Mental illness runs in my family.
Addiction and suicide are rife - My fathers side mainly.
I have his hair. And the same blue/grey eyes. I wonder if this counts? That one day this will be enough to tip me over - and I get to join the ranks of all of those who came before me.
They grew up in and out of care my fathers family...Seven institutionalised adults came churning out of the machine after my nan decided that she didn't much like children after all once they'd arrived. I can only imagine the damage that did to them all...I can't even begin to imagine how that must have felt.
If you, or any one you know has ever had a relationship with an addict, you will know that being around one is bloody hard work. It's the emotional equivalent of letting a hungry, muddy rottweiler loose in a show-home. It's carnage.
Even when you are prepared for the tantrums, the lies, the plea-bargains and the often empty promises, it's a mammoth task and one that shouldn't be underestimated. Because getting emotionally involved on any level means that like it or not, you become an "Enabler". And according to pretty much every professional ever, thats "naughty"....so don't do it.
An "Enabler" basically does what it says on the tin. Because, by providing practical support like providing hot meals, cooking, cleaning, buying food, toiletries, clothes or whatever, you are basically "enabling" the person you care about to continue blithely on feeding their habit while you run around after them getting the shit end of the stick....
I used to be a substance-misuse support worker. I know all of this. I know that certain things are frowned upon. I "enable" my boyfriend anyway. Because I love him and I know that at present he struggles to do these things for himself.
I'm not prepared to let him lie around under a filthy duvet because I'm not supposed to do the laundry. Or watch him go hungry because he's too sick or weak to make himself a sandwich. I don't want the flat where he lives and where I spend my spare time to be a shit-tip. So I make sure that when I am around that these things get done. Am I enabling him? Yes. Am I happy about that? Not really.....no. But I know that at present and for as long as I stay with him, then I'm just going to roll with that.
I get angry with him. Frustrated. Upset....because I want him to be well and he isn't. I wish things were different. Because he was sober when I met him the second time around. He seemed to be doing ok. But then he went to the shop and bought vodka and now he is anything but. That was two months ago.
I went to see him on Tuesday. He said he was low. But what he actually meant was that he was drunk. He had been for days. Since I walked out on him Thursday in fact. He denied it of course....even though he could barely stand. I didn't bat an eyelid. It's becoming the norm. The place was a pig sty. Thats becoming the norm too. Broken glass on the floor....food everywhere. Sandwhich crusts mainly. He can't make much else.
I cooked us a roast. "Enabled" him again. He didn't want to eat it in front of me.....which in alcohol speak interpretes into "I can't pick up my knife and fork". I left him to it and went and sat in the kitchen where I ate mine. His went in the bin. Minus the gravy. That was all over the duvet. Which bought a whole new meaning to the term "damp patch" when we had to sleep under it later.
I couldn't be arsed to tell him about it. He wouldn't care anyway. I'll wash it in the morning.....with everything else that I picked up off the floor earlier.
Because that's what us "Enablers" do. Well.....I did. Because actually I'm not doing this anymore. See, when I scraped his plate into the bin earlier, I saw our relationship in there...right there at the bottom. Hidden under the scraps. Which deep down is all that he's offering me....and that's on a good day. On nights like tonight, you don't want to know.
I'm worth more than scraps. Plus I've decided that I don't like cleaning up sick.
So I'm leaving him. In fact I left him on Wednesday. I packed all my things and I caught the train back. I just don't think he's noticed yet.
Which is in itself "enabling". It enables me for a change. It enables me to move on from this and to not look back. Because even I am not that stupid....
#flogging a dead horse
I've started a war.
Just by being here apparently... which is exactly what I need right now. Well that, and a whacking great hole in my head, obviously
Because I'm "competition"...
Yeah? Well suck it up princess...cos I'm not going anywhere... I've only just got here.
I leave her bitching by the kettle, head upstairs and start to empty bin bags.
I'm not in the mood for this bullshit...
I didnt really talk much as a child.
Our house was always filled with a dark sense of oppression...old, messy arguments mixed in with the anticipation of new, even messier ones which always ended badly, and so in order to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing and getting drawn into the chaos caused by my parents, I made like a mouse and tried to keep quiet.
Then my dad died suddenly and overnight the house we lived in became a coffin for all of us...filled with this suffocating blackness that enveloped my mum, swirled around my brother and I, and never went away.
I didn't talk much then either, mainly because there was no one to talk back to me...we were all locked seperately inside our own little world's and so it was easier to just stay quiet.
Then, throughout school, (which I hated...mainly because I was scared that my mum would die too if I wasn't there to look after her), I starved and self-harmed and I carried the world around on my not quite yet teenage shoulders...and the teachers saw that things "weren't quite right" but it was a Catholic school where everything you did or said was a potential sin and so they were far too caught up in saying their own "Hail Mary's" and keeping in with God to worry about a quiet, sad girl who clearly "had issues"...not when they all had issues of their own...
So no one asked if I was ok...and I stayed quiet because I wasn't ...
As I grew older, when bad things happened...the violence, the sexual assaults, the things that can happen to young girls who don't have a support network, I turned it inside and I punished myself for not being stronger or harder or more resilient to the world... and then years later, when my depression kicked in, I chose drinking over talking and spent the next couple of years in and out of homelessness, too comatose to speak...
Until I ended up in rehab.
And then I did try to speak...but the staff didn't listen, and so I reverted back to type and simply stayed quiet.
It's taken two long years and a whole lot of headfuck to get me to this point...the point where I have found my voice...
And now I need to speak...
So no more quiet girl, no more silence... Just a story from the heart from a woman in an armchair...
Because as of now, there is no "Shush"...
"Are you sitting comfortably" (devised by Emma Turner)
The Whitworth Art Gallery
November 17th 2018
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