Warning: contains graphic details which may be triggering 

I want to tell the world that it needs to understand that bad people do bad things to people. I want to tell them what sort of bad things, and that these are real people who hurt real people like me, who work and live alongside them and are normal, respected members of society.

I spent the whole of my childhood having to play the game and say that these things weren’t happening. They were and they hurt. The world should have known then, and the world should know now. But it still doesn’t. I am still living as if nothing bad happened, yet I have to come to terms with the fact that it did. In order to stabilise my mental health, I am supposed to accept the fact that it is in the past and is not now. Yet it only seems to be me who has had to change. I have had to face up to what happened to me and its effects on me, but the world can still behave just as it did back then when awful unacknowledged things happened and everyone else my age was complaining about stupidisms.

My class at school all made ‘get well’ cards for a friend because she had broken her leg. Nobody wanted to know that just the day before I had had a baby and watched as it was gruesomely killed. Just as it is now, I had to pretend that nothing out of the ordinary had happened to me at all.  My friend deserved support and I was ordered to drag myself out of bed – where I was clearly just being lazy – as I nursed my still griping tummy and reeling emotions. It was my duty to do something to make her feel better and cheer her up. How could I possibly tell them of my own distress and not be called a jealous, attention-seeking liar?

Who acknowledges my pain? Who was there to understand that this was about the fifteenth baby I had been made to watch be mutilated and destroyed? This was the fate of my baby, as the world I lived in celebrated a neighbour’s cherished new arrival and treated me as if I knew nothing about giving birth. I wanted to tell them that I knew all about giving birth: in the cold outdoors or on a damp musty concrete floor, my wrists caught in shackles that burn coldly into my flesh, the baby ripping apart my insides on its unsupported journey into this fearful world. I am all alone and aware of the inevitable fate of this cherished part of me. There is no baby-shower for me. No celebration of my achievement and no welcome for the delicate new life making its laboured way into protecting arms and a lovingly prepared nursery. No, my baby is cruelly grabbed, defiled and destroyed, before I can even touch her to tell her I love her. There is no celebration of this new life. There is derision and enjoyment of my utter helplessness and horror.

But I am only young and, as far as the world knows or cares, I know nothing of childbirth and its pain. I want to tell them that I do know and it is they who know nothing of the depth of what pain can be: the pain of giving birth alone and terrified for what will happen to my baby. I want to tell them all … but, to do that would be rude. I daren’t tell them they are wrong. I daren’t alienate them. I need them to continue to provide the normality and stability I cling to in order to survive my hidden roller-coaster life. So I dutifully represent the family with a gift of a pot plant to welcome the new arrival that everyone is celebrating. I go complete with my secret shame and sadness for my own defiled baby and my own hurting tummy and heart.

I am subjected to the customary recounting of the tale of the birth, as the adults cast patronising comments my way that one day I will have to face such pain if I want to have a baby. They have no clue what I want at all. What I want is to understand why they have the right to not know about the pain of my birth experience and yet treat me as if I am the one who doesn’t know. At twelve years of age I know more than they ever will as I take their patronising misjudgement on the chin. I can handle that. It’s nothing in comparison to the burden I already carry, all alone in this world where they mistakenly believe I know nothing of childbirth.

So now I am grown and an adult myself. Still the world does not know, cannot know. It is still busy throwing baby-showers, recounting birth stories and patronising defiled young girls who know too much whilst nobody knows that they do. I still want to tell the world to understand that bad people do bad things to people – right under their noses while they still believe they are protecting young girls. How can we tell them? They think they know all about the pain of childbirth and we who know more are not allowed to tell. It would be too painful for them to bear. They believe we are not mature enough to handle such pain. Actually they give us no choice.

So I will buy myself a pot plant, nurse my mental health and carry on being a normal, respected member of society. I need the stability for my normal respectable life: the one I never really had although no-one will ever know.