Life, Relationships, self love

Mel Wells’ Self Love Summit (aka. A dream day)

Hi! This is a long post for me, you might want to get comfy to read this and make sure you have 10 mins or so.

I am starting this blog with a little spoiler alert. One big thing that changed my life for the better was a book called The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells. For reasons that I will explain in a future blog, this book resonated with me so much that I joined the Academy.

In my own words, the Academy is a programme that helps women to transform their relationships with themselves and their food. For more information, check out Mel’s website.

When I joined the Academy, I got 2 free tickets to the Self Love Summit and immediately invited my eldest sister to come with me. Partly to show her how I have come so far, partly for her to get some more self-love in her own life and, I am not going to lie, partly for comfort.

During the Academy live round, I joined a WhatsApp group with a bunch of women who I didn’t know so that we could lend support and hopefully make friends. I didn’t expect a lot from it but can honestly say that there has barely been a quiet hour in the group – never mind day! These beautiful, amazing, funny, soulful women very soon learned more about me than I have ever shared and became my tribe so quickly. Of course, we made arrangements to attend the Summit together.

On the weekend of the Summit, I travelled down with two Goddesses from Newcastle who I have met a couple of times before. I had fears that the journey would be awkward but it was so natural to be with them. I met my sister off the coach from Wales at Victoria and we travelled to Greenwich (where our hotel was) and had dinner with a few of the Tribe. Again, so natural, so fun and sooooo not awkward at all.

The next morning, we got up at 6 (bright and early for me on a Saturday) and got ready to go and meet the rest of the tribe (sadly, minus 2 who could not make it) and one of my favourite girls that I’ve known for a few years outside of the Academy (and in the Academy).

We arrived at the Canary Wharf location at around 8:30 and the queue of Goddesses was UNREAL. Massive well done to Sarah Little and the gang for signing us all in on time!

We took our seats, which had a scarily accurate card from Rebecca Campbells new deck on (Some people had Shannon Kaiser’s cards)

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My card from Rebecca Campbells deck

Mel arrived in style by doing an amazing dance with Zoe McNulty. Talk about powerful, sexy women!

Mel spoke first and immediately got us thinking about who we are and what we bring to the world. She spoke about how ‘you love yourself’ is said as an insult but shouldn’t be. We should all love ourselves! It’s not self-indulgent, it’s not being a big head. It is necessary.

She got us shouting about who we are. “I am Becky. I am brave. I am energetic. I am funny.” and dancing around the place. She got us giving Goddess hugs.

Goddess Hug. Verb. Like a hug but lasts much longer and the emotions go a lot deeper.

I was buzzing! Almost literally, the energy in the room was so electric that the blood was almost vibrating through my veins. If I could bottle that feeling, I would. And I would release a little of it every day.

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Mel, rocking it

Shannon Kaiser was up next. What an incredible woman! She spoke about self-love and gave 5 steps on how to do this. She said a lot of things that resonated with me. Including the following.

“How can you be happy if you don’t love yourself?”

“Be your own best friend”

“You can’t love yourself if you’re not being yourself”

“Don’t waste time with negative thoughts”

She also talked about theme songs and getting one for yourself. Picking one that spurs you on and encourages you to embrace yourself. She then played hers (Rachel Platton – stand by you) which we all sang and danced to. I chose True Colours sang by Kesha as my own.

A group of us got up on stage with Shannon and Mel, where I got to give Shannon a hug and tell her she is amazing. I also got a goddess hug from Mel and was able to thank her in person for the dream day she created and everything she has done for me. And let me tell you, that hug was the ultimate goddess hug. This woman has the ability to look right into someones eyes and make it feel like she can see your soul. The type of person I aspire to be like.

Rebecca Campbell was next on stage. She immediately commented on the energy in the room, which by this point was so powerful that I felt high! She spoke to us about the room being a group soul at that moment in time and I really felt it.

She spoke about constantly growing as souls and about intuition being the voice of the soul.

She told us to “harness the mysterious force of life” and “surrender to the feminine”.

Next, she got a group of us on stage and we did an incredible chant “Heaven. Heart. Earth. Heart.” to the sound of Warrior – Jeremy Wheatly mix by Aurora. It was one of the most mesmerizing experiences that I have ever had.

Before the next introduction, Mel spoke to us more and quoted Tony Robbins “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”, this stuck with me.

She reminded us to turn our lights back on!

Suzy Ashworth spoke next. My word, what a woman!! I’d not really heard of Suzy before but she was so compelling. She made me laugh until my belly hurt, made me think, put tears in my eyes.

She spoke about love bombing yourself (ie. showering yourself with loving comments toes to head). She gave us the priceless tip of how to escape the tunnel of self-loathing (STOP. BREATHE) and to remember how we want to be in 12 months when we do need to just stop and breathe.

Julie Montagu was after Suzy. She reminded us to take at least 10 minutes out of the day for self care. Some things that I will be doing are; Yoga, Meditation, getting outside, breathing exercises and journalling.

She said “Self care is the foundation of which everything else can be built on”. WOW! It really is that important.

She got me thinking about my importance in the world, again, what I can bring to it.

She reminded us that “We have a 1 in 400 million chance at being born- do something with it.” A piece of advice that I have already shared.

She advised to keep a journal by the bed and to write 3 things that you are grateful for every day.

We then had lunch and got some gorgeous goodies from some stalls that were there. On my way into the ladies, I saw none other than the gorgeous unicorn Megan Jayne Crabbe

Let me tell you, I fan-girled embarrassingly hard. I shouted her full name in her face. She said hello and asked where my “beautiful dress” was from. I said her full name, again. She asked again where the dress was from. I asked for a photo. She obliged and asked again where the dress was from. I finally told her and then let her leave. She must have thought I was insane! Haha.

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Fangirling

 

After lunch, we got more acquainted with Zoe McNulty from the School of strut. She was so powerfully sexy. I literally went up to her and told her that she was the sexiest woman I’d ever seen in real life. I’d love to be half as potent.

She got us dancing and owning our own sexualities with it. There were a lot of laughs because she is a funny lady but also because I got way too into the dance and head butted the chair in front. Whoops!!

Then, Persia Lawson came on like an absolute rock star with her bare feet and a Ukele and sang Jason Mraz – I’m Yours with us all. She spoke about relationships, gravitating towards the familiar, even when it is sh*t and being afraid that things might go right.

She told us about how she connected and still connects with the love of her life with music. I was in hysterics by some of the ‘smut’ she came out with, it was so spot on and relatable.

She gave us the tips; sing and dance daily, get your own theme tune and read a sonnet every day.

She spoke to us about Shakespeare being a genius by writing his sonnets in iambic pentameter which is like the sound of a heart beat and read one with us- hands on heart.

She gave us a quote to live by.

“Surrender to the festival of life and let her take you wherever she wants to go.”

She and Mel then sang Let it Be by The Beatles and had us all join in. It was magical.

Between speakers, Mel was giving us talks, getting us dancing and thinking, and leaving us with words of wisdom.

She got us writing lists of gratitude, lists of key takeaways of the day, lists of possibilities and dreams.

Up last was Megan Crabbe (who I have already introduced). She spoke about our bodies knowing what is best for us, the failings of the diet industry and the history of the ‘perfect body’.

She reminded us that hating ourselves is a learned behaviour and “We cannot take on the world when we are hungry.”

In the wrap up, Mel spoke with us about self sabotage and how we do it to keep ourselves safe in our old stories.

She helped us to write our intentions and choose what we wanted to believe about ourselves.

My intention is to continue to write my blog and share my stories and experiences in the hope of inspiring at least one other person to choose to believe that they can love themselves.

I self sabotage because I am afraid to be seen and known as that may make people reject me. But, I choose to believe that I am loveable, no matter what.

Then, we got to all mingle and meet each other and the speakers. And I was lucky enough to, once again, thank Mel in person for the day.

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After the day was over, a very emotional tribe of goddesses (me and my tribe) made our way to Soho for dinner, cocktails and making memories that are once in a lifetime.

Thank you Mel Wells, Shannon Kaiser, Rebecca Campbell, Suzy Ashworth, Julie Montagu, Zoe McNulty, Persia Lawson, Megan Jayne Crabbe, My Tribe and every other Goddess in that room for the perfect day!

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Life, mental health, Relationships, self love, Uncategorized

The rocky start of my Newcastle life

I started writing yet another post about Squaddie, then I stopped, then started again, then stopped.

At first, I considered that I might be resisting because it was still painful but I couldn’t find any truth in that. My gut was definitely not agreeing. Then I realised, I am resisting because I’ve discussed it to death.

So, I am going to tell you what happened with him but I am going to finish it all in this blog post.

After about a year of being together, I quit my job and went to Newcastle for Christmas. He proposed on Christmas Day after is agreed to move in (even though he knew I didn’t want to get engaged), he got on one knee by the tree while his family waited outside the door with champagne and a card- very presumptuous. Of course, I said yes, it was a perfect proposal to anyone looking in as we danced to our song afterwards. To me, it felt like a cage. I remember telling one of my best friends and having to practically mute the phone as he swore loudly and called me an idiot for tying myself to someone who treated me the way Squaddie did.

The engagement only lasted a few months. All the way through the engagement I got messages from other girls saying that he’s being sleeping with them. He’d always deny it and I was so dependent on him by this point that I chose to believe him.

He’d hammered the point home that nobody loved me except him. He even made me believe that my eldest sister (who taught me to read and tickles my arms until I slept when we were children) didn’t love me. I wasn’t allowed to go home at all. I wasn’t allowed out with anyone who wasn’t on his approved list and I even got into trouble for sitting near male colleagues at work. In my mind, I had him and his family and that was it!

I became so clingy and jealous. Not myself at all. I was even jealous when he would be out with his friends because it meant I was being ignored. I started to feel really suicidal after a while. Everything I did was for his benefit. I barely ate because he wanted me skinny, I let him do what ever he wanted with my body and when I didn’t say yes he did it anyway, I convinced myself that it was okay that he’d call me “fatty” or a “dirty slut” or when he’d “go too far” with “play fighting”. It was okay because my life belonged to him.

The biggest blow came when he broke up with me because I’d been “cheating”. I’m not sure how when I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. He became convinced that something was going on with one of his best friends.

After being dumped and having to move into a house share, I decided that I might as well act in the way he accused me of. His friend and I had a flirtation but nothing more at that point. Squaddie found out and was livid. He drove this guy to my house and threatened to kick him in infront of me.

I went home for a few days that summer (while we are split up) and built some strength when I realised that I was still very loved at home. I built more strength when a made an amazing friend in my new housemate. And more when I dated a little.

Then I must have gotten too strong because Squaddie returned to bring me back down. We “tried again” for a little while and then I got accused of all sorts and chucked. Again.

Again, over the next few months, I built myself up, I dated a bit and he returned.

This time, it started well, we got on and he seemed different somehow. Until Valentine’s Day when I was informed that he’d gotten someone else pregnant during our last “try”. That should have been it but it wasn’t, I offered to help him with the baby and everything.

Things started to turn sour again, fast. I ended up doing some awful things like telling his mother about the baby and telling him some family secrets. I was just so angry.

Then one night, he arrived at my house out of the blue so he could come to a party with me. We both got so drunk at the party and ended up fighting- verbally and then physically. It all came to a head when he stood on me while twisting my arm behind my back and threatened to snap it if I dared scream again.

I realised at that point that enough was enough. I couldn’t be with someone like that, mainly because of how he treated me and partly because I hated who I was when I was with him.

I’d learned to respect myself enough to walk away.

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Life, mental health, Relationships, self love, Uncategorized

It’s not abuse if it doesn’t leave a mark… is it?

Soon after moving in with Roxy, I managed to get a full time job at a bakery. That, alongside my weekend job at the Rugby club kept me busy.

Unfortunately, busy doesn’t equal paid well so I was back in the hole of not being quite sure how to budget to pay rent, bills and support my living costs. I was lucky to be living with Roxy as she did help me to budget so at least my bills were paid and I was eating. She also helped me look for a better paid full time job, which I found after a month or two of living together.

It was in a factory, I was not allowed to wear make up, show my hair or face and had special clothes, gloves and shoes to wear. He never directly said it but I know that Squaddie would have been over the moon with this. He was extremely jealous of my job in the rugby club and would constantly quiz me on who I’d been speaking to and what had been said after working there.

It turns out that he felt that way about a lot of areas of my life as he’d call me as much as he could from Afghan to question me on my whereabouts. His favourite time to call was at 2/3am (UK time) when I had to be up at 5:30 to get to work on time. If I didn’t answer immediately then I’d be in trouble. I’d have to find a way to prove that I was in bed alone, this was hard as he wasn’t the trusting type.

After a little while of this frequently happening, I broke things off with him. Then the guilt came for breaking up with someone who was fighting for our country. Then I panicked that nobody would love me like that again. So I asked for him back. Honestly, he should have just said no. What he did instead was make me beg and plead, he recorded my begging and made me listen to it back. He was laughing at me and saying all of his friends would hear it too. I was humiliated; exactly as he wanted. Only then did he say yes and take me back. I was grateful. How warped.

Within a few weeks, Roxy was coming home from work to find me crying almost daily. I couldn’t understand why Squaddie wouldn’t just trust me. He was due back soon and was just getting worse.

Despite this treatment, I was still doing my best to enjoy life. I’d spend my day off with my eldest sister and her (at the time) two little ones as frequently as I could. “Monday club” was what we called it. Shift work was great for getting two days off in the week!

I’d also go out with friends (old and new) as often as I could, I was still a bit of a party girl. This clearly didn’t please Squaddie but I was fast learning that nothing did.

Before long, Squaddie was back in the uk and of course, I went right up to Newcastle to see him as frequently as he was there- his main base was Germany. He’d come to Wales to see me too. And we could now use Skype. We made it “work”.

Now that he was back, I assumed that his jealousy would subside but it just got worse. The first time we saw each other after he got back, he asked me to write a list of all of the men I’d had any sort of ‘contact’ with. I told him about what had happened in Magaluf and asked if I was supposed to write that flat mate down. His response was along the lines of “of course you should write him down, I’ll bet you loved that attention that night. You dirty slut”. I don’t remember the whole tirade about it but I remember that. How could I forget? It was my worst nightmare about what people would say coming true. And it came from the person that I genuinely believed loved me most.

I think at this point, some people will wonder why I didn’t just leave him. And the truth is, we had some amazing days that made up for the jealous days and the days I felt like I was being mentally tortured. At this point in time, there were lots of good days to make up for it.

Over the next few months, he used that list to torment me. He’d make me repeatedly write it out and if I forgot to write down even one name he’d call me all the names under the sun. Well, all the ones that translated to “whore”, that is. He’d force me to write the name of the guy that attacked me every time too. Because I’d played it down when it had happened and not reported anything, it wasn’t real. Apparently.

So I squashed it down; cut contact with all the men that he asked me to, took all the jealous phone calls, accepted being called names, repeatedly wrote down the name of the person that attacked me on a list that Squaddie had no business asking for in the first place and “got on with it”.

That was my life for that year in Wales.

Life, Relationships, self love, Uncategorized

The night a dog saved my life, and other short stories

I flew home from Magaluf in the October. I only told one person when my flight was, Roxy, my best friend that had planned to come to Magaluf with me. She came to meet me at the airport when I’d flown back. It was so amazing to see her.

We spent the whole journey back to her parents house sharing news and plotting for the weekend. The plan was for me to hide there until the Saturday night when she had arranged a night out with the girls. I was going to surprise them. The surprise kind of back fired as there had been a second plot- a party at Roxanne’s to welcome me home!

I felt so lucky to have such amazing friends, I still do. That night we went into Cardiff, drank, danced, shared yet more news and the rest was a happy blur of laughing. I stayed out that night to extend the party but was sure Roxy would be up when I got to her parents house. She unfortunately wasn’t so I hunkered down at her patio table in my tiny white dress and hoped not to freeze. As I started to snooze, I felt this heavy thing land on my lap, I looked down and one of her German Shepherds was cuddling me, then the other came along and did the same.

By the time Roxy’s mother saw me through the kitchen window I was as warm and cosy as could be with the dogs. I must not have looked that way though, she was sure I was dead at first. Whoops!

After these escapades, I realised that I needed to find a place to stay and a job too! My elder sister (2nd oldest) took me in, I stayed there for a week or two but I couldn’t find a job and wasn’t allowed to sign on. I also spent all of my free time writing to or talking to Squaddie. Needless to say, I was a terrible house guest! So, I moved back in with my friend after a year of being away, I got a job in a pub with her help and tried to be better there than I was at my sisters until I could find somewhere more permanent.

The plan was to move in with Roxy when she moved into her flat. I fell in love with that flat the moment I saw it and could just imagine some of the amazing times we’d have there.

In the meantime, Squaddie was planning for R&R and wanted to come and see me. Of course, I jumped at the chance and we arranged that he would come straight to me from Brize. It felt like a dream to me at the time when he did just that.

Instead of going straight to Newcastle, he came to me. We spent the night in a hotel in Cardiff Bay and had our first real date. I think it was dinner and a movie but I can’t think what we would have watched. The next day, he didn’t want to leave me and I didn’t want him to leave.

So we both got on a train and went to Newcastle. I spent his entire R&R with him.

I met all of his family, friends and exes while I was there. Even his family from down south. He showed me around the Toon and took me to my first football match.We were inseparable when he wasn’t driving his ex to college. I let this slide because I believed him when he said he loved me and felt bad because she still had feelings for him. He wanted to let her down gently.

Ladies and gents, this is very rarely true. Just saying.

By the end of the two weeks together, I was convinced that I loved him too and this would last forever. I immediately wrote him a letter to tell him.

And when he received it, he changed. I was hooked. Less work for him. But I am jumping ahead there.

I moved into the flat with Roxy the day I returned and decided to leave the fact that I’d essentially quit my job to go to Newcastle for another day.

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Life, mental health, self love

Some sort of ‘love’ story…

So, we are still in Magaluf. The trip that changed my life completely, in many ways.

A few weeks after what happened in my last post, I was at work selling jelly shots as normal when I met a group of squaddies. They bought most of my tray so I stayed and had some banter with them. I went back and forth to their table a couple of times that night, they were good buyers and I thought one of them was quite cute, let’s call him “Squaddie” for obvious reasons. It turns out that he thought the same about me. We chatted and flirted for a little while that night and then I went off with an extra spring in my step but thought no more of it.

A few days later, I saw Squaddie again. He was alone at a table where I worked, waiting for me. He told me that he had been in every night since and had ditched his friends to find me as they were a little sick of hanging round the same bar every night. I told him that I couldn’t talk, I had to work, so he bought my whole tray of shots so I’d talk to him. He was treating me differently to the way most men would. I fast became his “little angel”.

After work that night, we went on a sort of date. He had waited in the bar for me while I sorted out my tray and cash, he was pacing when I got back, saying he thought I’d ditched him. We got a few drinks and went for splash in the sea, we talked and laughed. He told me that I was too good for the life I was living. It was all a bit much but it was all I wanted to hear. It had been a year since my mother had passed and so much had happened in that time with exes and friends that I just felt so alone.

I was crying out for love.

After Squaddie flew home to Newcastle the next day, he found me on Facebook and begged me to buy a new phone as mine had been stolen at the beach. I did and he would phone me daily, never talking to me for less than a couple of hours. I thought that this was a bit much but rationalised it as me not being used to men being nice to me. Besides, he was going to Afghanistan soon and wanted someone waiting for him. He asked me daily if I’d write to him, I agreed that I would.

Over the next few weeks until he went, he got more and more obsessive. He didn’t like me being a shot girl anymore- because people would treat me worse than I deserved. If I didn’t answer my phone- was I with someone else? That sort of thing.

We spoke about it a little and he said it was just nerves about going away and his friends had been teasing him about me. I didn’t really take that as a warning sign, I was just happy he cared enough to be jealous.

We weren’t in a relationship yet, but I knew we would be soon. I was over the moon as I felt like he might love me one day.

I was desperate to be loved.

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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, 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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