#3 Don’t air your dirty laundry in public

A phrase of meaning you disapprove of speaking out about a private family or personal matter.

As you read the story below consider these questions.

  • What traumatic experiences was Nina subjected to? 
  • How might these impact Nina?
  • Were her coping strategies & responses rational?


Nina was born in 1962. She was subjected to childhood abuse from an early age, after years of neglect & abuse, she was eventually taken into foster care.

She doesn’t remember the abuse, but she remembers multiple foster homes, feeling unloved, unwanted, the different routines & eventually being placed in a children’s home, after being labelled ‘challenging’.

Nina remembers the heavy fire doors, the staff, their overwhelming presence with their big bunches of keys attached to belts, the coldness of the atmosphere.

She imagined this was what prison felt like.

Some staff were kind, interested & warm, but she never knew how long they’d stay, when they might leave for a new job. But it was obvious that many of them didn’t want to be there, it was just a job & their apathy told in their body language.

By the time Nina left ‘care’, she had numerous diagnosis’, she quickly became homeless & was later admitted into a mental health hospital during her early 20’s.

Labelled with borderline personality disorder & clinical depression, she was heavily medicated.  

The hospital felt similar to the children’s home. Routine, rituals all determined by the staff who were on shift.

Nina never felt any sense on control over her day to day choices & she never experienced the warmth & security of a home.

The years that followed, Nina was persuaded by professionals that she attracted a certain type of person, that her vulnerability made her a target &  any harm she experienced was her fault.  Often not seeing the abuse as harmful but a normal aspect of close relationships.

Nina had numerous partners male & female, searching for a connection, safety & love, never finding it.

She would then be labelled ‘promiscuous’.

She spent decades in homeless shelters or in hospital, whilst this was traumatic in itself, she preferred the psychiatric hospital.

Hospital meant she had access to food, shelter & a library. She began reading self help literature & in her early 40’s was able to access funding to start a college course.

She began speaking about her childhood experiences, often criticised for oversharing, being told to ‘move on’ & ‘the past is the past’.

She ignored this advice.

Now in her 60’s, Nina has a flat, a job & lives independently. She continues to process her trauma, it’s ongoing, but she has built a supportive online community around her. 

Nina made a decision to break the cycle of abuse & immersed herself in the company of her books.

Learning, learning & more learning.

Whilst Nina’s network of like minded people has grown strong & supportive, she finds herself chronically lonely with few close friends & no biological family contact.

A deep sense of a lack of closeness, connection & affection.

The price she has paid for inner peace.

For an audio version of this story, narrated by Carrie


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