I’ve wanted to re-write this Then & Now – A Brief History On Me blog post for a while now… I lost the original content along with a bunch of other blog posts when my website was wiped mid-2015. It was absolutely devastating. I had lost everything I had created – and this particular post which I wrote to help myself heal, was gone.
I contemplated publishing it for so long before it finally went live back in 2014. When it was available for others to read I only received the best feedback and supportive comments. This in turn, helped me feel less alone and that much more understood.
This post is a little different because there are no photos. Secondly, it’s incredibly personal and unlike anything I usually post here.
Grab a cup of tea (she’s lengthy) and let me know in the comments about what you think.
Up until the age of about 5-6 years old I was sexually abused by a male family member. It was only in my late teens that I really started to question things that had happened. I had suppressed the memories deep into the back of my mind for so long to protect myself.
I have always been an overly anxious person. As I got older I started to think about where this anxiety had stemmed from. Why did I have certain issues with being in control, talking on the phone, catching the bus or making eye contact with older men? I just seemed to have problems with things that no one else did and none of it made any sense. Why did I have such a cruel, horrible person in my life when all they were supposed to do was love and protect me?
No one is born anxious… something has to take place for it to begin.
Once I started remembering and realising the things that had happened to me, I couldn’t stop. It became a really awful obsession. I remember getting hold of the affidavit from the court case and reading through it bursting into tears. I could remember so much of it, but those memories had almost been wiped clean before I started reading over them again. The more I read, the fresher the memories became. I made it a goal to read the document over and over until I could get through the thing without crying. I felt like if I could do that, then it wouldn’t affect me anymore.
I only have 5 photos of myself as a young child because the rest are all with him… but the photos that I do have are awful. I can’t look at them for too long because I just look like this overly anxious, upset little baby. I have this one particular photo we’re I’m sitting in a high chair staring at the camera with my hands clenching tightly on the arm rests. Whoever was taking that photo is not someone I liked.
Like many of us, I was bullied quite a bit in intermediate and high school. It wasn’t your typical ‘stealing your lunch’ kind of bullying either. It was really awful, passive aggressive bullying that happened within my all-female friends group. But because I was so anxious and didn’t make friends easily, I let them treat me that way. Ganging up on me at slumber parties, aggressive texting telling me not to come to school that day because I’ll get killed, burn books and one of the worst things that had ever happened was having a sanitary pad with red marker pen on it stuck to my backpack without my knowledge. I walked from one side of the school to my class on the other side and didn’t know it was there. It was absolutely humiliating, and at that age you think your life is over when something embarrassing like that happens. I was constantly made to feel like a stupid idiot, who no one else would want to be friends with.
Not only was I being bullied daily, but I had school work to deal with, my mum/siblings and puberty… being a teenager was really fucking hard.
I started drinking a lot of alcohol because it felt good. I would often be hung over both days on the weekends, including being hung over at part-time jobs which is so bad now that I think back to it. I also started taking a lot of drugs – party pills, ecstasy, acid and prescription medication (I also smoked weed for the first time when I was 13, got caught and was in a load of trouble). All of this, while also being on antidepressants wasn’t ideal.
I remember getting stomach ulcers and being given a massive container of codeine to help with the pain. In the beginning I took them for the pain and got better. But then I had a bottle of pills just sitting there… so I would take a couple one day, then that would turn into 3, 4 and by the time I finished the jar I was taking 8 codeine pills at once and conking out on my bed every night. I also lied to the pharmacist about still being in pain so that I could get another bottle. I lost a load of weight, I was a NZ size 6 – my boobs disappeared and my periods stopped. I remember my friends told me… “Charlotte if you don’t start eating you’ll be in hospital eating out of a tube soon”.
Once I got caught doing intravenous drugs, that was when shit hit the fan and I was dropped off at CADS (Counseling for Alcohol and Drugs). I had to go to a meeting every week. I only slipped up once and injected again, but I took myself back and got off the drugs completely. It was an escape, it felt SO good to just feel blissful inside for once but it was so dangerous. I could have easily died.
I’ve been in physically, and emotionally abusive relationships and let me tell you… It’s amazing once you’re out of something so terrible that you can look back and wonder who that person was. Who was I back then? Why did I let someone have such control over my mind and body.
I felt like I had no control over what had happened to me when I was younger, so why was I worth a loving and caring relationship? The destructive spiral continued…
“We accept the love we think we deserve”.
Next up, a pile of horrendous work place bullying (in my adult life) – this bullying was so bad, the police were nearly involved. I felt completely alone, and this Office Manager just bullied the crap out of me until I turned into this skinny, defeated shell of a human. I stopped eating, stopped going out on the weekends, didn’t enjoy anything that I usually loved doing, and would constantly be haunted by what was coming my way on Monday morning. I had panic attacks on the bus going into work, and would call my mum every lunch time and ball my eyes out. I had to take spare makeup to work because I would cry it off every day. I would also wake up each morning when my alarm went off, and start crying to Carl about how scared I was to go to work. This job was in Newmarket, and even now… I can’t go to Newmarket without feeling slightly sick because of what I associate the suburb with.
During this whole ordeal I also dislocated my knee cap while playing indoor netball. I was filling in for a team member who was a completely nasty cow to me. My knee was so swollen I couldn’t even walk to the car properly and once I sat down I burst into tears and told Carl what had happened and that I need to go to the emergency room immediately. No one at this job asked me if was okay, I didn’t even get a thank you for filling in at netball. I was also made to come in early the next day and setup a room for an event – while I had a dislocated knee and crutches…
So if you’ve ever wondered why I’m:
- Fiercely protective of family and friends
- A people pleaser
- A fighter
- Full of so much love to share with other loving people…
It’s because I’ve been through some awful shit for someone who is only 28 years old and I’ve had to be all those things to survive. My life has been full of really negative and really positive situations. They are what has helped create the amazing woman who I am today. Re-writing this feels really good, even though my throat feels so choked up while I’m typing this out.
I have completely turned my life around and I’m the happiest, most content I have ever been right now. Remember, everyone has their own story, their own past that may not be pretty and you never ever know what someone else has been though unless they choose to tell you.
“Don’t ever let yourself be a victim, I prefer the word ‘survivor’ instead”.
If you ever need to talk to someone write me a completely confidential email at email@example.com – If you would rather have a Skype chat we could do that too – keep talking and don’t let something terrible from your past shape your future.
Another way to help myself heal was to do some public speaking. I was shit scared, but I wanted to stand up and share my experiences with a group of random people. And that’s exactly what I did!
You can watch my Ted Style Talk here on my Youtube Channel – remember to subscribe!