Learning to survive

It was when I was being driven away in a police car that I knew something was wrong.  I was only 3 and a half years old, but I was mature beyond my tiny years!  That’s all I really remember from that fateful night in 1975 when I would never see my parents again.

I know from that night until 1979 (the year I was adopted) that I resided at two different children’s homes and was assigned various different social workers.  Sometime during that time, I was told that my parents had been killed in a car crash.  I am now in touch with a social worker from that time who arranged the adoption who told me that I took this news very matter-of-factly and would use my toys to play out the car crash.  I received no counselling at that time as I don’t think these things were deemed to be important in the 1970s.

My adoption wasn’t a happy time and my new ‘parents’ wouldn’t allow any talk of my natural parents which made me very unhappy.  They always provided a warm house, clothes and food, but there was absolutely no emotional security which I so badly craved.  I spent most of my teenage years feeling very miserable at home and just had no idea who I was.  I counted the days until my 18th birthday so that I would be able to leave home.  I was a very well-behaved teenager, but prone to a huge need for solitude.  I didn’t have boyfriends, didn’t smoke or drink alcohol and preferred to spend my days training for the various sports I was involved in at school. I had a best friend who I would confide in about everything which was a great help.  And during those dreaded summer holidays I would spend my time with her and her loving family who were always greeted me with a warm smile and a huge hug – something that was never on offer at home. All I ever needed in my teens was love – it was that simple!

As I went through my teenage years, I had more and more questions about my natural family which were never answered and I felt increasingly frustrated and isolated.  Every day I would wake up to ‘parents’ I had grown to be very distrustful and to people that looked absolutely nothing like me.  They had children of their own and their youngest child resented my mere existence more and more. It was the darkest time of my life.

Everything came to a head on my 18th birthday when my ‘parents’ casually said “Your parents didn’t actually die in a car crash, they committed suicide”.  That was that.  My 18th birthday was ruined and my whole world came crashing down around me.  I ran out of the house crying and when I returned I was disciplined for leaving the house without permission!

I couldn’t believe what I had heard.  My parents had chosen to die.  I tried so hard to talk to my ‘parents’ about it and they only ever responded in the same cold way – “Lots of people commit suicide – what’s wrong with you?”  It was the worst turning point of my whole life.  I had no brothers or sisters and just felt so alone.  I left home as I had promised myself just a few days after my 18th birthday and continued to have limited contact with my ‘parents’ for the next six years.  After that I changed address and numbers and made sure they could never contact me again. That was 12 years ago.  I have worked in the media industry since 1989, and have thought about writing a book about my experiences.

As I get older, even with a mature head, life seems to get harder and not easier.  I have no blood family to relate to and even though I have a good circle of friends, I feel that no-one can ever understand the pain I have been through and I seem to go through on a day-to-day basis.  I can easily go through life functioning as a normal adult doing the normal things in life, but the ultimate truth is that I will never get over the fact that my parents decided to commit suicide and leave me all alone.