I know enough women who blame their behavior on their upbringing as though that renders it unchangeable.

I know girls who claim they just can't say no, or that they have to hurt everyone before they get hurt, or must be in control, because of their childhood traumas and abuses. I used that excuse for my own behavior once upon a time.

I came from what my school counsellors labelled "a dysfunctional family". Alcoholic Mom with her own issues, Dad who put up with her constant negative comments and insults and stayed around for us, an ADHD diagnosis on myself, several bitter single-mother man-hating aunties telling me that I should only live for myself and give nothing in return. My little sister cracked first when I started high school and she became, without going into details, the bad child. I got used to seeing flashing lights show up at our house.

As a child I had no problem manipulating boys for my own gain, giving nothing in return for their free gifts. I was pretty, and they were stupid, I reasoned. I lost count of how many I would kick in the balls for ticking me off even slightly. I destroyed people with words thanks to plenty of practice at home. I could turn a group against one member if I didn't like them. I was a monster.

I met my SO in the middle of high school, and at the peak of all the problems. Mom threatened to leave daily, my Sister was out of control, I would often cry myself to sleep holding my teddy bear (at 15, yes), and the only words that I could think to describe my situation was "broken home".

SO was the first boy I ever met that I wanted to be nice to. Plenty of orbiters had come before, but SO was different. He was always pleasant and funny, but never pined after me or placed me on a pedestal. I wanted to do things for him and be with him.

The first year of our relationship was hard. I frequently stayed at his place to hide from the chaos at home. I would blow up at him whenever he used my "triggers" unknowingly ("I'M UPSET BECAUSE YOU SAID X AND MOM ALWAYS SAID X WHEN SO YOU NEED TO STOP SAYING X!!!!"). He never complied with this, and bluntly told me that he wasn't my Mom, he didn't mean it that way, and that I wasn't powerless to react differently, and would disconnect to do his own thing until I calmed down.

I got angrier at first, but would soon apologize because he was still better than home. It started to click though, and I started to curb my outbursts of "I CAN'T HELP THAT I DO THIS BECAUSE ". I found myself in love with this boy, and was determined to keep him, determined to be better for him. To strip out every bad habit for him. And for the most part, I did.

8 years later, I still have a messy room, leave my homework later than I should, and take a long time to warm up to new people, but that's child's play compared to the monster I locked up. It's not gone. It will always be there, telling me to seek vengeance and slander those who cross me, telling me to punch, to blow up, to react to my old triggers. But I don't. Not anymore. I've practiced not giving in long enough that, what seemed impossible at first, is now easy to dismiss. New acquaintances are quick to describe me as "so nice/kind/helpful", even though I know how much of a selfish manipulative bitch I could be if I wasn't Hellbent on being better than that.

I changed because I wanted it enough to not let my past be my excuse. To not define myself by my upbringing. To be better than that. I am not my childhood. If you're using that as your excuse, I hope you can find the willpower to fight it and come out on top.

Every day, a little better than yesterday.