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!
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’!
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.
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.
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 new life 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’.
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!
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’.
The next instalment of this true life story will be posted on 1st June 2021.
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