Its funny the connections you make along the way in life. When I met todays blogger I had no idea the impact I would have on her…..or her on me. From the first meeting we have been supporting each other to do one thing. Be free. Its hard to be free when you have so much you try to hard, but like my mumsy used to tell me…the truth will set you free.
This is a 2 part blog…..which is a sign of how much this blog means to the person who wrote it.
I would like to introduce you to my friend from the Dark Side….
Permission not granted.
When you’re invited to be the guest blogger for Kendra you immediately say yes. Her blogs are legendary and always so well written and address topics that are always gritty. She is a powerhouse of a human being and someone for whom I have nothing but the utmost respect. No pressure there then for me to write something that is anywhere near as readable as her blogs. She is also the person who, without knowing the details of my back story, has given me the courage and strength to face a few demons from my past that I had hoped were buried so deeply that they were festering away in my memories never to see the light of day again. How wrong was !?!! Demons that are part of your story, part of the very fabric of your being, will eventually work their way back into your conscious mind no matter how hard you try to deny their existence. Demons don’t stay buried forever they have a nasty habit of resurfacing when you least expect them too. Mine came to the surface in a training session around gangs and CSE. It side swiped me completely.
The thing is we all have a back story, we all have things that have happened in our lives that shape us to who we are now – that girl who waits for the bus everyday with her earphones in, gently nodding her head in time to the beat well she has a story to tell, hers could be all rainbows and butterflies – we won’t know, so does the irritating person who lives next door to community centre and constantly moans about the noise – who knows what her story says. I have a back story – it’s not unique but it’s a back story that could resonate with many women. I’m not sure I’m ready to tell the whole story just yet – I’ve kept it at bay for over 30 years. And then there’s that panic about how much I should talk about given that this is my first guest blog for Kendra – if I say too much it feels a bit like putting out on the first date – you have nowhere left to go for the second date… you get what I mean?
For the most part my story is fairly vanilla – quite bland and not threatening at all. But there was a part of it that lasted for around 2 and a half years that was definitely not vanilla. It was as far removed from vanilla that you could get. On the rare occasion that I let someone in and start to tell them the more palatable bits of the dark part they look confused, They usually say things like but you’re so strong, I can’t believe that you would have let something like that happen to you. And there it is. “Let that happen to you.” That sentence is like a slap across the face. It cuts deep into my soul. Why do we do that? We don’t we say something like “why the hell would someone treat you like that”….. To me it’s something that we say when we can’t reconcile what we’re hearing with the person wea re hearing it from. It implies that somehow we were complicit in the bad things that happened, that in some way we gave permission for them to happen because maybe just maybe that’s easier for the other person to swallow than accepting that someone who is (now) as strong as me wasn’t always this way and was a victim. That somehow it weakens me in their eyes, that I “allowed” those things to happen because I was weaker than I am now. And that is the reason I don’t tell many people about the things that have happened to me. I can’t take responsibility for how it makes them feel, I can barely be responsible for my own feelings around it. I can’t take the risk that they will behave differently around me afterwards. I can’t take that gamble with my sanity or my safety. I find myself making excuses for what happened to me to make it easier for them to hear, easier for them to digest. Things like “ oh I was only 20 what did I know?” (he was 19 years older than me) “I was grieving”(my brother had recently died) “ I was drinking a lot”(he was a heavy drinker too) “For the most part he was lovely” (well sort of) “it wasn’t that bad…..”(the biggest lie of them al) but deep inside I am screaming that I never gave him permission for any of it, I never gave him permission to abuse my trust in him, I never gave him permission to hurt me, I never gave him permission to hit me, I never gave him permission to rape me. And I most definitely never gave him permission to get his friends to rape me one by one. And I definitely didn’t give permission for him to repeat any of these things. But he did.
Then one day you meet someone like Kendra and her whole demeanour says “tell me your story – I’m listening, I’ll keep you safe. I get it” So here I am. Starting to tell my story….