The past is never too far, hidden but not forgotten.

Isn’t it an ugly thing when you realise that the past isn’t so distant. All those demons you thought you dealt with and let go, only to realise you never actually did let them go. You just painted over them and hoped they would go away and never revisit you. You fooled yourself and started to live your life again walking through it all blindly. But old ghosts do come back to life. They are timeless and they are waiting in the wings when something triggers your past while creating your present. Unfortunately, I’ve been having my fair share of shocks this past year, pretty much all of them ugly and uninvited. But who said the battle was easy or pain-free? Not for the faint-hearted indeed and certainly a few broken bones and sliced flesh. Well I feel it viscerally and it hits me deep, opening roughly papered over wounds; wounds that never had a chance to heal because I ignored it all and buried my head in the ground. It wasn’t intentional at all, it was just my immediate and only reaction at the time. It is how I deal with problems. Not a very good way indeed, but the only way my brain saw since the memories were too visual, too traumatic and too horrible to relive. But I am forcing myself to feel the pain and relive it, because it’s the only way I’ve realised to move forward and actually learn from it this time properly. You cannot prevent or control other people’s actions. You can only control how you react to something.

I’m going to start with a short story. Six years ago, I was sexually assaulted by my uncle. I wasn’t raped, but I was assaulted and touched inappropriately. It happened on two separate occasions and the only thing I could do at the time was freeze in disbelief. When someone you have trusted for your whole life does something so unspeakable, in my mind I could do nothing. I had no power despite my brain screaming, because the truth is, I didn’t understand how this could be happening. Only the second time was I really sure that the first time actually happened. I hadn’t just conjured it up in my mind. This probably doesn’t make sense, but I have realised that we live in a world where not all women have a voice. We have been taught subconsciously perhaps to smile, to look pretty and to stay silent. The latter is what I did. I stood still and silent, my body on fire and my mind in a state of pure confusion and naivety. He said to me that I am a loving and kind child. I didn’t know if he still thought I was a child. I didn’t have counselling, but I did tell my family and friends. My mother was furious at what her brother had done, so she turned him out. No-one wanted him not because of what happened since that remained a secret, but just because he was old and a burden. He died 2 years later. I remember the last time I saw him a year before he passed away. I held him at arms length and I kissed his cheek tentatively memories of the past still on my mind yet knowing it wouldn’t be long till he would die. In that moment, the hate subsided and all I felt was pure pity. Later, news of his death did not affect me. I was not sad, nor was I happy. I felt nothing but anger.

After that event though, I subconsciously isolated myself. I wanted a boyfriend and yet I didn’t. I didn’t want to be touched. Not by anyone and not by any man. Not long after I was assaulted again on a night bus on the way home after a night out. I was drunk, trying my best not to sleep so I wouldn’t miss the stop, I was simply sprawled on the seats. I was touched inappropriately again. I was drunk, but I still knew what was going on. I just couldn’t scream no or react this time because I was too drunk. I tried to slap his hand away but it was so weak. My mind was completely rational, but my body was paralysed by alcohol and extreme exhaustion.

Bad choices, bad decisions, young, inexperience, naivety and self-blame. I took responsibility for my actions. But again, my skin crawled. No amount of washing that day could clean me. I felt violated and completely out of control yet again. Many women have this experience and people blame them saying it’s your own fault. But that’s simply not fair. There are always two sides to a coin.

I am not sure when it began but from a moment in time, I closed myself off completely. My trust for all men went out the window. I am always weary of men. Especially the ones who tell me how beautiful and kind I am. Some people take advanatge of kindness, but does it mean I should stop being kind? I don’t think so. But I also know that being kind and saying no is equally important. Some men don’t understand no. They can’t believe no. How many times do I have to say no? Why won’t a firm no suffice?

So what triggered my thoughts?

I went on a solo trip and at the end of my trip when I travelled with one of the host members back to the main city as he was going the same place, he started to confess his ‘feelings’. He’s married with a child. He was meant to visit his child. It got awkward. It got strange and he used the words ‘special’, ‘kind’ and countless other crap I’ve heard. I don’t say that to boast, as if I’ve had many experiences. I have many negative ones so I am weary of the words. I say it because it is bullshit. The lines “Why don’t you have a boyfriend, you’re so kind and fun.” are said too many times that I know when it is not genuine or when alarm bells ring warning of interest. He insisted then that he wanted to drive me home which was a 3 hour drive. I politely refused. Said it was too kind but no thank you. He persisted and I firmly insisted I was fine. I didn’t need a lift, I was happy with the coach. It became uncomfortable. Still he insisted and still I declined. It was too far, and he admitted it wasn’t kind, it was only for me this special attention. How many times must I say no? I said it 5 times. Still before I left he said, “If you change your mind, tell me.” I ended up running as soon as I got out the car. It sounds dramatic, I was late meeting a friend and still he tried to stall for time. I was fearful because I thought he might follow me. He was so persistent, it was almost scary. So I fled as soon as I could. As soon as I got out, that was my first instinct. I think it’s important to follow instincts. I felt shit afterwards. I felt dirty. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I don’t believe there is, but I couldn’t help the feelings of disgust.

I don’t believe he would have hurt me. I think he was trying to be kind. I think things got out of control because he became inappropriate. But this time I was firm. I was clear. I spoke up and still he didn’t listen. People only hear what they want to hear, but they don’t really listen. I don’t trust men. I don’t trust persistent people when I refuse an offer. I have a few male friends and off course I can’t blame all men and wouldn’t want to. I do believe there are some good guys out there. But I don’t always trust the good ones either. I have a big problem with trust. I have a lot of open wounds. But I am trying to learn and fight back.

No means no. It never means yes.

Fiction or Reality? I choose getting lost in fiction any day!

So I have recently been reading and thinking. Writers usually write to allow their readers a form of escapism but also it allows them to escape in their own fantasy world. Most plots derive from our fantasies or so it seems, but some things are also mostly based on our experiences, because how can you write about something without having some kind of knowledge of it. This doesn’t necessarily have to be knowledge from the experiences one has had, but it can derive from the experiences of others- though you only see one side of their experience. Not only do you not experience the emotions of pain or happiness that they felt since you cannot feel it thus you cannot truly comprehend it. You could imagine it, but never grasp its reality. But you also only receive their side of the feelings- their words so stories end up twisted from the original truth (or original event that happened). For example if my friend broke up with a guy, I would be hearing her side of the story. How she interprets the situation may be different to how he interprets it. I would not understand how she felt because how can I if I’ve not had the similar experience of breaking up with a guy who I really loved or liked. I could imagine how it would feel, but that would be no good because I didn’t feel the raw emotions of what it is to love in that way, to feel pain or hurt in that specific way. All I would feel is pity for my friend trying to comprehend the way she feels, trying to reassure and comfort her, while secretly thinking and making the mental note never to make the same mistakes that she did. Never to fall in love so that I don’t give anyone the power to hurt me like. But that’s the problem with learning from other people’s mistakes and not learning from your own. You become too cautious to even make mistakes of your own because you are too afraid to do the wrong thing, to be caught in the hole in the ground everyone keeps digging for themselves. There is always someone who tries to lend a hand to a person stuck in that hole, but its up to you to choose whether you need help or even want the help offered or whether you drown in your unhappiness.

Anyway I have digressed, people teach you things whether you realise it or not we are all influenced by our family, friends and random strangers! Despite sometimes not wanting to be, you are. This has somehow drifted into a completely different topic that I no longer know how I got here! I can honestly say I am lost in a rabbit hole but in a different kind- not due to a relationship but coming to terms with what do I do with my life? Where do I go from here now that I have finished my studies? Who can help me? I can only help myself- I have to try, but what I always find that I do- no matter where I run to, where I go what I do- I always seem to try to escape to a different reality. To a fantasy world, to a place of fiction anywhere from the truth. But authors do that too- they try to recreate their own fantasies in their writings, they try to realise the dreams they never fulfilled through their characters giving them the happy ending they never got. Well I wouldn’t say never- just a different happy ending in life. While a book ends mostly happily ever after where the main character wins by defeating the baddie- war between good over evil conquers all. Well this is not the case in life, because there are no happy endings in life. There is no such thing as the prince saving the princess and living happily ever after. What does that even mean anyway? It’s time to grow up and learn that life’s not like a fairytale. Its been said many times but it really is true so why do people continue to read and watch these fairytales wishing they were true. In real life, that does not happen- after happily ever after aka getting married more problems and obstacles arise i.e maintaining a job, growing old, having children etc. Everyone still battles with their demons- but life goes on- no happy end except death. But then is that the ultimate end? So many debates surrounding that topic I won’t get into that now.

Society too has an impact on everything- on our lives, music, movies, books, media etc. The media seem to control what we desire and what we want trying to portray lifestyles we must attain. We try to attain perfection- perfect life, perfect body, the happy ending. But this is all poisonous if it only succeeds in hindering us, by shying away from our bodies, being ashamed. Look at the books that are on our shelves, being sold- they represent the times in which we live in and unfortunately they are all filled with crap! The desire for the superficial rich and famous lifestyle- The good girl getting with the rich rockstar living the dream! What is the dream? What is the life? Everyone is different so surely not everyone wants to be rich and famous. Books nowadays seem to have weak characters especially portraying women as weak, dependent and annoyingly stupid! Look at Twilight- Bella can’t even do anything because she’s so clumsy so Edward must be there all the time to “protect her”. The last thing the world needs is another young woman depicted as a “heroine” when she clearly isn’t! If you want something interesting to read, read the Hunger Games! Mind you it reminds me a little of Battle Royale! Anyone agree? It’s a pretty famous Japanese film! I would look it up if you enjoyed Hunger Games, though it is a lot darker.

Anyway there must lie some truth in a book- yes in the sense they are based on some kind of experience. The characteristics of the protagonist resemble some person or other. The main character normally resembles a person who the author wishes to be- who the author and sometimes reader wish to have the same strong characteristics that make the character strong and likeable who will fight for justice. No one likes a weak character, likewise in this cruel world no one likes a weak person. I wish I could say that I have learnt a lot from my experiences but sometimes it takes something twice as bad to hit you round the head for you to take notice and by then it may be too late. But then hopefully there is never such a thing as being too late. Better to have tried later than never.