Waiting

Last week I wrote about Abbie Greaves book The Silent Treatment and I was looking forward to reading her second book The Ends of The Earth. I finished reading it a couple of days ago. I would recommend it however it is a heart felt tale of love and pain.

Reading this book was bitter sweet for me. I enjoy Abbie’s writing but some of the characters took me back to my past. I’m not saying that these characters in anyway resemble me or my past. There are aspects of this sad tale which remind me of one of the bad times in my life.

Some people in my real life know bits of my story but I guess my mother is the only one who knows most of it and even so I didn’t divulge some of my truth until many years later.

When i was 20 I had been engaged for 2 years to M. After a falling out with his mother I was treated more like his mistress/dirty secret than his fiancé. Eventually I had had enough and broke it off. Some months later I began seeing A. He was an older man but we got on really well and he treated me so much better. He was serving in the army but we spent as much time as we could together. We had mutual friend that he stayed with at weekends.

At the time I had joined the Territorial Army in my spare time. I remember once being embarrassed when A had dropped me off for my weekly training. Someone commented about my dad dropping me off. Anyway it was t few days after my 21st birthday that I had been away on a weekend training exercise on Salisbury Plain. When I got back on Sunday night A met me at the barracks to take me home. He took me to our friend’s flat.

He wanted sex. I was tired, battered and bruised. I wanted nothing more than to sleep. He forced himself on me. I made it clear I wasn’t in the right frame of mind or body for sex. That didn’t stop him. I don’t remember how I got home, I guess A drove me. The following Saturday he came to see me. I told him we were finished. He was not happy. He raped me in my parents living room. I never saw him again for which I was glad. I never told anyone what had happened.

At that time police were not sympathetic and I knew that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, after all he was my boyfriend and this was years before domestic rape was recognised. Later I. The year I got back together with M. It didn’t work out, I had changed. Not only that but I found being alone with him difficult. I couldn’t cope with intimacy, I would always see the face of A looming over me. After several months I broke off my relationship again.

I found an ad in the local paper for a week in Austria traveling by coach. By this time I was 22 and in need of a break. I was travelling alone. Being one of the last passengers to catch the coach I had a seat behind the driver. During the long drive I got chatting to both drivers. Once in Austria we were split up around the village. If memory serves me right there were three of us staying in the house where I was staying.

Through out our stay there were events and trips each day. Most of the group were couples or groups. I was just me and often found myself with the drivers and our tour rep. Looking back I know that was a mistake. I was beginning to feel an attachment to the taller of the drivers C. We were spending more and more of our spare time together. Until I ended up spending the night with him. C was an older man (apparently I prefer older men), but younger than A. Amazingly when I was with C I didn’t see A’s face.

By the time I returned home we had swapped phone numbers. He had my home number and my work number. Whenever he was between trips I would catch a train to London where we would stay in cheap hotels. He told me he wouldn’t marry me but he wanted us to live together. I spent a few days with him staying with a friend of his. I applied for a job at his local airport.

Then the unthinkable happened. I hit a call from an older woman claiming to be his wife. S was 14 years older than him and he was 14 years older than me. I guess I will never know the real truth. C told me that he had married S to help her and her two daughters (my age). Every time he tried to leave her she cut her wrists or some other cry for attention.

For months I had to have my calls screened both at home and at work. S or her daughter would call me saying nasty things. I stopped seeing C. Then one night he arrived at my home saying he had left her. He couldn’t take it anymore. The next day we found a bedsit near to my work. That first week it was great coming back every evening to my meal cooked for me. The two of us together making plans. It wasn’t so great for C, he wasn’t used to being in a strange town alone all day with no work. It was his off season.

He told me that he had a friend in Norfolk who could give him work as a taxi driver Monday to Friday. He would be back at the weekends. He never came back. I refused to get upset. I couldn’t phone him, we didn’t have mobile phones in those days. After a few weeks I had a phone call from the Samaritans supposedly searching for C on S’s behalf.

I stayed at the bedsit until the end of our 3 month contract then moved back to my parents. While I was at the bedsit I didn’t see anyone outside of work and a few visits to my parents in the next town. I couldn’t give up on C, I couldn’t forget about him and move on. I needed to know where he was and what had happened. I kept my grief tucked inside me. I never cried, my health began to suffer.

I remember one day phoning my mother at work in a panic. I felt as though my life had collapsed, I didn’t know how I would get through the next minute let alone the next hour. I don’t remember what happened next but I got through the day. My work was suffering, eventually I handed in my notice. I knew I couldn’t carry on with my job in the state I was in.

I managed to persuade my Dr that I needed help but I didn’t want pills. He arranged for a councillor to visit me at home. Unfortunately he was about to change jobs so I only saw him the once. He told me that I was clinically depressed. We went through everything in my life that was making me feel so bad. That helped, just breaking it all down into different problems.

About a month later I got a job working in a bar then a job as an hotel receptionist. One afternoon on my way home I stopped at our local supermarket. On the way out I saw a face I never expected to see again. It was C. He waited for me to walk me home. As soon as I was home I ran to the bathroom to be sick.

It was 11 months since he had left me. He thought he could pick up where he left me. He explained that he had gone to Norfolk as planned but he had phoned home to check how S was. She was in hospital after another suicide attempt. So he went back to look after her. Now she was well and he was able to leave. I saw him a few times over the next couple of months.

I became pregnant, he said he was decorating the flat for S then we would be together. I lost the baby. Suddenly he was unavailable again. He did arrange to see me over the August bank holiday. Bizarrely I stayed with his younger step daughter and partner. We had become friends over the phone. She didn’t agree with how her mother and sister had been towards me. Anyway when I was supposed to see C it was S who turned up. I was suddenly very ill in the bathroom. Later we spoke and found that neither if us were the bitch we had thought.

Over the years I have wondered what happened to C and S. I moved on with my life. I met the man who gave me my four sons.

Abbie’s book was nothing like my story but it did get me thinking about it. I just remembered that one of my colleagues way back then once said to me. ” Your live life might not be happy but it’s interesting” . Thinking back on that comment I don’t know why she thought it was interesting.

Being absent in my own life

The last week has kind of passed me by. I feel like I have gone back to the first few months after my surgery. All I have wanted to do is read or sleep. I’ve been falling asleep 3 or 4 times every day. That’s not normal even for me.

I have been doing other things like a spot of gardening and a bit of avon. I have even gained a few new customers.

I have made an appointment to have a telephone call from my dr. I managed to get the earliest appointment Friday 9th April, after I was told I could ring up at 8am each morning to see if there are any available appointments that day. Whilst this is causing me a great deal of stress it isn’t urgent urgent. I have been dealing with this problem for 20 years but it is getting worse.

In the last few years prior to my surgery I was experiencing constant leakage because my bladder had deteriorated. This was very unpleasant and inconvenient but I didn’t feel unwell with it apart from the frequent kidney infections.

However my bowel problems are making me feel drained, uncomfortable and unable to do very much. Just moving around can trigger an “accident” . I have very little and sometimes no notice at all that I need to go.

Throughout the 20 years since I underwent radical radiotherapy for my stage three cervical cancer. (I know I’m lucky to be alive). I have tried to carry on with my life. This last week I feel as though I have withdrawn from my life.

Although I am my mother’s carer she is worried about me. I don’t want her to worry. Apart from not wanting her to worry I don’t think I can cope with her trying to diagnose my problems and come up with remedies.

I want to be my usual cheerful persona. I think when I see people I manage to carry that off but I spend so much time with just my mother I am sinking into myself.

Today I plan to pick up the last of my march Avon books and do a little more gardening. I hope my body allows me to do these things today.

Is resistance possible?

I am doing my best to resist. On days like this I feel my residence slipping. I took myself out into the fresh air and sunshine to do some deliveries. That helped to lift my spirits.

This morning I swear that we were having a competition to see which of us could be the grumpier.

My life seems to have been one long struggle from beginning until now. My struggles have been many and varied but through it all I have tried to stay optimistic. I try to be cheerful and bring a smile whenever I can. This is why I must resist the temptation to become a grumpy old woman.

I have always loved my mother very much, we have always been very close. Since moving in with her 3 years ago I have found that she is fast becoming a grumpy woman. I can understand that she is unhappy. Not only is she aging faster than she would like. Although it is over 30 years since she was diagnosed with MS for most of those years most people wouldn’t know she had it. In recent years her condition has deteriorated. In the last two years she has had to give up driving. She is angry that her condition has taken away her independence.

I do my best to overlook her grumpiness. Recently she said she has nothing to laugh about these days. I reminded her that I’m here and she can laugh at me.

It is a fine line knowing when to let her struggle to do things and when to take over. Most of the time I just want to say “let me do it!” I usually let her try to do whatever it is then after a while ask if she wants help. She is a very proud, stubborn woman.

Most of her grumpiness is not aimed at me but at the tv. I think this is what gets me down the most. It is just constant. What people wear, their hair, what they say. Bad grammar annoys me but it annoys her more and she is constantly saying so. The worst is adverts. It doesn’t matter how many times she says it, the advert isn’t going to change.

I try to ignore it but I’m finding its starting to make me grumpy too. I don’t like that my mum is becoming so grumpy and I don’t like that it is making me feel grumpy too.

I must do everything I can to resist becoming a grumpy old woman before my time.

What three words?

Recently I bit the bullet and joined twitter. I’ve found a few people to follow. I don’t really interact on there. I’ve left a couple of comments. My posts on here are automatically posted on there. I currently have zero followers but that’s no surprise. I doubt anyone even knows I’m there.

Browsing earlier I saw a tweet from someone I knew a few years ago.

What three words are you looking forward to saying when the pandemic is over.

For me it will be when I see my family and can say…

Let us hug

I’m not like them

I have often been told that I come from a long line of strong women. I am told that I am a strong woman too. I have memories of my Great Grandmother Alice but only as a very old woman. I have memories of my paternal Great Gran (mostly of having to stay with her and being fed undercooked eggs for breakfast). I understand that both these women were strong willed women in their day.

I obviously have memories of both my Granny and my Grandmother. My Granny was one of my favourite people in the world. I can’t in all honesty say that I knew a great deal about her life but I loved her dearly. She was taken away from us far too soon, She had a massive heart attack in the night when she was just 67. My Grandmother was a lady who I wasn’t so close to when I was growing up. I grew closer to her in her later years. How many women in their 90s complete a degree with the Open University.

My own mother has always been strong. My father wasn’t inclined/able to support us properly so my mother trained (whilst bringing up 3 teenagers) to become a Lawyer. Life wasn’t easy for my mother when we were small. She did what she could to make a better life for all of us.

During my adult life I have been reminded by my mother that we are strong women. I have been told by others that I am so strong. I struggled to bring up 4 boys whilst being married to an alcoholic. I survived stage 3 cancer in my late 30s. I fought to get through a nasty divorce. I managed to keep myself and 4 boys going through financial struggles following my divorce. Then I remarried and found myself hitched to another alcoholic who was also a narcissist. I managed to get out of that situation.

All my life I have been reminded that I am strong and come from a line of strong women. I’m not though. I have never felt strong. I have done what I had to do for my boys. I have always felt that I have to get through everything because I come from a line of strong women. I can’t let the side down and be the first non strong woman.

I want to be allowed not to be strong. I want to not have the responsibility of keeping up with my strong women.

WHY do I have to always be strong?

Relationships

A few days ago I went to have a look at a blog written by someone who had liked one of my posts. I started reading a post about relationships and letting God into your relationship. So many people give up on their marriage at the first sign of problems but if you let God into your relationship you can get over any problems you have.

This might upset some people but although I consider myself to be a Christian and try to live in a way that is kind to others. I do not actually believe in God. I kind of believe that there is something greater than us mortals but I’m not sure what. I digress. What I really want to say is that I think this philosophy that God will make your marriage work is a dangerous one.

It doesn’t take into account the many relationships that include abuse, either physical or emotional or both. It doesn’t take into account the marriages/relationships based on lies.

My first marriage was to a man who was what is now referred to as coercive controlling. I didn’t realise for a long time what was happening. It started with the dictates over what I wore. He didn’t like me dressing up to look nice. I ended up spending my time (outside of work) wearing baggy T-shirts, sweatshirts and baggy tracksuit trousers. Then there were the constant phone calls which, I now know, were not concern over how I was doing each day (multiple times) but checking up on me. If I was late home from the school run I had to explain where I had been and who with.

I was gradually pulled away from my friends. “They are using you”. When I eventually got a mobile phone the checking up increased. Even if I was with my mother the calls would be constant. In the end she would ask me to turn it off. If I had plans to go out, he would only arrive home at the very last minute to look after the children. Even having a part time job was difficult, I felt I was becoming unemployable because he often didn’t come home in time for me to go to work. That’s just a sample of what life was like in that relationship. I fail to see how this would have been helped by having God in my life.

My second marriage was not better, it was different. Again I don’t believe God would have made life better. When I met my second husband he knew that my first husband was an alcoholic and I didn’t want to travel that road again. It wasn’t until 6 months after we were married that I found out that he was a secret drinker. Our marriage was based on lies. I never would have married him or even gone out with him, if I had known he was an alcoholic. With my first husband his drinking was public. 18 pints of beer at the pub, any excuse for a drink. My second husband was home alone all day while I was out working. Now I know why nothing ever got done. He was sitting in his home office drinking bottles of vodka. No wonder he got through so much cash. No wonder he didn’t need to drink much when we were out.

My second husband is a narcissist, everything was about him, his needs, his wishes. His dislike of my children (he had promised to treat them like his own). He could never refer to them by name, to him they were ‘pond life’ or worse. I know this was a reflection on him not them. How would God have made life better when one partner is a narcissitic alcoholic?

These are just simple examples of the relationships I had with my husbands. There are many many people, not just women but men too who live in worse situations than I did. For them they need to get out of their situation not invite God to help them stay in it.

I’m not saying that there is not a place for God in marriages, just not all marriages. Some people would also find God helpful in their lives whilst they get out of their situation. God also has a place in helping people recover from those situations. I don’t think it’s right to say he can make every relationship work.

Do you ?

Do you?

Looking into your pale eyes
As they sparkle with your smile,
Our faces just inches apart as we laugh and chat.
Do you read what is written in my eyes
Do you see the hidden desire

The need to reach out
To touch your face
To taste your breath
As together we allow
Our lips to meet

The light touch of your hand
About my waist
So brief yet indelibly
Burnt into my memory
To cherish until next time

Do you have any idea
Of the calm turmoil
You create within
Your touch, your smile
These things I crave so much

Do you want it too
A time and a place
Where we can share
Much more than
A simple kiss

Spaces

Something else I wrote back in 2008

Spaces

Spaces everywhere
Spaces full of noise
Where children play
Where dogs bark

Spaces everywhere
Spaces full of things
Where books spill over
Where food wrappers collect

Spaces everywhere
Spaces packed tight
With houses and shops
With factories and schools

Spaces everywhere
Spaced dotted with things
Where occasional trees grow
Where lone sheep graze

Spaces everywhere
Spaces full of activity
With people hurrying
With music shouting

Spaces everywhere
Spaces that hurt
Spaces that feel so empty
Spaces where you should be

My quiet world

I was in my mid twenties when I first realised properly, what I had always known. I am partially deaf. As a young child I remember several late night visits to the Dr with ear problems. At primary school we had regular hearing checks. We would sit in a quiet room wearing headphones with the instruction to tap the box when we heard the beep. For some reason nobody picked up that I was tapping the box randomly just because I hadn’t heard a beep for a while.

In my mid twenties I was working on a cash desk in a cash and carry store. I realised that it depended where in the line I was working as to whether I could hear our supervisors. I also noticed that I could hear better from my left ear than my right one when using the telephone.

I had a hearing test and was told that unlike the majority of people with a hearing loss I was losing the lower tone spectrum where for most people it is the higher pitch. There is an operation that could be performed but the difference it would make would be minimal so at that time not worth going through, however at some point in the future if the change in my hearing was so that it became more beneficial I could have it done.

In my early 30s after having my youngest son I noticed that my hearing had got worse. Where most new mothers don’t want visitors knocking loudly on their door for fear of disturbing the baby, I had a note telling them to knock loudly. I was often surprised when one of the family rushed to the door when I hadn’t heard it. I had another hearing test. My hearing had deteriorated and now both ears were of a similar level. I would get a hearing aid but needed to decide which ear I wanted to be fitted for. I chose my right ear (I’m not entirely sure why but it seemed logical to me at the time).

Wow! I could hear the trains from our house, I hadn’t known that, or that our cooker made a noise when in use. I wore my hearing aid to work. Ouch my world suddenly became noisy, I could hear every printer, fax machine etc.

In my 40s I had yet another hearing test and this time got a hearing aid for each ear. This helped but it wasn’t really helping me to hear people. It was more a case of amplifying everything. I couldn’t wear them in the company of a group of children. Being involved in a local youth football club I was often in a sports hall with a group of enthusiastic children. Because I have no problems hearing high pitch it would become painful for me.

By now I had learnt that most children and the majority of women (so long as they spoke normally and didn’t whisper) were fine for me. However I have a problem if people are facing away or speaking from another room. Men who have lower tone voices and or have their hand over or near their mouths I have no chance.

I don’t watch a lot of tv, or rather I only half watch it because I struggle to hear what is going on. I miss the punchline on jokes. I guess I probably only hear about a third (if I’m lucky). It’s almost like watching silent movies with the odd words thrown in. Even talking to my own family especially my sons is a struggle. It is not unknown for me to think the topic of conversation is completely different to the actual topic.

Sometimes my problem isn’t the volume, I can hear people talking but it sounds to me like a foreign language. I have to listen out for clues but by the time I have figured it out the conversation has moved on to something else.

Contraction words are a big problem for me. I never know if someone could or couldn’t, would or wouldn’t etc. This is why I prefer to communicate via the written word rather than the spoken word. This has also caused a problem in my creative writing. I find it very difficult to write as people speak because I feel a need to make every word clear just as I would when I speak. Which I know is not natural for most people.

Through out my life I have been asked “what was that?” or “did you hear that?” Very often I didn’t hear anything. I am sure that for everyone who can hear properly it must be difficult to understand what it’s like to be in my world. I often get asked why don’t I wear my hearing aids more often. They don’t actually help. If I wear them I still can’t understand what people are saying but when I take them off I notice that the world has gone quieter. They make the world around me noisier but rarely make it easy to hear the spoken word.

My husband often said he would get an old fashioned hearing horn to shout into my ear. Not very helpful.

I want to ask my GP to arrange another hearing test for me(its been about 7 years since my last one) but feel that with everything else going on at the moment it wouldn’t be a priority for the NHS. I manage my life reasonably well in my semi silent world, it would just be nice to hear everything going on around me.

Early days of motherhood

I have been reading a book about a ‘Mummy Blogger’. In this book an aspiring writer is thrown into motherhood sooner than she was prepared for with the early birth of her daughter. She begins writing a blog about life with her new daughter. I have reached a chapter where she describes being incredibly lonely once the first visits from family and friends have dwindled and her husband is back at work. She spends a lot of time speaking to her husband on the phone whilst he is meant to be working.

Reading this has got me thinking about what it was like for me as a new mother for the first time. I had moved from Kent to Hampshire and was staying with my parents for the first few months. My father was commuting weekly between Hampshire and Kent for work. The father of my baby had been made redundant from his job. He hadn’t decided until my son was born whether he wanted to be a father. He was splitting his time between Kent and Hampshire until he found a job in Hampshire. I was alone all day Monday to Friday while everyone else was working. I didn’t know anyone locally, I didn’t have access to my own friends. This was in the days before mobile phones and even the internet . My days were revolved around my little baby boy. He was one of those babies that doesn’t want to sleep.

When he was 4 months old the three of us moved into a bungalow about 5 miles from my parents’ house. If I thought I was lonely before the loneliness was about to increase a notch. Now I found myself living in an old farm house with no neighbours. We had fields on two sides, woods on the other side and a Household Waste site across the road. My only access to a phone was the Public Telephone five minute walk away. I had no transport as my son’s father was using it for work. At least I had had my mum to talk to in the evenings and weekends before but on the plus side I didn’t need to worry about my baby crying now. I was the only one who heard him now.

Life did improve when I started working in a local DIY store down the road at weekends. My baby would be with his dad and I would be with other adults. I made a couple of friends who also had young children/babies. I’m trying to search my memory (this was 31 years ago). Both these women lived at the other side of the large village/small town. I walked everywhere in those days but I don’t think I would have walked that far. Maybe I did. More likely they came to visit me more often. Later in my son’s life I had the use of a car so I could drive everywhere but by then we had moved again to another village 3 miles from my parents’ in the opposite direction.

This little boy of mine now has a two month old daughter with his fiance. Although they also moved shortly before the birth of their daughter, life is very different now. Contact with family and friends however far or near is at the click of a button. With the wide use of digital photography and mobile phones I am able to watch the progress of my granddaughter (and my 18 month grandson in London) from a distance.

What are your memories of those early days of parenthood?