"Go to hell," she shouted, stomping to the front door and slamming it behind her.
My 14-year-old daughter Sophie* had just told me she wasn't going to clean up her room before school, that she was sick of me telling her what to do, and that she didn't know what time she'd be home because maybe she wanted to hang out with her friends, and why did I think it was my business anyway.
Then she left to catch the train, a full hour and a half before I was going to drive her in to school. What she would do with all that spare time before the first bell, I don't know, but she took her school bag and strode purposefully out of my house, a tiny dark storm cloud following her all the way.
Sophie has been yelling at me a fair bit lately. It's irritating and I'd love it if she'd speak politely and do as she was told, but I'm also quietly thrilled. (I should say, in her defence, she's usually polite and helpful around the house – these outbursts are merely that: outbursts.)
But during those outbursts, she's acting like a regular teenager.For two years now, Sophie has been in therapy. She self harms, she has eating disorders, she is on medication for depression and anxiety, and she has also made an attempt on her own life.
As a parent, it's been torture to stand by and watch Sophie suffer. I've taken her to psychiatrists and psychologists and school counsellors, I've driven her to the hospital at times I felt she was in serious danger of hurting herself, and I've read voraciously trying to find something I could do to help her.
Sophie has turned every negative emotion she has and turned it in on herself. Whenever she'd come up against a challenge, she'd be convinced it was her fault. She's been relentlessly bullied at school, but never fought back. Instead, she would come home and cut herself, or make herself throw up – feeling like she deserved everything she got.
She thinks she's weird. She thinks she's bad. She thinks she's always wrong.
But lately something has shifted within Sophie. She's started to turn those negative feelings outwards. She's starting to realise that maybe she's not always the problem.
It hasn't been an easy transition though. Sophie has become more vocal and challenging at home, she's been accused of having an attitude by some of her teachers, and she's even gotten herself into a fight at school, leading to a suspension.
I imagine if life with Sophie had been "normal", I'd be tearing my hair out about these developments, but instead I see a tiny light that has come on behind Sophie's eyes. I see her spark returning.
She's not there yet, and I still want her to learn to communicate her feelings more effectively, and with more sensitivity, but for now, I love seeing her push back. I love seeing her standing up for herself. And I love seeing a bright future ahead of her.
* The author has chosen to remain anonymous to protect her daughter's privacy.