Sartaj Singh, West Midlands, 33yrs
I have always been a smiler, no matter what has happened, people always see a smiling me, come rain or shine. I have always been a listener, I don’t judge, I don’t care what anyone has done or what they think or how they view themselves, I am always neutral, always willing to listen. I am always willing to be sarcastic, cold, borderline out of order to make someone smile or laugh, or think, what a prat he is, but he’s funny. I live for making people smile, I live for doing what I can to take peoples pain away. I live for being controversial but in a funny way to spark debate and have a laugh and a joke. I have been blessed with everything, talent, smart, brains, gifted musically, gift of the mouth when I need it. Perfect life from an almost perfect scenario…. yet I have dark secrets, a dark side, a lonely side and an empty hole which can’t be filled or so I thought….
When I was 9, I was sexually abused. At a time when I was changing, life was looking different from the happy days of primary school, everything on the horizon was changing anyway…and then this. At first, I didn’t know what was going on, I was told I was being “loved” because I was a beautiful boy, it felt weird but the need for affection, attention for any child is so huge that I didn’t understand. Growing up in the prehistoric years before the internet was everything, mobile phones looked like walkie talkies, safeguarding was a myth and talking to adults was nearly impossible. The abuse went on for 5 months in a foreign country where there was no one to talk too, no one to turn too. I was feeling emotions I couldn’t understand, I felt odd. I was threatened with a knife on the one time I said, please don’t, it feels weird now. A knife was produced and held against my throat and I was told to keep quiet or I wouldn’t see my 16th birthday.
Since then, and at 33 years old today, I have never ever come to terms with it, every day you see safeguarding stories, every day you see new people on tv coming out saying they were abused. The impact on my life has been immense, I have never been comfortable with myself and the impact on my health has led to self-harm, self-loathing, I have so much love for every other person but above all this love for everyone else is the need to punish myself. What am I punishing myself for? I don’t know, but the need to do it can only be described as the feeling you get when you’re hungry and you haven’t eaten in a day but you know there’s a buffet waiting for you. Typing this as I am now, the body and mind shake, I have spent the best part of 15 plus years self-harming, hating myself, finding ways of torturing myself into submission to my own minds demons. Getting help was never an option, self-harm has become an art, I know exactly what I’m doing, how much to do without it leading to trouble or being found out. I live 2 lives, one is the person who everyone sees, and then the other is the dark side of me, the real me who know one can ever know. I need help…who will help me? Who will understand? Will they judge me? what will they think? Will they disown me?
A few months ago, I met someone by accident, an accident I wish had happened years ago for so many different reasons. This individual had no knowledge of my existence yet fell into my life for reasons beyond both of our control. They told me things I didn’t need to know, they had an aura of someone willing to understand and I opened my heart out to all the years of turmoil, pain I had gone through. My mental torture of all these years, the sleepless nights, the self-starving, the self-harming methods I had worked hard to perfect. Everything came pouring out. The value of someone telling you “its ok” can’t be put into words, the value of knowing you’re not going to be called “psycho, or mental” can’t be measured. I felt human, I felt normal and I felt that maybe my demons could be acknowledged, accepted, and understood. They encouraged me to get help, I went to my GP and the process started….and the process continues. I know my journey is going to be long and difficult, I know my mental health and why I am how I am will not be accepted by anyone if anyone, but I don’t care…They told me that there is hope and because of their contribution….I am on the long road back to finding myself….there is hope of recovery….