Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Year

Well, folks, today marks one year since I married someone who I thought was the love of my life. It's been an... interesting 12 months.

If you'd told me, on 18 December last year, that THIS is how my life would be now, I wouldn't have believed you. Despite everything that had happened to that point, I still thought somehow things would turn out alright. Well, I guess they are, just in a dramatically different way to what I was expecting.

I thought I'd be celebrating my 1-year wedding anniversary. I'm certainly not celebrating, or at least not in any "happ-happy-yay-we've-been-married-a-year" way. Instead I'm alone, no husband, reflecting on the year that's passed and trying not to think about what could have been, if he'd just been honest.

This week I've realised that, while it's not exactly common for a marriage to not last a year, I'm certainly not unique. I was chatting with the receptionist at the imaging place where I went to get an ultrasound this week, she told me her first marriage barely limped to one year before they separated, and another lady there said her first lasted 10 months. Both say they are now happily married to other people.

Yesterday I shared a table, and a cuppa, with a lovely older lady and her husband, John Nugent, ex-mayor of Ipswich. Both simply lovely people.They've been married for over a year now, it's a lovely story.

So, it appears there's hope for me. There is hope I'll get it right. Eventually.

And sorry I haven't posted much cooking or eating out lately. Let's just say I haven't really felt like cooking much for a while. Or going out. But that'll change, promise.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nearly December already

Excusing my language, but love is a really f**ked up and useless emotion. I have a lot on my chest that has been festering away for a while, so now I figure what the hell, I'll get it off my chest and share it with the big wide impersonal world.

Nearly one year ago I married a man because I loved him. There were things that he said that I didn't believe, that didn't add up, but because I loved him I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and trusted him. Silly, stupid me. This is the same man that, on the night before our wedding, "postponed" it. That should have been the final straw. But nooooo, because of "love", I gave him yet another chance.

He ran out of chances in July this year.

Because of him my brother lost nearly everything. Because of him my brother quit his safe, solid, very well-paying job, on the promise from this man of employment, wage, and a home. This man promised that these things would begin at the start of January. By July none had appeared. No home, no job, no money. My brother had to sell his house to stop it being sold by the bank. His credit history is shot to shit. I nearly bankrupted myself to try and keep him afloat.

If that was not bad enough, there's the stuff this man did to me. I bought leave, took two months off work at the end of last year to go on a honeymoon, part of which would be meeting his family in Italy. I told him up front that I'd have to do the leave on half-pay, and wouldn't be able to meet my mortgage payments during that time. He promised he would take care of that. He did not. I didn't realise this until the bank sent me a very nasty letter (thankfully I'd been ahead in my payments by a fair amount, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been). But by this time I was far enough behind that they were talking about selling my house. Again, he said he'd take care of it. Again, he did not. The only reason I kept my house was I went to the bank, met with the manager, swallowed my pride and cried, and worked out a solution with him.

Let's not forget his constant jealousies. Never, at any stage of the "marriage", did we live together. I refused to live in an empty house, which I think is fair enough. He kept promising that "soon" we'd be moving into his "other" house, which of course never happened. Strangely enough, I took a drive past it once, quite by chance, and noticed that it had a sign out the front saying it was being auctioned the next weekend. When I asked him about it he said "yeah, it's something I have to do to try and get rid of this woman who's trying to get money out of me, but it won't really be sold". Ummm....... Anyway, he then said after the auction that it had been sold back to him. Aside from that being illegal, it just didn't ring true. But again, you "love" someone, you want to trust them, so you continue on.

Then of course there was the time he forced himself on me. I don't know why I didn't leave him then. Then, a few days later, I was feeling quick sick but once again he didn't believe me. Funny, he never believed a word I said. It wasn't until we got to mum's for him to dump me there and continue driving back to Melbourne, and mum took one look at me, checked my temperature and sent me to bed, that he believed I was sick.

Oh, and we can't forget the final clincher. Early July I went to his house while he was at work. I walked in the front door and... there were potplants. And furniture. The house was nearly completed furnished. Odd. I went into his room. It had additional furniture in it. And handbags. And high-heeled shoes. And women's clothing in the walk-in-robe. Next to all his stuff. I thought I handled it relatively well... I took pictures of everything, left his car and house keys beside the bed, and walked out.

When he called me later that evening I asked him who was living in his house. His response? "What do you mean?" Now, I thought it was a fairly simple question. He refused to answer it. So I hung up. He called me again later, and when I asked him again, this time he said "That's nothing for you to be concerned with." I asked him again. He said "It doesn't concern you". I may have yelled some abuse at him at that point. I'd have to check the recordings I took of the phone calls. He left me alone for a couple of weeks, then wanted to know if we could meet and talk. Meh, I gave in. He then tells me, at the meeting, that the stuff belongs to his sister, she had left her husband and was living there, but he'd been too embarrassed to tell me. Uh-huh. Yep, that's right, that's what he said. I have it recorded. Anyone else's bullshit-o-meter going right off the scale?

Everything was always all about him, until the time when it WAS all about him, and he was convinced it was all about someone else. No. The reason our marriage ended was that I got sick of trying to believe the things he said, and I got tired of waiting for just one thing he promised to come true.

Basically, everything this man promised never got delivered. Not to me, not to my brother. As we approach the one-year anniversary of when he did actually marry me, I find that the confusion, bitterness, and heartbreak is not getting better at the rate at which I would prefer. I know that, eventually, I'll get over this. I know that, eventually, I'll be able to move on, hopefully feel something for a man again, maybe even trust one enough to attempt another relationship. Unfortunately, knowing all of this doesn't seem to help speed up the recovery. I was played for a fool. How do you come back from something like that? In one way I am ashamed to tell you all about it - FFS, how f**king stupid must you think I am? But in another, if I don't get this out I feel as though it'll eat me alive, from the inside out, and I'll never get rid of the bitterness in my heart.

I finally trusted a man enough to have a long and serious relationship, I thought for the rest of our lives. You all don't know my history, so you perhaps don't appreciate what a gigantic leap that was for me. But I took it. And it tastes like shit in my mouth. The worst part is that, despite what he's done, the repercussions of everything that's happened, I still care about him. F**ked up, eh? The sooner I move on, the better. I've no doubt he has. There is almost nothing in my life that I truly regret. This, though, is something I wish I had never done, it had never happened. Even though my life, and my brother's, seem to be getting ever so slowly back on track, I wish I could rewind time - go back one year and do it differently.

Monday, September 05, 2011

And now for something different...

This weekend I went up to Canberra to doggy- and house-sit for a friend. It was a chance to help her out, and a chance for me to get the hell outta Dodge... sorry, I mean Melbourne... for a few days. Looking at the cost of flights, I figured I'd just hire a car, and that'd give me a way of getting around while I was up there (for those who aren't familiar with Canberra, it is NOT a place to be without a car). I ended up with a Hyundai i30. I thought I'd share my opinion with y'all.

With around 30,000km on the clock, the little 2.0L auto hatchback sounded like it'd had a few too many cigarettes, and sometimes it seemed like the gears slipped when I accelerated. I put that down to, mainly, the fact that it's a hire car and probably been thrashed to death.

The base model (after all, we're talking about a hire car here) came with air con, MP3-compatible CD player (halfway decent sound from the speakers, once I tweaked the settings to suit my taste), funky blue dashboard lighting, 2 x 12V plugs, and not much else. Certainly no cruise control, which would have been nice on a journey where I covered just shy of 1,400km or thereabouts. Oh, wait, and I remember seeing side air bags on the drivers side at least, and 2 cup holders between the front seats... but anyway. Once I'd put some air in the tyres (attention anonymous blue-logo hire-car company, 29psi is not enough), this actually turned into a moderately comfortable highway drive.

The seats won't win awards for comfort, but neither are they anywhere near as bad as what you'll get in a Getz. Or a Barina. Or a Focus, for that matter. Despite feeling a bit sluggish and underpowered on acceleration, the car sat quite happily on 110kph once it got there, and coped quite well with the hills. Around town the steering felt fairly heavy, and the car isn't nearly as nimble as I would prefer, or expected. Much as it galls me to admit, the Nissan Tiida beats the i30 for handling easily (although I think it may also be a little smaller... it's certainly got a slightly smaller engine).

Fuel economy was fairly decent... mainly highway driving, with a bit of around-town at the ends, gave average figures of about 7.8L/100km.

Would I hire an i30 again? Yeah, probably. It's comfortable enough, would easily seat 4 people, or 5 if the people on the back seat were (a) friendly, or (b) slim-ish, and (c) not overly tall/didn't have long legs. Plenty of room in the boot for a few medium-sized suitcases. It's a good compromise between cost and comfort in the cars offered by this company - I mean, a Getz is cheaper, and a Falcon/Commodore is more comfortable, and smack-bang in the middle of them is where I'd stick the i30.

Would I buy one? Probably not. Maybe if I could get over my bias against Hyundais, and got a top-of-the-range model with Bluetooth compatible stereo and cruise control and all the other options, and then heavily modified it to dramatically improve the handling, and... who am I kidding?

For someone who just wants a car to get from point A to point B, they'd probably love this car. And I'm sure plenty of people do, cos it's been voted best mid-sized car a couple of times (I think), but for me, I like something different in a car. It's just a sad fact that the i30 can't compare to my current front-runner favourite.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Amazing Women

I'm very lucky in many ways, one of which is the number of amazing women that I know. I've just finished reading a book, admittedly a rather trashy chick-lit, about women living in the American prison system. Although it's a work of fiction the author did an immense amount of research to make their experiences as real-to-life as entertainment could make. The book also has a list of suggested reading for anyone interested in learning more about American women's prisons. I've looked up a few of the publications listed and I have to admit it's been fascinating, if sad, reading.

But I digress. It got me thinking about the women I know, and how many of them are truly amazing. I can't and won't give you an exhaustive list, but I do want to share with you the ladies who have had a big impact on my life. Please, indulge me. And if you don't want to know, stop reading. What can I say, I'm feeling mushy.

First, of course, there has to be my Mum. I give the word a capital because I think it's worthy. This lady has worked hard all her life. First the farm, then as a nurse, then as a mother, and then as a single mother, raising two children while dealing with a marriage breakdown and having to get herself back into her old profession. At every step of the way she made sure we had everything we needed and as much of what we wanted as was possible (and good for us!). Beyond our childhood she has been there to help, support and guide us, right there behind us in whatever we decide to do. Even if and when she thinks we're making a mistake she lets us, and is right there for either support or congratulations when it's needed. It sounds corny, but every day I try to live in a way that would make her proud of me.

I met Vicki when she was in a long-term relationship with my paternal gene-donor some 20 years ago. She became my adult-friend, someone I could go to if I felt I couldn't talk to my mum, and I firmly believe every teenaged girl, or boy, should have someone like that. As I've matured the friendship has as well. She attacks life with a wonderful smile and such a positive attitude, it's an inspiration.

Sarah is someone I've known for well over half my life. We may not speak every day, or every week, or even every month, but I know that she's there. She's seen me go through good times, bad times, and everything in between. Even when half a country separates us, she's been there. She is intelligent, funny, sarcastic, and knows exactly what a good friend is, and how to be one.

Then of course there's Diana. Talk about an amazing woman. I won't divulge personal details, but her strength and courage in making a better life for herself and her children is inspiring. I met Diana after she'd made that decision, and seeing her overcome every obstacle that's been put in her path, and seeing her come alive, has been wonderful.

And let's not forget Mel. I met Mel when we were both applying for the same job, and she won it. That was quite possibly the best thing that could have happened. While I was handing the job over to her I started to realise exactly how lovely she is. Out of that experience I gained a friend who is also a wonderful lady. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mel, she is simply an amazing and beautiful woman.

Naturally there are many more ladies I could write about here, these are just the first to spring to mind. I love that my life is filled with strong, intelligent women. I think I have excellent taste in friends!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I know people are well-meaning, but seriously, is this how they want the conversation to go?

"How are you doing, Anna?"

"How do you think I'm doing? I feel like shit. I feel devastated. I have no idea how to even start to feel OK again. Or trust. It was hard enough to do the first time, but this, now, after all of that, is infinitely worse. I can't even begin to find the words to adequately describe how I'm 'doing'."

But I don't say that, because the people that ask me that question really do mean well.

So I shrug, and say "I'll be fine."

Inside I'm alternating between screaming and crying.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

RIP Pulsar

This morning at about 5am my little blue boy was doing what he usually does at 5am on Sunday mornings - snoozing. He was doing this in the same place he's been doing it for the past month or thereabouts: by the side of a road in Portland, with other cars in front and behind him. This morning, though, was going to be different.

It was at about this time that a drunk driver hit him, and wrote him off.

Let me tell you a little more, both about me and about my boy. I do tend to have a habit of ascribing personalities to inanimate objects - I know this (and anyone who knows me would know this... just think of Fred). And this I did thoroughly with The Pulsar. So when I say "he" and "him" you know why. Couple this with the fact that I am a "car person" - someone who drives for the love of it - and hopefully you'll have a glimmer of understanding about my reaction to today.

This car has been in my family for 12 years - since he was new. And for the past decade he's been an almost daily presence in my life, manfully shuttling me where I need to go. We've been on long road trips together, just the two of us. We've explored the ACT, NSW, and Victoria. He's never faltered, never given me any problem - he's just soldiered on. I've faithfully serviced his little metal heart every 5,000km, usually personally. I installed a Whiteline works kit to firm up his chassis, gave him some schmick mags and low-profile tyres, and had someone install a 3.25" cat-back exhaust, so he could be everything his little 1.6L soul could be. In return he's been the best and most reliable car anyone could ask for.

In recent months I reluctantly decided it was time for him to move on, to give someone else the fun times and faithful service that I've enjoyed. I'll admit, I haven't tried all that hard: my efforts extended to putting a sign up in his window. I had decided I'd do it seriously after my sister-in-law was finished borrowing him. Obviously those plans are out the window.

It will probably seem silly to almost everyone, but the loss of my boy is gut-wrenching. The thought that I will never again turn the key and hear that beautiful purr of the engine, never "do" the Great Ocean Road again (which I'd planned on doing once more before he went), never curse about how rough roads feel with his oh-so-firm ride... I feel actual grief.

If there is an upside to this, and I always look for the upside, it's that no-one was hurt. Well, none of my family, at least. I don't know, nor care, about the driver and his friends. The other upside is that, although apparently the driver didn't stop, his friends did go back and call the number on the "For Sale" sign in the window. And they door-knocked the area to try and find the owner. Thankfully my brother had arrived just yesterday and he's handling it all for me. The resolution should be OK, so long as they keep to their word.

But it's just such a waste - of the hours of care and work I've put into him, and of a bloody good car as well. Sure, he was soon to leave my life anyway, but I'd had hopes of him going to someone, probably as their first car... seeing him on the road, maybe walking past him at the shops. One day he'd fly past me and I'd hear that gorgeous 4-cylinder 3.25" exhaust roar...

So, in closing, let me share with you some of his more photogenic moments. If I can face it, I might post a picture some other time on how he looks now... I haven't seen, and right now I simply can't.

One of our camping trips, this time in Torquay

Eyeballing the camera... so tough!

Freshly washed and clean

Not so clean after being bogged at Laverton train station

Staking his claim on new territory - when I bought my block


Overseeing progress on the construction of my house

Chillin' out in the sunshine in Sunshine

Waiting for me to get the hell down from the old water tower in Daylesford

That's how far up I was

One of the bushwalking tracks near Daylesford... yet another road trip

Lavers Hill... great devonshire teas there

Triplet Falls...

The Apostles

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shroomin', man...

This year, finally, I managed to book myself into a fungi workshop with Alison Pouliot. Mel and I have tried before, but these things seem to fill up damnably quickly. So you can understand that we were happy there were a couple of free seats on a weekend that suited us both. On an overcast Saturday morning we made our way to Trentham.

As we got there we were greeted with a veritable trove of all things fungal, all freshly collected and labelled by Alison.

The workshop kicks off at 11am with a couple of hours in the Trentham Neighbourhood Centre where Alison instructs the group, and we learn about the different types of fungi, debunking myths around identifying safe ones, and finding out how to figure out what should, and shouldn't, either make you sick, trip you our, or kill you. We covered smell, pileus shape and texture, gill types and appearances, stipe forms... it was incredibly thorough, without being an overwhelming flood of information.

After a short break for a late lunch we headed out for the foraging half of the workshop. The place Alison took us to was a great spot, with both native and pine forest areas, and the occasional section that had been in a bushfire. This all meant that we could expect quite a few different types of fungi. Below are some of my favourite shots of the day... I don't remember what most of these were, but I still like the pics.

It's amazing the amount of life right under your feet, that you don't even notice. And beautiful it can be.

Even things you may not immediately think of as fungus...

This is an image a lot of people would recognise... but where are the fairies?

This baby managed to stump Alison, which is quite an achievement. It's not an oyster mushroom; it's not the mushroom that tries to LOOK like an oyster mushroom but glows in the dark and is bad for you... it's something else again. I still don't know what it is, but it was huge!

Check these little babies out! They were growing on a pine cone on the ground.

A lot of people might recognise these as puff balls. These really are an interesting little organism, particularly in they way they spread their spores around -- when the time is right, in a great big puff :-)

Even these tiny little yellow guys are important. How easy would it be to walk right past them without even realising they're there?

These cute little jelly-balls are fungus too.

This is one of the naughty ones ;-) Very popular with people looking for an... alternate view of the universe.

And these... these are the beauties of the fungi kingdom, I think. They are gorgeous, and the smell... absolutely beautiful.

If you have any interest in the fungi world I recommend you keep your ears open in Autumn and get yourself into one of Alison's workshops. It's a good day out, and you'll learn heaps. Plus a nice wander through the bush is relaxing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Carrot Cake

I love carrot cake, but it's not something I make all that often. In fact, I think I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say it's been YEARS since I last made a carrot cake. It's been so long, in fact, that I can't remember where my preferred recipe is.

No matter, I have a new preference. When I was making this I had a moment of doubt, as it makes quite a wet batter, but it all came together quite nicely. Oh, and don't let the long list of ingredients put you off - they're all basic, and the method could hardly be easier!

Carrot Cake
(adapted from Tracy Rutherford's recipe in 9 August 2004 "Fresh Living" magazine)
2 medium or 3 small carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup golden syrup
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup roughly crushed walnuts
1/2 cup dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced, and grease a 20cm-round springform pan. Line the base with baking paper.

Sift the flours, bicarb soda and spices together into a big bowl. In a jug, whisk the brown sugar, oil, golden syrup, eggs and vanilla together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until they just come together.

Add the carrots, walnuts and coconut and mix gently to combine. The mix really is quite moist, but don't worry.

Pour the batter into the tin. Bake for about an hour. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then turn it onto a cake rack to cool completely.

Once it's completely cold mix half a block of Philly cream cheese with a cup of icing sugar then spread it all over the top of the cake. I dare you not to lick the bowl.

This cake turns out beautifully moist and incredibly more-ish. I ended up giving half of it to my neighbours purely so we wouldn't eat it all within half an hour. As you can see, we didn't even pretend to wait for the icing to set.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Oohh Pretty

I wanted to share some of my favourite images from this year's Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. So here they are:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Slicegate – The Caramel Slice Showdown

I love caramel slice. Especially the caramel bit. I make it the way I like it, but I started wondering how this would stack up against the commercially available stuff. And there are some brilliant caramel slices out there. Unfortunately there are also some really, really awful ones.

So I made a slab of slice, then went out and bought specimens from three different places to pit against my creation. Nine willing taste testers were easily found within the office, and it was on.

I went to great lengths to try and make sure the test was completely blind. I brought the slices into the office in a plain plastic slice container so no-one could know which was which. I presented the samples one at a time. I was hoping to get people’s honest opinions. I think I achieved that. Or at least I hope I did.

I gave each person a scoresheet where they would rate each slice on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the worse and 5 the best, against 5 criteria: base, caramel, chocolate, visual appeal, and overall enjoyment.

Final scores were out of 225 for each slice: a score of out 5 for each criteria from 9 people

Here are the results.

4th place:

Slice B
Base: 21/45
Caramel: 20/45
Chocolate: 24/45
Visual Appeal: 30/45
Overall Enjoyment: 23/45For a total 118/225

3rd place:

Slice A
Base: 23/45
Caramel: 24/45
Chocolate: 26/45
Visual Appeal: 24/45
Overall Enjoyment: 23.5/45
For a total 120.5/225

2nd place:

Slice D
Base: 23/45
Caramel: 31/45
Chocolate: 25/45
Visual Appeal: 27/45
Overall Enjoyment: 26/45
For a total 132/225

And 1st place:
Slice C
Base: 33/45
Caramel: 33/45
Chocolate: 31/45
Visual Appeal: 38/45
Overall Enjoyment: 35.5/45
For a total 170.5/225

I will now reveal the origins of each slice.

Slice B came from Coles. At $4.49 for a pack of 6 slim fingers it was the second cheapest option. As you can see, though, it didn’t rank highly at all with the test group which, I think, means any saving in $$ isn’t worth it in the flavour stakes. Personally I found this slice to be quite plastic with a flavour that I didn’t like at all. In fact, I took one bite then turfed the rest of my piece into the bin.

Slice A came from Michel’s Patisserie. At $3.95 per piece (and they weren’t the biggest pieces: Slice D comes in slightly larger portions) it was the most expensive of those sampled. Comments from the testers include base is “too crumbly” and “a bit dry”, and the caramel “is more fudgy” and “a bit grainy”.

Slice D came from Brumby’s bakery. At $3.20 per piece it rated in the middle of the expense scale. One tester considered this “the best” caramel (and I have to admit, I love their caramel too). They also suggested more base and less caramel. As you can see, the ration of caramel to other layers is... well, the picture speaks for itself. Another tester suggested there was not enough chocolate. For me, if I’m buying caramel slice instead of making it, this is the one I choose and it’s mainly because of the quality of the caramel.

Slice C was the one I made. I can’t work out the cost-per-piece, but it comes down to not-bloody-much. The payoff is, though, the time spent preparing, baking, cooling, cooking, baking, cooling, melting, and cooling. I’m so very proud that my humble little offering ranked so highly. You can find the recipe for it here.

Finally, once the testing was over, I brought all slices back out for the rest of the office to enjoy morning tea. I’m happy to report that C was finished first. A narrowly beat D to be finished next, and I ended up throwing the last of B out.

I really enjoyed this, and I hope my testers did too. I’m already trying to think of ideas to do a similar thing in a month or so with something else I like to bake. Ideas? Suggestions? Taste-testing volunteers?

Monday, February 07, 2011


I watched The Shiralee on Saturday for the first time since I was about 8 years old. Needless to say, I appreciated it rather more this time around. It got me thinking. You may wish to stop reading now, because the rest of this post is both rambling and perhaps not happy, but it’s something that I want to get out of my head. And sometimes I can't quite find the words that I'm looking for.

To a little girl, her daddy is a hero. A veritable demigod. He’s Prince Charming and Superman and Sir Galahad, all rolled into one, no matter how shithouse he is as a daddy.

Sure, little girls grow up, and they learn that their parents are human too, but there’s still a lurking ideal, a belief that your dad can do anything, simply because he’s your dad.

So what must it take for that belief to be damaged? To, in fact, be broken, shattered into countless pieces, to the point where a daughter has nothing left but contempt for her father? For her to want nothing more to do with him? I can tell you what it took for me.

My earliest memory of this man, and my only memory of him before the age of 8 or 9, is not of being cuddled, or of love, or having fun, but of him repeatedly hitting my upper arm when I said I didn’t know what I wanted for breakfast one morning. He asked, and when I said “I don’t know” he held my arm out and started hitting it, asking after each time what I wanted for breakfast. Naturally I did nothing but scream and cry, and it wasn’t until mum came to find out what was going on that he stopped. A lovely memory, yes?

Throughout my entire life, he had been there on and off, seemingly as the mood took him. I’m not talking about being physically there, as admittedly my parents were divorced so he only saw us twice a year, but THERE in even a most general sense. Even those two times a year, he’d take us to his mother’s place and, for the most part, I entertained myself by either playing with my cousin or the neighbour’s kids, or my uncles would spend time with me. I still remember, after my brother left home to go to uni, I didn’t hear from our father for a while. After being used to weekly phone calls this hurt, and my 12-year-old self wondered what I’d done to make him stop talking to me.

In my mid-teens it seems that my father decided he wanted to be “dad” and moved near to where I went to school. There followed three years in which I actually got to know him, this man who called himself my father.

Into my adult life the pattern continued – a couple of months of regular contact, followed by more months of nothing. And yet all of this I forgave, because hey, it’s your dad, right? And you’re meant to love your parents. The problem is that I’d learned that my father was someone that I didn’t particularly like. This caused me no end of guilt and grief from the conflicting emotions it raised.

Even up until the final time, the only time it seemed my father initiated any contact with me (bear in mind, he lived 5-10 minutes away) was when his partner prompted him. The final episode happened late last year. Suffice to say there was a falling out, and I claim responsibility for my part in it. I think we could have overcome this and probably continued on as we had been for many years to come, except for what he did. What did he do? He lied to me about his mother’s health. He contacted his brothers and threatened them that if they attended my wedding then they would no longer be part of the family. He called my brother and told him to think “very carefully about the consequences” if he attended my wedding. He spread lies to the family about things I had allegedly said and done. He defamed my fiancĂ© (now husband). He not once actually spoke to me during all of this. Oh wait, I tell a lie – he did speak to me: when I called him to find out which hospital my grandmother was in. All of this over something that, one year ago, he agreed with me on.

The neglect and other shit throughout my life I have forgiven, time and time again. This last I will not. His last words to me were vindictive and childish, and that is his burden to bear. He has lost more than a daughter, I have lost far less than a father. I am now at peace within myself, the conflicting emotions and guilt are gone, as I feel absolutely no requirement to love or honour him as my parent. I thank him for setting me free.