What was life like before? She couldn’t remember. Not perfect, obviously, but better. She knew there had to be times when she was happy. But she wasn’t now and it felt like she hadn’t been for a long time. It couldn’t be that long though, could it? Not when she was only 13 years old. The problem was, she couldn’t remember a time when her mother wasn’t angry; when she didn’t shout, slam or hit. And sometimes, even worse, the silent treatment. Never knowing when her mother was going to blow. Was going to lose it and leave her feeling terrified of what she’d do next.
She knew they’d been on holidays when she was younger. Were they happy then or just playing pretend? All she knew is that she was tired. Tired of being afraid, of having to be careful of everything she did or said, of looking after her younger siblings, of going to school and having a job to help pay the bills. Tired of trying to be the perfect daughter. Tired of so much responsibility so young.
They had found out her mother was sick a couple of years before. Bipolar disorder. A psychological illness that no 11 year old could comprehend. All she knew was that her mother spent a long time in the hospital trying to get her medications right. Sometimes when her nanny took her to visit she’d be in a good mood; other times, her mother would act like she wasn’t even in the room. Two years passed without much change. 13 now and feeling old beyond her years.
She’d had enough. No matter what she did, no matter how hard she tried, nothing was ever good enough. She couldn’t make her mother notice her. Really notice her. She couldn’t make her love her. So what was the point? It didn’t help that she had no friends to confide in. Her crippling anxiety, self consciousness, shyness, ensured that there was no way she could make even one friend. Her family were so preoccupied with getting her mother help that they didn’t notice the depression slowly engulfing her. Her siblings were too young to understand and she had tried her best to shield them from their mothers wrath. She was the oldest after all. She had to be the responsible one; she should know better; she had to take the weight of the world on her shoulders.
She’d considered just running away. Taking whatever she could carry on her back and just leave. But where would she go? She was still just a kid and the feeling of responsibility to her siblings was too strong. She couldn’t leave them there to fend for themselves. She couldn’t risk them finding out what their mother was truly like. She’d done a pretty good job of hiding that. Always taking the blame. Keeping them occupied on one of her “bad days”.
She’d considered suicide. But she knew she couldn’t do that to her younger brother and sister. Although her nanny and her mother had tried to hide it, she knew her mother had attempted to take her own life. After everything she had done over the years to try and make her mother happy, to try and take responsibility for their family, even for their finances, her mother was willing to leave her three children orphans. She hated her for that and she knew then she would never be good enough.
But as the years went on, being threatened by her mother with homelessness because she didn’t get on with one alcoholic boyfriend after another; being treated like a maid, a cook, a cleaner, a childminder, a source of income, there was never a point when she stopped trying to be the perfect daughter. There was never a point when she stopped hoping she would gain her mothers love. It was only years later she finally realised how much she had destroyed herself and how long and hard a road it would be to piece herself back together.


3 thoughts on “Acceptance

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