The dilemma.

I am currently on my maternity leave from work. I am now in my fourth month of it and am not entirely sure of where the time has gone.

My husband and I have been researching nurseries for the little one for when I return to work and I have to admit (even knowing that it would always cost more than I could ever afford) I never fully realised just how expensive nurseries in London are. Overpriced is a word that stands out. Some that we’ve looked at are more than my monthly wage for one month! It’s ridiculous.

So what are working mums, with a salary under 30k meant to do?

My combined income with my husband does not provide me with enough money to pay off a mortgage and nursery fees. So what do I do? Here is the dilemma.

Many ignorant people will comment that I should not have had a child in my circumstance. However, this is a stupid thing to say as I am not on state benefits. I am a working woman. My husband also works full time. We enjoy our careers. We have ambition and want to get somewhere in our jobs. This doesn’t mean I do not enjoy motherhood. I love being a mother and I dote on my amazing thriving daughter.

We as a society should be encouraging mothers back into work not depriving them of returning or continuing when nursery fees are through the roof.

I do not have a young mother who can look after her grand child nor do I have a large family base. I only have the option of a nanny or nursery when I return to work. When these options become unaffordable, what is one to do?

One thing is clear. My husband and I are going to have to spend a lot of time researching over the next couple of months to find somewhere of high standard and somewhere that fits comfortably into our budget for the little one.

 

To my Old ‘Friends’.

Dear Old Friends,

In the time we knew one another, what did you really think of me? A couple of you vented your anger at me towards the end of our relationship with unfair irritation over things that were out of my control. You clearly got me all wrong.

There must have been something in me that you liked once. Bizarrely, I never changed. Yet, you found something so unpleasant in me it was enough to walk away.

I know that I was closed off. It was my safety net. You only needed to know so much. When I did let my guard down and revealed some truths, you used them against me as a weapon or a bargaining tool. How could I trust you after that? I was insecure. I doubted myself and any confidence you may have seen was a clever shield of protection.

I was and am a loyal friend, supportive and caring. Your longing to be popular and superior pushed me to one side. I do not want those things. I never have.

To the so-called friends who attended my wedding. You had the free meal and wine and then you disregarded me like an old newspaper. What happened? It took the space of my ten day honeymoon for me to return and find you had changed. No explanation, only distance. You still can’t properly look me in the eye now can you? Are you ashamed of your behaviour? You should be. I am worth ten of you. I would never treat someone like that.

What did you have against me? It is clear that perhaps you do not agree with this blog. You do not feel it is necessary to bring up the past and portray my deceased father in this horrific light. All I am doing is shining the light on the truth. Many run from it but I am facing it. Not only for me but to help others in the same situation. Not every choice is selfish. My father was a bad man. He was a cruel and ruthless man. Just because he is dead does not mean he gets to rest in peace. I do not need to honour him. I have no respect for him, living or dead.

What is abuse to you?

Do you get that he destroyed me? Are you willing to look past your own feelings and see what he did to me? Probably not as you are shallow and narrow minded. You see life in black and white and that is why we were never meant to be true friends.

If you were all such angels, perhaps you would not think it was okay to drop someone like that for no given reason. Maybe you aren’t all as innocent as you like to think you are.

L, it is funny that for someone who came to my engagement drinks and wedding, that now you ignore me if we arrive on the same train platform occasionally. I won’t ever forget that oh so recent day when you clocked me in the corner of your eye and deliberately headed to the furthest point of the tube carriage! I’m lucky I didn’t get a complex from that! It is pathetic. I have done nothing to you. It is almost as though getting married was the only thing going for me in terms of personality. Charming.

M, you’re the same although perhaps a little worse. I trusted you. I classed you as a close friend but that all came to a head when you and P ruined my hen night. If money was so tight why an earth did you both agree to come in the first place? It wasn’t as though we had planned an extensive, expensive outing was it but to leave half way through the evening is really taking the piss and to make matters even worse you took most of the party with you!! Outrageous. I had only planned to have one hen do in my lifetime you know so thanks for cocking that up (!)

I do not wish for you all back. Everything happens for a reason and to be honest, I do not think my life would be any better with you all in it.

Enough said.

Ros.

 

19 months later.

19 months later and I am still waiting for my inheritance. Sadly, due to the non-existent relationship between me and my sister, I rarely hear any news on the matter. After speaking to a colleague yesterday, I realized that something needs to be done. For the past year and a half, I have been chasing up my sister for any news relating to any progress. However, she has made it very difficult, not just to contact her but to pull out any decent information. 

It feels like a game. One in which I’m sorely losing.

I feel greedy. Thinking about money. Worrying about my future. All I have ever wanted was total closure from my father – from the past. My sister’s distance is only emphasizing and tormenting the pain further. My father’s memory is still burning bright. I want to distinguish it. 

It almost feels like that man is still controlling my life! Yet, he is dead!

I hope my true freedom comes around sooner rather than later.

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.

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.

The Good Samaritan.

After my fleeting moment with the lady on the train a month ago, I decided that I would no longer ignore people in times of need. Of course, in certain situations, it is sensible to think of my own safety but sometimes it is necessary to take those little extra steps to make it easier or better for others. Today was one of those days.

As I waited for the bus home from work, I caught the eye of two girls that live on my road. We have never spoken but they have always been friendly and smile at me each time we get on the same bus. They became even more excited when they discovered that we live on the same road. I am polite and smile back. Children are judged too quickly these days. People seem to fear them but why should they be condemned before they have done anything? We wouldn’t do that to anyone else yet why is it okay to judge teenagers like that?

Our bus home arrived and quickly became packed with passengers. I sat down as the two girls got on. The driver suddenly got louder and seemed to telling one girl off. I took my headphones out as they seemed to be arguing. I did not want to pry but it was very crowded and the driver was making a scene. He began shouting at the girl about her ticket, telling her that she cannot ride the bus for free and that she “needs to pay like everybody else”. She wasn’t trying to trick the system, she was waiting for her new Oyster card to be delivered and kept telling the driver it was coming in eight days.

It was pitch black out now the nights are longer and so cold; to send her out and throw her off the bus not only seemed unreasonable but totally unjust. He continued to rant at her and some exasperated groans left the mouths of the other passengers. Enough was enough, she did not need a lecture she just wanted to get home and out of the cold. We do not live in a dangerous part of London however even here, have I recently been followed by some rather dodgy men on a Friday night. It was only 6.30 in the evening but the darkness had become their cover. Thankfully, they did not harass me too much and my bus arrived to save me in time but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t petrified.

I know that girls alone, in the dark, are an easy target.

I got up from my seat and without hesitation paid the driver the extortionate £2.40 he demanded from the twelve year old girl. Both sisters kept telling me not to worry as they would just leave, but I came to their defence and plainly told the driver,

“They are children and you are very happy to throw them off the bus in the cold and in the dark. We as adults should be looking out for their safety whether we know them or not. They aren’t trying to cheat the system. They are very sensible girls”.

Okay. I didn’t know if that last part was true as we had never talked but two young teenage girls who stand up to let the elderly sit down or smile at their new neighbours, seem pretty sensible to me. They are innocents and we, in a world like this today, should be celebrating that.

In  the background while the driver began barking obscenities at me, an elderly lady said as other passengers murmured in agreement,

“She’s a good Samaritan that one”.

The young girls seemed grateful and began speaking to each other in their own language as they sat down, The younger sister blurted out,

“I’ll pay you back, I’ll go straight home and pay you back!”

I said not to worry. What’s £2? They get to go home safely, that’s all that matters. The elderly woman had her feathers ruffled as she was appalled by the driver’s attitude and manner. I just reiterated the point that they are young girls being thrown off a bus and how inappropriate and unkind that would be.

As we drove further, another older man began rummaging through an envelope and started counting some loose change. He caught my attention and handed it to me. I immediately refused and smiled telling him to put his money away. I was shocked that so many people were now coming to my need. That was so lovely to see.

The young girl did repay me later.

I told you she was sensible.

1. How well he was watching me.

The first piece of paper that stood out to me was one sheet. On it was four columns written in pencil. Perhaps not writing in pen gave him the opportunity to erase his words. However, I must’ve found it before he could.

The paper read something like this:

Week Ending                  16 Nov/23 Nov               27/11/02 – cheque                 £176.25

 ”                  ”                  30 Nov                            29/11/02                                 £92.71

”                   ”                  7 Dec                              5/12/02                                   £92.71

The list carried on until 14/01/03 where the final transaction he had noted down was a bank transfer.

I had saved a vital piece of what I always knew he was doing. Those times where he would leave my opened bank statements outside my bedroom door apologising for accidentally opening them himself. All along, he was noting down the activity on my accounts. He was saving his sordid records and following my life with vengeance. Why and how could my money matters mean so much to him? This list and the dates suggest I was twenty years old. I was still studying and not earning. I wasn’t hiding anything from him but his suspicious nature would always control the way he behaved.

He never treated me as his daughter even though he constantly  raved about trust.

But does this seem like trust? How could he betray me so badly? My personal life was not mine. He needed to know it all.

I was angry when I discovered this. It had taken the betrayal further. I knew he was monitoring my money but I was unaware he was taking notes too.

It’s pathetic really.

8th August 2012 – Breaking point.

My father had been moved to the cancer unit at University College Hospital in Central London. It was the hospital where I was born. I met David after work and we went there to visit him. I was nervous; shaking. The unit was based on the top floor and there were views across the whole of London from his ward.

As we walked to him, my sister was sat on the bed. I could not believe that once again he had timed our meetings flawlessly. Our last encounter was at the previous hospital and it was less than perfect. The children were there and I got to meet my niece for the first time since she was born; she was 11 months and beautiful. But as I reached out to hold her my sister unbelievably remarked,

“She doesn’t go to strangers.”

I held her anyway and gave her all the love I could in those few seconds before they took her back like the possession she was to them. My six year nephew, a boy I’d once been so close to, barely interacted with me. I missed him so much but he did not know me any more. My sister was partly correct. In many ways I was a stranger to them. However, I never asked for that role. All I wanted was to be in their lives but just like my father, my sister used the things I loved to control and own power. It was easier to allow this than fight it; I’d never been a fighter. She knew this and exploited it.

It was massively uncomfortable being there again with her. I could barely be myself in front of my father, let alone my estranged sister too.

My father decided this was the time to raise the awkward subject of money. I thought I had already dealt with this subject during the last phone call however my father was refusing to let it lie. He had a point to make and he was willing to push me to breaking point.

It was though he was using his upcoming death as another source of control. I did not want to talk about the topic of inheritance under the watchful eyes of my sister. I had always been accused of being materialistic and greedy by her, something he knew and revelled in. I attempted to change the subject but that failed miserably. I looked at him knowingly but he avoided my glance. Instead, he proceeded to instruct me on how my inheritance was to be spent.

I wanted to leave immediately.

I stared at the state of my father. He had lost a dramatic amount of weight. I knew very little of his condition and he avoided my questions. My sister however knew everything. She was his confidante, a position she had a long time ago with my mother. She berated her for this. She punished Ma for putting her in that position. So why did she so happily take on this role with my father? Perhaps, it made her feel special and wanted. I know how much she has always enjoyed her influence on my parents. Each of them at some point in their lives have relied on her, confided in her and portrayed her as the perfect daughter. She had a reputation to uphold. I was happy for her to have that part, I never wanted it. When I had it; I hated it.

I felt incredibly emotional. Most of the emotions were anger and hurt. My sister was watching me as my father continued to dictate his inheritance conditions. There were no conditions written into the will so I knew that either his idea had been refuted to put it in there by his solicitor or that he didn’t have the courage to put it there in the first place. That or he just wanted to say it. He got tremendous satisfaction from saying it, imposing it and ordering me around.

I sat there silently for what seemed like an eternity. David said nothing. He never knew how to deal with my father. I understood that. It was a difficult situation and he often felt it was not his place. But, secretly, I wanted him to shout, to tell my Dad to ‘back off’ and frankly, just to STOP. It was even more upsetting that clearly I was still on my own.

After several minutes I think my father recognised my apparent discomfort. I wouldn’t look him in the eye and looked very uncomfortable. He tried to move the topic onto something else but by that time I was far too upset to stay. My cousin from America had called and it all felt a little too weird. My sister used to call her all sorts of derogatory names. She hated her but all of a sudden she was acting like her best friend as though they told each other everything. I was confused and horrified by her behaviour. If my sister was such a forgiving person then why is she still punishing my mother? Our mother who never abused us, who made mistakes but recognises them, who just wants to be there for us? She welcomed my abusive, dangerous father back into her life, to be a granddad to her children, forgetting how he treated her as a child herself. How he called her names and accused her of creating the depression she had suffered with for years. She has forgotten that. She has forgiven that.

Yet she still punishes my mum. I cannot even tell you what for. I do not truly know if there is a reason. It just seems that she always needs to punish someone. That is how she copes.

I left my father’s bedside and although the two of them attempted to convince me to stay, I knew I needed to get out of there. I needed fresh air, I needed to breathe and be free. I couldn’t look at him any more. He had taken it too far.

He messaged me that night.

“Babitago, I am so sorry to see you go through the very stressful situation yesterday. I love you darling. Can you give me a call”.

I didn’t call him.

His message was just words.

His actions were the things I read now and they were clear to me. My humiliation was key. It gave him everything he needed. His sickly sweet, patronising words washed over me.

Was it really an apology? He was apologising for the way I felt and NOT for what he did! The man was a total joke – dying or not.

5th August 2012 – The Awakening.

Well, after the previous phone call and epiphany, I was about to get another awakening from my father.

Once again, he picked a phone call to break the news.

This time it concerned my future.

His will.

I really didn’t want to know. I’d rather have waited till his death. But my Dad wasn’t that kind of man. He wanted to cause drama, to upset people or to get a reaction. He didn’t have an ounce of sensitivity or decency in his body. I tried to explain that it was inappropriate to talk to me about the content of his will at that time but my words fell on deaf ears. He ignored my request entirely and proceeded to announce to me a clear summary of what he intended to give us.

He made it very clear as what I was to do with my share of the money. I was to put the whole amount on a deposit for a house. There was no arguing the matter or I would not get the money. He threatened that if I did not agree to this that he would change the will at the last minute.

I never wanted anything from him.

Never.

I hated that he was still controlling every decision I was to make. It angered me that even my future was falling under his power. I remained silent on the phone, holding back the tears and anger waiting to explode. He always hated my silence. He called it “insolent” and I could feel his insults building up down the phone from his heavy, stilted breathing.

“Why are you taking so long Babitago? It’s very simple. You are thirty years old and you do not even own your own property. You must put it all on a house. Do you understand?”

“Mmmm,” was the only response I could muster through the tears.

It pacified him for the time being. I allowed him to believe he had the power. What was the point in fighting him? A sick man, lying in a hospital bed struggling to breathe. Even I knew that fighting him was the wrong thing to do as much as I berated myself for it.

It also came to my attention during the call that I was to get the lowest share of the will.

So he finally got his revenge on me. He was to continue his punishment, his anger and betrayal even after his death.

I was pretty shocked but almost relieved. I don’t want to associate the rest of my life with that man. I don’t want to be thankful to him or grateful. I don’t want to feel as though he saved me.

I want to save me.

Chapter 6, Part 2.

Money Cont.

My father has attempted to control money in my life for years. When I was young he did as any parent does and set up an account. He also bought several shares. Gradually more accounts began to appear as well as the mention of more shares. He barely put any money in the accounts to begin with but kept all of their books. By the age of eighteen, if I wanted to put my money in the bank, I would have to take the book from him, deposit the cash then return the book back to my dad. These were his rules, enforced on me. For years he could see my bank balance, knowing exactly what I was earning or if any money was coming in. Eventually I plucked up the courage to confront him about it. He immediately berated me for insulting him and disrespecting his love for me. He would say I never trusted him and I had no respect for him over and over again. I left it be and let him have the stupid account. I then made the decision to open my own account somewhere else and to keep the information to myself. Thankfully they never issued a book, only a card which I kept very tightly hidden away.

After a few months of feeling some freedom I received a shock. As I opened my bedroom door to go to the toilet in the early hours of the morning, in front of me laid a pile of opened bank statements. With it read a note in his hand-writing,

“Why do you hide things from me? When did you do this?”

I was numb. He had been collecting my mail and reading it. He knew again what I was earning and now I had to deal with giving him an explanation to why I cannot trust him. An explanation I wouldn’t ever win. I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

Morning came and I dreaded leaving my room. I could hear his heavy footsteps downstairs, the classical music booming in the kitchen. I braved it and went to talk. He was clearly angry and didn’t wait long to explode.

“You’re disgusting! Don’t talk to me!” soared out of his abusive mouth.

I tried to defend myself, I don’t anymore.

“You only ever think of yourself. Nobody else matters! I try to look after you but you don’t care. You are so selfish!”

By this time, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I had zoned out.

He continued to shout abuse at me. I would look outside and try to breathe the fresh air when all I could feel was his heavy breath on my tired face.

I walked away with no answers. I only knew to keep quiet and pray I get to my post before him.

Extract from chapter 6 – MONEY.

My father was always obsessed with outward appearance. If you do not look well presented, people will not respect you. Something he often said and perhaps there is a level of truth in that. But he would always take this to an extreme. It wasn’t really about aesthetics, more so about how he was perceived, how I was perceived and whether I was bringing any shame on him.

Money was incredibly important to him. Not only did he use it to control people but he enjoyed the way having a lot of it made him feel. He didn’t descend from a wealthy family, instead he worked hard to get a good job and provide for us. Well that’s what my mother initially thought.

His income was high as we grew up and we did enjoy what seemed to be a comfortable lifestyle. We lived in a large house in a nice part of North London. We had a good car (later he had a company car, something else to show off). We went on holidays, sometimes in the U.K and occasionally abroad, often travelling around Europe. Life appeared to be good.

He liked to spend his money on what people could see. The inside of our house was quite basic growing up. He rarely updated furniture, only getting a new kitchen when an extension was done. We had the same T.V for years and a tatty sofa set that was worn out. The inside of the house fell under my mother’s responsibilities as something she should keep looking nice, it wasn’t up to him in his eyes.

Friends of the family would comment on what a smart man he looked. He became very respected just by dressing well and clearly having the means to live a more decadent life. I did become caught up in the money whirlwind. Throughout the divorce it was thrown at me and as a child he’d give me whatever I asked for. As a teenager I loved it and used it. My mother and my sister labelled me materialistic too. But those few hours spent roaming the shops until I returned home to the screams of my parents was my only peace.