Category Archives: Ifs Buts and Maybes

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.

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………………………….