I have this huge idea to keep this short and sweet. A “behind the photo” type post, however, I know before I even start typing that this isn’t going to pan out that way.

They call me Ri and I’m very happy with that. After years of completely hating my name, my image, what I stood for in life, I’ve come to accept it. I’ve come to acknowledge this is my name and it’s not changing. I’ve grown into it, adapted my way of thinking to truly stand here today and say “This is who I am.” Something I’ve never actually been able to do. I’ve always felt so lost, incomplete, unwanted, unloved.. The never ending lists of negative words, negative feelings and negative thoughts. However it’s this, that has made me, Me.

My childhood history is something of a novel. It’s what I would imagine a 45 year old writer would have published because they have become so damn successful in life and feel they need to express the dark childhood they once had. I couldn’t be that brutally honest. I couldn’t share to the world the shame that I’ve been through. It’s bad enough telling the world that I allowed someone to degrade me in such a way for such a long time. Some people even look at me differently and express their sorrows because of the life I lived, however I feel nothing but shame and embarrassment that I even allowed that to happen.

So for now, it’s just a story of a girl that got left behind by a man she would have thought was her father, raised by someone else, who also happens to be black and received a lot of racial abuse and being told that she was a disgrace to the English race, even though her stepdad (however she calls him Dad) was born and raised in the United Kingdom. She was then bullied for being too thin, bullied for having a chest bigger than most teachers at such a young age, bullied for listening to a certain music type, bullied for expressing her love of religion, bullied on a regular basis for being normal however being told she wasn’t normal. These words all sunk in, etched on her skin over and over again until she believed it. She believed it so much she developed a self harming pattern, a coping mechanism to get her through the day. Each cut released the pain, the pain her heart was holding onto, when cutting couldn’t do it, thoughts of suicide took over, attempts on her own life started to take over, at such a young age of 13. Home life wasn’t the greatest, her and her mumma didn’t get along very well, it was a lot of fighting matches, screaming, ignoring, yelling, things that happened that just shouldn’t happen between a mother and daughter. She began to runaway, going missing for days on end, struggling to breathe, feeling the rain on her skin, knowing that she just wanted to disappear. As she got older, relationships happened, she got destroyed over and over again, never learnt her lesson, always loved, always gave chances, always saw the good in people. She never let go. Soon, she was struggling to trust, struggling to know what was real and what isn’t. Learning how people could look in her eyes and lie to her. Figuring out body language that picks up on someone’s behaviour towards her so she could know when enough was enough. She soon realised that her biological father was the biggest failure of her life, she become a statistic. “Daddy Issues” they called it. She got caught up in the worst things, turning to the wrong things to help her cope with every day life, she ended up in a relationship that should have never started, in those 4 years, she suffered, she become a mother, she fought, she survived, she started getting stronger. She was turning her life around right before everyone’s eyes, she walked away and for her it was the hardest thing she’s ever done. She’s still standing. She turned her life around, she found who she was meant to be…

This is where she becomes Ri. I’m 25, currently single parenting two beautiful children in a lovely seaside town in the Cornwall countryside. I am also happily taken in fact engaged, to a beautiful, kind man who lives in America. He has opened my eyes to whole different side to life I didn’t think was possible to find. A pure happiness, a true love. Everyday I count my blessings to have this man, a man so willing to love me, so willing to help me grow and be the best version of me I can be, so willing to be there for my children and treat them like his own, and this is where the Matthew John and Rio Elizabeth story begins.