The Power of Mind.

 

As everybody else tucks into their mince pies and mulled wine, I have spent the last week wondering why my horrific nightmares have returned. I haven’t dreamt this way since living with my abuser and even in times of the worst stress, I have been able to wake myself up from these nightmares. However, recent nights have not allowed me to do that. Instead, I endure the horror and wake distraught, confused and panicked.

Only last week I dreamt my father attacked me and woke up suddenly, clinging to my wrist, letting out a jumble of frightened words.

I was convinced my wrist hurt for the rest of the day. How long had I been holding it? Long enough to hurt myself? Maybe. The fear, but the fear was so intense.

My father was never physically violent to me. I use the word physically specifically as there is such thing as emotional violence. He did that all the time. He never hit or slapped me. He didn’t throw things at me. Yet he would spit on the floor beside me as he called me a filthy pig and he would kick over a rammed dustbin to remind me it needed emptying.

Nothing was ever direct. How wrong of me for wishing it was.

He would not give me that. Physical violence would have been a privilege for me as he often stated. I did not deserve an ending to my “misery” with him, he would mock – he often joked about my life knowing he was the cause.

I dream the most horrible of things. Frightening, sadistic, gut-wrenching.

Some nightmares of the past will never be forgotten. The moments where I woke in the night dreaming that my father had slit my throat and I had witnessed my own death. The dreams where I see myself lying in a coffin with ligatures around my neck or that I cannot breathe as I sleep. Those dreams haunt me.

When most things are certainly better in my life, there is a great deal of other stresses to contend with at the moment. Things my husband and I cannot avoid and although we are supporting each other, times are tough. Mentally it’s tough.

It is something I cannot openly talk about on here with fear of who may read it but be sure, I will express what we are going through over the next few months as sadly, I do not believe we will be free of it for a while but when we are, well, god I pray these nightmares disappear.

The mind is magical. When you think you are coping, it shows you in ways you cannot expect that you aren’t. Positive thinking and all that jumbo is fine, but really all I want is freedom. I can deal with life stresses – what life runs without lows, troubles or faults? I just cannot deal with surprises, tricks, manipulation. I should not have to any more.

I should not have to dream of a man who tortured me so badly.

He is dead and gone and I should be free.

 

 

I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell My Friends.

I cannot believe I am waving a sad yet sweet goodbye to my fellow bloggers and supporters of freefromhim, my beloved blog for the last twenty months.

It was a difficult decision but as I am now looking forward and moving towards recovery, I feel that the blog has done the job it intended to do. Now, with the ever-progressing pregnancy and new changes in my life, I feel it is the right time to close the chapter on this blog.

I have decided on a date to say goodbye. I can only hazard a guess that baby will be born on it’s actual due date – the 10th November however it is more than likely that baby will be the only one to decide when it needs to come out! Thus, when it does and when I return home to show you all our little beauty, that will be the date I will post my last post.

For the next fourteen or so weeks, I will continue to blog current and old news. I will re-blog some of the most memorable, life-changing and poignant posts I have written especially the ones that gained the biggest reactions or the most support.

I am so grateful for what this blog has done.

I was hesitant to start it and sadly, was faced with many a negative comment along my journey, some highly derogatory and condescending. Others, just plain ignorant. I do not regret anything I have written about. It was my choice and my words of a past and truth that existed, it happened and as much as many haters will deny it, my father was my abuser.

Closure is what I set out to find and closure is what I have got.

No longer am I angry.
No longer am I hurt.

He is dead and long gone and has no way of hurting me now.
Although my family is no way repaired (the emotional bruises of the last thirty years are still incredibly apparent) and even though there are issues still to be resolved, I feel ten times more stronger than I did at the beginning of my journey.

Undoubtedly, that is due to the immense and loyal support from my friends and fellow bloggers. Your faith and compassion has surpassed my expectations.

So thank you.

Without you, my faith in humanity would have disappeared entirely.

Of course, I am not vanishing completely from WordPress. As I mentioned in ‘Biting the Bullet’ post of late, I will be setting up a lifestyle/fashion blog in the next few months (possibly on my maternity leave when moving around becomes limited!) so PLEASE follow me there and stay with me on my new journey.

Life is precious and my god does it fly by. He took thirty years of my life. He controlled, abused and manipulated all the time we had together. I do not plan to live the rest of my life with him in my thoughts. They do not deserve that. They do not deserve an ounce of our time or a second in our minds.

We must remain free.
Free from them.

Quintet of Radiance Award.

Thank you to Amy over at sweetmarie9619.wordpress.com/‎  for this nomination. Again! Words fail me as I am bowled over by her support.

abc-award

inner-peace-award

most-influential-blogger

sunshine-award

versatile-blogger-nominations

So here I am describing myself through each letter of the alphabet as told, this won’t be easy to be so positive about myself! But I will accept the challenge:

Assertive

British

Creative

Dreamer

Emotional

Fashionable

Genuine

Hot

Idealistic

Jokey

Kind

Loving

Motherly

Non-violent

Observant

Positive

Quiet

Relaxed

Short

True

Unbiased

Vibrant

Womanly

eXotic (Ha ha! Cheat!)

Yearning

Zesty

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My nominations are:

http://illicitbynature.com

http://armyofangels2013.wordpress.com

http://teensurvivorofdomesticviolence.wordpress.com

http://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Flirtation VS Assault.

After posting “A Very Different World” last week (about the short French film that focused on a total role reversal and challenged viewers’ preconceptions on sexual predators and abuse) I began a discussion with my mother around the subject of ‘boundary breaking’. I am no prude. I’ve always been known as flirtatious. However, I – as many women do – have boundaries. I have personal lines that should not be crossed especially when it comes to the opposite sex.

I posted a comment on my blog detailing an incident that happened to me at the beginning of the year. I told another blogger how that on my way to meet a friend for an evening drink, I fell into a difficult situation. During the winter months in Britain, it tends to get dark around four in the afternoon. I left home at six so it was pitch black. At the end of my road is a little corner shop which slightly lights that part of the street. Outside the shop stood two men. They seemed young but I could not tell their age immediately. I was not dressed provocatively. I was covered up in a very warm coat. I was not expecting them to behave the way they did. Both men were wearing hooded tops. Their faces could barely be seen. They were both standing blocking the path. I felt wary as I approached them. Striding past, a strong and overwhelming gust of marijuana flew past me. Both men were smoking in plain view. Within seconds, they began making kissing noises at me with one even muttering something (I only caught him saying “darling”). I looked up but continued walking. Worryingly, I missed my bus and had to continue walking to the next bus stop which happened to be a bit of a distance away.

I began to feel nervous.

I practically sprinted to the next bus stop. Was it wrong to feel so anxious?

As I approached the dimly lit bus stop I looked back. I was happy to see no one was behind me. I was now by the side of a busy, main road. Cars were rushing by. Surely I would be safe. However, after a couple of minutes, one of the men appeared. Horrified, I stepped out of the dark bus shelter and closer to the busy road; it was the only way to be seen. The man stared at me as he passed by. I tried not to catch his gaze.  Relieved that he had walked by, I started to relax. That was until he decided to turn back. With darkness as his cover, he approached me.

“What’s your name?” He asked abruptly.

I answered. I couldn’t be rude in fear of what he might do. There were many bushes around. He could have easily dragged me into one if I dared to insult him. So I was polite.

“Give me your number,” he ordered in a monotone voice. How he thought this was seductive or appealing I’ll never know.

“No!” I answered jokingly, trying not to show my fear.

“You have got a tight little ass haven’t you,” he said, biting his lip and staring at my behind.

That was it. The words that made me worried but what could I do?

“Let me take you out.”

“You can’t. I’m married.”

“And?”

That is not the first time a man has responded that way when I have replied that I am not single. It is completely disgusting.

Just then, my bus came. Relief can not even begin to describe my feelings. I can honestly say, I have never been so pleased to see a bus in my life.

If that can happen at six in the afternoon then imagine if it was ten at night. I can’t believe that people feel they can say whatever they want to whoever they want! Have some boundaries! What gives someone the right to speak so inappropriately to me, to make me feel like a piece of meat? When does flirtation cross into assault?

My mother told me about a time when she visited New York back in the seventies. She went and stayed with my father’s brother and wife. On a day trip out, whilst walking alone through the Bronx, a man passed by and casually assaulted her, he then walked off again as though he had done nothing. Horrified, my mother ignored it with the fear that speaking out to her brother-law would be met with ridicule. Alone in a big city, it was inconceivable to find help and admit such a derogatory incident.

I just cannot comprehend something like that.

I have flirted with men in nightclubs before, I cannot deny that I have not been physically flirtatious but we all know the unspoken lines. I would not grab a man by his crotch yet why have I had a man attempt to put his hand up my skirt before? Did I invite that? Was I dancing too provocatively? Some people might agree to that. Isn’t that the excuse of rapists, that she was deliberately trying to turn me on or she shouldn’t have been wearing such seductive clothing.

Why is it becoming more and more acceptable to behave this way?

Chapter 1, Part 1.

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.

Self-indulgent Bullshit.

Luckily on WordPress there are filters. Thankfully – there are filters. Unfortunately, you may attract some haters, people that are looking to make a point, to insult and patronise. People who believe they know what counts as “abuse”, that it is as black and white as being slapped across the face. Well it isn’t. I may have not suffered physical violence. I may not have been slapped across the face. However, unless you yourself has suffered from abuse, you cannot dare to comment on what I have been through. To the rude man who decided to comment on my last post, my life, my past is just that. It is mine. If you do not agree with it then do not read it. I am not playing a victim. I do not want that label. I set out on my own journey last year and I do not have to justify it to you – a total stranger. You clearly have no idea what emotional abuse is.

My photos are only a small element of my past. I am not ungrateful for having a life. Everyone is ‘allowed’ to look back. I do not compare myself to anyone else. I am not belittling other’s abuse nor am I expecting anyone’s sympathy or “pity” as you so kindly say. Other survivors on WordPress have been incredibly supportive. They (having experienced it themselves) understand. They can see through the darkness. YOU however, will remain hidden from the light in your miserable little world, looking for someone to attack and criticise for your own personal gain.

Perhaps you have been abused yourself. I hope not. I do not wish that on anyone.

My photos are a part of my old life. My “basic human right” was to eat, not to have a cooker. Clearly that needed to be spelled out to you. Of course food is a human right and obviously there are many people in this world who cannot access that. I am not comparing myself to them. I am born and bred in the Western world. My life would always have been different to theirs abuse or no abuse.

My father had a history of abuse. He terrorised my mother for thirty years. He was a very generous man, so generous that not only did he emotionally abuse her, he battered her too! The man was clever, he learnt his lessons, he never touched me. How lucky for me (!) You are a weak human being. A troll. You do not know me yet you feel free to, behind your computer shielded from view, manipulate my words and condemn my truth. Good luck on your quest to break someone. You haven’t succeeded here.

Now tell me WordPress readers, from the rudeness of this stranger:

Am I “undermining the voices of the real victims of abuse”?

Oh and cheers for your bright and breezy comment that my life is “self-indulgent bullshit”. You really are a pleasant man.

We appreciate frankness from those who like us. Frankness from others is called insolence.
Andre Maurois

Photo 6 – How am I not dead?

At the end of 2013, I began a photographic story showing the state of the home I lived in with my father. I received many responses to these pictures. Mostly reactions of horror from people I know, who never really knew the extent of the conditions we lived in. They had never been witness to it. My father was very clever at disguising certain parts of the house and his dangerous eccentricities and careless nature were always well hidden. Friends and family were only allowed in the showy and presentable parts of the house. I however, saw the truth every day.

The kitchen was one of the worse rooms. It also happened to be the largest room in the house much to my father’s happiness (he saw it as his domain). Guests who visited always commented on how big it was; he loved that. But what if they had looked closer? Would they have seen the dirty and crumb filled toaster from,

(See My filthy life – Photo 3)

would they have stepped into our adjoining garage and discovered his hoarding obsession?

(See My father the hoarder – Photo 2)

Would they have walked around and seen the state of the cooker? A piece of kitchen equipment that I used every day living at home with my father. An appliance that I could not do without. An essential aid to making my life as normal as possible, something that would bring me sustenance and provide me with a basic human right. But what if that appliance was spoiled, unhygienic, unsanitary and rank? What if you were forced to use a machine that hadn’t been cleaned for ten years? It was another task my father had placed in my list of chores to do. A list that went up to eighty four. A mental list that I never lost count of and never completed. My father refused to help in any way. It was not his job. It was MY fault it got into that state and MY responsibility to resolve the tainted problem. Except it was too much for me. He gained so much enjoyment watching me on my hands and knees scrubbing his precious kitchen. I could not stand the humiliation and fearing the examination of my work after.

Why did I ever let myself live like this?

I mean, how am I not dead?

Image

Dictionary.com

un·san·i·tar·y

[uhn-san-i-ter-ee]  Show IPA

adjective

not sanitary; unhealthy or unhealthful; tending to harbor or spreaddisease: unsanitary living conditions.

What a “victim” will often hear.

I say “victim” in inverted commas as I detest the word. I have made the point several times, that we are survivors. Inspired by a video posted on YouTube by an emotional abuse sufferer, I have created my own list of what an abuser’s prey can often be subjected to. Many of these were thrown at me on a daily basis. One on their own does not seem so bad but for many people, they are constantly tormented and cannot escape this abuse. Sarcasm, questioning and indifference play a huge part in verbal and mental abuse.

  • I am worth a million of you
  • Remind me why you were born?
  • You are disgusting
  • I can’t believe my child is a moron
  • What did I do to deserve you?
  • My life used to be good
  • I should have stopped having children after your sister
  • What’s wrong with your face?
  • Be very careful
  • I’m watching you
  • You will never change
  • Idiot!
  • Here come the tears (!)
  • Grow up
  • You really are a pathetic creature
  • Why has God punished me?
  • I say this out of love
  • Why do you always hurt me?
  • Your words are like poison
  • You break everything you touch
  • No one likes you
  • What man would want to marry you!
  • I do not owe you any apologies
  • You brought it all on yourself
  • There used to be a nice person inside you
  • You want me to get angry don’t you
  • I’m your father, I don’t have to respect you
  • I am the authority
  • You are going to drive your future husband to violence – and who can blame him?
  • You embarrass me
  • I’m ashamed to call you my child
  • People are staring at you
  • When I die, you’ll get nothing
  • This isn’t your house; it’s mine
  • Everything you own is mine
  • What are you moaning about now?
  • All you ever do is lie
  • You dare to push me
  • Are you challenging me?
  • Pig!
  • You are always ill!
  • What is wrong with you?
  • I do not deserve this life
  • If I catch you even looking at me………….
  • You will be the reason I die early, probably from a heart attack
  • Are you throwing all that food away?
  • Get out
  • You only ever think about yourself
  • You are evil
  • GET OUT OF MY HOUSE
  • You are just like your mother
  • I am really going to lose my temper
  • It’s your fault I’m angry
  • Where is my apology?
  • Well?
  • Are you stupid?
  • Move
  • Where have you been?
  • Why are you crying, are you a baby?
  • You are a failure
  • Are you trying to kill me?!
  • Even your voice irritates me
  • Think before you speak
  • I’ll never hit you. You’d love that.
  • What is your problem?
  • Imbecile!
  • Even your friends hate you

Of course this list is endless. I could write a thousand more.

Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Self-help hater.

I confess it. I am a self-help hater. I have never been a fan of being given “advice” on how to be a better me. I prefer to analyse myself and be the one who gives the guidance. It stems from my father’s love of self-help books (a point I have blogged about previously). He needed instruction on how to live his life, without these books’ direction, he would not have been able to make decisions or create values. They were fundamental to who he was and detrimental to the power he possessed. It was a source of control. He used the messages in these books to dictate and order me around, to degrade my life choices and look down his nose at me. He would see it as “knowledge”. I can’t tell you how many clichés he threw at me. His favourite was “knowledge is power”. I read. Just not enough and I certainly did not read the books he was recommending. I did not want to “improve” myself. As a young adult, I was only discovering who I was. He hated that and attempted to crush and contain any self-exploration that I tried to seek.

It’s not that I am unwilling to look deeper into the depths of my character; I am. I just want to do it on my terms. I have sought out help before but through a legitimate path by seeing a counsellor. She gave me questions and ideas to think about so that I could journey through the past and present consciously to improve and develop my future.

Self-help books and ideas aid many people. I can understand that. However, I choose not to follow my life by what someone else is telling me to do.

Today, I was subjected to a little self-help. In a discussion, comments were made about regret. Someone noted a quote that spoke of how we tend to regret the things we haven’t done and not the things we have. True. Sometimes. This is a very general and broad statement. One that many people seemed to agree with. I can’t.

I don’t totally disagree of course, but life isn’t that black and white. Some of my biggest regrets in life are the big choices I have made. The biggest regret being my foolish decision to live with my father aged sixteen. The choice that upturned and capsized my life. The choice that handed my abusive parent the reins to control and mentally torture me. I regret staying with him for so long. Twelve years! I regret not fighting sooner and accepting my pathetic life. I regret so much that I chose to do.

I am not a risk taker.

I can’t imagine doing some of the things I long to do. I believe in responsibilities. I am not frivolous. Perhaps that is a bad thing. Perhaps I should be more spontaneous. Except I hate surprises. In twenty years time, I am certain I will have regrets. Not huge, life-changing ones but ones where I should have taken that holiday to the Caribbean or treated myself to that expensive bag I had been lusting after. I do not mind those regrets, they are the regrets that keep us human.

Life cannot be so straightforward nor can it be peaceful and effortless at all times. I am not saying I want a depressing and bumpy journey! I just understand that shit happens and we need to be ready to face it when it comes our way.

I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.
Katharine Hepburn

Too right! How anyone can say they do not regret a choice they have made is beyond me. How an earth can you ever repent, learn or forgive?

Boxing Day revelations.

I mentioned in my last post that my mother had seemed out of sorts on Christmas day and that on Boxing day, her reasons were very much revealed.

It was what I had predicted.

A few days before Christmas, my mother received an envelope in the post. The label had been printed on so it was not clear who it was from. My mother however, instantly knew. I had no idea this envelope had arrived. My mother had kept it out of my sight. I hate secrets so was frustrated to find out she had deliberately hidden it from me. I understand why though. It would’ve played on my mind all Christmas if she had revealed it earlier.

On Boxing Day as my mother chatted about how my she missed her sister’s daughter’s child that she had spent so much time with in India, I began talking about my nephew – my sister’s son and how much I miss him. Memories filled my mind, memories of him as a baby, drooling and smiling at me. He was beautiful. He was kept from me and I have barely seen him in the last four years. My sister has taken away that basic right and for no clear reason. Her anger and hatred for my mother four years ago grew into immense anger and hatred for me. I was getting closer to Ma. I was trying to get as far away from my father. She was always my mother too. Why I had to “compete” for her affection I’ll never know. A mother’s love should be unconditional. As should a father. But my father held conditions on his love. Conditions and expectations that I could never reach. Only one person met his expectations – my sister.

“Something came you know,” uttered my mother as she listened to me reminisce.

My heart dropped. I understood immediately what she meant.

“Well let me see it,” I needed to see it.

She brought out the envelope and handed it to me explaining that it arrived a few days back. I was horrified that this had been a secret. That she kept it private. I no longer want to be kept in the dark, to be the last person to discover shocks and be told that I have to accept them.

As I opened it, a card fell out. Within that card lay several photos of my nephew and the niece I have only ever seen once (at my father’s hospital bed where my sister told him that her daughter “does not go to strangers” as he handed my niece to me). I couldn’t believe my eyes at how much he had grown. It was beautiful and devastating at the same time. I tried not to let my emotion show. As I looked at the card I saw my sister’s handwriting. Her words were affectionate towards my mother. To a stranger’s eyes you would believe that this mother and daughter had a lovely relationship; close even. That of course is not the case. My mother and sister are strangers too. My sister estranged herself four years ago from my mother. She sent an appalling letter documenting lies about her. Lies that my mother accepted.

Was it an olive branch? Was she reaching out? Maybe. I won’t be too negative. Perhaps she genuinely wants her mother back in her life. There is no way that I would stand in the way of that but why be so distant and ignore her for the past four years. At my father’s funeral last year, my sister blanked my mother. Her husband ignored the both of us. That is not the behaviour of a person who wants to make amends.

I am suspicious. I have every right to be.

I have warned my mother that I cannot go through it all again. In 2004, at the end of the year my sister got married, something changed in her. Anger consumed her and it became increasingly difficult to say the right thing around her. I especially grated on her. She will forever look at me as a teenager. A view that is distorted. That opinion will never change. She holds no respect for me as an adult or a woman. The few years that followed were an emotional nightmare. My mother attempted to bend and bow to my sister’s commands but she never met her expectations. Sounds familiar right? So my sister eventually cut her out of her life and within a year or so, she had walked straight back into my abuser’s life.

My father’s prodigal daughter had returned.

She is my mother’s prodigal daughter too. I worry and fear for the future. I can never match their relationship. I have no longing to. Their relationship was unhealthy and suffocating. I do not want that to happen to our relationship.

I had hoped 2014 would be a new start. Where the past would not return and I could move forward.

Now I’m not so sure.