Onwards

New Years Day 2022.

Here’s to a year for optimism, letting go of the past and moving on.

Here’s to keeping fit, losing weight and staying happy.

I’ve met someone new.. he seems normal. He seems nice. I’m terrified of anything more serious happening, of getting hurt, of being that vulnerable again.

How do you get back into relationships after being single for so long? How do you trust that person isn’t going to hurt you? What do you even do to maintain a relationship? Do you have to feed and water it? What’s normal behaviours? How often do you have to see them? How do you not feel claustrophobic? What things can I let slide and what things are deal breakers?

I don’t want to have my heart broken again. I hate how messy relationships are. I was quite happy on my own, would I really want to give that up now? I guess only time will tell.

Letting go of the past

It’s almost 3 years to the day that I left my husband. And in all that time I don’t think I actually dealt with what happened. I think I kept brushing it off as “not that bad”, or that I was over exaggerating.

We finally dissected it during EMDR today. A whistlestop tour through the 6 year relationship, and it made me realise how scarred I had become by what happened. How it impacted on my reaction to Ethan, how I ignored the red flags of jonny and Andrew. Why I put up with being treated like shit and only put the blame on myself.

A few snap shots of my relationship with Ed:

He made me feel like I was an embarrassment; I wasnt allowed to visit him at work or see his friends. To keep quiet. He proposed next to a bush and a bin at Victoria Falls rather than in front of the scenic areas so as not to create a scene.

He made me feel as though he was doing me a favour getting married, “its not a big deal for me but you clearly want to get married, so you have to pay.”

He promised me a life with our 2 cats, a dog and 2 children. Then changed his mind as we got married. He robbed me of my chance at being a mother. He even let me meet the puppy that had been earmarked as ours, then changed his mind.

He made me feel fat and disgusting. Insisting I couldn’t eat the same food as it’ll make me fat, so I had to hide if I wanted a snack. Not allowing me to have wine or chastising me if I had a drink when he did.

Told me my friends were wierd and boring and that he didnt want to spend time with them. Then made me feel bad if i spent time with them instead of him. But wouldn’t let me join him with his friends

Calling my sister “the old bint” and being mean about her because she once called him out on being a dick at the start of our relationship.

Refusing to spend time with my family and not making the effort when mum was really ill in hospital.

I had do the cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, gardening. He wouldn’t lift a finger. Refused to get a cleaner when i said I’d pay, when i was too tired to clean after a run of 12 days, or working 72hr weeks. Refused to let me get a dishwasher as i had to learn how to wash up.

Telling me i was boring and depressing to be around when i was sad, threatening to leave me. Led to me losing insight into a major depressive episode in 2015 because he said i was over reacting any looking for attention

Telling me I was bottom of the household hierarchy. him at the top, then the cats then maybe me. Told me the cats loved him and not me.

Never calling me pretty. Calling me “arsehole” instead.

Telling me i was not the most interesting or clever person he knew. Ridiculing me and saying I couldn’t be a doctor because i was too silly. Contradicting or sneering at me when i tried to talk to him about something that interested me.

Not letting me watch what I wanted on TV when he was home because it was his TV and “you just watch shit”.

Checking if I’d been to the gym or for a swim or a run everyday because “you moan about being fat and I’m only trying to help”.

Not touching me until I’d had a shower. Made it out to be a chore to hug or kiss me goodnight.

If i wasn’t feeling well would ask what was wrong only to be told “there’s always something.”

Making me pay for everything because i was the doctor, even though we earned the same after tax. Then telling me off for never having any money.

Whipping me with teatowels and laughing if i slipped over or got hurt.

Threw stuff at me and called me names if i didn’t help him with something straight away. Then if we had a fight would tell people about how it was my fault if something broke because i lost my temper.

Telling me we would spend the day together so i couldn’t do volunteering or see friends, then he would go off to the gym/play PlayStation or go see his friends/family instead, and if i made plans on his day off would make me feel bad for not being home instead just incase he wanted to do something. Which he never did.

If i had a nap (which i love doing) he would rip off the covers and pull me out of bed on purpose.

Messaged inappropriate things to other girls and would laugh it off as “just an inside joke”.

When i went to Africa for 6 weeks he didnt call me, not even once. So when he came out i checked his messages as I didnt trust him, and found a FB message to my dad asking him if he could marry me. A fucking facebook message. He didnt even bother to call or drive down to see dad in person. And despite this, i still said yes when he proposed next to a bush &bin.

Told me to fuck off coz he was in a bad mood about having to drive me to Cambridge for my hip op the next day. So i ran away that night and tried to make alternative arrangements to get to my op. He did take me after all, but then got annoyed at me because my operation was in the afternoon not the morning, even though it was out of my control. Then i had to stay overnight post op because of low blood pressure so he took my card and i had to pay for a hotel because i had said it was a day operation. He caught D&v so when i was meant to be non weight bearing and recovering the week after surgery I had to look after him instead.

Making me pay the £1500 extra for the damage to our rental property even though he never bothered to stop the cats scratching the carpets or opened the window in the bathroom.

Telling me he would never move from north norfolk so i had to decide if i wanted to work in nnuh or qeh for ED. So i chose anaesthetics as at least i liked the qeh anaesthetics department.

Refusing to compromise on where we lived as he hated driving so i had to commute instead.

I had never felt so invisible or alone as when i was in that relationship.

Telling me “why cant you just be a normal girlfriend”

I went above and beyond for him to try to keep him happy but nothing was ever good enough. I wasnt good enough.

Anni was there and heard me say to him the day before the wedding “we dont have to get married” when he got cold feet. But he was too much of a coward to tell me then that he’d given a stripper oral sex on his stag do the week before.

I felt so alone and sad on my wedding day. He didnt spend any time with me, almost refused the first dance and got absolutely wasted before shouting at me when i asked to go to the hotel. He tried to get my younger teenage cousins drunk and was creepy towards them. He and his friends drank the bar dry on dad’s money. He eventually came to he hotel and told me what he’d done on his stag do. I died inside when i found out.

The months before i left i would drive home from work hoping he wasnt home. I’d fantasise about driving into a tree. Or that he would drive into a tree. Or that he’d die.

I couldn’t leave as I had all my worldly possessions in that house and no where to go. I had no money, only a handful of friends.

I had thought this was all relatively normal

Reframing perceptions

Today in therapy we addressed how I view the end of relationships. I usually feel intense shame, disappointment and rejection. I internalise all the blame and smash my self esteem even further into the ground.

Sometimes I wonder if I should send a “survey monkey” to people I’ve dated and find out what I did wrong or how I can improve myself. But that again is putting all the blame on me. Far more often it’s a combination of factors, not just me, circumstances and just not “clicking”. Isn’t it better for someone to call it off before it gets too deep? And often I don’t pick up/choose to ignore the red flags.

Andrew – we had an agreement. FWB. He had just come out of a 9yr relationship and I wasn’t after anything serious. He took the mick out of my mental health, had bad teeth and didn’t want more kids. For some reason I started to like him and ignored those red flags. But we were never going to go anywhere serious, that had been stated from the start.

Ethan – His tinder profile should have been an immediate red flag “is everyone on here crazy?” He talked a lot about money/status and how much he knew about philosophy. Didn’t ask me about myself much and liked to show off with his “intelligence”. Made me feel like I didn’t know enough and didn’t do a good job explaining himself. Basically treated dating me like an interview – which I wasn’t aware of. Got involved very quickly then suddenly stopped it in it’s tracks. He must have known how unwell I was but took me for a ride regardless. In hindsight, would I want to be with someone who blew hot and cold every two seconds?! And dealing with a narcissist with a propensity for mental health issues themselves, probably would have been a really bad toxic relationship. Despite him appearing “perfect” at face value. I wasn’t to blame, he just felt that I wasn’t his future and I am grateful he told me early. I’m proud of myself for calling him out when he tried to end it by text. I demanded he video call me and tell it to my face. I deserved that rather than a text.

Phil – ugh. Why on earth did I fall for a pretentious spineless creep?! Misogynist and sexist. Took advantage of my fragile feelings to keep him company and use me as cover while he was seeing a nurse. Red flags all over the shop for that guy. Then just stopped talking to me with no explanation. Really grown up and manly. Again, I did nothing wrong except fall for a guy on an ego trip.

So I’ve realised that there have been some shitty dating experiences, but at the same time, I’ve dated a few guys that I ended things with early doors, Adam for example. He might have actually really liked me and I never knew, and I didn’t really think more about him after ending it. The same for the guys who ended it with me, they might not have known how I felt because I don’t always say how I feel. Communication is key! But at the same time, if I get the feeling things are going south then maybe I should listen to my gut early doors, start the conversation and end it early myself rather than spend two or three weeks agonising.

The other thing that came up today was not knowing whether the feeling involved were real or reciprocated. I cant tell. I thought Phil & Andrew felt the same way, but clearly didn’t, and Ethan acted like he did, till he didn’t… and it reminds me of my relationship with Ed. Did he ever feel the same way? Have I just been led on/gaslit like a fool for every relationship in the past 10 years? Am I the only one who actually had feelings and everyone else has been pretending? The hardest part is trying to decipher the truth, because I can no longer tell how men feel about me and I’m trying to protect myself from being vulnerable and hurt again.

I thought I was ready to date and wanted a boyfriend, but I’ve come to realise I actually like my freedom, knowing the world is my oyster and I can come and go as I please. I think if I ended up in a relationship I will still wonder “what if there’s someone better?” and will start to feel suffocated. I like having attention and I like company but anything more serious, definitely not for me at the moment.

Stand down

So that wasn’t ideal.

Getting excited about a date…then the guy turning up 30mins late… and just not being what I expected. I had such high hopes but he didn’t match up to what I wanted, wasn’t on my wavelength, and just had no real substance.

I signed up to dating apps after that. But I just can’t summon the enthusiasm to talk to strangers. I don’t have the self confidence or self esteem. Why would anyone want to go out with me?! I’m awkward, fat and old. I’m over the hill and it’s just downhill from here. I’ve missed the boat with having kids and getting married and finding my happy ever after. It just gets harder the older you get.

Also, I was doing really well losing weight, almost 8kg since July. But somehow today I seem to have put a lot back on in the space of a few days. Which makes me feel like more of a flump. I hate that I believe I’m still single is because of my weight. Why am I pinning my self worth to my weight? Probably because my ex-husband used to berate me for my size. And because the guys I have dated since ditched me for tiny small nurses.

Another colleague killed themselves yesterday. That’s 3 in the past year. I am starting to wonder “who’s next”. My friends in green are really struggling with the latest death. It’s brought a lot back to me about James. He was the team leader at James’s resuscitation attempt last year. God it just sucks. Everything feels so bleak and miserable at the moment.

I just want to cry but nothing is coming out. I don’t feel as bad as 6 months ago, no where near as hopeless. I’m just frustrated and angry.

Its been a long time…

…with several developments

I now am the proud owner of a neutered kitty, a Primary FRCA qualification and a potential date!

I said to myself I’d start dating again once I’ve passed the Primary, and the same day I passed a guy I met at a party several months ago asked me out for a drink.

I can feel myself getting too excited about this. He knows a lot of my friends. They’re excited about it.

But I really don’t know how I’ll handle rejection if it comes to that. Rejection is the emotion/feeling I really struggle to handle. Disappointment is ok. Rejection because of me, something I have no control over, rattles my self belief to the core.

I still havent addressed my low self esteem. I know I’m a good job applicant coz of my CV and achievements. In the dating game, CV has nothing to do with how things pan out. My personality, my looks – I have little no control over. If someone rejects me, I feel it’s because intrinsically something is wrong with me.

My therapist said the reason someone might reject me is because we’re not a good fit. Or because I am not right for them. I should be grateful guys are honest enough to tell me, but I still feel it burn.

I’m trying to reign myself in. This bloke is swanning off to Australia in 9 months anyway so it’s more than likely not to lead anywhere. Best to just enjoy the present.

Self care

Self care comes from realising & accepting I’m not perfect and I never will be. Instead, focusing on what I’ve achieved and being greatful for the opportunities I’ve had.

Self care is doing my nails or shaving my legs. Not for anyone else’s benefit just mine.

Self care is gently pushing myself out of my comfort zone in order to grow. Getting on that plane, talking to new people, trying things.

Self care is taking time to sleep and recharge. Something I am guilty of not doing so much of at the moment.

Self care is recognising I am not in a good place in terms of self image and esteem and not putting myself in a position to feel worse. I would like to start dating again but as I look like the purple powerpuff girl it’s probably better to accept my fate as crazy cat lady.

Me with my tiny friends

Self care is taking myself off to Spain for a yoga retreat where everything is vegan and sweet/salt free then smuggling in contraband from the local shop to stop withdrawals

Red Flags

I hate talking about what went wrong in relationships. I hate recalling the rejection. It hits me viscerally, raw animal pain. I actively avoid reliving those moments where my world falls apart (or, more commonly, the imagined world I had made up in my head in anticipation).

Michelle was very understanding with this today, even as my brain was refusing to cooperate with CBT.

We discussed thinking biases, and that a lot of my negative self esteem is of statements I make about myself using these biases.

My homework for this week is to consider:

So the reason I fell apart when Ethan ended our brief fling was because I was already at rock bottom and in my head I had built him up as a lifeline, when I was already feeling hopeless. He was right, we were not a good fit for the long term, and it’s better to end things early than waste time. I have wasted so many months and years on the wrong men. It’s time to put myself first and not settle. One day I’ll find someone who’s worth spending more time on. One day, when I’m brave enough to try dating again!

I got it!!

I got the job!

60month training programme starting Feb 2022. I may be a proper grown up by 2027…but more likely 2028 or 29 given how many big plans I have.

What can happen in 5 years?!

5 years ago I was engaged, settled down with 2 cats and a firm plan of being an ED consultant by 2022. And look at me now!

Things I hope will happen in the next few years, in no particular order:

– I pass my exams

– I get a subspecialty training post

– Post CCT fellowship in major trauma

– Diploma in transfer and retrieval medicine

– Buy myself a house

– Lose 15kg

– Meet someone who loves me. Maybe have a kid.

– Start weight lifting competitions

– Avoid a relapse

Some of those hopes and dreams are rather far fetched. How on earth will i ever meet someone 🤣

Censored

I’m worried to write in detail these days. I’m concerned what I say can be misunderstood or turned against me. I don’t know who reads my blog but I hate feeling censored.

I’m wasting so much time over thinking and rerunning events through my mind that I’m not keeping touch with friends or taking care of myself. I finished my interviews and honestly feel a lot better. Next week I’ll potentially know what my future holds. Nervous. But I need this.

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