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 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 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 

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