Happy or guilty

In my earliest years I was the incredibly lucky recipient of a mother and a father in a stable home, with a wider family in which everyone had 2.4 children and divorce and death were things that happened on the news. Of course my mother may have been deeply unhappy and struggling to cope, and my father may have been incapable of emotionally engaging with her, or their children, but I was safe from abuse and loved, with an enormous dose of naivety about the world.

Looking back it seems strange that  from around the age of 13 (puberty is brutal) I had recurring thoughts of wishing my grandparents would die so I had a reason for all this unhappiness. I then felt such guilt at having these thoughts, I would resolve to pretend to myself that I was happy, force myself to be happy, but the minute I weakened and felt anything other than cheery and wonderful, I’d go back into the cycle of desperately wishing something awful would happen. I could then tell people how unhappy I was and they’d understand, sympathise and look after me. But just as my sister and I would often ask my mother “what’s wrong?” with no response, I knew there was no explanation for the way I was feeling that I could justify to those around me. Until I had a legitimate reason, I’d better not be unhappy.


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