Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

On Being Legally Blind

A Q & A Interview with Stephanae McCoy

Stephanae McCoy kindly granted me this interview and spoke candidly about her journey on handling and dealing with the issues and problems that arose, prior to and following the diagnosis of being ‘legally blind.’     

Stephanae also manages a website to help others with advice to not only ‘celebrate beauty, fashion and style,’ but to also empower blind or visually impaired women to lead ‘fun, fulfilling and productive lives.’  See: Bold Blind Beauty                                                                                      

 

1. Can we go to the beginning when you were diagnosed as being ‘legally blind?’ How long ago was that?

I received my legally blind designation in the summer of 2009. This was the appointment where I was told there was nothing more medically that could be done to restore my eyesight.

2. Can you define what it means to be ‘legally blind?’ 

Sure, the term legally blind refers to the visual measurement one needs to meet the government’s criteria to receive government benefits. It does not define the level of functional vision a person may have.

3. How did you feel? Did you accept the diagnosis with equanimity; with rage; with resignation; with fear; or with acceptance?  

This isn’t an easy question to answer because, when you know there is a possibility things might take a negative turn, it’s different when faced with the actual facts. I didn’t feel anything for several days because I needed time to absorb what was said to me. After a period of time, I went through the stages of grief, sadness, anger, bargaining, etc. until I finally reached acceptance. It wasn’t a onetime type thing because my feelings evolved as I came to terms with my situation.

4. What symptoms did you have prior to diagnosis?

Unless there is an accident that causes immediate blindness, for most people being deemed legally blind isn’t typically a onetime appointment. There’s usually a process.

I began losing my sight four years prior to being told I was legally blind. The symptom began in my left eye and was only noticeable when my right eye was closed. It was a macular hole which meant I no longer had central vision in that eye until a surgical procedure later fixed the vision.

5. Have the symptoms worsened or been pretty steady in the years after?  

Cleveland Clinic, the folks I went to for second and third opinions, told me that because of my high myopia (severe near-sightedness), this was more than likely the reason why I developed macular holes. The nearsighted eye is long, thus the retina at the back of the eye becomes stretched, which can cause issues.

6. What steps or preparations did you take immediately after?

When the first macular hole appeared I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my eyesight, rather, I thought it was a side-effect of my new blood pressure medicine.

When I called my doctors the next morning, they advised me to contact an ophthalmologist immediately. I was given an emergency appointment. I felt a little bad for the eye doctor because he was so concerned about not being able to repair my eye. He told me there wasn’t anything that could be done to fix it. Apparently I still hadn’t understood the gravity of the situation but he referred me to a retina specialist (Specialist in Ophthalmology and one who also sub-specializes in surgery and diseases of the eye and retina).

As far as steps or preparations go, I only took things one step at a time. So when I went to the retina specialist and he explained he would do a vitrectomy (a surgical procedure where a gas bubble is injected into the eye, and then, the head has to be kept in a downward position for several days to weeks depending on the situation). Getting through each phase as it took place, was all I was concerned about. Getting ahead of myself by thinking I’d lose my sight wasn’t my focus, just being present while I had to go through each phase.

7. Please share the adjustments you had to make and feel free to recount as little or as much as you wish to share.

My main concern at the time of course, was my job and if I’d still be able to function at the high level I was accustomed to. Having to use a large monitor took some getting used to as was the ZoomText magnification software I used to enable me to continue using the computer. When you continue to increase the magnification the less desktop real estate you have to work with. It was frustrating not being able to see the entire picture and because I needed so much magnification, whenever I moved my mouse, the entire screen would move. Some of my co-workers were amazed I could use the computer without getting dizzy from all the movement.

Reading hard copy was another tough one, because, while the gas bubble was in my left eye and I was still able to use a contact in my right, it was real hard to focus on just about anything because I had this huge black blob moving around in my eye. When I began having issues with the other eye, I threw away all my books because I was so angry that I couldn’t read the text.

‘Makeup’ was challenging because I just couldn’t get close enough to the mirror to use some of the products I used for most of my life. Liquid eyeliner was quickly discarded as was some of my foundations because I couldn’t tell if I was blending appropriately.

Reading the label on new over-the-counter medications was a challenge, because now I had to rely on magnifiers but because some of the text is so small and the magnifiers I had at the time either weren’t strong enough or they made the text blurry.

Even things as simple as taking a shower suddenly became a challenge because I had to be careful watching my step.

Giving up driving was one of the most difficult things I had to do during this entire process. I was so used to calling my own shots, going where I wanted, when I wanted and most of all not depending on anyone. I still don’t like asking for help but it’s a learning process.

8. The learning curve must have been quite steep. Can you describe the hardest problem you have had to face?  

Except for work, the learning curve wasn’t too bad because my sight loss was a gradual process. Technology has always appealed to me so it was just a matter of transferring what I already knew into using different methods to complete tasks. I was more frustrated with not being able to see the faces of my co-workers, family, and even myself, it was scary just being unsure of my surroundings and learning to trust only what was immediately in front of me.

The hardest thing for me was admitting I needed to use the white cane. Not being able to see well was hard enough, but then to have to become so conspicuous was painful.

9. No doubt, you had to practice patience with yourself and with others. Do you have any sage advice in this regard?

I wish I did, but unfortunately patience is not my strong suit and that hasn’t changed. I get irritated but I keep on pushing until I get it so I guess that’s my advice, ‘to not give up.’

10. How did your children and other members of your family feel?

I felt bad for them because I think at first, we all thought this thing would just go away and I would be fully restored, but of course that didn’t happen. It sort of reminded me of the first ophthalmologist because it was out of their hands. There wasn’t anything anyone could do for me. But today they, as well as close friends of mine forget I can’t see well, mainly because I’m the same person. It does aggravate my sons when I get nervous as a passenger in the car, because my depth perception is non-existent but I can see brake lights when they come on and will be jumpy because to me it looks like we’re about to crash.

11. Have they been a help or a hindrance to you?

They forget I can’t see, so it can be a hindrance, especially, since I don’t like to ask for help. So when I do ask, it’s because it’s a last resort and sometimes, patience is stretched on both sides.

12. Can you share your difficulties in regard to your kitchen, food, layout and preparation? Are you able to cook?    

I don’t really have any difficulties in this area because I’m not a fan and never have been of the kitchen. I much prefer being on my computer, but I do use these fluorescent bump-dots on my stove and Keurig (coffee) machine. These are tactile adhesive bumps that I can put on dials and the off positions to ensure I don’t burn down the house.

Most of my difficulties happen when other people are at my place and they move things or use clear glass which I’ve since gotten rid of. For example if someone were to put a glass in the sink, I could break it not knowing it’s there because there isn’t contrast. Which brings me to the point that today, there are so many devices to assist blind people or visually-impaired people who love to cook. Like, I have a cutting board that is solid white on one side and black on the other, so it provides contrast to lessen the chance of me cutting myself. There are also cutting guides to protect fingers, oven rack guards to prevent burns to the arms when reaching in to remove hot dishes. Then there are brightly colored, large print/braille measuring cups, spoons and talking cooking-thermometers, timers, etc.

There are residential, personal-adjustment to blindness programs that take people through all aspects of daily living, from self-care, house cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc.

13. If so, do you cook ‘tried and true’ meals or are you adventurous in trying out new recipes? 

I’m definitely not adventurous and if I could afford it, would probably order in every day. Cooking has never been my thing, it was one of the things I told my ex-husband that I wouldn’t do and that was before I lost my vision. It worked out well though because he liked to cook.

14. How do you handle house-cleaning?

I suspect I’m not as OCD over housecleaning like I used to be, because I’ve decided to let some stuff go. Pre sight-loss, I was a germophobe and extremely fanatical about keeping my place spotless. While it might not be as spotless as I would prefer, I don’t worry about it, because my focus is on my advocacy and I realize at long last that I cannot be an expert at everything and I no longer want to be.

15. You take pride in maintaining your sense of clothing style. Has it been difficult for you? 

Because I’ve always taken pride in my appearance, this hasn’t changed. The only difficulty I have is in determining shades of color, but thankfully the color-identifiers are getting better and better every day. I don’t rely on them now because I try to keep my color palette rather neutral.

16. You have been so successful that you are generously helping others with advice on mixing and matching items in their wardrobe (@ Bold Blind Beauty ). Can you expand on that? 

After I lost my sight, then later had to rely on the white cane to get around, one of the things I noticed immediately is how people treated me differently when they saw the white cane. Many couldn’t understand why a person who appears to see would use a white cane. All they saw was an attractive, well dressed woman and the white cane just didn’t make sense. This is a problem! I realized I had a hidden disability that people couldn’t comprehend because to them I looked “normal.” My passion then set me on a path to change this thinking. We cannot simply look at a person and think we know their story. We are complex creatures and there is so much more to us than mere appearance. I’m saying all this to say, that helping others by sharing what I know from personal experience, in respect to style, is driven by the desire to change perceptions.

17. You are sharing your wisdom via the ‘world wide web,’ and are utilising electronic tools that many have not heard of. Can you provide some details such as: description of tools and their purpose; how much they cost approximately; where they can be purchased and your opinion on the tools?

If ever there were a time to be blind or sight impaired, today is it! With technology ever-evolving, there are so many tools at our disposal that we can do most anything that people with sight can do. I cannot get into all the specifics here, because that would be an entire post in itself. The tools I use don’t cost me anything outside of the original hardware purchase.

I use Windows built-in accessibility which consist of a narration and magnification software. My Galaxy Note 4, I’ve set up to use the largest font and it does have speech software built-in but I’ve not quite got the hang of it yet. With so many apps to choose from today I no longer needed my video magnifier because my smartphone can do everything a handheld magnifier can do. ZoomText by AiSquared is the magnification/narration program I used previously and it ranges from $400-$1,200 depending on the version.

CCTVs are monitors with cameras that magnify hard copy text.

Video magnifiers are handheld magnifiers that offer several levels of magnification, contrast and can even take photos for closer examination. The model I had was kind of clunky but the newer models are more-streamlined.

Scanners and text-to-speech, reader software such as Kurzweil allow the user to scan hard copy to the computer, to be read. This comes in handy for reading mail, articles, etc.

18. No doubt you need help to get to appointments, social functions and gatherings, shopping et al. Do you have designated drivers? How do you feel in losing your independence and having to depend on others?   

It was difficult giving up driving, but it was something I decided to do when I felt unsafe behind the wheel. Also, I wanted the decision to be mine and not a doctor’s, so I have no regrets in giving it up when I did. Sometimes, I still miss driving from time to time but it’s more of a fleeting thought, and I move on.

I do the vast majority of my shopping online because it’s so much easier and convenient. When I go grocery shopping, typically, one of my sons takes me and as long as I know the layout of the store, I’m usually fine on my own. There’s always those instances where I need something and I’m not sure where it is, but when I was fully sighted, I experienced this as well.

When I have to go to meetings or appointments, I typically use paratransit (special transportation service that can be used by people with disabilities) as I do not have a designated driver, although I’ve thought of going this route only because it would provide greater flexibility but on the other hand would be more costly. As far as losing my independence, I had to refocus my thinking to what I am able to do vs. what I could do prior to my sight loss. For me this boils down to choice and I choose not to view myself as dependent. Everyone is skilled or deficient in some manner and I choose to promote my strengths.

19. How do you shop for outfits?  

I never liked shopping at the mall or trying on clothes, so buying clothing online has been a godsend to me. For some items, I’ll buy the same thing in two different sizes, knowing that I’ll return one and keep the other. My only regret is that this option wasn’t available years ago. Shopping from the comfort of my home is the BEST!

20. What do you miss most in ‘not seeing fully?’ 

Initially it was frustrating because I missed seeing everything. But as time went on and I was able to adapt, I really don’t think about what I miss because I’m so grateful for what I have.

21. Akin to the adage of ‘it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all’; do you feel it is better that you’ve seen the beauty of scenes and life prior to losing part of your sight?  

I was always grateful for the eyesight I had prior to losing it, and when I put everything in perspective, my sight was always very poor. I was just fortunate enough that it was able to be corrected for many years. Each year that I received a new prescription, I would take a moment to soak up everything my eyes could clearly see and just marvel at the beauty all around me. I don’t know that I would say I feel better for having seen prior to sight loss, but I am grateful.

22. Are you still able to watch and follow a story on television or at the cinemas?

I can watch my TV if I pull a chair up next to it but even then I have difficulty so I prefer to watch TV programs or Netflix via my tablet, because I can view it closer than the television. It’s very seldom that I go to the theater but when I do, most of the time, I use the *Audio Description headsets which describes the action during the film. This device is not widely known and people may have to ask for them when they go to the theatre.

*For Australian patrons: Fortunately these devices are complimentary and also available in most Australian cinemas.

23. Are those who are ‘legally blind’ able to hold a job, and if so, what fields would you advise them to enter?  

This is a question I’m deeply passionate about, because not only can people who are identified as legally blind or partially-sighted hold a job, this includes people who are totally blind. The myth that people who are partially sighted or totally blind cannot hold a job is a total untruth. In answer to what fields, I don’t feel qualified to give advice in this area except to say, ‘find your passion and pursue it’. No one is an expert at everything! With the exception of being a driver or pilot, sight or lack of sight has nothing to do with being able to hold a job.

24. Are you fearful of the future or feel prepared to face it?  

No more than I was prior to my sight loss. I didn’t know what the future held then and thankfully I don’t know what’s in store, but I’m eager to continue living and doing what makes my soul shine.

25. Do you have any advice for anyone facing a ‘legally blind’ future?

Focus on the here and now! No one knows what the future brings. There is a time to mourn loss but there’s also a time to live and that time is now.

© Wendy Robinson  All Rights Reserved
February 26, 2018

My sincere thanks go to Stephanae McCoy of Bold Blind Beauty for accepting my request to interview her and for giving this insight (excuse the pun) into the challenges of dealing with the onset and aftermath of being legally blind.

We are all faced with challenges at some point in our life. Challenges that happened beyond our control. The difference is how we respond to these challenges. You can adopt the attitude there is nothing you can do, or you can see the challenge as your call to action. ~ Catherine Pulsifer

 

Zoe’s Testimony

When I approached Zoe for a Q & A in-depth interview, I was quite prepared for a polite ‘no’ as I knew she was sensitive about the whole psychological abuse experience (See: https://wendyswrittenwords.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/your-muse/). Imagine my surprise and delight when she wholeheartedly agreed to it! I also told her we could skip questions she did not want to answer if it was too painful but she bravely answered them all.

Underlying this testimony is Zoe’s wish to help other women to recognize the signs and to find the courage to seek help as soon as possible.

Zoe has come to recognize the change in herself and is thrilled at how far she has come. I will admit, by asking specific questions, I, myself, learnt even more than what Zoe had previously shared with me. Bouquets to Zoe and I’m sure you will join me in applauding her for her brave stance and her candid and open responses.

Let me be clear on this: Zoe’s husband never physically hurt her (although he came close once) but, while isolating her from her loved ones, he mentally and psychologically abused her. He eroded the confidence of this smart woman and her ability to think for herself.

In respect of White Ribbon Day’s 16 Days Of Activism, I have asked Zoe 16 questions about her abuse.

  1. Could you give a brief scenario on how you met your husband and how long you courted before you got married?  I met my ex-husband 18 months before we married. On hindsight I should have seen the danger signs but as they say love is blind. I saw the very attentive attention as ‘love’ and not as a sign of a total control-freak. The controlling behaviour was a very slow process and as he always had a good answer if I ever challenged him, I just accepted it. On reflection I feel my professional status, working in the nursing field, worked against me and to his advantage as I looked for the best in him and always made excuses if need be. I also didn’t recognise the slow process of alienating me from my friends and family.
  2. Did you notice anything untoward that might have given you an inkling of his nature prior to your marriage or soon after? On hindsight, perhaps! Prior to our marriage, he was very protective and attentive; he would telephone, for example, if I’d been out to the gym, with friends or family, checking to see if I got home safely and would often ask intrusive questions. But it came over as being caring and just making sure I was okay. This was to be the trend for anything I wanted to see, places I wanted to visit or attend on my own, and even seeing my own sons and mum. Following the marriage the behaviour became more controlling! He went absolutely maniacal when I said on one occasion that I had been asked to go on a hens’ night for one of my good friends. This resulted in screaming bouts, saying I was being unfaithful in wanting to go on the night out. Immediately after, his behaviour changed and he became conciliatory and gave examples of the unacceptable behaviour of women out on such occasions; the motives of men towards these women and how vulnerable I was and how he was being caring only as a husband would be. He was convincing and manipulatively clever and of course I didn’t go.
  3. When in the marriage did he suggest you move overseas, away from all the people who love and care for you? Initially, he wanted to migrate to New Zealand. The move to Spain was a couple of years before I retired. We’d had many holidays on the Basque Coast, Spain and back then, he was always calm and fun to be with. He claimed that his dream was to move to Spain where it was calmer and more family-friendly and to engage in the Spanish way of life. It would also be fun to have our friends and family visit. We did move but the discussions of how our life would be, was just talk as he resisted friends and family visiting; monitored my telephone calls to family and friends; wouldn’t engage in the Spanish way of life and was very resistant to me trying to converse with our Spanish neighbours. His view point was that they should speak English and if they couldn’t, it was their problem. I was now becoming isolated!
  4. This is a pattern that psychologists speak about: a common pattern used by a controller to isolate a person. When did you first notice his controlling methods? I think I was always aware in the back of my mind and recognised his controlling behavior and his intention to isolate me but because he was so clever and always had a justifiable answer for everything, I would excuse it or overlook it. Here is a perfect example: After our marriage, we always ended up having Christmas on our own. He made sure it looked like I was having a holiday but the reality was, it was self-catering so there was no difference but just in a foreign country and well away from family and friends.
  5. Can you define or give three examples of his methods of control?  Quite easily! He would stop me seeing my sons and mum on my own; stop me meeting up with girl friends for coffee, lunch or a drink outside of office hours; monitor my phone calls to my family and even Skyping my family when we lived in Spain. If, for example, I mentioned I was having lunch with a work colleague, he’d ring me with some excuse that we needed to meet up at lunch time and I would end up cancelling lunch with my colleague. He would also criticize me when planting plants in the garden or pots or even when using a hose pipe as he would say that I didn’t know what I was doing.
  6. When did you start to fear him? We were invited to a BBQ with friends, but my girlfriend just didn’t know the ratio of vodka to coke so with all the fun and the food, my friend and I ended up drinking a bottle of vodka between us. The next day I was totally out of it but my friend’s partner came to our bungalow and apologised unconditionally and said it was my friend’s fault. This just wasn’t good enough for my ex-husband! After my friend’s partner left, he went into an uncontrollable rage, calling me a ‘piss head and a slut’ and saying it was all my fault. He then took some of my clothes and most of his clothes out of the wardrobe, took them into the garden and threatened to set fire to them, to teach me a lesson. I just cried and promised I’d never ever do anything like this again. He didn’t burn anything! But afterwards, if I ever had a glass of wine, he would remind me that I was to limit myself to just one more. He would justify his warnings by saying that it was all my fault and that he wouldn’t need to be like that if I behaved more responsibly and put him first.
  7. Did you know that you were pandering to his abuse?  Yes I think I did! It was all a combination of recognizing his behavior; thinking I was in love and thinking I could change his behavior.
  8. How long did you endure his abuse? I guess from the beginning if I’m honest about it, but love is blind as they say. I finally woke up and recognised what was happening. It was following a chat with my youngest son that I finally acknowledged that the way I was being treated was not normal. I was pandering to my ex-husband’s behavior and as a consequence, his controlling methods were continuing at my expense.
  9. When did you decide or realise that it was abuse? When we moved to Spain, his behavior changed dramatically! This was the wakeup call and I started keeping a daily diary because I recognised that there would come a point when I would need evidence to substantiate exactly how life was and how controlling he was. I still have those diaries!
  10. Did you try to contact your family at any time in that period? Contact with my family slowly diminished but I didn’t recognise that fact at first. It was so very sad on reflection. My ex-husband monitored all my calls and I didn’t have a mobile until I went to University. He probably, on hindsight, gave it to me to keep track of where I was.
  11. What made you decide to end the abuse? I kept thinking I needed to escape from the intolerable situation but each time something would happen and I would keep making excuses. Sunday morning March 8th however, was the turning point!

My ex-husband received a telephone call from his daughter and, although the conversation was nothing out of the ordinary, he moaned about the vegetable garden and plants. When the conversation finished he just turned and stared at me. He started screaming like never before! The veins in his neck stood out; his eyes were wide giving me such a scary look and his voice was clear and precise. He knew exactly what he was doing! He started screaming how much he hated me; he should never have married me; I was a bitch, ugly, not sexy or attractive anymore; that no one in their right mind would ever want me; he was angry that he was stuck with me and wished he had never come to Spain, let alone married me. His rant just went on and on and on until he was exhausted. I was extremely scared and frightened in the pit of my stomach and although I wanted to scream back and wanted to vomit, I just, as per usual, said nothing. I knew the next 24 hours would be hell in having to look over my shoulder and having to walk on egg shells. The following day, as is the pattern, he was calm and polite and life was kind of back to normal.

He decided in the afternoon that he wanted to go out for a drive, so that’s what we did. It was during the drive when I asked him if he hated me and whether the things he had said the day before, was how he felt. This was my normal patter! I guess it was my way of allowing him to make amends while also blaming myself and thinking the situation had to be all my fault and that I had driven him to it.

This time however, he did not pretend to make amends or say that I was mistaken about what he meant. He said, ‘yes,’ he meant every word he had said and, ‘yes,’ he hated me! It was the turning point….like seeing the light! My marriage was now over and I decided that there would be no more second chances.

12. What did you do? I told my youngest son, my only confidant at the time, and his advice was to plan my escape. He warned me that if I stayed, my ex-husband’s continual, emotional abuse would either destroy me emotionally or destroy my spirit, psychologically.

Planning the escape then became my main priority and it was essential to keep patient and have a proper plan in place. My freedom and my future was now in my own hands!

So, while I planned my escape, I also contacted a bi-lingual solicitor and she advised me to set the divorce action in motion immediately. I had to forestall her as I warned her that this would place me at mega risk if he had any inkling of divorce proceedings. She understood and accepted it and she supported me all through it.

13. How was the situation after your decision to escape? My home life became more intolerable. His behavior was now becoming less acceptable and I no longer could live with a control freak.

Here is an example of how he would behave if things didn’t go his way. He would throw himself on the garage floor, performing just like a spoilt child, by kicking his legs into the air and thumping his fists on the garage floor while screaming at me. All of this because he couldn’t get his own way and I wouldn’t do what he wanted me to undertake.

14. How did you plan your escape? As my sons would proudly state, I did the great, ‘Houdini’ by disappearing. I took the greatest of risks when I walked out while my ex-husband was in the garden. I walked out wearing old clothes, putting my pc and important documents in an old shopping basket. I put rubbish in a black garbage bag and told my ex-husband that I was taking the rubbish out to the recycling bin. On leaving the property, I quickly phoned a taxi and asked to be taken to the railway station, which I felt, was a safe escape route. I telephoned my son from the taxi and he cheered me on with, ‘Great mum and keep your head down! Come to London and I will look after you!

For 11 weeks my son slept on the floor while I slept on his bed. During that period, my ex-husband telephoned, threating to commit suicide; burn the house down; come to find me; but then he would act conciliatory by saying he would change and would let me live the life I wished to. All total crap…. he just wanted me back to control.

15. Can you give 3 examples of the psychological affects or trauma that followed after you left? Where do I start! There are so many examples!

  1. Example 1. Following walking out on my ex-husband, I returned to the UK and stayed in London with my son for the initial 11 weeks. I badly wanted to go and see my mum and physically show her that I was safe and just to have a cuddle, but I couldn’t risk it. Even if my son accompanied me, I knew my ex-husband would be nearby just waiting for my return, and that he would then follow me back to London and I would be in acute danger. This was psychologically traumatizing.
  2. Example 2. My new partner (whom I met years after) and I were just having a quiet drink together one evening when I accidently knocked a glass of white wine off the coffee table. I ran to the kitchen returning with a cloth and while on my knees trying to clear the mess, I kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please don’t shout at me! It was an accident, please don’t shout!’ My whole body was shaking and I couldn’t stop crying. My partner was bewildered and shocked and then came to sit by me to reassure me. This however made it worse as I thought he was getting ready to really explode. But he just spoke very calmly and slowly and when I regained some composure, I explained everything. He was horrified! It took me a couple of days to recover.
  3. Example 3. I had arranged to meet my partner after work as we were going to meet up with a friend in the city. It was our friend’s birthday and we had planned to eat and then go to the theatre. However, on arriving at the station, I took the wrong exit and got completely lost. I went into an uncontrollable panic as I knew we would be late. The more I tried to find my way, the worse it became. I was getting so stressed but I didn’t want to phone because I thought my partner would get mad with me. It was the old behavior pattern of fear, but eventually I had no choice and rang my partner. He just calmly asked where I was and directed me to his place of work. My stomach was just turning over and over while I waited for the rant, the screams, the throwing of the present etc., but nothing happened and I was instead, cuddled while he called a taxi and we met our friend. We had our meal but I just couldn’t understand or cope with the calmness and not being shouted at. It was all getting too much! I remember saying as the meal finished that I needed to go to the ladies, where I just vomited and vomited while shaking from head to toe. I couldn’t cope with the calmness and the serenity, and I was in total dread of the anticipated back-lash later. It was only on the following day that I told my partner and this was traumatic because I just didn’t know what his reaction would be. What a little dreamer he is! He was angry with my ex-husband but very reassuring with me and he made me feel safe. Once again, it took a couple of days for me to settle down and accept that life was ok and I was safe.

16. What advice would you give another woman who may or is already going through what you did? Advice here is really difficult because, when you’re in this situation, I feel that the only person who can save you is yourself! However, when you do make the decision to leave and follow it through, that’s when you’re most at risk. That’s because he no longer has control and that’s the very thing he wants and needs and he will do almost anything to try to haul you back into the web. He desperately needs to be seen as the stronger one and you the weaker one. What I have learnt is that I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been and I will never allow anyone to manipulate me ever again. I’m a whole person now and I appreciate life, love, friendship and freedom more than I have ever done in my life.

My ex-husband no longer has any hold on me, either emotionally or psychologically! It’s all in the past and yes, I’m one of the lucky ones!

Answering these questions has in a way finally closed the door! Why? Because I have beaten him at his own game. I’m a totally free person in my own right. – Zoe

© Wendy Robinson December 2015

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

My thanks go to Zoe for having the courage to share this with me and for agreeing to share it publicly.  

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