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, Relationships, self love, Uncategorized

The night a dog saved my life, and other short stories

I flew home from Magaluf in the October. I only told one person when my flight was, Roxy, my best friend that had planned to come to Magaluf with me. She came to meet me at the airport when I’d flown back. It was so amazing to see her.

We spent the whole journey back to her parents house sharing news and plotting for the weekend. The plan was for me to hide there until the Saturday night when she had arranged a night out with the girls. I was going to surprise them. The surprise kind of back fired as there had been a second plot- a party at Roxanne’s to welcome me home!

I felt so lucky to have such amazing friends, I still do. That night we went into Cardiff, drank, danced, shared yet more news and the rest was a happy blur of laughing. I stayed out that night to extend the party but was sure Roxy would be up when I got to her parents house. She unfortunately wasn’t so I hunkered down at her patio table in my tiny white dress and hoped not to freeze. As I started to snooze, I felt this heavy thing land on my lap, I looked down and one of her German Shepherds was cuddling me, then the other came along and did the same.

By the time Roxy’s mother saw me through the kitchen window I was as warm and cosy as could be with the dogs. I must not have looked that way though, she was sure I was dead at first. Whoops!

After these escapades, I realised that I needed to find a place to stay and a job too! My elder sister (2nd oldest) took me in, I stayed there for a week or two but I couldn’t find a job and wasn’t allowed to sign on. I also spent all of my free time writing to or talking to Squaddie. Needless to say, I was a terrible house guest! So, I moved back in with my friend after a year of being away, I got a job in a pub with her help and tried to be better there than I was at my sisters until I could find somewhere more permanent.

The plan was to move in with Roxy when she moved into her flat. I fell in love with that flat the moment I saw it and could just imagine some of the amazing times we’d have there.

In the meantime, Squaddie was planning for R&R and wanted to come and see me. Of course, I jumped at the chance and we arranged that he would come straight to me from Brize. It felt like a dream to me at the time when he did just that.

Instead of going straight to Newcastle, he came to me. We spent the night in a hotel in Cardiff Bay and had our first real date. I think it was dinner and a movie but I can’t think what we would have watched. The next day, he didn’t want to leave me and I didn’t want him to leave.

So we both got on a train and went to Newcastle. I spent his entire R&R with him.

I met all of his family, friends and exes while I was there. Even his family from down south. He showed me around the Toon and took me to my first football match.We were inseparable when he wasn’t driving his ex to college. I let this slide because I believed him when he said he loved me and felt bad because she still had feelings for him. He wanted to let her down gently.

Ladies and gents, this is very rarely true. Just saying.

By the end of the two weeks together, I was convinced that I loved him too and this would last forever. I immediately wrote him a letter to tell him.

And when he received it, he changed. I was hooked. Less work for him. But I am jumping ahead there.

I moved into the flat with Roxy the day I returned and decided to leave the fact that I’d essentially quit my job to go to Newcastle for another day.

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