Tag Archives: life after abuse

All those things you said I was – that I am not

A hard thing to get over after domestic abuse or emotional abuse or being bullied in any manner is the damage that’s left behind. Those words and names that were used to keep you in your place for me were a huge stumbling block. As always I can only speak of my experience of emotional abuse but long after the bully or the abuser has gone those words are still etched into your vulnerable brain.

The old sticks and stones rhyme has things all wrong . Words do hurt. They’re harmful and painful and last long after scratches or bruises heal.

When you’ve been called things regularly , incessantly , relentlessly they start to stick. Over time they become not just something someone spits at you but words you’ve taken on . That’s how you view yourself. Your thoughts and brain manipulated to the point that even after the bully or abuser is long gone you find yourself doing their work for them. You call yourself these names , you take them on as things that are true and part of who you are.

Over the years though I’ve kind of chosen and learnt to own and remove these words of their power. The ones that bother or get to me . I can honestly say none of these do anymore but let me tell you about them in case anyone else has struggled.

FAT

Firstly I wasn’t fat . I had 3 babies in 3 years and that will take it’s toll on a body. The way I look from 0-3 babies changed dramatically (let’s not even go with baby no 4 who left her mark majorly too ) Your body is meant to change dramatically though . It has grown and given birth to actual human beings . It has to change to accommodate this.

I used the word against myself many many times . I did the headwork myself for anyone that had ever called me that .Not anymore. How much I weigh is between me and the bathroom scales (if I had any , which I no longer do because they’re toxic in themselves in my opinion) Unless I’m asking for a piggy back my weight is not your concern.

Ugly

Another physical one. Isn’t it odd how these hurt the most. There is a rant about patriarchal society raring to go here but I’ll park that for another post.

Ugly ,to me now , makes no sense . You can be not attracted to someone that doesn’t make them ugly. This one stuck in my brain too though , compliments were tricky. If someone called me beautiful I would bat that right away with “ah I’m just plain but I’m alright with that”

You don’t find me aesthetically pleasing ? Ok let’s both get on with our days !! Really there is no brain space left for that stuff anymore.

Stupid

Ok THIS bothered me more than any other. Even when said over and over I doubted this one . My brain resisted . I’m not stupid. At all. I’m a reasonably intelligent person. Reasonably intelligent people are quite intimidating to the bully types though ,they’ve the potential to make your average bully look ridiculous using words alone. A massive threat. So stupid is thrown around in the hope that it sticks. I do have to pull myself up on this one sometimes because I will STILL use this about myself. Only I don’t mean stupid as in not clever but as in “I put my dress on inside out again ” I need to find a kinder word.

Unloveable

I’m cold , I’m emotionless , I’m averse to affection and love. This made me unloveable. If someone is abusing or bullying you it’s quite a powerful tool for them to project their views onto other people. Maybe you’ve heard “It’s not just me , everyone think ‘that’ about you ” It’s high level manipulation this because while you’re mentally fighting one person you can grasp onto the thought other people see positives in you. Ugly is most certainly objective. Unloveable feels like fact. The real masters of manipulation here will then throw your deepest insecurities at you ,that at one time you have confided in them. Maybe it’s parent issues , something you went through with your ex, an old friend but throw in well *insert name here * thought you were unloveable too didn’t they , that’s why…..

This one stuck with me the absolute longest . Do I believe myself to be unloveable now though? Absolutely not.

Rubbish in bed

*eye roll emoji*

Along with fat and ugly – well you’re not going to dare go sleep with anyone else now are you?

We do.

It’s brilliant.

I’m sure everyone can personalise this post with their own words that have lingered in their minds way too long. Whether put there by bullies , abusers , toxic family members . It can be so difficult to stop internalising these words and using them on yourself. With a bit of work and a lot of patience and surrounding yourself with positive, loving people you really can get there .

There’s nothing more empowering than when those words bounce right off your suit of armour of self belief .

That’s freedom.

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What NOT to say to someone fresh out of an abusive relationship

I have had a little bit of help for this post by some incredibly brave and strong women so thank you to them firstly , you were a huge help.

Domestic abuse’s power lies in the secret nature of its being. This is why I harp on about it. Everytime I tell of my experiences the secret is broken. It’s not secret , my freedom brings with it my voice .

If you’ve never experienced it though , or if you don’t know anything about the subject and how subtle and insidious it is then how on earth should you know how to react if you learn someone close to you has been abused. How can you be a supporter without saying the wrong thing and freaking them out .

Well I’m not sure I have all the answers there. There are though some words and phrases after I had left that did me so much mental damage I almost felt I was back there , that set back my recovery and that made me question myself.

None of these would affect me anymore . I’d be able to explain. Back then though I was still ever so fragile .

As I always say I can only tell my story and it obviously doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Here’s the phrases that hurt me and caused me distress when I was newly out of the abusive relationship.

Why did you stay so long?

The people who asked this were well meaning. I know the question came from a good place . A worry that I’d gone through what I had so long .

To me , newly away from that though , it just showed me what I was up against . How people just wouldn’t understand. That unless you were tied up in the cellar you had the free will to leave . Your free will is often taken before any violence occurs , if it does at all. So much work goes into the perpetrator re programming your brain and convincing you that you can’t live without them. Some women suffering financial abuse cannot leave as they have no access to money . Some perpetrators physically take away shoes and keys and outdoor clothes to make leaving the house physically impossible to leave . Domestic abuse covers a huge spectrum of behaviour. Rarely is standing up and walking out a possibility.

If a guy ever hit me I’d…

Kick the shit out of him

Leave immediately

Chuck him out.

As I mentioned above , domestic rarely begins with a punch. Many of us I’m sure if we had a perfectly great partner would react differently if he just punched us in the face out of nowhere. However the headwork that is usually done previously to violence means you are filled with self doubt , you believe that you’ve done something to make him angry by the time blows are struck , again if ever .

This kind of comment to a woman who has done the most brave thing is judgy and it’s unhelpful. It insinuates that only weak women are victims of abuse , stupid women , lame women
.This could not be further from the truth domestic abuse affects every sector of society from the High Court Judge to the lollypop lady , the stay at home mum , the doctor , the checkout lady , the nursery nurse , the film star ,the teacher . It is everywhere.

You seemed such a good couple

Aaarrgghh ,do you know how much hard work is put in to ‘keeping up appearances’ to ensure no one ever knows what is going on. The shame is huge , you can’t yet acknowledge it to yourself , the rest of the world sees The Nice Guy . It’s exhausting and stressful and you are filled with fear of anyone finding out. Of course you are going to put on the show of your life !!

Well there are two sides to every story…

Ugh this one is a real gut wrencher. Yes there are 2 sides . His probably sounds way more convincing than mine too , he’s had time to perfect it and add little believable details. He’s told his so often . To his family , friends , everyone he knows . He’s told it so often he probably partially believes it himself .

Her story though . It’s fractured and it’s panicked . It doesn’t make much sense . It contradicts itself and is still vague as she can’t stand to go into detail yet. Doesn’t want to relive it and doesn’t want to upset those that love her but detailing the worst.

These were my biggest triggers to shame and trauma .

There are more though

“other people have it way worse”

“It can’t have been that bad or you’d not have stayed”

” You’re such an attention seeker /drama queen ”

“You just love playing the victim”

“Well I did warn you ,I have no sympathy”

All so many things that I’m sure mostly aren’t said with any kind of malice. Just thoughtless and said with a lack of understanding , which is easy because abuse is so complex and hard to understand!

Survivors don’t expect the rest of the world to ‘get it ‘ but just maybe to do a little reading or research if you are helping someone through it . We need our supporters , our cheerleaders . We need a hand to hold and to be allowed to tell our story. Just be patient if we are rattled or affected by something that seems silly to you.

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I am healed ,but I still need patience

I am many years free of abuse and toxic relationships. I am stronger mentally than I’ve been for a very long time. So many of the parts of me that had been dismantled and fractured have been put back together.

It took way , way longer than I ever would have expected. Years longer.

I’m here though , I am healed and I am strong.

I am healed but I’m battle scarred .

I’m healthy and I’m strong but there are very faded residual marks that I suspect will stick around a little while longer.

Like when stretchmarks that were purple and raw and red and angry fade to silvery faded lines. A memory of what a huge deal you have been through.

I still have a few remaining ,faded mental scars. Like those silver stretch marks they’re part of me , a record of a journey. Not that happy one of motherhood , but a journey none the less and one I finished a free woman. I’m sure those mental scars will one day fade even further , possibly disappear completely like so many of the other hang ups and baggage toxic relationships left me with. I got rid of them eventually. I’m not angry or resentful of the remaining scars ,they are me now.

The main one is a need for patience from people around me.

Super patience.

Patience in ultimate 4D.

Patience with a cherry on the top ,tied with a bow.

You see all those parts of me that are healed yet fragile , they can all be fixed with patience.

I don’t have loads of friends or a massive really close family. I have a tiny inner circle of people who I trust and care about and whom I am certain care about me.

That’s really all I need , the inner circle rocks you know? Full of amazing humans! I think they get it those people. They understand my need for patience,but I think it probably takes a while to get to grips with the nutty girl who behaves oddly sometimes!

I need patience that sometimes I cancel plans because the horrid voice in my head is telling me I’m rubbish.

I need patience with my indecisiveness . It comes from a place where when questions were asked there is a right or wrong answer and it is essential to get it right (despite the fact you never will) questions still sometimes transport me back to that mindset and it’s as irritating for me as it is those around me.

I need patience at my ( what must be bloody infuriating) absent minded ,head in the clouds behaviour. It comes from a place where once I had to be hyper vigilant every second of every day. I had to think 3 , 7 , 12 steps of another person all the time in order to second guess how I should be behaving to avoid a blow up. From having to be so aware of a tapping foot ,or a certain type of sigh or a look so as I could attempt to diffuse a situation before it happened. Now I’ve always been naturally dozy I confess but I also worked out with the help of my therapist that actually ,now away from that situation I’ve learned to relax , no need for hypervigalence . I’m comfy and have gradually relaxed …. I’ve relaxed …a lot , possibly too much!

I need patience when I over think and am mentally already dealing with a situation that hasn’t even happened.

I need patience when my brain melts at emotional intimacy. That the L word is not in my vocab. That I’m getting better at hugs , but ON MY TERMS!

I need the patience and constantly. I’ve been around people who’ve understood for a short while but then become frustrated and irritated and then that’s me done really. Shut down. Closed for business. Emotional attachment done with. I know it’s irrational but this is why the inner circle is so small I guess.

It once took me knowing someone 2 years to go on a first date. 2 years!!! I didn’t fully realise back then but I absolutely needed that time of consistent words and actions. I needed to know this wasn’t someone who would change goalposts or be a different person from one day to the next. I know it must seem nuts to most but it was necessary for me. Bloody hell dating me you have to work at Kelly pace , kind of like snails pace but a thousand times slower.

I’m healed , I’m strong but I still need that element of patience in people I am close to.

I do so appreciate how my amazing family and lovely friends ARE patient with my flakey , indecisive tendencies I really do! I’ve so much adoration for people who stayed the distance. Honestly , if I used the L word I’d declare it now but small steps eh??

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How my words ended up a real actual book!!

This little blog of mine began life as a secret anonymous blog.

I’ve always said I can only tell my story , I can’t speak for any other woman’s experiences . I wrote about life after domestic abuse, my emotional intimacy issues , about parenting a whole tribe of children. All the things that were specific to me.

My blog developed , it became a place to just write about what was going on in my head at my given time. It’s my little spot in the internet to talk about shared parenting woes and how teens and toddlers are similar and about how much I fancy Andy Murray *swoons*

Writing about my mental health struggles though. That was terrifying. I was so scared of pressing publish on the first post I wrote about it I did that thing were just just shut your eyes , click and squeal ? What do you mean you’ve not a clue ?

What if everyone thought I was nuts? .What if everyone thought me an awful mother ? What if my family and friends were embarrassed of me ?

I needn’t have worried of course . Suffering with anxiety doesn’t even register on the reasons people are embarrassed of me !!There are way too many better ones (yes one is the Andy Murray thing!)

I suffer with anxiety.

When I first moved away from home it was an all encompassing , debilitating condition. It was every day , it had a huge impact. As time has passed I’m lucky it’s eased a lot . Still shows up at times to bite me on the arse ,remind me I can stumble at any time but nowhere near as bad as it as that first year.

Writing about it helps.

So when I was asked for permission for one of my posts to be used in a book I was surprised but proud. That must mean my writing isn’t utter horseshit right?

My post had been published on the I am 1 in 4 website previously and now they were making a book as a fundraiser in order for them to keep up the amazing work they do to tackle stigma associated with mental health.

I’m very proud to be featured alongside some raw and heartfelt pieces by some great writers.

Also…. seeing your words on actual pages in a book feels pretty special

The book itself is here … it’s a fundraiser so I promise I’m not trying to force it on you so I can buy a holiday home in St Tropez…. that’ll be my novel!!!

The I am 1 in 4 Facebook page is here if you want to join a supportive community without any worries of stigma.

My Facebook page is here if my ramblings are your thing!!!

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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???

Almost a decade ago when we moved away from home to a brand new city I was a much different woman to the one I am now. I was anxious and scared and damaged , I had not a clue who I was. Over the years I’ve ploughed my time into the obvious child rearing. I’d brought them across 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 negative words from toxic relationships. I no longer believe it all 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

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The once a month boyfriend plan…

A while back now I decided maybe I’d had enough of the single life. That maybe after getting on for a decade single I was ready to dip the teeniest tiniest toe into the dating water.

Big decision for me.

I’ve spoken on this blog about how I’m feeling stronger and more content and happier in myself lately. I also know as well though that letting someone in, lowering the barriers even a little, makes me vulnerable.
For me that’s really quite scary.

There’s also the time factor, I’ve 4 children for goodness sake. Date night windows are few and far between other than during school hols when the kids generally abandon me for grandma. Whilst I’m mentioning the kids that’s another thing. We don’t need a dad here, we don’t need a positive male role model. We are a cosy comfy family of 5 and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Ever adaptable though I came up with a plan. I could, if I could find anyone willing, date on my terms. Tiptoe into the world of relationships rather than take a big huge running leap.

Surely there had to be a man who fancied the same. The fun of a great date without the pressures of a serious relationship. Maybe a guy with a busy life of his own, not looking to be married off within the year. It’s a long shot but the plan was formed.

I’m not saying it’d be a very strict 4th weekend every month between the hours of 7pm Friday and 7pm Sunday. Pencilled in for strict romance, bedroom action and good conversation I’m nuts but not that nuts.

Just what would be great would be to meet someone who would be happy to see each other when the opportunity presented itself.
Someone who understands I’ve 4 children and don’t really want a guy around them. Come on I selfishly want something that’s JUST mine.
Someone who’s just looking for the occasional great weekend, time out from being parent. To find non family activities, to explore the most un child friendly restaurants we can.
Unfortunately trying to articulate what I want is hard.

“I don’t want anything too serious ”

Well that seems to translate as I just want casual sex.

” I just want someone who’s company I enjoy”

Yeah get some friends lady.

A combo of the two is the vomit inducing ‘friends with benefits’ and that’s certainly not it!
Dating and all it entails, emotion and intimacy and friendship, only slowed right down that’s what I want . You know when you fast forward the adverts if you’ve recorded a movie and you speed it up to x 32?. . . Well I’m looking at keeping at x 2,moving onto x 4 if you don’t scare me off!

The thing is this. My mind and emotions are clearer and healthier than they have been in years. However I have very little faith in my own judgement. So it all has to be done at a snails pace, or a Kelly’s pace-it’s really the same thing.

Tiptoe Tiptoe Tiptoe.

No grand gestures.

No declarations of love.

No pushing.

Just relaxed, good company and a bit of romance until I get the hang of being someone’s girlfriend again.

It’s a big ask, I know, to find this person. I’ve said for a long time my next boyfriend will have to be the world’s most patient man.

I’m not really willing to settle for anything less though.

My Facebook page is here

Years later…

WordPress alerted me to the fact that it had been four years since I started writing this blog.

In turn many ,many more years since I left the abusive relationship.Made me reflect.

Some days I have down days , on the dark ones I question if leaving home and coming here , being away from my sister and friends was really worth it. I miss my sister so much and I hate not being a present part in my niece and nephews lives as I once was.

Of course it bloody was worth it though.

On those dark days however . On the days I feel every bit as fat and ugly and stupid as he told me I was. On the days I feel so alone here and being a single mum overwhelms almost completely. When I’m ill but have to do the school run because there’s no one else .When the kids are at their bickery best and I just want to cry because I feel like the worst mum ever. On those days I have to remember why it was all worth it.

Escaping, running away was all worth it. I just have to think of the woman that turned up here and who she was when she arrived in a new city with not a clue what to do next.
When I left. That day , that month , that year even I was a mess. I was as stripped bare as a person could be.

I was numb.

I couldn’t think.

I certainly couldn’t feel.

I spent so long just waiting for someone to tell me what to do next.

I’d not been allowed to make my own decisions for so long I didn’t even know my own mind anymore. I don’t think I even had my own mind.

I was away from him , physically anyway. Mentally my mind still belonged to him. Programmed like some kind of robot. In the months after I left, he still had the power. You know when you see hypnotists on TV ? They say “sleep” and everyone’s head falls down onto their chests.He could do that to me ,even from a hundred miles away.

Certain phrases he could use to the police , the court , social services to make me do what he wanted.

“I’m worried about her mental health”

“She’s a compulsive liar”

“She’s just not a natural mother”

Even reaching me second hand from my solicitor, an ally , instantly put me in my place. He’d warned me you see for years. That if I left no one would believe me , they’d think I was crazy , they’d take my children. These phrases were his equivalent to that ‘sleep’ command of the hypnotist.
The killer blow came when a social worker repeated these phrases to me after speaking to him. Only she wasn’t parroting him but telling me what she thought. That I was lying , that I was mad that she’d remove my kids if I couldn’t prove I wasn’t.

That was the darkest day of all.

I got through it though. I jumped through hoops. I made my points proved myself and eventually he showed his true colours.

Bit by bit I became stronger.

Fairysteps people kept telling me , baby steps no big leaps. I fairystepped all the way to now.

I’m not that woman now. I’m not triggered into submission by an email from him. I’m in control of my mind. I make my own decisions. I think my own thoughts. I can’t pretend I’m here all cured of anxiety and low self esteem. I’m not.

Oh but it was all worth it. Walking out of the door that day , getting on the train with a thumping heart convinced he’d know my plans and drag me away. Every anxiety attack , every tear , every sob , every scream of frustration.

All worth it

To not be that scared , numb woman anymore. To have happy , content , confident children.
That would be worth anything.
So on those doubtful days , even the truly shitty ones I just have to think of that woman who first came here. Who wouldn’t have thought contentment and peace and calm was possible. I have to realise and remind myself that offered what I have now , she’d have bitten your hand off.

My life’s not perfect , but it’s all mine.