There is no beating around the bush here, when I left home and emerged into adulthood at 15, I was seriously messed up, and how could it have been any other way? Although I had a mother who loved me, she was very much reeling from her own miserable upbringing throughout mine, and made a ton of bad decisions which negatively effectedmy childhood.
My naivety and lack of self-respect led to me making plenty of bad decisions of my own. In the first decade of living independently, I attempted suicide, suffered countless bouts of depression and anxiety, and had two full on mental breakdowns.
After the first breakdown I started seeing a counsellor who opened my eyes to how damaged I was. She also made me realise that it wasn't my fault. This is the thing that us survivors of abuse usually carry with us you see, the guilt. I didn't even realise until that point that I was as damaged as I was, or that I even felt guilty about my childhood, but believe me I was and I did.
She made me see that I needed to bury those demons of mine once and for all, if I were to move on and lead a happy life.
In order to heal, we must face up to the past
Over a painful four year healing process, involving cutting ties with my entire family, and going through a second mental breakdown, I started to see that my own self-destructive behaviour was at the centre of a lot of my current-day problems. Irrespective of why I was messed up, the point is I was messed up, and the only way I wasn't going to be messed up any more was by digging deep, and changing every aspect of my life that was causing me dramas.
Taking responsibility for our lives not panning out the way we want them to can be a tough truth to accept, but it's not about blame. It's about not allowing those demons to destroy our chances of happiness for a minute longer.
Everyone's demons are different of course, and the changes they will have to make will depend on what is driving those demons. As for me, I quit partying, had a three month booze break, started eating well and doing more exercise. I disassociated myself from negative influences, and created lifelong good habits. During the course of six months, I worked relentlessly to turn my life around. It was the hardest yet most rewarding thing I had ever done at that point.
You'll never know how messed up someone is, until you try to love them
Halfway between my two breakdowns, I met my husband. He has always been stable, confident in his own abilities and an all round rock solid guy. I still did my best to push him away though, and sabotage the chances of our relationship surviving. We broke up a few times in our earliest years, but ultimately he stuck by me and refused to accept that I was 'too messed up to be loved'.
The turning around of my life came after we had been together for almost three years. He proposed on our fourth anniversary, and six months later I fell pregnant with our eldest. To say we've faced lots of challenges since becoming a family, would be a huge understatement. From a horribly traumatic first birth (thankfully much nicer experiences second and third time!); to kids that don't sleep; to havingautismto contend with; and most recently deciding to home educate. The list could go on...
How do you cope?
I get asked on a regular basis how I cope, considering I have very little in the way of help day to day and my sleep is as awful as it is. I truly believe it's because I went through the process of dealing with my demons when I did.
I faced up to the past, I changed the necessary and I buried those monsters good and proper. I put coping mechanisms in place that would see me through the toughest of times, and it means I am able to focus on present-day challenges, rather than being distracted and haunted by the past.
When I made the decision to turn my life around back in November 2006, I didn't have a clue that I'd be implementing changes that would directly impact my mothering abilities.
That is exactly what I was doing though.