Hi ladies,

Thank you for your replies.

I do try my best to focus on the future and to remind myself of my strengths and of all the positive things in life but sometimes I find it very hard so have to keep reinforcing it. My lovely man is very understanding and I have told him almost everything that has happened to me.

When I was going through all the trauma, I made time to look at nature and enjoy the feelings of the weather on my skin, the way it sounds etc to try to teach myself that not everything is this world is bad or dangerous, and also so that I had something to focus on other than the negative stuff all the time.

How did I learn to trust again? I’m not really sure. Basically, I remember that although I felt utterly retched and distraught, I had this occasional overwhelming feeling of hope inside me that I would meet someone who was like me and understood me; someone who would accept me for everything that I am, see my strengths and encourage me to pursue my interest and hobbies – perhaps even join in with them. I am very stubborn and simply refused to allow the horrible things that have been done to me stop me from living my life. These are things that have happened to me or been done to me rather than things that I have done. This was a very important thing to remind myself of very often.

I pushed myself to do nice things, to be sociable and to partake in activities that related to my interests. By doing this in a safe way, I met lots of new people and became less fearful of people in general and started to make new friends (this was hard as I was convinced that they would turn nasty or just start to ignore me and I questioned whether they were really friends or just using me for their convenience – time was what it needed for me to trust these people). It was when I was in a good place in life, doing my own thing and happy doing it, that I met a truly kind and loving man. He treated me so kindly, gently and patiently. I’d tell him little bits/hints about what I’d been through and his responses showed me that he understood me in a way that only another survivor could. So, as time passed, we shared our stories with each other and helped each other to heal and move on in life. I cannot describe how we feel about each other, but I know that everything I feel for him is reflected back to me from him. It’s the most peaceful feeling I’ve ever had. I thought that it would take me many years to find someone nice but it was less than a year after everything came to a head in my life when I met him. It was a huge surprise. If it can happen to me then it can happen to anyone. But I feel that it won’t happen for real until we are all able to have complete respect and love for ourselves – if we don’t have this then how can we expect anyone else to respect or love us in the true sense? And how will we keep ourselves safe from those who don’t?

The physical aspect of the relationship progressed at its own pace, as and when we felt comfortable with things. We spoke a lot about how we were feeling, for instance, about things that had been done in the past and the resulting fears – because we communicated so well, we could work around such issues and overcome them together. It was hard at time to share details of the things that had happened to me and to hear of what had happened to him, but neither of us pressured the other to share anything and there were some things that took a long time to be spoken. Neither of us has ever judged the other and questions have been sensitive and we have allowed each other to answer in our own time and in our own way – or not at all.

I am incredibly lucky to have my lovely man, but I was happy before I met him too. I don’t want to go back to a time when I didn’t have him, but it is important to be happy by yourself and for yourself, to maintain and build friendships and to live your life – to love and respect yourself. Once you have this, you can be content and then you are in a position to know and decide what/who is a good addition to your life. It takes time and patience to get to this point – I used to (still do) think of myself as a child whom I care for – I put her needs first when I am feeling bad about life and gradually she becomes me, rather than a feature of me. I can switch back to this when I need to which is a hugely helpful thing for me to be able to do. Sometimes I talk to her to reassure her that I will take care of her, remind her of how kind and strong she is, and how beautiful the world is.

I hope that helps.

I really good book to read is Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman. Lovely lady, lovely approach and a very kind and reassuringly written book.

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