Before I was born.

From what I hear, this was a decent time for the rest of my family. Although my parents did not have the best relationship, their hatred was not as magnified as it later became. My sister has fond memories of this time; the eight years before I was born.

The family took holidays together and spent time socialising, it seemed happier. That’s not to say there were not problems. My father was incredibly abusive to my mother behind closed doors and bang in front of open ones too. My sister was definitely a witness to the fights and abuse. Overall however, it was nothing like it would become.

My mother’s desperation for a second child was the catalyst in ripping the family apart. My father did not want me, he made that very clear to her but she longed for another baby. This obvious desperation only exaggerated his despise for her, he hated weakness in people. What’s a natural feeling for a woman was a weakness to him. He would never understand that feeling, a want to love, a longing to pour love into someone.

To give love, you need to feel love.

Eight years is a big gap between siblings. My mother was pregnant before having me but sadly lost her previous babies. He wasn’t there to support her through that. Instead he berated her and used it as another way to criticise her. He was moody and implied to her that he was not responsible for the loss of her child. He was that much of a narcissist that it had to be all about him! His love for her had faded and there was no respect. Within days of returning from the hospital my father was giving my mother demands. The want for a second child only amplified.

As my mother edged towards her 40th birthday her second daughter was born three weeks early.

He seemed happy – at least for a while.

The personal rights we forget we deserve.

You and I have the right to:

  1. put my needs first – there are times in our lives where we have every right to be selfish. It is our life after all. It is essential that we have concerns and care for ourselves. Within reason, we need to be selfish in order to be happy.
  2. be treated with respect – I spend most of my time worrying about how I treat everyone else that I forget I deserve the same treatment. For years I feared my father who demanded constant respect. I associated the word with him and that there was no justification for me to get it. I know now that I deserve it too, I deserved it all along. Respect is a basic right.
  3. express my feelings whatever they may be – Anger, hurt, sadness, fear, happiness: I have the right to feel these things and not have to justify them when I do.
  4. say NO – If and when I need to, this is an essential right for me, one that I am only just getting to grips with, one that will take more time to develop but one that I hope will strengthen in me. Someone called me a “walkover” recently. It hurt me. I am not a walkover or a pushover. I have a soul and I have rights and I do not appreciate being perceived in that way.
  5. have opinions and values – they count. They are relevant and as important as yours. They are mine and should not be dismissed at any whim. I am a woman with a mind. Accept it.
  6. not take on other people’s problems – A very significant right. At times, we want to and will be there for others. That may be part of our character but like anything else, we have rights to refuse this when it becomes too much. Mentally, there is only so much a person can take on. Other people’s problem bring a new stress into our lives, we worry and fear for them, we become consumed by their issues often neglecting our own. It seems selfish and unkind but this is not a right that we demand constantly. I have spent hours listening to the trials and despairs of my family wishing they’d factor in that I have problems too. They didn’t and I was left dealing with theirs, feeding them advice and becoming a confidante to them. A position I was so desperate not to be.
  7. make mistakes – it’s okay to be wrong. It happens. I have the right to be wrong. Do not punish me because I am not perfect. No is.

Not even you.

Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.
Bob Marley

Am I manipulative?

I would not class myself as manipulative since finding out what this kind of behaviour is. I would however, class some people I know as owning this behaviour. After discovering its meaning, I have been looking out for it this last week and have been surprised to see it in the people around me. Often, you do not know when you are doing it. I cannot admit that I am never manipulative.

Examples of manipulative behaviour are:

  • Guilt tripping – If you really cared about me then you would….
  • Using ailments as an excuse to do something – my back has been hurting all week/I just feel too tired to….
  • Use of emotional bribery – I’d be forever grateful if you could…..

Of course, in certain circumstances, it would be wrong not to have sympathy for these reasons but it is all dependant on how often they use this as an excuse. You may begin to identify that there are specific people in your life that manipulate you constantly.

Mu husband probably sees this behaviour from me. For example whilst walking past some shoes I may like, the occasional “If you want to make me happy…….” might trickle out of my mouth but usually in jest. Sarcasm can be manipulative too. What do they say, “50% of sarcasm is truth”? We trick people into believing it’s a joke, but of course there must be some truth behind it. We wouldn’t say it otherwise.

Children are the key grouping that fall into manipulative behaviour using their position as someone you love and care about to get what they want. Just because they are children doesn’t give them free reign to behave inappropriately. This is when clear boundaries should be set so they understand what is appropriate and effective behaviour.

Adults can be manipulative too.

My father was and I believe my mother has been too. The latter may not be realising when she is.

My father regularly used manipulation to get what he wanted. He played on everything possible: his age, his ethnicity, his culture, his position in society, his job, his illnesses, my lack of empathy. All these things manifested into me feeling extreme resentment towards him.

Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.
Joyce Brothers

Am I aggressive?

It’s not the first word that comes to mind if I was to describe myself or even to describe my faults. Aggression is really not in my nature. I cower and run from it, I’m frightened of it and avoid other forms of it. Confrontation is the last place you’ll find me. However, naturally, like any other human, I am capable of having aggression, of feeling it and sometimes, of displaying it too. Mine tends to come out when I’ve been passive for too long, when I’ve allowed annoyances to build up or have been biting my tongue. I explode and the emotion quickly follows. My husband tends to get it the most. He knows that I mean no harm and that it is usually nothing to do with him. Instead the stresses of day to day life and work come out at the strangest of times, especially when neither of us are expecting it.

I swear. It’s quite bad. It shocks him. Nothing too vulgar (even I’m not capable of losing it entirely), but bad enough to take him by surprise.

He gets it.

All those years I was “forbidden” to show anger or frustration. All those years my father berated me for having emotion or feeling hurt. Of course, anger would eventually come out. However, I’m no monster. I am quick to apologise and calm down. I do not want to be his mirror image or fall into his behaviour. I refuse to hold grudges over tiny matters, quickly moving away from the argument with softer, sweeter words.

My aggression was suppressed for many years. My whole family disallowed anger on my part yet they all freely let loose, screaming insults and rage at each other. Perhaps they wanted my innocence to remain but keeping such a basic emotion out of someone’s grasp is unheard of. The mere thought that I was banned from the reality of anger just doesn’t make sense. My mother still cannot take, to this day, my voice raising to a slightly higher pitch. If this happens and I appear bothered by something, she reacts. I am immediately reprimanded for getting angry. Of course, my natural reaction to this is of frustration, that I cannot even breathe in the wrong way and she’s ready to criticise me, and obviously – I get angry! So, she gets what she wants.

Anger is an emotion like any other. Bottle it up for too long and it will explode. Everyone has the right to feel it and to act on it but in a controlled way, without screams and chaos or violence and fear.

We are human after all. You can’t deny me my rights.

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.
Nelson Mandela

19th August 2012 – My stony heart.

It must’ve been the hottest day of the year.

It had been eleven days since our last encounter. I had drawn it out as long as I could. He had tried to convince me to visit sooner but after the previous visit, I had no intention of falling into his emotional snares again. It was too much of a risk and I was barely keeping my head above the water as it was. Perhaps it was too long a break and I should have been there for him. But for those eleven days I had a small sense of normality again, I felt safe without him there and as wrong as it may sound, I felt free.

We left early on the Sunday on purpose. We wanted to avoid the heat of the tube and the crowds of people. The journey to the nursing home took over two hours door to door even though we were still in London; the hassles of not being able to drive. By the time we reached it, the temperature had picked up and I was already fanning myself with my hand.

It looked pretty from the outside, a tall white building decorated with pink flowers. Yet as we entered and followed the directions to his room, I was startled to how different a place could look inside compared to the outside. However, the biggest shock was to come.

My father was sat upright in a chair beside his bed.

I sat opposite and watched in horror as he drifted in and out of sleep and consciousness. He was sat in a t-shirt David had brought him from home the previous week. He had a towel covering his lower body. I looked away, feeling repulsed. How insensitive of me; I berated myself but my father had always made me feel uncomfortable. Even in his suffering I could not forget the painful memories that reflected in everything he did.

Babitago……I need you to go to the house tomorrow and find me some more t-shirts to wear,”

he said quietly, still managing to give me orders.

“Did you hear me?” he questioned, I nodded with no intention of stepping into his house.

“Your sister would do it for me; she has done so much for me but she has a family.”

He was still capable, even at his lowest point, to take a dig at me. I was trying so hard to feel something – sympathy, pain, sadness. I was willing these emotions out. All I could do was look at him.

His body was almost shrivelled. He hadn’t shaved for months and unable to grow a beard, his silver facial hair was dusted like sleet over his chin. His heavy eyes remained closed as I stared straight through him. His fragile arms gripped the chair and the only sound that could be heard was his shallow, stilted breathing.

I was waiting to feel something, anything! Love, hurt, fear. I felt none of those things.

I cannot describe what I felt.

5th August 2012 – The Awakening.

Well, after the previous phone call and epiphany, I was about to get another awakening from my father.

Once again, he picked a phone call to break the news.

This time it concerned my future.

His will.

I really didn’t want to know. I’d rather have waited till his death. But my Dad wasn’t that kind of man. He wanted to cause drama, to upset people or to get a reaction. He didn’t have an ounce of sensitivity or decency in his body. I tried to explain that it was inappropriate to talk to me about the content of his will at that time but my words fell on deaf ears. He ignored my request entirely and proceeded to announce to me a clear summary of what he intended to give us.

He made it very clear as what I was to do with my share of the money. I was to put the whole amount on a deposit for a house. There was no arguing the matter or I would not get the money. He threatened that if I did not agree to this that he would change the will at the last minute.

I never wanted anything from him.

Never.

I hated that he was still controlling every decision I was to make. It angered me that even my future was falling under his power. I remained silent on the phone, holding back the tears and anger waiting to explode. He always hated my silence. He called it “insolent” and I could feel his insults building up down the phone from his heavy, stilted breathing.

“Why are you taking so long Babitago? It’s very simple. You are thirty years old and you do not even own your own property. You must put it all on a house. Do you understand?”

“Mmmm,” was the only response I could muster through the tears.

It pacified him for the time being. I allowed him to believe he had the power. What was the point in fighting him? A sick man, lying in a hospital bed struggling to breathe. Even I knew that fighting him was the wrong thing to do as much as I berated myself for it.

It also came to my attention during the call that I was to get the lowest share of the will.

So he finally got his revenge on me. He was to continue his punishment, his anger and betrayal even after his death.

I was pretty shocked but almost relieved. I don’t want to associate the rest of my life with that man. I don’t want to be thankful to him or grateful. I don’t want to feel as though he saved me.

I want to save me.

29th July 2012 – The wedding.

29th July 2012 was the day I was maid of honour for my best friend’s wedding. I had been looking forward to it for a while. The day was a chance to put everything that was happening with my father to one side, to forget and enjoy, to create new memories with close friends.

I had gone to K’s place the day before the wedding. David’s parents had driven me up there. I had warned my father that these three days would be very busy and that it would be unlikely that we would be able to speak. It was partly true. I did not want to check up on him at the wedding. I wanted to relax. I made the conscious decision not to call him. It was the right choice.

On the 28th, the night before, my father ignored my request. He called whilst we were eating dinner and watching a film together. It could not have been a worse time as after that I was no longer calm and relaxed. He was able to change emotions entirely.

I shouldn’t have picked up. I should have let it ring. But that would’ve been mean and he most definitely would have rang again and again until I would have to call him back. Then his wrath would be so great my evening and following day would be ruined. It made sense to answer it.

The first thing he said was,

“Call me back”,

before hanging up. My father never had any manners, he wanted me to ring back because it was cheaper on my phone. Every time he called, I had to call him back. The man had money! God, it infuriated me, but I suppose the little things always do. Back in conversation my father argued my text about no contact for the next three days. I didn’t really fancy a tirade from him in front of K so I attempted to usher him off the subject. It didn’t work and he continued to moan down the phone. I just wanted a few days off from it all. I wanted a clear head and a chance to feel free. With him, I was chained up, tied to his demands and restricted by his control.

I allowed him to rant without responding myself. K could see me becoming upset and stressed. He carried on complaining saying that I cannot expect no contact for so long and that I was “needed”, he said to call on the 29th just to check he was okay.

I refused.

He was silent for a moment. Knowing what was about to happen, that his anger would burst in the most inappropriate way, I quickly added a defence to my refusal.

“It will be a hectic day and I will be switching my phone off. I have to show respect to my friend Daddy”.

He listened to the word ‘respect’ although he did not like when I felt it for others as he knew there was no feeling of respect for him.

He made me promise that I would call on the 30th. I told him I couldn’t “promise” anything.

But that I would try.

Happy 1 year anniversary K.

Thank you for including me in your special day, it truly was an honour.

xx