My mother tried to commit suicide approximately 10 days after my 13th birthday, at the end of August. I was crushed. I loved my mum so much. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t love enough to want to stay or why she wanted to leave us.
I burnt my arm once with boiling water. The pain of the mother trying to kill herself was similar to the intense deep burning pain of the boiling water as it ate through all the layers of my skin. It was pain that went right through to my core. I felt it in my heart and in my stomach which was cramped so tightly I couldn’t I eat or shit.
Following “that day” my mother was committed, for her own safety, to East Glamorgan Mental hospital. That’s where she stayed for what felt like a year but was probably closer to 6 months. Visiting her in hospital was awful. It was awful because my father cried everytime. It was awful because it smelt awful. Mostly it was awful because of my mother cried everytime we visited and because of the other inpatients.
As far as I could see the only thing the hospital stay did was prevent her from being able to attempt suicide again and give my father the opportunity to exploit my mother’s absence and abuse me. I hated going and I hated leaving. I hated seeing my mother in that place and I hated seeing the other inpatients. From a child’s perspective it was like One Flew Over The Cuckoos nest meets Girl Interrupted. I found it upsetting seeing my mother surrounded by these weird creatures and seriously doubted her ability to get well in this place. I hated that they talked to her and that they saw her as one of them. As far as I was concerned she was my mum and she didn’t belong in this awful place. It was a traumatic time for me and my two brothers.
It was now the beginning of December and my mother had been an inpatient for three months. It was her birthday and she was still in hospital. I decided that I was going to bake her an amazing cake and take it in. I anticipated that on seeing the amazing homemade cake she would be really impressed, see how much I loved her and get better. My best friend helped me create a huge cake which we covered in chocolate and dessicated coconut. My mum loved coconut. I was really chuffed and I knew my mum would be too.
My best friend came to the hospital with us that day as she also wanted to bask in the cake glory. If my mother was pleased with the cake she hid it well. The strange creatures, who also lived in this terrible place with my mother, circled our family like vultures, eyeing my baked glory and by the time our visit was over so was the cake.
I was completely gutted. More than that, I was furious. How dare they eat my mother’s cake. I had made that cake for her not for them. I had a lot riding on that cake and they ruined it. I plotted my revenge.
There are lots of things that I have done in my life that I am ashamed of however this is not one of them. To this day I am totally apathetic about this incident. The adult (that hides expertly) within me is able to rationalise that my mother’s fellow inmates were all also normal people who were suffering with various forms of mental ill health. However my thirteen year old self is still pissed off about the hijacked birthday cake.
I decided that I would bake a new cake and take it into hospital on my next visit. This time the cake would be for my mother’s non compos comrades. I baked the cake. This time I replaced sugar for salt, a hefty serving of mustard powder, and a good handful of black pepper. This cake was going to be vile. I decorated it with marzipan and couldn’t wait to take it in. My friend and I chuckled to ourselves and congratulated each other on our evil genius. It was the best fun I had that entire 12 months.
The evening of the visit came and I proudly presented the new cake. Again they circled and the cake was cut into generous slices and distributed about among the patients who gobbled it down in huge mouthfuls not waiting to taste it.
I sat back with a smug smile and enjoyed the chaos I had created with my disgusting cake. I’m lying, I’m not apathetic about this incident at all. I’m still quite proud. We’ll talk about the consequences I faced over the cake another time. For now we’ll just enjoy the moment.
Bon appetit X