Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 years in Pictures

Today five years ago, a little ray of sunshine entered the world. Some days he is like a thunder cloud - but most days he is sunshine and joy. Happy Birthday Aston. I love you

Monday, November 28, 2011

Breathing through it

I have been out of sorts since my last post.... initially mentally and then physically.

Early on the Friday morning after connecting with the linkup for Speak Out, I proceeded to read through other peoples posts. As I progressed through each one, my skin started to feel prickly, my heart rate increased, and I became increasingly more agitated. As is usually the case, with out realising until I was right in the middle of it, I had been triggered, and my anxiety was amped.

I had a friend and her children coming for morning tea, and wanted to tidy up before she got here. I walked around the kitchen - quarter completing tasks, and only succeeding in creating more mess as I went and increasing my agitation significantly. By now that breathless feeling I get, dizzy and spacey, had started to descend, and I started to cry.

I stood by the kitchen sink and looked out my window.

The dialogue running rampantly through my head - what the fuck have I done?? Why do that? Publicly proclaim for all and sundry to see what a loser you are? Your insane.. mad! crazy! fucking idiot! ... was challenged by another voice.

"Breathe Vicky. There is no need to be afraid. Its been and gone and happened. You picked yourself up, dusted yourself off, and kept going. You survived. Its OK. Breathe."

So I did. I stood and looked out the window at the view, and drank in its beauty, and breathed. And slowly, the agitation started to be replaced by calm, the prickly skin and dizziness dissipated as I reconnected with my body, and I was able to tidy up, have morning tea with my friend, and participate in a reasonably healthy functioning conversation.

Big deal? Is for me.

When you have an anxiety disorder, being able to get to through it with out blasting off into the outer space regions of a full blown panic attack, is monumental. Especially if you do it with out pharmaceautical assistance aka valium. And for me, especially if I can do it with out the black dog landing on my back afterwards.

I went on to have a wonderful weekend with M and Aston, with a trip to the Circus, and beach BBQ with my soul sister and her children only to be knocked down with a cold at the end of it.

Now if only I can learn how to breathe through the onset of a cold and chase that away...  then again, maybe my body just needed to rest, and recuperate. Anxiety is a bitch like that.

Brand new week. I wonder what it will bring?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shaking off the shame

I had mixed feelings when I saw that Wanderlust was speaking out against Domestic Violence. I admired her confidence in speaking out... I tingled with shame at my own story.

You see, I grew up in a family where domestic violence - in all its categories... physical, verbal, mental, emotional, sexual - was the norm, not the exception. And I swore as a young adult that no-one would ever treat me like my mother (and every other woman that the sperm donor brought into my life) myself and my sister had been treated. Ever. I swore it adamantly. Vehemently. Absolutely.

In March 2009 (while this story started a long time ago, you can read about my awakening, everything in between, and finally resolution to make changes) my husband attempted suicide. It was horrible, horrific, devastating.

I sat in the special room at the hospital speaking to the Psyche nurse... no, make that vomiting out my husband's behaviour... all of it. The nasty, horrible, hateful things that he had done, said, behaved towards me and my children. Suddenly I stopped. Because I HEARD myself....

I turned to my friend that was with me - someone who had saved me from myself once before (but that's another story for another time) and said to her "Oh my god. If someone was sitting in front of me telling me the things that I have just spoken I would be looking at them aghast and asking them what the hell are you doing??" That was my moment of realisation. Realisation that I had landed in a relationship that I swore I would never have. One full of violence - verbal, mental and physical. I was devastated. How the fuck had I got here?? What had I done???

I started to cry - not for my husband, but for myself. For my children. In disbelief.

It took me nearly another 12 months and an Apprehended Violence Order, changing my home phone number and mobile number to finally cut him completely out of my life - or as completely as  you can cut someone that you share a child with. It took another 12 months and a whole lot of persistence, and me standing my ground, for something that resembled him having a relationship with his son to occur. For ME to no longer be afraid, and know that he no longer has any power over me, to be able to see him for the pathetic sad little man that he is - that took another six months.

Two and a half years in total. To feel like he no longer had a psychological hold over me in some form. To feel like the person I know I am. To reclaim my self esteem. To trust. To love myself. To forgive myself - well that's still a work in progress.

Its easy for outsiders  to say a million things about a situation that they haven't walked or lived. To have an opinion. Hell, I even had a million things to say, and an opinion, and I had already lived it as a child... and I still fucking ended up in an all to similar situation as an adult. Why do women stay in abusive relationships? There is a myriad of explanations out there. Its insidious and gradual the slide down that slippery slope. By the time it happens your self belief, esteem, courage, worth are so eroded that you start to believe it is all your fault. That you are the cause of it all.

What should you do if someone you care about is in this situation? Don't judge them. Be there for them. Let them know, when they are ready, you will stand there beside them. They are going to need you.

What if you find yourself in this situation? Firstly - even though it no doubt feels like it, please know that you aren't alone. Reach out. Speak out. You too can shake the shackles of domestic violence. If you can't do it for yourself, and have children - DO IT FOR THEM. Show them how brave, and strong you are. Show your daughters that it is not OK to be treated badly. Show your sons that it is not OK to treat women badly. Show your children that domestic violence is never OK.

Knowledge is power. Find the knowledge. Find the power.

Domestic Violence Resources and Help in Australia

Lifeline Phone: 13 11 14 (cost of local call from landline) Website: http://www.lifeline.org.au

This website is all about the line and the kind of behaviour that crosses it. http://www.theline.gov.au/

What is domestic violence? http://au.reachout.com/find/articles/domestic-violence

Domestic Violence Resource centre http://www.dvrc.org.au/

Monday, November 14, 2011

old habits die hard...

Some habits take a while to stop. Well they do for me anyway. Especially ones that involve my psyche, guess it comes from having PTSD. My brain automatically goes to the programmed response - even though that response hasn't been required for quite a while now.

Last week a girlfriend text me asking us to a trivia fund raising night for the local scouts. My internal dialogue went something like this:

"M won't want to do this, he'll think its lame, stupid, dumb (any other adjective that is used to describe something someone considers a waste of time). I won't bother asking him. I'll just say no we are busy... hang on a minute Vicky - you don't know that M will think its lame etc. Ask him."

So I did. And he said yes, that sounds fun. I was gob smacked, until I reminded myself that this M. NOT R... and that I have to stop having expectations - good, bad or indifferent.

In the book I read fearless loving by Rhona Britten, she talks about exactly this. Letting go of expectations ... all of them. I was expecting a negative response, based on my previous experiences with R, when asked to go somewhere social. I almost didn't ask M if he wanted to go. I'm glad I pushed through the uncomfortableness of it, and asked.

We went. We caught up with my friend's husband before we went to the trivia night. It was a nice, calm, normal thing to do... (It seems I'm still getting used to what normal looks like) M can hold a conversation, I don't have to be on egg shells worrying about what he is going to say, do, behave, be...

I finally have what I have craved for such a long time. A partner. A person who interacts with me. A grown up. Someone I can be silly with, serious with, just be with...

I had such a lovely weekend. We didn't do anything tremendously exciting (the trivia night went on for an awfully long time....), watched some episodes of Rome together, had a sleep in, bacon and eggs breakfast, washed the dogs, had a water fight with the boys...  It was just ... nice. Calm. Normal.

I love nice. calm. Normal... I love it a lot.

Monday, November 7, 2011

when life was still pregnant with possibility...

I saw my daughter on Saturday for the first time since mid September... since everything tipped upside down. It was so good to put my arms around her and hold her - even if initially she was reluctant.

Its the longest time I have ever not seen her in 15 years.

It hurts still. I miss her terribly. I don't miss the fighting. But I feel like I've picked a scab, and it stings.

Seeing her - well my internal dialogue is rampant again with the words failure.

I wish I could rewind time... back to a time before. Only problem is which point in "before" would I rewind back to? To a time when life was still pregnant with possibility...?

Laura and I March 1996

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Pandora's box... part 1

The saying "opening Pandora's box" gets thrown around a lot. It comes from the myth of Pandora, and the box that she was given by the gods and told to never open it. Pandora tried to tame her curiosity, but in the end she could not do it; she opened the box and all the illnesses and hardships that the gods had hidden in the box started coming out. Pandora was scared, evil spirits sprung from the box and she fiercely tried to close the box as fast as possible, enclosing the only thing remaining inside - Hope.

This is the story of the opening of my Pandora's box.

This isn't a pleasant story so it comes with a warning. If you have been abused -mentally, physically, sexually - there are details in this story that may trigger you. Read it with care.

I was  ambivalent about motherhood. My points of reference for parents were not shining ones that instil in you the confidence to go forth and multiply.  Instead I had a whole lot of things I knew I didn't want to do... and not a lot to fall back on in regards to how to do it right. So armed with my HOW NOT TO BE PARENT guide I became a mother.

My daughter was truly an angel. She fed like a champion, slept through from 6 weeks old, did everything the "books" said, was a coffee shop connoisseur by three weeks of age,  was so busy sleeping, or smiling, that my arms were often empty, or holding someone else's small person to give them some relief.

But with the birth of my daughter came the beginning of "postcards" from under the door of my Pandora's box. Postcards from my own childhood. Postcards from the place where I had very neatly folded down into tiny tiny pieces my life as a child... or to be more precise, from childhood until 23... stored and locked away so that I could re-invent myself into something - someone - shiny and new.

I kept slipping - sometimes kicking - those postcards back under that door. NO! was my usual internal response to these postcard moments. NO! That was then, this is now... the two aren't related, have nothing to do with each other, aren't connected, GO AWAY!

Then I had my son. I had no experience with little boys. I had a sister, no brothers. Maleness in fact alarmed and scared me. I didn't understand them.

The postcards came faster and my refusal to look at them or deal with them became frantic. I spiriled down into the abyss, where colour is washed out, almost non-exisitent. When you have no colour in your life, no light it feels like you are walking around in a fog, sounds, images, feelings are muted, or disappear completely.

When my son was 8 months old I went to the doctor. But I didn't tell her anything, other then I was tired, and cried a lot. I didn't divulge anything about my past, she didn't ask. I didn't offer. I was put on anti-depressants, and treated for Post Natal Depression.

It wasn't until nearly 3 years later that I began to realise that all the medication in the world wasn't going to stop the postcards. That, and the fact that I found out that I was going to have a baby sister. The man who I had all but deleted from my life was going to be a father again...

That was when my Pandora's box flung open, and the world that I had tried so hard to create shattered into a million tiny pieces.


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