Yesterday was my daughter’s prom. We didn’t have prom when I was at school so I didn’t for one moment think of it as something that I would find anything other than joyful. I lost my Mum when I was 17 and this has led to any special life occasion being tinged with sadness. Of course, as I have got older it has become easier but there is always a sadness.
We awoke yesterday bright and early, we were popping to town to pick up some last- minute things for the prom. Just before we left I randomly had a look through a drawer and came across a jumper that my Mum had knitted for me when I was a teenager. As nineties fashion is now a thing, I gave it to my daughter with the strict instructions not to ruin it! Then seconds later I received a message out of the blue with photographs of my Mum when she was young attached. This set me off thinking about her for the rest of the day.
My daughter looked beautiful for prom, she really did, I was so proud of her and suddenly I was hit with just a massive wave of grief. I wanted to send my Mum photographs of her granddaughter, I wanted her here with me to enjoy this moment, to meet her granddaughter, who I know she would have loved. But she wasn’t here, she hadn’t been here for any of my adult life and she never would be and I felt so bloody awful and sad.
It’s strange how it can still hit you, sometimes I worry that I haven’t moved on, I am still that lost 17 year old and then I think of my achievements and I know I am not. It’s just still sad. I think at the time, the feeling around me with my peers was probably relief that it had happened to me and not them, I could be wrong but we were young, I wouldn’t judge them if that was how it was.
Losing your Mum at an early age has a definite impact, my world went from being loved and protected (mollycoddled even) to having to stand on my own two feet. My Dad took it really badly and I was left to deal with him and his issues until he met someone and he moved on.
My grandparents were stars, they tried so hard to take on the role that was left by my Mum, but I was angry, I was being influenced a lot by my Dad and it took a while for me to let them in. I am so glad I did, My Nana and Granda were amazing to me and when I felt like literally my world had changed so much that I no longer recognised any of my relations with family, they were there to unconditionally love me. I was and am forever grateful.
It’s amazing though how your world can change, I had always thought that I was from a really close family, that my Aunts and Uncles and other family members looked at us as we looked at them. I assumed that they would want to help, that they would at least be interested as I know my Mum would have been if the shoe was on the other foot, but this wasn’t the case. They had their own family and that was that (apart from one Aunt and Uncle). I was so disappointed and rejected. It’s hard to go from secure and loved to mostly alone.
This is when I started drinking heavily, I just needed a release from my feelings and alcohol provided that. I don’t even think I realised that is what I was doing, probably not for years and years but I was.
Then of course there is the issue with your Mum dying young that for some, and I definitely felt this, we feel that we will go early too. I was convinced that I would go the same way as she did. This resulted in brain scans and investigations by the doctors and even though it really was a risk that I too would have an aneurysm, I do wonder if the investigations were mostly done to put my mind at rest. It’s hard not to be self-destructive when you think you’ll die soon anyway. Reaching the age she was when she died was a turning point. On the actual day I had a mini breakdown, I cried most of the day and was not nice to be around. As the days followed and nothing happened, I began to relax. I still struggle with the worry that I am not here for long, but I am managing it better. I still can’t watch a film where the Mother dies early without becoming completely distraught!
The problem with feeling like you will die soon is that it also means you can’t see the point in getting healthy. I couldn’t see the point in dealing with my issues around alcohol if I was going to die soon. I stupidly thought I loved alcohol so much that I would be wasting drinking time if I stopped as I was off soon anyway. If only I had known how special life is without it.
I had a bit of an issue with self -pity too, all of these women moaning about their Mums, the same Mums that were there with them! The same Mums who were there to help and advise with childbirth, parenting, husbands everything. I had none of that and they really annoyed me. It didn’t help that my Nana died when my children were still very young either. I just wanted and needed that older lady in my life and I didn’t have it. I was angry and lost and I felt really sorry for myself, which of course meant that I deserved a drink, I mean who wouldn’t?
So where am I now? I am still shocked that days like yesterday happen, when I am once again overcome by the loss, by the grief, by the sadness, by the anger but by not drinking I have given myself the permission to move on, to feel better today. I still miss her, of course I do, but I am not hurting myself and using her death as a reason to do it.
Not having a Mum (or Mam in my case) is shit, utter shit. I have hated it and wish it wasn’t so, but it is how it is. So today I have calmly explained to my daughter why yesterday was hard, I have lit a candle for my Mum and I am calmer and appreciating what I had with her and I am appreciating all of this sober. Which I am truly grateful for.
Sending so much love to anyone who is grieving, it’s a big ball of cat shit xxx