I haven’t been raised to be who I am, I was raised to be something quite different and I fought against that system heartily because it felt wrong, corrupt and somewhat evil.
I read ferociously, reading was my weapons against self-destruction.
I am glad I took the quiet path and found solace within the pages of books – because the other path would have been a huge detriment to myself, my life, any offspring I had and perhaps a loss of art from my perspective – because the alternative path would have been a life of sordid means and running away from problems, skipping town to town to avoid being tracked by my past abusers and potentially I would have followed one of my older siblings into a life of crime.
Instead the path I took was a weird one, for the type of family I was raised in.
My mother often told me she was disappointed that I appeared to be some kind of flake, some kind of weird little creature who sat in dark corners reading books and seemed alien to what she said was a normal person’s idea of fun!
So what did my mother think was a normal person’s idea of fun? Going out Friday and Saturday nights drinking themselves into a stupor with your friends, gorging on take aways and BBQs wherever possible and bothering the doctor about your strange back pain, without telling your doctor that you recently fell off a balcony with an 8ft drop because you were too drunk to realise what you were doing! Oh but that’s not all, pick on the quietest person in your group and make them do things they’d never do without your cajoling and bullying – oh such fun!
Then on Sundays spend all day cleaning the house whilst worshipping God in the form of watching biblical movies in dead silence.
If it wasn’t for books I would have successfully ran away by the age of fourteen, I knew at that age the only people who’d help me on the street were the bad kind and I was near enough prepared for it because I needed a way out. I knew from past experiences of other women in my life that once you are in that kind of life, it is hard to get out of it, but I very nearly took that chance. Thought that maybe I’d earn my way out, but you never do. The big kick which knocked sense into me was that I had a cousin who had the same notion – only she had the guts to actually do it and came back home in tears, black and blue and with a new found drug addiction only a year older than me, she didn’t know, like I did back then, that it’s not only sex they get you into for money, but drugs too and in order to sell it, you have to take it yourself like a good sales person.
Fifteen years down the line, it killed my cousin. She was murdered when she was clean of drugs for nearly 2yrs as an effort to win her kids back from welfare and stumbled across her old dealer who was desperate for her to buy again! It could have been me, if I chose the same path.
Drugs was a big issue for me, because I saw the damage it did to several of our relatives growing up, drink and drugs are bad, very bad, it changes people heads, make them do stupid things and then they fall apart in tears because they genuinely didn’t meant to ram your head into the wall fifteen times, they were just stressed that’s all! So I never wanted to experiment or be lead into it. Several near misses though of people trying to sneak it into me, but I was paranoid around strangers and never accepted food or drink from anyone just in case!
No, after what happened to my cousin I decided to stay as the quiet one of the family, lock myself away in my room because if I didn’t, I’d usually end up the night’s entertainment!
They treated me like a circus freak, something to poke fun out of, to test, experiment with, to scare, to have a laugh with her, see what she’ll do next, like some kind of trained monkey or puppet.
Despite all of this, they still had the audacity to call themselves god fearing Christians!
If it weren’t for books, I wouldn’t have wanted to be a writer. Because I thought movies were just movies, people playing pretend and they made something good together; it didn’t occur to me until I watched several Stephen King movies with my horror loving grandma that I kept seeing in the credits “written by Stephen King” over and over again in most of the movies I watched. I knew when I went to markets and charity shops that Stephen King books were everywhere and I decided to collect and read them at the age of 9.
My grandma was very encouraging – another horror fan in the family made her feel less lonely.
I realised at the age of nine most books I liked were movies and that movies very rarely come from other places; I liked movies and I wanted to watch my ideas on the TV or at the cinema. I wanted the world to visually see what I see in my head or at least adaptions of it.
Books are a love – but mostly I love movies, I am very stimulated by vision and art. I learn better with visual cues for example – I have mild dyslexia and dyscalculia as well as ADD and Paul thinks ADHD. If something visually pulls me, I lose concentration on other things because of the interest it holds. This can be difficult at times because I can zone out on people if I find something visually attractive about the environment around us, fashion, hair, or even a beautiful person – now that one can be awkward!
So, I am really writing in the hope that my books make it to the movies and if they don’t then I have a plan B. I will give my first book out to publication and if there is no interest from movie producers to make something of it, then I will have to bore myself to tears to learn technology where I can create my own movies online. How? I don’t know, but I hope it won’t come to that!
One major type of book that saved me from a life of sex crime etc. was non-fiction psychology. From the age of 9 I taught myself how to pacify aggressive people without becoming too submissive or self-deprecating, how best to react in violent situations and how to talk to angry people.
Now it works to a certain extent on a vast majority of people and I have been commended in work for excellent customer service and hospitality skills, but there is a small margin where the advice can actually make some people more aggressive with you – my mother is one of those.
If I didn’t emotionally react to her behaviour with me, she’d get absolutely hysterical, come close into my face screaming and then slap me repeatedly about the head, because damn it, she is going to get the reaction she wants because she needs to feel her power over me! Because she is insecure, that’s all, my fear and tears make her happy, because it verifies to her that she is strong and she is still alpha.
It wasn’t until my mastoid surgery when I was seventeen that she was positively shitting a brick about hitting me, because I have a vulnerable spot at the side of the head would could be lethal if bashed. So she tried other tactics to hurt me in other ways, usually the legs.
In 2012 it was a book called “Toxic Parents” by Susan Forward that helped me finally tell someone outside of the family and family friend circle about my mother. They responded in horror, they were a nursery worker for my son Henry. They got me a nurse and a family support worker to come and speak with me and then the police came to give advice too. Unfortunately their advice was, get her out of your life or it may affect your ability to care for your son appropriately, meaning that we could take court proceedings to put your son into care until we feel that you are safe!
Because my son did sustain a head injury earlier on that month due to my mother encouraging him to do dangerous things, such as deliberately climbing onto the dining room table to jump off it onto the floor, he was 14 months old and had only been walking seven weeks!
She didn’t want me to have children, you see, it wasn’t part of her plans. She wanted me to stay home forever and become her nurse when she is old; she told me this over and over as I was growing up. I accepted it, because it’s what daughters do, but mothers tend to want their daughters to thrive, be independent and happy in their own right too and usually good mothers want their daughters to expand their family, don’t they?
She didn’t. She didn’t want what she called “more problems” that came in the form of new family members – she didn’t want me to go out alone and make friends, because she liked to micromanage my every waking moment. It was hard for her to allow me to go into full-time work and she’d often sit in her car all day long outside my work place waiting to see what happens, if I leave early etc.
On some occasions I was ten minutes late in leaving the building because my boss required extra work, my mother would embarrass me by making a visit to the building demanding to know where her daughter is and how they can’t push me around into doing more than my times worth!
I often lost jobs because of her.
Because I knew how she liked to micromanage me and because I wanted to be a good daughter and keep my head down and please her the best I could, until I could convince her to allow me freedom and a family of my own – I decided to talk with her about me becoming self-employed with homework of some description, there was always an issue for her and that never worked. Because she would become obnoxious when I was on the telephone (up until 2015 I had perfect hearing in the left ear), so keeping those jobs was a task too.
She revelled in telling people about how lazy I was, how she is stuck with a quiet reclusive freak of nature that is eating or starving herself to death periodically and has no enthusiasm for life whatsoever. Not true, I had no enthusiasm for the life she wanted for me.
I had a lot of ambition until I gave up wanting.
When I was twenty seven I left her to move in with Paul, it was done sneakily but I had to do it that way. By thirty I had to stop all contact with her, because she is a respected matriarch in the family that meant I had to say goodbye to everyone except for a small handful of relatives on my dad’s side of the family.
She would never know or appreciate that all I ever wanted in my life was for me to be considered a daughter that was good enough to stick around and help as much as I did. Good enough to trust out alone, good enough to get chores done, good enough to deserve a good husband and family of her own and good enough and trustworthy enough to be humane enough to want to care for her mother if she ever needed it. I didn’t need to be moulded and abused to do that, but she didn’t understand and I don’t think she really cares.
Because I messaged her in 2014, two years after not speaking to her and I said to her – I am willing to forgive and forget everything about the past, if she is willing to tell the truth to others about how my life was like and repair my reputation in the family and secondly I’d come back into her life if she could allow me to take full charge of my own life because after all I am a woman of thirty now with my own child – she said no, she won’t do that.
I said well just give me permission to live life how I want and I will work it out with the others myself. No, she said, I won’t do that Tina, because I don’t agree you know what is best for you and as far as I am concerned, you don’t need that permission really, what are you playing at exactly?!
So I said to her – are you telling me then that I have got you wrong? That you’ve always allowed me to make my own decisions and you never intended to interfere? No she said – I never said that and you know what Tina, this is the end of the conversation. I leave the ball in your court, come or go as you please, but I won’t change – I stand by the fact that you haven’t a clue about life and that you are a stupid, stupid girl and as far as I am concerned I wish you never have any more children, you made a stupid mistake when you decided to keep that one! (This was in reference to my Henry who was planned and is very much loved)!
I also wanted to point out, that the message came about because I wanted to tell my mother that I was hospitalised with an ectopic pregnancy and how my plans for a large family could be over and I was feeling suicidal over it – because all I wanted in life was to be a mother of a large brood.
Books have helped me heal from that too… books are magic aren’t they?
Thanks for reading!
P.S my idea of fun is… picnics or eating out at buffets or country pubs with a large group of family or friends, rowing on a lake, visiting a zoo, playing with dogs, doing messy arts and crafts with kids and playing pretend with my creative and kooky friends, oh and swimming, I love swimming and gardening or being in a beautiful garden that isn’t overlooked! That’s the light side of me… there is a dark side too… What does that part of me like?
Once again friends or family around me, snuggling down with a horror movie – watching thunderstorms, creeping people out, telling a good story, having sex and generally being my weird self!
And guess what! No drink and drugs for any of that is there? Well, erm, maybe the pub lunch eh?