A Bitter Sweet Reminder.

I have just arrived home. I feel compelled to tell you that I saw a man today. A man standing in my father’s house. My old prison. A man standing by the kitchen window. He was dark, like me. My father’s house was lit up. Not grey and hidden as it has been for the last eighteen months since his death. I was shocked to say the least, haunted even. I have a bad habit of peeking into the old place. Curiosity gets the better of me and I can’t help but look back. Perhaps if I wasn’t living in the same area as my abuser, I would not even think about our home.

As I’ve mentioned before, I pass my abuser’s home every day to and from work. It’s highly depressing and unfortunately unavoidable. However, this unexpectedly ghostly figure could be the answer to my prayers. The house has clearly been sold and the time has finally come to move on. I can look at this as a positive step forward out of the darkness.

It has felt like an age, and although it is disturbing to witness someone else in my last home, it is also a relief. I hope their lives are more enjoyable in it than mine was. That house holds so many awful memories in it for me; for my mother. I want one day to never see it again. It belongs in my past.

Seeing a man by the window was upsetting. His build was not that dissimilar from my father’s. It was only for a few seconds but it was long enough for me to feel queasy.

Thankfully, I did not get too upset. As I got off the tube and made my way onto the bus home, I felt nothing. There is no more room for tears, I have no emotion left for him or that house. The windows had steamed up from the heated bus and the heavy rain. I could not see a thing. I leant over to the clouded pane and drew the only thing that could put a smile on my face.

I Hate Mondays.

Weekend over

early mornings

walk to work

sharp winds

long waits

queues.

Crowded bus

shrieking children

coffee relief

momentary warmth

Depressed.

Never-ending

long to sleep

day drags on

time sweeps by

counting down.

Underground woes

London bustle

hands in face

bodies together

commuters hell

Monday’s gain.

With nowhere to run – Photo 5.

Image

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.

The daily torture.

He is dead and gone.

I never have to see his face again.

Yet I do see him every day. Every day, on my way to work and every day on my way back home, there he is – the abuser. Since moving in with my mother, I have the unfortunate daily routine of passing his house on the train. The tube rarely travels overground in London except in some cases. The tracks run, for a short while, behind my childhood home. The prison where he kept me under his control. The garden with no way out into the world, trapped by those blasted tracks. The building that never sheltered me from the storm raging in my father or protect me from his thunderous nature.

Every day I have to pass it.

The residence of torture and his haven of abuse. That solitary confinement that controlled and watched over me. His sadistic dungeon of emotional perversion. I know it is coming as soon as light appears after the darkness of the tunnel. I am expecting it, awaiting it and fearing it. I have tried to avoid it by sitting with my back to it and although physically it helps, mentally I am completely aware of what is burning into my back. It is unfortunate my mother lives in the same area as my father did and that I have to endure this journey each day.

Occasionally, I peer in. Worse, if the train stops by the house (which it can do), I am forced to stare into each room. Nothing has changed which only sparks more anxiety in me as if he’ll appear at any moment. I look hard to see any shadow but nothing materializes. Instead the rooms look the same as when I left them. The stress and panic in me builds within a few short seconds. By then he has imprinted himself in my mind.

We will move out of this area. That is a guarantee. I cannot do with this daily torture for the rest of my life. I never want to see that house again.

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.