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Badges of honour

(14 Posts)
anorak Sat 16-Aug-08 14:30:28

My hair is growing back after chemotherapy and people keep saying 'oh, you've had all your hair chopped off.' I thought I would be self-conscious in replying 'actually, what you saw before was a wig. I had chemotherapy and my hair fell out - now it's growing back again'. But I actually feel fine about it. I realised that I see my cancer treatment as a badge of honour - one of life's battles I've tackled as best I could.

And it isn't the only one. I've also tackled a childhood with an alcoholic mother, an abusive relationship, single motherhood with debt, an unusual and shocking custody battle for my children, and the loss of both my daughters to their unfit father (one came back).

Reading threads on mumsnet I come across this sort of thing every day - but not everyone views these things the way I see them. Some see themselves as victims or are ashamed of things that are not their fault. They feel unlikeable, unloveable.

I see women who are not blank sheets of paper, but have many interesting things written on them, women who are wiser and stronger because of their sufferings and have much to offer others with their insight and experience.

Please post here and talk about your badges of honour and how wearing them has made you the strong, experienced, multi-layered person you are today.

CaptainFabioHiltsTheCoolerCat Sat 16-Aug-08 14:35:19

<applauds anorak for terrific post and just in general>

SoupKitchen Sat 16-Aug-08 15:05:20

Good for you anorak

I survived my mothers sudden and premature death at 43.
It made me determined not to waste my life and count every experience as valuable even if not pleasant.

cyteen Sat 16-Aug-08 15:20:37

I have a large tattoo on my back, covering everything from neck to hips. It is of a fiery goddess-type figure sweeping up from a city. It's not finished yet, because of life stuff getting in the way (for both me and my artist) but one day it will be.

Getting such a huge piece of ink was a really big deal for me - I know lots of people have struggled to understand why I did it, what it means, why I would 'put myself through that', and I can understand their views. The thing is, after waiting for inspiration for my backpiece for years, it finally came one night as I was leaving the hospital where my adored older brother had just been diagnosed with cancer. All of a sudden I saw this picture in my mind and knew that that was the one, that was what I needed to put on myself to remind myself that every hideous dark time I've been through has only made me burn brighter and stronger. I found the right artist, she was totally up for it and she drew the picture I had in mind but couldn't produce myself.

Every time I see the flash of fire over my shoulders it gives me strength to deal with my mum's death, my brother's death, all the shit that losing people has given me. My backpiece is my guard - she shields and strengthens me. I'm proud to wear this piece because I respect my artist and her work, and because it says something important about me, to myself, that I was finally able to be myself. It's taken time to learn to live with such a big change in my appearance, but it's time well spent and I am proud to be who I am, how I am.

(Also it looks pretty )

CvQ Sat 16-Aug-08 15:23:09

i have physical scars from being raped.they prove i survived[smile

anorak Sat 16-Aug-08 15:26:51

'Every hideous dark time I've been through has only made me burn brighter and stronger' - oh yes, that's exactly what I meant!

Because every time we go through a 'hideous dark time' and come out the other side, that becomes another thing we are no longer scared of. We know we can handle it.

Mamazon Sat 16-Aug-08 15:31:56

fabulous post Anorak.

I have had some pretty rubbish times in my life and try to look at them as you do. its not easy but i feel if i can out them into perspective..they were events that are over now, i no longer need to be afriad or worried, then i can move forward and not allow myself to feel bogged down by them.

Well done you, and all who are on this thread.

anorak Sat 16-Aug-08 16:40:24

Yes Mamazon. Wouldn't it be great if after a traumatic time a woman could look at herself with admiration for her strength in getting through it, instead of the demoralisation that happens too often? We should wear our stripes with pride and confidence.

mamalovesmojitos Mon 18-Aug-08 23:23:10

fabulous thread. you are all so brave. it's humbling.

anorak Tue 19-Aug-08 15:35:52

Come on, ladies! Let's hear your inspiring stories! smile

MaryAnnSingleton Tue 19-Aug-08 15:37:40

great thread anorak - well done !

MaryAnnSingleton Tue 19-Aug-08 18:47:29

another thread,about turning 30, has prompted me to think that I missed a big chunk of my twenties battling with OCD (I had it very severely) and spent much time in therapy which was awful and in psych. hospital for a year - that was a really interesting experience and taught me a lot and I met many incredible and complex people,all dealing with all kinds of mental traumas - somehow I survived it and came out the other end,hopefully a better person.

anorak Tue 19-Aug-08 20:57:16

You know, MaryAnn, that I find my friends who have had therapy have much more understanding of their own behaviour than those who haven't. You could say, they are more mentally healthy, because of what they have learned in therapy. I am a great believer in it.

MaryAnnSingleton Tue 19-Aug-08 21:31:04

thanks anorak, I certainly was less empathetic before therapy and being in hospital.

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