I was always perceived at school as a pretty and intelligent girl who was confident and not scared to stand up for herself. The truth was I was shy and had very low self esteem. I constantly strived for approval from others and all I ever wanted was to be accepted.
I could never work out whether or not I was accepted and so I would do things that I would not necessarily do, and for that reason I have made some bad choices in my life. Nothing which has ended me in prison or anything but nonetheless, if I knew what I know now things would have been very different.
My mum and dad divorced when I was 10. I never thought it affected me until recently. I looked back at my life and realised I have been rather destructive to myself and in particular in relationships. My dad was not an altogether abusive man but on occasion was physically abusive to my mum. My mum was not an overall manipulator but could be manipulative. It is easy for me to see why they are not together now when I look at them both. They are both remarried and happy. Furthermore, they are all friends which is nice to see, though it has taken them twenty years to get there.
As I always wanted to feel accepted and wanted, I became sexually active at 15. By the time I was 17 I was pregnant, to a boy from school. He became abusive and manipulating and I let it all happen. Getting pregnant was actually the saving grace as it gave me the strength to end the relationship as I did not want my child growing up around this man. In short, he kidnapped me, he abused me both physically and mentally, he stole off me and he cheated on me with numerous other girls and even one of my ‘friends’. I did not know at the time but he was also an alcoholic and a drug user, who was also struggling with coming to terms he was bi-sexual. Not that this gave him the right to treat me in the way he did.
After I had my child I met someone who was doing well for themselves and was extremely good looking. He even helped me look after my child. At first things were great, we shared lots of great times. But eventually the relationship fell apart. He became very controlling and rather manipulative and I felt trapped. I was 22 but felt like 32 (I am 33 now and I felt older then than I do now!) I still see this man as he still has contact with my child and for that I will always be thankful. But what I had done was let another man look after me and do everything for me.
To be honest looking back I am not surprised I met someone else. Not only were there issues in my relationship with control generally taking each other for granted, probably due to the fact we were very young and not really knowing how to deal with difficulties in the relationship. Additionally, I found it extremely difficult to communicate with my partner. I am not suprised at this either. Although I’ve always known my parents loved me, whilst I was growing up I was not really told that they did. I never heard the words ‘I love you.’ When I lived with my mum and dad, dad occasionally did not come home. I remember me asking mum one morning whilst in the kitchen where dad was and she told me he had gone to work early. Even at the young age of 8 or 9 years old I remember thinking ‘he did nt come home’. If my mum and dad had problems then they argued. I remember a lot of bickering and sniping, but I do not remember them being particularly happy.
I guess then in some way I had been programmed not to deal with issues and to retaliate by pushing people away, because I believed they were going to leave anyway. With hindsight I now know that this is what happened with this man. I did my best to push him away, as this was a barrier I had put up as I believed he would leave anyway. I could not fully open myself up to love him and I could not believe that someone actually loved me for me. We are actually engaged to be married and had bought a house together. We had everything and could have had more. I kept all the photographs from family holidays we had together and looking at them the other day I broke down in tears as we were actually in love. The way we were looking at each other in the photographs was so extremely touching and it is for this reason that I have kept them as I want my child to have these so they know that we did love each other once. In fact, I believe we still love each other now, but things have changed and us as people have changed also. If I had the tools to salvage that relationship at that time then I would have done. But obviously it was not meant to be.
I jumped from that relationship into another which initially gave me the freedom and excitement I was so desperately looking for. Unfortunately it turned out to be an extremely bad decision, but this I will discuss at another time as this is a very long story in itself.
It was only after I had to make some very brave decisions and walk away from this relationship. It was one of hardest things I have ever had to do. But it was only then that I began to actually find myself. Since my divorce three years ago I left my job, which I had not been happy in for over three years. I enrolled to do a degree I had always wanted to do, and got work at a local charity. I had desperately wanted to do a job where I felt I was making a difference to people for such a long time. I am still single, I am still studying and I am the happiest I have ever been. I have also taken this time whilst I have been single to reflect on past relationships and behaviours, as well as life events such as my parents divorce. I understand why I have acted in the way I have. I have forgiven myself for some of the things I have done. I have apologised to the relevant people for the way I have acted and I am ready to move on. One thing I realised is as my mum never said ‘I love you’ to me as a child I constantly say it to my children. My dad says it to me all the time, and I can easily reciprocate, but until recently I could never say it to my mum. Not because I did nt, but because we just never had. But mum if you ever read this please know one thing, I do love you with all my heart and now I am older I know that the words do not always have to be spoken.
Over the last couple of years I have had many discussions with my parents (separately of course) and I can see both sides of their story. I have also accepted certain things from my childhood and forgiven and let go.
I know I am of worth. I know I have grown up to be a good mum, a kind hearted person who does not judge others and always try to see the best in them. I have ambition and know I will get there. It may have taken me longer than I would have first envisioned but I know that anything is possible and I will keep going until I get where I want to be. So for all of you who have experienced set backs, losses and difficulties never give up, keep going because you will get there, even if the journey is long. If you are not at the happy ending then you are not at the end 🙂