As many have asked, here are the first three chapters of my autobiography. I hope this gives you further insight into my past and allows you to understand the effect of emotional abuse. This chapter highlights the beginning and where my childhood became tainted with lies, hate and anger. My story is the truth about what happened through my eyes. Abuse comes in many forms, sometimes you are witness to it but mostly, it is well hidden, among families you’d think were perfect. That’s why it’s so clever, so frightening, so sad.
THE EARLY YEARS
He just couldn’t take it anymore. The screams of abuse and hatred bounced off the walls and I watched as my father removed himself from the anger. Calmly, he walked into the living room. The barrage of screaming continued from the kitchen but it could not be seen. The stairs were my haven, just safe enough to not be noticed but somewhere I could witness everything. I should have been sheltered from it, but instead, I was consumed by it.
I followed him in but with much more haste. I was frightened of them both. They were wild animals at times, ready to rip my father apart. It was terrifying. I closed the hallway door first then the living room door (putting up these obstacles was my only way to keep them out).
He was sat on the sofa with his head lowered. There was no emotion; he was silent. I did what any daughter would do, I comforted my father. Patting my gentle palm on his back I spoke,
“Don’t worry Daddy, I’m here. Don’t be upset, it’s okay Daddy, you’ll be okay”.
My reassuring, almost parental words began the break in his boundaries.
“What would I do without you? You are such a good daughter. You always know how to make me feel better darling”.
The first sign of emotion was let out since the whole drama began. I had made my father cry. My mother’s violent words and my sister’s vicious screams had not provoked the slightest amount of feeling from him but I, a fourteen year old girl, did.
It was his first mistake. I now felt indebted to my father’s happiness.
It was once very different.
My early childhood was filled with moments like this, moments that merge into one. My parents’ hate for each other was consuming. Looking back, all I can see was anger. Occasionally there would be flickers of a normal life and I would convince myself that we were just a typical, ‘normal’ family. Nobody goes through life without problems, no marriage is smooth; I would find any excuse to justify our lives were normal.
Although I never actually saw any violence between them, I knew it existed.
I never saw what love was. They never touched.
Once, on a Mother’s day just after my eighth birthday, I remember dragging my father into my mother’s bedroom (they’d been sleeping in separate rooms since I was born) and physically making him hold her. He may’ve given her a small peck but I can’t be sure I didn’t imagine it. My mother cried. I didn’t understand that. But I do now; she was crying out of hope, a non-existent hope that he might change.
I certainly saw what hate was. My mother detested my father and as I thought he was a hero, I resented her. She and my sister had the closest of bonds. I could not see how a mother could favour one daughter over another or how she could open her heart to my sister but leave it closed to me. I never knew how my mother truly felt about my father until later. She never spoke to me. She had my sister. I craved her love and attention but never received what I ached for. Instead my father was there, smothering me with all the attention I could want. I regularly vented my frustrations to him about them. He should have taken this as an opportunity to piece the family back together but to him this was the crucial time to tear it apart.
We became two sides of a very unhealthy team, each ganging up on the other when all I wanted was to be united. In my eyes my mother did not love me. I gradually became hypnotised by my father’s abundant lifestyle and deluded version of love. Slowly my mother and I drifted further apart. She could not break the barrier he had enclosed around me. I had trapped myself in his love, believing he was true to his promises and trusting him as any daughter would trust their father.
My relationship with my mother and sister only worsened as I grew older. I became as they described a “spoilt, selfish brat”. I was not a rebel; I never acted “wild” although they often accused me of it. I just wasn’t my sister. She was my mother’s confidante, she listened to her. She was quiet, academic, intelligent and dependable. I, on the other hand, was a loose cannon. My mood swings fluctuated daily, I was irritable and wound up by their presence. I seemed to love drama and allowed it to follow me around. At least in some way I was still a part of their life, I wasn’t shut out completely. I just wanted her to notice me.
During these years my father did the unthinkable. He spent all his energy convincing me I was unloved by my mother and sister. He would tell me openly if he heard them criticise or insult me, every day there was something new to tell me. As I walked in from school, he would beckon me to his room to discuss the events of his day and what he had heard. The door would be locked of course.
I didn’t realise the signs but my mother always had deep concerns. In her eyes he showed evidence of abuse very early on.
He always crossed boundaries and saw nothing wrong in doing so. Not just with me but also with my sister. His touch, his kiss, nothing felt right, it was always too affectionate. I always felt uncomfortable and that he was crossing a forbidden line. But I could never voice this, not back then anyway.