Breaking the Spell

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A hard session this week in counselling, more dissociation, more scared parts and for me, more confusion. But for the first time I felt a bit of progress. I don’t know why I felt like that and I know that progress is a difficult thing to measure as everyone is different,  but I felt a small piece of strength within.

The darkest of thoughts still exist but they are thoughts and thoughts only, I gave my word to Laura that I feel too strong at the moment for them to turn into actions and I know she trusts my word with that.

But these thoughts certainly eat away at you though with their constant “you are not good enough, you don’t deserve life, you’re useless, you’re worthless” etc. That’s very hard when you know that it’s yourself telling yourself that. Stupid bloody self!!

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I wish I could contribute better through these forums and help and inspire people as others so brilliantly do but my writing is not strong enough to do so. With that I wanted to say a thank you out to those who I read who are able to write very bravely, frankly and selflessly.

If I take a look around, a really good look around I am and always will be very fortunate and grateful for that which I have. For that which I’ve lost and of which causes massive pain I know I have to work on you and I know you’ll try your hardest to break me apart, but you haven’t managed to just yet.

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Love is stronger than death

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So it’s been quite a few weeks since my last post, a couple of people mentioned this to me recently – my wife and my counsellor and the reasons why there was a lull.

This blog I started as an outlet for myself and myself only, almost just a way of putting some of my feelings and emotions down in writing and putting some questions out there which I’ve never necessarily wanted answers for – but I wanted to ask them. That probably sounds very selfish with regards writing this for my benefit and myself only but I’m not a selfish person at all, I’m just very guarded and emotionally at the moment, I’m broken.

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My guard is up, my defenses are very high and I am back to thinking mainly of myself and my recovery.  My tolerance is very low and I will not be made out to be an idiot by anyone, especially by people I know very well. Whatever you think I deserve, I don’t deserve to be treated like an idiot.

I battle most days to just present as a normal person, someone who isn’t damaged, someone who isn’t hurt, someone who’s parts aren’t fragmented and scattered all over and as some of you will know, it’s exhausting physically and mentally to do that.

So some very difficult decisions to be made very soon but this time I will be making them with myself in mind, my survival and my well-being. I have reached a time and a place where I have to do this now and some recent events have made some decisions a lot clearer for me to make.

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All a bit cryptic I know but things will make a lot more sense soon and then I can hopefully move from this fork in the road and continue on some kind of road, to some kind of recovery, if there ever is one.

I am slowly beginning to understand and accept how abuse will probably define my whole life, in fact Laura said to me today “You need to work on acceptance very hard rather than denial to try to move forward now”.

I’m just not certain I’m strong enough for acceptance right now.

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Where are you now?

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I took a short break from writing to give myself a bit of time to adjust after returning home. I’m now well over 7 weeks back home and settling back ok, social services have also now closed their case against me and I am once again allowed unsupervised access with my children which I had been denied for over a year now.

I think that to an outsider, you would probably assume that given everything that has happened over the last year to me, coming home and being allowed normal access with your own children would be a joyous and wonderful occasion. A celebration almost, a healing of everything that has gone before and a resolution of all pain.

And partly it is a celebration, playing with my children in my own home again gives me immense joy, just sitting and being able to eat dinner with my wife is a pleasure again,  but there’s still a big part inside of me that knows that’s not even enough to heal my trauma.

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I explained to my counsellor that one day recently I sat out in my garden watching my 4 year old daughter play. I watched her talk to herself, smile and laugh as she made sandcastles and an amazing feeling of love and pride overcome me. But likewise there was also an overwhelming sadness and emptiness inside of me. A feeling that I knew meant that even at this moment in time watching my daughter play, I could have easily walked away from this all and never returned.

It’s such a tragic battle between that unconditional love and the complexities of an empty and depressed part of me because of childhood abuse. When you feel that your own beautiful children may not even be able to save you, that is a hard thing to try to understand.

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My counselling over the last few sessions has reveled various “parts” of me that need attention and healing also, some of which I have been informed regularly hijack my sessions for small periods of time to say their bit. I lose track of time and space at those moments and it’s both frustrating and scary, like a lot of trauma victims I like to retain control of situations where possible so I am not feeling too vulnerable.  I need some harmony between my parts apparently which, with my sane head on, is as mental as it sounds!

As my counsellor Laura has said to me “you’re a complex case” which has resulted in her securing another 12 sessions together for starters, although she’s already made clear it will require a lot more work.

At least no-one can ever say my life was boring eh?!!

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The doors of perception

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Its world mental health day – you’ll know that of course if you’re at all affected or know someone who is. The chances are you will know someone who is affected and suffering as apparently 1 in 4 of us will suffer at sometime in our lives. That’s a lot of people.

I thought about myself today and how I’m feeling on a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being as low as you can be, 10 being in tip-top mental form. I classify myself today as a 5. I’m middle of the road, muddling along, neither being too down or really being on top of things.

But I’m happy with being a 5 to be honest, a 5 is manageable for me and I’m working on not creeping backwards but creeping upwards with a 6 in mind as my goal for the remainder of the year.

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After a 2 week break from seeing my counsellor Laura we had a session last Thursday which was a nice, gentle catch up session. In fact Laura said she didn’t want to get too heavy as we will be having another break this week as she is away on a course – she asked me if I was OK with that and said she would change the course date if necessary (which was lovely of her to ask but I’m happy she is on a course bettering herself). She also told me that I am currently at week 8 in a 12 week program but because of the complexities of my case she has already secured an additional 12 weeks for me which was so lovely to hear.

We chatted some more about the whole police investigation with regards myself, the court process I found myself in, the lack of recognition in the “system” of a dissociative disorder and the inability of anyone in the system to think anything other than “his stories don’t quite add up so therefore he must be lying and clearly guilty”.

For the first time Laura admitted to me she had been extremely frustrated for me during my investigation and had found some of the treatment and comments by the police, social services and courts to be borderline abusive themselves. As one example, the police knowing that I had been raped as a child multiple times have never offered any support, they have never asked me if I want to make any kind of complaint, they have never asked me if I want them to investigate further or doing anything for me.

Laura and I both find that very odd.  If a child walked into a police station today and explained he/she thought they had been raped multiple times you can’t tell me the police would do nothing at all or offer no support?

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That probably sounds likes sour grapes of course with me having been investigated by the police. But having that deeply personal knowledge about someone and doing nothing at all with it as a public protector – that doesn’t seem right to me.

Why am I mentioning this again? Well in my gentle session last Thursday we kind of came full circle again to one of my original questions to Laura about being abused and not speaking out about it sooner – What if no-one believes me? What if having told people, no-one does or can do anything? I have always felt petrified of the reaction I would get and at the moment I still feel very justified in feeling that way having disclosed a lot now and receiving very little help and support.

Please look after yourselves, everyday of course it goes without saying,  but hopefully more people in the world today will just be that little bit more aware of the daily, weekly and yearly battles we face up to and try our best to conquer and overcome.

Stay safe.

Joe

 

 

A Liquid Mind

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Graphic Warning – some possible triggering descriptions

So it’s been just over 2 weeks now since I returned to my family home after an absence of over 10 months. I thought I may get a huge initial surge of “my god I don’t want to be here”, but that hasn’t happened.

For anyone who hasn’t read through my other posts, my family home holds an extra special place in my heart for being the home when, aged 10, I moved in with my parents, brother and sister.  We lived together at this property from 1983 for 14 years together and from age 10 I had a wonderful, exciting and relatively normal childhood. My Mum, Dad, Brother, Sister and I left the house in 1997. So many happy, happy memories contained within those walls, bedrooms and gardens.

There were demons as well, a suicide attempt which my mind had locked far far away but was awoken again when, with my own family, we moved back into the property in 2016. There were also memories awoken of being kept silent and having no voice. Not silenced by my family, but by myself not being able to explain about my abuse I endured up to the age of 10. Where do you start with that?

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I suffered massive triggers last year after moving back into a house that I only ever remembered good things from and my brain couldn’t understand what was happening. I guess that’s where people say to you “the past has caught up with you”.

Why my brain wants a past catching up with me I have tried to forget I don’t know, why now do I feel pain, real pain when I flashback to fingers and thumbs being inserted in areas they shouldn’t be to any child, why do I have to remember things in my mouth I never wanted there and shouldn’t have been there. I feel disgusted and ashamed all over again and it’s so painful.

It’s not the houses fault though, I understand that, I don’t think it is my fault either but I’m working on understanding that for sure.

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I started this blog as an anonymous writer, I had good reasons too, as at the time I was involved with the police, social services, NHS Well-being and private counsellors. I wasn’t hiding I really wasn’t, I just didn’t want anything potentially being used to keep me from my family and my home any longer.

I’m back where I belong now, I’m broken, I’m battered, my mind is jelly and my general well-being sits on a scale ready to tip towards health and happiness or death and despair at any given moment.

I’m still here, I’m alive, I’m still writing and I’m still reading the fantastic blogs that I read and draw hope and inspiration from.

My names Joe and I’m a Husband, Father, Son and Brother. I’m a human being, I’m a survivor and I’m certainly not anonymous.

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In The Midst of Desolation

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Mental Health Crisis.

These words are all over the news here in the UK and hopefully without insulting anyone seem to be a big buzzword at the moment. The Government have also promised to “transform the way we deal with mental health issues across all of society”

The BBC have done a documentary on the crisis in the NHS also.

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As publicity grows, hopefully knowledge, education, acceptance and understanding will grow also in such a delicate and misunderstood field.

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I am finding it’s such a minefield at the moment trying to find very specialist knowledge and help and I find myself physically tiring myself out from thinking of how I will have to potentially go through my story again with someone new.

It crosses my mind whether it is worth doing it at all and whether I should just accept the status quo that I may never be normal again, but I can try my hardest to act like I am. Does that ultimately help me though? Am I not worth the risk of getting help to help myself?

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Through advice from my counsellor Laura, she has put me in touch with a fantastic organisation – this blog isn’t to advertise services at all but there is an amazing amount of free information on this site and I recommend a read if you are suffering from any kind of PTSD or Dissociative symptons, it really is stuffed full of fantastic articles.

Positive Outcomes

 

 

 

The Uninvited Guest

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So we’ve had a lovely short family break together, the first for over a year. We didn’t go far, we didn’t need to as we are surrounded by beautiful areas over in the east of England and this was about getting the children away and trying to get a small degree of normality back into their lives after my return home.

Anyone who battles with any kind of mental health issue will know that the highs can just mean a “normal” decent week but the lows can be crushingly devastating.

To try to keep even a degree of normality takes a lot of concentration, effort and energy. Our young children certainly provide me with enough inspiration to make it through the day and beyond.

Their smiles, love, innocence and happiness count for everything to me and to simply hear them laughing and calling my name is an amazing tonic for my mind.

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But I also know that there is this black hole still inside me that is constantly there and some days it seems like it will swallow me whole and other days it seems to ignore me. I have no control over this dark part of me and I am not sure I ever will.

I guess when I lost control to my abuser years ago this was what manifested itself inside of me? This dark and empty feeling, being part of a family and being loved but feeling very much isolated and alone.

 

 

A homecoming

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So after a distressing 10 months or so, I made it home. I spoke to my wife about how maybe I should hide in the garden from the children, or hide in the house and surprise them.

But in the end I did what I always did when I came home, I drove onto my drive in my car, parked up and there were the kids sitting on the window sill looking out, they both gave me the most amazing smiles as I entered the house and a massive cuddle. It was a special moment all round.

To jump back in time a bit, we moved into our new family house in June 2016. We had simply needed more space with a growing family, a successful wedding photography business, potential outbuilding needed for a little studio and with time still on our side, we decided 2016 would be the time to look and move.

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And we did it. We found the perfect place together and we successfully moved on and were all looking forward to this new chapter in our lives together.

Then in October 2016 that new chapter came abruptly to a halt. The Police came for me, Social Services were involved as the police didn’t know I had children and after just 4 months together at our new home I was taken away and told I couldn’t return.

10 Months later, I’m back. The house stands exactly the same as it always has when it was built-in the 1930’s but I am very different. I left as one person in October 2016 and return as another in 2017.

A new chapter has to start now but as yet this part is unwritten. I know the start of this story, I know the middle but as yet I do not know how this will end.

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Not of this World

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So I did it. A weekend far away from home, working on an office move, and having a bit of time on my own (which I preferred to be honest so I didn’t have to answer any questions about how I was and how life was etc).

I had Sunday off work to do a bit of exploring of Leeds and despite it raining on and off I had a good walk, a few coffees on route and lots of time to think. I went to the cinema in the afternoon to watch Dunkirk, which I really enjoyed but found some of the trauma and suffering scenes very hard to watch. Perhaps because I was watching it alone, perhaps because it was filmed so beautifully or perhaps because of it being a real story of young men suffering?

I was really glad when Monday morning came, I was heading home that day and I don’t know why but that made me feel a little anxious. Perhaps the reality of being far away had crept up a bit – who knows?

It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive home on a good day, this was a wet, Monday afternoon, so I was prepared for a longer journey.

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The journey for the main was fine, there were a couple of small accidents which slowed progress a bit but I was safe, I was in my car and in my bubble and I was fine.

I was only a few miles from home and I was feeling positive about returning safely and then it happened. An almost overwhelming urge to not stop, to continue driving and never, ever stop. It felt like there was absolutely no choice in the matter and I didn’t realise at the time but I just drove straight past my town. I continued on to the next town, the place I lived when I was very young and found myself driving slowly down the street I used to live on.

It was very disorientating actually, one moment I was contemplating my turn off to go home and then seemingly in the next moment I was outside my old flat that I used to live in with my parents by the sea.

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But being there certainly realigned my senses, I took a moment to drive down to the seafront and the sea was rough, the clouds were dark and lightning flashed across the sky in the distance, I felt crushingly disappointed about something but I didn’t know what – perhaps about myself?

I got out of my car and I wasn’t sure if it was the rain or my tears but my face was a bit wet. For a passing moment as I looked out to the water, I imagined what it would feel like to walk out into those rough seas, a storm raging around me and just never come back and be done with it all.

It was just a thought mind, albeit a very strong thought and feeling that comes and goes and one I know will forever sit there waiting for me to turn weak.