I loved the orphanage. The kids there were like me, the nuns were kind, and most of all it represented the opportunity to do what I believed I had to do.
Then the nuns decided to do me a favour. They offered me the opportunity to go to boarding school at their mother house, on a full scholarship. Since I was quite bright and loved study, I jumped at the opportunity. It was one of my worst mistakes.
I very quickly realised that, while I had fitted well at the orphanage, I was a fish out of water at boarding school. I was very conscious that the other kids were rich and I was poor, that they were upper middle class and I was working class. And I was very, very conscious that I had been through the courts and felt like trash.
For the first two years I cried every night. I also made several half-hearted attempts at suicide.
Then, during the Christmas holidays of my second year there, I met a boy and “fell in love”. The romance didn’t survive my return to boarding school, but it was enough to convince me that I wasn’t called to be a nun!
Eight months later, during the August holidays, I met another boy and “fell in love” again (there is a pattern developing here!) This time I decided that I wasn’t going to lose another boy because of boarding school, and on a free weekend (spent at the orphanage) I walked the length of town till I found a shop that would give me a job, persuaded the sister of the lady my boyfriend was boarding with to take me in, and
returned to the nuns to announce “I’ve got a job, I’ve got somewhere to live, I’m outta here!” They, of course, were horrified, but that was the least of my worries. I was in love, it was a week short of my seventeenth birthday, and I was free. We married three months later.
|Les and I after our wedding.|
Most people would know that a marriage at 17, three months out of Catholic boarding school, to a guy I’d only known for four months, didn’t have an awfully great chance of success. It was on the rocks almost from the word go. I had my first child at 18, my second at 21.
By 22 I was a young mother who knew that marriage was definitely not all it was cracked up to be. I was emotionally at rock bottom, had again attempted suicide (this time a little more seriously) and found that the Catholic religion which had so totally met my teen age emotional needs came nowhere near meeting those I now felt. I still believed in God, and somewhere way down inside I still had that small, gnawing sense that somehow I was called.
Not long after that my work sent me to learn typing from a lady who ran classes in her home. After a while we became friendly, and one night she said to me, “My church is having a meeting here next Wednesday night. Why don’t you stay after your lesson, have tea with me and then come to the meeting.” By that time any excuse to stay away from home was a good one, so I agreed. “What church is it,” I asked.
“The Christian Spiritualist church”, she replied…