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

5th September 2012 – The funeral Part 1.

I have to blog about this nightmare of a day in two parts as there is just so much to tell you all.

Below is an extract detailing the sequence of events that I endured that day, taken from my autobiography. The beginning of the extract explains the lead up to the day, part of which I have mentioned in an earlier post about the phone call with my sister but as it is part of the chapter and important to the story, I will keep it in.

Part 2 will follow on Saturday.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN – THE NEXT CHAPTER

 

My father’s funeral took place on September 5th 2012 in East London. It was based at his church and fully organised by my sister. I was sent an email confirming the date and time.

On the only phone call after my father’s death, my sister rang to talk about the arrangements. I wasn’t really a part of it but to keep up appearances, she called anyway. It was an awkward conversation, the first without my father present. It was like speaking with a stranger, with someone who knew nothing about the history with Him. Yet, she was well aware of everything. She was just choosing to make every excuse in the book to defend him. She talked consistently about the funeral. I remained silent. What was there to say? I felt I could not speak my mind. That was until she began talking about songs and flowers.

She mentioned that a song, my father’s favourite song, would be played as his coffin entered the church.

That song was, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.

When I think about the lyrics,

I see trees green, red roses too. I watch them bloom, for me and you and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

These are not the lyrics that remind me of my father. They only make sense to me in reference to him being gone and me being free. I’m pretty certain my sister was implying the opposite.

It was also a lie.

What a Wonderful World was actually my mother’s favourite song. Somewhere along the line, my sister’s lines had become blurred. My father never really cared for music.

In regards to the flowers, my sister casually asked me how much I would be willing to pay for my half of them. She listed the types of flowers and what would be suitable to surround the coffin. That was as much as I heard before I couldn’t contain it any longer. The tears I had held back for years, the trauma and the stress all exploded and in one breath I made it very clear I would not be contributing in any way. Everything poured out. I couldn’t hide it anymore, she needed to know.

Through endless streams of tears, I mustered the strength to reveal as much as I could. She listened, at best, she was silent. I could never tell the difference. I told her about the last time I had been with my father – the afternoon in the car in July. I opened up about the way he behaved and the fear I felt. Expecting my older sister to understand, I was shocked by her response.

“He was very ill by then,” she said as she began pleading his case, “he was probably tired; he couldn’t help it”.

She wasn’t even there and she silenced me.

Why did I think my father’s greatest supporter would back me?

I left the conversation immediately.

 

5th September 2012

I had been dreading this day for the previous two weeks. It had finally arrived and I had to gather any courage I had left to face it. My friend Natasha offered to come for the service. I accepted her offer, she and David were my protective barrier that day against the people who just couldn’t understand.

His funeral service was held in his church in East London.

As the burning sun beat down on me, I wiped the nervous droplets from my brow and entered the church. My sister and her husband were stood in the corridor greeting everyone. I hugged her, reaching out for some kind of emotion but I received nothing so I continued my way through to the church hall where the funeral was taking place. My brother-in-law did not acknowledge my presence.

I looked around the barely decorated room. It was filled with people, friends of my father’s, family and neighbours. Everyone was smartly dressed, paying their respects. I was wearing loose black trousers and a bright green peplum top. I needed to wear something bright. I needed to show them I was not mourning. Green was the colour that calmed me; it was the obvious colour to wear. My eyes immediately met with my mothers’. I headed straight to her. A man appeared by me as I struggled to keep my emotions together. He gestured for me, as my father’s daughter, to sit at the front. My breathing quickened as I placed my hand tightly on my mother. I could only muster one “No”. The man didn’t understand my refusal. I looked at my mother. She understood. She knew I was not going to pretend nor be part of the farce I was about to face. She told me to sit where ever I wanted. That turned out to be the front of the back section of chairs left out for late arrivals behind the congregation. I positioned myself directly ahead of the aisle.

My mother turned back to see if I was okay. I smiled. I was glad she had come especially with the support of her close friends. It was important for her to witness it.

My sister entered with her husband and a band of people followed her. She was being comforted by his friends. I watched as she made her way to the front row. She hugged one of his pastors, a man who thought very highly of my father.

Music began. Thankfully, it was not What a Wonderful World. Heads turned as his expensive, wooden coffin was carried in. It was placed on a stand directly ahead of me. I stared at it; I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

I was determined to get through the charade. I had brought a notebook with me. I focussed on putting all the feelings I was going through into it and wrote down a detailed account of the following two hours. Writing was the one thing that kept me going through that horrible, deceitful service.

29th August 2012 – A long two weeks.

Between the day after he died to the day of the actual funeral, was a very long two weeks; almost endless. I was on my school holidays still and aching to get back to work (that’s pretty unheard of!) but staying at home and dealing with the aftermath of his death was getting too much.

My sister, as executor, was in charge of organizing the funeral. She rarely spoke to me in this process often using her husband to deal with me via text message. It was completely inappropriate and inconsiderate. She was well aware that my relationship with my brother in-law was non-existent yet she could not face me. She had no reason to be so distant instead it would’ve made more sense for me to want to keep away from her. However, I wasn’t in need of attention or a spotlight. I didn’t get a kick out of making things difficult.

The only contact we had was one phone call.  This was where she talked in detail about the lead up to the funeral. She was very well spoken almost putting on a fancy accent. It was another way of raising herself above me and appearing to be ‘together’. Clearly, the pressures that had been put on her were getting too much. As much as she held the pretense of being cool it was backfiring. I could hear the tension in her voice.

She talked about the funeral programme, the order of service and the people invited. She asked me if I wanted to say a few words about him at the funeral.

I paused. For a split second it occurred to me that this was my chance to reveal it to all of them, all of his worshipers, that he was an abuser, a tormentor and the man who ruined my life. It would be sweet revenge and satisfaction and my sister would never see it coming. She genuinely and naively believed that I wanted to praise my deceased father.

I refused her offer.

It wasn’t the right way to do it and I could not risk letting emotion get the better of me. When I eventually told my story and the truth about this horrible man, it would be on my terms and to the whole world not just the confines of his church.

My sister also had the audacity to ask me to contribute to the payment of the flowers for the funeral. I was shocked that she was able to justify spending one hundred pounds on the fact that simply, he was our father. I did not want to spend money on a man who monitored the flow of mine for years. I would’ve happily scattered some dead wood and rotting flowers around him if I could. She knew about the abuse and how he tortured me mentally but last summer she chose to forget it all. He had become a martyr, an idol and in her eyes he ‘saved’ her.

He never saved me.

I saved me.

22nd August 2012 – The funeral home.

Sorry this post has been delayed, what with moving this week, it has all been a bit chaotic but I can finally return to the story of my father’s death last summer.

During the day of my father’s death, I received a text from my brother in-law detailing the plan to meet together the next day at the funeral home to discuss arrangements for my father’s funeral. It was all still very raw and as I had spent most of the morning feeling overjoyed and released, it came as a surprise that I needed or that they wanted me to be there. Perhaps they were his wishes.

I did not want to go.

It wasn’t local, instead near my father’s church in a part of London that only reminded me of him. I didn’t want to be anywhere that reminded me of him. He was no longer here, let me mourn, grieve and most of all – move on. The funeral was not something I really wanted a part of. However, as my sister was organizing it, curiosity got the better of me.

In the last few weeks of my father’s illness, it had been revealed that my father had made my sister executor of his will. It was a deed he had once forced upon me several years back when I was living with him.

I remember being called to his bedroom one day to find a heap of papers laid out with a pen beside them.

“Sign it,” he ordered without even a glance in my direction.

“What is it?”

“Don’t question me, rude! It’s to be the executor of my will. Sign it. Someone needs to do it.” His gaze centred on me, “Why are you being difficult?”

It was futile trying to reason with him. I had crossed the line and dared to question my father. I was causing conflict in a simple situation. There was one problem though, I did not want to be executor of his will. I did not want that sort of thing put upon me. I didn’t want to have to deal with him even after his death. Could I voice this? Of course not. So, I had no choice. I picked up the pen and without any knowledge of what I was signing, my name began to appear on the lines he was pointing to.

I never heard about it again. He clearly thought he’d never die.

The next time I would hear it would be the moment I found out he had drawn up a new will. One that my sister was now executor of. I had been dropped in place of the prodigal daughter. She, unlike me, was happy to take on her new role. She enjoyed control and power much like my father. They were the same in almost every way.

At the funeral home, my sister took charge. I was horrified to find out that they had invited a woman along. A woman who was a friend of my father’s but in the situation that it was, it seemed inappropriate for her to be there. They weren’t confidantes, he never saw women like that. In fact, this was a woman he had taken great pleasure in criticizing over the years. A woman that I have heard some appalling things about from my father’s mouth. He was disgusting. The way he spoke of his so-called friends was shocking. It felt odd to see someone I knew irritated him at the funeral home the day after he died.

She seemed devastated. Why wouldn’t she be? My father may have insulted her behind her back but to the outside world he treated her like his daughter. Her child even called him “Uncle”. He was worshiped and respected by many and my sister – his new found disciple – did not want others to see him in any other light.

I sat and watched as the three of them took charge.

I sat back.

I was only there to show face.

My mind was elsewhere and judging by the strangeness of the day, I was anticipating the upcoming funeral.

I was right to be worried.

21st August 2012 – Freedom. At last.

21st August 2012:

  • Seven people are feared dead after a bomb blast by Syria border
  • Comedian Phyllis Diller dies, aged 95 in her home in Los Angeles
  • Witchcraft related products are to be banned on eBay

And my father, aged 75, takes his last breath and dies.

The following is a short extract from the penultimate chapter of my autobiography – “The release” describing the events that took place one year ago today.

Tuesday 21st August 2012.

I awoke at 7.am  to my sister ringing me. She said our father had slipped out of consciousness that night and although he was still breathing, there would not be much time. She insisted that I left home at that point in order to reach him in time and meet her there. I told her it would take me over two hours when she would be there in thirty minutes. I was making excuses; I did not want to go. I just couldn’t do it again, feel suffocated and trapped, staring at his lifeless body, but more than that –  be alone, watching her fawn and weep over my abuser.

After a stressful morning and what seemed like an eternity of waiting, I checked my phone. I had received several calls from my brother-in law but had not heard him ringing. I phoned back only for it go straight to his voice-mail.

  Suddenly, my phone buzzed; it was David.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Ros….honey….”

It didn’t take many words.

I knew.

My husband told me he was on his way home to me as I put down the phone.

Emotion encompassed me as I stepped into the kitchen and I finally broke down. But the words that left my mouth are the words that I truly felt at that moment.

“I’m free, I’m free!”

I wept and cried loudly, shouting these words repeatedly.

I was finally free from him.

Saying goodbye doesn’t mean anything. It’s the time we spent together that matters, not how we left it.
Trey Parker

I absolutely agree with this quote. I could not say ‘goodbye’ to him. It is only a word, it has no meaning. This is very poignant and I’m assuming that “Trey Parker” is referring to a positive memory about someone he loved. I’m not. In the years my father and I spent together, he mentally tortured, insulted, hated me and that will always be how I look back on our relationship.

The memories are tainted and no longer innocent. The love I had for him as a young child has disappeared and only a sea of disappointment spreads across a land of sadness.

Today is one year since my father died and although he left a mound of issues behind him for us to deal with (well, he was never going to make my life easy alive or dead), I can finally begin to move on.

I am free. I am free.

I am finally free from that monster.

29th July 2012 – The wedding.

29th July 2012 was the day I was maid of honour for my best friend’s wedding. I had been looking forward to it for a while. The day was a chance to put everything that was happening with my father to one side, to forget and enjoy, to create new memories with close friends.

I had gone to K’s place the day before the wedding. David’s parents had driven me up there. I had warned my father that these three days would be very busy and that it would be unlikely that we would be able to speak. It was partly true. I did not want to check up on him at the wedding. I wanted to relax. I made the conscious decision not to call him. It was the right choice.

On the 28th, the night before, my father ignored my request. He called whilst we were eating dinner and watching a film together. It could not have been a worse time as after that I was no longer calm and relaxed. He was able to change emotions entirely.

I shouldn’t have picked up. I should have let it ring. But that would’ve been mean and he most definitely would have rang again and again until I would have to call him back. Then his wrath would be so great my evening and following day would be ruined. It made sense to answer it.

The first thing he said was,

“Call me back”,

before hanging up. My father never had any manners, he wanted me to ring back because it was cheaper on my phone. Every time he called, I had to call him back. The man had money! God, it infuriated me, but I suppose the little things always do. Back in conversation my father argued my text about no contact for the next three days. I didn’t really fancy a tirade from him in front of K so I attempted to usher him off the subject. It didn’t work and he continued to moan down the phone. I just wanted a few days off from it all. I wanted a clear head and a chance to feel free. With him, I was chained up, tied to his demands and restricted by his control.

I allowed him to rant without responding myself. K could see me becoming upset and stressed. He carried on complaining saying that I cannot expect no contact for so long and that I was “needed”, he said to call on the 29th just to check he was okay.

I refused.

He was silent for a moment. Knowing what was about to happen, that his anger would burst in the most inappropriate way, I quickly added a defence to my refusal.

“It will be a hectic day and I will be switching my phone off. I have to show respect to my friend Daddy”.

He listened to the word ‘respect’ although he did not like when I felt it for others as he knew there was no feeling of respect for him.

He made me promise that I would call on the 30th. I told him I couldn’t “promise” anything.

But that I would try.

Happy 1 year anniversary K.

Thank you for including me in your special day, it truly was an honour.

xx

End of a bad day…..

Hi all,

I was planning an important blog today as the 1st of July 2012 was the start of a major event in my life that happened last summer.

Today has been a hellish day and I just haven’t been able to write that piece because of it. I promise to regain that strength to tell you all about it tomorrow. Now, I am left feeling completely stressed and anxious and needing a large vodka even though I barely drink.

Anyway, enough pity.

Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.
Hans Selye