I was the 4th child known as number 2 daughter. My father called me this, as he was so drunk most of the time it was easier than remembering my name. My eldest brother called number 2 son, so it was based on his opinion of us rather than birth-date.
By the time my siblings left home I was 11, mum worked full time. I was left to cope with dad. He would start the day clean-shaven and well-dressed, looking forward to the pub opening at 10am.
Coming home from school was terrifying. I knew every floorboard that creaked, every door that squeaked and became expert at moving silently. I practised when he was out. Sometimes he’d collapsed on the sofa and I wouldn’t wake him; this equalled a good day, but sometimes he would be waiting for me. He would march me up to my bedroom then sweep everything onto the floor screaming ‘clean up this pigsty’. I was expected to polish his buttons and boots until spotless, iron his shirts and put crisp folds in his trousers. He was in the forces so his job depended on it. I’m amazed he kept his job.
One of my worst memories was when he made me corned beef and beans. He was so drunk it tipped off the plate onto the floor so he made me get down on all fours and eat like a dog.
The tipping point came when I opened the door one day and he was waiting behind it, he punched me in the face, I fell to the floor, he kicked me until I wet myself, then I ran and locked myself in the toilet for hours. No amount of pleading from mum would get me out. Scared and convinced he was going to kill me; I was an emotional wreck. Sadly perverts and bullies seem to sense this.
If only I’d talked to someone; if Nacoa had existed perhaps things wouldn’t have got worse. But I got bullied at school and a neighbour sexually abused me. I rebelled big time, burgled his house, collected cameras etc. and threw them in the lake. The camp police knew it was me but he didn’t press charges.
I became a wild child, pregnant at 13. My father wasn’t that shocked, he’d written me off long ago. I failed with my overdose attempt. Whilst drunk dad told everyone that I was the camp bike so kids knocked on the door saying things.
By 14 I’d stopped going to school, stayed out all night. Mum arranged my second abortion. Drink and drugs of course, why not nobody cared anyway. Meanwhile number 2 son had become a junkie and still is 30 years later.
I left home at 16 and continued my abuse of myself and those around me, until I had my first child 24 years ago. I decided to stop letting my childhood ruin my life. I have been married for 20 years and have 2 more kids. I’m not perfect but I’ve stopped beating myself up about the past and I work hard at a future for my family. I’m proud to be a self-taught survivor with lots of good points to offer. As for my parents, my father tried to continue his verbal abuse by phone. Guess what, I hung up! Mum died so I moved dad into a care home near me. When I’d visit he’d send me to buy alcohol, and then I’d water it down.
We actually had some nice times together over the next few months. He told me how at 15 years old he’d watched a ship sink after a friendly fire incident and been terrified that they were next. Then he told me they’d been treating him for cancer when I was 11. His final contribution was to die on my wedding night – none of us collected his ashes.
Conclusions and thanks
I want to add that despite all the problems alcohol caused, my Mother stood by us. She was torn apart but still put practical solutions in place, taking control e.g. arranging my abortions.
Son number 2 had huge debts at 18. Mum didn’t know how to cope with his heroin habit, but she did try by paying off all his debts and refusing to give up on him.
My sister is extremely successful and a truly wonderful woman. She has been a pillar of strength on many occasions. A few years ago I told her about the abuse I’d suffered in childhood. She was shocked and asked why I didn’t tell her at the time; she says she could have stopped it. Why didn’t I tell her? She was busy preparing to get married, starting a new life. I was ashamed, awkward, scared and used to getting the blame. Nowadays we talk and see each other most months, even though we have to travel for 2 hours to do this. I love her to bits.
Number 1 brother has been a mega success, ended up on the board of one of the biggest companies in the country. We lost contact after dad died. My sister built a bridge between us and now we all travel to see each other for family meals parties etc. It’s great to have him back in my life. He’s so funny and such good company.
Brother numbers 2 lives near me. I continue to support and love him despite his addiction and I help him sort out the latest problems. Sadly my sister and other brother won’t have anything to do with him.
My husband has the best advice for me, FORGET ABOUT IT he says, don’t let it ruin our lives. I’d also like to thank my health visitor who I confide in even though the kids have outgrown her. She’s been great, for just listening to me.
If like me you have a life, which seems to chuck awful events at you from time to time, it may take many years to heal. It’s important to remember that it’s not your fault. OK. You didn’t ask for these things to happen. You don’t deserve to carry that hurt and pain around with you for the rest of your life. Let go of blame even though some people may try to blame you; you can be fair, understanding and tolerant of people’s faults because of your experience. Challenge yourself, how strong and capable can you become. Talking helps. But you’re the one living your life so live it to the full. Good luck.