The human survival spirit is nothing short of miraculous, and Claire’s story is a stark reminder of this. Sometimes it takes being broken over and over again until we are finally forced to stop running and accept the help we need. In that there is no shame, in fact as Claire found, there in lies the very reason to be proud. Claire’s incredible journey through not only surviving trauma and abuse but now thriving because of it depicts exactly what #EmergingProud aims to demonstrate; that however bad things can get, there is always hope of transformation.
Ultimately, as Claire so eloquently says, the only way through the pain is to let it be painful…
(*Trigger warning* overt violent behaviour)
I am sat writing my story whilst looking out over my beautiful, sunny garden. My faithful furry friend Iris is laying at my feet, snoring and content. I am finally happy and at peace. Iris was a rescue dog, but I was most definitely her rescue human, and there is no doubt that we saved each other.
10 years ago, it was a very different picture, although, strangely, there was an element of peace. Later, I read that that feeling of peace was the fight or flight instinct kicking in, with an almost overwhelming amount of adrenalin flushing through me, that acted like a buffer against the violence being inflicted on me. The ‘kill her, kill her’ chants of around 20 young, drunk and drug-frenzied girls sounded muffled now, the repeated kicks to my body and head, pairs after pairs of feet taking running jumps and landing on my head trying to crush it, insults and laughing fading in and fading out. I even heard a couple of boys who were just passing, asking one of the girls who I was, then saying ‘give me a go’ before kicking me in the head a few times. “Nice to meet you too! Thanks for helping!” says my saviour and friend – my own gallows humour, which has long since been one of my own trusted survival tools.
Looking back, it’s all so vivid still. I was in a high state of alert, but didn’t stand a chance against this frenzied gaggle of girls. I had an eye condition at the time, that needed specific eye drops that would be difficult to get if lost. While my body and head were being kicked and broken, I just focussed on those eye drops and not letting them go, because it was going to be so painful if they were taken! I was in my own bubble. A strange bubble of peace, protecting me from the horrific reality. And then someone very heavy jumped on my head with both feet. Right there, right then I thought that was it – I am worthless enough to be killed for nothing. The reality that I was about to die broke that bubble of peace. Then, suddenly, flashing lights and the girls scattering in all directions, and my visceral reaction just to run and hide. It was over, and I was still alive.
I would rather go through all that again than have to go through what followed. A 9-month court case that emotionally exhausted me and a new boss at work that was intent on getting rid of me by bullying and humiliating me almost daily. I did not see how vulnerable I was at that time and I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I just took it and focussed on my job, which was all I had left that made me happy. I must have broken a very important mirror at some point in my life, because the next 7 years were above and beyond just simple bad luck. I attracted in people that used me for their own gain, but when I stood up to them they beat me down harder. I pushed any friends I had away, I took up binge-drinking to numb the pain and convince myself of happy times. The job I loved became a chore and, even though I was still performing and achieving, the bullying and humiliation left me feeling worthless, alone and completely cast aside. I was in constant high stress. So many horrible things happened to me over that time and I just became completely alone, empty and dead inside. I was struggling with Post Traumatic Stress, while being subjected to more through sustained bullying at work and abuse from strangers. There was a questionable encounter that, when laid bare I would say constitutes as rape. I was conned, beaten, robbed, drugged, attacked (I assume anyway as I woke up in someone’s bin shed covered in bruises to the face) and threatened to be murdered (another lucky escape). I was 2 people. One in pain and one fronting that all was well.
SEVEN years of it. Was I stubborn or strong?! It all eventually took its toll. Four breakdowns – nobody knew. Two suicide attempts – I just wanted to disappear, just fall asleep. By the fifth breakdown and final suicide attempt, I let myself fall and let people in to help. I couldn’t sustain it any longer. I was broken. I spent time in a home sleeping 20 hours a day for a month or so. My father dropped everything to care for me and restore my faith in family, men and the human race all at once. I got better. I got a dog. I got a new job and moved to the countryside.
I found my worth again and my creativity flowed. Then, out of nowhere, my father – my best friend and saviour – died. I then met a man (clearly, I was trying to fill Dads shoes) who then abused me whilst so-called friends turned against me. I miscarried a child, alone, at Christmas. A friend committed suicide on Christmas day. My mother then died and not long after, I was made redundant. All in 18 months.
I started to self-destruct again. But I knew I owed myself, my Dad, my Mum, my heaven baby, my friend and my dog so much more than that.
So, I got busy with starting afresh. I talk to Mum and Dad every day. I called my little baby Pineapple and symbols of this are all over my home. I rejoice in their memories, there are photos and songs that make me smile and I am so thankful that I had them in my life. I have taken up gardening and plants are actually thriving now, which I never thought I would see in my lifetime! I am setting up my own businesses and enjoying the journey. I help those who I can. I am creative and thriving and I am so proud of myself. I am whole.
To ALL those people that hurt me over the years – I hope you too find the peace within yourselves that I have. Please try not to hurt anyone else – just because you can’t see their pain it doesn’t mean they are not in pain.
To anyone else struggling – you are NOT alone. I chose to be alone and endured it, but that was my life lesson – I had to let go and let others in.
Whilst in a moment of impending death my body buffered the pain and protected me, in the longer term, my mind became an escape artist, creating all sorts of paths away from the pain. Arguably, my mind was creatively trying to protect me, after all, I had to endure so many different things and so constantly!
Ultimately, for me, the only way through my pain was to let it be painful (to loosely quote a certain Zen Buddhist). Life can be so brutal. Awful things happen all the time. But all this too shall pass. Let it in…let it go…. keep breathing, keep caring. It’s all so simple in the end.
All my love, Claire x
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Thank you Claire, we are very proud of you too! ❤