The Power of Mind.

 

As everybody else tucks into their mince pies and mulled wine, I have spent the last week wondering why my horrific nightmares have returned. I haven’t dreamt this way since living with my abuser and even in times of the worst stress, I have been able to wake myself up from these nightmares. However, recent nights have not allowed me to do that. Instead, I endure the horror and wake distraught, confused and panicked.

Only last week I dreamt my father attacked me and woke up suddenly, clinging to my wrist, letting out a jumble of frightened words.

I was convinced my wrist hurt for the rest of the day. How long had I been holding it? Long enough to hurt myself? Maybe. The fear, but the fear was so intense.

My father was never physically violent to me. I use the word physically specifically as there is such thing as emotional violence. He did that all the time. He never hit or slapped me. He didn’t throw things at me. Yet he would spit on the floor beside me as he called me a filthy pig and he would kick over a rammed dustbin to remind me it needed emptying.

Nothing was ever direct. How wrong of me for wishing it was.

He would not give me that. Physical violence would have been a privilege for me as he often stated. I did not deserve an ending to my “misery” with him, he would mock – he often joked about my life knowing he was the cause.

I dream the most horrible of things. Frightening, sadistic, gut-wrenching.

Some nightmares of the past will never be forgotten. The moments where I woke in the night dreaming that my father had slit my throat and I had witnessed my own death. The dreams where I see myself lying in a coffin with ligatures around my neck or that I cannot breathe as I sleep. Those dreams haunt me.

When most things are certainly better in my life, there is a great deal of other stresses to contend with at the moment. Things my husband and I cannot avoid and although we are supporting each other, times are tough. Mentally it’s tough.

It is something I cannot openly talk about on here with fear of who may read it but be sure, I will express what we are going through over the next few months as sadly, I do not believe we will be free of it for a while but when we are, well, god I pray these nightmares disappear.

The mind is magical. When you think you are coping, it shows you in ways you cannot expect that you aren’t. Positive thinking and all that jumbo is fine, but really all I want is freedom. I can deal with life stresses – what life runs without lows, troubles or faults? I just cannot deal with surprises, tricks, manipulation. I should not have to any more.

I should not have to dream of a man who tortured me so badly.

He is dead and gone and I should be free.

 

 

I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Chapter 1, Part 2.

My relationship with my mother and sister only worsened as I grew older. I became as they described a “spoilt, selfish brat”. I was not a rebel; I never acted “wild” although they often accused me of it. I just wasn’t my sister. She was my mother’s confidante, she listened to her. She was quiet, academic, intelligent and dependable. I, on the other hand, was a loose cannon. My mood swings fluctuated daily, I was irritable and wound up by their presence. I seemed to love drama and allowed it to follow me around. At least in some way I was still a part of their life, I wasn’t shut out completely. I just wanted her to notice me.

During these years my father did the unthinkable. He spent all his energy convincing me I was unloved by my mother and sister. He would tell me openly if he heard them criticise or insult me, every day there was something new to tell me. As I walked in from school, he would beckon me to his room to discuss the events of his day and what he had heard. The door would be locked of course.

I didn’t realise the signs but my mother always had deep concerns. In her eyes he showed evidence of abuse very early on.

He always crossed boundaries and saw nothing wrong in doing so. Not just with me but also with my sister. His touch, his kiss, nothing felt right, it was always too affectionate. I always felt uncomfortable and that he was crossing a forbidden line. But I could never voice this, not back then anyway.

My mother moved out when I was fourteen as she could no longer cope. She tried to take me with her but his grip was too tight and by then I was too brainwashed. My sister left as well and the two teams grew stronger with hate. On a rare holiday to visit her family, I was constantly bombarded with commands to stay loyal to her and see my father for the evil creature he was. Of course at that moment my loyalties were firmly with my Dad and I was left distraught by their abhorrence towards him. They were just worried for my safety as they had been with my mother for years but I was blind to it. I made false promises to them out of fear saying that I would stand by her, I still loved her and I longed for the past when we were once happy.

The moments we laughed together, where I watched her cooking up my favourite meals in the kitchen following her every move. The times when I cuddled up to her as she had her afternoon nap and painted her face with make up as she slept.

Nothing stands out to me more than those memories. The fighting and arguing are almost a blur, those moments just blend into one another. But the flashes of our happiness remain completely clear.

I can’t wait to taste it. My mother has been promising to do this for months. My sister doesn’t seem as excited as me probably because she has tasted it before. It’s a long wait. I go into the garden, the sun is beating down on me. The smell is different out here too. I retreat back inside as the oven timer rings; it’s ready!

My mother tells us to wait as it’s very hot. “Wait”? I can’t wait. I’m not patient. I want it now. She is hovering over the cooker but I can’t see what she is looking at. Her face seems confused.

“What is it Ma?” asks my sister.

“I think we may have gone wrong,” Ma replies.

I stand on a stool and see a glass dish filled with rock hard toffee.

“Where are the flapjacks?” I am puzzled.

“It doesn’t matter, we can eat this instead,” Ma swiftly states.

She takes the dish to the sink and chips away at the toffee. Chunks are flying everywhere. My sister is clearly put off as she walks away. I plan to stay; I like toffee. My mum hands me (what I think is) a very small piece. I put the hot toffee in my mouth.

The top layer begins to melt and I’m left with all the crunchy bits. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to eat. I can’t chew, I’m trying with all my strength but I can’t. Little nuggets are stuck in my teeth. My fingers are pulling at them, I am not enjoying this.

My mum is proudly watching me devour her bizarre creation that I so excitedly popped into my mouth a few minutes ago. My tongue is rooting around trying to pull every last bit from my teeth. It’s not working.  I eventually manage to dislodge a chunk and consider whether to swallow it whole or to do the unthinkable and spit it out.

 

This happiness saved me. The dark moments in my life made me return to these memories and through my adult years I have visited them plenty of times.

After the holiday we returned to England. I flitted between both of my parents but predominantly stayed with my father in the family home. It wasn’t ideal, my mother knows now that she should have used all of her force to take me out of that house as ultimately this was the time where he “worked” on me the most.

I dreaded the time I had to spend with Mum. Not because I didn’t want to see her but I knew of the interrogation I was about to face from her and my sister. Each would take it in turns to find out his plans. I clammed up, refusing to answer their questions, feeling more and more left out of their partnership. Their desperation, their anger was immense, it suffocated me. The only person left to turn to was my father, his plan was having the desired effect. I started to resent them.

My parents underwent a prolonged and painful divorce. My father contested it at first. He was incredible stubborn and my mother had insulted his masculinity. Divorce was frowned upon in his homeland; it was not a choice that entered his mind no matter how unhealthy and destructive the environment was.

I made the decision at this moment that would change my future forever and chose to live with my father. For months I did not speak to my mother and sister, they both cut my Dad out of their life, effectively cutting me out too. I know my mother sent my sister’s boyfriend to find me at home. That day my father and I had been out somewhere. On our way home we noticed someone at the front door peeking through the letterbox. My father parked away from the house. We watched as the young man eventually gave up and left. My father said nothing. I was frightened and he did nothing to reassure me. I kept my distance from them partly out of fear but mostly out of shame.

The pampering and lavish gifts continued for three months until it all suddenly stopped. My father had what he wanted; me. The conditioning had also ended. He had reached the point he wanted, he had the five bedroom house all to himself. He was the king of his palace.

Summer was near and I was living in a dream world. But what was coming around the corner was about to shatter everything I thought to be true and real.

© Roshni Bhattacharya 2013

The Pledge – 2014.

First things first: Happy New Year!

It is the first day of a brand new year. We all have a new path to follow, a clean slate, a time to build bridges, a chance to take more risks, we should embrace the opportunities before fear kicks in.

I am going to make a pledge. No resolutions. They don’t work. I can’t promise myself anything but I can aspire to be a better me. Aspiration and hope mesh together. It does not require constant monitoring or worry that you’ve betrayed yourself. Who needs that kind of anxiety? Instead, I am making a pledge of 10 hopes and aspirations for this year. 10 is an easy number to reach. It is not impossible but gives me time to fulfil them.

  1. Finish my autobiography – I began it in 2010 and it still remains the most difficult task to complete. Only because it requires me to draw up and remember the most torrid of memories, some so bad that I cannot even bring myself to blog about.
  2. Find an exercise I enjoy – I’m not a gym-goer, I’ve tried but I can’t seem to find any enjoyment in walking on a treadmill – alone, with dozens of fitness-mad people surrounding me. I’m not the greatest fan of the “outdoors”. I’m not a hiker, I hate the English weather. I haven’t tried Yoga, perhaps that’ll suit me more. I love dance. I run the school’s dance and musical theatre club at work each term so get a regular burst of exercise then. But I need to find something more consistent that I equally enjoy.
  3. Look in mirror again without fear – I need to like my reflection. I do not think this will be an easy task but if I want to overcome my BDD, this may be the only way.
  4. Take more courses – Last year I went on an Assertiveness course at City Lit in Central London. It is by far, the best thing that I did in 2013. I learnt so much, not only about myself but the way in which others treat me. I am due to take a tap-dancing workshop this month (yes hilarious! I have tap danced before though) so hopefully it will the start of many more.
  5. Say No – A follow up from my assertiveness course. It will be incredibly fulfilling if I can achieve this. It is time to put my needs first.
  6. Take a holiday – Surprisingly, this seems to be an impossible task. Money isn’t the issue; it’s time. Although I get regular breaks through the year (I work in a school), my husband cannot necessarily take the same amount off work as me. We will sort it out this year and take a much needed holiday together. Somewhere luxurious please!
  7. See my friends more – I have become a bit of a hermit. By accident more than anything. This year I must spend more time with friends. I miss them.
  8. Start writing to agents – It’s a beginning. A new one. I need to focus a little bit and have some direction. If I want something then I’m going to need to put in some work. I want to a writer. I better get on it.
  9. Celebrate my birthday – I didn’t last year. I went for a quiet dinner with my husband which resulted in a week off work with gastric flu. This year I will celebrate getting older. My life is worth celebrating.
  10. Believe in myself and what I can do – I must stay positive. I got through a lot worse all those years ago and I need to get my fight and drive back. With hope and a little confidence, I will look to the future with brighter eyes and an open heart. I am capable of many things.

Good luck with all your pledges. I hope you too set some achievable and reachable goals that make you happy.

Love Ros xx

Night Terrors.

It has been over seven months since I last blogged about dreaming of my father. That is because it just hasn’t happened.

Until now.

Last night marks my first night terror in a long while. A conversation with a colleague on our way home from work sparked my memory of my nightmare as we discussed funerals. At 4.am this morning I awoke suddenly. I was short of breath, sweating and disorientated. What had brought on the beginnings of a panic attack? It didn’t take long to recollect.

I had dreamt of the abuser. It was so vivid, so real, that I was completely shaken up. The worst thing was how frightening the actual night terror was. I had dreamt that I began receiving phone calls; phone calls from my father. My dead father. When answering these calls, he would speak to me, from the dead. In whatever hell he is in, he was speaking to me. I could hear his voice so clearly. The roughness of it punctured through the earpiece and entered my soul. In the dream I was as terrified as when I woke up. He sensed my fear, reiterating that I would never truly escape him, that he would forever have control of me and that I was a puppet to him, one that would be his source of entertainment (a position I had in reality).

The nightmare ended abruptly and I awoke with a jolt. I looked around the room, aware that I was on edge, searching through the shadows on the walls, looking for a figure. Like a child, the light went on. I needed reassurance.

I do hope that this will not be a new pattern and that he will not haunt my dreams. I just want closure from him. The everlasting stress that continues even after he has gone, needs to be put to rest. Just like him. I cannot cope with the games my family are still playing, even now. It is only adding to my already fragile state.

Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.
Dave Mustaine

Second night nightmares.

For the past two nights I have barely slept mostly due to being on holiday and out of my usual sleep pattern. Hourly sleeps have resulted in vibrant, hourly nightmares.

Night 1-

On Saturday night, I dreamt that my father had murdered three men. I had witnessed it but he didn’t know. All I remember was blood and lots of it. He used a knife. A knife appeared in both dreams.

Then, he escaped, he went on the run. I tried to tell someone in the vicinity but my voice could not be heard and my body could not be seen, I was invisible.

I chased him.

I ran and ran and ran.

But he was out of my reach. He got away with it and when I returned I was no longer invisible. People began to question me, doubt me.

Night 2-

Last night I had a very broken sleep. In the hour before I awoke I had an extremely vivid dream. This time my mother was also involved. Every time that I have dreamt about my mother, she too has been a malicious figure. My dreams do not portray her in a kind way or a truthful way. She becomes the most evil of characters. My father was there too, of course. Nightmares aren’t complete without him.

I dreamt that my mother and father abducted me, if that’s possible as an adult. It felt like kidnap. My mother kept me locked up in an underground warehouse. I was to keep it looking perfect and treat them both with the utmost respect. David joined me at one point but I think I made him leave first. The whole time I spent plotting my escape. My father and mother were in it together. They had the communication in my dream that they lacked in reality.

The dream then cut to a moment in my father’s bedroom. All I can remember is threatening to leave him, to get out. He admitted he wanted control over me, an admission I never received in real life. The next thing I knew, I was being brandished with two large butcher knives. He was waving them furiously in front of my face and I had no way of protecting myself. Immediately, I covered my face, shielding it with my arms. The knife slashed violently across them. The same sight of blood appeared and the deep, red lines on my arms were magnified.

I did escape them.

These dreams are clearly a representation of my life, the fear, hurt and terror that both my parents subjected me to at some point. I’m surprised my mother is always portrayed so badly in my dreams but at least I have the relief to know that she is not like that at all in reality; certainly not any more. My father however, was no different. His intentions were the same- to make my life a living hell.

I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.
Frida Kahlo

I love this quote, I interpret it in another way. I’m no artist but my dreams and nightmare are just that. They are make believe, they are echoes of life in the most surreal of ways. Reality is the most important thing and now is the time to make it right.