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Archive for the ‘family and relationships’ Category

Did you know that you can cuddle drug-addicted babies? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse one baby every 25 minutes is born with NAS.

http://www.theearthchild.co.za/you-can-volunteer-to-cuddle-drug-addicted-babies-in-order-to-help-them-heal/

I did a quick google search and found these links:

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38732789

http://www.bliss.org.uk/be-a-bliss-champion

http://www.voluntaryworker.co.uk/volunteering-help-premature-babies.html

http://www.gosh.nhs.uk/working-here/volunteering-for-us/current-opportunities/baby-buddy

There are numerous programmes in the US, but I haven’t been able to find that many here. Perhaps a more extensive search is necessary.

Do you know of any such programmes? Please do leave me any links in the comments section. Thank you.

My daughter and I did volunteered at a Convent that took in drug addicted and alcohol withdrawal syndrome babies, in Cape Town many years ago. There was one little baby that I got very attached to. He was suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome…too sad. He was absolutely precious and in the time I spent with hi, I fell in love. I made enquiries about adopting him but because he was a) african and b) likely to die soon c) I worked full-time they rejected my application. Broke my heart. He was so beautiful. I remember the very many little graves in the convent grounds….too heart-breaking. I saw a similar article to the one above a few weeks ago. I’d love to do it again.

 

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Whew, this discussion on BBC1 Breakfast yesterday morning had me in tears.

Listening to those young children saying why they were there and who they were remembering reduced me to tears. A Killing in my Family.

Being a child, especially in today’s world, is difficult enough as it is without your parent/s being killed by your other parent or a family member. It is however not a new phenomena. It amazes me still that there wasn’t a killing in my family.

For me the programme raised some VERY unwanted memories of mine (and my sisters) childhood. We, at various stages, grew up in a very violent household. My parents divorced when I was 6 and my sister just 3. My Mother remarried some years later to what I can only call a monster when I was 9 and my sister 6. She had to marry him as she was pregnant with my 2nd sister, her third daughter, and due to these circumstances would have lost my 1st sister and I to my Father  who had threatened to claim custody. This person that she married turned out to be a psychological maniac, a heavy drinker and a sexual predator. We had to call him ‘Daddy’. I recall many many fights in our home, fights that lead to violent confrontations with multiple items being thrown, as well as physical violence. On one memorable occasion my Mother slammed a plate full of spagetti bolognaise over his head at the dinner table. Her nerves had been shredded. He kept her short of money. He bitched about everything. He criticised the food. He drank a lot. He brought home unsavoury characters. Eventually she lost her control. That was one of many scenarios that peppered our lives during that period till she left him and met someone else. I think she was suffering from postpartum depression, amongst other mental health issues brought about by an unhappy childhood, and the stress of trying to cope with a young family and a very unhappy adult life. I cry for her.

My father helped her financially to divorce her 2nd husband and she then went on to form a relationship with this new person whom she had ironically met through my father’s sister. This relationship was no better than the previous, he too was a triple-A; abusive, aggressive, alcoholic – within a very short space of time we were again living in an environment of extreme violence. Friday nights were the worst. I dreaded Fridays. I knew that Friday meant a drunk live-in father (they weren’t married at that stage) who came home from the pub reeling and reeking of alcohol and violent with pent up rage*. By this stage my Mother was pretty much an alcoholic as well and so the evening would deteriorate and the weekend would be hell in one form or another.

Glass and food and anything else that came to hand would be thrown. Much glass had to be swept up by myself at the end of the passage…which happened to be the entrance to my bedroom. I couldn’t escape into my room till I had cleaned up the glass because it would have cut my feet. Never mind what it would have done to a 9 year-old and a toddler. Besides that, my Mother would make us clean up the mess. 😦

I remember the screaming. The punches.The blood. The glass. The alcohol. The fear. The terror. I couldn’t eat honey for decades, and my sister still has difficulty with eating honey. He would, in his drunken rages, spread honey from floor to ceiling …..we had to clean it up. But some years ago, not long after I left my South African me behind and found a new UK me, did I force myself to eat honey. I refuse at this stage of my life to allow something like that to dictate what I eat.

My best-friend at the time, with whom I am now back in contact via facebook, remembers one particular instance, when late at night, when all children should be happily and safely in bed, a pounding on their door. It was me. Screaming…. “he’s going to kill my Mother”.

She recalls the incident with clarity. For me, it was one of many. We lived a good half hour’s walk away from them. I dont remember that incidence in particular. They’ve all become rather muddled.

But I do remember the fear of those years. Yes, there were ‘good’ times. Yes, we had ‘fun’. My Mother had a brilliantly wicked sense of humour and she tried her best to make life good for us. And kids just get on with it. You seem to form a shell around yourself and just get on with life. By my early teenage years I was pretty wild and finally I got packed off to live with my father in Cape Town who had been married to his 2nd wife for many years, a bit like going from the fire into the frying pan….although there wasn’t much by way of alcoholic fights with open violence, there was emotional trauma. Arguments that went on for days. Bitching that never ended. Criticism that endeavoured to bring my Mother down in my/our eyes. And no, it wasn’t limited to just that period. We got to spend Christmas holidays with him and his wife too. What a joy that was. The only best thing I can recall from those days was the love and relationship I had for my adopted brother (he died over 30 years ago). And somewhere along the line my 2nd brother was born. Oh and I loved Cape Town. 🙂 Which helped. My heart city.

However, after 5 months of living with them, I was weirdly glad to eventually go home to my Mother at the end of the school year. I was 14 at the time.

The violence escalated and escalated.

Eventually my youngest sister came along. Nothing changed at home. My Mother was rushed to hospital a few days after this birth. Apparently she was haemorrhaging? That’s what we were told. She soon came home and life returned to ‘normal’. They eventually got married some years later to fulfil a wager she had with her sister. I think by then my Mother’s spirit was broken and she just did whatever seemed right at the time to survive. It didn’t in any way or form change things. The violence still continued. Right up until a few days before she died in 1984.

The reason I had been sent packing to my father in Cape Town was that I had become quite promiscuous. By the age of 14 I had already had a number of boyfriends and although I hadn’t yet had sexual relations, it came pretty close and at the time I was ‘involved’ against my Mother’s wishes with a man a good 10 years older than me. So off I went, banished to Cape Town. I returned to my Mother’s home just before Christmas 1970. On New Year’s day 1971 I was introduced to a man who was 6 years older than me and a good friend of my Mother’s sister…the one she had the wager with. They all liked him and thought he would make good marriage material. And so I went into a relationship at the age of 14 with the man who was to become my 1st husband. By the age of 15 I was no longer a virgin. Apparently, according to him he would have a heart-attack if I didn’t have sex with him because I was very ‘sexy’ and ‘turned him on’ and it was cruel to deny him. And so it went. By then I had been sexually molested by an uncle, both my step-fathers and a family friend, so it didn’t seem unusual. I hated it though. From 6-15, and even then it didn’t stop.

During this period, the violence at home continued. The guy I had been introduced to, who was now my boyfriend, moved into our home after about 10 months because my Mother (again kept short of money and by now just a shadow of herself) needed the money. And so we had a boarder that had sex with her  eldest daughter and was accused of being the father of her 4th child who was a baby at the time, by the father of said child. And the violence continued. Madness.

I remember one time coming home from school to find my Mother in a pool of blood on the lounge floor. She had slashed her wrists. I cleaned up the blood, helped her to bed and life went on.

Eventually I got married at 17 (another story) and left home. We lived in a caravan near to my Mother and her husband, who lived in the same caravan park. Although we lived at least three rows away, we could still hear the screaming and the fights at the weekend. Fights that led to severe physical violence. My Mother by that stage gave as good at what she got and I remember one time when I ran over to check that my sisters were okay (the fight was that loud) I was confronted with a man who had blood running profusely from his mouth. My Mother had slammed a glass of whisky into his face. It ended in 1984 when my Mother died. A victim of domestic violence, although not actually physically killed by her husband.

In all honesty, when I look back at those times, I am amazed, bemused, surprised, incredulous that there wasn’t ‘a killing in our family’.  Oh how we would have benefited from counselling.

So watching that programme this morning really churned things up. I manage to keep a lid on it all most of the time and have done for decades, but when I saw those little kids speaking about how they are there to remember their Mothers or Fathers lost to violence in their home, it just slams me in the heart. I’m so glad to see that there is an organisation there to help them and counsel them, and hopefully help them to heal.

My Mother died when she was 52. By then she had lost her spirit. I remember her saying so many times over those later years; “when C (her 4th and youngest daughter) is 13, I’m going to leave him” (her 3rd husband). She did. She died. She had a series of massive strokes just before my sister turned 13 and died just 4 days after my sister turned 13. I was 29. My other 2 sisters were 25 and 19 respectively. Those days are a blur. What I do remember the most besides not being able to cry, was having to organise the funeral because her husband was so drunk he couldn’t function, and one of my Aunts after the funeral giving me a R10.00 note in a card….to help support my sisters. Fuck you bitch. You stood by and did NOTHING for years and years. And you gave me R10!!!! and fucked off without a look back afterwards. I threw the money in the rubbish. If there is one thing that still enrages me, it’s that!

What today I find extraordinary is that so many people knew what was happening in our home; our Doctors, the Police, neighbours, friends and family members. And no-one did anything substantial enough to stop it. I know my father threatened many times to ‘take us away’ his 2 daughters from our Mother, but we loved her dearly and would not have gone willingly, despite what was going on at home.

This type of organisation is invaluable for children whose lives have been turned upside-down by violence and death in the home. I hope you will consider supporting them. Winston’s Wish.

http://www.winstonswish.org.uk/supporting-winstons-wish/

 

* he had a rather troubled childhood and I remember my Mother telling me (us) one time that his mother self-immolated in front of him when he was a child. I have no idea of this was true, but that is what I was told.

If you know of any children affected by violence in the home, please do something about it. You may just save a life.

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It’s normal at this time of the year to think about and consider what, if any, resolutions you may want to make. Hundreds of articles are written each year on the ‘how to’, ‘ the why’, ‘the when’ etc etc, only for many of them to fall by the wayside when real life takes over.

Personally I stopped making resolutions decades ago (urgh, that word ‘decades’ ages me LOL). I seldom kept to them. I am a procrastinator, something I’ve recently named and shamed, and my philosophy in life has always been ‘if it can be done tomorrow….’ And so my resolutions usually fell by the wayside. I’m also fairly lazy…especially if my resolution doesn’t match my values. Ergo…..the “I want to lose weight” resolution simply doesn’t work well if you love food! And chocolate. And cake. And ice-cream. And Vogels bread with latherings of butter and Robertson’s Lime jelly…….and so on and so on; you get my drift. So I’ve pretty much given up on making any resolutions that have anything to do with dieting – besides being unhealthy for my psyche, as soon as I decide to cut something out…I start to crave it.

So no, resolutions don’t work for me. Goals….hmmm, there are so many goals I would like to set and I went through a stage of trying to learn how to set goals but I find it incredibly difficult to make a goal only for my circumstances to change and the goal disappears (my personal development journey that didn’t work too well for me…) and so we get down to plans and intentions.

Plans I can do!! I love lists. I love spreadsheets. So plans I can do. I find it a thrill to make plans to do something. It’s like Dr John Demartini says “find someone’s highest values and they will be more likely to succeed”.

quote# “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.’’  Ralph Waldo Emerson – Poet and Essayist

So what are my plans and intentions for 2017?

  1. To walk more – dead easy…I love walking. I would walk for miles every day if I could.
  2. To travel more – I love travelling. The thrill of going somewhere new. Visiting a new place for me is like discovering a closed door….open the door and all manner of delights await.
  3. I intend to spend more quality time with my daughter. Again this is just so easy!! I will be moving to new accommodation at the end of January, so we will be able to plan to get together 🙂
  4. To start saving for my daughter’s 2018 June wedding – I intend to work a few extra days each month to achieve this.
  5. To visit at least 2 islands I haven’t been to yet.
  6. To visit at least 4 new cities in England – I can ask the agency to send me to different locations and while I’m there I can explore the area.
  7. To visit my brother and his family in Budapest.
  8. To improve my photographs and learn more about what makes a great photo. I love taking photos…in fact I take way too many, but I enjoy keeping a record of where I was when and photographing everything I see 😉
  9. To explore healthier options in the food line. While I was working at my last job I discovered the joy of experimenting with recipes. This however could lead to a bit of a challenge…..if there’s more than 3 ingredients…I get bored. hahaha. Also many of my clients prefer plain simple English cooking….
  10. To read more books. To that end I’ve listed a few books on my Amazon wish list that I plan to buy.
  11.  To reduce my debt. This is still a very sore point with me. Thanks to the personal development journey in 2007/2008, and the said guru’s advice on OPM I am still struggling to pay off my debt. But I’ve reduced it from £50k in 2008 to just over £15k in 2017. eish. 10 years on. Anyway that issue still irks me so best to leave it alone. Suffice to say, I am slowly getting there…paying the credit cards off while still having a life.
  12. And the biggie for me this year…..to walk the Camino de Santiago. I had planned to walk the Portuguese route last year in September, but the UK Customs & Excise taxes on my SA shipment put paid to that. New Year = New Intention!!
  13. To see more sunrises or sunsets…depending on where I am in the world. “The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Eden Phillpots
  14. To blog more often……hence this blog 😉
  15. To walk the Worcestershire Way.
  16. To book to watch the 2018 London fireworks….they are amazing.

    plans, goals, intentions and resolutions

    Happy New Year 2017 – London

Where and when to start? Needless to say the easiest plan to start with is the walking. It is my intention to walk the Camino this year. To do that I must at least have achieved a certain level of fitness to make the walk pleasant….I do not want blisters and sore feet!

So with that in mind, and despite it being a perfectly vile day; wet and cold and windy….typical New Year’s Day weather in the UK, I set off on the first of my intentions; to walk more.  Bundled up in my winter woollies and raincoat I set off along the coast and walked to just past Dumpton Gap and back – 1 hour; 5.1 kms; 7282 steps; yes!!!

goals, plans, intentions and resolutions

New Year’s Day – Camino practice walk

Happy New Year folks…..I’d love to hear what your Plans, Goals, Intentions and Resolutions might be….

 

 

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2016 was indeed a very weird year. For some it was marred by tragedy, for some it will be remembered with love. We all watched in horror as the tragedies in Syria unfolded, many sobbed at the deaths of favoured pop stars, actors, musicians and the like, either cheered or reacted with fury at the result of Brexit, and millions watched amazed and not without trepidation as America elected Trump as their next president (I use the diminutive ‘p’ deliberately). So much has happened in 2016 it seems that it was a year of extremes.

For me personally it was a year of highs and more highs, of love and laughter and a few tears. These were the highlights of my 2016

January:

goodbye 2016

January 2016

My daughter and I saw in 2016 at the London Eye and then went for waffles and cream at Caffe Concerto in London

Saw the amazing Les Lumineoles in London

February:

goodbye 2016

February 2016

I got my citizenship – my daughter attended the ceremony with me at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone.

Managed my very first ‘proper’ #selfie LOL

Got arty with my photography

March:

goodbye 2016

March 2016

My daughter treated me for Mother’s Day with a journey on the British Pullman Orient Express.

goodbye 2016

Cémanthe – my Mothers Day treat

Squeezed in a visit to my favourite palace; Hampton Court while in Thames Ditton

Bumped into my sister and Yoda at Trafalgar Square in London

I received my very first British Passport.

My daughter bought her first UK car

April:

goodbye 2016

April 2016

I travelled by ferry from Dover to Calais and got to see the White Cliffs of Dover for real

I went to Windsor to see the Queen for her 90th birthday walkabout

goodbye 2016

April 2016 Happy 90th Birthday Queen Elizabeth II

My daughter and I went to Paris for a day to celebrate both my birthday and my citizenship

I celebrated my birthday at Dover Castle and St George & his dragon

goodbye 2016

St George & the dragon 23 April

May:

goodbye 2016

May 2016

I spent 2 weeks in South Africa visiting family and preparing to send my possessions to the UK.

I got to meet my nephew and niece for the first time.

Started my Camino 2016 practice walks

June:

goodbye 2016

June 2016

I went to Trooping the Colour for the 6th year in a row – London in summer is gorgeous

I walked my first 28 km stint from Broadstairs to Sandwich (45279 steps!!)

July:

goodbye 2016

July 2016

An early and first visit to Bath to celebrate my daughter’s birthday

I saw the Clifton Suspension Bridge at Bristol – finally!!!

I visited my lovely friend Valy in Brussels and visited Antwerp

August:

goodbye 2016

August 2016

Visited Dover Castle to watch the 1216 Siege re-enactment

Spent the day in Canterbury with my daughter to celebrate her birthday

September:

goodbye 2016

September 2016

My daughter and I did our first geocaching treasure hunt.

I watched the annual Great River Race in London – my friends of the Trinity Tide won in their category again 🙂

I watched the wooden replica of City of London burn  at the 350th Anniversary event

goodbye 2016

04.09.2016 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London 1666

My first visit to Great Malvern in Worcestershire – added another county to my list

Spent the day in London and went up The Shard with my daughter and my sister

October:

goodbye 2016

October 2016

Spent a few days in Rye with my sister for her birthday and went to Hastings

Watched the cheeky Russian Navy sail their warship through our waters…

November:

goodbye 2016

November 2016

Went to my lovely friend; Lucy’s wedding – she married her sweetheart Tom

Visited Gravesend in Kent at last

My first visit to Lancashire – and added another county to my list

Reached the Worcestershire Beacon in the Malvern Hills

goodbye 2016

November 2016 – climbed the Worcestershire Beacon

December:

goodbye 2016

December 2016 – Worcester

Visited Worcester and the fabulous cathedral

Climbed to Worcestershire Beacon again

My daughter and her boyfriend got engaged at Tower of London – he asked me to be his Best Man for the South African ceremony 🙂

goodbye 2016

Cémanthe & Simon – engaged to be married in 2018

Celebrated an early Christmas with my daughter and her now fiancé Simon

goodbye 2016

2016 our first Christmas with Simon, first of many more

And along the way I watched hundreds of sunrises and a few sunsets, travelled far and wide and visited quite a few new places.

goodbye 2016

2016 sunrise and sunset around the country

I started my Camino practice walks that changed from 2016 to 2017 ;).

 

UPS lost my hard-drive with 10 years worth of my photos, memories and incalculable information (bastards). I finally upgraded my phone and made great strides in figuring out how to do stuff on the internet on my own.

goodbye 2016

2016 – some of the books I’ve read and 2 of my Camino practice walks

My daughter and I had many amazing mini adventures,

goodbye 2016

2016 mini adventures with my daughter

enjoyed numerous cream teas, I read a number of terrific books, watched The Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament and on Christmas Day.

goodbye 2016

2016 treats and the Queen

I’m no richer, no poorer, not thinner or fatter…my hair has grown down past my shoulder again and I have spent innumerable hours of fun and laughter with my daughter.

This is my last blog for 2016.

It’s been a good year all in all; goodbye 2016….see you soon 2017!!!

Happy New Year

 

 

 

 

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I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted to announce that my delightful, darling daughter has said YES!!!! to her wonderful beau, Simon’s question 🙂 They’re engaged and I’m thrilled.

they're engaged

Cémanthe & Simon…he proposed, she said yes 🙂

They went to London for the day with some friends. They went all over the place and then when they got to Tower of London for the ice-skating….he proposed…on the ice!! 🙂

Bless him, he’s been practising like mad to learn to ice-skate and not fall over….so tonight he asked her the big question. First he had the DJ play their song ‘At Last’ by Etta James, and then as she rushed back over the ice to be with him, she noticed a big sign, held up by his friends, that said “Cémanthe will you marry me?” He then, so very romantically, went down on one knee, on the ice and popped the question….the ring was all ready. They then announced over the tannoy that she had said yes, and everyone cheered. Awww, I love it…..so romantic.

Love is in the air….I guess I have a wedding to start saving for. Welcome to the family Simon. What a gem you are. Clever man!!!!

At last…….

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It’s a year ago today since my Father passed away. He died on his own, in his flat. I’m still not sure what happened; was it a heart-attack, a blackout that caused him to fall and bang his head, another stroke? I haven’t been told.

And therein lies the rub of it. I haven’t been told. I have asked….but does anyone know? I’m not sure. We are the products of my father’s history….a secretive family. I hate secrets.

It’s kinda weird really knowing he is dead. It’s kinda weird knowing that I haven’t been affected by his death at all. I know my siblings have. And I feel more for them, for their loss. What is it that I feel for them? Sadness that they’ve lost someone who to them was a dearly beloved father? Pain at their loss? Empathy at the loss of a parent? I’m not really sure. I haven’t yet stopped to examine my feelings. What I do know is, the older I get the more I wish – I wish he had been a loving father, a role model, someone for me to look  up to, someone I had good memories of….someone who was there for me!!

He was 85 years old when he died. And he was old. Apparently slipping into Alzheimers, according to my sister he often got lost, confused and belligerent. 15 years past the expected 3 score and 10! More than my Mother was blessed with. She’s been gone 32 years now. My daughter asked me this morning how I was feeling. Honestly, I feel annoyed. Annoyed that he died so close to my Mother’s birth date of 6th December. It’s a bit of an annoyance to me that he died so close to her special date. Forces me to remember his date. You know as in ‘my father died the day after my Mother’s birth date’.

Actually……I lost my father when I was 5 years old and my sister 3 years old; his two children from his first marriage. The two children left behind as he set off on adventures new. Oh yes we were included….maybe twice a year…during school holidays or at Christmas. Sometimes he even appeared for our birthdays…often he promised to and didn’t.  I remember one year in particular…..I had received a much wished for train-set for my 6th birthday and he had promised to come…..he didn’t. I ran and hid in the water-tower. The place where his brother-in-law found me. The one who was a paedophile. The one my father should have protected me from. He didn’t. He didn’t believe me then and he didn’t believe me when I was in my 20’s and told him again what had happened.  He told me not to spread lies and talk about people like that. As if a 6 year-old knows the details of sexual assault without having been subjected to it. As if a 20-year old would or could forget

I am the eldest of my father’s children. There are 5 of us…..4 girls and one boy, one of whom was adopted by my father and his 3rd wife. There used to be 6 of us. My brother Arnold, who was also adopted by my Father when he married his 2nd wife, died in his 20’s from a ruptured ulcer. He too died alone. He too was found wanting. I was surprised on the day my Father told me that my brother had died…..he was crying? Even then I wasn’t sure why? My brother was not his favourite child.

Yes, my father remarried after he divorced my Mother. It wasn’t that long after. He adopted his new wife’s child; a boy – Arnold. Some years later he had another child with his 2nd wife; also a boy. He divorced his 2nd wife too many years later, and remarried again. He and his 3rd wife adopted a child; a girl. They then had another child; also a girl.

These are my siblings. I have 1 real sister. 1 half brother. 1 dead brother. 1 adopted sister. 1 half sister – all from my father’s side. I have 2 other siblings; both half-sisters, girls from my Mother’s 2nd and 3rd marriages. I was the eldest. I often wish we were closer, my siblings and I. All of them I mean. We’re relatively close, each in different ways, in our different relationships, but not in the ways that really count, like growing up together, like shared fun family times, like having the same set of parents, like all being ‘real’ brothers and sisters. Although the family ties are there, it’s been a tricky road to walk. A lot of angst. Many secrets. Don’t tell……

Over the years I had a troubled relationship with my Father. The only time I recall being close to him was when I was very young. He used to tell me I was his favourite?  I’m not sure why since he always expressed a level of disappointment in my ‘non-achievements’ as he saw them. I didn’t have an interest in going to University. Strike 1. I wasn’t interested in the son of a family friend that he was keen for me to get engaged to. Strike 2. I married at 17 years of age to someone he didn’t approve of. Strike 3. In fact he refused to walk me down the aisle. That was left to my Mother’s 3rd husband. The person who paid for the wedding. The person who had assaulted and beaten my mother for the 6 years prior. The person who had openly and brazenly sexually abused me as a teenager. He had a particular affection for my budding breasts. I was unable to tell my father. He had already told me not to spread lies about people. After 3 years I divorced my 1st husband. I then had another disastrous relationship with a very abusive man. Thankfully I ended that.  I eventually married a second time. I didn’t ask my father to walk me down the aisle.

I had a daughter outside of that marriage. A daughter that my Father felt I was not caring for properly, not feeding properly, not dressing properly. If there was something he could criticise, he did. His opinion of me as a mother was low. Strike 4. In actual fact, my daughter was the cleanest, most well-looked after baby you could wish to find. I used to change her clothes at least 3 times a day. She was skinny from birth. My milk didn’t nourish her and she had to go onto bottles. She was loved and cherished. But that wasn’t good enough for my father. He and his 3rd wife had wanted to adopt her you see. So I was found wanting.

During the 90’s after his 3rd wife went off the rails and started drinking heavily she started to verbally abuse my sister and I (you know, the one’s from his 1st marriage). We would get long abusive phone calls at all hours of the day or night. As a result, after a time, a restraining order was laid against her. My father refused to have anything to do with us after that. We, he and I didn’t talk for 4 years. That also meant I didn’t get to see or talk to his youngest children, my sisters. That was hard. It’s affected our relationship to this day. Do I wish we had been closer? Definitely. Thankfully we are now adults and can choose.

To say that I had a rocky and turbulent relationship with my father would be an understatement. I resented his authoritarian parental methods. I felt he hadn’t the right to chastise or criticise me when he hadn’t stayed around to raise me. When I was much older I understood the reason why he was authoritarian (his father was a tyrant) but nonetheless I resented him. I resented the broken promises. I resented that he discarded one for another. I resented the huge house that he lived in with his ‘new’ family while my Mother struggled to raise us in a tiny flat. I resented the car he had. At home we had to walk carrying loads of shopping or take a bus if we went anywhere. My Mother couldn’t afford a car. I resented, although I always looked forward to them with great excitement, the flights to Cape Town for the holidays. Holidays that were filled with anger and shouting. He and his 2nd wife didn’t get along too well. I resented that he drove a divide between us and them. I resented the secrets. The ‘don’t tell anyone’. I hate secrets.

I remember sitting in the Mall on the East Rand many years ago when I was already in my 40’s, meeting up with my father for coffee and having what I thought would be a grown-up discussion….it ended up with me screaming at him for not listening, not hearing me. Lashing out at his disparaging comments. At his unwillingness to even give me the benefit of the doubt. I tried to tell him so much. He wouldn’t hear me. When I was made Regional Personnel and Financial Manager for a Group of Companies in 1984….his reply: are you sure you can cope? Well I did and I thrived. I went on to become Regional Manager for the Eastern Cape. Still he was unimpressed.  His reply “Oh yes?” in that tone of voice I had learned so well over the years; it told me all I needed to know. He never said he was proud of me – ever! I hated him for a very long time.

When I came to the UK in 2001 I felt I was leaving that all behind me. I had a lot of distance between me and….then. He came to the UK in 2007…not to see me specifically but because the Tour de France was due to start from London. He was a cycling fanatic. Seeing me was incidental. On the day of the TdF start we spent some time together. I mentioned that I was thinking of walking The Camino. His reply: “you can’t, you have to be religious to do that”. Why? Millions of people walk The Camino. Many of them are not religious. He cycled The Camino. I forget how many times. He wasn’t religious. He believed he was a Christian.  So why when I said I wanted to walk was I found wanting. Still. After 50 odd years? Ironically he cycled The Camino earlier last year with my sister. She’s not religious.

I saw him last about 5 years ago on a trip to South Africa. That was the last photo I have of him and me together. We’re both smiling. Photos are so deceptive. He phoned me for my 60th birthday in 2015. I was shocked beyond belief that he had phoned. It was the last time I spoke to him.

He had a group of friends through the Al Anon group that he attended for many years in Cape Town. When I saw their comments about him on his Facebook profile after he died, it’s like they’re talking about a completely different person. Someone I don’t know. He won an award the day before he died. I didn’t even know.

I feel sadness for my siblings. At the loss of their father. But do I feel a sense of loss for myself? No. I don’t. I lost my father 56 years ago; when I was 6 years-old.

 

 

 

 

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The more you give the more you get back. It’s scary opening our heart sometimes but I urge you to try it. If you have the courage to be vulnerable, especially if you’re in a leadership role, you empower others. I arrived in India 2 days ago to do a yoga course and didn’t know […]

via The power of being vulnerable  — Less is More

I’ve shared Helen’s post as it comes a few hours after I read an article about the Camino that really caught at me. I posted the article on facebook along with this comment:

“Reading this actually brought tears to my eyes….I simply cannot wait to go. It also clarified for me why I want to do this on my own….I want to be taken right out my comfort zone, I want to be confronted by challenges, I want to be alone in the crowd and yet one with my companions, I want to be physically, mentally and emotionally challenged, I want the Camino to ‘walk’ me!!! I simply cannot wait…albeit wait I must…but soon. Soon.”

Helen’s post resonated with me tonight because when walking the Camino we do open ourselves up to being vulnerable; in so many ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend until we start.

Here is the Camino article. http://www.caminoadventures.com/days-arriving-santiago-de-compostela/

What really caught my attention in the article was this: the 3 important questions necessary for growth (if not sanity):

  • Where am I going?
  • Where have I been?
  • Who am I?

I can answer the first two fairly easily, but it was the 3rd question that caught at me. This is something that I have been questioning of late and sometimes I really don’t know. Life has shaped me in weird ways, experiences have either warped me or shaped me…..Who am I? is a question that I reckon my journey along The Way is going to challenge me.

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