A new category – Growing Up
Trying to fill in the gaps… trying to understand the process that has shaped my personality as an adult. Excuse me if I ramble a little, I’m not quite sure where I’m going yet.
I grew up with a mother who suffers with severe depression. I didn’t know the name of the condition then, or even that she suffered from a condition, I just knew she was hard work.
There were the days when she was so high, doing ridiculous things and having us in hysterics, and the days she was so low that she would cut herself and wish herself dead. I would have done anything on those days to make her smile, anything at all. There was no magic answer, of course, and it was just a case of sitting out the bad times, listening to the sobs and muffled screams of frustration and pain that came from her room, and waiting for the good.
My sisters were younger than me, and I used to try to absorb as much as I could so that they didn’t have to deal with it. I would make sure I was the one who knocked her door and spoke to her so that, on the days she wanted to rant, it would be me she ranted at. I listened to her stories of an awful childhood, and horrible men and the terrible world we lived in, and I tried to comfort her the best I knew how. I tried to be an adult before my time, and I tried to make her proud so that I would never again have to hear her say the words, “There is NOTHING in my life that is worth living for…”
At 17 I found myself pregnant and it wasn’t long before I moved out of home, into a relationship that was even more damaging. I saw Mum infrequently then, but she seemed calmer and was much easier to be around. My relationship with my sisters suffered though, and it wasn’t until much later that I realised this was partly to do with Mum. She wasn’t really better, she just focused her attentions somewhere else. My youngest sister confessed last year that she hated me for leaving.
It seems wrong that I didn’t realise what had happened. I was stunned to find out that they had spent the next 18 months listening to the things that I had listened to, saying nothing to anyone else about it. Is it that people often see only what they want to see?