I had allowed someone to strip me so bare of my self-worth that I wanted to end it all. Even though I had two small children at the time and the world at my feet, I didn’t care in that moment. Sometimes, we get caught up in a fairy tale dream that we have and let someone strip the layers from our self-worth, strip by strip until there is nothing else to take away. They do say false love is blind, and blimey, it sure was at that point in my life. However, it was only one of the crosses I had to bear to become who I am today. Would I have changed that event in my life? NO!
What I learned from my life events was vital to being an effective coach. It gave me a deeper understanding of why some people feel worthless to the point of wanting to end their lives, especially when someone else in the equation plays a huge part in you not wanting to be here anymore.
I ended up in many abusive relationships in my life, which, again, nearly cost me my life. However, this time it was not by my own hands; it was the stress of one relationship that caused me to develop an anxiety disorder, which resulted from me in having huge panic attacks—one panic attack resulted in a stroke, which paralysed the right side of my body for two months afterward. Let me tell you about my journey of losing my self-worth completely by letting someone take it away from me.
MY KNIGHT IN SHINING TIN FOIL:
At the age of 30, I went to stay with my friend one weekend. She was having a little get-together with a few friends, and one person who I had not seen for over 10 years was going to be there that very evening. His name was Tim. He used to live on the very same street as me many moons ago with his partner and two step-children. Anyway, his relationship broke down and he moved away, never to be seen again—until now. It was a boy-meets-girl-again moment, a falling-head-over-heels-in-love moment, and all that crap.
(Now, when I say crap, I don’t want you to think for one moment I am being negative about love and relationships because that is far from true. This relationship was far from true love, and the end nearly cost me my life!)
Meeting Tim again had the similar feeling to when I had an affair with Adam, my boss—that feeling that tells you that you shouldn’t be doing this for some reason, but you do anyway. Obviously, this was the beginning of another painful lesson to be learned, and yet another cross to bear.
Tim was originally from Lancashire, the UK which is where he lived and worked. When we started our relationship, he would drive through on the weekends to see me and drive back on Sunday evenings. We lived around 250 miles apart, so there was quite a distance between us to travel to and from where he lived. We kept in touch through the week by phone, and he would call me most days, which at the time I thought was so sweet of him—me being completely unaware of the fact that Tim had a completely separate life on the other side of the coast!
Unknown to me, he actually lived with someone, which had somewhat escaped his attention to tell me this. Christmas 2009 was one of the worse Christmases I have ever experienced in my life. During the time of year where everybody celebrates and looks forward to a new year, I was sitting alone, crying my eyes out for two reasons. First, because Tim said he was coming to my house for Christmas, but he never turned up. His phone was switched off and I had no way of getting in touch with him. So there I was, left completely in the dark, thinking the guy may have died on the way to see me.
Second, because Facebook helps you to track down almost any human on the planet who uses it. I decided to contact a member of his family, and I contacted his brother to let him know I was Tim’s girlfriend and that I was worried because he had not turned up at my house that evening. His brother simply replied, “How can you be Tim’s girlfriend, when he lives with somebody?” My heart stopped and I couldn’t breathe. What a bloody fool I had been, AGAIN! Was every man who I came across just going to rip my heart out and stamp on it? You would think that right here and now, after finding this out, which made my Christmas a terrible one, that I would never take him back, right?
…Obviously, I had not suffered enough just yet….
I had stupidly been sucked in by his lies again as he started reeling off some bullshit story that he had been arrested that Christmas evening, had been locked up in a police cell and that he didn’t live with anyone. So blinded by what I thought was love, I believed him like a complete fool, and the relationship continued.
A couple more months into the relationship, Tim give up his flat in Lancashire and moved over to my hometown. He instantly said to me that he didn’t want to live in my hometown, and said we should consider moving to the countryside. So, again, blinded by what I thought was love, I started looking for houses to rent within the countryside. I found a large 3-bedroom property six miles away from where I currently lived, in a small village called Burton Agnes. I moved my children to different schools and gave notice on my current home and to all of my clients in my child-care business. I then moved six miles into the middle of nowhere to start a fresh life with Tim and my children.
I had to adjust after 11 years of living on my own as a single mother to now having a relationship with a person who lived under the same roof. To begin with, the relationship was fantastic: for the first four months, we were happy and my business picked up straight away with new clients, and I was soon looking after children within the village and surrounding village areas. I also made myself known at the local village school, so that the staff would know about me and the services I provided with looking after children.
It was an added bonus when the school invited me to teach for them once a week. They needed help with the children’s reading times, and with it only being a very small school, they didn’t have as many staff as they needed. The school was impressed with my track record of being a qualified child psychologist, as well as the experience I had as a child-minder. You could say my life was slotting into a perfect picture of happiness: I was living in a big gorgeous house in the countryside with a man who had moved from the other side of the country to be with me. (Yeah, right! If it had been that perfect, the book would stop here.) It was far from perfect. Only four months into the relationship, Tim changed dramatically. He had gone from a very happy soul who was full of life to becoming a grumpy, ignorant bastard who shouted at my children for any little thing. At first, I stood my ground with this man and told him not to speak to me or my children that way.
Only, over time that wore me down leaving me to being a complete doormat that he walked all over. It started with him going to the pub in the next village for a few pints now and again, but then the pub visits started to become more of a routine every single day. He would stay there all evening, fall through the door around midnight after driving three miles home from the next village. He would then sit on the end of my bed and wake me up in the middle of the night just to accuse me of sleeping with every man I had come in contact with.
After two hours of verbal torture, he would then fall asleep into a beer coma next to me until morning. There were many times when I woke up in the morning wet through because Tim had wet the bed at the side of me. He would drink so much that he wouldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom, and just lay there and pissed himself instead. One evening, when I suggested that he should slow down with his drinking because I was afraid he may have a drinking problem, he launched across the room and grabbed me by the neck and pushed my back up against the wall. He started squeezing my throat tighter and tighter and I panicked, thinking he was going to kill me. Finally, he slackened his grip and I fell to the floor, gasping for breath. How the hell had we got to this in only six months?
The next morning, he was full of apologies and tears, saying he was extremely sorry and that he would never do it again. He even called me again on his lunch break from work and kept crying on the phone, begging for forgiveness. I knew the only way forward from this was to get him help: he had a drinking problem, and he had to admit it so we could move forward and get him the help he needed. Only, Tim refused help, and things got worse. I was his point of abuse every single night after that for the next six long months, and each time I was just getting weaker, losing my identity and doing everything to please him and walk around on eggshells so as not to upset him.
When he asked me to marry him, I accepted, and I started to
plan and pay for our wedding. He didn’t put a penny towards any of it and continued to spend all of his money at the bar of the village pub. One evening, around nine weeks before the wedding, Tim held me hostage in my home and locked all the doors and put the house keys in his pocket. He then continued to mentally torture me for hours, telling me that I was not good for anything, only sex, and that I was a waste of space and that my kids would be better off if I died.
I begged him to stop and started screaming at him to let me go. He opened up the back door and said, “Go on, then, get out!” As I put half of my body through the door frame, Tim swung the door on to me and slammed my right leg between the door and the frame. It was not enough for him to do it once; he had to repeat it over and over again till I fell to the floor screaming. When I managed to drag my leg back through the door frame, he slammed the door and locked it. Now I was scared for my life, and I did think for one moment he would kill me. Flashes of images in my mind of my kids growing up without me entered my mind. He continued his mental torture for what seemed like another few hours. I was still on the kitchen floor at this time and still crying as he stood over me. He then turned and left the room because he needed to use the bathroom.
As I heard him climbing the stairs, my mind went into overdrive. How the hell could I get out this house now and make a run for it? He had every key to the house in his pocket, so there was no way I could get through any door right now, so sod it! I grabbed my phone, opened the kitchen window and climbed out of it. I began running down the path and then on to the main road. My leg was in a lot of pain, so running as fast as I usually could be not an option. I heard footsteps behind me and turned my head to see Tim running after me; he soon caught up to me and tried to pry my mobile phone out of my hand. “Give me that,” he said. “You are not calling anybody.”
I managed to keep my grip on my phone, and he couldn’t pry my fingers from it. So he pulled my hair from the back of my head and grabbed a clump of it in his hand and punched me full-force in the face with his fist. I dropped to my knees, dropping the mobile phone, which smashed in three places and hit the side of the road with a thud.
I looked up at him in disbelief at what he had just done to me and how he had just treated me. He walked away from me back up the road, shouting over his shoulder, “You best find a park bench to sleep on tonight because you are not coming back in the house.” That was it! Something inside of snapped; that was my home! I had paid for the goddamn thing, and everything in that house was mine—bought and paid for by me! I pulled myself up from the roadside. I knew there was a phone box at the top of the hill. I had to make it to this phone box and report this bastard to the police.
I dragged my swollen leg to the top of the hill and balanced myself inside the phone box so I didn’t put pressure on my swollen ankle. I lifted the receiver and dialed 999. I remember a soothing female voice on the other end of the line asking me where I was and whether I was safe. She told me she was sending two officers to come and collect me. I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened after that because I must have passed out, or the shock hit me. The next thing I knew, I came around to two police officers trying to get me off the floor of the phone box cubical. The officers helped me over to the police car and sat me on the back seat and asked me what I wanted to do about this situation. I looked up at them and said, “Arrest him.” The police drove up to the side of the house and asked me to wait around the side of the house till they had Tim in handcuffs and had put him in the back of the police car. The cheeky sod had gone to bed and locked me out my own home.
The police arrested him and put him in the back of the car—he didn’t go quietly, and he made a complete scene before they took him away. As soon as the officers had him in the police car, they told me to get back into my own house and a member of their team would come and see me in the morning to take a statement.
I sat up that night and watched the sunrise. With so much on my mind, I couldn’t sleep. I had to decide if I was going to press charges for assault and have Tim charged. My first instant decision was that the wedding was off and I wouldn’t be marrying him, even though everything was almost paid and my wedding dress had been ordered. There was no way I was going to marry this man.
By the time the police officers arrived to take my statement, I had talked myself out of pressing charges. A moment of weakness? Yes, and it’s so common among victims who experience domestic violence. Here I was, right now, acting the victim and refusing to press charges because I felt guilty for doing so. I was bowing down to this animal again and allowing him to walk all over me again. However, I stuck to my guns about the decision of canceling the wedding and contacted everyone the next day to let them know the wedding was indeed off. Now I just needed to find the same strength to do the same with this relationship.
One week after I had dropped the charges, I started suffering from dizzy spells and my breathing was hard to control. I would sometimes lose my balance, too, for a few moments, and it would follow with a huge wave of tiredness and a headache that felt like a train was crashing through my head. I ignored it at first until it became obvious that I could no longer ignore it anymore. It really started to affect my life, and even doing the simplest of things (like going to the supermarket) became so hard!
I had to keep my balance by gripping the supermarket trolley handle tightly, and try and control my fast breathing. The thought of everybody staring at me in the store and judging me made things ten times worse. I started to dread public places and lose control of my breathing, which would lead to dizziness and blind spots in my eyes.
I booked an appointment with my doctor to see if I could find out what was actually going on with me and why this was happening. The morning of my appointment, I sat in the doctor’s office awaiting a diagnosis of these crazy symptoms I was experiencing. My doctor looked at me and he said, “Is there something in your life that is causing you a lot of stress right now?” I looked at him and bear face lied and said, “No.” I was hiding behind my victim mask again and pretending that everything was rosy when it clearly wasn’t. He moved forward on his chair and said it again: “Is there something in your life right now that is causing you a lot of stress?” I looked at him and lied again! “No; why?”
He took a deep breath and said, “It seems you are suffering from anxiety disorder, and this is the reason behind all your symptoms. This is usually brought on through experiencing trauma or stress. It’s the body’s way of saying it’s been too strong for too long, and now the stress needs to go before something inside shuts down completely and makes you ill. ”Again, I told a big fat lie and said nothing was causing me stress right now. Because I wouldn’t admit it, he couldn’t actually prescribe me with anything or treat me for anxiety, because I was again hiding behind my victim mask and lying to him and every person around me, including myself, pretending that my life was great.
However, taking that denial out of that office and home with me only made my symptoms worse and they controlled my life even more. I started avoiding supermarkets altogether and, instead, had my grocery shopping delivered to my front door. I wouldn’t go out of the house unless I really had to, and even then it was a complete nightmare and I would lose control of my breathing, feel dizzy and want to run home and be safe behind my own front door again, which was not even possible while still living with Tim.
The following week, I had no choice but to leave the house, due to my son being sick with the flu. I caught the bus to town to pick him up some cough medicine and pick up a few other things while I was out. I just managed to pull myself together and willed myself to catch the bus to town and get the things I needed and hurry straight back home. I walked down the road to the bus stop and waited for my bus; while waiting there, I could feel that familiar feeling rising in my chest again—that feeling of uneasy breathing followed by a bout of dizziness that had me leaning against the bus shelter while I waited for the bus. I kept saying to myself over and over again, “You have to do this.”
The bus stopped to pick me up and I boarded the bus and sat down to take my journey to the nearest town, which was six miles away. Along the journey, my breathing became hard to control and I started having huge blind spots in my eyes and couldn’t see in front of me. This added to my panic attack and made it worse. I sat there and suffered in silence while my symptoms became increasing hard to deal with. As we became closer to the town centre, I knew I had to somehow walk down the aisle of this bus without falling over because I couldn’t see clearly in front of me.
My right arm went numb, which just added to my panic more. I pulled myself up off my seat and made it to the front of the bus, and I stepped off and turned the corner. I propped myself up against the wall of a building. The numb feeling in my arm intensified and spread from the top of my shoulder to the bottom of my fingertips, followed by what felt like the intense pain of pins and needles. You know yourself when you lay too long on your arm and it goes numb, and you have a tingly feeling rushing up and down your arm and it’s painful, right? Well, imagine that times ten!
I was now seriously panicking and drawing attention to myself. Passers-by in the street asked me if I was ok. I just knew there and then that I had to make it to the hospital, which was situated 10 minutes up the road from where I was right that second. I thanked everyone for their concern and shoved my numb hand into my pocket, and then proceeded to walk towards the hospital. I reached the hospital entrance and walked through the big entrance doors to be greeted by a male nurse, who said, “Are you all right?” I was trying to reply to him, but my speech became slurred and it sounded like I was drunk. I looked at him and just as I tried again to speak to him, I nearly fell over, but he caught me and helped me to a side room and put me to a bed. My right-hand side complete give way and I fell over onto the bed; now I was panicking!
I had totally lost control of one side of my body and couldn’t move it. My breathing started getting out of control. The male nurse called help for somebody else to come into the room. Both nurses positioned me properly on the bed and started asking me to calm down; one of them put a heart monitor on my chest, and my heartbeat per minute was rising to a very dangerous level.
The nurse looked at me and said, “If you don’t calm your breathing now, you will go into cardiac arrest and we will have to rush you to the city hospital.” By this time, my heart rate was climbing up to 285 beats per minute due to the panic of losing complete control of my right-hand side.
I managed to gain control of my breathing and slowly my heart rate reduced down, although as I was calming down, my right-hand side went completely numb, all the way from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. I could feel that the right-hand side of my face had dropped, too. The nurse told me I was doing great and then he asked me for my name. I proceed to talk, and then found that I couldn’t! I tried again and again, and all that came out was, “K, K, Ka…”
I gave up and the tears of frustration rolled down my face. I had lost my control of speaking, and couldn’t do what we all take for granted each and every day. This made me panic and get frustrated. The nurse placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s fine; we will try again in a little while.”
I wrote down Tim’s number and handed a note to the nurse to ask him to call Tim to let him know what was happening. Tim arrived around 15 minutes later and sat beside me in the hospital room, and all I could do was bore my eyes right through him. It hit me right there and then WHY I was in this state, and I fully knew he would NEVER change, and now was the time to put myself first and leave this bastard. I made the decision there and then that whatever was happening to me right now, I was going to heal, get off this fucking bed, and throw this man out my life for good! After an hour or so, my speech came back. It was a stutter, but least I could talk again and tell the nurse everything he needed to know. I still couldn’t move my right arm and shoulder, but the feeling in my leg and toes came back, which enabled me to rest at home till I had to go back into the hospital to have tests, including a brain scan. I didn’t want to leave my kids in Tim’s care because God knows how he would have treated them. The first evening after I had left the hospital, I did feel extremely unwell, exhausted, and I knew I needed to rest.
I remember laying there propped up on around five pillows, not being able to move, just staring at the ceiling, wondering what my first action step would be to get my life back on track as soon as I could move again. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, I was awoken by somebody sitting beside me. They were sitting a bit too close—actually, they were sitting on top of me, and I had to move back a little in the bed so they could sit on the bed beside me. I opened one eye to see who had disturbed me from my sleep, only to see my grandmother sat right beside me.
Only, it didn’t look like her at the age she had died; she looked exactly like she did in her old photos when she was around my age. I smiled at her and she smiled back and I slipped back to sleep.
I was awakened a second time that evening to the sheer pain of pins and needles shooting up and down my arm again, and this time I was so weak and fed up of the pain I actually remember surrendering to death. I thought this was it, that I was dying, and there was nobody around to help me. I must have passed out and fallen back to sleep again because I was awoken a third time to a bright ball of light in front of me. It contained a group of people that I had never seen before in my life. The bright ball of light just hovered in front of my face and it started flashing different faces of different people who I had never seen before.
WAS THIS IT? WAS I PASSING OVER? WAS I DYING?
Something was happening, and I couldn’t quite understand exactly what. I know to this day I was not dreaming; I know what I saw. I made it to the next day anyway and needed two weeks’ bed rest after that day, and I also needed the help to do little things like bathing myself, go to the toilet and feed myself. I was very limited to what I could do with one side of my body completely paralyzed from the waist up. My children were little angels and helped me so much during that time, and never complained once. They even cooked dinner every night and did the household chores for me while I lay in bed, gaining my strength back. By the second week, I could get out of bed, but I couldn’t use my right-hand side very well. My speech was back to normal and I could do more for myself and not rely so much on people like I had in the beginning.
Now it was time to put that decision that I made in that hospital bed into action and throw Tim out my house. He didn’t go quietly and accused me of wanting him out my life so that I could move another man in. (Yeah, right!) In the end, I called the police and had him removed from my home. Suddenly, with him out the house, the whole atmosphere in the house completely changed. It was like me and the kids could breathe again and be ourselves; a dark cloud had started to disappear from above our heads. For three days after getting kicked out, Tim lived in his car (which I had paid for) and drank himself stupid.
Each time he got drunk, he would then drive back to my home and shout and make noise on my doorstep till I rang the police to have him removed. Do I feel guilty for making this guy homeless? Do I? Bollocks! He should have saved the money he spent on beer and checked into a hotel; at least then he would have had a bed to sleep in. Three days later, some other poor soul felt sorry for him and let him stay with them; he fed them a completely bullshit story about it all being me that had caused him harm and that I wanted him out the way because I was seeing someone else.
I started searching on the internet for a house to rent back in my hometown. It was time to go back and get my life sorted out, be closer to my friends again, and get back to the real world after being isolated for so long in the middle of nowhere. As I began searching, that little voice from inside popped up and said, “New Pasture Lane.” So I listened and Googled that street name.
There it was, right in front of my eyes: a 3-bedroom house to rent on New Pasture Lane. I rang the phone number attached to the ad and went to view the house that week. The house needed a lot of decorating, but I didn’t care right at that point. I looked past it and knew I could make it into a nice home for the children and me to live in. I handed in my notice of my country home and hired a complete removal team to pack all my stuff and move all my belongings and furniture to the new house.
Within that time, Tim had tried almost every day to contact me, but I was not interested. You know for yourself that whenever a relationship ends, whether good or bad, we still have to mourn the loss of that person because we shared a life with them. So yes, part of me did miss him, but a bigger part of me hated him and wouldn’t allow him back in my life.
I moved into my house on New Pasture Lane in August 2011 at the age of 32 years old. I was finally free to start a new life and a new beginning and focus solely on building my business and being a mum to my children. As I started unpacking, I came across the “wedding box” which contained everything that was purchased for Tim’s and my supposed wedding day. I stuffed it all into a charity bag and took it to the nearest charity shop (brand-new wedding dress included) and handed it all over the counter to the assistant. It was like cutting that last cord to freedom.
Under the very watchful eye of my doctor, with light exercise each day I got stronger, and I even started jogging lightly again. The more I ran each week, the more feeling came back in my right arm. I was beginning to become fully mobile again, and although I still couldn’t grip things properly with my right hand, I was determined to succeed and keep trying—no matter how many cups I broke in the process 🙂
The doctor told me to be careful because the results of my brain scan had shown I had a slight scar on my brain from the stroke, and this is what caused me to stutter the odd time and have a twitching eyelid. Other than that, my right-hand side was becoming stronger each day. My self-confidence, however, had been completely crushed and I was almost running empty on it. Whenever someone called the house, I would get my son to answer the phone because I feared to speak to the other person on the other end. This went as far as not even ordering a takeaway pizza! My poor son, who was 12 years old at the time, was relied on for this, too—until the day he snapped at me and said, “Why can’t you do it? I’m sick of doing it for you!”
That there was a wet fish-slap around my face! Was this what had I become? I was supposed to be this young man’s protector, yet he was telling me off and telling me to pull up my big-girl pants and be a mother. The next time the house phone rang, I picked it up, only to be greeted by a call from Tim. He lied out of his backside and told me he needed to see me give me back some official papers that had gotten mixed up in his things when I had thrown him out my house.
I slammed the phone down on him after telling him to get lost. However, this man didn’t seem to take no for an answer, and couldn’t quite accept that I didn’t want him in my life again. That same evening, as I lied in bed, I heard a noise outside; at first, I thought it may have been a neighbour, so I ignored it and went back to sleep. I woke up again and froze in my bed to see a shadow looming over me: it was Tim. He had broken into my
new home through the kitchen window and come to make sure I had no other man in my bed.
I jumped out of the bed, ran down the stairs and grabbed the phone. I dialed 999 and was just about to speak to the operator, but Tim tried to grab the phone out my hand. I struggled with him for a while to try to hustle him to the back door so I could open it and shove him out my house. I was so angry that this man had broken into my new home that was supposed to be my new haven away from this crazy man.
I punched him really hard in the right side of his head, opened my back door and threw him out of it, and then slammed it and locked the door. As I threw him out, a police car with flashing lights turned into my road. Tim saw the police car and started running down the street. One of my neighbours had actually seen him climb through my kitchen window and had called the police before I did. I went back to bed and tried my best to sleep the best I could for the rest of the evening. I had a friend’s wedding to attend the next day and I could have really not done with this right now. It was going to be hard enough to watch my friend walk down the aisle and marry the man she loved when seven days before that date, it would have been my very own wedding day.
As you can imagine, by now I didn’t think my life could get very much worse. I was having that moment again where I was thinking, “When the fuck am I going to get a break here? When will people just leave me to get on with my own life in peace, so that I can just make a success of my business and bring my children up?”
The whole experience of Tim’s and my relationship had really had a massive impact already on both my children, and it was such a relief for both of them—and for me—to finally be rid of his drama and live in peace again. After a few emotionally draining weeks, our lives started to get back on the positive
track. The children were enrolled at a local school and they had settled in nicely, plus my nanny business had a boost of new clients as it always did during the school summer holidays. This enabled me to seriously decorate my new home; so, with business doing well and a house to decorate, along with bringing two children up by myself again, my time was pretty occupied.
I was nowhere near ready to have any form of relationship and decided to stay single for a heck of a long time. The main focus now was my children, my business, decorating my home and finding myself again. I had actually forgotten how much I had missed just the three of us were by ourselves. The freedom was back, and the atmosphere was quite relaxing and free once more.
Taken From Kate’s book The Missing Piece in Self-Worth…