The Deepest Blade of All.

Shards of speech cut through the air

brutal, malevolent

he strives to wound deeper and deeper

I struggle to breathe

open for attack

he’s ready

and waiting

patiently

words slice through me

piercing my world

penetrating my heart

worthless tears

spent on him

disillusioned with love

trusting the enemy

he clings to my loyalty

trapped

measures his love

mean, mercenary

the rage ensues

arrows of hate dart,

surround,

release

scorned retaliation rapes me of hope

shameful regret

heated incisions damage

already fragile skin

alone

scarred

fractured from fury.

  Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.

Chapter 3, Part 1.

THREE

FOOD AND WASTE

Food was the symbol of many different things through the past, comfort and control being the main. I had always been a healthy child growing up on fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. My mother was a fantastic cook and fed the family well. We understood where food came from and the benefits of it from a young age. I enjoyed cooking and helping her in the kitchen. If anything, it was more time to spend with her.

As I headed towards my teenage years my father took my sister and me to restaurants as a treat. He often left my mother behind. I began seeing this as a regular way of life. Sweets and chocolate began to appear in the house and I revelled in it like most young teens would. My mother still encouraged us to eat well and usually I did but if I wanted anything ‘naughty’ my Dad would never refuse it. Not because he couldn’t say no to me. He just treated this as a way to point score with his wife. The children were a competition to him and food was the start of his game playing.

In later years (as the trouble grew worse between me and my father) food became a source of genuine comfort to me. I would regularly binge eat at dinner. My father and I never sat at the table together and enjoyed a meal. Instead I was forced to eat in my bedroom to avoid conflict with him. He knew what I put in my mouth as we always went food shopping together every week. Something I almost looked forward to.

However the supermarket was a place he would frequently choose to humiliate me. If I wanted to get something I may not have finished before he would begin a rant on my ‘addiction to wastage’. He’d tell me I had no consideration for starving children all over the world and no concern about money. He’d continue to insult me and if I argued that it had happened only the one time, he’d accuse me of attempting to deliberately agitate him. Again, his voice would change and all this would be said through gritted teeth and glaring eyes. Often he would behave like this in public places where the normal reaction of strangers was to stop and stare over at the strange ‘couple’ having an argument. He enjoyed my humiliation but never saw how he humiliated himself, after all at this time I was a grown woman.

On one occasion,  my father began a petty fight as we loaded our items onto the conveyor belt. I remember the cashier and the customer ahead of us watching curiously. The customer, a young woman who appeared to be in her twenties, couldn’t stop herself from watching. Her judging eyes buried themselves in me. I know how we looked. I get it. It sickens me. My father’s rant was not subsiding, it only grew worse as I tried to pacify him. To him, I was patronising. He stormed off. I panicked. I had no money on me to pay for the shopping. I could see him leave the supermarket in a powerful rage. I stood there, shocked watching our shopping edge towards the cashier. The stranger’s eyes were still burning through me when suddenly, she spoke.

“Don’t worry, my husband is a lot older than me too. Older men are like that”.

I was horrified and immediately repulsed.

Her face automatically dropped when I responded,

“He’s not my husband; he’s my father”.

The brute returned within moments and began ordering me to “MOVE!”. The stranger looked appalled and full of regret. I imagined she wished she never spoke to me. I did to.

After we returned home I ran upstairs in a fit of tears. He couldn’t take my crying, it was a weakness to him and he’d use it as a chance to insult and criticise me, saying, “Oh here come the waterworks!”

This was such a regular incident. Something would happen every week. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of the food I would get to eat when we returned. I was dependant on it to make me happy. Upstairs, I’d take: one plastic bag of shopping, filled with a high calorie sandwich, an energy drink, doughnuts, chocolate and two or three bags of crisps. With the TV on high, I’d sit and gorge on my selection to the point of feeling sick (although, back then I never actually did throw up). It satisfied me. Immediately I felt ashamed of what I had done, often shoving the remnants under my bed or frantically stuffing it in the bin.

Guilt would encompass me and I would dramatically berate and condemn myself. That’s when self-harm began to find a place in my life.

© Roshni Bhattacharya 2013

Faultless: Can’t say “No”.

Whether it’s a simple request or something more important: I just cannot say “No”. It has improved over the last couple of years but I haven’t completely dispelled this weakness.

Whilst living with my father there was no point in trying to say No. If I even showed the slightest sign of refusal, it would cause either a huge argument or lead him to condemn me with his endless series of insults. To say No would be pointless. To say Yes would strangely give me some control even though I was complying with his demands. Of course, there were many commands from him I could not agree to. He would tell me to cancel important plans or dates to help him with something. I always knew that not only was this his way of having power over me but he wanted to ruin my day. He wanted to throw that spanner in the works and disrupt everything. He would pick his moments shrewdly, waiting to give me my orders with incredible precision, waiting to lead me into a panic and confusion about how to rearrange my plans. After a while, it became essential that I refuted him. I was losing every ability to live, I needed something to hang onto and somewhere, in the depths of my soul, I was going to find the power to say No.

I saw a counsellor in 2010 after many years of wanting to speak to someone. One of the things she immediately recognised was my inability to say No. She was one of the first people to call me on it. We set some basic steps to change this terrible habit and if not in the rest of my life at first, at least with my controlling father.

Putting boundaries ahead of him for our relationship wasn’t easy. He would not accept them at first and even though I rarely backed down, he was adamant my counsellor was full of shit. She was “poisoning” my mind just like my mother’s done. It probably didn’t help that she was a woman, he hated them. Yet, through the struggle, I continued to lay down my new rules and regain some of my lost control.

At work and life, I still lack the confidence to say No. I do not want to seem awkward or difficult. People tell me this is my fault. I know it is. I take on too much to the point of despair, wanting to please people and make them proud. I want to be seen as reliable and trust-worthy, dependable and loyal.

All the things my father told me I never was.

Perhaps one day I’ll get there and realise:

There is nothing wrong in saying “No”.