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.

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She can give it but she cannot take it.

I’m not really a fan of those who hand out criticism freely but cannot accept it when it is directed at them. My mother and I have just been in that situation. I am writing this straight after our heated talk. She is currently upstairs having a tantrum (or at least that’s what it sounds like). She is banging doors and generally stomping around. Not really the expected behaviour of a seventy odd year old woman. She is patently angry yet her anger is not justified.

My mother is very critical; of her herself occasionally but mostly of others. She is a fault finder and my husband and I are usually on her list. I am mostly used to it as this is not something new. I do not like the constant fault finding in my husband however. Soon, he will be unable to put a foot right. I know it’s getting him down. He is already afraid of failure and this is hardly helping.

This morning was not targeted at my husband. My mother woke up late with leg pains. For the last few weeks she has been suffering with them and after a day of long walking, her pains worsened over night. I had already been up for a couple of hours before her when she came downstairs. No “Hello” or “Good morning”, only chat about her disrupted night. I made her a tea and continued about my business. As David and I have plans to head into Central London today, I began getting ready at ten. After doing my make up, I headed upstairs to collect my phone and saw my mum sitting on her bead. She looked tired and weary so I went and gave her a hug.

I showed her my eye make up and asked if she liked it. She said that it was nice. As I left the room my mother spoke in a mix of English and Bengali and said,

“Why don’t you wear another pair of trousers? You’ve worn those yesterday. You got so many others that are nicer”.

This may not seem like an odd thing for a mother to say to her daughter but when her daughter suffers from BDD, it is not the most appropriate thing to utter. There was a similar incident yesterday morning where my mother thought it would be okay to criticise my weight and say that I needed to cut out fat in my diet. She was complaining about her own weight before she started to attack mine. I was still in bed as she ranted on. It immediately left me distraught. Every day I am aware of the weight that I have gained these last few months. The portion size at home has not helped as my mother eats very large portions of food. Cooking for her has become difficult as I tend to have to cook much more than I normally would. Temptation is always there and after a long and stressful day at work, it is enticing to have those extra five roast potatoes.

I made David explain to her that I suffered from BDD, that it is an illness and the slightest comment can set it off. She was incredibly understanding yesterday and apologised for her comment. Today was a different story. I had hoped that what my husband told her would resonate in her mind but it was almost like what she heard yesterday never happened. I got upset as soon as she criticised my clothes today. I tried to stay calm but as soon as I feel uncomfortable in what I am wearing I cannot shake the feeling off. I become very aware of what I look like and become defensive. My mother gets defensive all the time but cannot accept it when anyone else does. I tried to explain what she said had hurt me. She proceeded to stand by her comments. To her, it’s trivial. To me, it destroys my confidence. Why does she need to find fault in me? The same thing happened two weeks ago and she ruined my day out. She always does it as I’m about to leave the house.

I went a whole twenty four hours without taking my inhaler yesterday, I was so happy. This morning scuppered any chance of that lasting as after I got upset my mother fully lost her temper and launched into a rage. I ran downstairs struggling to breathe. I sat on the sofa as my husband looked on and covered my ears, quietly reassuring myself as her screams from upstairs echoed above me. When eventually her outburst had finished, I removed my hands – my chest was tight and a rash had appeared on my face. I fought hard to keep the tears back. She is just too stubborn to see past it all. She has turned the whole thing back on herself and is now playing the victim when all I needed was a bit of reassurance. Never in my whole life have I witnessed my mother shout and scream at my sister in the way she does with me. Why does the woman who bans her from seeing her grandchildren get more respect than the daughter that stands by her? Tell me?

Why do I still need to explain and describe to my family about who I actually am? For my entire adult life I have justified having emotions. They will not let me have a day off. To them I am to be happy and positive at all times. I am to be there for them and listen to their needs yet my needs are persistently neglected. I give up. I am too tired of it.

I am still a little tight now.

But writing this has helped.

I should be on the tube right now heading into London.

Instead I feel like shit.

Broken Mirror.

She looks at herself at her tainted reflection

and is taken aback by her bland complexion.

She hates what she sees and longs to change

to look normal and pretty instead of quite strange

they will say she is shallow and seems to be vain

as she rarely reveals when she is in pain

for her hurt is hidden and her anger disguised

her fading self belief rests in her sunken eyes

She finds fault and flaws in her entire face

ridiculing each feature to debase and disgrace

a horror to see what the world can see

in the broken mirror looking back at me.

Broken Mirror

*Photo – dreamstime.com

To help you breathe better……

After last week, I decided to do some investigating of my own to find any natural remedies to aid my Asthma. I already know about the benefits of fresh lemon juice and its links to Asthma. I often drink lemon and ginger tea when unwell and have recently been having fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of water if any wheezing begins. It is not a cure by all means but it certainly helps. Other remedies include a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue to be gently sniffed or drinking a strong black coffee (apparently it helps to open the airways).

I wanted to search for some breathing techniques too. For too long have I solely relied on my inhalers to relieve my Asthma symptoms. However, for my own resilience, I feel it is essential that I develop some more natural strategies to soothe and appease the pain.

A colleague of mine suggested Yoga. She is not the first person to mention it. My friend Katrina is constantly telling me to give it a go. She too suffers from Asthma and her regular love and practise of Yoga has practically sent it packing. I am not adverse to it, I just can’t seem to find enough willpower (or forced interest) in going to a Yoga class. It doesn’t seem “me”. Yes, health comes first before embarrassment but I doubt I’d feel very comfortable. I do not enjoy exercising around other people; an unfortunate side of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I decided to take a look on YouTube and eventually fell onto a clip to do with the art of  “Pranayama” breathing. A Sanskrit word meaning “extension of breath”. Studies have shown it can be a great way to relieve asthmatic symptoms and reduce stress. I have only practised two forms of Pranayama – Shitali otherwise known as ‘Cooling breath’ where the breathing is done through the mouth with the tongue extended and Bhramari – Also known as ‘Bee Breath’ – where you make a humming sound while breathing. Both are equally effective. I tend to do the exercises at home before sleep and first thing in the morning (granted I have time before work!). I hope that over the following few weeks I can endeavour to attempt the other Pranayama exercises and hope that they also provide the same comfort as the others.

During my time at Drama School, we spent a lot of time before our dance and voice classes warming up. Much of this focussed on the way we breathed. We explored several techniques, drawing inspiration from Pilates, the Alexander Technique and general vocal warm ups. One exercise that I remembered was a technique that involved a partner. As you inhaled, you were to imagine your diaphragm and ribs expanding. You are to focus on only this part of your body moving. You must try to control your chest and prevent it from rising. If it does, you are not doing the exercise correctly. As you inhale, your partner needs to put their hands onto your sides, holding your ribcage. As they feel you breathe in, they must push against your ribs. You need to try to push against their resistance. At first it will be tough. Your ribs may not be used to moving like this but over time, you will start to see them expand more easily. As you exhale, your partner’s hands will maintain the pressure whilst continuing to support your ribs.

Try it. It might work for you. If anything, it’s a good exercise for your waist too!

Other tips include:

  • Counting and breathing – counting is a tried and tested way of calming people down in moments of anger – especially children. It works for a reason. It keeps you focussed on your breathing and distracts you from the feeling of panic or stress.
  • Keeping your head slightly tilted forward- it is tempting, in discomfort, to want to lean back or tip your head backwards. If you do this, you restrict your airways and the flow of oxygen to your lungs decreases. The same applies for the recovery position. You must tilt the head down to prevent choking on the patient’s tongue or vomit.
  • Relaxing – close your eyes, put on some peaceful music.
  • Buteyko Method (Nasal breathing) – making a conscious effort to breath solely from your nose is proven to be a better way of getting oxygen into your lungs. Breathing nasally will filter the air more efficiently through your sinuses unlike breathing through your mouth. It also helps to humidify the air that you inhale.
  • Good posture – keeping upright and not slouching are simple solutions. A good way of spotting an Asthma attack is if the sufferer is leaning forward. This is a natural reaction to the chest closing up and can bring some relief but keeping the chest area open will aid the patient more. Get someone to rub your back gently if needed.
  • Steam – one of my favourite remedies as it involves a hot bath. You don’t even have to get in it. If you feel tight chested, run a hot bath, shut the door and sit down in the bathroom. Lean against a wall so that you do not slouch. Take deep breaths in. You could count to keep a slow pace and inhale the rising steam. I assure you that this is an incredibly soothing remedy.
  • Keeping a control of your emotions- this can be a tough one and slightly ambiguous. This doesn’t mean become a wall of stone, just be aware of how you may be feeling. Extreme stress and upset can fuel Asthma attacks so I am going to state the obvious now – sorry – but do not PANIC! It will only make it worse. Anger won’t help either. Even side-splitting laughter can trigger an Asthma attack. I cannot be tickled as I end up wheezing like crazy. It is strangely difficult to explain that to people.

I hope these tips are useful to any fellow Asthma sufferers out there.

Keep well and look after yourselves.

xxx

*Asthma UK – The United Kingdom’s leading Asthma Charity. Image from Google.

2013 A review: July – September.

JULY

Summer had truly hit us in London by July. Scorching temperatures reigned over the city and finally the harsh winter had been beaten.

At the start of the month, I began recalling a series of events, linked to the exact date one year ago, that looked back on the journey towards the end of the abuse once and for all. It was a painful task. Remembering is one thing but looking back in detail, searching through old text messages and diary entries was hard. It transported me back to a terrible, stressful and bitter summer. The summer after my wedding. The summer my father, the abuser, died.

It was the month that my husband and I were told that our landlord wanted to sell the property we were renting. It came as a surprise as there had not been much of a warning. It was the last thing we needed. We were very settled where we were living. It was in an ideal location for both of us to get to work, there were plenty of shops and amenities around too. It was not ideal to move. I couldn’t bear the thought of moving into some dingy, poky apartment in a rush because we hadn’t enough time to search for somewhere decent. We made a decision. It would be a difficult one, a tiring and patience testing one but ultimately we were thankful she was willing to have us. My mother was our port of call. She agreed the sensible choice would be to live with her until my father’s inheritance was finalised and we could look for a new place.

July would be a very revealing month for me. Although I already knew my sister had begun a “secret” relationship with the abuser, I was not aware of how close they had become. After everything my sister had once accused him of, after all that she had witnessed him do to our mother (not to mention the misery of a life I led with him), I had not expected her to welcome him with open arms into her family unit. A unit she has been fiercely protective of for so many years. A family that she has banned me and any mother from seeing. Apparently, we are bad news, the cause of her depression and misery, the evil ones. Not our father. Not the man who abused me for fifteen years but the two people who spent most of their lives trying to escape his frightening hold. In her eyes, we were the enemy. I found out at the start of July that my father had planned a holiday with my sister, her husband and children. He could not go in the end due to his worsening health. I was flabbergasted. Horrified. The man that my sister could not bear to be in the same room as was now holidaying with her?? It blew my mind.

At work, I finished with a bang, holding our annual school talent show. It was a great success and the kids did me proud.

AUGUST

I continued to recall back to the events of last year on WordPress. I received several comments, mostly from friends who had no idea I was struggling so badly that summer. Even though the majority of them knew about my relationship with the abuser, most never questioned it. They never delved any further. It must have come as a shock to them to read the full truth.

I was well into my summer holidays at this point. The weather was unbelievable in London during August, we were very lucky to have so much sunshine. I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked to. I spent most of the holiday packing up our flat and surprising myself at how much rubbish we had accumulated over the past two years of living there. It was an endless and tiring job as my husband was at work for most of August. Even on moving day, when David’s parents had come to help, were we still putting items into bags and shipping them off to my mums’.

The end of the month would be very significant. On the 21st I celebrated the anniversary of my father’s death. I did not lay any flowers or sit down and pray. I did not shed a tear or think back to the “good times”. There were no good times. He was not worth my tears and I could not lay any flowers for I do not know what happened to his ashes. My sister only told me recently after a year of me badgering her, that after the funeral she had “picked them up”. So basically she gave me no more information than I had already assumed. I intend on letting her keep playing her childish game on her own.

As I prepared to go back to work, I was invited to a school reunion. Seeing my old primary school classmates after twenty years was incredibly uplifting. It was a wonderful experience and sent me back to a time of happiness. These people made me happy. It was lovely to be in their company again.

SEPTEMBER

Back to work!

I also began making some changes in my life. Some positive changes. I attended a course at City Lit on Assertiveness. It proved to be quite challenging. I enjoyed analysing myself and looking into types of behaviour. The course opened my mind as we explored passiveness, aggression, manipulation and assertiveness. It was very interesting to hold that magnifying glass up to myself and look more carefully at the person I had become. I am now trying to embody more assertiveness. My mother is the only person finding that difficult. For so long she was used to a passive daughter. A daughter who could not say “no” and agreed to almost everything in search for an “easy” life. Well no more. I have never had an easy life! It is time to get what I want and make a stand.

The Collins English Dictionary says – 

assertive 

Definitions

adjective – 

confident and direct in claiming one’s rights or putting forward one’s views

2013: A review January – March.

Ten more days to go until the first day of 2014. Once again, another year of my life has flown by and I am looking back on quite a year. This time however, I get to look back and share it with a new group of people: my WordPress followers, readers and fellow bloggers. What a year it has been. Lets look back together.

JANUARY

On the 6th of January, I decided to begin a blog on WordPress. It was a dangerous and risky decision. It would expose a life I had hidden from many people for over fifteen years. It would reveal truths some people would rather not know. It would portray a man (who many trusted) to be an evil, ruthless, callous and hurtful father who destroyed his daughter’s soul. It would be my story, a story that provoked people I had not seen for years. People who felt it was necessary to “warn” me and give their advice. They made it clear that I should keep my personal life “private” and that I might “hurt people”. I made it clear back that I had not set out to hurt anyone. It was much more than that. It was closure. It was freedom. It was truth. It would be a chance to speak and finally be heard. It would be the best decision I had ever made (bar leaving him of course).

FEBRUARY

On the 4th of February I celebrated five years together with David. We set our anniversary from our first kiss. It was a moment that changed my life. Gone were the men who used me and took advantage of my loyal nature. A new man had walked into my life. Little did I know that day he would make me as happy as he does now.

During this month, I received an abundance of support from old school friends and past colleagues about the blog over Facebook. I was taken aback from their kind words and blown away by their words of encouragement. It meant so much to know that there was no judgement, that people could see into my past and believe it, acknowledge it and most of all – accept it.

MARCH

I celebrated my 31st birthday on the 2nd. David took me to a South African restaurant in Central London for dinner. It was decadent and adventurous. I felt a little out of my comfort zone but enjoyed it nonetheless. Unfortunately, the food didn’t sit well within me and after a day I began to have horrific stomach pains. Within moments I was nauseous and lying over the bathroom toilet. I thought I had food poisoning but it was a severe case of gastric flu. The week after my birthday was spent at home ill. To top it off, my virus passed onto David who joined me for most of the week holed up in bed. Well Happy Birthday to me!

On WordPress I recounted the triggers that remind me of my father and his abuse. Fruit, movies, plastic knives and forks, making beds and self-help books were the entries I made in March, they continued into April with Furniture stores and Toothpicks and table manners. These triggers still happen. If I see certain objects or hear a particular piece of music, if I visit a particular place or even hear a phrase he might have said; it propels me back to a specific time where life was frightening and upsetting every day. I become emotional very quickly and find it difficult to calm down. A panic attack can be the worst reaction to one of my triggers.

March was the month where a colleague questioned my “motives” for writing this blog. She accused me of taking “revenge” on my dead father. That it was unkind and unfair to do so. It surprised me that she could not empathise with my situation nor could she understand my reasons for revealing my truths. I was annoyed by it. I did not feel I should have to justify my choices and actions to her. She did not know my father. She had not met him. She only had her morals and principles and values to go on. I have morals. I have principles and values too. That is an important part of why I decided to do this, because of my values and principles. I would not be following them if I hid away and “forgave” him for all the hurt and pain he caused.

Dead or not, the truth will always shine through.

With nowhere to run – Photo 5.

Image

Train tracks ran behind my father’s house, often a tube train would stop and linger by our back garden. This is the view from the back of my old house. It looks onto nothing. Only an endless train line. There was never an escape. Certainly not from the back of the house. I often contemplating running into my neighbour’s garden as he chased me down the stairs. I imagined myself climbing over the rickety fence and trespassing for those few seconds before reaching freedom. He probably would have caught me anyway. He would have followed me down the street. I had run before. In the dark, late at night. He came after me in the car. He always tracked me down. I was too frightened to fight further. I never got very far. He would coax me into his car with a sorry voice only to condemn me as soon as I had sat down.

The garden was not a sanctuary for me. Instead a place where I went to breathe. I felt so trapped with him. I always needed air. After our heated arguments, it seemed like the best place to go. He rarely followed me out. He worried that a neighbour might appear and see him for his true nature. However, he often lingered at the back door muttering obscenities at me. A tube slowly came to a halt one day as I paced across the grass after one of our heated arguments. My father had lost it. He was waving and shouting and gritting his teeth at me from the safety of the kitchen door. He was ordering me to come back inside. I wasn’t about to. That would not be safe for me. I would be walking into his trap. I knew that I needed to get to my bedroom somehow; I felt safe there. Eventually, he would give up and I could escape but until then the garden was the wisest place to be.

As the train waited for a signal to change, I caught the eye of a few passengers. It would have been clear to them that we were fighting. They were so close to us. A woman seemed to move seats to get a closer look. I was surprised that this was gaining so much interest, that my hell had turned into a drama for these passengers to study and watch with anticipation. Another man turned to his friend and pointed directly at me. I stared at them as tears poured from my eyes. Could they see my tears? What were they thinking? I did not want to feel violated any longer.

I circled round, ready to make my move but found my abuser blocking my way, standing firmly in my path. I went to walk past him but he would not budge. He stared at me. He stared at me with so much hate. He told me I was not welcome inside. That I “needed to calm down” and that he would be shutting the door. I answered back. At twenty four I felt I had the right to do so. Of course, he felt differently and as the train pulled away, my father launched into another verbal attack.

In his tirade, he moved just slightly away from the back door. I saw my chance and sprinted to my bedroom.

“BABITAGO!!!” he yelled from below.

I could hear the clamour of his heavy footsteps and the doors being flung against the wall as he ran after me. I made it, with time to spare. The door was locked and the bed was pushed against it. He banged his hands upon my door making it vibrate on impact. I, like a little child, pulled the covers so far over me as I lay in my bed. I took out my headphones and turned on my music to drown out the insults he began firing at me from outside. His voice could still be heard as the music played but I just focussed on what I was listening to and slowly felt myself relax.

He was not going to break me.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Khalil Gibran

I had to be strong.