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.

What are you afraid of?

I fear many things. I wish I was more daring and able to take more risks. I used to be able to especially as a child. Fear was something I lacked. I spoke my mind and challenged bad things, I defended myself and took emotional risks. I let myself fail believing that there was a lesson to learn from it. 

Fear grew quite quickly. By my teenage years I was becoming more afraid. I had been criticized by my mother and sister for being selfish and self-centered as a young child. The world revolved around me apparently. I was a confident child being punished for living life. Soon, the fear came. 

During the divorce and the pressures of choice, I feared everything. Outwardly, my family saw a show. I appeared to be calm and in control but mentally I was failing. I knew I was about to make the wrong decision but in fear of becoming targeted and bullied for even thinking it, I went with my father. It was, in my mind, the easiest thing to do. I had backed myself into a corner that could not be further from my mother and sister; we were practically strangers. I had to go with him and I was scared to do it. I did not know that he would be the man they said he was but I had my doubts. I had the fear. There was the possibility. 

My fears magnified when living with my father. they became embedded in me. Not only was I clearly petrified of him, I became a shadow of the girl I once was. To me, I was no longer myself. I was a nobody. 

Rejection.

I fear this still as an adult. I am married and I don’t feel it with my husband luckily. I do feel it in most walks of life especially with friends. I try to avoid it when I can, rarely asking anything of anyone. I thought I could depend on my father, he always told me I could but each time I confided in him or asked for anything, my request was rejected and berated. I have been rejected recently by some people, people I still see. One in particular I took as being a close friend but she has recently, within the last year, decided I am not worth her time. I do not know what happened as there was no explanation yet she continues to smile and play nice. I allow her to do it. I refuse to “chase” her and mend what was clearly already a broken friendship.

Criticism.

I often wait to be critiqued and devalued by people. I expect criticism. I fear it immensely. It is my biggest insecurity yet something I cannot confront.

Tempers.

I fear fights and aggression, I try to stay out of it but sometimes it cannot be avoided. I cannot stand someone raising their voice at me, it frightens me. I hate it. It only brings back every time my father did it. How he used his volume to belittle and demean me. 

Death.

Unbelievably, not my own. I often think about dying. I don’t think I am going to live very long. David hates it when I talk like that but to me it’s a matter of fact. I fear my mother dying. It is, at the moment, my greatest fear. I think about it a lot. She is 70 now and I have begun predicting how long I will have her for. When I speak to her I worry it’ll be the last time. I cry nearly every time after the phone has been put down. It took us so long to get a normal, loving relationship, I feel as though all those years fighting a pointless battle were wasted. Time has disappeared and I may not have her for long. I am angry at my sister for what she has done to her. My mother is a shell of the woman she once was. I know in many ways she resents her life. I hate that she feels like that. I fear the day when I won’t be able to hug my mother. Her touch immediately soothes me, her voice calms me, her little idiosyncrasies make me laugh. I don’t want them to be memories yet.

Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.
Charles Stanley 

Faultless: My Body.

When I blogged about the 4 spiteful girls at the beginning of June, I mentioned that I received a message on Facebook from a girl that knew ‘N’. She accused me of thinking I was faultless. Of course she was angry, I criticised her friend but rather than arguing that what I said was not true, she only confirmed it and defended it saying that I should take a look a myself.

What is there to feel shame for? The truth is what it is. Do I think I have no faults? No, quite the opposite. I am critical about almost everything to do with myself. My body, my brain, my heart, my soul, my marriage and work all get a mental beating from time to time. I, more than anyone (other than my father) can find copious faults in myself.

My body:

I’ve struggled for years with my weight. As a baby, I always had a “podge” (rounded tummy). My family thought it was cute and would eventually disappear. It didn’t and as a teenager my stomach was never flat. Even as an adult I still hate it. It’s not obvious but I am so aware of it. I put on weight easily, usually through stress and the time I spent with my father resulted in a dramatic weight gain. It was devastating and left me feeling disgusted with myself. I do not like the way I look. My wedding photos last year made me cry. I had put on so much weight. Where most brides loose weight for their wedding, mine crept up. Things with my father were still horrific last year. He played his usual money game with our wedding cash, I just ate and ate and ate, it was the only thing that made me feel a little better.

Yes, I am your typical comfort eater.

When I look in the mirror I see me. When I look at a photo of myself, I see someone else especially if I am caught off-guard and it is a natural shot, it makes me sick.

How awful is that?

I put weight on the most around my face. I hate that. Why can’t it go to my breasts?! Haha.

It only makes me more self-conscious than I already am. I joined Weight Watchers On line last summer and dropped a bit of weight but as soon as any stress started, I put most of it back on. I am back on-line now and adamant to get it right.

Since a child I have bitten my nails. My mother and sister have lovely nails, I never knew why I started or why it was never stopped. My nails are tiny as my hands are very small. Plus since I developed Urticaria (a skin problem where if scratched can result in raised lines on the surface of the skin – it’s linked to stress) I have to avoid scratching my skin so long nails aren’t really an option.

Does this all sound like I’m aching for sympathy? I’m not. I’m just saying it as it is.

To the girl who told me I should be ashamed of myself:

Look at me. I don’t love myself. I wish I did.

Perhaps one day I will.