Thursday, 5 January 2012

I'm normally funnier than this when talking about suicide. Honest.

This is a little bit depressing. It also has to come with a trigger warning for child abuse and mistreatment of women, with a little nod towards racism and homophobia. Also a spoiler alert if you haven't read/seen the last Harry Potter. Come back tomorrow if you like your humour to be suicidal-thought-free when there may or may not be a post on the joys of working part-time service jobs, depending on where my thought train goes over the next 24 hours and whether or not I can get myself to get on with my essays...

By the way my internet's gone down, so the timings in this post probably won't fit in with the time that the submit button actually works. Just pretend it's early hours in Britain when you read this.

The other night I was talking to my paternal grandmother about some memories from my childhood, when we got onto the topic of when things had gone wrong. She suddenly forgot about all of the other things that we'd discussed before this and asked me if I had any good memories of her from my childhood, as she feels that if my father were to be listened to she was the worst mother in the world and the only parent he had was my grandfather. This got me thinking about how odd I feel talking about happy memories of my father. Although I don't go around introducing myself with "Last time I willingly exchanged words with my father I told him that if he hit me again I'd be calling the police." when asked by friends I do sometimes use those words as a quick summary that covers the fact that I don't speak to my father, want nothing to do with him, and why I have come to make the decision to get away from him, therefore eliminating the need for further questions beyond the "Where are you spending Christmas" that I get if the subject is raised in the November-December period. So when telling stories about my childhood that include playing games with my father, I sometimes feel that my friends will think that I'm exaggerating or lying about the fact that he is a far less than plesant man on a whole. When in my tweens I would refer to him in my head as 'Daddy' and 'the Bastard', and would look for signs as to which one was in the room/car when I came into contact with him to see how to behave. I actually have some memories of some very fun times with my father, and I'm sure that all of his exes have some very good memories of their time with them, otherwise he wouldn't have managed to get them into, and keep them in a relationship that was sapping them of all of their feelings of self worth and esteem.

Unfortunately the majority of people don't realise how utterly charming abusers have to be to get away with things, not only in keeping the person involved quiet and willing to put up with the bad, (as the abuser convinces the person that they couldn't get the good without staying dependant to them and that they need the good) but also in not being suspected by the person's friends and family (but in my case doctors, social services, schools and numerous councillors) of being responsible for changes in the person's behaviour/demeanour or increased physical problems. When working as a Sabbatical Officer in the Students' Union last year, my father started phoning reception on a daily basis asking for me (he must have heard about my job from my sister, aunt and cousins). This coincided with the Census, so I assume that as I always took care of his official paperwork he was wanting to get me to deal with the form for him, despite not having wanted any contact with him for almost 3 years. I said to the receptionists that I didn't want to speak to him, and gave the line that covers most bases (which, as it was February/March, covered all) and they expressed shock as he 'sounded so charming on the phone'. People don't realise that men who can convince educated and successful women to become dependant on self-important, sexist, uneducated, unemployed, fat bastards and convince everyone that they come in contact with that they don't need to be locked up for eternity is by being the most extremely charming person most people will ever meet. Which makes it harder for people to ask for help amongst their friends and family who know their abuser. When I made the decision to try and get help when my stepmother was abusing me I went to my grandmother, who immediately went to my stepmother to speak about the issue. She was as charming as only a psychotic bitch who abuses small children and tweens can be, as far as I was aware my grandmother then did nothing. My stepmother then went to all of my family members telling them that I was spreading lies about her so that I had no one left to turn to. And I was, of course, punished for telling these lies.

I now know that when my grandmother was asked to take me to a hospital appointment for a condition I was suffering from as a result of my stepmother's abuse, she shared her thoughts on the issue with the doctor. The doctor had already suspected that my stepmother had something to do with my health problems from my demeanour around her and a specific previous appointment. I had asked my stepmother if I could go in alone before the appointment after I'd made the decision to ask for help, although I'm not sure if this was before or after I spoke to my maternal grandmother. She had refused to let me go alone and come in with me, then at the end of the appointment asked the doctor to speak with him in private, rubbing my nose in my helplessness because of my age. According to my grandmother, she had started to speak to the doctor about my stepmother during the appointment, however he had stopped her. Later on he'd sent me out to get a nurse to re-weigh and measure me to speak to my grandmother to get confirmation of his suspicions. He told my grandmother to make sure that my father took me to my next appointment, and my father left my stepmother shortly after speaking to the doctor. Unfortunately my father was charming enough to convince even the head of the local social services that he was an upstanding citizen, so I was stuck with him until I was pushed to take my chances on my own. I then realised that I'd have been much better off if I'd done this sooner.

The point of all of this is, I had intended to write about those happy memories with my father that I have been thinking about since my conversation with my grandmother. However today I found out that my father has been showing photographic evidence of how he treated some of the models and career women that he slept with/dated. He is apparently very into bondage, which makes sense for a guy who believes that men are superior to women but is surrounded by women who are more academically gifted, driven and successful than he is. This I have no problem with. Consenting adults can do whatever the hell they want. My problem is that he told his friends that these women had no idea that he'd gotten the camera out after blindfolding them. And then he shared these pictures with his friends. There's also the fact that in my teens I was constantly having to remove viruses off his computers (his room was like a computer graveyard, he was constantly getting new ones and having the hard drives of the old ones removed) and seeing unsavoury images. He always said that it was because he was going to websites full of jokes and pop-ups kept coming up and that he must be getting the viruses from these. I asked him if jokes were really worth it and why he couldn't just get some books or make wittier friends, however I knew he was visiting adult websites as, as I have mentioned before, I had walked in on him wanking after he'd gotten his laptop, and before this his bedroom door would only be locked when I could hear his computer on. Now I wonder if he was also contributing to these sites.

Today my maternal grandmother told me that she's been told about these photographs that he's been showing people, and then asked me if he'd ever touched me. I've never been able to properly talk about this subject with any of my friends, only skate around it with a couple of them when it was causing me problems and I wanted to try to talk to someone about it. So I just went for the easier "No." option since that can of worms is staying well and truly shut in face-to-face conversations. Perhaps one day I can use this as free counselling since the NHS and student councelling services are far too over-subscribed and when I have tried to speak to a councellor about these things before, I took so long trying to get to the main points that they decided I didn't have any problems I couldn't deal with and took me off their list.

So, instead of writing about my happy memories of my father at a time where I want to hurt him, badly, I was planning on writing my customer stories from the part-time jobs I've done on weekends and holidays. however it's taken me at least an hour and three quarters to write this (or 2 Big Bang Theories, an How I Met Your Mother, and a Scrubs) so I'll go back to trying to tell my life story in an amusing way tomorrow.

Just so you know, I do rely on self-depreciation in my humour, and some people take this as me moaning about my lot in life. I actually hated using the words 'abuse' and 'abuser' in this, but my housemate, who is one of the people I've tried to speak to about the subject my grandmother asked about, insists that I should use these words. However I hate them. I won't use 'abused' or, even worse, 'victim'. Shit fucking happens. People put up with a lot of crap in their lives. Some people, unfortunately, sink, or find it harder to swim than others do. Some of us get on with it and are made strong because of these things. Even those who struggle are made stronger despite having to keep up the fight not to sink over and over again. But although these experiences have made me push myself, led me to achieve what I have, and, hopefully, someday will mean that the drive they have given me will lead to me landing the Dream Job and making a difference with my life - they don't define me. I wouldn't be who I am without them, but they can fuck off if they think I'm going to let them stick a label on me.

Some people find labels comforting, help them understand things better. I know my stepmother had munchausen's by proxy syndrome and another doctor told my father that he believed that she has hystrionic personality disorder - which doesn't seem to exist and was described by him as something completely different to hysteronic personality disorder. I know that my father has a type of 'small man syndrome' where he is inferior to most people in that he is of below-average intelligence with very few qualifications, he has no drive, people he's not trying to charm dislike him, he has no regard for other people or the law beyond what they can do for him, and he's overweight and spends his days sleeping in an armchair. However he does everything he can to over-compensate for this and prove his superiority to himself beyond doing any actual work to improve himself. Whenever he has a job he spends his time finding ways to avoid work, and in doing so congratulates himself on his ingenuity in pulling the wool over people's eyes, regularly boasting about his antics to myself and all of his friends. As I've gotten older and come to speak to some of his former workmates I've found out that they were in no way fooled and made jokes about his laziness, hence why he's never kept a job. And in trying to find ways that he can be superior to others, the easiest way is to buy into the sexism, homophobia and racism that my paternal grandfather, for lack of a better term, 'suffered' from. And in trying to instill his superiority in his own mind, he must treat these people like shit. And as it's difficult for him to get homosexuals and people of a different ethnicity into a position where he can treat them in a way that proves his superiority without getting into a relationship with an 'ethnic' woman, which would bring him down in his own eyes as that would show others that he can't pull a white woman, he's left with mistreating women. And understanding all of this makes no bloody difference, because I still had the childhood that I had, both the good and the bad, my father and ex-stepmother are still making people suffer, and I still refuse to be the scared, hopeless little girl that I once was, whose only reason for not committing suicide was the fact that the coroner and someone in the funeral home would see her 'disgusting' body naked. (When I disclosed this to my housemate we both ended up laughing. Unfortunately I can't work out how to get the humour into that part of my past in written form given the context of this post.)

I fought hard to get out of there. I battled a lack of funds, academic support from both my family and my school (although a handful of teachers did what they could to help me along, which unfortunately was very little within the school's system) and illness to get to University whilst caring for a special-needs sister. I choose to be defined by the work that I've done, and hope yet to do, not things beyond my control. As Dumbledore said to Harry, it's his choices that made him different from Voldemort, and not even by putting a part of his own soul inside him could Voldemort force Harry to be someone that he didn't choose to be. I think I may have just compared myself to Harry Potter. I did have a bedroom beyond a cupboard under the stairs. I even had the largest bedroom in the house throughout most of my teenage years. So since I had my own bedroom growing up (except for sharing with my sister for most of my childhood), and I've never had anyone accidentally stick a part of their own soul in my body (as far as I'm aware - I'll keep you posted on that one) then I choose to be a volunteer, a Masters student, a part-time notetaker for students with disabilities, a graduate, and a future campaigner who will help others have their voices heard and make a difference to their own lives (and hopefully, perhaps, one day a girlfriend, fiancee, and, if he's worth taking the label on, wife.) I am not a victim, I am not the abused. My father, stalkers, attempted rapists, attackers, and everyone else in the world, can fuck right off if they think I'm carrying a label around that I haven't chosen or done anything to earn of my own accord.

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