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How not to crack

October 01 2022
Believe Me. © Greta Gillett Believe Me. © Greta Gillett

With perseverance and resolve, you can recover from setbacks and maintain the belief and hope for a better tomorrow, while learning to enjoy today. This story contains sensitive material. Written by Greta Gillett

Recently and over the last two years I have been back in hell. Back in the family court system.

The place where decisions are made about children, parents and families and it's a very secret place mostly full of working class people with no legal representation because of the dismantling of legal aid by the government.

I was there not only begging (that is how you are made to feel, calculated and purposefully, by a system that wants to see you on your knees) to see two of my four beautiful children, but also that my children may see each other and lastly that someone will help my 14-year-old who was self-harming last year in two different ways. All requests were denied and I was told I am not allowed to return to court, even if I'm concerned for my children’s welfare and safety, for a period of 12 months and even after that time it will more than likely be denied.

The horror of begging in a court of law when I have on more than one occasion begged for people not to beat, kick or rape me was more than humiliating.

A life long non-smoker, I now smoke. Before I only drank socially, now a glass of wine will “settle” my nerves. I've been off medication for years and am now once again taking thought-numbing medication to try and soothe the disassociation.

I've also tried mushrooms and cannabis to soften the nightmares. Neither prescription or street drugs were effective and once again in my daydreams I started to consider crime in the most majestic sense. My criminal fantasy is of an ethical brothel of which I am the madame.

By day my ladies will study and by night service the lonely and greedy.

But I am terrible at all this. I can only smoke two cigs before I feel sick; max two glasses of wine before I feel dizzy, and the brothel would surely fail because I would simply tell all the punters to fuck off!

You see, despite establishment and government repeatedly telling me I’m bad, despite the reams of reports that say I'm unbelievable and untrustworthy, I am actually inherently a simple, nice – dare I say – even a good person.

I'm kind, empathetic, I’m even known to make people laugh. But inside I often think I'm nasty, dirty and a slut. Or “puta” (a Spanish word that can translate as “whore”, “bitch” or even “motherfucker”), as I was often called.

Too many people have spat words of hate at me, and I'm not just referring to violent men, but police and social workers, even doctors have all also called me names as well. Too many reports have dehumanised me. I told my eldest daughter I would bring her brother and sister home at least for a visit and I feel I have failed.

I felt confident enough to promise that because I naively hoped that the system would punish me but not my children as well. And I bleed pain, hurt, sadness, heartache.

I bleed it onto this page. I bleed it when I watch violent pornography as a way to calm my nerves.

I can only take five minutes and then I feel repulsion again.

I pick at my nails and my hair and I grimace in the mirror when I paint my face in the morning.

“You’re a fraud,” I say, “a fucking fraud.” Then I remember I’m also an artist who loves to cook and travel. So I sew, I draw, I start to write. I’m going to Seville in a few weeks to eat tapas and look at the Moorish city and feel alive again.

We are not what they tell us. We are who we see and feel we are.

We have been stripped figuratively and physically, and questioned and prodded so that we feel raw, we feel vulnerable, we feel exposed.

I say fight back. Seek joy, beauty, comfort. Hold yourself tightly and eat chips, as many as you can fit in your mouth, smothered in sauce.

Embrace and hold tightly onto those things that lessen the hurt deep inside you.

I like to cook in my pyjamas and sing loudly to Teddy Pendergrass, and I remember what my son used to love and my tears fall into the bowl and I stir it in because that's my love, and I cook with love and I am love.

I am not what they did to me or wrote about me or labelled me.

Please say this out loud.

You are so loved.