Dear Husband,

Dear David,

It took me two years into our relationship for me to truly open up and reveal to you the extent of abuse and problems my father was causing me. 

When I met you in 2008, the abuse was at it’s peak. My father was controlling almost every aspect of my life. My failed relationships over the years with men were a constant source of humiliation for me as my father used the fact that I was “unloved” as a target to destroy and wound. 

I was in my element when we met. Happier than ever. Almost elated. I hadn’t learned to grasp nor control my emotions with men, almost giving too much away immediately. I just longed affection. You were the easiest boyfriend I ever had. I could talk to you about everything. Well, almost everything. I was not ready to reveal the darkest secret of my life just yet.

In 2009, when I had completely fallen for you, I found myself strangely drifting away from you too. I became anxious, worrying that you were with me for the wrong reasons. My father often told me you must be using me, he said he didn’t understand what of me would interest such a smart man. I know we were different but I never thought you felt that way too. It came as a shock David to say the least, the day you sat me down and told me you thought we weren’t compatible. 

It broke my heart.

The words and critiques that fell so freely out of your mouth destroyed me. You knew a little of my father. You had witnessed his behaviour but you turned a blind eye. It didn’t seem to bother you. I was the girl you supposedly loved, yet his anger for me just washed over you. Did you think I deserved it?

You said you did not want to break up. Neither did I but you left me confused. The trust had been broken. I had been deluded, thinking our relationship was fine when really we were crumbling apart. For the next seven months I would walk on eggshells in your company and around my father too. Trying to impress you and please the both of you. 

It came to a head early 2010. I ended it. I was angry but I refused to allow a man to treat that way. I actually felt happy. Happy that I cared about myself enough to put a stop to it. You didn’t seem to care which shocked me. I thought you were better than that. Soon I realised I had wounded your male pride and your actions were clearly a result of that.

Apologies followed and you were quick to admit fault.

I was not used to that. A man apologising, not forcing the blame onto me. It was new, refreshing. You asked to see me.

I accepted.

That morning was the start of a new beginning for us. Our hearts truly opened that day and looking back it is the best thing that ever happened to us. 

I do not regret the troubles we have had. I just wish I hadn’t run from my truths and faced them earlier with you. I know you would have been there. Both of us were frightened of emotional intimacy for very different reasons.

But we are not afraid now.

I know I can ask and tell you anything now darling. 

Thank you.

Love Ros x

 

Love & authority.

4th November 2010: Phone call 9.30pm, diary entry –

Told me he was too angry to talk to me all week. Told me not to speak when he spoke nor to contradict him (not allowed an opinion). Continued by saying I have tortured him. For thirteen years, since the divorce, I have tortured him. Said I was “different”, “lovely” before the divorce then I suddenly transformed after it. Blames all my behaviour on my mother and my sister saying they “brainwashed” me throughout the divorce. Actually, we barely spoke to each other back then. He was the one doing the brainwashing! Told me he has suffered for thirteen years with my behaviour. Hundreds of episodes like last week.

I’m disrespectful.

“A father’s job is to love and have authority over his daughter,” he said to me with every belief in his absurd and worrying words.

Last week, I had NO right to ask him for respect. It was not my place. I am the child. At twenty eight, I am the child. A daughter cannot demand that. I have no right to want politeness from him let alone ask for it. Told me he cannot “go on like this”.

No Daddy. We can’t.

Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.
Leonardo da Vinci

Before I was born.

From what I hear, this was a decent time for the rest of my family. Although my parents did not have the best relationship, their hatred was not as magnified as it later became. My sister has fond memories of this time; the eight years before I was born.

The family took holidays together and spent time socialising, it seemed happier. That’s not to say there were not problems. My father was incredibly abusive to my mother behind closed doors and bang in front of open ones too. My sister was definitely a witness to the fights and abuse. Overall however, it was nothing like it would become.

My mother’s desperation for a second child was the catalyst in ripping the family apart. My father did not want me, he made that very clear to her but she longed for another baby. This obvious desperation only exaggerated his despise for her, he hated weakness in people. What’s a natural feeling for a woman was a weakness to him. He would never understand that feeling, a want to love, a longing to pour love into someone.

To give love, you need to feel love.

Eight years is a big gap between siblings. My mother was pregnant before having me but sadly lost her previous babies. He wasn’t there to support her through that. Instead he berated her and used it as another way to criticise her. He was moody and implied to her that he was not responsible for the loss of her child. He was that much of a narcissist that it had to be all about him! His love for her had faded and there was no respect. Within days of returning from the hospital my father was giving my mother demands. The want for a second child only amplified.

As my mother edged towards her 40th birthday her second daughter was born three weeks early.

He seemed happy – at least for a while.

Am I passive?

One word.

Yes.

I could easily describe myself as passive.

My mother disagrees after looking through a list of passive behaviours I was given at the course. Certain words that I had highlighted, she negated. I circled “subservient”. She totally disagreed. In all honesty, I have elements of this quality and do not demonstrate or believe I possess it all of the time. However, in the past, it definitely played a strong role in my life. Do I feel that is is easier to agree with people? Yes. I do. The want to have an easy life, a less stressful life, has left me sitting back, being passive and watching others take control of their lives. It’s left me feeling jealous and tired at the monotony of my own.

Once upon a time, I would never have described myself as subservient. Even living with the abuser did not make me feel like that. I fought against it. But as the years have gone by, my reality has changed and I have been left with a life I am not entirely happy with. 

I am indecisive especially when it comes to making requests. I plan in my head what I need to say or what I want to do but saying it out loud is another story. I feel nervous and as though I am putting the other person out. I am expecting criticism and fault finding within myself. I constantly criticise myself. It’s no wonder I expect it from others too. That’s not to say that I want it. I don’t. 

I put myself down. A lot. 

A key sign of passive behaviour. I do not respect myself enough, regularly finding fault in my body image and appearance. I am the person who hears my complaints the most. I do not want to seem aggressive or attention-seeking. I do not put myself first or value who I am. I wish I could.

I run from confrontation. I fear it. It is no surprise after enduring hell with the abuser. I can’t stand it at work or home.

Am I passive?

Yes I am. Some of the qualities will stay I’m sure but I am making a change to the others. I want to like myself and feel good about myself. I want to feel self-value and respect and be able to stand up for myself in challenging situations. I do not want to play the victim or agree to everything for an easier life.

It’s time to change.

3. Don’t patronise me Dad.

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

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

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

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

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

Respect he always said I never deserved.