By Teresa Joyce
Key Themes: memoir, mental health system, abuse, sexuality
The subject of my book covers more than one issue; itís a true story that ranges over a period of
many years. It covers the first married years of my motherís life, and the abuse she received from my
now deceased father. The hardship she found within her life in so many ways, no one should have
ever had to go through, but sadly it just seemed to follow her around. Some years later she
remarried, but unfortunately this union would tear her once more into tiny pieces. She would see
everything slipping away from her. Was her husband really having an affair with her daughter? It
seemed to her that was the case, why would he lie? It would see the breakdown of her complete
family unit, scattered to the wind without care.
I would find myself in a situation that I had no control over, and in the grip of a complete madman.
To follow there would be self mutilation, and the bartering of shot guns as if it were an everyday
occurrence. The threat to life was very real, my own included.
I would spend many years within the mental health care system; in fact I am still under their care
umbrella. I would move from a heterosexual relationship and into a lesbian relationship. Totally at a
loss of understanding anything controlled by anyone male.
After an accident I was ill health retired, and most of my days are now spend in considerable pain.
This of course gave me a lot of me time, which if I am honest I never really wanted. I was made to
stare into the face, of so many things I had tried so very hard to bury. But I guess that was a little
naive of me, muck will always rise to the surface at some point. The lid on Pandoraís Box was
opening an inch at a time, and no matter how hard I pushed, I was never able to close it again.
People would be hurt both physically and mentally. No one was safe if they stood in the way of my
stepfather and what he claimed was his.
Years later I would sit and watch my mum die, when if dealt with properly it should never have
happened. They say the good die young, or that they were too good for this world. Well both
proverbs to my mind sit well whenever I think of her. To this day I stand in awe of the person I was
so proud to call my mum. Itís a story that needs to be told for that fact alone.
Itís a story that resembles hell and it was my life for many years, as such I am equipped with
everything I need, to help you relate to the madness which ensued. Although this has been
extremely difficult for me to write, my hope is that someone out there may take some strength from
it, if finding themselves in a similar situation. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel; all we
have to do is reach out for it.
I understand that this book/memoir is just a little different to most other memoirs i.e. most are
written by ghost writers. This was something I never even considered. To my mind I had to be the
one to write this. I hoped and needed to be able to express my feelings within its pages, as no other
person could. With the best outcome being, that you would feel like you were taking this journey
with me. Strangely I feel an amount of support, at being able to think that you are out there. There is
a fine line between sanity and insanity; I know this personally, through the experiences I have had to
go through involving my stepfather. I also have a personal insight of my own, of a mind battling to
stay on the right side of that line, because in truth, I came so very close to crossing over myself.
About the Author
Teresa Joyce was born in 1958 the middle child of three. After losing her father at a very young age;
it was to set the pattern for the rest of her life. Losing was something that she would have to get
used to. Today she still has some memory of her father, but in truth itís all a little hazy. Her mother
through no fault of her own after that loss had no other alternative, then to return to her parentís
home with her children in tow. This family unit were to spend only a few years there, until the wind
of change came around once more. Teresa still holds many happy memories from her time there as
a child. Happy memories are something that Teresa holds in very short supply, and she has treasured
them always. Her mother was set to meet the man that was to become her stepfather, and they
moved on once more to a new city with the promise of a new life. Hopefully it would be a happy one
for all concerned, but it became a place for Teresa that felt far more like a prison. One in which she
would spend many days months and years hating. Teresa swore to herself that she would leave all
this behind her at the first possible occasion. She can still clearly remember the day that she left that
family home and joined the Royal Air Force. It was just two months off her sixteenth birthday. Her
stepfather had informed her that to remain living in his house, she had to live by his rules. This was a
big decision for her to take being so young, but she could no longer live by any rules that he
imposed. Never really understanding at that time, what she was really running from. Memories of
those years living by his rules were buried so deep, that previous years and events were only a burr
to her. Teresaís Time spent while in the Royal Air Force was very rewarding, and she involved herself
in all and everything possible. After meeting her ex -husband whilst she was on leave, she then left
this all behind her and married. It was greatly missed and in retrospect, it would be something that
she would live to regret many years later. Life as a married woman changed many things for her; the
biggest of all would be the arrival of her son. Teresa loved him even before he was born, and he is
still able to pull on her heart strings daily.
Sadly after many years, she found herself unable to stay within that marriage. The onset of a set of
circumstances beyond her control would stamp its seal, rendering the marriage unworkable.
Engineered by the involvement of the one man Teresa had learnt to hate - her stepfather. The
marriage was dissolved and there was no going back on her part, that door was firmly closed behind
her. Some years later she would find herself in a long term lesbian relationship, firmly believing that
anything touched by a man was tainted; bringing with it only pain and heartache. Teresaís thoughts
at that time were that the worst was surly now behind her, but her life was set to make another turn
from her envisaged path. It was to arrive in the form of an accident, which once again would alter
her life forever. After many months and many doctors reports she was ill health retired, unable to
return to work in either one of her two loved occupations. Teresa was affected by this far more then
she could have ever expected, she was left alone with nothing but time, and still within the mix of a
completely insane situation; it was at this point that Teresa would enter into the mental health care
system fully, to have any hope of dealing with everything going on around her. That care umbrella is
still part of her everyday life. The loss of her mother through less than adequate health care, brought
her pain like she had never thought possible. Teresa saw herself delving deeper and deeper into her
own unconscious thoughts, revealing to her at that time memories which seemed so alien.
Ultimately her mental health would prove to be a factor, in the disintegration of her then lesbian
Itís something that Teresa is still trying to come to terms with even now. She now lives alone with
only a small dog for company, which in truth she is happy with. Firmly believing that she canít hurt
those she loves, if they are not there for her to do so; to her mind segregation is the answer. Teresa
is still unable to work and in constant pain daily. Maybe today you could say that she has once more
taken back control of her life, but only outwardly. The truth is she still carries the past along with
her, like an uninvited guest at a party. The one that never seems to know when the party is over and
itís time to leave. Teresa is now trying to live her life as fully as possible, through her son and
grandson; they have become her light at the end of the tunnel.
Where do I begin to write this? I guess I need to go back to 1994 and chronicle events as and when
they occurred. At times I will also need to reference childhood. Some relevant history surrounding
that time is needed; the reason for this is that without the knowledge of past events, it would be far
more difficult to understand. As we proceed through this book you will be able to see exactly why it is
so relevant, and the conflict of interest I would find myself in as an adult. In truth, maybe I am now
trying to heal myself through this process, but I am also hoping that maybe someone will read this
book and take some strength from it.
It was not until I sat down to write this, that memories I wish I could have left buried hit me full in the
face. But you know nothing ever really stays that way; buried that is. You want it to and you pray
that it will, but itís always there. You try to understand it; you convince yourself it was your fault
entirely; you look into the mirror and you hate yourself. I am remembering times and events that
were so very difficult for me to live though, and to be honest at times I didnít want to. Having just
passed my fiftieth birthday I now feel ready. Maybe I have now reached a point in my life when I feel
a little stronger, so itís time to open Pandoraís Box. What will I find there? Well I guess I am not
going to know until I can no longer close the lid. How it will affect me? I havenít a clue, I just know
itís something I have to do; I need to find some kind of closure.
I feel itís only right that I refrain from the use of names while writing this book, or indeed exact
months or years. They will only be given loosely if at all. It will be enough to just stick to the decades
these events spanned over. This is not because I feel the need to hide my own identity in any shape or
form, but there are still people living that I need to consider. For this same reason I will also not be
disclosing my real name. If I were to do so I could then be linked by association to others, causing
them untold pain. All of the facts that I am about to tell you were well documented by my own
doctor at that time, along with the numerous people I have seen within the mental health care
system over the years. There has been many, all hoping that they can help me put this to be - lay it to
rest as it were. To this day that has not been possible for me; the truth is that I am still under that
care umbrella, fighting to find some peace. When will I be totally discharged? I am really unable to
answer that question.
So what is my purpose or intention? It is too hopefully rid my head of the demons which seem so
reluctant to leave, and not to cause new ones in others. So I reiterate here once more, thatís not my
aim. It may be the case that if this book is ever printed, someone will pick it up and recognise
themselves in it, but that will then be their own choice over how they receive it and deal with their
own emotions. The point I am trying to make is that recognition will not be forced upon them. How
will this book turn out? I have no idea, as I have never thought of myself as a budding author. Itís not
even something that I have ever thought about as my chosen career. But this story needs to be told.
It may never leave the hard drive of my computer, but if it does, hopefully, I can at least make it
readable and find some escape for myself. This is a true story, but you will never know just how many
times I have wished and prayed that it wasnít. They say that there is a book inside of everyone just
waiting to be written, be it a fairy tale, fact, or fiction, so this is to be my offering and all based on
fact. In some cultures they think and believe you know if the devil crosses your path, and if this was
not him it was a very close relative.
The first few chapters may read a little like a reference book, but they are an essential ingredient.
They are the calm before the storm, where I am hoping and trying to paint a picture. I have toyed
with the idea of not doing so, but to my mind they are greatly needed. There is a difference between
fact and fiction. While writing fiction you can quite easily embellish the story, but non-fiction is all
about the facts. We will quite quickly reach a point in the book where they cross over, and no
embellishment is needed. Thereís a fine line between sanity and insanity
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 16 February, 2011.