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"Without fear there cannot be courage"

Hello everyone,

So this is actually something I wrote some time ago but I honestly I haven't had the confidence to publish it. Not because I am ashamed, but because it is probably one of my most painful memories and something that I have to work hard at to not let it get to me. I am not writing this for sympathy or to "play the victim". I am writing this because it is a very real part of my life and if my experience can help just one person get out of a relationship whereby one person is abusive to another then I know that my story has helped someone else.

I have always been a people pleaser - and by that I mean I have always put everyone else before myself. I know this, and to be honest I don't think that part of me will ever change and nor do I want it to change. I will always want to do what makes someone else happy. The only difference between then and now is that I know my worth and I will never put myself in a situation where I am taken advantage of again.

Ordinarily I am a very confident, bubbly person and I have a very contagious laugh (or so I have been told!). There were three and a half years in my life that I was a completely different person. I put on a load of weight, I lost a lot of my confidence and I was abused both emotionally and physically. I lost a part of myself in those three years. I lost friends, and I lost family and for that I can only apologise. Anyone who has been in the same or a similar situation will understand that you push people close to you away to protect them but also to protect yourself. It is so difficult to explain but at the time you do everything you can to justify what is happening, as well as making excuses for what is happening.

During that time in my life, I was living day to day - don't get me wrong we had some really good times, good holiday's and lovely days out. Unfortunately, the bad days totally out weighed those moments. It is hard to imagine what you would do in that scenario unless you are actually living in that situation. I always remember speaking to my friends at school saying, "I would never let myself get into a situation where someone found it okay to hurt me and control me", but I did and to this day I don't know why I let it go on for as long as I did. I guess it was something to do with the fact he made me believe that everything that was wrong with not only myself but with him was my fault. So many times I wanted to get away from the situation, but it is not until you are totally ready and the fear and anxiety makes you strong enough to do something about it.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a saint and I am ashamed to say that another man made me feel special and loved and beautiful again and I did cheat on him. It was not one of my finest moments and I do not think that cheating is in any way a moral thing to do. I just can not even begin to explain what is going through your mind when you are being told every day that you are fat and ugly - I have always been someone who struggles with my weight and I was for sure big at that point in time. No one deserves to be told that repeatedly and put down constantly or beaten up, not just because of weight but for any other reason. I am not condoning what I did and nor am I proud of it, but it happened and for a moment I forgot about everything that was going on at home.

Getting out of that situation has to be up there with one of my bravest and proudest moments and trust me, it was not easy but one day I just did it, didn't give it a second thought. I literally ran home - to my family - and I didn't look back.

What happened to me - I couldn't even begin to describe but I wouldn't want even my worst enemy enduring anything that I went through. I came out of that relationship with a lot of debt, a lot of extra weight, a lack of self esteem and a fear that I had never known before - a fear that he would be back - a fear that he would find me - a fear that I have lived with every day since.

I now have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - I get flashbacks of things that have happened to me and I wake up because I am having a panic attack, I have punched walls in my sleep. One time I even woke up choking. Although I have now covered the dent in my wall with my handy work.. my hand is still not 100%. The thing that gets to me the most is the flashbacks, especially when I am asleep, they are so vivid and so real and I wake up thinking I have been through it all over again. I have been prescribed pills for it, but I am always so reluctant to take them and having been on anti-depressants before it is not something I would like to go on again. For the most part don't get me wrong I am absolutely fine and I can go weeks, months even without anything happening. I would also have to say that Aurora is an incredible distraction, she gives me that escape. I know I have to be strong for her because there is no way I would want her to see me when I am having a panic attack, for example. So she is a God send to be honest and has saved me from more than she realises.

I am still unsure as to all the triggers but I know some of them and I am trying to work through them. I know that what happened to me will never fully go away - it is something that I will live with for the rest of my life but I know that this situation doesn't define who I am. It is something that I went through, but I came out of it and after a lot of work and time I am a stronger person because of it.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason and somewhere down the windy road that is my life it will become apparent as to why I went through this period of time in my life but for now I am concentrating on me and making sure that I am strong for Aurora and I am the best possible version of myself.

For now, just know that if you find yourself in a similar situation to me. There is a way out. Stay strong and just know - it is NOT your fault.

Many thanks, sincerely

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