Today is my parent’s diamond wedding anniversary. 60 years together and to be admired for the strength of their relationship. A lifetime of memories full of joy and tears. The challenges of life faced head on together. I am so proud of my mum and dad. To witness such a close bond is a privilege. My ex-husband once said to me that he thought that the fact my parents still held hands after 25 years of marriage was “unnatural”. I think maybe the word “unusual” would have been more appropriate. Affection should be the most natural thing in the world. That in itself is quite sad.
Diamond is a very appropriate word. This anniversary has prompted much reflection. I owe my parents so much. Without them, I would have lost my battle with living years ago. A particular memory takes me back to 2012.
At this time, I was on sick leave from a high pressured job with a financial services organisation. An organisation I had worked for since 1990, the year I got married for the first time. I had recently moved out of the marital home by mutual agreement. There was no animosity in the split. It was the right thing to do. I had made a lovely home in a flat by the sea and my boys came to see me on a regular basis.
On reflection, some time as just “me” should have followed, but it didn’t. I have always had this need to feel loved and wanted. There was never much of a gap between boyfriends from the age of 13. I fell very quickly into another relationship for all the wrong reasons. At the time it felt wonderful. I felt like a teenager in love again. This guy was a work colleague and was extremely controlling. I didn’t see this, but everyone else around me could. They tried to alert me in the best way they could but my mind was closed.
I started to feel the pressure. Real pressure. Some “other” really awful stuff was happening within that relationship. I started to rely on a drink to help me through. I was becoming depressed. Seriously so. The drinking wasn’t at a critical level at this point but it was increasing almost daily. My work started to slip and I knew that I needed to take myself out of the workplace for a few weeks. I needed to get my head together and return in a functioning state.
A couple of weeks turned into months. The relationship with this guy started to fall apart. In truth it was never really a relationship worth anything. He wanted me in his life because I was younger, at the time looking pretty good and extremely successful in my role at work. I was the person to be with. Now I wasn’t. He walked away without a second glance and I felt my life was over. No-one wanted me.
I took to my sofa. I watched endless box sets from start to finish. Now I could watch them again as though I’d never seen them. Every episode of Morse, Lewis, you name it. I started to run out of options. I only left my sofa to go the bathroom or a walk to the local Co-op to pick up a further supply of vodka. Days merged into nights. My life became me, my sofa, my television and a bottle of vodka. I didn’t sleep in my bed for a good few months. I had given up and in truth I didn’t care if I lived or died.
One particular day, I knew that I had had enough. I could see no purpose. I felt like my life had nothing. I remember writing in my journal that I hoped that my body would give up on me. The way I could guarantee that would be to drink myself to death. The thought of taking something to assist the journey passed through my mind. All is such a blur that I cannot tell you how close I came.
On this day, my parents stepped in. I am not sure what triggered it, but they knew something was wrong. Parent’s instinct? My dad simply turned up. We gathered some of my things and he took me “home”. I was back in the safety of an environment where there were people who cared if I lived or died. My dad took control. I’m not sure to this day how much my parents were aware of the extent of my drinking. I suspect that Dad had a good idea.
For the next few days, they looked after me in every way. They listened into the night. I just talked and they listened. I told them things that I never thought I’d share with them. Not all of it came as a surprise, which in itself came as a surprise to me. They took me to the doctors. They took me to the pharmacy to get my blood sugar tested. I remember not being able to fill in the forms as I was shaking too much. I was a wreck.
Slowly but surely, I returned to some sort of normality/stability. I became the child again at the age of 40 and they, well they were my mum and dad. I owe my life to them. I am not sure that I would have survived that day if Dad hadn’t arrived on my doorstep.
I shall be staying with them on Saturday night post our celebration lunch. I am very much looking forward to the “Strictly” final (only watched when am at theirs!) and will enjoy a non-alcoholic beer or glass of wine which I know my dad will have ready and waiting for me.
Diamonds. That is what they are. I am very lucky to have them in my life.
This post was actually written on the 14th December. The weekend has come and gone. It was a special weekend and an expected but worthy winner of “Strictly”!
My Dad gave my Mum a diamond solitaire ring and a bottle of the perfume she wore on her wedding day. I need say no more.