I don’t know you as well as L, but I think we know you quite well by now. I don’t know when you managed to ingratiate yourself into my daughter’s life. It feels as if you circled her for a while, watching her. Seeing her inner self doubt, her need for approval and her drive and determination to do well, to be better. I know now that it wasn’t my fault, that I didn’t let you in by a lack of attention or not being enough of a good mother. I know now that you entered her brain, but by doing that you have taken over so much of her personality. You have smothered her laughter and whispered poison in her ear, telling her she can be so much better if she just does as you ask. The happiness you promise is never here, but always over there, just another half stone away. The journey to this happiness is signposted by each jutting bone, the sagging clothes, the shrinking, yawning emptiness inside. Yet, like the horizon, it never appears, it is always just over the next hill, around the next corner.
I know you don’t just prey on girls, but what is it about those you select? Is it how clever they are, or how kind and thoughtful? Is it how hard they work or the way they put others before themselves. Or is it just random, but each of your conquests is loved in different ways for their strengths and individual personalities. I know that L will say in your early days together, she felt special and for the first time she liked herself. And what I find bizarre is that she needed you to do that. She has always been special and beautiful, loved by so many of us. Perhaps you take particular pride in those who are described by their loved ones as the last person they expected to fall under your spell? These are strong, capable young women and you have broken them and made them subject to your will rather than their own.
You promise happiness, but deliver misery, isolation and hopelessness. I try my best to reach L, but so often she is just out of arms reach. I hold her as tightly as I can, but you are there, inside her head. You are like the school bully at the gate of every meal and you hurl abuse and insults as L braves every mouthful. You know I cannot hear you and I know I need to hold L’s hand and help her to keep walking past you and that each time she does, your voice may grow a little bit quieter. But it is so slow, like water wearing away granite. At times we are so exhausted, that both of us think it might be better to try and find an accommodation with you, to try and live with you as best we can. But this is a war of attrition against a terrorist who is holding my daughter hostage and it will never be possible to reach a settlement with you. There are no words to describe the hatred I feel for you, which lives along the equally intense love I have for L, but know this; I will never give in, I will never stop fighting to get her back. I resent each and every day you steal from her and from all of us. I am angry at the days, months and years you have stolen from so many others, who are every bit as special, as talented and as clever as L. Please go and never return.