You Are a Survivor, Therefore You are Stronger Than You will ever know. The key is knowing where your strength comes from and learning how to tap into that strength when you need it. Everyone is different and every one has their own special source of strength! We all have our own Demons to battle, our own struggles to pull through & our own mountains to climb! Never undermine your worth by Comparing yourself to others, it is because you are different that you are special!!
A Child Abuse Survivor ~ El's Story
From the day I was born until 2 months before my 14th birthday I had spent my life with my mother and my younger brother and sister. I could not remember my Biological Father even though I was 5 the last time I had seen him, I had been raise to believe that The father on my birth certificate was my Dad, in many ways he always was!
Anyway; At the age of 13 I was going through a rebellious stage and like most teenage girls I did not get along with my mother, I have always accepted that she did the best she could, she wasn't rich but from what memories I have I had felt we were loved. As a young teen I hated that my mother was very protective & only reluctantly accepted the responsibilities that came with being the oldest child.
Well about 5 months before my 14th birthday my mother informed me and my brother that our biological father had been in contact, she had been convinced by him that he was a changed man, she did not feel it was right to let her personal feelings and experiences interfere with our chance to know him. She had also just gone through an ordeal first escaping then fighting a custody battle with our youngest sisters father. Rather than denying us the right to know our biological father she asked us if we were interested in seeing him, obviously as curious children we said yes. So he traveled up from England to see us quiet a few times for the next 3 months. He came across as the ideal father, he acted kind and loving, and very clever at making sure everyone believed that.
I remember in the October holiday that my brother had went to Our Bio F's home in England for a week because he was ill and our biological father had offered to look after him so our mother could continue going to uni. I recall a discussion with my mother about the idea of me going down to his for a week during the Christmas holiday, I had informed my mother that I was nervous about the idea and didn't want to go, she was supportive and said that we would speak to my Bio F together.
Not long after that conversation, 2 months before I turned 14, my mother and my Bio F had an argument, my mother told him to leave and never come back, I to this day still do not remember the thought process that led from that conversation to leaving with him, some how because of the rebellious stage I was going through and probably due to my Bio F's subtle Manipulation I at the time were convinced that my mother was being spiteful, so I told my mother that if he left I would, though she thought nothing of it at the time as we had had many a disagreement. I know that night was a violent one, I vaguely remember the bio F breaking into my mothers bedroom where me and my mother was and my mother being launched into her hifi, I do not understand how I was convinced to leave, I know that dispute my rebelling against my mother I was the type of child that would break my heart crying if I seen my mother crying. But the next morning my Bio F got ready to leave, and I pretended to get ready for school, I had arranged to meet the Bio F at the bus stop and then we were to go into town and get the coach to England where he lived. This happened as planned. I wasn't to know what the next 4 years had in store for me.
Well the Bio F started fighting through court to get custody of me, and the first couple month seemed okay except for the excusable discipline and him repetitively telling me how bad a mother my mother was and that she just wanted to control me and use me for a slave, always using the truth as the basis of his argument and bending it to suit his purpose, it was not hard for the Bio F to brain wash me into believing he was right and by the time the court case came I was all revved up with the "I hate my Mum as far as I'm concerned she's dead" brain washing that the Bio F won the court case. Though I do remember whilst at the court case receiving a note from my mother asking to see me, I desperately wanted to say yes but I recall looking at him and telling the solicitor stubbornly No.
Which was when life went down hill, first came the physical abuse at first in the form of excusable discipline, then about 4 months later came the Sexual abuse which was described as 'our special relationship', by which time the Bio F had enforced his authority on me and had brain washed me to believe that the only family I had was him and that everything he did, he did out of love. I was too afraid to stop it and too afraid that if I told any one they would not believe me and I'd end up back with him anyway and he would be worse with me. I desperately wanted to believe he loved me and his words were true. He also had this way of making you believe his words, he could tell you the sky was green and you would believe it, worse still he had a way of making you want and like the same thimgs he did. Our Bio F later tried and fortunately failed to get custody of my Brother. Our Bio F had planned for him and my Brother to father my children when I was old enough. I am relieved that my Brother had quite an aggressive anger towards our Bio F for 'taking me away' and had told the judge that if they made him live with our Bio F he would continuously run away.
I survived by pretending it was not happening, I went to school and sought out deep connections with friends, and concentrated on my life at school with my friends, I got by the last of my school years by hanging with my friends, to them I was this very bubbly happy girl who loved a laugh and a joke. I then went to college some of my friends from school went with me and I also made new friends a miss-hap group of friends now fondly known as the qblock. I looked forward to going to college and hung with my friends. When it was the holidays I tried to be with my friends as much as I could, the times that I wasn't, I tried to stay in my room away from him, my only other survival was to write in my diary or to write poetry, but never did I write about the things the Bio F was doing, I always wrote about my friends, and I wrote poetry about my teen crushes. But mostly it was the normal life that I had with my friends that kept me alive through those 4 years of abuse everyday of those 4 years. People think this is an over exaggeration. It wasn't he got what he wanted from me when I wanted and heaven help me if I didn't do things right! I got heavy ceramics launched at me for not doing his food the way he wanted. In a drunken rage he launched me into a cabinet with glass doors, resulting in a hospital trip lots of lies, 11 stitches and a perminent scar! On one occasion I went to school with two of the blackest eyes you have seen due to being punch full force on the bridge of my nose. Another incident was being punched full force in the mouth, my front teeth knocked 90 degrees into the roof of my mouth, my braces and spending hours holding them in place while he held my head under freezing cold water forgetting I needed to breath, is what saved the teeth! I remember vaguely the first time he manipulated his way into my bed at 14, and a handful of the worst incidents.
I was allowed only controlled written contact through letters with my Nanna (maternal) who lived in Kent, He monitored what I wrote and read the letters as they came through the door, ensuring my isolation from the adult world.
In the period between 17 1/2 and 18 I ran away several times but I never told any one why I ran away, and I always ended up back because I thought I had no place to go, the town you live in seems huge and scary at that age never mind the country. The trigger that finally made me realize I could escape and be strong was when I was in my 1st physical relationship with a guy, I hit a point where I realized that betraying someone I love (or thought I loved at the time) was worse, so about 4 weeks before my 18th birthday I ran away and I told my friends and bf about the violence that the Bio F had done to me over the years, having a visual example of the scar on my arm that had required 11 huge stitches that happened in my first 2 years with him when he had pushed me into a glass cabinet in a violent drunken rage. I ended up staying with my friends until they had helped me find a bedsit, which I shared with my boyfriend (who like my friends was only aware of the physical abuse).
About a week before my 18th birthday I had been in contact with my Nanna, because my Bio F had come to my work with letters and a birthday present delivered from my Nanna, but had used it to squirm his way back into my life, when I wasn't there when he arrived & I took none of his manipulating bullshit through the phone, he later phoned my work to tell me he had found out my brother had ran away and would I like to meet up to discuss it, I didn't fall for it, freedom opened my eyes wide to how wrong he was. I used the letters from my Nanna to get her number and phone her asking about my brother, It wasn't true, worried my Nanna passed on my work phone number to my mother (who I had no contact with for 4 years) and my mother phoned my work to speak to me, I was very scared at first because of the 4 years of brainwashing the Bio F had done, I didn't know who to trust or who to turn to. But I spoke to her and my younger brother and sister, and for the next week I was on the phone every night! My brother and sister wanted me to come up and visit so my mother arrange coach tickets for me and my boyfriend to come up for a long weekend.
The weekend turned into a very long week end as I never went back, I sat down with my mother the second night and told her all about the Physical abuse, after I had finished she was hugging me and said "its all over now, just so long as what I thought might happen never happened..." as soon as she said that I burst into tears and my mother just knew.
For the next couple months I didn't speak much of it while I was living with my mother as I became very ill, doctors said it was the flu then they said it was ear infection, and so on, my mother & doctors came to the conclusion it was a release of 4 years pent up stress and pressure wreaking havoc on my immune system, when I got better my mum said “what ever you wish to do I will back you up”, I decided to tell the police so he could never hurt anyone like that again (I wanted to protect the rest of my family including the cousins I've never met, as I recalled the sickly affection and fond way he told me story's of them and desired contact with them), so the police were informed, which was hard but the police officers who took my statement where very calm and relaxed with me and made sure I took my time, so with my mothers support I relayed all of the 4 years that I could recall to the police.
When I was 18 and a half I was foolish and needed loved and ended up marrying my boyfriend......... but it didn't last as his attitude had already slowly started changing towards me because of what the Bio F had done to me, his disgust in me solidified by having to make a statement to the police about a Sordid incident that had occurred when my Bio F tried to control and be involved in our relationship when he found out I had been dating him. This incident, short of requesting a court manuscript is the only written proof I own that shows I speak the truth. The police had sent questions up after his statement was took, to clarify a few points about the Sorbid incident involving the three of us, I still have a copy of the few paragraphs added into his statement. A few months before my 19th birthday I went to court to be a witness for the prosecution, the prosecution insisted that the judge allowed a screen to be put up so I would not be able to see the Bio F whilst I was giving my evidence, so for 3 days I was in court recalling as much of the 4 years as I could and arguing stubbornly with the defense when they produced my diary as evidence and insisted on knowing that if what I was telling was the truth why I had not wrote it..........
After I had finished in court it took all of my strength from me, my mother and my husband (at the time) ended up carrying me back to the hotel. The conviction came through 2 months before my 19th birthday, the Bio F was charged with all 7 accounts of rape, child abuse & incest and was sentenced for 11 years.
Well just after my 19th birthday I separated from my ex husband, he left me feeling like I'd deserved every thing I got.
A few weeks later I met my Husband, we were introduced by mutual acquaintances that feared I may self harm and wanted my now husband to show me where those thoughts lead (that lesson had a huge unexpected impact). We fell in love, he is my Soul mate, we'd both been through hell & back for different reasons, but we understood each others pain & became each others rocks! I knew when I met him, that he was in a worse place than I was with his past and recent tragedies, I fell in love with him, many were against us and deemed our relationship foolish and doomed. I knew then that if I wanted a relationship with the man I loved so immensely that I had to be strong for him!
And so began my path to healing...
We have been together ever since and he has loved me in all the ways I ever needed, he is so protective of me and it was his love and loving him that got me out of the downward spiral of depression that I was in when I first met him, he has been my rock and I have been his rock, he understands my past in the fullest depth and supports my fight for happiness, and he has blessed me with my 4 beautiful children. I strive to have a happy life and make my children's life happy and safe, I am determined that my children have a Mummy and a Daddy that loves them and loves each other, even though life has thrown us some very tough challenges, some life & death non related obstacles, but every fight we have battled to be together has made our relationship stronger!
In the beginning of 2003 I was watching the news about the Iraq war and discovered my older sister commenting on it, I had known of her from the Bio F (he had 2 daughters before me to a previous marriage but had split up when they were younger) something in me was curious about her, so I got in touch. From that point on we emailed each other and talked on the phone, it turned out she had took an interest in my court case in 1998 and had a friend watch it, she never spoke of her own experience but told me at 18 she'd been curious to know the Bio F when he contacted her and had spent about 6 month with him until a situation occurred which allowed her to escape, she never went into detail but said it was very similar to what I'd went through!
With-in that year or so, I had started creating an Abuse Survivor Group using MSN groups, I discovered that being there as an understanding ear for others with similar experiences helped me along on my path to healing and give purpose to these events, I had experience with helping my husband through self harming and depression. I struggled at times until I found I could talk about my experiences with fellow survivors and also help them through their healing journey. I found a strength in learning that in order to convince survivors that it wasn't their fault, I had to believe it about myself, in talking them through their thoughts I discovered and learned to analyse my own thoughts & feelings. I traveled further down my path of healing! We lost the support group when they closed MSN groups down, but the years running that helped my own healing in quite a phenomenal way. I later found Bebo and Facebook and kept sharing my story by creating a page @aTeenAngelsCry
All this inspired by a Song by Martina Mcbride Called Concrete Angel
It is a Hauntingly beautiful Tragic song!
In the Early months of 2006 we had heard that the Bio F had managed to get Parole, this prompted my older sister to go to the police about what had happened to her.
On the 4th September 2006 I had to return to Court for a second time as a character witness in my elder sisters trial against the Bio F, I also had to stand and give evidence that we had never talked to each other about our experiences.
That Day in court change allot for me, it was the turn around of my own issues, because I stood in court in control of my own life, where as at 18 I was still frail and frightened, in 2006 I was a woman a mother I'd become strong, and standing in the court room proved to myself and the the Bio F that he had no control over my life and that the control had been taken back! Most my friends and Family seen the change in me when I got back, I felt the change, the strength!
Further travelling down the path of healing.
On 12th September 2006 the Bio F was found guilty, all 12 jurors found him guilty of 5 accounts and 11 out of the 12 found him guilty of the 6th account! The judge said in court that he was a dangerous man and showed no remorse for his crimes! On 13th September 2006 he was sentenced to 8 years and given a discretionary life sentence!
I became an open book, I've always talked, so talking about my past though the memories are hard, I welcome the chance to talk, because each chance I'm given to talk, to use my past to give me strength and help others or to show others that I can understand, the easier it is for me to live with it. I went from a scared wee girl too afraid to talk to an open booked woman that every one wishes would just shut up even for a few minutes LOL
Find the strength with in you and you will survive anything life throws at you, turn your negative emotions into something good.
I was determined to have a happy life, the Bio F may have ruined my past, but he has no control over my present nor my future, that is mine to control, and I will make my future a happy one, because if I don't that's a life he has managed to destroy. It was not confidence in myself that got me this far, it was confidence in those around me that I love and that care for me, my Babes, my children, my Family and my friends (the best friends a girl could ever wish for)
Over the years My relationship with my mother has required allot of futile working on, we had many issues to work though, my independence, my stubbornness, my one woman crusade, my insecurities and mistrust, my mothers emotions & her perceptions of reality, her need to control every situation she is in, her fears of loosing me again, her desire to protect me from any more hurt, her fear of me not being able to cope, her intensity in preparing for worst case scenario – her daughter being institutionalized and of course both our pasts!
Regardless of my resistance to being mothered, there were a few crucial lessons my mother taught me that have made me who I am today and helped me be strong. Some of them are; Never bottle up your emotions they'll eventually burst out of control, always talk about your problems, never let negative emotions take control, use the negative emotions to fuel something positive, there are some things you'll never fully recover from but you can learn to live with them, fear is healthy but should not be life consuming, honesty is always best because the truth always finds away to come out! My only regret is that My Mother can not see beyond the image she has in her mind of me which is tainted by the past and her perceptions, but also the half truths of believing her own worst case scenario and other undesirables who fed those imagined scenarios (ex husbands, two-faced friends etc.) From there its spiraled out of control, for many years I got the feeling she was sitting at the edge of her seat honestly believing I was on the verge of a nervous break down! Mistaking my strong willed stubbornness as episodes of insanity! She doesn't trust anything I say because she constantly believes my thoughts my feelings and my opinions are all a part of "the verge of a nervous breakdown" or tainted by my past. I have written letters where she accuses my words of being poison from my Bio F. Only once did she ever listen to me as a normal woman and that was after the 2006 court case, after being proven wrong, because she had warned everyone I may come back and need sectioned, which had not done much for my husbands mental stability! She couldn't be any more wrong about me, then for a few months she said sorry, she apologized for letting her fear blind her to the strong woman I had become, though this only occurred because it was my stepDad who had heard me out and picked me up against my mothers wishes and took me to her house after she had said she didn't want to see me. With my Stepdads support I spoke to her and he made sure she listened, for a little while I was so happy, I felt I finally had my mum as an adult needs her mum, but unfortunately time went on, more changes occurred, with each battle and mountain I had to get over I became more stubborn, less tolerant of situations that caused stress and hurt, I became more true to myself and learned that the only way to do that was to stop being nice just to please everyone and keep the peace! I started voicing my opinions more, disagreeing with advice rather than nodding and accepting when I didn't agree! Because of these differences in opinion, rather than see me for the independent woman with her own life opinions and views, my mother reverted back to her original belief that I was not dealing with and could not cope with my past, so much so that she believes my "depression" has made me vindictive, manipulating and my word & my memory are unreliable!
Sometimes a relationship can do more harm than good and I wish it was different I really do because she is my only parent and my kids only grandparent, but hoping has messed with my head way too much. Wish I had a magic wand to fix it all, but we have just got to make do with the hand that was dealt! Thanks to too many counselling sessions, psychology sessions and cpn sessions, I've learned to come to terms with the fact that how my mother sees me is far more to do with her as a person, her feelings, her thoughts and her memories, than anything that I have done, I can't change any of that for her, for a while I could only hope that one day she would see the true me! But through out all this, My mothers thoughts has constantly been the negative voice in my head asking myself, is she right, am I really just pretending to be on the path to healing, that thought / voice instigated by my mothers fear that one day she will get the call that says I've been institutionalized because she can not fathom how I can be as okay as I portray I am and it not be fake, that voice has had me questioning my every thought all these years, always worried I might be wrong and she right, we didn't have much of a relationship because of it, but strangely enough her golden nuggets of advise has been fundamental to how I have survived.
I've recently (beginning of 2016) been dismissed from yet another CPN that I self referred myself to yet again, as I tackled yet another difficult challenge in my life, in the assessment the CPN had nothing but praise for my strength and ability to have coping mechanisms in place (Reading, Swimming, walking, Talking, writing & Photography) It feels awkward hearing praise for choosing to live because your husband and children need you, to me its natural, I love them I have to be strong, I have no choice! But that 90 min assessment gives a temporary reassurance that I'm not that close to my mothers doom and gloom prediction / fear. Reassurance that my thoughts & feelings are normal reactions, that I'm right about coming to terms with the fact that my past will always be a fundamental part of who I am, how I think & how I feel, I will always deal with triggers and memories, but I have the ability to analyse acknowledge, understand and accept that, to know how to cope with the triggers and thoughts, to live with them, deal with them as part of daily life. My after thought of that CPN assessment... I wish my mother had been in there with me and heard all that!
I Still held onto hope.
Until a truth came out and a line was crossed and they became my ex-family, it is the only way to describe my state of mind post August 2016
There is more to this story, but it is not all my story to tell and is still very recent & raw.
Narcissists live among us smiling, loving, caring functional members of society. But its a mask! Even I, a Survivor who knew the signs, was fooled! I became a survivor learnt to try and help others.. Attempted to salvage relationships with my mother and siblings.. Had a family and battled supporting my hubby with his mental health struggles.. I Found a love of Photography and prepared to start College.. Only to have a cold hard slap of reality.. My eyes peeled wide open about the truths of a Narc who took advantage of our sincerity.. The thing I was scared of most came too close to reality! All those instinct about this Narcissist were correct.. I thought my concerns about him were because of my past.. The narc played me.. And got to my kids.. My family is now just his family, his enablers! But do you know what, you can not loose something you never had! I was once told by my mother that I need them, that they are all I have got! WRONG!
We are free now. Life has been turned upside down.. But I still have my Hubby and Kids!
We will survive & Thrive!
The truth will come out.. Karma will be our Justice!
I've learnt so much in the last few months of 2016, I read books and psychology reports as well as listened to and investigated all the truths of the Narcs past he hid and twisted to make himself the victim. This one incident was only the beginnings of what was uncovered, there are multiple levels of manipulation and psychological damage never mind multiple levels of physical abuse, multiple incidents, with multiple victims, to an extent where officials want the victims to come forward to speak out and make a report against the perp. His time will come!
Our Eyes are wide open. We fight the long fight!
Now We are in Therapy to learn to deal with people who should be in Therapy!
I'm afraid! For those The Narc will hurt in the future, for those who may already be hurting and no one knows!
But we Know the Truth..We want Awareness for all Abuse Including The Psychological war fare these Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths wreak on their victims.
I do empathize with those that have struggled and are not doing great, we are all at different stages in our journey, I don't believe they are lacking in strength because they struggle, I believe they are stronger than me because of their struggles and feelings of hopelessness but they keep fighting, being alive taking each day as it comes is 'fighting' even when its not realized, I was just lucky to have a set of circumstances that allowed me to find my strength and use it.
Never undermine your worth by Comparing yourself to others, it is because you are different that you are special!! xxx
I recently encountered an Idea that I had given little thought to because it wasn't for me... Forgiveness, the concept of forgiving my Abuser feels alien to me! I feel Forgiving is wrong, it states you resolve them from punishment of their wrong doing but also says you no longer feel resentment and anger... I cant remember the last time I felt anger or resentment.. But forgiveness is not right... But forgiveness is discussed consistently as the path to our healing... I'm healing without the need to forgive! But with my recent rediscovery of this concept I grew disturbed with the thought that I didn't believe in forgiveness for my situation, did that mean I still resented or felt anger... After talking it through with a fellow survivor and researching it, I discovered... Forgiveness is a misconception...... Healing doesn't require forgiveness only acceptance of the facts!! Another Survivor said to me “Sometimes the only person you need to forgive is yourself & that is good enough.” Forgiving your abuser is A CHOICE, its not right for everyone, but in some people it was the key to their healing. Don't get hung up on it, if its not for you!! xxx
I have a husband that I'm extremely proud of, he's one in a million, he is my perfect! He has given my beautiful children and some amazing memories, they are my strength
"Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what."
I have some really lovely family who I treasure so much, who gave me the chance and made their own opinions of me, who I will be forever grateful for! Its taken me many years, but I've got a small handful of friends I trust with my life, who have been there, listened to me ranting and raving, always been honest with me and who I value very highly!
Through out my life I've had some really special friends that have meant the world to me, who I have my life to thank for, I wouldn't have made it this far without them, they have played different roles in my life throughout different periods of my life and their friendship has often been my rock in desperate or scary times! Some I still talk to, some not so much, some not at all for one reason or another- but every one of you hold a very dear precious place in my heart for simply being this "crazy bitch's" friend, our memories are treasured and precious Thank you, you know who you are, each of you from 1994-present day. You are amazing I love you xxx
My husband and soul mate, my hero and father to our children, you are my world and I love and treasure every precious second I'm gifted with you, words can not describe the love, admiration and feelings for you, you are my rock! Thank you Babes xxx
Who said you can't choose your family!
So you see, you can be happy, don't get me wrong its a very bumpy roller-coaster ride, but all you need to do is find that strength that is within you and use it! And the legal justice system can work in our favor, not all the time I know but the Bio F was jailed for 11 years, not long enough & yes he got out earlier though he did get even longer after the second trial, but if more of us fought back against our abusers it would make a statement, that they cant get away with this, that we will not be intimidated by them. Don't get me wrong its hard and I had support, but it is the way forward I believe. We stand together!
The Name "A Teen-Angels Cry" comes from the first and only poem I wrote about my abuse
(I've written 200 poems)
A Teen-Angel's Cries
~ I cried myself to sleep night after night Looking forward to the safety of my dream Praying I'd wake up to find it all a nightmare Only to be awakened and see the reality brightly beam ~ Lying to my teachers and friends about the bruises Desperate to say the truth, hoping for help Running from the flying fists, screaming out Wondering why no one ever heard my yelp ~ Hearing the lies that were told over and over So much that in my conscious mind they seemed true Doubting my own beliefs, even my sanity In my future I could only see grey and blue ~ My mind became a maze like nothing known My thoughts and feelings twisted for his use Trying to sort out which thoughts were mine And which ones were planted there by his abuse ~ Splitting my life and my personality into two One to be all he asked of me so not to be hurt The other to be all I dreamed of being Laughter with friends or forever alert ~ I searched high and low for the love I needed Finding friends, looking for answers to life Its so hard to accept the truth of pain So wrong to have to live a life of strife ~ How can he call himself a father When he turned me into a scared girl so fray When he caused endless days of pain and near death When he stole my innocents and childhood away ~~~~~
This was written by El on the 3rd of February 2004. It is the first poem I have ever written in connection with this subject, as before when I was living with the Bio F I was too scared of even considering writing such a thing, I never even mentioned it in my diaries I was that scared of him finding it and reading it. Up until the time I wrote this I had never focused as much of my time on this subject, I always knew I wanted to but never knew how. But at that point in time it became clear, I focused on my support website. The amount of stress and hurt that I had been able to focus into one thing the support Website because of my abuse is enormous. Now the more I added to this site, the more I wrote on there the more weight of stress was lifted from me. I have always been a talker so naturally my past is talked about allot, I've always kept a diary so now I disclose everything in my diary. But the original website had made me feel the strongest, the most free and the most uplifted that I'd ever had in my life (with the exception of September 2006) and it all started because of Martina McBride’s Song called the "Concrete Angel"
Disclaimer; this is my story, my feelings and my thoughts on events that occurred in my life, told with honesty & integrity in the hope that someone might read it and feel a little less alone! None of it is meant to upset, insult or target anyone, do not compare your life to mine, we each have our own lives and no one persons is better or worse; there is a very true saying "til you've walked a mile in my shoes" which includes you too, no one knows how your life is but you, life is not measured in who has the biggest issues, but how you handle your life, how you respond to hurdles and mistakes! so always be proud of how far you have come x