Approaching the 6 month mark!

This Monday will mark 6 months of my pregnancy! I cannot believe that I have almost reached this point. The time is literally melting away. On Tuesday, I will finish work for a 5 week break (as I work in a school) and god, do I need it! The weather has been phenomenal these last few weeks and it seems that in London, it may be getting hotter for the foreseeable future. I love the sun and the heat, but being in built up London and travelling to and from work on the London Underground makes it very hard to survive and endure the sweltering temperature. Especially when pregnant. So I am very much looking forward to the option of staying indoors!

Bump: Perhaps slightly bigger especially at the top of my stomach. 

Cravings: Blackberries, blueberries, cherries, bread, butter, fish curry.

Current Health: Healthy! My head cold and cough has disappeared now. Asthma seems to be better too so generally feeling normal again.

Movement: We had a little panic last week as baby’s movement seemed to ease. I asked a friend at work for advice and she recommended asking my midwife who we’ll be seeing next Wednesday. It’s only to put my mind at ease. I have felt the little one I’m sure but having not had a baby before, it’s all still pretty new to me. Not knowing what to expect is a hindrance. The flutters and tingles happen on a regular occurrence.

Size: Baby is the size of a large mango now. 6 months and it’ll be the same size as an ear of corn! 

Symptoms: The beginning of a few stretch marks have appeared on either side of my belly. I’ve been using Bio-oil to help. Tiredness has reappeared and every day after work I’m ready for a long nap. I know you’re not really supposed to nap after three as it can interfere with your nightly routine. However, at 3pm, I’m at work. So no napping then! 

State of Mind: Feeling happy and excited for the holidays. A little annoyed by people who think every pregnancy is the same and feel it is okay to freely patronize me. Yes, yes, I know you’ve had several children and experience many a pregnancy but that doesn’t mean what I am going through bares little significance or is exaggerated. Okay?

 

Back to Work Blues.

Tomorrow is my first day back at work after a week off. I can successfully say that this was my least productive holiday in the sense that I have done f**k all this week! On purpose may I add. The most work and attention has gone into my blog which has been great. It’s been fantastic to have the time to sit down, especially in the day (normally I blog straight after work, completely shattered) and write. Poetry Week has been a total success. I was wary to post my poetry. After reading so many of my fellow peers’ and poets’ work on WordPress, I was not sure mine would compete in the slightest but each one has received some lovely support and likes. I really appreciate that (it’s still pretty new to me!).

Based on your reactions, I think I’ll make Poetry Week a monthly post 🙂

I do have back to work blues. I hope I do not walk straight back into stress again. The last five months have been extremely stressful at work and home hasn’t been much different. However, I am now more aware of my body and the triggers of stress. Hopefully, with the aid of my new-found breathing exercises, I can maintain and keep my stress levels under control.

Today will be my final poetry post till next month. In March, I will begin a series of letters that I wish I had the courage to write in reality. I am hopeful that it will provide and serve me with a little more closure.

March 2nd is also my birthday!

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?!

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?

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: April – June.

APRIL

This month saw many entries on WordPress taken from old journals and diaries I had discovered from the abuser’s home. I looked back on several noted incidents that affected me in some way. I began revealing much more about my father. Not only what he did to me but how he lived his own life, the values he followed and the life choices he made.

April was the first month that I displayed a photograph taken from my father’s house (Post: And he called me “dirty”! April 17th) It showed the awful way in which we both lived. A way that I hated but it was out of my control. My father put many demands and outrageous expectations on me over the years and this photo was just a small example of his control. The five bedroom house was far too much for one person to look after. Especially a young woman with a full time job, friends and a life. I wasn’t allowed “excuses”. I wasn’t allowed a life. My life was indebted to him. I “owed” him for having a life.

On the 20th, I suffered from a severe Asthma attack where I was taken to the emergency room by my neighbour. I received a lot of support and well wishes from the WordPress community. It surprised and moved me that strangers all over the world showed such kindness to someone they had never met. I was not used to that. Thank you.

MAY

May was a busy month for me. In my general life and on WordPress. It was the first time I shared my poetry on my blog with “Control me”, a piece I wrote during the years of severe abuse.

On the 20th on May, I travelled to Madrid, Spain for a five day trip with three of my colleagues and twelve children from work. It was an experience to say the least! I am thrilled to have done it. To be trusted by my superiors and given that responsibility is something I will treasure. The laughs we shared will be remembered forever. It really was a once in a lifetime sort of thing.

The weekend I returned was that of my one year wedding anniversary with David. Although the wedding day itself holds some upsetting memories (a day that I still can’t bring myself to fully blog about with reasons that no one bar David seem to comprehend), it is always going to be the moment I pledged my love and trust to my devoted husband David and that is main reason why our anniversary will be special for the rest of our lives. I wrote you a letter David on our anniversary this year. Here is to many more my love.

The biggest moment of May was when I made the risky decision to “out” some very spiteful girls. Four to be exact as I began a series of posts retelling the story of their betrayals. C & C, H and N were subject to the truth finally coming out. I received many responses to the series. Old school friends and colleagues who understood whom I was referring to offered their support and agreement. Their thoughts were very welcome. However, I did receive one negative comment from a supporter and friend of N. She threatened legal action at my accusations. All I said was the truth. I did not use names, nor did I say exactly where we had known each other from. N’s friend only landed N in it, she basically announced to the world of Facebook who N actually was. She was the one who broke the rules. Her anger embarrassed her and surprisingly, many of our peers from that time spoke out in support for me. She never followed through with her threats.

A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.
Thomas Jefferson

JUNE

June was a pretty easy month. The weather began to dramatically improve in England and Summer seemed to be fast approaching. I blogged seventeen times this month.

Deliberate Donkey a woman’s story about her journey through domestic violence, generously re-blogged my work. It would be the first time someone had referred to my abuser as a “sociopath” after reading my story. It was a term I began to explore.

http://deliberatedonkey.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/guest-post-freefromhim/

(Scroll up to top of page when opened)

The start of Christmas!

Yes, yes, yes. Christmas doesn’t officially begin until well into December (or at least the 1st day of the month) but tomorrow will kick start it slightly earlier for me this year. I’m off to Taste of Christmas. An event set up at the Tobacco Dock in East London. I have been the previous two years with my husband but as I bagged a pair of free tickets for a Friday afternoon session (yes I know, lucky me!) I am taking a colleague with me as David will be away.

I do love Christmas. I always have and although my father made this holiday another one of his endlessly tiring chores, I still love it to this day. I could not let him take it away from me. He tried his very hardest to destroy anything I found happiness in. I have endured many an awful Christmas day with him. Thankfully, I’ll never have to endure any more.

So, tomorrow is the start of my Christmas (novelty jumper too!!)

Yes, this is what I’ll be wearing! Haha. My friend is doing same but hers has a giant, Christmas pudding on it!

Across the pond.

I don’t really have many ties with America any more. I have always loved the country, wanting to visit from a young child. However when I finally got my chance (see post: ‘America and The Late Teenage Years’), it didn’t pan out in the way I had hoped. I barely remember the first trip other than my sister also being there. Several years on and my sister would refer to the holiday as ‘hell’ and that she was forced to go on it against her will. I was a young teen and oblivious to her and our father’s struggling relationship.

I think my father was oblivious too but out of choice. He was never one to face adversities and upset.

The second trip was more significant. Life-changing even. It was of course, as I’ve mentioned before, the moment my father’s true nature became apparent to me. He had chosen to reveal himself to me on my dream holiday in the country I loved so much.

Why was America so appealing to me?

I have always considered myself to be a Londoner. I love London. As many of my friends are choosing to leave it, I just can’t. It is my home and yes, it’s expensive but it’s so diverse, there is no way I’m leaving it. However, from a very young age, I have loved America.

My father used to tell me we’d live there one day. He even applied for a Green Card but said he had ‘lost’ the forms and that he could not follow it through. I never understood why he did that. Perhaps he thought he would lose his control over me if we had been in the Land of the Free. That was the last thing he wanted me to feel.

We had family in America. My father’s brother, wife and children lived in Phoenix, Arizona. We had met them a few times when they had visited London as kids. I liked them but that was the wrong choice in my sister and mother’s eyes. They were poisonous people as they held my father in high regard. Why would they doubt him? He wasn’t abusing them. I wasn’t really allowed to mention them as a child. I couldn’t risk upsetting my sister. My mother regularly warned that it was to ‘be avoided at all costs’.

So we never spoke of them and I was never allowed to build a relationship with my cousins.

The cousin that called the hospital on 08/08/12 was indeed one of my cousins from Arizona although she now lives on the East Coast. We don’t really have a relationship and as she is back in my sister’s life I am slightly wary of her. I cannot trust my sister any more. No one realises what she is capable of. Just like him. Just like my father.

I want to go back to the U.S someday.

I hate that my last memory of it tarnished my love for the country. I hate that my father destroyed what could of been a wonderful holiday.

I hate that he stole my innocence.

Last week at work!

I have two and a half days left before we break up for the summer – very exciting! Although, living in my sauna of a flat for the next five weeks is not something I’m looking forward to. We bought an air cooler today which seems to be helping but it’s just another object being placed into our overcrowded, one bedroom apartment.

Even though moving to my mums’ is a daunting prospect, you don’t expect that to happen one year into your marriage, I cannot wait to have SPACE! David and I are constantly on top of each other and in this heat it is getting too much. We are both stressing over such little things and getting irritable so easily. It’ll also be nice to have a garden. I’ve missed that so much. Just a space to read or relax, enjoy the sun without thousands of eyes on you or have a picnic on the grass; I’m looking forward to that.

These last few days at work are going to be manic. School trips, school performances, I’m up to my head in it. But come Wednesday, I’ll be free!

At least for five weeks.

Then it begins all over again!

Happy holidays to all the teachers out there.

Monday 16th July 2012 – Shock.

I did not speak to my father for two weeks after our altercation in the car so I decided to ring him to see how he was. Two weeks was a long time for me to stay out of his life. It took a lot of courage to call but it was the right thing to do.

He did not bring up the previous incident in our phone call. Again, he seemed quite pleasant on the phone. I could not fall into his kindness trap again so I remained on my guard. He took me by surprise when he told me that due to his ill condition that week, he had been unable to go on a planned holiday to Norfolk with my sister and her family. Shocked could not even amount to the way I felt by his news. I thought they were building back their relationship, I assumed it would take her longer than two years to welcome him back so quickly into the arms of the people that once detested him so much. Her hate for him was once so clear, she even punished me for my choice to live with him all those years ago and I could not comprehend how she could so easily forget. But after a little thought, it made sense. Neither of them could cope alone, they desperately needed each other to feel secure.

He continued to say his COPD had worsened and how the doctors were all useless, shoving him to one side. I felt sorry for him, he did not deserve it, and as much as I hated the man I never wished him the same suffering he wished me. He told me to visit soon and I agreed to do so, even if I had no intention on keeping that promise.

Little did I know that I’d be seeing him much sooner than I thought.