Living out loud: changing my life after nearly losing it

When I was a little girl, people would say I had no tongue. I never spoke to anyone and was attached desperately to my father – I’d cling to him….I was scared of my mum. Other children I know had the abusive father, but it was my mother who could me the most harm, mentally, not physically. She was a school teacher and brought the bossy, authoritativeness home with her. I was so timid and afraid of everyone except for my dad. Being an only child didn’t make it any easier and mum would take everything out on me. I was the reason she had failed at life. I was the reason she had no time. I was the reason she had no friends.

Mum would tell me she had half a mind to send me to boarding school because I was so disrespectful (but never did it). Dad would tell me later that I was a good kid but I still craved that tenderness and love from my mum. I began to resent her and by about the age of 12 I had stopped speaking to her altogether. I went through primary school without making friends. I went through high school without making friends. I wasn’t able to make those connections with people and I kept blaming Mum for the way I was. I was upset at the world and felt I was owed something for my sh*t childhood and this sense of entitlement carried through to my 20s.

I started working in a bakery and my manager would pull me aside and tell me to smile when I spoke to people, so I went to work as a typist so I didn’t have to speak to people. I would watch as the girls in the lunch room would sit together, chatting and laughing away. All I want to do was sit in my bedroom and mope. I enjoyed reading and writing alone but a part of me really wanted the friendship groups I’d missed out on, I wanted to be in that lunchroom group, but how could I trust someone? I mean, I was broken. I felt like a freak but I kept taking it back to my mother – I kept blaming her. She had made me hate myself and everyone else. She was relentless and unkind, picking on everything from my disgusting uncut nails to how disappointing I was. She fell ill with pneumonia and I had to nurse her until she died. I was her primary carer and even in Mum’s final days, she was unwaveringly nasty. My father and I were still close…when I look back, I don’t think I would have survived if it weren’t for him.

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One day, when I was 38, I woke up and couldn’t breathe. I panicked and tried to scream for my dad. I crawled along the floor, hitting the wood with my fists, before I collapsed. I awoke to tubes in my body and my father by my beside. I’d had a heart attack, yes, at 38. I’d caused myself so much stress that I had literally made my heart stop. It was the biggest eye opener I could have asked for. It sounds like a cliche but from the minute I left the hospital, I saw life in a completely different light. I started by waving to people on the street, then moved on to speaking to the girl at the grocery store. I started to interact like I never had before. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’d never been with a man or had a first kiss. That was until I really got out there and went along to any event I could – I was determined to enjoy my life after coming so close to losing it. I met a wonderful man and within a year, I was married. I had never felt better or more accepted. I had friends and I could finally talk to people. I wasn’t the freak I thought I was, I just needed to stop blaming Mum for why I was the way I was. I could sit here and complain about how I wasted my life for 38 years, but I’m now 63 and have been married 25 years and have a 21-year-old son. He and Darren came late in my life but it gave me the fresh start I needed to forget the past.

Don’t dwell on what has been, move forward and appreciate every day you have on this earth. Don’t be bitter, be better, as I say.

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Have you had a sudden life change like this? Did you take a stand and face life head on? What happened? Tell us below.