Life, self love, Uncategorized

Who holds all the power?

Before I get into writing this blog, I want to share how scared I am of it today. The part of my story that I am about to share is so personal and has taken a very long time for me to come to terms with- ‘how’ is a story for a different day. I am scared to the point that I am shaking and feel sick right now.

‘Why write it then?’ You might be wondering. I am writing it to release it into the universe and in doing so, free myself even more from it.

So, we left off in Magaluf. I was 19 and hardly knew anyone. For today’s story we are still there; I suppose a part of me will always be there.

I was settled into my life there; my job, my room, my apartment that might as well have had rotating doors as people left and moved in a lot. There was just one person left who had ‘always been there’ after a while- the guy who was there before me. We got along well most of the time; we watched movies, had dinner together, food shopped together, did general sober things. When one of us (or both of us) were drunk it was different, he would try it on all the time and I would reject him. For a bit of the time it was because I had a boyfriend but that didn’t last as he couldn’t handle my job as a jelly shot girl (now in a much busier bar), for the rest of the time I rejected him because I just didn’t see him like that.

He would get angry if I’d got with anyone and would often come in to my room naked and shove his d*ck in my face. I’d always tell him where to go. Then one day, he announced that he was going to be moving out. I was so excited for the day to come as I wanted his bedroom for some extra space and privacy; I also wanted the constant come-on’s to end. The come-on’s ending were secondary as I didn’t really perceive them as a threat, just an irritation.

The night before he moved out was a normal night, I went to work at around 7 got hammered with my colleagues and shot buyers and then went clubbing after. I got home and passed out in my own bed.

Waking up was not normal, I was not in my own bed and there was someone on top of me. I felt paralysed, I was already being hurt so didn’t see a reason to fight and get hurt even more. I didn’t shout because there was only one person to listen. I didn’t say no because ‘no’ clearly didn’t mean anything. I stayed quiet and compliant to save what small bit of safety I had left. Afterwards, I got up and went back to my own bed.

I told nobody and reported nothing- all I could think was that if I carried on as normal that things would become normal again. Besides, who would have even believed me? I didn’t even fight back. I felt worthless.

The next night, at work, one of my colleagues told me that my old flat-mate had been bragging to anyone who would listen about what had happened with me. She told me what she thought “he raped you, Becky. He is disgusting and is bragging about it”. I wouldn’t/ couldn’t accept those words yet so I shrugged it off and changed the subject. It had turned out that my other flatmate had been home at the time and hadn’t said that, so how could this woman be the judge of it?

After that, I had no trust in men left at all so I’d give them what I thought they wanted before they could just take it. That’s what I genuinely believed that they would do. I completely abused myself and my body before anyone else had the chance. I got into a lot more situations that I didn’t want to be in. But this time I had the power, right?

Wrong. That’s the thing about power. I don’t belive that anybody really has it.

People do whatever they can to hold on to their power for as long as they can, even if it hurts them. In my opinion; how can you be the one with all the power when you are so scared to lose it, when it’s hurting you to keep hold of?

And if that is power, do we really want it?

The funny thing is, I feel most powerful now with the knowledge that I have no power. I know my truth and I am happy regardless.

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Life, mental health, self love

Chasing the summer dream

It didn’t take long to prepare to spend the summer in Magaluf. I planned it all out with one of my best friends (who was going to come with me), bought a one way ticket, gave notice at work and that was pretty much it.

I didn’t give any notice with the flat as I owed so much rent at that point that I doubt I would have been welcome there much longer. I did, however, offer my furniture back to D’s parents. They took me out for a goodbye/good luck dinner and told me that they didn’t want anything back and to sell what I could for a bit more financial security.

As the end of my notice period got closer, I got more and more excited to leave. My friend and I spent so much time talking about what we would do there and how fun it would be. She would be there first- on holiday – then I would join a couple of days before she was due to fly home. Solid plan. Or so we thought.

The day came to leave and all last minute plans were made. A friend of a friend (P) was doing the same so we had it all arranged to fly together. My brother in law (B) took us to Cardiff airport, my eldest sister took my keys to hand back to the council and that was it.

On the flight, we met someone who already worked out there so asked for (and accepted) loads of tips and advice. He shared a taxi from Palma with us when we got there and told us where to find him if we needed anything. I didn’t think we would need much, if anything, as I had my plans with my friend. When I got to her hotel things started to go wrong quite quickly.

There was no room for P, and my friend really didn’t look well. P and I found a room of our own in a hotel on the strip and set out to look for somewhere to live and a job the next day. Luckily enough, we had received tips on where to ask for a cheap room so getting a place to live wasn’t hard.

I managed to get a trial in a bar that night but it didn’t work out. All that time behind the bar at the rugby club didn’t help me- I am naturally a truly terrible barmaid!

I had a night out with my girls on my second night- right after moving in to the apartment and failing my first job trial. I decided that I’d look for a job the next day with my best friend when the rest of the girls had flown home.

It did not work out that way, not at all!

It turned out that my best friend had contracted swine flu and needed to go home. I was on my own!

I didn’t really know what to do in a different country with no real friends so I did what any 19 year old would do in Magaluf. I partied, I sunbathed, I worked (selling jelly shots) and partied some more. I made friends with my flat mates. There were 2 girls and a guy already living there when P and I first moved in. The guy started to try it on with me immediately but I put it down to him being a chancer with all the ladies and laughed it off.

I was having lots of fun blocking out all the pain I’d been feeling in Wales. Or I thought I was at least.

In reality, my self esteem was getting lower and lower and the risky situations I was getting myself into were unreal and this was my first job there (the quiet, family vibe, safe one). I was disrespecting myself and my body from the get go. I didn’t realise that I had a duty of care to myself.

I won’t berate my teenage self for this now as it’s not deserved. It’s easy to go off the rails when you feel so worthless and full of pain. And besides, even the stuff that comes next made me who I am so I can’t regret or want to change it.

I love who I am.

Life, mental health, self love, suicide

Attempting to escape

I was 19 when I realised I was in debt, being secretive about how I was feeling and letting my relationships slip. Over the months, my sickness level had gotten a lot worse at work and I had to be honest that I was struggling with my mental health. I told my team leader as much as she needed to know but no more.

Early into 2009, D and I had drifted a lot (him with his new job and uni friends that I didn’t know well, me with trying to deal with what I was going through). In fact, we drifted so much that we split up shortly after I spent Christmas with his family. This hit me hard as it felt like I’d lost so much more than just him, I’d lost my reason to have a relationship with his family.

We tried to remain friends as we were in the same circles but this wasn’t easy when we were also trying to move on. I put myself out there and got quite a bit of male attention after the break up, at the time I saw it as an ego boosting distraction. I found comfort in one lad I met in the rugby club who met my need to feel special and liked for a while but it was very on/off because neither us of was really available. It all just ended up making me feel more lonely.

On Easter Sunday that year, I woke up feeling even more lonely and low than usual. We had always had Easter morning together as a family so my flat, empty barring my two adopted cats, felt extremely lacking. I was hurting so much inside that my outside hurt too. I decided that painkillers would help. I had a couple of boxes of ibuprofen and Paracetamol at home but decided that it wasn’t enough so went out for a few more boxes. I wasn’t really planning anything but took them all when I got home, washed down with all I had in to drink- a little straight vodka and some Bacardi breezer. I sat listening to music, crying and writing until I could feel the pills in my stomach then just felt more pain. I tried to self harm, like I had seem my mother do in the past, thinking I’d get some release but it just hurt and I didn’t like the look of a knife going into my skin so I stopped. I called Roxanne after that. I hadn’t realised she was out with her boyfriend but she assured me that it was okay. We spoke for a little bit and then she went off to call for more help. She rang back immediately after and stayed on the phone until her mother , Kim, and sister arrived.

They arrived quickly and Kim comforted me while an ambulance was called. She was extremely upset herself but gave me water and kept assuring me that I’d be okay, I was loved and would be helped. Roxanne and another of my friends arrived just before the ambulance so came with me on the journey to the hospital. The paramedics were awful, when I started vomiting they mocked the fact that I’d washed the tablets down with Bacardi breezer and told me that ‘a few paracetamol wouldn’t kill me’. I was mortified.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was put into a ward right away. The girls were allowed to stay with me the whole time and, luckily, because I’d vomited there was no need for my stomach to be pumped. The nurse asked me if I’d done what I had because I didn’t like my easter eggs. Nice lady.

I had to stay over night in the hospital as my blood pressure had dropped so much that they wanted to see it hit a certain number before I left but the next day was finally allowed to go home. The friend who had come in with me picked me up and took me home.

After that, I knew I had to get away so started to make plans to go away for the summer. I had two girls holidays soon after to get the instant gratification of getting away.

While I was away, I wasn’t myself I spent most of the time drinking to excess and acting out of my usual character. On one holiday in particular, I argued with my friend one night as I was having severe nightmares every time I tried to sleep. I was ratty and horrible to be around. Sadly, she saw the reason one night for herself when she was woken up by me screaming in my sleep. I felt so guilty that she had to deal with that.

I knew that running away for a week or two at a time was not helping me so when I got back, I made serious plans to spend the summer working in Magaluf.

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Attempting to escape
Life, self love, suicide, Uncategorized

Falling in to adult life

Before I get right into writing this blog post and continuing my dark tale, I want to remind myself as much as my readers why I am writing this story. This is not a ‘poor me’ story, it’s about honouring the dark places I have been and appreciating the glorious light that was always and will always be at the end of my tunnel. My life is full to the brim of love and happiness now and revisiting the darkness is only making that more solid. I am grateful to be in a place where I can talk about the worst times of my life with friends and strangers alike and overwhelmed that even a single person wants to know more.

After my mothers funeral I decided that I wanted to change as much about my life as I could. I wanted to distance myself from all the hurt and pain so I applied to the council for my own flat and applied for a new job. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what I was thinking or feeling so became what I thought was the life and soul of all parties. If I wasn’t working, I was drunk. This severely impacted my relationship with D, I wasn’t the same girl any more. How could I be?

We had to empty my mother’s house quite quickly after the funeral as it was rented and empty. D should have been helping me when they day came to empty my room but after I had been waiting outside the house for an hour for him, it transpired that he wasn’t coming so I called Roxanne and within 5 minutes she was there with me. She took the lead in packing up my room and made several car journeys with me to move my stuff to my friend’s house. She is incredible (and super organised). Don’t get me wrong, I am not meaning to bash D here, what was going on in my life was too much for me to understand and face so a 19-year-old lad had no chance of being able to do or say the right things.

After a little while, I started to get ill all the time. In fact, when I got offered an interview from a place I’d applied for a job, I had glandular fever. It’s anyone’s guess how I got that job- I was ill, sweating, shaking and covered in lumps when I attended that interview. I was offered the job quickly after so handed in my notice at the Wimpy but decided to keep my weekend job at behind the bar at the rugby club.

Starting the new job at a Customer Service Centre near Cardiff was a breath of fresh air for me, it was amazing to be a part of a team that knew nothing about me or my past. I could just be me. On the surface, I made friends quickly but in reality they didn’t really know me. It was just as I wanted it.

Soon after starting, I was also given keys to my new flat. D’s parents helped me to decorate and furnish it. At this point, D and I were definitely not working any more but were both still trying to hold on to what we had once had. I was also holding on as I loved his family so much. We continued to push on for a while, as you will see.

Moving in to the flat was not what I thought it would be at all, I had no idea how to manage my finances or my home! My kitchen was always bare of food, I never had an appetite so never ate alone. My bills were racking up fast and I felt as though my gas and electric were always on emergency. The money I was making at my jobs was not covering much more than my journey to work, keeping my head just above water with bills and covering my nights out. I didn’t discuss this with anyone as getting into debt can be very shameful. I just wanted to look like I had my sh*t together!

It wasn’t long before money worries started to get me down and I’d struggle to get out of bed for work,  sometimes even calling in sick. I was now the one spiralling out of control.

On reflection, I’d love to have had the ability to ask for help at the time, to admit that I had no idea how to manage adult life. I’d never learned. I’d never been shown. I just couldn’t, all that I wanted to do was be a normal person. It was becoming my life mission to seem like one.

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Life, self love, suicide

The aftermath of the storm

I didn’t have to ask how my mother had died, I knew how. Deep down, I even knew why. She was dead because she wanted to be.

Knowing why, deep down, was not something that stopped me asking why. Why fight to get us back only to choose to leave us? Why now? Why couldn’t she just hold on? Why, why, why, why, why? You don’t expect that to be the main question you want to ask when you find out your mother has passed. You expect to know; not know ‘deep down’ but really know. The answer is expected to be something explainable by nature.

After a little while of asking why in between tears, we went to my eldest sisters house and I went to phone Roxanne. She had been out shopping with her boyfriend and was on the train home, not that it mattered to her where she was. To her, she was with me. We stayed on the phone saying nothing, just crying, for about an hour. D arrived at some point and comforted me while I cried and asked more questions beginning with ‘why’.

My mothers suicide was not like you might have seen on Netflix, with tapes left to explain the ins and the outs of why. There were no flash backs to a ‘will they/ wont they’ love story, there was no justice doled out to anyone with involvement in the downward spiral of my mothers last bits of time, there was no glamour. She had left the ward and checked in to a cheap hotel room. A maid found her. I am sorry if this is uncomfortable to read but that’s what suicide is. It’s uncomfortable. It’s pain, fear, humiliation, guilt. It can end the lives of the ones left behind if they aren’t careful. There is no coming of age life lesson in it in and you certainly can’t watch or participate in the aftermath of your own suicide.

We had to wait for a postmortem and an autopsy to be carried out before we could have the funeral due to the nature of the death. Going to hear the autopsy results was heart breaking but we all felt we needed to hear it. The main cause of death was asphyxiation but she had also massively overdosed on something that makes your blood pump faster and had also ‘cut’. She really wanted to go.

We booked the funeral for two weeks after her death. Planning the funeral was a blur of emotion, my older 2 sisters took the lead and we were fortunate to have help from family and close family friends. D’s parents supported me a lot during this time, his mother held me in her arms for hours one night while I howled like a broken animal, she helped me shop for a funeral outfit, made sure I ate and waited at the funeral parlour on a couple of my daily visits to see my mother. I’d sit in that room and talk to her in her coffin for often more than an hour. Outside of the safety nets I was building; tensions were running high. There were a few ‘disagreements’ around the funeral planning. D and I were even arguing, neither of us knew how to talk about what was going on in my life.

My close friends were amazing, as were their families. There was a lot of love given freely and in abundance to my sisters and I at this time and there was no shortage of people telling us how amazing, funny and loved our mother was. It was overwhelming but amazing.

The funeral itself went very fast and as well as it could have I think. It was like the day went in chunks. The morning of the funeral dragged, the friend I lived with helped me to get ready and my cousin was there with us. I don’t remember any of the journey there, barring the end where I learned you are not supposed to shut your own door when getting out of the funeral car. I nearly knocked my little sister out with the door! Needless to say, I really worked hard to stifle that giggle. There were so many people outside the church when we arrived, I thought we were going in first. We weren’t. We followed the coffin in to ‘The Rose’ (Westlife), which is all I remember of the service apart from my cousins now wife holding my hand from the chair behind mine. I focused on that above anything else. We walked out to ‘Seasons in the sun’ and I spent a few minutes looking for my dad, who wasn’t actually there.

We let off balloons on the way to the wake. I sat with my friends and hardly spoke to anyone and D went to Halfords to get his car radio fitted. His parents were there so drove me home early and I spent the night being held in his mothers arms, crying.

See? Nothing romantic or glamorous about any of it.

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Life, self love, suicide

At what age does life begin?

I had my first girls holiday before going back to my second year of sixth form- Gran Canaria. I was so disorganised that my passport didn’t arrive until the day before we flew! I could not live like that now. My mother did what she could to help with spending money and holiday clothes as I didn’t earn much at my weekend job; I think we did well to pull it together.

The holiday gave me a taste of what I wanted most in the world; freedom from worry. While I was there, I can honestly say that I didn’t worry about anything more than whether to have schnapps or tequila and what bikini to wear. It was amazing. Two weeks of being a normal teenager on holiday.

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Both bottles were chosen, in case you were wondering…

I came back to Earth (okay, Wales) with a bit of a bump after that. The girls I’d gone with were going off to uni, as was D but I was staying put and my mother was not getting any better. The second year of sixth form started abysmally to be honest; my attendance was lower than ever and I was constantly being pulled up on lack of effort. I had lost all ambition. At that point in time, I believed that I wouldn’t amount to anything so there was no point in putting in any effort. Going to uni didn’t feel like an option; how could I study and play nurse to my mother? It didn’t feel like the life destined for me.

My mother turned 40 that year and I turned 18. We both believed the same thing about our respective ages; that life would now begin.

Just before I turned 18, in the November, my sister gave birth to my beautiful niece. We were all really happy for a little while after that.

My 18th birthday went by with only the usual teenage angst- who to invite and where to go. It also brought on the need for a big decision from me, as a technical adult now I could work full-time and support the house a bit more- as well as be able to afford other things I wanted to do. I made the decision to not go back to school after Christmas and get a full time job instead. My teachers seemed genuinely upset by this as they could see all of the potential in me. I just wasn’t in a position then to act on it.

I got a full time job in the Wimpy pretty fast. In all honesty, it’s one of my favourite jobs I’ve ever had. I worked with some great people and learned a lot.

A couple of months – and a lot of breakdowns from my mother – later, my mother and I had a pretty big fight. It got very heated and I ended up hitting and pushing her in self-defence. She was lashing out like she didn’t even know it was me. I phoned my eldest sister in fits of tears over what had happened and she ended up taking my little sister and I in for a little while. It was a nice break to live with her, B and my nephew and I ended up staying longer than my little sister.

I went back to my mother after a couple of months, I think, but went to stay with my dad soon after. She was still too ill and I couldn’t be around her, she was always drinking these days and her episodes were getting worse and worse. D and I struggled with me being at my dads as it was further away from each other than we were used to so I arranged to move in with a friend for a while. The night before I moved in with my friend, I got a text from my mother. “I know you’re living at your dads and it’s okay. As long as you have a roof over your head and are happy then I am happy. Love you, Mam x”. I haven’t seen this text message in years but I still remember it word for word.

Things with meaning stick.

A week or so after moving in with my friend, I went to my mother’s house. She was sat on the settee alone and looked so sad. I felt a childlike need to cheer her up so went and lay next so her with my arms around her waist and head on her lap, just like when I was a child. We stayed there for I don’t know how long. I kissed her and told her I loved her before I left that day.

Just a few days after, I got home from work and received 14 missed calls from my eldest sister. When I called her back she told me to get to my nans house fast as I could. My mother should have been on a ward but I had a gut feeling that she wasn’t.

I got to my Nan’s to find my family in the kitchen. The words that followed floored me.

“It’s Mam, she’s gone. She’s dead”

Life, self love, Uncategorized

Time to really grow up…

After my mother left that ward, she continued to get worse.  I continued to stay out of the house a lot, I was either with my eldest sister and her new family or with D and friends. My older sister was now working full-time so either at work or with a (now ex) boyfriend so my little sister and I became a lot closer. We’d sit up with tea and biscuits until late into the night just sharing stories and laughing. Thinking back to this makes me a little nostalgic for those times as I do not get to spend much time with her now.

I was still seeing my dad occasionally too but he not much really, it’s the way we still are so it works for us. On my mothers bad nights, my sisters and I would try to calm and soothe our mother as much as we could but were back to calling ambulances more often than not. On normal days, my mother was spending a lot of  time drinking with her Fiance- either at the pub, at home or at his house. Life was this way for a few months.

At the end of these few months, we had another scare when our mother didn’t come home for a few days. We found out that she had been in hospital but discharged herself early, she had got a bed and breakfast but as she didn’t have much money couldn’t afford much else. One night she decided to risk stealing a packet of cigarettes, she was caught and the police were called. As she emptied her bag, she pulled out a knife. This was normal after the incident as she felt very unsafe and paranoid but she had never and would never have used it. Her previous court appearance came back to haunt her when they arrested her for the perceived threat.

She was sentenced to three months in prison. We had to adjust quickly- my little sister was 15 at the time so went to stay with our Auntie and my older sister picked up the house hold duties. I helped where I could but this didn’t always feel enough; especially as tensions were high and my older sister was pregnant and struggling to support us financially. She did an amazing job at keeping our home paid for and us warm, clean and fed. I will always be in awe of and grateful for the strength she had to support us while preparing for her first child.

I didn’t tell many people where my mother was and why- I was embarrassed and it felt that there was too much to explain. Nobody really knew that she was Schizophrenic either. Sometimes I wish that I’d been more able to open up then and perhaps not feel so lonely with my secrets but most of the time I allow myself to recognise and understand why I didn’t.

I only went to the prison once as it was quite far away. Once was enough with this experience as it wasn’t a very nice place to visit. It struck me to see how beautiful the grounds and the surrounding countryside were when the people in the building couldn’t really appreciate it. I had everything taken off me on the way into the visiting room and even had to stand in front of sniffer dogs to be checked and patted down. Our visit was watched but not listened to which was for the best as my mother was telling tales of the mischief her and her new friends had been up to (nothing illegal but definitely nothing to be overheard by the wrong person). She made it sound almost enjoyable there, even though I am sure it was anything but. It put my mind at ease to see her nevertheless.

I was quite annoyed by how much she missed when she was in prison so while she was in, I stole her bedroom. She noticed immediately on her return but said nothing so I kept it. 17 is definitely still young enough to be a bit childish.

My little sister half moved back in after my mothers return and my older sister moved out to prepare fully for her new arrival. The change didn’t really impact me as I was used to the revolving doors at home by this time.

Another thing that was impacting me but should have been were my upcoming AS Level exams. I was barely attending classes or studying at all by this point so I wasn’t holding out much hope. My mock exams didn’t go so well. This should have given me a kick but it didn’t. I had managed to get so far behind that I buried my head in the sand and pretty much gave up trying.

My actual exam results were shocking, it was clear I’d missed a lot of crucial learning. My teachers assured me that I’d still be able to complete my A-Levels with passable grades for uni if I knuckled down so I decided to stay on for upper sixth but was dreading not having D and my older friends in the year above anymore. I felt as though my options for escape were narrowing.

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