Monthly Archives: November 2016

Could you do me a favour? 

I’ve talked often and with so much gratitude about The Freedom Programme. 

When I began the programme I had only been away from abuse a matter of months and whilst I was physically away and safe, mentally was a whole other thing. 

Doing that course saved my sanity. 
Every woman in that room knew the abusive guy (I know they all think they’re smartly individual – they’re actually tediously similar)They use the same lines, they display the same behaviours,they share a way of thinking. We shared their way of thinking for a while. 

After this course my mindset was different. I’d been handed the tools to help me deal with what I’d been through, being a group settings had helped me realise that ‘it wasn’t just me’ 

I’d advise anyone who has been through an abusive relationship or who is still in one to do The Freedom Programme. 

I wrote here about doing the programme helped me feel sane.

 I wrote here about how it alleviated burdening mum guilt. 

And here about how important it is to feel believed when you begin to tell your story. In that room, with those women there was no judgement, no blame no disbelief and that was what I desperately needed. 

Leaving an abusive relationship is a terrifying traumatic thing. To feel supported and listened to and understood helps us as we begin to repair ourselves. 

So here’s my favour – Please, please, please could you just click here and vote for the Freedom Programme to be able to secure funds to help them to continue to help women. To aid them in helping to change lives. 

Just like they did mine. 

My Facebook page is here

I’m @daydreamer_mum on Twitter 

Advertisements

Life after abuse : The  social services trauma 

I wanted to document some of my journey after abuse. When I first started to blog many of the experiences were all a bit too raw and painful to even think about. Only now at the other side am I able to document some of it with a more personal voice, telling my own story. Hoping it makes anyone going through the same know that they are not alone.

There were 3 things my abuser told me whilst I was in the relationship that would happen if I left. I’m sure anyone who has been in a similar situation can already guess them, these guys aren’t overly creative – cut from the same shitty cloth rings a bell.

“No one will believe you about the abuse ”

Everyone will think you are crazy” 

“you’ll lose the kids ”

These three things were said so often that in the end it seeped into my psyche and it became fact in my messed up mind. 

When I left, sure enough, he attempted to make all these things true. 

I spoke here about having to prove I was sane. 

No one believing me though, that was the biggie and coupled with the fear of losing my children it was the hardest thing to overcome. 

I’d left my abuser. I’d moved away from home where we were all loved to run away to safety. 

So my abuser got out the big guns. 

Social services. 

He wanted my children removed, they’d be better in care than with me, I was unstable and not fit to look after them he’d claimed. 
He’d also filed for full residence of the children at this time, I’d done the same so the court ordered a report to be written by social services to help them make a decision. 

I’ll say, as I always do, I cannot prove any abuse. I have no evidence, no charges were ever brought. (Please if you are in an abusive relationship if it’s at all safe to do so note incidents, dates, times, witnesses. Only if it’s safe though and  there’s no way the abuser will come across your notes.) 

This put me on the back foot from the off and my trying to explain my experience to the social worker was met with much talk of “your word against his” 

Having your parenting raked over with a fine toothcomb I’m sure any parent can imagine is a pretty horrific affair. 

Every room in my house was inspected (I’d ran here with absolutely nothing so my house at that time was sporting a minimal vibe at best! ) 

I was interviewed at length about why I was stopping a father see his kids. I was told how upset he was, how he’d broken down in front of her. Course he did –  turning on the tears was a very effective tactic for him. I in turn weren’t showing emotion, why was this? Well I’ll tell you why it was. It was because I was numb. Completely numb, I’d had to shut down my emotions just to survive living with the guy sobbing into his hanky currently. (One time I did cry and concerns were raised that this could be an indication I was unstable!) 

My children were interviewed at school, drilled about what I fed them? What we did together? How they felt about living here?  Did they miss their father? 

A meeting was called IN SCHOOL! This made me sick to the stomach, I’d not lived here long I was trying to make a good impression in a new school, start afresh and now I had to sit here whilst every bit of my life and my family were discussed around a table of strangers. Thankfully school were so supportive and I’ll always be grateful but honestly I felt like the worst human being on the planet during those days. I just knew though, I had faith that if I just jumped through their hoops the truth would out. 

In a positive of all this attention, the focus was also on him. He was also looked at, observed. 

It went on for months that ever present worry of social services, visits and interviews and having to prove myself. It was without  doubt the hardest period of my life. There were days I doubted myself. It’s unsurprising though, that when faced with the possibility of a court choosing that your children should live with him, you find strength. 

You find so much strength, so much fight. 

I was granted full residence of the children at social services recommendation. I felt validated by that. Yes hard questions had been asked of me, yes people doubted my ‘story’ about the abuse, yes it was humiliating beyond belief to be investigated so throughly when I’d done nothing wrong. You do whatever is necessary though. You have to. 

To anyone currently going through this I know how hard and soul destroying it is. To have someone gaslight your experiences to professionals, to barely be able to function with worry that they’ll believe him and you could lose your children. Hold on tight though, hold on tight and keep your head and surround yourself with people who care for you and have your back throughout this. You and your children deserve a happy, free life and that can be there for you at the end of this. 

I’m living proof of that. 

My Facebook page is here


Mummy Times Two

Life after abuse:Proving I was sane

I wanted to document my personal experiences of the domestic abuse in a few blogs. I know in the midst of, and indeed the aftermath of abuse you can feel like you’re the only one to ever go through this. 

You’re not. 
Once it became apparent to my abuser that I wasn’t going to return ,he realised he had to change his tactics.
He could no longer control me so his attention turned to controlling how others saw me. A very common tactic , I’ve since learned.

The guy is convincing , really almost Oscar worthy in his weeping and wailing and playing the wronged father who has had his children whisked away for no good reason. I know that so , so many of you unfortunately know exactly what I’m talking about here.

It began with him telling all my friends and family that the reason I’d left was that I’d had a breakdown , that I was suicidal. He only wanted to know where I was because he was so worried about me.

I began to suffer badly with anxiety , though I didn’t yet realise that’s what this was. I developed an irrational fear of fainting in public , it was so horrible. I was convinced every time I crossed a road with the children that I was going to faint mid crossing and we’d all be killed. Many , what I now know to know to be, anxiety symptoms made an appearance. Horrid tummy pains , racing mind , disrupted breathing patterns , numb face all showed up whilst I was just tying to deal with this monumental thing I’d done by leaving. At this time I wasn’t aware it was anxiety and I began to wonder if this was in fact a breakdown , that maybe I was losing my mind.

Thankfully my new GP was a marvel. She was the most reassuring presence in a panicky , scary mess. She helped me more than I even realised at the time. She was the first stranger to say she believed me , she was the first person to assure me that I wasn’t going crazy and in fact this was all a natural reaction to the situation I was in. She referred me to counselling and put me in touch with the Freedom Programme – the course that not only saved my sanity but began to help me put myself back together.

Comforted and strengthened by the reassurance I found the anxiety easier to deal with , it wasn’t pleasant but it was liveable with.

Then came the abusers trump card – family court ( I’ll come back to that in particular in another post) and as a special double whammy -social services (again whole other post)

I’d found him telling all my friends and family I was crazy embarrassing and uncomfortable but this was up a gear. I found myself having to defend myself against claims that  I was unstable and as such surely I couldn’t be the good mother I was claiming to be ? Also I had made all the abuse claims up hadn’t I? To justify why I’d ran away with his children?

That’s how I found myself having to prove I was sane.

Psychological testing was ordered by the court (on both of us )

So one day I found myself sat in a psychologists waiting room , the words of a social worker ringing in my ears

“If there is any evidence you’ve lied about the abuse , I will look at removing your children”

Me now , looking back, is furious that a so called professional could say such an appalling thing to a vulnerable woman. Me now would tell that woman that she is colluding with an abuser , that she is herself continuing to facilitate abuse. I’d tell her she can no way prove I’ve made anything up. I’d explain to her that her scepticism in my ‘story’ made me do the opposite and play down my experiences, I’d tell her that because of her words when a sympathetic police officer tried ever so gently to coax out of me what had happened and explained how he could help and how actions could be taken against my abuser I couldn’t do it.

Me then though , was an anxious , vulnerable woman who could only think about jumping through whatever hoops were necessary to keep my children. She didn’t have a voice then.

She does now.

Even then though , sitting in that office I still had faith. I wasn’t crazy , I wasn’t lying. That had to be apparent. He WAS lying , he couldn’t fool a professional surely? I’m not sure what my poor naïve self was expecting , did I think he’d crack under pressure? How daft of me.He’d been given an ear , someone to give him the time of the day , someone allowing him to talk about how he was the victim in all this . He thrived on that!

When I got in to the psychologist he was lovely and warm and did put me at ease. He asked such in depth , personal questions it was all very disarming . My (lovely) childhood was raked over ,the death of my parents ,  previous boyfriends discussed , did I think myself a good mother. I knew I just had to be the most honest I’d ever been. I was too, really hard for someone who doesn’t like people knowing her business (yes I get the irony of me now writing a blog about it for the whole internet to read- let’s say years of therapy have left me a bit more open and that can only be a change for the better)

After the initial chat I had to answer a multiple choice questionnaire which seemed to contain thousands of questions , this was what would flag up if you were a naturally deceptive person , how angry you were , your state of mind. I’m not a psychological expert and I’m sure it’s all very accurate but again a lot for an anxious person to deal with.

That was that.

The day I had to prove I was sane.

Oh and I did by the way….and it may have been a stressful experience to go through but to have the report in my hand that says I displayed nothing of concern bar the moderate anxiety we already knew about was good for me. At that time I needed that for me as much as for all the other eyes that were on me.

 

My Facebook page is here

 

 

 

 

Christmas ads fib!

I love a soppy Christmas advert, I do. They make me feel emotional and nostalgic and warm and fuzzy inside. You can’t beat them to make you really feel festive . They make me feel something else though too.. a bit of a failure. Our Christmases don’t look like the ones on the ads, I feel guilty about our non advert perfect Christmas.

Then I get a grip. It’s all fibs to fool you into buying stuff!! I’ve thought about the perfect Christmas scenes the ads sell us and how my more real scene unfolds at home!

 

Christmas ad scene :
Perfectly wrapped colour coordinated gifts under an exquisitely decorated tree. I’m always so jealous of the trees.

 

Real scene:
I’m a good gift wrapper. I love it, luxury paper, ribbons, bows, sprigs of holly (too far I know). That only extends as far as grown up gifts though. Kids gifts are usually wrapped in £1 a roll Asda special paper. The tree?? Oh my!! I let littlest girl decorate the tree so it’s now become her thing. She’s so giddy and enthusiastic about it and the tree always looks… interesting.

 

Ad scene :
Gorgeously dressed table, glistening turkey, perfectly cooked vegetables, mountains of food.

 

Real scene :
I do a good line in table dressing. I can compete with an M&S ad, no problem.
It. Ends. There.
Lovely food on the table, candles, place names it’s all there. Then I take my seat at the table. There’s a call of “where’s the pigs in blankets?”
I can’t even say ‘shit!’ silently in my head what with it being Christmas so I rescue the pork products from the oven JUST before they burn and return to the table. I should confess here that dinner is always at least an hour later than I say it’ll be. It’s become a tradition.
Soooo.. dinner late, close call with the pigs in blankets but it’s OK. We’re still on for ad perfect Christmas dinner. Let’s pull the crackers.
Chaos ensues – cracker pulling elbows knock over drinks. I can’t say ‘shit!’ silently in my head with it being Christmas. I chirp ‘It’s fine’ clean up mess and yet again return to the table.
“mummy my gravy tastes of lemonade”
For jingle bellsy  ho ho ho sakes!!

 

Ad scene:                                                                                                                                                     Huge family Christmas
Loads of kids, mum and dad, aunts and uncles, grandparents. Everyone smiling and dozing and having fun.

 

Real Scene :                                                                                                                                                Loads of kids, that I can do. Other than the kids though, there’s just me! Lots of smiles though… well until the early start and excitement catches up with everyone and there’s a bickerfest around 5ish!

 

Ad scene :
The bit at the end where mum sits on the sofa, sighs a huge sigh and curls up with a much deserved glass of wine.

 

Real scene :
There’s a brief sit down post dinner before tackling the washing up. Glass of wine that was poured with lunch remains largely untouched but slurps are stolen as operation clean up begins. Then time to prepare supper buffet. Doctor Who is sit down time though. That’s the rules.

 

So our Christmas isn’t ad picture perfect.

 

Our tree decs are wonky. Dinner will almost certainly be late and missing a vital ingredient. There are only the kids and I and no rest until Doctor Who. You know what though?? That’s our perfectly, unperfect Christmas.

I love it.

My Facebook page is here is you fancy a look

 

Being 36

It’s my birthday next month,time for a  bit of a reflection at the year gone by and this past one, well it feels significant. Important in a really understated kind of way. Worth documenting I hope as maybe in years to come I’ll look back and re read this blog to get an idea of where I was at any given time.

Nothing earthshattering has happened this year. I’ve not married a Mr Perfect type or written that book or moved to the country to run a tea shoppe. . but I’ll keep those in the 10 year plan-dream big as we say!

This year feels more like a lot of little things that have come together and maybe I’m at a bit of a turning point!

Firstly I think this past year is one where I finally really believe I’ve conquered the domestic abuse demons. I’m not saying I’m now unaffected by what I went through. I am. I always will be, but I’ve made my peace with that. I’m one of the lucky ones, still here to tell my story.

The kids and are all free and content and there was a time for years and years that I never believed that to be possible. I’d accepted that life as my lot and never thought I could escape it. This year is one where I feel stronger by what I went through rather than weaker. I hope I can build on that in the coming year and use it to help women in that situation if at all I can.

Another big deal for me this year was sharing this blog with people I know. I know that doesn’t seem huge

“woman in writes a load of waffle and shares it online shocker”

People who know me though, know how much of a closed book I’ve always been. I’m a listener rather than a talker and I’d never in a million years be able to verbalise some of what I write about here. Speaking about my feelings is still tricky, writing them though, well as you’ve seen it’s more tricky to get me to stop.

So thank you for all being so kind and not picking me up constantly on all my writing fails *kisses you all*

Family wise this year has been a biggie. The eldest turned 16. He passed his GCSEs… We, as a family, survived GCSEs – pretty impressive.
I’m so lucky to have these 4, my quirky little family . I’m sure testing times will be on the horizon, that’s parenting teens for you but I’m sure we can get through it.  I’m very lucky to be their mum- some days they likely don’t feel the same I make so many mum mistakes but as I always say, I’m only ever making it up as I go along.

On a personal level this year is the one where I’ve managed to shake off my ice Queen tendencies. I’ve finally, aged 36 managed to pull down the KEEP YOUR DISTANCE barriers I’ve had up for a very very long time! I even dated and did cuddling and handholding and the likes with with a man. He may have helped as well with the ice queen thawing with his all round loveliness and compliments I actually believe. I mean holding out to this age to get crush over a guy is really quite lame, but better late than never don’t they say!

Good job 36 I say! ! It’s in no way been plain sailing and it’s not over just yet, but it’s so far been pretty positive on the whole.

The year writing my blog helped hugely in  dealing  with the past, that I’ve had great fun with my nutty family and a man managed to thaw my icy knickers a bit.

I’d not have predicted any of that this time last year – wonder where we’ll be this time next year! (please please please be good I’ll locate 4 leaved clovers and a lucky rabbits foot and try really hard not to  smash any mirrors)


Parents of small children – this too shall pass! 

I write this post in my bedroom, slouched on my bed with a cup of tea.

The children are playing on Mario Kart together (yes they’ve gone retro)

There is no arguing (yet)

It’s a calm Sunday.

No one needs me.
No one needing me used to really bother me. I hated it, I couldn’t just leave them alone to play together. I’d have to squeeze myself into their games and conversations as I just couldn’t stand the fact I was no longer necessary all the time as I once had been.

Then I got a grip. I realised maybe this was it. Maybe a chapter of a book in peace was my reward for all the teething and nappy changing and separation anxiety and colic. I’d be a fool not to take advantage right?

So, parents of small children. I was once you, my children are now 16,14, 13 and 8 but I once had 3 under 3. I’ve fought the good fight, I’ve got the battlescars, but now I’m at the other side. Let me share with you the light at the end of the vomit splattered tunnel.

One day you will drink tea hot again

Bullshit you’re thinking, putting the kettle on is merely an act of defiance and hope during toddler years, nothing comes from it.

One day friends it will-one day the children will even make the tea for you! Yes you’ll be the one cleaning up the mess but that’s besides the point. Unfortunately if you’re like me and a bit fussy about your tea (I’m a Yorkshire girl it’s in my blood) this novelty will wear off as only you yourself can be trusted to make a decent cuppa but hey, thought that counts.

One day you will have an uninterrupted phone call. 

There’ll not be wailing the second you pick up the phone, you’ll not have to chat with a person attached to your leg. There’ll not be cries of “me talk!!” from a little person. It’ll just be a quiet chat. Should teens interupt phone calls the threat to do the same to them next time they’re on the phone generally works as discouragement.

One day Cbeebies will no longer be on your TV 

You’ll miss it too! Not just because you fancy Bloom either. Here’s a post I wrote when I realised our time with ‘beebies’ was over.

A time will come when you can bathe alone. 

It will. I promise.

No one using the toilet whilst you’re trying to enjoy the aromatic joy of patchouli.

No bath invasions that begin with 2 toddlers diving in to join you and end in you getting out and leaving them to it,cursing having used your expensive bath oils and wishing you’d have just poured the radox in.

No helpful pre schoolers thinking your bath looks a bit boring devoid of toys so throwing in every toy they own for you. .. Plus a couple of loo rolls, a pair of knickers and a bottle of mouthwash!

Clock change will make no difference at all. 

You’re always the first one up anyway and, don’t wet yourselves with glee, but you wake up of your own accord! ! They can arse about with clocks all they like but a teen who doesn’t rise until lunchtime is not going to be affected. That extra hour in bed they speak of? It’s real people and you one day shall feel it too!

I know it may seem I’m boasting but I promise I’m not. It’s just I remember during the chaos years I truly believed sleep and solo loo trips were a thing of the past forever.

That’s not the case.

The most pain in the arse bit about being here on the other side though is this.

You get a little sad that all upset your child feels can no longer be cured by a magic mummy kiss.

You feel mournful that no one needs you to read them a bedtime story.

There’s a twinge of guilt that those baby days you often wished away are gone.

You know what you do when you feel that way though?

Pour a large glass of wine, run a hot, deep bubble bath and take a book in there with you. Enjoy a long, uninterrupted soak and remember – you earned this!



My Facebook page is here

Mission Mindfulness

Shared parenting at Christmas (sucks!) 

Once upon a time small girl’s daddy and I rocked shared parenting, and my we were smug about it. Check us out not having to split Christmases or argue over who’s turn it was to have birthdays. We spent most our free time together with all four kids, holidaying and sharing days out and birthdays.

Wow aren’t we mature we’d think.

We’d spend Christmases together all 6 of us,small girl’s daddy coming over first thing Christmas morning, having dinner then staying the night so he could have a festive glass or two.  Our unconventional, yet workable family unit served us well for a good few years.

Pride, as they say though, comes before a fall.

We fell.

Mr and Ms Smuggington are no more.

The point came where it just didn’t work anymore, there was way too much bickering and sniping and it all just stopped feeling nice. It’s a shame but it happened and the last few years have been very different.
Christmas is somewhat of a battleground now.

Who gets Christmas eve?

How do we share small girl’s time on Christmas day?

Can we agree not to make gift giving a competition?

Who gets to do panto?

What about New Year?

It’s an exhausting exercise in compromise and putting small girl first but oh it’s hard and stressful and fraught with resentment in all honesty.

Turns out I’m not great at sharing. As I always say, I dislike the term Shared Parenting (Co-parenting doesn’t feel right either!) We don’t ‘share’ small girl like she’s an object, we do though share her time. At Christmas time more than any other I have to rein in wanting to have it all.

All her time.

I want to do Christmas markets and ice skating and panto.

I want to do Christmas eve baking and crafting and I want to do our Christmas eve hamper.

I want to watch Christmas movies in brand new pj’s with hot chocolate on Christmas Eve with ALL my children.

I want to read small girl’s Christmas bedtime story.

I desperately want her to wake here Christmas day, to open presents before breakfast.

I want her at OUR table for Christmas dinner then to play with her new toys before all of us snuggling to watch Doctor Who before bed. ..

I’m sure daddy would like the same, he’s a brilliant daddy and that little girl of ours is very lucky. The elder 3 are stuck with just me!

However I know I can’t have it all. I know I have to give a little, I know small girl loves her time with her daddy as much as with us. It’s not easy though, doesn’t get any easier with time.

Grown up, mature ‘small girl’s needs come first’ me will make an appearance once Christmas negotiations kick in.

Responsible parent me will make compromises and sacrifices and tell herself it’s just one day.

Rational, semi sane me will bite her tongue and take deep breaths.

Then, when negotiations are done and plans are made I’ll pour myself a large glass of wine, swear a bit, maybe throw something and likely have a little cry.

It’s OK though because Christmas will be great. Small girl and indeed my elder 3 will all have a fun time. They always do.

Small girl is comfy, cosy and happy and settled at either house because (say through gritted teeth if necessary but. ..) shared parenting works for her.

She has different, fun traditions at each house. She does declare daddy’s Christmas dinner the best though which makes me want to serve roast daddy for Christmas dinner,  but she always enjoys her Christmas. She’s always happy and declares every year to be ‘the best Christmas ever!’ and really, grumpy mummy aside, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it??

 


My Facebook page is here