Tag Archives: trauma

Here We Go Again

Last night…I had what I suppose one would call a flashback.

Oh dearie. How can it be that like clockwork, the brain starts to recall the traumatic event that it knows was so so so so wrong, so awful, so dreadful, so terrifying…and it starts to play it all back in vivid detail?

Photo by Tobi on Pexels.com

The heat, the scent of grass, feeling thirsty, darkness, weakness, animals screeching…the brain connects these and sends me back, right back to that night.

Smashing And Shattering My Nerves

Breathe. It is now around the middle of July. Breathe. Memories are fading. Peace and calm are being restored. But this year has been tough. On the day…the very day…that marked six years since I was attacked, something happened. It might sound silly….but it caused a wave of panic and terror to wash over me.

Girl, Lady, Woman, Madame, Model, Thin

A bottle of red wine smashed on the floor next to me and I had glass and red wine all over my feet and ankles. It brought back vivid recollections. I have already written about how smashing glass bottles has sometimes shaken me. So for now, I am going to copy and paste from a passage from a post I published a couple of years ago.

You know…you don’t have to read this stuff…I just find it helpful to have a little place to write about what is going on in my mind and heart. Well, in this case, what was happening to me two-three weeks ago. Right now…peace has returned. I am ok.

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.

fdshhgdhsv

My 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 disappointed

So, 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.

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.

Hiding The Bruises

incognitoI am alright now, (I think) but for a long time the situation with my ex-flatmate Jack kept my nerves on a knife-edge. I know there are some people who make a career out of being the subject of idle gossip for others, but that has never been something I wanted for myself.

Even when I was living with Jack, the rumours about the two of us were so upsetting, I tried to leave the flat earlier than anyone else and arrive home in the dark. I was sneaking in and out of my own home, to escape the attention of whoever it was who kept these shocking rumours breeding.

When I returned to London, after almost a year of resting and recovering from the physical injuries I had sustained the night I was assaulted (and then…being left for dead underneath some bushes) I was pretty nervous.

Although my physical injuries were healing up nicely, I was deeply self-conscious in so many ways. I was very nervous around men. I was very aware of my head! I felt secure with a hat on, or a bandana or scarf in the summer. I found London overwhelming. I felt very lost at times. I found bright lights gave me severe headaches. I always wore sunglasses out of doors. The first six months, I was hiding myself with hats, headscarves and sunglasses

But what I found effected me most deeply was gossip. I saw friends and colleagues. They were confused about why I had disappeared for a year. Many of them thought I had left in disgrace. Just before I had been attacked, there were rumours that I was involved with a married man. I don’t really feel like writing about that today, but I will at some point. There are already a couple of posts where I have touched on it already:

embarrassedBut it has taken a long time to be able to battle the anxiety that other people, people I admire and respect, think terrible things of me. That realization has made me pretty dismal at times.

I could have caused trouble for Jack. I did not want to do that. I could have talked about being assaulted (I find it really difficult to use the R word still) and beaten up. But you know, I really did not want to. If I started talking about it, I would have been asked a thousand questions by people that I was not ready to answer. So instead I let them think whatever they wanted to think.

As far as many of them are concerned, I was acting strangely, sneaking in and out of my own home at unusual hours, becoming cagey and defensive and emotional…and then I disappeared for a year. I returned to London wearing hats and sunglasses (with style!) and not answering questions openly.

I am a lot more settled than I was then, more relaxed about everything, and my friends are more relaxed. They all seem genuinely glad to have me around and everyone is very polite about what has happened in the past. Some of my very close friends know a lot more about what happened of course, and when I need someone to talk to they are wonderful. But on the whole, everyone has been so incredibly discreet about what happened to me, which I am extremely grateful for.

But there is a kind of loneliness that comes with having a big secret that you hide. I hide all the details of what went on between Jack and I. I hide all the details about what happened to me in the park. People know not to push me with too many questions because I will leave.

Aaaaah!

Well…I have said enough for today. It takes it out of me thinking about things that I don’t want to think about! So, to end this post I wanted to share a song that I fell in love with, mainly because I have become such a huge fan of the voice of Kristina Train. But I liked the song too…it does touch me in my situation. I have put two versions for you just in case you prefer the acoustic version. I like both actually.

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/daily-writing-challenge-nov-27/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/dismal/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/your-daily-word-prompt-lost-november-27-2018/

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/11/27/fowc-with-fandango-leave/

I’m Having A Rest

I wrote this post a year ago…xx

dflsldhadfhaIt’s hard to explain the effect of the last few weeks. If you have experienced how PTSD can play a cruel game of “cat and mouse” with you, goading you, teasing and tormenting, trying to find the fragile cracks in the rebuilt you…then you perhaps don’t need my attempt to explain it.

The inside of my chest feels sore because so many times during the past month, I have woken up, or experienced in the daylight, a horrible fear, a chilling flashback, and devastating memories and emotions that want to make me crumble again. My chest hurts after the stress levels of the past month have soared.

Anyway….I am going to have a rest over the next few days. I have some time off work, and I need to rest up and recover from the damage that stress has caused. I am still not 100% sure how I will spend all of my time off. Today, I have gone walkabout, but without knowing where there are public toilets that are open, I can imagine I won’t be able to go too far. I don’t want to be tied to a plan over these few days. I want to feel free. Freedom is part of what helps me to feel better.

lsdihgshgsg

I just want to let you know, I have scheduled some of my older posts to be republished over the next few days. They are posts from the past. They are not current. I mention this because I think I sometimes have confused people when I have done this before.

Most of you will know me and Jack are together now, as a couple. It still astonishes me at times that things have worked out for us. So things have changed dramatically since I wrote a lot of these posts. Jack has read these posts and we have discussed what I wrote a lot.

fdsgbfsghshHe and I are in a good place. I am looking forward to seeing him soon…after his fourteen day quarantine is over. But the two of us have challenges ahead. There is still an oppressive question mark hanging over the future. Right now…I personally feel neither of us need to feel pressured into any big decisions. We should be allowed to enjoy being together at long last, and I am every reluctant to let anyone else scrutinise us. To be in the life we want to lead together, there would be a lot of scrutiny – I am not ready for that.

So right now…we are not making plans…we just talk about possibilities in the future. All sorts of possibilities. We will have to wait and see. But we seem to be living at a time when making plans is much harder than it used to be.

Right….anyway….ciao for now – I am having a rest – just don’t be anxious about me when you see my older posts appearing. I have recovered so much peace since Jack and I ended our silence and ended up together.

The Anger Is Lurking

It’s that time of year again. Perhaps to someone who has never been through a life-changing trauma, it is hard to understand the need to let out the hurt inside once in a while. But others will know that if you don’t let that hurt out, you start to become erratic and agitated and scary!!!

I think a number of you know what my life-changing traumatic experience involved. Others perhaps have no idea what I am referring to. Well….it is now six years ago – six whole years since I was the victim of a terrible crime. Strangely perhaps, I found it not too difficult to process what had happened, and to box it up and put it on the top shelf where I did not think about it very often. There were a lot of other stressful factors that have been a lot harder to deal with, but making peace with Jack has healed so many of the wounds that came before the night I went to a park on my own….the location where I was later attacked.

But even though I rarely think of what happened to me that night, around this time of year, the reminders start pouring in. The hot weather, the smell of grass, Italian food, animals screeching in the night…they seem to be like little triggers (doh – was trying not to use that word!)…ok like little distortions in subspace that send me through a wormhole right back to that night.

How else do you describe a “flashback”? (Another word I was trying to avoid!) The recollection is so real, so terrifyingly real, that I really feel as if I am right there, and it is happening in the present. It is such a powerful phenomenon and it is unpredictable and deeply disturbing. The brain can do some bizarre things.

Brain, Glowing, Lights, Mind, Creativity

I woke up on Sunday night full of anger. I am not a person who gets angry. But the memory of what was done to me….I was enraged. Jack is away at the moment. He knows this time of year is tough for me. He has been sending me lots of messages and emails with photos of his trip. I am so grateful to have his love. As I mentioned earlier…it has resulted in enormous healing.

Yet…even though my life is now blessed beyond all of my expectations…I find that I need to take the box off the shelf, and have my tears and let the pain out. Every year someone seems to become distressed that I can be sad. I find that odd. Hey…being sad when you have a good reason is ok!! Even Jesus was sad at times! It is ok for Melody to be sad because of the painful memories.

This is a time of year that will pass. The memories will fade. The box will be sealed tight again and it will go back up onto the top shelf, where I will forget all about it. So if you recognize my posts and know you have read them before….please feel free to skip them. If you have not seen them before…please don’t get your knickers in a twist about them. I am just letting myself grieve. I am allowed my tears, my sadness, my anger for these few days as the memories flood over me. I don’t want to write anything fresh. I don’t really have more to say about what happened. I just need to mark it as a calamity, an injustice, a crime that robbed me of so much.

Woman, Meadow, Sunset, Silhouette, Sky

And…it is ok! I am ok. I am more than ok in fact! I am getting married to the man who was the pivotal reason why I was overcome with despair and foolishly allowed myself to abandon my senses in the night on my own. I am living my happy ending every day…and so much healing has been accomplished, so much joy has been regained. But if I don’t let myself have a few tears…I will go crazy!

Fickle! Me?

Woman, Portrait, Lovely, Fashion, LuxuryMy emotions have been more temperamental than is normal this past month. I know why. Perhaps you know why, it depends on whether you have had the patience to read any of my longer posts. But adding to the challenges this month (I have had a lot of flashbacks to the night I was attacked and the events leading up to that night) seems to bring, is the accumulative effect of tiredness over these past months. Working at least six days a week is wearing me out. But I have a little time off ahead of me.

dfhagifaWhat I will do on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday has been a question for a while. I have lots of options. But I have been reluctant to commit myself to anything…because I don’t want to feel tied down to anything. I want to wake up when I feel ready, and do whatever I feel like, without feeling obligated to keep a promise to someone.

I have chatted to a friend of mine roughly once a week for the past few months, and today she said I was fickle. I asked her what she meant. She laughed and said it was frustrating to her that I kept changing my mind.

Apparently, from week to week I have said things like, “I just don’t want to be alone during those days,”…then a week later, “I think I just need some time on my own,”…then a week later, “I’ll go crazy if I am all on my own with these intense thoughts and feelings,”…and then, “I just need to sleep and shut out conversations and chit chat about the virus and the economy and everything exhausting”.

Woman, Watch, Girl, Lady, Clock, JewelryAt some point I told her, “I have lots of plans to keep myself busy, sorting out clothes and books, cleaning out the insides of all my cupboards and drawers, and giving everything a really good clean.” When my friend reminded me I had suggested I would do lots of spring-cleaning, apparently I replied, “I don’t want to be stuck indoors, I want to be out walking in the fresh air.” Yet on one occasion I told her that though I love walking, “I’m not sure walking on my own is good for me, because if I am downhearted I end up sobbing while I walk.

Even this week, when I found out Jack was coming home, I said, “I am going to go up to see him and sit outside on the grass while he obeys the 14-day quarantine and sits out on his balcony”. Later I thought that was not wise, and I told her today, “It’s not a good idea for me to go near the place I was attacked.”

dsfafadgafMy poor friend!!! Can you imagine how confused she is listening to me? I love her so much! I hate it when she tries to give me advice – it is always terrible advice – full of cringe-worthy cliches. But she is a very lovely friend nonetheless, and I love that the two of us always find things to laugh about (we have both had some painful challenges to deal with). We are looking forward to meeting up for a coffee at some point. She’s in a county outside of London, and I have not used public transport since February. But when it is safe…she is one of the people I am longing to see.

Anyway…as soon as she said I was fickle…I could not help think of Rigoletto…but as you all know, “it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind!!!”

Woman is fickle
Like a feather in the wind
She changes her voice and her mind
Always sweet
Pretty face
In tears or in laughter, she is always lying
Always miserable
Is he who trusts her
He who confides in her his unwary heart!
Yet one never feels
Fully happy
Who on that bosom does not drink love
Woman is fickle
Like a feather in the wind
She changes her voice and her mind,
And her mind,
And her mind!

 

Preparing For The Worst Of It

This awful time is looming. I have a couple of days off work – at last and thank goodness! I want to relax and chill. I have decided to do all I can to prepare myself for a pleasant few days – buying foodie treats and some half-price champagne (no tennis to watch this year – except replays but I am not missing out on strawberries and champagne).

I have been putting together a playlist on YouTube with happy songs, not sad songs, and I have a couple of books that always cheer me up at the ready. I am going to chat with everyone who is very close to me. At least Jack is here in England. I have decided I don’t want to travel up there just yet. It will bring me a stone’s throw from where a security guard found my battered body.

Summer, Poolside, Red Hat, Strawberries

Hopefully on my own I will push the awful memories out of my head. One thing that I am struggling with is the heat. The night I was attacked was the hottest day of the year…(and it was hot during the night too) – record breaking hot. I have been waking up repeatedly at night convinced I was lying in the undergrowth on Hampstead Heath – it fills my chest with a traumatic shock and takes me some time to recover from.

 

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.

 

Silver Linings

cliches.pngI think I have mentioned in the past that one of the more annoying things said to me by a counsellor shortly after I was attacked was “every cloud has a silver lining”. I never objected to that phrase before she said it to me. But she used it in the wrong context. Completely the wrong context.

If someone is the victim of a serious crime – cloud – silver lining – these are not welcome advice – at all. Well, that of course is in my own experience. About other less traumatic situations, I don’t object to the notion of silver lined clouds.

Anyway…I was listening to this song the other day. I found it hard to keep up with the lyrics, but I googled them and fell totally in love with the song. I am so grateful that very clever people take the human experience, all the emotions and sensations and highs and lows and turn them into brilliant poetry and songs.

It’s kind of special to capture so much and express it in such a lyrical way. Have a listen…and if you like me, can’t keep up with the pace of the verses, google the lyrics. They nail how it feels to be at the mercy of your emotions.

It Will Be All Over Soon

traumaI mentioned a few weeks ago that this time of year seems to trigger more flashbacks. I have also had some strange dreams about what happened that night. But I have found this year, the biggest effect that these flashbacks etc have had is on my concentration on tasks at work and at home.

People have been telling me things…and their words have gone in through one ear and straight out of the other without registering at all in between. I am forgetting silly little things. I am forgetting how to do things I do regularly and routinely. I am easily confused and sometimes feel lost. I am waking up frequently with the sensation of “where am I?”

memories.jpgThe bruises still hurt. I have felt very unsettled recently, and easily panicked. Lots of things make me shaky, nervous, as if someone is going to attack me either verbally or physically. This coming week is the week. Four years ago this week it all happened. It was as if a monster – and I don’t mean either Jack or the man who attacked me – launched an intense assault at me, and decided to pick up my life and break it into pieces.

enemies.jpgWhat happened to me on the Heath is not Jack’s fault. But for weeks leading up to that night, close friends kept on telling me to try to ride things out and not rock the boat. If I complained about Jack, he would win and I would lose. He had a way of making it look as if this was all my fault, or all in my head. He was so sure of himself, so frustrated with me.

cruel.jpgBut it is not normal to be called a tramp, a slut, and other names by both people you know and strangers. It is not normal to be the subject of false rumours and insults that spread like wildfire, especially because of Jack and all of his fans being obsessed with social media. My being upset about that was entirely normal and natural. Maybe it was no big deal to Jack, but I wanted it to stop. It might not sound a big deal as I am describing it…but it was the intensity – thousands of unsavoury or slanderous comments over that period wore away at my inner core and left me crumbly. I remember being told again and again – Jack is more important than you are. That was not my reason for not complaining about him. My reason was simply that I loved him and I did not want him to suffer any reproach.

angry.pngBut the look of hatred in his eyes whenever he saw me. It made me feel sick. I was keeping quiet for his sake. And the look of hatred in his eyes haunts me. I have said this before…it has been easier for me to overcome the trauma of what happened the night I was attacked, than the intense stress in connection with the situation with Jack. But it’s the memories of what happened that night, the anger and outrage, that make my mind jump to all the repressed emotions during those years of Jack playing games with me.

best boy in the world.jpgLater this week, you may notice that I am re-posting some of the posts I wrote last year, because I couldn’t face churning up my emotions again by writing fresh pieces.  Anyway…I can’t wait for this week to be over really. The last few years it has always been a relief when the intensity of the memories start to fade. I am so glad that this year I am with Goldfinch during the “anniversary” of that night on the Heath. I love Goldfinch to bits…and it is amazing to me how much of a difference it makes to feel safe and secure with someone.