Chapter 4

The crossroad

4 weeks into my sobriety and I have never felt better. I still feel lost, but more so on a journey to self discovery. I am still full of regret, and will never be more sorry to the person I hurt the most, but today I look forward. It is time to stop regretting, time to stop feeling guilty and time to stop worrying about everything that has been, now it is time to take the first step out of the hot ashes, away from the burnt bridge, towards the path ahead. I am still hoping that you will join me, and hold my hand as we move forward from this together. Leaving the hurt and anguish behind us, starting afresh.

I can promise you that none of this will be easy, but for the first time in a long time, I can see a light at the end of this tunnel, I can see the shore from the middle of the sea, I know that the traveller will find her way without the lighthouse, because she has visited hell, been beaten by the devil and still managed to live to tell her story.

Too many tears have fallen, too many lies have been spoken and too many hearts have been broken. I will wait for you to choose your direction, there is a road we can take together or there is one which you can take alone, but please choose carefully, once you decide, there is no turning back, with or without you I will keep walking.

The ocean has calmed and the darkness is fading, there are most definitely better days ahead. I hope that you will be apart of what is still yet to come, but I understand if you choose to walk away. I’m tired of fighting and my hands hurt from clinging to the idea that there could be a chance for us. This weekend is so significant, I am all in, I have everything to gain, but everything to lose, I will accept which ever way the dice rolls and will keep moving forward, with or without you.

I’ll let you know if I win big, or if I lose it all.

Until next time x

 

Chapter 3

Inhale courage, exhale fear

You know who you are,

You took a searing hot needle and stitched my lips tightly shut, each time you pierced my skin, a tear trickled down my face. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t cry out for help, I couldn’t let out even a whimper. I never told a soul about the things I experienced, I did not dare even think about it, I was scared God would hear and punish me more. Each time I would take a shovel and bury the hurt and pain into the darkest aspects of my inner being, pretending that what was on the surface was real. Overtime, I have slowly removed each stitch, with each slither of frayed thread I pluck away, the more confidence I gain to speak out. This is first and foremost, a letter to you, with all the things I left unsaid.

I was afraid. I cowered at the thought of being alone in the dark. Piece by piece you stripped me of my dignity, with each blow, part of me disappeared, fading further into the darkness. My desperation grew and my hope vanished as the light dimmed. Just like an onion, the layers kept peeling back until I was raw. Nothing but red, bloody, beaten flesh.

As you pounded my rib cage with your heavy fist, I closed my eyes and prayed that this was all a bad dream. I often wished that I would fall asleep and not wake up to the nightmare formerly known as my reality. I would feel frail and weak as I opened them only to realise that you were still there. I became numb, a passive medium, broken on the inside. If anyone seen the outside, underneath my clothes, they would have questioned why I stayed. The truth is, I felt like I had no where to go. The bruises were’t just skin deep, they tarnished my soul and diminished my self worth. I prayed endlessly and I questioned God’s existence.

On one occasion, I tried to run. You had me bent over the bed, my arms pinned over my head, I was stark naked. You called me fat, even though you knew I had not eaten in 2 days. Momentarily, you let go of my wrists and I saw my chance. I quickly snapped up and pushed you away, I ran down the hall, bare and vulnerable. You came after me, your thunderous footsteps smacking the tiled floor. I was panicking. My breaths were short and shallow. My heart sank as I came to a dead end… I spun around, you were behind me. You grabbed my wrist and flung me on to the floor, my left shoulder dislocated. I screamed out in agony. Clutching my shoulder, tears now freely flowing down my face and naked body. You looked at me and walked away shaking your head.

That night, after banging my shoulder against a wall to force it back into its place, I drove home. Emotionally shattered and physically broken. I turned off the radio so it was just me and the negative thoughts that flooded my mind. I could end everything here, the suffering, the pain… I caught a glimpse of a large tree up ahead, it was dark and the street was poorly lit. I sped up. I was going 110km/hr in a 60 zone. “This is it…” I thought, the tree was barely 50m away and suddenly happy thoughts and feelings engulfed me, memories played themselves in my mind, I swerved and slammed on the brakes. Not today, not today.

It was only last year that I stepped into a church for the first time in forever. The pastor was talking about how God has great plans for us, I remember sitting there and nearly scoffing out loud. But then as he continued, he said something and I felt as though he was speaking directly to me, as if this is what I had been needing to hear for a very long time, he said, “God isn’t finished yet.” I broke down in tears.

I am still haunted by every last hit. I have the same dream over and over again, where I hope that things will be different, that the next time you say sorry, you will mean it. As I sit here writing this, I am shaking. The pain that I buried for so long, has resurfaced. This time, I will be courageous. I will face my greatest fear. But please know, this will be the last time I ever write about you, you are worth nothing to me. This is your final chapter, in my ongoing story, and guess what, the best is yet to come.

Until next time x

beach1

Chapter 2.5

Without a spark, a lonely ember

My face is wet and my eyes are red. In the last 2 days I have slept maybe 2 hours. My housemate’s have left, there is nothing but me and the sound of my fan spinning and cutting through the dense air. It’s hard to breathe. I can’t decipher what emotion I am feeling, it comes in waves, I feel nothing and then everything all at once. I’ve had too much time to think about everything that has been, everything that could have been and everything that will be. I wonder what there is left to think about, then I hate myself as more thoughts flood my mind.

I’ve never fallen so hard… I want to believe that everything will be okay, but I cannot trust anyone to pick me back up, not even myself. My stomach lurches as I reflect on the memories we have made and the likelihood that there isn’t going to be anymore. I crossed the bridge before burning it down, the embers that remain are still lightly burning, in the hope that an old flame can rekindle. I wonder if I rebuild the bridge, that it will be strong enough for me to cross back to the other side, however the bridge is extremely delicate and there will always be one piece missing. The smallest gust of wind will cause the bridge to crumble. I look to the path in front of me and once more back at the bridge, this time I see you.

You are standing on the remains of the river bank, the bridge no longer between us, neither one of us can cross to see the other without walking across the hot coals. You smile at me, after all this time, you are still here. No party is brave enough to make the first move, I stare longingly at the other side, at everything I have ever wanted and look forward once again at the path ahead… The path ahead is flat and smooth, it appears to have no destination but promises a journey. I turn once more towards you and the remains of the bridge, but you have turned away. I call out to you, but still you don’t turn to face me.

Without thinking I step down into the hot ashes. You hear the crunch of the frail blackened wood and peer over your shoulder, I take another step. The cinders are burning my bare feet, the agony becomes overwhelming, I let out a whimper as I take yet another step closer towards you. You’re still looking away, but I am here, I am trying, I am fighting. I try to steady myself on the hot coals, I stumble and stretch out my arm to break my fall, my hand sizzles as it comes into contact with scorching chunks of charcoal, I scream. I yell out to you, I can’t go any further, for this to work, we have to meet half way and start to build a middle ground.

I’m still stuck in the scorching embers, a fire I personally lit. I am praying that you will give love a chance. I’m not asking you to help me out of the fire pit, I’m asking that you meet me there. It isn’t going to be easy, it never will be easy. I cannot promise you forever, I cannot promise you a year from now, I cannot promise you a month from now or even a week from now, but what I can promise you is today. This was something I said before I burnt down the bridge, but I mean it now more than ever, you just have to take a leap of faith.

My feet are blistered and my heart is heavy. Still hoping you will turn around, still stumbling through the burning ashes, still hoping for a better tomorrow.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1

Until next time x

waterfall1

Chapter 2

An excerpt from the book I’ll never write

Someone told me last week, that anxiety is just a fancy word clinicians use for fear. I find comfort in knowing that anxiety is not a term that I have to associate myself with for the rest of my life, but rather it is something I can overcome. 

“Penny! Penny! Where are you?!” I woke up startled to the shrieks of my mother coming from down stairs. I can hear her loud foot steps approaching, her slippers thudding on the floor with every step because they are slightly too big. She comes to a halt at the front of my door before banging on it with her hand. “Penny! Are you awake? For goodness sake it’s 11am! Get up!”. “Yes Mum…” I reply wearily. I drag myself out of bed, shuddering as I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror, my long brown hair is a tangled mess and my eye brows could definitely use a wax… I’ve always loathed the girls who have flawless skin and perfectly shaped eyebrows, their lives just seem so effortless… 

I stand under the shower, letting the water run over all the curves of my body. I remember that tonight I am going to a party with my boyfriend Jason, I contemplate what I am going to wear. It’s going to be cold, but does Brisbane ever really get cold? Jason and I have been together for two years, he is perfect. I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Jason also has brown hair, and bluey green eyes. My best friend Clare thinks it’s funny to suggest that I have a ‘type’, being that I always go for guys who fit that description. Clare is going to the party too, so I am looking forward to meeting up with her there. Clare has a bit of a wild side, she is the friend I can always rely on to take a quite night of wine, cheese and Netflix to tequila shots in a gay bar at 3:30am.

As the sunsets, I drive to the bottle shop to pick up a few bottles of Gossips Pink Moscato, at $3 a bottle, they easily fit into my uni student budget. As usual the cashier asks me for I.D even though I am a regular customer and consistently buy the same thing. I like to think he finds satisfaction in the small things, there’s nothing quite like being thorough. I continue on my way to Jason’s house, I have an overnight bag packed as tonight I will be staying at his house, much to my mothers dismay. I pull into the drive way and he comes out to greet me, “Hey babe! Ready for tonight?” He says grinning as he kisses me on the forehead.

“Yeah, I bought 2 bottles of wine… What are you drinking?” 

“I have a couple of beers, do you want to go out after? The boys are all going…” 

I take this as a hint that he wants to go out with his friends. I don’t really like his friends, but as his girlfriend, I have to tolerate them. I go inside and dump my duffle bag on Jason’s bedroom floor. His room is larger than mine, more spacious. I decide to apply my makeup, carefully applying concealer to ensure coverage of all my freckles. I hate my freckles, it astounds me how people get them tattooed on these days. I choose to wear red lipstick, the outfit I picked is a little black dress that defines my bum. Clare always tells me that in our friendship she has the boobs and I have the booty and if you put us together we would be the perfect woman.

I hear Jason call out from the kitchen, “Hey Penny! I’m gonna call the uber! Make sure you’re ready!” I take one last look at myself in the mirror, before doing a final spray with my MAC prep and prime to hold my layers of makeup in place. “Yeah I’m ready! I’ll be out in a sec!” I put on my boots, I figure the party is going to be outside and I don’t want my feet to get dirty.

The uber ride to the party isn’t long, I don’t even know who’s party it is! I’m just merely attending as Jason’s girlfriend… I know Clare is going, but I hope there is someone else that I know in case Clare decides she wants to bail and take a mysterious male with her. We pull up out the front of the house, it’s a narrow townhouse, fairy lights are draped across the balcony indicating that there is an event here tonight. Jason and I walk up the gravel pathway to the front door and he knocks in a weird rhythm, as if he was trying to be secretive and make a drug deal. A large beaming man opens the door, “Jason! You’re here! And this is…?”

“Oh hey Mr Smith, this is my girlfriend Penny, I hope it’s okay she’s here, I did tell Josh she would be coming.” Jason replies smiling at the man, who is now taking up the entire doorway.

“Of course my boy! Josh is out the back, I think they’re playing a game of beer pinga… no that’s not right… beer ping?”

I sheepishly correct him, “…beer pong?”

“Ah yes! That’s it! Beer pong! I think Andrew has already emptied his stomach contents onto my brand new tomato plant… so if you also feel the need to do so there is a toilet!” Shaking his head, Mr Smith moves aside to let us into his home.

Upon entering the backyard, I notice a circle of girls, who are cheering on the boys playing beer pong, I’m assuming they are their girlfriends. I am shy, but I approach the group and pull up a chair next to them. They all introduce themselves to me, but I don’t take the time to remember their names as it is unlikely I will see them again. Jason and I hardly talk at the party, it makes me a bit uncomfortable considering I don’t know anyone because Clare hasn’t arrived yet. I can see Jason is becoming increasingly intoxicated, he is becoming loud and overbearing. 

“Hey, maybe you should slow down a bit… you won’t end up making it out to the clubs!” The tone in my voice makes my statement seem more like a suggestion. Jason spins around and glares at me, “Penny! I can handle my booze, I’m not a little kid so don’t treat me like one!” I touch his arm, he angrily shakes me off. I skulk away and leave him be. Jason is short tempered, especially after consuming alcohol, I prefer when he drives, he intimidates me when he is angry.

Clare still hasn’t arrived, it would be nice to see a familiar face… I really just want to go home. I contemplate calling an uber, because Jason is going to head out with his friends after anyway. In the corner of my eye, I spot a guy sitting by himself, he is staring pitifully at a girl who is very drunk, she has her head buried in Mr Smith’s tomato plant… The poor tomato plant, can’t catch a break! I proceed towards the lonely guy, I say hello as I sit down beside him.

“Hi I’m Alex” he says looking rather glum. 

“I’m Penny, your night looks like it’s going as great as mine…” I reply to him sadly. Alex looks up at me, then over at the girl who is still face down in the garden bed, he shakes his head, “I told Lucy not to drink tonight… she’s been taking antibiotics for a chest infection… but she doesn’t listen to me…” 

“Is Lucy your girlfriend?”

“Yeah… 3 years and counting! She’s great, but I hate nights like this…”

“I know, Jason is my boyfriend, he’s over there… losing at beer pong…” I say in agreement.

“Are you disappointed because he’s intoxicated and your not? Or because he’s losing at beer pong?” Alex says smiling.

I giggle, it’s nice to chat to someone else who is sober. “I was going to drink,” I said, “but then I just wasn’t feeling it… especially when I don’t know anyone.”

Alex and I continue to chat and I laugh as he tells me some horrendous jokes. Jason hears me giggling and directs his gaze towards me. His brow is furrowed, I look at him and instantly know he is angry. He storms over, “Penny, can I talk to you please!”

I look at him slightly confused, “yeah…?”

“In private!” He scowls.

Jason drags me by the arm into what appears the host’s bedroom. “What do you think this is Penny! I am nothing but good to you and this is how you repay me!” His voice is increasing in volume. I begin to slowly back away from him, but he is still clutching my wrist tightly. “I just can’t believe you!” He bellows, “you’re flirting with old mate outside! He’s a loner Penny! Nobody likes him! A weirdo!” 

“Jason I-” he cuts me off before I can defend myself. 

“Batting your delicate little eyelids at him and laughing at his shitty jokes!” I tear my wrist away from his grasp, but he reclaims his grip. I begin to panic. My heart is racing and my breathing becomes shallow. I’m so frightened, of Jason, the man I love. 

“Jason you’re scaring me!” I whimper as his angry eyes stare deep into my soul. 

“Good Penny! You should be f***ing scared! You have no right to be like that around other guys!” I let a tear fall down my face. He sees it and cackles with laughter. 

“Oh no, little Penny, crying because Jason is the big bad wolf! Well guess what Penny, you will never get better than this! So you better f***ing learn to appreciate it!”

And with that, he raises his hand and slaps it across my right cheek. He let’s go of my wrist and marches out of the room. I collapse to the floor clutching my cheek, it stings. I am in disbelief at tonight’s occurrences. How could Jason do this to me… He loves me… Tears stream down my face, soothing the stinging sensation. I just sit there, on the floor, for an indefinite amount of time and cry. A million things running through my mind. 

I forgave Jason, he apologised endlessly and swore such behaviour would never occur again. Safe to say, he lied.

My fear for life has been a direct result of my experiences. Burying these painful memories does nothing but allow them to resurface when I least expect it. I’ve never been great at confrontation, but it’s time to jump over the hurdle that now presents itself, and stop shying away.

Still sober. Still swimming. Still hoping for a glimpse of the shore, and praying it’s not as far away as it looks. Still waking up to fight the demons I left so tired the night before.

Until next time x

Chapter 1

A short fall from grace

As I sit writing this post, I am wearing a shirt that says “Pretty good with bad decisions”. I admit, I have felt low before, but never quite like this. If there was ever a time that I wanted to drink my body weight in wine, it would be now. However last week I decided to commit to 6 weeks sober… What a silly idea that was…

Have you ever gambled? The excitement and thrill of it is so appealing. You have a win, so you place another bet. You keep winning, so you keep placing bets, each one posing a greater risk than the last. But in the end, you lose it all… Tonight, I lost everything. I hurt someone, someone I love and care for deeply. The saddest part about it, is I have no one to blame but myself.

Michael, if you are reading this, I just want you to know how sorry I am.

The perception that the grass is greener on the other side is extremely misleading. My journey to this supposed grass, was a quick short fall, where with every branch I hit on the way down, I lost another little piece of my dignity. I started this blog to help me understand me. So far, I’m not doing a very good job.

It’s disappointing to think that everyone was fighting for me, except me. The one person I wanted to keep fighting, decided his time in the ring was over, and it was time for him to walk away. The decision between walking away and trying harder is never easy, but there are only so many times you can get knocked down and get back up again.

I wanted to be alone and now I am. It is possibly the scariest thing I can ever imagine. My eyes are burning from all the tears I have cried, the small cuts on my thigh stinging more now than they ever have before, my limbs feel weak and heavy from all the energy I have exhausted, i feel nauseous from all the food I have not eaten and my heart is racing as my mind comes to terms with the fact that this is real. Negative thoughts flood and fill the empty cavity where I reside, I feel lost in a sea of pessimism and fearful that no one will save me from drowning.

I look to the horizon in the hope that you will reach out your hand and rescue me as you always do. I keep looking, but you are no where to be seen. Reality finally sinks in, like an anchor pulling me further into the abyss, you are gone and you’re not coming back. If I want to survive this, I have to swim.

When I find the shore I’ll let you know.
Until next time x.tas1.jpg

 

Prologue

The beginning of new beginnings.

If 22 wasn’t such a good age, Taylor Swift wouldn’t have written a song about it. In this moment, at 22 years of age it seems like the world is at my feet. I am starting this blog to help me understand me. I’ve never felt so empowered, yet so vulnerable.

It’s scary to think that at the end of this year I will be a qualified physiotherapist, my teenage dream about to come true, everything I have worked so hard for over the last four years is about to become a reality. But I don’t feel ready. Not in the slightest. This signifies the end of something and the start of another, the transition to real adult life… Where I have to work 6 days a week to pay off a mortgage on a house that I probably don’t even like, pay off a loan on a car that I won’t be able to resell for half the price I bought it for, start putting money into superannuation (whatever the hell that is), start saving for the holidays I’ll never take and start walking the dog who will pass away before I’m 40.

It scares me to think that I can’t even look after myself on a Saturday night, let alone take on a full patient load as a new grad. Speaking of Saturday nights and Friday nights… And Wednesday Uni nights… And Thirsty Thursdays… Over the last 6 months in particular I have felt that wine and vodka have been my only friends. Even though on many occasions they have both caused projectile expulsion of my stomach contents. I think that maybe I’ll forget about the reality I’ll be faced with in December, the decisions I’ll have to make regarding my career and my relationship. Alcohol allows me to have the night off from thinking, worrying and dwelling and let’s me have a good time with the girls. But much to my dismay, all the things that are bothering me are still there when I wake up in the morning, only they are compounded by a splitting headache, an upset stomach and much confusion as to whether or not I’m still drunk – AKA the classic hangover.

Wednesday night just gone I had a big night… Before leaving the house my housemate and I drank two bottles of wine each and when we arrived at the uni night hotspot “Flamingo’s on Quay” we subjected ourselves to many vodka OJs and shots. We danced to ‘Closer’ by the Chainsmokers and got ‘low’ to Flo Rida in true white girl style, we took drunk club photos that we didn’t remember until we seen them the next day and we stumbled back into the house at 4am on Thursday morning. I slept for 2 hours, before waking up still very intoxicated and needing to go to the toilet. I decided a to have a shower, I just sat there trying to hold down last nights liquor, the water ran over me, and I thought to myself, “Do I really want to wake up feeling like this?” – The answer was no. I felt horrible. In that moment I decided that my partying and binge drinking was taking its toll on my liver and more importantly my bank account… It’s hard enough being a student with a low income, paying rent and buying food, but when unexpected things like your $700 car rego come in the mail and you have no money to pay for it because you just blew nearly $200 on liquid that is potentially going to make a reappearance at any second, you realise something needs to change.

This is where I decided that I was going to pick up my act – a 6 week detox. A cleanse of sorts. I posted a photo to my Instagram declaring what I was going to do and so that my regular partying buddies knew I was serious and this was not just a whim. Of course many people scoffed at the idea, my own family placed bets on how long I would last. At first this disappointed me, but now I am even more determined.

6 weeks sober. Let’s do this!
Until next time xbeach happy