Now You Are Six

To my darling girl on your 6th birthday,

I hope that you never experience the agony induced by liberally spritzing Chanel no.5 over freshly cut wrists.

I don’t know what stings more: the musky, alcoholic perfume swimming in these open wounds or my own stupidity.

Stupidity for forgetting that the cuts are there.

Stupidity for still using the perfume gifted to me by the man who caused me to hurt myself.

Stupidity for thinking that dolling myself up on the outside might mask my broken inside.

Stupidity for creating permanent damage in exchange for temporary relief.

Stupidity for knowing that you’ll see these cuts and ask me what happened and I’ll say a cat scratched me and you’ll know that I’m lying because you’re smarter than me.

Stupidity for forgetting how my world changed the night you were born, six years ago today.

I was still with D.N and had just sat my interviews at Christ’s College, Cambridge. And I was being terrorised by my own brain in the worst psychotic episode I’d ever experienced.

The psychosis had started 18 months prior and was getting worse by the week. No medical professional helped me despite my pleas. D.N did his best, he did brilliantly considering, but no teenage boy should have to deal with the behaviours that I was exhibiting.

There was no let-up. No reprieve. Just constant insanity. Even when I managed to sleep I wasn’t safe. The Thing terrorised my dreams, nightmares, to the point where I was never sure if I was awake or asleep: every moment was terrifying, unrelenting madness. I had reached the end. I couldn’t live like that. Suicide was the only way to make it stop and I knew it.

You were due on Christmas Day. On the 7th of December I was ready to overdose. I was writing a letter to my dad when I got a call saying that my sister (your mummy) was in labour and on her way to the hospital, the same hospital that I was born in. I rushed down there, past Suicide Bridge where I had contemplated suicide some years earlier, desperate to get to you.

You were amazing. You still are.

But my plans had been foiled. I thought, “I do not want to be the auntie that you’ve only seen in photographs, the auntie who died when you were a baby, the auntie who you know nothing about.”

No. I had to make sure that you never experience the terror and sadness that I feel. I had to make certain that you never experience Chanel no.5 in self-inflicted wounds. You saved me and now I’m going to protect you the best I can.

I love you because you do not cry over spilt milk, but you laugh and laugh and dance on the dairy-doused floor. You have no reason to cry now: save up those tears for when you are old enough to read the newspapers. Your biggest concern today is what kind of cake you’re having and which story you’ll choose to read before bed. And that is fine by me.

I continue to pray that you will never feel as sad I am. And honestly, the Cloud can rain on me for the rest of my days, as long as you enjoy eternal Sunshine.

My taste in men changes often, as does my hair colour, and even the strongest perfume fades over time, but my love for you is for always.

Auntie L.


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