I messaged my sister and asked her if she got home OK. A few hours later, she replied. After some small talk, she asked me if I hated her. What? ! Where did that come from? “Of course I don’t hate you.” I typed. “I’m not trying to guilt trip you, but you broke my heart. I want my sister back.” She replied. Hmm. Which sister? The one who wanted to end her own life? The sister who hid her all consuming pain behind a cheery voice, whenever she called? The sister who’d died inside and was waiting for her body to catch up? The sister she hadn’t seen for two years (prior to the hospital visit), despite only living an hour and half away? The sister she made excuses to, whenever the subject of meeting up arose? The sister she actually didn’t really know? Instead of saying all of this, I just promised to get better. I meant what I said.
I didn’t hear from her for a few days. My Dad called to tell me that my sister’s grandmother had passed away. My sister is from my Dad’s first marriage, and it was her maternal grandmother who had passed. I called her and left a voicemail message. Almost immediately, she messaged me to tell me she was in work. It’s hard to tell if she was lying or not, having had that excuse used on me a lot in the past. I messaged back and told her I’d heard about her grandmother’s passing, and gave her my condolences. We had a brief chat, before telling each other we’d speak soon.
“I have something to tell you.” My husband was acting very strangely. Had he had an affair? Was he leaving? Had he been diagnosed with some awful terminal illness? “The night you tried to kill yourself, the police broke into the house because after I called the ambulance, I fell asleep. The ambulance took forever to come and I’d had so much to drink. You were lying on the sofa, I asked you if you were OK and you said you were. I fell asleep and the next thing I remember, is the police breaking in. You were unconscious and the paramedics took you into the ambulance. The police wouldn’t let me go with you. They questioned me for hours. They asked if you were a drug addict, what you had done, why you did it, was I abusing you. They took me to your Dad’s house and searched our house. They wouldn’t let me leave your Dad’s until they’d finished their search.” Oh God. This is not what I wanted to happen. I knew the police had broken in – it’s hard not to notice the damaged panel on my front porch. But I didn’t know exactly why they broke into my house. I thought maybe it was an over reaction. How much damage had my attempt caused? My husband broke down. “I left you to die. I feel so guilty.”
I didn’t and I still don’t think my husband intentionally left me to die. Everything must’ve happened so quickly, that he didn’t have time to think properly. He was also intoxicated, and wouldn’t have been able to make clear decisions. I’m mortified that the police searched my house, like it was a crack den. For the record, my house is not a crack den. It’s your average three bedroomed semi-detached family home, with a never ending laundry pile, half finished DIY jobs, school calendars on the fridge and my children’s creative work adorning the walls. The nosiest of my neighbours must have really enjoyed watching the events of that night unfold. We’re what you would call boring. Our nosy neighbours very rarely have the opportunity to peek through their blinds at our house. They would’ve lapped the opportunity of that night up.
“Hi hun. How are you? People at work have said something’s happened to you. I’m not being nosy, I’m just concerned.” My work friend and part time gossip texted me. The rumour mill at work had been busy. I told her I was fine and had just been in hospital with a mystery infection. I don’t think she believed me, but that’s her problem. I didn’t want everyone at work knowing my private business. They might think they know the truth, but I’m not going to provide any confirmation. The people who need to know the truth, have been told. And that’s how it’ll stay. I later found out that there were two rumours circulating round my workplace. The first was the truth, and the second was that my husband had attacked me. The second rumour is a result of me and my husband having harsh words with each other in the reception area of work, the day we finished for Christmas. Our children were staying at my Dad’s house and I was working in the evening. My husband had taken the opportunity to go out drinking with his colleagues, after his shift. I felt it was unfair of him to do that, and said so. It wasn’t an argument, it was me being a bit pissed off and telling him so. No big deal.
I went back to work after a week and half. My recent promotion meant I was going to work with a different team. I have a new manager (who knows the truth) and I’m working in a different area of the building. A fresh start. Settling in to my new role and undergoing some on the job training, provided me with a welcome distraction. Before Christmas, I’d learned that my application for the development opportunity had progressed to the formal interview stage. I’d been shortlisted from over forty applicants. I felt accomplished and really quite proud of myself, before all of this. Now I felt a bit overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right frame of mind to conduct the interview. My husband voiced my concerns with his operations manager, who urged me to go to the interview. What was the point? I wasn’t going to be accepted, seeing as I so obviously can’t deal with pressure effectively. I decided to go to the interview anyway.
“I’m ready to discuss things with you now.” My Sister had called me the day after I went back to work. “I’m finding it hard to have a relationship with you now. I need to know the truth. What happened that night?” Oh you’re struggling to have a relationship with me? I suppressed the urge to tell her to fuck off and hang up. “You probably know more than I do about what happened that night. And I’m struggling to have a relationship with someone who’s completely ignored me for the past two weeks.” She was silent. “I haven’t completely ignored you for two weeks. I’ve been busy.” Hmmm. Too busy to answer my calls, but not too busy to have conversations with other people on Facebook. “Why did it take from 9.30pm to 3am for your husband to tell Dad what had happened?” She asked. She was speaking really fast and sounded like a headmistress addressing her five year old charges. I felt quite irritated by this sudden interrogation. Why did she assume that just because she was ready to talk about my suicide attempt, that I would be? “The police wouldn’t let him speak to anyone, until they’d finished questioning him.”
“OK then. Answer me this. Why did he fall asleep as you – his WIFE lay dying on the sofa?” What the fuck is she getting at?! “We’d spent the afternoon drinking. He was drunk. Also, maybe he didn’t think what I’d done was as serious as it was. Maybe, like most of the medical experts I seem to be related to, he thought it was just a cry for help.” “But it was a cry for help. If you’d been serious, you’d be dead now.” Oh so the cardiac arrest, induced coma and intensive care things were just part of the attention seeking drama? I was furious. “And why did they discharge you from intensive care? I wanted them to section you.” Oh you did, did you? You wanted me to lose everything? Thanks sister. “They didn’t have any gurneys available in the psychiatric ward. They decided that the colour of the straight jackets didn’t go with my grotty hospital gown.Why do you think they discharged me?! The NHS is in dire straits and they didn’t have any beds available. That’s why.”
She spent the remainder of our conversation judging and berating me. Not a shred of compassion or sympathy was wasted on me. We ended the conversation on civil terms, but she’d really pissed me off. It was all about her and her need to get her ducks in a row. My ducks had long since abandoned me. I resolved to keep contact with my sister to a minimum and only when she initiated it. No more weekly phone calls, no more random messages, no more requests to meet up. Her sister wasn’t coming back, in any form. I love her dearly, and I don’t hold anything against her, I just need to concentrate on getting better. And I can’t get better if my own flesh and blood is judging me and interrogating me.
The next day, I attended my interview. I answered the questions to the best of my ability and left the room knowing I wasn’t going to get a place on the programme. There were four places up for grabs, and I hadn’t grabbed one. A week later, I was called into my operations manager’s office. She greeted me with a handshake. Beaming at me, she slid an envelope across her desk to me. “Congratulations. Your six month secondment commences on the 6th of March.” I’d got a place on the development programme. I’m going to learn how to be a manager. 2017 wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
I’ve decided to leave this series here. It felt like a good place to end. My story does and will continue. I just wanted to bring this particular chapter of my life to a close. Thank you so much for reading and for your words of kindness and support. I hope my story hasn’t caused you any distress, or harm. It wasn’t my intention to burden my readers with my story, I just wanted to use it to help people.
Photo by Osman Rana, courtesy of Unsplash