There have been many causes and effects as a result of my early loss of my mother.
At the age of eleven going on twelve I had cognitively and emotionally advanced enough to feel profound loss but my resources for managing my emotions hadn't yet reached a level of maturity.
I perceived my mothers death as a result of something I did or didn't do.
I began to structure my behavior so I was so good that no one would ever want to leave me again.
I began to give away too much.
I didn't have the privilege of looking to my own mother as a model for womanhood.
Most daughter's early identity is formed in large part from the experience she has with her mother, the behavior she observes and the quality of their relationship.
Without this live experience my identification came to a premature freezing halt.
The truth is, just because I lost my mum, didn't mean I lost the need to be mothered.
When she died I had to cope with whatever changes and upsets resulted. I allowed myself to mourn only from a distance. I kept my core feelings about her loss buried under protective layers.
I felt as though I were in "no mans land" of affection, isolated and withdrawn from everyone and this resulted in a transference from an early age of my feelings of dependency, my needs and my expectations onto the nearest available adult or relationship.
As I had not in later years detached from my lost mother or pulled away from the image of her enough to mourn the loss I continued to search for her in the people I choose as replacements.
I began every relationship with the hope that I had found someone who would hold and care for me like a child.
I just wanted someone to lullaby me.
As a result of her loss I had to develop coping methods and take responsibility for myself very quickly. I had to advance rapidly in my developments.
I felt like a child of twelve co-existing with a woman of twenty one and as my mourning was incomplete I have felt stuck in a state of yearning.
My developmental tasks as an adolescence were totally thrown off course, developing autonomy, dealing with authority figures, learning to live with ambivalence and ambiguity, developing a capacity for intimacy, solidifying a sexual identity, learning to manage my emotions, developing a personal value system and maintaining a sense of adequacy and competence were disrupted and halted.
Her death became an irrevocable and physical fracture,
Unlike a normal teenage girl who fights with her mum I couldn't shout out "wait a minute, I didn't really meant it"
I have found that truly mourning her often has reactivated emotions that existed at the time of her death and now as I return to that juncture in my past I find myself working through the developmental tasks I never completed, like learning to manage my emotions in a healthy and safe way.
Differentiating between being needy and in love.
My sexual identity, all these areas were distorted and I found myself experiencing the emotions of adolescence in my thirties.
My eating disorder looking back started around this time, being a teenager is a time of change occurring both around and within you and without a mother I looked for comfort in what I could.
My suppressed grief and my sexual abuse manifested in the self destructive behavior of anorexia. I couldn't control what was being done to me or happening around me, but I could control my body by purging it or starving it of food.
With my mothers death and my new acquired title of "little wife" I somehow stepped on a fast forward button that transported me from fourteen to forty.
I had involuntarily become mini mother whilst my mother was alive and after her death until my sisters were adopted.
This care-taking role was premature and it hurtled me into the responsibilities of a later developmental stage before I complete the one I was in. It forced me into a maturity at exactly the time I needed to regress and to be taken care of.
My thoughts, responsibilities and realizations matured tenfold overnight but my body despite the violation constantly reminded me that I was not fully grown up, and yes it is hard to be a real adult when you're still taking the bus to school every day!
Sometimes I wanted nothing more than the ability to spread my arms and grasp forty with one hand and fourteen with the other and then to pull both ends in tight until they met somewhere in-between.
The sudden death of my mother and step father, the separation from my sister's and my sexual abuse from my foster father all in a very short space of time set the precedence that relationships are impermanent and liable to end at any time, an awareness that dramatically shaped my emerging personality and caused indescribable insecurity.
I have always felt calamity might be lurking around every corner and that some terrible loss might come at any moment for which there is no preparation and no defense.
When someone dies without warning the ball is hit straight at your face. You don't have time to choose which way to run all I could do was absorb the shock and impact.
We mourn only when we feel stable and secure enough to relinquish some control, not when we are anticipating another blow from behind.
Loss always hovers at the edge of my awareness like next months bills. I have carried the remote ache of longing with me for long enough to understand its part of who I am now. I am always going to be a daughter without a mother, this is part of my identity I can never change.
it has been the grit of my survival, to hold an insight and maturity others did not obtain so young.
I have people ask me, "If some things could have happened differently in your life what would they be"? And, I would have to say there isn't anything I'd change.
I'm sorry for the different things that have happened, but I wouldn't have done it any other way. The losses are so entwined in my life and so much a part of my personality and my maturing and so much of the person I am today.
I have learnt to take responsibility for myself and beginning to take consistently good emotional care of myself, not by excluding others from my life but by learning to trust, respect and value the child I was and the woman I now am.
I am learning to give myself exactly the kind of comfort and praises I lost when mother died, an inner guidance and emotional security that I so lacked.
The best internal mothering I her daughter can hope to give to myself.
My mother is more than a photograph sitting on my bedside table, she lives on beneath everything I do.
Her presence influenced who I was and her absence influences that which I am.
My life has been shaped as much by those who left me as they are by those who stayed.
Loss is my legacy.