To tightropes and treadmills 

I’ve been quiet the last few weeks while I’ve been going through my counselling and starting on new antidepressants; wanting to get things sorted in my myself first before talking about it openly. I’m very pleased to say that after just 6 weeks (recommended sessions is 8-10) I am feeling back to my old self again, probably (dare I say!) better than before. 

The main thing I’ve learnt is acceptance. Not just for the sexual assault; something I can’t change that happened to me, but I can control how I chose to let it affect the rest of my life. I’ve also developed acceptance for the way my life was before the attack and to a degree how it’s been since. I’ve recognised this tedious cycle my life has been through the last…as long as I can remember. In a lot of situations in my life I start something new wide eyed, full pelt and passionate, singing about it off the rooftops. Then as time progresses it turns to not be as amazing as I’d have thought,often thankless and unappreciated, I start to feel things slipping from my control.  Next things turn sour for whatever reason and then I make a very quick exit strategy to try and regain some feeling of control. Or, worse still something completely out of my control happens triggering everything to end prematurely and unexpectedly.  When this happens, I pretty much self destruct; often struggling for work, money and end up moving back to my parents. But the next time, I’ll almost self sabotage before I even begin the next thing, often choosing the option that gives me what I WANT in the SHORT term and not what I NEED in the LONG term, meaning things aren’t going to live up to expectations. And so the cycle begins again. I’ve noticed it in jobs, friendships, relationships, with the cycle gaining momentum achieving total destruction quicker and quicker each time. So, here comes the first of my analogies:

I started on a tightrope. A little low one, at a point in my life where I was young and didn’t have a lot at stake, nothing weighing me down. So when things did go wrong, I fell off, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and tried again. But this time aiming a bit higher because I think I can achieve more and I have a better idea of what I’m doing, but also I feel like I have lost ground to make up on and I need to be progressing quicker; meaning there’s more at stake and more weight on my shoulders. And again, something happens, I take a wobble and fall off my tight rope and again I pick myself up and give things another go.  Again and again this happens, choosing higher and higher tightropes constantly feeling like I should be achieving more and proving myself, until eventually it’s so precarious, with so much at stake and huge weights on my shoulders it’s pretty much impossible. 

Which leads me onto my second analogy. The whole time this has been going on, I’ve felt like I’ve been running full pelt, but stuck on a treadmill not really getting anywhere. Yet everyone else around me seems to be happily leisurely jogging by without even breaking a sweat but they’re not on treadmills stuck in one place; they’re on the running track doing laps around me hurdling over life achievements on the way – financial, romantic, career, babies, houses. I’m exhausted, sweating like a pig and nothing to show for it. All of a sudden someone’s pressed stop on my treadmill and I’ve fallen off the back into a heap on the floor, drained and gasping for breath.  

Each of these analogies and every cycle has the recurring theme of being unappreciated, undervalued, unsupported, uncared for. I give my all to situations repeatedly, passionate and aiming high yet I get very little back, often leaving me worse off than before. 

What I’ve learnt is that I don’t want to be on tightropes or treadmills any more. I’ve accepted that, the job in the Lake District wasn’t right for me at that point in my life – too much was counting on it working out – career wise, financially, pride and so eventually again I would have wobbled off that tightrope of my own doing. So as truly horrific as being assaulted was and noone should have to go through that, the fall out was inevitable to happen anyway at one point or another. What it has allowed me to do, is truly take stock of my life. What makes me happy, what I want to do, and what I’m going to do about this tedious cycle.  

This acceptance of what’s gone on has literally changed my life. I’ve no longer got that ball of angry fury inside me that I felt needed to break loose somehow just 6 weeks ago. Within a couple of weeks this realisation had hit me and since then the work I’ve been doing has been for anxiety and how to move on, away from tightropes. 

When I started the counselling 6 weeks ago, I’d not reacted to my attack at all. Still emotionally numb and unable to cry. I honestly didn’t think it’d be possible for things to be sorted in the time frame of 8-10 sessions – and here i am finished after just 6! I honestly think my counsellor is some sort of miracle worker. Whilst I still haven’t cried, I don’t feel the need to. I am now a lot more emotionally astute and aware of whats going on. I don’t feel numb anymore. 

I honestly believe everyone can benefit from a bit of counselling. Only good can come from learning more about yourself and how your own head works. 

So now. I’m about to start a new job in a new field, away from hospitality. I am going to be moving back to my spiritual home with some amazing friends. I’ve already put feelers out for joining a gym and doing volunteer work as well as generally making plans for seeing friends and actually living my life, doing the things I want to do which have been put on the back burner through working too much or being unemployed. A proper work life balance, with loving caring people around me and a job with good career prospects where recognition for hard work is common place. I can’t bloody wait! 

I know I still have a lot of work to do personally and I am under no illusion it’s going to be easy or straightforward. But the tools I’ve learnt recently have given me the confidence to take things on head strong and to challenge any anxieties or problems I might have in the future. 

They say the best revenge is to be happy, live your life to the full. And that is exactly what I intend to do