Something changed in me today
Something’s been unfolded and rearranged
That which was locked within churning at my bones
Has seeped through the cracks of my invisible ozone
My atmosphere is clear
Even though words in print was like a dagger to the eyes
It became my greatest inspiration allowing me to inhale – to rise
To inspire is to breathe life into a burnt out shell, and stimulate the spirit as it battled demons from hell
As this great inspiration fills me with the urge and ability to elevate, to strive, my hopes resurrected
I Exhale… I AM alive!
Aspiration now directs and awoken the intellect, ambitious to achieve, to rise to the highest high
As powerful as an eagle
I fly out as God opens the door
No longer does negativity affect me
Happiness is my best friend.
Blurred vision causes one to stumble
And fear of making the wrong move causes failure…
Clear vision gives power, and as I step forward- I regain authority and control
I am a survivor…
I step like a warrior
I advance like a soldier
I got the power to inspire
And the ability to Aspire
I replace neglect & reject with love & protect
Arrows pass me by
I fought on one spot with my eyes wide shut
All I did was shout the name JESUS and the fighting stopped!…
Fear has dissolved, it lost its salt and has no effect
My antenna no longer detects the weapons of warfare that sang the same battle cry over and over and over and over again
No longer am I subject to the things that you do-
I am the one who has power over you
God came and He conquered and showed me how to overcome
For years an ugly caterpillar, I eventually crawled in to a cocoon and there metamorphosis begun
Then when I least expected, when I thought all hope was gone
Out Flew the Butterfly, how beautiful am I
YES I have the Victory
Gods plan was that I overcome
My wings of salvation has developed
Dookie Dooks you’ve won
Now go live your life
Redeemed and restored by Gods Son
Loving you always
Over the weeks that followed Sabryna and Michelle came over and we chatted and shared things between us. They were a tower of strength. Ken was sometimes around but kept himself far. I had started attending their church more often. It was so vibrant, the music, the preaching, the people. It was where life was.
Going to that church made the weeks that led up to my break to Trinidad easier.
Ken had agreed to drive me to Heathrow Airport. I had big hugs and kisses from the children when they left to go to school. I was going for three weeks but I had promised to call them often.
It was time for me to leave and Ken wouldn’t get up. He just sat there in the living room. Getting upset caused my speech to get messed up and I was trying hard to stay calm. He just sat there, looked at me blankly and told me to take myself! Was he really serious? It was now over the time I was meant to leave home and I was panicking. ‘Ken you can’t do this, you promised, Sammy is on her way and I carrrrn’t miss myyyyyy flit’ great, my speech was slipping again, I started to cry and tried speaking again through the tears but it was pointless. Ken stood up and came in my face ‘duh duh duh duh dadadadauhuhuhhu gugugu duhduhduh SHUT UP I SAID I’M NOT TAKING YOU, TAKE YOURSELF’ I was in shock, he crossed the line. How could he take the mic out of my speech like that? How much awful could he get?
I rang Sammy and through tears and broken speech, she eventually got the drift of things. She doubled back and came and got me. Refusing to come in, she blew her car horn and I came out. We were on our way.
The flight was difficult for me at take-off and landing and I was in tears… a mixture of leaving the children, the vertigo and what Ken did. It was good having Sammy with me, she was livid at Kens behaviour, but it became more and more apparent he was going through some sort of breakdown. My mum was going to see to the children while I was away so I felt rested they’d be ok.
I called when we arrived and Ken refused me to speak to the children and I just broke down. Sammy took the phone and gave Ken a piece of her mind and made him aware that he wasn’t making my road to recovery easier, just delaying it.
The time away was a Godsend and I was able to really meditate and eat fresh grown food, go to the beach and just relax on a sunbed. Aunts and cousins looked after us both. I tried a couple of times to call home but each time Ken just shut me down. Finally mum got the children on the phone for me. They were having fun with school friends in the playground and enjoying their grandmas cooking.
Ken called out of the blue in our last week, he said he had five buyers wanting to see the house… why was he trying to provoke me? How could he put up the house for sale without me? Sammy said he was lying and just being silly. I was tired of this childishness and I told him to go ahead and let them view it then. Its not what he expected to hear and he began shouting. Sammy came over to me, she took the receiver from me and hanged up the phone. I saw how accepting Christ was the best decision I made. I hung onto God with all my strength
I celebrated my thirtieth birthday with Sammy and some cousins. I had a small glass of wine but because I hadn’t touched a drink in months due to the high intake of medication, I felt a little giddy straight away. Alcohol was strictly not allowed. I believe it was God slowly taking away the dependency on alcohol and instead depend on Him. If I didn’t have those TIAs, I think I would’ve had a major problem with alcohol by now.
I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going back to fight with Ken anymore.
Arriving back home, I had a mindset to work at making sure the children were ok and well.
Ken told me the mortgage company had given us four months to sell the house or it would be repossessed. He admitted his behaviour was unacceptable and apologised. Things were not normal but there was a peaceful truce.
There was an evening Ken must’ve got the realisation that we were losing our family home and wanted to stop the process of selling. But I didn’t want to hear it, it was much too late. He gave up when I got sick and deliberately stopped working properly or pay the mortgage to spite me like it was my fault I got a stroke. He needed to look long and hard at himself to see the depths of how deep the stress was in bedded that made my body shut down. The damage was too far gone, we had no way of paying our debts, bills or mortgage, money owed to everyone could only come from the sale of the house. ‘It’s too late Ken, You stopped paying the mortgage and broke multiple promises of amounts to pay. The house is beyond saving now, so get used to the idea we are about to lose our family home. Either they take it and we are consumed by debt or we sell and free ourselves from that pressure… and of each other! I think we need a time of separation; this is no life for us and its unfair for the children to live like this. I want them to be happy, right now we all live on eggshells.’ I walked away, I was not about to stay and await another argument or fight. Ken just sat there with his head in his hands. Because of his actions we were losing our home and I felt resentful towards him.
After a few disappointments we finally got a buyer for the house. There was no chain so it was an easy ride. Due to us going through a legal separation, the profits of the house would be split 60/40 in favour of me as I was keeping the children. Ken went into a fit of rage on hearing this as he wanted it to be straight down the middle and as usual things were thrown around the room. He picked up one of his speaker boxes to drop on the floor, it was like watching Dr Bruce Banner turn into the incredible hulk! ‘KEN STOP’ he looked at me still holding the box and I could see the fury in his eyes but at the sae time saw deep sadness. He rested down the speaker box and hung his head as he sat down and rested it in his hands. Part of my heart softened, and I wanted to reach out, but it was too late, we’d gone to far to turn back.
The papers were signed, and we exchanged, the house was sold.
We started to pack and throw away things we didn’t need. The garage was full of baby equipment, bottle warmer and steamer, cot and Moses basket, an old children’s wardrobe, old bikes, toys etc. It was really tiring work and all the stress was making me tired and ill. Because of my health and inability to lift heavy things, our close friends, my brothers and Cam helped with the clearing out and packing. Ken was going to stay with his best friend, and I was going to private rent. I was too scared to buy somewhere else, plus who would give me a mortgage with no income except sick pay? I was out of work.
Bernell could not believe we still had so much baby things and laughed at our hoarding ‘wow was you planning another one’ she laughed and all I could do was smile, I had in fact wanted five children at least and a marriage of longevity, something like celebrating over twenty-five – thirty years anniversary. My dreams were dashed. I forced out a smile ‘awww Maria it will be ok, it will be ok, just thank God you’re not pregnant.
My ears pricked and a sudden panic arose in me. Ken kept sneaking in the bedroom every so often. I was heavily sedated by bedtime and a lot of quarrels were about him taking advantage of that. The tiredness, the feeling sick, what if I was? Nooo my mind was working overtime, God couldn’t play with me like that. It was Friday, I would just see over the weekend if my mind was playing tricks on me.
Friday night… Yep I felt queasy and very tired and my appetite had gone. Was this real though, or was the thought of being pregnant scaring me into a phantom pregnancy?
Saturday, we continued packing, the children were at mums. There wasn’t a lot more to do. The new owners agreed that I could leave a few of my things in the garage while I waited for the money to come through from the sale of the house to pay the deposit and rent of the property I was going to accommodate.
I was quiet for most of the day anticipating the nausea and tiredness to creep up by late afternoon. I decided to forget about it, to just concentrate on clearing the house. Sammy said the kids and I could stay with her until the house we were going to rent came through. Ken had refused to help me look for a place to rent, he simply didn’t care not even for the children’s sake.
By the evening all I could do was cry.
When morning came I went to the pharmacy before going to church and brought a Clear Blue pregnancy test. I got home and even my pee was scared to come down! Finally… and after the longest three minutes, there it was… a very prominent cross.
The children and I got to church, we were now attending there regularly, the kids loved it too. I paced up and down the reception waiting for Sabryna to arrive. We had become really tight friends and I confided in her a lot.
There she was, I ran up to her and grabbed her arm to pull her to the side. ‘Sabryna, something bad has happened, my life is over I don’t understand why God would do this’ I sobbed, like really sobbed… Sabryna was still recovering from me grabbing her so swiftly. ‘Slow down Maria what’s happening, happened, what’s wrong? Slow down.’ ‘I’m pregnant’ and with that I cried again. ‘Oh sweetheart is that it? Don’t worry my darling I know it is not the right time but God always has a plan.’ And that was the first time I heard of the bible scripture Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” Sabryna hugged me telling me about God’s gift of pregnancy. She knew all about the sale of the house and Ken and I separating, she knew of the turbulence in our home, she knew everything, yet she said God had a plan! My crying began to die down, I needed that to come out. The tears was a mixture of everything that had bottled up within me and I now had release. She promised to be there for me every step of the way and the sisters in the church and the pastors would be there to support me and the children.
This pregnancy couldn’t come at a worse time, but it was here and one thing I knew without a shadow of a doubt, I wasn’t going to put it to sleep!
Staying at Sammy was quite cramped, but it was only for a little while. She was amazing and helped me with getting the children to school when she was on a late shift.
Ken had moved in with his best friend the other side of London and took the kids every other weekend to his sisters to spend time with them. It was strange at first but I was free of the fighting, tension, frustration, rejection, hatred and debt. I say hatred but I still loved who we used to be, still loved him to a certain degree. He was truly my fist and only true love as much as true as I could get.
Ken was devastated when I told him about the pregnancy, I was six weeks into it. Tears ran down his face, he had lost everything, and this would be the first pregnancy we would not share. He sunk deeper into depression. It was the summer holidays and Ken had promised to pick up the kids that Friday to spend a long weekend. As much as we had fought, he still tried to be a really good dad and the kids loved him so much. Tuesday and Ken called me to say he could not come on the Friday anymore. He had booked a flight out to the Grenadines and was leaving on Thursday. How long for? Just like that, but you promised the children.’ There was a long silence, ‘six months I need to get out I can’t cope, I can’t cope.’ ‘But what about the baby? You’re going to leave me to do this on my own, the children, labour, EVERYTHING? The panic I felt was mixed with anger. ‘Yooou SELFISH BASTARD I HATE YOU’ ‘ Look you’ll be ok, you have family, my sister Stella, she is always there for you and you got them church people who are always sniffing around.’ ‘Sniffing around, they are doing MORE THAN YOU.’ ‘Look Maria you’re gonna have to tell the kids, I CAN’T DO IT, I’M SORRY’… and with that he hung up the phone and I stood there dumbfounded.
Luckily Stella had encouraged Ken to come and see the children as he would cause them too much pain if he tried to just vanish. He told them he was going on a long holiday to see grandma and granddad and would be back before they knew it. They were all in tears, it was a sorrowful scene and I cried too. Not really for me but the children and this new baby.
Ken left, I was on my own.
Weeks flowed into months. We settled into our new home and the kids were in a good. The children’s school was a bit of a distance, one bus to the train station then two stops on the train. The heavier I got in the pregnancy, the more difficult it got travelling until it got to the point I just couldn’t do it anymore. Nadia was now in charge, she was ten years old and very sensible. They knew the route and I had to let them travel on their own. I was still too sick to be allowed to drive.
Sabryna was right, literally nearly all the church helped out, took me shopping for groceries, took me to doctor and hospital appointments, picked us up for church and dropped us back after fellowships. Sabryna happily agreed to be my birthing partner when the time arrived for me to give birth, so no I wouldn’t be on my own, and she never stopped encouraging me and was always there if not in person then via the phone. She had first joined the church as a single parent, her boys were not Winston’s, so she knew first-hand the stigma I felt. The church was Pentecostal and did not believe nor teach sex before marriage.
I got more independent and grew as a Christian the more I listened to sermons the more I was able to reach back in my past and forgive acts of abuse, rejection and negativity thrown at me. I noticed something miraculous too… The joint pain ceased, I was free and healed from Fibromyalgia. There is no cure for that in modern medicine but in Jesus I was healed. It was related to unforgiveness and bitterness and my healing came gradually as I had gradually buried past hurts.
I was a new me, still talked funny but I was getting easier to understand. I even started to teach myself how to cook again. It wasn’t cordon bleu, but it was something and the children were finally eating MY home cooked meals. We made it. We were overcomers.
It was two months until Ken made contact again. He sounded much better and dare I say a lot like how he was in the past early days. He had come out of the worse of the depression and mentally more back to normal. We were able to talk civilly, and the children enjoyed his calls. I told him about the baby’s growth and how the church and Sabryna were supporting us, this saddened him as he knew they were doing what he rightfully should be. I also told him that Sabryna was my birthing partner so I wouldn’t be alone. It was to be his first child he wouldn’t be there for. There was a long silence, ‘No. I’ll be there.’ He said it as if he truly meant it but how?
I was thirty-seven weeks when I went into labour. We were at a gospel concert and all of a sudden a pain suddenly kicked in. Sabryna happened to see it happened and grabbed our coats laughing saying there was no way my waters were going to buss out here. Winston dropped us to the hospital and took my children back with him. I cried, I wanted Ken deep down and Sabryna knew it, she was so good in comforting me and as promised she called Ken to tell him I went into labour.
After a few hours I had not dilated and the midwife said it could be the Braxton Hicks preparing my body for labour and said I could go home, false alarm!
Win came to collect us and took me home. Sabryna didn’t like how I was and for precaution decided to stay with me. It was the next day that the contractions begun again. This time they were stronger, and no way could this be Braxton Hicks. They were every ten minutes apart. Sabryna held my hands and allowed me to squeeze them when the pain of the contraction came. Then just like that the pain faded. The midwife checked and said I was four centimetres dilated so it was happening but slowly. It was another half hour and the pain kicked in again. This time I needed the Entonox. Th gas and air concoction was a Godsend and left me in a natural high with each bout of pain.
The door opened and Sabryna grasped. I saw a silhouette of a man but I was too spaced out to see clearly. ‘Hello, I told you I’d be here… ‘Ken!?’
Sabryna gently let go my hand and smiled at me, ‘you see, God always has a plan! Ken come, you need to do this, I think she needs you.’ She looked at me, ‘You ok? I can stay if you want but I don’t want to be in the way, its ok, we’ve done this whole journey together, this is the last relay, let me pass the baton to Ken for the last leg.’ She kissed my forehead and told me to call her asap after the baby was born, she would be waiting. She went up to Ken’ well done’ she said, smiled and left. It was just me and him.
It was hard to talk with the pain, he told me not to think about things now just concentrate on the pain and labour. Somehow him being there made me calm. Our baby wouldn’t be the odd one out after all, her daddy was present for her birth.
Three hours later and she was here, six pounds four ounces and healthy. Asian curly hair and ever so pretty. Ken looked at me and said sorry with tears in his eyes and kissed me gently on the lips. ‘Thank you’ he whispered
The children were ecstatic when they saw their dad and nearly forgot they had to see their new sister. If I could think of a season that I felt like it would be Spring. New buds, new flowers, fresh mornings, early bees humming, birds singing and beautiful butterflies fluttering their wings against the light breeze. How wonderful for them as you really stop and think, they spend the first part of their lives as ugly creatures crawling on their bellies, then they go through a transformation and at the opportune time, the right time, they break out of their cocoon and fly.
Could this be it? Did we just break out of a cocoon? An enclosed space of hurt, betrayal, rejection, loneliness, pressure and suffocation… were we now free?
Only time will tell what was to be. If God had a plan, His promise was it was not going to harm us, S to Him I decided to put my trust.
My wings are out!
It was a bright Sunday morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect today, but I did want to explore. I was intrigued by what Winston said and it somehow stayed in my head, even the directions. Normally I would forget the things I did in the morning by the evening and especially forget at times what I did the day before. Maybe it was a sign.
I had let the children go to their normal Sunday school and I got ready to go to Winston’s church.
He was right, it was a relatively easy journey. I got there about ten minutes early and there were lots of young people greeting and talking to each other and children running around. I took a seat towards the back as I didn’t see Winston and waited patiently. A young lady came up to me after a few minutes to say hello, something I was dreading as I didn’t want anyone to talk to me as it would mean I would have to speak back and I was conscience of my speech ‘Hello my name is Lisa, nice to meet you. Is it your first time here? I looked at her and smiled, anxious to open my mouth, and she went on… ‘How did you hear about the church, did someone invite you? I was defeated, I had to answer now otherwise it would be rude. ‘Winston invited me’ I looked at her face to catch her reaction, every stranger always had a reaction. But there wasn’t even a flinch. She looked at me as a normal human being as if she heard no impediment. ‘Aww Winston yes he’s not here yet but I’m sure he’s on his way. Sit right here and I’ll tell him you are here when he arrives.’ I said thank you and totally relaxed. How friendly was she wow, and didn’t even make me feel different, I liked it here already.
A few minutes past and I glimpsed Winston coming in from a side door. As he walked I saw Lisa approach him and his head looked up and had the biggest smile once he saw me. He beckoned a woman behind him and they headed towards me. ‘Hey you made it, aww man I didn’t think you’d come, I’m so happy to see you, meet my wife Sabryna.’ I smiled at them both and I felt rather overwhelmed. Sabryna smiled and said hello and told me to come and sit with them as they sat more to the middle rather than to the back. I got up and as we took our places the service began. The songs were so wonderful and the music, it was nothing I ever imagined church music to be. Everyone either had their arms raised or were clapping hands The energy was so good.
The Pastor was a visiting Pastor and he had me captivated from the beginning. He spoke on broken vessels and how God is the Master Potter and we are clay, that he takes us cracked, breaks us, melts us and remoulds us stronger than before. He spoke of the power of love and how it conquers a multitude of sins. I sat very quietly. At the end of the service some people went to the front to kneel and pray and there were some who hugged and spoke to them. Nearly all the people that listened to them had tears and the ones who spoke smiled. It was a strange sight. Sabryna asked if I wanted to go up to the front but I declined. The less I was seen and heard the better.
Winston seemed a little disappointed that I didn’t go up to the front, but he smiled, still thankful that I came. They dropped me home and said they could pick me up tomorrow night for the second day. I didn’t realise I spoke so much to Sabryna she was absolutely lovely, and I thought she was the perfect wife for Winston.
As promised they came to collect me, I left the children home with Ken it was a school night and I wanted some time out on my own.
Just like the day before, the church was busy and the worship music was so good. The worship team, the music, everything was amazing. The Pastor preached on the effects of unforgiveness and bitterness and how it is related to certain illnesses and diseases. He spoke of the healing power of the love of Jesus and how much God loved us so much that He gave His son to die for us. I knew about God and Jesus and the Trinity etc that was standard knowledge, but the way he broke it down was so different and it made total sense. I wanted my healing so badly that when he asked who wanted Jesus in their heart and t be healed from the past I raised my hand whilst every head was bowed. The pastor looked at me and asked if I meant it, I nodded and he encouraged me to come out of my chair and come down to the front. A lady stood with me and she told me to repeat the words she spoke, and I did. An overwhelming feeling came over me and my eyes involuntarily filled with tears and the lady beside me smiled…. Awww I thought, as I remembered the scene the day before!
A young Asian girl came up to me after service with the biggest smile, actually it was more like a grin, she seemed so excited ‘Congratulations, you got saved that’s awesome’ I was confused, what did she mean? ‘You went to the alter and gave your life to Jesus,’ ‘Oh yes, thank you’ I searched to see where Win and Sabryna were standing, I felt safe and not so intimidated once I was near them. This girl was persistent and continued to tell me how much my life would change and I will receive a miracle healing and how God loves me so much. She was a lovely girl but overly chatty and bubbly, she was definitely filled with the joy of the Lord.
The other girl that came to the alter and spoke to me and lead me in prayer was called Michelle. She had a gentle kind nature about her and spoke to me for a while. She was so patient as she waited for me to get my words out, in fact they were all so nice. I felt so accepted with this disability to the point I forgot anything was wrong with me.
The third night Win and Sabryna came to collect me again, this time I brought the children with me. They had two young boys roughly the same ages as my three. They had a seven- seater car, Ethan was small and we were able to squeeze in the extra child.
When we got to the church, quite a few of the familiar faces came to say hello to me and the children and made them feel very welcomed.
They had children’s church that ran at the same time as the main service so I sent my lot along with the rest of them.
Service once again was amazing. The Pastor touched further into the powers of healing and that we all as children of God, had the power to heal. Many other people got ‘saved’ that night and I understood the tears and smiles now.
After service Win introduced me to a few more people. He was particularly excited for me to meet an elder in another branch of their church. When the person turned around every part of me shuddered, I wanted to run, I wanted to hide, I wanted to be sick. What kind of church was this, was this a joke? Ethan was standing at my feet and I literally froze. Win was like ‘Don’t you remember Edmond?’ He had a smile beaming across his face, ‘Edmond look who it is, can you believe it we’re all here, saved, how many years later, who would’ve thought? Edmond shone a smile ‘oh my goodness is that Maria? Wow hi sis, it’s been a long time, it’s so good to see you.’
Was this guy seriously going to act like nothing happened? He looked straight through me like he had no idea what I would be upset about. although I did not show it, to be honest I was so taken aback by his calm casual outward look that I was silenced. Winston started to explain to Edmond about the stroke and the symptoms it left me with. Edmond turned and said he will pray for my healing right there and then. What was I hearing? I was not about to let him lay any kind of hands on me. This was the guy that touched me indecently in the worse way as a young teenager, that jumped the fence, that after the ordeal I still ended up getting licks from my mum as my niece told her there was a boy in the house, whose touch made me feel dirty and soiled, and started my need for scolding hot baths. Did I hear right, Winston said he was an elder of the church, what the heck was that? I assumed that meant something important like being the pastors’ right-hand man or something, and anyway, how was it even possible the church could be run by womanisers who had no regard for who they damage.
I was apprehensive but Edmund reassured me that God was going to make me talk again and Ethan was looking up excited that he might see some kind of God magic or something. I decided to go with the flow. I wasn’t the type of person to rant and rave in public and it seemed Edmund was oblivious to anything he’d done to me. Was this God? Could He take such a dark horse like Edmund and change him completely? I found hope three days ago and It was sweeping away from me as fast as it had come.
Edmund asked about the chain and pendant I wore around my neck. It was a gift from my brother in law, the pendant was a patron saint of nervous diseases. ‘Nope take that off and throw it away, healing comes from God not images we wear. ‘ There was a good few people around us including the pastor that preached. All who were near enough laid their hands on me and the rest stretched their hands out towards me and they started praying. Edmund prayed mostly in English but most of the others prayed in different languages. I couldn’t make out where they came from, whether some parts of Africa or somewhere. I closed my eyes and tried to clear my head and just ask God to work for me. The praying stopped and Edmund said ‘say something’ well what? Ethan tugged on my skirt and said ‘ Say hospital, you can’t say hospital’ which was true, I pronounced it something like ‘harspidial’ so I opened my mouth and said ‘horspidal. Horspi… hosspidal.. hospital… HOSPITAL’ omg was this real? Ethan was jumping up and down ‘say Nadia say Nadia’ ‘Narrrrdyah… Narrrdayah… Nadyarrr… Nadeeear… Nadia, Nadia Nadia’ I was jumping up and down and laughing and crying at once, I hadn’t been able to say my daughters name in five months. Everyone was cheering and clapping. Pastor Dillard said ’say Jesus’ ‘Jayzus… Jeeeayzus… Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’ the whole group was I uproar, Ethan was jumping up and down, Pastor Dillard, Edmund, Winston, Sabryna and Michelle all started to pray. There was others but I was in a daze. I tried again to talk but it fell back into the impediment, I was exhausted and felt like I was going to pass out. The pastor said I made huge progress and not to be discouraged that I am not completely healed but God has shown His healing powers and sometimes it’s a process. I had a taste of who God is and what He could do for me. He encouraged me to keep coming to church and keep praying and believing. What a night.
The excitement in the car going home was electric. Winston couldn’t stop going on about it, he talked and laughed about how great God was for the whole car ride home. Me, all I could think of was how a teenager that made me feel so dirty and was one of the reasons my sex life was so screwed up, became a decent Christian man that respected others, especially women and prayed for peoples healing. It was mind boggling.
The last night of the revival meeting and Pastor Dillard preached a message on the gift of speaking in tongues and how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we can’t find the words to pray or need specific details, when we pray in tongues it is a heavenly language which speaks directly to God exactly what needs to be said for our spirit knows more about what we need or desire… or something like that. I realised that what I’ve been hearing is not a load of different nationalities in church but them speaking/praying in tongues.
By the end of the service I also put my hands up to receive this gift. After a while I started to say things I didn’t understand, it was just flowing out of me like a cup over flowing, my goodness, what a week.
It can’t be
Is that the same guy that you met at Panama?
The one you said turned heads
Who made your heart stop as if you were dead?
It can’t be
Is it that same guy you danced with all night
Conversed with until he took you to a natural high?
No way Maria
It can’t be
You mean to say that’s the same guy that made you weak at the knees
That showed you what it meant to be loved
Who took the stain away of dirty touch
Unlocked the chains and set you free
The same guy who made vows to you
Dedicated his love when he said ‘I do’?
He’s the one?
That is relentless in abusing you,
Oh my gosh
I would have never of known
Men seem to be the same
Whether young or old
Who can be trusted with your spirit and soul?
To not break your body under the false illusion of being whole
Tit for tats developed into hills of a mole
Built to mountain tops before your eyes
And daily everything within you cries.
Deserving a love
That will materialise
But everything turned out to be lies
There was no natural high
It was a mirage
Infatuation awaiting to sabotage
A coalition with love and strife
How is it possible to destroy the hopes of ones’ wife?
Is this seriously all I have to expect from life
My friend now tells me there is hope
He says there is one who cares
And invites me to come along to hear
How His kind of love redeems and repairs
Heals your body, soul and mind
He rants with excitement that He is one of a kind
And to be real, He is the most genuine love I’ll ever find.
So yes, I’ll go
You never know
Something needs to go
And be reborn
Is that possible,
To heal me from the symptoms of a stroke?
Winston this better not be one of likes jokes
I’ve ran out of laughter
I’ve run out of steam
I’ve run out, I’m clean out
I shout out…
If You God are there
If you can hear
Restore my body
These burdens are not fair
I’m putting the last of me in Your hands
Help me to rise up, to stand
It Can’t be
Am I really going to find the only man to truly love me?
Ken had settled into his job but we had not settled back into each other since that night of the party a few weeks before. I was living in disbelief that he not only left me, but left me, a young woman, so far from home, wee hours of the morning in party clothes and heels and didn’t think of my well being and safety. The more I thought of it the more upset I got. I just couldn’t get over it. That man promised to love me, he made vows. He wasn’t supposed to be like other men.
Ken was riddled with guilt and because he was, he used it to be more spiteful and not talk to me, communicating with a vague yes or no in a grunt.
Ken would fly in a fit of rage sometimes, not necessarily at me but other random things mainly debts piling up and debt collectors pressuring us for payments. Mostly everything was in his name, so he took most of the grief. That’s when he started breaking things; the cabinet doors in the kitchen got smashed in, light fittings in the dining room, chipped wall in the living room, broken lamp shade in the corridor… I began to dislike our beautiful home, it was turning ugly. Every room had a sign and reminder of hurt and anger. The only signs of love was that of the children. Ken got in a habit of throwing things, in an argument about taking out the rubbish, he told me to take it out myself. He was being so ignorant for no reason and eventually grabbed up the two rubbish bags and stormed passed me out the backdoor which was made up of glass panels calling me a stupid bitch. It was a common thing now cussing me out. I shouted at him to go to hell and in that split second, he threw one of the bin bags back at me, as I shut the door to guard myself, it banged into the door and shattered two of the panels. I looked at him with disgust and he looked at me the same. He started cursing in the garden, something I detested and felt so embarrassed and ashamed. It was so hard to face outside after he made such a racket. What on earth did the neighbours think, what were they saying. I would stay inside for days after a huge row. If I had to go to work, then I would sneak out early and literally run to the car so as not to be seen or spoken to. Ken came charging into the house like a bull still ranting. It was just a bin for crying out loud, why was it such a big deal to put it out on time for the garbage truck? I turned and screamed at him to shut up, and to move his cricket bag from the middle of the corridor. as I stamped up the stairs, he grabbed his bag with all his uniform and equipment in it and threw it after me, it hit my back and I buckled down the stairs. I jumped up and went for his face. We wrestled to the floor and I just stopped, I had enough and my back was really hurting. I was deflated, out of breath ‘ENOUGH, ENOUGH KEN, what are we doing? WHYYYYY?’ He rolled off me and just sat there on the floor and began to cry. I wasn’t used to seeing him cry at all. I just stared at him, he looked pathetic. My heart was cold towards him and I was far from moved by his breakdown. I got up, fixed my clothes, dried my face and walked to the drinks cabinet.
Mum came over a few days later to measure up for new curtains, I was quiet and every so often I would struggle to hold back tears. Should I tell her? I wondered, maybe she could help. How much more excuses could I possibly have to explain breakages. ‘Maria how you looking like someone dead? What’s up with you, what happen?’ I sat down on my bed and begun to tell mum what happened a few days before with the dust bin and cricket bags. I expected her to be shocked and sympathetic. She listened and her first question to me was ‘What did I do to deserve it’ What did I DO? Tears stung me and I’m sure my heart had palpitations. I stopped talking. Yes, it was me, always me. Worthless, ugly, fat, childish, deserving of all things bad, deserving of rejection, wrongful seduction, deserving to be trampled on, slapped, and sworn at with degrading words… What did I do to deserve that she asks…? I sucked up those tears refusing for not one to drop. ‘I don’t know mum, I guess something.’ ‘Well Maria what can I say, talk to Ken, he is a good man. You make all these children and have the man under pressure to pay mortgage and other bills. Back off him a bit and allow him to be a man in his own right. Things will get better; all this is part of marriage.’
Wow, no ‘are you ok, do you want me and dad to have a word with him, how’s your back, how’s your joints??? Nope, just ‘I made the children by myself, what did I do to provoke him, to warrant this behaviour towards me.’ My goodness. I couldn’t be bothered anymore. I changed the conversation to talk of her approaching trip to Barbados. What was the point of talking about anything else? I should’ve known better.
I decided not to talk anymore and managed to nail a job as a weekend chef in a place called Victoria in London. It was a bit of a trek away and it meant I could no longer attend church on Sundays. There was a midweek bible class and I decided to go to that at least. There was no way Ken would take the children Sunday school so they had to stop going for a couple weeks. It wasn’t until the parishioners heard why I stopped coming, they rallied together and got together a few people who could pick the children up on Sundays which was lovely. It got them out the house as their dad was no longer fun to be around.
The old VIP events company were recruiting, and I thought why not, if I did three- or four-nights mid-week and nights after work on a Saturday. Surly my arms and back could manage that.
So that was me, three jobs seven days a week, plus looking after the house and kids. Now maybe everyone would think that’s fair! I hardly saw the children it was basically hi and bye. It wasn’t forever I guess and it was the sacrifice I was willing to make to bring more money in and take the ‘pressure’ of Ken. It also had me away from Ken so we weren’t in each-other’s faces which meant less fights. The numbers had grown at the nursery, although my hours were cut and there was less pay, the work load increased. I had to keep pressing.
My head had a heavy feeling to it like a dull headache, but I still wanted to go see mum and dad off at the airport. They were off to Barbados and Grenada to visit family and attend a wedding of a close family friend.
Camela, Patrick and my brother Curtis were also at the airport. We talked and laughed as we waited for their gate to be called. All of a sudden, I had a bad feeling like a panic attack come over me. I needed sugar fast I felt I was going to pass out. Cam passed me a sugar sachet from her food tray, and I emptied it in my hand and slowly licked it up. I was sluggish and couldn’t move fast. I felt one sided and really slow like someone had spiked my drink. I didn’t want to worry mum and said I felt much better, but I felt I was losing my mind. We said our goodbyes and I told mum I’ll call her and let her know I’m fine once I thought they were landed and settled. They went through safely; the flight was on time.
I left with Cam and Pat, I slept in the car for the fifty minutes’ drive home. When we arrived, I got out the car with difficulty but tried my best to look normal. I didn’t want them worrying and I had things to do such as pick the children up from school. I told Cam I’d call her later and that I most probably hadn’t eaten on time. My speech was so slurry but I guess it was due to the sluggish feeling I had. Pat helped me to the door and inside, I insisted that they didn’t worry, and I’d be fine and promised them a phone call later that evening.
I had just over three hours nap and had to get ready to collect Nadia, Rishon and Ethan. The school was just over a mile away. I got in the car, I knew I was not fit to drive but I had no choice, I couldn’t think straight. I got in the car and slowly did one thing at a time with deep concentration. The car was moving at twenty miles per hour but it felt like sixty! Only God knows how I made it to the school. Other car drivers just overtook as I was at least smart enough to drive with the hazards blinking so it would seem that the car was giving trouble and not me as the driver.
I saw my friend Mary and told her I wasn’t well and if she could bring out the children for me as a couple of her children were in the same class as them. Thankfully she did so and after reassuring her I’ll be ok, I set of home. The children seemed to know to be quiet as they saw I wasn’t quite right. To this day I don’t know how I made it home. There was also no other cars on my side of the street like there usually was outside our house so I was able to drive straight to a stop without manoeuvring.
I gave Nadia the keys to open the front door and told them I’d be in shortly. I sat there absolutely shaken. It was like someone had drugged me, I was here but not here, I could hear but struggled to make sense of what I heard. I got in the house and literally fell on the sofa
An hour had passed, and Ken arrived home. I asked him to ring my night work and let them know I was sick. I can tell he wanted to strop but he also saw I was in no way well enough to take on his shit. I went to bed… No, I called no one!
In the morning my speech was still dragging, and I called my gp. From hearing me speak he asked who was home with me. Ken was still there at home as he had a very late start. Dr Peterfield asked that he take me straight to the hospital and he would let them know I was coming. He said he wanted to rule out a mini stroke as he was concerned given my symptoms. I could tell Ken was more annoyed than concerned and I hated him for showing it. I told him don’t bother ‘I’ll ask our neighbour a couple doors down to take me’ He wouldn’t hear of it, only because he knew how shameful he would look to be honest. So he took me.
After seeing consultants, taken blood tests and a CT Scan I was diagnosed of having had a TIA (a mini stroke). After hearing about my ordeal they were shocked I still managed to drive and advised if it happened again, under no circumstances was I allowed to get behind the wheel of a car. I stayed in for a few days for observation. Ken had to take over and manage the house. There was no room for depression of bad moods, the children needed him. I needed him.
I finally got Ken to call Cam and my brothers to let them know what happened. When asked about the cause… Stress!
Whilst in hospital I had a few more TIA’s and my speech totally went, I could not form my words and sounded similar to a deaf person. I was unable to word find which made the sentences I was trying to form sound like gibberish. My vision was blurred and also had double vision, tinnitus was extremely loud in both my ears and the noise drove me mad. I had right side weakness in both my arm and leg.
I had suffered from multiple symptoms including vertigo. The doctors had me heavily medicated. I didn’t know my life could end up so bad, I was to be thirty and I was to meet this new decade disabled by a condition associated with old people. I had dreams and aspirations and not being an able-bodied person put those at risk of not transpiring. I was in a dark place.
I was discharged from hospital with physiotherapy to be done as an outpatient and was also to attend speech therapy every week to learn to speak again using Ladybird books such as the Peter and Jane series used in kindergarten for first time readers.
Kens cousin was a darling, Sammy took me shopping and helped me get to appointments. She didn’t live to far away and made herself available. I had confided in her quite a bit about Ken and I’s volatile relationship. At last I had someone who saw and believed and didn’t suggest I deserved any of it.
My speech was really bad and she was my mouthpiece when in shops as strangers found it hard to understand me.
I was under the outpatient care of Charing Cross Hospital as they have a hyper acute stroke unit. When I attended my appointment for the first time, the neurologist was shocked at the amount of work I was doing plus looking after three young children and said he wasn’t surprised that my body said enough is enough and shut down, he said I was under too much stress. I asked when I would recover? and he replied that the best thing for me to do was to retreat and convalesce away from the children and my present environment if it was possible and that may speed up my recovery. Other than that, he said the brain is a very complex thing that even as neurologists they have much to learn and he couldn’t tell me how long I would be like this or if I would make a full recovery. And that’s all I had to go by.
I was signed of work from the nursery indefinitely and I had to hand in my notice on my weekend job and again the VIP events catering. We were back on one salary and Ken had not an ounce of compassion, he was livid that I was sick and refused to drive me to appointments and said if I was too sick to work then he was too sick to work too and that’s what he did, yep he stopped going to work fulltime and went part time telling them he was sick and stopped paying the mortgage. He sat around the house in a sulk and stopped talking to anyone. Looking back, I can’t imagine what was going through the children’s mind to have me so sick and their dad off the rails.
Ken started sleeping downstairs and came up to the bedroom occasionally and slept at the furthest side of the bed away from me. I was so doped with drugs I didn’t care. The drugs I had to take were so strong and had me more like a zombie than the actual stroke did.
At first I used to think I was having erotic dreams/nightmares. I would feel the sensation of intimacy but the scenes in my mind made no sense, it was either in bushes or under something like a dining table covered with a cloth or I was in a car or in a room I didn’t recognise, I saw different faces of men, some I knew and some were complete strangers. I tossed and turned and would wake up in cold sweats frantic and scared or sometimes in a surreal feeling of euphoria which made no sense as I was far from happy. Then I would realise something, my underwear would be twisted or not there. This was crazy what was this? I felt haunted and troubled by a dark spirit. No there was nothing ghostly about any of it. It was simply my husband taking advantage of my medication, waiting for me to be in a deep sense of sleep and being awake, he would have his way. I was not in my right mind, couldn’t fight him off. I craved being touched and loved but we both knew had I been in my right state of mind, there’s no way I would allow him to come near me.
When I realised what was happening I would angrily try to argue with Ken but the more I got upset the more my speech would collapse into a mess, and when it did, Ken would take the piss and mimic my speech in my face and walk away. Even sickness I was abused and treated with no value. I needed to get away.
My brothers and Cam put together and paid for a ticket to go to Trinidad to stay at family. Cam and Teddy finally saw what I was going through and they were worried that I would get so stressed I’d have a full-blown stroke. Sammy worked for an airline and got discounted tickets and booked to come with me. I had given Sammy my passport as I didn’t think it would be safe in my house.
It was May and going on five months since I had the strokes, the weather was quite warm. I had been taking little walks by myself. Just to local shops. I had worked on my speech and was understandable if I spoke short and slowly.
One day I took a walk to the local pharmacy. I had to go to the same shops all the time as I suffered short term memory loss and also forgot how to cook. Yes me, a chef, forgot how to cook, I couldn’t put a salad together, I couldn’t boil rice and an aunt used to cook and bring enough to last two days. Slowly people were seeing what Ken was doing to me and to our little family and many were mad with him which in turn made him more horrible in the things he did.
I went to the pharmacy and as I was at the counter I turned and saw a very dear old friend that I grew up with. He had come to my wedding and over the years I would bump into him as he was on the local high street giving leaflets out inviting people out to his church and church concerts. I remember there were rumours that a group of the guys on our old road had ‘found Jesus’
I hadn’t seen Winston since I was sick and he would freak out if he heard me. I needed to get past him without him seeing me, but he was right there by the front door and he was in deep conversation with no intentions of moving soon. I had to just try and walk past fast with a quick acknowledgement… as soon as I got nearer his conversation ended, what timing! There was nowhere to run or hide, he saw me… He broke out in a huge smile so happy he was to see me ‘Hey Maria what’s happening man, long time’ I smiled and I was scared to open my mouth, not sure of how he would react. He looked at me and was like ‘what’s up?’ I took a deep breathe in and said ‘don’t be alarmed’ and with that his face dropped and his eyes bulged out in unbelief of what he just heard… ‘Naaaa what happened, what’s wrong with you? how long you’ve been like this??? Maria what’s happened?’ I put my hands up for him to stop… ‘listen carefully, don’t be scared. It’s still me inside. I had a few mini strokes and my speech went but its much better now’ ‘What, THIS is much better?? I told him as much as I could, but I couldn’t talk long as my speech declined as I became fatigued. ‘’I’ve heard enough, Maria look you’ve tried doctors, specialists, physiotherapists, and look you still like this from since January. Do me a favour, try Jesus! What have you got to lose? We got a revival service on starting tomorrow and I’m telling you your life will change, you will get your healing. Just promise me you will come, will you come?’ What really did I have to lose? What harm could it be? I nodded. I burnt myself out by talking. I asked Winston to please drive me home as I was scared I’d get lost, I was forgetting my baring’s. He did. As he drove, he spoke highly of his church and made it sound so exciting. He wrote down the simple directions. It was just one bus and the bus stopped right outside the church. As he helped me out the car and to my door he asked me again, ‘you sure you will come, I want God to touch you.’ I smiled and nodded, too exhausted to talk. He understood and with that he said goodbye and I waved.
Tomorrow I was going to church.
I’m wondering what is inside me
Drying me out, making me thirsty
I pull a glass in the face of calamity
Filling it with living poison
Saving me from insanity
I can imagine a different life
Intoxication breaks free the colours of the rainbow
Straightening the curve balls of confusion
Escaping entrapment of mental delusion
My heart beats so fast
To save it from breaking
Its placed in a cast
Attempting at all cost to make this love last
Yet it seems I fight a losing battle
There are so many cracks between us, we’ve become fragile
His moods have turned him bilingual
Love and hate both speak fluently
Translated within me so expeditiously
Let not anger be your curse
Your daughter had no use for a Hearse
She came home healthy
Don’t let this trial steal your faith
Fan the flames from lost employment
Don’t know what to do for your husband?
You go to church now… Pray!
I’m calling from within, ‘feed me’
I’m thirsty for the liquid that makes me dizzy
It shuts out the noise
Closing the canals of your ears
Blinds me from seeing your tears
My anaesthesia to the quarrelling and pain
Whatever happened to the love back then?
You have hidden from family and friends
The arguments and fights between you and Ken
Do you think its you they’ll blame?
Or worried that you’ll tarnish his name
When they realise what’s going on and feel shame
You are moving in the right direction
Receiving guidance from a trusted reverend
Attending church on most Sundays
Learning how to live your life
But have you disclosed to the vicar,
Your dependency on liquor?
Somethings got to give
Somethings got to die so you can live
Walking eight miles toward a turbulent home
Or just plain wickedness?
We need to find another solution
Increasingly filling your gut with pollution
Desperately creating an illusion
There’s got to be another way
There is power in the tongue
So watch what you say
Tearing each other down day after day after day
You are both still relatively young
And married life in hindsight has only just begun
Nadia continued to get better and our financial responsibilities gradually got worse. Yes, I worked but those pains in my joints got unbearable. My duties and salary were already cut short due to the fibromyalgia but what could I do? I couldn’t stop, we couldn’t afford for me too. The pain advanced from my arms, hands and hip to down my legs, the soles of my feet and my lower back. The doctor had said that it was stress related, which made sense that it was so bad as I was definitely stressed.
There were mornings when I had difficulty getting out of bed, as to step out of it would make me drop as I couldn’t stand, my feet were exceptionally painful. What was really happening? Something I had started to ask myself very often.
Ken started to be a bit snappy, I sensed an old demon was coming back and I felt myself walking on eggshells just to keep the peace, but it didn’t stop arguments breaking through. It was the silent treatment, if I did something, then say what at least, but the more he stayed quiet about what he was so disgruntled about and grunted good morning or goodnight, the more frustrated I got until it got too much and I popped. Our arguments started to get more frequent. This, the man of my dreams and made my knees weak for months after I met him, His eyes lost its sparkle, maybe because he hardly smiled unless with friends; and even then his eyes remained dry, maybe because his heart was becoming dry.
Our shouting turned into physical bouts where I would throw a punch in rage and he will shove and slap me back to which I retaliated with me trying to hit him back, I say try as he would with all his strength restrain me. We stopped when we came to our senses after hearing one of the children start crying. What had become of us? Financial hardship always put Ken in a deep sombre mood which affected our relationship.
Remembering when we first moved into our short term accommodation, we were not financially well off but we just loved on each other through it all. I guess it was the added pressures of family additions, my maternity leaves, cut pay, cut hours, mortgage, my car, his car… Yes our dynamics changed considerably, but didn’t everyone’s? Surly every couple didn’t fight like us. It got so bad one day that Ken reached for my favourite bomber jacket and cut it up with a knife shouting it was his money that brought my clothes so he could do what he wanted to them. I watched in rage but dared not tackle him with a knife in his hands. I honestly can’t remember what sparked that argument. I cried and cried, cried for my jacket, the situation, cried for the hurt, cried for my marriage, cried for Ken, he was changing, something was bothering him, something was up. We loved each other, right?
Who could I go to, there was no one. No way could I let mum know, or Cam, let them know my marriage was crumbling? Nope, not in this lifetime for them to laugh at me! Tell Bernell? I already told her some things but not the full extent, for her to cuss me for still staying in it. Tell Ken’s sister? But she might tell off Ken, then he’d know I spoke about our marriage to people and hell would just break loose. No, something told me the only trusted ear to tell it all too was God himself.
I started to attend the Church of England Church at the bottom of our road. It just so happened to be the same church I went to Sunday school as a child, where my sister, brother and Ken & I got married and where Nadia was christened. The church had sentimental history. I needed to feel love, feel normality. I always heard growing up that God loves all His children and I was His child too and I needed to feel His love, any love. Ken promised, he vowed to love me till death do us part. I thought that meant a physical death not the death of our marriage! I thought that old memories of fake adulterated love was buried, but the rejection I felt creeping in was like those old dry bones were being resurrected.
On Sundays I found peace in the rituals of the service and I felt good doing my part taking the children and sending them to Sunday school as I had recommitted to do when Nadia was in hospital. I also struck up a good conversation with the vicar and over time I knew I had a confidant in her and started telling her about my married life.
That was the morning taken care of. There was always teas, coffee and biscuits after service and I always stayed behind to chat, stalling going back home. Once home I would dive into cooking a typical Trinidadian Sunday dinner. Come rain or shine I made sure we had ingredients to do that. Sundays wouldn’t be Sundays without rice’n’peas, macaroni pie, brown stew chicken, crab’n’calalloo, plantains, sweet potatoes and salad. To accompany me in my cooking would be a tall glass of wine. Cooking was like therapy for me and the wine helped block out the tension in the house.
During the week a shot of straight rum was needed nightly to block Ken out and numb the rejection I felt when he came home from work. My sanity stayed intact, and I was able to function. Unfortunately there was still bickering under our breath and we both adopted a very provoking spirit and then there were times out of the blue we would have a good day leading to great days, those were the days after we made love and he’d whispered how sorry he was and he loved me and wanted me, he needed me, he was just under stress at work. There was things that were going on between management but he couldn’t, more like wouldn’t tell me what it was. Being intimate took down his stress levels and made him a nicer person and for me, when I knew that’s where the evening was heading, I’d take another (largeish) shot of rum so I could keep the memories of the past at bay. I had awoken demons out the closet of my soul and every time we were intimate, flashbacks would confuse me to what was real and what was my imagination, I spent most of the time love making in a battle of my mind to stay focused that it was indeed Ken making love to me and not one of the dark men of my past.
Kens temperament moved like waves. I was grateful when it moved up and peaked but then that peak would mean the only way after was down!
I went one day to pick up the children from school and across the playground Ken was walking towards us which was a nice surprise. By the time he got to us I saw he was forcing a smile as he said hello. I tried to search his face but could not read it, something wasn’t quite right though.
‘Babes look, lets take the kids to the park to blow off some steam, we need to talk.’ I tried not to sound bothered ‘yeah sure why not, Kids come on lets head to the park before we get home. If you’re really lucky you can get an ice lolly if the ice-cream man is there.’ I couldn’t help but smile at their excitement as they ran to the car. As Ken and I got to the car my mind was working overtime, what could it be? I didn’t dare ask, I patiently waited.
They couldn’t get out the car fast enough running to the slides and swing. Ken and I took a walk to a bench where we could keep a watchful eye on them. ‘Look I’m not going to lie, there has been some problems at work… I’ve been laid off.’ I stared at him blankly trying to slow down my thinking. ‘For how long? laid off, what does that mean?’ ‘Maria, let go, sacked.’ He bowed his head into his hands and gave the biggest sigh. I’ve never known Ken without a job. ‘What’s going to happen? The mortgage, the bills, I don’t earn enough Ken, I’m scared.’ ‘The end of the month is my last pay, I got to job hunt, I’ll try a different borough, something will come up, until then it’s going to get a hell of a lot rougher, like I said, my last pay is the end of this month.’
Silence… just the children’s laughter in the background and the traffic hustling by. I had promised the children ice lollies but felt it would be like spending a hundred pounds! It was just ice lollies for Christs sake, it wasn’t going to break the bank. The fear and panic was setting in, but I hung on to Kens words, he’ll job hunt and would have a job in no time, he was skilled, qualified, had his degree and was good at what he did. How hard could it be? I enjoyed the children’s happy faces at their choices, they were my constant joy.
It was going on six months and Ken had got no further than the second interview. Companies that invited him for an interview, would be interested in him initially but as soon as they received references it was all over. The more knock backs he got the more bitter and mad he got. Ken was constantly in a bad mood. He even got a little snappy with the children and when I pulled him up on it he would quarrel that I was undermining him. I unlocked a vinyl of my mind that used to play the words ‘Shut Up’ and once again like a scratched record it played again, and I obeyed, for peace of mind I shut up; not just my mouth but everything within me.
It was another four attempts before Ken finally got accepted into a position. Not quite what he wanted, less hours and less pay but it was a job. There was a lot of catching up to do as we were so behind in mortgage payments that the letters were starting to come in threatening repossession due to a string of broken promises of payments. Water rates, gas, electric bills, catalogue payments etc everything was behind in payments. I did what I could, but I was still living in the overdraft. Part of me felt guilty in between the feelings I bottled up of the dislike towards the man I loved so much, guilty for having babies and staying out of work to be a mother in their early years, guilty for staying with Nadia in GOSH the entire time. But what was I have supposed to of done, my children needed me, Nadia was literally on her death bed, nearly went blind… yes I near lost my mind with taking out an emergency overdraft but it was done and here we were.
Cam came around and encouraged us to come out to a party. It was an old long-time friend of ours that was turning forty. Ken wasn’t keen but Cam wouldn’t take no as an answer. I was so glad she talked him round as I needed a night out and dance off the stress. It was summer and the days were quite warm but the nights were quite chilly, so my mind was excitedly thinking what to wear. It was just a few days away and I made sure to take double shots of rum in the night to ignore and block out any negative vibes and get me to sleep quickly.
It was a Saturday night and we had dropped the children off to my mum and dads earlier in the day. Whilst we got ready, Ken played some music and was thankfully in a relatively good mood and I fixed myself a drink so I could stay in mines.
The party was packed when we got there. The living room was a through lounge and there was hardly any room in there with the big double speaker boxes in either side of the room. Pass the kitchen was the door to the garden where many were liming as they smoked. I looked around but there was no sign of Cam yet. Great.
Ken and I ended up in the living room where the main party was and said hi to the few faces, we knew. After a while Ken said he was going for a smoke and that he’d be back. He took ages, I was just about to squeeze past people to go meet him when I saw Cam finally turned up with Patrick. She stayed in the room with me and Pat went out to meet Ken for a smoke and lime outside too. They were playing some good music and we danced freely. Then the dj started to spin some Lovers Rock and I felt this hand out of nowhere touch my elbow to pull me to dance, I turned and said my husband was outside and he smiled and replied ‘well I better keep his wife dancing then so she doesn’t get lonely.’ Cam giggled and turned away nudging me to go ahead. It’s not like I was having an affair; it was just a dance and I loved dancing. Ken left me for well over an hour so what did he expect? So yes I danced with this guy who was a friend of a friend and anyway he knew my sister so it felt safe and above board. We danced twice and he pulled me for a third, I kept looking towards the door silently praying Ken would come and save me as I didn’t like the way this guy was getting comfortable.
Not before long I felt a tap on my shoulders, I turned, it was Ken. I smiled thankful to see him. He wasn’t smiling back, just said we were going. I frowned, I hadn’t even danced with Ken as he spent most of the night… well all of the night outside so I was a tad vexed.
We said our goodbyes and Ken went to the car to wait for me as I started to see people I knew so my goodbyes stretched out a little longer. By the time I got to the car Ken was mumbling under his breath. ‘Ken what’s up with you? You didn’t have to leave like that.’ ‘Yeah and you didn’t have to be all over some man like that either.’ Oh boy did my blood reach under my skin… ‘You mean to tell me, you drop me off in the party and head outside to smoke and drink with the lads and expect me to stand up all night? I’m sick of you, all you do is moan and groan, you find fault with everything. If nothing goes Kens way then all hell breaks loose, YOU GRATE ME, TRYING TO MAKE ME DANCING WITH SOME GUY AN ISSUE… WHERE WERE YOU HUH? I SHOULD’VE DANCED WITH TEN.’ Ken drove like a maniac in anger, like he was trying to be more vex than me. ‘YOU BEHAVED LIKE A SLUT, NO RESPECT FOR ME, HOW DARE YOU BE RUBBING UP ON SOME FRICKIN MAN THAT YOU DON’T KNOW.’ I was hot, boiling hot, not from heat but from my own anger. Who the backside did he think he was shouting at and calling degrading names at? Over a flipping dance! I wanted to punch and kick him, I wanted to scream; and my head felt like it was blown up so much it would’ve exploded. Ken was shouting, I was shouting, the car was swerving, it was a crazy scene. Luckily it was about four in the morning and the road was clear of cars, BUT there were traffic lights, poles, lamp posts, traffic islands, trees, parked cars and railings… an accident was waiting to happen. I started to scream at him to stop the car but he accelerated, I literally saw my children, family and friends flash before my eyes as the car screeched to a stop as we reached a red light. I flung open the door and got out, as I slammed the door shut Ken shouted, ‘WALK BITCH’ and sped off.
So, there I was alone in the middle of the road, it was dark, and I had heels on and a party dress with a jacket. Great look!! Tears stung my eyes but I welcomed the cold air to cool me down and get my baring’s, ok so he drove off great. I started walking in the way he drove as no doubt he would’ve stopped further up the road to wait or maybe double back when he too calmed down. I loved Ken really, I did but he sparked such an anger in me that it suffocated that love out and replaced it with hate. Yet when things were good the love will be there as if it had never left.
I walked for a good five minutes and there was no sign of his car. The road was coming up to a curve, maybe he was waiting beyond that. I started to quarrel in my head that he was such a cow to make me walk so long, he could’ve at least doubled back. I told myself when I got back into the car I wasn’t going to say a word and keep the silent treatment going until he apologises for being such a dickhead. I kept walking, I walked the curve and as the road straightened all I saw was street lights, parked cars and the odd car passing by on both sides of the road. ‘He left me?’ Oh how the tears burnt my eyes. I heard a car slow down from behind me and pulled up to the side of me. Turning expecting to see Ken, it was two guys in a car asking me if I wanted a ride. I put on the most confident voice I could muster up and told them ‘No I’m cool, thanks but I’m actually nearly home.’ They smiled and said if I was sure then ok, they actually seemed genuinely concerned I was out on my own, obviously stranded no matter how much I tried to look as if nothing was wrong, and I just as confidently picked up my pace. That was close, they could’ve been some guys with bad intentions. I was dressed inappropriately for that time of the morning…mins to five.
It was clear he drove of completely and I was pissed. Evil wicked bastard, how could he do this? I stopped walking, where was I? Nearly home my foot! I was so far, surly he didn’t leave me to walk. I was seven to eight miles from home, short dress, jacket and yes heels. I dared not take them off as the pavement was literally stone cold and damp. I thought to walk to a police station, to go in the park and rest on the bench, walk to a friends house… and tell them what? To sit on a cold wet moss filled bench. The tears burst the banks and streamed down my face. Was I not loved, cared for, valued? How could he leave me? I wanted to sob but it was too cold for an over wet face and bulging eyes. Half past five, buses would be running now, I could take a long bus ride and make him worry. Let him think of an answer when my mum asks where I am…arrrrgh no money, I was totally screwed.
I continued to walk and stopped looking up at passing cars expectantly, he wasn’t coming back. Filling my mind with images of the children, flowers, funny moments to mask the other thoughts of rejection, indecent touches, grandads kiss, boys in the bushes, we’ll show you ours then you show us yours… Did they do that to all girls or just singled me out due to the invisible sign I had on my forehead only visible to males that read ‘use her, abuse her’ sexual acts in positions that was undignified… yes all the images came flooding in. Good for nothing useless girl, no one wants you, no one hears you they refuse to listen. Not even your husband wants you, look at you, he doesn’t care, he’s left you in the street at four in the morning and look at you, suffering because pride stops you for speaking out the truth of your marriage. Its not on the rocks, its on a precipice! Flowers think flowers, roses, lilies, daffodils, tulips and forget-me-nots… Forget me not. Water think water, warm water, remember… he loves you, he used warm water remember, remember?
My thoughts were so exhausting I didn’t even realise I reached my road. I walked without thinking of the route, I just walked its all I could do to take my mind of the throbbing pain in my feet and lower back. I felt crippled.
The mind is a strange intelligent force. I was home, the sun was up and it was 6.10am. I walked for two hours in heels in the freezing cold. I opened the door, I saw Ken sitting on the settee. It’s not that I was giving him the silent treatment, I just had no words and I was exhausted. I felt nothing, nothing but the excruciating pain in my feet, legs and back and nothing for him. He was obviously up worried about where I was, but pride and ignorance would’ve stopped him from coming back or waiting. It was all good, I knew what I was worth, just a cup of warm water. In church the Sunday before the vicar mentioned a part in the bible that Jesus said lukewarm is neither hot or cold so He will vomit them out of His mouth. He was speaking of a lukewarm church, but I guess warm water was just the same. Maybe warm water wasn’t enough to equal love. I measured my worth by something fit to make you vomit.
I headed to the drinks cabinet, took down a water glass an poured it half full of rum and it was all gone in three big swigs… It wasn’t long before everything was zoned out, the pain in my body and mind numbed and sleep came quickly.
If someone told me years ago
That my heart would break
That it would shatter in a moment
I’d tell them no
Never would I understand how life could change in just one day
As I sat and listened to what the doctors had to say
Asking me to choose and step in blindly through an open door
Shaking my head I answered, ‘no way it can’t be so…
The direction to retaining life I do not know’
My husband looks towards the floor
Unresponsive, to weak to face this fight
Day is so dark it is like continuous night
If there are angels
I asked them to come
Sit with my daughter
And make a harmonious sound
Protecting her life
As she goes under the surgeon’s knife
There is a sunrise
The sun breaks in with light
And diminishes the voice of doubtful lies
There really are angels
They walked with no wings
The doctors, nurses and the surgeon’s
Family and friends who came to support
And made the time in hospital feel short
I learnt a valuable lesson
That even in your greatest distress
Be kind, be humble
For you never know if you’ll see someone another day
Either you or them may pass away
Looking back when someone asks, ‘what last words did they say?’
Let it not be words of hurt and pain
For the memory will drive you insane
It cannot be retracted
The tears will overflow
Never to see your loved one again
So yes, a valuable lesson learnt
One that was hard to digest
In the midst of all that had transpired
Our mental capacity was truly tired
Dawn has broken on a brand-new day
There is a God
This I know
My mother never took me to church
But with my friends I’d go
My children had been christened
So Nadia was protected
For I have always followed what the vows directed
To bring them up to know the Lord
This experience brought back those words
I am truly grateful for my daughter’s life
Over the years I have neglected God
I am thankful
And it’s time to make things right
I hope God sees me recite Our Father who art in heaven
And keep my children in His sight
The consultant met with us literally straight away as we reached GOSH and gave us directions to go to see the optician, he told us it was important to check her eyes. Everything was moving so fast, the optician was rather annoyed and her outburst made us pretty anxious even more… ‘How can this be unnoticed, how could your gp not see this?’ the vessels behind Nadias eyes were dangerously swollen which apparently with this condition could cause irreversible blindness. Each minute that passed seemed to come with another bombshell. From a low-key day of supposedly migraines and vomiting to full explosion of a life – threatening condition, it was too much.
Back by her bedside the consultant came into see Ken and I, the children were with the play assistant. ‘Well Mr & Mrs Sajor, I’m sure by now you realise we are dealing with a very sick little girl here. I am so very sorry it has taken so long to detect, but as you can see it is a very difficult condition to diagnose without the use of a scan. Going forward we need to operate as soon as possible and there are two options for you to choose.’ Us to choose??, I wasn’t sure Ken was in any fit state to make an informed decision, he was so devastated and was in tears every time we spoke to a health professional. ‘They both come with risks, one is that we place a VP shunt in her brain and run a tube to her abdomen where the excess fluid is absorbed by her body. The problem is that it will be life long, it may get infected and break, cause her ventricles to collapse or brain haemorrhage. There is a possibility for symptoms of hydrocephalus to return.
The other is to perform a ventriloscope, putting a hole in the third ventricle. The risks are in surgery where the procedure can cause memory loss, problems with speech, balance and vision or a bleed in the brain, it can cause death. On the positive side, if it is successful then she will need no further treatment unlike the shunt. Do you understand? Which one would you want us to perform?’ ‘what do you mean? Surly you can’t put that us? One has a risk to her life after the operation and life long and the other has a risk to life during the operation yet no further problems. I can’t I CAN’T CHOOSE… What would you do, as a professional, you have performed this procedure before, if this was your child what would you choose?’ There was a silence and he sighed ‘If it was my choice I would choose the ventriloscope’ ‘So be it then, do that.’ Ken sat in silence, thick solid silence and fresh tears fell effortlessly down his face. All I could do was hold him in my arms whilst he rested his head on my chest.
The operation was scheduled for the next day. A paediatric nurse came and explained to Nadia about the water in her brain that had a blocked lane and they had to find a way to drain it out for her by making another little hole for it to drain out of to make her better. She understood and wasn’t scared in the slightest. She also explained about the needle that would be used to administer the magic liquid that would put into a deep sleep like sleeping beauty. To do this operation she would have a quarter of her hair at the front shaved off but was assured that her hair would grow back. My goodness what was really happening, how can this be happening?
They came and got Nadia around eleven and Ken and I walked alongside her bed as she was wheeled to theatre. She was such a good girl and nothing phased her. She was prepped and we were allowed to give her hugs and kisses. The anaesthetist began to inject the anaesthetic and counting backwards from ten, Nadia reached seven and she was gone and that was when the tables turned, I broke down and sobbed and Ken with all his strength held me up.
It was four long hours and in that time we paced, we sat, we went for a walk, we ate a little but truly had no appetite. I was so scared, watching Nadia slip under the anaesthetic was like watching her slip away from our lives. Knowing something could go terribly wrong in the operation, even death, was haunting.
The relief of hearing all went well when the surgeon came out filled us with jubilation. There was also no tumour. It will always be a mystery why Nads got this condition. Probably born with it and remained undetected due to it not being a problem, who knows. She was in recovery and would be out shortly. Ken and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Nads stayed in hospital for a further two weeks and befriended a girl called Melisa who was thirteen years old. She was in to change her shunt and had some other complications with her heart. Melisa lived in Southend near the coast and her parents decided to leave one evening to go and refresh themselves, change their clothes and collect some things for Mel. They left about six in the evening and was planning to come back in the morning. Melisa was a little rude to her parents and snappy before they left, but they seemed to overlook her tantrums. She was an only child and very sick. Ken and I got chatting to her parents and they were a lovely couple.
A little over an hour after they left Melisa was uncomfortable and wanted her bed adjusted. The play assistant came in and tried to operate the bed but it was jammed. After another pull the bed jolted and Melisa cried out that something hurt her chest, the play assistant was so apologetic but Melisa burst into tears and wouldn’t stop. We called for the nurse and before you knew it there was a big commotion around her bed. A portable xray machine was bought in and all the patients and parents were asked to leave the ward and wait in the playroom.
You could hear Melisa screaming in pain and crying ‘it hurts it hurts’ then there was silence, an eerie silence. I peeped around the door and the curtain was still around Melisa’s bed, the play assistant was so tearful as she felt so guilty. After a while the ward nurse asked the parents to come with her to the next room. She turned to us ‘I’m awfully sorry that you have been put out of the ward, we will get you back in as soon as possible, we’ve just lost Melisa.’
I think nearly all the parents grasped in shock, we just heard her screaming and crying, how could she be dead? It was most upsetting and it was agreed that a specialist nurse break the news to the children. Melisa’s bed was opposite Nadias and they had played well together. I couldn’t stop thinking of Melisa’s poor parents. They hadn’t reached Southend yet and were uncontactable. As soon as they’d arrive home, they would have to turn and come right back to such unthinkable bad news. To think the last conversation was there daughter shouting at them to go away. Tears hit my eyes.
Melisa’s parents broke down and was quite distraught when they came to see us after seeing the medical team. They hugged the play assistant and reassured her it wasn’t her and not to carry any guilt. They said Melisa had complications and her shunt had broken and there was nothing they could do. At that point I was relieved we opted for the ventriloscope after seeing a little girl of thirteen die. Parents hugged and comforted their children I thought to myself its not good to say goodbye angrily or say mean things as you may never see that person again to say sorry, I love you.
It was a very emotional couple of days, and it was now time for Nadia to leave. The boys really missed her and were very excited at her coming home, we all were.
Our little girl was safe and out the woods. After a couple of weeks I was ready to g back to work and Nadia to school. Her hair was starting to grow back and as it shaded her scalp it didn’t look too bad.
Susan and the staff team welcomed me back, all relieved of Nadias recovery. It was coming up to pay day and I couldn’t wait, staying in GOSH proved quite expensive with Kens train fares, petrol and parking meter money, lunches and dinners, over the weeks was not obviously part of our budget.
A couple days before the end of the month, Susan asked to see me. ‘Hey Maria, how you settling in? look I’m sorry to have to tell you but you wasn’t given sick pay.’ I was dumbfounded,’ but Susan you said take as much time off to be with Nadia we got you covered, I don’t understand what’s going on? Susan looked down, she couldn’t look in my face. Apparently because Nadia hadn’t died, I was not eligible for compassionate pay and something else, I stopped listening and all I could hear were my own thoughts, what about the bills and responsibilities?? In a panic I applied for an overdraft which thankfully I got but slowly became a noose around our necks.
A word with different meanings
The breaking of a new season
Water glistening in the sun
A child bouncing a toy
Filled with joy, having fun
For me, it was a time of revelation
Stepping out in faith with no hesitation
Moving from flat to house
Making our house into a home
Love fills the atmosphere
Which lately had seemed so rare
Losing our baby had brought us near
I dance when we kiss
I touch the moonlit sky in the night
When my body touches his
His touch I don’t resist
But darkness is still in my mind
Intimacy for me is hard to find
Memories still fire back; and the attack is unkind
But what is this
There is something quite amiss
She is much too small to befall such an illness
It took too long to diagnose
Now there is a crisis
Registrars words take long to process
And thinking of my child’s pain
Makes the word tumour hard to digest
No this couldn’t be
Bad things like this didn’t happen in our family
It is not confirmed
They are still doing tests they say
So do what you see the world do
Silence your panic