Flashbacks…

Due to the trauma I have experienced in my second marriage, and throughout my life, I have been diagnosed with complex PTSD. My second marriage is responsible for the brunt of the issues, but I allowed that relationship to continue due to unresolved issues from my past. Anyway, I have flashbacks, not all the time but often enough. The triggers are anything, or nothing. I think this aspect is one of the worst of PTSD because it can trigger a panic attack at any given moment. I am then left feeling vulnerable and out of control, which is not what any PTSD sufferer needs.

One of my most common flashbacks is to when my now ex kicked in the bathroom door on me. We had been arguing for several hours, about nothing because all the arguments are about nothing. At this point I usually just take the screaming at, occasionally throw in my own retort, and wait for the switch to flip and the remorse to set in. But lately, things have not been going that way. He has been raging for longer periods of time than usual. What was once an hour is now half the day. He is becoming more aggressive, more explosive, scarier.

 

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On this particular day, I told him I was done fighting for the moment and needed a break. I told him I was going to the bathroom to compose myself and just take a break. I went into the bathroom, closed and locked the door. I sat on the toilet and just cried. Within a minute he had followed me upstairs, and screamed from the other side, “We’re done talking when I say we are done talking, and you’re gonna listen to me God damnit!” He then kicked in the door, and continued screaming at me, berating me. I almost vomited from the anxiety.

To this day, everytime I close a bathroom door, I flashback.  Every. single. time. Sometimes are worse than others, but every time I visually recall that moment when he kicked in the door on me and showed me once again I was the bird trapped in the cage and I was not going to escape if it was up to him. Some day I know these flashbacks will stop, and I long for that day, but for now, I am where I am, and it is going to be ok.

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The Little Victories….

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I have learned on my short-lived journey little victories are going to lead me to the ultimate success. In leaving the abusive relationship I was in for 7.5 years, I have found just how much I need to fix in my life, and just how difficult it can be to do so. I have to fix my credit, reduce my debt, increase my income, all while working my current job, and juggling three kids, and let’s not forget all the court it entails to leave a marriage with kids, and keep those kids (and myself) safe in the process. I have also learned I am stronger than I give myself credit for, I can rely on people for help, and it IS GOING TO BE OK.

Yesterday was a tumultuous one. Actually the whole week has been a roller coaster (see yesterday’s post). On Sunday, I filled out an application for an apartment where the leasing agent assured me she would do everything in her power to get me in and my situation was nothing new, and she herself had been there. I got them all the necessary paperwork by Monday, and waited. I called the next day, nothing….the day after, nothing…finally on Thursday the leasing agent actually answered my call. “Oh, I’m sorry but the manager said no, and I pretty much cannot do anything.” I asked about the possibility of paying a large deposit, or even paying a full year up-front (borrowing the money from family and paying them back monthly instead of paying the rental office). She turned it down…yes, CASH, rejected. I was speechless, which is probably a good thing for this leasing agent.

So yesterday I was hunting again, and mind you, while I am apartment hunting, I am NOT WORKING, and thus LOSING MONEY. So basically yesterday was a frantic journey. At the end of the day, I secured an apartment, and the kids and I will be in a safe, clean, quiet, neighborhood that is in the same school zone as what we need. So there incompetent leasing agent, I don’t need you anyway. I count that as my small victory. I can now focus on working, getting through the impending trial and protective order hearing (trial because my soon-to-be ex broke the emergency protective order six times from jail 30 minutes after being served).

I am now checking off the list ‘find place to live,’ and moving every item up a notch in the priority scale. A top priority is finding a job that is Administrative, which is what I do now, but not independently contracted. I need to establish reliable, stable income, hopefully with benefits. But I am not frantic, since I do have a job. I can relax a bit, and not feel that sense of urgency, that impending doom. For far too long that has been my feeling every moment of every day.

Being married to an abusive, narcissistic person drains you of all your hopes and dreams. It leaves you a shell of the person you were. My children are excited because fun mom is back. She is still strict and has lots of rules, but she is not as anxious and on edge as abusive relationship mom. I can take a deep breath, and let the energy course through my body, without fear that an emotional, mental vampire is going to rob me blind. That is a victory.

Relish every victory in life, because the smallest ones can yield the biggest results. I have a big mountain to climb, but I am not climbing it alone, and I have surpassed some of the roughest points. I can feel the refreshing air in my lungs, and I can see the peak. When I get there, be ready, because I intend to scream from the mountain top that I have arrived.

Domestic Violence…Find Your Freedom.

Domestic violence has many faces. It includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, controlling behavior, fear mongering. It can be a husband, father, mother, daughter, or any other family member. The face of domestic violence is every face. Every person you see in the world could potentially be a victim of domestic violence. I have learned a great deal about this issue over the last several years, but the most in the last couple months.

I have endured domestic violence over the last 7.5 years. As have my children, and even my family pets. I spent too many years with a man who abused me mentally, physically, emotionally, and left me feeling like a caged bird. The worst part, I have been blaming myself the last 7.5 years, for choosing this person and not seeing how damaged, and damaging, he is inside. I became numb to his abuse, because I viewed it as a temporary issue. I believed he would change, because after the rage he would profess to want to change. I believed if I could keep the waters calm, the rage would fade away. I was wrong. The stormy sea is inside him, and no matter what I do, it will be there until he is ready to do what it takes to calm the tumultuous waters himself.

I believed I could love him better. If I could show him unconditional love and support, he would heal. In the process, I ceased to provide my own self with the unconditional love and support I was giving to him. I focused so much on caring for him, I neglected myself. I abused myself, and thus, he abused me too. I valued myself so little, that I accepted this behavior, because I valued him enough to endure his abuse in an effort to help him get better. Why would I do such a thing? Simple, it is my comfort zone. Now, I know what you’re thinking, here is where she blames her parents for everything. No no, no assigning blame. BUT, I will assign responsibility where it belongs.

I have been diagnosed with complex PTSD. While it has existed most of my life, the brunt of it came from my abusive marriage. My therapist stopped me when I boarded the blame train, and started heading towards myself with it, full boar. He said I chose what felt familiar, whether it was good for me or not. He said, after a lifetime of traumatic experiences, it is what my mind knows, and where it feels most comfortable, and thus, because I have these issues, I would gravitate towards what feels familiar. So now what? Well, lots of therapy, that is what. I have to rewire my brain, my impulses. I have to retrain myself to accept positive, healthy relationships, and not be drawn to unhealthy, neglectful, abusive ones.

So how did I know now was the time? Well, I did not. My credit is awful, my income is unstable, and my life does not feel as though I am in a place to take on the world by myself….with three kids. But, I became more afraid of staying than I was of leaving. He was escalating to a point that I feared for my safety, and my children’s well-being. I became more afraid of the familiar than I was of the unknown. I called the police, and did what I needed to in order to have him removed from the home.

 

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Now, I am doing something I have feared more than anything in my world, asking for help. I am asking anyone and everyone who will help me, to help. Support, safety, stable employment, whatever people offer, I openly accept that which I need. I have let my guard down, and let the positive influences in, because I cannot do this alone. It takes a village to raise a child, and I have three. So I have alerted my village that I need their help. Something that has always terrified me, because of my childhood. But I am finding the more I ask, and receive, the better things are working out. The universe is showing me I am doing the right thing. This road is rocky, uncertain, and damn scary. But scarier is staying in an abusive relationship going nowhere healthy….fast.

My journey is still moving forward, one step at a time.