Last week my sister graduated from university, with a 2:1 in Business Studies and Human Resources. As an older sibling, it felt somewhat weird to see this young woman, who I remember visiting in hospital hours after she was born, wearing a gown and mortar board. I felt a huge sense of pride seeing her hard work and commitment being rewarded with a degree certificate.
It was yet another occasion where someone was missed. I felt a sadness that our mum wasn't there to witness how this once tiny bundle has positively flourished in to a strong, clever, bright young woman.
It would of course be easy to suggest that our mum's death scarred us. That we went off the rails because of it and to wallow in self-pity and anger at the unfairness of it all. And for many years, I did, without realising it.
For a short time it gave me a sense of determination. It was, after all, her death which became the trigger for me to get a job, to move out of the hostel and then meet my husband. However, it also gave me an excuse to be irresponsible. To do things which I never thought I would do, to largely wear a mask, making myself vulnerable only to those I trusted.
For a number of years I was plagued my fear and insecurity. I was paranoid that every little disagreement would see the husband leave me, call our relationship off. He deserved someone who knew, always, that they were loved and adored. Getting engaged, then married and then having a child all briefly helped but ultimately that voice would win, the one that tells me I am not good enough. Except now it changed. Not only was the husband going to leave me, he would take Harry, I'd never see him again. Harry would grow to hate me, never know how much I love him. Maybe those naysayers were right and I haven't done my best to create a secure and loving environment for me. The mask of confidence and self-assurance is off in private.
More recently I have become insecure about my appearance. I have put on weight and whilst I am not overweight I am bigger than I would like to be. I took this picture of me at my sister's house last week.
Whilst people told me I looked nice, I didn't, still don't I suppose, believe them. I have found myself analysing this one over and over, pointing out the bits I am unhappy with. It's a strange place for me to be in as I have never really felt that I want to lose weight and I find myself working out ways to do so. I found myself comparing myself to my sisters, which is just silly because I am now in my early thirties and have a child (as well as having my mobility issues) whereas they are late teens and early twenties. I know before I had Harry my figure was very similar.
I am working on changing my perception of myself. A bit at a time I hope to have confidence that I have never had. To accept that I won't have the body I want but I can make the best of the one that I have. To realise that my husband does love me and works pretty darn hard to reassure me of that despite any difficulties we may have had. To prepare myself to be able to grab opportunities that come my way and not think I am not good enough or convince myself that I will fail. Most of all, to become the person I want to be.
My sister, that once small bundle wrapped in a blanket in our mother's arm, has proven that your past doesn't have to haunt you. Maybe I can finally do the same.