A Magnet for Enemies.

My father always had a special way with words.

He was able to take anything positive and twist it into something negative. He could find fault anywhere especially when it came to me. He believed that I was a “magnet for enemies”, a phrase he regularly used to describe my relationships with my peers. A fear of authority would instigate this as well as a need to be seen a certain way. He rarely felt the need to support or be on his daughter’s side. I was never in the right.

This started as a teenager as soon as my journey of abuse began. As a child, whilst living in a safe and friendly neighborhood, we as children often played outside on our street. There was no worry for our safety, the adults would appear every half hour to check no one had been hurt or no arguments had occurred. We were free to be children. A group of us quickly became friends and spent many a Sunday afternoon kicking a football about or chasing each other up and down the pavement. We could even play tennis across the road, cars looked out for us and we looked out for them in our little cul-de-sac.

A few doors down to us lived a large family with several children of different ages. Our families did not mix. We knew more of them from other neighbors than directly from them. They weren’t particularly social and never made much of an effort to integrate. The family had two boys. One, P, nearer my age. Another, D, a few years younger. D seemed nice. He was friendly and chatted when he saw us. P, on the other hand, was not so nice. He was known to terrorize the ‘ethnic’ kids. He had made it quite clear a few times that he didn’t like “Pakis”. I hated and feared him equally. My parents advised me to stay away from him so I did.

As we grew older, relations did not really improve. As teenagers, P would make noises at me if he passed me in the street. On one occasion, I was at the local park with a school friend, cycling. P was there with a group of male friends. I couldn’t have been older than fourteen. They too were on bikes. I had spotted them earlier and was deliberately keeping out of their way. Clearly he had seen me also and had strategically planned an attack as we made our way to the exit of the park. I was petrified as the boys waited eagerly for us. On approach, we were stopped. The gang began circling us like vultures. My heart was racing. My friend, obviously more gutsy than I, began shouting at them to let us pass. Sadly, we were met with raucous laughter. They started to carelessly bump into us, scratching our ankles at free will as they swung their legs back and forth. After several minutes we managed to find a gap between the group and slid out. I have never pedaled so fast in my life to get home. On our return and in tears, we were immediately comforted by my dad.

He was another man back then before he changed.

This memory implanted in my head. However, it did not implant in his.

Many years later when the emotional abuse was in full swing, my father and I starting bumping into P. He had disappeared for a short while and I had felt incredibly relieved. For some reason, P would chat confidently to my father. He never communicated with me. On the odd occasion he may have glanced over with wary eyes but never did I get a “Hello”. It seemed strange that the two of them had struck up such an unlikely alliance but I never put anything past my father.

He started to rave about this sensible, polite young man called P****. My heart sank. I reminded him of my very vivid memory yet somehow my father had conveniently forgotten it. He accused me of lying because of course, how could he forget? If it had happened, surely he would remember?

P had the same characteristics as him. Charming, confident and ballsy, they were bound to be drawn to each other.

We often ran into him at my worst place on earth – the Supermarket. A place where my dad and I regularly had conflicts. Our encounters usually happened after my father and I had argued relentlessly and we were both in foul moods. P would always say Hello to him even if the time could be deemed inappropriate. My father didn’t mind. If anything he would vent his exasperation to him much to my horror and humiliation.

No matter who it was or what they had done to his daughter, my father loved my ‘enemies’. He wanted to feel affection for the people who hurt me. That was just another way to demoralize and debase me. His actions were all intended.

Both P and my father were renowned bullies. Both were ignorant, bigoted and racist and both hated the world. They were made for each other. I was not missing out.

His love of approaching and befriending anyone who disliked me or upset me continued through the entire period I lived with him. Whether it be friends or boyfriends, he would find virtue in all of them. I was the one in the wrong. It even crossed into every day life. Any chance to humiliate or reprimand me was too much to miss out on for him especially when it came to figures of authority; doctors, bankers, colleagues – no matter what, if they had something critical or insulting to say, he would support them all the way.

There was no justice.

I was always guilty.

Dear Teachers.

Dear Teachers,

In the five years I spent at your school, I can honestly say that I am not entirely sure how I came out of it so sane. I was sent to you after my prodigal sister. I am aware (by my parents) that I did not do exceptionally well in my entrance test and certainly not as well as my sister, who came in on a scholarship. However, my grades (or lack of them) did not matter to you. I was my sister’s sister. I had to be good…………right?

But I wasn’t.

I was me. Not her. Yet that was never celebrated.

The first two years of high school, I slipped under the radar. I did okay, I went by unnoticed as did my grades. I excelled in the subjects I thought I would: Drama, Art, Music and English. The complete opposite to her. I was not an academic to you all. I was never part of any social dramas nor did I take any leadership roles, it was easy to forget about me.

I remember when you did notice.

When my grades slipped too far, I became your target. Suddenly, the girl you’d forgotten became the most memorable of all. Especially when you remember who my sister was – your star student. The morning you took me for a walk around the school and down to the hall where the plaques hung showing your most prized pupils of past. Where my sister’s name shone and burned into me. The place where you pointed out what I should be achieving and that I “had a lot to live up to”.

What you didn’t question was why.

Why was this sweet, lively girl’s grades dropping?

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my childhood was falling apart. That my home-life was like a war zone. The year was 1996, I was fourteen years old, my mother had just applied for divorce and you decided to put me on report.

You close-minded, arrogant idiots.

The reputation of your school and the notoriety of your name was much more important that a young girl struggling to make sense of her family disintegrating before her eyes. You humiliated me by dragging in my parents to discuss my “future”. Who were you to predict that? While my mother already held me in low regard, you only fuelled her perception of me. I had further disappointed her and as you placed my sister on that righteous pedestal, her place in my mother’s eyes grew stronger. You played a very clear part in the destruction of our relationship and for that I will never forgive you.

There were no positives made. No redeeming features. Humiliation and bullying was your forte. I was lost and no one was reaching out to guide me. No one.

Perhaps, if you had spent more time concerned about the welfare of your students and their emotional well being, I would have better memories of you all.

Sadly, I don’t.

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?!

How could we ever live like this?

How could we ever live this way? When I look at this photo I feel sick. It’s so upsetting to think that these were my living conditions for twelve years of my life. After my mother left home, my father refused to do any housework. The kitchen (as it was so big) became messy and dirty easily. It was an arduous task that needed time. My father expected everything to be done as quickly as possible and he often demanded me to do it. He would never provide any cleaning advice or materials for me, he only ordered that it needed be done to an impeccable standard. It was ultimately my fault the the house had degenerated into the unsightly state it was. I left mess wherever I was. He said he’d always know what room I’d been in. His O.C.D was uncontrollable when we lived together. Any room that looked ‘lived in’ would be classed as untidy. My room was an empty shell (photos to come soon) with no character. I couldn’t keep anything in it, he would just find fault. He did that already, life was so bad.

The kitchen was where he spent most of his time. I liked the kitchen, it reminded me of my mother plus I loved cooking. However, as he was mostly in that part of the house, I avoided it at all costs. I only used the kitchen to make my dinner and of course, to clean it under his watchful eyes.

The dirt and grime on the floor only built up over time. As he never attempted to clean the floor himself and by the time he was assigning the job it me,  it had an enormous amount of filth encrusted on it. It became impossible to clean it normally, it needed an industrial machine. When I remarked that we should get a cleaner in, I was told I was a lazy moron who was incapable of such a basic task.

The floor was never back to a glimmering state. I gave up, as did he. For a man who was obsessed with outer appearance his house never reflected that. Why his friends never questioned it I’ll never know.

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