Depression is a bitch It attacks seemingly from nowhere And yet Like a black dog it stalks constantly Stealthily waiting for the right moment To pounce To lay me low Then it holds me down It’s weight is scary and yet somewhat comforting It protects me from more hurt Snarls at perceived threats Keeps the monsters at bay Appearing to keep me safe
The 4th November 1978 seems such a long long time ago. 43 years ago today in another lifetime I married the love of my life. I was young, not quite 22yrs old & Tim was 29, but we’d known each other for over 7 years and I was absolutely sure this was what I wanted. I was blissfully innocent & ignorant to what the years ahead would hold. Thank goodness we are not given that insight!
Tim & I were married in the cute wee Anglican Church in Renwick New Zealand. The Church of the Annunciation was consecrated on March 5th 1896, and was sadly destroyed by arson in 2002.
It was a beautiful service with Tim’s Uncle Ian & my Uncle George conducting the service. My friend Cynthia and old family friend Mrs Cecily Gee playing the guitar & organ. I had chosen the music and it was venturing to the more modern side of Anglican at that time as I used the ‘modern’ Songs of Praise books as reference 😉
I have a few memories of the day
I rode to the church in a horse & cart with my parents and sister. Driven by local identity & motelier Rod Eatwell. The cart was decorated with climbing roses from the trees next door to us. But on returning I rode in the cart with Tim to have our photos taken by neighbour Graham – leaving my parents stranded with no ride home – oops!
We walked over to my parents house via a visit with an elderly neighbour who was delighted to see us in our wedding finery. The photos look serious but there was a lot of hilarity going on behind the scenes 🙂
Everything was done locally My parents didn’t have a lot of money so the wedding was not extravagant but my memories are fairly positive of a wonderful day. I only recall one negative upset and that was a difficult aunt who decided to make an issue about attending but it all worked out in the end and who cares now! Oh yes – there was a major near disaster on the day!! I’d done a very radical thing and had a perm only a few days before – shock! horror! why oh why? – it was awful. My cousin Clare thankfully came to the rescue and did my hair for me She put all to rights and made everything all perfect I will always love her for that – plus the fact she’s my big cuz and I’ve always loved her 🙂
My friend Cynthia and I sewed all our clothes over the weeks prior – my dress, Tim’s 3 piece suit, shirt AND tie, and my sister’s skirt & top. Our clothing styles weren’t appreciated by Tim’s father as the colours were a tad non traditional LOL I am definitely a non conformist from early days 😉 I remember we were also amused that his Mum wore black to our wedding too – just as well she and I got along well or I’d have thought there was more to it lol!
The food was catered by the local tavern using produce we had all supplied. Including fresh fish we netted, and fresh mussels Tim & I had harvested off the rocks on Te Ekeatekonganui / Reef Point at the back of our farm. Note that this was the only Maori word that Tim could successfully pronounce and he was most proud of that fact – which is saying a lot as it was 43 years ago when pronunciation was perceived as difficult & unimportant and not pursued by many. This was also several years before mussel farming was a thing – who knew what was ahead!
The flowers from local sources but my specific memory fails at this point. I remember my grandmother carefully nursing her neighbours lily of the valley bulbs to last long enough to be picked for my hair The photos were taken by our friend Graham at the beginning of a long illustrious career for him. No such thing as videoing but there is a tape recording packed away somewhere in my treasure boxes. The cakes were baked by my mother and iced beautifully by a neighbour from across the paddocks.
We had a weeping elm in our front garden so a huge marquee was erected over the top of it extending over the front door decking This caused many questions during the evening of how exactly did the tree get inside the tent?? We had to carry the cakes outside for a mock up of the cake cutting due to lighting. Our bestman, also Tim, tripped on the guy rope but thankfully the cakes were saved – whew! The top tier of the cake was saved as per tradition for cutting at the christening of our eldest child just a year later The All Blacks were playing Ireland with a final winning score of 10-6 that same night so most of the guests ended up inside watching on our old box shaped B&W TV which balanced precariously on top of the roll top desk in our living room. Funnily enough on the night of my 2nd wedding there was also a rugby game playing in Nelson of major importance – Crusaders vs Warratahs Thankfully there was no TV at our venue to interrupt our celebrations 😉
I did find out later that one of our guests choked on a bone during the celebrations but thankfully help was on hand and she survived – whew! The weather turned rather cold that night and unfortunately my health suffered as I got very chilled and I had a relapse of glandular fever during our honeymoon.
We spent our wedding night at what is now the Scenic Hotel Marlborough in Blenheim, and much to my grandmother’s surprise we turned up late the next morning so Tim could eat leftovers as he wasn’t going to pay for food at the hotel He was used to living very frugally and if he couldn’t pay cash he didn’t buy. A good principle to live by which wisdom many would benefit from today.
We headed off south westwards on our honeymoon that day but that’s another story for another time…
I took a lot of care when choosing my own children’s names It was important to me that they had names that meant something strong and positive They are another story for another time…
I know Why I was named but due to my young life experiences all of my three names have held very negative connotations
Recently whilst discussing my innate ability to help others my therapist suggested I was a human rights activist “No – more of an advocate” ‘What other descriptives do you think of yourself?’ “Warrior” popped into my head and with that our talk wound its way down a rabbit hole which has turned my perceptions of my names and myself upside down In a good way
I have always hated my second name My parents had friends An elderly childless couple They named me after her Hilda I have always hated the name but joked it out by saying at least I saved my brothers His name was Percival! They were reprieved from that – they really do need to thank me for bearing the burden 🙂
But when my therapist began leading me to explore further I knew Hilda meant Battle or Battlemaiden And even though we both have similar Shetland / Scandinavian roots she did not know about the Valkeries So we began exploring the stories, The Valkeries carried the chosen dead from the battlefields and carried them to Valhalla for Odin They were fierce, determined, caring, Hildr was one of the named ones she was recorded as being of importance The name was written Hilde Hildr With my Scandinavian roots and my lifelong battle to overcome the effects from my childhood abuse this really begun to resonate with me Maybe a spelling change could change my perception on my name?
My first name also has held a negative tone for me I was named after my father I was supposed to be a boy – Raymond – his second name But I was born a girl so I was Raewyn This is a made up combination name and is uncommon outside of New Zealand and generally it is found in my age group In fact statistics show it doesn’t appear as a birth name after 1971 There was never a specific meaning White doe is the closest I ever got and that seemed very twee to me
Once I began facing the demons of my past I really struggled with my name I hated that he was responsible for it That it tied me to him Or I felt it identified me with him
Here in New Zealand we are encouraged to give our mihi or introduction when greeting And within that we disclose our ancestral journey Identifying our forebears, our origins, I so struggled with this as I did not want to identify with him in any way A Maori friend helped me to process this in a way that really helped me identify in my present past not my damaged past So I could mihi safely
It wasn’t until I became friends with international friends who commented how unusual my name was. In fact a young American friend messaged me a few years ago and asked if I’d mind if she need her daughter Raewyn I was honoured It was then I began to realise how unusual it was special even! And since marrying my American and traveling there with him I am embracing it more positively and confidently In fact I had a lot of fun with their inabilities to pronounce or spell it when I say it 🙂
Then whilst down the rabbit hole I began some researching and discovered that in the 1890’s when the suffrage movement was in full swing here 1893 NZ was the first self governing nation to give women the right to vote! Anyways there supposedly was a woman named Rae Wynn who was involved in the suffrage movement which could’ve sparked people honouring her by calling their babies Raewyn, Raewynn, Raewynne,…
I also know that my paternal grandmother who carried that name must’ve been an amazing woman So I try now to look beyond that previous generation and identify with the women in my family tree from before who were pioneers Women who must have had so much strength & resilience
It feels good to be discovering strengths and positivity in my name Empowering even!
My maiden name has left a very sour taste in my mouth I struggle to identify with anything pertaining to my father I married at 21 so I have carried a different surname for over 43 years That has eased my aversion But I still become very triggered when forced to fill out paperwork with that name Or if I am identified as part of the family who carry that name
Names are important Never underestimate the power of your name And if you meet someone Never Ever Assume you can shorten their name Or use their familial nickname Unless you have their permission Or I might have to send my Valkyrie to deal with you 😉
No matter your age or abilities or situation Loneliness is it just is
It ebbs and flows you can be the happiest busiest person and still be lonely feel lonesome feel so alone in the midst of a busy room be alone in a crowd feel empty
Loneliness is an emptiness it is tears escaping for no apparent reason it is a void a blackness abandonment
Loneliness can begin through no fault of your own from grief loss estrangement abuse physical proximity social isolation emotional isolation feeling different feeling unacceptable feeling misunderstood removing yourself in your head because it hurts removing yourself before it hurts again self protection not allowing anyone in building barriers closing people out
Loneliness can be just there but you don’t know until you do
Most people who read this know my story (If not then cruise on back through my posts and you’ll soon figure it out) And you will know that I have been in therapy for over 10 years now it was actually quite a cataclysmic event that I am able to pin point my breakdown to – the Christchurch NZ February 2011 earthquake happened exactly one month after I broke. Not sure if there is any rational transcendent reasonings behind that timeframe but its definitely a hinging point for my memories
I have learnt and am still learning about me And how the traumas have affected and altered me I’m sure it has been beneficial No, I know it has been incredibly beneficial It hasn’t changed my past But it has altered how I deal with my future My trauma based brain that I operate from still sends out triggers on a daily basis But I have learnt to how to identify them and cope with them more readily
I’ve also learnt a whole heap of new vocabulary And for someone like me who processes in the written word Who loves words Who loves to research This helps me immeasurably
Recently I was talking with my therapist about how people perceive me and how I see myself I am usually seen as being strong and outspoken and independent But inside I am often a quaking mess, unsure, afraid of being hurt and afraid of upsetting proverbial boats
I present this exterior persona of being strong and in control Which I also am I’m both Because the me that is now I Was shattered into pieces And I am trying to meld my pieces back together again Confused much Yeah me too
This quote pretty much sums it up though
10 years of therapy sounds a such a long time But so much else has happened within those years that have rabbit pathed my focus so my therapy has been often stretched sideways I relaxed into it more easily once I was told in the earlier days by one of my case managers that my abuse/trauma would take a very long time to heal from
So anyways, recently my therapist shared these words with me when I was asking her how the hell do I present so together when I’m actually not…
Firstly Dissociation (when we numb out or block painful feelings) I’m already very familiar with this I do it often It makes life so much easier to cope with But it makes others feel like you don’t care
Over identification (when swamped and overwhelmed) oh my Lord! This is way too familiar I know one of my ptsd cover ups has been, and often still is, to keep very busy So I do And then there gets to be too much happening in my brain And I start spinning And one small trigger tips me over And my brain crashes Like the wheel spinning on the computer screen And I blank out drowning in an absolute lost mess
But the third one is the word I needed to understand to answer my question
Disidentification (when keeping at arms length and know it’s not about me) This is the word I had not heard before But it sure is a good one And it is most definitely me A lot of the time It’s the suck it up and do what is deemed right part of me It’s the brave face It’s the masks I wear to protect me And it’s the masks I wear to actually protect others Because no matter how much I break my silence there are still those who do not know, who can not know, who I still protect
This was the me that was able to stand up the front of the church and speak at my own father’s funeral I never understood how I did that But it was expected of me I was the eldest of the siblings Eloquant Strong Someone who gets shit done So I did what was expected And I spoke I remember absolutely nothing My mother of course kept all the words and on her death I probably inherited them along with all the other words she passed on to me I choose not to go searching for them I choose to stay in a state of insulation to protect my very vulnerable self.
Did I speak at my mother’s funeral I absolutely cannot remember I know I organised her funeral I know so many intimate details of the day, the weeks prior and the weeks & months following But I have completely buried that part of the day My mother was an important part of my development but her ultimate betrayal is still too painful and deeply embedded so dissociation wins
But I do know I stood and spoke at my husband’s funeral This was the me that was so broken, so lost, so overwhelmed with pain But I did it Cuz I had to For me For him For the kids I disidentified and dissociated
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
― Fred Rogers
I was watching the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood” recently and these words really spoke to me They are so true So wise
We have had so many taboos in societal exchange And those taboos create so much stress trauma generating room for abuse of many kinds to perpetuate
If we cannot talk about death life sex mental health relationships etc in normal fashion using real terms and real words
We create prohibitions secrets silences darkness damage
Allowing misconceptions to exacerbate Allowing lies to spread Allowing abuse to continue
Let’s manage our (un)mentionables Let’s talk honestly Let’s talk openly Let’s be supportive Let’s be trustworthy
I know if I had had just one person Just one Who could’ve seen Who could’ve been supportive Maybe, just maybe, life would’ve been so different for the little girl that was me
Unfortunately The one person that spoke up for me all those decades ago was just another small person a witness but also a victim, yet another victim Whose parents couldn’t hear her wouldn’t hear her couldn’t see wouldn’t see And because of their inability to manage the unmentionable she was unheard she was physically abused she was verbally abused she was ridiculed for saying such unmentionable dirty things she was silenced
one victim became two victims and on and on and on
until decades later the ripples in the pond of abuse that my father began have become so big and so far reaching so damaging in so many realms of my life
Ever since I found my voice 8 years ago and began mentioning the unmentionable I have been hearing from more of his victims and from other victims who have found their voices cuz I found mine Finding your voice empowers others
Sadly I am still hearing stories from other victims today It is never ending But as we manage our humanity we find support we find we are not alone
We are all asked at some point in our lives to write a CV or a resume It is actually a really tough call for many of us Some of us who have dedicated our lives to our families who have not ‘worked’ outside our homes for decades Some of us don’t feel comfortable blowing our own trumpets selling ourselves isn’t easy in this society of diminishment to embolden ourselves is not something we are comfortable with
But try writing your life CV Wow! Thats another story Where do I begin What do I write What do I hide What can I say
There are some things that are on my life CV that I unfortunately can’t do anything about Things that have damaged me Things that have caused me trauma Things that hold me back Things that silence me Things that make me angry Things that scar me Responses I have made Behaviours I have inflicted Words uttered in haste Words delivering pain Those things are there and only I can choose how I use them
I heard a great quote from Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl who went through far, far more than I could ever imagine but his words resound loudly
Everything in life can be taken from you except one thing The freedom to respond to the situation you are in This is what determines the quality of the life we live, not our circumstances
I am learning to control my reactive emotive responses Those damn ptsd reactions… Trying not to respond to a situation immediately When I do it is often with unthought out reaction A reaction coming from my ptsd or my anxiety or my child self
I am trying to stop and breath and allow time Time to think Time to try and view the situation from the otherside Time to diffuse
I am learning how to rewrite my CV I cannot erase the pages already written The past of damages I have lived and damaging I have caused Those pages have already been delivered & read Burning my copy doesn’t erase the copies received I cannot cancel that history But I can begin writing new pages
The pages ahead are still clear and clean My pencil is sharpened I am aware and on guard I know there will be blots on the pages From inadvertant reactives I unleash But I can choose React or retaliate or Respond
Whatever I choose will predicate the outcome It is my choice
Living with the results of trauma is something many of us do Many more of us than you can imagine Trauma response is very individual No one can relive your trauma No one can tell you how you ought to respond No one can tell you what you feel Or how you should feel No one has the right to make you feel guilty No one has the right to tell you to forgive
There are recognised symptoms that cover the wide variety of PTSD’s Not all will apply to you Or to him Or her They are a generic guide for diagnosis The base though is that they are/can be your bodies response to trauma inflicted on you that you could not control The wounds are very often externally indiscernible But the responses are embarrassingly visible And can often be emotionally, physically and socially crippling
For me personally I can identify with most of the above symptoms and at least half of those would be affecting me on a daily basis
Trauma changes our basic brain functionings Thats a fact No argument
One of my sorrowful questions has often been What/who would I have been if I hadn’t endured 10 years of childhood sexual abuse? Who would that little girl have become? What would her life have been like? Would she have been a better mother, a better wife? Would she have had more confidence in herself? Would her experience of sex and relationships have been more healthy?
I know I am the person I am today because of my abuse I don’t want the abuse to define me But in an intrinsic way it has I had no choice in that But I do have a choice now I have a choice to do the best I can with who I am now I will not let my abuser win this I am inherently stronger because I have had to be I had to fight from such a young age to hang on to my identity
Childhood incest inflicts such massive confusion on a child Love Loyalty Respect Trust All things that should be an integral part of a safe normal parent/child relationship Are confused by Manipulation Secrets Emotional bullying Passive agressiveness Powerlessness Conflicted loyalty Guilt, blame & shame Betrayal
When you finally escape you don’t know how to experience real love You are so used to your body being used as a ‘love tool’ That you unwittingly continue that toxic behaviour
According to research the younger the age the abuse begins, the frequency of the abuse, plus the longer the duration, effects the intensity of trauma response. The average length of incest abuse is 4 years – when I read this today it blew my mind, I am crying as I type, I feel sick to my stomach as the reality & roots of my constant fight is hitting me…
My recollections are that I was around the age of 7-8 yrs old, the frequency was almost daily, and I wasn’t able to escape my abuser until I was 18 years old. 10 years of almost daily incestuous abuse…
No wonder I struggle to support my inner child It is a constant Daily Overwhelming fight To separate my adult self from my child self To not be her anymore I just want to grow strong enough to build a healthier relationship between us.