Sunday, 21 September 2008

Part #8: Rejection and Abandonment

I said I would continue with the Oman story, and I will, but just for the moment, I am going to diversify into a different topic:

Rejection and Abandonment.

It would be interesting to see how many visitors to this blog have felt this in their lives, and how it has caused them to react. Of the 9 people who have voted on our new poll claiming to either have an ED or are in recovery, how many of them have felt some form of severe rejection or concern about abandonment?

They are both very, very real for me.

Rejection was established in me almost from my earliest memories. My father and my brother (eight years older than me) barely looked at me from one month to the next, let alone spoke to me. If I walked into a room, my brother would walk out immediately. If I dared to speak to my father after his evening meal he would initially ignore me until I badgered: Dad. Dad? Dad?? He would then turn to me (and I can picture him so vividly, right now, sitting on the rug in front of the fire, back against the armchair) with a look of such contempt and disdain.

What? Wassup wi' yer? Am watchin' the bloody telly. Shurrup.

I would 'shurrup'. I would say nothing. I would often want some help with my homework as he was very clever with maths and chemistry but sometimes it was easier to call a friend on the phone. And believe me, every time I did so, I had to pay my father £1.00. In the 80s, this was a fair bit of cash for a teenager to part with. It became easier to go back to a mate's house and walk 4-5 miles home after missing the school bus at 3.30pm, as I simply couldn't afford his exorbitant phone charges.

Even when I returned to the UK, aged 33, and sat with him one night, just the two of us in his living room, interrupting his viewing of a programme to talk about some words I had discovered in a dictionary I was flicking through caused him to say: Will you shut up and let me watch the bloody telly.

We never spoke. We never communicated. I was never taken out anywhere by him. One time he had to go to the farm for eggs for my Mother as she wasn't very well and couldn't go herself. He dragged me with him, despite my protestations. I didn't want to go with him - how many times had I asked him to do something with me and been told to 'Bugger off!'? That was the one and only time I ever remember him taking me anywhere with him. We only had two family holidays in the years I grew up - he didn't 'believe' in holidays and expostulated that my brother and I had everything we needed where we lived - fields, woods, streams, ponds...I wouldn't be seen during the school summer holidays. I'd be out of the house from 7am, reluctantly return for meals, and out the minute my plate was cleared. Anything to get out of that house and the common atmosphere of frostiness due to their frequent rows and ensuing silences.

Trying to stay out of the house as much as possible led me to the most inordinate amount of trouble and one occasion has never been forgotten by me.

There was an area in our village called Pex Hill - a local 'beauty spot' which was being looked after by a team of Rangers from the Forestry Commission. My friend, Janet, and I got 'friendly' with two of them. One particular night, 30 August 1985 (I remember the date clearly as it was the eve of Janet's 15th birthday) I was under strict orders to be home by 8.30m. I knew my parents would be out that night to their regular haunt and they left, religiously, at 8.15pm. So I decided to risk staying out. By 8.45pm, Janet and I knew we had chanced our arm, it was getting rather dark, and the Hill was quiet and becoming a little creepy.

So we set off on our walk home, which was only about ten minutes away, but took us down a steep, densely wooded path. As we walked, a tall, slim shadowy man, wearing black biking leathers, came slowly towards us, and in front of his body, he was snapping a heavy bicycle chain ominously. We couldn't see his face properly for the gloaming light, and I clutched at Janet, and she at me in fear. We were petrified. We thought it was a nutter going to rape or kill us.

It was my brother. He had been sent up to the Hill to find me. His first words to me?

You Are Dead.


I knew then that I was going to suffer immensely for the extra 30 minutes I had taken without permission. And, By Christ, I did. As I walked down the path of the house, my father was stood in the doorway. He grabbed me in by my hair, threw me in front of him and beat me with his hands, screaming constantly: You Dirty, Filthy Bitch! You Dirty, Bloody, Filthy Bitch! He pushed me to the stairs where I stumbled and fell, so he kicked me up every single stair. There were 13 stairs to our bedrooms and I received 13 hard kicks to my backside and thighs. He was wearing his 'going-out' shoes if you are wondering...I crawled into my bedroom, as I wasn't allowed to stand up, he kicked me some more and told me again what a Filthy Cow I was. I genuinely thought it was because he had found out that I had been kissing a boy.

The next day, the silence was deafening. I was only allowed out of my room to eat food and receive more vitriolic abuse at what a Dirty Bitch I was. I was grounded for a month. It seemed a somewhat harsh punishment for risking an extra 30 minutes out, particularly as I was 15 years of age, and it was still the school hols.

The first time I tried to kill myself, I injected myself with my mother's insulin. I genuinely wanted to die as I felt so low, rejected, sad and lonely, and it was the only way I could think it might happen. When I was released from hospital days later, my father informed me that I would be visiting relatives that day, although I felt so ill and nauseated due to the terrible 'hypos' I had gone through in the hospital, as I had 'spoilt [his] bloody weekend enough'...

My mother - how many bloody times was I rejected by her for not being a mini-me? I don't think I could even count them.

There is a very British expression for not talking to somebody - Being Sent to Coventry. I was sent to Coventry so many times that I could probably draft an Ordnance Survey map of the place. If I didn't eat her awful cooking; if I didn't have my bedroom spotless; if I didn't act upon her wishes immediately; if I liked somebody she didn't; if I didn't want to go out with her shopping. All these things would mean I was 'Sent to Coventry'. And we're not talking an hour or so here, we're talking weeks. As it stands, my Mother has now beaten her own record and not spoken to me for ten months because I married Ian. Prior to that, she didn't speak to me for six months when I fell pregnant with Rosemary.

I can't list all of these, you know - I can remember utter dread at her regular threats to leave the house and never come back; her threats that she was going to kill herself; her statements that if it hadn't have been for me being born she'd have left my father and taken my brother with her and been happy...It seemed to always be my fault.

One night when I had complained (as children do) about a meal, her reaction was startling. She started hurling the food around, screamed abuse at me, and ran upstairs to my bedroom. After quickly shovelling the disgusting mushy peas down my throat and gagging at each mouthful, I went up to apologise and grovel. She told me she wanted to kill herself. I ran downstairs and found my father sitting on the garden bench, smoking. I told him what she had said. His response was: I feel like killing myself, too.

There was nowhere to go. I sat in the front room, alone, crying and despairing that I was going to lose both my parents because I hadn't wanted to eat my mushy peas.

I see now, as an adult, that they must have had some dreadful row and my rejection of my mother's food had sent her over the edge.

I didn't see that when I was eight years of age...

Memories are strange things, aren't they? They can bring up so many feelings of sadness at times - as well as happiness, though. Some of my most beautiful memories involve the girls, Ian and I having days out. One of my happiest was 5 November 2007 when he proposed to me. Another was 5 November 2006, days before he left me, unable to cope with the ED and my inability to confide in him, when we visited a seaside town in Wales, out of season, and waltzed along the pier, embarrassing the girls profusely!

These bad memories need to be exorcised. Writing them out is helping me to detach and see things more objectively. Gradually, the pain will separate from them. I feel sure of that as I can sense it happening (albeit in a very small way) already...

12 comments:

floramel said...

If you hav'nt already, cut off all contact with these toxic people and google the toxic families forum. Join. Post a few stories. Those people have experience with having toxic families and can give you some good advice about dealing with them.

Mars said...

i hope you don't take it the wrong way, but it feels like your parents were upset the condom broke..or that you came out without a weenie. and hence you became their source frustration release. mind you, regardless of what they think, you are a miracle in this world and you deserve to be here.

which is why family planning is so important. and adoption to people who can better take care of children should they decide not to keep their legs shut.

anyhow, all that sarcasm aside, my whole life and greatest fear is abandonment issues. not being good enough. perhaps not so severe in your case, but i certainly felt responsible most of the time for everything that went wrong in the house. and now, it's just me and mom. and i always worry one day i'll lose her too through some stupidity of mine that i seem to have no control over. i just find it easier not caring.

P taught me that before anything, learn to love yourself and be your own best friend and mate. Only then can you truly appreciate everyone around you and attract more love and acceptance. i hope you do realize, if you haven't already that you deserve to be here as much as anyone else and you deserve to have a full and satisfying life.

thewishfulwriter said...

Your parents and brother don't get it. Don't get YOU. But that's not your fault. Wasn't then, isn't now. What they did to you was inexcusable - I'm going to guess they suffered from some sort of abuse themselves...it's normally a pattern. what is amazing is that once again you've proven just how strong you are. You've stopped that cycle. You love your girls. You acknowledge your girls. You support your girls. You are a gift.

itsonlymagic said...

They never deserve to speak to you again for doing what they did. It doesn't matter if they had their own problems and depression, it can't excuse the way they treated you. Like floramel said: toxic. I've been reading a few blog posts of your and just wanted to say keep it up! You write really well.

Keli said...

A:
I understand what it is to have a useless, hurtful, contemptible excuse for a father. I often dreamed my real father would come and replace this often violent, angry man who lived in my home. I wrote a post about him a while ago (one of my rare semi-serious ones) revealing a few of his failings. I was never good enough for him. But somewhere along the way, I realized it was he who was never good enough for me. I became indifferent and that is how I've been feeling for the past ten years. This after I told him how I felt and got everything off my chest. I don't know if I could have done it otherwise.
Have faith in yourself, my dear! And focus on those who love you not those who make you miserable.

Linda and her Twaddle said...

Toxic and tragic. Awful to look back on that and see yourself as the child you were. Especially when you have your own children (that is when it really hits home). Like Keli, I am indifferent about my father now - sometimes sad about the situation, but not sad for me or anything anymore. Forgiveness doesn't even come into it. Perhaps acceptance of the situation that was and now does not need to be (now that I am grown up and in control). Now I just live in the now with those that count, those that matter. Takes a while to get there, but in the end you do it. In the end you will do it - 'cos you is angry girl!

Karen ^..^ said...

How is your relationship with your brother today? I wonder, as I suspect that he had his own issues due to your horrific parents. I always thought as a kid that my sister and brothers and I were the only ones abused by my foster/adoptive parents, but now I think her previous seven children may have suffered some sort of abuse as well. In their own way.

They were manipulative, cold hearted, unfeeling, selfish people who did not deserve you. No matter what thier fucked up reasons, they did not ever have the right to hurt an innocent child the way they did. You did suffer so much because of their disgusting behavior, but more than that, you tried to become at least acceptable in thier eyes, and along came that monster that you now battle daily. How many of us know what it is like to go up against such a monster every day?

Sadly enough, I realized at a very young age that there was no pleasing "Gran and Gramps", and so why worry so much about what they thought? I'd somehow figure a way to survive until I turned 18, and then I'd never have to answer to them again. My poor sister did not see this, and I think at times, she still doesn't to this day. Just from things she's said. She seems ok now, but I still worry every day that her monster will come back.

I hope to God it doesn't.

I hope you can fight yours and put it in the cage it belongs in, along with your mother and father and ex asshole. The ones who let it out and fed it and nurtured it. Without them around, surely it will weaken and lose strength, right?

Stay strong Annie! I can see how strong you are, and am seeing progress within your posts. I love that you are able to gain a bit more objective perspective. That is very encouraging, I'm sure. I found very similar emotions when writing my Larrow blog.

Take care, and give Oscar a kiss on his fuzzy little belly. I love cats beyond all reason, and have four of them.

Yes. I am that weird lady down the street with all the animals. But I'm only weird. Not dangerous. ;)

Agnes Mildew said...

Floramel: Many thanks for your visit and the advice. I did have a look through the forum. If I am being perfectly honest, I don't think posting on it would help right at this moment - just writing this blog is exhausting me, but I have book-marked it for the future. Thank you again.

Mars: It's a strange one, but I often asked my mother if I was either adopted or unwanted when I was a teen. There are 8 years between me and my brother, and it seemed a hell of a long time between kids. During one spell of ED, I went for Neuro-Linguistic Programming in Muscat. The bloke took me on a type of hypnotised 'time-line' regression. At one point, I started screaming that I was going to be aborted. Weird. I have often wondered since if I was an unwanted child.

Learn to love yourself. Crikey, it feels like I have been trying to do that for years. I would definitely get a D- in that!

Heather: Thanks for dropping in. And again, thanks so much for the promo - you have no idea how many referrals you are bringing in here!!

My brother suffered at their hands, too - he became so introverted. He didn't have a friend in the world. What a solitary man. He hasn't spoken to me for years, and literally left home without telling a soul. I don't think he is in touch with them, but the last time I did attempt to talk to him, he cut me dead. I suspect he wants nothing to do with any of us because of his own painful memories.

If I ever thought I was abusing my girls, I don't know what I would do. Thank God they love me and Ian, and we them, so very much. They are our world.

Itsonlymagic: Thank you for visiting. And thank you for your compliments.

If I ever speak to my mother again it will be too soon. And that is a fact.

Keli: It is surprising how many people seem to have had bad parents, isn't it? You sometimes think you are the only one, and then it comes out of the woodwork. I don't recall a single one of my friends having bad parents - indeed, I was green with envy at the relationships some girls had with their Dads.

I'm trying to get that faith in myself and I do believe this blog is helping me to distance myself from everything. It's a long haul, it's painful, it's traumatic, and it hurts Ian dreadfully, who is starting to look ill and is also losing weight. I worry about him.

But I also promise myself and him that things sometimes have to get worse before they get better. I firmly believe that they WILL get better, and not before too long.

Linda: Acceptance is the key thing, isn't it? You cannot change the past, no matter how much you would like to. That is something I am telling myself repeatedly. I will respond to your mail, but thank you so much for your advice and insight - it helped me immensely this morning.

Agnes Mildew said...

Karen: For some bizarre reason, at times, your comments don't come through to my Yahoo! address. I went in to moderate my own comment (typos!) and stumbled on yours.

Well, Paul and I simply don't speak. Ian advised me to call him about six months ago and he told me he 'didn't want to know'. As I have remarked in my comment to Heather, I think he just wants closure from all of us due to his own angst and memories. He doesn't even acknowledge his nieces any more...

Ian has been reading your Larrow Blog and we were discussing it yesterday afternoon. He is pained by what he reads. I have held up my hands and admitted that it is something I cannot look at just now - I read a few posts and then quailed. I can be terribly cowardly at times!

What is dawning on me, gradually, is a number of our generation of bloggers have suffered at the hands of our parents - Keli and Linda to name two - and now that we are parents ourselves, we have discovered the foresight and fortitude to do things very differently with our own. That's a really uplifting feeling for me. Rosemary, in a very angry mood some weeks ago, told me by text, I was just like my mother. I was cut to bits by that...she later retracted, told me it had been said to hurt, that it was a lie, and she really didn't mean it.

If she ever said it with total lucidity, I would take a shotgun to myself...

Karen ^..^ said...

So sad. Our kids really have no frame of reference, so what they say, to them, has no real power, but they fail to realize just how badly they can hurt us. I know Rosemary didn't mean it, but many times I've told my kids, "I may be your mother, and you don't see me as a real person, but guess what? I have feelings just like you do and they get hurt very easily, in fact, more easily than most, as what you say affects me more than what anyone else says, because I love you so much." Wow, that was a run on sentence, but I have truly come to know over the years that the kids really don't know what we went through, thank God, and will never know. This means we are really doing what we wanted all along: giving them better than what we had. Sometimes, I'll admit, that can backfire at times. In the form of seemingly cruel words, and hurtful manipulations. But they really do not mean it. Because they just can't know.

Please do not read the Larrow blog yet. And if it is disturbing to Ian, tell him to stop too. He has a lot to keep up with already. He has three blogs to update! LOL.

floramel said...

I'm glad I was able to help. Do what makes you feel comfortable. (In regards to the toxic families forum) Sometimes (at least with me) knowing it's there is enough.

Agnes Mildew said...

Floramel: Bless you for taking the time to return and write. I am actually going to go and read it all now...

I think it's about time I looked at things with eyes wide open.

Thank you.