The decision to stay at home.

Leaving your job, that you love, is not an easy decision to make. As a new mum, people will make assumptions and judgements on whatever choice you make. Stay at home or return to work? A choice that many working mums are faced with. When I got pregnant, there was no such thought in my mind. I wanted to return to work. My job was a constant for me, an achievement and most of all something that gave me a great deal of confidence and pleasure. Leaving was not an option.

However, nothing could prepare me for the feelings I had when my daughter came into this world. I had not expected to feel so overwhelmed with love and be distraught at the thought of leaving her with somebody else. In fact the very notion of it haunted me for the first few months of her life.

We researched many options for child care, shocked at the cost and left in despair at how we, two full time working people, could not afford to put our little girl into a day nursery for the week. The only other choice was for me to return part-time and for my daughter to be placed in a much less costly environment at a childminders’.

Sadly, even the few we visited left me feeling a little sick. Not because they were bad in any way but simply because I had to deal with my separation anxiety and not hers. She seemed to adapt well to one particular childminder, surprising us all (as babies often do) and both my husband and I felt happier instantly.

It seemed to be all sorted at work too as I was to return for two days a week while my little one was at her childminders’. Unfortunately we were dealt a little shock as we didn’t realise childminders charge something called a “retainer fee” to keep a child’s place free until they are due to start. In our case, her place needed to be retained for 6 months which would cost us an un-refundable bomb. We just couldn’t stand to lose that money thus putting us in a very difficult position.

I now had to consider leaving my job.

I read an article at the start of the year about more working mums in Britain, having to leave their jobs as they could not afford expensive childcare. London seems to be the most costly of places and sadly that is where I am. Other European countries seem to have this base covered a little better or a lot better should I say.

In Sweden, the state subsidizes the child care cost so the parents do not have to pay more than the equivalent of £113 a month.

£113.

The fee for our local, well known nursery per month is £1600. Yes that’s right – £1600!!!!! Fourteen times more than Sweden. It’s ridiculous.

I could have easily gone back to work part-time/full-time if childcare in this country cost an average of £113 a month! Instead, I have had to leave work to be at home with my daughter. Undoubtedly, there are positives to this decision. I get to do what sadly, a lot of mums cannot – look after my daughter daily and spend these precious moments with her. I am thankful that I can do that. I only wish I had more of a choice.

On the job front I will be registering as self-employed in the near future and starting a career that fits around my new job of being a mummy 🙂

After all, it is one of the hardest jobs out there and certainly one of the most rewarding.

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.

Our demise (how it all began) Part 1.

As I stated in my last post, my husband and I are trying to work at our relationship. We do this not only for each other but for our beautiful daughter. Our broken marriage sadly was never very strong but I never imagined we would ever be in the situation we are now. Every relationship has it’s ups and downs, ours always even from the very beginning. The two of us are very different people yet we were drawn to each other at the start. He was the man I could be myself with. No airs, no snobbery, no judgement, just easy. I had never had that before but things clearly changed.

I have to break this post into two parts. I mean how do you sum up the downfall of a marriage in one post?

I can’t spell out an exact breaking point or a specific trauma between us. Our demise has been very slow burning over the last three years. I think my husband probably proposed to me for the wrong reasons. We had come to the end of a pretty trying year between us. I had discovered some revelations about my ‘dearest’……things that threw our relationship into disarray and made me question everything I have ever stood for. You know – the ‘I’d never stay with a man if he did that to me’ kind of stuff? It wasn’t soul destroying but I was pretty pissed off – “betrayed” is a good word for it. I’ll leave you guys to draw your own conclusions on that.

We “worked” at our relationship back then, all those years ago and we did actually sort it out. I forgave him and we moved on and on New Year’s Eve 2010, he proposed to me. Maybe he felt pressured. One of the reasons we had problems back then was that neither of us truly opened up to each other. We were in a very superficial relationship. My life at the time was one big headache as my abusive father was very much controlling my life. For the first two years we were together, I lived with the abuser. How could I show or tell my husband the truth about him? He was so charming to my then boyfriend. Like every other, he liked my father, he could not see who he really was and by the time he saw his truthful nature, my husband was too gutless to do anything.

Even with someone I was still alone.

I accepted his proposal. I needed something from him – a commitment. We had just begun living together, I should have seen that as enough. We weren’t ready for marriage but pressures and excitement from family and friends cascaded us into wedding prep and a day that we never should have had.

I cannot talk still about my wedding day. I do not hold good memories of that day. Not because I got married but because of the issues and ordeals my father put me through leading up to and on it. I spent the majority of the celebration in my hotel room with a glass of wine. I felt disgusting as when most brides lose weight for their wedding, I had put on well over 14 lbs within a year for mine. My dress was tight and I knew it was obvious. I put my hair up which is something I NEVER do in my actual life but I did for the most special day of my life because I thought, “That’s what brides do”. Well what about what I do? I really lost myself at that time. I often talk to David about that day. He did not enjoy himself either. The whole thing resembled nothing of us. I really did it for others. We even invited people that meant nothing to us. Why? Numbers? To be polite? Probably.

It’d be very very different if I could do it again but that doesn’t seem likely now does it?

After the wedding, things returned as they were. Except the year would now be tarnished with my father’s death. I do not feel sad for that time, it is the happiest moment of my life his passing but the weeks before he died were hellish. He wouldn’t stop, even at his end. My new husband was phenomenal. He showed me a side of him I thought I would see from there on in – confident, protective, loving. I never saw that guy again.

Stresses followed. My father’s will, my sister, her husband, deliberately making our life difficult, making things awkward. My husband was in a job he wasn’t enjoying. That changed him. He became isolated, discarding friendships in preference of staying at home doing nothing. He even blamed me for not seeing anyone. I saw my friends. It was his choice to abandon his.

I like my independence. I like to spend time alone. By now, we were in each other’s pockets. I couldn’t stand it. I would often go to my mother’s for a night on my own just for a bit of distance. Perhaps that isn’t normal but I wanted to miss him, I wanted to want to go back to him but I was reaching a point where being by myself seemed more of a good thing than being with him.

We hadn’t even been married a year.

Having a child together was not a rash decision nor was it an accident. Things did get better between us. We wanted a child. There are no regrets. My wedding day was not the most special day of my life, the day I gave birth to my precious daughter was and it always will be.

It was also the day that changed everything for me and my husband. He became someone I had never seen before – a man I did not recognise. He ruined the first 6 months of my daughter’s life. A time where I should have focussed my entirety on this little being, I was having to worry about a grown man who should have been there for me instead of only thinking about himself and for that I will never forgive him.

Part 2 to follow soon……….

Child Exposure.

What is neglect? Can exposing children to video games and T.V shows after the watershed be described as abuse? A discussion at work today has left me thinking. Of course it can.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is a prime example. I have heard children talk incessantly about this game. Not only is it not age-appropriate but it is alarmingly explicit and violent too. It is notorious for it’s high levels of violence, sex and language. It is clearly NOT for children. Yet, children are exposed to games like this daily in the UK and around the world.

Coming from a background in where a man (my father) hated, ridiculed and abused women, it is so disturbing to see that this game shows all women that feature in it in an incredibly derogatory light. Women are seen as prostitutes, strippers, moaning wives, dumb girlfriends. Women are not seen as powerful figures. What kind of a message is been sent out to boys and young men? Rape culture is sadly growing. Surely, treated women as animals and seeing them as below men is not helping that matter.

Children are unfortunately exposed to all sorts. Ranging from violent video games to late night TV shows to even porn. How can a child understand anything like that. This is pure neglect and abhorrent abuse.

We are supposed to be protecting children. They are our future. Why is the world just setting them up to fail? Give these kids back their innocence.

Sometimes we’re so concerned about giving our children what we never had growing up, we neglect to give them what we did have growing up.

The Pledge – 2014.

First things first: Happy New Year!

It is the first day of a brand new year. We all have a new path to follow, a clean slate, a time to build bridges, a chance to take more risks, we should embrace the opportunities before fear kicks in.

I am going to make a pledge. No resolutions. They don’t work. I can’t promise myself anything but I can aspire to be a better me. Aspiration and hope mesh together. It does not require constant monitoring or worry that you’ve betrayed yourself. Who needs that kind of anxiety? Instead, I am making a pledge of 10 hopes and aspirations for this year. 10 is an easy number to reach. It is not impossible but gives me time to fulfil them.

  1. Finish my autobiography – I began it in 2010 and it still remains the most difficult task to complete. Only because it requires me to draw up and remember the most torrid of memories, some so bad that I cannot even bring myself to blog about.
  2. Find an exercise I enjoy – I’m not a gym-goer, I’ve tried but I can’t seem to find any enjoyment in walking on a treadmill – alone, with dozens of fitness-mad people surrounding me. I’m not the greatest fan of the “outdoors”. I’m not a hiker, I hate the English weather. I haven’t tried Yoga, perhaps that’ll suit me more. I love dance. I run the school’s dance and musical theatre club at work each term so get a regular burst of exercise then. But I need to find something more consistent that I equally enjoy.
  3. Look in mirror again without fear – I need to like my reflection. I do not think this will be an easy task but if I want to overcome my BDD, this may be the only way.
  4. Take more courses – Last year I went on an Assertiveness course at City Lit in Central London. It is by far, the best thing that I did in 2013. I learnt so much, not only about myself but the way in which others treat me. I am due to take a tap-dancing workshop this month (yes hilarious! I have tap danced before though) so hopefully it will the start of many more.
  5. Say No – A follow up from my assertiveness course. It will be incredibly fulfilling if I can achieve this. It is time to put my needs first.
  6. Take a holiday – Surprisingly, this seems to be an impossible task. Money isn’t the issue; it’s time. Although I get regular breaks through the year (I work in a school), my husband cannot necessarily take the same amount off work as me. We will sort it out this year and take a much needed holiday together. Somewhere luxurious please!
  7. See my friends more – I have become a bit of a hermit. By accident more than anything. This year I must spend more time with friends. I miss them.
  8. Start writing to agents – It’s a beginning. A new one. I need to focus a little bit and have some direction. If I want something then I’m going to need to put in some work. I want to a writer. I better get on it.
  9. Celebrate my birthday – I didn’t last year. I went for a quiet dinner with my husband which resulted in a week off work with gastric flu. This year I will celebrate getting older. My life is worth celebrating.
  10. Believe in myself and what I can do – I must stay positive. I got through a lot worse all those years ago and I need to get my fight and drive back. With hope and a little confidence, I will look to the future with brighter eyes and an open heart. I am capable of many things.

Good luck with all your pledges. I hope you too set some achievable and reachable goals that make you happy.

Love Ros xx

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

A much needed rest!

My God do I need this weekend! I was allowed to leave work a little bit earlier today much to my relief. The stress of the end of term is getting to me. I shouldn’t let it but it does. I have not been dealing with stress very well recently and I have begun to have recurring heart palpitations. It tends to happen around the time of my menstrual cycle but can also be brought on by severe bouts of stress. At least it is Friday and I get to relax somewhat this weekend.

Keep calm Ros and enjoy it while it lasts.

Happy weekend people. Enjoy!

As though we never met.

It’s as though you cannot see me,

you only nod to say hello.

A brief smile perhaps….maybe,

but your talk is just for show.

It’s as though we never met,

or shared a joke or two,

you have your new found friends

and I have seen the real you.

It’s as though you couldn’t care

your face reeks of retribution,

a feeling of despair

as I stand for prosecution.

In front of their watchful eyes

of the girls you so admire.

Judged by women I barely know

and a friendship now expired.

It’s as though we never laughed

or shared sad times together.

The memories are just lost

like my faith in friendship forever.

 

 

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.

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”.

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:

Image

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

Image