Our demise – Part 2.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I realised I had ‘lost’ my husband. From the birth of our daughter he changed from being a supportive caring husband to a distant and depressed human being. We had decided that he would be in charge of putting baby to bed every day. He wanted to do it as he would be at work all day and would not see her but of course with this choice came responsibilities and promises. It came schedules and routines. It came remembering endless things that baby needed. Too many things for him.

Tired from work, he would enter the house. He would greet baby and take her upstairs. No Hello, no kiss, no acknowledgement of his wife. He would come back from one job and enter another. There were no questions about my day. He did not know that baby had been sick twelve times that day. He did not know that she had not kept down a single bit of milk or that I had not brushed my teeth that day. He did not know that I had cried several times that morning and that my ‘lunch’ consisted of two pieces of toast eaten over three hours. He did not know because he did not ask. For six months he did not ask. I was not myself for the first three months of my daughter’s life.

The doctors and health visitors had insisted that I should not take baby outside for at least seven weeks (until her due date). Out of panic and fear I listened to their advice and out of panic and fear, I only left the house five times in the space of three months. I could not leave without having a panic attack.

A few years back I had worked with babies in a day nursery; a job that I enjoyed very much. I gained a lot of ‘insider’ knowledge first hand and felt prepared for the future. However having my daughter seven weeks early threw every preparation I had into chaos. I will be the first to admit it – I struggled. I really battled through the first three months. My BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) seemed to be developing into a problem again. I felt frumpy, disgusting. I was angry I was unable to lose my baby weight. My confidence dropped.

My husband must have seen a change in me although he chose to ignore it. Instead he disappeared into himself, cutting himself off from me and only thinking of his own problems. I was shocked to find my caring husband grow into such a cold and detached human being. Christmas was a very unpleasant time for us. There had been a few incidents leading up to it where my husband had chosen himself over me and his baby. He had put his selfish needs first and begun leading a very separate life to mine. I discovered some real eye openers to the man he had become – a man I could not recognise. He wasn’t ashamed of his actions either although he managed to shed a few crocodile tears. I hate seeing him cry and not because it breaks my heart but because it’s the easy way out. Tears gain sympathy. He didn’t deserve that. His behaviour didn’t justify tears.

He chose to betray me in ways I find very hard to forgive.

He became cruel and nasty. A shadow of the man I once knew. He became defensive and verbally harmful, snapping and hurting. He became angry, aggressive and frightening. There were times I was truly scared. I hadn’t felt that kind of frightened since my Dad. That was the point I knew my marriage was over. The man I had once loved so deeply had reminded me of my Dad. He reminded me of what that abuse felt like. He reminded me what it felt like to feel small, neglected, alone. I vowed never to feel that way again and this man had succeeded in making it happen at a time that should have been the happiest in my life. I will never forgive him for that. NEVER.

The culmination of his abhorrent behaviour happened on my 33rd birthday. We, at this point, had no relationship. We barely talked to each other and if we did, it mostly referred to the baby. I was dreading my birthday. In past years, D had gone out of his way to make me feel special. He didn’t have to shower me with presents or do anything romantic, I was just treated very well that day – lots of cups of tea and putting my feet up kind of thing. He was thoughtful and considerate and I appreciated that.

This birthday was different. I asked him the day before, jokingly, if he had got me a card, fearing that he may have forgotten. I was right as he suddenly began to severely berate himself (something he had been doing often for the past months). He could have lied and said yes and then sneaked out later to get one. He could have made me feel like it was all okay out of kindness, out of thoughtfulness but my husband wasn’t like that any more. He’d rather wallow in his endless mistakes than make me feel better about a situation, than make the moment pass and move on after all, there were many times I brushed over his snide comments about me for an easier life. After the casual comment about the card, my husband was in a foul mood for the rest of the day. I put it behind me not wanting to ruin my actual birthday. I had stated I wanted a simple one.

Life was not easy with the baby and my confidence hadn’t returned but that did not mean I didn’t want my husband to not go to any effort. He had taken the day off work after all. Surely he was going to do something special? How wrong was I. The next morning I went into my baby’s room as she was cooing beautifully by herself. I lifted her out the cot and gave her some mummy kisses. My husband, groggy from his slumber, followed in. He made no eye contact nor spoke. I waited for the obligatory “Happy Birthday!” to fall from his lips. Instead, he yawned and sat on the bed in baby’s room.

“Don’t say happy birthday or anything please,” I remarked disappointed I had to remind him of what day it was.

“I was just going to!” He snapped.

Plenty of time had passed from when I had entered the room, it was clear he wasn’t planning on saying anything. Immediately I felt uncomfortable. He had chosen to snap at me at six in the morning really setting me up for what was about to come. Once downstairs with baby, D barely uttered two words to me. I felt incredibly uncomfortable and when my mum came in with a card I found it hard to show her any happiness. She knew something was wrong but it had got to the point where the son in-law she was once so close to had now become a very intimidating stranger to her. She watched him disrespect her daughter but of a want not to be shouted at or spoken to sarcastically (a trait my husband excels at) she often kept quiet. Their relationship remains on the brink even now.

Due to a hectic schedule with baby, I hadn’t given my husband any idea of the kind of present I had wanted or that I had even wanted one. Really I had hoped he didn’t need telling. I had hoped the man who always used to get it spot on would come through for me again. Instead, with my own money, I ordered a bag from a shopping site I like on-line and my husband ‘refunded’ me the money. It felt like my father all over again. My father never bought me presents for my birthday or Christmas as he never bothered to find out what I liked. He just handed me money (after negotiation) and then berated me when I spent it on something like shoes or bags. At his request and demand, I often ended up having to say a detailed explanation as to why I deserved a gift in the first place. After a while I begged him NOT to give me anything as I just couldn’t hack the events and interrogations that would follow.

I didn’t say anything that day to my husband when I opened the card I had told him to buy for me. I didn’t say anything when I read his meaningless message to me inside. I was too worried that if I said something his reaction would be far worse than his intent. Sadly, the rest of the day continued on that note. My husband decided to feel sorry for himself for most of it. Knowing that nothing was special and sensing how sad I was about it all, he decided to make me feel even worse by ignoring me. He couldn’t even try to make conversation with me. He just avoided me. I was distraught. What the hell was the point in taking the day off?! I could have gone out with my mum and baby for a nice lunch and had a great time. No, my selfish husband instead made the whole day about him.

It all blew up in the afternoon when over a late lunch I voiced my disappointment. To many, I’m probably sounding like a needy drama queen but my husband had made a big deal of my birthday in the weeks leading up to it. He gave me the impression that I would have a nice day organised by him. When in fact I spent the day looking after baby (as normal), depressed because my husband was ignoring me and scared of what explosion was going to happen later. As soon as I uttered the words, D blew up. Shouting, aggressive, storming off all in front of baby. I left her with her grandma and followed him into the living room.

“What’s wrong with you? Why are you doing this?” are the types of questions I could not avoid asking.

He paced the floor furiously and I realised the day would be ruined for good. He could not break from his anger, his rage and disappointment in himself had encased him. Seeing red he tried to push past me in order to leave the house. I wouldn’t let him pass for two reasons; one, I did not want my mother and baby to see him so agitated, it really was very frightening but to me, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before in a man and two, I was angry at this nasty person for wanting to storm out on me on my birthday! He gets to leave but I don’t. I have responsibilities even on my birthday and no amount of rage will make me leave my child. The day dragged on as my husband remained in his solemn, distant state. We did not utter a single word to each other for the rest of the day.

Until the evening, when at dinner, I just couldn’t keep my upset inside any longer. I lost it. I cried and shouted as loud as I could without disturbing our baby. I was distraught. Never had I experienced a day like it. Even the abuser attempted to make my birthdays a little pleasant. My husband however couldn’t even do that. I knew something was wrong in him, something quite serious was happening to him. He had become a monster and I was frightened. That night he made me frightened. I never imagined my timid, sweet husband who once loved me so much would make me frightened.

How do you draw a line under that? How do you accept his promise to change?

You can’t. I live day to day now concious that he might fall back into his destructiveness, fearing that he might become distant. He had a course of CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) as communication was not something he ever did and it seems to have helped. It has taken nearly five months for me to even ‘like’ him again. He is trying, I can see that but every now and again I see glimpses of the cruelness and I begin to panic. I do not want a marriage where I fear my husband. I do not want a marriage where I am always anticipating his bad reactions, his anger, his spite. I cannot say I am hopeful. I can only say that I can see things more clearly now. I will not continue a charade of a marriage to please other people. I will not force a love that does not exist. If we are meant to be, then we’ll get through this. If he values the life we’ve built then he will change. I know I need to change too……if I can.

There’s a lot of ifs………… But no buts.

Where have I been?

I haven’t been on WordPress for a while. It’s not by choice, it’s mostly because of motherhood.
I have to be honest, I miss my blog wholeheartedly. There are many things happening at the moment and as I sit here at my computer in this short break from the madness, I feel normal, relieved, happy to be writing again. Even if what I’m writing about isn’t the most positive or happy of things.

Life has taken a turn.

I have so much to say to my followers and readers but cannot find time. My little one takes priority but soon I hope to return to blogging and offload some of the pain.

Speak to you all very soon I hope.

2014 A Look Back: January – April.

January.

I started this year in a different frame of mind. I began the year with several promises to myself. Not resolutions but a pledge of ten things I planned to fulfil. Did I succeed? Not quite. I managed two out of ten. Pretty rubbish right? One was to celebrate my birthday (which I did) and the other was to say No. I think learning to say No is a big achievement however. Now I’ve got to learn to say Yes! That sounds hard. Yes seems more difficult than No. Yes means opening up and taking risks, something I’ve always shied away from.

On January 11th I posted a piece called “What a ‘victim’ will often hear” http://wp.me/p32vbr-1j6 . It was strange to look back and read the long list of insults and criticisms made on a daily basis to me by my abuser. So many women, girls (and boys) and children hear these poisonous words by people they trust. After years of listening to it, you undoubtedly begin to believe it. Thankfully, this post was followed by “What survivors should say”  http://wp.me/p32vbr-1jM a post I should really look at more often to remind me how far I’ve come and to keep me looking towards my future.

At the end of January, I posted a photo of my cooker at home. It was one of many photos I had taken of his property whilst I lived there. I wanted proof. Proof of what we lived in. People had been supportive on this site of my story, my journey. People had been very understanding that I suffered in my own way and although there was no violence, the abuse was still destructive and destroying. Sadly, you cannot always control who reads your work. There are so many supporters and equally plenty of haters.

Soon after posting this, I received a very critical comment from a stranger. Someone who knows nothing of my past, nothing about my father and the horror I endured. Yet this stranger, thought it was okay to condemn and chide me for my post. This stranger chose to belittle my abuse and imply that I was writing this to gain attention. Many of my wordpress family came together and put this idiot straight. Emotional abuse is hidden. It’s clever. It disguises itself well. It is harder to discover and can consume you as much as a violent attack.

 http://wp.me/p32vbr-1mT

February.

In February, I began experimenting with poetry. I have always loved poetry and written many poems when living at home with the abuser. It is a great way to express emotion without people fully understanding what it is you are saying. In other words, my abuser wasn’t clever enough to delve deeper into my poetry. He’d find them and know they were about him but his lack of intelligence prevented him from confronting me about it. I’d often find them ripped up in the bin. What else could he do?

I Hate Mondays has to be my favourite I’ve posted all year. Although, this one’s nothing to do with my father!

http://wp.me/p32vbr-1r0

 March.

Ah! The joy of getting older! On the 2nd I turned 32 and received the greatest present of all – I found out I was pregnant! Happy birthday me!!

April.

In April, I wrote a series of letters to certain people and groups in my life I felt needed to hear what I had to say. I must admit that there were some reactions to these letters and some were from the people I had written them to. I stand by my words. None were lies. I do not write lies. I needed a release and did it in the one way that felt comfortable and safe. As I have said many times, if you do not want to hear these things then do not read my page. If I am a nobody to you then what does it matter what I say? If you truly believe I am lying then why question it so much? Why punish me so badly? The reactions resonated with me more than the actual letters.

On a brighter note, April would be the first time I met my baby! Not in person thankfully but my husband, mother and I went for my scan and here was the result 🙂

roo

I have O.C.D.

It’s an admission.
One I’ve kept private for many years. It’s appeared on occasion but generally it’s easy to keep it hidden. It’s not your average kind of O.C.D, I do not wash my hands 16 times after using the toilet nor do I have to check repeatedly that I’ve turned the downstairs light off before bed.
Life with my abuser left me with many problems. A lack of self esteem, negativity about my body, lack of ambition, fear of risks are to name a few. I like to think I came out of that terror pretty unscathed, I mean it could have been a lot worse. However mentally, it’s impossible and unimaginable to presume my mind and heart would not be affected in some way.
He left a legacy and I carry the reminder of what he did every day.
I have closure from him. I do not think about him. I do not care to talk about him. Time has done it’s job. I do however know that he’s had a massive impact on who I am now and sadly, I am left piecing myself back together again even two years after his death.
Today I admitted it to myself.
I have O.C.D.
I do not like my things to be moved. I cannot deal with my things being touched without my permission. They just need to be left as they were. It doesn’t bother anyone nor does it cause harm but today my family experienced my O.C.D.
I tried an attempt to explain.
Every day with the abuser was another day of being watched, checked. My room was forever “inspected”. What if it didn’t meet his standards? What if I had not put one thing back in it’s place? Well then I would know about it. He’d go in there when I was out or at work. When he could take his time finding faults.

He’d pick at everything. I’d come home to find my clothes, which had been piled up on my chair, strewn across the floor with a note saying,

“A chair is not a place for clothes”.

Or some shampoo bottles that were nearly empty – stacked on my desk. He’d point out that they should have been thrown away months ago but it was not his “job” to do it.
There were times he moved actual furniture in my room to find dust, to find mistakes. He’d do it through the entire house. He had to find fault.
I hate someone, anyone, moving my things. My personal things.
My counsellor told me that you cannot expect someone to come out of something like that untouched and perfect. O.C.D. is often associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I suffered a great trauma with him. He controlled every aspect of my life for sixteen years even down to the way I felt about myself. I needed to get the control back. It is a complete form of control.
He controlled my money, my health, my choice in friends, my relationships, my food, my feelings, my habits, my freedom, my choices, my insecurities.
My family can’t relate.
We have argued today.
They refuse to understand and continues to make light of these issues I have.
I cannot ever be perfect.
I wouldn’t want to be.

The Never-Ending Story.

Nothing to do with the film but everything to do with the story of my life.

A few months ago, I made a conscious decision to stop blogging about past, to focus on the happier things occurring in my life. Blessed with the news of the pregnancy, it seemed like a new start. A chance where I could finally look to the future. My father is no longer a problem physically yet his ever-controlling presence sadly still exists.
I am yet to see a penny of my inheritance as I approach the two year anniversary of his death. To make matters worse as I am still residing with my mother, I still have to endure the daily torture of passing my old abuser’s home every day to work and back.

This is something sadly I have grown accustomed to this past year however it annoys me slightly that the new owners have already moved in and re-decorated, moving forward with their lives and I am stuck waiting, without news, on a chance to move forward with mine.

Surprisingly, that I can deal with.

The real upset is my sister.

I have always said to David, to my friends, that one day soon she would begin to etch herself back into my mother’s life and today we discover she is continuing her journey back to our mum.

It all began last year on Boxing Day when my mother received a card from her. Slowly, over the year, she has found new ways to find an avenue to return. It is never consistent. Instead, every few months she re-appears and toys with her mother’s emotions. An opportunity allowed itself in April. A chance appeared by natural where she could have easily re-entered the family ‘fold’. However, it was her choice to reject that chance when I attempted to call her and inform my only sister that I was pregnant.

She would not allow it. She just would not speak to me and the sweet, innocent news was broken to her by email. Yes, I did not hold back either. I felt at that point, it was within my right to tell her a few home truths about her. Many, many times over many many years have I listened to her tell me my faults and I have always bitten my tongue in reference to her. Mostly out of fear to awaken the beast inside. Her anger has always been terrifying (at times worse than his). However, I am a thirty two year old woman and she is forty for crying out loud. Perhaps it is time to reflect on the reasons why you are so estranged from your family? We NEVER walked away from you.

Many would ask why it bothers me that my sister is back in contact?

Let me make it clear – she is not back in contact with me. Only my mother. Cards on her birthday only. Letters only addressed to her. Did she congratulate me on my good news? No. Has she mentioned the baby when writing to our mother? No. Her intentions are very clear. She wants my mother back only. NOT me.

Well let me make my intentions clear.

I will not go through it again. I will not participate in any mind games. I refuse to be controlled. You may think your trusted strategy will bring you great success again, after all it worked so well with our father. I cannot speak for our mother. I do not know what you intend to use for your advantage this time. Will it be the tried and tested emotional tactic of using the grandchildren? Or perhaps the fact that you’ve suddenly realised you ‘need’ a mother figure in your life again? Just hurry up and make up your mind.

To be honest, if you really wanted to move forward you would not be pushing me aside. Hurt does not even cover it. You abandoned both your parents yet offered your love back to them like nothing had happened. Yet that love has never been offered to me.

Just say it. You wish I’d never come along don’t you?

I look at my friends and people on Facebook sharing photos of their sisters and I’m jealous. After all these years, I’m still jealous.

At least it proves one thing.

I have a heart.

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.

Joke or Deception.

This whole post may make me sound too sensitive or dramatic to some people. So to them, I apologize. Two days ago, I mentioned how ill I have been feeling recently. I also spoke about how I fell for a practical joke at work. Lately, dates have blended into one. I am not following what day it is as I am just desperate for the holiday. I didn’t even realize that it was April 1st (April Fool’s Day). So walking into work and reading the bulletin board seemed no different than any other day. I did not even question the letter placed on the wall describing the well known visitor coming to our school that day. It seemed plausible, something that was likely so why would I question it?

My bosses and colleagues were quick to laugh at me and my gullibility and yes, for a moment, it was funny. 

However, I have to be honest. I do not respond well to feeling deceived, joke or no joke. My abuser often played tricks on me, plotting against me and finding new ways to catch me out. Although, the practical joke at work was harmless fun and certainly not targeted at me, I couldn’t help but remember the old feelings my abuser left me with. 

I felt the joke was taken further when a colleague placed a letter in my pigeon hole. It was all very official but clearly another joke. This time that I had won the lottery. Someone had taken a lot of time to fool me. I put the letter away only skimming through part of it. Where did this person have the time to spend on such a detailed letter? Was my humiliation the hope from writing it? I did not acknowledge it and when the person later asked about it, I smiled politely shrugging off her question.

Yes, it was a joke and I am quite capable of laughing at myself. My friends tease me about my little idiosyncrasies, like the fact that I am a very slow eater and it is essential to always order before me in a restaurant. I can take a ribbing or two. I just don’t like the feeling that someone is laughing at my expense. I don’t like someone going out of their way to make me look the fool.

My abuser did that constantly. On one occasion, at a party held at the house, my father confronted me in the kitchen. I was bringing down my empty dinner plate (I used to eat my food in my bedroom). He challenged me before I left, demanding a reason as to why I hadn’t cooked anything for his guests. It was like a back handed compliment. He was (in a way) complimenting my cooking skills but pairing it with a lecture on how thoughtless I was. It didn’t help that his friends followed him in and watched my humiliation. The looked on as he berated my insensitivity and selfishness. They laughed with him when he joked that this was my nature. He was clearly drunk and actually denied the incident the next day. I had done nothing to ‘upset’ him earlier so it was completely out of the blue.

My abuser always laughed when I failed. He found hilarity in my failures. Even a misunderstanding of words would be a reason to ridicule me. I was illiterate and totally ignorant to him.

These things stick with you. Perhaps I will always remain sensitive to jokes.

Chapter 3, Part 2.

The second instalment of Chapter Three – Food and Waste.

He tormented me about waste. If there were any fragments of food left on my plate he would complain that I was childish, leaving such a small amount of food on my plate.To him, I should eat it. If I refused he’d call me an “animal” then take back his insult and say, “No, an animal appreciates their food, you’re worse than that”. Staring through me, he’d wait for my reaction. He take his place at the head of the dining table and wait. Patiently. Until there was no other choice.

I would eat the last remaining slivers of food. In front of him, under his watchful gaze. Feeling sick, I’d try to bring it back up moments later in the bathroom, but most of the time I’d go upstairs, lock myself in my room and cry.

Eventually he grew much, much worse. Bones from chicken or fish and crusts from bread had to be saved so he could throw them out to the birds (although they would only ever draw foxes and rats to the garden). If I forgot and just threw them in the bin he would scream at me and force me to retrieve them. Hovering beside me whilst his heavy breathing and powerful stance intimidated me, I’d crouch down to the kitchen dustbin. By now (having made his discovery later in the evening) the food was usually covered by his dirty tissues, cooking oil, old leftovers and vegetable peelings. Sickened, I’d reach in with my bare hands and pull out the rotten food, placing it on a plate ready to be thrown out the following morning. On the odd occasion where I refused, I would unlock his boiling rage. Insults would ensue, “You have no concern for others!” or “You’re a filthy pig!”

It was pointless to fight but the feeling of unbelievable degradation was also too much to bare. I was powerless with him.

My father’s waste fixation was incessant. If food grew old in the fridge and cupboards, he’d leave it there. Then he’d pick his moment (most certainly a time when I may have been in a good mood) and pile the items on the kitchen worktop ready for me to see. A confrontation would follow. I’d receive a lecture on my “immature” behaviour and my longing to squander his money and treat him with disrespect. He’d tell me how shallow I was, how I only cared about myself. Truthfully – I despised myself.

His obsession reached a peak in my mid-twenties. As he still paid for my food and he still had that control he would use this as his tool. If I left any food in the fridge that went past its sell-by-date he would once again place it for me to see. He told me that I would have to pay for my wastage. So if I ate half a packet of salad and had left the rest, I would have to pay half the cost of that salad.

One day I came home to find bottles of sauces (that were several years old), a shrivelled up cucumber, a small chunk of cheese and some meals I had put in the freezer, laid out on the dining table. He wasn’t home so I knew they’d been out all day. I also knew what was coming later. Once he returned I was summoned downstairs.

“What is all this?!” he screamed. I remained silent; it was the best way to be.

“You disgust me, do you know that?” Of course I knew it. He’d been saying it for years.

“I’ve worked it out. You need to pay me six pounds. I’ve rounded it up. Come on then!” He shouted, holding out his palm, “You need to learn!” His sick satisfaction was beaming as he let out a side smile.

More and more the same thing would happen. Occasionally I would wonder if he planted some of them. Perhaps they were his wastage and he would just blame it on me. Of course I never had any proof of this. For three years I allowed him to do this until one day I began paying for my own food. He reluctantly let me do this for a while but it soon failed as he began ranting that I was yet again being disrespectful for not letting my father ‘look after me’. That I was “foolishly choosing” to waste my own money or that I should be saving up all the tiny dregs that I get. I could do no right. He forever droned on about me being independent but when I attempt to be I’m apparently disrespecting him.

Flirtation VS Assault.

After posting “A Very Different World” last week (about the short French film that focused on a total role reversal and challenged viewers’ preconceptions on sexual predators and abuse) I began a discussion with my mother around the subject of ‘boundary breaking’. I am no prude. I’ve always been known as flirtatious. However, I – as many women do – have boundaries. I have personal lines that should not be crossed especially when it comes to the opposite sex.

I posted a comment on my blog detailing an incident that happened to me at the beginning of the year. I told another blogger how that on my way to meet a friend for an evening drink, I fell into a difficult situation. During the winter months in Britain, it tends to get dark around four in the afternoon. I left home at six so it was pitch black. At the end of my road is a little corner shop which slightly lights that part of the street. Outside the shop stood two men. They seemed young but I could not tell their age immediately. I was not dressed provocatively. I was covered up in a very warm coat. I was not expecting them to behave the way they did. Both men were wearing hooded tops. Their faces could barely be seen. They were both standing blocking the path. I felt wary as I approached them. Striding past, a strong and overwhelming gust of marijuana flew past me. Both men were smoking in plain view. Within seconds, they began making kissing noises at me with one even muttering something (I only caught him saying “darling”). I looked up but continued walking. Worryingly, I missed my bus and had to continue walking to the next bus stop which happened to be a bit of a distance away.

I began to feel nervous.

I practically sprinted to the next bus stop. Was it wrong to feel so anxious?

As I approached the dimly lit bus stop I looked back. I was happy to see no one was behind me. I was now by the side of a busy, main road. Cars were rushing by. Surely I would be safe. However, after a couple of minutes, one of the men appeared. Horrified, I stepped out of the dark bus shelter and closer to the busy road; it was the only way to be seen. The man stared at me as he passed by. I tried not to catch his gaze.  Relieved that he had walked by, I started to relax. That was until he decided to turn back. With darkness as his cover, he approached me.

“What’s your name?” He asked abruptly.

I answered. I couldn’t be rude in fear of what he might do. There were many bushes around. He could have easily dragged me into one if I dared to insult him. So I was polite.

“Give me your number,” he ordered in a monotone voice. How he thought this was seductive or appealing I’ll never know.

“No!” I answered jokingly, trying not to show my fear.

“You have got a tight little ass haven’t you,” he said, biting his lip and staring at my behind.

That was it. The words that made me worried but what could I do?

“Let me take you out.”

“You can’t. I’m married.”

“And?”

That is not the first time a man has responded that way when I have replied that I am not single. It is completely disgusting.

Just then, my bus came. Relief can not even begin to describe my feelings. I can honestly say, I have never been so pleased to see a bus in my life.

If that can happen at six in the afternoon then imagine if it was ten at night. I can’t believe that people feel they can say whatever they want to whoever they want! Have some boundaries! What gives someone the right to speak so inappropriately to me, to make me feel like a piece of meat? When does flirtation cross into assault?

My mother told me about a time when she visited New York back in the seventies. She went and stayed with my father’s brother and wife. On a day trip out, whilst walking alone through the Bronx, a man passed by and casually assaulted her, he then walked off again as though he had done nothing. Horrified, my mother ignored it with the fear that speaking out to her brother-law would be met with ridicule. Alone in a big city, it was inconceivable to find help and admit such a derogatory incident.

I just cannot comprehend something like that.

I have flirted with men in nightclubs before, I cannot deny that I have not been physically flirtatious but we all know the unspoken lines. I would not grab a man by his crotch yet why have I had a man attempt to put his hand up my skirt before? Did I invite that? Was I dancing too provocatively? Some people might agree to that. Isn’t that the excuse of rapists, that she was deliberately trying to turn me on or she shouldn’t have been wearing such seductive clothing.

Why is it becoming more and more acceptable to behave this way?

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?!