Note from the Editor: ‘Elizabeth Kennedy’ is the pseudonym under which our writer has chosen to tell her story – primarily to protect her children from some of the harrowing truths that will be revealed as her story unfolds.
The purpose of telling my story is to provide hope. Hope freed me from despair, destruction and turmoil – released me from the feeling I had nowhere to turn and no way out. My smile is now an extension of my heart. It’s an inner smile. I wore it well for so many years but never really meant it, rarely felt it. Now I do…
My story begins when I was 4 years old but I’ll get to that another time. Right now. I’d like to take you with me, to the lowest point in my life – less than a year ago.
15th June 2017
At 5.30pm on 15th June 2017 I looked at my watch. I was sitting on the edge of the bed I shared with my partner at the time. I was in so much emotional pain that I honestly cannot reach for the words to describe it as I write these lines. I wanted to die. I cried out in despair (literally) for someone to save me. I wasn’t strong enough to help myself and I couldn’t protect my youngest daughter who was suffering so terribly. I had tried and failed many times to ‘fix’ things, so I handed my life over, knowing that if I didn’t it would be the end.
All of this I hid well, or at least I thought so. It turns out everyone close to me could see I was dying on the inside but I simply wasn’t strong enough to listen to them. Head down and make it through the day, that was my life.
On the side of the bed, I begged to be saved. I pleaded for my children to be safe. I cried out that I was lost and needed to know why I was here, and I wanted the pain to stop. I cried and screamed and strangely – in the middle of the chaos of utter despair – I asked for a home that my children would be happy in and that I could afford to pay for on my own.
What happened next
I remember saying that I didn’t want to leave, but if it was the best thing for my children then – make it happen. I didn’t ask for much! The chain of events that unfolded over the next five hours was nothing short of a miracle. Out of the blue, I received a message from a lady who barely knew me, telling me she wasn’t quite sure why she was contacting me but wanted to let me know of a house for rent 4 doors away from my parents’ home. She gave me the number of the landlord. I phoned the number and as it happened, he was on his way to the house to show it to another person but told me to meet him anyway. I did. (I tried to contact my partner to tell him, hoping he would fight for me – convince me to stay perhaps. He didn’t answer his phone). The landlord offered me the house on the spot. I accepted through floods of tears. I phoned a ‘man with a van’, normally impossible to get at short notice, just a random number I found on the internet. This man was available and drove from Dublin to move all of my furniture and belongings into the new house. By 10.30pm that evening, I had a new home.
That’s when I crashed. It was a Thursday. I was wearing denim shorts and a white t-shirt. For four days and nights I curled into a ball, the foetal position. I don’t remember eating, or drinking. I didn’t change clothes or wash. I just remember the pain. It got so bad the following Sunday, that my parents rang the nearest psychiatric hospital – fearing for my life. That call also went unanswered. I had been repeating over and over, day and night, that I wanted to die.
A close friend took me from the bed and lifted me into the shower, undressed me and stayed with me while I made a poor attempt at washing myself. I’ll just mention here that the room I went into, a bedroom in my parents’ home, I’d had a frightening experience in when I was 14 and hadn’t set foot in that room from that day until the 15th June 2017 – 29 years later (I will tell that story another time). The room petrified me, yet it’s where I went to heal. Over those four days I was given all sorts of medication to numb me, sedate me. I can understand why looking back. I can’t imagine watching my children going through pain like that and would probably do the same myself if faced with similar circumstances.
Facing the past head on
The thing is, and I know it so well now, there was something else at work far bigger than my pain, or any pain. While it appeared to the outside world that I wanted to end it all, what I actually did was go to a very deep place within myself, a place you have to go to if you want to heal. There’s no hiding from the truth when you go there. To truly heal, you must feel. And feel I did, every morsel of pain that I’d bottled up for years, I felt it all. Every wrong decision, every time I saw my children hurt, every time I had been hurt, a failed marriage and subsequent partnership, the losses. I felt it all at once. When I say losses, I refer to a very short period (days) where I lost my relationship, my savings, my home, my job, my soul almost. If it weren’t for my two daughters I can’t say for sure that I’d be writing this now.
Finally, I woke up, for the first time in my life. It was Monday 19th June – last year…
Chapter 2 of Elizabeth – coming soon…