Monday, April 18, 2022

Hindsight

Emotional abuse is the hardest categorisation of abuse to spot, but to those who have been through it--its easier to recognize. To those who haven't had the displeasure of experiencing it first hand, or even for those who are in denial it can be alot harder to convince someone that you've been through a trumatic abusive cycle. 

One of the most frustrating victim blaming phrases I've come acorss was "If it is so bad, then why didn't you leave before". 

There's a saying from my childhood that got tossed around quite alot "I don't know what I don't know". Stop. Read that again, and let it sink in, cause it's true.  Hindsight is a fickle thing, especially for me. I constantly beat myself up and think 'why didn't i see/realize this before', and the simple fact of the matter is, before I didn't know. I know things now, and it's easy to see, but at the time I was none the wiser. 




The fact if the matter is that I did try to leave my abusive relationship once before. Probably around 2016, when we had a group of 'friends' that were no good for us, I was done. I was ready to pack up and leave back to America and call it quits. 

After an evening out at a Charity Ball, I got very distraught by my abusers' behavior. I sulked alone outside the party cause I didn't feel he or our 'friends' gave a crap about me. I got drunk, got tired of the party and just walked home by myself when I said to him I wasn't having fun and wanted to go home. The cavalier attitude I got in return ignited a rage in me. I locked up the flat for the night, and the next morning proceeded to bag up all his clothes and throw them out the front door. I wanted one of three things at this point and I really didn't care which way it went: I wanted him gone, or i wanted to move back to America, or I'd rather kill myself and save the embarassment of having to move back home and admitting i failed at life. 

In Hindsight, I see that as the first time I tried to end the relationship. But of course, he apologised, said all the right things to get back into my good graces and we were back to being in that honeymoon love phase. Abusers are great at manipulating the cycle back in their favor. 


Over the past few months, whenever any sort of thought has come into my mind in hindsight that could explain things I couldn't see in the relationship at the time, I've been cateloguing them as journal entries on an app. I'd like to share some of them now....


January 16th, 2022

Statements that seem normal if said one or two times, but when they're constant its feels judgemental and controlling. 'You're hands are SO cold.' (Every time i washed my hands in the middle of the night, then came back to bed. If i cuddled or touched him-even on accident or subconsciously-he'd recoil so it felt like constant rejection. I found myself actively trying to warm my hands before i got into bed to please him.) 'You're wearing makeup, you look nice' Or 'You're hair is down. I like you with your hair down' (sounds complementary, but there is an underlying tone of i only like you when you look the way I want you to look.) 'You should [insert physical activity here]' (walk, bike ride, yoga, pole...pushing me to exercise always felt like his priority for me, not mine. Combined with how weight obsessed he was with himself...)



January 28th, 2022
In hindsight im thinking of more and more things that i would or wouldnt do to appease Rob. Some things he would outright tell me what i can or cant do, but most of the time it years of conditioning(aka him expressing his interest or disinterest in stuff i did or said and i subconciously would curb my actions to suit him):

* he didnt like our cat sleeping in the same room as us...so it became habit to shut the bedroom door or lock the cat elsewhere in the house. The same could not be said for dogs-he loves dogs and whenever we looked after his mums dog(slept at her house overnight, lived with her, etc) the door stayed open so the dog could wander in if they wanted to. 
* i got into the habit of wearing old tatteted clothes for years (so long as they fit) and rarely bought anything new for myself because Rob was perpetually buying new clothes for himself and i felt like he obviously needed them more than i did. If i did buy new clothes, i would make sure it was something Rob liked based on opinions hes had on my wardrobe previously.
* at some stage in our relationship i tried to wear more makeup and style my hair down (instead of my default of no makeup and putting my hair in a ponytail) because hes rarely told me I look nice or given me a compliment and it was usually when i sporadically did something with my hair or makeup. Ie: i wouldnt have a hairtie, so id leave my hair down,but Rob said he liked my hair down and so i tried to have it down more.
* whenever we went away, slept in a different bed and even in a new house, he always claimed the side of the bed furthest from the door. I asked him about it one time out of curiosity and found out it had to do with his fear of being closest to the door if an oncoming attacker broke into our room. By default, any attacker would come to my side of the bed first. When i found out i think i made a joke about protecting him, thinking nothing of it at the time, but now im thinking it was more about his self preservation.


Feb 1st, 2022

Thinking back further and further to determine when the emotional abuse all started.... When i miscarried and no support was there....2021 When my dad died and it was just another fun holiday back to California for Rob while the rest of the family grieved...2018 When i was diagnosed with anxiety/depression and started meds....2016 When Lindsey and Greg were our our friends and that made us toxic,almost ending up with me leaving the relationship (the 1st attempt)....2014 When i got my Indefinite leave to remain,and my driving licence.. was doing well in my own job and making my own friends at pole...so i didnt "need" him anymore...2013 When we got Charlie and i was more obsessed over the cat than him....2012 Anytime ever that i did nanowrimo and the attention was taken off of him....2012-2020. The more i think about it, the more i see smiles fading away around the 1-2 year mark in old pictures.... the more i think the relationship started to die in small amounts only a year or two after it started.


Feb 5th, 2022

This morning as i was taking a shower i remembered something. I was thinking about safety measures...how Henry is upstairs with me, the stairgate is locked, Henry cant get into anything dangerous and the door to the bathroom is open in case i hear him get into anything. Since Henry was born, i havent closed the bathroom door for several reasons....one so i can keep an ear out for him, two he can come in if he needs me, and three so he can watch and learn from my behaviors...washing self, going potty, washing hands, etc. Looking at the door i remembered the only time ive ever closed the bathroom door was when i wanted to be by myself and take a bath or something. Usually it would happen when rob and i had a fight, or he upset me in some way and i wanted to be alone. I would go to the bathroom and lock the door so i could be left alone. Somewhere along the way, Rob discovered that he could bypass the deadbold lock by turning the bolt on the outside with a coin to unlock it. He would purposefully "break in" instead of respecting me and giving me my privacy.


Feb 12th, 2022

When we moved into the house, i was semi excited to have neighbors and be a part of a community. Rob expressed that hed rather not have any interaction with people just because hes used to not doing so. his mum is the same that she'd rather live in a country house and not have neighbors and just have herself and her family as company unless she wanted it otherwise. Selective isolation in a way. Rob is somewhat the same way just because hes grown up in country houses and is used to that type of seclusion. However, rob is the type of guy that can chat for england, so when a neighbor would say hi, he would politely turn on the pub bartender charm and keep chatting to appear friendly and approachable. In hindsight i see i started a habit of not chatting, or feeling awkward and anxious about talking with neighbors, with or without rob there, i think because subconciously i knew he didnt want to make friends with the neighbors so i did as much as i can to discourage interaction and when i did interact i felt awkward, almost guilty because i was going against what Rob initially wanted. The only reason i see this now is because i had a conversation with my neighbor Dave a week ago and i was more than happy to keep on chatting freely with him. even though i had henry and had things to do when we got in, i was happy to pass the time cause it didnt feel so awkward. The only difference....its not up to rob if i make good relationships with my neighbors. Cause he doesnt live here.


March 7th, 2022

I remember a time after we moved into this house, that i was coming downstairs from using the bathroom or something and all i could see before i turned the light in the bathroom off was a figure crawling on all fours up the stairs in the dark towards me. I had a full break down, crying tears, scared for my life panic attack. Through sobs i had to steady my breath enough to tell a laughing Rob why that was 100% not okay. How frightened i was, how scary that was for me to see something i couldnt recognize crawling up the stairs in the dim then dark light. He continued to laugh while i cried hysterically and protested that it was just a joke...ligthen up... you could see it was me... why are you so scared... Stop crying.


March 23rd, 2022

I went through a phase when we rented our first flat of wanting to burn incense or have reed diffusers around the house to make it feel relaxed and homely. It made me so happy to do it, until Rob expressed how much he hated it and how it sets off his asthma. Hes mildely asthmatic, but i respected his wishes and packed away all my stuff never to use it again. Its only now that im able to burn scented candles and essential oils that i remembered how much joy it brought me before Rob put a stop to it. 

Another thing was that i had all sorts of jewelry that i had been given over the years, some from ex boyfriends who im still friends with. I cant remember if Rob expressed that he didnt want me wearing them, or if i felt like i was 'cheating' by wearing something an ex gifted me but somewhere along the way i stopped wearing those pieces of jewellery. Ive begun wearing a particular gold ring with a tourmaline crystal in it again, which was a gift from an ex boyfriend and its become a staple of my everyday outfit again. 

Another time, when a friend of mine was visiting, we ended up going into a shop in Gloucester called Spellbound. It has all sorts of witchy stuff, but i took a shine to a little Blue Howlite crystal which was supposed to help with dream recall. Over the years i stopped remembering my dreams and so i thought it was perfect...and even if it was all in my head, the stone was a pretty blue so i bought it. I was so excited and i was telling Rob about the properties of the crystal and how it works. I 'charged' the stone in the moonlight, then put the stone underneath my pillow as instructed. I started slowly to recall my dreams which was nice, but the thing i remember most was that Rob could recall his dreams as well, cause he would tell me about his dreams when he woke up when i told him about mine. I cant remember when it happened, but after using the crystal for a while, Rob kept making snide comments about "i had another bad dream last night. Did you put that thing under you pillow again?" Subsequent comments of how he didnt like it and i was locking it away in a box, never to be used again. Ive only recently gotten this out of storage and started using it again. I know alot of this could be put down to "it was your choice to do [X]" but its the fact that little comments of displeasure/ discomfort/ annoyance... things like this actively influenced my choices. I felt i was being considerate of my partner and listening to what he needed, but in hindsight i feel like i was being bullied into submission indirectly.


April 3rd, 2022

Being afraid of reprimand if i did anything wrong to any of our material possessions. Rob was all about material posessions. The show, the things mattered to his persona. Brand names, the latest model of some tech, increasing value on things he owned so theyd be worth more in the future. For me it was always about living comfortably, not living with the newest shiniest thing to show off. But Rob would. He would yell at the cat for stractching at the carpet in the living room. Eventually, i started yelling at the cat for scratching at the carpet cause it displeased rob. If i spilled some coffee on the sofa, or caught the wing mirror of the car on a hedge, or got a parking fine, or broke a mug while washing up, or Henry broken something/ruined something on accident.... i wouldnt want to tell Rob. I would be afraid of telling him, for fear of being judged. When i eventually did tell him, or he found out about something i did. I would be so overcome with anxiety that i wouldnt be able to get the words out because it would make me cry so much thinking i would upset him.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Emotionally Drawn and Quartered

There's alot I can't say in a public forum yet (divorce proceedings and all that), but I needed to return to this outlet because lately I've felt so emotional that I can't contain it anymore. 

The tradgedy of Empaths is that we feel so intensely and deeply, that it's hard to protect ourselves when that emotion is stored without any way of releasing it. Writting/blogging is one of the ways I release all the built up, undealt with emotions that get stored within me. 


Above is a depiction of the horrendous act of being 'Drawn and Quartered'. Emotionally this is where I'm at. It's the most poetic way I can explain my current state without getting into details--I'm being emotionally drawn and quartered. 

And on top of all the mental, emotional, cerebral loads I carry, I've also been ill the past 6 weeks. (Side note, this has also contributed to the emtional load...thinking that 'oh lord, do I have COVID?' and blowing through all of my lateral flow tests in an almost daily anxiety feuled panic to make sure I don't and that I'm not spreading it to others while I go about my daily life). 

No, I don't have Covid. But for about 3 weeks (without realizing it until it got so bad I sought medical help) I had tonsilitis. 10 days of Antibiotics and I felt better, except I still had a cough, 'Oh well, it must be residual, i should just carry on.' Turns out that although the antibiotics took care of the Tonsilitus, they weren't effective enough to catch a secondary bacterial infection of Sinusitus. I wish I was making this up. I'm not. So, I'm back on antibiotics once again, more widespread ones that can kick it all this time, hopefully.

The reason I'm explaining this, is because as well as having to go through big life descisions and big life changes, my body decides to go on strike and I haven't been able to get a respite between everything I'm going though for quite some time. 

The thing that happens when you get sick is you rest, you get better, but when you're a mom, you are expected to run normally like clockwork despite your body failing you. When I'm not trying to keep up with a tantrumous toddler whist being ill, I'm still trying to manage a household, work for a living, and getting my life shit together. When is there time to rest? When is there time to get better? Never...you just have to carry on. 

So that is where I am at. I'm being pulled in all different directions and without an outlet I'm going to snap into quarters. And now that I've brain dumped....I'm going to sleep, because when I wake, it starts all over again. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

All I want for Christmas is Me

I'm not even sure who I'm writing this for yet, but its come apparent to me that there are people in my wider atmosphere that may not know what has been going on in the life of Jenny Mac. 

The last 6 months have been some of the toughest days of my life and to be completely frank, I have gone through some shit. 

There are people in my day to day life who know all the intimate details effecting my life. Some of my family know, but since ive been so emotionally distraught and overwhelmed this has come all from 2nd hand sources instead of me explaining what im going through. Then there are those who might have seen things ive posted on instagram, which has become my outlet for being heard and bringing awareness of issues to my 'followers'. 

Now I'm not a 'social influencer' by any means, but I like to put into the world what I get out of it. Particularly when it comes to collective knowledge-- meaning if I have living knowledge of something that happens to be a taboo issue I WANT to share it with friends, family, and those I don't even know because someone else might be dealing with similar issues and there is power in knowledge. So I share my personal experiences, not only to get things off my chest, but to help those who might need it. 

[Side Note: I was DMing an old friend of mine who had recently had a baby girl and sharing any sleeping/feeding/mom helping tips I could because I felt the urge to give back to the Universe. Take those things I've learned in my short 2 years of motherhood and give back to someone who needs it. And The thing I will never forget is her saying 'Thank you, I needed to hear that.' So I know it works...sharing experiences and passing on knowledge. It's what helps us grow as a collective.]



        So here's the naked truth:  after 10 years it seems like the marriage I committed myself to is irretrievably broken. After 10 years of making excuses, turning a blind eye and refusing to see the writing on the wall, I have admitted to myself that I have been the survivor of an emotionally abusive relationship.


The strange thing is, that because I wasn't openly being called malicious names all the time and I wasn't at the receiving end of angry verbal abuse or threats...I never copped on to being abused. This kind of abuse was more subtle, manipulative, and in no way less than any other type of domestic abuse, and I see that now. 

I've looked at Women's Aid, googled certain phrases that I've come across in my findings and it shocked me how much these things ran true to my circumstances. I've expressed my findings to friends, to make sure I'm not just making things up and they've observed some of the signs independently because I feel like my partner, my closest companion was gaslighting me (more on that a bit later). I've had several conversations with professionals (social workers, Support workers, GPs, Councillors, etc) where my suspicions have also been confirmed- I've been emotionally abused. 

That knowledge was the hardest thing for me to overcome. 
I've been abused. 
How could I have been abused? 
How could I be so stupid not to see it? 
Am I weak? 
Surely I would have known if I'd been abused. This makes me a useless empath. 
I can't even see what's going on in front of my face.
Maybe I deserve what I got because I was so oblivious to see it.


Luckily I have some amazing friends who help me see the reality of my situation. I am NOT weak. I am a loving, trusting individual who wouldn't expect someone I care about to stab me in the back so heinously. These friends reminded me that I am a strong, confident, independent women. They reminded me that I am better than my weakest points and that I will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes to be born anew, and stronger than before because I've been forged in fire. 

There are a certain group of my friends who have become such a support network to me in the last few years that I no longer even think of them as friends. They are my family. They are the people I trust most in the entire world besides my own blood, who can't always be there for me since they live back in America. 

I think that's something that clued me in first to my circumstances. When the person I trust and love the most in the entire world isn't my marital partner, something is off. I stopped feeling love. I started feeling used--for my body, for my knowledge, for the things I could do for him, for the convenience of being a wife.  

To quote a joke my abuser has said many times, "I don't like you. I like the IDEA of you."

It's those type of encouraging comments that turned my closest friends into my confidents instead of confiding in someone closer to home - like a husband. 

It's the reason I sought refuge with many of my friends throughout this summer and fall. In my darkest days, I couldn't count on the one person I'm supposed to, to be my rock. Instead I made a support network out of my nearest and dearest friends. They have housed me, fed me, lending an ear to my woes, offered solicited advice, distracted me for a time, and taken me and Henry in as if we were flesh and blood. 

I mean, lets be honest it's not hard to love that little man. Even when he has a vacant expression of confusion on his face, everyone he comes in contact with loves him. I pour my heart and soul into caring for that little man and I wish that he could feel the same love from his father, but having experienced what I have, it's all I can do to protect him from any fate I have suffered. I have seen him being blatantly ignored for a mobile device, a TV program, or any other distraction multiple times and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart even when daddy isn't around... the amount of times I see a father and a son playing (on television, in a social setting like a park or soft play centre) and I think "That's it. That is the love I want for my boy."...well, there have been alot of those times. 

I'm grateful to the people I have met who have included my son in play, and treated Henry with the kindness, patience and enthusiasm that I think he deserves. [Another side note: The last time Henry and I went to Play planet there was a dad and his son--probably 4 or 5 ish I'd say--that were rough housing in one of the play areas. The dad saw how shy and tentative Henry was around people (he still is bless him, I blame covid mentality) so he softened and encouraged Henry to play with him and his son--talked to him, tried to include him in the fun. I didn't know this guy. It wasn't creepy. It was kind and my heart swelled that there are good male figures out there for Henry to look up to.]

Henry has become my whole entire world since he was born. I thought that I was loosing myself when I became a mother, but I'm starting to realize now that I may have been manipulated. After Henry was born, I felt a duty to 'get back into fighting form' when it came to my lady bits, and I think I 'gave in' to having sex before I was ready because it's what my husband wanted (to feel loved). I was never 'raped' as such, but i did feel this tremendous amount of pressure daily to be intimate once again. 

It took me months to feel confident enough to give it a go and even then, the first time, and actually quite a few times after that it felt odd, not right, just not what I wanted. But I was doing my duty as a wife to be sensitive to how my husband was feeling neglected after having a baby and so I gave in and put my needs aside for the 'greater good'. 


A fat lot of good that did. And I want to retrospectively kick my subservient ass for being that way.  


Instead of focusing on my own needs and desires I was so focused on those around me. Babies take up most of a new mothers time, then there's the husband feeling neglected.... I completely lost who I was as a person. So, I tried to find my way back....

I started firmly implementing self care. I made sure I had time to myself. And I thought really hard about what makes me happy, what makes me sad, etc. I started to really think about my life and where I could make some changes to have a better life balance. 

I made weekly lists of what things I could do for Henry, for myself, for the marriage to help me focus on balancing my life instead of instantly putting all my energy into one aspect of my life. I wanted to make a conscious effort to respect and give attention to the parts f my life that fell to the wayside after having a child--mostly self love, and the love in my marriage.

That's when I started noticing elements of my life that didn't add up. 

Very slowly, from being in tune with myself, I noticed behaviours' around me that made me feel off. Comments have been said overtime, actions have spoken much louder than words, in fact they've written whole essays about the warning signs that should have been obvious. 

Sometimes they were obvious....to anyone but me. I've spoken to friends who recall the first time they met my husband and being very British, never wanted to say anything about their first impressions before because I was in that 'honeymoon phase' and they didn't want to shatter my perception. I wish they would have, because maybe I would have saved myself years of torment. 


I have realized over time, through thinking back to different points in my life where things might have started to go wrong. It's very difficult to say when the dynamic of the relationship changed because it was subtly slipped in over time, like the Crime Drama Trope of poisoning someone's food for years so it goes undetected but its still effective. Under scrutiny, I've been able to pinpoint some moments in my life here in England where there has been a shift. 


2012 - When we gained new 'Couples' friends who we were really close with, there was a shift from banter to bullying. We picked up on some pretty toxic behaviours and it wasn't until we ended these friendships that we realized how toxic we because in our relationship. I had hoped we moved on from it, but I think this is when the gaslighting began.


2013 - When I gained my Indefinitely Leave to Remain Visa, there was a shift in confidence. I suddenly felt more secure in myself being allowed to live and work in the UK without limitations. Looking back at photos in our first few years of marriage, it seems like there was a definite shift in mood in my abuser too. I can only speculate, but it seems like he might have been unhappy because I was finding my place in the world, where he stayed static. 

2014- When I gained a new hobby (Pole Dancing), there was a shift in how I was treated (either an embarrassment, or a prize, depending on the mood of my abuser). Some days I was treated like the 'hot sexy wife', the prize to be won, the pretty thing put on a pedestal, someone he could brag to his friends about. While other times, it felt like my hobby got disregarded: didn't want to watch my performances, comment on the way I'm dressed, the amount of money I spend on classes, etc 


2016- When I was assessed for anxiety and depression & went on anti-depressants. This was a tipping point. It came from the fall out of the three events above and the way life was after the first few years of marriage, then the floodgates of Major Life Events opened.....

2017- When there was a massive evet that spiked my social anxiety....
2018- When my father died...
2019-When I was pregnant/gave birth...
2020-When a pandemic started....
2021-When I miscarried....

All the way up to now....When I realized that the last 6 years have hit me with one distraction after another to blind me from reality. I probably haven't experienced a healthy marriage since 2012, after the honeymoon phase. It took me having a baby, some self care, some tough love, and a miscarriage during a pandemic to kick off this thought process of looking deep within to find the root of my problems. 

What I do know is that I have been unhappy without realizing it. I am not happy being a doormat for someone to use and abuse just to make themselves and their life feel better. I refuse to accept the abuse any longer and so I am standing up for myself and putting a stop to the abuse. My abuser refuses to see that the behaviour is abusive and continues on as normal. I know that I will not be happy if I live in the same house as my abuser. 

At the start of November, after one of the worst weeks of my life and putting plans in place to safeguard myself, I spoke up to my abuser and expressed that the three days we spent apart were the best I'd felt in a long time and that I'd feel happier separated. That night, he moved in with his mother and Henry and I stayed in the family home. 

I have seen a HUGE improvement in myself. My family, friends and those closest to me have told me how much better, happier, healthier I look and that my mood and demeaner have changed drastically for the better over the past month. I have also noticed subtle differences in Henry and the way he acts when he's at home. Whether that is to do with managing expectations or just a happier mum equalling a happier baby I'll never know, but I can surmise that I have done right by him and I've done right by myself. 


There is a long road ahead of me in rediscovering who 'Jenny' is, but I have come on leaps and bounds already and I cannot wait to actually start living my life. 






To quote some song lyrics (because you know I love a good song lyric) here has been a representation of my roller-coaster of emotions while figuring all this out: 


"When I'm away from you, I'm happier than ever."-Billie Eilish

"I say 'yes' too many times, now it's 'No, No, No'. Told you, I'm no longer under your control. No I'm not the kind of girl I was before. Can't walk over me no more." -Little Mix

"Your love feels so fake. My demands aren't hard to make." -Billie Eilish 

"Tell me how you're sleeping easy. How you're only thinking of yourself. Show me how you justify telling all your lies like second nature. Listen, mark my words one day you will pay, you will pay. Karma's gonna come collect your debts. Maybe you'll change, abandon all your wicked ways, make amends and start anew again. Maybe you'll see, all the wrongs you did to me, and start all over." -Set it Off

"Is my value based only on your perception? Or is your opinion of me, not my responsibility." -Billie Eilish 

"Maybe I'm too emotional. Apathy's like a wounded soul. Maybe I'm too emotional. Maybe you never cared at all....like a damn sociopath" -Olivia Rodrigo

"You made me feel so high, babe, then crushed me to the ground, babe." -Baekhyun

"I'm in love with my future. Can't wait to meet her. I'm in love but not with anybody else. Just want to get to know myself. I know supposedly I'm lonely now. Know I'm supposed to be unhappy without someone, but aren't I someone?" -Billie Eilish 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Journal Entries from a Broken Mind

The past few months have been rough. Ive been keeping a journal to help with my anxiety and depression. These are just a few of the pages from the paat 2 months. An insight, unfiltered into my mind.....







Sunday, July 4, 2021

A Hard Pill (or 7) to Swallow--TRIGGER WARNING(loss)

I'm a very open person, but this is something that I'm just coming to terms with and its a lot easier to collect my thoughts over a period of time and put into a blog than it is to tell a story to someone face to face. My brain is in a heavy fog, I suffer from small tremors in my hands when I talk about it, but I'm currently constantly reminded of my misfortune (because of the physical effects) multiple times a day so I'm forced to face it. 

I am supposed to be 13 weeks pregnant by now, but I had a miscarriage.

This is something that is seen as an awful, taboo subject, but I feel like in order to heal from what I've gone through I need to talk about it. First thing I will say is that I knew it was a common occurrence to miscarry a baby. In fact, most people wait until after the 12/13 week mark to tell people about the pregnancy because the likelihood of miscarrying is so high in the first trimester. I just didn't realise how common it is: 1 in 4 pregnancies end up in a miscarriage. 

For something that happens with those kind of odds, It's a wonder there aren't more people talking about it. I know it's a horrible event to go through both physically and mentally, but I hate the idea of suffering in silence, because no one talks about it. I didn't realize that so many women close to me have suffered the pain of loss from a miscarriage, not until I talked to them about it. Just like Postpartum Depression is a medical condition where support is openly available and encouraged to talk about if it does happen to you, I feel Miscarriages need to be treated the same way & have the same support/resources available (just in ca...not talked about in hushed tones after the fact when life spirals out of control. 

So this is my story, open and raw. 

Last Tuesday I rang my doctor because there was some bleeding going on downstairs, when for a supposed pregnant woman there shouldn't be any. I was referred to A&E to get it checked out since when the doctor rang me it was nearly closing time.

To add insult to injury, at the same time Rob had tested positive for Coronavirus so the whole household was self isolating-Rob in his bedroom, and me and Henry away from him as much as possible in the house. So, going to the hospital I was asked all sorts of questions about having come in contact with anyone who tested positive for Coronavirus (yes) and if I was self isolating (yes). In the end, I was put into a sick bay that was something out of a Virus Disaster Film--zipped shut in my own little bio hazard cubicle--had to have 3 Coronavirus tests done on me, my blood and urine samples taken during triage before I even got to see the on call Gynaecologist. 

Three hours in A&E, a visit from the Gyno, midwife, and administrative midwife and it was determined inconclusive, but there was a possibility of a 'Threatened Miscarriage'. Only an Ultrasound would be able to determine the health of the foetus and they couldn't do one in A&E at 11pm at night. I was sent home and told to wait for a call for the soonest Ultrasound appointment available. Next day(Wednesday) I got a call for an ultrasound but the earliest appointment was Friday morning. 

I was distraught, worried, anxious. I was working from home that day and found myself unable to concentrate on work because my mind was racing with all manner of thoughts. Why isn't there an appointment sooner? How will they be able to tell from an ultrasound if the baby is okay? What if it's not okay? Was it something I did? Did I fall at some point? Did I eat something I shouldn't? What if it is okay, then why am I bleeding? What if I was never pregnant to begin with? What if the home test I took was a false positive?

An overwhelming sadness took over my body at the thought of having a miscarriage. I found myself staring off into space for who knows how long, before snapping to and realizing that all of this speculative thinking wasn't healthy. I needed a distraction, and starring at a computer screen and waiting for the software to catch up with my clicks was NOT the best way of doing that--it lent itself to too much starring off into space and not enough getting work done. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to be any type of productive with the mood(and life) draining out of me, I took the rest of the week off in hopes that come Friday there would be some better more conclusive news. 

When I went in for my appointment, I was told the rundown of how they were going to check for things. I saw a Nurse/midwife practitioner who took my details & medical history. I was so nervous that I kept forgetting basic information of my own information (my doctor/surgery's name, the name of prescriptions I was/had been on, etc). Embarrassed and flustered, I got through that session with the right information in the end, it just took me a little longer to get there. 

I waited a bit, then went in for the 1st of 2 scans. The first scan was a normal ultrasound, where your bladder has to be full in order for the ultrasound to bounce the image back to the screen for the technician to see. It wasn't looking good. Not much could be seen because there were dark pockets of blood obscuring the path. I was told to empty my bladder then they would conduct an internal scan where instead of the jelly & scanner on the outside of my pelvis, they stick a wand up me to get a closer look from the womb opening. 

The second scan wasn't any better than the first and after having 2 technicians conferring, it was determined that I had a 'Missed Miscarriage'. Even though I was supposed to be 11 weeks along, the foetus measured 7.7mm, which would roughly be the size of a 6 or 7 week old foetus, and the sac was misshapen/not rightly formed. Also, the technician said anything over 7mm they would expect to see the flicker of a heartbeat, but there wasn't one. 

I was ushered into a small side room (I suppose it was their 'Grief' room) with a small sofa and armchair facing one another, a box of tissues on a short cabinet, and light/bright walls with 'happy' scenescape art on the walls. I waited, crying & in shock, trying to process what I was told. I knew it was a high probability with everything that had been going on. All signs were pointing to a miscarriage and I was prepared for it (or so I thought), but somehow it just became real when the technicians both said to me "I'm really sorry" and all I could say was "it's okay, it's fine" when I really wanted to articulate, 'It's not your fault for telling me. I'm glad I have an answer, even though it wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. Thank you.'

It also made it worse being alone with my thoughts and replaying what the technicians said in my head. Mainly, that the foetus was no more than 6/7 weeks, if we were going off of size, which means that for approximately a month, I've had a dead baby residing within me. No wonder I had such horrible morning sickness. 


Eventually the Nurse/midwife practitioner who took my details earlier came in and explained in full the diagnosis and next steps:

Natural Management-Where we wait to see if the body expels the tissue etc naturally without intervention.

Medical Management- Where pills/tablets are taken to help encourage the body to expel the material. 

Surgical Management- Where the contents of the womb are removed surgically, and there is an option of doing this with a general aesthetic or without.  


She told me that I didn't need to make a decision straight away; some ladies know exactly which option they want to take and some want to get over the initial shock and take their time to determine which course of action is best for them. My shock apparently put me in 'fight' mode of the 'fight or flight' theory because my pragmatic side won out and I was able to make a decision right then and there about which option I wanted to take--Medical management. I wanted Them gone. I wanted this dead baby out of me so that I could grieve and move on and it was the only option that I could start that day. 

She went through the one-off procedure with me, how it works, what will happen, the side effects, etc. then went to get a doctor to sign off on the medication and came back with 4 small pills, 2 pain pills, and 1 anti sickness pill. I gulped them all at once, swallowing my grief down with it. 

I went home, cried to hubby while I told him everything I could remember about what the verdict was, which expelled any energy I had left, so I went upstairs to sleep for most of the afternoon. I could do nothing else that day but lay down and stare off in one direction, thinking, crying, and thinking before letting sleep take over. I had several little catnaps, but then the worst set in in that evening, about 8 hours after the pills were administered to me at the hospital. ((I WARN YOU NOW, the next paragraph is GROSS. Skip to the paragraph after if you cant handle bodily functions)).


First started the cramping. Imagine period cramps mixed with the early onset of labour pains when you start having contractions. This was the way the pills worked, they made the Uterus contract so that the material is encouraged to dislodge and come out. On top of that, the pills also gave you extreme nausea and diarrhoea so at one stage I shat myself before I could walk 3 metres to the bathroom, then proceeded to expel all manner of bodily fluids from both ends as I sat on the toilet and leaned over the sink simultaneously. For the rest of the evening, until about 2am I believe, I was getting up to go to the bathroom constantly to either throw up, poo, or have blood and tissue dripping out of me. When I returned to the bedroom each time, I would still be in so much pain from cramping, retching and straining that i would groan until sleep took over briefly, only to be woken up by the next round of expulsion. 


I was in such extreme pain not only physically, but emotionally I was in turmoil as well. It was all the pains of labour, but without the squishy prize of a baby at the end... which somehow made the physical pain so much worse. Luckily that was the worst of it, so by 2ish in the morning I was able to get some sleep with minor aches and pains. 

This past week has been a mix of emotions to day the least. The doctor at the clinic signed me off for a week, not only for my emotional wellbeing, but also because it's recommended that women going through Medical or surgical management of a miscarriage be on bedrest or at least take it easy for a week post procedure. The day after I was sad and delusional and just not myself at all. I thought I was going to have days of this where i just stare blankly all day, but it turns out that with the right amount of distraction, I wasn't like that ALL the time. 

For the most part I played with Henry, got lost in the story of reading a book, or slept off the emotional and physical exhaustion. There wasn't much I could do to function normally because I just felt sad and drained, but not because of anything that triggered thinking about the circumstances. However, there were triggers that did make me zone out and hubby caught me staring into space quite a few times... 

Seeing a new-born baby at the supermarket...

Going to the park with Henry and seeing siblings playing together....

Any mention of pregnant women (i follow some mum groups on Facebook so that is fairly common. I had to snooze those groups for a bit)... 

Then there is (still) the reminder every day that my body is getting rid of evidence i was ever pregnant. Every time I have to go to the bathroom, I'm constantly wiping blood and tissue away. This is normal according to the midwife, for a couple of weeks, but its a constant reminder. Its as if when I'm having a good part of the day, I go to the loo and it renews that disheartened feeling I thought I was getting over.


What's worse is that throughout this time, from A&E to the ultrasound, and a day or so after, Rob was isolating, so I pretty much went through this alone, and had to take care of Henry on top of it. Towards the end, I just couldn't cope and I was getting frustrated with Henry because I was so frustrated and depressed about the situation I couldn't take any more. When Rob started feeling the effects of Covid going away, it coincided with when I found out I definitely had a miscarriage(officially). He took over looking after Henry in isolation so I could just be depressed without having to force myself to function. It helped tremendously and that was a tipping point for me moving on from crippling depression(not being able to do anything), to manic depression (doing things out of the norm). 

I liken my grief so far to a midlife crisis...the time where drastic changes come into play to renew that youthful feeling of life. For me, I've determined that I'm trying to do everything I can to take advantage of not being pregnant so I'm not as sad. So basically doing all the things that were a pregnancy no no: 

  • Drinking Alcohol
  • Consuming copious amounts of Caffeine 
  • Gorge myself on soft cheese, deli meats, undercooked meat, sushi, etc
  • Dyed my hair
  • Enquired about getting a tattoo
  • Looked into giving blood again
I don't know when my manic behaviour will end, or if it will... but I'm rolling with it right now because its stopping me from getting in my head and sinking back further down into crippling depression. I'm still depressed, daily, about the situation but the longer life goes on, the more variety of highs and lows there are during my day. 

I know this wasn't my fault. The midwife said that miscarriage is just one of those things that happens--the luck of the draw. If I wasn't already able to conceive a child (Henry) I'd probably be far worse and blaming myself personally for what happened. As it stands now, I know its not my fault. I know that it must not be the right time for us to have another child, but it still hurts. 

No matter who you are, how you live, how many times it happens, which trimester it happens, it sucks losing a baby. 



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I obviously wasn't far enough along to know if it was going to be a boy or a girl. At one stage my morning sickness was so bad that Rob joked that it might be twins and I shouted "DON'T YOU DARE wish that upon me. One is hard enough!" After that comment, thinking about baby names, I decided that if it did turn out to be twins, that I fantasized about calling them Artemis & Apollo after the sibling Greek gods. In retrospect, the thought was silly and probably never was going to end up of any birth certificate with the surname 'Vidler' because Rob would probably veto it (also, who's to say it would have been 1 boy and 1 girl!).

But the more I pondered over this miscarriage and the circumstances, the more I thought I'd like to give my unborn child a name, at least so we can refer to Them as an entity rather than 'the miscarriage'. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but I thought this one might have turned out to be a girl, so I'm going to honour this juncture in my life and say that the world almost got to meet my baby girl, Artemis. 

Too good for this earth, a warrior goddess, Artemis will still live on in my memory, because she was real. She did exist. I can't just let her be another no-name statistic. I'm rewriting the narrative. I'm accepting I had a miscarriage, but it doesn't stop me from honouring Artemis. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Time Has Come...to get stabbed for the greater good

COVID-19 has gotten everyone in a tizzy. And whether you believe in it or not, that choice is up to every individual. Some people think its a hoax. Other people feel like once they get the vaccine the world will automatically go back to normal. Some dont want the vaccine.


Personally, for me, when i heard about the vaccines, my decision was made. Greater number of people vaccinated, means a greater possibility of Herd Immunity and the sooner things will go back to normal. Now, im not one of those people who thinks it will magically happen overnight, but i know i will do my part in progressing the world back to normal.

When Covid broke out, i didnt think it was going to be as big a deal as it was, but then it reached Pandemic status and it wasnt something i could ignore. Speculation flew around about how "long" it was going to last but i dont think the majority of people would think it was going to last over a year.

I had my suspicions that it was going to last 2 years like previous pandemics and no matter how quickly things seemed to be progressing with a vaccine we were not going to be out of the woods yet. I predict that even with the majority of the population vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing(to some degree) and obsessive hand washing/sanitizing will become normal for quite a few years.

The first step though-getting vaccinated. The UK government has been doling out vaccines based on critical vulnerability and age, working from oldest to youngest. The time finally came that i got invited to have my vaccine on Friday, so i thought id do a little run down of how it was for me at least in case anyone was curious.

I should say that i originally got a text inviting me to get my vaccine before it looked like my age range group opened up. I snatched that up, but unfortunately the day before my vaccine, i was super ill (unreleated to covid) so i had to cancel my jab. :( sad times. When i felt better i did rebook, and by that time loads of my friends seemed to be getting the text invitation so our age group mustve opened up.

The booking system was really easy to manage. Super easy to cancel and rearrange. And you had the option to book your second jab as well and it showed you only the bookings for the time you needed (with the appropriate number of weeks between each jab).

The day of my appointment it was fairly smooth sailing as well. There was a small queue to get in the building as they were doing a one out, one in type of system. Someone at the door asked some standard questions, then as the queue moved, you took a step into the building. Next step inside the foyer i got checked in with the booking code and verifying person details (name, d.o.b. etc). Another few steps and i was shown to an available station to get the vaccine.

The centre where i got my jab was giving out the Pfizer vaccine, which is actually the one i was hoping id get. When i got inside I was asked a few more standard questions, including if im right or left handed to determine which side i got the jab in(the non dominate side). The shot itself took all of 5 seconds and didnt hurt any more than what youd expect a needle prick to be. I was handed some leaflets, and a timer set for 15 minutes and told to have a seat until that time was up.



Done, dusted. I felt fine straight after. I could barely even see the pinprick of where the needle went in. Later that evening i only noticed the injection site hurt a bit when it was touched because Henry was jumping all over me and putting some serious pressure on my arm. Ouch.

Day after, again no major side effects except feeling stiffness in my arm and being tired.... then again, weve been having a heat wave lately, so it could just have been the sweltering heat tiring me out. All in all I think i had a good experience with the Pfizer vaccine and i am very thankful. Im hoping that the next jab goes just as smoothly. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Global Nerds....UNITE

Lockdown has taught the world many things, but one affirmation I will always take with me is that Nerds/Geeks/Fanatics will flock together... even if we have to do it virtually. 

Take my love of D&D for example. I only recently got back into playing Dungeons and Dragons after a 10 year hiatus. I used to play in California with my college friends before I moved to the UK. 

The group I hung out with tended to gather in a large section of the cafeteria at our community college, and someone would always set up shop early in the morning and there would always be at least one of us who would stay until the end of the day to stake out 'our spot'. It was a safe haven for all us 'weirdos' and outcasts to come and go throughout the day, hang out, play table top games, eat meals, study on the odd occasion, have a nap if need be, and leave our stuff for safe keeping while we were elsewhere on campus. 

I was a casual player of D&D at best; mostly I was the one jumping in to play someone's character so they could actually attend some of their lectures for an hour or so. These sessions would more often than not be ALL day and a lot of us were spectators while the game and the banter rolled on. I wasn't too into watching the game, but I did enjoy jumping in and learning the rules and praying I didn't mess up someone's character. 

Fast forward to 2011, I got married and moved to the UK, so I stopped playing with my school chums. It took me quite a while to find another group of friends that played D&D for me to pick it up again, not that I was actively looking. 

One of my work colleagues, Lucie, had never played D&D but her husband Simon is a full-on fanatic so a few years ago we devised a plot to start a new campaign. :) With a few seasoned players, and a few complete and utter noobs (and me, who hadn't played in nearly a decade), we set off on an adventure! This became a once-a-month Weekend session(due to us being adults and ya know...real life stuff getting in the way) for the better part of a year I reckon. 

I got pregnant and played nearly up until my due date (where many a joke was made by our Hosts-Lucie and Simon- about worrying I'd break my waters on their living room floor during a session). After having baby boy(NOT on their living room floor), and being sleep deprived, new parents, etc.... I didn't really feel like I could slot back into driving 45min away to play D&D, baby in tow (although I'm sure that would've been welcomed). So I went without and I was missing the hilarity of sessions. 

THEN Covid happened....and lockdown....and the D&D group wasn't able to meet up in person, so they turned to a new campaign, on a new platform. They started playing on facebook chat/video, and somehow I weaselled my way back into the party. :) I think it started out as a one shot, a short term solution to get our D&D fix, but over time, it's turned into a weekly game for over a year during lockdown. 

Virtual table top gaming is possible....annoying at times, but completely possible. There were trials and tribulations, not only with sound and audio connections but also with sharing screens, building online Maps, and getting used to asking a million and one times 'so, are they 5ft away from me?' or 'How close am I to them?' without having a physical table top marker to eyeball proximities. It's just not as fun as sitting in the same room and having banter. 

Throughout the year we bounced between Facebook video and discord, lost some players who had bandwidth problems and other issues, gained some new players who had never attempted D&D before and overall kept each other sane during lockdown. Strangely enough it was only the other week when outdoor events could take place with masks & social distancing that I met one of my party members in real life for the first time!  I had been playing D&D with Gareth for over a year and I've never met the guy! It's a strange world we live in, and when we are finally allowed to play again in person, I can't wait to give all of them a great big hug-- even a guy whom I only know by his character roleplay!

Further than this close-knit little group, D&D has brought me closer to an online community of D&D players across the globe. My friend Stacey got me listening to a D&D podcast called Romancing the Dungeon and I couldn't be more grateful. I binged the 24 episodes of the show and almost instantaneously became invested in the characters and the players. Last night they had a Season 1 'wrap party' on Discord and it was great to meet, not only some of the people involved in the podcast itself, but chat and have banter, with other fans of the show. 

Proving once again, that fanatics will always find a way to flock together and discuss their favourite things... even while there's a global pandemic going on.