Autobiographical Posts / Mental Health

Ungrateful Bitch (Part 3)



This is the final part of a trilogy. If you missed them, or you need a recap, read Part 1 and Part 2 first…

I walked into the woman’s house a mess of blonde curls, tears and streaked mascara. I was shaking with fear and from the struggle minutes earlier, the sprint for freedom and the panic of being pursued. My father followed, already demanding her attention with his diatribe about me.

“Can I use your phone to let the police know where we are?”

She pointed to where he could find it, then sat me down at the table in the kitchen, pulling her dressing gown around herself, no doubt wondering what the hell she’d got mixed up in. Through the doorway to the hall, I saw a furtive figure, halfway down the staircase, watching through the bannisters. I recognised the shape and features of a girl from college. We’d never spoken and didn’t mix in the same group, but all the same – my heart sank even lower. It was humiliating enough being seen like this by a stranger, without it being all over the student network the next day.

I sat silently, my breathing slowing to normal. It would have been different if He wasn’t here. I could have talked to the woman, thanked her for taking a chance and letting me in, told her what had happened. But there was no point trying to explain anything now, He would just shoot me down. I didn’t want to be reduced to tears in front of her.

As if on cue, he came striding in from the hall,

“They’ll be here in a minute.” He announced, looking pleased with himself as he sat down opposite me. He began to talk in a loud voice about the trouble children could be, asking her if she had any in a clumsy attempt at parental camaraderie. He didn’t seem to realise her reluctance to chat, or if he did he didn’t let on. The look on his face as he eyed me across the table left me in no doubt he was enjoying my humiliation. He searched for more opportunities to twist the knife;

“This one’s a real ungrateful little bitch. I just paid for her provisional drivers licence for her seventeenth birthday but she can kiss that goodbye. She’s more stupid than she looks if she thinks she’s going to get it now – doesn’t deserve it.”

The woman was uncomfortable, but my father seemed oblivious. I could see her relief when the police finally knocked at the door; she fairly sprang up to let them in.

A male officer spoke with my father in a separate room while a WPC sat down at the table with me and asked what had happened. I told her everything: about my parents separation, my fathers violence, how he still came round and caused trouble, how I had gone out without permission but left a note explaining where I was and when I’d be back. She listened patiently, interrupting me only when the harsh static of her radio demanded a response.

“Do you have any space in the jail?” I asked earnestly, after I’d finished recounting the events. What would happen after the police left still worried me, I was desperate not to be left with my father – my punishment would be even worse after all this.

“I can’t go home, he’ll kill me. If you just let me stay there tonight, he’ll be gone by tomorrow, he has to be back in Oxford to do the breakfasts.”

She shot me a look I guessed she reserved for unruly kids and cheeky adolescents; well-meaning, but ultimately patronising. Instinct told me she didn’t have children. Maybe she didn’t realise I was serious.

“Don’t be silly. There’s no need for that. He’s on his way to Oxford. My colleague is taking him back to the guesthouse right now. I’ll be dropping you home, and I think you’ll find things’ll look better in the morning after everybody’s had a good night’s sleep.”

Used to unquestioningly following the instructions of those in authority, having never had a choice about it, I let myself be spoon-fed the alluring picture she painted of a fresh start tomorrow morning. I felt a lot calmer as she escorted me home, even optimistic. What an idiot I was, but I so wanted to believe it.

My mother and sister were in the kitchen, but said nothing as I ran the tap for a glass of water. The silence made me feel stiff and awkward. I figured it best to follow the WPC’s advice, so I said sorry about what had happened and wished them goodnight before heading upstairs to bed.

Moments later, my mother entered as I was changing into my night-clothes. I expected a reprimand but was completely unprepared for what followed. She looked at me dispassionately, like a sniper eyeing a target. In a cold, level voice she said,

“If you value your freedom that much, you can leave. I want you out by the weekend. You can keep your stuff here until you have somewhere to move it to.”

Then she turned and left. In just a few seconds my fleeting sense of returning equilibrium had been destroyed. My world began to spin away, out of control, for the second time that night. The words of the WPC came back to mock me… “things’ll look better in the morning after everybody’s had a good night’s sleep.” Seems she didn’t pass on her wisdom to my mother.

The weekend found me adjusting to new concerns. My mother’s resolve didn’t crumble, she had no pangs of regret – I was homeless…

alone in the world

I never forgot those words – what bigger betrayal is there? Many guilt-laden years passed before I came to understand that she had been playing a long game. A compulsive liar, she hadn’t separated from my father to protect us from his explosive temper and unpredictable violence, any more than she had been a nurse in the Congo, as she liked to have us believe.

The stark truth was that she had already met the man who would become my stepfather and her next husband; she just needed to free herself from her present encumbrances first. She began to dismantle her life, starting with separating from her husband, and cutting ties with her eldest child at the first opportunity. It wasn’t about me, or anything I had done, at all – I was just collateral damage in her pursuit of “the love of her life.”

Linking up with the Love All Blogs Mental Health Blog Hop.

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11 thoughts on “Ungrateful Bitch (Part 3)

  1. Betrayal is the perfect word, and it must have cut like a knife. It hurts my heart to think of you (anyone) going through this, yet I know this scenario is playing out countless times around the world as I type. So sad… All the more reason to cheer yourself for developing into the loving mother you are today

  2. I’ve been looking fprward to the last installment. I was shocked by your mother’s attitude because I thought she’d offer the comfort you needed so badly.

    I haven’t been in such abusive situations myself but my niece was abused by her own father. After the initial shock, my sister did everyhting she could to protect her, even face criminal charges against her (if you can believe that) for not letting the father see the child. I was hoping your mother would act likewise.

    For what it’s worth, I’m sorry you had to go through that nightmare and I’m glad you came out the other end of the tunnel and have a wonderful family.

    • Thanks Ana, for such a touching comment. I’ve had a fair bit of bad luck, but I still feel fortunate when I look at my life. I have a wonderful husband, fantastic kids who make me laugh and feel proud, and time and space to do what makes me happy. I’m lucky enough to have met some truly genuine people who’ve been there for me without me having to ask… I couldn’t ask for more than that. 🙂

  3. This is awful, the way you have been treated by both your parents is dreadful. I am glad that you had friends that you could turn to and support you.

    It is wonderful to read how you have turned your life around from how it started, it shows that just because you have been ill treated does not mean that you have to go on and ill treat people.

    Thank you for sharing this story.

    • 🙂 Thanks for the hugs. I know what you mean, like most parents, my children’s wellbeing and safety is far and away my greatest concern – I noticed another line on my face in the mirror the other day and with the sudden reminder of my own mortality, I realised that the thing I fear the most about dying is not being able to be there for my children, however old they may be.

    • Like any teenager worth their salt, I went camping on the coast with my friends. A dozen or so of us boarded a National Express coach – I can’t remember where we went now, Brighton maybe? We descended en masse on one girl’s grandmothers house and said hello, before sloping off to find a field to camp in! I figured I might as well get used to sleeping rough. Looking back it was the best thing – just to forget the horror and the shock and enjoy the company of my friends who were SO supportive when I needed them.

  4. Wow, that’s harsh. Bad enough having an abusive father, but then having your mother use it as an excuse to kick you out too. Sadly, such things are all too common.

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