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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s in our genes.

How much do you really inherit from your family?

Genetics play a big part in who we become as people. We inherit eye colour, height even money over time but what about the other things? Personality traits being the obvious.

I know I have inherited many of of my mother’s traits. We are both very emotional people often allowing these emotions to take over our way of dealing with issues logically or rationally. Our highly emotive states aren’t always to be seen negatively. We are both caring and loyal people. Sadly, that can often be taken advantage of.
I hope I haven’t inherited any personality traits from my abuser.

To think that I could ever possess any of his qualities frightens me.

My family is broken.

It will never be fully mended as sadly, too many parts have crumbled, too many pieces are missing and too much has happened to ever totally heal.

I have made my peace with that. I knew a long time ago that the family I always dreamt of wouldn’t exist for me. I had hoped that one day, I would have my own family. One that gave me security and make me happy. One without conditions and demands, insults and terror, threats and harm. I feel like that family is beginning. I have my husband and now I have my wonderful baby. I have my mother and a relationship with her I never expected to happen. Not once all those years ago could I imagine my mother and I would be close.

I’d love to have my sister in my life too.

I know I’ve spoken quite honestly about her on here but as candid as I may have been, my want to be accepted by her never faded. The darkness her and my father cast on me, their portrayal of me is untrue. I am not a bad person. I am not evil. I do not have that in me.

My heart is and always has been open.

I am not my father.

There is nothing of him in me.

I do not use my love. It is there if it is wanted. I do not bargain or control people with it. I do not give it then take it away. He did. The abuser did.

Love was a game, a business, a possibility to damage and hurt. That isn’t love.

‘Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.’
Leo Buscaglia

I have O.C.D.

It’s an admission.
One I’ve kept private for many years. It’s appeared on occasion but generally it’s easy to keep it hidden. It’s not your average kind of O.C.D, I do not wash my hands 16 times after using the toilet nor do I have to check repeatedly that I’ve turned the downstairs light off before bed.
Life with my abuser left me with many problems. A lack of self esteem, negativity about my body, lack of ambition, fear of risks are to name a few. I like to think I came out of that terror pretty unscathed, I mean it could have been a lot worse. However mentally, it’s impossible and unimaginable to presume my mind and heart would not be affected in some way.
He left a legacy and I carry the reminder of what he did every day.
I have closure from him. I do not think about him. I do not care to talk about him. Time has done it’s job. I do however know that he’s had a massive impact on who I am now and sadly, I am left piecing myself back together again even two years after his death.
Today I admitted it to myself.
I have O.C.D.
I do not like my things to be moved. I cannot deal with my things being touched without my permission. They just need to be left as they were. It doesn’t bother anyone nor does it cause harm but today my family experienced my O.C.D.
I tried an attempt to explain.
Every day with the abuser was another day of being watched, checked. My room was forever “inspected”. What if it didn’t meet his standards? What if I had not put one thing back in it’s place? Well then I would know about it. He’d go in there when I was out or at work. When he could take his time finding faults.

He’d pick at everything. I’d come home to find my clothes, which had been piled up on my chair, strewn across the floor with a note saying,

“A chair is not a place for clothes”.

Or some shampoo bottles that were nearly empty – stacked on my desk. He’d point out that they should have been thrown away months ago but it was not his “job” to do it.
There were times he moved actual furniture in my room to find dust, to find mistakes. He’d do it through the entire house. He had to find fault.
I hate someone, anyone, moving my things. My personal things.
My counsellor told me that you cannot expect someone to come out of something like that untouched and perfect. O.C.D. is often associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I suffered a great trauma with him. He controlled every aspect of my life for sixteen years even down to the way I felt about myself. I needed to get the control back. It is a complete form of control.
He controlled my money, my health, my choice in friends, my relationships, my food, my feelings, my habits, my freedom, my choices, my insecurities.
My family can’t relate.
We have argued today.
They refuse to understand and continues to make light of these issues I have.
I cannot ever be perfect.
I wouldn’t want to be.

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.

The Never-Ending Story.

Nothing to do with the film but everything to do with the story of my life.

A few months ago, I made a conscious decision to stop blogging about past, to focus on the happier things occurring in my life. Blessed with the news of the pregnancy, it seemed like a new start. A chance where I could finally look to the future. My father is no longer a problem physically yet his ever-controlling presence sadly still exists.
I am yet to see a penny of my inheritance as I approach the two year anniversary of his death. To make matters worse as I am still residing with my mother, I still have to endure the daily torture of passing my old abuser’s home every day to work and back.

This is something sadly I have grown accustomed to this past year however it annoys me slightly that the new owners have already moved in and re-decorated, moving forward with their lives and I am stuck waiting, without news, on a chance to move forward with mine.

Surprisingly, that I can deal with.

The real upset is my sister.

I have always said to David, to my friends, that one day soon she would begin to etch herself back into my mother’s life and today we discover she is continuing her journey back to our mum.

It all began last year on Boxing Day when my mother received a card from her. Slowly, over the year, she has found new ways to find an avenue to return. It is never consistent. Instead, every few months she re-appears and toys with her mother’s emotions. An opportunity allowed itself in April. A chance appeared by natural where she could have easily re-entered the family ‘fold’. However, it was her choice to reject that chance when I attempted to call her and inform my only sister that I was pregnant.

She would not allow it. She just would not speak to me and the sweet, innocent news was broken to her by email. Yes, I did not hold back either. I felt at that point, it was within my right to tell her a few home truths about her. Many, many times over many many years have I listened to her tell me my faults and I have always bitten my tongue in reference to her. Mostly out of fear to awaken the beast inside. Her anger has always been terrifying (at times worse than his). However, I am a thirty two year old woman and she is forty for crying out loud. Perhaps it is time to reflect on the reasons why you are so estranged from your family? We NEVER walked away from you.

Many would ask why it bothers me that my sister is back in contact?

Let me make it clear – she is not back in contact with me. Only my mother. Cards on her birthday only. Letters only addressed to her. Did she congratulate me on my good news? No. Has she mentioned the baby when writing to our mother? No. Her intentions are very clear. She wants my mother back only. NOT me.

Well let me make my intentions clear.

I will not go through it again. I will not participate in any mind games. I refuse to be controlled. You may think your trusted strategy will bring you great success again, after all it worked so well with our father. I cannot speak for our mother. I do not know what you intend to use for your advantage this time. Will it be the tried and tested emotional tactic of using the grandchildren? Or perhaps the fact that you’ve suddenly realised you ‘need’ a mother figure in your life again? Just hurry up and make up your mind.

To be honest, if you really wanted to move forward you would not be pushing me aside. Hurt does not even cover it. You abandoned both your parents yet offered your love back to them like nothing had happened. Yet that love has never been offered to me.

Just say it. You wish I’d never come along don’t you?

I look at my friends and people on Facebook sharing photos of their sisters and I’m jealous. After all these years, I’m still jealous.

At least it proves one thing.

I have a heart.

Biting the Hand that Feeds You.

My father often used old phrases to describe the way I “treated” him. He regularly told me this particular saying, accusing me of being ungrateful to the very person who has offered me so much help over the years.

Another favourite of his was Beggars can’t be choosers. To him, I was always the beggar, living beyond my means, having hopes and aspirations and not being thankful for what he gave me. In my eyes, why would I be thankful for the hate he poured over me? Of course I wanted more for myself. However aspirations are not greedy but that is the way my father saw them. When giving birthday and Christmas gifts, my father would say this phrase. Emphasizing that I “must not be so shallow in life” even before I had uttered a word.

It was made very clear to me early on that he believed me to be the Black Sheep of The Family. That had never been a surprise. I always felt apart from them. My father just continued this feeling as I grew into a young woman. He reiterated that I had no identity, that no one wanted me alive, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He once said that he wished my mother’s previous miscarriage before me hadn’t happened. At least then he’d have a boy and I would never have been born.

I was a Chip Off The Shoulder in reference to my mother. This was another condescending insult from him. He would say this through his frequents moments of belittling. Usually it’d be uttered in the throws of laughter. He laughed at me a lot. I was a big joke to him, he made that very clear.

I spent my time trying to Pull the Wool over his Eyes. I was deceitful, untrustworthy and dangerous. He created me to be the devil. Every move I made had to be questioned. Nothing I did held integrity. He doubted my entire being.

The time’s I dared to answer him back left me Skating on Thin Ice. He would always give me warnings. Warnings that led to the abuse. Rarely would his warning be calm or parental. They were often as bad as the punishment. If I had pushed him to feel even slightly aggravated by me, then I was deserving of the hell he would relay on me.

Occasionally, my father would attempt sarcasm. He always failed miserably as he regularly got confused often mixing up the meanings with the phrases. For example, he would joke that I should not give up my day job if I was ever “kind” to him. It was unbelievable to him that I could be a kind and genuine person and that my intentions were pure. To him, I always had an ulterior motive.

When “deliberately provoking” him, I would be told to let sleeping dogs lie. Obviously it was entirely my fault if the abuser exploded. His cliché of a warning should have been enough to stop me immediately but being the stubborn bull that I was, things were not that easy. He was preparing me with that idiom. Preparing me for hell.

To make a long story short, I try not to use clichés now.

😉

 

Chapter 3, Part 1.

THREE

FOOD AND WASTE

Food was the symbol of many different things through the past, comfort and control being the main. I had always been a healthy child growing up on fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. My mother was a fantastic cook and fed the family well. We understood where food came from and the benefits of it from a young age. I enjoyed cooking and helping her in the kitchen. If anything, it was more time to spend with her.

As I headed towards my teenage years my father took my sister and me to restaurants as a treat. He often left my mother behind. I began seeing this as a regular way of life. Sweets and chocolate began to appear in the house and I revelled in it like most young teens would. My mother still encouraged us to eat well and usually I did but if I wanted anything ‘naughty’ my Dad would never refuse it. Not because he couldn’t say no to me. He just treated this as a way to point score with his wife. The children were a competition to him and food was the start of his game playing.

In later years (as the trouble grew worse between me and my father) food became a source of genuine comfort to me. I would regularly binge eat at dinner. My father and I never sat at the table together and enjoyed a meal. Instead I was forced to eat in my bedroom to avoid conflict with him. He knew what I put in my mouth as we always went food shopping together every week. Something I almost looked forward to.

However the supermarket was a place he would frequently choose to humiliate me. If I wanted to get something I may not have finished before he would begin a rant on my ‘addiction to wastage’. He’d tell me I had no consideration for starving children all over the world and no concern about money. He’d continue to insult me and if I argued that it had happened only the one time, he’d accuse me of attempting to deliberately agitate him. Again, his voice would change and all this would be said through gritted teeth and glaring eyes. Often he would behave like this in public places where the normal reaction of strangers was to stop and stare over at the strange ‘couple’ having an argument. He enjoyed my humiliation but never saw how he humiliated himself, after all at this time I was a grown woman.

On one occasion,  my father began a petty fight as we loaded our items onto the conveyor belt. I remember the cashier and the customer ahead of us watching curiously. The customer, a young woman who appeared to be in her twenties, couldn’t stop herself from watching. Her judging eyes buried themselves in me. I know how we looked. I get it. It sickens me. My father’s rant was not subsiding, it only grew worse as I tried to pacify him. To him, I was patronising. He stormed off. I panicked. I had no money on me to pay for the shopping. I could see him leave the supermarket in a powerful rage. I stood there, shocked watching our shopping edge towards the cashier. The stranger’s eyes were still burning through me when suddenly, she spoke.

“Don’t worry, my husband is a lot older than me too. Older men are like that”.

I was horrified and immediately repulsed.

Her face automatically dropped when I responded,

“He’s not my husband; he’s my father”.

The brute returned within moments and began ordering me to “MOVE!”. The stranger looked appalled and full of regret. I imagined she wished she never spoke to me. I did to.

After we returned home I ran upstairs in a fit of tears. He couldn’t take my crying, it was a weakness to him and he’d use it as a chance to insult and criticise me, saying, “Oh here come the waterworks!”

This was such a regular incident. Something would happen every week. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of the food I would get to eat when we returned. I was dependant on it to make me happy. Upstairs, I’d take: one plastic bag of shopping, filled with a high calorie sandwich, an energy drink, doughnuts, chocolate and two or three bags of crisps. With the TV on high, I’d sit and gorge on my selection to the point of feeling sick (although, back then I never actually did throw up). It satisfied me. Immediately I felt ashamed of what I had done, often shoving the remnants under my bed or frantically stuffing it in the bin.

Guilt would encompass me and I would dramatically berate and condemn myself. That’s when self-harm began to find a place in my life.

© Roshni Bhattacharya 2013

Chapter 2. Part 1 – America and Late Teenage Years.

To be brief and before I post this, I need you to understand that I am posting something that only my mother and husband know about. I want to do this to show him for what he was. His early signs of emotional abuse and emotional incest, need to be exposed. He spent the majority of my teenage years exposing and humiliating me as this chapter will show you all. To reveal the entire truth about that holiday is a massive step for me as I am still hiding a lot of painful moments we shared together, torment that he flung on me and boundaries that he broke. I hope one day, I will not fear the judgement.

Part 1:

The first summer arrived so quickly. I had just finished my GCSE exams and my father had booked a long holiday in the U.S. I had been once before with my sister and that was a very revealing trip for her. She saw him in his true light. However, he spent the whole of the last holiday showering me with attention. I could not wait to return. I was desperate to get away. Things had been left on bad terms with my mother and we barely had a relationship. This felt like a much deserved break.

The memory of the America trip is a painful one. Still to this day I find it difficult to talk about, having only shared the hardest part with my mother in recent years. It was the first time the real character of my father shone clearly. After building up an almost God-like image of him throughout my childhood I was about to have the biggest revelation.

The holiday started out fine. We stayed with relatives on the West Coast then set off on a road trip across California. Money was an important part of his life. Although for years he showered me with gifts, he would often scrimp and save in other ways. Frequently with food as he hated being ripped off. If anything was expensive it was “over-priced” and we would only ever visit restaurants that had clear offers displayed.  However, he was very concerned about external appearance. He liked to look affluent. This was apparent by his choice of car. A white Cadillac with a red leather interior hardly gave off the image of a poverty stricken man. He dressed very smartly for someone on a relaxing holiday and spent plenty of money buying clothes in well known American stores. To the outside world he must’ve appeared so generous and well turned-out. However a new and different side of him was slowly unravelling in front of my eyes.

He lost his temper very quickly and became easily provoked. If someone was tail-gating him or driving slowly on the freeway he would steadily get agitated. He regularly vented his frustration in the car, telling me how un-cultured these people were or that they must be women drivers.  Often he’d swear through gritted teeth, it sent shivers down my spine as his face changed to a threatening appearance (it would be a familiar expression I’d relive over the following twelve years).

It wasn’t only strangers that annoyed him, eventually after a week of the trip I became a giant nuisance too. I had never really been bullied before. I was unaware what bullying felt like so didn’t notice what was happening to me at the time. He began nitpicking about things I said and did. He constantly corrected my grammar and if I dropped a‘t’ off the end of a word he’d cut me off mid-sentence and force me to pronounce it correctly. The way I walked was an issue. If I was too slow he’d tell me to stop lagging behind but if I bounced ahead, he’d criticise me for not waiting as he couldn’t keep up.

Gradually I became aware that it was difficult to put a foot right. This resulted in me being extremely cautious and worried of disappointing him or getting an earful about my “juvenile” behaviour.

Day to day activities was a chore. He had changed personality overnight. He continued to be cowardly, refusing to ask for anything himself, it was my job as usual. If we were out for dinner and he needed the bathroom, he would insist that I should ask the waitress where the toilets were, more specifically the male toilets. If I mentioned that it was an odd thing to do, he would instantly accuse me of being a selfish daughter not wanting to look after her elderly father (at the time he was 59, hardly elderly). He most certainly wouldn’t approach another woman to ask that kind of question. I quickly learnt there was no reasoning with him as when I tried to, I was bombarded with demeaning names.

If we needed directions he made me roll down my window and talk to a passing stranger or get out and run to the nearest shop to ask. He didn’t worry about my safety in these circumstances (I was only sixteen at the time), just as long as he wasn’t coming across as needy or weak.

I felt humiliated for the entire trip on the road. The worst thing (and the most difficult to talk about) is the memory I only recently revealed to my mother.

We often stayed in nice hotels in the cities but when travelling through smaller towns we resided in motels each night. Not wanting to waste money, my father would only book one room. The first time this occurred was our first night away. I was horrified. I was a sixteen year old girl; I knew how inappropriate this was. Praying that he’d have thought this through and asked for twin beds I was mortified to find instead a large double. I didn’t question him. (Although I now wish I had). He thought nothing wrong in his decision. He wanted to keep his costs down. His argument would’ve been clear. Why would I need another room if we were only staying one night? And more importantly, why would I want to waste so much money for no reason? So every night for the next two weeks, we shared a bed.

I remember each night running into the bathroom to get changed, panicking at the thought of seeing him undress in front of me which he had done previously without a care. I never slept in pyjamas, only a long t-shirt. I berated myself for not planning properly, for not having trousers to wear. Tugging my shirt down, I would quickly leap into the bed. My father undressed in plain view of me, stripping down to his boxers and then putting on pyjama pants and a vest. Why did he not go into the bathroom after me? We had never been this open as a family; everyone seemed to enjoy their privacy. Except him. Thankfully, the motels beds in America were huge so I pushed myself as far to the edge as possible. I barely slept the entire holiday.

One morning, towards the end of the road trip we stayed in a small motel in Fresno. As we checked out I caught the hotels clerk’s eye. He was staring at me, confused. He asked my father our room number and if he had the key. My father handed it back to which the clerk inquired,

“Was it just one room?”

I bolted out of that reception and headed straight to the car park, humiliated and ashamed that someone else knew how wrong it all was.

My father had no idea of how other people perceive things and if I dared to suggest the obvious, he would call me ‘evil’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘perverted’. Me, perverted?!

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.

In his own words.

I want to share an email with you all. This is an email that was sent to me the day my father lost it with me in his car. The day he drove me home from a bachelorette/hen party and interrogated me in the car. The day he bullied and screamed at me that I was a selfish, inconsiderate daughter. The day I saw him last before he revealed he had terminal lung cancer.
This is his actual and very revealing email to me later that day. In many ways he seems to come across as polite but look deeper and you can see the truth in his meaning. It is a critique for all intents purpose. He really despised me didn’t he. I was thirty years old when I received this email.
Babitago
The computer can play the COPD DVD as you suggested and I have managed to watch some very useful information.  I have been quite ill since last 6/7 weeks including yesterday and today and out of mental weakness I, like any other father, sought some assistance from a daughter.  I should not have been so harsh with you when you refused  point blank as I also realise that you are not that strong either to offer a helping hand specially with some tasks planned ahead.  I withdraw all the harsh words I said out of frustration and would like to let you know that except momentary lapses (these are bad, there should not be any justification for them) I always love you and you can ask me for anything I can do for you, I will do them gladly and do not expect anything in return.  It is also useful to remember that human beings can never live exclusively for themselves by themselves.  To be strong and face all the problems of life successfully each of us need a reliable, committed and faithful circle of people around, that includes spouses and blood family to prop each other up at a time of need.  You will realise these more as you grow older and wiser.  Also, it’s worth noting that friends are here today gone tomorrow, being many years on this planet I have seen that they are mostly ‘fair weather friends’.  You cannot rely on them as much as you can on your father.
I am going to get a SATNAV and will gladly drive you to Harlow.
This letter do not carry any anger or malice.  You do not need to reply to this but if you do I hope it will be a nice one.
Lots of love.
Daddy xx