Joke or Deception.

This whole post may make me sound too sensitive or dramatic to some people. So to them, I apologize. Two days ago, I mentioned how ill I have been feeling recently. I also spoke about how I fell for a practical joke at work. Lately, dates have blended into one. I am not following what day it is as I am just desperate for the holiday. I didn’t even realize that it was April 1st (April Fool’s Day). So walking into work and reading the bulletin board seemed no different than any other day. I did not even question the letter placed on the wall describing the well known visitor coming to our school that day. It seemed plausible, something that was likely so why would I question it?

My bosses and colleagues were quick to laugh at me and my gullibility and yes, for a moment, it was funny. 

However, I have to be honest. I do not respond well to feeling deceived, joke or no joke. My abuser often played tricks on me, plotting against me and finding new ways to catch me out. Although, the practical joke at work was harmless fun and certainly not targeted at me, I couldn’t help but remember the old feelings my abuser left me with. 

I felt the joke was taken further when a colleague placed a letter in my pigeon hole. It was all very official but clearly another joke. This time that I had won the lottery. Someone had taken a lot of time to fool me. I put the letter away only skimming through part of it. Where did this person have the time to spend on such a detailed letter? Was my humiliation the hope from writing it? I did not acknowledge it and when the person later asked about it, I smiled politely shrugging off her question.

Yes, it was a joke and I am quite capable of laughing at myself. My friends tease me about my little idiosyncrasies, like the fact that I am a very slow eater and it is essential to always order before me in a restaurant. I can take a ribbing or two. I just don’t like the feeling that someone is laughing at my expense. I don’t like someone going out of their way to make me look the fool.

My abuser did that constantly. On one occasion, at a party held at the house, my father confronted me in the kitchen. I was bringing down my empty dinner plate (I used to eat my food in my bedroom). He challenged me before I left, demanding a reason as to why I hadn’t cooked anything for his guests. It was like a back handed compliment. He was (in a way) complimenting my cooking skills but pairing it with a lecture on how thoughtless I was. It didn’t help that his friends followed him in and watched my humiliation. The looked on as he berated my insensitivity and selfishness. They laughed with him when he joked that this was my nature. He was clearly drunk and actually denied the incident the next day. I had done nothing to ‘upset’ him earlier so it was completely out of the blue.

My abuser always laughed when I failed. He found hilarity in my failures. Even a misunderstanding of words would be a reason to ridicule me. I was illiterate and totally ignorant to him.

These things stick with you. Perhaps I will always remain sensitive to jokes.

Night Terrors.

It has been over seven months since I last blogged about dreaming of my father. That is because it just hasn’t happened.

Until now.

Last night marks my first night terror in a long while. A conversation with a colleague on our way home from work sparked my memory of my nightmare as we discussed funerals. At 4.am this morning I awoke suddenly. I was short of breath, sweating and disorientated. What had brought on the beginnings of a panic attack? It didn’t take long to recollect.

I had dreamt of the abuser. It was so vivid, so real, that I was completely shaken up. The worst thing was how frightening the actual night terror was. I had dreamt that I began receiving phone calls; phone calls from my father. My dead father. When answering these calls, he would speak to me, from the dead. In whatever hell he is in, he was speaking to me. I could hear his voice so clearly. The roughness of it punctured through the earpiece and entered my soul. In the dream I was as terrified as when I woke up. He sensed my fear, reiterating that I would never truly escape him, that he would forever have control of me and that I was a puppet to him, one that would be his source of entertainment (a position I had in reality).

The nightmare ended abruptly and I awoke with a jolt. I looked around the room, aware that I was on edge, searching through the shadows on the walls, looking for a figure. Like a child, the light went on. I needed reassurance.

I do hope that this will not be a new pattern and that he will not haunt my dreams. I just want closure from him. The everlasting stress that continues even after he has gone, needs to be put to rest. Just like him. I cannot cope with the games my family are still playing, even now. It is only adding to my already fragile state.

Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.
Dave Mustaine

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

Sociopath V.S Narcissist.

After researching sociopathy on the web, I came across the same definition that sociopathy was classed as a personality disorder. A website listed a few general points of a sociopath as being:

  • Glibness and Superficial Charm – my father had plenty of this.
  • Manipulative and Conning
    They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviours as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
  • Grandiose Sense of Self
    Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.” – undoubtedly another trait of my father’s.
  • Pathological Lying
    Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
    A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way – the perfect description of my abuser. Nothing stood in his way when it came to me.
  • Shallow Emotions
    When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises – yet, with my abuser, he expected my emotions to be truth, I had to feel an abundance of love for him.
  • Incapacity for Love
  • Need for Stimulation
    Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.
  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy
    Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
  • Poor Behavioural Controls/Impulsive Nature
    Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others – the abuser never had any boundaries around me. I was forbidden boundaries, he made it so he was free to enter all of my personal space.

I never thought of my father as a sociopath. I had always associated the term with criminals. It was only recently, when a fellow WordPress blogger mentioned to me that my father seemed to suffer from many of these traits did I look further into it. My father fitted into the majority of these descriptions. It’s shocking to read it out loud and see what kind of man I was dealing with for all those years.

I may never have thought of my abuser as a sociopath but I did regard him as a narcissist. My definition of a narcissist has always been of the tale of Narcissus in Greek Mythology. The son of a river god who was incredibly proud. He saw his reflection in a river and instantly fell in love with his own beauty. He became so fixated with himself that it caused his death.

I always saw my father as a narcissist; he truly loved himself. The Oxford Dictionary defines Narcissism as –

  • excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.
  •  Psychology extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

Well that sums my father up to a tee especially the second part. He longed, yearned and craved admiration. He used his cut-throat, sociopathic ways to buy and gain admiration from others. It worked with many.

It never worked with me.

Am I passive?

One word.

Yes.

I could easily describe myself as passive.

My mother disagrees after looking through a list of passive behaviours I was given at the course. Certain words that I had highlighted, she negated. I circled “subservient”. She totally disagreed. In all honesty, I have elements of this quality and do not demonstrate or believe I possess it all of the time. However, in the past, it definitely played a strong role in my life. Do I feel that is is easier to agree with people? Yes. I do. The want to have an easy life, a less stressful life, has left me sitting back, being passive and watching others take control of their lives. It’s left me feeling jealous and tired at the monotony of my own.

Once upon a time, I would never have described myself as subservient. Even living with the abuser did not make me feel like that. I fought against it. But as the years have gone by, my reality has changed and I have been left with a life I am not entirely happy with. 

I am indecisive especially when it comes to making requests. I plan in my head what I need to say or what I want to do but saying it out loud is another story. I feel nervous and as though I am putting the other person out. I am expecting criticism and fault finding within myself. I constantly criticise myself. It’s no wonder I expect it from others too. That’s not to say that I want it. I don’t. 

I put myself down. A lot. 

A key sign of passive behaviour. I do not respect myself enough, regularly finding fault in my body image and appearance. I am the person who hears my complaints the most. I do not want to seem aggressive or attention-seeking. I do not put myself first or value who I am. I wish I could.

I run from confrontation. I fear it. It is no surprise after enduring hell with the abuser. I can’t stand it at work or home.

Am I passive?

Yes I am. Some of the qualities will stay I’m sure but I am making a change to the others. I want to like myself and feel good about myself. I want to feel self-value and respect and be able to stand up for myself in challenging situations. I do not want to play the victim or agree to everything for an easier life.

It’s time to change.

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.