I've had these words spinning around in my mind for a while.
Every now and then I get snippets that would come alongside a flashback to a memory.
Or a warped version of a memory. I often can't tell.
I don't really have anything solid to grasp on to from under the age of about 10.
As I got older I became increasingly thankful for the way my mind had protected me from what was lurking in the shadows of my childhood.
My adult life wasn't blessed enough to have my thoughts create the same protection barrier.
Although the last 8 years have been full of more blessings than I can count there has been an ever-present pain that spread poison silently through my being.
As I have become wiser through my lessons I've come from a place of living in shame to a place of living in gratitude.
I'm learning that every single one of us has a story.
A story that is too often attached to regret, guilt, fear and pain.
It's time for us to release our attachments to our past and who we have been up until this very moment.
Now is the time to get raw, vulnerable, uncomfortable and very honest.
Because I am finally at a place of being grateful for my story.
We all have a story we can tell.
We all have a story we can use to excuse our life away.
We all have a story that can mould us into the greatest version of ourselves.
This is mine.
I was born into an abusive relationship between my parents. The true extent of the violence between my Mother and Father will only ever be known by the two of them.
However I have seen my Mother in violent rages. I have seen the emotional turmoil she projects onto those that are closest to her. I can only imagine the hurt that I witnessed as a baby new into this world.
I have heard stories, whispered to me in hushed tones, of the abuse that occurred during the crucial first months of my life.
When I was 9 months old my Mother left my Father and I.
She left the country and after returning a couple of years later she was sporadically in and out of my life until I was 17.
Growing up I didn't understand.
I didn't know life without a feeling of being unlovable and unworthy.
I saw other children with Mothers. As a young child I considered all of the aspects of myself that must have made me different.
That must have made me wrong.
That must have made me such a burden.
I tried to work out why my Mum didn't want me but why everyone else’s did.
When I was 2 my Dad met my Step mum. For the next 18 years I struggled with this relationship. I felt like an outsider watching my parents create a life that happened to have me in it.
I felt as though I was an inconvenience.
That they would be better off without me. A feeling that has carried on my whole life and wrapped itself into every relationship I have had.
I don't remember much about my Mum returning into the country but I know there were hefty court battles and a lot of stress in my home.
Eventually my parents retained full custody and she was granted fortnightly weekends with me. Which, after months of fighting for, she often didn't show up for.
Looking back with honest eyes I believe I was used as a pawn for a war inside a Mother that was torn between who she wanted to be and who she truly was.
I was extremely blessed to have two parents that, despite the feelings I carried, offered me a childhood full of support and stability.
Although I had 3 half siblings I grew up as an only child and only saw them on the odd occasion. So I used to sit in the trees and allow Mother Nature to cradle me as if I were her greatest love.
Towards the end of primary school I did have regular visits with my Mother and younger brother and sister.
This part of my life had completely blocked itself from my mind until the last couple of years.
The one memory that I remembered a couple of years ago was a day I was with my Mum, her partner and the two kids.
My Mother and her partner had got into such a violent fight that she was left with a huge bruise that covered the majority of her face.
This is the first time I feared for my Mother's life and feared for my life.
It is a feeling I would become familiar with as a teenager.
I was petrified. I remember driving back to my parents house and she told me to lie.
I must have been about 8 or 9 at the time.
She said I had to tell me parents that she had fallen. There was fear and desperation in her voice.
Again I had been dragged into this internal battle she had.
And her pain was my pain.
I had seen and felt her hurt and didn't want to inflict any more upon her.
So I lied.
I lied for her and I lied for me. I lied for the shell-shocked little girl that just wanted her Mum and couldn't bear the thought of not having her again.
Something that I would do for the next 20 years.
So as a young, broken child I learnt to cope with the abuse I was witnessing by removing my mind and soul from my body. I attempted to lessen the force of the impact and in doing so I idolised a Mother that was in no way a human being capable of loving anyone else.
When I was about 11 I moved to another city. Away from her and away from my younger siblings and away from the only life I had known.
I was brainwashed and resentful towards my parents.
I believed they had torn me away from my family and I despised them for it.
By the time I was 14 I had was drinking heavily, smoking heavily and having sex.
At 15 I was in a toxic relationship that I stayed in for 2 and a half years which kept a very destructive story alive.
The story that I was unworthy, unloveable and a burden to everyone in my life.
I was surrounded by people but felt utterly alone. I felt as if I was suffocating. I had absolutely no idea who I was.
I began to self harm.
I had an unhealthy relationship with my body. Going through periods of starving myself and throwing up.
I became addicted to numbing my pain however I could through alcohol, drugs and sex.
I lived for the validation and affection of others.
This is also the point in my life when I started writing. It became an avenue to voice the suicidal thoughts I had. I remember the relief from writing for the first time that I didn't want to be alive.
Releasing these thoughts from the place in my mind that they had been imprisoned in was my saviour.
It was the mast I clung onto when the ocean around me was threatening to engulf me.
At 17 I moved in with my Mother and into a very abusive family home where she was emotionally, mentally and physically abusive towards my brother, sister and I.
My brother and sister took the brunt of her self hatred and were often pitted against each other by a woman living in a world fraught with delusion.
She is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and has been a drug addict most of her life. She is the epitome of a hurt person hurting people.
Her desperation to be the good mother she never had led her down a path that the love in her heart never intended.
I believe that underneath all of the layers of her own trauma there was the version of her that she has been clawing at. Trying to dig her teeth and nails into. Wanting nothing more to be and see and feel.
However it was unattainable and all of her failed attempts left battered, bruised, bleeding children.
Children whose souls were being strangled. Who were so blinded by their love that they accepted, or more accurately expected, the chaos and devastation that was daily life.
Every moment was as if you were teetering on a precipice. Hypersensitive, hyperaware of how easily any situation could become broken windows, police cars, handcuffs.
When I was 18 I left home and lived in fear that one of my siblings or Mother was going to die.
I carried a guilt the day that I left that house that remains with me still now.
I believed if I was stronger, kinder, more loving, resilient. If I was smarter, braver, purer.
I thought that if I was a better me then I could have saved my brother and sister from the abuse.
If I loved them more than I loved the idea of a Mother.
If I wasn't so weak and desperate for a Mother's love then maybe I would have stood up for them.
I wouldn't have let her use me like she did. I would have protected them.
I often wish I could go back as the me I am today and stand, with feet firmly on the ground and with a determined heart, and stop her from doing what she did to them.
It is a part of my healing that etches it's way to forgiveness but still has a journey to carry out.
I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after leaving that home and returned to the comfort of alcohol and sex to quiet down the self-hatred in my head.
I was at my first year in University and failed papers, often not turning up or having had no or very little sleep.
I was a broken, fragmented version of a person attempting to maintain a charade that I could feel crumbling at the edges.
I never stopped. I was an emotional wreck. I was passed off as a typical 18 year old by everyone around me including myself. I hid behind the stereotype of my age so that I wouldn't have to face how my behaviour was a way of hurting myself.
When I was 19 I met an amazing man who was so kind, so accepting and so stable.
A man who I would spend the next 7 and a half years with.
A man who shared a beautiful life with me.
A man who created three children with me.
A man who was an integral part of my journey of healing.
Who I will always be thankful for.
When I was 20 I had my daughter.
I felt like I had returned home after a lifetime of aimlessly drifting.
The moment I found out I was creating this tiny human inside of me I knew that Motherhood was my calling.
I decided right in that second that my love for my child would be stronger than any cycle of abuse, than any self-limiting beliefs, than any trauma that had happened in my life.
I knew that she deserved untainted affection.
Pure, authentic adoration.
Which is exactly what she received.
After I had my girl I finished my teaching degree and my little family moved to Wellington to be closer to our parents and to find work.
My life was beautiful for a long time. I had created the family with the white picket fence that I craved for so badly. In my mind if I created something as far from my childhood as I could then I would be free from the life I was working so hard to forget.
What I was yet to learn is that in order to move on the key is not to forget but to forgive.
Forgive ourselves for allowing people to hurt us.
Forgive ourselves for welcoming self-destruction.
Forgive ourselves for following in the footsteps of those who inflicted trauma upon us.
Forgive ourselves for purging, cutting, starving, hating, torturing.
Forgive ourselves for all of the outer and inner self-abuse.
For as long as we live in the darkness of denial we stay stuck in a prison.
To forgive is to set ourselves free. It is the only way.
When I was 24 I cut my birth Mother out of my life and finally allowed myself to grieve for the Mum and life I never had.
I was pregnant with my second bub at the time and was later diagnosed with pre and post-natal depression which left me as a shell of myself.
I was past the point of stressed, living with extreme sleep deprivation and self-deprecation while looking after two children.
It was then that I realised that I had been in and out of depression for over a decade.
I started seeing a counsellor for the first time and began my journey down a much needed path of discovery and self-healing.
Over the next 3 years I worked consistently on implementing strategies and creating a new normal for my mind and in turn my external life.
At the end of last year after coming out of my 7 and a half year relationship I had serious insomnia where I was sleeping 2-3 hours a night.
I knew I was at a cross road. Falling was inevitable. But if I fell and didn't fight to get back up I would be lost forever.
I was alone for what felt like the first time in my whole life. I isolated myself as I went inward to try and make sense of my life.
I was lost in grief. Letting go of the person I had created.
And I was painfully releasing my grip on the future I had already seen. That I felt like I had already lived.
It was two tight hands around my throat. Stopping me from breathing or thinking or doing.
Holding on to that life that was no longer real was drowning me.
The picture perfect life with the husband and the University degree and the three children.
I was left bruised, aching. Collapsed in a heap on my kitchen floor with swollen eyes and a battered heart.
But I got up.
I had the pattering of three tiny sets of feet calling out to me.
Beckoning me to come into the light with them.
To believe in the good everywhere outside of myself and inside of myself.
In that moment I chose to live.
Just as so many before me and after me have.
Just as so many before me and after me haven't.
To carry on. To pick myself up off the kitchen floor. Wipe away the blood and dirt and grime.
Since then there have still been some kitchen floor days.
Now there aren't any.
Now I can witness the ebb and flow of life and of being human and appreciate it for exactly what it is.
An incredible journey. An absolutely, wonderful, exhilarating adventure.
Full of obstacles that offer us the chance to better ourselves and to better the world.
As of today I am 27. I am a Mother. A daughter. A sister. A friend. A colleague. A business owner. A writer. A baker.
I know 3 people in the last 6 months that have committed suicide. I have a very good friend currently in the acute patient ward in a hospital in Australia after an attempt and my best friend's brother tried to end his life twice in the weekend.
Yet still I remain a believer. A lover. A fighter. A dreamer.
Here I am now.
Doing my best to better myself and better the world.
One word at a time.
Because I believe that nothing in this life happens to us.
It only happens for us.
I believe that together we can create change.
And you my friend...
You are strong enough.
This is all happening for you.
For all that you will make of yourself. For all those that you love and all those that love you.
For those that you will love and that will love you.
For the adventures yet to come. For the ebb and flow.
For the great achievements and the great heartaches.
To transform and transcend you into the greatest version of yourself.
Which is already within you.
So breathe. Just carry on.
Know that your story does not define you.
Your story is here to empower you.
Just as mine has.