Updated: Jun 29, 2020
| This is the 304th story of Our Life Logs |
I was born in a deprived area of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1989. I often felt fearful as a young girl. My parents struggled to provide for us, causing an air of tension in our home. But if I wanted to escape the thick air and play outside, I had to watch my back. Fights went on between different groups of kids in the neighborhood.
For these reasons, I wondered what it would be like to move away. My parents put a map of the world on the kitchen wall, and I would always study it when I was eating my breakfast. I would think about where I wanted to go when I grew up—away from the restlessness of home, away from the fighting in my backyard.
When I reached my teenage years, things got worse. When I was not quite 14 years old, I was sexually abused by a schoolmate. I was barely a teenager back then, not even really interested in boys, and yet, that part of me was taken. For the next six years, I suffered from anxiety and depression. I was embarrassed and confused about something I didn’t fully understand and didn’t know who to trust.
I finally managed to get help and had counseling which helped me improve my mental health and self-esteem. I learned to accept and process how I was feeling. Though I had previously felt nervous talking to men, I started making an effort to speak to them.
As my confidence grew, I made more male friends. One evening, my friend Emma introduced me to “a nice guy who I should get to know,” named Iain. At first, I wasn’t sure. I still felt vulnerable and wanted to keep myself safe. But after the party, we kept bumping into each other. I found myself thinking about his cheeky grin, and couldn’t wait for the next funny story he told to make me laugh. After about a year of long walks with his dog and taking his old banger of a car to get out of the city, we started dating. I was in love.
Finally, I felt comfortable enough to tell Iain about what had happened to me as a teenager. He was loving, supportive, and gave me a hug at all the right moments. With Iain, I believed I was really getting over the trauma of my past.
A couple of years after we first started going out, we decided to live together. Iain had just started a new job and wanted to move so that he was closer to work. I felt like it was probably time I left home as I had managed to get some savings together. We had even talked about getting married in the future. Initially, I felt like everything was moving too quickly, we were still young, and this was my first real relationship, but Iain dismissed my doubts. We would make it. We were in love. That would never change.
But it did.
I will always remember the night my life changed. As I came home from work in October of 2012, I turned the light on and looked around; the floor had obviously been used as a laundry basket. I kicked a mass of clothing into a pile in the corner, making the room only marginally tidier. I wasn’t going to be the one to tidy up, yet again. I knew Iain had been there because he’d stubbed out his cigarette in the sink, the smell of smoke lingering in the dingy room.
I calmly washed my face in the bathroom sink as if trying to remove this mess from my life. But as I caught my reflection in the mirror, I noticed something on the shelf behind me. A slightly dog-eared folded newspaper was sticking out amongst the bottles of shampoo and shower gel. I turned, dried my face on a faded blue towel, and was about to leave the room when the newspaper caught my attention again. What’s it doing there anyway, I thought with irritation. I pulled it out from underneath a bar of soap, planning to deposit it in the nearest bin. So much for vowing not to tidy up.
As I turned the newspaper over, a small ad, written in a dark blue font caught my eye. “Join us as a Flight Attendant” it stated in bold lettering. “Earn money while you travel, train to be a flight attendant today. Work from Australia, flying on domestic and international flights.”
I had always been interested in learning about different cultures and countries. As I got older, I still wanted to travel and see more of the world. But I never seemed to be able to save enough money to make it happen. So, as I read the ad, I had a mix of thoughts and emotions. I thought that maybe it would finally be possible to travel. But then I decided that it was too good to be true and that I’d never be lucky enough to get a job like that.
Still, I checked the date on the newspaper. It was yesterday’s. I still had time to apply. It could be a new start I thought, something to get me away from this city. I would be able to meet new people and see the world.
I carefully ripped out the small ad, pocketed it, and put the rest of the paper into the bin. The cigarette butt was there balancing on a mound of tissues and other garbage. I noticed a used condom and realized I didn’t even care who Iain had been sleeping with this time. I was going to change my life; I was going to the other side of the world.
I unlocked the front door and stepped out into a cold Glaswegian street, feeling a mixture of sadness and excitement.
I carried on determinedly into the darkening night, head bowed against the elements. I was heading towards the internet cafe at the end of the street when I suddenly changed my mind.
I nipped into the nearest supermarket and managed to gather enough loose change from my pockets to buy a cheap bottle of red wine. My friend Fiona was always up for a drink, I thought, especially since it was almost the weekend. I could tell her my news and use her laptop as mine had annoyingly, finally died the week before. I made my way up the cobbles of Ashton Lane, taking a short cut past the university and eventually making my way across an empty car park towards Fiona’s flat.
I told Fiona my news that I had made the decision to leave Iain. She wasn’t surprised and encouraged me to leave him. Eventually, after being asked a lot of questions about what I was going to do and where I was planning to live, I took the screwed-up piece of newspaper out of my pocket and showed it to Fiona.
“You only have to leave Iain; you don’t have to leave all of us,” was her first reaction.
I hadn’t thought of it like that before. The realization hit me with a sinking feeling; I would have to leave all the friends I’d made over the last few years. I would be leaving my whole life behind.
In the end, Fiona agreed that it would be good for me to get away for a bit; to get over Iain and decide what I wanted to do with my life. Together we filled in the application and as the wine flowed our answers became more and more exaggerated.
I was soon invited for an interview and was amazed when I got the job. The next couple of weeks passed in a blur, I had to fill in a lot of paperwork, apply for a working holiday visa, pack, and say goodbye to everyone I knew.
The day I was to leave came around quickly. I spent the next three years working and traveling in Australia and New Zealand, seeing lots of different places during my time as a cabin crew. I would often get layovers in different cities and always made an effort to have a look round and visit the local attractions. One of my favorite places was Melbourne.
While I was away, I noticed that I seemed to be able to connect with people from other countries easily. I also worked with a group of women from all over the world, and we became close, sharing our experiences and details of our lives and families.
As I shared parts of my life in Glasgow, I felt an unexpected pang of wistfulness. Though my plan was to wash myself of the past, I couldn’t. My past was what gave me the opportunity to connect with others. And so, even as my time in the skies inched towards the end of its contract, my heart grew content.
I arrived back in Scotland in 2016 with a renewed heart and a clear mind. No matter what had happened to me in this city, it was my home. My family, especially my mum and friend Fiona, had been a fantastic support to me over the years and had helped me to get over depression and move on from the abuse. So, while I had added a new chapter to my life, I realized that I wouldn’t have been able to write that part of my story without them. I just had to see the world before I understood.
This is the story of Jayne Todd
Jayne was sexually abused as a child and as a result, suffered from anxiety and depression. When she thought she was over the pain of the past, Jayne settled down with the man she loved, only to find him cheating. To distance herself from her home in Glasgow, Jayne applied for a cabin crew job and traveled and worked in Australia and New Zealand for three years. During this time, Jayne was able to process her past and regain the fondness in her heart. Jayne has written eight self-help books and plans to study to become a counselor this year. She would like to start a counseling or cognitive behavior therapy course in September, as this would allow her to expand my business and help more people. Jayne is looking to create an online course and record some motivational videos over the summer.
This story first touched our hearts on February 6, 2019.
| Writer: Abi Latham | Editor: Colleen Walker |