To my Daughter, with Love
When your greatest gift stands right in front of you
When rays of sunshine
Enter your life
Bath in the warmth
Of their glow
A glow that can only
By those we call
… Our children …
Copyright: JL Keez: 2014
“A little girl JL..” “You mean a boy,” I replied. “No, a girl.” Convinced I was having Jack, a younger brother for my son, being informed I had just given birth to a girl came as a surprise.
Oh gosh … name?
With a few considered along the pregnancy path, the debate began. Little did I know the significance of the one finally settled upon.
My life was certainly not ideal. With a 9 year experience of anorexia nervosa behind me, the associated illnesses hung on; chronic fatigue, migraines, depersonalisation and OCD. My days were nightmares navigated by the strong mind adopted, to keep on going no matter what. The birth of my son saw me collapse under the strain of the mask I wore, thus leaving the classroom for what I had hoped would be a healed life as a mother.
The opposite transpired. Barely functioning I felt daily concern for the little one I carried regarding their health. Thankfully, the concerns were allayed. A healthy, robust little man. He was also the text book baby.
So when m y second pregnancy turned up unexpected, the concerns returned. Smaller, yet just as robust, this little girl had determination, and, unknowingly, purpose.
Vastly diﬀerent, she challenged every fibre of my being. She was her own person. As she grew, it was extremely apparent that no one was going to mould her – but her!
As the years passed, the multiple illnesses grew in intensity. My days were spent raising two children as best I could and researching possible contributions as to why this body of mine refused to work properly. Fast forward, and after years of unsuccessful attempts to understand my ‘why’, I stumbled across a female psychologist who practised something known as Reality Therapy underpinned by Choice Theory.
Understanding, explanation and several ‘why’s’ turned up to inform.
As my story unfolded – the theme of trauma and abuse prevailed. I needed to face many fears if recovery was ever going to be on the agenda. A stand out – what people thought of me, coupled with a deep longing to be liked. I learnt I was living by a daily script dominated by a deep deep fear of not being liked.
The road toward recovery – long, arduous, enlightening, filled with challenges. In steps my daughter!
You see, this little girl had not given into my demands to behave a particular way, dress as I wanted her to, nor had she seen the need to stop swearing inappropriately. The head bashing on the wall, the throwing of non compliant puzzle pieces across the room and the refusal to eat the meals prepared, characterised a young lady determined to be who she was. The perfectionist mother, in despair, demanded otherwise, influencing the behaviours displayed.
My daughter had become the target of my fears played out through my failed attempts to keep her in line so I would be liked. What an enormous responsibility placed upon her growing shoulders. I was completely ignoring the little person she authentically was to satisfy a need in me.
Here, in front of me, the greatest gift had been given. Was I going to ruin this child, turn her into a rebelling teenager who would leave home as soon as possible to escape me, or, was I going to challenge the fears in me which saw me treat this little girl so badly.
Her determination became mine. Guided by my psychologist, I gradually handed her life over to her. If she wore odd socks, she wore odd socks. As I worked on releasing my fears, I gave my daughter the gift she was also giving me – to accept ourselves without compromise.
As the years of diﬃcult recovery were undertaken, suicidal depression took hold. Nightly episodes almost took me – then I would look into the eyes of both my son and daughter in photos proudly spaced upon the mantlepiece. Returning to bed, I put the tablets away.
Over the years of immense struggle it would be my daughter who would encourage me to keep going. When migraines meant being uncontrollably sick, she would unwaveringly help me to bed and clean up the mess. Birthday cakes were always made. She tolerated the outbursts when, exhausted, I made her performance costumes and fell apart when errors were made. She massaged my scalp when the pain was intolerable. She held my hand when I found it diﬃcult to walk. Mother’s Day meant my daughter would quietly collude with her brother to do something special.
This ray of sunshine, heaven sent, became my nurturer throughout the most debilitating years. Following her dream to be a performer meant hours upon hours of studio time. Yet, not once did she complain when her mother was too weak to carry on.
A seemingly diﬃcult child became the challenge I needed to face the fears I carried. She taught me the importance of self-acceptance whilst ignoring the possible judgements of others. Her unwavering support gave us both the freedom to simply be.
When performing took her overseas, the photo displayed at theatre doors introducing her always ended with, “And she wishes to thank her mother for all the support given over many years.” The tears that fell were two fold – the pride of witnessing this person develop into a wonderful polished performer, and for the tremendous place she had in freeing myself from the bounds of fear. Bounds which could have crippled two lives…no, three.
For a moment I digress – within this piece I reference my daughter – however, my son does not escape my story. His strength to endure the illness of his mother, to support and care without complaint, must not go unnoticed. Together, these two children, beyond their years, undertook a life I wished could be so diﬀerent. Yet, as I witness them as adults, I see that perhaps this experience was also meant to be. Their defining characters of care for others, understanding and acceptance of diﬀerence, is one we can all learn from. So as I thank my daughter, I also thank my son. Without them in my life, my strength to continue, I know, would have weakened.
Kimberley Jane became my guide, my leader back to who I am, without the damage abuse inflicted. She was the warrior sent to straighten me out! Bold in her triumph to live a life where criticism followed her choices, she found her home with those who were the same. I would discover I was one of them. In grace she carried on.
Kimberley = a leader, warrior chief, bold. She was the warrior brought into my life to unforgivingly push me into the depths of horrendous fear, so I may learn and transcend.
Jane = god is gracious. This young lady is an example of graciousness personified. Recovered, I now take with me all of this knowledge and share it with whoever will listen!
To mother’s across our planet, where you may be experiencing a diﬃcult child, ask yourself, is this about the child, or about me. Maybe, just maybe, this wonderful ray of sunshine has come into your life, at the very time you need them. Maybe they are your greatest gift, standing right in front of you.
To my daughter, with love
JL Keez Anorexia Unlocked
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