She got home from school, barely able to get through the door before her bag and blazer slid to the ground, a new and less painful resting place. This was a bad one. The pain had been seering through all other senses all day, and no medical intervention was aleviating this all consuming of symptoms. She’d barely even noticed the blood loss, but now, with a little peace, she could now feel the wooziness and weakness that comes from loosing too much, too quickly. She slid to the floor, arranging a bizzare looking combination of cushions and the ledge of the couch that gave some temporary relief to her lower back.
Some time later her mother arrived home with the announcement that He was coming over, and she had better tidy up her stuff so the place looked clean. Her mother, despite living with the same sypmtoms (though undiagnosed) for years, had reacted much differently to her diagnois a year earlier. It was like the simple reason why the madness happened was enough. “Oh, there is a cause, it has a name, it is valid”, and of course this was very different to how the mother had been treated by doctors herself many moons ago. So she felt her mother then overlooked her subsequent suffering all because with a name and a doctor and a pile of drugs it should be fine. But it wasn’t. And it was taking time to sort out. But she felt her mother didn’t recognise it or allow for it. With a name for the thing, she could now go forth and conquer. But for the uncontrolled bleeding.
And that didn’t even account for Him. He was a boyfriend, but he was not the mother’s. With a wife and children her age (and in her extended social circle) it was not a relationship she could approve of. But her mother appeared to care only for her own happiness, not the fact the mother’s actions put her daughter in a horrible situation. Or that they were simply an unkind, immoral thing to do. And in the city they lived in! So small, a mere two or three degrees of seperation from anyone you might see on the street. For her, it was not only selfish and incredibly mean spirited, but very very foolish. And him. Unable to understand why she could never like him. The child of divorced parents, disliking a man who was having an affair. Making her an accomplice in his deceit. Always bringing presents and food and paying for things, like that would make a difference, when all it did was make her hate him more.
And this night. After he arrived, and she had been made to move and tidy despite agony and genuine illness, she put herself back against the couch on the floor, but this time the relief was less. The pain was returning and becoming all encompassing, just like it had in class earlier that day. Breathing became shallow and sharp, to avoid pricking the dragon in her abdomen, the nausea came in waves, making the sushi dinner platter a complete no-go. The only thing she could think of stomaching was chocolate. He had brought some, no doubt for dessert or a bribe. Usually she would refuse to take anything he bought, but the circumstances that day changed it. After a few grunts at an attempt at conversation, and even the involuntary tears streaming down her face doing nothing to raise concern in her mother, she took the bag of chocolate from the table and left the room. She shuffled past the medicine cabinet and grabbed one of the high-dose pain killers left over from her mother’s surgery the previous year and went to bed.
He would never know, but that relationship, the continued presence in her home, the place she should feel save, irrevocably changed the relationship with her mother. It was the begining of the end for them, and in part, for her own self esteem. If not even her own mother, who had also dealt with the pain, blood loss, illness and lack of understanding from the outside world could prioritise her and her wellbeing about all other outside concerns, she must be worthless. Making it up. Imagining how bad it could be. Even a decade later, she has never been able to forgive her mother for relegating her to the bench, and putting someone who clearly has no moral compass ahead of her own chronically ill daughter.
She was 18.