Deep down, everyone wants to believe that they are tough. Well, most people anyway. Tough, Hardcore, Unbreakable, Tough Cookie, Independent whatever you call it.
Unfortunately my whole family believes I'm that - because of what I've done from the past; being the "unwavering pillar of strength".
And I suppose it's hard for them to see my crumble, really crumble, for the first time. Crumble in the sense of "stoning", crying loudly and for long periods in the shower hoping the full blast of hot water will drown my grief, unable to eat, sleep, read, watch TV, and the worst of all unable to step out of the house. And for the first time in 7 years (I've been working since I was sixteen - most of the money went to her anyway), I'm unable to work - unable to support myself financially. And it's the hardest blow I've had to take.
So the whole of November till Mid December was a horrible living nightmare. From panic attacks (as in ones that lasts for a whole half an hour) to night terrors with a capital T, to hearing about more sexual assaults in the newspaper to me being mentioned (of course not my name) in the Ten news to me wrongly accusing of some man whom I thought resembled him (he tried to make a pass at me) and got himself strapped down on the ground and interrogated and his house searched. Later my mom joked that I wouldn't be able to be picked up by a guy without having the whole police force on him.
And they've been so great. I've had to go to my local Hornsby police to do some stuff and here you've got big tough burly looking guys taking care of me - offering me krispy kreme donuts and tea and doing imitation of meerkats just because they find them cute.
Pete, my favourite guy down there left me with this bit of conversation I won't forget
Me: If you catch this... (me trying not to swear) guy, will you give him a punch for me?
Pete: Oh honey, I'll give him two *smiles at me* they tell us to bring him in, but they never tell us how *grins wickedly*
And with that, he escorts me to my mom's waiting car.
I suppose I'm lucky to have great supports. Especially with John, I know he might have tip-toed out of certain boundaries by calling me often and checking up on me - out of which I've asked him if I'm stepping out of line by relying on him so much, after all he is a university counsellor and there are ethical limits imposed on them.
To which he said, no you haven't done anything wrong. You chose me as your support and you trust me and I'm here - I'm going to be at Macquarie indefinitely I think. I'm not running away or pushing you away.
I don't know why, but that helped me so much.
Being strong or tough is not about not letting emotions show. Not crying or thinking you can handle it all by yourself. It's about acceptance. It's about being yourself permission to be vulnerable for the time being, it's a transition, a phase. You don't have to be tough every single minute of the day. It's okay to let down your guard and seek help. John has taught me that (after much prodding I must admit). In fact, it's the best thing you can possibly do... as long as you choose your moments wisely.
So my whole world seems upside down.... and then somehow, and probably, when you least expect it, it rights itself again.
I'm waiting for that.