Spoiled Children of Divorce


“About A Boy”
December 17, 2007, 3:40 am
Filed under: Books, Movies About Growing Up in Divorce | Tags: ,

After years and years of psychotherapy in which I probably only mentioned my Mother’s suicide attempts once and with a non-chalant shrug, I finally got my first feeling of release from these horrible experiences while watching a movie called About A Boy. The movie stars Hugh Grant which I’m sure helped in the feelings department, of course.  In the movie, a mother tries to kill herself because she can’t handle how difficult her life has become.  Her little boy walks in and witnesses the whole rescue scene.  Later on he makes friends with irresponsible, irrepressible Hugh Grant who is a 30 something womanizing cad and he tells Grant’s character about what has happened.  Grant’s reaction is perfect.  He doesn’t try to react with wisdom, just blurts something British like “Bloody Hell,” but you can tell the information sinks in.  Hugh Grant actually listened and “got it.” Or at least he acted like he got it. He’s an actor so who knows what he actually gets and doesn’t get. Somebody on that set “Got it.” The movie is based on a book by Nick Hornby. Nick Hornby gets it.  Anyway, you can tell I prefer to talk about Hugh Grant over my Mother’s Suicide attempts any day, just not an easy topic.

My Mother tried to kill herself 4 times during the year that my Father left. The first time was before he had left, the other three times were after he left. They were both alcoholics so self-destructive behavior didn’t really seem out of place. Plus my Mother was part of the Valium generation so she had been slowly degrading for years, always out of energy and becoming more and more confused, always needing to go home to take a nap.

The last 3 suicide attempts came after my Father left and were part manipulation to try to get him to come back. I was the one who walked in and found her. I was 14. Lots of adrenalin that year and blinking ambulance lights. My Mother had two visits to the Mental Hospital. The County Mental Hospital, where she was taken first, almost let her die because they didn’t treat her for the Clorox she had drunk. County Mental Hospitals are some of the most frightening places in the world.  If you really want to die they give you every reason why you should do so.  My Mother was taken in in the back of a police car in the afternoon and by the morning she had no heart beat and no pulse and my Father had her transferred to a less deadly, private facility. My Father refused to show up after the first attempt because the police had handcuffed him and stuck him in the back of the car because of something my Mother had said. Eventually my Mother found a semi-stable boyfriend and stopped trying to kill herself, but she never calmed down. I never said anything about it and never felt anything about the scenes until about 10 years later. One day, I came home from work, put my key in the lock to the flat where I lived and all the memories cames rushing back to me. I remembered that every day when I came home from High School and opened the front door I would walk around the house to see if my Mother’s body was lying around.

My Mother only remembered the one Attempt and that’s because it led to the Mental Hospital which cost money. Once she scoffed about the time she tried to 86 herself. I didn’t say anything and that’s the only discussion I’ve ever had about it with a family member.

I haven’t read it but About A Boy is based on a novel by Nick Hornby. From all accounts I can figure, Hornby’s parent’s divorced when he was 11. He’s written a memoir that discusses his parent’s divorce and the obsessive love he developed of football, or soccer. Hornby’s English so maybe it’s Soccer. The book is called Fever Pitch.


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