How do you feel your confidence has changed over the past 10 years?

Why do you think this is?

For most of my life, I have struggled with confidence issues and low self-esteem.

Ironically, in August 2023, it will be the 10 year anniversary of a suicide attempt, so this feels a suitable time to reflect. I was 26 years old at the time.

The weeks and months that followed brought what I believed to be a renewed sense of confidence in my pursuit to recover.

I embarked on a new relationship; little did I know how vulnerable I was and this relationship would have a dangerous and profound impact on the next 10 years.

In the early stages, my self-love simply wasn’t there, which led me to be a prime candidate for the years that followed. These years included (and still do to this day) abuse of all kinds, the most profound being the emotional and psychological abuse, coupled with gaslighting.

Any form of perceived confidence or self-worth was slowly and meticulously removed over the years. My mental health difficulties relating to confidence, self-worth and low esteem were used against me for the entirety of the relationship and beyond.

In early 2020, I was a first time mother. Isolated from family and friends by my perpetrator, we entered lockdown when my son was 6 weeks old. The abuse intensified but a new resilience was brewing, despite my parenting being continuously criticised and undermined. For the sake of my son, I needed to build some confidence as he didn’t deserve to grow up in this unbalanced power dynamic.

Leaving the relationship 3 years ago took unimaginable courage; my son was 9 months old. In the days that followed, I was told to kill myself by my perpetrator, who had manipulated my mental health struggles for his own gain over the years. I had 2 choices; succumb or fight.

Despite what little energy I had left, I chose the latter.

I have and continue to stand up to my perpetrator; his weapons of choice being the use of the legal system and sadly our young son. Whilst the road to recovery continues, I look back over the last couple of years and can see the change in my identity; not all of it is good but for the first time in my life, I am practicing true self-care, self-love and have a sense of confidence that I didn’t know existed within me.

The events of the last 10 years were needed as they have shaped me into the person I am today.

The fall was needed before the rise.

Do you feel invisible in some aspects of your life? How does that show up?

Recovering from the abuse endured has changed who I am as a person and although I am actively seeking to rebuild my identity, most has gone.

Friends and family have come and gone during this time, which has ultimately triggered self-limiting beliefs instilled by my abuser causing me to feel invisible.

This presents in isolation from others and slowly, I am working on the setting of boundaries to regain control of what and who helps or hinders my safe environment.

Tell me about a woman who is older than you, inspires you and why? Describe how she makes you feel?

My nana is my inspiration. She is sadly no longer with us but I feel her presence every day. I firmly believe she has given me the courage and confidence to continue with life, in the face of adversity.

She too had been in a very similar situation, being subjected to abuse. Her focus was on the protection of her children and providing everything she could for them. Even now, I still learn of the pain she endured for years, together with the steps she took towards freedom.

There are many commonalities in our stories and knowing she came through the other side, gives me hope.

What worries you about ageing?

My worries centralise around the amount of “wasted” time spent on others that don’t accept me.

What excites you about ageing?

In a strange way (and although it may not be exciting), I am looking forward to moving forward and embracing life for how it should be and simply being happy.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

To love and accept who you are, regardless of what others think of you.

Thank you Rosie for answering my questions. Rosie is an alias.