I sense your eyes of judgement bearing down on me. I know you can’t understand it, so naturally it’s hard for you to find empathy. You haven’t been where I am which makes me difficult to understand. But rather than disappointed incomprehension, I wish you’d reach out your hand. But instead, you have unrealistic expectations. One’s that I can never hope to meet. As the chasm widens between us, I battle a growing sense of defeat. Two women world’s apart at opposite ends of the spectrum. Your ascent has brought you joy whilst I’ve been sucked under by depression. Unaware that it is the ‘black dog’ who has become the guardian of my cage’s key. I pretend, trying to act ‘normal’ and not at my selfish gaoler’s mercy. Alienated from those I love, trapped in a cycle of misery, shackled by my own self-loathing, it’s from within these walls that I see. I see you, seemingly proud and confident, embracing the newest chapter of your life. The Spring to my endless Winter, flourishing, fertile, successful in your role as wife. You are a celebration of womanhood, a producer of grandparent’s heirs. You’ve created and you’ve given light. God has answered your secret prayers. You are the success and I, the failure, the mutant female, ashamed of whom I’ve become. My body a barren betrayer, unlike yours that has produced a golden son. Yes, I sense your eyes of judgement questioning my behaviour and response. But I can’t do much about it. My self-esteem, my inner strength are all but gone. This atmosphere of expectation is a heavy burden, I can’t fulfil. I dread the knowledge that I will disappoint you despite asserting great courage and strength of will. I suppress my urge to shriek, to grimace with grief and cry. My fight or flight would like to run for it without even pausing to explain why. As best I can, I cover up this battle. I remain suffocating slowly in this room. I hide my physical and emotional shakes and try not to sit here like a harbinger of doom. I am sorry. I’m aware I may hurt you. We co-exist in a growing cloud of tension. I can see in your eyes of judgement your invisible, yet tangible incomprehension.