Mum always used to cook a roast dinner on a Sunday. Every week she would passively-aggressively slam cupboards, pans, plates and knives down rather than say she’d like help or she didn’t want to cook the dinner. One Sunday she did actually complain. She ranted about how she does everything while we all sit around doing nothing, that she’s nothing but a dogsbody and that it wouldn’t hurt us to do something to help once in a while so when Mum went in the bathroom for a shower I peeled and cut up the potatoes. Mum came out, walked over to where I was, picked up the potatoes, told me I’d cut them too small then said, “I wish you wouldn’t interfere, now you’ve done them all wrong and I’m going to have to do them again.”  I felt as though whatever I did wasn’t good enough. All I’d wanted to do was help.

When I had Josh, I was making his bottles one night before bed. Mum came in the kitchen in a bad mood, started the cupboard/cutlery slamming routine again, which was par for the course, looked at what I was doing and said, “You’re doing it all wrong, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ve only got one baby and you think you know it all. I’ve had 4, I know better than you.”

I was ironing when I accidentally dropped the iron, breaking it. Mum went berserk, screaming and shouting at me, telling me I was useless and to leave all her stuff alone.

Only about 18 months ago Mum was around my house, Annie wanted to play a game with her which Mum did begrudgingly. They went off to play hide and seek. Annie came in a few minutes later crying saying Mum had scratched her face. I cuddled her and reassured her that Mum wouldn’t have meant to do it and it would have been an accident. Mum came in and asked what was wrong, Annie told her. Instead of Mum just saying sorry and comforting Annie she instead started to have a go at her and defending herself by saying she hadn’t touched her and that Annie was lying. It was more than a little strange.

When I was 15 or 16 I accidentally dropped half a can of tomato soup on the kitchen floor. We had carpet tiles in the kitchen and I knew Mum would go mental at me for it. In a panic, I rang my boyfriend’s mum up in floods of tears crying that I needed her to help me. She told me what to do to clean it up and I spent ages scrubbing the floor over and over until every single trace of it was gone because I knew if I didn’t, Mum would go absolutely mental at me.

When I was pregnant with Josh, Danny and I discussed the birth and decided that we wanted it to be just the two of us there. We told Mum, who was going to be driving us to the hospital that while we appreciated her giving us a lift, we’d like her to go home and we’d call her either if we needed her or when the baby was born. When I went into labour, Mum drove us to the hospital then refused to leave. When I told the midwife we didn’t want her in the room Mum insisted and refused to go using my age as an excuse. Mum ended up being there for the whole of the birth which Danny and I absolutely hated especially when at the worst point of pain, Mum ‘comforted’ me by saying, “I which there was something I could do, Sasha.” She couldn’t even get my name right and made some lame excuse about it usually being Sasha that she’s there for.

Mum would always go up to Sasha and Izzy’s room at night after they were asleep to tuck them in and give them a kiss. Sometimes I would creep out of my room and spy on her through the door, pretending I was going to the bathroom. Sometimes I would leave my light on and my door ajar hoping she’d come in to me, she never did.

When I started my periods I would sometimes leak in my knickers. I was far too embarrassed to put them in the wash or tell Mum I’d had an accident so I started hiding them in my cupboard underneath a pile of jumpers. One day I came home from school, Dad asked if he could talk to me and Millie. We went into my bedroom and Dad said that Mum had been in our rooms earlier and found our hidden knickers (it turns out Millie was doing exactly the same as me) and that it was normal, that we don’t need to be embarrassed and to just put them in the wash in future. I went downstairs a little later with my knickers and other washing and put it in the wash basket. Mum came in, gave me a filthy look and started telling me I was disgusting and dirty. I felt embarrassed and deeply ashamed.

Mum went through all my stuff in my room, found my diary and read it. She then severaly told me off for the things I’d written in there about her saying it was all lies.

Mum was always in a really bad mood, always moaning at us for something. The atmosphere in the house was one of oppression all of the time, every minute of every day, at least until the someone knocked on the door. Mum would run, not walk, to the door (which I always found odd and embarrassing) would open it and a huge beaming smile would be on her face. Most of the time it would be the Avon Lady or Jehovah Witnesses. Mum would put on a huge act of being happy and lovely. I remember the Avon lady commenting on what a lovely person mum was and how lucky I was to have a mum like her. I just thought mum was the biggest fake and that no-one knew what she was really like. Especially as the second the door was shut, she’s go straight back to being vile to us.

When Millie was about 13 she started her periods, with it came moodswings where her and Mum would get into big arguments. It happened once at Nan’s house and Millie called Mum a fucking bitch. Nan, who we never ever swore in front of, ganged up on Millie, taking Mum’s side totally. Millie was sat on Nan’s stairs crying after receiving a slap round the face from Mum. I was in the hallway with Millie, trying to comfort her when Nan came out having a go at her. I tried to tell Nan (who I loved more than anyone, we were so close and she meant everything to me) what Mum was really like and Nan turned on me telling me that Mum I was wrong, that Mum was lovely to us, that she did everything for us, that we were ungrateful and horrible for thinking that way about Mum. My heart broke at that moment more than any time Mum had ever done anything to me.

Mum was stood talking to the lollipop lady outside school when I was about 10. I don’t remember the conversation but it became relevant, I felt, to know the lollipop lady’s age so I asked her. Mum scolded me severely for that, telling me I was rude. I felt embarrassed and ashamed and could never look the lollipop lady in the eye again.

I was watching a comedian on telly when I was about 13/14 and I was laughing hysterically. Mum came in the room, arms folded, the usual miserable look on her face. She watched for a few seconds then said he was rubbish and not funny. When I said that I thought he was really funny she gave me a dirty look, told me more clearly that he wasn’t funny at all and that I was wrong. I felt as though I wasn’t allowed to have my own opinions and realised then that this wasn’t the first time I’d been denied my own opinion on matters. It was Mum’s way or no way.

After school when I was 13 and Millie 15, we went to the train station to catch our train home. There was a new guard at the station and for some reason, Millie got into an argument with him. He grabbed Millie, pulled them both into his office and locked her with him. I stood outside banging on the window, hysterical and petrified that he was going to hurt her. I couldn’t get in to help her and felt powerless especially when I saw him trying to kiss her and grope her. In the end, he let her out when Millie punched him, but we’d missed our train. We phoned Mum who sent Dad to come and get us. When we got home we told Mum and Dad what happened but nothing ever got discussed or done about it because Mum stopped us to tell us that our Auntie had died that afternoon. While I felt that my aunt’s death was important and devastating I also felt totally let down that the trauma that Millie and I had just been through got ignored and totally forgotten.

Nan had a neighbour who played the violin. As I’d expressed an interest in learning, Nan arranged for her neighbour to give me some lessons. Every Saturday afternoon I would go round to his house. He was an adorable little old man in his 70s who had served in the marines and played the violin all his life. He was the sweetest man I’d ever known and I quickly fell in love with him and he with me in a grandfather/granddaughter kind of way. He admitted to loving me as much as his grandchildren and I felt the same way about him. I adored our time together and even though my interest in learning the violin ended as quickly as it started I still carried on so that I could keep seeing him every week. Even though I was between the ages of 12 and 15 I’d choose to spend my Saturday afternoons with him rather than with my friends. After our lessons, we always would sit and talk and he’d hug me and give me a kiss on the cheek goodbye. He’d sometimes shed a tear about something because I think the bond we had was so strong that he felt he could. I cannot express how much I loved him, he meant everything to me. Our ‘lessons’ went on for almost 3 years until he became ill and eventually bedridden with Emphysema. I visited less and less and felt guilty for doing so but I’d become interested in boys and was putting them first. The last time I saw him, he was lying in bed with a plate of food next to him. I sat in a chair next to his bed, his wife fussing at his side and complaining about him not eating. She left the room so we could have some time alone. He said to me that you should never eat because it’s ‘time’ but you should eat when you’re hungry. He said you should always listen to your body. I never forgot that advice. I knew he was dying and it hurt me so much to see him getting weaker each time I saw him. One evening I went out with my boyfriend at the time, getting home at about 9pm. I went into the living room and sat talking to Mum. I remember it all feeling really normal, she seemed slightly happier and more relaxed than normal and we chatted a bit about my evening and what was on the telly. There was a distinct lack of her moaning for a change. After about an hour of chatting, I got up saying I was tired and going to bed. As I walked out of the door she said in a cheery tone, “Oh, by the way, your violin teacher died tonight. Goodnight.”  She said nothing further and made no attempt to comfort me, she just went back to watching the telly. I was equally heartbroken about both about his death and her unkindness towards me.

I went to my violin teacher’s funeral. My Dad and Granddad attended. Nan didn’t go as she’d stayed home to care for my Auntie who had Downs Syndrome and Mum didn’t go but I don’t know why. It made more sense for Mum to go instead of Dad as Dad barely knew him whereas Mum had met him, spoke to him and seen him in the garden most weekends. We stood outside the crematorium when the hearse pulled up with his coffin inside. I suddenly broke down, something I had never done in front of anyone before. Dad put his arm around me and hugged me. It was the first time I could ever remember being held by an adult apart from my violin teacher and I cried even harder because of it although I also felt embarrassed and awkward. 

I started smoking when I was about 14. I’d reached the point of realising that no matter what I did Mum and Dad weren’t going to do anything about it so I may as well do what I wanted. This was proved to me when I told Mum that I’d run out of fags and asked if could she get me some. She did. It made me realise how little she cared.

One afternoon during the summer holidays, Mum and Millie got into a big argument. It escalated until Mum told Millie to go to her room. Somehow the pair of them ended up both going up the stairs. I was stood at the top of the stairs when their argument became physical. I don’t remember who hit who first, both claim the other did but I do remember seeing Mum punch Millie in the face. They just kept hitting each other and no matter how much I screamed at them to stop they wouldn’t. In the end, I ran past them to get to the phone and I rang Dad, told him that Mum and Millie were fighting and to come home. Dad came home, split them up said something about Mum being a silly cow. He totally took Millie’s side which strangely wasn’t ok with me, I wanted him to be impartial. Mum then turned on me and said I should keep my nose out and stop interfering and she wouldn’t speak to me or look at me after that because apparently, I’d made things worse.

When I was 14/15 we noticed that my back was starting to curve slightly. The doctor referred me to a back specialist at the hospital. Mum and I went along to the appointment. When it was my turn Mum said she’d wait outside. I went in, spoke to the doctor and then he told me I’d have to wear a brace to keep my back straight and that he needed to examine me so he could fit it. He ran his hands down my back and over my bum and told me I had the perfect body and that I had a ballerina’s bum. He then asked me to lay on the bed with my top off. I didn’t feel right and I wanted mum. The doctor said he would get her in a minute then he ran his hands up my body, cupped my breasts and fondled them. When I asked him why he was doing that he said that he needed to check their size to see if they were likely to grow anymore as it would affect the brace. I felt sick and scared. At that point he let me get up, dressed and called mum into the office. She didn’t seem to notice the fear or upset on my face, I was almost in tears. When we got out I told her what had happened but she said and did nothing at all. Last year, after seeing a new article about the same doctor being charged for similar offences on many other girls, I was telling my Dad about it, he became really angry and said that he never even knew about it. Mum had never even mentioned it to him and he said had he known, something would have been done. What kind of mum ignores that her teenage daughter has been sexually assaulted?

Every Saturday we went to my Nan’s. We’d arrive at about lunchtime and stay till about 9pm. Every single week while driving home Mum would get angrier and angrier with us for our noise or for being silly. Every single time she would threaten us with pulling the car over and hitting us. She never did it. Eventually, we learnt to just laugh at her behind her back. She’d become nothing but a pathetic moaning bitch to us.

Mum would take us to the shop after school sometimes so she could pay the paper bill. She would flirt outrageously with the shop owner even when his wife was nearby. It was embarrassing to witness and made me very uncomfortable. She always wore tops that were tight so her breasts were on full view and she’d laugh too much and just be really cringy.  A couple of years later she started flirting with the post office owner, by the time I was becoming sexually aware I also became aware that Mum flirted with almost every man she encountered. I hated it especially when she’d stand there slagging off my Dad, then she’d go home to Dad and treat him like shit.

Mum never once had a good word to say about Dad. I have never heard her say one positive thing about him. She has called him a pervert, a thief, dishonest, a liar, a cheat, a bastard, a wife beater. She has told me a story many times about the time Dad supposedly strangled her and he only stopped because I was screaming at him. I don’t know if this is true, I have no memory of it.

Mum would often hold a carving knife up and point it towards Dad and tell him that if he ever did anything to her she wouldn’t think twice about stabbing him. She said she was prepared to go to prison forever if necessary.

One Sunday Mum and Dad had a huge row, bigger than usual which is saying something. Mum walked out with no word to anyone as to where she was going. It got later and later and we didn’t have a clue where she was or if she was coming back. I remember feeling really scared and abandoned and thinking that if Mum loved me she wouldn’t have just left me. Mum was gone for almost a week without a single word until Dad tracked her down in 200 miles away where she was staying with an aunt. Mum retells the story that he told her to be home by 6pm or else! She reckons she drove at 120 mph all the way home to make sure she was home at the time Dad said. I don’t know how this was true. Why would she leave for a week then come back when he demanded it if things were that bad and if they were that bad, why did she leave us and how come none of us found Dad that bad?

If a program came on the telly that even hinted at sex or nudity she would turn it off straight away and declare Dad a pervert for watching it. I always looked forward to Thursdays when Mum would be out shopping so that I could watch Top of the Pops and Benny Hill (banned when Mum was home because of the women dressed like tarts). If she’d have known I’d watched them she’d have gone mad.

Mum would always go through the newspapers before we got home and draw clothes on anybody that wasn’t dressed fully. In summer, when half-naked women were photographed and in the paper she’d go through the paper drawing like a lunatic or she’d throw the paper away.

Mum got on with the neighbours most of the time but when one neighbour appeared in the garden in a bikini top and shorts, Mum started calling her a tart. She’d stand in the garden commenting loudly about what a tart she was. The woman in question was so far removed from being a tart it was unreal. After that, I noticed that any woman that was pretty, dressed nicely or showed ‘too much flesh’ was branded a tart or a slut by Mum. She hated any woman that wasn’t frumpy or older than her and would not be friends with anyone that she clearly felt threatened by. Mum had one friend who was very frumpy and unattractive.

My cousin died 5 years ago aged just 30 years old. He had cancer and so despite the fact, Mum hated George’ Dad, her brother John, she insisted on going to the hospice to see George in his final days, intruding on George and John’s last moments together. I was told later by my other cousins that John had been crying and rather than comfort him, Mum had said to him, “What are you crying for? You’ll get over it in a few months.”  I always knew she was callous but this was low even for her standards. I’ve never felt more disgusted with her.

My Nan died of cancer in 1998. On the day she died, I got a call to say she probably only had a day or so to live so I raced to the hospice to see her one last time. No-one else was there. Mum had gone home to have a shower and eat and then she was going to stay with Nan until the end. As I sat with Nan telling her I loved her, she died. The hospice rang Mum to tell her. She came rushing in, questioned me angrily about why I was there and why I’d been there and then said, “It should have been me with her, not you.” and she wouldn’t speak to me after that. I understood that she was hurting but she couldn’t understand that surely it was better for Nan to have been with someone who loved her rather than to have been alone as she died.

I left home at 18 but I used to visit every Wednesday night. One night I went round to Mum’s and Uncle John was round. John, Izzy, Mum and Sasha were stood in the kitchen. John and Izzy were arguing. John was probably  in his late 40s and Izzy was 14/15. I don’t know what they were arguing about but I remember John calling Izzy horrible names, telling her she was vile. It was getting really heated and Mum was just stood back, away from them watching, saying and doing nothing. John then rolled up his sleeves, took his glasses off and raised his fist to punch Izzy. At that moment I grabbed John and pushed him across the kitchen away from Izzy, shouting at him to get away from her. Mum then jumped in but instead of jumping in on John, she turned on me! She shouted at me for interfering and told me I need to learn to keep my nose out. I shouted back that Izzy was about to get hit and asked why was she stood doing nothing to stop it. She said she wanted to see how far John was prepared to go. She was angry with me for weeks after all because I’d interfered.

I left home at 18 with a 9 month old baby, no money, no possessions and no wisdom or knowledge about how to survive in the world. I couldn’t even cook a single thing. I had to buy a book called ‘How to boil an egg’ and I learnt how to cook every single basic thing from that book. I moved in with Millie for 3 months before getting my own flat with Danny but the day after we moved into our flat together, he cheated on me and left the next day. Mum never came around, she never asked if I wanted to move back home, she didn’t ever really ring to see how I was. She left me to learn to cope with a baby, becoming an adult, being responsible for a flat, bills, everything and having a broken heart without a word of concern really ever being expressed. Occasionally she would comment on how unfair my life was but that was it. Never any offers of support. In fact, every weekend she’d drop Izzy and Sasha off to mine so she could have time to herself.

In all the years that I’ve had children, she has never once gone out of her way to help me. She never offers me any help, she has never spent any quality time with the kids and she has never had them over to sleep. Dad has but she sees it that she’s had her kids, done her time and so she doesn’t have to. She does have Sasha’s kids over to stay regularly though. Once I asked her to look after Alice when Katie needed an operation. This was in 2003. Alice went to Mum’s for the day and I was going to pick her up after the op but then Katie had a slight complication and wasn’t allowed home. We ended up staying the night at the hospital so Mum had to keep hold of Alice. Instead of giving Alice a bed, or the sofa or pulling out the sofa bed, she made Alice sleep on the floor in the hallway with a couple of cushions and a blanket. Alice was 5, had never stayed there before, was scared and missing me and was left alone in a cold, dark hallway. Alice still comments on this occasionally.

My whole life all I can remember Mum saying about her brother John was that he was a pervert, she also used to say the same about Granddad and yet when we were little she would allow Granddad to come and collect Milllie and me, walk to the bus stop and take the bus home back to Nan and Granddad’s house. As I got older I started to question why she would do that if she thought Granddad was so bad. She never once had a good word to say about him and towards the end of her sister’s life, she even accused him of raping her sister and breaking her hips. I felt as though I couldn’t have the relationship I wanted with my Granddad because my Mum always disapproved.

After I had Josh and Danny was living with us, Mum said I had to do all our own washing which was fine, I was happy to. I’d save up the washing and always wait until Mum had finished with the machine rather than upset her. One Friday I waited all day and Mum knew I was waiting and needing to wash clothes but every time I thought she was finished she’d suddenly find more stuff she needed to wash. Eventually at about 9pm, Mum sat in the lounge, put on the telly and got comfy so I gathered up all my washing and put it in the machine. As soon as I did, Mum appeared in the kitchen and said I had to take it out as she was about to do some washing and that I was always taking over and in her way. I said I’d been waiting all day and that I thought she was finished. We had an argument and she pulled my stuff out of the machine and put more of hers in. The next day Mum went to Nan’s, Dad came home from work and said he needed to talk to me. He said that he felt it would be better if I, Josh and Danny moved out as it wasn’t working out with Mum. I asked when he wanted me to go, he said I should go immediately. I grabbed as much stuff as I could fit on to Josh’s pram and left. I walked to the phone box, rang Danny in tears to tell him and then walked an hour to Danny’s Dad’s house to ask if we could stay there. That night Mum turned up at the door crying and begging me to come back. She said Dad had no right to do that and that if anyone was leaving it was going to be him and not me. I’d never seen my mum cry over me and never thought for a second she’d defend me but there she was more upset than I’d ever seen her. I tried to talk to her about various things, such as the washing machine incident for example but she denied it all happened the way I said it did. We went back the next day and Dad left soon after. 

I had an ingrowing toenail. The doctor treated it with a minor operation and then advised Mum to cut my nails at an angle from then on, forming a triangular-shaped nail. Mum told Dad. Dad took a really sharp pair of scissors and instead of cutting as instructed he cut down the side of my nail, along my skin taking the nail off its bed. I was screaming and crying in pain but Dad wouldn’t stop. He was shouting at me to keep still. Mum came into the room and told him to stop. I don’t remember her commenting on the pain he was causing me but I do remember her shouting at him about not listening to her ‘as usual.’ That seemed to be the thing she was bothered about most. I don’t remember either of them comforting me afterwards. I do remember going up to my room, holding my toe and crying with the pain for hours afterwards.

I had a virus of some kind when I was about 11. I was very poorly, hallucinating,  being sick, unable to walk, I was weak and felt the worst I’d ever felt.  When Mum discovered a rash all over my body and a strong aversion to the lights she phoned the doctors who said there was a chance it could be meningitis and to bring me straight in. I could barely walk to the car so Mum helped. She put me in the front seat, strapped me in and my head flopped to the side facing Mum’s side. Mum got in the car and said, “What’s that smell?” Then turned to me and said, “Urgh it’s your breath, you stink. Did you clean your teeth?” Despite feeling like I was at death’s door I still managed to feel deeply embarrassed. I turned my head away and tried my hardest not to breath through my mouth again.  The doctor decided it was a virus and sent us home with strict instructions for Mum to keep a close eye on me and take me straight back in if things got any worse. We got home, I laid on the sofa for 3 days drifting in and out of sleep but every time I woke, Mum wasn’t there. I could hear her in the kitchen doing stuff but she was never with me. I do remember my sisters sitting with me though and my Dad being there now and then. I remember Mum putting her head round the door once. I appreciate she may have been there when I was out of it but I wanted her there, holding me and reassuring me the whole time. I was really scared, I’d lost my voice, I was too weak to walk and I couldn’t even take myself to the toilet. Each time I needed it I had to wait until someone came back in the room to ask for someone to take me. All I wanted was for Mum to put my needs first and not the housework or whatever it was she was doing instead of making sure I was okay.

We moved house when I was 8. The house my parents bought was old and in much need of repair and renovation. We’d all talked excitedly about how we’d decorate our rooms. We were moving from a small house to one that was really big and meant we’d all have our own rooms for the first time. I remember clearly the day we moved. We’d all been sent to Nan’s for the day, we were so excited that that night we’d be sleeping in the new house for the first time. Mum and Dad came and picked us up late at night. It was dark, I was really tired but I was still managing to keep going because of the excitement. I walked into our new house, it was beautiful. Dad had worked hard to get the kitchen, bathroom and living room habitable and I remember stepping barefoot into the kitchen and the feeling of how soft and warm the carpet was under my feet was amazing. I felt happy, secure and comforted by the feel of that carpet. Mum and Dad gave us a tour of the house. We saw every room, heard what they were planning on doing to make it lovely and got excited when they said how we could all choose how our bedrooms would be decorated. We went upstairs, it was like a maze, the house was so big and beautiful. At the top of the stairs, you could either turn left or right. Mum and Dad took us right, there were 2 doors. The first door led to a bathroom, the second door to Mum and Dad’s bedroom. I loved them even though they needed decorating. We then went back to the top of the stairs and turned left towards our bedrooms. My bedroom was the furthest away so we saw the other bedrooms first. I couldn’t wait to see what room I would be sleeping in and couldn’t wait to have it decorated the way I was planning in my head. I remember Millie, Izzy and Sasha talking excitedly in each of their rooms about how they were going to decorate. Finally, we went into my room. It was not like the other rooms at all. It had already been decorated. The walls were pink and there were bold flowery curtains up at the windows and on a dressing table. My bed was right in the middle of the room with a brown and pink flowery bedspread on it. I hated everything about it. I asked how come my room was decorated and Mum said that her auntie was coming to stay in a few days so they’d decorated a room for her. I told them I didn’t like it and how I had wanted it done. I asked why her aunt had to have my room. They told me I was ungrateful and selfish. When I asked if I could still decorate it the way I wanted it after her aunt was gone, they refused. They said that they weren’t wasting money and I could learn to like it. After her aunt left, Mum and Dad decorated my sisters’ rooms exactly how they wanted them, I scribbled in black marker pen all over the walls and yet I still waited another 6 years until they agreed to decorate again.

Sometime before the age of 7 I had a nightmare. I remember becoming wrapped up in my blankets and feeling trapped. When I woke in a panic it was my Granddad I was crying out for. I don’t know why I wasn’t crying out for my Mum or my Dad.

My mum’s cousin had a baby and they came to stay for a couple of weeks. One day the baby was in his pram in the kitchen, I would have been about 10 at the time. The baby was crying and I asked his mum, Jill, if I could rock the pram. She said I could. As I gently rocked the pram it collapsed and the baby fell out and started screaming. I felt terrible. I felt guilty and I thought it was something I’d done. Mum shouted at me and I ran into the lounge crying. Millie, her friend, Izzy and Sasha were all in the room and they all started saying I’d hurt the baby, that I’d killed him, that I’d done it purposely, that I was horrible. I cried and cried especially when Jill and her husband  took the baby to the hospital to be checked over. What seemed like a lifetime later, a time where my sister’s goaded me non-stop and no-one came and told them not to and no-one came and reassured me that the baby was ok, Jill and her husband returned. They came into the room carrying the baby, sat me down, told me it wasn’t my fault, that the pram had been faulty and that the baby was ok. They asked me to hold him and give him a cuddle. I did so and sobbed into his hair. Mum and Dad were nowhere to be seen. The only reassurance and comfort I got was from Jill and her husband.

I always remember seeing Mum sitting on a chair, cuddling Sasha and Izzy. Mum would kiss them both and was always telling them she loved them. I can’t remember ever being kissed, cuddled or being told I was loved. Not to this day.

My puberty/sex education lessons from Mum consisted of a book being put on my bed for me to read, being told sex was dirty and disgusting and then when I was 14, Mum agreeing to me having a sex magazine delivered weekly. The magazine was meant for adults. It was full of erotic stories, different sex positions, different techniques. At 14, when I became sexually active I already knew almost everything there was to know about the physical aspect of sex but I knew nothing at all about the emotional aspect. Mum left me to discover it all, happy that she didn’t need to bother. Dad knew nothing about the magazines and I was told to make sure it stayed that way.

When I was 15 I found a huge stash of money in Mum and Dad’s bedroom, probably a few thousand pounds. I also found a dildo. Both discoveries were very strange for me because Mum claimed to hate sex yet had a sex toy and Mum claimed to never have any money but there was the biggest pile I’d ever seen. 

Mum insisted on choosing all of my clothes until I left home. I never got a say in what I wore. My clothes were unfashionable and frumpy and I felt like an idiot most of the time. I kept myself to myself rather than mixing with a large group of friends that was forming at school because everyone else was high fashion. It wasn’t for lack of money as we were rich enough to have our own pool in the garden, it was about Mum not allowing us to experiment or do anything for ourselves.

While all my friends went out after school, I was never allowed. Mum said it wasn’t safe.

We never went to the beach in summer because Mum hated it, she claimed to only like it in Winter. I always thought it was more to do with women in bikinis rather than anything else.

Mum raised us through fear. All of her ‘punishments’ were fear-based. Your Dad will go mad. Your Nan will go mad. Don’t make your Nan angry, you’ll regret it. You can’t go to the fair, it’s not safe. You can’t do this or do that as it’s not safe. We were only ever allowed to go to Nan’s or to the park, with Mum. as she declared everything else to be unsafe. I spent most of the 6 week summer holidays sat indoors watching telly or in my room alone. The only time we went out was if Mum took us but it was only ever to the park. I hated the summer holidays, they were so boring.

My sisters all asked for pocket money. Millie was given £50 a month. Izzy and Sasha got whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and I was told I could have £10 a month.

For as long as I can remember I asked for a dog. I was desperate for one. Mum always said no as she said she’d be left to look after it. She refused all requests for any pets I asked for. When Izzy was about 10 she asked for fish and she got them. Izzy refused to look after them so I took over their care. I was the only person that ever cleaned them out. Izzy forgot about them more or less as soon as she got them. Sasha asked for guinea pigs and got them. Sasha them asked for a horse. She got two. When I pointed all this out and asked for a dog, I was still told no.

Millie wanted piano lessons and flute lessons, she got both and took examinations in both, her achievements were always celebrated and awarded with a new music book or a treat of some kind. I asked for violin lessons and got them. I then stopped and asked for cello lessons which I was allowed. I then asked for singing lessons which I got and loved. The violin and cello were never things I was passionate about but the singing was everything to me. I took my lessons very seriously, I practised every single day for at least 2-3 hours and in the process, I taught myself to play the piano. Mum and Dad never put me through for any exams and I never received any real praise for my achievements in fact it went unrecognised that I taught myself to read music and play the piano but Millie always got to take exams.

My sisters were always asking for stuff. They wanted money, clothes, toys, anything they saw they wanted. One day we went to Bath for the day. I suppose I was about 10. We walked around the shops with all three of them pestering non-stop, I hated them all at that moment. They were so greedy and nothing was ever enough for them. If they got one thing, they wanted another and another. At lunchtime we went to a posh restaurant. Mum said we should go somewhere less posh but Dad insisted. We sat at the table with its pristine white table cloth, glistening cutlery and menu we couldn’t understand and the three of them started up again. I want, I want, I want. I was embarrassed and ashamed of them and desperately hoped that no-one thought I was like them too. The more they asked, the more they argued amongst themselves. Mum was getting annoyed, Dad was getting angry while I just sat there quietly. Eventually, Dad had enough and regardless of our posh surroundings, he blew a gasket! He shouted at us all that we were horrible, ungrateful and greedy. He’d included me in it and had totally failed to notice that I was none of those things. I’d actually spent the day saying no thanks to everything I was offered because I didn’t want Mum and Dad to think I was like my sisters and then they did anyway.

The only positive message I received as a child was that I was pretty. I was told that I would break men’s hearts when I got older. I didn’t like the thought of that. Later, when I discovered my sense of humour and found out that it was greater than my sisters’ I used that to gain my parent’s approval. (I have always and still do, do anything to prove to myself that I am funnier than them. I need to have this one thing that is better than them.)  I would be funny, entertaining and as wacky as I could be as often as I could be because it was the only time I received positive praise from either of them. Mum seemed to rejoice in her ‘weird’ child and from that, for the first time, we seemed to start building a relationship but it only worked when I was funny and over the top happy. Dad thought it was great too. Finally, I was getting the attention and ‘love’ I’d so desperately craved but I had to fake this over the top happiness to get it. It was draining but it soon became a way of life and probably a coping mechanism. As an adult I find myself laughing if I’m in pain or if I’m scared. I’ve mastered the ability to laugh at myself but I no longer feel anything else.

When Josh’s ADHD was really bad, Mum expressed her concern one day by saying he’d be in prison one day, that there wasn’t much hope for him if he carried on the way he was. Years later, when Izzy’s son also had ADHD she said exactly the same about him.

When I was pregnant with Alice, Greg and I told everyone that we planned on coming home as early as possible after the birth and so the only visitors we were having was going to be Josh. Mum gave me a filthy look and said, “So not only am I not allowed to be at the birth because you’re pushing me out, now I can’t even come and see my grandchild.”

Mum very rarely comes to visit unless it’s the kids’ birthdays then she’ll turn up the day before, usually at the most inconvenient time such as when I need to be cooking dinner, she’ll stay for far too long, sometimes until after Annie’s bedtime and she’ll spend the whole time moaning, complaining, slagging off my stepdad, slagging off my Dad, talking about everyone negatively. The kids stay in their rooms the entire time because they can’t stand her negativity and I end up feeling totally drained.

When we went to Mum’s a few years ago Annie wanted a bath and she wanted Mum to do it. I totally freaked out and wouldn’t allow Mum to bath Annie on her own, insisting on staying in the room with her. I don’t know why.

Mum does nothing but apologise for herself. It really pisses me off. She apologises for the way she looks, constantly saying she’s fat. She apologises for any food she makes saying it’s gone wrong and is rubbish. She never apologises for her behaviour though and she never takes responsibility for anything. 

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