Legacy

Well, I'm here. I'm "in."

My studio.

I honestly thought I'd be staring at the four walls by now, my nerves rising; the realisation dawning on me that I've made another massive mistake. Who the hell do I think I am? Hiring a room in which to write before I've even earned a penny?

But it's peaceful. Blissful, in fact. Just me, the cool air and a laptop keyboard.

It's a shame working from home hasn't worked out. There are many reasons (which I won't bore you with). Deciding to hire a room for writing seemed the only solution and a really exciting one. When I secured it, I was ecstatic. The manager of the building waived the deposit and even gave me two free weeks in order to paint and move my things in. And the rent is peanuts. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be here. Out of a choice of at least 30 offices, I picked the smallest one, the one with a horribly stained carpet and a hint of a window. I'm hoping my mind will prove to be my "view".

I want to tell you more about this building, about the background of where I'm sitting, as there is a very interesting story behind it. But that tale's going to be told in the blog post that will launch my new website. The next few days will be spent finishing my site, sorting out my portfolio and tying up many loose ends.

I finished painting the room last week, still feeling ecstatic. I then had to wait for the school holidays to begin and the kids would be at holiday club for two days a week, so that I could start work.

And then I fell apart.

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Some of you who know me either in real life or on Twitter, will know that I've been having a rough few days. I've put it down to a kind of stage-fright. I've been scared about the future, worried about making another mistake, another poor choice, terrified about the responsibility I've taken on.

It's comfortable to stay in the same place, isn't it? We all need familiarity… safety.

I've struggled to understand why I've been feeling so jittery. I've been through many changes in life and I have grown to accept that even when you're at your lowest ebb, you need to just cling onto the fact that, as the clock ticks, foundations are shifting on a deeper level and the future is already changing. You just have to wait it out. Even though it's hell on earth.

And then on Sunday night, I just couldn't sleep.

A small altercation on the phone with my boyfriend in London meant that I went to bed feeling very angry. It was nothing serious, nothing serious AT ALL. But it was enough to keep me awake.

I lay there thinking about the past few years, about all the drama and difficulty, and the changes that were coming.

A "stock-take" of life, in the dead of night. Yes, we've all been there.

Where am I going?

Who am I?

Well, the fact that I've just taken a huge financial risk in hiring an office, although I haven't earned anything yet, proves that I'm a risk-taker. Rightly or wrongly, give me a situation that involves diving into the unknown or paddling in the safety of shallow, warm waters, and I will always sway towards taking that giant leap into the deep, darkness of the abyss.

What else?

I'm an eternal optimist. Give me a glass and I'll show you it's half full. If you're feeling down, I'll tell you to look skyward and watch the sun against the clouds. Or, if it's rainy and grey, I'll do my utmost to make you laugh.

I'm a carer and a nurturer. Gather me some ingredients and I'll make you something to eat. I won't just slap it together, I'll think about it; about how delicious I can make it, about your likes and dislikes, then I'll prepare it and serve it with love. I will probably even do the washing up afterwards.

I'm a survivor. Give me a problem, a crisis, a disaster…and I'll cope. Eventually.

If the problem's mine, I'll take control and do my best to solve it. If the problem's yours, I'll listen. And whilst I can't solve it for you, I have lived a challenging life and the chances are I may be able to draw a parallel with my own past experience that may help you find an answer. Even if that answer means, under whatever circumstance, DON'T do what I did.

If there's a crisis, I'll be calm and rational. Eventually. I've never seen anything work out well when there's someone running around like a headless chicken, wringing their hands.

If there's a disaster, I'll call upon my courage (there are reserves within me that even astound me. Once you've survived something awful, it's amazing how it can make the day to day problems seem bearable).

There! Those are the parts of myself I like. Those of the parts of myself I have managed to polish to a shine, having picked my way through the debris of terrible experiences.

Isn't it a shame that looking at the other stuff is so much harder?

Let's see…

… I'm angry.

No, that's not true; what's the term? I have "unresolved anger".

I joke about the "red mist", but really, it IS a problem. I was once again reminded of this on Sunday night as I sent a succession of furious texts to my boyfriend. Each one he quite rightly ignored, as I was out of control; abusive, unreasonable… just utterly horrible.

It's a problem I need to look at in depth, as I get stronger. And I WILL deal with it. Although doing so is going to be terrifying in itself.

The anger is also connected entirely with the other part of me that I find hard to deal with…

…the hardest part of all.

Fear.

The most frightening time in my life involved me lying on a bed, my ankles and wrists bound with masking tape, a woollen gag stuffed into my mouth and taped over. Sounds were muffled, as my ears were partially taped over too. Although I have a feeling that if they weren't, I still wouldn't have been able to hear anything over my hammering heartbeat.

I never knew where he was, you see. He was cat-like, swiftly and silently moving around in the darkness. One moment he was with me. Then he'd leave me for what seemed like hours, though of course it was probably only seconds, minutes at most.

I cannot even begin to express how intense the fear was…

…as I was left…

… waiting.

And although it seems a shocking way to describe a rapist… he had grace.

Fluidity of movement… like a conductor with an entire orchestra in the palm of his hand.

This was his dream, you see. Years of planning and dreaming, culminating in this one October night. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He couldn't mess this up.

He had perfect control.

He had me.

And when he chose to, he'd return to me. Suddenly, and without warning.

Cat-like again, he would suddenly brush against me. Whispering threats into my ear, my heart leaping from my chest once more with shock and fear, as the smooth leather of his gloves took exactly what he wanted…

…as he hurt me. Forever.

How he loved this game…

… how he loved destroying me that night!

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It's funny, isn't it? If you think about how many experiences we have in a day, and then expand that to a week, a month, a year…

…so many things HAPPEN. And each experience, affects who we are from that moment on. Things can never be the same.

Most of the time, I like myself. I like that I have managed to survive.

I like the fact that, even in my darkest times, I can still laugh.

But now, through my writing, I want to rid myself…no, that's wrong again…I want to control the parts of myself that I cannot stand. I want to wash away as much of the anger and fear that I can, before it threatens to poison me for the rest of my life.

Of course, we all need some anger within us. Anger can be the emotion that propels us to get things done. But I'm talking about the white-hot, abusive kind. The kind that snuffs out a connection. The kind that makes people unsee you with those loving eyes of theirs and begin to see you with the eyes of a stranger; the eyes of someone who would really rather be going, thanks.

The kind of anger that ends relationships. 

Due to my experiences, I'm in touch with many women (and men) who are trying hard to recover from this kind of trauma. Many of their experiences are way more recent than mine. I continue to find it inspirational. These people are standing their ground, turning around and facing the fears that chase them. Some of these people tell me that I've come so far in the twenty-four years since it happened.

And I can honestly say that some days are good days, that's all… the days when I barely think about it.

And on the bad days, when I lie awake at night sometimes, alone, in that world where shadows become monsters and the silence is deafening…

…the days, weeks and months that made up those twenty four years dissolve in the blink of an eye…

… and I'm frightened again.

I'm right back there on the bed. My heart hammering, the masking tape pulling at my hair.

The voice in my ear.

The leather on my skin.

And I truly hate him for it…

…this legacy.

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We all find it very hard when someone walks away from us, when someone leaves us, when we are ignored.

Sadly, it's happened to me too many times with many people I have cared deeply about. Sometimes through illness, sometimes through unforeseen circumstance, often by choice.

But I seem not to be able to bear it; to think rationally about it. I cannot see for the rage I feel within me. I want to scream, to cry, to beg… anything!

I want to hurt, as much as I feel hurt.

And after a silly row on Sunday night and the resulting insomnia, I've been through some painful soul-searching and self-examination.

I think I've found an answer as to why I sometimes behave so irrationally, why the "red mist" descends.

Being left makes those years dissolve once again, back to a time when I was a "non-entity" (and I use his words, not mine – imagine turning on the TV to see your attacker talking openly about you on a prime-time TV show, without any warning whatsoever. That's a story for another time…).

Being ignored takes me back to a time when I was invisible; I was an object… a thing that didn't matter.

And the anger and fear rises in me once again…

Shout at me!

Be furious with me!

Call me names!

But please don't ever leave.

Just please… whatever you do….

…don't leave me alone in that unbearable darkness of who I sometimes am…

don't leave me on that bed.

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