My Mum always said I liked to mother people. I had a lot of love to give.
I hated school and it was no surprise when I left and trained to be a nursery nurse- who wants more affection and love than children? That took me to Carlisle College, the Lewisham hospital in South East London and then, in 1982 I moved to Toronto in Canada.
I met my husband there- a Canadian who dreamt of being a Mountie. He worked in a bank as a loans officer. We had the perfect little family and set up- all American Pie. We had a lovely Victorian house in a small town called Port Hope and I worked in a family drop-in centre. On the outside everything looked perfect.
But all was not as it seemed- behind closed doors things were going pear shaped. My husband started to get very moody and controlling. We had a little boy Josh in 1988. It was a bit of a shock for my husband having to share me. He would often go off for days at a time or he wouldn’t speak to me. He had our phone taken out because I spoke to my parents too much in England. So I left the house and went to stay with friends. He allowed me to come back if I signed an agreement not to speak on the phone too much and I would close the door properly. I know that sounds a bit daft but that’s what he said.
Around the same time I realised I was pregnant but at 6 month I had a threatened miscarriage. I had to speak and ask him to attend the hospital- by this time I hadn’t spoken in weeks. Our daughter was born perfect three months later. But soon after we went bankrupt and lost our house. We decided to start over in England.
We moved back to Carlisle I had my tail between my legs. After two weeks my husband phoned me from Manchester airport to tell me he didn’t think it was going to work. That was after ten years of marriage. and he was heading back to Canada. I was really upset He left me with a very unhappy 7 year old and a smiling two year old who didn’t have a clue.
School started but Josh never settled. By the time he was 12 he decided to go back to Toronto to live with his Dad. I thought people would never understand why I let him go. It was very hard. I was now a single mum on benefits which was not the plan. I ended up on anti depressant and through that ended up in counselling. I decided to do a counselling course- the best thing I ever did. It felt like I was shedding a heavy cloak and finding myself.
After 8 years I met my current husband. He loves me unconditionally. Now I work at the Salvation Army in Sunderland. I spend my days helping people who struggle to survive, chaotic individuals I think the council call them. When they’re telling me the horrible things they’re going through their story is different to mine but I can relate to the feelings, the hurt. I enjoy giving them hope and encouragement. I know things can get better no matter how bad they get.
This song is my anthem. The soundtrack that runs through my life.
As Gloria Gaynor says ‘It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
I will survive.
I have and so will they!
Photo: Southwick, Sunderland