Free, that’s probably the feeling I’m most grateful for when it comes down to it.
I can come and go as I please, I’ve built a career, 2 businesses, and 2 podcasts under my name that I couldn’t be prouder of. I regularly look at myself in the mirror and smile, and I have people that love me without question.
My life didn’t always look like that though. I was born to a seemingly wonderful couple in South London. The 4th of 5 children martially. My father was a serial adulterer, and he had a tendency to make children as a result of it, one of which was born 2 months and 2 weeks after me, to my mother’s best friend and next-door neighbour. Seriously? Yes, you couldn’t make this stuff up.
As you can imagine there was a lot of ill will in the household after that. We had to move (obviously) so my older brother and sisters got torn away from their friends; and my dad let’s just say – I don’t think he dealt with it all very well. My mum stayed with him.
My earliest memory is of him with a pained expression when I asked him to give me a hug as he was leaving for work. I was 7 and I could tell he really didn’t want to. It was an expression I saw often. Anguish, annoyance, straight up rage – listen it wasn’t my fault I looked so much like him.
As time went by he became more and more psychological. If you look up emotional abuse then he knows all about it. From the whispered ‘facts of life’ like you’re not aloud more than 2 friends because any more than that and they don’t really like you. To loud attempts to break my smile by shouting “You’re Ugly, You’re Stupid, You’re worthless and won’t amount to anything. Do you know how annoying your voice is!”
There were several children in the house but this special treatment was reserved for me, and before you ask, siblings who believe you’re the reason why everyone is angry will join in.
When I was younger I disappeared into books and school. When I was in my teens it was TV and alcohol. It’s only when I left them for good (wrote a letter and put my keys to their house in it) at 21 did I really start the work on myself. I had dabbled in meditation before and had been doing Yoga since 16 because it helped with the stress induced back spasms. But I still didn’t have hopes of feeling better until after I left. I played The Secret on repeat, I read the books. I did the work, it took a long time and it was hard because I did it on my own.
3 years after I left them I realised I had gotten to a wall that I couldn’t get past and I had the awareness enough to know that if I didn’t deal with it, if I didn’t get help, it would have taken me down. I got 12 weeks’ worth of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) it was embarrassing to request the time off work every week, my Director didn’t truly believe me but he let me go anyway. It was one of the best decisions I’d ever made in my life. It was the first time I could speak to someone who could look at things objectively, tell me why I created these barriers with people and helped me tear them down one by one. She helped me make new beliefs about myself and shine a light on the false ones I grew up with. I let her help me.
After that my spiritual study continued, I took that freedom and ran with it. I learned and I practiced and I cried. I did it all until I knew who I was. I’m doing it all so that I can keep finding out.
I’m here now, a Project Manager, Mindful Living Coach, and the friend who can make you laugh with just a look. I spend my time helping people to love themselves more, I do that in both of my roles actually, and the only reason why I can is because I didn’t. I didn’t love me, I didn’t respect me, I didn’t value me. I didn’t because I wasn’t taught how, I didn’t because I was taught resentment, bitterness, judgement, mistrust, and regret. I thought, truly thought and believed that I was ugly, stupid, worthless, that my friends only like me because I did things for them.
None of it is true – and if you’re reading it and it sounds like the rubbish the echo is telling you inside your skull then say it aloud. NONE. OF. IT. IS. TRUE. You create your own truth.
Hurt people hurt people and that’s what they were. Can you only imagine if my father when he felt the self-hatred by looking at me because I am a literal reminder of a shameful time in his life, what would have happened if he had spoken to a therapist instead of taking it out on me? Can you imagine if my mother who was complicit by inaction loved herself enough to leave a man who didn’t deserve her?
Where would you be if you started your healing journey earlier on, would you have less regrets, would you still be speaking to certain people?
Free is where I am, in the wilderness for many years seemingly alone. But I have learned that other people are here too, they’re healing. We are healing together - and just like the pressure of the world can make diamonds, the thing we hear the most from people is You Wouldn’t Know. Not because we’re hiding anything, it’s just because we’re free.
For more information about Charlene please click here.