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I have been dating my boyfriend for almost two years, but I am unable to tell him things from before we met. The minor things are okay, things like “I was married for about a year” “my ex-husband used to drink”. Those things are fairly minor.

I tried to tell him about the other stuff, but my heart starts pounding and I find I can’t breathe very well, my fingers get pins and needles. Then I just can’t say it. I get so cross with myself, I feel like such a failure. How hard is it to open my mouth and speak? I was going to tell him, I had a few drinks to get the courage, but then I had too much, and I still couldn’t tell him.

I am shy, I don’t ever want to be the centre of attention, and I feel too exposed to say it in words. None of my friends who know, I did tell my husband, that wasn’t difficult, but that was a lot of years ago now. Why is it difficult now?

It all started so long ago. I was 14. I went for a walk on my own in the woods. I was going to start smoking, so I wanted to be away! I walked through the trees to a clearing and there was a jogger. He only had his trainers on. I guess most people who have any sense would turn right around and leave, back the way they came. But I didn’t have much sense. I carried on walking, straight past him. Close enough to touch, but he didn’t. I wasn’t going to let that put me off, I had a destination in mind, and that’s where I wanted to go.

Anyway, if it wasn’t for a man walking his dog the whole story would have a very different ending. I didn’t tell my parents when I got home, but I told my best friend at school. She persuaded me to tell a teacher, then my parents, then the police.

Its not a bad story, after all nothing happened. But why can’t I tell him? Why does it play on my mind? Why does it matter?

I had my first boyfriend when I was 15, he was 18 and he raped me.

But I didn’t understand what it was, I just thought, “this is how its supposed to be.” I didn’t know I had a choice. It did mess my head up. When he dumped me, I started self harming. I didn’t understand what it was at the time, why cutting myself made me feel better, but it did. I never told anyone about the cutting, I had long sleeves, so no one saw.

I told my next boyfriend “I don’t want to” and he didn’t, but it still went down-hill from there. Sometimes it was okay, but other times he wanted the me I was before, the happy me. That girl was gone.

I wasn’t happy for a long time. I cut myself and burned myself, but never told anyone. I overdosed twice and went to hospital once. I had sex with a lot of people. I didn’t love myself so why should anyone else?

I did find someone to love. He loved me too, in his own way, after all we did get married. He left me. I had a young daughter, and it was so hard on my own. I had to have a job, which was good because it was probably the only thing that kept me sane. I went out for a rare evening with work. I met a man who I knew from my sleeping around days, and we went to my house. I didn’t want to have sex, but he did. It wasn’t rape, I could have screamed or pushed him off.  I asked him to leave, then I had a bath, at 2 am.

Then I meet my fella. He’s nice. He doesn’t want me to send him pictures of myself with no clothes on. He doesn’t want sex all the time. He comes to visit me and he give me a cuddle. That’s what I’ve been looking for all this time, cuddles.

We won’t ever live together, or get married, or have children together. But I know one day, that is what I will want. I’m 22 years younger than him. Sometimes I think of what I’m missing out on – a family.  But then I think of what/how I used to be. I was unhappy. I was sad. But now most of the time, I’m okay.

I still can’t tell him anything though. I can’t tell anyone.