Posts Tagged Domestic Violence Victim
I’ve been going along fine for the past couple months, which is why you haven’t heard from me for awhile. Things come up, particularly being my own self-advocate. I still need to do a much better job at that. And then last night I had a terrible nightmare, one of the ones where I wake up bawling my eyes out and screaming. I was dying in my nightmare. I was hit by a truck or something and I made it to a bathroom where my head and various body parts were just leaking blood all over the place. I was in a whole hell of a lot of pain and no one was around to help me. But, for some reason, in the nightmare it was if I was back 4 years ago with my ex-husband and so I called him like when I once was injured and had to go to the hospital, to ask if he could come home and take care of me. But, I didn’t want him to be angry with me so I didn’t say how bad it was so he was just like well, I don’t need to come home, you’re fine. And then I realized I was dying with the amount of blood that was leaking out of my body and everything was growing fainter. I felt so much remorse for being alone dying with no one to help me.
I have been feeling really isolated from my friends lately. I have been feeling upset about certain situations and have not been speaking up about them. And I think that’s what this is about.
In interpreting dreams, this could be a really good thing or a bad thing. It could mean I am really getting a closure on that chapter of my life, the Mia who was abused. Or it could mean I am really struggling feeling like I could lose my self-confidence. I would like to think it is the first, but I still feel very cautious about being used and abused.
This week my ex-husband followed me home or happened to be going some place near my home. I didn’t recognize him until it was too late. And I made a run for it. In the workbook they try to prepare you for situations if you run into your abuser, but no matter how much they prepare you, I don’t think you could ever be prepared. If I see him again, I’m calling the police. It has put me on a high alert the rest of the week. Some time last year I let down my guard after a lot of time had passed since he last threatened me. Why should I have to live in fear? Why should I have to move? To hide? To always have to look over my shoulder? Then of course the nightmares of being attacked start up again.
Earlier this week I read the Slog’s editorial, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” And thought, I’m Adam Lanza’s ex-wife and I’m still scared to death of him. I do feel mental health care needs to be more accessible by everyone. But, how do you get a person like my ex-husband to get help and get better so they stop hurting people? So people like me don’t have to be afraid of them? I know the workbook and many people have told me not to worry about him, but how can I not when I’m still worried about my own safety and many others out there?
The great thing about this week for me was it broke all routine, not that I really have one. But, I had practiced things I ordinarily would feel guilty about like staying out at a concert later, sleeping in later and going to work later. I went into therapy knowing I had some things in my mind and by the end of the session I discovered they were all connected to dealing with grief.
The past two years have been filled with amazing memories and growing great relationships with my friends and family. I had printed up photos this week from the past two years I had taken of all my friends and family and though I had experienced a painful break up, I still realized what an amazing two years this has been and the people in my life.
Early in the week I was dealing with the pain of despair and luckily one of my SuperBetter allies reached out to me and said what I needed to hear. I said I know that this will pass and I’ll be ok. And he said, that is good advice to yourself but it doesn’t necessarily take away the fear and the pain.
I went into therapy talking about how my whole concept of time, people and relationships is changing. Things do not feel linear. What I discovered I was really dealing with was that grief is not linear. You don’t go through a break up, and get over it and get better. You don’t go though trauma or abuse and just get better and be done with it. You can come back and deal with grief at any given time or moment. And when you are dealing with that grief, you are dealing with all of the grief from all of your past and un-dealt with situations. And that can be a world of pain we can only stand for so long. Back in September and October I did not have the luxury to deal with the pain. I had to get moving and make life work. Now finally it can hit me like a sack of bricks and I’d say I get an A+ for dealing with grief. I have been compartmentalizing things to deal with grief, but have come to the understanding of that. For example, I have been avoiding people and places that remind me of my ex-boyfriend and when I ran into one of them today, I panicked but decided why not talk to them? And it was not so bad. I am me independent of anyone.
I was dealing with a lot today. Last weekend I did something that was so physically taxing I was covered in bruises which reminded me too much of being beaten by my ex-husband. I wondered why do I do these things that are so physically taxing? There was a point in the day where someone actually told me I had to stop and assigned me another task that was less physically taxing. They recognized that I would push myself beyond my capacity without recognizing the pain I was causing myself. Very much like being in an abusive relationship, I was not aware of the pain I was experiencing until someone pointed it out to me. Again I was dealing with grief and guilt. I feel like I have to do these things to make up for something. Now I can be more aware of when I do these things, recognize my limits, and know when I need to say no.
I think I am moving from linear thinking, left sided brain thinking, to emotional, more right sided brain thinking. I think I am now going to be much better able at acknowledging my pain and deal with it by reaching out to people. My way of thinking is changing because I no longer have to be afraid and constantly protect myself from feeling pain, both emotional and physical. So I’m not quite sure if this would all make sense to someone else who has experienced trauma and grief, but it is a lot for me to process.
Last weekend I dealt with a very irate person. It was a very hot weekend and I also heard about a lot of other violent events from
the weekend. I noticed this week I was a lot more hypervigilant as a result. I understand that this event came as a surprise to me and it’s perfectly rational for me to be worried about my safety concerning this person. Their behavior was pretty violent and extreme.
This week I also noticed I had a lot of internal conflict. This is a very new experience for me because in the past, I have always let others make decisions for me or not had any opinion or preferences of my own. Everyone else and their needs had always come first. Being hypervigilant from the event with the irate person last week, I wondered if I was just being hypersensitive to other people, that I asked in therapy, “Is this what normal people go through? Always having these internal conflicts and decisions to be making?” To my surprise, it is. The fact that I’m having these internal conflicts where I want to express my needs is proof that I am getting better from post traumatic stress! While that should be a relief, I’m finding it’s really tough to be dealing with these things. But, what’s also strange is how I’m feeling a lot less concern than I used to with expressing my needs, opinions or preferences. Because I’m often now thinking, well I have every right as anyone else right? And if I make someone upset, well maybe I don’t want to go then or maybe I’ll just do this on my own, and etc.
In therapy, we’ve been talking a lot about expectations, which I think has a tie into my hypervigilance. I am often having expectations of people without really being aware of it. For example:
– At work, I expect my coworkers to be respectful and professional as I am. This is not always the case. Some situations at work have arose that have made me uncomfortable. While they may see these things as a way to open up or break the ice, I saw them as disrespectful and bullying. I think it is a lot clearer what my expectations are and what I need to feel comfortable.
– Have you ever read the 5 Love Languages? My ex-husband was very good at fulfilling “Words of Affirmation”, but not good at showing me he really cared. My new partner does not do that. Instead he shows me he cares and loves me through “Acts of Service”. It took me a lot of time to adjust to not hearing the words of affirmation. But, once I came to understand how my partner shows me he loves me and cares, I was able to adjust my expectations and be a lot happier.
– With friends, I expect that we should share experiences and things about ourselves. If I open up to you, I expect you to open up back. When this doesn’t happen, I don’t feel comfortable around people. I feel closer to some of my friends more than others. I also am finding I become wary of spending time with people who do not reciprocate. I’m finding I need to adjust this expectation. Different people expect and need different things in their friendships. People are also at various spaces in their lives and sometimes we click and sometimes we don’t.
With hypervigilance I’m always being attentive to what others are thinking or feeling, but don’t realize that I am often having similar expectations of others. I am learning how to be aware of my expectations and when I am being hypervigilant. This way I can adjust my expectations when I need to, or stand up for what I need, and enjoy my relationships with people with a lot less anxiety.