There was a time when I felt that my voice was not important enough to be heard; that my life was a bit of a joke, and I truly believed that.
Sometimes those old thoughts creep back in like a shadow and pull me back down for a little while; but I am stronger now. I own my power and I am learning that I am important. What I have to say is important. And that there are many other women out there that have the same fears that I do, and I wish this was not the case.
I cannot remember a time when I felt confident as a young person. That makes me quite sad and I do wish it was different. But I think the things that I have been through, although at times they have broken me, ultimately have shaped me into the person that I am, right now, today, sitting here at my kitchen table, writing to you.
In my late teens, early twenties, I had plans. I was getting married, we would have a successful business and babies, lots of babies; life would be good wouldn’t it? After all my bad times had been already; trauma and the worst low points I had already experienced, so surely that was it now? I had my share and my time was now.
How naïve my old self was.
I realise now that hard times are not dealt out in shares. Nobody is keeping tabs and deciding when someone has had enough. That the life choices we make, and those of others mean that hard times are part and parcel of all of our lives. The challenges will continue to be fired at us. It is how we choose to respond to them, overcome and move on, that is the important part.
I look back with wiser eyes at the time when I was a single parent, living in a house that was cold, damp and gloomy; struggling to find work or a career path that would support us and allow me to have time with my child, and I feel sad. I feel sad that at that time I could not see how strong I was, I could not see the bright future that lay ahead; because I was overcome with my own mental health issues.
I was depressed and anxious and I did not feel my worth. I viewed myself as a failure, that I had let my child down; and I was not good enough for him. I was living in my past trauma. I saw myself as a victim and could not lift myself out of the mindset. If I could rewind and tell myself how things are now I would. I would tell myself own the pain, it happened, it is real, it is valid, but you are better than this. You are capable, you are strong and things will be better.
The power of hindsight.
I feel that I am one of the lucky ones, as although life was difficult, I was surrounded by love and support from my family and a small, loving and fierce circle of friends who have literally pulled me through the hard times; and I am grateful for them everyday. They know who they are. They continue to support me during times when I slip back into feeling down and unworthy. And for that I will always be thankful.
The turning point for me was when I decided to embark upon a distance learning degree. I needed a qualification if I was to pursue a career and provide the quality of life I dreamed of for my child. So that is what I did. I continued to work during the day, and study at night for four years to get my degree. The feeling of accomplishment when I graduated that day was amazing and something I will never forget; knowing that my child was sitting in the audience watching his Mum celebrate an achievement felt amazing.
I did that. It was me.
Since the day of my graduation I have developed my confidence on a daily basis, I just did not realise it until recently. I have gone on to complete my social work qualification and am now a registered social worker, a role that is not just a job to me but part of who I am.
I have realised that I am resilient. That all the failed relationships (there were a few whilst I was finding who I am) happened for a reason. I used to view them as unfair trials that had been thrown my way. But now I know they were learning experiences and have led me to meet the right man for me; and have a happy and stable home life and relationship.
Do not get me wrong, without my relationship I would still be fierce, successful, and grateful; but having him beside me is an added bonus, and something I am thankful for. He does not make me feel bad about myself, he supports my decisions, encourages my goals and wishes and tells me how proud he is of me on a daily basis. I cannot put a price on this.
I hope that by reading my story, if you are the twenty two year old me, watching others move forward, feeling stuck, feeling that you don’t matter and that you are not good enough; that you see that this is not the case.
You are absolutely good enough. You are worthy and you are capable of achieving anything you want; no matter where you have come from, or what trauma has been thrown at you.
It may take months, years or longer, but that is fine. There will be days where old thoughts creep in and getting out of bed is hard, but that is okay. You have not failed for having a bad day.
You can do it.
This piece was published anonymously.