This is the rework of a self-published auto-biographical story (2008), rewritten for this blog. Names of characters have been changed.
Content warning: mental and physical abuse, misogyny.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.
Continued from… Finally!
While quietly sitting in the European sun and enjoying a cold orange juice and a cheese sandwich, Annie’s thoughts strayed. Since she had left the smallholding, many things had happened. Annie had built up a new life with her mom and kids and she was slowly becoming the lively, independent woman she used to be.
It was not all roses in the last couple of months. Three weeks after Annie had arrived at her mother’s place, she had a nervous breakdown. It started with a headache, which lasted for about two weeks, getting worse and worse. When Annie woke up with nightmares in the middle of the night, she could wring the sweat out of her sheets and her pajama. In the first week of her breakdown, she sometimes woke up three times in one night, and every time her mom helped her to put clean sheets on her bed.
By the second week, Annie couldn’t move her neck and shoulders anymore. It was as if they were welded together. Only by the third week, when the fierceness of the headache started to decrease, Annie was able to move normally again.
In the second month with her mother, Annie contacted Fred to send her money. Up to that point, she had not received any of her bank statements. Annie’s mom was annoyed that Annie didn’t just bring her bank card with her. It would’ve been easy enough to walk into a bank and to withdraw money from her overseas account. Annie hadn’t known this before she left her country of birth and she had never once thought to ask her mother how she should organize her bank affairs.
Fred never sent her any money and he never replied to the faxes she had sent him. Annie sensed he was not keeping to their mutual agreement. Three months after she had left the smallholding, she made an international phone call to her bank. She asked them to send her a bank statement. When she received it, she was shocked to learn there was no money left on her account. Annie immediately called the bank again and blocked the card.
Her mother was so angry that she called Fred.
“You are just an ordinary thief,” her mother accused him.
“I am not a thief. I am just taking what is rightfully ours,” he scorned.
“Rightfully yours?” Annie’s mom asked with an icy calm.
“Yes, since your daughter lived off us,” Fred said, just as calm.
“She didn’t live off you. She paid her way while she lived there. It won’t surprise me if you planned this before she left,” Annie’s mom made another accusation.
“Indeed, I planned it all. I’m a mastermind!” was Fred’s sickening words, accompanied by his sickening sinister laughter.
“Then you will meet your match, mastermind!” her mother said and hung up.
She read the letter a second time. The man was a nutcase! Annie just shook her head in disbelief when she read the letter for the third time. Fred was accusing her of not trusting him because he couldn’t withdraw money from the bank anymore. He claimed he was saving the money for her, for when she returned. Furthermore, he said she really hurt his feelings, because of the conversation with her mother. He accused Annie of putting her mother up to call him to rant and rave. He complained that her mother had called him a thief.
Impulsively Annie wrote and faxed him a letter where she demanded that he should immediately sent her both the money and all the stuff she had left on the smallholding. Minutes later, she received a fax back. He refused to send her anything and said her stuff would remain on the smallholding until she personally collected it from there.
One thing Annie wasn’t proud of was her letter to the electricity company. The batches of chickens that Fred put in the barn never experienced any night, since the electric lights were always on. The poor things spent their short lives eating and drinking until they were fat enough to be slaughtered and sold to Fred’s customers.
The electricity cost was enormously high. Fred had discovered a way to stop the electricity meter from running. He knew more or less when the civil servant of the town council would come to read the meter. He then made sure that the meter was running, as it should. The gates to the smallholding were always locked and if it happened that the civil servant came earlier than Fred anticipated, he just pretended not to be home. If the children were playing outside and they saw the civil servant, they had to say that they didn’t have a key to the gate and that their parents weren’t home. Fred had made sure that all bases were covered.
Once she realized Fred wasn’t going to send either her money or her belongings, Annie impulsively wrote the letter to the electricity company, detailing Fred’s monthly actions regarding the electricity.
About two months after she had written the letter, she received a letter from Fred. He told her he was sad and angry because of Annie’s snitching. Her anger because he stole from her flared up again, and in that moment she was proud that she had blown the whistle on him. In her reply to his letter, she made her feelings clear: Only now I feel you have been sufficiently punished for robbing me from my money and my belongings.
Not long after that, Annie’s aunt contacted Fred and she collected the boxes Annie had packed before she left the smallholding. Annie’s aunt could be very pushy and she never took no for an answer. Weeks later, Annie finally received her belongings.
Annie was excited when her boxes arrived. Her delight soon turned into disillusion. Fred had opened every box before her aunt had removed it from the storage. Quite a lot of her things were missing. Some of those things held a sentimental value to Annie.
When Annie asked Fred about the specific items, he once again said she had to collect it herself. Annie was aware she would never be able to win if she crossed swords with him. To her, it was not worth the effort anymore. He was a crazy, unreasonable man.
She decided to cut her losses.
She broke off all contact with Fred.
Annie had survived the nightmare of living on the smallholding with Fred and Fran. The mental scars had healed. Sort of. On her breast, where Fred had put the cigarette out on the night that he had so terribly abused her, the scar remained slightly visible. The big W on Annie’s tummy reminded her never again to allow any man take the control of her life out of her hands.
Another vow Annie made to herself was never again to stay involved with a man if he tried to keep her from her children, or if he ill-treated her children. Two of the more serious relationships in her new country of residence, ended because of this vow, a vow she would honor for the rest of her life.
Bisexuality? Her life was almost ruined the first time Annie ever was willing to admit she had bisexual feelings. Due to that bad experience, Annie didn’t feel free to actively pursue her bisexuality. It took many years and a steady, happy relationship, for her to feel comfortable again to be with a woman.
Annie had learned her lesson well.
* * * THE END * * *
© Rebel’s Notes
A final note
The above is the last of almost 100 posts in this series, and cover a period in my life of the last 9.5 months I had lived in South Africa, back in 1994. I wrote this for the first time in 2007/2008, and in the past two years have been editing this story, changing it to be posted here. Both when it was originally written, and during the editing, there were times I sat here, shivering, remembering the horrible things that happened then. I had lost myself back then, and it took me a lot of courage to find myself, AND to have the strength to leave; to go through with my plans.
Thank you to all who have followed this story, and commented. It really means a lot!