I was 14 years old when my mother caught me sneaking downstairs in my high heels. She had forbidden me to buy them, never mind wear them. I thought they were beautiful, purple and shiny. ‘Tarty,’ said Mum. ‘Take them off, you’re grounded.’
I had a date with my new love interest of the week and on hearing her words, a red mist descended.
A scuffle ensued and I ended up hurling a shoe at Mum, which hit the hall mirror. Shards of glass went everywhere. They cut her face and my hands and feet as I tried to bolt out of the door. Dad walked into the bloodbath. I was grounded for weeks.
I know it was puberty kicking in but, looking back, I can’t believe I acted like that. It was my friend Harry who lived next door who helped me through. He was a year younger than me, but so grown up. His mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, so he was reading self-help books in order to help her. He gave me this book, The Work by Byron Katie. It was a four-question process. You had to question your thoughts by asking:
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
Every time I’d go round to his house crying about my parents, Harry would help me work through it. He printed off worksheets for me. I’d be ranting: ‘They just want to control me.’
And Harry would ask: ‘Is that really true?’
I started to see how much drama I made up. The process made me step back from the intense emotions and spirals of despair that I found myself diving into on a daily basis. I’d find myself mid-argument with Mum and I’d hear Harry’s voice: ‘Who would you be without the thought that your mother was trying to ruin your life?’ I started to get some perspective, started laughing at myself.
I was 16 when Harry’s mum died and then it was my turn to support him.
Looking back, I can’t believe how self-involved I’d been. Hormones put me in this self-absorbed blinker-vision – it was all about me, me, me. Rebel without a clue. I think I hurt my parents such a lot and I regret that. Now the hormonal storm has passed, we’ve got a stronger relationship.
Harry’s mum wanted her funeral to be a celebration of her life. Mum suggested that I wear my purple high-heeled shoes.