Hiding, secrets and lies

Hiding, secrets and lies – ways of being or qualities that I leant from my mother. To survive my childhood I had to hide, keep secrets and lie. Sadly, I took these characteristics with me into adulthood. They became friends that I could rely on.

From writing this piece, I can observe how lonely Lisa was and how unhappy. I feel compassion for Lisa and understand that hiding, keeping secrets and telling lies was the only way she could be in relationship with another.


‘Who was that woman who waved to you?’ Bob asked as they sat down. He turned to look at Lisa when there was no reply. Her light grey eyes were downcast, partly hidden by her dark lashes, but Bob could see they had glazed over and that she was on the verge of tears. He nudged her gently with his elbow, encouraging a reply.

‘My mother,’ Lisa replied in a small voice that Bob didn’t recognise. As she raised her hand to tuck her hair behind her ear, he noticed she was shaking. He took hold of her wrist. It felt slender and vulnerable. He pulled her hand across his lap and held it there. He curled his fingers warmly around it and tuned her palm up, rubbing at it with his thumb. It was moist and hot. He brought it to his mouth in a gesture so intimate, he felt a stirring.

‘Lisa, what is it, what’s the matter?’  he murmured, searching out her eyes whilst keeping his lips in the pocket of her hand.

‘It’s nothing. Please don’t fuss me. I’ll be all right.’ Lisa pulled her hand away, turned and kissed Bob’s mouth silent. Her face was pale, he noticed, naked with just a blush on her cheekbones. She held her mouth tight, the line of her lips straight and polished pink.  Puzzled, but respecting, Bob turned to look around him, allowing Lisa the time she needed to compose herself.

The church was a modern, wooden constructed building. It was light and cheerful with a voluted and beamed ceiling. It reminded Bob of a very large Scandinavian chalet where the walls and the floor were of light-coloured pine. Sunflowers had been placed in vases on every window sill, their vast orange and yellow flowerpot faces contrasting with the purple and lilac of the stained glass windows.  The effect was simple, but stunning. It seemed to Bob to be a fine choice for a wedding ceremony should he and Lisa’s relationship develop, but Bob wasn’t sure about taking that step and he had no idea what Lisa felt about marriage. She was different from any of the other woman he had dated and being in her late thirties, she certainly wasn’t conventional about marriage and having babies. She never mentioned it and he loved that about her, that she didn’t go on about women’s things. It enabled him to embrace his freedom and pursue his own interests. She fascinated him with her analysis and introspection of others, drawing him into an emotional world he had never before experienced. It was like entering a cave, part of  him  knowing it was dangerous to delve inside, but the other part wanting discover more, to take the risk. Being with Lisa was a heady mixture.

They had been living with each other for nearly a year, ever since she moved in with him last summer. They had retuned from their first holiday together and Bob had been surprised to discover that he needed the closeness they enjoyed whilst away to carry on. He appreciated her company and the way that she, like him enjoyed a tidy, serene and neutral environment. When asked, she had readily moved in with him, bringing  with her little more than her personal belongings, her CD’s and books and a few choice pieces of homeware including an attractive copper lamp with a burnt orange shade and an oil painting of an african lioness in a gilded frame. Items that blended seamlessly with the decor of his carefully crafted home. He was mildly curious that she didn’t have any family photographs in frames to display but he had become used to the way she skilfully manoeuvred herself from a tight spot at any hint of enquiry about her past or her family members. Bob came from a close and gregarious family and it came as a relief to him that he wasn’t expected to be involved in another. Yes, he was happy and content with their relationship although had anyone asked, he would have admitted that it was slightly odd that he had never visited her home town nor met any of her family.

Arm in Arm

All my life, I craved physical touch from my mother who was unable to give or receive comfort. When we walked arm in arm, which we often did in her later years when she was struggling, I relished the contact, but felt the weight and burden of her.

In this piece of writing, I have learnt that my mother was afraid. She was as afraid as I was.  Sadly, we weren’t available to each other, neither could comfort the other.


Fear had entered Lisa’s life eight years ago when Sylvia was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even now, she remembered how it first felt when the consultant told them the devastating news. It was like he had given her an injection; the fear travelling through her veins, all the way to her heart where it had burst into an icy rain. As the years had passed, the rain had become more like a dripping tap than a shower, but it still chilled her and kept her frozen in that moment when her whole life had changed.

The appointment time with the consultant was at 4 o’clock. ‘Now you won’t be late picking me up will you?’, Sylvia had instructed.

‘No mum, I won’t. Don’t worry,’ Lisa snapped back. Conversations between Lisa and Sylvia were made in short, sharp pointed retorts, like a game of ping-pong. Backwards and forwards ‘no mum,’ ‘yes mum,’ until one of them missed the table.  The game  would then be suspended whilst invariably Lisa sulked and Sylvia fumed. It had always been so. Lisa couldn’t remember ever having a proper conversation with her mother. They had never talked, not about anything.

All that day whilst at work, Lisa watched the clock and as the morning wore on, she became aware of her heartbeat pounding at the centre of her chest. It was like she was riding a galloping horse she couldn’t control, that was going faster and faster. By early afternoon, she felt quite sick with it and cancelling her attendance at the progress meeting, left the office earlier than she intended. She would be early now,  she thought, that should please her mum.

As she approached the house, Lisa saw Sylvia standing in the middle of the large bay window, looking down the road. She already had her coat buttoned up and on seeing the car, she turned, bent down to pick up her handbag and was out of the house, on the driveway and locking the front door before Lisa had even stopped the car.

Typical Lisa thought as reached across and opened the passenger door. She had wanted ten minutes in the house to have a quick cuppa, to visit the loo and generally gather her thoughts before they set off for the hospital. Sylvia hadn’t let her see any of the correspondence from the consultant’s secretary and Lisa had no idea what department of the hospital they had to attend. It would have been helpful at least know something, but Sylvia insisted that she knew where to go and Lisa wasn’t to worry about the details.

As Sylvia got into the car and slammed the door shut, her scent immediately filled up the space between them and became the reason neither acknowledged or greeted the other. Her mothers smell, Lisa could recognise anywhere. It was both comforting and repelling, a mixture of expensive french perfume with back-notes of disinfectant and cigarettes. Lisa believed that no one else would be able to smell anything other than Sylvia’s perfume it was so strong, but she had lived all of her life with the other smells. They had become part of her mother’s DNA and part of their shared history, part of their differences. Lisa neither smoked nor used disinfectant to clean her home. She despised both. Discreetly, Lisa opened her side window to let some fresh air into the car, reversed out of the driveway and in silence they drove the short distance to the hospital.

It was not until they were checked in and sitting down opposite each other in the waiting area that Lisa dared to speak. She always broke first. ‘Are you ok mum?’ she asked, leaning forward to touch Sylvia’s knee.

Sylvia looked up from the magazine she held but was not reading. It shook ever so slightly in her hand. Unable to meet Lisa’s imploring gaze, her need for reassurance, Sylvia turned to the woman sat next to her. ‘It’s very warm in here, don’t you think? I wonder if they can turn the heating down?’ but just as Sylvia stood up to ask the receptionist at the desk, a door opened.

‘Sylvia Hutchinson please. Mr Hall will see you now.’

Lisa stood up and took a breath deep. She smiled encouragingly at her mother. Sylvia smiled back, finally meeting her daughter’s eye, searching for reassurance and strength as hers rapidly begun to seep away. She grabbed hold of Lisa’s arm. Lisa felt her mother’s weight, heavy and burdensome.  Together they walked towards the consulting room, a small distance that with the faces that turned to watch them, seemed like a mile. As they reached the open door, Sylvia released her grip on Lisa’s arm and stepped ahead, holding the door frame momentarily for support. Lisa glanced back to the waiting area. A woman nodded. It was the tiniest of gestures, but enough to prevent Lisa from running away. Involuntarily, she clasped her hands together, held them to her heart’s centre and followed Sylvia through the door.

Push and Pull

It was always a ‘push’ and a ‘pull’ of feelings whenever I saw my mother. I had a sense of being pushed from behind, the hand between my shoulder blades encouraging me to meet my mother face on. But the person to person encounter never happened. The other part of me (the stronger, the weaker?), always pulled back.

In this piece of writing, I can see that I was ashamed of my mother. Being able to say I was ashamed of her is healing.


Stepping out of the car, Lisa took hold of Bob’s outstretched hand to steady herself. Looking around, she immediately saw her mother and felt her heart clench inside her chest, like a fighters fist. Sylvia had on a full length dress of emerald green. It had a wide black satin ribbon tied in an elaborate bow around her waist accentuating her curvaceous figure. Perched jauntily on the side of her head, she wore a black satin hat with a matching green net embedded with black and emerald sequins. Her dark hair was curled to frame her face and her eyes and lips were heavily made-up. Lisa saw that she was wearing her pearls in her favourite way with the long necklace tied into a knot, so that it rested between her breasts, the remaining pearls disappearing dangerously into her cleavage. Lisa knew that the pearls were not real, but with the matching clip-on earrings, they complemented Sylvia’s outfit. As always, Sylvia had dressed for her part in the play and frustratingly, Lisa knew that yet again she had chosen the wrong outfit. With a mixture of pleasure and pain, she watched as Sylvia, seeing her daughter, raised a gloved hand to wave. With a slight nod of her head, Lisa turned away, welcoming Bob’s arm around her shoulder. Together they walked towards the entrance of the church.

A new start

A new start to my blog!

Writing helps me understand myself and discover who I am. My emotional development as a child and in my adult life up until my mother passed away, was thwarted by the invisible power she had over me. I carried her shame.

In this piece of writing, I can see I resented caring for my mother, but I would have done anything for her, even to the detriment of my own health and wellbeing.


Lisa lay in bed listening out for her mother. Her arms ached from the chores of the day and the skin between her fingers felt dry and sore as she rubbed her hands with lotion to try to ease them. Not daring to roll over onto her side for fear of missing her mother’s call, she shifted her hips slightly to ease the pressure on her back, and tried to relax. But still she was not comfortable. Without knowing she was doing it, Lisa held herself stiff, the tension she always carried infiltrating every part of her body like a mild and sustaining electric current in her veins. Had anyone been laying in the space next to her, they may have felt her pulsating energy. 

Lisa was unaware of the strain and stresses in her body and how close it was to breaking. She appeared strong and healthy but for how long was she able to withstand the hours, days, weeks and months of looking after her mother without a break, without proper rest and without any help? And was she able to cope with the ever increasing number of personal tasks she performed for her mother? Caring for Sylvia was taking its toll emotionally as well as physically. Others could see it and Sylvia knew it too, but Sylvia held onto her daughter with an invisible rein that could never be severed, not by either of them and certainly not by anyone else. It bound them so tightly, that neither could breath. Unbeknown to them, the rein had wound its way around both their necks and was suffocating them. One day it would kill them. Either that, or the cancer would.

The lamplight coming from her mother’s bedroom across the landing held the darkness at bay, allowing Lisa to look around the bedroom as she waited for Sylvia to finish reading her book and to turn off the light. Months ago Sylvia had decorated and dressed her guest bedroom with her sisters in mind. She was hoping that one of them would come to visit her before it was too late. Lisa had done all the painting and decorating and the hanging of curtains and the putting-up of light fittings according to Sylvia’s instruction. Everything in the guest bedroom was in various shades and patterns of pink, to contrast nicely, Sylvia had specified, with the white wood of the wardrobe, chest of drawers, bed side cabinets and headboard. Under Sylvia’s guidance not to spend anymore than was absolutely necessary, Lisa had gone shopping for colour coordinates: pink vases, pink cushions, a pink silk flower arrangement, even a pink container to hold a tissue box.  

The room was ready, but Sylvia’s sisters had not come to stay. At least now Lisa thought, she had a comfortable room to sleep in, even though the colour scheme was not her choice. She lay with the duvet tucked under her chin, the busy pattern seeming to hug her in an unwelcome embrace, roses on their dark green thorny stems tangling her up and holding her prisoner under the covers. Freeing herself, Lisa pushed it down, tucking it under her arms and unblinking and unmoving, she stared at the same design of roses on the matching curtains. She couldn’t escape them. Their many faces looked back at her until it seemed to Lisa that they were laughing at her, taunting and mocking her for her stupidity, her naivety and her unwillingness and inability to stand up to and confront her mother. She was in a hopeless, desperate situation and as Lisa turned to look up at the ceiling, she felt the familiar prickling behind her eyes as the tears slipped silently from their outer edges and slid over her cheek bones to pool in her ears.  

Wiping her eyes, Lisa offered up her nightly payer in a voice that she did not recognise, a voice that was small, already defeated but still ever pleading: Dear God, thank you for today, for looking after mum. Please keep the cancer from spreading, please shrink the tumour and keep mum free from pain. Please look after her dear God. Please let the chemo work and shrink the tumour, shrink the tumour. Thank you dear God. Amen. 

Her prayer, as always, gave little comfort, nor did it dispel the fear that was her constant companion. It seemed that as Sylvia’s tumour grew, Lisa’s fear grew inside her and the aloneness she felt because of it, seeped into the very tissues of her body filling her up so there was no room for any joy or any pleasure in her life. During the day, she managed to fight the fear. It was all-consuming, but somehow when she was busy and her mind was active, she found the courage to control it. But it was when nighttime approached that the fear came to claim her, no matter how hard she tried to keep it at bay. The fear was there now, it enveloped her, and held her tight like a lover might. 

Lisa settled as best she could and tried to rest. She remained still until finally, she sensed the slight adjustment to the light beneath her closed eyelids, signifying that Sylvia had switched off her bedside lamp. Thank goodness, she thought, preparing herself for sleep.

‘Are you all right Mum?’ Lisa called out in a voice loud enough so that her mother could hear. Sylvia was totally deaf without her hearing aid in place. It was their routine that she didn’t remove it until Lisa was certain all was well and they had said goodnight to each other.

‘I’ve knocked my glass over as I switched off the light, there’s water everywhere,’ Sylvia replied.  ‘Can you come and sort it?’

Lisa moaned as she threw back her duvet and climbed out of bed. ‘I’m coming,’ she said in a weary voice. 

More than half an hour later, after Lisa had wiped up the spillage, given Sylvia a fresh glass of water and helped her into a dry night dress, she finally got back into her bed and turned onto her side to give herself over to the sleep of the exhausted. It was only then that the fear silently slipped away. 

Grasping the moment

Blogging 101 gave us the weekend off, but encouraged us to consider our blog, use the reader and generally make some progress.

As I floated along on a tide of wellbeing this weekend, I had some inspirational thoughts for blogging, but didn’t grasp the moment, write and post. Now, as I have settled down to write and post, my earlier thoughts have floated away. A lesson then – I must grasp the moment when ideas for writing come to me and post an entry whilst I am energised with enthusiasm. What comes to mind now in this moment is the fabulous book I am reading – it’s called ‘the Payings Guests’ by Sarah Waters. I have read all her books and each one I find enthralling. She manages to take me into the heart of all her characters, so I am observing them from the inside out. Marvellous!

Keen observers will notice that I have added pages to my blog – the contents of which will be updated over time.

Too much choice?

Blogging 101 suggests we try out different ‘themes’ for our blog. Well, I have spent the last hour reviewing the many and varied themes available and have finally settled on ‘Misty Lake’ (I think!). Whilst I agree it’s good to have options, I also think that too much choice can cause unnecessary anxiety. For me, I am often left wondering if I have made the right decision and can sometimes back-track and change my mind – all very time-consuming and unsettling.


Feeling Small

Today Blogging 101 asks us to publish a post written with our ideal reader in mind. Hmmm an interesting thought. My ideal reader is someone who is willing to engage, either through contact (liking, commenting) or who feels compelled to consider my words carefully and wonder about me and why I have written what I’ve written. Searching for meaning, taking time to reflect, being curious and reaching out to ask why – this is my ideal reader. To connect with or engage with my ideal reader, I need to be as authentic as I can be. Funny thing that, as this is one of my reasons for blogging anyway  – to be my myself, open and honest and find my true voice. No more hiding!

I attended a workshop today. It was organised by the mental health charity Mind who in collaboration with my local NHS Trust, are launching a new Wellbeing Service in support of anyone who has issues dealing with their mental health. As a practising psychotherapist, I feel I have something to offer and wanted to contribute to the discussions. I am far less apprehensive than I used to be when in a group and so I felt confident about attending the workshop. Sadly, as the workshop progressed, I began to feel small and found it difficult to get noticed, to get my voice to be heard. Every time I went to speak out, someone got in before me. Why is it that it is such a battle for me to be heard?


Connecting with others

Day 3 of Blogging 101 asked that we add 5 topics into our Reader and select 5 other bloggers to follow.

Felt a bit like I had to do this, rather than wanted to. I guess the only reason I have done the exercise, is to keep up with the tasks – I don’t want to fall behind and yes, I really do want to learn how to blog with WordPress.

Tick, VG, now it’s time for bed.

Feeling empowered

I’ve just changed my tagline (for the 2nd assignment from Blogging 101) to reflect what I feel my blog is really about.

I’m feeling empowered.

Feeling apprehensive!

imageHello Everyone, I’m Lyndy and this is my very first blog post. I’m feeling apprehensive because speaking out publicly and having a voice is so alien to me. This is as a direct consequence of my childhood and how I was brought up. I was ‘silenced’ and ‘squashed’ by my mother and had to carry her shame. I am 56 and have decided it is time that I came out from beneath her shadow. This is the main reason for creating my own blog. I feel I have much to say about the journey of healing from a traumatic and emotionally abusive childhood that will hopefully help others. I would like to connect with people who are empathetic and who may have similar experiences and who may have an interest in my other reasons for blogging – my love of painting animals, my passion for walking and my ideas for writing a novel. Another topic that may crop up is dogs – on that subject, here is a photo of Amos who has come to stay for the week. Thanks for reading! Continue reading “Feeling apprehensive!”