Wednesday, 29 August 2018

When the Girl Strikes Back

CW: domestic violence- difficult read, graphic

This is the second post that is part of the series of posts dedicated to my father- but this one is quite cool with action in it towards the end. When you imagine me in that scene you'll see, please see me as a fierce warrior girl!

Looking back at where I was, not just 8 months ago but 13 years, I find myself astounded in how far I have come. Time doesn't stop for anyone to pick up the pieces, only to take a deep breath, to have a little cry, and then get on with it. We all have multiple things going on constantly, some aspects of our past stays longer with us than others.

I was recently advised to send my father a copy of my degree(s) to show him that I made it without him. It got me thinking about the past, and his actions and whether it would be a good idea. I wonder how it will or whether it will have a any sort of impact on me. Do I have to prove anything to him? In many ways, unbeknownst to him of course, his words have made impact in my life as discussed below. And his stupid morals that he passed on to me have only flourished and developed me into who I am today. So, this post is basically me rambling and looking at the past to make a decision about whether to send him the copies of my academic achievements or not. Does he even deserve them?!

For me, the aspects of my past I can't seem to lose are the words my father spoke to me. Especially the things he said to me about being a failure, and not making it in the world without his aid. It's actually those words that have driven me forward all these years, but they are also the words that have resulted in negatively affecting me physically and mentally, where upon nothing has been enough. For a long time I never knew when I was enough. The way in which I was brought up- it was never okay to make a mistake- it often resulted in getting a beating or bullied, which after I escaped the hell still remained internally in me in terms of beating myself up when I made a mistake- even at the smallest laughable things.

I have often wondered why it is that my other siblings don't 'seem' so affected- I reckon they are, though being the eldest of 4, I believe I got it worse. I had hoped that by running away my father may change and realise his flaws. That's what I hoped for the most, though I believe he made me a villain in their lives, for abandoning them- which is what it looks like. But after years of facing violence and abuse from my father, my mother completely lost her mind, there were times when my other siblings were either asleep or outside playing that we would be beaten, though my mother and I would often try to shield each other from his punches, he would then become a rabid dog, unable to think past his anger, so full of rage that he would lock my mother and I out of the house in the freezing cold. We would cry, shivering in the cold, often just in 'lounge wear', sitting either on the door step or by fish pond staring at the frozen layer of water. Sometimes, he wouldn't let us in the whole night, and we would hold each other to shield out finger from freezing.. That's when I became fond of star gazing. It would take me away from staring at me frozen feet; at the reality we were facing. I became fond of writing and words when he would beat me in the kitchen, I would stare as the branded names of cook ware and the message board, there was a jacket that used to hang by the door, it was a Ellesse brand. I would stare at that word, and the logo continuously as he hit me.

Since we lived on a private road with fields surrounding us, we had nowhere to go, no one to turn to. The amount of times I went to school with huge bruises on my back and my head swollen is countless to me. I was really bad at PE, other students thought I was just really lazy, but they didn't know that my back had been beaten with his golf shoes the night before. My mum, bless her, would ask me to gently comb out the tangles in her hair which he used as a weapon to swing her around like he was exorcising her. I began to feel anger, and this anger steadily turned into rage. When I was little, I would hide in my wardrobe crying every time she was getting a beating that I learnt to keep myself as far away from him as possible, but this became futile as I got older. When I became a little older- 13, to him I became old enough to get beaten too. But one day- when my mother was going insane- I decided to stand up- I was 15 and I couldn't take another beating.

Everything had to be perfect for him. He wanted his food freshly cooked every night (apart from Friday nights). As my mother's mental health deteriorated, the first thing that unravelled was her cooking. It started with the salt, the dishes either lacked or had too much of it. One night, after calling out that the food was ready, my father didn't come immediately as he was watching a golf match on on the TV. Now, the food wasn't going to remain piping hot, and we waited until joined. It was over 10 minutes when he came in- he sat down and had a bite of roti and aloo gobi, his face began to look enraged and he flung the bowl across the room hitting the tiles by the sink, screaming that it was not hot. He stood up and began shouting at my mother, we both knew what was coming. I remember seeing black and flinging the plates at him. I remember thinking, 'no more'. I would not receive anymore beatings. He, of course, was shocked, my mother immediately began to beg him to spare me as he looked at his clothes now covered in a mixture of daal, dehi, and chicken curry, and a little bit of aloo gobi. At that moment, I felt fearless, of course it was the adrenaline, nonetheless, I was a she-wolf; ready to take him on and take him one I did. My sibling were terrified. He came at me with fists, but like Neo in The Matrix I managed to dodge a punch and hit him back. Now he was so shocked that I had dared that his brain couldn't make sense of it. I hit him again and that's when we got pulled away from each other by the rest of the family. He saw that I was coming at him again. He must have seen the fierceness in my eyes and was ready to lay more on him that he stopped and left. He was gone a while. I remember my sister, the second one telling me I was breaking up the family.

He never touched me again after that night. And in me I noticed a power I had never felt before. Maybe it was my Sikh warrior spirit, or maybe it was his dormant psychopathic traits in me that had awoken. But even though he stopped hitting me physically, it was far from over. So much happened after that night that it deserves another post altogether.

My father is an intelligent man when it comes to academia. But overall, he lacks in everything else. When I lived at his house, he was seen as a community figure. Everyone was charmed by him. He was seen as a part of the community. He won golf matches and competitions, and of course he was part of a country club. As I mentioned, I believe that he has traits of a socio/psychopath. Because of this charm with the wider community, and being a member of so many groups, it was impossible to seek help. Of course there were a few people that did help us. They recognised our pain. But so many others didn't. He never hit us on our faces, or somewhere that would be visible apart from one time. My mother had a black eye, it was so visible that people in the surgery waiting room were staring and even looked concerned. Our Sikh doctor said nothing at all about it. He didn't ask any questions. My mother and I had hoped he would help us, he was our only chance, and my mother's black eye was clear evidence. Instead, he told her that she was depressed. Our one and only chance turned to dust as yet another Sikh male ignored our situation and waved us back to the lion's den. Living in in a little village near a mostly White city, there weren't many Sikhs, those that were there knew everyone. So this doctor, seeing us in our states ignoring us was even a bigger kick to our teeth. That day and what happened after are yet again far too much to write about here, but this post explains some of it.

 What my mother and I endured under this man's reign, I would never wish upon anyone. And both my mother and I didn't come out of it unscathed. Today, we see our scars for what they are but we look ahead with happiness. As I said in the last post, thriving not just surviving.

Until next time,
Sen x

The Family Secret No one Knew But Me

CW: Sexual abuse

A small note:
My last post attracted some interesting feelings from acquaintances and readers. I asked why I wasn't hiding my identity. Well, the thing is that I was anonymous for many years (this blog is old). But when this blog became a little bit popular, especially when I was writing about current affairs, and I use Sen La'Noire as my 'internet name', I realised there was very little point in attempting to hide, and with Google monopolising everywhere, it was pretty easy to find my identity, so now, I am scared to write, and I don't write as often, but when I do, it is with greater consideration. Every time I publish a post, I feel I can stand behind it with firm confidence.

This post and the ones that follow hereafter are a series of posts that are part of a bigger plan. I am having difficulty in deciding whether to send copies of my academic achievements to my father, and I am hoping that this series of posts will help me untangle my past so that I can decide if I send him the copies, and send him link to these posts.

As a child, I always had a certain firm belief, and when I was angry I said loudly, and though I was laughed at by my siblings, it angered my parents. To me, it is still something that sounds a lot more realistic than the actual truth. You see, I always believed that I was either adopted or switched at birth (seriously), Perhaps it's an issue many other eldest children face but it was something, as a child, I believed in more than Father Christmas! I guess it grew from feeling like an outsider, looking in. I just didn't have anything in common with this family that I felt forced to live with.

I suppose when I think about it, it might have had a lot to do with deceit. On my part, and theirs. You see my father was quite violent towards my mother and I, but the world outside believed he was a good, well to do man, and he of course bathed in this; behaving like a gentleman outside and a brute inside. I was also holding onto a secret that I only opened up to my mother a year ago. It involves a sleazy 'uncle' in India.

Within the Indian culture, there is still a strong stigma attached to girls and rape/ sexual abuse, though they are the victims they are seen as bringing shame to the entire family and many are treated like they have the plague thereafter. In fact, when I told my mother what happened to me repeatedly, for a couple of years, her immediate reaction was not to tell anyone else for fear of shame. And she also wondered why I had told her. My paternal grandmother knew about it. She had caught him once, she told me not to tell anyone, and stopped his visits. He was her nephew, so it was even more important for her to keep it quiet. I was holding on to this secret for over 20 years. I wanted to write a letter to my father to tell him but my mother stopped me, fearing that if more of the family found out, it would affect my siblings getting married in the future. I felt like I had done something wrong, and this in turn made me realise that had I told my family what had happened to me 20 years ago, I would probably have been treated far worse.

Going back to my childhood though, I was fighting inner demons from the age of 8 and believed that while my other siblings seemed happy, they had grown fat on their happiness, whilst I had literally become weighed down and become fat on all the sorrow and hate.

This post is not for attracting sympathy. It is in fact a part of a series of posts that I am writing to my father, as well as you. I want him to know. I want him to see that despite all of this, I am not merely surviving by thriving.

Until the next post,

Sen x

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Glad to be Alive- Part II

CW: mental health and suicide
This is a second part of the last post. Please find it under this one.

Since the last post, I have been feeling a little exposed, mainly because despite the ability to share more from my life, mental health is an awkward conversation- even between me and my most understanding of friends, and often I find myself incapable of bringing others down with the daily doom and gloom that goes in the mind of a depressed human being.

My last post was upsetting. I would even say that it highlights the lack of funding in mental health which played a part in what happened. I was made me wait so long due to the very long waiting lists everywhere  just to be seen by someone. Unfortunately, I am not the only one who has gone through this. And I left this out in the last post as it would have caused me a lot of pain and it still hurts to recount it. This post will discuss the aftermath of what happened immediately and in the weeks and months after. I will also talk about how my aftermath was a bit shitty and I wish how it could have been a little different.

The emergency number was rung without my consent and despite my protests. But because I am loved; something the darkness surrounding me couldn't see as I took each tablet, I had the help I needed there. A former friend who came when called couldn't see the difference between the lowest part of my life that night to who I am comforted me the best they could. I feel like asking someone in my position to apologise for what I said during that time is perhaps not the best thing to do, especially not in the first 3 weeks of the event. And most importantly change my views their statements earlier in the evening may have contributed in part to what I did. When I could not and even refused, I was abandoned, less than 4 weeks after.

I still feel its not completely behind me even 7 months on. That former friend caused such a rift in my life that now I feel I only have one friend left that I can speak to. On top of this, the friends I told I had attempted to end my life have not once asked me how I am. Not once asked me to even meet up. As far as I am concerned, the strength I could have built within myself is taking much longer than needed as I don't have the support only friends can give. But then I wonder whether they were indeed my friends to begin with. And that reality and realisation is one gift I have been given.

The one thing that saved me and pulled me out of drowning was the man from a hotline who had been contacted after I refused to seek medical attention. He calmed me and spoke to me just the way I should have been spoken to; without judgement. I was so afraid of ending up in hospital yet again (having been admitted twice in 2 months for physical illnesses) that I knew that I needed to go to work on Monday now that I wasn't dead. My health was already an issue at work and I knew this would make it much, much worse. The man understood, was empathetic and listened. But he also advised me to go to hospital, saying that my health came before anything else, unfortunately, the words from my the manager still rang in my ears, knowing that it was my fault I have been unwell. He didn't force me though.

That night I was referred to an on-duty doctor who would ring me to see how I was feeling. Having taken the amount I had, I was sleepy and also sick all night. Unfortunately, the doctor on duty who called me later in the night was starkly different. She judged me and shamed me. Asked me why I wasn't dead. Yeah. I used the tiny amount of whatever was left in me to bite back. She apologised but I wondered if I wasn't me, and hadn't bitten back and was alone, whether her attitude and smirk might have actually made me try to commit again. She asked if I really wanted to die I would have done it and I wouldn't have called the emergency services. What a thing to ask someone in such a position. I wish I had got her name. I wish I knew where she called from because as I have become stronger, at my most lucid points so far, I have wished I complained about her so she didn't make anyone feel the shame she made me feel.

For a long time, writing on this blog was my way to work out my own issues. It's actually since I stopped writing that things got worse, or it is merely a coincidence. I hope this blog will continue to be a release for me where I can keep writing about my experiences in life so far, and perhaps help me to write about my views in a succinct manner.

Writing here was not meant to necessarily attract attention even though it is online and anything on the web is a 'free for all'. I have noticed that this blog has received a great deal of attention, namely the last post, thus, making me feel exposed. I hope the readers will understand that I will keep on writing the way I did and will not change the way or what I write about. This is, after all, my blog and I never thought anyone would read it. My hope for this post is that readers know that if they disagree with me, they don't have to carry on reading.

Sen x

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Glad to be Alive

CW: mental health and suicide.

This was the hardest post to write. Mainly because I have day-dreamed about what to say. And the niggling 'event' that took place should not be ignored because I cannot simply move past it.

 Many of you have most probably read my past posts and understand that I have been battling severe depression and anxiety for some time and that it comes and goes. In the last post, I kind of promised that I would not do anything bad, but unfortunately I did try to commit suicide. Even though my beautiful cat saved my life, and even though it has been 7 months, I am at the stage of now feeling shocked that I attempted to die. 

Immediately after, I cried and cried like I had never cried before and it was mainly because I hadn't succeeded. And I regret to a point of making people there for me at my lowest point feel blamed. Most of the time, we're carrying so much within us that unbeknownst to others, what ever they say or do can just be the last straw. And unfortunately what that friend had said was the last straw that broke me.

Thinking back on that day, the reasons behind it, I felt so overwhelmed. I had been holding onto the date of my first counselling session but as I waited for over a month, I tried to hold on as much as I could, but in the end it burst like an atomic bomb. Crying and drunk, I felt like a failure afraid of losing a friend who had broken the last straw and in relation, I had bitten back. 

Weeks leading up to the 'event'. I had been coping. I hadn't isolated myself from friends, in fact things were going really well. I was working in a job I loved,  and I was doing something for others. It was all very positive. Until, of course, I was admitted to hospital twice in a space of 5 weeks for major issues that I hadn't experienced before. I got a warning, even told to resign as the job wasn't for me despite doing well at my probation targets. The manager also told me it was my fault for getting Pneumonia and being ill. 

So the pressure of being told it was my fault and being told to leave crushed me quite heavily. On top of that, I was diagnosed with allergic asthma and all sorts of other things. I couldn't stop thinking of why I was alive, and why this was happening to me. I thought I had struggled enough. And I saw the world as unfair. It all drowned me. The fact that I now could no longer breathe properly and would have to use steroids made me feel very low. Instead of 3 tablets, I was having to take 8 daily.

I thought I had ripped away my old identity where I had back pain for years and was limited in most ways. But now, so soon after I was a kind of an invalid once again. I also thought that the path, I had thus far, carved for myself was deeply flawed. 

It was also difficult to differentiate between my own thoughts and the thoughts the depression created for me. My depression hurt me with dark thoughts, and slowly swallowed me whole. It consumed me so much so that I had to defer from my modules at university, and in the end, I had to take a sabbatical. So once more my identity was no longer the one I valued. The only thing I now had left was the job (which I left on my own terms later).

How I feel now is I have to seperate the past from the future. I am beginning to look to the future instead of always thinking of the past, especially the traumas. I don't think time necessary heals scars. I think it's exploring those experiences and fitting them in a constructive way that really gives us peace. For me, now my journey forward in life is to accomplish peace. It helps that I am doing a degree in Peace and Conflict which I will go back to next year. 

The counseling helped, and so do the anti-depressents. And as my physical health once again has dropped quite a bit, I no longer think of death, but the opportunities the future will offer. I just wish my friends who knew had been more supportive or even just contacted me. There was only one of them that did. 

This is my first time publicly speaking about it. And though I realise we all have different experiences that lead us to make this tragic decision. I hope that in writing about this, you find some hope, or see that you are not alone. 

Sen x