At a young age, all I wanted was to get away from foster care, away from the negativity, away from the abuse and from my abusive neighbour, away from a dysfunctional place and away from the inhumane conditions we were living in.
As a child I wasn’t able to physically escape, but I could escape some of the feelings by going into the field nearby and picking daisies to make daisy chains. I spent hours in that field, I felt safe from harm and it calmed me down. I felt safe being alone.
When I grew up my escape was my passion for languages. So I travelled to Spain, not realising that after my difficult childhood I needed counselling for trauma and post-traumatic stress. But my passion for learning another language and experiencing another culture was fascinating and my compassion for others who were just as broken as me or more broken than I was kept me driven. I was full of fear all of the time, but I didn’t know why. I could not communicate or socialise comfortably, and I really struggled to trust other people. Because of this I fell into a life of addiction. For me, reality was an overwhelming place, as nothing was making any sense to me at all. I was so scared of people, places and things, but I did not understand my feelings.
My biggest dream came true when I had my own children, my own family… three beautiful children. I wanted to create a life for them and give them everything I didn’t have – most of all love.
Unfortunately, the father of my children was very violent towards me, and this eventually led to my children going into foster care. I was unable to get away from my husband at that time. He had emotional and physical control over me. Because of my upbringing, I wanted a family so much I felt I had to put up with his abuse just to keep my family together. I didn’t know any other way at that time. I did get away from him after my children went into foster care as there was no reason for me to stay with him anymore. My family was broken.
I tried to go into addiction treatment centres many times, but each time I would run out of there. It was too frightening of an experience for me being in groups and being around people I didn’t know. It was all focused on addiction, and I needed to understand my childhood and how it affected me before I could deal with anything else. I needed to do things my own way. This determination has been my strongest resource. I found out about Harbour Counselling and I put my name on the waiting list. With the support of the Cork Alliance Centre I began attending there. My support-worker Vicky walked with me the first day and met me afterwards for the first few weeks. Then we started meeting in a coffee shop, as I had told her that I felt I didn’t deserve to be in a coffee shop or anywhere, my self-esteem was so low. Without this support I would not have stuck with it. Eventually I started to walk there on my own and had the confidence to do so. Throughout everything, I always had somewhere and someone to turn to with the Cork Alliance Centre.
The counselling helped me to re-train my mind. I finally began to understand the trauma and how it impacted on me. I suffered from very bad anxiety and panic attacks and my stream of thought was always telling me “I am scared, I am in danger”. Through the work with my counsellor and my own research, I learned to think differently. My thoughts are now far more positive and my thoughts tell me that “I am safe”.
Not ever having the support or love I needed from a loving family growing up, I found it later on in life through the supports that have remained with me. These supports are Cork Alliance Centre, Theresa at The Hut, Harbour Counselling, Deirdre in Probation, Liam in Arbour House and Cork Simon Community. They gave me more than a roof over my head, they gave me support. I will be forever grateful.
I learned how to believe in myself.
I now live the life that I deserve.