A short piece I wrote for Harper Collins.
The following short story is based on a dream I had.
I hope you enjoy it.
It was a day like any other, or so it seemed to some. I don’t believe any two days are alike. There is always something new to be discovered if you look hard enough. A young flower may have found the strength to blossom on the morning after a night of heavy rain, whilst another may have succumbed to it and been destroyed.
My point is, that there is always something different. Maybe something has been added, or maybe something has been taken away, but whatever the difference, each day that passes is undeniably different to the one that went before it. Life does not stand still.
I found this day to be a strange one. I was a stranger, in a strange town, in a strange country, amongst a strange people. I wondered if I was seen as strange here. Perhaps strange is a word that best describes our own feelings about something new, rather than being a true account of whatever it is we believe we are describing. A word we associate with fear that we use to describe something that we are afraid of.
On the morning after my first night in this new country I woke at first light and set off to explore it. Many travellers before me have come to explore this country and it is said that many of them are never seen again. It is a magical country, I am told, and contains within its very essence, the very first sparks of love and peace that have existed long before the dawn of time. Here, I am told, you can find happiness and freedom if your heart is pure and your intentions good.
I hadn’t been travelling for long when I came across a tower made of stone. It reminded me of the towers I had discovered in the fairy tales I had read to myself as a child. This one was different though. It climbed high into the sky and had no visible entrance or way of access to the room I could see at the top of it. I called out hoping for assistance but was disappointed when none was offered. The tower was empty and I was alone.
As we are in an age of technology, I decided to take out my phone and call a friend for advice. But I was left disappointed again, for although this time I was given a response, it was not one I wanted to hear. My friend was adamant that I should stay away from the tower at all costs. The tower was a magic one and there was no one alive who could claim to have climbed it.
It was apparently, an impossible task to reach the room at the top of the tower and that it was precisely at this point, at the foot of the tower where I was stood, where the travellers before me had disappeared. I thanked my friend for their advice but I would not be deterred. I was sure of the pureness of my heart and I knew that my intentions were good. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to know peace and freedom.
I took another step towards the tower and decided that I would try to feel for a secret or hidden door. I placed both hands on the tower and in a flash I was transported to the room at the top it. The room had a stone floor, a stone ceiling and stone walls. There was no doorway but it did have a window.
I took a closer look around and noticed that from floor to ceiling there were rows upon rows of ancient writings etched onto the walls. There were many writings that had been written in languages I could recognise but not understand, and there were many that had been written in what I knew must be, as yet undiscovered languages. The writings that were written in my native language talked of peace and love.
I was astounded and the experience was one of enlightenment. I felt those words and their meanings flow through me and merge with my soul. It was almost as if I had ceased to exist and had been reborn. I was now the writing on the wall. But all too soon the reality of my situation descended upon me and my feelings of enlightenment gave way to feelings of fear. There was no doorway in this room, only a window. How was I going to get out?
I placed my hands on the wall as I had done outside of the tower but nothing happened. I panicked and again rang my friend for advice. My friend was sorry for my predicament but did not believe that anyone could help me now that I was actually inside the tower. For it was a magic tower after all and there was no one alive to explain its mysteries. I promptly said my goodbyes and hurled my phone out of the window. I was angry and frustrated.
I paced around the room for hours, reading and re-reading the ancient writings. When I could read no more I went and sat in the middle of the room. I looked towards the window and felt my anger and frustration return. What good was a magic tower full of ancient wisdom if the people of the land could not find and access it? I had managed to enter it and absorb its teachings, but what use was I if I could not escape from the tower?
Immediately after this chain of thought my eyes were drawn to a carving of a rain cloud as the rain fell from it. I could not remember viewing this particular carving and had no idea how I had missed it, but I knew immediately what I had to do now in order to escape from the tower. I had to wait for the rain.
I now understood the magic of the tower and its message to me was clear. I had become exactly like the tower. Over the years, I realised that I had been building my own magic tower in order to protect myself. As the days passed the walls grew higher and higher until one day the only room I had left to be myself in, was the room inside of my head.
In an attempt to protect myself from all that was unfamiliar to me I had walled myself in and separated myself from people and even my own emotions, and all that was visible to anyone looking in my direction was the tower that I had built. So great was this tower that there was no one alive who could climb it. Like the magical tower, I was full of wisdom, but what use was that if I did not share it. I was full of love, but what did that matter if I could not give or receive it?
As I contemplated this it began to rain and instead of trying to shelter from it I went to the window and embraced it. I felt it wash away all that was unnecessary and useless to me now. I closed my eyes in gratitude and when I opened them I found myself back at the foot of the tower where it had all began. And there I stood in the rain, visible, happy and at peace, refreshed and ready to start my life anew; ready to share my wisdom.
A weary traveller was sent an angel and a demon to accompany him on his journey towards a destination that had been marked out on a map and given to him by God. Along the way the angel revealed many blessings whilst the demon revealed only curses.
The traveller chose to remain silent during the journey. He keenly observed his traveling companions and listened intently as they spoke, fascinated by their different interpretations of the path they were travelling along. To him, the path had been an ordinary one until the arrival of the angel and the demon.
The traveller noticed that when the angel spoke he felt renewed, as though he had only just begun his journey. He felt connected to the world around him and was stunned by its beauty. When the demon spoke he felt deflated and alone, and everything around him seemed to wither and lose its sparkle.
Upon arrival, the angel took a step forward and named the destination that had been marked out on the map, heaven. The demon stepped forward to call it hell. Then the traveller stepped forward and smiled as he realised what the purpose of his travelling companions had been.
As the traveller thought about the journey he had just completed he fell to his knees in gratitude, ignoring the demon and counting his blessings like the angel, and thanking God for both of his travelling companions who ensured that he reached his destination.
I believe that heaven and hell are states of mind.
It is easy to switch back and forth between these states, especially after enduring abuse, and this can be exhausting for both adults and children alike.
Make sure that you surround yourself with angels.
As children we have no control over this but as adults we most definitely do.
Trust your instincts. A persons energy will tell you all you need to know. Pay attention to how the people around you make you feel. It is important.
You are important.
And let’s not forget to count our blessings!
I was recently asked the question, “Do you believe in God?”As today is Easter Sunday I will attempt to answer it.
I do believe in God, however for me, God is not a “being” or something that is associated with any kind of organised religion.
I wrote the note below six years ago when I was still in a dark place. I hope it goes some way to explaining exactly what it is that I think of when I think of the word, God.
My tears will not be in vain.
My anguish will not be without reward.
My suffering will lead me to peace and I shall know joy in heaven.
For heaven is on earth, and in death, with these words, I will be immortalised forever more as a messenger of the kingdom of God.
For maybe God is a petal from a flower, or a simple blade of grass.
Wishing you a wonderful Easter,
In early 2014 I met a woman who changed my life forever. Those of you who have read my book will know this woman as Pam. I dedicate this post to her.
On 26 June 2014 I had a nightmare…
I dreamt that I was on my push bike, riding through a pitch dark tunnel. I knew that the tunnel was a dangerous place to be, but I also knew that I had to make my way through it, the alternative was too scary to contemplate.
As I made my way through the tunnel, peddling as fast and as hard as I could, I was aware of unknown men grabbing at me and hurting me. I knew that they would rape me and worse if I let them pull me from my bike. They grabbed at the back of my trousers and burnt my back with something hot but I managed to get away from them.
I emerged from the tunnel and found myself at the beginning of a path that I could see led onto many other paths, in a town I did not know. Crowds had gathered to observe me as I exited the tunnel and I could hear them talking amongst themselves, commenting on the scars and bruises that were visible on my body.
I was not affected by these comments, I was concerned only with finding my way through the maze that lay before me. I was determined to do it, and with the help from a stranger who stepped forward from the, not unfriendly crowd, I did.
I made my way through the town and found myself standing in a doorway looking into a large room that was full of Buddhist Monks. Each monk was surrounded by a mosquito net that protected the space around them. They each had a bed upon which they were sat and I could see that they were meditating.
I watched them meditating and noticed that scattered around them, within their protective shelters, were hundreds of chrysalis. Suddenly, they began to split and beautiful butterfly’s climbed out to stretch out their wings.I stepped through the doorway to get a closer look.
I realised that it was the monks meditative power that had coaxed the butterfly’s out of hiding. I then noticed an empty bed in the corner of the room, covered in unhatched chrysalis. I knew that the bed was meant for me and that it was time for me to claim my own space and awaken all that was sleeping within me.
Looking back through my journal, I am reminded of a quote by the chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi…
…Pam, I want you to know that because of your help, I now feel like Chuang Tzu.
Thank you for helping me spread my wings and fly.
Today I received a lovely email from a lady in Australia who has read my book. Her message moved me to tears and I am so grateful that she decided to reach out and let me know what reading my story has done for her. I was having a difficult day myself yesterday after having had a nightmare, and the email I received today lifted me up and reminded me that I am not alone.
The note I am going to share with you is for all of us fighters out there, because love is the answer…and, “we got this!”
A fighter is so much more than those moments in the ring. She is each and every moment of preparation, both physically and mentally, in body and in spirit.
It is in the moments of preparation where the true battle begins and the character of the fighter determined. Not in her moments of glory and enlightenment but in her moments of sadness, sacrifice and doubt.
That is where the heart of the fighter lives and breathes. That is why she fights and that is where love can conquer.
It’s finally publication day and I have been able to see my book on the shelves for the very first time. As I stood with jelly like legs in WHSmith looking at my book, I could not help but think of myself as a 13 year old girl sat on the roof top of Denver House. Usually the memory is a sad one but today I was able to smile.
I pictured myself sitting next to my 13 year old self and handing her a copy of the book.
“Here you go, Zoe. We did it. We made our voice heard. Now lets get off this roof because we have a boxing match to train for…”
By this time tomorrow my book will be on the shelves in book shops waiting to be purchased. It has not been an easy process getting to this point but ultimately it has been a rewarding one. I have mixed emotions regarding the publication. I would not have chosen to live through any of the horrific abuse I have endured, but I am extremely happy that I have found the strength and the courage to do something positive with it.
My hope is that my story reaches other survivors out there who may need a little reminder that they are not alone. To you I want to say don’t ever give up hope. Incredible things can happen when we have faith and dare to believe in love.
I would like to thank Jane Smith and the team at Harper Collins for all of their hard work. Without them I wouldn’t be writing this today. I am forever grateful for this opportunity. It has been a life changing experience for me.
I would also like to thank the readers who have contacted me. I enjoy reading your comments and I appreciate the time you have taken to get in touch. I hope you continue to be inspired by my story.
This morning I took the dog for a walk through our local park. It was a beautiful morning and I could not help but notice how vibrant everything looked. Our local park is full of trees and as we strolled amongst them I felt like I could physically sense the life force flowing from them, even though many of them are not yet in leaf. Which got me thinking…
We have just as much right to life as the trees and the flowers, and like them, we have just as much right to stand tall and own our own personal space. Personal growth is a process, and like a tree that grows in spurts, it would be foolish of me to think that I could rush this process.
You can not rush personal growth any more than you could order a tree to leaf out and bloom.
With spring just around the corner I wish you all the best with your own personal growth and anything that is new in your life or preparing to blossom.
Like a firework love wants you to fly, it wants you to soar. Filling the sky with your light in all of your glory for all the world to see.
Love does not wish for you to be grounded. Out of sight. Contained.
Love is the spark that will light your fuse.