I read articles on a daily basis which tells young people not to allow their past to define them and I simply do not agree with this. In my opinion, your past does determine what kind of person you are in the present and the future because life is all about learning.
During my adolescent years, I was confident, bold and had everything I ever dreamed of. At age 19 I had started a legal course at my local college with a guaranteed job offer from one of London's Magic Circle law firms. I was focused, excited and ready to begin adulthood until one evening, I had my identity, trust and dignity ripped away from me. I was sexually assaulted by somebody I knew.
" I spent most of my days sat on the same sofa, wrapped up in my blanket, staring into space drugged up on anti-depressants thinking up ways in which to commit suicide."
I was no longer the confident woman I was. I was no longer the chatty girl. I was no longer the person who said yes to everything. I became somebody I didn't know and somebody people didn't want to be around anymore.
The transition from my teenage years to my early 20's was not the one I had planned as I spiraled into depression, found solace in drugs and alcohol and made a lot of poor life choices which led me to lose my high flying job. My friends became enemies as they painted me a liar as a result of my erratic behaviour during the court case and I felt even more detached from myself and the rest of the world.
Suddenly I was unable to talk about how I felt, unable to trust anyone and unable to start a relationship which lead to 6 months of being a recluse. I spent most of my days sat on the same sofa, wrapped up in my blanket, staring into space drugged up on anti-depressants thinking up ways in which to commit suicide. Each day was a blur and I always asked, why me? What have I done to deserve this? How can I get out of this hole? I began to second guess my integrity and blame myself for this mess. When someone strips you of your dignity and does weird shit to your body you never asked for, it takes a while to work out how to deal with it. Especially when someone you trusted broke that trust in such an unforgivable way.
"Because I am strong. I am wise. I am alive. I didn't let my past define me because I am better than that."
Despite my reluctance to leave the house or do anything remotely productive, my parents encouraged me to sing. They believed I had a talent and that booking gigs would build my confidence back up. I did and slowly I was able to talk to strangers, interact with my friends and open up more. And for that, I am eternally grateful because it helped me to grow. It enabled me to reinvent myself on a stage that became my comfort zone.
But 4 years later I still get flashbacks of my ripped and bloodied underwear, the ghost of his voice in my ear and the memories of running home in utter shock and state of confusion. The sickening feeling of explaining it to my parents, police and doctors as they examine my body. I am still anxious around groups of people, timid and sometimes paranoid in relationships and that is why I believe that everything in your past is important because unfortunately it is one of the things you simply cannot change. Instead, you must use it to your advantage going forward.
I accept that I was sexually assaulted and yes it was shit, but he didn't win. Why? Because I am strong. I am wise. I am alive. I haven't allowed his actions to ruin my life because I know I have so much to see, do and achieve. And even though my depression hits me harder than a speeding car sometimes, I will continue to slay at life because even if these events didn't happen I wouldn't be the woman I am today.
Now at 23 years old, I am closer with my family, I have a great set of friends and have achieved so much I don't give myself enough credit for. I'm not 100% there yet and it feels like the longest war in my mind, but every day is a learning curve and one day, when I'm 40 or 50 years old or even 95 years old on my death bed, I hope to look back at my life and be proud of everything I have been through and achieved despite the setbacks.
Day by day, with a smile upon my face, I will allow my past to define my future but only in a positive light. I am learning to inhale confidence and exhale fear by pushing myself in every aspect of life to be the best version of me.
In the great words of Gloria Gaynor: