And I’ll see you again
I’ve been thinking about writing about my own experience for some time, but as usual life gets in the way and there’s little time to reflect. I feel now is the time to reflect, and through sore, puffy eyes I’d like to share my story.
We all want an amazing Mum, don’t we? The type of Mum, that when you peruse Mother’s Day cards you want the one that says “Mum, You Are the Absolute Best”. You don’t want to be sifting through cards thinking, oh that’s too much, or, that’s too ironic.
I loved my Mum to the core, we just connected. Everyone said we looked alike and we definitely shared lots of traits. Quirkiness, a dry sense of humour and something which could be positive, but also negative…..we were deep thinkers. We both liked to write and read poetry.
She was attractive, kind, loving, intelligent, and definitely a natural empath. She used to tell me she was a white witch, a good witch.
But then there was the other person. Not my real Mum. The black witch. The alter ego. Consumed by alcohol & mental illness, she could be unpredictable, violent, selfish and emotionally unavailable. Very often found draining a box of wine and being angry at life.
It’s one of those classic stories, born of parents who were both alcohol dependent, she had a troubled childhood and spent time in a children’s home that housed mentally ill patients. Her mother was then murdered when she was 17 years old. I won’t go on too much about her upbringing, as that was her childhood, not mine. But, it does give an insight as to how the seeds were sewn.
I was born in 1980, and my sister came along in 1982. As a very small child Mum did very well for a bit. She had qualified as a nurse, and she and my father ran an elderly people’s home in the early 80’s. I remember she was so sweet and funny, and told us silly rhymes, and gave lovely cuddles.
But it was here it started. I remember she would often disappear for a few days, leaving us with staff, I’d be crying for her in the night and asking where she was. My Nana would often come and pick us up and take us to stay with her.
My parents were going through a separation at this point, I’d be about 5yrs old. I remember being at primary school and she wouldn’t show up to collect us, or she’d send a random friend.
I remember jumping on her bed one Christmas Day morning, my sister and I, jumping and giggling, dressed in matching outfits. Mum “fast asleep” she literally couldn’t be roused. She used to tell us “oh, I could sleep through the fire alarm going off”. I obviously realise now she was just totally out of it, and probably massively hungover.
The disappearing acts continued, she met a few men along the way. There was one guy she met whilst visiting friends in Scotland. He came to stay for a bit whilst we still lived at the residential home. I remember there was a big fight on the lawn outside when my Dad showed up for something. It was a warm day and I was playing outside in my pants! Mum ended up getting involved and her hand got badly injured, blood spraying out all over the place. I was hysterical. She bore the scar on her hand as a reminder all her life, it was strange, it formed the shape of a 2.
And then one day cycling around the block, Mum AWOL again, I saw her car outside a cottage on the high street. I stopped, and with some trepidation I knocked on the door, to my surprise Mum answered.
She had met a new man, in the village. And then things really spiralled out of control…….
I could write a book with all the memories, and I probably will, but for this purpose I’ll point out the things popping into my head now.
Mum had my brother in 1990, followed by my youngest sister in 1994. Through the pregnancy with my brother she appeared to square herself up a little and drank much less. My youngest sister was a different story, and my sister arrived early, with a much lower birth weight than my other 2 siblings. I have always felt extremely responsible towards my young siblings, and I worried about them entering this volatile situation.
My Mum and stepfather both drank, the worst possible combination of people to have met. Initially the local pub was their favourite haunt; we would spend many a weekend sat outside with a bottle of pop and as a “treat” I could sometimes have an Appetiser…. depending on whether they had their beer and cigarette money. We went through waves of having money, and having nothing. Mum would then send me home from the pub to sort out the younger children whilst she stayed out drinking, embarrassing herself staggering home.
As a young girl I remember the fear of coming in from school, I knew they’d be drunk, but how drunk? Okay drunk? Nasty drunk? Crying drunk? Violent drunk?
The room would be thick with smoke and the smell of Riesling wine or white cider. Sometimes Mum’s booze would be in mugs… because obviously that was tea then, and not alcohol.
I’d always feel anxious and on edge, wondering if that night we’d be lying in bed listening to Elton John or Tina Turner on full volume, or Mum smashing crockery over my stepfather’s head, and him retaliating.
Then there was the mental abuse, telling me I had a big nose, and as a teenager calling me a fat b***h. Some of her favourite quotes were “Life’s a bitch and then you die” or “Life’s a bitch and then you breed one”. We had a fight once, she had got right up in my face, inebriated, and then grabbed me by my trouser belt hooks, she ripped them and ripped my top. I pushed her and she fell over backwards. I felt awful, I’d be about 14 years old, but I was angry and scared.
I remember during one big fight between my Mum and stepfather, he grabbed her hair and swung her around, pulling a bloody chunk of hair from her scalp. I called the police and the police came, as they did a few times, and, as usual she’d sober up and drop any charges. Another time after a drunken fight her ankle got broken. I had 3 weeks off school, caring for her and my siblings…. not long after I moved to my Nana’s house.
If I’m honest, on reflection, I think they (her and my stepfather) were as bad as one another when it came to the drunken violence.
In 1997 I moved out of my Nanas, she had taken me in at 14 to help me get on track again at school. Here I felt calmer and very loved, she was an amazing grandmother. (Unfortunately she was knocked over by a van, and died in December 2000).
It got really bad in 1999, I was living with a close girl-friend. Mum had a car crash, it was not her fault. As far as we know she was sober… a lorry hit her from behind, she was doing the morning school run with my younger siblings. My brother died.
This was however the perfect excuse to complement their lifestyle, especially my stepfather. Understandably consumed by grief, the drinking and fighting got really out of control. My stepfather started on heavy spirits and died a few years later in 2002, at 48 years old. My youngest sister ended up being fostered, but we remained close to our Mum.
All I ever wanted was for her to be “normal”, a happy Mum, the Mum making you a nice teatime treat, or sat down painting with you, supporting you with homework. But this was seldom the case.
When your parent drinks you seem to spend your whole life feeling guilty, overly responsible, anxious, worried, concerned, growing up too fast…… I could go on.
Fast forward lots…….with lots more random and tragic stories in the middle, and…
Luckily over the past year or so she finally got sober, it was great to see. Almost unbelievable, but amazing! I’m so grateful for this time. The best memory I have is my birthday this year. We had a phone conversation and she said “Kerry, my whole life I’d felt so sad and alone and then you were born and I wasn’t sad or alone anymore”. She told me she was proud. It crushed me, and I cried bitter sweet tears all day. That was Mum talking, real Mum.
Unfortunately my Mums sobriety was all too little, and far too late. Years of abuse had taken their toll on her body and caused huge health issues. On Monday, 07/11/16 she passed away in A and E, I won’t go into detail (I’ll save that for the book!) but I was with her. She was 58 years old.
I’m now grieving. Grieving for what could have been, grieving my lovely Mum, grieving the addict, grieving her bipolar illness. We never got to do the girly days out, or happy family gatherings, the lovely photo opportunities. It’s so sad and so raw.
So I want to say RIP Mum, may the demons you’ve carried around all of your life dissipate & be replaced by peace and love within your spirit.
Fly high ⭐️🌟💫 I miss you xxx
I wrote a poem this week, penned from my emotions.
‘Mum, Dying to Be Happy’
Sometimes a flower
Sometimes a thorn
Sometimes the gold
Sometimes the pawn
Sometimes the sunshine
Sometimes the rain
Sometimes the freedom
Sometimes the chain
Sometimes the light
Sometimes the dark
Sometimes a delight
Sometimes a nark
The ying and yang of mental illness
Stripped you of clarity
Stripped you of wellness
But it didn’t define you for all of your life
There were glimmers of hope
There were glimmers of light
You put the cork in the bottle, for that we were grateful
You lost the inebriation which made you so hateful
You were Mum again, if just for a while
That quirky sense of humour and gentle smile
It was lovely to see you so much calmer
No more shouting No more drama
It was lovely to laugh and reminisce
It was lovely to hug you and give you a kiss
And then that final kiss…….
On your head
For that was it, your human form was dead
But your kind spirit is free!
It’s as free as can be!
A shooting star for eternity
So fly high Mum
Be the flower
Be the gold
Be the sunshine
Be the freedom
Be the light
Be the delight
Be the jovial
Be the happy
Be all those things you were destined to be
And I’ll see you again when it’s time for me