The reason I chose to tell everyone about this journey is because I knew that there would be a lot of new, and uncomfortable experiences along the way.
Yesterday, extremely uncomfortable, let that be said. Let me take you through it.
It was rough, I was feeling rough. I was low, I had another migraine which had put me on my back all morning and I was feeling tearful and needless to say I had done a lot of crying (what a shocker). It got to about 1 pm and I was going crazy.
I only left the house once since Sunday, so, in four days and that was only to go and buy cigarettes. B has been my personal shopper for the last week, so I haven't had to do what my family call "people-ing" - a word for just general contact with others or society as a whole. I would say I was perfectly happy in my pit but I was actually festering in my own filth and misery, waiting for the next wave of tears in a desperate hope that I would fall asleep given the previous nights' bout of insomnia.
What was playing on my mind more than anything else was B and J (J being my brother) saying I need help, and how much of a good idea it is. My brother is quite the diplomat which you will come to learn I'm sure.
Anyway, they and a couple of others have been voicing the same concerns of late. Voices which I have let fade away by slipping under the radar which I spoke about a couple of days ago.
So, even though I felt like complete and utter death, I knew I had to do something. I knew I was depressed, I knew I hadn't showered for two days, but I knew I had to get up and somehow get help.
Before I fled the "ex", I was enquiring about going into a women's refuge to get myself to safety.
So, my good friend Google came out to play only to find that said refuge was less than half a mile from my house and runs a drop-in centre for four hours a day every weekday.
I didn't know what they did at this drop-in centre but at this point I didn't care. I whacked on some jeans and a new denim shirt fresh out the packet I'd treated myself to from ASOS (as I shop when I'm miserable) and made my way out the door.
Less than 10 minutes later, I'm there and ringing the doorbell, terrified. Whilst I have had my meetings with the police, you can see the police about pretty much anything. If a woman is at a refuge, there is only one real reason why they are there.
In that moment, reality gave me a crisp, hard slap in the face. I knew I'd been a victim of domestic abuse but now I KNEW. I was REALLY admitting it to myself and as soon as she introduced herself and asked me to come in, I just asked: "do you help ladies that have already fled?" and sheepishly made my way indoors out of sight.
As soon as I went in, Christ. It was so hot! Either that or I was just anxious. We made our way into a meeting room that I had seen on their website. Thank God there were tissues. There was a young South African family in reception picking up some clothes that I heard the lady that let me in say were from a dance school and the kids were so happy to have them and they said that the lady was the best. I started to choke up more. She came into me and the tears started to flow freely.
"I can't help but feel like I'm wasting your time!" to which she asked why. I couldn't help but think she could be helping someone else. Someone with children, someone with bruises maybe? She said that didn't matter. It was good that I had come to them for help and wondered why I hadn't come sooner. She let me cry for what felt like forever. I looked at the clock and it was only ten minutes. But, in those ten minutes so much came out. I've been lashing out at people, pushing them away, told her about the dreams, the flashbacks, a few of the things he had said to me before I fled.
She took my details and did all the normal paperwork. Name address, safeguarding, mental health bits. Usual drill I suppose. Was I feeling suicidal? Yes, in short. That's one of the reasons I have started writing. In an effort to get this out of my system. I can do it on the laptop. If people want to read it and gain something from it then that's great. I can look at it again once I'm in a better place and (hopefully) see how far I've come.
Then, we got down to the "nitty gritty". Had he been physical? Yes. I explained that most of what he did was messing with my head. The cutting himself, the trying to stab himself in the stomach whilst I was sat on the bed with nowhere to go, left with no choice other than to watch. Being made to watch him cut his wrists in the front room, only to be told it was my fault and that I had driven him to it. The feeling guilty about seeing people. It got to a point whereby I would lie about not being able to go to social occasions to make him happy and I'd just end up sat on the sofa watching him play video games. I was a prisoner in my own home. I was no longer invited places. Friends stopped calling. When they did, I'd be listened to, watched or interrupted. I'd try and reach out to them, but I never told anyone what I was going through. What I didn't realise was that a lot of them had already figured it out for themselves.
To her, this all sounded so familiar. She wasn't taken aback by any of it really. She acknowledged it was horrible, but you could tell she had heard these sorts of things over and over again. I remember challenging his behaviour at the very end saying he was abusive, and he said: "No I'm not, you're just trying to get me to admit to it so you can have a divorce." We went through all these things for the best part of two hours. Things that I haven't told anybody. Why is it, it feels easier to talk to a stranger than it does to your closest friends and family about your deepest darkest secrets?
As an outcome, I've been referred for counselling provided by the council for survivors of domestic abuse which starts in October.
Shorter than the NHS waiting list I'm sure of that. I've been put forward for a 12-week program to learn about types of abuse and abusers so I am better equipped to spot it in the future and another 12 week program for recovery once that is finished. It left me begging the question: Why didn't I go sooner? I walked out of that building still feeling low, but, with a plan.
I got home and B had already got home from work. He asked where I had been. I just said "out". He smiled and said "OK." and that was that. But he found my appointment card for a couple of weeks time as I stupidly forgot I was given one and left it on my bed. He came up to me and just said:
"Well done, I'm proud of you."
He gave me a cuddle, kissed my head and carried on watching the deadline day coverage on Sky Sports and no more was said about it. Just an acknowledging smile now and again.
With the right support around, it does really help. I'm no expert. I'm learning just like everybody else.