Lying in my bed, crying my eyes out and struggling for breath, I tried desperately to calm myself down once he’d left. He’d told me he wanted to come and apologise, and even though it was 11pm (way past my usual bed time), and I had the flu and was feeling rough as burnt toast, I really thought maybe that’s what he wanted. I knew from experience that he wouldn’t just leave it alone, so I figured it was easier to let him come in and apologise and then it would be done with. Of course, he didn’t want to just apologise, and I spent the next 60 minutes lying in bed being bombarded with reasons why, in fact, I actually deserved the barrage of abuse and shouting that he fired at me, standing over me and reassuring me that no, he’d never hurt me, but it was obvious that I took no responsibility for the situation we were in….
For 2 years of my life, in the town that had brought me the best memories and made me the best ever friends, where I moved hundreds of miles from my family and friends so that I could attend the best university for my studies, I lived what I can only describe as total hell. A relationship gone sour, standard story. Brought on by myself, potentially. Exacerbated by myself, probably. I used to finish work as a PhD student, come straight home, lock the door  (with a chair under the handle for good measure) and just cry until bed time (with the occasional food binge / starve cycle thrown in there for good measure). I’d repeat this day in, day out. I rarely saw my friends other than at work. But they were all boys. And without making a joke of the situation, I couldn’t express to them just how bad the situation was for me. I even went to see the doctor once, explaining that I thought I had chronic fatigue, because despite running 10km every day, I was exhausted all the time and sleeping every hour I could. “You have depression”. No, no I bloody don’t, I’m the most optimistic person there ever was, ask anyone. I’ll just deal with this myself. In hind sight, maybe she was right. 
After one episode, I yet again confided in one of the boys, and the ‘joke’ situation must have worn thin. “You’re not living in an episode of Eastenders Emilia. I’m not listening to this anymore if you continue to think this is normal. You go to the police or you do nothing.”. That’s all it took. Some straight up words from a straight up friend. And I turned the corner. I told the guy that, should he do it again, I would contact the police. That seemed to work. I blocked all contact where I could and gave myself a new focus. Project fitness body.

Setting a new goal in life is scary, especially when it’s a goal that goes against what people around you think you should be doing. Yeah the boys let me train with them, showed me how to lift properly and spotted me doing my 40kg squats and pressing my 10s. But when I showed them pictures of my goals (Emma Howie you know), I was told these girls were really muscly and I had a lot of work to do (yes I know). I was told I was looking too hench when my skinny body went from weak and small to round and strong. But by that point I didn’t care, not one ounce. I was strong. I was mentally the strongest I’d ever been. I was physically the strongest I’d ever been. I don’t know what came first. But either way, I was so strong that no man could ever intimidate me, control me or make me feel like I didn’t deserve to be happy again. I’d found my way.

So the past few months, the negative comments about caring about aesthetics only, about being arrogant or over-confident because of show placings, the loss of friends and the general lack of understanding about what I am and what I do, can go shove it. Reflection is key to success, in anything we do. Remember where you came from. I am happy. I am strong. I am hench (most of the time). And real men, real women, real friends, understand that. 


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