My father not only had O.C.D but E.C.D or as I like to call it: Excessive Compulsive Disorder. As you saw in photo 2, my father was a terrible hoarder. This was not just contained to the garage. It spread through the house but it was always well hidden. The kitchen cupboards were host to his disorder. This photo is a small example of his compulsion to store rubbish. How many plastic containers can one person need? No way was his obsession this bad when I was at home. It worsened when I left and his bizarre addiction grew. He never used these things nor did they have any order.
Each cupboard held another trove of goodies for his compulsion. Whether it was piled high with cups and glasses (see below) or stocked with hundreds of coffee jars, filled with over fifty plates or stacked high with tissue boxes; my father just could not stop.
I never questioned it or challenged him. He would not have been able to see through his addiction. By the end, it had consumed him. The house was filled with excessive amounts of utter crap. After he died and we went to tidy up, we were appalled at the state it had become. For a man who detested wastage, I was confused at how risky he was with some of his purchases. He berated me horrifically if I ever wasted anything. I became extremely nervous and careful when buying anything perishable in case he saw my waste. So why not criticise his own wastage?
He never berated himself.
He never saw fault in himself.
Only in me.
Whether it’s a simple request or something more important: I just cannot say “No”. It has improved over the last couple of years but I haven’t completely dispelled this weakness.
Whilst living with my father there was no point in trying to say No. If I even showed the slightest sign of refusal, it would cause either a huge argument or lead him to condemn me with his endless series of insults. To say No would be pointless. To say Yes would strangely give me some control even though I was complying with his demands. Of course, there were many commands from him I could not agree to. He would tell me to cancel important plans or dates to help him with something. I always knew that not only was this his way of having power over me but he wanted to ruin my day. He wanted to throw that spanner in the works and disrupt everything. He would pick his moments shrewdly, waiting to give me my orders with incredible precision, waiting to lead me into a panic and confusion about how to rearrange my plans. After a while, it became essential that I refuted him. I was losing every ability to live, I needed something to hang onto and somewhere, in the depths of my soul, I was going to find the power to say No.
I saw a counsellor in 2010 after many years of wanting to speak to someone. One of the things she immediately recognised was my inability to say No. She was one of the first people to call me on it. We set some basic steps to change this terrible habit and if not in the rest of my life at first, at least with my controlling father.
Putting boundaries ahead of him for our relationship wasn’t easy. He would not accept them at first and even though I rarely backed down, he was adamant my counsellor was full of shit. She was “poisoning” my mind just like my mother’s done. It probably didn’t help that she was a woman, he hated them. Yet, through the struggle, I continued to lay down my new rules and regain some of my lost control.
At work and life, I still lack the confidence to say No. I do not want to seem awkward or difficult. People tell me this is my fault. I know it is. I take on too much to the point of despair, wanting to please people and make them proud. I want to be seen as reliable and trust-worthy, dependable and loyal.
All the things my father told me I never was.
Perhaps one day I’ll get there and realise:
There is nothing wrong in saying “No”.
I should really be asleep right now but having lay in bed for the past two hours with no sign of dropping off, I have officially given up.
Something is on my mind……..
I had a response to the last “spiteful girls” blog, an unpleasant one. It was clearly someone who knows N and was not happy about my post. They mirrored N by telling me to assess myself and look at my “own faults”.
I have never said I’m faultless. Quite the opposite. I find fault in almost everything I do.
They also made the point that I needed “help”.
I needed help from N ten years ago. Writing is my help. It allows me to speak out and share my experiences. Experiences that are mine. Nobody can deny that. They happened to me. Anger won’t get you anywhere, I’ve learnt that. It isn’t about revenge. Silence is not the answer. How many more women have to keep their mouths shut to save the reputation of others? I can understand that other people may not and might never have seen N in the same light as me. It doesn’t mean what happened to me didn’t exist. She was and is a clever girl.
So right now, I am awake. With this now on my mind.
Conclusion of “spiteful girls” tomorrow.
Or should I say today?