I was recently failed on my probation year as a teacher and after telling me I had failed, my headteacher offered that I could take my anger out on her. In the spirit of professionalism, I declined. Apparently there’s still a lot of anger bubbling around under the surface which I feel I need to vent somehow…
I lost my virginity at the age of 8 to a family friend.
By 14, I was in an emotionally, sexually and verbally abusive relationship. He raped me in front of his friends once “for a laugh”. The first time I got up the courage to leave him, he force fed me ecstacy and locked me in a garage overnight. I imagine a pitch black, cold and lonely garage is scary enough but when you’re chewing your own face off and creatures are crawling out of the walls to get you, it’s fucking terrifying. By the time I braved trying to leave him again I had so little respect or love for myself that he knew hurting me wouldn’t have any effect, so he made me watch while he burned his little sister’s arms with cigarettes. He punched his own mother in the face once because she stood up for me in an argument. He walked the ten miles from his house to my parent’s house once just to prove he would be willing to sneak out there one night and set the place on fire whilst my family slept. Finally, when he began turning up at school to shout threats through classroom windows about how he would slowly murder me, cut off my limbs and leave them strewn across a ditch, the police got involved. Measures were put in place for my safety, but I refused to receive emotional support because the wounds were far too fresh.
Amazingly I sat my exams and was accepted to university. I moved away from home, met new people and made new friends - a near miracle considering my excruciating lack of self confidence.
I vowed never to end up in a relationship like that one again, and although I avoided nasty men I replaced them with toxic friendships which left me psychologically exhausted. After the third midnight flit from yet another cruel and controlling flatmate, I sat down in a heap on the ground and cried so hard I psychically felt something inside of me snap and dissolve into nothingness. The nothingness consumed me for nearly two years. I was terrified of going to sleep because sleep taking over my body felt like life ebbing away from me and I was sure I was dying and would never wake up again. Waking up felt like digging my way out of treacle to gasp for air at the surface, only to discover the air was stale and musty and hurt my lungs.
I began to self harm and finally - FINALLY - it felt like I had emotions again. I would laugh manically as the blood appeared in the white outlines of my knife marks, because my poor brain was so addled it confused fear and pain and disgust with hilarity. My legs ached and stung and itched so much as the scars healed that it felt like physical feelings had all but replaced emotional ones, and that was enough for me because at least I was feeling something.
People associate self harm with teenage girls and suicide and I lost friends because they couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact it was the only way for a 22 year old with a Masters Degree to feel alive. I stopped finally, I began to read books again and sew things, losing myself in literature and creativity for the first time in a long time. I still felt fragile, I still didn’t trust myself not to hurt and hate myself. But I was slowly learning to live without that part of me which has snapped off and disappeared. I began to feel strong. I was conquering this! I was one of those people who had been through something awful and was coming out the other side stronger than before. But each day is still an uphill struggle. It amazes me sometimes I even get out of bed. But I do it because I love the children in my class so much it hurts. I have a passion for my job, for helping others, for making sure they feel loved and supported and protected because I know first hand what a scary world it can be out there.
I gave 110% and it still wasn’t enough. I was angry when I started this post but the more I think and the more I type, I realise that I am once again just exhausted. I feel like I have no fight left and all I really want to say to you is leave me be to nurse my wounds and start the journey of growing strong all over again. Maybe this time I’ll truly find my feet and have the strength to fight this battle for the last time.
Sometimes I’m a bit of a klutz and get confused so I rocked up for my CBT appointment 40 minutes early this afternoon. Thankfully, I often have a jumble of books lurking in my bag and decided to use the time to begin rereading The Southern Vampire Mysteries (I’m also rewatching True Blood; much as I love the books, a girl can’t say no to the visual treat that is Alexander Skarsgard). At the start of the first book Sookie gets into an argument with Sam about acting on impulse to save Bill being drained, instead of doing the sensible thing and calling the police or asking for help…. Strangely my CBT session revolved around my own issues with acting on impulses which often get me into stupid situations, such as self harming because I don’t know how else to deal with life - a satisfying short term solution but one with massive (and sometimes scary and confusing) ramifications for those around me. My CBT counsellor tried to explain to me that impulses are neither right but wrong, they just ARE, but some are better to act on than others. I see where she’s coming from, but why would your brain make you want to impulsively scratch the skin off your arms, or walk into oncoming traffic? Is it my illness or does everyone else’s brain tell them to do stupid shit like that and they are just able to better ignore it……?