I admit, the letter has been playing on my mind more often than I’d like it to. I promised myself I wouldn’t allow panic to creep in, and so far I’ve managed to hold it back quite well, but this morning I woke at 6am after a dream about O – my fifth in a row – and the silence in the house has made room for me to think. I hate thinking. Thinking nearly always leads to bad things.
I nearly didn’t post anything about the fraud officer visiting on Tuesday; I questioned if perhaps the whole privacy breach and subsequent passing around of my blog link could have something to do with the visit, and if so… should I speak about it on here? Could I inadvertently make things worse for myself? Then I realised that nothing I could say could change everything I’ve written in the past; I’ve documented the appointments and the pain and the medications. I’ve been brutally honest. I’ve expressed my hatred of claiming benefits. I’ve spoken about how I’ve tried to work, but have always had to leave voluntary jobs because of illness. So my blog isn’t exactly a hotbead of fraudulant activity.
Two things saved me from damaging myself this weekend. I wasn’t being dramatic in my last post; as I wrote, I was filled with sickness from panicking; that pre-panic attack bile rising into my throat and choking everything I try to say. As I typed, I was considering how easy it would be to dismantle a Venus Spa razor (in hindsight, it would have been impossible) and just how much food I could shovel into myself before I achieved carbohydrate calm. I just typed, and let it flow, and let the fear and anger out. Usually I censor myself a little – going back to correct mis-spellings and perhaps removing a few hundred swear words – but this time, I just wanted some sort of outlet. Some safety net which wasn’t harmful to me.
It didn’t work, but you know what did? The lovely, supportive comments which poured in. From those I’ve chatted with before, and from total strangers to my blog. Not a single cruel or judgemental thing was said. The advice calmed me. The kind words… well, I cried. I cried buckets. Even though I don’t know any of you, you still pulled around me and helped when I needed it. I don’t think replying to all the comments will achieve much – I’m trying to let it all go now and forget until tomorrow – but I do want to say, from the very bottom of my heart… thank you. When real life let me down, a group of almost-strangers (and total strangers) on the internet helped. Considering I’ve seen little kindness online… it means a lot. I hope everyone who commented knows that, and knows they helped.
The second thing to save me was S. On Saturday, my mother decided that she had to clean and tidy every inch of our house for the fraud officer. This is nothing new; I accept our house is a little… eccentric, perhaps. Books piled in corners. Books spilling off shelves. Books tied in bundles, waiting to go to charity. Books everywhere. However, I don’t see how tidying will help anything. Surely it’d give an unrealistic view of what our real lives are like? After all, the house is usually an ungodly mess. It’s not like we’re stockpiling dodgy porn or laundering money; we read a lot of books, and books take up space. It’s hardly a crime to love reading.
As a result, she expected me to help. Of course; I live here too. I did, however, feel slightly resentful that she’s the one freaking out willingly, when the appointment is concerning my benefits. I’m doing my best to stay calm, but watching her rush around, pulling chairs out and panicking over dirty dishes… it doesn’t help. I feel guilty. It’s my fault everything is such a mess; I just can’t cope with the housework. I try – things have slipped since I’ve had ‘flu, but I do my best to keep my bedroom tidy and I sometimes offer to clean the bathroom – but I just can’t do it. The piles of books are heavy, and as soon as they’re cleared away, we get them out again anyway. Washing the dishes inevitably ends up in my mother informing me that I “can’t wash up properly” and she re-does the whole thing, so I gave up trying years ago.
I tidied away my underwear and informed my mother that, actually, I would really like to visit S because I hadn’t seen him at all last weekend and we hardly spent any real time together at Z’s party. Earlier, she’d said I needed to help her get the house sorted – an impossible task – so I’d lost all hope of seeing S until next weekend, but she surprised me by saying it was okay so long as I was back early on Sunday. I bit my tongue at the urge to shout, “I’M TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD!” and accepted the rare gift.
S, as always, was wonderful. He knows I adore his white and lilac shirt, and he wore it for me. Gave me a big kiss – despite the coldsore – and a hug, and showed me all the ingredients he’d bought to cook me a roast dinner. I nearly cried at the kindness of it all. We sat in the garden and smoked while I told him my fears; that I’d lose my benefits – my only source of income – and would end up homeless, or I’ll be taken off incapacity and/or lose the high care component. That I’ll be forced to attend a jobcentre course to shoehorn me back into work. I’ve never worked; I can’t go back to something I never did, and what happens if an appointment with a specialist falls smack bang in the middle of the course? If you miss a day, you get all money stripped from you. I told him all this and tried not to cry – I’ve only cried in front of S twice: once when we were watching fireworks and they reminded me of my stepdad, and once when I was just tired and grumpy and needed a hug and some sympathy from somebody who wouldn’t judge me. I never set out to hide tears from S… I just don’t think they’d help when he’s so reliable with giving good advice and support.
As promised, S cooked me a roast. He’d bought me cheese and leek sausages, and made extra potatoes because I haven’t been eating properly for a couple of weeks. As he cooked, (I peeled the potatoes and crushed the garlic) we talked about the flat. The builders have started; the kitchen and bathroom need refitting, and after that it’ll need redecorating, so the plan is to move in around a month to two months. I can cope with that. At least now I have a realistic time frame to tell the benefits office I’ll be moving out of my mother’s house. I just hope it all works out. So much has gone wrong for me, and I’m almost scared to believe that perhaps – just maybe – something I long for will come true.
We spent the weekend playing Boggle and Worms: Armageddon. Bought a takeaway and watched 15 Storeys High on Sunday night. S kissed and held me and constantly made me pinch myself; how did I – a high-school dropout from a shitty seaside town – end up with such a perfect boyfriend?
We sat together on the field near his house – him lying on the ground with my cardigan under his head, me sitting up with my legs tucked around his – and I felt safe again.
I wish S was here now.