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.

 

Advertisements

I Must Have Tried A Thousand Times

I wanted to write a post about a moment that my sister Mandy was hoping would cheer me up…but it actually had the opposite effect. So, although I am no expert in mental health, I am only describing my own experience, this post describes the emotions I dealt with within the first few weeks after I was attacked. How just a silly little thing can knock you all the way back to Square One, well, it knocked me anyway. I had never been so sensitive and exposed emotionally (and I am glad it did not last long, because frankly it was exhausting!)

nutshells.jpgFor those who don’t know much about the past few years for me…here it is in a very quick nutshell:

Life was pretty perfect…a male friend (Jack) and I seemed to be getting on well, lots of other people took an interest in us and started teasing us, then rumours started, then he moved into the flat I was living in, more rumours, now we were very awkward, more rumours and gossip, then we had a chat…he said he loved me.

Woah! Then we were less awkward, then the rumours and gossip went wild, then I found out he may have been feeding the rumours, then we had a kind of argument, then we became really awkward, then I moved out of the flat, then the rumours became even worse and became nasty, we were more awkward and then were more rumours. Then the rumours changed, gossip spread that I was having an affair with another man, a married man, his wife screamed at me at a very public occasion.

I tried again and again to sort things out with my ex-flatmate, he was very hostile, I started sinking into despair. I went to a park on night because I did not want to see him, a stranger with ill intent was also there that night, the next morning I woke up in an ambulance after a security guard had found me.

Now…if you did not know that had happened, you might not have understood what I am going to describe next..

After I left hospital in London I went up north to stay with family members. At first I was just sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. But when I started to feel I was up to a more normal routine, my sister Mandy was eager to plan activities that would distract me. I appreciate how well meaning she was.

I wanted to show some enthusiasm for her ideas. She wanted to take me to all sorts of places to visit, beautiful parks and gardens, farms, zoos, quaint cafes, all sorts of places. And eventually we did go to some of those places. We went for walks in the countryside and National Trust properties in the North of England.

Those activities did help in some ways, although that was a very strange time for me emotionally. I was not at all myself. Not at all. I remember PTSD being a subject for the counsellors I spent time with. To be honest, I never concerned myself with labels and diagnosis – I just thought I would heed the practical advice I had been given and take one day at a time.

I ended the counsellor appointments after a couple of months because I didn’t think they were helping at all. I might or might not write a post about the counsellor that made me determined that nobody was going to come to see me anymore. He was such an idiot. Honestly, it makes me cross even now to think of how unprofessional he was. What they did do, and I am glad of it, is help me to recognize that I was more traumatised by what they described as bullying (the taunting and rumours that had developed around the relationship with my flatmate for over two years and his hostility when I tried to resolve the misunderstanding between us), than I was the physical attack I had been a victim of.

As Mandy was going through her list of suggestions for days out she decided she would share with me the new album her husband just bought her. She told me enthusiastically how fantastic this singer was and this was her latest album. She selected her favourite song and pressed play and asked me to listen to it.

 

I listened. I looked at her and I think she saw what was happening to me. It was an awful awful feeling of someone else, someone with an amazing voice, singing words that cut your heart to ribbons of pain. She realized that had happened as she saw me break down in heaving wheezing cries of agony. That sent me back to bed for several more days in outbreaks of distraught sobbing.

Poor Mandy. I think she realized that when you have someone who has been through such a traumatic experience – you just can’t introduce intense emotion in any form at first. Well, at least that was my experience – I could not handle those intense emotions. For a while I had to be allowed to be numb. It took me time to be able to deal with emotions again. For some time, I found just busying myself with housework and household laundry and reading information books was all I could do. Exposing myself to emotions came slowly and carefully.

That level of intensity and those powerful lyrics that touched on such a terribly raw nerve completely debilitated me.

It’s funny, because three and a half years later I can actually enjoy that song, (after all it is a beautiful song by an amazing singer) but I remember the first time I heard it – it was totally the wrong time for me!

….Hello Jack!

Hello from the other side!

I must have tried a thousand times….

Caramel Learning To Live Again

I have been working on a new series of posts which I am going to publish next week.

I started writing about a subject I that I have kept suppressed within me for a long time. Not the night I was the victim of a crime, not the year I spent with family recovering from my injuries and the trauma of what had happened – but the six months after that. My first six months back in London.

Let me tell you – they were pretty terrible really. I did not realize how much that was the case at the time. As I have been writing about those six months, I have felt rather horrified at how incredibly vulnerable I was at that time.

I am much stronger now. I pity that woman who was trying to get back on her feet but had some horrible challenges to deal with. I am going to publish some of the experiences I had to deal with. When you read them, you might scratch your head at my reaction to the challenges I faced. But please remember that I am relating to you how an extremely vulnerable me acted – not the me I am now.

The two years before I was attacked (during which I was teased, taunted, shunned, essentially bullied and eventually maliciously slandered) had crushed my self-confidence. The year after I was attacked sheltered me from the world outside and I lost a lot of my ability to deal with challenges. I have been reading back the posts I have completed so far and it really is strange to realize the depth of my vulnerability then. But in some ways – I had to get through that awful achey shaky breaky period to develop some strength again.

Starting with my first job back in London, next week I am going to publish one post a day in the series:

CARAMEL LEARNING TO LIVE AGAIN.

Hiding The Bruises

I 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 looked a bit like the woman in the picture prompt from The Haunted Wordsmith.

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/

FOWC with Fandango — Leave