Sometimes we just bumble along from day to day thinking everything is just fine, or as fine as things can be, but recently something happened that has shaken me to the core. I moved to Cape Town for a year after a rather messy divorce and after the publication of my book LOOK ME IN THE EYE. Writing the book was really painful and emotionally draining. Once it was finished and I had done all the promotional stuff I felt that I needed to take my 'gap year' so I moved to the coast. For several months I must be honest I was in a complete daze. I had gone into so much detail with the book that all I wanted to do was sit around like a zombie and paint when I felt inspired.
For several months my daily routine was to spend several hours painting, perhaps go to the local supermarket to buy some groceries or take long walks on the beach .... just to think.... and cry... a lot. It was all going to be part of the healing process. I noticed though that every time I went out in public I would have the most awful panic attacks and often abandoned what ever I was doing to rush home in tears.
The months passed quicker than I realised and I knew that I would soon have to make a decision as to what my long term plans would be. I had been up and down to Johannesburg a couple of times and spent Christmas with all my daughters and grand children but that wasn't enough. I was really missing my kids a LOT. At the end of April 2010 exactly a year, I decided it was time to go back and be with my family.
The month of May I had every intention of dedicating my blog time, to my mother who passed away in 1991. I was so looking forward to sharing all the memories. But... I suddenly got flu, and oh my did I get flu. I was sick for the entire month of May. I am not someone who ever gets sick so I was very surprised but simply thought since I don't ever get sick it was perhaps only fair that I had my fair share of the worlds germs!
I couldn't paint or go to the beach so there was not much I could do except think. I suddenly realised that the thought of going back to Jhb, was more traumatic than I had thought and I went into the most awful decline, depressed, anxious, nightmares and complete trauma. Totally fed up with the PTS (Post traumatic Stress) I decided it was time to see a therapist. I was so concerned that I decided to see a psychiatrist, thinking perhaps I was never going to be able to shake the PTS and perhaps needed medication, which I hate. After several sessions she has diagnosed me with ANDROPHOBIA, can you believe that! I have never heard the word, but now that I know what it is, everything makes so much sense. She also said that because of this I have also developed a fear of socializing.
When will this all end! I am tired and really want to move on with my life, but fear of men has completely paralyzed me and I don't know how to deal with it. I am tired and life has been such a struggle that this is just one more thing to deal with .... and I sure as heck will.
My history and experience with men has not been great, but I don't see why I should live like a recluse. Recreating a new life after an abusive marriage, is not easy and this makes me think of all the women out there who are held captive by men, either husbands or worse kidnappers. I often wondered how someone recovers from being held a prisoner, but even though there were no locks on the doors in my home, this time on my own has made me realise that I have been a prisoner most of my life.
This is going to be an interesting time, and I have several things I need to do to enjoy my freedom. It is not going to be easy, but very necessary if I am to go back to Jhb and live in the same suburb as my X husband and all of his friends. I want to go back, walking tall and I don't want to have any fear of bumping into any of them.
I have been quiet on my blog lately because I have been trying to process all of this and it hasn't been easy. What do they say, one day at a time. I have taken the first step... and I will be seeing a male therapist recommended by the psychiatrist, on Monday. Male therapist ! I don't see a male doctor, bank manager, pharmacist, I always choose to see a woman. I honestly never gave it much thought before, but for years I have avoided men completely. Even though I was living with my abusive husband, I hid for hours and hours in my art studio, choosing to be with him as little as possible.
Because I have never heard about this phobia before I am going to share the symptoms here on my blog, just in case there might be one other person out there who might identify with me and not feel so alone.
In the last chapter of my book I speak of the reader joining me on my journey to heal and this is just part of it, so I am thrilled that I am almost there. The scars will always be there, but they pain has gone, except for when I am in male company, so watch this space, I am going all out now!