As the wheels of my car crunched over the gravel drive, I paused for a split second, frozen by the magnitude of what was about to happen.
I stumbled erratically to locate the right gear, switching from third and back down to first, and eventually manically settled on neutral; my logical thought process completely stolen by the bleakness of the morning.
With my heart pounding out of my chest, the only reminder I was still alive was my small black family mobile with the backseat holding little more than an empty crisp-spattered car seat and a small bag of pathetically rolled clothes.
I don’t know how long I sat there staring at the Big Daddy oak tree. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, I was as numb to the ticking of the clock as I was to my son’s kisses.
When I did eventually manage to climb out into the cold air of the morning, I spotted a friend across the car park. She smiled kindly in my direction, and that smile changed everything.
The numbness I had so carefully cultivated over the months to protect me from the searing pain, was wiped out and destroyed by the tsunami of icy panic which engulfed me from the tip of my heart to the bottom of my toes.
‘I don’t think I can do this,’ I cried, my knees threatening to give way, my bottom lip actually shaking and wobbling as I spoke. The pain and the fear became unbearable. “I just don’t think I can do this.”
She helped me carry my bags, and with her arm around my shoulder, we crunched over the pebbles towards reception.
We both knew I had no choice.
It was the unspoken elephant between us.
I was to be admitted in to hospital or I would be dead soon.
I was told I was ‘brave’ by other patients.
You guys on here supported me in droves as I made jokes and avoided the truth about my illness, told me I would be okay.
I will never forget all the kind words, but most interestingly, one of the most poignant things I remember being told on that first day was:
‘Do not make any drastic decisions or major changes to your life while you are undergoing any kind of therapy. You shouldn’t make any decisions until the dust settles.’
I remember thinking at the time as I was being sectioned, that that was an odd thing to advise.
1 Blog, 3 tattoos, 1 Job change, 1 fiancée, 1 house on the market, and 4 vivid hair changes later, I am starting to think they may have been on to something.
“I probably should have waited for the dust to settle a little,” I laughed to my laser tattoo remover… removalist? (What is the official name for someone who removes your ill-advised inkings?)
“You think?” he asked sardonically, glancing up at me while turning the machine up to cow branding heat, as he is about to cross over the second ‘O’ of the word ‘WOO.’
“Do you know that ‘Woo,’ where I am from, means clunge?”
“Clunge?” I politely ask, my innocence about to be taken.
“Yeah,” he grunts. “Clunge…like vagina.”
I feel my eyes get incredibly wide and I stare at him.
If he wasn’t in the throws of death-gripping my wrist, I would yank my hand away and sink my head into it.
“Are you freaking serious?’ I gasp, completely and utterly panicked, sweat already forming on the back of my neck, the clamminess gripping my heart.
Oh god. My gaze lands on a tasteful painting of a tattooed Buddha woman with twelve arms, but I don’t actually see it, it is really just background noise accompanying my internal screaming.
‘What’s the big deal?’ he mumbles, “I am removing your WOO now…”
I look at him, but stay silent for a long while, digesting this horrific news.
“I call my blog Mammy FREAKING Woo!’ I exclaim.
He stops what he is doing and slowly lifts his eyes to meet mine.
‘So your blog, that everyone likes and reads, the thing you are really proud of…wait, wait, the blog you won awards for…is called Mammy Vagina?” He tries to stop smiling but fails miserably, and in the end, finishes with a big grin.
I sat frozen in time once more, and watched as he threw his head back in laughter. In an extremely loud voice, he told the rest of the tattoo parlor that my blog name was Mummy CLUNGE.
“Is it a porn blog?” asked a bearded man whose face I couldn’t see through all the body art.
I can’t remember if I responded. The part of my mind that blocks out all unwanted memories grabbed hold of it and I… what was I talking about?
All I could think of on the way home was the day I drove into the hospital and seemingly lost my ability to make sound decisions or listen to good advice.
I know in my heart that nothing will ever feel as mind-numbingly horrific as that moment when the orderly forcefully removed my car keys from my possession and took away my ability to escape.
How I missed my baby for weeks on end.
How I howled into the dark; my heart torn and ragged, with nobody but a faceless nurse checking I wasn’t dead every 15 minutes.
How I wanted to cease to exist.
Nothing will ever be as truly awful as those dark, lonely and misunderstood days. But if I am being honest, it was you guys that got me through it, supported me, listened to me, and never, ever left me for even one moment to think I wasn’t worth life.
It was you guys who told me it would all work out, that everything would be okay, and I should soldier on.
So for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Now if you don’t mind, I need you to do it all again.
Oh my god.
This does not bode well.
From now on, can this PLEASE just be the unspoken elephant between us?
No one can make you feel inadequate unless you let them.
A day without laughter is a day wasted.
You do not have to be blood related to be family.
If you have nothing nice to say, see a therapist.
How people treat you is their Karma, how you react is yours.
Call if you need me.