If you was to knock at my door right now, there is a 90% chance that I would not answer and if I did answer and I had not invited you over (unless you were crying, bleeding or looked like you needed me) then there is not a chance of me inviting you in. If you called my phone right now there is a 100% chance that I won’t answer (If you have my number, then go ahead and call….test this out). Unless its work related or I know that you are going to call, there is no chance I will answer. (So, for those of you that are in my circle…if you need me for real and need to call or come to my yard…WhatsApp’s me first).
I have not always been like this. Far from it. Growing up as a kid my house would often be busy. All the kids that bunked off school would come to mine. On the run…. come to mine. Need a place to stay…come to mine. The amount if times I would come home, and someone would have moved into our “spare room” because “They needed a place to stay”. Growing up …and anyone reading this from back in the day will vouch….my bedroom would daily be filled with young people, windows all open, clouds of smoke from smoking whatever, Jungle music blaring, always some kind of alcohol on the go. (I think my neighbours loved me). Day and night. Most people from back in the day will remember that I hardly ever closed my bedroom window and that it was very normal for me to be sitting in my room and friends to just climb in through my window. Once I woke up and there was a someone, I didn’t know sitting at the end of my bed…. but we will tell that story another day.
Anyway, this kind of behaviour was normal for my house. My mum sometimes had people round, but not often. However, when my dad was in prison my uncle (from my dads’ side) and his pals would often throw parties at my house. I can’t tell you if my mum agreed to this or not. I can remember her not happy and not joining in. But, yer, sometimes these very adult parties would take place in my house. And sometimes things would happen that children should not have to witness.
We lived in a ground floor flat and the back door to my flat would almost always be open. My mum would leave it open day and night. The amount of times I would come around the corner at 3 – 4 in the morning to find my mum sitting on the back-door step mid panic attack. I would go mad. Tell her how dangerous it was.
When my mum was very unwell. I would lock the doors and windows when I left the house and would take the back-door key. This was when I knew she may not be able to protect herself if someone came in. She almost let the house get cuckooed once when I was gone for a few days….and when I moved out a few years later it did get cuckooed …but these are stories for another day.
My point is this, my home never felt “Safe”. I would rather be home than most places, but It didn’t always feel like a safe place. The only time it felt quite safe was when all the doors and windows were locked, we had our dog, mum was of sound mind and everything was calm. But that was not something that was a daily occurrence.
I guess this, alongside with everything else would explain why I had my first full blown panic attack aged 9. Nowhere to just rest when it all got too much.
Fast forward to my own places growing up. Well…I was a teenager with a house of my own…how do you think life carried on. I didn’t have parties when the my children were there but when they stayed away, I would have parties. And on normal days I would have friends round and we would play music and smoke. (Cigarettes I must add…these were the days when it was the norm to smoke in the house with your kids…can you imagine!) People were always welcome at my house. That’s how I was raised. If my mates needed somewhere to stay…come to me, no food…I will feed you…feeling down…knock my door.
And my house never felt safe. Not really. I become involved with an abusive partner and that had a massive impact. I was still living in a gang entrenched area. I could never rest. My best friend used to joke that I would wake up to the turn of a page in a book I slept so light. I would laugh but deep down knew that I had no choice but to sleep like that.
In my late 20s mum died. Just like that. And I once again found myself in an abusive relationship. I can’t explain how I have ended up in abusive relationships. It shocks me. What I can tell you is that I would never end up in one again. I know people say you can’t say that …but trust me….
So now I was the “mum”. I mean I had always been the mum but now my mum had died I was like a real adult (You will only really understand that if you have no mum or dad). So, all the having friends round stopped…I guess I was depressed. My partner…he would have his friends and family round and they would have the same mentality when it came to drugs, drink and doing what you want . I would not put up with it of course, but you get the picture. And very quickly the domestic abuse started. The shouting. The name calling the banging and slamming. The threats against me. To take my children away. To make my children hate me.
And then I would be all flowers and nice again.
And then back to the hate…with no warning. I would wake up some mornings and nothing would have happened. You just knew that he was going to give us a hard day. Us. Me and my sons.
And, as I think I mentioned in a previous blog, I will always feel guilty for letting us live like that. But I am also big enough to take it that it did. And I am so sorry to the kids for that.
And home never felt safe. My anxiety got worse and I hated being home.
Up until I was say…34…I never just laid in bed and chilled. Or I never just stayed home and done what I want. There was always some pressure…something happening. “Home” was just a word.
Then I left him. And I drooped the people in my life that were a drain.
I decorated the house the way I liked. I gave myself the smallest room in the house so the kids could have space and all that there really is in my room is a giant double bed. Its right by the window. On a sunny day I lay there (usually working) with the sun streaming in on my face. Usually a cat with me. When its bad weather I lay with my curtains open on my bed an watched the rain, lightening…the trees being bashed about.
Sometimes I sit in my little living room with a blanket and watch the tv.
When the kids are home, we are just on a contest chill to be fair. My son will spend hours doing his own thing, popping on my room for a quick chart (That always lasts about an hour and we put the worlds to right) and if I am lucky (And put on my sad eyes) he makes me an omelette. My daughter will lay on her bed for hours, watching her computer, reading, drawing and the she will take herself off to watch films, build an imaginary would with her toys or find the cats. And when my middle son comes home, he finds it hard to slow down to our speed.
Are there arguments in the house? Of course, usually between my daughter who is 9 but thinks she is 19. But we make up quickly as we can, and it forgot the next day. I will read to her ever night and even when she is cross with me, she will stomp in with her book.
And it feels like home. It feels safe. I can name you the people that come to my house. There is only one person outside of the kids that just turns up, and that is my best friend Anne. And even she will give me warning and can usually tell when I am not up for it. My son’s girlfriend will be reading this and thinking “What about me”. You have key Gab’s you are family. You never need to knock. (But…it took her a long time to get on them levels)
In the past 3 years I recon….15 people have been in my house apart from people to fix things.
My ex has never been allowed a step in the house since the day he left.
For me to invite you to my house is a big deal. I call those that I invite over my “Cup of tea friends”. I used to ask my mum if the people that came in the house were her friends and she would say “You will know if they are my friend because we will be drinking tea together…if you don’t offer people tea they usually don’t stay long”. So, if you come over and I don’t offer you tea…I want you to leave…just saying.
I hardly go out anymore. Not in a hermit way…come on now I go all over the country to give talks and stuff…but if I can stay in, then I do. I spend whole weekends in my safe place, and I love it.
I have created a space where, for the first time in my life aged 38 (Nearly 39) that I call home and its not just a word.
When we are in the house no one can hurt us, and we don’t want to hurt each other. If you feel unwell in the house, its fine, because it’s safe. You never have to worry that you will wake up and someone will be in the house you don’t know. You never have to worry that someone will be in the house that you don’t like or makes you feel uncomfortable. There may not always be lots of stuff, but there are always what people need (Except chocolate…sometimes the house has no chocolate…I need to work on that). We all love each other in this house. And if you come in it means that you are wanted and needed and welcome. It has taken me a long time to crate this space so I can’t risk it being messed up by people that should not be there. Its too important to me.
So, if I invite you over and you want to come…then come. But please don’t ever just turn up (Or call me). Because if you do…(please read the first paragraph of this blog)..
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