If you’ve had a challenging few years and feel ready for a change, perhaps it’s time to rewrite your story.
Whether you’re tired of being the victim or the villain, you’re the author of your own story and you get to decide how your story ends.
I once had big dreams with no real intention to make them happen. I suffered abuse and mistreatment, believing these people would eventually see my worth and change their ways. If I demonstrated love, loyalty and commitment, I believed it would one day be enough to earn me their love and respect. If I stayed quiet, ignored my gut feeling and trusted the lies, I thought it would all work out in the end.
Being honest with myself.
I’ve been asked what inspired me to change my life. It’s hard to pinpoint, especially when you’re still on that journey and still working hard to let go of all the emotional baggage. It began with information, enough for me to evaluate my life in a brutal and honest way. It began when I attended an induction for a women’s organisation and identified with the cycles of abuse on the powerpoint. My life, in parts, was scattered under headings of Occasional Indulgences, Displays of Total Power and other areas I don’t want to write here. It was undeniable and it was that realisation that set the wheels in motion. I didn’t want to become my mother.
My mum was a teenage mum, my siblings and I have different dads and surnames, and I grew up on council estates. With a lifetime of abuse and trauma herself, my mum silently battled mental health which resulted in suicide attempts. All I ever wanted was to live in a semi-detached house, have a car, do my dream job and have children with the same dad. I thought I’d have all that and be happy, and I strived for it for years. But I had all those things and I was miserable, and that weighed less on the material things and more on the circumstances I found myself in.
I have bags of confidence now but back then I didn’t, I couldn’t even look in the mirror. But for a moment I stepped outside of myself and looked at the life I had created. I wasn’t happy but I knew I deserved to be. I knew that I had worked hard and achieved stability, but my relationship was toxic as hell and I was drowning in it. A teeny, tiny part of me knew I deserved better and knew that if I wanted a better life, it was up to me to create it. I had waited years for my partner at that time to come correct and treat me right, but I didn’t have the energy to wait anymore. It was down to me to make a change, only I could do it. That epiphany was all I needed to make the change.
I’m 33 years old now and still feel super young, but I’ve learned some life-changing facts:
You have the power to create the life you want. It’s up to you, your responsibility. It’s not about handing the reigns over to someone else in the hope they value it and treat you nice, because they won’t. You can guarantee yourself some stability by taking the lead and crafting a reality you’re happy to be part of.
You don’t have to have all the answers. My children were just 7 months and 3 years old when I become a single mum. It was my choice. I didn’t have a plan for my new life, I just hoped it would be easier. I’d made the leap before and experienced harassment, so I knew what to expect this time round (although it did escalate and I suffered PTSD as a result). I didn’t quite know how to navigate my life without him, but I was willing to try.
You’ll change and that’s okay. I refused to accept that I’d changed, that I’d become someone unrecognisable. I didn’t want people to believe I was a heartless bitch like my ex insisted I was, I wanted people on my side. Eventually, I accepted that change was inevitable. how could anyone experience trauma and escape unharmed? I needed help for my deteriorating mental health because it was obvious I couldn’t address the emotional scars alone. In doing that, I’ve experienced the biggest transformation of all.
You are deserving of love, just as you are. I’ve been an overachiever all of my life. I worked hard in school, received good grades and certificates. I was even on the Gifted and Talented Register because I was a smart kid. Being good at something brought me attention and praise, which was a lifeline in an otherwise toxic home environment. It brought me under a spotlight and made it easier for me to receive love. This belief followed me into adulthood and reinforced by family members who only celebrated me when I’d published a book. I rejected their love because it didn’t feel real. Because what about all the times I hadn’t done anything remarkable? Wasn’t I deserving of public displays of affection then?
It’s a weird one but what I do understand now is that I was always worthy of love. I don’t have to be in constant creation mode to be deserving of appreciation. I’m still worthy of love when I’m spiralling and still deserving of love when I’m depressed. And so are you.
The single most painful thing in my life that happened to me was losing my mum. The most powerful fact that has shaped my life in recent years is that I am the one in control. She gave birth to me but I rebirthed me, and I create the life I want. I’m the author of my own story.
I’ve written my life in a book and I’m just toying with the idea of self-publishing again. But for now, just know that my name is Annika Spalding and I successfully rewrote the story of my life.
I believe you can too.
Are you ready?