My Struggle Within

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What did I do to deserve this? What did I do to make you not love me anymore? Why don’t you care? How could you abandon me?

These are the questions that I ask myself all day long, but the truth is I didn’t do anything, you never loved me – not really. I was never good enough for you, I was too independent for your liking. I reminded you too much of yourself and you didn’t like that. And when I started to want a life outside of you and your husband, that was the last straw for you. That’s when you both let the façade fall, so slowly at first that I didn’t notice and then you let it go entirely and we’ve ended up here.

At first, I was lost and confused – and in a way I still am – I couldn’t understand why you abandoned me, what I had done to drive you to make such a decision. I sunk further into the darkness that I had only just begun to dig myself out of.

But then I realised that it wasn’t me. It was all you. You’re the one who can’t get over past events, you’re the one who called me my father’s daughter in an attempt to wound me. But it only stoked the fire of independence burning inside of me.

I began to wonder how dare you do this to me? All I ever did was try to make you happy, my life revolved around you for 16 years. Now I see that was a waste of my time, I should have put my energy to better use. I shouldn’t have this many regrets at this stage in my life, after all, I was only a child back then – I wasn’t to know any better.

For so long I’ve blamed myself, wondered if I could have done something differently to make you stay, wondered what I did wrong, wondered what it was about myself that made you leave. But I’ve come to realise that it’s not me at all, it’s you. It always has been, right from the start.

You’ve systematically tried to separate me from the family, you’ve even turned my own brother against me. But what you don’t realise is that you’ve alienated everyone else in the process. You tried to isolate me and only succeeded in pushing me towards the people who really care about me.

And yeah, I’m lonely and struggling but I won’t let you win – because I’m a survivor.

Irresponsible Avoidance Parenting

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Why did you have us if you weren’t going to care? Was it just so you could become the image? Or did you really want us but you just didn’t know how to split your time? Didn’t know how much effort it would take?

It’s okay for me now, because I have figured out enough on my own. But what about him – he thinks he’s enjoying life but he doesn’t know how much he’s missing. He’s barely even opened the box. You’ve kept him there without even knowing you were, or what you were doing to both of us by not giving us boundaries. Not giving us boundaries meant for me I was always looking for them and for him, he could just carry on with his own self-indulgent existence. You have to ask him, nag him, demand him to take out the recycling for one time only and it’s the biggest inconvenience to him and his routinely planned evening. The recycling, for fuck’s sake. And you don’t even ask him, I do. Ask him to wash the dishes after dinner and he’ll huff and say he’ll do it when he’s ready. Ask him to wash the bathroom and he’ll say he can’t see dirt, even though the place is ridden with mould; green, black, and white mould. What the fuck? Why do you let him live that way? Why did you let me live that way? I’m not supposed to be the one instructing the rules onto a 30-year-old child.

He has a problem and I told you three years ago and I thought you listened to me because you nodded your head at me as if you knew I was right and you said ‘yeah, I know, I know’. But you didn’t want to know. You know there’s a problem but you’re avoiding it just like you avoid everything. Avoid deep conversations, that as it turns out could have been beneficial to me when I was too young to recognize that other children were getting maybe more information than I was. I had to figure it out on my own. Alone.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on you. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me and you were there and you did tell me things, but I’ve just blanked it from my memory. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I’m making out. Maybe I am the guilty one. The one who needed you too much, was too fragile and needy that I couldn’t cope without you and you just had too much other stuff to do, so your capacity was all you could give but mine was still too empty; because I was needing too much.

Or maybe you just weren’t there. And now, years later I tell you I’m in counselling for cocaine, ecstasy, and one night stands, and you tell me not to be too high maintenance or my new saviour boyfriend might grow tired of me.

A Letter to My Younger Self

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You’ll grow up in the bosom of your mum’s affection.

Enjoy it, it will be a secure attachment for the next 30 years and beyond.

Your Dad will change from a gentle giant to a demanding disciplinarian. He’ll make you work hard and will have a cruel streak. He’ll expect high standards and offer little praise.

Don’t fret. His behaviour is not to do with you, it’s to do with issues arising from his own childhood, far deeper than anything you’ll have to confront in your life. Soon, you’ll be bigger than him, physically and emotionally. He’ll become inconsequential and when the time is right you’ll cut him loose. There’ll be an unexpected bonus from your Dads ways. The working world will be easy. You’ll wonder how you can get paid for what is a fraction of the effort required to work with your Dad. This work ethic combined with your mum’s emotional intelligence will serve you well.

You’ll be soft and compassionate by nature, like your mum. This will make life at school difficult, particularly primary and early secondary school. You won’t understand aggression and will be forced to tolerate it, until you can figure out what to do about it. Your gentle nature will also make you sensitive to your Dads behaviour. It will cause you to over-invest in friends who won’t invest in you. It will cause you to treat women with tenderness and respect but they won’t always see the value in that until much later.

You don’t realise it now but this is your greatest strength. Later in life, it will enable you to form many a loving relationship, mentor people to great feats and be a leader in almost every domain of your life. You’ll come to realise that strong is sensitive. You’ll learn to spread your compassion a little more wisely. There is only so much to go around, so you’ll learn to protect yourself a little better. Your relationship with women will change. They will come to notice your strength and sensitivity. This brings responsibility. They will be drawn to you in a way you are not drawn to them, be gentle with their hearts because one day you’ll wish someone was more careful with yours.

You’ll love sport. Rugby, gaelic football but in particular soccer. You’ll be of average talent. You’ll lack the aggression required for rugby and the skills needed to guarantee your place on the soccer field. This will play on your mind. It will be added to by puberty. No matter how many sit ups you do in your bedroom you cannot fight biology and so, until you grow tall, you’ll remain chubby as your Dad will remind you. This uncertainty about your athletic identity will be compounded by a younger brother full of the talent and aggression required for sporting prowess.

Your early days on the sporting field will be difficult but your love of sport will sustain you for the rest of your days. You and your friends will follow your sports teams around the globe. You too will become an athlete. In the autumn of 2003, with your mum’s encouragement you’ll go for a run with an athletics club. The main thoughts occupying your mind will be ‘how to keep up and not be embarrassed’. What you don’t realise is that this will be the first day of the rest of your life. You’ll become an athlete in a sport where your work ethic is rewarded. You’ll suffer many injuries but your perseverance will pay off. You’ll meet a mentor, an older man, who will become one of your best friends. He will be the first man in your life to tell you that anything is possible. You’ll believe him and with every step you run your confidence will soar. You’ll make a career in sport and understanding all there is to know about it. At times you will feel as though you are living your dream – you are, well done my resilient friend, well done.

In your late teens and early twenties, you’ll still feel a little at odds with the world. You’ll struggle when not surrounded by your tribe of hard working athletic friends. Working abroad you’ll wonder why you don’t want to go the pub with everyone else, every weekend. You’ll wish you could fit in a bit better but at the same time you’ll always feel compelled to choose the alternative path of your interests.

You are right and they are lost. They appear certain by the strength of their numbers. In reality, they crave, at least subconsciously, your hobbies, interests and passions. These aspects of your life are what keep you physically and mentally sharp. It’s hard being the odd one out but on a Sunday morning, look at yourself and look at them. I know which one you and they would rather be. Hold tight, being the odd one out is what will make you a great leader. Remember, although you see things clearly, they cannot, so be gentle. Give more and expect less of them and your friends. They have not yet had your good fortune.

You, your mum and your brother will become the 3 best friends that anyone could ever have and by the way, eventually those sit-ups will give you a six pack.

Aren’t you the lucky one – enjoy the rest.

This article has been published as over five hundred words, only because the author is exceptional.

Absent Parenting

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How would you know that I hadn’t been well? How would you know I am good at what I do? How would you know what my drink of choice is? How would you know I love swimming in the sea? How would you know I don’t like sand? How would you know you don’t need to worry about bailing me out? How would you know how adventurous I am? How would you know I can stand up for myself if I need to? How would you know that I can read social cues and not force myself on people? How would you know that people actually want me around? How would you know that I am the happiest I have ever been? How would you know how low I was before? How would you know that I asked for guidance to let you go? How would you know that I was always convinced I wasn’t part of you? How would you know I’ve never felt loved by you? How would you know the hardest bits that I have endured? How would you know what a rainbow of people I have in my life? How would you know I am not embarrassed by the things you are? How would you know I was brave enough to make this move? How would you know that I had saved and planned hard for this chapter?

How would you know all of these things?

For you have never asked. You have never listened. You have never shown interest. You have never shown you care or made me feel loved.

My doubts are born from you, all my niggles and hang-ups are from your voice over my shoulder. I’ve been scared, I’ve skirted along the bottom, I’ve stared the worst in the face. Life is beautiful, exciting, challenging, terrifying, the biggest lesson of all – each and every day. But it has to be lived, because it is fleeting and can be over in a flash. It must be savoured and every day you must find joy in something – whether that is a nice chat, a free parking space or a new little flower in bloom. For you are missing out on all of this, so coiled you are in your worries, fears and judgements.

Please don’t bother trying now; what you have to offer isn’t what I need and what I needed from you once upon a time, I no longer need. You don’t have it, I found it elsewhere. The most wonderful bunch of humans I love dearly have each offered me a puzzle piece, which put together fills the void you should have once stood in. You have missed out on so much; I am pretty decent, yet you have always focused on my failings or the worse-case scenario. I am exhausted by you, by thinking about you; you drain the life out of me. I don’t want to see you. I wish you well, I want you to find your own happiness.