Our life story is never just about ourselves, it is about people and a journey. It is about all that happens in Life – not only to ourselves but also to the people whose lives intermingle with ours over the span of years we walk upon this Earth. It is this fact that makes everyone’s life worth hearing about, because it is never just about one individual, it’s a cross-section of stories about many people and their lives too, for we don’t live in isolation we live in a World full of people and their stories deserve to be told just as much as ours. This then is my story, and the story of the lives that intermingled with mine – for better, or for worse!

Sylvia Darling



This website began as a result of my own journey through life, a journey that started the day God first touched my heart when I was just a toddler gazing up in wonder at His Beautiful Rainbow, a life-changing moment you will be able to share with me in the first chapter of my book. It took me many years to truly find Him again after that, mostly because of general misconceptions many of us have about our World and Spiritual matters. I too looked in all the wrong places for fulfilment and joy in my life - along with most of the Worlds’ population - but now I know Him, and I know the Truth about myself and about God, and the relationship we can all have with Him if we will abandon all our preconceived ideas, all false and grossly misleading teachings put forth by so many religious organisations today and reach out to Him with sincere and earnest hearts.

It amuses me that Scientists so virulently deny the existence of God when they present theories as facts and the arrogant self-aggrandising propaganda of man as Truth! You don’t have to be foolishly naïve to believe in God – you have to be foolish NOT TO! We see only a tiny portion of what is truly going on around about us, He can show us the WHOLE picture, illuminated through HIS Eyes if we will only open ourselves up to receive from Him. Man is a spiritual being, Gods’ creation, he has not evolved from the Apes as still totally UNPROVEN Scientific theories would have you believe – we are MORE than that, BIGGER than that! We can no longer ALLOW OURSELVES to be DIMINISHED by Small-minded, Close-minded IGNORANCE, whether that ignorance has a ‘Scientific’ or a ‘Humanistic’ label on it! “When the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch”, but I don’t have to fall in it with them, and neither do you!

One morning during my prayer-time God began to show me my life as it had been up to that moment. He showed it to me as an ‘unopened book’… unopened to myself although certainly not to others. He showed me that I had never been free to OPEN my own book, or to WRITE upon its pages! This is perhaps one of the most remarkable things about walking step by step with God, He shows you your life, who you ARE, your thoughts, your emotions, why you feel the way you feel about certain things, why you react the way you do in certain situations. He reveals the hurt that caused you to retreat, preventing you from being all you might otherwise have been. He showed me that other people had commandeered MY life, MY book, and scrawled their thoughts, attitudes and requirements all over it! At first I had no idea what He meant! I hadn’t realized just how very far I had withdrawn inside myself, over the years it had become a mindset, the way I lived. I had yet to recognize let alone understand the extent of the very real psychological and emotional harm that had been done to me during the first twenty years of my life. I hadn’t realized how much it had affected my development, my soul, and indeed my entire human psyche, and that all these years later I was still only living in the background of my own life!

That was the beginning of a very long and difficult journey for me as I fought to free myself from years of literally mind-numbing domination and indoctrination! I had to learn how to look at myself and my life through ‘unblinkered’ eyes. Slowly but surely God released me from my human bondage, my ‘chained’ mind and enabled me with an ‘awakened’ spirit and enlightened eyes to see clearly. I examined the pages of my life with a renewed mind and eventually found along with clarity …Peace.

Once we reach a certain age we alone should decide what to write on the pages of the book that will become our Life Story. We must choose carefully what we ourselves write on those pages and cannot, MUST NOT simply leave our book open on the Counter where anyone can pick up a pen and write on the pages of our hearts and lives. What has been written on the pages of the book that is YOUR life? Who did you allow to write on it? Who scrawled in large letters, obliterating whole pages, filling them with empty words and feelings? Our lives are not pages for other people to doodle on and imprint their own images on, they are ours to write on, WORDS, meaningful words that touch the minds and hearts of others who read them. It’s a journey we are meant to make with God, but we have to allow Him to show us what is inside our hearts, inside our minds and permit Him to minister to our hurts and needs, it is then that He reveals all His Beautiful Spiritual Truths to us.

We can be a vast volume or a tiny paperback, the choice is ours. Be careful what you write in your book, what you allow others to write in your book, because God made it and designed it for His Divine purposes, NOT as a Comic or a Mickey Spillane novel!

What sort of volume will you be? Will you be the opening pages of a vast Encyclopaedia or will your book be an abridged version of someone else’s life – someone you allowed to write too heavily, and too lengthily in your book?

It’s YOUR Life, YOUR decision. TAKE CONTROL! Make YOUR life count, make YOUR journey worthwhile! There’s a different way to live, a BETTER way to live…make your book an ENCYCLOPAEDIA and discover all God can do in and through the 'awakened' heart and Spirit of man! Come, share my journey with me, maybe together we can transform your book into everything God intended it to be, for your delight and His!

Picture of an open book.

Sylvia Darling

© Sylvia Darling 2017

Wonderfully uplifting poem pointing the way to God!

Look To The Sky!

If you’re unhappy or frustrated
And don’t know why,
If you’re angry or confused
Lift your eyes to The Sky!
There IS a God Who Listens,
There IS a God Who Cares,
If you’re unhappy or frustrated
Look to The Sky!

If your heart is full of Sorrow,
And your eyes are full of tears,
If you think there’s no Tomorrow
Turn away from all your fears.
Look for something deeper,
Look for something real,
If your heart is full of Sorrow,
Look to The Sky!

Sylvia Darling

© Sylvia Darling 2018

Our free downloads are also available on our sister website. wordsforyou.online where the E-Book "Lost And Found - The Other Side Of Me" from which they are taken and upon which this website is based, can be purchased from the Inspirational Section. Please note the contents of this website can also be viewed in a monthly serialization format on our sister website wordsforyou.online    *It's Finally HERE!     BOOK TWO of The Trilogy "Lost And Found - The Other Side Of Me" IS NOW available for purchase from the Inspirational Section of wordsforyou.online    Please note: this book will NOT be serialized on any of my websites! Another new development is the beginning of Thy Word Is Truth Christian Ministries, a challenging new Christian Outreach. Check it out!

Experiencing the Love of God beneath His Beautiful Rainbow.

Chapter One - The Childrens Home

Part One

'And God said, this is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you ...I do set my bow in the cloud... And it shall come to pass when I bring a cloud over the earth,that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant'. Genesis 9:12/14 The Holy Bible. King James Version,

...........Gods' Beautiful Rainbow..........

Finding God beneath His Rainbow.

The Rainbow

“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.
Symbolised 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
Finding myself abandoned in a Childern's Home run by Nuns.

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 fertile imagination! 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. I don’t 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 - and she certainly succeeded - it never occurred to anybody that we were in Childrens Homes!

Photo of the Author.

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 ‘colourful’ 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. She had 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!


I collapse with shock and fear, the Nuns terrify me.

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 actually collapsed 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 PROUD 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 GUILTY 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 knowing my Mother didn’t care! 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 silent scream 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, feeling 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 apart from 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 harsh realities of life in a Children's Home.

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. Nobody cared. 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!

The tears of lost, unhappy and frightened children.

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 the scariest, 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, however…a little 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 forever! 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.

Wooden cross.
Poem about truly understanding Christs' Sacrifice.

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

Christ died for ‘little urchins’ too…that they might come to know Him, and experience His Joy and His Love.

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 nappies. 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!

Poem about the constant battle between spirit and flesh

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

Primitive living conditions, Dickensian treatment.

Part Two

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 so 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 splash any of us, never mind clean 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 excavators. 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 ‘appreciative’ individuals.

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.

The sins of the parent being taken out on a small child.


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
My Mothers odd and unsettling visists

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 without picking me up first, purely because she was ashamed to be seen with me! ‘Appearances’ mattered a great deal to her, and Simon always 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 disapproval. Her whole attitude said: “I’m here to show you LOVE despite your revolting appearance!”.... LOVELY, 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!

New and stressful 'Photo Shoots' when Mother visits!

My mother was a strange woman really, she would always want to have a photograph taken of these ‘special occasions’, 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 ‘special’ 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 wonderful 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 nothing 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 little leaving us in Homes affected her and her enjoyment of her 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!


Sudden and shocking news - I'm going 'home'!

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, very pretty…I think perhaps it was some kind of foreboding of what lay ahead.

A strange gift sparks a poignant summation of a young life.

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

© Sylvia Darling 2017
My last day at the Home, a long and anxious wait.

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 I felt 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 very far from pleased!

Picture of part of a rainbow.


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

A new home with many problems!

Chapter Two - Eddie and The Basement Years

Part One

Picture of slum area.
A shocking contrast between my new home and the old one!

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 cold, unemotional and detached. 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 me either!

Burglar bars
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 cheerful – it was the only thing around there that was!

Rising damp on wall.
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 the ceiling. 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!

single bulb on a wire.
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!

Shocks galore on my first day!

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 timeall 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.

Photo of a pile of rubbish.
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, welcoming place - 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 tiny 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.

Quickly seeing that this is a divided home!

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 'happy' 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 how 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', courteous experiences! 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 unwelcome, or that my presence was an inconvenience everyone had to 'put up with', but that was how I felt...still 'on the outside looking in' ...still isolated, imprisoned inside myself. 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 feel different.


Feeling lost and alone in Eddies' Basement home.

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, both during 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.

Existing feelings of being 'unacceptable' are 'compounded'

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.

Children are ALWAYS important to God!

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’ emotions, 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 not alone, no matter how afraid, unloved, isolated or abandoned you may feel, God is always there, He always Sees and He always 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 forever ] 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.

Uplifting poem for the young, pointing the way to God.

He’s Waiting

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

Words of caution and advice for parents with young children.
For adults and parents

Children have soft, vulnerable hearts, impressions once made remain forever, they are blank canvasses upon which we cannot allow just anybody to paint, and must take great care what we ourselves paint on them! Christ said…“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea…take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven’. [Matthew 18:6/10 The Holy Bible. King James Version]

God Loves and protects His children, and so should we.

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 about God, His Precious Holy Spirit and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ, a lot earlier than I actually did! 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, in the midst of the deprivation, in the midst of the squalid living conditions, in the midst of the violence, Christ The Holy Son of God is there, standing with you, walking side by side with you.

“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]

A spiritual song or a 'rap' about Christ being with us.
collage of sad people.

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

BEAUTIFUL POEM about Christs' Sacrifice.


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 that 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

Reflections of the all-encompassing Love of Christ.
collage of sad people.

The shock of life in my new home.

Part Two

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.

The STRESS of life with a domineering Mother.

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 person who 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 extremely stressful!

A dictatorial, draining and demanding Mother.

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!

Emotional bullying and manipulation.

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 evidence otherwise. 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.

'Conditional' love not a Mothers' love, freely given.

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 not love, nor does it stem from it, it is about power and control and someone else getting what they want from YOUR 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 incapable of switching it on and off - I know, I’m a Mother myself now!

photo of dagger.

Adapting to life in my Mothers' 'Alternative Universe'

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 have divorced! My Mother however, was a pretentious and stubborn woman - she chose to see things the way she chose to see them - truth or reality 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 ‘free-spirited’ and ‘Romantic’ 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!

Confused, I am given a 'new background' by my Mother!

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 beautiful Convent, and it had been a marvellous time for me, but she just loved me so much she couldn’t bear to be apart from me any longer, and simply had 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!

Lies and Simons' traumatic childhood.

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 mind, and therefore 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?

A child trying to balance Truth with 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 - activated when required and left dormant when not!

Almost having a 'Daddy'...for a little while.

Part Three

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 comfort and the ‘good life’! 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!

Rural peasants in days gone by.

Eddie finds he now has to fight on too many fronts

Detroyed buildings of MontiCassino.
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 ever since. 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.

Home life becomes a living hell.

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 rage 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 crackle 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.

Eddie finds himself in an impossible situation

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 seen nor understood at allconsciously 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 harm 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.

Eddie and Simon deeply unhappy. Eddie is put on a new drug.

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 new Home. 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.

A poignant summation of life in the basement.

The Basement

Thick black bars on dirty,
Paint-flecked windows
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.
Peeling wallpaper,
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

Living in a war zone and having to choose 'sides'.

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 eruption! 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 completely decimated. 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 at all! 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’ children, he had never wanted children, not even children of his own! 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 ‘MOTHER’ 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!


Girl seated alone.
Psychological pressure and emotional despair. 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. I didn’t 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 everyone 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.

I have a mini 'breakdown' of my own

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 just ‘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”“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.

Too locked-up within myself to find God.

If only I had known my Precious Saviour then, 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 you, I can show you the way. 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 and listening, persevere in this, believing and speaking to Him in your spirit and you will hear.

A Song about God reaching out to children.

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

It takes courage to hand our hearts and lives over to God, but it’s worth it! He will show you things about yourself and the World you live in that are life-changing!

‘Ask and it shall be given you: seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you’

[Matthew 7:7 The Holy Bible. King James Version] Our Heavenly Father is always there.

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.

My song to God.

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
Simons' inner turmoil.

Part Four

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 her to FEEL some of the pain she’d caused him. He knew she had enjoyed those years we’d spent apart, whereas we’d both been profoundly damaged by them.

The divide between Eddie and my Mother widens

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 respected. 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.

My Mother asks me if I want a baby brother!

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 speechless. The thought of another person being squeezed into our already miserable lives horrified me! 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 life would it have? What sort of life would any 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 much later on in life!


Is it a suicide attempt or an 'accident'?

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.

Collage of Emergency Services.

I start having horrifying, disturbing nightmares.

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 right, and that she did 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!

My Mothers' revealing 'slip of the tongue'!

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 committing! 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 suspicions. 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 look at her and she’d fall pregnant, and I know from what she told me herself that many men did a great deal more than look!

More rather 'strange' conversations!

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 different woman beneath the surface! Maybe that’s the reason she talked to me less and less as I grew older - I remembered far too much, and was starting to notice certain ‘incongruities’ and ‘discrepancies’!

Saint and Sinner images.
Eddies' health deteriorates

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.

Collection of alcohol and drugs.
Mothers' narcissism blossoms

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 chasing love, yearning for love, any kind of love, not even understanding the depths of love that still lived on in him, 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! Another MAJOR 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 sex every bit as much as she needed Romance! Sex can be purely carnal, ‘Romance’ is more emotional, 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.

Eddies' drug addiction worsens.

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.

Photos of another World!

My Mother insists I change my name!

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!

My Mothers' new job brings its own problems!

Part Five

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.

My painful migraines get me into trouble with my Mother.

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.

A class-mate insists on coming home with me.

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 afraid to go any further, and said “There’s such a dreadful feeling of 'Sorrow' 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, lonely lives. 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.

The Holy Spirits' timely intervention in my life.

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 yearned for peace, but in my moments of deepest despair that still, small voice within always somehow managed to make itself heard again, it soothed me, and whispered calmly, peacefully, that I couldn’t do it, I mustn’t do it, and I would somehow find the strength to carry on for another day.

Theatrical masks.
I learn that open visions shoudn't be ignored!

The Holy Spirit doesn’t speak with an audible voice, He speaks to us spirit to spirit, on the inside. 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!

Poem about feeling Gods Call on my life.

Misty Days

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

Witnessing Eddies constant battle with addiction.

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.

Simon flourishes but Eddie does not.

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 damage as possible on our journey through life! Our presence is meant to enrich peoples lives not ruin them!


Uproar at home when Simon gets a girl pregnant!

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. ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ and it quickly became rather ‘heated’! 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 right there! 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 ELECTRIC, 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 'Superiority' and Self-righteousness! 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 EVER have made her 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 REVENGE and FREEDOM!

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 pleaded 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 ADAMANT - 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 crucial 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 thought! 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 Mothers REAL reasons for forcing Simon to marry.

My Mother had flouted ‘convention’ all her life, and had NEVER 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 FREE! 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 me back, getting Simon back had ruined her relationship with Eddie, and now Simon had made a girl pregnant! Her own ‘hopes and dreams’ had turned to ashes right before her eyes and I think she felt trapped, IMPRISONED 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, still passionate, she wanted to LIVE her life, not just battle through it!

Statue of the Lady Of Justice
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 NOT going to be allowed to walk away – she was finally getting her revenge - her false, deluded sense of ‘morality’ gave the matter ‘closure’ in her mind - she felt she was ‘righting’ the wrongs of the past by making his son ‘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 every situation!


The build-up to the Wedding.

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.

More shocks to follow!

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!

My Mothers' horryfying 'revelation'!

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 just LOVED 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’!

An unhappy Moving Day.

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.

Despondent youth.

An inspirational poem about Christs' Sacrifice.

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

© Sylvia Darling 2017

Unwanted! Shocking revelation of my Mothers true feelings.

Chapter Three - A New Life At Primrose Hill

Part One

Photo of Primrose Hill London.
A very uncomfortable start to our new lives

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 literally draw away from me, as if my presence was in some way repugnant 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 verging on hostile, and her manner was definitely abrasive, 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 like it 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 there, wasn’t ‘family’. 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 never been 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 talk to her. The perpetual air of ‘Superiority’ she automatically assumed around me was extremely off-putting, and of course intimidating as indeed it was meant to be, it was intended 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 ‘quite exceptional’ 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 have ‘approved’ and ‘acceptable’ conversations, or voice‘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 entire childhood she had manipulated and bullied me into believing whatever she TOLD ME to believe and had absolutely refused 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 FANTASY, a story she had concocted to tell her family and friends, not reality! 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 was and always had beenabsurdly confusing and complicated because of having to live in my Mothers’ warped ‘reality’! You cannot have inner peace or emotional stability when your heart keeps telling you one thing while your mindkeeps telling you something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT,and my heart still knew as TRUTH 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 ‘corrupt data’ 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 wiped clean of all that corrupt, 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 the extent 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! The freeing, cleansing, renewalof 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!

Reflecting on Gods' early intervention in my life.

I used to wonder why God had reached out to me so early 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 hadn’treached out to me then, touched me with His Holy Spirit then, 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 desperately 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.

A BEAUTIFUL poem about the Glory of God!


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

Perhaps I should explain at this juncture that the post-war World I grew up in the 1950’s was very different from the one most young people know today, it was a lot lessfree and ‘opulent’. I lived in a dingy, insular, isolated little World in the Basement, a World in which we had no friends [they were actively discouraged 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 at all, 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!

Growing up in a 'Dictatorship'.

It’s impossible to have genuine relationship of any kind when one party is so completely controlled and emotionally dominated by the other, there is no freedom of expression, no automatic ‘right’ to be oneself, one must always be ‘pleasing’, subservient. Controlling, deceitful and manipulative people areextraordinarilydifficult to live with, or even to interact with on a daily basis, particularly those with ‘disorders’ and narcissistic tendencies…they’re often unpleasant 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 the truth 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 harmed by it, and that our relationship had never been affected by it, so it just didn’t ‘count’ but a definite change in our relationship had taken place, and the Mother/Child bond between us had been broken, and this was a fact that was about to be made abundantly clear to me…by her!

Mother living a lie, abandonment never happened!.
Child with toy on bridge.

A devastating revelation when we reach our new home.

Sitting next to my Mother on the journey to Primrose Hill that day was a very 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 there with me, physically or emotionally - 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,andas I was about to discover, for rather similar reasons! When we arrived at the flat and walked thr ough 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,piercing melike daggers!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 voice 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!

Coping with the truth about my Mother.

I had to find some way 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 more emotionally detached from my surroundings, even more disconnected from the people in my life, and then, having buried it all, I took refuge in denial. 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 wasn’t just that she’d had no choice. I looked her in the face…her cold, disapproving face, and smiled, 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.

For those of you who may be hurting as I was hurting then.

A gentle poem ministering to peoples' pain.

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

Betrayal and rejection by a PARENT is the deepest cut of all.

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 supposed to. I think the painfully obvious ‘distaste’ and disapproval she’d exhibited every time 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 who was behind their visits, furtherrejection of any kind had been the lastthing 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 morehelpless or vulnerable 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 afraid.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 ferocious rage …being on the receiving end of one of her verbal tirades was like being run over by a Truck! She was positively terrifying! 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 unpleasant 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 for her than she cared for me! Hurtful though it was, I didn’t actually mind her preference for Simon, I didn’t dwell on it, nor did I grudge him her love and attention, I somehow sensed how much he needed it. It wasn’t his fault she loved him more than me, and anyway… I loved Simon too! He was 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!

The long term damage caused by bad parenting.

Painful experiences like these linger in the heart and mind of a lost and lonely child, they fester 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 to survive 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 whatever happens to us in our childhood matters!


My Mothers callousness shocks and unsettles me.

I think it’s safe to say that my Mother and I were two very differentindividuals, that was obvious from the start I suppose if I’d been of an age to understand such things. She and I not only saw 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 TRAUMA and moving out of the Basement proved to be yet another, very typical example of this! She was pleased and excited about all 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 own 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 unusual for her, it was a well-established pattern of behaviour. My Mother had merely done to me exactly what she had done to Simon throughout his childhood, changing partners, offspring and environments as carelessly and thoughtlessly as other people might change their socks but the way she had jettisoned Simon 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 incredibly hard-hearted and unfeeling at times, and now we were alone together, there was only ME, the ONE person, truth be told, whom she had consistently liked and loved LEAST OF ALL, the one with whom she had virtually NOTHING in common, yet here we were… just the two of us! It all felt so very, very WRONG!

Emotional barriers, rampant narcissism, callousness.
photo of Pollyanna.

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 I alone 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 outer perimeter 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 in it, but not necessarily an important part of it, 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 ME?

Children as voiceless, disposable commodities.
Unrolled film.
A 'Freudian Slip' reveals my Mothers attitude about her children.

I sometimes think my Mother regarded her ‘off-spring’ as little more than her own personal ‘chattels’, ‘disposable commodities’ to be used or discarded 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, seething mass of rage 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 heated 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 “after all, I gave her my Son!” 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!

An 'On again - Off again' Mother!

I remember one incident when she most definitely used me to make some sort of ‘point’ 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 swept in from Eddies’ room, obviously ‘peeved’ about 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 leapt 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… alone again. 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 me and vanish 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 ‘LOVED’ you, but when she didn’t, she REALLY didn’t! Some people are just like that, there’s nothing you can do about it.


It's a whole new World at Primrose Hill!

My Mothers’ new flat was on the ground-floor of a very smart, well-kept, three-storey Regency-style house that had a lovely black, wrought-iron balcony in front of the first-floor windows. It looked very ‘Grand’, particularly after the Basement! It had been converted into six apartments of varying sizes but hadn’t actually been modernized to any great extent during the conversion process other than adding new bathrooms, toilets and kitchens to each flat, but I hope the other flats had larger kitchens than ours …ours was absolutely TINY! Overall, the interior of the house was still quite old-fashioned, but the three main rooms of our flat were all very big and had high ceilings and large picture-windows. None of the windows had bars on them, which of course came as quite a surprise to me - I’d never lived anywhere with large panes of clear, unprotected glass before! The view from the living-room window was lovely, Primrose Hill was literally just across the road, and when I stepped outside the main door of the house by myself for the first time I felt like a ‘Lifer’ unexpectedly released from Prison! I was amazed at how HUGE and BRIGHT this ‘new’ outside World was! After years in a Basement behind heavily-barred, paint-flecked windows I could SEE and FEEL SUNSHINE again! Just as had been the case when she’d moved me from the lush green rural setting of the Children’s Home in Brighton directly to the Basement and the grim, impoverished streets of inner London a few years earlier, my new home now was the complete opposite of the surroundings I’d just come from! The whole area was beautiful but also, just as after my ‘Rainbow’ experience with My Heavenly Father in the grounds of the Home, I had to go back inside…back to a World that wasn’t beautiful, back to… I didn’t really know WHAT. I didn’t know what lay ahead of me on any given day now, the only certainty was that my Mother was bitter, angry and resentful that I was there! It wasn’t a very promising ‘new beginning’, not for me anyway!

After living in such a confined space in the Basement our new home seemed to be absolutely huge! Where previously there had been four of us crammed into two fairly small rooms, there were now only two of us in THREE very large and practically empty rooms, the one without a carpet in it even echoed! Fortunately, the ‘key’ money my Mother had paid for her five-year lease had also bought two carpets, two large wardrobes, a couple of fairly dilapidated chairs, and two ‘whatnots’, all of which the previous elderly tenants had wanted to leave behind, so together with the bed I’d shared with Simon and a fairly decent bed-settee my Mother had brought from the Basement we at least had the basics. My Mother decided to sleep on my old bed in the front bedroom which also overlooked Primrose Hill, and I was to sleep on the old bed-settee at the far end of the large back-room. It was a long L-shaped room that over-looked a quiet side-street and a very small back-garden that was absolutely covered in bushes and trees, all of which quite effectively screened the little Mews Cottage that actually stood only a few feet away from the main house. My room had previously been used as a dining-room, it had a glass-panelled door on it and so of course wasn’t the least bit private. It was a little bit dark in there, not only because of all the trees outside the window, but also because the window itself was much smaller than those in any of the other rooms, but I didn’t mind any of that, I was just pleased to have my own bed, and my own room! One of the carpets my Mother had bought was in the Living-room along with the two ‘whatnots’, both the ancient but still quite pretty chairs, and very little else! The other carpet was in her bedroom, along with my old bed and the smallest of the two wardrobes, which was still surprisingly BIG! The largest wardrobe was left in my room and completely filled what was actually quite a big alcove on the left-hand side wall! It was far too heavy to move at all easily, but rather obligingly accommodated practically everything we possessed! Naturally my Mother hated every single item she’d had to buy to get the lease, but I have to say that some of that old furniture would probably have been worth a small fortune today had she kept any of it! I realize now that the ‘wardrobe’ in my room was actually a huge, beautifully-made, solid Mahogany Linen-press! It had been extremely well looked-after and had the Manufacturers name proudly and very ‘tastefully’ engraved on a small metal plate inside, they would have loved it on any of the ‘Antiques’ programmes they show on TV today!

Lovely surroundings but horrible home-life.

My Mothers resentment and continued hostility towards me were both still patently obvious, and for the first few days she only spoke to me when she absolutely had to It was quite clear that I was imposing on her, and that she viewed me as someone ‘tagging along’, getting a free ride on her ‘dime’. My opinion, my ‘input’ wasn’t sought on anything at all, and it seemed to take her quite a while to come to terms with our new situation despite the fact that she herself had engineered it! Had she expected me just to vanish into thin air on the ride over, or perhaps decide to leave home at eleven or twelve years old? I have no idea! In the meantime, I did the only thing I could do, I pretended everything was ‘fine’ and waited for her mood to change. It wasn’t exactly the happiest period of my life!

Bullying and depression take their toll.

Another problem I had at the time was that regardless of the fact that we now lived in a very good area I still had to attend a High School in a very rough area, and it was a School that had earned its’ bad reputation. Bullying had been a problem throughout my School life and proved to be an even bigger one in High School, and once again being ‘well-spoken’ and not a ‘local’ I was immediately targeted. It was mostly verbal abuse combined with a great deal of pushing and shoving but still unpleasant nonetheless. I was seriously grappling with bouts of depression, and just as before often thought of suicide as a means of escape, but something inside always stopped me. It’s strange really, we lived in a beautiful area and I’ve always loved Nature and animals, it’s the only thing Eddie and I had in common apart from loving my Mother, but a pretty view doesn’t ease an aching heart, quite the reverse surprisingly, it sometimes seems to emphasize the despair rather than lessen it. Beauty is a direct contrast to the ugliness of Sorrow, the exact opposite in human emotion.


My Mother decides to redecorate and Simon is roped in!

Since the flat was virtually empty My Mother decided it was the ideal time to redecorate, so we spent a few rather stressful week-ends trudging around various Stores until she found some suitably ‘elegant’ but extremely expensive wallpaper she liked! She ordered quite a few rolls, much to the Salesman’s delight, and also selected various tins of top-quality paint of assorted colours and textures for ceilings, walls, doors, wooden surrounds etc. etc. After that of course, we also had to buy paint-brushes, rollers, a ladder and a long, folding table “for Simon to use when he does the decorating for me” as she ‘announced’ rather regally to one and all. My heart plummeted to my boots! I knew Simon had never done any decorating before, and the mere thought of the two quick-tempered, volatile ‘perfectionists’ working closely together on the same project made me shudder! My Mother was NOT an easy person to please, and I knew Simon didn’t react at all WELL to her particular type of acerbic ‘nit-picking’ criticism! He already had more than enough stress in his life as it was, but I knew all too well just how desperately he needed the money she’d promised to pay him to do the job – it would have been the only reason he’d have agreed to do it! I had actually been astounded by the amount of money she’d been spending with such oddly grim determination on our new décor, everywhere we went only ‘the best’ would do, but I was of course, still completely unaware of her relationship with her boss at the time! NOW however, I’m quite convinced that HE ended up paying for it… one way or another!

Just as I feared, our redecorating project did indeed prove to be a harrowing experience for all of us, especially poor Simon! It required a completely different skillset from his own, and like so many intellectually-gifted people he unfortunately lacked even the most rudimentary ability to do anything requiring manual skill or dexterity! It was a recipe for disaster! I think the poor soul must have made every decorating mistake in the book, and quite possibly even invented a few new ones of his own! Had tempers not become quite so homicidally frayed, it could have been absolutely HILARIOUS watching the wallpaper unfurl itself rebelliously from the walls, and the elegant frieze-trim gallop off at high speed all around the edges of the living-room ceiling finally ending up in a large, unruly and decidedly DEFIANT heap in one corner of the room… however, I’m not ENTIRELY daft, I know ONE of them would have KILLED ME if I’d laughed, as I so desperately wanted to sometimes!

My Mothers 'secret plans' hit an unforeseen roadblock.

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 subtle 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 attention and mental stimulation, 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 every second 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 had to go and sit in the living-room with her 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 ultimate 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 over estimated 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 becomes increasingly stressed.

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 determined to win through! I can understand now [with the benefit of hindsight] why she was so angry and irritable throughout that whole period - it was because once again NOTHING in her life was going ‘according to plan’ - but her ‘plans’ were completely unrealistic, and based on ‘romantic’, self-centred and decidedly mercenary FANTASY, not reality! 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 him over to her own, rather unique perspective! I also think she had only taken on her expensive new flat because she had convinced herself that sooner or later he 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 exhausting just listening 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 understand how they’d ALL 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 the truth of the situation and firmly believing her to be ‘the innocent victim’ when in reality she was extremely adept 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!


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 me, 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 ME, 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 ‘transfixed’ in brilliant headlights just seconds before the Truck hits it 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 ‘SOMEONE’ was always watching! Living with my Mother at Primrose Hill turned out to be rather like living with a particularly fussy and pretentious Sherlock Holmes, except he observed rather than criticised, and was probably less derogatory!

My Mother points out my many shortcomings.

In reality though, my Mother had only herself to blame for most of what she now considered to be my many 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 despising the person she herself had created! All through my childhood she had slowly but surely crushed my spirit, trampled all over my own personality, and thwarted or stifled 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 her World, completely under her thumb and therefore under her control, but always under the guise of ‘loving me’ and wanting to ‘protect’ 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’ isolate THEMSELVES from everyone else as ‘PROOF’ 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.

Living under the tyranny of narcissism.

My Mothers narcissism meant that it was absolutely essential to her that I reflect her, her personality, who she was, because that was the only way to be, it was also the only way to be ‘acceptable’ or ‘pleasing’ to her, and it in fact led to the total subjugation of my 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 profoundly unfortunate the very literal TRUTH of his comment actually was. ‘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 ‘new, improved’ version of ‘me’ to emerge, and preferably quite quickly too! Apparently I was supposed to immediately ‘blossom’ 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 deluded and fanciful 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 of whom she could be immensely proud, and for whom she could take all the credit! Sadly for her however, unmoved by whatever lay on the horizon, I remained an ugly, prickly caterpillar, crawling in a rather ungainly fashion along the branch!

Caterpillar on branch.

My Mothers not so 'secret' belief in her own 'perfection'!

Statue of Athena.
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 deserved 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, sighing deeply 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 ‘alone together’ but in reality she was completely ‘shut off’ from me, immersed in her own private little World. If I factored into her thought processes at all it was merely as an audience, and little else. She seemed blissfully unaware of the fact that she actually put herself ‘up on a pedestal’ every time she found someone else “inferior” or “lacking” in some way, which I regret to say she did rather frequently! She was definitely not the sort of person to search her own soul for error or for sin [the mere idea was preposterous], but she certainly believed that everyone ELSE should, constantly! She remained utterly convinced that if someone had her 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’, not the despotic narcissist she actually was, 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 she had done!

My Mother, the 'perfect' narcissist martr!

Statue of an Angel.
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 a martyr, constantly sacrificing herself for the good of others! She saw even the smallest 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 basic obligation – 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 only be a stark contrast to such ‘perfection’! This apparent contrast between the two of us kept all my inadequacies and the fact that I was a burden to her, constantly at the forefront of my mind, as it evidently was in hers. Her attitude made it quite clear to me that I should always be profoundly grateful to her, not only for having ‘kept me’ thus far, but also for continuing to ‘put up with me’ every day!

I stop trying to please someone who is IMPOSSIBLE to please!

Unfortunately for my Mother and all her future dreams and aspirations, I had no idea how to be who she wanted me to be, nor did I intend to find out! I couldn’t just ‘assume’ 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 her happy, TIRED of trying to please someone who was impossible 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 do it anymore, go through the charade anymore. I was who I was, whoever that might be… I didn’t know anymore, if indeed I ever had 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 ‘other’ person, the one my Mother had created then, the one she’d wanted me to be then, when pleasing her was all I’d needed to do to make my World 'right’ and to be ‘happy’, but how could I ever be ‘happy’ when the real ‘me’ 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 ‘me’,I wasn’t 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 endless complaints …as much as I dared anyway!

The struggle to find yourself.


Sometimes, even knowing who you’re NOT
is a step towards discovering
Who you ARE!

© Sylvia Darling 2017

Part Two

Eddies' unexpected appearance turns my World upside down!

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 Eddie walking 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 sagged heavily, 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 kicking myself. I should have known 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’ and ‘ALIVE’! 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!

Reflecting upon my Mothers' vicious and spiteful behaviour.

My Mother had quite obviously known he was coming, she was relaxed and happy, and not at all surprised, in fact she had a gloating little smile on her face, and I suddenly knew why she hadn’t told me anything about it or prepared me in any way at all for what she knew could only come as an ENORMOUS shock to me. Now we were spending so much time together I’d come to realize just how spiteful 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 selfish, petty and childish 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 profoundly unpleasant, deeply wounding remarks for which there had been absolutely no need 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 searing, and devastatingly rude ‘observations’!


Eddie is unexpectedly hostile towards me.

Eddies attitude towards me that morning came as a very 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 still had no idea how misguided that 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 ‘side’ 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 myself 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 he too 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 any of these things, I only thought about the different ways he’d hurt me, 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.

Unforgiveness is a HUGE impediment to spiritual growth.

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 saw things, felt 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 divided 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 delighted with the success of her ‘shock tactics’, and absolutely revelling in all the attention Eddie was giving her. She was the type of woman who had 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 she, with her mercenary, self-serving nature, could not 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 didn’t. 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 incredulous eyes.

I no longer 'feature' in my Mothers secret little World.

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 excluded me from their evidently blossoming relationship. I wasn’t even a spectator, or an ‘extra’ on her own personal little Movie Set. As soon as Eddie left after one of his visits she would ‘close down’ completely, 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 the right to feature in the Movie she called ‘Her new life’. I was Officially back on the periphery of her World again, excluded from playing any real part in it. It’s a hurtful and emotionally damaging way to live, knowing the only person you have in your life doesn’t care one iota 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 recoiled inside, staggering, reeling from the impact of her words. I stared at her, dumbstruck. My eyes filled with tears…I wanted to CRY, sob, SHOUT, scream… but didn’t. What would have been the point? Waves of utter misery,dread and sorrow crashed down over me, plunging me immediately to the deeply-furrowed depths of despair. I was so bitterly disappointed: our newlife had just turned into a repeat of the old only with prettier scenery. She glowered at me defiantly for a long moment just daring me 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 always 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’.


Appalled, I recall what my life with Eddie was like.

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 SEE again and now she was bringing him here, 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 a Regiment, 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 matter. I didn’t ‘count’. 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 PEACE... but now he was BACK IN OUR LIVES AGAIN - my Mother had brought him back!

NEVER confide in a narcissist!

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 far 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, tried to share a bit of myself, my thoughts, my sorrows. It had been a HUGE mistake, one I’d never repeated. She’d stomped all over me like an elephant trying to stomp on a mouse furious at the suggestion that I had EVER been unhappy or experienced any pain or heartache. How DARE I imply that she could POSSIBLY have ERRED or ‘failed’ me in any way or been the cause of any pain? She had been a ‘perfect Mother’ and made “wonderful provision for us both as children” so what ‘problems’ could I possibly have had, what ‘pain’ could I EVER have felt? She had been absolutely LIVID, 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’.


Eddie moves in and once again my Mother is a bullying dictator.

Eddie moved in soon after my Mothers surprise ‘announcement’ and the air was instantly heavy and oppressive, but somehow the blame for it was immediately placed on my shoulders! 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, the rage that burned inside me were all once again stifled, buried, suppressed. Tears stung my eyes but remained unshed, my emotions unexpressed …it wasn’t ‘allowed’. 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 ‘mattering’ 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 my Mother who had made it patently obvious that an ‘unwanted intruder’ was in fact all I had ever been in her life!

Narcissists always win - they're 'PERFECT' after all!

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 him not my Mother upon whose shoulders most of the responsibility truly lay 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 her, it wasn’t ‘possible’, it wasn’t ‘allowed’, and anyway… she was all I had, the only one I loved 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. I already knew that my own Mother had only let me move into her new flat with her because she’d had no choice, 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 ‘perfect’ after all.

I thought I was nothing, I didn't MATTER so I gave up on myself.

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 never let go of mine! 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 tell me that He Could and Would, 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 open 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.

Emotional and Spiritual shutdown. Letting go of God.

A Prayer

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 one thing – to be left alone. My need for Solitude inevitably increased my sense of isolation, but there really was no other choice. I could only find peaceinSolitude, safetyinSolitude 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 getting through each day relatively intact. Solitude and books, lots and lots of books, they enabled me to dwell 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 trained, ‘required’ to exhibit ALL those desirable characteristics, but the reality of my life then was that I was isolated and trapped behind a new rock-solid façade, not the one my Mother had liked and created, but my own now, so detached from everyone and everything that I actually felt 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 survive life with her, detached from it all, as if none of it actually involved me. 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 enormous psychological and emotional harm my Mother not only caused us herself, but also the DANGER she so uncaringly and negligently exposed us to as children! I think it’s quite extraordinary that after everything she had said and done to me over the years I could still 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!”     [See Introduction!]     Don’t let them do it!   LIVE YOUR LIFE in a way I didn’t get to live mine!


My Mother was of course, triumphantly happy 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 vaguest 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 relationship 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 HURT, 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 include rather than exclude me from their relationship and from what could have and should have been ‘a family’? But I know why that didn’t happen! I learned the hard way that it was a favourite and highly successful ‘tactic’ of my Mothers’ to turn one party against another by skilfully sowing seeds of lies and innuendoes that caused massive 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 was, particularly after the Basement, but when I looked out of the window I often thought of Simon, 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, his life was an endless battle to survive while we had all this space and a beautiful view - it didn’t seem right, didn’t FEEL 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 ‘outside’ of my Mothers’ relationship with Eddie, on the perimeter of her life - we lived as we had always lived ‘separately’, pretending everything was ‘fine’ and everyone was ‘happy’. 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 the shock 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 raw, 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 needed to play along with her ‘loving’ charade, needed 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 irreparably harmed 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 the pain, particularly when you’re just a child and have no-one else but an iron-willed domineering Mother in your life? Those were enormously 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’, unacceptable 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 cared 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 I lived, how I survived.

Mongrel dog.
Trimmed Poodle.
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 she decided on the breed of dog I would have even though it was supposed to be for me! 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 I 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 my delight and her disgust the little ‘Poodle puppy’ turned out to be a fluffy little mutt without an ounce of anything even vaguely resembling a Poodle anywhere to be seen in him! He was exceedingly cute however, very sweet and cuddly, and she very reluctantly bought him for me despite his obvious lack of pedigree! I loved 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.

Tennis raquette.
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 good at, 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 the prestigious Tournament every 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 did 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 far 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 separate and outside myself…it didn’t penetrate my loneliness or isolation. I played Tennis because I
World globe.
loved it and could immerse 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 was! 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 ‘locked up’, unable to accept friendship or open myself up to it. Solitude was better, ‘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 listen to that ‘still small voice within’! A lot of the High School girls were proudly sexually active, a few of them I suspect with him 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 everyone she worked with every day! She was adamant that they were all awful people even though I had never seen any 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 excellent cook and made a delicious 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 wonderfully 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 far too stressful and nerve-wracking to actually enjoy! I could never be pleased enough, appreciative 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 OVER and all the forced ‘gaiety’ and ‘celebrations’ could stop! As a Mother myself now I sometimes reflect upon just how grudged 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 to agree with her decision and PRAISE, admire and appreciate her wonderful 'thoughtfulness’ regardless of whether I actually liked or even wanted 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, dreading 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 my idea of FUN and I didn’t see a single thing I liked! 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 was REALLY ‘cheap and nasty’! None of that seemed to bother my Mother however, and by the time we had been through every stall at least twice and I wanted nothing more than to go home and forget the whole thing, she decided we were buying SOMETHING regardless 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 very definitely didn’t like 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 STEAM coming out of her ears as she vehemently insisted that Eddie had said he took her “as his AWFUL wedded wife” on purpose! He probably did! 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 REALLY mattered to her was that FINALLY, after all the men, all the affairs, all the plotting and all the YEARS of waiting, she had actually got SOMEONE to MARRY HER!


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. There were so many of them, all heart-breaking, pitiful remnants of the people they had once been. It was an awfulsight…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.

Worsening addiction, and failing health. Leaving school at 15.
Homeless people.

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 very carefully monitored. 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 ‘wonderful opportunity’ we would ‘bond’ again, and I would instantly be transformed into a devoted and loving Nurse/Companion for him, neither 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 a convenient 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 ‘Goodbye’! 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 me 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 mattered. 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 meant 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 slammed her bedroom door shut right 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 still stomping around in a fearful 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 nothing, better than being left there by himself, and that’s probably the only good thing you could say about it! We weren’t close, we didn’t talk, we were just there …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 numbness 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... her boss. 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 to DIE, he had been getting BETTER…stronger not weaker.

Death is a devastating blow - we are powerless to prevent it. There is nothing we can do to change it or make less shocking. 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 his stroke, 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 instantly 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.


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 bereavement. 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. I was appalled to realize I had never even thanked Eddie for giving me a home all those years ago, when I was just a little girl. It had been his home, and taking us both in had been his sacrifice, his magnanimity, 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 cared about Eddie, that perhaps he had scraped out a place for himself in my heart too until he was DEAD, and then it was too late…too late to forgive him and to ask him to forgive me. I was left feeling like some inhuman monster because part of me had been relieved that the end to his suffering and ours had finally come. I had lost the only father-figure I had ever had in my life but couldn’t make sense of any 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.

The guilt that follows bereavement the need to forgive ourselves


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

Christ died to set YOU free. He died to take away your pain, your sicknesses, your diseases both of the body and the mind.

He did it ALL. He PAID the price.

"The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised...This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." [Luke 4:18 & 21]

I had so many conflicting emotions, so many different memories of the years Eddie had been a part of my life. There was the sweetness of the ‘furry’ chest moment, the humour of ‘my horsey’ when I insisted on playing Chess the way I wanted to and not according to the rules he was trying to teach me. There was the extraordinary delight of the Christmas Tree he would decorate each December, bringing incredible delicacy and beauty to illuminate and uplift however briefly, the gloomy and depressing circumstances of our daily lives. But then there were all the unhappy times, full of sadness and bitter despair, the times of bullying and tyranny, all these formed the larger, more predominant part of our lives together. What did I DO, what could I DO with the pain of all those memories?

Laying our heartaches and pain at the foot of the Cross.

The Redeemer

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 My God, 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.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his names’s sake. 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. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23 KJV

Unfortunately, I still had a long and winding road to travel before I found Him again, and before I fully understood not only my childhood revelation of God but also the other truths I’ve shared here…there was no-one to tell me, no-one to guide my feet along the path I was meant to follow.


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 completely insensitive but also appallingly rude 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 callousness. The Doctor exited rapidly …he had little choice! It was one of the very few times I was grateful for Simons’ quick-temper and his devastating ability to verbally reduce anyone 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 anything dead – birds, flies, dogs, cats whatever and definitely didn’t want to touch a human body, but she became so RUDE, so insulting, so INSISTENT 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 ‘good enough’ care of him, or what her reasons were for making me do it, all I do know is that she made the whole experience so much worse, so much more horrifying than it ever needed to be, but I actually do think it was malicious and that she once again had a perverse need for vengeance. She was that sort of woman…if she hurt, someone else was going to hurt MORE! She not only had to get her ‘pound of flesh’ but also EVERYTHING had to be done the way she wanted it to be done even that! I couldn’t even say ‘goodbye’ in my own way, grieve in my own way. I suffered from the most horrendous nightmares for days afterwards… 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.]

Mothers spiteful and bizarre behaviour, adopting new personas!

Part Three

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 oozed hostility from every pore, quite clearly blaming me for everything that had happened. She shed very few tears but would indulge in the most flamboyant and ostentatious outward displays of ‘grief’ imaginable, behaving as if NOTHING in life could possibly MATTER 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 an Eternity 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 new 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 was 'all alone' by insisting on travelling seperately, refusing 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 STILL wondering WHY I couldn’t cry.

Twiggy type girl.
Red London Bus.
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 the World how much he meant to her”. All in all, it was a mind-blowing performance! This was the Era of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Mary Quant! Before that she had wafted into her Office at around ten o’clock in the morning when everyone else started punctually at 9am, including her boss, in fact he usually got there before everyone else and opened up the place! She however, felt it befitting for a person of her ‘stature’ and after all, she did ‘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 more difficult to live with and virtually impossible to please!

German shepherd dog.
A rather surprising incident occurred about two weeks after Eddies’ funeral that very definitely caused me to wonder just how sincere her ‘deep mourning’ actually was! 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 extremely 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 far above such ‘menial’ tasks!]

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 disdainfully aside, preferring instead to go with her unshakeable belief that her dog was unquestionably a far 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 lovely, wearing NOTHING 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 then as I had been on the morning of Eddies’ death when her boss had been the first person she’d wanted to speak to - not Simon and certainly not me, and I was standing right next to her! She only thought of notifying Simon after 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 incredibly dense or woefully naïve 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 far less about the business than anyone in the Office and that they were just as capable of saying “Please phone back tomorrow” as I was …however, she insisted 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 STILL 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 information was not freely available in those days, so I had no knowledge about any of those conditions, I just thought she was ‘difficult’ and never knew quite what to expect on any given day! I understand now that she definitely had three very distinct ‘sides’ to her, and that was without 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 ‘sufferance’ and became increasingly demanding with every day that passed! It was like living with a Regimental Sergeant Major! She insisted that I go to the Cemetery with her every Sunday morning for months after Eddies’ death to put flowers on his grave…there was no choice, no discussion…it wasn’t optional, it was compulsory! I also 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 “selfish”, “nasty”, “unloving”, “neglectful” - 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 everything suddenly seemed to be my fault! 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 ONE THING I was NOT going to give up! I had to be by her side constantly, presumably to bear witness to her inordinate and increasingly bizarre displays of grief, most of which I think probably stemmed much more from GUILT 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 grief-stricken adoration in front of the new and absolutely HUGE photo of Eddie she’d had made which now completely dominated the room. That was traumatising enough in itself, but in addition to that she’d put pictures of him absolutely everywhere, on every available surface - you couldn’t get away from them! It made life completely unbearable because it was like a slap in the face every time you came across one. A wound can’t ever 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 used 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 every time 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, SHE did!

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 and insisted that I sit with her, but large though it was the chair definitely wasn’t designed for two 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 look and feel like a complete idiot! She was fond of ‘setting scenes’ like that…scenes that made her look 'saintly’ and me 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 extraordinary ‘repercussions’ that would have been all my fault - so at the end of the day, what choice did I REALLY 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 emotional frailty’, 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 that! She was quite right of course – I didn’t usually do that either!

I had actually enjoyed 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 absolutely delighted 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 anybody happy when she wasn’t …she had to bring the focus of attention back to herself and her ‘grief’.

Sadly, her ‘overwhelming grief’ hadn’t made her the slightest bit 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 very 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 excruciatingly painful, but what do you say to someone as totally self-absorbed and unfeeling as THAT, 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 ‘fictitious’ headaches” Case closed!


My Mother seemed to spend more and more time living in her own strange little World… a World far removed from mine! She still 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, making sure it reflected ‘suitable’ emotions. If it didn’t I soon heard all about it! As far as she 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 occur 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 her mind I had just been ‘lounging around’ all day having a GREAT time at her expense! She genuinely thought that! Presumably all the cooking and cleaning had been done by magic, not by me!

A very 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 called ‘The Blues of T-Bone Walker’, it was soulful and very sad, but also very real, 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 savagely right there in the Store! “What do YOU 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 in pain Life had only ever been a ‘Primrose Hill’, ‘pretty scenery’ experience and NOTHING ELSE!

Small dog jumping over chair.
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, leapt over chairs and ran as if his life depended on it! The rage SHE was in it probably did! I don’t know what he had done to so completely incense her but then she was one of those people who expected dogs to behave like human beings not DOGS, so it could have been for anything! 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 me was that I had actually chosen to laugh in a rather desperate attempt to ‘lighten’ her mood, so that was one 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 no-one in the Office had seen coming, and one which needless to say had absolutely infuriated my Mother particularly since he was marrying a much younger woman, who of course shared his Faith! She had been bad-mouthing him, but particularly 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 absolutely EVERYONE! 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 every 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 'Bonus’ AND the pay increase she required! Knowing that I’m sure my reader can well imagine just how incensed 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' incandescent RAGE!

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 extremely self-conscious 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 very petite and I most definitely was not! I was fervently praying no-one would see me because being rather ‘well-endowed’ I filled out every inch of her clothing, so much so that everything was virtually bulging at the seams! I was quite MORTIFIED 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!

Naturally, 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 ear-piercing screech of brakes and a rather different 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 EVER walked before! You should have seen 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 her 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 absolutely DESPERATE to get SOMEBODY to take me off her hands… anybody!

Honouring a Polish war hero.

For Eddie

Captain Edward Michalak - Virtuti Militari
Place of Birth: Lodz, Poland

A man, a hero, someone who made a difference and deserved better, from all of us.


He had piercing blue eyes in a strong, manly face,
The deeply-lined brow of his War-torn race;
An impressive man, handsome but stern,
His life was cut short before I could learn.
Child that I was I didn’t understand
That the bitter abuse never was planned,
A lifetime of pain had left its mark,
And, for this hero, the future was dark.
The fraying of temper, the pressure on nerves,
These are the things the family observes.
Oh, hateful intolerance that lives in a child!
Why was I angry when I should have been mild?
How I wish I could tell him the sorrow I feel,
But now it’s too late, and my regrets all too real.

Sylvia Darling

© Sylvia Darling 2017

Eddie had two great loves in his life, the first was Poland the land of his birth, the second was my Mother. Sadly, he and I never achieved any kind of rapport or mutual understanding during our time together, too many obstacles stood in the way, but thankfully nothing prevents me from seeing and understanding now just what a remarkable man he truly was. He was ‘a man amongst men’ in so many ways, a devoted patriot who would I am sure have had a distinguished career in the Polish Armed Forces had Life not dealt him a blow from which he was unable to recover. It was a blow that unfortunately struck at the very core of his being, for he lived to serve his Country…it meant everything to him. Eddie was an extremely intelligent man, he had a quick mind and the dignity, courage and personal charisma always found in natural Leaders who inspire loyalty, dedication and outstanding acts of bravery in those who follow them. The actions of his incredibly loyal batman and compatriot who searched through that gruesome battlefield at Monte Casino until he found him, unconscious and close to death, and carried him in his arms all the way to the Field Hospital prove that Eddie possessed all those qualities...but that man was a hero too.

A life of constant pain, particularly if there is also a physical disability of any kind, wears even the strongest of individuals down and saps a little bit more of their mental and physical strength every day. The regular or excessive use of powerful drugs also takes its toll, affecting the mind, body and personality, often quite dramatically. During all those desperately unhappy years in the Basement I can remember only one day when Eddie wasn’t in pain, he couldn’t believe it, and I couldn’t believe the astonishing change in him. Suddenly he was a completely different person, the tension, the torment, the rage had gone. He turned to me with a boyish, beautiful, wide-eyed smile and said "how wonderful it was not to be in pain”. I saw a side of him that day that I had never seen before, nor would ever see again…a warmth, a gentleness, a gaiety, a charm that pain normally squeezed out. It was so very sweet, so very touching. A memorable and profoundly moving moment that was all too brief…the pain came roaring back again just a short time later. I’ve never forgotten that day. It told such a tragically sad story all of its own.

For the last year of his life Eddie was mostly bed-bound: he spent his days gazing out of his bedroom window at Primrose Hill but I know in his heart he yearned for the hills of his Homeland. He never said as much to me, he didn’t need to. Many times when I took him a meal or a glass of black tea I would find him sitting on the side of the bed staring out of the window with such a faraway look in his eyes and the merest hint of a smile on his lips, and I knew in his heart and mind he was back in Poland again, wandering in the fields and hills surrounding the small farm he lived on as a boy. He looked so happy and peaceful then that there was no need for words...they would have spoiled the moment…I left him to dwell in the much sweeter land of his dreams.

Picture of Polish Tatras.


Specifically for Servicemen and Women and their families.

Part Four

This Section is for men and women all over the World who answer a different Call on their lives and dedicate themselves, and inevitably their families too, to the Service of their Countries. It is a service that costs all of them far more than we will ever realize.

The Call

For those who hurt, for those who bleed,
A salve for their wounds,
And the reason they bleed.
For those who seek a reason for it all,
The Answer – The Truth,
Come HEED His Call.
For those who hunger,
For those who thirst,
For those who feel forever cursed,
The Answer – The Truth,
Come, HEED His Call,
The Messiah is waiting…
The ANSWER to it all!

© Sylvia Darling 2017

Just as there is a Call into Gods’ Service, so too is there a Call to Arms, a Call to Military Service. God calls people in many different ways. A Nations’ people have to be protected as much from the repercussions that are actually the result of bad actions and choices their own leaders have made over the years as they do from unwarranted attacks from external aggressors. The Bible tells us that God puts all leaders and rulers in the positions they occupy, and at times we all wonder why, particularly when we see the evil actions of some of those leaders. It is however a fact that any Nations appointed leader reflects the heart attitude of some within that Nation, for better or for worse. God permits bad rulers to emerge in Nations because it is only then when many are experiencing wrong-doing and oppression that even the goodpeople in the land seriouslyturn to Him, and in some cases, returnto Him because they want to be set free from their oppression. As the well-known saying goes “All that is necessary for evil to flourish, is that good men stand by and do nothing” the truth of that statement has been proved time and time again. Man can rest quite happily in what he doesn’t even realize has become his ‘fallen state’ until a great evil befalls him and shakes him out of his complacent reverie, but he will find himself forced to confront the evil in his own soulbefore God will help him overcome the external evil oppressing him. Constantly compromising religious beliefs and values has led to mankind accepting blatant sin as ‘a grey area’ and tolerating all kinds of aberrant behaviour under the cloak of a ‘live and let live’ mentality. An overly tolerantNation becomes Satans’ playground, and a hive of activity of entirely the wrongkind. Evil flourishes where no-one has the courage, faith or conviction to stamp it out, to draw that line in the sand and say “This far and no further”.

Gods’ children need to heed His Voice, see what’s going on in the World around them and do something about it.


There is an interesting story in Second Kings Chapter Five of The Bible, [KJV] about an Army Officer called Naaman:

“Naamen, Captain of the host of the King of Syria who was a great man with his master and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper”.

The King of Syria, who was incidentally an enemy of Israel, valued Naaman so highly that he sent him, loaded down with gold, silver and clothing, to the King of Israel knowinga prophet of God was there who could heal him. It did not however, even occur to the backslidden King of Israel to call upon either God or his prophet,he merely tore his clothes and flew into a panic having decided the King of Syria was actually looking for a reason to wage war against him! Hearing of the Kings’ distress, Elisha the prophet sent word to him telling him to send Naamen to him “that he might know there is a prophet in Israel”. When Naamen arrived at his door however, Elisha refused to see him, but sent word by his servant that Naamen must wash himself seven times in the River Jordan, a response and instruction which greatly incensed Naamen, he roared "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean?" but after his own men had reasoned with him and calmed him down he obeyed the word of the prophet. “Then he went down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said BEHOLD, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel”.

Picture of the river Jordan.

The River Jordan

Naaman was so awstruck by the experience he had had, so overwhelmed by all that had happened to him that he immediately rushed back to the man of God who had so hugely offended him and said Look at me! Now I KNOW there IS no God in all the World, but in Israel! This was no ordinary cleansing of a leper, others had been healed of leprosy before, the Laws of Moses contained instructions about offerings to be made in that eventuality, but the Lord God of Israel had done something truly remarkable for Naaman, he had not only been healed but he had been renewed...not just in his flesh but also in his spirit! The Scripture tells us "his flesh became again as the flesh of a little child..." Naaman had clearly been totally changedas he immersed himself in the River Jordan that day. Until that moment Naaman had never even thought of himself as a sinner,but as a man serving his King and his Nation, but each time he had immersed himself in the cleansing, baptismal waters of the River Jordan a little more of himself had been revealed to him, his life, who he was, who God was, his sin, his unrighteousness... HE ERUPTED from that water the seventh time full of JOY, healed, cleansed and RENEWED...forever changed by his Revelation of God!

Naaman took his whole Companyback with him and stood before them and before Elisha declared himself a true believer in the Living God of Israel! This was a huge thing for Naaman and something that would have enormous repercussions for him, for his King and for Syria! He sought to bless Elisha with many gifts but Elisha refused them all, then Naaman asked for two mule-loads of the sacred soil of Israel to take back to Syria with him. He had been so moved by the RIGHTEOUSNESS and PURITY of the God he now knew that he would not even offer a burnt offering or a sacrifice to Him on the pagan soil of his own country and he vowed that he would never again offer any kind of burnt offering or sacrifice to any other gods but unto the Lord! His words and actions here are sure signs of humility and a repentant heart!

Another matter of conscience troubled Naaman as a direct result of his revelation of The Living God of Israel for his next words to Elisha were “In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow myself down in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing”. And he [Elisha] said unto him “Go in peace.” Elisha knew God had done a miraculous work in the heart of Naaman that day, he knew that the man who wouldn’t even offer a sacrificeto God on the soil of his pagan land would also find himself unable to bow to Rimmon in his pagan temple… not for his King or his Country!

This is a remarkable story in many different ways. There were manylepers in Israel in those days yet God chose to heal a notorious enemy of theirs, right there on their very own soil…the same enemy who had defeated them time and time again in all their recent skirmishes!It was a clear demonstration of His Supreme Sovereignty and Power, and also a tangible sign of His Displeasure to His backslidden people, but even in this He still also showed them His Grace and Mercy. By healing Naaman and revealing Himself to him He had severely handicapped the Syrian Army, for we never again read of Naaman leading the Syrian Host or attacking those he now knew to be the children of the Living God of Israel! Rather ironically the King of Israel had feared the Syrian King would attack him if he didn’t heal Naaman, but it appears that the irate King attacked Israel anyway because Naaman HAD been healed… but he had also been totally TRANSFORMED!

As we have already noted Naaman had seen and acknowledged that he was a sinful and unrighteous man, and that he was aware that through his miraculous conversion in the cleansing waters of River Jordon he had received Gods’ Forgiveness for his sins, but he then sought through Elisha absolution for future sins he might be forced to commit in the service of his King and Country. Those in the Armed Forces today who feel forced to betray their own consciences and beliefs are not necessarily condemned, not necessarily ‘forever cursed’ as the words of ‘The Call’ acknowledges that some might feel… God knows and sees all things. The reason they hurt, the reason they bleed is because of their Service to their Nation. There is a reason for everything they are called upon to do, but there is no ‘Carte Blanche’ for sin. If God calls you out of a situation you must obey. Only God can address and minister to the problems of conscience and all the pains arising in the hearts of so many through the performance of their duties. Soldiers should no more be held accountable for their leaders’ wrong decisions than the people of the Nation itself are, providing of course it is not an evil in their own hearts too. This is where the humility, compassion and indeed the humanity of the individual comes into play, in the way he carries out or enforces those commands, with kindness or brutality? Where he draws the line reflects his humanity, his calling, his accountability to God, for that is what reflects his own heart but all matters of conscience are in Gods Realm, and not ours to judge.The most important thing for ALL believers who serve in the Armed Forces is to hold onto and heed the following words of Scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5/6 The Holy Bible [King James Version]

We must be guided by Him in all things, but particularly things pertaining to the lives and deaths of others. You will either have peace in your heart about a certain situation or you won't.God whispersto our spirits. He does not bellow, but we have to learn to listen, and toheedthat still small voice crying out to us from within our own spirits,for thatis the Voice of God.

Christian Poem.

Open Doors

I used to be afraid of God,
Afraid that He might see
The many pains within my heart
As sins between Him and me;
But then He made me realize
It was not His will to judge,
But that He’d rather heal with love,
Any hidden hurt or grudge,
And as I slowly yielded
Those secret parts of me,
I found that He could heal them all,
And inside – I was free!

© Sylvia Darling 2017

Many men and women join the Services for far from Godly reasons. Sometimes it is because of a desperate need to ‘belong’ to something, be a partof something, where someone willknow them, where someone might actually evencare about them. It is a terrible indictment of our modern society when so many people in even our most crowded cities feel so dreadfully alone…that nobody cares.Well, God always cares! He always sees, and He always knows everything that’s going on in our hearts and minds!There are no‘misfits’ in Gods’ Eyes, simply those who have yet to reach out to Him and understand He’s there, waiting.


It is because people in the Armed Forces are in such a crucial position to influence the World for evil or goodthat they are subjected to enormous temptations of various kinds, particularly those commonly referred to as the ‘sins of the flesh’. With our modern World being the way it is, all too many people now regard viewing pornographic material as a relatively trivial or harmless pursuit, but it is neither, it corrupts the body and soul in ways we cannot even begin to understand. It is absolutely crucial that Christians have nothing to do with pornography, it erodes everything that is moral and decent in the heart of man. Christ said “…out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications…these are the things which defile a man.” [Matt 15:19/20] In the Sermon on the Mount He said “Blessed are the PURE in heart for they shall see God”. There is nothing PURE about Pornography!Many become addictedto it, some find it considerably lessens their desire for their wives or husbands which in and of itself quite understandably creates huge problems within their marriages, most of which are already under more than enough pressure!

As those who have seen Battle know all too well you cannot UN-SEE something you have SEEN no matter how much you may want to…it’s impossible! In a War-zone you cannot possibly protect yourself from appalling, obscene or even gruesome sights, but in your office or home, on your TV, your cell-phone or your Computer you generally can. The choice is YOURS…as are the consequences. The Apostle Paul says “Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit…” [ I Cor 6:20 KJV]

Dedicating ourselves to God.


Oh Lord, it hurts to deny the flesh,
Those things that are part of me,
But beckon me down a different path
From the one You would have me see.
But as Your Flesh was crucified,
So crucify I mine,
That I may in some way give my thanks
For Your Sacrifice sublime.

© Sylvia Darling 2017

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank not only the men and women who sacrifice so much in the service of their Nations but their families too. Wars don’t only affect the men and women who fight in them, they also have a huge daily impact on the hearts and lives of the families they leave behind, those who have to pick up the shattered remnants of the survivors who do make it back, because although some may emerge from Battle with their bodies intact, their minds are often permanently affected by the horrors they have both witnessed and endured – horrors they seldom share with their loved ones but keep locked up inside themselves where they never heal, never go away. Time heals nothing, love, understanding, compassion and treatment - not only of their physical injuries, but their mental and spiritual ones too, does help, but ONLY God can truly heal the heart and spirit of man.

It is an inevitable fact that men and women in the Armed Forces compartmentalize different, important aspects of their lives, and at times even aspects of their humanity, they have to, it’s the only way they can do what they have to do. This unfortunately means that their loved ones sometimes feel secondary or unimportant to that person but that is simply not true. Their loyalties are inevitably divided at times – it’s a pain that both they and their families have to learn to live with, but it’s not easy on either side. It is hard to accept that the Call to Military Life comes first, and the family second, and children of members of the Armed Forces sometimes find themselves torn between love and what, because of their pain at feeling side-lined, can almost feel like hatred of the Enlisted parent. This is why the whole family needs the love and support of their entire community: knowing we understand and appreciate their sacrifices, their difficulties and are prepared to help, to be there for them when their loved ones can’t be, makes all the difference in the World to them! This cannot be left only to the various organisations within the Services themselves, we all need to step up to the plate to help those who are serving our Nation. Sometimes Servicemen and women are so damaged by what they have seen and experienced during their tours of duty they have nothing left to give physically or emotionally when they do get back, and this is perhaps the hardest part of all for their loved ones to bear, the feeling they can’t reach them, touch them, help them. It is particularly during those times that we need to pray for them and extend a helping hand because only God can truly help, only God can reach, touch and heal the enormous emotional damage done during those times. We all need God in our lives, particularly those who serve their Nations in these difficult, and dangerous ways, they need Him to maintain any kind of balance, humanityand normalityin their extraordinarily difficult lives.

The following poem is dedicated to all who serve, and also their families who serve with them. May it encourage, strengthen and guide all of you when you need it most. Remember, He is there for you just as He was for me during all my most difficult times…if I’d only known just to reach out to Him! If you would like to see what lay at the end of my particular journey click here but please enjoy the poem I have dedicated to you first!

God Bless You All.

Sylvia Darling

© Sylvia Darling 2017

Christian Poem, God Loves Us!

The Wonder Of His Love

God, I sometimes feel hesitant,
Afraid to speak to You,
Yet I know there is no need.
No matter what I’ve done,
No matter how I’ve sinned,
You’re always there,
Reaching out Your Eternal Hand to me.

How can I begin to understand the depth
Of One always ready to Forgive?
Ungrudgingly and with Love,
You always draw me close to You.

Sylvia Darling

© Sylvia Darling 2017

Acceptance of the Bible as Literal Truth.

Thy Word Is Truth!

Thy Word is Truth Oh Lord!
The Light for those that read it,
The Revelation for those that understand it,
Your Love envelops all that embrace it,
Thy Word is Truth Oh Lord!

Sylvia Darling

© Sylvia Darling 2016

For those who have read, been touched by and understood the message of this Website the way is clear and easily understood. God is REAL, His Word The Holy Bible is TRUTH, literal truth that mankind has yet to fully understand.
Years of theological study do not open up or reveal Gods’ Word to us, His Holy Spirit does, but that takes prayer, commitment and a pure heart before God. If you TRULY want to find a better way, His Way, make a commitment to God TODAY… just between yourself and God, no-one else.
There is an area on this page, a click space, a button, call it what you will – it registers NOWHERE except as a tangible sign to you that today you have made a decision, today will be a time of change in your life. The Box will illuminate, and GOD will know that in your heart you have seen and heard, and become a True Believer In The Living God Of Israel. Begin YOUR journey, Hand in Hand with Him today.

God Bless you!

Sylvia Darling

I Believe…Thy Word IS Truth!

A glimpse of the Journey for those seeking a closer walk with God

Sylvia Darling . com


First and foremost, quite obviously, all thanks, praise and glory to God for His Hand in all that has been written and produced on this Website. Secondly, I have of course to thank my wonderful husband Fletcher for his remarkable patience and his outstanding achievement in designing and creating this beautiful Website. I couldn’t have completed my own part in this venture without his unfailing love, support and encouragement and most certainly could not have done any of his! My son Christopher has also been utterly steadfast in his loyalty, love, faith, commitment and devotion. He has supported and financed us every step of the way enabling us to do everything God has called us to do. Words could never adequately express our love and appreciation for all he has done for us.

My heartfelt thanks also go to all those who so generously provide all the beautiful pictures, images and backgrounds for public use via the Internet. How wonderfully talented they all are, and what an enormous blessing their skills have been in the creation of this Website!


Attributions for the photographs used in this website,

Primrose Hill
Pollyanna Statue
The River Jordan Photograph courtesy of The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies

Help lines

Help is available from many Organisations Worldwide and obviously we are unable to list them all. Within South Africa The Teddy Bear Foundation provides magnificent support and understanding to those in need. Beyond their boundaries please reach out to a reputable Organisation in your own location or a trustworthy confidante or perhaps a Minister of religion, but above all pray to your Heavenly Father who will unerringly guide your feet along the path you are meant to follow. God Bless You!

Sylvia Darling.

The Teddy Bear Foundation