I read this book some days called “The language of Letting Go: Daily meditations on co-dependency”. Each page has a date, you find that date and then read the mediation for that day. I have been using it for 6 years. Just pick it up when needed. I realised years ago that I could be co-dependent at times and would be drawn to relationships and friendships that become co-dependent. This has a lot to do with trauma and such and this book has been a big part of me not living life like that anymore. This morning I picked it up and the title of the meditation was “Getting it all out”. It said “Get it all out. Go ahead. Once you begin recovery you may feel like its not okay to gripe and complain” Which is true. When bad things happen, people are expected to “Get on with it”. Be strong. And you can be. But part of letting go of something is to just get it out…out into the universe…and then it’s done…and people can move on. So, I read this meditation ….and an hour later…here we are…and I feel so much better……
My mum said that I was born a fighter. A survivor. I was born 2 weeks late, after a 3-day labour. My mum, at the point of my birth, was exhausted and petrified. She had experienced a bad pregnancy with me and had many health issues. They had waned my mum that I would be a low birth weight. My mum had witnessed two babies being born that week with deformities (Which was later linked to Thalidomide which my mum was taking at the time). The first day she was in hospital the lady next to her had given birth to a baby with deformed limbs. My mum said she sat there watching as the husband got his prayer mat out at the foot of the bed and prayed for hours Its something she spoke about often. Another baby was born the next day with a similar condition.
When my mum went into labour, she was at home alone. She had lost a child 10 years before a so this was an extra anxious time for her. She was cleaning up and felt some pain and then her waters broke. Scared and in pain, she waddled down to the end of the road to the pub my dad was in. She said he was sitting at the bar with his pals, and she called him to the door and said “The baby is coming” with that my dad turned to the crowd and shouted “my baby is coming” and disappeared into the crowd of men now shouting and congratulating him…drinks being ordered…. backs being patted……
Whilst my mum stood in the doorway of the dank pub in a damp maternity dress and no way of getting to the hospital. She turned on her heel and walked back to the house. She would get the bus she decided. The next-door neighbour saw her and asked what was wrong and my mum just looked down at her sodden dress. The man swore, said something about my dad under his breath and shouted to his wife “Jean…get the car…. Nelly is in labour” They drove my mum to the hospital and dropped her off. It was not the done thing for friends to stay, so they left her there with the promise they would be sending my dad.
3 days my mum was alone in the hospital. Not a change of clothes…a magazine… not even a bloody grape. She had no phone (it was 1980) but did ask the nurse to call the Red Lion pub several times and leave a message for my dad.
My mum’s anxiety hindered the labour. Pure fear made it hard for everyone. Eventually they gave her pethidine. It numbed my mums’ legs and made her sick and she described it as the worst 6 hours of her life. She was being sick and unable to move. The doctors who had said my low birth weight was a concern were now saying they thought I was too big and discussions about C section were had. They warned my mum that because of me being overdue and the stress of the labour I could be bruised on arrival or stressed and crying.
My mum was finally in the right place to push. She says she can remember this part very well. She was on the bed…3 days of pure exhaustion…her legs up in stirrups and nurses around saying to push…when the door bursts open and in came my dad….in full hospital gear…with a nurse running behind him saying not to go in.
There was a lot of blood at my birth. My mum almost lost her life. She must have been so scared as she had seen these other babies born with defects and now everything was not going to plan. She was alone and scared.
My dad picks up this part of the story. He told me…with great shame many times…that he stayed drinking in the pub and then a house party to celebrate my mum going into labour. He said that he just partied for a couple of days and then when he went home to get changed the next-door neighbour said that my Mum was still at the hospital. That may sound shocking to you…but trust me…that is a true reflection of the level……or lack of respect and care my dad had for my mum for many years.
Anyway…the neighbour says my mum is still there…my dad is not panicked as it was normal for women to spend a week in hospital when a baby was born back then…so he grabbed some flowers and made his way to the hospital. He arrived his usual cheeky Chappy self, flirted with a few nurses and said he was here to see his beautiful baby son who was born 3 days ago. Son. Yes. My dad said he only wanted a son and if a girl was born, he would divorce my mum. I honestly don’t know how my mum found such a catch in my dad…
So, they check the details and say…I’m sorry…. But your baby has not been born…and your wife is in serious trouble She is about to go for a c section…you need to robe up and come with us immediately.
Now…my dad was a man of few words but when he used to speak about this next part it used to make me feel very close to him and also gave me a glimpse of the man who was my father.
My Dad said that when the staff said that my mum was in trouble…. All the laughter and jokes just went from him…. He said it was like darkness came over him in an instant. He had no children and having this son was all he ever dreamed about. He said that he was sacred for my mum but more so that he would lose another child, Another son. He said that he could not do that again. So, two nurses helped him put on the hospital gown and such and he ran with then to the room where the C section was going to take place. However, Before the C-section could happen, my mum had started pushing. And it was not pretty.
My dad said he walked in, and said it was like a horror scene. He said there was blood everywhere and the nurse placing my mums’ legs into the stirrups was slipping on the blood on the floor. He said my mum was screaming and the screams was animal like. He said he run in the room and just stopped on the spot not knowing what the hell was going on. The doctor started shouting “Get him out of here now” and alarms were going off. My dad…who was a giant…a hard bastard at that…he said he just stopped and put his hands to his face. He said the screaming was overwhelming and that the doctor and nurses were all shouting. He said that he knew neither his child or wife would be coming home. He said that the nurses started pulling at him to leave the room but he couldn’t…wouldn’t…he said it was like he had to stay and see …he didn’t want to…but his body made him. And then…he said that my mum gave this scream…this blood curding scream…and said something like “please just kill me” and then ….
and then dad…what…..
He would always go misty eyed at this point…And then what I would say….
Suddenly the doctor gave a cry of “Bloody yes” and the baby was born. He said that the doctor held the baby up and just sort of shouted. A shout of triumph. As if he would punch the air if he could. My dad said that then my mum passed out/collapsed and alarms started going off. The doctor holding the baby shouted at the nurse to cut the cord and suddenly there were lots of people around my mum. Lots of raised voices. My dad allowed himself to be pushed out of the room and was just left in the corridor as he heard the medical staff shouting and communicating about my mum. And then…he said…The baby came out in a glass cot …a nurse pushing the baby down the hallway. “Hey….excuse me lady” he said in his think Italian accent…” Where are you taking my son”’ The nurse didn’t stop walking and said… “to the nursey”. And so, my dad had a choice. Did he stay standing in the corridor to see if his wife would be OK. Or follow the nurse to see his child. He followed the nurse. It was a right round the corner and the nurse (who I believe did all of this to get my dad away from where my mum was being seen to) turned to my dad and said “Would you like to meet your baby”.
My dad said he nodded like big idiot and just stood there. The nurse said he should sit down and then she took the baby out of the crib, wrapped in a rough hospital blanket/Towel and passed the baby to my dad.
“It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen” he would say…each time with a sob in his voice. “Not a blemish on you… No blood….No marks…Calm….not crying….almost as if you was taking it all …..and eyes wide open…I promise you Kendra….you looked straight into my eyes and you was minutes old … and that look has haunted me my whole life. It was not how I would expect a baby to gaze at his parent….. You looked at me as if you were already disappointed in me”. He used to have to wipe his tears at this point and I would always reply “I was” and he would look at me through his glassy eyes and nod. He most likely wanted to slap me across the face for saying that. But instead, he would nod. And each time the story was told he would say “and you know what the nurse said…she said …” good luck with this one… you just got yourself a warrior” and my dad looked at her and said…. Now crying with pride “Yes…what a man he will be” and then…and my dad would always say this bit with a nod as if still…years later…he was in awe of this nurse…. The nurse turned to him, folding something and said “ Sir…you have a daughter….and a wife who came into labour 3 days ago with a black eye….so if you will excuse me”… and the nurse walked off leaving my dad holding his daughter and the knowledge that they knew he had been beating my mum right up until the last minute of her labour.
I often asked him how that made him feel.
He would look at his hands and go to speak most times…but not be able to get words out. Just more of a crack of a voice. Sometimes he would just sit and cry (Usually when drunk) sometimes he would get up and walk away. This one time he composed himself and he said “Ashamed. I felt ashamed and I promised you that second that I would never lay a hand on you” and he looked up at me…. I was about 18 at the time….and said with great pride “And I didn’t ….did I Kendra?. I have never laid a hand on you”. You could see in his face that he believed that he had just come full circle. That he was telling me “Look…I was a disgusting person…but I didn’t do it to you…you see how I have changed”. He looked at me for my approval and forgiveness.
I was standing when this conversation was taking place and my dad was sitting on a kitchen chair. He said the above line…looked up at me with a half-smile and a look that said…see….ya old dad aint that bad.
I took this in. I processed the exchange that was taking place. Acknowledged that this was a moment in time where I could give my dad some relief from the guilt, he said he carried for the domestic abuse and continued beatings of my mum and me whilst I was in the womb. This was a chance for him to breath light again, for me to say…yes dad.. You did not hit me.
…I walked towards him…. placed a hand on each shoulder…bent down so our foreheads were touching…our noses were touching…I guess as if I was going to give him a moment of forgiveness …and said
“But you kept fucking beating her though didn’t you”.
His eyes had been half closed up until this point, as my forehead had touched his I had felt him relax, like a child who is scared, and they get that comforting hug from mum which makes everything better. As I said my line the stiffness was back, and they eyes shot open. We were staring directly into each other’s eyes, and I said…
“She was someone’s daughter …but you kept beating her anyway. In front of me. Daily. You might not have hit me John…. but you beat her good enough for both of us”.
I didn’t pull away. I could feel the sweat forming between our two foreheads and was suddenly aware of the amount of pressure I was pushing my forehead into his. He pulled away first. Jumped up (made me jump) and knocked the chair over and started walking backwards…like I had just shown him a ghost or something…and then he just stopped in the middle of the kitchen…the both of us just staring at each other…. not sure where we go from here….and he said…. “She has forgiven me…. why can’t you” … he spat these words out and looked ugly as he done it and I replied “Because I see you…the real you….the one that others are too scared to admit to seeing”.
I went on to have an OK relationship with my dad. He and my mum had a amazing 10 years together before he died, he never hit her again and treated her like a queen. He was an amazing Grandfather and tried to be a dad to me in the way I would allow him. However, despite all the fun, family holidays and Christmas dinners I still looked at him the same way. A smile on my face and jokes across the table…that darkness never left my eyes for him. And he acknowledged that many times. He would say I looked at him like he was dead to me. And he was. And any opportunity I had where I could make him know that …I would. Not in a petty spiteful way. Not by being mean or digs. I would just tell him every now and then that he was not a good man and I didn’t forgive him. When he died, I had to sacrifice something that would have changed my family’s life to protect my mum. It was like a final test…. would I go against my morals and take the pay check….I’m sure he didn’t plan it like that but that’s how it went down. I chose my morals and walked away with my head high knowing that I did the right thing and that I did not forget who I am or where I come from.
I tell you this story from a deep and dark place. It’s not something I speak about often.
Although this blog is for all to read and hopefully is another way for people to get to know me…I have written this blog with one particular person in mind.
I was born a warrior. That nurse said so herself. To a man who didn’t want a daughter and saw women as weak and he showed this dislike and bullying of women in many ways. I had to develop my morals early in life to survive and they have been my blueprint ever since. I don’t believe I have ever bent these morals in any way or ever will. I was raised by the street and whilst this had its down sides for sure….It also gave me strength to survive in the darkest of places…whilst keeping my morals intact. The morals and rules I live by are interweaved and deep, they include things such as “If they don’t starve with you, they cant eat with you” and that my mother is my queen and nothing and no one goes before that, even in death.
My dad, for all his faults…and there were many…told me something that stuck with me a lifetime. He said …
“Sometimes the person you are willing to take the bullet for is the one who pulls the trigger” …. I am sure he felt like this towards me most of my life. And now I know what he truly meant when he used to say these words.