Posts Tagged 'Finances'

Once upon a time…

Note: This post was going to be submitted for the Carnival Against Child Abuse, but it became more about trying to peel off another layer of scar material that was caused by the marriage.  It could be triggering, please read with care.

There was once a little girl who got hurt by the people who should have taken care of her.  This experience taught her about keeping secrets, packing the bad things into containers inside her head and to forget about most of the bad things altogether.  She became good at playing the parts and emotions that were acceptable to those around her.  Compartmentalisation and dissociation became her way of life.

As this girl grew, the dissociative walls became higher and more entrenched.  Her core beliefs were that she was a nuisance, stupid and ugly.  But she wasn’t a victim.  Oh no, she knew that bad stuff had happened, but she believed that it happened to every little girl, and no one else seemed to be complaining.  So when the girl became a woman and met a nice man, she didn’t tell him about the bad stuff; instead she listened to his stories of being abused by his sister when he was a boy.  She didn’t understand how that could have happened to this seemingly big, strong man.  It made him cry and she comforted him.

So began, what would become 8 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse for that woman – us.

In many ways, the man came into the relationship more honest and open than we did.  He said he’d been abused, we didn’t. We got so caught up in his past that we didn’t say anything about ours – we didn’t really consider it that bad or worthy of talking about anyway.  Abuse was what we had come to expect.  So when he raped us for the first time, we dissociated it away and considered it normal.  Besides, he was good to us – he gave us flowers, cooked for us and treated us with a form of delicate care (when in front of other people) we’d never experienced before.

A pattern developed over time, he would have a crisis of some sort and we would save him.  He needed us to be strong, so we were.  We were hardly innocent within this scenario.  The woman at work used to feel sorry for him as we appeared to pick on him and order him around.  I can understand why they would get this impression – he needed to be saved and we needed to be a saviour.  The weaker he became within his work and mental health, the stronger we had to be, and the more he would abuse us when no one was looking.  The strength we showed to the world was one of us organising our world to gain some control.  When we got behind closed doors there would be a dissociative switch to one who enjoyed the pain that he inflicted sexually and physically.  He became good at triggering our switches, so we built the walls inside our internal house higher and stronger.

About four years into the relationship, we were in a side impact car accident.  We sustained a mild concussion.  In that one instant, our lives changed forever. Our coping mechanisms fell apart.  Suddenly we were weak.  Suddenly he had to be strong, but he wasn’t able.

He had been intermittently seeing different therapists over the years, but had never seen one for more than three sessions.  They were always useless or changing their fees or playing games…   We realised we were in trouble and started counselling again.  He began to self-injure, often in front of us or because of us.  He was fired from his job for assaulting a supervisor.  We tried to be strong, but were slowly falling apart.

He got a job as a security officer – a job where he could “get some respect”.  We also changed jobs.  But nothing fixed the things that were happening in each of our heads or in that house.  We were two people who had serious mental health issues crashing into each other.  We became suicidal and were regularly assessed for danger, always to be released back into the care of the strong man who was now our husband.

On the 9th of February 2008, we attempted suicide.  It wasn’t our most serious attempt, but it landed us in A&E and then the secure psychiatric ward.  On the 10th of February 2008, the strong man took us home.  What followed is blurry, but I know M made a smart arse remark to him about how he needed to grow up.  He then showed us how strong he was by trying to kill us.  His level of violence scared him and he called our mother, screaming that he’d done it this time and it was all over.  The mother thought he’d killed us.  When she talked to us, she asked if we wanted someone to come up to be with us.  Sophie said “yes”.  With our family there, he couldn’t cope with what had happened, so left the house on the 14th of February 2008.

Looking back, I can see how our different issues collided to cause what happened.  If he’d married someone who wasn’t dissociative, this probably wouldn’t have happened.  We were so conditioned for abuse, if it hadn’t been him, it would’ve been someone very similar.  Could we have ever made it work?  I doubt it.  He was not interested in healing.  He paid lip-service to therapy, but wasn’t prepared to invest the time and energy.  I was too defensive and in deep denial.  I wasn’t prepared to heal myself, instead I was so caught up in his problems that he was all I could see.  My life became about fixing him.  He has refused to attend the court ordered counselling as part of the Protection Order, so I don’t think he’ll ever heal.  I hope he does and proves me wrong…

The following clip is one we did a year ago to try to work through the events surrounding the marriage.  It may trigger.

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Now playing: Powderfinger – Sunsets (acoustic)
via FoxyTunes

ACC mediation

Today was the ACC mediation appointment.  It was an interesting experience…

  1. Don’t assume that because the representatives of ACC are ringing in for the mediation, that it will be any less stressful than seeing them in the flesh – it won’t be.
  2. If you’re a mediator for a sensitive claim, DON’T try to reassuringly touch the claimants arm if she is stressed.  This will have the side effect of causing the claimant to “freak” and nearly bring the mediation to an early closure (about 10 mins in).
  3. Ensure that if you are the claimant in an ACC mediation process, that you have a kick arse advocate!  We have a kick arse advocate :)
  4. If you’re the ACC representative, don’t disclose that a request for a full copy of the claimant’s file was not followed – it will annoy her no end and cause a dissociative switch.
  5. If you’re the ACC representative, DON’T call into question the assessors and peer reviewers credentials – it doesn’t make the process look all that equitable or transparent.
  6. If you’re the ACC representative, DON’T say that the peer reviewer who slashed the claimants entitlements “wrote the book” on the assessing guidelines – especially when the guidelines are actually written by the American Medical Association…  The big clue about this one is on the title page of the guidelines :)
  7. If you’re a mediator for ACC and are alone in the room with the claimant, don’t talk about your Lemon De-tox diet – she really doesn’t care.  Although it was a good attempt at trying to make a hellish situation a little more bearable…
  8. If you’re the claimant, try not to self-injure while in the middle of mediation.  OK so it was only scratching, but it’s not a good look!
  9. If you’re the mediator, DON’T ask at the end of the mediation if the claimant really works full-time with a rather stunned look on your face – it really made us feel really inadequate that we couldn’t keep it together for the two hour meeting.

Mediation over!  We just have to write up our full abuse history, detail why we are such a mess in our daily functioning and try to explain DID as a support function which allows us to work full-time…  So… like… yeah… like a piece of cake really!

We then have the prospect of having to do another assessment if they still don’t change their entitlement allocations significantly…  Are we having fun yet?

Damaged

To put this post into context, we’re VERY detached and withdrawn from everything at the moment.

Next week we have a mediation meeting with ACC regarding our Independent Allowance.  As we have no support person, we’re going to have to go to the meeting alone.  Our advocate lives in another town and can’t get here for the meeting due to flights not being available – he’s going to attend via phone.  I’m pretty sure that the stress of this meeting is one of the reasons we’re so detached at the moment.  We find it amusing that ACC recommend that you take a support person to these meetings, but when you tell them that you trust people so little that you don’t have a support network they don’t seem to understand…

This is possibly the biggest problem we have, we just don’t understand what it is like to live in any other way that what we currently experience.  We have no idea what it is like to openly smile at someone and trust that they won’t hurt you.  It is also difficult for people who haven’t been hurt, to understand what it is like to live with this instinctive distrust.  This is obvious in the meanings we attach to words – which seem so different to what those around us consider those words to mean.  An easy example is the term “support network” – the potential therapist asked us who was in our support network was, we said “no-one”.  She then asked us if we interacted with people at work – of course we do, if we didn’t it would be impossible to stay invisible.  She considered this to be a support network.  But our cynical friend isn’t our support network, we’re hers.  We can’t tell her our problems – she’s got enough things on her plate without us telling her about our problems.  Also, talking about what we’re going through really isn’t appropriate in a work situation.

So we’re damaged and isolated.  This can be a dangerous mix.  Today we went to take some rubbish to the refuse station.  On the way there we were targeted by some boy racers who threw insults, finger gestures etc at us.  Sometimes this sort of confrontation will trigger a switch to a compliant scared one who cowers and tries to escape; sometimes it will trigger a switch to one who is extremely confident and the change in body language often will stop the potential confrontation.  Today it was different; today the trigger switch went from the compliant Sophie, to one who wanted to urge them on.  They wanted to be beaten up, they wanted to tell those boys that whatever they did to this body it was nothing, the only way they could do anything worse was to kill us, and she welcomed it.  After they drove off, the switch to M occurred.  M was not impressed.

We know we’re in trouble again.  We’re now just waiting out until after the ACC mediation meeting.

When will life be more than lurching from one anniversary or bad thing to another?  The potential therapist asked us if we wanted to move on from just surviving – we told her we wanted to move beyond just existing.  Yes, we know that’s being very melodramatic.

Amusing side of time loss & memory issues

Last month we signed up for a calling plan that would save us money on our toll calls.  Due to a couple of mis-understandings between us and our toll provider we were facing a rather large phone bill for the December period –  causing more than just a bit of panic.

In an attempt to sort it out, M sent a couple of polite and then a couple of more blunt emails to the customer service department.  The end result is that she got about $200 refunded on the telephone bill.

However, in the meantime C rang the toll provider and talked to another part of their customer service team.  She explained the situation and mentioned things along the lines of wanting to talk to supervisors etc.  The end result is that she got about $80 refunded on the telephone bill.

So from a bill that was looking at being about twice what we usually pay, we’ve gone down to paying about $60 less than usual :)

Neither M nor C knew that they were both trying to sort out the same mess – M is more comfortable communicating via email, and C prefers the telephone (so that the other person can feel the lashes of her rather sarcastic tone).  End result – we’re better off financially.

If only all the time loss and memory issues could be this financially beneficial and amusing – well it was amusing for me as I knew what both of them were doing.  My excuse for not stopping one of them is I wanted to see if either of them were successful – and OK the sheer fun of watching them was pretty good too.


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