The Scars Are Real… and I. Will. Never. Forgive…

TRIGGER WARNING : THIS POST DISCUSS SEVERAL TYPES OF ABUSE.

Abuse of any kind stays with you for a very long time. Even the kind of abuse that is committed by one of the people who is supposed to love and protect you beyond anything else. You can remember some of it. You can remember the first day that it actually happened. Every touch, every smell, every taste. Then the hand patting the top of your head like you were a freaking dog and telling you that this was our little secret and we mustn’t tell anyone, and especially not mummy because she will only get hurt and I will make her cry.

No way on this earth was I going to do that to my simply amazing and wonderful mum because she did not deserve to be hurt because I was being naughty. This went on for years until I became fourteen and all of a sudden it stopped. I was never sure why, but I was so relieved. But I realise why now. I was too old for you wasn’t I? Too old and too past it in your eyes. I didn’t offer the same set of thrills for you anymore. I wasn’t “fresh meat”.

My wonderful mother died when I was 16 years old after a long battle against breast cancer. I spent a couple of years after my mum died drinking and taking every drug I could swallow. I applied for my nurse training. I got accepted but my head kept on telling me that once they knew what I was – something dirty, something tainted that they would rescind my offer and send me on my way. One morning I woke up and realised that I had to get clean otherwise I would never be anything in life. So I went cold turkey and sweated it out for that was the only option open to me. It was hell but I did it.

I had a job and was doing it to kill time until I started my nurse training. It was only waitressing but it was a job and it kept a roof over my head. Being kicked out at 16 makes you grow up pretty damn fast, it really does!

I met my ex husband on a night out with some friends from work. He was 11 years older than me and incredibly charming. By the end of the night he had managed to isolate me from my friends and manoeuvre me into a corner all by myself. I guess that should have been the first red flag that something was not at all right in this whole situation

He basically, for the first six months of our relationship, treated me like a princess. He put me on a pedestal and gave me everything that I wanted. Within a week of us meeting, he had persuaded me to give up both my job and my apartment, getting me to move in with him. He was effectively isolating me and I never saw it happening. I had to depend on him for food, shelter, money – everything. He had me totally under his control. He started to apply pressure on me about my friends. Why did I need them he would ask me. Why did I need them when he was everything that I could possibly need? I began to talk to my friends less and less and before too much longer, I had none. He had me totally isolated.

This was when the gaslighting started. He was slowly engineering sets of circumstances that would make me doubt my own sanity. I began to think that they were all my fault and that I was starting to lose it. He would make a point of telling me that I would never cope on my own and that I needed him. That I needed him to survive. I believed him so totally. One of his favourite tricks would be taking my door keys off the key hook and putting them in bizarre places like the bathroom, next to the toilet, or in the kitchen cupboards. I believed him so completely. I had done that. He would never do something like that. Maybe he was right. I was crazy and I would never cope in the world without him. I needed him to survive. Before too long I was utterly convinced I couldn’t function unless he was by my side.

The verbal abuse was so subtle at first. He would criticise me for wearing too much make up when we went out. My clothes were too slutty, my heels were too high. Soon I was going out in baggy jeans and long sleeved jumpers and trainers and no make up. The plainer I looked, the happier he was with me.

The closer that I got to starting my nurse training, his attitude and his behaviour started to change. It was so subtle that I never even noticed it. There were lots of snidey remarks about doctors and nurses and the things that they “got up to behind the scenes”. He constantly accused me of having affairs with doctors and also of having bisexual affairs with women as I had “dirty filthy queers” as friends and they rubbed off on me. (Yes, I had some properly amazing friends in the LGBT+ community and they kept me sane) but I never once had an affair with anyone.

The first physical blow came when I had been on my first ward placement about six weeks. I came home from my shift and he was hurling abuse at me and screaming I was a whore and I should admit my affairs. I burst into tears. How could I admit to what I had not done? The pressure became more intense, until he struck me with the back of his hand right in the mouth and knocked me flying back onto the bed. That was the first of many times that he raped me.

From then on in, the verbal abuse was a daily occurrence and the physical abuse occurred at least three or four and sometimes more times a week. The sexual violence was slightly less because a lot of the time I was simply too scared to say no to him. A no meant a beating and being forced.

I simply could not understand why this was happening to me. I had never done anything to deserve this treatment and I just had no idea why it was happening. I tried to think why. Was it truly me? Had I really done something so very wrong to deserve all of this? Many nights I lay awake whilst he was in a drunken stupor and I cried for the girl that I had lost.

When he proposed I accepted without even thinking. I thought that agreeing to marry him would calm him down and convince him that I was somebody that he could trust. Sadly not. The abuse picked up and became worse. It was a daily thing now.

Even having two beautiful babies did not convince him of my loyalty. Several more years went by and slowly the abuse got worse and worse. Many times I have been asked why on earth I didn’t just leave him. Nobody who has not been through this kind of abuse can ever really understand the answer to this question. I could not find the courage to leave because I was so utterly crushed and dragged down by his abuse that I believed every single word that he said. I was stupid, dumb, a moron. A fat, ugly bitch who would never ever cope without him to guide her.

Then one day came the straw that broke the camel’s back. He threatened the lives of the boys. He threatened them both with a ten inch long machete. That was enough. I waited until he was passed out blind drunk in the early hours and grabbed my bag and the boy’s coats and we ran. We left every single thing that was owned behind us, fleeing in only the clothes we stood up in. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared. I kept on thinking that he would find us and stop us. It was when the train was about 40 minutes out of the station that the “where the fuck are you?” phone calls started.

I fled to the house of a very good friend of mine. She protected me, made sure that I got the right help and was always there. In the end, the police took my mobile because my idiot ex actually made death threats and left them on my answerphone. Those messages were evidence in my court case.

Eventually I decided that I needed to return home. To make sure that my boys were safe and happy. I decided to come back to Scotland. I was raised upon the largest of the Shetland Isles until I was 8 years old. My ‘father’ one day decided that he was going to take us back to where he was born, just outside of Manchester in England. I missed my homeland so very much that I could not have truly considered settling anywhere else and knew that it would be the safest place for the three of us to begin to heal.

Luckily for me, I had a friend in Aberdeen. He was one of my friends from Shetland and he now lived on the mainland. I contacted him to let him know I needed his help to flee and he gave it willingly. He drove down to where I was staying, helped to pack up the meagre possessions that we had into a van and he drove us back to Scotland. He let us stay at his place until I was able to find the house that I live in now.

My life is safer now. The kids are no longer at risk from him and that is all that I care about. They have good lives which is all that matters.

I carry a great deal of scars both physical and mental from my 25 years of abuse. The mental illnesses illnesses that I have to live with as a result of the abuse are never going to go away. That I have accepted now. But I fight hard to keep my kids from seeing any more tears or pain from me. They have seen enough. They don’t deserve to see more.

I’m moving slowly through my life and I’m doing the very best that I can. I can think of two people I would stick my middle finger up to. My ‘father’ and my ex. They both told me that I was useless, fat, ugly, pathetic and would never cope without them. I have coped. I have escaped and we are moving on with our lives. My story is not over yet. ;

I guess that’s why I’m trying to write this piece. Fuck the piece of shit monster who abuses you. You can get out. When you feel the time is right for you, you can work. You can fly free.

But one thing I will say is this. I. Will. NEVER. EVER. Forgive. No fucking way. I’ve had therapists a plenty tell me that I should let go. Fuck that. I want to remember. I want to hate them. I want to loathe every single pervert who put his hands on me. I will never give them the satisfaction of knowing that they have gotten away with what they did. Suffer bitches. Just like you’ve all made me suffer. Burn in hell. Fuck you. All of you. You will never ever know peace while you know that you are not forgiven for your crimes.

To my fellow survivors (I refuse to use the word victim), I salute you. You can escape. You can fly and be free. I promise you. Be safe beautiful people.

Be kind to each other.x

Bullying in the Workplace…

I have a longstanding history of being bullied. I was bullied by my so called ‘father’ until I broke all contact with him at the age of 16. Why was he a bully? Apart from the fact that he was a violent, alcoholic asshole, I honestly don’t know. My best guess is that he made himself feel bigger by making me feel small. I was badly bullied at school, from the age of 9 to the day I left at 16.

All of this had combined to give me some serious self confidence issues. I felt less than nothing. It was heartbreaking for me. I always tried my very best to be a valuable person, to integrate into whichever team or group of people I was in and to blend in.

It never happens to me. I never blend in. I am always the one that may as well have a flashing blue light above her head and a bullseye painted front and back.

I had wanted to be a nurse for a long time. Yet my father did not like that idea and was making every effort he could get to bully me into going to uni to study Law. When I got my first college form, he swept it out of my hand and demanded they were changed to Law, Sociology, psychology and his favourite chemistry. (No’ frikkin’ way jose!) He threw me out of the house two weeks after my mum’s funeral. I was 16 years old. The woman who he threw me out for was the woman he left my mum for. I’m glad I didn’t have to be around to see her move into that house and into my mum’s bed.

I had one relationship with an emotionally manipulative bully, whom I managed to escape from. We were together for just two years. Then when I was 19 I met what I thought was the love of my life. He treated me like a princess, married me, and turned into a carbon copy of my ‘father’ – a violent alcoholic. Within a few weeks, I was so under his control I wouldn’t lift up my head unless he spoke to me.

I know all of this is not relevant to workplace bullying. But it is relevant to me as a person and it is important to understand my past in order to understand why my workplace bullying affected me in the place that it did.

I qualified as a nurse at the end of 1995. I was so very excited to have finally become a nurse after three long years of study and hard work. I had always wanted to work in medicine – surgical wasn’t for me. So I was thrilled to get a job on a medical ward.

My first shift was a very quiet one as it was Christmas Day. That was not too bad. I felt a little like a square peg in a round hole, but I put that down to the awkwardness of it being my first day on the ward.

My second day however, everything changed. The deputy ward manager was working with me and asked me to go and get her a specific bag of IV fluid as her patient’s IV was almost finished. It took me about five minutes to locate it as I hadn’t been given a proper tour of the ward and shown where everything was. When I got back to her with the bag of fluid, she screamed at me in front of the whole ward, patients and staff, “Are you dumb?”

That was soul crushing. I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyelids. I mumbled a sorry and managed to make it to the staff toilets. Then the tears came down thick and fast. I couldn’t believe that she had done that to me in front of the whole ward.

This was the beginning of almost a year of intense bullying and victimisation for me. There was a clique of staff in that ward and if you didn’t fit in to it then you were ostracised and ignored every single day. I was only ever spoken to if it was to make a direct work request or to belittle me. I was ignored, had backs turned to me, was given all the worst shifts and it got worse with every single day that passed.

The bullying got so bad that I would walk around with my head down. I walked to my patients’ beds with my head facing the floor and would only look up when I got to them. It got so bad that I used to cry every single time that I had to go in to work. Then it would intensify and no matter how I tried to be a good nurse and part of the team they hated me. Big time! One of the few people I was friends with there, who was subject to the same kind of bullying told me that one of the staff had said every time she saw me she wanted to slap me. That made me feel awful. It must be me. My husband beat me and now a colleague wanted to? This made my life hell.

Then I found out that one of the junior staff on the ward was going to be moved to a different ward and oh boy did I hope it was me. I couldn’t bear the atmosphere there anymore and was getting more upset day by day.

Then I found out it was me to be moved. First of all, I was told that a draw on names had been done to “make it fair”. A part of me thought oh, ok, at least that makes it all fair. Then it came to the surface that wasn’t the case at all. That horrible cow who had bullied me to the verge of a nervous breakdown had set it up so that my name was guaranteed to come out. I was thrilled to be moving from that hell hole of a ward but the fact that these horrible people could be so mean and pathetic as to set me up and then lie about it like that? I almost felt as if it was a kick to the stomach.

I moved to the new ward and even though the staff were super nice, they were worried about me.

I was referred to occupaitional health and put onto nights (which I loooooved!)

However, one night two very senior managers arrived on the ward asking to see me! *gulp* Oh boy what had I done??? Then they told me to get my cigarettes as I might need them and got ma a mug of coffee! This really was not a good sign!

They were both very kind and put my nerves behind me right at the start. They were here to talk about the the bullying that I had endured for over a year. It seemed to be fate that so many people had gone through the bullying. That so many people were affected was horrifying to me. I should have been and opened my mouth to the nurse director but I didn’t. I started do feel like utter crap for this!

I slowly talked about my experiences and about the fact that my lack of action over the other people was eating me up inside. I got told that right up front it wasn’t my fault, as every single one of us (there were many) that had been victimised by this woman and her clique of cronies all felt the same. We all wishes we had spoken up, but we were all too scared.

The more we talked, the more memories came spilling out. It was like picking a scab. You really wanted to stop, but once you had started, then you had to keep going until all of the scab was gone. I remembered all the little details like them making a tray of drinks (tea and coffee) for them and there was never a cup for me. Offers would be made to go to the canteen on Sunday morning and I was never asked. If I overheard and asked, my order would be conveniently be forgotten every single time. A million and one tiny things very quickly built up and they pushed me right to the edge of breaking. I hadn’t realised just how close to breaking I was. I turned out that this interview was the catalyst that pushed me over the edge and into the abyss.

I sobbed for about thirty minutes non stop as they finished the interview and they were really good. They held my hands and said I may need to give evidence of my experience at a tribunal which made me sob even more but I understood why. They also said I could go home for the night as I wasn’t fit to finish my shift and they would understand if I needed time to heal.

That time to heal turned into almost three months off work. I couldn’t face it. I felt sick to the stomach about going back there and even when I did go back, I didn’t feel confident for a long time.

This whole experience sickened me to the core. Instead of being brave and reporting things, I let them multiply until I became very ill and that was what left me off work for so long.

I’m telling my story now in the hope that I can inspire even one person to have the courage to speak up and speak out about the workplace bullying that they are either witnessing or undergoing.

I am now medically retired due to physical health issues. However I have seriously bad anxiety and paranoia which are attributed in part to the way that I was treated by that group of people at work. I would seriously urge anyone who is going through workplace bullying to please go to someone and speak out. Don’t make the mistakes I did and end up so ill that you cannot function. Don’t suffer. Speak up and speak out for the sake of your sanity. Please don’t suffer alone.

My blog can be found here: https://arwenfreebird.wordpress.coma

This feels weird…

I’m now heading to having four hours of sleep in forty eight hours. My legs feel wibbly as hell and my muscles are shaking. I’m snapping at everyone and behaving in general like an Imelda Marcos wannabe (without the shoes).

Yes in my dictatorship, things should all be hunky dory. Trouble is… they’re far from OK. A good dictator should project a firm and forceful image to his or indeed her people. That’s really the first thing that should happen. Yet what do the citizens of my dictatorship get? A pathetic, useless, self loathing, fat, stupid piece of crap.

Not much of a benevolent leader huh? Wouldn’t you think that you would have someone who had a little bit of self belief? Not in my town, which is no grand open space full of happiness. My town is the mess inside my head.

Why is it such a mess? That is when it becomes difficult. Talking over the events that lead to me feeling the way I do always leaves me feeling like I am trying to swallow a lump of wet cement and the more I struggle to get the words up my throat and out of my mouth. So for me to sit here and explain  why I am so fucked up is going to be almost impossible. But I’ll try.

I was raised by my grandfather and my mum. My ‘father’ was a foul mouthed, verbally and physically abusive bully to both my mum and myself. He got off on hurting people who were not strong enough to fight back to him.

He was smart enough to never do any of this crap in front of my grandfather as he knew that my pappy would have beaten the crap out of him. The one and only time that my pappy challenged him was the time that my ‘father’ decided that he was going to move us back to the place that he came from in the North West of England.

Ever since we moved, my life became a living hell. None of the kids at my new school wanted to play with me! I was a huge target for the bullies. Not only was life hell at school, but things got a lot worse at home for me. 

My mum was sick, so he was leaving her alone. This meant he turned to me. His words were enough to cut me down at first and oh boy did he ever cut me down. I was ugly, fat, stupid, useless, idiotic and unable to get anything right.

The physical abuse came next. I always knew when I was going to get hit. He would pace up and down the room, punching his fist into his other hand. Then all of a sudden, he would lash out. Not only would he use his hands, he would use a belt, a hairbrush, his shoe and any number of other weapons. He would lock me in a small cupboard for hours at a time to control me.

That wasn’t the worst of it. It was the nights that I heard him at my bedroom door that were the worse. My monster was real. I can’t…it just hurts…too much. I remember the stench of whiskey and the pawing hands as he would say sorry afterwards. It sickens me to my very soul. I cannot even stand the smell of whiskey now.

My mum died from breast cancer when I was 16. My ‘father’ kicked me out. I ended up in a crappy little one roomed place with a job in a burger bar. I could at least pay my bills and live.

Life limped on with me getting drunk a lot. Eventually I dried out and applied for my nurse training. I was accepted!

On my 19th birthday, some of the girls from work took me out for a drink. I met a guy. I fell hard and fast for him. Within a week I had moved in with him and within six months, we were married. A huge mistake. He turned out to be a carbon copy of my ‘father’ and I became what I had sworn I had never be – a battered wife.

There are years of abuse. Much as the situation with my ‘father’. I cannot bring myself to talk about what happens. The words just solidify in my throat. I can’t say them. Maybe one day they will come out.

The birth of two children did nothing to stop him. He didn’t care about any of us. It took me a long time to build up the courage to escape him.

We may be physically free from the terror now, but I remember all too well the cold fear from even just hearing his voice. I don’t know if that will ever change. 😦

Now I’m also living with PTSD, bipolar, BPD, generalised anxiety disorder, OCD, a hatful of phobias and other problems. I also have my physical issues

So you see, being a benevolent dictator in my realm is not easy. I have all of the hate swirling round in my head. If people just felt that terror for one second, then they may understand a tiny bit of the sick fear. They might be able to dance with my demons.
I’m just hoping they let me sleep tonight. Even just a little.

Why?…

Why can’t I heal? Why can I not move on? People keep on telling me that I must let go and stop letting my past control me. If only it was that easy. I wish that I could let that past go and move through what haunts my dreams.

I have always tried to put on a mask to try and conceal the hurt that eats away at my soul. But I find it almost impossible to keep that mask from slipping when I am hurting. I have no close friends. My best friend lives hundreds of miles away. So when my depression looms and I want comfort, the only way that I can find it is either through a blog post or posting on Facebook. I’ve been ostracised for my Facebook posts. People have tutted and moaned and voiced their abject disgust at my pathetic inability to cope with my life.

I’ve lost friends because of this. People that had been really close to me prior to this falling out. But they apparently could not cope with my need to express myself in a vain attempt to heal my pain. I was devastated. At first it almost felt like a betrayal. These people were so valuable to me. Yet they could not allow me the one therapy I have that actually works… talking about my pain on my Facebook page. Yes, I could understand them saying that is was depressing and they couldn’t cope, but how the hell did they expect me to cope? There is a quote by the wonderful Marilyn Monroe… 

I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.

The last sentence of that quote really struck home with me. It’s so true. If you can’t handle me when I’m falling apart, then you don’t deserve me when I’m back together. That is how I have dealt with the loss of people that were such a big part of my life.

I had a flashback in the early hours of this morning. They are so vivid and so horrible that I feel like I am back there. I can smell the whiskey on his breath. I can feel his hands. I can even hear the dog barking next door. I’m still shaking. My pulse is racing and my breathing is really unsettled. You can guarantee I’ll have a night terror tonight. They always come the night after a flashback. I don’t know why, but they always do.

Maybe if I had a closer friend, things would be better. I really don’t know. But I have to express my pain somehow. I have to get it out of my system. I can’t stand the way it hurts.

I’ve been told many times to “move on” or “forget it” but it isn’t that easy. I can’t. It clings to me like a thick toxic cloud. When people tell me to “forget it” it feels like they are trivialising my pain and debasing how I feel. Why can’t I heal?

The darkness of my soul.

Ive been feeling very broken in the last few days. More broken than I normally do. I know that most people are sick and tired of my moaning, but I cannot talk about it properly. I just can’t.

I have tried so many times to shape the words and force them out of my mouth. Yet they stick in my throat and simply refuse to come crawling up out of my soul. So they remain crammed in their boxes, festering away.

People tell me to “get over it” like it is such an easy thing to achieve. Like I enjoy going through this emotional hell every day? I would give anything not to have to fight with my demons every single day. I would.

I have to hide it away, and keep it hidden for hours on end. I refuse to let the people who mean the most to me see me cry the way I need to when I get this down. Because I have to drop to the floor and scream whilst banging my fists on the floor. Those howls are a cathartic outlet for my grief and my rage.

Even now I can’t write in my own blog about what happened to me. Maybe sometime in the future I will. Maybe one day I will be able to purge my demons and chase away the darkness in my soul.