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It never fails to amaze me that, no matter how much a person has moved on, grown, developed and changed in to something or someone unrecognisable from their former self, it can only take one little thing to take you right back there. I was reminded of the AOW ‘Unworthy‘ post, and wanted to share what knocked me sideways today.
Let me put this post in to context. Twelve years ago, I was at high school, chronically depressed and a self harmer. I had a group of friends (emos, I believe was the term bandied about in those days) and we muddled through together. Then I got poorlier, the self-harming got dangerous with a suicide attempt or two, culminating in a stay in an adolescent psychiatric ward. All the while this was happening, this group of friends cut me out. Just stopped speaking to me. For a desperately unhappy girl it all but tipped me over the edge. Lunchtimes were spent on my own, in the teacher’s room, toilets, on bad days at home, and on the worst days in bed unable to face anyone at all. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic or sorry for myself, and who hasn’t been through some teen angst, but they really were the very worst of days and I could never understand my friends’ decision to cut me loose, save that I was unhappy and probably not much fun to be around.
Twelve years on and I am a happy, moderately successful (not so young anymore) woman, with wonderful friends, married to a divine man and living a content life together with our adorable (rogue!) cats. I am usually found with a smile on my face, and if I ever choose to share my teenage experiences, people are usually shocked. All in all, life is pretty sweet.
Today, at work, a new member of staff was introduced to me.
It was one of the girls from high school.
At first, I didn’t recognise her. After all, who expects such a blast from the past to be standing in your office at 10am on a Wednesday morning while you’re stuffing your face with a chocolate biscuit? Then, I did. We exchanged pleasantries and adknowledged we knew each other from high school, but no more was said in front of our colleagues and she continued with her tour.
And I was left alone in my office, shaking like a leaf. And after I calmed myself down, I wondered why, WHY, after twelve years, can someone still have that effect on me? The fact is that I am a senior member of staff, liked by my colleagues (so I am told, at least!) and certainly not the one with anything to prove. So why do I immediately feel at odds with myself again? Like I am right back there, 16 years old, in the toilet stall at school, with a razor blade. On a very bad day, back when I was unwell, I cut the word ‘Freak’ in to my leg. I can still make out the word, now. And today, for the first time in a long time, I felt that was justified.
I would like to say, I am not suffering from depression anymore in any acute manner, nor carrying around such unwelcome thoughts about myself, and chances are, this girl never realised the profound effect that their actions had on me, and would likely be aghast if she knew. But I was stunned at the strength of my own reaction.
I have to accept the chance that even though she is only on a temporary contract, she may be taken on permanently. I got past these feelings once before and I can damn well do it again. I may even extend an olive branch and invite her for coffee, knowing that she must be slightly cautious at best, and nervous at worst, at working alongside me. But then, I don’t know if I can be that bigger person- and whether even part of it would be sadistically to satiate my own curiousity about her and the group of girls I know she still sees. I suppose part of me still does like to hurt myself.
I’m afraid this post doesn’t have any resounding conclusion or message. I don’t know myself how this will play out. I know I am not that 16 year old girl anymore, and she won’t be either, and so we will work together as colleagues would and should. I suppose I need to remind myself, I’m not a freak. And I never was. I am not unworthy.