The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
Hi everyone - I will just warn you now… this is long!!
My name is Sophie, I'm 17 years old (sorry if you have seen me post anywhere that I'm 18 - I can't remember if I did or not but I think I may of lied about my age because I thought you had to be 18 to join ciao!). I live in Somerset with my boyfriend and my baby girl who is now 10 weeks old.
I'm not really too sure where to begin and I'm not the best writer in the world so I'll just start right back at the very beginning.
On the 9th December at 3.30pm in Exeter hospital - I came in to the world kicking and screaming - born by caesarean…awkward right from the start. I was born on my due date as my mum (Jenny) had a planned caesarean because I was breach. Right from this point onwards my life was just a whirlwind of events leading to who and what I am today.
Obviously I can't remember much of that part of my life up until I was about 4 but I know I went on many trips with my parents - Italy, Greece, France and probably more. Some might say that I was spoilt as a child however I wouldn't say I was spoilt, I would say that I was just very lucky - the difference being that I knew what I had and appreciated it; I didn't just take things for granted. I was a happy child always smiling and my parents always made sure that gave me all of their love. When I was three years old on the 28th October 1991 my little sister, Caroline Hannah, was born. I loved being around her and surprisingly I wasn't jealous of her at all. It sounds strange but even at that age when I was playing with my dolls, as little girls do, all I wanted and all I longed for was to be a mother and to have a family of my own.
Growing up I was very privileged both financially and emotionally, my parents were brilliant and very encouraging. My mum used to do everything she could to give me the best start in life - I had swimming lessons, riding lessons, days out, holidays and also all the little things which personally I think count for more such as cooking with my mum, going for walks with my mum, dad and sister and my mum helping me to read and write long before I started school.
I started school in September 1992 just before I was five. I loved school and I was really happy their. I had lots of friends and I was academically working at a much higher level then that of my age group. I used to look forward to going back to school all weekend - I really did love it.
When I was seven my mum and dad got me a horse (it wasn't actually ours we were just looking after it for a family friend), he was called Noddy because he constantly nodded his head. Everyday after school I would come home and ride him bare back for hours around our fields. So what I am trying to get across is that I had the best childhood that I could have and I couldn't have asked for more.
In May 1997 when I was nine everything changed. My mum and dad sat Caroline and I down and told us that they were going to split up and that soon we would be moving house. I had known that here had been an atmosphere between them for a while and had often heard them arguing when they thought I was asleep but I honestly thought that they would be together forever - I now realise that they must have just been trying to protect my sister and I and that they hadn't been happy for a while. My mum and dad were brilliant they explained to us that they would always love us and just because they didn't love each other anymore it didn't change the way they felt about us. I can just clearly remember looking at my dad who just sat there and reluctantly agreed with tears in his eyes. From then on things were different, my bedroom always needed to be spotless and there were always people coming in to our house and looking around - I just couldn't get my head around it. I was scared, I had always lived out in the middle of nowhere - surrounded by the fields and the fresh air, paddling in the river running between our fields but although I was young I knew all that was about to change. One year later they sold the house and we moved close to the city of Exeter. It was a nice house but it was noisy. To anyone else it would have probably seemed really peaceful but I was used to silence and only hearing the sound of the bats and the owls. It was different here and I didn't know what to make of it.
My dad moved into a little house in Broadclyst near to my school - he was so unhappy. He had lost everything and he desperately craved for his animals back. He had kept pigs, sheep and chickens for years but now that was all gone. He was just living alone in a village. We used to see him once a week and alternate fortnights. My mum used to drop us to his house and they would always ignore each other or make comments at each other. My mum was quite good really, she never once bad mouthed my dad to us but my dad was in a bad way. He had been suffering from depression and he was very bitter towards my mum. I used to spend all week looking forward to seeing him but when we got there we used to always have to make him take us shopping as there was no food. I remember that as early as ten years I was doing all the washing and making sure my sister was bathed and had clean school clothes to wear. My dad blamed my mum for the split and constantly told us that she had left him for a man she had met on the internet. I'm still not sure if there was any truth in what he was saying. My mum used to get quite upset as we used to go back to her and telling her what my dad had said. My mum always denied it and said that she met her new boyfriend about 5 months after they split up. I think deep down I no that she was telling the truth… my dad was so depressed I think he used this story as a way to justify the break up in his own mind. He just simply couldn't accept what had happened.
My mum's new boyfriend really tried with me and in reflection was really nice but, because of what my dad had been telling me, I was bitter towards him and blamed him for my mum and dad splitting up. I always secretly hoped that would get back together. My sister and I used to talk and try to keep alive the hope that we would be a family again. My mum used to say that when we were older we would realise that things would have been so much worse if they had stayed together - I just couldn't believe her. I felt betrayed. Like somehow they had let me down. My mum stayed with her new boyfriend for a year he was so lovely to me but he used to stick up for my mum when we were arguing and I didn't like it, I thought he should just mind his own business. I was gradually becoming more and more aggressive towards my mum. I would often swear at her and throw things at her. I remember one time she held my arms to restrain me and I pushed her over backwards causing her to crack her head open on a bookcase. She had to go to hospital and have metal clamps in her head. She even lied at the hospital and said that she had tripped over so that I wasn't taken into care. I used to often hear her on the phone to various organisations telling them that she couldn't cope anymore. It just hadn't
Pictures of All About Me
My baby on the day she was born
really hit me and as selfish as it sounds I just didn't care. As far as I was concerned she had ruined my perfect little life and I hated her for it. My mum and her boyfriend split up soon after the incident where I pushed her. He just couldn't handle all the grief and always seeing my mum so upset, he had no children of his own and he didn't know how to deal with me.Because of my anger and behavioural problems I started seeing a social worker. My mum found her for me and after everything my mum was still being so supportive of me. I think she understood that the break up had really hit me hard. Sometime between all this happening I had started secondary school and made lots of new friends. Many of whom lived near to my school and very close to my dad. The social work wasn't helping and the arguing and my hatred of my mum continued until one day I told her I was moving out. I was thirteen at the time. I had often threatened to move in with my dad before so I don't think she took me seriously until she saw me loading all my stuff into the back of my dad's car.
Whilst I was living with my dad she used to come round to see how I was and to bring more of my stuff in case I wanted it. I refused to see her. I didn't want to know she existed anymore. My sister continued to come and stay once a week but when my mum used to come to collect her, my sister used to cry and say she wanted to stay with me. My mum must have felt so bad - I remember her just walking out in tears so that we didn't see her cry. My mum was slowly losing everything.
My dad was still depressed and couldn't look after me. He used to work long hours and then not come home. Sometimes I would be on my own for a few days not knowing where he was or when or if he was likely to come home. He always did eventually. He always left money for food and things but I wanted him not his money. Because he wasn't home much I had no boundaries - it was then that the alcohol abuse started. I was only thirteen but was drinking every night and every morning before school. Sometimes even at school. Even after everything I still made sure I got myself up and went to school everyday. I went out when I wanted and came home when I wanted - sometimes I just didn't go home at all. This continued for about six months. I was still refusing to see my mum, I missed my sister so badly and I craved for my dad to show me the love and affection that he used to. My social work wasn't helping and I was also in counselling but nothing made any difference. Then one night something happened - this changed everything and indeed my whole perception of things. After this nothing mattered and life was no longer worth living.
It was a cold night on 24th October 2001 and my friends and I decided to camp out in a field near to my house. Needless to say my dad was out and didn't know where I was. This was one of the worst nights of my life. I had been drinking but wasn't drunk I just wasn't in the mood. My friends were always really helpful, they all knew of the emotional torture that I was putting myself through and always did their best to help. I was very popular at school and had lots of friends - it's a good thing because I don't think I would have got through it without them. Anyway we were just settling down to go to sleep when I heard someone come into my tent. My friend was asleep in another tent next to me and my other friend who was supposed to be sleeping in the tent with me had gone off somewhere to go to the toilet. I assumed that it must have been her coming back in and so closed my eyes again. Then I felt a hand on my leg and one on my arm. I knew who it was - I was even quite friendly with him. I didn't know him very well but he had always seemed fairly pleasant. He put his hand over my mouth and signalled for me to stay quiet. I was so scared I just froze. I tried to cry out but I couldn't get any sound out. I'm not going to go into graphic detail about what happened next as you can probably guess. Afterwards I waited about 10 - 15 minutes then just got all my things together and I just ran in the direction that I thought home was. It was pitch black and raining, I was so sore and bleeding but I didn't care I was just so scared. I ran for a while it seemed like forever but it must have only been a few minutes before I found my friend. I just grabbed her and kept running. I had been in such a hurry I didn't even take my tent I just left it there. We walked for a while and eventually came to a bus shelter close to my house. We just sat there for hours while I cried. She was so comforting. I told her everything. We eventually walked back to my house at about half 6 in the morning. It was still dark and I just longed to be at home and safe. When I got home I had a shower and just sat down in it and cried for about an hour. My dad was nowhere to be found so I begged my friend to stay with me. She stayed with me for 5 days until my dad finally came home. I think he noticed that something was wrong but he never asked so I never told him.
From then on things went from bad to worse and my life continued to spiral out of control. I began self harming. I used to drink and then cut myself. I knew things were getting worse when one day I did it while I was sober. My social worker knew that things were getting worse but because I had been seeing her for so long she had to refer me to someone else (some rule that they have so that their staff can't get too close to you). I just felt like no one wanted to know and like I was just getting pushed from person to person and no one was actually helping. After this in between various overdoses and suicide attempts I started sleeping around. I desperately craved love and affection and I thought that this was the way to get it. One night when I was fifteen, I was out drinking in a park with some friends. Things were just so bad I couldn't cope anymore. I had started missing school and I had nothing left. I climbed over the fence next to the park and lay on the train tracks. The barriers were down and I could see the lights of the train coming towards me but I didn't care I just wanted to end all the pain then I felt arms under me lifting me off the track and onto the platform. I was so upset and drunk I didn't know what was happening. I was told later by friends that they had tried to pull me off the track but I just wouldn't move so they had shouted to a man in a van that was stopped at the railway crossing and apparently he had come and lifted me off. I had cut my wrists and was covered in blood so the man called an ambulance for me and I had to spend 2 nights in hospital.
When I came home my dad was different he stayed at home and looked after me I thought things were looking up. This lasted about two weeks then things jut got too much for him again and things went back to how they were. I was still cutting myself and regularly overdosing on tablets but I kept getting taken back to hospital. The kept saving me and I didn't know why - I wanted to die and couldn't understand why they wouldn't let me. My counselling wasn't working and I was now seeing child psychologists and mental health professionals as well. At one point I was seeing 19 different proffesionals - yes 19! They were constantly writing to my doctor telling him that they thought I was depressed and needed antidepressants. My doctors kept refusing and telling me to continue with me counselling. This wasn't doing anything and eventually he gave in. I was diagnosed with depression and given antidepressants. I wasn't supposed to drink while I was taking these but I didn't care. Self harming made me feel like I still had some control over things in my life. The tablets made me drowsy but I liked being out of it - somehow the pain went away. This carried on and by this point I had pretty much stopped school altogether.
I was using my dad's house for parties every night. I ran away with my friends and was missing for 11 days. The police found us and took us home. Eventually after overdosing on paracetamols I was taken into hospital. I needed help but I didn't know where to get it from. Social services made my dad come and tell me that he didn't want me anymore and that I had to move back with my mum. I'm not sure if they made him or if it was his choice but it didn't matter to me. I knew he couldn't look after me but I wanted to stay with him. I'd only spoken to my mum about four times since I moved out and the only time I saw her was when I was in hospital. She used to always try but I refused to see her. I even told the nurses that I didn't want her near me and they made her leave. I feel so guilty now.
I moved back in with my mum (who had a new boyfriend and had bought a new house with him). I hated it there. I had a tiny room because my sister had the big room. They were having lots of building work done and I never got any privacy. Mums new boyfriend also stuck up for mum when I was aggressive to her and he was much firmer with me - after so long with no boundaries I simply couldn't handle authority. I was always quite close to my little sister but I was even becoming violent towards her. I used to hit her for no reason. I remember once she was in my room and she accidentally dropped one of my candles and the glass pot it was in smashed. I was so angry I picked up a piece of the glass and cut her leg. It makes me so upset and I hate myself for it.
I then started going out with my first proper boyfriend. Things were brilliant for the first 6 months and I moved in with him - I talked to him about everything and felt that he had helped to stop self harming (I realise now that this is how he wanted to make me feel - he wanted me to feel grateful and stay with him. I now know that I was strong and stopped because I wanted to!). Then he cheated on me and things changed. I think he felt that he was going to lose me. He was very insecure and controlling. He quickly became violent towards me and often beat me up and he also introduced me to some drugs - I had smoked pot before but nothing else - I know it was my decision and no one could force me to take them but he encouraged me and told me that "everyone did it!". One time he even put me in hospital with a broken nose. He didn't like it when I saw my family - I think he thought they had clocked what was happening. I think my mum knew what was happening and desperately tried to get me back but there was nothing she could do, I made excuses for him and told her to stay out of it. He used to kick and punch me he didn't care what he did. He would always say he was sorry and that it would never happen again and stupidly I would believe him time after time. I felt like I needed him and I felt like I owed him for helping me to stop self harming. He used to treat me really badly and make me stay in the house with him for days. He even locked me in so I couldn't see anyone. He didn't like me going to work so he used to ring up and tell them that I was ill. I let this carry on for about 7 months then when I was on holiday with my dad he slept with my supposed best friend. That was it - enough was enough. I realised I didn't need him anymore and I ended it. I moved back to my mums while he was out - he had locked me in so I had to climb out the window and pass all my stuff down to my mum He wouldn't accept it and rang me all the time. I was scared to leave the house because I knew my state of mind was too fragile and I didn't want to see him and let him persuade me that things would be different if I moved back Eventually he left me alone - I think he might have even moved away as I haven't seen or heard from him since!
After this I felt free and started building my confidence back up - my mum and I were still constantly arguing and I was becoming aggressive again. I moved out and went to live back in my dad's empty house. My dad had sorted himself out and moved about an hour away with his new wife and he was really happy for the first time in ages. He was trying to sell his house but let me stay there until he did. When he sold it I refused to go back to my mums. I was drinking quite heavily again and was now effectively homeless. I moved in with a friend close to Exeter city centre, here I got into all sorts of trouble with the police and even had to give evidence against my boyfriend at the time to do with joy-riding, assault and theft. He threatened to kill me and came after me - I was then put on a witness protection program meaning that he couldn't come anywhere near me and I had an officer to contact 24 hours a day. I was still only 16 but so much had happened to me already. I then met a new boyfriend and after being with him for just over a month I moved away with him to Edinburgh. This broke my parent's hearts. I stayed with him up there for about 3 months then rang my mum and begged her to pay for a ticket for me to come back. My new boyfriend was becoming controlling and I didn't want to go through that again. I missed home so much and it made me realise how much I still needed my mum. I got back thinking that nothing else could possibly happen to me because I had already been through everything - I then found out that my mum had cancer (non-hodgkins lymphoma) which is a cancer that effects the lymph nodes in the body. They thought that she was going to die. She had chemotherapy for a year and lost all her hair. It was horrible seeing her like that and I regretted everything - I thought if she died she would die thinking I hated her!
When I came home my mum and I got on much better - she gave me so much more freedom. I then met a man - he was 4 years older than me but we got on well. I was seeing him for about 4 months and then I found out that I was 2 months pregnant - I was scared but happy. I got used to the idea but just like everything else that was destined to go wrong as well. When I was three months pregnant I had a miscarriage - lying on the hospital bed while they scanned my tummy and told me that my baby had died was one of the worst experiences of my life. I couldn't believe this was happening just when things were finally getting better and I had a steady boyfriend. After this mine and his relationship deteriorated. He tried to be supportive but I felt really bad and blamed myself - now I know it wasn't my fault at all - it just happended.
I was feeling so down - my GCSEs had started and although I hadn't been to school for over a year and a half my mum paid £50 per subject for me to take them privately. I thought I would fail them all. One of my closest friends decided that we would go to 'run to the sun' 2005 in Newquay. This was a rushed trip as we only decided to go on the same day, we borrowed a tent but when we got there realised the tent was a fishing shelter and we couldn't fit in it. It was raining and everyone was trudging around in waterproofs and welly boots and there is me and my friend in stiletto Playboy shoes with huge Louis Vuitton suitcases. By the time all our clothes were in the tent we couldn't fit in - it was so funny. I had only had my miscarriage a week before and was still very upset - I started drinking again.
Then that night my life was to change for the good - I didn't know it at the time but going to 'run to the sun' was the best decision I ever made. I met someone there his name was Dan; he lived in Somerset which was about 45 mins away from where I lived. We got on really well and swapped numbers. I went home not thinking anything of it but a week later I got a text from him asking me to go and stay with him - I agreed and went to meet him. I stayed with him for the weekend and then he dropped me home. Whilst I was staying with him he got caught speeding (more about this in a minute). I went home on Monday and took 3 GSCE exams that week. I then stayed with him the next weekend and he asked me to move in with him. I said yes and rang my mum to tell her I wasn't coming home. My mum had met him and liked him - I think mums just know when someone is right for their daughter. I thought she would be angry because Dan was 4 years older than me but she was fine. I lived with Dan for 3 months then I found out that I was pregnant. I got my GCSE results and amazingly seeing as I had missed the last year and a half of school I got: English: A, Business Studies: A, Maths: B. Dan was in the process of getting a mortgage on his mums house but then his mum split up from her partner, moved back in and kicked us out. He then lost his driving licence for when he got caught speeding. Then we were homeless with no car. I was nearly 4 months pregnant and was getting lonely as I didn't know anyone. I couldn't get anywhere as we didn't have a car and I used to have to walk about 2 miles each way just to see a doctor or midwife every 2 weeks. I had to go into a homeless hostel which was living hell. Dan went to stay with a friend about 5 miles away and used to cycle to see me when he finished work - he works 2pm - 10pm everyday so he used to get to the hostel at 10.15pm and had to have gone by 11pm. I hated it, seeing him riding in the pouring rain just to spend time with me. I had quite a stressful pregnancy and I thought I had lost the baby a couple of times but everything was fine. I went back to college and took ICT level 1 and Level 2 and got 100% in both. I also took a course in admin and finished my diploma about 3 weeks before my baby was born. Then just before Christmas we found out that we were having a little girl - it seemed as though the sun had finally come out of the clouds and everything was going to be ok at last. We spent Christmas together staying with my mum. Then in March we got offered a house. I feel so lucky - yes I know we live in a council house but that's not by choice, it's because I'm too young to have my name on a mortgage and we want to buy our first house together. Then in January 2006 she was told that she was in full remission and on the mend. She is so strong she just kept fighting.
Meanwhile my mum got married. I am so grateful to her for everything she did for me and for not giving up on me as so many others did. I love my mum to bits and we get on so well now.
Then on 27th May (4 days late) my little girl was born at 5.28am. After a 32 hour labour just using gas and air then an emergency caesarean because her heart rate was slowing down I was exhausted but I was so happy - I felt like my life was now complete. Dan stayed with me the whole time, I was disappointed because I wanted a water birth but because of her heart I couldn't have one. I had to wait 45 mins before I saw my baby because I was being stitched up but when I finally held her and it was like no emotion could express and nothing I had ever felt before. All the pain I had felt was gone. I had the family I had craved for so long. We named her Lily Rose Lucia - she weighed exactly 7 pounds. I was so happy and proud. I went home the next day (stubborn as usual I discharged myself because they wanted to keep me in).
Lily was born on May 27th 2006 the same day that Dan and I met exactly 1 year before - I thought this was like fate. My mum and sister regulary come up to stay with us and I see my dad all the time - its amazing how things turn out! Both my parents love Lily and Dan and would do anything for them. I now have lots of friends up here and go to baby group with Lily every week.
Lily is now 10 weeks old and perfectly healthy. I love her so much. I get down sometimes because of the prejudices towards young mums - my boyfriend works at least 8 hours every day, we don't live on benefits (not that there is anything wrong with that I'm just saying) and we are happy so nothing else matters. So what I'm 17 I'm a brilliant mother and would do anything for my daughter. I am so determined to make sure she never goes through anything that I did.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, that life is just testing you and preparing you for the real thing, every tear you cry in this life is once less tear that you will cry in the next and I strongly believe that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
I wrote this to reflect on my life and to look back over the good time and the bad. I thought that I would share this story with you with the hope that it may help someone going through what I did. Thanks for reading - sorry it was so long.
Love Sophie x
This poem is for Dan:
One night I had a dream. I dreamt I was walking along the beach with the YOU.
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to me, and the other to the YOU.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned YOU about it:
"DAN, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
"My angel, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."