I have watched people post picture from the start of the decade and now with interest, watching how people have changed. But I was not until I read my very good friend Catherin’s post about her decade that I thought …wow…imagine if I took a deep look at the past decade.
So, instead of doing all the things I said I would do today I have been looking through my pictures of the past decade. Taking in what has really gone on the past 10 years.
So, I started looking for photos of me from 2010. I looked at my online photos and there were hardly any of me. I looked in my computer…lots of pictures of other people …hardly any of me.
Then I realised.
2010 was still that aftermath of my mum passing away. Even though she had died in May 2008, I was still in the depths of my mourning. Don’t get me wrong, there are pictures of me smiling and looking happy, but there is not very much truth in them. Something about my eyes in the pictures from 2010 have made me sad.
The picture above I think sums up how life was for me at this point. This is my daughters Christening. Should have been a very happy day. There are pictures of me looking happy. But the truth was, all these people were there here to celebrate my child and I didn’t even want to be part of it. These were not my people. Apart from my children…. I didn’t have any people. Not anymore.
The picture shows my strained smile. I am deeply unhappy in this picture. Words would never ever be able to put into context how bad it was. Only the people that lived in my house and one other woman knew about how bad it was. I had learnt by this point to just put on this look, submissive and almost unquestioning and just get through the day. I look back at this person, who I was, and I can feel it all over again. The pain she was in. The fear of where she had ended up and the 18 months before being almost a blur. In the first picture I had forgot who I was. It had been verbally beaten out of me. I had forgotten whose daughter I was and had declared that I deserved nothing good in my life. If I would have adjusted my gaze, I would have seen that my sons looked just as sad. Were in the same amount or pain. But I couldn’t. I can honestly say that I was broken and did not have the capacity to do any more than act my way through the day…the months…the years to be fair.
The worst thing is things were about to get a lot worse and I would not be prepared.
However, during even the bleakest times there is always light. If you just start adjusting your viewpoint. My light always was, has and will be my children. I know that my children have been affected in different ways by the way I dealt with loosing my mum. In the first picture you are looking at a 29 year old women who, in the space of 18 months, had lost her mother, her home, her pets, her job, been moved to a place where she only knew 6 people, couldn’t drive, was in an abusive relationship…..the list goes on. At 29 I felt about 55. I was not sure how much more I could take yet…. more and more things were being put on my plate. I am not excusing the coldness that I displayed for the first few years after my mum died as an excuses for being emotionally unavailable at times…More….I am being kind to myself going into 2020 and no longer hiding behind a fake smile and cold eyes. She died…part of me died too. And now I needed to and live without her.
The light that was my children has always given me the strength to try again, start again……be better.
Over the next 10 years that follow the first photo so much happens. So much change takes place. My sons will take their GCSEs, they will attend their first parties, first girlfriend’s, get engaged, move out. We will row and fight and cry. We will love, laugh, and get very angry during games of monopoly. There were many birthdays. My daughter starts school, makes friends, discovers all the things she likes (and …oh my god…dislikes). I don’t remember when the boys stopped being kids. The last time they “Went out to play” …the last time they asked me to help them do their shirt up, came to me to be comforted when they felt sick. But during my time of mourning these things happened for the last time and I am said that I don’t really remember it. But it all happened in this decade just gone.
I do remember that we would laugh…a lot…when it was just us 3. That we would talk of the good times. Before him. When Nan was still here.
These next 10 years would see my mum become “Sleeping Nanny” to my daughter…and a daily reminder when I looked at her that my daughter would never meet the women who would have loved her most. Who would have loved her always.
Then one day…about 5 years ago I woke up on a cold March morning like I had just woke up from a deep sleep. I can remember the feeling so vivid. It was a Saturday morning and Saturdays were not good in my house…. Domestic abuse was always worse on the weekends in my house. Usually, I would wake up on a Saturday and just lay there for ages. Wating for the banging and clattering to start downstairs. The indirect cussing. The moaning. The put downs. When I couldn’t take it no more I would make my way down and usually spend the rest of the day deflecting the domestic abuse back to myself so that the kids would not be affected, Saying that now, the women I am now, makes me angry at myself. But …like I said…I was not myself.
That March morning, I woke up so refreshed. I did this big stretch in bed and relaxed for a second. I just lay there like…. what is going on. And then, a bit like in a film, I just lay there thinking of what had been going on the past few years and said aloud …
“Fuck this shit”
And went downstairs.
I said so many times it was over. That I was leaving. Begging him to leave. Making deals. Being told I was mad. So, when I said it was over the first time that Saturday morning, he barley took his eyes off of the TV and just said “Fuck off back upstairs you mad cunt”.
So, I turned off the TV…. put down the remote…. Looked in his face with no tears and no anger and said, “Get out of my house…now”.
I will always remember the look on his face. This was the first time he had looked at me …really looked at me…in many years. And by the look on his face he could also tell that I had just awoken, Not that morning…… I had just awoken from my mourning. And he was gone by that afternoon. He didn’t go quietly…but he was gone.
And that was the start of the rebuilding. The restructure. The old me needed to be introduced to the new me.
Since then there have been a degree…or 2…the start of my masters…my own company…. a few new jobs. I have made friends that I dreamed of when growing up. The kind that you feel like you have known a lifetime. I have met some of the most epic people to grace this earth.
I have changed lives. I always said that If I could just help one person to never live the life I did I would take that….
Don’t get me wrong, rebuilding yourself is hard work. Having to start all over again, raising 3 children alone and also living with the demons of child hood that decided it would be a good time to resurface alongside a tormenter there every day making it as hard as possible to move on…to be honest…there was times that I didn’t think I could do it. Didn’t think I wanted to do it. Thought the kids would be better off without me. If I am honest, there was times …a time….one time……a brief moment in time…. when I decided that I was done. That it had all gone wrong and I was tired. So so tired and that I was ready…I missed her so much and being with her seemed like the best option.
I stopped for a second as I juts wrote that, It was a bit like in Harry Potter when the dementors come and it goes all dark and you feel like you wont be happy again…thats how it feels when I revisit that moment.
But…if you know Harry Potter like I do…then all you need to do is fight back like you mean it and you can beat that shit
And I beat the granny out of it. I came out swinging like my life depended on it……
So …like I said…A degree or 2 happened, laughter happened. The house become MY house…My safe place. I no longer dragged my feet on the way home, trying to long it out until I got there. I started breathing more deeply. Laughing more loudly.
I stopped running away from my past.
2019 Is the year I started looking at my inner child. The little girl who lives inside me…raging against me……angry…. brittle. She is the source of many of my fears. Not her directly….no way, she has been blamed for so much in her life there is not a chance I would put that on her…..but everything that happened to her has had a direct impact on me now. Good and bad.
I had spent a lifetime keeping her suppressed…. ignoring her cries. The dentist is the best example. Me…now…I would be like “Right…I need to get this done…book it and get it done”. Then within seconds this feeling would take over…fear…stronger than fear…and then it would last right up to the appointment. And then…if I made it to the chair…I would not be able to cope.
So, I started listening to this fear in a different way. I started to try and work out not only why I was so scared…what was causing it. And…. if I am honest …it’s not pretty. I started reading about the inner child. Yes ….it sounds a bit mad at times…but it helped me so much. It was about allowing myself to almost forgive myself for a lot of things. And then…to comfort myself/her. Like an internal conversation with a child at times. So, when I thought about the dentist and the negative thoughts started …I would almost sooth myself like you would a child. And then when I went for my first big dental work in December….2 root canals if you don’t mind….I honest to God spoke to myself (I do that anyway…if you know me then you know). I was outside the dentist for the first appointment, knowing I would have injections and all sorts and suddenly the usual rush of fear and then adrenalin came over me. GET AWAY…. RUN my head screamed. I was shaking. But I just let against this wall and said softly “Its ok B…its ok…I got ya”.
I just stifled a sob right here right now…because I’m proud of her. My B…. little Blondy, the little girl in me who I think is finally free to explore all that scares her because I am here and will never let no mother fucker hurt her again.
So here we are. The second photo a decade later…
In reflection to 2010, there are so many photos I could choose. The one of my son’s graduation was a close one. That picture has to be my favourite of the decade …. However…. The picture I have selected sums up me as a person that has been created this decade.
This is me, on the train to London to see George the poet and looking sooooo smug because I have front row seats. An hour before this picture was taken, I was still saying I was not going. Little B was having a paddy about traveling to London. She kept on about all the things that could happen. How it would feel to be amongst all the hustle. That we should stay home. But I had a word and she sorted herself out. So…with my boy waving me off and the cab making it with 3 minutes until the train left…this is me…. overcoming yet another fear and worry. I spent that train journey like a normal person…I was texting people saying I was on my way…taking photos like this one and sending them to various WhatsApp groups and friends. My friends. MY FRIENDS. I texted Grace who I was going with to say I was now on my way and she didn’t berate me or have a go for messing about she just said…see you there. Because that’s what my people do…they go with my madness…. just let me do what I need to.
A few hours after this pic was taken I was front row with Grace watching George the poet….someone whose words got me through some bleak times I can tell you that….and then after I rushed home because I needed to read my daughter a bed time story. I almost hugged myself on that train journey. Because it hit me that I am just a normal person doing normal things …I go to festivals, go to the dentist, travel the country to work….I stand my ground, I fight for what I believe in….I love people…I don’t love people. I can forgive (never forget though…ya get me).
I now listen to my gut instinct EVERY TIME. I don’t shy away from who I was or who I am.
I write…. I write about what happened. Bout what will happen. I let the darkness out and let B have her voice …finally.
I am free from control and exploitation and coercion and manipulation. I can do what I want when I want (well……as long as that don’t interfere with my daughter…that girl there aint playing second fiddle to no one lol)
I can dance in the sun with my best friend to Jimmy Cliff and then go eat fish finger sandwiches at midnight…if I wanna.
I can lay on my sofa and watch Harry Potter all day in my harry potter dressing gown…if I wanna.
This decade I started out like harry potter, living under the ruling of others, being told I was not good enough…feeling like I was not good enough and not a fucking clue of who I was…
And have ended the decade like….wellll….I don’t know who like…a mixture of Dobby when he gets the sock and becomes a free elf and some crazy women who cooks jerk chicken and goes to Stormzy concerts (yes…I got tickets….don’t even try like you aint jealous).
I have grown up…like…I am an actual grown up who has her shit together (Kind of, I mean, I still get scared in the house on my own on case of ghost and shit)
When I was 9 year of age, I write something that changed my life…. I said
“When I grow up, I want be safe” …
Well…here we are B…..safe as houses.
2010-2020 The decade of finally finding my freedom. The decade of rediscovering I am Helen Houseman’s daughter…and my Mumma didn’t raise no fool.