I act strong; like I can face the world but really I am fragile and easy to break. Sometimes I feel like I am walking on eggshells and like I cannot take another step.
I feel broken. I am broken.
Today I started putting one of my broken pieces back together.
I sit on the bus heading in to town, my phone in one hand, the emergency phone in the other. My Liaison Officer gave me that phone to keep me safe. It goes straight through to the police.
It is a hot, sunny day today. I want to take off the cardigan I am wearing but I daren’t put down my phones to free up my hands. I can manage until I arrive, I think, instantly regretting that decision as a bead of sweat runs down my back.
The bus pulls in to town and suddenly my legs feel like jelly. I only just manage to step off the bus. I put my normal phone in my bag and keep the emergency phone hidden in my hand.
I walk the short distance to the café where I am meeting my boss. I am grateful when I see how quiet it is. I feel unsafe in large crowds of people, especially by myself. I order a herbal tea to help calm my nerves and pick a seat where I am able to see who is approaching.
As I sit waiting for my boss to arrive I begin to shake; only noticing how bad it is when I try to pick up my tea. Deep breath. “He will be here soon” I think, willing that to be the case.
Eventually after what feels like a lifetime to me but was actually only ten minutes, I see my boss approaching. I breathe a sigh of relief. I know I am safe now.
We sit for a while and discuss the plan for today and the next few weeks. He can see that I am nervous and reassures me; there is no pressure. One step at a time he says.
I confirm that I feel vulnerable but reiterate how much I want and have to try to get through today. I explain that I am nervous but that I want to be open and honest if I struggle. Not like before when I would hide my struggles from everybody. Again he reassures me; no pressure. Everything is at my pace. One step at a time. I will be kept safe.
With that we make our way to the place of work.
My legs still like jelly I am surprised that I can manage to walk! My palms are sweaty as nerves and vulnerability begins to take over. “Come on!” I think to myself. This is my job. I know what I am doing. I have been doing it for years. I am good at it! Still, my anxiety takes over and I stick close to my boss as we arrive.
A little while later, introductions and meetings out the way, my boss leaves telling me he will check in on me later. Half of me hates the fact he is leaving me with people I don’t know, the other half is grateful to be thrown in at the deep end, knowing I perform well under pressure. I take a deep breath…I can do this!
I can do this. “I can get my life back” I think to myself. Unsure whether I actually believe it or whether I am trying to convince myself.
I can do this! Yes, it will take a while to fix myself but I will get there in the end. I will persist until I succeed because that is what I do. I know no other way! I want to thrive, not just survive.
Before long the day has gone. Due to finish at around 6pm I call my boss and instead ask to leave around 5pm, knowing that I will feel safer travelling home before the crowds of people start finishing work.
Of course I can, he says as he congratulates me on managing to last the day. After a year of struggling with my Depression, Anxiety and PTSD this is a huge achievement. I thank him and begin the journey home, phones in hand.
I am suddenly completely overwhelmed by tiredness. Adrenaline and determination clearly kept me going throughout the day but now I can barely keep my eyes open. I feel physically and mentally exhausted.
As I arrive home I am suddenly overcome with emotion. I did it. I completed my first day back at work. I feel proud and happy. It is a small step closer to getting my life back. It feels like I have found one of my missing pieces.
Yet suddenly I also feel like I want to cry. I feel very vulnerable and fragile. I know that being back in work means that there is even more of a chance of running into and being confronted by my abusers.
I feel scared. Does feeling vulnerable make me weak? It shouldn’t do. I just told the truth. I always have. That may make me vulnerable but it doesn’t make me weak. Making myself vulnerable shows my strength; that inner strength that I sometimes struggle to see.
Although this journey is a huge challenge, I am gradually getting closer to putting my broken pieces back together.
I have been knocked down, to the lowest point I have ever been, but I always get back up. Every time I get back up I stand taller than I have ever stood before.
Today I found the courage to take another small step forward.
Yes, it makes me vulnerable…..like a lonely butterfly in a gigantic forest…..
But you can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.
Thanks for reading.
**Image courtesy of Google Images**