Chapter 2, Part 2.

We sandwiched the holiday with the road trip and after two weeks we headed back to his brother’s place. I was a different girl to the one who set off at the start. My relatives picked up on this and my father blamed it on my ‘typical teenage ways’ and lack of good attitude. Nobody doubted him as he was the second eldest brother of a large family and a reliable, intelligent man. His word was the truth. I spent the last week as a shadow of my former, confident self. It was a relief to return to London and back to my safe haven. I had naively hoped things would be normal again and my father’s character would restore back to a loving nature.

My idealistic view was shattered immediately. This behaviour was to stay and his treatment towards me was about to become progressively worse.

Having started at a new school to do my A-Levels I was excited to have some distance from him. I tried hard at my studies but could never live up to his expectations. My sister was an academic and had embarked on a clear career path. I on the other hand was more creative using Drama as an outlet for expression. He never encouraged this as he believed I’d never succeed in such a competitive market. My grades began to slip just as my life began to dissolve. I found it difficult to concentrate and drifted off into day dreams. My father left me to it, only voicing criticism if a tutor got in touch with him. Still he offered no help. This was a shock to me as my school work and high achievement was once so vital to him.

As I lacked so much confidence I found it a struggle to make friends especially in the first year. I felt like I had no escape and nothing to feel good about. Over my sixteenth and seventeenth year I gradually began putting on weight. Having been slim as a young child I was not use to being on the chubbier side. I turned to food for comfort. My father would indulge this, taking me to a fast food restaurant almost every Saturday. Food would become a recurring enemy over the next fourteen years.

At the end of my first year I managed to land a part in the sixth form play. I was a lead character and immensely proud of myself (having been an unknown at school I knew it had been based on my acting skills and not popularity).

My relationship with my mother was slowly improving too. A point had been made that I needed to change to be accepted back into ‘her’ side of the family. As I missed my mother and desperately longed for her, I willingly acted on the advice. At that moment I had lost myself. With my mother and sister I was struggling to build a character worthy of their love. Their closeness was apparent and every time I saw them laughing and talking privately, the old feeling of exclusion hurried back. I felt we would never have the same relationship and no matter what I did, I would be second best. After all I decided to stand by my father and not my mother. With my Dad, I was trying to be the perfect daughter. Not talking back, being polite, doing exactly as he said and giving the impression to the rest of the world how lucky I was to have a father like him.

Turning eighteen brought about a surge of independence in me. I had climbed the social ladder at school. I had more friends and my self-belief had come back. I started going out and spending more time away from home. He didn’t care. My safety had never been high on his list. He continued to spend money, allowing me to go to Europe twice on a school trip. He enjoyed looking wealthy. My friends that met him adored him. He drove us everywhere, paid for lunch, gave me hand-outs and acted like the perfect Dad. This wonderful image of him vanished when we were on our own. He instantly turned into the monster I knew he was. If I ever confided in a friend they would question how I could ever accuse my father of anything. I hated them for it but they never knew any different. For a while I convinced myself they were right.

I left school with poor results. Even in subjects I was certain I’d succeed in. My home environment had made a huge impact on the woman I was shaping out to be. With my studies I had almost resigned myself to the fact that I was likely to fail. Relationships and friendships made me feel the same way. Failure was not an option with my father but I was never given any direction from him. It became obvious that he had been waiting for me to destroy my future so that I would have to rely on him. My confidence and self belief had slowly slipped again. I had put on a stone in weight over two years and now being a young woman, felt the lowest I had felt for a long time.

Luckily I had something positive to look forward to. I had decided to continue with Drama and study it for the next few years. Once again I was left to do as I pleased so I grabbed the chance in front of me and used it to excel myself in any way possible. I still lived at home however. Although I was busier now, my life had not changed. If he saw less of me surely he’d want to appreciate the time we spent? But no, he carefully used this rare time to break me down even more.

Insults became a regular occurrence. Labels such as evil, filthy, heartless and moron became a normal thing to hear. Every day I’d be called a name. I tried to be strong and gave as much back as I could muster but he was a big man who terrified me.  He would shout straight through me with so much aggression it made me tremble like a frightened little animal. I often backed down and accepted hearing such nasty words but I never felt they were true. Although I lacked in self-belief, I knew I was not the bad person the family had made me out to be for all those years. Nevertheless, there is only so much a person can take.

We began having blazing rows. Violence was never an issue. My father was shrewd enough to know I’d have blatant proof of my suffering if any scars appeared. Therefore he was never violent to me. Our fights escalated over time but back then I was shocked to see my father acting that way. When I verbally retaliated and attempted to defend myself, he would launch into his attack. It was most likely to be the smallest thing that caused the upset but that didn’t stop him from exploding.

His face would be the first thing to change. His eyes would swell and bulge as he stared right through me. He’d clench his teeth together (a typical yet terrifying pose I never got used to). Then his body would straighten and stiffen. Sometimes he would clench his fists by his side. Occasionally out of complete frustration the door would be slammed or hit. The majority of the time he raised his right hand sharply, inches from my face as if to slap me and swore in another language. The word he always used (Bodmarsh) rings in my ear to this very day. I recently found out it translates into “pervert”.

I managed to save myself for a year having moved in with friends while studying. Unfortunately he still had control (I longed for freedom however could not fund myself) as he paid my rent and fees. Something he would frequently use in arguments to come.

Thankfully studying Drama gave me a perfect escape. I could slip away and create different characters, parallels of myself. I was doing well in my studies again and felt like I was really achieving something. I thought I had made some lasting friendships but once again I was mistaken. They all judged me, assuming as I was in Drama I must be dramatic in nature. They met my father as he would habitually show up unannounced at my flat. He’d enter and be as charming as ever. As soon as he’d leave I’d be visibly relieved, much to their confusion. They questioned everything I said, telling me I was overreacting and “lucky” to have him as my Dad. I was fighting a losing battle.

When the year was up and my studies had finished I returned home. For two years I had been dreading the day. He seemed pleased to have me back, but almost as soon as I had arrived, my life went back to the sorry state it was before. Fearing every move I made it dawned on me that I had no way out.

The next twelve years of my life became a horror story of intimidation, abuse and defamation.

Chapter 2. Part 1 – America and Late Teenage Years.

To be brief and before I post this, I need you to understand that I am posting something that only my mother and husband know about. I want to do this to show him for what he was. His early signs of emotional abuse and emotional incest, need to be exposed. He spent the majority of my teenage years exposing and humiliating me as this chapter will show you all. To reveal the entire truth about that holiday is a massive step for me as I am still hiding a lot of painful moments we shared together, torment that he flung on me and boundaries that he broke. I hope one day, I will not fear the judgement.

Part 1:

The first summer arrived so quickly. I had just finished my GCSE exams and my father had booked a long holiday in the U.S. I had been once before with my sister and that was a very revealing trip for her. She saw him in his true light. However, he spent the whole of the last holiday showering me with attention. I could not wait to return. I was desperate to get away. Things had been left on bad terms with my mother and we barely had a relationship. This felt like a much deserved break.

The memory of the America trip is a painful one. Still to this day I find it difficult to talk about, having only shared the hardest part with my mother in recent years. It was the first time the real character of my father shone clearly. After building up an almost God-like image of him throughout my childhood I was about to have the biggest revelation.

The holiday started out fine. We stayed with relatives on the West Coast then set off on a road trip across California. Money was an important part of his life. Although for years he showered me with gifts, he would often scrimp and save in other ways. Frequently with food as he hated being ripped off. If anything was expensive it was “over-priced” and we would only ever visit restaurants that had clear offers displayed.  However, he was very concerned about external appearance. He liked to look affluent. This was apparent by his choice of car. A white Cadillac with a red leather interior hardly gave off the image of a poverty stricken man. He dressed very smartly for someone on a relaxing holiday and spent plenty of money buying clothes in well known American stores. To the outside world he must’ve appeared so generous and well turned-out. However a new and different side of him was slowly unravelling in front of my eyes.

He lost his temper very quickly and became easily provoked. If someone was tail-gating him or driving slowly on the freeway he would steadily get agitated. He regularly vented his frustration in the car, telling me how un-cultured these people were or that they must be women drivers.  Often he’d swear through gritted teeth, it sent shivers down my spine as his face changed to a threatening appearance (it would be a familiar expression I’d relive over the following twelve years).

It wasn’t only strangers that annoyed him, eventually after a week of the trip I became a giant nuisance too. I had never really been bullied before. I was unaware what bullying felt like so didn’t notice what was happening to me at the time. He began nitpicking about things I said and did. He constantly corrected my grammar and if I dropped a‘t’ off the end of a word he’d cut me off mid-sentence and force me to pronounce it correctly. The way I walked was an issue. If I was too slow he’d tell me to stop lagging behind but if I bounced ahead, he’d criticise me for not waiting as he couldn’t keep up.

Gradually I became aware that it was difficult to put a foot right. This resulted in me being extremely cautious and worried of disappointing him or getting an earful about my “juvenile” behaviour.

Day to day activities was a chore. He had changed personality overnight. He continued to be cowardly, refusing to ask for anything himself, it was my job as usual. If we were out for dinner and he needed the bathroom, he would insist that I should ask the waitress where the toilets were, more specifically the male toilets. If I mentioned that it was an odd thing to do, he would instantly accuse me of being a selfish daughter not wanting to look after her elderly father (at the time he was 59, hardly elderly). He most certainly wouldn’t approach another woman to ask that kind of question. I quickly learnt there was no reasoning with him as when I tried to, I was bombarded with demeaning names.

If we needed directions he made me roll down my window and talk to a passing stranger or get out and run to the nearest shop to ask. He didn’t worry about my safety in these circumstances (I was only sixteen at the time), just as long as he wasn’t coming across as needy or weak.

I felt humiliated for the entire trip on the road. The worst thing (and the most difficult to talk about) is the memory I only recently revealed to my mother.

We often stayed in nice hotels in the cities but when travelling through smaller towns we resided in motels each night. Not wanting to waste money, my father would only book one room. The first time this occurred was our first night away. I was horrified. I was a sixteen year old girl; I knew how inappropriate this was. Praying that he’d have thought this through and asked for twin beds I was mortified to find instead a large double. I didn’t question him. (Although I now wish I had). He thought nothing wrong in his decision. He wanted to keep his costs down. His argument would’ve been clear. Why would I need another room if we were only staying one night? And more importantly, why would I want to waste so much money for no reason? So every night for the next two weeks, we shared a bed.

I remember each night running into the bathroom to get changed, panicking at the thought of seeing him undress in front of me which he had done previously without a care. I never slept in pyjamas, only a long t-shirt. I berated myself for not planning properly, for not having trousers to wear. Tugging my shirt down, I would quickly leap into the bed. My father undressed in plain view of me, stripping down to his boxers and then putting on pyjama pants and a vest. Why did he not go into the bathroom after me? We had never been this open as a family; everyone seemed to enjoy their privacy. Except him. Thankfully, the motels beds in America were huge so I pushed myself as far to the edge as possible. I barely slept the entire holiday.

One morning, towards the end of the road trip we stayed in a small motel in Fresno. As we checked out I caught the hotels clerk’s eye. He was staring at me, confused. He asked my father our room number and if he had the key. My father handed it back to which the clerk inquired,

“Was it just one room?”

I bolted out of that reception and headed straight to the car park, humiliated and ashamed that someone else knew how wrong it all was.

My father had no idea of how other people perceive things and if I dared to suggest the obvious, he would call me ‘evil’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘perverted’. Me, perverted?!

Across the pond.

I don’t really have many ties with America any more. I have always loved the country, wanting to visit from a young child. However when I finally got my chance (see post: ‘America and The Late Teenage Years’), it didn’t pan out in the way I had hoped. I barely remember the first trip other than my sister also being there. Several years on and my sister would refer to the holiday as ‘hell’ and that she was forced to go on it against her will. I was a young teen and oblivious to her and our father’s struggling relationship.

I think my father was oblivious too but out of choice. He was never one to face adversities and upset.

The second trip was more significant. Life-changing even. It was of course, as I’ve mentioned before, the moment my father’s true nature became apparent to me. He had chosen to reveal himself to me on my dream holiday in the country I loved so much.

Why was America so appealing to me?

I have always considered myself to be a Londoner. I love London. As many of my friends are choosing to leave it, I just can’t. It is my home and yes, it’s expensive but it’s so diverse, there is no way I’m leaving it. However, from a very young age, I have loved America.

My father used to tell me we’d live there one day. He even applied for a Green Card but said he had ‘lost’ the forms and that he could not follow it through. I never understood why he did that. Perhaps he thought he would lose his control over me if we had been in the Land of the Free. That was the last thing he wanted me to feel.

We had family in America. My father’s brother, wife and children lived in Phoenix, Arizona. We had met them a few times when they had visited London as kids. I liked them but that was the wrong choice in my sister and mother’s eyes. They were poisonous people as they held my father in high regard. Why would they doubt him? He wasn’t abusing them. I wasn’t really allowed to mention them as a child. I couldn’t risk upsetting my sister. My mother regularly warned that it was to ‘be avoided at all costs’.

So we never spoke of them and I was never allowed to build a relationship with my cousins.

The cousin that called the hospital on 08/08/12 was indeed one of my cousins from Arizona although she now lives on the East Coast. We don’t really have a relationship and as she is back in my sister’s life I am slightly wary of her. I cannot trust my sister any more. No one realises what she is capable of. Just like him. Just like my father.

I want to go back to the U.S someday.

I hate that my last memory of it tarnished my love for the country. I hate that my father destroyed what could of been a wonderful holiday.

I hate that he stole my innocence.

8th August 2012 – Breaking point.

My father had been moved to the cancer unit at University College Hospital in Central London. It was the hospital where I was born. I met David after work and we went there to visit him. I was nervous; shaking. The unit was based on the top floor and there were views across the whole of London from his ward.

As we walked to him, my sister was sat on the bed. I could not believe that once again he had timed our meetings flawlessly. Our last encounter was at the previous hospital and it was less than perfect. The children were there and I got to meet my niece for the first time since she was born; she was 11 months and beautiful. But as I reached out to hold her my sister unbelievably remarked,

“She doesn’t go to strangers.”

I held her anyway and gave her all the love I could in those few seconds before they took her back like the possession she was to them. My six year nephew, a boy I’d once been so close to, barely interacted with me. I missed him so much but he did not know me any more. My sister was partly correct. In many ways I was a stranger to them. However, I never asked for that role. All I wanted was to be in their lives but just like my father, my sister used the things I loved to control and own power. It was easier to allow this than fight it; I’d never been a fighter. She knew this and exploited it.

It was massively uncomfortable being there again with her. I could barely be myself in front of my father, let alone my estranged sister too.

My father decided this was the time to raise the awkward subject of money. I thought I had already dealt with this subject during the last phone call however my father was refusing to let it lie. He had a point to make and he was willing to push me to breaking point.

It was though he was using his upcoming death as another source of control. I did not want to talk about the topic of inheritance under the watchful eyes of my sister. I had always been accused of being materialistic and greedy by her, something he knew and revelled in. I attempted to change the subject but that failed miserably. I looked at him knowingly but he avoided my glance. Instead, he proceeded to instruct me on how my inheritance was to be spent.

I wanted to leave immediately.

I stared at the state of my father. He had lost a dramatic amount of weight. I knew very little of his condition and he avoided my questions. My sister however knew everything. She was his confidante, a position she had a long time ago with my mother. She berated her for this. She punished Ma for putting her in that position. So why did she so happily take on this role with my father? Perhaps, it made her feel special and wanted. I know how much she has always enjoyed her influence on my parents. Each of them at some point in their lives have relied on her, confided in her and portrayed her as the perfect daughter. She had a reputation to uphold. I was happy for her to have that part, I never wanted it. When I had it; I hated it.

I felt incredibly emotional. Most of the emotions were anger and hurt. My sister was watching me as my father continued to dictate his inheritance conditions. There were no conditions written into the will so I knew that either his idea had been refuted to put it in there by his solicitor or that he didn’t have the courage to put it there in the first place. That or he just wanted to say it. He got tremendous satisfaction from saying it, imposing it and ordering me around.

I sat there silently for what seemed like an eternity. David said nothing. He never knew how to deal with my father. I understood that. It was a difficult situation and he often felt it was not his place. But, secretly, I wanted him to shout, to tell my Dad to ‘back off’ and frankly, just to STOP. It was even more upsetting that clearly I was still on my own.

After several minutes I think my father recognised my apparent discomfort. I wouldn’t look him in the eye and looked very uncomfortable. He tried to move the topic onto something else but by that time I was far too upset to stay. My cousin from America had called and it all felt a little too weird. My sister used to call her all sorts of derogatory names. She hated her but all of a sudden she was acting like her best friend as though they told each other everything. I was confused and horrified by her behaviour. If my sister was such a forgiving person then why is she still punishing my mother? Our mother who never abused us, who made mistakes but recognises them, who just wants to be there for us? She welcomed my abusive, dangerous father back into her life, to be a granddad to her children, forgetting how he treated her as a child herself. How he called her names and accused her of creating the depression she had suffered with for years. She has forgotten that. She has forgiven that.

Yet she still punishes my mum. I cannot even tell you what for. I do not truly know if there is a reason. It just seems that she always needs to punish someone. That is how she copes.

I left my father’s bedside and although the two of them attempted to convince me to stay, I knew I needed to get out of there. I needed fresh air, I needed to breathe and be free. I couldn’t look at him any more. He had taken it too far.

He messaged me that night.

“Babitago, I am so sorry to see you go through the very stressful situation yesterday. I love you darling. Can you give me a call”.

I didn’t call him.

His message was just words.

His actions were the things I read now and they were clear to me. My humiliation was key. It gave him everything he needed. His sickly sweet, patronising words washed over me.

Was it really an apology? He was apologising for the way I felt and NOT for what he did! The man was a total joke – dying or not.