That's Life ( Pt 1 )
Dear Diary...life can never prepare you for the black clouds that can gather, leaving you feeling sad and alone, where no one understand the threatening depression that looms above you, to the point where every thought brings a mixed bag of submissive feelings, ranging from intimidation, to the emotional breakdown of ones ability to function on a day to day bases. Unable to think straight, the fragile mind whispers of the soul slowly being destroyed...being told over and over that you're hysterical and out of control, being told by the doctor that you need anti depressants to cope, mental cruelty is far worse than physical abuse because there are no noticeable scars, nobody can see or imagine the emotional damage that lingers behind the brave mask shown to the world.
It was on a cold Monday morning back in January 1983, that I decided enough was enough, when even the doctor didn't understand and hadn't been of any help, when he offered me those anti depressants, ripping up the prescription and throwing it away, as far as I was concerned if that was all he could offer me, then I needed to leave.
My bedroom at the front of our small terraced house looked out on to the street below, it had been my only safe haven for a few months now. Dad had reluctantly fitted a yale lock so that I would feel safer, though he couldn't understand why? It was no good trying to explain because only I understood the answer to that question.
It was early when I awoke on a Monday morning, the sun appeared to be shining through the flimsy curtains, not really fitting for my emotional state of mind. Afraid, I listened for the back bedroom door to open, waiting to hear his voice...it came as it always did. “What's for dinner tonight?” The all calm collective tones whispered, as if it were normal for me to be locked into this box of what seemed like a prison I called a bedroom.
I rocked to and fro, not quite knowing what I was saying, but my voice called out, “sausage, mash and beans!” Don't know where that came from, just seemed to be the first meal that came to mind.
Footsteps could be heard as he went downstairs. I shook asking myself the same old question! Why did all my friends and family judge me? I felt disconnected, cut off from reality, trapped in a loop of despair. I grabbed at the bed covers for some kind of comfort, not able to stand up, just staring off into the nothingness that was my life. The four walls seemed to devour me like a huge, hungry monster, leaving me breathless and once again in tears.
The room was stuffy and needed airing as I finally came to standing and wandered over to the window, peering between a crack in the curtains to make sure nobody was around, the street was empty, so I pulled them back, opening the window and breathed in the cold air. Slowly my mind cleared for the moment, I closed my eyes as a breeze swept across my face, giving me a moment of respite.
My baby lay sleeping soundly, he was nearly three months old now and was the only one who could put a smile on my face, he'd kept me going through the past couple of months, but after being told he had a soft cleft when born, life was not easy for the poor little mite, or for that matter myself either, with the hole at the back of his throat right by the vocal chord and having to spoon feed him, life had become hard, though now he was learning to feed from the bottle with a spoon shaped attachment the hospital had given me.
Quickly closing the window my son stirred from the draft that breezed in. I didn't want him to wake yet, not able to contend with my other half and a crying son. Feelings of unspeakable shame filled me with yet more tears as I contemplated my journey into the unknown, but even though I knew it was cruel to take my son away from his father, I had to think of my own sanity too.
Eventually I heard the front door slam as he left for work, This was it, I was on a mission, nothing else was as important, I knew I'd have to move quickly in order to leave, the longer I thought about going the harder it would become. Taking yet more deep breaths and making my way over to the wardrobe, I took out a couple of jumpers and a pair of jeans, these I put into a carrier bag with some underwear, then I emptied a jar of coins into another carrier bag, not having any idea how much was in there, but knowing it would buy me some time sooner or later.
The clock was ticking and my son was stirring again, this time I went over and took him out of his crib. Unlocking the bedroom door, I slowly made my way downstairs. The rest of the house seemed so cold and unloved, there hadn't been any atmosphere here for so long.
I remembered the parties we had in this house, with family and friends, one in particular that stood out was New Years Eve 1980, I smiled when I thought of us all doing the conga out the front door and down the street, joining with the local pub goers as they did the conga too. Then there were the dinner parties we had with thoughts turning to laughter and fun, but those days were long gone and would never return.
Placing my son in his pram, I went into the front room and turned on the electric fire, then went to make up a feed, it would be a long day and it was one long process sitting down and spoon feeding, but my health visitor had helped me and knew the difficulties I was having, telling me that she would be on the other end of the phone at the clinic if I needed any help, which I was so grateful for.
My son took his milk without too much trouble, though some did escape through his nose, but I was getting pretty used to the daily feeding process, discovering it was easier having him sit forward rather than laying him back in my arms. Once he'd finished and I burped him, it was then time to change his nappy...all I can say is thank goodness for the disposables! There was no way I'd have been able to cope with leaving if it weren't for them.
Placing my son back in his pram again, I went upstairs and got the bags with my clothes and money, also picking up my address book with phone numbers in and more disposable nappies and a change of clothes for baby. The two plastic bags I hid under the pram mattress, then went through the dining room and into the kitchen to make up some more bottles.
My heart by now was racing fast and the butterflies were kicking in, so I made myself a coffee and some toast, then went back into the dining room, it was a small space with just enough room for a dining table and four chairs. Sitting down, I stared over at the hole in the skirting board and wondered if our little guest was at home, it never bothered us having a mouse, we never found any droppings or missing food so we left it alone, I often felt as if eyes were watching even when I couldn't see the little creature, especially when we were eating our dinner.
Getting my son dressed was no easy task, not because he was difficult, but I found the more jobs I completed the closer I was getting to leaving...this time for good. I thought about the other times I'd left, but always returned out of sheer desperation, or because others had persuaded me that it was the right thing to do; “you need to work at your marriage!” They would say, but those people had no idea what went on behind closed doors and shouldn't judge me till they were in my shoes.
It was late morning by the time I was ready to go. I stepped outside the back door and gazed around at the garden, taking a last look at all my hard work, remembering the flower beds I'd created and the vegetables grown from seed, I could hardly catch my breath as the tears welled up in my eyes yet again.
I wondered about where I'd sleep tonight! Maybe the local church would give me shelter, I knew the local vicar as he'd found me sleeping rough in his church doorway once before and took me in, but sent me back home the next day, so that wasn't an option.
Anyway, this time coming back wasn't going to happen, so trying hard to be strong, I wrote a note to my husband saying that I was leaving, but that I'd be in touch. With all the fear looming I took one last look around, then opened the front door and stepped out into the street, closing the door behind me for the last time was so hard.
Gazing straight ahead...not looking back, with every ounce of willpower, I pushed the pram towards the park at the end of our road, feeling like a bag lady and hoping I didn't see anyone I knew, knowing if I did, I'd end up bursting into tears and probably sobbing my heart out to them and they would tell me to go home...that I definitely didn't need.
To be continued...