Neverending

Yet again, I’m sorry for the lack of posts.

It’s not forgetfulness (although that doesn’t help), it’s from being busy (although I’ve never been this busy in my life until the last few months and I’ve mostly been very busy in my life), it’s not any number of reasons I’d have for not posting that are both real and valid – it’s simply that it’s so hard to blog about trauma while actually going through living it.

John is still obsessed with trying to punish me for speaking up about the violence.

I titled this post because it really feels like his obsession will never end.

I have never understood the mind of an abuser – the obsession with making the victim pay for trying to speak up about the abuse.  I don’t understand the desire to avoid responsibility.  I mean, even amongst the average Joe-Citizens of the world, there seems to be a passion to avoid being help responsible for things. I don’t get it.  Why don’t people just be honourable and own up to the things they have done wrong, either accidentally and deliberately, and just be done with the issue?

It’s like the time I got pulled over for speeding.  I had been in a hurry, wasn’t thinking about what the speed limit was or how fast I had been going, and apparently had crept a few kph over the speed limit (12 or 13 if I remember right).  I was  pulled over and just explained to the officer I realised I must have been speeding, I hadn’t done it deliberately, but that I obviously had been or he wouldn’t have pulled me over, so I was sorry and will just take the ticket please.  He actually thanked me for being polite as he’s so used to people taking out their anger at being caught on him.

That day I left wondering what is wrong with most people. Is taking responsibility for one’s screw-ups that rare amongst 21st century humans?  Why do so many people lie to avoid being held responsible for the wrong they do?  Why do they lash out at those they have hurt or those enforcing laws/morals?

I can understand disputing false accusations (eg using speeding as an example, if someone is pulled over for speeding but the camera or radar was giving false readings, it’s very okay to dispute it! In fact I would strongly commend those who do, because all authorities need accountability), I can understand those who have genuine reasons for doing something that would generally be considered “wrong”, that they there usually should be exceptions made (eg using speeding as an example again, if someone is having a heart attack, I can completely understand a driver breaking the speed limit to get that person to hospital before they die), therefore it’s okay to try to justify something, if the justification is legitimate.

But covering things up? Denying things? lying about it? even trying to make invalid excuses? (eg I didn’t like her trying to talk to me so I assaulted her, is one that I’ve heard  many abusers use to justify assaulting victims, and one excuse John has tried to make and sadly several people in his life accept as “valid”).

I don’t understand it.  Whatever happened to honour? Whatever happened to doing the right thing, telling the truth etc, simply because those are the honourable things to do?

It’s hard at times.  It really is.

 

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A bit of a slump…

Well today has been a real up and down day.

Today was a work day, which is usually a good thing.  Work itself was actually good.  And I like fridays.  Not because it’s the day before the weekend (especially as I only work part time so I often have week days off work) – because I actually look forward to work most days.  But rather friday is “tying off loose ends day”.  I try to finish off anything I’m working on (hate leaving things unfinished).  I usually write a report of what I’ve done that week which is satisfying (usually) to be able to look at what I’ve done all neatly summarised, and be able to say “Hey, I’ve achieved something”.  Even on the weeks where it doesn’t look like much, it still quantifies it which makes me feel like I achieved something.

As much as I miss nursing, I like now working in a job where success is more than just “kept patients alive today”.  I mean, at times, literally keeping people alive was my job, and nursing has to be one of the most important and noble jobs I know – but it could be very depressing at times to know the majority of my job was stopping things getting worse, rather than actually making things better.

But anyway, my job now is really satisfying because I can look back and say “okay, this week I achieved x, y and z”.  Having solid achievements is really good.  On the flip side, it can also means when I underachieve, it’s very obvious, but it’s like my view on criticism and “failures” – as long as it leads to future improvement, it is really helpful to know what went wrong and why.  It’s one of my annoyances with my former mother in law – trying to explain to her that not everyone despises being told what they did wrong.  I mean sure, criticism can sting, especially when you’ve honestly tried your hardest and/or had the best intentions, BUT I’d rather have that short term sting of being told what I did wrong, than to keep making the same mistakes over and over because I didn’t know I was doing something wrong (or what I was doing wrong) and no one could be bothered telling me.

I’ve never really understood the desire to run away from things that hurt a tiny amount but can help greatly.

But anyway, that’s not even what I started to write this post about.  I was actually just planning to share my day.

So work was good, doing the usual friday stuff was good.  The not so good part?  Well we said goodbye to one of our management team.  The second this month.  Not because of anything bad – just moving on to bigger and better things.  It seems to be common in most workplaces these days.  Maybe I just lack ambition, but I just want to settle into a job that makes me happy and do that for the rest of my working life.  For example, I’d be quite happy to do what I’m doing now for the rest of my life.  I mean sure, I’d like to learn more complex things, get more experienced, achieve more, but the job itself is one I’d be happy having for life.  And I know I never want to be a manager!  I mean, leading people itself isn’t all that terrible, but I just think I’d never be able to cope with all the emotional responsibility of having to take care of employees under me.

So anyway, it sucks losing two of our managers because I relied on them a lot for both learning how to do my job and just for the encouragement to not give up in my job.  I’m not sure if I’ve talked much about my job (probably not as I don’t tend to talk about current jobs much because the reality is, most employers don’t like being talked about out of fear of being perceived negatively) but what I will say is it’s in a field I’m not very experienced, skilled or educated in.  Every day I have to convince myself that I’m not a burden just turning up to work.  Everyone keeps reassuring me that I’m a fast learner, but even in an ideal world, I’m that far behind everyone else, that I will never catch up.

And with what John is putting me (and the kids) through, putting the kids first (something I do without hesitation or regret) has taken it’s toll on my work (or can I say career? I want it to be my career not just a job).  I really have no hesitation or regret putting progress in my job on hold to be there for my children – but it does make me really sad because it’s one more way John has been abusive.  He knew what he was doing would have this impact on my job – in fact, I’m quite sure he believed I would get fired from missing as much work as I have done over the last few months.  He certainly knew it would damage it from a career perspective since my career plan was to apply for a job where he works and now that is out as I don’t even want to be on the same planet as him.

But in regards to my current job, I’ve just had so much time off. I’ve missed so many important things like training, promotion opportunities, etc.  I think what has brought it back so strongly today is having the managers who were helping me do most of my training have now both left, and I ended up having a chat over morning tea with a manager of an area I had been going to advance into but now that is put on hold indefinitely and may not happen at all.  Even if I get an offer again, I don’t think I have either the confidence or the time and focus to take the offer.

I’ve had to cut back my hours twice in the last few months on top of all the time I’ve had off.  John is going to make custody a long, drawn out nightmare battle in family court which is going to mean more time off work.  I was hoping to do a diploma at uni but that is on hold. I had been hoping to try again in semester 2 this year, but after talking to a good friend from work today, I think I have to admit to defeat and accept uni isn’t going to happen this year, and more than likely never happen.  Even at the best of times, being a single parent means doing the work of two parents, but throw in John’s obsession with revenge and him trying to use the kids as weapons and what is going to be a long drawn out custody battle, at this point, not only is uni not likely to happen ever, but I may have to cut back my days at work even more, which would mean no advancement at work at all more than likely.

I’d give up work altogether in a heart beat if I had to for my kids’ sake, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when I have to keep giving up more and more.  It’s not their fault though.  There is only one person at fault and that is John.  And the saddest thing is, I’ll be fine – I’ve been unemployed before, I’ve worked in low level jobs with little chance of advancement most of my working life, etc – but it’s my girls it will hurt most.  I’m hugely below the poverty line now, and all I can think of is the opportunities that most aussie kids take for granted that I now can’t provide for girls.

Being poor is devastating – not for my sake – I grew up poor but the only thing I hated about it was the way my parents dealt with it emotionally – but I feel devastated at the opportunities Sammie and Rose won’t have because I don’t have the money for it.  And that really hurts.

But anyway, again, this post was only supposed to be sharing my day.  So where was I? work good, saying goodbye to another manager sad, being reminded of lost opportunities sad,…. oh and accidentally hurt a friend’s feelings.

I’ve had a friend who has become a really good friend over the last few months, supporting me amazingly through all the hell John has been putting the girls and I through.  Anyway, after a long day, a long week, a long year, I’m so exhausted that my brain is also exhausted.  I said something to my friend which I thought might help a situation, but turned out to be totally the wrong thing.  I apologised profusely and I think things are back to okay, but I just hate upsetting anyone.

In an old sci fi show I used to watch (by “old” I mean 1990s lol), there was an episode about a machine that could suck the pain and suffering out of one person to another.  I think it was described like an exchange of “life force”.  But that’s the kind of thing I wish I had for emotions.  I wish I could suck other people’s emotional pain out of them.  I’m okay with feeling pain myself, but I hate seeing other people I care about suffer.  It’s why I feel awful to have upset my friend, even though it was supposed to be an attempt at helping.  And it’s why I hate what John is doing to Sammie and Rose – because he is making them suffer terribly emotionally, and I just so much want to take away their pain, but I can’t, and it’s breaking my heart to watch them suffer, and know that I’m doing everything I can possibly think of to help them but it won’t stop John from hurting them.

So that was my up and down.  Up for work being good as usual, down for saying goodbye to awesome managers, upsetting a friend accidentally, and thinking about everything John’s hatefulness has cost my Sammie, Rose and I.

Even while writing this post, something else came up that I won’t write about (just plain too exhausted to write more), but it’s just one more thing that John’s hate and spite has cost the girls and I.

I honestly completely understand why some women just stay quiet about violence and abuse.  Because all too often women and children who speak up about violent and abusive men are the ones who are punished.  The abuser gets off scot free, while the victims are the ones who are left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives without little or no support, and sadly quite often, with the condemnation of the very people who are supposed to be supportive.

I can’t write any more tonight because I’m far too tired, but the reality is, it just hurts too much to write more about tonight.  Part of me wishes I’d just put up with the abuse in silence.  Speaking up hasn’t lessened the abuse. In fact, even though the way the abuse is dished out has changed, the abuse itself has become far more damaging overall.  Especially with his emotional abuse of the kids.  I wish I’d just taken the violence, being denied basics like medications and food, the constant daily stream of verbal and emotional abuse and all the rest… I just wish I’d taken it in silence.  I mean sure, it would have eventually crushed my spirit, but I just keep thinking if I had done that, then he wouldn’t be crushing Sammie and Rose’s spirits now with what he doing.

But I don’t have a time machine, I can’t change the past.  What’s done is done.  All I can do is keep trying to picking up the pieces of our lives faster than he shatter new pieces.  All I can do is hope the gullible people who continue to support him while he continues to abuse the girls and I, will eventually see what kind of person he really is and stop support him as long as he is abusive.  It may not stop him being abusive, but it may limit the damage.

That’s all I can hope for at the moment.  It’s just hard watching people turn a blind eye to the abuse while my girls are suffering so much because of him.

Not a title…

This is actually a post I started a few days ago and realised I never finished it so here goes on finishing it.

Usually when I write a post, I know what I want to title the post before I even start.  Tonight I don’t have the first clue what to call this post.  I don’t even know what I want to write about either.  There are so many things to say but no words are coming.

I guess what is foremost on my mind is something I’ve always felt – that in many ways, divorce is more painful than death.  I don’t want to take away from those who have lost someone to death, but, even though I have never lost a spouse to death, I have lost others I love to death, and even though it’s incredibly painful, why divorce hurts me personally much more than death, is that it’s more than the loss of a spouse.

Cutting John out of my life (as much as possible when you share a child) has been surprisingly easy – emotionally I mean.

But it’s the loss of relationships with people I thought were family and friends that has been incredibly painful.  Sadly some of the mostly hurtful ones are actually try to still claim they are friends and family – which is even more painful because they are the ones who have done things to actively help John abuse the kids and I, and helped him cover up the abuse from  others.

I think sadly in their own minds, some of them actually think they are good people, that they are being “loving” but in reality they are little more than abusers themselves.  Some of them know what they are doing, they are aware they are being deceitful, they know they are being manipulative, they know they are betraying trust, but in their own minds, they justify it because they believe John’s lies about the violence and abuse, they feel sorry for him, and that the ends justifies the means.

What they don’t see is that lying, being deceitful, betraying trust, manipulating and bullying is never justified – and even if it was ever justified, in this circumstance, where they are helping a violent abuser, is just compounding the abuse.  And the family members who try to claim they still love Sammie, Rose and I? they have no idea what love is.  You don’t turn a blind eye to violence and still claim you love someone.

I know some abusers (those like John) are narcissistics, and especially extremely high IQ ones like him are so good at manipulating people – and a big part of it is they honestly believe their violence and abusive behaviours are not abuse, and therefore their victims are “abusing” them by speaking out, and it justifies trying to punish the victims.

But I would give anything for those who defend him to see the truth.

And the sad thing is,  I think deep down, some of them do see at least some of the truth, but they are so desperate to not face that the man they love and have defended and done bad things themselves for, that they won’t face it.  For them to admit that he is a violent abuser, means having to admit they’ve treated me so badly themselves, that they have actively participated in helping an abuser commit abuse.

And that’s how I’ve discovered over the last few months (a few years for some of them who have known about the violence and other abuses longer) who is real family, who is a real friend – and who isn’t.  Sadly, out of John’s 8 immediate family members, I can only say one has acted like real family to me, despite many claims over the last 5 years that when I married him, I was being welcomed into the family.  And even that person doesn’t want to believe her brother is an abuser.  But at least she is trying to act like family.  Some of the others are just staying right out of it, because we haven’t been close at all, but others aren’t staying out it and have actively supported John in his abusive behaviour, and that really hurts.

And as for mutual friends? I have painfully discovered there really is no such thing.  Funny thing is, I only trusted two of his friends enough to not cut them out of my life, and one of them turned out to be a backstabbing bully herself – one who I least expected with the way she claimed to be so anti-bullying. [I will add there is a sort of third “mutual friend” but I met her before I met him so she’s not included – just in case she’s reading and thinks this is talking about her].

The thing is, what hurts the most isn’t what these “family” and “friends” have done – what hurts the most is how stupid I was to think that these people were my family and friends.  I made that mistake when my first marriage broke down – seeing how fickle family-in-law and “mutual” friends can be, and I swore I would never trust in laws and “mutual friends” again.  And yet here I am.

And this time it hurts more because, unlike my first in laws and my first husband’s friends who are a bunch of illicit drugs who are okay with domestic violence and child abuse when it suits them (and into all sorts of dishonesty, including centrelink fraud, petty theft and so on), my second in laws and second husband’s friends, is that most of them seemed like good people.  Most of them really think they are good people (as I described above).

I just feel so incredibly stupid.  These are people I praised for being so welcoming to me into their lives.  I praised them, thinking how kind and loving they were.   Even when my gut said “hey, this doesn’t feel right”, I ignored my instincts and convinced myself it was just fear of being hurt again.  I stupidly convinced myself that I was being silly.

I haven’t written much about aspergers for a while, but I think it plays a big part of how I ended up in this situation.  There are a lot of people out there who believe that us aspies don’t have instincts, “gut feelings” and the like.  But the truth is, I think us aspies actually have really good instincts – but we have had a life time of being told either we don’t have them, or they are wrong, so we have learnt to ignore those instincts, and for many of us (at least from what I’ve seen in aspie women) it means we do end up in situations like abusive relationships frequently.

I’ve been blessed to find a small group of other women in an online support group for aspie DV survivors and both their support, and their sharing of their lives, is what has kept me sane over the last year or so since I joined their group.  But while it has been a blessing to find out that I’m not a freak – that others have been through similar, and sadly, are still going through, very, very similar circumstances – it is also a curse knowing that others have suffered and are suffering the same.  I feel their pain greatly – anyone who says us aspies don’t feel empathy have no understanding what aspergers is really like – for many of us, it’s not a lack of empathy at all – it’s hyperempathy, and it’s overwhelming to care so much and not be able to do anything to take away other people’s pain.

And that’s part of why John is doing right now hurts so damn much – because I see my children’s pain – and for whatever reason, he doesn’t see it.  He doesn’t see what he is doing to them, the crushing pain they feel.  And I see their pain, and it breaks my heart into a million tiny itty bitty pieces.  And because he’s fooled so many people, I am helpless to stop him from the ongoing emotional abuse he is doing to them – and as I’ve said many times before, I know myself that emotional abuse can be far worse than any physical abuse, because I’ve been through it as a child myself.  And it breaks my heart to watch my kids being ripped apart emotionally – I mean yes, it’s very different to the abuse I suffered as a child, but at the end of the day, it’s still a parent destroying a child emotionally, and  it absolutely crushes me to watch John destroying the kids emotionally.

I want to protect my girls because when I was their age (both when I was Rose’s age – which for me is the first I remember of being abused as a child myself, and when I was Sammie’s age, when the abuse went through a very bad patch), when I was their age, I had no one to protect me.  And feeling so helpless to protect them now, makes me feel like a monster.

It’s not that I’m not trying.  I’ve tried everything possible that isn’t immoral or illegal to protect them, and sadly I’m not someone who believes the end justifies the means.  I feel like if I had to resort to things that are immoral or illegal like John and some of those who stupidly support him have done, then that would make me as bad as he is.  And while many would argue “but it’s for a good cause”, but if I become like him, then I don’t deserve to be in their lives either.

And that’s why I feel so helpless.  Being a good parent to them means there is nothing I can do in the short term to stop John hurting them.

It’s that paradox that I can’t get out of my head – that I can’t help them without becoming a bad person which means failing them, but if I do the right thing and choose to be a good person and setting them an example of doing the right thing no matter how hard that is (which to me is being a good parent) means I can’t help them in the short term, which means I’m still failing them.

And that’s what so hard about the situation I’m in.  The funny thing is, I can forgive John for the violence, I can forgive him for all the other abuses except one – the fact that he’s put us in the situation where my girls are hurting and that no matter what I do (at least in the short term) I can’t make things better for them.  And that’s the worst situation for any loving parent to be in – having to watch their children suffer and knowing whatever you do, you can’t take away their suffering.

That’s what I can’t forgive John for.  For hurting my beloved girls and that I can’t stop their hurt.

So anyway, sorry for the focus of my recent posts being all about domestic violence, but after having kept it pent up and secret for so long, combined with all the horrific things that have happened and continue to happen recently, it’s all I can think about.

I will try to get back to a more varied range of posts one day, but for now, I have what can only be described as an burning urge to share the painfully real, raw emotions that go with finally realising that my entire marriage, John has been abusive – right from our honeymoon – and that there was no “only”s and “just”s about the times John has assaulted the kids and I, that for too long I was fooling myself that we could have a normal loving marriage and a normal loving family – that no matter what I did, while no one else is willing to confront John about the violence and other abuses, he was never going to be a loving father or husband.

I want other survivors (even though I often say “victims”, the reality is those who suffered domestic violence are all survivors and that should be recognised – we are survivors, we have survived and we will keep surviving) – I want other survivors to know that the emotions they feel when they reach that point of seeing the abuse entirely for what it is – very wrong, very bad, and completely not okay – I want them to know that they will feel strong emotions, they will feel a massive range of emotions, they will sometimes feel overwhelmed by those emotions, that the emotions will ebb and flow like waves on a shore, sometimes there will even be waves that seem to hit all at once, and other times there will be times of more relief, but just like waves on a shore, what they are feeling is natural, that there is no “right or wrong” in the emotions that they feel, that it’s okay to have bad days – and it’s actually okay to have good days, that you don’t have to feel guilty over finding moments of peace and/or happiness in this difficult time.

I want survivors to know, they are not alone.  That others have been through similar.

And I want them to have hope, that if enough of us share our stories, that we can maybe, just maybe, one day make a world where people do take domestic violence, child abuse and all sorts of abuses seriously and where no one has to suffer abuse at the hands of any other person, especially not a person who claims to love them.

That’s why I keep coming back to this blog, even though it’s painful to write – because I want to make a difference to others going through the same as I have.  Because even if I can help one person, then maybe my suffering was in some way worth it.

Stay strong…

There are days…

There are days when I have so much to share but don’t have the words.

Today is one of them.

John’s manipulative abusive games over the last 24 hours have hurt Sammie so badly.  I just can’t understand how he can be so cruel to her and yet still con people with his lies about caring about her.

I just hurts too much because I feel so trapped – he is only hurting her to hurt me, but there is nothing I can do to stop him.  I have tried everything.

Why are abusers obsessed with hurting their victims? Why can’t just they just walk away?

Fed Up!

Well apparently I didn’t hit send on last night’s post but I’m too annoyed to bother writing it tonight.

I’d have thought John wouldn’t be able to be as abusive once we were no longer married.  But I thought wrong.

He can’t be physically abusive anymore, but his manipulative emotional abuse, harassment, abusing the kids emotionally, causing chaos and mayhem in their lives, etc, are all escalating, not decreasing.

Yet, like most narcissists, he likes to pretend he is the victim no matter how much he tries to hurt the kids and I.

Tonight’s manipulative game?  He’s dragging out things like trying to arrange for him to spend some time with Sammie tomorrow so she doesn’t feel neglected by him, for hours, keeping me awake when I have to get up ridiculously early in the morning for work these days thanks to the abusive interim custody arrangement he demanded until I can actually take it to court in a few months.

I’m sick of his abusive games, so I’ve said I want to take arrangements for minor things like this to a mediator and he won’t even give a simple yes or no about if he’s willing to do it.

It’s been over four hours he’s been dragging this out.  A simple yes or no question of whether he is willing to do it or not.

But apparently giving a straight answer (or any answer that is relevant to the question) would be to give up an opportunity for him to try to abuse and control me.

I can’t make him see it’s the kids he’s destroying.

Or what scares me is fear that he does see it and that’s exactly why he does it – because he knows hurting them is the only way to hurt me.

Despite everything he has done to Sammie and Rose and me, I still want to give him the benefit of the doubt when there is any doubt.

I want to believe he is just acting like a spoilt child, not a cold calculating monster.  I want to believe he’s not deliberately trying to destroy the kids – I want to believe that he is blind to the damage to the kids that his spiteful attempts to abuse and control me through them cause.  I want to believe his abuse of the kids and I are just the tantrums of an angry toddler who has been caught out doing the wrong thing but instead of saying sorry to their mummy and daddy, they lash out violently instead.  I want to believe his motivations are anger, feeling entitled, selfishness, and a lack of cognitive empathy.

But deep down I’m finding it harder to believe that.

Deep down, I’m scared that the truth is that it’s real empathy he lacks (a total lack of care for the damage his actions have on those around him, versus just the inability to notice the impact his actions have).  I’m scared he’s well aware of the damage he is doing to the kids, and that he is doing it because he knows the only way to hurt me is to hurt my kids.  I’m scared that his narcissism isn’t just mild – I’m scared that he has no sense of right and wrong – especially since I know for sure he has no sense of what is abuse and what isn’t, or more precisely thinks someone simply voicing a different opinion to him is “abusing” him, but that him violently assaulting someone because he’s in a bad mood (even his own child) is perfectly acceptable behaviour and not abuse.

Either way…. how do I get him to stop emotionally destroying the kids?  Whether it’s deliberate to hurt me, or simply because he doesn’t care if they are collateral damage in his obsession with getting revenge on me for speaking up about his violence, how do I get him to stop?

The things I haven’t yet found the words, or the time, to write about is the disgustingly evil things he has done to wrangle shared custody until I can get a court hearing in a few months.  And how child protective services have taken the view that unless a “professional” witnesses his abuse of the kids, then it’s “up to the family court to decide”.  So until I can get a hearing date, he can keep abusing the kids unchecked.  It doesn’t matter how many people come forward with complaints of his abuse of the kids, family, friends, neutral third parties, etc… basically if they are not a “professional” considered relevant to child protective services, then CPS isn’t interested.

So he gets away with it.

I just wish I knew whether his emotions were that of an angry little boy lashing out impulsively, or a calculating, misogynistic, narcissistic grown man.  And I’m truly terrified that all the evidence points to the latter.

How does one deal with someone so hell bent on revenge?

I don’t know – all I know is the things I’ve already had him do very deliberately, whether he sees how much they hurt the kids or not, absolutely terrify me.  I just want him to leave us alone.  It’s all I want.

Life continues…

*trigger warnings for talk of suicide and domestic violence*

One of the things I have found out about life is that it keeps going on.

At my most depressed, when I had post natal depression after Sammie was born, had a violent husband at home, and was being badly abused by my first treating therapist, I sadly went through a time where I found out that life isn’t actually all that easy to end.

This came up last week at work when talking to workmates.  Working in a team of people with aspergers means most of have faced horrific bullying growing up.  What this means is most of us have faced feeling suicidal during at least one point in our lives.  Somehow the topic attempted suicide came up  – I’m actually not even sure how it first came up because I joined the conversation after it had started.

The big thing I remember out of the conversation is the discussion about how strong the unconscious desire of the human spirit to stay alive is.  Which means dying “before our time” is also not easy.

So where does that leave us human beings?

It means that if dying isn’t that easy, then we have no choice but to live.  And if we have no choice but to live?  Then we have to get on living!

No.  This is not one of those depression-bashing, ignorant posts written by someone who has never experienced really depression or trauma.  I know all too well that feeling of being disgusted by ignorant people who tell those with depression or PTSD to “get over it”, “just move on” etc.  Which is why ‘d never tell someone else to get on living.

But why I wrote it, is an encouragement, rather than a command.

I want to encourage those who are suffering with depression, or trauma, or grief or any other difficult emotion right now – especially those who are wondering if life is worth continuing – I want to encourage anyone who feels like that, that dying actually isn’t easy, nor is it a solution, and that if you have to keep existing, then try to face life with the view of not just surviving, but with the view of actually living.

I know it sounds cliched.  I know it sounds like I don’t know what I’m talking about.  I know it sounds like I can’t possibly know how bad your pain is, or how awful what you’ve suffered or are still suffering is.  But I wanted to say,  I may not know what you’ve suffered or what you’re suffering, I may not know how your suffering is from a personal perspective.

But one thing I do know, is that there is something worse than living and dying – and that is living in limbo – the “just surviving”.  I know because I’ve been in that place before.

In some ways, it’s a normal part of the grieving process – ie that first period in time when you put your life on hold to gather your thoughts, to process your emotions over what has happened, to work out how to deal with it going forward.

Unfortunately when faced with depression or PTSD, it can be all to easy to get stuck in that time out period.  If you think of depression itself as a trauma to the mind, getting stuck in taking time out of life when suffering from depression or PTSD is actually a very normal response to an abnormal situation.   It’s a mourning period.

But why I wanted to write about this is because I wanted to encourage those of you who are suffering depression or PTSD or anything similar, that (if you can!) it’s okay to keep living.  It’s okay to move out of that cocoon of mourning.

I’m not saying you have to. And if it’s something you’re not ready to do at this point in journey, that’s okay.  But I’m here to encourage you that if you can find a way to return to living not just surviving, that it can help.

It won’t take away your pain, but it might help.  It won’t necessarily change your situation, but it might, at least for some people, help improve things.

Why am I writing about this?  Because it’s what I’m trying to do at the moment.

Things are hard.  Things are very hard.  For those readers who don’t know me personally, I’ve had to move house, I’m starting over as a single parent again with two children this time, Sammie is traumatised by everything that has happened, and as a teenager her favourite person to take that out on is mum [me], Rose is also traumatised and even though she can talk, she’s not old enough to verbalise how she’s feeling and it’s coming out in all the non verbal ways that kids show they are traumatised and struggling, John’s response is to tell Sammie that we all “just have to move on” from the things that have happened, even though the most painfully abusive things are actually still happening [there are things that are actually more painful than violence].

But ever since the really painful things all blew up just over two months, I’ve been in that “time out of real life” period.  I’ve barely worked in that two months, I’ve dealt with countless professionals – police, courts, child protection, support agencies, and so on, the first month I was plagued with nightmares and that’s when I was actually able to sleep, the nightmares are back to their usual levels (even though I must admit I still struggle to sleep due to worry for Rose’s safety), and all the other things that go with horrific traumas involving domestic violence and abusers that take out their anger at the victim standing up to the abuse, out on the children.

But I decided in the last few days, my “time out from real life” is over.

I’ve given my statement to the police – over John’s violence and over John’s breaches of the DVO I took out – but unfortunately the police have got back to me that they won’t charge him over the violence because most of the incidents weren’t witnessed (and the ones that were witnessed, were in another state, or I didn’t know the exact date of when they occurred, or had one of the other seemingly endless loopholes that allows violent perpetrators to get off violent assaults) – the fact that most incidents of domestic violence are never witnessed doesn’t seem to matter, and when it comes to breaches of the domestic violence order, apparently sneaking into someone’s home when the one thing you’ve had put in the order (other than the usual “be of good behaviour”) is to stay away from the property, is “insignificant”, especially when you’ve chosen to move out (but haven’t moved out yet) in the hope that the abuser’s obsession with money, material things and the home means if you just give them what they want, they might leave you alone, and you’ve made it very clear in court, in attempts at mediation, that all you want is for them to stay to stay away until you can find somewhere else to live and gather your things and leave – apparently breaching the DVO to intimidate and scare someone just isn’t a big deal to the police – “insignificant”.

The fact that it just makes John more confident in doing what he likes to the kids and I, because he thinks he will get away with it (because so far he has), means nothing to the police.

But this post wasn’t meant to be about sharing my frustrations with our legal system that protects abusers and violates victims all over again.

So I’ve done all I can with the police at this time, I’ve done all I can with the family court legal process until the first hearing in a few months, I have heard the interim DVO mediation, the DVO hearing isn’t for another few weeks, I’ve told child protection about the abuse of the kids (and can’t change their attitude is the same as those that I dealt with when Sammie and I escaped her violent father, ie that “the family court is involved now, it’s up to them to make decisions”), I’ve found a new place, I’ve moved out of the old place.

I can’t do undo the terrible things John has done to the kids and I, I can’t even do anything more to protect the girls and I from ongoing abuse until a few months’ time when the different things go to family court and domestic violence court.

So what I am deciding to do is to move on from survival mode, leave my “cocoon of mourning” and return to living not just surviving.

In some ways, it is easier for me than for others because at the moment I’m not battling the horrors of biological depression.  I am very traumatised by what has happened, and my PTSD symptoms still linger, new ones created in the last few months, as well as the old ones from previous abuse, but I am making the very conscious decision to not them cripple me.

For those of you who have PTSD (or those of you who know someone who has PTSD), please don’t misunderstand – not everyone with PTSD is in a mental (or even a physical) place where they can make that choice.  If I was battling a depressive episode at the same time as the hell I am being putting through by John, there is no way I could make just decide to get back to living life as normally as possible.  I know all too well that sometimes, the time people need to wrap themselves in a protective cocoon away from the world is a lot longer – and for those who have been abused or traumatised in some other way, or those who are battling other issues (family issues, health issues, whatever), the time it takes to heal can be an enormous amount of time.

But I consider myself “lucky” because, even though it hurts much more going through this a second time, it means I already have the knowledge that I CAN survive this.  I consider myself “lucky” because I can still fight to protect my children from violent abusers – some people sadly are not that lucky.  I consider myself “lucky” because despite issues like having to cut back my hours at work because of being a single parent again, that I have an amazingly supportive work (management and coworkers) who not only provide professional support, but emotional support, flexibility (as much as possible) to attend things like court hearings, and only care not judgement even in the first few weeks this happened when I had to leave work early multiple times because I couldn’t stop crying for fear for Rose’s safety.

Also because my job has allowed me for the first time in the nearly five years I’ve lived in this city, to finally make genuine friendships with people (other than a small handful of people I’ve met through support groups that are hard to catch up with due to us all struggling with health, and work and/or kids, and hard to find times where we’re available and well enough to catch up).  Before now, my only friends have been through my church that I have painfully realised most were not real friends.  Many aren’t bad people (in fact most of them have been very genuinely good people) but the “friendships” were more just “acquaintances that talked to each other due to going to the same things”.  The “friendships” that have been more than just acquaintances, I have discovered, like many domestic violence abusers,  John has been over time poisoning the friendships behind my back over time to isolate me and to make sure when I finally spoke out about his violence and other abuses, that many of them would sadly not want to believe it.

Thankfully some do believe it.  In fact, some have been begging me to leave him for a long, long time (even before he became physically abusive).  Some have seen some of the abuse, others don’t need to see it because they know John and they know me and they know the controlling, angry, spiteful side of him that he hides so well from most people, and they know if he hadn’t done the one thing I told him I would never tolerate – abuse the children – I wouldn’t have said a negative word about him to anyone no matter how bad things got.

But anyway, I consider myself lucky because even though my marriage to John turned out to be only one sided, until I finally gave in and accepted he didn’t love me and doesn’t even know what love really means, foolishly thinking he felt the same way about me as I did about him, gave me the feeling of safety and having what I thought was a safe emotional space, gave me the chance to heal from previous abuses, and to reach a point where I was strong enough that I didn’t need his support to have my own safe emotional space.  I consider myself lucky that it is only in the last 6 months as I have made some amazing friends and found amazing supports (including the managers at my job) that I now have found the strength to realise I don’t need anyone else to feel safe – that if people don’t see the real me, that it is their loss.  I am lucky that I am strong enough within myself that I can deal with the abuse from John and not feel beaten by it.

It hurts what John has done and continues to do.  More than nearly anything in my life has ever hurt before.  But I am strong enough in myself to know that neither he, nor anyone else for that matter, can break my spirit.  I will keep fighting to protect my children  – from him and anyone else out there who might try to hurt them now or in the future.

So this coming week, with a new month coming, I am leaving the cocoon I have been in the last two months – a cocoon where “real life” got put on hold to live in survival mode that comes when one’s whole life is dealing with police and lawyers and courts etc to urgently try to rescue and protect one’s children.  Yes there are court dates still to come, and everything that goes with that, but for now, I am returning to “real life”, heading back to work four days a week (albeit with shorter hours), going back to church somewhat regularly (but at a new church I’ve been attending on and off the last year where domestic violence isn’t just ignored), doing things other than just the bare essentials – I’m even hoping to get back to the gym one day a week to help with my knee pain like the physios keep pushing me to do as a minimum!

Of course, nothing will take away the worrying for Rose when she is with John and not at home here with me.  Nothing will take away the pain of seeing Rose and Sammie suffering the effects of trauma from John has done to us. Nothing will take away my own PTSD and hurt. But since there is nothing more I can do, at least in the immediate future, I am going to do my best to get on with life – to show my girls that  no matter what the betrayal, no matter what abuse, that I won’t beaten by it, and they don’t have to be beaten by it either – I will show them that I am strong and I am here for them and will fight to protect them no matter what, that they can count on me to not give up.  I will show them no matter what life throws at you, that you can come out the other side and not be broken.

It will be hard.  Even on the best of days where I can nearly ignore the trauma of past abuse, the pain of present abuse, and the fear of future abuse, I still have to face my physical health issues and how difficult being a single parent is (even for those who are healthy and have far more support than me).  Even on my best days, I am plagued by physical pain – from my pre existing health problems, and from ongoing pain from injuries John has given me in the last 18 months – as well as extreme exhaustion from health problems.  Sammie still needs more support than the average teenager due to her aspergers and her pre existing trauma issues from the abuse and abandonment from her biological father, as well as how John has treated her.  Rose is a typical very hyperactive toddler, as well as dealing with the trauma and needing support for that.

But I am determined to be the strongest person I possibly can be so they know mum is always there for them, and so they know they can conquer their traumatised feelings too.  So I am getting out there, returning to normal life. My time for mourning and grieving is over and I am getting back out into the real world.

It will be hard.  There will be lots of moments when I want to return to a safe cocoon, but the reality is, the world keeps spinning.  It’s okay to take time out to grieve, and to just survive. But the reality is, it’s not healthy to stay grieving for too long, and neither the human mind nor the human body can cope with being in survival mode indefinitely.  So I’m leaving my cocoon.

I hope for those of you who are suffering right now, that you are able to find strength and healing so that you can also leave your cocoons.  Maybe not immediately, maybe not even in the short term, but one day.   Hiding away somewhere safe emotionally has it’s place, and it’s part of the healing process, but just remember, it is only when the butterfly leaves the cocoon that it actually becomes a butterfly.

You have the strength in you to live life, not just survive and not just exist.  You too can become a butterfly.  It may take time, there will be setbacks at times, but you (and I mean every single person reading this no matter how awful life has treated you) you too can one day find that strength inside of you to be a butterfly.

Even before the hell with John started, it is the experience of my first marriage and other abuses I have been through in life, that is why I fell in love with the metaphors around butterflies, and where my username “i take to flight” comes from.

I am a butterfly, I have been through the deepest darkest nights as a caterpillar, I have taken time out in my cocoon to regroup emotionally, spiritually and practically, and now I leave that cocoon and I take to flight, for me and my wonderful, amazing children.

Life continues….

Return to the personal – a DV post

*domestic violence trigger warning*

I’ve been sitting here in front of the screen for a few hours now, not knowing where to start.  Actually I’m here to write a post I’ve been trying to write for many months – a post I never wanted to have to ever write – but I can’t avoid it forever and still be true to what I started this blog for.

For some time, I’ve barely posted at all, and even before that, much of what I wrote was very impersonal, and even what I shared that was personal, was avoiding what I wanted to write about.

But how does a person share something that is devastating that they’ve been trying to ignore for so long?

I really don’t know how to share this other than come right out and say it – “John” didn’t quite turn out to be the man I thought he was.

I haven’t been able to write posts because how could I write about domestic violence and abuse when I was going through it still?  I felt like if I wrote about domestic violence but didn’t talk about what I was going through, then I was only half telling the truth, and a half truth can be as bad or worse than a lie.  But on the other hand, I felt like if I wrote personal posts on other topics, then it was a painful reminder of what I was avoiding talking about.

So I just stopped writing except the occasional thing here and then – wanting desperately to write about what was going on, but never finding the words.

But here I am now.

……

Reading back on what I’ve written, I feel like I’ve only written half of the truth anyway.  Not deliberately, but because that’s exactly what domestic violence does to the human spirit.

All too often in an abusive relationship, the abuse builds up very, very slowly.  It comes up all the time – if abusers treated you the way they do now, in the early stages of the relationship, you’d see it for abuse straight away and cut them out of your life immediately.  But that’s not how abusers work.  They chip away at you, a little bit at a time, like a small stream eventually carving away a massive canyon.

I look back at things I’ve written – in this blog, in comments on other people’s blogs, in emails and chats with friends, etc – and in hindsight, I can see John was always an abuser – even when I was raving about how wonderful he was when we first met, even when I talked about the sweet and caring things he did, there are little hints of the things that eventually happened.

I dismissed them as “nobody’s perfect and he’s still the most awesome guy I’ve met” and “his good points more than outweigh the ‘few’ bad points”, or just glossed over them, didn’t pay attention to them, or outright just ignored them.  Not deliberately, but the human mind (even ones that aren’t average) has a way of filtering out things that it doesn’t want to face – “rose coloured glasses”.

Most of the time, “rose coloured glasses” are healthy.  It’s what gives people the thrill of first falling in love and other new situations, it’s what helps people deal with the natural disappointments in life, it’s making the best of imperfect situations and imperfect people – it’s what helps relationships including family and friends, survive the way that all human beings fail each other sometimes.

But sometimes those rose coloured glasses can be so unhealthy.  Sometimes they can blind us to the true character of those around us.  And while we give more and more of ourselves to those in our lives, we don’t realise that the people we are giving ourselves to are only taking love and giving back nothing except for hurt.

When I married John, I told myself that I knew he wasn’t perfect.  I knew his flaws – or so I thought.  I knew he wasn’t the most lovingly passionate man emotionally, but I dismissed it as him being a logical person, one who doesn’t think emotionally, a person who thinks 100% with his head and 0% with his heart – a “Spock” mindset for those of you have ever watched Star Trek.  I knew he had the occasional “meltdown” (even though that in itself is incompatible with him being not an emotional person), but dismissed it as not very often and minor.  I knew he had mental health issues, but I dismissed those as insignificant, not effecting his life and under control – and that a quarter of the population have some form of diagnosable mental illness in their life and most live completely normal lives.

But it wasn’t until things got much worse, when I went back and looked at things I’d written to family and friends, that I realised things were far worse even before we got married than I ever realised.  Things like his “meltdowns” that I had thought were not very often and minor, once I sat down and worked out just how often they had happened, I realised they were far from uncommon – and only once the rose coloured glasses were removed, did I realise they weren’t small or insignificant either.

I came to realise also, that John was far from emotionless.  It wasn’t that he lacked emotions.  It wasn’t even that he lacked the ability to express his emotions in a “normal” way, and it wasn’t just that he has alexithymia (the inability to identify one’s own emotions).  I eventually realised that John only expresses emotional extremes – childish mania that I’ve rarely seen in adults unless they are high on drugs or drunk, or having a manic episode or have other issues – or angry, bitter, hateful depression.  And more than that – he can flip back and forth in an instant, and go between them back and forth very quickly.

He had huge issues with sudden mood swings – the severity of which I never realised until he stopped antidepressant medication a little over 18 months ago. But in hindsight those mood swings were always there, just he hid it well and I dismissed what I did say, made excuses for it, minimised it – all the things that I should have learned in my first marriage were massive warning signs that he was abusive and would escalate

But even though the history of having been married to one violent abuser should have taught me the warning signs, it was exactly that experience of having been married to a violent abuser in my first marriage, that contributed to me not realising for so long that I’d married a violent abuser for a second time.

John’s differences to my first husband were so very clear (different personalities, different interests, claims of very different morals and beliefs, etc) that I missed the very important similarities – the anger issues, the self entitlement, the arrogance covering up self esteem issues, the need to tear someone else down to build themselves up (only feeling good by feeling like they are better than others).

And probably the biggest reason I missed how abusive John was until I was deeply being abused, was that John’s abuse of me was very different – the same types of abuse were there – verbal and emotional, financial and eventually physical abuse – but how he did them was very different.  Where my first husband was very direct – he’d explode, be very aggressive and eventually very violent (even trying to kill me during near-psychotic rages several times) – he was extremely impulsive and like an explosion, but afterwards he’d come back and beg forgiveness and express so much remorse – John on the other hand turned out to be far more premeditated – manipulative, spiteful – and other than the first few times, he has pretty much shown no remorse.  And even the first few times, he’d be remorseful only briefly – a few weeks the first time, a few days the second time, only for the rest of the day the next few times, and then not at all.

It had taken me years to realise that what my first husband did to me was abuse and wrong and not okay.  So to be faced with abuse that was just as devastating (physically even more devastating injuries despite the assaults themselves being less vicious) but so very different, it took me so long to accept that I was being abused again.

And the thing is, after the second or third assault, I did realise I was being abused – but by then I was trapped and unable to leave.

I will end there for tonight as I’m barely able to keep my eyes open from exhaustion.

I will reassure for those reading, I am no longer with John.  I won’t say the girls (Sammie and Rose) and I are completely safe, but we are not in danger right at this minute.

Things have happened that I will never forgive or forget (although I want to forgive and wish I could forget) but that is a post for another night.

I just wanted to share why I haven’t blogged regularly the way I had intended when I first started this blog.  There are so many things I want to share, about the abuse that has happened, the abuse that is still continuing, that it’s not just me but Sammie and Rose that have suffered too – just to be clear, I have shared next to nothing about the abuse they have been through, not because I consider myself more important, not because they haven’t been abused, not because I’m trying to hide it – but because, as I’ve already tried to convey in previous posts, that their experiences are their experiences, not mine.

When or if they are ready to share their experiences, including about the abuse, I will support them, I will help them share their story if they want me to, but in the mean time, I will only share only a minimum about their experiences.

I hope to come back and post more soon, but, as anyone who has ever been in a relationship with an abuser knows, it’s not just hard to write about the experience, but it’s hard to even start writing – it can actually even be hard to open up the website with the blog, it’s that traumatic to face having been so badly abused.

All I know at this stage, I’m just glad to finally be opening up.  To counsellors, to family and friends, to police and other authorities, and finally here on my blog.  If I wasn’t literally falling asleep, I’d say a massive weight has lifted from my shoulders and from my heart.

My blog was the last place where there are people I felt a massive need to open up to about the abuse.  It was the last place I felt forced to stay silent.  And now that I have opened up and no longer silent about the abuse, I feel so relieved.

If anyone has found this post difficult, please don’t stay quiet.  Please open up and talk to someone. If you are being abused, reach out and ask for help.  I know how hard it is, and that there are places where help is scarce but please open up and reach out anyway – there is help out there and it’s worth it to reach out.

Sharing a quote from one of my very favourite movies…

“Never give up. Never surrender!”