The personal rights we forget we deserve.

You and I have the right to:

  1. put my needs first – there are times in our lives where we have every right to be selfish. It is our life after all. It is essential that we have concerns and care for ourselves. Within reason, we need to be selfish in order to be happy.
  2. be treated with respect – I spend most of my time worrying about how I treat everyone else that I forget I deserve the same treatment. For years I feared my father who demanded constant respect. I associated the word with him and that there was no justification for me to get it. I know now that I deserve it too, I deserved it all along. Respect is a basic right.
  3. express my feelings whatever they may be – Anger, hurt, sadness, fear, happiness: I have the right to feel these things and not have to justify them when I do.
  4. say NO – If and when I need to, this is an essential right for me, one that I am only just getting to grips with, one that will take more time to develop but one that I hope will strengthen in me. Someone called me a “walkover” recently. It hurt me. I am not a walkover or a pushover. I have a soul and I have rights and I do not appreciate being perceived in that way.
  5. have opinions and values – they count. They are relevant and as important as yours. They are mine and should not be dismissed at any whim. I am a woman with a mind. Accept it.
  6. not take on other people’s problems – A very significant right. At times, we want to and will be there for others. That may be part of our character but like anything else, we have rights to refuse this when it becomes too much. Mentally, there is only so much a person can take on. Other people’s problem bring a new stress into our lives, we worry and fear for them, we become consumed by their issues often neglecting our own. It seems selfish and unkind but this is not a right that we demand constantly. I have spent hours listening to the trials and despairs of my family wishing they’d factor in that I have problems too. They didn’t and I was left dealing with theirs, feeding them advice and becoming a confidante to them. A position I was so desperate not to be.
  7. make mistakes – it’s okay to be wrong. It happens. I have the right to be wrong. Do not punish me because I am not perfect. No is.

Not even you.

Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.
Bob Marley



At the start of 2007, after many years of putting on weight and feeling miserable, I made a change. It was the first of many. My father hated that I was taking control of my life.

One of those changes was my diet. I realised food was there to keep me going and I needed it as a source of energy not comfort. I spoke with a friend who gave me some diet advice which I followed religiously for the following four months. It caused me to make significant choices with food. No longer was I lazy, I prepared everything freshly. I took the time to enjoy my meals. I wasn’t use to enjoying food. I was used to binging on it.

My father did not want to lose this right, he needed to keep some power, he needed to hold on to some control. He would hover around me in the kitchen, condemning my decisions, arguing that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients or that I was starving myself (there was no portion control in the diet so that definitely wasn’t the case).

One one occasion, after making a low fat gratin, my father appeared as the timer went off.

“What are you cooking?”

“I’m trying out a recipe”.

“What is it?”

“It doesn’t have any potato in it, it’s low fat,” I didn’t want him to taste it and disapprove of it.

“You don’t want me to have it you mean!”

He saw through me.


“I don’t want your nasty food anyway”.

I turned away from him. Of course, he didn’t like my disobedience. I had been disrespectful. By the time I turned back, he had gone. I felt relieved. Little did I know, he was waiting around the corner, watching and listening to me sigh with relief and mutter to myself.

“Thank God,” I said quietly.

I opened the oven and with gloves, pulled out the aromatic dish. I carefully moved to the side of the sink to place it on a plate I had set there.

“WHAT are you doing?!” my father screamed, “Don’t put that hot thing in the sink, it’ll crack! Stupid!!”

The shock of his sudden appearance, the volume of his scream, it startled me. I had no intention of putting the dish in the sink. With panic, I rested the dish on the edge of it instead. His screams became louder and confusion ensued. I had no idea what I had done wrong. I began shouting at him to stop as the dish began to slip from my grasp.

“Do not drop that! It was expensive! Babitago!!”

The next five things followed in a sequence that merges into one.

  • The dish lost it’s balance.
  • My father yelled swears at me.
  • I pressed my left arm against it to prevent it from falling.
  • The searing pain made me release it.
  • The dish smashed to the floor.
  • I looked at my burnt, scarred arm as my father left the kitchen saying:

        “Clean it up”.