Abandoned in a Children’s Home at a young age.
Finding God beneath His Rainbow.
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“A rainbow! A rainbow!” The excited children cried,
“What’s a rainbow?” I asked, with childish innocence.
They all laughed, instantly cruel again, mocking.
“Oh, just go and see! Fancy not knowing what a rainbow is!”
“But we’re not supposed to go out, it’s still wet and drizzling” I replied.
“Oh, don’t be such a baby, go and see!”
So I did. I wandered off, lonely and afraid, toddling around the far corner
Of the large Convent building that had our Children’s Home hidden
Behind it’s high forbidding walls.
And there it was – in front of me – A Rainbow!
I stared at it in disbelief – enchanted. What a magical moment!
What was it – so beautiful – so far above us all?
What did it mean? Knowing, instinctively, that it meant something.
I stood mesmerized, while the flowing warmth of an unknown Love
Washed over me - understanding little, but knowing even then that
Something had changed in me......forever. Something wonderful had
Reached down and touched me, holding me momentarily in its grasp,
Enthralled. I tore myself away, reluctantly, fearful that trouble might
Come and ruin the moment, but gazed forever backwards as I
Scampered away, a smile now upon my chubby, childish face.
I knew now what a rainbow was! I knew now that Somebody up there
Loved me, and had His Hand upon Me!
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Brighton, England, United Kingdom, 1952.
This poem is a truthful account of a very real and wonderful moment in my life that happened
when I was probably around two and a half to three years old - it’s a little difficult to be
precise as I’m sure you can imagine!
To truly understand the enormous impact of this
extraordinary event I need to take you back in time, to a year prior to this occurrence…
to the day my Mother left me in the care of an Order Of Nuns who ran a Childrens Home
from a building adjoining their Convent in Brighton, England.
I was only eighteen months
old at the time, that I do know for sure because my Mother told me herself, and later gave
me photographs of the two of us together on the actual day she left me there. As you may
have guessed I have been blessed with what is known as ‘early recall’ so the events you will
read about here are my own memories and not the product of other peoples’ suggestions, or
information gathered from other sources.
Where I have relied on information from others about
aspects of my life that I didn’t know about personally I have made it quite clear
that I have done so.
I’ve never known the real
reason my Mother put my brother and I in Homes -
everything she ever told me turned out to be completely untrue,
a pack of lies
that turned out to be figments of a very
It was always far
more important to her that she looked saintly and blameless in every situation in
which she “quite innocently” found herself rather than she tell the actual truth,
which generally tended to be rather less flattering!
As a consequence of her unique,
and somewhat self-serving mindset, I know very little about the true circumstances
surrounding my birth,
apart from the fact that the event itself quite obviously occurred!
I do know [once again because she told me so herself]
that she didn’t leave me with the Nuns because of any
fervent religious beliefs on her part but purely
because they were the only people who would take in
such a young infant–
she had tried everywhere else!
She had apparently already found a suitable Home near
the town centre for my eight-year old brother Simon,
it was a well-known Establishment renowned for its
disciplined environment and also for ensuring all
their boys received a good, solid education.
however, know how or why my brother and I ended up
in Homes in Brighton when my Mother actually lived
in London, which was a very long and expensive
train-ride away, particularly in those days!
I suspect she was hiding us from other relatives,
trying to ensure no-one would ever find out where
she had taken us or what had happened to us
she certainly succeeded - it never occurred to
anybody that we were in Childrens Homes!
This is a photo
of the author on the day
she was placed in the
Home at eighteen months old
From what I learned through contact with members
of her family many years later her older sister
had taken the three of us into her home when I
was still just a baby, but something had happened
between my Mother and her sisters’ husband that
resulted in her sister throwing her out on the street! No-one would say what had happened but
it’s not hard to guess! My Mother had already led what
might be described as a
life by that time!
Throughout her childhood she and her sister had
never seen eye-to-eye, there was a large age-gap
between them and my Mother had never been able to
stand the fact that the father she adored, and
the elder brother she doted on, had both
invariably listened to, and believed anything
her sister had said rather than her.
always resented her for it, and been profoundly
jealous of any attention her sister had ever
received from either her Father or her favourite
elder brother. As I was to discover myself in
future years, my Mother had to come FIRST, in
every situation and in every relationship!
She would NEVER accept second place!
Since her sister was a mother herself at the time
of their disagreement I would imagine that despite
her fury she would probably still have kept the
two of us under her roof, at least in the short
term, while my Mother made alternative arrangements,
but I’m quite sure my Mothers’ intense
jealousy and hatred of her would have put
paid to that idea!
I’m equally sure that
had my Mother given us a choice between
staying with her sister or spending three
years in Childrens Homes, we would definitely
have chosen to stay with her sister!
Her exploits with her sisters’ husband
turned out to be the last straw for the
rest of her family too, after that they
all decided they’d had ENOUGH and she became
the ‘black’ sheep’ of the family. She
found herself ostracised and left to
carry the burden of her responsibilities herself -
but she had to be free to live
her life the way she wanted to, and that
I suspect is the REAL reason we both ended
up in Homes!
My story begins at the Childrens Home at the
precise moment I saw my Mother walking away
from me and realized she was leaving me there
in that big, strange building, at the mercy of
‘weird-looking people’ who looked like huge,
scary monsters to me, in their long black robes
and cowls! I immediately flew into a state of
total panic and began sobbing and screaming
hysterically for my Mother, in fact, I became
so profoundly upset and terrified that I
and fell into such a deep
stupor that the Nuns thought I was in a coma
and dying! A few hours later they phoned my
Mother who was back in London by then and told
her she had to come to my bedside immediately
because I was at ‘deaths door’, but apparently
much to her annoyance and frustration,
I came out of
my ‘coma’ the moment she returned
and held me in her arms again! My Mother,
not at all swayed or perturbed by this
inauspicious chain of events, immediately
rushed straight back to the Railway Station
and caught the very next train back to London!
It always struck me as ‘strange’ how very fond my
Mother was of telling me this story in later years, she seemed immensely
of the fact that I’d recovered from my comatose state as soon as she’d
held me in her arms again - she was convinced it proved what a wonderful Mother she had always been to me!
It astonished me
that it never even occurred to her to feel
about subjecting me to the trauma that had caused my near-death
experience in the first place! My total collapse when she abandoned me, and my dramatic recovery
upon her return,
fed her ego, it didn’t touch her heart!
I don’t know how Simon coped, but I know I cried for my Mother
for a long time. I cried until I just couldn’t cry anymore,
and then I slowly drowned in the mind-numbing, dreadful despair of
I felt the desolation of rejection as the appalling
realization sunk into my young, damaged soul that there was NOBODY there who
cared, nobody there who loved me,
and I was alone.
I withdrew inside myself then, into the wilderness of the mind and the
that emanates from a soul in torment, a scream that echoes endlessly
through the human mind and heart. I had no choice but to accept this new,
horrible reality as being my life now, and then I cried inside…
broken and afraid.
I think that was where it started…
the feeling I had for so very many years after that,
the feeling of being
“on the Outside Looking in”
on Life. It came from having withdrawn so far inside myself,
through my pain, through my isolation, through my loss, that I felt as though I was
one step removed
from the rest of the World - from being
a part of things -
a sense of belonging was no longer possible.
It was the reason I no longer liked to be touched or held – I needed to feel
things by then to feel safe. Anything else was not safe –
it was a lie and led
to rejection of the most damaging kind.
I existed inside myself then and didn’t feel I belonged anywhere else.
I sometimes wonder what my Mother told herself
that made it ‘alright’ for her to do what she
did. Was it perhaps that “I was too young”...
“I wouldn’t really know” … “I’d soon get over it”?
Whatever she told herself, it wasn’t true.
Possibly if I’d been a new-born baby it might
have been true,
but I wasn’t.
I think perhaps trauma itself triggers early recall because my
only memory prior to that was when I was between 12-14 months old when there was a violent
thunderstorm raging outside our home in Central London.
I have never liked storms, particularly
not thunder and lightning, and I started to cry. I remember my Mother picking me up and carrying
me through to the bathroom for some reason, and
my brother telling her to hold me up to the
small window there so I could see the Storm.
I remember quite clearly being very cross
at his suggestion and my Mother rather foolishly
doing it, upon which I cried even louder!
The Home I lived in was a cold, impersonal place, a bit like living in a Museum.
As soon as any of us were old enough to walk reasonably well we were sent
across to the big building to live with the older children, where everyone was bigger than us and we
were completely at their mercy, and they knew it.
If we had something they wanted they took it, if they wanted to push us over they did.
Occasionally I would push through the large prickly bushes hedging the main garden and sneak back over
to the Nursery where the youngest children were, it was peaceful there, away from the bullies,
but I was
usually spotted quite quickly and chased back again by an irate Nun!
Perhaps somewhat inevitably one of the first lessons I learned upon being sent over to the main building
was that wetting the bed was greatly frowned upon! I must still have been very small when I committed this
dastardly deed because I can remember my soiled bedsheet seemed to be absolutely enormous as I struggled to
keep a hold of it and still keep up with the very stern and angry Nun who was frog-marching me down seemingly
miles of corridors and chiding me every step of the way.
When we finally reached the old battered door to the Boiler Room
she pushed heavily against it and it swung open, creaking ominously. I remember peering anxiously down the steep steps
into the scary blackness beyond...it was dark down there, frightening to a small child and those steps certainly hadn't
been made with little legs in mind!
I scrambled down still grimly hanging on to my soggy sheet, and the Nun
filled a large concrete sink with cold water then I was told to push the soiled portion of the sheet into the water,
swish it around and pull it out again, which I did as best I could. I could scarcely
reach the sink never mind the water inside it!
The sheet couldn't possibly have been clean so presumably someone was trying to make
a point to a toddler probably somewhere around three years old!
Needless to say, I couldn't get the sheet
out again by myself and I had to have help dangling it over the rows of old, lagged pipes lining the
dilapidated walls - I remember my poor little legs couldn't get me out of there fast enough when it was all
finally over! I don't recall wetting my bed much after that, but maybe I've just blocked the memory of it out!
At night we slept in large, cold dormitories
that we weren’t allowed to enter during the day –
as long as it wasn’t actually pelting down with
rain the Nuns kept us outside as much as they
possibly could, but curiously we weren’t allowed
out again until the rain had completely stopped.
We were treated like semi-domesticated little
animals on the whole, rather like pets you quite
like but don’t actually want around most the time!
It was a sad but almost dispassionate way to live:
knowing nobody really cared.
Every night when the lights were switched off the muffled sobs
of unhappy little children crying themselves
to sleep would seep through the blanketing
darkness, the fear and heartbreak of some
seemed almost tangible, sorrowful enough to
touch the hardest of hearts you would have
thought, but no…not there. If any of the Nuns
heard us they would storm in crossly and scold
everyone, saying how ungrateful we all were.
We used to hide under our blankets and bury our
heads beneath our pillows to muffle the sound,
but those in the nearest beds always knew.
The bigger children would pick on us if they could
hunt us down in the dark so the smallest amongst
us soon learned to shed our tears silently
if we wanted to stay out of harms’ way.
I think most of us found the older Nuns
they regarded us as ‘Satans Spawn’,
and that’s exactly how they treated us,
‘the evil outcome of lewd and immoral acts!’
I’m sure most of us were illegitimate, my
brother and I certainly were, others might
have lost one or both of their parents because
of the War, but whatever the reasons were
for any of us being there I don’t think we
deserved to be treated as harshly as we were.
We weren’t handled with sympathy or understanding, or shown any love or
compassion, we weren’t even individuals
to them, just a noisy, demanding throng
they were ‘obliged to care for’, if
that’s what you could truthfully call
what they did for us. They put a little
food in our stomachs and old worn-out
clothes on our backs, but as far as actually
caring about us – no, they didn’t do that.
Obviously, I am grateful that they took
me in when no-one else would, only the
Good Lord knows what my Mother would have
done with me otherwise, they did put a
roof over my head, clothes on my back and
food in my stomach, and I am immensely
thankful for that,
love and compassion would have been nice too!
A child needs to be hugged and told that somebody
loves them, somebody cares – children in these
Homes certainly need to hear that.
Occasionally we all had to attend Morning Service -
which we dreaded - mostly because The Chapel,
like everywhere else there was bitterly cold,
and the Service seemed to go on
I remember crying one Sunday morning on the way to Chapel because my legs were
terribly sore and covered with stinging rashes, probably caused by the extremely cold conditions.
I spotted one of the younger Nuns who I thought was a tiny
bit more sympathetic than the others [not that it would have been difficult!]
and ran over to her. I wrapped my arms around her legs and started to tell her about my sore thighs,
but one of the older Nuns immediately rushed up and severely reprimanded her for listening to me, then she
grabbed my arm and angrily shoved me back into the line of waiting children.
Small or not, sore or not, nobody cared.
My own experience with Nuns certainly bore
no resemblance to anything depicted in
that very popular musical ‘The Sound Of Music’,
and I suspect I wasn’t the only person to have
a wry smile on her face when watching that
Movie for the first time!
My word….if only!
Our Nuns were cold, heartless women without
an ounce of human let alone Godly compassion
between them, not a single ‘Maria’ or
Julie Andrews in sight!
I hope Nuns today have changed more than the length and
colour of their Habits, and now actually
reflect the Love of God, which is surely
the main purpose of their existence? In those days however, and to those
particular Nuns, we were just a bunch
of noisy, screaming, demanding urchins –
‘an obligation’ they had taken on,
nothing more, nothing less.
This poem is for them.
Bought With A Price
Do we truly understand Your Sacrifice,
Or do we see the Victory, but not the Price?
Do we see Your Blood and Shame?
Feel Your Sorrow, bear Your Pain?
Do we truly understand Your Sacrifice?
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Christian Poetry. Searching for relationship with Him.
I think it was around about this time that
I had my “Rainbow”
experience with God.
I know I was still very young because walking
any distance without anybody close-by to
help was still an adventure, a challenge,
and I remember something bulky around my
bottom so I think I was probably still in
Everything happened exactly as my
poem describes, it was a beautiful,
incredible moment when God reached down
from His Heavenly Kingdom to touch the
life and heart of a poor frightened
little girl, to comfort her and let her
know that He existed, that He cared.
It was a truly wonderful moment, but afterwards I still had to go
back inside, back to the squabbling, back to the pinching, back to the noise: back to
a world I definitely did NOT understand or want to be a part of –
stranded among a sea of strange faces and ‘big people’ terrifying in their long black robes,
with their cold, unfeeling hearts.
I remember trying to get back inside and
struggling to grip the door knob, but then another older child who knew I had gone
outside heard me and opened the door and let me back in again, but something inside
me had changed, the Spirit of God had touched me, and I knew I wasn’t alone anymore.
It wasn’t until years later that I cognitively
understood how much the Hand of God was on me after that, guiding me, and protecting
me, and that it was His Gentle Holy Spirit dwelling within me who taught me to be still,
and to quietly observe what was going on in my environment, how to separate myself,
sometimes internally, sometimes externally, from the endless melee and confusion all
around me at the Home.
I learned to heed that still, small voice within me,
anticipate problems and walk away, it became as natural to me as breathing,
so normal I thought nothing of it, but none of it was normal for a child so very,
very young. I was too young to understand about spiritual things, and didn’t know
how to communicate with God,
but I knew He existed, and that He loved me.
A harsh life with the Nuns, feeling isolated and alone.
Sometimes I Need To Touch You
How near You are in my spirit yet how far away You seem
On Those other days when I need to touch You.
The war between spirit and flesh is never-ending,
We have that human need to see and touch,
But Father, though I am flesh and You are Spirit,
You fill me with the Wonder of Your Love!
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Catholic Charity Provision without compassion
Life in the Home was quite regimental really, each day we were divided into groups,
and herded everywhere like flocks of unruly sheep. Occasionally we were sent along to a
large communal shower-room to ‘clean up’, but it was
cold down there it was like washing
in a freezing meat-locker! We all raced through it so fast the water barely had time to
any of us, never mind
us! At other times the Nuns would decide it was ‘Hair-Washing Day’
– another event we all dreaded because it meant an excruciatingly painful few minutes for each
and every one of us, as impatient, work-worn hands clawed through our hair like large mechanical
The soap they used in those days came in big, hard blocks that were
really slow to lather and they would rub them back and forth against our tender scalps until they finally
did, by which time it invariably felt as if each individual hair was being torn out by the root!
We all tried to avoid the roughest Nuns, the ones we knew didn’t like us,
but it was usually impossible…
there was nowhere to hide, no escape.
Most of us would be struggling to hold back our tears by the time the ordeal was
over because it was worse if they caught anyone crying, then they got really cross and even rougher
and more impatient, and later…they would remember! The Nuns always found a way of getting back at anyone
who ‘displeased’ them, their spitefulness always ‘for our own good’ of course, to make us ‘better’ more
Sometimes on special occasions, we were allowed to receive
presents sent in by a relative, or even gifts
that had been donated by a benefactor of some kind, the following piece is about a ‘special’ day in my own
life there, I think it was my Birthday. I was called inside and taken up to my dormitory, where a senior Nun
showed me a large, beautiful book of Fairy Tales which she told me “someone” had sent it in for me ….
I thought it was from my Mother.
I still remember the books you sent,
Reaching out to me in the time we were apart,
Trying to send me, from a distance,
Tangible signs of your love…reminders
That you were still there, that you still cared.
You knew of course how much I loved books,
Even from my earliest days,
Yet, perversely, these particular gifts
Often brought me more pain than joy.
The Holiness of the Carers caused them
To disapprove completely of such unseemly
Gestures of affection towards one who had,
To their minds, been abandoned to their care.
Your gifts were considered frivolous,
And, as always with them, their disapproval
Was made known in many different ways,
And so, it was perhaps inevitable that the most
Beautiful book of all, a birthday gift,
Was withheld from my eager little hands.
Its generous size and glorious colours
Brought joy to my heart when I saw it,
But with it you had sent a smaller, plainer book,
And it was this one I was allowed to keep,
The smaller sign of love and extravagance in their eyes.
When I was shown my beautiful book
And told I could not have it,
My tears were pronounced sinful,
The sure sign of a cruel and selfish heart,
For there were others there who received no gifts…ever,
Others, whose always empty hands had previously
Clawed and grasped, slapped and pinched,
And sometimes even stolen and destroyed
Other little things of mine…anything to assuage
The gnawing emptiness these gifts brought home to them,
Acting like a burr under a far too heavy saddle.
I was shut up then, alone in the deserted dormitory,
To reflect on the evil in my heart,
But all I thought of was my beautiful book,
Symbol of a Mothers’ love.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
It dawned on my Mother eventually that anything she gave me while I was in the Home automatically became
‘communal property’, so on the odd occasions she would pick me up to take me into town to see Simon, she
would bring a nice clean little coat for me to wear to cover up my shabby, darned clothes, but of course
there was little she could do to hide my lank hair and grubby appearance. Knowing now how extremely ‘particular’
she was about such things I can only wonder how many times she went to see Simon
picking me up first, purely because she was ashamed to be seen with me!
‘Appearances’ mattered a great deal to her, and Simon
looked clean and smart, whereas I never did!
I think that was probably one of the main reasons I found her visits so
upsetting, her disapproval was always quite evident every time she set eyes on me and my appearance failed
to live up to her expectations once again. There is nothing reassuring or pleasant about meeting with constant
Her whole attitude said: “I’m here to show you LOVE
very warm and cuddly!
After a while I found her visits confusing – if the Nuns hadn’t
told me each time she showed up that my
‘Mother’ had come for me I doubt I would have known who she was! If someone isn’t actually fulfilling the role
of a Mother in your life the title itself means very little, particularly when you’ve been placed in a Home at
such a young age, then the term ‘Mother’ means less and less with every day that passes.
I remember sometimes when she arrived to pick me up I didn’t even want to go along with the Nun to
see her, but of course I had to!
A great deal of the time I wasn’t even sure who Simon was either!
I actually plucked up the courage to ask her once and she thought it was very funny.
How funny is it really, when you’re not even sure if your brother is
your brother? All I truly knew about either of them by then was that she was someone called ‘Mummy’ who turned
up periodically to take me out to see a boy called Simon who was sometimes mean to me and pinched me!
I don’t really understand what constructive purpose
she imagined these visits served, swamping me briefly with rather prudish, condescending
‘love and affection’ only to dump me back into the heaving throng again
until next time. Did it never occur to her that possibly these visits did more
harm than good? Did she never wonder what my little heart and mind made of
the fact that I was just dumped back again every time, like some
little reject? Like an old toy she fancied playing with for a while, and then shoved back in the cupboard again
until the next time she was bored and remembered it was there?
Simon was old enough to understand that he would
be going home again one day, whereas I didn’t realize that at all.
My reality was that I was there and I was
staying there – that was why I was taken back every time, something about me
wasn’t ‘acceptable’ - I wasn’t wanted permanently, only sometimes. All her visits did for me, was stir up painful emotions and memories I no
longer completely understood, and intensify my feelings of abandonment and rejection.
I remember it being a very long walk between my Home and where Simon stayed, and my Mother used to wheel me
there in a pushchair she had borrowed. I noticed she deliberately took an unnecessarily circuitous route around
behind the large sign that stood in front of Simons’ Home, and obviously having noticed the same thing Simon
asked her once why she always went behind it. She replied somewhat uncomfortably,
“I don’t want Sylvia to see it”
whereupon Simon of course laughed, and said,
“What does it matter, she can’t read anyway?”
I used to wonder what that sign said that she didn’t want me to see -
did it simply state the name of his Home, or something else entirely?
Wherever he was staying, he was clearly very much better cared for than I was, and happier -
it obviously wasn’t run by Nuns!
My mother was a strange woman really, she would always want to
have a photograph taken of these
when the three of us were together - even going to the expense
of taking us along to a professional photographers’ studio/ camera shop! These events might have been
to her, but I mostly found them quite
stressful, not only because I wasn’t really comfortable with either of them by then, but also because I knew
what was waiting for me at the end of every excursion!
I can well remember one occasion, when she put the
usual smart little coat on me and carefully buttoned it up to cover my scruffy, grimy clothes, and then insisted
the photographer find something to put on my head because my hair looked so awful. They had quite a row about it!
The poor man finally found an appalling old woollen bonnet stuffed in a dusty drawer and slapped it on my head.
It looked dreadful, but she seemed happier: I still have the picture to this day, showing my eyes bright with
tears because Simon kept pinching me whilst happily smiling at my mother and assuring her he was only ‘tickling’
me. She sent it to me years later as proof of what a happy well-loved child I was!
That’s probably the only
reason she had any of these pictures taken in the first place - so she could ‘prove’ to everyone how happy and
well-looked after her children were, thanks to her
‘tender, thoughtful and loving’
provision for us!
She had such a
way of looking at things…nothing was ever her fault. Presumably the fact we both
ended up in Childrens Homes was either our own faults, or her sisters’, or her fathers’, or her brothers’
or her aunties, anybody else’s but hers! I don’t think she ever really ‘got it’ though - as far as she was
concerned we had absolutely
to complain about – we were in safe, secure Homes where our basic needs
were met so what was all the fuss about?
There never was any trauma…that was just nonsense!
Her complete indifference to our very real emotional distress certainly emphasized how very
leaving us in Homes affected her and her enjoyment of
life, as opposed to how very much it affected
both of us!
I recall commenting to her about the books she had sent in
for my birthday once and how much they had meant
to me even though I had only been allowed to keep one of them,
she looked very puzzled and said she was
positive she hadn’t sent any! So, all I can say now is ‘thank you’ to whoever did send them – the one I was
allowed to keep did console me, and apparently quite erroneously reassured me that my Mother cared and
thought about me! Fortunately, however God cared, and was watching out for me…I was just too young to recognize
the extent of it at the time!
Catholic Children’s homes, Hard-hearted Charity
One day a Nun came and took me through to the Foyer of the Convent building next door,
where I found my Mother waiting for me. She seemed unhappy and ill-at-ease, not at all her usual confident self.
She announced in a matter-of-fact voice,
totally devoid of any pleasure or enthusiasm,
that I would be ‘coming home’ in a few weeks. Even now it’s hard to
describe exactly how I felt upon hearing her news - I was neither happy nor sad, but I did feel
a flicker of fear and uncertainty - I didn’t know ‘home’ anymore.
She had a small, dainty pair of slippers she had
just bought, and she asked one of the Nuns to keep them safely for me so I could wear them upon my arrival at my
new home, so they dutifully put them away in a locker to await that auspicious occasion. I felt uneasy, disquieted
by this unexpected turn of events, and also by the gift of slippers, I had never worn slippers before –
I didn’t want them - but had no idea why.
They were much nicer than anything I’d ever had before,
I think perhaps it was some kind of foreboding of what lay ahead.
Slippers Made of Glass
Alone on the spotless metal shelf,
Of a spotless empty locker…
Slippers, new, pretty, bright,
Out of place in this austere, pristine setting,
With no warmth, no light, no joy.
Endless corridors with dazzling floors
Reverberate with strange echoes of
Eerily distant sounds, as far removed
From the throbbing vein of life as
The innocent charges contained
Behind the high, imprisoning walls.
Upturned faces and outstretched hands
Reach out for so much more than those,
So distant in their long, black Habits
Could, or even would, give them.
Longing for so much more than blank
Unsmiling faces and cold, unyielding hearts.
Darned socks, chafed skin, wet beds and harsh words,
Dark nights giving way to even darker days.
Frightened children cry lonely tears, muffled
By pillows and blankets – unheard except for
Other childish ears. Then suddenly…Slippers…
New, pretty, bright: stark reminders of a different
World, barely remembered. Slippers, symbolising
So much more with their newness, colour and
Brightness than an aching heart could bear to
Understand. Better to leave them there on that
Barren shelf, unworn, but tainted nonetheless
By the place in which they were received. Better to
Leave them, lest the promises seemingly glowing
Within their warm colours prove to be as bleakly
Inappropriate in the new life as they were in the old.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
I can remember waiting for my Mother to come and pick me up on my
last day at the Childrens Home. The Nuns had sent me up to the Sewing-Room on the top-floor of the
Convent building to separate me
from the rest of the children prior to my departure and ensure as little disruption as possible to
their daily routine. If I walk into a Fabric Shop even today the smell of the different materials is so
evocative that my memory immediately transports me back to that tiny attic room up in the eaves.
The Nun assigned to mending and sewing duties that day was old and grumpy, and completely ignored me as
I stood at the tiny window watching the drive-way anxiously, waiting….and waiting ….and waiting.
I didn’t really know how
about leaving the Home, I knew I should be looking forward to it, getting away from
there and starting a new Life - a whole new World lay waiting for me just beyond the big gates at the foot
of the driveway, but as the hours ticked slowly past, I began to feel increasingly nervous and apprehensive.
I didn’t know where I was going, or what it would be like to be part of a family again. I barely remembered
anything at all about family life, and had never even met the man we were going to be living with…
what if he didn’t like me?
I felt I barely knew my Mother or Simon anymore, having spent so
much time away from them, so the longer I waited for her to come and pick me up that morning the more my anxiety grew,
eventually obliterating any pleasure or anticipation, leaving me feeling only nervous and insecure.
Fortunately, the moment I saw my Mother making her way slowly up the long, winding driveway my
spirits rose and I told myself everything was bound to be alright – I was going ‘home’.
I think I was a little over four and a half years old then.
Somewhat unusually, I was allowed to run outside and greet my Mother,
but I was utterly crestfallen when I saw she wasn’t at all happy or
pleased to see me, in fact she was cold, distant
and appeared to be very stressed.
There was a distinctly icy chill in the air as she
exchanged a few curt words with the Nuns overseeing
my departure. She asked repeatedly if I was sure I had my slippers with me, and I didn’t understand
why, but I lied.
I assured her that I had, even though I knew I had deliberately
left them in the locker, but I suddenly knew why - I just didn’t want to take anything with me that would
remind me of that place, or that life.
The slippers had been ‘out of place’ in the Childrens Home, and I somehow just knew
they would be equally out of place in my new home!
I thoroughly enjoyed the long train-ride into London though,
and relished with each passing moment and every
mile we travelled, just how very far from the Childrens Home we were going to be living!
Of course, tensions mounted somewhat when we arrived at our destination
and my Mother realized that I didn’t have my slippers with me, and had lied
about it not only once but several times! She was
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Christian Poem with God comforting an unhappy child.
A Heavenly Whisper In Tiny Ears
Speak softly Child, for you are next to My Heart,
And there is no need for tears.
Speak softly child, for I hear your voice,
And will chase away your fears.
Speak softly child, for though you are small,
And have yet far to grow,
If you reach out now – I will Hear your voice,
And that’s all you need to know.
The time will come for deeper things
That you must know of Me,
But reach out now – let Me hear your voice,
Draw a little closer and see!
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Living in a deeply divided strife-torn family in a poor area.
My new home was awful and came as a dreadful shock to me.
The whole area couldn’t have been
more of a contrast to the green, semi-rural location of the
Childrens Home in Brighton, yet my Mother hadn’t warned me,
or told me anything about it at all, in fact she’d barely even
spoken to me during the entire journey into
London! If I asked her something she would answer me very curtly and that was
it – no ‘conversation’
whatsoever! I didn’t know what to make of it.
She was still just as terse and uncommunicative when we
finally arrived at the Terminal as she had been when she’d first picked me up…every bit as
She quite obviously had other, very serious things on her mind,
but I was puzzled – I’d thought this was going to be a happy occasion, but apparently
not - not for her, and as I was about to discover not for
Eddie, my Mothers’ boyfriend, lived in a very poor,
run-down area of London. There were several boarded-up
houses in his street, some of which had been taken over by Jamaican squatters, new arrivals fleeing the
crime and poverty in their own recently ‘liberated’ Country who were hoping to find a better life in Britain.
They apparently hadn’t succeeded yet, but at least the music blaring
out of their broken-down front doors was
– it was the only thing around there that
Eddies’ basement flat was a depressing place, and memories of my trip down to the Boiler Room at the Home
came rushing back as soon as I saw the steeply descending front steps! The front door of Eddies’ home was
directly opposite a small area where all the dustbins were kept, it was dirty, smelly and unpleasant.
His door opened onto a long, narrow passage which led to two medium-sized rooms, both of which were dingy
and smelt of damp.
The first room was Eddie and Mums’ bedroom, now used as their bed/sitting room, their
window over-looked the front steps and of course the bin area, and had thick black bars on it, as did all
the windows in the house. The door to the second room was further down the passage. This room had a large
bed in it [which apparently Simon and I were to share] plus a gas fire, a few shelves and a table, and that
was all. Our room led straight into the kitchen, a small dismal room, with two rows of old, rusty pipes that
ran the full-length of one wall up to a large water tank situated up in the far right-hand corner just below
There was no bathroom, no hot water, and the inside toilet, situated just off the kitchen, was only
a very recent addition and barely larger than a broom-cupboard!
The kitchen itself was very basic, there was a small, heavily barred window next to the backdoor - it looked
directly onto the back-steps and let in very little light. A large white sink stood to one side of the window
in the left-hand corner, and a dilapidated little cupboard stood next to it, and next to that stood an old gas stove.
A tall narrow cupboard stood against the other wall, close to a small kitchen table, which had two battered old wooden
chairs on one side and an old stuffed arm-chair on the other.
A bare 40watt bulb dangling from a cord in the middle of
the ceiling provided what little light there was, whether it was day or night. The floor covering, or what was left of
it, was old and ‘crusty’, the result of the kitchen flooding repeatedly during heavy rain storms and the damage never
being repaired – the tarmac on the road outside was in much better condition!
Those dainty little slippers my
Mother had bought me wouldn’t have lasted five minutes, sturdy boots would
have been a much better idea!
Eddie smiled at me warmly when my Mother introduced me to him, I got the impression he was a little uncomfortable
with small children but at least he tried to make me feel welcome,
which to be completely honest is more than anyone else did!
Simon greeted me in a very off-hand manner, as if he saw me every day, and didn’t even get off the chair he
was sitting on, but to my amazement my Mother rushed across the room to him with a beaming smile on her face, and
swamped him with hugs and kisses!
I was astonished by her total and instantaneous transformation ….
she hadn’t even smiled at me ONCE during the whole trip, and there certainly hadn’t been any hugs or kisses!
It was so obvious where
her heart and mind had been the whole time –
all the way back here, with Simon
– you didn’t exactly need to be hypersensitive to see it!
I was only four and a half years old, and it was supposed to be a ‘Special’ day, or so I'd thought...
but apparently not.
I was so hurt and disappointed by her transparent favouritism,
and her contrastingly exuberant ‘over-the-top’ display of affection the instant
she saw Simon that I felt utterly dismayed and lost.
I was so dejected I wondered why I was even there.
That incident pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day really,
nobody seemed to be particularly pleased I was there
- there was nowhere to put the few things I had brought with me, no space made for me at all, and any vague
residue of excitement or anticipation there might have been on my part
completely vanished when my Mother showed me the rest of the place.
Eddie had erected some kind of lean-to workshop immediately outside the Kitchen back-door which effectively blocked
out most of the daylight that might otherwise have filtered through the heavily-barred window into ‘our’ room, the second
room in the flat. He apparently did a bit of carpentry there and had already made several pieces of furniture, his bed, a desk,
a coffee-table, and a few other items that were mostly in his bedroom now.
A few very steep steps directly outside the
kitchen window led up to Eddies’ ‘garden’ - I ventured up there alone because my Mother flatly refused to climb them,
only to discover it was nothing more than a very small patch of barren, stony ground surrounded by high brick walls,
one of which had large, jagged shards of broken glass embedded in cement along the top of it.
There was a broken-down old dustbin up there, and some rubble lying around,
and that was it -
there wasn’t so much as a blade of grass, or a single plant, not even a tree or bush,
it was even more depressing than inside!
I was only small, I hadn’t been expecting a palace
or anything grand, but I had thought ‘home’ would be a happy, warm,
not like this!
I’d never seen anything like it apart
from the Boiler Room at The Home! There was no space, I wouldn’t even have my own bed!
There was nothing to do, nowhere to play, nowhere to hide,
nowhere to get away from anybody!
There wasn’t even anywhere to put anything,
my things had just been left lying on the bed, no-one had made even a
space for me anywhere!
I felt like an unwanted intruder,
and in retrospect, I think that’s exactly what I was, because I now believe
the Nuns had insisted my Mother finally remove me from The Home, possibly because
I was approaching school-age by then and
they had only initially agreed to keep me on a short term basis, or possibly because
they had discovered she had collected
Simon from the other Home in town and decided if she could house one
child she could house the other - I don’t know, but
it would certainly explain the complete absence of any joy or pleasure on her part, and
also her failure to provide even
the smallest bit of space for me, or my few paltry things.
She hadn’t wanted me there… in fact it was soon made clear to me
that she hadn’t actually wanted me at all!
Eddie and Simon had been trailing along behind us while my Mother showed me
around, and I was keenly aware of everyone watching me,
so I smiled brightly and tried not to show how desperately unhappy I felt
knowing this was where, and how I would be living from now on...
trapped in a place with no sunlight, no space, and with people who didn’t
even want me there.
I fought against the
overwhelming despair flooding through my heart by trying to console myself
with the thought that at least I would be away from the harshest and most
tyrannical of the Nuns and surely THAT would be an improvement,
but I soon found out that it wasn’t, and that one type of unhappiness had
merely been exchanged for another.
Simon seemed surprisingly confident and very much ‘at home’, quite the
‘Star of the Show’ in fact. It was obvious he
and my Mother were very close, they were constantly exchanging little looks, and one always seemed to know exactly
what the other was thinking and feeling, all without saying a single word - it was almost uncanny.
Simon was six and a half years older than me, and of course he and my Mother had spent those
years and more together.
He had been eight years old when he had beeen put in a Home so they had spent much more time together than they had spent
apart whereas entirely the opposite had been true of our relationship.
My Mother and I had spent much more time apart than we had together and they had been important formative years
for me during which I had experienced profound emotional trauma, we simply
didn't have the same 'connection' or understanding.
She and Simon were so obviously enjoying
being together again, laughing and chatting so freely, so comfortably
it was obvious he'd been living there for a while. I wondered how or even
if I could ever achieve a relationship like theirs, but I quickly realized
that this was not in fact a
home and that although Simon and my Mother got on extremely well,
he and Eddie didn't get on
at all! The moment we all sat down at the table for our first meal
together the atmosphere immediately became heavy, tense and uncomfortable.
My Mother sat down next to Simon,
leaving Eddie and I no alternative but to sit together on the other side of the table, perhaps
even then unconsciously showing us both where her heart truly lay,
revealing what would eventually come to pass… Eddie and I on the
opposite side, shut out of their little world and left alone, on our own separate little islands.
Another indication that Simon had been there for a while was that he not only knew
to ‘needle’ Eddie but also that he was confident enough
to do it!
He knew he could rely on his doting Mother to protect him, and she certainly
hovered over him all the time like an anxious Mother hen.
Eddie said something to her in a very quiet voice, wanting her to correct Simon on some minor point,
but she instantly swept his comment aside quite dismissively
and made even more fuss of Simon, and stood stroking his hair affectionately… indulgently.
Eddie was silent for a few moments, then he pushed his chair away from the table and left the room.
I can't say that our first meal together had been an entirely 'comfortable'
experience for me either because I'd soon become aware of everyone staring
at me with horrified expressions on their faces! Apparently, my table manners were quite
appalling, which was hardly surprising since I hadn't been taught any!
At the Home we’d all just grabbed our food and bolted it down before anyone could take it away
from us so meal-times had been far from 'genteel',
My Mother, now in full ‘prim and proper’ mode, chose to inform me rather
haughtily that “it was not nice to eat with one’s mouth open”. Naturally I was very embarrassed
and felt suitably chastened, but I did wonder why no-one had ever bothered to
tell me about any of these social 'niceties' before!
I don't know how I expected to feel that day,
but I do know I hadn't expected to feel
or that my presence was
everyone had to 'put up with',
but that was how
I felt...still 'on the
outside looking in'
I hadn't expected to feel like that here, in my own home, with my own family,
I'd hoped it would be different, I'd
Christian Poem, God is watching.
During one of our first little ‘welcome home’ chats soon after my arrival, my Mother made
it quite plain that my birth had been ‘an accident’- a ‘surprise’,
and clearly not a very fortuitous one,
since her lack of enthusiasm was obvious even to
my young eyes! In fact, whenever the subject came up, and it seemed
to surprisingly often during those early days, she and Simon would exchange darkly
significant looks, quite obviously re-living unhappy times in their minds.
She also informed me in a rather off-hand and dismissive manner that she had
decided not to tell my Father of my
impending arrival because she knew by then that he was going back to his family overseas, and as she put it
“what did he matter anyway, when I had her?". [Most of the men she’d had affairs
with during both the War and for several years after it were married Overseas Servicemen
temporarily based in Britain.]
It’s a horrible feeling to grow up with though…
the awful emptiness that comes with the knowledge that the person who fathered you
isn’t even aware of your existence - that you’re there, that you
care, that you would have liked to have known him. It leaves an aching void inside, a space
he was supposed to occupy. A fathers' absence becomes all
the more poignant when the remaining parent chooses to abandon that child, rightly or
wrongly that child will always wonder if things might have
been different if Daddy had known.
I sometimes wonder why, since she always
declared herself to be such 'a loving and extraordinarily sensitive person',
it never occurred to my Mother that by telling me both those facts simultaneously in
such a dismissive manner, she was rather brutally informing me that not only was I 'unplanned'
and very obviously unwanted, but also that my forthcoming arrival was
so trivial and unimportant it wasn't even worth mentioning to my Father!
Was she being deliberately hurtful or did she simply not care that her words
made me feel not only irrelevant but also totally insignificant? My appearance
had been little more than a nasty shock!
A child may be too young to grasp the full meaning of such statements when
they’re first made, I didn’t know at the time why her words made me feel so very bad inside,
so hurt, so sad…I only knew that for some reason they did, but the
feeling those words evoked…that feeling takes
root in the heart and soul and remains there forever.
In time that child will work out exactly what those words meant, and why they felt like
that, just as I eventually did, but it was a long, long time before I realized the
hugely negative impact all these things had on me, and just how much they influenced
the way I saw myself after that, and that they were the reason
I believed nothing I thought or felt ever mattered.
Feelings of being worthless...of being unlovable,insignificant,
an unwanted intruder in other peoples’ lives, stemmed from way back there in my early childhood,
and it was there that they grew such strong, pernicious roots,
there that I became so painfully aware of being
an encumbrance, a liability, and nothing more than that.
I now know and understand the origin of the low
self-esteem, and crippling feelings of inadequacy and
inferiority that made me feel so ‘unworthy’ and always held me back, and the
root cause of my subsequent reluctance to believe or accept that anyone
could or would EVER genuinely LOVE ME.
It started with little
seeds that were planted in my heart and soul the day my Mother first abandoned me in the Childrens Home
- seeds that were fed and watered every time she returned me to the distinctly
unloving arms of the Nuns after each and
every one of her visits, always leaving me with the impression there was something
‘unacceptable’ and not quite ‘nice’ about me. Each one of those seeds took root and
eventually flowered, right there in that awful, soul-destroying basement.
Profound hurts of this
nature can never be healed by occasional hugs and kisses, and
certainly not by what even a young child readily identifies as false declarations
of ‘love’ and ‘devotion’ that may subsequently follow them…the harm has been done, the hurt inflicted,
the foundation of future fears and insecurities laid.
If you are a young person reading this and you are feeling
any of the painful emotions described in this
piece, can I speak to you personally for just a moment?
You are important to God.
Children are important to God.
Too many people underestimate the intensity and depths of a childs’
but God never does.
He is grieved when a child experiences pain of
any kind, and is profoundly moved by their tears.
God reached down and touched me as an infant, too small to understand anything,
He did so then because He knew I wouldn’t make it if He waited
any longer, He knew my inner pain was destroying my soul, and breaking my young heart,
and if He didn’t do something then, it would be too late.
If you are able to read this you are obviously older than I was then,
old enough to understand what I am saying to you now.
Please believe me when I tell you that you are
alone, no matter how
afraid, unloved, isolated or abandoned
you may feel,
Sees and He
Cares. He is with you now, whether you are aware
of it or not, as you are reading these words. Always
remember, His Love is PERFECT, it is Eternal
[which means it lasts
] and it is Unconditional, which means
you don’t have to deserve it, ‘earn’ it or ‘merit’ it in any way at all, you only have to reach out to Him and
speak from your heart to His…it’s as simple as that.
He’s there and He’s waiting. He already knows you, and is
waiting patiently for the day you decide you want to know Him too.
Children are vulnerable and must be protected.
Do you know God sees your every fear,
Hears every muttered comment
You don’t want Him to hear?
He sees every frown upon your brow,
And bending low He whispers how
You can find His Way.
Have you ears to hear and find His Way,
Will you make time for God in your day?
He’s always there, right by your side,
From fear and pain you need not hide.
Put your hand in His, Let Him show you the way,
The time is right, you choose the day!
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Christian Poem for those living in difficult circumstances.
I think I could have avoided a great deal of the pain and heartache I
experienced later on in my life if I had understood
a lot more
His Precious Holy Spirit and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ,
a lot earlier
than I actually
I was indeed Blessed that God The Father kept me under His
Protective Hand until I finally got it right! May God watch over you too as
you also find your way to Him!
The following is ‘a Psalm, a Hymn, a spiritual song’, or even perhaps a ‘rap’ for
those who are living in violent, difficult circumstances.
Christ is there
for you too,
of the deprivation, in the
of the squalid living conditions, in the
of the violence,
Christ The Holy Son of God is
walking side by side
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”.
[Psalm 23:4 The Holy Bible. King James Version]
Christian Poem, Christ paid the price for our sins.
I Have No Fear In Jesus
I have no fear in Jesus,
There is no fear in Jesus,
For there is nothing Satan can do,
To change the Victory
The Lord has Won for me,
And so to Jesus I’ll always be true.
If you should look for Him,
You’ll find Him waiting there,
To share your heavy load,
And ease your every care,
So open wide your door
And let Him Dwell in you
For in Jesus we have no fear.
So come and praise The Lord
For all He’s done for you,
His Love is Perfect,
His Love is Ever True,
So testify of Him,
Uplift His Holy Name,
For in Jesus we have no fear.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
The Message of The Cross.
On The Outside Looking In.
When You hung there on that Cross at Calvary
It was the generations ahead that You could see.
Men and women, girls and boys,
All deceived by Satan’s ploys,
And crying out, alone with their misery.
When You hung there on that Cross You bled for ME,
Your heart ached for the pain that You could see.
You saw my desperate need,
And with Your death You sowed a seed
That would lead me straight to God through Calvary.
Despite the blackness of our hearts that You saw then,
You still cried ‘Abba, Father – I’ll die for them!
In Your compassion for man’s loss
You went so meekly to the Cross
And gladly paid the price at Calvary.
Oh, My Saviour! What a joy should fill our hearts,
For in Your Master Plan we each have parts!
We all can play a role!
We too can help men to be whole,
Through the Victory won for us at Calvary!
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Living in a perpetual war-zone.
In some ways living with my Mother wasn’t any better than living with the Nuns at
The Home, I wasn’t any happier and at least I’d been able to get away from them,
which I now realized had been the definite ‘upside’ of being kept outside so much!
Although it might sound strange coming from someone who had been in a Childrens Home,
I had been used to being able to isolate myself, and be alone when I really needed to
be alone. You can always be alone inside yourself, but sometimes you need to be
physically alone too, so whenever I’d felt that need I’d sneak away and hide among
all the bushes in the garden, and sit there quietly for a while until I felt peaceful
inside again. My Mother used to recall with a happy laugh that the Nuns had often
told her, very ominously, that I was ‘always playing in the bushes with the boys’,
but I wasn’t playing with the boys, I was hiding
from the boys [and everyone else!] There’s a big difference!
Most of the time I could only ‘escape’ for a few minutes
because the Nuns were surprisingly vigilant, but it was usually long enough to make
a difference: I felt safe there, by myself in the garden, I’d first met My Heavenly
Father outside, on my own.
Unfortunately, my new surroundings were completely different
and I still didn’t really understand what I had experienced that day beneath the Rainbow,
I didn’t know I could communicate with the God who had reached down to me that day and
immersed me in His Love. I didn’t know I could talk from inside myself, spiritually, from
my spirit to His, anywhere, anytime and that He would Hear me. All I knew at that time was
that I had found Peace there in the grounds of the Home,
found HIM, the source of my Peace
and Love there.
Now, I didn’t know where to find Him
, where to find Peace - there was no space,
no privacy, I wasn’t even allowed to be anywhere on my own – now there was only
stress, and a
Mothers love I had to earn, and keep on earning every day.
I hadn’t been used to getting any personal attention in the Childrens Home, we were
mostly dealt with in groups, but now I had to live with my Mother relentlessly scrutinizing
every aspect of my behaviour day after day, examining my face intently to make sure
it was reflecting all the emotions she felt it should be reflecting!
It was like living with the ‘Emotions Police’! Like the Nuns she too saw unhappiness as a blatant display
of ingratitude or even more intolerable in her eyes "moodiness"! I think she had decided
that if I had to be there then I was going to be there on her terms
and be the person she expected and required me to be - and she expected and required me
to be happy!
It never seemed to occur to her that someone actually had
to feel happy in order to reflect happiness, and to be frank I didn’t really have all that much
to be happy about! My World, my mind now centred and actually revolved
around just one person – my Mother!
At the Home I’d been
used to a large ‘support team’, we were all looked after by several different Nuns of varying ages and dispositions,
but here there was only one person upon whom I had to rely, one
ran the show, and called the shots, and that ONE person was incredibly controlling and manipulative!
I didn’t understand then just how wrong and unfair some of her demands were, I was much too young,
but I certainly found living with her
My Mother had very definite ideas about how I
could and could not behave, and made it very clear from the outset what my
priorities in Life should be, and apparently my main priority had to be HER!
She strongly believed that I should think she was wonderful
because she had ‘rescued me’ from the Home she had put me in, and having ‘rescued’ me felt
it only right and proper that my every thought and concern from that moment on should
revolve around her and her needs and well-being –
“it was the only way to adequately express my gratitude”!
She actually told me that herself! She said it jokingly, but I could see she
actually meant it, and after all, who says something like that
to a child! She honestly felt that if I loved her at all
that was the way I should behave – she had to be of paramount importance in my life!
Needless to say, I was somewhat confused…I had thought a Mother looked out for her childs’
well-being, not the other way around, but she was unusually childish herself in so many different ways!
I soon found out that if she played a board-game like Ludo, or a card game like Happy Families or Snap,
I could never take her piece or counter or ever top her card, she absolutely
had to win - apparently it was ‘mean’, ‘nasty’ and ‘selfish’ if I didn’t let her win,
and clear ‘proof’ that I didn’t love her! It was absurd!
She was what I would call an ‘Emotional Bully’, if I didn’t instantly go along with whatever she
wanted me to do, or wasn’t expressing whatever emotions she felt I should be expressing, there
would be immediate repercussions, at which time she would employ whatever tactics she felt necessary
to make me see and do things her way.
She routinely used the abundance of, or the
withdrawal of ‘Motherly Love’ as a weapon, a means of control and manipulation. There
was either ‘smother love’ or no love, depending on my actions and how she viewed them,
whether I had been suitably ‘pleasing’ or not, and of course, depending on whether there was anyone
there to see it or not, she always did love her ‘goodness’ to be seen, it was seldom in
She predictably, and perhaps even inevitably, became the Centre of my Universe,
just as she had taught me she should be - if she was angry with me about anything
at all it was like the Sun falling out of the Sky to me.
She would refuse to look at me, or speak to me, or have anything to do with me,
I was completely ostracised. When she did eventually decide to speak to me it would usually be several hours later,
which to a young child seemed like forever, and even then she would speak to me in a harsh,
ugly voice as if she were addressing a lowly serving-girl,
or shouting at a scavenging dog in the Street.
I would get terribly upset and be quite beside myself until I
found some way to get back in her ‘good books’ so she would love me again.
It was traumatising and degrading, and no way
to treat a young child, particularly not one who has already been through the
anguish of being left in a Childrens Home.
So many of her words and actions seem so very callous when I think about them now,
she was everything to me and she knew it, but used my love for her to control and manipulate
me, like a puppeteer tweaking the strings of a marionette – but I was her child – not
a puppet! She was incredibly dictatorial, she imprinted
her will, her personality on my heart - my own personality
was quashed, subjugated to hers, and I began to exist only as a reflection of her.
All she ever really taught me, and from a very early age, was
that her ‘Love’ was very definitely conditional and not freely given,
it was entirely dependent on good
behaviour and being ‘pleasing’, which in effect meant it was empty, transient and ultimately
meaningless. Despite feeling and knowing that, I still sought it, I was a child, I
needed love and any kind of love was better than no love,
or so I thought, but I had yet to learn that manipulation of this kind is
it stem from it, it is about
and someone else getting what
life. Anyone who can use love as a weapon does not know or feel
GENUINE love, such people actually love themselves
more than anyone else, which is why they always feel their needs are far more important.
People who feel real love are
of switching it on and off - I know,
I’m a Mother myself now!
In front of other people my Mother appeared to be
extraordinarily loving and devoted,
always behaving as though I was the absolute ‘apple of her eye’ - whenever anybody came
into the room, even just Eddie or Simon, she would immediately come over to wherever I
was and pay attention to me, and fuss over me, even though she may have been completely ignoring
me the whole time right up to that moment. I never understood it…she was always quite different
when no-one else was around, usually moody and sombre, but as I was to discover she was a woman
obsessed with herself and the ‘image’ she portrayed to the World, and that obsession was
behind everything she said and did.
Since living together ‘out of wedlock’ was rather frowned upon
in those days my Mother simply told everyone that she and Eddie were married, but in reality, he was
still legally married to his first wife, which all his neighbours probably knew anyway since they too
had both lived in the basement, and being staunch Catholics, they would definitely not
My Mother however, was a pretentious and stubborn woman -
she chose to see things the way she chose to see them -
had nothing to do with it! To her mind having a ‘husband’
necessitated spinning an elaborate web of lies for ‘proprieties sake’! She had come from a very respectable
and fairly wealthy family, and although she had long since alienated herself from all of them with what she
liked to see as her
life-style she still liked to don a cloak of ‘respectability’
when it suited her, and would often behave as though she came from practically ‘noble’ stock. The fact that
someone of such ‘superior’ breeding would probably not have ended up living in a London slum,
never seemed to cross her mind, she simply attributed any apparent ‘incongruities’ to her noble,
‘self-sacrificing’ nature and left it at that!
Being a lady of such good breeding, she naturally felt it necessary
to create an entirely new and far more ‘respectable’ background for me too, so quite
soon after my arrival she began to paint a different picture of my childhood for me
to believe - a picture she insisted I accept as being the actual truth.
I was simply ‘mistaken’ if I thought it had ever been any different!
It was a much nicer picture, the complete opposite of anything I had actually experienced, it was as
if she seriously thought she could just press some kind of ‘delete/rewind’ button and start again, as if the
past had never happened!
I think this is one of the most disturbing aspects of our childhood, the way she
manipulated both our young minds, making us participants in and believers of, her own
delusions and lies, but dictating how others can think or feel, and also deciding
how they can interpret either what is happening to them or
has happened to them, is nothing less than brain-washing, and blatant
mind control, both of which are more commonly used by unethical Governments and a variety of
rather unscrupulous Religious Cults! Unfortunately, I would become increasingly familiar with all these
aspects of her rather bizarre behaviour - they formed an essential part of her favourite and very
creative ‘abandonment of truth’ approach to life! To her mind Life was indeed ‘what you made it’,
and there was nothing wrong with her imagination!
According to her [and this is the story she chose to tell me,
and all her neighbours and friends to explain my sudden appearance in their midst] “I had spent a few wonderful
‘months’ living in a
Convent, and it had been a
time for me, but she just loved me
to be apart from me any longer, and simply
to bring me home!” To say I was perplexed by her version of the ‘truth’
would be an understatement, the beautiful place she described, full of warm, loving people who had
taken such wonderful care of me, didn’t reflect the horrible experience I’d been through at all!
I didn’t know what to think…remember, I was only four and a
half years old!
Simon of course, being the eldest, was required to remember whatever new ‘life history’ she created and adjust
his own accordingly, so his Childrens Home became a Boarding School and mine became an unusually accommodating
Convent! He had been coerced into supporting her in every single lie and illusion she had come up with for as
long as he could remember. She had always given him various ‘worthy’ reasons to justify her lies,
but there had already been so many of them by the time he was eight years old his life had become a mine-field
of deceit! By the age of eleven he could barely keep track of them all anymore,
and trying to remember who
believed what and WHY was becoming virtually impossible. He could
scarcely remember what was true himself anymore, there had been different ‘Daddies’ over the years, and
even different siblings…she never stopped!
I think she must have persuaded him they could both safely lie
to me about my time in the Childrens Home because being so young I wouldn’t remember anything about it, but
unfortunately for both of them I did! Once, and I believe it was the only time Simon ever referred
to one of his own experiences in a Home, I subsequently shared one of my memories with him…he stared
at me with a horrified expression on his face and said “You couldn’t possibly remember that, you were far too young!”
Then of course, he realized his response in itself was an acknowledgement that what I had recounted to him
had happened, so he promptly added “No, that didn’t happen, you must have dreamt it!”
He refused to accept, as did my Mother, that I actually did know and did
remember everything that had happened to me.
Whenever I mentioned anything about those days they would both try to talk me out of believing any of it had actually
happened, insisting it just wasn’t true, or I must have ‘imagined’ it. They both insisted I had spent a few
months living in a Convent and having a wonderful time when I had in fact spent three miserable years in a Childrens
Home! That experience was bad enough in itself, but to have your family tell you the whole thing
is a figment of your imagination
seriously messes with your mind! What kind of person plays with
the sanity of a child,
for the sake of ‘appearances’ and to put themselves in the best possible light, and
forces her other child to support her in all her lies?
Being so young and impressionable I eventually began to accept her story myself. I gave up trying to
balance what she said with what I remembered, and gradually bought into her lies, even knowing they
didn’t in any way reflect my reality. I was anxious to please her, I knew there were Nuns there and began to
accept that I must have been in a Convent just as ‘Mummy’ said. It’s true, there were Nuns there,
but they were running a Childrens Home! [I confirmed that fact many years later as an adult,
thanks to the Internet!]
At that age however, I was far too young to know about lies, ‘mind games’, or ‘illusions’,
I just knew I finally had a home and a ‘Mummy’ to please - one who became extremely impatient and angry if I
didn’t believe what she told me to believe! I had no idea how absurd and abnormal many of her demands were.
Children automatically believe their parents behaviour is ‘normal’ and that anything they tell them is true.
A few months later I started School and my Mother went back to work.
I absolutely doted on her by then because I had started to believe what she wanted me to believe,
seeing things her way, believing she was wonderful and perfect. As soon as I
learned to write I started leaving her little notes, in drawers and cupboards, just with the words ‘I Love You’ on
them. I was with her in the kitchen when she came across one of them one day and I stood there smiling, expecting her
to be pleased, but to my amazement she became extremely bad-tempered and annoyed about it, and curtly rebuked
me for my ‘foolish and nonsensical behaviour’!
Naturally, I found her reaction to what I had meant as
a lovely surprise
for her, very hurtful, and from that and other similar incidents I quickly learned that it was ‘safer’, and apparently
more ‘pleasing’, not to act on my own initiative but rather to wait and be told what she
preferred me to do, how she preferred me to act. I became reactive rather than
proactive, because whatever stemmed from myself, my own thoughts and actions almost
invariably turned out to be wrong. Slowly but surely,
I was learning who I had to be if I wanted her to love me
- in todays computerized World one might
describe it as becoming little more than her own, immensely programmable little robot -
when required and
Poor cramped living conditions
Eddie and I got on really well for the first few months, I can remember being quite fascinated by his hairy chest
and asking him why he was so ‘furry’! My Mother insisted I call him ‘Daddy’, and he and I shared a few humorous
moments, one being when he decided to teach me how to play Chess – not his wisest decision ever! Still being very
young at the time I couldn’t grasp any of the rules, and insisted that my ‘horsey’ [the knight] could move in any
direction I wanted him to, the idea was not well-received and Eddie soon abandoned this rather fruitless
task! I can also recall giggling heartily one day when he told me very proudly that throughout his time at
the Polish Military Academy he had always been ‘toppest’ of his Class in English!
Sadly, those happy times were
all too short-lived, and as the months passed the arguments between Eddie and Simon, and inevitably of course my
Mother, grew more frequent and far more serious. Simon had already had too many ‘Dads’ and was not about to
accept another one, and Eddie was not the kind of man you bad-mouthed and got away with it!
He had a strong character, he was tough, ex-army, and like most beleaguered Eastern Europeans of his
generation he was of the opinion that if you had some kind of roof over your head, food in your stomach, and
no-one was trying to kill you, then you really had nothing to complain about!
The basement was probably his idea of
He had come from a very poor farming family, and often
told us that as children, he and his siblings would have to stand around the table at meal-times until the adults
had eaten their fill, then they were allowed to eat whatever was left. It had
to be that way because the adults
had to have the physical strength to do all the hard, manual labour on the farm otherwise they would all
have starved – that had been his childhood! He showed me a
picture of his Father once, a huge, granite-faced man with cold, dead eyes.
He was terrifying!
Eddie was now in his early forties and still very much a man’s man. He had been a Captain in the Polish Army,
and had fought with the Allies against the Germans in the ferocious Battle of Monte Casino, where he had been
severely wounded charging and blowing-up a particularly well-sited machine-gun post, responsible for hundreds
of casualties. His injuries had resulted in the amputation of one his legs and he had suffered from Phantom pain
He’d been awarded Polands’ highest Military Honour, the Virtuti Militari for Outstanding Bravery,
but the loss of his leg had been a devastating blow from which he’d never really fully recovered, not only
because of his persistent phantom pain but also because he had been prevented from pursing his Career in the
Army - it had been his life not just his career, and serving his Country had meant
everything to him.
Although I had been used to fights and disputes
breaking out between children at the Home, grown-ups like
Mum and Eddie, and even an older child like Simon, yelling and screaming at each other the way they all did
was something very new to me. It was much more frightening
and very much more disturbing.
I couldn’t get
away from it either, as I had been able to at the Childrens Home, there I had always known when to
walk away, usually moments before a fight broke out, but now I was trapped in the middle of all that anger
with nowhere else to go, and it terrified me.
I think it was the barely contained
that erupted from both Eddie and Simon that I found so alarming,
Eddie would just get so incensed, and Simon would keep talking back and provoking him, refusing
to back down. They often ended with my Mother pushing her way between the two of them, usually taking Simons’
side which of course enraged Eddie even more. He saw that as flagrantly undermining his authority, and
the air would positively
with tension until he eventually calmed down again…
until the next time.
It wasn’t a pleasant way to live, and I soon went back to burying my head under my pillows at night, fighting
back my tears, trying in vain to block out the awful sound of Eddie and my Mother screaming at each other in
the next room.
Naturally I blamed Eddie for everything and staunchly supported my Mother,
convinced nothing could ever be her fault and Eddie was just being mean to her.
I suppose it wasn’t really surprising Eddie and Simon didn’t get on -
there was at least a thirty-year age
gap between them, in addition to which they were two very different people from two entirely
different Worlds! The moment Eddie had looked into Simons eyes he’d realized he’d just made the biggest
mistake of his life allowing his beguiling lover to talk him into bringing her son to live with them.
As an ex-Army Officer Eddie had been able to ‘read’ men and he had instantly seen
something my Mother had neither
at all – consciously or otherwise, Simon was out for revenge.
The eyes staring back at him had not
been the eyes of a hurt, vulnerable ‘little boy’ desperately needing
a home and ‘a Father’, the child she had
described to him, the ‘child’ he had been expecting…no,
he’d found himself gazing into the shrewd,
challenging eyes of an assertive, surprisingly confident
young man, every bit as strong-willed as his Mother, in fact,
one seemed to gain strength from the other merely by being in the same room together!
Eddie had known right then that his home had just become a battlefield, but
unfortunately the scene was set for a fight even a seasoned soldier like Eddie had
no idea how to win! Nothing in his military life had prepared
him for anything like this!
What my Mother had completely failed to grasp in this decidedly
fraught scenario she had so recklessly pieced together, was the extent of the very
real emotional and physical
that had been done to Simon, not only
by her before she had put him into the Home, but also in the Home itself. She always refused
to think about anything ‘unpleasant’, particularly if it might reflect badly upon
her, so as far as she was concerned nothing untoward had
happened… everything was fine…case closed, but far too much HAD happened and Simon was no longer the sweet,
malleable little boy she had deposited in the Home that day - by that time he
had developed quite a few emotional problems of his own.
Even before he had been sent away to Brighton Simons’
home life had always been turbulent,
nothing had ever been stable, or secure. He had seen too many people come and go, called too many men
‘Daddy’ or 'Uncle’.
Some he had been pleased to see leave, but others not.
He had watched siblings he’d loved and cared about being
taken away and put into Homes, and then, one day, the unthinkable had happened to him too,
despite all his Mothers promises to the contrary.
He had always been the ‘favoured’ child, the one with the ‘special’
place in her heart, it must have come as the most appalling shock to him
when he too found himself abandoned in a Home just like all the others.
He had believed her, loved her, trusted her,
and although everything
around him had always changed she had always been there, loving him, reassuring him,
but then she had betrayed him, and by doing so had thrust a knife
deep into his young, vulnerable heart.
At eight years old he had been a
handsome, gentle, good-mannered, well-spoken young boy, an easy target for the older, rougher children at his
He had been bullied, assaulted, and traumatised,
his heart and soul profoundly hurt and forever changed by far too many harmful experiences for any
young person to survive and still be emotionally 'whole’.
He had become a troubled and difficult youngster, hiding behind a façade of toughness and confidence
yet with a turbulent heart full of repressed anger and pain.
He was a little over eleven years old by then and
far more harm had been done to him than could ever be cured by a few hugs and kisses, or a shiny new bike. He
was slowly turning into a young man, but that young man was in pain, and Eddie was right, he had an
axe to grind, whether he knew it consciously or not!
As if to perversely exacerbate an already
extremely tense and difficult situation Eddies’ Doctor chose that particular moment to change his medication,
and put him on a new, more powerful pain-killer which he believed would more effectively suppress Eddies’
agonising and increasingly debilitating phantom pain. Unfortunately, despite the manufacturers assurances that
their new drug was completely safe and non-addictive, Eddie did become addicted to it, and from
that moment on both his mental and physical health began a rapid, downward spiral that
nothing would curtail.
Thick black bars on dirty,
That never saw the Sun.
Each mottled fleck of paint
A tangible reminder of other lives,
Spent possibly equally hopelessly,
Behind the damp and dismal walls.
The all-pervasive smell of mould,
Sometimes black-speckled, sometimes green,
But always smelly and destructive,
Invading every corner, destroying,
It seemed sometimes maliciously,
Any little thing that was treasured,
That someone wanted to keep,
Any meagre, hard-won possession
That would probably never be replaced,
Devouring, with equal appetite,
The weary occupants’ mental health
As well as their physical strength,
Eroding, along with vigour…hope.
The Basement, a place to look back upon
And shudder. A place from which Escape
Was eventually achieved,
And yet, strangely…in some ways
A place of memories contrary
To its entrenched heartache and pain,
Of a kind of happiness hard to define,
Because, despite the complexity of problems
Concealed behind its walls,
It was, nevertheless, still a home…of a sort,
A first taste of family life…of a sort;
So the heaviness of its more morbid memories
Can never completely bury other recollections
Of times, however fleeting, that were sweet,
That did sustain and nurture.
Brief shafts of light when love
And laughter did filter through.
Moments still remembered, despite the rest.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Eddie was an intelligent, perceptive man, with a definite
‘presence’- he had piercing light blue eyes that would positively
blaze with fury
if someone, or something, annoyed him.
I found his temper absolutely terrifying, so whatever early ‘rapport’ he and I had established
during my first few months there rapidly vanished as the home inevitably split into two opposing
‘camps’ - Eddies’ or Mums’. Eddie of course, found himself ostracised and treated as ‘the enemy’
in his own home, and he was definitely not amused!
When he came in after work he didn’t need to open his mouth or say a single word - the air
quivered and vibrated with tension -
it was like living on the
edge of a volcano that was already spewing ashes and hot embers everywhere, just moments
before the final spectacular
He was livid with my
Mother by this time, and justifiably so in all honesty - in the space of a few months she had succeeded
in turning his whole world upside down and his formerly happy home life had been
I think what enraged him most was the fact that my Mother not only prevented
him from setting rules and boundaries that Simon had to respect and live by, but
that she also flatly refused to exercise any sort of control over him herself. Eddie loved my Mother very
deeply, that much was obvious,
but he and Simon just did not get on -
the simmering tensions worsened daily simply because the
underlying issues were never resolved. Simon went on
doing and saying whatever he liked, and Eddie just got angrier by the day.
He had often told us that when he was a boy, all
the adults in the home had not only been respected but feared,
and just one look or gesture that could have been considered rude or arrogant
would have earned the culprit a beating he wouldn’t soon forget, so it’s not hard to imagine how he must
have felt when he found himself being ‘looked down’ on by Simon in his own home, and
spoken back to, and not being ‘allowed’ to do anything about it because of my Mothers
interference and loving ‘forbearance’ about every aspect of Simons' increasingly problematic behaviour.
Eddie was clearly incensed, not only by Simons’ extremely disrespectful attitude towards him,
but also by what he saw as a lack of gratitude, or any appreciation of the fact that
he’d given him a home –
it had been a BIG sacrifice on his part – something he hadn’t wanted to do
He obviously felt used and betrayed, and he was starting to get
angrier and angrier. I think he found it especially galling that his life had been
turned upside because of his lovers’
he had never wanted children, not even children of his
Extreme poverty and fighting over even the tiniest scrap of food hadn’t made him or
any of his siblings close, in fact he’d loathed most of them, he’d told me so himself!
I think he’d only given in to my Mother
because she had pleaded with him, and promised him nothing would change if he’d let her bring Simon to
live with them, but instead he’d found that she’d changed into a completely different person the moment
she’d brought him into his home!
Eddie had been
totally unprepared for that,
and just couldn’t understand how his passionate Lover
had turned into this fiercely protective
right in front of him,
and no matter what she might have told him when they were alone in the bedroom, he knew deep down
inside that her son came FIRST now! His home-life was in an uproar, and now he had
not just one, but TWO of her children living with him!
“NOTHING would change” she’d said
…EVERYTHING had changed!
Feeling shut-off and alone, separated from God.
At the Childrens Home I had learned to live inside myself, detached from everyone
else, but now I lived in a tiny place that was a perpetual War-Zone and I couldn’t
seem to maintain that same degree of internal separation or ‘detachment’ from my surroundings
that had shielded me before. The furore kept breaking through and frightening me.
realize what was happening to me…that in some ways, just like Eddie, I too was steadily losing
ground, physically, emotionally and spiritually, but of course I had no real understanding
of spiritual matters at that time, I was still far too young. All I knew then was that I couldn’t
find ‘Peace’ in the Basement – there was nowhere I could sit quietly in the Presence of God, My Heavenly
Father, from whom my Peace had come.
My experiences of His Presence in the grounds of the Home, and the
wonderful memories of the day I’d first met Him while gazing up at His Beautiful Rainbow were steadily
fading from my mind, squeezed out by constant stress and anxiety and the ugliness of my life and
surroundings, taking with them the only inner peace and Loving Acceptance I’d ever been able to find.
Going up to Eddies’ tiny garden had never helped, it was too small and ugly, and not the least
bit private, neighbouring windows overlooked it on every side and I felt like ‘an exhibit’ in a Zoo any
time I went up there! I’d soon given that up, but I was becoming increasingly stressed and unhappy,
every day seemed to be a struggle, every day all the
emotions I felt inside became a greater and more tortuous contrast to the
‘happy’ face I was ‘required’ to wear on the outside, to please my Mother.
Like so many young children in conflict-ridden homes I had also taken it upon myself to try to make
happy and cheerful,
to try to lift the moody tension that hung so heavily and
oppressively in the air, all whilst slowly drowning in a sea of fears and insecurities of my own. I worried
ceaselessly about the frightening and precarious fact that I now had only one person to rely
on, and that was a Mother who had already abandoned me once before! I was terrified
she would ‘vanish’ from my life again -
that she might be killed in an accident or just not come home one day and then I would be
left alone with Eddie and Simon.
I had no idea what might happen to me, or where they might
send me. Even at that age I knew things could always get worse!
Another constant and very unpleasant problem I had then was that anyone with a
foreign-sounding name in those post-war years automatically became a target for School bullies and
since I had an unpronounceable Polish surname I ‘qualified’, despite the fact that Polish Soldiers
had fought gallantly side by side with the Allies in the War! I had also picked up my Mothers ‘plummy’
English accent so that didn’t help too much either, particularly not where
we lived and I had to go to School! Inevitably, much like poor Simon
years before, I too proved to be an easy target, so in order to get through each day and remain relatively
‘intact’ I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible and fade unobtrusively into the background wherever I was.
Whether at home or at School, life seemed a whole lot easier and a great deal ‘safer’ if nobody really knew
I was there.
That’s how I unwittingly began living in the background of my own life - a further
extension of being ‘on the outside looking in’ - the emotional detachment from my surroundings
that I’d acquired at the Childrens Home. It had become a mindset, the
way I lived, an automatic response to whatever happened in my life,
I remained detached from it, not really ‘involved’ in any real
sense of the word, physically or emotionally. I became a bystander in my own life.
One day, a few months after I’d started School, I arrived
home in the late afternoon only to find
the place eerily quiet and empty. Feeling a little nervous I wandered into Mum and Eddies’ room to
watch for someone coming home down the front-steps. I didn’t really know if I was relieved or sorry
that no-one else was in, but I was scared of being down in the Basement by myself because it was such
a bad area. I picked up an alabaster model of a Big Cat, a Jaguar, that Eddie had on his side-board
and hugged it close to me, and suddenly, unexpectedly, an enormous
wave of sadness
completely engulfed me,
flooding my heart and swamping every part of my body.
I couldn’t pretend anymore, not even to myself, the
façade I lived behind collapsed and crumbled, and I was
‘ME’…. lonely and afraid.
Tears streamed unchecked down my cheeks as I wandered around the room
still clutching the Jaguar tightly in my arms as if it were a comforting teddy-bear. My voice wavered and
shook as I softly tried to sing a verse from one of my Mothers’ favourite Nat King Cole songs, I suppose
trying in some way to reassure myself, the song was
“Smile though your heart is aching, smile even
though it’s breaking, you’ll see the Sun come shining through, if you just smile”.
I can remember how my little heart ached even now.
If only I had known my Precious Saviour
known how to
talk to God,
but My Heavenly Father
was there with me, I was just too young to understand, still too ‘locked-up’ within myself.
There was no-one there to tell me, no-one there to show me the way,
but I can tell
I can show
The following piece is a song I received in my spirit much later on in my life, when
I finally had found God again and was able to speak to Him and hear from Him, but we have
to open ourselves up on the inside, in our spirits to be able to do both these things,
we have to acknowledge He exists, and open up the lines of communication
ourselves. Doubt and unbelief are serious impediments to hearing from God,
we have to lay these things aside and be prepared to spend time sitting in His Presence
persevere in this, believing and speaking to Him
in your spirit
A Song From The Heart Of God...For troubled children everywhere
My child, my child won’t you hear Me and let Me talk to you?
My child my child won’t you listen, and let Me guide you through?
For I know the way your feet must tread and the way your path must end,
My child, my child won’t you hear Me and let this turmoil end?
My child, my child I do love you though oft it seems you fear.
My child, my child I won’t leave you but draw you ever near,
For you are precious within My Sight and I will keep you safe,
My child, my child won’t you listen and stay in My Embrace?
My child, my child I have heard you each time you’ve called to Me.
My child, my child I entreat you, Oh, won’t you try to see?
See the path that lies waiting for you, it needs only courage and faith,
My child, my child it’s My Spirit that will help you win The Race.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Christian Poetry. Starting to know God
I had never felt able to tell anyone about my ‘Rainbow’ experience with God in the grounds
of the Childrens Home, or about any of the other times I had experienced His Wonderful Presence,
how could I possibly explain something so strange and wonderful to someone else when I didn’t even
fully understand it myself? No-one seemed to know anything about the God I had met anyway,
the God my teachers talked about in School sounded cold and distant,
not at all like mine who was so REAL, so warm and loving,
so I kept mine hidden away in my heart… my own little secret. Simon bought me an illustrated book of Bible
Stories for one of my birthdays, I think my 7th, and I read that quite frequently, but no-one at home ever
really spoke about God.
My Mother was a very strong-willed and Worldly woman, I don’t think she ever
seriously sought a closer walk with God, or even a ‘walk’ of any kind really. She believed He existed,
somewhere, and was quite happy to leave it at that. She would occasionally ‘flirt’ with Religion,
pop into a Church [exiting rapidly if a Minister came near!], have a few sessions with Jehovah’s Witnesses,
or chat with a couple of Mormon Missionaries at the front door, but I think, deep in her heart, she knew the
way she wanted to live her life would always be a barrier between her and God. She was headstrong, and always
had to be in control, free to indulge her desires and do whatever she wanted to do.
There was no way she would hand the reins of her life over to a Higher Power.
She liked the symbolism within the Catholic and
Anglican Churches though, and had put a couple of statuettes, one of Christ and one of the Virgin Mary along
with another little religious artefact [all of which belonged to Eddie I think] on top of a narrow,
wooden-framed tapestry fire-screen which she called her ‘little altar’, but I think that’s about as religious
as she ever really got – symbolism, she didn’t let anything truly spiritual touch her heart in any meaningful
way as far as I know. Simon and I were both sent to Sunday School for a few weeks one year, but I don’t really
know why, since no-one in the family ever went to Church, and I was quite astonished when our
sweet little old Sunday School teacher chose to give me her Bible when she retired:
but she was a very
special lady, I’m sure she knew I would meet up with my God again one day, for she undoubtedly had Him
in her own heart.
The following piece is a song I wrote for my Heavenly Father.
Battles rage, impotence, extra marital affairs, suicide attempt.
See My Heart
See my heart Oh Lord as it lies before You.
Treat it gently Lord as I know You will,
For Your Cleansing Blood has washed o’er my soul,
Take my heart Oh Lord and make it pure.
You’re beside me Lord as I tread my weary road,
Your Light will shine upon my pot-holed path,
For Your Love is Perfect guiding me to You,
Take my heart Oh Lord and draw it close to thee.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
I think ‘needling’ Eddie had started off as a game for Simon at first, it had amused him to see how
easy it was to cause trouble between Eddie and his Mother…but then I think his ‘game’ slowly turned
into something else, something he hadn’t envisaged, and he actually began to
hate Eddie. I think, in his mind, Eddie came to symbolize all the men
his Mother had lived with, and had affairs with all through his early childhood years, and it unleashed
a frustration and rage in him that had been ‘locked-up’ and suppressed for FAR too long.
He began to let it out, bit by bit, release the anguish of years
of heartache and hidden tears, years of pain from the still suppurating wound of
betrayal she had inflicted upon his young, tender
heart that had never healed.
He started to vent every emotion he’d ever had to suppress, not fairly,
as he undoubtedly knew, but I think a part of him simply didn’t care anymore, he just needed to let it out!
To Simon, Eddie was just another guy his Mother had shacked up with, and he saw no reason
at all why he should try to get along with him just to make life easier for
her. I believe a need for JUSTICE and some kind of RETRIBUTION
burned inside him SOMEONE had to pay, and he didn’t particularly care who.
He wanted Eddie to pay for every man who had ever hurt him,
his Mother to pay for the endless hurt and lies
she’d been responsible for throughout his young life, and also
the deception she continued to force him to be a part of
every day of his life. There was no end to it…no escape…her life was an ‘illusion’,
it was whatever she created in her mind that she
expected OTHERS to be a part of, to live out.
Simons ‘acting out’ didn’t mean he didn’t love his
Mother, because he did, every bit as much as I did, but he wanted
some of the pain she’d caused him. He knew she had
those years we’d spent apart, whereas we’d both been
profoundly damaged by them.
As time went on I noticed that Simon stayed out for much longer periods during the day, he was very
intelligent and doing exceptionally well at the excellent Grammar School he attended. It was further
away from home than my School was, and he was involved in other activities there too, so I spent a lot
more time alone, but at least it was quiet… until everyone came home, then inevitably tensions would
rise. When Eddie came in he mostly stayed in his room, but whenever he walked through our room to get to the
kitchen or the toilet Simon always had to say something
to set him off!
My Mother was usually the last one to arrive home, so she and Simon would chat while she prepared dinner in the kitchen,
then she would take food through to Eddie and spend the rest of the evening with him unless something untoward
occurred. Simon and I generally got on very well, apart from the occasional brother/sister type squabbles, but
we didn’t really spend much time together, he had his own interests and was of course several years older
than me. Most days he would do his homework either at the table or at a friends’ house and I would be sitting
by myself reading, but there was always an uneasy tension in the air even if no-one was actually fighting…
it was like living under a very fragile ‘armed truce’ that no-one actually
Gradually the persistent rows between Eddie and my Mother seemed to be less about Simon
and more about other things I didn’t understand. My Mother had found a new job and was often home later
than usual, which seemed to infuriate Eddie for some reason. Often their arguments reverberated right through
our thick bedroom-wall and they would end with my Mother creeping through our room in the dead of night
carrying a pillow, and she would spend the night sleeping in the old arm-chair in the Kitchen.
Her unhappiness was tangible.
I remember one evening when I was sitting alone reading
my Mother came through from Eddies room, sat down
next to me on the bed, and asked me how I felt about having
a little baby brother!
I was so taken aback I was
The thought of another person being squeezed into
our already miserable lives
We lived on top of each other as it was -
there were FOUR of us in only TWO rooms, and we still didn’t have a bathroom or hot water!
I tried desperately hard to think of something I could ‘safely’ say, I was required
to be ‘happy’ and ‘pleasing’ after all, but even I knew the last thing
we needed was another mouth to feed, another person to clothe, or another bed to buy
and try to fit in somewhere!
This was no place for a baby!
What sort of
would it have? What sort of life would
of us have,
it was dreadful enough as it was!
All I eventually managed was what I hoped was a noncommittal and ‘neutral’ shrug of the shoulders,
while I struggled to maintain a calm
exterior and completely mask the fear and alarm I felt inside!
This was obviously NOT the response she was
looking for however, I think she was hoping to be able to tell Eddie I was ‘over-joyed’ at the idea, and that
another sibling was something I really wanted! I held my breath and waited for the storm to break,
and of course my silence and distinct lack of enthusiasm greatly angered her, she leapt to her feet and stormed
off, muttering what I took to be some rather unflattering comments under her breath.
I don’t know what happened after that, but no babies came into the home.
Once I had grown up and discovered what ‘impotent’ meant I
suddenly understood what Eddies’ angry accusations had really been about when she was late home!
For some reason known only to her, she had told me once that
the new drug Eddie had been given had made him impotent, but I had been much too young at the time
to understand her rather awkward explanation of what that actually meant… there was no
Sex Education in Schools in those days! The full impact of
what it actually meant in terms of all the other problems in their relationship, including
‘surprise pregnancies’ only hit me
later on in life!
Late one night, probably about eighteen months later,
I woke up suddenly, feeling alarmed but not
knowing why, then softly out of the darkness I heard my Mother moaning,
“Simon, Simon, Simon”,
her voice sounded strange and eerie.
I was frightened, and listened
for a moment wondering what I should do,
then I nudged Simon, who was sleeping peacefully next to me and whispered “Simon, Simon! Mum’s calling you!”
After listening to the soft moans himself for a moment or two, and following
a great deal of pleading from me, [I think he was every bit as scared as I was!]
he reluctantly climbed out of bed and crept hesitantly towards the kitchen.
He gingerly opened the door and immediately saw the room was full of gas!
I heard him coughing and spluttering, and shouting “Mum! Mum!” then he came running out, grabbed his coat
and rushed up to the Telephone-box on the corner of our Street to call for an Ambulance.
He had been so anxious to get help as quickly as possible that he hadn’t even stopped to
tell Eddie, so of course Eddie had been jolted awake by the noise of the Ambulancemen
thundering along the passage a few minutes later. They were actually lifting my Mothers’
unconscious body onto the Stretcher when he came hopping through to
our bedroom on one leg to see what was going on. He was absolutely FURIOUS
that Simon hadn’t woken him up immediately, and the two
of them nearly came to blows right there over her inert body, but
fortunately one of the Ambulancemen quickly and very irately
intervened, and the moment passed.
We told them the flame on the Stove must have blown out while she was sleeping in there because she often
left it on a low setting just to keep the chill off the room, but they were openly dubious about our
explanation, and insisted the gas couldn’t possibly have filled the room to that extent if only
one switch had been left on ‘low’. Simon is the only one, apart from my Mother, who knows what
really happened because he was the one who turned the switch [or switches] off that night,
but I seem to remember him turning off more than one switch.
All I know for sure is that if I hadn’t
woken up when I did my Mother would have DIED.
When I went along with Eddie and Simon to visit her in
Hospital the next day I was shocked by her awful and completely unexpected
hostility towards me, she wouldn’t even look at me or acknowledge
I was there! She was still angry and withdrawn when she came home from Hospital
a few days later, and continued to shun me as though I had done something terribly wrong.
Those were horrible days,
we all crept around on tip-toes, and there was absolutely
nothing I could do except wait for her to decide to speak to me again. No-one would even
TALK about it, Eddie and Simon remained completely tight-lipped on the subject and each of us dealt with it
alone, each of us buried it away somewhere inside, and behaved on
the outside as if nothing had happened.
When I think about it now, as an older and wiser
adult with a much deeper knowledge and understanding
of the different aspects of her nature and personality, I’m inclined to think the Ambulancemen were
and that she
do it deliberately. I now know from experience that it’s certainly
the sort of thing she would have done in one of her
passionate, spiteful rages, gleefully imagining the shock and
trauma it would cause us all, I know she would have liked the thought of hurting us, even
from beyond the Grave.
I found she could be extraordinarily malicious when she was angry.
It could quite possibly have been nothing more than a basic instinct
to survive that made her cry out for Simon as she
gradually lapsed into unconsciousness, or she could have had second thoughts once she’d calmed down a bit but
found she’d left it too late and all she could do was call for help, either way I think she was
particularly furious with me because I’d been responsible for the failure of her scheme,
whatever it was!
She couldn’t have been more disgusted than she quite
clearly was when Simon told her I had been the one to wake up and
hear her calling for him, and that he hadn’t heard her at all!
It couldn’t have been more obvious that she would greatly have preferred
Simon to be the one to wake up and dramatically ‘save her’ rather than have me play any
sort of part in it too. I started having terrifying nightmares after that happened,
always waking up at the precise moment either a huge black Fighting-Bull, a gigantic Brown Bear,
or an enormous enraged Gorilla ripped out the last remaining plank of wood protecting
me in the devastated ruins of my hiding-place, and launched itself at me to finish me off.
I think it was after that incident that
my Mother started sending me away for ‘little holidays’ periodically.
She would suddenly announce, right out of the blue, that I was ‘going away for a few days’.
It actually came as a nasty shock -
rather like having a bucket of cold water suddenly thrown over me!
There was never any discussion. I never had any say in the matter…I was
just going! I don’t know if there was something going on behind the scenes that she
didn’t want me to see, or whether she just wanted to get rid of me for a while, there was
never any explanation, but it’s hard to imagine what could have been happening
that was so much worse than anything else I usually saw and heard!
I certainly never felt it to be the ‘marvellous treat’
she sometimes tried to pretend it was…being sent away by myself
to spend a few days with total strangers, most of whom clearly
didn’t want me there, never seemed like much of a ‘fun’ experience to me, it was a little
too reminiscent of being left at the Childrens Home. I just felt rejected, as if I’d been
‘fobbed-off’ on someone else for a while - but that was typical of my Mother, she decided and
that was IT, end of story!
There was something else that occurred around about that time,
the significance of which didn’t strike me until
many years later! Much to my embarrassment I have to admit that it never even occurred to me while I
was growing up that my Mother would ever lie to me or deceive me, probably because she was always so
insistent that Simon and I were always completely truthful with her! I had of course, yet to learn that the
sin people constantly suspect and accuse others of is usually the one they themselves are guilty of
Anyway, on that particular morning my Mother and I were alone in the Basement and she began reminiscing
fondly about Simon as a little boy, telling me what a very devoted brother he had always been to me, unselfishly
sharing all his toys with me even when I was an extremely naughty and destructive two-year old. Puzzled,
I’d replied “He couldn’t have, I was in the Home then” at which she had immediately become very flustered,
said she “must have been thinking of someone else” and stormed off in a temper!
The little girl she was remembering
at that moment must have been the same little girl I found out about much later on in life when contact with
other members of her family revealed that she had proudly shown them a tiny new-born baby daughter, two years
before I was born!
To this day I still have no idea what happened to that little girl, although I do have my
My Mother, rather unusually for her, kept in sporadic contact with a woman she described as her oldest
and closest friend who just ‘happened’ to have a daughter about two years older than me, and a little boy who
was about three years younger than me, but what struck me as odd was how very ‘strained’ and
frosty the atmosphere always was whenever the two of them got together!
It seemed peculiar since they
were supposed to be such close friends! With what I’ve found out about my Mother over the years I now
suspect that one, or possibly even both of those children were actually hers, and that her
friend [who I think was a nurse] had legally or otherwise, ‘adopted’ them, probably because she couldn’t have
children of her own. My Mother however, had no problems in that area!
She always said a man only had to
at her and she’d fall pregnant, and I know from what she told me
that many men did a great deal more than
I first met her ‘friend’ when my Mother took me along to her house
shortly after she’d picked me up from the
Childrens Home, and I vividly remember her giving me a long, hard look and turning to my Mother with a broad grin
on her face and saying “Does ***** know about her?” My Mother was furious and insisted “She’s not
his child, she’s *****’s child!” at which her friend had laughed out loud and said “Yeah! Right!”
and my Mother had promptly told me to go outside and play!
I also remember that when her daughter saw me coming she
turned to her friend and said “Don’t talk to her, she’s from the Home” and walked off! It was a tense and
uncomfortable visit to say the least, which is probably why I remember it so well, but I also remember that her
little boy looked like a miniature version of Simon, and we both took to each other immediately!
If my suspicions are correct I’m pretty sure that
neither of the children know anything about their true parentage, and for reasons I will reveal
later on in this piece I believe that was something my Mother held over her friends’
head as ‘a weapon’. My Mother was actually a walking mass of contradictions:
for the most part she was quite ‘prim and proper’, but she would occasionally come out
with an extremely inappropriate and startlingly revealing comment that was indicative of a rather
woman beneath the surface! Maybe that’s the reason she talked to me
less and less as I grew older - I remembered
too much, and was starting to notice certain ‘incongruities’ and ‘discrepancies’!
It was becoming increasingly obvious that Eddies’ health was rapidly deteriorating,
and he started taking more and more time off work. His pain-killing injections no longer seemed
to help him as much as they once had and the stress of trying to cope with constant pain and
still do his job was proving too much for him. His face was drawn and pale, he’d lost weight, and he was
always tired and irritable. My Mother was worried about him, and secretly went to see his Doctor
because she was convinced that most of Eddies’ health problems stemmed from his addiction to his medication.
It certainly didn’t help him anymore, but his whole body craved for more and more of it every day.
Much to her annoyance Eddies’ Doctor had just laughed at her, and told her very
disparagingly that she didn’t know what she was talking about, and should leave such matters
in the capable hands of Medical Professionals… but she was eventually proved to be right, and his Doctor
very wrong! After several months of persistent
absenteeism, and seeing no prospects of any improvement on the horizon, Eddies’ employers reluctantly decided
to let him go. He had worked for them for a number of years, they were fond of him and had always been very
impressed with his work, but being only a small Company they just couldn’t afford to carry him any longer.
The loss of his job, and of course the friends he
had made there, was a bitter blow to Eddie, times were hard and he knew that with his poor health
he was extremely unlikely to get anything else. My Mother inevitably
became the bread-winner of the family, and knowing her earnings weren’t nearly enough to pay all the bills,
she decided to look for a better job commanding a higher salary. She tried a couple of different jobs but
finally landed a position as a Personal Assistant to the Director of a small Company that imported luxury
fabrics, their main clients being Interior Designers and exclusive, upmarket Retailers. Their offices were
situated on the second-floor of a small, fashionable Arcade in the West End of London.
At first Simon and I felt a lot more secure with Mum ‘in charge’,
before that almost every argument she and Eddie had [and they had a lot!] ended
with Eddie threatening to put us all out on the Street, so we thought at least that
was less likely to happen given the change in our circumstances…but Eddie was a proud man,
and this reversal of fortune affected him badly. His relationship with my Mother
visibly deteriorated every day, and it certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that Simon,
now in his teens, was apparently looking and behaving more like his biological Father every day!
There were times when Eddie, just as I did, very definitely noticed the way my Mother looked at
Simon and could SEE her remembering his Father, and yearning for him!
There was no mistaking that wistful, faraway look in her eyes -
she wasn’t exactly subtle about it - there were times she positively revelled
in wearing her heart on her sleeve! Sometimes living with her was rather like living with some dreadful,
‘over-the-top’ film actress starring in a really BAD old Hollywood Movie! She had always
been very flamboyant, and loved to publicly display her ‘Passionate’ and
‘Romantic’ nature for all to see. Ever since her teens she had been ruled and driven by PASSION
and ROMANCE - nothing else existed for her, nothing else MATTERED to her!
At the age of seventeen she had become completely infatuated
with a man more than twice her age, and in defiance of her entire families’ furious objections she had
left home and moved in with him. In those days such behaviour was considered absolutely scandalous, and
she’d ‘shamed’ her family still further by giving birth to his illegitimate child [Simon] just a few months
later! She was undoubtedly the quintessential narcissist – in her mind there WAS no-one else quite
LIKE her! No-one else could reach her ‘elevated’ standards, or touch her extremes of
‘Love’ and ‘Passion’, everyone else was feeble and lukewarm by comparison!
She showed nothing but contempt for anyone she considered
‘tepid’, ‘dull’ or less ‘passionate’ than herself,
she considered such people to be far beneath her! She had always blamed her Mother for her
Fathers’ infidelity, having decided that it could only have been a lack of passion on her
Mothers’ part that had driven him into the arms of another woman, ultimately compelling him to abandon
his children! As she had been the youngest of several children I don’t think her
Mother could have been too lacking in passion!
It must have been tremendously hurtful for Eddie, who was battling on
so many fronts and trying to cope with so much, to see that instead of becoming less
demonstrative and learning to suppress her highly emotional feelings for her son, as
all Mothers must sooner or later do to enable them to
mature and become grown men in their own right, my Mother was actually becoming even more obsessive
and more possessive about Simon. Unfortunately, she was no more willing to relinquish her hold on
him than she had been to let go of his Father so many years before. Her demanding and controlling nature
must have been a problem then too, and it was certainly quite obvious that her love for Simon was
completely entwined with her love for his Father. It was then I think, that Eddie too began to see
this man, Simons Father, in Simons’ eyes just as he knew she did, and to him
it was like having the man himself living there in his home – not his son!
Once Eddie realized the depths of the love she still had
for Simons’ Father, even so many years later,
he understood exactly why she was so obsessed with Simon… he was her one link to him!
That must have been a devastating enough revelation in itself for Eddie to cope with, but
then she had betrayed him! She had turned away from him, and slept with other men,
but he still loved her, and I
believe he just couldn’t make himself put her [and us] out on the street as everything in his background
had undoubtedly told him he should do. He couldn’t turn his back on her and walk away, as so many others
had in the past… he wasn’t that kind of man.
I think Eddie knew that deep down in her heart my Mother was still
that 17-year-old girl who had lost her Fathers’ love and support far too early in her life and was perpetually
for love, any kind of love, not even understanding the
depths of love that still lived on
despite his ‘reasoning’, despite his raging
against it, his love lived on, burning with a much steadier flame than hers ever had…
for him anyway.
My Mother, trapped in her own strange little world, rather unrealistically simply ‘expected’ Eddie and Simon
to get along, regardless of their differences, stubbornly refusing to accept the fact that they
absolutely detested one another! With her narcissistic, and overly romantic view of ‘Love’
and Life she felt she was enough in herself for any man, and worth any
price she asked him to pay. She felt that by rejecting her son, Eddie was rejecting her.
Given the passionate extremes of her nature I’m sure she
quite deliberately chose to go out with other
men as a way of hitting back at Eddie, rejecting him in the same way she had decided he was
rejecting her. She wanted to prove to him that other men still desired her, and if
he wanted to keep her then it had to be on her terms, regardless of her faults or
whatever it was he had to do for her.
That was just the way she looked at things.
She would have ‘justified’ her actions by dwelling on the fact that
Eddie wouldn’t marry her, I know she wouldn’t have
respected him for putting his religious beliefs before pleasing her, quite the reverse, she
always had to be FIRST!
issue for her would have been the fact Eddie could no longer
physically make love to her the way he used to…the way she needed him to.
She was a hot-blooded, passionate woman who needed
every bit as much as she needed
Sex can be purely
‘Romance’ is more
and has far more to do with the mind than the body.
Eddie understood that, he had known many women in
his life, and he not only loved my Mother,
he understood her.
Now that Eddie was at home all day the time period
between his injections became shorter and shorter,
and unfortunately his temper did too. The atmosphere in the home steadily worsened as he became increasingly
hot-tempered and tyrannical. Constant pain destroys the personality just as much as drugs themselves do,
it’s debilitating and soul-destroying, and steadily grinds its helpless
victim down a little bit more every day.
He started altering the dates on his prescriptions so he could
collect them earlier. His doctor, who was also
Polish, had made a mistake whilst writing out a batch of them once [which he did to save Eddie travelling
across town every week] and had quickly initialled the alterations he had made, noticing this Eddie had
practised forging his initials over and over again until he’d perfected them, then he’d started altering
his prescriptions regularly. Of course, local pharmacists soon became suspicious when every prescription
handed in to them had been altered, so every couple of days when I got home from School he would send me off
to a different Chemist further away, but that too had its’ problems and they would often quiz me about them.
The appalling atmosphere and never-ending tension got so bad
that I absolutely dreaded going home after
School each day. A huge knot of fear would tighten in my stomach at the sound of the School-bell and I would
make my way back to the Basement as slowly as I possibly could, sick with apprehension
knowing Eddie would be there…waiting. I always had to go straight home, there was no choice, no escape. I was
left alone to cope with his demands, his moods, his rages, until my Mother came home at night.
Once I had done
whatever he needed me to do for him I would go through to my room, do my homework as quickly as possible, and
then immerse myself completely in a Book. Reading had quite literally become a life-line
to me, and I clung onto that life-line with both hands, like someone drowning in choppy seas trying to clamber
aboard a madly bobbing Rescue Dinghy. Through reading I could escape to totally different Worlds, and
even different Ages…times and places where brilliant, fascinating people led thrilling, elegant lives.
I could take pleasure in and experience, albeit at a distance, beauty, charm and
chivalry, all whilst trapped in that awful, shabby basement amidst our stressful, unhappy lives.
I used to go to the Library every Friday, take out five books and devour them avidly. I used them as a barricade
against the harsh reality of my daily life, and within their sparkling, inviting pages explored an infinitely
more appealing, and vastly saner World that existed ‘out there’, somewhere.
Migraines, pressure to be pleasing, depression, uproar at home!
My Mother, as I knew all too well, already lived in a
World that was somewhat different from mine,
she still persistently behaved like a noble, ‘well-born’ Lady even in that dreadful place, so I suppose
in a way I shouldn’t have been too surprised when she announced with great gravity one afternoon that I
really ought to change my surname to Eddies ‘for the sake of appearances’, insisting it was ‘the only
decent thing to do’ since he had taken us both in and given us a home.
I was horrified. Even though I had never actually known my biological
Father I still wanted to keep his name, it was the only link I had to him!
She said graciously, and with obvious condescension, that she didn’t intend to change my name
legally but merely wished me to be ‘known’ by Eddies name in future. I couldn’t believe it…
we all lived in a state of total chaos and misery and THIS was what she came up with…her
‘solution’ to all our problems…some sort of absurd ‘placebo’ for Eddie!
I thought it was an outrageous suggestion and angrily opposed
the idea, but of course, as was always the case with her, she just wouldn’t give up until she got her way.
She kept on and on about it, day after day, until I finally, exceedingly reluctantly agreed.
She maintained it was “embarrassing” for Eddie to have
documents bearing a different surname from his own
coming to the house, but as I was still only a child correspondence for me wasn’t exactly streaming
through the letterbox, besides which I knew there was no way Simon would EVER
have agreed to change his name to Eddies’, so I couldn’t see what difference it could
possibly make to anyone else at all other than me!
Naturally my feelings were
of absolutely no importance, and I was made to feel ‘profoundly ungrateful’ and ‘hugely insensitive’
in having opposed the idea at all, and it became just another instance of having to be who she wanted
me to be, and her controlling every aspect of my life, everything that reflected my own
individual identity and persona. I’m sure, with her overly ‘romantic’ view of life she had decided it would be
‘nice’ for me to be seen as the “daughter of a War-hero” - this despite the fact that Eddie and I no
longer got on at all well, that I wasn’t actually his daughter, and that my name wasn’t even being
legally changed to his! I just didn’t see the point… she lived in a completely different world
from everyone else, she really did!
I was the only one seriously affected by her decision, I was not only upset
at losing my name and therefore my identity as far as I was concerned, I also had to tear out all the
fore-pages of books I had been awarded as prizes in School because the printed certificates inside them now
bore the ‘wrong’ name, and ‘somebody’ might see!
She was obsessive about guarding her ‘privacy’, in fact
we all lived in such secrecy and anonymity that anybody could quite justifiably have thought we were in a
Witness Protection Programme and hiding out from the Mafia! If a neighbour ever stopped to speak to me however
briefly in the Street she would always demand to know what they had said, what I had replied,
and then she would sit and brood about it for hours, looking for innuendo’s, subtle slights, secret agendas.
I thought it was absurd, and used to laughingly wonder what on earth she had to hide! I suppose I really should
have known better - I found out eventually - rather too late as it happened!
Despite my Mothers new job and good salary, money still seemed to be
a constant problem, and whenever the
subject came up there was always a huge argument between her and Eddie. Eddie noticed she was spending
a lot more on clothes and hair-do’s, and she certainly was looking more glamorous, but of course it was
‘expected’ because she was dealing with wealthy clients all day and her work associates were all very much
better off than we were. Simons’ needs were also growing daily, almost as rapidly as he was, and her
salary never seemed to go far enough, so new clothes were still only ever bought as Birthday or Christmas gifts.
I starting having awful headaches, I suppose because
of the constant stress. I’d feel unwell and nauseous, then my vision would blur and everything
around me would appear strangely misshapen, then
suddenly the pain would start, thundering, vicious, mind-blowing pain, so severe I couldn’t rest my head
anywhere. I couldn’t even bear to move it.
At night I’d sit propped up with my pillow wedged
behind my back as a buffer against the cold, damp bedroom wall, and tears would roll steadily down my cheeks
as I tried to keep as still as possible, and as warm as possible, terrified to move because
the dreadful, throbbing pain was so much worse if I did. I’m quite sure if I’d ever had access to a gun when
I had one of those headaches I would have put it to my head without a moments hesitation and pulled the
trigger - sometimes I’d have done anything to stop that unbearable pain.
They lasted for hours even with medication, and if I hadn’t been able to keep quiet
enough, and still enough, for long enough, they would come back again, with a vengeance!
When I told my Mother about them she
was ANGRY not sympathetic, and complained bitterly that she already had “quite enough on her plate with
Eddie and Simon to cope with, and really didn’t need me ‘dying’ all over the place being weak and needy too”.
She made it quite plain that she didn’t care one iota, and that I needn’t bother looking for sympathy
from her for what was obviously just a lot of ‘nervous nonsense’. She was unbelievably callous
about it, and I was just left to get on with it.
The thing that astonishes me when I think about it now is that
I still thought she was wonderful, and of course absolutely right, because she did
have too much on her plate and I should be much more considerate, and obviously was being weak
and demanding! It amazes me now when I realize just how effective
all her controlling, bullying, indoctrination had been during my first few months in the basement!
She was all that mattered! There I was, a child, a sick, unhappy,
traumatised child, being made to feel ‘bad’ and disappointingly ‘weak’ and
inadequate because I was in pain!
I can remember quite literally
feeling my way
along the icy-cold passage to their room one evening with my forehead pressed
against the wall every step of the way, and knocking on the door to beg her for some pills because the
pain was so bad. She reluctantly gave me some, probably because Eddie was watching [he at least was
sympathetic, nobody knew more about pain than he did!] but she still made her disapproval
abundantly clear! Whatever caused them, those headaches became a regular and excruciatingly painful
part of my life for many years.
One day, I think I was about nine years old by then,
a class-mate insisted on coming home with me after School, something I obviously
never encouraged, but for some reason she simply wouldn’t take
‘no’ for an answer.
When we got to the front door she stopped abruptly and turned to me,
utterly shocked, as though
to go any further, and said “There’s such a
dreadful feeling of
here”! I was so taken aback I didn’t know what to say.
I felt my face redden and shrugged my shoulders, then I fumbled
clumsily with my keys pretending to nearly drop them, trying to cover my confusion.
I was so overcome by a
flood of powerful and normally suppressed emotions that I couldn’t speak, and so I just silently opened
the door and led her down the passage, praying Eddie would be calm for once and not fly off the handle.
She was right of course, but her unusual and totally unexpected
insight had caught me completely off-guard
and shaken me. I hadn’t thought people noticed such things, and certainly hadn’t expected such
a perceptive comment from another child.
Eddie had never managed to get another job, and his sorrow at
what his life had become, his endless suffering, his depression, his anger and despair, all permeated the air
of our home. No-one was happy, we were all worn-out, touchy and irritable, each of us trapped, stranded
together like beached whales lying side by side, unable to help each other and dying slowly inch by painful
inch. I had no idea what to say my friend after that and so said nothing. I left all the talking to her, but
she still seemed shocked and overwhelmed herself, and didn’t say much after her initial comment at all.
My Mother had always drummed into me that I was never
to talk to anyone about our
home lives or any members of the family, it was absolutely forbidden. Outsiders were
to believe that everything at home was FINE, perfectly OK, completely normal…but of course it wasn’t.
Problems were hidden, emotions suppressed. Eddie wasn’t a well man in any sense of the word, Simon was in a
constant state of turmoil, tormented and confused by the battalion of thoughts and emotions besieging his own
young teenage heart and mind, and my Mother, as always, was immersed in her own secret little World,
manipulating, scheming, and planning who knows what? In those two rooms four people lived separate,
Before she had even gone over the front door-step my young friend had sensed so much...I thought it was
extraordinary. I’ve never forgotten it. Eddie was home of course, and insisted I go to the Chemist for him
immediately, so she ended up taking a Bus with me to go to a Pharmacy some distance away, but I think she was
thankful to leave! She was clearly as puzzled as the pharmacist himself was as to why I was handing in a
prescription so far from my home, and it was embarrassing lying to him in front of her, telling him I just
happened to be there doing some shopping and thought it would be convenient.
She never came home with me again.
Life seemed incredibly complicated and sad to me. I had
blinding headaches, horrific nightmares and was just a bundle of tangled, complex emotions I didn’t
understand or know how to cope with…a living, breathing speck of humanity locked up inside myself, and I
could speak to no-one, tell no-one.No-one at home noticed my bouts of depression,
I wasn’t 'allowed’ to have my headaches and so of course
had to hide that terrible pain… hide it, along with all the other torment
in my soul, behind my big, bright, ‘required’ smile.
Everyone thought I was ‘happy’ just
as my Mother intended them to think,
because of course I ‘appeared’ to be happy being nothing but a miniature version of her,
her own programmable little robot - but I wasn’t meant to be her, or a robot,
I was meant to be me - and ‘I’ didn’t seem to EXIST in any meaningful way,
even in my own eyes. It was an AWFUL way to grow up. I wasn’t
allowed to express any emotions I actually felt unless I was
prepared to stand up to or simply endure her bullying verbal and emotional abuse –
the side of her nobody saw but me. I HAD to think what
I was TOLD to think, believe what I was
TOLD to believe, and express only the emotions I was TOLD I could have
or there would be hell to pay! THAT is domination, that
is dictatorship! I had no choice other than to be who she wanted me to be if I wanted her to
love me, and I wanted her to love me, I wanted to be pleasing, and so put pressure on myself
to be however and whoever she wanted me to be, no matter how much it destroyed me
inside. Mostly of course, I think she would really have preferred me not to be there,
but since I was there she wanted me to be ‘pleasing’ and supportive, not ‘needy’ or upset – there
was plenty of that going around as it was!
The constant stress, and the absurd emotional and psychological
pressure of my day to day existence became so unbearable that I frequently felt desperately
depressed and suicidal…
I just wanted it all TO STOP.
I wanted to find peace, my heart
for peace, but in my moments of deepest
despair that still, small voice within
always somehow managed to make itself heard again, it
me, and whispered calmly,
do it, I
do it, and I would somehow find the strength
to carry on for another day.
Open visions and Gods Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t speak with an
voice, He speaks to us
spirit to spirit,
It is a gentle, soft and pure voice. Occasionally He shows us something visually…
usually, as I learned over time, when an immediate response is required! I remember once, when Simon
and I were still going to Sunday School, I had what I now know is called an ‘open vision’. It was like watching
an ‘action replay’ on television!
In the vision I saw myself walking along the floor in front of the School
Stage [as I had just made my mind up I was going to do] and a tall, wooden plinth that some of the children were
playing around on the stage toppled over and hit me! I’d never had a vision before and rather foolishly kept on
walking while I thought about it and of course everything happened exactly as I had seen it! The plinth
toppled over and landed heavily right across the top of my skull, and the force of the blow sent me
crashing to the floor! It was rather painful!
I wish I could say it was the last time I ignored a vision
the Holy Spirit showed me, but unfortunately it wasn’t…but I can tell you one thing,
HE was RIGHT every time!
Father, did I hear Your Voice?
Did I hear You cry to me?
I feel Your Call as a cloak,
Resting lightly upon my shoulders,
But when I try to draw it close to me
It slips intangibly through my fingers,
Like Mist on a Summers’ Day.
How hard it is to grasp the ethereal
With an all too human mind!
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Collecting his prescriptions earlier than he was supposed to
meant of course, that Eddie ran out of
them several days before he was allowed to get any more, and whereas he’d managed to convince the Doctor
he’d made a clerical error the first time around, there was no way he would fall for it
a second time. That meant a dreadful few days for everybody.
Although it no longer did much
to ease his pain his body still craved that particular drug, so when he ran out Eddie would try any
and all of the over-the-counter drugs available, and literally anything else
he could lay his hands on, including strong alcohol, but nothing seemed to help for any significant
period of time.
It’s harrowing to see someone suffering extreme pain and
withdrawal symptoms, particularly when you can’t do anything to help. This situation went on for a long time,
and Eddie became increasingly difficult to live with, the slightest thing would send him into a rage.
Our own nerves became frayed too because of the constant stress, and we all eventually became just
as highly-strung and irritable as he was.
As steadily as Eddies’ health and circumstances declined, Simons’ flourished.
He was extremely clever and excelled in virtually every subject he took at his prestigious Grammar School.
Mum was tremendously proud of him. He grew into a very handsome teenager, exuding the same
sensuality that had always been his Mothers’ downfall.
She bought him a beautiful racing bike and a two-piece cavalry twill outfit he looked
incredibly good in. All the local girls were crazy about him! He looked just like a young
Elvis Presley, whom he absolutely idolized at the time, he practised his walk, his sneer, and slicked his
thick, black hair back just like him – he really did look the part!
The atmosphere in the home though was still
awful, you could have cut the air with a knife whenever Eddie and Simon were in the same room together
however briefly, and Eddie had no choice but to pass through our room if he needed to get to the kitchen or the
toilet. They bridled with scarcely veiled hostility at the mere sight of one another and Simon never failed to
make some snide comment and Eddie never failed to react to it…always just a hairs breadth away from violence.
Once they almost did come to blows, they had just grabbed hold of one another when I screamed for my
Mother, who fortunately came running out of the kitchen and stopped them. It was a nightmare.
It took a long time for Simon to realize that his rage and frustration had very
little to do with Eddie, and everything to do with all that had happened to him during his childhood.
I could probably say the same of myself too.
I wasn’t necessarily as angry as Simon, being so much younger I was very insecure, and definitely
emotionally scarred by some of my own experiences, but Simon had spent more time with my Mother, he had
seen more, been through more, he had a right to be angry, but not with Eddie. Eddie ended
up paying for far too many of my Mothers flaws and mistakes.
We all have our flaws, but we owe it to ourselves and
to those around us to at least do as little
as possible on our journey through life!
Our presence is meant to enrich peoples lives not ruin them!
My Mother seemed to be doing really well, her job had become a ‘career’. She seemed different somehow,
bolder and more confident, and she ‘worked late’ all the time. Simon also stayed out a lot longer each day.
He was supposedly ‘out riding his bike’, but in reality, he had discovered girls, and I mean
really discovered girls! Perhaps not too surprisingly, given his turbulent and unhappy home life, he
ended up getting a local girl pregnant, and that caused quite an uproar!
I was present when the first meeting took place between
the two very different ‘concerned parties’ i.e.
and it quickly became rather
My Mother, naturally, stood on her dignity, and adopted a morally ‘superior’
attitude, which didn’t go down
at all WELL
with the girls’ parents, in fact she very nearly started
World War Three
Her approach was basically “Well obviously your daughter’s a slut but I’m
prepared to be a shining example of moral rectitude and allow my son to marry into your low-class, inferior
family”! The air was
then she astonished absolutely everyone
in the room by insisting Simon and their daughter had to get married!
It was like a bomb going off!
Simon was HORRIFIED! She hadn’t even discussed it with him!
He couldn’t believe his Mother intended to
force him to marry the girl!
She was a far from ‘innocent’ nineteen-year
old, and he was barely sixteen and still in School, but he had no say in the
matter – my Mother was positively glacial, and wouldn’t discuss it with him,
there or anywhere else!
The girls’ parents quickly gave their consent needless to say, despite
their very evident hatred of my Mother, and having made the finality of her decision
abundantly clear to one and all she rapidly brought the meeting to a close and sailed
out of their home on a colossal wave of
It was common practice in
those days for parents to force a young couple to get married in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Young
people were just as hot-blooded then as they are today, but contraceptives were not readily available,
and certainly not free, and there was a social stigma attached to going to a Chemist and having to
ask for condoms – it was admitting to being ‘immoral’ and a slur on the family name!
They were very different times!
Forced marriages were not unusual, but they generally did
not occur between two such very different young people from such widely
diverse backgrounds, particularly when someone as unconventional as my
Mother was involved! Nobody would
do something she didn’t want to do, but she had a different reason for doing what she did to Simon, and it had
nothing to do with ‘morality’ and everything to do with
The next few days were pure hell as an absolutely distraught
Simon repeatedly begged my Mother not to make
him marry the girl, even the Headmaster from his School came down to the Basement and
with her to at least let Simon stay on and complete his education! He
stressed how intelligent Simon was, what an excellent mind he had, what a great future
lay ahead of him, University etc. etc. but his words fell on deaf ears, she was
- Simon had to leave School immediately, marry the girl and get a job!
Whatever hopes and dreams Simon had
ended right there.
Her mind was made up and no amount of pleading on his part or
anyone else’s would change it - at this, possibly the most
moment of his young, tormented life,
she just would not listen.
Obviously seeking some kind of moral support one
night she actually started talking to me about the situation, and she never discussed
anything serious with me! She told me how incensed all her oldest and closest friends were by her
decision [I didn’t even know she had any apart from the one I mentioned earlier, with whom she had the
decidedly ‘frosty’ relationship!] she said they had ALL accused her of making Simon pay for the fact that none
of the fathers of her own illegitimate children had ever married her…she asked me what
I was just a child…what did I know? I didn’t understand the implications
of ANY of it! I didn’t know what ‘illegitimate’ meant, or that unmarried girls weren’t supposed to have
babies, I’d thought it was good news when she’d told me Simons’ girlfriend was pregnant!
Of course, as
an adult, I realize now that she only asked me because she knew I was the only one who would tell her
what she wanted to hear being little more than her own personal little robot and just a ‘mirror-image’
of herself. Sadly, even though I felt with all my heart that what she was doing was
dreadfully wrong, I did exactly that and said what I knew she wanted me to say,
but how I wish I hadn’t even though it wouldn’t have changed anything,
or made one ounce of difference.
My Mother had flouted ‘convention’ all her life, and had
cared about ‘social niceties’ throughout
her own teenage years, she had always done exactly what she wanted to do, regardless so why did
she suddenly care now? The difference was that NOW she desperately
wanted to be
I think this was
a pivotal moment
for her, justifying in her mind a cataclysmic change that would
enable her to walk away,
because I believe she had been
looking for a way out,
and Simon had just unwittingly given her one. I think she was angry and frustrated
because despite all her plotting, all her scheming and
all her manipulation of ALL of us, NONE of the things she’d
thought she could FORCE to happen HAD happened!
She had been determined to have both Eddie and Simon in her life and
couldn’t accept that NOTHING had worked out the way she’d wanted it to. Getting Simon back had
resulted in having to take
back, getting Simon back had ruined her relationship with Eddie, and now
Simon had made a girl
Her own ‘hopes and dreams’ had turned to ashes right before her eyes and
I think she felt trapped,
in a nightmare of her own making and she saw this as her
moment to break free again, and she grabbed it with both hands!
This was a way to get Simon out of the house and the ‘responsibility’ for him off her shoulders.
The same woman who had decided to dump both her
children in Homes eight years earlier so she could live her own life unencumbered by her
responsibilities, had once again decided she’d had ENOUGH! She had only played the role of ‘Wife’ and Mother
for about four and a half years, but that was four and a half years
too long as far as she was concerned…she hadn’t been committed to
anything or anybody that long, not to a man, and certainly not to any of her children!
She’d cheated on every man she’d ever been with, and fobbed her children off on
anybody she possibly could until there was no-one left… but she was still only in her thirties, still attractive,
she wanted to
her life, not just battle through it!
But I think there was another aspect to the situation that influenced her decision and greatly hardened
her resolve. By becoming sexually active Simon had, in her eyes, just become a little bit
too much like his father, his philandering, unfaithful father, and she’d decided
he had to be stopped, in a way no-one had been able to stop his father. His
father had refused to marry my adolescent, rebellious, madly-in-love, pregnant Mother, but she could
make his son marry and, in her mind, break the cycle of male immorality, male
irresponsibility, the ability of the male to walk away.
I think those ‘old friends’ of hers that
I knew nothing about were RIGHT, she was going to make Simon pay for his fathers’ infidelity
and for every other man’s ‘crime’ in walking out on her, but Simon was just a BOY…a hurt,
angry boy, not a man! Every pain in his heart she had caused to be there, every bit of
anger and frustration he felt she was at the root of, and now she was making him
pay for her own poor choices, her own immorality…she was cutting him adrift like a piece of
flotsam, all but drowning in his own pain and torment, but soon to be a husband, and a father.
Simon, poor tortured, unhappy Simon was
going to be allowed to walk away – she was finally getting her revenge - her false,
sense of ‘morality’ gave the matter ‘closure’ in her mind -
felt she was ‘righting’ the wrongs of the past by making
‘Do the right thing’.
I also believe her narcissism played a very large part in
her entirely selfish decision-making process...
particularly her obsessive, compulsive need to be FIRST in everyone's life.
Her passionate, jealous and controlling nature would NEVER accept being relegated to second place!
Simons’ father had constantly cheated on her with other women so in her mind being
faithful to her had been SECONDARY to satisfying his own physical desires.
Simon himself, by putting his desires for another woman BEFORE what
she thought should have been his FIRST priority – pleasing her, and meeting
her expectations of him, had also betrayed HER in her mind,
and she had resolved that he very definitely had to be punished for that – THAT was
unforgivable! She had a maniacal, egotistical need to be of
paramount importance in the lives of those closest to her, even someone she had herself,
quite arbitrarily decided should 'adore' her...she HAD to be FIRST, at all times and in
I wouldn’t have thought it possible,
but the atmosphere in the home grew worse by the day
in the build-up to the Wedding - it felt as though someone
had DIED, and in a way, someone HAD…
Simon. A black pall of gloom, hopelessness and utter despair enshrouded
each of us, apart from my Mother of course, she was just getting angrier
by the day! We couldn’t even go into a local shop without someone saying how awful
it was that a boy like Simon was being forced to get married so young. It was the talk
of the neighbourhood, and my highly-offended Mother was running out of shops to frequent!
No-one thought she was doing the right thing but her!
Poor Simon was devastated,
heart-broken because he had to leave the School he loved, and at which he was doing
so exceptionally well, and was being forced to marry someone he didn’t love. He was a boy,
and for him the whole thing had been nothing more than a sexual escapade, but now his whole future was
being taken away from him, arbitrarily, heartlessly, and completely against his will, and all because
his Mother had decided she wanted OUT!
None of us knew it at the time, but she had her eyes fixed on a
different prize by then, and it was going to be a time of upheaval in all our
lives! I’m quite sure if she could have found a way to ‘off-load’ me too she would have done it in the blink
of an eye! If she’d done it to Simon, whom she loved more than anybody
apart from herself, she most definitely would have done it to me!
A few weeks later, and having been given absolutely no
choice in the matter, Simon became a husband and prospective father at the ripe old age of sixteen!
Their Wedding was a sad, joyless affair, her family sat across the aisle from us in
the Registry Office shooting looks of pure hatred at my Mother and I. No-one smiled, no-one looked even vaguely
‘happy’. My Mother seemed surly but ‘satisfied’, and poor Simon looked totally lost.
He moved in with his new ‘in-laws’ just across the Street from us that same day, and started looking
for work not long after, but with no work experience, no skills, and no qualifications people
weren’t exactly falling over themselves to employ him.
Relationships between my Mother and Eddie did not improve! All the recent drama, and his home and
family becoming the talk of the entire neighbourhood certainly hadn’t helped the situation! Simon had
been far from their only problem though, so of course the atmosphere remained tense and unhappy, in fact it was
actually pretty grim. It was much quieter, but there was a dark, brooding heaviness in the air,
as if we were all holding our breath and waiting for something ominous to happen. It wasn’t a pleasant way to
live. Things continued like that for quite a while, as if we were stuck in some sort of unhappy ‘limbo’… a
dismal, bleak ‘no-mans’ land’, until one day, to my utter amazement, my Mother informed me that we would be
moving out of the Basement!
I was absolutely astonished…flabbergasted really. I hadn’t seen
that one coming at all! Apparently, her boss had helped her get a flat in a
house that belonged to an old-flame of his, it overlooked Primrose Hill, and the lease he’d managed to arrange
for her was remarkably ‘affordable’ for such an Upmarket area. She then told me, pointedly, that only the
two of us would be living there.
Now that really did shock me. I was actually quite
horrified, and immediately blurted out “What about Eddie?” She turned away, avoiding any eye contact,
and said she had asked him to move in there with her but he had refused.
I couldn’t understand it. It was all too much to take in - everything seemed to be happening
so quickly, and something just didn’t ‘feel right’ about any of it.
Obviously, I knew how difficult Eddie was to
live with, but I couldn’t believe she would walk out on him just like that… he had given
us all a home after all, even if it was a pretty awful one! True to form however, she coldly
refused to discuss any of it, taking the attitude that it was none of my business,
we were going, and that was that!
The next few weeks went by in a whirl, I barely saw Eddie at all,
he mostly stayed alone in his room, with the door firmly shut. Whenever I asked
my Mother about him she would just tell me to leave
him alone, and say “He’s not taking it very well, he’s still refusing to come with us”.
It didn’t make much sense to me that he wouldn’t want to move
to a nicer place in a better area, but of course I had no idea what was really going on behind the scenes,
I still thought my Mother was a Saint! Now that I know better, I think it’s hardly surprising Eddie
wouldn’t move into a flat her lover had arranged for her, always supposing she had asked him to in the
first place, which I now seriously doubt! It’s far more likely she was just leaving him and didn’t
want to risk me hearing the truth about her affair with her boss from Eddie, it would certainly have ruined
the ‘Saintly’ image she liked to convey of herself!
Whilst emptying a chest of drawers one day and sorting
out the contents ready for packing I came across some
odd-looking, orange-coloured rubber tubing with strange bulges in it and asked my Mother what it was, and
whether I should pack it or not. She took it out of my hands and curtly replied “it’s for sticking inside
yourself and washing away unwanted babies”! Now that came as quite a shock…like being slapped in the
face with a cold, dead fish! I couldn’t believe I’d heard her properly, and just stared at her, open-mouthed
and aghast. She gave me a cold, hard look, turned on her heels and walked off. I was completely stunned. Nobody
ever talked about sex, or even basic bodily functions in those days, so
you can understand how astonished I was by her remark!
To be completely truthful, I was so ignorant of
such things that when I’d unexpectedly started bleeding one day I’d thought I was seriously ill and dying!
She’d just laughed at me when she’d found the ‘evidence’ hidden in a pile of laundry and somewhat belatedly
bought me a book about menstruation! I can only smile now when I think of all the unhappy hours I spent brooding
about my impending, untimely demise… to think my devoted Mother never even noticed! It occurs to me now,
writing this so many years later, that her only reason for telling me such a dreadful thing, and for
the long, cold hard look she gave me that day, was that she intended me to realize exactly what had
happened to the ‘baby brother’ she had asked me if I’d ‘wanted’ a few years earlier, wanting ME to know…
to lay the blame, the guilt-trip on ME, when the responsibility for whatever she had done
was so obviously hers! Thank God, and I mean that quite literally,
that I was still too innocent to pick up on her meaning at all. I was shocked by what she had
said, but hadn’t realized what she’d meant to infer by it.
I just can’t understand the cruel mentality of someone trying to lay the
blame for something like THAT on a child – it is malicious beyond belief.
I had already contemplated suicide so many times in my short, unhappy life that I’m quite
certain that had I in any way understood what she in fact
wanted me to understand at that moment, it would have finally pushed me over the
edge – I think it would possibly have taken the audible voice
of God to have stopped me…my heartbreak and despair would have been too great.
As I mentioned earlier about my Mothers’ ‘old friend’ who
had a daughter a couple of years older than me and
a young son who looked like Simon, I actually think my Mother made her get the medical
tubing for her, threatening once again to tell her children the truth if she didn’t do what she
wanted her to do, because I certainly don’t think it was the first time she had forced her to do
something she wouldn’t otherwise have done, their relationship was too odd, too ‘strained’ particularly
for such supposedly ‘close’ old friends!
I remember a very strange visit her friend had made some time before,
when I was alone in the Basement one afternoon. I hadn’t been told she was coming so I’d been surprised when
I’d answered the loud knocking at the door and found her standing there looking very angry and agitated. I
remembered who she was of course, so I told her my Mother hadn’t come home yet but she could come inside and
wait if she wanted. She’d come in and sat on the edge of her chair, clutching a large, black bag tightly in
her arms and waited impatiently for my Mother to get back. She barely spoke, and when she did her voice had an
edge to it that made me feel uncomfortable.
The tension and animosity in the air was palpable when my
Mother finally arrived, there were no ‘pleasantries’ between the two of them, my Mother immediately asked her
in a very ugly, unpleasant voice “Did you get it?” to which her friend had sharply answered “Yes” and
then they’d both vanished into the kitchen. A little while later she stormed out with a face like thunder and
left without a word. It quite clearly was not a friendly social visit, which is why I
was so suspicious about it, and also probably why I remember it so well. As I mentioned previously, I think she
was a nurse of some kind.
I’ve always remembered the incident, probably once again because it seemed so odd and
her ‘friend’ had been so very angry. When she’d stormed past me she had shot me a look that spoke
VOLUMES, her vehemence silently letting me know that she would have
to tell me what sort of woman my Mother really was behind
her pretentious façade! I do sometimes wonder though what Simon would have said if he’d known
she’d had that thing lying in a drawer at home when he’d had his ‘little problem’ -
the one she’d used as a reason to get him out of the house and to make him marry against his will?
I suppose it’s just as well for me she hadn’t had it years
earlier, when she’d discovered I was coming along, because
I too had been an ‘accident’, an unwanted ‘surprise’!
The day of the Move finally came and it was a strange day for me.
I felt anxious, and a little bit lost. We just seemed to be walking away from everything
and everybody - we weren’t going to be ‘a family’ anymore. Everything was changing again,
everything would be different now - not necessarily better…just different. There would only be two of us now.
When the last of the boxes had been packed into
the small van my Mother had hired, she, Eddie and I stood for a moment in an uncomfortable silence at the
top of the Basement steps. The normally busy street was unusually quiet and deserted. I moved away
to give them some privacy and my Mother said a few brief words to Eddie, nothing particularly meaningful
apparently, his face remained impassive and he stood there silently, seemingly unmoved.
She turned to leave and I hung back wanting to say something too, but not knowing what
I could say, what I should say. We’d barely even seen each other recently
despite living under the same roof. I felt I should at least say ‘Thank you”, because regardless of
everything that had happened, it had been his home, his sacrifice in letting us live
there, but as I stood there hesitantly, he looked across at me and nodded his head curtly towards
the van indicating I should leave, so I did…I left without saying anything at all.
I felt sad and empty inside…we were leaving Simon behind too.
I’d been watching for him the whole morning, and still kept looking hopefully across the street
as I climbed into the van, I was longing to see him, hug him, say goodbye...but he didn’t appear.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Christian Poem about Gods Forgiveness.
Cleansed By The Blood
Sometimes, alone and burdened by our sins
We also cry, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?”
But the sins of the past are a barrier
Only on OUR side, NOT YOURS,
You see only Christs’ Redeeming Blood.
Help us see the FULLNESS of His Perfect Sacrifice!
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Unwanted! Shocking revelation of my Mothers true feelings.
Realizing God was there all along. He is for ALL of us!
My Mother had a peculiarly distant and condescending
attitude towards me the morning we moved,
I think she had already shifted to another ‘role’ in her ‘Movie Star’ frame of mind! She seemed to quite
from me, as if my presence was in some way
to her, in fact her
whole attitude strongly reminded me of her visits to the Children’s Home years before, and I really didn’t
know what to make of it. The prospect of spending so much time alone with her in our new home had been troubling
me since the day she’d told me we were moving and I found her strange behaviour very unsettling. It was
and her manner was definitely
it was worrying to say the least!
I started feeling extraordinarily shy and uncomfortable if she came anywhere near me…it was as though I was ‘out of place’ and didn’t
actually ‘belong’ anywhere anymore.
Apart from my first few months at the Basement,
which had certainly been no picnic,
my Mother and I had seldom spent much time alone together,
she seemed to flit in and out of my life even though we both lived under the same roof.
Normally when she wasn’t at work she would either be with Eddie in his room, or she and Simon would be
chattering away while she was busy in the Kitchen, so I usually spent quite a lot of time on my own.
She had always been far more ‘accessible’ both physically and emotionally to Simon,
and I couldn’t help but notice that she didn’t really
if I tried to hang around in the
room with them when they were chatting. She would give me sidelong, disapproving looks and
it was clear my presence wasn’t required.
The moment Simon left all semblance of ‘family’
interaction or communication ceased,
her emotional ‘shutters’ would slam into place, and she would
immediately busy herself with something else or go and spend time with Eddie. It was as if I wasn’t
She and I had never had any of the special ‘Mother and Daughter’
type chats you might expect within such a small and ‘enclosed’ family unit, in fact we seemed to have
nothing in common
apart from being ‘family’.
We shared no mutual interests,
and there had
that natural flow of conversation between the two of us that sprang
up so readily whenever she and Simon got together. Whenever she and I were alone together she was mostly
uncommunicative and withdrawn, sometimes even sullen and resentful, her mind obviously elsewhere.
I absolutely doted on my Mother but couldn’t actually
to her. The perpetual air of ‘Superiority’ she automatically
assumed around me was extremely off-putting, and of course
as indeed it was
to be, it was
to serve as a constant reminder that ‘one must always know one’s place
when one was around her’.
It was rather like living with the Queen!
‘Ordinary’ love was never sufficient for my
Mother, she expected and demanded what she ultimately called ‘filial devotion’
and PROFOUND respect at all times, which of course I realize now was part of her narcissism, her
ego required it, and in her eyes it lent credence to her projected image of
herself as not only a ‘wonderful’ person, but also a
Mother. To an outside observer our relationship would have appeared to be
warm and affectionate, but it was all a façade, I knew perfectly well that it was still entirely
dependent on how she felt about me on any particular day, or even at any specific moment, whether I had been
suitably ‘pleasing’ or not…
it was a house built on shifting sands!
The fact that I wasn’t actually ‘allowed’ to say
what I truly thought or felt about anything also undoubtedly hampered free-flowing conversation between the
two of us! Simon had always been permitted to speak quite freely,
nothing would have stopped him,
but I had to run a ‘censorship’ tape through my mind before
I could even open my mouth!
There was so much I couldn’t talk about, so much she
didn’t want to hear.
All her little ‘fantasies’ combined with her other restrictions and
‘requirements’ meant that I could only ever
‘approved’ and ‘acceptable’ conversations, or
‘approved’ and ‘acceptable’ views and opinions, so perhaps it’s not too surprising that the few ‘chats’ we had were
brief, awkward and stilted! There was no such thing as ‘free’ expression in my World, I lived in some weird
‘twilight’ World of my Mothers’ creation, an oppressive, deceptive little World that didn’t have an ounce of
truth or real love in it! Throughout my
she had manipulated and bullied me into believing whatever she
TOLD ME to believe and had absolutely
to allow me to remember or speak of my childhood as it had truly been, but I’d not only had to
believe her version of the truth [that I’d been brought up by
wonderful, adoring Nuns in a beautiful Convent] I’d also had to ACT the part,
behave as if I’d been protected, loved and cherished all my life…
but I hadn’t!
It was only ever a
she had concocted to tell her family and friends,
Unfortunately, like many habitual liars,
I think she eventually got to the point where she actually started believing
some of her own ‘more appealing’ lies, they were invariably a great deal
nicer than the reality she was so steadfastly avoiding.
Looking back on that period of my life now I think
I must have been in the same precarious emotional state
that Simon had been in at my age, struggling to make sense of a life that
absurdly confusing and complicated because of having to live
in my Mothers’ warped ‘reality’! You cannot
inner peace or emotional stability when
keeps telling you one thing while
keeps telling you something
and my heart still knew as
what my mind had been consistently trained by my Mother to reject as LIES,
with constant inner conflict and confusion being the inevitable result! To explain the
significance of this
in a way that will make it a great deal
easier for my younger readers to understand, especially those who are far more familiar with Computer Operating
Systems and Programming, than Psychology and matters of the mind, my Mother had quite deliberately fed
into my ‘operating system’ [my mind] and as computer users will readily
understand, if corrupt data is fed into a System nothing good or remotely usable can possibly
come out of it!
Everything is just one big incomprehensible mess
and NOTHING works as it should!
Just like that computer my mind needed to be
of all that
contaminated ‘data’, in
just the same way that people who have been rescued from Cults have to be de-programmed from months or
possibly years of brain-washing indoctrination. Unfortunately, I was still a long way away from realizing
of the emotional abuse I’d actually been subjected to through years of
my own Mothers’ indoctrination,
intimidation, manipulation and of course, thought and behavioural control!
of my mind
only happened years later when I found my God, the God of the ‘Rainbow’, the God of
The Covenant, once again, and regained my inner Peace and finally received Emotional Healing from
all the wounds of the past, and by that time they were quite extensive!
I used to wonder why God had reached out to me so
in my life, when I was far too young to understand
spiritual things and had such a long way to go before I could truly find Him again, but now of course, looking at
my life in retrospect, I understand all too well! If He
reached out to me
touched me with His Holy Spirit
I would never have made it. It would all have been too much for a young child to
cope with. I’m quite sure I would have killed myself…either during one of my deep, dark bouts of depression,
or during one of those awful, agonizing headaches when I so often
wanted to just to make the pain
stop. I might even have ended up in some kind of Treatment Centre for nervous breakdowns or psychiatric disorders
but I didn’t,
and I KNOW my strength came from Him and His Precious
Holy Spirit who had been with me since the day of the Rainbow.
Oh Lord, I see Your Face in each Glorious Sunrise,
Feel Your Breath in each warm Summers’ Breeze,
And savour as Your Sweet Presence
The Beauty and Fragrance of the Rose!
To think we’re just a part of Your Creation,
Yet we’re all so special to You!
Though so numerous we are never faceless,
You see each individual coming shining through!
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Christian poem about coping with extreme emotional trauma .
Perhaps I should explain at this juncture that the post-war World
I grew up in the 1950’s was
from the one most young people know today, it was a lot less
I lived in a dingy, insular, isolated little
World in the Basement, a World in which we had no friends [they were actively
by my secretive and controlling Mother],
no telephone, no computers and no cell-phones!
The only source of entertainment in our room had been an ancient radiogram
that barely operated
at a whisper,
if it felt like working
and when Eddie finally bought a
TV it was kept in his room and in the early days only provided viewing for two hours a night! Even as Broadcasting
hours increased Eddie still didn’t care for television much, and that was long before the era of TV ‘Shrinks’!
Eddie hated Psychiatrists
with a passion
because in those days they regarded Phantom Pain as a Psychiatric
Disorder and not actual physical pain at all! We all watched a little bit of TV together sometimes in the
evenings but for the most part I stayed in the room I shared with Simon. My World was completely
ruled and controlled by my Mother,
it was tiny, closed,
and largely silent,
and when I was left alone, I really was ALONE!
It’s impossible to have a
kind when one party is so completely controlled
and emotionally dominated by the other, there is no freedom of expression, no automatic
to be oneself, one must always be
Controlling, deceitful and manipulative people are
difficult to live with, or even to
with on a daily basis, particularly those
with ‘disorders’ and narcissistic tendencies…they’re often
without any apparent reason for it and
because of that
are quite unpredictable. It’s virtually impossible to know how they will react in
different situations. There is also very little ‘safe’ or common ground when one party refuses to acknowledge
about important issues –
there is absolutely NO
solid foundation upon which to build a stable relationship worth having!
Now that I was older the fact that I had ever been in a
Children’s Home was a ‘non-event’ as far as my Mother
was concerned, it was no longer part of her chosen ‘reality’ and she basically lived in denial that it had ever
happened. She was adamant that I had never been
by it, and that our relationship had never been
by it, so it just
but a definite change in our relationship
taken place, and the Mother/Child bond between us
and this was a fact that was about to be made
abundantly clear to me…
Mother living a lie, abandonment never happened!.
Sitting next to my Mother on the journey to Primrose Hill that
day was a
strange experience, it was like sitting next to a mannequin devoid of feeling, or perhaps
even a total stranger. It was as if she wasn’t
- in fact she was every bit as emotionally detached from me
on that comparatively short trip as she had been on the long journey from the Children’s
Home to the Basement just a few years earlier,
as I was about to discover, for rather
reasons! When we arrived at the flat and walked through the rooms of our new home
together I glanced across at her and was completely shocked by the cold, hard
expression in the eyes that glowered back at me,
For a few moments it seemed all the ‘pretence’ was over,
the façade had gone, and the ‘blinkers’ were off, I could actually
FEEL her resentment of my continued presence in her life! The expression on her face
said it all
…I was no more
welcome here in her new home than I had been at her old home, in the Basement!
This was HER ‘new beginning’, HER
‘new life’, and I could SEE her pent-up frustration and rage, ALL the
emotions boiling and seething inside her!
She might not have given
to them, but they were written
all over her face
in large capital letters! I was ‘dead-weight’…an anchor holding her back…
the only thing preventing her from being totally FREE again!
Maybe she thought I was too dense to see it, maybe she just didn’t care
either way, she certainly made no attempt to hide it, even when she saw me staring straight at her,
shaken and aghast…but what did she expect me to do? I was still only a child! I knew then,
with gut-wrenching certainty and pain,
that she felt I should get down on my knees and THANK HER
profusely for taking me with her! It was a devastating realization, and the horror
and dismay of it reverberated through every nerve and sinew in my body like the
aftershock of an enormous earthquake.
She DIDN’T love me! She didn’t WANT me in her life!
It had been one thing to suspect it, as I had all along,
but quite another to know it! I was still an
unwelcome ‘intruder’, an ‘unwanted guest’ someone who had long since outstayed her welcome
but hung-on, clinging tenaciously
like some sort of parasite
to the fringes of somebody else’s life!
I had to find
to cope with what I had seen,
so I did the only thing I knew how
to do, the only thing I could do, I buried the truth,
the pain of what I had seen,
deep inside me,
just as I had done before in
the Children’s Home, and after that, in the Basement. I became even
emotionally detached from my surroundings, even more
from the people in my life, and then, having buried it all, I took refuge
That was the moment I started lying to myself.
I told myself I hadn’t seen it, that I didn’t know
what she was really thinking. I told myself I was WRONG, that my Mother really
did love me,
just as she pretended to when other people were around, and
that was why she had taken me with her, it
just that she’d had no choice. I looked her in the face…her cold, disapproving face,
and pretended I was grateful, pleased and happy, while a little
bit more of me died on the inside,
knowing for sure now that it was all false.
False or not, it was all I had.
God Uses Broken Things
The Father healed my aching heart,
Made the broken pieces mend,
And, while I was serving Him,
Caused my inner pain to end,
For He had seen my anguished soul,
And alone He knew the cause,
And brought to mind the hundred cuts
That always made me pause,
Afraid to enter in.
Now I have felt His Healing Balm
I can rise again,
And I can help the others find
The Healer of all men,
For others need that Healing Touch
To penetrate their soul,
And others need the Living God
Who truly makes men whole.
Come – Trust in Him.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
No matter how much I lied to myself I don't think I ever
truly believed my Mother loved me
even though I kept telling myself she did and that I was just being ‘silly’.
Her displays of affection had always seemed artificial and insincere to me, always more
for the sake of ‘appearances’
than anything else. I felt she only
did it because she knew she was
I think the painfully obvious ‘distaste’ and disapproval
she’d visited me at the Children’s Home had created a permanent
emotional barrier in my young heart and mind that made any true closeness or rapport between us
impossible, certainly on my side, and judging by what followed, on hers too!
I sometimes wonder if Simon was actually behind their
visits rather than my Mother! It may well have been
Simon who sent me the book I received in the Home that day…he bought me books throughout my childhood, and
seemed to know how much I enjoyed them, regardless of whether I could actually understand them
or not! In any event, regardless of
was behind their visits, further
of any kind had been the
thing I’d needed after the dreadful emotional
trauma I’d suffered when she’d first left me there, screaming in terror…
left me to cry night after night for a Mother who never heard,
who never came then, when I so desperately needed her.
Nothing is more hurtful or damaging to a child than the betrayal
or desertion of a parent. Nothing is more
than the human child,
it cannot flee from danger or protect itself in any way at all
and that child knows it, feels it, and is
By the time my Mother started visiting me at the Home I had already withdrawn so far
inside myself that I could barely relate to her anymore, her visits were
‘peculiar' and uncomfortable to me. I knew she would hand me back to the
Nuns again at the end of the day, always becoming irritated and annoyed if
I was unhappy and cried because I didn’t like being back there again any more than I actually enjoyed
being out with her.
What was a ‘Mummy’ to me then? The word had no meaning.
If she represented anything at
all, she represented
desertion, abandonment and pain.
I was too young, too confused, too upset to
know or understand anything that was happening to me, but for her, I think my distress marred what
she chose to see as otherwise ‘happy’ visits.
All these experiences were disturbing and unsettling enough in themselves,
but they were eventually followed
by her insensitive, domineering and bullying behaviour during my first few months at the Basement, all
of which undoubtedly increased my fears and anxieties rather than lessened them! An already traumatised
young child definitely doesn’t need to be exposed to such
…being on the receiving end of one of her verbal tirades was
like being run over by a Truck! She was positively
Another rather hurtful thing was of course, her blatant preference for Simon, which she’d made so
obvious the very first day I’d arrived at the Basement. Her over-the-top favouritism that day was certainly an
ENORMOUS contrast to the curt, and extremely
response I received later on, when she
found the little ‘love notes’ I left for her all over the kitchen in cupboards and drawers when I’d just learned
to read and write! If nothing else, it made it perfectly clear that I cared a great deal more
than she cared
Hurtful though it was, I didn’t actually mind her preference
for Simon, I didn’t
on it, nor did I grudge him her love and attention, I somehow sensed how much
he needed it. It wasn’t
fault she loved him more than me, and anyway…
I loved Simon too!
my brother, and despite the age difference and the years we’d been apart there WAS a
bond there, an empathy. Simons’ problems were never a barrier between the two of us, I had seen
enough hurt young boys in my own Children’s Home, and even though I was very young, I understood …
probably far more than my Mother did!
Painful experiences like these
in the heart and mind of a lost and lonely child, they
and form wounds that never heal.
I think in the case of Simon and myself that we had buried our wounds so deeply in order
and make it through each day that neither of us even
realized that they were at the root of the confusion, pain and uncertainty that ultimately caused
such havoc in our minds and hearts. They remained hidden from
our own eyes, our own consciousness for many years,
but insidiously affected every aspect of our lives and all the
decisions we made
or failed to make.
We are moulded and shaped by everything that happens to us in our childhood and
carry the past with us wherever we go. Many years ago a Philosopher wrote “Give me the child until he’s seven
and I’ll give you the man” a statement still supported by modern-day Philosophers and Psychologists alike,
although some now believe the formative age to be as young as five - either way there can be little doubt that
happens to us in our childhood
I think it’s safe to say that my Mother and I were two
that was obvious from the start I suppose if
I’d been of an age to understand such things.
She and I not only
Life very differently,
we even experienced it very differently.
What she viewed and experienced as
some kind of personal triumph I usually experienced as
very definite emotional
out of the Basement proved to be yet another, very typical example of this! She was pleased and excited about
the changes that had taken place within our small family over the past eighteen months or
so, but those same changes had brought a worrying instability back into my
life and situation once again.
She’d quite arbitrarily removed people from my life that
I loved and cared about
without a word…without even a second thought!
I realize now of course that this was actually nothing
for her, it was a well-established pattern of behaviour.
My Mother had merely done to me
what she had done to Simon throughout
childhood, changing partners, offspring and
environments as carelessly and thoughtlessly as other people might change their socks,
but the way she had jettisoned
of all people,
abandoning him to his fate so coldly, so
callously, had profoundly shocked me, shaken me to the core,
and now she’d done exactly the same thing to Eddie, just walked out and left him there,
alone in that horrible Basement to face whatever fate awaited him!
She could be
hard-hearted and unfeeling at times, and now we were
together, there was only
person, truth be told, whom she had consistently liked and loved
LEAST OF ALL,
the one with whom she had virtually
in common, yet here we were…
just the two of us!
It all felt so very,
Emotional barriers, rampant narcissism, callousness.
My Mother of course, took to our new surroundings like a duck to water,
having immediately clicked to another ‘Zone’ another ‘Life’ in her mind, but I couldn’t put the past,
or the people in it,
behind me quite as readily as she could. She had this incredible ability to ‘switch off’
to whatever had gone before – it didn’t exist, it hadn’t happened – but I didn’t have that ‘ability’,
I still missed Simon,
I loved Simon,
and now Eddie wasn’t a part of our lives anymore either.
When you only have three people in your life you really notice the absence of
one of them, let alone two,
whether it’s for better or for worse,
and now I only had my Mother,
and nobody else! A persistent fear gnawed away at me, the nagging worry that
was chaining her to her past ‘old’ life…
I alone was holding her back!
Could something happen to
me next, something over which I too would have no control,
no ‘say’ just like Simon? I was beginning to realize finally, that I only existed on the
of her life, that I was in fact a ‘spectator’, living “On the OUTSIDE, LOOKING IN”
on HER life, as well as my own! I think I can best compare it to having a
‘non-speaking’ role in a Movie…appearing
but not necessarily an important part
and definitely NOT essential to the plot!
With a ‘Director’ like my Mother, my ‘role’ could potentially end
up on the Cutting-Room floor!
This ‘new Life’ had been what she wanted, what she
needed, her ego, her narcissism needed to be fed, even exalted, and in her
mind a new and more glamorous lifestyle in more sophisticated surroundings could definitely lead to that, but
the people in her life had to change in order for that to happen –
two of them already had, but where did that leave
Children as voiceless, disposable commodities.
I sometimes think my Mother regarded her ‘off-spring’
as little more than her own personal ‘chattels’,
‘disposable commodities’ to be
as she saw fit, according to her varying whims,
needs and desires. Something she said to me in the early very stormy days of Simons’ enforced marriage certainly
justifies that opinion, as do plenty of my own childhood experiences with her! She was a walking,
in those days and generally only spoke to me if she really
needed to ‘vent’, and on that particular day I think it was a case of
‘vent or burst’!
She was in the middle of a
tirade about Simons new wife and the rather predictable marital problems they were
having when she said she really couldn’t understand his wifes’ attitude, because
I gave her
My face must have reflected the shock and
outrage I felt at hearing her refer to Simon
like some sort of parcel she’d handed over,
because she frantically tried to ‘back-peddle’ and redeem herself
from her decidedly ‘Freudian Slip’.
I was absolutely furious and could barely contain my anger.
A child is NOT a possession it is a PERSON,
a human being,
not a toy
to be passed on to someone else when you’ve grown tired of it, but of course
she’d ‘given away’ other children, placed others in Homes apart from us, but fortunately
or otherwise I didn’t actually know that at the time! In a desperate attempt to divert my attention to
a different aspect of their relationship, she announced with passionate fury that Simons’ wife “needn’t think
she would be able to use their little baby boy as ‘leverage’ to get things from HER,
or to use HER in any way, those tactics weren’t going to work
on HER!” Naïve though I undoubtedly was, her excessive
anger, combined with her smug self-satisfaction at having both foreseen and made plans to counter
such ‘tactics’ rather suggested that she had used the very same tactics HERSELF in the
past, presumably with varying degrees of success!
I remember one incident when she most definitely
to make some sort of
to Eddie. I was
only about five or six years old at the time and I’d been sitting alone in the room I shared with Simon
[he was out at the time] when my Mother suddenly
from Eddies’ room, obviously
something. She sat down next to me and said we should sing some songs together, so we sang “Catch A Falling Star”
and “Magic Moments” [both big hits at the time] then she stopped abruptly and complained crossly that I was
singing off-key! At that same moment Eddie appeared in the doorway with an unusually gentle smile on his face,
he said softly, tenderly,
“You sound like two Angels singing”.
My Mother instantly
to her feet,
tossed her head back haughtily, and stormed off to the Kitchen in a rage! Eddies’ face fell and he left,
crestfallen and dejected, and I was left standing there…
I’d served my purpose apparently!
That was a fairly typical example of my life with my Mother, she’d sweep me up and
make a fuss of me when it suited
her [when she was in her “See what a loving Mother and wonderful person I am!” mode] then abruptly drop
when it didn’t, but I still doted on her, just as Eddie and Simon did. I suppose we all
lived for the ‘highs’ and struggled through the ‘lows’.
When she ‘loved’ you, she really
you, but when she didn’t, she
didn’t! Some people are just
that, there’s nothing you can do about it.
It soon became blindingly obvious now there were no other
‘distractions’ in the home, that my Mother found
me deadly dull and uninteresting … as I’ve had cause to comment before, she wasn’t exactly
about her feelings at times! Whereas my constant reading had previously suited her very well
because it had kept me quiet and out of her way, she now required
and was clearly frustrated that she was getting very little of
either from me! I’d very quickly
realized that I needed that staunch barricade of books between the two of us in our new home every bit
as much as I’d needed them as a buffer between myself and all the turmoil of our lives in the Basement, and
although she made it quite plain that she resented
I spent with my head buried in a book
I tried to ignore her angry glares in my direction for as long as I possibly could! Although I now had my very
own room for the first time I wasn’t allowed to spend time in it alone, or sit by myself and read, that was
apparently being “selfish, inconsiderate and rude”, so I
to go and sit in the living-room with
when we basically had nothing to say to one another anyway!
I’m quite sure she missed Simon and
his razor-sharp mind and quick, challenging wit far more than she had ever
imagined she would, it’s even possible that she was beginning to think she’d ditched the wrong child!
Simon would have been
much better company for her, and confidently held his own in the more ‘intellectual’ and sophisticated
social circles she envisaged herself moving in, but then of course he would also have proved to be a HUGE
obstacle to her attaining what was now, unbeknown to me, her
goal…financial security with
a wealthy husband! I think she had been quietly confident that she would get some sort of commitment from her
boss once Eddie and Simon were both ‘out of the way’,
but I also think that she had once
again completely misjudged the situation!
Cocooned and isolated in her own overly ‘romantic’ narcissism I
believe she had vastly overestimated the ‘hold’ she had on him, and
severely underestimated just how extremely SERIOUS
he was about not marrying outside his Faith! A discreet ‘affair’ though definitely
‘frowned upon’, hadn’t and indeed wouldn’t result in him being
ostracised from his Religious Community, but marriage to someone from an entirely
different culture and religious background most definitely WOULD!
This is a matter people of his Religion take
very seriously, so I believe that
even though he’d been more than happy to help her move to a nicer area, he had also, much to her fury
and frustration, remained absolutely ADAMANT that their relationship would stay exactly
as it was!
My Mother was not a person who
was easily deterred from her chosen objective however, she had set her eyes on a particular prize and was
to win through! I can understand
[with the benefit of hindsight] why she was so angry and
irritable throughout that whole period - it was because once again
in her life was going ‘according to plan’ - but her ‘plans’ were
completely unrealistic, and based on ‘romantic’, self-centred and decidedly
She kept spending extravagantly, recklessly, buying expensive furniture and
carpeting hoping perhaps that a ‘nicer nest’, one that reflected her superior elegance and ‘good taste’ would
win him over, and the total package prove to be just too enticing for him to resist. She still fervently
believed that someone of her ‘perfection’ was worth any sacrifice, but I think she had yet to win
over to her own, rather
perspective! I also think she had only taken on her expensive
new flat because she had convinced herself that sooner or later
would be paying for it, but with her
‘prey’ becoming more elusive rather than less, she must have been worried
about her precarious financial position! The monthly cost of her lease was very reasonable for the area
but it was still far more than she could easily afford, and although her boss had undoubtedly helped her
organize and finance the move, so far that had clearly
been all he’d been prepared to do! She began to belittle him in a
disturbingly unpleasant and extremely derogatory way every day when
she got home from work, yet she still rather surprisingly ‘worked late’ every night! I don’t know if she meant
it to be some sort of ‘smoke-screen’ to hide what was really going on, but she also seemed to be fighting
with just about everyone she worked with…it was
to her diatribe
of rage and indignation each evening! At the time though,
still being completely brain-washed and naïve and
convinced she was ‘wonderful’ I was puzzled and disturbed by this dramatic turnaround in all her relationships.
I’d met all her work associates quite a few times by then, including her boss,
and I’d liked all of them,
and I couldn’t
suddenly turned into the ‘despicable, vile, back-stabbing’
individuals she’d now discovered they were! I stood stalwartly by my Mothers’ side nonetheless in
all her disputes, not knowing anything about
of the situation and firmly believing her to be
‘the innocent victim’ when in reality she was
in creating problems where there
had been none and playing one person off against another for the sole purpose of achieving her own usually
rather nefarious goals! I certainly found out about that particular
‘talent’ of hers later on in my own life!
Bullying at school, teenage depression, domineering parent.
I had mostly lived in the background of my Mothers’ life
until we moved to Primrose Hill but now, in the midst of all this uproar and turbulence,
her jaundiced eye fell upon
and the ghastly thought seemed to
strike her like a Lightning-bolt from On High
that other people, wealthy people, people of a certain
‘social standing’ could see
and that I could be holding her back!
I found myself being scrutinised, analysed and of course, falling
drastically short of expectations once again, much like my early days in the Basement!
I was caught,
like a deer
in brilliant headlights just
before the Truck
and splatters its’ entrails all over the road!
I had to be far more ‘aware’ of the way I conducted myself now and be absolutely SURE that my
behaviour was always ‘in keeping’ with our much more prestigious surroundings… apparently
watching! Living with my Mother at Primrose Hill turned out to be rather
like living with a particularly fussy and pretentious Sherlock Holmes, except
and was probably less derogatory!
In reality though, my Mother had only
to blame for most of what she now considered to be my
shortcomings and failings, she was simply reaping what she had sown into my life!
Like most very dominant and extremely controlling personalities, she ended up
‘looking down’ on, and occasionally even
had created! All through my childhood she had slowly but surely
all over my own personality, and thwarted or
any kind of opportunity or freedom I might have had, and indeed should have had
to develop and establish my own personal identity, separate and apart from
her own. She’d kept me ‘imprisoned’ in
thumb and therefore under
control, but always under the guise of
and wanting to
me. Abusers, manipulators and ‘controllers’ almost invariably
isolate their unwitting ‘victims’, separating them from family,
friends and any external influences at all as much as they possibly can,
usually using their own ‘incomparable love’ for that person as an excuse or ‘reason’
for what is actually their tyranny and domination. Sometimes they even demand their ‘loved one’
from everyone else as
of their love, but it’s really NOT about ‘love’ at all,
it’s about power and
control. It’s all about THEM, and their obsessive need to be the
Centre of their victims entire Universe, they have to be EVERYTHING to that person,
POSSESS THEM, body and soul. ‘Ordinary’ love is never enough for them.
My Mothers narcissism meant that it was
absolutely essential to her that I reflect
was, because that was the only way
it was also the only way to be ‘acceptable’
or ‘pleasing’ to her, and it in fact led to the total subjugation of
character and personality so that she could glorify her own. The fact that I was a ‘lesser’,
inferior reflection of her only served to emphasize her own ‘perfection’. The sad thing is that the
person who has grown up constantly subjected to that degree of domination and control doesn’t even
realize what is actually happening to them, or how very wrong it all is,
I know I didn’t. My brother Simon, on one of his brief and
extremely ‘stressed out’ visits to the Basement shortly before we moved,
unwittingly highlighted my as yet unperceived emotional and psychological dilemma by remarking that I
was “just a miniature version of Mum”. Upon seeing my crestfallen face he’d immediately reassured me, saying,
“No, that’s a good thing to be!” not realizing how
the very literal
of his comment actually
‘I’ didn’t exist in any real or meaningful way at all.
Having ‘transplanted’ me into this new ‘fertile’ soil,
this wonderful new environment, my Mother had now however decided that she needed a
version of ‘me’ to emerge,
and preferably quite quickly too!
Apparently I was supposed to immediately
and transmogrify into an absolutely
delightful, self-assured ‘young lady’, the epitome of ‘Class’ and ‘good-breeding’ and of course,
a suitable reflection of her! I think in her rather
imagination she pictured me, as my early teenage years
loomed on the horizon, gracefully emerging from my chrysalis
and becoming an elegantly beautiful Social Butterfly…
someone ‘worthy’ of her ‘Superiority’, Beauty and Charm, someone
she could be immensely proud, and
she could take all the credit! Sadly for her however, unmoved by
lay on the horizon, I remained an ugly, prickly caterpillar,
crawling in a rather ungainly fashion along the branch!
The struggle to find yourself.
Return of troubled boyfriend, extreme animosity on both sides.
Life with a mother convinced of her own perfection.
In her own eyes, and in her own private little World my Mother
seriously thought she was PERFECT,
and that she had been the perfect Mother, so she felt she
this ‘perfect’ creature she was envisaging,
particularly since she had made this magnificent and
extraordinarily sacrificial gesture
of taking me to Primrose Hill with her!
I know she considered herself to have been a perfect Mother
because she told me so herself
much to my astonishment several years later! Even in the early
days in the Basement when I was still quite young, I vividly remember her suddenly standing up and walking
across the room in front of me one evening,
under the burden of her ‘angelic’ nature and
disposition, solemnly bemoaning the fact that “People would insist on putting her up on a pedestal”,
when she was
“only human just like everyone else”.
It was rather an odd statement to say the least,
particularly coming ‘out of the blue’ like that, and I remember being quite perplexed! It had been one of those
times when we were ostensibly
but in reality she was completely
from me, immersed
in her own private little World. If I factored into her thought processes at all it was merely as
and little else. She seemed blissfully unaware of the fact that she actually put
‘up on a pedestal’ every time she found someone else
in some way, which I regret to say she did rather frequently! She was definitely
the sort of person to search her
soul for error or for sin
[the mere idea was preposterous],
but she certainly believed that everyone ELSE should,
She remained utterly convinced that if someone had
in their lives they needed
nothing and no-one else,
and that any desire for friends or the company
of others indicated a ‘weak’ and ‘needy’ character, and a total lack of any
real depths of love and appreciation of her, and all her wonderful qualities!
She was a difficult woman to live with, to put it mildly! The amazing thing
is that I grew up thinking she was ‘charmingly eccentric’,
the despotic narcissist she actually
but then of course I’d been brain-washed
from ‘Day One’ in the Basement into thinking
she was absolutely flawless and wonderful!
Bearing that in mind,
it obviously went without saying [although she certainly made a point of saying it too!] that any ‘hurts’,
faults or inadequacies either Simon or I
had or felt
were ENTIRELY due to our own deeply flawed
[and in my case ‘inferior’] natures, and nothing
whatsoever to do with her, or anything
An obviously unwanted burden throughout my teenage years.
Another peculiarity of my Mothers’ particular mindset was that,
perhaps rather ironically for someone
who had spent her entire life doing exactly as she pleased, she actually considered herself to be
constantly sacrificing herself for the good of others! She saw even the
thing she did for the benefit of someone other
than herself as a wonderfully ‘sacrificial’ and noble act and
considered as positively ‘saintly’ what most parents deem to be their most
– to feed
and clothe their children and provide a home of some kind for them! Her daily portrayal of herself as
a long-suffering, self-sacrificing ‘martyr’ meant that my own ‘inferior’ presence could
to such ‘perfection’! This apparent contrast between the two of us kept
my inadequacies and the fact that I was
to her, constantly at the forefront of my mind, as it evidently was in
Her attitude made it quite clear to me that I should always be profoundly
to her, not only for having ‘kept me’ thus far, but also for
continuing to ‘put up with me’ every day!
Unfortunately for my Mother and all her future dreams
and aspirations, I had no idea how to be
she wanted me to be, nor did I intend to find out! I couldn’t just
a new identity or adopt
a different ‘persona’ as readily as she could…I was living a lie as it WAS, and I was
so very, very TIRED of trying to make
TIRED of trying to please someone who was
to please, she was just
too draining, too demanding, too demoralizing.
I knew how she truly felt about me now, behind that
‘loving’ façade she presented to the World, and occasionally to me. I just couldn’t
anymore, go through
who I was,
that might be… I didn’t
anymore, if indeed I ever
known. As children we take our identities from our
surroundings and the people in them, I’d spent my
formative years in a Children’s Home, where we’d mostly run wild and received very little personal
attention, and at the Basement I’d lived my life as this
person, the one my Mother had created
the one she’d wanted me to be
when pleasing her was all I’d needed to do to make my World
and to be
but how could I
when the real
existed only as an
undeveloped, unexpressed façade -
unknowing and vulnerable, and still just a child?
Without consciously realizing it at the time,
I’d actually made a decision
…I’d drawn a line in the sand…
I might not have known who I was,
but I definitely knew who I WASN’T, and I WASN’T the kind of person she
wanted me to become NOW! If I couldn’t be
going to be ANYONE ELSE either!
I dug in my heels, built an extension onto my ‘barricade’, and started turning a deaf ear to her
…as much as
Several months had gone by and then,
one Saturday morning as I was sitting in the living-room reading, a
movement just outside our front window caught my eye - I looked up, just in time to see
up to our front gate! I was so shocked I felt physically sick. I don’t think my Mother had mentioned Eddie
once since we’d moved, it was as if he had never existed,
but suddenly there he was coming through the front gate!
My heart sank to the floor,
my stomach turned upside down, even my shoulders
as if a great weight had unexpectedly landed on them from a dizzying height.
I was suddenly filled with an icy-cold dread, and somewhere deep inside, I started
myself. I should have
it was all too good to be true!
NOTHING was EVER settled, stable, or secure
with my Mother, she always had to have turmoil, emotion, ‘excitement’ in her life!
Whatever the prevailing emotion was, whether it was GOOD or BAD, happy or sad, never really
seemed to matter all that much, just as long as it was ‘PASSIONATE’, ‘VIBRANT’
I had never felt good about leaving Eddie alone
in that dreadful Basement, but then it hadn’t been my
decision or my choice, but I certainly hadn’t missed
the constant turmoil and drama and had even
begun to enjoy the comparative peace in our new home, it was quieter, more soothing for tautly-stretched, and
already badly frayed nerves. His sudden reappearance in my World,
completely out of the blue like that,
brought me PLUMMETING back down to earth with a JARRING, ground-shaking
, COLOSSAL THUMP!
My Mother had quite obviously known he was coming, she was relaxed and happy, and not
surprised, in fact she had a gloating little smile on her face, and I suddenly knew
she hadn’t told me anything about it
or prepared me
in any way at all for what
could only come as an
shock to me. Now we were spending so much time
together I’d come to realize just how
she could be and recognized these ‘shock tactics’ of hers as one of several methods she
used to underhandedly ‘lash out’ at me if I’d displeased her in some way. I was only a child and still growing
up myself, but I still couldn’t BELIEVE just how incredibly
she was! It was like having a really mean, older sister!
She resented every moment
I spent reading, and if she EVER felt ‘left out’ she made sure I WAS ‘left out’
in some way. No ‘slight’, whether real or IMAGINED, [which most of them actually were]
ever went unpunished! She would search for some reason to launch a sudden verbal
assault on me, roundly abusing me and making
remarks for which there had been absolutely
or provocation, which of course made them all the more hurtful and damaging.
I found out very quickly from whom Simon had picked up his skill and propensity for making
Eddies attitude towards me that morning came as a
unpleasant surprise. He was extremely hostile
and greeted me as if we’d parted on very bad terms.
I was quite shocked and couldn’t understand it at all, he was behaving as if he
actively disliked me!
We might not have got on all that well
in the Basement but we had never actually been at loggerheads, trading threats and
insults the way he and Simon had. I would never have dared!
My main ‘problem’ with him had always been the way he’d behaved towards my Mother, and all
his disgusting ‘unfounded’ allegations about her…I unfortunately
had no idea how misguided
was! I still believed she was a Saint!
Eddie and I had got on well at first, when I was still very small, but then the situation had begun to change
and a wedge had come came between us, I’d had to choose whose
I was on, and of course it was inevitably either my Mothers’ or Simons’, no matter
how many times
I’d actually felt like hitting him
for perpetually shooting his mouth off and antagonizing Eddie!
At that point in my life I thought I was the one bearing the battle
scars of our time together in the Basement, unaware of how tormented a soul
Eddie really was, and how much
was suffering, not only spiritually [because like most military men
he had his own ‘issues’ with God, blaming God for what was actually the result of
mans’ inhumanity to man,
and nothing to do with God at all] but also emotionally
through his relationship with my Mother, and of course physically too. An eleven- year-old
child doesn’t understand about
of these things, I only thought about the different ways he’d hurt
and all the emotional turmoil and heartache he’d
caused my ‘innocent’ Mother and of course Simon, and I held all these things against him in my heart.
God doesn’t want us to be trapped in unforgiveness, it damages us,
holds us back, and prevents us from walking in all He has for us,
but our eyes have to be opened, and we have to perceive and understand many difficult and
often painful things before we can truly forgive... ourselves and others.
Eddies’ life experience had been very different from any of ours,
and a lot more gruesome. We were all
coming from different places in our lives and hearts, and by that I don’t just mean life experience and
backgrounds, I mean emotionally, how differently we all
things. There was no common meeting-ground, no sharing about how we truly
thought or felt about anything
real or meaningful.
We skated on the surface of our
relationships, each holding our own grudges and pains, our own resentments and heartaches,
all unaired, unspoken.
We had all lived
lives…isolated and alone with our individual and often crippling pain.
I sat across the room from them both that day and watched in stunned
silence while he and my Mother spoke
softly to one another, enjoying being together again. She flashed me a smug, self-satisfied little look from
time to time, obviously
with the success of her ‘shock tactics’, and absolutely
in all the attention Eddie was giving her. She was the type of woman who
to have a man around,
loving her, wanting her, needing her,
ALL the time, not just some
of the time as her part-time and elusive Lover was content to be, but I think too that perhaps Eddie still had
a place in her heart, a corner from which even
with her mercenary, self-serving nature, could
evict him! Perhaps she was starting to realize that Eddie at least
truly loved her,
whereas her boss, even though he was physically attracted to her and probably
‘fond’ of her, quite clearly
Whatever the explanation was for Eddie being there, my hopes for a
peaceful, more stable life dissipated like mist on a hot Summers’ day before my profoundly unhappy and
Eddie came around regularly after that, always with the
same brittle, unfriendly attitude towards me, but
not of course towards my Mother, but every time he came I got a little angrier about his attitude, and
a deep-rooted anxiety steadily grew inside, gnawing away at me. They both very deliberately
me from their evidently blossoming relationship. I wasn’t even
on her own
personal little Movie Set. As soon as Eddie left after one of his visits she would
she never talked about him after he’d gone or said anything at all about their relationship…now my ‘role’ really
had ended up on the Cutting-room floor! The past few months
had apparently been some sort of ‘Audition’
I had failed
so I no longer had
to feature in the Movie she called ‘Her new life’. I was
back on the periphery of her World again,
excluded from playing any real part in it. It’s a hurtful and emotionally
way to live, knowing the only person you have in your life doesn’t care
about what you
think or feel,
about anything or anyone, living
daily with the uncertainty of never knowing where you stand or
what might happen to you next. I had an awful feeling that everything was about to go horribly wrong again.
I was right.
After one of his visits my Mother announced in
a particularly harsh, unpleasant tone of voice
that was oddly chilling in itself,
that she “knew I wouldn’t be happy about it but Eddie was moving in,
and that was that”. I felt as though someone had just PUNCHED ME, really hard.
My whole body
from the impact of her words.
I stared at her, dumbstruck. My eyes filled with tears…I wanted to
What would have been the point?
Waves of utter
dread and sorrow crashed down
over me, plunging me immediately to the deeply-furrowed depths of despair.
I was so bitterly disappointed: our new
life had just turned into a repeat of the old only with prettier scenery.
She glowered at me defiantly for a
to say something, and then turned on her heels and
stalked off out of the room. She didn’t care how devastated I was by her decision…
she never HAD cared.
She did exactly what she
did, whatever she wanted to do, regardless of what the eventual
consequences might be to herself or anyone else for that matter,
still ‘living for the day’,
‘the moment’, but always ‘in control’,
always ‘calling the shots’.
I was unbelievably hurt by my Mothers
arbitrary decision and her total indifference to my feelings. Eddie had to have been just about
the LAST person on Earth
I would ever have wanted to live with or even
again and now she was bringing him
to make my life miserable all over again.
Every mean thing he had ever said or done to me
came flooding back…
vividly: how I’d
dreaded going home after School each day, sick with fear and apprehension because
of his unpleasant behaviour and surly demands; his quick, fierce temper if something wasn’t prepared
exactly the way he liked it. He was never happy with anything I did for him or made for him.
His black tea was never the ‘right’ shade of black, the slice of lemon was never the ‘right’ size, if I went to
the shops I’d invariably get the ‘wrong’ thing, if I went to the Chemist I always ‘took too long’.
Life with him had been endlessly sad, disheartening and depressing.
If he felt well enough to cook he would prepare enough food to feed
and after boiling kettle after kettle of hot water I’d have to stand there like a
‘skivvy’ at the kitchen sink washing a mountain of pots, pans, plates, knives, forks, spoons, half of
which he’d reuse again immediately right in front of me! It’s AMAZING how many dishes a man can
use when he’s cooking,
but HE thought it was funny, HE thought
it was what I was there for!
I remembered the afternoon he’d decided
he fancied a soft-boiled egg and had sent me back time after time
to boil egg after egg because it was never exactly the right consistency with the white just firm
and the yolk very soft and runny, and all my Mother had cared about when she got home was the number of
eggs he’d wasted,
not my tears. Yes…I remembered all of it.
Nobody thought about what I went through all those afternoons
when I was alone with him. It didn’t
I thought about all the nights I’d spent crying
with my head buried under my pillows wishing he’d disappear from our lives
FOREVER, that the rows would stop
and maybe we could all be ‘happy’, or if not happy
perhaps there could at least be
but now he was BACK IN OUR LIVES AGAIN -
my Mother had brought him back!
I think I withdrew even more from my Mother emotionally after that,
partitioning off even more aspects of myself and my life, separating them from her, putting them
out of her reach.
She was just too hurtful.
She rode roughshod over
everyone’s feelings except her own. I’d rather foolishly tried to confide in her once,
to share a bit of
my thoughts, my sorrows. It had been a
mistake, one I’d never repeated.
She’d stomped all over me
like an elephant trying to stomp on a mouse
that I had
been unhappy or
any pain or heartache.
that she could
or ‘failed’ me in any way or been the cause of any pain? She had been a
for us both as children” so what ‘problems’ could I possibly have had, what
have felt? She had been absolutely
and I had been shocked and stunned by her response!
How do you LIVE with someone like that?
How do you TALK to someone like that?
You don’t. You can’t.
You stay locked
up inside yourself, unable to talk to anyone.
You read books, immerse
yourself in books, hide in books. You live your life
‘On the Outside, Looking in’.
Emotional and Spiritual shutdown. Letting go of God.
Eddie moved in soon after my Mothers surprise ‘announcement’
and the air was instantly heavy and oppressive, but somehow the blame for it was
My Mother took me aside that very same morning and coldly ‘informed me’ in no
uncertain terms EXACTLY HOW I would behave, and HOW I
would conduct myself in front of Eddie!
It was like being hauled
over the carpet in front of a particularly stern and unpleasant Headmaster, one totally
devoid of human
compassion, but as far as my Mother was concerned she had now ‘programmed’ her little robot, her ‘chattel’
to perform in accordance with her wishes and that was that, problem solved.
She never seemed to attribute
any human emotions to me that her forceful statements and arbitrary declarations
could not and
would not immediately resolve. The hurt, the anger,
that burned inside me were all once again
stifled, buried, suppressed.
stung my eyes
Had I been her employee
perhaps her behaviour might have been acceptable, but I wasn’t her employee,
I was her daughter…somewhere along the
line my feelings should have MATTERED.
In truth though, far from actually
I found myself back where I had started all those years earlier
when I’d first arrived at Eddies’ home in the Basement; I had been an
intruder then and I was an intruder now in my Mothers’
home in Primrose Hill, and on BOTH those occasions it had been
who had made it patently obvious that an ‘unwanted intruder’ was in fact
all I had ever been
in her life!
Unfortunately, just as Simon had done in a not too dissimilar
situation and at much the same age as I was then, I too chose to mentally focus all my anger
and frustration on Eddie, blaming
upon whose shoulders most of the responsibility
for the dreadful trauma, heartache and pain I’d suffered since my earliest days;
but I was still just a child,
I couldn’t blame
she was all I had,
the only one
apart from Simon. I think subconsciously I came to the
only other possible conclusion given such limited ‘options’ i.e.
whatever I couldn’t blame Eddie for HAD to be
my own fault in some way.
had only let me move into her new flat with her because she’d had
she’d made that abundantly clear, and I’d
certainly known for a long time that there was something ‘unacceptable’ and not quite ‘nice’ about me,
she’d always made that pretty obvious too,
so ‘knowing’ all those things I just accepted that
I must simply be getting what I deserved.
Sadly, that was the way I thought in those days…my Mother was
I think to a large extent
I gave up on myself and everything else then.
The hurt was too deep, the pain too great,
and because none of the religious teachings I’d
heard in all the years that had passed since my
‘Rainbow’ experience had ever matched up with the God I had met as a little girl I
subconsciously and very gradually began to let go of The Hand that thankfully
let go of
Just as my Mothers’ lies and inventions had created a different
version of how my early childhood had truly been, so too the teachings of formal orthodox religion spoke
of a different God from the One I had met that day, and
I once again found myself unable to reconcile
my experience with what was being presented to my heart and mind as fact, and even Truth; but in
rejecting their seemingly impotent, uncaring and distant God I unwittingly began to let go of mine
too! Thank God His Precious Holy Spirit still lived on inside me, and
never left me - I would not be here, writing this today if He had!
The God all these people spoke
of was the same God - there IS only One God - but He was being
so terribly misrepresented to an unknowing, unreceptive and largely unbelieving World that I
couldn’t identify with Him. What would be the point of following a God like that? A God Who never
spoke to you yet sat in Judgement watching you stumble and fall? I was mystified. I
still believed, I still thought my God had to be out there
somewhere but over the years I gradually stopped seeing or remembering Him as
He truly WAS and IS, a God Who CARES
about His people, Who WALKS with them day by day,
a God Who not only listens but speaks to
His People TODAY…my GOD, a God of Joy, Peace, Love and Compassion.
My memories of the day of ‘The Rainbow’ began to fade, and I slowly
drifted away from Him and all spiritual things. How could He
help me now? There was no-one there to
my heart was so hurt, so battered,
so confused and so angry and resentful that I shut down emotionally...
even to God.
This leads me to another very important point
we absolutely have to understand
if we want to enter into a relationship with God…He FORCES Himself on NO-ONE!
We have to have
hearts, minds and spirits to
receive from God and there was NOTHING ‘open’ about me then! The Holy Spirit was still living inside me,
but I was totally closed-off…I had ‘switched-off’ to spiritual things.
We cannot and will not EVER receive anything from God or His Holy Spirit that we will not PERMIT ourselves to receive -
God never over-rides our Free Will, our right to choose what we will or will not do.
A closed mind, a closed heart or a rebellious spirit
can NEVER receive from God,
we have to push pride and ‘the self’ to one side if we want to hear from Him.
Oh Lord, Give us open hearts to receive the Pearls that You Pour Forth,
Open minds to do Thy Will, without our will changing Your Course.
Oh Lord, Grant us impunity to the wounds and tears of the flesh,
And Father, help us put You first, and to always do our best.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
During that period of my life I only wanted
– to be left alone.
My need for Solitude inevitably increased my sense of isolation, but there really
no other choice. I could only find
when there was nobody there
to let me down, nobody there to betray, assault or deride me. I entered even deeper into the mental
‘Sanctuary’ I had created so long ago in my mind when I was that terrified little child who had been abandoned
by her Mother…my Sanctuary of emotional detachment, of living
‘On the Outside, Looking in’.
I had lost the ability to completely block
everything out during the drama of my early years in the Basement
but I was older now, and I had to find a way to control
or at least ‘manage’ the heartbreak of my daily life,
limit the damage
it could do to me, because it IS heart-breaking
to feel so dreadfully unimportant and so completely alone,
particularly for one so
young. Actual physical isolation was well-nigh impossible - I could seldom even have any privacy,
so isolating myself mentally was how I dealt with the complexities of my life. It was my way of
each day relatively intact. Solitude and books, lots and lots of books,
they enabled me to
in my Sanctuary.
Ultimately, I became ‘closed-off’ in far too many areas of my life,
particularly in relationships. I’m sure I looked perfectly normal, and always appeared
to be cheerful and outgoing, I had been
‘required’ to exhibit ALL those desirable characteristics, but the
reality of my life then was that I was
the one my Mother had liked and created,
but my own now,
so detached from everyone and everything that I actually
like that little robot my Mother seemed to think I was.
I ‘pleased her’ only in ways I was really obliged to,
and apart from that I lived alone behind my façade, my barricade.
It was the only way I knew
how to live,
the only way I could
life with her,
from it all, as if none of it actually
It was utterly surreal…
my own life
was passing me by every day like some kind of screenplay and I wasn’t even
participating in it
in any real sense of the word.
Now that I’m a Mother myself I can scarcely believe the
psychological and emotional harm my Mother not only caused us
but also the
she so uncaringly and negligently exposed us to as children! I think it’s quite
that after everything she had said and done to me over the years I could
believe that my Mother was ‘wonderful’ and ‘perfect’
but I did,
which certainly proves beyond a shadow of doubt how effective a
combination of brain-washing indoctrination and bullying can be, particularly when used on the young and
helpless, and those who are already profoundly emotionally traumatised! As parents we are supposed
to protect our children, not crush and dominate them or be a permanent blight on their lives!
Narcissists however are a Law unto themselves, they are their own Gods,
and nothing else matters but them, their ‘glory’ must always shine,
their ‘will’ prevail! They are EXACTLY the kind of people who will
happily “Scrawl in large letters, obliterating page after page in
YOUR Book – YOUR LIFE, filling it with their own empty, self-centred,
self-glorifying words and feelings!”
Don’t let them do it!
LIVE YOUR LIFE in a way I didn’t get to live mine!
My Mother was of course,
with her latest perceived ‘Victory’. She had a man
permanently in her life again,
one who always had, and always would ‘adore’ her!
I’m sure that in her mind she even
saw it as ‘striking back’ at her boss, her errant Lover, scoring points in a battle he had never
entered into anyway! She had been the one to plan ‘a future’ together,
he never had! Strangely, this time around there was never even the
pretence that she, Eddie and I were in any way ‘a family’ in this our ‘new’ life –
we were just three people who lived together, Eddie and my Mother on one side, and me on the other, but as long as I
‘knew my place’
and stayed in it
and behaved in a manner that was both ‘expected’ and
‘required’, my Mother seemed resigned to my presence. Eddie and I lived ‘at a distance’ from each other.
We were there and yet not there in each others lives. We were civil to one
another but there was no actual
of any kind between us. His obvious dislike and blatant
hostility effectively kept me at arms’ length, as did my own hurt, anger and disappointment, but now,
because of his inexplicable animosity and the fury and pain of rejection it stirred
up in me I rapidly developed a HUGELY intensified dislike of him too!
Being “there and yet not there
in each others lives” was just another form of being ‘on the Outside, Looking in’ as far as I was concerned,
and I was used to that,
but the thing that strikes me now is that
I was a child,
and I was
surely somebody could have
and should have made an effort to reach out to me? Shouldn’t
somebody have tried to heal the wounds of the past, and tried to
me from their relationship and from what could have and
should have been
But I know why
didn’t happen! I learned the hard way that it was a
favourite and highly successful
of my Mothers’ to turn one party against another by skilfully sowing seeds
of lies and innuendoes that caused
hatred and division with the sole purpose of putting
herself in a stronger position or a ‘better’ light! She did it to friends, work associates and even
within her own family during her teenage years and beyond, and she
certainly did it to all of us too! After years of observing her maliciously
‘taint’ and destroy other relationships I'm sure she was behind Eddies’ anger and hostility towards me.
I believe she told him she had only left him ‘because of me’ and that she would
'never have done it otherwise’.…it’s the only explanation that makes any sense
and certainly explains why he wouldn’t even talk to me the day we moved!
She certainly wouldn’t have admitted that she’d left him to
marry her rich lover and only wanted him back because of the abysmal failure of her scheme! It
explains why she was so content to leave the relationship between the two of us as distant and strained as it
was, and ‘the family’ so dysfunctional and divided…if we never talked to one another we would never find
out the truth! I discovered eventually that it had never been her ‘privacy’ she’d been
so zealously protecting – it had been all her secrets and lies!
Eddie loved Primrose Hill, he would gaze out of our
front window at the beautiful view and pronounce it to be
“a little bit of Heaven” which of course it
particularly after the Basement, but when I
looked out of the window I often thought of
still living in a dreadful area
and struggling daily to earn enough money to support his growing family. He had no work skills and could only get
low-paid or commission-only jobs,
life was an endless battle to survive while
had all this space and a beautiful view - it didn’t seem
right. I missed Simon. I felt so
very sad about everything that had happened to him. He visited us occasionally, always nervy, stressed and
irritable. Why wouldn’t he be? The lovely setting hadn’t exactly turned our home into
a happy one either, too much had happened, too many unresolved and hidden
issues stood between us all, too much murky water had passed under the bridge that spanned our lives together.
I lived on the
of my Mothers’ relationship with Eddie, on the
of her life - we lived as we had
lived ‘separately’, pretending everything was
and everyone was
I suppose Eddie and my Mother were for a while
but I don’t think it lasted very long, nothing between them had fundamentally changed. He still struggled with
his pain and drug problems and she struggled to keep us all afloat in our lovely, but expensive surroundings.
She and I ‘talked’ to the same limited degree we always had given all her ‘restrictions and requirements’, and
we undoubtedly would have appeared to have a ‘good’ relationship to ‘outsiders’ who are easily fooled anyway not
suspecting falsehood or pretence in such matters, but I never forgot
of seeing the appalling resentment
in her eyes or feeling her hate-laden hostility the day we moved, the memory wouldn’t
STAY ‘buried’ even though I kept trying to push it to the back of my mind,
telling myself I was wrong.
I could still SEE it, FEEL it.
Any time she felt obliged to go wearily through the motions of
‘showing me love’ I would remember her face that day and shudder inside. Perhaps it was still
too recent, or perhaps it was because it’s simply impossible
to ‘UN-SEE’ something you
have seen no matter how much you want to. It became yet another instance of
my mind telling me to believe one thing when my heart
and actual experience KNEW
that something completely the opposite was true - the only difference was that
this time I was trying to lie to myself, not seeking to perpetuate other peoples’ lies.
Sometimes though I
to play along with her ‘loving’ charade,
to believe the lie…I was a child, and ‘pretence’ made life more bearable for a while.
It was a hiding-place, like Solitude.
I think something deep inside me was
by my Mother during our first few months at Primrose Hill,
particularly since the existence and depth
of her extreme antipathy towards me had been confirmed and even
cemented by her attitude the day she’d told me she was moving Eddie in,
which of course had been followed by her imperious demands as she’d ‘Laid Down The Law’ and DICTATED
how I had to THINK and FEEL and BEHAVE.
How can anyone LIVE like that? What do you do with
particularly when you’re just a child and have no-one else
but an iron-willed domineering Mother in your life? Those were
unhappy years for me even
though Primrose Hill was beautiful. I felt so incredibly hurt
and sad inside but of course buried it, as I had to bury any
emotion that wasn’t ‘allowed’. I had no ‘right’ to be unhappy. I couldn’t
show how I felt. It was ‘ungrateful’, ‘despicable’,
to be anything other than profoundly appreciative and loving…
‘worshipping’ my self-sacrificing Mother for her saintly nobility in supporting us all.
My whole existence seemed superficial and meaningless to me. Without purpose or function.
I didn't have a 'role' - a part to play. I was just there. I was suicidally depressed quite often in those
days. I just couldn’t see the point of struggling through a life that seemed to consist of nothing
but uncertainty and fear. Nobody even remotely
about any of my problems at School or my soul-destroying battle with Depression,
or any of the other fears and insecurities I had at the time, all the anxieties and woes that beset
every young persons’ heart.
Just keep smiling. Just look happy.
Just get through another day…that’s how
Whether it was out of guilt or not I
don’t know but my Mother suddenly decided to buy me a dog. I’d wanted one
for years and now that we lived opposite a park we were certainly in the ideal location to have one. Typically
of her of course
decided on the breed of dog I would have even though it was supposed to be for
She still controlled every aspect of my life.
Small, black French Poodles were the HEIGHT of fashion at the time - THE dog
to be seen with – unfortunately it was just about the last dog
wanted to be seen with!
I liked German Shepherds but of course she wouldn’t hear of it!
She scoured the evening newspapers, found an ‘ad’ she thought looked promising and off we went.
God must have been watching over me that day because much to
disgust the little ‘Poodle puppy’ turned out to be a fluffy
little mutt without an ounce of anything even
resembling a Poodle anywhere to be seen in him! He
exceedingly cute however, very sweet and cuddly,
and she very reluctantly bought him for me despite his obvious lack of pedigree! I
my little dog
and having him helped me a lot but a cute little puppy can’t heal the pain of an aching heart…you’re
ultimately still alone no matter how much your little dog loves you.
I think the ONLY good thing in my life
then apart from my little dog was that I had chanced upon a Sport
I not only enjoyed but was actually
and that was Tennis. It was a relatively minor Sport on the
International Scene in those days, attracting none of the fame, prestige or money that it does today but
‘Wimbledon’ was already
competitor wanted to win. A gift for
any Sport seems to bring a certain degree of popularity along with it so if nothing else my success at least
bought me a little respite from the worst of the bullies, my mini fan-club seemed to keep them at bay to some
extent particularly since a few of my ‘supporters’ were large and very senior Sixth-formers! Tennis was just
about the only thing I
excel at in School, I wasn’t exactly a Shining Star like Simon! I went to a
very large Secondary Modern All-Girls School, probably the equivalent of todays’ Comprehensive Schools. Classes
were large with many disruptive students in them most of whom were
more interested in causing trouble
than learning anything - bitchiness and jealousy invariably prevailed! I persevered with my Tennis though and
I eventually became School Champion and won my ‘Colours’. I suppose it might sound strange but my minor
‘celebrity’ status and the limited degree of popularity it bought me with pupils and teachers alike meant
very little to me. It was
my loneliness or isolation. I played Tennis because I
it and could
myself in it not to win trophies or draw attention to myself, and in any event I knew
exactly how meaningless and fleeting admiration of that sort
There were one or two girls there who probably would have been good friends
had I been at all encouraging but I wasn’t, I was too
friendship or open myself up to it. Solitude was
‘safer’. I was probably about thirteen by then, and
just to add to my woes had unfortunately developed a HUGE crush on my Geography Master - yet another painful
and soul-destroying event that could most definitely have led to a very premature
sexual encounter had I not decided to
to that ‘still small voice within’! A lot of the High School girls were
proudly sexually active, a few of them I suspect
and a crowd of them, mostly
Sixth-formers would go down to his house at week-ends. Even though I was younger than the others I was invited
to go along too, but I refused. I knew deep down inside, beyond a
shadow of doubt, that it would have been
a very BIG mistake!
Our lives at Primrose Hill revolved around Eddies pain and my Mothers
never-ending and increasingly bitter
complaints. She still came out with the most horrible comments about her boss,
people of his faith and
she worked with
She was adamant that they were all
people even though I had never seen
of them being anything other than sweet and kind to her, particularly the
lovely little old Hungarian lady who sometimes gave me some of her married daughters clothes and occasionally
invited us round to dinner at her flat. She was an
cook and made a
Hungarian Goulash and a Hungarian Coffee Cream Cake that
was absolutely out of this World! I’d never tasted anything like it! She was a
warm and compassionate person and I really liked her.
She was like the ‘Granny’ I’d never had.
With money consistently being such a huge problem,
I invariably felt guilty and uncomfortable about anything
my Mother spent on me, even on ‘essentials’. It was the main reason I came to dread Birthdays, I found them
too stressful and nerve-wracking to actually
I could never be
enough, grateful enough to make my Mother feel that her
ENORMOUS ‘sacrifice’ in buying me a gift of some sort was at all
worthwhile so I was usually relieved when the day was
and all the forced ‘gaiety’ and ‘celebrations’ could stop!
As a Mother myself now I sometimes reflect upon just how
those usually rather modest gifts must have been that
she felt they warranted such abundant
praise and gratitude, but even when I was just a little girl she had always made a great song and dance
about any little thing she did for me or bought for me. She invariably decided what I wanted or needed
and my part was merely
with her decision and PRAISE,
and appreciate her wonderful 'thoughtfulness’
of whether I actually
whatever she had
decided upon or not! She would also ‘nobly’ and quite arbitrarily decide that I should eat a particular
type of food, insist on buying it for me and then complain bitterly
about how expensive it was and the time she had to spend preparing it! I very soon
reached the point where I didn’t want her to buy me anything at all
and did everything I could to discourage her!
Nothing was worth all the fuss!
Knowing all this I’m sure my reader can well imagine just
how appalled I was when she ‘announced’ one day that she intended to buy me an
entire outfit of clothes
for my upcoming fourteenth birthday!
My heart sank! I was horrified!
When the ‘big’ day finally arrived I awoke with the usual Birthday apprehension,
what lay ahead. My Mother had that air of grim determination which usually meant
nothing good would happen that day! It was entirely the wrong attitude
for a supposedly ‘happy’ Birthday jaunt! To my surprise, when we set off we didn’t head for any
of her usual shopping haunts but instead took a
bus to a well-known but rather disreputable Street Market some distance away. We had never been there before and
it being an unusually hot day for Spring I soon grew quite tired and despondent trudging around Stall after
Stall looking for… I had no idea WHAT! It wasn’t
and I didn’t see a single thing
We had never had money for expensive clothes so I neither looked for nor expected ‘nice’
or ‘trendy’ things, but even lacking any particular discernment in that area I could see that the clothing there
‘cheap and nasty’! None of that seemed to bother my Mother however, and by the time we had
been through every stall at least
and I wanted nothing more than to go home and forget the whole
thing, she decided we were buying SOMETHING
of whether I wanted it or not! She selected
a HIDEOUS, shapeless, foam-lined
bright green coat I loathed and an equally
shapeless dress with thick yellow and brown vertical stripes on it that I
either, and ‘nobly’ decided she was going to buy BOTH of them for me
DESPITE my fervent protests!
I couldn’t believe it – it was an absolute NIGHTMARE!
I only ever wore trousers and T-Shirts and
had absolutely NO use for a dress, or the type
of coat you could only wear
with a dress, but now I was frostily ‘required’ not only to
‘DECIDE to LIKE
them’ but also be profoundly grateful
for her extraordinary generosity in buying them for me!
I would SO MUCH rather have gone without, which ironically
enough is exactly what I did end up doing the following year on my fifteenth birthday!
Not long after that Eddies’ divorce from his first
wife came through and he married my Mother. I think divorcing his first wife must have been one of the concessions
he’d had to make before my Mother would let him move in because I know his religious beliefs certainly
hadn’t changed, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen
such an unhappy or reluctant Bridegroom since the day she forced Simon to marry his
girlfriend! Needless to say, neither Simon nor I were invited, but I was quite taken aback by the absolutely
FOUL moods they were both in when they got back from the Registry Office!
She was LIVID, and virtually had
coming out of her ears as she vehemently insisted that Eddie had said
he took her “as his AWFUL wedded wife” on purpose!
She had forced him into it after all, forced
him to go against his religious beliefs and marry her, but at the end of the day I think the only thing that
mattered to her was that
after all the men, all
the affairs, all the plotting and all the YEARS of waiting,
she had actually got SOMEONE to
Worsening addiction, and failing health. Leaving school at 15.
Late one night Eddie was in terrible pain and had already used up
all his prescribed medication for the day.
I knew his next prescription could only be picked up the following day and realized it would mean my Mother
would have to make yet another trip to the late-night Dispensary in Central London.
She absolutely hated
going there so I volunteered to go for her. It was a well-known 24hr Pharmacy, all the addicts used it because
on the stroke of midnight you could collect the next days’ prescription. My ‘good deed’
led to what turned out to be one of the most chilling experiences of my life!
I arrived there at about two minutes to twelve [midnight].
It being so late my Mother had given me money for a Taxi.
I climbed out of the Cab and nearly collided with a
man who looked as if he’d stepped straight out of a Horror Movie! He just stood there in the middle of the
pavement, staring blankly with dark, unseeing eyes at the large Clock hanging outside the Store. His clothes
were torn and dirty and streaked with both fresh and dried vomit. His thick black hair stood out in hard, spikey,
unwashed tufts and he was muttering angrily under his breath as his fingers traced the time showing on the huge
Clock-face above him down onto his non-existent wristwatch and his befuddled mind desperately tried to
work out if it was midnight yet or not.
I gave him as wide a berth as I possibly could and stepped into the
large front foyer that led directly into the Pharmacy.
Addicts in varying states of consciousness were slumped
against every wall, while others stood swaying unsteadily in a long, filthy, ragged line that led through the
door all the way up to the Dispensing Counter where others already lay, passed out on the floor.
of them, all heart-breaking, pitiful remnants of the people
they had once been. It was an
sight…one I shall never forget.
Fortunately, one of the Pharmacists saw me standing there
undoubtedly looking every bit as shocked as I felt, and he called me forward as if I was collecting a
prescription that had already been handed-in. I was grateful beyond words and couldn’t get out of there fast
enough. I never volunteered to go again.
Eddies’ health was steadily deteriorating again and my Mother
told me he had been complaining about a nagging
pain he kept getting across his shoulders. She had decided it was nothing more than a touch of rheumatism and
that he was making a fuss about nothing but after a while he insisted on seeing a Doctor,
which turned out to
be just as well because he began having the first of what turned into a series of heart-attacks whilst hooked up
to the ECG machine
in the Doctors’ surgery!
Not long after that my Mother managed to get him accepted into the
Rehabilitation Unit of a well-known Hospital that specialized in the treatment of War-wounded and disabled
Ex-Servicemen and there he DID finally overcome his addiction.
The phantom pain hadn’t magically vanished
however, so he still had to be kept on strong medication but this was
It was clear that the only way to help him in the long-term was to find and remove the source of his Phantom Pain, so
the Hospital Physicians decided they should recut the stump of his missing leg to see if that would fix the
problem. They had performed similar operations successfully in the past but Eddie had distinct reservations
about it because he’d had the stump operated on before with no beneficial results whatsoever, but because of
their considerable experience and the fact that they were widely-acknowledged ‘experts’ in the field he decided
to go ahead with the operation.
Initially, as had happened previously he didn’t feel any real improvement, but
as the wound slowly healed and he underwent several weeks of rehabilitation and convalescence he began to
experience considerably less pain, so much so that he was
eventually put on milder, and non-addictive medication.
Sadly though, all those years of
intense pain and drug-addiction along with a poor diet and extremely unhealthy
living-conditions had taken their toll…Eddies’ body had simply been through too much.
Just when his final period
of rehabilitation and convalescence was nearly over he had another more serious heart-attack that was soon
followed by a third which left him very weak and frail. After one of his regular check-ups a few weeks
later my Mother pressed his Doctor for information about his general state of health
but all the doctor would say was that Eddie “would not make old bones”.
Since Eddie now needed constant care my Mother decided it would be best
if I left School and looked after him during the day. I think she fondly imagined that given such a
again, and I would instantly be transformed into a
devoted and loving Nurse/Companion for him,
of which happened needless to say! Our relationship had deteriorated
far too much
for that to have been
at all feasible,
and only my Mother would have imagined otherwise! She had such
way of looking
at things. Although she herself had been largely responsible for creating
the very real division between Eddie and I it was apparently up to ME
– a truculent fifteen-year-old to rectify the situation!
Oh Yes! THAT was going to happen!
I didn’t object to leaving School to look after Eddie though,
I suppose I was like any other teenager by then, moody and introspective…I didn’t really care much about
anything at all! My grades were mostly pretty average at School but my prolific reading certainly paid off when
it came to English Language /English Literature, and History. I still had all the usual problems with bullies
of course and had been physically attacked on a number of occasions,
once actually in the Classroom
and the constant stress both at home and School undoubtedly
took its toll of me too, so much so that I began playing truant a lot, much
to my Mothers astonishment! I had never exactly been the
‘rebellious’ type but some mornings I just flatly refused to go, and at that age there was nothing she could do
to make me! The Truancy Officer had actually called in at our flat once, luckily
I’d been talking to my Mother on the phone when she’d arrived at the door so I’d handed
the receiver over to her. My Mother spoke to her for quite a while, then the woman
left without saying anything other than
I’ve no idea what my Mother said to her but whatever it was it
seemed to have worked! I expect she told the Official what she had in mind about taking me out of School to
look after Eddie but just hadn’t bothered discussing with
yet! As far as I recall Eddie was in
Hospital while all this was going on. I can’t say I felt that I would be walking away from a promising future
if I left School early, I wasn’t excelling in any particular subject, so I didn’t think it
I didn’t have Simons’ brilliant mind so I didn’t think I mattered. I had never been
foolish enough to think my success at Tennis actually
anything either because I had always known
there was no chance of being able to pursue the Sport beyond School level to see if I had the talent to go any
further. Everything eventually boiled down to money, and that
was always in short supply in a one income
home. I think I was just under fifteen years old when I actually ‘officially’ stopped going to School.
I don’t know what was going on in my Mothers’
relationship with her boss at the time but I remember my fifteenth birthday all too well!
It fell on a normal week day and my Mother hadn’t bothered buying anything
for me ahead of time, she just told me rather impatiently before she left for work that morning that she would
nip out at lunchtime and buy a small gift for me and also bring in some little cup-cakes from her local Bakery
that evening. It sounded feasible since she worked in an Arcade that had a variety of
very nice shops in it so unusually for me
I actually started looking forward to it,
mostly because I was taking care of Eddie
full-time by then and every day seemed to be extraordinarily long and depressing. Evening finally came… six
o’clock, seven o’clock and moments before eight o’clock she arrived in a Taxi
in a RAGE!
She pushed past me as I opened the front
door for her and stormed straight off into her bedroom
carrying a couple of shopping bags! As she
her bedroom door shut
in front of my astonished face she snarled
that she “hadn’t had a chance to get anything for me but maybe she would at the week-end”,
and that was that!
I could hear her ranting on at poor Eddie about something that had
happened at work, I couldn’t quite make out what, but whatever
it was it had quite obviously totally incensed her!
She hadn’t even calmed down by the week-end and was
stomping around in a
temper… needless to say I didn’t bother mentioning my Birthday!
I don’t suppose I was a very brilliant ‘Care-giver’,
I was probably quite inept. I didn’t know anything about
looking after an invalid, nor did I receive any particular guidance or training, I just basically made Eddie
whatever he wanted to eat or drink and emptied his commode whenever necessary, but at least he had somebody
there with him during the day. It was better than
better than being left there by himself, and that’s
probably the only good thing you could say about it! We weren’t
we were just
…together…yet alone. I never spent a moment more than I had to with him - I hadn’t yet
seen the truth - that he was the injured party in their relationship,
not my Mother.
He was hurting in
so many ways that I didn’t see or understand, but I was too young and too immersed in my own sorrows.
A few months after my sixteenth birthday Eddie had
his final heart attack and died at the age of fifty-five.
He had been admitted to Hospital a few days earlier following
a mild stroke, but his doctor had assured us it
was just a precautionary measure. The night-nurse for his Ward rang early one morning,
long before dawn. My Mother hadn’t heard the phone so I had answered it somewhat groggily.
The Nurse had assumed she was speaking
to my Mother and said Eddie was gravely ill and his life was hanging in the balance. She said she would phone
back as soon as there was any more news.
I went through to my Mothers room to wake her up but stood for a moment
watching her sleeping peacefully wondering how on earth I could tell her what was happening, then the phone rang
again and with the bedroom door being open she heard it and got up to answer it.
She walked straight past
me without even noticing that I was standing next to her bed in the darkness. A cold shiver ran down my spine as
I rushed forward and told her quickly that a Nurse from the Hospital had phoned and said Eddie had collapsed.
As she stood with the receiver at her ear
I watched the expression on her face change, and it was obvious what
the news was. I was dumbfounded, totally shocked.
There was a crippling
when thought and effort were required for the simplest of moves and gestures. I felt hollow,
just a void without the vaguest resonance of even a distant
sound, then gradually I became aware of someone talking.
They sounded so far away,
but it was my Mother speaking to someone on the phone...
She finished talking to him and then sent a telegram to Simon,
who had just moved house and didn’t have a phone.
A whole deluge of emotions I couldn’t make any sense of washed over me.
My Mother said nothing at all. She put down the phone, went through to her bedroom
to dress and then sat motionless waiting for her boss to arrive, which he did quite quickly.
In the meantime, I just stood there, still right next to the telephone.
I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. I was stunned.
None of us had been expecting him
he had been getting
…stronger not weaker.
Death is a devastating blow - we are powerless to prevent it.
There is nothing we can do to
Eddie had said at the beginning of that week that he thought he was going to die,
but we had all shrugged it off, dismissing it as nothing more than his normal morbid pessimism. It had happened
while we were wheeling him across the Hospital Car-Park towards the ‘Admissions Dept’ shortly after he’d had
he had stared up at the dark, sombre building
and said softly in his broken English “I don’t think so that I shall come out of this place”.
I’d been shocked by his words and deeply moved by the tears I’d
noticed sliding slowly, silently down his cheeks.
I’d immediately stopped and bent over him. I'd tried to
reassure and comfort him but my words had sounded empty and hollow even in my own ears and he’d pulled away
from me, rejecting my clumsy efforts to console him.
I’d felt so awful, so inept, but I’d
no idea what to say, the words just wouldn’t come.
My Mother had been pushing his wheelchair and she and
Simon had been completely engrossed in conversation until the moment they saw Eddie suddenly recoil from me,
then they’d both
demanded to know what was going on! When I told them what he had said they too
spoke softly to him for a few moments, even Simon.
Eddie didn’t reject him.
I’ve never forgotten how terribly sad and lonely he looked that night.
It never even occurred to me that he might be right.
The guilt that follows bereavement the need to forgive ourselves
This is always the hardest part of my life to write about.
The death of any close family member invariably
triggers a great deal of soul-searching, we examine ourselves and our consciences, and scrutinize every aspect
of our behaviour towards them, both past and recent. Emotional outbursts, simmering resentments, or long-held
grudges, no matter how justified they may have seemed at the time, appear mean and unworthy in the light of our
We are left with the burden of our guilt,
the pain of all the things we left unsaid - left
facing the cold, harsh reality of a life in which we will never be able to say “I’m sorry” or
“I didn’t really mean it”. It haunts us, we are unable to forget it, or to forgive ourselves.
to realize I had never even
Eddie for giving me a home all those years ago,
when I was just a little girl. It had been
home, and taking us both in had been
not my Mothers. It was a sacrifice that had cost him so much more
than he could ever have imagined it would.
It had never even occurred to me that maybe I
about Eddie, that perhaps he had scraped out a place for himself in
heart too until he was DEAD, and then it was
too late…too late to forgive
and to ask him to forgive
I was left feeling like some inhuman monster because part of me had been
that the end to
had finally come. I had lost the only father-figure I had ever
in my life but couldn’t make sense of
of the conflicting emotions that seemed to be waging a private war of
their own in my heart.
Had I actually cared about someone I had sometimes hated,
and often feared? How did I really FEEL about Eddie? Why hadn’t I cried? I didn’t UNDERSTAND
myself! Everything was too complicated, too confusing.
Laying our heartaches and pain at the foot of the Cross.
We look across our troubled lives
And see so many tears,
So many different heartaches,
So many different fears.
Often we’ve never given God
A chance to make us well,
But kept locked up within us
The truth of our private hell.
And so we accept as inevitable
That we suffer for this and for that,
That’s why we look for the slap in the face,
And the hand that keeps pushing us back.
But didn’t Christ die to deliver us
From these tormenting prison cells,
Or is it that though He’s forgiven us,
We’ve never forgiven ourselves?
© Sylvia Darling 2017
Behold My nail-pierced Hands child,
See the holes in My Feet,
Realize what I suffered for you
To free you from Satan’s deceit.
Look for Me in the Word child,
If you seek you will surely find,
I offer you not enslavement,
But peace for your troubled mind.
In Me you’ll find fulfilment,
You’ll discover Compassion and Love,
Turn your back on the lies of a sinful World
And reach out to God above.
You need not suffer the emptiness,
Nor feel alone anymore,
Your Messiah stands here waiting,
I’m knocking at your door.
© Sylvia Darling 2017
I carried the pain of Eddies’ life and ours
buried deep inside me for years until I finally found
absolution and peace, and that happened when I discovered once again the wonderful God I had met outside
the Children’s Home when I was just a tiny toddler, standing awestruck staring up at His Glorious Rainbow.
[See Chapter One – The Rainbow]
full of Warmth, Love, Understanding and Compassion. The God who loved
me, with all my faults and imperfections, me with all my
inadequacies…the God who didn’t care about any of those things,
but who simply wanted me to know Him and love Him,
to learn about Him, and walk daily by His side once more, as we were all created to do.
Mothers spiteful and bizarre behaviour, adopting new personas!
I’ll never forget standing in the Doctor’s office at the Hospital,
a few hours after Eddies death. A Hospital physician was being not only
but also appallingly
to my Mother, making belittling and disparaging comments and actually
verbally insulting her
for refusing to allow Eddies’ body to be used for Scientific
Research or Organ Transplants - something Eddie himself had
always been against because of his religious beliefs.
It was dreadfully upsetting,
and I became so distressed that I started to shake from head to foot, completely uncontrollably,
I suppose because of the shock.
Thankfully Simon had gone in with us, he was absolutely
livid and turned on the Doctor ferociously, roundly insulting and abusing him for his
The Doctor exited
choice! It was one of the very few times I
grateful for Simons’ quick-temper and his devastating ability to verbally reduce
who offended him to a semi-gelatinous state!
Immediately after that awful scene my Mother insisted
I go in with her to see Eddies’ body and while we were there she bent over him and
gave him a ‘Farewell’ kiss on the lips.
She looked at me coldly and told me I
ought to kiss him too, but I was horrified and refused.
I’ve never liked to touch
dead – birds, flies, dogs, cats
and definitely didn’t want to touch a human body,
but she became so
that I felt I had no choice.
I quickly bent over him and kissed his icy cold, waxy forehead.
The experience was every bit as horrible as I had thought
it would be…I felt physically sick.
The same woman who had so traumatised
me as a toddler that I had collapsed, and quite literally nearly died of fright,
once again callously and very deliberately caused me even more
psychological and emotional harm!
I don’t know if she was punishing me in some way for not taking
care of him, or
her reasons were for making me do it, all I do know
is that she made the whole experience
so much more
than it ever needed to be, but I actually do think it was
malicious and that she once again had a perverse need for
She was that sort of woman…if she hurt,
someone else was going to hurt MORE! She not only
to get her ‘pound of flesh’ but also EVERYTHING had
to be done the way she wanted it to be done
I couldn’t even say
in my own way,
in my own way. I suffered from the most
they were so terrifying I was afraid to go to sleep at night,
yet she still considered herself to be a tender-hearted and
considerate person, while I forever remained the ‘villain of the piece’
because I hadn’t wanted to kiss a cold, dead body.
I would often catch her looking at me as if she hated me after
that, it was as if she couldn’t ever forgive me for my evil and appalling sin…
whatever it was.
[Please note there is a final tribute to Eddie at the end of Part Three
plus an acknowledgement of the service and sacrifices made by all Members of the Armed Forces and
their families in Part Four.]
The days before Eddies funeral were difficult.
My Mothers behaviour became more bizarre and ‘over-the-top’
every day, as if she was determined to stir up as much
turmoil and angst
as humanly possible. She
hostility from every pore,
for everything that had happened. She shed very few tears but would indulge in the most
outward displays of ‘grief’ imaginable, behaving as if
in life could possibly
now that Eddie, “ The Great Love Of Her Life” had gone!
She would position herself melodramatically in front of his picture on the mantle-piece
and just stand there
for what seemed like
staring devotedly at his face and sighing deeply.
I was actually quite astounded the first time
I saw her do it…I couldn’t help but think that if she’d ever looked
at him like that when he was alive he’d have died a much happier man!
Now of course I realize she was merely immersing herself
in what she had evidently decided was to be her
role in Life –
“The Tragically Bereft Widow Of A Fallen War Hero”.
It was actually the way she described herself after his death,
talking as if the Second World War had
ended just a day or two before…
you could understand people looking somewhat puzzled!
The funeral itself was of course distressing as all funerals
inevitably are, but my Mother squeezed every bit of soul-wrenching drama she possibly
could out of it, behaving with enormous dignity and posing nobly as the
“Tragic Widow…all alone”.
She made sure she
'all alone' by
to share the same car as Simon his wife and myself. It was a very
public and very deliberate slap in the face…my Mothers spiteful way
of telling us both that we were ‘unworthy’ of either her or Eddie.
It seemed a long journey but probably wasn’t, and I remember Simons’ wife breaking
the heavy silence by commenting sourly “Well, at least
Sylvia’s not crying” to which Simon replied sombrely, “Why should she?”
He understood the complexities of the scenario being played out before us all too well,
whereas I was still shocked and confused, and
I couldn’t cry.
My Mother wore a heavy black veil and thick black
mourning clothes for some time after the funeral, and even insisted on travelling to work
on a bus
dressed like that! Needless to say, everybody stared at
her in amazement, people just didn’t do that in London in the 60’s, particularly not
when using Public Transport! Before then she had taken a Taxi to work every morning but she announced that
this magnificent ‘sacrificial’ gesture on her part was “to honour Eddie and show
how much he meant to her”. All in all, it was a
performance! This was the Era of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Mary Quant!
she had wafted into her Office at around ten o’clock in the morning when
started punctually at 9am,
including her boss,
in fact he usually got there
everyone else and opened up the place!
however, felt it befitting for a person of her ‘stature’ and after all, she
‘work late’! She’d always had
delusions of grandeur of course and played the role of an ‘almost’ Aristocrat who had fallen on hard times…a
member of the ‘landed gentry’ just without the land or the ‘gentry’, but now that this was combined with
her ‘Tragically Bereft Widow’ routine she became even
difficult to live with
and virtually impossible to please!
A rather surprising incident occurred about two weeks after Eddies’ funeral that
caused me to wonder just how sincere her
She received a phone call from
a Polish gentleman one morning who said he had seen the notice of Eddies death in the Polish Newspaper and
that he had known him “back home in Poland”. They spoke briefly on the phone for a few moments then much to
my amazement I heard my Mother inviting him over to the flat that evening! Within moments of his arrival it
was blindingly obvious to me that he hadn’t known Eddie at all, he dodged
even the most basic enquiries about Eddie and his family in Poland and was
evasive when I tried to get detailed information of
any kind out of him! He concentrated on
charming my Mother while I concentrated on trying to pin him down to giving a direct answer
to a direct question! He was clearly a conman on the look-out for a rich widow,
even I could tell that at Sixteen,
but my Mother had already decided he had to be alright because her
German Shepherd liked him! [The German Shepherd I couldn’t have but SHE
apparently could! I just had to train it, groom it, feed it and walk it for her
since she was
While we were making coffee for her ‘guest’ in the kitchen
I told her of my concerns about the man but she swept ALL my well-founded suspicions
preferring instead to go with her unshakeable belief that
was unquestionably a
better judge of character than her
Sixteen-year old, reasonably ‘streetwise’ daughter! I’d had to live in two Worlds for a long time,
my Mothers’ World and the real World where the poor fought
to survive, or sometimes fought just for the sake of fighting hoping it might make them feel better!
Her visitor only stayed a little while, I think my probing questions had made him feel rather uncomfortable
and he’d soon realized that I at least
had seen through him and his little ‘charade’!
He bid my Mother a speedy farewell and left promising to
phone her the next day, but we’d barely closed the front door behind him before he was
back again, saying apologetically that he appeared to
have lost his wallet and could my Mother possibly give him ten pounds to get home… which of course,
she did! He phoned the following day as he had said he would and
arranged to take her out for lunch at the week-end. She got all dressed up, looking
that in any way suggested she was a ‘Grieving Widow’,
but he failed to appear.
He phoned several hours later with a string of excuses,
but even she could tell he was actually at a Bookies since she could hear the Racing Commentary
quite clearly over the phone!
Needless to say, she didn’t see him or her ten pounds again!
I had been suspicious about the mans’ intentions
when he’d made his initial phone-call and couldn’t understand why in her supposedly
‘grief-stricken’ and highly emotional state she had agreed to allow a complete stranger
who could only claim to have a very tenuous connection to Eddie to come
to the flat to see her. I had been even more astonished when she had so readily agreed to go out to lunch
with him – it was a ‘date’ after all, there was no other way to look at it, and it seemed very strange
behaviour for such a devastated widow! I had been every bit as taken aback
as I had been on the morning of Eddies’ death when
had been the first person she’d wanted to speak to -
Simon and certainly not
and I was standing right next to her! She only thought of notifying Simon
she’d spoken to her boss and I well remember how angry Simon
had been to find him comfortably ensconced in our living-room when he arrived!
Highly-intelligent though he undoubtedly was I’m sure Simon was just as unaware of the
true nature of their relationship as I was, but my Mother did nothing but VILIFY the man
all the time,
which I now suspect was a very shrewd ‘ploy’ to keep us all
‘off the scent’…it certainly worked!
Sometime later something else happened
that should definitely have ‘tipped me off’ about what was
REALLY going on and I have to shake my head in embarrassment when I confess that I STILL
didn’t see it!
I think I must have had some sort of ‘blind spot’ where my Mother was concerned - I seem
to have been either
in those days, perhaps even an unfortunately rich
mixture of both! Todays’ youngsters would have ‘sussed her out’ in no time!
It happened one day a few weeks after Eddies death when my Mother asked me to fill in at the Office
for her. She said she wasn’t feeling too well and needed me to go in and ‘man the phones’ for her. She was
adamant that nobody else could do it because everyone who called asked to speak to her because she
was “the ONLY knowledgeable and competent person there”
and at least I could take the calls and ask them to phone back the following day! It sounded a little odd to
me as I undoubtedly knew
about the business than
in the Office and that they were just as capable of saying
“Please phone back tomorrow”
as I was
so off I went!
My arrival greatly
astonished the rest of the staff, all of whom actually said very little but helped me settle in at her desk
where I sat rather regally and waited patiently for the phone to ring. It seldom did!
The hours ticked by
tortuously slowly until five o-clock eventually came at which time the office staff began to leave.
The Senior Salesman and the old Book-keeper came sidling up
to my desk together, virtually arm-in-arm like some dreadful old comedy act. They both had huge
grins on their faces and the Salesman said archly “Just because your Mother works late every day
there’s no reason you should!” then he and the Book-keeper winked at one another and
elbowed each other gleefully. They left giggling and
smirking like a pair of naughty schoolboys but believe it or not I
didn’t understand what they
meant, I thought they were just clowning around!
When I think about it now I seem to recall that her boss
didn’t put in an appearance until very much later on in the day, late afternoon in fact, and that he
looked a little sheepish and barely spoke to me when he did!
I wonder now if the whole thing
was simply a ruse to get me out of the way for a while!
These days, thanks to popular TV Psychiatrists
and the wealth of information available on the Internet,
I’m sure many of my readers will have long since concluded that my Mother undoubtedly had ‘emotional
problems’ and possibly even a multiple-personality disorder of some kind: unhappily for me however such
freely available in
days, so I had no knowledge about
of those conditions, I just thought she was
and never knew quite what to expect on any given day! I understand
that she definitely had three very distinct ‘sides’ to her, and that was
the ‘Bereft Widow’ and ‘Fallen Aristocrat’ personas! She had her ‘Narcissistic’ side
when she would dwell on her own perfection, and firmly believed that others should ‘revere’ her and were
there to serve her. She had her ‘Wild and Abandoned’ side, wilful, passionate, extravagant and
spiteful, and then also her ‘Prim and Proper’ side, domineering, judgemental, hard-hearted and controlling.
I certainly understand now why she was so erratic and unpredictable,
and why life with her was never 'normal’ or dull…her behaviour depended entirely upon which
‘personality’ was predominant that day!
In many ways our relationship went back to the way it had been before Eddie had
moved in, my Mother behaved as if I was only there under
and became increasingly demanding with every day that passed!
It was like living with a Regimental Sergeant Major!
that I go to the Cemetery with her
Sunday morning for
after Eddies’ death to put flowers on his grave…there was
no choice, no discussion…it wasn’t
optional, it was
had to move into her room and sleep in her bed with her because now
she refused to sleep alone! Just as had been the case before Eddies’ arrival, I couldn’t spend any time
alone in my room, not even during the day, if I didn’t spend every minute with her I was immediately
berated for being
- you name it I was called it! She even
called me “a little bitch” one day totally out of the blue and I STILL haven’t a clue WHY, but
suddenly seemed to be
I resorted to my usual tactics and just stuck my head in a book and
prayed for it all to be over - not that she didn’t complain about that too, but that was
going to give up! I had to be by her side
presumably to bear witness to her inordinate and increasingly bizarre displays
of grief, most of which I think probably stemmed much more from
than anything else! She still stuck to her favourite routine of very
deliberately walking across the living-room in front of me at different times of the day and
dramatically assuming a posture of
in front of the new and absolutely
photo of Eddie she’d had made which now completely dominated
the room. That was traumatising enough
but in addition to that she’d put pictures of him
available surface - you couldn’t get
from them! It made life
because it was like a slap in the face every time you came across one. A wound can’t
heal if you keep ripping the dressing off and claw at the scab several times a day!
A few months after Eddies’ death Simon and his family moved in with us,
I don’t know whose bright idea that was
but it wasn’t a very good one.
He had three children by then, which meant we were four
adults and three young children in a flat with only three rooms, a tiny kitchen and a small bathroom – not
exactly ideal, or even comfortable for anyone! After they’d been there only a few months she
ME as her reason for making them all move out again!
Her tactics as always, were both
duplicitous and effective. She complained to me on a
daily basis that Simons wife wasn’t cleaning
the place properly and that his children were using her record-player
[which, as I reminded her, she had
actually told them they could do when they moved in!]. She insisted I tell the
children they had to ask for permission
they wanted to use it, and also told me I had to
run the carpet-sweeper over the floors again as soon as I got in each afternoon.
[By that time she had enrolled me in a Government-run College for Further
Education so that I could finish my studies and take my G.C.E exams]
I was no more successful than my Sister-in-Law when it came to removing
all the dog-hair, and
I’m sure you can imagine how well the rest of my input was received by Simon and his Wife and family!
Suffice it to say that my Mother used the subsequent discord in the home to tell them she had to ask them
to move out
for my health and emotional well-being!
I was portrayed
as the ‘problem’ or ‘villain of the piece’ while she played
the role of the sensitive, peace-keeping ‘mediator’,
emerging ‘squeaky clean’
when she had been the one pulling
the strings behind the scenes all along! She had staged the various scenes for her convincing little
‘tableau’ quite masterfully I must admit, but of course
she was an expert at it!
If I was stressed and I undoubtedly WAS, it was because
she never stopped complaining,
on and on, night after night, it was EXHAUSTING!
After everything else that had happened I was absolutely worn-out,
but I didn’t have a problem
with ANY of them,
I well remember one evening when everyone had
already settled down comfortably in the Living-room and I
had wandered in having finished whatever it was I’d had to do first. I of course looked for somewhere to
sit but the armchairs and the 3-seater settee were all occupied. My Mother was in a large, roomy arm-chair
that I sit with her, but large though it was the chair definitely wasn’t designed
so I ended up
sitting on her knee
like some pathetically needy five-year old! She insisted on
‘cuddling me up’ and then made a derogatory comment that made me
a complete idiot!
She was fond of ‘setting scenes’ like that…scenes that made
look 'saintly’ and
look like a childish, half-wit! It was one of her many ‘No-Win’
scenarios for me when regardless of whatever path I chose it could only end badly for me!
In this particular instance
I knew that had I refused to sit with her she would have been ‘offended’
which in turn would have had
‘repercussions’ that would have been
‘all my fault’
- so at the end of the day, what
have? Now of course I wish
I’d simply sat on the floor
because I can see just how shrewdly she’d set the scene!
She was establishing the existence of my
a pivotal part of her scheme to force them to move out!
My already ‘peeved’ Sister-in-Law didn’t miss her chance to remark scathingly, “You certainly don’t see
many Sixteen-year olds doing
She was quite right of course –
I didn’t usually do that either!
I had actually
having Simons children there, they were all nice, well-behaved little kids,
and it had been good to have a little joy and laughter in the home for a while, but one incident makes me
think that my Mother was just pathologically determined to ‘wallow’ in her misery and remain the
‘Star’ of her own dismal little ‘Show’. She and
I were standing side by side in front of our living-room window one week-end watching Simon and his
eldest son playing football in the park, but whereas I had been
to see them both laughing and having fun together,
she had turned away from the happy scene with a deeply tragic sigh
and said in a voice laden with profound sorrow,
“Of course, my life is over now. I shall just have to get what little enjoyment
I can out of the time I have left by watching you and Simon enjoy your lives”.
That was some mood-killer!
She was only in her early forties too, not an Old Age Pensioner!
It had been the first time I’d seen Simon actually enjoying himself
for a long, long time,
but she couldn’t bear to see
…she had to bring the focus of attention back to
herself and her ‘grief’.
Sadly, her ‘overwhelming grief’ hadn’t made her the
more sympathetic to the plight
of others! I was still getting the awful headaches that had begun years before in the Basement, and one
day after I asked her for some painkillers she informed me that she was really
disappointed in me because the headaches I kept getting could only mean I was
“neurotic and weak,
and possibly even prone to hysteria!”
She elaborated still further saying: “It pained her to say so but I seemed to be
getting just like her older sister [whom she despised] who also used to get headaches like
that, and she was quite sure she only ever said she had them "as ‘a ploy’ to get more attention!”
I was so shocked I just stood there staring at her. Those headaches were
but what do you say to someone as totally self-absorbed and unfeeling
particularly when that person
is your Mother?
It would have been pointless anyway…she had already made it quite
clear that she had “seen through my childish ‘ploy’ and didn’t expect to hear anything more about my
My Mother seemed to spend more and more time living
in her own strange little World…
a World far removed from mine!
refused to accept any suggestion that I had ever been exposed to any
kind of unhappiness or stress in my life…
she just wouldn’t have it!
She had gone back to watching my face
all the time,
it reflected ‘suitable’ emotions. If it
I soon heard
all about it!
As far as
was concerned it should just reflect ‘devotion’ and
tremendous concern for her emotional well-being! It was really quite absurd …she was STILL trying to control
what I thought, what I felt and I was SIXTEEN YEARS OLD! It never seemed to
to her that perhaps I too had been affected by Eddies death,
or that maybe it hadn’t been much fun looking after an invalid all day when I was only fifteen years old,
fixing his meals, emptying his commode etc. In
mind I had just been ‘lounging around’ all day having a GREAT time at
She genuinely thought that!
Presumably all the cooking and cleaning had been done
by magic, not by me!
clear indication of this rather strange
mindset of hers came one Saturday morning when we
were out shopping together, I think it was somewhere around my seventeenth birthday. I had come across a
record I really liked, a friend at College had played it in the Common Room after Class one day, it was
‘The Blues of T-Bone Walker’,
it was soulful and very sad, but also
it just seemed
to speak to me at the time. My Mother had picked up a Billy Eckstein album of old ballads she knew and
liked so I said in a moment of rare candour, rashly attempting to ‘share the moment’…
“Oh well, I can cry to mine and you can cry to yours”.
Much to my astonishment she was absolutely FURIOUS and
turned on me
right there in the Store!
have to cry about?
I’ve given you a WONDERFUL life!”
she screeched indignantly.
I was speechless!
There was just no answer
to that…no dealing with that level of delusion!
It was as if the past had never happened,
I’d never been in a Children’s Home or a Basement slum,
no-one had suffered, no-one had
died, no-one had ever been
Life had only ever been a ‘Primrose Hill’,
‘pretty scenery’ experience and NOTHING ELSE!
Only a few months prior to that she had slapped my face with such force
that everything around me had gone black for a few seconds, and that had been just because
I had laughed
as she hotly pursued my
poor little dog all around the room for some misdemeanour while he vaulted over the bed,
over chairs and
as if his
depended on it! The rage
was in it probably
I don’t know what he had done to so completely
but then she was one of those people who expected dogs to behave
like human beings not DOGS,
so it could have been for
She never showed
the slightest remorse
for the hefty clout she had given me
either, quite the reverse in fact! Much later, after hours of absolutely bristling with rage,
she had suddenly snarled angrily that I ‘shouldn’t have laughed’.
I hadn’t realized it was such a dreadful crime!
The real irony for
was that I had actually
chosen to laugh
in a rather desperate attempt
to ‘lighten’ her mood,
so that was
decision that REALLY back-fired on me!
Another memorable incident occurred on the morning her boss was to be married.
There had, needless to say,
been quite a build-up to this momentous occasion!
His ‘Engagement’ had been a rather unexpected development which
in the Office had seen coming, and one which needless to say had
my Mother particularly since he was marrying
a much younger woman,
who of course shared his Faith! She had been bad-mouthing
his new fiancée for more than a year, ever since she had first learned he was ‘dating’
her in fact and once again seemed to be feuding with
She had for a long time considered herself to be more of a Partner in the
business than a PA, having rather immodestly taken ALL the credit for
bit of growth and success the Company had enjoyed since her first day there! Based on this tenuous belief
she had also decided she was, without question
entitled to a share of the Profits,
not just her usual
salary and Christmas ‘bonus’, so with that in mind she kept a close eye on the Company Accounts. At the end
of each year SHE told her boss EXACTLY how much she expected to receive for her
AND the pay increase she required!
Knowing that I’m sure my reader can well imagine just how
she was to discover that suddenly not only were her demands
not being met,
but also any additional ‘financial benefits’
were completely out of the question!
Her boss’s future wife as
it happened was also an astute businesswoman and perhaps perceptive
in other ways too, since
she had more or less immediately ‘dethroned’ my Mother and taken control of ALL
financial aspects of
the business! She blocked my Mothers access to the Company Accounts and Ledgers, and relegated her strictly
to Sales and Secretarial work,
and nothing else!
Even as a writer I cannot find the right words to
adequately describe my Mothers'
Anyway, on that particular Saturday morning she asked me
to pick up some corsages she had ordered from the
local florist as we were apparently ‘obliged’ to attend some kind of pre-Wedding Celebration that was being
held at a swish West-End Hotel before the ‘main event’ took place later on in the afternoon. [To which
incidentally, we were not invited!] I set off very early so I would be there when the Shop
opened. It was a lovely sunny morning, perfect weather for what was actually quite a long walk, and much to
my relief everywhere was quiet and peaceful and there was very little traffic on the road. I was relieved
because I was feeling
in an outfit my Mother had insisted I ‘try out’! I was wearing
skin-tight, hot-pink satin trousers
and a short, rather revealing frilly white blouse,
both of which I had been given by the very sweet little old lady I’ve mentioned before who worked
in my Mothers Office. She had often given me items of clothing from her married daughters ‘single’ days and
she certainly had some very nice things, but the problem was that her daughter was
and I most definitely
I was fervently praying no-one would see me because being rather
I filled out
of her clothing, so much so that everything was virtually
bulging at the seams!
I was quite
when I looked at myself in the mirror
but my Mother thought I looked TERRIFIC!
She had insisted on putting curlers in my hair the night before
despite my heartfelt protests
so in addition to everything else my head was
a HUGE mass of tight curls!
I looked like a rather debauched Shirley Temple!
I’d only gone a few paces down the road
when a long stream of traffic appeared from nowhere,
and suddenly every van driver on the road was
wolf-whistling, waving and cheering enthusiastically
AND blasting their horns,
ALL whilst dangling precariously out
of their vehicles trying to get a better look!
All of that
was of course, rapidly followed by the
screech of brakes and a rather
kind of hooting
as they all desperately tried to avoid crashing into one another…
I felt like a Hooker!
I’ve never been so embarrassed
IN MY LIFE
and I can promise you that I walked faster that day than I’ve
walked before! You should have
the look the lady in the Florists gave me,
she quite obviously thought I looked like a Hooker too!
Never again! I knew then exactly
how my Mother had attracted so many men in
younger days! In fact, this incident
came to epitomise many vast
differences between my Mother and I, particularly when it came to men! I was still in my teens at the time
and had never even been on a date,
but I think she was already
to take me off her hands… anybody!