When I was in trouble as a child my mother, like most mothers, used to use my middle name, “Natalie Jane come down those stairs right now.” I like my middle name now, and I always have but I’m not sure I’d be so keen if it was coming from my mothers mouth again. As a child I read a lot of books by Enid Blyton, and one of my favourites was ‘Naughty Amelia Jane’. I remember secretly liking that her middle name was the same as mine. I guess being naughty has its appeal, and because we shared the same name I thought we were practically twins.
When I was younger I was also in trouble. A LOT. So much so that I ought to have been named ‘Natalie Trouble Wilson.’ I was particularly bad at never ever getting away with things. I remember always arguing with my sister, and even if she was in the wrong, my big mouth would get me into trouble. All my parents would hear would be me screaming, first at my sister, and then at them. Whilst my sister on the other hand was one of those ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ types.
The people in my life who I’m not so close to, or those who I’ve just met, see me as the quiet one. Just recently a lecturer said “you are so quiet.” I was laughing inside because if my Mum heard someone saying that she would think it was hilarious. The truth however, of what I am really like, is somewhat similar to how I am with getting things done. People always think I am super chilled back. I sort everything out last minute. But I’m not actually chilled out at all. Inside I am a panicky mess, but I get so panicky that I avoid doing whatever the thing is. I’m the same with being a perfectionist. I’m so worried about doing something wrong, that very often I end up not doing it at all.
I am loud. Very loud. But very often I am quiet. It’s not because I am a ‘quiet person’, but because of a whole range of fears, and over my life I have basically trained myself to be silent to the point that now it’s not even a choice I make. I remember as a child I would frequently be told off for being loud, for talking too much. I was blamed for my sisters lack of speech, and her speech problems which she had therapy for. I wanted so badly to be quieter, more like her.
My loudness, my constant chattering and asking questions seemed to cause nothing but problems. I’d be questioning everything. I wanted to know the why’s and how’s of everything, and let’s face it, that’s pretty annoying to live with. It led to arguments between me and a member of my family, which led to violence and slammed doors, cars leaving drives, and the disappearance of a parent for days at a time. So I started setting myself rules about when I could talk, and how long for. It seemed like a fabulous solution. There was a particular situation that is very clear in my mind. I was sat with my father watching the formula one racing. I kept asking question after question, after question. My father kept turning the TV louder, and louder, and louder, ignoring me. Every time I spoke he would turn it up that little bit louder. In the end we had an explosive argument that I will never forget.
Not speaking seemed like the solution. If I was silent, there would be no arguments, no violence, no disappearing bodies out of the door. Except I couldn’t do it. I’d tell myself ‘no talking for the next 20 minutes’ but before I knew it my mouth was open and words were spilling out; ‘Why does that car have red bull on it?’, ‘Why do they change the tyres?’.
Every time I failed to keep quiet, it was like the part of myself that was full of self-hatred grew bigger, and bigger.
One of the biggest things that I have, and am, learning is that the things I hated about myself, are the things that many of the people around me love about me. My parent(s) weren’t able to cope with me, but that does not mean that I was the problem. Just today my sister told me that one of the nurses who work at the hospital she’s in said that she liked me and that I seem like I’d be a good laugh.
It’s just weird to think that I’ve spent so long hating myself for things I never needed to hate myself for. That I’ve seen who I am as being fundamentally wrong or bad, when that was never the case. It’s hard to undo that, no matter how much I know it’s not true, because for so long that was my reality.