I have spent a lot of time, both in counselling, with 1sis or with friends talking about my childhood, teasing out the bits that hurt and why they hurt. I’ve looked at my parents, separately and together to look at their motivation and to understand them better.
I almost feel comfortable going back there as I know what it was about; the issues are relatively straightforward even though they still hurt. But I don’t like thinking of my early adulthood, from about 17 onwards for 10 maybe 15 years. Some of those years I have completely blanked. Not because anything particularly traumatic happened but because I was so miserable.
If I am to become an integrated complete human being I need to bring out all these memories that I have suppressed, to remember those painful parts. To cry at them, to get angry, to feel what it was like to live them. So the next few posts will be somewhat auto-biographical.
For a taster, the most painful moment I remember, and it was more painful because it was supposed to be so deliriously happy, was the moment I brought 1son home from hospital.
I had a fairly easy birth, using a waterpool and it was still a very new thing at the time so various professionals popped in to see how I was getting on so it was a warm and friendly environment. It was as straightforward and pain free as possible (that doesn’t meant it wasn’t still excruciating) but the water helped enormously and I had gas and air as well. I was aware that my mother had given birth once with gas and air and with nothing for the subsequent two and that on some level I wanted to compete with that. Ex1 was good, reading me Alice in Wonderland as a distraction in the early stages and holding my hand etc. in the latter.
I was put in a ward with only one other mother who was on her second child. I remember laying there enviously looking at her breastfeeding her baby while eating grapes, drinking tea and reading a book simultaneously. It would take a while before I got that proficient. In the meantime I just wanted to poke her eyes out. The midwives were very good at helping me attach baby to nipple but I had not realised how difficult it would be at first and it was not something my mother had warned me about.
After a good night’s sleep with baby in a room at the end of the ward so that nurses could keep an eye and mums could sleep I do remember walking to get breakfast without peeking in. I think I just felt a little raw and resentful and thought that since he wasn’t awake I might as well get fed first. It did no harm but of course I did feel slightly guilty at not rushing towards him.
Ex1 popped into hospital more than once, talking of cards received from friends and relatives with gifts and cheques. I didn’t realise until I came out that he’d been drinking the cheques. I think I went home on the third day and when ex1 came to pick me up I realised that he wasn’t quite sober. We had a taxi and the hospital insurance dictated that a nurse had to bring the baby to the car with parents following on behind.
We got home. We lived in a top floor flat that we had unfortunately bought (therein lies another tale) and within minutes, he was lying on the bed snoring his head off. Looking round the flat I realised he’d been on a bender ever since I’d given birth, merely sobering up slightly to come and see me. The flat was a tip. There was no food in the kitchen; there was nothing to eat. I couldn’t find any money and had to look down the back of the sofa and trawl through pockets to find enough money to order a pizza.
[At this point I pause typing and go and make a cup of tea.]
I lay there on the bed, with an insensible husband snoring so very very loudly, trying to feed our child, eat pizza and cry all at the same time. At this moment I contemplated for the first time what my mother had been trying to tell me for a while but I had not been ready to listen to, that I would have to separate from ex1 eventually. It took me another two years before I finally was ready to accept divorce which did equate in my mind as both failure and a broken promise.
That moment is etched into my memory. I was hoping to walk into a clean and tidy home, with a meal in the oven and a cup of tea made for me by an attentive partner. Maybe balloons along with the cards all up on a shelf. The contrast between my hopes and the reality was so vast that I felt devastated. Bringing home my first baby was supposed to be a perfect moment, a memory to treasure. Instead I felt so alone and isolated, that it was just me and my baby against the rest of the world and no-one was going to help us at all.
Furthermore, because it was supposed to be such a special moment, I never told anyone at the time or for years after. My mother would have got angry for me, would have ranted and railed which at the time I didn’t feel would help. When sitting with a bunch of mothers swapping birth stories it would be a conversation stopper. And I certainly can’t tell 1son that this is the enduring memory of his birth.
So that memory stays locked up. As I write this I’ve had tears well up and have felt tense but I haven’t actually bawled. I’m angry that a perfect moment was spoiled and I’m also angry that ex1 never said sorry for buggering up my life. He did, eventually, stop drinking and we get on reasonably well now and I’m reluctant to rock the boat.