Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her mother, her dad and two sisters. While things seemed perfect on the surface, it certainly wasn’t. The little girl was yearning to be loved by her mother and needed her to just be a mum. But unfortunately, this love was never there. It wasn’t available, this little girl learnt from an early age that she must be unlovable.  This little girl was longing to be loved and needed desperately to belong somewhere, anywhere. Somewhere she could feel safe and secure.

Eventually she thought she had found that place. A place that felt like home when home wasn’t safe. But that was soon taken away from her. A dark storm soon hit and knocked her for six. The wounds of the storm couldn’t be seen, they were hidden deep inside. The little girl felt scared and ashamed. She thought she was too blame for being out in the storm. She didn’t tell anyone about the damage the storm had caused.  Time passed when she found herself a little boat and rowed it far away from the damage. She thought that if she forgot about the storm it would disappear and her wounds would go away.

However, what she didn’t realise was that her boat was very broken and needed repair. It needed love, attention and someone to help put it back together. But nobody was there to mend the little girls boat. She knew if the boats around her saw her wounds it would destroy the wonderful harbour they visited most weekends. She couldn’t bear being the one responsible for taking this away from the other boats. Therefore, to survive the little girl blocked out the painful memories of the storm so she could keep her little sail boat afloat. It was her brains way of protecting her.

After the storm, the little girl wasn’t the same. She no longer cared about the world or herself and the ocean soon got very rough. The little girl was out of her depth. She was all alone on a journey of self destruction. All she wanted was to find her happy place, a place of safety and comfort.

Unfortunately, this happy place was nowhere in sight. The little girl was unaware that she was rowing in the direction of another storm, a bigger storm. Her boat had already been damaged from the previous storm but things were about to get a lot worse. This storm completely tore her boat to shreds. The little girl lost control of her boat and it sunk deep beneath the sea. The little girl was drowning unable to breathe with no life jacket in sight. The only way she survived was by swimming towards a cave she could see in the distance.

At first the cave was safe and sheltered the little girl from the storm. It provided the little girl with comfort and the protection she so desperately needed. The little girl could finally rest and be protected from the fierce storms. At the beginning the cave was warm and helped the little girl when she needed it most. But the cave soon started to show its true colours. It started to become dark and cold. It wasn’t safe anymore. The little girl was slowly dying in the cave.  She was trapped and all alone. She was starving of oxygen starving of life. She was wasting away and living a nightmare inside the life sucking cave. She knew that if she stayed in the cave it would eventually kill her.

The little girl started to dream about life outside the cave. She so desperately wanted to venture out of the cave but she was terrified. She was scared that another storm would hurt her again. Her boat had already endured so much hardship and she didn’t trust that another storm wouldn’t touch or hurt her again.

However, being in the cave was also hurting the little girl. She was becoming weaker and weaker. She wasn’t the girl she was before entering the cave. She was now being tormented by the cave. She was living a nightmare unable to escape the insidious demands the cave was placing on her fragile body and mind.  It was controlling the girl’s every move, trying to convince her she was worthless and a failure, just as the storms had done previously. The girl couldn’t do anything right and the cave was determined to kill her. The cave had completely brainwashed the girl into thinking she was a bad girl and that she needed to waste away. The pain was so unbearable that the girl saw no other option than to try and end her life. She didn’t want to die she just wanted the pain to stop so she could escape the torture inside her head.

At the beginning the cave was a protective mechanism and had an important role to shielding the girl from the storms but soon became just as abusive. The girl was stuck in the cave where her soul and emotions were numbed and deeply suppressed. She was a walking corpse filled with self disgust and hatred. All she wanted to do was punish herself and her body took the heaviest blow. It was easier to punish herself rather than the real offenders, the evil storms.

But as time went on the girl discovered the only way to escape the hell she was in wasn’t to end her own life. It was to walk out of the cave and face her pain head on. Suppressing her pain and allowing the cave and its painful memories to kill her wasn’t an option anymore. The cave no longer served a purpose. It was merely robbing her of a life she so desperately wanted. A life of freedom, validation and truth.

It was time to stand up and confront the storms that had broken her boat many years earlier.  But she couldn’t do this alone. She needed to get help and support. She needed to speak up and find her voice.  A voice that had been silent for so many years.  A voice that had never been heard. She was determined to find her sense of justice and put things right. She knew stormy waters were ahead but if she could find the right anchors of support she would remain solid and grounded.

The little girl learnt a great deal from being hit by two devastating storms and being trapped in a dark horrible cave. She learnt what a little fighter she was and how strong she had become. Despite having a broken soul, she dug deep and fought against paralysing fear and anxiety. She learnt the importance of speaking up and telling her truth. Even though her voice trembled she had the courage to put a wrong right.

The little girl paid a huge price for what the storm had done but now it was time to unsink and rebuild her shattered boat.
Piece by piece the little girl, now a woman started mending her boat.
She made it stronger and stronger each day.
It was exhausting and took a lot of commitment and dedication. At times, the woman hated the way her boat was taking shape but she was persistent. Deep down she knew a strong healthy boat was the only way she would find her happy place. The place she had been searching for her whole life was waiting for her if was could rebuild and refuel her boat.  She realised it didn’t matter how her boat looked on the outside. What mattered was nurturing her boat and all it had been through. It had endured more than most yet still managed to survive which takes incredible strength and courage. Yes, her boat had battle scars and wounds but they are a part of the boats character and tells a story of survival. She no longer wanted to be ashamed of them nor see them as a sign of weakness. The woman was also learning that she needed to be kind and compassionate towards her boat instead of punishing it. It had been through enough without her hating on it too.

For such a long time, the woman had hated her boat because she felt it had let her down. It did not fight hard enough against the abuse of the storms. She thought her boat had failed to protect her and the anger associated with this was crippling and taking its toll.

With a lot of hard work, the little girl was finally beginning to see that the boat wasn’t to blame, but the storms were. The boat was young and innocent. The storms were much bigger and stronger than the boat and she had no way of stopping the storms. No way of controlling what the storms would do and the damage they would inflict on the young boat. They were just too powerful.

After months and months of continuous hard work and repair, the boat was ready to sail again.  It was looking and feeling stronger than ever before but the woman was still terrified. She was scared to test the waters again and put her boat into the ocean that had caused so much damage. She was terrified of the rocky and turbulent sea. She knew the potential risks of being in the water but she also knew of all its wonder and beauty.

Slowly but surely the woman started putting her boat in the water. The woman was then introduced to a local boat mechanic. He reassured the woman that he would look after her boat because that was his job. He had a duty of care to ensure she would be safe whilst at sea. He said it was important for her to make connection with the water again and he would help her boat sail again.

At first the mechanic seemed very supportive of the woman. It took a lot of courage for the woman to trust again but she grew to trust the local mechanic. She started  to open up about her boats past trauma at sea. This took immerse bravery because it meant being vulnerable.

But as time went on the mechanic started saying and doing things that made the woman feel uncomfortable and unsafe in her own boat. It brought up memories and feelings of when she was a child. She was now back in the darkness of the storms. It was like she was drowning in the pain all over again. She had finally had the courage to get back in the water and the person who is supposed to take care of her boat used his position of authority to cross boundaries that should never be crossed. The mechanic had a duty of care to ensure the woman was safe at sea but he abused this. He took her back to that same dark place she experienced as a child.

The damage caused was deeper than it appeared. It was the mechanics words that crushed the woman’s spirit. She finally had the courage to open up about the abusive storms, to then have the mechanic minimise and belittle her experience. He made judgements about her inability to move forward and as he put it, her experience wasn’t that bad and didn’t warrant this type of response. To have yet another person make her feel worthless just confirmed her core belief, that she was unlovable and this was her own fault. She blamed herself and couldn’t believe she had trusted him. His comments were soul destroying.
He dismissed, minimised and exploited the woman’s vulnerabilities.
It took so much strength to expose her vulnerable side too then be judged and made to feel worthless left a permanent scar.
She vowed never to be vulnerable again. Her protective wall just became even thicker.

The girl grew up hearing sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you. Well that’s not true words are extremely powerful and damaging. The words spoken by the mechanic were very damaging and a real barrier to her moving forward.  They were probably harder to deal with than his actions because they were now infused in her mind and increased the shame she had.

It also reaffirmed what the woman had believed for so long, that she was just overreacting. That what had happened to her and her boat wasn’t that bad and she was just being overdramatic. The shame and self- blame the woman had been working so hard to resolve was back with a vengeance stronger than ever before. She felt incapable of healing and completely alone. She wanted it all to end and again thought about retiring her boat so it could finally rest and be pain free.

But something deep within stopped her. She knew it wasn’t her boat’s  time to retire. There were many more adventures to be had on the open seas.  Sure, her boat had been hit by yet another storm but the woman wasn’t going to let it sink this time. Why? Because the woman now had the tools available to her to prevent her boat from sinking. She had learnt how to remain afloat despite her boat being ripped apart again.

It would have been easy for the woman to let her boat sink and go back to the dark cave but the woman wasn’t going to let the storm break her. The mechanic forced her into the storm and that wasn’t right. He needed to be held accountable for his actions and for this to happen the woman had to stay afloat and fight. Sinking to the bottom of the ocean and disappearing wasn’t an option this time. The woman and her battered but not beaten boat were ready to battle the big ocean.

The woman knew this wasn’t going to be easy. She was a small fish in a huge ocean and it wasn’t without risk. The mechanic was very much apart of the ocean and was well- respected in the ocean community. The woman on the other hand could be seen ‘damaged goods’ and therefore wouldn’t be taken seriously.

However, the woman knew in her heart she had to try.

For so many years after the storms, the woman continued to fight. She worked hard on healing her wounds and sought help to do this.  Her main support came from her boats anchor. The anchor kept her boat stable and grounded amidst the recurring memories that resurfaced after the storms had disappeared.  When things got rocky and memories resurfaced and the anchor was there to prevent the woman from drifting out to sea and back to the cave.  The anchor helped the women to stay afloat and work through the demons left behind by the storms. The anchor was there when the boats mother wasn’t and the anchor became her motherly figure.

Unfortunately, by taking on the mechanic the woman lost the anchor of her boat. The mechanic threatened to dismantle her boats anchor if she spoke up.  He knew just how important the anchor was to the woman. He needed to stop the woman exposing his inappropriate behaviour, so he threatened to ruin this connection.
This was extremely hard decision for the woman to make. Either way, she thought she was going to lose. Her choice was to do nothing and let the mechanic get away with all the damage he had caused or speak up and lose her main anchor of support.
In the end, the woman had to do what was right. SHE FOUGHT.
The mechanic sure has hell wouldn’t have anticipated the women to fight but he underestimated her strength and courage. The anchor played such an important role in keeping the woman’s boat grounded and it was a significant loss.

This was a loss was a loss she knew well. One she had experienced before and the pain and grief of losing her anchor was extremely traumatic. But the woman also felt she had to stop the mechanic from hurting anyone else.
In the end, she knew the only way her boat could sail again was by speaking her truth and following her heart.
It was time to regain her power and sense of self.

She fought to make sure the mechanic was finally held accountable for his actions.
She drew on her inner strength and bravery reported the mechanic to authorities. While unfortunately, she couldn’t control what had happened to her but she did now have the power not to let it destroy her. She was determined to find herself again.
Deep down the only way to do this was to tune into her heart and trust herself whole heartedly.
She also knew the key to her healing came from within.
She had to speak her truth and by showing herself the love and compassion she so rightly deserved.
She knew she would be okay.
Self-love, compassion and acceptance were the ingredients that would finally set her free. She was determined to find inner peace and calm again. And that is exactly what she did.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived.

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