I woke up at 5.30 this morning with a hideous panic attack, fighting for breath, my brain trying to crawl out of my ear to get away from… well itself I guess. Scenario after scenario went through my mind, all ending in homelessness, poverty and death at my own hand. My life has been precarious for a while now and yesterday’s announcement sent things from bad to worse. Correction, worse to terrible…. Sod it! Absofuckinglutley awful to totally fucking pox splattered diabolical. My mum and sister have booked train tickets to come and visit me. Now when I say “me” I mean “my flat” and when I say “my flat” I mean “my flat at the seaside”. I have tried to go visit her on numerous occasions but the tone changes as it becomes innoconvenient (and it is always inconvenient but more of that later) because what she wants is to use my home, my studio, my sanctuary from the chaos of the world as her holiday home or their holiday home. For my mum comes as part of a package deal with my sister, a situation created by a lifetime of denial on my mother’s part. Long explanation needed.
It’s not easy as a child realising that you are smarter than your parents. I can’t remember when I noticed it but I’m guessing about the age of eleven. I don’t mean knowing more facts, just being able to look at situations that they blindly walk into and see all the traps and land mines that they merrily step on. I’m assuming it is normal as a child to feel a sense of helplessness, that you are always at the whim of adults to drag you from here to there, tell you when to get up and when to go to bed, that sort of thing. My mum ignored the abuse I received at junior school from the headmaster of all things. My parents didn’t understand the school system, didn’t know how to complain, and on top of that my mum started taking Valium for her “nerve trouble” and was barely there whilst my dad was out working all hours to try and pay for all the crap they had become accustomed to. Always living beyond their means my family, always did and always will. My sister, although no one ever dared say it, has brain damage and has the mental age of an eleven year old although she fails the three mountain test so that could make her even younger in some ways. As a six year old child, I would get into hair pulling fights with her, thinking back at that now it seemed perfectly normal but she would have been nineteen at the time. Whether it was the measles that had cooked her brain or her getting run over but she certainly wasn’t right. This one of many elephants in the room of my family began to shit everywhere when my mother and father in their wisdom left my sister as my guardian after an ill thought out move from London to Yorkshire wiped out their finances and left them unable to find work. I remember at the time thinking this was a dumb way of living, my parents too proud to cut their losses. They would have had to move back to a smaller place in London and that would never do. What would their friends think after all? So two years with my sister in charge left me with a smashed up arm that took four years to heal, a patchy education and a load of baggage that would come back to haunt me later in life. After this genius move my parents followed it up with idiot decision after idiot decision trying to keep hold of a huge house in Yorkshire whilst dragging me from mouldy squalor to mouldy squalor and years of nights on camp beds and sofas. I was a neglected child! There! I said it! I’m not looking for sympathy here, just trying to explain that all this while I could see that their denial, their inability to deal with the mess they were in, their stupid pride, ruined their life and mine. My sister never had the professional help she needed, my parents never sat down and looked at there finances and I was getting the shit kicked out of me at school on a daily basis and my mum turned a tranquilliser flooded deaf ear. I was fifteen when my father’s heart popped, years of overwork, stress and heavy smoking caught up with him and from then on I took on the role as secondary carer. My evenings and weekends consisted of changing piss soaked trousers, pushing my dad around in a wheel chair and babysitting him as heart attacks lead to stokes and strokes to more heart attacks. We take our health for granted and seeing a strong man like that destroyed through stupidity and selfishness on my mother’s part to keep pushing him to do things through her need to keep up appearances forced him over the edge. I see that with people I love now, people taking liberty after liberty, it never ends well. When I see kids on these Pride of Britain type deals getting etched lucite blocks for looking after disabled parents, I don’t think, “aw bless!” I think “get that kid the fuck out of there before they end up like me” children should be children, not little parents or little nurse maids, it’s abuse!
Anyway, I’m going to fast forward to now. After over thirty years of living with depression including ten as a recluse I have created a mercifully chaos free life for myself, it still finds me occasionally but, for my part, I hear its heavy footsteps thundering towards me and sidestep as much of it as I can. It’s certainly not a great situation and recently it looks like it has cost me dearly but I can’t cope with it, I’ve had a lifetimes worth, maybe two. So in a minute I will make a phone call, after a whole year of minor ailments, disasters, and chaos. My 85 year old mum and my vulnerable adult sister, now with multiple sclerosis, will have to cancel their train tickets for the third time this year. I will offer to go and see them but it probably won’t happen. My sister is a horder, there is two foot of junk lining every wall(see! I said it was inconvenient) and my mum lives with her constantly as her house in Yorkshire rots from years of neglect, draining her finances to keep up the bills. There is a reason I live many miles from my family, down a slow railway line at the end of the country. There is a reason I live in an unmarked house down a side alley, chaos spreads if you let it. I have a phone call to make now. Wish me luck!