Money Matters

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I just received news that the long awaited inheritance is now not far off – and that it is likely to be more than originally anticipated.

I freaked out.  Total meltdown.  Still am.  My brain is frazzled, I’m bouncing all over the show, and not all of it is delight.  A lot of it is anxiety.

While hand combing out knotted fur and rambling (surprisingly therapeutic) I realised that my anxiety with money and the lack thereof didn’t actually begin, as I thought, with Him, my narcissistic ex, but rather in my childhood.

I grew up lower middle class in a family of five – two siblings.  We were fed, we were clothed, we had school books and that adhesive sparkly wrap to make them more interesting than just exercise books.  We had healthy lunches.

We would walk to school, rain or shine, typically a 30 minute walk at a good clip.  Mum would walk to the green grocer to pick up veggies for our lunches, and to the butcher to get meats for our sandwiches.  She tried her hand at growing vegetables, but with her severe depression when I was growing up, it was difficult.  She would trawl op shops for clothing for us.  Once in a while I would get a new top or a new pair of pants, which were always from the cheaper shops.

hated growing because it would mean new shoes, so I would wear the same shoes until my toes were curled in and it was too painful to wear the shoes.  We would drive for 30 minutes to the cheaper shoe shop and Mum would always be fussing over the price of things.  I would always pick the cheapest pair I could walk in.

It took me years before I finally asked to get a bra, and then it was only one.  Once I grew out of that, I would only ever have two bras, and I would wear them until they broke, because I hated shopping with Mum.  We would only ever go to the cheap stores when they were having really good sales.

I understand these are all sensible things to do, but to my growing brain, it was ‘you can’t get money spent on you, we don’t have enough’.  This has been emphasised over and over again in my life by people of great import.  If it weren’t for one of my oldest friends, I wouldn’t have a healthy relationship with money or spending at all.

Compound that with the last 13 years of being in debt with no savings to speak of and barely solvent, as well as, at some stages, barely having enough money to feed myself let alone my animals (they always came first), I have no fucking clue how to be a person with financial security and it scares the shit out of me.

I was gifted with a relatively significant sum when I was with Him from a family member passing.  I paid off my debt, and he insisted on going on holiday overseas and all these expensive things that of course he couldn’t pay for and I had the money so I should pay for them.  It was gone within two months.

I know it’s not going to happen this time, for one thing, I’m not with Him, and for another thing, it’s considerably more, but the fear is still there all the same.  Any sum of money I receive disappears.  POOF!  All gone, with nought but memories and a sour taste in my mouth.  And while intellectually I know it’s not going to happen this time, there is still the overwhelming terror of it all just disappearing.

And of the unknown, this mythical financial security thing that, at 33, I have never felt like I have had.  Even the idea of it is scary.  What do I do with myself?  How to I live without the looming fear of debt, the worry over whether or not I can afford to buy cat food this week?  How do I live if not paycheck to paycheck?

This is entirely new and terrifying territory.  Because I know I am overwhelmed and can’t process this information myself, I will book an appointment with my counsellor for the extra help.  There’s a lot going on here, and this should be an amazing and exciting thing, but it’s not.

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

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Well.  What a decade this has been.

I moved country.  Twice.  With a lot of animals.  I was married.  I was separated.  I am not yet divorced, but hey that’s coming this year.  I got more animals.  I moved city to pursue the career of my dreams.  I gained a weird older brother in my flatmate.  I met some truly amazing humans through my university course.  I met one of my truest and best friends to date through fandoms.  I met, and fell in love with, my amazing human bean.

I had a breakdown.  I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I built myself back up.  I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia.  I built myself back up.  I got rid of more narcissists on the way.

All throughout I was supported by the most amazing, kind, generous, loving and supportive humans I could ever have been blessed with.  My parents, for whom without which I could not have even begun my journey into my new career, let alone continued on it.  My nearest and dearest friends who have shouted me road trips and meals and yarn, who have given me hugs and cuddles and lent me their ears to vent and rage and cry.  My amazing human being who has stood beside me through ironing out my quirks, my panic attacks, my depression, my medication trials, my descent into physical disability, who has cooked me nutritious meals, has made spiced hot chocolates when things get tough (“I can’t fix it, but I can make hot chocolate!”), has enthused over anything I have shown interest in …

And then there are my amazing animals, three of which I will not get another decade with, who I cherish more than I can say and who have provided me with company, love, fur, poop, barf, and so many laughs.

This decade has, without a doubt, been the toughest I have lived through yet.  The physical, emotional, and mental toll of fibromyalgia and trigeminal neuralgia can not be understated.  It is brutal and it is every damn day.  And yet I feel very fortunate.  I have learned that the people I am surrounded by have more love than I could ever have imagined, and I feel truly honoured.

I am relieved this decade has, at last, passed.  There are many things I look forward to leaving behind.  While I do not ascribe to this ‘new year, new me’ (or ‘new decade, new me’) thing, I do find it is important to identify a ‘turning point’ so to speak, a point at which you can say ‘this situation did not go past that, and it is done’.  For me, the shift from 2019 to 2020 is that, in terms of freeing myself from narcissists (both romantically, and platonically), and the start of my journey into chronic illness.

Now bring me that horizon.

Nightmares – A Small Setback

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I’ve been having dreams, nightmares, whatever you want to call it, I’ve been having it.  It invariably involves one or the other of my past abusers.

My usual nightmare involves It, the narcissist I was with for the longest, the one who caused the most damage, and my PTSD.  It typically involves him returning, and just assuming that the relationship is back on, and I fake it.  I fake it to hide my relationship with my amazing human being – which is basically what I’m doing now, minus the being in a relationship with him part, and more with him being on the other side of the world (THANK FUCK).

My first abuser was in my dream last night.  Then, later on in the dream, I did what I have always dreaded doing.  I said Its name instead of my amazing human being’s name.

Sometimes, in the awake world, It’s name will be on the tip of my tongue instead of my amazing human’s name.  I don’t speak when that happens.  I have almost been away from him for the same length of time as I was with him, but some scars take longer to heal than others.

All of this has … done something to me.  I feel flat and anxious at the same time.  I don’t want to do anything.  I want to bundle up in a blanket and drink tea and watch Forensic Files.

And unfortunately I can’t today.  Or at least not all day.  I have adulting I must do before I can be an amorphous blob.

The Unseen Scars of Sexual Abuse

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I was sitting down to write about the anxiety of needing to do things all the time when my flatmate began cleaning the oven.  This is a completely normal and expected thing, we have a flat inspection coming up, and we’ve just spent the last few days making sure everything is cleaned and put away.  There’s just one problem: due to a defect in his septum, my flatmate has difficulty breathing and breathes very noisily and often with an open mouth.

That’s fine… for anyone else.  For me, it’s a trigger.

I was sexually abused by my ex’s best friend.  There, I said it.  It’s a hard thing to admit.  There is a lot of shame around it, shame that I did not realise what was happening at the time, that I allowed myself to get into those situations, that I was such a doormat.  I’ve told two friends.  I haven’t told my partner.  It’s not something I am brave enough to be open about yet.

Intellectually I know I am not at fault.  I had been in an intimate relationship with a narcissist for at least a year by that point.  My semblance of self, already weak after the previous narcissist relationship on the back of growing up with a clinically depressed mother and a loving but not really on hand father, was virtually non existent by this point.  I was an undiagnosed aspergers woman, and incredibly vulnerable.  It was not my fault.  It is not my fault.  A predator saw the vulnerability and took advantage.

It’s still hard to talk about.  So I’ll throw the story out to the internet, hiding behind my perceived anonymity (I know full well ‘anonymous’ only goes so far unless you take internet anonymity very seriously).

Our house was the ‘party house’.  We would have parties almost every other week at our house, no matter what house it was we lived in, and that was fine.  We used to do various illicit substances, as one does when one is young – nothing hard, nothing technically addictive, and not often enough to get addicted.  It was the usual fun shit from the raver scene.

And it was, it was super fun.  Until he started taking advantage.

I don’t remember when it first happened, but I do remember which house we were in at the time.  He began to pester me to give me a massage.  And pester, and pester, and pester, until me, being the naive, happily high, aspergers person I am, said okay.  So we went up to the bedroom I shared with my partner, I’d lie face down on the bed, and he’d massage my back.  It was just a massage.

He breathed heavily while he gave it.

This continued at subsequent parties.  He convinced me to take my t-shirt off so he could give me a “better massage” and “you can take your bra off if you like but I understand if you’d rather keep it on”.  I always kept my bra on.  My ex would, every single time, walk into the bedroom to “get something” and stop and pause and say in a high pitched voice (that I only now realise as fake) “I’m totally okay with my best friend massaging my topless girlfriend in my bed”.

Looking back at it I have to believe they were both in on it, because he never left a party to “get something” from our bedroom unless his best friend was giving me a massage.

This continued.  For years.  His best friend would pester me until I gave in and would give me a back massage with creepy heavy breathing.  It wasn’t until the later massages that he would push his erect penis (in his pants) against my arse while giving me a massage and lean down like he wanted to kiss the back of my neck.  Thank fuck he never did.  I stopped letting him give me massages after that one.  It made me sick.

A number of parties later, while completely off his face on booze (he had, and probably still has, an alcohol problem), he grabbed me around the waist and dragged me onto his lap where he immediately started grinding his erect penis (in his pants) against my arse crack with some amount of force.  I got his arms off me and stood up and went off without looking at him and blocked the incident from my memory.

I think he might have stopped after that.  I can’t quite recall.

So now heavy male breathing is a trigger for me to lock up and want to vomit.  Unfortunately for me, my lovely flatmate sometimes triggers this.

At least I have noise cancelling headphones.  I should also look into some really good therapy for this.

The Power of Music

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I’ve been having a bit of a crappy weekend.  Things went, but things never quite went well.  I was tired, technology wasn’t working, there’s too much clutter in the house that I just don’t have the energy or motivation to sort out, and I’m feeling a bit sulky because I feel like I’m the only one who does the dishes.  Which is partly true, and something I’m slowly working on.

I’m supporting a friend through a particularly rough period involving a narcissistic friend, and it’s bringing a lot to the surface because of how we’ve both been abused.

I mistakenly watched “Abducted in Plain Sight” and watched a narcissistic psychopath paedophile seduce the mother, sexually abuse the father, and then horrifically sexually abuse the daughter, all the while abusing and manipulating everyone.

I think my amazing human is a wee bit depressed – he’s holing up a bit.

Then It messaged me.  I just about backflipped.  I was not in a headspace to interact with It at all.  I could feel myself beginning to escalate into an anxiety attack.

I decided I didn’t have time for that and went straight to Youtube where, bless their algorithms, they had We’re All We Need by Above and Beyond on my front page.  After the first 20 seconds of letting the music flow over me, I was in a wonderful state of relaxation (okay, there is probably also a lot of emotional repression going on) and able to manage the less than pleasant interaction.

I’m still a bit antsy, it’s one of those days, but I’m a lot more relaxed than I was.