A Life Worth Living.Chapter Seventeen.
At the age of eighteen, in 1978, I had negative self beliefs about myself stemming from my abusive childhood. I believed I unlovable, was ugly, stupid, dumb, worthless and the lowest of the low. I felt nothing but shame and embarrassment of my situation. I lived in fear that life was going to feel bad for ever. I was being beaten on a regular basis, I lived in an almost derelict house and I had a new baby who never seemed to stop crying, and I was scared. I felt that I was useless and a waste of time, just like my mother had said I was. My negative beliefs were deep and I accepted abuse for love.
I was called a slut, whore, thick bastard, idiot and so on, every day. My self-esteem was so low as a result of constant verbal and physical abuse so I could not, or felt that I could not, leave.
I believed I was not worthy of being loved or of having a good life. My daughter was worthy of a better life and even though I did not have the skills to change my life, I was determined my daughter would have a better life. I did not want her knowing about violence and abuse.
I felt my life was a living hell to be endured and I endured. I thought I was a good person because I did as I was told, even when I did not want to do what I was told.I conformed. I tried to be good and a well behaved citizen in society so that I would be accepted. I did not feel good enough and always felt like the poor neighbour who was not even acknowledged. I did not understand that there was another way to live life.
Living a life where I am loved and appreciated was a dream life which was beyond my wildest dreams. To live in my ideal world, where everything was perfect for me, living a life of my choosing was not something I could even imagine at this time in life. If I had known I could have changed my belief and create a better life, I would have changed my belief.
Seeds Of Doubt
Like many other women in domestic violence situations before and after me, I always swore that I could cope with the abuse as long as my child was not harmed. I did not understand that I was causing her psychological harm by living with an abusive man. The seeds of doubt as to whether I thought Barry would hurt our baby were planted when my daughter was eight months old. She was crying and getting desperate for her feed. Barry got up out of bed to go and fetch her from the bedroom opposite ours. I followed him to her room a matter of seconds later, and when I got there, he had our baby in his arms. There was blood coming from her lip. Before I could say a word, Barry said, 'She banged her mouth on my collar bone'. I felt sick. I did not know why then but my stomach sank. I wanted to believe him. I tried to convince myself that he would not hurt her, that he loved her, but I started having doubts. Something was waking up in me, but I did not know what. Some time later, after I had come home from shopping, I noticed another mark our baby's face. 'She bumped her face on the fireplace', Barry said. I started to get suspicious that he could be hurting our baby but did not want to believe it. Another mark and this time the Social Services found out and they came to the house and ordered me to take the baby to hospital where she could be checked out properly. I was so terrified they would take my baby away that even in the hospital I refused to put her down to be examined. Our daughter was put on the at risk register, Barry was arrested on suspicion of hurting her but nothing was proven and he was released. From then on we had Social workers always watching over us, and, although I knew they had to keep an eye on us, I resented them interfering in our lives. All my life Social workers had been around and they had not done that much to help us, we just wanted them to leave us alone.
Barry was having serious mental health problems, even I could see that, but he would not see a doctor. When our daughter was about eighteen months old I knew we were in danger from Barry. Eventually I plucked up the courage to mention to my doctor about my husbands bizarre behaviour and my concerns for my safety but doctor told me to take Barry to the doctor and Barry refused to go. Eventually, and after I had another serious beating, Barry agreed to see a doctor in another attempt to save our marriage. He was aged twenty when he was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. Barry refused medication or any kind therapy. He was afraid of being judged and shunned for having a mental illness. Afraid of what he called, a ‘Nutter’. He was terrified of being labelled.
For a while we tried to carry on as normal but every day got more difficult as Barry's mental health deteriorated. There were times when I would get so afraid that he would kill me, that I would ask a neighbour if she would take care of my daughter during the night and I walked the streets at night. Sometimes it felt safer to sleep in the park than be alone with him. I could not get any support and felt that I could not leave him while he was so ill.
Barry, suffering from hallucinations and strange thoughts, had imagined and convinced himself that I had sneaked someone into the house in the middle of the night and taken them in the bathroom with me. No amount of pleading, 'I've only been to the toilet', would calm him down. ‘Don’t fucking lie to me, you dirty slut’, he screamed at me, as he punched me so hard in the face that everything went black. When I came to, he was still punching and screaming at me, calling me a whore and a slut. I hated myself for putting up with the violence and the name calling. My self esteem was lower than that of a slugs belly, yet I continued to put up with the violence. I thought I had no choice but to accept my lot in life. I had a choice whether or not to stay with him, but at the time, I did not know that I that I had the rights to make different choices. Others had always decided for me.
My Role In Life Belief
I truly believed that I had been put on the earth to be a mother, to cook, clean and care for others for the rest of my days. I was not equipped to care for Barry. I tried really hard to adapt to that role. I did not realise then, that there was more to life. Life was and felt dull, boring, monotonous and hard. I could not see the point in my life.
Barry was now convinced that the Social services were bugging our house with secret listening devices. We went through a ritual every night, searching every inch of the house looking for evidence that we were being watched. He drove me mad with his rituals and making sure he did them correctly. He was aggressive and violent towards me and then he would cry and beg for forgiveness. I was beyond totally exhausted.Life was a vicious circle repeated daily and I survived by being on auto-pilot and just getting with life.
When we are abused, we cannot think straight. We lose the will to live. We do not know that we can choose happiness instead of abuse. We do not understand our beliefs can be changed so the vicious cycle continues. I felt trapped with no way out, like a prisoner but no prison walls. Then he told me that we should move away from our depressing mining village to the seaside and have a fresh start. He told me he would let me get a job and he would work too if we moved to the seaside. I wanted to make my marriage work and immaturely agreed to moving far away and having a fresh start.
We moved to Lancashire, for another fresh start and to try and salvage our marriage. I know now that moving away was a dangerous thing to do. Miles away from where I had support or anyone watching out for my baby, but I was young and I thought I knew it all.
We both got jobs in a restaurant and I felt more than happy to go to work. I found that I enjoyed work and felt that I was a good worker. Stirrings of a little self respect could be found within me and I felt pleased with life for a while.
No Turning Back Time
I did not understand the truth that, when someone loves you, they do not want to hurt you. Love does not mean pain. Where there is pain, there is no love was not understood by me.
I started to question the purpose of my life, why was I here? and all that. I could not find happiness in my role as a mother and wife. I felt frustrated, depressed, guilty and terrified that this was all there was to life. I did not understand my negative beliefs were creating my negative reality. All around me I could see other people doing the same thing, courting, getting married, getting a house and then a baby, not necessarily in the order, and they were not happy either. I was convinced that happiness did not exist.
We think we cannot live without our abusers because we have been condition to believe that no one else would want us. When our abusers feel like we really might leave them, they get desperate. They promise us the world, that they will not hit us again and they will be good. They all say these things out of desperation. They lie!
Life is not a practice run, but if it was, I would go back in time, and this time I would have run very quickly in the opposite direction from this man. I would learn to love myself I would have saved myself years of beatings and pain, both physical and emotional. Now I understand that life is short and you only get one chance at it and not to waste it on being unhappy and abused.
- A Life Worth Living. Chapter Eighteen.
My life of abuse fuelled by negative beliefs. Not loving myself meant I allowed myself to be beaten and constantly abused.
- A Life Worth Living; Chapter One
Born into a violent home, I was given last rites within hours of my birth. My first day of life was a battle to survive and there were more battles of survival to come. This is my journey of survival.
- A Life Worth Living. Chapter Sixteen
I was a married teenager with a new baby and I was in a violent relationship. I thought I could make it work but I lived in a fantasy world. My beliefs about life warped as a result of childhood abuse and my belief that my abused life was normal.