To Polestar88: I’m addressing part of your private email to me here. With reference to my father, N-n’s portrayal of our father has been accurate: I do not care what she says about our father. In the case of my sister W-x, you can read her email to me reproduced in Part 1. In the case of my sister D-x, this one idolises N-n and would do anything for her including jump over the cliff. She is likely to allow N-n to write anything she likes about her.
The following is a copy of a small portion of a letter that I sent to two Victorian cousins, dated 31/1/2012:
“…I’m not sure how much N-n has told you both about our early lives but it was truly an horrific experience. Who knows what might have been if we had only been born into a different family… N-n has…beatified her mother…[but] actually, both parents were pretty inadequate people. In fact, I cannot think of my early years without wincing.
“…Canterbury Terrace, East Victoria Park was truly a ‘house of horrors’. My sisters and I have survived this ‘house of horrors’ but, as you would expect, not entirely without deep psychological scars. We all suffered but most especially D-x and N-n…
“I do feel pity for my mother as a human being who suffered most terribly but she also was cruel and heartless at times…the only positive comments my father ever made about my mother were: “She was a looker” and “She made men’s heads turn“. Everything else that spewed out of his mouth about her was full of bilious hatred and rage (although, strangely, he always claimed that he loved her deeply).
“Quote from my father: “No man could have loved yer mother the way I loved yer mother“. The tragedy is that he truly believed that!…that no other man could have loved her deeply, and that what looked like and felt like hatred was really love. How weird is that?
“…Usually the family at Canterbury Terrace only bathed once a week. I remember an occasion on which I went to play with children from up the road. Their mother, Mrs. Light, put me under her shower and washed me before she would allow me to play with her children. Notwithstanding the ’60s photographs that exist of the pristine, smiling little girls in spotless starched clothing and with shining hair, we were actually quite dirty most of the time. The house at Canterbury Terrace was absolutely squalid – rotting food, beer cans, overflowing ash-trays, pills, putrid laundry, trash, cockroaches and flies everywhere, blood-spattered and partly smashed walls, peeling paint making a mess on the floors, broken crockery, dust and dirt. My mother was filthy like her mother (my grandmother) was and did not have much knowledge or interest in food hygiene. In particular, I remember stinking raw meat and rancid butter that had been left out of the rickety old refrigerator. We children were always coming down with stomach aches and the associated vomiting and diarrhoea, and crying with the pain of these frequent illnesses for which my mother used to just give us a Bex powder.
” “Bex is better!” (the television commercial at the time).
W-x in particular was always suffering bronchial illnesses and I believe now that it was because of all the second-hand smoke in the house from my chain-smoking parents. I still have white patches on my legs from the infectious boils that plagued me during childhood, which were probably a result of the grimy living conditions that we children called “home”. My mother dealt with the boils matter-of-factly by simply squeezing them. She seemed indifferent to my howling.
“I have to chuckle when I read or hear in the news that parents have been fined for leaving their children for three minutes in the car while they went to the shop to collect something. My parents left us kids alone all the time. All the time! Day or night! There was one incident when I was about eight and had been left to care for my sisters all day. We were hungry with one or two of the sisters crying, so I went to the kitchen and searched the cupboards for food, finding some potatoes. I then proceeded to cut the potatoes into chips with a knife and placed them into a frying pan to cook. I added some liquid or something to the pan which caused a terrifying explosion of fire and smoke to belch out to the ceiling. I ran screaming hysterically to Mrs. Welsh next door and she came and extinguished the fire, but the ceiling area above the stove remained blackened until the day we vacated the house after my mother died. No-one sustained any burns but my sisters and I were very shaken by the incident.
“As I said in my interview with Melbourne’s RMIT for their After the Orphanage project – which culminated in a book being published including some of my remarks under a pseudonym – I did suffer a lot of physical abuse from my mother…
“I do believe that my mother liked D-x and N-n better than W-x and me.
“…The fact is that my mother would have faced criminal charges if the abusive incidents had occurred in today’s era ie. the… My mother told me herself in later childhood of an event when I was about eighteen months old in which I threw her book into the fire and she responded by flying into a rage and…fractures which healed themselves. She did say to me while recounting the incident that she was very sorry about it, so that was something.
“I believe that my mother’s early death did actually save me from a lot of physical abuse… My mother was definitely a victim as N-n says, but she was also a perpetrator. It’s not black and white. My sisters and I did not have one good parent and one bad parent – neither was a parent I would have chosen for myself. Of course I regret the great psychological suffering that besieged this unfortunate woman who was my mother, and drove her to take her own life – I was there, I witnessed the suffering, and if I could have prevented her death, I know that I would have. However that does not detract one iota from the fact that I believe that my mother’s violence towards me would have escalated as I grew older and more “contrary” and independent.
“One thing my mother used to say often to me was, “Don’t contradict“.
W-x told me only a few years ago that she was “relieved” when our mother died and that when our father broke the news of the death to us in the kitchen at Canterbury Terrace, she was crying “only because everyone else was crying”. W-x has no memory whatsoever of a single small act of kindness or love directed towards her by our mother, who in fact consistently ignored and punished her. My recollection of W-x in those days is that she was always crying and always ill with bronchial complaints (as I said earlier, probably from all the secondhand smoke in the house).
“I just don’t think that my mother was a natural mother…and I don’t think N-n is either. I think my mother found motherhood really hard, in particular the lack of abundant free time to herself which she coveted, and the seemingly interminable drudgery of motherhood in those days (eg. the old washing-machine with the wringer that you had to laboriously fold wet clothes into and wait for them to be churned out again on the other side), and of course the specific hostile and cruel conditions in which she lived with her abusive, gambling and alcoholic husband.
“My mother was described by her own mother as “hot-tempered and selfish“. My grandmother also add, “Lila was much better“. My mother did lament to me about her mother that “She loved Lila more“; so my mother had to deal with the pain of being the unfavoured child in the family, which I know hurt her. My grandmother’s preference for her younger daughter is explained by my cousin T-x in these words, “She [Krystyna] was a difficult child“. My grandmother who resembled my sister W-x physically, also was similar to W-x in temperament ie. cool and distant. My mother’s father, who died when my mother was eight, is described by T-x as “a hard father“. For example, normal infantile behaviour such as soiling napkins angered him unduly. My grandfather is reported to have dealt with a yowling cat outside the house interrupting his sleep by exploding with rage and shooting it with a pistol. It seems that my mother must have inherited her father’s mercurial temper; T-x told of an incident in which my mother tried to stab her sister Lila with a pair of scissors when they were young women. So obviously my mother had problems before she met my father and she was capable of violence. I’ll bet you anything, though, that T-x has not spoken a word to N-n of this incident!
“The family in Perth could have been reasonably well-off financially, if not outright rich. My uncle (by marriage), Z-x, who still lives in Perth, said of my father, “He was earning good money, better than me“. My father seems always to have worked full-time but we never had any money – it all went on gambling, booze, massage parlours and anything my father wanted. He seemed indifferent to our needs. Aunty Mona knew my father was mean; she used to say, “Your father begrudged every pencil and notebook that you girls needed for school“.
[Interjection: Another story my Aunty Mona told me decades ago was how my father used to frequent his sister Rosalie's house at East Burwood when her children were small. He'd walk into their lounge on a warm summer's day in his sailor's uniform and cap holding icecreams which he would devour in front of his small nieces and nephews who would stare at their uncle longingly, but he never bought any icecream for the children. Rosalie and her husband were poor in those days and could rarely afford to buy icecream for their kids. My father thought it was funny to taunt the children with the words, "You'd like some, wouldn't you? Well, you're not getting any!"]
“Friends and acquaintances of my mother whom I spoke to in later life have described how my father did not give my mother enough money for housekeeping. We were always so very poor and it was humiliating. Every school excursion or raffle ticket or Brownie fee was an arduous battleground for us kids. It was humiliating to be harassed for money by teachers or Brownie leaders for upcoming events which I couldn’t get my parents to pay for, or to be the only child in the classroom without the coloured textas, glue or books that I needed. It was so horrible. Our food was usually saveloys and mash except when we visited our grandmother’s house. We loved to visit our grandmother’s house.
“Our perpetual poverty was so needless. We could have, and should have been, reasonably comfortable at least.
“All of us four girls were given a plastic coloured piggy bank by our mother and she would occasionally put copper coins in each one so that we could save something. My father was such a bastard, he was always threatening to raid the piggy banks, knowing how precious they were to us. One Sunday morning as my mother and myself and sisters were leaving the house to attend the local church, my father threatened to raid our piggy banks while we were gone, so I hid them. My sisters were distressed about our piggy banks being raided so I told them that I had hidden the precious piggy banks and I remember my mother being very pleased with me for that.
“My mother always maintained a savings account at the bank in her own name and would not agree to a joint account with my father, an issue which rankled with my father for decades after her death… That was one thing that my father never succeeded in controlling about my mother.
“There was always hatred and violence in the house, not necessarily always physical, but psychological violence, always. My father was a hateful raging fiend who used to get the pickaxe and smash holes in walls and wardrobes to frighten us, break off wooden palings from the fence and wave them around at us with threats of violence, destroy glass crockery in front of us…
“When I was about three, there were scenes in which my father used to burn money in the fireplace in front of my mother and me, with my mother crying helplessly as the notes went in one by one, slowly and deliberately into the fire, and me very distressed and trying to comfort my mother. The pain of those scenes was just unbearable.
“There was always yelling, screaming and crying in the house. My father was always snarling at my mother, “Shut yer trap…yer bitch…so get this through yer thick skull…damn you…go to hell“…
“There was one occasion when the whole family was going out for the day, possible to the beach which was a favourite destination for us kids. Before leaving the house, we counted how many bags we were carrying. We counted seven bags and then my father piped up, “No, there are nine!”, indicating my mother and me. About ten years old at the most, and already a “bag”!
“My father distinguishes himself in my memory as being a very mean and nasty person, however jovial, conversational and affable he can appear in public or at parties. Example: If someone eg. Monsignor O’Connor who was our parish priest at East Victoria Park, or Mrs. Aleksiejewski who was a friend of my grandmother’s, gave my father money to buy his children an ice-cream or similar treat, we never got the ice-cream or treat. My father, however, was never short of money for cigarettes, beer or betting on horses.
“I was dragged out of bed in the middle of the night as a primary school child to look for a pen that my father accused me of having lost. I was in my night wear, it was cool, windy and dark and I was wandering barefoot through the dry unkempt grass of the front yard without any lighting (no outside lighting at the house, no torch), looking for the pen, with this large man at my elbow hounding and threatening me. I don’t think I found the pen.
“Then there was the evening in which my parents had been bickering horribly all night. My father summoned his children together (all four of us aged under ten) and demanded that we choose one parent over the other…which parent we loved more, Mum or Dad? It was a most anguished choice that we had to make. I chose my father out of terror when it was really my mother that I loved more. XXXX also chose our father. YYYY and ZZZZ chose our mother and all three disappeared out of the house. It transpired later that my mother and her two followers had hidden under the house while XXXX and I were with our father denouncing our mother. It was a most distressing event for me as I didn’t know where my mother had disappeared to or if she would forgive me for choosing my father over her. Years later when I confronted my father over this incident, he was without empathy or insight into the anguish that he had caused or the unjustifiable cruelty of his action in forcing his small children to choose between their parents. He is characteristically indifferent to the suffering and havoc that he causes other people, particularly his own family, but is hyper-sensitive to any perceived slight or disrespect directed towards himself by others.
“My father is arrogant and narcissistic beyond belief. He gave D-x a black eye when she was about fifteen during an argument about the infallibility of the Pope. My father was insisting that the Pope was infallible and D-x and I were laughing at the idea and ridiculing it. My father couldn’t tolerate our independent opinions and so won the argument with violence…but would he ever hit a man? Never heard of him being involved in a physical confrontation with a man – ever!
“My father has always…showed far greater deference and sensitivity to the feelings of strangers and acquaintances while trampling over his own family. Example: When I was about sixteen, I brought a friend, MJ, to meet the family during a weekend at the Housing Commission home in Hiddleston Avenue. A group of us was congregated in the kitchen. To reach the toilet, you had to walk through the kitchen. MJ wanted to visit the toilet and my father very politely asked if she would prefer everyone to leave the kitchen for the sake of her privacy, an office which MJ declined. It struck me that at the moment, as it does now, how a person can have two faces – a kind and caring face to strangers and the distantly acquainted, and a contorted, cruel, venomous face for kith and kin. My father used to regularly barge into his teenaged daughters’ bedrooms without knocking or giving any warning, which was very disturbing and made us jumpy as we could be undressing or doing something private – yet he could be so solicitous and respectful towards outsiders. When expressing angry feelings towards my father about his barging into our bedrooms without knocking, he would become aggressive, yelling, “A man’s home is his castle!” or “I’ll do what I like in my own house!” and pound his fist down hard on a table…
“My father embodied schadenfreude or “the malicious enjoyment of another’s misfortunes” ie. he always enjoyed other people’s divorces, turmoil or mishap etc. The K-x’s were “godless” but I would have preferred to have been born into that family as at the least the K-x children had the love and commitment of their parents, which is bedrock.
“…My father seemed generally to have a disdain towards the entire female gender. In front of his mates or neighbours, he can exude compassion and concern in a discussion about a documentary screened on television about the treatment of women in Pakistan, condemning the subjugation of women in backward countries or primitive practices such as bride burning or the inequitable division of assets, and everyone applauds him and thinks he’s a terrific New Age guy. Nobody knows or would believe that a brutal merciless bastard he is or was to his own wives and children.
“One of my father’s pet rages was single mothers and
illegitimate children (as if any child is “illegitimate”!) He didn’t want D-x to mention at C_____ College that that H-x K-X was her cousin because he was disgusted by the fact that she had given birth out of wedlock. My mother was pregnant with me when she married my father; that’s why her wedding dress in the photographs was blue, not white (although I didn’t find out the reason until my mid teens).
“Despite my father’s apparent puritanism, he did have both an obsession with and a repugnance towards femininity and female bodies and functions. He was often smutty in the way he spoke to his young daughters eg. telling us, “Don’t stand around like a wet dream“, and he used to sing songs from his former time as a sailor such as “Every girl loves a candle“. He was full of contradictions…[he] was always trying to impose values on his children that he himself did not practise.
“My father was always fixated with sexual crime and would devour the newspapers for prurient details of defiled and ravaged victims…
“There were never any boundaries with my father. He never respected confidences, never had any sense of his children’s entitlement to privacy and seemed to actively enjoy divulging very personal details about his children that caused intense humiliation and embarrassment. I use the word “sadistic” to describe my father, in the full sense of the word…
“In early 1981 when I was aged twenty, my father wrote to me in Perth to ask if he could stay with me during a two-week visit. I was troubled by this request and discussed it with relatives and people who had known the family in WA. In the end, I decided that it would be ‘decent’ if I allowed him to stay but I made the stipulation that he must not smoke in my unit. I’ve never smoked and always hated it. At that time, my father was a chain smoker and ridiculed my non-smoking stance eg. when he was angry with me, his face would contort, spittle would form at the corners of his mouth and he would snarl, “And don’t say you’ll never smoke!”, (implying that I would stray from that resolution at some point in the future).
“There were problems as soon as my father arrived at my unit in East Perth. He subjected me to a lot of pressure about withdrawing my ‘no smoking’ rule, telling me that I was “hard” and that nobody does that to a father who has travelled a long way to visit his daughter. In the end, I conceded that he could smoke on my balcony which I didn’t really want him to do as every time there was a knock on the door or he wanted to tell me something, he would enter my lounge room with his lit cigarette and become angry when I protested. Also he was raving about the past and personal subjects that I told him I didn’t wish to discuss with him, a request that he did not respect…
“I was most uncomfortable with my father in my flat; however I also felt an obligation to honour my pledge to him that he could stay with me. After several days of his visit, I was going mad, so I went to the YMCA in Perth and paid for him to stay in a single room for a week. My father was furious and recommenced all the old abuses and denunciations, towering over me and screaming at me that I should be ashamed of myself. He also told me repeatedly, “Well, you’ve wasted your money because I’m not staying there“. I advised him, “It’s up to you what you do but I’m afraid you can’t stay here any longer“. He did eventually go to the YMCA but he made the rest of his visit in Perth very unpleasant and uncomfortable for me, reviling me and trying to make me feel guilty”…
There’s no need for me to go any further.
W-x is the only one of my father’s four daughters who still has something of a genuine familial relationship with him. She says about him:
“I feel sorry for him because I think he suffers a lot, and always has”.
The overwhelming majority of N-n’s fellow bloggers still seem to possess the view that I’m wanting N-n to discontinue her blogs altogether, which is untrue as well as exasperating! The following is a reproduction of a letter that I received dated 23/7/2012 from ‘FS—-’, Acting Superintendent and Chief of Staff to the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police:
“Our ref 12/004199
Dear Ms —-,
I write on behalf of the Chief Commissioner to acknowledge your correspondence dated 13 July 2012 seeking the assistance of Victoria Police in preventing the online publication of your personal information by your sister, N-n ——–.
I have reviewed the material contained in your letter and can find no evidence of criminal conduct that would justify the involvement of Victoria Police.
The matters you raise are of a civil nature and their resolution therefore lies within the civil jurisdiction. Victoria Police is unable to assist you in this matter.
Chief of Staff to the Chief Commissioner”.
Even though the letter delivered no succour and was very dispiriting, it impressed me insofar as it demonstrated an accurate comprehension of my case ie. that I am not seeking to stymie N-n’s passions as a writer and blogger, but am concerned with “the online publication” of my “personal information“. One person has understood. That’s not to say that he does not, like Red, believe that I am “trash”, or like Prenin and Heretic, that I am “bat shit crazy”, or like Bryan Hemming, that I am “despicable”. Actually he betrayed nothing at all of his personal view in the letter; but at least one person understood that I am not trying to close down N-n’s blogging sites or prevent her from telling her story. I’m very disappointed that in a post as recent as 4/9/2012, N-n thinks that I would be delighted if she closed down her web site.
By the way, Red, your action in forwarding to N-n my private anguished email to you, which you described as “trash”, is despicable. At some point in the future, (probably not for a few weeks at least), when I can book an extended period of time at a certain venue, (not a public library with limited time), I will really research which is the appropriate agency in your country for receipt of my complaint against you, something along the lines of ethical standards in Internet publishing, and I will register my complaint with said agency as well as forward a copy to Barack Obama. That’s my pledge to you, Red. You are a sociopath just like my sister. What kind of person apportions huge amounts of space on her web site specifically for regularly engaging in lampooning her fellow humankind? For your own sake in attaining some empathy and a little tolerance for human frailty, I hope that one day you will feel as I felt when writing that email. I wish you no harm but I desire that just once in your life, you would feel as I felt.