The Right to: Have some ME time.

Whether you have a hectic career, you are a busy mother, you work late or just have too many things to do: everybody needs some ME time. Stress is a killer. It is one of the causes of high blood pressure, asthma, obesity, depression. Stress is a part of everyday life and we meet it at times when we’d rather not, usually when everything seems to be happening at once. The best way to take control of it is to have some time away from it.

Taking ten minutes to read a bit of your favourite book or watch that programme you saved on SKY + can be the difference between keeping your sanity and reaching breaking point.

It is not selfish to have some time to yourself. Yet the pressures around us tell us we don’t deserve to put our needs first.

Last year I posted something on Facebook about wanting to pamper myself – haircut or massage, can’t remember. Many mummies liked it and could empathise greatly. One woman found her way to it and commented that I should be more focussed on my daughter and should not have time to think about myself. This kind of comment was not meant maliciously but it was written sarcastically and it did bruise me. I really struggled with being a preemie mum especially in the first few months. I had only worried about my daughter, so much so that I hadn’t left the house in ten weeks for fear of infection. I was neglecting my mental health which was clearly starting to affect my relationships with others.

If I hadn’t taken any time out for myself, seen a friend for a coffee, gone shopping, had a haircut, I would have gone insane. The stress was overpowering me and I constantly felt ill. I can deal with not brushing my hair for three days or eating lunch at four in the afternoon because my exhausted baby refuses to nap. I can handle waking five times through the night not knowing what is upsetting my baby or wearing an unchanged, sicky t-shirt all day. I can do all that as long as I have some time for myself.

I have been lucky. Even during the worst times with my husband this year, he has always given me a bit of “time-off”. He has taken baby our for a little walk or watched her while I read a magazine with a cup of coffee for ten minutes. In that sense, he was amazing.

Channel 4 in the UK, shows a programme called, ‘The Three Day Nanny’. The nanny goes and helps a desperate family in need of her services. Last week, they showed a couple at breaking point with twin girls. The mum looked after the girls for the majority of the week, solely on her own. She barely left the house and was unable to complete the simplest of tasks as the toddlers were such a handful. In an interview at the start of the programme you could see tears in her eyes as she seemed so anguished at not having any time to relax and do something exclusively for her. Sadly, she did not have a husband that offered her this. In the two years since the children had been born, he had NEVER offered her a hour on the weekend to have the girls and give her a break. He admitted it freely like it was a norm. I’m sure it does happen and many mums are put in this position.

To have a healthy relationship with anyone, you need to have breathing space. That includes your children. Many women get that when they return to work but like the struggling mum on the show, I will be at home every day looking after my little girl. It was my choice (to a point, we could not find affordable childcare) so some will say, “Deal with it” but I am entitled to have a break.

Thank you David for all those breaks you have given me.

And to the woman who told me off for wanting to take care of myself, like I said to you before:

Happy mummy = happy baby.

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Two steps forward……no steps back.

In light of what I posted last week, I feel there is a need to for me to respond to some of the commentators who have chosen to berate my decision to write these last few posts concerning my marriage. A critic deemed me to be very “me me me”. Well that could not be further from the case. In my post ‘Drawing a line for now’, I talk of how my husband and I are trying to move on from the trauma of this past year.

The month is now July and I have written the second part of my marriage’s breakdown after six or so weeks break. There is a reason for this. My husband and I have been moving on – together.

We are not in denial; things have been at their worst this year and in all the time where the two of us suffered in silence, neither felt the confidence to talk to our friends. When the time reached a point where I needed to confide in a friend, the person, through no fault of their own, defended and supported my husband. That threw me somewhat as I needed an ear to listen to me and feel the pain that I was going through. If that is selfish then so be it. Don’t we all want and expect friends to take our sides before our husband’s/wife’s?

I am no way comparing my husband’s behaviour to that of my abusive father. That would be absurd! However, during the worst of this year, I came very close to feeling the same way my father used to make me feel – small, alone, worthless. As a new mum, these are not feelings you want to feel especially when you are tackling so many other emotions too.

Although I may not vent to all my friends the ones I do talk to never judge what I’m going through as that would negate what a friend does. I am lucky to have found many ‘friends’ on WordPress too, people that too are going through similar things and don’t compare my problems (however trivial they may seem) to others’. Thank God. Yet, here I am, justifying to the world, justifying to my critics. I can see how my last two posts have been presented but I am unsure of what you expect from a personal blog about someone’s life…….

Baring in mind that I have only ever blogged good things about my husband, loving things, I think it’s pretty clear that this bump has been pretty serious in terms of our relationship’s solidity.

As for me “airing my dirty laundry” or “humiliating my husband”? Well, I am doing neither.

My husband knows me inside out, to him I am a blank canvas, open and honest. There was a time where I never opened up to him, my lack of intimacy and his lack of communication led to our break up in 2010. From that moment on, we both promised to be open with each other. Just because we have crumbled somewhat, does not mean the honesty has not stopped.

The incidents that have happened and that I write about are upsetting yes. They are upsetting for my husband as he has to relive the mistakes he has made. He is left knowing that his faults and actions are immortalised on a site for the world to see, he has to deal with the fact that the wife he loves so much has seemingly taken some sort of revenge on him……that is what many are saying to me right?

Well, yes, that would be true if my husband wasn’t the one who told me to do this. That would all make sense if my loving husband, who is desperate for our marriage to work, hadn’t encouraged me to be honest in the one place I feel free to be myself. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I love my husband. I just miss the man he was. Writing these things may make me seem like the baddie but I think it’s unfair to say one should not talk about their life on a personal blog. Your bitter words are not comments I “welcome” (!) What an absurd thing to say. I welcome supportive, understanding comments. I am not looking for someone (who does not know me) to analytically attempt to dissect my life and personality and to do it with such hatred and aggression.

Telling me to put my husband first before myself is a most ignorant and ridiculous statement. If there wasn’t a baby in the mix then perhaps that would be an option but at a time where I should have been spending all my energy nurturing my little one, I was spending all my energy trying to save my husband from falling into a pit of despair. I spent every day worrying about him, panicking, fretting. I put everything about myself to one side so do not tell me to consider his feelings. Then to make the bizarre comment that I should write a blog about all the wonderful things my hubby has done for me actually made me giggle. Thanks for that. What a strange thing to say to someone.

You critics do not know my life. You do not know who I am and what makes me human. Just because I have chosen wordpress as an outlet to vent does not make me a bad person. Selfish as it may be, it gives me a voice. Nobody has to read it. I do not look for sympathy, not at all. Just an ear or two to bend. To the commentator who said he “touched a raw nerve”………duh! I think that was possibly your intention in the first place. After all, when I responded, you took it upon yourself to make a rather personal attack. Funny that.

From my first few posts about my marriage breakdown came some concerned wishes and questions from friend’s of my husband. None of them knew what was happening between us as neither of us revealed anything for months. We had always portrayed a happy existence. They never would have known anything was wrong if I had not posted on this blog (and many of you critics would argue that was for the best), yet as a result of it, many got in contact with D, voicing support and love for him, for us. My husband would never have contacted them. I tried so hard to get him to call his close friends but he had gone too far into his isolated world. For them to reach out to him has changed everything and my husband will be the first to tell you that.

If I didn’t care about my husband, why would I have called one of his oldest friends in tears, begging him for help? Because I’m selfish? Why would I have shown so much concern for the man who was once my best friend? I want my best friend back and I know one day, he’ll reappear.

It’s funny, when I first wrote of my father (and again, I am not comparing my husband to him), many critics let out a roar that I was shaming my family, humiliating and tarnishing my late father’s name and that I was incredibly selfish for doing so. I was told to move on in my life and that it is “all in the past”. Eventually, the comments and disapproval faded when people read about the kind of life I led with him and torrent of abuse I endured. Some voices never stopped criticising though and clearly that’ll be the case here.

In terms of depression and although I should not have to explain myself, I will. My husband is haunted with many issues from his past, as many of us do. Last year, with all the drama, he hit a wall. He found himself falling deeper into a world he had left a long time ago. I watched it happen. He and I both had elements of the ‘baby blues’ each showing signs in different ways. Depression? No, we have recently discovered that. A deep fear of failing? Yes a terrible fear. By taking CBT he worked through this fear and I am immensely proud of him. I do not need to tell anyone that but him that and I do, ALL the time. Why? Because I love him, very much and I want him to know he is a good, good man.

Even the best men can be bad. They can fail. They can make the worst mistakes. We all can. I should not have to say any of this and it should be a given but clearly some people need this spelling out.

I wrote in May that I would be revealing how my marriage broke down. It was a decision made by both me AND my husband. He is a follower of my blog so if you don’t believe it why an earth would I write something behind his back knowing he’s going to read it anyway!

I am in no disbelief that there are victims, people out there living terrible lives, going through such unbearable abuse and pain every day that there is often no way out. Someone, in 2014, told me that I wrote “self-indulgent bullshit” when I spoke of the abuse I endured from my father. They also said that I should think about the people living worse lives than me. That my abuse was incomparable to them. If you go to any abuse charity they will tell you, any abuse is abuse – emotional, sexual, domestic, physical – one cannot compete with the other for what you are going through is wrong. We are all individuals after all and deal with things very differently. Perhaps you critics out there are harder than me.

It is deliberately hurtful to tell someone that others are suffering more than you. You have no idea of the inner details of my life, my marriage, my family. I tell the world on wordpress as much as I can say. There are many, many horrible things about my father to tell and I can’t say I’ll ever have the courage to reveal it and yes, there are many things that have happened in my relationships too and for my husband’s sake, my daughter’s and mine, I do not reveal them either for a very different reason.

This is the last time I will ever justify myself for writing this blog.

My husband and I are heading in a very different and happier direction than we were several months ago. We are moving forward and are making conscious steps to heal our broken marriage. We are more honest, affectionate, caring, understanding and even with all these efforts we see that it is a long road ahead for us. We are realistic. Maybe relationships are all sunshine and smiles for you but you are living in a very strange world if that is the case. I am happy that my husband and I are finally on the same page and wish that we find a path we are both happy to follow with or without each other.

I feel like when people judge me they’re not judging me, because they don’t know who I am.

I have O.C.D.

It’s an admission.
One I’ve kept private for many years. It’s appeared on occasion but generally it’s easy to keep it hidden. It’s not your average kind of O.C.D, I do not wash my hands 16 times after using the toilet nor do I have to check repeatedly that I’ve turned the downstairs light off before bed.
Life with my abuser left me with many problems. A lack of self esteem, negativity about my body, lack of ambition, fear of risks are to name a few. I like to think I came out of that terror pretty unscathed, I mean it could have been a lot worse. However mentally, it’s impossible and unimaginable to presume my mind and heart would not be affected in some way.
He left a legacy and I carry the reminder of what he did every day.
I have closure from him. I do not think about him. I do not care to talk about him. Time has done it’s job. I do however know that he’s had a massive impact on who I am now and sadly, I am left piecing myself back together again even two years after his death.
Today I admitted it to myself.
I have O.C.D.
I do not like my things to be moved. I cannot deal with my things being touched without my permission. They just need to be left as they were. It doesn’t bother anyone nor does it cause harm but today my family experienced my O.C.D.
I tried an attempt to explain.
Every day with the abuser was another day of being watched, checked. My room was forever “inspected”. What if it didn’t meet his standards? What if I had not put one thing back in it’s place? Well then I would know about it. He’d go in there when I was out or at work. When he could take his time finding faults.

He’d pick at everything. I’d come home to find my clothes, which had been piled up on my chair, strewn across the floor with a note saying,

“A chair is not a place for clothes”.

Or some shampoo bottles that were nearly empty – stacked on my desk. He’d point out that they should have been thrown away months ago but it was not his “job” to do it.
There were times he moved actual furniture in my room to find dust, to find mistakes. He’d do it through the entire house. He had to find fault.
I hate someone, anyone, moving my things. My personal things.
My counsellor told me that you cannot expect someone to come out of something like that untouched and perfect. O.C.D. is often associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I suffered a great trauma with him. He controlled every aspect of my life for sixteen years even down to the way I felt about myself. I needed to get the control back. It is a complete form of control.
He controlled my money, my health, my choice in friends, my relationships, my food, my feelings, my habits, my freedom, my choices, my insecurities.
My family can’t relate.
We have argued today.
They refuse to understand and continues to make light of these issues I have.
I cannot ever be perfect.
I wouldn’t want to be.

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.

A new low for self image.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25962930

Just look a this. It’s a sad portrayal of what women in Venezuela have to endure to be accepted and valued. Women, who are beautiful in their own right, are being made to feel worthless by a man. Mmmm, that is not an unfamiliar feeling for me. However, this man should know better but he uses his power to degrade and criticise naturally beautiful women to make them change and alter their looks to the extreme.

This programme (shown last night on the BBC in Britain) tells the story of several Venezuelan women on their quest to be crowned Miss Venezuela. It intensely worries me that women are encouraged to amend their appearance from such an early age. Many of these women are ‘persuaded’ to have breast enlargements, nose jobs, liposuction and even (and more disturbingly) have a ‘mesh’ sewn onto their tongue to stop them from eating solids. It’s ludicrous!

Women everywhere are fighting to be heard, we are fighting to be respected. Our natural beauty should be praised not judged. I suffer from low self-esteem, I have many insecurities about my appearance. I can’t imagine living like that. In a society where my body, my face, my beauty is constantly monitored and criticised. A world where ambition is fading and women are seen to have no real purpose, other than to be “beautiful”.

We were never meant to all look the same. We should be nurturing individuality not distinguishing it.

Say it together.

We are beautiful girls.

.Image

Just as we are.

Ros xx

Boxing Day revelations.

I mentioned in my last post that my mother had seemed out of sorts on Christmas day and that on Boxing day, her reasons were very much revealed.

It was what I had predicted.

A few days before Christmas, my mother received an envelope in the post. The label had been printed on so it was not clear who it was from. My mother however, instantly knew. I had no idea this envelope had arrived. My mother had kept it out of my sight. I hate secrets so was frustrated to find out she had deliberately hidden it from me. I understand why though. It would’ve played on my mind all Christmas if she had revealed it earlier.

On Boxing Day as my mother chatted about how my she missed her sister’s daughter’s child that she had spent so much time with in India, I began talking about my nephew – my sister’s son and how much I miss him. Memories filled my mind, memories of him as a baby, drooling and smiling at me. He was beautiful. He was kept from me and I have barely seen him in the last four years. My sister has taken away that basic right and for no clear reason. Her anger and hatred for my mother four years ago grew into immense anger and hatred for me. I was getting closer to Ma. I was trying to get as far away from my father. She was always my mother too. Why I had to “compete” for her affection I’ll never know. A mother’s love should be unconditional. As should a father. But my father held conditions on his love. Conditions and expectations that I could never reach. Only one person met his expectations – my sister.

“Something came you know,” uttered my mother as she listened to me reminisce.

My heart dropped. I understood immediately what she meant.

“Well let me see it,” I needed to see it.

She brought out the envelope and handed it to me explaining that it arrived a few days back. I was horrified that this had been a secret. That she kept it private. I no longer want to be kept in the dark, to be the last person to discover shocks and be told that I have to accept them.

As I opened it, a card fell out. Within that card lay several photos of my nephew and the niece I have only ever seen once (at my father’s hospital bed where my sister told him that her daughter “does not go to strangers” as he handed my niece to me). I couldn’t believe my eyes at how much he had grown. It was beautiful and devastating at the same time. I tried not to let my emotion show. As I looked at the card I saw my sister’s handwriting. Her words were affectionate towards my mother. To a stranger’s eyes you would believe that this mother and daughter had a lovely relationship; close even. That of course is not the case. My mother and sister are strangers too. My sister estranged herself four years ago from my mother. She sent an appalling letter documenting lies about her. Lies that my mother accepted.

Was it an olive branch? Was she reaching out? Maybe. I won’t be too negative. Perhaps she genuinely wants her mother back in her life. There is no way that I would stand in the way of that but why be so distant and ignore her for the past four years. At my father’s funeral last year, my sister blanked my mother. Her husband ignored the both of us. That is not the behaviour of a person who wants to make amends.

I am suspicious. I have every right to be.

I have warned my mother that I cannot go through it all again. In 2004, at the end of the year my sister got married, something changed in her. Anger consumed her and it became increasingly difficult to say the right thing around her. I especially grated on her. She will forever look at me as a teenager. A view that is distorted. That opinion will never change. She holds no respect for me as an adult or a woman. The few years that followed were an emotional nightmare. My mother attempted to bend and bow to my sister’s commands but she never met her expectations. Sounds familiar right? So my sister eventually cut her out of her life and within a year or so, she had walked straight back into my abuser’s life.

My father’s prodigal daughter had returned.

She is my mother’s prodigal daughter too. I worry and fear for the future. I can never match their relationship. I have no longing to. Their relationship was unhealthy and suffocating. I do not want that to happen to our relationship.

I had hoped 2014 would be a new start. Where the past would not return and I could move forward.

Now I’m not so sure.

2013: A review January – March.

Ten more days to go until the first day of 2014. Once again, another year of my life has flown by and I am looking back on quite a year. This time however, I get to look back and share it with a new group of people: my WordPress followers, readers and fellow bloggers. What a year it has been. Lets look back together.

JANUARY

On the 6th of January, I decided to begin a blog on WordPress. It was a dangerous and risky decision. It would expose a life I had hidden from many people for over fifteen years. It would reveal truths some people would rather not know. It would portray a man (who many trusted) to be an evil, ruthless, callous and hurtful father who destroyed his daughter’s soul. It would be my story, a story that provoked people I had not seen for years. People who felt it was necessary to “warn” me and give their advice. They made it clear that I should keep my personal life “private” and that I might “hurt people”. I made it clear back that I had not set out to hurt anyone. It was much more than that. It was closure. It was freedom. It was truth. It would be a chance to speak and finally be heard. It would be the best decision I had ever made (bar leaving him of course).

FEBRUARY

On the 4th of February I celebrated five years together with David. We set our anniversary from our first kiss. It was a moment that changed my life. Gone were the men who used me and took advantage of my loyal nature. A new man had walked into my life. Little did I know that day he would make me as happy as he does now.

During this month, I received an abundance of support from old school friends and past colleagues about the blog over Facebook. I was taken aback from their kind words and blown away by their words of encouragement. It meant so much to know that there was no judgement, that people could see into my past and believe it, acknowledge it and most of all – accept it.

MARCH

I celebrated my 31st birthday on the 2nd. David took me to a South African restaurant in Central London for dinner. It was decadent and adventurous. I felt a little out of my comfort zone but enjoyed it nonetheless. Unfortunately, the food didn’t sit well within me and after a day I began to have horrific stomach pains. Within moments I was nauseous and lying over the bathroom toilet. I thought I had food poisoning but it was a severe case of gastric flu. The week after my birthday was spent at home ill. To top it off, my virus passed onto David who joined me for most of the week holed up in bed. Well Happy Birthday to me!

On WordPress I recounted the triggers that remind me of my father and his abuse. Fruit, movies, plastic knives and forks, making beds and self-help books were the entries I made in March, they continued into April with Furniture stores and Toothpicks and table manners. These triggers still happen. If I see certain objects or hear a particular piece of music, if I visit a particular place or even hear a phrase he might have said; it propels me back to a specific time where life was frightening and upsetting every day. I become emotional very quickly and find it difficult to calm down. A panic attack can be the worst reaction to one of my triggers.

March was the month where a colleague questioned my “motives” for writing this blog. She accused me of taking “revenge” on my dead father. That it was unkind and unfair to do so. It surprised me that she could not empathise with my situation nor could she understand my reasons for revealing my truths. I was annoyed by it. I did not feel I should have to justify my choices and actions to her. She did not know my father. She had not met him. She only had her morals and principles and values to go on. I have morals. I have principles and values too. That is an important part of why I decided to do this, because of my values and principles. I would not be following them if I hid away and “forgave” him for all the hurt and pain he caused.

Dead or not, the truth will always shine through.