THE INVISIBLE GIRL: Samantha Houghton’s Story

A hospital baby, born in October 1970, slap bang in the middle of the UK in the city of Leicester.

There was mum, dad and a younger brother, born three years later. I was a shy girl but with a big belly laugh as my uncle used to say. Mum was a stay at home while my dad, a creative designer, was somewhat of a workaholic. My dad’s design business grew, as did his love for alcohol and we moved to a bigger, better house and supposedly, a bigger, better life, except it wasn’t. Well not for me at least.

The transition from a city school, leaving behind my best friend (when you are shy this is a very big deal) to a little, cliquey village school, was far from easy. Moving into an unknown world of kids that loved horse riding or playing the cello, when you were crippled with self-consciousness at the onset of puberty. Afraid to show a glimpse of a bra strap under my cardigan or admit to being the first girl to start her period was traumatic to me. All I wanted to do was to hide away.

I got my wish, except it was delivered to me in a way I was not expecting. The taunting at school and generally feeling like a total misfit helped to install some insidious beliefs within my mind that I carried like a suitcase, bulging with nasty labels and self-loathing for the next twenty years or so. I wasn’t liked or wanted at school but I didn’t feel that I fitted in at home either. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that I was loved, I was always dressed well, we ate good food, enjoyed beautiful holidays and I was shown affection by my mum and I felt close to other members of my family. There was nothing that an outsider would spot that was amiss. But that was the trouble, they didn’t know what it was like, nobody did, except me.

I felt so alone. I locked myself away into make believe stories in my mind, it was safer there, I was normal too and escaped judgement. My dad was absent a lot, preferring the company of the pub and what was in his beer glass than to be at home with his family. Mum would be suffering and I’d see and feel her emotional pain, if it wasn’t visible tears, or hurting words, it would be the trips away from the house to visit someone else so that she could get away from the turbulence at home. Sometimes I went with her but other times she’d be alone and leave us with dad. Dad, in his drunken state, would shift between silly drunken foolish behaviour that left me cold and seething under the surface, or angry shouting and aggressiveness until he would collapse in a heap on the sofa and proceed to snore heavily for the remainder of the evening.

This was normal procedure in our house. The thing is, the next day, we were all expected to behave as if nothing had happened the night before, and brush it under the carpet with the memories from the time before, and the one before that too. There was quite a collection of fragmented torment. It made me angry. Well I say it made me angry, I’m not so sure if I honoured that emotion at the time as I was fearful, and very afraid to reveal any of my angry emotion. I’d be torn between sympathy for my mum, sadness and rage towards my dad, ferocious anxiety that gnawed away at me and an overriding concealed fury at all of the situation that my brother and I had been dealt.

With no real true connection with friends that I could wholeheartedly rely on, I felt that my ship was sinking. Social anxiety took hold and doing my paper round became impossible, and gradually, so did going to school. Anger that is suppressed for long enough, or too long some may say, transmutes into depression. It expressed itself as never ending rivers of tears, feelings of such darkness in my heart and a self-hatred that overwhelmed me. I was not enough.

Prescribed anti-depressants at age 15 and a diagnosis of chronic depression, it was only a matter of time before the Samaritans no longer felt enough of a support for me and I was admitted to a teenage adolescent unit. Away from home, away from school and away from the world. Safe. Sixteen months of pills, therapies, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, I was let go and expected to integrate back into society as a healed young woman.


Except I wasn’t because the truth was never told. Instead, I was more locked into my anger than ever, because I’d received help, that hadn’t helped and I remained invisible. How despairing that felt at 17 with my future ahead of me, and all I wanted was to disappear.

Over the course of the next several years, throughout my twenties, I depended heavily on my new found friend, Bulimia, to see me through those very difficult years. My twenties brought me an overdose, some breakthroughs – I completed college, I met a man and got married, and I lost six stone. It also brought to me several hospital stays on mental health wards, some new labels, increased self-hatred and a whirlwind of finding jobs, getting jobs and leaving jobs. I could not settle with work, nor friendships but most of all with myself. I didn’t even know who the woman in the reflection of the mirror was when I checked to see that I’d left no vomit around my mouth after my latest purge.

Then came the day, aged 28, that two new lives were born. My beautiful baby boy, Joseph, and mine. The love for that little boy was instant, a fierce protective mother’s love like no other, and I knew that it was no longer about me. The little bundle that I peered down at while asleep in his cot deserved everything that I never had. Self-belief, self-love, self-confidence, self-respect and a sense of peace. I was going to do everything in my power to ensure he had those essentials and more. With my love for my son, I gradually learnt to love myself. When he was three, I took a huge leap and left my marriage, Joe and I left our home and set up a new life together. I felt freedom that I had never felt before but it was not smooth or easy.

As I embarked on a path of healing my inner child, the grieving I had to do was immense. I wept every single day for two years as I worked through psychotherapy. It was a huge challenge as a single mum as I had no choice but to hold down a job, despite the pain I was feeling after years of numbing it out. The pain was exhausting at times and I made some decisions, such as unhealthy relationships and relapses of bingeing, that added to this. I was after all, a master at self-loathing. But I came through, as my determination to be happy and to be the best mum that I could for my son ensured nothing less.

Can you share some tips of self-love that worked for you?

Embracing CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) was a game changer for me, after grieving my past and re-parenting myself, most of all, for the sense of self-respect that it brought to me as I learnt to challenge my thoughts, to alter my emotions which created new behaviours and patterns that served me. I continued to express my feelings through written word, as I’d found as my saving grace from my school days, with my love for English Langauge.

With new found confidence and a son now aged around 12, I took one of the biggest plunges of my life, and walked away from a job that depleted me and into the uncertain world of self-employment to follow my dream of creating a life on my terms. My dad, even though he had his problems and solved them in his way, had instilled within me, a superb work ethic and a desire to be my own boss. It turned out to be the making of me as I threw myself wholeheartedly into a passion that brought out a side to me that had been in hiding for decades.

What inspires you the most?

Every single day, my former self, the young sad girl that wept in her bedroom alone inspired and motivated me to be a success. I thrived as I sought one achievement after another, making myself and my family proud. No-one could now think of me as the sad, lonely, misfit failure.

Throughout the five years of building that retail business, I found my truthful voice and I wanted to use it to make a difference, I was ready. Once that decision was made, my passion for my business waned and waned until I was ready to release it all to step right back into the unknown all over again. After burning out from trying so damn hard to prove to myself and the world, that I wasn’t a failure, I took some quiet months out to recuperate. The voice within me, that was guiding me, became a scream that I heard loudly in the silence of not working and stillness. The calling to share my story pulled me like a magnetic force until it became a burning desire as I put pen to paper. Sixteen days later and the book had flooded from me, covering every emotion that could be experienced in succession. With a “no-one’s going to stop me” passion the book was brought to life and six weeks later it was published. The magic truly began as I found myself onto a path of alignment as I held my truth and walked forwards in strides, with such love for myself for gifting this to me, as it helped me to heal the stubborn shame that I still kept a firm hold of. I was determined for it to make a difference in people’s lives that felt alone and struggled with knowing who they were and their self-worth.

Three years later, with another book under my belt and a thriving new purposeful business, I have been on such a journey. Every day, I now get to guide others to navigate their journey of their soul’s story which is such a blessing. It brings me rewards and fulfilment that I had craved for years, by turning my pain, and their pain, into a powerful purpose to inspire and light up the world.

What would you tell anyone going through what you did?

To anyone whom is struggling right now as they read this, please believe me when I say that you are not alone. When you feel alone, the sadness can be immense and the feelings of not fitting in. Try asking yourself if it’s for another reason, for some purpose greater than yourself?

What can you do with the pain you feel or have felt? How incredible would it feel to take that suffering and transform it into something beautiful to guide others, whatever it may be.

Talk to someone who may understand and that you trust, I can recommend the Samaritans if there is no-one else. Never carry the load alone, you must offload along the journey of life.

Have faith that better days are coming and dig deep to find your reason to find and feel a strong, unwavering sense of purpose.

Be kind to yourself, give yourself the compassion you would freely show another and multiply that by ten. And do it regularly.

Write, explore your feelings through the cathartic nature of creative writing and self-expression. As you write your “old story” and release, you create the space to call in a new story of self-love, self-care and nourishment for your soul.

Lastly, be aware of how powerful your mind is and how to use your imagination wisely. For years, my imagination and damaging thoughts ran wild, the self-defeating stories that I told myself, that I assumed were my truth, were the driving force of my life. I created energy through what I was thinking and the emotions attached to them, this created my reality before me – the negative loop I was entrenched in for a very long time. Don’t be that person to remain stuck in a manifestation of pain and sadness, instead, turn that pain into purpose.

Author profile
Samantha Houghton

Samantha Houghton is an award winning author, multi published ghostwriter and inspirational mentor.