By L A Westfall
Key Themes: childhood abuse, sexual abuse, depression, recovery, schizophrenia
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'Mother II' is the brave follow up to 'Mother', LA Westfall's equally brave and revealing book on childhood abuse and depression. 'Mother II' brings the story up-to-date and focuses on how a childhood of abuse can affect the abused in adulthood. This is the autobiography of a caring woman, with a loving family, and her struggle to see life through joy rather than pain. Her schizophrenia wakes with her each day in the form of her biological mother’s voice. Only the love with which she is provided keeps her breathing.
About the Author
I was born in London in the year 1962. I grew up spending most of my life in Essex, first with abusive parents then in care homes, until I was seventeen. I found fantastic foster parents who loved me like their own. I learnt to love and be loved too. I met and married a wonderful man and sixteen years later he is not only my husband, but my very best friend. Together we have a son Richard, and a daughter Nikki. Family means everything to us. I suffered with mental illness from a very young age. But with the support of my family I always came through the other side. If by writing this book I can help just one child, then reliving it would have been worth while.
Ma`s sister Josie held the reception at her house, we went but only for a short while, for we both needed to get home, “to dad’s home”. I began to feel very close to ma, for she really needed me, more so than I needed her. I think they were married for forty three years, yes that’s a life-time for some. I knew how much I missed him, so I could only imagine what ma was going through. That night we decided that whenever we wanted to talk about him we would do so freely. For a number of weeks we were living in a world of our own but we didn’t care, it felt like dad was still around, somewhere in the background. I looked at his death certificate. It read chronic obstructive airway disease, in other words: my dad’s dead.
I felt I had to get away, mother was having a field day with me, I was frightened that I would do or say something I would regret. So I phoned my friend Jane Weaver who now lived in Wakely, ten minuets down the road, and asked if I could stay with her for a while. At once she said “yes” and I put the phone down and went upstairs to pack.
Ma didn’t understand me like dad did, well how could she? Dad had stuck to his word and told her nothing, trying to explain to ma that I needed space and that I would be back was impossible, it had turned into a row, I left the house in anger. Jane didn’t know about dad, I didn’t know about Bobby, we both had some catching up to do. All these years later Jane was still my little ray of sunshine. She gave me what I needed, “space”. Bobby, her son, was a beautiful baby: he had dark brown eyes and his smile was just like Jane’s. Poor girl, she also had been through hell, but we decided that with each other’s help we might just make it.
The first two weeks I carried on taking my pills, but then I ran out, Jane knew nothing so I had no way of getting more pills. The week before I had posted my sick money from the farm to ma, for I knew she would need it, but I decided, when I got my pay the following day that I would not send it, I would take it and see if ma could get some pills.
As I walked down north road I felt very nervous, even a bit scared, not about ma, but about going back into dad’s house. Would he be mad at me for not doing as he asked? For although I had only been away for two weeks, I had begun to feel I was letting him down. Though I knew he would understand why, I needed some space. Unlike ma as I opened the front door, I could still feel the glow of love, it hit me right in the face. I walked into the kitchen where ma was asleep in dad’s chair: she looked pale, in fact she looked awful. I looked around the room; everything was just the same: dad’s books were still on the shelf, ashtray on the window sill, foot-stool next to the unit, even his walking stick over the back of his chair, and still the feeling of peace and love my darling dad always gave off. Ma woke and was very pleased to see me, as she fully awoke she came and cuddled me, there was nothing different in her voice, and I asked: “Were you ill?” She replied: “No, just very sad and lonely”. I knew I had to repay this woman’s kindness and love, I had to return home, I owed that and more.
Our lives over the next two weeks slowly started to improve, I don’t mean that we missed dad any less, but we both realised that our lives had to go on. Although if it had not been for dad’s last words to me, I knew I would have ended it all by now. I went back to work, but I seemed to have lost the zest for my job; whether it would return I didn’t know or even cared for, at the end of my day, I had no one to share my inner soul with. Ma also returned to her job in the shop, she found it worse than me because the staff and customers couldn’t help but say: “how sorry they were”. It was in my eyes a very cruel and unkind world, if only people could realise what comments like that can do to you. Ma was very strong, something I had never seen in her before.
My friend Jane and her son Bobby remained very close to ma and me, her ‘good for nothing’ boyfriend was nowhere to be seen, she was very young to be a mum, but the love she had for Bobby was indeed proof of what a good mum she was. I admired her, the way she managed her home and child, just like a woman twice her age. It was my first encounter with babyhood. I can’t say it appealed to me, animals were by far easier. Having them both in our lives gave us something to focus on, and what better than a new life.
It would take both of our wages to pay the rent and run our home. I gave ma my wages on Friday very willingly, after the old bills were cleared, ma said “we could work something better out”. Money didn’t mean anything to me, even before dad died.
We managed for another year or so, but then mother suddenly got louder and louder, I was unable to go to anyone, talk to anyone, I was alone. With her relentlessly torturing me, I had nowhere to run, no one to go for help, my world, if that’s what you call it, was crumbling around me. Even Mindy had no hold on me or even dad’s words. For after quite a short time I found, yet again, that I had nothing to live for. (I think I was so worn out after losing my dad, I had nothing to fight mother with).
I took a massive overdose and was rushed into the general hospital for a stomach pump, I was then placed on a male ward, because that was the only bed available at the time. I once again woke to the horrors of not dying. Ma was not beside my bed as my dad would have been. I couldn’t believe that, again, I had failed and worst of all, I knew that I would be put back in the mental hospital, “WHY, HOW” could any god make me go on? My whole body and mind were beyond repair, at last “mother had won”. I had no words or answers to ma’s questions. In-fact I had no desire to talk to anyone but the elderly man in the bed next to me. He did not give up, even the fact that he thought I was a lad didn’t make talk to him, I wished the whole world would just leave me alone. Since my dad had gone my life had become worthless, I just seemed to work and function like a robot, I had no path to follow, no direction, no meaning, I know I had ma, but it was dad who taught me the meaning of life. To see beyond my inner prison, for ma had no knowledge of my inner world, only my beloved dad knew, and could guide me, in fact, how I carried on for all this time without him, I just don’t know.
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'Mother' by L A Westfall
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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 25 April, 2007.