I was born with my twin brother – we were 3 minutes apart, and I was the youngest.
My parents were expecting a healthy-sized baby but my mum slipped and fell down bus steps at 7 months pregnant and was rushed to hospital, she was told she was having twins, and went straight into labour. The consultant said it was a miracle I was okay, considering he tried to turn the baby a few days before, as he said the baby was breach, when it was actually my legs and my brother’s head.
To be a traditional Cornish family, means that girls generally don’t have a purpose unless (in my opinion) that they are born first in the family. My grandmother on my mum’s side felt all girls should be drowned at birth, and on my dad’s side very clearly had her favorites – therefore I was unloved by both grandmothers in favour of my brother and cousins throughout my childhood.
My parents had an option to swap me at the hospital. They knew a lady that had just given birth to her fourth son. She was desperate for a little girl and therefore asked to swap babies. Obviously, it didn’t happen but my dad made it very clear to me early on that he only chose my brother’s name and my mum chose mine.
I had a lot of health issues growing up due to not getting the nutrients needed when inside my mum. I weighed 3 lbs and was in the special baby care unit for a while.
The memories of my dad were that he never interacted with me – ever. When we were young he was only interested in sport and drinking with his friends.
As we got older, my dad would take my brother to football and cricket practice and I was dragged around on the weekends to “go watch and support him.”
I worked out very quickly that the only way my dad would come to “watch me” was if I did the same sports as my brother. Therefore, when my brother asked to do swimming – I immediately wanted to do the same. That way at the swim meets, I prayed that he would cheer for me. The one time I heard him cheering, I was so happy – until I was disqualified and the shame I felt from the look I received, I have never forgotten.
My childhood was always a competition between my brother and myself. That is the way, I feel, my dad liked it. My dad’s motto is “second place is first loser.” My dad is very sports oriented and therefore me being the academic out of the two siblings, meant again more rejection – as he couldn’t and wouldn’t relate to me.
I lost count of the times I was told I wasn’t wanted and that he wished he swapped me at birth. I remember the only time I could get him to show me any affection was to ask stupid questions.
So I would say “Daddy do you love me?” and he would say “sometimes.” So then I would say “do you love me now?” and depending on his mood he would say “no” or “I love you this much”– his fingers would be an inch apart.
My mum was my rock growing up. Being the sick child, she was always there to nurse me and shower me with affection. She would always be the one to pick me up when I fell and encouraged me to do whatever I wanted.
When I started school I thrived. I loved school but was bullied terribly in my primary years. I had “puppy fat” as my mum called it and I began to starve myself to try and make myself pretty. I would put milk in the bottom of my cereal bowl every morning and pretend I had eaten before my mum got up. I would throw my lunch away when no one was around and wouldn’t be hungry or felt unwell at dinner time. After about 6 months I got caught throwing my lunch away at school and my Mum was called into the office.
After that I had someone watch me eat, so would try to string out eating one sandwich by taking millimetre sized bites at a time. The teachers would eventually get bored or side-tracked and I continued to throw what was left of my lunch away.
At 10 years old, I was an accomplished swimmer and gymnast. I also did horse riding for a friend and therefore my figure had changed. I was slender and therefore happy as the bullying stopped for a while.
My confidence grew and I began to get noticed. I was the tallest in my year and at 5 ft 4” towered above everyone. I was approached by a modelling agency. I did this for a few years, but in the end wasn’t reaching the height required to go further and I thank God for this now, as the modelling industry can be a seedy place and looking back, I don’t think would have been the best place for me.
I was then bullied for being too pretty during my modelling years. I remember my brother standing there watching me get kicked in the head and stomach whilst on the floor one day, because the bullies wanted to “rearrange my face”. There were four 16-year old’s. I was 10 at the time. Later on, I cried to my brother to help me but he replied I deserved all I got and walked off.
My dad told me to fight back next time, after he found out what had happened. If I was hit, I was to hit them back twice as hard. Coming from a family of boxers, he was used to sorting things out a certain way and I felt yet again that I had disappointed him.
My mum, like mothers do, charged to the main “bully’s” parent’s house to “sort things out once and for all,” but this only made things worse.
In primary school, my parents went away to Germany on holiday for a week and left me in the care of my grandmother. She took my brother and I to my aunt and uncle’s house, where we were told to get out of the house and play with my cousins. More rivalry between my cousins and brother towards me meant that arguments got heated quickly and they ran away from me. I was unsure of how to get back to my aunt and uncle’s house, and therefore started to wander around the estate. I ended up going the wrong way and got attacked and mauled by a German Sheppard dog as I walked too near its house. The dog took half of my “face off.” I collapsed in a heap and somehow my aunt found me and took me to hospital. Thankfully I didn’t need skin grafts but my Nan was a coward and never told my parents. I will never forget the horror on my mum’s face when she walked into the living room after returning from holiday. They tried to get the owners prosecuted but there was no proof that it was that specific dog that bit me. For years, I would pile the make-up on and to this day, I still notice the scars.
Secondary school saw my brother get bullied but unlike him, I would get involved. We had an awful relationship (primarily due to jealousy from my point of view).
My dad liked this and although I was never a bully, no one messed around with me. I had learnt to not show my true feelings and therefore always had this “stone faced image” that would stop my true feelings pouring out. To anyone looking in, I was just a “bitch” who was “up herself” but I was raised that to cry was to show weakness and my dad would “give me something to cry about” if I didn’t shut up.
I was also raised an atheist – I was banned from any Religious Education in school and I wasn’t allowed to do History, as my dad felt at some point religion would be covered in the syllabus.
I was told to get the “hallelujah people” to see sense. I remember befriending a girl in secondary school who was a Christian and I would spend a lot of time with her mum and sisters on the weekends. I got offered to go to their youth group one evening and although I thought it was rubbish, I still kept going each week.
In the end I convinced my friend that God was nothing more than a fantasy as the months went by. We remained friends for many years but lost contact in my early twenties due to various reasons.
When I was 15 years old, I began to notice boys. Prior to that – I was a complete tomboy, mainly due to having my twin brother and having the constant need to compete.
I started hanging out with people that went clubbing and drinking from my school. I felt a release that I could be anyone I wanted to be. I was tall and slim for my age – so adding make-up and a barely-there outfit, meant I was never ID’d.
I would tell my parents that I was having a sleepover at a friend’s house, but I just “forgot” to add the part that I would be going to a nightclub and getting paralytic in the small hours.
The first time I went, I had only been in the club for the space of ten minutes before my dad had apparently received four phone calls to say I had been spotted. The next day, my dad asked me how my night was. Instead of grounding me, he just said “as long as I know where you’re going, you can do what you want.” So I did. My mum hated the fact I was out drinking and clubbing at 15 years old but where I come from what dad says, goes.
I became obsessed with a guy that worked with my dad. They would go to the gym together and hang out at football. He was 10 years older than me and at the time, I felt good looking.
I fell, hook, line and sinker.
All of my friends at school fancied him, but he asked my dad if he could take me out one night. My dad thought he was a great guy and that’s what dad told my mum. Mum again tried to make me see sense but I had someone paying me attention and I liked it.
We began dating and I got rid of all my school friends as I thought they were now too immature for me. I would hang out with all of my new boyfriend’s friends and their partners.
I wanted to go to Veterinary School and had applied to get into college, but my boyfriend said that he would miss me too much and couldn’t bear the thought of not being together – so I quit the courses and got a job in Insurance at 16 years old.
Dad said it was my life and if that’s what I wanted then fine, but my mum pleaded for me to see sense – obviously, I knew best and therefore, told her to butt out.
My mum and I had a turbulent relationship for years. We would fight and argue all the time and in the end I was practically living with my boyfriend’s parents – so we decided to save to buy a house.
The day we moved in, I was proposed to. My dad and my Fiancé had already arranged an engagement party for that evening (knowing I would say yes) and I thought life was perfect.
A few weeks later the beatings began.
At first I was shocked and apologised – for I hadn’t realised that, whatever the thing I had said or done, had made him so angry.
Slowly over the next two years, I became his “slave.” I learnt the hard way – if I hadn’t cooked or cleaned to his particular liking, it was always my fault. I “made him do it” and actually, “no-one else would want me as I was pathetic and ugly.” I believed everything he said.
The beatings were regular and got worse, especially after he drank. He would never hit me on the face so favoured strangling me and beating my torso area, whether it was with his fists or his feet. I was always able to cover the areas of bruising and we lived in a big Victorian house so the walls were thick. My cries for help were nothing more than a muffle to neighbours, I later learned.
I distanced myself from my parents. My dad still thought my Fiancé was this amazing guy, and my mum always asked why I would go weeks, even months, without contact. But I got fed up with the lies I told her – so just didn’t bother seeing her in the end. It was obviously “my fault” anyway and I was scared that my dad would think of me as a failure. To anyone looking in, we were this perfect couple in a perfect relationship.
I was drinking more and more to try and numb the pain, and I wouldn’t eat as I was told I was disgusting. The sex was non-existent, as he couldn’t apparently bring himself to go near me with how vial I was – I assumed everything that happened was “normal”.
One night, he raped me. I remember collapsing at work the next day and being taken to the Doctor. Luckily my periods were always heavy and painful so no-one suspected anything.
After an investigative operation, they discovered my insides were messed up. It didn’t help that they found I also had polycystic ovaries, endometriosis and insulin resistance, I was told I was never going to have children.
His reaction was he would never have wanted them with me anyway, as I’d be a “shit mother,” but I as usual I covered my true feelings, and told people I didn’t want children as I was career-minded.
I remember one night, it was 3am, and he was drunk on the sofa. He was screaming and swearing at the TV, which was blaring out of the windows which were all open. I made the mistake of telling him to turn the TV down as I needed to sleep, as I had work the next morning.
I hadn’t noticed that he had got off the sofa before I felt the punch in my stomach. I then felt the life going out of me when he started squeezing my throat. It was the first time I raised my hands to him, but I punched him in the eye – although it wasn’t hard, it was enough to stop what he was trying to do. There was a slight pause, but enough time for me to run into the downstairs bathroom before he tried to smash the door down.
I slept there that night, curled up on the floor with towels as a blanket.
That was also the only time my neighbour heard me screaming for help. He later apologised to my parents for not calling the police.
That was three weeks before our wedding.
I tried to pack my stuff and leave him time and time again, but he came home before I got the courage to go. He begged for forgiveness and promised to never do it again. As usual, I believed him. This time it was going to be different as we were getting married, so new beginnings and all that.
I had made a promise to myself, that if dad asked whether I was sure I was doing the right thing on the way to the church, then I would tell him everything and we would just go past the church on my horse drawn carriage and he’d make everything better but that never happened, and he never did ask. I realised then how good I had become at lying to those I loved. I walked down the aisle, a shell of my former self.
We had a two-week honeymoon in Mexico. My husband spent the whole time getting drunk every night and the bar staff had to carry him back to our room. I would spend the days by the pool on my own, whilst he either slept the hangover off or was flirting with any woman that showed an interest.
One night, I was dancing with one of the girls who worked at the hotel; he took a disliking to this and decided to lock me out of the room. I slept outside the front door, too ashamed to ask for help from reception in fear of what would happen.
The beatings got worse when we returned and I felt life beginning to get out of control. Over the next few months everything became a blur.
My auntie and uncle were visiting my parents and demanded to see me, apparently, I was to have no more excuses and I was to get “my butt over to see them.” I spent the evening with them and I had forgotten how nice it was to laugh freely. I broke down at 10pm that night. Fortunately, my dad had gone to bed but I never gave the full story as I felt ashamed of who I was and what had happened.
My uncle broke the news to my dad in the morning.
My ex-husband had found out what was said and panicked. He destroyed my life in more ways than one over the next few months and turned 95% of people against me. Everyone believed that I was cheating on him and walked out after three months of marriage.
Within a few months, I had lost my house as everything was in his name, as I had been too young to go on the deeds when we bought the house. I lost my so-called friends, my job, as I was made redundant and most painfully, the majority of my family, as apparently, he was “too nice to hit me.”
I started drinking daily and was spiralling out of control. I hit rock bottom and one day my mum walked into my bedroom when I had a knife to my wrists, she started to cry and pleaded for me to think about what I was about to do. I had never seen my mum cry before and it broke me. I vowed never again to get to that point.
One day I received a text from one of my ex-husband’s friends. He basically said that he was there if I needed to talk, and believed what I had said had happened. I started texting the new guy and unfortunately, went straight into another relationship
My opinion of myself was disgusting at that time and I refused to look in a mirror. Therefore, once I had received a small amount of money from my divorce, I went and had breast implants done.
The day before my operation, my dad had a heart attack. I rushed to his bedside and the nurse blamed me for the stress I had caused my dad – as he was still working alongside my ex-husband and it became too much for him. My dad told me to go as he didn’t need me around, therefore I drove to London for the operation. Unfortunately, I had a bad reaction to anaesthetic and I found out that day that I am allergic to certain drugs. The Anaesthetist said, that I nearly died on the operating table as I had failed to be revived. I realised how lucky I had been. I never told my parents, due to what had just happened to my father, but the recovery was slow and painful after the op.
After I recovered, I dyed my hair and spend hundreds of pounds a month on beauty treatments – you name it, I had it. I created a new me.
My new boyfriend, I thought, treated me like a princess and although he was continuously losing his job, I made enough money to support us both with the new job I had secured.
I didn’t realise at the time that he was a “sexual predator,” and being my first relationship after my divorce, was horrendous – I was living on cloud 9 with him. Sexually, he would ask requests of me that I didn’t feel comfortable with, but again, being naive, thought this was the norm. Over the next 4 years I did things that I’m not proud of. I remember asking him one day why we couldn’t just have a normal relationship but he just said this is normal.
Stupidly I allowed him to take photos of me one day and I realised that he had put these photos all over couple’s websites. I found this out after becoming suspicious and decided to hack into his email account. I realised that he was leading four different virtual lives and my eyes were suddenly opened to what he was.
I obtained a restraining order after he became obsessive following our split. He broke into my parents’ house one night when I refused to speak to him – that’s when I realised, again, how stupid I had been.
My dad by this time had been medically retired. The heart attack had led to depression and he became suicidal. The dad I knew was no more and what was left was a bitter man, who seemed full of hatred. We became even more distant.
My last horrendous relationship was with a cage fighter. As you can imagine, this was turbulent to say the least, but he only managed to hit me once. At least I had learnt that this wasn’t something I wanted for myself.
Unfortunately, he had damaged my knee so much that I required reconstructive knee surgery and at that point, I was in a knee brace. I had taken up boxing and martial arts as a way to channel my aggression, but ended up falling stupidly for the owner of the centre. Luckily, I ended that relationship and finally took a step back to re-evaluate my life.
By the end of 2005, I was very successful with work and earning a good salary. I had my own apartment, a sports car on the drive, money in the bank and I had a good set of friends.
No-one was going to hurt me again, but I realised I was going around in circles with disastrous relationships. I was a 25-year-old divorcee, with 8 years of abuse behind me…so what now?
My knee had become worse and surgery was scheduled for November 2006. At the time it was March and I was being forced to leave the work I loved, due to not falling for my boss’s advances to sleep with him. It was a case of a woman working in a man’s world (in Cornwall anyway) and I wasn’t going to be sacked.
So I quit my job. The money dried up quickly, as I was unable to work until after the surgery and I ended up getting money from the Government. I sold my sports car and lived a very “humble existence” for a while, after moving back in with my Parents.
I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s – apparently, an incurable disease that causes extreme constriction of the blood vessels, leading to tissue hypoxia.
My case was severe and I was eventually classed as disabled. I had a blue badge for my car and some days couldn’t even get out of bed. My hands and feet looked that of an elderly woman on the worst days and my medication was upped to three times a day. My mum would even have to cut my food up for me and when an attack was occurring, I couldn’t walk.
In short, I was miserable.
One of my brother’s best friends had moved in with my Parents after his mum had moved to France and he wanted to stay in the UK. He invited me to go around to a mutual friend of ours one day to watch DVD’s, so that I could get out of the house. I had known this family from secondary school, as I had gone to school with their eldest son who had tragically died at 13 years old and so we had lost contact since then.
When I walked in, I was greeted by Dave and Wendy and their twin sons. I noticed immediately how happy they seemed and thought that was nice. I was intrigued by them, but unsure as to why. Also I noticed that in comparison to my dad’s standards, they had very little as to luxury furniture and belongings, and wondered why this was the case. After all, everyone wanted the latest gadgets on the market…right?
When I got home, I found that Dave and Wendy kept creeping into my mind, but just assumed it was because I hadn’t seen them for over 10 years at that stage.
The next day, they invited me over again. I went, and I realised that there were numerous Bibles and theology books on the shelves and references to God. Instead of running a mile, I started to ask questions and over the coming weeks kept going back. I had a thirst.
A few weeks later, they asked me if I would like to go to church one Sunday with them. The family attended a local Baptist Church and thought I should check it out. I declined, but regretted it when I got home later that day.
I unexpectedly woke up early that Sunday and found myself driving to their house before they had left for church. I was shaking during the car journey and too petrified to go into the actual church, so they left me in the foyer where I could hear and see what was going on from a distance.
There was no way I was going into that place as everyone would be able to see straight through me and I thought I would be judged. I did this for a few weeks and eventually I plucked up the courage to actually go into the worship area. I still refused to sing the songs for a long time, as that meant I wasn’t actually attending church in my head!
I would spend the time during the service with a new friend, who at the time was also a non-Christian and not only give reasons as to why we didn’t think ‘this’ was for us, but also put the world to rights.
I started meeting with the minister, Charles, during the week and slowly he began to answer the endless amount of questions I had. No matter how small and trivial they seemed to me, I was adamant that if he couldn’t answer everything, then this Christian malarkey was not for me. Sure enough all the questions were answered and I began to sing the songs without realising.
On my journey there was only one scripture that kept coming to me over and over again. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
One Sunday, I started to cry for no apparent reason. The tears flowed freely and the more I tried to stop, the more I sobbed. I saw that Charles was watching me and when the sermon had finished, he came and sat by me. The tears were still streaming down my face and he asked what was wrong.
All I replied was “I have no more questions and I don’t know what’s next.”
Charles smiled and replied; “give your life to the Lord – what do you have to lose?” I just looked at him confused, but arranged to see him a few days later. I felt exhausted and just wanted to go back home.
I gave my life to the Lord on 4th July 2006 and the first thing I did was phone Wendy. She cried with me down the phone. I then went back to my parents and wrote a letter to my dad, as I didn’t have the nerve to tell him in person.
Dad threw me out of the house once he had read the letter. He told me to get out until I saw sense and I stood in the driveway with nowhere to go. I wasn’t allowed back for three weeks – we didn’t speak during that time and my only communication was with my mum when my dad wasn’t around. I stayed with Dave and Wendy and they became my spiritual parents and still are.
When I was allowed back – I was quickly advised by my dad that this “Christian shit” was a taboo subject and never to be mentioned in his house.
I was baptised on 10th September 2006. My mum and brother attended, but my dad did not. I actually have respect for him doing this, as at least he was being true to who he was.
Being baptised, I naively imagined a perfect life thereafter, where the Holy Spirit would allow me to live in the modern-day society, without being persecuted or led down the wrong path. I had made too many mistakes in my life and this was my new beginning – Christ forgave my sins and I was born again.
The truth is being a Christian is hard. For the simple reason that your eyes are now opened and it makes you realise that we simply make mistakes because we are all human, but following Gods path for my life has been by far the best decision I have ever made.
During the harder times, (since becoming a Christian) Gods promises and my faith have always prevailed. I find strength in Him from drawing close.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
God never promises that life will be easy and we definitely are not immune from the pain and heartache of this world, but when we put our trust in Christ – even when things don’t make sense, we become “the light” for others to see God working through us.