Just Like Me

“Remember she may share very similar traits with you, but she is not you.”

Told by a friend, these words moved me unexpectedly physically as it did emotionally. I felt the muscles in my shoulders stiffen immediately and defensively, my throat narrow as I tried to swallow the emotions that were arising within me. It was denial at first, then guilt. My vision blurred as my eyes felt damp. I allowed myself to take a deep conscious breath. I nodded and lowered my face. I felt ashamed.

Struggling to process these feelings alongside an assault of images like a flashback scene in a movie. How did she know? Why did she say that? What does this mean? What can I do differently? What have I done? I am so sorry. I feel awful. I feel sad. I feel like I’ve failed. I should change. I want to change. I want to be more aware. I need to be. I need to keep myself in check. I will start today. I am sorry, I did not realise. How could I not have realised?

It felt like exhausting hours passing in mere minutes. I was relieved to be interrupted hearing her reassuring words “It’s ok. She’s fine. And you will be too.” She smiled and I absorbed the kindness in her eyes. I welcomed another deep breath.

I could hear voices entering my head again. The chatter of self-disappointment, berating commentary. I straightened my slumped posture and energetically pushed the negativity aside. I opened my eyes with a new resolve, strengthened by trust. Encouraged by my friend’s courage to be honest with me. My dear friend was a messenger, a reminder that struck me hard.

This aspect of my relationship with my daughter continues to be one of my constant challenges. I instinctively make assumptions about my child’s actions, reactions, motivations and intentions. I assume she knows certain things. I do not always take the time to labour my explanations. Perhaps, I even speak to her the least. I dare not calculate. I cut her off when she starts her sentences or wants to explain how she feels with a dismissive comment that implies “I know.” I expect a lot from her. As I do of myself.

I drive her hard without always compensating with softness. I get annoyed when she displays certain traits, because it reminds me of the parts of me I struggle to accept.

While she bears the curse of being most like me, my inspiration is to set her free.