Getting through late October into early November is always really tough for me and takes a lot out of me. How I managed this year highlights how much progress I've made.
One reason why it's a tough time of year for me is the existence of several anniversaries on top of each other
- 27 Oct was my late father's birthday [he would have been 80 this year which made it bigger especially as he died late August this year] He was still my biological father alongside the terrible abuse and cruelty he meted out to me. He abused me as 'Mr nice guy' as well as 'Mr mean guy' which was very confusing at the time and is still really confusing and hard to get my head around. I'm glad he is dead though and is no longer able to abuse or hurt another child and cannot be involved in arranging to abuse or hurt any children. It's very hard to say and think those things about your own father, but it is the truth and it's so important these days to clearly state the truth. No more lies, only truth!!
- 31 Oct is halloween, a very tough date for survivors of SRA as are a few days leading up to it and following it. I really struggle with the spiritual atmosphere that's around during that week or so. It's a very horrible energy! Memories and flashbacks of the rituals I was forced to be part of are really hard too!
- 1 Nov is my brother's birthday [he would have been 50 this year which made it even bigger] I find it very hard to imagine him at the age of 50 as in my mind's eye he is still the lanky 22 year old that I last saw him when I was 19 and beaten up, disowned and left for dead by my parents. I haven't seen him since. It's extremely sobering to know what a dangerous individual he is. Although I know I did all I could to safeguard others from him I still feel it was not enough. The police just did not grasp what sort of an individual they were dealing with! I find it very hard to accept I have a brother who is such a damaged and dangerous individual. Although it is not my responsibility I do feel some responsibility for how he has turned out – and that is very bizarre indeed. I think it's a case of he is my brother when it's all said and done and he always will be my brother – biologically – it's tough to have such an evil sibling! It's also really hard to face that fact that I have a brother who was never a brother to me and never will be a brother to me. It's really good though that I'm able to begin to see him for the person he real is and always was. All abusers are cowards deep down, they just don't want you to realise that because unless you do they will always have the power over you. That's what I think anyway!
- 2 Nov is the anniversary of my grandfather's death in 1992 [so this year was the 20th anniversary which made it feel really big] As one of my biggest abusers the world is a better place without him in it, although it is very hard and painful to acknowledge and say it. It's very hard that I have no happy memories attached to him, only bad ones. But it is very healing to state clearly that he was one of my biggest abusers!
- 5 Nov is Bonfire night which had very bad connotations in childhood and was also when I found out about my grandfather's death in 1992 after having been out to a firework display. I came back home after a firework display on 5 Nov 1992 to the phone ringing. I had the feeling it had been ringing all evening. It was my mother informing me that my grandfather had dropped dead from his 5th heart attack and his funeral was the next day on 6 Nov 1992. She also informed me that she'd arranged for a wreath to be there from me and was asking me for the money for it. I was so angry that she had assumed. Given the choice I would never have sent flowers or any kind of message from me to his funeral. She was at her most manipulative. I argued with her but in the end caved in. The only way to get her off the phone was to reluctantly and against my wishes agree to send a cheque which I could not afford to send. Thank goodness for the tinned food I had in the cupboard!! I was so angry at myself for caving in. I was also very angry with her for what she did. Every Bonfire night since has tainted with the memories from childhood and of what I returned home to following that firework display that night. The 20th anniversary of it this year made it much tougher too. The good thing is that I am able to focus on my mother, her behaviour, attitudes and so on, rather than on how I handled it [or didn't handle it] all those years ago.
- As a child from mid November I began to prepare myself for the horrors that were ahead of me over the coming Christmas and New Year, from which I knew there would be no respite or escape. I realise only now how much energy that took out of me. I'm so glad that I've been able to transform Christmas to a much happier time of year for me and have been able to create happy memories which offset the horrendous memories and flashbacks during that time of year.
Another reason why it's a tough time of year is the clocks going back and days becoming increasingly darker. I really struggle with that. Although I do not have a formal diagnosis of S.A.D [Seasonal Adjustive Disorder] it is something that really affects me and is noted on my medical records that late October to April is a very dangerous time of year for me when my depression is far worse than throughout the rest of the year.
So this time of year always takes a lot of navigating through.
Though it was indeed very tough this year and took a lot of energy and also a lot of distractions and “resourcefulness” [to quote my therapist] to get through I noticed quite a difference in how I coped.
It certainly makes a huge difference that I now have support in my CPN, counsellor and therapist. The work I've been doing with them has changed several things in me.
I notice I'm a lot kinder to myself. I accept myself, my thoughts and feelings in a way I never have done before. In the past I had many 'should' and 'should not' arguments with myself about how I was etc. Now I don't have those arguments any more. They lurk in the background but it's as if the volume has been turned down on them.
Also, I'm a lot more aware of what things help me, distract me and enable to cope better, such as playing pool, snooker, putting, photography, going down my tree etc. Allowing myself to do things which I enjoy and are good distractions is making a huge difference to me and is actually enriching my life. I guess I'm developing new coping mechanisms which tend to be constructive rather than negative or destructive.
Another change is how I value myself now which I think has come about through the way those who are supporting me are showing me my value and encouraging me to be 'me' and find my identity in who I am as a whole person rather than just as an abuse survivor. I'm realising there is so much more to me than the abuse survivor. I'm having fun discovering 'me' in my many guises.
Finally I think the work I've been doing with my child parts means they feel loved, valued, wanted and included these days. I also am taking into account the things they like doing and giving them space to enjoy those things, if possible.
I described the place I'm at to my counsellor the other day as a space where I have space to breathe and space to explore. All my life until now I've felt like I've been in a very constricted place. I felt so tightly restricted there was no space to move. Now things feel very different, which is amazing and wonderful!
Getting through that really dangerous time for me this year was different for all those reasons and probably others I haven't discovered yet. It was a very hard time and it took all my strength and resolve to get through in as constructive a way as possible.
The therapy and the counselling are making a huge difference to me and to my life! Although I feel that the really big things I hope for, for my life, are well out of reach still, I do see enormous changes in me and in my life that give me hope for a better future and a better life than I've had up until now. It also makes coping with the present day a little easier.
I often overwhelmed by scale of the task before me and how far I have to go. It's good to pause and remind myself how far I have come and just what differences I and others can see in me.
There has been massive progress and growth which is incredible.
I could never have dreamed my life could be all it is now, although it's a long way from where I really want to be!!