A Life Worth Living; Chapter Eleven

Updated on November 25, 2019
louiseelcross profile image

My journey of a life of abuse and how abuse affected ability to think clearly or trust another human being.

Source

The Care Home

The childrens' home and the system should have been a safe environment for us traumatised children that were placed in there care, but it was not. In the home, we had routine, clean beds and food on the table but no love.

We were expected to call all the staff aunty, as opposed to Mrs or Miss. Aunty May, was a skinny, bony, cruel bible bashing, old spinster and in charge of the home that I was to be in for the next two years. May only ever smiled when the social workers were about and I hated her falseness. She showed her true colours and her true cruel nature to us kids and I could not imagine that she had an ounce of kindness in her. I never saw her be nice to anyone.

Being the only member of staff that lived at the home on a permanent basis, May bullied and intimidated us all. Back then, aunty May seemed so huge in stature compared to me, and I was really scared of her. May would always stand with one fist clutched tightly against her chest. ‘I have a bone to pick with you, young lady’, she would croak like the old witch we thought she was. I always knew she was going to do something nasty to me or someone when I saw her in the dreaded stance. Whenever I caught her in that stance, in front of some quivering little child, I would stand between her and the child and stare her straight in the eye. In my mind I would silently dare her to make another move. I truly believe that even though I was only 10 years old at the time, and the size of a skinny seven year old, I was angry and raging silently, enough inside to do serious damage to aunty May. I would have hurt her if she had dared lay a finger on any of those confused and frightened Kids. Fortunately, for her, she understood, and all though she bullied me and the other kids she did not touch them while I was around.

May knew that we were vulnerable and broken children and she showed us no kindness or mercy.







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Broken

By the age of ten I was feeling angry and felt that I did not really care about myself. I just plodded on in my new role of protector of other kids who had no one to care for them. My growing anger induced confidence did not save me from being punished by May. One of her favourite ways to punish me besides often beating me with a hairbrush or threatening to have me locked away, was to make me stand bolt upright, hands on my head, in the linen cupboard. I had to stand facing the door and periodically she would peek through the keyhole and check I was still standing. She would make me stand like that for hours and then claim she fell asleep and had not meant to leave me in the cupboard for so long. I did not care what she did to me, I could take it.

I was already a broken child and May could not break me anymore. I remember the constant feelings of sheer frustration and anger that was eating away at my body. This stress I was experiencing as a result of May's behaviour and my response to it had to be suppressed or I would be labelled mentally ill and I was often threatened with the label by May. I had to do her bidding and keep quiet because I was afraid of the consequences.

I had nothing but pure hatred for this cruel, vindictive woman. She was meant to protect us from further harm and trauma, instead, she added to our fears. I promised myself that one day, when I was older and stronger, I would come back and intimidate and frighten this evil woman. I would show her how it would feel to be afraid and humiliated like she had made me feel. There were some staff that were kind, that might have really cared about us kids, but I never saw them and none of them would stand up to May if I made a complaint about her.

May used to force me to sleep at her own private residence with her and a spinster sister. I hated going. I was sure that it was illegal that she could force me to stay at her own home but I had no one I could trust enough to talk to. Social services put me in this evil woman's care and did not check to see if I was okay. I was traumatised by this woman and I was still in distress from the abuse from mam and dad and the death of my mother. And now I was being mentally tortured by two wicked old women.

While I was at the spinster house, May would make me clean her house and take care of her crippled spinster sister. The spinster sister constantly made me get on my knees and pray for forgiveness for being an evil child. Maybe I was evil because I was now eleven years old and I wanted revenge. I wanted to hurt two old ladies and I wanted to scare them and make them suffer like they made me and all the other children suffer. I never told her that is how I felt, I just turned it all inwards.

It is only normal and natural to feel anger after such experiences. I know that now but for many years I felt guilty for having revengeful thoughts. I had many negative thoughts back then like so many others who have been in similar situations. I know that others who have survived have similar experiences of anger and revenge.

Its at this age that I was more aware of myself. I had a severe mistrust in the world and everyone in it. I thought and believed most people on the planet were really deceitful, cruel, untrustworthy, false and unhappy. I lived my life from the perspective of fear and survival only.

Revenge Time

Four years after leaving the home, I saw aunty May waiting for a bus. She was tiny, little woman who just reached up to my chest, even though she had shoes on with a heel. She was dressed in a pale blue suit and a matching hat and looked as if she had been to church. She looked ancient and fragile. I watched her for a few minutes while I went through a range of feelings. I was shocked at how vulnerable she looked. It would have been cruel to hurt this tiny delicate old lady but I was still angry at her. I walked up to her and very cockily said, 'Hello aunty May', She looked up at me and recognised me instantly. I saw fear in her eyes and it did not feel good. I just smiled at her and asked how she was doing. After a few minutes, I said goodbye to her and goodbye to my hatred for her. I realised she was a miserable unhappy woman who had never married and now she was old and soon was going to die, I felt sorry for her. I felt relieved once I let go of the anger and hate I had for that woman and I realised then that hating anyone was not something I wanted to do. Hating just makes the hater suffer, no one else.

Source

Back To The Beginning

Dad completed his prison sentence for beating mam and soon after his release, came to visit us in the home with a woman he introduced as his friend. The last time I had seen him was two years previous when he came to my mams funeral in handcuffs, flanked by two plain clothed police officers. Now here he was here with another woman. I did not recognise him as being my dad. And at that time I had no other memories of him because I was so shut down mentally and emotionally. When dad came back into my life I felt that he was truly a stranger to me.

He told me and my two siblings that we would be going to live with him in a house in the village I was born in. I did not want to go with him but was not given a choice. My bags were packed and after two years of some normality, I, along with my siblings were going home to our dad, who we hardly knew and who I did not trust. I felt that we were just going back to the beginning, back to how life was and back to abuse and I could do nothing about it.

Dad managed to rent a cheap rundown house on the same streets as I was born in. I still remember the strong over powering smell of dampness of that house still today. In the children's home we had clean linen on the bed and our bedrooms were bright and clean. In dads house the beds were old and smelly. They were rusty metal beds with springs that poked through the filthy mattresses. There was bare plaster walls and remnants of old wallpaper peeling off. It was really difficult for and my siblings to adjust to this life and I know each one of us suffered the feelings of shame and severe embarrassment of our lifestyle.

Within a couple of months of being home, tin cans appeared on the bedroom floor to catch the rain water that poured through the light fitting on the ceiling. Water was obviously coming through a hole in the roof and had been pouring in for a long time, so there was an overwhelming smell of must and wet plaster. The house still had its old range built into the fireplace and dad did not know how to use it, so managed to scrounge an old cooker so I could at least cook and feed my siblings.

Dad's lady friend, lived a couple of streets away and dad spent most of his time, when he was not at work or in the pub, at her house. I was left to take care of my younger brother and sister as we were left to fend for ourselves again. I tried very hard to keep my little brother and sister clean and cared for. An impossible task when the streets and everything they touched was black from coal and soot. It was just as hard then in the mid seventies as it had been for my mam in the sixties and it was not going to get easier for a while.


Skivvy

At twelve years of age, I was supposed to make the fire, wash, cook, keep the house clean and look after the kids. My family had no mod cons such as a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner because we lived in poverty. I was constantly exhausted from all the work I was expected to do. I felt like a skivvy for my dad and believed that my role was to do what I had to do. If I dared retaliate, and sometimes I would, then I would get a beating. The beatings took there toll and I felt worn out all the time like I suspect my mother used to feel. My school work was suffering as a result of my home life and for that I was punished at school. I would have to do detention for not doing my homework, then get a good hiding for being late home and not getting all my chores done. I was in an impossible situation and the only way I knew to deal with it was to run away, so I ran away a lot. Every time I ran the police would bring me back and I would get another beating from dad. I got to the point where I was sick of living and felt suicidal. With thoughts that no one cared, I felt that I would be better off dead. I could not see life improving any time soon and I knew the situation was going to get a lot worse because I knew dad could not cope.

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