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Why can’t I speak about my memories?

Throughout my relationship, there were many times that I wanted to and occasionally did bring up a memory or two, a recollection, a comment that referred to my previous relationship and the children I have. Immediately my partner would get his back up and say ‘oh you are thinking about him now’ (meaning the father of my children).

Nothing was further from the truth.

Yes there are times when something would happen and I would recall something from my past, and I’m sorry but after 20 years with the same person, that is kind of unavoidable don’t you think?

There were conversations where I would talk about my children and something we had done with them. The problem was I would use the word ‘we’ – which meant their father and myself. I didn’t see, nor understand the problem with this, as whatever I was mentioning was about a time that was with him and our children. It’s not like I can block out that he was there, treat him like he was invisible, didn’t exist.

Everyone has a past don’t they?

He could feel free enough to talk about the past with the mother of his children. And I had no problem with that. I liked hearing about these things, because they gave me insight into things he liked to do, or talk about, almost like it helped me understand him. It also helped me understand her, so I could build a relationship with her as I was her children’s stepmother, with her children living with me.

To me, it is respectful to listen about one’s past, and their life experiences, regardless of who it was they shared them with. There would be inappropriate times to bring them up, but in general conversation it shouldn’t be a problem.

Unless you are the abuser.

Because your life is more important than the person you are controlling. That person has to suffer living their lives how you see fit. They aren’t allowed to have memories. They aren’t allowed to express them. They can’t casually comment about something on TV that would have been in their past because that meant you were thinking of another partner. No way, that person will live breathe and think only about me, and all memories are wiped.

It is a horrible feeling, to have to keep inside all your memories and experiences in relation to your past. That scares me. Because I want to be me. And that includes all of my past and how it shaped me. Now here is a situation that is reshaping everything I believed in, everything I have known, and I have to keep it all to myself, for fear that I am seen as to be thinking of someone else.

I can’t and I won’t let that happen. Neither should you. I don’t want to grieve for my memories. But I am.

 

 

 

Do I go or do I stay?

The other day I was thinking back on some pretty awful moments, and I remember thinking to myself at the time, do I go or do I stay. It was such a hard decision. You cannot look in from the outside and assume it is so easy to just say ‘oh I would go – I can’t believe you thought about staying’.

Well don’t judge until you’ve been there.

In my case I had a number of factors, one being the safety of children. They weren’t my children, but I wanted them to be loved and cared for by a suitable adult. A mothering adult. A sober adult. And safe. I couldn’t leave not knowing if their future was tarnished.

There was the thought of being alone. I don’t want to be alone. I have been told by countless others that there are plenty of fish in the sea, but I didn’t want anyone else. I didn’t want to live by myself, with no one to care for, or to be cared for. It really is a lonely existence. Besides, I still loved that person.

That’s what gets you. Love. Because you want so much for the love that you had to last forever, for the love to not be an endless empty pit of broken feelings, harsh words, and disrespectful.

So a number of times I did say this to myself. I now want to know why did I say that, and why didn’t I leave? Why didn’t I have any courage? Well I am looking at it from a different point of view, after someone said to me it took a great amount of courage for (this particular form of) suicide.

And I felt inspired.

Because I think I had courage by asking myself at the time, should I go or should I stay – and deciding to stay. I know that I should have chosen my own self worth, but I know that within me, I would have felt far worse just leaving without questioning my doubts than staying and trying to turn it around for everyone. Because I felt I could do it. Unfortunately there came a time when I had to make that ultimate decision, and the bad times were more than anything that was ever good, and I no longer wanted to know if I had the courage to stay or leave.

Because I didn’t care. I wanted to feel safe again. But not just from him. From myself. I have stabbed myself (twice), cut my wrists, my thighs, my belly. I have hit my head against brick walls more than a few times. I have punched myself. Do you actually know how hard that is to do? I have even tried to scrape my eyeballs out just to stop the tears.

You can argue that he did this to me. But I will not blame him totally. I had other things going on in my life with the abscence of my own children, and when something went wrong there, it always coincided with what was going on with my partner.

So in the end, when I asked “Do I go or do I stay?” I found the courage to go, because I did it for me, without guilt, but with a hope that I could pull myself out of the very place I pretended I wasn’t in. Which was nowhere.

I will empower myself.

 

Age 47: How to improve your spoon shape

WARNING: THIS PAGE DISPLAYS AN IMAGE OF A NAKED BODY BUT IS APPROPRIATE FOR THIS POST.

 

Unfortunately there are people out there who will tell you how you need to improve yourself. Even at age 47. They will tell you to dress this way, talk this way, do this or do that. Of course they are opinions. No actual person can tell you what to do, but you can be advised as to how.

It depends on what it is you would like to improve. Is IT the way you dress, or your hair or your language, body language even? For myself, I would like to improve my shape. I assume you may have guessed that I am aged 47, or I wouldn’t be writing this!

By my looks I mean physically. I have reasonable good dress sense. My style is for my age, the colours are OK and I am now dressing for my size correctly. But I am not happy with my SHAPE. Now I found this awesome website that you place your actual measurements in and it tells you what shape you are. I came back being a ‘spoon’. I hadn’t always been a spoon of course. But over time it developed from my years of sitting down at work (yes it does contribute a lot – so get up and move!) as well as having four children, plus as they say, aging.

So why bother now?

This morning I read this very interesting blog from a lovely woman whose has transformed her body from, well, something I actually considered pretty good, to something to dream of! Well when she started out, she was 38. She is now 40 I believe, but I am telling you – she looks 20.

Now you might be thinking, why bother – she is 7 years younger and has had the opportunity at a younger age to really focus on weight loss. Well, just because she was still in her 30’s (late 30’s mind you), she was aging. You may ask what was HER body shape when she started. Well, she pretty much looked like my shape from when I was in my late 20’s. And besides, I am not focussed on weight loss, and neither was she. She needed a health makeover. She wanted her mind body and spirit to be healthier. Part of that for her was getting her physical body in a better condition so her inner self could be at peace.

The first line read: “Who said a muffin top is a given at the age of 40?”

To back that up, she had photos. And there was no muffin top to be seen at the age of 40. Yes she has worked for it, but has proven that the statement is NOT true. You don’t automatically get a muffin top at the age of 40. That made me think about myself. My partner – despite the bad times with the abuse – always said I had a beautiful body for my age. But I had always said to him, gee I wish I had a body like that. His repsonse?

“You are older now and that is the way it is, you can’t ever go back.”

I had always resigned myself to that. But after reading her comment and seeing her pictures, I said no way, I will get it back. I can get it back. Now I am not stupid, I am realistic and know that I am getting older. But if I do not try, then I will never know, correct?

In any case, for the past 15 days, I have been following the instructions on an app from Google playstore that I am really enjoying. It is a workout aimed at increasing the stability of the buttocks. I must say, although I haven’t seen improvement (taking a picture of your back is actually hard in the mirror – any pointers?) I can FEEL improvement. I just feel a bit firmer and my underwear isn’t quite as slack looking, that is they look more inplace correctly – if that makes any sense. I do not want a Beyoncé style bottom, or Jennifer Lopez. I just want a lift.

I want to go from a crinkly elephant to a smoother zebra to a desirable derriere.

OK maybe just the zebras……

 

But this is for myself.

So I am going to take a journey with this (slightly) younger woman’s advice and see where it takes me. Because to me, I have empowered myself to feel better. This is how I feel will help my mind and soul. I am not superficial. I do not judge people by their looks. But I will be honest and say that if I look better, then I will feel better. It will help me with self confidence. It will improve my health. I want to feel good about myself again, and I encourage everyone to find what makes them feel good about themselves. As of today, this is mine.

 

Small Steps

So you may have read a few of my posts. If you have you will be able to perhaps understand something of the situation I came to find myself in. But in a continuation of my Taking Care of Yourself page, here is some more insight into my physical health. It’s just a matter of small steps all the way.

I always wore sunscreen everyday. I always moisturised. I always did my nails. I felt I looked OK for my age. That all stopped when I began to no longer care for myself, during the relationship I was in.

My diet was reasonable, but I had stopped eating after I ‘got out’. So I began to eat again. Pretty much the only good meal I had each week was the lunch that my work colleague gave me on a Monday and Tuesday – she is the chef where I work. And I know it was healthy because we work in childcare. I expanded on that and got some frozen meals – usually Weight Watchers. I also bought some fruit every now and then. It was very hard to be interested in food when you were depressed, anxious, uptight, annoyed, angry, all those things and I got to the point that I would eat only enough to keep functioning. I lost weight of course.

However, the time came when I realised that I cannot portray myself as someone worthwhile if I didn’t treat myself as worthwhile. I had to be a better person. The better person. If I didn’t show the world that I could look after myself, how could I get my children to change their views of me? I needed to get myself back on track. Small steps.

So I began by forcing myself to shower, taking time to do my hair, looking after my skin and nails again. I began to see small improvements in my skin. I started to look a bit more upbeat, more happy with myself. I had my hair done and the comments I received were great. I had lost weight, went down a pants size, but I’m happy with that. I want to maintain that but do it correctly.

Mentally I was not doing so great, however a set of books were really helping me get through this. The books, by Kate James, really help you focus on reducing stress in your life, by simplifying it, change how you think, and believe in yourself. Kate is a coach, a mediation teacher and runs her own business, Total Balance.

Small steps in looking after yourself physically and mentally, will help you to become the person you are. I am still on that journey, but I look in the mirror and say “I will Empower Myself”.

What does a New Year mean to you?

With everyone celebrating the turn over of a New Year, I began thinking about what it really means to me, for me. New Year’s resolutions? I have none, and I’ll tell you why, but I wonder what does a New Year mean to you?

So it is now 2018. I think big deal. It is just another day for me. I have no specific resolutions, aspirations or intentions for this year. This is not because of the depression I suffer. It is because with the things that have happened to me, I just consider each day a new year. A new day to move forward, a chance to make my life better than it was before.

We must move forward EVERY day.

When you are in a Domestic Abuse situation, you think about each and every day, each hour, each minute. You wonder what will happen next, you wonder when it and if it will end. So when you are finally free of the continual stress – which is your resolution, your goal EVERY day – you actually feel elated for a short time, and then very deflated.

Why would I feel deflated?

The life you had was predictable in an unpredictable way though. You knew the routine, you knew your situation, you lived in and breathed it. But with your freedom, you feel safe for a while, but then you start to think where to now, what do I do, where do I go, what do I do with my life – because everything you knew is gone, you feel empty. It is a combination of Stockholm Syndrome and Cognitive Dissonance, something I discovered reading an article by Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, which you can find here: http://drjoecarver.makeswebsit…

Statistically, Christmas and New Year is the time when most people decide to end their lives, because they feel that these end of the year celebrations is no better for them. If you have this feeling, don’t ignore it, recognise it and realise this is part of the growth of your self empowerment. It is a hard struggle, and truthfully a bad time for me, as my daughters birthday is January 4th, and I am not a part of my children’s lives, so it really is an emotionally draining two weeks. My last two New Years celebrations turned out to be quite abusive, so it is actually a reminder of some bad times, however looking at it as another day I do not have to worry about abuse is far more a celebration than anything.

But now what?

Each day is a new day for a survivor of Domestic Abuse. A New Year is no time to decide to change your life. You do that each and every day that you are moving forward. You have ups and downs, but it is always a step AWAY from the situation. Perhaps if you feel that the New Year is a time that you feel you have to have a list, then make them physically attainable. Like a new dress, hair or nails done etc, make them about yourself personally. Because you have already made the best emotionally attainable list for New Year possible – the day you got away from the abusive situation.

 

 

Can a toxic relationship be fixed?

Everyone has that dream of a perfect relationship, some of us discover that relationships can be abusive, toxic and even deadly. Of those in abusive relationships, many of us have hope and wonder – can a toxic relationship be fixed?

Firstly we should examine what a toxic relationship means. If you google “toxic relationship” there are many websites that pop up, but no real dictionary term. Psychology Today has a pop up box which defines it as this: A toxic relationship is any relationship that is unfavorable to you or others. The foundations of any relationship, healthy or not, are most commonly established upon mutual admiration and respect, but can, in time, become remarkably unhealthy. … Toxic relationships can be caused by two polar opposite personality types. (for more information click here https://www.psychologytoday.co…

Wikipedia redirects the term ‘toxic relationship’ to ‘psychological abuse’. Here is it’s determination of that: Psychological abuse (also referred to as psychological violence, emotional abuse, or mental abuse) is a form of abuse, characterized by a person subjecting, or exposing, another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is often associated with situations of power imbalance in abusive relationships including bullying, gaslighting and abuse in the workplace.

I think it is safe to say that a toxic relationship is bad for you.

So, can it be fixed?

Without saying that I condone the reasons or methods behind toxic ‘suppliers’ for the want of a better word, I do agree that there are levels of toxicity. From the real bad extremes of power and control, which are unlikely to change, to the lesser of the evils, where it may be just jealousy ruling the roost.

The lesser levels is where I believe change can be something to hope for. If it is just simple jealousy, where perhaps the opposite sex features predominately on your social media friend list, well, from my point of view, even being the victim, I insisted that all young females half his age be removed from his list. Because there is no need for endless amounts of women in swimwear that are half their age that they don’t even know to be on his list. So fair’s fair, you reciprocate and remove ones from your list. But hey if they are family – even extended family – you have every right to have them. If they are co-workers, old school mates, old friends, anyone that has a genuine reason to be on your list, you keep them. But really, why do we need that person who is a friend of a friend of a friend who might be a mutual friend of your brothers ex girlfriends flatmates best friend?In my case I just wasn’t on facebook anyway!

But you can help some minor issues. Because perhaps that toxic supplier is suffering from their own lack of self esteem. You don’t want to have to consistently butter them up, put them on a pedestal etc, but if you can also recognise their needs in the emotional relationship, then perhaps a balance can be found. Counselling, for singles or couples, may be a good start. Communication is always the key in a relationship, and if personal boundaries can be effectively put in place and be respected and trusted, then yes, it may be worth a try if love is still there.

However, you do not want to be the toxic user forever, where you feed off their behaviour and continually try to keep things calm and better, only to see that those good times are getting overrun by the bad. That is definately an indicator that the toxic relationship can not be fixed. Do not waste your time. Empower yourself.

Do Men really think Women need someone to save them?

The other day I was talking to a work colleague, who pointed out that in fairy-tales women are portrayed as damsels in distress always needing a male. So it made me think do men really think women need someone to save them – to be their knight in shining armour – their fairy-tale?

From an early age we are taught from fairy tales that females require a man to be the saviour, the hope, the love, the romancer and the protector. As children we don’t really understand and think that this is how it should be. As we grow we see men in society as being just that, we may see our fathers being the worker and making the money for the house, we may see men as always driving for family outings, and of course in movies we see men as taking control of situations. Except Lara Croft.

So in retrospect, do men think that is what we need? Do they think that we think that?

Not anymore I hope. There are of course, the ideal relationships, where the man is the fairy-tale. I myself love that feeling. However not to the point where you are treated like a useless idiot, incapable of even pushing a shopping trolley around! – (in my partners defence it is because he is just a gentleman, he does not consider me useless.)

So where are the fairy-tales where women save the men? Where are the men that are locked away in the woods looking after 7 working women? There are snippets here and there, like the Little Mermaid who has determination to save her daughter, or Beauty who rushes to the Beasts aid. There are others of course, but it is always a fairy-tale ending where the male is the ultimate saviour (Mulan is the ONLY exception!). Just look at how the male has his arms around the female, or he is shown bigger, taller, more ideal.

Why are women portrayed so useless and pitiful?

So you prick your finger on a spinning wheel. There’s blood. Do you faint like a princess or do you stick your finger in your mouth and move on?

I’m moving on. I’m off to cut my own way through the brambled hedge-fence from my side. I will watch the knight fight the dragon from another mountain. I don’t have time to wait and ponder a 100 year sleep. I want to live now, and I will do it without being cast as a needy unintelligent incapable woman.

 

What is the meaning of domestic abuse?

You need to consider the whole aspects of domestic violence before you can pinpoint the meaning of domestic abuse. It is often an opinion, as the particular level, situation and/or reasoning behind the abuse may be severe to one sufferer, but not considered as extreme on the spectrum to another.

So lets break that down. We know that domestic means home. So any situation that refers to your home, your family, your life in that home and with that family. Now if you have read my post on the Emotional Abusive Relationship, you would have read that I prefer to call domestic violence as domestic abuse, because of the automatic assumption that is made when the word violence is used. We tend to think of physical abuse when we hear the word violence. I also referred to the Duluth Power and Control Wheel, a circle divided into sections describing tactics used by abusers to control the life and behaviour of their partner. Only one of these sections actually detail physical violence – hence why I refer to it as domestic abuse – there is so much more to it than being physically hurt.

You could see in the diagram what each different section was labelled. Each of the following links will take you to the actual website of the Duluth Model explaining each section, where you can view videos and listen to discussions and gain an understanding of that particular aspect of the wheel.

I used to look at these alot, trying to determine if I was in an abusive relationship. And yes, I definately was. The only one I can honestly say was not used in my relationship, was economic abuse. Well not in the way that is described at least. After counselling sessions, workshops and guidance, I was able to realise and accept that the relationship I was in was abusive.

Now I mentioned above about my opinion on the difference between using the word abuse instead of the word violence. The diagram shows that the inner sections describing eight titled forms of abuse are encircled by an outer circle labelled physical and sexual violence. Alot of the methods used by an abuser are encompassed by using these two forms. But they don’t have to happen. They do not need to be a part of an abusive relationship for it to be called domestic abuse. The link below will also take you to the Duluth Model website, where you can learn more.

Physical and Sexual Violence (outer ring)

I hope you are able to understand a little more about the meaning of domestic abuse from the Power and Control wheel, and if it can help you in your future. If you are still in a domestic abuse situation, I can only advise that you seek help, talk to anyone, even your friend, as you should not be holding such suffering inside of you.

If you are out of the domestic abuse situation, than you have taken a step forward to a better life for yourself, and here I hope I am able to help in some way to regain positive thoughts and learn that it was not your fault in any way, that you are valued, and will take small steps to enrich your life.

Just look in the mirror and say – Today I will Empower Myself.

The Emotional Abusive Relationship – is this where I am?

When we consider Domestic Violence, what do you think of? It is automatic to come up with physical violence first. That is why I prefer to call it Domestic Abuse. Within that whole picture emotional and psychological abuse is far more prevalent than you think. There are many aspects as to what is considered an Emotional Abusive Relationship. However, no one should or would belittle the effect this has on your inner self.

The different types of abuse


Take a look at the Duluth Power and Control Wheel. It shows what is considered as domestic violence. Not every element may factor into your relationship. All counsellors, psychologists, doctors, crisis centres, refuges, women’s centres centres etc will produce this in some form or another to you. However to consider the emotional abusive relationship, the 16 sectioned Power and Control Wheel by Dr Clare Murphy PhD can really help you decide if your relationship falls more under the emotional side of abuse, rather than the physical. This is not to minimise physical violence. Having suffered both emotional and physical abuse, I can honestly say that the Emotional Abusive Relationship is a very powerful form.

My story

So I fell in love with a man. Again. By again I mean I loved him once before. 26 years ago. We were teenagers and we were inseparable. He was fun and exciting and we were each others’ first lovers, first in love, first everything. He was a bit of a naughty boy though, influenced by the wrong crowd. But my mother took a shine to him. Despite a rough upbringing, he was really a well-mannered young teen. I didn’t cope well when he was sent to a youth correctional centre, and when he did something stupid one night (escaping to see me), visting him was forbidden, so we grew apart, and I decided to break it off. I was young and didn’t understand love of course.

But move forward 26 years. I was in a marriage that felt loveless. I had four beautiful children, a stable life, but alcohol was more of a focus for my husband than I was. I was depressed and felt pretty low. But by chance I reconnected with the boy from my youth. We fell in love again. It was easy. He was charming, good-looking, perfect in every way. I didn’t judge him for his problematic past and I felt good.

However, it didn’t last. I do not want to go into what happened at this point, however the following topics I can truthfully say was part of this relationship.

Controlling, Coercive and Convincing

Do you find that you don’t want to receive a text message, even bill reminders, because every ding of your phone is queried? How does that make you feel when it happens day in day out? There are many relationships out there that have no problem checking each other’s phones or even sharing a phone and or email. That’s really great. They are able to feel OK about that, it is something they have accepted with each other – a form of trust in some way. But to have someone look over your shoulder, or watch you while you reply is a really anxious feeling. At first, it is just a ‘curiosity to see what is going on in your life, to know all about you’ – but after time do you really think they need to know that your sister told you that she bought an awesome outfit that day? You know, trivial stuff that goes beyond what is ‘going on in your life’. Or even if you talk to a sales person at a clothing store. They immediately think you must be talking about them because you are looking their way while talking to the store person. You begin to conduct yourself so that these questions/moments of insecurity are avoided. That person has just altered your behaviour. They have controlled the situation they don’t like by coercing you into behaving the way THEY feel comfortable with. In time, they convince you they are still the loving person they are, they just like things a certain way. You are convinced that what you said or did was what may have caused the problem at the time.

Walking on Eggshells?

This is an old phrase meaning to adapt one’s behaviour in order to deal with someone else’s. Pretty much to behave in a pleasing way (in their eyes), so any possible angry, elevated situation is averted or minimised. Do you find yourself walking with your eyes down so that you cannot be accused of looking at another person of the opposite sex? Are you able to continue to wear the clothing you use to because they think it is too revealing, even though they tell you that you are a very dignified modest individual and very classy? You rifle through your wardrobe and automatically bypass the clothing you now subconciously know will cause a problem.

Do you abide by a request, because it is easier than arguing? Do you really want to continue waking up each morning wondering what will happen that day, or planning ahead certain responses that will abate a situation? That’s almost like having a script to a story that you’ve read ahead. Not the best way to live a life.

But how do you feel?

Do you have silent tears? Do you cry yourself to sleep, tears that can’t be heard (for fear of them hearing it)? If you have suffered through name calling, belittling, demeaning, inconsideration, shouting, and even being talked over the top of, you are in an Emotional Abusive Relationship. Your feelings are important, and you should no longer suffer through such an emotionally draining experience. You may find that you still love this person (as I do), and have hope, but you need to look after yourself. Do not become a stroke on a chalkboard, a person that is just dealt there. Remember who you are. What are your hopes and dreams? I know from experience the only way to move out of this feeling is to acknowledge what has happened, recognise the forms of it and deal with it. Understand it. Take control of yourself, seek help. Believe you are better than how you have been treated. I woke up one day and said “I need to Empower Myself”. So I did. And I am.