therapy journey

My journey to better mental & spiritual health

Tag: boyfriend

Untwining the ties.

Tuesday 26th August 2014

I’m in the process of disentangling my life from J’s. This isn’t the place to go into detail, but needless to say, it is draining and traumatic. I returned to the UK two nights ago, full of feeling suddenly. It was like being awakened from stasis. At my first sight of Britain, tears rolled down my cheek and my face kept breaking into a smile. I have never been so relieved to be home. Finally the nightmare is over, I feel OK, I can talk to people, I have an appetite and I see freedom from J’s world.

This brings with it an inordinate amount of sadness. I see him and feel him everywhere. I left him in his town in Spain, having gone there to pick up my things and give my car to him. He was the saddest person I’d ever seen. Watching him weeping next to me, it was as if a little bit of me died. And it has, really. I am grieving. I’ve lost J – truly the best influence on my life, the person I loved above all others.

weight-in-palmA Letter to J

It is breaking my heart but I cannot be in this relationship any longer. I love you but I can’t keep doing this to myself and to you.

I am sorry for all my bad behaviour. I have some serious personal issues that won’t go away by acting good.

You are right, I have cried wolf too many times and I understand that you cannot trust me anymore.

I think you would benefit from ending up with somebody calm, intelligent, creative, mature, patient and kind. I am none of those things. I am erratic, defensive, moody, conventional, stupid, selfish, weak and immature. I seemed to wind you up and upset you, even when I genuinely believe I am being kind and helpful.

I have always believed that I didn’t deserve you and perhaps my behaviour exemplifies this on some subconscious level.

The idea of us being together was so thrilling but the reality is conflict upon conflict.

Both of us are very sensitive to criticism which sometimes made it impossible to have even one normal day, without the drama.

You already know how I feel about you and I stand by it. You are so intelligent, wonderfully kind and patient, loving and forgiving, ambitious, thoughtful and practical, very funny and free-spirited, talented, brave and imaginative, and above all, the most special person in the world to me.

I wish you all the best in everything you do and I will always remember the good times we had with affection. Thank you truly for everything you have shown me, given me and taught me.

Always in my heart.

X

Blame, love & my violence.

Monday 18th August 2014

Exactly one year ago I wrote an entry in my diary, and put a reminder in my calendar for 18th August 2014. Today, I saw ‘J day’ in the calendar and after puzzling about it for a moment, opened up my diary and with a heavy heart had a look what I’d promised to myself twelve long months ago.

Sunday 18th August 2013

The meaninglessness here continues. I can’t find my stride here […] Spain leaves me cold (ironically). […]This isn’t for me somewhere I can thrive and make those important changes in life, because I am so dependent on someone else for the first time in my life. And that’s not a good starting point for a highly personal journey if that relationship isn’t full of support and encouragement and lightness, love and laughter. Which it isn’t. […]

The journey can’t start yet because this isn’t the place where I am to grow and change into the mature, calm and stable person I catch glimpses of from time to time. I remain absolutely sure that J can be my partner on this journey however. He was the one that convinced me I could be a better person.

I think I need to have a date in my mind where if things don’t get better, I get out. Why not a year from today. 18th August 2014, and if things aren’t already on an even keel, then I get out of it. If he hasn’t already dumped me by then, that is. He’s got very very close to dumping me more than once. Of course every relationship has ups and downs but this is ridiculous! We can’t even be ourselves around each other because we just f***ing argue all the f***ing time. […]

I just want J and me to be gentle with each other’s feelings and to be kind and considerate all the time. Not in an intense way, just to have quiet – silent – respect for each other rather than searing rage and contempt. Any small matter will set it off. It’s like a pressure cooker that’s ready to blow and just a little nudge on that valve will release a violent torrent of offensive build-up that rings in your ears and leaves a bad taste in your mouth for days and days and days. And like this, the wound never really gets the chance to heal. If it ever does, who knows, we might find that, after all, we aren’t compatible, or one of us doesn’t want the other one, but until a year’s time, I am going to keep trying, no matter what the emotional cost.

When I wrote that, I could not have comprehended how much worse things would get. I thought that what was happening in August 2013 was as low as we could go. How wrong I was. Back then I was blaming J as much as myself, convinced that if only he’d stop drinking so much or start listening to me more or stop being so oversensitive or if only we were in England, none of it would be happening.

How I’ve changed since then is that I realise the error is with me – it is always with me. I regret what I’ve done to us, making a kind, happy-go-lucky man who had already been through so much, into a monster. I regret having given in to my anger one too many times. Unfortunately it’s become clear over time that I’ve been unable to cope with life with my partner, without the readymade structure and meaning such as through being in employment. Living in a foreign and pretty unwelcoming land was also tough, or perhaps that’s just an excuse. I lashed out in every way I could and brought him down to my level every time. I nitpicked, criticised, provoked and twisted the knife. I carried on doing this until last week when our unexpected separation forced an end to my sick and disgusting behaviour.

Too many times I had been the initiator of violence. At the end of April this year we were in Belgium for a working holiday. I blogged about the aftermath but I never went into the details of what happened because I was just too ashamed. I punched him repeatedly in the face simply for having fallen asleep in the hotel room after a night of drinking when I returned with a kebab for us. I should have walked out there and then. Instead, I apologised profusely and beat myself up for weeks and still do. We moved on somehow, a testament to his caring nature, but I have no right to expect him to forgive me as I overstepped a boundary from which there’s no returning.

I am devastated and confused, I can’t function. I stare at the wall and can’t focus on any task, not that I have anything to do here. I can’t eat, I can’t think. I can’t sleep or concentrate enough even to watch TV. My only task, really, is staying as mentally healthy as I can, trying not to spiral any further into misery.

Putting things right.

Sunday 17th August 2014

 In seeking absolute truth we aim at the unattainable, and must be content with finding broken portions. – William Osler, Canadian physician

There are some things I would like to put right, before resuming normal transmission. It seems that writing this blog has got me into questionable moral territory with J, my partner. I have hurt him with the things I wrote in the last post which in his opinion were not an accurate reflection of the truth, and for that I apologise unreservedly. My intention through writing via the very public medium of blogging is not to injure someone else’s reputation, nor to strike out when I am hurt, nor to cause suffering and pain to anyone. But, I am aware that inadvertently I may have done all of those things.

I certainly don’t want to live through my blog and I am aware of some of the more unhealthy aspects of blogging such as caring more about your online life than the real world, the need to enlarge one’s readership, being wrapped up in your own story, appealing for validation and craving your truth to be as salacious and dramatic as possible.

I have a voice on this platform because I am looking to connect with others, yes, but first and foremost this blog is a journal of my hopefully improving mental health and spiritual awakening, anonymous and not connected to other online aliases or my real name.

For that reason, I stand by what I have written, for my last post was my interpretation of traumatic events in their immediate aftermath. Truth, as much as we would like to believe otherwise, is subjective, experienced through each of us differently due to our histories, filters, perceptions and all the other baggage we bring to the table. Our individual and highly personal versions of reality serve to confirm or challenge what we already believe.

So, without dwelling too much on what’s passed, here is my truth for what it’s worth. I have been a violent person. On more than one occasion, I have been the perpetrator of domestic abuse. As such, it was my duty to leave the relationship the very first time I struck out at my partner because violence in this context is always unforgiveable. 

But I didn’t leave after the first incident. Nor did I leave the second or third time. I begged for forgiveness – and J to his eternal credit gave me some semblance of forgiveness but, alas, the memory of unprovoked violence never really fades away. A lot of commenters on this blog have offered me support as I painted a picture of being the victim of physical domestic violence, even though I pointed out I was not the victim. I wish to point out unequivocally that I am not the victim of abuse. I never have been, in my current relationship or any other.

J sent me the following email, 3 days ago.

tj I just read your blog. Please stop spreading slanderous rumours. The truth is you were violent to me, yet again and I struggled to get away from you, you continued to rip my clothing and we wrestled to the ground, you tried to wrestle me to the ground and then I broke free actually, then i pushed you away from the door so i could get out. You repeatedly punched me with all your might in the face in Belgium when i was asleep and then repeatedly tried to punch me the first few mad contact in the face and neck, then you tried and succedded to claw me when I managed to grab your arms, i tried to calm you down, but you were in your very violent mood, even your father says you have a terrible anger and its well known that you hit people, thats why they avoid you, right?

I ask you to correct your blog to reflect the truth, and if you cant then to remove any implication that i was violent to you please. Its just not right.

I believe in some un healthy way you are enjoying this, its like a movie to you, well it isnt to me. I loved you very much and have been far to patient, tolerant and forgiving, thats why you think its ok to walk all over me.

I appeal to you kind nature, which i know you have in abundance wrapped up somewhere under all that anger from your childhood. Please remove the slanderous comments, it is not acceptable and you know that.

I really hope you are safe wherever you are and comfortable and continue with your therapy, it very admirable that you want to do so, but please stop punishing me.

You know I only ever want the best for you, but i cant put up with this.

J

J had been patient with me for too long, he’s right. Eventually he snapped because all his efforts were met with yet more rage and violence. My violence. All those promises I made that I would sort myself out, make resolutions to change, go to therapy to break my negative patterns, go teetotal, gain dominion over my emotions more effectively – they were all essentially hollow and did not individually or collectively do any good in repairing what I had already broken. How could they?

J’s mistake in his opinion was being too patient, tolerant and forgiving. I can’t refute that. His mistake was to carry on a relationship with an abuser that he could not trust and will never trust again.

I am sorry for all the damage I have caused. I am the one that has to live with myself knowing that I’ve broken somebody that I love. I have to live with the knowledge that I have continually struggled to control my temper and one day that might lead me to serious trouble. I have to live with myself.

On the edge of the world.

Something seismically awful has happened. I appear to have walked out on J and my entire world is spinning. To my abject disbelief I am writing this from a roadside café somewhere between Las Cabezas and Seville. I am heading to an Air Bnb room that I’ve booked in Seville. My satnav won’t charge in the car so I’m having to take regular pit stops to charge it, so I thought I might as well use the time to write.

We woke up today after having spent a bit of time sleepily talking and joking in bed together. J suffers from insomnia and I try to help him and to be patient. I made him a cup of coffee and he said I had ‘ruined it’ with too much sugar. We went from that small domestic non-incident to me on the floor of our bedroom within literally 5 minutes. He had thrown me to the floor and pulled my hair and then kicked me. He called me a ‘nutter’ because of my mental health problems presumably. He then came back in a few seconds later and dragged me onto the bed. He went to another bedroom.

After a few minutes of feeling total shock, I pulled my suitcase out from under the bed and packed. I wasn’t even crying by then, and I took over half an hour to leave. I was forcing myself to remain calm and not do anything erratic. He would have heard that I was moving things around and zipping up my suitcase etc.

He didn’t come for me. I filled up the car with petrol and went to the library to figure out what I was going to do, where I was going to go. I knew I couldn’t go back home, not yet. He had sent me a couple of texts – he wanted to talk and was worried about me, but no apology.

I am not going to enter into a conversation with him while I’m away but told him I need to know things will be different before I go home. I was distraught. I am not ready to face the blame that I know will be poured onto me. The blame I am subjected to is a backbreaking load, it is the force bearing down on me that reinforces every negative thought I have about myself: I’m not good enough, I’ll never change, I am right to hate myself, I can’t stop messing up, I am an evil and worthless thing.

Having said that, I am not going to play the victim. I probably did provoke him, I remember grabbing at his dressing gown when he was asking me to let him go, and it ripped. That was when he threw me down. I wasn’t physically hurt or anything. It just took the wind out of me in other ways. I can’t believe it happened to me.

What is so astounding and scary is how this situation escalated in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t as if we were in the middle of a heated disagreement about something fundamental. It was a little mistake. I know he likes sugar in his coffee so I thought a little extra would be even nicer. But he took objection to it after not sleeping well, and this is the crucial bit – my reaction, my attitude wasn’t positive enough and he despaired. I didn’t respond to the constructive criticism properly. I said something like ‘Well I won’t make your coffee anymore because it seems I can’t even do that right’. OK, immature I know, but what he did to me was an act of physical violence. I was scared. He’s a man and I’m a woman. What does that make me? What does it make him?

That last four weeks while we’ve been on Seroxat have been bliss. Up until a week ago we’d had hardly any disagreements and were happy almost all of the time. Then one day he lost it, got grumpy and started blaming me and I broke down in tears. Properly went bonkers. That was when I started to realise I was bottling up too much, being on the happy pills without an escape in the form of booze, weed, or even a good cry or a raging argument.

Since then, things have not been the same. We’re broken again. We tried to put a plaster over the crack but it got bigger. My mental health has also deteriorated. All I keep coming back to is, ‘I hate myself’. I thought I was so far away from all this bullshit. When I am on my own I regain a tiny bit of self-belief again. But I feel like I’m the size of a pea around him, ready to get trampled on and my spirit crushed. I let him allow me to feel like a stupid child as he’s always telling me what to do and how to do it.

I would rather be on my own lost in the outside world than stuck in his. His contains no healing.

love is all

An unpalatable confession.

I have to get this off my chest as it’s probably ridiculous but it’s been playing on my mind for a long time. I have been concerned that I display psychopathic traits, which would certainly go some way to explaining the difficult and confused mental states that I have suffered with most of my life.

I know there is some pressure especially on the blogosphere to put a name to one’s condition and to write at length about its causes, symptoms, progress and prognosis. This is of course a vital and commendable part of the healing process for those people. For myself too, I thought, as I undertake this journey of self-discovery and opening my eyes to the world.

This idea that I identify with psychopathic traits is unnerving and I don’t want to give it credence. However it is too disturbing to ignore and as far-fetched as it first seems, I must explore further. This is precisely the platform on which to do so.

The following list is Hervey Cleckley’s List of Psychopathy Symptoms and comes from Psychopathy Awareness but there are surprisingly few (read: no?) resources for those that think they might have a touch of the psychopath about them, or want to find out whether their inklings are just tough self-criticism or might be grounded in actual fact. I think this is a valid point – we talk about psychopaths as though they are ‘out there’ with the werewolves, but what about the psychopath in all of us, could we embody some of those traits ourselves without being out-and-out hell-raisers?

  1. Considerable superficial charm and average or above average intelligence.
  2. Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking.
  3. Absence of anxiety or other “neurotic” symptoms. Considerable poise, calmness and verbal facility.
  4. Unreliability, disregard for obligations, no sense of responsibility, in matters of little and great import.
  5. Untruthfulness and insincerity.
  6. Antisocial behaviour which is inadequately motivated and poorly planned, seeming to stem from an inexplicable impulsiveness.
  7. Inadequately motivated antisocial behaviour.
  8. Poor judgment and failure to learn from experience.
  9. Pathological egocentricityTotal self-centeredness and an incapacity for real love and attachment.
  10. General poverty of deep and lasting emotions.
  11. Lack of any true insight; inability to see oneself as others do.
  12. Ingratitude for any special considerations, kindness and trust.
  13. Fantastic and objectionable behaviour, after drinking and sometimes even when not drinking. Vulgarity, rudeness, quick mood shifts, pranks for facile entertainment.
  14. No history of genuine suicide attempts.
  15. An impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated sex life.
  16. Failure to have a life plan and to live in any ordered way (unless it is for destructive purposes or a sham

Myself, I have aspects of the following 14 of the 16 traits, and I have emboldened the particularly prominent traits: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. I will go into a little more detail, but I’m itching under the collar here.

I can charm people and behave in a Zelig-like way that feeds off more conventional folk around me. In the past I had always sought sex without love and resisted a loving relationship until I was in my early/mid-twenties. At school I used to proclaim proudly that I ‘had no conscience’ thinking this was cool. More recently it has come to my attention that close friends agree I ‘have no moral compass’. I make the same mistakes over and over again to the point where it has become a joke between my boyfriend J and me. He has the patience of a saint.

And as for my behaviour when I used to drink, to describe it as objectionable would be extremely kind. So many times I have been surprised to learn that my friends are either laughing at me or hurt by things I’d done without my realising. I’ve flitted from one group of friends to another quickly, charming them anew because I can’t stand anyone knowing the real me. I was always terrified of people getting too close, in case they realised how empty I am.

I spent much of my childhood wondering why other people didn’t understand my genius  and I’d write stupid nonsense zines and unsolicited emails hoping that my incredible brain would be recognised if only I were in the ‘right’ school or could get to the ‘right’ people instead of the ‘sad losers’ that surrounded me.

I used to throw stones at my poor cat and hold her by her tail when I was only 6 or 7. For this I am truly sorry. I have never admitted this to anyone before and it makes me incredibly sad thinking about it now. Even though I was a little kid I should have known better. I’ll regret what I did as long as I live.

And lastly I have always struggled with the idea of having a life plan and assumed that in time, it would come. I am in my thirties now and I am still waiting. I have a mind block when I think about the big picture, anything more than a few months and even that is a stretch. I’ve never had a career or even a career plan, only a succession of jobs I don’t care about and am not good at, and wild dreams about what the next job could be. I fill my days living my boyfriend’s life plan and to a large extent letting him dictate what we do, what country we live in, what sort of people we are and whether or not I work or get on with any tasks. Supporting him is a happy substitute for doing any hard thinking myself.

I’m scared of myself. I know what I’m capable of and it’s hard to look in the mirror sometimes. I’ve punched boyfriends, one in the eye on Christmas morning so hard it made him cry and walk out, even though he was a plane journey from home. I punched the person that loves me while he was asleep only four months ago while we were on a working holiday. I have left scratches and bruises on people’s faces, some of them friends trying to have a fun night out with me. I have betrayed a friendship so badly by saying unspeakable things about my friend/flatmate behind her back knowing that what I said would get back to her. I’m talking in the past tense because I hope to God that this sickness is behind me.

I have been an abuser, psychopathic or not, it’s so hard to stomach and I am sorry.

Jealousy. Windsurfing. Dismantling the halo.

I really cannot fault the meds I am on. Seroxat has made me feel relaxed and content, brave and bold, happy and smiling and it’s quieted my mind. It is a wonderdrug for me as there are no side-effects that I can perceive which balance out the benefits. Of course there is a bit of me that wonders what the catch is – will it be impossible to get off when that time comes? Will I go nuts if I ever miss a dose? Will there be long-term health implications that I won’t be aware of for ten or thirty years? I don’t know and for the time being I am happy to continue taking Seroxat.

The brave new me went windsurfing two days ago – a traumatic experience that left me feeling depleted and disgusting. I went to Tres Piedras beach, just south of Chipiona, Cadiz. I had never windsurfed before, and it was one of those things that J and I thought would be perfect to get into for fitness and a bit of an adrenaline rush.

The instruction consisted of being taken a mile out to sea in a boat after waiting on the shoreline for twenty minutes. The ‘instructor’ told us in embarrassed English to step onto the board and hoist up the sail. Then he sped off in his boat, not to be seen again for a good half hour. I didn’t manage to get the sail up even once, though falling off it repeatedly into the deep water was strangely fun and even kind of exhilarating.

After a few minutes I was truly exhausted and took to straddling or sitting on my board waiting to regain enough energy to carry on. But all that bobbing up and down, even on a moderately calm sea, made me feel increasingly sick. I felt as if I must have been going green and retched a couple of times. It was the most bizarrely hopeless and helpless circumstance to be in, if I’m honest. It was so ridiculous it made me laugh in my delirious state. What was I doing? I was a dot on the horizon, much further out from shore than I could ever swim. I was lying on a raft, about to hurl my guts up. It was completely calm and peaceful. No-one would come for an hour and a half. It took the biscuit for strange situations.

Still I have to give myself kudos for going through with it and not bottling out. I’m not a thrill-seeker by nature and prefer sitting at home reading, writing, eating or watching TV. The night before our long-awaiting windsurfing lesson, I had a bit of a revelation which was embarrassing to admit even to myself. I was out at a restaurant with my boyfriend J and things were slightly fraught somehow, and I objected to his buying a bottle of wine for home then ordering a G&T at the restaurant (spirits measures are always so large in Spain and are always free-poured).

I just came out with it and realised as soon as I had said it that I’d been carrying it around with me for some time: I am insanely jealous of his drinking. There, I’ve said it! We do everything together and go through the same highs, lows, triumphs and disappointments being together practically 24/7. But he has escapes in the form of alcohol and marijuana. His relationship to booze is not entirely healthy, as he has the propensity to drink a tad too much, but he certainly doesn’t turn into a monster or become angry/ violent/ emotional/ riotous like me. He just gets more fun. He likes to smoke a spliff at the end of the evening. Nothing wrong with that, except that I’m quietly fuming that this pleasure is similarly unavailable to me. I’ve never even been stoned before. I’d only ever smoked it when I was blind drunk in the past. Now, with the hole in my lung and my aspergillosis, it’s off-limits.

It is incredibly childish of me I know but this is what my heart is saying and I have to make efforts to listen to it. J’s response was that my drug could be adrenalin – natural, safe and free. We would do extreme sports like windsurfing and ride rollercoasters (though he pooh-poohed the idea of me driving my car really crazily or learning to ride a motorbike – probably wise).

There is also the possibility of doing Seroxat recreationally, doubling my dose to 20mg or more one time, just for fun. I would really like this and am so craving the chance to lose my brain for a few hours. The saint-like lifestyle I have been living for eight months now is taking its toll and something has to give. Even Mother Theresa-a-likes such as myself should be allowed a little escape from time to time. I just don’t know what that might entail.

Therapy is no magic wand.

The therapy is continuing in lots of different ways. I’m growing and learning in ways I never thought possible and reading lots though mostly from other blogs nowadays rather than books. What I’ve learned in relation to the traditional model of therapy is that it’s only useful when I’ve believed it to be useful. That is, I, the patient, determine the usefulness of the therapy. It works if I say so.

I adopt a multi-pronged approach, and have become something of a therapy junkie throughout my journey. I have been asked by various friends and other therapists recently whether therapy is “working”. I really don’t know what to say. It clearly isn’t, because all the hours I’ve spent talking to therapists haven’t changed my behaviour in certain situations.

It took me months to find the therapist, G, that has helped me the most – by that I mean the one who I feel most comfortable with, I respect as an individual, and whose advice, analysis and agenda I most value. What I am basically saying is that I like her as a person. We get on well. We can hold a conversation.

In this way I find solace in a relationship that society says can cure me of my psychological ailments; my mental and behavioural stumbling blocks. We have preordained roles and sometimes resort to stock phrases. Like doomed lovers conducting an illicit affair, there is no preamble and no outro to our encounters, it’s straight to business. The validity of the therapeutic transaction is confirmed by the exchange of money – an amount that isn’t to be sniffed at. Afterwards I am left confused, traumatised, enraged sometimes, comforted that someone understands other times… but there is never any question that this therapy is an  unequivocally Good Thing.

I wouldn’t say I have any doubts about the therapeutic process, even if the intervention is nothing more than offloading to a nice person who understands and challenges me. I worry that surely therapy is the end of the road. If it doesn’t “work” then what else is there to try? Happy pills? Joining a cult? Self-flagellation? Going back to my bad old ways?

Where my doubts lie are in myself. I embrace therapy and I know I’m doing it right because it’s painful afterwards, the psychological equivalent of being punched in the stomach. It’s a similar feeling actually, like the wind’s been taken right out of me. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and so far I have not turned into a very tasty dish. I’m still bitter in just about every way imaginable. I’m still angry, it’s right there, bubbling beneath the surface like lava in a volcano.

Yes, deep psychotherapy has helped me understand the causes of my upsets, and makes me very sad in fact as I come to terms with a wasted childhood. But as far as its ability to make me a better person – the person I was always meant to be, before being consumed by negativity – the progress is patchy. I continually mess up, and have recently reverted to appalling behaviours that I thought were behind me.

More recently though, there has been a glimmer of hope. I have been the shining beacon that is going to help myself out of the darkness. I am in the process of making myself more resilient, empathetic, grateful, humble, forgiving and loving. It is in my power alone.

I’ve been told by someone in the blogosphere to relax and observe whether I’m resisting or allowing each moment. Go general. Find soothing, relaxing thoughts. Be easy on myself. Have fun. Take deep breaths. find things to appreciate. Don’t resist the present moment & don’t resist life.

I would like to do all of these things and keep doing them until they become second nature, regardless of the setbacks and endless barrage of feelings I contend with. I would like to experience enough constant faith in myself that even a rough patch with my partner doesn’t derail it. At the moment my entire happiness seems to be dependent on our relationship. J’s also very sensitive (though sometimes seems incredibly insensitive as a coping mechanism), so everything rubs off on him and is exacerbated ten times. That is how we got ourselves worked up into such a lather before.

Learning self-belief and acceptance are so important to individual happiness. I’m doing very well with my previous resolutions – calmness, sobriety, my own interests, not using the language of blame, and sitting above the situation in hand – and over the weekend notched up gold stars on each. I stood up for myself in a very calm and inclusive way, and realised as I spoke what is important for me as regards my life goals.

I’ve got more therapy tonight with G – my last session before I leave the country for up to 8 months. I am looking forward to discussing my issues but I hope this is the end to some of my more unproductive introspection which I acknowledge can lead to unhappiness and resentment of the status quo.

There is no magic wand, there is only belief.

May Resolutions. Being more boring.

Enough time has passed for me to accept and try to move on from the weekend’s poisonous events. Knowing that I can’t unf**k the goat, I can at least do everything I can to prevent my pattern of idiocy to perpetuate any longer.

I have done this coming to terms largely away from J, on my own and with other people, as it’s the only way I can right now. I don’t want to talk to him about any of our issues for fear of causing an upset. I believe that if I can get things sorted in my own mind, my behaviour will be nice which in turn will lead him to be nice. Then maybe we can talk but only when we’re really strong again.

I have come to realise a few things in general. Call them resolutions. Firstly, I must be calm. There is a long, painful recovery period from my abusive behaviour for both of us. I am so shell-shocked I could have behaved like I did that I get into beating-myself-up mode, which means my already battered self-worth goes through the floor. I go into a sort of denial where I expect sympathy because I see myself as the victim. It’s strangely f***ed up.

Secondly, I must stay off booze. It doesn’t agree with me. It makes me aggressive. And seeing as I don’t start feeling that I have had too many after two or four or five, it’s safer to avoid it altogether. I have recently been made aware of alarming incidents that happened years ago that I genuinely could not recall. And it wasn’t just once or twice, it was every time. My friends dreaded being out with me. I did not know that…

Next, I must retain my own interests in order to boost my sense of self. In an intense relationship, it’s all too tempting to dissolve yourself into the other, seeking validation from just one source. It seems absurd even, to devote time to friends, new experiences and hobbies that take you away from the relationship you’re trying so hard to fix. The relationship becomes a full time occupation and everything else is just a distraction. This isn’t healthy.

Number four, when a situation progresses into a conflict, I should explain how the matter in hand affects me. I can explain how this is against my values or I don’t appreciate being spoken to like that, instead of nitpicking, criticising or attacking. Sentences should start with “Right now I feel” rather than “You always… You’re such a….”

The fifth point is to do with my boyfriend in particular. He has been known to twist the knife and to wait for a reaction. He’s a great one for picking fights and winding people up, particularly girlfriends. He likes the drama of conflict (I am exactly the same!). I guess we both like it for the same reason: it reminds you that you’re not dead. I actually want to be more boring! Maybe that means staying in more, watching TV, cleaning, reading, sewing. Maybe that means agreeing with him instead of rising to the bait. Maybe that means taking a step back and observing a situation rather than being tangled up in it and powerless to see what’s actually going on. So that’s a tricky one to summarise so I’ll just say I hope to be boring, agreeable and somewhat detached.

I cannot ask my boyfriend, or anyone else for that matter, to change. I can only work on changing my perceptions and behaviour. I can change how I let the outside world affect my inner state.

To this end I attended by first CBT session on the NHS last night. I had been waiting for three months, but I realise my problems have not changed a jot. I only have time for one session before I leave the country and will therefore have to wait six months or so until I am back to arrange a course of sessions. However it was still useful. The therapist drew three bubbles, the emotion I felt during the incident, the thoughts that were going through my head as a result of that emotion, and the behaviour that is manifested by the thoughts. The chain that we seek to break in the CBT process is between (irrational) thoughts and behaviour. I was challenged, which is very important to my recovery.

I was given two online resources I can use while away. They are Moodgym and the Centre for Clinical Interventions.

When I return here in a few months, I hope to continue with the CBT which deals very much with the here and now, and concurrently to take the NLP/ Biodynamic/ Integrative Arts psychotherapy approach in which I can address childhood issues. I’d like to think of recent events as minor speedbumps, not proof that I am beyond help.