I stir my coffee with a spoon watching the milk swirl round the cup. I think again back to my childhood. Darcee my British Shorthair Cat settles on the table in front of me watching me purposely.
I am now taken back to the 1960’s, London post war. In April, 1965 I enter the world to parents Eva Hollon and Edwin Jaclman. Born at Perivale Hospital; a Hospital built to cater for single mothers. My mother was 17 and already had my sister, Delia, who had a different father to me. I was to discover later in life, some 30 years later that my mother had a turbulent upbringing. She was one of 4 the other siblings being brothers. My grandfather had poor mobility and worked as a waiter in hotels. However, he had suffered from Polio and this had affected his stability particularly his legs. One day my mother informed me that my grandmother locked all the children in one room and then without hesitation jumped out of the upstairs window with the intent to kill herself. She, survived but with serious injuries and ended her life bedridden and at the end dying of cancer. You can not imagine the depths of despair she must have felt but that despair was then transferred onto innocent children some of who never were the same again.
My mother met my father on a night out in London. She was impressed by my dad who was an articulate and handsome young man who had come from Barbados as a teenager with the promise of a golden ticket . He came over alone without his parents and to the big city of London where he managed to find work as a panel beater. Difficult as times were he also found and eventually bought a house which he used to rent out to his friends. Friends who found it difficult to find digs at that particular time due to the fact that racism was very much prevalent and some lodgings would actually preclude coloured people.
My dad had a large number of lady friends and will admit to this day that he probably didn’t treat my mother well. My mother did live with him for a short while but it didn’t work out and she left before I was born. My mother wanted to take me to her family house after I was born but my grandfather would not agree to this given the climate at the time around mixed relationships and prejudice. I was therefore handed over to Barnet Social Services in London for fostering. I was first placed with a couple who were not able to have children and wanted a baby. I don’t have much memory of my time there but I do carry the scars of the treatment I received. I was to find out when I was older that my time there was not happy and I was regularly burnt with cigarettes and have the scars on my lower body to prove this. I was also neglected and left in a cot and not encouraged to walk or interact/talk and subsequently became very withdrawn. When I found out about this treatment it was like the event belonged to a different person.
I was to be removed from the foster home and then went to a childrens home. The lady who ran the home was very kind and loving and this was the first time I had found somewhere to belong and someone who did not abuse me and loved me. I went onto meet her in later life and she informed me that when I arrived at the home all I did was sit and stare into space as I had not developed or learned any social skills. I did however have an immense liking for icecream. I didn’t even know how to smile. I sometimes have visions of this and wonder how I survived and carried on but all I can think is at such a young age as there is little comprehension of events then this acts as a buffer but there is nonetheless desensitisation to feelings and detachment to reality which will never leave me.
At the end I’m lying here with the warmth of my bedcovers clutching them to me closely. I sink into the bed and soak up the comfort of the moment. From my bedroom I can hear the early birds and this draws my attention to the window. The white shutters let in sunlight but I can see a glimpse of the blue sky and marshmallow clouds.
I pull back the covers, sit up and rub my eyes. Swinging my legs out of the bed and placing my feet on the cold bare wooden floorboards, I stretch, and walk towards the door. My cat Darcee a British Shorthair joins me and we both grace the staircase down to the farmhouse kitchen.
Suddenly a feeling of solitary confinement engulfs me and just for a minute I’m taken back to that dark place and have a momentary flashback of my childhood nightmare.
A dark descent falls upon me and I see my adopted father stooping over me like a giant in my bedroom. He wakes me from my sleep with his presence and actions. From within the walls of the dark room somewhere I muster up the strength to tell him to leave me alone and go away. I’m a child of about 7. I cant remember a lot of things as I have removed things from my memory subconsciously as part of my survival. However, I do recall this as a defining moment. He leaves me alone and goes back to his bedroom where my adopted mother lies.
I wont leave it there. I’m a gutsy little girl and I know right from wrong and this is wrong. I follow him down the long corridor to his bedroom. I shout to my adopted mother that he has been in my room. I cant say much more because I cant really articulate what has happened other than knowing its wrong. I’m hoping that she will take me seriously and help me. Please help me. She stirs in the bed and when he says I just wanted my window opening and there is nothing to worry about she goes back to sleep.
I’m left there in despair. The only one person I thought could help me has just added to the violation. I’m alone. Its the end.
I’m left bewildered, alone, isolated and insecure. You know at that moment in time I age about 15 years. There’s a lot to be said about the old adage of “old head on young shoulders”.
I suddenly come back to the present and to the sound of the kettle boiling noisily I make a cup of coffee and breathe in the strong aroma and clear my thoughts. Thoughts that have never left me and are never far away and constantly causing me to grapple with the reality of the whole situation.
This is the end…..
Ok. I don’t know who’s out there but this is the start of my journey with you and although I’m alone right now I know there’s more people out there so I can’t wait for you to join me and go forward with me to the road of recovery. It’s quite apt that I should talk about roads/and paths because in each of us we have to chose subconsciously which direction we go in and by taking those footsteps we set off on the road/path of recovery. We may look for signs along the way, for directions and even ask people we don’t even know what direction we should take and even though meeting them on this one encounter we trust their judgment in telling us where to go. This pretty much sums up life. Do we go up or down around in circles up and down hill. My life has been an emotional rollercoaster and I guess many of you may feel that way too. I’ll be sharing with you over the months how my life had gone down many roads and paths to bring me where I am today.
My last thought of inspiration for you: what ever place your in there is a better life and way just be strong and hold on.
Speak tomorrow x
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