“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”- J.K Rowling
I knew from about the age of 10 or 11, Mum wasn’t going to grow old and grey. She had lived her life to the full and even though she was a compassionate, flamboyant and fun-loving human being. She was also a troubled soul who used alcohol to self-medicate for a long time.
I grew up in what some would call a normal family and others may even say a privileged upbringing. I lived in a beautiful village in England with my younger brother, Mum and Dad. We lived in a nice house, went on nice holidays and had nice things. There was a lot of fun and love in our home, however there was also a lot abuse, alcohol, police call outs, arrests, social services, regular explosive and aggressive arguments which would lead to my parents splitting up and getting back together at least twice a year and often on a monthly basis.
This was all part of our ‘normal family’ and another thing that was part of it was Mum’s suicide attempts. I remember the first time I knew what was going on. I was nine and she was crying and saying she couldn’t cope anymore, she had enough of my Dad and me and this is what we had done to her. She sat there with her bottle of wine and a bottle of tablets. I was terrified the first time I saw this but the more I saw it the more I got used to it. In fact, over time this fear I had for Mum turned into anger and resentment for her using her threats of suicide as a form of control when everything was so out of control. I knew she was in pain but I was sick of her hurting us so I learned to distance myself from her. I struggled to talk to her, I struggled to understand her and I definitely struggled to help her.
BEING A BIG SISTER AMONGST THE CHAOS
When I left for University, I genuinely couldn’t wait to leave and get away from it all but the guilt I felt at leaving my brother behind to deal with Mum and Dad and all their problems was quite overwhelming. My brother would ring me distraught when Mum would lock him out, emergency services were called and on one occasion she was threatening both herself and him with a knife. Time went by, I dropped out of University after my first year with the hopes of going travelling. It’s when I went travelling that this hopeless pattern escalated.
After receiving the phone call that Mum wasn’t here anymore, I got an emergency flight home. It was then that I found out my 18 year old brother who had been discharged from hospital within the same week due to a mental breakdown found Mum. It wasn’t a heart attack as I had been told previously and it definitely wasn’t an accident.
HINDSIGHT CAN BE A PAINFUL THING
I couldn’t have been more bitter, angry and hateful towards Mum, myself and the world prior to her dying. My Mum was a loving, beautiful and caring person but I struggled to see this as I couldn’t accept that she could be all these great things at the same time as someone who hurt me so much. Losing her meant I had to accept that she chose to leave this world as she could no longer overcome her pain. Through hitting rock bottom, forgiving myself and accepting my Mum’s choices I have been blessed enough to gain the chance to heal my own pain and to find my own sense of peace and happiness.
I guess I am choosing to share my story today so that if you are struggling and you are in pain, you can know if you fight with what little strength, and hope you have left you can move forwards, you can learn to enjoy life and find happiness. Life is precious so I guess it’s important to make the most of what you have and help those around you who need it.