Fallacy is my long winded answer.
There is a lot in this one, so I will explain. The first step was realising that the responsibility that I felt, was, in essence a fallacy. I should not have felt it. It was an untruth that I had been told; I was now responsible for others. An untruth that I was not able to see for the lie that it was, as I was eleven years old at the time.
As I grew, I began to see the untruth that lay in the notion of responsibility. However, it still had an impact on my life, as would any lie told to a child during the formative years. It is too late to go back and live a different life, but it is time to heal. Come with me as I explain the lie that I was told.
With little thought for children, the children, a child, me - many adults, touting words of wisdom, stepped in soon after my mother's death. They stepped in to help our father, my father. They did not step in to help us. It was he who now needed help. It was he who was now burdened with four children. It was he who had lost a lover, wife, partner. It was up to his offspring, whom he didn't really know at all, to ensure that this burden did not become too great.
How is it that children can be asked this? It is a random thought, thrown out into the world. Out of sight, out of mind.
"Your mother is dead; it is your responsibility to take on her role."
Words. Abstract, tainted words. Repeated over and over again.
And so I did.
The words, the role itself - silenced freedom, silenced play, silenced childhood fantasies inspired by Enid Blyton and the Magic Faraway Tree.
What would you have done in my situation? Would you have refused? Does an eleven year old have the option to refuse?
There is no choice. The only option is acceptance, and what an unbelievable burden that is.
It was a betrayal, an expected role for the eldest daughter to take. Willingly accepted by my father, but given to me by adult females who should have known better.
What right did they have to cripple a family so? What right did they have to perpetuate the archaic principles of care; that only a woman is able to do a job like that so well.
It was a tainted gift. One that I was expected to nurture, and, when the time seemed right, pass down to the next in line. How opportune that the stately position of the Monarch can be passed from Father to Son, but the lowly considered nurturing role from female to female! To think that the Suffragettes worked so hard for equality, for the vote; the irony being that it is women who work so hard to undo.
I especially like the image, 'Gilt-edged maternal instinct'. Firstly, for the fallacy that it turned out to be. Trussed up as something wonderful. Yet, like a sword, it had the ability to cut a life in two. I was particularly excited to find that the word 'gilt' also refers to a female pig who has not borne a litter. Quite an apt little pun, and I enjoyed the phrase all the more because of that.
So ... who am I responsible for? It has taken a long time for me to learn that I am only responsible for me.
Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment on the poetry (it might be a little easier now that it is less cryptic).