Category Archives: domestic abuse

I haven’t forgotten and I certainly do not forgive

These days , so many years after I left the abusive relationship I do at times have to communicate with the man who abused me . 

When I first left this was a massive anxiety trigger for me.Just seeing his name in my e-mail inbox had me struggling to breath and my heart racing. The fight or flight reflex was still very much in place even though I was physically away from him. His name alone was still so closely linked with terror and the anticipation of something awful happening.

This is no longer the case.

I see his name in my e-mail. I roll my eyes. I maybe mutter “what does this twat want now ”  under my breath but there’s no fear there. There’s boredom at having to read his over friendly words as though I’m some old friend he’d lost contact with. There’s mild irritation in his choice of over familiar language and his appalling spelling. Nothing about it causes me panic anymore though.I can arrange him seeing the kids ,I can deal with emails .

One thing about having to communicate with him though ,now we’re so far down the line , is that he seems to have expected that I have forgotten what he did. That he can make attempts at humour or that he can project some kind of united front when he talks of ‘our’ kids or makes observations about the children as though he knows them oh so well. That he can add lol to the end of a sentence cos we’re old buddies now , never mind all that torturous abuse that was just bants mate come on lol with me!!

It seems to him that because I tolerate communication from time to time everything that has gone before is swept under the carpet. He acts as though we’re exes who had a bitter break up but so many years later it’s all healed and fine.

Well no.

He doesn’t get to rewrite history. He doesn’t get to edit and censor my experiences. I know he’s done this himself. I know he has a story he tells people about our relationship and why it ended as subsequent girlfriend’s have sought me out once they’ve split with him. He’s chosen a story for himself (you’ve probably heard it many of you – psycho ex stopping him seeing his kids???) He tells his story to friends and family and new in laws.

Don’t try and tell that story to me though. I was there.

I was there the first time he ever hit me (in an Odeon carpark , he hated the movie , it was American Beauty)

I was there the first time I lied about marks on my face (it was at work ,I said I’d fallen out of bed)

I was there when I was putting something heavy against the bedroom door so I could just please nap when I was exhausted and pregnant without him flying through the door in a rage at my laziness.

I was there when every special day , Christmas , kids birthdays , were spoilt by him having toddler tantrums because all the attention was away from him.

I was there through the really dark times.

The ones I won’t even write about because I won’t give them oxygen.

I remember every last one though.

Every last detail.

Every last word he said.

So you see never would I want to be pally with someone like that . I’m never going to engage in anecdotes about these amazing children with him. I’m not going to “lol” at his far from hilarious quips. 

Should he mistake my bare minimum communication for forgiveness then he is so very wrong . Remembering is my strength. It’s my reassurance that I did the right thing all those years ago and the only forgiveness I’m interested in showing to anyone in that situation is to the scared girl who packed up her kids and fled.



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Not Just the 3 of Us

           


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#Blogtober17 – day 25 – year in review – My year in blog posts

Aarrgh I’ve fallen behind with Blogtober , so playing catch up by a day at minute. 

As such I’m afraid this is a bit of a lazy one , I’m sorry . My year in review is going to be a year in blog posts.

January 

2017 was to be the year my elder 3 children were to gain a step mum. Always going to be tricky . I wrote a letter to my children’s soon to be stepmum , and that was our year off to a start!

FEBRUARY 

Always a hectic month here. The middle two children’s birthdays are just over a week apart. Also my sister’s birthday in Feb , and of course so much Valentine post I don’t know what to do with makes for a busy February. I wrote a  slushfest of a letter to my youngest son to celebrate his 15th birthday.

MARCH 

Mother’s day month. This year was a really lovely mother’s day. Now the kids are older they’re ok to go out shopping and choose me a gift as opposed to me picking present from them. Mother’s Day can be really tough if you’re a single mum so I wrote hints and tips for mother’s day for single mums

APRIL 

The children are all getting older ,seemingly at a speedier pace than ever before. At 17,16 and 15 they just don’t need me in the same way that they once did and had a bit of a midlife/kids getting older crisis

MAY 

May was a big month for a blogger!! I attended BlogOn a blogging conference , my first ever one. I picked up some great tips and was proud of myself for having the courage to go! Also in May there was a blogger storm when the Daily Mail *eye roll* published a piece ripping mum bloggers to shreds. The response from bloggers made me really proud to be part of the community and I wrote a love letter to mum bloggers as an antidote

JUNE 

Was another month where reading judgy articles in newspapers made my blood boil. I wrote about how my children do not come from a broken home

JULY 

OMG….

I’m still not over the excitement…

It still makes me giddy with tummy butterflies when I think of it!!

In fact it’s one of my 2017 highlights!

WE GOT A FEMALE DOCTOR!!!!

We are huge Doctor Who fans in this house and I was so overwhelmed that the next Doctor will be female it made me Ice Queen girl into a total crybaby , amongst other things

AUGUST

I’ve lots of family highlights to look back on in 2017 , a personal one though for me has to be a trip to Edinburgh Fringe. 

It sounds like the hugest exaggeration but it was a total mindset changer!

SEPTEMBER 

Back to school!!!!

I made new school year resolutions

I’m not doing so badly so far  , I think I have upped my organisational game ever so slightly!!!!

OCTOBER 

So here we are !!!

I decided to take part in Blogtober. A blogging challenge that means blogging every day in October. I thought it would be interesting to test myself to write based on prompts rather than just whatever pops into my brain. 

I had fun writing an A-Z of me!!

NOVEMBER

Ok not yet arrived but willing to bet on it being a rainy one here in Manchester. As part of Blogtober I put together a guide to rany day activities in Manchester 

DECEMBER 

Again still to come but last year I wrote a letter to a woman in an abusive relationship at Christmas time . So I’ll just leave this here.

So there’s my year in blog posts!!!

Wonder what I’ll have written about next year?!

Me too

Let me start by saying that so much has been written on this by people with way more depth of knowledge , by better ,more articulate writers but holding my thoughts on this in are starting to drive me nuts . So this is merely the 2 pence worth of a blogger with an opinion.

Everyone has seen the #metoo hashtag over social media the past couple of days. In the wake of the Weinstein allegations and Rose Macgowan’s subsequent suspension from Twitter over a tweet she sent about another actor a call for women to boycott Twitter in protest went up.

The point was raised and I agreed wholeheartedly that by reacting to women being silenced by voluntarily silencing ourselves was not quite right . That instead let’s speak out, let’s shout,lets flood Twitter with our voices telling our stories.

#metoo is women telling their stories of sexual harassment and sexual abuse in a bid to show exactly how widespread it is.

It’s also women not wanting to , some not able to talk about their experience. Not wanting to give light to their trauma but using #metoo just to stand in solidarity and say yes this has happened to me too.

I truly believe that there are very few women who have never been subject to harassment and abuse of this kind. Most of us have numerous occasions we could talk about. When I first heard about me too I immediately off the top of my head recalled half a dozen occasions. That was without even sitting down and thinking about it. Most women I know would say the same I think.

We’ve been yelled at out of cars and vans , felt shame at the “nice tits” comments and immediately yanked up our tops.

We’ve been rubbed up against on public transport , our space encroached on ,our bodies forced to make contact with an unwanted crotch.

We’ve been touched inappropriately yet felt too ashamed to cause a fuss!

We’ve been in one on one situations with creepy guys and felt so intimidated we’ve nervously laughed off inappropriate comments and behaviour, worried what the consequences of not would be.

We’ve been pushed further than we want to go sexually , pressurised , bullied to get us to do things we’re not comfortable with.

We’ve been raped.

Out in the street we should be safe walking down.

In our own bed , a place that should be full of comfort, by a man who we’re married to , who says he loves us as he abuses us.

By relatives , by friends , by co-workers.

These things , all these things have often happened repeatedly , they’ve been happening since we were teenagers.

We’ve often never spoken about them .

We feel ashamed , and embarrassed.
We blame ourselves , we know others will blame us too.

We can’t articulate what’s happened or we downplay it.

So if just by saying me too that makes other women feel less alone , or shows how many of us have suffered then just those words can be strong.

I hate leaving a post on a depressing note but on this one I can’t do any other. 

The thing is , I think in ten years time nothing much will have changed. 

I don’t have all the answers , I wish I did.

I fear though that our daughters , our friends , our neighbours in a decade’s time will still be saying #metoo



Bringing up Georgia


I found myself !!(in a theatre in Edinburgh)

Ok , I’ll level with you here. This is going to be a bit of an egocentric post. It’s probably going to also read like an X Factor sob story! Talk of a journey and everything!! Flying Without Wings should really be playing in the background!!….. I’ll keep it short??Deal???

A while ago I wrote about how after the abusive relationship I’d harboured an unrealistic expectation that I’d return to be the girl I was before I met him ( it’s here if you want a read

It took me years to realise this would never be the case : abuse changed me. 

That 18 year old pre-him.

She was gone.

Over the years I’ve ploughed my time into the obvious child rearing. I’d dragged them up here , least I could do is to ensure they are happy and settled (turns out children are very adaptable )

Then I had a little wobble about how the kids were getting older and didn’t need me anymore and who am I? if they don’t need me?

I wrote an identity crisis bucket list , things I wanted to do because I loved them. To try to ‘find myself’ (urgh I know, so sorry did warn you of x factor speak …though I did also say I’d keep it short I guess!)
On the list was Edinburgh Festival. Something I’d always fancied. A whole weekend of theatre ….sign me up!!
When I was alone on my trip was when I realised. I needed to prove myself to myself of all people.

I’ve shaken off how I was called fat,ugly and stupid on a daily basis during the abusive relationship. I no longer believe any of this to be true. I also no longer believe I am worthless and the worst mum. I don’t believe people cringe when I speak and I bore everyone.

I’m not bluffing either. I don’t believe those things about myself anymore. 

Yet here’s the thing. Up until this weekend I did expect that was how I was seen by others. I did worry my chat bored people silly and they found me dull and boring.That I was just that mum with a load of kids in other people’s eyes.

I spoke to so many different people last weekend though , men ,women all different ages and that worry that I was dull and had nothing to contribute never crossed my mind once. 

Then I realised, THIS is me. That real me I’d been searching for. I’m sociable and chatty and friendly. I’m not anxious about chatting to strangers ,I like it. I’m the woman absolutely in her element in a gorgeous city with lovely people with wall to wall to theatre.

That’s me

I quite like her


My Facebook page is here

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I’m resentful…and it’s strange

The man who abused me is getting married in a few weeks.

It’s provoking a few strange emotions in me.

Ordinarily these days I rarely think of him. He took up so much space in my mind for so long. I simply don’t allow him any more. Having to organise the summer holidays though and work things out with the children ‘The Wedding’ comes up a lot and I’ve had to communicate with him way more than I usually do. So hand in hand with that I have been feeling a little unsettled .

It would maybe be expected to maybe go through a train of thought of wondering why he could behave normally and decently with someone else. It’d maybe be expected for me to wonder what it was I did to make him behave that way.

I don’t though. 

Not one bit.

Mainly thanks to therapy and The Freedom Programme I know that there was nothing at all I did that caused him to behave that way.
Nothing.
That is all on him.
He chose to be abusive.

A secondary reason I’m not having those kind of thoughts though is because I don’t believe he has changed. To have changed would mean taking responsibility,seeking help to alter your behaviour. However he still gaslights my experiences by never ever having admitted how he behaved.

So with not believing he has changed ,that brings with it a sense of responsibility towards his wife to be. I wrote a note to her here detailing how futile I know it is for me to tell my story ,to attempt to warn her off.

I wish there was a way I could keep her safe but it’s frustrating as hell that there is nothing I can do.

Mainly though the strongest feeling I have in regards to this situation is a whole heap of resentment. 

I’ve spoken about how that relationship left me numb for a very long while. There are many negative feelings about what happened to me that I have dealt with and then tucked away , anger being the main one.

Resentment though that’s been niggling a while.

I’m resentful that he gets to get on with his life ,having the normal grown up relationships whilst I was left so broken only now almost a decade on can I even ever so gently begin to date.

I’m resentful that I still and probably always will carry mental scars and struggle in certain situations whilst he gets to carry on without a care in the world.

I’m resentful that my children are being dressed up and shown off at this wedding and he will take credit for what amazing people they are despite not being in their lives for years.
I know it sounds like the whining of a bitter ex ,and this post is a bit of a whinge fest I’ll grant you. 
I document every huge stride I take in recovering from abuse though that it only seems honest to cover the tricky times.
I’m not sat here rocking in a corner or conjuring up complex revenge plans. I’m too healed for that.
I truly hope the kids have a fun day and enjoy themselves.

I just had to write this though.

I needed to document my feelings because amidst the champagne and the smiles and the happy ever afters….

I see him.
I know.

I remember.

So does he.

Out of my hands 

Back when we left the abusive relationship all those years ago.

Back when my now taller than me teenagers were still little tiny things. 

Back when my now college boy was still in infant school. 

Back when my articulate chatterbox 2nd born still couldn’t talk properly (damn you speech therapy it was THE cutest) 

Back when I thought baby no. 3 treating brother baiting as if it were an Olympic sport was a phase she’d grow out of (poor deluded me) 

Back then. 
I had one priority – to keep them safe. 

It was hard at times. I was still so damaged from the abuse, I wasn’t strong mentally but still that fundamental aim remained. 

Keep them safe. 

I often felt like I was fighting the whole entire world and noone would listen to me and help me. For years through the family court nightmare with social services dragged into our lives by him every concern I had was met with ‘he’s their father, he has a right to see them’ 

I had to stand firm and unwavering at a time when I’ve never felt so fragile, but I could do it for them- to keep them safe. 
The children have seen their dad intermittently. They go to their paternal grandparents every fortnight and though he rarely took up the opportunity I was clear he was welcome to visit them there.  I didn’t want to be keeping my children from their father. Don’t get me wrong it suited me when he didn’t bother, I’m not claiming to be a saint here. 

Now though, at almost 17,15 and 14 it’s no longer my call. It’s no longer my decision but theirs. It’s out of my hands. 
This weekend they’re going to stay at his house for the weekend for the very first time. I’m really not dealing with it very well. 
The thing is it’s no longer about their safety. They want to go and stay and I can’t stand in their way. They really like his girlfriend and I actually think she could be the draw of why they want to go. 

It’s not that I believe them to be in physical danger – believe me if I thought that was even a possibility they’d be going nowhere.  
The discomfort I’m feeling is for selfish reasons.  The thought of them being there has triggered all the old feelings. Mentally I’m transported back to when I first came here – fragile and vulnerable and just feels bloody horrid. 
When we first came here my anxiety manifested itself as a ridiculous phobia of fainting in public. My physical anxiety symptoms feel very much like that second before you faint. Erratic breathing, throat tightening, light headedness and back then I was new to the anxiety game and didn’t realise that’s what it was. It used to happen daily back then but it’s not happened that badly in a good 7 years. Then yesterday it happened again. I know it’s because of this weekend and I just can’t stand to feel this way. It feels as if all my strength and mental stability has been whisked away and I’m back to that shaken girl of old. 

I know it’s only temporary though. I know when they arrive home Sunday after a lovely weekend all will be back right with my world. I do know that so I’m going to try to take a positive from this. I’m going to use it to acknowledge to myself how far I have come, how I am a totally different stronger woman now. 

I did what I set out to do. I took my children out of an unhealthy environment and I kept them safe. 
I have 3 down, happy, level headed (most of the time) teenagers and I have to allow them the space to make a relationship with their father if they choose to. 
I kept them safe. 
I just was unprepared for the time to come when it was out of my hands.  

<br /><br /><br />
<a href=”http://www.motherofteenagers.com” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e14/Motherofteenagers/3%20rsz_1rsz_1rsz_teen_logo_launch_zpslcprplei.jpg” alt=”Mother of Teenagers” /></a><br /><br /><br />

It’s coming up to that time of the year again.. .. 

We’re here again. The anniversary of the date I left the abusive relationship is on the horizon. I think by now I’ve possibly bored you all with my take and insight on that particular subject. I just wanted to talk about The Freedom Programme though and what an invaluable resource it is when you’ve suffered abuse (or indeed still are) 

That scary day, all those years ago, that I fled I didn’t expect to succeed. I don’t remember much about that time due to a shed load of unhealthy coping mechanisms as I spoke about here. What I do remember about that day though was the fear. Standing at the train station with the kids – sick with fright fully expecting him to show up and force us back. To this day I still occasionally have dreams of that exact scenario happening. They’re truly horrible. 

I did do it though. I got away. 

That startled girl in new city though is a million miles from the woman I am now. I’d naively expected to be able to  shut the door on that relationship and magically transform back into the person I was before him. Confident and ambitious. It sounds silly but it came as a shock to me quite how damaged I was. Thankfully here, years of therapy and using this blog as an extension of that down the line I am in the main healed and healthy and stronger. 

My healing process began with The Freedom Programme. I’d really like to share with you how it helped me so much. 

Firstly the fact that it’s a group scenario becomes really helpful. I know I know! That ironically was what almost put me off doing it in the first place. I had no confidence back then. I could barely look anyone in the face. How could I stride into a room of women and talking about things I hadn’t even with my closest people?
Well of course it wasn’t like that. 
It was a room of kindness and gentleness. Women just like me, who had the same stories to tell as me. That’s where the fact it’s a group scenario becomes empowering. You’re so isolated when you’re in an abusive relationship the relief of another woman saying “me too” when you talk of your experiences is incredible. When you speak of incidents that you’ve not mentioned to others as you worry they’d be seen as trivial and women relate,that’s powerful. Nothing sounded silly to these women, they knew. They got it. 

Secondly it’s just a brilliantly put together programme. The woman who devised it really knows what she is talking about on this subject and you can feel it. 

Each week you look at a different side to the perpetrator, the different behaviour they use. For me I for  the  first time acknowledged shared beliefs with the perpetrator which really helped me gain an understanding. You also are introduced to his opposite. Identify the characteristics of a more supportive man. The decent human being. Helpful in itself. 

Another amazing thing I gained from doing the Freedom Programme is that it helped me to allow myself to let go off the guilt I felt for not being able to get  the children out of that environment sooner. I wrote a whole blog post covering that here but it really was weight of the world lifted off your shoulders stuff. 

Lastly, and really importantly, the Freedom Programme stays with you. Here I am still banging on about it all these years later, I probably will be in another 10 years. 

There’s a section in the programme about being able to identify early signs of abusive behaviour. Kind of red flag warnings you can spot at the beginning of a relationship. I come back to these often. Between learning these on the programme and a good few years of just interacting with people I do feel quite well equipped to spot a twat from a distance these days. It’s helpful.

 They. Are. Everywhere 
The ones just beginning to chip away at a beautiful woman. The ones further down the line in absolute control of other people. The ones still single yet give off a waft of ‘abusive tendencies’ so strong  you can almost choke on it. 

If you are experiencing abuse there are agencies that can help you. That can safely support you. There are a whole army of women out here ready to mobilise on your command. 

Refuge 

Women’s aid

And of course the brilliant Freedom Programme

Are all here if it’s safe for you to get online. 

Doing the Freedom Programme started off my healing from abuse in the most positive way. Writing this blog and years of therapy have a big  part in enabling that healing to continue and there are also some spectacular humans who have helped me to get to where I am now, which is in no way a spectacular place to be but thinking back at this  time of year is way better than I’d have dreamed my life could be back then. 

Thank you all of you 

Xxx

 


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She’s off on her soapbox again…

I am too.
I’m just so sickened and furious I can’t possibly not climb onto my soapbox. So forgive this long, rant post.
We currently live in a society where Tax Credits will only be paid for the first two children. I have thoughts on how we can meander into effectively being a 2 child state but they’re for another blog. I am aware that the welfare state is under excruciating pressure and that cuts have to come, again I’ve thoughts on why the cuts have to come from the poorest rather than the richest but again whole other blog post.
The one exemption to the 2 child law that is in place is if a third or subsequent child is “conceived as a result of rape or an otherwise coercive relationship”

All you have to do is fill in form NCC1 4/17 (an 8 page long document) to be assessed as to whether your rape counts or not.

Simple eh?

Nothing for you ladies to get your knickers in a twist about. The government are merely making sure they put a end to all those hoards of women getting themselves pregnant for benefits and one of those massive mansions some channel 5 documentary shows us they all live in.

I find this law abhorrent enough as it is. I can imagine many women having to struggle financially rather than go through the humiliation and reliving of a hugely traumatic event filling in the rape form then having to discuss it again with a third party.

The law itself isn’t what has me seething though (well it does but it seems I can get to a higher seething level). My issue here is that whoever dreamt up this Victorian, barbaric law and every person who signed it off along the way know nothing about domestic abuse and less than nothing about coercive control.

The thing that jumped out at me was that women still living with the father of children born through rape or in a coercive relationship are not allowed to claim this support.

So here we are at the first ridiculous notion. That if you are in an abusive relationship which, as they often do, include sexual abuse you are able to just pack up and leave. Now  even without taking into account the slashing of funding for women’s refuges, making it harder for those who are able to leave, there’s the simple fact that many women in abusive relationships can’t just leave. Here’s why I couldn’t.

Then we get to rape in relationships. The people who dreamt up this law are obviously those who are experts in how rape happens. They clearly think it’s exclusively something that only happens in dark alleys, by big scary monsters of men who attack strangers.

Rape doesn’t always happen in badly lit streets after dark. Sometimes it happens in a comfy bed, in her own home, by the man she loves.

Keep in mind too that a tactic abusive men use too is to keep a woman pregnant. Ensure she’s stuck in the house. Often she’s denied access to contraception as she’s not allowed solo doctors visits.

So the people at the top who make these laws. Well you’re doing the work of the abusive man for him here. You’re telling these women that you can’t be raped if you live with someone (he’s probably been telling her that for years) Then when he does impregnate her without her consent she’s going to struggle financially, trapping her further. Well done decision makers. Research a project called The Freedom Programme they’ve helped many a woman like me get to grips with their own abuse. I’m sure a little read could educate even the most ignorant.

The rape clause also tells us that children conceived as a result of a coercive relationship are also exempt from the 2 child policy.
Except again this women have to have left to count.

Sigh. .. .
Coercive control in its nature begins  so subtly you often don’t realise it’s even happening until it’s too late. You no longer question why you shouldn’t wear make up you just stop. You know you can no longer go out with your friends but are unsure how it got to that.
I can envisage many a scenario where coercive control in a relationship would result in pregnancy.
It’s the man telling his partner if she truly loved him she’d have a baby despite her not wanting one , after all doesn’t he live with the kids she already has by some other guy?
It’s the woman accused of having an affair because she doesn’t want to have sex. She knows from past history that line of questioning will likely end in violence so she lays and doesn’t protest whilst he has sex with her.
It’s the exhausted brand new mum, newborn by her bed whose partner is so jealous of all the attention she’s giving her baby. She’s sore, she’s exhausted, she certainly doesn’t want to participate but she’s told to just lay still and quiet so as not to wake the baby.

I could go on, but I’ve probably gone on enough. I just can’t understand the mentality behind this law in a country that considers itself forward thinking and free and fair.
I’m at a loss as to what I can do as a woman living in a country where the government shows such disdain for women’s rights and such a misunderstanding (or maybe a choice not to understand) how abuse works.
I feel for these women, abused by the person they live with then to have their experiences gaslighted by the government too.
I fear what comes next.

There’s a petition here against the cuts if you feel like I do. 100,000 signatures means this must be debated in parliament

My Facebook page is here

 

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          The Tale of Mummyhood

Packing up the emotional baggage that was never even mine

I’ve been telling you for ages now about how healed I finally feel years after I left the abusive relationship. Therapy, this blog and time were a really helpful trio is aiding this and I feel mentally more healthy in so many ways.

I’ve accepted as fact though that I’ll always have my little ‘issues’ left over from that relationship. I accepted I’d been damaged and some of that was irreparable, but that’s life I just had to get on with it.

That’s bullshit.

You see I’ve come to realise many of my ‘little issues’ are in fact not mine at all and there’s no chance I’m carrying around someone else’s baggage around with me forever.

Let me try to explain…

My lack of confidence in my parenting ‘issue’

Yep that was never mine.

I think I’m doing an OK job. Some days I’m supermum, some days I’m locking  myself in the bathroom and wondering what on earth I’m meant to be doing. I’ve come to realise this is how many (dare I say most) parents find parenting. A roller coaster of joy and worry?

The issue here belongs to the person so aware of his own crap parenting that he needed to make someone else doubt themselves at every turn to make himself feel better and essential to my existence.

He can have that one back.

My emotional ‘issues’
Yeah I’m cold and unfeeling. I struggle to express my emotions and in fact emotions as a whole terrify me…

More bullshit…

Here I am, in this very blog expressing my feelings and emotions. To other people. Often over sharing in fact (sorry about that! )
It turns out I feel a whole myriad of emotions which from time to time I even manage to express quite articulately (ssshhh don’t tell about the rogue grammar and excessive exclamation marks!)

The issue here was with the person who stifled my emotions in the first place, who belittled me expressing my feelings. The person so threatened by a chatty, intelligent, ambitious woman he had to squish all that out of her by one way or another.

He can certainly have that one back.
The icy ‘keep away’ wall that lingered around me long after he did should have only ever have been built around him… . Preferably with no door. .. and a with a lid… and then buried. …. Anyway I digress… but yes, not my issue.

My intimacy ‘issues’
This was quite a clever one to make me believe was mine. It allowed him to retain a bit of power long after he’d gone.

I hate touching and affection – well seems when I’m relaxed and comfy in another persons company I’m actually quite the fan!

If I let another person see me naked what with me being so grotesque his eyes would dissolve at the sight.  – trickier to get over this one, I grant you. We suffer enough with body confidence as women as it is, particularly when you’re a mum.

After an abusive relationship though when that’s been a huge weapon in his armour you’re going to disregard anything positive a new person will tell you, ignore compliments. The ‘fat and ugly’  voice in your head is louder. 
Not forever though.  When a positive, complimentary voice  is consistent and you choose to allow THAT voice to be louder… Well it turns out the ‘fat and ugly’ voice shuts up eventually.
A multitude of sex ‘issues’. I was probably best celibate forever –
Again, tricky. I decided to own this one though. Warn anyone I got involved with how awful at sex I am. I may have used the line “honestly if I was reviewed like on TripAdvisor I’d get 1 star” (a REAL issue I have is thinking I’m funny-it’s a family thing)
Turns out (and I detect a recurring theme here. .. Comfortable… Relaxed. . ) not my issue either!
They were the issues of a man who needed me to totally believe the only person who would ever be interested in me was him.
These are getting so much easier to return to sender.
After all the big stuff this is going to sound daft. The ‘issue’ I got worked up over the most though was that I knew, definitely I’d never ever be able to sleep in a bed with a man.

How would I explain this to a new boyfriend I was trying to enthrall and interest? Where in all the flirting do you slip in “can you sleep on the sofa please a man in my bed  freaks me out”

Come on , you can’t do that I’d think to myself . It’s OK I’d just lay in bed and pretend to sleep. Keep up the illusion of being a normal human.

That’s genius…Oh except ..I can only even fake sleep if I’m at the side of the bed nearest the door. I can’t possibly even breath if there’s a person laid between the door and I , he’s going to spot the crazy there immediately.

I was a lost cause, how sexy is a panic attack at 2am because you’re at the ‘wrong’ side of the bed?

This turned out to be the most insignificant worry ever. Again – relaxed and comfy around the right person  I can sleep soundly, even more amazing I didn’t even realise I’d slept the whole night at the wrong side, away from the door, until much later.
This one had been my issue. Caused by another persons behaviour then magnified ridiculously by my own brain.
So if I could overcome issues that were partly mine. Well the ones that belonged to other people, mislabelled as mine? Certainly time they were packed into the suitcase marked ‘Someone Else’s Baggage’ and said goodbye to for good!



Here’s my Facebook page 

 




To the mum enduring an abusive relationship at Christmas time… 

Dear friend, 

We don’t necessarily know one another  but maybe we do. Living with abuse I know is torturous and I know you feel so alone, so I just wanted you to know that I know.
 
I know how your abuser hates Christmas and uses this as a mantra in order to justify his behaviour. That he’d never have torn the Christmas tree down if you hadn’t made a fuss when you know he hates Christmas. 

I know that you’re going to spend the whole of the festive period treading on eggshells, trying not to draw attention to yourself or the children. Trying to quietly play with them,make them feel loved and nurture them whilst keeping  them from being too noisy or too messy so as not to unleash his temper. 

I know all the work will have been left to  you, all the food shopping and present buying. Even if he’s withheld money you’d still have been expected to get presents, and you probably have. 

I know whatever presents you have bought will be wrong. You’ll either have bought the wrong thing or you’ll have bought too much and he’ll call the children spoilt. He’ll tell you you’re an awful mum but he’s wrong. You’re not. You’re incredible. 

I know that Christmas time might be a lonely place for you. Maybe you’re isolated from your own family and friends so have to spend Christmas with his. Having to watch him turn on the charm in public and play the devoted family man. 

I know you’ll have not been able to get it right if you’ve been round his family. If you’ve been quiet he’ll accuse you of rudeness and being stuck up, asking who the hell you think you are and ensuring you continue to feel like shit. 

Alternatively if you’ve been chatty you’ll be accused of flirting with his brother, his friends, his dad. Accused of having an affair, called a slag whilst simultaneously told you’re  so fat and ugly no one else would ever want you. 

I know maybe he’ll not buy you a Christmas present, he’ll tell you you’re not worth it. He’ll spit that he didn’t get you anything from the kids because you are such a terrible mother. Maybe it’ll go the other way though, maybe he’s presented you with the grand gesture, an expensive gift in front of people that’ll likely be smashed into pieces at his hands by new year.

Alcohol is a factor at Christmas too I know. He’ll use it as an excuse for his appaling behaviour. Blame it on the drink. Should you pour a glass of wine though then you’re back in awful mother territory. An alcoholic. A disgrace. 

I think that there is likely still a tiny glimmer of hope inside you. You’ll ignore it for the most part because it is terrifying, you can’t let your mind begin to daydream about another way. You’ve just got to put all your energies into making the kids feel loved, keeping them safe. Focus on just surviving, your thoughts almost exclusively trained towards preempting his next move, keeping him calm. 

You probably have even forgotten it was there, than tiny spark of hope. It’s been dampened over the years certainly but not extinguished. It’s lying dormant waiting for the day it’s safe for you to leave. It makes me sick to even say that. Safe to leave. We know the statistics though, we’ve read the newspaper stories, we know leaving abuse can be dangerous. 

When it’s safe though, when you’re ready that tiny glimmer of hope will see you through. 

I’m sorry that your Christmas is an ordeal. I’m sorry everywhere you look you see happy families enjoying cheery Christmases with devoted fathers and husbands and you wonder why you don’t get to have that. Even the TV bombards you with smiling festive families and I know it just makes you want to weep for your children and for yourself. I know you do your weeping in secret. I’ve been you.

 
I’ve done years of Christmas being a time of violence and of criticism and shouting and screaming and pain. I didn’t think there’d ever be a time that that wasn’t my life. I couldn’t have ever envisaged that one day the children and I would be safe here in our house, able to do Christmas our way, able to enjoy rather than endure. Here we are though. It is possible, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. I know you can get there too. 

Just please know this, 

You are valuable and you deserve to be free. You are loved and cherished and there is a whole army of women out here ready to mobilise and support you when you are able to make those steps. 

I wish you a safe Christmas and a peaceful new year

Xxxxx

If you are in an abusive relationship and you need help the Women’s Aid website is here for help and advice 

The Freedom Programme which helped me immeasurably after I’d left the abusive relationship but also is open for women still in the relationship has groups around the country as well as an online course. Their website is  here

My Facebook blog page is here

 

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