“I don’t think I can have you stay in my flat any longer. I want you gone within three months.” And with that announcement, delivered three days after Christmas, my father broke into a smile.
“There. Now I have that off my chest we can get on with enjoying the holiday.”
And remarkably, he has. Ever since dropping that bombshell on me over breakfast on the 28th, he has been eerily pleasant as if the idea had been pressing on his mind and now he had said it out loud it was no longer there. It’s crushing me, instead.
I wish I could say I was new to being thrown out by my parents. The fact is I ended up at my dad’s when my mum threw me out in early 2014. Before that we have to go back to 2003, age 17, when I wasn’t thrown out but more “had to leave” my dad’s flat for legal reasons – two years after my mum sent me to live with him when dealing with a suicidal teenager became too much of a hassle for her. After a period of homelessness and hospitalisation, I got my own flat in 2004, and stayed a tenant of a supported housing agency until I gave it up (and all the disability benefits too) to go to university. Although I knew my mental health was precarious, I had no idea at that point that I also had a genetic disorder affecting my connective tissue, and that within 8 years I would be a wheelchair user, unable to work, and back living at my dad’s because I couldn’t get an income.
I have no idea how long he’s wanted to throw me out for. Periodically he’s complained that I’m not making an effort to find accommodation, to which I point out that I’m still waiting to hear back from the council – that private accessible accommodation that accepts housing benefit is hard to find is a gross understatement. Truthfully, my plan was to wait until I heard back from my last PIP assessment – firstly so I knew if I would be able to afford the move, and secondly (and more importantly) so I would not have to deal with two major stressors at once. Dealing with one thing at a time is how I manage my mental health. If I try to take on too much at once, it can go very badly. But he’s forced my hand here. I have to find somewhere to live before the end of March, even if I have to take my PIP claim to appeal again.
He’s always been very territorial about his flat. Despite my living there as a teen, it was always HIS. He resented that it was to his flat that my boxes would come back to when moving to uni, moving abroad, moving back in. He resents more when I get too comfortable. And heaven forbid I let my mother in….. part of me feels that my offhand comment on Boxing Day about mum “popping round” in the new year may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. He’s expressed discomfort with my familiarity with the flat before. The few non-fixed adaptations and equipment prescribed by the council’s occupational therapist have mostly been consigned to the conservatory. He doesn’t want a cleaner in HIS flat (despite never being there to clean it himself). The powerchair in the hall is tolerated, although the wheelchair ramp, which I negotiated long and hard for, is considered a symbol of my “settling in”. Ironic, since it’s the thing which enables me to LEAVE the flat most of the time. Essentially, I’ve always known my residence would be temporary. I’ve been reminded constantly.
So, having had two days to take it in, I’m feeling relatively calm. Enforced calmness was necessary to avoid a stress induced breakdown 4 hours from home where all my information is, in a house where the internet is unreliable at best and any supportive family had left the day before. I had my necessary cry, and my small rage, and then I put on my grown up face and asked him to please give me a letter for the council stating intention of eviction by the end of next week. With luck, common sense will overrule spite and he won’t say I have made myself “voluntarily homeless” as he’s been threatening to. I’m not sure it would stand anyway, since I’m not a tenant and there was no contract for me to break the terms of.
In the coming weeks/months I will be blogging about my search to find a new home, and probably also drawing parallels with my experiences at 17 which so far I haven’t had the guts to because of associated PTSD. This is going to bring those memories bubbling to the surface though, so writing them out will be one way to take control.
So. Let’s find an accessible place in London that also accepts housing benefit. Game face: on.