I lost my mother, who was my best-friend, my ally against the world, my travel buddy and my eternal cheerleader, when I was seventeen.
To date it is still the most significant and impactful thing that has happened to me. I grew up living with just her and my elder brother, who had already left home when I was thirteen.
My initial reaction was to try to become so independent that I wouldn’t need anybody to take care of me, embracing living alone and working a waitressing job while finishing my A/S and A Levels at college.
Maybe I was trying to assume the role of my own mother in a sense, bullet-proofing myself from needing anyone else again.
My mother had been sick off and on since I was ten years old. When she was in hospital or receiving treatment I had often felt like a burden or inconvenience when going to stay at friend’s houses for weeks at a time or having an ever-rotating line-up of my mum’s friends driving me to/from school and my drama club.
It wasn’t family friends making me feel bad of course, I was just awkward and felt uncomfortable, craving normality and my own home.
I was too young to appreciate the beauty in allowing others to help and support me, and the goodness that it brings out in people. But, once the weight of my sadness and fear (and subsequent depression) became too much to bear alone, I began to see leaning on others and asking for help in an entirely new light.
There is a type of deep sadness that colours your appearance, I suppose some might say it’s your aura.
When I was nineteen I don’t think it would have taken too much sensitivity or perceptiveness to look at me and see that I was in a dark place. It was my GP who tactfully suggested that depression could be the cause of various health problems I was experiencing and referred me for specialist counselling.
It was then that I began to see things differently, to go softer on myself, and open up more to the support of others.
I could sense when people were genuinely concerned about me without them explicitly saying anything, sometimes it was just in a look or a smile. And in letting that in, rather that batting it away for fear of being seen as weak or a victim, I felt profoundly cared for and began to see so much beauty in the people and world surrounding me.
I also started to realise that asking for and allowing others to help is really a mutually beneficial action, as those who love you want for you to be happy, and it’s painful for them to see you in pain. It can also strengthen the relationship you share and bring you both so much closer.
Since then I have built such precious relationships with other female figures in my life – aunts, cousins, my mum’s friends, mums of my friends, my own friends, and even work colleagues – and often feel looked out for, listened to and loved in a kind of motherly way by them. I notice and really feel when other women in my life show me compassion and warmth and make me feel welcome.
Sometimes I’ve wondered if it is womens intuition or a sort of instinct to gives that type of love when they can sense someone is vulnerable and in need. Or maybe I’m just truly lucky to be surrounded by a lot of warm-hearted women. I’m fairly confident that our relationships and closeness mean a lot to them as well.
There was a time that I became somewhat fixated on the idea that I would never be loved as much as my mother loved me. I knew that my mum would have done anything for me, and that spending time together was always her priority.
While I do believe that there is something very special and unique about the love that a mother has for her child, and nobody could ever replace my mum, I have learned that deep and powerful love can come from other people in your life, if you let it.
So I want to celebrate the beauty of that and those women, as well as my radiant mummy, and be grateful for all the moments in time we have shared.