the throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it.“the reflection of light”2. Serious thought or consideration.“he doesn’t get much time for reflection”
I’ve never been someone to like their own reflection. Never been someone to look at themselves and particularly like what they see or grow to love themselves as they’ve become a woman. I’ve been a ‘someone’ who has struggled with being herself, hidden behind numerous characters or stories. Hid in the mending of other people; helping them and not myself to make sense of life and their heads to keep them on track when I have done that of the opposite. I’ve been a someone who’s let others hurt me; not once, not twice but time and time again before speaking up or out; sometimes non of these things. I’ve been that someone who internalised a lot of her pain, hurt and anger transferring it all onto herself and into her soul, knowing that it would momentarily make the process somewhat easier and not upset or affect anyone else as much as her little heart.
I now, on this day. Saturday, the 10th March, realise that I am no longer only, singularly and purely this broken ‘someone.’ It has been two weeks since I got my physical discharge from the NHS eating disorder service (meaning that I no longer have to go in for my physical weigh-ins, assessments of bloods, health and mental capability.) It has been three months since I had my hysterectomy, a little under two since I got my full remission and I feel the best I’ve felt (physically) in well, I don’t know how many years – but a lot!
So why are you writing about this? Why are you just writing about facts, wittering on? Blah, blah, blah. I know, it seems silly and well I haven’t been able to put process onto paper for a long time. I thought this type of process (of getting better) would be a time of stillness and give me the ability to finish my book, write more. In fact it’s been the opposite if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong I’ve progressed a little and been writing my one woman show but not as much as I thought or maybe would have initially ‘liked.’ I knew that there was going to be a ‘hard’ bit after the good news. Not like a sad moment of ‘why am I well?’ as such. More of the ‘what the hell am I going to do now that I am well and not got this ‘baggage’ to hide behind? What do I do now everyone gets to see me for actually being me and not an illness? Have I worked on this or that enough to be exposed to the world? Am I okay to be me and explain my mental health battles through all of these events plus my rape? Is someone else going to hurt me out there and am I allowed to start a new relationship? How do I even begin a relationship without being poorly or mentally unwell and what do I even do? How do I begin to let someone touch me without extensive amounts of alcohol in my body? Will I ever be able to have sex or let someone come near me in that way now that I feel mentally okay and not like I need a bottle of wine to allow a man to set eyes on my face? Am I EVER going to be normal?
Yes, so you’re getting my point now right? Maybe a little more of what these last few months have been like since the ‘major op?’ Maybe why I’ve needed to write?
For those of you who don’t know my story. Don’t know my journey or even anything about me, well, I made a brave and bold choice to join a gent in van three months ago. Well, to go and live in this van really. The situation was a bit random, spontaneous – not knowing what any results were going to be from my swabs and biopsies, not even knowing if I would like to be physically close and in someone else’s presence not only in a space with the two of you, but the small amount of space in the four walls of the van that would be my home for the time being. I put myself in a situation of all the things I feared knowing full well that I was absolutely scared shitless but knowing equally, that if I did not combat them or do something soon, I would never get better or gain the confidence I needed to really be me….to really be Sophie. I have been mentally unwell for a very long time, suffered with anorexia – food and my eating for nearly a third of my life on and off with relapses, cancer, endometriosis, suicidal thoughts and depression to exceptional levels for as long as I can remember. So I went. I did it and I didn’t know if this person who was going with me was going to harm me, do what this other male friend had done to me and also not be in a place of safety. I just went. Decided to leave and knowing that I wanted to get better. I needed to get better and nobody could do it for me. It was in my hands and only mine and at that particular moment, people had not been showing me the greatest and those I cared about didn’t feel close. So Idid it. I chose to go and I went to Dorset in Uzo the van. Not having anyone close, not having safety, not having stability, not having my doctors near and being vulnerable in that I was not fully recovered. Not only that, but for the first time in a long while, allowed a man to be close to me sober and trusting them with my life since the two years prior of getting raped by a seeming ‘friend.’ I know. What the actual f***? Silly cow!
So, I did it. Okay. Wow. So, how did it go? How is it going? Are you okay? (Obviously I’m not dead! Bonus!)
So, The first few days were great. Adrenaline kicked in, I had a chance of being with nature and outdoors which is when I feel at my happiest and able to rely on nothing commercial or influenced by the government who hadn’t been my friend for a long time, especially with their cuts to my gods…the NHS and new laws. I felt good and able and like I didn’t have to rely on anyone else for the first time in a long time. I could just be me. Just me somewhere new and with some new life, a new life, away from the hurt and place that continued to drag me down and back into the trauma of my past. Then. Well, then the fear set in. The fear I’d been living my life with for the whole of my twenty seven years. I was scared of this man next to me, the person who I was with despite him being lovely and caring and kind, afraid he was going to sexually assault me or a hug or a rub of the body as he passed meant that he wanted sex when he didn’t. I was scared of new males around me. Paranoid and terrified of the cancer not being gone. I was tired, I didn’t miss my hometown but I missed having people. Space. A safe space.
The next few weeks were repeated. I felt ashamed of being me, like the person with me was hiding me, like I was best being hidden and like I would never beat my own mind in not thinking of food as my enemy or being my only friend by backwardly keeping it away. I shut myself off. I told people I was fine but I cried…lied. I spoke to my therapist. I had people, even people far away hurt me more than anyone could ever imagine. People who made up lies and tales to suit themselves to gain power in their own career and to then have a detrimental impact on myself and my own relationships with people who were my second family. People used my own trauma against me to benefit themselves. Threats, verbal abuse and disgusting language, hurt. I learnt that my intuition was usually, in fact actually always correct and that initial thoughts and fears of humans tend to be correct despite it hurting beyond belief when it happens or becomes apparent. I felt betrayed. Betrayed that my old place of work had employed the man who raped me with no regard for my feelings, putting people I cared for in danger and taking me away from my only other safe place in my own hometown. I could never go back. I then endured calls from this person from my old workplace through a stupid careless act sending me into a combined suicide spiral of not wanting to be alive or being able to carry on my life. I was a mess. A physically, broken yet ironically mended mess. I have been this ‘mess’, was this mess for the last just under months and I hid away. Only this time, this time was different.
This time, I wasn’t the ‘someone’ who just hid from it all. I was stronger. Able and capable of having the professional help and the ability to ask for advice on it all. I’ve been working on it. I’ve been working so damn hard on myself, on my past and present issues, my triggers and on my life to make myself better and capable.
The last few weeks have been different. I have had a totally up and down relationship with this person physically on the journey with me – friendship, love, anger, emotional battle, trauma, taunt and distrust yet equally learnt the opposite. I have learnt love, grown the ability to trust someone with my life and being open without the single influence of alcohol. I have adapted to a new, healthy diet, now putting more in me than I ever have food wise and I feel good. I have explored the idea of lust, touch (despite crawling inside myself and having my therapist help me to work through what I need to allow myself to relax in situations I never thought I ever could have.) Mentally, sometimes, some days, I am still struggling but with a difference. The difference of power and strength by my side. Mentally, still terrified of the triggers that greet me daily and with the ‘what if he or they are going to hurt me?’ Still mentally trying to fix the hurt and fear that has been part of my life and my disgusting best friend for the most of my life with some days it being the most tiring and overwhelming of feelings resulting in sleep. Trying to allow this person, who I think I actually care for properly into my life fully into my life bit by bit. Not with all my past. Not being the Sophie defined by her past but as Sophie as….well, Sophie. Allowing a relationship to occur naturally with proper love and care, attention and affection. To start from scratch. Not expecting. Not planning. Not wanting. Trying to be independent but equally asking for help when it’s needed. I am honest. I am brave and I am trying. More than anything in the world I am trying and working harder than I ever have to be me. A better, more able and healthy me.
I am exhausted. I am emotionally on edge but with a bravery that I’ve not dared to explore before. I am different and I actually feel like I’m doing the whole ‘working on myself’ and it feels good. Scary but…good. I am able to work and reap the benefits from my efforts. I am acting, writing and doing freelance work whilst discovering myself. Who I am and the full version of positive, creative and loving me. I am trying. I, Sophie Wardlow am trying and I amgetting better!
We keep going. We keep persisting. We keep mindful and hopeful. We work, we play, we love and more importantly….we live! We bloody well live!