After reading about our Pornography Society on the blog Purposefully Scarred I got a little emotional. Although this post is going to be difficult for me to write, it needs to finally come out of my head and onto the screen. I’m an incredibly open person, I wear my heart on my sleeve and always have done. But some things are best left buried in the depths of the past and this is a topic I rarely speak about. I was sexually abused as a child. Throughout my life I’ve always had people who were worse off than me, and even the most horrendous things that have happened have paled into insignificance when compared to other people’s problems. A handful of my friends have stories so much worse than mine, when I put it all into context it doesn’t even feel like I have much to be sad about. Maybe it’s this attitude that allows people to get away with far more than they should, I don’t know. I think for me it has been a coping mechanism, self preservation to ensure I didn’t fall to pieces.
I was abused by two people (separately) for about two years between the ages of 8 and 10. My eldest cousin used to babysit for us and was eight or so years older than me. The other person was the son of my mothers best friend. He was a very messed up character, and often stayed with us after arguing with his mum. Although they both completely took advantage of a very young child, they were nothing more than randy teenage boys. I’m not letting them off the hook, but I’ve never viewed them in the same way I would my friends father that raped her when she was 15. Or my other friend who was so badly abused by her fathers friend that she felt she was being raped whenever she had sex as an adult.
I feel that pornography played a large role in my abuse. I grew up in an environment where people had open and frank discussions about sex around the kids, and remember being privy to many adult conversations about bedroom antics and porno videos. I know my memories are blurry but it felt like there was always porn in the house. I have very distinct memories of myself and my half brother taking it in turns to watch the film while the other one guarded the door to make sure no adults knew what we were getting up to. I couldn’t have been more than nine years old, which would have meant he was six. Our innocence was stolen in many ways from a very young age. He went on to have major drug dependency issues and was sectioned for the first time at just 21. That’s another story though, for a different day.
My point is that I grew up in a highly dysfunctional household. None of my school friends had waifs and strays staying in their spare rooms, and porn videos readily at their fingertips when they were growing up. None of them ended up being abused like I was, and I can see a massive correlation between the porn and why these teenage boys couldn’t control their teenage urges. Nowadays porn is everywhere, and I wonder how many other little girls and boys have had to suffer like I did as a result. We can’t even go to the post office to send a parcel without our children being greeted with images of naked ladies on the front of trashy magazines and trashier tabloids. We have a whole generation of young people (both sexes) that think huge fake boobs and a size 8 waist is normal. That female genitals should be groomed, and are repulsed by the sight of actual pubic hair and a post-pregnancy belly avec stretch marks. If they’re watching the harder core porn then I can only imagine what their expectations are when it comes to having sex. I’ve read some very disturbing blog posts about date rape recently and I get the feeling that attitudes are becoming warped.
Unless our young boys respect their female peers, and our young girls respect themselves it will be a disaster. I’m not an expert but from where I’m standing it feels like we’re in the midst of an epidemic.
Something needs to be done to change things.
I have to say that I’m getting a bit peed off by all the blog posts, tweets and Facebook statuses implying that people are dreading the school holidays. As if spending six weeks at home with their kids is the worst thing that will happen to them this year. Here’s an idea: if you think something will be hideous it more than likely will be. It becomes the worst kind of self fulfilling prophecy.
I’m writing this post on the train to work, it’s not even 7am and I’m not feeling great. At 10(ish) weeks pregnant with my third child, I don’t need to bore you with the ins and outs of my constant nausea and sheer exhaustion. However, one thing that’s guaranteed to make me feel even worse is constantly going on about how crap I feel. The saying ‘I think, therefore I am’ springs to mind. So many things are completely out of our control – over analysing and dwelling will get us nowhere.
Rather than dread something and build it up in my head to be a terrible event, I tend to focus on the positive side of a situation. If a positive seems impossible to find, then I try not to think about it at all. Us Brits usually love a good whinge, but I prefer to be grateful for all that’s fabulous in life and not waste my precious energy getting upset over what’s wrong with it.
If I were getting stressed out by the thought of the holidays I would write a list of all the things I’d like to do but couldn’t usually because of being restricted by school times. Top of my list would more than likely be catching up with my lovely friends that live miles away that I don’t get to see as often as I would like. Not having to rush around in the mornings would surely be in there somewhere. As would not having to contend with the mummy mafia at the gates. I say if because my eldest enters the school system in Sept… watch this space, my attitude might be different this time next year 😉
As I stated when I posted my first piece for this blog, I’m not the kind of mum who strives to achieve perfection. Anyone that is, in my humble opinion, is going to make themselves very miserable in the process. The way I see it, motherhood and perfectionism do not belong on the same page let alone in the same sentence.
From what I can gather from social media and blog reading, lots of mummy’s are obsessed with the idea of becoming yummy, which seems to be making them feel like crap. If you’re wrapped up in negativity about yourself it will filter down onto your babies, which surely is the opposite of the desired effect? I say buck the trend, love yourself inside and out and it will project from your every fibre making you the yummiest mummy of them all – without having to conform.
So what if you’re a dress size bigger since being pregnant, it is not the end of the world. Who cares if your house happens to be smaller than the rest of your NCT group? Seriously, look at the bigger picture. Work out what is important and focus your energy on making the world your family grows up in a happy one.
The best mums I know are the ones who are confident in their own abilities. They don’t waste their time on helicopter parenting, and trying to keep up with the Joneses. They aren’t interested in comparing your children with theirs. They learned long ago that the house did not need to look immaculate 24/7. That their kids would be much happier if they weren’t doing every activity under the sun. They don’t have overly stressful jobs to contend with at the same time as child rearing. Above all else, they have realised the lifestyle they used to have largely isn’t relevant or appropriate right now.
We all want luxuries in our lives, but in the early days of bringing up kids I personally think it’s better to make sacrifices and separate the needs from the wants. Once you’ve done this, I’m pretty sure you’ll be happier for it.
As I’ve mentioned before my hubby and I met while we were travelling. We spent our first two years together flitting back and forth from here, Australia and our beloved Asia. It was during our second year together that I made the decision to cut ties with my family. As you can imagine I was a damaged soul. We were drinking and partying way too much. Things got dark and spiralled out of control. Even the counselling I’d gone through several years earlier wasn’t enough to bring me to my senses. It all came to a head in early 2006 while we were living in Asia. We split up and returned home separately. I will definitely write more on this topic another time. For now I’d just like to set the scene.
I started working as the assistant to the Owner/Director of a group of small recruitment companies and my ex-boss made Meryl Streep look tame in The Devil Wears Prada. He would come in to work the day after watching The Apprentice and re-enact the firing Lord Al had carried out the night before. He was a nasty piece of work, but if you were on his good side then he looked after you and treated you well. I was on his good side for months, and along with a small number of others became part of his inner circle. He dangled the carrot of a six figure salary and I worked my butt off to try and achieve it. It never happened of course, doubt it ever does, but when you’ve had an upbringing like mine you can only dream of earning that type of cash.
Things turned sour between us towards the end of the year and it all kicked off on a trip to Reykjavik. No expense spared weekends away with work colleagues were par for the course. They were the boom days after all, when people had more money than sense. We were all out drinking and I happened to disagree with something he said. He didn’t take kindly to people disagreeing, which I knew, but being hammered didn’t have the good sense to filter my comments. Looking back he did me a massive favour, but at the time I wanted the ground to open and swallow me whole.
It was the morning after this occurred that I hit what alcoholics and drug addicts call rock bottom. Alone in a hotel room in a strange country not knowing how I got to bed, feeling the full effects of the 48 hour bender I had been on. I looked in the mirror and told myself it had to end. No more booze. No more partying. No more getting myself into ridiculous situations. I suppose this was my sliding doors moment, carry on as is or change my wicked ways. I chose to change and break the cycle of dysfunction I had been engrossed in all my life. Needless to say it was the hardest thing I have ever done.
I didn’t have a drink in three months, after which I taught myself how to enjoy a glass of wine and say no to a second. This was something I had never been able to do before. I realised I had thrown my relationship away and that my hubby was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Fortunately he took me back. I am still amazed that he forgave me and has never held a grudge for all I put him through.
As I enter my third pregnancy it has been occurring to me how fortunate I am to have the life I do. Each and every day I thank my lucky stars, and I never take the small stuff for granted. Had my sliding doors moment gone the other way things would have been very different.
It may sound crazy but at 34 I’m grateful for the ‘colourful life’ I’ve had. All the horrendous experiences in my earlier days have made me the person I am and if I had my time over I honestly wouldn’t change a single thing. Unsurprisingly this hasn’t always been the case. The counselling I went through in my early twenties plays a huge part in my ability to function and be normal right now. Without it I’m pretty sure I would still have my family in my life taking me for a ride on a daily basis. I’d more than likely still not have any self respect. And I probably wouldn’t be married to my darling hubby.
I was very fortunate to find a good counsellor at a time in my life where I desperately needed guidance. Nina and I instantly clicked and over the next few years she taught me to love myself. Not in a wishy washy American TV show type way, but she genuinely changed the way I viewed myself and made me realise that I deserved better than I was getting. I saw her frequently for about a year, then less so over the next few years as I was away travelling. Whenever I was in the UK I would make some to see Nina, and got so much out of our sessions I can’t even properly articulate it.
It was Nina that opened my eyes up to how much my mother and co. were taking me for granted. How I was playing the parent role and she was the lost child. In many respects it had always been this way, but after I left home I became a source of financial aid for her as well as emotional. In the first few months that I was seeing Nina I redefined the rules with my mother – taught her that it wasn’t okay to call me up at work and tell me some sob story that ended with me spending half an hour on the phone, then sending her money. That it wasn’t okay to expect me to come running to her rescue all the time. She didn’t like it one bit, but she didn’t have a choice and had to deal with it. Our relationship definitely changed for the better during this time, but other situations forced us apart in the end.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve had wobbly moments, and I didn’t come to terms with my drinking problem until a few years later (detailed post to follow) but ultimately I think Nina saved me. From my family. From my past. From myself. With her help I brought the skeletons out of the cupboard and into the open where they could be properly dealt with and ghosts laid to rest. I was able to accept my past and move forwards without glancing back the whole time. Needless to say most of my early sessions ended with me in floods of tears.
It has always baffled me that folk write off even the idea of seeing a counsellor due to the money. In my opinion mental health is the most important part of your well being. If you’re not happy then your world will not work properly. I shudder to think how damaged I would still be had I not met Nina. I know with certainty I’m only able to be the wife and mum I am today because I dealt with my past way before I started thinking about having a family of my own.