An Illustrated History of Ex

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I have just found this little doozy in an old notebook; an awful misery fuelled doodle of mine from this time last year. It made me chuckle because in my post Neurosis, my old friend I described myself as “the fucking Michelin man squeezed into an AC/DC t-shirt”  – so it seems my subconscious has intrinsically linked my love of 80’s metal with my fat arms.

download_20140527_125824I feel embarrassed to look at this now (not just because I am seriously lacking in any kind of artistic skills) but thinking what on earth possessed me, whilst in the middle of writing  to-do list, to veer off so wildly and produce this emo masterpiece? “Ohhh I hate myself so much I’m going to draw an abstract tree, but like, the tree is a metaphor and like, the scribbley bush is an outward expression of my inner turmoil, or something. And there’s a moon. Because its night, and the night is black, LIKE MY SOOOUUUUUULLLLLLLL”

I don’t remember why I did it, but I do remember how I felt afterwards. I felt satisfied having drawn something so bleak and hateful. I was content that some of the crushing negativity that I was feeling in my head was now out there in the world, and maybe, just maybe my boyfriend would find it and he would see EXACTLY how I felt inside, just from looking at this one page in a spiral bound notebook he would finally understand. He would then be horrified at all the pain I was going through and would sweep me up in his arms and tell me everything was going to be okay. He would apologise for all the insults, the patronising looks, the condescending rants, the put downs. He would tell me I was beautiful and perfect just how I am. He would be the hero, love and care for me for the rest of my days, and make me a happy girl again…

WAKE UP SUNSHINE – THAT SHIT WAS NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.

In reality, him and his treatment of me was the cause of my relapse into depression; and rather than him being the one who could make it better, all he ever did was make it worse. Throughout our whole relationship I hated my body, I hated the vessel in which my personality was unfortunate enough to reside. I went from a size 8 to a size 16 because he liked curvy girls. He loved big boobs, so he would say to me “Oh, your boobs have got smaller. That good isn’t it, you wanted to loose weight”, knowing full well I would then be paranoid about my boobs and him not finding me attractive, causing me to abandon my healthy eating regime to put the weight back on and please him. I was told by a nurse I needed to lose weight but I wouldn’t do it. I wanted him to want me. I craved his approval, whatever the cost to myself. I’ve struggled with self esteem issues since I was a teenager, but this time I loathed myself with the fire of a thousand suns.

You’re a stupid fat fuck, you’re so fucking ugly no wonder he doesn’t want to sleep with you, he will never love you really, you’d be much better off dead you know, go take a fucking jump you stupid ugly bitch.

I’d look at myself in the mirror and say those things to myself out loud – serious top drawer crazy shit right here. One day I smashed the mirror because I hated what I saw so. fucking. much. I found myself repugnant, I couldn’t bare for him to see me without make-up so went all wacko-Jacko and would run straight into the bathroom as soon as I got home from work to put on a full face before he could see me. I began self harming again and when my boyfriend found out he said he would leave me if I ever did it again*, so instead I just began pulling my hair and pinching and hitting myself in the stomach and legs. Because I’m so clumsy I could just pass the bruises off as accidents. At the time I did not have the ability to assess at my actions objectively, but now I think “If I knew one of my friends was doing that to themselves what would I do?”  Looking back, I was really seriously unwell.

All of this culminated in an almost suicide attempt, which is pretty pathetic as a culmination I know. It was some innocuous midweek day last summer and I had called in sick because I couldn’t stop crying. My housemates and boyfriend were at work so I was alone, lying on the floor crying for the whole morning until I’d just had enough. I was just so tired. Tired of struggling. Tired of hating myself. Tired of not being good enough. Tired of being so fucking sad all the fucking time. I had the tablets lined up – all of my medication and all of my boyfriend’s (he had a chronic stomach condition and would get 6 months worth of meds at a time). I sat there, crumpled in my dressing gown holding a handful of pills and a big glass of water, and I stopped crying; because I knew it was going to be over soon. Thankfully last minute I suddenly thought of my mum, had a flash of rationality, called the Samaritans  and just cried and cried. The poor fuck on the other end of the phone probably couldn’t understand a word I said, but it helped just to have someone there. It helped to have a person anchored in the real world to tell me that this wasn’t the answer. To reach in to my fucked up world, put their arm around me and say “Hey, no, this isn’t the only way to stop this”. I never told anyone what hadn’t happened that day.

I’d love to say that was a turning point, an epiphany moment blah blah, but that incident was shortly followed by another hysteric incident. “OH WILL IT NEVER END” I hear you cry! Sorry, I know this a long one.

This next ‘episode’ was early one morning not long after the AAS (Almost Attempted Suicide). I’d fallen asleep crying the night before – being ignored by the man lying next to me, his back to me as I convulsed silently, soaking the pillow with tears. Needless to say I wasn’t feeling too chipper the next morning and I didn’t want a repeat of the AAS incident, so I called my doctors for an emergency appointment to try to get more medication. It must have been just before their opening time as I was automatically put through to NHS 111 out of hours service. This was a HUGE shock to me in my fragile state, as I was totally unprepared to be asked a barrage of difficult questions like: “Name? Address? Age?” which I just about managed to answer without bursting into tears. When he finally asked what the matter with me was, I proceeded to flip the fuck out and go on a hysterical ramble at the poor phone operative (crying again, copiously), then promptly hung up and JUST WALKED TO WORK. I was halfway there when I got a call from my housemate who had just answered the door in his boxers, only to find two coppers standing there. Needless to say all three of them were a little stunned. The police told him they been sent by the 111 operative because they thought I was going to off myself. My housemate had no idea I was self harming or suicidal and I broke down in tears (AGAIN! So much fucking CRYING!) then the policemen and housemate came to pick me up in the police car to take me to the doctors. I sat in the cop car crying all the way there, then I sat in the waiting room crying, then in the doctors office. He gave me Valium, I went home, took some, and slept for 12 hours.

The Valium helped take the edge off things so I could go about my life in a bit of a fog, but functioning. The incident meant I was finally approved for “Level 3” counselling: 16 weeks of 1-2-1 sessions with a Congative Behavioural Therapist. I started off the counselling adamant I didn’t want to talk about my boyfriend and  our relationship, I wanted to use the sessions to work on MY issues, focus on ME, and then the relationship would be fine when I was ‘cured’. After several weeks of this approach we didn’t really get anywhere. Finally I opened up about my relationship, stopped putting myself down whilst making excuses for him, and it was like a switch being flipped – my counsellor could finally piece things together properly. Of course my past had some bearing on the way I was, but my serious issues at that point in time which were causing me the most pain were all related to him and the way he treated me. From then on we were on a roll. There is far too much mind wank to go into here but it was a fucking godsend, and I was clawed back my confidence slowly through a lot of effort and god damn hard work.

Finally, I did have that epiphany. In December (roughly 5 months after the AAS) I went to stay with a friend for the weekend and we did friend stuff: she listened and advised on my issues, we watched TV, and we laughed – oh how we laughed! It was great, I was Sophie again, totally and completely, even if it was just for two days. Although when it came around to Sunday evening and time to go home I didn’t want to leave her. I didn’t want to go back to that house where he was. I was dreading going home. And there it was. Epiphany Part 1:

I should not be dreading going home.

I should not be feeling such a horrid sense of trepidation returning to the man who is supposed to love me and be my partner. You are supposed to look forward to going home and being received into the welcoming arms of the one you love – but I knew that was not what was waiting for me back in Bristol. When I finally went home my fears were realised. He did not even look away from his computer screen when I walked in the door, he didn’t ask me how I was or how my weekend had been, he was cold, rude and mean. Within 10 minutes of being home I was in tears, so I ran out of the house. I ran to my friend’s place in the rain, in my slippers with no jumper on (luckily she lives only 10 doors down, I’m no modern day Jane Eyre). The girl I went to see is my most treasured confident who I think knows me better than anyone else in the world, but after a year and a half of me running to her in tears with the latest disaster involving him, she seemed to have had enough of the bullshit excuses I made for his behaviour and stopped dancing around the issue. She told me exactly what she thought and got me to say out loud what I’d known for months: He was the reason I am depressed, he isn’t the one who can make happy again. I am. And I knew exactly what  I needed to do to make that happen; cue epiphany part two:

I had to leave him.

So I did.

I had three ciders, smoked way too many cigarettes, listened to Woman by Wolfmother, AND THEN I FUCKING DUMPED HIS ASS.

 

 

 

*NOT a healthy way to get someone to stop self harming, cunt.

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Neurosis, my old friend.

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So far everything with New Boyfriend has been going great, and I’ve been skipping through the fields of life tucking flowers in my hair and laughing gaily. Well, until last week when Sargent Major Insecurity popped up and began marching through my mind, fucking shit up.

It all started when I was invited to an event at which Boyfriend’s Ex-Girlfriend would be present. My anxiety went through the roof just at the thought of even being in the same room as her with New BF, and I began to think…

What if we turn up and she looks really pretty and BF might fancy her? She’s bound to be wearing an awesome outfit and have a sexy rockin’ body, all my clothes are shit – I’m like the fucking Michelin man squeezed into an AC/DC t-shirt. She’ll be on stage being all cool and confident and funny and witty – I’m just an awkward wierdo who makes robot noises if she is forced to change course when walking. He’ll see her up on stage, ditch me, and get back with her. Why did I even bother? I knew he was too smart and cute and funny for me. I should have known this would happen. MY HEART WILL BE BROKEN WHY DO I FUCKING BOTHER?! I’M A FUCKING IDOT, A STUPID UGLY IDIOT.

Hm.

This is what my anxiety does. It takes an innocuous thought or a scenario and I fixate on it, taking it step by step from a fleeting comment and over processing until it becomes: OH DEAR GOD THIS IS AWFUL, I AM AWFUL, THERE IS NO ESCAPING IT, I AM THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD I SHOULD JUST GO CRAWL UNDER A ROCK AND DIE.

anxietyby artist Natalie Dee

When the roller-coaster of insanity had slowed down I spoke to Boyfriend and politely declined the invitation. I made mention of my anxiety but omitted the batshit insane detail that my mind goes into (I didn’t want to scare him off, then I write a whole freakin’ blog about it, nice one Mangers. Ha!). Thankfully he was lovely and understanding. Sigh of relief.

Temporary relief.

Until the next day when I was driving my car with wet toenails post-pedicure (bear with me it’s relevant). I was wearing flip-flops and was worried my foot would slip on the pedals and smudge the polish. Then my brain thought:

Hold on… What if my foot slips off the brake and my car careens onto the pavement and I hit someone? What if that someone is his Ex-Girlfriend, and a mow her down??! No one will believe it’s an accident!! Everyone will think I did it on purpose! Boyfriend will hate me! He’ll think I’m a MURDERING BUNNYBOILER PSYCHOPATH! Our mutual friend will too!! She’ll HATE ME FOREVER!!! If I do hit Ex-Girlfriend, should I just drive off? That way no-one will know it was me who did it… And they won’t hate me…

I was seriously considering hit and run as the best course of action at that point. You can see how utterly fucked up and ridiculous anxiety gets when these were serious thoughts that came into my head. Even though she lives on the complete opposite side of the city an I had perfect control of my vehicle at all times (You’re safe Totterdown).

This is what used to happen in my mind every day when I was with Ex-Boyfriend. Every god-damned day I would get stuck in these thought spirals because of a comment or joke he made about me, his refusal to give physical affection, his attempts to mold me into his perfect woman, comparing myself to every other girl walking down the street… I would take any small instance and build these stories, working them over and over inside my head, putting myself down, riding the helter-skelter of anxiety until I was at the bottom wanting to fucking kill myself.

And I would enjoy doing it.

I knew this thought pattern was destructive to me. I knew it would not help the situation, but I would not stop myself because I wanted to revel in the misery all these horrible thoughts brought me; and derived perverse pleasure from the horrible gnawing feeling that ate away at my internal organs when my anxiety took over.

I had been made to believe I was a worthless piece of shit, so I believed that I deserved to feel awful which then led me to indulge in the behaviors that kept me miserable. It was safe to be miserable. I liked being miserable, because it was fucking horrible. I ignored all the positive things resigned myself safe in the knowledge that I was fat, ugly, stupid and weak.

Although ExBoyfriend can’t take ALL the credit for my issues – It began, as it always does, with my Father. From when I was about 7 years old I remember him telling me I was fat and ugly (GO PARENTING!) which set me up for feeling REALLY fucking great about myself from a young age. So my self-esteem was not great from the get go, and then there was Ex-Boyfriend #2 who I was with for two years. He would, amongst other things, tell me what to wear, shout obscenities at me centimeters from my face, and leave me locked in our house whilst he went out on 36 hour Ketamine binges with his friends. Needless to say after that relationship I was a fucking wreck. Three years of singledom after that and I started to feel happy, buuuuuuuut then there was the most recent Ex-Boyfriend who took a fucking baseball bat to my soul and utterly destroyed me again.

After a lifetime of hating myself I’ve spent the last six years in therapy, seen five different counselors, taken 3 different medications, and worked my god damned arse off to get where I am now. Where is that I hear you cry? Why, to be myself of course! Which is total fucking bullshit. Why should I have to go through so much pain and put in so much effort just to be myself? They took out their fucking issues on ME and fucked me up in the process. Why the fuck did I deserve that?

It really fucks me off that the actions of those insecure nasty little pricks still affect me. Even though I am free of them, their legacy is the tendrils of blackness that are wrapped around my brain which occasionally squeeze and turn me into an irrational insecure and very sad person. It’s not fair.

No, it’s not fucking fair.

But boo-hoo motherfucker, that shit happened. And you know what you have to do? Get up, grab a fucking bat, and beat it. So I am, and I will.