Perfect daughter – where are you?

While growing up, I tried very hard to be the perfect daughter.  I was polite, quiet, obedient, a good student, tidy, shy and seemingly happy.  This is the daughter my mother knows and loves.  She doesn’t know the daughter she is now faced with.  She doesn’t recognise the woman who can’t go outside unless it’s for work; the woman who will stand in the middle of the kitchen and start scratching her hand while staring into space; the woman who says that she can’t serve up dinner because the food has suddenly become dirty and disgusting; the woman who sits on the Internet until 2am because the idea of sleep is too scary for her and she needs the distraction.

This week, the mother has been faced more and more with the daughter she doesn’t know or recognise.  The session on Monday with Liz stirred up all sorts of issues internally and I’ve been struggling to cope with the reaction.  It got to the point on Tuesday night that there was going to be some fairly serious self-destructive behaviour occur if there wasn’t some intervention.  That intervention came in the form of someone coming forward to take photos.  They realised we were too unsafe to drive anywhere, so the usual routine of driving somewhere to take photos was out.  Instead they decided to use some props from around the house to see what they could do.  The mother could tell we weren’t well, so she ended up helping by having a look for different props to photograph and holding the torch we used as a light source.  This is one of the results…



Because the mother helped us with all of this, she could monitor us more closely.  She said that it wasn’t until after the photos had all been taken and we were putting them onto the computer for processing that we sort of “came back”.

Awhile ago, Sophie tried to apologise for the not being that perfect daughter the mother remembered.  The mother said that we were probably never that perfect daughter, but she didn’t see it.  She didn’t see what that perfection was hiding.  I think she really does want to help sometimes.  But her own dysfunctional thinking and lack of healing, mean that she will never really be able to help us.  I don’t resent her inability to help us, but I do wish that she would seriously look at her own need to heal.  She went to therapy for a couple of sessions, but then stopped as she thought it wasn’t going anywhere.

I’m aware this makes us sad or uncomfortable or something.  I’m not good at naming or understand emotions, but I noticed that the body was feeling very cold and I need to do up the jersey we wore to work.

Time to go back to being the perfect working daughter…

Now playing: U2 – Running to Stand Still
via FoxyTunes


6 thoughts on “Perfect daughter – where are you?

  1. The apple is truly amazingly lit. Excellent image.

    It seems as though you are doing a piece of work with your mother and that her being with you presents an opportunity to heal in a profound way. I wouldn’t take this too lightly, and it appears you are not. Her helping you was good for all of you, especially the parts of you who yearn to be helped and cared for and paid attention to.

    I think she needs to understand who you are now and what you struggle with. Maybe not everything, but at least that you do struggle… to be.


  2. Thank you Paul 🙂 It was our first attempt at trying to do a photo involving props of any sort.

    After reading your comment, it prompted some more reflection on what happened on Tuesday. Whomever was present treated the mother as an equal – we weren’t a scared little girl, angry teenager or hurt adult. This is closer in many ways to how we used to interact with the mother during our early 20’s.

    It was a positive experience in many ways. The mother saw us as we were – hurting and trying to find any way possible to cope with what we were facing. We didn’t feel the pain or anger towards her that I know some of us do hold. It was amazing that we could work with her in this peaceful way. We have been known to lash out when we are in as much distress as we were that night.

    Probably the biggest thing is that it showed that the mother knew something was going on with us that she didn’t know how to fix. She didn’t immediately tell us to have a pill or anything medical, but allowed us to try and work it through ourselves. In the past she would have told us to take a pill and asked when this was all going to be over.

    Take care,

  3. Wow wow wow…that Apple photograph is absolutely stunning!!

    It is also really nice that you and your mother were able to do this together..peacefully..It sounds like she is making an effort to understand you but at the same time, giving you the space you need to work it out in your own.

  4. It’s too bad that your mom won’t pursue her own therapy, but it does sound as though she is making an effort to understand and support, insofar as she can from where she is. And she was sufficiently atttuned to you to see when you “came back,” which is a pretty big thing … both to admit to herself that you were “gone,” and to be sensitive enough to notice the change. That took some courage on her part. I wish she had the courage to stay on her own journey.

    You have some amazing talent as a photographer … the apple is truly remarkable.

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