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I was born into poverty and wealth in the north of England, the child of a single mother who left when I was nearly a year old. My grandparents brought me up from babyhood to just turned four.
Scarcity of cash (poverty) meant little clothing as a kid, and shoes worn until my toes curled, but an abundance of care (wealth) made me a content baby, a happy toddler, and a fun-loving 3-year-old.
When I turned four, my absent and unfamiliar mother returned for me. She took me to a far-away city.
Everyone decided it was best not to tell me that I was being taken away, because they knew I'd struggle and try to stay. I had bonded with my Nana and Grandad, uncles and aunts. My grandparents did not want me gone, as I found out years later, but they knew I was their daughter's child.
So, there I was, on a so-called daytrip on a train with Mummy. When day turned to night, and we arrived in a strange house with a strange man in it, I asked what time we were going home, only to be told I was home. This was the beginning of a horrific year of abuse and attempted escapes before I was finally rescued by an aunt and taken back to Nana and Grandad.
I was never the same when I returned. At five years old, fearful and distrusting of everyone, I became a target of schoolchildren almost from the beginning, and was stuck with those mean kids throughout my time at school.
I thought that leaving school as soon as I could, and beginning work, would change my life. It didn't, because unfortunately, bullies are in the workplace too. They're everywhere. We know this, right? We only have to turn on the TV to witness what people can do to each other.
It was not all bad, though—I was given a beautiful puppy at age nine, I was crowned a festival princess at age ten, and suddenly started turning heads at age 16. I became a wanderer by 19, a traveller moving to and working in various countries, mainly as a waitress, nanny, English teacher, shop assistant, barmaid. I experienced life.
My confidence grew and I became independent. Even though, deep down, I was scarred from past pains, I stuffed those hurts deep inside, and continued partying, sightseeing, sunbathing, dating. I had so much fun.
Although I didn't know it, what I was really doing was running away. Until the scars began itching, until the mean little gargoyle of guilt perched on my shoulder began whispering, and then screaming.
A repair job was necessary. I put myself through a grueling year of self-reflection, agony and grief during counseling with a brilliant professional. Oh boy, an outpouring of so many kicks in the teeth you couldn't count. But I made myself go through it, and began writing about it, and I'm now at a place of peace, strength and wholeness.
On the outside, I still look the same: a friendly, jocular woman who loves poetry, reading, cycling and watching movies curled up with my husband. On the inside, though, gone is the tangle of knots I'd carried around so long I thought they were normal.
Of course, there are still some knots. But way less.
And I'm now ready to build this website and accompanying blog. For you and yours. For anyone who needs to know they're not alone and that, with perseverance, they can survive.