Bite your Tongue.

There are many times where one will need to put this into practice. Often with total strangers, sometimes with friends and colleagues. Usually it’s with the people closest to you – family.

The people that supposedly know you the best seem to be the ones that overstep the mark on a regular basis.

I’ve talked many times on here about boundaries. My family overstepped every boundary I set for myself; they themselves rarely kept any.

From telling me every intricate detail about their private lives to offloading their problems at work on me or irritating friendship issues at every opportunity to the sicker elements of boundary crossing where they’d expose details of their bowel movements while I ate my breakfast or moaned about the constant itching they felt ‘down there’. How is that appropriate? Just because I am here doesn’t mean you can use me as your confidante, your doctor, your therapist.

I cannot give anyone medical advice and even if I could, it would be fairer on your child to see a professional.

As adults and parents ourselves, we too have everyday stresses and problems. I especially know that you need to find time to work through those sorts of stresses in order to get some happiness. You set personal boundaries to protect yourself, to assert your personal rights.

You can be close to a parent without overstepping these personal boundaries. You can share, talk and listen to each other but each of you know where to stop. You know when it becomes suffocating or stressful or inappropriate. Who would want their child feeling stressed out or worried to talk to them?

Not having a proper social interaction and taking a real interest in your children can massively affect them. My family on greeting me, never asked me how I was or what I had been up to – they only used the time they had to talk about themselves. If I dared to mention something to do with me I’d either be accused of and berated for being insensitive or selfish. This would only prevent me from ever offering any information up about my life so when things went wrong in relationships, work or home – it would solely be my fault for not opening up to them sooner.

How could I? It was an impossible vicious circle. If I revealed it all they’d use it against me or feel it was their right to delve as far as they could. Rarely did I receive anything helpful or thoughtful. Usually it was anger and criticism – probably why I don’t deal so well with it now.

I have bitten my tongue for many years and continue to do so now.

My father was a racist, homophobic chauvinist. He hated people from Africa, women drivers, lesbians, politicians, the police. He was critical, opinionated, angry, spiteful, dangerous and very tricky. Talking to him about anything was a risk. Sometimes it was a risk I had to take for my own sanity. In the weeks where he was ignoring me over some “mistake” I’d made, the silence was almost excruciating. If I attempted to make conversation with him he’d either leave the room or stay and utter nothing. He would not even look at me. He’d only break his stubbornness – his rancour – his belligerence if I weakened myself and asked his advice on some other mistake I’d made.

Power is everything to people like that.

When I do not speak of myself is when my family talk to me the most. When I show an interest in their lives, I am heard but only for an opinion on their matters and they’ll be pretty miffed if that opinion is anything other than supportive.

Conversation never flows with my family. Therefore I go through life biting my tongue.

Would be nice if others did the same (!)

 

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The Right to: Have Boundaries.

In recent months I have forgotten about my one vow two years ago of being assertive and actively pursuing my personal rights. For many many horrible years, my rights were abused and I neglected what most humans do for themselves without thought.

My husband and I are re-assessing ourselves.

He wants to change and so do I. We know that what we’ve been doing isn’t working so something needs to shift. Happy that we are on the same page, I need to build my confidence, self-belief and assertiveness to become strong and secure whatever our future may bring. My husband’s aims are confidence, communication and drive. We all have personal goals we long to achieve. I am more of a talker than a doer sadly but all that is about to change.

We all have the personal right to have boundaries.

My father encroached on my personal boundaries daily. He regularly interfered with all aspects of my life from reading my bank statements to rifling through my drawers and bin (trash), from checking the bath’s cleanliness after my every use to locking me in his bedroom to “think about my behaviour”.

He had no sense of boundaries when it came to me. It all began as a child. He was always too tactile and it always felt too much. Sometimes a child needs reassurance not with a cuddle but with words, with support, with laughter. He never respected that and I was wrong to question him if I dared. So I didn’t.

I came from the generation and background where adults made every decision for the child even if it infringed on their personal choices. There was a lot of sitting on laps at parties and gatherings even up to the age of ten. I was a child who had to do as they were told. After all, these people were friends, not paedophiles or child abusers…………well would anyone have ever known otherwise? I never liked hugging strangers. I resisted many a time only to be reprimanded for doing so. It was deemed rude to refuse a kiss or cuddle from a male or female friend of the family no matter how uncomfortable I felt. My feelings were rarely acknowledged as a child in these matters.

On a trip to see family abroad and when an important member of the family passed away, my refusal to kiss the lifeless body of this relative was deeply frowned upon and angered some of the people closest to me. However, I was a young girl who had never seen a dead body before let alone someone I knew. It was terrifying. I desperately wanted to leave the room where everyone else was weeping. I was out of my comfort zone, awkward and numb, there were no tears, only a need to be elsewhere. On my abnegation, I was almost forced by one family member to approach the bed to “pay my respects”. It was only then that I felt emotion. I was embarrassed and angry that my personal rights were being ignored and disregarded. It did not matter what I wanted at that point. The extreme anguish my family were feeling was not mirrored by me and for that I became a monster.

Death is not something any child should have to come face to face with but if they do, it should be dealt with calmly and in a controlled environment putting the child’s feelings and needs first.

A child should not be condemned for not acting as you would. They are their own person and that should be celebrated.

I couldn’t assert my boundaries as a child. I wasn’t allowed any. My family broke boundaries as often as they breathed. Everyone was far too involved with each other and crossing endless emotional lines.

As we grow, we put up barriers, guards to protect ourselves. Having a life where boundaries do not exist makes you more open to letting people through your fragile borders. The lines of infringement become blurred thus allowing people to take advantage of your weaknesses. Boundaries can be established at any point in your life. You only need to know them and assert them when the need arises.

Saying is often easier than doing but ultimately, placing down rules of what is acceptable and comfortable to you will only make life better. We all want to feel safe and boundaries do just that.

They are your personal right.

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?!

What my parents never taught me.

There are several things my parents never taught me growing up, in fact I’m not sure where I actually learnt them from. It may have been my sister but I cannot be sure as from the age of four and five, my sister and I began to drift apart. As soon as she hit her teenage years, I lost her and my parents did nothing to stop that from happening.

Over the next few posts I will write about the key things I seem to have taught myself, some basic. But other self-taught life lessons have resulted in many years of mistakes. Do I blame my parents for this? Sometimes.

I know a number of people who will find that “typical” of me but I feel as a parent, you must guide and advise your children in their life. Of course I never expected them to lead my life or have such control over it like my father did. However, a little guidance is not to much to ask, is it?

At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.
Jane D. Hull 

Poison kisses.

I hated my father touching me in any way.

As a child, my father was always very affectionate with me. Perhaps too much. He never took as far to say it was abuse but I almost felt too loved. He had no boundaries and regularly entered my personal space. He would barge into my bedroom without knocking, invite me into his to talk (usually about my mother), corner me after I had a bath and was wrapped in a towel. His hugs and cuddles were continuous and overwhelming and as much as I adored him as a child, I still felt suffocated by his love.

As a teenager and after the discovery of his true nature, I detested receiving affection from him. Probably because I knew it was not genuine or there was an ulterior motive to it. I would avoid the hugs, I didn’t want to be that close to him for that long. His kisses became like poison to me. His dry lips on my forehead pushed me to the point of repulsion. He knew I didn’t want them, he knew we no longer had a relationship filled with affection but he insisted that as his daughter and as my father, he had the right to kiss and hug me, no matter how uncomfortable or unnecessary they felt.

As an adult, I couldn’t stand his touch. He often made me link arms with him as we walked through a shopping centre or the supermarket. He said it was because I would stride ahead leaving him unable to keep up in the sea of people. I knew he just wanted to humiliate me. He didn’t care what people thought, if strangers looked; he enjoyed the attention.

If he tried to kiss me or show any “fatherly” affection, I would offer him the top of my head. It was the only part I could take being touched. I could brush out my hair afterwards and remove any trace of him.

Hugs and cuddles became non-existent as I couldn’t stomach pressing my body against the man with no boundaries.

His kisses were poison, his love was artificial, his hugs were suffocating.