A Sneak-peek at my upcoming Memoir;

Updated: Aug 6, 2021


El’s Story - A Child abuse Survivor Written by El Amethyst

El’s Story is a life journey of survival. A Child Abuse Survivor’s account of her nitty-gritty world, spanning childhood to adulthood. Journey with her as she doggedly shares the “harrowing” story that is her life, whilst never losing faith in Truth and Love.

To all fellow Survivors, You Are a Survivor, Therefore You are Stronger Than You will ever know. The key is knowing where your strength comes from and learning how to tap into that strength when you need it. Everyone is different and everyone has their own special source of strength! We all have our own demons to battle, our own struggles to pull through & our own mountains to climb! Do not diminish your worth by comparing yourself to others, it is our differences that make us unique and beautiful!!

This memoir comes with a **Trigger Warning** especially to anyone who has suffered trauma.

Content

Introduction
Chapter One; Family Legacy
Chapter Two; Childhood Mischief & Adventure
Chapter Three; Wee Scottish Hame
Chapter Four; A Teen-Angels Cry - Part One
A Teen-Angels Cry - Part Two

Chapter Five; Breaking the spell - Part One

Breaking the spell - Part Two

Chapter Six; A Sassenach’s Nash

Chapter Seven; The Gallus Glaswegian

Chapter Eight; New Life, Motherhood - Part One

New Life, Motherhood - Part Two

Chapter Nine; The Transition.. - Part One

The Transition... - Part Two

The Transition... - Part Three

Chapter Ten; Back to the Basics - Part One

Back to the Basics - Part Two

Chapter Eleven; Tides of change and discovery - Part One

Tides of change and discovery - Part Two

Chapter Twelve; Life backfired - Part One

Life backfired - Part Two

Chapter Thirteen; Roots of Wreckage & Carnage - Part One

Roots of Wreckage & Carnage - Part Two

Roots of Wreckage & Carnage - Part Three

Chapter Fourteen; Cognizance - Part One

Cognizance - Part Two

Cognizance - Part Three

Chapter Fifteen; The Narcissists Path of Destruction - Part One

The Narcissists Path of Destruction - Part Two

My Thoughts & disclaimer

List of People

Introduction
I go by the name of El Amethyst, I’m a Photographer and an Abuse Survivor, striving to be a Photographic Therapist. Not too long ago it was suggested that I should write a book, that idea was echoed by a few who are close and know my story, I was assured that people would want to read my story. I don’t know about that, I’m not an Author, my strength has never really been in the written word but in the visual expression of Photography, but at the very least it is personal therapy and a story I can leave for my future generations. Perhaps also a legacy for all Survivors out there without a voice, those not believed or heard! It could help the world understand the entrapment of abuse, especially psychological abuse. Over the years I’ve used writing as a coping mechanism, a tool to help me process my thoughts, help me remember, and solidify those memories when I was questioned, and my sanity was under scrutiny! So, a lot of my story is written in dribbles and drabbles, in my diaries in the most unfiltered and personal manner. After our most recent life-changing events I compiled a lot of my written diaries into one document, which documented the history of my family’s behaviors piecing together a giant jigsaw of truth. That was I suppose the starting point of these memoirs. But the daunting task ahead was to compose this into a story format instead of a multitude of facts and accounts, though it looks like it has become a combination of both. I will apologize in advance, for my amateur style and inability to artistically paint words together like the talents of some of my favourite Authors. I suppose there are three parts to my story, the foundations that occurred that led to my birth, my childhood, and how I became A child Abuse survivor, then finally my adult life a journey full of its own kind of perils and hurdles.

Disclaimer

This Memoir is a personal account of the author's life events, thoughts, and feelings, which is honest to the best of her abilities, the author acknowledges the subjective and flawed nature of memories and that there are often many different perspectives of a given event. This memoir is the authors truth that shaped the events and person she is, it is not intended to be anyone else’s truth. All names have been changed to protect the privacy of those lives that the author encounters in her life and consequently writes about. The memoir has been written with the primary focus of raising awareness of the various types of abuse, to connect with other survivors in the hopes that it will empower them and as a therapeutic outlet. Secrets have a way of tormenting our minds making us ashamed and scared of judgment, all too often those secrets become or are used as chains to restrict our potential.



Chapter One;
Family Legacy

My roots begin with two strong smart loving women who both believed strongly in family, who both showed great Fortitude throughout their life struggles, never allowing the negativity of these struggles to taint their morals or their attitude towards life, my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandmother. Perhaps saying my roots begin with these two woman are not quite correct, as we have knowledge of our ancestors dating back many centuries, but I would like to think my Story starts with these two woman, it is important to know and remember the positive influences, roots, memories and past, not have them tainted by the negatives. These two women are lovely courageous woman, brave and caring, coping with adversity and doing the best they could with the situations at the time, a hugely different time to what we live in now. The effect they had on their loved ones, the bonds they created, the friendships they made and the imprints on other people’s lives are the evidence of their character and their legacy. So, I am beginning my story with these two women.
~
Anni Levington and her twin sister were born in April 1919, in Newcastle upon Tyne, her parents moved south in 1934, I never had the chance to meet her, but I’ve heard little snip bits of her life from those who did. She maintained her strong accent despite the move south at 15 years old. She married her husband Dalton in 1940 living on the outskirts of London in the borough of Middlesex. On the 6th of August 1944 tragedy hit the family, Anni’s older Brother died during the war fighting in France. The following year their oldest son Mortimer was born, followed 9 years later by the birth of their son Jerry.
I never met Dalton but from the little I have pieced together my image of him is of a traditional but modern to the time Jewish type family man who worked his way from the bottom to owning and running his own successful businesses, I have been told that his character was the opposite of Anni’s, a very serious business man who rarely smiled, in fact before Mortimer was born Anni separated from Dalton for a period staying with her sister, but she returned to the marriage.
Anni became a very busy woman with the children and helping her husband with the businesses, a television repair service, rental business and pay-as-you-view service, but she still found time to visit her mother and siblings. I have been told that she was the type of woman that those around her would go out of their way to spend time with, despite the difficulty’s life threw at her she was always loving and fun to be around.
Life became more difficult when their Daughter was born in May 1961, she was known as a “turn of life” baby and had Downs Syndrome. Just before or during Anni’s pregnancy their oldest, Mortimer at aged 15 was told to have “enthusiastically” signed up to service in the Navy. There were rumours that this was the act of a temper tantrum teenager fuming with his father for something or other, one theory relates to the Mortimer being expected to earn his inherited business by working from the bottom up, there are a mix of vague stories about this though most relate to a business disagreement of sorts. Two years later while Anni and Dalton worked hard to bring money in and raise their son Jerry and Daughter catering for all the extra needs she required, Mortimer contacted Dalton explaining that he had made a mistake signing up to the navy, he was not happy at all and begged for help to get out. Dalton played the dutiful father and sought advice on his sons behalf, he went to the recruitment office where he had signed his sons papers to request he buy his son out of the Navy, but they dragged their heals insisting there were no compassionate grounds and he would be required to serve his three years ‘boy service’ and at least half of his 9 year signed for service.
Mortimer resigned to being stuck in the Navy obliged to serve his minimum signed period until an incident in 1965 that led him to go AWOL. He and a fellow seaman were in the mess hall, they had switched of the Tannoy system as they disliked the noise it made, they missed a ‘muster of crew’ call and as a result they were arrested and punished with 9 days confinement. Mortimer requested that his confinement be delayed until the following Monday in order to see his girlfriend who was also in the services and due to leave for Germany, he wasn’t granted leave, so he jumped ship to see her and as a result went AWOL in August 1965.
Five months later apparently in a state of depression and penniless he returned home, Dalton insisted he hand himself in and phoned the navy to report his sons return. He was arrested and jailed for 43 days, returning to the Navy service where life had supposedly become unbearable. In August 1966 he was given one weeks leave and he disserted a second time, this then led to a series of legal investigations into the Navy allowing children to sign up, promising easy ways to buy their children out, to have promises broken and a 15 year old to consent to and carry out services for 7-12 years.
I believe this case among others was a changing point for how the services recruited young teens. This information was attained from an online search that uncovered historic parliament documents which certainly seems to collaborate that the story is as true as what was relayed at the time, whether Mortimer spoke honestly of his accounts back then or whether he had already started to manipulate the truth to his advantage is anyone’s guess but this was certainly a story he later told with a sickly narcissistic pride!
Within this period there was evidence of Dalton struggling with his mental health and receiving psychiatric treatment, which impacted on his and his family’s life.
This I’m afraid was the first of many troubles and heartache that their oldest son would cause them. A couple years on Mortimer married and the following year Anni’s first Granddaughter Josey was born, followed by her second Granddaughter Lizzy three years later. Anni never got to really be a grandmother to her Granddaughters or any of Mortimer’s children, I’m sure this was one of a long list of heartaches Anni had to endure because of her eldest’s Son’s life choices. A series of events occurred that forced their daughter-in-law to flee with the two granddaughters, this is where I believe his perversions of twisted narcissism began, or at the very least first started to surface. This isn’t all my story to tell, so you will need to forgive my vagueness in parts.
~
Back a few years, late in 1929 a few boroughs away In West Ham, Maisie Hawser was born, she is the oldest of four siblings, the eldest of her brothers was born two years later, followed a year on by her sister, their baby brother Kenneth was born ten years later when Maisie was 12 by which time her family had moved to the Maidstone area in Kent. Maisie remembers the second world war quite vividly, she often tells stories of hearing the sirens and the bombs, of the children being evacuated out of the London area. Her Dad became one of those many ordinary hero’s saving lives and property during the war as a voluntary firefighter, Maisie kept little pieces of her Dads legacy in a box of memories.
Maisie’s Dad worked with the Fire Service in Canterbury during the time of the second World War Raids, the Canterbury Cathedral was the target of one of many such Raids, on the night before flares were dropped to mark the site to bomb but a strong wind blew them, so the bombers missed but not by much, there were close calls, the fires blazing through the surrounding houses threatened the Cathedral, Maisie’s Dad came up with the idea to create a fire trap by destroying the houses around the Cathedral to prevent the fires from the spreading to the Cathedral and destroying it. He was later awarded an MBE in his part played saving Canterbury from the many fires; this was presented to him by the queen.
Their family albums tell a story of a close family, smiling, laughing enjoying the simple pleasures of day trips and camping, her Dad and brothers bonded over cars, camping and tinkering, her Dad was your typical tall dark haired man, her mum a petite fiery red head with a smile that would light up her face, her and her sister got their height from their Dad and in their late teens and young adult years looked very similar, both with a head full of mid-length dark thick hair, they inherited their mothers glorious smile, there was no mistaking they were sisters.
Maisie worked as a tailoress, then in a factory, followed almost a decade later she worked in a cobblers where she met Chandler, before they met Chandler was doing service in Gibraltar when a cannon went off, it perforated his eardrum and later when Chandler retold his story he swore that the Doctors insisted he wouldn’t live past his 40th birthday. In late 1953 they got married, they made a dashing proud couple in their photographs, a proud working-class career couple. The war had put allot of people’s lives on hold, from history we know it was a huge turning point for woman, woman’s rights and working woman, it changed the direction of history drastically rearing very fast into what would have then seemed like a science fiction novel.
Over six years on when Maisie was 30, their first Daughter Lilith was born followed two years later by their second Daughter Allisia. When their children were still quite young Chandler had a career change and became a Carpenter, in his spare time he enjoyed weightlifting.
Things became more difficult, when their Daughters were about 10 and 13 around about 1973, because Chandler became very ill, he spent allot of time in a London city hospital where they had specialist heart surgeons, he had to have a pace maker and many more visits to hospital. Maisie would take their daughters to visit him in hospital and then spend the day going to many of London’s famous Museums to try and make those moments easier and less upsetting. Maisie loved sight-seeing in London, those moments are still spoken about with fondness, she had a passion for taking photographs and continuing her family album, something she picked up from her parents. She remembers the details of her very first camera and the pleasure of getting the film developed and seeing her photos for the first time, it is this passion that has allowed for many more bonding moments reminiscing memories aided by these precious photographs.
Chandler built an enormous Avery in their back garden which became home to many different types of birds, they had a large pond that covered a third of the remaining garden that became home to stunning goldfish that grew to an amazing size. Their garden was flourishing with fish and birds by the time their daughters reached their late teens.
Lilith was quite close to her Uncle Kenneth’s wife Monica, she spent allot of time at their house and as far as I’m led to believe she helped out by babysitting their daughter Ailani. At around this time Lilith met a biker whom she started dating, it is said that Monica greatly approved of their relationship, spending time together giving Lilith relationship advice. Maisie and Chandlers relationship with their daughter Lilith became rocky and eventually estranged when she hit her late teens.
In about 1978, Lilith was working at a top rank service station on the M2 motorway when she met Mortimer who I believe at this point in his life was a Fish van driver. Information is quite sketchy and somewhat unreliable on how long they were dating, if you could really call his violent perverted controlling definition of a relationship dating! Lilith’s accounts of her past may be completely unreliable and often laced with a perversion of the truth, but her accounts of her early relationship are collaborated by the family’s instincts and later experiences. Lilith’s younger sister, Allisia remembers the first time she met Mortimer, she was about 16 and working in the local Town Gillingham, Lilith was staying in a bedsit in Barmoral, Allisia had seen him in her room and asked ‘who’s that dirty old man in your room’ Lilith had replied in a perturbed fashion ‘That’s my Boyfriend’. Alisia’s intuitive opinion of Mortimer never changed.
At around this time while Lilith was 18, she fell pregnant but lost the baby, when retelling this story Lilith has told others that she miscarried due to being pushed down the stairs. Her family was unaware of the pregnancy until told by Lilith at a later date but remember her taking a drive to London with Mortimer at the time, they could not rule out abortion, either way she lost the baby at some point during the first half of the pregnancy.
Lilith was trapped in a turbulent, physically and psychologically abusive relationship, she was terrified of Mortimer, she locked this time of life away in her head barely ever speaking of it, the one and only time I heard of any description of this relationship was a desperate agitated outburst in which she described in vague detail of being forced into and experienced varying degrees of sexual abuse with Mortimer and some friends.
Sometime during 1979 Lilith managed to escape Mortimer, but she had fell pregnant again. Lilith met a dashing Soldier called Ted, who became her knight in shining armour if you will, he knew she was pregnant with Mortimer’s child, that she was terrified of him ever finding out that the child was his, they fell in love and Ted proposed, they got married and he promised to raise the child as his own, even legally registering as the child’s father. That child was me.

Chapter Two;

Childhood Mischief & Adventure



I was born in Maidstone in February 1980, while I was still in hospital with Lilith, Ted dashed to the registry office, marriage certificate in hand, and registered me, true to his word he put himself as the father. I was born with blond hair, your standard bundle of chubby baby cuteness but with distinctive blue eyes. Lilith and Ted brought me back to their army barracks family home, life looked promising, for almost a year I was raised by Ted and Lilith. However, there were a lot of rumours floating around about who my father was, it never occurred to those discussing these rumours, that there was perhaps another reason other than Lilith lying to her husband about being the father. The negative manner these rumours were discussed in of course made Lilith appear to be a questionable character in the gossiper’s eyes, leading to questions of infidelity. One can only presume these well-meaning gossipers took pity on what they saw as a doting Dad proudly parading his daughter, who was insisting to those that questioned that he is in fact the child’s father and how dare anyone think otherwise. It did not occur to these well-meaning types that Ted knew the truth and had made an informed choice to be the doting loving Dad. As a doting Dad, he was protecting his child from the monstrosity that they knew the biological father to be. As often occurs when rumours spiral out of control, Ted and Lilith’s relationship became strained, the inevitable happened, they separated, and Ted went overseas with the army. Despite their failed marriage, he left insisting that he still be known as my Dad, his mother insisted on maintaining her grandparent duties and kept in contact with Lilith.

Unfortunately, it did get out that Mortimer had fathered Lilith’s Daughter, Lilith insists that it was one of her Aunts that told him, Lilith claims she did so in spite of her request because her Aunt was of the attitude that a man should know he is a father and had outright told Mortimer as much. I’m not in a position to confirm the authenticity of this version of events, but needless to say, Mortimer discovered I was his daughter and entered into our lives with a sickly perverted possessive obsession.

It is in the lead up to and during this time that I have a small scattered selection of memories. Although as memories go, I have the least memories of my time living in Kent, this time has had the most impact on the foundations that make me who I am! I am drawn to those memories, that area, and every little detail about my birth town, like a magnet.

~

There is not a clear chronological order to these early memories, but I do remember two distinct homes, the first was the upper flat of the old red brick terraced houses in Woodchurch, there begins the instinctive impulse to be visually drawn to the sight and texture of old red brick walls!

You would walk along a path to the center of two conjoining terraced blocks, where the doors to the downstairs flats bracket the outdoor stairwell up to the veranda that led to the upper two adjacent flats. Inside was the living space with an archway separating the bedroom from the living space. I recall a lovely old lady that lived below us whom I called Auntie Trudy.

My first vague recollection of who I now know was Mortimer occurred in this flat. I presume at some point after he discovered I was his daughter he became enraged, he climbed up to the window of our tiny flat and attempted to break in, my Nanna Maisie later told me that Lilith pushed the Sofa into the archway to block Mortimer from coming into the sleeping area and getting to me, somehow even that young I have a vague sense of this incident, just flashes of the window and this intense emotion, fear! It was a terrifying moment.

I do not know whether this was the beginning, or the end of Mortimer being in our lives at this point in time, but I do know Mortimer was around for long enough to father a Son with Lilith, Adrik who was born in 1982. I am unsure if Adrik was born while we lived in Woodchurch, but I have no recollection of him while we lived in this tiny flat.

The second home I remember in Kent is our house in Hollingbourne, my biggest visual memories are upstairs. I shared a bedroom with Adrik, my bed was directly under the window and Adrik’s cot was at the opposite wall behind the bedroom door, as you walked into our bedroom facing the window wall, on your left was a built-in cupboard with a standard room size door. I remember this fairly clearly because I have a vivid memory of knowing I was not allowed in the cupboard, but on one occasion taking a sneaky peek and finding what felt like mountains of multipacks of sweetie-like-looking boxes. I can tell you now that they were cough sweets, but to my tiny child mind, they were sweets, they were delicious, there were so many, and what was the harm in eating a few packs! Why they were there was anyone’s guess, but over the years I’ve heard stories that they “fell off the back of a truck” Mortimer was driving and he used the cupboard to stash them, the old fishermen cough sweet packaging looks vaguely familiar. I do remember discussing it once with Lilith who did at the time confirm that they were in fact stolen. Thus, confirming that Mortimer remained in our lives in some manner during this time.

Growing up I was a mischievous child, if I was left to my own devices I explored relentlessly, and I was often described to be ‘too curious for my own good!'

One of those mischievous moments occurred one night that I was curious about the milk in Adrik’s bottle, when he fell asleep and left some, I sneaked over to his cot slipped my hand in, and took his bottle, I remember the amazing taste of warm sweet milk! This became quite a regular habit.

On another mischievous moment, this time in the morning, fairly early while I was still in my bedroom and Lilith was most likely still asleep, the potty in our room was full, we had either bare floorboards or the floorboards were easily accessible and the wood was cracked in places. I stripped away one of these slithers of wood already breaking free and turned it into a makeshift paintbrush, proceeding to mix the potty’s contents and used it as paint, to paint pretty brown pictures upon the wall. I cannot fathom why this is such a vivid memory, but it is, nor will I even try and explain why such a gross idea came to my toddler self. One could ask themselves why many of these memories are negative, there is no doubt a psychological answer in there somewhere, but I’m not a psychologist!

Anyway as you would walk out of my bedroom, you enter a fairly long hallway to the right was a banister which allowed a view of the stairway. The next door on the left in the corner was Lilith’s bedroom, and round the corner of the L-shaped hallway, on the right were the stairs leading down and on the left was the bathroom door, on the floor was a simple wired telephone with buttons. Why such vivid details, because this was another of my mischievously naughty moments, I had picked up the phone deciding I wanted to have a chat. After randomly dialing some numbers a lovely lady answered, I spent possibly a good hour chatting in the hallway before I was discovered, it turned out this phone call was over-seas and quite an expensive phone call at that.

In another memory, down the stairway directly in front, was the kitchen, on this occasion I was joined by Adrik and we made a Polyfilla and bleach mud pie in the middle of the kitchen floor, it was a good size kitchen and we were found in the middle of the mess. My Aunt Allisia remembers this moment being described as 'the time I tried to feed my brother bleach'. Then there was this one episode where we were being looked after by a babysitter, the mortified babysitter phoned Lilith to inform her that her children had been caught climbing the living room bookshelf to reach the top of the Livingroom door and we were swinging from it!

As I write this, I feel like I am describing the scenes of chaos from movies like Problem Child! It occurs to me that these moments described are of moments when I have done something and no doubt got into trouble, I have no recollection of the consequences of these mischievously naughty moments. I do not intend to try and excuse my behavior, nor paint myself as a misunderstood child. I do not have enough memories to validate any such claims, nor has it ever occurred to me that there would be a reason for any such claims. But as I write this, I do find myself asking; why are these memories consistently of those naughty moments? Why don’t I remember more traditional joyous moments around my home? Is this normal?

There are a few memories of when we were out and about. I recall we had two beautiful black Dogs, both Labrador Crosses, one slim with short shiny fur, the other with longer wavier fur who was a broader smaller dog. We were out playing in the back garden, the dogs were there, I remember an angry moment when Adrik threw Dirt in my eyes, I was extremely distressed and remember crying saying there was mud in my eye, and it was stinging. Another strong memory is when I lost my nail when my finger was jammed in a car door, the nail slowly went black at the corner, it eventually fell off and grew back! To my recollection the only person who drove that Lilith knew was Mortimer, between this incident and the stored stolen cough sweets, we piece together that he was a frequent visitor in our life at this time.

By now I am quite aware of how negative these memories are so far, you may be wondering why this time became the positive foundations of who I am. The answer would be because some of my favorite memories are also of this time, going to visit my Nanna and Grandad!

Maisie still has many photos of those visits, she is a loving Nana and mother figure, I remember always looking up to her, she felt so tall and she always made me feel stable, safe, secure, and loved! I absolutely adored their Golden Labrador Ben, I spent hours curled up with him in his kennel or bed, sharing my treats with him, I also loved watching the fish in the huge pond and my Grandad would regularly take me into his enormous Avery to feed the birds. We entered the Avery through a two-way door system that ensured the birds couldn’t escape! These were my favorite moments, I always felt like I belonged, an indescribable feeling of peace and belonging that I never really felt as strongly around others!

Walking about my birth town has stuck with me often on a subconscious level. I am drawn to the sunlight shining through red leaves, a visual I cannot resist, the streets I grew up in are full of trees that bloom red leaves. The old telephone poles and wires are another visual I am impulsively drawn to, again even to this day my birth town is one of those towns full of them! Walking past pink flowers triggers memories of someone showing me why the flower looked like a ‘Bunny Rabbit’ by using them as a puppet saying they were Bunny Rabbit flowers or words to that effect. That someone as it happens was my Auntie Allisia and the flowers are in fact known by the name “Snap Dragons”. The shops just around the corner from my Nana’s home instill a warming sense of joy whenever I see them. Later on, I remember trips to Adrik’s speech therapy appointments, Lilith often talked about how I insisted on answering for Adrik and didn’t allow him the chance to reply for himself, this always felt like a derogatory telling of the story as if it were the foundations of the person she later claimed I was.


At some point, before I reach the age of five, Lilith married for a second time, no not Mortimer. Soon after the birth of Adrik, Lilith manages to mostly cut ties with him thankfully! I have no idea how she meets her second husband Tyrone but I vaguely remember enjoying playing in a playground, specifically on a seated round-about my younger self-thought was pretty damn epic, I’ve always known that the memory was somehow connected to the wedding but it is my only recollection of it. Later on, in life, my family informed me that Lilith’s sudden relationship and marriage to Tyrone was mainly out of the need to escape Mortimer. Something happened in this period that no one spoke of very much, it was of course connected to Mortimer and the need to flee him.

Around this time, I remember visiting a center, it had a huge room full of toys, a children’s table, and chairs. I do not remember much else about the center but playing with the toys, I have no recollection of who was there, but later I gained the knowledge that the center was where Mortimer was allowed supervised visitation. Which given the legality required for such an order I can only presume occurred after a frightening incident that I only became privy to small details of this later on in Life as an Adult. Mortimer had become enraged with Lilith, I was never told the trigger, he kidnapped a taxi driver by knifepoint, I’m unclear on the details but I know the police were alerted before he managed to succeed in his pre-meditated plan to either kill Lilith and her children, or severely hurt Lilith and kidnap the children, but what I do remember clearly was that there was no doubt he was arrested and spent a small period incarcerated as a result of this incident. I had for a very long time presumed that this was the direct reason Lilith feared Mortimer and became involved in Tyrone. It never occurred to me there could be more that I was not being told, what I knew was terrible enough.

At some point in the early months of 1985 Tyrone had been offered work in Gibraltar and as far as I was told, one of the deciding factors that made the offer appealing to Lilith and Tyrone was the opportunity to rid herself and her children of Mortimer’s Toxicity, nothing like putting a sea between us and him!

Lilith was heavily pregnant with her third child by the time we made the journey by Ferry over to Gibraltar. I do vaguely remember this ferry trip and being shown the land as we approached, it was an exciting time for my younger self, these following memories are laced with Joy, excitement, and adventure! This was my first recollection of a happy family, my first recollection of any mother-daughter connection with Lilith. I was homeschooled during my time abroad, something I remember fondly, the praise for doing well always far outweighed any tedious feelings towards these less adventurous tasks.

Our first home abroad, we lived in a little ground floor flat, my favorite memory of this flat was the under-stairs cupboard that Lilith had to make safe by ensuring loose wires were not live then storing them away safely, allowing us to use it as a toy den, I loved our toy den! I remember the extremely steep street our flat was situated on and just how breathtakingly high the Gibraltar rock is. Yes, we did indeed live at the foot of the well-known Gibraltar Rock.

We traveled up the Rock at least once on a family outing, I remember it so clearly that I have a feeling there is a good chance we climbed it on several occasions. Even from that young age the views were breathtaking and being so close to the thieving Monkeys was both exhilarating and petrifying, we were that cliché family having our photos taken with the monkeys. One of those cliché photos was taken by my Auntie Allisia when she visited.

Whilst living in our adventurous little flat I have a fond, proud memory of Adrik and I picking a name each out of a jar of names that became our little sisters first and middle name, we were made to feel that it was a special honor to be part of naming our baby sister. Nyx was born in the latter part of 1985.

~

Meanwhile on the outskirts of London Anni finally got the chance to be a Grandmother! Jerry her second son had already settled down and got married in December 1979, six years on a mere few weeks before Nyx was born in 1985, Jerry’s Daughter Mia was born. By all accounts Jerry’s character was the opposite of his older brother Mortimer, he is a good man who loved his children deeply as a father should.

~

Not too long after Nyx was born, we packed up and moved across the border to La Linea in Spain, about the time that the border restrictions between Spain and Gibraltar were finally lifted. I have many more memories of our bungalow amongst the orange tree orchard. It was beautiful, we had a garden with white walls halfway up the walls were those decorative blocks on top with a somewhat flowery design, another one of those many subconscious visual images I have always been drawn to! Instead of grass in our garden, we had sand, every child’s dream! The doors had a second hinged layer with insect netting and windows had shutters. The walls and roof often sported the pitter-patter of the tiny lizard inhabitants that we coexisted with. You stepped out of our back garden into what felt like a never-ending orange tree orchard. Between the rows of trees, the sand dipped in the same way you see many farmers' fields. These ready-made pathways made for amazing adventures, at one particular part of the orchard there was a naturally occurring ditch between the trees which many of the neighboring children spent hours playing at, someone had tied a rope onto a tree branched and made a tire swing across the ditch. This ditch rang with the joyous sounds of children playing, I of course was often among them.

One of my most memorable bonding moments with Lilith, was when she taught me to Swim. Imagine a square pool built into the ground, perhaps a foot above the surface, surrounded by foliage and orange trees, the pool walls were made from large Dark Mossy brickwork, the whole scene looks like something out of Indiana Jones, Raiders of the lost arch. A beautiful spot that was forever etched into my subconscious when visually exploring the world. This is the scene in which I first learned to swim which no doubt emphasizes that when I’m in the water I am elementally myself, the freedom is exhilarating. What is more, this is possibly the first and most fundamental recollection of established trust with Lilith. She took me into the pool and taught me to swim on my own, a little at a time, increasing the distance between us and showering me with the assurance that she was there, would not let anything bad happen, and that I could do it! With every small success, I believed her, I was empowered by her encouragement. I believe as memories go this was quite a monumental moment, which for better or worse shaped my ideals and expectations of my relationship with Lilith.

In this home, I remember the doorway that led into a patio style kitchen, on a doorway from the kitchen there was one of those baby swings attached to a spring of sorts, which clipped onto a door frame, a baby of active age would be secured in it and have fun bouncing and kicking about. I remember that our baby sister absolutely loved this contraption, her face was full of glee, giggling away while we watched in awe at just how much she would jump! One of the other things I remember about Nyx was her addiction to Oranges! She absolutely loved them; I must admit I have always loved the smell of oranges! Due to the abundance of oranges, we had access to and her introduction to them at such a young age, Nyx would eat them until they were coming out the ears as she got older.

One day, I was in my room, sitting at what was my ‘school’ desk and chair, my quiet space to do my schooling, Lilith came into my bedroom to either close or open the curtains. I cannot be positive whether it was the start or end of my daytime, but I know that my Stepdad Tyrone was not in so may have been at work. It was a bright sunny time of day, which for Spain is not very elaborating of the time of day it was. A Snake fell from the curtain, immediately Lilith stretched out her arm to me calmly asking me to her, ushering me out the room in a calm protective manner, she shut the door leading to the other bedroom, leading me out towards the kitchen shutting the door behind us preventing it from entering the rest of the house. I remember feeling safe despite the fact that Lilith was in fact quite concerned about whether the snake was one of the highly poisonous varieties, she claimed she could not remember whether the pattern matched that of one she should be worried about. So, she ushered me through the house the long way, got Nyx and Adrik ready, she took us to our nearest neighbor a good 20-30-minute walk away. Once there she described the snake and was informed that it was, fortunately, one of the harmless varieties. By the time we got home it must have gone back out the bedroom window it came in. Though Lilith thoroughly searched my bedroom before I went in it, furniture was moved and searched before the room was declared snake-free. I presume this is where my healthy fear of snakes comes from, I say healthy because it is not debilitating, more respectful of nature's dangers, I definitely would not consider them as pets, but I have braved cautiously handling snakes as an adult, just once or twice.

Most of the time in Spain was filled with wonderous warm fun memories, the closest to a negative memory I have was on one of the trips to our local market. When I say trip, I mean the excruciatingly long walk for my five-year-old legs, it never left me just how forever that walk felt! To be fair it was perhaps 30-40 minutes at most, and the bustling busy market was full of wonders and intriguing to my five-year-old self. However, on one occasion, I had an agonizingly large blister on my foot causing excruciating pain, I was whimpering and limping. When Lilith finally looked at it, she discovered a large splinter or thorn which I most likely acquired from running around the sandy orchard barefooted. I also remember an incident in the same area of the market, crossing a narrow built-up alleyway type road, not seeing a car, being caught by the scruff of clothes dragged back on the path, and narrowly missing being hit by the car! This did put a less than healthy fear of crossing roads into me, something I’ve known myself to be overly anxious about.

I know that my Auntie Allisia visited us when we lived in Spain, though I do not have any defining memories, I know at about this age my Auntie use to call me Lulu due to my middle name, this I do vividly remember, rather fondly now. I used to get really upset and it became a running joke, I associated the name with a Toilet and didn’t understand why I would be called a toilet. Despite the joke it never tarnished my memories or fondness of my Auntie which was only ever equaled by those memories of my Nanna and Grandad, in fact, my Aunties nickname became a name I embraced in adulthood and is reflected in old usernames and email accounts. I know from seeing photos years later that we visited the Gibraltar Rock during her visit, perhaps those memories are intermingled with my other memories of the Rock. Later Allisia shared memories of her time in Spain, one description still makes me smile as we speak. She remembers sitting on the beach a 20-minute walk from our home, watching the planes take off from Gibraltar as if they had just been catapulted from the Rock for daring to land there. The visual description conjures up comic strip-style humor of the Gibraltar rock catapulting planes away.

~

I do not remember the circumstances around why we left Spain, nor do I remember the trip back to England. I do have a vague recollection of a discussion about it later which leaves me with the impression that my Stepdad Tyrone got laid off from work. My first memories once we returned to my birth town for a brief period, are flashes of moments that I struggle to define into chronological order. One such moment was being at a birthday party, I get the sense it was someone else’s birthday, colorful plastic party table cloth thrown across a makeshift long table extending the length of the room, it was a room full of children having fun. I remember Jelly, the traditional conversations about “wibbly-wobbly jelly” one of the doorways, perhaps the kitchen had very colorful beads hanging in it which I remember fascinated me! In another flash of moment or collection of memories, I remember having been given a children’s broom and shovel, whether with or without these I remember dancing around the house while Lilith was doing housework to two very distinct songs, Boy George’s Karma Chameleon and Black Lace’s Agadoo, these are my strongest most powerful happy memories of our mother-daughter bond. Those two songs have continued to trigger that emotional response throughout my entire life. Now unfortunately it is a bitter-sweet melancholy that is triggered at remembering those moments, but that’s a discussion for the end of this story. Those moments are the first memories connected to music, which would increasingly become a powerful influence in my life.

I believe I was 6 when we moved to a small harbor town called Seaham in the north of England. There are so many fragments of memories from this time. Playing in the garden with the neighbors’ children, one young girl who had the same name as me. I remember her showing me her huge scar where her heart was and the story of how she’d fallen into a toy when she was younger, quite a powerful story. I don’t know what happened to that neighbor, but they didn’t stay long after we arrived. I do however have the sense of fondness and connection that later fuelled me to unsuccessfully search for her. We had some fun dinner times in that house, Lilith would take us with her to the harbor on walks, we knew this is where she would get huge live crabs. At home, we were taught how to handle them without hurting ourselves and we would watch them crawl about the floor until it was time to boil them. They made this eerie screaming sound as they were boiled, but we were reassured that as soon as the crab hit the boiling water it was dead, and the noise was the air escaping the shell. We were taught how to eat the crab meat out of the crab’s legs using Lilith’s hair curby grips, perhaps they were bought for that purpose, but they were identical to the ones Lilith used for her hair. Every Sunday without fail Lilith would make a huge Sunday roast, the plate would be piled high. One of my favorite childhood meals! I also remember this old-looking food processor contraption, attached to a worktop, metal with a funnel on top, and a handle that turned, any left-over food got put through this and turned into baby food for our sister Nyx.

I was one of those children that loved school! It did not matter that at every school I was at I was bullied. Life was always positive and easy because I found connections and friendships that made the difficult parts easier to bear.

My first school, Princess Road Junior school was a rather old building, made from red brickwork, with large thin windows stretching low of the floor to ceiling. It had two floors. The land surrounding it was huge, the playground had an old brick and metal fence which had a series of plants trees, and shrubs near the entire walled perimeter. The grass fields surrounding the back of the building were an adventure in themselves, the perimeter of the fenced field was surrounded by climbing worthy trees which many children, myself included spent break times exploring and climbing.

My first days at school have always been very vivid. I spent a lot of time on my own, happy to do so, preferring the peace of solitude instead of having to stress about other people’s responses to me. I absolutely loved cake and custard, back then the custard came in so many different flavors! So, after enjoying lunch in solitude on one of those early days, I went out into the playground, hovering about on my own, people watching from the outskirts of the playground near the old brick and metal fence and plants, trees, and shrubs near the entire walled perimeter. I vaguely remember being picked on for something or other, when a group of girls a couple of my age and at least one a year above, approached me, they said hello and informed me I had dropped custard on my green velvet pinafore dress Lilith had made for me. I replied politely and scooped it up in my fingers and licked the custard off my finger. I do not remember the content of the conversation that followed, but I remember feeling welcomed and wanted. I was such a shy quiet naive girl, I never really deemed myself worthy of human interaction, I could not tell you why, but I would just watch other interactions from the sidelines. Every now and then, a compassionate individual would see me, seek me out, and break the ice by saying hello. When this happened the feelings of awe that someone took the time to talk to me was overwhelming, once that initial connection was made I would get intensely emotionally attached and develop deep friendships and connection that regardless of the length of time the connection would last, it impacted me on a fundamental level leaving a mark on my heart. Once a connection was made, I would feel an intense amount of gratitude that they chose to take time to talk to me, a kindness I never ever forgot, no matter my age.

My school life during this time is full of an abundance of interesting memories. I remember my first school nativity, normally I would be a nervous wreck at the idea of being on stage, but I had been chosen to play the part of Mary, and my childhood crush Garrett had been chosen to play the part of Joseph! Garrett became a good friend at school, I took any opportunity to talk to him, he had this knack for making others laugh, and often mischievous cheeky boy, with wavy golden brown/blond hair, he was always laughing or smiling mischievously. In our Junior School we had an urban legend that was passed down through the generations of pupils, a ghost called the ‘Grey lady’ that haunted the toilets situated on the stairwell to the second floor between landings, which made for a multitude of stories and goings-on, we went to the toilets in groups as a result, they were scary stories, that scared us, but like the horror stories told around campfires, there was a thrill to the stories and having to brave the toilets. As an adult I look back on them with humor, I do not feel I was harmed in any way, though I now have a conflicting skepticism and respect for the supernatural.

I remember my Auntie Allisia visiting during this time, she hated the sound of the Crabs cooking, perhaps the memory of the crabs is connected to her visit or intermingled, it is hard to tell! One of my very distinct memories of my Auntie is riding my bike! I learned to ride my bike by going to the top of my street where there was an incline that allowed you to pick up speed and practice balancing with ease, I am a very nervous person, even as a child, especially when it comes to anything requiring balance and safety, I hated falling, okay everyone does. I cannot explain this innate feeling, but I was far from one of those kids that fell, got scuffed, and got up, I avoided the scuffed skin and falling part like the plague! Which meant I was overly cautious and built up confidence extremely slowly, something that still rings true to this day. It was my Auntie that jumped on a bike with us, encouraging us to ride. One of the biggest impressions I had of the time was that Lilith and my Auntie Allisia's relationship was not great. Lilith tolerated her sister out of duty I believe, she tried to portray an air of civility, but I knew better, every fault or ‘character flaw’ Lilith seen in me she would respond with exasperation and irritation “You're just like your Auntie Allisia” this was always said in a negative diminishing light. Although I never verbalized this, my instinctive reaction was to question why this comparison was negative when my gut instincts told me that my Auntie is in fact a good person.

My Nana Maisie also visited us a few times, at least once with my Grandad. I remember one little outing with her to the park in our street very well. I was swinging on the swings; I loved it and knew how to do it on my own. Adrik ran out in front of me before he could be stopped, I hit him, and he fell backward and landed onto a broken glass bottle bottom with an edge pointing up! It pierced through his clothes and into his bum cheek. I remember just how terrible I felt that I was responsible for my little brother being hurt, there was so much blood, I incessantly wanted to know if he was ok as he was ushered home and tended to. It did not matter to me that it was an accident, unintended, it just mattered that I had hurt him, I just wanted to do anything to make it right! I remember that it was my Nana that took the time to reassure me he was fine and it was an accident.

~

Meanwhile, further south in Anni’s corner of the world, her son Jerry moved to Wales, close to the borders not too far from a river, where his second child Jackson was born in early in 1987. I do not know why they moved to wales but what I do know is that for a while his brother Mortimer was in their lives around Summer 1986. I cannot tell you how Jerry perceived that time with Mortimer, but I can tell you that Mortimer’s narcissistic personality was as destructive as ever, he meddled into his brother’s life in a twisted and sick manner, taking what he wanted and damn the consequences. I’m unsure whether Mortimer was there when Jackson was born, whether he continued to be around or crawled his way back with his clever manipulation, but the photos are evident that when Jackson was a toddler he lived for a period of time with Jerry in Wales. He spoke of those memories with a sickly fondness, especially the memories with Mia and Jackson. Mortimer would rave about how beautiful Wales is, the towns, the countryside, the people. He had a fascination for the goats, telling stories of what wonderful mischievous personalities they had. Many moments were spent reminiscing of his time in wales, he would hold the photos in an obsessive manner while he would look admiringly at his niece and nephew focusing on how beautiful their blonde hair and blue eyes were. Very cringe-worthy indeed!

~

Back in Seaham on one of my Nana's trips, I have a favorite memory of a rocky river called the Weir, its river bed was made of in parts solid rock, creating beautiful rock pools that heated in the sunshine, attracting families to picnic and paddle in. We were one of the families! A fond day was spent splashing around enjoying the sunshine with my siblings. I can tell you from those photos my Nanna Maisie later shared that it was the summer of 1988. From those photos I’ve had triggered memories of visiting places on day trips, the most prominent other than the weir, was visiting County Durham’s open-air museum, those moments had slipped from my mind until my Nana Maisie shared these photos with me.

Moments at school are far more vivid, I remember when Adrik started school and someone was bullying him, I was defending him, resulting in becoming the target of the bully, my friend Garrett saw the incident and had to physically intervene, the teacher had only seen Garrett's response and despite my input to explain the situation he was told to “sit” on the wall. The wall in question, which was used as a timeout was the side of the school building and was impossible to sit on. For the entire period, he had to be at the wall I kept him company and Garrett made fun of the teacher’s instructions attempting to “sit” on the wall, we were in hysterics.

I remember despite my shyness, enjoying many fun moments with my classmates, Garrett was of course in my class, there was a girl who I related to really well called Krystal, in fact so well that I confided in her that I had a crush on Garrett, at some point she or her friend offered to “ask him out” for me, the message back was that he would tell me at lunchtime. I remember this being one of those fluke days Lilith came to the school to collect me for an appointment and not being around at lunchtime to hear the answer, I was absolutely fuming with Lilith that day! Whatever happened, I never really got an answer to the question, but our friendship never waned, or what I perceived at the time. For years I was under the impression that Krystal was Garretts Cousin, and when recently talking to Garrett about our school days, he showed confusion over it I thought I was going mad until Krystal clarified that her cousin was in fact another boy in our class with the same name and that she is in fact distantly related to Garrett.

I recall either in our 3rd or 4th year the teacher we had was pregnant and I was absolutely devastated that she was going on maternity leave. I had this intense need to express those feelings, I found one of the hand-made baby cardigans I had for my life-sized doll, which I presume were my sister Nyx’s old baby cardigans. I got it cleaned and gifted it to her as a going-away present. I remembered my shy embarrassment when I gifted it to her on her last day and she was pleasantly surprised but insisted on asking me if it was ok to give her the gift, I insisted it was ok, I’d got it for her and when she quizzed if my Mum knew I assured her she did. I have the sense that Lilith didn’t know if I’m honest.

Thanks to some recent reminiscing with old classmates, more memories of that time have flooded back, one of the small group of girls I was closest to use to live on the same street as the school and would pop home often returning with treats she’d share, I recall watching her come back through the metal fence bars cemented on top of the wall surrounding this side of the school.

In the gym hall I remember Garrett had been standing next to the heater, he had overheated and fainted, I was quite close by and really worried about him. Garrett tells me he remembers it well and still has the chipped tooth as a souvenir, this happened while we were playing Hockey.

Also, in the same gym hall, I recall the bounce board and gym horse, which was huge! I remember climbing ropes while someone held the bottom and balancing on upturned wooden benches. When a classmate shared a gymnastics class photo swearing, I did gymnastics but not seeing me in the photo, it triggered memories of wearing that long sleeve burgundy leotard with various shades of pink stripes running across the body.

This I suppose was the first period in my life where school became a refuge from the goings-on at home. I cannot tell you when the domestic abuse began, but I can tell you that a huge part of our time in Durham was shadowed by memories of cowering in our bedrooms with Adrik and Nyx while we listened often in tears as my step-Dad Tyrone shouted and screamed at Lilith, often those screams escalated to bangs, crashes, smashing and abuse towards Lilith.

Memories at home were less vivid, but there were a few, another panicked moment was when our sister Nyx had pulled on a jacket Tyrone had carelessly put on the chairs stacked on the table while Lilith hoovered, the heavy wooden chair crashed to the ground, breaking the tip of her pinkie finger almost clean of, a rushed hospital trip proceeded to save the finger which to this day remains deformed.

On another occasion, I had taken Lilith’s typewriter eraser without her permission to school, a boy had borrowed it, but had not returned it. Within a day or so Lilith was searching for it, I panicked. I cannot tell you what exactly was running through my head, but I can tell you that I was too scared to own up to taking it and decided that night to run away. Adrik wizened to my plan so I took him with me. In the early hours of the morning, it must have been in the warmer weather, we sneaked out the dining room window, an opening running the top quarter of the window. I balanced on the ledge helped Adrik through and carefully climbed down using the bin. At the back of our terraced row of gardens was a golf course, between the gardens and golf course running its length was a path. We climbed the back fence to the path turning right and took a walk following the path for what felt like a very long time. Eventually, we came across some country roads with some farmhouse bungalows, tired, hungry, and thirsty we knocked on the door looking for water or something like that. When asked what we were doing I lied saying we had took a walk, we were thirsty and we would be on our way, we were extremely fortunate that they were a lovely old couple that offered us milk and cookies while they reported two wandering children to the police. We were returned safely home, Lilith was the most distraught I have seen her, she folded us into her arms tearfully asking what I was thinking. After I blubbered the whole reason behind running away, I remember the shock of discovering it was all over the fear of admitting I took the type-writer rubber and could not return it. At that moment I felt loved and rather silly for my actions.

There were some fun moments spent with Lilith during that time, the occasional tickle fights and silly carry-on. Lilith painted little cottages and had a room full of various craft equipment, sewing, and other hobbies she did, she occasionally spent time showing me her work, my love of Cat Stevens and Johnny Cash comes from those adventures into her workroom, she even gave me her tapes to listen to because I liked the music so much. I remember moments spent with my siblings in the room playing together, sometimes with Lego, building insect homes, traps, mazes, and contraptions.

I remember a couple of visits to the magical in-door Metroland which opened in February 1988, located at the Metro Center shopping complex. It was buzzing with the sounds and sights of a fairground but inside a massive warehouse building. It was famous for its huge indoor Rollercoaster which made good use of the vast roof space, my personal favorite was spending what seemed like forever getting lost and going on adventures in the massive floor to ceiling soft play area, the slides, the maze of netting to climb, tunnels, huge ball pits, walkways, mirrors and so much more. Going to this magical land was a rare treat and we absolutely loved it!

[Author note; bear in mind this is still only in its third draft]

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