A Life Worth Living. Chapter Fifteen.
Sweet Old People
New Start In Life
I976, I was sixteen and allowed to move out of the childrens home and find my own place. I felt excited and like I was getting a new start in life. My new landlords were a very old couple and they seemed like a sweet gentle pair. Initially, they were kind, even allowed me to bring a Golden Labrador puppy into the house, and they took care of it when I went to work. I would rush home from work to take care of the pup. I felt responsible for the little thing, the responsibility felt good. Apart from the occasional beating I got from Barry, my boyfriend, my life was fairly normal. I thought I was lucky to have what I had, a job, a room to live and a gorgeous boyfriend, even if he was beating me. I know now that I settled for less because I did not think myself worthy of anything better and did not know there was more to be had from life.
The Feeling Of Being Watched
One day I caught the old man taking off the lock to my bedroom door. He said he was going to fix it even though I was not aware of it being broken. I felt uncomfortable with the hole that had been left in the door, once the lock was removed, but did not fully understand why. I had no reason to mistrust this lovely old couple. Later that night, as I got undressed, I felt like I was being watched. I checked that hole in the door every couple of minutes and there was no one there. I put my nervousness down as being remnants from my past. I tried to ignore how I was felt even though warning bells were screaming in my stomach. I was used to being physically uncomfortable, through being constantly stressed, I did not recognised the feelings at the time for what they were, intuition, trying to warn me that something was amiss. My body knew there was something wrong somewhere but I was too emotionally wrecked to understand what my body was telling me.
Nowhere To Run
One night I caught the old man, watching me through the hole in the door, whilst I was stood naked, taking a strip wash. My back was to the door and through a mirror, I could see him, peeking into my room. Covering myself up, I opened the door and confronted him. Without saying a word, he pushed me back in to the room and pushed me on the bed. While I was struggling to get myself up, he took off his belt and started thrashing me with it. When he had finished, I just lay there sobbing and shocked. Later, I went downstairs and he was not there. The old lady was there, she looked frightened, signalling with her finger up to her mouth. 'Shush! She said, as she nodded in the direction of the cellar door to let me know where the old man was. I looked around quickly for my pup so that I could get the hell out of there, when I heard the most sickening yelping scream coming from the cellar. I knew immediately he had killed my pup. When he came up from the cellar I was screaming at him, 'what have you done you bastard?!!'. 'Who do you think you are talking to?' The old man said, as he walked towards me. He was fiddling with his belt trying to get it off. He said 'I take you in and you talk to me like that, well you can get out, before I phone the police and have you locked up'. He told his frightened wife to go and get the police and I ran off before she come back. I spent the night in an old school yard with the rats scuttling all around me, grieving for my dog and feeling very sorry for myself. I should have listened to my gut instincts but I did not, now I was paying for that mistake. I felt that I had no where to run, no where I could go where there would be someone who cared enough, not to hurt me in some way. Eventually, I felt I had no choice but to go home to dad as the streets were too dangerous for a teenage girl out on her own.
I had not been back to my dad's house since he had sexually abused me but my relationship with him had improved. I felt uncomfortable about staying in his house with him. but felt I had no other choice but to go there. I had no where else to go and was too old to go back into care. Barry had been kicked out by his mum, so he wanted to stay with me. Dad agreed to let us stay as long as we did not sleep in the same bed, or in the same room. One night when dad was out, me and Barry did get in the same bed. Instead of getting into our own beds before dad got home, we fell asleep. Later in the night something woke me up. As I opened my eyes, I saw dad just leaving my bedroom. I did not know what he was doing in the bedroom but I had my suspicions as to why.
I knew dad must have seen Barry, laying in my bed beside me and was terrified of what he would do to us. I expected big trouble to follow the next morning but trouble did not come. After that incident, I put a big bolt on my bedroom door to keep dad out of my room. When dad saw the bolt on the door, he went ashen and looked visibly shaken. I felt sick with guilt for not being able to trust him, but I felt I had to have the added security. I felt bad for hurting him, yet, he had been the one that had abused me. My thinking was obviously faulty. I had been taught that it was my fault others hurt me and that I deserved it all. Other peoples feelings were always more important than my own fragile feelings. A legacy of all the name calling and abuse that I had endured in my life had left me with a low self esteem and zero confidence in myself.
Trying To Earn Love
I carried on living with dad even though I knew I could not trust him. I never fully trusted dad again but I tried to love him in the best way I knew how. I would cook and clean for him, make sure the water was hot when he got in from work and wash his back. All the things he asked of me, I would do, without the usual moaning, because I wanted to love him and I wanted him to love me. I did not realise then that I was buying his love with my favours. I did not understand, that what I was doing was not love. I believed that loving someone meant taking care of others and putting up with the abuse they gave.
People that know me ask, 'How can you love your dad when he abused you?' I don't know how, I just did. Sure, I have felt hurt and anger for what he did, feeling those emotions just made me more miserable than I already was. It was many years before I realised that I was very angry with my dad. I denied any anger because I did not want to be angry at him. The anger and pain does not go away until it is faced and I did not want to have to face mine. To do that I would have had to hurt my dad by asking why he had abused me, his own child. At the time, I could not put my dad through the feelings of shame and pain he might go through. I tried to protect him from feeling bad when I should have let him face the truth of what he had done and how he had damaged me. I felt guilty and ashamed and I did not know what to do to change things.
No one deserves to be abused. No one is more worthy of life than another. We are all worthy of being and feeling loved, no matter who we are. Some people do not know how to show love and they do not show it to us but that does not mean there is something wrong with us or that we are unlovable or worthy of love. Trying to earn love like I believed I had to, never works.
Whilst living at dads house, Barry continued abusing me and I knew if dad found out he would surely kill Barry. I had to hide my bruises, which were usually on my body, arms or legs, any where where they would not be visible to anyone else. On day, while dad was at work, Barry gave me a severe beating. He bit my cheek so hard that it left teeth marks. I struggled to hide that side of my face when dad came in from work. Claiming I was not well, I went and laid in my room in the dark. I was afraid that dad was sooner or later going to see my bruising and more afraid of what he would do to Barry and I could not deal with what would happen. I took an overdose of tablets, not for the first time, because I could not cope with, what I imagined would happen when my dad saw my face. I felt that, even though dad had abused me, he would give his life for me and protect me from others wanting to harm me. I thought Barry would get beaten off my dad for doing what he did to my face, then, I would get another beating for letting my dad see my bruises in the first place. I just wanted out, just wanted the madness stop.
Barry, realising I had overdosed, sent for an ambulance. While dad slept, unaware of what was going on, I had my stomach pumped at the hospital. I was afraid of dad's reaction should he find out I had an ambulance at the door, in the middle of the night so I had to sneak out of the hospital after treatment and then run the three miles home in bare feet to get back in bed before dad got up. That way he would not know what I had done. I prayed that none of the neighbours who had seen the ambulance and me being brought out on a stretcher, would tell dad what they had seen. I felt anxiety and fear but did not understand that I did not need to feel fear.
Given Up On Life
Long before I reached the age of seventeen, I had had enough of this life. I was so unhappy and anxious, angry, scared, frustrated every day that life seemed too difficult. I went to see my doctor with teeth marks in my cheek and a black eye. I needed to tell someone what was happening to me and that I just wanted to die. I could not talk to tell him how wretched I felt so I sat there and cried. My unhappiness and distress was medicalised and I was given a label of depression. My mam's words came back to haunt me, 'you're mental and stupid', she used to say. Now I was starting to believe she was right because now I was labelled with a mental illness. Soon, I was swallowing my first Valium, a sedative. With the Valium I could cope with life. They turned off my feelings so that I could carry on living. The life I was living was not worth it even when I was numbed but it was bearable.
Dad found out about the beatings and it was either leave dads house and be homeless with Barry, or risk my dad doing harm to Barry if we stayed.
As we were homeless, we had not much choice but to move into a derelict cottage in the centre of town. We had no toilet or bath and it was more like a doss hole than a home. We had two rooms downstairs and a steep ladder to a room above. It had a hole in the wall in one room where there used to be a fireplace. We made a fire in it and did the best we could to make it our home. We found an old mattresses and a two bar electric fire, that was in working order, in the derelict buildings behind us.
We had not been at the cottage for long when I found out I was pregnant. Rock bottom, drugged and beaten and now pregnant. I did not feel capable of coping with my life because life was horrendous. I had no idea that I could have changed it to a better life. I did not know that I was worthy of a better life, a life with love and happiness. Now we were bringing a baby into a life with no love.
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