The ages of 12, 13 and 14 were all about finding things for me. Finding out more about my mother, finding a boyfriend, finding the Church and finding alcohol. It was all going on.
Finding out about my Mother
I don’t remember how this came about (or where my mother was), but I remember my two older sisters and me finding, and reading, all of my Mams medical notes, letters and diaries. I am a bit of a ‘goody two shoes’ so I imagine that we were allowed to read this but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.
I won’t go in to what I read as that is not my story to tell. I will tell you that it gave me a tonne of insight into why she was the way she was. I learned a lot and most of it was not what I should have been learning.
In my later teen years, I wanted to take all of what I had read and turn it in to a book. I am so grateful that my family didn’t let me. I wanted to use everything I knew in the most spiteful way.
Finding a boyfriend
To start this bit, I should explain that I was spending a lot more time with Rachel through these years. Roxanne and I were still close but we were developing different friendship groups due to our sometimes opposite interests.
Rachel and I were getting a taste for more alternative music – Rancid, NOFX, Green Day and The White Stripes were heavily featured in our play lists.
Our alternative tastes also stretched to boys. Rachel found a drummer to spend time with and it was logical for me to get closer to his guitarist best friend.
It wasn’t long before we were ‘girlfriend’ and ‘boyfriend’. It’s funny to look back at as we were an odd match but he was a very sweet lad. He was the first to say he loved me. I am sure I, eventually, said it back but it wasn’t something that was seriously on my radar. I was happy for the friendship, support and distraction he offered when my mother wasn’t well but any more than that was a bit of a push.
Finding the Church
As Rachel and I spent more and more time together, I spent more and more time at Church.
Rachel’s family was the foundation of the Church that we attended, a small local Church, which meant that to spend time together I would choose to tag along to the services.
I was always open about my faith (or lack of) but this didn’t bother the community at the Church. I am certain that they could see right through how I felt and knew that I needed the comfort of a place to go where I felt completely at ease. I absolutely fell in love with the ‘Church family’ and I know that they loved me too.
Nobody pushed me to become a Christian, it was understood that I wasn’t there to mock religion or bring any bad feelings. I had faith in something, I just couldn’t name it. I am grateful that I had that experience.
I loved the drives to and from the Church as we would pick up and drop off people from all around the town. Obviously we would be first in and last out of the minibus so Rachel and I would sit at the back, sharing the headphones of a Walkman and gossiping. That was my happy place at this time, I would have been happy to sit in that back seat permanently and never go anywhere else. I had no idea that I was completely avoiding going to my own home, even when I spent quite a few nights a week sleeping at Rachel’s.
Again, I don’t know when this started, sorry for my terrible memory! But at some point in these years, my mother and I started to drink together.
It must have been after I was 13 actually, as that is when I remember first trying vodka. I think my mother must have been off her meds at the time as I asked her if we could by a bottle of vodka for a family party and she let me!
I convinced myself that the right thing for me to do with this vodka was drink it all, by myself, naturally. I ended up spending the night in the kitchen, swigging vodka from the bottle!
I clearly got myself in to a state and ended up convincing myself I was dying. My mother and my older sisters boyfriends little brother- who was in the year above- helped me into bed with a bucket next to me. All this time, I was crying that I didn’t want to die! How mortifying!
After that, I seem to have gotten a taste for drinking as my mother and I started going to Cardiff for shopping, food and cocktails on a Tuesday. I took these days off school and felt so grown up for it. We would have dinner in Lloyds bar along will cocktails after (sometimes during) shopping. It was so much fun and I even got served at the bar a few times.
We were always careful not to miss the last train home as my older sister (second) used to call us and tell us off for being drunk when I had school the next day.
At the train station we would call up to the prison to offer cigarettes and rope that we never had, never-mind threw to them. I thought it was the best fun in the world. My boyfriend was worried and used to ask if I was an alcoholic. I wasn’t, it was just fun for me to have my mother as my best friend. I still remember those days with laughter and fondness. I don’t regret missing school for it. It was worth it to feel so close to my mother.
Those years feel like the real end of my childhood as I was turning a corner into being what I thought was more independent and more grown up. I think there are a lot of things that can be looked back on and picked apart with reason and more emotional awareness but I wouldn’t change them.
They built the woman I am today and I enjoyed them thoroughly.