Primed for Abuse

Here’s the thing. I have a bit of a track record for falling in love with abusive men.

I’m vulnerable, sure.

An easy target and “primed for abuse”, as they say.

But why?

What makes me so vulnerable?

I’m pretty fucking sure a messed up upbringing might have something to do with it.

Here goes…

My upbringing was profoundly oppressive – thanks to both parents – and living in the Middle East.

I am the only daughter to an Iranian man and a Scottish woman.

My father is the typical “Middle Eastern Father” stereotype, moody, unable to show affection, over protective, controlling and impossible to please.

The only time my father made eye contact with me was when he was lashing out at me.

He is a complex man. All the ways he primed me for abuse is a struggle for me to put it into words at the moment.

So for now I’ll say that he taught me to accept the “darker” side of masculinity.

The result of having a father like him is that I am mainly attracted to men that really, fucking scare me.

Moving on!

My mother was brought up by her militant, catholic grandmother.

She is neurotic, self-loathing, completely oblivious to her own internalised misogyny. The head-fuckery which she was proud to pass on to me as her “teachings” – so that one day I might become a good wife.

My mother has all kinds of mental illnesses that moulded me to who I am today.

The stories about her are disturbing and I am building up the courage to share them one day.

I digress.

Some of the things she taught me were things like – all men are evil and that woman-hood is nothing but suffering.

As a result of having a mother like her I feel worthless, ugly, fat, unlovable and a failure as a woman.

As well as being controlled and abused by both parents, I grew up as a second class citizen.

I lived in the Islamic Republic of Iran for 7 years, from the age of 12 to 19 years old and the experience for me, a teenage girl was totally unbearable.

I could write endlessly about the injustices for women and girls living in Iran, and I will get round to it…

(Spoiler: I ran away from home, got back to to the UK and was homeless for a while)

I know there are people who are far worse off than me…but looking at the shitty cards I was dealt, it’s obvious that I never stood a chance in love and relationships.

I lost the game before it even started – right?

Sleep walking to addiction

Over the last few weeks I have spent most evenings under the influence of alcohol. I haven’t been able to sleep without it.

It all started when I got some news about changes at work, which was isn’t the end of the world but destabilising – so I started using alcohol as a coping mechanism

I hate myself for it.

I am a social drinker and alcohol was never a coping mechanism for me in the past.

I come from a family of alcoholics on my mums side, so my relationship with alcohol is messed up. I actually hate it and I hate myself for needing it to cope right now.

Part of the distress I am going through is feeling that I’m not in control and at the same time my brain trying to rationalise WHY I have I started using it now.

I normally drink craft beer or pale ale and now I’m on the Gin & Tonic of all things. I don’t even really like Gin but this fancy flavoured stuff is so damn strong at 40% alc.vol – it gets me where I need to be in a *very* short space of time.

I’m trying to justify it to myself – like, I am struggling to sleep and alcohol makes me sleepy quite quickly, and I feel a million times better if I’ve had a proper nights sleep.

How the fuck has piece of news like this sent me spiralling again?

It’s because I’m still very fragile.

I mean, I know that a big change at work is destabilising for anyone – and of course something like this will cause me a bit of an autistic meltdown.

Is my fragility (PTSD) an explanation for taking alcohol as a coping mechanism?

I’m thinking back to my relationship with my abuser and how his drug and alcohol addiction affected me.

He would drink every night and I ended up drinking with him. I was only having a couple of beers but I was drinking just because he was. I was able to nip it in the bud.

But I’m also remembering the drug addiction part. Like, how he would torment me and then administer Xanax to calm me down. Xanax isn’t prescribed in the UK and he bought them illegally from the dark web.

Needless to say, I was dependent on his supply and this was one of the ways he had control over me.

The physical withdrawals coming off the Xanax were insane. The only thing that got me through it was knowing that for as long as I was dependent on the Xanax then I wouldn’t be able to leave him.

Anyways, back to now…I was doing so well but I’m back in that place struggling to sleep without alcohol or drugs.

I wanted a break off the booze so the last couple of nights I drugged myself to sleep with a cocktail of diazepam, phenegram and propranolol.

Believe it or not, the drug cocktail has made the whites of my eyes really white, which is amazing.

I feel so rested but I need to keep the drugs for emergencies.

I have half a bottle of fancy Gin (43%) in the fridge.

I know I’m sleep walking to addiction if I keep going like this but I don’t know how to break out of it.

No strings attached

I’m starting to feel more comfortable with intimacy and sexual contact. I discovered this earlier this summer, after a lovely weekend away with a very attractive male friend.

To give you a bit of background about my friend, we met on Tinder a few years back. Our friendship was never platonic but it was never romantic either. One thing is for sure it has been entirely uncomplicated from the beginning.

I like uncomplicated.

There is comfort in knowing we can enjoy each others company, and then go our separate ways. It could be months before we make contact again and this how we like it.

I consider this weekend away, a major milestone in my recovery from domestic abuse, but I have ways to go yet.

I’m still incredibly tetchy around men. So much so that on the drive to meet him I found myself catastrophising and getting anxious, but it was fine. He was an absolute gentleman and we had a lovely time.

But I still have ZERO self-confidence at the moment.

My abusive relationship ended in February, just 6 months ago and it still feels like yesterday. As a result of the abuse I’m struggling with PTSD (chronic anxiety, inability to sleep, etc.), and severe self-esteem issues.

I know I need to cut myself some slack but I feel really shit about myself right now. My old hang ups about things like body image are now tenfold.

I feel utterly undesirable and unlovable.

On top of this I have discovered all kinds of new baggage that I didn’t have before. Baggage that is causing me to arrange a “first date” with someone from a dating site and then cancel it at the very last minute.

Right now I have ZERO faith that I’ll ever be happy in a loving relationship.

I need to be brave now. I’m trying to be brave.

I have identified that I have unhealthy coping and avoidance mechanisms, where I deny myself physical contact.

I’ve taken a bold step and I’m trying not to shut myself away from the world. I’m trying to be more sociable but it’s so hard.

Im finding that spending time with people, even friends – is either boring or emotionally exhausting.

All things considered I know it will be sometime before I can embrace a new relationship – but I can take baby steps.

I am taking baby steps.

My weekend away has shown me that maybe I should start “seeing” someone regularly, BUT there are so many caveats to this.

First of all it would need to be very clear that I would not be looking for anything serious right now.

In my case of being Autistic, having PTSD and recovering from an abusive relationship – I think I’m asking for too much.

He needs to be laid back, reliable and predictable. I need to be in control of the pace and he can’t make and any emotional or sexual demands from me.

So, last weekend was major milestone in my recovery – but I still have ways to go when it comes to intimacy and relationships.

I feel like I’m drowning again

Im having a PTSD episode as I write this. I don’t know what happened. I was doing so well but but the last three days have been awful.

The most visible physical symptom is that I’m crying all the time.

I’m having waves of anxiety where it’s hard to breathe and it feels like my heart is going to explode.

I’ve just messaged my friend (my guardian angel). I hate worrying him, he’s stressed enough as it is as he is touring at the moment and it’s been a rough one for him.

He’s going to ring me back in an hour or so. I just have to wait.

Breathe.

Calm down.

He’s just sent me a link to a song On YouTube, Lola by the Kinks , because we would listen to that song when we were sixteen and it always makes me smile.

I’m calming down a little bit but the tears are still streaming down my face as I write. I don’t think it’s helping but I’m going to keep writing.

I look over to my little man, Leo who is sleeping beside me on the sofa. He’s making funny noises and I think he’s having a nightmare.

Apart from Leo and I, the house is empty.

As I sit here weeping uncontrollably, I’m recognising that yes I have PTSD but I’m also depressed and feeling so alone right now. I wish I had a boyfriend who loves me and cares for me.

I want to be in love with someone with the security that nothing bad is going to happen.

I want to feel safe but I’m asking too much because for me, feeling safe is to be in a loving relationship. Maybe this is part of my Iranian upbringing but I want to be held every night, to feel cherished and looked after by a man who loves me, and I love him back.

All I feel now is emotional turmoil, anguish and heart ache from what is missing from my life.

What’s worse is the that deep down I think I’m going to be alone forever.

I’m remortgaging my house to pay for cosmetic work to be done on my teeth and face. Im doing this because the last time I was in a committed relationship, I was made to feel like I was ugly and worthless.

If I’m honest, I really don’t think I will ever find what I’m looking for. I’ll never be truly happy and in love.

I can distract myself with appointments and forking out to fix my teeth and my face. I can lose more weight and feel prettier than I do right now but what does it matter?

I’ve been broken far too many times.

I’m damaged beyond repair.

Under Pressure

The creepy mug has been retired and I bought a new one.

I was on a date last night. It went well but I am pretty sure I was crap company because of how tired I was. I am under a lot of pressure at work. Aside from the tiredness, I found myself talking shop a few times and I made myself cringe.

For me, this entire month of May will be one of the busiest and most tiring months. But this was by design and I don’t deserve any sympathy.

I did it to myself.

I am heading up a number of high profile technology projects that involve changing the way the company operates. There is a lot at stake.

My last 3 years of employment was spent planning what exactly needs to happen this year. I have been engineering and shaping the environment and getting all of my proverbial “ducks in a row”, before being able to start the work.

The project deadlines are aggressive. I will have to drive the projects, lead the people, steer the meetings, manage expectations and argue the toss with other decision makers, every step of the way. This is also by design.

I have a really intelligent boss who is supportive but my team is incomplete. The projects have started but people have jumped ship, so I am still recruiting and adding new people to the team. I have had to take massive risks to keep things moving.

I need to finish what I started and I can’t fuck it up.

I am now in a state of paranoia and obsessing over ways I could fuck things up. I need to find ways to offload some of the pressure and at the very least, not create new problems for myself.

Not fucking up equals working harder.

I need to be prepared to work longer hours and sacrifice my social life. I am asking myself if I should even be dating anyone at the moment. I can only be partially invested in starting a new relationship and don’t know if it is wise to start something that I can’t maintain.

Not fucking up equals staying SAFE, in every sense of the word.

The elephant in the room is my PTSD and whether or not I should even be dating whilst still in recovery from domestic abuse. Can I trust myself to make better decisions and keep myself safe?

Don’t get me wrong – going on dates has been a massive milestone in my recovery journey. I feel much better than I did when I started the blog but I am still a shadow of my former self. I am still scared of men.

These projects have been 3 years in the making but I did not plan to start my projects whilst smack-bang in the middle of the most traumatic phase of my adult life.

Not fucking up equals, being scared but not showing it.

What makes all of this worse is the years of trying to earn credibility at work going down the drain. My boss and many of my colleagues know about the abuse. He made sure of that when he sent an angry email to my colleagues.

They know what he is, that he is known to the police as a danger to women. They also know I was too scared to bring him to justice and I dropped the charges.

Everyone has been supportive but the inevitable consequence of his actions is how they now perceive me.

Knowing what they know, how can they not think that I am damaged and incapable of handling the challenges ahead of us this year.

No wonder my boss has been pissed off with me. I feel like he is concerned and all this is causing him stress. Or was he? Am I just paranoid? I don’t know.

I can’t stop obsessing about this stuff.

I have to be focused. I can’t make mistakes. Everyone is watching me now.

Shit it’s 7pm and I am still at the office.