“My Gutsy Story®” by Gillian Jackson
The complexities of keeping secrets can be a heavy weight to carry around; a burden which grows heavier with passing time and, like telling lies, compounds as the secret ages. When I reached the grand old age of fifty, my life began to crumble and my secret came out. As a little girl, I was sexually abused by an ‘uncle’ over a period of three or four years, abuse which began when I was about four years old.
I cannot claim that my life had been completely ruined by this experience. The inbred ‘survivor instinct’ has given me a degree of strength and I entered into a happy marriage and gave birth to two wonderful children. I also enjoyed a successful career as the owner and manager of a Day Nursery in my home town in North East England. So why did I crack after over forty years of silence? With hindsight I can identify a number of incidents which were perhaps triggers, bringing old and painful memories to the fore. Working in childcare, it was inevitable that at some point I would encounter instances of abuse. Generally I could be objective and professional in such cases but in the later years of my work at the nursery we cared for a little girl who presented physical signs of sexual abuse. It was an upsetting case and I floundered somewhat in my responsibilities, passing the case on to my deputy which turned out to be the correct thing to do. But the incident forced me to acknowledge that I had buried trauma from my own childhood which I had been hiding from myself as well as the rest of the world. I sank into depression and my usual ‘pull yourself together’ attitude failed me. This coincided with a medical problem which forced me to retire from my work in the nursery, a career choice which had probably been shaped by my early life experiences. I can also now acknowledge that I had been an over protective mother. Not to the point of being suffocating, but I trusted no-one to care for my own children as well as I could. Fortunately they have grown into happy, well-adjusted adults of whom I am extremely proud.
Another significant contribution to eventual breakdown was a new role in life as a grandmother. This seems a contradiction, as becoming a grandparent is one of life’s best experiences. I found it every bit as emotional as becoming a mother had been twenty eight years previously. All my maternal feelings were again brought to the fore, coupled with that overwhelming protective instinct that almost knocks you off your feet. It was a wonderful time in many respects and I had the privilege of attending my first grandchild’s birth, amazing. But I felt lost, scared and fearful for the future.
I am fortunate in having an extremely caring husband who played an enormous part in helping me overcome my negative childhood experiences. He is the one in whom I first confided and who persuaded me to seek help from my GP, the start of confronting my past and moving on with my future. And so began the path of recovery
It was hard to be honest with my doctor but I soon learned that this was the only way he could help me and eventually I was referred to a counsellor who suggested I would benefit from group sessions. Shock! Horror! It had taken me forty something years to get to this point, did she know what she was asking? The answer to this yes and I began a journey which was to change my life, a journey which has been an education. I know and understand myself much better now than I have ever done. I don’t like everything I’ve found out about myself, but I have a greater understanding about why I’m the way I am, and why I do what I do. In short, I’m more at ease with myself than I have ever been.
Enough of the negatives. How can I be so positive and fulfilled today? Well, as part of the healing therapy I decided to try writing, a pleasure which I had never had time to pursue. I scribbled furiously, recording all those painful memories and my shifting emotions and then took great pleasure in tearing the pages into tiny pieces, a truly cathartic process. I also became fascinated with the theory of counselling and two years later returned to college to train as a counsellor. Simultaneously I embarked upon a writing course, two new passions in which to channel my energy.
It’s now eight years since I took that difficult step to disclose my past abuse and I am a changed person (for the better I hope!) I use the skills learned in counselling by doing voluntary work for an organization which visits and supports victims of crime and the writing bug has consumed me! I combined my new passions by writing novels about a therapeutic counsellor, Maggie Sayer. The books particularly appeal to women who seem to connect with the emotional content and I’ve been thrilled by some of the positive reviews they’ve picked up. The first book is simply titled, ‘The Counsellor’ and introduces Maggie and three of her clients. It follows their stories which generally have positive outcomes, (I’m a sucker for a happy ending!) But one novel wasn’t enough and there are now two more in the series, ‘Maggie’s World’ and ‘Pretence’ and I’m currently working on number four. The novels sell mainly as ebooks, with paperback copies also available. I now have a new career as a writer and cannot imagine life without my writing projects and am rarely without my laptop or a note book and pen!
Working through past issues was not an easy task and although I had some excellent support it was at times a steep path to climb but I have no regrets and I thank God for giving me such a new and fulfilling life.
GILLIAN JACKSON is a passionate writer who lives in North East England with her husband Derek. When prised away from her lap-top and writing projects, she works voluntarily for a charity supporting victims of crime, as well as spending time with her four adult children and eight grandchildren. An interest in psychology and counselling inspire her novels, with all three offering readers the unique opportunity of being a ‘fly on the wall’ in counselling sessions. Gillian tackles gritty contemporary issues but in a sensitive, positive and non offensive manner. She is a great believer in happy endings!
Please visit Gillian’s website: www.gillianjackson.co.uk.
Follow her on Twitter: @GillianJackson7
and on Facebook
The second two books in the ‘Maggie Sayer Trilogy’ are ‘Maggie’s World’ & ‘Pretence’
SONIA MARSH SAYS: It’s so nice to hear a positive ending, and that your husband was so supportive and helpful during this difficult time. I am also amazed at how your writing has blossomed and helped you through everything.
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