“You look taller” a family friend said to me as she opened her arms for a hug.
“I feel taller” I replied, I felt lighter too.
With the pressure of timing medicines, taking temperatures, ensuring that my mum would keeping drinking, and, knowing that, if my mum needed anything in the night, I’d be there first, there was absolutely no room for mistakes in my life.
I felt like I was the one who picked up the slack when people cracked under the pressure. I expected other people to let us down. My role was confirmed with the constant questions about what medicines Mum had taken and when, knowing that I was the only one with the answers. I grew angry and exhausted when others were late picking up prescriptions or when someone else couldn’t make hospital appointments with me.
“Katie doesn’t make mistakes”. I used to say it so frequently that I didn’t realise how unaware I was to the lasting scars that those words were inflicting. Scars that were never able to fully heal before I inevitably said it again. Also, what these words sounded like to other people, the distance and the pressure cooker atmosphere they created.
After my mum passed away, I continued living the only way I knew how and now put pressure into other areas of my life like exercise, university work, keeping the house exactly how Mum did, being a perfect girlfriend and big sister.
But I couldn’t be. I couldn’t keep up. And, what’s the point? What does it matter if we sleep in, or if I don’t go swimming one day. This perfect routine was tiring and it weighed me down. If you can’t feel at ease in your home, with your own people, what’s the point?
It’s been a slow transition but I wish I could tell my counsellor that I finally stepped down from that tightrope where I couldn’t put a foot wrong. I wish I could tell her that actually “Katie does make mistakes” but I can handle them – it’s okay.
The ground is no longer made of eggshells that I have to tiptoe around apologetically, every misstep soothed by a whispered “sorry”.
I’m no longer weighed down by the pressure of perfection and I am able to smile after things don’t go to plan, because, in the grand scheme of things, no one is dying…
Recently, I locked myself out of my flat and had to travel across London to retrieve a spare set of keys. Oops.
What’s a mistake that you’ve recently made?
Thanks for reading 🙂