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Recovering. Or not. Help, please. (Poss triggers).

(42 Posts)
LostGarden Fri 03-Mar-17 10:13:17

I need some help, I feel totally lost with this. I've namechanged which I do regularly, as I need the safety of anonymity. Don't want to build up an online picture of me.

I am in the final stages of divorcing my abuser husband. We're at the settlement negotiation stage. We were married for 20 years and he was abusive in every way although I didn't recognise it for years and years. I thought it was me.

Like so many in my position I had an abusive childhood. I was neglected, physically abused, emotionally, constantly told I was unwanted and worthless. So I married quite young to a man who repeated that pattern. I divorced him with the help of the police as he was a danger to my children then all too soon remarried another abuser. He was abusive in a different way, initially charming but rapidly became hugely controlling down to my choice of underwear and makeup, violent, isolating, financially abusive. Well you name it.

So now a couple of years after he left. I have found work - a miracle as I hadn't been allowed to work and I'm surviving. But each week I realise more ways he abused me - the latest being all the many, many times I woke up to find him having sex with me. Let alone the coercion to do what he wanted in bed always. "Don't be frigid" for example when he was forcing anal sex on me. Which he just did anyway.

It's like more and more layers are unpeeled. I've also realised it has affected everything, absolutely everything. I go to work, come home and manage the minimum housework and admin. But I don't know how to be. I have had 2 lots of counselling, one very helpful the other less so. I can't afford any at the moment and question whether it would be worth the money.

My only social life is coffee with one or other of my adult children. I did a few more things in the first year but I don't really want to now. As more and more of this damage emerges from my subconscious I feel more at sea. I don't have any real friends, he put paid to that. And I don't have the headspace. I think I maybe come over as odd at work, but that might be my own thoughts. Everyone's friendly enough. Well I realised a group of 3 colleagues I used to work in a team with had been mocking me between themselves. It's a class thing mostly but unkind and ignorant.

But living this life, I feel separate from other people. Not in a good way, I'm not "special". But broken, wrong somehow. My childhood set me up for this and I faithfully followed through by choosing bad, damaged, damaging men for partners.

I don't even know what I'm asking really. I was at a sports event recently, with a family member. The man next to me was clapping and the size and strength of his hands vividly reminded me of the times my ex would hit me round the head with his open hand. He would leave cuts and bruises, I'd see stars.

I'd like not to have these triggers, not to have these emotions flood me. I want to heal, but it seems a long way off. The constant stress and fear of living with ex has gone but now this other stuff is emerging. I thought I'd feel better than this by now, not worse.
There's no road map for this journey, I'm navigating alone and I feel lost.

SillyLittleBiscuit Fri 03-Mar-17 10:26:24

You poor thing. Sorry you've had such a shit time at the hands of other people. Utterly undeserved and unfair. Massive respect for getting away from it all and finding work etc. Have you spoken to anyone in real life about this?

LostGarden Fri 03-Mar-17 10:30:39

I've spoken to my counsellors and some acquaintances. I think this is beyond most people's experience. I hope so, anyway. I've been encouraged to online date and"put myself out there".

No, that's not going to help. I'd only find another disordered man. I'm fine on my own.

SillyLittleBiscuit Fri 03-Mar-17 10:34:51

I'd like to think a counsellor could help in the long run. Are you still seeing someone? If they're not helping would trying another be a possibility? Other people will have gone through similar.

I think I'd avoid 'putting yourself out there' for now.

LostGarden Fri 03-Mar-17 10:41:19

I'll definitely not be putting myself out there.

Finding a good counsellor is difficult. I saw one excellent one but she's moved. The next one, well I felt I was just paying someone to listen but not actually help.

SillyLittleBiscuit Fri 03-Mar-17 10:43:47

Persevere with looking for a decent counsellor. You're worth more than life has offered you so far.

LostGarden Fri 03-Mar-17 10:44:53

Thanks Biscuit. I tell myself that but in my very heart of hearts it's a battle to believe.

mydogmymate Fri 03-Mar-17 10:53:23

I'm in exactly the same position as you & 8 years down the line things keep coming back to me. At the moment it's the sexual violence that my ex did that's haunting me now, I can't ever see myself having another sexual relationship, he ruined that for me.
I know how you feel about losing yourself and not knowing how to just be. Have you thought about the Freedom programme? I'm starting it next week and I've heard excellent things about it. Maybe being with other people who have been through a similar thing may give you some perspective, I'm hoping it'll work for me too

You can look at what's available in your area.
Your confidence has also taken a massive battering, if you ever had any in the first place ( I didn't, shitty childhood like you). Maybe women's aid can help with courses. In the meantime, please be kind to yourself. It wasn't your fault and if you can slowly start to heal then he hasn't "won". Another thing, I was diagnosed with PTSD because of the abuse and that seems to send me off in a different direction therapy wise. I might be worth talking to your doc about this. You are not alone in this site.
((((( hugs)))))

SillyLittleBiscuit Fri 03-Mar-17 10:54:01

Well if you don't want to listen to yourself, listen to me - I'm always right smile I believe you can turn this around. You've got through so much and you want to heal. That in itself is huge!

Mamabooksbabynumber2 Fri 03-Mar-17 11:04:54

Hi OP have a little search of PTSD, particularly complex PTSD. It does sound like you may have lots of trauma. I have ptsd from childhood physical and verbal abuse and so on and I have almost finished my Emdr therapy and it has really turned things around for me. Do you have private health insurance as that was how I paid for mine? Emdr is eye movement desensitisation and it has really lifted this fog over me. Also it might be worth having a look at a website called THE blurt Foundation. They have lots of online resources for mental health and I order their buddy box every month as a pick me up. (I also have suffered with depression and andnxiety from having ptsd). Feel free to PM me if you would like anymore links or a listening ear.

Mamabooksbabynumber2 Fri 03-Mar-17 11:08:12

Blurt Foundation also have a Facebook group which you can ask to join on their website and instagram. You can also join the mailing list. They do alot about self care which really helped me. Do you think you may feel slightly depressed ?

Unicornsandrainbows3 Fri 03-Mar-17 11:12:35

I know exactly what you mean about feeling different, I feel the same. It does get better although you do need to find the right support, a counsellor who deals with complex trauma and PTSD. It can take time to find the right one but they are out there.
You're not alone.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 03-Mar-17 11:17:38

Have you received help and support from Womens Aid or a local DV organisation.
If not then please call Womens Aid 0808 2000 247
They can help you with local support services.
They also run The Freedom Programme as mentioned above so talk to them about that.
Please also contact Rape Crisis. They can help you a lot with free counselling to help you through the awful abuse you endured.
Please also get to your GP. PTSD is awful and you will need help to get your through all of this.

I'm so sorry you have been treated so appallingly from such a young age.
With help and support (there is lots out there) you can turn this around.
But it is going to take a long time.
Take the first steps. Even if it's just picking up the phone and dialing a number.
flowers for you. No-one deserves what you have been through.

LostGarden Fri 03-Mar-17 11:18:15

Thanks for all the replies.

Do I feel depressed? I don't think so, but my emotions have numbed an awful lot, so maybe. I was very, very depressed and suicidal when ex lived here and I feel much better than then. I no longer have the suicidal thoughts.

I have done the Freedom programme a couple of years ago but I couldn't continue once I started work. Maybe I should look at it online.

I'm posting on the app so I can't go back and look at posts so I can reply properly. I don't have health insurance, but I have thought of emdr ( hope I got the initials in the right order). I do have many of the symptoms of complex ptsd but I feel a fraud seeing a dr about it. I haven't been in a war.

At the sports event I mentioned, we were sitting amongst veterans. I sensed it from their body language a couple of hours before I was told. Young, damaged, alert men and a few women ( not uk).

hellsbellsmelons Fri 03-Mar-17 11:20:24

You are NOT a fraud.
PTSD is very real for so many who have been abused.
And you've been abused your whole life.
You deserve it so go out there and get the support you need.
Don't listen the voices telling you that you are not worth it.

LostGarden Fri 03-Mar-17 11:21:55

Thanks to everyone for listening. I need to be heard. Not told "I expect your ex would have a different story to tell". Doubtingly.

Yes, I expect he would too.

With your encouragement I'll look into treatment for ptsd. Wonder if I should see my gp first?

I need to go out now, but I'll be back to this thread. It's a bit of light in what was becoming dark and hopeless. (nNot in a suicidal way, I'm past that now he is gone)

hellsbellsmelons Fri 03-Mar-17 11:25:29

Yes see your GP first.
Hopefully he or she can refer you for PTSD counselling.
If you can't open up to them then print out this thread and take it with you for them to read so they understand exactly what you have been through.

Mamabooksbabynumber2 Fri 03-Mar-17 11:29:20

OP, when u see the gp they are potentially likely to offer a low level therapy like CBT first online. it was of no use. I would say that is of no use and u need to see someone for a higher more intense therapt like EMDR. I don't know if it's on thr nhs. Could be. My therapist has done EMDR and some CBT to create a sort of toolbox for when I need to use those skills on off days.

Mamabooksbabynumber2 Fri 03-Mar-17 11:30:42

Basically don't let the gp fob u off with CBT. Xxflowers I was told by a friend who is a social working that they offer this first as it is cheaper for them to provide.

Gingerbreadlass Fri 03-Mar-17 14:13:56

lostgarden, your post moved me so much, you have really been through the mill and been let down by so many people in your life, especially it seems in your formative years. I'd just like to give you an unmumsnetty hug and I really hope some more people will come on here to give you advice and support you. I'm afraid I don't really know what to say but I read your story and didn't want to run.

Have you considered speaking to your GP about this and researching support groups in your area? The fact that you're getting triggers and that you feel self conscious at work needs addressing before it puts more pressure on you. I hope you'll find support here on MN!

LostGarden Fri 03-Mar-17 21:12:29

I've been thinking about your posts while I've been out.

I thought maybe if I saw my gp she might be able to signpost me to counselling for ptsd. I agree that CBT wouldn't be the right way forward and I'm expecting to have to pay.

mydogmymate all the confidence I'd managed to build up in my early adult years, my ex destroyed. Seemingly deliberately, you'd think he had researched it. How were you diagnosed with ptsd? Your gp?

Mamabooksbabynumber2 once MN gets their problems sorted I'll pm you for more links. At the moment I can only use the app which might allow pm ing but I can't find it. Got on their briefly this afternoon but it didn't last.

Unicorns I've started looking for a counsellor, but I get overwhelmed with the whole thing. There's so many how on earth do I find the right one?

hellsbells Women's Aid were a great support when he first left. There is a freedom programme in my town but unfortunately it doesn't fit in with my work hours.
I feel very hesitant about calling Rape Crisis. It was without my consent. Many, many times. So hard to talk about though.

Gingerbreadlass thanks for the hug, gratefully received.

When my ex first left had a huge rush of energy. I wasn't walking on eggshells, wondering what he was really doing, feeling afraid and anxious. I'd read an American self help, you can do anything, kind of book. Not my usual thing but I knew I'd been beaten down so far I needed a big injection of hope and energy or I'd crash completely.
Somehow, within weeks of him leaving, I got work in a field I love, despite having been told I was unemployable and prevented from working or even volunteering for 2 decades. I worked hard and had so much to learn as I went along. Probably so much of my mind was taken up with working and finding my way that there was nothing over for feeling my feelings.

Unicornsandrainbows3 Fri 03-Mar-17 22:23:23

Big hugs to you. Finding the right counsellor is hard, but Rape Crisis and Women's Aid should be able to help refer. The main thing is to find one who deals with this type of trauma as many don't and you need to feel safe and believed with them. Don't worry about having difficulty talking either. A good counsellor will understand the reasons why and will let you go at your own pace. I know I can talk quite easily about the emotional/financial etc abuse but completely panic and shut down over the sexual abuse. Trauma counsellors are more than used to this reaction.

mydogmymate Sat 04-Mar-17 10:09:46

Lost garden. Thanks for reading my post. I've been seeing a psychiatrist for a long time and they've diagnosed me with complex PTSD. I was visited at home by a member of a mental health team when I was with my ex and he caused such a scene ( he was drunk at 9am) that the police were called and they arrested him. They saw at first hand what he was like so I don't always have to explain, which helps enormously. I have been very lucky in the support I've had & I just wish the same for everyone else in the same position flowers

LostGarden Sat 11-Mar-17 07:51:01

I know I disappeared for a while but I have been doing some researching and thinking.
My gp is not very good so I am planning to switch surgeries. However help has come from an unexpected place. I saw my divorce solicitor yesterday who asked how I was doing. I briefly told her about the nightmares etc, she asked a few questions then gave me some info about a counselling service who offer EMDR as well as other therapy.
My solicitor had checked out this service with a clinical psychologist she sometimes works with who gave them a glowing recommendation.
So last night I emailed them and will take it from there. It's not cheap but I have to get past this. I don't want to either get into another bad situation where I am reliving my original trauma ( which is what I've done so far) or not engaging with life for fear of doing that.
Right now and for the foreseeable future I'm giving myself time and space to heal from my marriage as well as dealing with the endless admin involved in a divorce.
Thanks for all your suggestions and support, I feel less isolated now. There is some hope I can find myself and find some peace. "Find myself" smacks of some kind of midlife crisis but those of you who have been through this kind of ordeal will know just how lost you really become.

Iris65 Sat 11-Mar-17 07:58:29

I read your original post thinking that we have a lot in common. However I think that you have experienced more abuse than I have.

I say this because I also struggle a lot with some of the feelings that you describe andI haven't endured some of what you have.

I try and enjoy the fact of being alive, noticing little things around me and trying to make a positive difference to someone, somehow everyday. I also try and focus on the future rather than the past.

You are a survivor who has shown tremendous resilience.

And it does get easier.

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