The sort of person who would get frightened when someone asked how she was. Not just because it would be a lie to say anything except “totally terrified”, but because to say “I’m fine” would be to tempt fate.
To be fine left me open to all sorts of things. Because I had been fine on the day I nearly died, hadn’t I? I’d been so normal and so fine. And fine had changed to disaster so very quickly.
I learned to be really wary of fine. Of okay. It seemed like a state that could never be permanent. It seemed arrogant almost. Because you cannot un-know how quickly life can change once you have experienced it.
You never get to forget.
A lot of people cope with this knowing by building their entire life around protecting themselves. It’s a full time job to see the world as a totally unsafe place.
Fear on this level isn’t a mental thing. The body remembers it. Feels everything on the outside as potential trauma. It’s why I used to shake so hard people thought I had a physical illness. It wasn’t physical by then. It was my body experiencing constant, all consuming fear.
Overcoming fear seems like an impossible endeavour. I never thought I would get to the other side of it. My greatest hope was that I could learn to hide it effectively enough to be considered normal.
If I had known then that fear does dissipate. Gradually. That time does heal. Slowly. That the flashes of normality would turn into moments. That moments would morph into whole days of feeling okay? It would have made the road to here a lot more bearable.
When I set this little website up I was still very broken. Life was still very dark. I didn’t think it would improve beyond being physically able to care for myself.
I’m glad I was wrong.
The majority of the people in my life didn’t know the broken shell that I was a few years ago. Who shook constantly. Couldn’t look people in the eye.
Cut her hair with kitchen scissors because she couldn’t bear to be touched.
Who couldn’t look in mirrors because the stranger staring back at her was too much to take in.
Who wore her dad’s clothes because it was the easiest way to be invisible.
I don’t think of that version of me very often these days. But I never forget her. She’s etched onto my soul and remains my greatest teacher. Even if I’m not always comfortable with it being this way.
Sometimes it’s easier to pretend I can forget. It’s why I let the original site go. I wanted to move on. I wanted to forget. To see if it was possible.
But life had other ideas.
I never forget that there are people right now who are in the same situation that I was in. Who don’t believe that they will ever feel unbroken again. Who think that this shell of a person is who they have to be forever.
And it would be wrong of me to try and forget that anymore. To forget that it’s why I moved to London. Why I changed my career. Why I searched for every available platform anyone would give me.
Why a commitment to help others who are now where I once was is a permanent commitment. Not something I can try to forget in a bid to feel normal.
No one really gets to forget the defining moments that shaped them. Good or bad. The real art lies in focussing attention on the solutions. Remembering that the bits too horrible to forget all have the potential to be resolved.
If they didn’t? Then I would still be broken. But I’m not.
And you don’t have to be either.
Never forget that x