I do not remember my mother ever looking into my eyes, though my eyes were always treated by her with disgust.
“You have your father’s eyes,” she used to say to me. I never had any idea what was wrong with my father’s eyes or what was so hateful about them. For when she said these words she said them with hatred.
I was brought up with hatred. Hatred seemed to be the most overwhelming emotion in my family. It bred. My father was hated, though I never knew why, and I was hated too, ostensibly because I looked like him. I was dark. Dark skinned and dark haired. Fair was always best, according to my mother. Fair was to be loved and cherished, and thus, when my brother was born with fair hair and blue eyes he immediately became the golden boy.
It is impossible to describe the atmosphere of hatred that I grew up in. What does that do to a child? What is the most natural reaction to being hated? It is yo recoil. To withdraw into oneself. To hide. To want to hide. Even to disappear. And that is what I tried to do – to disappear. I must not be seen, and I must have no needs. Certainly not a need for love. And so I grew up neither seeking nor finding love. I was treated as if I was repulsive, and as if I should not be there because I was so repulsive. I therefore also grew up with a sense of guilt. Guilt at just being alive. I always knew that I could never please, that I could never promote a desire for me within my mother. Nothing I ever did could change her. Nothing could make her like me, much less love me. I therefore felt that I should not be in this world, and the best I could do was remain quiet and unseen.
Did I hate myself as a result of all this? I have no idea. I know that I felt I could never do right or be right. I once had a friend who used to dream that she was a question Mark. Well I dreamt that I was an apology. An apology for being born. An apology for being around. An apology for existing. And yes, I have always felt that my death would put the whole order of things right, so terrible was the fact that I was on this earth.
As a child and indeed as a teenager too, I must have no needs. To exist is to have needs. A need for food. A need for warmth. A need to be allowed to sleep, in peace. But if ever I showed tiredness or hunger, then I should be erased. Taken off the face of the earth. To need something was to be naughty – it was disgusting. I was a nuisance, a burden. To need something was to require something of my mother, as a small child. And she did not want to give. In fact, giving was most definitely NOT part of my mother’s nature. She withheld herself and everything else from me. In withholding THINGS, like food, from me, she was achieving her deepest desire – to withhold herSELF from me. She had nor wanted to GIVE birth in the first place. That was asking too much of her in the realms of giving. She could not give because she thought only of herself and HER needs. Her needs were the ones that must be met. Thus she ate, she slept, she found things to enjoy doing. I, however, must enjoy nothing, and if ever I did enjoy anything, that enjoyment was always quashed immediately. I do not think she could bear to see me happy. It angered her. I learned well not to be happy. I learned to take nothing for myself. I learned not to need – that my needs were unimportant.