Nikki Eernisse grew up with parents who could not take good care of her. Nikki’s mother Karin suffers from Borderline personality disorder and her father does not play a major role in her life. Documentary maker Monique Nolte followed the family for 6 years. In Humberto On Sunday mother and daughter tell about this period, in which psychological problems played a major role.
Nikki is only 11 years old when she is first filmed. Now, six years later, the young woman looks back on this turbulent period with mixed feelings. “I have long ignored the things that happened at home. I no longer live at home. When I saw the documentary, I was already out of the house and then I suddenly thought: wow. I’ve never looked at it that way at all. It’s put in a very different perspective.”
Nikki’s mother is struggling with psychological problems
One of the scenes in Humberto on Sunday preview shows how Nikki wakes her mother. For example, the 11-year-old daughter makes a cup of coffee for Karin, makes breakfast and walks the dog. But after several attempts to get her mother out of bed, Nikki is unable to pull it off. “I see things now that I didn’t see then,” Karin says about the scene.
Not only does Karin struggle with borderline, but also with depression. “That moment, at that time, I was really deep. I was also convinced that I was not a good mother and that she would be better off somewhere else. That has been quite a struggle, because I love her dearly too. I really wanted to be everything, but I didn’t quite know how. (..) I was not living, I was surviving.”
‘Nobody bothered to listen to my story’
Nikki is not the only one growing up in an unstable family. In the Netherlands, approximately 600,000 children grow up with parents who suffer from psychological problems or addictions. By making a film about the situation of Nikki and Karin, Nolte wanted to take a look at the unique relationship between parent and child. “That bond can be incredibly beautiful, but it can also be damaging. I was fascinated to see what it’s like for a child when a parent can’t take care of you so well,” says the documentary maker.
An alarming fact is that 65 percent of children who grow up in families with psychological and/or addiction problems may struggle with similar problems later in life. “In a lot of situations, there was no place to express myself,” says Nikki. “Adults looked down on me like that 11-year-old girl who knows nothing about the world. But my upbringing was very different. No one bothered to listen to my story. And I think this is where a lot of things went wrong.”
Strong bond between Nikki and mother despite everything
Nikki, now 17, is doing well. “The film helped a lot with that. I was finally able to fully understand where my own problems come from. That way I can work well on it.” Despite everything, the bond between Nikki and her mother Karin is strong. “We have always been a team.” The beautiful words of Nikki do not leave Karin untouched. “I have a very low self-esteem,” says Karin, while she is handed a handkerchief by Humberto. “It’s nice to see that she was able to see through it.”
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