I came to a point where I had heard so many incredible stories about people’s lives and had experienced so many different sides of life myself that I felt the time had come to start telling those stories.
Not only stories loaded with emotion but stories that inspire, that speak of the special glow inside every heart that chooses to carry on, to overcome and to become more.
There is one story in particular that I have wanted to tell for a long time. This is story of a woman close to my heart and with her permission, I will try to paint you a picture of her life.
Often, in therapy, a psychologist might ask what your first memories are. Her first memories seemed to be quite average. Painting, riding a bicycle, listening to music and fairy tales, walking around in her mother’s high heels… her beautiful cat.
Nightmares that would stay imprinted in her mind forever, somehow being left behind at school, getting lost in a shop, being left alone in a hospital room after having her tonsils removed (was that real?).
She remembered locking her bedroom door from the inside one night, as children do when experimenting with random things and not quite realising the implications. A terrifying nightmare woke her up as frightened parents were banging on the door trying to get in. She had also removed the key from the lock and in her anxious state, in pitch blackness, had to crawl around trying to find it on the carpet. She assumed that both her parents were there on the other side of the door but all she could remember was her father’s voice. He guided her through both of their fears and she eventually located the key and pushed it to him under the door. Being a parent herself now she could only guess that he was preparing to break the door down at any moment.
There were family times, according to the photo albums she had paged through over and over throughout the years. Some she thought she remembered – Easters, Christmases, birthdays. The only memory she had of her parents being together was holding a hand on each side of her as they did the “1-2-3-swing” while walking to the shops.
Then there was only her father and it’s understandably difficult to “1-2-3-swing” a kid when you only have one hand.
Her mother had moved to the big city to “follow her dreams”. That was the story anyway. Thirty years later when she thought about it, she doubted whether those “dreams” were ever close to realisation.
Either way, as a little girl of seven years old (or young) she found herself sitting on a couch, facing both her parents as they asked her to choose who she wanted to live with. That decision would change the course of her life irrevocably. She would blame herself for the choice later in life, although she wasn’t told the truth at the time. Was it fair to ask a little girl to make such an enormous decision?
She would tell, matter of factly, how around the same time she had experienced ongoing abuse from a family member. The kind that no little girl should ever have to deal with. The kind that left her hugging her knees in a corner, in the dark, too scared to make a sound in case anyone found out. Too scared to fall asleep.
She lost her grandfather to illness. Having been the apple of his eye, this loss broke her heart and for many years afterwards she would find comfort curled up on his armchair.
How did she cope? I asked.
She dreamed, she immersed herself in stories, she believed in fairies and she was free when she danced.
So much more…
Her story continues. And there’s so much more to tell that it wouldn’t feel right to try and squash it all into one post. So if you’re in the mood for a story, if you want to know what happens to her, please come back for the next chapter.