My family stayed at a guest house in Mevagissey that was situated on a hill that overlooked the harbour when I was 15 years of age. My sister and I occupied the top floor bedroom with a wonderful view of the sea.
It was the oldest building on the hill and I spent hours gazing out of the bedroom window as I was intrigued by an unusual circular building close to the sea wall. I explored the harbour alone and conversed with an artist at the harbourside. I received inspiration from his illustrations and purchased a sketch pad of my own. I returned to my bedroom and attempted to draw the circular building I could see from my window.
Unknown to me, just behind the building and a mile across the sea stands a large white house that was inhabited by an elderly woman. At this time she was cared for by a registered nurse who would one day change my life.
At school I excelled in the subjects of drama, music and English. I was assigned major roles in school pantomimes. My tutor informed my parents I could qualify for enrolement in a drama school. My parents did not support pursuit of an independent career as they would rather I devote my life to their religion. I was offered a position at a school of higher education due to high grades and the fact I was in high achievement classes throughout my secondary school education. Further education was also discouraged as ‘worldly activities’ that could involve drugs, drink and wild parties could occur at colleges and universities. Adolescents are encouraged to leave school, find a part-time occupation and involve themselves in the door to door preaching work known as “pioneering”.
It was ultimately my decision, but there was underlying pressure with no support offered from the family and the organization. I did not enjoy the preaching work particularly over the Christmas period as I witnessed verbal aggression from householders toward my parents. I had difficulty understanding their religion and asked difficult questions which were left unanswered. The Elders in the organization noticed signs of a ‘free and wild spirit’ within me similar to my mother. From then on I was viewed by church members as rebellious and troublesome.
During my last vacation in Cornwall with my parents, we were at a caravan site next to Par beach.
Two young men were interested in dating me, one was in my parent’s religion who I had known since childhood. The other was the son of the Spanish woman we met on our first visit to Cornwall. As in most “holiday romances” we lived too far apart for anything permanent to develop.
At sixteen years of age I expressed to the church elders my desire to leave. I knew it meant that contact would cease with members of the church and my family, but at this time I did not consider the future consequences of this choice. There was an uneasy atmosphere at home as my disfellowshipping placed my family in an awkward situation. Members of the church are instructed to shun ex members, even if they have known them all their lives. Conversation was kept to a minimum at home and I no longer wanted restriction in my life. Throughout my childhood my parents were loving and I experienced some wonderful times, but due to their religious indoctrination they had the ability to withdraw emotionally. They would not allow me to leave home unless I married, as women are taught to be submissive and cared for by husbands or fathers. There were no independent women in my life to show me that I could lead a successful life without a man, or how to go about achieving a successful independent career.
I dated a young man I met during a work experience placement and after knowing him for a year, we were married six weeks before my eighteenth birthday. This enabled me to leave home and escape from the situation. At the time I considered myself a knowledgeable adult and left home with everything I owned in a new suitcase and a few bags. My mother walked with me to the bus stop to assist with my bags and one of them contained soft toys. As one of them fell out, I remember the sad expression on her face as she carefully replaced it . It was only when my children reached the same age that I realized how young and naïve I really was.
From then on I experienced freedom. My first husband’s parents had divorced when he was twelve years of age. His mother, concerned the divorce would have a negative affect on her sons gave my husband the largest bedroom in the house and kept his payments low. He could stay out all night if he wished and it seemed he did not have to answer to his mother for anything. He worked as an apprentice goldsmith with a jewellery company and proudly presented me with photographs of beautiful necklaces he created for royalty and famous celebrities. His work was sent to shops in Hatton Garden, London. As time passed he also created beautiful pieces of jewelleryfor me.
I enjoyed staying out all night after so many restrictions. We frequented nightclubs and explored Piccadilly Circus at weekends until the early hours of the morning with friends. There seemed to be as many people out during the night in London as there were at daylight.
My mother in law, heartbroken from her divorce, consumed alcohol as a means of escape. She was a loving person and looked upon me as the daughter she never had.
I had no experience of pornographic literature until I moved into my mother in law’s home as the males of the household owned many magazines. My mother in law thought it healthy for young men to look at these images. After a while I realized that I was within a different type of controlled environment. My first marriage was a mix of fleeting happy moments, domestic violence and emotional abuse. My husband was affected by his parents’ divorce,but used to having his way and not adhering to rules. He met with his father once a year for a few hours during his visits to the U.K. and the lack of contact distressed him. There were times he could be loving and he put considerable effort into making my first Christmas special. It snowed heavily that year too which added to the wonderful ambience of it all.
My mother had warned that I would be punished by God if I left their religion. I thought this may be the reason for my problematic marriage. My husband and I eventually moved into a flat of our own but the relationship did not improve and I became pregnant. I did not want to bring a child into a problematic relationship, but I would not terminate the pregnancy.
I then returned to my parents’ religion and was informed by the elders that I would need to attend for a sufficient amount of time to prove commitment before reinstatement. During this time, I was ignored by all members of the church. The elders criticized my attire, which I had to change but my mother intervened when one of them suggested I cut my hair short. With no one else to turn to, I met their requirements and was re-instated after six months.