This is me

 I had bright, lemon coloured hair and was obsessed with anything Disney. Of what I can remember I had a happy first couple of years coming into this world. I had a typical family, nothing extraordinary. The oldest of four however, it was only me and the twins for the first couple of years. Being the attention seeking child I was, my mum gave everything she had and doted on us. She was a mama bear protecting her cubs — anybody who got in the way would be in for it. I was always a bit of a Daddy’s girl though! A lot of my childhood consisted of watching my dad play cricket on hot summer days.

 I had a tight knit group of friends in primary school. I was the youngest though and somehow that let the other girls have power over me. I followed the crowd a lot! I was scared of the embarrassment that came with going against the grain. My baby sister (although she’s 10 now, will always be the baby) was born when I was 9 and my parents split up 6 weeks after. I found it quite difficult to adjust and just wanted both my parents to be happy. When we went for weekends away at my dad’s, I had to do my little sister’s hair because my dad was useless. It forced me to grow up a lot when I wasn’t ready.

 I went to an all-girls secondary school which was overwhelming. Everybody fit into their cliques and I just floated. With the stress of so many things changing and not being able to keep up with it, my mum encouraged me to go to some counselling sessions. I was a very awkward, shy pre-teen. I felt that I had to stuff my bra with tissue because all my friends had bigger boobs and to be interested in boys because everyone else was. It was a constant battle to try and fit in. However, I loved to learn. I loved it because I was good at it. Although I was a pretty average student, I was good in class, I got 100% attendance and I participated in after school clubs. Music was my escape though. Music stole my heart. I was brought up listening to ‘Keane’ and ‘The Smiths’ but I didn’t really get into it until I started secondary school. I taught myself guitar when I was 13 and had singing lessons from when I was 11. It was a way to be free and express how I felt through lyrics and sound. By 15 all my primary school friends who went to mixed schools had boyfriends or had at least been kissed. I was a bit of a late bloomer, my first kiss was when I was 15 in a park with a boy I barely knew. He stuck his tongue down my throat and then tried to have sex. I didn’t want to so he left. That was the moment I realised that boys can be mean and people can be very selfish.

 By 16 I was in my first proper relationship. He was perfect, my childhood sweetheart. Everything I could ever want and need, I would do anything for him. I would even change everything I believed in and put things I wanted to do on hold if it would make the relationship work. I kept telling myself “Everything will be fine, I just have to wait a couple more years and then I can… travel… get tattoos… have sex”. He made me want to get married for the pure reason that it would be my golden ticket to being able to do what I wanted to do when in fact, it would do the complete opposite. He put my fire out. Turning 18 sparked a flame and made me see what I was missing out on and with university round the corner, it dawned on me that he would have to change and compromise his faith or I would leave. So I left. Over that summer I turned to alcohol as a comfort and release. I had never felt more alive and free than I did over those 12 weeks. I jumped from guy to guy seeking for some sort of acceptance. This carried on into my first year of university until I fell and hit my head badly. I was so lost and didn’t know who I was. It was the wake up call I needed. I needed to sort my shit out before I really hurt myself. A week later I met my current boyfriend and he picked me out of the dark place I was confined to. I finally saw sense and was back on track.

With thanks to Heidi Conroy.

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