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“Till it happens to you, you don’t know how I feel”
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“Till it happens to you, you don’t know how I feel”

By: Nadia Asghar
(This is my story)

To a lot of people, it’s a just a nicely written song with a powerful meaning. To many others, it is a complete parallel to their life. By that I mean, how you feel is totally un-descriptive and you only understand it if you too are a victim of that ‘feel’. Music is centered around anyone who has suffered, but the lyrics alone I feel, for all that I have been through in my life till today.

I start with writing about a song that anyone reading this can try and get their head around the effects of abuse. This blog post isn’t intended to hurt, but is just a way of releasing experiences that are too painful to talk about. I have been dealing with depressive episodes, one of which put me in hospital almost two years ago, but today I write this as an 18-year-old who has a heart to help you know that you are loved, worthy and don’t have to go through things alone.

When I was young, I grew up thinking abuse was a normal thing. As a child, I even thought it was okay to scratch my older sister, sometimes leaving blood and always leaving scars. Luckily, I grew out of those thoughts and never dreamt of hurting her again. Presently, I see my sister as a very strong and brave adult for she has taken the most verbal abuse from Mum. My sister literally wears her emotions on her sleeve, being very sensitive, but she is strong for the ways she has coped with everything. Her strength has influenced me massively and although we can argue like all sisters can, I know that even if no one else understands my childhood – she most definitely will.

I remember the first time I knew things weren’t normal in our house. Mum had thrown a bag of frozen peas over Dad in the kitchen and honestly I don’t remember if I actually saw that happen because memories can be unreliable, especially when I was that young. But what I do remember is that mum told me later to clean up those peas as the bag had split. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people, but it was confusing for me, since I had to clean a mess that wasn’t my fault and had just been used to intentionally hurt my Dad.

A lot of what I saw did involve meal times. The majority of abuse we witnessed as children was over the dinner table, with plates being thrown at Dad or hot drinks being poured over him. When I look back though, I can never remember why mum was so angry. But I do remember there was always an argument in which mum would always shout the loudest, whereas Dad usually got hurt, my sister would be crying and shouting, my brother lashed out in anger and that too often at me. And I just tried to keep quiet. Someone had to! I think that’s why I probably fell victim to emotional abuse by mum, because I didn’t argue back so was an easy target. We all got emotionally abused in some way. And this isn’t a way of me to get some sympathy. I would just like to tell what happened to me and hopefully spread more of an awareness for emotional abuse.

I never noticed I had been suffering emotional abuse until summer 2015, when mum had moved out and I moved out with her to her new home. When I wasn’t living with Dad, and so instead lived with mum, I was often the cook of the house. Not only did I cook dinner, but at this point I cooked her and my brothers breakfast, lunch and dinner. More often than not, I was cooking meat, which as a vegetarian isn’t something we like to do. It wasn’t only the cooking I was doing, I also unpacked the boxes for the kitchen, dining room, the lounge, the office and obviously my bedroom. I was doing this because mum was in her room unpacking her stuff, because to her that was her main priority.

I was cleaning, spending hours scrubbing the draining rack since mum had let so much grease and grime grow on it. This took up the whole time of me being there, so I never sat down, but only to eat. I became so stressed and tired that one day I remember feeling so faint in the kitchen; I knew had to sit down, but didn’t as there was so much more to be done. I never got an appreciation or thanks in return, nor ever a thank you from mum. And so the next time I was at dad’s, I got in and cried. Most mums would probably be so thankful that their child was doing so much in the house, I don’t know if mine was one of those. Instead, she shouted at me for all the things she thought I’d done wrong.

The truth is that I have no way of knowing how to cope or be healed by the experiences I face everyday, except through God. But I am hoping that writing will help cure some part of this frustration building inside me. But, I can’t get over something which is still happening, where my mum shows no sympathy or recognition. I wish she understood what she has done. She has affected us all differently, but I have to except that her realization is a far cry.

Being ignored by your own mother is hard, as it is being blamed for things you can’t defend yourself from. If you’re reading this and have similar experiences, just know that emotional abuse is a true form of abuse and you are not over reacting, it does hurt also. But remember that only you have the power to control what and who hurts you!

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