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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Self-indulgent Bullshit.

Luckily on WordPress there are filters. Thankfully – there are filters. Unfortunately, you may attract some haters, people that are looking to make a point, to insult and patronise. People who believe they know what counts as “abuse”, that it is as black and white as being slapped across the face. Well it isn’t. I may have not suffered physical violence. I may not have been slapped across the face. However, unless you yourself has suffered from abuse, you cannot dare to comment on what I have been through. To the rude man who decided to comment on my last post, my life, my past is just that. It is mine. If you do not agree with it then do not read it. I am not playing a victim. I do not want that label. I set out on my own journey last year and I do not have to justify it to you – a total stranger. You clearly have no idea what emotional abuse is.

My photos are only a small element of my past. I am not ungrateful for having a life. Everyone is ‘allowed’ to look back. I do not compare myself to anyone else. I am not belittling other’s abuse nor am I expecting anyone’s sympathy or “pity” as you so kindly say. Other survivors on WordPress have been incredibly supportive. They (having experienced it themselves) understand. They can see through the darkness. YOU however, will remain hidden from the light in your miserable little world, looking for someone to attack and criticise for your own personal gain.

Perhaps you have been abused yourself. I hope not. I do not wish that on anyone.

My photos are a part of my old life. My “basic human right” was to eat, not to have a cooker. Clearly that needed to be spelled out to you. Of course food is a human right and obviously there are many people in this world who cannot access that. I am not comparing myself to them. I am born and bred in the Western world. My life would always have been different to theirs abuse or no abuse.

My father had a history of abuse. He terrorised my mother for thirty years. He was a very generous man, so generous that not only did he emotionally abuse her, he battered her too! The man was clever, he learnt his lessons, he never touched me. How lucky for me (!) You are a weak human being. A troll. You do not know me yet you feel free to, behind your computer shielded from view, manipulate my words and condemn my truth. Good luck on your quest to break someone. You haven’t succeeded here.

Now tell me WordPress readers, from the rudeness of this stranger:

Am I “undermining the voices of the real victims of abuse”?

Oh and cheers for your bright and breezy comment that my life is “self-indulgent bullshit”. You really are a pleasant man.

We appreciate frankness from those who like us. Frankness from others is called insolence.
Andre Maurois

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?

Boxing Day revelations.

I mentioned in my last post that my mother had seemed out of sorts on Christmas day and that on Boxing day, her reasons were very much revealed.

It was what I had predicted.

A few days before Christmas, my mother received an envelope in the post. The label had been printed on so it was not clear who it was from. My mother however, instantly knew. I had no idea this envelope had arrived. My mother had kept it out of my sight. I hate secrets so was frustrated to find out she had deliberately hidden it from me. I understand why though. It would’ve played on my mind all Christmas if she had revealed it earlier.

On Boxing Day as my mother chatted about how my she missed her sister’s daughter’s child that she had spent so much time with in India, I began talking about my nephew – my sister’s son and how much I miss him. Memories filled my mind, memories of him as a baby, drooling and smiling at me. He was beautiful. He was kept from me and I have barely seen him in the last four years. My sister has taken away that basic right and for no clear reason. Her anger and hatred for my mother four years ago grew into immense anger and hatred for me. I was getting closer to Ma. I was trying to get as far away from my father. She was always my mother too. Why I had to “compete” for her affection I’ll never know. A mother’s love should be unconditional. As should a father. But my father held conditions on his love. Conditions and expectations that I could never reach. Only one person met his expectations – my sister.

“Something came you know,” uttered my mother as she listened to me reminisce.

My heart dropped. I understood immediately what she meant.

“Well let me see it,” I needed to see it.

She brought out the envelope and handed it to me explaining that it arrived a few days back. I was horrified that this had been a secret. That she kept it private. I no longer want to be kept in the dark, to be the last person to discover shocks and be told that I have to accept them.

As I opened it, a card fell out. Within that card lay several photos of my nephew and the niece I have only ever seen once (at my father’s hospital bed where my sister told him that her daughter “does not go to strangers” as he handed my niece to me). I couldn’t believe my eyes at how much he had grown. It was beautiful and devastating at the same time. I tried not to let my emotion show. As I looked at the card I saw my sister’s handwriting. Her words were affectionate towards my mother. To a stranger’s eyes you would believe that this mother and daughter had a lovely relationship; close even. That of course is not the case. My mother and sister are strangers too. My sister estranged herself four years ago from my mother. She sent an appalling letter documenting lies about her. Lies that my mother accepted.

Was it an olive branch? Was she reaching out? Maybe. I won’t be too negative. Perhaps she genuinely wants her mother back in her life. There is no way that I would stand in the way of that but why be so distant and ignore her for the past four years. At my father’s funeral last year, my sister blanked my mother. Her husband ignored the both of us. That is not the behaviour of a person who wants to make amends.

I am suspicious. I have every right to be.

I have warned my mother that I cannot go through it all again. In 2004, at the end of the year my sister got married, something changed in her. Anger consumed her and it became increasingly difficult to say the right thing around her. I especially grated on her. She will forever look at me as a teenager. A view that is distorted. That opinion will never change. She holds no respect for me as an adult or a woman. The few years that followed were an emotional nightmare. My mother attempted to bend and bow to my sister’s commands but she never met her expectations. Sounds familiar right? So my sister eventually cut her out of her life and within a year or so, she had walked straight back into my abuser’s life.

My father’s prodigal daughter had returned.

She is my mother’s prodigal daughter too. I worry and fear for the future. I can never match their relationship. I have no longing to. Their relationship was unhealthy and suffocating. I do not want that to happen to our relationship.

I had hoped 2014 would be a new start. Where the past would not return and I could move forward.

Now I’m not so sure.

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

Physical abuse – a new insight.

I have always said that my father did not physically abuse me. However, after delving further into the term “physical abuse” and all that it stands for, I am shocked to see that my claim is not true. He was physically abusive. I just don’t have any visible scars. In my quest to research the different aspects and consequences of abuse, I have fallen on new information. I have always believed that physical abuse was to be violent. The person on the receiving end would have scars and visuals to prove their abuse.

Research has led me to realise that there are many other appearances of this kind of abuse. My abuser was extremely threatening. If he did not get his way or I was disobedient, his threatening behaviour would follow. His deep, bellowing voice would resonate through the house or in public and the way in which he ordered me closer and breathed down my neck, talking at me through gritted teeth, all added to his aggressive demeanour. His physical stance and how he towered over me, making sure he had all the power as I cowered into the shadows. The way he would lure me into believing I was safe, even making a joke or choosing a lighter topic of conversation first before launching into his fit of rage and sudden burst of apocalyptic anger. The constant threats of harm against me that he made, telling me that I needed a punch – that it would “sort” me out or to go and kill myself to make his life easier. I never thought of it as physical abuse at the time but telling your own child to commit suicide must be classed as that. Oh and it’s abhorrent too.

His reckless driving and aggressive behaviour in the car all adds up to physical abuse. He put my life at risk every day I spent in that car with him. Every day I anticipated his anger and waited for another explosion. He deliberately chose the car as a place to shout and rant at me as I (in his words) had “no escape”. I wanted to release my seatbelt and fling myself out onto the open road many a time. The thought seemed better than enduring his continuous barrage of contempt.

A key part of physical abuse that I never recognised was how my abuser prevented me from seeking medical help or care. If I needed a doctor, he had to know the reasons why. When I refused, he exploded. The moment that stands out the most is the day of my massive Asthma attack in 2009* where my father refused point blank to call an Ambulance in the night for me, implying that I was seeking attention and being dramatic. The other option was that he drive me to a hospital at 1.am. He refused that too. He never felt worry for me, or fear for my life.

The way he would sharply raise his hand to my face holding it suspended, mid air, inches from my skin – surely that was physical? Yes, he never released it and let it slap my across my cheek but how can what he was doing be classified as anything else?

My father was an abusive man.

In every way.

* See post Notes.

Fight or flight? Coping with panic attacks.

I have suffered with panic attacks for over ten years. I only get them in extreme emotional states. They usually link to my Asthma as in the height of them, I often cannot breathe therefore rely on my Asthma pump or tea to soothe and calm me. If I am ill, my mother tries to keep me calm as the panic can bring on an Asthma attack and vice versa, she hates seeing me like that. It only reminds her of what he did to me.

The abuser brought on these attacks.

Ten years ago, at the age of twenty one, my father was no longer a decent man. By this time, all of his redeeming qualities had disappeared and I was left with a shadow of his former, loving self. Just one second in his presence caused anxiety. A constant fear of speaking or walking or breathing the wrong way was something I dealt with on a daily basis. Panic attacks appeared quickly.

The key symptoms began in his company:

  • sweating
  • a feeling of suffocation, the inability to breathe properly
  • trembling
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • a feeling of dread as if life could be over any second now
  • sick to the stomach or excrutiating stomach pains
  • thoughts of extreme fear

Every moment of every day brought up one of these emotions or physical feelings. On the NHS website a term called

Depersonalisation

is mentioned.

This is the description:

During a panic attack your symptoms can feel so intense and out of your control that you may feel detached from the situation, your body and your surroundings. It can almost feel as if you are an observer, making the situation seem very unreal.

This sense of detachment is known as depersonalisation. Being detached from the situation does not provide any relief, or make a panic attack less frightening. Instead, it often makes the experience more confusing and disorientating.

*Photo from Google.

I have certainly felt this way before. A feeling of watching yourself suffer and being detached from your own reality is frightening beyond belief.

I have found great support through the website http://www.mind.org.uk ** as not only did one of their counsellors open my eyes to the depth of his abuse but the fact that the website is a place that I can find support and answers from.

Without judgement.

**The link to Mind will redirect you to the correct site if you click on it