This maybe hard to believe but I rarely if ever am jealous or even envious of others so I find it very difficult to understand why others are - particularly of me.
I will joke that I would prefer to be swimming in the South of France rather than darting from door to door to avoid the rain with the builders’ tea but as Little Britain character Vikki Pollard would say actually: “I’m not bovvered”.
This is a legacy of my peculiar mindset – the fact that I have been clinically depressed since I was eighteen years’ old (at least that was when I was diagnosed). At that time I did not know my mind, I did not know myself and over the years I’ve come to understand a lot about how minds work – especially mine.
Where most people can go with their gut instinct, I cannot trust mine and have to question it constantly. I’ve worked out many methods of doing so. And through trial and error worked out how to gauge others but it is not instinctive. This I fear makes me slightly odd especially on meeting and how I’ve managed to keep friends defies belief! I think the best way to describe it is that I am slightly disconnected.
Because I have had to live with this for such a long time - and believe me a lot of it has been pretty horrendous - I would not wish my life on even those who have caused me great hurt. So I find it surprising when I am the object of either envy or jealousy.
The most extreme example of this caused me to miscarry – or so I believe perhaps it would have happened anyway one will never know for sure.
We had been living at the farm for a little over three years and I was the proud if somewhat incongruous mother of a year old baby boy.
I arrived home from shopping to find that I could not get into the farm because some ditsy girl in a bright yellow Peugeot was turning in the drive. She eventually got herself into gear and I carried on. As I got out of the car I noticed that the girl was pulling up behind me – I thought she was lost and holding the baby in my arms approached the car.
“Can I help?”
“Are you Mrs X?”
“Yes.” I instinctively clutched my baby closer as a huge sense of foreboding descended upon me.
“I’m from Social Services.” She held out her identification – I don’t remember looking at it by this time every muscle in my body was tense. The Boy however, gurgled delightedly and waved his arms about in greeting.
“Can we go inside,” she said, before gently manoeuvring me through the back door and into the Kitchen.
I think natural good manners forced me to go through the banalities of welcome but to be honest I can’t really remember.
“We’ve had a call about your baby and although I can see that everything is absolutely fine we have to check…I can see the call is malicious…”
I don’t think I registered much just the bit about the call about the baby.
As the social worker explained she had had a call concerning the welfare of The Boy and whether I was fit to be looking after him. If I say my world was plunged into darkness I think any of you who have children will immediately emphasise with me. For surely every mother’s worst nightmare will be that someone takes their child from them with no just cause.
I was visibly shaken and the darling girl gave me as much comfort as she could – she tried to make me listen. She tried to make it better. She reiterated that she knew the call was malicious.
She explained that every call logged by Social Services is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly and she laid out the charges that had been brought against me. They were long and detailed – very detailed. But all twisted.
The caller had started off saying that I was often heard shouting at the baby; that I had cleaned its pram with bleach, that it went to bed in hat and coat because we could not heat the house, that we had too many pets, that I had depression and was very clever at hiding it that in essence I would try to hide the fact that I was not a fit mother and that the baby was endangered.
I could not get over the incredible detail of our daily lives that was spread before us – for everything against me had in some cases more than an element of truth. Yes I had shouted at the baby – I was a new mother and the lack of sleep and isolation had got to me on occasion usually I’d then call friends and go to them or drift off over to Annie’s for some tea and let her cuddle The Boy until I was OK again.
Yes I had once put him in a hat and coat because I had forgotten to order the oil and we had run out and most important of all I admitted I had clinical depression – my doctor, the midwives and my health visitor all knew about this - there had been no problems. The accusations seemed to cover a period of about a year.
Recovering slightly I asked who had said these things.
“I can’t tell you.”
”Why not? They’re not true!”
“We have to keep confidentiality, if we did not people would be too afraid to call us if they suspected a problem. They are protected by the law.”
“What about the law protecting me and my family. Who would want to do this?”
“I’m sorry I am not at liberty to say.”
My thoughts could only focus on who would hate me so much as to do this. I was so shocked. I at once was disassociated and unconnected and there all at the same time. I was numb and so very cold I could hardly stop shivering.
I can’t remember all that happened suffice to say that Dear Charlie turned up and the discussion was carried on without much input from me. The Social Worker left reiterating that there was no problem that she had sorted everything out as far as she was concerned and that there was no case to answer.
But me my sense of isolation was never more acute – who had done this. I thought I was going out of my mind. I thought it was my husband – how could these intimate details of our life been so exposed if not from someone close to me?
Was it my mother? My sister? My mother-in-law? My sister-in-law? Which of my friends? And I could not say anything to anyone. We had decided that no one was to know what had happened we did not want anyone, least of all the one who had done it, to have the satisfaction of knowing what devastation they had caused. So I scrutinised everyone felt I could trust no one and even in my darkest moments thought it could have been me and that I had blanked it from my own memory.
Several weeks passed and time that great healer dimmed my concerns and lulled me in its passing days.
Then I came home to find my glorious Marian in tears outside the house. She came to warn me that she had been contacted by Social Services following up a report that she had asked a friend to voice her concerns about me and The Boy. She begged me to believe her that she had never said anything to anyone least of all to call the social services on her behalf.
The nightmare started over.
Marian had been asked by Social Services not to report back to me saying that they would get in contact with me themselves. But Marian could not do that – she had spoken with her mother and her mother, sensible lady that she is, had said to go straight to me and tell me exactly what had happened. Marian was shaking. She said she had no idea who had done this and begged me to believe her again and again. I was cold and my brain was having to work over and over going through all the few facts that I knew. The one thing that stood out was that I knew she loved The Boy and would never do anything to jeopardise him or, said the more cynical part of myself, would she jeopardise her job.
Social Services visited again reiterating that they felt it was the actions of a malicious caller.
“Do you know anyone who would do this?”
“No, I can’t think of anyone…” I dared not voice my suspicions for I could point the finger at several who were not fond of me and leading the troupe was my sister-in-law.
They said they would come and assess the situation in two weeks time. So for a further two weeks the strain built up. It was inevitable that I could not keep quiet this time. My overwhelming urge was to find out who and then to get the full force of the law behind me so that they would never ever do this to me or anyone else again.
Ferris, our gorgeous teenage boy of all trades – was devastated when he heard and immediately but unbeknownst to me set about recruiting his mum to find out all she could at the local school gates. Perhaps he had heard things said about me and wanted to make sure. Marian also was trying to hunt down the culprit, as was her mother who suggested that shooting the bugger would be too good.
Dear Charlie was with me as was Marian when Social Services next visited. There were two of them a man and the darling ditsy girl. I was given the all clear and it was explained to me that my record would show that the calls and accusations against me would be labelled as malicious. And it was then that I begged them to tell me everything that they could – I had to know who was doing this.
“We’re sorry but we can’t say.”
“Is it my family?”
“We can’t say but… well…no it’s not.”
“Is it someone within the county?”
“Within the Village?”
“Yes – look we really are not allowed to say.”
I could sense them weakening and pressed the advantage.
“Is it someone involved with us?”
“Look I can’t say but as far as I can say then no…”
I plagued them to report exactly what the caller had said. They read out from the transcript of the telephone call.
“Was it the same person as before?” I asked.
“”We don’t hold those sort of records…”
“But surely you must log every call, surely you must know who calls?”
“We just get a telephone number.”
“But was it the same telephone member as before?”
“Yes, but we can’t say if it was the same person. We’re not allowed to.”
“Can you give us the telephone number for our solicitor?”
“No. The callers are protected.”
“Can you prosecute people for wasting your time if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the call is malicious?”
“No, we can’t. We get a lot of malicious calls usually between parents especially if there is a custody problem over the children – we can’t even prosecute them. It’s very unusual to get a truly malicious call like this one.”
My thoughts raced – the person who called would get away with what they had done, Scott free and there was nothing I could do about it.
But then something sparked in my brain; the phraseology used in the transcript. I asked for it again and something twigged. I remembered the exact same words been spoken and only recently, the problem was I could not remember who had said them. A faint recollection so I asked if it was she. Their faces across the table were inscrutable.
“Look, we are sorry but we cannot say.”
Dear Charlie ploughed in: “Will you log the callers calls? Will you tell the caller that there is no case to answer if they call again? And warn them that we’ll prosecute.”
“All I can say is that the caller is flagged.”
As we escorted the social workers to their cars to say goodbye Dear Charlie asked again: “Is it her? We just want to know. We won’t do anything I promise we won’t”
The guy looked at Dear Charlie full of sympathy and as he started to pull away said: “You’re not far wrong.”
The woman is a supply teacher, the information about our lives gleaned through village gossip from a variety of sources, as she has never set foot in our house. She must have been building her case against me for over a year possibly longer – and the only reason my mother an come up with is that she is jealous.
What of the aftermath – I collapsed; I miscarried but as I said earlier that may have been on the cards despite this episode rather than because of it.
In order to protect my family I enrolled my son at a Nursery and told them all that had happened I asked them to record everything about my son and how they felt he was being treated so that I would have a written independent record on his health and well being. For months after I ensured that I was very rarely alone with my son during the day so that we would be protected. That we would have witnesses to his welfare.
And when I had my second – I employed a Nanny. Not because I wanted to but just in case.
I think that explains why I am reticent, I think that explains why I do the things I do. I think that explains my isolation here in Suffolk and why this site is so important to me – for here I get to know you slowly. Here I can reveal myself slowly here is the comfort of anonymity and of being judged on who you are rather than what you represent.