Life, Relationships, self love, Uncategorized

The night a dog saved my life, and other short stories

I flew home from Magaluf in the October. I only told one person when my flight was, Roxy, my best friend that had planned to come to Magaluf with me. She came to meet me at the airport when I’d flown back. It was so amazing to see her.

We spent the whole journey back to her parents house sharing news and plotting for the weekend. The plan was for me to hide there until the Saturday night when she had arranged a night out with the girls. I was going to surprise them. The surprise kind of back fired as there had been a second plot- a party at Roxanne’s to welcome me home!

I felt so lucky to have such amazing friends, I still do. That night we went into Cardiff, drank, danced, shared yet more news and the rest was a happy blur of laughing. I stayed out that night to extend the party but was sure Roxy would be up when I got to her parents house. She unfortunately wasn’t so I hunkered down at her patio table in my tiny white dress and hoped not to freeze. As I started to snooze, I felt this heavy thing land on my lap, I looked down and one of her German Shepherds was cuddling me, then the other came along and did the same.

By the time Roxy’s mother saw me through the kitchen window I was as warm and cosy as could be with the dogs. I must not have looked that way though, she was sure I was dead at first. Whoops!

After these escapades, I realised that I needed to find a place to stay and a job too! My elder sister (2nd oldest) took me in, I stayed there for a week or two but I couldn’t find a job and wasn’t allowed to sign on. I also spent all of my free time writing to or talking to Squaddie. Needless to say, I was a terrible house guest! So, I moved back in with my friend after a year of being away, I got a job in a pub with her help and tried to be better there than I was at my sisters until I could find somewhere more permanent.

The plan was to move in with Roxy when she moved into her flat. I fell in love with that flat the moment I saw it and could just imagine some of the amazing times we’d have there.

In the meantime, Squaddie was planning for R&R and wanted to come and see me. Of course, I jumped at the chance and we arranged that he would come straight to me from Brize. It felt like a dream to me at the time when he did just that.

Instead of going straight to Newcastle, he came to me. We spent the night in a hotel in Cardiff Bay and had our first real date. I think it was dinner and a movie but I can’t think what we would have watched. The next day, he didn’t want to leave me and I didn’t want him to leave.

So we both got on a train and went to Newcastle. I spent his entire R&R with him.

I met all of his family, friends and exes while I was there. Even his family from down south. He showed me around the Toon and took me to my first football match.We were inseparable when he wasn’t driving his ex to college. I let this slide because I believed him when he said he loved me and felt bad because she still had feelings for him. He wanted to let her down gently.

Ladies and gents, this is very rarely true. Just saying.

By the end of the two weeks together, I was convinced that I loved him too and this would last forever. I immediately wrote him a letter to tell him.

And when he received it, he changed. I was hooked. Less work for him. But I am jumping ahead there.

I moved into the flat with Roxy the day I returned and decided to leave the fact that I’d essentially quit my job to go to Newcastle for another day.

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Life, mental health, self love

Chasing the summer dream

It didn’t take long to prepare to spend the summer in Magaluf. I planned it all out with one of my best friends (who was going to come with me), bought a one way ticket, gave notice at work and that was pretty much it.

I didn’t give any notice with the flat as I owed so much rent at that point that I doubt I would have been welcome there much longer. I did, however, offer my furniture back to D’s parents. They took me out for a goodbye/good luck dinner and told me that they didn’t want anything back and to sell what I could for a bit more financial security.

As the end of my notice period got closer, I got more and more excited to leave. My friend and I spent so much time talking about what we would do there and how fun it would be. She would be there first- on holiday – then I would join a couple of days before she was due to fly home. Solid plan. Or so we thought.

The day came to leave and all last minute plans were made. A friend of a friend (P) was doing the same so we had it all arranged to fly together. My brother in law (B) took us to Cardiff airport, my eldest sister took my keys to hand back to the council and that was it.

On the flight, we met someone who already worked out there so asked for (and accepted) loads of tips and advice. He shared a taxi from Palma with us when we got there and told us where to find him if we needed anything. I didn’t think we would need much, if anything, as I had my plans with my friend. When I got to her hotel things started to go wrong quite quickly.

There was no room for P, and my friend really didn’t look well. P and I found a room of our own in a hotel on the strip and set out to look for somewhere to live and a job the next day. Luckily enough, we had received tips on where to ask for a cheap room so getting a place to live wasn’t hard.

I managed to get a trial in a bar that night but it didn’t work out. All that time behind the bar at the rugby club didn’t help me- I am naturally a truly terrible barmaid!

I had a night out with my girls on my second night- right after moving in to the apartment and failing my first job trial. I decided that I’d look for a job the next day with my best friend when the rest of the girls had flown home.

It did not work out that way, not at all!

It turned out that my best friend had contracted swine flu and needed to go home. I was on my own!

I didn’t really know what to do in a different country with no real friends so I did what any 19 year old would do in Magaluf. I partied, I sunbathed, I worked (selling jelly shots) and partied some more. I made friends with my flat mates. There were 2 girls and a guy already living there when P and I first moved in. The guy started to try it on with me immediately but I put it down to him being a chancer with all the ladies and laughed it off.

I was having lots of fun blocking out all the pain I’d been feeling in Wales. Or I thought I was at least.

In reality, my self esteem was getting lower and lower and the risky situations I was getting myself into were unreal and this was my first job there (the quiet, family vibe, safe one). I was disrespecting myself and my body from the get go. I didn’t realise that I had a duty of care to myself.

I won’t berate my teenage self for this now as it’s not deserved. It’s easy to go off the rails when you feel so worthless and full of pain. And besides, even the stuff that comes next made me who I am so I can’t regret or want to change it.

I love who I am.

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

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

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.