I went back and I have survived.

This is not the blog I just spent the last two hours writing. Because I just hit ‘delete’ on that one – it was way too long anyway.

Having been abused as a child by both my biological father and then by my brother whose only way to deal with his own issues was through violence I believed that this was what my life was for. But years after their abuse ended, I never imagined that life which was already very cracked and fragmented could be smashed even more. But it was and I was totally broken.

Tonight I am reflecting on the fact that tomorrow is the start of a new month. And that its been a month since the 1st of March – the day I went back to the place where life changed forever, 7 years ago on that half boarded up building site.

I’ve spent all evening writing. About my childhood, abuse, how I came to be living in London, my battles with depression, self harm, drinking, smoking and the battle with staying alive because I was so desperate to kill myself.

I’ve spent all evening writing about what I have lost and what I had taken from me. I’ve spent all evening writing about what happened that day in 2007 when I already thought life couldn’t get worse, it did.

But I’ve deleted all of that because actually I want this blog to be about the fact that I went back, stood in that place, in that dark and painful place, 7 years on and was able to claim my story. Claim it as Helen, not ‘fragmentz’ (who I used as a persona for years to write about the abuse, rape, self harm, depression etc).

And I was able to stand in that place and acknowledge that despite it all, I have survived. And I was able to, after spending an hour there with two amazing people who came with me, walk away. I was able to walk away. Knowing I have survived.

I went back to that place because I felt a deep sense of needing to confront the space that has filled my sleep with nightmares ever since, and that has been the reason for disturbing flashbacks and my inability to cope in the aftermath.

I went back to that place because I needed to be connected with the place I once lived, and the things I have spent 7 years grieving, because shortly after I packed my bags and left without properly saying goodbye.

I needed to be there, and this time CHOOSE to walk away. Because I had no choice then, but I do now. I did a month ago.

A month ago I chose to walk away acknowledging that I have survived.

And I was able to close the door on parts of my life I have been in mourning for. I had to be in that place to realise that what I was grieving no longer exists. The place I was in then, the person I was, the stuff I felt connected to is no longer the same. It has moved on.

And so I must too. And so I have started.

I have started the journey of moving forwards.

I have started the journey of starting to live again.

I have started the journey of learning to love, and be loved again.

I have started the painful journey of rebuilding some sort of sense of dignity again.

I have started the journey of forgiveness, healing, restoration and freedom. I have started the journey to being able to hold my head high, and look people in the eyes again.

I have started the journey of realising there is more to me than the abuse. That there is also more for me than that too.

 

And I have restarted my journey with God, and church which has been life changing as well.

Just a few days before, I wrote this – and I know and have to hold on to that in the midst of my shame, and life is still consumed by shame, an incredibly powerful thing, that God has called me, by name. My proper name. Helen. I’m living in hope for the first time in my life that God is bigger than that shame. And despite it all, I have survived.

 

In the midst of my shame,
You have called me by name,

Cutting through the black,
even though I had turned my back.
Breaking through the scars,
slowly unlocking the prison bars

In the midst of my shame,
You have called me by name,

Piercing through each tear,
slowly releasing each and every fear.
Unravelling every built up wall,
holding them carefully as they fall.

In the midst of my shame,
You have called me by name,

Speaking mercy, love and grace,
until I can lift my head to see your face.
Looking into those beautiful eyes,
I hear You say ‘its time for the ashes to rise’

In the midst of my shame
You have called me by name.

 

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