Publication day

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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…”

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On the eve of publication…

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.

Love,

Zoe

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Personal growth

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.

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Love

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.

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Hunger

On the eve of Mother’s Day I would like to share with you a note I wrote with my own mother in mind.

 

From the moment I was cut from my mother I experienced hunger and thirst. From thatpexels-photo-66346.jpeg point on I have been driven each and every day towards satisfying these cravings.

Cravings for which I am eternally grateful for they serve to remind me of my spiritual appetite. I know that the food and water I consume will not satisfy me for long just as the truths I receive about myself and life will not.

I am in constant search of my next meal, constantly searching for my truth. Such is the road of enlightenment, gently leading me back to myself, my mother, the earth.

 

Connection

Yesterday I had my first trauma focussed counselling session. It went well. It wasn’t easy but by the end of it I left feeling confident that my current struggles may well improve over time.

Last night I woke up several times after having had a number of nightmares.

Today I am tired. I am feeling a deep sense of sadness and loss so I have decided to take today at my own pace. I know that I am right where I need to be in order to heal. I know that allowing yourself the time and space to experience your emotions is a huge part of the healing process.

I would like to share with you the details of the last nightmare I had. I believe it contained an important message for me about connection. I hope that it will be of use to you whenever you are faced with any kind of challenges that require courage, faith and perhaps, a little help from another.

I had run away and found a new place to live after a long night of being trafficked. The house itself was empty in the sense that it was no longer occupied but inside it was full of what I assumed must be the previous owners belongings. There were black bags full of rubbish, pieces of broken furniture and other unrecognisable items strewn all over the floor.

When I looked out of the front window the street was unfamiliar to me. When I looked out of the window at the back of the house I was faced with my parent’s back garden. I was too tired to try and figure out what this meant. I needed to lie down and rest.

On the verge of collapse I picked my way through the rubbish and found a bed to rest in. As I was closing my eyes a tiger appeared and settled down at the foot of the bed. I knew it was there to protect me and I felt a little safer as I shut my eyes for a second time.

Suddenly, I could hear shouting and banging outside the front door. The men who had raped me the night before had found me. They had come back to take me away again. I could hear them trying to break down the door. I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I sent the tiger out to attack them but they deflected its attack and knocked it unconscious.

I was trapped and was almost ready to give up when suddenly I felt someone tugging my hand. It was a little girl. I couldn’t let her be seen by these men so with a strength I didn’t know I had left I got myself out of bed and out of the house, making sure I closed the door behind me. It hurt to leave the little girl in the house alone but it was the only way I could keep her safe.

I faced the angry men as they advanced on me. I was shaking with fear. I had no idea how I could escape from them. I couldn’t go through another rape. That is when I noticed a fast flowing river alongside us. The water was dark and was more like tar than water but I knew instantly that it was my only hope of getting away.

I could not let those men get to me or to the little girl so I threw myself into the river, letting it carry me away. The men gave chase which lead them away from the house but they could not keep up with the river.

Then the tar like water began to pull me under. I started trying to grasp for the river bank but I couldn’t keep hold of anything for very long. Then a hand appeared through the reeds on the river bank. It reached out for me and I knew instinctively that I had to take it if I didn’t want to drown but I was scared. I told myself that I had to have faith and trust that the person offering their hand wanted to help me.

I reached out and the hand grasped mine firmly and began to pull me out of the river. When I was halfway out I closed my eyes. When I opened them again I found myself in a room with three other women. These women were dressed in fine silks and wore jewels and headdresses. They gave the impression of being extremely wise and magical. I felt safe in their presence.

The leader of the trio stepped forward and presented me with a red and gold fountain pen. She said that I was being awarded this special gift because I had proved myself to be a warrior of the highest order. The women had seen everything that had happened and told me that my actions had saved the little girl from untold pain and suffering. They had seen that I had risked my own life to save her innocence and for that I could now go home in peace. I need not be afraid anymore. If I returned to the house the tiger would be waiting for me and would now be my companion for I no longer needed a protector. My fight was over and I was safe.

One of the things I will be working on during therapy is my fear of people and relationships. When I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder the psychiatrist suggested that if the world had been the cause of my problems then why not let the world mend them.

I went home and thought about this as it didn’t sit well with me and then I realised that this was because it was not the world that had caused my problems but the people in it. Then I rephrased his suggestion.

If people have been the cause of your problems then why not let people mend them.

The thought of doing this still scares me but I am getting better at reaching out when I need to and because of this I have met some incredible people who have completely changed my life.

If you ever need help don’t be afraid to ask for it. There are some good people in this world and good things can happen when we connect…trust me!

 

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Pain and beauty

This week I had a very bad nightmare about being sexually abused. It was so bad that it made me physically sick. It is hard to get yourself ready to face the day ahead after a nightmare like that. I felt like I had been sexually abused all over again.

For me, some days are easier to get through than others after a bad night but on this particular day I felt like I was just going through the motions. I felt lost, lonely and disconnected from everything and everyone. My pain would not subside and it demanded all of my attention. Pain is great at doing that!

No matter how hard I tried to focus on the present moment my thoughts kept drifting back to the nightmare I’d had, which then triggered other memories of past abuse that left me reeling. By the end of the day I was physically and mentally exhausted.

From experience I knew that if I wanted this pain to pass there was nothing left for me to do but accept the fact that I was hurting and actually let myself hurt. I was reluctant to do this because I knew it would be unpleasant and uncomfortable, and let’s face it, who wants to feel like that? This knowledge made me angry.

From experience I know that it is sometimes easier to sit with the anger that so often accompanies pain. Feeling angry can dull the sense of pain you are feeling. Sometimes feeling angry can give you a sense of control when in reality, we often have no control over the things that have caused us pain.

From experience I know that anger can prevent you from accepting what has been which in turn prevents you from accepting what is and being able to move forward with your life. When you begin to release your anger and start to feel the pain behind it you can easily become overwhelmed. It is a scary process. I would like to share with you some thoughts I have when I am dealing with my own pain in relation to being abused.

When I was being sexually abused I was not safe. I lived in a constant state of fear and anxiety. Survival was my greatest concern. So great was this concern that it was virtually impossible for me to envision a future for myself. I couldn’t imagine a world beyond the one I was accustomed to and I didn’t expect to survive past the age of 16. My world was tiny.

Today, at the age of 30 I am finally safe and I am no longer subject to abuse. When I am having a difficult day and am troubled by memories of abuse I remind myself of some of the things I know now that I was unaware of back then. A lot of these things are to do with nature and the planet we live on.

When I am in pain because of unwanted memories of past abuse I find it incredible to think that as I was being abused and living through the loneliest times of my life, thousands of miles away from Denver House there were families of wild African elephants travelling together and very probably giving and receiving more love in their family unit than I had ever experienced in my own.

There were exotic looking flowers and plants bursting with colour and life that I had no idea existed. There were amazing foods that I had yet to taste. The list goes on…

I take great comfort from these thoughts because they have taught me that the world is so much bigger than my own personal pain and suffering. I believe that there is so much more beauty than pain in the world when you are ready and willing to see it. I know that I won’t ever be able to erase from my heart the pain I’ve known but I am grateful that I have been able to find the beauty in it.

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African elephant family
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Lady’s slipper orchid
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Roasted purple potato