You can’t expect to get healing from the place that caused you pain and I know I need space from my family. Not in malice but I need space from my family. This decision has had to come with awareness. Not from a place of anger but from a place of understanding. Understanding that I have to create this distance because it’s necessary for my growth. My growth as an adult woman. I cannot blame anyone for how I feel but I cannot deny how I feel. I feel a sense of shame around them. I always have. I have always felt exposed. I feel my mother has thrown me under the bus. I feel a need to be validated around them, that is not their fault and I’ve always felt not good enough. I love them but I don’t trust them and that’s not a good feeling. So I need the separation, I need space to figure out how I feel. I don’t need the pressure of trying to pretend I’m okay when I’m not or to feel I need to rush to get well. I need the freedom to explore who I am without having to feel I am an embarrassment. I no longer want to feel that emotion but being attached to them, that’s just what I feel.
It’s a strange one but I love my family but I also know that no one has cared enough to find out how I feel. No one has really come around me but they have all these expectations. I cannot live up to all these expectations. I’ve learnt to internalise panic, I’ve learnt to internalise fear but it’s written on my body. I need to find my truth and live my truth whether it’s okay with you or not. For me this existence is no longer an option. For a long time I resisted this process. But the longer I left it, the worse I became until a total collapse, undignified, stripped of self confidence and dignity. I need to sort out my life. I can no longer live this lie. It’s time to face my reality.
I have to always consciously check myself on this because I compensated as an autistic woman by copying others, constantly seeking validation and aiming to please to be accepted. At different stages of my life, I presented differently but the core was still the same. I was always codependent. Through the process of surviving coveted narcissistic abuse my self worth, self confidence and self value has deteriorated to an all time low. Self esteem and self respect is a memory. I have stopped living even before I realised. I’m a zombie who does the bare minimum, clutching at straws because I know I have potential but not really having a clue how to live again. In reality the only reason I clung to life was because of the guilt of leaving my kids. I remember the dark days I used to research euthanasia and the day I lost reason and tied a noose, had my son not cried, reason would have not returned. I hadn’t slept for 4 days and my mind was fried. I remember when I took on overdose of antidepressants just to numb the constant pain and constant processing of my mind. Self care was lacking. My body began to reject food because I starved it subconsciously as my appetite shut down and I usually eat when I’m hungry. It got to dangerously levels where I didn’t have enough energy for the whole day. It affected all my systems. Mental illness is a bitch. It’s a scary and lonely place to be I have better days since my diagnosis now I know what I’m dealing with, now I know who I am. My days are not so dark. Awareness and acceptance is allowing me to recognise the warning signs but I am not totally out of the red. I’m exhausted. I’ve totally lost all structure and my ADHD symptoms are severe. I cannot explain the emotion and feeling like shit feeling. The worthless feeling. The WTF feeling. The total loss of dignity in front of everyone including my children and the outside world. Someone I chose to love all my life and would have laid my life down for, I trusted this person, I gave allowances for this person and they treat me like “someone on road”. Now that’s a mind fuck . Everything crashed for me. I have always struggled but from a very young age I never developed trust. So Ego learnt to protect itself. I stole and bought friends from a very young age and was whipped at home as a form of punishment. Home was a prison for me and school was my refuge. I craved to be popular. I told stories often merging fantasy and reality. At home I sucked my thumb and read novels and became one of the characters. Stealing money for me became an obsession to feed the need for love and validation and acceptance at school. The kids loved me at school. I mean who wouldn’t love a kid with that much money. But then the blackmails started from older kids who sussed out I was stealing and that added the pressure of having to steal to meet their demands. On days I wasn’t able to steal any money, or on days I got caught and there were many occasions like this; after I had been whipped mercilessly at home, I was sent to school and I was a mess and lived with the anxiety of being “grassed” to my parents. I actually lived with a real fear that I could be killed. That was my perception as a young child. So no home was not a refuge or safe place. It was just somewhere I had to be and there was nothing I could do about it until I grew up. I was aware that I brought a lot of the beatings on myself; after all I was a thief and my mother was actually doing me a favour by not exposing me to my friends. She always threatened to do that, I wonder why she never did. Sometimes I wonder if it was a scare tactic to watch my breakdown. That was the only thing that would actually send me into intense fear and panic and melt down mode. I accepted the beatings as punishment. I expected it when I got caught. I understood I was bad but the thought of my friends finding out and not wanting to have anything to do with me then I’ll have nobody sent me into a frenzied panic. I already lived with the realisation and perception that my mother had told her friends and family what a problem child I was. I was sent to many deliverance services some of which exploited a vulnerable child. My friends were my everything, I did everything and anything to please them. I sought affection and validation from others. My brothers I took care of and entered a protection mothering role; not because they were in any danger but because I knew pain, I didn’t want them to know pain so I picked up after them and generally tried to make sure they were not in trouble. We all adopted different coping mechanisms and have presented differently as adults but this is my journey to healing and I can only take responsibility for myself. I also adopted the caring role from a very young age cleaning cuts and bruises as my mother was very squeamish and didn’t do well with blood and gore. I was a capable mini mummy and didn’t mind it. I guess it was a time I could actually be viewed as useful and I had found a place where I could be of use to someone else that made me feel good about myself. Looking after others has always made me feel good about myself maybe because subconsciously I have always felt bad about myself. I was also raised to put others first and with a service mentality. This probably came from my mother’s upbringing. I don’t know too much about her life becomes we never had that kind of relationship and anything she ever said about her childhood always shed her in a heroine light. She prides herself on holding onto God, he hears our suffering and eternity will be a better place if we believe. Her perception of her past is one of gratitude. She is a strong Christian and has always lived a Christian life and tried to raise her children in the Christian faith. She prides herself on her faith and is proudly convinced that this is the only way. That is faith but as I am going through my journey and starting to process my past, I am coming to realise that people use different things as coping mechanisms in their lives as a form of surviving their own demons. As I walk the path, I am coming to realise that the more damaged you are the more damaged your abuser was. My mother was separated from her family at a young age, I don’t know how young and raised in Covent schools. Therefore she was able to give us all the practical tools to survive and still does. Emotionally, things were different in my perception, prayers were her form of emotional support. Physical Punishment was in alignment with her faith but there was the degradation, humiliation, threatening behaviour, verbal abuse, she had a fear of sexuality or me having one which was an irony because I was being sexually abused from a young age. My mother and I have a warped relationship. I know she loves me to what her idea of love should be because that’s all she knows love to be. Going through all my mental health struggles, I mostly did it by myself and was so ashamed when I had breakdowns because I could see it and hear it from my mother that I needed to quickly get up and get on with it. So it’s taken a lot of courage and a lot of years and sheer desperation to conquer shame. Shame has been ingrained in me from a very young age. This is what keeps us in bondage. Shame of what people think. I let it fester and like a cancer it has spread over my mind and body to the extent I cannot function. I have lost skills I acquired along the way.
The diagnosis of Autism finally allows my life to make sense. Pathological demand avoidance makes sense. I have developed extreme avoidance and found ways to manage myself subconsciously.
After the breakup of my marriage which didn’t make sense, I needed the separation to understand what the fuck was going on. I needed space to reflect. Living together under those circumstances especially with the latest betrayal of leaving me to go and have our child by myself, going to work instead because we had an argument finished me. That was the nail on the coffin I thought but the way he tried to absolve himself from this fuck up was the start of the what the fuck. This man had never been there for the birth of any of his children. I had 3 by him and another woman had 2. He totally separated and alienated both families and was happy with the alienation between his family and me. I slowly detached from all my friends because it was easier and my time was spent trying to work to keep the family afloat and quarrel and him not pulling his weight and I was always in a state of confusions. He played mind games. I’ve only just found out about narcissistic abuse so it makes sense now, but in the heat of the moment his mask used to slip and it used to leave me confused. Then he would straighten up again and be all sugar and light. It was during our separation that the demon appeared and the demon appeared only because he had been caught red handed. I didn’t know this person. My head was fucked with the realisation that I had been in love with an illusion. This man treated me like the shit under his shoe and degraded and humiliated me in front of everyone and anyone that cared to listen including his new flame. I had recently had a child and became pregnant very quickly with another, his father was dying of cancer and we were separated. It was a difficult pregnancy which I was not sure I wanted to keep, not because I didn’t want another child but because I didn’t want another child for him with all the drama it would bring. I had a consultation for a termination and the lady said after o had explained the situation. What would you do in the ideal world whether he was around or not? I said keep my child and I walked out of there knowing I had made the right decision. It was a high risk pregnancy and I was bleeding but I had regular scans and everything was still intact. I told him at his fathers funeral when he told me his son was going to be a dad. As his father got sicker and sicker, he kind of started to distance himself and I allowed him his space. My rationale was he needed to be with his family and grieve. When I told him about the pregnancy, he responded with a it can’t be mine but he would come and discuss. He never came and I didn’t pay him no mind. Babies when they are born don’t hide. Unfortunately my waters broke at 18 weeks. Too much stress on my mind and my body. He was called to take care of the kids; he offered to be there with me through the trauma. I was grateful. He was kind but he was also shifty. My intuition said “another woman”. Subconsciously I must have known he is a pathological liar because I’ve always gone detective on him and every time I listen to my intuition and my intuition has always been right. So when I went detective on him, he was indeed seeing another woman. I was not mentally prepared for this and that’s when the mind games started in earnest. 4 years ago wow. I didn’t have a clue in the world what I was dealing with. I’m only beginning to understand narcissistic abuse. I didn’t have a clue with what I was dealing with a parasite who sucked me dry until I was able to break free. With a lot of damage and a life that’s completely fallen apart. My survival instincts have kicked in and I have developed extreme avoidance to life. My systems have shut down and I need to fight against my natural instincts if I have any chance or hope of recovery.
I have these pages to fill but where do I start? I carry with me a truck load of luggage and believe me when I say at 40 years of age I don’t travel light. When I think back to when I started to question, sometimes I wish I had just left things alone. It was easier to live in ignorance hence the phrase “Ignorance is bliss”. But that’s what happens when you are in survival, your brain buttons shut down in order for you to deal with the trauma you are facing. You may not even recognise you are in an abusive situation, I know I didn’t. My life didn’t make sense but I would have never in a million years equated my relationship as abuse by a narcissist. It’s only after the break up, the “beast” appeared in full view when the mask was dropped and this was what really caused me to break down. I didn’t recognise this person. My world collapsed. It’s still shattered and with shaky fingers. I keep picking pieces up only for some pieces to drop again because my hand is not steady. I feel like after 4 and a half years of separation and back and forth, I am still uncovering layers. To be fair, it’s only 4 months ago, the final goodbye happened and this time I didn’t even have to ask him to leave. He knew I was done. My energy was different. It’s taken the Divine himself to reveal reality and this was started from a chain reaction of me speaking into existence. My life in 2011 was chaotic and on a downward spiral. I got married to the “man of my dreams” in 2010. We had 3 children, one was my daughter and he moved in to be a family in 2006. We never made sense but I was still living this fantasy that we could make our relationship work, so at that period I was hitting rock bottom again with the pressures of work and home. I confided in the clinical psychologist at work how bad my mental state was. I told her I was waiting for my last child to turn 18 and I would kill myself. I was working on an intensive care unit at the time, I also had a car crash which meant I wasn’t able to work clinically. I was in excruciating pain but I wasn’t really given a role, a little bit of this and a little bit of that; so my structure was out of sync. This greatly added to my anxiety levels and sense of self worth. I didn’t know I was autistic at the time but now when I think about my time and all the struggles I had in intensive care, the knowledge that I am autistic puts everything in perspective. The structure suited my OCD brain but I had sensory struggles therefore the migraines and shut downs on my days off now make sense. I have ADHD so while I really enjoyed the practical side of things and my problem solving brain thrived, I also struggled with timekeeping, time management and i now understand my struggles with documentation. I thrived on the 1:1 nursing which also explains my preference to acute settings. I could deliver high quality care in a hyper focused manner. I struggled with hand overs and often went home beating up myself about what I hadn’t done. It bugged me to receive a patient from theatre just before hand over and hand them over before I had settled them. Reflecting for me helps me process situations I didn’t understand at time and a helpful piece to the puzzle. I am an unfinished piece and different pieces are being found as layers are uncovered to help me put myself back together again. Every experience was designed to mould the warrior on the other side. This mantra is my anchor because the journey is shit scary but I remind myself how brave I am to even attempt to agitate Pandora’s box. I’ve gone one step further and opened Pandora’s box. Inside, I find a stack of boxes. Where do I start because as I pull out a suitcase, it’s clear to see that there’s a graveyard and I am realising to more I shovel, the more there seems to have to shovel.
Opening Pandora’s box was necessary for me. I remember the day, I was a home deteriorating during another break down. I’d sit and think all day, my brain was confused. And in a panic I’d start frantically cleaning before my husband got home from work and became moody for the place being in a state. No one really understood how I was feeling. I was struggling to work out what was going on. I remember I was sweeping the living room and I was thinking about my dual lives and who the fuck I was. It was actually the first time I started to give it some thought after my husband in an argument threw in my face, it was like I was living 2 lives. I think I have delayed processing because I will think about something long and hard and dissect and analyse until it makes sense to my brain. That was the beginning of me recognising and admitting I was a pathological liar. I had created a fantasy life at work which suggested my life was perfect, looking back now I cringe because I didn’t even put on a convincing act. The only one who probably didn’t see through my facade was me. And that’s because I didn’t intend to harm anyone. This was my coping mechanism developed from a very young age. I can talk about it now as I understand myself better through the lens of a childhood trauma survivor and an autistic woman in a mask. However while this knowledge frightened me, I sought to engage with the mental health service and I had an assessment for psychotherapy. This was not my first contact with the mental health service. On 2006, I was hospitalised as a voluntary patient after I had taken an overdose and Self harmed. I also explained my dual lives and I needed help to understand this. I was deemed suitable for psychotherapy and put on the waiting list. Unbeknown to me at the time, the psychologist/ psychotherapist at the time put down a diagnosis of EUPD. This was revealed to me for the first time in 2017 by a community psychiatrist who was in agreement with this diagnosis. My experience of the mental health system has been appalling including treatment by my GP. I have also had to tread carefully because I have come to realise that people with mental illness have no rights especially when they are under section so true to my autism subtype pathological demand avoidance, I have skilfully used extreme avoidance in most situations I find frightening. Due to my upbringing and background I have learnt to internalise pain and fear but like every compensatory mechanism when the system is not reset to equilibrium, everything grinds to collapse. I have finally found who I am, I am an autistic woman who was required to be normal but this was my abnormal and the process of conformity in a very rigid household/ culture/ religion I acquired many demons. Needless to say I was naive in thinking from just acknowledging something was wrong, it would be a quick fix but years later as things reached rock bottom, now I’m out of the flames and I’m processing again, it’s finally dawned on me, this is no quick fix. It’s sad to admit but I’ve been abused all my life and it’s not a straight forward kind of abuse, it’s not black and white. Reflecting is taking me back beyond when I met my husband, it’s taking me back to teenage years and I have flashbacks of early childhood, partial and full memories. I started writing because I should be in therapy. My head was combusting and writing helps to unclog. As I pour out my pain, the Divine rewards my courage and sends me the right people even if it’s just for that day. I cannot do this alone. A kind lady signposted me to Brené Brown today and I listened to 2 TED videos; Listening to shame and The Power of Vulnerability. The messages resonates with my soul. The Divine has already laid the foundation because in my turmoil after I had reached burn out, I heard a voice loud and clear, “in order to live you have to conquer shame”, I had to write but it was the hardest thing to do, put out my business. I started my Instagram page using an alias Jai Aton (facebook), with an instagram account @identity4422. I had to write. The more I got the yuk out I started to feel my cells revive. My 40th birthday signifies rebirth. I revealed my authentic self with images. No more shame.
Shame needs 3 things to grow: Silence, Secrecy and Judgement. However if you put Empathy with Shame, Shame cannot survive. The two most powerful words when you are in a struggle is “Me too”. (Listening to Shame- Brené Brown). I can testify to the power of these words for in sharing my story, the people who have reached out with a me too, have extended an invisible hand of support to remind me that I am not alone and there’s something about strength in numbers when you are united with a common goal. I am reminded recovery is possible and on really dark days I am not alone