The photo that broke a billion hearts.

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/no_more_drownings_loc/?ceTXJjb

Is a link to a petition to sign and prevent any more beautiful innocent children and babies from drowning with their families for a want of a better life. My days will be haunted for a long time after seeing little Aylan Kurdi’s body, laying lifelessly at the edge of the sea. As a mother, a woman and a member of this human race, it kills me to see these beautiful children losing their precious lives when we as a nation could be helping, protecting and even saving them.

Right now, I am ashamed of Britain. Our doors aren’t as open as other parts of Europe and I hang my head down low. I hope you all sign this and support the cause.

Rest in peace little ones. xxx

Aylan Kurdi and his brother Galip in photo provided by the Kurdi family.

Aylan and his brother in happier times

(photo courtesy of Reuters/Guardian)

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A new low for self image.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25962930

Just look a this. It’s a sad portrayal of what women in Venezuela have to endure to be accepted and valued. Women, who are beautiful in their own right, are being made to feel worthless by a man. Mmmm, that is not an unfamiliar feeling for me. However, this man should know better but he uses his power to degrade and criticise naturally beautiful women to make them change and alter their looks to the extreme.

This programme (shown last night on the BBC in Britain) tells the story of several Venezuelan women on their quest to be crowned Miss Venezuela. It intensely worries me that women are encouraged to amend their appearance from such an early age. Many of these women are ‘persuaded’ to have breast enlargements, nose jobs, liposuction and even (and more disturbingly) have a ‘mesh’ sewn onto their tongue to stop them from eating solids. It’s ludicrous!

Women everywhere are fighting to be heard, we are fighting to be respected. Our natural beauty should be praised not judged. I suffer from low self-esteem, I have many insecurities about my appearance. I can’t imagine living like that. In a society where my body, my face, my beauty is constantly monitored and criticised. A world where ambition is fading and women are seen to have no real purpose, other than to be “beautiful”.

We were never meant to all look the same. We should be nurturing individuality not distinguishing it.

Say it together.

We are beautiful girls.

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Just as we are.

Ros xx

Self-indulgent Bullshit.

Luckily on WordPress there are filters. Thankfully – there are filters. Unfortunately, you may attract some haters, people that are looking to make a point, to insult and patronise. People who believe they know what counts as “abuse”, that it is as black and white as being slapped across the face. Well it isn’t. I may have not suffered physical violence. I may not have been slapped across the face. However, unless you yourself has suffered from abuse, you cannot dare to comment on what I have been through. To the rude man who decided to comment on my last post, my life, my past is just that. It is mine. If you do not agree with it then do not read it. I am not playing a victim. I do not want that label. I set out on my own journey last year and I do not have to justify it to you – a total stranger. You clearly have no idea what emotional abuse is.

My photos are only a small element of my past. I am not ungrateful for having a life. Everyone is ‘allowed’ to look back. I do not compare myself to anyone else. I am not belittling other’s abuse nor am I expecting anyone’s sympathy or “pity” as you so kindly say. Other survivors on WordPress have been incredibly supportive. They (having experienced it themselves) understand. They can see through the darkness. YOU however, will remain hidden from the light in your miserable little world, looking for someone to attack and criticise for your own personal gain.

Perhaps you have been abused yourself. I hope not. I do not wish that on anyone.

My photos are a part of my old life. My “basic human right” was to eat, not to have a cooker. Clearly that needed to be spelled out to you. Of course food is a human right and obviously there are many people in this world who cannot access that. I am not comparing myself to them. I am born and bred in the Western world. My life would always have been different to theirs abuse or no abuse.

My father had a history of abuse. He terrorised my mother for thirty years. He was a very generous man, so generous that not only did he emotionally abuse her, he battered her too! The man was clever, he learnt his lessons, he never touched me. How lucky for me (!) You are a weak human being. A troll. You do not know me yet you feel free to, behind your computer shielded from view, manipulate my words and condemn my truth. Good luck on your quest to break someone. You haven’t succeeded here.

Now tell me WordPress readers, from the rudeness of this stranger:

Am I “undermining the voices of the real victims of abuse”?

Oh and cheers for your bright and breezy comment that my life is “self-indulgent bullshit”. You really are a pleasant man.

We appreciate frankness from those who like us. Frankness from others is called insolence.
Andre Maurois

Photo 6 – How am I not dead?

At the end of 2013, I began a photographic story showing the state of the home I lived in with my father. I received many responses to these pictures. Mostly reactions of horror from people I know, who never really knew the extent of the conditions we lived in. They had never been witness to it. My father was very clever at disguising certain parts of the house and his dangerous eccentricities and careless nature were always well hidden. Friends and family were only allowed in the showy and presentable parts of the house. I however, saw the truth every day.

The kitchen was one of the worse rooms. It also happened to be the largest room in the house much to my father’s happiness (he saw it as his domain). Guests who visited always commented on how big it was; he loved that. But what if they had looked closer? Would they have seen the dirty and crumb filled toaster from,

(See My filthy life – Photo 3)

would they have stepped into our adjoining garage and discovered his hoarding obsession?

(See My father the hoarder – Photo 2)

Would they have walked around and seen the state of the cooker? A piece of kitchen equipment that I used every day living at home with my father. An appliance that I could not do without. An essential aid to making my life as normal as possible, something that would bring me sustenance and provide me with a basic human right. But what if that appliance was spoiled, unhygienic, unsanitary and rank? What if you were forced to use a machine that hadn’t been cleaned for ten years? It was another task my father had placed in my list of chores to do. A list that went up to eighty four. A mental list that I never lost count of and never completed. My father refused to help in any way. It was not his job. It was MY fault it got into that state and MY responsibility to resolve the tainted problem. Except it was too much for me. He gained so much enjoyment watching me on my hands and knees scrubbing his precious kitchen. I could not stand the humiliation and fearing the examination of my work after.

Why did I ever let myself live like this?

I mean, how am I not dead?

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Dictionary.com

un·san·i·tar·y

[uhn-san-i-ter-ee]  Show IPA

adjective

not sanitary; unhealthy or unhealthful; tending to harbor or spreaddisease: unsanitary living conditions.

Boxing Day revelations.

I mentioned in my last post that my mother had seemed out of sorts on Christmas day and that on Boxing day, her reasons were very much revealed.

It was what I had predicted.

A few days before Christmas, my mother received an envelope in the post. The label had been printed on so it was not clear who it was from. My mother however, instantly knew. I had no idea this envelope had arrived. My mother had kept it out of my sight. I hate secrets so was frustrated to find out she had deliberately hidden it from me. I understand why though. It would’ve played on my mind all Christmas if she had revealed it earlier.

On Boxing Day as my mother chatted about how my she missed her sister’s daughter’s child that she had spent so much time with in India, I began talking about my nephew – my sister’s son and how much I miss him. Memories filled my mind, memories of him as a baby, drooling and smiling at me. He was beautiful. He was kept from me and I have barely seen him in the last four years. My sister has taken away that basic right and for no clear reason. Her anger and hatred for my mother four years ago grew into immense anger and hatred for me. I was getting closer to Ma. I was trying to get as far away from my father. She was always my mother too. Why I had to “compete” for her affection I’ll never know. A mother’s love should be unconditional. As should a father. But my father held conditions on his love. Conditions and expectations that I could never reach. Only one person met his expectations – my sister.

“Something came you know,” uttered my mother as she listened to me reminisce.

My heart dropped. I understood immediately what she meant.

“Well let me see it,” I needed to see it.

She brought out the envelope and handed it to me explaining that it arrived a few days back. I was horrified that this had been a secret. That she kept it private. I no longer want to be kept in the dark, to be the last person to discover shocks and be told that I have to accept them.

As I opened it, a card fell out. Within that card lay several photos of my nephew and the niece I have only ever seen once (at my father’s hospital bed where my sister told him that her daughter “does not go to strangers” as he handed my niece to me). I couldn’t believe my eyes at how much he had grown. It was beautiful and devastating at the same time. I tried not to let my emotion show. As I looked at the card I saw my sister’s handwriting. Her words were affectionate towards my mother. To a stranger’s eyes you would believe that this mother and daughter had a lovely relationship; close even. That of course is not the case. My mother and sister are strangers too. My sister estranged herself four years ago from my mother. She sent an appalling letter documenting lies about her. Lies that my mother accepted.

Was it an olive branch? Was she reaching out? Maybe. I won’t be too negative. Perhaps she genuinely wants her mother back in her life. There is no way that I would stand in the way of that but why be so distant and ignore her for the past four years. At my father’s funeral last year, my sister blanked my mother. Her husband ignored the both of us. That is not the behaviour of a person who wants to make amends.

I am suspicious. I have every right to be.

I have warned my mother that I cannot go through it all again. In 2004, at the end of the year my sister got married, something changed in her. Anger consumed her and it became increasingly difficult to say the right thing around her. I especially grated on her. She will forever look at me as a teenager. A view that is distorted. That opinion will never change. She holds no respect for me as an adult or a woman. The few years that followed were an emotional nightmare. My mother attempted to bend and bow to my sister’s commands but she never met her expectations. Sounds familiar right? So my sister eventually cut her out of her life and within a year or so, she had walked straight back into my abuser’s life.

My father’s prodigal daughter had returned.

She is my mother’s prodigal daughter too. I worry and fear for the future. I can never match their relationship. I have no longing to. Their relationship was unhealthy and suffocating. I do not want that to happen to our relationship.

I had hoped 2014 would be a new start. Where the past would not return and I could move forward.

Now I’m not so sure.

With nowhere to run – Photo 5.

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Train tracks ran behind my father’s house, often a tube train would stop and linger by our back garden. This is the view from the back of my old house. It looks onto nothing. Only an endless train line. There was never an escape. Certainly not from the back of the house. I often contemplating running into my neighbour’s garden as he chased me down the stairs. I imagined myself climbing over the rickety fence and trespassing for those few seconds before reaching freedom. He probably would have caught me anyway. He would have followed me down the street. I had run before. In the dark, late at night. He came after me in the car. He always tracked me down. I was too frightened to fight further. I never got very far. He would coax me into his car with a sorry voice only to condemn me as soon as I had sat down.

The garden was not a sanctuary for me. Instead a place where I went to breathe. I felt so trapped with him. I always needed air. After our heated arguments, it seemed like the best place to go. He rarely followed me out. He worried that a neighbour might appear and see him for his true nature. However, he often lingered at the back door muttering obscenities at me. A tube slowly came to a halt one day as I paced across the grass after one of our heated arguments. My father had lost it. He was waving and shouting and gritting his teeth at me from the safety of the kitchen door. He was ordering me to come back inside. I wasn’t about to. That would not be safe for me. I would be walking into his trap. I knew that I needed to get to my bedroom somehow; I felt safe there. Eventually, he would give up and I could escape but until then the garden was the wisest place to be.

As the train waited for a signal to change, I caught the eye of a few passengers. It would have been clear to them that we were fighting. They were so close to us. A woman seemed to move seats to get a closer look. I was surprised that this was gaining so much interest, that my hell had turned into a drama for these passengers to study and watch with anticipation. Another man turned to his friend and pointed directly at me. I stared at them as tears poured from my eyes. Could they see my tears? What were they thinking? I did not want to feel violated any longer.

I circled round, ready to make my move but found my abuser blocking my way, standing firmly in my path. I went to walk past him but he would not budge. He stared at me. He stared at me with so much hate. He told me I was not welcome inside. That I “needed to calm down” and that he would be shutting the door. I answered back. At twenty four I felt I had the right to do so. Of course, he felt differently and as the train pulled away, my father launched into another verbal attack.

In his tirade, he moved just slightly away from the back door. I saw my chance and sprinted to my bedroom.

“BABITAGO!!!” he yelled from below.

I could hear the clamour of his heavy footsteps and the doors being flung against the wall as he ran after me. I made it, with time to spare. The door was locked and the bed was pushed against it. He banged his hands upon my door making it vibrate on impact. I, like a little child, pulled the covers so far over me as I lay in my bed. I took out my headphones and turned on my music to drown out the insults he began firing at me from outside. His voice could still be heard as the music played but I just focussed on what I was listening to and slowly felt myself relax.

He was not going to break me.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Khalil Gibran

I had to be strong.

Your face sickens me.

Whilst flicking through my wedding album on the weekend, I came across a photo of my father with my husband. An innocent photo, a pleasant one even but nonetheless, it was one that caused an immediate reaction from me. My mother was taken aback by my display. Without control or realisation, I burst into tears, feeling sick from the image I was staring at. I instantaneously covered his face with my hand and tried to focus on something else. 

“It’s just a photo!” flew from my mother’s lips. She could not believe he was still able to provoke this emotion in me. But it was more than that to me. It was a reminder of the feelings I had on my wedding day. When I should have been thrilled and excited, I was cagey and fraught. The notion and fact that he was at my wedding completely ruined my day. He had caused so much trouble in the months leading up to it that he never should have been invited but there was many other opinions flying around and plenty of judgement targeted at me, the unkind and selfish daughter.

Looking at him just brought it all back and now, there he is, embedded in my album, etched into the page and I cannot remove him. 

Dramatic? Ridiculous?

I never expected to react that way especially to a simple photo.