I had a beautiful golden childhood full of love, warmth and happiness. My mother got sick when I was eight with an autoimmune disease, she couldn’t walk. She was so unwell and needed around the clock care from my dad. Six months later my dad died. He was out tramping for the day with his friends, a young fit and healthy man. He had a heart attack and dropped dead. My world as I knew it exploded. My mum packed up and moved us to the West Coast of the South Island, to escape all the memories of dad. I was in a completely new town, no friends, no family and stuck with my bed ridden mother. By the age of nine I could cook a three course meal. Mum was too sick to feed me. I was in complete survival mode. Whenever mum would get up I would just want to hide, she was on over 15 different medications a day, she had road rage and would take it out on me. I solely bore the brunt of her pain. This was my reality all the way into my teenage years. When I was 13 our house burnt down and we lost nearly everything.
Again another massive loss and hurdle to conquer. When I was 16 I got extremely sick with meningococcal disease, it took months to be able to walk and move around properly again. It damaged my eyes and I needed glasses. I moved out of home at 16. I went back to Nelson to work for the summer and ended up staying. I would go to school during the week and work all of my weekends to be able to pay rent and afford food for the week. This was my reality for the remainder of high school. I had a lot of questions about religion, so after school I studied and got a diploma in biblical studies. But my true passion was to join the navy. My dad and brother were in the navy and from the age of 12 it was my dream. I joined at the age of 21 and haven’t looked back. I’ve now been in the navy for two years, pursuing the career of my dreams. I’ve met the man of my dreams and am so in love. For the first time in a long time I am happy, loved and appreciated. I don’t regret anything from my past, I wouldn’t change a thing. It has made me who I am today, a strong young woman.
I struggled with identity,
I still do, but I’m learning.
I’ve always struggled with mental health issues and after going through multiple violent trauma and being Passed around a very flawed mental health system, a few years ago finally I got diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which is 110% a completely misunderstood disorder to say the least.
It can affect multiple aspects of your life and is different for everyone who experiences it. For me, my sense of self and emotional control and thought patterns are mostly affected.
Which means I can be very reactive to situations, sometimes more than what’s accepted by others and always more than I wanted to.
My thoughts can get mixed up because there are too many, or I have one thought that does not leave my mind and it can become an obsession.
Knowing who I am as a person and what I want can also be challenging.
I teach children’s yoga and mindfulness as it was something that helped me when nothing else could and to hopefully set up our kids for an open minded self-accepting future with skills, tools and the ability to cope better with the roller coaster of our emotional stressful lives.
I like to model so I know exactly who to be at that moment.
I find it freeing, almost trapping myself in a ‘character’ or a ‘setting’ you could say.
For a short period of time I know what to do, who to be and how to do it.
I said yes to taking part in this display of beautiful women for the chance to feel like I am exactly who I am meant to be for a short period of time.
To empower other women to feel like they can be themselves not just for a short period of time but all of the time,
To feel beautiful and strong, ugly and weak, put together and messy all at the same time because that’s what life is and we should be so fucking proud of it.
You can’t have one without the other.
You may not be able to have everything you have ever wanted.
But you can have your own slice of perfection and that perfection is you.
Trigger Warning: Discussion of physical & emotional abuse.
This comes as a surprise to some people (sometimes I reflect back in total disbelief – it’s easy to think it wouldn’t happen to you) but this time 5 years ago I was trying to leave an abusive relationship. Over the space of 12 months I had made multiple attempts to leave. I couldn’t tell you why I’d go back each time, only that the general belief, held by all parties was that it was all I deserved.
How did I end up there? I was an intelligent, strong willed young woman who had very clear views about domestic abuse & those who inflict it. But, although I didn’t really acknowledge it, I was, at that point in my life very alone. I had few close friends, and this was complimented by a distant relationship with my family & not much in the way of self-worth.
I was so desperate to be loved, to be chosen, that I ignored the early red flags (I called myself difficult & needy instead). He charmed me – nice dinners, a holiday, buying me clothes etc. But when he moved in with me, things started to slip, slowly at first.
I remember the first time we really fought. A neighbour called the cops. He played nice to them & angrily blamed me for it later. If I had only not gotten upset, he wouldn’t have gotten angry at me. I cringe now when I think of how I grovelled & apologised to him.
Every fight we had would cripple me with shame & self-hatred. I was reading every article I could on healthy relating. I went to therapy to try and isolate the problem in myself so I could cut it out & patch myself back together. I thought if I could fix myself, he would stop getting angry with me. If I could just stop being difficult, he’d stop cutting me off, refusing to talk to me for days at a time or kicking me out at all hours of the morning.
But you can’t fix a relationship by yourself, and you can’t heal yourself in order to stop someone else hurting you.
It took him two years to hit me. The first thing he did after he whacked me was tell me it was a mistake & to not tell anyone. And I didn’t, not for months. Not until well after I finally got out.
He only hit me once. I wish I could say that that was because I left, but it was because he seemed to prefer other tactics – dragging me over furniture to kick me out, holding me against the wall by my throat, once he even picked me up and physically threw me onto the concrete outside, amongst other things.
I list all these physical things, but in honesty, those things were secondary to the verbal & emotional abuse & the scars it left.
I still experience emotional flashbacks, triggered by any number of things – some identified, some which take me by surprise – in which it’s as if I shift into a dual existence, with the memories & emotions overlaying reality like a double exposure photograph, and my mind will react to the Now as if it was the Then. It’s exhausting & confusing and sometimes lasts for hours.
I still get panicky if someone misunderstands me and sometimes if people react in a neutral, emotionless manner (especially in a romantic relationship) my reflex response is fear. Its frustrating & difficult, I often feel sorry for those who have had to deal with me in my darkest moments.
I wish I could be more upbeat about it all, and say I’m now a happy, confident woman with a loving husband & a house full of animals but recovering from these kinds of things is a long & difficult road. In saying that I’m slowly healing. I’m in therapy &n the progress I’m making, uneven as it is, is leading me into a world where I can be vulnerable with others, feel safe expressing myself & enjoy authentic connections with a selection of truly wonderful friends.
I also have a career as a personal trainer & pole dance teacher. I love my work and am hugely passionate about creating a safe space for others to get in touch with their bodies, express themselves & explore their physical potential – all things I found immense value in as I was putting myself back together.
I don’t have any advice for those affected by abuse that isn’t talked about more articulately elsewhere. Removing yourself from abusive dynamics is never as simple as it might seem from the outside, and it follows that advice that works for one person won’t work for another. All I can say is – try to hold onto your Self, in whatever capacity you can & when you are ready to make the move, you will know. The road out is tough, but every step is worth it.
I was raised in a strict Christian religious family model that helped me adopt good values. These principles include the ideas that women should always be very well behaved and obedient to her husband. The big aspiration was always that I will find a good man to get married and build a family. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t work so well for me…
I then decided to leave the church and started to write down my biography. While all these things happened, I never stopped working or studying. I had to work very hard to pay for my own university. I travelled more than two hours every day to work at the bank and at night I went to the university.