As though we never met.

It’s as though you cannot see me,

you only nod to say hello.

A brief smile perhaps….maybe,

but your talk is just for show.

It’s as though we never met,

or shared a joke or two,

you have your new found friends

and I have seen the real you.

It’s as though you couldn’t care

your face reeks of retribution,

a feeling of despair

as I stand for prosecution.

In front of their watchful eyes

of the girls you so admire.

Judged by women I barely know

and a friendship now expired.

It’s as though we never laughed

or shared sad times together.

The memories are just lost

like my faith in friendship forever.

 

 

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Raising Awareness.

I am taking my prompt from another blogger who has inadvertently encouraged me to start researching more about the many forms of abuse. I discovered emotional incest from my counsellor three years ago. I had never heard of it before then. Discovering this new term changed a part of my life. Finally, there were answers. I began researching it through the internet and came across a book, one that I have recommended on the blog already – The Emotional Incest Syndrome – Dr Patricia Love, believe me, it’s well worth a read. Many survivors of parental abuse may not realise that this is happening to them. I didn’t.

Over the next few posts I will be looking into the information that is out there on the world wide web to help other survivors of different forms of abuse. It will be good to know what avenues there are to explore especially in the United Kingdom as when I was suffering, it was difficult to know where to go. Of course, the doctor or psychiatrist is always an option but there should be more available to help people going through these traumas.

In the book I’ve recommended to you, there is a section that asks you to “tick” off what relates to your situation. If any of you have any doubts or questions about your relationship with your parents (past and present) this is a good and enlightening task to do. BEWARE: It may bring up some revelations and you need to be ready to face them. It not only asks you to look at your relationship with the abusers but the way in which you value yourself.

I do hope this is beneficial to you as it was to me.

 Check list of Enmeshment

Part A. Indication of an Overly Close Parent-Child Bond

1. I felt closer to one parent than the other.
2. I was a source of emotional support for one parent.
3. I was “best friends” with a parent.
4. A parent shared confidences with me.
5. A parent was deeply involved in my activities or in developing my talents
6. a parent took a lot of pride in my abilities or achievements.
7. I was given special privileges or gifts by one of my parents.
8. One of my parents told me in confidence that I was the favourite, most talented, or
most lovable child.
9. A parent thought I was better company than his/her spouse.
10. I sometimes felt guilty when I spent time away form one of my parents.
11. I got the impression a parent did not want me to marry or move far away form home.
12. When I was young I idolized one of my parents.
13. Any potential boyfriend/girlfriend of mind was never good enough for one of my
parents.

14. A parent seemed overly aware of my sexuality.

15. A parent made inappropriate sexual remarks or violated my privacy.
Part B. Indication of Unmet Adult Needs
1. My parents were separated, divorced, widowed, or didn’t get along very well.
2. One of my parents was often lonely, angry or depressed.
3. One of my parents did not have a lot of friends.
4. One or both parent had a drinking or drug problem.
5. One of my parents thought the other parent was too indulgent or permissive.
6. I felt I had to hold back my own needs to protect a parent.
7. A parent turned to me for comfort or advice.
8. A parent seemed to rely on me more than on my siblings.
9. I felt responsible for a parent’s happiness.
10. My parents disagreed about parenting issues.
 Part C. Indication of Parental Neglect of Abuse
1. My needs were often ignored or neglected.
2. There was a great deal of conflict between me a parent.
3. I was called hurtful names by a parent.
4. One of my parents had unrealistic expectations of me.
5. One of my parents was very critical of me.
6. I sometimes wanted to hide from a parent or had fantasies of running away.
7. When I was a child, other families seemed less emotionally intense than mine.
8. It was often a relief to get away from home.
9. I sometimes felt invaded by a parent.
10. I sometimes felt I added to a parent’s unhappiness.
 10 or more endorsements – possibly emotional incest. Look at how the checked items
cluster.

This is an extract from the book – The Emotional Incest Syndrome – Dr Patricia Love. I ticked 8 in Part A, 8 in Part B and all 10 in Part C. Part C I feel relates to the abuse from my father in my twenties. This is not just a reference to childhood. My counsellor told me to tick as it is happening to me now. I think that is where the realisation of what was happening really hit home. Lets use this and move forward.

Let the healing begin.

Ros xx

Taking on other people’s problems.

Turning other peoples’ problems away is a big weakness of mine. It is a topic we discussed on the assertiveness course I recently took. Many of the other participants felt the same way. They too were inclined to carry other peoples’ weight on their shoulders. Even when the burden grew to be too much, the fear and anxiety of betraying them or appearing to be selfish would stop them in their tracks.

The sense of feeling needed or wanted can immerse someone with their own issues into much deeper problems. Taking on your friends’ and family’s problems and attempting to resolve their dilemmas are too much to bear. I took on my family’s issues from an early age. My sister and I have both been our parents’ confidante at some point in our lives. She once enjoyed her position so much but eventually realised how unhealthy the whole process was. My mother (the problem teller) never saw it that way. Why would she?

I have, in the past, become the inevitable: a shoulder to cry on for almost anybody around. The want to please and be accepted takes over and personal boundaries are automatically crossed. To be seen as dependable and reliable is the desire, to go against it would be like betraying myself.

However, I am human and no human can live a life like that.

The problem is that when you finally decide enough is enough and you want to please yourself from now on, the people you have been there for at their beck and call, well they don’t like the new you. They don’t like change and resentment begins to build. Questions form on how your existing relationship was originally defined. How did you so easily accept the role of adviser and life coach?

The only life you should be coaching is your own.

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
Jim Rohn

Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

I have to be honest, I lack knowledge in this subject and would never have classed myself as suffering from it. Well, not until recently. Within the last two years, due a significant weight gain (related to stress), I have been feeling extremely low about the way I look, anxious even. Walking past a mirror or reflective surface only panics me. It instantly disgusts me.

I am regularly told “it’s all in your head” or scolded for being self-absorbed. Others compliment me, attempting to reassure my fault-finding. I’ve had people drop casual comments that I should start dieting then I might feel better. In actuality that makes me feel a thousand times worse when all I do is diet then binge and diet then binge. Any sign of stress sends me into this destructive path.

I have read other bloggers talk about BDD but would never admit that I too suffer from many of the symptoms. I am scared that friends, family and acquaintances will judge me; that they will think I am attention seeking or fishing for compliments. It’s not that I need to hear I’m beautiful, I just cannot stand the way I look. When I see myself in the mirror I feel sick. I see a stranger staring back at me.

In the explanation for BDD on the NHS website, they say that sufferers regularly find fault in their bodies especially the facial area. I hate my face. I hate it. I think it’s vile. I hate my unsymmetrical face. I hate my twisted nose, my teeth, my double chin. I feel disgusting every day. That’s not to say that I love everything else about myself – I don’t.

I love fashion. I try to make it work but the confident days are ruined when I accidentally see my reflection in a shop window. What seemed like a good choice in the morning becomes a bad decision; one that I berate myself for making for the rest of the day. A decision that leaves me feeling self conscious and extremely aware of how awful I look.

I do not dare say this out loud and am currently too frightened to seek professional help. I feel as though I may be laughed at. After all, people see me as I want them to see me: confident and self-assured.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Am I aggressive?

It’s not the first word that comes to mind if I was to describe myself or even to describe my faults. Aggression is really not in my nature. I cower and run from it, I’m frightened of it and avoid other forms of it. Confrontation is the last place you’ll find me. However, naturally, like any other human, I am capable of having aggression, of feeling it and sometimes, of displaying it too. Mine tends to come out when I’ve been passive for too long, when I’ve allowed annoyances to build up or have been biting my tongue. I explode and the emotion quickly follows. My husband tends to get it the most. He knows that I mean no harm and that it is usually nothing to do with him. Instead the stresses of day to day life and work come out at the strangest of times, especially when neither of us are expecting it.

I swear. It’s quite bad. It shocks him. Nothing too vulgar (even I’m not capable of losing it entirely), but bad enough to take him by surprise.

He gets it.

All those years I was “forbidden” to show anger or frustration. All those years my father berated me for having emotion or feeling hurt. Of course, anger would eventually come out. However, I’m no monster. I am quick to apologise and calm down. I do not want to be his mirror image or fall into his behaviour. I refuse to hold grudges over tiny matters, quickly moving away from the argument with softer, sweeter words.

My aggression was suppressed for many years. My whole family disallowed anger on my part yet they all freely let loose, screaming insults and rage at each other. Perhaps they wanted my innocence to remain but keeping such a basic emotion out of someone’s grasp is unheard of. The mere thought that I was banned from the reality of anger just doesn’t make sense. My mother still cannot take, to this day, my voice raising to a slightly higher pitch. If this happens and I appear bothered by something, she reacts. I am immediately reprimanded for getting angry. Of course, my natural reaction to this is of frustration, that I cannot even breathe in the wrong way and she’s ready to criticise me, and obviously – I get angry! So, she gets what she wants.

Anger is an emotion like any other. Bottle it up for too long and it will explode. Everyone has the right to feel it and to act on it but in a controlled way, without screams and chaos or violence and fear.

We are human after all. You can’t deny me my rights.

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.
Nelson Mandela

5th September 2012 – The funeral Part 2.

After a series of prayers, hymns and readings, my sister began her eulogy. She did ask if I wanted to say a few words about our late father but I politely turned her request down. I was far too afraid that my few words would turn into the emotional revelation of my life. I would not be able to find any kind words to say, my anger and hurt would be on display and I was sure I’d be removed from the church. No, I wanted to witness the sham for all that it was.

It was already very clear, from the previous speeches and readings, what these people thought of my father. I was not expecting to be any more shocked than I already was. But my sister’s eulogy soon brought about the horror again.

She stood sombrely at the lectern, resting her pages on the stand. Her voice was gentle; she seemed calm and read her well-rehearsed speech with confidence. She did not appear as the sister I had witnessed over the past few years.

She began by briefly describing my father’s childhood for example: where he grew up, his college years and his role in his family as being the ‘gentle’ one. She gave the congregation an insight into the life they never knew. During this, I had to bite my tongue, stopping myself from giving them the insight into the actual and factual life they never knew he led. My sister however, kept up his pretence. It was her pretence too, her fantasy world that they had both created but I was living in the cold reality, faced with the truth of what kind of man he really was.

In her words he was a “quiet, thoughtful man”, three words that couldn’t be further from his genuine character. I would have never described him as “thoughtful” and he certainly wasn’t a man. No real man would treat their daughter the way he treated me. Mutters of agreement echoed around me as my sister continued to praise my abuser with affectionate words. My mother turned back to me in horror at the realisation of my sister’s devotion and utmost respect for him.

I knew it was coming, I was expecting it to be a shocker although most of it still took me by surprise, I was hoping she would erase my worries not highlight them. I also wasn’t expecting the room to be completely full. It seemed as though my father had fooled a lot of people.

My sister had clearly researched my father’s upbringing but only revealed the sweeter moments. There was no talk of how jealous of his sisters he was, or his shaky relationship with his mother, those memories were left out.

She referred to his final years (those with her in his life) as a much more peaceful time in his existence. When she had her second child in 2011 and their relationship had been rebuilding for a year, she spoke of the time her husband had to return to work after his paternity leave had finished. My sister was still in need of support. She wouldn’t have asked my mother who had taken my father’s sorry place in my sister’s heart and become the enemy. She wouldn’t have asked me. We were estranged for several years due to my growing bond with my mother. I was venomous in her eyes, a supporter of the new enemy. So she accepted my father’s sweet, generous offer to look after and visit her every day for two weeks. She described him as a “family man”, looking after the baby so that she could have a nap, reading his grandson bedtime stories, bringing her decadent foods like olives, pate and breads, homemade spaghetti bolognese and sweet treats to satisfy her every craving.

I could not believe it. This was not generosity. This was the way my father worked. I had been in the same position many years ago and I also fell for the act. Money and gifts do not equate love.

Although shocking, the whole eulogy was quite interesting to listen to. Especially hearing such a different character interpretation of the abuser from a woman who once saw exactly what I see now. Some of the quotes I noted from her eulogy were:

He was true to his word – yes, in many ways he was. When he promised that I’d regret speaking to him disrespectfully, he was right. I did regret it. The abuse that followed after my clear belligerence was deserved in his eyes. Was he true to his words when he promised to be my sole carer? When he told the court and gave his word on his honour that he would look after me? No, he wasn’t. He betrayed the courts and he betrayed me.

He had a strong work ethic – do you mean he was obsessed with his work and that he needed to be wealthy in order to gain respect? He had no ethics. To be ethical, you require morals, principles and decency. He had none of those.

He liked the simple thing in life – was the one quote that seriously made me let out a little laugh, the simple things, honestly? He loved extravagance, decadence, he loved luxury. Yet nothing could ever make him truly happy.

She made a good point during her speech; she admitted to be the mirror image of the abuser. She too had his work ethic. She was certainly obsessed with her career; work was one of her biggest stresses and not in a challenging or stimulating way. She struggled in many ways; she was never willing to take any responsibility for any mistakes made in her life, it was always somebody else’s fault. Sound familiar? Of course it does, she is just the same as him.

She also spoke of them both loving order and precision in their lives. His love of order equalled his O.C.D. Order was something that made my life hell during those bitter twelve years. I’m an organised person; I like to know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. But I can see that events can happen in life that changes order. It shows greater character if you are able to adapt to change. My father could not do that.

Then came the tears, the break in her voice that showed a glimpse of genuine emotion. The abuser had won. He had succeeded in convincing her that he was a decent man. That it was my mother and I who were evil. He had won. She did not fully cry, I looked for it but I could not see any tears. I thought I would see an essence of emotion, I thought I would see an open heart but it remained firmly closed. The barriers went back up as she cleared her throat. As she spoke the words that echo in me to this day, my sister pulled it back together. A week before he died, in the comfort of her presence, my father told her,

“It has been like another life”.

The congregation let out a mutual compassionate sigh while a single tear fell silently onto my lap.

How much clearer could he be than that? He had her back, the one he had really wanted. My sister had finally returned to him.

“You have left me with a precious gift, so Daddy, I thank you.”

I brushed the empty tear away and took a deep breath. He was not worth my tears, he had hers.

Plenty of others spoke in my father’s honour. Laughable comments continued to be made:

  • He was able to apologise
  • Had a very gracious nature
  • Greatly missed by everyone
  • Sense of humour
  • Kept as fit as possible
  • Generous to his friends

I let these comments wash over me. Let them have their false memories!

After two hours the service was over. It felt like the longest two hours of my life and unfortunately the day was not over. My friend had to go back to work but David remained by my side. As the congregation mingled with each other, I made my way to my mother. She was both emotional and disturbed. She remarked how she felt like an imposter at a stranger’s funeral, I felt that too. There were faces that we recognised and many we didn’t. A few of his neighbours came to say ‘Hello’. They gave their condolences to me, little did they know my relief and comfort in his death.

My sister and her husband remained at the other end of the hall. My mother and I were definitely at the bottom of the hierarchy. We were happy to be given that position. We received a few polite regards and condolences, some from people we once knew and some from total strangers. His church friends enclosed around my sister, consoling her, hugging her and praising her beautiful words about the abuser. I stood alone with only my mother and husband by my side.

Eventually more people came over. One questioned my relationship to the abuser.

“Are you his second daughter?” she said in disbelief.

“Yes.” I responded, wondering why this woman looked so confused at the idea that he had another child.

My sister had mentioned in her eulogy that my parents had a second child but that was the only reference to me in the entire funeral.

I was an unknown.

Conclusion to follow tomorrow.

3. Don’t patronise me Dad.

Finding one of my father’s patronising notes to me was quite shocking. Although I wish I kept them all for evidence, I could not stand the thought of knowing his evil letters were filling my drawers.

I must have saved this one for a reason. Perhaps I was losing patience or wanted to remind myself that these things were truly happening. Either way, I saved it. I do not know when this note was left for me or what the circumstances that provoked him to write it really were. But usually it didn’t matter what I had really done. It was probably the smallest thing that prompted him to write it. All that is clear, is that I had annoyed him. He does not talk to me like his daughter in it nor like someone close to him. If anything it speaks volumes of how he could not communicate with anyone especially his own child.

 You still have got a part filled tall glass in your room. Can you bring that down and do the rest as you have said. I do not wish to prolong this topic but why do you need to use a fresh towel each time you wash your hair and then dump it somewhere? A little effort to live in germ free conditions and a little good taste in living conditions would be appreciated.      ‘Cheers’ 

I have no idea why he signed off with cheers in inverted commas. Was he being sarcastic? Or making fun of me? Probably. He never vocalised his grievances to me when they were small. He’d write these notes and leave them throughout the house surprising me in every room. He would wait until the little annoyances built up to a point of frustration and he would take great enjoyment in each explosion of utter rage.

My father couldn’t have wanted a good relationship with me. Surely, if he did, he would have recognised that these notes were pointless and all he needed to do was communicate calmly to get what he wanted. I wasn’t obstinate. I just wanted respect.

Respect he always said I never deserved.