Sunday, 6 February 2011


My mother insisted she was lonely for almost all of her life. According to her brothers, both of whom refuse to allow me to call them uncle, she was loneliest when she was a conjoined twin, and seemed to come out of it for a while after her twin died in a skiing accident. Then six months later the doctors separated her from her dead, and increasingly gangrenous, twin, and she went back to being lonely again.
My father, who has a court order keeping me out of shouting range from him, wrote me a letter years ago, before things between us deteriorated, saying that my mother was lonely when he first met her, but that she seemed to become happier as they got to know each other. "There was," he wrote, "twenty-five minutes the day before our wedding, when we were the happiest we've ever been. I really think your mother came alive then." After the wedding things went downhill rapidly; on the second night of their honeymoon she slept on the couch; on the third she booked a separate room in the hotel. "I have no idea how you were conceived," he wrote in the last paragraph of the letter, "physically or mentally. I certainly would have vetoed the design document for you if I'd been shown it first."
The doctor who delivered me is currently prosecuting a case against me for stalking and clinginess, though his lawyer has sent a letter that suggests he'd be being far crueler if he didn't think it wasn't completely my fault. Before things came to that, he had told me that my mother seemed happiest while in labour, and as soon as I was born she was disinterested. "We thought it was rapid onset post-partum depression," his letter to me stated, "and we were thrilled that we'd be able to study it and write it up as a paper. But your mother refused to self-harm, wasn't interested in reading Sylvia Plath, and showed admirable, if upsetting, caution around open windows and high rooftops."
My childhood memories are a little strange, according to my therapist, who has put her rates up six times in the last six visits. I have almost no memory at all of my mother, but I refer to things happening that need another person to be there. "It's as if," she's mused, "your mother were somehow invisible to you most of the time."
"What mother?" I replied.
After my therapist convinced me that I must have had a mother to be born, I went looking, and a concerted facebook campaign found her (I won't give my facebook details as I have a lifetime ban from the site from over-friendly behaviour). I went to visit her and found her attending an artist-commune. She was sat in a meadow, her eyes streaming with hayfever, daubing brown paint onto a beige canvas in the likeness of Mahatma Gandhi. When I approached, she looked round and somehow stuck her brush straight through her canvas.
She wouldn't say much, only that I had family and that she would provide their names and addresses; the above tale relates how well that has turned out. She seemed listless, and shortly after I left she beat herself into a coma with a thin volume of Sylvia Plath poetry and died a few days later. I've sent the volume to the doctor who delivered me in case he can now write that paper.
I think I may have inherited my mother's loneliness.

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