I've never really considered myself to be brave or to have much of a story. It's only when we realize we need to heal ourselves that we look back on the past; everything we have gone through up until that point in our lives that has contributed to the way we feel right now that makes us see maybe we are brave.
I didn't really have a bad childhood or home life. My parents divorced when I was a baby, but they hated each other. My dad was an alcoholic, he loved me don't get me wrong but was never fully there. I remember my mum crying all the time because of the things he did to her and also when he used to turn up drunk to see me. He was violent to my mum and his following girlfriends. They used to argue in the street which I was so embarrassed over. His girlfriends were all lovely, really lovely. I would get attached and then they would split up. I remember having to go to mediation to see my dad supervised which he hated and I made me feel awkward.
My mum and I always had a good relationship, our family was never close despite my mum being 1 of 9.
I was always a bit of a loner at school, I felt left out of groups, as they talked about me behind my back and laughed at me. I'm not even sure why to this day. I always felt I was the odd one out.
When I reached the age of 12, it all went a bit wrong. I wanted to be out with my friends, I started smoking and drinking and we argued a lot. By the age of 14 I was taking drugs, my mum let me and knew about it, but she was kind of like Jekyll and Hyde; one minute she wanted to be friendly and let me do what I wanted and the next she was going nuts.
I was bullied in high school, again left out and talked about, people calling me fat, cross eyed, and saying I was a loser. I hated school so much, I just stopped going, I failed my GCSEs.
When I was 15 my mum kicked me out of our home. I didn't have anywhere to go, but managed to crash on someone's floor for a few months until mum let me go back home. Still using drugs and was a complete party animal, it didn't last long.
I wasn't the daughter my mum wanted, or wasn't doing what she wanted me to do. I was thrown out again.
I partied for a good few years, I had no respect for myself and let blokes use me, looking back now I know why I did it, because for once I felt wanted.
I moved away from my home town when I was 18. It was supposed to be for the summer but I loved it so much I stayed. I met my ex partner out one night when I'd just turned 19. We had an instant connection. We ended up dating and the first 6 months were like a dream, we got engaged. I didn't notice any of the warning signs I would notice now, things I thought were cool back then I would run away from now!
His personality started changing, but I was already hooked! Young and way too eager to give my love away, I was head over heels in my first proper relationship.
I fell pregnant, total surprise but we were happy. Unfortunately I lost the baby, the pain was like no other, I couldn't bare it. I felt lost and like it was all my fault. How could this happen, I couldn't even look after my baby. I felt more alone than ever. I struggled with it for a long time. That pain NEVER goes away.
We moved back to my hometown (I didn't want to but he had to leave his) I fell pregnant again shortly after.
Our relationship was toxic and I started seeing more and more of his issues and anger. He made me feel worthless and so insecure. Still, I couldn't let go. We were together for 13 years and we had two children in that time. Apart from my children I can tell you it was the most upsetting, depressive thirteen years of my life. He stripped me of the person I was. I had the hardest and loneliest times of my life in that relationship (I could probably write a novel on everything that happened) but I went through immense mental and emotional abuse and occasional physical. There were several times I just wanted to die. If it wasn't for my children I wouldn't be here. I used to pray for God to help me get away, for something to happen to get me out of that situation - sounds crazy I know, why didn't I just walk away?! I felt responsible for him. We had separated a few times and I had refused to let go, he made me feel and think that everything was my fault, that all the problems were because of me, and that I couldn't cope without him. Who would want to be with me but him? I was useless at everything, I was always wrong and I was so hard to live with and difficult to love.
That was my thinking until I started opening up spiritually, I started to realize that his behavior wasn't right and actually I deserved so much more. I started to find my strength and see him for what he really was. Everything that I did for him and that he put me through turned out to be a pretty awesome learning experience!! I was so unhappy and had been for so long, I just didn't want it anymore. In 2014 I finally found the strength to say the words... "I don't want to be with you anymore" He was gutted and I did still feel the pull. Once he moved out I felt such relief, but because he was so sad I stupidly went back. I knew it was the wrong thing and went against my gut. Fast forward another 7 months and I felt exactly the same - we ended up splitting up again - for good. Again I felt relief. I always knew it was the right thing. He was pretty awful to me for 8 months, but I didn't care anymore and let it roll off my back. I didn't fight, I didn't argue, I chose to be polite for the sake of our children. I was putting all my effort into being the best mum I could be for them and getting myself back on track. He was nothing to me.
I lost 4 stone and felt great, I was so happy all the time.
Forward to now, 2 years since the separation - I've had a few set backs, but I've actually done ok. I get on with my ex, but he's never going to change and although he probably thinks he's the best dad in the world he's actually no where near, so I'm being mum and dad to my babies.
I moved house, all by myself, I got a job somewhere I love. I took myself and the kids on our first holiday together. I started a qualification - passed and started another one. I've continued fighting for me. I'm going through my transition. I'm finding myself. I'm healing myself. Im letting go of guilt and I'm learning to forgive.
I gained a lot of confidence, to have lost it all again. I'm going through a period of unknown. I think everything's caught up with me because I never really dealt with any of it even from when I was younger, so I'm feeling like I'm not good enough again. I feel scared and my self confidence is zero! BUT I'm still moving forward. I'm still pushing through. I won't allow myself to be held back anymore. I'm doing the best I can for myself and for my children. I'm teaching them love, peace and strength.
I feel like a caterpillar, that's gone back into its cocoon, and soon I will transform into the most magnificent butterfly!
I'm trusting in my journey. I'm learning to be comfortable being me, because actually, I think I'm alright! (I just need to get my mind to believe that!)
I am Jo.
I am strong, I am a fighter, I am me and I love and accept myself.
I am a Brave Babe.