Welcome back, to those of you who read regularly and hi to new peeps!
This post is a bit unusual for me in that it’s a bit personal, and not unusual in that it’s brutally honest.
Looking over everything that’s happened to me, that I’ve somehow survived, and yeah it does piss me off every now and then that it was me it happened to and that some days I feel incredibly ashamed even though I rationally know I shouldn’t and deep deep down I’m not but having bits of you just ripped apart, kindness, generosity taken advantage of, being gaslighted, emotions abused and toyed with, like cats with a yo-yo, by people in positions of trust, friends, or that’s what I thought they were, lying to my face, letting me down , running for the hills when I really needed them, it really does a good job of fucking with your mind, your self belief, what you know and what you don’t know, and trying to trust again and maintaining that trust .. fuck that’s hard. Even harder to stick with it and not to continually read between the lines when there’s really nothing there. The anxiety I’ve had for what feels like forever creeps in and tells me I’m not worthy of any of this shit, that I’ve worked my fucking ass off to get and keep, the paid stuff, the really rewarding and challenging (but my god it’s pulled me out of holes) voluntary stuff, the friends who are just that. I second guess it all. The facts are that being an abuse survivor, I don’t know if some of this will ever end. I hope it will be less intense as it can be exhausting to manage these feelings and worries at an almost constant pace. Trust is a real issue for me and I guess that’s a trauma but also an anxiety thing, with a touch of paranoia. I’m fairly trusting of people which is sometimes my downfall. But since all the abuse, I do find it incredibly hard to trust even those I’m close to, irrational thinking creeps in, and I lose confidence in my convictions.
The voluntary work I’ve been doing is really important to me. It does help to keep me well and also gives me a reality check. It also allows me interaction with people that get where I’m coming from and I get treated with total honesty and fairness and I just love that. It’s kept me going at some really crap times and it’s one of the things that’s actually got stability in my life but also empowers me and helps me speak up for myself and reminds me that I need to put myself first because I can’t help anyone if I’m worn out and exhausted. Mental ill-health anti stigma work is so important and that’s why I’m involved. My emotional abuse experience at work comes from being stigmatised and if nothing else I want to use my personal experience in a positive way.
Speaking my truth, as it can be, and has been called, is helpful. But I do hate being called brave. Courageous maybe, but not brave. It’s facts at the end of the day, and mental illnesses and abuse aren’t something anyone asks for. At least, not that I’ve ever heard of. Trauma is unique to each of us and that ought to be respected. My trauma won’t be the same experience as someone else who has survived emotional abuse, so there’s no need to compare or compete in that sense. What trauma survivors need is a space that’s safe to share what’s happened to them, where they won’t be judged, they’ll be free to speak, where they know others will listen and importantly, hear what they’re saying, and empathise, support them.
I’d also add honesty and integrity within communications too, and respect/boundary lines. It’s really, really hard to put these in place as a survivor and energy draining but the only ones that push back are those who don’t have that level of respect or love for you in the first place. Shame and trauma are pretty intertwined, on top of complex PTSD, life isn’t always easy, without even thinking about anything around my other illnesses. I probably haven’t given myself a chance to think about me, and really just, take in how much I am affected by not just my mental illnesses, but my physical, but invisible and chronic illnesses too. I don’t know if I’ve just pushed it all down, the way this all makes me feel, that I feel I can’t talk about being ill, that because others do have it worse than me, I haven’t allowed myself to show that I am sick, that I am badly affected by my fibromyalgia, my polycystic ovaries, my joint hypermobility syndrome/probable hEDS, migraines, possibly POTS, my generalised and social anxiety, complex PTSD and a bunch of other stuff. I’ve gone for the traditional “crack on with it no-one needs to be bothered or pity me” attitude, and just got on with it. Now this is probably not the greatest way to go about things – but I’ve never looked for sympathy, or pity or “woe is me” , I just want to feel heard. That someone understands where I’m coming from, and at least a bit of why I am like I am. I have felt like I’m weak, like I’m not good enough but again, deep down, I know that’s the anxiety talking, the shit self esteem shouting at me. I have been through a lot of mostly undeserved crap in my life so far and while it feels ridiculously unfair, and I know my entire experience itself is unlikely to be mirrored anywhere on the planet, there’ll be some souls out there that’ll have similar types of experience, bear similar scars to me. This next sentence is to remind all of us, including me, of something – read it to yourself. You are good enough, as you are – your past does not define you – you always have been, and you always will be. Also something else. Just because the abuser – let’s be straight about this – has been nice, or lovely or whatever, to someone else, or even you at another point in time, doesn’t mean they are not/were not an abuser. Trauma is still trauma.
I’ve always tried to be upfront and honest in my life because firstly, honesty and integrity are two really important values to me (and I’m also a terrible liar!), and I was bought up with these values, and secondly, I’ve come across too many liars and drama in the last 3 or 4 years, and frankly I’m rather intolerant of liars and bullies (hmm I wonder why?). If you’ve either been following this blog for the past year or so, or know me in “real life” as it were, you’ll know that I’m a straight talker, fairly no bullshit and opinionated. Sometimes, this is not well liked but a part of me always thinks you shouldn’t ask the question if you don’t like the thought of an honest answer, but it does really help me to voice concerns and boundaries. Sounds oddly conflicting but social anxiety and having no filters sit happily together for me, they’ve not clashed as yet.
Voicing things like the return of my social anxiety, the sheer terror of showing emotion in meetings even with people I honestly and truly do trust and appreciate and love (in a friendship peer supportive listening way before anyone makes weird assumptions), is something that I have just started to do, because hiding it and bottling it up has really not helped me at all. I don’t know why it’s not happened before, but I am my worst judge of myself before anyone else judges me. I have an intensive hatred of being the centre of attention and you know what always seems to happen if you get emotional, start crying (which what I’m struggling with)? Everyone looks at you. And sometimes there’s just no reason for it. It can just be an old memory hitting, a flashback, a jolt of pain, talking about lived experience of things. There’s not always a reason. I have gone back to counselling to try and help myself work through things. I’ve come to realise that the big brave lass that I look like, can start to look a bit vulnerable too. It’s a big, big change to make, especially when social anxiety has been that awkward friend for years, but I’m committing to it, to help myself first for bloody once, and not one of you lovely people… The fact is, I just haven’t got the energy to burn to not help myself first any more.
Social anxiety is a bigger problem for me than I thought. I’ve come to an almost, realisation, that I can’t cure my anxiety, but I can tame it, I can manage it. It isn’t the boss of me, not if I don’t allow it.
One more thing though. Now that things have opened back up again, #tableforone may soon be making a comeback. And if you’ve not tried it, I recommend it – you just need yourself and something to read (or if you’re a people watcher, like me, you don’t!) in a restaurant or cafe that you want to try – and if you’re a York local I might see you or feel free to join! If you get looks for being on your own, don’t be too bothered, as they’re usually admiring that someone’s had the guts to go out on their own.
Until the next time 💚