This Is My Story - By Laura Gilbert

This is my story.

This is just a small part of my story.  I am sharing this because I strongly believe there are women (and men) who need to know that whatever they are going through right now….you’re never alone.

Everyone has childhood stories don’t they? I I wish I didn’t. I should say at this point (before you read on) I have an amazing Dad, and wonderful Grandparents on both side, all of whom I love dearly and would do anything for.  I am forever grateful and the love I have for them is infinite.

I wish that I could say that this also described my entire childhood, but unfortunately there is  a force called my Mother.  Out of every experience in my life (and there have been far too many for my liking) nothing will ever, ever, terrify me as much as the thought of being in trouble with her.  

I can remember the silence…..the air was crisp and almost deadly. Because nothing can last forever, and that includes silence.

Now I don’t want to go into too much detail about my childhood, purely the way that I now look at this time in my life is that it’s the past. Been and gone. However here is just a little to give you some idea of how things were.

My Mother is an alcoholic. And with, I suspect,  severe mental issues.  A life with her was a life of fear, because things can change from a beautiful Summer's’ day to a wild stormy night with the click of her fingers.  

The nights that she would leave us sat in the cold, the nights we were too scared to even say a word. Those nights will never leave my memory.  

I still remember the tension in our house as clear as day. The air being so thick with pain that I could barely speak.

I can remember the silence…..the air was crisp and almost deadly. Because nothing can last forever, and that includes silence.

There were numerous forms of punishments – sometimes we were ignored for days with no food, sometimes it was something physical, and sometimes it was verbal abuse. I learnt from a young age that words can hurt just as much, if not more, than someone’s touch.

I still remember the fear of my mother coming home at night. I could hear the car pull up, the engine stop, the car door open. Those steps towards the door, the key in the door…..

To this day I hate the sound of the key in the door. And even though I know who will be coming through the door, I still subconsciously brace myself.  It’ a sad fact of life that some things will always leave their footprint on you.  And this is where the problem lies. More than the events itself, it’s the aftermath that will break you .

So you get the picture.  It wasn’t the most idealistic of childhoods.

However after being kicked out  at 15 I had my escape.

And this is where my real problems began .

Because the thing with life is, everything that you experience in your first few years becomes your norm – rightly or wrongly. It shapes you. Who you are, how you think, and what you believe in.

To go from 15 years of abuse, of coldness, of pain and hurt, to a safe, loving environment. I had absolutely no clue how to act.  

I had no idea how to deal with any form of emotion - for years I was not allowed to feel , to speak, to be me. Now I was finally free, but I was imprisoned by my own self. Locked in because of fear that I could not escape.   

It’s a common trend for me…whenever something goes wrong, I retreat. My mind explodes, because even now, old habits die hard.

I spent years dreaming of how life could really be for me,  but all I could see was darkness. Wherever I went, whatever I did, whoever I spoke to…..the world only got darker. As did I.  

I spent the next few years drifting between one type of darkness to the other. I was terrified to form new relationships, but I desperately longed for love.  I wanted to be independent but was excruciatingly scared of forever being alone. I had no idea how to live in the real world but refused help from all those who offered.

I was constantly looking for something more, but never knew what that ‘more’ really was.

I fought against myself for years  - although I sought help, my release of pain was only ever temporary. Because as I said earlier….nothing in life is forever.

However my life seemed to became one never ending cycle, one which I was convinced I would never break because even my sunniest days, there was still a bleakness surrounding me, and no matter how much I prayed to the weatherman, it only got colder.

Until one day something unbelievable happened. I met someone. I fell in utter love. I had never experienced this….having someone else who actually cares about you as an equal. Sharing your life with someone. Having someone who wants to know every inch of your mind and body. I loved it….but again, just like when I was 15 and moved out, I didn’t know how to cope.

For the first time in my life, I felt like that sun was truly and utterly shining. I had someone who I was so in love with I would have died for (no joke) and I started to feel like a human, Not numb, not crazy, a human.  

But, just as had happened when I was 15 – I couldn’t deal.

Those feelings I had been fighting for years, the struggle to refuse all intimacy with people,  it finally overtook me. And I broke.  My heart exploded, and along with it so did my mind.  

I became seriously ill.

I had night terrors. I barely ate. I had panic attacks. I became a recluse. I cried endlessly. I wanted (and tried) to hurt myself.  I developed insomnia. I lost my hair.  I had psychotic periods.   

I genuinely thought I was going crazy because at this point, I had no idea who I was. Absolutely no fucking clue. And that is a scary thing. Believe me.

The inevitable happened and I ended up in hospital for a few weeks.

I begged not to go. I screamed and I cried but I will tell you this….That hospital saved my life. Without a doubt the best thing I ever did in my life.

I learnt that actually….there are things I can do to help me (NB – there are also things to help you if you feel like you need it) (who the hell knew I would get into mindfulness) .  

I learnt what to do when I’m having a panic attack. I learnt what to do when I’m feeling psychotic. I learnt what do when I feel I am failing. And I learnt what to do to celebrate my successes (YES  - SUCCESSES!)  

I learnt how to feel. I learnt that it’s ok to feel any fucking feeling you like. It’s ok to be a bitch sometimes, but it’s  also ok the frigging best person you can be.  

I spent weeks struggling to get out of bed but I finally did it – on my own – and I am so fucking proud.  

So. As you can imagine I was flying high after my hospital stay. I even got engaged. But then disaster struck. I got my heart broken.  Or I should say shattered. Into a million tiny pieces, never to be repaired or replaced.

For anyone that has ever gone through heartbreak,  I’m sorry.

Because, without a doubt, it is the most unimaginable pain I have ever, and most likely will ever, experienced in my life.  

Mental breakdown? No problem.  Abusive Mother? Sure. Heartbreak? Never in a million years.

Honestly, I have never felt pain like it. In 24 hours I lost what I thought was the love of my life,  my home, people I considered family and all my savings ( and gained a shit loads of debt – thanks!) .  I wanted to die. I genuinely did not want to continue my life without this person, and I couldn’t see a way out. I felt I had worked so unbelievably hard to get better, so that we could have the future we deserved.

I had lost everything that mattered to me, my heart, my soul, my love and my hope.  I was empty and alone.  I wanted to jump in front of a train. I wanted to be hit by a car. I have never been so surrounded by darkness.  I could barely even stand….my body was literally breaking.

I write this with tears in my eyes. Out of everything I have written today,  nothing has hurt my heart like my breakup. I gave everything – my darkest secrets, my life, my soul – and now I had lost it all. I thought I was strong but this pain destroyed me.

But….as I said earlier….nothing lasts forever.   

I got stronger. I. GOT. STRONGER.

Yes I was heartbroken but I refused to let it beat me. I carried on because I had no choice. I did extra personal development work. I worked like a bitch to keep myself busy  (good tip ladies by the way – keep yourself busy) and eventually,  I smiled again. I laughed again. And I realised what I truly, truly deserved.

Because the truth of my amazing love story is not as it seems.  When I look back (isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing) , I was in a very familiar relationship. I was in love with someone that had anger issues. Drug problems.  Was violently and emotionally abusive. I had repeated the cycle – and didn’t have a clue because I genuinely believed he was the one for me.

I can’t remember the exact turning point but gradually I began to realise that I deserve a million times better. I had lost control  - or maybe I had never had it in the first place. Either way it was time to get it back.

I went back to basics. Back to therapy. Spent hours working on myself.  I met new people.   Until I realised that not only did I truly, truly know who I was….I was proud.  

I live by my heart. And what that means is that I know how I feel, I act in a way feels true to me. I live my truth.

It has taken me 28 years but I have made it. I no longer shy away from the things that scare me. I accept that I have invisible scars will never fade. I still hate the key in the door, but I have learnt to deal with it. I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, because I believe in myself and my heart and I am proud that every day I live for me.

It’s not always easy but I do it. I now help others to do the same because I believe the pain I have suffered has a purpose to serve. I learnt an amazing amount from my darkness, and I want others to be able to see their light.

We can all stand in the sun.  And if it gets dark….we can walk to the light together.

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Laura Gilbert, Founder of The Voice Within Coaching

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