Posted by: Louise | March 25, 2010

my story

I am a woman.

I am a girl born into a family of many boys. My parents had no idea quite how many boys were to follow when they had me. Suffice to say, it raises an eyebrow every time it is mentioned.

When I was six my sister was born. Sixteen days later she died. The hospital never allowed us in to meet her. It was advised that we young children shouldn’t go to her funeral, likewise my Mum. It would be too upsetting. My father went alone. He has never talked about it. A lot of what I know about my sister, I know because of Laura. Both these little girls, these second daughters in families of boys, had downs syndrome.

When I was eight, I was molested by someone close to our family. When I was eight I learned to carry on regardless. I learned to smile when inside I was screaming. I learned to fear the very thing that was my most treasured possession. I was a girl in a family of boys.

When I was 39 I turned the car into the local police station one day and reported this man for molesting me. It had taken years of therapy to get me to this place. “Is that all?” the policewoman asked, after I haltingly and tearfully gave my statement of the incident that had changed my whole life. I didn’t know there was an “all” when it came to molesting children. I didn’t know there was a measure on what sexual thrills it was ok to have with a child. Is wrong not “all” wrong? Nothing has ever come of my statement.

One month later K was in hospital with pneumonia.

I grew up in a busy house, a life filled with all the usual stuff: friends, sports, art, playing in the woods. Holidays are remembered, not for their exotic location, but for the comfortable familiarity of the same beach, rain, hail or shine and the challenge of just how many people we could fit into my aunt’s three-bedroomed bungalow. The record was set when I was fifteen – 4 adults, approximately 12 teenagers, 4 kids, at least one dog and enough windsurfers, canoes, dinghies, buckets, spades to start a school. My aunt was unimpressed. Best holiday of our lives.

The closest description I can find for how I feel now compared to when I was growing up is ‘comfortable in my skin.’ I am not dramatically different. When I went to therapy for the first time, I thought it would change me visibly. I don’t think it has. I just think the me that people see is a much closer match these days to the me on the inside. It doesn’t feel pretend anymore. I feel honest.

At 38 I bawled for the loss of my sister. I had cried for her before, but this time I bawled. There was no pretending anything.

And then at 39 after the trip to the police station, after K nearly slipping away in the grip of pneumonia, after he lost his job, after we had decided that three much wanted and much loved clomid babies would be our family, Laura was conceived accidentally and naturally and I became the fantasy of woman I had harboured all my life.

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