Sunday, 4 February 2018

the world is a scary place for a woman

Speaking out about physical abuse is hard, I have mentioned, fleetingly about my experience of being made to strip when I was 12. That single act haunted me for over 23 years and now I have had EMDR I’m able to see it for what it was. Abuse. 

The media is so full of the #metoo stories, of brave people who have been abused or affronted by perverse people who don’t grasp the word, ‘no’ and the concept that someone else’s body is not theirs to touch, grope, or even ogle. 

The case of the Presidents’ Ball saw me conflicted - yes these women were treated unfairly, but they were told how to dress before they even turned up to Work. Yes it was wrong, and against every fibre of my being, but as someone who has been independent since the age of 18, there’s no way in hell I could stand for that treatment, but then complain afterwards. 

Perhaps because I speak as an abuse survivor, that taints my view and fuels my feminism towards activism and not tolerating even the everyday sexism that infects our society - I may not have been the coolest kid at the Xmas doo when I loudly accused the DJ of being sexist for asking men to get a bra off women. 

In the case of ‘Grid Girls’ and Darts Ladies losing their jobs because of some new-found political correctness drive - it’s so redundant. These women are losing their jobs because someone at some level feels guilty. Women (and men) who do jobs because they are a bit of eye candy, make that choice. Whether that be as a grid ‘girl’ or a page 3 model. 

The choice to do these jobs is their choice. As a feminist and a woman, I find these jobs demeaning to all women. But the fault lays with the society that created these jobs, decades ago. Women losing their jobs in the name of reducing sexism and objectification really bothers me. It shouldn’t be these women losing their jobs, it should be the idiots who thought it was acceptable in the first place who are held accountable. 

I salute anyone who has experience, who speaks out for what they believe in and who wants a better world. 

Women, do what you want to do. Not because a man forces you to. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

beginning reprocessing using EMDR

By the end of my second introductory session, there were 2 main themes within my flashbacks that the therapist (WA) picked out (I think there are a couple more too). I'm still a little unclear about how many sessions I will be having, but it could be anywhere between 8 and 16 in total. I'm going to discuss sessions 3 and 4. 

It was recommended by WA that I begin reprocessing a flashback and cognition that is less severe, I presume to allow me to get used to the feeling of seeing my thoughts, my visions, flashbacks in a show reel. 

And so we began, I rated how distressing the memory was and I focused on it as WA moved her hand, biro clutched. The key is to observe the feelings, as if you are watching through a window. My mind wandered from one thought, feeling, sensation to the next and I was truly honest... even if my thought was 'I can see myself covered in black tar'. 

I've had EMDR before, for acute trauma caused by a trauma in hospital. I remember sitting there thinking 'what the hellllll? I'm rubbish at this! This isn't working!'. That course helped me and I found that I didn't experience that this time. 

Seeing one thought change into a story, each time, almost a timeline, completely removed from the reality of what happened to me, but also unrelated to my memory. I found myself feeling huge, unrelenting, maternal love for 8 year old me. Wanting to offer help, reassurance and actually giving it, stretching a hand to hold across the 27 year divide. So tangible.  

This has translated into me feeling more compassion, not just for myself and the validity of my childhood trauma but also for my children. (Although, the punitive voice that whispers, 'you're never good enough' is still there). 

I'm really optimistic for the rest of the course, because i have had a few big lightbulb moments, where I have acted differently, or suffered a massive flashback and reacted with 'I was beautiful, and yet I was made to feel like a worthless piece of shit by those who should have loved me.' 

Apologies that this is more of s brain dump rather than a beautifully formatted post, but I wanted to get the essence of the experience out of my head without disturbing the memories.

 I shall keep you posted - post therapy blues are warded off by going to the gym straight after. A good rowing sesh seems to focus my kind on something real, leaving my mind to whirr away. Like a cake. Therapy makes the batter, pops it in the oven and I go to the gym and keep the oven door closed until the cake is fully ready. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

EMDR - the first 2 sessions

I have wanted EMDR for my childhood trauma for over a year, and I've recently come to the realisation that I'm not trying to fix myself, I'm not broken. I adapted to survive age 8-18 in an inhospitable and downright miserable household and I survived, not unharmed but I survived, in spite of it. 

I'd managed to learn to live well by my 30th birthday, but now, being a mum triggers all of my pain, fear, memories, regrets and feelings: that I am never good enough and that I'm always under attack.

The first 2 sessions have meant me discussing my previous (plentiful!) therapy history and then... my flashbacks. The visions that come into my memory and hurt, informing my present but also picking at the wounds. I also revealed that I basically thought that some of it was my own fault, which was a very upsetting realisation. 

For the longest time I thought my upbringing was NORMAL for someone with 5 siblings. My mum and stepdad normalised my existence by telling me it was what was to be expected. 

Obviously, discussing my most upsetting and formative memories has opened up an old would. I suppose like a badly broken arm has to be aligned and reset under general anaesthetic, my memories are going to be realigned, into less upsetting, harmful ones. They will still have happened, but hopefully they won't flash up at me. 

Sadly, there is no emotional equivalent of a general anaesthetic. I can't be numbed, I can't lie on a coma in-between sessions, awaiting a magical time when I am *better*. So I keep on living, doing, loving, trying not to be a bitch, despite the ongoing pain. 

My therapist has used the EMDR technique to embed a 'safe place' which is really weird to experience. But it is good - although not usable when your 4 year old is moaning 'my legs arrre tyyy-urrrd' at 9am 

So please, bear with me whilst I feel sorry for myself some more. I really think it will help. 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Punishment, anger, smacking.

I refuse to smack, slap or physically punish my children to deliberately cause pain, shame or other dark emotions. 

I can understand why some may feel that physical punishment is justifiable:
 'I was smacked, I'm ok', 
'I smacked my kids, they're fine', 
'I smack them because it's a way of deterring them from putting themselves in danger' (y'know. They run into the road, younpill them back and give them a clip round'ear'ole).

My replies:
I was smacked, but I was also hit. I am not ok because of it.
Smacking was a deterrent, but I was a bloody good child. 
I smacked my brothers and sisters. In anger. That was not acceptable and C, D, C and J, I am eternally sorry. I was a child myself and you were left in my care. I'm sorry that I smacked you. It was what I had seen, it was all i knew. I hated myself for it.

And that's the thing. I cannot trust myself when I'm angry. It's like electricity running all over my body. I need to lash out but I know if I do, I won't stop. If I smacked one of the boys, i would cross a line that I know would break me. 

I'm not here to preach either side of the smacking argument, though I am inclined to believe the research that smacking disrupts child development, trust, etc. 

I have anger issues, I hate my anger and it doesn't go away if I scream into a pillow. Rage begets more rage. I can punch my bed, slam doors. Nothing helps, except time. 


Sunday, 9 July 2017


I didn't even begin to realise I had a traumatic childhood until I had counselling during the worst of my PND. 

I guess that's sort of part of the process, how the mind deals with hardships. It rationalises, acts like they didn't happen. 

I'm at a point where I'm not sure where my PTSD ends and I begin:

Intrusive memories - these have always been there but nowadays are triggered by moments in parenting the boys.

Avoiding thinking about things that happened to me. 

Issues with falling asleep.

Depression, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, low self esteem, low mood, self loathing. 

Feeling under attack. Always on high alert, running on adrenaline - and easily startled. 

I have reached a stage where I don't feel that I'm worthy. I feel like I should have been better able to cope. That people in war zones get ptsd, not the children of crap parents. 

I need to mourn for my lost childhood. The childhood lost to the mother who verbally abused me,
 neglected me emotionally, 
abandoned me for sometimes hours on end with between 3 and 5 children from the age of 10.
 She made me believe that I wasn't good enough, so absolutely that I still feel compelled to prove that I am. 

I don't know whether EMDR will help me. But I know that the prospect of spending more years endlessly feeling like I am scared is not worth thinking about. 

I'll keep my fingers crossed 


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

looking back at the roads I've travelled

I've finished CBT for my anxiety today. 12 sessions and 'sha-zam!' I'm anxiety free... well, not quite. Far from it, but at this important point in my journey I feel that it's important to see how far I have come, on a day to day level.

I wrote about learning to see my anxiety and I do, even more so. I catch myself mid-worry and then see 

What the worry is
Is it real?
Is there any evidence for my thoughts?
Can I do anything about it now?
Can I send it away? 

This is my mental version of The Worry Tree. A diagram which is a bit lame to be honest. It's more of a flowchart that someone drew a tree around. 

I journal and make lists - I am aiming for almost daily 'worry 15' where I can let my worries run around and I can sort them out. 

I'm less afraid of things that are imaginary - like 'what's the worst that could happen?' Isn't always a helpful question, but an 'is it likely? Is it the end of the world?' Check is pretty helpful.

I can see my intolerance of uncertainty: I can't control people, life, animals, ANYTHING! However, I've always really clung to the idea that anxiety makes everything work better for me. 

It doesn't! Preparing for the worst and imagining all the worst things made me miserable for the last 17 years. 

So I am actually better, anxiety-wise, finishing therapy is hard, it's making me feel low and sad and rejected. Probably the EUPD part of my mind.

I see now that my anxiety stems from intolerance of uncertainty and I wrote it a letter early in 2016 . It sprang up when my entire life stopped making sense: my mum and stepdad were shit, my dad and stepmum were shit, my boyfriend had dumped me and my two best friends had to resit year 12/ lower sixth. 
I had no one at school, no one at home, with the love for my siblings and a lot of praying to survive. 

I'm amazing. I've lived with GAD for years, undiagnosed, unrecognised. I have a career, a family and a husband. And friends. 

I'm not in that place I was in, but I'm glad I can see why it all started. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

big boys don't cry... WTF?

Yesterday, whilst having his feet measured in Clarks, the kind assistant asked how N got such a large bump on his forehead. He said 'at the park'. She asked whether he cried, 'yes' he replied. 

'Oh, I thought you were a big boy' she said. Bloody hell! I quickly added 'it's ok to cry when you're hurting. It's ok for anyone to cry'.

For context, the injury is above, it was a massive bloody bump on his forehead. Anyone would cry!

Boys cry, girls cry, men and women cry. Please, if you deal with children in your work, don't enforce gender stereotypes upon small children.