Hello world,

There’s been so much going on I really don’t know where to start.
Depression is hell, it’s made worse by having parents that live in the same state but don’t talk to you, with their only reason being I haven’t contacted them. Over it.I sent a message to my dad for his birthday, having not had contact with him because of my sister, for over 12 years. I didn’t expect some glowing, glittery letter of heartfelt thankfulness from him in response, but a ‘thanks’ wouldn’t be bad, would it? Instead I received what I have always received from him, nothing.
I’m the only one in our family to have gone to university, and I now have a Master of Arts (Writing) to show for it; did I even receive a congratulations from either parent – even if it had to be through a third-party? No. Not one word. No ‘well done’, nothing. So, I’m done. I extended the olive branch by sending that message and I feel like I have all my life, unwanted and unloved by my father.

I am not asking for sympathy, I do not write this in order to hurt anybody or to plead the victim, I write this because of the incredible amount of pain I feel every time I receive no acknowledgement from my own parents. I haven’t done anything wrong; I’ve never stolen from them, lied, cheated them out of anything, heck, I used to drive my dad shopping whenever he needed it because my sister could only ever be relied upon to be either drunk or under the influence of something. It breaks my heart to know I can’t talk to my family here, or more to the truth, they can’t talk to me; but I won’t let this stop me either. I’ve been looking after myself basically from when my father left when I was 12 and my mother turned in to the psychotic divorced wife, so really, I’m just carrying on as usual, looking after myself by myself.

Only now, it’s different. I have a goal, a purpose and a dream to keep working to achieve.
I am treating my move to Queensland as an adventure, I’m putting behind me every thing from the past and trying my hardest to keep moving forward.
Having PTSD makes the whole driving to Queensland thing a crazy kind of stressful, but I am doing it. I have no time limit and can see a few things on the way, maybe even visit some people; de-stress, shed.

I don’t have time in my life left to waste on those who don’t want me in their lives, and for the first time ever I’m thinking of my own happiness and moving forward to a wonderful life in sunny Queensland.

23 weeks to go, not that I’m counting.

I’ve organised for removals to take some stuff as a back-load and I’ll be selling off and giving away what’s left, ready to start fresh over the other side of the country.

I’ll keep you all informed, it’s a scary, bumpy ride I’m on at the moment, lets just hope for a soft landing.

Be kind to everyone,
Cheers
S.

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The time has come

Hello all,

I haven’t been on as I have been in a really bad place in my heart, mind, and soul, and rather than inflict that on anyone else it’s a time when I need to hibernate. During times like the last few months, I put on my ‘go outside’ mask on and pretend to be happy and fine when I know I have to deal with people, but otherwise I sit in my house all day every day.

Recently I had tests which revealed I definitely have osteoarthritis along with bursitis in both my hips and shoulders. Seriously? I’m 48 for goodness sake, not 70 (no offense meant to 70 year olds)

At the same time I’ve been pretending the violent client at the centre I volunteer for didn’t worry me that much, unfortunately I know it has because it has triggered nightmares and flashbacks of the bank robbery and fists on skin.

I have also been writing the report for the centre I volunteer for which was presented at their AGM last week, where they also presented some of the domestic violence project I’ve been participating in. It’s been a big month really.

On top of that my cousin payed for my flights and car-parking so I could go and visit him at his new house in Queensland; I loved it so much I’m moving over there.

Sorry guys, that’s for another post and it will be up shortly.

I’m exhausted and excited and scared all at the same time. Mostly exhausted at the moment but I needed to share my good news.

I am determined this year is my year.

Hi all,

I was supposed to go for an interview last week to maybe do some work experience with a local advocacy group but it was postponed due to a family emergency (hers, not mine); it was rescheduled for yesterday afternoon.

PTSD is a pain in the butt. Let’s be clear, it’s not just a part-time thing that only impacts on your life in difficult situations, it impacts on every minute of every day. I was shaking so much before the interview I could have been the cocktail maker at a local bar and I was so worried I was going to throw up on the poor woman, it was horrible. I made it though, I am determined this is my year to really get my rebuilt life up and running.

I am a survivor but even more than that I am a fighter.  I refuse to give up no matter how hard something is, the best evidence I can give for that is my achievement of a Bachelor of Arts degree last year, and now I’m two thirds through my Masters of Arts, neither of which has been easy.  I am nearly 47 years old, yesterday there was a discussion on the commercial news about how our brains are at their best when we are about 24. Wow, no wonder this study gig has been so hard. Ok, it’s not just age, PTSD has a great deal to do with it but it doesn’t matter, I have been dreaming of going to university since I was a young girl, unfortunately when the first chance came I had to make a choice to either stay at home and go to university, or move out and be safe.  I chose to move and my mother has never forgiven me.  So, when my relationship ended in 2009 I saw it as my chance to rebuild my life doing what I wanted to do this time. I’m nearly there. Only another 6 weeks of these two current subjects then three more subjects and I’m finished my Masters.

So back to yesterday.  I went to the interview and met a very lovely lady who managed to put me at ease fairly quickly, well, I didn’t throw up on her!  We discussed my history/knowledge of domestic abuse and trauma, and the projects their organisation has upcoming and where she could see me fitting in.  Result is I am waiting on an email with a brief so I can come up with some PR ideas for the first project they are working on which is regarding homelessness, then when funding arrives I will be helping them on a domestic violence project; I am so incredibly grateful for the chance they are giving me with this work experience. I get to use my writing skills and my creativity to come up with some different approaches, hopefuly in ways that get the community involved and connected with the issues. Because in all honesty, it could happen to any one of us.

Domestic abuse doesn’t always leave a visible bruise and homelessness is not only caused through drugs and alcohol, and we really need to get people to think more in depth about issues of this nature in order to come together as a community and do something.

I want the rest of my life to count for something, I want to help people who are in situations of domestic abuse like I was, I want to show them there are options, no matter how dark it may seem to them. This work experience opportunity feels to me like the first huge step in achieving my goal. 

I can and will keep writing poetry and other fiction pieces in the hopes of building my writing career, but I can’t help but be excited at the idea that I can combine both my love of writing and the chance to help other people.

I’ll put a couple of poems up on the blog over the next few days but at the moment I hear the call of a tutorial due for uni so it’s time for me to scoot.

Thanks for taking the time to read this 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful day, full of friends, love, laughter and fun.  Maybe chuck a tiny bit of work in there too. If you have to.

Cheers

S,

 

 

It’s been a while

Hello there!

It’s been a few months since I posted on here and I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back.  One of the problems with discussing domestic violence and other traumatic incidences when you have PTSD is it can trigger setbacks and all sorts of problems like nightmares, no sleep, anger issues, feeling overwhelmed and generally a huge desire to run away.  I have been dealing with suicidal thoughts and severe depression for the last few months and didn’t really want to put it out into the world.  As some of you would know, when suffering a depressive episode the motivation to do anything just isn’t there, except in my case, the overwhelming motivation to drive my car into a tree or off a bridge.

What stops me? It’s hard to explain to people who are lucky enough not to suffer from clinical depression or who have never experienced some of the horrific things that have occurred in my life, but I’m willing to try.  Here goes; about 20 years ago I had a great rapport with a lovely girl who was a volunteer in a community house project I visited, and we became friends.  She talked to me honestly about the abuse she was living with and her new struggle of trying to separate from her violent boyfriend and I was vocal in my encouragement for her to break the chains.  After a few months and another couple of broken fingers, she finally decided to move back home to her mum.  What followed was months and months of stalking, threats both to herself and her mother, brake lines cut, her car was bashed with a baseball bat while she was sitting in it with the doors locked, all number of things that were pointing to the increasing instability in the mind of the boy she was trying to free herself from.  One Monday, just two days before her birthday and less than a month away from completing her university degree, I got the news that both my friend and her ex were found dead together in his car.  To this day I carry feelings of guilt for not helping more, for not noticing that things had become so bad, for not convincing her to take it to the police.  I tried. Over and over I tried to get her to have him arrested but she was scared of his reaction if she called the police, so she never did.  Neither did I, or any of her other friends who also knew some of what was going on.  Worst is that she picked a fight with me on the Friday afternoon and cancelled plans we had for the Sunday, because of our pathetic argument.  I feel so guilty that in my anger toward her over the argument, I didn’t call over the weekend to fix it, to make sure she was ok, to make sure our friendship was ok.  Now I will never have that chance and 20 years on I still feel like I should have done more, listened more, been a better friend. So no matter how despondent I get over my life, or the pain I am constantly in, suicide is no longer even an option.  I would never want friends of mine to be questioning themselves 20 years after my death as to how they could have helped more. I have to just push through each depressive episode, each anxiety attack, each nightmare, each flashback and keep working toward making my future better.  Sometimes having that choice (suicide) taken away from me is frustrating because life is really, really hard on a daily basis when you have PTSD, but sometimes I am grateful that choice has been taken away because it is forcing me to find ways to cope on this journey when I think it would be much easier to just not be here.

I am lucky. I am incredibly grateful. Both for the friends I have and the opportunities I have been given on this journey to learn so much about myself; my strength, my resilience, my passion.  I try to appreciate how lucky I am every day; I have a roof over my head, I answer only to myself and my ethics and principles, and I am free.

I am working toward making this year all about writing.  I have approximately 8 months left till I finish my Master of Arts degree and I am working diligently not only on that but also on a series of children’s books, a YA historical fiction novel and a collection of poetry, all of which will keep me extremely busy and focused. I hope. 

So I apologise for my long absence and I will do my best to not let it be so long in between posts.

Take care and be safe.

 

 

A tough couple of weeks

Hello world,

It feels like forever since I was last here, depression got me and I just couldn’t find a way to do more than I absolutely had to.

I saw Mr Who a couple of weeks ago and at the time I felt great, I just didn’t realise that it would trigger so much. It was the first time I have seen him where I didn’t feel sick to my stomach, break out in a sweat and not be able to breathe properly. To me that was a step forward, but the nightmares and flashbacks I have had since are certainly not steps forward; I have to just take it a day at a time and I’m very lucky these days to have some caring, supportive people in my life.

I finished another two subjects of my Masters degree since I was here last and started the new semester. There has been so much work to do through this course that I’m exhausted; add to that the markets have started again and I have a stall each Sunday and I guess exhaustion is understandable. That cold remedy ad springs to mind a lot, you know…”…soldier on with ******, soldier on…”

The one thought that keeps me motivated, no matter what, is how much better my life is without Mr Who; sometimes it’s incredibly lonely and financially it’s the hardest time I’ve ever had, but I’m free. Most people will scoff, and some have at me, freedom is something we all have (so they say) but it’s only when you have had it taken away from you that you can truly understand how I feel. Every single day I’m grateful to be free, most days I’m grateful to be alive.

The last few subjects for uni have taken a toll on me because I’ve chosen to do major projects around and about domestic abuse; this new subject I’m pleased to say gives me the opportunity to try my hand at historical fiction. Don’t get me wrong, we have a choice of our end of subject project. We get to choose the genre and topic but I have felt the burning need to do a great deal of non-fiction and creative non-fiction all centered around domestic abuse. Not this time though, this time I am writing a fictional piece about a time-traveling girl who goes back to the gold era of Sovereign Hill in Victoria and I’m excited. 🙂

So it’s only two deadlines a week this semester and half the work load that I’ve had for the last four years straight. To me it’s like I’m on a little holiday and gives me time and energy to do some other things, like sending my poetry out to some publishers. That’s the next step in my journey as a fledgling writer, I really want to find a publisher and the only way that will happen is if I’m brave enough to send my stuff out.  Fingers crossed.

take care, stay safe

xx

 

 

 

It does get better

Hello World

I keep talking about how long it’s been since Mr Who and I split, and it may have seemed like I have breezed through the last four years without hesitation.  It hasn’t been like that at all; some days have felt like years and I know I’ve cried enough to drown myself a few times over, but every time I think it’s too hard or I just can’t cope I remind myself of how it really was. In truth I would rather be alone than abused.

I purposefully don’t remind myself of the early days before I moved in to his house, he was in the ‘sweep her off her feet’ stage then; I remind myself of how he treated me after I moved in and suddenly found myself with no control over my own life.  Don’t get me wrong, when we first met and he was sweeping me off my feet with phone calls, flowers, presents for no reason and listening to what I thought and felt, I still had control over the clothes I was wearing, who I was speaking to and how I spent my pension. It was after I moved in that all that changed.

So when I first moved out I sat on the couch and did nothing but cry for days at a time; now I realise I wasn’t so much grieving over the lost relationship, I was grieving over the fact it had never been the relationship I thought it was. Mr Who told me he loved me during our time together but in the final confrontation he said he had never loved me, nobody really could and my best would never be close to good enough for him.  Those are the words I kept reminding myself of in the early days after I left and because I had heard variations on that theme all my life, I believed him.

I have PTSD and severe depression and for the first few months I just gave in to it.  I only got dressed when I had an appointment to go to or I knew somebody was coming to my house.  I ate total crap, I watched tv all day and most of the night, I was absolutely exhausted and I felt like I had been rejected again. I thought of suicide constantly but I could never do that to the few friends and family I have. A friend of mine committed suicide a few years ago and those of us left behind are the ones suffering now; that’s what stopped me, I would never want to inflict that pain on the people I love.

In a way, having that ‘option’ taken away made things even harder; there was no way out except to work through everything. That’s when I started volunteering for the Salvos. I had to get dressed at least 3 mornings a week and it really helped. One day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time.

There have been many days in the last four years when I just wanted to crawl into a corner and cover myself with a doona and never come out, but I refuse to give in.  I keep thinking if I do, the abusers of my past win and I won’t let that happen.

It is getting better, I’m feeling better and I know it’s because I have been working constantly on achieving my lifelong dream of writing for a living and that I haven’t been stalked by Mr Who for over a year now. I’m no longer listening to the negative people who tell me I need to get a ‘real job’.  I have a real job; right now my job is recovering, rebuilding my life and studying.

It does get better, I’m free, safe and alive. I’m not saying it gets easy but it does get easier and I know each of us has the right to do what we want with our lives, it’s not up to our partner/parents/husband/wife/sibling/friends to dictate what or who we should be; it’s up to each of us.  I’m working on being the best me I can be.

Take care, stay safe.

xx

Solid Base – a poem

Hello World,

I wrote this earlier this year when I finished my Bachelor of Arts degree and started thinking about what I should do next.

SOLID BASE

I have no idea how, but my dream stayed alive,

A tiny little fire burning in a corner of my mind,

Now I finally have the chance to really stoke the flames,

And I don’t intend to waste another single day.

Three years of constant study have earned me a degree,

A solid base to build on for the new me,

The me that is confident, happy and sure,

The me that can let go of the hurts from before.

It hasn’t been easy to walk this new path,

But fulfilling one dream has helped heal my heart,

I’m proud of myself for the first time I can recall,

I’m starting to think I’ve been dreaming too small.

Take care, stay safe

xx

I don’t want sympathy

Hello World,

I’m not writing this blog to gain sympathy or as some form of therapy; I see a therapist every two weeks and I absolutely recommend it for everybody. I am writing this blog because I passionately believe there is still too much silence in our society around domestic abuse.  I can no longer be part of the silence.

I had already been seeing a therapist  for a few years before I left Mr Who, but without his help when the relationship hit crisis points I would not have made it this far. I will forever be grateful that I have an understanding and supportive therapist that I can afford because of the way Relationships Australia support those in the community that need help. For the first few years they bent the rules and instead of receiving 6-12 free sessions I received much more.  Now I pay an agreed sum each fortnight, agreed because when they worked out how much I should pay on my income, I couldn’t afford it; we negotiated and I still get to see my therapist fortnightly.

I have PTSD. Not from an abusive relationship although that certainly didn’t help; it stems from few traumatic life events that I’ll talk about in other posts, I don’t want to focus on that this time.

I have a burning need to stand up and speak out about a couple of  forms of domestic abuse that are often dismissed as less important or less harmful; that is verbal abuse and  mental and emotional abuse. Never in my relationship was I hit but I was constantly threatened with being homeless, told that I would never survive alone, nothing I did was ever good enough, told I was an idiot, treated like a sex slave, my art was ridiculed, my talent/skills mocked, my every opinion ridiculed and corrected, too many to list and too often told.  Nearly ten years of being treated like a brain-dead imbecile tends to rub off slowly but surely until you believe it.

I once believed I could do anything, that I could be anything but life got a bit rough for a while, I took some wrong turns and then I forgot.  The hardest thing I have ever done is leave Mr Who and make my way on my own, but no matter how lonely I get, or how depressed I get, or how often I eat toast for dinner, I know I’m better off now, free and safe.

It’s been a year since he turned up at my door and it’s amazing the difference a year of no contact can make. It’s been a good year, I love being free.

Take care, stay safe.

xx

University as a very mature student

Hello World,

When I found myself single at the age of 42 and sitting alone in front of the TV every night, I started thinking about what I really wanted to do for the next 40 years or so.  I no longer had the security of a life partner and suddenly I had freedom of choice that I hadn’t had for most of my life. It was as daunting a decision at 42 as it had been at 17 when I finished year 12 and had to choose between university or leaving home.  I left home.

That’s when it hit me, I had a second chance at life; this time I could actually do what I wanted to do, and if I chose to study it could be what I wanted.  It was then I started noticing advertisements for Open Universities on television and it seemed to be divine timing of some sort.  With some help from a student adviser over the phone, I signed up to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree and ended up doing a double major of Literature & Composition; and Communications.  I did it all through the safety of online learning, where my PTSD doesn’t effect anything.  I knew if I had to go on campus it would never happen and I didn’t want anything to stop me. Not this time. Never again.

At first I used it as a distraction from what I saw as the nothingness of my life; when I was studying I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, I didn’t have time.  I hadn’t studied since I was 17.  That’s a 25 year gap.  It was incredibly difficult to do but the best incentive in the world for me was the negativity I listened to for years; I wanted to prove that I wasn’t stupid, or good for nothing, or a waste of space, or air or effort.  So really, I started studying for spite.

I have many years of memories of belittling behaviour, derision, contempt, lack of respect and absolute subservience to refer to whenever I started to think I wouldn’t make it through my degree.  And there were many times when I thought it was too hard, but I kept reminding myself of why I needed to keep going.  After a while I actually was studying because I wanted to secure a better future for myself, it had nothing to do with spite and nobody else was responsible.

In August this year I went to Brisbane where I walked across the stage and received my degree with other graduates and it actually sunk in.  I did it. Somewhere along the way I forgot to care that I was single, I was too busy studying.  I stopped worrying about paying my bills because I knew I had them covered,  and started worrying about essays and referencing and learning.  It was a lifeline I didn’t think it would be.  I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to go to University, even if I have never actually set foot on a campus.  Nothing is impossible if you really want it and are ready to work for it.

It’s a whole new game now, I am a survivor and a university graduate.

Take care, stay safe

xx

Another poem

Hello World,

I write poetry a lot, it’s my first refuge in an emotional storm. I don’t tend to write poetry that could be described as ‘hearts and flowers’ style, some people could find it depressing or cynical I guess. That’s fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the right to express them; its funny how oppression makes you appreciate freedom.

I’d like to share a piece I wrote about a year after I left Mr Who, it’s really about freedom of choice.

Mr Who?

You sneered at me that I would never survive,

Out on my own without you by my side,

You told me I just wouldn’t cope,

That you were my rock and I had no hope.

I believed your lies for far too long,

Finally I decided I had to be strong,

Slowly but surely you were smothering my soul,

With hatred and rage and your need to control.

One day I saw myself hanging from a tree,

I had to admit you were killing me,

So I packed my bags and left our home,

Just me and the cat – out on our own.

Three years have passed but you still turn up,

Hoping to find me down on my luck,

Lost and alone and desperate for you,

I can honestly say that will never be true.

There are no luxuries in my new life,

But I’m happy to pay freedom’s price,

I’ve moved on without you and it feels divine,

Knowing each life choice is now truly mine.

Everyone has a right to feel safe in their own home.  Everybody wants to be loved and love. Everyone has the right to make choices for themselves.  It’s a wonderful feeling, freedom.