Everything that we hear surrounding motherhood portrays a beautiful, nurturing, and a powerful bond that cannot be broken by any human being, or length of time. Nonetheless, this idealism is not the case for all mothers. From her earliest memories at four years old, Callie Flinn began to notice that her mother differed greatly from the others around her. Callie’s school friends had mums who were kind, warm, and selfless in nature, whereas Callie’s mother, Donna Flinn, was only able to mimic this behaviour in public. In private, Donna’s true and sinister identity would regularly emerge. Instead of providing care and an abundance of love for her daughter, Donna began to carry out wilful acts of spite, which included using violence, severe neglect, and intolerance towards her preschool child. Callie is parentified; she is used by her own mother and heavily burdened by Donna’s erratic and volatile emotional outbursts. Callie is unable to process the world around her and therefore, she begins to feel unsafe on a daily basis; Callie lives, day to day; in flight mode. She does not receive comfort from her mother; however, the expectation is for her, a small child, to provide this for Donna. Slowly, Callie begins to hear the same message repeated loud and clear, that her feelings do not matter and that she is to put the needs of everyone else around her first. The situation would only become worst for Callie, as her mother and father split and Donna begins a new relationship with Allan. Overtime, both Donna and Allan begin to work as a team, systematically breaking down Callie’s sense of trust, and robbing her entirely of a childhood, they cast her into the role of an adult. Callie fulfils a copious amount of household duties, which the adults around her appear to be incapable of; however, she is never given thanks or rewards for any of them. Instead, she is assigned to the role of the family scapegoat, in which both parties blame her for underperforming and use Callie to project their own unwanted traits onto. Callie begins to feel hopeless; she is trapped between two abusers who choose to silence or isolate her away from anyone that she tries to confide in. Callie feels abandoned by her father; his contact is sporadic and unreliable. As she grows into adolescence, her father begins to show growing hostility and resentment towards her, he berates her as she unknowingly displays traits that remind him of Donna, a woman that her father has made no secret of bitterly despising. Between the constant conflicts of these three, childlike, narcissistic abusers, Callie becomes a target of blame and rejection, fired from all sides, her boundaries are horrifically violated, and she is unable to trust any adult around her. Callie seeks comfort in the fact that she has a group of friends around her, who accept her and know nothing of her internal battle. She continues to exude happiness and a carefree outlook as she has learnt to disassociate from her anguish in order to continue to survive. As Callie grows into an adult, she becomes a mother to a daughter herself. This will eventually prove to be the turning point for Callie. The love that she has for Lucinda and the genuine need to see her experience true happiness, will catapult her into recognising the debilitating truth; that Donna does not want the same thing for her. For a few years after Lou’s birth, Callie will continue to ignore her abuse and stay loyal to the most calculated, deceptive abuser of all; her mother. It will take many years of chronic self-blaming, addiction and inescapable triggers, before Callie can begin to slowly, acknowledge her own suffering. Callie will begin a gruelling journey to heal from the pain of her upbringing and finally acknowledge the truth, that she was raised within the presence of evil, and that both of her parents were incapable of ever, authentically loving her.
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