watching me like you never watched no one

Trigger warning: another memory of my dear mother


When I was 12 years old, my mother gave me a present that would have made me who I am today- a scrapbook. It was wire-o binded, square, and big. mom said that I can write, draw, or paste anything on it because it was mine.

Along with the scrapbook, was a pink card that was delicately embossed with floral illustrations and it smelled like roses. The card did not mention birthday or any occasion, but I knew it was ‘daughter-themed’ and there was a long poem written on the card that left no room for interpretation: daughters, it said, existed solely to fulfill their mothers' unfulfilled dreams." Then on the bottom page my mom just wrote “I love you, Ate. Love, Mama"

I was very happy when I got that present, but immediately after reading the poem, I felt a gentle pressure on me.

How ironic was it for my mother to give me something I can call my own, and at the same time, imply that I must be the perfect version of her.

Scrapbook after scrapbook, journal after journal, diary after diary - I was on a roll of documenting everything happening to me. all the bad and good things, both the silly and scary thoughts. She read everything and she didn’t like most of it: all the things that made me happy was, according to her, “pretentious”. all the the moments i was sad and angry, did not translate to “how can I help my daughter?” “I wonder what she’s going through?” No. The sad and angry bits just filled her with rage.

She was proud and disappointed in me at the same time. And I was so confused. Every day. I didn't know what to do because everything was a trap. Every decision I make was a wrong. Everything I say was shushed. 

When she died, I was even more confused. 

Now that I have mustered up the confidence to actually figure out what was going on, and tell her that she wasn’t fair.. she had to die. She died with me being angry at her, and her equally extremely angry at me.

That's a burden I carry until now. It's been ten years. The longer time passes, the harder it gets to talk about it. I also find that no matter how much people listen, their face is doing that thing where they look like they have no idea what I feel. So they maintain a serious expression just to let me know that they are listening. 

Maybe sharing my story online, like putting a fragment of my teenage angst on a blog or YouTube, can help someone else out there who feels unseen or unheard. That way, the scrapbooks become more than just a record of expectations. They become a reminder of where I've been, and a guidepost where I want to go.

Would you believe that the first paragraph of this blog post was meant to be a caption for a TikTok video I was about to post. My idea was that, in terms of documenting my life,  12-yr old kyla is no different to 20ish kyla (I refuse to reveal my age). My documentation now keeps expanding to to the internet space though- where anyone can see them. Isn't that cool? Creepy, but kind cool. 

I'd like to think as free fiction and non-fiction books. Sometimes when I read a book, an author - any author - would say something that I have also thought of or something that I had always wanted to say, but I can't put into words. 

I think the best writers are the ones who's brave enough to say the things we're scared to say. The internet is like that - via comments, posts, and replies. Something, relatable. In school, the measure of a good writer was about how good you were are using fancy words. Can you imagine? If I was stuck in that bubble? I used to write about stuff that are what - like - out of touch with reality and I was proud of it because I used new words. 

Later on I would find out that writing and saying the experience and feelings are the only time I produce good work. 

Which is harder than learning new words. 



Merry Happy by Kate Nash
Mouthwash by Kate Nash
Chasing Waves by Vista Kicks
Pack Up by Eliza Doolittle
Gonna Get Over You by Sara Bareilles


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