Should be asleep…

Well I’m home from an evening shift and have a morning shift tomorrow so probably should be asleep since I have to be up in 5 hours.  I really hate doing “late earlies”.  Really do.  But I guess it’s all part of the job.

I was pleasantly surprised to realise tonight that I think I’m finally getting better at things at work.  Working on a surgical ward is so different from mental health and it has taken a little while to adjust, but I think I’ve finally settled in.  The sad thing is it’s not long before I move onto my next placement which isn’t a surgical ward so I’ll have to start over again!  But at least it’s a good learning experience I guess.

To be honest, I don’t have a lot to write tonight.  I’m just really proud of how far I’ve come in the last few months.  I’m finally comfortable at work.  I’m no longer scared of the job.  It feels really good, especially with how much I’ve been effected by anxiety this year.  It goes to show that even severe anxiety (anxiety so bad that suicide feels like a better option than facing it) can be overcome.  So, even though I don’t have much to say tonight, I want to leave people with that thought – no matter how anxious or scared of something you are, that anxiety and fear can be over come.  It may take time, it may take therapy and/or medications, but it can be over come.  Just don’t give up.

Writers block again.

I guess I should be happy that there is nothing exciting going on in my life right now because it means everything is going well.  However it means I also don’t have a lot to write about on here without writing more about my past which isn’t always easy to do.

I’ve been sitting here tonight for three hours trying to think of something to write.  My present is boring and my past is too painful to write about on nights when the exhaustion is overwhelming.

I guess it’s a good thing – I have met people who go out of their way to create drama to have something interesting to say and personally I’d rather be boring than produce drama.  But at the same time, I would really love for my blog to become something that people enjoy reading or at least find interesting.

I guess it comes from my wanting to make a difference in the lives of others.  It’s very hard at the moment with my physical health the way it is, so my work and online are the only two places I have where I can make a difference.  I just wish I could think of things to say to make a difference in the lives of others.  The passion to help others is huge for me, but unfortunately I often just don’t know what to do.

But for now, I will keep hoping and praying for two things – more ideas on how to help others and better health so I can achieve more to help others.  And in the meantime, I will keep trying to get up the courage to share about my past to get the word out about what happens in our society and so that others who have been through similar know they are not alone.

Anyone who claims that people with autism lack empathy…

Anyone who claims that people with autism lack empathy, have obviously never tried raising a teenager with ASD!

Today as the cricket world mourns the death of Phil Hughes, I have spent the afternoon trying to comfort a desperately distraught Sammie.  Cricket is her passion/obsession and she worships cricket players who play for Australia.

And the hardest part is nothing I say or do brings any comfort to her.  I know how upset she is because she actually asked for a hug  – something she only does maybe a few times a year.  And it scares me, because I don’t think she realises just how close my grandmother is to passing away in the next few months and I am scared because it may tip her over into a genuine depressive episode.

That’s one of the hardest parts of having aspergers – people with aspergers do feel emotions, and many feel them deeply, often more deeply than the average neurotypical person, but the difficulty expressing them in a way that others understand and knowing how to ask for help dealing with the emotions in a way that others will understand.

I know because even though the pain I have been though hasn’t been the death of a sports here, rather my pain was being an abuse survivor, but ultimately, pain is pain, and I know how hard it has been to get people to understand when I have been suffering deeply.

Which is why I want to help Sammie.  Because I can see how much pain she is in.  I just wish I knew more about what will make her feel better.  I will keep trying everything I know and ask for professional advice, but it breaks my heart to see her so sad.

A short post

After yesterday’s long post, I thought I’d just write a short one tonight.  Feeling emotionally quite good after opening up on here last night.   It was so draining getting it all out, but afterwards I feel lighter.  I think it’s so important for abuse survivors to share their stories – both for themselves ( to release it) and for other victims and survivors to know they are not alone, so hopefully they can travel further on their journey of healing from the abuse.

I think too, after writing my post last night, it helped me get a good night’s sleep.  No nightmares for a change. And I even managed to go back to bed after the girls went to school/childcare (I love wednesdays on the ones when I’m not rostered on to work!) so I got a few hours more sleep before it got too hot to sleep.

Probably a good thing as I’m still recovering from seeing the dentist yesterday afternoon.  The good news is two days of rest and my knees are nearly back to (my) normal.  In other news, after seeing the pain specialist yesterday, he is still not wanting to do another back injection (because I’ve had a heap of other cortisone injections in the rest of me this year and he’s worried about the effect on my body with that much cortisone in it) but has said he’s recommending to my GP to restart a medication I used to be on called plaquenil (which I had stopped to try and conceive Rose as it can cause severe birth defects apparently).  So with a little bit of luck, that will help things too.

Other than that, I think I’ve written enough about my past last night to last a few days at least, my present isn’t particularly exciting (just work, looking after the kids and house, and medical appointments) and that just leaves my future.  My long term future plans are still the same (go back to mental health nursing, buy a bigger house, maybe have another baby) and my short term future plans are just to hang in another three weeks at work until I have 4 weeks off for christmas.  Really looking forward to that.

And that’s the sum total of my existence lately.  And I must say, I’m content.  It’s nice having suffered so deeply with depression and PTSD on and off my entire adult life, and in between even when I haven’t been depressed, I have struggled with so many things like health and poverty and an abusive husband (and later stalker exhusband).  It’s nice to reach a point in life where I am truly content.  Things aren’t perfect – my health is far from it, our housing situation is difficult and so is our financial situation.  But I have a husband who I adore and who feels the same way about me, I have two wonderful kids, I have a few great friends, I have a great church and I have a job that is satisfying.  Life is okay and okay is more than enough to be content with.

White ribbon day – and the influence of DV on extended family

So today was White Ribbon Day – the day each year to promote the ending of domestic violence.  I had hope to share more of my experience being a DV survivor before now, but it’s never an easy topic to talk about.

Some days I can get the words out easy but emotionally it’s hard.  Other days the words just don’t come.  IT would be nice if I knew from day to day in advance which days were which.  But I guess that’s the thing with trauma and PTSD – you never know in advance what days are going to easy and what days are going to be hard.

Today hasn’t been hard, but it’s been a long day.  Even though I called in sick for work,  I still work up at the time I would have woken for work (about 5:45am usually) and the guilt of missing work even though I really couldn’t work meant I couldn’t get back to sleep before little Rose woke up.  John on the other hand ended up missing work and sleeping all day which was kind of frustrating.  I know he’s depressed and exhausted, but both of us missing work (and therefore not getting paid) will be a bit difficult, especially as we’ve worked out we’ll both only be on half pay for our annual leave over christmas (two weeks for John, 4 weeks for me because my work accidentally gave me an extra 10 days more off than I requested).

But we’ll get through it.  Just Christmas will be really tight this year.  But it will still be good.  We get to meet our new baby niece which will be really special for me.  It’s John’s first niece/nephew – for me, it’s complicated.  Andrew’s sister has children – who are Sammie’s cousins and who were a big part of my life for a number of years.  I used to babysit them a lot and for the 8 years Andrew and I were married, they were my niece and nephew.

That’s the thing – domestic violence doesn’t just effect the victim, it effects whole families.  For 7 years, Andrew’s sister said she loved me like a flesh and blood sister and claimed no matter what she’d always see me that way.  Then in the last year Andrew and I were together, something changed. The more violent he got and the more I tried to get him off drugs, the more his sister encouraged him to be that way.  Which was incredibly hurtful, hypocritical and ironic since when her first husband ran off with his mistress after being violent towards her and their kids, I was the one who supported her.  Even failing out of uni because she kept begging me every day to go and keep her company to help her get over it.

It wasn’t that way at first – at first she used to beg Andrew, so Andrew and I would go over, and within five minutes he’d say he was just ducking out for a little while to see his dealer.  And then he’d disappear for hours, sometimes all day.  It didn’t matter that I needed to go home to work on assignments, or when Sammie was little and she needed to be home in her cot.  Pretty quickly his sister saw that I cared and he didn’t and so she just started asking me to come over and keep her company.

So I was stunned that when she learnt he was beating me, she not only didn’t tell him to stop, but actively helped him try to bully me into silence.  She even started verbally and emotionally abusing me herself.  It didn’t happen overnight.  It started after she started dating again and got her confidence back and no longer needed my support.  She sadly is like some victims of abuse – the ones who think the only way to be strong and stand up to being bullied is to become a bully themselves.  I wish people could see that being a bully is NOT being strong.  That it is a very cowardly act to be a bully.  But it’s why domestic violence often ends up generational – because abused children (or those exposed to domestic violence) nearly always go one of two ways – they either become bullies themselves (like Andrew and his sister) or like me, they become victims over and over.

But the cycle can be broken.  I am living proof of that. It took 27 years before I found the strength to break free of being a victim and to become a survivor instead.  And I have raised Sammie to neither be a victim or a bully.  And I will raise Rose the same way.

It just hurts though to be reminded that when Andrew and I separated, I didn’t just lose a marriage, but I lost an entire family.  Even though his sister’s behaviour was cruel, I do understand why she did it.  Andrew is her only living immediately family (other than her kids) and she didn’t want to lose him.  I understand that.  But that’s one of the biggest perpetuating factors of domestic violence – perpetrators manipulate their families into supporting their abuse by using the ties of blood, especially in small families where their family member is afraid of being cut out of the perpetrators life.

But it was also more than that.  When Andrew’s sister met the man who would become her second husband, things changed significantly.  Like Andrew, he’s a drug addict (he may have stopped by now, but he was still a drug addict when I lost contact with Andrew’s family) and Andrew’s sister got involved in the drug use.  They’d often ask Andrew to lend them money for drugs, which he was happy to do because they gave him some to use for free as a thank you, and then they’d generally pay him back with more drugs instead of money.  It was great for him – but he’d generally take all the money put aside for food or bills to lend them, knowing full well we’d never see it returned as actual money.  Sometimes I’d manage to stop him from taking some or all of our money (especially when it was all our food money for the week as I couldn’t let Sammie starve), particularly when it wasn’t even always our money – he’d often go to my parents and con them into thinking I’d sent him to borrow money off them (when I had no idea what he was doing until days or weeks later) and then take that money to his sister to “lend” her to buy drugs for her and then-boyfriend.

After I made it clear to my parents they were never to give money to Andrew without checking with me first (not that that stopped them altogether) and managed to cut back on the money Andrew was giving his sister for drugs, that’s when she started to get nasty towards to me.  Including verbally abusing me if Andrew hit me in front of her eg making threats about how I better not say a word about it etc.  For the last 6 months Andrew and I were together, I saw his sister and her children less and less – except of course when she wanted a babysitter or some other help which I was always happy to give.

I had hoped when Andrew and I separated that his sister would at least be civil for the sake of Sammie and Sammie’s cousins so they could continue having a close relationship but that wasn’t to be the case.  I tried very hard though.  The first thing that happened is I found out Andrew’s sister had known about his affairs and had been helping him cover them up, saying he was with her when he was really with his mistresses.  Then it came out that the first mistress he moved in with after we separated had actually been introduced by his sister to her children as his “new girlfriend” before he and I had even separated.  That Andrew’s sister had been welcoming his mistress into her home while he and I were still together and treating the mistress like as if she was family.

That hurt but I still kept trying.  Then after he broke up with that mistress and moved in with one of his others he had been involved with before we separated, things got even worse.  I still kept inviting Andrew’s sister and her children to things for Sammie like birthday and Christmas and other catch ups.  I used to let Sammie go over and visit by herself too (I of course wasn’t welcome) but when I found out Andrew’s sister had been inviting Andrew over when Sammie visited, I had to put a stop to Sammie going over there by herself.  Not out of spite or anything, but child protection services had made it clear that (because of Andrew’s history of abusing Sammie) that I was never to allow him access to Sammie outside of court ordered times or I’d be accused of “neglecting” her and she’d be removed from my care.

My ex sister in law refused to accept that and it wasn’t worth me risking losing Sammie to foster care so she could see her cousins and aunt occasionally.  But I didn’t cut off contact.  We still kept doing birthdays and christmas and I arranged for my mum to supervise Sammie going to visit Andrew’s sister which we did for a few years.

But as I mentioned, things got worse when Andrew moved in with the other mistress (the one he ended up marrying).  Andrew’s sister and the other mistress got on great.  They have a lot in common – they both are drug addicts, they both enjoy getting together and saying nasty things about other people, they both take pride in finding new ways to scam Centrelink and see no problem doing so and both believe working hard to support your family is for suckers and that tax payers should support them.  I know it sounds nasty, but I’m just being blunt and truthful – they have publicly made those things clear.  I knew of course of their very public conversations ridiculing and abusing me on social media (I tried to avoid it but well meaning friends would warn me about what was being said about me).  But the final straw was when they started doing it to Sammie as well.

Sammie was too young at the time to have a social media account, although I would let her use my public one to play her favourite games on occasionally (I had two accounts – one private, one public – so that I could share my full thoughts on things privately with my closest friends, but at the same time could have a public account that I didn’t have to worry about whether mutual friends would repeat private things I said online).  But I made sure on my public account, that I had these abusive people blocked so Sammie could never see the horrific things these two people were saying about her.  Unfortunately, some social media sites do nothing about online bullying and harassment.  When I reported the abusive things being said about Sammie, the site’s response was to shut down MY account and tell me that I shouldn’t be let Sammie view these things.

They didn’t understand – *I* never let Sammie view the horrible things being said about her.  As I said, I had these people blocked.  The problem is Sammie has two parents – a mother and a father.  And every time Sammie went to visit her father, he’d put her on his social media account to play games and she could see the horrible things his sister and his mistress were saying about her.  And it was all sorts of cruel things – making fun of her autism, saying she was a monster, that she’s the worst behaved child in existence, etc.  And the most ironic was the lies about her behaviour – claiming that she abused little children younger than her and that she’d abuse her half brother when he was born – coming from a pair of adults who both have abused their children (Andrew’s sister abuses her children verbally and emotionally, and the mistress lost custody of her child due to much worse).

I can actually understand the mistress doing it – she made it clear she was very jealous of Sammie, eventually making Andrew choose between her and Sammie.  But his sister?  (Sammie’s aunt) Viciously emotionally and verbally attacking her only niece and for what?  To get back at me for daring to leave her brother because of his violence??? I’ve never been able to make sense of it.

Even after that, I still tried to maintain the supervised visits for Sammie’s sake, but Andrew’s sister lost interest and we haven’t heard from her for a few years now.  While I’m not disappointed that Sammie doesn’t see her aunt because of the horrible abusive things her aunt said about her (and Andrew showed her), I’m disappointed for Sammie’s sake that she no longer sees her cousins.  As it is, they are currently her only biological cousins.  Although one of the blessings of John’s family is they treat Sammie like flesh and blood and John’s new little niece is not only my little niece but is also considered Sammie’s cousin as well.

I know that no matter what happens with John, that his family will never abandon Rose – nor even Sammie and I.  And that is reassuring.  They won’t be like Andrew’s immediately family and turn abusive, nor will they be like his extended family who just didn’t want to know (pretty much cutting Andrew out of their lives except the occasional big family gathering where they tolerate him).  I know John and I won’t get divorced – we both care too much about each other and doing the right thing to ever have that happened – but I do worry at times that he may die young (I can thank having general anxiety for giving met hat worry).  But I do know that his family will always be supportive, and after everything I’ve been through with Andrew’s family, having John’s family being so welcome and supportive means a lot.

I got a little side tracked, but basically what my post tonight is about, is how domestic violence is influenced by extended family and how it hurts extended family.  Andrew didn’t just abuse me and Sammie with his behaviour, but he ripped apart many family relationships.  By involving his sister in his abuse, it destroyed her and my relationship (and as I mentioned, I thought we were like sisters and I was the one always there for her when he never was).  It cost Sammie her relationship with her aunt (and her uncle) – although that Andrew’s sister’s choice.  But most importantly, it ended up costing Sammie and her cousins their relationship – four innocent kids caught in the abuse from Andrew and his sister.  I hope one day one or all of her cousins will seek Sammie out and they can have a relationship.  The older two cousins are now adults and hopefully will reach out to Sammie  in the not too distant future.  It’s something I hope and pray for both Sammie’s sake and theirs.

But the whole thing is just sad.  Sammie and I never asked for any of this.  We didn’t ask for Andrew to abuse us.  I loved Andrew with all my heart and did everything I could for him, and Sammie was (and still is) just an innocent child.  We certainly didn’t expect for Andrew’s sister to turn nasty and abuse us – especially poor little Sammie.  And with all the effort I put into keeping Sammie in contact with her aunt and cousins, despite the abuse and threats I got from Andrew’s sister for years, the last thing I expected was Andrew’s sister to just give up on seeing Sammie altogether, because despite her abusive comments about Sammie online, she would always claim how much she loved Sammie and wanted her in her life.

And of course, there is the issue I haven’t really addressed tonight, is how families influence and even encourage domestic violence.  I won’t address it fully tonight as I know post is already really long, but I do know that like many bullies, Andrew cares heaps about what those close to him think.  If his sister had ever condemned his behaviour (or if any of his extended family or any of his friends had condemned his behaviour) rather than supporting it indirectly by covering it up or directly by telling him that’s what men can and should do to their wives, things would have been very different.  But not one person in his life ever stood up to him being abusive to me.  The ones who think domestic violence is ok were very vocal, and the ones who are against domestic violence were completely silent “not wanting to get involved” without realising that by staying silent they ARE involved.

As the saying goes “when good men remain silent, evil triumphs”.  When people say nothing when they know abuse is happening, they are not remaining neutral – they are taking the side of the perpetrator because silence only encourages a perpetrator as they believe people who are silent are silently agreeing with them.

I wasn’t even planning to write about my former sister in law.  I don’t like saying negative things about my ex in laws because I don’t particularly like saying negative things about anyone, and ultimately they are still Sammie’s family even if they choose to have nothing to do with her.  But I felt it was important to speak up about this topic on a day dedicated to stamping out domestic violence.  Because ultimately, domestic violence rarely happens in a vacuum.  There are always innocent bystanders who suffer like Sammie’s cousins who no longer see Sammie because of the actions of their mother.  And because in many cases of domestic violence, the perpetrators family are well aware the DV is happening and at “best” they say nothing and are therefore complicit in perpetuating the abuse, or at worst they join in and also abuse the victim/s.

And something needs to be said.  Sammie and I are away from these people.  We are living happy and safe lives, but I know how lucky we are.  Not all women and children are so lucky.  Some are still trapped with their abusers either living with them or in shared custody with them.  And for their sake, I wanted to speak out.

It is so very important that the families of perpetrators speak up and say domestic violence is wrong.  That it’s better to lose contact with an abusive brother/son/father/family member, than to say nothing while they beat their wife and children.  Because silence only encourages the abuser.

We all have to speak out when we see abuse.  Every single human being. Families, friends, workmates, even strangers.  Domestic violence is not ok.  Please, if someone you know is abusing their spouse or children, SPEAK UP!

So much pain :(

I was hoping to continue my series about my experience with being a survivor of domestic violence with white ribbon day tomorrow but unfortunately I’ve really hurt myself over the last few days.  Taking Sammie bowling for her birthday on saturday was so much fun but I hurt my bad knee in the process, limping on sunday hurt my “good” (ie not quite as bad) knee, and the pain from those has completely messed up my back today at work.  Sammie also hurt my shoulder accidentally last thursday and work today made it much worse.

I feel so old.  I had an appointment with the knee specialist today to have another round of cortisone injections done in my knee to try and delay getting my knees replaced (because that will highly likely end my nursing career altogether).  I got to be an “interesting” case example for a student working with him today.  It was interesting for me because he explained everything in all my scans very thoroughly and didn’t dumb it down.  I must admit I couldn’t follow all the stuff he was showing on the MRIs, but the xrays were very interesting and I could follow everything he said about them.

It was also really good because he had a graph of hard statistics about the success (ie length of time needed to needing it done again) of knee replacements versus the age they are done at.   In some ways it wasn’t quite the failure rate I was expecting, so it was kind of reassuring, but at the same time, it’s also not good so trying to delay it until I can’t function anymore.

I just feel bad because I’ve had to call in sick for work tomorrow because I can barely walk.  I’m hoping I can walk enough to keep my doctor’s appointment tomorrow though.  I just feel especially bad because I have an important assessment I was supposed to do in the morning and worried that they might fire me because it will be at least two months before it can rescheduled and because I’m only part time, I’m already overdue for this assessment.  People keep reassuring me they can’t fire a person for taking a genuine sick day, but sadly I know they can (or can force people to resign which is basically the same thing).  I’ve had to leave several jobs because of my health and I can’t bear the thought of losing this once.  I love nursing.

So that’s my fear.  But there is no way I could work tomorrow.  I barely survived today I was in so much pain.  I know some of the facilitators at work (the people who I was supposed to do my assessment with in the morning) have been really understanding of missing work days due to genuine ill health, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying that they’ll eventually get sick of it, especially since I’m only part time. And this is the first time I’ve missed something really important.  But all I can do is hope and pray they will be understanding – and I have explained to them why I’m missing work.

At least the one good thing to come out of it is John won’t have to miss work to look after Rose tomorrow (as he was originally going to have to) because he’s out of personal leave and since he gets paid more than me, it’s a bigger blow if he has a day off unpaid compared to if I do.  I know it will be harder than usual when I can barely walk, but the advantage of not going to work is that I can take strong painkillers.  I’m just plain too scared to take them on work days in case I ever make a mistake at work because I don’t want people to blame the painkillers – if I make a mistake it will because I’m tired or stressed – painkillers don’t effect me mentally, but proving that would be difficult so it’s easier to just endure the pain than deal with the potential professional consequences of taking strong painkillers at work.

She’s a good girl though.  She crawls around everywhere super fast so thankfully she won’t need much picking up – which is good because she’s getting to be a heavy little girl now!

Anyway, I guess it’s time for me to try and see if I can sleep tonight.  Not feeling very well  at all (and not just from the pain).  Hopefully I’ll wake up refreshed and in less pain in the morning.  Wishing all my readers a good, restful sleep too.

Struggling tonight

So tonight is a struggle.  Got up super early for a morning shift at work this morning, only to find out I’d written down my roster wrong a month ago and the rest of my roster was out by one day.  So I wasn’t on this morning but I am rostered on Tuesday which presents a huge problem – I have several important medical appointments on Tuesday.  I had considered asking for the day off since they are medical appointments and are urgent and necessary but then I remembered I have an assessment for work booked on Tuesday morning and I won’t get another opportunity to do it for two months and potentially they could fire me for having a delay that long and I don’t want to lose my job.

Just another stressful situation where only I can decide what choice to make but either way, I’ll be the one who suffers.  I don’t mean that in a pessimistic way though – just a realistic way.   It just sucks to be faced with a lose-lose situation.  But I guess we all face them in life from time to time.  All we can do is try to pick the situation with the least loss and hope we have chosen the right one.

It’s not why tonight is a struggle.  I’ve got a lot better at decision making in the last few years – decisions that only effect me I mean – I’m still terrible at making decisions that impact other people.  When a decision only effects me, I might take a while to decide, but afterwards I’m usually pretty at peace with it, even if it was the wrong decision because ultimately, no one else suffers.  I only get anxious when making decisions that could effect my husband or my children or others.  And when I say anxious, I mean VERY anxious.  But whatever I decide, I’m at peace with it.  More than likely I’ll just cancel my appointments on Tuesday because what’s a few more months of extra pain?  It’s better than risking losing my job.

But tonight is a struggle because I’m so tired and run down still.  I am battling a headache and total exhaustion constantly for the last few weeks now.  Not just my normal exhaustion level, but a “flare up” of exhaustion and pain.  I’m really struggling to cope with it.  Particularly when I also can’t seem to sleep.  I don’t think I slept at all last night.  Just tossed and turned all night.  Got a few hours sleep this morning when I went back to bed before it got too unbearably hot (even with airconditioning running at full power) but it feels like the more exhausted I get, the less I’m able to sleep which means I’m even more exhausted – it’s a vicious circle.

Anyway, I’m going to try to get some sleep.  I have another morning shift tomorrow so have to be up bright and early – I’m pretty sure I won’t feel bright, but it’s definitely going to be early.  Wish me luck!