Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Ghosts of a Narcissist

Sixteen years ago I fled; sixteen years ago I believed I was free but the domestic abuse and narcissist still follows stalks and haunts me today. It is incredible to me that I can move hundreds of miles away from my narcissist to a quiet corner of the globe, change everything about me yet again, to free myself from the narcissist but the ghost still follows me, tracks me down and haunts me. The ghost seems to sit on my shoulder as if he is my friend and, now and again, thinks it's ok to give me a shove in order to let me know I will never be free.

My narcissist is the father of my child so, I suppose if I am honest, it is inevitable that I continue to hear his name and situation now and again but I did not expect to still be traumatised and triggered sixteen years on. He continues to tell lies about me to family members which still hurt today as if I am still embroiled in the abuse of yesteryear and yet I should be over him and a free woman. But can I ever be truly and fully free? Maybe not? Maybe as survivors of abuse, we can never feel fully free of a narcissist or sociopath when you have children with him. Maybe that just what I will always be “just” a survivor; I survived physically and manage to not get murdered, so I am a survivor but am I kidding myself that I am a thriver or a warrior?

So, today I find myself making phone calls to agencies and organisations that he has lied to in order to alleviate myself from harassment calls. Yesterday he told a family member that I was the only person who could deal with his mother’s cremated ashes held at the funeral directors because I had paid the final invoice. What? Me the ex-wife, paid the final invoice for his mother funeral expenses? What sort of rubbish is that? What utter nonsense. And individuals believe this crap that spews from his mouth. You see a narcissist can convince anyone that he is viable, honest and right. This family member, brainwashed, coerced and gaslit by his sociopathic lies, thinks I am the one stopping his poor deceased mother being interred. Can you believe it? Can you believe any of it? It is unbelievable, stupid and far fetched but he is so convincing and plays the "victim card" that I know people will believe him. Stories like this one have spewed from his mouth before and I have lost good long standing friends due to his cruel lies and gaslighting.

Haven’t my daughter and I suffered enough? How much more does the universe want us to suffer? Abuse, a marriage breakup, divorce, starting over with nothing, fleeing, losing my home, my friends, my husband, my life and then enduring years of financial abuse and hardship, lies, stalking, harassment and threats and now this. Is that not enough? obviously not, his lies continue and bubble up every so often to a point where I cannot take it anymore. Most of the time I thrive, sometimes I am a true warrior but there are minuscule amounts of time when I fall into the deep cesspit of sadness and despair and blubber like a baby. I blubber so hard that I am so scared I will not stop. I blubber so hard that the sobs come from deep inside my stomach. I blubber so hard my soul hurts and my heart feels physical pain. I blubber so hard it feels like I may pass out. Once my taps are turned on it is almost impossible to turn them off. Interestingly, once my tap is full on, my eyes cry freely and automatically for days after, even when I have turned my tap off. The pain I feel is indescribable and no one can fully understand the depth of damage by a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath. I am sure some of those reading this, and who follow my blog posts, will know what I am talking about, understand and feel the same way too.

So, through a marriage and a child, I am tied to a narcissist in a small way possibly forever or until one of us passes. No matter how far away I move the ghosts of my narcissist will haunt me in some way for the rest of my days on this earth. Even if it’s just the simple mention of the words – husband, Dad or father.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

I have been Daniel Blake; I was Katie Morgan

Finally, I managed to see this movie and I sobbed uncontrollably throughout. I was Katie Morgan and I have been Daniel Blake. The memories and triggers came back so strong during many scenes that I thought I was going to have to leave the cinema. Ken Loach’s accurate portrayal of poverty and the benefits system was so poignant and acute that I found myself wanting to scream out in the cinema. I wanted to scream “this was me”. I cannot begin to explain how it feels to be so poor you cannot feed yourself, only your children and you don’t eat for days and feel so hungry you eat cold baked beans from the tin. During the movie I had heart palpitations and thought I was going to hyperventilate and have a panic attack, I was so traumatised by the portrayal of a poor single mum just trying to do what’s right for her kids; I thought I would pass out. And no, I am not a neurotic attention seeking Mum, I am real, honest and feel things and want you to understand how very real the I, Daniel Blake meassage really is.

I was Katie Morgan. Single parent, no money, working all hour’s God made just to put food on the table for my child and keep a roof over our heads. I was a Nursery School Manager, working 15 hour days but, alone, I could never earn enough in this particular industry to cover my immediate costs. Before I had even bought food I had to earn £1000.00 to cover my mortgage and utilities. I lost my house to the bank; finally, they took it from me and we were homeless. I have never owned a house since and my retirement looks bleak financially.

I couldn’t afford to pay for gas and electric so I had meters put into the house, but no one tells you they cost more than the usual tariffs; the Utility companies ripping off the most vulnerable and the poor. I asked for them to be removed, but it cost £400.00 to have them taken out; I was locked in and no more 50pence pieces went in, I couldn’t afford it. Like Katie Morgan, we sat in the dark with candles and night lights in our coats, hats, gloves and scarves, wrapped up in blankets with a hot water bottle, night after night to keep warm. Or we went to bed, snuggled up together, just to endeavour to keep warm. My child has experienced things no child should, but we have always had each other and have always survived.

I was Katie Morgan. I still worked long hours but still had very little money for food. I borrowed small amounts of cash from friends every week just so I could feed my daughter and I ate toast for breakfast lunch and dinner. I was hungry and depressed; is this what life is all about? Is this what life should be like? None of this was in my game plan but after domestic abuse, surviving and survival was the only way forward. I had no choice but to show my daughter my inner strength for her future.

I was Daniel Blake. The first time I used the Job Centre I was appalled. The queues and the wait time, then how they spoke to me as if I was a piece of shit on the bottom of their shoe. The hoops I had to jump through to be paid trivial amounts of money. I had to share my private life with the Job Centre only to be told I was not entitled to anything. Because I owned my house and earned too much I could not get anything. I was one of the Great British Public that was stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. I would need to not work or earn less money, be homeless and evicted and then if I was lucky I might be assisted. I complained to the manager of Job Centre Plus three times about the treatment of me but nothing changed. They asked the same questions, made me prove I had job searched and sent me to interviews where it was obvious I would never be employed. I hated how they treated everyone the same. Everyone was put into the same box – scroungers, thick, unintelligent wasters who didn’t want to work – I was appalled to be treated this way, but no amount of complaining changed a bureaucratic brainwashing system – every customer service assistant was like a robot. They had been trained to speak the same language and not deviate from the crib sheet. Job Centre Plus you should be ashamed.

I was Daniel Blake. The stress levels were inexplicable. I hated going to the Job Centre weekly and going through the same process with yet another robotic customer service assistant. In the end, I gave up. It was less stressful to sit at home with no gas and electric and lose my house to the bank. How can that be right? What a way to treat the most vulnerable people in our society. They never did get me a job. I found it myself through sheer hard work and determination, knocking on doors, selling myself and sending out my experience resume. I have worked worked worked to get where I am today and I still work hard. But I also give back and help others because I know how it feels to be alone, scared, depressed and suicidal.

So, my uncontrollable sobs that came from deep within my soul while watching “I, Daniel Blake the Movie” were pent up years of unresolved trauma, PTSD and triggers that were brought to the surface by this great movie. Please do not be under any illusion whatsoever that Ken Loach et al has exaggerated the story line and life of Katie Morgan or Daniel Blake. I have chest pains and trouble breathing just writing this blog post. The memories of those times of severe hardship are so excruciatingly painful that even now it’s almost too much to bear. So, when poor Daniel suffers another major heart attack at the end of the movie don’t be under any illusion that this is “farfetched”. Many have suffered at the hands of the benefits system and bedroom tax and even passed away during the austerity in Great Britain. Dealing with the robots at Job Centre Plus, food banks, mortgage companies and piles of threatening brown envelopes pushed through my letterbox every morning was incredibly stressful. Letters requesting immediate payment, stamped “final bill” in bright red across the middle of the page or opening a court order was excruciatingly painful and I did not have a bean to pay. I was so scared and depressed I gave up opening them in the end; it was easier. The pile grew and became an origami sculpture on the worktop.

I was Katie Morgan and I have been Daniel Blake.

There are hundreds of Katie Morgan’s and Daniel Blake’s still suffering now at the wicked hands of austerity and the benefits system. Many of us are definitely not scroungers or wasters. Most of us just want to survive with the basics of life – love, warmth, clothing, food and a roof over our heads. My basic human rights, yes? And the rights of my child, yes, what do you think? 

I was Katie Morgan only ever trying to do right by my child - just like her. 

And as for Daniel, no one should die due to excessive stress just trying to get help from a system set up, supposedly, to help the most needy to survive and live a fairer life. What a waste of a decent human life; I, Daniel Blake was a special person, he was talented, intelligent, kind and caring. The establishment has forgotten that we pay in during our lifetime in order to get something back when the going gets real tough. We shouldn't have to fight for that. I am no waster or shirker of work and I expect people to treat me with respect even at my lowest point.

Shameful. The system is shameful and disgraceful.

So, my sobs were justified. I not only sobbed for me and my daughter, but I sobbed for all those out there that I know still fight the system, Job Centre Plus, the government, the establishment, courts, judges and justice. I sobbed for all of us that have suffered, and are still suffering, excruciating pain at the wicked hands of these individuals and organisations. 


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Recovery from Abuse

What does recovery from abuse look like?
What does it feel like?
Sound like? Smell like? Taste like?
How does recovery happen and when?
Can it happen; can it ever happen? Does it ever happen?
Should it happen?
Does anyone have the right to expect it to happen? Is it possible?

I don’t know if full recovery can ever happen. Triggers are there for life, aren’t they? Smells, sounds, people and places, words and music all contribute to remembering. The memories never go away, do they? The memories we make are supposed to be good ones, ones that we can rediscover at times with great pleasure. But memories of abuse and the individuals involved, together with the places and events, haunt us and never go away. They are never far from the surface. They cause trauma, stress, sleeplessness, anxiety and sadly, some rely on drugs, alcohol and prescription medication. Self-harming, homelessness, eating disorders and poor mental health can all affect a victim of abuse.

Recovery is a big and powerful word as far as I am concerned.

The dictionary definition states:

“It is a return to a normal state of health, mind or strength”

And goes on to use the following words to define “recovery”

  • ·         Recuperation
  • ·         Convalescence
  • ·         Return to health
  • ·         Process of getting better
  • ·         Healing
  • ·         Improvement
  • ·         Revival
  • ·         Renewal
  • ·         Show signs of recovery

All the above words are difficult to swallow as a victim of abuse because each one of them only helps us for small windows of space and time in our healing, as we dip in and out of recuperation, healing, improvement, revival and signs of recovery.

What is a “normal state of health, mind and strength”? Who defines this in abuse victims and survivors? Who do we know that is able to define this? I know I resent friends and family asking if I have recovered or “got over it” or saying “you need to just move on”. It is not that simple. Our brains are patterned to remember our abuse, to remember the memories. The shame, guilt and embarrassment are embedded in our psyche. It runs through our veins. Most of us, at some time, have been programmed and groomed to keep the secret and remain silence until we cannot live that way any further.

By the time we have the “return to a normal state of strength” and talk about what happened to us, we are about to burst, explode, combust and cannot live like that anymore. The living a double life, living a lie, keeping the secret and just getting on with life as best we can put a huge strain on the victim and in many cases the family too.  But even after we have shared our biggest encumbrance with that trusted someone the memories never leave us. Keeping the secret is what the abuser relies on; secrets and lies are what abuse is founded on. Speaking out is what we must do, but it's finding the health, mind and strength to do this, that is the never ending challenge for each victim and survivor.

I ask myself regularly should my memories be just that, memories. Are my triggers healthy and do they keep me safe. Do my memories really remind me to be careful about the future? Do others have a right to decide what memories we hang onto and what ones we disregard? Do others have the right to determine when and how we recover? Do others have the right to judge us when a smell or piece of music on the radio resort us to tears or anger? Time and place, photos and restaurants, music and movies still trigger me and regurgitate a memory that will make me sad, scared and anxious, stressed or even have palpitations. I am sure they do that to you too. We will all have different spaces, items and situations that act as reminders and triggers and that’s ok.

So the big question is, can we, as survivors of abuse, ever really and truthfully be fully recovered and returned to a normal state of health, mind or strength or all three.

My answer to this is that some days we can and some days we can’t, that “recovery” is a constant treadwheel of trying and making the best of each moment, hour and day. We can only do our best and of course that is ok. We can only live in the moment. I can’t think of the future and I try not to dwell too much on the past. I have learnt not to beat myself up about the past or the future. No one knows what is round the corner for any of us and worrying about my future makes me sad. Dwelling on my past makes me unhappy too, so I have learnt to live in the moment and try to enjoy each moment of today. Today is the only day I might have, so I enjoy it to its fullest.

I enjoy my home, the air I breathe, the wind on my face, the peace of my farm nestled away in the Pennines, my family and my animals. It is the first time in many years I have actually found Elaine again and can be truly me with no judgements.  No one has the right to say “just get over it” or “you need to move on” because “recovery” is in your time, space and pace, if at all. For some recovery will only come with justice and that can take a lifetime in some cases. Recovery can take a lifetime for us all and, of course, that is absolutely ok too.

This blog post gives a small insight into my recovery, healing and my incy-wincy (as I call it) golden nugget that remains at the very base of my brain in order to keep me safe from ever having to suffer any form of abuse ever again. My tiny golden nugget is my safety net and pops into action whenever I feel unsafe or vulnerable and reminds me to be wary, cautious, vigilant and trust my gut.

My Story can be read here: