So I have been at work today and my company has a Netball league every Sunday where teams from across the county come to play! I haven’t worked this shift before so I was quite anxious about coming in, but my staff member Joe was incredible in assisting me and knew exactly what was going on. I succeeded in tidying our kitchen to an almost brand new level (it won’t stay like that long which is stressful but for now I love it).
However, I have spent a lot of my day held tense, rigid and stiff – I have been hugely anxious. Joe pointed out that I was jumpy, I kept forgetting words and making mistakes.
I moved back to my home town in September following an awful first year at university and I’m very wary of going outside… there are lots of bad memories here and thanks to social media *not* I know that the causes of those memories still linger, and that I could bump into them at any moment.
Today it hadn’t even occurred to me that I may bump in to one of those memories, the person in question is the wrong age for the league and wasn’t athletic in the slightest. Though, a number of the players had long blonde curly hair, blue eyes and glasses… and they were the age that we were at the time.
I believe that a lot of my mental health issues stem from 2 key events in my life, one is the relationship I have with my father and the other happened when I was 14 years old.
What I tell people when they ask:-
It was someone who wasn’t very kind to me, I had known them for years, they were older than me. They told me they loved me and because of that I had to take my clothes of for them, or that we wouldn’t be friends.
When I was 13 I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere, and along came this wonderful person who quickly became my best friend.
By the end of it I had probably known them for little over year but I trusted them whole heartedly. They made me laugh and we could still play silly imaginary game, we could sit and do nothing, we could sing badly together and eat rubbish food. They were the kind of person that would ask you at half past 4 if you wanted to come over for dinner and then you’d wind up staying over for 3 days in a row – and Visa Versa.
Both of our families were very welcoming of one another and despite our differences we almost became one single being – we used to have 3 hour phone calls and all sorts of random nonsense, it was like having a good old fashioned friend. I never felt the pressure to grow up when I was with them [which I have done throughout all of my life I have had to be older than my years], start wearing make up, what brand of clothes I wore or caring about how I styled my hair. We could play with dolls and pretend to be doctors and all that jazz, I thought I had found someone who I could be myself with?
Toward the end of our friendship they made friends with another person from our year – Emma – and were spending more time with them, they dated a person who was like a brother to me, and started wearing make up, styling their hair and caring about the brands of clothes they wore. I’m not a jealous person, I wasn’t fussed and I enjoyed hearing about it all, we still played games together and had sleepovers.
The weekend it all went wrong was the last weekend of July – my family and friends go camping every year to the same place. I had invited them to come along.
They came round to my house the night before as they had done countless times prior, then everyone went to bed. They told me of the time they had had with their new friend, they showed me a video of people having sex [not them, just what I imagine to be a regular piece of porngraphic film] and they said that they had done that with Emma, and did I want to do it.
When I hesitated to reply they told me that I didn’t have to but obviously they would then have to be best friends with Emma and not with me.
They made it into a game and wrote things like “finger the other person for 1 minute”, “kiss with tongues for 3o seconds”, “bite the other person where you like”, “remove a piece of the other person’s clothing”, “touch them over clothing”, “Touch them under clothing” etc. onto paper, they tore each action off and scrunched it into a ball and placed it on the floor in front of us. They picked the paper for me and handed it to me and I was frightened that if I didnt go along with it I’d be left on my own. I can vividly remember thinking that.
As time went on more strange requests were added and they got more invasive, messier and making me increasingly uncomfortable.
We had to be up at 4 am to go camping and time was creeping on… I offered suggestions: “let’s go to sleep now, I dont want to be tired tomorrow” and “Should we just do this another time? My family are sleeping and I dont want to wake them?”. Needless to say these options were overruled: “We can sleep on the car journey” and “I’ll just be quieter”.
I don’t know how long this game continued for, I managed to convince them that the light needed turning off and I was allowed eventually to put my nighty back on and keep it on [Though this permission was granted following a lie I had told them]. I spent the whole time convincing myself that this was fine, and it was what friends did, they had done it with Emma? So surely everyone does it?
… but it didn’t feel nice, it felt dirty, uncomfortable and wrong.
When they got bored and decided they were tired, that was when we went to bed. I didn’t understand at all at the time but I cried, I couldn’t breathe and I was in this strange space between wanting to laugh, wanting to run, to kick and scream and wanting to not exist.
The initial proposition was put to me so carefully – I feel like I could of but I wasn’t able to say “No”. I didn’t really know that “No” was an option.
It took me three years to realise that wasn’t normal. I had better friends then, kinder friends – Real Friends. A further 2 to tell my mum and a few select friends [no one knows the full story, and my friends have still all been told the lie and left at that, you know the truth. The actual truth. That’s it. Or at least what I can recall of it]. A lot of my family don’t know, I told my granddad recently and that was terrifying. I wish I had been able to seek out someone to help me earlier on, and I am trying to pluck up the courage to ask for help now. Its hard to but I am trying to remember that it wasn’t my fault.
You’ll notice that I frequently use they when referring to someone I am intimate with, I have struggled with my sexuality for years not that I am ashamed or anything like that and my family are incredibly understanding and open minded.
I just don’t want to be labelled as something, I just want to be me. I think a lot of that desire stems from this first encounter with sex and touching, amd because I use “they” to hide the fact that they were a girl.
People assume it’s a male and I just don’t correct them [Maybe that is wrong?], but the person who took advantage of me was a girl, she was younger than me [Only by a few months, but telling people they were older I think makes me feel a little less stupid, because if people thought they were older maybe they would have thought that I couldn’t possibly go against their words? When someone is younger than you, you should be the one in control right?], she was smaller than me, and it was my home, my room, my body.
I have spent years hating the fact that I didn’t say no, that I wasn’t firmer in my assertations of wanting to stop and that I was so afraid to be on my own that I let them do what they wanted.
Honestly I am not so good at saying no now, I try as hard as I can, yet always find myself in situations that I can’t easily get out of…
I think that as you go through life you find that maybe it isn’t about fixing yourself and then finding people to surround you. Its about finding the right people to have around you and asking them for help.
It’s easier to say to someone else and not so easy to do yourself, but if you’re reading this and you have ever found yourself in a similar situation, or if you know a friend who has been there:-
Talk and listen…
Ask for help, be the help or help them to find someone who can be…
Don’t push for information or give more than you are comfortable with…
Try your absolute best, your ABSOLUTE best to realise that it isn’t your fault…
I have to stop now. It has taken me 3 days to finish writing this and there is so much more to say. This will do for now…
Be brave, and as strong as you can be, that is more than enough.
Take care of yourself, and I’ll be here if you need anything.