Photo 6 – How am I not dead?

At the end of 2013, I began a photographic story showing the state of the home I lived in with my father. I received many responses to these pictures. Mostly reactions of horror from people I know, who never really knew the extent of the conditions we lived in. They had never been witness to it. My father was very clever at disguising certain parts of the house and his dangerous eccentricities and careless nature were always well hidden. Friends and family were only allowed in the showy and presentable parts of the house. I however, saw the truth every day.

The kitchen was one of the worse rooms. It also happened to be the largest room in the house much to my father’s happiness (he saw it as his domain). Guests who visited always commented on how big it was; he loved that. But what if they had looked closer? Would they have seen the dirty and crumb filled toaster from,

(See My filthy life – Photo 3)

would they have stepped into our adjoining garage and discovered his hoarding obsession?

(See My father the hoarder – Photo 2)

Would they have walked around and seen the state of the cooker? A piece of kitchen equipment that I used every day living at home with my father. An appliance that I could not do without. An essential aid to making my life as normal as possible, something that would bring me sustenance and provide me with a basic human right. But what if that appliance was spoiled, unhygienic, unsanitary and rank? What if you were forced to use a machine that hadn’t been cleaned for ten years? It was another task my father had placed in my list of chores to do. A list that went up to eighty four. A mental list that I never lost count of and never completed. My father refused to help in any way. It was not his job. It was MY fault it got into that state and MY responsibility to resolve the tainted problem. Except it was too much for me. He gained so much enjoyment watching me on my hands and knees scrubbing his precious kitchen. I could not stand the humiliation and fearing the examination of my work after.

Why did I ever let myself live like this?

I mean, how am I not dead?

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Dictionary.com

un·san·i·tar·y

[uhn-san-i-ter-ee]  Show IPA

adjective

not sanitary; unhealthy or unhealthful; tending to harbor or spreaddisease: unsanitary living conditions.
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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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And he called ME “dirty”!

Can you believe he dared to call me dirty when you look at this photo? Just an example of the filth he was willing to live in and the amount of work he placed me in charge of. He wouldn’t touch it, he knew he had left it for far too long but it was my fault. I hadn’t cleaned it soon enough. The caked on dirt was massively unhygienic and greatly affected my Asthma. He didn’t care. He rarely used this bathroom. He never provided the cleaning products, it was up to me to do this, to keep the home immaculate. If it wasn’t then I was a “disgusting pig” who couldn’t give a damn about living a “clean” life.

4. Making beds.

The fourth thing that reminds me of Him is making beds.

I’m almost adverse to doing this task now.

For the twelve years I lived alone with my father, day to day chores became a huge struggle for me as my father found this an easy way to assert power and control. He did it with everything but making beds was by far one of the worst chores I had to do.

My father’s O.C.D was beyond saving. He was a complete control freak. I never met his standards in any way. He was so watchful and ready to pounce on me for every mistake.

I learnt that certain chores needed to be done in secret. That way, he would be unable to hover and criticise whilst I was doing them. I would only have to suffer his assessment after.

He often examined my bed making skills. His favourite insult for me was “pig” in reference to that fact that he thought I was dirty: of mind mostly but it did not stop him from finding fault in the way I lived too. As I did a lot of chores behind his back and in hiding, including clothes washing, he would assume I did not wash my clothes at all. Not the case of course. When I did justify myself, explaining I had done it when he was out, a disbelieving puff of air would leave his inconsiderate mouth.

He began monitoring my chores.

He hated that way I made my bed.

At 22 years old my father called me up to the spare room. He had stripped the perfectly made bed bare. He stated I was to make the bed. As I looked down to the carpet at the freshly clean sheets I was confused and immediately worried.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you are clearly incapable of making your bed. This way you can learn. Unless you don’t want to learn? That wouldn’t surprise me either”.

“I know how to make a bed”.

“Do you? Have you seen your bed? The sheets aren’t tucked in properly, the duvets hanging off the bed”.

“That happened in the night. That happens when you sleep.” I frantically tried to save myself from humiliation.

“Are you being sarcastic? Are you? Don’t make me angry,” he threatened.

I gave in.

I picked up the first sheet and placed it on the bed. My heart was racing as he just studied my every move. I tucked it in thinking I had finished the first part of the job. I reached for the second sheet.

“Excuse me? What is this?” he interrupted, “You are not finished. Tuck it in properly.”

“It is finished”. I answered abruptly.

“Babitago!” the name he called me that sent shivers in my soul.

I continued to pick up the second sheet. My blood was boiling too. I was also about to burst. I carefully avoided his frightening gaze and continued with my work. Once I had finished and ignored his examination I left the room whilst he carried on talking and evaluating my poor effort. As I walked away, my father lost his temper. I eased myself into my bedroom and quickly locked the door. I knew he would follow.

The door shook as he threw his hands violently against it, screaming Indian swears at me. I hid in my badly made bed and blocked out the words.

He ignored me for the rest of the week.

After that incident, every time he made the bed in the spare room, I was called to help.

I avoid making beds now.