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.

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Wednesday 18th July 2012 – The phone call.

My father called me that afternoon as I made my way to meet a friend for dinner. It was two days since we had last spoken and I was wary when answering the phone. We were not back to having regular contact and I was worried that getting in touch on the 16th was the wrong decision.

As I was on the bus, he told me he had been rushed to hospital the previous night. My heart sank. My memories of him being in hospital had never been good. I began to worry of what he may expect from me.

He said it was serious and again my heart dropped. Now I had to deal with the fact that it wasn’t a prostate problem or a torn ligament, my father may actually be seriously ill. It was a lot to take in so quickly. The doctors at the hospital, after numerous tests, had come to the conclusion that his suffering was either Tuberculosis or Lung Cancer. Both sounded horrific and both petrified me. More tests were needed to determine what it actually was. As I took in the magnitude of the situation, I asked him how he got to the hospital. He explained how he had called an ambulance in the night when realising he could not breathe.

I could not believe it. Three years back when I had my Asthma attack, he refused to call me an ambulance! My life was clearly not as important as his.

He began listing orders:

  • I was to come the next day and bring him a set of clothes including underwear
  • He needed all his bank cards
  • I had to bring his mobile phone
  • David or I needed to check the house to make sure it was okay.

Many other things were said but I had stopped listening. I did not want this role he was forcing on me. I had not talked to him for two weeks because he had told me never to speak to him again. He condemned me as a daughter and now he expected me to take care of him and the house, that it all gets forgotten just because he is ill. Is that selfish? Is that evil? Yes, it probably is but I was working so hard to break free, to cut all the emotional ties and feel secure and strong. This was the worst thing that could’ve happened.

I told him it would be impossible to come the next day. He said he would’ve asked my sister but she wouldn’t return from Norfolk until Friday. I had to do it. Of course, I wasn’t surprised she knew his state before me. I barely knew anything about my father any more. I reminded him that I had a job to do and that it was a very important week at work. He muttered angrily down the phone, scolding me for being so insensitive. I told him I would come on Friday too as I was working a half day. It was just about enough to pacify him.

Faultless: Can’t say “No”.

Whether it’s a simple request or something more important: I just cannot say “No”. It has improved over the last couple of years but I haven’t completely dispelled this weakness.

Whilst living with my father there was no point in trying to say No. If I even showed the slightest sign of refusal, it would cause either a huge argument or lead him to condemn me with his endless series of insults. To say No would be pointless. To say Yes would strangely give me some control even though I was complying with his demands. Of course, there were many commands from him I could not agree to. He would tell me to cancel important plans or dates to help him with something. I always knew that not only was this his way of having power over me but he wanted to ruin my day. He wanted to throw that spanner in the works and disrupt everything. He would pick his moments shrewdly, waiting to give me my orders with incredible precision, waiting to lead me into a panic and confusion about how to rearrange my plans. After a while, it became essential that I refuted him. I was losing every ability to live, I needed something to hang onto and somewhere, in the depths of my soul, I was going to find the power to say No.

I saw a counsellor in 2010 after many years of wanting to speak to someone. One of the things she immediately recognised was my inability to say No. She was one of the first people to call me on it. We set some basic steps to change this terrible habit and if not in the rest of my life at first, at least with my controlling father.

Putting boundaries ahead of him for our relationship wasn’t easy. He would not accept them at first and even though I rarely backed down, he was adamant my counsellor was full of shit. She was “poisoning” my mind just like my mother’s done. It probably didn’t help that she was a woman, he hated them. Yet, through the struggle, I continued to lay down my new rules and regain some of my lost control.

At work and life, I still lack the confidence to say No. I do not want to seem awkward or difficult. People tell me this is my fault. I know it is. I take on too much to the point of despair, wanting to please people and make them proud. I want to be seen as reliable and trust-worthy, dependable and loyal.

All the things my father told me I never was.

Perhaps one day I’ll get there and realise:

There is nothing wrong in saying “No”.

4 spiteful girls – Part 2.

H was a colleague of mine. We worked together from 2007-2008 before I realised I needed to leave that job to challenge myself in a better career.

She was another loud, confident character. An Irish girl who loved attention and seemed very easy to get on with. We bonded straight away and had a very intense friendship. She was away from all her friends back home so clung to me quite quickly. I didn’t mind, I needed to focus my attention to anyone other than my needy father. I opened up to her very soon into our friendship. She was shocked at first, she had met my Dad and assumed like all the others that he was a kind and decent man. He was generous in front of her and acted like the proud father he certainly was not. I never rejected his kindness in front of her, it would have been foolish to do so as it would have created an unnecessary argument.

She didn’t dispute or fight my accusations against my father as many others have in the past. She was just surprised as our relationship seemed so normal and my father seemed so loving.

During the year of 2007, we spent a lot of time socialising together, regularly going out to bars and flirting with men. From very early on, it was clear that H was a bit of a man-hater. She had clearly been hurt in the past and had very candid and brazen opinions of the opposite sex. She was over-protective of me and would “assess” the men I spoke to. She rarely approved of any of them. I was twenty five and had never had a long term relationship that I felt could have a future. I wanted to meet someone who I could love. It was something I saw happening. H wasn’t impressed often reiterating how useless men were and that I’d be better off without one.

At the end of 2007, I decided to become part time at the job I was doing and focus on Teaching. I went on a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in the heart of London.

That course would eventually change my life. Not just in the career sense but it was where I first met my husband, David.

We began dating a month after the course having first begun a friendship. H was suspicious straight away. She couldn’t and wouldn’t trust any man especially ones that I had taken a shine to. She immediately hated David.

Having met him at my twenty sixth birthday party she was confused as to why I was with him. Questioning how I could be attracted to someone who was clearly the polar opposite of me. I was confident, friendly and fun. He was shy, quiet and distant. That was how she saw us but I knew we were both very different than that. We both had layers that we revealed only to each other. H never saw beyond the confidence. I had to be like that in my profession, I wanted to excel in my job and be respected by my peers. I was a people pleaser, a chameleon, I found it easy to adapt to different situations. Inside, there was much more to me as there was to David. We discovered those parts of us together, it was one of the reasons I fell for him.

My best friend K was there that night too. She also worked with us once before she also realised she was better than the job too. K made a few comments the following morning which resonated in my mind. She was shocked that H would not leave my bedroom when we returned, placing herself on my bed as David and I waited to go to sleep. She attempted to launch into a big conversation about nothing just to irritate David and I. It wasn’t going to happen, neither of us were that rude. I think K even tried to usher her to her own room but she just wouldn’t budge. K thought it was strange that H was so possessive and desperate of my attention.

I had never thought of her like that but K was right.

After that night, I began going out less with H, instead I spent most of my weekends travelling down to Essex to visit David. I didn’t mind the journey, I was so happy to be away from my father’s grasp.

H criticised that I was never free and had put a man before our friendship even though she saw me every day at work. It did not faze me, I had longed to meet a man like this for so long I was not about to throw it away. She, in my mind, was still my friend and I was hoping that she would not be insulted or take it as rudeness. I just wanted to make my relationship with David last. It was incredibly important to me.

Eventually her anger came out.

In a long winded message over Facebook, H launched a verbal attack on my personality.

I was horrified.

I was not expecting it.

It was cruel and merciless. She mocked and insulted me freely, accusing me of exaggerating my father’s behaviour for attention. She ridiculed David and shocked me with her nasty words that so naturally fell from her poisonous mouth.

I was upset. I was annoyed. How could I have fallen into this mess again? What the hell was I doing attracting these venomous people into my life? Was it true, were her words true? Too many girls have said it to me before it cannot be false.

Was my father a bad man or was I creating that in my head for attention?

NO, of course not! It happened and it happened to me. She could not face the truth. None of them could.

I won’t be held under suspicion or challenged by short-sighted people.

It is my truth, my life and H was not meant to be a part of it.

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
Winston Churchill

Five days away from David.

From Monday to Friday of this week, I have been away in Madrid on a work trip.

It has been my first five days away from my husband in three years.

Monday:

After a shaky bout of nerves from my fears of travelling and a couple of full-strength sickness pills, we arrived in Madrid, Spain on Monday afternoon. It was raining; so home from home really(!) We were not amused having hoped for sun the previous week. It was warmer though so our happiness was nearly met. The children were happy, weather wasn’t on their mind.

After arriving at the hostel and seeing my prison cell of a bedroom, we headed out to explore the local streets. Our Head of School had been many times before so we were safe hands. The kids loved the beautiful park he took us to, playing for an hour before we went back to unpack.

Back at the hostel, I took my colleagues into my absurd room to show them the strange décor choice the owners had adopted:

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Yes. this thing was genuinely on my bedroom wall. Much to my colleagues amusement.

Tuesday:

After a long lift ride at the Faro of Madrid to see the panoramic view of the city, we left to visit the Prado art gallery with our Comenius partners from Spain. Then after a quick bite we enjoyed a bus tour of Madrid in the glorious sun. I say we, I mean the teachers as the majority of kids had fallen asleep!

Tuesday night and after diving into a sea of Paella, I had a terrible allergic reaction. My throat became scratchy and a rash spread over my face. Thankfully, due to David’s careful and protective packing, I was soothed with some anti-histamines. Good work Dave!

Wednesday:

The heat came and we set off to our partner school on the edge of Madrid. They were wonderful, setting up exciting activities for our children and keeping us entertained throughout the day. They put us to shame, I was very impressed with their kindness and love.

Next was a tour of Santiago Bernabeu Stadium -Real Madrid to the rest of us. To be honest, I am not the biggest football fan. David however is, so I took it upon my duty as a wife to take it in and pay a bit of attention to what I was seeing. My camera was in use most of the time.

The highlight of the visit was eyeing up anything to do with Mr David Beckham- yum!

Evening came and so did the alcohol. Went to bed rather tipsy!

Thursday: 

Hot, hot then even hotter weather. Finally! It had arrived and we all lapped it up. After a lie-in and the first good sleep of the week (we had been kept up the other nights by some rather rowdy, screaming teens), we did a bit of shopping for souvenirs. Later, we headed to the Reina Sofia Gallery to see “Guernica” – Picasso. I love Art. After an afternoon at our favourite park basking in the sun, two of us decided to head back to the hostel to pack. We took two kids with us who wanted to do the same but hilariously got incredibly lost on the streets of Madrid! The other group even returned to the hostel before us. One of the boys with us mentioned that this hour had been one of his “favourite moments of the holiday”. That made me smile.

 Friday: 

Extremely sad to leave. we all wanted to continue our little adventure but sadly it was over and we were greeted back to London with torrential rain!

Welcome home Ros!

See you very soon Madrid, thank you for the memories xx

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