What Would Jesus Do?

Large Baby Toula pic

I am an only child.

The family responsibilities stop here – at my door.

I have a beautiful, crazy mother. She has dementia.

I am an only child. It is MY responsibility to take care of her.

It has always been MY responsibility to take care of her.

It was MY responsibility to check on her in the middle of the night when I could hear her fighting an attacker off. I stood in the doorway whilst her husband tried to rape her. I was 10 years old and fought with him to cease the assault.

It was MY responsibility to save her from attack when her husband was smashing a foot long pair of scissors through the bathroom door, whilst she took an overdose on the other side – her way of dealing with the situation. I was 10 years old and stood between him and the door as he played out a scene from The Shining.

It was MY responsibility to beg her husband to stay when Mum had discovered his cheating and lies. I was 10 years old and I stood on the doorstep between them whilst they screamed abuse at each other over my head.

I am an only child and it is still MY responsibility to take care of my mother now that she has dementia. She knows who I am but not what she has done; nor what I have done for her or at what cost I continue to do for her.

I am an only child and is is still MY responsibility to take care of my mother despite her putting me in foster care at 6 weeks of age until I was 10 years old.

I am an only child in a family without other immediate relatives. The responsibility is on my shoulders, like an iron yoke getting heavier and heavier; making it harder and harder for me to drag myself through this life as the pain wears me down to nothing.

I am an only child whose responsibility it has always been to ensure my mother’s happiness, to maintain a stable mood, to ask for nothing, to plaster a smile on my face and be a ‘good girl.’

I used to get beaten for speaking up. I used to get locked out for having fun.  I used to be shouted at so aggressively that I would rather have been beaten. I used to bang my head hard against a brick wall to numb the screaming inside. I used to do my homework and revision on the bus to school and achieve top marks. It was MY responsibility to maintain a perfect front.

I used to make it ‘okay’ for her when her husband molested me, daily, hourly. Always.

Now I have a beautiful crazy mother who has dementia and I don’t know what to do. It is MY responsibility to make sure that she is okay; that her needs are being met.

If I don’t, the guilt will suffocate me.

If I do, the c-PTSD will kill me.

Mum is a trigger.

I am literally damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

The consequences of my decision are not the same as those you will suffer. Those with a loving and stable background can safely take steps apart. They don’t fear being swallowed whole by an emotional blackhole.

You haven’t spent your entire life – every waking moment praying for a family. For safety; physical and emotional. For understanding. For peace. For an end to the grotesque guilt that plagues every breath you inhale and exhale. The constant gnawing of impending doom that hovers like a toxic cloud around your head and gets breathed deep into your heart, mushrooming and enlarging when a letter drops on to the mat, an email pings into your mailbox or a ‘phone rings. Something more to deal with. However small. However run-of-the-mill.

I have all the responsibilities and no reserves left. I am hovering on the edge of rationality and there is nowhere to turn.

There is no useful help from the NHS to battle the demons.

I am not entitled to financial assistance to keep our heads above water.

No one is taking responsibility for my being failed every step of the way by those who have been empowered and salaried to safeguard me. They have physically and metaphorically shrugged their shoulders and left me to just get on with it.

So many headlines, press releases, statements, announcements, Royal visits, charities, memes, hashtags and so on declaring all of the help that is available. To whom? Who exactly is being helped and how?

Encouragement to speak up, to speak out…and for what? Nothing changes. Talking (which seems to be the cornerstone of the ‘help’ that is available) is possibly one of the single worst things that anyone with PTSD can do.

My prayers have never been answered fully because when you have suffered the way I have suffered, your DNA is changed. The ingredients that went into making me who I am have been baked fast and are set within and those sickening emotions just get more and more stale with every new attack on my security; on my sanity.

Yes, I look normal from the outside. It’s an Oscar-winning performance that I will never be nominated for, let alone acknowledged.

I am suffering in a way that there are no adjectives for nor a guaranteed remedy and despite me explaining clearly to those who need to hear, it’s almost like an open invitation to exert more horror on me.

I am an only child who is yet to have a childhood.


For other blog posts in the series, please click here: https://toulamavridoumesser.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/only-dead-on-the-inside/