2014 A Look Back: May – August.

May.

This month, my husband and I celebrated two years of marriage. I do not know where the time has gone! Also this month I concluded my letter series with a piece written to my sister. There have been no improvements on that front unfortunately. She still excludes me from her life even though several attempts have been made to build bridges. I remain confused to why our relationship ever stopped and from recent events, I doubt things will ever be truly resolved or that I am wanted back in her life. It’s all very sad.

June.

I had my five month scan in June. It was an important one to see if the baby had any abnormalities. It also tested for Down’s Syndrome. We were very glad to find out that we were not at risk. Baby was healthy and growing well. My pregnancy had been going well and apart from a pretty bad case of morning sickness in the first trimester, I was really starting to enjoy it.

July.

As the pregnancy continued and the symptoms became more prominent, my activity on WordPress began to dwindle. As a frequent writer this was unusual for me but the ever-growing tiredness was consuming my waking hours. Pregnant in the summer months was not very enjoyable and working all day did not help matters either. The end of July marked the beginning of a much needed six week holiday where I could finally take a well-deserved break and properly prepare for baby’s arrival. Unbeknownst to me, my organisational skills would save me in the end and my good preparation for baby would cause much less panic than expected two months later………

August.

In August I made a decision to leave the blog as soon as my baby came. It was a difficult decision to make but originally the whole point of the blog was to gain closure from the emotional abuse I endured for fifteen years from my father. It was to gain closure from his death and to release the anger I felt for him in a safe and controlled way. I achieved that last year so began to question my reasons for staying on here. However, with the turmoil I’ve had over the last few months mixed with the elation of creating my beautiful little girl, I’ve realised something. I NEED this site. I need to vent somewhere, to celebrate somewhere, to release somewhere, to be myself somewhere. That somewhere is here at freefromhim and I will not be going anywhere.

This is part of me now.

Ros x

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The cost of kindness.

I sometimes forget all the things that are free in this world. Kindness is one of them. After being sent a link on Facebook, (35 pictures to prove there is some good in this world) it made me think about how easy it is to take such a basic emotion for granted.

When living with my abuser, kindness was almost forbidden – certainly on his part and especially towards me. His exterior often portrayed a kind and generous man but behind closed doors was a different matter. I ached for an ounce of kindness from him. I wanted him to be gentle and thoughtful with me, to be considerate of my feelings and character. I longed for him to empathise with me and have compassion. These are characteristics that he would have certainly classed himself as having as he did not see himself as ever being without these traits. Many would agree that my father was a thoughtful man but they only saw what he wanted them to.

I will never forget this memory.

One summer evening after a shopping trip, my father was driving us home. It had been a bad visit to the supermarket and we had spent the majority of the journey arguing in the car as we drove back. It was a stupid and dangerous thing to partake in. Arguing while he was driving was my worst place to fight as I never could trust what kind of risks he would take. He was happy to risk our lives and leave me fearing for my life. I cannot remember the subject of our row only that he was attempting to drill in his point. It wasn’t so much of a two way argument; more of a barrage of anger from his end. I had done the unthinkable and spoken back to him. His questions were NOT to be answered. Silly me for forgetting.

I began to feel claustrophobic and tried to avert my eyes from his powerful gaze. Even as he drove he was still finding a way to bury his burning glare into my soul. As my eyes darted from window to window, something caught a hold of my attention. The car slowly pulled up to a bit of traffic as I focussed in on a man lying face down on the ground at a bus stop ahead of us. The day was fading into night and the sunlight had now disappeared into the distance. My father was still continuing his tirade at me but by now, my concentration was fully placed on the stranger.

As we slowly approached the man, I dared to interrupt my father. I could feel his shock and momentary build up of rage. Once again, I interrupted his flow and as I was too frightened to speak in fear of him screaming, I just pointed. I pointed to the lonely man lying face down on the floor.

“Ignore it,” my abuser muttered as he keep his eyes ahead of him.

His comment immediately broke my gaze.

“What?”

“Ignore. It.” He repeated defiantly.

I couldn’t ignore it. I couldn’t fathom his own ignorance. I was horrified.

“There’s a man over there. Pull over.”

“Did you not hear me the first time Babitago?! IGNORE IT!” He shouted violently and slammed his hands on the wheel.

I lost it.

I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I was not that kind of a person.

“He could be dead!” I screamed. “Pull over! We need to call an ambulance!”

“You are a insolent moron! Evil! Disgusting! What is wrong with you? You have no respect for me!”

“This isn’t about you!”

My final comment was enough for my father to release his fury. He let out an almighty roar and I practically jumped out of my seat. The traffic had subsided and he gradually began to pick up speed. I had unleashed his inner monster and it was not about to go into hiding. I turned to see the stranger still on the ground. His lifeless body waited to be found yet no one stopped to help. I wanted to show some kindness, to reach out, to help in some way but the demon beside me was preventing it. He had total control and even when we returned home he made it very clear that I was not to follow through with my plans. Even suggesting anonymously ringing for an ambulance was useless. He wanted nothing to do with it. To him, it was a problem and someone else’s for that matter. That man could have been dying and it did not matter.

I was subjected to an hours worth of abuse and insult when we were hidden behind closed doors. My father reprimanded my concern instead of praising my worry.

I was ashamed to be his daughter.

I never knew what happened to that man.

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)

Health Scare Part 2.

In the summer of 2008, I was booked in for a Colposcopy at the Royal Free Hospital in North London. It was a great hospital with a good reputation and I was pleased to be in their care. I wasn’t pleased however when my father insisted that I regale him with all the information and details about the procedure. I continued to tell him that it was to be extremely personal and intrusive and as a twenty six year old woman at the time, I wanted to endure it myself. I had not told any friends and was still yet to even tell my mother. Until it got to a point where I had to, it was something I wanted to keep private. Just because he had rooted through my things and discovered the truths, did not give him the right to have full clearance to know every detail of my life.

I had been working so hard to put some boundaries in place between us that this would only cancel them out. He was well aware of this and had no intention of risking loss of power over me. No matter how I reasoned with him, I never won. He had control over me.

As I sheepishly explained the steps of the Colposcopy, I felt sickened with each word. Why couldn’t he just investigate it over the web? No, he revelled in my discomfort.

By the time I had finished, my father looked at me with disgust then left. It was a look I was used to.

I tried to convince him that I would go to the appointment alone. Although I had hid the details of the appointment, unsurprisingly he had found them after one of his random “spring cleans” (or so he said). No, he had to be there and stick around as we sat awkwardly together in the waiting room. When the doctor called my name, I made my way to her as quickly as I could. I’m sure being stressed before was not the best emotion to be going through. I needed to be as relaxed as possible. How was that ever going to happen with the abuser awaiting me outside?

Of course the whole process was unpleasant and uncomfortable. I was very aware of where things were and what was happening to me. As a person who is incredibly insecure of their body, I have to admit it was one of the worst experiences of my life. This feeling was magnified by the fact the abuser would be the first face I would see after it was over.

My father had no sympathy for pain and as we left and walked to his car, he proceeded to list a set of targets I needed to achieve and complete for him over the following days, mainly to do with the house.

I had stopped listening the moment his lips opened and sound left his mouth.

This would be a moment that would be repeated for the next two years as an abnormal result kept appearing. I desperately wanted it to end. My fear of hospitals was fiercely developing and the abuser was winning. I finally opened up and told my boyfriend (my now husband David) about it all as well as my mother. David was supportive and understood that it was not my father’s place to accompany me, it was not doing the situation any good.

He offered to come instead.

I actually wanted to go alone but my father would never have allowed that. Instead, he accepted David’s request and had to back down unwillingly (he felt threatened by another man). He would not have a leg to stand on if he fought David for his position.

My last Colposcopy was 2011. It came back clear.

I had my catch up smear last month.

My results were normal.

29th August 2012 – A long two weeks.

Between the day after he died to the day of the actual funeral, was a very long two weeks; almost endless. I was on my school holidays still and aching to get back to work (that’s pretty unheard of!) but staying at home and dealing with the aftermath of his death was getting too much.

My sister, as executor, was in charge of organizing the funeral. She rarely spoke to me in this process often using her husband to deal with me via text message. It was completely inappropriate and inconsiderate. She was well aware that my relationship with my brother in-law was non-existent yet she could not face me. She had no reason to be so distant instead it would’ve made more sense for me to want to keep away from her. However, I wasn’t in need of attention or a spotlight. I didn’t get a kick out of making things difficult.

The only contact we had was one phone call.  This was where she talked in detail about the lead up to the funeral. She was very well spoken almost putting on a fancy accent. It was another way of raising herself above me and appearing to be ‘together’. Clearly, the pressures that had been put on her were getting too much. As much as she held the pretense of being cool it was backfiring. I could hear the tension in her voice.

She talked about the funeral programme, the order of service and the people invited. She asked me if I wanted to say a few words about him at the funeral.

I paused. For a split second it occurred to me that this was my chance to reveal it to all of them, all of his worshipers, that he was an abuser, a tormentor and the man who ruined my life. It would be sweet revenge and satisfaction and my sister would never see it coming. She genuinely and naively believed that I wanted to praise my deceased father.

I refused her offer.

It wasn’t the right way to do it and I could not risk letting emotion get the better of me. When I eventually told my story and the truth about this horrible man, it would be on my terms and to the whole world not just the confines of his church.

My sister also had the audacity to ask me to contribute to the payment of the flowers for the funeral. I was shocked that she was able to justify spending one hundred pounds on the fact that simply, he was our father. I did not want to spend money on a man who monitored the flow of mine for years. I would’ve happily scattered some dead wood and rotting flowers around him if I could. She knew about the abuse and how he tortured me mentally but last summer she chose to forget it all. He had become a martyr, an idol and in her eyes he ‘saved’ her.

He never saved me.

I saved me.

19th August 2012 – My stony heart.

It must’ve been the hottest day of the year.

It had been eleven days since our last encounter. I had drawn it out as long as I could. He had tried to convince me to visit sooner but after the previous visit, I had no intention of falling into his emotional snares again. It was too much of a risk and I was barely keeping my head above the water as it was. Perhaps it was too long a break and I should have been there for him. But for those eleven days I had a small sense of normality again, I felt safe without him there and as wrong as it may sound, I felt free.

We left early on the Sunday on purpose. We wanted to avoid the heat of the tube and the crowds of people. The journey to the nursing home took over two hours door to door even though we were still in London; the hassles of not being able to drive. By the time we reached it, the temperature had picked up and I was already fanning myself with my hand.

It looked pretty from the outside, a tall white building decorated with pink flowers. Yet as we entered and followed the directions to his room, I was startled to how different a place could look inside compared to the outside. However, the biggest shock was to come.

My father was sat upright in a chair beside his bed.

I sat opposite and watched in horror as he drifted in and out of sleep and consciousness. He was sat in a t-shirt David had brought him from home the previous week. He had a towel covering his lower body. I looked away, feeling repulsed. How insensitive of me; I berated myself but my father had always made me feel uncomfortable. Even in his suffering I could not forget the painful memories that reflected in everything he did.

Babitago……I need you to go to the house tomorrow and find me some more t-shirts to wear,”

he said quietly, still managing to give me orders.

“Did you hear me?” he questioned, I nodded with no intention of stepping into his house.

“Your sister would do it for me; she has done so much for me but she has a family.”

He was still capable, even at his lowest point, to take a dig at me. I was trying so hard to feel something – sympathy, pain, sadness. I was willing these emotions out. All I could do was look at him.

His body was almost shrivelled. He hadn’t shaved for months and unable to grow a beard, his silver facial hair was dusted like sleet over his chin. His heavy eyes remained closed as I stared straight through him. His fragile arms gripped the chair and the only sound that could be heard was his shallow, stilted breathing.

I was waiting to feel something, anything! Love, hurt, fear. I felt none of those things.

I cannot describe what I felt.