Life, mental health, Relationships, self love

Self love starts with self-respect

After Squaddie and I split for good, there was a period of change for me.

For a while, I’d spend my days convinced that nobody could ever really love me. Again, being ‘alone’ made me feel suicidal. I believed that I was not loveable and that I was in everyone’s way. I’d stand at the side of the road thinking “if I jumped in front of that car/ bus/ lorry now, they’d be going fast enough to kill me”. It was a genuine fantasy of mind for too long.

After a while of feeling this way and believing that if I was “stronger” I would have ended it by now, I spoke to my housemate, Hannah, about how I was feeling. Well, I actually told her EVERYTHING. My entire life story. She understood completely how I felt and there was no judgement. She encouraged me to go to the doctor for help.

They put me on Citalopram (20mg a day) and added me to the list for counselling. It took about 6 weeks before I saw my counsellor- we had 10 sessions booked. My counsellor was an amazing woman, she didn’t do much more than listen and prompt me to find solutions to my own issues. I struggled at first to talk to her but after a couple of sessions, I’d got into the flow of talking frankly with her.

We came to the conclusion together that my issues were not based on failed relationships. They were based on my own fear, guilt and shame for things that had happened in my life. My belief for a long time was that I was inherently bad and unloveable- in my eyes, my story confirmed this for me. In my eyes, I would alway be the girl who’s mother didn’t love her enough to stay and get help. Although at this point my counsellor still didn’t know it all. In fact, it was session 10 by the time I told her about the attack in Magaluf. Something that I couldn’t verbalise (still struggle to verbalise). I actually wrote it down and handed it to her. I watched her without blinking as she read it expected to be kicked out early with disgust. Instead, amongst a lot of other things, she said “what he did was disgusting and you were not to blame”. Something that even now I find difficult to fully believe.

After each session, I would come home and discuss every detail with Hannah, who would add her own insights and words of encouragement. Between the sessions and the ‘after session sessions’, I started to feel like I was finding an identity that didn’t have to be depressed or designed for men.

Watching the way Hannah studied and persevered to get to where she wanted to be in her career filled me with dread at first. My initial thought was “I am not intelligent enough to be friends with this girl”. I think I’ve mentioned my old reputation for being “stupid Becky” before. A belief that I carried around with me for years.

After a little while, I started to think “maybe I could do that too- study and get a career”. So I began signing up for training at work, reading more intellectual books and looking for promotions. I started discuss the training and books with Hannah, with the expectation that I would have missed the points or would sound stupid trying to be clever. But that expectation never became reality, quite the opposite actually. I felt intelligent for the first time in a long time.

We were still partying almost every weekend but I started to hang back from “meeting men”, I didn’t need as much validation as I’d previously needed. I was happy to have a best friend so close to me who I could be myself around.

Before long, I managed to come off the antidepressants and got promoted into a different department. IT Training- a department that I never thought I would have the brains to be working in.

I also began working closely with a man in IT that I knew through nights out but had never been able/ allowed to talk to. There was an instant connection. Something told me that he would always be in my life, if I wanted that. We soon became really great friends, we’d go out for a few drinks a couple of times most weeks and would talk about mostly everything.

I started to do really well in my new role with a promotion that I wanted in my mind, and sight. This ‘believing in myself’ was really working for me. I was feeling better in myself with very few times of depression. I was making deeper connections )with new and old friends) and was feeling proud of myself. I was developing some serious self-respect.

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Life, mental health, Relationships, self love, Uncategorized

The rocky start of my Newcastle life

I started writing yet another post about Squaddie, then I stopped, then started again, then stopped.

At first, I considered that I might be resisting because it was still painful but I couldn’t find any truth in that. My gut was definitely not agreeing. Then I realised, I am resisting because I’ve discussed it to death.

So, I am going to tell you what happened with him but I am going to finish it all in this blog post.

After about a year of being together, I quit my job and went to Newcastle for Christmas. He proposed on Christmas Day after is agreed to move in (even though he knew I didn’t want to get engaged), he got on one knee by the tree while his family waited outside the door with champagne and a card- very presumptuous. Of course, I said yes, it was a perfect proposal to anyone looking in as we danced to our song afterwards. To me, it felt like a cage. I remember telling one of my best friends and having to practically mute the phone as he swore loudly and called me an idiot for tying myself to someone who treated me the way Squaddie did.

The engagement only lasted a few months. All the way through the engagement I got messages from other girls saying that he’s being sleeping with them. He’d always deny it and I was so dependent on him by this point that I chose to believe him.

He’d hammered the point home that nobody loved me except him. He even made me believe that my eldest sister (who taught me to read and tickles my arms until I slept when we were children) didn’t love me. I wasn’t allowed to go home at all. I wasn’t allowed out with anyone who wasn’t on his approved list and I even got into trouble for sitting near male colleagues at work. In my mind, I had him and his family and that was it!

I became so clingy and jealous. Not myself at all. I was even jealous when he would be out with his friends because it meant I was being ignored. I started to feel really suicidal after a while. Everything I did was for his benefit. I barely ate because he wanted me skinny, I let him do what ever he wanted with my body and when I didn’t say yes he did it anyway, I convinced myself that it was okay that he’d call me “fatty” or a “dirty slut” or when he’d “go too far” with “play fighting”. It was okay because my life belonged to him.

The biggest blow came when he broke up with me because I’d been “cheating”. I’m not sure how when I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. He became convinced that something was going on with one of his best friends.

After being dumped and having to move into a house share, I decided that I might as well act in the way he accused me of. His friend and I had a flirtation but nothing more at that point. Squaddie found out and was livid. He drove this guy to my house and threatened to kick him in infront of me.

I went home for a few days that summer (while we are split up) and built some strength when I realised that I was still very loved at home. I built more strength when a made an amazing friend in my new housemate. And more when I dated a little.

Then I must have gotten too strong because Squaddie returned to bring me back down. We “tried again” for a little while and then I got accused of all sorts and chucked. Again.

Again, over the next few months, I built myself up, I dated a bit and he returned.

This time, it started well, we got on and he seemed different somehow. Until Valentine’s Day when I was informed that he’d gotten someone else pregnant during our last “try”. That should have been it but it wasn’t, I offered to help him with the baby and everything.

Things started to turn sour again, fast. I ended up doing some awful things like telling his mother about the baby and telling him some family secrets. I was just so angry.

Then one night, he arrived at my house out of the blue so he could come to a party with me. We both got so drunk at the party and ended up fighting- verbally and then physically. It all came to a head when he stood on me while twisting my arm behind my back and threatened to snap it if I dared scream again.

I realised at that point that enough was enough. I couldn’t be with someone like that, mainly because of how he treated me and partly because I hated who I was when I was with him.

I’d learned to respect myself enough to walk away.

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Life, mental health, Relationships, self love, Uncategorized

It’s not abuse if it doesn’t leave a mark… is it?

Soon after moving in with Roxy, I managed to get a full time job at a bakery. That, alongside my weekend job at the Rugby club kept me busy.

Unfortunately, busy doesn’t equal paid well so I was back in the hole of not being quite sure how to budget to pay rent, bills and support my living costs. I was lucky to be living with Roxy as she did help me to budget so at least my bills were paid and I was eating. She also helped me look for a better paid full time job, which I found after a month or two of living together.

It was in a factory, I was not allowed to wear make up, show my hair or face and had special clothes, gloves and shoes to wear. He never directly said it but I know that Squaddie would have been over the moon with this. He was extremely jealous of my job in the rugby club and would constantly quiz me on who I’d been speaking to and what had been said after working there.

It turns out that he felt that way about a lot of areas of my life as he’d call me as much as he could from Afghan to question me on my whereabouts. His favourite time to call was at 2/3am (UK time) when I had to be up at 5:30 to get to work on time. If I didn’t answer immediately then I’d be in trouble. I’d have to find a way to prove that I was in bed alone, this was hard as he wasn’t the trusting type.

After a little while of this frequently happening, I broke things off with him. Then the guilt came for breaking up with someone who was fighting for our country. Then I panicked that nobody would love me like that again. So I asked for him back. Honestly, he should have just said no. What he did instead was make me beg and plead, he recorded my begging and made me listen to it back. He was laughing at me and saying all of his friends would hear it too. I was humiliated; exactly as he wanted. Only then did he say yes and take me back. I was grateful. How warped.

Within a few weeks, Roxy was coming home from work to find me crying almost daily. I couldn’t understand why Squaddie wouldn’t just trust me. He was due back soon and was just getting worse.

Despite this treatment, I was still doing my best to enjoy life. I’d spend my day off with my eldest sister and her (at the time) two little ones as frequently as I could. “Monday club” was what we called it. Shift work was great for getting two days off in the week!

I’d also go out with friends (old and new) as often as I could, I was still a bit of a party girl. This clearly didn’t please Squaddie but I was fast learning that nothing did.

Before long, Squaddie was back in the uk and of course, I went right up to Newcastle to see him as frequently as he was there- his main base was Germany. He’d come to Wales to see me too. And we could now use Skype. We made it “work”.

Now that he was back, I assumed that his jealousy would subside but it just got worse. The first time we saw each other after he got back, he asked me to write a list of all of the men I’d had any sort of ‘contact’ with. I told him about what had happened in Magaluf and asked if I was supposed to write that flat mate down. His response was along the lines of “of course you should write him down, I’ll bet you loved that attention that night. You dirty slut”. I don’t remember the whole tirade about it but I remember that. How could I forget? It was my worst nightmare about what people would say coming true. And it came from the person that I genuinely believed loved me most.

I think at this point, some people will wonder why I didn’t just leave him. And the truth is, we had some amazing days that made up for the jealous days and the days I felt like I was being mentally tortured. At this point in time, there were lots of good days to make up for it.

Over the next few months, he used that list to torment me. He’d make me repeatedly write it out and if I forgot to write down even one name he’d call me all the names under the sun. Well, all the ones that translated to “whore”, that is. He’d force me to write the name of the guy that attacked me every time too. Because I’d played it down when it had happened and not reported anything, it wasn’t real. Apparently.

So I squashed it down; cut contact with all the men that he asked me to, took all the jealous phone calls, accepted being called names, repeatedly wrote down the name of the person that attacked me on a list that Squaddie had no business asking for in the first place and “got on with it”.

That was my life for that year in Wales.

Life, mental health, self love, Uncategorized

Side note: A different side of blogging

I wanted to acknowledge, and apologise for, the fact that it takes longer after each blog for me to post another.

In all honesty this is because I didn’t anticipate how writing this blog would make me feel. I thought I was over it all and moving forward. To a certain extent, that is true. But it’s not the whole story.

Writing about my childhood was easy, it wasn’t hard to take a different perspective and find the good in all that happened because it’s like it was a different life. It was so long ago and because it doesn’t affect me day-to-day, I genuinely have managed to move forward and be grateful for the good.

My teen years were similar but harder.

By the time I got to my late teens – Magaluf – I was confident, almost cocky about my blog not causing me any pain. I felt on top of the world because I was proving that nothing could phase me.

Then, I wrote about Magaluf and that world I was on top of COLLAPSED. That posts effect on me was monumental. It made me feel like I had stood naked in a room of everyone who read my post or would ever read my post and described what had happened.

Since, I’ve been having a lot of bad days but a few good. I am writing about them in the hopes that owning the feelings will allow me to move forward with them. And then, I hope, from them. And of course, I am hoping that someone may understand and feel them too and then neither of us will have to feel so alone.

A few days after I wrote the post about the attack, I was scrolling through Facebook for photos of that time (to use in my next blog) and scrolled right into a photo of that old housemate. It felt like being that young, vulnerable girl all over again. For a few days, I am ashamed to say, I kept looking at that picture and hoping for answers or to at least see a sign in his face of what he was capable of.

I spoke to friends about this and was encouraged to stop looking, which I managed to do.

Then the anger started, I have been getting moments, sometimes hours at a time where there is so much anger flowing through my body that it hurts. All I want to do at those times is lash out but I know that I can’t.

That triggers the feeling of powerlessness for me, the fear that comes with that and the shame that comes with that.

Looking in the mirror at my own face has been a struggle – I feel like I don’t recognise myself right now.

I don’t really have the answers, or the ‘goods’ to share right now but here are a few things I’ve been doing to bring myself back;

  1. I’ve been forcing myself to look in the mirror, have photos taken of me. In the future when I look back to getting past this, I want to remember how I looked at the time.
  2. I’ve been getting myself out even when I am terrified of being there. I don’t want my life to pass me by.
  3. I’ve been opening up to my boyfriend and my friends as much as I can and trying to take their wise advise.
  4. I’ve been telling myself all of the things I would tell a friend in this situation. One day I will believe it.

I look forward to one day coming in here and writing about how I got through this and picking out the good in the situation.

But, for now, I am going to keep writing my story so that I don’t get stuck in one chapter.

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Taken today in my happy place – by the water

 

Life, mental health, self love

Some sort of ‘love’ story…

So, we are still in Magaluf. The trip that changed my life completely, in many ways.

A few weeks after what happened in my last post, I was at work selling jelly shots as normal when I met a group of squaddies. They bought most of my tray so I stayed and had some banter with them. I went back and forth to their table a couple of times that night, they were good buyers and I thought one of them was quite cute, let’s call him “Squaddie” for obvious reasons. It turns out that he thought the same about me. We chatted and flirted for a little while that night and then I went off with an extra spring in my step but thought no more of it.

A few days later, I saw Squaddie again. He was alone at a table where I worked, waiting for me. He told me that he had been in every night since and had ditched his friends to find me as they were a little sick of hanging round the same bar every night. I told him that I couldn’t talk, I had to work, so he bought my whole tray of shots so I’d talk to him. He was treating me differently to the way most men would. I fast became his “little angel”.

After work that night, we went on a sort of date. He had waited in the bar for me while I sorted out my tray and cash, he was pacing when I got back, saying he thought I’d ditched him. We got a few drinks and went for splash in the sea, we talked and laughed. He told me that I was too good for the life I was living. It was all a bit much but it was all I wanted to hear. It had been a year since my mother had passed and so much had happened in that time with exes and friends that I just felt so alone.

I was crying out for love.

After Squaddie flew home to Newcastle the next day, he found me on Facebook and begged me to buy a new phone as mine had been stolen at the beach. I did and he would phone me daily, never talking to me for less than a couple of hours. I thought that this was a bit much but rationalised it as me not being used to men being nice to me. Besides, he was going to Afghanistan soon and wanted someone waiting for him. He asked me daily if I’d write to him, I agreed that I would.

Over the next few weeks until he went, he got more and more obsessive. He didn’t like me being a shot girl anymore- because people would treat me worse than I deserved. If I didn’t answer my phone- was I with someone else? That sort of thing.

We spoke about it a little and he said it was just nerves about going away and his friends had been teasing him about me. I didn’t really take that as a warning sign, I was just happy he cared enough to be jealous.

We weren’t in a relationship yet, but I knew we would be soon. I was over the moon as I felt like he might love me one day.

I was desperate to be loved.

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Life, mental health, self love

Chasing the summer dream

It didn’t take long to prepare to spend the summer in Magaluf. I planned it all out with one of my best friends (who was going to come with me), bought a one way ticket, gave notice at work and that was pretty much it.

I didn’t give any notice with the flat as I owed so much rent at that point that I doubt I would have been welcome there much longer. I did, however, offer my furniture back to D’s parents. They took me out for a goodbye/good luck dinner and told me that they didn’t want anything back and to sell what I could for a bit more financial security.

As the end of my notice period got closer, I got more and more excited to leave. My friend and I spent so much time talking about what we would do there and how fun it would be. She would be there first- on holiday – then I would join a couple of days before she was due to fly home. Solid plan. Or so we thought.

The day came to leave and all last minute plans were made. A friend of a friend (P) was doing the same so we had it all arranged to fly together. My brother in law (B) took us to Cardiff airport, my eldest sister took my keys to hand back to the council and that was it.

On the flight, we met someone who already worked out there so asked for (and accepted) loads of tips and advice. He shared a taxi from Palma with us when we got there and told us where to find him if we needed anything. I didn’t think we would need much, if anything, as I had my plans with my friend. When I got to her hotel things started to go wrong quite quickly.

There was no room for P, and my friend really didn’t look well. P and I found a room of our own in a hotel on the strip and set out to look for somewhere to live and a job the next day. Luckily enough, we had received tips on where to ask for a cheap room so getting a place to live wasn’t hard.

I managed to get a trial in a bar that night but it didn’t work out. All that time behind the bar at the rugby club didn’t help me- I am naturally a truly terrible barmaid!

I had a night out with my girls on my second night- right after moving in to the apartment and failing my first job trial. I decided that I’d look for a job the next day with my best friend when the rest of the girls had flown home.

It did not work out that way, not at all!

It turned out that my best friend had contracted swine flu and needed to go home. I was on my own!

I didn’t really know what to do in a different country with no real friends so I did what any 19 year old would do in Magaluf. I partied, I sunbathed, I worked (selling jelly shots) and partied some more. I made friends with my flat mates. There were 2 girls and a guy already living there when P and I first moved in. The guy started to try it on with me immediately but I put it down to him being a chancer with all the ladies and laughed it off.

I was having lots of fun blocking out all the pain I’d been feeling in Wales. Or I thought I was at least.

In reality, my self esteem was getting lower and lower and the risky situations I was getting myself into were unreal and this was my first job there (the quiet, family vibe, safe one). I was disrespecting myself and my body from the get go. I didn’t realise that I had a duty of care to myself.

I won’t berate my teenage self for this now as it’s not deserved. It’s easy to go off the rails when you feel so worthless and full of pain. And besides, even the stuff that comes next made me who I am so I can’t regret or want to change it.

I love who I am.

Life, mental health, self love, suicide

Attempting to escape

I was 19 when I realised I was in debt, being secretive about how I was feeling and letting my relationships slip. Over the months, my sickness level had gotten a lot worse at work and I had to be honest that I was struggling with my mental health. I told my team leader as much as she needed to know but no more.

Early into 2009, D and I had drifted a lot (him with his new job and uni friends that I didn’t know well, me with trying to deal with what I was going through). In fact, we drifted so much that we split up shortly after I spent Christmas with his family. This hit me hard as it felt like I’d lost so much more than just him, I’d lost my reason to have a relationship with his family.

We tried to remain friends as we were in the same circles but this wasn’t easy when we were also trying to move on. I put myself out there and got quite a bit of male attention after the break up, at the time I saw it as an ego boosting distraction. I found comfort in one lad I met in the rugby club who met my need to feel special and liked for a while but it was very on/off because neither us of was really available. It all just ended up making me feel more lonely.

On Easter Sunday that year, I woke up feeling even more lonely and low than usual. We had always had Easter morning together as a family so my flat, empty barring my two adopted cats, felt extremely lacking. I was hurting so much inside that my outside hurt too. I decided that painkillers would help. I had a couple of boxes of ibuprofen and Paracetamol at home but decided that it wasn’t enough so went out for a few more boxes. I wasn’t really planning anything but took them all when I got home, washed down with all I had in to drink- a little straight vodka and some Bacardi breezer. I sat listening to music, crying and writing until I could feel the pills in my stomach then just felt more pain. I tried to self harm, like I had seem my mother do in the past, thinking I’d get some release but it just hurt and I didn’t like the look of a knife going into my skin so I stopped. I called Roxanne after that. I hadn’t realised she was out with her boyfriend but she assured me that it was okay. We spoke for a little bit and then she went off to call for more help. She rang back immediately after and stayed on the phone until her mother , Kim, and sister arrived.

They arrived quickly and Kim comforted me while an ambulance was called. She was extremely upset herself but gave me water and kept assuring me that I’d be okay, I was loved and would be helped. Roxanne and another of my friends arrived just before the ambulance so came with me on the journey to the hospital. The paramedics were awful, when I started vomiting they mocked the fact that I’d washed the tablets down with Bacardi breezer and told me that ‘a few paracetamol wouldn’t kill me’. I was mortified.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was put into a ward right away. The girls were allowed to stay with me the whole time and, luckily, because I’d vomited there was no need for my stomach to be pumped. The nurse asked me if I’d done what I had because I didn’t like my easter eggs. Nice lady.

I had to stay over night in the hospital as my blood pressure had dropped so much that they wanted to see it hit a certain number before I left but the next day was finally allowed to go home. The friend who had come in with me picked me up and took me home.

After that, I knew I had to get away so started to make plans to go away for the summer. I had two girls holidays soon after to get the instant gratification of getting away.

While I was away, I wasn’t myself I spent most of the time drinking to excess and acting out of my usual character. On one holiday in particular, I argued with my friend one night as I was having severe nightmares every time I tried to sleep. I was ratty and horrible to be around. Sadly, she saw the reason one night for herself when she was woken up by me screaming in my sleep. I felt so guilty that she had to deal with that.

I knew that running away for a week or two at a time was not helping me so when I got back, I made serious plans to spend the summer working in Magaluf.

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Attempting to escape