For the past couple of months Frank and I have been attempting to train HRH, at the grand old age of 12, how not to wet the bed. It has not been possible any earlier, for a number of reasons. He has no self-motivation, although he hates if anyone finds out that he wears ‘nappy pants’. So for two months we have set the alarm and made him go to the loo at 11pm, 3am and 7am. Add to that my recovery from the op and you have a recipe for a slow but steady slide into perpetual tiredness. This is bound to affect one’s emotional state, too. Enough is enough. I’m calling it a day on this malarkey until we can talk to the paediatrician again. The appointment is due fairly soon.

Anyway, the creeping tiredness was just one of the factors in my emotional state this afternoon. Lack of sleep has meant my progress with my TMA is slow. I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight and the hope that tomorrow I might be more awake! Yippee!

Anyway, I got to the point where I knew that another reason for the perpetual tiredness was the light seeping in the window at 4am, causing me to be more wakeful. I realised some curtains would be better than the current venetian blind, but after spending time looking on ebay, and avoiding Frank’s suggestion when in the shop today that we ‘have a quick look at curtains’, I realised

I don’t know how to buy curtains.

 

Or shoes.

 

Or clothes.

 

Or any of the other stuff that for so long I never had the option to buy or not to buy. I remember once my ex-husband hitting me because I bought a bowl for £1. Or when I was clever with the food money and over three weeks ‘saved’ £2, and bought a plastic table for the children. He smashed both it and me. And then said I could ‘have’ the damaged table which would serve as a reminder for ‘what I had done’.

The vast majority of the time before I met Frank, I became so used to ‘making do’ that if you now put me in a shop stuffed full of beautiful things, I just feel anxious and helpless and angry (I feel this way in other people’s houses, too). I know I usually don’t need any of them and that causes me to feel utterly conflicted. A new pair of shoes usually results from the last pair having pretty much fallen to pieces. Clothes are usually second-hand, often old. If new, they’re ‘bargains’ or seconds, from the cheapest shops, or from ebay. I have quite a few items of clothing from the 90s, when I was a teenager. Frank has gradually been persuading me that it’s ok to throw out such old clothes. He tries to tempt me by taking me into TK Maxx, etc., but I find it so difficult. It brings back so many conflicting emotions.

This afternoon, the comment about having a look at curtains came after another, innocuous comment about ‘so-and-so couldn’t stand being at home’ (meaning so-and-so hated being a stay-at-home-mother and ‘went back to work’).

That comment slammed into me like a heat-seeking missile. When I was 21, my ex-husband, who was also my first boyfriend, persuaded me away from my college course, with its prospect of university and a good career, and coerced me into marriage (six months after we met) and having a baby as soon as possible (I was pregnant within two months of marriage) because ‘he was desperate to be a father’. I cried for two days when I found out that I was pregnant. By the time I was 22, I had become his virtual slave, as well as mother, with no support, of an autistic child (of course the diagnosis of autism did not come until later).

When Frank made the throwaway comment I was almost physically winded. A hundred thoughts suddenly raced through my brain:

‘I never had the choice about staying at home.’

‘Some of us just have to get on with it.’

‘I’ve never had the same as other people – does this mean I don’t matter?’

When other people take things for granted, and you have not been able to take the same things for granted, you begin to think it is because you aren’t worth the same as them. I have fought hard on my road to recovery and healing to escape these emotions. At that moment, they all came flooding back.

When I was a single mother, of course I was also ‘carer’ to a severely disabled child. Although I was no longer under the dictatorship of my ex-husband, there was no way I had the choice to do anything to ever change my situation. My son’s autism wasn’t ever going to go away. I was one of those ‘single mother benefits scroungers’ and I had no choice about that, either.

The trouble is that these thoughts set off a whole load of other thoughts, not directly related, but all part of the same heaving turmoil. Round and round, until I reached the same conclusion I always reach, sooner or later:

I’m no one.

I have no identity other than wife and mother. Zoё exists to take care of the children and the housework. Most of Zoё’s time is spent at home, alone. When Zoё is not alone she is with her family. No one outside the family would miss her, or even notice much, if she was gone. Society views her either as a leech, for being a housewife, or useless, because she has few qualifications and has not had paid employment for many years. Zoё has no value.

Do you know what it feels like to be told, first by your abuser when you are a child, then by your abusive husband, and then by the society in which you live, that you have no value?

I’ll leave it there, for now. I’m heading off to bed. I will continue tomorrow because there is a lot going round my head.

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