So, in an effort to work out why I am the way I am I've been delving deep into my childhood. Trying to work out what happened. I guess that's the key for all of us, isn't it?
As you'll quickly infer from the working drafts of my new novel that I intend to occasionally post up on this blog, my childhood was dominated by my mother. In fact, until she died a couple of years back, my whole life has been influenced by her. And not in a good way either. Even thinking about her now I can feel my stomach muscles tightening.
It's hard to describe the effect she had on everybody around her. She simply hated everything and everybody. The world was a conspiracy to make her unhappy. As a result she resented us all. Of course, she was ill and we all knew this. By the time I was seven she had already spent considerable time in a mental hospital. So we took this into account. She wasn't being malevolent or evil. She was sick. All the time. And the way she was ground you down.
Actually, it wasn't quite all the time. I can remember her smiling - she had a beautiful smile. And when she was happy - so briefly - we all shared her happiness, extravagantly so. Sometimes I even managed to make her laugh. I tried hard at that. I tried so hard to make her laugh, dreaming that I could make her better.
We didn't resent the way she was. Mostly we just felt sorry for her. But she was a burden, no question about it. I guess we felt that everyone has their cross to bear. I don't remember my dad ever complaining. He just made the best of it.
To try and ameliorate the effect she had on me and my father (who got it worse than I did) I tried my very best to be a perfect child, to please her and one day, God willing, even to make her happy. Of course, I was always failing. Nothing I did seemed to please her. In truth I think she hated me almost as much as she did my father.
As a result I went about in her presence feeling as if I was walking on eggshells. One false step and I would set her off.
And somehow I've spent the rest of my life trying to please other people. It's as if I've been conditioned. As a result I sometimes feel I haven't really lived. As if I've done it all for someone else.
Like I've been trapped in a glass cage all my life, a specimen in someone else's experiment.