Little Girl Lost

Posted: August 24, 2013 in Personal
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I was in an audition once.

The guy auditioning me told me, “I want you to think of something that upsets you. Can you cry?”

What the fuck? I thought. Who cries on demand?

I pursed my mouth and dug deep. I thought of my first love and the broken pieces he left me. I thought of the rest that came after him, disappointment after disappointment. I thought of abused animals. The pets I’d loved dearly that had gone.

All I could muster was a grimace in the attempt to look devastated.

“Think of the worst moment in your life. Someone. Something. Take your time.”

Then I thought of you. And I burst into tears.


I was always closer to Dad. I was, and still am, a Daddy’s Girl. I talk to him about anything and everything. He’s always encouraged me and believed in me. He’s never said no – only equipped me with all the information he could and trusted me to make the right choices. He let me go every single time, and he did so because we both knew that he’d be right where I needed him at any moment in time.

On the other hand, I have a much more complicated relationship with you. You nag; rant; smother; say no; and have different opinions from mine almost all the time. I get easily frustrated and more than a little impatient with you, no matter how many times I tell myself I will be a better daughter.

But at the root of it all is the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter; and the older I get, the better I can grasp and understand the thick threads that are interwoven to form the strongest tie. As years go by, I realize I’m a lot more like you than I ever thought was possible.

So, why would I cry thinking of you?

Because you’re not happy.

Sure, you’re happy with Dad. You’ve got me, you’ve got the whole family. But on some fundamental level you’re so unhappy that sometimes, you can barely function. I don’t know what it is. To write it off as schizophrenia seems so shallow, so cruel. As if I could categorize and package you, and then put it aside.

I can’t. I’ve spent years of my life trying to understand you, and I don’t think I’m any closer than I was at eight years old; wide eyed and cowering in my room as I heard things get smashed. Time after time I would witness it escalating from your normal hot tempered rage to something that I couldn’t begin to comprehend. I would hear the thuds as you struggled to lash out and Dad would do his best to restrain or calm you down. I’d lie in bed with the pillows covering my ears in an attempt to dull the sounds as you screamed obscenities. I’d see marks the next day – on both of you. Scratches. Bruises.

Do you remember this one time, you were holding a butcher knife as you stood in my doorway and screamed that you saw the devil in my eyes? I was eleven then. I wasn’t sure if the knife was for me, or for yourself. The intent was lost in the ensuing chaos as Dad hurled himself at you to try and yank it away.

Six years of my life was spent on the seaside, with no one else for company (save the infrequent visits from the family and certain family friends). All I had were days and days – roughly 2,190 days – of you and him; of seasons changing; of kerosene lamps and centipede bites; of book after book after book and repeat; of imagination to escape the deathly dullness of loneliness; of dreams, fantasies, and hopes and a deep set desperation that my life was going nowhere.

When I ran away from home at fifteen, I tried to leave you behind. Was it a year? Yes, probably around a year, where I refused to speak to you or even acknowledge any sort of emotion concerning you. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been for you. I’m sorry.

I thought I’d left everything behind. I’d started a life – challenging myself to live normally after living a completely different way of life – and took destiny into my own hands. We’d come to a mutual understanding (or so I thought). You live your life and I live mine, and we’d try to fit in to each other the rare times I would visit.

It was December, 2011. The usual Christmas/New Year in Langkawi. Your behaviour had been growing erratic. I think you drank too much that night. I lay in the hammock with D and cried into his chest as I heard chairs being thrown and shrieks emanating from inside.

You ran to the other house, screaming at Dad not to follow you, and locked the door. D went to talk to Dad and have a smoke. I knocked on the door and called out to be let in. You let me in.

You sat on the chair and told me things. Some of it didn’t make sense. I stood beside you and hugged you as you sobbed. Your tears were warm and sticky on my neck. Your frail body heaved with heavy gasps as you wailed your terror and misery. I looked into your eyes and I cried with you because all I saw in them was this feeling of being trapped. Your eyes beseeched me. You were lost.

That was the last time I witnessed that. I don’t know if it happens when I’m not around. Sometimes Dad tells me you’re not so well. Other times it’s the other way around.

I try to understand. When I can’t understand, I try to simply accept. I would give anything to make you feel peace again, if you ever felt it at all.

I just want you to be happy.


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