Mother’s Daughter

By Erin
Your mom says you were born at 12:30 on a Thursday. Your grandfather drove through the night to kiss your forehead. She tells you he said, “This child has a beautiful soul.”

You were born in the early summer, a month before your brother turned 2. You’ve heard this story a thousand times, he crawled on your mother’s bed and said “here baby, here’s a water balloon.” The balloon is red and you know those words by heart as if they’re your actual memory. You are your mother’s only daughter.

It is a Friday when you decide to take your life. You think it’s Friday anyway, days don’t mean very much anymore. It tastes like freedom at first. Like quitting a job or breaking up with someone you don’t love or leaving a city for the last time.

Then you’re in the hospital and you can’t even piss by yourself. You sit on the edge of the hospital bed. Slowly, it probably takes five minutes for you to get up. It takes steps, it needs to be planned out. There is no more fluidity for you, every movement must be a conscious choice. It feels like prison.

Step one, you raise your back from the bed. Slowly. Everything is slow now. Then you pivot to face the nurse. There’s always a nurse watching. Not the same nurse. There have probably been six here today. Always watching as if you might strangle yourself with the IV cords . You might.

You face the nurse and then you move your legs. Not too fast. Slow down. You put your feet on the floor. Grounding. The waiting feels like hell.
Your head would hurt except it barely feels like you have a head at all, like you’re just a body and the command center is your bladder.

You can’t see anything past the nurse, you can’t see the room. You know what it looks like though. You’ve been in this hospital before, you know because the woman at reception recognized you.

You stare at the nurse with your feet on the ground trying to figure out what face to make to signal that you’ve found some kind of balance. Then comes the lifting. You hate being lifted, you don’t trust it but you don’t get a say anymore, your life isn’t really yours anymore. She lifts you and puts you on the toilet they’ve rolled out for you. She and the other nurses turn slightly to give you some kind of privacy. They can all hear the pee hitting the sides of the tin bowl. You don’t have the energy to be embarrassed.

The nurse tells you you’re beautiful. She’s the one who moved you from the emergency room to this one. You don’t know what floor you’re on.

She says “you’re so young, you have your whole life ahead of you.”

“I don’t want it.”

She doesn’t care.

“God is on your side.”


Maybe he is. You prayed for the first time two weeks ago and here you are, still alive. Maybe that’s on purpose, maybe you’re meant for something bigger. A sob wracks your body, “I just hate myself is all.” She’s known you for less than 24 hours so she probably isn’t being ironic when she says, “I’m sure you have so much to live for.”

Your mom is there. You don’t remember when she got there. You remember screaming for her last night. She says “hey boo.” You don’t want to look her in the eyes so you stare at the wall behind her and say “I’m giving this experience a 0/10 star review on yelp.” She laughs because she loves you. You don’t let yourself think about how scared she is. She asks you what you took. She’s maybe the fifth person to ask but she’s not a doctor, she’s your mom, so you tell her.

That afternoon you ask about her childhood. You don’t know why, you want to hear about something happy. You want to hear about her before you. She tells you about growing up on a ranch, about the horses and the fields and her mom and her dad. You think about your grandma. She’s dead, she died when you were 8. You don’t remember it, you remember crying.

You think about your other grandma, she’s dead too. You think about your dad after the funeral, after the fourth time in your life you’ve seen him cry.. You think about him saying, “I couldn’t look at you while I was giving her eulogy.” You think about your mom telling you later that your Grandmother loved you and that losing a mom always makes you think about your daughter. You’re glad your dad isn’t here. You close your eyes.

You can feel the pills in your throat.

You think you’re yelling. You think you’re yelling louder than you have ever yelled. Your legs are flinging themselves back and forth like you don’t have any control over them. Your head is smashing itself against the plastic side of the bed and the nurses keep telling you to stop. You can’t say anything but you’re thinking “if I could fucking stop you don’t think I would?”

You’re thinking “somebody help me.”

You’re thinking “please.”

You weren’t allowed to watch TV as a kid except for a Winnie the Pooh VHS when you were sick. You’re six, maybe seven and you have a fever. You’re not faking it, your mom took your temperature but you won’t ask if you can watch Winnie the Pooh.

What if she thinks you’re lying and the next time you’re sick she doesn’t believe you. What if you really are faking it. What if you’re making it all up. You feel like you need something concrete. Maybe if you puke that will prove how sick you are.

Maybe if you try to kill yourself.

You don’t remember the ambulance ride. You remember crying. You remember laughing. Begging the nurses and doctors to make small talk with you like it was some kind of routine appointment, like it was all a joke.

You remember being too nauseous to move, puking every time you lifted your head. The nurses wanted you to change into hospital clothes. They told you so many times. Like when you were a kid and your mom was begging you to dress up for Christmas dinner. “Please just wear this dress, Erin, your grandparents will really appreciate it.” became, “put on the dress before I get to three,” became, “ma’am you have to change, it’s hospital procedure.”

You didn’t want to dress up, you didn’t want to change, you didn’t want to be naked. Even alone you don’t want to be that exposed. You remember them taking off your clothes. You remember screaming. You remember your mom telling your dad in the kitchen “we can’t keep getting into these power struggles.”

You can’t remember when you started feeling powerless.

They always ask “so Miss… Dorsey what brings you here?”

Just like that, every time.

“So Miss Dorsey…”

And every time you say, “I tried to die.”

It sounds so silly. It sounds like you’re saying “whoopsie” It doesn’t sound like, “I couldn’t be alive anymore.” It doesn’t sound like, “my life isn’t worth it.” They always ask why.

Your brain is foggy and you can barely sit up and you don’t know how to explain it. You don’t know how to explain that you have always felt like this. You don’t know how to explain that you have been moving through life with a monster in your brain and you have spent years fighting it and hating it and hoping someday you will beat it. You don’t know how to explain the ice cold of realizing there is no monster. You can’t say out loud that you are the monster.

So you say, “I just don’t want to be alive.”

You say, “I hate myself” and the doctors nod, they scribble something down and they walk away.

Your mom never asks why. She looks at you and says, “are you hungry?” She brings you your teddy bear and holds your hand. For a moment you think the monster goes away.

It’s a Friday when you decide to murder your mother’s daughter. And it takes until Monday for you to be sorry.

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