Category: Mental Health in families

They’ve found her

My mother has been found. My abuser has been found.

It has been a little over a year since I first reported to the police the abuse done to me by my mother in my childhood and early adulthood.

Since I made my statement, the police had been searching for my mother to question her. It had come to the point that with her not being found for so long, part of me felt perhaps she never would be. Had she chosen to disappear? She had gone from her last known address, disappeared and ceased contact with the hospital that was treating her, no information about her whereabouts was known by the very few former friends and similar, and none of the few leads I could think of helped (a relative she might have had contact with, a place she worked a very long time ago and so on). Even the police’s searches of records held by places like the DWP or tax office yielded nothing (very strange since she must surely be claiming a Benefit, or a pension, or working). The police had even searched the death and marriages registers and were talking about the possibility she may have passed away. It was in my mind whether the time would come that I might have to accept that, though bizarrely without ever really knowing what happened to her.

Then at the weekend I got the news that the police have found her.

Shock. I was stunned.

So, now I am to meet with the DC who is working on my case, the same person who took my statement. He has spoken to my mother. I don’t know if he has interviewed her. I expect he must have. He has things he needs to tell me but felt we need to meet face to face to talk about it.

I’m in a sort of suspense til our conversation. There are so many questions and uncertainties and fears. Where was she? Probably the DC won’t be allowed to tell me. How did they find her? Perhaps he will be able to tell me how. What state is her health in? She was not in good physical health when I last saw her and her mental health conditions are severe; she never believed she was ill though. Has that changed? I doubt it – but perhaps that’s too much of an assumption. No, actually, it isn’t; given the years and years history anything else would be astonishing. What has happened to her since our contact ceased? She disappeared from contact with the hospital team – not surprising, sadly – so has she had no treatment since? What’s she doing? What danger is she in? And what danger is she to others, that’s in my mind too, because of what she did to me, and because of her violence when she is ill.

For me, what now? If she’s been questionned, what happened? What did she say? What do we do now? I can imagine what she will have said to the police about me. I’m trying not to imagine too much in general about this, as it can lead to no good. There is no point in imagining scenarios until I meet the DC. A big issue will be her mental state now, I think, and whether she has capacity to understand proceedings. I think another big issue will be how will there be any evidence of what I went through? So much happened when I was alone and isolated with her. The lack of evidence gives the voices in my head power and I’m stifled and paralysed quickly with the flashbacks on the one hand, the voices telling me liar, disgusting, your fault, you wanted it….

The last 2 days dissociative episodes have taken hold scarily often. I’m fighting them, sometimes. But often that makes me break too much or I’m too far in.

If I have to make some decisions over what happens next, how can I choose for good?

Ginny xxx

Furthest away from those closest

[Begun writing yesterday 30th December]

I’m really sad, angry, lonely and hurting. I feel excluded, blamed, not believed, not wanted, a disappointment, right when I am trying the hardest, giving the most I can, in the most pain and most need to find some understanding; not necessarily help but simply acknowledgement and belief of what I’m experience and some love nevertheless from those closest to me whom I might hope to trust.

I’m on the journey home now after staying 3 days with my dad and step mum and I am ashamed but I could not have coped with one day more. Again and again in my flashbacks I was back to being the child with my mother and my father and the constant terror and trepidation and dread. I live the same situations over and over. I’m terrified of the next time she’ll think I’ve done, said or thought something wrong and get angry. I am exhausted from any time with my step mother and her utter insistence on her right and my wrong. Even simply talking with her and Dad, it’s as if we’re back where whatever happened I was the problem, I was the one behaving oddly, I was the one causing damage – when actually my mother was the abusive one, she could get away with anything, when I was crying for help nobody heard, nobody helped me and my father appeared to agree with her entirely. Similarly now, he can’t believe my step mother and everything she does is anything but fantastic and wonderful. I know I’ve said before, in a family situation he is utterly loyal but to the exclusion of the point of view of anyone but her, just as he was with my mother. I think that’s at least in part how I went unheard for so long when I was clearly massively distressed and when I needed his help, and when I told him what she’d done.

It was a bad enough time through all this but it has also become very clear how little my step mother believes or understands about my physical health and disabilities, how much she blames me, holds me responsible as though being ill is a choice, how annoyed and disappointed she is I don’t live up to her requirements. I’ve known for a long time how she doesn’t understand but it came home this week. It isn’t only me that it’s directed at. She shows the same attitude to my step sister over her mental health and to one of her friends who has a lot of physical health problems. It is beyond me how anyone can show as little belief or understanding of what someone is going through, as little compassion and as much blame, but then I have been ill or physically disabled most of my life so admittedly that gives me a different starting point.

She is not open to hearing what day to day life is actually like for me or even seeing it when it’s right in front of her . I don’t make a big issue about my health. I try to make sure it affects anyone else as little as possible. But when she is lecturing me about why don’t I do this or that, things are only a problem because I imagine they are, and so on and I have to try to explain eventually why I may not be able to do something, she refuses to hear and insists on her solution and gets angry if I can’t do it. When I’m physically unable to do something when I’m right there with her, for her it’s something I’m doing deliberately, it’s a real problem for other people, I “just have to do it”, I am not making enough effort… it’s like when my mother accused me of pretending not to be able to do things if I didn’t succeed academically as she required, and the resultant rejection and punishment of me is similar too.

I wrote a lot about what my step mother said to me and did which I’ve deleted because listing a load of hurts and speaking badly of someone does no good. When I was leaving, she started up again about “New Year, new you”, how everyone needs it needs to be a healthy year, we don’t want any more of this, I’ve got to be completely different  and I’ve “simply got to” make sure of that, and it’s all about positive thinking, it simply has to be mind over matter, as if it’s a choice not a number of lifelong health conditions. She loves telling me what I’ve simply got to do, always things which I literally physically or mentally cannot, so she exerts a great amount of pressure and certainty that I’m a disappointment when I can’t meet her simply-got-tos that she heaps on me even when they’re medically not possible.

In the face of all this, my father blanks me, ignores what I’m experiencing, denies what has happened or ignores what I say if I express as much as the fact that some of what she says is hurtful, to the point of refusing to answer and acting as though he has not heard or changing the subject. He literally will not hear a single thing against her, or even not 100% agreeing with her. It’s just like how he withdrew and ceased responding and cut off and rejected me and to say the least did nothing whilst my mother continued all kinds of emotional physical and sexual abuse. Then he is able to say he doesn’t know what’s happening.

***

My step mother’s growing obsession with weight and Slimming World is hard for me too. The fridge looks like a diet advert, even though it’s Christmas, brimming with vegetables and low fat yoghurt and very little else. Food is such an issue and has to be done her way. She will not stop telling me how I’ve “simply got to get healthy… simply got to prepare proper meals”. I don’t want anything to do with her diet. She has no concept of eating disorders and how hard a combination of the voices, my physical disabilities making cooking and the resulting cleaning ever so painful, and my eating disorder make it to cook. Yet she can’t see past her own obsession with vegetables, fat free, going to the gym…

***

I’m at the point of ceasing to expect anything but rejection, judgment and accusations from my step mother and from my dad, withdrawal from me and utter support of her views. At best. The glimmers of understanding I thought I had from my dad just seem like a trick now that opened me to trusting, making the inevitable return to rejection and accusations all the more painful. I will not go to stay with them again any time soon.

It would be easier for me to cease all contact with them. My step mother does not often behave as if she likes me. I often think they might well prefer me to have only infrequent contact. After all, I’m seen mainly as a problem. Morally, I don’t feel I can cease contact. I have a duty to them. I want to forgive. I can’t expect total understanding. If I ask forgiveness from God when I’ve judged other people I need to forgive them. I try not to act angrily but the hurt is much harder to control. If I did not have a dependence or need for their understanding, it would not matter to me so much. Though my father’s withdrawal and denial of my experience hurts as much as what my step mother does.

It hurts so much in my head right now.

Ginny xxx

I can’t be loved

It hit me today. I can’t be loved. I am unable to receive love, most of all God’s love. I long for it in different ways. Crave not being alone or being understood. Crave protection. Crave being wanted. Being needed. Being any good (any good to anyone, and just simply any good). Not being rejected. But I’m totally unable to receive it, accept and believe.

A friend said to me a few months ago that I always put a barrier and was too angry to let God love me. I got very angry with this friend at the time and very afraid. I felt like he confirmed everything I always inescapably feared about being outside God’s grace, bad, too bad to save and it was my fault, that however much I thought I wanted good I was bad in the end. I spoke very angrily to my friend, accusing him of frightening and judging me. But really everything I attributed to him, was what I utterly feared because of what I’d learnt as a kid being abused. The only way to stop my abuser’s threats coming true, I believed, was to accept what she (my mother) was telling me about me. That meant admitting to my own pervasive, enduring, dangerous evil.

I’m only just now suddenly starting to see how strong her deception was and how it has made me unable to receive love, rather only to receive confirmation of her view of me (or at least the view she presented as an abuser). She talked a lot about love. I did not receive love in that relationship and as a kid that’s the relationship where love is most important. My father loved me but she so twisted things that my impression of him was that he believed the same about me as she did. The closest thing I experienced to safety and love was “admitting” under her violent coercion to how evil I was, accepting and desiring her total control over me and my total weakness.

Most of all I have been unable to accept the love of God. My abuser’s twisting of the meaning of what should be love has had a very direct impact that I wonder how I didn’t see til now.

More on this in coming posts. Right now I’m feeling like I just fell off a cliff or something.

Ginny xxxx

 

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry: when it’s less safe

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry

Eating disorders and personality disorder

When it’s less safe, but I am no longer my abuser’s child

WARNING: this post contains mention of childhood abuse, discussion of my experience of anorexia and disordered eating and the purpose it served for me in my eating disordered thought processes.

When I started drafting this post, I didn’t actually intend it to form part of this series on eating disorders and personality disorder. I didn’t realise that it would be so much about my eating disorders, but it turns out that it is. I started writing tonight in preparation for my therapy group tomorrow. Last week, we were talking about feeling safe. In the discussion, I said that at some points during therapy (around the past 14 months so far), I’ve actually been less safe than when I was not in therapy. In hindsight, perhaps I should say, felt less safe. It has felt less safe. Despite this, I still feel therapy is a process I need and want to go through. Someone asked me a question about that, to which I struggled to verbalise the answer. I’ve thought on her question during the week. I’m not going to write what she said because I don’t want to break her confidentiality, but I wanted to share the reflection she has led me to about becoming more or less safe during therapy.

As soon as I tried to explain, the familiar eating disorder thought came into my mind – when I was anorexic it was safe. I know how sick and dangerous that thought is and how illogical, the physical destruction of my body having been so clear. Yet, there was a point not very long ago in therapy where I so desperately wanted my anorexia back, because it would have been safe, and not so much too much. With anorexia, I wasn’t too much and nothing was too much. (Except food, of course!) I was encased in a safe, protected place, and I felt nothing but its power, voice and drive. My emotions and my body made no more demands.

With anorexia I could be certain in the knowledge I was starving, punishing, weakening, enough to atone for what my abuser told me I was, enough to avoid the damnation I thought I otherwise deserved, enough to ensure I was not a threat. Enough to satisfy my abuser.  And even years after I had got away from her, I thought perhaps anorexia could take me back to that one time where it had seemed she wanted me, seemed through a child’s eyes that perhaps she loved me, the one time I wasn’t bad, where I was so weakened she took total control. That would be totally safe.

I was never cared for by her. Total control stood in for care instead. The closest thing to care and safety for me was my total self-destruction, total physical weakness, allowing her to take total control of me. My BMI was about 13. I was in unbearable pain in my back and legs. I could just barely walk with crutches and had to spend a lot of time in bed. She took control literally of my movements, my food, my use of the bathroom and toilet, my washing, my dressing and undressing, my weighing (any action that could have and should have been private, she invaded) my contact with other people (even the doctors who wanted to help me, whom she prevented me seeing most of the time). Telling me what I was thinking, telling me what I was doing to the family, telling me what to say, total control – but this total control was the only time that the terrible powers and terrible intentions she told me I had, seemed to cease. My body and my mind ceased to make demands and I succumbed to her totally. This was the only safe place. The rest of the time I lived in fear of what I would do to her or the family and of her terrible threats coming true.

Paradoxically, at other times my anorexia gave me something that was nevertheless mine. It was my anorexia and my body. I think I’ve written before how when she had me strip in front of the mirror, a fierce voice in my head said, this is my body and you will never touch me again, and I resolved to lose as much more weight as I could.

That determination and angry strength was unusual. It was more about cutting off. Later, I stayed as numbed and weakened as I could. Long after I was out of the anorexic weight range, physically safe, I continued to punish myself. Starving. Vomiting. Cutting. Overdose. On the outside, I could do what was required and expected. I achieved. I was together, doing what they required in terms of education and work. Again, that was safe, because I was doing what was required, my dangerous emotions were numbed, my atonement continued. Until I imploded. Everything went to pieces.

As everything fragmented, numb was no longer sure and safe. I desired the end and wanted to end my life. At the same time, my child voice that I had suppressed so successfully for so long, was screaming and desperately needed to be cared for. This was explosively dangerous. My abuser’s threats about what I was would come true; they’d be proved to be true for all to see. The evil in me would explode out of control, if I could no longer punish and weaken myself. I would cause unlimited hurt to others without even seeing it myself, but everyone else knowing the evil I was. I would never be cared for (ie in someone’s total control).

Straight away, the rejections began. (Again. Just as I’d been rejected when I had needs and sought help as a child – terrified what my abuser’s reaction would be; my father not knowing what was going on, so not protecting me.) I was not under my abuser’s control any more, but there was no care for me, no one to protect me, and the few people I trusted were not there for me. The pressures – I don’t know if consciously or not – piled on me made it very clear I am a disappointment, not good enough, not what they need me to be, that they will only accept me as long as I am moving in the direction they think I should be at the pace they have dictated.

I cannot silence the needs any more. Anger boiled out of control, hurt screamed. Going through therapy, the feelings intensified. There was no way back to the protection my eating disorder had given me. Now, when I write about how it worked and why I wanted my eating disorder back, I am horrified. I am horrified at the power my abuser had over me and how I allowed her to have it and how that made me feel safe.

I will never receive now the care I did not receive when I was a child being abused. I will never receive again the closest thing I knew to care, the total submission to another person and control by them. Terrible as that was, I feel as though I will never be sure, as I could for a brief time be then when I was totally dependent on her, that I am not the bad, evil thing I had been taught that I am.

With the loss of all my coping mechanisms, including stopping self-harming and stopping overdosing, as I have somehow by the grace of God managed not to do in the past few weeks, it does feel more dangerous. I don’t know how to find any reassurance, internal or external. My feelings, my emotions, experiences, feel so out of control and dangerous. I am no longer my abuser’s child. I am no longer what my family requires. I will never have the care and security I did not have as a child, nor will I have the safety unconditional acceptance would give, because I do not have that now that I’m no longer what they require. I don’t yet know how to exist without these things.

Part of me grieves for the loss of the eating disorder and mechanisms that kept me safe, because stupid and twisted as it sounds, they did at least protect me; despite the harm they caused, they protected me from ending my life, and though it was fairly illusory, they gave me the closest thing I had experienced to being cared for.

****

I should say that I think that another important part of the safety issue in therapy is coping between sessions with the emotions that have come up in sessions. Also, the impact that this disorder and the recovery process has across your life. Until very recently having the help of my support worker, I struggled badly with the social isolation that followed the loss of many important relationships, and the “domino effect” of all the material stability in my life falling away because of the financial problems caused by losing job after job and my erratic spending when I was out of control. Struggling with this at the same time as my emotions were going out of control anyway, my desperation for help increasing but being unheard by everyone I tried to get help from and had been led to believe I could trust, brought me very much too close to the edge. My support worker has greatly contributed to my safety now.

Ginny xxx

Slipping through our fingers

There have been several cases in the news recently, in particular two this week, of children suffering unfathomable cruelty at the hands of their parents / caregivers. Much has and will be made of the failings on the part of social services and social workers. How could the horrors and suffering go unnoticed and why were concerns not followed up, staff nor taking a more joined up approach, so the children could slip through the net?

I don’t doubt that there certainly were failings in the services. I’m not denying that. I can’t imagine the guilt the workers involved in those two cases are feeling right now. I’ve suffered myself and so did my mother and so have several other people I care about, because of failings in the organisations that should give support and protection, which let us fall through the net without intervention in times of crisis and without promised follow up or communication across different services. Sometimes the services involved have seem totally unaware of the harm this causes and unwilling to take responsibility. That hurts even more. Fortunately I have never suffered anything approaching what the children in this week’s cases did.

I’m not trying to deny that there were failings and I don’t want to hurt anyone who has been through similar experiences. However I think the somewhat understandable jump to publicise the blame attributed to the social workers and agencies masks some important points.

First, the perpetrators of the terrible abuse the children suffered were their mothers, father’s and family members. That’s the greatest horror. It is terrifying that as humans we are capable of inflicting such suffering on another, let alone on one of our own family or our own child. It’s particularly horrific that a mother can do this to her own child. It so negates every good and nurturing thing a mother is. It means no relationship and no home is immune to evil actions and absence of love.

Secondly, that is such a frightening fact and we want to know why. How and why can a person do that? What does that mean about what’s possible? About our human race? That sounds like an overly broad concept really. But I think it shakes us. Can we conceive that our world is one where what should be the safest and most protective relationship, mother and child,  is used to inflict fear and hurt and pain?  We don’t want to. We at least need some explanation. It’s easier to label the failing of a particular social worker or agency, because that we can understand. That we can name. What brought the abusers to use their own children that way, we can’t.

Thirdly – and this is something that’s hard to explain but significant to me as a survivor of childhood abuse – these horrific abuses can and do happen in secret and undetected. Trying to come to terms with what happened to me and questioning over and over whether the things I can remember done to me are true, I’ve often doubted myself and told myself it must have been my fault or I must be mad and inventing it all, because at the time nobody else realised what was going on and nobody intervened and people thought my family was normal (er okay maybe not but they didn’t often suspect the full truth). These two tragic cases in this week’s news show the awful fact that abuse much worse than what I suffered can indeed continue in secret. Therein lies the abuser’s power to control, manipulate and deny.

Fourthly, no more resources are coming for social workers and care and protection teams at the moment. The little glimpses I’ve seen from my work in hospitals, psychiatric services, care teams and so on has shown me loud and clear that there simply are not enough hours in the day and not enough people on the ground to have the contact and communication and time to spend directly with children, families, patients in need,  as well as following the ever more extensive proformas and completing paperwork that is required to meet the rules and regulations (which are supposed to ensure good care is happening but at the same time take you away from doing it).

This is no new or ground breaking feeling. I think most people in nursing or caring services have been saying this for years. But it’s still frighteningly swept under the carpet and denied by those in power. When I worked in a service that supported teenagers and young adults with mental health needs and social support needs, I would take the minutes of clinical team meetings. In one such meeting, changes to documentation for care planning and recording were being introduced, which would require nursing staff to (a) spend much longer away from patients, sitting at computers completing databases and reports and (b) in many cases require nursing staff to spend already limited professional development time on training in IT packages, not in patient care.  Of course, the aim of all these whizz new care planning systems was supposed to be a magical improvement in compliance with regulations about good care. However, nobody could answer who was going to be delivering the care during the time that the already over stretched nurses were completing the compliance paperwork. I wonder whether there’s a box in the risk assessment screen to record the increased risk caused by the fact the nurses and carers are filling in the [expletive deleted] risk screen instead of assessing the patients? 😉 Time and time again there was no answer to this impossibility. In that meeting, one or two nurses directly asked, how in the same shift with the same staff,  were they to fit in their work with their patients, as well as completing the new compliance activities being introduced. How could they do both? Which was to go when the time ran out? In my eyes the response was appalling. The nurses were told that was an unacceptable attitude to display and there was simply no choice and the compliance work was to be done. This came from a senior clinician who I had greatly respected and her response was totally at odds with her usual very reflective approach. Of course I don’t know the history with that particular member of staff who asked the questions and perhaps there was more to it than that, but there seemed a forced denial of the impossibility of continuing to provide good care and the level of presence on the ground with those we are caring for,  which is so important if we are to prevent tragedies like the children who slip through the net where abuse and suffering goes undetected.

I left the service I mentioned because more and more changes were taking clinicians, and support staff like myself, away from being able to maintain the personal contact with patients.  (I’ve since regretted leaving, I’ll admit.) Clinicians left too, at least in part due to stress and sadness around similar issues. They were a great loss to their patients, in my opinion.

A little later I worked a temp cover role as a secretary for the legal team that supported my local county council’s child protection services. Round about this time I thought about training as a social worker. I didn’t in the end. I thought I’d find far too many situations where my hands were tied and too many times bureaucracy stopped me doing the good that was needed.

….

I cry for the children that suffered and for those who so want to be present on the ground to help those at risk but who are taken away and whose voices are silenced when they highlight the lack of resources and impossibility of meeting the demands of keeping children safe in the field, and complying with everything that’s supposed to be ensuring children’s safety. One thing is sure and that’s that it is far too easy to be silenced – again both in the case of the victims and the carers pointing out the shortage of resources to help them. Let’s keep on speaking out.

Ginny xxx

Not that girl

Alert for stupid self indulgent sad post :/

I wrote this post a few days ago. It’s a struggle to admit to these feelings and to how it’s hurting me. It’s one of those times I feel so childish and needy and that I should just get over it. I’m taking a risk and posting this and maybe I’ll see what happens and see what you think. Maybe it’ll help me let it go too.

….

I’m trying to accept that my ex has got married. That though he left me saying the thought of marriage made him want to run, and he never wanted children and had no understanding of the meaning of marriage or the idea of being open to having children, he didn’t want the changes to his life that a relationship would bring, he didn’t want the personal social or financial implications – despite all this he now has a wife and two young step daughters and an extended step family and he’s arranging his wife and daughters’ immigration to the UK.

Everything he told me he wanted and believed he now has the opposite. He was so utterly against having children and he now has two. He was against any change or disruption to his routine but he’s maintaining a transcontinental marriage and arranging all the immigration process and naturally bringing his new family to his home, which will completely change every part of his life. And so on.

At the same time as I learnt this I learnt he saw me as a financial drain. He resented the slightest extra expense he saw our relationship (ie me) as causing, even a taxi or bus fare because with my disabilities I couldn’t walk everywhere as he would. He thought I drove his friends away and cost him his friends and lodgers  (at one point I along with two other people rented rooms in the house he owned and we did not always get along and there were arguments and as my and his relationship progressed ams so did that of one of the other lodgers with her boyfriend, she moved out). He resented time I wanted us to spend together. He was more and more angry if I wanted to try to build the emotional side of our relationship or pray together.

I don’t think there was anything good for him in the relationship apart from the physical side. He admitted he was physically drawn to me and had been for some time before our relationship started, and that he continued to be since. That terrified me. And I felt used too. That he resented anything emotional or spiritual and saw me as a drain and source of anger, yet had some physical want for me. I feel revulsion the two are separated and disgust at myself that I was so repulsive to him as a person but there to be taken physically. No we didn’t go “all  the way” or go against our faith’s teaching but there was intimacy and it is enough to terrify me. I don’t understand it properly yet. Perhaps it’s something to do with my childhood abuser’s hate of me but control and use of my body.

Anyway. … it’s also harder to accept because I found out the lady he has married has been a close friend and correspondent of his for over 10 years, that is to say well before my relationship with him began. I knew of her and thought she was an occasional penfriend. I didn’t know the depth of their friendship. I don’t think he was unfaithful but all the bonds that were lacking in my relationship with him were there between him and her all along. Everything he resented and wanted to run from with me, like time spent together or having children, he had and wanted with her. So it felt like it was so clearly me that he wanted to run from, not the things themselves.

It’s ironic that I found all this out at a time I was already thinking that my mental health had greatly affected my relationship with him (my Borderline was not yet diagnosed at the time). I had been planning in any case to tell him about my diagnosis because I did already feel responsible for a lot of why our relationship failed, because of my emotional instability, crying, anger, intense need of his presence and reassurance. So what I found out should have come as no surprise. Yet it is still a shock.

I’m not that girl. I’m not the right person to share his life or bring him joy. She’s got him. She always had him really. I am glad for them. I am happy for them and for the stability they will share. Despite his resentment for me I still feel an ache and painful sadness when I think of us or hear of them. Despite how much he disliked me, basically, and how little it seems we shared from his point of view, in my heart I can’t accept we didn’t share anything genuine in our companionship.  Then again it seems we didn’t from his point of view. There is not going to be an answer to that really.

I told a trusted friend about how I’m feeling and what my ex has now told me about our relationship. She said he sounds like a complete jerk. And the thing is, reading this,listening  to me, perhaps you would think that. But I don’t think he is. A lot of the time I was with him he acted understanding and kind and generous. That was partly why it was such a shock when we broke up. He was committed to his work and the church and gave a lot of help to several people in need. It was only when we broke up, and then now as I’ve found out about the wedding and his wife and daughters and he’s admitted what he actually thought of me, that I feel both used and guilty he resented me so much. It feels like nothing I thought we shared was genuine somehow because all the while he was feeling something totally different from me and totally different from what I thought he was feeling. I don’t want to make out he’s a nasty person. I was so sure he was and is a good person. I’m so confused.

When he brings his new family to the UK, there will be another wedding ceremony over here, and this will be important, as this ceremony will make them married in the Church body as well (at present they have had a civil ceremony in the law of her home country; they have not sealed their vows in the church). I will hear of it, I must be prepared and accept and learn to wish them well. I do wish them well.

I’m not that girl and I must not allow myself any more self indulgent lingering in the pain I’m feeling. There are many questions that won’t be answered. They have found each other as it should be. There is another place for me. I need to give them to the Lord now and keep looking forward to the good relationships that I’m in today and what I can do, not back to the questions and pain I can’t solve.

Ginny xxX

 

A walk and talk with S

I went for coffee with my friend S this morning. We went for a walk along the river, watching the swans, mooched round an antique and bric-a-brac store and a couple of charity shops*,  and had coffee in a sweet cafe with dressers displaying vintage china teasets.

S was my boss in a previous job and we have kept in touch. I have always respected and liked her very much and actually we get on even better now than we did at work. With the exception of my friend L (my goddaughters’ mum) and her immediate family with whom I lived when I needed support years ago, and those work colleagues I get on with but would not yet consider close friends, S is possibly the only friendship I’ve managed to sustain for several years – and I mean a meaningful relationship, sharing honestly how and who you are. It’s a friendship very precious to me. First because I care about S and think she’s a lovely,  interesting, empathic, fun, genuine and… I can’t think of the word. ….she has strong beliefs about what’s right and important and is very dedicated to doing the best by everyone, if that makes sense. When we talk she often brings perspectives I’d never thought of. We share a similar sense of humour. Secondly, it’s precious because she doesn’t judge me. She cares about keeping in touch and continues to share her life and thoughts with me, whether I’m in a good or a bad state with my mental health. She doesn’t judge and doesn’t dismiss me as unable to cope or engage, and doesn’t push me away if there are certain things I’m finding hard or not always able to be “normal”. Thirdly, she doesn’t require me to be in a particular state or way in order for us to be in touch. That is a really rare gift. There are few people I can say that about and that I’d trust as I do her.

I do have the same fears about losing her, being too much for her, harming or hurting her without knowing it, as I do with other people I care about. S and I don’t get to meet that often, maybe every couple of months or so, and it is often in my mind that if we saw more of each other I’d be too much for her just as I have been for everyone else. However my relationship with S seems more stable than most of my other relationships. I’m not sure why. I’ve wondered if it’s because she’s particularly empathic and she has previously worked in mental health, as have I, so she’s very reflective and has also got more understanding than many of us (me included) may be in a position to have about how PD and mental health conditions in general affect us. She’s also older than me. Or I wonder if it’s to do with having come to know her gradually as a boss first. Perhaps all these things help. I think it’s also an important fact that when I’m more ill, she doesn’t treat me as if that makes me useless or not able to participate in anything and she doesn’t require me (implicitly or explicitly) to be in a different state than I am.

I would think some of the difference must be down to me as well, though I do not know what I do differently with her from in relationships I’ve lost and/or discovered they were not at all for the other person what I thought they were – usually because I’ve hurt them or they resented me without knowing. I probably should try to figure out what I do differently!

Anyhow, this was a nice morning after a very sad, low, shaky week. Tomorrow I am going to meet with L and my goddaughters and the family, as it was my eldest goddaughter’s birthday this week. I’m very anxious about the travel there as unfamiliar or unpredictable places, routes, timings and so on are hard for me; I’m also feeling overwhelmed because there will be 8 of us in total. I don’t want to dissociate, get anxious or get upset which could harm the children and spoil it for other people. Whenever I go to something like this, the thought repeats in my head that I must not let my problems take over everything for other people and they need me to be more together. I was once told by someone I care about that this is what I do, when actually I was doing everything I could to hide what I was going through and self harming repeatedly to deaden my feelings. Now it’s a big fear that I ruin everything.

However, the only way forward is to do it. I really care about L and the girls and their family and it’s worth all the anxieties to get to see them and celebrate with them.

It’s a blessed weekend.

Ginny xxx

Sounds and sights of Spring

Sounds and sights of Spring

Today is beautifully sunny and the first really warm day of the year. There are some grape hyacinths in the park near me, stunningly violet,  and some bright yellow tulips. Here’s a picture of some cherry blossom growing near my friend’s place.

It’s funny how strongly sounds and smells trigger memories. I noticed this week that the pigeons are “coo”ing in a particular way they only do on warm days in later Spring and early summer. I remember listening for that outside my window as a child and finding it comforting. Another “nature” experience that brings up memories for me is the faint smell of warm stone outside on really hot days. For me that’s the smell of a couple of very early childhood holidays in France when there were still some good and relaxed times with Dad and when we weren’t so cut off as a family from the outside world.

Spring is coming. No matter how dark it seems the sun is shining there somewhere.

Ginny xxx

Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday

Today in the UK we celebrate Mothering Sunday. I’m wishing good and lovely things to all you mothers and mothers to be out there. Have a blessed and joy filled day. You are special.

It is not an easy day for many of us, myself included, and I’m holding in mind especially everyone who has lost a mother or a child, or who is far from them, through geographical or emotional distance or irreconcilable hurt. I’m praying for you for comfort and some way to heal the longing, a little bit.

Mothering Sunday is a strange day for me. I am never quite sure what to do as my own relationship with my mother is so broken beyond any possible repair I can see, because of the abuse and her feelings towards me, and because it feels as if what I’ve discovered about her in recent years following the abuse has invalidated any previous attempts at a relationship with her.

I’m very fortunate that I have a caring step-mother and that my dad and she are very happy together and constantly busy, sociable, undertaking new things and many creative projects, all of which never happened in the family when my dad and my mother were together. I have three step-siblings and am slowly building more of a relationship in particular with my step-sister. Also, I am fortunate to have what can feel like a mother in a member of a close friend’s family – when I was very unwell and family life was traumatic, I was welcomed and cared for in their family and that is an amazing gift. I’m thankful.

I think that a loving bond between mother and child is needed by each of us at least at some point in our lives.

Happy Mothering Sunday.

Ginny xxx

Punished for hope

Go on then. Smash me into the ground and kick me as hard as you can.

That’s what they do to me.

I was promised “victim support” when I went to the police about the abuse. I was promised support from the victim support team’s specialist CPN and to finally get help with the trauma, flashbacks and PTSD. A phonecall with the CPN was booked in for today by the support team. The police officer who took my statement knew.

I got the call from the CPN who told me she is employed by the same mental health trust as the hospital I’m seen at for my personality disorder. Oh good,  I thought, that should help, shouldn’t it? She’ll know my mental health background and have my records. Wrong! She said that she’d organise support for people who aren’t currently seen in the mental health trust and get them therapy to help them deal with the trauma of what they’d had done to them but because I’m seen in the personality disorder service I’m “already in the most appropriate pathway” and she can’t help me.

But the personality disorder service specifically don’t address trauma and PTSD. The therapy I have there doesn’t deal with flashbacks, memories, hallucinations etc.  It deals with here and now. Which is great and important but leaves all the trauma untouched. I need help with that.

Why am I not allowed that because I have personality disorder, when a victim who does not have personality disorder, would be allowed to access it? Why am I denied help with one condition because I also have another diagnosis? You wouldn’t say to someone who had been in a car accident and fractured their leg as well as aggravating a pre existing back injury, “oh sorry we aren’t going to get a surgeon to set your leg to heal because you’re already being seen in the spine clinic.” So why is it deemed okay to deny me victim support because I have BPD?

The CPN said I should make a list of all my unmet needs and take it to my appointment with the psychiatrist next week. Oh my days have I not already begged for help with all the “unmet needs”! She just didn’t seem to grasp that the personality disorder service simply do not address the PTSD area. Which in itself is fair enough, it’s a specialist PD service – but it’s not okay if you’re denied access to other specialist services!

Why was I promised psychological help from this victim support team and this CPN if this is the outcome?! Everyone knew I am being seen in the PD service.

Then the CPN said oh they just don’t offer this help in the community teams. Yes and don’t you think I know, after fighting for 15 years plus. … and that’s why it’s speed to be coming from her!

This is yet another kick and yet another betrayal. Yet another thing I held on to snatched away. Yet another desperate hope gone. Yet another trick, this time effectively from the police, it feels like, though it isn’t the officer’s fault, he was nothing but supportive and this victim support team is separate…. but this is the last hope of people believing me and allowing me any help. And it’s now gone.

It’s absolutely proved everything my mother threatened. People would think the fault was hers, if they ever found out, and they’d take her away. Nobody would imagine a child could do all this. But really she’d know and I’d know that it was my fault all along, and what I’d done (and how evil I am, the voices add). I told. They found out. They think the fault is hers. But I must remember, the voices say, really it’s me all along, really I don’t deserve anything because I’m so evil. It’s confirmed it. 

It’s the hardest kick and tightest grip of the terror and memories again.

I was promised support when I went ahead to make the statement. Now I’m left and left more raw than before. I don’t regret doing it but can’t cope and I’m not okay and I’m not safe.

To top it all off I called the personality disorder service to be told there are no calls back today because the team have gone on an away day. Shame the voices and flashbacks haven’t gone on an away day. Shame the planning for how much hurt I can cause myself hasn’t.