This extract is from a personal viewpoint of an individual close to Hope Therapy. She has decided to write this article in order to both hopefully heal past wounds by taking on a version of writing therapy and to possibly reach out to someone that may be suffering from the same issues that doesn’t know where to start in finding peace and a way forward. .
My house can be both my sanctuary and my prison, and I am stuck in a halfway position of wanting to break free and have a different way of life and clutching on to this feeling of safety and warmth with all my strength. Is it strength and the warm comforting feeling of the norm, or is it sheer panic and uncertainty about what might be waiting for me out there?
See, I have lived through various traumatic personal events in the past 6 years as a result of a damaging relationship at the hands of a domestic abuser. In these 6 years I became a mum to a beautiful little girl, my one reason for fighting this fight every day, getting up and working hard to provide a life for us both.
Over the past 2 years I have desired to create a new family setting and have a companion, but something just keeps stopping me and I have a niggling feeling that it is underlying trust issues, negativity towards relationships, lack of confidence and perhaps most of all lack of confidence in myself.
I am stuck in a circle of being content at home, just me and my daughter not worrying if I don’t ever have a break from her to be an ‘adult’ on the typical alternate weekends that co-parents often arrange, to experiencing overwhelming feelings of loneliness and worry about being on my own as I get older. We have got so used to the Dad not turning up that we both seem to be relieved – my daughter because she gets to spend the weekend with me and her friends, and me because I don’t have to ‘adult’ and put myself out my comfort zone, and I can just do what I do best, by simply being her mum.
But I am not content. Not truly, once 7.30pm hits and she is in bed the house is oh so quiet and all I have to fill my time is cleaning, working, or mindless TV and neither of those options are hitting the mark anymore. This is when I crave company but yet every potential match I meet I disregard or push away and I just don’t know why.
Is one reason because of my past trauma I am already labeling them with the same controlling/narcissistic sticker? Do I only know how to react to abusive behavior so my mind can’t comprehend and process kindness and affection? Or am I just too used to being on my own I don’t know how to accept someone into my life, and ultimately my daughters?
My daughter’s Dad was abusive before and after her birth and there were many a night I would seek safety in her bedroom…blocking up the door with a chest of drawers as I heard the next beer can open downstairs and me sleeping next to my little girl cuddling her wishing he would stop shouting threats up the stairs, telling me various insults, telling me my daughter thought I was a bad mum (alongside everyone else) and she wanted me to leave her alone and move out. When that door slammed shut in the morning as he left for work, only then would I dare take a breath, as I felt safe once again…well until 5pm rolled around.
It got to a point where it became routine. He starts drinking after work. I camp out in my daughter’s bedroom silently crying as he shouted up…normally when he was going into the kitchen past the stairs to get his next drink. I ventured downstairs once to get a glass of water and go to the toilet, I returned upstairs with a new bruise forming on my arm and a little bit more of my confidence chipped away. I decided it was safer to make dual use of my daughter’s potty…she would use it in the day, and I used it at night. If I didn’t come out of her room until he left for work I was safe. It became routine to take food, drink and a clean potty up each night, I lost a lot of friends during this period. How do you explain to them that you spend every night in your daughter’s room lying on the floor in the dark as you don’t want to wake her up? Endlessly scrolling through social media platforms at others out enjoying meals, or simply sat in their house content.
You may ask why I didn’t call the police or why were social services not involved? Why? Because what was the point? He had a total lack of respect for anyone around him, he ripped people off left right and centre through work, taking deposits and never returning, failing to keep up payments on various financial arrangements, the list goes on. I was embarrassed, he told me he would destroy me and take my daughter away if I called the Police. They would see that I was an unfit mother, that I was unhygienic for using her potty and mentally unstable. I’d like to think I did the very best in shielding her, in her eyes Daddy worked long hours and was shouting at people on the phone for not doing their job, rather than shouting at me.
If there had been more support known to me then maybe I would have. But I was tired, still holding down work, scared and just so unhappy it became the norm. I didn’t want my name to go into the local papers if it came down to court hearings, I wasn’t convinced Police would believe me and I felt I had lost so many friends already that if I came clean I would lose the last few renaming. I truly believed that was my life, I had been dealt these cards and that was that. At that time, and for a while afterwards I didn’t want the police as I kept my daughter safe. I just wanted to be loved, someone to catch me when I was falling.
When he eventually left the house for good I was able to shut the door and let everything out. The months of worry, hurt and panic that left me feeling so very stressed and I could just relax and enjoy my daughter in the lovely home that I had built myself. You might wonder why friends or family didn’t step in? I did such a good job of pushing them all away as I was so ashamed of what I was letting happen that the phone calls, messages and invites slowly dried up. I remember there were more weeks than I care to count that the only adults I would speak to in a whole week were the nursery staff as I dropped my daughter off and picked her up again. Unless you count shop assistants that is.
So fast forward to now. You guessed it, I am on my own 100% a single mum! My daughter is my world, I adore her and more often than not I think I need her more than she needs me. She doesn’t know it but when she hugs me and tells me she loves me it helps to heal those many occasions in the past where I myself wanted to give her abusive Dad the same actions but it was met with either physical or mental abuse.
I desperately want to have a partner. But I just can’t seem to leave the house to meet anyone and spend that crucial time getting to know someone, and I still need to figure out why or how I get through that and allow someone to come into our lives and fulfill that yearning of a family or partnership that I am craving, and deserve.
There is a lot to process and work through which I am starting to unravel and piece history together to try and discover why and how…and ultimately how I resolve these issues that will allow myself to move on. I am keen to know if anyone has been through similar situations? How did you resolve your trauma and move on? Or did you become content with being on your own, or you and your children?
I just don’t know where to start. All I know is that I would like to. Well, I think I would.