Last night I found myself thinking as I often do. How could my husband possibly love a person like me? I mean, I'm damaged goods. Permanently scared by my past, forever haunted by the ones who caused me so much suffering. But he does love me, as he tells me everyday. And after 8 years together, I can tell when he's being genuine. The thing about us is that I can read him, and he can read me. We work well together, we're not just husband and wife; we're a team, equals, best friends. My only regret is that I didn't meet him sooner, perhaps my life would have panned out differently if I had.
Our story is not the typical 'boy meets girl' type, but it is one of the better parts of my life, as I finally found someone who not only loved me, but respected me for who I am. We met in a pub 10 years ago. I was a bouncer (or Door Supervisor to give the official name). I was living in Bethesda with my beautiful 7 month old daughter, and had decided that my future was in the security industry. Our meeting was quite by chance, because when I joined the company I worked for, I said that I would gladly work on any pub or club my boss needed me to, as long as he never put me to work in Caernarfon. I had no problem with the town itself, just some of it's residents, mainly my violent ex partner, and i do use that term 'partner' loosely as I will explain in more detail later on. It was a Friday night and I wasn't due to work until 10 o'clock, I would be working in Bangor's main nightclub at the time, "The Octagon" This suited me perfectly, it was a 15 minute drive from my house, my father was up visiting me and his first grandchild so my babysitting was sorted. At around 6:30 though I got a phone call from my boss. He had just secured a new pub in Caernarfon that had a bad reputation and was only allowed to open on the weekends as long as they had security on the door. He knew that I wasn't keen on working in Caernarfon but explained that he wanted me to run the door there and make a good impression. For some bizarre reason, my head was telling me to agree to work there. I had always turned down every job he had offered me in Caernarfon, why all of a sudden would I say yes? But that is exactly what I did, I shot upstairs to get changed into my uniform and i got in my car and headed for Caernarfon. When I got there, it was the typical boozer you would expect it to be, I remembered how I had been here in my youth when it had a nicer reputation and I was your typical teenager trying to get in without being asked for ID. It wasn't too bad of an evening, there were a steady stream of customers coming through the door, all pleased to see the pub back up and running again, some a bit surprised to see a female bouncer, but that was nothing new to me, I always answered with the same "Yea well women are better at handling cat fights than men are." Little did anyone know that behind the front was a terrified young girl, fearing for her life.
I had been this way for the better part of 3 years. Nobody ever got to know how I was feeling inside, or what was going through my mind. I put up a shield to protect myself and in doing that I had shut the doors to my heart and locked it up tight. I had also, regretfully locked away my emotions and memories of anything prior to the birth of my daughter. I wouldn't allow myself to think about the past, ever. It had to be bottled up and thrown as far back in my mind as it would go, under no circumstances was I to allow myself to think about the past and the pain I was feeling. I had to block it all out, otherwise people would be able to see a weakness in me, and take advantage of it. My front was my barrier, no one could penetrate it, let alone a man. I would not allow myself to be fooled into thinking that anyone would ever care about me, and I would spend the rest of my life being single and in denial. It didn't matter anyway, no one would ever look at me and think I was pretty. I never thought I was attractive, I still don't. The only ones who would look twice at me were the ones who wanted to hurt me. It had been etched into my mind that I was ugly, unloveable and nothing more than a burden on everyone.
As I stood there on that Friday night, screaming with fear on the inside, and portraying myself as a confident, not to be messed with bouncer on the outside, all I could see were couples everywhere. Walking hand in hand down the street, embracing each other, showering each other with love and affection, it made me feel so lonely. Like I was invisible to the people around me. And to some extent, I was. You see I had worked so hard on bottling everything up, that I had made myself disappear from the thoughts of others around me. I wasn't anyone important, just that type of person who makes you laugh as you enjoy your night out then forget immediately the second you've walked away. This was my life, this was my existence on the planet. Just an insignificant figure to be swept aside and forgotten about. Who in their right mind would ever want to be with me. I was no one, not worthy of friends or family. Just another soulless creature roaming around getting in peoples way. The door of the pub opened with it's usual creek and there he stood, all 6 foot 1 of pure Liverpudlian man, an air of presence surrounded him as he stood there holding his pint in one hand, and getting a cigarette out of it's packet with his other hand. "Hey you, you can't bring your glass outside, take it back in now." were the first words I ever said to him. He looked at me somewhat perplexed that this 5 foot 7 Welsh female bouncer was telling him what to do in his local pub. "You heard me didn't you, get back inside with that pint or I'll take it off you and throw you out." eventually he complied, drank his pint, took his empty glass back to the bar and re-joined his friends outside for a smoke. As he stood there, cigarette in hand, chatting to his mates I thought there was something about him that I couldn't quite put my finger on. He was certainly attractive, but it wasn't that that was bothering me. There was something about him that made me feel a bit more at ease with myself, like I didn't need to pretend around him. That made me incredibly nervous.
My boss drove past and parked his car around the side of the pub, I had been hoping all night that he would come to tell me that this was a one-off and that I wouldn't be working in Caernarfon again. But for some reason as he walked towards me, I was no longer feeling as anxious as I had been, I was no longer wanting him to put me to work somewhere else. "Why the hell had I suddenly had a change of heart? What had happened in the past hour and a half that had made me want to stay in this place?" I thought to myself. We spoke briefly about the pub, the landlord and the fact that he wanted me to remain in charge of the door here for the foreseeable future. I told him that I would stay here as long as he didn't put an inexperienced idiot to work with me, like he had done tonight (honestly, I might as well have had a sack of potatoes stood next to me, it would have been of more use.) "Oh don't worry, the guys that did the course I ran last month got their licences through today, so you'll have someone else with you tomorrow" was his response, which didn't exactly fill me with confidence. "Here's one of them now" he said, and as I turned around there stood the cocky Scouser that I had threatened to throw out of the pub only 10 minutes back. My boss not only introduced him as my colleague for the next evening, but also he was what was known as an old-school doorman. A rare breed of pure Alpha Male bouncer that had been in security before the industry required licenses and regulations who wasn't afraid to get involved in a mass brawl to get the job done. Great, just what I needed, a cocky Scouser, who probably thinks as a lot of men do that there's no place for women in the security world, who now thinks I'm a cow because I've threatened to take his pint away and chuck him out. This was not turning out to be a good night at all, at this point all I wanted to do was go home and hide myself away from the world.
Strangely what did happen that night was the beginning of a great friendship and a brilliant work partnership. He was much more laid back than I had first thought. He commended women who wanted to have a career in the security industry, and was not at all arrogant or self-righteous as I had believed. Not only that, he was funny as well. He had so many great stories about the security world, including the time he looked after Demi Moore when she was filming over on Anglesey, and talking to Bruce Willis on the phone. We ended up working together every weekend, and it was the best times of my life. The amount of stories we have about our days as bouncers is unreal, and our kids often ask us to tell them a funny story or two about what we got up to or the things we saw when working.
Of course what I never expected to happen on that first night we met was for him to see me. The actual me, the me that I worked so hard to hide away from the world. After a few weeks of working together we were sat having a chat a cigarette and a can of Red Bull, (we went through gallons of the stuff when we were on the doors) and out of nowhere he asked me "What's happened to you that's made you cut your arms?" He was of course referring to the many scars on my forearms where as a youth I had cut myself to try and release some of the pain I was feeling. I was completely dumbstruck. No one had ever asked me that before. Usually I always made a point of covering my arms, always wearing long sleeves or a jacket, so not many people would be able to see the scars that I was so ashamed of. But as it happened it was a hot summer's night and I was wearing a short sleeve work shirt, and left my high-vis jacket in the car, so my scars were on display. The strange thing about it was that I was always so careful about hiding them, only my immediate family and a few (and I do mean a very small number) of people knew that I was scarred. It was something that I was so ashamed to let people see because it showed my weakness to others, and that was something I couldn't allow to happen. Thinking back, it wasn't so much the fact that he had seen my scars that shocked me the most, it was the question he asked; "What's happened to you..?" No one, not even my family had asked me that before. People's first question was always "Why did you do that? What was the point?" I wasn't trying to make a point. I simply wanted the pain to end, and this was (at the time) my only option. I thought that if I could make myself bleed, then all the bad stuff that had happened to me, all the pain and the hurt would flow out of my body along with the blood, that I felt was the carrier of all my misery. But here was a man, who didn't know me very well, who had only been in my life for a few weeks, and he was able to see past all the barriers, all my defences were suddenly down as he looked me in the eyes, not with pity but with genuine sympathy. It was a strange sensation, I had never had anyone, particularly a man show me any kind of sympathy before. It scared me, and I suddenly broke down in tears. He hugged me, then apologised for asking such a personal question, explaining it had never been his intention to pry and he certainly hadn't wanted to upset me, he just wondered if I was ok. He cared about my wellbeing, a man who had his own life, his own worries and responsibilities, and yet here he was willing to talk to a damaged, emotionally unstable 22 year old. As I looked at him through my tears that is when I first realised that I was utterly and completely in love with him. But as my sub-conscious kicked in with it's own way of torturing me, I thought that a man like him who had everything going for him, and was way out of my league could never love someone like me. As it turns out I was completely wrong.
But that, my dear readers is the next part of my story.
Thank you once again for reading, and remember that no matter how bleak the future may seem, or how much you wish you could get rid of the pain, self-harm is not the answer. I was lucky, others unfortunately have not been as lucky. Talking about your problems or worries is often the best release. Stay safe, and look after each other. xx