‘Little White Feathers’

I chose the name ‘littlewhitefeathers’ for my blog because in recent years, I’ve often come across little white feathers, sometimes in random places where a feather wouldn’t normally end up, such as in my shoe, or coming out of a job interview once and finding my entire car surrounded by them (no cats around!).  They are always the same small, white fluffy kind.  Perhaps I’ve always had these ‘gifts’ around me, but it’s only recently that I’ve really started noticing them, and in increasing numbers.  Finding a white feather is meant to be a sign that your angels are near, they want to help and are guiding you.  White feathers are a symbol of hope and that’s often given me comfort through some really difficult times.

I was physically and emotionally abused as a child for ten years.  No one knew until recently when I started talking about it, and even now, the few people I’ve told either haven’t believed me or don’t want to know.  That’s the hardest part-not being believed, but I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would make this stuff up.  I’m an adult survivor but I still bear many unseen, emotional scars.  I think growing up, all I ever really wanted was to have a mum and dad who loved me, and I really believe every child deserves at least that.

Now, many years on, I have my own child, I thought I had the perfect life, with a man I loved very much, but he also turned out to be emotionally abusive, and left me when my child (who is absolutely the very best thing thats ever happened in my life), had just turned two years old.  Admittedly, it wasn’t all his fault-we argued a lot, we were both stubborn and headstrong and I was deeply insecure, but he did nothing to help with that as I’ll explain later on.  I still very much love him, but he doesn’t want me, so now I find myself alone again (except this time I have a small child by my side most of the time, so life is much better than being totally alone).  The very last thing I wanted for my own child was to grow up as I did.  I so desperately wanted him to grow up in a loving, stable family unit with both his biological parents around all the time.

So now I’m writing this blog, about my experiences, in the hope that the act of writing, all but retrospectively, is therapeutic, and also that maybe this can somehow help others-I’m not sure how, but I know it’s helped me in the past to know I’m not alone when reading others’ blogs and comments with similar experiences. (Not that the internet really existed to the masses when I was growing up, but it has helped me as an adult).  I guess I also want a permanent record of what happened to me, for some reason I’ve really had the urge recently to get everything down on paper-so in time, others who knew me can know what happened, and what my life was really like.

First blog postlittlewhitefeathers3.jpg

Today’s gift!

For some reason, the last couple of days I’ve been feeling really positive, and not missing my ex and the beautiful hot pink/fuchsia in the photo I took above resonates with how I’m feeling right now.  I don’t want to speak too soon, but I’ve started imagining life without my ex, and starting to feel like I’m finally getting over him, 21 months after he ended our relationship.  (And I haven’t properly started the medication yet!).  I even saw him today when he came to pick up our son, and I just felt friendly but slightly indifferent to him, which I’m really pleased about.

I had a disaster a couple of weeks ago, where my tenant (I’m a tenant and a landlord), scarpered after three months and left lots of damage for me to sort out, including melting my kitchen worktop and breaking the locks on my patio doors-honestly I really don’t understand how people manage to do so much damage in three months.  This is the third set of bad tenants I’ve had out of four sets, which I’m sure is way above the normal odds of getting a bad tenant.

Anyway, somehow, I’ve come up with a plan to turn this around and finally get rid of this house which has been the bain of my life for the last ten years.  And, as though luck would have it, a beautiful little property has become available right where I need it.  So yesterday I stuck my property on the market and decided to see it being vacant as an opportunity to get rid of it, rather than getting down about the damage and lost rent.  Today, I got into ‘pro-active’ mode, spoke to my mortgage advisor who seemed to think this was all quite straightforward and booked a viewing on the place I like the look of.  It also turns out the property is being sold as part of a part-exchange deal so there may be a deal to be done.  Within a few hours, I also received notification that a buy-to-let investor wants to view my property tomorrow-I couldn’t believe I got a viewing so quickly-it had only just appeared on the Rightmove website.  So along with my wonderful feeling of happiness, and being pro-active like my old self, (I even managed to mow my lawn today!), everything seems to be falling into place.  And the icing on the cake? apart from finding the little white feather above, was receiving the message below inside a fortune cookie.  Well it made me smile anyway!

fortunecookie

 

Favourites

My mum was one of seven children (good Catholic family you see!).  Her mother strongly favoured her sons over her daughters.  Mum told me how much that hurt and how she’d never really had a good relationship with her own mother.  She even has a saucepan shaped dent in her skull which she says is from her, and which I’ve felt.  I never had any issues with my maternal grandmother.  She always treated me well on the few occasions I met her that I remember, before she passed away when I was six years old and she was just 55.  But this is why it confused me that both my parents constantly showed favouritism towards my sister, ever since she was a toddler.

Shortly after my sister was born, we moved to a bigger, 3 bedroom house.  I was given the second bedroom and she was in the box room, but after a couple of years, mum told me my sister and I had to swap rooms as she had too many toys.  So, without asking me how I felt about this, and as I was about to enter my teenage years, I was moved into the box room.  Ok, so no big deal, lots of kids grow up in box rooms, some kids even have to share rooms, so I wasn’t too bothered.  However, there was hardly any room for furniture.  I had a single bed, a desk and a built in cupboard.  But shortly after moving into that room, my parents had a new boiler fitted and chose to fit it in my cupboard-so I now couldn’t use it for my clothes.  I ended up being given one of those clothes rail things, which I stored at the end of my bed and it just about fit.

For years, that tiny room was my refuge and my escape from my parents.  I was delighted on my 16th birthday when they gave me a small television set, (the old, deep, box type), so I now had no reason to sit downstairs with them watching mum’s soaps all evening.  In fact, one of my most vivid memories from that ‘era’, was watching on that little TV, the news breaking of Princess Diana’s death in 1997.  I remember watching the masses of bouquets being laid around the royal palaces and parks, never having seen (as most people I’m sure hadn’t), so many flowers in my life, and wanting to see them for real, thinking seeing so many flowers like that is something that only happens once in a lifetime (although sadly I never did get to London then).  I remember thinking how sad it was that she’d died so young and so tragically, leaving behind sons who were around my age, and what a massive impact she’d had on so many lives that so many thousands of people came to lay bouquets for her.

Back in my little world, I was also really saddened by what my parents did when I went off to university-most parents I’m sure, would save their child’s room as it is, so they have somewhere nice to come back to during the holidays-but not my parents.  No, as soon as I left, my bed was dismantled, the little furniture I had was removed, and the old, worn, stained, secondhand mattress from my bed was left on the floor, for me to use during holidays.  It was the most uninviting, unwelcoming room, and I’m sure this was their intention.

When I finished university, I stayed in my university city that summer working and saving money, before coming home, but things at home were so awful, the yelling at me was constant even though the violence had stopped, that I decided to move out and rent a room off a lady in town instead.  Although it felt very strange living in someone else’s house (she was a live in landlady and was quite pleasant although I didn’t see her much), I was so grateful for the peaceful, safe environment.

I remember earlier that year, my step-dad’s step-mother had passed away, and my uncle (who is one of the loveliest, kindest people I’ve ever met and I don’t understand how he shares DNA with my step-dad), had made sure that I got her car, as I was the only person in the extended family who could drive but didn’t have a car to drive (I’d worked for £2.50/hour, every weekend since I was 16 throughout my sixth form, to pay for all my driving lessons, and then my parents refused to insure me on their cars or help teach me-my sister on the other hand years later got all her lessons paid for, and was given a car, servicing, tax, insurance and fuel).  My uncle even made sure he insured me on the car I’d inherited.  He was so wonderful. (At university he’d also secretly sent me a cheque when I was 19 for £500 to go on my first holiday without my parents and with my friends, which I was absolutely taken aback by, and still to this day am so, so grateful for).  So because I now had my own transport, it gave me freedom, which to me was absolutely priceless.  And because of that freedom, I was able to move out more easily, start a job, pay rent and start to live independently.

To be continued…

 

Mackie

My mum told me that as a young child (we’re talking around 6 years old or younger), when it was just mum and I, before and also at the time that she met my step-dad, I had an imaginary friend.  This isn’t uncommon, especially amongst only/eldest children who have no siblings to socialise with (and my sister hadn’t come along yet).

Apparently I used to have in depth conversations with this person as though I was talking to someone who was actually there.   Adults have long theorised that imaginary friends serve a purpose, in developing linguistic and social skills, but also serve to combat boredom, loneliness and to act as a ‘conscience’ for a young child.

I think my imaginary friend was a ‘she’ and her name was Mackie, although I don’t recall this now, this is all information my mum has told me in the past.  Now I consider myself quite spiritual, I’ve attended spiritualist churches though I’ve been raised a Catholic (now Protestant?!) and I’m very much open to all this kind of stuff.  I’ve even had a couple of recent very real, unexplained experiences.  It makes me think that perhaps children’s ‘imaginary’ friends aren’t necessarily imaginary, and that they could be spirit guides.  If they are in fact spirit guides, then perhaps mine was sent to guide and protect me during the upheaval of my early years when my parents were fighting and separating and I was about to be thrown into a completely new world where I had to grow up fast and learn to look after myself.  Unfortunately, shortly after my mum met my step-dad, Mackie disappeared.  Or maybe I did, I’m not sure which way round it was because we moved out of the house we were living at and away from everyone and everything that was familiar to me, all my friends and the school I enjoyed so much.  I had to give away my two pet goldfish, Bonnie and Goldie, named after the Blue Peter dogs at the time, (and not the first time I would be forced to give up a beloved pet), but it seems I also lost another major source of comfort at that time, in Mackie.

The following excerpt I took from Wikipedia:- Kutner (n.d.) reported that 65% of 7-year-old children report they have had an imaginary companion at some point in their lives. He further reported: Imaginary companions are an integral part of many children’s lives. They provide comfort in times of stress, companionship when they’re lonely, someone to boss around when they feel powerless, and someone to blame for the broken lamp in the living room. Most important, an imaginary companion is a tool young children use to help them make sense of the adult world.

I’d be really interested to hear if any of my readers had imaginary friends or similar experiences as I find this stuff really fascinating.

 

What’s in a Name?

When I was 16, I ‘officially’ changed my surname to the same name as my parents.  My step-dad never adopted me so I did this via a ‘change of name’ deed (which is free, rather than by deed poll which you have to pay for, and still gives the same legal status).  I changed my name because I wanted to have the same name as my mother, I had no connection to my birth surname, I didn’t know my biological father, and I had always used my step-dad’s name throughout school.  Not only that, but I really had a deep love for my extended family, who unlike my step-dad, had all been kind, caring, warm, loving and welcoming to both me and my mother.  I didn’t choose his name because it was his name, I chose it because it was the same name as all the rest of his family, who I have long considered to be ‘my family’.

Recently, friends of mine posted on Facebook how their son had recently changed his name to match his step-dad’s.  It was such a different experience.  He chose to change his name because he was about to get married and wanted to start his married life as the son of his step-dad, and he wanted to honour his step-dad by taking his name, which he disclosed to him on his 50th birthday.  It was so beautiful to read their story, to see the pictures of all of them on a lovely family holiday in Italy, and to see the closeness they all shared.  Although I felt a little sad that my experience of name changing had been nothing like that, I was so proud of their son for doing that, and proud of his step-dad for being the kind of man that I dearly would have loved as a step-dad.  To me they seem like such a wonderful family, and the son’s fiancee is a very lucky bride-to-be to be marrying into such a lovely, welcoming family.

How my Relationship with my Mother slowly disintegrated

All the years that he was hitting me, my mother wasn’t really involved-although she was fully aware of what was happening.  My mother was strict with me, but like a normal parent would be, although I was made to do a lot of housework from the age of six, unlike my sister who never did any.  I had to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen three times a week, tidy my bedroom once a week and clean the bathroom and toilet every week, which looking back seems like a lot for a small child.  I remember on several occasions my step-dad getting angry that my cleaning wasn’t up to scratch and making me climb into the bath and scrubbing my hands against the sides of the bath extremely hard with a cloth to scrub the dirt off.  I also remember mum throwing several plates at me on one occasion as a teenager and her chasing me round the house with a wooden spoon when I was very small.  She wasn’t abusive though in my eyes, and she regularly told him not to smack me round the head-I often wonder if that’s why I have such a poor memory these days.

But things changed for me after I gave birth.  I didn’t want her there at the birth-I’d always felt like she’d never really been there for me, and I certainly didn’t want or need her there then.  The only person I wanted there was my then partner, and of course the midwife/doctor.  (In the end I had around 14 people there as I ended up in theatre during shift change over so had two lots of each theatre staff!).  But after I had my son, my feelings towards my mother changed.  I suddenly realised just how much love I had for this little person, this tiny little thing that was so utterly dependent on me for all his needs, that it made me question my relationship with my own mother and how any mother could possibly even contemplate allowing anyone to harm a hair on their child’s head.

My mother had always been very religious.  She had been raised a Catholic, and had attended a Catholic boarding school.  We attended Mass every Sunday.  She sent me to  Catholic primary schools and I later attended a Catholic secondary school, where I got another dose of Mass every week and Catholicism rammed down my throat at every opportunity.  In the end, I ended up thinking Catholicism was a complete load of bollocks and chose to become a Protestant.  Even the nun who taught me (who was really lovely), ended up breaking her vows and running off with my old headmaster, which I still find rather amusing.

When mum split up with my biological father (who had physically abused her-yes we didn’t have much luck with men), she took me to church aged around 5, and asked me to pray to God for a new daddy.  I remember being left with one guy, a male friend of hers, who I thought was the absolute bees knees.  He taught me how to colour in properly, and to make sure all my lines were going the same way so my pictures looked nice-I think he was the first person to really encourage my creative streak and I will always be grateful to him for that ‘art lesson’.  I remember hoping that he was going to be my new daddy.  But then mum met someone else.

I wasn’t sure about him-apparently, according to my parents, (although I don’t remember this), I hid behind our door when he first came to our house.  He brought me a book of Aesop’s Fables, which to this day I still see as a bribe, and after a while I asked him when he was going to leave.  But I guess at the time, she, like me now in some ways, was a youngish single mum, alone in the world, a lowly paid job, and desperately in need of someone to provide her with security and stability.  And I guess she took the first thing that came along-(something I’ve promised myself never to do).

I don’t know, maybe she did love him, maybe she was totally attracted to him, maybe he wasn’t the first one that came along, but I never thought he was a particularly good looking man, or particularly warm and friendly.  He did however have a stable job, and was very intelligent.  It took me many years to work out he was also addicted to cannabis-stemming back to his days as a hippy.  I used to ask him why he kept little lumps of brown plasticine in his ‘biscuit tin’.  (The tin he kept his rizzlas and tobacco in).

Years later, he had a heart attack which he survived, and was ordered to give up smoking.  This year, he had yet another blocked artery and had to have heart surgery again.  My mum kept going on and on about it to me, how he would need this surgery, to little reaction from me.  I didn’t really know how to react or what to say and in all honesty I’m not sure why she was telling me or what she expected from me.  I recently got an annoyed text from my sister demanding to know why I hadn’t asked mum how he was-mum hadn’t actually told me he had had the surgery but my sister didn’t know this.  Plus I didn’t care.  I don’t actually care what happens to him and I wouldn’t know how to react or what I was meant to feel if something did.

But at the same time as this was happening, I was desperately trying to find somewhere new for my son and I to live.  We’d moved into the house we were in and had been referenced whilst I was working, however, I’d become a student since then.  And suddenly, we discovered my landlord wanted to sell and we had to move.  I was worried sick I wouldn’t have enough income to afford anywhere decent to live (let alone all the removal costs, agents fees etc) and I spoke to several agents who suggested as I thought they would, that a guarantor might be a good idea.

I approached my mum at this time, who refused to help us and told me to ask my step-dad.  I felt utterly humiliated by her and didn’t understand why she couldn’t be my guarantor when she earned more pension than he did, when they lived very comfortably in a large detached house that they owned outright, in an expensive area.  I didn’t understand why she was so adamant that she couldn’t help when I wasn’t asking them for any money, and when they knew I had never defaulted on any rent or mortgage payments in my life.  Yet still she refused, and there was no way I was going to go begging to him.  I told her this and I brought up the past, to which she replied “I just want to forget about the past”, a comment that hugely grated on me as I couldn’t and still can’t forget and she had been living the last 30 years like everything was completely normal.

Meanwhile, my sister, decided to organise her son’s Christening in the middle of some important work I had on at the time.  In the end, I didn’t attend the Christening and I felt so, so guilty afterwards, because I had really wanted to be there, but I really couldn’t face seeing my parents, and obviously my sister as usual didn’t understand why I hadn’t been there because my mum as usual hadn’t told her the whole truth or probably told her her own version of events.

My son and I found a beautiful new home despite my parents’ refusal to help, and we ended up moving without needing a guarantor, thanks to a very helpful agent and excellent credit checks.  We moved with no help from my ex or my family, but a little help from a very generous friend.  As a result,  I haven’t spoken to my mum or sister for a couple of months now and they have no idea that we’ve moved and no idea where we’re living, and of course I will have been made out to be the bad guy yet again, but for now I don’t intend to continue having a relationship with my mum.  I’m so hurt by all the things she’s said and done to me over the years, all the lies and gossip she’s spread about me to cover up for my step-dad, and all the pain she allowed me to suffer as a child, that I’ve just completely lost all respect for her, and strangely enough, my life doesn’t feel that different without her in it, which I guess just shows any emotional bond we had was sadly broken a long time ago.

 

 

Those Adverts on TV…

I used to watch those ads on TV about the NSPCC.  I say ‘watch’, but often I couldn’t because it would/still does makes me so upset because I know exactly what it feels like to be in those children’s shoes, feeling lost, sad, confused as to why your parents are treating you like this and not having anywhere/anyone to turn to.  But as I got older, those ads made me angry.  Why?  Because people were giving money to this charity, (and I know this sounds incredibly selfish), who not once helped me, and I know for a fact that there are without doubt so many other children out there that no one is aware of, being treated really badly behind closed doors, who charities like the NSPCC will never help despite their best intentions.

I used to tell my parents I would call ‘Childline’, a reasonably new service at the time, I believe set up by Esther Rantzen, but I never did.  I never had the guts and I was scared of the potential consequences.  I used to think everything through so much as a child-something I still do, ‘overthinking’ things as one close friend says I do.  Anyway, my mother’s response was to always laugh at me and tell me they would come and take me away.  Little did I realise at the time that that may have been a far better option than staying where I was.  Every night I would fall asleep, usually in tears, wishing my childhood away, praying for the day I was old enough to leave home and support myself.

When I was 16, the physical abuse stopped.  I very clearly remember the last time he hit me.  He smacked me across my head in the kitchen, with my baby sister, (his daughter), then aged 6, screaming at him to stop, (I can’t even remember why I had annoyed him), and just before this incident, I had vowed to myself that the next time he did it, I wouldn’t react-I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of him knowing he’d hurt me or made me cry, and I didn’t.  I took the hit, and I didn’t react, despite the pain.  And he never hit me again.  I don’t know if it was because of my sister’s reaction, or because I’d reached an age where I was fully aware that what he was doing was wrong and I could have gone to the police or because he didn’t get his usual reaction from me.  But whatever the reason, the hitting stopped.  I carried on living at home until I turned 18, because I wanted so badly to go to university.  When I filled out my paper UCAS form, I made sure every university I applied to was at least 200 miles from home, and with my okish grades (I really should have done much better than I did at A-level), I got a few offers back.  That September, I packed up my things and my parents dropped me off at university with all my worldly possessions packed into the car, the rest put into storage.  The day I left, he said to me “when I left home at 18, I didn’t come back”.  Nice, I thought, not that I ever wanted to come back but that’s something I’ll never, ever tell my children.

Hold on for One More Day

Do you ever get those times when a certain piece of music seems to be following you around?  It’s weird, for a long time I kept hearing ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ in random places, (funnily enough around the time I started dating my ex, perhaps someone was trying to warn me!).  More recently, whenever I turned the radio on I would always get the Wilson Phillips song ‘Hold on’ which is weird because it’s an oldie (well 1990-but not a recent song for the sort of modern radio stations I play in the car).   I love music and find that it helps lift me up when I’m feeling down.  I like to think its the angels giving me messages through music when I hear the same track played over and over again, and I love the sentiment behind this particular track.  Angels are well known for also liking music, so perhaps there’s something in this.

“Hold On”

I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don’t ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

[Chorus:]
Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day

You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin’ your worries pass you by
Don’t you think it’s worth your time
To change your mind?

[Chorus]

I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free the chains
Yeah I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and you
Break free, break from the chains

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day yeah
If you hold on

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day,
If you hold on
Can you hold on
Hold on baby
Won’t you tell me now
Hold on for one more day ‘Cause
It’s gonna go your way

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can’t you change it this time

Make up your mind
Hold on
Hold on
Baby hold on