Blethers and blahs

Random ramblings from a chaotic life

Family matters

on February 12, 2007

Family Matters – what is your background, are you part of a big or small family, are you close? how often do you see your family, and is there anything you would like to improve or change about your family life?"

This is a blog prompt I spotted on UKS this morning and it was one of those moments where lots of things sort of collided in my head and changed all my plans for the day in an instant.

I have been thinking a lot about my dad recently, which is quite unusual for reasons I will share shortly.  I think it started with the new camera and my growing interest in photography.  My dad was interested in photography, although there are very few pictures of myself and my brothers as children, or even of my mum when she was younger.  We did have biscuit tin upon biscuit tin of photos of soldiers and the insides of parachutes and various foreign shores that his army career took him to.

The reason I don't think about him often is because I hardly knew him.  My mother was forced to leave him when I was 11 due to his escalating violence towards her and us.  I say forced because that's how it was, she would never have had the courage to leave him of her own free will, because she had none left, he had beaten it out of her over the years.  He did visit us a few times in the years afterwards, but the last time I remember seeing him was when I was 16 and my mum had asked him for some support with me as she felt I was becoming a bit wild.  My wildness extended to being in about 9.05 pm instead of 9pm exact and my desire to listen to music loudly or spend hours with friends outside of the house rather than help with the housework etc.  What sticks in my head was his comment to my mum as I walked out of the room having bluntly ignored his plea to do as I was told "If I was still here she wouldn't have done that!"  and he was right, I wouldn't, fear would not have let me.

Our lives with my father were very carefully controlled (hence my problems with control now)  We didn't get dirty as children because he didn't like us being dirty and would beat us.  We didn't make a noise because he didn't like noise and would beat us.  We never dared disobey him or any other adult because we would be beaten. 

Don't get me wrong my mother never let him beat us, by the time he got to us she was usually in no state to protect us.  Once she had objected so much he threw her out of the house and told her not to come back.  I was totally bereft!  I was 8 and spent the day crying in the local woods because I was too scared to go home without my mum there.  She did come back and he eventually let her in, mainly because he was hungry, I think.

Now this sounds horrendous, and it was.  It was made worse by the way no one seemed to be able to help, not teachers, friends or any other adult.  They all knew it was happening, we had the marks to prove it and we, my brothers and I, often retold the events that had happened to school staff and others but things were different then.

Despite the hell of life with my father I survived and became the person I am today, and for that I am grateful.  When my mother died I tried to trace him only to discover that he had died several years earlier. In one way I felt cheated but in another relieved.  I was scared he would deny everything or worse, try to justify it.  In some ways it is easier not knowing.

Anyway, the prompt made me want to do a LO about my dad and my mum, with hidden journalling to leave a record for those who will come after me.  So off I went to hunt out the only picture I have of him.  I found masses of pics I didn't know or had forgotten I had but I could not find the photo of my dad.  I know it is somewhere and I do have a copy of a very poor scan of it but I cannot find the original and for some reason this has really upset me.

I now have a large plastic crate of tidy photo albums but the one picture I want I cannot find.  It may well be in storage but until my sons move some of their stuff from the storage unit I cannot get in to find it.  One day I will do a LO about him and my life with him but not today.  The emotional rollercoaster this has taken me on has left me exhausted and in no mood to create.  For now I will copy this blog entry and add a few notes to it and file it away for another day.

If you read this please do not feel sorry for me, what has happened is past and gone and without it I would not have had the courage to survive some of life's other little curve balls.  The past has made me who I am and I am content with that and would not change it.  Take care x x x x

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