My reason to stay alive

She woke up from what seemed ages, all fuzzy and so damn tired. All she remembered was the face of the surgeon behind the surgical mask and his gloved hand holding a sharp scalpel.
She fell back into the deep sleep she had been in for the past three days then all went black.
She woke up again to her husband’s worried face saying: – If you stay awake, we show you the baby.
She tried to keep her eyes open, but the struggle was incredible. All went black again.
She opened her eyes, the head thumping, all quiet around here, the room dark, she didn’t know what time it was, or even, what day it was.
Her husband sat on the chair reading a newspaper, she tried calling, but her throat was sore from the endotracheal intubation during the c-section. She had needed a c-section due to her fall on the stairs when she was seven months pregnant. The news had devastated her as it destroyed her romantic dream of bringing her child to the world without any help.
She started remembering. – Oh God, did she have the baby? Where was the baby? Why was she so sleepy? – She thought. She called out: – Ago.
Ago put away the paper he was reading, smiled, and walked to her and said: -I am so happy you are awake. You were out for days.
He filled her in with all that happened when she remembered fixating her wake gaze onto the surgeon with visible relief.
She had been in a coma for three days.
She interrupted him as all she wanted was to see their baby. As she was getting distressed in not knowing if the baby was well, he left the room and went to collect the baby for her to see.
She shuddered at the memory of the man holding the sharp scalpel. Why could she not remember anything else after that blasted moment? What happened? She could clearly remember staring at the midwife who was standing over her head.
They told her to breathe in the mask and count to ten. She had arrived at thirty and still wide awake. Why was she awake? The surgeon, covered in a green gown with a green headcover and mask, held the scalpel while the nurse wrapped her lower abdomen with iodine solution. She was tied up onto the operating table, left arm under the table, and right hand was tied and pierced with needles and pressure monitors. She was desperately trying to communicate to the midwife that she was wide awake. She stared at her with wide-opened eyes hoping she would notice she was still awake. Laura was petrified of being cut and opened, still awake. At this point, her heartbeat was crazy, and the team understood she was awake.
Instead of pausing the surgery, giving her the time to relax, and then starting again, the operating team decided to exchange the tank, give her more medication, and go ahead with the section as planned. Unfortunately, they overdosed her, and for this reason, she went into a medicinal coma for three days. But she did not know this as she started waking up.
She looked around and noticed the needle under the plaster in her right hand. She could feel the sharp pain from where they cut her abdomen to extract her baby.
She signaled to him, and he held her to sit up a little, adding a pillow behind her back. Then, he gave her some water from a paper cup and advised her to drink slowly.
She was coming around, and his fear was leaving space to hope in his face. Finally, he attempted a smile, and she asked about the baby.
She felt grouchy, and she was thirsty and scared.
Her husband entered the room with a bundle, her son, in a light blue blanket. She realised the scan had been correct and she had a boy indeed. As Ago walked towards her, she started looking at her much-awaited baby. Her chest became heavy with a massive sob. Relief that the baby was well. Finally, someone who would love her unconditionally. She finally had a reason to get up in the morning, someone who would make her life worth living.
She managed to hold her baby, and they stared into each other eyes, and at that moment, her heart felt full. Full of love for this baby, filled to the brim. At that moment, her life changed forever, and she knew she would defend him at all cost, even arriving to kill for him. She became a fierce lioness at the moment when she lost herself in his eyes. She was speechless. She was in pain from surgery and overwhelmed by the emotion of having her baby. She started sobbing, never-ending tears of mixed pain, love, and regret that her mother was missing this extraordinary moment.
Laura became a mum at twenty years old. She gained a reason to live at the same time. Her life took a determinate route because of the love she was feeling for her child. She was not alone anymore.
Thinking back, Laura always considered this the best moment of her life. This was the moment when she stopped wanting to die as she had a reason to endure life now.


This is the recount of what happened when my first son was born. Of course, as a result of the overdosed anesthetic, I could not have any painkillers, so the next few days were hell on earth for me. Trying to heal with an open abdomen was excruciating. Furthermore, I was the only person in the ward without a mother there. I felt lost and lonely. As the hormones started going down, I felt more and more desperate for her absence. I was looking for support and guidance but I was only a twenty years old orphaned girl with her world in the little baby in her arms.
Even though I felt a rush of extreme emotions, I finally had a reason to stay alive and motivated to do something to create a great future for my son to whom I could give all the things I never had. I am alive today because of this little bundle of joy and who is today my best friend.

Traumas

As a young girl, I felt unloved and isolated all the time. Yet, I remember being on the constant research of acceptance, attention, and love.
After years of feeling like a guest at my auntie’s home, where I was under my cousin’s authority as I was the outsider, I finally went to live with my father at the age of ten.
I felt at home for a while, and I was basking in my father’s undivided attention.
Soon though, the news of having a child full time to care for wore thin with him, used to be without any responsibility all the time, and this is where things started changing.
From very early on, slowly but steadily, our relationship changed from a loving one to stress, hate, and violence.
One of the things he did was to isolate me from anyone else. Father repeated daily that I was useless and nobody cared for me, that he would be better off if I had died instead of my mother. He told me how awful I was, how much he hated my unruly curly frizzy hair. Father informed me that I was ugly and smelly. He told me numerous times that I would never amount to anything. He reported to me things other people were allegedly saying about me behind my back to create distrust from me towards others.
Father hated spending money so we lived with the minimum possible. I had very few items of clothing, little food that I was only allowed to eat when he decided, and I was unkept, I should say neglected. We had only man’s shampoo and no conditioner in the house. No hairdryer as father was bold. No towels, only one robe, his robe, that got washed once a year. Father washed the bedding once a year. I remember going to bed and feeling the sand still in the bed in December since the previous August.
I remember my hair feeling like straw and my clothes being smelly.
I spent my adolescence sewing my father’s old shirts and old items I found in an old wardrobe to make outfits to go out.
He isolated me from his family by telling me they hated me and they would report to him everything I said to them. Furthermore, he forbade me from using the telephone, and he locked the phone, so I could not make any phone calls.
He tortured me for years, and, as a result, I was always seeking support, love, and understanding.
This way, I met Paul, this problematic young man who took a shine to me and gave me the strength to start fighting back against the persistent violence and gaslighting.
I started seeing Paul occasionally when I was left free and not under my father’s control. Paul did his best to reach me whenever I had any free time, and he did his best to support me. At the time, people saw each other, but there was no sex involved. The most we exchanged were sweet kisses.
At the time, father used to go out with Antonietta, a sad, lonely middle-aged, short-haired, skinny ex-dancer. Father was eager to tell her that he did not care for her in her face but used her for homework like cooking, cleaning, etc. He had met her on the lonely adverts in a newspaper.
At this point, he asked Antonietta to follow me, and this way, he discovered my liaison with Paul. However, he never asked me any questions. Instead, one afternoon, as I walked from the door, I was summoned into the lounge where I arrived still carrying my backpack.
I walked into the room, and I saw, sat at the table my father, his sister Lina and Antonietta. The three sat on one side of the table and instructed me to sit on the other side of the table.
They informed her this was a tribunal setting where they had to address some issues with me.
I was petrified. I felt as if I was in front of a platoon. By then, you see, I was always made to feel guilty about everything. So when I saw the three confrontational scars, with stern faces and the solemn atmosphere, I thought I was going to die. But, of course, I had no idea of what the accusations were either. It was just another coercion, another manipulation where they would judge me, and I could already sense my already lousy situation would worsen as a result.
I started shaking, I could feel my heart thumping inside my chest, and I could hear the accelerated heartbeat inside my ears. Everything was spinning, so I fell onto the chair opposite my enemies. I was shocked. I was unable to utter any words.
Aunt Lina greeted me with a harsh voice then she inquired about my school day. I said all was ok. Then, she asked if I had anything I would like to say. I replied that I didn’t.
So father started enumerating the facts: Antonietta saw me walking outside the school hand in hand with a boy. Antonietta was sure this boy took drugs; therefore, now I was accused of having a relationship with a drug dealer.
I was shocked as the only person I would hold a hand with was Paul. He did not take any drugs. How did Antonietta know him? How did she know he took drugs? Could she be mistaken? Had I held the hand of someone else? Was Paul a drug dealer? Could I trust these nasty adults? Was taking drugs the same as dealing? What drugs?
With all these thoughts in turmoil inside my head, I was trying to think, and I only came back to the present when my father started shouting that I ignored him as usual and I had no respect for adults.
At this point, aunt Lina stated that I was a prostitute and that I was destroying the family name by dating a boy and a drug dealer!!!
I am not joking. I was so shocked I could not reply.
The three ganged up against me and told me I was useless, ugly, smelly, and now amoral. That a boy would only go out with me because I would have sex with them, that I was an easy ride. At that point, I had never had sex. I was so confused by the relentless attacks I was mute. I was fourteen, lonely, unloved, isolated against three judgmental, nasty, shouting, manipulating adults.
The attacks continued for what seemed like an eternity and, at the end of the nasty tirade, the conclusion was that I would no longer go alone anywhere. Antonietta would surveil me all the time when I was not in school. I would spend all the remaining of the time with my father or his family. I was forbidden from going to friends’ houses and from speaking on the phone with anyone. I was not to wear any skirts but only jeans and jumpers. I would have to comb my hair and keep it in shape by using pins. I was to go to church on Sunday only with aunt Lina, or I would have to remain home with my father. When not studying, I was to clean the house and do chores.
I was trapped. No escape. The end.

I am sure the three sad excuses for humans had no idea of the prolonged-lasting trauma the scene created in the vulnerable young orphan, but, to top it up, as soon as aunt and Antonietta left, I was the aim of another violent rage of my father. Again, he said, I was ashamed of my behaviour. Once again, he kicked, punched me, spat into my face telling me how useless I was, how I was ruining his life, and on and on and on.
This time he had locked the door and removed the key, so I had no escape and had to endure the beating till, finally, with a final kick into my stomach, I fainted.

As a mother, I truly look back at these episodes. I wonder how some adults, parents even, dare to call themselves adults, yet they feel good slaughtering a young defenseless, vulnerable orphaned girl. They did this to a girl without anyone to support and protect her or explain how to behave and conduct herself.
I was made to feel a reject, the last of the last throughout the eight years when I lived with my father. Still, today I bear the scars left by all this. Both physical and emotional.
Therapy doesn’t resolve the depth of the lasting damage, and I don’t take any satisfaction from knowing that I am a better parent to my children.
The saddest thing is, after many years of not speaking to any of them, I asked my father to discuss this as I needed some closure; he closed the conversation, saying he no longer remembers anything about growing up.

Confusion

A turmoil of words and thoughts inside my head, letters, commas, colons

dancing in the thundering echoing enclosure of my skull without refrain,

I pause, stand, unable to decode, I look and try to focus,

to guess the meaning of it all, to understand.

Confusion wraps each one of the words, each dot, each comma, each tought

dancing in the wind, moving away from my chasing arms

trying to catch the words in some sort of sequence, defeated I stop.

I stare at you, quietly, trying to come back to reality, confused by my own mind.

Communication issues

I try not to upset others. Why I do this? Because since I was a little child, the adults taught me to ‘get on’ with others and ‘apologize’ for hurting others. I learnt, therefore, to put others first. Nobody cared when I got offended. Nobody taught me how to deal with the hurt I felt when I was being bullied. I was taught not to hurt others. Nobody taught me self-care or self-respect, or self-love.

Until I studied early years and child development, I never had a clear understanding of how much early years’ development impacts the rest of our lives. Now I know that most issues we encounter as adults derivate from traumas and imprinting we received in those first few years, no matter how old we are. We form our ethics and morals in those precious short few years. 

Still, today I feel naughty eating a teaspoon of Nutella from the jar, and I need to finish whatever food is on my plate. I cannot leave food on the plate as my auntie used to guilt trip me whenever I was not hungry: – think of all poor children in Africa who have no food. She would say. I don’t rationally think of the children in Africa, but I still feel guilty when I try and leave food on the plate. 

Other effects deriving from my childhood are the need for everything to be clean, to live in a clean and organised environment. I am unable to enjoy presents as I never got any I liked or any gifted with love.

Recently I found out that some Universal truths father taught me as a child are not so but are Father’s opinions imposed on me (child) as Universal Truths. 

So, having been a neglected orphan while growing up, I always tried to be accepted by others, to look after others, and, above all, not to hurt others. I, in other words, treat others the way I would like them to treat me. But, unfortunately, the result is that I forgot to love Laura. As a result, I fail to protect myself from external attacks. 

I don’t offend others when I manage to act the way others expect in the circumstance I am in, but I carry all the pain and suffering caused by others and never addressed by me.

Every day, we adults cover various roles, each carrying a specific behaviour code we must adhere to.

So we are mothers, women, teachers, colleagues, partners, sisters, daughters. Each of these roles carries a different code of behaviour towards the person or people we are linked to.

Society, family, culture, environment, and other factors impose on us different sets and codes of expected behavior.

The most important are those that enable us to be accepted by others. Humans survive better in packs, after all. One primitive instinct is the pack gathering. In that way, our survival chances are higher than living isolated.

To be liked = accepted, and for this reason, we must do things and follow the rules.

As a teacher, my rules are different from the rules I must abide by in my mother’s role. As a daughter, I have a different code and expected behaviour than when I am with friends. When I was married to a sweet English man, his mother could not understand why I cooked all the time and why I was unable to do small talk. She sat me down and tried teaching me. I failed. 

When you stop and think, look at the whole picture, you can see how all the conditioning and the worrying about others push you to the point of placing you as a person last. Is this healthy? Is this how we have to live our lives? Are we expected to abide by the rules forgetting ourselves?

I think this is the time to break the mold and start looking at putting US first. First, learn who we are and what we like. Then we must start from there. 

At the worst, what can happen if others get offended?

If others go by the same principles and worry about me and not offend me, will they understand that I am trying to save my inner peace? 

At times this issue stops me from communicating with others. I used to be impulsive, funny, and sarcastic. Too often, though, people would tell me off for not thinking before talking. As a result, I am now unable to be spontaneous and analyse and over analyse every thought and every sentence before saying it aloud. The result is that I often refuse to talk as I find this all process taking too much effort.

At times, just the mere thought of translating my ideas into words, then having to filter the words depending wh is in front of me, causes me panic attacks and anxiety.

So my debate is: I chose to be polite and abide by the rules. In doing so, from being and feeling like a unicorn, I now feel like a pony. Is this how it is supposed to be? Is political correctness and obedience to commonly agreed communication’s canons worth conforming and losing one’s unicity?

I grew up in Italy, where I was praised for always speaking the truth.

However, when I asked Grandma why she had stolen father’s money, after hearing father and aunt discussing it, I was told off for repeating what I heard.

I was only speaking the truth, so why this time did they not praise my honesty?

They told me that certain things are better not been repeated. However, they did not give me details on how to recognise these things.

So, when I was a bit older, and I asked a fat lady when her baby was due, having seen aunt doing the same thing many times, I was, once again, told off. 

They told me: could I not see the lady was not pregnant but fat? 

I could not see this. 

When I met the lady again, thinking of apologising, I was once again told off when I said:

  • I am very sorry for asking about the baby. Aunt explained, you are not pregnant and only fat!

When I moved to Uk, I learned never to say anything that could offend people with a ‘chip on their shoulders.’ 

Again, I was shocked when people were offended when I would answer with: – I would rather not respond as you have a chip on the shoulders.

In the staff room, other teachers were talking about a student and saying he was naughty. So imagine my surprise when the week after I was called in the Head’s office and was reprimanded for telling the student not to be naughty. I was puzzled.

I am trying to say: who decided what is acceptable to say and what must remain unspoken?

Would it not be easier to be clear and start from the assumption we respect one another and that when we want to offend someone, we do this openly?

It would certainly save a lot of effort in analysing everything we say before doing so.

I am sorry, but if I don’t like someone, I don’t make an effort to talk to them; therefore, if I speak to you, I like and accept you.

Why are some people so contorted?

It makes my life so hard!

Do you ever feel frustrated in communicating with others? Or is it only me?

Pain

Pain erupting like hot red lava from the centre of my heart

Unstoppable, dragging all it finds in its wake

Agonisingly unstoppable, incessant, tenacious, never ending.

The soil scorched by the heath, plants burned into dried stomps at its passage

Like my veins becoming barren for the screaming screeching sadness

Soul devastated by the ever-growing digging and twisting suffering

Transfiguring my once pretty face into a mask of horror. Flaming tears.

Contorted features, deformed face over skeletal arms, so thin they feel too weak

To continue juggling the for ever increasing knives life is throwing at me.

All is the result of this unstoppable, uncompromising, deathly pain

Continuously resurrecting from its ruins like a phoenix, when others are elated

Destroying any possibility, any hope

To discover some tiny crumbs forgotten or lost by others

Some minuscule speckles of a maybe left over smile

And the pain thumps from inside my brain and my soul while I pretend

To be part of the positive happenings, gaze lost in the pretence

While an ice cold terror wraps itself around my heart

Wondering whether I will ever be given the chance to take a breath

Of clean air filling my lungs instead of the acrid smoke always rising from the lava

Enwrapping my person till all will be remaining will be dried ashes flying with the wind.

The end

The realisation

The tired and starving adolescents were stationery outside the school exit, some waiting for a lift home, some wasting time as they had nowhere to go except home, where they would be alone or in their parents’ company. 

She came out of the school gate looking at her watch, worried because the teacher kept her longer to discuss an assignment, and she knew she would get in trouble now. It was now 13:32; she calculated that she could still make it if she started running and didn’t stop if the elevator was accessible and no one was holding her up. So she started running, and soon the fast breathing was making her chest explode and her throat burn. She could not stop. She had to run. She felt weak at the knees, scared of what would happen if she was late if she did not pick up the phone. She could not cope with yet another beating, another kicking session. So she continued running as fast as her legs would take her towards the place she was supposed to call home.

She saw the door of the large building so, breathing heavily, she ran the last 100 meters and searched for the keys, quickly opened the door and ran to the elevator, which was empty and that immediately started the descent towards her. She was praying under her breath while at the same time trying to catch a breath; she could feel her heartbeat’s thumping inside her ears, her windpipe on fire. She was verbally willing the old creeky elevator to speed up the descend as she knew arriving late and missing the call would result in more violence, one more beating.

She was nervously moving and pacing while muttering prayers to God to get home on time, to avoid yet another session where she would be the punchbag. Nowadays, she was always walking on eggshells trying not to do anything that could be a provocation of yet another session where he would push his frustration on her petite body and mind. 

Finally arrived on the top floor, she quickly put the key into the lock and turned it to the right: one, then two and three times until the door unlocked and she could open it and run into the flat where the phone was already ringing. As she picked the phone up, his voice asked, – why did it take you so long to answer? 

She started explaining that the teacher kept all students behind, and he abruptly interrupted her, uninterested and unwilling to listen as usual. 

– Answer quickly next time – and he put down. The line fell, the call was closed, just like that, no goodbye and no end to the ongoing torturous never-ending conversation where he was the king, and she was the slave bound to obey his every order.

She started with the chores and the homework. The hunger, as always, churning her stomach. She went to the kitchen to have a drink of water, and she already knew the content of the kitchen cupboards and the fridge. She knew there was nothing for her to eat until dinner when father would cook one of the two dishes he knew how to cook. 

Walking into the kitchen, as always, she imagined her mother’s body lying on the floor, head towards the door, feet towards the window. She had the same image playing in her mind every time she walked into the kitchen, she thought, this would be how he found her that day, returning from his skying trip. She had always wanted to ask him the gory details, what happened and how he felt, but she knew she could not ask these questions if she wanted to save herself from a beating. So, she carried on imagining her mother dead on the floor and try to avoid walking in the center of the narrow passage to avoid the place where she fell. She was scared of using the stove as this was the very same one that killed her mother. She was always worryingly sniffing the air in case there was a gas leak. 

No leak today. Laura walked to the sink, where a flexy aluminum pipe ran the cold water into a chipped glass. She turned the glass onto the side without the chip and drank one, two, and finally three glasses of water that filled her stomach and alleviated, at least for now, the hunger she was constantly feeling.

After drinking, she walked back into her room; she lifted her gaze and, once again, she wondered why the wallpaper had a piece missing. Why her father had never replaced the missing part, leaving the room with a part ripped off the wall. When she asked him why the ripped wallpaper, she met resistance and silence, and, walking on eggshells as always, she refrained from insisting and accepted the missing wallpaper. It was one of those many things that would remain unanswered. 

She picked up her Fiorucci backpack and removed her Latin literature and grammar book, ready to start on the first homework. She proudly and gently placed the backpack on the floor. This was her only treasured possession, a yellow, plastic starry bag she had begged him to buy for her last year. Finally, after numerous discussions, he gave in, and she now treasured this item as the only one she had chosen thus far. 

She stared at the open books for what seemed like an hour, and she felt tired, exhausted, unable to start the mammoth task of translating the page. No motivation, as she did not choose her school. She had no desire to learn the dead language but was eager to learn and understand the pop songs she could hear on the television. But he said she could not choose language school as she had to become a notary. He had her life all planned out with him at the center of it, for eternity. If she was to follow his plans, she could never be free, and she would have to remain under his patriarchy for the rest of her life. She could not accept his structured plan that saw her attending grammar school, getting a degree in law, specialising and becoming a notary, opening her study to help her with invoices and accounts. Finally, she would marry and have kids while living with him. There was no escape from him in this plan. She would be under his control for the rest of her life. 

Scared from the perspective, she had decided that, as soon as possible, she would leave and go as far as possible from him, his family, and this prison. So she would not end up dead like her mother.

She struggled to concentrate as the words jumbled up on the paper, and a persistent buzz was playing in her ears: stress? Tension? Anxiety? She was not sure, but she was not able to concentrate on the task at hand. The sudden noise of the old elevator brought her back to the present, and panic set inside her now dry throat. It was early; he should not be home yet? She checked the time and panicked, only to hear the elevator stopping on the fourth floor. She could hear the rhythmic clicking noise of the wooden doors followed by the loud thumping of the metal door.

Phew, sometime before his return – she thought. She tried again to concentrate on the text to be translated but struggled… Try as she might, she really could not make sense of what had happened to Julius Caesar. She didn’t care. She was only worried about what would happen to her on his return if she would be alive tomorrow if she would have new bruises to cover up.

The afternoon slowly turned into evening. As the outside light dimmed, Laura turned the table light on to carry deciphering the old language to ensure she would get a decent grade, and therefore she would avoid giving him yet another excuse to tell her what a failure she was.

She spent her days and nights trying not to give him any excuse to be violent, to get angry. The father she adored as a kid had become a terrible, persistently angry ogre nowadays. And she was alone with him, and nobody was willing to protect her. She wondered once again whether she would manage to get alive to be eighteen or if he would kill her before. 

Her thoughts were in turmoil, wondering from what happened to Caesar, to her friends, to the conversations she had with Paul a few days ago; she could not focus on the book, so she put her head down onto the old table and closed her eyes for a minute. Then, the reverie started, and the whole conversation with the only person who cared for her resounded in her head. She thought she could even now hear his breath and the pauses between each sentence. She could see his kind and concerned brown eyes and the little askew smile while he looked at her trying to comfort her. Oh, she loved him so much. He cared for her; she could see in all his movements, in his rush to come to see her when she managed to get away for five or ten minutes, his visits to church with her where they would hold hands. A meeting between two lonely and isolated young people searching for what they had lost before the race had even begun.

Paul was her knight in shiny armour; only, instead of a horse, he appeared in front of her inside a white Ford car. He, older than her, was seeking his birth parents and, recently orphaned of his adoptive dad, was unsatisfied, uncertain of his identity. She was abused and alone, unable to feel a sense of belonging, missing her roots, missing the certainties her mother should have given her. The two of them had found themselves amongst the indifferent people hurriedly walking amongst Rome’s streets. Then, a gaze, simple electricity communicating without the need for words, and they started talking. He was the first person to show her love and respect. 

Only a few days ago, as he spotted the new bruise covering her cheekbone, just under the right eye, he caressed the bruise and, at her flinching, Paul hurriedly reassured her he would never hurt her. He then went into a strange conversation, offering her a new perspective on what was happening at home. The conclusion of the chat gave Laura the thought that maybe there was hope; perhaps she had an option. At the end of this pivotal conversation, her view on her father’s beatings had changed; she had decided to leave to survive.

Paul told her that he had the same right as her father to hit her as her boyfriend. She refused this theory, and he asked her the reason behind her acceptance of FDM beatings. They called him FDM as Son of a Bitch. They refused to say his name or title to keep his presence, his mere existence outside of the spare and short peace moments they could find together. At this conversation, Laura understood that her father had no right to hurt her; after all, if he had the right, so would Paul as her boyfriend. After this moment, all the beatings were considered abuse, not the father’s right on a defenseless daughter whose only fault was to be born the wrong gender.

The evening after this awakening event, her father arrived home late as, he said, he had to drive around for over one hour to find a local car park. She was naive, so she accepted the explanation, not having a clear sense of the time or the parking context. He arrived home angry, with no reason given. She could sense his anger from the way he moved and from the pace he was moving at. She remained quiet; then, she looked at the door to ascertain the keys were in the lock; just in case she had to make a quick exit. The large bunch of keys was dangling from the lock, good. 

He went straight into the lounge, where he placed his jacket on the back of a chair and removed his tie. He pulled his shirt from his trousers, kicked his shoes, and lay down on the brown and cream and brown velour settee. 

  • Turn the telly on – he ordered. She obliged. 

She remained standing next to the television, waiting for this to warm up and turn on, ready to follow father’s directions to press the buttons that would change the channels until he would decide what to watch. She was to be his remote control.

He eventually found the channel he liked and gave her permission to sit. She favoured a wooden rocking chair as it was the furthest away from the sofa. She hated sharing space with him, and she hated his unwashed body and dirty socks smell.

They spent the evening till eight pm watching telly. I say watched, but all she did was to blank out and go into reveries thinking of the rare moments spent with Paul, their first kiss, his warm skin next to her lips. She evaded the present as much as she could these days as her life was not worth living. These few moments kept her alive.

She abruptly came back as he was shouting, telling her she was an idiot. He was demanding to know what she was thinking about and why she was ignoring him. She was not ignoring him; in fact, she had retreated into a different place altogether. This was her serene space, void of violence, a warm and safe place.

He was angry, and his accusations and insults quickly escalated to when he ordered her to go near the sofa so he could hit her. She refused, so he sat up onto the sofa and, increasing the volume of her voice, proceeded to stand up and menaciously walk towards her. He grabbed her hair, and amidst insults and spits, he punched her face, caught her on the nose that immediately started bleeding. He thumped her chest and, at her struggling to breathe, pushed her onto the ledge above the fireplace. She screamed in horror, and he shouted at her to be quiet. He told her she was a failure, a lazy loser. He would be better off if she died, that he created her, and he would kill her. The escalation had been so rapid she didn’t even realise what was happening. At that point, Paul’s words echoed inside her head, and she looked for an escape. Under his fists and kicks, she fell onto the floor. She could not feel the right side of her face. Blood covered her right hand, and she had an aching pain in her nose. 

He released her as she fell and she realised this was her chance to escape and to run. She quickly run to the door, and after rapidly opening the lock, she threw herself onto the stairs running down and far from hell. Laura wanted to stay alive, and she knew she had to run, and run she did. Immediately she heard the noise of the elevator in motion, and sure he had called it to chase after her, she accelerated the descend and managed to run to the main door and ran out of the building. The young woman could not slow the run, though, as in her head he was fast, and he would certainly get hold of her and keep his promise of killing her. She run to the end of the road when the rain, which she had not felt for the first part of the escape, started falling hard. She stopped, thinking she had put enough distance from her persecutor, her dad. She thought to herself: – What should I do now? Where can I go?

The family was not an option as they were his family and always supported him. Her friends: surely their parents would ring him thinking he would be worried about her. Think, think. She decided to get a bus and go to see her friend Ernest. He lived on his own, but his home was far away. As she had no money, she could not get on the tube; however, Laura could try getting a bus and, if lucky, the controller won’t come up, allowing her to travel without a ticket as she was penniless, as usual.

She was lucky this time, and no controller appeared, so she travelled to the end of the line on the 85. She then waited under the rain for the 93 to come and take her to safety. She was soaked. She was shivering. She didn’t care, though, as the fear of being killed made her stronger in her resolution to live. Her last few years since she went to live with her father had been hell. At this point, she didn’t care. She would let herself die as this surely would be less painful than remaining at home with the man who killed her mother and who was slowly killing her.

At times, she felt void of any strength. She struggled to survive, never mind concentrating during lessons.

He hadn’t been this way all the time, though. When she was a young child, she loved her father, and she was besotted by him, by his attention and love. He traveled to see her every other weekend when she lived with her auntie and her family. He would take her on holiday and give her undivided attention. She wanted to be with him all the time; his home was her home. There was nothing he could do for her love for him to diminish. Yet as soon as she, at the age of 10, went to live with him, she witnessed, in a rapidly increasing pace, his nasty side, his obtuse angle, his deluded grandeur sense that dominated all his actions. And slowly, fighting against her heart, she had sadly learned to hate him.

The hero of her childhood dreams had become an ogre. Angry all the time, resentful of having to look after this daughter he never wanted. He was mad because his ‘crazy’ wife had killed herself and left him with the encumbrance of having to parent their child: a girl. What had he done wrong to get a girl? So, in time, the little girl was growing up, and the father struggled with his inability to father the young girl, even though, in public, he acted as the perfect father. His ego was stuck in a time warp where his father was still alive. He wanted to be the male child. After all, he and his brother were the ‘men of the family. He felt life owed him. So, why was he burdened with this unpleasant, sad, crying, needy little girl? Why was he not able to relax once back from work? Why had he to spend his hard-earned money for her? Why couldn’t she survive with the minimum and allow him to spend money on holidays and savings? Why was the child hungry all the time? Why did she cry all the time? Indeed he was doing such a good job… so, he decided the girl must have been crazy like her mother. And he never missed the opportunity to inform her of this diagnosis as he would feel again right once she had accepted his unsupported diagnosis.

He had done the same with his wife. When he saw her, a beautiful woman decided he needed to have her, so he chased her to the level of harassment until she agreed to go out with him. He loved having the stunning model at his arm to show off in his little village, where the other men had, instead settled with ‘normal ‘ women. He was so proud, feeling the admiration gazes of the men at the exit of the church. But soon, a monster jealousy starter wrapping around his heart, he felt the need to own her, to possess her, to destroy her so she would remain with him. He started isolating her from her family and friends. He showed displeasure whenever she had contact with anyone but him so much that she stopped calling people on the phone when he was at home. He decided to undermine her already fleeting self-esteem in an attempt to isolate her from the outside world. He stopped her from taking care of her appearance. He stopped her spending money and going out of the house without him. He did not love her, even though he thought he did. He loved possessing this beautiful peacock, even though he ripped all her beautiful feathers, one by one, and reduced her to look like a miserable featherless turkey. At that point, his job was done; she had fallen onto the hard rock floor and took the only possible way out. She said goodbye and left him with the onerous appendix of a not wanted female child.

Standing at the top of the stairs, he realised the daughter had run away from him now. He stood at the top of the stairs, thinking for a minute to chase her, then refraining on the thought in the certainty she would be back as she had nowhere to go. So he stood there. Once again angry at that woman who left him. How dare she leave him: didn’t she know who he was? She had been so lucky to have him. How dare she make him look stupid in front of the whole village? Worried of what people would have thought about him at her death, he travelled to the town where he bought all available newspapers that reported her death in an attempt to bury the facts. He resented people implying he had not treated her correctly. He needed the papers to vanish so nobody would know. 

He believed she could disappear without anyone in the village wondering or questioning him about his beautiful wife’s whereabouts. He thought he was brilliant, so intelligent, that he could fool the whole world.

After all, his mother always told both his brother and him that they were special. She told them that heir family was the closest to royalty in the tiny village, that people respected them, that her husband, although dead at 50, was still the center of admiration for the ignorant folks in the town.

So he grew up convinced he was a superman, a macho man with a medallion showing on the hairy chest visible when he opened his shirt. 

He had blue eyes, and this was a much-wanted feature in the village, just like the family that had money due to land they owned. 

Because of the family’s position in the village, he had never struggled to have young girls happy to date him; however, after a while, they all left. He never understood he was being left, as he had a crazy ability to twist reality in his mind and recount the story in his favour. Once the story had been favourably edited in his head, he would tell the same story to whoever wanted to listen, and so, this edited story would become a reality. 

He used this technique often. This repeated refrains, together with the isolation he placed his women in, the self-loathe and worthlessness he created into them, has caused many damaged people and, ultimately, have killed my mother. 

He returned inside the house, locked the door, and placed himself in the lounge, on the sofa, ready to spend another evening watching telly. The thought of his daughter on the streets, without anywhere to go, didn’t ruin his evening, except for the fact that he had to change the channels as she was not there. He immediately forgot all about her as he got wrapped up in the scenes unraveling in front of his eyes.

She arrived at the building, hoping Ernest would be home. 

She was drenched and was shivering when she buzzed the doorbell. Earnest opened the door and was taken aback by the vision of this shivering mess of a girl. To him, she had always looked like a poor chick but right now, all wet and with a stained face, blood dried upon her cheek, she looked a total mess. After letting her in, he quickly gave her a towel and a clean tracksuit to change into and wiped her tears after he hugged her for what seemed an eternity.

He started a pot of stew as he knew she was always hungry, and together, they sat in the small lounge, amongst piles of books where she told him all the latest happenings. 

She started feeling warm, cosy, and, as the words left her mouth, a sense of relief started growing inside her chest, making her sob loudly.

This was the first time she left. Then, convinced by family members, she would return home, where the abuse would soon start again. On a loop. Until the day she had to choose: stay and die or leave for good and risk dying.

New hypes

I want to talk about an issue
For which we are still buying tissue
Melanin content inside you or me
is still a topic we must now agree

I never ask you about your blood cells,
your sugar levels don’t raise any bells
but your melanin levels still annoys someone
who decides to hate and to use a handgun.

Whether you are ginger, black or white,
at birth you are given no superior right.
We can’t judge someone by skin tissue
as this will not help us find any cues

if a person is bad or good, grumpy or sad
depends on attitude, mood, mum and dad,
manners, empathy, morals and beliefs
and not by blood cells or melanin release.

I need you to answer a question now:
Are you different thorough the seasons and how?
Surely you stay the same, no matter what
even when the sun shines and it’s hot?

Your skin changes colour and gets a glow
your brain, your heart stay the same, though
Let’s all stop using old stereotypes
and create positive and bright new hypes!

Cheaters

In my opinion, cheating is worse than killing someone. If you betray someone you love, you kill their soul, and they will never be the same people again. You will alter their lives’ direction to the point of no return.
I talk in the first person, from my personal experience. Your experience might differ from mine.
Going back to past relationships, I can honestly say I have never cheated on anyone. I can honestly say that I left someone when I failed to feel strong emotion for them, but I have never done the horrible action of going behind their back.
I have been cheated on, though.
I can recall a few past relationships and marriages where the man cheated on me. But I have decided to concentrate this blog only on my latest husband. The one I thought I would stay with for the rest of my life. The one responsible for me being single for nearly 9 years. The one who broke my heart and made me unable to fall in love or to trust any other man ever again.
I don’t hate him.
I was asked to forgive him.
I could only do this by deciding that he must be an idiot, so I have forgiven him. But I am unable to forget or to allow an idiot back into my life. The experience left me praying for Karma. I am waiting for the day when he falls in love, and he gets betrayed.
You see, we attended the mandatory pre-marriage counseling, and the pastor asked us if there were anything we would not forgive, and I said clearly: cheating. The Bible says God hates divorce, but it also states that the only acceptable reason for divorce is cheating. I told him this many times to make sure he knew this was a deal-breaker for me. Before getting married, he gave me some doubts, but I was blinded by my self-doubt and the promises of a better future.
So we got married, we had a gorgeous baby girl. My third c-section, high risk for me, but he was expected by his culture to have at least one child. My daughter is my whole life. No regrets there.
He had never been a good communicator. Also, he would show repressed anger from time to time. I wanted to give love a possibility. I believed he was the one for me. I thought that he would change; once settled, he would become more amenable. Oh, How wrong I was.
He comes from African heritage where the men think they have to be the providers and the women must be the mothers both for them and for the children. African culture imposes on women the duty of looking after their husbands, to keep the family together.
To make our marriage successful, I conformed to his culture, started attending his church, made friends in his entourage, and was happy to add his life’s cultural background. I was more than willing to compromise, as in my head, being in a marriage means to compromise and to put the other person first. Only if this happens both ways, in fact, with one making the other happy, you get a worthy relationship that is also lasting.
After my daughter’s birth, my husband’s mother came to visit, and she spent the whole period sat on the sofa watching Nigerian movies. She sat still, doing absolutely nothing (except using the toilet) and expecting to be served on hands and foot. This was after a c-section when I needed support and some help in the house. I kept quiet and worked myself to the bone; I made sure I would give my husband support in learning about his daughter and teaching him how to create a bond with her. Besides looking after my daughter singlehandedly, I cooked meals for everyone, washed up, cleaned the house, and didn’t sleep. My daughter has never slept through the night for the first three years of her life, so he left me to get up every time he was working and was on maternity leave. I only managed to doze off or sleep a few minutes, then interrupted by my daughter’s cries for three years. This, together with other issues I have, made me chronically insomniac.
After three years spent working, taking care of everyone in the house, running after my daughter, and after the older children I had previously, I was exhausted. In the three years, aside from the above, I was also continuously making an effort to communicate with my introverted husband, who seemed to speak only when in church and choose to answer any interaction with one-word answers, expecting me to make the whole effort. I was getting tired of this, was constantly worried, was reading up and trying to find ways to interact and communicate with him. I arrived at thinking he was Asperger as his social skills, amazing in the early stages of our relationships, were invisible at this point. His interest in me had decreased to non-existent. He would answer any question with a one-word answer or a grunt. He spent all his time playing on his mobile number and would be in a bad mood when asked to do anything in the house. It was like having a moody teenage child in the house. We were at the end, but I was researching, stressing, looking for a way to move forward, reaching out to him as I am no quitter.
As I didn’t want to leave my daughter in the care of anyone else, I opened a business to keep her with me during my maternity leave. My husband helped as much as possible in setting up the business, still refusing to help in the house or care for our daughter as he thought this was a mother’s duty.
I was now going to work in the morning, taking the baby with me, shopping at the end of my 10 hours day, going home and cooking, cleaning, and trying to be a supportive wife.
Then it happened, my world crashed, and my life collapsed.
One day, I was in the office working when I received a message on my phone: ‘It’s time you know what Steve has been up to. You need to know about his double life. On reading the text message, I felt my heart-stopping. You see, Steve was my husband, yes, but also my son is called Steve. On reading the text, my brain went to my son. Maybe he was taking drugs? Or what was he doing? Utterly worried, I immediately texted back: ‘who is this, please?’ What has Steve been doing? I will call you now’. I immediately called the number, and Kerry answered the call. That call would change my life forever and was the beginning of the despair I am still in today.
Kerry was my husband’s ex-girlfriend. He saw her during our engagement, and I spoke to her on that occasion when I told her to let me know if he would go anywhere around her as I would leave him and she could have him. She rang me to inform me they saw each other from when my daughter was 2 weeks old and reached him in hotels whenever he was away for work. She informed me he was with me only because we had a daughter together but loved her. She gave me dates and details of where they supposedly met. She gave me the name of the hotel where they met the previous week. She informed me he was using a different phone to call her and kept this phone in the car.
I felt my heart stopping in my chest. I felt dizzy. I started shaking uncontrollably and felt like vomiting. After telling Kerry I needed time to process, I closed the call and told her I would call her back. I felt like dying. The man who promised to support me, the man who said we would grow old together, the very same man who begged me to have his child, was, in fact, a warm, a cheat.
I could not fully believe it. However, after a while, having accepted yet another abandonment, I called Pastor and asked him to call my husband and ask him not to come home as I felt I would kill him.
After a few days spent in a hotel and numerous attempts to ring me, he came begging for forgiveness. He never admitted to having slept with her. He told me a variety of lies to try and cover his poor mistake. He told me that the woman had an abortion of his child previously and now she was obsessed with him, that she felt he owed her due to the abortion, he gave me his diary where the dates and places she gave me didn’t correspond, until the one of last week. He told me he had met her in his hotel for a drink only to ask her to stop calling him. I argued that I would not meet a man interested in me whilst married to someone else in a hotel. In fact, I would not meet another man at all because I have principles. I checked in his car, and I found the phone. He said it was to ring his mother in Nigeria as he used a prepaid card. Needless to say, when I checked the phone numbers in there, I found Kerry’s number.
A series of events happened after this. The Church and his mother pressured me to forgive him. I could not forgive him for betraying our marriage; I kept explaining to him that sleeping or not with her was secondary to having an ongoing relationship with her and being unable to speak with me. I was doing all the work in our marriage when his loyalties lied somewhere else. We spoke, Pastor spoke and asked me to forgive him. His mother came to Uk and asked me to forgive him, saying he should not have done what he did but that we women should forgive them as men are weak. She expected me to forgive him because she was asking me to.
I reasoned with myself and felt a total failure. I was not good enough for him to love and respect me. Once again, I failed, just like Father always said I would. I was incapable of succeeding in anything. I was alone and abandoned once again. Nobody would ever want me as I was a failure.
I agreed to let him stay in my spare room. I promised to think and make a decision. But, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself to forgive him and stay with him, I was unable to commit as the trust had been broken.
This was the umpteenth time in my life where I felt abandoned by someone who was supposed to love me. I could not cope anymore. The fact he cheated on me after swearing he won’t do it at a moment when I was putting my life at risk to give him the child he needed to have to be accepted by his people just made this hard or impossible to accept. I, however, accepted and compromised, at times even tried to think of opening up to the possibility to stay with him for our daughter’s sake, but ultimately I was unable to.
The only way to forgive him, in fact, had been thinking that he was an amoral idiot with no social skills and stupid. Once I accepted this, I could not fall for him, so there was no way to respect him or be with him. How can you persuade yourself to fall in love with someone who you lost all respect for and who you know is so stupid that they don’t understand the wrong they do? What happens after forgiving them on these bases as they will be free to repeat the offending behavior hiding behind their stupidity?
How stupid am I expected to be to agree to the process, knowing that they feel they are not guilty as they made a mistake, and I, as a woman, am expected to forgive the poor teenage idiot who asks for forgiveness?
So, anyways, under duress and pressure from the Church, from his mother, and him, I agreed to allow him to live in my house, although in another room, hoping that I could in time forgive him.
Obviously, it didn’t work, as I cannot be in a relationship with someone who betrayed me at this level.
After a few years spent living separated in my home, he eventually moved out and moved on with his life. I am still grieving after nine years and still unable to trust any man.
Years have gone by, and my confidence and trust in men are still zero. I cry myself to sleep most nights as I am trapped in the fortress I built to survive the betrayal.
I wonder if this is worth it. Maybe he feels that he achieved anything, whether he is sorry. I wonder why these things happen and why people cannot be real and act the way they preach. I wonder why he felt the need to be in a certain way in church and then a different person when not in church. I wonder whether I attract cheaters, or if maybe in a previous life I might have been one, and, in this life, I am paying for my previous sins. I am unsure why this has happened to me and why I am unable to get over it. The fact remains that I have built a solid fortress around me that is isolating me in a hopeless refusal.

My head

I don’t know you, but I often get overwhelmed by the many thoughts and voices in my head. No, I am not talking about voices that tell me to kill the Prime Minister or the voices we are so used to see represented in psychological thrillers.
Literally, I have a Duty voice reminding me what I should be doing, a Chores voice reminding me to check if something I have delegated has been completed, a Reminder voice that forces me to repeat something until I get some sort of signal that the message has been conveyed. I also have a Memory voice that brings up memories associated with smells, sights, and words. I have a Parent voice keeping me in control and reaffirming my moral rules and regulation. Finally the Guilt voice tortures me all thee time.
Therefore, I might be in the middle of a lecture or the middle of a conversation when expressing a concept. I am concentrating on delivering a concept and transforming my thoughts into words in a language that is not my first language. So for example, I might be talking about Greek Theatre explaining about Greek Gods and Deus ex Machina, as I do so, Memory voice says-just like Father’, i ignore the voice, I then explain that this technique is used still today in theatre and movies and the voice says. So many rubbish ones nowadays – which goes to an actor I don’t like – which goes to the fact I haven’t been able to watch a play in over a year – which loses my focus on what I was saying.
At this point, I need to stop and take a breath and try and re-focus.
My concentration shifts in and out during the whole time, for the whole day, each day of my life. I am exhausted by all the effort I have to endure just to be able to complete a presentation satisfactorily. In all this, I forgot to mention the Worry voice that asks me whether I had locked the door when I left the house, did I put the alarm on, did I feed the dogs, did I ensure all dogs went back inside the house after sending them into the garden in the morning?
It might be that I am telling my daughter to switch off the oven in 10 minutes. We put the alarm, I tell her – she doesn’t acknowledge my instruction. I think – I have said it, she will do – but the voice reminds me of the million times I have been let down before – so I say: ‘did you hear me? Will you switch the oven off? ‘. Before I can stop thinking about this instruction, I need recognition as my Duty voice won’t stop bugging me until I have some sort of confirmation that the task will be completed.
I might be in a supermarket, I see something dropped on the floor by someone else, Duty voice moans in my head – ‘I wonder if she picks that up or she will leave it for the poor staff to have to do it – well, probably she is used to staying home and do nothing all day – oh look she picked it up – Guilt voice: –You see, you were so eager to condemn the lady and then she picked it up‘ – Parental voice: –smile at the lady to apologise. In all this, maybe there is a song played in the supermarket so Memory voice tells me: remember when you were in Budapest, and you had such a good time – Guilt voice – yes you left him as he cheated, but you should have forgiven him. Parent voice – now you have been alone for so long, and you feel lovely: why do you complain when you are the one to blame? And so on.
I struggle to get on with chores or work because this happens in my head all the time.
Any trigger brings up bad memories, traumas, longing, duty, family, past, and then it becomes anxiety, low self-confidence, self-doubt, and I find myself in a never-ending mess.
In the evening, in front of the television, I find myself unable to follow any complex movie plot. For years I have watched Columbo as I know I only need to watch the beginning before I can allow my brain to start torturing me again. I don’t even have enough time to concentrate and understand who the characters are before the many voices start. Guilt voice: have you done everything you were supposed to do today? Parent voice: have you given your daughter some attention and some boundaries? Have you paid the bills? Memory voice: You went to the supermarket and forgot to buy chicken breast, so tomorrow you will need to make time or send my daughter to the shop to get it. Guilt voice: that’s because you never do anything right. Worry voice: and because of you, she will have to do it. Worry voice: maybe because of you, she will get kidnapped or killed. Parental voice, but we live in a tranquil area, and the shop is 70 yards away. Memory voice: yes, such a tranquil area that your car got stolen last year, remember? And I go on and on torturing myself for what might or might not happen. This lasts all night, with me unable to sleep even after taking tablets and waking up the next morning feeling defeated. As I am so tired, any extra stress has me crying to my knees.
I realise I am always guarded, either expecting something to go wrong or waiting for some inner criticism. I don’t live, and I am merely surviving. In this struggle, I am hurting those around me as I cannot be who I need to support them. I am in a spiraling downward descend, and I am unable to get back up this time.
Is this even normal? Are we all programmed this way? Is this hell on earth?

You and me

I get up and you look up to me, try to keep me in bed for a few minutes more.

I wear my slippers and your nose hits my leg – stay mummy – you say.

As I walk downstairs you run down then come back to check on me.

Eagerly you step on my feet walking towards the door to go outside.

You have a run then come back and sit by my feet. I drink my coffee.

your eyes in my eyes eagerly awaiting

for whatever the master will offer, whatever adventure will come.

Sitting next to me on the sofa or going for a walk, having a bath or just a cuddle.

You hide amongst the towels while i work, you think i don’t know… but i know you are there.

i feel loved and safe just because you are there.

I turn and call you, your tail wags and i kiss your face. We are happy.

It amazes me how you adapt your life around my needs. How you don’t ask.

You love life the way it comes, all you need is my presence by you.

Your love transpires from your eyes, i feel loved.

Someone once said: oh if they could talk!

I simply replied: they do!

Not always words are needed between two who love each other