Two steps forward……no steps back.

In light of what I posted last week, I feel there is a need to for me to respond to some of the commentators who have chosen to berate my decision to write these last few posts concerning my marriage. A critic deemed me to be very “me me me”. Well that could not be further from the case. In my post ‘Drawing a line for now’, I talk of how my husband and I are trying to move on from the trauma of this past year.

The month is now July and I have written the second part of my marriage’s breakdown after six or so weeks break. There is a reason for this. My husband and I have been moving on – together.

We are not in denial; things have been at their worst this year and in all the time where the two of us suffered in silence, neither felt the confidence to talk to our friends. When the time reached a point where I needed to confide in a friend, the person, through no fault of their own, defended and supported my husband. That threw me somewhat as I needed an ear to listen to me and feel the pain that I was going through. If that is selfish then so be it. Don’t we all want and expect friends to take our sides before our husband’s/wife’s?

I am no way comparing my husband’s behaviour to that of my abusive father. That would be absurd! However, during the worst of this year, I came very close to feeling the same way my father used to make me feel – small, alone, worthless. As a new mum, these are not feelings you want to feel especially when you are tackling so many other emotions too.

Although I may not vent to all my friends the ones I do talk to never judge what I’m going through as that would negate what a friend does. I am lucky to have found many ‘friends’ on WordPress too, people that too are going through similar things and don’t compare my problems (however trivial they may seem) to others’. Thank God. Yet, here I am, justifying to the world, justifying to my critics. I can see how my last two posts have been presented but I am unsure of what you expect from a personal blog about someone’s life…….

Baring in mind that I have only ever blogged good things about my husband, loving things, I think it’s pretty clear that this bump has been pretty serious in terms of our relationship’s solidity.

As for me “airing my dirty laundry” or “humiliating my husband”? Well, I am doing neither.

My husband knows me inside out, to him I am a blank canvas, open and honest. There was a time where I never opened up to him, my lack of intimacy and his lack of communication led to our break up in 2010. From that moment on, we both promised to be open with each other. Just because we have crumbled somewhat, does not mean the honesty has not stopped.

The incidents that have happened and that I write about are upsetting yes. They are upsetting for my husband as he has to relive the mistakes he has made. He is left knowing that his faults and actions are immortalised on a site for the world to see, he has to deal with the fact that the wife he loves so much has seemingly taken some sort of revenge on him……that is what many are saying to me right?

Well, yes, that would be true if my husband wasn’t the one who told me to do this. That would all make sense if my loving husband, who is desperate for our marriage to work, hadn’t encouraged me to be honest in the one place I feel free to be myself. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I love my husband. I just miss the man he was. Writing these things may make me seem like the baddie but I think it’s unfair to say one should not talk about their life on a personal blog. Your bitter words are not comments I “welcome” (!) What an absurd thing to say. I welcome supportive, understanding comments. I am not looking for someone (who does not know me) to analytically attempt to dissect my life and personality and to do it with such hatred and aggression.

Telling me to put my husband first before myself is a most ignorant and ridiculous statement. If there wasn’t a baby in the mix then perhaps that would be an option but at a time where I should have been spending all my energy nurturing my little one, I was spending all my energy trying to save my husband from falling into a pit of despair. I spent every day worrying about him, panicking, fretting. I put everything about myself to one side so do not tell me to consider his feelings. Then to make the bizarre comment that I should write a blog about all the wonderful things my hubby has done for me actually made me giggle. Thanks for that. What a strange thing to say to someone.

You critics do not know my life. You do not know who I am and what makes me human. Just because I have chosen wordpress as an outlet to vent does not make me a bad person. Selfish as it may be, it gives me a voice. Nobody has to read it. I do not look for sympathy, not at all. Just an ear or two to bend. To the commentator who said he “touched a raw nerve”………duh! I think that was possibly your intention in the first place. After all, when I responded, you took it upon yourself to make a rather personal attack. Funny that.

From my first few posts about my marriage breakdown came some concerned wishes and questions from friend’s of my husband. None of them knew what was happening between us as neither of us revealed anything for months. We had always portrayed a happy existence. They never would have known anything was wrong if I had not posted on this blog (and many of you critics would argue that was for the best), yet as a result of it, many got in contact with D, voicing support and love for him, for us. My husband would never have contacted them. I tried so hard to get him to call his close friends but he had gone too far into his isolated world. For them to reach out to him has changed everything and my husband will be the first to tell you that.

If I didn’t care about my husband, why would I have called one of his oldest friends in tears, begging him for help? Because I’m selfish? Why would I have shown so much concern for the man who was once my best friend? I want my best friend back and I know one day, he’ll reappear.

It’s funny, when I first wrote of my father (and again, I am not comparing my husband to him), many critics let out a roar that I was shaming my family, humiliating and tarnishing my late father’s name and that I was incredibly selfish for doing so. I was told to move on in my life and that it is “all in the past”. Eventually, the comments and disapproval faded when people read about the kind of life I led with him and torrent of abuse I endured. Some voices never stopped criticising though and clearly that’ll be the case here.

In terms of depression and although I should not have to explain myself, I will. My husband is haunted with many issues from his past, as many of us do. Last year, with all the drama, he hit a wall. He found himself falling deeper into a world he had left a long time ago. I watched it happen. He and I both had elements of the ‘baby blues’ each showing signs in different ways. Depression? No, we have recently discovered that. A deep fear of failing? Yes a terrible fear. By taking CBT he worked through this fear and I am immensely proud of him. I do not need to tell anyone that but him that and I do, ALL the time. Why? Because I love him, very much and I want him to know he is a good, good man.

Even the best men can be bad. They can fail. They can make the worst mistakes. We all can. I should not have to say any of this and it should be a given but clearly some people need this spelling out.

I wrote in May that I would be revealing how my marriage broke down. It was a decision made by both me AND my husband. He is a follower of my blog so if you don’t believe it why an earth would I write something behind his back knowing he’s going to read it anyway!

I am in no disbelief that there are victims, people out there living terrible lives, going through such unbearable abuse and pain every day that there is often no way out. Someone, in 2014, told me that I wrote “self-indulgent bullshit” when I spoke of the abuse I endured from my father. They also said that I should think about the people living worse lives than me. That my abuse was incomparable to them. If you go to any abuse charity they will tell you, any abuse is abuse – emotional, sexual, domestic, physical – one cannot compete with the other for what you are going through is wrong. We are all individuals after all and deal with things very differently. Perhaps you critics out there are harder than me.

It is deliberately hurtful to tell someone that others are suffering more than you. You have no idea of the inner details of my life, my marriage, my family. I tell the world on wordpress as much as I can say. There are many, many horrible things about my father to tell and I can’t say I’ll ever have the courage to reveal it and yes, there are many things that have happened in my relationships too and for my husband’s sake, my daughter’s and mine, I do not reveal them either for a very different reason.

This is the last time I will ever justify myself for writing this blog.

My husband and I are heading in a very different and happier direction than we were several months ago. We are moving forward and are making conscious steps to heal our broken marriage. We are more honest, affectionate, caring, understanding and even with all these efforts we see that it is a long road ahead for us. We are realistic. Maybe relationships are all sunshine and smiles for you but you are living in a very strange world if that is the case. I am happy that my husband and I are finally on the same page and wish that we find a path we are both happy to follow with or without each other.

I feel like when people judge me they’re not judging me, because they don’t know who I am.

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My father the hoarder – Photo 2.

The garage: a place he kept all the things that could not fit in anywhere else. I hated it. It never had a purpose, it was just a dirty storage unit for my father. When I was growing up, the garage was filled with garden equipment, old suitcases, our childhood bikes, ladders and occasional cleaning products. It was kept just like a garage should be. When my mother left, it’s purpose became unclear and my father began using it as a dumping ground. Old chairs began to surface as did other furniture we had stopped using. He started collecting crates of wine and endless bottles of beer there. Several sets of garden furniture appeared over the years, just in case he ran out during his BBQs for his “friends”. His hoarding was growing out of control. Worst of all, this space one day became my father’s gym. He bought a rowing machine and exercise bike and placed them into the already cramped area. I kept well away. No one ever entered the garage except him. That was until he started using it as an airing room. The damp, mouldy garage became the place he hung his clothes to be aired. When my father decided that he wanted entire control over every aspect of my life and began washing my clothes,* the garage was the place to let them dry. As he had been tirelessly looking after me, it was then my “job” to make sure all the clothes were hanged up on the washing lines he had now attached to the garage ceiling. ALL the clothes. Including his underwear. I refused of course. I would not attach mine either, he hated my insolence but nothing was going to let me degrade myself any further. He just laughed at me reiterating how ridiculous I was being and to “grow up and take responsibility”. I stood my ground, I already felt belittled enough.
I dreaded Sundays.
The day of “rest”. Well, it wasn’t for me. It was the day my father would do the few chores he set for himself. It was the day of “inspection” where my father would check on my cleaning and tidying. It was the day where I would often find piles of my “mess” the abuser had discovered strewn and scattered all over the house. It was my day to hang up the laundry and enter the disgusting garage. Sunday was the day I hated, when my father would follow me in and watch to see if I was doing it correctly otherwise it would all be taken down and done again. This time as he waited.

*See post: The right to wash my own clothes –  Published 2nd April 2013

 

Through the eyes of a teenager.

I have been doing some Sunday reading today. Mostly my old diaries from 1999 onwards. A blast from the past? Not really, more like a painful hit of memories. I did spend most of my morning cringing however after reading my “boy troubles” and the desperate want for a boyfriend. Thankfully, those issues do not exist any more. A few pages in each diary caught my eye. In my first journal, I wrote something on the 22 December 1999, aged seventeen,

It’s 2.40 something in the morning. This is now noted down in history as the worst Christmas ever. I’ve had a major argument with my bastard father which resulted in him telling me that he will no longer pay my drama school tuition fees and that I won’t “get a penny”, that I am to move out the following morning and that he never wants to see me again. Well Merry Christmas to you too.

I hate my father. No, I despise him. He doesn’t have a clue how to be a parent. I miss my mum. I can’t even stay at hers, my shitty sister is too “stressed” she says. Well bollocks to her. All I know is that I can’t handle this shit any more. I don’t know what I’ll do. 

Another entry said,

My dad is the devil. I HATE him with passion. He asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I asked for a trip away with my friends. Then, he proceeded to tell me how irresponsible and untrustworthy I am. Why did you ask me what I wanted if you are going to put me down for the rest of the night because of it? Bastard. 

In a different entry in November 2003 I speak about my mother:

My mum’s gone to India. She flew out last week. I REALLY miss her. She doesn’t know that I am ill right now. I won’t tell her. I’ll call her when I’m better, otherwise she’ll start to panic and worry when she hears me. Anyway, I’m not wheezing so I can’t be that ill. She had loads of trouble getting there so I’m glad she’s okay now. She comes back in February. I cannot believe how long that is!

On the 12th December that same year I wrote,

I spoke to Ma. I miss her. I hate being here with the ‘devil’. He’s making me hoover the entire house tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll be checking if I’m doing it right too. He is constantly telling me I do nothing around the house and he does everything. He’s driving me crazy. I feel so angry and I have absolutely no way of venting it. All this anger and bitterness is building up inside of me and all I want to do is scream. I’ve not been allowed to get angry for the last six years. I’m like a volcano waiting to erupt. When I finally do get angry, I usually end up taking it out on Ma which is so wrong as it is nothing to do with her. HE doesn’t let me get angry. HE wants me to be emotionless. ME. The girl who cries all the time! It’s depressing. I hate this so much right now.

It is quite hard to look back on the past. One thing I have discovered is the way I have always felt about my mother. It has never changed. Although my sister convinced her otherwise, my love for my mum has never faltered. Even during the worst of times, when my loyalty was to my father, I thought about her every day. During the abuse, she was constantly in my mind. I am thankful for that love I felt. I think it saw me through. Without her love, I would’ve been totally alone.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

2. If I could do it all again.

The title of a poem I discovered.

A poem that was dated, 28/08/00. I was eighteen years of age. Proof that the unhappiness inside of me was growing and that my despair was beginning to get a release. It may not be the most complicated of poems but the innocence is clear.

If I could do it all again

I’d be someone else

get a chance

forget the past and live properly

with excitement round every corner,

opportunities through every window.

I’d remain a mystery.

Be happy.

Be loved.

Wish every day and never stop dreaming,

always dream.

Be wild.

I’d go crazy with no cares

Put myself first yet still think of others

Sing. Dance. Be happy.

Every day would be a new day, a fresh start.

An opening to a new world.

Life would be worth it,

worth the struggles, the hassles,

worth the pain.

Happiness would shine through

Happiness would win.

All it does is confirm how positive I kept myself through the misery. I had no one to turn to at 18. My mother and sister still had their bond and still looked down at me. My father was in the depths of his abuse, becoming more intolerant of me and growing with hatred towards his daughter. Yet this poem talks of happiness and hope.

Where did I lose the positivity? When did I lose the love for myself?

My father destroyed all the good feelings I had. And I hate him for that.