To my Daughter
You are nearly 16. You are angry. Sad. Vibrant. Infuriating. Selfish. Immature. Loved.
You are so loved.
This is hard for me to write as I don’t like you at all right now, or lately. I don’t think that you like you either.
You were such a beautiful baby. I know everyone says that about their baby, but you really were. Everyone commented on it. Dark eyes, dark hair, a wonky smile. You get your colouring from your Dad. Everyone says you look like him. But you don’t, not if you look past the dark hair and complexion, you look like me. You are part of me. An extension.
Life was hard at the beginning, it still is. Your dad was a bully. He abused me in many ways. I tried to protect you whilst still inside me when he threw a door at me because I was upset he had come in to where I was decorating your nursery, drunk, and got paint everywhere. I was just 18, he was 10 years older. He should have apologised and said he’d fix it. But he didn’t. He got mad and wanted to make me pay for ruining his intoxicated happy mood.
I left that time. But I went back. I went back after he threw me down the stairs saying he wanted me dead as you watched on at around a year old.
I went back after he blamed me for someone fighting him after he had abused me in the street and then came and pinned me down and rubbed his blood and snot from his bust nose in to my hair. I went back after he threw a glass at me in a pub and the police had to subdue him with tear gas and he blamed me for it all. I didn’t leave after my friend made a comment about you always hiding under the table when he came home, or when I had to run half naked to a house down the street to use the phone to ask my mum to come get us whilst your Uncle ran the other way with you. or when he impaled me on your Grandmas fence by pushing me whilst they watched and said I shouldn’t have antagonised him.
But then I did go. I took you and left. To protect us both. Except I didn’t. We lived away from him, but still spent time together. We went for a week to Blackpool and stayed in a B&B. He got drunk again and we spent one night cowering in the hallway of the B&B hoping that he wouldn’t come and find us. On the way home he asked me to marry him.
The day that he took you from me was when it changed. He strapped you in the car and then came back and strangled me, I managed to escape by headbutting him backwards as his head was so close to mine with his arm round my neck. He then fled with you. I rang the police but he brought you back not long after. It was then that I went to court to get a restraining order against him. His family blamed me. They said that he didn’t do any of the things that I said. He tried to have me charged for the head butt. The court believed me. I never once tried to prevent him from seeing you. I offered more than the court awarded. He declined and said he never knew when he would be working so could not have you on a weekend or over night. He didn’t want to give his drinking times up.
It didn’t matter. We were safe. I didn’t lay awake at night worrying that he would come in and be so drunk that he would urinate on me. That he would force himself upon me and get angry if I tried to stop him. I still worried about him though. He attracted trouble. I still cared. For your sake.
Fast forward many years. you have been through a lot. I wasn’t a brilliant mum back then. I had no support. You know yourself how your Grandma is. She doesn’t mean to be so self absorbed and weak but she is. I made many mistakes. But I always kept you safe. I would never let anyone hurt you. Remember the time I locked my boyfriend out of the caravan because he said you were a Devil child. He had a point. you were challenging. you spent most of your time with adults. Now you were older, you visited your dad more and spent most of it at the pub. You came home and spoke about who was shagging who and said you’d be rolling joints for your dad. You were 6! No matter what I said, your Dad and his family didn’t understand how wrong that was. How could I stop it? No matter what I said he didn’t stop. You got overweight. You drank so much coke at the pub. I fed you healthy food, encouraged exercise, educated you, and things improved because you learnt to say no to too many fizzy drinks. You asked to go to the park or swimming instead of the pub. It was a small improvement but it shouldn’t have been up to you. It should have been your parents both showing you how to look after yourself.
When you were 10, your Step Dad and I made the decision to move away as he was offered a job. It was such a hard decision to try and do the right thing for you. Of course it was made easier when your Dad assaulted your step Dad in front of you and your baby sister when we were dropping you off for a visit. Not provoked in any way, just a aggressive disgusting attack on a gentle man who was still strapped in to the car. You yourself was kicking your Dad trying to get him off him. It was weeks later that he scared you in the middle of a busy street. He grabbed your arms and was shouting in your face. You had already taken your friend to try and feel safe with him and that was the last straw, you said you never wanted to see him again. You stayed firm. Even after we moved, I begged you to see him or your Grandparents, but you refused, was too scared. In court the Judge told him that no matter what they did, nobody could force an 11 year old girl to see him and he would be best if he wrote you letters, pictures and spoke to you on the phone to try and forge a relationship and that you would hopefully one day feel brave enough to see him again. He relented. I felt for him. He must have been devastated, but what could I do, how much more could I try and do for this man.
After a year or so, you did start seeing them again but it was strained with your Dad. He was confused the first time he saw you again. Walked past you as you looked more like a woman than a girl.
You had been unhappy where we had moved to, the culture was different and you struggled. Often getting in trouble at school, with peers, even having grown men threaten you after you had upset their child. The stress for me too, was unreal. I was pregnant with your brother and trying to settle into this new life with your Step Dad working away a lot, it was hard. I worried I’d made a terrible mistake.
We decided we should move nearer back home, where it was more affordable to live. you spent more time with your Dad and his family then and you were happier. School was so much like where you had ‘come from’ and you settled well. I was so pleased and relieved for you.
You were still a teenager though. Lying, drinking, smoking, having sex. We argued often. I was tearing my hair out. We physically fought. You rang your Dad or Grandma begging for them to come and get you. They said they would. But they never did. Why is that? Did you change your mind or did they tell you to wait until you’d calmed down and then decide? We all know when you calmed down, you wanted to be here, with me and your siblings.
I rang Social Services myself, asked for help from them. I was borderline suicidal. This was down to various things, but a lot to do with your behaviour. I tried not to show you this, to protect you from knowing what you were doing to me but even when I blurted out that you were killing me, you wasn’t probably think I just said it. But it was true.
Then, it felt like we turned a corner, we had a good talk, came up with a plan and..your Dad died.
Your Grandma rang you and screamed it down the phone, you collapsed in a heap screaming. I had your tiny brother in my arms and I had to go and put him somewhere safe and let him cry also so I could hold you. You were distraught. Of course. How could anything be worse than losing a parent as a child? Nothing I am sure.
I tried to help over the following months. Being supportive and letting things go that I really shouldn’t have. But I wont lie, it stung when you put things on Facebook like he was the’Best Daddy in the world’ and ‘The only man for me’. He wasn’t. He was a thug. Yes he loved you I am sure, but not as much as he loved his drugs, or his friends, or HIMSELF. I love you. I do everything I can to help you. I lay awake crying over you. I know you’re sad and angry, so am I! I don’t want to see my baby girl so sad. But, you are not helping yourself. You are romanticising as most teenagers would as the drama is what keeps you going.You behave badly, and although you don’t say it, you have the expectation that you will get away with it because you are grieving, and you’re right, you do, but is it right that that is the case? I am here RIGHT NOW, like I have been every minute of your life and you are push push pushing me. For what? I don’t know. I don’t think you even know.
And this is the vein of our relationship now. You push me, you hate me, your lack of respect for everyone but especially me is heartbreaking. We’re at Stalemate. The amount of support you’re getting from school is excessive. I too, am getting support for the first time ever and it has made me realise I am a better parent than I thought, but also continue to make mistakes daily. I’m working on them. You say I treat your siblings differently. Not really, I have learnt to parent more effectively over the years and I now apply it age appropriately. YOU helped me learn that. Which is good, we have been on this journey together. Please don’t think that I love them any more than I love you. That is simply not true. You have been my world for a lot longer than they have.
I wrote this letter as I have gone past the end of no return and I think I want you to do as you keep threatening and leave to live with your grandparents. You are making my life so miserable that some day’s I feel unable to go on. How much more can I take from you? Right now I feel you are a very lucky girl. You have a safe stable home with your own room and bathroom(!) You have a massive support network and you are loved by many, but you’re on the self destruction route. You’re letting the notion that you will continue getting by on people feeling sorry for you carry you through, but it wont last much longer and then what? What path are you going to take? I can’t do any more than I have been doing. Providing you with a life of boundaries, I know you think I am strict but I’m not really, you just haven’t learnt how to work the boundaries. How to work hard and be rewarded for it, you have no concept of the idea and I don’t know why. You have seen a way of life with your Dads family and the culture in that very town and you want it. It is full of drama. It is also full of drugs, unemployed and crime. I can’t stop you choosing that life. I give you everything I can, make everything that I can available to you to make the right choices, but ultimately, it is you. YOU have to make the decision. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, it wont. you will make mistakes, but please, PLEASE try. Don’t make everything that we have already been through be in vain.
I don’t know what will happen these next few months with us. I do know that one day, you will come to me and say sorry, for everything you’ve put me through. I know you will. and I, my beautiful child, I am sorry, for not doing better. I am trying now, I didn’t think I was, I thought I had given up on you, on us, but writing this letter, I realise that I never will. I may let go a little, let you make the mistakes that I am trying to protect you from, but I will NEVER stop trying to be a good mum to you.
I love you.