Long distance

Sometimes long distance relationships can be really hard. Recently things have not been great with S and I, and this was definitely not helped by the distance and the time difference (even though it’s only one hour, it makes a difference when he works into the evenings.)

But he came to visit for a few days and I was really nervous. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to fix the problems that had developed, I was worried that it was going to be over. And I knew that if we split up, things would never be the same again. I mean, we could be friends, but we’d never have the friendship we had before our relationship, and I would miss that a lot.

So we talked. And we listened to each other. It sounds simple but sometimes people forget to communicate properly, and then it gets to the point that you only hear what you expect to hear, and you interpret it in ways that aren’t always right.

So we talked, we explained what had been going on. I explained that I’m lonely here, that no one from home seems to have time for me anymore, and that I don’t know many people here. He saw my town, and that there’s really not a lot to do here. And he explained that he needs some space, and it feels like I’m always nagging him and waiting for him to reply. It’s difficult because in England we phone each other a lot, for example he often rings me on the way to or from work, whereas now we can’t phone because it would cost too much. We use Whatsapp to text, but it’s not the same, and often arguments are caused by misunderstandings about texts… you can’t convey tone, sarcasm etc over text message.

I think we just expected it to work. It was fine when I was in Lancaster, so why wouldn’t it be when I’m in Germany? I’m still away, no difference. But there is a difference, and it’s harder than we expected. And it needs work, we can’t just bob along without putting effort into it.

I feel so much better now that we’ve talked about everything and sorted things out. I had such a lovely few days with S, going to see different things (including Christmas markets which are always fun!!) and it was like none of the arguments had happened. I feel like he does love me, and that is a pretty big step, as before I always felt like it wasn’t true.

Basically, things were bad, and now they’re good. I hope we’ll be better at keeping things good now, because I’ve still got quite a few months left out here. I will be home for Christmas, but then probably not again until Easter.

Since S went home, I haven’t been sleeping as well. I think I feel safe when I sleep next to him because he always hugs me, and now I’m on my own again I’m missing that. Had some horrible nightmares too, relating to the ex. Hopefully it’ll all die down soon, because I don’t want to have to deal with nightmares and sleepless nights, I’ve got a life to live here!!

Now off to do some German work about the passive tense… Lucky me!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Identity

People say the year abroad is “the best year of your life” and the time to “find yourself”. I never thought any of that was true, but I feel like I’m coming on leaps and bounds already and I’ve only been here a month. I’ve had a few crucial realisations. And the latest one is that I need to have my own identity, I need to be myself and be ok with that.

But I’m in a position where I don’t really know who I am. I don’t have many defining features and naturally I look for labels to define myself by. But I don’t have to live by these labels, I can be myself, and that’s exactly what I want to be. If I can be myself, as I am – flaws and all, and be ok with that, then maybe that’s what happiness is. I’m a long way from that, but it’s a goal, it’s something to aim for and it’s a realisation.

I felt stuck for so long and I didn’t know why, but somehow today it came to me. Maybe it’s the hours sitting on a train, or the listening to music that brings back memories, I don’t know. But I realised that I need to take back my life. Because I need my own identity, and the ex took it away, all those years ago and I never knew how to find it.

As a teenager, that’s when people develop into who they really are. They develop a sense of identity, and in an ideal world, they are comfortable with who they are (whoever that turns out to be.) But it wasn’t like that for me, because I had who I was, and then I was taught that I was being me “wrong”, and everything that made me, me disappeared.

I used to be a scout, I used to play the clarinet, sing in the choir, I used to have lots of friends at school. And systematically they disappeared. First I left scouts, I said I didn’t like it anymore. That’s not true, it’s more that the ex made me feel like I had to leave, he always said it’s pathetic and I should act more like a girl. So I left. I started losing friends too because I was spending more time with the ex, because he made me feel bad if I spent any time with anyone else. He made me feel like it was my choice, that my friends weren’t real friends, that he cared about me and no one else did. And then it got to the end of year 11, and the school wouldn’t let him go back for 6th form. This could have been, should have been my great escape, but it wasn’t.

I left too. He made me feel like I had to, he made me feel like it was my choice. He manipulated my insecurities and planted the thought that I wasn’t happy at the school. It’s true of course that the school was high pressure and that I never felt good enough, but I wouldn’t have left if it wasn’t for him. But we wouldn’t be able to see each other he said, and did I really want to throw away our relationship over this? And so went my other activities – no more clarinet, band or choir, they didn’t have them at the college. So now I was at college where I didn’t know anyone, except him. I thought we’d make friends, we would have a group of friends together and it would be nice (before we both had our own sets of friends that didn’t mix) but it wasn’t really like that. We went to our lessons, and that was about it. We didn’t socialise that much, and for most lessons we were together. I even recall him bullying me into skipping lessons (the one that I wasn’t in his class for) to spend time with him.

So then I was his girlfriend. That was it. My sense of identity relied totally on him. And that was the reality of it – without him, I was nothing. Without him, I had nothing and no one. And the worst thing is I didn’t even realise he had done this. I didn’t realise that it wasn’t normal for a relationship to completely take over your life, I didn’t notice all these things disappearing from my life because it was all slow, subtle, and it was never his idea – always mine. But he guilt tripped me constantly, manipulated my decisions so that actually they were his decisions coming from my mouth.

I wasn’t me anymore and I was stuck because I knew without him I was nothing. So I stayed, even though I know I shouldn’t have. But it was me making all these mistakes, me always in the wrong, and he was so kind – always forgiving me. That’s what it seemed like anyway, but in retrospect I got it so wrong. How could it be his fault when it was my decisions, my ideas? But they weren’t, I was just a puppet.

It’s all clear to me now. I feel stupid, embarrassed for the way I acted. I let him use me like that and manipulate me into doing whatever he wanted. I did things to impress him, agreed to doing things I didn’t want to do because I wanted to keep him happy, because I thought it’s what I had to do. But I was wrong, so wrong. And I wish I could stop it happening to other people too, because some people don’t get out, ever, some people have their whole lives taken from them in this way.

I was just lucky that he had enough of me and decided to move on, to try again with another girl. And he did, at first he was lovely, not a foot wrong, and then over time it happened again, he got controlling, manipulative, angry. And she left, the clever girl.

I just feel a weight lifted off my shoulders because I have the whole of my life to live now, and I can live it how I want. So the next step is working out who I am now, and making myself into someone I want to be, not for anyone else, but just for me. I realised I can be me without other people, I don’t need to let these labels – girlfriend, daughter, sister, friend, student, blogger etc. define me, because people are more than labels, they are people with identities of their own.

Progress

So I finally realised that even though S makes me happy, it’s ok and good to be happy without him. Like an epiphany. Other people have probably known this for a long time, but it’s one of those things you need to realise yourself. I need to be happy myself because I can’t always rely on him to be there. This year (year abroad) I have so many opportunities and I really need to take them, and just enjoy the year. I can still be me without him.

I think I never really got that because when I was with the ex he made it so he was all I had. And it was suffocating and controlling but I didn’t know it wasn’t normal. I don’t want to be “S’s girlfriend” I want to be Ellie, who is also S’s girlfriend, and a friend, and a student, and a climber and and and…. And now I’m allowed, and I’m going to allow myself to be me.

Freedom

It’s nearly 2 and a half years since my relationship with the ex ended, yet I still didn’t feel free from him for a long time. Sometimes even now I don’t.

I felt like I was always looking over my shoulder, waiting for him to be there, for a message or something, waiting for him to cause more pain. But it’s over, it’s really over now.

Now I’m in Germany I finally feel safe. He’s not going to hurt me here, he’s not going to hurt me ever again because I won’t let him.

Unfortunately I have a strange ability to remember dates (whether voluntarily or involuntarily!) so I knew it was his birthday recently. And I didn’t think it would affect me – why should it? But everytime it gets to a time of year that I relate to him, I start having these dreams (nightmares) about him.

Why won’t he stop haunting me? It’s over now.

And every time I think, that’s it – I never need to think about anything to do with him again, there are these triggers. Stupid things, tiny things. Like dates and places and smells and things.

I went to the funfair, something I have memories of doing with the ex. And they weren’t bad memories, yet I have been hesitant to do anything that reminds me of anything to do with the ex. But I went to the funfair, it was fun and I made new memories. And it hit me…

Not all of my memories of the ex are bad. And that’s ok.

A lot of my memories of him are horrible, and demonise him. I’ve never written here about the good times, because they aren’t the things that are still affecting me. But once upon a time, we were ok. Before everything went wrong, he made me happy. And that’s ok.

I have been trying for so long to forget everything about him, but I can’t – it’s impossible. It’s over 3 years of my life at an important time in my life, and I can’t erase 3 years of memories, I can’t pretend they never happened. And I’m finally starting to realise that they are memories, they are in the past, some of them are good, lots of them are bad, but they’re just memories and it’s not going to happen again.

Why is it so hard to talk about?

Why is it so hard to talk about the “difficult things”?

I can write about them sometimes. I can plan what I’m going to say, I have the words in my mind but they don’t come to my lips. I can’t say them.

I’ve been having a lot of nightmares recently. Screaming in my sleep again while Footballer was staying. A week or two ago, S said I kept asking where I was, saying I want to be at home (in my sleep.)

A lot of the time I don’t remember the nightmares. Sometimes I wake up scared and don’t know why. Sometimes I just know I had a nightmare, and sometimes they are so vivid. I feel like I’m being haunted by these images. But it’s all too hard to talk about, the words just don’t come out.

The nightmares that week involved the ex. Raping me. And it all felt so vivid.

I was really really scared and anxious for days. I started writing this post not long after the nightmares but I couldn’t find the words time. I eventually managed to tell S that the nightmare involved the ex “making me do stuff.” But that’s as much as I could say, and even that took a long time.

So why can’t I say these difficult things? Like when I’m feeling suicidal, I can’t tell anyone, I just say “I feel low” or “I feel shit.” When in my head I’m screaming “I just want to die!” And when I’m talking about the ex, I can never explain what it was like. I can say he wasn’t nice to me, or that he treated me badly but it’s difficult for me to say more… it’s like I’m ashamed that I let it happen… How messed up is that? He treats me horribly and abuses me, and I’m the one that feels guilty and ashamed?

I try to tell S these difficult things sometimes. Often I just can’t say it, and he doesn’t understand why I’m crying or on edge or scared in the night. Sometimes I end up texting things because I couldn’t say it on the phone. The words stick in my throat and it’s like someone presses mute and I can’t speak anymore.

But I don’t want to be muted.

I have depression and anxiety and it’s hard. Most of the time I don’t look like anything is wrong with me but there is. I am very jumpy and I get scared and upset easily. And it’s not my fault. It is an illness and I don’t want to feel ashamed anymore. These things are just labels and they don’t make me who I am, but they do affect who I am and sometimes I can’t deal with everything that a “normal” person can. I think more needs to be done to raise awareness about mental illness because people don’t understand it – they can’t see it so they think it’s not there.

Since I’ve been writing this blog I have come across a lot of mental health bloggers, all telling their different stories. Sometimes they are difficult to read because people have suffered so greatly, but they are all strong people and we all have things in common so we can support one another. And all of this makes me even more sure that I want to work in mental health. I want to make a difference.

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!)

Mammoth

MammothToday I was feeling pretty low. I have been feeling a bit funny physically for the last few days – lots of migraines/headaches, feeling a bit faint/light headed, feeling really really hot… that kind of thing. And a combination of feeling bad physically and mentally is never good.

So S said he would come over after work for a bit to see me and give me some cuddles to cheer me up. And he did.

We ate some strawberries and ice cream and had some cuddles and talked and it was really nice. It sounds pathetic but it’s the small things that mean the most. I love the fact that  S can just come round and he gets on with my family and it is relaxed and I don’t have to be on edge (like I was with the ex and my family).

And as you can see from the picture at the top of this post, I am now in possession of a new elephant (or more accurately – a mammoth!) S brought me it from work to cheer me up (as he knows how much I love elephants!) It is a little fluffy cuddly toy mammoth and I think he’s really cute! Only problem now is that I can’t think of a name (but I’ve decided it is a him), so feel free to give any name suggestions! 🙂

While we were cuddling and talking I said “Maybe you do actually love me”, because I’m finally starting to think maybe it’s true. Maybe not everyone will be like the ex, and maybe I’m not unlovable – maybe it wasn’t even my fault. And he laughed and said “At least it’s a maybe now.” I know it’s stupid that I am so scared of getting hurt and that I really find it so hard to believe that anyone could love and care about ME, but these are thoughts which have been programmed into my mind for a long time – with the ex, and even before that with the teasing/bullying (?)

I am feeling more determined than ever that I am going to get through this stuff, and I am not going to let the ex win or ruin any more of my life. I can and I will get through these problems. I can and I will succeed and be happy. I know I need to deal with the anger I still feel about everything that happened, but maybe I can use it positively, and use it as motivation and incentive to keep going and stay determined. I can and I will.**

I am so happy being with S, he makes me feel safe and loved and happy. And I love him, I really do and our relationship is so much better (now that I’ve finally allowed myself to feel that way instead of being too scared to get close.) I think my depression/anxiety/general craziness* definitely does affect our relationship but he copes pretty well, and he is very understanding and helping me get through my issues.

Time for bed now, but tonight I am going to bed feeling happy and safe, instead of anxious and scared and paranoid (like last night).

Good night,
Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

P.S. Here is another picture of my (nameless) mammoth!

Mammoth toy

* I hope this doesn’t offend anyone – here I am referring to my irrational thoughts and behaviours, which could definitely be called crazy rather than the mental health side of things.

** This is one of the mantras from my list, and this one often comes to mind. When I’m feeling low or like I can’t do something, I think to myself ‘I can and I will’ and I feel more in control, more determined and more positive.

Trust

I’m really at a loss on what to do. My trust (or lack of it) is really becoming an issue. I just don’t trust S, even though he’s never done anything to make me not trust him.. he is kind and treats me well, we talk all the time, he doesn’t do anything wrong.

But I don’t trust him. I think it’s because of the ex (like most of my issues.) He treated me like crap, found someone else and left me. He lied to me, he hurt me, he made it impossible to trust. And now I don’t really trust anyone, and S gets the brunt of this.

I am constantly waiting for something to go wrong. He will get bored of me, or he will find someone else, or he’ll cheat on me or get fed up of dealing with this craziness… I am waiting for him to do something to prove me right – that I really am unlovable, that I don’t deserve anyone, that no one really cares and he doesn’t love me. 

And I know it’s insane. I know it’s paranoia and it’s completely irrational. But I just can’t stop. I don’t know how. And it’s pushing him away. The more I act like this, the more likely he is to do one of these things. If I’m constantly expecting him to mess up, maybe he will. Or maybe he’ll get annoyed. I know he finds it annoying that I am so paranoid, and it hurts him that I don’t trust him. 

And when I’m with him it’s the safest thing ever, but when we’re not together my mind just goes crazy. My overactive imagination goes into overdrive. I’m over-analysing everything he says and does. And I’m just waiting for something bad to happen. Because that’s what I deserve.

This relationship is so different to the one with the ex. It’s not all about sex. It’s not all about being controlled and lied to. It is safe and there is nothing wrong. But because of HIM, I don’t trust S. I just can’t. 

I really would appreciate any advice on this one. It’s taking a toll on me and the relationship. I’m so terrified of losing S and I want to stop pushing him away. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I just can’t switch this off. 

He mentioned going away on a climbing trip with a friend (as an example), a female friend. And would it bother me? Yes, yes it would. I’d be going out of my mind thinking something was going on with them. And I know this is really controlling and paranoid behaviour but I just can’t stop thinking about him being with someone else.

I need to get through this issue and I don’t know how. S has always been very patient with me about all of this, but it’s wearing him out, I can tell. He can’t keep on putting up with this, and it’s driving me mad. I don’t have the energy to keep this up. I want to trust him, and I know that he loves me, I just don’t think I deserve these good things, so I’m expecting them to go wrong.

I feel sick and I’m completely on edge. It’s nearly 1:30am and I should be asleep. I want to speak to S but it’s the middle of the night and I can’t imagine he would be too pleased with a phone call now. I just want this all to stop. I’m in such a state. It makes me feel so low and I’m just so scared.

Sometimes I think I should just end it with S (before he leaves me) because I can’t deal with this. I feel like I don’t have any control, I’d never know if he had cheated on me or if he lies to me. As many times as he tells me he never would, and as many times I make him promise he would tell me if he ever did cheat, I still don’t trust him. I just don’t trust people.

I just want to be happy.