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One picture is worth a thousand words (and feelings)

So today my dad sent me a picture of my real mum, and for those of you that don’t already know because you haven’t had a conversation with me while I’m drunk (sigh), I don’t have a relationship with her and haven’t for years. Her and my dad were so young when they had me and my brother, still teenagers, which is crazy to think about now because I am 25 and the thought of having kids anytime soon sends a shiver down my spine (for obvious MS reasons).

Anyway, I’m not too sure what happened along the way but my mum became a big drinker, which caused a lot of problems and eventually led my dad to getting full custody of me and my brother when he was in his early twenties, I was 4 and my brother was 6.

She was in and out of our lives for a good few years until we moved to Cumbria when I was 9 and it was at this point that I started to realise I would probably never have the mother/daughter relationship that I have always craved. The kind of relationships you see on films when the daughter is all grown up and goes to her mum’s house for a gossip and a glass of wine, or when the daughter is a teenager and tells her mum about the person she likes. Or even the arguments that would inevitably happen when I became a very dramatic teenager.

I think one of the hardest things growing up without a mum and still is now, is visiting my friend's families and seeing the relationship that they have with their mothers; it has always made me feel a bit lost and kind of unsure of myself because it's something I have never had even though it is such a normal thing.

I do remember reading a book and finding a little paragraph that described perfectly what I had been struggling to explain for so many years:

"The loss of my mother was to me a palpable but different kind of pain. My version of grief of was a locked box, a house to which I did not have a key, a place on a map I could not pronounce. One day it might be revealed to me, and duly overwhelm me, but I never told anyone about this fear. I didn't have a mum, and I'd never had her, so how could I miss something I'd never really lost?"

Over the years I would notice that I would be compared to my mum a lot because in looks there is not much difference and seeing that picture today made me realise that after years of trying to deny it. I would be so offended when people compared me to her because I believed that I was being compared to who she is as a person, to the person made the wrong choice, to the person who left me and my brother motherless. I think it was one of the biggest causes for a lot of my mental health issues, and also issues with how I looked; for years I would just want to be told that I looked like my dad, that I looked like my brother or my auntie, basically anyone but my mum. I would chop my hair off, I would dye my hair every colour of the rainbow which is obviously very normal as a teenager, but a big part of me did it because I was afraid of being compared to someone that I didn't know. But the picture I seen today made me smile because I seen a version of my mum that I had long forgotten; beautiful, young, happy (I think), and having a good time with her friends. I finally seen myself when I seen her and I was fine with that. It made me realise that people probably aren't comparing my personality or my choices, they are simply just saying "bloody hell you don't half look like her," or something along them lines.

Anyway, growing up without a mum was not always bad AT ALL. I got brought up by my wonderful dad, when he was pretty much still a kid, and it was fun to grow up with him. It wasn't always easy, but I will always be grateful, because I know so many people that don't get to have that privilege. As well as that, I have been lucky enough to have my lovely stepmother, who I look up to so much and always will. Also a big shout out to my boyfriend's mum, who has well and truly taken me under her wing and treats me as if I am one of her own.

A part of me will always wonder what could have been, and even feel resentful, but for now it feels nice to have had a moment of clarity with it all. This post was absolutely not to gain sympathy or to throw my own pity party, this is me having a 'aha' moment and finally being happy in myself enough to put it into words. It also feels nice to have something other than MS to write about, which is ironic.

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