Who has it?
I certainly don’t.
I haven’t had it since I was about 10 years old. Yes it has improved as I have got older, but it’s yet another thing my lovely, considerate anxiety has a hold of.
So why do I have self-confidence issues?
Well, I started changing physically at the tender age of 10 and had no idea what was happening to me, to the point I thought something was horribly wrong.
Eventually I opened up to my Mum who reassured me this was quite normal and this would be happening every month until the next change happened.
However I didn’t want anyone to know it was my secret and at 10 it wasn’t exactly something you talked about on the school playground.
Suddenly hormones and odd emotions were hitting me and my appearance and the body I had known quite happily for 10 years was changing.
I hated it. I didn’t want these changes.
I was already tall for my age with huge, clown feet. Why on earth did I need more to add to the mix?
I couldn’t do anything to stop it, so I decided to hide it all. I would wear makeup to cover up spots and would wear the biggest baggiest clothes I could find as not to show my body off.
As a child, our clothes were connected to our age and this was me probably until about the age of 14 (I personally thought a size 14 was connected to your age).
Wearing stuff that was miles too big for me, just to hide my changing body. I hadn’t a clue.
I had eyebrows the size of caterpillars, a fringe that was so thick it needed garden shears to tame it, and a no self-confidence at all.
I would wear my hair up all the time as I didn’t know what to do with it when it was loose, and wear make-up so thick that sometimes I looked like I had bathed in orange Tango.
I so wanted to be like the other girls who seemed so confident, pretty and had it together.
They knew what they were doing, whereas I felt like the stubborn weed amongst the beautiful flowers.
None of the boys were interested in me, and to be honest I don’t blame them. I was the “intermediary”, the one who was friends with the pretty girls and could be the go-between.
However, things started to change when I was about 15 or 16 as this is when more of my peers started to change and develop too. I started to feel more comfortable and I started to care more about what I did and how I looked.
The eyebrows still hadn’t been addressed by then though.
Through 16 to 18 I actually started to wear make-up that suited me rather than continuing my “Oompa-Loompa” look.
I started working for a clothes company that actually let me learn about fashion and wear clothes that flattered my shape.
I got my eyebrows waxed for the first time, which I still do 14 years on, and dyed my hair. I also started getting more male attention, which I hadn’t a clue what to do with.
I was once approached at a bar by a man who asked if he could buy me a drink. The drink arrived, I took it and said “Thanks”, then went back to join my friends.
However in those 8 years I had grown up, I had learned from mistakes and I was suddenly caring about how I looked, smelled and dressed. It was a gradual process, but the small steps I made helped to where I am today.
So how I look today is how look.
I admire the people who love their bodies, whatever their shape or size, and just get up and go without worrying about what they look like. I think deep down whoever we are, we still all care how we look, smell and are perceived by others on the outside.
Were just all on different levels of self-confidence?
So my self-confidence issue 22 years on:
People will read this and say “Don’t be silly”, because I have said it to so many other people when they’ve put themselves down over their looks etc.
I know that as my daughter grows up I’m going to have to quash some of these anxieties, as I don’t want her to have them.
However if I could go back in time now and give my 15 year old self some guidance, it would be to go sort out the caterpillars above my eyes and to say “No” to my Mum about my bushy fringe!
“This is the hardest story,
That I have ever told,
No hope, or love, or glory,
Happy endings gone forever more”
Mika – Happy Ending
So this blog piece will be the hardest one I have ever written. It’s one that I haven’t been brave enough to write so far (due to the fact I don’t want to cry).
So deep breath, here we go.
I suffered a heart-breaking miscarriage in July 2016.
Something I never thought would happen to me. Why would it?
I had my beautiful little girl without any problems, so why wouldn’t it just happen again? We’d have another child and we would all live happily ever after – The End.
Not this time.
We had gone through the baby years and toddler years with our first, and the time came to decide to have another one.
Both in agreement we were “trying”.
We thought, like we had done with our daughter, that it wouldn’t take long to conceive, but the months started to roll by and nothing was happening.
Don’t get me wrong I knew we were lucky.
We were parents and we had a child, but that feeling of wanting more was there, and completing our family was what we wanted.
The question of “Are you having any more children?” started to come and it started to hurt. I became embarrassed and just shrugged it off, but what I wanted to say was “Mother Nature is being a b*tch and won’t let us have another”
Watching other friends conceive their second children hurt.
Of course I was happy for them and I have loved watching their new children come into the world, but I felt like I was not a part of this ‘special club’ and that I belonged just in the ‘only child’ club. It all felt very unfair and I would get upset and cry and ask
“What’s wrong? Why isn’t this happening?”
I wanted a life where we could say “Our children” or we were buying the “Family Ticket” for 2 Adults and 2 Children. I wanted to be able to pass stuff down from Evie to our second (assuming we had another girl) and know that our family was complete.
I wanted to know that whole new-born phase over and our lives would move on watching our children grow.
I wanted to see my children share experiences, play together and most of all know that my daughter didn’t have to make those decisions alone when my husband and I reached the point where our time was up.
Trips to the GP resulted in no solutions other than to just to let nature take its course.
So after trying for what seemed like forever…… it happened.
We were pregnant & the tests confirmed it. We were elated at last we had achieved our goal, our family was going to be complete and we could start planning.
Everything for a moment was right.
The mental preparations started. The “our life will change again” conversations happened. We were planning for the future.
And then a few days later our world was tipped upside down and the future had gone.
I remember waking up three days later with the most intense pain in my stomach at 4am. I knew this pain. I had experienced this pain every month for the last 20 years and I knew it wasn’t good.
I remember going to my husband with tears in my eyes and saying “I’m bleeding”. He held me. We didn’t speak or say anything just held each other until morning.
Ironically I had booked a doctor’s appointment that day to talk about why I wasn’t getting pregnant. Then when I found out I was pregnant we’d planned to go and tell her and start the ball rolling. Instead I was telling her that I was miscarrying.
As we told the doctor what was happening she told me to keep hopeful it might be nothing, but I knew it wasn’t. I knew what was happening and for once all my optimism and hope had gone. I felt numb, I felt lost and I felt empty.
As we got home I went on lock down. I didn’t want to see anyone or do anything.
My emotions and hormones were everywhere and I wanted the world to just sod off. I told who I needed to tell and wanted to tell, but I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
My only communication with the outside world was via text message. That way I could respond when I wanted without having to hear anyone’s words.
I didn’t want it to be real and I wanted to control the situation.
I stayed in the house for nearly a week. I sat on the sofa and binged watched TV. A 7 series box set with 25 episodes in the space of a month was therapy at the time.
I didn’t want to focus or talk about it, but every time I tried to leave the house my anxiety hit the roof. I also didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone who didn’t fully understand what I had gone through.
I felt that only other people who had been through it themselves would understand, so it’s those people I turned to for support.
I cried. I blamed myself over and over again.
Knowing deep down it wasn’t my fault, but I had to blame someone and as it was me who was going through it, it just seemed logical to blame myself.
I hated going to the toilet as there was this constant reminder and I wanted it to stop.
Two of my closest friends had gone through the same experience too and they were the ones I could relate to. I was able to talk freely with them without all the clichés being thrown at me such as
“Well at least you know you can get pregnant” or “Oh well maybe next time”.
I didn’t want to hear that
I knew they were trying to help, but doesn’t help, it really doesn’t. Find me when you’ve gone through it, and then we can chat. For a long while that’s where I stayed.
I’m not sure why, but I felt that I personally had to mark this moment in my life so I did this in the form of a bracelet that supposedly means “A moment in time” I wear this all the time and it just reminds me of an event I went through. Besides I didn’t want to forget.
As time went on I started to get better. I knew if I cried when talking about it I wasn’t right or I was having an off day. Silly things would set me off, but I knew I had to get to the due date which ironically was my birthday.
As the date loomed I dreaded it, as I was being constantly asked what I was going to do for my birthday. “I don’t know” was the honest answer as I didn’t know how I would feel on that day, or how my emotions were going to be.
The day came and it was a mess.
I was a mess.
I cried uncontrollable tears. Lovely people wishing me Happy Birthday and I didn’t care I wanted the day to end.
I completely lost it. My emotions went 360 degrees and I went through them all. Sadness, anger, hurt, despair. The whole spectrum came out.
I had been boiling like a pot for 7 months, waiting for this day, and now the lid had come off in spectacular style.
I had to get out. I didn’t want to spend the day with anyone, not my friends nor my family.
I went out by myself for a few hours as I just needed to escape and not be contacted.
Whilst I was out, I went to a jewellers and I had this urge to do something for myself and symbolise everything I had gone through, felt and endured in the last 7 months. It was my birthday and it seemed right to spoil myself.
In that moment I had chosen to yet again symbolise what had happened to me with it. I wear the ring as well as the bracelet to remind me of a moment in time I went through and how far I had come.
I had bookend this section of time and it was time to start again.
I was by myself for a few good hours, but I had cleared all the emotions that were brewing together and I had got through it. I wasn’t worried or anxious and for the first time in a long time, felt like me again.
I won’t lie; it still gets to me even to this day. I know what the triggers are that might start the emotional roller coaster, so am a little bit more prepared, and I know I’m far stronger about it than I was before.
I now have my answer ready when people ask “Would you like any more children?”, and I tend to find that once they know what we’ve been through, they don’t ask again.
One decision we weren’t planning on making was “What do we do with the cot?” Evie has outgrown it but we don’t know if we’ll be able to have any more.
I have lovely friends who didn’t bat an eyelid when I was looking for a home to store it for the “just in case” scenario.
The nappies have gone, nursery is ending soon, and she’ll be too big for the local soft play area. I’m not quite ready to let the cot go just yet
I am firm believer in the idea that life deals you what it knows you can handle. So I will see where life goes and what we are given to cope with.
I know I’m not alone, I know that I’m always now a member of a club I didn’t want to join, but I know that I am there for the next woman I know who might go through this. I know that I’m “that” friend now as I have had that experience.
I also know I am very lucky to even be called the name “Mummy” and if I only ever have just one child then I’m still blessed. However, I always have hope and I’m hopeful one day I too will see a rainbow.