2014 A Look Back: May – August.

May.

This month, my husband and I celebrated two years of marriage. I do not know where the time has gone! Also this month I concluded my letter series with a piece written to my sister. There have been no improvements on that front unfortunately. She still excludes me from her life even though several attempts have been made to build bridges. I remain confused to why our relationship ever stopped and from recent events, I doubt things will ever be truly resolved or that I am wanted back in her life. It’s all very sad.

June.

I had my five month scan in June. It was an important one to see if the baby had any abnormalities. It also tested for Down’s Syndrome. We were very glad to find out that we were not at risk. Baby was healthy and growing well. My pregnancy had been going well and apart from a pretty bad case of morning sickness in the first trimester, I was really starting to enjoy it.

July.

As the pregnancy continued and the symptoms became more prominent, my activity on WordPress began to dwindle. As a frequent writer this was unusual for me but the ever-growing tiredness was consuming my waking hours. Pregnant in the summer months was not very enjoyable and working all day did not help matters either. The end of July marked the beginning of a much needed six week holiday where I could finally take a well-deserved break and properly prepare for baby’s arrival. Unbeknownst to me, my organisational skills would save me in the end and my good preparation for baby would cause much less panic than expected two months later………

August.

In August I made a decision to leave the blog as soon as my baby came. It was a difficult decision to make but originally the whole point of the blog was to gain closure from the emotional abuse I endured for fifteen years from my father. It was to gain closure from his death and to release the anger I felt for him in a safe and controlled way. I achieved that last year so began to question my reasons for staying on here. However, with the turmoil I’ve had over the last few months mixed with the elation of creating my beautiful little girl, I’ve realised something. I NEED this site. I need to vent somewhere, to celebrate somewhere, to release somewhere, to be myself somewhere. That somewhere is here at freefromhim and I will not be going anywhere.

This is part of me now.

Ros x

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Under the Weather.

Well firstly, I cannot believe it is April already! Four months into 2014 already. No, this post is not an April Fool’s (although I have fallen for one at work already – far too gullible for my own good!) I have genuinely been quite unwell for the last week.

Last Thursday, I awoke with a painful cough. It was enough to worry me to go to the doctor and enough for the doctor to tell me to rest that day. Unfortunately that same cough is still lingering on and I just can’t seem to shake it. It is starting to irritate me now! The weather isn’t helping. One moment it’s sunny and clear and the next it’s muggy and damp. 

On top of that, I seem to have sprained my wrist…….

Currently, it is bandaged up and has been for the past two days. I’m a bit of a walking calamity at the moment!

I haven’t been my proactive blogging self of late because of this but I promise to return to normal by the end of the week 🙂 I suppose the biggest thing to look forward to is my two week Easter break starting on Friday! God, do I need it.

I never got a chance to write my letters to my family last month. Hopefully, April will provide me the time to do that.

Back to Work Blues.

Tomorrow is my first day back at work after a week off. I can successfully say that this was my least productive holiday in the sense that I have done f**k all this week! On purpose may I add. The most work and attention has gone into my blog which has been great. It’s been fantastic to have the time to sit down, especially in the day (normally I blog straight after work, completely shattered) and write. Poetry Week has been a total success. I was wary to post my poetry. After reading so many of my fellow peers’ and poets’ work on WordPress, I was not sure mine would compete in the slightest but each one has received some lovely support and likes. I really appreciate that (it’s still pretty new to me!).

Based on your reactions, I think I’ll make Poetry Week a monthly post 🙂

I do have back to work blues. I hope I do not walk straight back into stress again. The last five months have been extremely stressful at work and home hasn’t been much different. However, I am now more aware of my body and the triggers of stress. Hopefully, with the aid of my new-found breathing exercises, I can maintain and keep my stress levels under control.

Today will be my final poetry post till next month. In March, I will begin a series of letters that I wish I had the courage to write in reality. I am hopeful that it will provide and serve me with a little more closure.

March 2nd is also my birthday!

Chapter 2, Part 2.

We sandwiched the holiday with the road trip and after two weeks we headed back to his brother’s place. I was a different girl to the one who set off at the start. My relatives picked up on this and my father blamed it on my ‘typical teenage ways’ and lack of good attitude. Nobody doubted him as he was the second eldest brother of a large family and a reliable, intelligent man. His word was the truth. I spent the last week as a shadow of my former, confident self. It was a relief to return to London and back to my safe haven. I had naively hoped things would be normal again and my father’s character would restore back to a loving nature.

My idealistic view was shattered immediately. This behaviour was to stay and his treatment towards me was about to become progressively worse.

Having started at a new school to do my A-Levels I was excited to have some distance from him. I tried hard at my studies but could never live up to his expectations. My sister was an academic and had embarked on a clear career path. I on the other hand was more creative using Drama as an outlet for expression. He never encouraged this as he believed I’d never succeed in such a competitive market. My grades began to slip just as my life began to dissolve. I found it difficult to concentrate and drifted off into day dreams. My father left me to it, only voicing criticism if a tutor got in touch with him. Still he offered no help. This was a shock to me as my school work and high achievement was once so vital to him.

As I lacked so much confidence I found it a struggle to make friends especially in the first year. I felt like I had no escape and nothing to feel good about. Over my sixteenth and seventeenth year I gradually began putting on weight. Having been slim as a young child I was not use to being on the chubbier side. I turned to food for comfort. My father would indulge this, taking me to a fast food restaurant almost every Saturday. Food would become a recurring enemy over the next fourteen years.

At the end of my first year I managed to land a part in the sixth form play. I was a lead character and immensely proud of myself (having been an unknown at school I knew it had been based on my acting skills and not popularity).

My relationship with my mother was slowly improving too. A point had been made that I needed to change to be accepted back into ‘her’ side of the family. As I missed my mother and desperately longed for her, I willingly acted on the advice. At that moment I had lost myself. With my mother and sister I was struggling to build a character worthy of their love. Their closeness was apparent and every time I saw them laughing and talking privately, the old feeling of exclusion hurried back. I felt we would never have the same relationship and no matter what I did, I would be second best. After all I decided to stand by my father and not my mother. With my Dad, I was trying to be the perfect daughter. Not talking back, being polite, doing exactly as he said and giving the impression to the rest of the world how lucky I was to have a father like him.

Turning eighteen brought about a surge of independence in me. I had climbed the social ladder at school. I had more friends and my self-belief had come back. I started going out and spending more time away from home. He didn’t care. My safety had never been high on his list. He continued to spend money, allowing me to go to Europe twice on a school trip. He enjoyed looking wealthy. My friends that met him adored him. He drove us everywhere, paid for lunch, gave me hand-outs and acted like the perfect Dad. This wonderful image of him vanished when we were on our own. He instantly turned into the monster I knew he was. If I ever confided in a friend they would question how I could ever accuse my father of anything. I hated them for it but they never knew any different. For a while I convinced myself they were right.

I left school with poor results. Even in subjects I was certain I’d succeed in. My home environment had made a huge impact on the woman I was shaping out to be. With my studies I had almost resigned myself to the fact that I was likely to fail. Relationships and friendships made me feel the same way. Failure was not an option with my father but I was never given any direction from him. It became obvious that he had been waiting for me to destroy my future so that I would have to rely on him. My confidence and self belief had slowly slipped again. I had put on a stone in weight over two years and now being a young woman, felt the lowest I had felt for a long time.

Luckily I had something positive to look forward to. I had decided to continue with Drama and study it for the next few years. Once again I was left to do as I pleased so I grabbed the chance in front of me and used it to excel myself in any way possible. I still lived at home however. Although I was busier now, my life had not changed. If he saw less of me surely he’d want to appreciate the time we spent? But no, he carefully used this rare time to break me down even more.

Insults became a regular occurrence. Labels such as evil, filthy, heartless and moron became a normal thing to hear. Every day I’d be called a name. I tried to be strong and gave as much back as I could muster but he was a big man who terrified me.  He would shout straight through me with so much aggression it made me tremble like a frightened little animal. I often backed down and accepted hearing such nasty words but I never felt they were true. Although I lacked in self-belief, I knew I was not the bad person the family had made me out to be for all those years. Nevertheless, there is only so much a person can take.

We began having blazing rows. Violence was never an issue. My father was shrewd enough to know I’d have blatant proof of my suffering if any scars appeared. Therefore he was never violent to me. Our fights escalated over time but back then I was shocked to see my father acting that way. When I verbally retaliated and attempted to defend myself, he would launch into his attack. It was most likely to be the smallest thing that caused the upset but that didn’t stop him from exploding.

His face would be the first thing to change. His eyes would swell and bulge as he stared right through me. He’d clench his teeth together (a typical yet terrifying pose I never got used to). Then his body would straighten and stiffen. Sometimes he would clench his fists by his side. Occasionally out of complete frustration the door would be slammed or hit. The majority of the time he raised his right hand sharply, inches from my face as if to slap me and swore in another language. The word he always used (Bodmarsh) rings in my ear to this very day. I recently found out it translates into “pervert”.

I managed to save myself for a year having moved in with friends while studying. Unfortunately he still had control (I longed for freedom however could not fund myself) as he paid my rent and fees. Something he would frequently use in arguments to come.

Thankfully studying Drama gave me a perfect escape. I could slip away and create different characters, parallels of myself. I was doing well in my studies again and felt like I was really achieving something. I thought I had made some lasting friendships but once again I was mistaken. They all judged me, assuming as I was in Drama I must be dramatic in nature. They met my father as he would habitually show up unannounced at my flat. He’d enter and be as charming as ever. As soon as he’d leave I’d be visibly relieved, much to their confusion. They questioned everything I said, telling me I was overreacting and “lucky” to have him as my Dad. I was fighting a losing battle.

When the year was up and my studies had finished I returned home. For two years I had been dreading the day. He seemed pleased to have me back, but almost as soon as I had arrived, my life went back to the sorry state it was before. Fearing every move I made it dawned on me that I had no way out.

The next twelve years of my life became a horror story of intimidation, abuse and defamation.

Chapter 2. Part 1 – America and Late Teenage Years.

To be brief and before I post this, I need you to understand that I am posting something that only my mother and husband know about. I want to do this to show him for what he was. His early signs of emotional abuse and emotional incest, need to be exposed. He spent the majority of my teenage years exposing and humiliating me as this chapter will show you all. To reveal the entire truth about that holiday is a massive step for me as I am still hiding a lot of painful moments we shared together, torment that he flung on me and boundaries that he broke. I hope one day, I will not fear the judgement.

Part 1:

The first summer arrived so quickly. I had just finished my GCSE exams and my father had booked a long holiday in the U.S. I had been once before with my sister and that was a very revealing trip for her. She saw him in his true light. However, he spent the whole of the last holiday showering me with attention. I could not wait to return. I was desperate to get away. Things had been left on bad terms with my mother and we barely had a relationship. This felt like a much deserved break.

The memory of the America trip is a painful one. Still to this day I find it difficult to talk about, having only shared the hardest part with my mother in recent years. It was the first time the real character of my father shone clearly. After building up an almost God-like image of him throughout my childhood I was about to have the biggest revelation.

The holiday started out fine. We stayed with relatives on the West Coast then set off on a road trip across California. Money was an important part of his life. Although for years he showered me with gifts, he would often scrimp and save in other ways. Frequently with food as he hated being ripped off. If anything was expensive it was “over-priced” and we would only ever visit restaurants that had clear offers displayed.  However, he was very concerned about external appearance. He liked to look affluent. This was apparent by his choice of car. A white Cadillac with a red leather interior hardly gave off the image of a poverty stricken man. He dressed very smartly for someone on a relaxing holiday and spent plenty of money buying clothes in well known American stores. To the outside world he must’ve appeared so generous and well turned-out. However a new and different side of him was slowly unravelling in front of my eyes.

He lost his temper very quickly and became easily provoked. If someone was tail-gating him or driving slowly on the freeway he would steadily get agitated. He regularly vented his frustration in the car, telling me how un-cultured these people were or that they must be women drivers.  Often he’d swear through gritted teeth, it sent shivers down my spine as his face changed to a threatening appearance (it would be a familiar expression I’d relive over the following twelve years).

It wasn’t only strangers that annoyed him, eventually after a week of the trip I became a giant nuisance too. I had never really been bullied before. I was unaware what bullying felt like so didn’t notice what was happening to me at the time. He began nitpicking about things I said and did. He constantly corrected my grammar and if I dropped a‘t’ off the end of a word he’d cut me off mid-sentence and force me to pronounce it correctly. The way I walked was an issue. If I was too slow he’d tell me to stop lagging behind but if I bounced ahead, he’d criticise me for not waiting as he couldn’t keep up.

Gradually I became aware that it was difficult to put a foot right. This resulted in me being extremely cautious and worried of disappointing him or getting an earful about my “juvenile” behaviour.

Day to day activities was a chore. He had changed personality overnight. He continued to be cowardly, refusing to ask for anything himself, it was my job as usual. If we were out for dinner and he needed the bathroom, he would insist that I should ask the waitress where the toilets were, more specifically the male toilets. If I mentioned that it was an odd thing to do, he would instantly accuse me of being a selfish daughter not wanting to look after her elderly father (at the time he was 59, hardly elderly). He most certainly wouldn’t approach another woman to ask that kind of question. I quickly learnt there was no reasoning with him as when I tried to, I was bombarded with demeaning names.

If we needed directions he made me roll down my window and talk to a passing stranger or get out and run to the nearest shop to ask. He didn’t worry about my safety in these circumstances (I was only sixteen at the time), just as long as he wasn’t coming across as needy or weak.

I felt humiliated for the entire trip on the road. The worst thing (and the most difficult to talk about) is the memory I only recently revealed to my mother.

We often stayed in nice hotels in the cities but when travelling through smaller towns we resided in motels each night. Not wanting to waste money, my father would only book one room. The first time this occurred was our first night away. I was horrified. I was a sixteen year old girl; I knew how inappropriate this was. Praying that he’d have thought this through and asked for twin beds I was mortified to find instead a large double. I didn’t question him. (Although I now wish I had). He thought nothing wrong in his decision. He wanted to keep his costs down. His argument would’ve been clear. Why would I need another room if we were only staying one night? And more importantly, why would I want to waste so much money for no reason? So every night for the next two weeks, we shared a bed.

I remember each night running into the bathroom to get changed, panicking at the thought of seeing him undress in front of me which he had done previously without a care. I never slept in pyjamas, only a long t-shirt. I berated myself for not planning properly, for not having trousers to wear. Tugging my shirt down, I would quickly leap into the bed. My father undressed in plain view of me, stripping down to his boxers and then putting on pyjama pants and a vest. Why did he not go into the bathroom after me? We had never been this open as a family; everyone seemed to enjoy their privacy. Except him. Thankfully, the motels beds in America were huge so I pushed myself as far to the edge as possible. I barely slept the entire holiday.

One morning, towards the end of the road trip we stayed in a small motel in Fresno. As we checked out I caught the hotels clerk’s eye. He was staring at me, confused. He asked my father our room number and if he had the key. My father handed it back to which the clerk inquired,

“Was it just one room?”

I bolted out of that reception and headed straight to the car park, humiliated and ashamed that someone else knew how wrong it all was.

My father had no idea of how other people perceive things and if I dared to suggest the obvious, he would call me ‘evil’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘perverted’. Me, perverted?!

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

2013 A review: July – September.

JULY

Summer had truly hit us in London by July. Scorching temperatures reigned over the city and finally the harsh winter had been beaten.

At the start of the month, I began recalling a series of events, linked to the exact date one year ago, that looked back on the journey towards the end of the abuse once and for all. It was a painful task. Remembering is one thing but looking back in detail, searching through old text messages and diary entries was hard. It transported me back to a terrible, stressful and bitter summer. The summer after my wedding. The summer my father, the abuser, died.

It was the month that my husband and I were told that our landlord wanted to sell the property we were renting. It came as a surprise as there had not been much of a warning. It was the last thing we needed. We were very settled where we were living. It was in an ideal location for both of us to get to work, there were plenty of shops and amenities around too. It was not ideal to move. I couldn’t bear the thought of moving into some dingy, poky apartment in a rush because we hadn’t enough time to search for somewhere decent. We made a decision. It would be a difficult one, a tiring and patience testing one but ultimately we were thankful she was willing to have us. My mother was our port of call. She agreed the sensible choice would be to live with her until my father’s inheritance was finalised and we could look for a new place.

July would be a very revealing month for me. Although I already knew my sister had begun a “secret” relationship with the abuser, I was not aware of how close they had become. After everything my sister had once accused him of, after all that she had witnessed him do to our mother (not to mention the misery of a life I led with him), I had not expected her to welcome him with open arms into her family unit. A unit she has been fiercely protective of for so many years. A family that she has banned me and any mother from seeing. Apparently, we are bad news, the cause of her depression and misery, the evil ones. Not our father. Not the man who abused me for fifteen years but the two people who spent most of their lives trying to escape his frightening hold. In her eyes, we were the enemy. I found out at the start of July that my father had planned a holiday with my sister, her husband and children. He could not go in the end due to his worsening health. I was flabbergasted. Horrified. The man that my sister could not bear to be in the same room as was now holidaying with her?? It blew my mind.

At work, I finished with a bang, holding our annual school talent show. It was a great success and the kids did me proud.

AUGUST

I continued to recall back to the events of last year on WordPress. I received several comments, mostly from friends who had no idea I was struggling so badly that summer. Even though the majority of them knew about my relationship with the abuser, most never questioned it. They never delved any further. It must have come as a shock to them to read the full truth.

I was well into my summer holidays at this point. The weather was unbelievable in London during August, we were very lucky to have so much sunshine. I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked to. I spent most of the holiday packing up our flat and surprising myself at how much rubbish we had accumulated over the past two years of living there. It was an endless and tiring job as my husband was at work for most of August. Even on moving day, when David’s parents had come to help, were we still putting items into bags and shipping them off to my mums’.

The end of the month would be very significant. On the 21st I celebrated the anniversary of my father’s death. I did not lay any flowers or sit down and pray. I did not shed a tear or think back to the “good times”. There were no good times. He was not worth my tears and I could not lay any flowers for I do not know what happened to his ashes. My sister only told me recently after a year of me badgering her, that after the funeral she had “picked them up”. So basically she gave me no more information than I had already assumed. I intend on letting her keep playing her childish game on her own.

As I prepared to go back to work, I was invited to a school reunion. Seeing my old primary school classmates after twenty years was incredibly uplifting. It was a wonderful experience and sent me back to a time of happiness. These people made me happy. It was lovely to be in their company again.

SEPTEMBER

Back to work!

I also began making some changes in my life. Some positive changes. I attended a course at City Lit on Assertiveness. It proved to be quite challenging. I enjoyed analysing myself and looking into types of behaviour. The course opened my mind as we explored passiveness, aggression, manipulation and assertiveness. It was very interesting to hold that magnifying glass up to myself and look more carefully at the person I had become. I am now trying to embody more assertiveness. My mother is the only person finding that difficult. For so long she was used to a passive daughter. A daughter who could not say “no” and agreed to almost everything in search for an “easy” life. Well no more. I have never had an easy life! It is time to get what I want and make a stand.

The Collins English Dictionary says – 

assertive 

Definitions

adjective – 

confident and direct in claiming one’s rights or putting forward one’s views