It brings me great sadness that our paths barely cross – and when they do there is so many things missing that shouldn’t be – respect, trust, honesty. Even though I’m twenty-five, I still remember the day when I sat on the bed and you asked who I wanted to live with – you or Dad. I don’t remember much, but I remember choosing ‘Dad’, knowing that it meant you were leaving. I remember you visiting me at school, you came to say goodbye and I cried a lot. I didn’t understand the magnitude then, of what it means when a mother leaves her child. I didn’t understand then of all the things I’d miss out on as I grew older – what I’d miss out on as a grown woman. You weren’t there on Christmas morning, and you weren’t there to sing Happy Birthday.
I didn’t understand it then, the significance of a woman choosing drugs over her child. Aren’t you supposed to love your children unconditionally? To sacrifice your everything for their happiness? I was about six Mam, and I’ll never forget the last night I stayed with you…to awake in the dead of night and follow the trail of blood to the bathroom. I looked down the stairs at you and I remember watching you cling to your boyfriend, he was bleeding and crying because of the pain of the stab wound you gave him. I still remember him telling me to stay at the top of the stairs where I watched you cry and say how sorry you were to him. I remember the kind police women who talked to me in the car whilst you were arrested. I remember you being dragged out of the house with multiple police officers in tow. You were thrashing against their hold and had a deranged look in your eyes. I remember the police women saying that I would not be able to see you again and I was going home…back to my hero – my Dad. There he was waiting at the garden gate, waiting impatiently for the police car to turn the corner. It wasn’t long before he scooped me up into his arms and held me tight. I didn’t understand it then Mam, the pain, the anguish, the relief, that he must have gone through that night. To have received that call in the middle of the night.
I didn’t see you again Mam, not for many years…I still didn’t know that much about you – only that you were a heroin addict and that my siblings had been removed from your care. I said cruel things when I younger, I’d say that you were dead to me, that I didn’t have a Mam. Really I didn’t, those words were harsh but it was me who was different from all of my friends at school, I was the only one without a Mam picking them up at the end of the day…the only one who had to make cards for her Grandma for Mother’s Day. I was bullied at school, mean kids would sneer and say “at least I’ve got a Mam” – can you imagine what that felt like? A little girl being bullied because her mother had abandoned her? I still don’t think you realise what you took away from me every time you injected your latest hit. You know the Spice Girls’ song – “Mama I love you?” When I was a little girl, I loved the Spice Girls and I always had to change the words to “Grandma, I love you” because otherwise it would make me feel sad. I can’t help but wonder Mam, why wasn’t I enough to stop you? Why weren’t we enough to stop you? You brought me into the world when you were barely a woman yourself…but I had to learn to be one without your help. Aren’t you supposed to pick me up when I fall? To wipe away my tears and offer me ice cream when my first love breaks my heart? Why couldn’t you find the strength the fight the drugs, to fight for the opportunity to be a proper mother? Where was your fight for the little girl that you pushed into the world eight weeks premature and stayed vigil by her incubator?
I gave you a second chance Mam. I found you at eighteen, I hoped with all I had that you’d found peace with the world. That we could start again – a brand new chapter, a clean slate. My girlfriends were having shopping dates and afternoon tea with their mothers…and as I got older, I was beginning to understand the significance of a daughter not having her mother around. I hated that over twelve years later things hadn’t changed that much…you were still sneakily taking drugs and getting into trouble. All I ever wanted Mam, was to find you and for you to be like everybody else’s mother…to have a day job, someone I could call for hours and go for tea with. Someone I could call for advice and know that I was getting the very best of the best wisdom. Still, you couldn’t find the strength Mam, to try just for me. I tried so very hard, to build a relationship with you but eventually I had to realise that you were ‘just you’ and no amount of reasoning, pleading or even angrily shouting was going to change you.
And so now it was my turn Mam, to turn my back on you. It did not bring me any pleasure but I knew in my heart that we could never be happy with each other. You don’t want ‘normal’, you don’t want to be a 9-5 kind of person…to kick your shoes off and put your slippers on at the end of the day. You want chaos, drama…controversy…all of the things a mother is not supposed to want. You’re supposed to show me stable Mam, you’re supposed to show me unconditional love, tell me to have courage and be there when I stumble trying to chase my dreams – even though I am twenty-five. You’re supposed to be there – just in case. But where are you Mam? You tell me that you’re sorry, that you don’t know how to be a Mam…what do you expect me to say? I can’t tell you that it’s ok because it’s not. I can only tell you what I wish you were – and I have done, so many times, over and over again. It’s just now who you are and I have come to accept that but don’t expect me to embrace this, to still want a relationship with you. A relationship goes both ways but I have nothing more to give you, I’ve tried giving you my knowledge, my patience, my understanding, my encouragement, but nothing seems to work and finally now I am 25, I have accepted that you and me – together – really were never meant to be.
One day I want children of my own Mam…it pains me to know they’ll never know their Grandma. But then I think, why do you deserve that bond? Why should I give you the opportunity to hold their hands tight…when you weren’t there to hold mine? I’m supposed to learn from you Mam…i’m supposed to learn how to be a mother from you… I’ve found peace within myself, I’ve found the trust that I’ll ‘just know’ what to do. I’ll know not to walk away, not to turn my back because I won’t want to miss a single second. If there is anything you’ve taught me Mam, it’s that life is just too short, I will cherish every second with my son or daughter with joy, for I have learnt the true meaning of family, the true meaning of hero from your swift departure. I won’t be like you Mam – something I’ve always feared. I will love them unconditionally and I will make sure that they know every single day how precious, how treasured and how very loved they are.
You recently contacted me and asked me whether I would support you on Jeremy Kyle so that you could access the rehabilitative treatment that you supposedly so desperately needed. You told me that you were abusing medication meant for cancer patients and were taking 28 Diazepam each day – a dosage meant to last a month. Does it make me foolish that I believed you? That I considered putting my own feelings aside to help you? That I gave you a shred of faith that maybe you could change? I wonder, what did you tell the Jeremy Kyle team? Would I have been humiliated on national TV – to find out that you had been lying to me? You’re giving people different stories Mam and I simply cannot trust you. You have proved to me that I’m too soft, too gullible, too believing, too trusting. You were dishonest with me Mam, did you think the truth wouldn’t come to the surface? I think the time has come for me to walk away, knowing that I’ve done everything I can to help you, but the truth is, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped and I can’t waste my precious 20s helping a woman who ultimately will never appreciate the help given to her as you have rejected too many attempts. I’m ready to walk away now Mam.
Despite this, it’s not too late to change Mam. I’ve always had a small bit of faith that you would. That faith is now dwindling…prove me wrong – I dare you. If you see this letter Mam…I’d be interested in what you’ve got to say…maybe an open letter to your daughter would be good…an opportunity for you to say what you’ve always wanted to say.
Your Eldest Daughter