Story By: Jamie Meyer
Life is a series of choices. The results and reasoning of which, do not tend to appear linearly. As we expect them. Ultimately, it is a combination of the lessons we choose to learn and the actions we choose along the journey, that determine the result. There is no timeline of accumulation. This four part series, is part of my story of choices. The Centre of the Earth.
Growing up is hard. There is no denying that. We all experience challenges in this phase of our lives. They just appear in different clothing. Mine presented in a few ways. From the beginning of Grade School, I was a bully magnet. No matter how many different States we moved to, or which grade I was in. The bully always found me. From being excluded. To having people falsely friend me, only to hurt me more intimately. Heinous rumours. And getting into physical fights. I had it all. So much so, that when my younger sister came to me for help with being teased. I couldn’t see past the oppression I was living, to even consider helping her. This was life right up until I graduated.
Now a lethal combination is being bullied and being the eldest child of 4. If you are an eldest child, you will understand the additional level of expectation that comes with the position. You must lead by example. You must be responsible. You must be mature. You must help. You must do well at school. The list could endlessly go on. At some point in my life, though, the expectations of my bullies and adults, ceased to be an external pressure. It was I who had chosen this suffocating role outline. It was part of who I was and who I must live up to. It was officially part of my DNA.
I had always felt a sense of general anxiousness. Being amid triggers was one level of anxiety. Being removed from some semblance of control over those triggers, was a different level all together. When my Mum would keep me home from school. I couldn’t bear the thought of letting everyone else’s imagination and words run wild. Without my being there to intercept it. I would work myself up into a state. One time, she even caught me in the foetal position. In the corner of my room, crying. The worst part, she didn’t understand my circumstances. She laughed. Thinking it was funny I was so addicted to school.
With no real friends to bless myself with. Confusion whether I was a child or an adult. And the forever ominous concern of how to be acceptable. I became sick at 13. I remember the day distinctly. I was in the All-Schools Swimming Carnival. The 100 Metre Relay. I had been feeling rather nauseous all day. Thinking it was nerves, I dismissed it. My race was at 8pm. By the time it came around, I was at the end of the pool just about ready to hurl. But I refused to give in. So I took my place on the podium. Waiting for my Team mate to touch the wall. In my head I was screaming at her to hurry. Don’t panic. Don’t hurl. Breathe. Don’t breathe that deep you’ll hurl. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hold on.
I beat my Personal Best that day by a country mile. I didn’t even wait to see if we won. I hopped from the pool and ran as fast as possible wet, to the bathroom. From that day on, I couldn’t smell food without turning pale. Or feeling nauseous. Eventually, nausea was a permanent part of my everyday life.My Mum took me to every possible Doctor. I had every conceivable test. They couldn’t determine what was wrong. They sent to me to a Psychologist. It had to be mental, because there was no physical explanation. Yet my Psychologist determined I was more stable and cognitively aware at 14 than most adult patients. Another dead end. So, I endured.
Then at 16, I met my future husband. He was 18. He had not a care or responsibility in the world. He had a license. A car. Freedom. He became my escape from the oppression that I had created of my life. At first, he was everything I needed. That quickly faded. He became another source of expectation that I chose.
I was young. This was my first relationship. I was completely naïve to the subtle increases in manipulation. The processes of gas lighting. I thought it was completely normal. Acceptable. I came from a family where everyone found their soul mate before the age of 20. Each of those relationships experienced its own difficulties. And I learnt from this, that I had to face mine. Except none of those historical relationships involved my future husband.
At the 2 year mark, I needed out. My family was moving interstate. So instead of breaking up with him. I chose to follow them and be understanding that he wouldn’t leave his family. I should have been brave. I should have been courageous. When he said that he was going to come with me. I should have screamed no! I chose instead to feel stuck. Obligated by his choice and my lack of courage. I surrendered.
My anxiety hit an all new high. I gained 50 lbs. I was forever on the verge of exploding. I was entirely uncomfortable inside myself. Everything was wound so tightly. He’s nasty and manipulative behaviour found a new level of low. Yet I would pretend outwardly that everything was perfect in my life. And make excuses for our interactions. Taking the blame. Focusing more on my own lack of self-worth rather than recognizing that I could step out of these unpleasant circumstances. In year 5, I tried to escape again. He had wanted to move back with his family. I agreed. On the provision I would return first. Get myself settled in a job and find somewhere to live. Just before I left, he proposed. It was as though I had left my body. Completely numb. I again chose to be obligated. And accepted his proposal.
Constant distress is what I would describe my physical state after that. My nausea intensified. I would suffer from headaches. Feel dizzy. I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. For those you who don’t know, this is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to dizzy spells (vertigo) and hearing loss. It was not what I had. My symptoms just fit the description. In year 8, I woke up with a lump between my left shoulder and my neck. I was unabashedly unwell. Again, my Mum made me see a Doctor. Worst case it was Cancer, best case they didn’t have an explanation. They couldn’t find an explanation. At this point I wish someone had sent me to a Psychologist.
By the time year 9 came around, I was a physical and emotional mess. The world around me continued to give me situations and reasoning to remove myself from this relationship. These circumstances. Instead, I chose to endure. Numb. This year I got married. Regardless of my state. I decided that if I was going to be married, it was natural to have a family. My body was having none of that. Having been martially raped. There was too much anxiety in trying to conceive. In the end, it was the idea of bringing an innocent child into this environment that finally. After all this time gave me the courage and bravery I was so desperately in need of. To make a choice. After being married for almost a year. Crying hysterically on the bathroom floor for most of that time. I choose me. I told my husband I wanted a divorce. I never looked back. My nausea, my dizzy spells, disappeared the next day. I never again felt anxious. 50 lbs just melted away as though it never existed.
Then, I went in search of myself.
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