When I was a baby, my mother gouged my left thigh with a nappy pin. I don't remember this of course but I remember my grandmother telling me that was how I got the scar. And when I questioned her, my mother freely admitted she'd done it - and was unrepentant. My scar grew with me, and while it is unsightly, it is a reminder to me that yes, my mother behaved abysmally toward me, but she was sick too, for surely no one in their right mind would do that to a baby...
Shortly after that, she threw me down the stairs, fracturing my skull. I still have the scar on my forehead. I also have scars and dents on my shins where she broke both of them when she kicked me while wearing Scholl sandals (remember those wooden ones which were fashionable in the '70s?). And my right hand still bears the scar of where I protected myself when she tried to stab me in the face when I was 14.
By 15, I'd had enough of the daily beatings, so I packed a bag, walked out of the door, got a job, and then a flat. Of course I had to lie about my age, and had to resort to blackmail to get the job, but desperate people do desperate things! I never went back.
There are mental scars too. My son's father committed suicide, so out of loneliness, and for practicality, I married a friend. The marriage lasted 10 years before we broke up. If I'm honest, it was partly because of my utter boredom. Yes, I know that comes across as being horrible.
Remember me telling you that Thelma & Louise changed my life? This is when it happened (I realise how incredibly corny that sounds)! I was tired of settling for what I got (as in Thelma's "You get what you settle for"): I was not just someone's mother (a very good mother at that!), or someone's daughter (although I'd cut my mother out of my life years beforehand), or someone's wife (soon to be ex-wife!). I was a person in my own right, and I was going to be that person again. For goodness' sake, Chuck Berry had a 20ft high poster of me....didn't that mean anything? I'd been on TV, appeared in magazines, partied with the rich and famous, and had my portrait painted for an exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery. Was I doomed to a life of domestic oblivion, even if it was the path I had chosen to go down?
I didn't think so!
I moved myself and my children away from the village we lived in, to a large town 60 miles away, where my kids would have better schools and lots of opportunities. I enrolled in university, and also took another job teaching SEN (special educational needs - I'd been doing this for several years beforehand), which allowed me to work around my studies.
Eventually however, I realised I needed a career change, so at the age of 40, I left teaching and started my own PR agency, dealing with the games industry (I've been a big videogames fan for 30+ years!). I did that for a few years (alongside supplementing my fees by making corsetry and historical costume) until I realised that I didn't really enjoy PR! I was very good at it but it wasn't for me - there was no passion there, although I loved working in the games industry. And I hated being 'the boss'! I still do bits and pieces for friends and ex-clients as and when they need some extra help but I never want to go back to it full time.
These days I am happy and content; I make bespoke corsets, repro-historical clothing, and theatrical costumes (I've just finished Lady Macbeth's costumes for a touring company). I do what I love, I meet wonderful people, and I get to create wonderful garments! Plus of course, I get to blog about my other passions; food, health and fitness! I also take on freelance editing work, which helps to pay the bills and indulges my grammar-fascism!
And I have the undying love of a very good man. Quite possibly THE most wonderful man in the universe!
The point of this post is that if I can do all of the above, and not only overcome my childhood experiences (and I have barely scratched the surface in this post) but emerge a reasonably sane and balanced person, then really, there's nothing I can't do.
So in April this year, I decided I needed to become fit and lose weight (a lot of weight!), and in so doing, I discovered that I love running! So I have decided to run the London Marathon in 2013 - the year I will be 50! I honestly believe that while it will be hard-going, it will be a breeze compared to say, training myself not to cry whenever my mother beat me, or when her husband came to my room at night. Between now and 2013, I shall be running 5k, 10k and half marathons, plus obviously, training for the big one!
Notice I said I shall, not that I plan to. This is because I WILL do all these things. And more! Just planning to do something leaves me an escape route....and I have nothing to escape from! Making a commitment to actually do something means I have to do it....and I WILL do it!
And when I feel my resolve starting to flag, as it has done a few times because I've been achey and not felt like going out for a run, all I have to do is look at the scars on my body and remember how far I've come in my life. Suddenly the prospect of more aching muscles is rendered meaningless! If I am feeling discomfort from running, it's not a bad thing. It means I am pushing my body, and taking charge. It's something I know will lessen as I progress. And let's face it, I've had far worse and come out the other side... the stronger for it.
I can do anything. And so can you.