What do you need?

Have you ever had a moment where everything lines up just long enough to make sense?

Storm damage.
Image from scitechdaily

During a counselling session this week it happened to me. The question posed was:

“What do you need?” I didn’t know the answer, I’m not sure I ever do. Hard to decide what I require if so little of my time or energy is directed my way.

I’ve disconnected from myself, I don’t know what I need because what I need is so intensely woven with how I feel that I’m unable to unravel one to examine it without inviting the other, also unfolded.

I realised I have been trying not to feel anything, because I can’t ‘deal’ with the emotions. I was challenged to answer what it is I have to cope with exactly, what do I have to do with the feeling? Why do I have to do anything at all? Can I not just be? Sit with the feeling long enough to acknowledge it then begin to move forward again?

My emotional intensity scares me, I’ve only heard it truly once and it almost killed me. I crashed myself then in a deliberate, callous swerve. More than fifteen years ago I didn’t care whether I lived or died. Lie. I cared. I wanted to die I just didn’t want to be the one to do it.

I didn’t eat from one day to the next,

smoked cigarette after cigarette and never slept.

I barely spoke, my voice dried,

I didn’t try – succumbed to hide.

I ran into my storm…taking risks in the dark nights.

I was thrown in the wind with tears streaming,

Years for the wild wind whipped storm to slow

Me bruised and battered gaze up to see slivers of calm

Not wild, more lost than I’ve ever been. Feeble fight.

My self-sacrifice to an apathetic suicide pact for one filled two, maybe three, years but now fear of rocking back into that deep groove, deeper now from my practiced pushing down of my feelings. In the irresistible groove I thrash and scream in vain, outstretched but failing to grasp the last threads of sanity.

So I don’t edge near even if it doesn’t keep me safe in the here and now. I have mental capacity if not happiness. Silent tears streamed painlessly from my eyes when I voiced my reticence to feel in a counselling room which held me safer than I felt in my head.

What do I need? To feel? Let it go, released by my choice? I know now. I need to stop the battle to keep the irrepressible down. I need quiet, internal quiet. I need peace.

I answered my counsellor’s question an hour after she posed it: “I need my mind to be calm. I need internal quiet.”

Find internal quiet.

Fast forward

Time moves so slowly in recovery.

It takes such constant dedication and effort. I want to fast forward until I reach the time I feel safe in my home. When I can walk outside without scoping the area for threats. I want to stand in the future without flinching if a voice is raised in jest or joy. I am restless for unnoticed background noise instead of hyper focusing for danger.

Frustrating to look at the world through frightened eyes, is that van or car parked with sinister motive? Are the voices outside my door friends of a neighbour or coming for vengeance? What is lurking away from the sickly glow of the street light? His words wind around me in any situation, I can’t ignore them or discount them. I wish I could pull the plug on his control. Or at least kick it down a few notches. He doesn’t need to have hands upon me to handcuff me.

I’m held in place by my own relentless vigilance. Shadow violence. Murder fuelled by empty air.

I have faith that this will ease and I know I can loosen his grip eventually but until then each second stretches long into another and another and my impatience may implode on a hair trigger.

I am determined I am not going to succumb to this, I want to live my own life making decisions which belong only to me. I have to force through each arduous moment living and loving as best I can no matter how much I need to fight the impulse to hide under the bed trembling in fear.

One day perhaps I will look back at this time with an internal sense of pride.

Monochromic world in murky blue.

Lost: colour and verve

Today was hard again. Nothing really happened. PTSD rampaged and tore through my positivity, severing my connection to myself. Anxiety introduced itself a few weeks ago, seemingly once visited it is reluctant to let go.

What do you do for yourself when you feel yourself crumbling to dust? Can you offer any tips or ideas please? What’s your go to response when you feel low?

Self care is easier said than done if your inner voice truly doesn’t see value for yourself, nothing at all. Not worth it. Fold laundry instead, it commands, wash up in water hotter than you can stand just to feel something. Run endlessly in unmotivated circles until your feet bleed; just don’t sit down with a sigh and that book you wanted to read.

Insomnia is mocking me darkly. When I do eventually fall into desperate sleep I’m taunted by nightmares, sometimes they reveal something of my subconscious mind. Often they run through fear, pain and trauma I’ve already done my time for. It’s more literal than it needs to be. Pass a message to my subconscious: “Stop, please. I get it. I get it already. I see!”

How much longer can I weep before I truly do dry to dust? Except, I haven’t cried this week, now I think about it. I disconnected from all the colours and brightness of the world. This week has been monochrome, a faded, jaded passing of time with no passion or drive. I’m just pretending to be alive.

I feel…I don’t, actually. I don’t feel.

The headline is my death warrant.

Is safety an illusion now?

The threat. Surveillance. Holding a grudge. How likely? Am I about to die? Will he act? He’s losing control. Scared. What if?

The headline crumpled into a recycling bin: “Mother of # murdered…”

‘Escaped’ feels dramatic as a description, the plot of a thriller. It’s the right word but there’s no excitement. No suspense build up before he crashes through the door and tears her limb from limb.

I barricaded myself and child unsuccessfully into a room. I fled half way across the country with fear for our lives. I almost lost more than my life is worth.

I imagined the headlines at the time on more chilling occasions than I care to consider.

I felt my words retreat back, blocking my throat, they’d choke me when I tried to ask for help.

I sat four or five or more times in front of police officers and couldn’t find the courage to say “He’s going to kill me.”

He might still.

Which picture represents your relationship?

This collection of pictures depicting figures in a relationship was given to me during an appointment for domestic abuse support. How would you depict your relationship?

These figures can be interpreted multiple ways apparently; the two figures close together could be connected or in love…or perhaps one won’t let the other move an inch away.

Perhaps one person infiltrated all aspects of the other’s life. Not allowing the freedom to speak freely to anyone else. Isolated and unable to confide. This person insists on attending every appointment and turns up even if not planned. They dominate every area and even knock on the bathroom door with mock concern “Everything ok?” If they take too long (especially if they have their phone.)

They rage at every interaction, the cost is always high. It feels illogical but the shadow of their former self dare not speak out.

All the loving, supportive people who used to surround the diminished one are bad mouthed and shamed, the mention of these people brings interrogation and annoyance. Distance grows between support and the once independent person even as the chain get tighter and tighter and the fear steadily deeper, darker, colder.

This dominating person halts conversation and embarrasses the other with inappropriate attendance. Eventually they give up trying to be independent. Fate accepted.

I didn’t choose this picture because I couldn’t decide. They all depict the prisoner I became in some way, they are all true. I didn’t ask for the relationship I got, I didn’t realise how locked in I became.

I’m glad I’m free, my new picture is just my children and I. We are wind swept in the woods or sun kissed at the coast, or maybe we are cozied up at home, music playing and surrounded by our own gentle atmosphere.

The disbelieving side of me wants to add that maybe the couple in the picture are in love, close through choice. Maybe they spend time side by side enjoying the world together with respect but it’s too fairytale for my world right now.

What’s your interpretation?

My kind of lost


I haven’t known what to write for a few days. I’ve been lost, I think. Profoundly lost.

In my kind of lost I can just make out snippets of modern life around me, a car horn or telephone, scribbling an appointment on the calendar, a conversation about that test at school or a friend’s promotion. I can hear, if I focus in, my own distant voice participating in this usually noisy world, it’s been for days just a dull roar to my preoccupied senses.

I’m avoiding, unsuccessfully, thinking about my traumatic experiences. It feels bigger than me. If I acknowledge their presence even a hint of a nod, they’ll surge forth and overwhelm my fragile self. I’ll be hostage to them again. I’m fighting a losing battle holding this at bay, I can’t win, I do know that. I wonder if it’s trying to stem a dam bust with outstretched hands, fingers splayed wide, small body ineffectually braced in vain.

But, what happens once I’m swept away?

Sexual abuse: the aftermath.

A glass full of opportunity?

I’m edging around the most painful parts of my abusive experiences this evening. I’m text book in repeating the victim abuse cycle over and over and as such I have an anti-trove style vault of traumatic memories and fears.

I want to make the point that I’m a glass full, silver linings, grateful for everything I do have and find the positive spin in any situation kind of a person. But as deeply as I really do feel that way I am scarred by my life. It’s difficult to see some of this as an opportunity for growth and development but I try.

I feel sick within these memories. There are so many experiences I can draw on or, more honestly, try to avoid. I feel the breadth of my background is almost implausible whilst sadly being very real.

Right now it’s the sexual violation and abuse which is shouting the loudest for my attention particularly as I’m pushing it away with both hands. I’m contorting myself as far away as I can. So, do I write about it? Should I face it head on? I avoid specific details here to keep my anonymity but is healing dependant on facing this?

I have had control of my own body taken from me many times in varying ways with variable amounts of violence and force from the worst aggression imaginable to the psychologically persistent, soul destroying every day. The devastating impact is so vast it has no edges. I couldn’t tell you which is worse, I could only say that I’ll never be the same person and the cumulative effect has broken me.

I haven’t fallen foul of drugs, alcohol, crime, suicide but I think it’s possibly luck not design. I haven’t taken my life but the value of my life only relates to the people who rely on me. I put my everything towards them because often there’s nothing intrinsic left of me worth the effort.

I mentioned suffering with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) before. This is where it comes in for me. I suffer badly with constant hyper vigilance, flashbacks, insomnia or in contrast, nightmares, I’m jumpy and easily triggered. I’ve adapted my life to avoiding these triggers, sometimes this is wildly limiting.

Taking away my right to my own body has taken away the value I can hold within it. (Here’s the positive spin) I will do my best to nurture the smallest flicker of worth and claim myself.

I intend this body to be my own one day, no matter what it takes.