Mirror Mirror

I saw my mother today. 

Idly brushing my teeth my mind meandering along the day’s possibilities, my eyes slowly focused on my reflection. My eyes on my eyes…only they weren’t mine, they were my mothers. The same pale grey, set in the same brow with the faint beginnings of age from too much laughter followed by too much consternation furrowing my forehead, her forehead. So similar, so familiar the shock of it jolted my mind and rattled my heart out of my chest. The tooth brush dropped in the sink as I gripped the basin so tightly that my knuckles were white. Just like my mother, I look just like my mother, you look so like your mother…my stepfathers voice. All of these thoughts  and feelings upon me in a rush of adrenaline, no gentle reminders, no mental nudge, just bile rising in my throat and the terrible urge to wretch it all out. I tore my eyes from the mirror but my mind was too invested in the drama, I was forced to watch the picture show, squeezing my eyes closed making no difference to the flashing images and rapid, fractured voices of years past clandestine conversations. I end up on my knees still gripping the porcelain and trying to catch hold of reality as the spinning top that is my brain screams my trauma at me…it lasted only minutes…but 2 minutes in Hell can be a lifetime. 

I’ve been good, you know? Working, living, enjoying my days and feeling productive. I know this doesn’t mean I’ve somehow regressed, I know that occasionally this might happen. I remember things often now and I’m able to brush them aside, for the most part. I hear myself and sometimes I hear my mother in my voice, I feel her in my actions and I gloss over the niggly feeling in the pit of my stomach. My problem is that I want no part of her inside or out, but I can’t escape her, she’s in the mirror staring back at me. All at once the greatest fear I held as a child has become real, I am the image of my mother just like he said…

So…how do I make peace with my reflection? When every time I see her face, my face, I hear his voice… How do I get past this? I will start, I think, by owning the knowledge and the reality that she is my mother and she is a part of me, but I am filled with enough of myself to make that OK. His voice is a memory, her likeness is just a shadow, I am me in this moment with a different future. 

Past Lives

I don’t know who I must have been in a past live…Genghis Khan maybe…?? But I just can’t escape the feeling that I’m being punished, what I could possibly have done to the universe to incur such wrath I don’t know….a criminal father, a hebephile step father, a cowardly mother…the list goes on but it would bum us out. All these wonderful models of relationships and behaviours left me unable to choose people that are good for me. Weirdly, I’m a nice person! I go out of my way not to hurt others, often at my own expense and I’m kind hearted and fiercely loyal. I don’t make friends easily, but when I find someone I feel that I can be me with, I give them everything, unwavering support…the last penny in my pocket…and my most precious commodity, my trust. It’s a huge step and a massive risk and not something I do without some trepidation, so when someone close hurts me…its devastating…the smallest infraction of my trust feels like being thrown naked into the street. I was recently hurt by someone who I considered a very close friend. She knows everything about me, all my secrets and fears, every sad and happy thing that ever happened to me. She broke my trust and it felt as though she broke my heart, she was the first real and close friend I had made in years…but no one seems to understand, including my partner. I spent almost my entire life learning to feel as little as possible, floating over life but rarely feeling a part of it. People have come and gone, some hurtful others not, but really I had no depth of feeling for any of it. I fought my own battles and saved myself, I was my own hero and that was fine I had a system! But that system is now gone and I cannot stand to feel vulnerable. When my partner came along I was made real again and it is excruciating. The process of becoming whole and present, I feel all of it, every painful memory and wonderful moment…my inner child and I have come crashing together in a crescendo of reality. At times I wish I could go back to the comfortable numbness…I struggle with trusting my instincts and I am constantly asking myself if there is an ulterior motive behind every kind action. In my experience people can be cruel and disloyal and selfish. But I know that sometimes they can be amazing too. I wish I could tell them apart quicker before they lay down another layer of hurt on me. All I have ever wanted was to find someone who will stand with me and fight side by side, because all too often I feel that this life I’ve been given is a battle…and I’m afraid to lose.

Saving Grace

I haven’t written for some time, buried in my studies I’ve had very little time for anything else! I suppose I’ve been coasting along fairly well and adjusting my sails when things become choppy and have definitely found that studying towards my degree in psychology has helped me understand myself more. As I read more research on behavioural psychology and perch ready to begin another round of my own therapy, I feel armed with knowledge and a new understanding of the inner workings of my own mental processes. If I can just manage to hone that ability to take a step back before I jump off at the deep end…I’ll be a happy bunny!

But I’m moving forward and that in itself is wonderful, the dream of being able to reach out and, in a very real way, help people who are struggling, is actually going to happen. I’m making this happen. And it fills me with something that I assume is a beautiful amalgamation of joy and pride and abject fear! Studying is by no means easy, struggling with the symptoms of PTSD and anxiety means that some days I have to read a chapter approximately ONE BILLION TIMES before it sinks in…but still the more I read the more I understand and the easier things get.

I recently branched into some extra-curricula reading, in a bid to understand the effect that long term abuse in childhood had on my brain and body, not just my mental health. I have heard on many occasions, people remark on how children are resilient, how they just ‘get over these things’ and the more I hear the more angry I become. Research has shown that children who suffer a traumatic event or long term systematic trauma, have altered brain chemistry, changing neural pathways and altering the very chemistry of the brain. Living in a constant state of hyperarousal followed by dissociative states leaves an indelible mark on the brain and the body. I remember the racing heart beat, jumping at the slightest noise, literally sleeping with one eye open…followed by days when I was so far out of reach of my own life, so far down that rabbit hole, that I seemed to become lost in time. Child abuse is not something that children just shrug off over the years, it is not something one can just ‘get over’ and just because it happened 30 years ago that doesn’t mean it’s easy to move on from. Children are not resilient, they are malleable. Abused and maltreated children lose their chance to grow in a healthy environment…and part of that child is forever lost…I’m beginning to feel myself lean towards where I want to apply my qualifications…

I will never understand the motives behind those who choose to hurt and damage others, especially children, to understand that drive, those selfish surrenderings to their darkest impulses. But I do understand what it means to survive, to zombie-walk through years of adolescence and adulthood desperate to find some kind of exit. To feel utterly isolated in such a huge world so filled with blinkered people, with scars that I felt were so livid…that surely someone would see? My drive comes from the gut wrenching, heart breaking knowledge that there are children and adults…people with feelings and families and nightmares…out there trying their hardest to live, to survive.

And I want to help.

This is my saving grace.



I grow

Every day I make a promise to myself that I will do certain things, most days I fail to deliver. But lately I have begun to let it go. We put so much pressure on ourselves to do or be. Sometimes it’s ok to say “I can’t manage that today”
Of late my attitude has changed, I feel more grounded in the now and less ground up by the past. I cannot
change it but I can stop it from forever bearing down on my future. Am I an abused person or a person who was abused?
I choose the latter.
My days are filled with the normal stresses and strains of being a mother, a grandma, a partner, a student…There is no room for ‘victim’ in my repetuar. I still struggle with my mental health but it weighs me down less and less…
The gradual incline has been subtle, no waking to absolute serenity and acceptance, but more of a quiet growing of knowledge and understanding.
I have had times when I felt euphoric and suddenly lighter, these episodes were inevitably short lived. I’ve learned that instead of looking for answers outside of myself, begging the forever question of why, why me, why at all…I must realise there is no answer to those questions. I have begun to understand the ripple effect it has had on my life and that, if I want to, I can make my own ripples that can change the course of my life and transform negativity into positivity, ordinary into extraordinary🙂



Is it worth it?
Is it worth the sadness and the fear?
Is it worth the second guessing and the whisperings in my ear?
Is it worth it?
All this worry, all these problems that it breeds.
All the times I give him what he wants, forsaking my own needs.
Is it worth it?
Is this the thing called love?
This bitter/sweet, pleasure/pain that fits me like a glove.
Is it worth it?
All this aching need.
Both empty but yet brimming with the chaos that it breeds.
Of course it’s worth it….
Every fearful second, every tearful moment, every risk taken, every passion filled free fall into this unknown.


Today is mine, it’s my belonging. Today I begin, to learn, to change, to build a fresh future. I must shed his dead weight about my shoulders, just another empty shell with nothing but vapidness and selfishness to offer.

Today is mine and I will own it. I will live it and breathe it and make it my own. Enough of this everlasting giving, enough thoughts of forgiveness.

Today is mine, to mold, to make unique, to never be repeated. I must see now with fresh eyes and discover what was hidden. I must break the chain, walk the new path, be the new me.


Once, I had a secret. It was sticky and squirmy. It made my tummy hurt and it made my head foggy.
Once, I was a girl. I had long blonde hair and bright blue eyes. But the secret made them wary. The secret made them dull.
Once, I had innocence. Though I can’t remember it, I imagine it was wonderful. I imagine it was sparkling, like stars or sunshine seen through raindrops.
Once, there was another me. A little sad, a little quiet, a little heavy with a secret. A shadow of the me that she was supposed to be and so…
I freed her.

Metaphorical Me

I am moving, only dimly aware of my feet as they strike the pavement. With open eyes that see nothing as I walk and I walk and I walk. I am lost to the dense fog that is my thoughts, wading through thigh high quick sand that has become my feelings. My inner voice fights to be heard over the din so that not one coherent thought can be made. I made the mistake of listening to a stray recollection and now I am here, alone in this all too crowded desert. My mind spins and tilts as they assume control with onerous whisperings and vitriolic murmurs. I have no solidity, I have no substance, I am only metaphorical.

One stray feeling, one wandering moment led me here to this pessimistic place, where no one can be trusted and the worst is set to happen. In this place my partner is a villain and the world is a Hell-like landscape. This is Anxiety. All too familiar, I walk this same path, paranoia wrenching open the darkest boxes in my mind and spilling out the worst of my fears. I am stripped of all defences, there is no way out of the fog. I must hunker down and wait for it to lift, for that shining moment when the clouds begin to part. Wait for the feeling of fullness to return to my limbs once again. Wait for noise in my head to abate.

But I know that it will, I know that the past is behind me and this is just the last of its claws, desperate to find purchase within me. I know, even in the densest darkness, that soon the light will filter through. There is always a dawn.
I will awaken and become alive.

Love, hope and other lovely things..

So here I am, a couple of months away from my 40th birthday. Looking at my past, present and future and wallowing somewhat in self pity. When I asked myself, to what yardstick do I hold my life? I mean, compared to Kate Middleton, perhaps my life has not been a bed of roses. Certainly there has been no Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet. But though I have lived a Hellish existence, I still have the capacity to be happy. I smile, I love, I laugh, I care. In fact, now that I have waded through the ‘self sabotage’ chapter of my life, I actively seek these things. My childhood taught me that love equals hurt. But my journey since has shown me otherwise. We all have the tendency to over complicate things. Where there is a clear path we unwittingly throw obstacles into it. We over think and we over compensate. We invent things that are not there by foretelling the bleakest future or hang our hopes on the flimsiest of inklings. And so I’ve been practicing the art of simplicity. I thought at first that this meant that I had to reduce everything to black and white, but I’ve discovered that actually it’s about accepting that everything is shades of grey. I always see things in very firm right or wrong answers, I never really gave myself a chance. I have been guilty of comparing myself to others, but it’s a silly roundabout to jump on. It had come time to accept all of my own grey areas. Yes, I have come from an abusive background, but this in itself doesn’t define me. But I do accept that it has had an impact upon my life and I have to be honest and admit that not all of it was negative. Because I was abused I am more guarded about the safety of my children but I love them more than my parents could fathom loving me. Because I was abused I live with several mental illnesses but I have never ending empathy for those who struggle because so do I. If given the choice I would obliterate abuse in all its forms, but I can’t. I wish with every fibre of my being that it did not happen but it does. It is not right, not ever, that any person should suffer it but we do. And so I choose to see both sides of my coin and live a balanced existence. And remember, how would I have ever known happiness if I had never known sadness.


Dear Mum,

I’ve wanted to say these things to you for many years. But we now no longer speak.
It would be a lie to say that we were ever close anyway. Our relationship was always somewhat superficial, if we’re honest. You were always holding me at arms length and i’m sad to say that if there were any happy times, I just don’t remember them. I know, now that I am a Mother myself, that our children are the most important things in our lives, I would die for mine, but you were always an enigma to me. I used to be desperate to understand your behaviour, I needed to know why you seemed to not love me. Now I know that I will never understand and it wasn’t me that needed to anyway. It was you. You stood by and did nothing while your vile husband abused me almost my entire life. You should have protected me mum. You should have chosen me, your only daughter, not a man you barely knew. I will never be able to make you understand the pain I went through, from eight years old to 39…He never stopped mum. You brushed off his behaviour as just mildly inappropriate. But he hurt me and that hurt reached to my soul. You abandoned me. You left me. I still haven’t recovered.
I can’t love you anymore mum. I can’t keep hoping that things will change between us. This has impacted my entire life, my mental health, my parenting, my relationships. It has to stop here. I did all the right things and you let me down and now I gravitate to people who only ever let me down. But I’m changing mum, i’m in therapy and I no longer hate myself. Maybe you couldn’t love me, but that’s not my failing, it’s yours. I’m sad for you. You will never admit what happened. You will never say you were wrong. And we will shuffle off this mortal coil as strangers. I came from you, do you remember that? That I was once your child, that at some point you must have nurtured me?
It’s not my job to forgive you. You will have to carry your burdens, I have shouldered enough blame. I have been other people’s pack horse for long enough. It’s time to shed the load. I place the blame and the anger and the pain, squarely at the feet of those to which it truly belongs. Because it never should have been mine in the first place.
I know you’re afraid to be alone. That’s why you ignore his darkness. But you are alone mum. Because he’s empty and now so are you.
Goodbye mum.

The Importance of Being Honest

I have realised that there is a running theme to my life. Person after person has reinforced this message, sometimes not even sympathetic enough to pussy foot around it but directly saying the words to me.
I am not important.
I have spent my entire life putting others needs and wants before my own. I protect them, support them and say all the things I should say.
But lately I have tired of it. Why do I constantly have to ‘stow my shit’ for others? Why is it more important that they be ok than me? I have ptsd, generalised anxiety disorder and depression. I suffer crippling flashbacks, struggle with self harm and my lows are soul destroying. I also have children, go to therapy and I work. I am supposed to be supporting my partner who has volunteered for an epic adventure, but when I wobble, when I struggle, the message I get from those around me is ‘deal with it and don’t upset him’ which is funny considering I never received the same consideration. I did not volunteer to be abused and while he is away it is emotionally hard for him, but he can get off his boat. I will never get off mine.
So my issue is finding the middle ground. I don’t want to be selfish, but I have never asked for what I want. It is time I started. It is time I was truthful about what I need from this life. It is time that my needs and wants were met. It is important in fact. I am responsible for my children, so if I have an emotionally hard time the consequences can be dire. Every time someone tells me to just put it to one side, their advice flies directly in the face of everything I am learning in therapy. I work hard to dismiss it and spend subsequent days telling myself I am important, I do matter and so does what I want. Their words still do damage. When is it ok for me to have a say, to actually say ‘no, I don’t want this to happen’ This is my life, I can choose and I can ask for the things I want and I no longer want be compromised because there is a massive difference between that and compromising.
I ask myself, if I stood up and said, this is what I want and I can’t be held responsible for how it affects you, to those closest to me, how would they react?
I feel like Shirley Valentine…
But we all have a right to choose. My choice is to put me first for a while. I don’t think I could ever be truly selfish, but I do think I deserve more.

I kinda like me..

I feel rounded at my edges, solid and tangible, my words feel honest but softer.
I no longer feel venomous, ready to spit shards of glass at all and sundry.
But rather, peaceful at my core, at my soul.
Where the spark used to be, there now burns a warmth.
It glows like embers, it radiates within me, and every step I now take leaves a trail.
Not of destruction, but of burgeoning life, of new beginnings.
I see my footprints birth spring, fertile with compassion for myself.
I have lived the life I have lived, it’s true, not much of it pretty.
But that’s ok, i’ve found my balance.
I have a calmness that has settled around my heart and a knowledge that I am good.
How strange I should never have seen it before, how odd I should never have felt it.
I like myself…I may even love myself.


Step lightly through this world, lest you step upon another.
Love kindly, be mindful and hold consideration highly.

I have felt the pain of cruelty tearing me apart.
I have known what it is to be at the mercy of another’s selfish heart.
And so I control my every action, every decision made.
I see every outcome of every move I make.
This is not my sacrifice, but a promise that I bade.
When I looked upon my swollen belly, a price I’m happy to have paid.

So please step lightly through this world lest you step upon another.
Love kindly, be mindful and hold consideration highly.

The Cursed.

I am tired of this secret, this burden of mine.
Of carrying it’s dead weight around my shoulders.
It pulls me down and steals my purpose.
It poisons my relationships with toxic fumes.
It suffocates all hope and meaning.
It renders people speechless with its stigmatic black cloud.
It curses all who hear it with its mere knowledge.
It passes on its pain and anguish every time I speak it.
And I tire of bearing witness to its destructive force.
I hoped the light of day would diminish it’s depravity and put an end to suffering.
But in the end truth turns her fickle face away.
In the end even love has its limits of understanding…

The Role.

You cast me in this role I never asked for, never wanted.
Before time taught me that I had choices.
You educated me well, and groomed me to your perfection.
Your toy, your thing, I am made inanimate.

Day after day, year after year, I tread the boards of your fantasy.
I am an empty vessel, but you cannot see the vacancy.
Or perhaps you just don’t want to, perhaps it is fear in your eyes that I glimpse as I float beyond your reach.

You see me now, immune to your power.
No vacuum behind my eyes, but anger, strength and vengeance.
I am filled with something new, something I forged in my darkest dreams.

I see you now for what you are, an old and weak man.
You hold no fear for me, as I watch you diminish and my light grow.
Extinguishing your darkness inch by glorious inch.

Today is Freedom

I awake to the sun streaming through my window. I throw off the covers and let it warm my skin. Suddenly I relish the ability to do this, to lie naked on my bed and listen to the whisper of the trees. There was once a time that my door would be barred from entry and I would wear pajamas in the height of summer. I would be listening, not for the breeze and birdsong, but for the sound of his keys that he wore hung from his belt.
I watch the blue sky and stretch out decadently. I must remember to relish these things. To take a moment to enjoy my freedom, acknowledge the past and see how far I’ve come.
Today I will only do the things that I want to do.


I watch him sleep a while, listen to the sound of his steady breathing. I wonder at his existence, at how I came to have made such loveliness. His face is peaceful, he sleeps easy, with no dreams of horror or evil. He is what is right in my world, he reminds me of the beauty in it when I find it hard to see.
I lay a gentle kiss at his temple and I whisper the same promises I always do.
I love you, bigger than the world, bigger than the universe.
I will always protect you.
I love you,
I love you more,
I love you most.

My one regret.

I loved a man once, almost to the point of madness. He had ebony skin and the deepest darkest eyes. He spoke to me in poetry, his dulcet tones resonating deep within my chest.
Eyes closed, fluttering lashes against my cheek, dusting soft kisses on my skin. He enraptured my soul with his words, with his touch. He captured my heart and held it gently, with such honesty, I thought him to be imagined.

I loved a man once, but felt undeserving. Such was his beauty and understanding, I was blinded by it’s brilliance. Fearful of it’s intensity.
Eyes shut tight against his love for me, enthralled yet unbelieving. In my retreat I broke his heart, I wounded an Angel. I cut his wings and yet he still reached out for me, one last time.

This is my one regret. To have hurt out of fear and selfishness. And to have lost a true love.

A reason to live.

My last session in group therapy left me shaken, we all were. I look on these women that I really barely know, as my family. We never speak between sessions, but when we have that hour and 45 minutes together, we are stripped naked of our fake smiles. We are real.
These women are my sisters, we are bound together by something terrible but also by our survival. So when one of us stumbles, we all feel it. When one of us triumphs we all share it. I trust these people with all of my secrets, thoughts, feelings. I’m not afraid that any one of them will hurt me, but I am afraid of one of them hurting themselves.
Some of us have attempted suicide at least once in our lives, and I hear their stories and empathise. I think…yes, I have felt that way. That happened to me too…this could be me…this could be any of us. And suddenly I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I will snap and break and all of the reasons I tell myself to keep living for…will mean nothing.
When things are bad for me, they are bad for every minute of every day for what seems like forever. I become unable to see past the memories, the broken trust. I become hopeless and I watch the clock wishing away the hours, wasting life. I remember calculating how many years I had yet to live when I was around 12 years old. I became distraught at the thought of being here for so long. How utterly heart breaking that someone would make a child feel that way.
So when one of us cries in group, we all cry. We all feel her pain, we reach out to each other, in the brief time we have, desperate for a connection with someone who truly understands. We are unable to tell ourselves of our own worth, but we can tell each other.
So when I told them how I felt that day, of how I felt like a monster myself, of how I felt like I was worthless and unlovable, they rallied.
I have beautiful children that I made. I created them. I nurtured them. And I need to remind myself that nothing so wonderful should be given up. I can’t be all that bad if they came from me? I am still here, still trying.
I love those women, for their humour, for their strength, for their empathy, for their love. And I will rally for every one of them and tell them of their own strengths and reasons to live.
Even if I can’t do it for myself…

What is PTSD?

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