Since starting this blog just over a month ago so much has changed for me. I was really rather broken and damaged, both physically and emotionally. I couldn't see beyond a day at a time and if I'm honest with myself I didn't want to. Everything seemed so dark and gloomy, and I couldn't see any light. I can now. My confidence was at an all-time low, and I was struggling to see my worth or what I have to offer.
I've struggled with my confidence for many years. This goes back to my youth where I spent my formative years aged 13 to 20 with a guy who controlled, beat and abused me on a regular basis. He belittled me constantly. Turned me against my family and friends and created a world where I would never find anyone better than him and nobody would ever want me. So I do have times of severe self-doubt. I worry that I'm not good enough, and I have huge body confidence issues.
I was very slim back then but endured years of being told how fat and ugly I was. It's a painful thing to hear but as time goes on you believe it more and more. I stopped eating for many months. My hair and nails started to fall out, and I looked as ugly as he said I did. My weight dropped to 9 stone and for someone who was almost 6ft tall that is not healthy. Nobody knew what was happening. My parents suspected I was being hit but the more they tried to get me away from him, the more I believed what he said. That my parents hated me. I constantly defended him.
I left home at 16 as life with my parents had become unbearable. The constant rows because they were just trying to do the right thing, and I was too stubborn to see, resulted in me leaving my safe comfortable family home and moving in with him. I had to quit college and my A-levels to get a job to support us both as he never worked. The abuse became worse then. I've told friends and family bits about what happened. I never told my husband the full extent, although he saw the photos sometime after we got together of the last lot of injuries I incurred. He was appalled and it made him sick. Fortunately he was the complete opposite of what I'd experienced before.
Some people saw bruises at the time, but it was just clumsy me. Nobody saw what was happening inside as I did my usual and smiled and laughed. I developed a coping mechanism. No matter what he did to me, I refused to cry or fight back. I refused to let him see how much I was hurt. I simply stood or laid there, motionless and emotionless, and took it until I either blacked out or he stopped. The emotional abuse was harder to endure. The name-calling, making me point out men I thought were attractive, then hitting me because I had looked at someone else. Him making up wild accusations about my family and friends trying it on with him. Cheating on me as he said he could get better and many more cruel things.
I don't know where the strength came from to end things for good, but I found it. I was 20 years old, he had beaten me so badly I suffered a broken nose, several broken ribs, a broken ankle and numerous bruises, cuts and bite marks. My face was swollen and bruised, so I didn't recognise myself in the mirror. I was taken to hospital, and it was there I made the decision enough was enough.
I met my husband a few months after, but it took awhile for us to get together. I was scared. He showed me the true meaning of love. He never abused or raised his hand to me. He built me up, supported and encouraged me, and I was lucky enough to have that until he passed away.
People say that I'm strong for what I've experienced. An abusive relationship as a kid, cancer in my thirties, widowed aged 41, a mini stroke 7 months after losing my husband and both my children being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within the past 4 years. I certainly have all the luck! I am not writing this for sympathy. I hope my experiences can help somebody else. There is always someone who is going through worse times.
I am not strong and the past few months have shown me that, but I am not and never will be a victim! I have survived abuse! I am almost 8 years cancer free! I have experienced love and loss.
People ask how I do it. The answer is I have to. I have chosen to live and not let my past define me, although it can come back to add insult to injury. The past few months have bought some old scars to the surface, and I'm trying to mend my heart, but I will get through it. I guess I sat there several weeks back at my lowest point thinking why me! Why do I always seem to have bad things happen? Why does everything feel like a struggle? Why can't I just be happy? I slipped into a spiral of self-pity which just made me feel worse.
So after my wake up call on my birthday and along with all the other things I've been doing over the past few weeks to lift myself, I have been reading about mindfulness and Laws of Attraction. It was something I was introduced to after my husband died, and I found it really useful then. I had put it on the shelf so to speak, but I am revisiting and again it is helping me to relax, deal with my feelings and emotions and start to think positively again about what I want from life.
I have also been scrutinizing myself and one thing that keeps coming to my mind is forgiveness. I have never once got angry about what life has given me. I hold no resentment or hatred to anyone who has hurt me. I forgive easily. Some would say too easily and that I'm a fool. There is only one person I couldn't forgive and that is me. I have had so many regrets and held onto a lot of guilt. I regret the way I treated my parents when I was younger. I can only imagine as a parent myself what I put them through. I felt huge guilt over my brother. He idolised my ex, as a kid of 10 would. My ex also introduced my brother to drugs, something I've never done, which resulted in my brother battling a heroine addiction for 20 plus years, that has caused so much pain and I feel so responsible for.
I feel guilt over the time I wasted when my husband was alive, things I should have said and done that I put off. Also regret for not telling people how I feel or expressing myself clearly because of my fear of showing my weakness. I held on to the thought that if people could see my weakness they would know how to hurt me. Some of those people are no longer here, others are but unfortunately I'll never get that opportunity. I have however started to write letters. I cannot post them, they will never be received, but I can finally say what I needed to say. They are written in a book along with my poetry. No one will see them but me. It's not the same I know, but it has helped. Maybe I can start in time to forgive myself.
My confidence has taken a boost recently. My other blog has been picked up by a large UK dating site, and they have given me a page on their website, just for my blog. I have been completely blown away with how my daft writing has been received. I've again pushed myself further out of my comfort zone by promoting my page. I don't do self-promotion well and struggle to see why people like what I've written, but they seem to. I have approached numerous groups, pages and people to help share my writing (as I've been advised to do), and have had to do this as myself without hiding behind a picture. That alone has been quite scary. I have made a few new friends along the way who are supportive and encouraging and are adding value to my life.
I have started to walk tall. Head up looking forward. I know that I'm not perfect. I have many flaws, but I'm learning more and more each day about me. I'm beginning to get the hopeful realistic optimism back.