There are so many ways I could start this. I considered going straight into a 'fuck you' but I realised that that doesn't truly give off the feel that I want to give with this letter. This letter that I write to never be sent. There is so much that needs to be said, so much that will never be said, so much that you will truly never understand.
When I was young, I thought my hatred towards you was aimed at the fact that you left me when you were supposed to be my Mother. I thought I hated you because you made me feel unwanted because you made me feel like I had done something wrong when I was just a child who didn't really understand the situation. As I got slightly older I came to realise that you were young and being young and a Mum isn't easy. I also came to learn that you are the time of person who returns to an abusive holding and is unable to get into a healthy relationship. I felt for you, at least, I wanted to. There is a difference between understanding something and accepting it I think. I understand that you are a victim to my birth father and to the father of your other children but I don't think that you understand that I am a victim to you.
It's only in the past few months that I have realised just how much you are still affecting me. I believed truly in my heart that I was completely fine as long as I didn't have to see you or talk about you. And perhaps three quarters of the time that is the case. But I was thinking about my biggest fears the other day. And I have the normal one, the one any person with a family and friends that they love would fear: them dying. Perhaps this fear became more intense in 2016 when two of my family members did die and I was forced to come to terms with that. However, it was the rest of my fears that came as a surprise to me. I knew there were there but I had never really put together where they have come from.
There's the obvious one. The one I always knew was a gift from you. That was a fear of abandonment. When you're abandoned by the person who is supposed to be your primary care giver at an age where you're old enough to know but not old enough to understand that's going to do some long-term damage to a kid and believe me, it did. Whenever I come to meet people I am terrified of being abandoned by them. This started with my Mum, the one who took me in when you couldn't be bothered with the stress of parenting. I spent my preteen years believing that eventually she would have had enough of me as well and would walk out too.
She never did. She is a better person in one day than you will be in your entire life. Ha. I sound like a writer. Well, I guess that's because that's what I am. I wonder if you know that I went to university, that I got a degree in Writing and I got a 2:1 in it and that Graduating was one of the best experiences of my life because I knew I had made it through something I didn't think I could do. I wonder if you care. I don't, care that is, either way.
This is a great time to segway into another great fear of mine. Failure. This ties into not being good enough which of course ties in with the fear of abandonment. A lovely crossover of phobias that can never truly be disconnected from each other or from you or away from me. So, failure. This is a fear that drives me, a fear that drove me to finish my A Levels even when I was so stressed I didn't know how I was going to cope with everything. It was a fear that drove me to get through university even though I was a year behind my age group, even though a million and one things were going on with my family that threatened to distract me from it all. It is a fear that makes me do things and do them well but also a fear that stops me doing things because if I don't try I can't fail, right? No, that isn't how it works but sometimes that's how it feels. Failure means not being good enough. Not good enough to get the right grade, to be the right friend, to be a good enough daughter. And that's the crux isn't it, that is where it all comes back to. Not a good enough daughter. I don't think that anymore but it's where it started. Psychologically, I realise I am scared of failing because it will mean I'm not good enough and if I am not good enough people might leave me again because they've done it before, why shouldn't they do it again?
How does it feel knowing you messed me up? It reminds me of a meme. You've messed up a perfectly good girl is what you've done, look at it, it's got anxiety. That's you to me. You are responsible, I realise now, for almost all my fears and my anxiety. I cannot disconnect from you no matter what Ii do. You, in your youth, in your cowardice, in your own failure fucked me up for life. So, yeah, thanks for that. Shall we continue? There are a couple more fears of mine that I want you to know about, a couple more fears of mine that show how my life with you was even before you left.
I am scared of the dark. Adorable, right? Most people grow out of being scared of the dark, once they learnt that there are no monsters under the bed. Well as I got older my fear got worse. I cannot cope being in a place of complete darkness. I risked having my phone taken off me at my job rather than going into a dark corridor without my flashlight. I palmed that job off on anyone who was nearby rather than having to be in the place of complete darkness without any light. I couldn't do it. You understand me? I was 24 years old and I could not walk through a dark corridor at a kids' indoor play area because of what you did to me when I was a child.
Connected in the same way the other fears could not be separated, I am also scared of locks. This goes back to an early age. I remember being in McDonald's and having worker walk in on me in the loo because I didn't want to lock the door. She was nice, showed me how the lock worked, but I knew how it worked, my fear was that it wouldn't unlock again. These two of course come together from the fact that you used to shut me in a dark cupboard when I was in trouble. I wonder what I did to deserve that. What did I do to deserve to be messed up for life? Please, do tell me. See now, whenever I am out, I hate being in somewhere that is locked if there is not another route out. This means, of course, whenever I use public loos, I have to test the lock with the door open, then again with it closed to ensure it will open again. It means while I'm doing my business, I'm looking to see if Ii could get out of the cubicle with the door still locked if I needed to. It means my heart skipping a beat then the lock gets a little stiff and doesn't open straight away.
These last two, with the addition of claustrophobia which rears its ugly little head every so often, are the reason I wasn't able to completely feel sorry for you. I could feel for you when it came to the situation with C and when it came to the situation with D but I could not when it came to me. The way I see it, there is no excuse for bad parenting. There is no excuse for the way you treated me, the way you made me feel both when Ii was with you and after you left me. There is no excuse.
So I thank you for the delightful gifts you have given me. Fear, phobia and mental illness. But on top of that I thank you for the one special lesson you taught me. You taught me how to be a parent. I just need to do the exact opposite of what you did. So I guess I really should say thank you for that.