Tag Archives: emotional abuse

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 

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RIP Ice Queen.. It’s been (not at all) emotional 

I wrote a while back about how I identify with Elsa  from Frozen more than probably any other character (says a lot about a person I guess) it’s here if you fancy a read. I’ve always had a tendency to keep people at a distance and struggled with expressing my emotions. 

Recently though things have changed a little. I think I’m thawing. 

There are a few reasons for this and it seems as though they’ve all come together at the same time to make me me a little warmer and more able to deal with and express my emotions (about time too!) 

Firstly this blog has helped enormously. When you’re putting yourself out there, even if it’s just to a few people, and sharing your feelings it does lower the barriers. 
When I’m talking about the domestic abuse or sharing my struggles with anxiety, things I never dreamt I’d be able to talk about well that’s expressing my emotions isn’t it? It’s Pandora’s Box – like, once these things are out there there’s no putting them back in. I can’t regress to total emotionally uptight woman who can’t talk feelings. 

Secondly, I’ve spoken on this blog more recently about how I’m finally feeling healed after the abusive relationship. I feel a stronger, more mentally healthy woman than I have in a long time. It’s taken way longer than I expected to recover from the abuse but I’m finally here at the other side. Of course there’ll always be triggers, I’ll always have altered behaviours, there’ll always be memories that affect me. I’ve made peace with that now though. Abuse changed me but I’m OK with that. I can be happy with the me I am now. 

Another huge factor in shaking off the Ice Queen mentality is that my social anxiety has lessened. In fact I’d go as far as to say this is the major factor. 

I’ve struggled with people for a long time. A throwback to the abuse where I felt worthless and useless all the time. 

I have lovely friends who I miss but never arrange to see, I made conscious effort to not make new friends, I back away from social occasions. It comes across as rude which makes me feel worse and ratchets up the anxiety yet further. 

It was never about other people. It was about me. That I felt I had nothing to contribute to conversation, that I irritated people, that I bored people, that no one wanted me around they were just being polite. 

Recently though I had a weekend home with my sister. It was a weekend filled with people and socialising. Catching up with family, meeting new people, seeing old friends who I’d not seen in way too long ALL my old anxiety triggers in one weekend. You know what? I had the best weekend I’ve had in ages. I like people, I want to connect with them. The Ice Queen woman kept everyone at a safe distance and I never want to do that again. 

So all these factors have come together and really helped me to shake off the cold, distant woman I’d put in place. 

I’m finally finding my feet and embracing myself (in a non literal way). 

Maybe the Ice Queen was necessary for  a while  whilst I figured myself out, whilst I healed. 

Maybe this new me isn’t new after all. 

Maybe it’s the me I always should’ve been. 

Gaslighting :The scar that won’t quite heal 


I’ve spoken on this blog about how I’m really recently feeling that I’m finally close to recovering from the domestic abuse I suffered. It’s taken longer than I expected but I’m here. Out the other side. A little battle scarred certainly but so very close to healed.

I’ve also spoken about how psychological and emotional abuse damaged me way beyond anything physical could. When you’re hit or kicked or bitten it’s a clear act. You are very aware in that moment it is happening to you . Psychological abuse isn’t so clear cut and there lies its  strength. I still feel though that I’m recovered from so much of the damage inflicted on me mentally.

I really do.

I feel strong.

Almost triumphant.

He gave his absolute all to stifle and trample and break me. He didn’t succeed.

There’s one area though I’m beginning to realise I might always struggle with. I still now have a desperate need to be believed. I wrote here about that. I want to shake it but I can’t. I crave everyone who has ever doubted me to look at me and say they believe me. I know how ridiculous that is, because who are those people? his friends?  his family? him ? This will never happen and I need to bury  it.

Still, after all these years, the effects of the gaslighting he did remains the final obstacle in my ability to truly feel healed.

If you’re not familiar with the term gaslighting, it’s the systematic manipulation of a person to the point that they doubt their own memories, their own sanity. The term comes from a play in which a husband employs these tactics on his wife. He creeps up to the attic to tamper with the gaslight causing the lights in the house to dim. When his wife mentions the lights to him he tells her they are exactly the same as always, she must be imagining things. He continues to manipulate her environment, making her believe she is go insane. 

It’s a classic abuse tactic of a narcissist and it’s so incredibly effective. Gradually convince a woman she is going insane, causing her to demonstrate symptoms of stress and anxiety that’ll portray a fragile mental health then tell the world she’s crazy. Job. Done.

My abuser used these tactics too. He’d actually ask me where I’d gotten the split lip or bruised face that he had inflicted.  I’d be left trying to get him to believe my side of the story. How messed up is that?  We were both there he knew exactly what had gone on, yet  he questioned my version making me feel like my grip on reality was screwed. He once took off my engagement ring whilst I was sleeping then told me I must have been taking it off to have affairs. I ended up believing I had taken it off at some point and lost it. I believed that to be true. A few months after I left he sent a package of some of the kids things. My ring was in there.

I was a gift to him really. I held all the personality traits that made up the perfect victim of this kind of abuse.

I was a people pleaser – I liked being liked.

I was someone who sought approval. My self confidence wasn’t great I needed outside approval that I was getting things right.

I hated vagueness and uncertainty to the point it triggers my anxiety.

So now years later. Stronger, calmer, unafraid. There is still a tiny bit, the final bit, of the metaphorical scar that he left me with that won’t quite heal. The thing is, those personality traits I had I still possess. I’m still a bloody people pleaser, uncertainty is a massive anxiety trigger.

I worry I’m then still wide open to manipulation. Add to this the fact that being around abusive men has made me doubt my own sense of judgement of character and you can understand my problem.

The positive is at least I’m aware now. I wasn’t before. Also thanks to doing the Freedom Programme I can spot early warning signs of an abusive man.

The doubt lingers though which is a shame, because then when a lovely guy presents himself, when he aces The Boyfriend List, when there isn’t  the slightest hint of of a red flag in his behaviour – the absolute opposite in fact I still can’t quite trust my judgement and dive in.

You know what though?  I think it’s OK to feel this way. Abuse stays with a person. It makes you a little more wary, a little less willing to dive in. I’ve stuck a toe in the water though and it felt amazing.. so let’s stick to slow tiny babysteps rather than huge leaps.

Besides, didn’t I always say Mr Perfect would have the patience of a Saint? ?

 

 

Mummy Times Two

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.

Worthless

Ugly

Stupid

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.

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.

Indecision
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.
Xxx

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

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The Mummy Bubble

The three little words domestic abuse survivors need to hear

I know I get on my soapbox often about domestic abuse here on my blog. Everytime I try to step away from that subject a little though, reminding myself that that  is not my life now I see see in the news or around me that it’s still so many, way too many women’s lives. Me staying silent so as not to bore people is no  use at all.

I wanted to really talk about the women who have managed to leave and what we can all do to make it easier on them to readjust to life without their perpetrator.

As I always say  I can’t , and would never attempt to , speak for all women who’ve experienced abuse. I can only talk about my experiences.

Leaving an abusive relationship is huge , massive. I wish I was a bit more skilled at writing so I could explain it better and do it justice. You know on action movies where during car chases someone will drive their car into a huge river or the sea such is their need to get away from the person doing the chasing. A last desperate , risky act? It’s kind of like that. Imagine a really , really long pier leading out to shark infested waters. At the beginning of the relationship you are stood at the very end of the pier as close as possible to the perpetrator , you probably look at him and think how glad you are to have him to keep you safe from all those sharks at the other end. As time goes by you start to take little steps closer to the water to try to put some distance between you and he. You cant though because he’s right there behind you, shadowing your every step. By the time you reach the waters edge with him breathing down your neck the sharks feel like the better option and you’ll dive in , it’s worth a shot. As I say I wish I could express it better but that’s as well as I can do. I suppose what I’m trying to express is that leaving is risky and it’s dangerous and traumatic but by the end you just shut your eyes , hope for the best and just jump. Being eaten alive by sharks is still preferable to living with the alternative ( no more shark talk now I promise)

 

After you’ve left , you kind of stand there wondering what to do next. I was unable to make the smallest of decisions as I’d not been able to make my own choices for so long. Even now when asked to make a decision I stumble and falter because I so want to get it right and I’m not the most trusting in my own judgement.

 

All I wanted to say really is that if you know someone who has recently left an abusive relationship , and this person may have never been hit I feel I need to add, then nuture them. They need time to heal and will probably need a bit of looking after. They may be unable to decide what biscuit they want with their tea , they might not answer your calls because their phone is constantly on silent (a habit formed in the abusive relationship in an attempt to not draw any attention to themselves).

 

Most importantly though , and  again I’m only talking from my own experience. What they need from you when they’ve trusted you to tell you some of their experiences ( they’ll never tell you it all because they know you love them and they don’t want upset you) What they need is to hear three words. The most important ones you’ll likely ever utter. They need you to look them in the eye ( tricky as likely they struggle with eye contact as their self esteem is in bits ) Just deliver those three little words.

 

I believe you.

 

Goes without saying maybe you’ll think, but they’re so important to hear.

 

They’ll need it repeating to them when their perpetrator has told social services what an awful parent she is and she has to suffer the indignity of her parenting skills being raked through whilst being asked why didn’t she leave ( here’s why I didn’t ), why she didn’t protect her children . was she in fact making up the abuse?

I believe you.

When going through the family court and having to detail incidents she doesn’t want to have to talk about.

I believe you

When reading his responses down on paper about how he never touched her , he’s never hit a woman in his life , he’s not that kind of man.

I believe you.

When his friends and family are told (with tears for effect)how she’s withholding his children from him and he doesn’t know why and she has to deal with them.

I believe you.

She was told when in the relationship no one will believe her if she tells anyone .She’s probably even questioned herself once or twice about if it really is all in her head like he tells her it is everyday.

I believe you means I love you , I’ve got your back , I’m here for you , you’re not alone , I’ll protect you , I’ll take care of you.

They’re a statement of intent. They’re a shock to hear. They’re a mantra. They’re a lullaby. They’re the beginning of a healing spell.

Just three little words.

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#Blogtober17 – Day 12- Love – How I say I love you…

I don’t know if it’s getting older ,or if it’s being all crushy over a guy for the first time in pretty much ever. I don’t know if it’s part of the identity crisis I’ve spoken of having because the children are all growing up and no one needs me like they once did. For some reason though lately I’m looking at myself in a different way,being a bit more reflective. 

I worry , or did worry that I’m emotionally quite cold. Then I read a fantastic article in the Huffpost by Amanda Chatel about how people who have been emotionally abused love differently. It’s here if you fancy a look. Do. It expresses it way better than I’m about to try to.

I’d had it decided in my head for years that other than the kids and my sister I probably wasn’t capable of love. Hand in hand with that went the belief that I was emotionally numb , a bit cold and unable to receive or give affection. This article was quite timely for me as recently I’ve realised that maybe I was wrong. I am capable of affection ( and quite like it -weird) I’m not cold and unemotional , I feel a lot actually I just repress lots of it as strong emotion does unsettle me a bit. So I began the week on a bit of a high , telling everyone about my epiphany. Of course everyone who knows me well already knew all this. Have I ever spoken about my total lack of self awareness??

Love though? That was a whole other story.
Or so I thought , I again was wrong. I feel love for people I haven’t given birth to. Of course I do. I express it too. I just do it differently. The article I’ve mentioned is perfect as a general overview of how those of us who have been emotionally  abused will love that bit differently. I’m sure everyone who has been in this position could personalise it , we all have our own little ways don’t we? I thought I could share some of mine. This is how I express love (or deep affection at the very least…the L word still scares me a bit..babysteps..)

I touch you. It’s not going be a huge bear hug. I’ll brush your hand with mine , I’ll squeeze your shoulder, stroke your arm when I’m asking how you are.

I allow you to see my flaws. I don’t put on a perfect front with you or even attempt to be perfect with you. I trust you not to use my flaws against me and for me , that’s huge.

I show emotion around you , be that a tear or a giggle.

I look you on the eye when you’re talking to me about a problem. I’ve an awful habit of my eyes flitting when talking to people . It comes across as rude but it’s really not .It’s a self esteem thing. I was told what I said was unimportant and stupid for so long .I don’t want to see that look of boredom and irritation cross your face when speaking to me , even if it never will. I’ll always get over that when you need me to listen though. I need you to know that what you are saying is hugely important to me.

I’ll text or email or send you pics of things that couldn’t be less important. I want you to know some little daft things make me think of you . I’m also secure that you don’t think I’m an idiot for doing so.

I buy little gifts I think you’ll love. Silly things , just a way for me to say I listen to what you like!

I small talk with you (likely incessantly) The man who emotionally abused me hated the fact that I’m a chatterer and would shut it down immediately. When I’m talking nonsense to you it’s because I know you’ll not do the same

You see my expressions of love and affection are smaller , it’s low key and understated and from people who love me that’s what I want in return. No grand gestures – they terrify me.  Email me a link to a show or a book you think I’ll like. Ring me up with a funny story to tell me when you know I’ve had a rubbish day. Send me a Good Luck text when you know I’ve a big day ahead.

Love after emotional abuse is a complex , tricky thing. You may never get an I love you from me but you know when you were ill and I made and brought you soup , or when I texted you a book recommendation I knew you’d love or I remembered tiny details of conversation you told me that were important to you? Well that’s what I meant.

 

 
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#Blogtober17