Proud Mama.

After my sadder post yesterday I must add a little positive in my life at the moment. Sorry, let me correct myself – not a little positive, a great big, loving positive that comes in the shape of my daughter Ivy-Wren.

My daughter has formally entered her toddler years now. She has begun walking after a hefty spell of perfected crawling and is showing great skill in it too.

“There” is officially her favourite word, overtaking Dada by a mile.

Where is Teddy Ivy-Wren?

There.

Where is the book Ivy-Wren?

There.

Where is Mama Ivy-Wren?

There.

Nothing can beat that enthusiasm from excited babies and toddlers. At least it’s not “No”, things could always be worse! Although my husband and I do find ourselves having to regularly repeat words and objects as she points to every single thing she can see.

Not only is her vocabulary growing rapidly but my little bunny is now able to pull out a square, triangle, star and circle from her shape box when requested. How has my fifteen month old grasped the names of shapes already?!

She literally impresses me every day.

These big stresses we have right now melt into oblivion when I watch my darling daughter. Thank goodness I see such innocence every day. It keeps my feet firmly on the ground and keeps my mind focussed on my job. My job to raise her, protect her and nurture her.

Thank you for everything you are and continue to be Ivy-Wren.

Love Mama xxxxx

To My Father’s Church.

To the Church where my father worked,

You held him in such high regard, the man who ruined my life. He became a martyr to you when he died. This archetype of a human being. A Christian man with Christian ethics. The words the pastor uttered at his funeral haunt me to this day. His description of him fell short of the image and character I endured for over fifteen years. 

What a shrewd man to deceive you all.

At his funeral, after his cremation, you approached me. You, the pastor, offered your sincere condolences for my tragic loss. You had been there. You had seen my father in action. He had told you the lies he created about me and you believed them. He asked you to pray for me so that I would not be condemned to hell but prayer was not enough. He would have exorcised me if he could. To him, I was possessed, inhuman, a savage. He could not tame me. I was too wild and broke too many rules. This was a lie. I only ever tried to comply. I just could not meet his endless demands and regulations. 

You humiliated me. I did not need your prayers. I was not a bad person.

As you all wept at sight of his coffin I wept too. I wept out of happiness; out of relief. I sat, staring directly down the aisle at his coffin. I resisted the temptation to kick it over. Nothing would have pleased me more to see it lying, broken, ruined. Just as he left me.

My sister became a beacon of hope, of love and loyalty to you. She honored my father well. He did not deserve honor. He didn’t deserve the audience you all gave him at his final goodbye. He didn’t deserve the tears or the laughs, the empathy or the memories. That room should have been empty. 

My father abused me. Mentally and emotionally, for thirty years of my life. He was the epitome of a bad man.

You were naive to believe his other representation.

You were naive to think he was true to his word.

You were naive to believe he cared about people, that he cared about all of you.

He didn’t.

Believe me.

 

The Letters.

Today will begin a series of letters I wish I could have written in the past, letters that I wish I could send even now, words I have hidden and emotions I have protected. Only through personal strength and the ability and hope to move forward are these words being written finally after so many years. There are many people I would like to write to. Many who have emotionally bruised me over the years and many who have played a significant part in my healing. It’s not all bad of course.

The people I will write to are:

  • Mum
  • My high school teachers
  • Sister
  • Father (abuser)
  • The ‘friends’ who deserted me
  • My brother in-law
  • My father’s family
  • David (husband)

All had some effect in my state of mind during the abuse. Some were very positive but unfortunately hope and faith was rarely on my side. I hope these letters aid to my closure.

Dear Mum follows later.

Let the journey begin.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

6 years with the man I love.

And yes, another year and I’m apologising to my hubby for not having the time to buy him a card for our anniversary. I am a bit of a useless wife in that regard! He knows I love him. So, to embarrass him a little, I want to blog about my husband, (keeping this as far from gushing and sickening as I can).

David:

Thank you for the last 6 years. You are the only man I have ever truly loved. Your open heart loved me so easily and although it is still a battle for me to surrender and open myself up completely to you, I am grateful for the journey you have taken me on. You are my best friend. Your loving arms and radiant warmth protects me. I know I can be ‘difficult’, I’m sorry for that. Even though I am apologising, you never see this as a fault. Instead another part of me that you love. Thank you. I love you too.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu

4. Back to a time of despair.

The final thing I uncovered from my bedroom was a bunch of folded, hidden papers. I only read them recently and was thrown back in time to seventeen years of age.

It was all so angry, so upsetting. My husband was silent when he read them; shocked by my words and frustration. It was a side of me I rarely show. I am not an angry woman but reading the words I had written brought the despair back.

I had clearly written all over the sheets of paper in one go. Fury flooded over me and painful words bled out, piercing my heart. I felt sorry for myself, upset that my seventeen year old self had suffered so much. I was mad that I didn’t do something earlier and save myself a long time ago.

I was talking directly to him. My words were barely readable as I’d written them without thinking, it was just flowing from my soul. Endless words, strings of nonsense sentences, a desperate cry to be loved.

Swearing and hate filled one page and left me in shock as I looked at the continuous course of contempt for him and myself. My resentment echoed through the sheet, my hatred for him beamed from the page and my self-loathing radiated wildly.

The ache to be loved was a key element of my ranting. I just needed love. I just wanted to feel self-worth. A reiteration of failure played over and over as I read through the countless sheets of heartache.

After reading it all, there was nothing left to say.

Sorting through the memories.

While my Dad was in hospital, I took the opportunity to return to his house to collect a few things from my bedroom without his watchful gaze on me. Whilst sorting through my drawers and rummaging through old photos, I discovered a wad of paper. As I shuffled through it, I realised here was a bunch of memories I had forgotten about.

Not only that, but over the years I had saved moments of his abuse and anger. Cleverly and luckily, memories were being brought back to life and although there was a time where I would want to desperately forget them, avoid them, now was the time to resurrect them. I wanted to stay true to myself, I hated that sympathy was interfering.

My worry for his health and the normal reaction from a daughter, seemed to be taking over the way my father really made me feel. Being back in his house magnified those feelings and witnessing the abusive words he had written to me over the years brought it all back.

There were four main things that I found in my drawers that stood out. All were on paper.

Each are to follow.

I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.
Sophia Loren

8th August 2012 – Breaking point.

My father had been moved to the cancer unit at University College Hospital in Central London. It was the hospital where I was born. I met David after work and we went there to visit him. I was nervous; shaking. The unit was based on the top floor and there were views across the whole of London from his ward.

As we walked to him, my sister was sat on the bed. I could not believe that once again he had timed our meetings flawlessly. Our last encounter was at the previous hospital and it was less than perfect. The children were there and I got to meet my niece for the first time since she was born; she was 11 months and beautiful. But as I reached out to hold her my sister unbelievably remarked,

“She doesn’t go to strangers.”

I held her anyway and gave her all the love I could in those few seconds before they took her back like the possession she was to them. My six year nephew, a boy I’d once been so close to, barely interacted with me. I missed him so much but he did not know me any more. My sister was partly correct. In many ways I was a stranger to them. However, I never asked for that role. All I wanted was to be in their lives but just like my father, my sister used the things I loved to control and own power. It was easier to allow this than fight it; I’d never been a fighter. She knew this and exploited it.

It was massively uncomfortable being there again with her. I could barely be myself in front of my father, let alone my estranged sister too.

My father decided this was the time to raise the awkward subject of money. I thought I had already dealt with this subject during the last phone call however my father was refusing to let it lie. He had a point to make and he was willing to push me to breaking point.

It was though he was using his upcoming death as another source of control. I did not want to talk about the topic of inheritance under the watchful eyes of my sister. I had always been accused of being materialistic and greedy by her, something he knew and revelled in. I attempted to change the subject but that failed miserably. I looked at him knowingly but he avoided my glance. Instead, he proceeded to instruct me on how my inheritance was to be spent.

I wanted to leave immediately.

I stared at the state of my father. He had lost a dramatic amount of weight. I knew very little of his condition and he avoided my questions. My sister however knew everything. She was his confidante, a position she had a long time ago with my mother. She berated her for this. She punished Ma for putting her in that position. So why did she so happily take on this role with my father? Perhaps, it made her feel special and wanted. I know how much she has always enjoyed her influence on my parents. Each of them at some point in their lives have relied on her, confided in her and portrayed her as the perfect daughter. She had a reputation to uphold. I was happy for her to have that part, I never wanted it. When I had it; I hated it.

I felt incredibly emotional. Most of the emotions were anger and hurt. My sister was watching me as my father continued to dictate his inheritance conditions. There were no conditions written into the will so I knew that either his idea had been refuted to put it in there by his solicitor or that he didn’t have the courage to put it there in the first place. That or he just wanted to say it. He got tremendous satisfaction from saying it, imposing it and ordering me around.

I sat there silently for what seemed like an eternity. David said nothing. He never knew how to deal with my father. I understood that. It was a difficult situation and he often felt it was not his place. But, secretly, I wanted him to shout, to tell my Dad to ‘back off’ and frankly, just to STOP. It was even more upsetting that clearly I was still on my own.

After several minutes I think my father recognised my apparent discomfort. I wouldn’t look him in the eye and looked very uncomfortable. He tried to move the topic onto something else but by that time I was far too upset to stay. My cousin from America had called and it all felt a little too weird. My sister used to call her all sorts of derogatory names. She hated her but all of a sudden she was acting like her best friend as though they told each other everything. I was confused and horrified by her behaviour. If my sister was such a forgiving person then why is she still punishing my mother? Our mother who never abused us, who made mistakes but recognises them, who just wants to be there for us? She welcomed my abusive, dangerous father back into her life, to be a granddad to her children, forgetting how he treated her as a child herself. How he called her names and accused her of creating the depression she had suffered with for years. She has forgotten that. She has forgiven that.

Yet she still punishes my mum. I cannot even tell you what for. I do not truly know if there is a reason. It just seems that she always needs to punish someone. That is how she copes.

I left my father’s bedside and although the two of them attempted to convince me to stay, I knew I needed to get out of there. I needed fresh air, I needed to breathe and be free. I couldn’t look at him any more. He had taken it too far.

He messaged me that night.

“Babitago, I am so sorry to see you go through the very stressful situation yesterday. I love you darling. Can you give me a call”.

I didn’t call him.

His message was just words.

His actions were the things I read now and they were clear to me. My humiliation was key. It gave him everything he needed. His sickly sweet, patronising words washed over me.

Was it really an apology? He was apologising for the way I felt and NOT for what he did! The man was a total joke – dying or not.

2nd August 2012 – The epiphany.

Today would have been my father’s 76th birthday.

A year ago, on his 75th, I was not at the hospital celebrating it with him. I was at home attempting to block out that this was a significant day. To me, it had to remain as ‘normal’ as possible. I did not want to, in the future, associate this day with him.

There was too much pressure and I was really struggling. I needed to keep the boundaries in place, they were keeping me strong. I could not destroy them because my father was dying. I could not ruin all my hard work for emotion.

David, my husband, had visited my father the day before to drop off a birthday card. I wasn’t cold-hearted as he made out. I wanted to give him something. In the card I wrote some special, thoughtful words. I wanted to say something kind to him, I wanted to go against the image he always portrayed me as. I was not a monster, as much as he accused me of being one. I was not heartless, I still remained his daughter. Maybe I was forgiving him in the card. Or perhaps I was forgiving myself. Ultimately, it was the right thing to do.

On the 2nd of August 2012, I received a phone call from my father.

He rang me to say thank you. It would be the first time in over sixteen years that those two words seemed genuine.

Then came the moment in the phone call where I finally thought I would hear what I have always longed for:

An apology

Just one, just one admission for all the abuse, all the terror. He began to cry, he commented on my sweet words and how they have soothed him. I cried too. I was willing the words out of him, just say sorry!

“I often thought, after arguments, Babitago, I regretted shouting at you,”

I was shocked to hear him saying it. It was finally coming, the moment I had waited my life for.

“It was wrong of me, but Babitago; you needed to be corrected.”

However, it was those five words that rang in my ear. I immediately wiped away my tears.

He continued speaking, saying how I would provoke his anger which caused him to react badly towards me and I could not blame him for that. That I was willing him to fight me, attack me and how much I wanted him to berate me. He said I put myself into situations deliberately and taunted him wanting a reaction and needing an argument. After a while into his detailing of me, I had stopped listening. We seemed to be taking a few steps forward for a second but ultimately he was always going to pull me back down.

What did I expect?

I expected that.

Our desires always disappoint us; for though we meet with something that gives us satisfaction, yet it never thoroughly answers our expectation.
Elbert Hubbard