Since when has an abusive relationship been romantic?

So I’m currently reading a historical romance novel, set in the early 19th century in England. And while I know that women back then had literally no rights (they either belonged to their fathers, or their husbands), this novel infuriates me at a level that few have done before (and the novel itself is a pretty good read, even though there are some mistakes like missing words).

It is one of those novels where a man meets a woman and decides that what she is doing is not right, so he stalks her and forbids her to continue (note: at this point, he is a mere stranger to her!). He repeatedly uses sexual assault to shut her up and to stop her from arguing with him, which (and that’s what infuriates me) makes her slowly fall in love with him, and want him. Like, wtf? Girl, he is forcing himself onto you, kissing you against your will while you’re angry at him, groping you without your consent, and you melt in his arms? Really?

So he manages to marry her (which, after they have been caught in above situation by her aunt and uncle, is what her relatives want anyway because she could be ruined otherwise), without her having as much as a say in it. She basically learns about the impeding marriage an hour before it is set!  And the worst part: She feels guilty that he “had” to marry her because of the situation “she” put him in–no, girl, he put himself into that situation, and he wanted you, so it worked out just fine for him.

During the short time of their marriage that we follow in the story, he orders her to stop worrying (about a death threat to her and her family, that she had tried to take care of before he entered her life), and gets angry when she finally brings it up again after a month(!) of not saying anything because he sees it as a sign she doesn’t trust him to keep her safe. He manipulates her into finally letting the topic go and handing back her pistol to him, her only way of self-defense, because she wants him to believe that she does trust him.

After a bad argument, she crawls into her own bed only for him to come storming in and forcing her back to his bed because he doesn’t want her to sleep away from him. During the night, she wakes up to find his side of the bed empty, so “of course”, she feels guilty and broken-hearted because she thinks he couldn’t stand staying in bed with her, that she made him flee their bed. So she tries to find him to make sure he still loves her, because she can’t stand the thought of losing him. Because she deeply loves him. Yep, after all that he’s done to her, she loves him.

She finds him and finally finds out his dark secret (of course, he’s a broken man that needs her to fix him, which she mentions to the reader will be her life-long goal from now on), the reason he behaved like a complete asshole towards her every time she asked about his childhood.

Later that night, he apparently has sex with her while she is sleeping (she didn’t know whether it had been a dream or reality because she never fully woke up). And she smiles at that memory. Seriously? Glorifying rape? He had sex with her in a situation where she was unable to consent, which is classified as rape, end of story! Even if it wasn’t illegal (her being his wife and so on) in the time the story is set, glorifying it in the story sets a completely wrong signal to readers! He. Raped. Her. And she was happy about it…are you kidding me?

Oh yeah, and then there was a situation where he completely misunderstood the situation (because, duh, why ask before jumping to conclusions?) and almost broke her wrist in his anger, making her scream out in pain, and a few pages later she thinks back to how she had been afraid he’d brake her wrist, but she should have known he’d never hurt her. Um, newsflash, girl, he just did hurt you! You screamed in pain because of what he did to you. Remember?

This whole relationship between the two, right from the beginning, is a classical example of an abusive relationship. He, the poor broken man that needs his wife to fix him, and whose asshole behaviour and abuse are explained away and forgiven because of his bad childhood, and whose wife fully believes she loves him and it is her fault if he treats her badly… I really wanted to punch this guy in the face, and then shake her and scream at her to run away from him, to wake up and see what’s really going on.

For the record: This type of relationship is NOT romantic, and is NOT healthy! And no, that is NOT love on his part, it is a need to possess her and to control her life.

Seriously, romance writers, STOP ROMANTICISING ABUSE!

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Guess what? I have a secret superpower.

Yep, that is basically what my doctor explained to me, in a nutshell (a geeky nutshell).

So it seems I’ll be doing Feldenkrais (a kind of yoga from what I understand) now. Doctor believes me and takes me seriously, and is working with me to get to the root of my problems. He’s 99% sure Feldenkrais will help me and solve most of my problems, and said to try it out for half a year. If not, I guess we’ll have to dig deeper, but if he’s that hopeful (and his explanations made sense), then I’ll be hesitantly hopeful too.

About that superpower part? According to him, my body developed a hypersensibility to what’s going on with it, so he’s in overprotection mode (since pain is usually a warning sign that something is wrong). It’s basically warning me before anything is wrong, to prevent me from getting something wrong. So if I put too much strain on my knees, for example, it will respond with pain and symptoms that people would normally develop much later, when the strain has caused real problems. Which would explain why, even if the pain and other symptoms last year matched an infection inside my knees, none of the actual signs of infection (warm to the touch, swelling, antibodies in my blood) could be found. Which would also explain why painkillers often don’t seem to work for me. My doc said I’d have to take a much higher dose of them for them to work against this warning pain, which would likely cause my body to respond in turn with every side effect imaginable since it wouldn’t like drugs in me either. So suddenly it makes sense why I know that painkillers will work against certain types of pain but not most of the others.

This would also explain why I went to doctors with real problems and then was sent home, frustrated, after they had told me that they couldn’t find anything wrong (graciously refraining from spelling out that they thought I’d made it up, or my problems weren’t real). This happened several times, which is one of the main reasons why I more or less stopped going to doctors at some point. Too much frustration without help.

Probably the best part about my visit with him today (well, apart from the fact that I now have a diagnosis and a solution that may just rid me of most of my problems if he’s right) was him actually saying that, of course, my pain and my other symptoms are real. Yes, even though he couldn’t find a physical cause in his examination (which also means my knees and back are still okay, apart from the scoliosis I already know about), he told me matter-of-factly that my pain is real. And that I’m not crazy.

It took me so long to try to get a diagnosis again because of all the times doctors dismissed me without answers, and now the solution to my problems might be as simple as learning Feldenkrais and doing yoga. All it took was a doctor to believe me and to look outside the obvious-physical-reason box. I already signed up for a Feldenkrais class, which started two weeks ago actually but will start tomorrow for me, so I’m still sceptical but hopeful that I’ll already feel better by the time Christmas comes around.

Oh, and you want to know just how badass my body is? He said part of the pain and symptoms I feel might just be the normal aging process, that normal people don’t feel until they start having actual physical problems. Yep, my body’s that badass. Now I just need to learn to use my superpower for my own good instead of letting it control me. Where’s Mr. X when you need him?

Life with Chronic Illness: Where are the very good days?

I’m currently (finally, I could say) seeking a diagnosis for problems that have been my companions for a long time, but haven’t yet been diagnosed. They are still there, even without a label attached to them, and they’re just as real. Tomorrow’s an appointment with a specialist about my knee and back problems, and I’m nervous because part of me is afraid of it being another waste of time (i.e. not being taken seriously, or brushed off and left alone without answers). The other part, who dares to hope for a good doctor and a diagnosis (probably not right away, though), is afraid of what the diagnosis might be.

What brought me to the point that I’m finally seeking a diagnosis? The realisation that my problems are not going away, and instead seem to be getting worse over time. And the fear that I might have to quit my dream job at some point if I don’t get help.

There are still good days. Good days are days when I’m not feeling tired all day, and when my exhaustion is not slowing me down mentally and physically. Good days are days when I’m able to go about my day without wanting to cry out in frustration, or in pain. Good days are days when I don’t feel too restricted by tenseness in my muscles. Good days are days when I don’t even think about pain killers. They are not days without problems. They are not days without feeling tired, or without feeling tense, or without experiencing pain. They are simply days when I can live a normal live in spite of all the problems.

And then there are very good days. Very good days are days without pain, days when I feel awake and can move without feeling tense or restricted. Very good days are also very rare.

And then there are bad days. A lot of bad days. And sometimes it becomes hard to remember how good days feel like, and it becomes hard not to confuse a random good day with a very good day, just because it feels so much better than some of the bad days.

As for very good days, there are times when I cannot remember how they feel anymore. There are times when good days are the best I can hope for, and pain becomes a constant companion. Pain, and feeling tired, and feeling tense. And those are the times when I wish I’d have a diagnosis, and some hope of getting better, and a doctor (or doctors) who understand me and who believe me and who know what’s going on with me, and most of all, who have a plan how to help me.

I want to remember the very good days. I want more good days than bad days, and I want very good days to be the best I can hope for, every day, and not be disappointed so often. I want good and very good days so I can be a better teacher for my students, and so I can be a better student, and so I can be a better cat parent, and so I can be a better wife, and a better friend. I don’t just want them for myself; I want them so that I can give more to others who are important to me. I want to share the very good days.

Be grateful for what you have, not apologize for who you are!

Probably the most important thing, personally, that I read on the Internet in the past year, has been this:

Don’t apologize for needing help, instead say thank you to the people who are there for you.

Don’t apologize for rambling, instead say thank you for listening.

I took the advice to heart. I stopped apologizing for being needy when I’m having a bad day, and instead started to thank my husband for being there for me and for taking care of me when I need it. And this simple change in communication also changed the way I perceive my situation. I stopped being so afraid that it might become too much for him, that he might, one day, leave me because of it, and instead started to really appreciate him for the loving and caring husband he is without questioning my value for him.

At the moment, I’m trying again to get a diagnosis. I’m making appointments with specialists, hoping to find doctors who will take me seriously and try to find the reason for my problems instead of brushing me off or treating the symptoms superficially. I’m also afraid: afraid that I will leave the doctors once again feeling frustrated and with just as many questions as I came, and also afraid of the diagnosis (or diagnoses) if they find the reason(s) behind my problems.

So I will probably need my husband to be there for me even more in the upcoming time, to hug me and to comfort me. And instead of worrying about how much he might resent me for being who I am (with all my health problems), I’m just very grateful and happy to have him by my side.

Thank you, hubby. I love you ❤

I’ll give a lecture at my university…

So, this is a thing, I guess.

vortrag-uni

How did it happen? And what on earth did I think?

Yesterday, I got an email from the professors inviting me to suggest (and then give) a lecture for this Kolloquium. They wrote to all students who are currently writing or have just finished writing their final thesis, no matter whether it was for a BA, an MA, or a PhD. And as I finished my BA thesis about my own conlang Kviglivok about a month and a half ago, I was one of the recipients. I responded, offering a lecture about the phonetic part of my thesis, namely “What does an invented language sound like?”

I don’t know how many conlangers had the opportunity to talk about their own language in front of a university class full of students of linguistics. I know Tolkien did, which means I kind of have very big shoes to fill, so to say.

I’m nervous. I have a full 90 minutes to fill with my lecture and a discussion about it. Can I get some encouragement in the comments, please?

Life with Chronic Illness: the good, the bad, the ugly–Today: Asthma

So while I’m writing this, I’m still recovering from an asthma attack–from laughing too hard. Yes, you read that right, laughing too hard, because, you know, I was actually enjoying something, caused me to start having trouble breathing. And when I tried to calm down my breathing, my eyes just spilled over. Have you ever tried to relax your breathing and throat while trying not to cry? Just don’t. Not a good choice to put on your bucket list.

Usually, my asthma is probably the one chronic problem that’s bothering me the least because I know my triggers (ha, ha, joke’s on me, just found a new one today), and they’re mostly easy to avoid: physical exercise (I’ve always hated running anyway, but it does make it hard to catch the bus sometimes), smoke (especially wood smoke, but cigarettes are bad as well), and sprayed chemicals (like deodorant–thank heavens for stick deodorants!). Cold air can lower the threshold of exercise I can take, as can “heavy” air (not sure how to describe it, I think it’s when there’s a high humidity).

Well, laughing hasn’t yet been on my list of things to avoid. Yet. Well, as much as I may dislike the thought, it might be time to visit a lung specialist again and check whether I need to be back on cortison on a daily basis. I celebrated when I didn’t need it anymore, probably ten years ago, after treatment for my allergies. Only have my emergency spray at home. Probably time for a check-up, though, as much as I hate visiting doctors (not because they’re bad but because it makes me feel like something is wrong with me, and honestly, because I’m scared shitless of some diagnosis methods and the treatments if they diagnose something, so I’m mostly trying to just get by without doctors instead of pushing for diagnoses).

Oh well, sent an email to make an appointment for a check-up.

The good in this episode? My loving and caring husband who made me a tea to calm down afterwards 🙂