Life, self love, Uncategorized

Time to really grow up…

After my mother left that ward, she continued to get worse.  I continued to stay out of the house a lot, I was either with my eldest sister and her new family or with D and friends. My older sister was now working full-time so either at work or with a (now ex) boyfriend so my little sister and I became a lot closer. We’d sit up with tea and biscuits until late into the night just sharing stories and laughing. Thinking back to this makes me a little nostalgic for those times as I do not get to spend much time with her now.

I was still seeing my dad occasionally too but he not much really, it’s the way we still are so it works for us. On my mothers bad nights, my sisters and I would try to calm and soothe our mother as much as we could but were back to calling ambulances more often than not. On normal days, my mother was spending a lot of  time drinking with her Fiance- either at the pub, at home or at his house. Life was this way for a few months.

At the end of these few months, we had another scare when our mother didn’t come home for a few days. We found out that she had been in hospital but discharged herself early, she had got a bed and breakfast but as she didn’t have much money couldn’t afford much else. One night she decided to risk stealing a packet of cigarettes, she was caught and the police were called. As she emptied her bag, she pulled out a knife. This was normal after the incident as she felt very unsafe and paranoid but she had never and would never have used it. Her previous court appearance came back to haunt her when they arrested her for the perceived threat.

She was sentenced to three months in prison. We had to adjust quickly- my little sister was 15 at the time so went to stay with our Auntie and my older sister picked up the house hold duties. I helped where I could but this didn’t always feel enough; especially as tensions were high and my older sister was pregnant and struggling to support us financially. She did an amazing job at keeping our home paid for and us warm, clean and fed. I will always be in awe of and grateful for the strength she had to support us while preparing for her first child.

I didn’t tell many people where my mother was and why- I was embarrassed and it felt that there was too much to explain. Nobody really knew that she was Schizophrenic either. Sometimes I wish that I’d been more able to open up then and perhaps not feel so lonely with my secrets but most of the time I allow myself to recognise and understand why I didn’t.

I only went to the prison once as it was quite far away. Once was enough with this experience as it wasn’t a very nice place to visit. It struck me to see how beautiful the grounds and the surrounding countryside were when the people in the building couldn’t really appreciate it. I had everything taken off me on the way into the visiting room and even had to stand in front of sniffer dogs to be checked and patted down. Our visit was watched but not listened to which was for the best as my mother was telling tales of the mischief her and her new friends had been up to (nothing illegal but definitely nothing to be overheard by the wrong person). She made it sound almost enjoyable there, even though I am sure it was anything but. It put my mind at ease to see her nevertheless.

I was quite annoyed by how much she missed when she was in prison so while she was in, I stole her bedroom. She noticed immediately on her return but said nothing so I kept it. 17 is definitely still young enough to be a bit childish.

My little sister half moved back in after my mothers return and my older sister moved out to prepare fully for her new arrival. The change didn’t really impact me as I was used to the revolving doors at home by this time.

Another thing that was impacting me but should have been were my upcoming AS Level exams. I was barely attending classes or studying at all by this point so I wasn’t holding out much hope. My mock exams didn’t go so well. This should have given me a kick but it didn’t. I had managed to get so far behind that I buried my head in the sand and pretty much gave up trying.

My actual exam results were shocking, it was clear I’d missed a lot of crucial learning. My teachers assured me that I’d still be able to complete my A-Levels with passable grades for uni if I knuckled down so I decided to stay on for upper sixth but was dreading not having D and my older friends in the year above anymore. I felt as though my options for escape were narrowing.

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Life, self love

A new time of new beginnings

Fresh starts and new beginnings have always played a major part in my life. Starting Sixth Form was a fantastic one for me, I’d already made friends with a few people from the year above so was excited to finally join them (in the common room and the good parties mostly).

School work started well, I got an A in my first Psychology essay, I had always loved RS and Law was, well… Less enjoyable than I had hoped but still interesting. When I had a free period I would spend time with one of my new friends, A. We’d go out for food and then come back and watch day time TV in the common room. We got really good at knowing where and how to sit to get the TV to actually work. You could say we were doing Yoga poses in front of Loose Women.

My friends and I started going to more gigs- Battle of the Bands and stuff. Rachel and I were still close and experiencing things together still. She had broken up with the drummer a while ago, so for both of us meeting new boys was another fun, new experience. She was getting closer to someone in the year above and so was I.

Things started with ‘D’ as a friendship for me. We would spend nights driving around, talking and laughing. It was ideal for me as I preferred to be out of the house as much as I could, my mother was drunk and crying a lot at this point in time. It also didn’t hurt that I was starting to quite like D and I knew that he was feeling the same. Everything started very sweetly for us with me mentioning that I’d never had a chocolate advent calendar and him presenting me with one. I thanked him with a very innocent kiss on the cheek and soon after that ended up as boyfriend and girlfriend. The L word came soon after.

I will talk more about this first love in more posts but first I want to say that this was a perfect first love for me. It taught me a lot about the way to behave and not behave in a relationship. It allowed me to make my first mistakes and to learn how to deal with others mistakes. It is something that has led me to being the person that I am in my now (and hopefully forever) relationship. I will always talk about D with respect, even when I address our mistakes as I believe it is important to pay respect to what makes me who I am.

A few months later, my mother came home one morning in pieces, something had happened in her life that I won’t talk about as it’s not my story to tell. I will just say that something awful had happened that was dealt with terribly by all involved. This sent her back to a very dark place. She began to self harm a lot more regularly and I ended up exhausted at my weekend job and school. I’d started to miss classes and my work started to get worse. My teachers were getting concerned, my grades had dropped that much. I felt like an unpaid nurse, except for when I was spending time with D and his family or my friends. That was much-needed time away, I am grateful that I had so many places to turn to.

Not long after that, my mother was back into a sort of ward. I remember going to visit her, with her now Fiance and thinking that she was a shadow of herself. It was so awkward for the first time ever, I just didn’t have the words to say. I don’t know if I would, even now.

Sometimes there just are no words, and that is okay.

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Yes, I am still this bad at pool…
Life, self love

Sweet 16 and going to court

After that horrible Christmas, things got a little better at home. And by that I mean we didn’t fear that our mother was dead for a good while.

She was still drinking more than she should be, we didn’t say anything as she seemed a bit happier in herself. She was still in her relationship so was out a lot but not too much to notice that my little sister was too. This resulted in the police being called out a lot- my sister was only 13/14 and wasn’t coming home for days at a time, our mother was beside herself with worry.

After a few months of the police being called most weeks, they were sick of it. Foster care was being talked about again for my little sister and my mother didn’t know what to do. One night, a pair of police officers that we were getting used to were around again and clearly quite sick of chasing a teen who simply didn’t want to come home. They showed their frustration and began to leave while my mother was still talking about what my sister had been last wearing. My mother was a little tipsy, mentally unwell and also frustrated so she put her hand on one of the officers shoulders to get his attention.

The next thing I know, my mother was arrested for “Assaulting a police officer”. I was there, she did not! Even with me as a witness, she was released on bail but we had to prepare to go to court. I was not only a witness to the incident but a character witness. So after some preparation time, off we went to the magistrates for me to hopefully not see my mother carted off to prison.

I was questioned by my mothers solicitor who asked me things like “what exactly do you remember happening?”, “where were you?” and “where were they?”. Then I was questioned by the police solicitor who asked me things like “could you have possibly missed your mother pushing the officer so hard he toppled over the settee?”, “you were on the PC, what were you doing?” and “do you have a boyfriend?”. Seriously?!? All I’d actually been doing was English coursework and chatting on MSN messenger. A bit inappropriate but my mother and I laughed so much at that one. I am pretty sure the magistrates found the whole a joke too as they released my mother that day with no charges (excuse the terminology, I don’t know…).

I still look back and smile about that day in court, trying to imagine my mother pushing a fully grown police man over the settee.

I was very close to sitting my GCSE’s at this point so trying to study, keep up with my friends, keep up with church and not worry too much about my family was my main focus. I was completely exhausted when I sat my exams. I was predicted to get average grades in most subjects- except French, where I was told I’d be lucky to get a D.

I’ve never really liked being told that I can’t do something so made it my mission to prove that teacher wrong.

After the exams were done, school was done. Roxanne was going to Australia with her family for what felt like the whole summer so our first party that summer was to see her off. We got messy drunk dancing to all of the current charts and some “Men at Work”, obviously… Her mother was really good about the whole party and carried me home (literally- only a few streets though) with no real judgement. She probably thought that my head the next day would punish me enough, which it did.

That summer was similar to the last after that, except for the fact that the boys in the year above now had cars so were much more interesting.

Collecting my GCSE results was an experience- a couple of friends and I had a party the night before to prepare ourselves. I did really well actually, an A, a few B’s and a few C’s. I got a B in French and still bold from the drinks the night before, sassed my French teacher about the difference between a D and a B (oops).

I’d done enough to get to 6th Form and study what I wanted; Law, Psychology and Religious Studies. I was really excited for the future.

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Life, self love, suicide

The calm before the storm

The last couple of blogs may have felt like nothing much was happening, that’s because it wasn’t. We had a limited time left with our mother and it was ‘the calm before the storm’. The beginning of this blog will feel the same. I am so grateful for the down time, it was necessary.

I, again, need to say that I often lose the order of  what happens leading up to these memories, often if the memory is traumatic so forgive me for jumping from one memory to the next quite fast. I feel that they are important to share anyway so that as close as I can get to my full story is out.

After my first boyfriend and I broke up, I was surprised to find other boys were taking interest in me. This was odd to me as I’d never felt like the pretty one. I’d always felt like the stupid one who made weird faces and didn’t quite fit in.

On reflection, I did ask stupid questions and didn’t have as much common knowledge as my friends. This was partly because I’d never really had an adult around permanently that I wanted to ask certain questions. I grew up with strangers a lot of the time and who wants to look daft in-front of strangers who appeared to be designing your fate?!

Another part of it was people listened when I spoke, they found me funny. I knew that they were often laughing at me but I didn’t feel bullied at all. I felt like people liked me and they liked me to be a certain way. I never acted as if I knew less than I did but I also didn’t hold back on asking questions and making statements that I probably didn’t need to make. In short, I was being inauthentic because I believed it was the way to keep my friends. FYI: it wasn’t.

While I was being chased by boys, my eldest sister fell pregnant with her partner and my mother met someone not long after! Cupid well and truly had his arrows out. My eldest sisters partner (let’s call him B for brother in law) moved in with us for a while until they had a house to move in to. This was great fun, it added something different to the house and he became part of the family immediately. I missed them both so much when they moved out but had my own life going on with GCSE’s approaching and parties/ camping every weekend.

Everything was great, we had a new baby on the way to the family – a nephew born on the day of my friends 16th birthday party.

My 16th was not long after and was very eventful, my mother was away for the weekend with her boyfriend so I had a house party. Of course I did! We invited some boys from the year above and managed to get hold of quite a bit of booze, everyone managed to get absolutely wrecked (which made church very interesting for me the next day- I still went quite a few times a week); there were girls crying, boys trying to pull- some succeeding and parents being ‘fooled’ when they picked their teens up. It was great fun!

Christmas was not so great that year though- my mother had started drinking quite heavily a few months before after being caught up in the whirlwind of new love. This didn’t really have an effect until Christmas Eve when she went out for cigarettes and disappeared, we spent Christmas Day without her and Boxing Day too, I think. She was found in a hospital, it turns out she had collapsed on the road side on the way to the garage. It was so cold that she stayed asleep for quite a while. She was very lucky physically but mentally was severely unwell and spent a few weeks in hospital again. That Christmas was the first time we thought it was possible she was dead. She hadn’t disappeared like that before. She was spiralling again but her starting place was a lot lower.

After that, the promise we had always had from her that she wouldn’t kill herself felt a bit empty. We all knew deep down that she wanted out. I thought I’d known the true meaning of fear but until this point in time, I’d had no idea.

Life, self love, Uncategorized

A life changing return

At the age of 14/15 something major happened in my life, my Dad came back.

I am not clear on how he made contact, I think it may have been something to do with my amazing Bampi (Grandfather) but can’t be sure. I remember him coming back clearly though, he was with his girlfriend, the one I have spoken about so they must have reunited when he went on his own journey.

My sisters and I were happy about his return but also very wary and cautious of putting to much faith in him. We’d go out for lunches with them and on shopping trips. He got my fist pair of Vans so I was ecstatic (I never skated but loved the skater boys and Avril Lavigne…). There were a few hard words spoken between a couple of my sisters and my Dad so it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine but it was so good to have my Dad back. I’ve always had a forgiving nature if people show change so was probably the easiest to win over, although I definitely don’t see this as a bad thing.

My mother was especially wary of my Dad and his girlfriend so there were some difficult chats with her. It shook her up as she was the one who fought for us back and raised us for these years and she now felt ‘second best’. This was not the case but my Dad was definitely a shiny novelty for us so we did gush over time spent with him. She became very unwell soon after his return and became hospitalised one very harrowing night. She wasn’t in for long, a few weeks perhaps? But my little sister and I went to live with my Dad and his girlfriend for a while. My little sister was in her element as she got to spend weekends with my Dad on their bikes and I was in mine going shopping, for meals, girly days and cinema trips with his girlfriend.

I missed my mother terribly but the peace of not jumping when the cutlery drawer opened was amazing so the time away was necessary. I was getting full nights sleep and doing very well at school. My little sister moved back to my Mams sooner than I did, a couple of months sooner. She wanted to be nearer to my Mam and her friends. I was bonding with my Dad and his girlfriend more and more.

My choice to move home came later, after I broke it off with my then boyfriend and made a few new friends. We liked to do things like going camping (aka. drinking in a tent  by a bonfire in the woods) so I wanted to be closer to them. My mother was also getting more and more upset that I wasn’t home with her so that massively swayed me too. I was happy to be back but knew that the good times wouldn’t last for much longer, my mother was spiralling again.

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I was super cool…
Life, self love, Uncategorized

Easter Reflections

Firstly, Happy Easter!

Whether or not you are religious, I think this time of year is quite reflective for most. It’s a time where everything reminds you of something, you look back to being a child and how you celebrated Easter.

Most people will look back fondly. So do I actually, even foster kids get Easter eggs.

Before I go off on a tangent, I would like to reflect on conversations my previous blogs have opened up. As usual, I will only use names of people close to me who don’t mind me mentioning them.

The first one I will mention really surprised me, it was with my girls from home- including Roxanne. They were really kind about my writing skills and content but also surprised at some of the things I had written; some because I’d managed to keep it that well hidden and others more because they’ve never known me to be so open.

This touched me but also shocked me as I hadn’t knowingly kept these things from my friends. I was just so used to hiding things about myself that even those closest to me have a tonne to learn.

Other conversations it opened up were a bit deeper. I spoke to one friend who said occasionally her anxiety makes her wonder if her children would be better off in care (FYI, they wouldn’t) and that my blog has helped her to see how extreme that thinking is. Others have spoken to me about their own childhood experiences and opened up a bit about how they grew up.

An absolute Goddess friend of mine, Christine, actually shared a bit about her life via a beautiful, raw and heartfelt poem. (Which she has allowed me to publish below)

As a little girl I sit in the corner and cry,

I watch my brothers as they smile and play,

No fears in their eyes as the days pass by.

I long for a hug or just someone to play with,

My parents are not home, they are out again,

If we get taken away, this family would be the fifth

I do not understand all that goes on,

I long for hugs, affection, smiles and love,

But mummy is out, daddy is asleep the blinds are drawn

This little girl has no idea what to expect,

Can not picture the future, stuck in the present,

Longing for the day not to feel anymore reject.

An innocent little girl, timid, afraid and scared,

Insecure, without a clue how to trust,

Little did she know with a great family she would be paired

Strong, brave and courageous she is,

A goddess inside and out, time for her to see

What makes her amazing like everyone else does

Time to stop blaming and beating herself up,

All she has gone through, all she has experienced,

Has who she has become, as she grew up

Grateful for those who stuck by her through the smiles and tears,

For those who helped her every step of the way,

Grateful for the life she is living, overcoming her fears

Amazing, right?

That is the one thing the people who have spoken to me about my blog and their lives have in common. They are strong, amazing, intelligent people.

I want to thank everyone who has spoken to me and asked me questions about my blog. This is why I am writing it, not for attention or validation but to hopefully help someone.

Childhood trauma absolutely does not have to dictate how you live now or what happens in the future.

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Happy Easter!