I was unable to sleep last night. It took me ages to drop off and then I woke constantly throughout the night wondering if I’m doing the right thing by wanting love in my life again, even though deep down I know I am. I then woke this morning after only five hours of broken sleep in a state of anxiety. My stomach was flipping, I had indigestion, something I haven’t had for weeks, and I could feel the anxiety building. I tried to stop myself to see what it was about but couldn’t so I got online and started doing some googling. I can no longer remember the route I took to get to where I ended up but I found myself reading an article about people that have been in domestic abusive relationships who are then diagnosed with having post traumatic stress disorder. The more I read, the more it sounded like me. I’m now thinking back over the last few years and connecting the dots, whether correctly or not I don’t know. The panic and anxiety I have suffered throughout that time, the constant shutting down and running away from Phil when he did even the slightest thing that I could construe as being like Tom, even though he was the absolute polar opposite of Tom. The massive fear I have about dating, even describing dating sites as dangerous – that is, after all, where I met Tom. The numbness I’ve felt since 2011, the complete lack of emotional feeling. The way I stay indoors almost all of the time, how I can no longer cope with going out unless it’s for a quick trip to the supermarket or to somewhere that’s not too crowded. The rest of the time, I spend indoors. My inability to live a normal life; my fear of leaving the kids, my fear of something happening to the kids, of me letting them down. The feeling, whenever I was with Phil that it was simply too difficult, that by being with him meant I had to face massive challenges just to get through each day and then choosing to be single because life just felt easier, like a relief because the challenges weren’t there any more. How I felt when Linda suggested connecting me with Michael, how I could barely sleep out of anxiety. How every single thing that a man does I instantly link to abuse or control. The way I’ve told friends that their husbands are abusive or controlling and if I haven’t said it, I’ve thought it. In fact, I think I’ve thought it about every single male I’ve come across over the last five years – that in one way or another their behaviour, no matter how small, proved that they were abusive. It’s as if my mind if honed in on abuse and control and I can’t see or think beyond that. I can’t date, I can’t communicate with a man, I can’t make proper friendships with women because I even see the behaviour of some women as trying to control me, especially Linda.
It seems that when I’m single and when I’m indoors, I am safe. I don’t have to come across anyone that may abuse me or try and control me but as soon as I step out into the world and try and do something that would give me pleasure, such as meeting someone or seeing friends, it all comes crashing back down again and I go back to withdrawing. The only way I can cope, if I have no choice but to see people, is to either be really silly and jokey, the way I always did when I was a child, or I act quite aggressively, at least verbally aggressive. I become opinionated and argumentative and I just do whatever I can to keep them at arms length or to just cope with them if they’re coming across to me as trying to control.
Yesterday I realised that being a survivor or abuse means I am a changed person. I am not the person I was before I met Tom and I can’t have the same kinds of people in my life that I had before I met him. I can only cope with kind, gentle, loving people now and so the times that I’ve thought Phil wasn’t right for me, I fear I was wrong because in fact, I fear I won’t be able to date anyone now that isn’t exactly like Phil. I have changed beyond all recognition and I need to have someone that’s understanding, patient and loving at all times. I couldn’t cope now with dating someone like Greg or Danny because they’re not gentle enough and so I find myself facing up to the fact that the abuse changed me and it doesn’t really matter how much work I have done on myself over the last five years, I’m never going to be the person I was before and that is just another reason why Phil was perfect for me. There just isn’t anyone else I can trust as much as I did him. I have to work on this anxiety every minute of every day until I learn, once and for all, that not every man is going to abuse or control me, nor are they going to abandon me or stop loving me.
I really thought, after all the hard work I’ve done over the last five years, most especially last year, that I’d cleared it all but I can now see, given my reaction this morning and also how I reacted with Michael and also on the dating site, that I’m still really traumatised by it all and I can see that if I really want to have a relationship I have to clear it. Regardless of any potential relationship, I have to do this work. I’ve been stuck in the same place for almost five years, unable to move in any direction, frozen. If I really want to embrace the work I did last year, and really want to start letting in this year, first I must remove these last blocks.