Life, mental health, Relationships, self love, Uncategorized

The rocky start of my Newcastle life

I started writing yet another post about Squaddie, then I stopped, then started again, then stopped.

At first, I considered that I might be resisting because it was still painful but I couldn’t find any truth in that. My gut was definitely not agreeing. Then I realised, I am resisting because I’ve discussed it to death.

So, I am going to tell you what happened with him but I am going to finish it all in this blog post.

After about a year of being together, I quit my job and went to Newcastle for Christmas. He proposed on Christmas Day after is agreed to move in (even though he knew I didn’t want to get engaged), he got on one knee by the tree while his family waited outside the door with champagne and a card- very presumptuous. Of course, I said yes, it was a perfect proposal to anyone looking in as we danced to our song afterwards. To me, it felt like a cage. I remember telling one of my best friends and having to practically mute the phone as he swore loudly and called me an idiot for tying myself to someone who treated me the way Squaddie did.

The engagement only lasted a few months. All the way through the engagement I got messages from other girls saying that he’s being sleeping with them. He’d always deny it and I was so dependent on him by this point that I chose to believe him.

He’d hammered the point home that nobody loved me except him. He even made me believe that my eldest sister (who taught me to read and tickles my arms until I slept when we were children) didn’t love me. I wasn’t allowed to go home at all. I wasn’t allowed out with anyone who wasn’t on his approved list and I even got into trouble for sitting near male colleagues at work. In my mind, I had him and his family and that was it!

I became so clingy and jealous. Not myself at all. I was even jealous when he would be out with his friends because it meant I was being ignored. I started to feel really suicidal after a while. Everything I did was for his benefit. I barely ate because he wanted me skinny, I let him do what ever he wanted with my body and when I didn’t say yes he did it anyway, I convinced myself that it was okay that he’d call me “fatty” or a “dirty slut” or when he’d “go too far” with “play fighting”. It was okay because my life belonged to him.

The biggest blow came when he broke up with me because I’d been “cheating”. I’m not sure how when I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. He became convinced that something was going on with one of his best friends.

After being dumped and having to move into a house share, I decided that I might as well act in the way he accused me of. His friend and I had a flirtation but nothing more at that point. Squaddie found out and was livid. He drove this guy to my house and threatened to kick him in infront of me.

I went home for a few days that summer (while we are split up) and built some strength when I realised that I was still very loved at home. I built more strength when a made an amazing friend in my new housemate. And more when I dated a little.

Then I must have gotten too strong because Squaddie returned to bring me back down. We “tried again” for a little while and then I got accused of all sorts and chucked. Again.

Again, over the next few months, I built myself up, I dated a bit and he returned.

This time, it started well, we got on and he seemed different somehow. Until Valentine’s Day when I was informed that he’d gotten someone else pregnant during our last “try”. That should have been it but it wasn’t, I offered to help him with the baby and everything.

Things started to turn sour again, fast. I ended up doing some awful things like telling his mother about the baby and telling him some family secrets. I was just so angry.

Then one night, he arrived at my house out of the blue so he could come to a party with me. We both got so drunk at the party and ended up fighting- verbally and then physically. It all came to a head when he stood on me while twisting my arm behind my back and threatened to snap it if I dared scream again.

I realised at that point that enough was enough. I couldn’t be with someone like that, mainly because of how he treated me and partly because I hated who I was when I was with him.

I’d learned to respect myself enough to walk away.

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Life, self love, suicide, Uncategorized

Falling in to adult life

Before I get right into writing this blog post and continuing my dark tale, I want to remind myself as much as my readers why I am writing this story. This is not a ‘poor me’ story, it’s about honouring the dark places I have been and appreciating the glorious light that was always and will always be at the end of my tunnel. My life is full to the brim of love and happiness now and revisiting the darkness is only making that more solid. I am grateful to be in a place where I can talk about the worst times of my life with friends and strangers alike and overwhelmed that even a single person wants to know more.

After my mothers funeral I decided that I wanted to change as much about my life as I could. I wanted to distance myself from all the hurt and pain so I applied to the council for my own flat and applied for a new job. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what I was thinking or feeling so became what I thought was the life and soul of all parties. If I wasn’t working, I was drunk. This severely impacted my relationship with D, I wasn’t the same girl any more. How could I be?

We had to empty my mother’s house quite quickly after the funeral as it was rented and empty. D should have been helping me when they day came to empty my room but after I had been waiting outside the house for an hour for him, it transpired that he wasn’t coming so I called Roxanne and within 5 minutes she was there with me. She took the lead in packing up my room and made several car journeys with me to move my stuff to my friend’s house. She is incredible (and super organised). Don’t get me wrong, I am not meaning to bash D here, what was going on in my life was too much for me to understand and face so a 19-year-old lad had no chance of being able to do or say the right things.

After a little while, I started to get ill all the time. In fact, when I got offered an interview from a place I’d applied for a job, I had glandular fever. It’s anyone’s guess how I got that job- I was ill, sweating, shaking and covered in lumps when I attended that interview. I was offered the job quickly after so handed in my notice at the Wimpy but decided to keep my weekend job at behind the bar at the rugby club.

Starting the new job at a Customer Service Centre near Cardiff was a breath of fresh air for me, it was amazing to be a part of a team that knew nothing about me or my past. I could just be me. On the surface, I made friends quickly but in reality they didn’t really know me. It was just as I wanted it.

Soon after starting, I was also given keys to my new flat. D’s parents helped me to decorate and furnish it. At this point, D and I were definitely not working any more but were both still trying to hold on to what we had once had. I was also holding on as I loved his family so much. We continued to push on for a while, as you will see.

Moving in to the flat was not what I thought it would be at all, I had no idea how to manage my finances or my home! My kitchen was always bare of food, I never had an appetite so never ate alone. My bills were racking up fast and I felt as though my gas and electric were always on emergency. The money I was making at my jobs was not covering much more than my journey to work, keeping my head just above water with bills and covering my nights out. I didn’t discuss this with anyone as getting into debt can be very shameful. I just wanted to look like I had my sh*t together!

It wasn’t long before money worries started to get me down and I’d struggle to get out of bed for work,  sometimes even calling in sick. I was now the one spiralling out of control.

On reflection, I’d love to have had the ability to ask for help at the time, to admit that I had no idea how to manage adult life. I’d never learned. I’d never been shown. I just couldn’t, all that I wanted to do was be a normal person. It was becoming my life mission to seem like one.

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Life, self love, suicide

The aftermath of the storm

I didn’t have to ask how my mother had died, I knew how. Deep down, I even knew why. She was dead because she wanted to be.

Knowing why, deep down, was not something that stopped me asking why. Why fight to get us back only to choose to leave us? Why now? Why couldn’t she just hold on? Why, why, why, why, why? You don’t expect that to be the main question you want to ask when you find out your mother has passed. You expect to know; not know ‘deep down’ but really know. The answer is expected to be something explainable by nature.

After a little while of asking why in between tears, we went to my eldest sisters house and I went to phone Roxanne. She had been out shopping with her boyfriend and was on the train home, not that it mattered to her where she was. To her, she was with me. We stayed on the phone saying nothing, just crying, for about an hour. D arrived at some point and comforted me while I cried and asked more questions beginning with ‘why’.

My mothers suicide was not like you might have seen on Netflix, with tapes left to explain the ins and the outs of why. There were no flash backs to a ‘will they/ wont they’ love story, there was no justice doled out to anyone with involvement in the downward spiral of my mothers last bits of time, there was no glamour. She had left the ward and checked in to a cheap hotel room. A maid found her. I am sorry if this is uncomfortable to read but that’s what suicide is. It’s uncomfortable. It’s pain, fear, humiliation, guilt. It can end the lives of the ones left behind if they aren’t careful. There is no coming of age life lesson in it in and you certainly can’t watch or participate in the aftermath of your own suicide.

We had to wait for a postmortem and an autopsy to be carried out before we could have the funeral due to the nature of the death. Going to hear the autopsy results was heart breaking but we all felt we needed to hear it. The main cause of death was asphyxiation but she had also massively overdosed on something that makes your blood pump faster and had also ‘cut’. She really wanted to go.

We booked the funeral for two weeks after her death. Planning the funeral was a blur of emotion, my older 2 sisters took the lead and we were fortunate to have help from family and close family friends. D’s parents supported me a lot during this time, his mother held me in her arms for hours one night while I howled like a broken animal, she helped me shop for a funeral outfit, made sure I ate and waited at the funeral parlour on a couple of my daily visits to see my mother. I’d sit in that room and talk to her in her coffin for often more than an hour. Outside of the safety nets I was building; tensions were running high. There were a few ‘disagreements’ around the funeral planning. D and I were even arguing, neither of us knew how to talk about what was going on in my life.

My close friends were amazing, as were their families. There was a lot of love given freely and in abundance to my sisters and I at this time and there was no shortage of people telling us how amazing, funny and loved our mother was. It was overwhelming but amazing.

The funeral itself went very fast and as well as it could have I think. It was like the day went in chunks. The morning of the funeral dragged, the friend I lived with helped me to get ready and my cousin was there with us. I don’t remember any of the journey there, barring the end where I learned you are not supposed to shut your own door when getting out of the funeral car. I nearly knocked my little sister out with the door! Needless to say, I really worked hard to stifle that giggle. There were so many people outside the church when we arrived, I thought we were going in first. We weren’t. We followed the coffin in to ‘The Rose’ (Westlife), which is all I remember of the service apart from my cousins now wife holding my hand from the chair behind mine. I focused on that above anything else. We walked out to ‘Seasons in the sun’ and I spent a few minutes looking for my dad, who wasn’t actually there.

We let off balloons on the way to the wake. I sat with my friends and hardly spoke to anyone and D went to Halfords to get his car radio fitted. His parents were there so drove me home early and I spent the night being held in his mothers arms, crying.

See? Nothing romantic or glamorous about any of it.

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Life, self love, suicide

At what age does life begin?

I had my first girls holiday before going back to my second year of sixth form- Gran Canaria. I was so disorganised that my passport didn’t arrive until the day before we flew! I could not live like that now. My mother did what she could to help with spending money and holiday clothes as I didn’t earn much at my weekend job; I think we did well to pull it together.

The holiday gave me a taste of what I wanted most in the world; freedom from worry. While I was there, I can honestly say that I didn’t worry about anything more than whether to have schnapps or tequila and what bikini to wear. It was amazing. Two weeks of being a normal teenager on holiday.

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Both bottles were chosen, in case you were wondering…

I came back to Earth (okay, Wales) with a bit of a bump after that. The girls I’d gone with were going off to uni, as was D but I was staying put and my mother was not getting any better. The second year of sixth form started abysmally to be honest; my attendance was lower than ever and I was constantly being pulled up on lack of effort. I had lost all ambition. At that point in time, I believed that I wouldn’t amount to anything so there was no point in putting in any effort. Going to uni didn’t feel like an option; how could I study and play nurse to my mother? It didn’t feel like the life destined for me.

My mother turned 40 that year and I turned 18. We both believed the same thing about our respective ages; that life would now begin.

Just before I turned 18, in the November, my sister gave birth to my beautiful niece. We were all really happy for a little while after that.

My 18th birthday went by with only the usual teenage angst- who to invite and where to go. It also brought on the need for a big decision from me, as a technical adult now I could work full-time and support the house a bit more- as well as be able to afford other things I wanted to do. I made the decision to not go back to school after Christmas and get a full time job instead. My teachers seemed genuinely upset by this as they could see all of the potential in me. I just wasn’t in a position then to act on it.

I got a full time job in the Wimpy pretty fast. In all honesty, it’s one of my favourite jobs I’ve ever had. I worked with some great people and learned a lot.

A couple of months – and a lot of breakdowns from my mother – later, my mother and I had a pretty big fight. It got very heated and I ended up hitting and pushing her in self-defence. She was lashing out like she didn’t even know it was me. I phoned my eldest sister in fits of tears over what had happened and she ended up taking my little sister and I in for a little while. It was a nice break to live with her, B and my nephew and I ended up staying longer than my little sister.

I went back to my mother after a couple of months, I think, but went to stay with my dad soon after. She was still too ill and I couldn’t be around her, she was always drinking these days and her episodes were getting worse and worse. D and I struggled with me being at my dads as it was further away from each other than we were used to so I arranged to move in with a friend for a while. The night before I moved in with my friend, I got a text from my mother. “I know you’re living at your dads and it’s okay. As long as you have a roof over your head and are happy then I am happy. Love you, Mam x”. I haven’t seen this text message in years but I still remember it word for word.

Things with meaning stick.

A week or so after moving in with my friend, I went to my mother’s house. She was sat on the settee alone and looked so sad. I felt a childlike need to cheer her up so went and lay next so her with my arms around her waist and head on her lap, just like when I was a child. We stayed there for I don’t know how long. I kissed her and told her I loved her before I left that day.

Just a few days after, I got home from work and received 14 missed calls from my eldest sister. When I called her back she told me to get to my nans house fast as I could. My mother should have been on a ward but I had a gut feeling that she wasn’t.

I got to my Nan’s to find my family in the kitchen. The words that followed floored me.

“It’s Mam, she’s gone. She’s dead”

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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