite having never really been one for physical contact I grew to like it. I enjoyed the touching, I let my guard down completely. So then when every last bit of affection was withdrawn I yearned for it. I’d try to get him to be happy with me in the hope that a soft, gentle touch would make a comeback. Obviously that would never happen and next time the guard went up it stayed there.

I cannot make a bloody decision. Just can’t. If you ask me what I want to do for a day out or what I want to drink or even what bloody biscuit I fancy you’ll get one of the stock phrases.
“I don’t mind”
“up to you ”
” you decide”
I spent so long knowing that when a question was asked it was vital I got the right answer that years later the people pleaser in me doesn’t want to give anyone the wrong answer
It’s daft and must be frustrating as hell for people around me.

Raised voices freak me out
I can’t stand it. In my still a tiny bit messed up head shouting is a warning of trouble. It means escalation and panic and terror. I can’t even stand the kids shouting at one another.

Bed Issues
No not those kind of bed issues!!Though they are plentiful too. Just sleeping. I need to sleep facing the door, which must be open. A habit started in an attempt to give me a couple mins warning of him getting in from work. He didn’t like me sleeping until he got in but this could be 2am in the morning. If I had a head start of a door opening I could wake up quickly.

I know how silly these behaviours must sound. The thing is, once they were a survival technique. It’s hard to snap out of habits that kept you relatively safe.

If you still have habits leftover from unhealthy or dangerous relationships, please don’t be frustrated with yourself. They were necessary once. They’ll fade one day I’m as almost sure.

And, it’s OK. You’re not the only one.

A note from a needy mum to my terrific teenagers..

Dear teens, 

These have been the first school holidays where it’s been apparent that you’ve all got your own social lives and I’m not really necessary.
Just a couple of years ago the first words spoken on a school holiday morning would be you asking “What are we doing today?”
You all had absolute faith that mum would have a great day of fun planned and I was more than happy to oblige.
(Disclosure: When I say a day of fun I don’t mean a big day out at the beach or a theme park. I mean that one of the mum talents I’ve collected is the ability to make a big deal out of nothing. I can spin an afternoon feeding the ducks and a bag of chips and make the kids believe even Eurodisney wouldn’t be THIS much fun!!) 

As you’ve gotten older though you’re certainly not as enthralled by a treasure hunt in the park or going on a bug hunt. You’re no longer fooled by me turning off the lights and making popcorn that it’s exactly like the cinema. Your eyes don’t fill with excitement at the prospect of visiting the science museum for the millionth time anymore. Well except you eldest boy, but I assume that’s just a case of science geeks attracting science geeks like magnets or some more complex physics theory I don’t get!

I do appreciate that you all get involved in the slightly too young for you activities with your little sister. Watching you sit and craft with her or read with her makes me really proud. Mind you, that fairy tea party we had yesterday rocked didn’t It?? (promise the pics will never find social media!)

I see that you have your own things to do with your spare time now. I understand hanging out with mum holds little appeal when your friends are free.

A tiny part of me does of course miss those gorgeously cute little ones you once were. The children who thought mum throwing an indoor picnic was the coolest thing ever. I miss that my making a ‘bear hunt’ trail through the house complete with squelchy mud and swirling winds will likely never be  necessary again.

Do you know what I’ve realised though? It makes the time you choose to spend with me really quite special. When you were babies you were stuck with me through no choice of your own. As increasingly independent teenagers that’s not the case.

Eldest boy, when on a rainy Sunday you load up all my favourite Doctor Who episodes to sit and watch with me, I love that. It’s thoughtful and sweet. Even when you roll your eyes and throw me the tissues at the “I don’t want to go” bit. It’s nice at almost 16 you’ll pander to needy mum.

Youngest boy I love that on a Saturday, your only free for all games console day, you choose to turn off at 2:30 and come sit with me. That you bring your notepad and pen and we have a very competitive game of ‘predict all the football scores’. If I’m really lucky you’ll do your Garth Crooks impression that makes me grateful I did my pelvic floor exercises you make me laugh so much!

Eldest girl, I love that being so into your music as you are you’ll come sit and share your favourite songs with me. Even though I’m old and uncool and return the favour with STEPS and b*Witched vids.

So I’ll try to give needy mum a bit of a rest. You’re all fantastic company. You’re funny and bright and chatty and I love you all to teeny tiny bits so when you choose to spend your free time with me I’m honoured.

So off you go with your hectic social lives.
Never forget though needy mum is always available for Who marathons, footie chat and to be musically educated!


My Facebook page is here

Burnished Chaos

The 7 stages of being a parent home alone

When you have children the house without them in it is a really odd feeling. I know that some people never get the chance at this and I do know how lucky I am that I do,I promise.

When the planets align though and you end up home alone for a few hours or even a whole day or even a few days as I am this week there are a few stages this weird phenomenon goes through.

Stage One : Giddy
There’s no one in this house!! What shall I do first? Catch up on crap TV, read a book, eat all the sweets?
I know, a bath! In the daytime, with no one needing the loo midway through. This is going to be awesome. I’m having it super hot too as I know small girl won’t be hopping in. I’m going to use my best Lush stuff, take a book in even a cup of tea. In fact balls to tea, I’m taking a glass of wine – so excited!

Stage Two : Embracing Peace And Quiet
Out of the bath, cosy, tranquil. So very relaxed. I’m just going to lay here on the sofa with a trashy mag.
Ahhhh this is the life… Just close my eyes and listen to the silence…
What day is it?
What time is it?
Where the hell are the kids?
How long have I been asleep?
OK, look at the time to discover what what you thought was a Sleeping Beauty type 100 year sleep was actually just a ten minute power nap.

Stage Three : Rebellion
OK, what to have for dinner?
Remember that you don’t have to be a role model. No one can see you, no one will ever know!
Twirl and a bag of hula hoops it is.

Stage Four : Wondering how the kids are.
Aaaww hope they’re OK.
Might just give them a quick ring.. no that’d be a bit needy. Maybe a text would be OK. Send a ‘hope you’re having fun’ text, breezy and casual.
Wonder when they’ll answer….
leading to…

Stage Five : Twitchiness
No one’s still responding to my text, hope everyone is OK.
Done relaxing now, I’ll have a tidy up. Hmm that didn’t take long with no children. I’ll tidy the kitchen drawers, been meaning to do that for ages. I’ll do some baking for when the kids get back..
What next? and why has no one yet answered my text? maybe I should ring.

Stage Six : The Return
Yay! The kids are back!!
So great to see them. Let’s play some board games, watch a movie??
Aaww I love all my family all home together….

Stage Seven : Yearning
Bicker bicker bicker
Argue argue argue
“mum she’s breathing in my ear”
“mum he just sat on my foot on purpose ”
” It’s MY turn”
“mum tell him”
“what’s for tea? ”
” you always take her side”

Oh…what I wouldn’t do for 5 mins peace and quiet….

My Facebook page is here!

I finally worked it out.

I’ve been wittering on here for a while now about how desperate I am to be able to articulate the horror of emotional abuse. I’ve been trying to nail down why coercive control is so traumatic. I know that it has caused me more stress and anxiety than any physical act. I know that being a victim of coercive control has effects on me still now, it’s always there hovering on the outskirts of my mind. I just couldn’t work out why this was.

Now I know.

Yesterday I read a tweet about coercive control, about how it doesn’t end when the relationship does.

That was it.
The light bulb moment.
Everything flitting about in this messy mind of mine fell into place.

That’s why the hell this incredibly effective tactic of abuse still gets to me. Has caused so much mental anguish. It never stops. It never quite ends.

From the day I walked out of that door the perpetrator of my abuse has never ever laid so much as a finger on me. I know this makes me one of the lucky ones. I’m aware of the murder rates of women who’ve left abusive relationships and I know how dangerous that period can be.

Has he abused me since I left though?

When he called educational welfare.
When he told the police that I’d stolen from him.
When he told everyone I knew I was suicidal and unstable.
When he told social services I was crazy and a danger and had made up the abuse.
When he repeated all of the above to a family court judge.

I know the tactic. He was trying to overwhelm me so completely, make my mind such a mess I couldn’t think straight so as he seemed a viable option to me.

It didn’t work.

The abuse didn’t stop when I left and that’s why it caused so much trauma.

Let me reassure you if I can though. As horrifying and difficult as I found family court in particular, I’m still here. My family are still free.

If you’re at the beginning of your journey away from abuse or are even still in that relationship don’t be frightened by the fact it’s hard. 
The thing is with every day and week and month that you are away physically from the abuser you grow. You develop tools to equip you to deal with the desperate tactics he’ll employ to regain control. 
You’ll have people around you who tell you you can do this so fervently their faith in you will see you through when your own wanes. Even if these people are online confidantes because you’re maybe still estranged from your friends and family.
I’m going to talk about the Freedom Programme again, but that course will equip you with your very own survival pack full of tools to make you able to deal with the attempts your perpetrator may use to regain control.

I’m here at the other side.

He still makes the occasional attempt to grasp some control by using contact with the children (a very common tactic) it’s so weak now though that grasp he used to have on me that it barely registers.
Seeing him in the street doesn’t trigger an anxiety attack, seeing his name in my email inbox doesn’t make my blood run cold. Even just 3 or 4 years ago I’d not have thought that possible.

The attempts at control will happen intermittently for a while yet. I know this. I’m prepared now though. Thanks to supportive, protective, nurturing friends and family. Thanks to the Freedom Programme for the knowledge and power.

Thanks to all this I have all the tools I need to keep us out of his reach.

I never thought this could be the case, but it really is.

It really is possible to not realise you are being abused

Domestic abuse rarely begins with a beating. In my experience and from talking to other women I know this to be the case. Often, by the time the first blow is struck (and sometimes this never happens) abuse can have been taking place for months or years.

I’ve wanted to write about emotional abuse for a while now but I can’t seem to do it justice. I’m not sure if even now after all these years, part of me still feels daft for mentioning it and that’s where it is so clever and powerful. I feel silly for telling you someone calling me fat caused me trauma, that someone telling me everyone laughed at me but him kept me in place. This is years down the line so maybe you can imagine when you’re in that place how hard it is to talk to people about what’s going on.

Emotional abuse is powerful in it’s subtlety. It’s a chipping away so gentle it feels like love at the start. A physical attack is like someone taking a hammer to a brick wall and smashing it with brute force until it’s destroyed. Emotional abuse is more like a gentle, gradual picking away at the cement between the bricks until one day the wall collapses, to the eyes of the world all on its own.

Looking back in hindsight as a free woman I can see how gradual emotional abuse was and how easy it was to mistake for being cared for.

What ended up with being screamed at about what a vile looking person I was, that I was so ugly looking at me made him sick began with comments about how I should change what I was wearing because I looked so nice in a different outfit. I felt flattered back then he preferred one outfit.

What ended with me being isolated from the outside world began with him asking me to stay in with him instead of going out with my friends because he loved me and would miss me too much.

What ended with me being accused of sleeping with every guy I came across, being called vile names and not daring wear make up began with him advising me that a certain guy liked me and maybe I should not chat with them so much so as not to hurt their feelings down the line.

I struggle to connect the start points to the end points in these examples. I certainly can’t fill in the gaps between. Herein is its power. Such a sneaking increase in power and control disguised as love is hard to understand. It’s hard to notice when you’re in it, it’s hard to understand from the outside. It’s so very damaging though.

For me, the after effects of emotional abuse have been far greater than that of physical abuse.
It’s the reason I struggle sometimes with how I look, the reason I can’t stand compliments and the reason I suffer with self doubt.
It’s the reason I can’t envisage doing the love stuff, I’d be distrustful of it.

I’ve made great strides of course after years of working on the issues he left me with. I hope I’ll continue to and one day look back to even now and see more strides that have been made. After all, those brick walls I was speaking about earlier, rebuilding better and stronger than ever is always an option.

My Facebook page is here

The Pramshed

The Mummy Bubble

Signs I need to reduce family screen time!!

I’ve always been strict on screen time. Limited time a day, switch to reading before bedtime etc etc. I’ve been running discipline in this house with console bans for almost a decade. I’m probably too strict on it but I can’t really help that!

Some days though, when everyone is bickery and the teens can’t sit in the same room without a row screens are a bit of a sanity saver! Only recently I’ve probably let things slide a little, here are some signs screens are taking over the family. Maybe some of you (please don’t let it just be me?!) can identify.

The kids think they can pull the wool over mums eyes.
I tell teen girl tablets were meant to have been off ten minutes ago. She responds by telling me it’s OK though as she’s just reading a book on hers! Of course! If that book is called Chatting To Friends And Thinking Mum Is A Dimwit.

The phrase “two tics” becomes code for never.
When the boys are engrossed in Stupid Football Game (you may know it as Football Manager) the world continues around them, they’re just totally unaware. Calling into their room to ask them to do the tiniest task such as fetch the dirty washing will be with the phrase “OK mum, two tics” immediately to be forgotten about forever.

You put on a family movie and no one glances at the tv
I decide we’ll have some family movie time. Put on a film then glance across to see everyone sat looking at individual screens, not one pair of eyes on the big one with the movie… Sigh.

Games and reality blur
This is mainly a problem with Stupid Football Game. One of the boys will announce that Hull City have signed Jamie Vardy, for me to get excited until I realise they mean ON THE GAME!!

I begin to sound like my mam.
She would always question why I was phoning my friends the minute I walked in from school (remember when you actually used to speak to people on the actual phone! The landline at that!) I find myself using similar words to teen girl when she comes in and turns her tablet on to chat to the friends she left 5 mins ago. I say things like “what do you have to talk about? You’ve been together all day” Oh my!!

You communicate with people in the same house as you via screen. Usually goes like this.
I ask someone to put the kettle on. Nothing happens (or I’m told 2 tics).
I take photo of kettle (yes I know if I’m close enough to take pics I’m close enough to put it on myself but it’s a battle of wills now) Send pic to teens.
Still no response.
Send pic of my looking sad at an empty cup.
Someone rolls their eyes and says I should have just asked!!

So yes super strict screen time mum needs to make a comeback. Tell you something though, all these screens are very handy when you want to escape with a book for half an hour. Yes an actual book… NOT a Kindle either!