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It’s Never Black and White

Gosh it’s been ages since I wrote in this blog, I am embarrassed by it.  I don’t know why I have kept away for so long. I think in part it goes back to the feeling that I have nothing useful to say, that others put it so much better than I do.  I know that’s not true, of course I have a voice to add.  As a survivor of abuse I strongly believe in being as open & honest as possible so that others can understand what it’s like.  Anyway, I’m here now & that’s what is important.

I was sexually abused by my dad. I don’t know how old  I was when it started, I can’t remember a lot of the abuse, but it went on until I was 26 when I finally cut contact with my so-called family. I haven’t spoken to my father since then, except one brief conversation.  I am relieved to have him out of my life, I am relieved to be safe.  He fucked with my head so badly, aside from the sexual abuse.  Life is much better without him in it.

BUT – there’s always a “but” isn’t there – it’s not that simple, much as I wish it was.  The truth is – & this is not easy to admit – I miss him.  I miss the “good” parts of him, I miss having a dad, I miss his cuddles.  I still love him, he is my dad after all.  And it wasn’t all bad, most of my happy memories from childhood are of times spent with him.  I worshipped him as a child, positively idolised him.  He was an absent father for the most part, so the time I did spend with him was particularly special.  When he was around he would take me places & treat me like a princess.  He never used violence to abuse me, instead he abused me with love if that makes sense, so it’s taken me a long time to see him for what he is.

In spite of what he’s done I still love him.  I will never let him hurt me again but it makes me sad that I will never see him again.  I can’t get my head round that.  Can’t believe that he’ll never hug me again.  If he were to get ill or something, I wouldn’t know.  And when he dies it’s unlikely I’ll be able to go to his funeral due to the rest of my “family”.  It all makes me very sad.  I feel like I am grieving him already.

Yet at the same time as grief, there is anger.  My dad is a classic narcissist & sado-masochist.  He is unable to understand anyone else’s needs or wants except where they apply to him & his needs.  I was never an individual to him, but rather a vessel to pour his own needs & desires into.  He couldn’t see beyond himself.  He was unable to empathise with anyone else; he’d try to fake it but was unconvincing.  I believe in his own very warped, twisted way that he loves me as much as he’s capable of loving.  But he also repeatedly chose my step mother over me, telling me on several occasions that his wife came first.  So on top of the abuse there was abandonment.  Over the years he has hurt me so much with his betrayal of my love & my trust.  His is the worst betrayal because it was done in a loving way, so terribly confusing to me, both as a child & as an adult.


Trouble Adjusting

I have just become a full-time (when I’m out) wheelchair user. This is something I have resisted for a long long time. Truthfully I should have been using it for probably the last 3 years, but instead I resisted it & either stayed in – which was most of the time – or forced myself to walk despite the massive level of pain that would cause, followed by being crippled, often for days. I resisted because I felt embarrassed about needing the wheelchair, I was in denial about how bad my mobility had become & I was just being sheer bloody-minded!  I kept telling myself that if I went out that it was better to force myself to walk than use the chair, that I was maintaining some level of mobility this way.  In fact I was just delaying the inevitable at considerable cost to myself.

Finally I realised that there was no avoiding it anymore. I actually wanted to get out. It’s the Edinburgh Festival & my OH & I try to see a fair few shows. We didn’t bother for years but last year I decided we should make an effort & we ended up seeing a lot of really great shows. The downside was that I was frequently crippled with pain from walking & struggling to manage more than a tiny shuffle of a walk a lot of the time, it was so bad. It definitely put a dampener on things.  So this year I very reluctantly decided to accept that I would have to use the wheelchair.  On a lot of levels this has been a godsend. I’ve been able to get out & have a social life almost like an able bodied person & my pain levels have been much much more manageable now I’m not forcing myself to walk.

But it’s also been very challenging.  I feel really quite distressed that I have now lost even more of my independence. I am extremely reliant on my OH in many ways & I feel bad about that. It’s hard trying to come to terms with the fact that my physical health has deteriorated year on year & that the wheelchair will probably become a permanent fixture in my life.  I can’t even self-propel much because my wrists & shoulders partially dislocate & cause a lot of pain.  I have to be pushed, so even less independence.  I’m 34 & it’s hard to be reliant on someone else.

I feel vulnerable & exposed in the wheelchair. People frequently stare, presumably wondering what’s wrong with me & I’ve seen people whispering to each other about me. I know I should just ignore it & not let it bother me, but I feel like I’m suddenly so different to the “norm”, that I’m a sideshow. I know it’s silly but it triggers my social phobia quite a lot & makes me feel anxious. Thankfully I feel reasonably safe because my OH is with me & he would protect me fiercely if necessary, but I definitely don’t feel comfortable. I’m hoping it gets easier in time. Feeling vulnerable is very triggering for me, reminding me of how I felt growing up.

It’s such bloody hard work too. For some reason people seem to find me invisible, trying to walk through me as if I were invisible – I’ve had a few folk nearly end up in my lap! Others cut in front forcing my OH to come to an abrupt stop & me to nearly fall out the chair (I should wear the belt!). Edinburgh has three times its usual population at the moment due to the Edinburgh Festival & the crowds are an absolute nightmare. It really is like the Zombie Apocalypse has hit Edinburgh, you can barely move for people. That’s stressful enough as an able bodied person but as a wheelchair user it’s extremely intimidating as well as physically very challenging to get through. And people always try & shove in front of us or won’t let us through. I try to be polite & pleasant to people but sometimes I get really annoyed at them.

The biggest difficulty I’m having being a new wheelchair user is my OH is totally stressed out by it & hates it with a vengeance. He gets anxious & angry about the crowds, about crossing roads where the crossing doesn’t give enough time, about potholes & broken paving slabs, about sloping pavements that cause me to nearly tip into the road or into a parked car. He is fiercely protective of me & worries constantly that someone or something is going to cause me to get hurt. He says he dreads it each day we go out. He finds it incredibly hard to cope with the way people can be so ignorant & this has lead to him shouting at a few people which isn’t so good. He has depression & anxiety & social phobia, so all of this is extraordinarily challenging for him. He admitted to me that he also finds it embarrassing; not me but the chair itself makes him feel self-conscious, which is something that distresses him a lot. I have to admit I got quite upset at this, asking him what the heck I’m meant to do, not go out? He assured me that he loves that I can get out with him, he just isn’t coping with the wheelchair itself. He said the other night that he was sick of it, that the wheelchair was “taking over”.

I don’t know what I can do to make things less stressful for him, short of becoming housebound again, which is not an option. I don’t want him to feel sick with dread, to feel overwhelmed with anxiety, to be so stressed out. I would do anything to change things, to be able to walk again, but things are what they are. I’ve told him that he has to find a way to stay calm, for his own sake (& for the sake of the general public’s shins & ankles!!) or he’ll make himself ill over it. His difficulties with it have triggered me a lot, causing me to feel like a burden, to feel extremely guilty for being so dependent on him & to feel unworthy of help. I know in my heart that he does not mean to hurt me, he has told me as much time & time again, but he’ll blurt out a negative comment about the chair & we’re back to square one. I am hoping that when the Festival ends at the end of the month, the city will go back to normal – in fact it’s usually pretty dead post Festival – & at that point we’ll both be able to adjust & move forward, literally & metaphorically.In the meantime I’ll do my best to get us both focusing on the positives of seeing shows, of being out together.

First Post


So here I am, *finally* starting a blog after talking about it for long enough. Now I’m here I don’t quite know where to start. There’s so much to say, it’s overwhelming. I’m used to keeping it all in, to pretending I’m fine. I read other people’s blogs & they always seem to put it so much better than I ever could, sometimes it feels like they’ve read my mind. For long enough I’ve told myself I have nothing to say that’s of any importance. But then I remind myself that everyone’s experiences are unique, that everyone’s voice is unique. The truth is we all have something to offer, something to share, something that might even make a difference to someone else, perhaps giving them comfort or helping them to see they’re not alone. I suppose that’s probably my main aim here, other than to finally get some of this stuff out in the open, to take my own power back. And I’ve been silent for so long. My OH is always telling me that writing about my story will not just help me but also those who have also suffered abuse. I’m not sure at this point but I suppose I won’t know till I try.

I’d love to say this will be a positive, inspiring story but it’s just not that simple. I survived horrific abuse against all the odds but it ripped my life, my self, apart.  I am still dealing with the fallout & right now I suspect that perhaps that will always be the case. I honestly don’t know if I will ever *get over it*. Maybe the best I can hope for is to make some sort of peace with their past, where it doesn’t intrude on my life every day. I sure don’t have the answers.  When I’m in a good place I totally believe that it’s possible to heal, although I have no idea how. I desperately wish I could say in all honesty that healing is always possible but I’ve been dealing with this for 14 years & I don’t feel like I’ve moved on anywhere near as much as I had expected. I thought my life would be back together by now, that I’d be “normal” with a regular life, a career, friends, a social life.. all that good stuff. Instead I spend most of my time housebound (also due to physical health problems to be fair), watching the world & my life pass me by.  If I sound bitter it’s because I am a bit.  I feel like for every two steps forward I get dragged back ten steps!

But here I am, turning up. People say that’s what counts. I’m determined to fight on, even when it’s incredibly hard & painful. I am *not* going to let my past or my health problems be all that defines me. I will not let the people who’ve hurt me, win.  No way, no how.  Somehow I will find a way out of this quicksand that I’m in.