One of my early memories is from when I was... four? Maybe five? Anyway, I'd spent the day at this older couple's place. I don't remember why I was there, maybe they'd been babysitting me or whatever. But during my stay there, I ate a cookie. A cookie which contained almonds. This seems like such an insignificant, pointless detail, doesn't it? And in a sane world it would have been. A triviality, a mere trifle. But sanity is scarce in this vale of tears, and it just so happens that almonds were on that long list of (sometimes biochemically impossible) things my mother had decided I was supposed to be allergic to, in addition to the severe asthma I never actually had. Fast forward a bit. I was at home, in our kitchen. My mother had found out that I'd eaten almonds. And there I was, brazenly defying her narrative by not displaying any symptoms. So what did she do? That time, she used what I now suspect was acetone or alcohol. Claimed it was medicine. Used it as eye drops. And as my eyes burned and I screamed in pain she said that what I was experiencing was an allergic reaction to almonds. Of course, my sister fared no whit better. She was "allergic to milk", you see. Acetone or alcohol again. Rub it on the bends of a child's arms and you get the kind of red, weeping sores that makes a kid have to wear bandages. Right. So this kind of abuse went on for years, unchecked and unimpeded. Eventually, I guess making us sick didn't provide mommy dearest with the requisite amount of narcissistic supply, so like any human-gone-monster before her she drifted in the direction of her weaknesses and upped the ante a bit. In 1995, when I was 10, she claimed she had cancer. And man, it was the kind of performance that could teach fucking Daniel Day-Lewis a thing or two about method acting. For heaven's sake, she even shaved off her eyebrows. For more than a year, I thought my mother was going to die from cancer. This is pretty rough on you when you are a kid. Learning in the fall of '96 that she never had cancer, and indeed had used her supposed "treatments" as a cover to do every drug under the sun and put us in crippling debt did not come as a relief. And the fights at home! Why could dad not do the sane thing and divorce her immediately? Why did social services think it a good idea we still have contact with her? Why another year of absolute shit? No, of course it had to escalate to the point where, the day Princess Diana died, I was in the back seat during one of their epic rows, holding on to my mother for dear life as she was trying to jump out of the car that was traveling at like 90 km/h. Of course I had to be scarred on that day too. Who would have thought Munchausen syndrome could be so much fun?