It wasn’t my fault 

Trigger warning – this is about abusive relationships/domestic abuse (holy shit I wasn’t expecting it to get this deep, I was going to write a nice blog about self care – will save that for another day) 

I often wondered why me? Why was I so stupid not to be able to see what was happening? Why did I have mug written across my forehead?

(For some back story, when I was 15-18 I was in an abusive relationship. I couldn’t see it at the time and for a long time afterwards I couldn’t see it as being his fault, I blamed myself. There’s parts of me that still do but that’s by the by.)

I realised recently that I was the ideal target. I was a little bit lost, disillusioned by the world and not feeling good enough. I was one of those teenagers that was pretty invisible at school, I had friends but we were invisible. And at that time I started feeling strange. Something I now believe was the beginning of my depression. I became more withdrawn, didn’t eat properly, didn’t feel good enough, started writing poems, came to a darker place than I had known in my cushty childhood. I felt like I didn’t fit in and I felt like no one understood me. Lost.

So at some point we started talking. I don’t know why because we used to hate each other, but we did. I spent hours and hours online chatting. Never in person. It was a new experience, someone paying me attention, listening to me, comforting my pain. And it grew into a relationship. 

I always thought it was much later that it became abusive but the signs were always there. He was controlling but manipulative with it. How could I be so unreasonable to want to spend any lunch breaks with my friends when I was in classes with them and never him? I obviously didn’t care about him… It only got worse but I couldn’t see it. My need to please was so great, my fear of failure, of not being good enough was overpowering. And so I blamed myself for everything. Took it all and wished I could be a better girlfriend. 

I was so young and I didn’t know any different, it was my first relationship. And I was in too deep. I relied on him. He isolated me from friends and family. Damaged all my other relationships. Stopped me doing my hobbies but made me feel it was my choice. It goes on. 

And looking back I think ‘what if’ and ‘why didn’t I see it?’ But it’s not that easy when you’re in the middle. It’s not that easy when you’re 16 and you believe that no one else would ever love you. 

And after a lot of therapy, I am still remembering things that happened. Little bits of information are coming forward in my mind. I wish they wouldn’t but apparently it means I’m ready to deal with them now. I don’t have to push them down. I can move past it. 

But today I can sit and say I know it wasn’t my fault. And I know that he had a shitty childhood but that wasn’t my fault either and it’s not an excuse for how I was treated. And i can see it for what it was, and say (with only a little bit of guilt*) that it was abusive  relationship, it was domestic abuse. And it wasn’t my fault. 

Love 

Ellie xx

* because part of me doesn’t see this as valid because I know others have been through much worse. And because others might say well you were 16 how bad could it have been? And why didn’t you leave if it was that bad? (Ok this bit of me is still quite headstrong but it’s not as strong as it was!) 

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I realised I really don’t like myself. I hate myself in fact.

I knew this before but I’m realising that even though everything else is good in my life, these issues aren’t going to go away by themselves. No one else can make me like myself, I have to learn to. But how?

At school this week I’ve had a couple of lessons by myself, (as in without a teacher being there as well) and it wasn’t good. They don’t listen to me, they are loud and they don’t work. They have a test on Friday but they still think it’s ok to throw things around the classroom and make loads of noise. I bloody hate teenagers. Teaching is not for me, final conclusion on that one. On a brighter note (although it didn’t seem funny at the time), on Monday 2 kids hid in  a cupboard for 25 minutes of my lesson without me noticing. At the time I just felt so stupid and like the most rubbish teachery-type-person in the world, but I guess in retrospect it is quite funny.

S is coming to Germany on Saturday and instead of being excited, I’m mostly scared. I am looking forward to seeing him of course, but my mind is full of what ifs. What if things are different? What if he doesn’t feel the same anymore? What if he’s not attracted to me anymore? What if, what if, what if.

And I know it’s stupid. It doesn’t help anyone, least of all me to do this to myself but I don’t know how to stop. I am disgusted with myself and yet I don’t do anything about it. But how can I?

I don’t know how to like myself. I feel ugly, stupid, unwanted.

I’m always on the edge. I still think people are only there because they feel sorry for me. That’s not ok. And it’s probably not even true but I still think it. I’m just worth nothing. That’s how I feel. I’m not good enough in any way.

So yeah, still got issues.

Lots of love,
Ellie

xxx

Pondering

What if it’s turning toxic like before?

All I hear is “you’re not good enough” and “no one wants you” but I’m the only one saying it, to myself.

All the anger is still there and it gets taken out on others. It’s not fair.

This anger has to be dealt with. But how? Turning the anger on myself just exhausts me and I still can’t let it out the right way. I’m so angry all the time. It’s got to come out somehow. But safely. Somehow…

Imagine if people had to deal with the consequences of their actions, maybe then they wouldn’t be so evil. Maybe then they’d see what they are doing.

If you say something enough times it might become true. What if that’s true. Stop pushing him away.

But he’s not safe. Never safe.

No one is safe.

I don’t want to be alone but I don’t want to be with people either.

Feeling pretty gloomy.

 

I need to be more independent but I can’t do it. How do I do it?

After a long time of relying on people, the idea seems so crazy.

 

I want to help other people but I know I need to fix myself first.

Fix because I’m broken.

I don’t know how to be normal. I don’t know how to stop this whole thing.

There are so many things I want(ed) to do in life… now I just want to be happy.

Shame it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I’m so tired of fighting

And down

The down always comes. It’s not a big down, not like before, but none the less it snuck up on me, like it always does.

Because nothing has changed, not really. I still have an underlying hatred of myself. I still have no confidence, I’m still waiting for things to go wrong, I’m still not good enough.

I hate myself in so many ways and I don’t know any way out of this.

I want to feel better about myself, I want to feel confident, I want to be happy. But there’s this nagging part of my brain that’s always there telling me I’m not good enough, nothing I ever do will be good enough. Give up. No one cares. I don’t matter.

And this cycle of being ok, even good for a while, and then feeling down again continues, always. And it’s never going to stop unless I do something about it. I know that. And yet I don’t know how to do something about it.

I know what needs to be done, just not how. I need to change the way I see myself. Because frankly, a lot of the negative stuff is just in my head, and it’s the way I see myself, not the way anyone else sees me.

I still don’t feel entitled to feel depressed. I have everything so good, and right now things are good – really good, and I want to enjoy it. I want to make the most  of my year abroad, I want to enjoy all the things I can do here but every time I stop, this self-critical voice crawls out, and taints everything else.

There are things I can change. For example I hate my body. I feel fat and I can change that. I can exercise more and I can eat more healthily. I want to change that, maybe if I feel better on the outside I’ll feel better on the inside?

And the more I think about it, the worse I feel. SO just don’t think about it then?

I wish it was that easy.

I feel like I don’t deserve any of the good stuff. I deserve the bad stuff. I’m pathetic, useless and I’m never going to get to where I want to be because I’m not good enough. Because I’ll never be perfect. Why am I even aiming for something that doesn’t exist? Why can’t I be happy with me? With my best?

It’s almost like I get to a certain point, and something tells me things are too good, I’m too happy, and then this stupid criticising voice pipes up and knocks me down. And I’m tired of fighting with myself. I just want to be me and be ok with that. I’m sick of comparing myself to other people, I’m sick of feeling inferior, I’m sick of waiting for S to leave me, I’m sick of never matching my expectations, I’m sick of never being good enough for myself.

And now I’m going to sleep. I know I’ll feel better in the morning, I need to get out of this negative mindset. It’s what happens when I spend a day doing nothing.

Silly Ellie

I just read all the comments from my previous post. Everyone said it was a good idea NOT to contact him and that it’s great that I’m NOT contacting him… 

But what did I do today?

I texted him. Stupidly.

I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I felt like I just HAD to do it. I said congratulations, I don’t know why. I’m not happy for him, but I thought maybe I’ve been bitter for too long now, maybe he’s moving on with his life and he’s changed… maybe, maybe, maybe.

 I HAD to tell him not to mess it up, not to treat her like he treated me. So I sent him a text saying basically that.

And he said “I don’t appreciate getting texts like that but thank you for the congratulations.”

I guess I was somehow hoping he was going to come out with an apology and that he’s changed and bla bla bla (as if that would fix this anyway.) But of course he didn’t. Because he’s a narcissist, he ignores anything wrong that he’s ever done, because nothing is ever his fault.

But in a way maybe I feel better. I feel like I’ve told him what I needed to tell him, and now it’s not my fault anymore (like it ever was!)

So even though I didn’t get the response I wanted/hoped for, I’m going to use it as evidence that I am better off without him anyway (and I know I am.)

Even though it hurts and even though my negative brain is trying to tell me that I’m not good enough and bla bla bla, I’m not going to let it get to me too much. Because it’s over. It’s all over and it’s never going to happen again, and no one is going to hurt me anymore.

And in a way this feels a bit more like closure. I’ve said everything I needed to say, and now I’m done. 

Sometimes it’s better not to know

What you don’t know can’t hurt you…

Right?

Sometimes knowing can help, sometimes it can make it worse, always it makes things different.

I found out in May that the ex is having a baby with his current girlfriend. It shook me up a bit, and definitely made my path to recovery a bit bumpier, a bit harder.

But that was all I knew. I didn’t know who she is. I didn’t know how many months, or when the baby was due. I didn’t know if it was going to be a girl or boy. And I didn’t want to know.

All I wanted to know is why now? Why is she good enough and I wasn’t?

But I didn’t speak to him about it. I didn’t speak to him at all.

And it’s been in the back of my mind since then. But I didn’t know any details so it wasn’t real (to me.) And I didn’t want to know any more about him or his life now. I had cut him off, severed all ties. I don’t have him on facebook, I don’t talk to him, I don’t text him. I won’t send him a text on his birthday, christmas or new year. Nothing.

And then today I got a text from Artist. She said: Did you know your ex has just had a baby?

And now I know when, and now I know it’s real. And now I know that it’s a girl and was born a few days ago.

I still feel like I don’t deserve that: the relationship, the happy family. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it now, but one day. And I feel like I’ll never be able to. I’ll never deserve it, I’ll never be good enough.

And he gets it all. He gets to play happy families and ignore all of the stuff that happened in the past. But me, I’m stuck in the past. And one day I’m going to end up losing S because of it. Because I can’t get over what happened with me and the ex, the whole thing was just a toxic mess that I couldn’t escape from. And even now I haven’t fully escaped… in my dreams (nightmares) and in my mind it’s still real (sometimes.) It still scares me.

And then it makes me question whether it all happened at all. Whether it really was “that bad” or whether I’ve gone crazy and imagined it all. Maybe my hatred of him twisted my memories. Maybe the arguments were because I was always doing things wrong… Maybe, maybe, maybe.

All of these thoughts, these questions have been opened up again. All of the memories I have fought so hard to keep away come flooding back.

I am angry and I am hurting. I hate him and I hate myself. I want to speak to him and I don’t. I want to know and at the same time I don’t at all. I want to ask him why I wasn’t good enough, why he treated me like he did, why someone else is good enough to have a baby with and I wasn’t.

But I’m not going to ask him. Because starting contact with him again would never end well. He would try to manipulate me again, try to make me believe he’s a different person now and that things weren’t that bad, that I’m exaggerating. And he’s had enough chances, and he always proved me right. He is not someone I want in my life (again.)

And that’s why sometimes it’s better not to know.

Run Ellie Run!

Recently I’ve been feeling a bit fat. I know I’m not obese or anything like that, I am a healthy weight but I think I would feel better about myself if I got rid of the podgy-ness.

So do something about it… That’s what S says and I know it makes sense. I can’t complain about it while not doing anything to change it. But there’s a lot of fears and what ifs…

In the past I used to go running, and it got to an unhealthy stage. I know how exercise can become addictive and I’m scared of that. I’m scared that if I start trying to lose a little bit of weight, I’ll become obsessed with it and won’t be able to stop.

And on the flip side, I’m scared that it won’t do anything. What if I do all this exercise and I still look the same, then I’ll feel like a failure, and that’s one of my biggest fears. Or what if I lose some weight and still feel bad about myself? That’s incredibly likely because as we all know, I’m a perfectionist, and perfection doesn’t exist so I will never be good enough in my own eyes.

And that’s the biggest issue really isn’t it? Nothing I ever do will ever be good enough for myself because I will always feel like I should do better, be better, be perfect. But why the hell should I be perfect? No one else is and I allow them their flaws, but me? Nope, not good enough. Must try harder.

The negative thoughts are (clearly) very active at the moment. S always says I approach things too negatively, and I should try to be more positive. But that’s the whole thing: If I was positive, I probably wouldn’t be depressed would I?! And even though recently I’ve been trying to be more positive about the future, there’s still these niggling voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough and I can’t do it so I may aswell give up.

It’s like there’s an internal argument in my mind the whole time and it’s exhausting. One side is actually pretty positive, whilst the other is very negative and always strikes when least expected.

Another thing that’s not helping the negativity is that I’ve been having a lot of nightmares recently. A lot of them seem to feature the ex and it is freaking me out. I feel like I’m being haunted by him and the way things were in the past. I know I can’t erase him from my memory, I know he was a big part of my life for a significant amount of time, but it was quite a long time ago now, I just want it to fade away.

But anyway, back to the actual point of this post…

I am going to try and start running again. I’m trying to fight the memories it brings back, and let myself move on and start again. I was going to go this morning but I didn’t – I slept badly (nightmares) and was feeling pretty negative (as you can see!) So I’m letting it go for now, and planning to go on Wednesday morning. I’m going to try and plan a short route before I go, and I am not going to push myself too hard (75% is enough!) but hopefully it will help me feel a bit better.

For one thing, it would get me out of bed, which is not always the easiest thing to do! Also, exercise is meant to make you feel happy, and I could do with some of that!

I am realising that this perfectionism is a big issue. I am never going to be happy until I change my goals. Perfection is not a suitable goal, I need to set achievable goals instead. But how do you ignore the thoughts that have followed you for your whole life? How do you fight the thoughts that have been ingrained into your brain and reinforced for years? I’m not sure about that at the moment, but hopefully eventually I will be able to work through these things and will be able to be happy with who I am and what I do, instead of the constant beliefs that I am not good enough and nothing I ever do will ever be good enough. (Good enough for what?)

There are so many questions that I don’t know the answer to, and so many issues that I am nowhere near solving. Sometimes it feels hopeless and like I will never get through it, but I have to. I am determined that eventually I will deal with all of this.

(Sorry about the higgledy-piggledyness of this post, I meant to write about running, but ended up writing about perfectionism…. which shows me that’s the key issue!)

“You can be whoever you want to be”

I can’t remember who said it, but someone said that to me recently. On my year abroad, I’ll be in a new place with new people, no one will know me. And I can be anyone I want to be. I wonder if it’s true, if without expectations, I can be a different kind of me. I don’t want to be someone I’m not, but at the same time I don’t want to be the me that I am here, at the moment.

I have realised I’m going to have to do something before I go to Germany. I am working in a school with kids up to 16. It would not be ok for me to be mistaken for a student… I am 20, 4 years older than the oldest pupils.

But I look so young. I am frequently told I look about 15… And when I went into my boyfriend’s work, someone asked him who I was, and said that I looked about 12. That’s not nice. And I think this is definitely a major factor in my lack of confidence.

Body image is a difficult one, a lot of people struggle with it. I don’t know if I see the me that everyone else sees, but I don’t like it… The list of criticisms about my appearance is endless. I feel so ugly, and no amount of reassurance from S or anyone else helps.

So my plan for before I get to Germany? I’m going to try and get a new style, hopefully so I look closer to my age. Everyone always says “You’ll be happy that you look young in a few years”, no I won’t. The chances are I won’t still look young when I get older, but right now it is incredibly difficult to be taken seriously when I look this young.

I hate it that I look so much younger than I am. I am a quiet, anxious and cautious person anyway, but the fact that I look so young takes away even more of my confidence. Why would anyone take me seriously when I look about 15?!

And so my plan starts tomorrow – I have booked to go to the hairdressers tomorrow afternoon, and I’m going to ask them if they can do something (ANYTHING) to make me look a bit older less young!

And I think I’m going to have to try and dress older too. It is easy to wear comfortable stuff – jeans, jumpers etc, but that doesn’t help with me looking young. So with the exception of the elephant jumper I bought the other day (Who could say no to an elephant jumper?!) it’s probably time to start buying clothes to suit my age.

I would love to feel good about myself. There is only one time that I can remember that I thought I actually look good. And that was when I did a photoshoot with artist, and I had loads of make up on and the photos were edited… so it wasn’t even really what I looked like. But in those photos I look confident. I would love to have confidence. I would love to walk along the street without looking down at the floor as I walk. I would love to walk into a room and not be scared that people might be looking at me.

I have a very low self-esteem. In my eyes I will never be good enough in any way. I don’t know how to change this but I’ve decided it needs to change. I want to feel good about myself.

So this summer things are changing in Ellie-land, I wonder if I can pull it off…

CBT: Get up and get out!

No don’t worry – these were not words said by my therapist to me (or vice versa.) Yesterday I was feeling pretty down and really didn’t feel like doing anything. But my appointment was at 2pm, so having finally dragged myself up at about 1, I called a taxi and went to my CBT session.

And I’m glad I did, I felt a bit better afterwards. And once you’re up and about, things normally feel a bit better. If I stay in bed hiding all day, what have I achieved? Nothing. But by getting up and out and going to CBT, I have (hopefully) helped myself a bit. So that’s the advice: Get up and get out! 

I was pretty tearful in my CBT session yesterday – the realisation that it’s coming to an end is scaring me. Then I have to cope by myself!! I have 2 more sessions left, then I’m back home in London until September, and then the big move to Germany – eek! The fact that I won’t have A to speak to anymore is a bit scary, especially because I think the CBT is helping, but there’s still a lot that hasn’t been dealt with.

A said there are some things I am still not ready to deal with. She said in the future I will be and then I can have some counselling/therapy to help me deal with it. She said when I get back to Lancaster I can get re-referred if I need to.

A gave me another CD with some guided mindfulness meditations on it. There is one called Mindful sitting practise and one called 3 minute breathing space. I’ll write about these sometime this week when I’ve done them a few times.

We talked about the way the mind works (according to CBT.) We have the situation or event and the emotion/feeling, but inbetween there is the thought which triggers the emotion. So I am working on spotting the thoughts and seeing – is this a fact or a thought? This is of course easier said than done, but it’s work in progress.

We talked about my insecurity and constant fear about S leaving me. This is rational to some extent because my previous experience (with the ex) has shown me that people can leave me. However, this does not mean everyone will leave me, and it does not mean I am not good enough (which is the thought that goes with the event: ex leaving me and the feeling: depressed/lonely/scared.)

A has asked me to write down how I am feeling each half day, and more importantly the negative thoughts that come with the feelings. Then I can look at them and say – fact or thought? Do I have any evidence of this? The chances are, probably not!

The other thing I am meant to look at this week are when I have these thoughts that S is going to leave me. We have established that seeking reassurance doesn’t really help… it may help for a brief moment, but soon afterwards, the thoughts will be back. And I know they must be irritating for S, to constantly reassure me that he’s not going anywhere, he’s not going to hurt me, and yes he does love me. So the aim here is to identify these thoughts and look at them without engaging with them. Using mindfulness, the idea is to see the thoughts as thoughts (and not facts), not engage with them, and ignore them. But baby steps – this week I’ve just got to identify them as early as possible.

A used the analogy of the “thought train”… so once the thought comes into mind, it starts a trail of destruction, with each thought encouraging the next, until I’m in a massive negative spiral and I truly believe that S is going to leave me because I’m just not good enough. So instead of this, I should try to identify the thoughts early and get off the thought train. Another analogy was “putting on the same DVD”, so once you have had the thought (put the DVD on), the same thing happens (the same DVD plays) and it results in the same behaviour and feelings each time. So instead of letting the same thing play out each time, it is better to catch the thought early, and throw away that DVD 😉

Anyway, enough about DVDs and trains… me thinks this is more progress.

Oh – and A said she thinks if I use the mindfulness stuff we are learning and use the book I have bought (The Mindful Way Through Depression), I will be ok in Germany without any therapy. I hope she’s right! But I have my blog too, which I think is therapy in itself!

Tear-free CBT

That’s right people, I got through a whole session of CBT without crying today! There were a couple of moments where tears weren’t far away but no crying today. Not that it’s a bad thing to cry in therapy, but it’s exhausting. Today was definitely easier than the last session, but I guess that’s because what we talked about wasn’t as painful today.

We spoke about how I have grown up, and why I have always felt this need to do everything perfectly.

My mum had to work and work to prove she was good enough. When she was at school she wanted to be a teacher, from the age of about 11. She did her O levels and A levels, and had to retake some, and she was told she’d never become a teacher. But she did it, she got her grades, went to college and became a P.E teacher. It’s so sad that the thing she wanted to do for so long became one of the things that made her ill. And now she lacks the confidence to teach again, doesn’t want to go back there. My dad is a very hard worker too. He always gives everything 100%. He is the person who gets into work early and leaves late. And so you see my parents have both been very successful and they want the same for my brother and I, and that’s why they always try to push us to do our best. Unfortunately in my case, with a mixture of family pressure and going to a school where everyone is very bright (like a grammar school), I ended up feeling that I will never ever be good enough.

And I also realised that maybe part of it is that I’m trying to prove that I’m good enough, trying to prove that going to college wasn’t a bad idea. I left my school at 16, much to the dismay of my parents, and went to a college to do my A levels instead of the school 6th form. But I did it, I got my grades. I went to uni, I finished my first year with a first… Maybe I feel like if I get a first I’m proving that college was a good thing, that I wouldn’t have been better off going to my school’s 6th form. But the thing is, it’s done now anyway. Maybe I would’ve done better at 6th form, maybe I would’ve done worse, or maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference. We can never find out.

We also talked about mindfulness. A says that I am getting much better at identifying the negative thoughts as they happen, but now we need to focus on the here and now – ignoring the past and future, so that I can react in a suitable way to these negative thoughts.

I explained the cycle I spoke about in my previous post. How S said something as a joke which made me paranoid, then the paranoia made me scared he was going to leave me, then I realised I was overreacting, so I was scared he was going to leave because I worry so much… And on and on and on.

As we are coming to the end of the CBT sessions, A said it would be good to do some work on mindfulness, and that is something I can use after my sessions have finished, to help me.

According to Wikipedia*, mindfulness is the focusing of attention and awareness, based of the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation. It says mindfulness can be useful in the treatment of pain, stress, anxiety, depressive relapse, disordered eating and addiction.

It appears, from the definitions to involve bringing attention and awareness to the present moment where thoughts/feelings etc. are acknowledged and accepted.

A handed me a pen and asked me to look at it while she talked about it, asking questions (which aren’t to be answered.) What does it look like? Are there any marks on it? What about writing? Does the nib have any ink on it, or any marks?

At one point she asked me to hold the pen by my ear and listen to it when shaking it. At this point I thought “well, this is a bit weird!!” A said that is an example of when your mind wanders and thoughts go to other things rather than focusing on the pen (in this case).

This week’s homework is to do the “bodyscan” each day which is a guided mindfulness practise, involving listening to a CD (Kind of like meditation I think). I’ll be writing about that as I go along too!

So today’s session was quite helpful I think. I’ve made some realisations about my perfectionism and where it comes from. And I’m starting to accept that it’s ok not to do everything perfectly (because in most cases perfection doesn’t exist.) We also talked about my little experiment from last week – actively giving 80% (rather than 100%) to see what happened. You might remember, I did it when climbing. I decided that instead of pushing myself hard to finish the route, I would just come down and try another time, and the world didn’t end 😉 (In case you were wondering!) A said she thinks the key to all of the stuff with the ex is anger, and that when I am ready to access all of the feelings, I will be able to feel this anger that’s been locked away for so long. It also explains my anger outburts, which are almost always disproportionate to the thing I am actually angry about. (Like when I went completely crazy shouting at my housemates over the bins situation… but it wasn’t actually about the bins, it was about everything that has made me angry ever!) Anyway, progress is definitely a good thing, so I’ll let you all know how I get on with the mindfulness this week!

*obviously the source of all knowledge!