Drawing a line……for now.

I’ve taken a bit of time out from my last post. Time being the operative word as there never seems to be much of it. My husband and I received many responses from friends and well-wishers, all concerned about the state of our marriage and future.

There is not much I can do to reassure them.

I’ve weighed up the pros and cons to my marriage, to my husband. There are several on each side.

PROS: 

  • Wants to change
  • Great father
  • Supportive of my dreams/goals
  • Not nasty by nature
  • Genuinely cares
  • Sensitive
  • ‘Gets’ me

CONS: (when he is at his worst)

  • Moody
  • Distant
  • Bad listener
  • Says hurtful things
  • Acts before thinking
  • Negative

When I look at each list I see great things and pretty awful things. I’m torn. On one hand I desperately miss my best friend and on the other, I long to be on my own, away from the endless stress.

The two of us have talked. We do see a future together but understand that it will be a very long road to travel before we feel truly happy. As arduous and trying as that may be, I have to draw a line in the sand if I have any hope that my marriage could work.

I grew up in a broken home. My mother and father’s idea of marriage was abusive and destructive. It led them to be terrible role models for me and my sister. I did not look up to either of them. I do not want this for my daughter. I want both of us to be fantastic role models for her, showing her what it takes to be a good parent, wife, husband and friend. We will make mistakes – no one is faultless but that too is a lesson she should learn. Except here, mistakes will be made in a loving environment not in a harmful, loveless one. I just cannot do that to her.

So this is it.

A line is drawn.

Let’s see where we go from here.

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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

Taking on other people’s problems.

Turning other peoples’ problems away is a big weakness of mine. It is a topic we discussed on the assertiveness course I recently took. Many of the other participants felt the same way. They too were inclined to carry other peoples’ weight on their shoulders. Even when the burden grew to be too much, the fear and anxiety of betraying them or appearing to be selfish would stop them in their tracks.

The sense of feeling needed or wanted can immerse someone with their own issues into much deeper problems. Taking on your friends’ and family’s problems and attempting to resolve their dilemmas are too much to bear. I took on my family’s issues from an early age. My sister and I have both been our parents’ confidante at some point in our lives. She once enjoyed her position so much but eventually realised how unhealthy the whole process was. My mother (the problem teller) never saw it that way. Why would she?

I have, in the past, become the inevitable: a shoulder to cry on for almost anybody around. The want to please and be accepted takes over and personal boundaries are automatically crossed. To be seen as dependable and reliable is the desire, to go against it would be like betraying myself.

However, I am human and no human can live a life like that.

The problem is that when you finally decide enough is enough and you want to please yourself from now on, the people you have been there for at their beck and call, well they don’t like the new you. They don’t like change and resentment begins to build. Questions form on how your existing relationship was originally defined. How did you so easily accept the role of adviser and life coach?

The only life you should be coaching is your own.

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
Jim Rohn

The personal rights we forget we deserve.

You and I have the right to:

  1. put my needs first – there are times in our lives where we have every right to be selfish. It is our life after all. It is essential that we have concerns and care for ourselves. Within reason, we need to be selfish in order to be happy.
  2. be treated with respect – I spend most of my time worrying about how I treat everyone else that I forget I deserve the same treatment. For years I feared my father who demanded constant respect. I associated the word with him and that there was no justification for me to get it. I know now that I deserve it too, I deserved it all along. Respect is a basic right.
  3. express my feelings whatever they may be – Anger, hurt, sadness, fear, happiness: I have the right to feel these things and not have to justify them when I do.
  4. say NO – If and when I need to, this is an essential right for me, one that I am only just getting to grips with, one that will take more time to develop but one that I hope will strengthen in me. Someone called me a “walkover” recently. It hurt me. I am not a walkover or a pushover. I have a soul and I have rights and I do not appreciate being perceived in that way.
  5. have opinions and values – they count. They are relevant and as important as yours. They are mine and should not be dismissed at any whim. I am a woman with a mind. Accept it.
  6. not take on other people’s problems – A very significant right. At times, we want to and will be there for others. That may be part of our character but like anything else, we have rights to refuse this when it becomes too much. Mentally, there is only so much a person can take on. Other people’s problem bring a new stress into our lives, we worry and fear for them, we become consumed by their issues often neglecting our own. It seems selfish and unkind but this is not a right that we demand constantly. I have spent hours listening to the trials and despairs of my family wishing they’d factor in that I have problems too. They didn’t and I was left dealing with theirs, feeding them advice and becoming a confidante to them. A position I was so desperate not to be.
  7. make mistakes – it’s okay to be wrong. It happens. I have the right to be wrong. Do not punish me because I am not perfect. No is.

Not even you.

Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.
Bob Marley

Am I assertive?

Possibly. Maybe? Perhaps not as much as I would like to be but – I’ll get there!

I have learnt a lot about assertive behaviour over the past few weeks. I see it appearing within myself and then fading into oblivion when I feel like I’ve taken on too much. I want to change and become more assertive but it seems like a daunting task. Over the past week, on the few occasions I’ve put it into practice, it hasn’t totally gone to plan.

In one situation, with a family member, it went completely awry and blew up in my face. One thing our tutor mentioned, was that the people we know may respond negatively to the fact that we are changing. They may not like the new assertive and confident person we are turning into. They are far too use to us being passive, obedient and subservient. It is too much for them to undertake or comprehend and their frustration is bound to come out. Which it did in my case. A rather loud and heated argument followed with me letting rip. Sick of pushing my anger and emotions to one side, I let a little leave me and I did not apologise nor feel guilty after. Within reason we all have the right to feel anger – appropriately of course. I think I will choose my words more carefully next time. However, I do not plan to stop being assertive.

This is a new me.

A confident, open and clear me. One who can ask for what she wants, accepts criticism, feel anger without being judged, feel she has human rights and can say ‘No’ without fear of letting someone down.

She isn’t here yet and I’ve never seen her in me before but I hope, I really hope that I can find her.