I definitely used moving to London as my escape, my new start. I thought I could be exactly who I wanted to be, and everything would be so much better than it had been. Of course, in reality that wasn’t what happened. The day I moved into halls, I was terrified. I knew nobody and I was hundreds of miles from home and my friends. I so badly wanted to be the popular girl who had lots of friends and did terribly exciting things, but I was scared and hid in my room for the first two days. It was silly, but I was so worried that I wouldn’t be accepted, that everyone else would be cooler and funnier and prettier than me, and that I’d end up like in school, on the outside looking in. I was still holding on to all the hurt and damage from when I was younger, and it was bringing a little dark rain cloud with me on my new adventure. I was eventually dragged out to the SU by an old friend who happened to be at the uni, and thus threw myself head first into drinking, partying, and a lot of pretty poor decisions. My first term, and most of my first year, consisted of going out 2 or 3 times a week, getting drunk, going home with guys and then feeling really rubbish about myself. I went shopping far more than I should have, burning through my loan and overdraft. I was still deeply fundamentally unhappy, but I was trying to mask it by ignoring things and becoming someone I didn’t really like too much.
I hung out with a lot of people, some who were more negative influences than friends, but I did make some friends in those first few weeks and months. Some of them I still class as friends now, and I am grateful that they became part of my life. However one of the biggest mistakes I made was putting guys above a lot of other things in my list of priorities. I am not proud of it at all, but for a long time I sort of believed that if I was ‘with’ somebody it would make me better, and also make people view me better. I was not in a good head space for a relationship, and I bounced from one guy to another, with the vain hope that ‘this one will be different’. I got too attached too quickly, and then was left in the wreckage when it inevitably went wrong. In trying to feel better all I ended up really doing was hurting myself and doing more damage. I know that some of my friends got fed up of seeing me do the same thing over and over again, and also I know that I neglected people sometimes in favour of guys. I was single for most of my first year, but had lots of flings, and then had 2 fairly long term relationships (both nine months). I look back at this part of my life and I realise that I was really broken, and hurting and that my way of coping was to try and find someone to fill the gap of family for me. Obviously it didn’t work. Nobody can love you if you don’t love yourself, and I was my own worst enemy. I told guys all sorts of things about me straight away, but it wasn’t because I trusted them too easily, it was because I was trying to push them away before I could get hurt. My defense mechanism was to show how ‘crazy’ and ‘messed up’ I was, and then hope that they would either be fine with it and make everything better because they could ‘deal with me’, or else run a mile. Most simply used me before they ran, guys being guys and everything. I have been ignored, lied to, left for other people, and generally felt like there was something inherently wrong with me.
The other stupid thing I did was not acknowledging my problems and emotions. When I got here I was hurting from a lot of stuff, and I only collected more from all the drama and mishaps I got into, but I mostly tried to push it away and keep going, thinking that I would be fine if I just pushed through it. I sometimes cried about stuff when I was drunk, but most of the time I was doing my best to appear put together, grown up and happy. I barely went back to Bristol to visit, trying to forget all of the struggles I had gone through, and also because every time I went to visit my Mum she was getting worse, with every trip she was in a different hospital or home, and I didn’t know if she would tell me that the nurses were trying to kill her or that she thought someone had been watching her. It was utterly heartbreaking to see her deteriorating before my eyes, and the Mum that I used to know shrinking away. I was trying to make a life for myself, and being too attached to Bristol and all of the bad memories was the last thing I thought I needed. I have never had that sense of family that most people do, I didn’t grow up with cousins or aunties and uncles around, so I just didn’t have the closeness. If I were to go all psychologist on myself I would say that most of my issues stem from that fact, but I’m no therapist so who knows!
The point is, I was just floating along on the sea of life, but I was so close to being pulled under the water by a big enough wave (what a nice little analogy…)