"Does the past ever become overwhelming?"

I think no matter who you ask about this, the answer will be yes. I may well be wrong, but there are days that the thing that keeps me going is telling myself that anyone who's ever experienced trauma will have days like this. In short, yes the past does get overwhelming for me at times. Be it remembering the panic attacks I had in the toilets at school, the days at work where I would slip behind the back of a shopping centre with a cigarette and cry or the night that I lay on a bathroom floor on a different continent thinking "why me?" after being a victim of sexual assault. I have days where memories of such events stop me in my tracks.

A few months ago, I was looking around a bookshop to pass the time. I knelt on the floor to have a look at a book on the bottom shelf that had caught my eye. Suddenly and inexplicably I began to cry. It wasn't dramatic, there was no heaving breaths or strangled sobs, there was just the familiar stinging of the eyes and wetness of the cheeks. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by everything.

It's days like that that leave me frustrated yet understanding of people who don't take me seriously. I'm young. There's an assumption that young people don't have a care in the world, especially when it comes to older generations who had a fairly "normal" childhood. There's this expectation that everyone's childhood is the same. Yet when people make that assumption, I want to scream and tell them "look at the world around you! Is this the same world you were living in when you were my age?"

As the world changes, so do the people in it. It used to be acceptable for male employers to harass young female employees, and it wasn't recognised as sexual harassment. It was the "norm". Yet here I am, a 19-year-old who has experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, and had a short-lived relationship with a heavy focus on physical contact rather than emotional connection; is it any wonder people don't take me seriously? Meanwhile, I have nights where I sit in bed and cry because I feel like the majority of men in my life have looked at me like a slab of meat.

If there's one thing to be said about that, though, it's that I'm incredibly appreciative of the men who don't look at me and only see cleavage. I'm grateful for the men who look at me and see a human being with a passion for creating change. I'm glad of the men who don't think it's acceptable to treat women as property.

Tonight the past has overwhelmed me. I've had the wind knocked out of me with the reminder that not everyone who smiles is a friend, and some people get a taste for stabbing you in the back. There are some people who aren't deserving of second, third, fourth chances. I wish I knew how to identify those people, but hey, I'm young...I'm still learning!