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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Chapter 2, Part 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Incest.

I have dedicated an entire chapter of my book to this subject.

It was a term I discovered about two years ago at a counselling session. I had never heard of it before then. I researched it on the internet and was referred by an American columnist to read a book devoted to the subject*.

It was very revealing to say the least. I wished I had found out about it sooner. I realised my relationship with my father centred around emotional incest.

After my mother left, my father needed a replacement. In all honesty he had replaced his emotional connection much earlier as he regularly vented his problems to me. But when my mother was out of the picture, I was the source for his complaints about life.

He had no close friends or normal relationships with other adults. He felt he did not need that; he had me. I filled that void.

His controlling ways had just switched from my mother to me. He used emotion to play on my feelings. He was the “lonely betrayed man”, abandoned by his wife and daughter. Initially, I was the only one who made him happy. I gave him a reason to live. He would often repeat this to me during the divorce; it’s no wonder I felt swayed to live with him.

This is emotional incest. Using a child to fulfil adult, emotional needs.

He was needy and clingy with me. I was not allowed freedom away from him. I had to keep him happy and feeling good. If not, I was the reason he was upset or depressed. I hadn’t met his needs.

I was the “chosen child”. I was hand picked by him to have the privilege to be his confidante. He told me I gave him more than his wife ever did. I gave him “comfort”. He would tell me to never leave him; when I got married he would build a separate flat within the house I could live there with my husband; no mortgage, nothing.

I felt invaded by him. It was like an obsession.

It is incredibly hard to recognise when it is going on, but please, if you want to find out more, the book* I read was:

“The Emotional Incest Syndrome; What to Do When a Parent’s Love Rules Your Life” by Dr. Patricia Love.

It is absolutely worth looking into if only to feed your curiosity.

And of course – keep reading the blog.