Darkness Stayed After Mum
Peace and Love Quest Fraught with Peril
I couldn’t say I had a normal childhood. Mum was frequently ill, and as a child I recall being sent to family since I was a baby. My Dad got a better job which meant leaving the security of the family, and when we moved away, I was left in the care of Mum.
Mum seemed to like the new area, and I was well looked after. It wasn’t until I went to primary school at age five that I asked what the rope was in the gardens and was told that they were clothes lines where you hung your clothing to dry. We used the radiators, as Mum never went outside. Because if Mum didn’t go out, neither did I, unless it was with Dad. I began to realize that my home was different from the other kids in my class.
Soon Mum was ill again and sent off to the old Victorian Mental Institution miles away from home. I was sitting on the stairs listening to the doctors examining her and Mum screaming that she wasn’t going back. I didn’t see her for about three months and she had been given ECT (electro convulsive therapy). In the late 1960s you didn’t get pain killers with the treatment. When Mum returned home, she had no idea that I was her child. And so I went to stay with family. In the end, I stopped feeling anything for my Mum. She had spent all of my childhood and well into my twenties in and out of hospitals having different medications and therapies.
My life as an adult wasn’t brilliant. I made awful mistakes. I would absorb myself into the families of boyfriends, making myself into someone they would love. I had children and vowed that I would be the best mother I could be. But my husband fell in love with someone else and set up home with her and my children, resulting in my first breakdown. I wasn’t a fit person to look after myself or my children. Then he moved away. I had no idea where they had moved to. Breakdown number two began with new meds and therapy, but nothing could take my pain away, so I thought I would. I had been cast as an unfit mother so my children wouldn’t miss me, as they had a perfect new Mum.
I collected tablets, went to the doctors with bad headaches. They prescribed painkillers, and didn’t question me. I took them and found myself spending time in the hospital. It took a lot of time to feel at peace in my life.
When I slowly got back to my Mum, I think she started to care. I then remarried. After eight years of marriage, he started to change and do things I didn’t like. In my dreams I would wish him harm in small ways. But toward the end of our marriage, I wished nasty things to happen to him. I found the strength to leave him and was getting a grip on my life, when he died within a few months. Feeling horrendous guilt, I blamed myself for two years. Pushing the guilt to the back of my mind, I tried to forget anything about him and our life together. I just could not settle anywhere. Then I met a man and fell in love again.
With this man, I felt that I had never experienced anything like I felt for him. At last I was truly loving and being loved. After about one year, I found out that he was having an affair with another woman. My life was shattered again and I wanted out. I began collecting tablets again.
One Sunday when he was out, the tablets went down with a bottle of wine and I went to bed. He came back home because I had acted odd, and caught me just in time to save my life. But I am living with the consequences five years now. The guilt from wishing my second husband dead, losing my children, and then the affair, all mixed in with the pain of my Mum was just too much.
The darkness that came afterward lasted a long while. But nowadays, I am able to see the signs of when I am slipping downward. And I am now able to ask for help. Losing my Mum was scary for me. Those around me thought I would be unable to cope. Some days have been hell to go through. But I breathe, and that’s all that matters in the moment. Small steps now will lead to bigger and better ones soon.