Growing up, you were everything.
When I was a little girl I thought you were the most beautiful person in the entire world.
You always smelt of perfume and hairspray. I would watch you admire yourself in the mirror. I used to wish that you would admire me the way you admired your reflection.
I used to like watching you get ready to go out because it seemed to make you happy. But I never wanted you to go.
One time I begged you to let me come with you but you played a cruel trick on me letting me ‘go out’ to the garden after letting me use your lipstick and perfume. I never forgot how I felt in that moment.
Little did I know then, as a 5 or 6 year old, that that feeling would become more and more familiar to me. More familiar even than your face.
You were at your happiest when you were away from me. That was clear. I wanted to make you happy so badly that I would go wherever you told me to go without argument. But I never wanted to leave you.
You wanted to leave me though.
It was almost worth going for – seeing the happiness spread from your eyes to your mouth if someone offered to take me with them for a day, a weekend or a week. It didn’t matter who it was. The pleasure I saw on your face was everything.. until I realised that the pleasure was coming from escaping from me.
My heart would hurt as I left my home. My mum. My world. It was so confusing seeing you smile so sweetly, so happily as I left you. How does a child so young handle such feelings?
I was so small and thin. I had bright green eyes like cats and long, knotty hair which ran down my back. My “little pony” nightie and soft textured Barbie doll came everywhere with me.
I learnt that your happiness was more important than mine.
I suppose that it shows how pure a child’s love is. So unconditional. At an age where I should have been naturally selfish, I learnt that I would rather be heartbroken, hurt or scared than you be angry or unhappy.
I don’t have many memories of us together when I was a child. I have no memories of picnics or parks. No memories of cuddles or games. I wish I did. I wish we had baked cakes together. I wish that you read to me. Most of all, I wish you wanted me.
A year or so later you went to hospital and came home with another little girl. A sister for me you said. I cried and cried at the fear this little girl would take you away from me. I cried even more when everyone else came over and walked right past me to see you and the new little girl. I felt invisible. I was scared.
Me, you, the new little girl and your boyfriend moved into a new house together. The house felt big. It had stairs. I got a swing and for my tenth birthday you said I could have a bike AND a bouncy castle party with friends from my class. I was so excited.
A week or so later you told me I had to keep your secret like a big girl. The secret was that man you were kissing. The man who kept telling me we would go swimming and to theme parks.
When we went home that night it was dark and I got into bed. I remember my quilt cover had 102 Dalmatians on it. It was blue and it felt new from the pack.
The shouting began. Then plates and glasses were being thrown and smashed. I was scared. I hid under my blanket and then you came upstairs and told me to get in the car NOW!! I asked if I could bring my blanket.
So much happened. He was gone and a new man replaced him – just like that. He wasn’t kind the new man. He was angry. He never did take me swimming. He was scary. He breathed so loud. He shouted so much. I cried but I looked after my baby sister.
I moved schools again. We moved house again and again and again… and then he was gone and a new man replaced him and repeat and repeat and repeat.
The thing that never changed was the fact that you were happiest when you were without me. I so rarely saw you but when I did, you were cold and angry. I still loved you so much. I would do anything to make you happy.
One time I had an accident and my head was bleeding really badly. I wondered if I might die. You said you couldn’t handle blood so someone else had to sort my head out. I wondered if I died you might love me more.
Life continued to change, never the same for long. New men, new houses, new schools, new people. I got older. I saw you less. You never seemed happy to see me – unless I was leaving. That is a very painful memory to have.
Now I am older than you were then. I could have a 5 or 6 year old child; but I don’t yet. Maybe one day my baby will sit and watch me get ready in the mirror like I used to do with you, but I will always admire my child more then my reflection in the mirror. I will not send her away.
My happiness and my smile; the glint in my eye will come from lifting her from her cot,, from picking her up for a cuddle or watching her play happily. NOT from watching her leave.
The funny thing is that these days, now, you think it is ME who is cruel because I don’t like to see you as much as you would like me to.
Make no mistake, it isn’t that you want to see me. That you love or miss me. You just want me to want you like I used to.
Now you want me to put your happiness before my own like I used to do. Like you taught me to. Now I put myself first. Good girl gone bad.
Now I fight back for that 5 year old child who lives inside me. Now I smile when I look in the mirror too, not at my reflection like you did, but at her because now she feels loved.
You abused your power and now you have none.
Now I leave you – the thing that you always wanted and yet, now you cry.
It is too late.
I don’t see you as everything anymore.
I don’t think you are the most beautiful person in the entire world now.
But you still smell of perfume and hairspray;
and you still admire yourself in the mirror.