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?

This is My Life

In a few months I shall hit that milestone birthday the big Six O. For nearly 40 years I have been running my own household.

For the last 4 weeks my mother has been in hospital with a broken ankle.

I know that being stuck in hospital with not much to do leaves a lot of time to over think things.

When I visited her the other day she asked me how I am coping being on my own running the house. She asks if I have enough money, am I eating enough.

On the radio a little while ago I heard the words of the great Billy Joel. He says exactly how I’m feeling.

This is my life, just leave me alone. For years I have wished that I lived alone. One day that will happen but not until my mother eventually goes into a nursing home.

In the meantime let me enjoy these weeks of living to my own timetable. I can eat what I want when I want. I can do what I want without keeping an eye on the clock (except for visiting time).

I know that no matter my age my mother will always think of me as her little girl. I know how hard it was for her when she thought she would lose me to cancer but that was 20 years ago.

All my life I have felt that my mother is disappointed in me. She says that isn’t so, but it’s how I have felt. It doesn’t help when she talks to me as though I am a child who has to be supervised at all times. I know that isn’t what she thinks.

In hospital she complains to me that the staff talk to the patients as though they are children.

I don’t know how that feels … Much!

Getting everything organised for when my mother comes home has been exhausting, especially as my energy levels are still so very low. I am enjoying being able to pretend that this is my life for a while at least.

It’s dark down here

Over the last few months I have reluctantly come to the realisation that once again I am suffering from depression.

Depression has been part of my life on and off for the last 40 years. Most of the time I manage to keep it at bay. I try to be a cheerful happy person. Now and again I have off days. Every few years it goes beyond that.

Seeing as this has not been my first bout of depression, I am able to recognise it even though I tried so hard to reject it.

My feeling of sadness, sleeping all the time, being disheartened at everything. Even the simplest of chores are a huge effort, have gone on for too long to be ignored now.

My advice to anyone else would be go see your Dr. So why have I not done this myself? I don’t see any point in seeing a Dr this time around. They have two solutions, drugs and or therapy.

In the past I have been prescribed anti depressants. I hated the way they made me feel as though I was walking an inch off the ground. I felt like I had no control.

After taking a couple of different ones over the years I vowed not to touch them again. I understand that for many people these tablets can be helpful.

To my mind they mask the problem without getting to the bottom of it. They might make you feel able to carry on but don’t solve the reason you got depression in the first place.

Way back in my early 20s I had a severe bout of depression. So bad that I had to give up my job. I felt I couldn’t survive the next hour let alone the next day. Obviously I managed to get through it. I asked my Dr if I could have councelling instead of drugs. A councellor came to see me at home. (Once). He was changing jobs, nobody came again. Even that one session talking through my problems helped me get back on track

Because I was out of work due to my mental state I needed to sign on for unemployment benefit as it then was. I had to give my reason for being out of work. How could I say that it was my severe depression. In those days any mention of having problems with mental health were taboo. Finding a new job would be difficult in the future if I explained the gap in employment was my mental health.

Anyway further down the line and several bouts of depression later I asked for help. All my Dr could offer was for me to self refer myself for councelling. I did that but it was several months before I was even offered any sessions (by phone not even in person).

So now here I am again. I don’t want to be prescribed medication. There is no point in asking for councelling. I know the reasons (yes there are more than one) for my current depression. Neither of my most pressing problems are going to be solved by councelling.

Firstly, my health is my biggest reason. Dealing with the aftermath of my cancer treatment 20 years ago. I am only too well aware that my insides are eroding. My bladder is nolonger an issue as I am now a bag lady. Oh yes I have recently decided to name my stoma Betty. Because life isn’t great but it’s Better than it would be without Betty. I am currently going through more scans, cameras and investigations to figure out the next course of action to give me some quality of life.

I am fed up of this body which constantly lets me down. The good days are now less frequent than the bad days. I am acutely aware of how my insides feel nearly all the time. If I get up in the night to visit the bathroom, I then spend anything up to another two hours waiting for my stomach to either settle down or send me rushing back to the bathroom. This can be two or three time a night.

I have a very limited diet, not only being diabetic but also fibre intolerant. I have many windy days/nights. I get bloated. I find eating meals increasingly difficult. I’m better off picking at food.

So although I am aware that my body problems are causing me to feel so bad, there is no quick fix. Hopefully after the endoscopy I am having next week my consultant will have a better idea of what he can do for me. I am due to have my appendix out sometime in the new year.

I would imagine that any further surgery won’t be until later next year. If I’m lucky I could be in a better place this time next year.

As if that wasn’t enough I am finding living with and caring for my mother is making me depressed too.

I do love my mother, I am also grateful for a place to live. What can I say. I don’t mind picking up after her, just generally being her housemaid ( she nicknamed me Daisy). We are now starting to get into the realms of personal care. I am not made that way. Caring for my children was one thing. Caring for an adult, even my own mum is not something I care to do and she doesn’t want me to either.

I’m not sure how much is her MS and how much her declining years possibly even early onset dementia but her memory is going. Anyone seeing her for a short time wouldn’t notice but in her day to day living it is becoming more noticeable to me. I don’t know how much she has noticed.

What is really making me depressed about all this is that I feel trapped. Living with my mother is not too dissimilar to living with my alcoholic husbands. Yes there were two of them. Not at the same time obviously.

Getting my mum out of the house is extremely difficult. When I go out on my own. I can guarantee that if I’m more than a couple of hours even if she knows it will be. Like my four hour round trip to see my granddaughter for her birthday. I will get a phone call asking when I’m coming home.

Before covid I was visiting my son and his family every 6 to 8 weeks, staying overnight so I could spend time with my little grandson. Now I don’t feel confident enough to stay away overnight.

It was bad enough when I was in hospital. I was speaking to her on the phone twice a day and my ex was checking on her daily.

Since then she has become more reliant on me at night too

Although I have now been living with my mother for more that three years I don’t feel that this is my home. It is the place I live. I know that there are so many people who are worse off than me. That just makes me feel guilty for not being happy.

I try not to let it worry me, I will be ok when the time comes. My future is uncertain. This house belongs to my mother. I live here rent free. If my mother dies whilst living at home the house will be sold and divided between myself and my two brothers. That’s not such a problem, I will find somewhere to live. What I don’t know is, what I will do if she has to go into a home. The house will go towards paying for her care.

So I know that any amount of councelling is not going to sort out my problems. Only time can do that.

When will it end?

What with all my poor health of late. I just wonder what life has in store.

I have numerous friends dealing with horrific health problems. No I’m not the only one.

Then last week my gorgeous, smart, loving daughter in law had surgery last week for an ectopic pregnancy. That would be bad enough but this was the second in under a year. Making this not only a tradgedy in itself but life changing for her and her little family. She so wanted a second child.

Several months ago I learnt that my best friend from school had lung cancer. If that wasn’t bad enough her brother died of covid at the start of the year. My friend and I had lost touch for a number of years when our children were young. In those days there were no mobile phones and no internet. I found her again through Facebook about 8 years ago.

We both had busy lives and always promised we would meet up again at some point. I had moved away from the area 33 years ago. Our communication was intermittent but we were still in each others thoughts. During one of our more recent communications I had promised that providing I was well enough I would make the effort to go and see her this summer.

Unfortunately it is now too late. My dear friend passed away peacefully yesterday morning.

Why is it that the good people in this life have to suffer so much.

How have I come to this?

This afternoon I need to drive to the other side of Southampton for a covid test. I haven’t been that way for years. I know the way to where I need to be. It is only 20 miles each way.

There are roadworks most of the way from here to there. Those who think they know best are turning our motorway into a “smart motorway”. The rest of us think it’s a waste of time energy and money not to mention unsafe. I am going to give myself an hour to get there just in case of delays.

Even just a few years ago I would have thought nothing of doing this journey. I enjoyed driving and often made journeys of several hundred miles. Now I am feeling anxious about it.

When did I change. Has my joy of driving stopped suddenly or has it crept up on me slowly?

Since having this new car I have only stayed local. Maybe going a bit further today will help. I have been driving automatic cars for a few years but this one is manual. I had forgotten how often you have to change gear when driving around town. Perhaps driving along the motorway will help. Either way it isn’t going to stop me going to other places when required, it just might need more mental preparation.

The domino effect

It feels to me that I am experiencing the domino effect. Each domino that falls knocks the next which then leads to the next.

Dominoes

Each time I have any serious health issues I get radical treatment which cures the problem.

Unfortunately that treatment leads to another serious problem. That then gets treated but then leads to the next problem.

I am currently waiting for a date to have an endoscopy to rule out cancer. I’m feeling a bit anxious if truth be told.

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.

Fractured not broken

The other night and it was at night I wrote a post about waiting. I wrote it because I had been reading Abbie Greaves book The end of the Earth. It had taken me back to when I was a young adult. I couldn’t sleep because of the thoughts going round and round in my head. Once I had written it and I apologise I didn’t read it through so there are bound to be errors.

One of my new blogging friends Bitchy after 60 commented that with everything I have been through it would have broken most people.

That post only scratched the surface of what my life has been like in the last 50+ years. I’m not broken yet. I have many emotional fractures and my body is falling apart but nothing has broken me yet.

Last night mother asked if I had experienced depression or anxiety in the last year. The question was in relation to the covid-19 pandemic. The answer is no. I am lucky to have technology that has allowed me to keep in contact with family and friends. I could also order whatever I needed online. I also have plenty to keep me occupied. My garden, reading, knitting etc.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced anxiety or feeling in low spirits. I have but more in respect of my health than the pandemic.

Besotted granny

One of my friends has joined the besotted granny brigade. Her granddaughter is 4 months old and she is so in love with her.

For years I said I wasn’t ready to become a granny. I hadn’t finished being a mother. Then a few years ago I started to worry about my health etc, that was when it hit me that if my sons didn’t hurry up and start having children I would be to old/ill to enjoy them.

Three years ago I became a granny for the first time. I instantly fell in love with my grandson. Teddy is three now. I was afraid that he wouldn’t know who I am what with covid restrictions and them living in London. Video calls were me watching him play whilst I chatted to his daddy. The other week when lockdown rules were eased I got to spend time with him in the garden (very cold). Then last week on his birthday we had a video call where he actually talked to me. He showed me his toys and books. Today we had another video call with him interacting with me. He knows that I am granny. I love this new stage in our relationship.

19 months ago my eldest son provided me with a granddaughter. After 4 sons and a grandson I was delighted to finally have a girl in the family. She has always been used to video calling with her other family and with me so she has always been interactive. When she visited our garden the other week she would take gammy by the hand to look at things or fill her little watering can.

We also had a video call today. She tells me lots of things that I don’t always understand but her speech is coming along well.

This granny is besotted with both my grandchildren.