Straight from the heart: 21. My fathers’ words
After yet another restless night, I awoke this morning in a very contemplative mood. After a while, this led to an epiphany which has troubled me all day. I think I may have mentioned before, something that my father always used to say to me, being the youngest of 7 siblings; and that was
“you have got to fight for your survival, if you’re going to survive Sharon”.
At the time he meant getting my share of everything, as my brothers and sisters were always put first, and with an age gap of 5 years; I soon learned to grow up pretty quick. And on occasions, when I have been accused of being ‘spoilt’, they have heard the bad side of my tongue, because they have no idea of the sacrifices I had to make, because of them. My childhood, for one, they weren’t around when I needed support, they had all left and gone about their business.
Years later, they didn’t see the reaction I got after I gave up a college course my father had insisted that I do. After all, I was the last chance in his eyes, I was the last chance to get it right, produce something that was well educated and would go far, a progeny he could be openly proud of.
They also didn’t see, me paying my way through college with an Avon cosmetics jobs, or that the only extra money I got, was the family allowance money (which wasn’t much), that mum gave me. All because he flatly refused to further support me in any way, shape or form at college. There are many, many other instances that I can recall, but I have strayed from my point.
Anyway, this morning, I got to thinking about the battles I have fought in my life to get here, you know, the times I really did have to fight for my survival. And I started right from the very beginning, my birth. I was born with a condition called ‘Vulvulus‘, which means a twisted intestine. Quite a serious condition for a baby, because it meant I could not keep food down in my stomach, and was constantly vomiting. At the time, my folks were living in London, and it took many visits to Southampton General Hospital, before I had surgery; and partly because of that I still have stomach problems today and bear a large scar to boot. Obviously, it was touch and go, but I have always said that ‘I wasn’t meant to be here, so that’s what makes me special! 🙂
I’ve spent time revisiting my youth and adolescence, and the issues relating to that time, through to my early twenties. I had started a business at 21, did it for a few years, then became constantly employed, I’ve had relatively few jobs in my life, because I have always stuck at things, wanting to see the end of something.
But in actual fact, my ambition had been driven. Driven by my fathers’ words, that had never left me, even now I hear them in my head. I took on challenging jobs, in very male dominated environments, but I knew my stuff, so no one could touch me. I worked hard, harder that any of my employers ever deserved, only to try and climb an invisible ladder to nowhere, but empty promises.
Especially the last job, the amount of pressure I was put under, from day one. This time I was working mainly with young men, doing Construction apprenticeship training. I had a vast case load (popular industry), extra out of hours tasks with open evenings, giving talks to local schools, staff training and so on. I gathered knowledge, I taught myself, I went to night school to become a trainer, I qualified earning a teaching diploma. Then I went on to the full qualification, getting teaching practice in, and gathering certificates for anything that might be useful for the future. But in the end, it was a non-starter. That when the walls came tumbling down…
And now? Even though I have not worked for so many years, I am still fighting.
There was my ex husband, who had basically manipulated or abused my good nature from the onset, making demands of me when I stepped in to help his business. I knew our relationship not quite right; I was not being recognised for anything. He disregarded my achievements or input, everything was so one-sided; but it was my money that created the home and sanctuary, it was my money that mainly paid the bills.
Finally, when I realised that I could move no further forward, I fought to save myself through my depression, fibromyalgia, sciatica and so many other illnesses, and again during the break-up of my marriage. I was always fighting to always do the right thing… But the right thing for whom?
And then it struck me!
Had I really spent a large chunk of my life, living up to and going further than my fathers’ expectations?
To the point he couldn’t criticise me for things I have done for and by myself? Maybe that was my sub-conscious goal. I didn’t want to hear his criticisms, because he spent a lot of time criticising others for their shortfalls, as though he had none himself.
Or was it just sheer defiance in me, that has made me so determined to always do my best, and achieve as much as I can?
Or was I simply seeking some approval from my dad?
But the truth is, my father has no idea about my skills, qualifications, education or abilities. He has no idea or understanding about the jobs I have done, my achievements, the responsibilities I have held, or even the reputation and respect that I gained professionally. He certainly doesn’t know about my art, my creativity or my writing skills. He really knows nothing about me at all, but in his eyes, I like my siblings could/should have done better. Never once has he ever taken into account, what we might have wanted for ourselves.
All I know is that I have pushed & pushed myself. I have always been so hard on myself. I have punished myself constantly to do better, to feel worthy. And this is the result of it all. Everything I have ever worked for sits with in this house, this place I used to call my home.
The sad irony is that in spite of everything, it is all being stripped away from me, by the very man my father approved of most.
And that I have to accept.
(12th December 2014)
In about 3 weeks, I will be celebrating my 4thanniversary of starting over. I will confess that this part of my life journey has been a solitary one and has not been easy. I have almost constantly been plagued throughout with pain, depression, low moods and a few other issues sent to test me.
But now when I feel like my mood or physical health is really going to bring me down, I remind myself of what a remarkable and incredibly strong woman I am.
I have come through the other side; I still have a smile on my face… and that is enough for me. Sx ❤️
(Sunday 24thMarch 2019)