An Open Letter to My Father

You don’t know this but I still have nightmares about you. Whisked back unwillingly to a time when I was small and you were big and strong and powerful. I wake up bathed in a cold sweat, reli…

Source: An Open Letter to My Father

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Little Things

Broken heart

Picture credit: TimOve 

“Crying tears on the outside and blood on the inside, a stabbing feeling deep in my heart”

A little thing about the Mother that had a big impact on our day to day lives, and still does;

She is never, ever satisfied.

There was always something I did wrong, could have done better or not enough of. I would be chastised for mistakes or beliefs in her own head of how I caused something to happen for years following an event.

If I vacuumed the house, she’d be upset I didn’t clean the windows.

If I tidied my bedroom, she’d be upset I didn’t clean the kitchen.

If a photo was taken she was later angry about my posture.

When I wanted to ride my bike to school, she was angry and slammed the door in my face (a stranger got out of their car to help me cross the busiest road)

When I changed my hair colour to a deep red, she referred to me as “carrot head” until I changed the colour to a more socially acceptable colour, in her opinion.

When I was in a bicycle accident and couldn’t get up, it was my fault she hurt her back helping me get into the car.

When she went through a red light and almost had a collision, it was my fault. And I was actually trying to get us killed. I believed this for a long time.

When I was accepted into a uni degree she was annoyed at my excitement.

When I asked her why she doesn’t say nice things about me being pregnant for the first time, she replied “I don’t want you to get a big head”

There are so many more…

I think the biggest turning point in my feelings towards her was around age 15. I went away with a neighbours family for almost 2 weeks. I felt so homesick and missed the Mother so much. When I saw her on the platform I ran towards her, dropped all my bags and gave her the biggest hug. She immediately told me off for dropping my bags.

Then, in the car started yelling at me about the chores I didn’t do 2 weeks ago before leaving.

When we got home I went to my bedroom. This is my first memory of painful crying. My heart felt broken. I vowed to myself to never feel love for her again. Something inside me switched off.

In therapy I have begun to understand the dynamic with her a little better. During early childhood, everything I did was to keep her happy. Conform and mould into whatever she needed me to be. She was my world. This is what young children do. We do it for our very survival. She was the source of food and warmth. Then we grow up.

As I yearned for more of my own identity I believe this became a point of tension. Suddenly I don’t need the Mother so much, I want independance. I want certain freedoms, away from her. I was becoming a teenager who needed my own identity, I needed to figure out who I wanted to be. The Mother could not handle this natural separation. Instead she became extremely mean. Name calling was her way of bringing me back into line.

Name calling.

Every day.

I was so many things. So many nasty things.

Around this time Dad stopped physically abusing me, but now I was dealing with something else completely.

The next few years that followed are a little blurry in regards to the order of events.

I became bipolar. I would have extreme moments of happiness, laughing hysterically for hours followed by hours of crying. I attempted suicide, with 3 of those attempts landing me in hospital.

The accumulation of little things. Living with the Mother was daily emotional torture. This post scratches the surface of how these little daily interactions eroded my self-esteem and ability to even think for myself.

Now in therapy, one of the things I hope to achieve is finding my voice, allowing myself to have independent thought. Learning to find the words to express myself in a way that is constructive, assertive and respectful.

 

 

Playing Chasey

Tidal Zone 2

Picture Credit: Andrew

As I got older, the physical abuse with the strap lessened. It was at this point in my childhood Dad would use his hands to physically abuse me. There are few memories of these, this being one of them.

We were in Mornington on a family holiday, visiting Sorrento. On this particular day we were walking around the beach and the shops. I remember feeling bored. Then I saw a ferry. I asked about the ferry and was told it takes people to Queenscliff and back again.

I got so excited and really wanted to go on the ferry. When we started walking towards it I thought maybe we were. But then we started walking in the opposite direction. At this moment, I remember making a comment about the day being boring.

Dad turned around, looked at me then began running. I ran thinking that we we’re playing chasey. I started laughing and feeling excited.

When he got me, he pinned me to the ground, got on top and started smacking my face in really fast. I remember making eye contact with a man in his car, we locked eyes for a moment and he drove away. The memory ends.

Getting this memory out of my head and onto paper has allowed me to cry. I have sat here crying for the first time at the sheer sadness of being so utterly misunderstood. At the feeling of happiness being so quickly turned into fear.

One of the more unusual things about this memory is that in the moment of locking eyes with the man in his car, I am seeing him through my own eyes in the memory. Even now as I write this I keep seeing the look on his face through my own eyes. This part of the memory is different because I’m not the observer.

I am a Mum now and my young child often says she’s bored, or this is boring. I smile and say well let’s find something to do. Quite often she doesn’t want to and would prefer to just stay bored.  I know it’s ok to feel bored, this is part of the childhood experience.

The Mornings

Early morning bokeh

Picture Credit: Kevin Dooley

“Any sorrow, upon the morrow, must surely fade away. For there is naught, that can’t be sought, upon a bright new day” – Mary Marks

My Dad was ‘The Man’ of the home, what he said went, no negotiation, no family discussion, no consideration for how other people might feel. I learnt from a very early age to accept this. For example, tiptoe around the house when he was sleeping, especially if he had been drinking the night before.

I vaguely remember my brother and I waking up early most mornings, walking quietly to the TV room and we would watch cartoons for what felt like hours.

The thing that would wake us up so early is my Dad’s long wee in the toilet. Door wide open and the sound of a long, long wee, followed by the biggest fart you’ve ever heard. The sound would echo through the house. I never lay their annoyed until I was much older, as a child it was simply time to sneak to the TV room and watch cartoons. I felt happy.

Then, later in the morning Dad would have his shower. And afterwards walk back to his bedroom naked. I would see my Dad’s penis daily, he didn’t care that I was looking. I would often hear Mother yell out, “cover yourself” or “get a towel” or “kids, don’t look” and he would just keep walking, ignoring her.

As I grew into my teens, he would make sure there was a clear pathway, then do the naked dash to his bedroom. It was at this point I knew him better.  As soon as I heard the shower stop, I knew to make myself scarce. Whatever I was doing I’d make sure that I was around a corner, or in my room. Then I’d wait, sometimes I’d stand quietly and wait for 5 minutes until he was definitely in his bedroom.

One morning when I was much older, either 14 or 15. I went to have a shower at the time Dad normally had his shower. He came in the bathroom and did his morning shave, the glass was opaque so he wouldn’t have been able to see me naked. Then, I yelled out, “I need to get out now can you leave?”

Expecting he would leave I turned the water off. He didn’t leave. He let me stand there and did not pass a towel over for what felt like an eternity. Perhaps, this was his way of telling me to never interrupt his morning ever again. And I didn’t.