A Right to Expression.

Just swaying off the letter writing for one post as I encourage you all to find a safe form of expression. 

Mine is WordPress and I would like to make it clear as to why.

Venting anger in a safe way is important. Through writing, I can allow myself to feel negatively without letting it transfer into the outside world. I tend not to be an angry person and I am not a fan of confrontation but I feel I have the right to speak when I feel hurt or bruised. If anger is bottled up then it can cause severe distress in the long run. 

I may not present to the world that I am hurt in any way but that itself is a sort of safety barrier. One may not agree with the idea of blogging. It may seem self-indulgent and epicurean to some but that is not fair. I do not write for my own healing only, I write to help others release their emotions and pent up frustrations. Their responses are what matter.

I feel safe through WordPress. I do not offload onto my family and rarely onto my husband. I try to keep things positive with my good friends only focussing on the happier things happening in our lives. Of course, we do rant, don’t get me wrong but even I know that dissecting my abuse history with them might not be the best way to spend a coffee afternoon.

I apologise if what I say does offend. Just remember this. Others have people to talk to. I don’t. I don’t feel comfortable or feel comfort from talking about me. Certainly not directly to anyone. I find that very hard. Writing on the other hand, comes naturally. It is my form and right of expression. It is my release. Even when no one responds, someone is listening.

I only ever want to be heard.

Sympathy versus Empathy.

After a meeting at work today and watching a clip on Empathy, I was left thinking about which matters the most. The clip highlighted that to be able to empathise, one needs to be able to place themselves into a similar position emotionally to the person in question. They need to have the ability to feel the same way. They may not totally understand your problem but will be able to tell you that confidently and offer reassurance and support to you without the need to give you any answers.

Sympathy on the other hand, was described as being condescending and rather judgemental. That is not something I totally agree with. There are times when sympathy is needed. One is not always able to step into someone else’s shoes or completely comprehend their suffering. I know I would have preferred either sympathy or empathy when enduring my father’s abuse. Anything that showed some form of care and concern. Sympathy does not have to be judgemental. Yes, there are elements of pity linked with sympathy and that can be absolutely patronizing and degrading and in those cases, people ought to keep their mouths firmly closed. However, there are times when we do not know what to say. There are times that shock us so badly, that we cannot believe another human being can treat someone in such a horrific way that we are dumbfounded with horror. We cannot find any words to help but we can offer sympathy at most. 

Some of us can offer empathy and relate on a different level.

The clip we watched did not show sympathy in a very complimentary way. Occasionally, I wish people wouldn’t feel they had to say something and leave things very awkward. Sympathy can leave you having to justify your pain. That, I can relate to.

Any ideas?

Friday 4th February 2005.

Since my father died, I have an abundance of old notes made about his incessant nitpicking and abuse. On February the 4th 2005, my father picked an argument with me over the smallest thing. The note highlights how trapped I was in his company, the fear that encroached me and the endless demands he made.

It reads,

He has guests coming in the evening. His routine of obsessive cleaning is taking place. I’ve locked myself in my bedroom. I’m too scared to come out and be forced to be a part of his army drills. I can hear him coughing loudly downstairs. What’s wrong? Something’s wrong.

(Written later)

I went downstairs, he called me there. He was waiting. There was a mark on the floor. My make up. He found it while he was hoovering. He saw it a while ago but it’s not his job to clean it. It’s mine. He needs to prove a point. I made the mess. That one little mark on the floor. A quick wipe is all it needs but I have to do it. Me. He told me to mop it up today before his friends come. I’m fed up. I want to retreat back to safer ground – my bedroom. I went upstairs mumbling something under my breath. He heard.

“What??” he shouted.

“Nothing” I replied.

He bounded up the stairs behind me. I quickened my pace.

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

I shut my bedroom door. I was safe again, “Nothing!” I shouted back.

“If you are nasty then I will be nasty. If you are good then I will be good”.

I’m 23 in under a month. What kind of a father days that? He has never treated me like a daughter, never. He never lets me feel anything, I’m not allowed emotion. I have to be a robot at all times. I cannot cry, that’s wrong. I cannot get angry, that’s wrong too. I can’t even act like a child sometimes. I’m not allowed ‘bad moments’. I have to be perfect. I have no free will. He keeps using money as a threat. If he ever gives me anything he has accounts for how much, when and where. I can’t breathe! Let me breathe.

This was how my father behaved nine years ago. Yet right up until his death he never changed. He had the same attitude towards me till the very end. He held all the power. Not any more.

You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

5th September 2012 – The funeral Part 1.

I have to blog about this nightmare of a day in two parts as there is just so much to tell you all.

Below is an extract detailing the sequence of events that I endured that day, taken from my autobiography. The beginning of the extract explains the lead up to the day, part of which I have mentioned in an earlier post about the phone call with my sister but as it is part of the chapter and important to the story, I will keep it in.

Part 2 will follow on Saturday.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN – THE NEXT CHAPTER

 

My father’s funeral took place on September 5th 2012 in East London. It was based at his church and fully organised by my sister. I was sent an email confirming the date and time.

On the only phone call after my father’s death, my sister rang to talk about the arrangements. I wasn’t really a part of it but to keep up appearances, she called anyway. It was an awkward conversation, the first without my father present. It was like speaking with a stranger, with someone who knew nothing about the history with Him. Yet, she was well aware of everything. She was just choosing to make every excuse in the book to defend him. She talked consistently about the funeral. I remained silent. What was there to say? I felt I could not speak my mind. That was until she began talking about songs and flowers.

She mentioned that a song, my father’s favourite song, would be played as his coffin entered the church.

That song was, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.

When I think about the lyrics,

I see trees green, red roses too. I watch them bloom, for me and you and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

These are not the lyrics that remind me of my father. They only make sense to me in reference to him being gone and me being free. I’m pretty certain my sister was implying the opposite.

It was also a lie.

What a Wonderful World was actually my mother’s favourite song. Somewhere along the line, my sister’s lines had become blurred. My father never really cared for music.

In regards to the flowers, my sister casually asked me how much I would be willing to pay for my half of them. She listed the types of flowers and what would be suitable to surround the coffin. That was as much as I heard before I couldn’t contain it any longer. The tears I had held back for years, the trauma and the stress all exploded and in one breath I made it very clear I would not be contributing in any way. Everything poured out. I couldn’t hide it anymore, she needed to know.

Through endless streams of tears, I mustered the strength to reveal as much as I could. She listened, at best, she was silent. I could never tell the difference. I told her about the last time I had been with my father – the afternoon in the car in July. I opened up about the way he behaved and the fear I felt. Expecting my older sister to understand, I was shocked by her response.

“He was very ill by then,” she said as she began pleading his case, “he was probably tired; he couldn’t help it”.

She wasn’t even there and she silenced me.

Why did I think my father’s greatest supporter would back me?

I left the conversation immediately.

 

5th September 2012

I had been dreading this day for the previous two weeks. It had finally arrived and I had to gather any courage I had left to face it. My friend Natasha offered to come for the service. I accepted her offer, she and David were my protective barrier that day against the people who just couldn’t understand.

His funeral service was held in his church in East London.

As the burning sun beat down on me, I wiped the nervous droplets from my brow and entered the church. My sister and her husband were stood in the corridor greeting everyone. I hugged her, reaching out for some kind of emotion but I received nothing so I continued my way through to the church hall where the funeral was taking place. My brother-in-law did not acknowledge my presence.

I looked around the barely decorated room. It was filled with people, friends of my father’s, family and neighbours. Everyone was smartly dressed, paying their respects. I was wearing loose black trousers and a bright green peplum top. I needed to wear something bright. I needed to show them I was not mourning. Green was the colour that calmed me; it was the obvious colour to wear. My eyes immediately met with my mothers’. I headed straight to her. A man appeared by me as I struggled to keep my emotions together. He gestured for me, as my father’s daughter, to sit at the front. My breathing quickened as I placed my hand tightly on my mother. I could only muster one “No”. The man didn’t understand my refusal. I looked at my mother. She understood. She knew I was not going to pretend nor be part of the farce I was about to face. She told me to sit where ever I wanted. That turned out to be the front of the back section of chairs left out for late arrivals behind the congregation. I positioned myself directly ahead of the aisle.

My mother turned back to see if I was okay. I smiled. I was glad she had come especially with the support of her close friends. It was important for her to witness it.

My sister entered with her husband and a band of people followed her. She was being comforted by his friends. I watched as she made her way to the front row. She hugged one of his pastors, a man who thought very highly of my father.

Music began. Thankfully, it was not What a Wonderful World. Heads turned as his expensive, wooden coffin was carried in. It was placed on a stand directly ahead of me. I stared at it; I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

I was determined to get through the charade. I had brought a notebook with me. I focussed on putting all the feelings I was going through into it and wrote down a detailed account of the following two hours. Writing was the one thing that kept me going through that horrible, deceitful service.

Thursday 19th July 2012 – The results.

At six in the evening, my father rang to tell me it was terminal lung cancer.

I cannot even explain the emotions I felt. Anger, fear, sadness were the most obvious.

Shock was probably the clearest feeling. Without any warning I would have to prepare myself for a range of emotions to follow. My life had been turned upside down and everything I had been working towards, the chance to build a relatively normal relationship with him was about to be forgotten. I knew the next few months would be difficult. Not only dealing with that thought of him dying but also the realisation that I may never get the answers or apologies I wanted from him.

I cried when he told me. Who wouldn’t? He was still my father and I just couldn’t fathom his absence from my life. Hope was always there, albeit foolishly.