Apparently it’s 2013 now. I’ve mostly been preoccupied with being a horse owner and so have only just managed to find a moment to notice that it’s 2013. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one thinking “Twenty-THIRTEEN?! Surely the millennium only just happened?! How on earth did that get to be thirteen years ago?!”
This probably doesn’t paint me in the most intelligent light, but my thoughts continued:
“Woah … 13 years is more than 10 years … 10 years is a decade … so it’s more than a decade since the millennium. Woah!”
You might be tempted to point out that it’s been more than a decade since the millennium for a while, but you see, I’ve only just noticed.
So my decade-fixated brain wanted to consider what I did and who I was in 2003.
2003 was the beginning of the end of my childhood. I was 21. I’d finished my degree the year before and in the autumn I would begin my Masters. I had a job in retail, in a menswear chain, in a shop with so few customers the main challenges were thinking up things to do to make the day go by. Even on a Saturday you’d be stood wondering how long it would be before anyone came in. This was made more depressing because the salesmen were on commission. If no one comes in even the best salesman is going to struggle to make his money.
I was in the workforce, for the first time (aside from temping and cleaning holiday jobs), which was a bit of a shock to the system. It was a lonely job. Aside from 1 day each week I was the only female and I was “posh.”* Their word not mine. The day I left the manager said to me “When you started we didn’t talk to you because we didn’t know what to say to a posh bird.”
During 2003 I moved from my dysfunctional student household to a somewhat more functional post-graduate household. I moved from the no-customers, no-conversation, no-work job to work in a flagship department store and I began my Masters. It was a step towards growing up…
But I had no hope.
I didn’t think about tomorrow with anything but fear.
I didn’t think about other people with anything but fear.
And I didn’t think about anything that scared me.
I acquired a boyfriend. Over twice my age, from a different nation/culture, ex-military special forces, built like the proverbial, he was not exactly boyfriend material. But, looking back, I think I was with him because I thought he could keep me safe. Under his enormous wing I wouldn’t have to face the fear. But it was probably fortunate that he stood me up on Christmas day, contributing to our breaking up in early 2004.
I thought I was worthless. But I had to hide that. I lived in constant fear that people would see the worthlessness and I felt slightly scornful if they didn’t.
I was functioning. Just.
I was all fear. It was my only motivator; my constant companion. All I could do was get through each day dodging the fear.
If you had told me that in 10 years I would have a loving husband, a home, a horse of my own, 2 cats and thought patterns that didn’t revolve around fear, ever, I would have laughed in your face so hard you would have seen the desperation.
If you had only told me that I would have riding lessons and a pet, I still wouldn’t have believed you. I didn’t believe there was anything good to live for. I didn’t believe anything good would ever come my way. I had no hope.
If I wrote a letter to my 21-year-old self I don’t think I’d be able to make her believe any of it. I wonder if anyone could have done. In some ways I believe I had to hit rock bottom to learn to change and to see that change was possible, but in other ways I wonder … 2003 was a few years away from rock bottom – could it have been preempted at that point?
What a difference a decade makes.
* I.e. had a southern accent and a degree.