But I haven’t always been this way.
They couldn’t see the survivor battling away underneath.
Some of them knew I’d been raped, some even knew I struggled sometimes, but they didn’t really understand.
Every single day.
I spent a lot of time feeling out of control and on edge. I became hyper-vigilant. So I self-medicated: alcohol, drugs, food, sex, cutting – you name it. Anything to numb my brain to the constant noise. Break the cycle.
I even planned my own death.
Over time, some things started to fall into place but I still had an overwhelming feeling of emptiness inside that I just couldn’t seem to shift.
I told myself that this was just the way my life was from now on.
It was the catalyst that changed everything.
I realised that I hadn’t been coping, that was a convenient lie.
I went back to therapy. I was referred to a psychiatrist.
But although I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, I didn’t want to make rape the focus of my life. I didn’t want to be defined by that one, devastating event.
I’d spent years and thousands of pounds trying to make sense of it all, trying to feel whole again. I knew the coaching skills combined with my real-life experience of different therapies and my own recovery could be a powerful combination to help others. But I didn’t want to.
They began to make profound changes, which previously they felt were impossible. I loved the feeling of being able to have an instant, positive impact on someone else’s life.
Everything slowly started to make sense.
I realised that my life did have a purpose, and that I couldn’t possibly leave these women to struggle alone.
Of course, there are still occasional dark times, dark thoughts. Moments of despair. But I know that they will pass. And that’s more than good enough for me. They serve as a handy reminder of just how far I’ve come.
But the greatest pleasure for me, comes from knowing that one day, you will feel this way too.
IT GETS BETTER
My story of life after rape
When every day is a fight for survival, it’s hard to believe that things can actually get better.
Hope is a very powerful drug; we need more of it to bolster our recoveries.
My hope is that my personal story will give you hope, that your life will get better too.
With the apparent cure in place, I remained totally frustrated that I still didn’t feel ‘right’, I didn’t feel like I ‘belonged’ in the world, I still felt ‘broken’ and ‘fragile’. I didn’t trust my cure, I didn’t feel connected to anyone or anything, not even myself.
At about the same time as being discharged from psychiatric treatment, I took voluntary redundancy and started my own business. As part of that, I wanted to add coaching, so became qualified, adding the NLP toolset along the way. What I found was, that in learning how to help other people, I was actually also learning how to help myself. I was learning how to start to feel connected to the world, to dreams, to future plans, to me, again.
I was feeling empowered, the kind that comes from within, and isn’t found at the bottom of a bottle of wine.
Then, one evening, completely unexpectedly, something clicked. I was at a women’s retreat, the kind where you do lots of intensive & challenging internal personal work, not the kind where you have face masks and massages. It was an exercise in connecting with our inner vitality, our inner soul animal. I watched everyone connecting with tigers, lions, dancing, moving. And yet I was trapped, I couldn’t move; I was locked, frozen, in position. The tears started rolling down my face. I realised: I hadn’t forgiven my body for what had happened to me.
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