Don’t’ Tell Me What To Do!

Girl sitting legs crossed – in a zen-like position on the floor, centre stage, with eyes closed.

Lights up. Eyes open. Grimace on face.

You thought you had me, didn’t you?!

Shakes head indignantly.

You thought I was weak! You thought I was done in.

Slowly stands up and walks around, perusing the stage and audience.

I spent so much time thinking that you were right. So much time dwelling on all my troubles. So much time avoiding everyone that I loved. You drove me to despair!

Hand on hip, hand on forehead.

Life used to be great for me. I had a good job. My friends and I would party a lot. I went on brilliant holidays and saw some amazing places. I went on dates.

Yes, it was all going just fine. Just fine until all my luck ran out at once. And then YOU took advantage of me. YOU grabbed me by the hair and dragged me about. YOU pulled me over and held me down so I couldn’t get back up again. I was a boxer knocked down and the count was on. 1….2….

Moving over to a chair, grabbing a brush and holding a mirror in front of her.

It all seemed so wonderful the first time that Mark ever took me out. He was interesting and smooth. He was the first guy from Tinder who really made my legs wobble. I was jelly in his hands.

We went on date after date and I started to feel like life was really stepping up a gear. My heart was full of love and you stood there, watching me, deceiving and enticing me. I started to spend all of my time at his place. My housemate started to miss me. We joked about how I had practically become a married woman. Oh yes, you let me believe that life was perfect.

Putting the mirror down and gently rubbing her belly.

Then you really teased me. I fell pregnant and was caught up in a moment of surprise. But I was not upset. I didn’t mind that it happened by mistake. Me and Mark were so close that I could think of nothing better than having his child. So YOU let me think that I should go with it. I arranged my maternity leave and told the world my good news. I relished showing the scan on Facebook and tracking the size of the baby on an app on my phone. I glowed whenever I was given the opportunity to talk about how life-changing it all was. I spoke to other pregnant women and attended anti-natal classes. My days revolved around watching what I ate, reading about how to me a successful modern day mum and sending silly Gifs to Mark which always somehow related to babies and parenting. His responses were always sweet and appreciative and attentive.

Mark spent a few weekends away with work and he always brought back toys for the baby; thoughtful gifts that usually had some meaning or other. I believed that these toys would tell a story and that our story would be a fairytale one. Everything was going wonderfully…

Standing up again….Walking to the front of stage, now clenching tummy.

Shouting out loud and looking up above.

You took our baby away from us! You burst my balloon! You tried to drive me mad!

Crying and whimpering and walking towards back of stage, arms crossed, looking down.

So then I told him and soon he was gone. He immediately lost interest in me, the girl who could not keep his baby. Rather than supporting me and loving me, he moved on, looking for another mother. It turned out he did not have far to go as a friend of mine soon told me that he had been seeing a work colleague at the same time as me… That he had a double life… That his weekends away were with another woman. A bitch!

Stamping around and looking hostile.

And to add oil to the fire….. the bastard had got her pregnant…. She was having her baby even before mine would have been born.

You really knew how to shit on me didn’t you. You knew exactly what you were doing. You began to haunt me. You reminded me of the angel that I had lost. You started to keep me awake all night. You urged me to phone in sick from work. You made it hard for me to function. You wanted me to break down.

Sitting down on the floor again. Rocking slightly forwards and backwards.

I could hear you talking to me all the time. Reminding me what a loser I must have been. I could hear a baby crying every time I closed my eyes. I missed my mum. You played on that too. Just as I was returning to work again you sprang more bad news on me. (Pause) Mum had breast cancer.

You saved that up and served it just at the right time. I could see you rubbing your hands together and relishing the fact that you were able to compound my emotions. I was now a puppet and you were the puppeteer. I was putty in your hands. You spoke and I obeyed. You wanted me to destroy myself.

I moved in with mum, quit my job and felt as though I were a teenager again. Normally when you move out from you parents place, that is it and you are independent. But I backtracked. Even without mum’s illness I would have had to move out of my flat because the rent collectors were chasing me.

I was 25, in debt, and a right royal mess. Crying was the new laughing. Sadness was my new ‘go-to’ state of mind. I was at an all time low and mum was just sitting there, looking at me in bewilderment as she suffered from the pain of her radio therapy.

I began to take sleeping tablets. I still couldn’t sleep. You wouldn’t let me. I started to feel like you would not let me go…. Until I went. I wanted to go. I wanted to end it all. I started to plan the grand finale. I even wrote my goodbyes.

Closes eyes again.

Just when you thought you had told me what to do for one last time…

Standing up slowly but with a slight smirk on her face.

I was literally buying the paracetamol from the local shop…. And I bumped into John, an old school friend. He joked about the tablets.

‘Trying to do yourself in are you?’ he asked jokingly.

I laughed awkwardly.

‘There are easier ways.’

Those words hit me. His smile punched me. His tender way tripped me over.

He asked me to go for a coffee with him and catch up on old times. I figured I had nothing to lose. This was going to be the last ray of sunshine before I ended my shitty life.

Laughing and wandering around reminiscing.

But something had grabbed me. A light had lit at the end of a pitch black, fucked up tunnel.

We compared lives. John had had a shit time too. He had lost his father and his business had gone bust. He had taken anti-depressants and struggled to sleep for months. He too had been unlucky in love. Yet somehow he made light of it all. By the time it came to me telling him about my mess of an existence, he was actually able to make me laugh at how pathetic it all was. He told me about you! He told me how close he had come to ending it all because of the shit that you had been telling him. He made me see sense for the first time. But most of all, he made me feel at ease. That day I laughed like I had never laughed before.

Pacing the room now. Exuberant.

As soon as I stopped letting you control me… well, it was like a cloud had lifted. And bit by bit, with John there every step of the way. I regained control of my life. And that is when I told you were to go. I screamed at you for the first time and it felt bloody good.

‘Don’t tell me what to do!’

I dated John, met up with a counsellor, talked through my past, put the bad times in a bag and chucked the bag into the rubbish bin. I mean I literally wrote down everything that pissed me off and dumped it all in the bin. I started a new diary. I joined a writing class. And you know what… I started to feel happy again. Happiness became my ‘go-to’ state of mind and it was growing with momentum. I focussed on work and started to write for the local newspaper. I wrote about mental health and was able to discuss those ‘not to be mentioned’ subjects that everybody preferred to brush under the carpet.

Then things really got good. Mum was informed that her scan was all clear. John and I got engaged soon after and I bought my first house. He rented his out and we started to go on incredible holidays to Norway on cruises and for weekend breaks in Rome and Paris. I didn’t like the idea of getting too optimistic but I really did believe this was my second wind. I was lucky. Maybe I made my own sweet luck. One thing is for sure… from that moment in that shop when John laughed at my suicide plan, I was a changed woman. No longer a pathetic little girl. I was strong enough to beat you off with a stick.

Smiling widely and standing still, looking out at the audience.

And you know what? I got pregnant again. I have a beautiful daughter who is growing up quickly. She is my pride and joy and I am learning more about myself because of parenting.

I love my new life. If there is one thing I am sure of.

Turning nose up to a distant figure.

No matter how much you try to bully us. No matter how hard you try to knock us down.

I have learned that life is too good to throw away. I have learned that we cannot let YOU keep us to yourself. If there is one piece of advice I can give to anybody suffering like I did. Speak to people. Let out your worries. And my message for YOU is…

Don’t Tell Me What To Do!

Turning to the audience, sweetly.

Nobody should be alone. Reach out to someone. It is the best thing you can do.

Thank you for listening to my rant.

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