When I turned 18, I had a football tattooed onto my foot. To me, this symbolised the biggest part of my life for 15 years. Football had always got me through hard times, when I was playing, nothing else mattered.
Since the rape, I can’t face it. My rapist was one of my best friends, our relationship was built around our love of football. He watched me play, encouraged me to go for trials, and played FIFA with me. When I was at my lowest, football, and him, were always there for me.
The biggest part of my life, for most of my life, but also something he loved. It felt like playing again would be letting him win, doing what he wanted me to do. A reminder of him, and what he did.
One of the common symptoms of PTSD is avoidance, avoiding potential triggers, which for me is football, once the love of my life. In the short term, avoidance can help to remove feelings of anxiety and panic, but in the long run it can make it harder to move on and worsen PTSD symptoms. Something so painful does not have to be faced all at once, if you break it down into smaller steps and face them one at a time, it becomes much more manageable, and less daunting.
Over the summer I managed to get myself back into coaching, and played in a few friendly games with my colleagues against kids. This was a huge step and in the last few weeks I’ve tried to kick my ball around a little bit here and there, but a proper competitive game still seems a long way off.