Amplifying the voice of every amazing woman

Conversations with my younger self

Words by Bronwen Rees

Theme: Youth

I do not often think of my youth. It is tucked away at the back of mind, lost to the darkness, where I wish it would stay.

I do not often think of my youth. It is tucked away at the back of mind, lost to the darkness, where I wish it would stay. But sometimes a light reveals its shadows and through clenched fists I move through it.

I’m with my brother and sister, the tent pitched in the garden, after all sleeping in your own bed is not half as much fun. But it is cut short, marched inside and demanded to tell the truth. Alcohol swirls in the air, eyes are glossy, a stolen cigar, or simply a lost one. There, down the side of the sofa. Maybe my own bed isn’t so bad.

He hangs us from our legs, giggling so hard we almost burst. He promises to put us in the bin, after all that is where we belong, screaming to stop but not really. A moment of joy, she joins in sometimes, other times not. Other times she is cross.

Closing my eyes to hold back the tears. I wish so hard that it would stop. Rehearsing in my head what I am going to say, not knowing the right thing to say, it is always the wrong thing to say. Raised voices, one slurred, one not.

I sit in my navy uniform, I ask for another worksheet. It was a mistake. He gets in there quick, not to miss the opportunity, the insult is thrown. They laugh. He got exactly what he wanted. I wish I could leave, instead I cry.

I know I should have put it away but I forgot. Now he is angry, but he is always so angry when he is like this. The gap in curtains reveals its fate, it goes over the top of the fence. Hardly able to stand, he goes out again. Where is she? It is not too broken, I still can ride it.

They are like him really. I know I should say something but I laugh instead, they laugh hard too, too hard. It’s not OK but I pretend that it is, I want to be their friend. I pick up my bike again, it is OK. They all go home. I should go home too.

This time it’s really bad. He is so angry. She has been shouting. Adamant that he has not but clearly lying, there is no love just hate. He grabs the saw. I am so scared. It doesn’t take long, the new kitchen is destroyed. And then me, why is it always on me? I beg him to stop, I go to him. It stops.

The music is so loud. She is in bed, tired of this game. My ear is to the door, listening intently, unsure when it will end or even begin. He is coming upstairs, my bedroom door is ajar, we share a moment, he wishes me dead. Maybe my 16th birthday won’t be so different.

I am too old for this, but yet here I am. We hide in our hotel room, pretending this is where we would rather be. He is nowhere to be seen but it is not hard to guess where he is. She is sad, why did she think it would be different? It is never any different.

She won’t do it, so I do. I take his hand and he squeezes mine tightly. A half smile to each person that walks by. No words. The moment is over.

I do not often think of my youth. But sometimes I have to.

Bronwen is design leader based in Melbourne, Australia. She pretty much loves anything design related but is a big fan of the UI kind, and she’s a massive advocate for females in design. She’s also a sport fanatic and keen netball player.

Bronwen is the founder of Artemis, and her core reason for starting the project was to find a way to hear other women’s stories. You can find her on Instagram, @bronwenrees or on her website


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