Time shift

I don’t know what even made me think of it, but the other day, despite the fact my birthday was a couple of months ago now, I suddenly realised that I’m now 55. How on earth did I get here? Time really has stopped for me since a few years after I became housebound. Actually, it’s not the first time this has happened to me, I was filling in a form when I was 23, it asked for me age, not my date of birth and I actually had to work it out, as somehow, I had held onto being 16. Which would have been really clever of me, as I had been married for 7 years and had two children.

My relationship with time has always been tenuous, probably thanks to my childhood, it stopped for the first time when I suddenly found myself totally alone. I lived from day to day, no family, no real home, just a room in the YWCA, my daily trips to school, and my memories of a life filled with abuse. Marrying at 16 was my escape. The day I got married, was the day I escaped it all, as my now ex-husband was in the navy, and we were going to live in Portsmouth. Love didn’t really come into it when I said “yes”. My “yes”, had far more to do with 580 miles we would be away from hell and his promise to look after me, love could come later. 16 was a good age to stick at, it was my escape age, but like too many people, I had left one hell just to find myself in another. No one likes to think of their lives a clieche but mine was. Six miscarriages and the death of my firstborn, when I was just 19, and a husband who’s abuse at that time was far more subtle than my fathers had been. By 23, I was once more longing to escape, something I thought I had done from life, when I was 16. Waking up to my age, sent me into another hell, as I had to woken up to everything that was happening, the realities of my life.

I didn’t know then, but I already had PRMS. Dealing totally alone with two small children, and being nothing more than the woman who looked after them, cared for his home and warmed his bed. While he had affairs and thought himself so clever that I didn’t know. I knew, I knew all too well, but there was nothing I could do. After all, I was useless, I wasn’t capable of surviving without him. Who would give me a job, who would employ someone so stupid, so useless? I fell into a deep depression and tried to kill myself. Locked away in a hospital, safe where I couldn’t harm myself, and my children deposited 600 miles away with my mother, as we then lived in Plymouth, opened a six-week window where I put myself back together, and he, well he did what he always did when I was out of sight. It did scare him, he thought he had been caught, that I knew what was going on, and even worse I was going to tell others, I did know, but I said nothing, I was as always to scared to say so, to scared to stand up for myself.

It wasn’t until the week before I was to marry Adam, when my then 17-year-old daughter Teressa, came to stay with us, that I learned my so hard fought battle to protect her from it all, had failed, she had always known. Both of us had had a couple of glasses of wine and we were talking about her childhood. I could see that she was clearly upset so I asked her to come into the kitchen to help me with something. I had an instinct that told me she needed to talk to me alone She had heard the arguments, my screams when he hurt me too badly and she knew all too well that I had hidden my bruises and my pain. She had heard it all, for years when she was alone in her bed. My tiny beautiful child, who I had spent so much time, taken so much pain in silence and had done everything possible to keep her safe from it all, knew.

My age stuck at 28, the age I found myself safe again, living in the hotel I had managed to get a job in, so I wasn’t quite so stupid. It stuck there until three years later, following a string of disastrous decisions on my part, found me in a bedsit in Glasgow, totally alone, and I dared to think, maybe he had been right all along. I remember how he gloated when he dropped Teressa off on the odd weekend, a gloat that lasted another two years before I decided to take control. I built a good life, I found a really nice flat, in a really nice area and closed for every his control over me. He could hurt me, and he did, but he was never going to control me again.

38, the age I met Adam. That age lasted three years, because they were good years, the happiest years of my life. Control was a word that never entered my head, just happiness, so in some ways, I had lost control totally. My PRMS lifted its head again and it did it with a force hard enough that this time the doctors gave it a name. Time didn’t stop, it ended. Control appeared again and once more it wasn’t in my hands, it wasn’t in a person’s hands at all, it was in my health. I had everything I had every wanted, someone who loved me and I loved. A home, a real home in the truest meaning of the word. It was ours and it was like our life beautiful, well, in my eyes, as I saw it as it would be, not as it was. Everything was perfect, I had dared to be happy, to have all the things I had never had, and then PRMS.

Birthdays came and went, numbers changed and life went on, but all of it was controlled, controlled badly by something neither of us could do anything about, but despite it all, we learnt to be happy together. Oddly, time didn’t stop when I became housebound, it stopped when on top of that, I became redundant. 50 years old and on the rubbish dump of life. No one would employ me, no one wanted me in any respect. I guess that’s why I wrote the post the other day about being unemployable, it was all part of realising I’m now 55. Those extra five years are like the final seal. But that isn’t where today’s post came from. I was only really stuck at 50 for a year, but it started for an instant, just long enough to flip direction. Everything changed totally and although I was stuck at 51, it was good. I took control and oddly it was the news I had 10 years at the most to live, that changed it.

Every time that time has stopped for me, there has been one common word involved, control. I either gained it, or I lost it. My mind seems to be blocking out things by denying that time is passing and this really is my life, not something I will soon wake up from. In the last four years, I took the most major desition I ever did since I divorced my first husband, I took control of my life. I might be dying, I might not have a long time to live, but it’s my time. I might be housebound, but where else would I possibly want to go, or to be? I might not be able to do anything for myself, but what is there that I need to do, outside what I do? As long as I have Adam, I have all of this entire world that I need and the most blessed happiness. Four years ago, I let time stop, I let it because I don’t need it, I have everything I ever wanted and without time, it can’t end, I won’t let it. This is my time, my last chance to live, it might not seem much of a life to some, but that’s the silly thing about dying, it makes all life beautiful.

 

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 12/04/2014 – Start learning now

I expect we all live in the past from time to time, sometimes it just feels more real than what is happening around us, brighter, more alive and more vibrant, at other is a dark hole that just pulls us back there again and again. For me I suppose it is a little more understandable when your life is the same every day, there is a sort of yearning for something more, something different, not that I am unhappy, please don’t think that it’s just, well I could do with a change occasionally. I tried hard yesterday not to think about my past anymore, I have had enough of questioning everything I thought I knew, the gaps are now exhausting me and I am tying myself in knots over it all. There is a mad rule in life that says, ‘the more you try not to do something, the more you do it’, just like when you were a child and your Mother told you not…..

100 Birthdays and more

Recently it seems as though the once cherished telegram from the Queen on achieving the age of 100 is no longer that rare, 100 seems to be somewhat expected. When I was in my twenties it seemed unthinkable that I or anyone I knew would reach such an age and that included my then baby daughter. A respectable age was somewhere in the early 80’s and by that age you would expect to be quite frail and dependent on others, cars were almost forcefully removed by the family once you were in your 70’s, it was unthinkable that someone that age could drive without crashing, today they are vaguely discussion if it might be a good idea to retest people once they are over 75. Our expectation of life has changed so much that it seems almost unrecognisable to those I based thing on as a child. I’ll reword that, as a child I thought it was unthinkable that I could live past 21, older than that and you were so old it was unthinkable, but I expected my grandparent to achieve an age into their late 70’s or early 80’s. I think we are all forced to wonder at times how long we will live and what lies ahead of us, but more and more there is a new element that is being added into that thought process, quality of life. With medical treatments being developed almost daily, our ability to prolong life also grows. We are now expected to work past the age that many of our grandparents and great grandparent had already died by. The whole question has become a web that is impossible to cross without sticking to it at some point.

For many years I have paid into a private pension fund, which I actually never thought I would use to retire. Retirement to me seemed like an odd thing to want to do, my pension was there to cover me if I in the future required to be cared for in a home. I hoped that my contributions would secure a reasonably good level of care and support should I need it. Well that plan has shattered, I expect there will be little there to show for my effort, unless someone offers me a job, I clearly can’t afford now to make any further payments.

I still can’t understand why most people seem to have this stance that retirement it a right. Until after WW2, there was no such thing as retirement unless your family could care for you or you had savings that would allow it. With the arrival of the welfare state things changed and I agree that we have all paid into it and it should be there if needed. What I don’t get and never have done, is why it is linked to a set age. I don’t see why the age that retirement start isn’t agreed upon by your employer, your Dr and you, no one is more able to say you are capable of still working. Should you want to retire earlier then it should be you that supplies the income to do so. At this point I can feel hackles rising everywhere. If you have the health to live to be over 100 why would you want to spend the last forty odd years of your life not working?

Until MS changed everything I really had no intentions of ever retiring, I never thought I would really be able to afford to. The state pension and my private one together would never have been enough to cover the costs. I thought that I would work until I couldn’t and take retirement when forced. I am sure there are many who like me would have been most happy if there was a possibility of a 50/50 split, meaning that you could claim half your pension and work part time, once that wasn’t possible retire fully. During the part time phase you would still make payments towards full retirement. This would take a major shift in thinking and that is were everything always goes wrong, that shift in thinking is a cavern.

I’m not a political person and I have never been, but of all the issues that our government and all government round the world have to deal with isn’t which country is trying to blow up another, but how do we deal with an ever growing and ever aging population. I wish them luck.