Touching My Own Void (cont-2)

The next day I went to my therapists and could barely wait to get through the door to tell her.  I had realised that I have to change, staying the same is too painful for me and really it is not an option.  I did another thing which was interesting, I decided to dress up, with a hat, which I love to wear.  As I put it on in the car, I realised I felt very uncomfotable and did not know why.  the it came to me ‘who the hell do you think you are, what do you think you look like?’ I know in the past I would have taken it off, but not today, I defiantly put it on and said ‘fuck you’ to the voices inside my head that kick into action the moment I try and look good. ‘Here she goes again, attention seeking, trying to look lovely, blah, blah, blah, blah’ and on they go, I call them the committee.  Is it any wonder I barely got out of bed? Should I breath in or out now, just so you fuckers stop critising me, the fact that I have the audacity to get up, breath in and out pisses them off, they begin the moment I become conscious, sometimes even before I have opened my eyes, they are in for attack………..So today, I choose to wear a hat and take a deep breath. T

I was nervous as I anticipated some judgement from my therapist, of course.  I then reminded myself that she celebrates me, I had to talk myself down from feeling so sick inside with nerves.  I rang her doorbell and she opened it, she looked lovely, as always.  Hair brushed, lovely clothes and make-up.  I sat down and looked at her and said ‘ I have to tell you this, you look lovely and I have dressed up today, I am expecting you to be horrible and I decided to risk it anyway’……her face lit upas she said I am so glad you did, you look lovely too, so we both look lovely I said, it is very uncomfortable for me at the moment.  It used to be you who looked lovely and I look like shit………you look lovely and so do I, how cool is that!  I realised three and then that whenever I have displayed my creative dress sense I had been critised, by my mother or my step-mother or my older sister and some other woman to be honest and it terrified me, but not anymore, I have become aware and it starts now.  It is ok, I am allowed to look lovely too and you are not going to shout at me, put me down, wow.

She then began to smile and I asked her what se was smiling at…’I am smiling as I am so enjoying watching you grow’. I really did not know what to do with that!  We went on to talk about the fact that I too can have lovely things.  I no longer have to be Cinderella.  It runs so deep, they put me down, got me out of the way, I lived away, banished to poverty and now I am on my way back up, I am so grateful.

Breaking Free-August 2010

I wanted to share with you one of the most beautiful letters I have ever received, from a friend of mine I had not seen for 30 years and who suddenly found me since I have been writing this blog. I am so sad and grateful all at the sametime. I know things will get better, it is so difficult to get perspective when you are so locked into pain, I had no idea what was wrong with me, always the party girl, wild and nothing was too much. Several of my very close friends have found it so hard when they found out the full extent of my problems,

I had no way of telling them before, I was so shut down, they would have helped me if I had asked, but as my therapist said yesterday, when a baby cries and does not get it’s needs met, it eventually stops crying and shuts down, becomes independent and has no expectation of having them met. I feel I have lived a double life in my head and I am so glad to be breaking free, brick by tiny brick.

Good Morning Pen,

It was good to talk with you last night if only for a short while. I’m glad you are working through things. I do admire your strength & determination. Please don’t take this the wrong way as I might not be explaining myself as I’m writing this. I really do feel for you & at times struggle to find the right words to say. I remember you as that youthful young girl of 15 then becoming that beautiful young lady, always with that sunshine smile. You seemed to be having a ball in Oxford & partying it hard in the East End. You were on top of your game, if you know what I mean. Little did I know that maybe if I thought of engaging you in a serious conversation you may have told me that inside you were really in turmoil. But hey we were young then & I guess these sort of things were too deep to confront & maybe it was part of growing up & it would all disappear with time.

Does that all make sense?? Anyway I find it hard to believe that my lovely mate Penny is in the situation that you find yourself to be in. I can’t promise you any financial support (though taking you out for a meal & stocking up your cupboards from time to time is possible). I will always be here for you if ever you want to off-load, scream at someone, punch me on the arm or just want a cuddle. I like the sound of the last one!!!! I do understand when you say you wish you had more family support.

It was the opposite for me when my marriage broke down & I had to bring up my son on my own from the age of two. My mum, dad & brother were very supportive as they helped me cope with being a single parent & also letting me be a single male adult enabling me to go out with my mates. I had the best of both worlds!!! So now knowing that, without that support I would have found myself in a lot of trouble & hardship. I hope we can get together soon so that you can meet my wife. We are hoping to have a BBQ sometime, weather permitting so maybe you will be able to come over & stay overnight if you want to.

Love

Fortunately one of my brothers did help me recently, but that came with an ‘as long as this is a one off payment’ and a friend helps me,for which I am truely grateful. A friend said to me this morning, ‘you are battling with a debilitating mental illness and you need all the love and support you can get’. I am not used to being loved and supported, when I needed help my family actually shamed me, they did not help me one little bit and for that I am working on forgiving them.

My mother did help me not to go into a single-parent hostle but that was more to do with her than me.’No daughter of mine is going into a single-parent hostel’. When I told them about not knowing who my son’s father was I had abuse hurled at me and still do, little sarcastic remarks about paternity thrown into the mix. I am done with it, I am walking away knowing that there is love and support out there for me, I just did not know what it looked like. The person who loves me unconditionally and showed me support was my son, he never judged me and he had every reason to.

The losses to both my son and I are intangible, what would it have been like to have been helped and supported in a loving way, the world would be a very different place. I am working through the anger and grief, and they say everything happens for a reason, lets see what happens next.

Touching my own Void – January 2006 (1)

I came home from my therapists and I was due  to have a meeting on the phone with my writing coach.  I was exhausted and decided to allow myself to sleep, that was new for me, normally I would force myself to stay awake.  I went to bed and set my alarm and had the most incredible dream.

The film ‘Touching The Void’ had such a huge impact on me but I had not understood why.  In the film I always preferred the bloke who actually ended up in the Void, the other one who cut the rope seemed to me not as real as the other and the bloke who joined them I thought was a bit wierd. He did not like the one who fell into the Void very much which I found very interesting by the end of the film.  I always struggled with the fact that the bloke actually cut the rope, in my opinion I think he should have gone too, but that is just me.  I was not there so it is hard to imagine what he was going through and also the survival instinct must kick in.

All of a sudden in my dream I became the one who had the rope cut on him.  I was hanging from a cliff watching the rope fray as I moved just a little and all of a sudden, a pair of huge scissors came and cut the rope and I fell, I let go and fell into the abyss, and was left for dead as he was.  I have felt this about a lot of my life, I was left for dead.  A few came but slowly they left and the darkness of my mind got worse and worse.  People of my past had no idea what was going on for me and thought I had just moved on, little did they know I was desperately trying to hold it together and climb back from the hole I had found myself in and somehow, I could not ask for help, I felt so alone, even when there were people around me, I could not tell them how it was in my head.

During my session with my therapist she said ‘you have been the poor relation for most of your life and this is a real Cinderella story’.  As I left her and walked down the road I thought ‘If I am Cinderella, then who are you, my fairy Godmother?’.  The symbolism in my dream of me climbing throught he ice and struggling to survive became more and more real, I was fighting for my life.  As I finally came out the person at the entrance was my therapist, with a wand, and behind the ice prison was her house and that is where the rope was cut and here she was standing in front of me, a few feet away with her wand greeting me and saying it is ok.

There was a group of people in a party waiting to greet me, the people who could have been there but who were not, I just walked past them as they tried to celebrate me back.  In the film the man went on to write about this experience and make a film and I am doing the same.  A few days later in my house I found a piece of paper written in 1998 saying ‘let go of the frayed rope, just let go and let God’, it is incredible it has taken me so long, but I guess that is how numb and how frozen I have been, and am still thawing.  I am working my way through the void and for the first time ever, I can see the entrance, the way out, it is a way off yet, merely a slit in the ice, a light shaft and I am making my way towards it, I am almost home, home to myself, as I piece the fragmented parts of my soul together, life is beginning to make sense for the very first time.

Our Fight for Freedom – 2000-2004

During this period of time my son and I went from not knowing who his father was to a succession of tests which culminated in a court room in New York.  I tracked down my sons father, now a CEO in New York.  I borrowed thousands of pounds and was unable to continue to pay a lawyer as I ran out of money so ended up doing it myself.  I had to take on some on New York’s top lawyers.  It has been said that I had such courage in the face of adversity, but for me it was a matter of life and death, there was no choice.

I admitted my mistake and now had to force him to meet his responsibilities.  He tried to deflect me again, using all sorts of tactics, not least the one about it all only being about money because he was so successful.  My respose was ‘I rang 192, directory enquiries, not Forbes.  I had no idea who you were, where you were, for all I knew you were still living in a basement in Earls Court, I just knew I had to find you’.  This time he did not get away with getting rid of me.

He did finally begin to contribute to his son, but the deal was so bad, I didn’t even realise it was, by this time I could not work out 17% of $ 400,000 it was years later as I came round from the ordeal I realised what had happened.  I was so unwell I had little choice by that stage but to take the crumbs he chucked at us.  I was later to find out just how few crumbs.  When I did, the injustice was almost to much to bare.

Kay Mellor and A Passionate Woman

I was sitting in the doctor surgery this morning waiting when I stumbled across an article about Kay Mellor and her mother breaking down being the inspiration behind A Passionate Woman.  I have not yet seen it and I am planning on doing so somehow because it sounds beautiful.  I think these moments in peoples lives can change everything and set everyone free.

I wanted to comment on this because it is precisely why I am writing Ifs Buts and Maybes, the story of a love lost and a long time of carrying shame, living a lie, not telling anyone, feeling numb and then despair, then finally having the ability to share it and set both my son, his father and myself free. I still cry about it all now, I feel terribly sad about how it all turned out, as I have said I am in the grieving period, as long as I keep moving forward, I will get there. I had not realised I have been stuck in it for so long, going round and round in my head, hence the title.

I have contacted Kay Mellor and asked if I can talk with her, who knows she may be interested in doing somethig with me as I am looking for a scriptwriter.  I have just found someone who is going to help me with the editiing of the book so I am now in the process of getting myself really clear on what I want to say.  Being dyslexic, this is not one of my strengths, so I am so grateful that someone is happy to help me.  He is a journalist and a writer of books and has an understanding of Mental Illness which feels like a very good combination.

I have realised the family problems that have been going on around me have affected me more that I gave them credit for, I have been wiped out with all the stuff that has come up for me. I still feel desperately sad at the situation with my brother and I wish I could have been stronger and more help to him, but I couldn’t.  One good thing that has happened is that I have developed communication with a couple of members of my family which have been long lacking and I am really grateful for that.

August 2010

Saturday was a very helpful day.  I went to meet some friends and ended up crying my eyes out, I feel in so much pain.  I have been trying to help one of my brothers who is homeless and he has been staying here.  We row and clash and it has been really difficult, neither of us is strong enough to help the other and I had to ask him to leave.  Now he is on the streets somewhere, hopefully he has called a friend and I feel so bad.  I know I needn’t and I will get over it.  My role has always been care giver, and I am struggling enough myself at the moment.  I never understood what people meant when they would tell me that he was not good for me to have around.  I tried and tried and it has cost me.  I am not yet capable of distancing myself, I find it hard to hold myself in his company and to not allow our way of communicating to drag me down.  He was asked to leave a homeless shelter for being aggressive, I find that a bit strange, at 11pm for a man to be kicked out and asked if he would like a blanket.  He says he was distressed, and I believe him.

It has all shown me the dysfunction of our childhood, our inability to communicate and our inability to be able to put ourselves aside.  I was having a real problem with him because our pattern of behaviour is so ingrained and I find it really hard to be around now.  I don’t want to be spoken to in a certain way, I was totally unaware of it before, I just knew I felt like shit, but not knowing why.  It is subtle and when asked he would deny it, but the family dynamic set up so many many years ago is a hard one to break and I am not able to be around it for very long before I begin to feel damamged all over again.  I feel very sad about it, nobody does anything on purpose and I am certainly not blameless.

I spoke with a friend earlier who told me of another friend who had fallen out with her good friend over a similar thing, when two people are in a bad way it is impossible for either to help the other.  Add to that a dynamic that has never been looked at really and it can be a disaster.  I was really hoping for some resolution but it will not be happening anytime soon.

We have both been diagnosed with something, depression, bi-polar? who knows what and how the hell are we supposed to help each other.  Coupled with that, I am living on Housing Benefit at the moment and Income Support while I try and get myself help and I am not allowed anyone to stay with me for more than 6 days, so that puts added pressure on the whole situation.

I just wanted to write an up-to-date, current part of the book today, it felt the most pressing thing to do. Sometimes sharing in the moment is a good thing, it is part of my story.  I have realised some pretty impressive things about our family which answer a few questions.  Realising that both our parents were completely inappropriate with regards to sex is something I have always known, but to have it confirmed is a real relief.

Sadly our mother is still a drinking alcoholic, she apparently thinks it is totally acceptable to discuss shagging our father with her grandchildren, my father used to use his position at the airport as a casting couch for air hostesses and on the stories go, no wonder there were no boundaries in our childhood.  As one of my brothers said what makes her think that is ok, discussing it with your grandchildren or children for that matter.  Yuck yuck yuck, I am so glad it is all coming to a head, that we are all begining to see the real dysfunction and standing up to it too.  I know it has affected me, I can only speak for myself, I just have to make sure I hold onto my truth and work through it.

On a lighter note,I have met someone who has told me about an editor, apparently she charges £1,000 and that is cheap,  to get this book edited and then into a place to be put onto the web, so I am praying for a grand or another editor to come along who is not so expensive and has a track record.  It is all coming along and I know it will happen, it is.

Writing Lessons with Marilyn(1)

During 2006, I was fortunate enough to have stumbled across Marilyn Horowitz. I had been praying for someone to help me get started with my book and it is so wierd to think this was six years ago.  I have had a lot more to do before I was ready to write and now is the time.

I was trawling the internet and looked at Women in Film and Television and there she was, so I clicked, thought why not, and so began a relationship that helped me to develop my writing and give me more and more confidence and although it has not been the right time for the book, I have not stopped writing and have been able to express myself more and more.

Marilyn certainly got me started and I am really glad I had the courage to click the email send button and once a month speak to her and go away and write my tasks and then send them and so it went on.

The following was one of the first pieces of work we did, entitled ‘How I got so f…… up

There was room to explore everything and that is one of Mailyns greatest talents in my opinion, she journeys with you, I needed that and still do. It helped me expand, grow and explore slowly.  I will always be so grateful to have met her and to still know her.

How I got so f….. up

As I lay opposite my therapist staring her in the face, it was becoming clear, the world has been a very scary place for me, my entire life.  I am terrified to open my mouth and tell her how I really feel about the next stage of our relationship, the deeper we go, the more scared I become, I am still not completely sure why.  Imagine a child having four primary care takers by the age of 9 months.  According to Erickson’s stages of development one has to work bloody hard to get it right.  I have never felt safe, never imagine anyone can see me or thinks of me, when I leave the room, nobody is there.  It is the lonliest and scariest place in the world and, until now, I thought that was totally normal and could not understand what it felt like to be safe.  To feel secure and know that someone loved you and would not leave you, everyone always left and when they did, they never came back.  I have lived in a constant state of trauma and anxiety and have always found it so hard to make connectins with anyone.  I wonder if it had something to do with the fact that at the age of four and a half months old my parents left me with her step-mother, a woman who she hated and went on a cruise for five weeks.

I have some body memory and flashback feelings of a baby in a cot, crying, nobody coming and being cold and numb…….my head goes into a frozen place when I get scared and I do not come out of it for ages.  It feels like nobody is there and nobody exists at all, it still happens now.

As I woke yesterday morning I had a picture of me lying on the ground, tiny and bright, pushing back a huge black cloud as it moved toward me to try and squash me, I was pushing it up with all my might and arms stretched out screaming no, no, and pushing what felt like a ton of concrete away from me, I felt like I was fighting for my life, my emotional life……………

4. Mid-2000

During this time all hell was breaking loose.  I had been to Housing Benefit to see if there were any properties available, they had absolutely nothing to offer me.  I was on the waiting list and also going around to local estate agents, not one of them would touch me because I was on housing benefits. I put an article in our local newspaper, went with a letter to every church in the area and still nothing.  I was being helped by a wonderful woman at the Citizens Advice Bureau who would see me whenever she could as I was really struggling to hold it together, I was terrified of being homeless again.

I felt such a failure and could not see anyway out.  At the same time, unbeknown to me, a friend had been asking my friends if they could all rally round and help me to buy the property, she had wanted to surprise me for my birthday, but when it came to my 40th birthday weekend, she was so upset to tell me what she had been trying to do and not managed to.

I had my party, an open house for the whole weekend.  Breakfast with my son and a lovely friend of mine Zora , a picnic where everyone brought something and then a lovely long evening followed by people crashing out and breakfast the next day for those who stayed.  One thing that I had not taken into account was how unwell I was, even then, emotionally.

An old friend came along, a friend of mine who none of my other friends really liked and who always put me down, the odd comment and I was a gonna.  She had entered my life again and I was begining to see why she had been out of it, but I was like a bee to honey.  We were outside in the garden, me and the girls, five of us altogether and all of a sudden, from nowhere came this slap down,  I was powerless to stop it.  I went inside and cried my eyes out as she carried on with  my party.  A school friend came and found me, I told her what was going on for me and she could not really understand it.  I had no resilience to this and never have.  I could not cope, thank goodness she was so lovely to me, as I watched the girl dominate my party, become the life and soul and me slowly shrink, I knew something was wrong, but I did not know what. My school friend had been down a few weeks before and I finally told her I had to go to the doctors, she asked what for and I told her about my mind and thoughts and she burst into tears, she had not idea, I had become so good at pretending, masking my pain and playing at being happy, I had almost fooled myself as well as everyone around me.

I managed to enjoy the time, although somewhat subdued and of course my other friends could not really work out what had happened.  Fortunately I was sober because this stuff was what I drank on, being put down, and staying down instead of having the language to say, please don’t speak to me like that or something to take care of myself.

The Bradshaw man had asked me what I would like for my birthday and in my mind I said, a car.  I was with my prayer partner a few days before my birthday and we were praying for the house situation and also about how my son was going to get to the school and how I was going to manage the whole thing.  I got a picture of a black car, just the front of it like on a brochure and she got the same.  We often had this when we prayed together, it was a very powerful experience.  A few days later, the Bradshaw man turned up with a brochure of the same care I had seen in our prayer meeting, and asked me if I would like a car like this.

One of the things  I was very clear about when being offered this opportunity was the practicalities.  If my son was going to take up this offer, he was not going to be a poor boy in a rich school.  Also there had to be a promise of meeting all the school fees etc because I often didn’t know if Iwas going back to school one term from the next and it was very stressful for me.  Also the school was not on a bus route and to get to the classes, after school clubs, sports days etc was a necessary consideration.  I could not believe my negotiation skills to be honest but I was sick of having crumbs and feeling so less than.  He and I sorted out a very good arrangement and everything changed for us from this moment on.

I also had to put in place the budget for petrol because on benefits I could not afford it.  I was behind with all my bills, electricity, water,  he also helped me to clear those up as well, together with a littlewoods catalogue debt I had accumulated so I could afford clothes.  There was a time when I could only afford pants for my son so when he grew out of his boxers, I would wear them and buy him new ones. Same with his clothes, some of his trousers were ok for me.  The other supply for me was friends bringing round their stuff before putting it into the charity shops, it felt very humiliating.  I could not even choose colours anymore, I just had to take what I was given.  I think there is something about choosing stuff from a charity shop if you can afford  other things, and not being able to afford it and having no choice, I felt so totally crap about myself.

I remember his school friends all had kicker shoes at £80.00 a go, this was totally out of our league but a must have, so we would wait til the sale and then, get his feet measured, and see which ones they had left in his size at £40.00 and I had managed to save up enough for those.  I had no way of understanding just what was going on inside of me at this time, I just knew I was ok for a while and then, I was out of it again.

The housing people offered us a place, a shitty, dark, damp, electic wall heated ( the most expensive) with lino on the floors which my son refused to live in.  I was beside myself.  I asked the man where the carpet was and he replied it is not our place to provide people like you with carpet……….I slid down the wall, tears in my eyes and said, I hope you never find yourself in this position and if you do, that someone doesn’t speak to you like you are speaking to us now.

We refused the property and because of this were penalised by the housing list.  The only other thing they had on offer was a single parent hostel miles away………..it was all looking pretty bleak.

One friend said to me, why don’t you ask the man to buy you a house or put a deposit down on it.  Surely that is more important? Somedays I think maybe that would have been a good idea but at the time it didn’t occur to me as he had not offered and to me getting my son a good education was paramount in my mind.

Little did I know that as I was seeing the lady at the Citizens Advice Bureau and talking with her, praying with my friend and asking others to pray and obviously doing it myself, another friend of mine had spread the word amongst her friends in our area to see if anyone knew of a property for us.

During my prayer time I got a picture of a house on a hill, with windows all around it and masses of greenery, huge garden and lots of light, somehow it gave me hope.  I had no idea where it was but it felt like there was somewhere for us to go.

One man who I had never met, had never even heard of yet, said to  my friend he wanted to help, and rang around everyone he knew.  At that time, another man was waiting for his mortgage to come through and was about to move into a property, and nobody knew of any others……….then all of a sudden, two weeks before we were due to move out, 1st September 2000, the mans mortgage comes through, the house becomes available and we are moving into one of the poshest areas in our town with a garden the size of 4, rhodedendrum bushes my favourite colour and up on a hill as I had seen in my prayer time. The garden was overgrown and the house had been empty for 6 months but friends came and helped us. Unfortunately for the friend who had offered to move us, we had done virtually no packing at all, I had just ground to a halt………….

3. Keep on believing……..2000

I was trying to get help to buy the house because it had so much potential.  It needed gutting but I love doing all that and I knew it would be so worth it.  Also I was desperate to have a home of our own, that we could own and nobody could ask us to leave, I really hated being at the mercy of others.  Somehow it was just not happening.  In the April, a friend told me her daughter had got a place at a local private school and I was so jealous.  I walked up my road, I will never forget it and said please God, can my son go there, I feel so jealous and some of his friends went there and please can he go.

Within a matter of weeks, the Bradshaw man, as he will remain known, asked me if I would like my son to got to that particular school, I was speechless.  He told me he was really impressed with us, that he would like to help and that he believed my son would really benefit, it was amazing.  My prayers had been answered.

We had to go through all the decision making, discussing how it would work.  My son did not initially want to go, but I made it pretty clear that this was a not really an option as he was not benefiting from 30+ in a class and all that was happening for him.  He went for the interview, and  as I was wandering around I remembered one of my old teachers used to work there, and to my surprise still did.  I asked one of the pupils if he was there and he went to tell him I was there and asking for him, fortunately for me he remembered me and when I was being interviewed by the headmaster, he rang in to tell me he was waiting in the drawing room.  It felt amazing.

We talked for ages afterwards and it felt like home, he remembered how I was at school, how lost I was and also how much he always appreciated me.  He was a friend of a friend in London and we occasionally met there years and years ago.  Here I am, catapolted into another world and it all feeling so wonderful and I was again begining to have hope.

My son was offered a place but his school had to call the school to discuss things.   The new school rang the old school several times and when I rang the new one to ask what was happening they said they were waiting for the old one………so when I followed that up I was told by the head she had not bothered to call back because she thought he would not get in……………..

2. The Power of Prayer from 1999-2000

During 1999 I had also begun to have my sons friends back to ours on a Friday night because I did not want him out on the streets late at night so opened our home up to them all.  I got a lot out of it too, the girls would watch videos or come and chat to me and the boys would generally go upstairs to play computer games and I would occasionally give them something to eat and it meant they were safer. They were 14 years old and hanging out on the streets was just boring as it was cold and generally wet.

I also began to have a few of his friends home after school whose parents were working and would invariably give them supper, a couple of them had never seen a red pepper before which I found really sad, they were left with the choice of chicken nuggets and chips or pizza, so would come over to ours.  This is a reality of both parents having to work, and the children really wanted company and someone to sit with them and talk about their day or attempt to get them to do their homework.

As a single-parent I lived on welfare because making ends meet was proving to be impossible and unbeknown to me, my depression was creeping up on me thick and fast,  which was making it very difficult for me to function consistantly. The combined stress of trying to find a job that paid enough for me to come off welfare and still see my son and  the underlying problems I had that were bubbling away was all proving too much for me. I was brilliant as putting on a smile to the world and pretending it was all ok and screaming inside would someone please come and help me……….somehow the words just did not make it to my mouth.  I was trapped in a prison of hell. Terrified of telling anyone how I felt because I was desperate to be a good mother and if I told the doctor I believed they would take my son away.  I had also begun therapy and was struggling with all the stuff that was coming up, and did not know what to do. No longer able to use  the booze to numb it out it was all getting a big scary for me.

On top of this, my son was really struggling at school.  I look back now and can see why, but at the time none of the dots joined up.  The school was not really catering for his needs, he was slipping through the gaps and I was really scared. He was diagnosed with ADD and was put with a support worker which he found totally humiliating.  He was also losing interest and I was fighting them regularly.  To give an example of what I mean.  He took a Science test in the class room and got 48% approx, and when given the same test in a quiet room with the door and curtains closed he got 98%. The school were not listening to me and I was so desperate that my son would not slip into some great big back hole when he has so much potential. Parents evenings became a real problem for me and I found some of the teachers just unwilling to listen.  I booked to see the head of Science and talked to him but there was little that could be done for some reason, I still don’t understand it.  Sorry for the rant about the education system but it was failing my son.  I know he is not perfect and messed around and all the rest of it, but he needed a lot of help that he was not getting.  And this of course just compounds the problem.

Several of his friends who were in similar positions were going to private school and we just did not have the resources.  I had tried to get him into a couple of schools on a bursary but nothing ever came of it.  I was doing a cleaning job to pay for extra maths lessons as I was allowed to earn £15.00 a week on benefits so that paid for it. I felt so trapped in our life and could not see a way out.  I felt totally desperate.

The man from the Bradshaw group had been around to our house and seen what I was doing with my sons friends, having them over for supper, having them all round on a Friday night, and unbeknown to me he was pretty impressed.  He was also impressed, he told me later at what an amazing mother I was.  How my relationship with my son was and how close we were, against all the odds. And that my son had such impeccable table matters! How funny is it that some people think poor means crap, it never ceases to amaze me.

In contrast to this life on welfare, I was to go to a Ball at my old boarding school, thank goodness I had something to wear and a friend lent me her car. Later that December a film of mine was showing at a private view at BAFTA. I had to borrow the train fare and something to wear.  It was such a strange conflict, and I would always feel so sad whenever I went to London and anything to do with the film world because it was as though somehow I could not have it……….and I hated it.

The following January, 2000, I was collected as normal to go to the workgroup and an envelope was put into my hand, with £1,000 in it.  This was a spiritual gift to help with my bills, a little extra to make the world an easier place and it was incredible.  I was so blown away by it and not  really sure how to handle this.  I also found out that the man was no longer married and that his wife had left him.  We became friends and for me that was as far as it would ever go.

January was a whole lot easier until the landlady told me she was selling the house and I could have first refusal on it but I would have to be out by September whatever happened………………………….