Mothers 3

    I am 5 years old,
 and I feel like something is wrong with my mother. I am not thinking about it, I just know. I have this weird dream in which I am sitting in the driver's seat and my mother is out of the car. I see her hands filled with blood and she is crying. She looks desperate and so do I.  I know I am not able to drive that car. I am so young for this. I try to get my hand out of the car to grab something and make it stop but the only thing I achieve is to get my hands bleeding. I wake up so scared but I am thinking that it was just a nightmare. Little did I know.
   I am 8 years old,
 and my mother looks angry and irritable. She wakes up very early, I never see her sleeping. She is doing so many things, I can't keep up with her. She fights with my dad and other people. Some times I feel afraid. I don't know how she will react. I don't understand.
   I am 10 years old,
 and my mother is sitting always on the couch. She is just staring at the TV, her look seems so lost. I want to start sports but she always postpones to take me to the gym. She doesn't want to get a walk with me or cook with me, she rarely looks at my homework. These things, though, are not bothering me much. I am not really thinking about them. It's like I do not see them. My dad says she's neglecting me but I don't get why he says that. I think I have a great mom that loves me and now I am confused.
   I am 11,
 and I am asking too much questions. So there she goes: "I have bipolar disorder", she says. "I am on medication".  I get my answers, lock them in a box inside my head and keep going, knowing the truth. I start processing it and I get this obsession that if she has it, I also will. This thought stays with me for years, draining my energy. I am so scared. I don't know how I am supposed to help.
   I am 12,
 and I am announcing that I will become a psychologist. There's nothing in the world I want more.
   I am 14,
and my life is good. I have my friends and things in school are great. However, I feel very different and alone sometimes. My friends don't really understand what I am sharing with them. But I don't blame them. I blame myself. I think I am a bad person, too emotional or too manipulative. Sometimes, in my mind, what shapes my identity is that I have a mother with a mental illness. Like this is my curse.
  I am 16,
and it feels like I have three different mothers. The first is always blue and doing nothing at all. I feel her tears without seeing them. I feel her pain even if she hides it. The second one is the one that yells and makes me feel a bit scared. And the last one, my real mother, that loves me and smiles all the time, that is sweet and caring and with which I deserve to be a normal child again. I crave for that last one to be the permanent, but the masks are always getting in the way of me and her. I always try to protect her. I try to make her proud and be a good daughter. I am not angry at all. I know I can't be angry with her. Because, I am thinking, maybe my anger will destroy her fragile heart.
   I am 18,
 and studying so hard to get in the Psychology Department. I start thinking that there is a chance I won't achieve it. In my mind, this means that I won't save her. That makes me crazy and I have panic attacks. My mother is trying so much to be there for me but I make it extremely hard. I am devastated and so is she. It feels like I am starting to lose my mind. The panic attacks are horrible and I am thinking that I was right, I will fall down the black hole with her. In a weird way, I get over it, pass my exams and here I am, in the Psychology Department. I get some distance from her, both geographic and emotional, because feeling that we are alike made me suffer doubly.
   I am 19,
and I decide to see a psychologist. I need to work with myself. As the process continues, I start feeling all the oppressed anger I was not feeling the previous years. Where was she when the other mothers were doing things with their children? Why did I have to feel that I didn't deserve her love? Why doesn't she try harder for me? I am complaining at her. I am crying on the phone, telling her that she was not here. She is silent.
  I am 21,
and I know that I don't have three mothers. I have just one. A damaged one. A courageous one. Now I am neither sad nor angry, nor afraid. I am all of it ,at times, but mostly, I am optimistic. I have forgiven her for not being always there because I know she really couldn't. I see her winning her battles every time, teaching me how strong we are and giving me hope. I think she even taught me more than a "normal" mother would.  I am not scared of having the same mental illness anymore. I am trying to be my most healthy "me". I am taking care of myself like I was my own mother. I am also taking care of her. Just from a safe distance. I don't feel that I have to save her. I know she can save herself and I am just there to help her do that.

My biggest desire is, still, to help people that need it. It completes me. And when I do it, is almost like I see her smiling. It's almost like my love for her is channeled to them and I want to do my best.

 I think I can live with that.

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