THIRTY

Thirty…three zero…the BIG THREE ZERO! I am not going to lie, the thought of turning thirty was terrifying.

On the lead up to this day the number 30 represented all the things which I should have achieved but had not.I was supposed to be an amazing wife that was married to the most amazing man. He was supposed to love, protect and encourage me unconditionally. I was supposed to be a mother, a role model, someone that my new little family could be proud of. I was supposed to be a successful business women, who was earning over 100k a year, had travelled the world and explored many foreign cities.

I was supposed to be all of those things but I am not.

Reflecting back on the past decade has been a roller-coaster for me. In this decade I have been through many things that I would not wish upon my worst enemy.

At the very beginning of this decade I found the courage to leave a relationship that was filled with physical violence, verbal torment and isolation. I was a twenty year old girl who was supposed to have the whole world at her feet, instead I was a person who had endured more pain physically and emotionally, than most people will be fortunate enough to avoid throughout their entire lifetime.

As a result of this, I isolated myself for twelve months in fear that this person would come after me or bring physical harm to my family. In my head the safest thing to do was to hide. In this time I battled with high functioning anxiety, severe depression and weight gain.

For months I felt excruciating pain in my ovaries and decided to visit the doctor. She asked me if I ever wanted to have children, to which I said “Of course I do” she looked me dead in the eye and told me that my unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle could severely compromise that. That one conversation was the harsh reality check I needed to take control and get my life back. At that point I weighed in at 116kgs and was a size 20.

How was I, this big fat, ugly girl ever going to be able to step foot into a gym? I remember that feeling like it was yesterday. Walking through those doors took every ounce of courage I had left in me. I was emotionally fragile and physically shaking. My stomach was in crippling knots, my throat was dry and I had to hold back the tears just to talk to the person on the front desk.

That relationship had stripped me of all my self-confidence and worth, so much so, I truly believed if someone was looking at me it was to laugh.

In my very first gym session my worst nightmares came true - I was laughed at and called names by a group of boys from my local area who stood behind me for the entire twenty minutes whilst I was on the treadmill. They said horrible, horrible things, loud enough for me to hear. They reinforced everything my ex-partner had ever said and everything I already thought about myself. I left the gym, ran to my car and I sobbed uncontrollably for around an hour. I could not understand how people could be so cruel to a complete stranger.

Despite this incident I kept going to the gym but was too scared to ever get a personal trainer. I was too ashamed to exercise in front of someone who looked as good as they did. I would never walk with my head held high or dare look anyone in the eyes, because I truly believed my entire existence was an embarrassment.

After one year of going to the gym and following my own diet (mainly cutting out fried food, fizzy drinks and take away) my weight went from 116kg to 80kg. When I saw that on the scales I finally felt worthy enough to try and start integrating myself back into society. A few months passed and I had made some new friends but I still felt extremely insecure with my body and being in public. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror so how could I ever expect anyone to look at me?

The excessive weight gain had done physical damage to my body. I had stretch marks and I was devastated to find that after all of those hours in the gym, my breasts now looked like deflated balloons.

Without my family knowing I looked up plastic surgeons in Sydney and made an appointment to see a doctor. My parents were in disbelief and extremely upset that I would want to do such a thing to my body, but my mother decided that she would be coming for the consultation as there was no way she was going to let me go alone.

Ashamed, I removed my top to bare my chest to the doctor and my mother. I could see it in her eyes, she truly felt sorry for me. We both cried and she comforted me and told me I would have full support from my family in whatever decision I chose to make.

That same day I locked in a date to have a full breast reconstruction as normal breast augmentation was not an option. At the time this was the biggest decision I had ever made financially as the price for this surgery was almost triple the amount I had anticipated.

Weight gain was one thing, losing the weight was another thing, getting a breast reconstruction, that was something else, but trying to find the nerve to talk to people - I just could not do it. The only way I was able to interact with other people outside of my little group was by drinking alcohol.

As time went on, I discovered nightclubs. Week in and out, I drank away my wages. I partied hard, creating many memories with temporary people who by morning, their names I would forget. People would sarcastically ask me "Why do you party all the time?”, "What exactly do you have to celebrate". I laughed it off like it was nothing, but in my head I remember thinking, I am celebrating being free.

As the years went on, a few more unfortunate events took place and instead of dealing with them, I blocked them out. I drowned them by means of music, clubs, festivals, bad company and a series of unhealthy almost-relationships. I was like an empty vessel - just moving from one weekend to the next trying to kill time until the next party, the next opportunity to "celebrate".

Sitting at around the 69kg mark and an unhealthy size 10, I remember waking up one day after a massive weekend and I felt a deep sense of sadness. My actions and carefree attitude had come at a cost. I had lost my identity almost seven years earlier and still had not found it. Instead, I found I had accumulated a large debt, a group of fake friends and due to my actions I had pushed away anyone who had legitimately cared for me.

I remember looking in the mirror and not recognising the girl in front of me. That was the day I decided it was time to make some serious changes. It was that day I had the realisation that no one was coming to save me - I needed to save myself. I never saw myself as the party girl. I always knew I had so much more to offer but the reality was that is exactly who I was. People would call me to go out and they knew they would have a good time, so somehow I had become” the good time girl”. Truthfully, I did not like her – I despised her! To me she was weak…she was the girl who had just thrown in the towel and given up.

This "life of the party" image, was not something to be proud of. To dress up and go out every weekend in order to gain some sort of superficial gratification from a bunch of strange guys - where is the value in that? All they liked about me was the way I looked, nothing more, nothing less. How could this person who had so much more to offer the world, now be recognised for something as shallow as the way they look?

I thought back to twenty year old me: the girl that was uncontrollably sobbing in her car praying to God to take the pain away; the girl who had many times thought about ways that she could drive her car head first into a brick wall, making her death look like an accident, but could not bring herself to do it because it would destroy her family.

Twenty year old me would have been devastated to know that seven years down the track, the same type of guy that was laughing at her at the gym that day, she was now hanging out with every weekend.

This was an insult to my journey. I had not fought that long and hard, cried all those tears and worked my way through all that bullshit, for people to want to know me purely because of my outer appearance.

Then, I actually sat down and wrote a list. Besides partying and being social, what did I actually enjoy doing?

Writing in a way that caused people to feel something, because for so long I felt nothing.

Pictures filled with vibrant colours, because for so long all I saw was darkness and spreading good vibes, in hopes that one day maybe others might follow my lead.

From those three simple things, the Rebecca you know today was born.

My twenties may not have delivered me a husband, babies or a booming career like it was "supposed to" but it did give me a special gift, it gave me the gift of acceptance.

After 10 years I am finally able to accept what happened to me and recognise that how I was treated in that relationship was not okay - It never was okay. I did not deserve to be on the receiving end of a 120kg fist.

I did not deserve to live in fear, constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering if today would be the day he was coming for me, like he promised me he would. I did not deserve to be called all of those awful names and told every day of my life that "No one will ever want you!" I did not deserve any of that - no one does.

Now at thirty I can see that the path I went down, by means of "celebrating my freedom", was really just an excuse. It was a band aid and a quick fix to make my brain be quiet. To me feeling nothing, was so much easier than feeling what I felt. I am very lucky that some of the decisions I made in the past did not have life threatening consequences.

This is why I cannot stress to people enough if they are going through a hard time, to make an appointment to see a doctor or talk to a professional. Self-medicating is a very dangerous game to play and gambling with your life is not worth the risk.

If you do not like the person you are today, you do not have to be that person tomorrow. I am living proof of this.

I will now say farewell to my twenties. Thank you for the trials, tribulations and lessons because without them I would not be where I am today and today I am proud of myself. I may not be perfect but that is okay…because no one is.

The beauty of a person is not measured by what is on the scales. To me, being a beautiful person means so much more than that.

Just know that whatever you are going through, you just have to keep going because once the storm passes, I promise you the sun WILL shine again!

Domestic Violence –

https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/domestic-family-violence

Depression –

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression

Suicide Prevention –

https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/get-help-home

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