Contemporary Drama Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I knew I should listen, if only to myself, to the signals my own body was sending me if not to the cacophony of well meaning ‘friendly advice’ bombarding me from all directions.

Apparently, my children are being appallingly let down … I am setting a bad example, I am being selfish with our limited finances, I am making their lives infinitely more difficult due to the embarrassment of having me as a mother, I am unable to adequately cater for their needs.

 When this angle of attack does not seem to provide the requisite emotional (or actual) response, the tactic changes. My children love me and do not want to lose me, I must be grateful for having a family and their love should more than adequately fill whatever emotional emptiness my love of food, and wine, exists to complement.

I wasn’t always this way and I do vaguely remember happiness in my childhood and the early years of my marriage. I had a career I believed added value to my life and that of the community I am part of. I know being a cop is not the most popular choice now but when I went into service, it was something to be proud of. My career could not be called illustrious, but the scars remain, etched deeper than I probably care to admit. Especially that case, the one I can’t escape, the one that haunts me both consciously and in the grimiest realms of my deepest dreams.

I can’t say I was forced out of the Police, but it was in every gesture, every look, every tiny interaction and finally it was the sympathy and pity that proved to be the impossible pill to swallow. When I resigned, I thought I would achieve some form of closure – am still not sure what that means. Instead, without the camaraderie and company my work used to provide, my demons and I became close, and inseparable, companions.

In the beginning, being a mom was enough – my husband was happy to have home cooked meals and my children were supposedly well-adjusted. I also enjoyed the solitude of my home when it was my own lone fiefdom. I think I went in the right direction with my new-found alone time; I read books, listened to music and podcasts - I even had a few private dances with inanimate objects - and I maintained what I thought was a balanced relationship with the wider world. But, with how loud my inner voice became, my most profound fears stretched their previously un-utilised talons and got a greater grip on me that I only recognised retrospectively when those cantilevers weren’t going anywhere soon.

Whether we like it or not, we all judge much of the time – or evaluate, as I prefer to call it, slightly more generously. We watch, read and listen and make assumptions or shore up rationales that are either a product of logic (rarely) or our subconscious helping us out based on previous data input (more commonly). In today’s world where social media exists to funnel us into our own echo chambers, this proved to be my ultimate undoing. I was like water spiralling down the drain – inertial force kept me powerless. Once I was in that current there was no escape.

Don’t get me wrong – my choices are my own (I think). Addiction has become a definitional battle ground like so much else today. I used to be interested in society and politics but that is a luxury that can only exist outside of absolute self-preservation.

I only have self-interest now. I quite literally only seem to be able to generate any enthusiasm at all for my latest delivery. I live from meal to platter, from bottle to casket, and in the subterfuge that is necessary to ensure the ongoing continuity of the latter. I have burner phones, a separate trash area and some very well tipped delivery people.

My husband thinks I use these underhand methodologies, but he is not entirely sure. He likes to be partially blind, being blinkered is an excuse for all. I tell him I have a genetic disorder and he wants to believe me. I am a fraudster – not one that appears in the Statutes with criminal recriminations, but I am a liar – most of all to myself but also to those around me.

The comfort that I get is not something I am willing to forego – when your drug cushions you in the softest form of silk imaginable, and you feel cosseted from the brutal realism of the present and everything makes sense, why would you listen to annoying, intrusive realistic voices. Your world shifts on its very axis and it becomes only yours.

My family and friends keep telling me that I know ‘better’ and I must make more of an effort. Being patronised is one thing, but they don’t understand the difference between knowing something is wrong and still not being able to change with that knowledge. It is like being caught in a spider’s web, whichever way you move creates reverberations and you can’t control where those are spreading. Or you can. And you don’t care.

My case was brutal – it involved a child. It rocked my world at its very foundations. There is nothing harder than a truly, purely innocent victim and an unfathomable ending. We all pray, we prostrate ourselves before our idols and Gods, we offer deals, we make false contracts with our imagination, or with our deities. We make promises that we know we will be unable to keep and yet we still try. All the time.

So, what is wrong with my denial of reality? I am not sure if it is somewhere I want to be. What is wrong with my deciding on an abrogation of responsibility, after a lifetime of embracing it? Why should I be punished for my current rejection of normality? Or my rejection of what normality is?

I rage against a world I don’t understand, a world where I am condemned for factors that are out-with my control and, justifiably, for those that are. The latter I can accept, and work with, and the former I cannot. It’s a never-ending dichotomy.

The child that went missing under my watch, was a different ethnicity to mine. There was much made of that in the ‘news’, but we have guidelines, we don’t operate on made up rules or gut decisions – warrants don’t work that way. We have a (sort of) playbook, we have enquiry avenues, we have lines that we have to stick within, and those that we cannot cross.

Besides, everyone knows that most of the time it’s the family. Which it is, except when it’s not, and the carnage of victims in that scenario knows no bounds, and no limits.

In my case, my family saved me – not my human family, who abandoned me at the very first opportunity. No, I mean my animal family. It’s a truth that is very often unspoken, the fact that we rely on those who are supposed to mean the least, to give us the most absolute purest version of truth, or something similar. Their unconditional love was my saving grace, my only salvation.

I followed the rules, I stuck to the guide lines and I was eviscerated for so doing – I would have been equally treated had I reverted to gut instinct or breaking the rules. So, the only answer now is to get everything right, all the time, under all the constructs of applicable law. Where does that leave me as a human with all my associated foibles? As a former cop, is the answer.

My demon’s and I are in a lifetime relationship, my guilt affects everything, who would not turn to drugs? Take your constructive criticism and tell me how to apply it meaningfully.

I know you mean well but sometimes things, and people, are just damaged. Perhaps beyond repair, perhaps that's a chance we all have to take.

April 14, 2022 19:00

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Craig Westmore
17:58 Apr 21, 2022

Welcome to Reedsy, Madelaine! A very intense and troubled narrator. You did a great job showing the internal struggle of this mom/wife/ex-cop. I do want to know more about the incident with the child that ended up ruining her career and I'm curious to see a scene of dialogue that shows how she relates to her family. A lot is going on in this woman's life and plenty to explore.


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Chris Williams
11:40 Apr 21, 2022

This is how people REALLY feel when caught in the vortex of a critically important situation that is out of their control. I'm glad that you did not end the story with a "solution" to the problem. This story is not for the benefit of the sufferer, but for those who do not understand how to help that suffering soul. No glib answers here! And if this is in some way autobiographical, my heart is with you. Well done.


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