All the years that he was hitting me, my mother wasn’t really involved-although she was fully aware of what was happening. My mother was strict with me, but like a normal parent would be, although I was made to do a lot of housework from the age of six, unlike my sister who never did any. I had to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen three times a week, tidy my bedroom once a week and clean the bathroom and toilet every week, which looking back seems like a lot for a small child. I remember on several occasions my step-dad getting angry that my cleaning wasn’t up to scratch and making me climb into the bath and scrubbing my hands against the sides of the bath extremely hard with a cloth to scrub the dirt off. I also remember mum throwing several plates at me on one occasion as a teenager and her chasing me round the house with a wooden spoon when I was very small. She wasn’t abusive though in my eyes, and she regularly told him not to smack me round the head-I often wonder if that’s why I have such a poor memory these days.
But things changed for me after I gave birth. I didn’t want her there at the birth-I’d always felt like she’d never really been there for me, and I certainly didn’t want or need her there then. The only person I wanted there was my then partner, and of course the midwife/doctor. (In the end I had around 14 people there as I ended up in theatre during shift change over so had two lots of each theatre staff!). But after I had my son, my feelings towards my mother changed. I suddenly realised just how much love I had for this little person, this tiny little thing that was so utterly dependent on me for all his needs, that it made me question my relationship with my own mother and how any mother could possibly even contemplate allowing anyone to harm a hair on their child’s head.
My mother had always been very religious. She had been raised a Catholic, and had attended a Catholic boarding school. We attended Mass every Sunday. She sent me to Catholic primary schools and I later attended a Catholic secondary school, where I got another dose of Mass every week and Catholicism rammed down my throat at every opportunity. In the end, I ended up thinking Catholicism was a complete load of bollocks and chose to become a Protestant. Even the nun who taught me (who was really lovely), ended up breaking her vows and running off with my old headmaster, which I still find rather amusing.
When mum split up with my biological father (who had physically abused her-yes we didn’t have much luck with men), she took me to church aged around 5, and asked me to pray to God for a new daddy. I remember being left with one guy, a male friend of hers, who I thought was the absolute bees knees. He taught me how to colour in properly, and to make sure all my lines were going the same way so my pictures looked nice-I think he was the first person to really encourage my creative streak and I will always be grateful to him for that ‘art lesson’. I remember hoping that he was going to be my new daddy. But then mum met someone else.
I wasn’t sure about him-apparently, according to my parents, (although I don’t remember this), I hid behind our door when he first came to our house. He brought me a book of Aesop’s Fables, which to this day I still see as a bribe, and after a while I asked him when he was going to leave. But I guess at the time, she, like me now in some ways, was a youngish single mum, alone in the world, a lowly paid job, and desperately in need of someone to provide her with security and stability. And I guess she took the first thing that came along-(something I’ve promised myself never to do).
I don’t know, maybe she did love him, maybe she was totally attracted to him, maybe he wasn’t the first one that came along, but I never thought he was a particularly good looking man, or particularly warm and friendly. He did however have a stable job, and was very intelligent. It took me many years to work out he was also addicted to cannabis-stemming back to his days as a hippy. I used to ask him why he kept little lumps of brown plasticine in his ‘biscuit tin’. (The tin he kept his rizzlas and tobacco in).
Years later, he had a heart attack which he survived, and was ordered to give up smoking. This year, he had yet another blocked artery and had to have heart surgery again. My mum kept going on and on about it to me, how he would need this surgery, to little reaction from me. I didn’t really know how to react or what to say and in all honesty I’m not sure why she was telling me or what she expected from me. I recently got an annoyed text from my sister demanding to know why I hadn’t asked mum how he was-mum hadn’t actually told me he had had the surgery but my sister didn’t know this. Plus I didn’t care. I don’t actually care what happens to him and I wouldn’t know how to react or what I was meant to feel if something did.
But at the same time as this was happening, I was desperately trying to find somewhere new for my son and I to live. We’d moved into the house we were in and had been referenced whilst I was working, however, I’d become a student since then. And suddenly, we discovered my landlord wanted to sell and we had to move. I was worried sick I wouldn’t have enough income to afford anywhere decent to live (let alone all the removal costs, agents fees etc) and I spoke to several agents who suggested as I thought they would, that a guarantor might be a good idea.
I approached my mum at this time, who refused to help us and told me to ask my step-dad. I felt utterly humiliated by her and didn’t understand why she couldn’t be my guarantor when she earned more pension than he did, when they lived very comfortably in a large detached house that they owned outright, in an expensive area. I didn’t understand why she was so adamant that she couldn’t help when I wasn’t asking them for any money, and when they knew I had never defaulted on any rent or mortgage payments in my life. Yet still she refused, and there was no way I was going to go begging to him. I told her this and I brought up the past, to which she replied “I just want to forget about the past”, a comment that hugely grated on me as I couldn’t and still can’t forget and she had been living the last 30 years like everything was completely normal.
Meanwhile, my sister, decided to organise her son’s Christening in the middle of some important work I had on at the time. In the end, I didn’t attend the Christening and I felt so, so guilty afterwards, because I had really wanted to be there, but I really couldn’t face seeing my parents, and obviously my sister as usual didn’t understand why I hadn’t been there because my mum as usual hadn’t told her the whole truth or probably told her her own version of events.
My son and I found a beautiful new home despite my parents’ refusal to help, and we ended up moving without needing a guarantor, thanks to a very helpful agent and excellent credit checks. We moved with no help from my ex or my family, but a little help from a very generous friend. As a result, I haven’t spoken to my mum or sister for a couple of months now and they have no idea that we’ve moved and no idea where we’re living, and of course I will have been made out to be the bad guy yet again, but for now I don’t intend to continue having a relationship with my mum. I’m so hurt by all the things she’s said and done to me over the years, all the lies and gossip she’s spread about me to cover up for my step-dad, and all the pain she allowed me to suffer as a child, that I’ve just completely lost all respect for her, and strangely enough, my life doesn’t feel that different without her in it, which I guess just shows any emotional bond we had was sadly broken a long time ago.