I take back what you have stolen.

“I take back what you have stolen, and in your languages I announce I am now nameless. My true name is a growl.” — Margaret Atwood

The past few months have been difficult ones, internally at least. Life has rolled on, work has continued, The Wild One is ever present and finances have fallen together as needed. Internally though… Change is the hardest thing. Effecting true, long lasting, change is equal parts exhilarating, terrifying, maddening and agonising.

I sit in a small, comfortable office every two weeks and talk for an hour or more. Together with the warm, gentle, woman across from me I dig through my past and my present, through my fears and long held beliefs, through my fears, and begin to slowly, ever so slowly, to untangle the knots. The knots are complex things – fear entwines with shame, shame twists around anger, anger tangles into anxiety, anxiety wraps into grief and sorrow and so on it goes. We work at it, picking apart the emotions and events that caused them slow and sure. This has been the hardest work of my life. I can tell you that without a second thought to it. This is HARD. And like most things that are truly hard work, it is  worthwhile.

If the process of exploring the events and the emotions around them is complex then dealing with the long held beliefs about myself that I hold because of them is near impossible. Worthless, valueless, incompetent, powerless, small, broken, fragile, useless, damaged. I have always been waiting to be dumped, to be turned on, to be betrayed. I have felt unloveable and unworthy of anyones time for as long as I can remember. I fake having self worth so well that almost no one has never realised how absolutely and utterly worthless I have felt for the entirety of my life.  Mistaking my careful and precise public image of control and confidence for a sense of self worth rather than the survival instinct it was. I have always had power. For every bit of grief this body of mine has bought upon me it has made up with with the power to manipulate – and like every born survivor I have played my advantage and protected myself.

And now, the dots have connected. One and at a time and some so subtly I didn’t even realise until it was pointed out. I’m shedding a skin I’ve worn for a very long time. It is terrifying, and yet…

I don’t know this woman.

She is so different from the one that sat here and typed a week ago, let alone months or years ago. There is a quiet confidence built of an understanding of where she has been, and where she is. She looks forward and knows where she wants to go. She knows what she isn’t, what she is and what she wants to be. She no longer needs to be anything for anyone else but herself. She will be accepted and loved as she is or she won’t be and that is ok. She is me, all the same.

I have been put through hell in this life – I have raped, beaten, mocked, shamed, battered, bullied, assaulted, betrayed over, and over, and over again since I was a small child. There are things I simply do not know how to do that are basic formative skill that I never learnt and I have been left isolated and afraid.

I’m not scared anymore, and I don’t feel alone anymore. There are so many ways I have changed, and so many ways I will continue to change… and so many more ways that I want to change.

At the centre of it all there’s just this quiet calm ‘Hello, this is me.’

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