This wasn’t the kind of wreck I was aiming for when I’d left the house to go clubbing with my friend Becky the night before on 14th December 2001. I was expecting to feel like my head had been put into a vice, I had been expecting to hate loud noises for a while and I most defiantly had expected that a fry up would be the only cure. What I got was very unexpected indeed.
I’ve told this story before – on numerous occasions. I made light about the whole thing and joke about how we got excited to see firemen – hey, we do like a strapping man in uniform! I’ve told the story over and over again and every year I make a point of remembering the night my whole world changed. The night I sobered up faster than I ever have in my whole life when I realised I had just become homeless. The night my friends went through hell, and the night I lost all of my belongings. I have told the story of how I then spiralled into depression, drank myself to oblivion every night to “cope”, slept on friends sofas, lost my job because I was an absolute mess, started thinking I couldn’t go on to then finding out I was pregnant. I’ve told it over and over again. Why? Am I expecting tiny violins to be played in my honour? Do I want people to feel sorry for me? Shouldn’t I just get over it and move on?
Remembering should not be confused with the inability to move on. Remembering and telling my story shouldn’t be confused with a need to gain sympathy – people have been through far worse. Should I move on? Have I moved on?
Of course there are two answers to that question. Yes and No. Yes I have moved on with my life. I now have an amazing son, I went into a mother and baby unit for a year and 3 months and I was finally able to start my life again in July 2003 when we were housed. I’ve gone on to do some amazing things. My son has Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder, I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2006 BUT despite that – or rather because of, being a stubborn cow – we have both come through it all.
No I haven’t moved on and forgotten. NO I won’t get over it and not mention it again. I have to make a point every year because I need to be able to grieve the loss I felt that night. I need to be able to grieve my bed that I’d had for many years, for the white duvet cover with the blue feather pattern I’d only purchased that week. I need to grieve the loss of the cassettes containing music from my teenage years. For the clothes I’d spent hundreds of pounds getting into debt on, I have to grieve my wardrobe and other furniture I’d bought with money my Grandad had left behind for when I got married (we knew that would never happen so I got to spend mine early… ). I need to grieve them, remember them, feel the loss. They were not just “Things” – they were memories. Each and every item we own has some relevance to our journey.
The landlord told us all to make a list of what we had lost – that we would get a sum of money to replace it all. My list came to a very large sum considering all of the furniture in my large double room was my own. I never saw a penny.
I was going to take him to court – especially when he threw away anything I would’ve salvaged after telling me he would keep it for me “until you sort yourself out” – obviously being homeless in a mother and baby unit was a bit too long for him so without notice he threw it all away.
I gave up taking him to court when he started denying everything. I realised that it was just far too stressful and not good for the baby I was now heavily pregnant with. I decided to put it behind me and build my home gradually.
So – Should I “GET OVER IT”? Should I just forget it and never speak of it again? Maybe… BUT every year on this day I will remember. I will think of what I lost that day. Of what my friends who were in the house while I was out getting drunk went through and I will remember who I have become because of that night, what I have achieved since that night, and I am thankful that I’m still here – that I made the choice to see another year because even at our darkest moments – there is a tiny light at the end of the tunnel… and we have to keep on going.