Journey of self-discovery…..Part 2

Since writing my previous post about my journey of self discovery more memories have cropped up that my brain had obviously filed away to protect me.

Since starting my new life I often wear a bit of make up just to make me feel good about myself, this is something I rarely wore before. I remembered how after having my 2nd daughter I wanted to treat myself so I could feel a bit more like me. So I booked a makeover with No7 (always been a No7 girl!) and decided that I would treat myself (which was incredibly rare for me – partly as I hardly had access to any money and partly as I was strongly discouraged to buy myself anything).

After enjoying my makeover and feeling good about myself, I took my new makeup home, hoping that my new look would be met with positivity. How wrong and naive was I? I went from cloud 9 to feeling like something you’ve just walked in, in the space of a few seconds of walking through the door. The comments made by my ex where very hurtful, safe to say she didn’t approve of my new look. After that, I didn’t use the makeup again until I left.

I also decided to go and have my hair cut having only been to the hairdressers 2 or 3 times in 10 years! My ex used to cut my hair, not because she was a hairdresser but because that’s the way it was. I thoroughly enjoyed going to the hairdressers, I felt pampered and enjoyed flicking through a few magazines with my drink and a piece of cake and went home again feeling like a new woman…..I bet you know what’s coming…..yep….déjà vu!! My new haircut did not go down well – I’d only had a trim, slight style and a few subtle highlights put in but hey….I was put down before I’d even taken my coat off.

I was in need of some new clothes after giving birth but couldn’t afford any so rather than being given some money (bearing in mind she was working full time on a fairly good salary) or being ‘allowed’ to choose some clothes myself, she went out unbeknown to me and bought me some clothes. Now you might be thinking that was nice of her. However, absolutely everything she bought was massively too big for me and what she bought was nothing like I would normally wear nor suggested I would want to wear. Despite everything being far too big and not liking anything, I was expected to wear them and be eternally grateful. Which of course I was, in order to keep the peace.

People have asked what finally made me leave and why I didn’t leave sooner. I remember my midwife and GP on numerous occasions insisting that I got back in the car with my daughter and just drove to my Mums and not to return. Whatever stopped me stopped me, I can’t change the past. I feel ashamed and saddened I didn’t leave sooner but at least I did. I first told her I intended to leave 4 months before I eventually did but I was firmly told I wasn’t allowed to leave and threatened with a multitude of horrible things that would happen if I did. I then tried again another 2 times before finally leaving. It was only because I was so ill and having daily panic attacks, walking on egg shells and feeling sick every time she came home or came near me that I knew I had to leave or I would have no doubt ended up in hospital.

Sitting here now, as either the new me or the me that had been hidden away, I can not believe that I allowed myself to sleep on the floor downstairs from the day my youngest daughter was born until I left (7 months in total) and because I was breast feeding, my daughter also had to sleep on the floor with me whilst my ex slept upstairs in our bed on her own. Makes me emotional thinking about it and that I wasn’t strong enough to leave or do something about it sooner.

This is where I am going to share something that I haven’t shared with anyone other than my counsellor. I ask you to not make judgement. The reason I am sharing it is because maybe it will resonate with others, maybe people will open their eyes and realise that motherhood isn’t always picture perfect. Obviously it was my choice to go through fertility treatment and I used my savings to pay for it. So both my daughters were 100% wanted by me, however, …..because of how bad things were at the time, because I feared not being able to cope if things carried on or the idea of being on my own with 2 little ones. Not long after falling pregnant the second time, I had a few days where I questioned if I should carry on with the pregnancy or not. This quickly faded, but I was scared. It had been drilled into me that if I had another child it would destroy our marriage. Having been through my parents splitting up as a child and how it massively impacted on my life, I didn’t want to do this to my children, so at that moment in time I was willing to do anything to save it.

However, from falling pregnant with my youngest daughter things got a whole lot worse in our relationship. My ex did not come to any midwife appointment or any hospital scan, she wasn’t there when I found out I was pregnant, when I went for the 6 week scan and saw the heartbeat for the first time (instead my Mum drove 70 miles to be with me), I went to the 12 week scan on my own and then for the 20 week scan my Mum came with me. My Mum was there when I had tears of joy trickling down my face when I was told I was having a girl.

I didn’t enjoy this pregnancy as I felt I was doing everything on my own and she wasn’t excited or bothered this time around. In fact I stopped talking about the pregnancy with her, I couldn’t tell her if I wasn’t feeling well or if I was tired, I suffered with very low blood pressure and fainting spells this time around which I was told was due to stress.

I have just had a flashback from my eldest daughters first Christmas….sorry I am having a moment….I didn’t expect to get so upset….anyway here goes.

On that Christmas Eve I wasn’t feeling too good and just put it down to early pregnancy, however for the next 24 hours I couldn’t keep any food or fluids down, became weak, unable to get out of bed and felt I should get some advice. By now it was Christmas Day, I hadn’t even seen my daughter and my ex hadn’t been to see if I was OK. So I decided it was better to be safe and sorry and I rang 111. After speaking with a doctor I was advised to go to my nearest hospital so they could check me over and do some checks. I knew I wasn’t able to drive and my ex refused to take me so I had no choice but to ring her parents and beg them to take me.

Still unable to keep anything down and feeling so weak I had to somehow drag myself out of bed, put some clean clothes on and get myself downstairs and into the car. After being checked out at the hospital I was told that I was suffering with hyperemesis and that I had ketones in my urine. They wanted to admit me to monitor me but I couldn’t leave my eldest daughter especially not on Christmas day so I went back home with some medication and crawled back into bed, feeling incredibly guilty that my daughters first Christmas just wasn’t going to happen that day. At this point my ex still didn’t come to see me, check how I was or ask if the baby was OK.

The best parts of my pregnancy where feeling my little girl move and being able to see my midwife (I was lucky enough to have the same one from my first pregnancy).

When I was approaching 38 weeks pregnant my little one decided to stop letting me know she was OK so I went in to get checked. It was decided that I should be induced the next day. After being induced with my first pregnancy this isn’t the news I wanted to hear. Obviously the most important thing is that they come into the world in one piece but I craved being able to go into labour naturally and also wanted a water birth – neither of which were meant to be.

However my room was air conditioned and we were going through a heat wave I was loving it being so cold! I had the most amazing midwife and she made my experience an incredibly happy one. I spent hours bobbing on a yoga ball trying to get things going and I was enjoying myself, particularly when I had the odd puff of gas and air!! Best thing ever!!! It makes you feel high so I had to be careful not to have too much otherwise I knew I’d be out of it!

Once things got going, my midwife didn’t leave my side the entire time. When my daughter came into the world she made her presence heard and we all knew her lungs were working! Just like her Mummy she came into the world hungry!!

Pregnancy and becoming a Mum is painted as this wonderful picture perfect time and it can be, however, my youngest daughter was very needy and spent most of the first 6 months of her life clung to me. She got very upset when she was put down, when she wasn’t being swaddled and when she wasn’t with me. I ended up having to do pretty much everything with her – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I couldn’t ever even go to the toilet without her in her sling otherwise she would scream the house down. At times I found this difficult especially as I didn’t get chance to have a break at all.

At the time you can’t imagine a time when it will change but fortunately once my daughter was able to sit and start exploring for herself she became a little less clingy. Bizarre really as if you met her now you wouldn’t imagine I was talking about the same child. She is incredibly feisty, cheeky, independent, has no fear but still loves cuddles!! (I have been told that she takes after me, I couldn’t see it to begin with but the more I see of my true self the more I think they may be right!!).

Heading in the right direction…..

I am starting to change habits of a lifetime for example until recently I had kept all my clothes most of which I had had for at least 10 years despite them being 3 sizes too big for me as I didn’t feel I could justify parting with them or buying new clothes. Even worse with shoes as my feet size obviously hasn’t changed but again I’ve had all my shoes for at least 10 years, despite my taste changing and the fact they remind me of the past, so I decided to treat myself to some new shoes…its only taken me 2 years!!

I’ve wanted to put some semi-permanent purple streaks through my hair for years but it wasn’t allowed…well that’s about to change!! I have decided to have a go at putting some in myself!! (Think I’m rebelling after all these years!)

I sometimes find it hard when people tell me I have been brave or say well done, as if I have just climbed a mountain or some other achievement but I am starting to realise that maybe they are right, maybe I was brave. I know there have been times were I have felt it may have been ‘easier’ in some ways to have stayed. I wouldn’t have been taken to court, had to give police statements about the abuse, be living on benefits, be on my own etc. but I would still be living in a shell, not seeing anyone, not having any friends, not being able to do anything and with no prospect of that ever changing.

I realise that I owe it to my girls but more importantly to myself to allow myself to be me and to live my life.

I am no longer that puppet on a string, I am me!

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