Dear Teachers.

Dear Teachers,

In the five years I spent at your school, I can honestly say that I am not entirely sure how I came out of it so sane. I was sent to you after my prodigal sister. I am aware (by my parents) that I did not do exceptionally well in my entrance test and certainly not as well as my sister, who came in on a scholarship. However, my grades (or lack of them) did not matter to you. I was my sister’s sister. I had to be good…………right?

But I wasn’t.

I was me. Not her. Yet that was never celebrated.

The first two years of high school, I slipped under the radar. I did okay, I went by unnoticed as did my grades. I excelled in the subjects I thought I would: Drama, Art, Music and English. The complete opposite to her. I was not an academic to you all. I was never part of any social dramas nor did I take any leadership roles, it was easy to forget about me.

I remember when you did notice.

When my grades slipped too far, I became your target. Suddenly, the girl you’d forgotten became the most memorable of all. Especially when you remember who my sister was – your star student. The morning you took me for a walk around the school and down to the hall where the plaques hung showing your most prized pupils of past. Where my sister’s name shone and burned into me. The place where you pointed out what I should be achieving and that I “had a lot to live up to”.

What you didn’t question was why.

Why was this sweet, lively girl’s grades dropping?

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my childhood was falling apart. That my home-life was like a war zone. The year was 1996, I was fourteen years old, my mother had just applied for divorce and you decided to put me on report.

You close-minded, arrogant idiots.

The reputation of your school and the notoriety of your name was much more important that a young girl struggling to make sense of her family disintegrating before her eyes. You humiliated me by dragging in my parents to discuss my “future”. Who were you to predict that? While my mother already held me in low regard, you only fuelled her perception of me. I had further disappointed her and as you placed my sister on that righteous pedestal, her place in my mother’s eyes grew stronger. You played a very clear part in the destruction of our relationship and for that I will never forgive you.

There were no positives made. No redeeming features. Humiliation and bullying was your forte. I was lost and no one was reaching out to guide me. No one.

Perhaps, if you had spent more time concerned about the welfare of your students and their emotional well being, I would have better memories of you all.

Sadly, I don’t.

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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.

Back from a short hiatus.

I’ve been off WordPress for three days. A long time by any bloggers standards! I have not even been near a computer! Impressive. I have spent the last few days at my husband’s parents’ house for a family visit. Into the depths of Essex we went haha. It was a lovely little trip although not very productive as the rainy weather kept me indoors for the majority of the visit. The main highlight was seeing my nephew for the first time. Everyone who knows me knows my love for babies. He was as beautiful as I imagined and more. An ever so tranquil baby who was calm with anyone. A lovely start to the New Year I’d say.

On a slightly more “depressing” note – I go back to work on Monday! Cue miserable face. I hope it will be less stressful this term. I am going back as positive as possible and staying strong. Gone has to be the defeatist attitude otherwise there will be no progress. I’ll let you know how it goes on my first day back.

Have a good weekend guys!

2013 A review: July – September.

JULY

Summer had truly hit us in London by July. Scorching temperatures reigned over the city and finally the harsh winter had been beaten.

At the start of the month, I began recalling a series of events, linked to the exact date one year ago, that looked back on the journey towards the end of the abuse once and for all. It was a painful task. Remembering is one thing but looking back in detail, searching through old text messages and diary entries was hard. It transported me back to a terrible, stressful and bitter summer. The summer after my wedding. The summer my father, the abuser, died.

It was the month that my husband and I were told that our landlord wanted to sell the property we were renting. It came as a surprise as there had not been much of a warning. It was the last thing we needed. We were very settled where we were living. It was in an ideal location for both of us to get to work, there were plenty of shops and amenities around too. It was not ideal to move. I couldn’t bear the thought of moving into some dingy, poky apartment in a rush because we hadn’t enough time to search for somewhere decent. We made a decision. It would be a difficult one, a tiring and patience testing one but ultimately we were thankful she was willing to have us. My mother was our port of call. She agreed the sensible choice would be to live with her until my father’s inheritance was finalised and we could look for a new place.

July would be a very revealing month for me. Although I already knew my sister had begun a “secret” relationship with the abuser, I was not aware of how close they had become. After everything my sister had once accused him of, after all that she had witnessed him do to our mother (not to mention the misery of a life I led with him), I had not expected her to welcome him with open arms into her family unit. A unit she has been fiercely protective of for so many years. A family that she has banned me and any mother from seeing. Apparently, we are bad news, the cause of her depression and misery, the evil ones. Not our father. Not the man who abused me for fifteen years but the two people who spent most of their lives trying to escape his frightening hold. In her eyes, we were the enemy. I found out at the start of July that my father had planned a holiday with my sister, her husband and children. He could not go in the end due to his worsening health. I was flabbergasted. Horrified. The man that my sister could not bear to be in the same room as was now holidaying with her?? It blew my mind.

At work, I finished with a bang, holding our annual school talent show. It was a great success and the kids did me proud.

AUGUST

I continued to recall back to the events of last year on WordPress. I received several comments, mostly from friends who had no idea I was struggling so badly that summer. Even though the majority of them knew about my relationship with the abuser, most never questioned it. They never delved any further. It must have come as a shock to them to read the full truth.

I was well into my summer holidays at this point. The weather was unbelievable in London during August, we were very lucky to have so much sunshine. I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked to. I spent most of the holiday packing up our flat and surprising myself at how much rubbish we had accumulated over the past two years of living there. It was an endless and tiring job as my husband was at work for most of August. Even on moving day, when David’s parents had come to help, were we still putting items into bags and shipping them off to my mums’.

The end of the month would be very significant. On the 21st I celebrated the anniversary of my father’s death. I did not lay any flowers or sit down and pray. I did not shed a tear or think back to the “good times”. There were no good times. He was not worth my tears and I could not lay any flowers for I do not know what happened to his ashes. My sister only told me recently after a year of me badgering her, that after the funeral she had “picked them up”. So basically she gave me no more information than I had already assumed. I intend on letting her keep playing her childish game on her own.

As I prepared to go back to work, I was invited to a school reunion. Seeing my old primary school classmates after twenty years was incredibly uplifting. It was a wonderful experience and sent me back to a time of happiness. These people made me happy. It was lovely to be in their company again.

SEPTEMBER

Back to work!

I also began making some changes in my life. Some positive changes. I attended a course at City Lit on Assertiveness. It proved to be quite challenging. I enjoyed analysing myself and looking into types of behaviour. The course opened my mind as we explored passiveness, aggression, manipulation and assertiveness. It was very interesting to hold that magnifying glass up to myself and look more carefully at the person I had become. I am now trying to embody more assertiveness. My mother is the only person finding that difficult. For so long she was used to a passive daughter. A daughter who could not say “no” and agreed to almost everything in search for an “easy” life. Well no more. I have never had an easy life! It is time to get what I want and make a stand.

The Collins English Dictionary says – 

assertive 

Definitions

adjective – 

confident and direct in claiming one’s rights or putting forward one’s views

2013 A review: April – June.

APRIL

This month saw many entries on WordPress taken from old journals and diaries I had discovered from the abuser’s home. I looked back on several noted incidents that affected me in some way. I began revealing much more about my father. Not only what he did to me but how he lived his own life, the values he followed and the life choices he made.

April was the first month that I displayed a photograph taken from my father’s house (Post: And he called me “dirty”! April 17th) It showed the awful way in which we both lived. A way that I hated but it was out of my control. My father put many demands and outrageous expectations on me over the years and this photo was just a small example of his control. The five bedroom house was far too much for one person to look after. Especially a young woman with a full time job, friends and a life. I wasn’t allowed “excuses”. I wasn’t allowed a life. My life was indebted to him. I “owed” him for having a life.

On the 20th, I suffered from a severe Asthma attack where I was taken to the emergency room by my neighbour. I received a lot of support and well wishes from the WordPress community. It surprised and moved me that strangers all over the world showed such kindness to someone they had never met. I was not used to that. Thank you.

MAY

May was a busy month for me. In my general life and on WordPress. It was the first time I shared my poetry on my blog with “Control me”, a piece I wrote during the years of severe abuse.

On the 20th on May, I travelled to Madrid, Spain for a five day trip with three of my colleagues and twelve children from work. It was an experience to say the least! I am thrilled to have done it. To be trusted by my superiors and given that responsibility is something I will treasure. The laughs we shared will be remembered forever. It really was a once in a lifetime sort of thing.

The weekend I returned was that of my one year wedding anniversary with David. Although the wedding day itself holds some upsetting memories (a day that I still can’t bring myself to fully blog about with reasons that no one bar David seem to comprehend), it is always going to be the moment I pledged my love and trust to my devoted husband David and that is main reason why our anniversary will be special for the rest of our lives. I wrote you a letter David on our anniversary this year. Here is to many more my love.

The biggest moment of May was when I made the risky decision to “out” some very spiteful girls. Four to be exact as I began a series of posts retelling the story of their betrayals. C & C, H and N were subject to the truth finally coming out. I received many responses to the series. Old school friends and colleagues who understood whom I was referring to offered their support and agreement. Their thoughts were very welcome. However, I did receive one negative comment from a supporter and friend of N. She threatened legal action at my accusations. All I said was the truth. I did not use names, nor did I say exactly where we had known each other from. N’s friend only landed N in it, she basically announced to the world of Facebook who N actually was. She was the one who broke the rules. Her anger embarrassed her and surprisingly, many of our peers from that time spoke out in support for me. She never followed through with her threats.

A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.
Thomas Jefferson

JUNE

June was a pretty easy month. The weather began to dramatically improve in England and Summer seemed to be fast approaching. I blogged seventeen times this month.

Deliberate Donkey a woman’s story about her journey through domestic violence, generously re-blogged my work. It would be the first time someone had referred to my abuser as a “sociopath” after reading my story. It was a term I began to explore.

http://deliberatedonkey.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/guest-post-freefromhim/

(Scroll up to top of page when opened)

Insomnia!

I have absolutely no reason to still be awake. It is one thirty in the morning in London, UK. I am sitting here at the computer after an hour of tossing and turning next to my husband. The bed is getting tired of my movement, making awkward sounds as I turn from side to side. I’m worried I might wake him up; so I leave.

Why am I awake? Why am I restless? I am not used to being out of my usual sleep routine. That’s what holidays are for right? Instead, I feel guilty to relax. A lie-in feels wrong and unjustified.

I suppose that’s the downside of working in a school. Your body clock is always set for an early start and any other way just ruins it. The temptation now is to stay up until I’m exhausted and wait to conk out completely. Only to wake a few hours later as my husband goes to work to reset my body clock.

I may have to say ‘goodbye’ to the lie ins.

Last week at work!

I have two and a half days left before we break up for the summer – very exciting! Although, living in my sauna of a flat for the next five weeks is not something I’m looking forward to. We bought an air cooler today which seems to be helping but it’s just another object being placed into our overcrowded, one bedroom apartment.

Even though moving to my mums’ is a daunting prospect, you don’t expect that to happen one year into your marriage, I cannot wait to have SPACE! David and I are constantly on top of each other and in this heat it is getting too much. We are both stressing over such little things and getting irritable so easily. It’ll also be nice to have a garden. I’ve missed that so much. Just a space to read or relax, enjoy the sun without thousands of eyes on you or have a picnic on the grass; I’m looking forward to that.

These last few days at work are going to be manic. School trips, school performances, I’m up to my head in it. But come Wednesday, I’ll be free!

At least for five weeks.

Then it begins all over again!

Happy holidays to all the teachers out there.