Sometimes, the rigidity of attitude and opinion on K5 can be really peculiar. Its too late for me to +1 FP this, because it's already done, but I want to say a few words about why I would have voted this way anyway.
Yes, K5 does have a diary section. It's a ghetto for narcissists. I occasionally pop my head in there, but rarely for more than a moment, because the bulk of it is crap. Suggesting that this piece belongs in the diary is to suggest that it belongs among the rest of the tiresome narcissistic crap. Now perhaps some of you genuinely do feel that way about the piece? If so, then that would be a good reason to deny it the +1. But the idea that powerful events that touch us personally have no place in the K5 sections or on the front page seems to me to be sheer nonsense.
It's like being a publisher and turning down the Diary of Anne Frank, or Kay Jameson's 'A troubled mind', because those books really belonged in the author's dressing table drawer.
Memoir is a respectable literary and journalistic form. When a story doesn't offer anything new, any new insights, or have the ability to touch us and make us feel something, then yes, it probably does deserve to be sent back to the diaries, but this story doesn't fall into that category, IMO.
Like Mickey, I also have some personal experience of schizophrenia.
When I was a young man, I had a relationship with a woman who eventually got pregnant and gave birth to a child. The pregnancy wasn't planned. She had an tooth abscess, and the dentist gave her an antibiotic, without bothering to mention that it negated the effects of the contraceptive pill.
So, she got pregnant and had the child. It was a few months after the child was born that she showed the first signs of instability.
When the child was three months old, she walked out on me. The reason for this, she said, is that she was too young to be tied down and live the live of a traditional housewife. (She was about 22 or so.) She wanted to go out clubbing at night and have fun. Not just at weekends, note, but during the week as well. Most nights, in fact.
I was completely gutted. I hadn't wanted a child either. I'd argued that an abortion made most sense, given that we were both unemployed, living in a slum with fairly sizeable drug habits at the time. I wasn't even sure that I liked this woman an awful lot, let alone wanted to spend the next 20 odd years with her.
She was totally opposed to the idea of a termination. She was determined to have this baby, and if that meant having it on her own, then so be it. Well, I might be a shit, but I'm not a total shit. I bit the bullet and settled down to the idea that my life was going to change. I stopped using drugs, went back to school, got a job and then out she went.
She had a whole series of misadventures, but to give you some sense of what we're talking here, her first move was to go and live in a squat in Amsterdam with a bisexual leatherboy, while she left the baby with her mother. (Her mother was more stable than she was in many ways, but you've never met a more narcissistic woman. Think Blanche Dubois, trying to swoop on her daughter's boyfriends and you're getting close.)
So now I find myself committed to being a part time father. Having the child at weekends and holidays, etc. It was complete and utter hell.
A few weeks later, she came back from her Amsterdam jaunt, the whole thing having ended in disaster, and spent the next year or two moving from one grotty squat to another. Taking my infant son back to his mother at the end of the weekend was hell. He'd scream and cry because he didn't want to go back to live in shit. And sometimes she'd be home, sometimes she wouldn't.
It was one of these weekends when I first learned she'd been hospitalized. After waiting outside her flat for a couple of hours, I poked a note through the door and went home to wait.
Two days later, frantic with worry, I learned that she'd been hospitalized for her own protection. The men with the white van and the big nets came and took her away when she went apeshit in a sweet shop.
And so rather than being just a weekend father for the next few years, I became a father for half of every year, while she was hospitalized. Then, they'd let her out again, she'd take the meds for a while and cry about how she wanted her son back, how he was the only thing she had in her life. And so he'd go back again -- by now having learned to bury his dislike of having to live with an insane mother for fear of hurting her feelings -- and I'd spend the next few months, wracked with pain and guilt until the whole thing happened again.
Somebody lower down the page made a very interesting comment, about how Mickey's mother had a responsibility to stay with her family and son.
I'm very sympathetic to that approach now. As I've gotten older, I've come to see exactly how important family is. Family are the people who are there for you, come what may. Who'll support you, regardless of the circumstances. Who'll visit you in jail, even if you've been diddling little girls. And I didn't leave this woman, she left me -- but she did try emotional blackmail to get back together -- 'for the sake of the child', and I was very susceptible to that but fortunately, I'd met someone else who actually does mean 'commitment' when she says the word. Had that not happened, I might also have been in the same position as Mickey's mother is now.
We struggled on like this for ten years or so. Then, it happened again. I took the boy home after the weekend. Once again, she wasn't home. I waited a few hours, and then I went home again.
This time, I had a very bad feeling about the whole business, and so during my lunch break I drove out to where she lived, just in time to see the ambulance drivers bringing out the body bag.
She'd taken an overdose of whiskey and pills. A year or two before, she'd fucked a rock and roll singer and she developed an unwanted obsession with him. She'd taken to stalking him, but earlier that year, he'd been killed in a motorcycle accident. Her journal said that she'd gone to join him in the sky or rock and roll heaven or some such lunatic bullshit.
So I do understand something about the range of emotions Mickey must be feeling at the moment. When this woman killed herself, my first thought was anger. How the fuck could anyone be so selfish as to inflict such pain and misery on such a beautiful child? I didn't give a shit how unhappy she was, her primary responsibility was to the life she'd brought into this world. Even if she didn't care about herself, she had to care about that.
The selfish, selfish cunt.
My next feeling was relief. At last, my son will be able to grow up in the stable environment that I'd managed to create for him. Her overall influence on the child's life was far from positive, and he stood a very good chance of turning out very fucked up -- just as her mother had passed on her narcissistic tendencies to her daughter, maybe they'd be passed on to my darling son.
Finally, there was the guilt. Insane, stupid and selfish as she was, she was a woman that I'd once loved dearly. Had there been something, anything that I could have done differently that could have saved her life? If we'd gotten back together, perhaps she'd still be alive and my son would have his mother?
Today, my son is a young adult and I know that there's a school that thinks schizophrenia is heritable. I like to think that if he was stricken with the same madness as his mother, that I'd hang in there for him and do whatever I could.
But the truth is, you can't sacrifice everyone else for one person, no matter how great their need. If you're going to be useful to others, you have to be able to function -- and until you've walked a mile in Mickey's mother's shoes, as I have, you really aren't qualified to comment.
Suck my .sig