When I looked back at photos of myself as a little girl I was always smiling. From very little everyone said I was a ray sunshine, bouncy, bubbly and bright.
When I hit my teens I also hit spots, buck teeth and bad clothes all at once. Yet instead of becoming the normal grouchy teenager I still carried on being the perky one around the house. Everyone could count on me to be the cheery one at the dinner table. I was always the chatterbox filling conversation with interesting thoughts and ideas.
Yet there were some really clear warning signals that all was not right. For my 10th birthday I wanted a fancy dress party. Not to be a princess or a fairy. No, rather to be a tramp. I insisted that everyone came dressed as a street dweller. The majority wore bin liners and old clothes and one smart friend took the American meaning of tramp and came looking like Olivia Newton John in the final scene of Greece. In essence I wanted everyone including me to feel and look horrid.
I also buried myself in studies wanting to excel at school to feel of value or worth something. It became addictive. I was never happier than when I pleased my parents with straight A grades. Going to Oxford was the ultimate in defining me as a winner.
I wandered through adult life following a similar path. Great jobs with lots of money meant success and happiness. Personal relationships were about pleasing the other. No matter if I suffered emotionally or physically.
However, I often woke up and felt funny first thing in the morning. I tried to shake it off with yoga or a run but there was also a vestige of something sad. I went to work with gritted teeth ready to face the bitchy politics and hypocrisy of senior management.
But I could not always keep a lid on things. I would get irrationally angry sometimes at the littlest things. Or I would walk in a room and sense someone's bad mood and it would bring me down also.
Then my Dad died and my profound unhappiness reared its ugly head. It was as if I had kept it all together to keep him happy. I had buried so much pain and suffering for so long and now I had no choice but confront it.
I felt lost, alone, bewildered and worthless. My inner child was finally expressing how she truly felt.
Up until the age of five children are sponges of pure consciousness. They soak up bad vibes and can't tell you how they feel as a result. They need protecting, understanding and respect.
Before I was five I had already dealt with moving from one country to another, family illness and an inexplicable shift from intense fusion with my parents to absence.
I never dealt with any of this as a young teen or adult. Many people don't and have had far worse childhood experiences. But the problem never went away.
Therapy, counselling and spiritual advice have been my key to adult happiness. Many of us put on a brave face and try and rationalise inner pain. If it's there it's there and needs treating. I owe a lot to the stability my husband has created in my life. Thanks to this pillar of strength I was able to open my Pandora's box.
I also see my past suffering now as a great gift. It has given me a creative sensitivity that has fuelled my writing. It has inspired me to write a book about this little girl.
If any of this resonates with you I'd urge you to dig deep in the past. It will liberate your present and give you real hope for your future. Don't suffer in silence. I did for too long. After a failed marriage and the humiliation at being fired from a top job I was forced behind the universe to find myself. I am glad I did and slowly but surely I am growing to like her.Suggest a correction