Thursday, November 30, 2017

Same Roads, Different Journey



So, it has been a few months since I started seeing my new boyfriend, and some healing can only be done through facing the same scenarios. The lessons have been non-stop. I'm seeing disturbing behavioural patterns from myself:
I'm always apologizing, especially for being anxious or sad.
I constantly check-in to make sure that my stating that I want to do something, does not feel like pressure /manipulation to him.
I make jokes about him texting other women he's interested in when he puts away his phone quickly as I walk in the room (I also tell him joking about it is my way of getting reassurance that he is not, in fact, lining up another woman/cheating).
I anticipate conflict constantly, in my mind I am always preparing a defence for all of my actions/choices.
I don't expect him to ever go out of his way to do anything for me that doesn't also benefit him at the same time. In fact, it's a shock to me every time he offers to (I actually fought back tears when he offered to get me a glass of water after I had a nightmare, when he himself wasn't thirsty).

All of these behaviours and fears have been completely unnecessary and unfounded thus far.

The biggest learning experiences have been through travelling with him.

We planned a trip to Kingston together.  The day before, I started having anxiety attacks every time I thought of being in the car with him for so long.  Being stuck in an enclosed space with a male for 4 hours...
After practising my breathing and reassuring myself he was not going to get defensive and angry when I explained to him how I felt, I texted him about my anxiety. I wrote about how I will feel like I am at his mercy, my safety will be in his hands and that I was acutely aware that he could drive off and leave me anywhere if he got angry with me, not that I thought he would, but that, that fear had legit roots in my past. His answer?

I understand.  How can I make this easier for you?

The relief I felt...my shoulders melted and tears poured down my face.  Is this normal? I asked myself. Is this how it's suppose to be?  Should someone simply being a decent human being bring me to tears with gratitude?  I think part of my sobbing was due to the release of fear I had about how he may react to me stating I felt anxious. Still though, I was reminded of what I had become used to.

Our Toronto trip, included a lot of inner city driving and a few wrong turns.  I was so tense.  I cracked a few nervous jokes, tried to offer suggestions. My stomach was in a vice.  When we got back on the highway, I apologized for being so anxious. He didn't understand why I was apologizing.
"I know I can be hard to drive with, when I get anxious."  I explained. "You know, I'm sure my nervousness made you more nervous"
He looked at me, confused. "You were fine.  The only nervousness I felt was the usual I-hate- driving-in-Toronto nervousness"
"Really?" I was shocked. "I thought I was awful to drive with."
He grabbed my hand, looked over at me and said:
"Not only are you not awful to drive with, I really enjoy driving with you."
Another layer of disillusionment fell.  How long had I believed this about myself? My insecurity that he would drive with me and see that I was horrible to travel with, disappeared.  At first I was relieved, then anger crept in, I had allowed myself to believe this so completely. I had defined myself by someone else's negative opinion.  Ugh.  I felt stupid and impressionable. I felt weak and easily manipulated.  Then I allowed it to reassure me, no matter what I had been told, I wasn't a hard person to be around, and if I was lied to about this, then I was probably lied to about many things.

Here's the thing though, There's a voice in my head, that has morphed into my own and it's saying: I'm just on my best behaviour because we are new and in a year I'm going to become an anxiety-filled, manipulative bitch.  My toxic behaviour and over-sensitivity is going to make him resent me.  It's going to make him justifiably angry with me, but he's going to feel stuck with me, because I made him feel like he needed me.

That voice haunts me less and less.  But I can't pretend it has no affect on me.  They say that narcissists convince their partners that they are the narcissistic ones. I really hope that I'm not the narcissist, that I wasn't those things I've been accused of being.  I'm petrified one day I'm going to get comfortable in the relationship and become a monster to this amazing man.

I'm desperately awaiting the day when I'm not acutely self-conscious of everything I say and do and how it could be selfish or manipulative.

I want to trust that I am a good person again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trigger Warning: Me Too

I thought I had this #MeToo thing down.  By that, I mean, I thought that it wouldn't get to me.  I thought, I have openly admitted to being sexually assaulted in the past on social media, what will be different about it this time?

For the first 24 hours, I was fine.  A bit saddened to see so many of my friends have also experienced this, but not surprised.  I was annoyed by the odd MRA douche canoe who tried to make it men vs women
...once again, not surprised.

However, at one point I did break down.  Someone I knew had the same abuser as me posted #MeToo.  I broke into tears, because it stopped being a social media awareness action. I had been emotionally detached because I had no idea how my friends were assaulted, just that they were and they were brave for sharing.

Shit got real.  Empathy, not the kind you strive for, but the kind that smacks you in the face and leaves you dumbstruck, that's what I felt.  Because I knew very much how she felt when it happened.
This, of course, opened the floodgates for more unintentional empathy.  I am usually quite good at keeping emotional distance in high stress situations, but not now. Not that the real truth of it came rushing in. Understanding someone's emotions is a whole other creature from feeling them.  I'm not sure how much time I am going to spend looking at my feed over the next few days.

To all the victims being triggered right now:
-You are not weak for feeling awful or triggered.
-You are brave wether you post #MeToo or not.
-Take care of yourselves in the way you see fit.

To those who aren't victims, but want to support your friends that are victims:
-If you want to comment: validate, don't question.
-avoid victim blaming, this includes posting you haven't been assaulted and why you think that is.
-Tell the MRA bastards that are trolling your vulnerable friends to "fuck off."

This is all I got right now.  I'm done for the evening.  I'm going to cuddle up with a book and live in another world for awhile.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

I Should Be Sleeping

I should be sleeping.  I got a cold from my... boyfriend.  So strange writing those words, stranger saying them.  Cuteness aside, this has been a very challenging time for me.

Some healing can't truly be done until you are back in the same situation, but with a positive outcome instead.  That doesn't mean that, that situation isn't going to feel scary as hell when it happens.  It also doesn't mean that magically you are going to heal afterwards either. You have to make the effort through the fear to listen to yourself, to communicate with your new partner and to see it to the end.

So that's what I've been doing. Communicating. When a triggering situation is foreseeable I warn him of how I may feel and act.  I give him ways to support me and things to avoid doing that will make it worse. He listens, he tries.  He restores my faith.

So even though I've got this happy I'm-in-a-new-relationship vibe going on, there's an underside of anxiety and it's more like skipping through an emotional minefield than a meadow.

Every once in a while, after a particularly triggering situation, when I need reassurance that I am worth all this stupid: can't breath, can't talk, shaking uncontrollably, bullshit.  He reassures me.  He makes me feel safe and cared for.

I am not broken beyond wanting.

Not only am I still desirable, I'm desired by a great guy.  One I wasn't even sure if I deserved and waited months before I got the guts to ask him out.

So here's to the next chapter of healing through experience. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I Have No Friends, and Other Heartbreaking Things You Never Want To Hear Your Child Say

I had a heart wrenching talk with my daughter, she was afraid to go back to school because she didn't think she had any friends there (insert that horrible feeling of not being able to save your kids from heart ache). She gathered this because the year books had a place to write down the names of your friends and no one wrote her name (not everyone filled it out). I'm also fuzzy on how she saw everyone's year books, but I digress.  She was in tears and ashamed.  She has been excluded by a bullying girl, there's no denying that.  However, she can also be terribly shy.

 I acknowledged that feeling of being left out is awful, and that it's hard to make new friends when everyone else already knows each other. I told her about my experience moving schools.
I'm a stop worrying about it and start fixing it kind of person, so together we went over the names of the girls she has talked about doing stuff with at school.
"What about so and so?  Don't you draw pictures together?"
"Yes."
"She's not your friend?" I asked.
My daughter shrugged. "She likes my art, she showed me how to draw a fox."
"That's her way of trying to find things in common to share with you, that's how friendships start."
"Oh." Honestly sounding surprised.
"That's how my friendship with Kyle, Kelden, and Beth started, but we weren't close right away. We shared music together and then found out we had other things in common and it built from there.  It took just over a year and we all put in effort. So enjoy art with her, ask her about other things she likes.  Some friendships take awhile to build, but that's okay because they usually end up being good ones."
She nodded and snuggled more into me, I could tell more reassurance was needed:
"What about that other girl, the one you email?"
"Oh, we lost touch this Summer."
"So why don't you email her tomorrow and ask how her Summer was?"
"Yeah, I guess I could do that." Her voice sounding a bit lighter.
"Do you have guys you hang out with at school?"
"Yeah, ______ and _______." She laughed. "They are trouble makers."
"Are they mean?"
"No, they just sometimes cause trouble for the teachers."
"Well as long as you don't join in, in the classroom, you could make friends with them. Sounds to me like there are people who want to be your friends, but maybe you aren't letting them in because you
are shy."
"Yeah, maybe."
(I have seen several kids approach my daughter on the street and say "Hi." My daughter quietly says it back then steps away.) I could tell that it wasn't from a lack of interest that she wasn't making close connections. She has a hard time interacting at first, she needs to ease into it.
"Truth be told," I started. "I've been the popular girl in a big group of friends, but many of us weren't really friends, we weren't always nice to one another and I kinda wished that I was in that smaller group of friends, because they seemed to care about and support one another.  Find people or who want to put time and energy into you, the ones who care about your feelings, and do the same for them. Those are the good friendships."
"Okay." She smiled.
"You think you can sleep now?"
"Yep."
"Good night, sweetie."

The kids in the homeschool community were always so inclusive. They were taught to be by their parents.  My daughter could be her shy self at first and still be invited to play in a game, sit in a group etc. Public school is such a culture shock, where many of the kids are guarded and clique. However, this will teach her how to make friends in new cities and workplaces.  I hope she will come talk to me some more about it, friendship is so important.  Luckily, she still has a really good friend from the homeschooling community that lives up the street. So she won't miss out on having girl talk.

Now, I've written that.  I need to compartmentalize and not take my daughter's feelings to bed with me.  Which is hard.  However, if I take on her feelings, she won't come to me anymore because she doesn't want to make me feel bad.  She is a very compassionate little girl, perhaps even empathetic to a fault.  She has such a kind, sensitive, heart, I'd like her to be able to keep it that way.



Friday, August 18, 2017

Run

It's okay to just fucking panic
and jump ship.
I can skip
The calming meditation that will help me make the clearer choice.
I can listen to that fear,
Like a loving voice
A fear built from the repercussions of meditating
For years
 ...And years
when I should have been running.
It's not a sign of weakness
It's an alarm system
Interjecting
Reminding me
That I am worth
Protecting.
It's two loving, strong hands
Gripping my shoulders
Two eyes staring into
Mind
Shaking me awake
Get out now...
Don't wait this time.












Wednesday, August 9, 2017

All The Posts I Do Not Write

This last month or so has been rough,
 Really rough.

It has also been enlightening.

I see now that I am still living under the threats of another person.
I'm not quite sure how I am going to deal with this person yet,
or shift my perspective to make them powerless over me...
But at least I am aware of it.

My child support has been cut in half so I'm fucking broke,
Which means I'm working way more hours,
Which has me spending less time with my kids,
Which makes me fear this threat even more.

Not to mention the mother guilt.

I started dating again, so naturally, the nightmares started again too.

I saw him. My knees buckled, my throat tightened and my hands shook.
I was a wreck for the next three days.

I'm brittle and cracking a little,
But a wise man once said,
That's how the light gets in

I looked in the mirror and I saw a beautiful woman.

I looked in the mirror and I saw my mother.

I miss my friends.
I have friends I love enough to miss.

There is light at the end of the financial tunnel.
5 more weeks.

I am learning that not all problems need to be faced head on.
That there are gentler ways.

Lying can be okay.
Black and white and grey.
It's all in the tone.

I almost cried at work,
Pricing books I read to my toddlers,
When the future looked so different
And I always thought I'd keep them safe.









Thursday, July 6, 2017

Small Things

When I moved to the shelter, I was petrified.  I couldn't believe what I was doing or where I would end up next. I was so full of adrenalin coffee was not an option.  But it was in the little graces, I found peace.

I picked up a book and read it at night, for as long as I wanted, with no interruptions and no comments from anyone about it.  I did this nightly and it reminded me how small freedoms added up.

I bought myself flowers, flowers I liked and for no other reason than they make me feel good.  Too often flowers and the like were given as apologies and served as reminders of unpleasant situations.  I wanted to break that pattern. So I did, they smelled wonderful, I brought them into every room I planned on spending time in. I put them on the night stand in the evening and while reading paused to smell them.

I brought my kids into bed with me.  We all needed a bit more love and security and the bed didn't seem empty and lonely anymore.  It was an interesting metaphor for how much more space and energy I would have in my life for them now that I was no longer trying to make it work with my ex.

I cleaned and organized things at my own pace in a manner that suited me.  I savoured the fact that I need not consult anyone else about where my possessions would be placed.  My space would be MINE.

I crocheted myself a beautiful skirt.  I deserved something beautiful, I also needed something to keep my hands busy.  It was a bit meditative which calmed my nerves, but it also served as something new, that my ex had never seen or touched.  My time and energy once again was focussed on something for me only.

I wrote. I wrote. I wrote. No one interrupted me because they understood how important writing was to me.  I wrote for up to a whole hour at a time.  It was bliss.

I ate cheesecake. Good cheesecake.  I savoured the silence of the evening in which I ate it, pure undemanding silence that no one was going to break.

I reduced my presence on social media, blocked my ex, unfollowed his family members and close mutual friends.  This was more for stress reduction, not necessarily because they had done anything wrong.  I just needed a break from all things him.

I'd like to say it was a clean break, but it wasn't.  We were on and off for 2 months after I moved to the shelter.  However, it was focussing on these small freedoms (and the realization that these basic acts had become luxuries to me over the last 4 years) that had me ending the relationship for the last and final time.

So, why blog about this now? It's been two years.  I tried having a relationship one year later, but it was too soon and I talked myself out of it.  I have blundered my way through a couple dates here and there.  Practised full abstinence (not even lustful thoughts allowed) for 3 months, mistook an awesome friendship for a possible relationship and have since happily realized we are way better together as friends than as romantic partners.  There's potential out there for something.  I'm not quite sure what, but something.  I want to be able to make decisions about relationships and not panic and bolt.  That said, I want to be cautious as well.  In order not to let your fears rule you, you must first know your fears.

I fear giving up my ability to read, write, create, clean and set up my space as I wish, when I wish.  I fear that I will allow another person to dictate what I can spend my time, energy and money on.

Reading those last two sentences, I can tell that it's not that I don't trust men, it's that I don't trust
myself.  I associated falling in love with giving up freedom.

However, after two years of living on my own and these luxuries becoming daily routines, I can't see myself giving them up easily for anyone or staying with anyone who would make these things
 inconvenient for me.

I have discovered that love can exist without any power or control, that neither person needs to possess the other or demand attention/time/energy  in order to feel love.

Love is a feeling that you have for another person, not the feeling of the other person loving you.

I think I finally understand this.  I can love someone without changing them or myself.  I can still feel love even without their  support and attention reaffirming their feelings for me.  I can enjoy the love for another even if the relationship doesn't suit me.  My feeling of love is non-dependant on the other person's actions,  as such, I can adjust my relationship with them according to my own level of comfort and independence.  Love is not defined by the relationship, or the degree of seriousness of said relationship.

Love doesn't hurt, the need to be loved by someone does.

I'm sitting in bed with my Harry Potter book beside me, my mister noodles mug on the floor.  My room is messy and no one is going to get on my case about it.  I've  been writing for over an hour and I'm going to sleep in tomorrow. I like living this way. I see now that my heart is not going to put any
of this in jepardy.