It’s a force in my life, that in the last few years I have become wildly aware of, and one that I have seen in so many people, but where it comes from, I think is beyond just personal. There is one thing though that I am totally sure of, I might have been born with a kernel that grew, but I wasn’t born with the strength I have today. Without a doubt, it has carried me through the past 15 years, but started like all other forms of strength, because it was exercised and worked until it has reached the point where I am today. I’m almost sure, if you sat down all those people who you perceive to be strong and asked them if there had been a trauma in their earlier lives where their strength grew from, they would all answer yes.
I have made no secret that both as a child and a young adult that I was abused. Up to the age of 12, I had what I thought was a relatively normal childhood, including being bullied at school from the age of 6 to about 10. No, I didn’t turn on my tormenters or do anything that stopped them, other than I grew. In the space of a year, I shot up in height to 5 foot 6 inches, just three less than I am now. At that age, being tall translated to most as being physically strong, my tormentors backed off when they suddenly realised that I was taller than them. It did something else to me as well, I became not quite a loner, but one who gathered her friends from that select group who were also tall. We found that those who didn’t know us, treated us very differently, not quite, but almost as adults. It also sent me on a collision course with my father. I still don’t understand why, but I remember all too what happened. In some ways, I was lucky if you can call taking a beating that lands you in A&E, as luck. It was from there, though, that I escaped him. I had done something I had never done before, I had said no. I wasn’t until many years later that I told anyone what I had said no to, but I was free of him and I spent the next few years in safety, but it was all part of a trail of abuse that lasted nearly 14 years. They say that we all without even knowing choose men like our fathers. Well, when I married at 16, I proved that theory to be true.
So there is my trauma, a building one that combined mental, physical and sexual abuse. What all of them taught me, from the very first of being bullied, was to not fighting back physically, or verbally, as usually it meant it all ended the sooner. All I had to do was hide inside myself and let them do whatever, it was they wanted, and it would end. Fighting the mental abuse was far harder. I did whatever I could to avoid it, again, though, I protected myself by hiding inside and on the surface appeared compliant. Unlike the physical side, that one wasn’t quite so effective, as it took me many years to eventually break free and believe what I was telling myself. Just like my luck as a child, I again was lucky, this time, though, it was depression that was my savior. Just over half the way through our marriage I broke. I spent six weeks in a hospital, then I had two years of weekly one to one sessions with a psychologist. What she did for me, was to put everything in my past, where it belong to be and to make sense of so much that I just didn’t understand until then. I covered what had been happening with my husband, it’s amazing what you learn to cover up, after all of those years. She may well have worked it out, but if she did, she never said so, but to me, that was when I started to become truly strong. Up until then, the strength that I had was in small pieces scattered around all over the placed and I wasn’t able to draw on it, outside of the events that had developed them. Until then, bravado had been my only protection from the world, and as we all know that isn’t strength, it’s an act. I learned that I was worthy of life and that I was more than capable of surviving, but I wasn’t ready to put that into action. I stayed with my husband for another three years, half of which he was away at sea, but I was growing all the time, gradually working up to the day I would leave.
All the way through my early life my strength was tested. It frequently failed me, which made things harder, but when I did leave, I felt ten feet tall. I was 28 years old and I was reborn, that was exactly how it felt, that this was at last my life, not others, just mine. Over the next few years I proved to myself that I was a capable human and I wasn’t going to be treated like that by anyone, ever again. I made a couple of notable mistakes, but the difference was, I didn’t let it last, as soon as I recognised what was happening, I ended it and both, just made me even stronger. Clearly, this a pocket version, there is so much more that I could write, the death of my son, being raped and other events that played their part, other events that changed me, formed me and made me who I am. All of this, without a doubt, is where my strength grew from, but there are times when it alone isn’t enough, that’s when I draw on the one other source that I now have, love. The love I have for and receive from both Adam and my daughter, Teressa, that is the final cherry on the top if you like. My health has to work really hard to break through it all, and yes, there are times when it all fails, but I now have knowledge that I am and will always be strong enough to face whatever tries to destroy me. No matter what, my life is in my hands, nobody else’s.
When it comes to my health, well, the strength that life has given me, means that I won’t let it get me down, but it does win in other ways. No matter how strong you are, the things that chronic illness does to you, at time will always win. Life has taught me, that neither physical or mental pain, has any real power when you are confident about yourself and those around you. It gives me the determination to not let it win, and to not let it get me down. I am armed against it in so many ways, but I’m not stupid either, another thing life has taught me, is to choose your battles, that way, you normally win.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 08/05/2014 – Inner calmness
It time to stop looking on the dark side, yes I know that many of you will have thought that, but the reality is it was more my own way of reassessing where I am and how things have changed. The conclusion, well they have changed, just as I knew they had and I am still as always adapting to them. I have to admit that reading the posts from two years ago have really shown me just how much I have slipped down the progression scale, but that is the truth of my illness there is only one direction. I know myself if I had been shown this through a time machine just 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed how quickly I would deteriorate. I guess we all go around with blinkers on, telling ourselves we are fine and that nothing that dramatic could possibly ever happen in our lifetime, far less just a handful of years. I suppose that is no different to any of the other facts in our lives we have no control over, like getting older. None of us, despite…..