I am not damaged 

I was sexually abused by my dad. 

It had happened throughout my whole childhood. And it only stopped when I blurted it out to my boyfriend at the time at 18. 

But I was able to go about my everyday without letting it stop me. Not just after he left, but whilst he was still around. I was the cheerful and friendly girl at school, top of my class without working too hard, loving to read and travel and put myself forward for every opportunity that came up. During the day I was normal. 

And come night time, I just accepted that was something that would happen for a few minutes. I lay perfectly still, did not open my eyes, did not say a word. 

And somehow I was able to compartmentalise the two realities completely. No one would have ever guessed that anything was wrong. 

A few months ago I found out about therapy offered to all employees. I told myself out loud “well why not?” But inside I whispered “you’re broken and need fixing.”  

Therapy was not particularly enlightening and I did not completely connect with my therapist. 

But what I did find was going made me rethink about those nights in detail – something I had never done before. And in doing so, I discovered he had absolutely no control over me. I was loving life and had not let that stop me from enjoying myself. I needed to hear that. I needed to know that I was not damaged and broken. 

We discussed how I blamed myself for what had happened, for not telling someone sooner and for being so passive. But I see now that I was being brave for my family – my mum, my sisters and my brother. 

The reality was a few minutes with him touching me in a way I knew was wrong was something I could manage. Him beating up my mum, leaving us with no money or the stigma of my mum being a divorcee was much worse. 

People think the worst part of what happened was what he did. But the worst part was living with him. He was a controlling, dangerous man. The kind that beat his wife when his sick baby cried in the night. The kind that would leave her with £20 for the whole week. The kind that would openly cheat on her, knowing she had no one to go to with four young children. 

And I was not passive. I recalled how I would wet the bed – even at the age of 16 and not wash myself to make myself dirty. Admittedly these were not conscious acts of resistants but I would like to think that they were unconscious ones.   

I do still have fleeting thoughts about what happened but it does not stop me from getting on with my day. I am able to love and am loved. My family are solid and successful. I am not broke or damaged. 

Written in response to my 30 day challenge prompt “what do you wear to bed”. 

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Two years gone by 

I look as I did two years ago. Not an inch taller, not a wrinkle wiser. In fact, I look as I did 10 years. Photos only revealing their age from the clothes I chose to wear.

So how have I changed in the last 2 years? Coincidently, this is not only the prompt for today’s “post a day“, but also the two year anniversary of my blog! Almost magic. Two years ago I began my career in a corporate company. Before then I had completed my masters and then worked in the charity sector. That in itself was a massive change for me. All of a sudden I was, by choice, in an environment and world I had spend much of my time the year before opposing. 

I started off hating life. Hating every morning. Spending time in the bathroom during work away from it all. Two years on, and I do still have days when I feel like this. But it’s not every day. 

That’s not to say I have given in. Quite the contrary. I know this is not the career I want, yet, I know what I am gaining from being there. And I have finally been able to distinguish between my life and my career. My job is not my life. As a woman who throws herself in fully, it took some growing to recognise this. My life exists outside of my career – for now. 

One day I may find a career that I am able to happily intertwine with my whole life. Colleagues that I consider to be friends, and even family. Work I can apply in the way I conduct my day to day. Values I can share in and out of the office. This is not it. And that’s ok. 

It is funny how I think of how I’ve changed over the last two years and focus on the area that, on the surface, hasn’t changed at all. Funny because when it comes to my personal life, so much has changed. 

I have been going to therapy (in response to my childhood sexual abuse) – and in fact next week will be my final session. And I am in a relationship with my best friend. Cheesy, I know. But cheesy I am. Those are deeper topics I’d like to dedicate a post each to. 

How have you changed in the last two years?

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to those badass dads I see on my timeline.

My father is not a badass. He is just a bad ass. To add some context – he abused his family, cheated on my mum and raped women, stole land of the local poor, was a horrendous son (my grandmother actually said he would see her when she dies and her wish came true), bullied me for wanting to succeed, never paid any child support after mum kicked him out, and I could go on but I don’t want to.

I did not need him. But I did want him. I did not learn how to ride a bike. I won’t have a dad for my future husband to ask permission to marry from and my brother doesn’t have a man to ask “man” questions to.

Shout out of course to my ammu for giving me more than I deserve and need. But that does not let him off the hook. He should have been better.

Whatever.

I do not need him.

Being a strong women

I think my mum is depressed. She asked me “why don’t I feel happiness inside?” And with those words I felt a little piece of me shatter as I realised she was the strong brown women. The unbreakable, not allowed to tremor.

I assume it began with the trauma of coming to a foreign land in the hope of a better life for her unborn children. Leaving her parents, siblings and the world she knows behind. Coming to this cold place where they never accept her, shout abuse and all she can do is smile back.

My dad beat her, emotionally tortured her and abused her children. This was not a secret – everyone knew. She had to bring us up on her own because dad was never around. He was earning the money but he’d keep her on a budget. She never treated herself. But the expectation is you stick with your husband for the sake of the children. And you pray for him. And you pray for yourself. And you keep going.

When mum had the strength to leave him, the whole community turned their backs on her. She heard people she did not even know talk about her. She worries about no one marrying her daughters because of it. She worries about her son growing up to be a d*ck and people blaming her for it. Her worries never stopped when the man left.

Our mums – black and brown women – expected to carry our burdens on their shoulders. They are the mythological superwoman: infallible, resilient, machines. Protect their men even when they betray them. Protect their children, their parents, their siblings. Our families include all our cousins – even 5 times removed.

But who looks out for them? Who asks them if they’re coping? If their shoulders need a break? You’re so strong, so brave they say. Keep smiling through the tears they advice. Poor mental health is not seen as an option. You keep praying. And you keep going.

Now prayer is a powerful thing. It has got me through the worst of times and I thank it for my best of times. But that does not mean poor mental health does not require treatment. You would not cut your finger off but just pray for it to fix itself.

But even my mum – the strongest women I know – refuses to get help. Perhaps because she doesn’t know what help could even be. She doesn’t want to take psychotics. And why does she need to speak to anyone when she can speak to God? It’s as if seeking help is admitting defeat and breaking the oath we are born into. The oath to care about everyone else’s needs and to carry all their pain.

And then there’s me, another brown women. Baring the weight of my mother’s pain, my sisters’ pains, my brothers’ pain. Now financially supporting my family because the tax man has decided my mum is not a single parent and so does not deserve benefits (they believe my dad still lives with us and won’t believe otherwise). Worrying about the my brother’s grades. Worrying about him being accused of being a terrorist because he is a brown boy with a beard. Worrying about my sisters getting their hearts broken. Worrying about my families, my friends, my world. Another strong girl doomed to be a strong women.

What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person – John Green, Paper Towns

Sticks and stones may break my bones but your words cut me deeper

I was going through my notes on my phone, deleting things that don’t mean anything anymore. And then across a note I had last updated in 19th January 2013. They contain the words of my ex. Words he would say whilst we were arguing. And I’d write them down so I would not go back to him but like a fool I always did. Even after all those years they still hurt and I’m so disappointed in myself for staying with it for so long.

Finally those words are deleted out of my life. And slowly but surely I am deleting the memorise of him out too.

Once a whore always a whore

Your tears don’t mean shit to me. You look pathetic when you cry

You’re such a pathetic little shit

What I said, ok it was wrong, but see how angry YOU make me?

Don’t call me again or I’ll chuck my phone in your face

Me: I love you

You: Whatever, bye