SwirlingFire: Fortitude

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Content Warning: mild references to sexual/mental abuse



noun: bravery when dealing with pain or difficulty, esp. over a long period

“… I must admit, I find your fortitude in this roller coaster mind boggling……. ”


It’s always been a month of mixed emotions.

As a child it trawls up  memories of birthday parties and blowing out candles on a cake.

Family and kindergarten pals

Chatter laughter and snapshots in old dog eared wallets with the negatives in their little pocket.

In teen years it was inviting school friends to house parties and overhearing mean comments whilst they had a free feed and consumed all the drink before leaving very early with better places to go.

In my twenties and it was cocktail fuelled arrangements after work where barely a handful of people would bother to turn up.

And so I stopped arranging birthday celebrations of any type. If people wanted to mark my birthday I’d let them arrange everything.  All of it.  They would be left with the embarrassment of people not showing up or flaking out last minute.  It stopped bothering me years ago.  I mean, yes it does hurt.  The people that claim to care/like you really don’t.

I was obviously not a person worth making friends with.  The thoughts of never being good enough had never really left.  I always got treated the way I deserved.  Whatever the reasons, people I asked would shift uncomfortably in their seats and would refuse to answer.  Bullied throughout school and varying workplaces, even though I could not think of any specific event or comment to the person in front of me…. I’d ask

“Specifically, what did I do to you?”

“What did XYZ person say the reason for that behaviour to me spawned that?”

I brought out the cruellest nastiest unfriendly responses attitudes and behaviours of people I came into contact with.  I was damaged, defective and heartbroken.  Still never understanding why I was the target for abuse.

FortitudeNever worth the effort, I stopped asking.  They Only used me for “friendship” when there were times of deep difficulties.  Never available when I asked for help.  Only wanted me for my independence of strength and self sufficiency as the outsider or the weird misfit who was brilliant at problem solving and identifying solutions for people, both private and work based.  Yet still I spent my evenings and weekends alone.

I don’t know what it is about me that displeases them so.  I learnt from a very young age to be a “people pleaser” – out of necessity of survival growing up in a volatile “shouty” household.

So one learns to build convoluted layers of protection. These would range from basic polite distance, sometimes avoidance of certain people/colleagues;  pulling up caged metal style shutters.  I allow glimpses but there will be no physical contact – a free flow conversation but basically I’m protected from grabby hands;  Then the more extreme method of excusing oneself from an enlarging group whilst socialising; only talking if someone else initiated conversations.  I was silent.  A lot.  These were the granite walls that had been constructed over decades of unwarranted hurt, betrayal and emotional endangerment.

And this was how I managed to navigate through life for more years than I bear to remember.

Swirlingfire: A history

Empty inside …. A very Carefully constructed shell.  So fragile and likely to shatter into millions of pieces when I was ready to let someone back into my life …  Someone that would be put through repeated obstacles and tests to check if they were worthy of my initial friendship and thoughts.  Unbeknown to myself I was being emotionally abused over a period of years.  These are blog posts for another time – if ever.  It’s all so very raw.

It’s from this point that the above initial quoted comment derives.

My fortitude is the culmination of decades of disappointment, unsettled  life as a toddler, learning to be self sufficient for my own emotional needs and physical safety;  cutting people brutally out of my ever decreasing  circle of trust;  avoidance of intimacy/ relationships with men to reduce risk of date/rape that I brought on myself….

I was the common denominator.


This month has been more brutal than previous years.

I can’t even begin to detail as I’m sure readers will roll their eyes and think “well that never happened” ….. and quite honestly, it’s taking time to process for myself.

Another betrayal.  One that breaches basic human decency and unfathomable disregard from someone that promised to protect ones physical and emotional safety. …..

For that last sentence?  I roll my eyes – that never happened!


@Swirlingfire, 25 October 2018