Wicked witch

I am feeling a little emotional this morning. As I watched breakfast tv they were talking about a man charged with abduction and coercive control having his sentence increased.

Normally whenever anything involving coercive control is on TV it makes me either angry or reflective. Today it made me feel emotional. I have no idea why I had this reaction today.

Thinking about my past. What was it like living with coercive control? To be honest it took a long long time to realise that that was the case. In those days I had never heard of that phrase. It became more familiar a few years after I got out of that situation, when law was changed to make it a criminal offence. When I was going through it, the more common name was emotional abuse.

Domestic abuse as we generally think of it is violent. Although victims can be in denial, believing that their partner can/will change or that they themselves are at fault. Domestic abuse is recognisable.

Emotional abuse is much more subtle. When my family were small it didn’t occur to me that there was anything odd about the other parent checking up on me constantly. This was before the days of mobile/cell phones. If I missed a call I had to account for where I had been, even if it was just chatting to other mums after the school run.

Being isolated from friends was so gradual that I didn’t recognise it for what it was. I was told that my friends were using me, I would be better off without them. I only had one friend who he approved of.

I wanted to work part time to earn extra money. He would be late home from work or the pub so that I couldn’t get to work on time. I needed him to take over looking after the children. It got so bad that I began thinking I was becoming unemployable because I was so unreliable. Looking back I see now that he didn’t want me doing anything away from the home or mixing with other people.

As the years went by and mobile phones were common place, the checking up increased. I might only be with my mother but the calls would be constant. On the rare occasions I was going out he would get home at the very last minute so that I never knew if I would be able to go out. 9 out of 10 times there would be an emergency that meant I had to rush home early.

How many times over the years was I told that I was “Fat, stupid with a brain like a seive.”

I could go on but I don’t want to.

When I divorced the other parent I was granted a quick divorce in 6 months. It was only recently that I realised my family probably think I divorced their father because he is an alcoholic. Although his alcoholism was a problem it wasn’t why I divorced him.

I am now aware that at least one of my sons never noticed that anything was amiss (other than the drinking), he didn’t have anything to compare our family with.

Part of me feels that I am glad they didn’t notice the abuse that I experienced. Another part of me thinks that maybe they should know about it. Perhaps if this was talked about more then it would happen less frequently. If everyone knew more about the subtleties involved in coercive control, victims could recognise the signs before it’s too late for them.

I can’t decide whether I should talk to my now grown up sons about what life was like for me when they were growing up. They already have a poor opinion of their father but are now building bridges with him. I don’t want to destroy that for them.

I have just remembered what I called this post. When I told my mother in law that I was divorcing her son her response was that she was surprised I has stuck it out so long. However her attitude towards me soon changed when she realised that her son would have to move out of the family home (that took 7 months). Suddenly I became the wicked witch turning her son out of his home.

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When

There is a post on Facebook. When did you last hug your dad?

There are many responses with dates being the day of or days before their fathers died. My dad died in January 1995. I didn’t hug him the day he died. He died suddenly of a heart attack.

I didn’t hug him the last time I saw him. To be honest I hadn’t hugged him in many many years. Searching my memory I can’t recall hugging him although I am pretty sure I did as a child. When I was little he took great delight in tickling me. We were touchy feely when I was a small child. However even before I became a teenager the distance had already begun.

Neither of my parents were huggy or kissy people. I have always felt that my dad had no idea how to be part of a family. He was sent off to boarding school when he was 7. His sister is 10 years younger than him. By the time he left school she was at boarding school herself. I don’t think I remember either of my parents telling us kids that they love us. I know that they did love us though.

Even now my mother doesn’t enjoy hugs. She doesn’t like being touched. There have been times in my adult life when I have given my mother a hug. It is awkward because it isn’t natural but there have been times when she has needed a hug even if she doesn’t realise it. Now that my family have grown up they and their partners give her a hug. She accepts those but they still don’t come naturally to her.

Growing up I would see how other families interacted. It made me sad not to have that with my family. When I had my own children I vowed to be different. Everyday I made sure that there were lots of kisses and cuddles. I told them every day that I love them. Unfortunately their father was somewhat like my father, not knowing how to show his love for his children. He would ask me to tell them that he loved them.

After we divorced I had a few relationships. I always asked the new man whether he hugged his children and told them he loved them. They all said yes.

My boys have all grown up to be affectionate young men. Two are now fathers themselves. I can see the difference between them and their father and mine.

My sister in law tells me that my brother is so affected by the lack of affection growing up that he also has difficulty showing affection to his children.

I have many friends who hug everyone, I’m not like that but over the years I have become more comfortable with giving hugs but I am selective over who gets a hug from me.

Hopefully my family will teach their children and eventually their grandchildren that affection is wonderful to have and give.

Do you come from an affectionate family or one like mine?

Once, twice three times a doctor.

This morning my day started with a very long chat with my sister in law. We keep up with what each other is doing via Facebook buts it’s been ages since we had one of our long phone chats.

Not long after that my phone rang. It was the hospital. (Not the one I usually go to). They have got the results of my latest blood tests. I am now booked in for a telephone appointment on Tuesday afternoon.

Half an hour later another phone call from the hospital. This was a wrong number as I am not and never have been called Mary.

I have been feeling out of sorts today. I have had some news that although not altogether unexpected still shook me up a bit. I felt the need for cake. So before putting out my books I went to the shop. I was wandering around at a slow plod when my phone went off again.

This time it was the doctor I spoke to 2 weeks ago. She apologised that everything wasn’t progressing as fast as she had hoped. My latest blood test shows that my iron level is steady. Still very low due to iron deficiency.

She has prescribed iron tablets but I’m not to start them until I have had my telephone consultation with the hospital. Depending on how they want to proceed the iron tablets might be a no no. She says my vitamin b12 is ok, on the low end of the range but not too low.

At the moment everything hinges on this telephone call on Tuesday. I want to get this sorted out but I’m worried about what it will lead to.

I’m not looking too far into the future just taking it one step at a time.

I had been hoping to write something light hearted today as my last few posts have been a bit depressing. Maybe tomorrow I will have something happier to post.

Alcohol and the family

A couple of days ago I noticed that someone had been having a good look around this blog. Whether it was someone I know or not I don’t know. That someone had looked at lots of posts including one called where has my dad gone.

As i scrolled through the list of posts looked at I knew what most of them were about but this one puzzled me. My dad died in 1995. So it couldn’t be about him. This particular post was written back in 2015.

Reading it again it took me a little while to remember it. I was describing a visit to one of my sons in London. On the way to the flat he shared with his now wife and another couple. They stopped at a local shop. Whilst they were inside (I was waiting outside with my youngest son). A drunk was ejected from the store.

When my other son came out he asked “where has my dad gone?” I knew instinctively what he was on about. Growing up with an alcoholic father had an impact on my boys. This particular son could do a very accurate impression of his dad when he was drunk.

When my two eldest sons were going off to university within a week of each other I wanted to take my boys out for a drink. All four of them chose non alcoholic drinks even though two were old enough to drink and one was 17.

All four boys are now adults (2 are fathers) they do all drink now but only moderately. As a young adult my eldest son used to be the designated driver when out with mates. My second son was usually the one taking care of his drunken mates. Although I have heard a few tales of his drunkenness. My younger two are not keen on alcohol.

Talking about it earlier my mother commented that when she came to our house once when eldest was about 8 or 9 he told her. ” If you have come to see my part time father, he’s at the pub”. It is sad that from a very young age he knew the telephone number of the pub off by heart. ( Before mobile phones).

As a family our lives revolved around the pub even if we were not in one. If we went anywhere at the weekends we had to be back before the pub opened. My husband couldn’t cope with getting there after the door was unlocked. During the day his friends would come and go but he would still be there.

He would frequently phone home to say he would be back in half an hour. Other times he wanted me to fetch him. When I did (with boys in tow) he would need to finish his drink. I always refused to have a drink. Sometimes it would take several hours before he managed to leave. Often I just left him there and went home.

My boys grew up knowing that their father was very good at making promises. Not good at keeping them. They learnt never to expect him to keep a promise. He would buy them play station games or football shirts to make up for not being there. I lost count of the birthdays he missed because he was five minutes away in the pub. I don’t know where he got the money for his guilt gifts. We never had enough money for the bills.

I learnt over the years that everything was an excuse to drink. Bad day at work, good day at work, hot day, wet day. Money worries or me being annoyed with him.

After I divorced him he was upset that he didn’t want to be a weekend father. I said that would be an improvement. He would arrange to see the boys. Not do much the eldest as he was off leading his own life. Frequently he would either cancel seeing them or he wanted them to lend him money for cigarettes or beer or both. When they did see him I would drop them off. Happy to have some me time. It never lasted. I think 2 hours was the longest before I got the plea from them to pick them up.

I am happy to say that he gave up drinking about 4 or maybe it’s 5 years ago now. He is better for it. He is trying hard to rebuild his relationship with his sons and have a good relationship with our grandchildren.

Since i moved back here to live with my mother I see him regularly. He has been a great help to both of us in the last couple of years. I wouldn’t go back to him but we are at least friends now.

There’s no helping some people

I have been talking to mother about care/nursing homes. She was saying that when my grandfather went into a care home and then a nursing home she didn’t give him any choice of where to go. She chose for him. Both homes were friendly and suited his needs and ours. I particularly liked visiting him in the care home although it was an hour drive for us.

When it was time for him to move to a nursing home we found one closer to us here. I was able to visit on my way home from work. I’m not going to say that he was happy there. I’m not sure he was happy. He was comfortable and well cared for. Unlike many of the other residents he still had his mind in full working order. He missed having anyone to talk to properly.

Mother has made a mental list of things she wants to take with her when/if she needs to go into a care home. She knows which paintings, books and music she wants and if possible her laptop if the home has WiFi. I have suggested several times in the last couple of years that maybe she should consider which homes would suit her otherwise she will be going where ever I find.

Talking of having WiFi reminded me of when my husband sold our marital home. He was 64 and having difficulty looking after himself and our home. I found a flat in sheltered accommodation for him. He checked it out and decided to buy one of the flats there. Not the one I found but another one.

The plan was that he would move straight from the house to the flat. Obviously he would have to sell/store most of the furniture. About two weeks before the planned move he had a meeting with the warden of the flats. This did not go well. Apparently they don’t have facilities for broadband which he needed for his graphic design work. They were also not happy that he wanted to work. (He hadn’t worked during our marriage).

I found him bed and breakfast accommodation to move into until he found somewhere permanent. Instead of a few weeks as originally planned he was there for 9 months. Finally finding a top floor studio flat. (Not ideal for someone who has frequent falls). He has now been in that flat for 2 years. The last time I spoke to him he still didn’t have any internet service connection. His ability to use technology is zero.

I don’t know if it is still the case but at the start of the year he had been having someone check on him weekly and meals delivered daily. He could have avoided so much hassle and be in a much nicer flat than the studio flat he now has if he had bought the original place where he would have had a warden checking on him.

Considering that he can’t use his computer. He can’t even get his TV working and he certainly doesn’t work. It would have been ideal for him. In a much nicer area and close to the town.

Even after leaving him I still did what I could to help him. I’ve stopped now.

Not caring

Throughout my adult life I have been caring. I guess it began when I was a child. I didn’t do the caring for but I cared. I cared about my mum and dad and one of my younger brothers. Not so much the youngest he was a bully to us.

Anyway as an adult I had my children to care for. I was 25 when my first born came into my life. This baby that needed me to care for and be responsible for. Over the next 8 years his three brothers arrived. I loved caring for my children although there were times when I didn’t want to be a mother anymore. It was such hard work.

When I reached the stage where I could no longer tolerate being married to their father I did everything I could to be strong enough to continue caring for my children. Their father threatened to have them taken away from me. He could prove that I wasn’t a good mother. As if!

Once their father had finally left our home by court order. It was just me and my four sons. The two older boys were starting to make their way in the world, but they still needed me to care for their well being. I was a single parent for about 5 years before I met husband number 2.

Little did I know that I would become my second husband’s carer pretty quickly after we married. My sons grew up and left home but I still had to look after my alcoholic husband. I had hoped that during this marriage we would be partners looking after each other.

Eventually i had had enough and left my husband. Moving in with my mother whilst I got my life in order. I was looking forward to living on my own with nobody else to care for.

That wasn’t to be. Gradually I found myself doing things for my mother who was becoming increasingly disabled. I am now her full time carer.

I would say that I have probably had less than s year of not having to care for someone other than myself. Even during the time after leaving my husband I still didn’t stop caring. I might not have been living with him but I was still making sure he had food, money etc. I was still taking care of his paperwork. Sorting out his insurance, car tax and other bills. I became his unpaid secretary and personal assistant. I visited him in hospital.

It has now been 3 months since I last heard from him so I guess I am not now caring for him. I have enough on my plate caring for myself and my mother.

On this sunny day

Apparently the lovely sunny weather of the last few days ends today. As from tomorrow it’s meant to be wet and windy for several days. This morning we had a couple of visitors. One being the man with the dog. The other being the gardener. The lawn got its first cut of the year much to the annoyance of the dog who stood at the window barking at the lawn mower. I went out this afternoon to collect and put out some Avon books. It was refreshing to be out in the sunshine. On my travels I made a small detour to pick up mum’s prescription.

Whilst we have had visits from the squirrels they have not been up to much mischief today.

I’m preparing to start growing some of my seeds ready to go out into the garden once we stop having frosts in the mornings. I don’t have anywhere suitable to grow them so I am going to use a tray on the dining table to put the small propagators that I have bought. I am planning to grow nasturtiums (they can go strait in the garden), california poppies plus 25,500 mixed flower seeds suitable for pollinators. I am also going to try some freesias and I have some out of date seeds that I am hoping will be ok. Larkspur, foxgloves and hollyhocks.

Last year my mother kept telling people that I had suddenly become a gardener! No mother, I have always done gardening in all my previous homes. I wanted a pretty garden and had nobody to do it for me so I had to do the gardening. When I met my second husband he was a part time gardener. I let him do 90% of the gardening at our home as I was working full time and he wasn’t. Just like I let him take care of our cars. He used to ask me why I didn’t check the oil etc. I told him that as he was a petrol head I would give him that pleasure after all if I had a dog I wouldn’t bark .There were many chores that I had stopped doing when I married him. I would tell him that it wasn’t that I couldn’t do these things but I no longer had to do them as I had him to do them for me (that was the theory).

Getting back to gardening. Last year, the weather was good during the spring. I wasn’t going out anywhere and wanted colour in a garden that is mostly mature shrubs so I set about filling pots and tubs with seeds. Because of my health I wasn’t able to do any heavy gardening. I still can’t do as much as I would like but hopefully I can do more than last year.

In January we had a new fence erected I have already hung coloured pots with individual polyanthas plants on the fence.

Not on my neck!

I missed the start of the item on the news so I only caught the end of it. A lady was speaking about not wearing polo neck jumpers. It was something about her neck. At first I thought she had had her thyroid removed. As the news item continued I became confused. The journalist was talking about domestic violence.

I have never claimed to be a victim of domestic violence. I was a victim of emotional abuse/coercive control. However during our divorce, (a time when we still lived in the same house for 7 excruciating months). He thought it was funny to put his hands around my neck on an almost daily occurrence. He didn’t use pressure, he never left any marks.

He was aware that I didn’t like anything around my neck so he used it as a form of mental torture.

I hadn’t given it much thought in the last 15 years but having said that it does limit my choice in clothing. I can’t wear anything with a high neckline. Anything that is anywhere near my neck and I start to panic.

15 years later we are friends now. It helps having two grandchildren in common. He was here (as our support bubble) for coffee and a chat this morning. We don’t talk about the bad times. However I don’t think I will ever wear a high necked top/jumper again. Just thinking about it gives me the shivers.

Mr Blue Sky

The sun has been out today and the sky has been oh so blue. Apparently many have rushed to the beaches and parks to make the most of this lovely day. Out on my rounds delivering to my Avon customers I saw many people working on their gardens.

Every time I think about how blue the sky has been. (Not now the light is fading and it will soon be dark.) I consider bursting out into song. One particular song, yes you guessed it Mr Blue Sky by ELO. There was a time when my youngest son was but a boy this was one of his favourite songs.

I have refrained from singing. I don’t sing very often these days. Sometimes when I am listening to music through my earphones I just can’t resist singing along, much to my mother’s amusement. She wouldn’t be so amused if I burst into full song. I used to love singing at the top of my voice when driving along the motor way, windows open radio turned up high. I don’t do this anymore mainly because I no longer have a daily drive along the motorway to and from work.

I used to sing a lot in my car. I kind of but not really feel sorry for the lads who I would take to football training and matches along with my own sons. The rule was if you are in my car, you have no choice but to put up with my singing. Singing made me happy. Singing helped me to get over headaches. My second husband played guitar and was in a band in his younger days. He was passionate about music but I never ever heard him sing. He found it amusing that I sang. He even said that now and again I was even in tune!

On the one hand I would say that I am tone deaf so singing wasn’t one of my talents. On the other hand I have often said that I am very good at singing the only problem is that other people don’t have the ability to hear it properly.

Who has a talent that others don’t appreciate and what is it?

I’m not like them

I have often been told that I come from a long line of strong women. I am told that I am a strong woman too. I have memories of my Great Grandmother Alice but only as a very old woman. I have memories of my paternal Great Gran (mostly of having to stay with her and being fed undercooked eggs for breakfast). I understand that both these women were strong willed women in their day.

I obviously have memories of both my Granny and my Grandmother. My Granny was one of my favourite people in the world. I can’t in all honesty say that I knew a great deal about her life but I loved her dearly. She was taken away from us far too soon, She had a massive heart attack in the night when she was just 67. My Grandmother was a lady who I wasn’t so close to when I was growing up. I grew closer to her in her later years. How many women in their 90s complete a degree with the Open University.

My own mother has always been strong. My father wasn’t inclined/able to support us properly so my mother trained (whilst bringing up 3 teenagers) to become a Lawyer. Life wasn’t easy for my mother when we were small. She did what she could to make a better life for all of us.

During my adult life I have been reminded by my mother that we are strong women. I have been told by others that I am so strong. I struggled to bring up 4 boys whilst being married to an alcoholic. I survived stage 3 cancer in my late 30s. I fought to get through a nasty divorce. I managed to keep myself and 4 boys going through financial struggles following my divorce. Then I remarried and found myself hitched to another alcoholic who was also a narcissist. I managed to get out of that situation.

All my life I have been reminded that I am strong and come from a line of strong women. I’m not though. I have never felt strong. I have done what I had to do for my boys. I have always felt that I have to get through everything because I come from a line of strong women. I can’t let the side down and be the first non strong woman.

I want to be allowed not to be strong. I want to not have the responsibility of keeping up with my strong women.

WHY do I have to always be strong?