I Think I Can Safely Say That Today Is Over

It’s five years since…you know. I still don’t want to write anything new on the subject. I am just going to crawl into a little ball and hide away today. I was supposed to be in Australia…but the world has gone belly-up. So I am here, on my own, away from my family. I have not had a hug for months. I can’t think about Jack. I have been grumpy with Jack all month, but he knows why.

It is four years since…you know. I was planning on writing a post about this day and how it effects me. But I just could not face it. I will say this though – the past few weeks I have had nightmares and flashbacks. But I have also had so much to look forward to. It’s sent me on a rollercoaster ride emotionally.

How wonderful that four years since…you know…I am with Goldfinch, with a man I love and who makes me feel safe and warm and happy. This is last year’s post, because I could not face writing about it again.

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This is a day I would like to be over before it has started.  Don’t worry, I am fine.  Just finding that my head is full up on memories of this day three years ago.

I had the half-thought that I would be able to breeze through today by doing a twelve-hour shift.  If you are busy and distracted, it sometimes makes it easier to battle any unwanted memory or thought.  However, “the best made plans of mice and men….”  I have ended up at the same hospital as I was admitted to after a security guard found me covered with blood three years ago. I have been through all the first stages of examination and now I am waiting for a CT scan.

royalfreeHow odd to be here today.  Perhaps one of the worst possible places to be on the three-year anniversary of the day I was the victim of a crime.  Of all the gin-joints in all the world…I just happen to end up in this one!  Doesn’t life do funny things to you!!!

I am fine…well, I mean I am fine emotionally.  I guess in a way this is a place I felt safe to an extent three years ago.  I feel very calm at the moment.  My head has been a problem for some time, which is why I have ended up in hospital today.  But I am not even worried about that right now.  My number one aim is to make it through today with a streak of joy rippling through me.  I will not let any memory crush me.

chin-up.pngWe will let the staff here at the hospital worry about my head.  I will look after the emotional stuff.  That’s my responsibility today.  Keeping my chin up.  Believe me – I am on the case!  I am smiling and seeing the silver lining in everything that has happened today!

Today is limited…it is only 24 hours.  It will soon have passed by and I will be fast asleep and ready for a whole new day tomorrow.  The flashbacks will fade into infrequency.  We will smile and laugh and dance and drink champagne and forget this day.  We will be OK.

Since I have been physically placed within a building that floods my mind with memories, I thought I would let myself remember some of the moments that sustained me three years ago.

Just in case you are reading this post and have not seen anything else on my site, I will briefly mention that I endured two years of intense taunting both face to face and through social media.  One night, after seeing the man (my ex-flatmate), who instigated and maintained this campaign of cruel comedy and viscious slander, several times, I felt overwhelmed.  Instead of going straight home one evening (after a meal with friends), I went to  park, at around 10.30pm.

AmbulanceThe next morning I was found by a security guard and bundled into an ambulance.  I choose not to go into detail, but a man, a complete stranger, had carried out crimes against me that night and had left me (they think he thought I was dead) hidden under bushes.

But we are not going to dwell on that man, because it was not him who broke me, it was actually my ex-flatmate.  I have mentioned him in some posts, and I will explain more in future posts.  But for now, it is enough to say, he was angry with me, he said very unkind things, cruel things about me, he spread slanderous lies about me.  I am still desperately hoping for an opportunity to make peace with him, but even after I was attacked, he seems relentlessly cold towards me.  It is unfathomable to me.  However…that is for other posts.

Right now I want to think about this:

latte

There is a Starbucks coffee house just outside the main entrance of the hospital.  On the day I was to be discharged three years ago, I was ready to leave early in the morning, but my consultant wanted to take some more tests, so I had to wait for the results.  He was  being conscientious I know, and he had to be happy in his mind that physically it was safe for me to leave that hospital and go to stay with my family for a while.  He saw how eager I was to escape the ward though.  So, he suggested my sister and I go out and have brunch in one of the many restaurants in this area and then return for the results.  So, we did exactly that.  However, when we went back four hours later, he was nowhere to be seen.  One of his team paged him and he said he would be at least an hour.  Ay ay ay!

starbucks hampsteadItching to be away from the hospital, my sister and I went down to the Starbucks.  No matter what my opinion of super-giant chains, I have never been so content in that Starbucks sipping the first soya cappuccino I had tasted in over two weeks.  It was so comfortable and relaxed.  The music…was just the music I wanted to hear.  Starbucks – you are forgiven for everything – you were my safe happy place for a whole hour.

While we were sitting in Starbucks, I finally had the mental strength to make a plan.  Up to that moment, I had not known how to tell everyone in London that I would be going up north to stay with my family to recover fully.  What am I saying?  I had not told anyone in London that I was in hospital.  That might sound strange.  But let me explain.

text messageI had not had one day off sick in over five years.  However, shortly before I was attacked I had sent a text message to my manager to say I was not feeling well and was doubtful I would be at work.  So during my first 24 hours in hospital, no one was aware of anything unusual having occurred.  My manager and workmates thought I was unwell.  They presumed that when I did not get in touch the next day that I was still ill.  A friend of mine who I used to go running with was apparently a bit cross I had not let her know I was unwell.  My best friend was on holiday and so were my flatmates.

But after I had spent three days in hospital and nobody had heard from me, my workmates and friends started to worry.  I had my phone switched off to save the battery life.  But I knew people would be worrying.  My sister had come down from the North of England to be with.  I only needed one person.  I did not need a fuss.  She was the right person to call.  She stayed calm and collected.  She texted a good friend of mine who was a director at the site where I worked.  He was discreet and swift.  He promised he would not let anyone know what had happened as I could not cope with the thought of hundreds of messages and calls at that point.  He simply informed my manager that I had to go away due to an emergency.  That went a long way towards dampening the natural curiosity of everyone who had wondered why I had suddenly disappeared.

cry like babyHe wanted to come and see me at hospital, but I asked him not to come.  I was overwhelmed at the time and did not want him to see me as a blubbering wreck.

On the day that I was discharged I was hoping to escape London as soon as possible, but while we were in Starbucks, I suddenly realized it was right to see my friend who was also a director before I vanished.  We called him from Starbucks and said that if my consultant was happy with my test results, we were hoping to drive back up to the north of England that night.  He changed his plans to be able to see me before I left.  The consultant agreed for me to travel and had initiated my care as an outpatient being transferred to a hospital up north.

We met my friend (the director) in a carpark of a shopping centre.  It was easier to talk in the car rather than inside a café.  How do you tell a man what has happened to you?  For some reason, it is easier to tell a woman.  I didn’t have to tell him.  He had guessed.  I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to pass on words of encouragement that imparted power to me.  Most importantly, he reassured me that I could leave everything to him.

He came through for me…everything he said he would do, he did.

ct scanI am back at my little abode.  I had my CT scan.  I am not in any imminent danger.  But there are unusual swellings that they cannot explain.  That is exactly what they said after my last CT scan.  The pain is a problem of course.  But pain is a common issue.  How many people are walking around with physical pain – for which they can just throw pain killers at you until there is actually an obvious cause that they can do something about (ie. Surgery or some other treatment).  I try to grin and bear pain as I don’t like the thought of being dependant on pain killers.

After I left hospital, I went to the Starbucks near the main entrance.  I sat there and sipped a soya cappuccino.  Something happened that was kind of nice and yet not so nice.  A girl called Suzie appeared.  I know Suzie.  She was a good friend and I worked with her for several years.  Suzie often came around to our flat because she was very close to one of my flatmates (my flatmate was also named Suzie).  When my flatmate was married, Suzie was one of the bridesmaids.  I knew Suzie worked at the hospital at the time I was admitted three years ago, but I am pretty sure she is still there after seeing her today.  As soon as I saw Suzie today, my heart leapt with that lovely feeling of recognizing a friend with whom you have shared so many happy hours.  I waved at her and said, “Hi Suzie!”

But here is the not so nice bit, Suzie was not sure who I was.  Even when I told her my name, she seemed to struggle to remember me.  I had to prompt her several times until it finally dawned on her who I was.  She asked where I have been.  She asked if I am married now.  She asked if I was still with him.  I asked her who she meant.  She looked awkward.  I know who she meant.

cyberbullyBefore the night I was attacked, my ex-flatmate had been spreading rumours using social media in particular,, that I was having an affair with a married man.  This was absolutely untrue and damaged not only my reputation but that of a well-respected man.  I worked with this man’s wife, who was also distraught at the rumours.  Her reaction to me today confirmed to me that there are scores of my friends who do not know I was attacked in a park and left London to recover.  Many think I left in shame after an affair with a married man.

Aaaaaah….so I am ending this day with a mixed bag of emotions in all honesty.  Maybe you can imagine some of my feelings.  But it makes me realize the challenges I have ahead.  Before I go home to my life and career and flat…I need to be prepared to face a situation that three years ago I was unable to deal with.  My ex-flatmate made people think I was something that I was not and I am not.  I am going to have to make sure I am not overly sensitive about the damage he has caused.  I must be myself, and if people choose to believe something that is not true – more fool them I guess.

Some of my friends here, especially male friends think I should be tougher.  They think that my ex-flatmate and everyone else who taunted me are complete “losers”.  Even Goldfinch thinks I should not let what happened get to me.  But I am a softie, I have ended up inheriting my mother’s loveliness.  If someone picks a fight with me, I will just walk away, wondering why they would want to fight with me when I only think lovely thoughts towards others.

social media postingIt took me a long time to admit it…but I can see why others have claimed I was bullied and that I was the victim of something known as  “Cyber-bullying”.  When my family members later realized what I had been putting up with they explained to me what a troll was and what cyber-bullying was. At the time, I was trying to laugh it off and pretend it was not getting to me.  But that was not at all the case.  It was getting to me.  How did I feel about a workmate screaming at me because she thought there was a link between her husband and I?  How did I feel being taunted over my ex-flatmate by hundreds of people, many of whom I barely knew?  How did I feel when even my closest friends seemed to be suspicious of me asking me if there was something I was hiding?  Yes there was something I was hiding…I HAD HAD ENOUGH!  I WANTED IT TO STOP!

There is the possibility that it will get to me, that someone has spread lies about me and people I thought were my good friends seem to have believed him.  My sudden vanishing from London may have contributed to that.  But I did not want to share what happened to me in the park that night with all of my friends.  If in the future, I feel isolated emotionally like I did back then, this time I must turn to people who I can count on.  I must not carry that burden alone.  I must not go to any parks on my own late at night.

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https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/10/13/troll/

The Rough And The Ready

Close-Up, Eye, Eyelashes, See, WomanLast Friday I was struggling. I was on edge all day. On the verge of panic. Unable to cope with all the multi-tasking I have to do at work. I became tearful at work when I thought of weeks more of this intense pace stretching out in front of us, without the chance to break away and go and visit Goldfinch in Australia. I wanted to run. I didn’t know who from or why. But I wanted to escape.

This is how I felt five years ago. I was cornered. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know who was safe, who I could trust. Friends and colleague were talking about me and Jack. I had no idea exactly who was saying what, except for those who blazenly taunted me to my face. Every aspect of my life was touched by the slanderous gossip, name-calling, accusations, undermining of me as a person and my sincerity or integrity.

Ambulance, Wear, Interior ViewYou know where it led me. I went to a park after a night out with friends because I did not want to go home. I was the victim of a crime that night and woke up the next morning in an ambulance.

But around a month before that night, I remember a small incident. I escaped my part of London and travelled to the other side of London for a social event. My sister Milly was there. I met some new people who had been working with her on a project. There were some deaf volunteers there too. Milly and I both learnt British Sign Language when we were teenagers.

I remember saying goodbye to Milly and her husband when they dropped me off at the train station. Somebody had given me a gift. Two bottles of wine, one red and one white, I recall. As I walked towards the train, the gift bag gave way and the wine bottle smashed on the concrete floor. There were glass and wine everywhere.

fdshhgdhsvMy main concern was that glass was a hazard to other people. I searched for a member of staff asking if they had any cleaning equipment to clear the glass. I would have done it myself. I asked if they had a hazard sign or cone or tape, to warn other people. The station employee said just to leave it and they would sort it out. I was so anxious. It was my fault. It was my fault there was dangerous glass on the station floor. It was hazardous to other members of the public. I wanted to fix it. I stood rooted to the spot, determined to be a warning to other people that there was broken glass and they must be careful. I became unreasonably emotional and ended up in tears.

It wasn’t really the glass that was upsetting me. It was the situation in my personal life that was overwhelming and was completely taking all the joy out of life. The effects of tiredness and stress can accumulate. If you become isolated with a challenge and do not know who to trust you can become desperate in your thinking. Its as if you are cornered, they are coming at you from all directions, you want to escape. I wanted to fix it. I was ready to accept some responsibility for the situation between Jack and I. But the relationship between us was so strained back then…he would not speak to me.

annie disappointedSo, when the wine bottles smashed, I just fell apart. You know the expression “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. I was in a flood of tears. I didn’t know what to do. A guy came over to ask if I was alright. When I explained I had dropped the bottles and now there was broken glass all over the floor, he responded by kicking the glass to the side of the wall (so it was less hazardous I suppose) and telling me not to worry, accidents happen.

Well…last week, those feelings were coming back. Every summer since I was attacked I have a rough few weeks. I have flashbacks of events from that night. But I also seem to relive all the stress and anguish that led me to go to the park that night. I had wondered if having made peace with Jack things might be different this year. They don’t seem to be. I am having waves of panic, sleepless nights, dreams recalling some of the most stressful situations I was in five years ago, those same feelings of being cornered, under attack, needing to escape.

I actually think I might be having a worse time so far this year. Perhaps that is because I am cut off from friends and family socially. Perhaps the accrual of tiredness because of work has made it hard. Normally my life is graced with variety. I am involved in different work, different projects, I work with different people, in different locations. The past few months have been the same…every day the same. The feeling of wanting to escape is growing.

Fear, Woman, StopAt the end of this month it will be five years since that night. It is still the night that took me away from my chosen career, my chosen home, my world, my purpose. It is still the night that left me with severe injuries, blackouts, headaches, nightmares and fear of whom I could trust.

People say such silly things. Someone said to me again the other day “everything happens for a reason”. If only I could sent fire to that expression. Do people think about what they are saying? It was also recommended to me that I focus on the positive and what I can do to help others. Yes yes, I know that having experienced a traumatic event myself and gone on to do marvellous things, I may be able to be of assistance, inspiration, a source of practical advice to someone else. I do realize that we learn things when we go through challenging experiences and we can develop precious qualities and we may be able to help others. But really!

The truth is my life has been like broken glass ever since that night. My life is in pieces. But I am a positive person and I do make the most of my situation. I keep going. I keep smiling. I keep singing.

Hooded Man, Mystery, Scary, Hood, HorrorBut still…it’s back again. The waves of panic, feeling cornered, feeling overpowered, under attack, nowhere to run to, noone to turn to, nobody to trust…it comes back. I ended up on my own at that park because for so long I had put a brave face on, I had kept going, kept working, kept smiling and kept singing until I shattered like broken glass.

The brain is powerful. The things that cause flashbacks are varied…the smell of grass, the smell of men, the warm weather, feeling dehydrated, feeling there are excessive demands on me.

When I was on my way home after work last Friday night there was a man walking towards me. He was carrying a grocery bag. As I neared him, his bag burst open and glass bottles of beer smashed onto the road and beer began running down the hill. It took my brain back to that night I dropped the wine bottles at the station just a few weeks before I was attacked.

I watched the guy. He shrugged and laughed and carried on walking.

jhvbdkjxhfbIs that what people want me to do I wonder? Shrug, laugh and carry on. These past couple of weeks have made me realize that despite it being five years, despite being busy, despite having the longed for peace with Jack, despite so much else that has happened on a positive note…the memories of despair and the memories of trauma are still there. They leap out at me from the shadows of my mind.

I think I am in for a rough few weeks.