All I need’s to be with you.

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.

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53 Comments

  1. Ah! Some shitty Internet thing prevented me from getting back here and posting before now! I am so sorry this has happened to you. You will survive this, I know you will. If there’s one thing you’ve learned how to do, it’s survive, even when things are bleak. Remember that you must endure. If you don’t endure, if you let yourself die, then things will never get better. Only surviving as best you can create any hope of improvement.

  2. I’m on benefits as well as it’s awful how they treat you like a criminal. I’m really sorry you’ve had such an awful time of things lately, on the plus your boyfriend sounds amazing. You have a lot of support on this blog, as well as offline with your boyfriend, there is ALWAYS a way forward, so please don’t forget that xx

    • <3

      It is awful. It's like going back to the workhouse days in some respects. There's little to no compassion from the government towards those claiming benefits, and this then spreads to general society. I hate it, I really do. As if anyone chooses to deal with those forms.

      On the plus side yes, my boyfriend is amazing. He really knows how to calm me down, even when I think I'm hiding the stress well. And the support here… you're all awesome. Totally. Thank you.

  3. Aw I’m so glad you found some refuge with your boyfriend- a good roast dinner must have helped :) I just read your other post about the letter and I really feel for you. I honestly don’t see how you can have anything to worry about. Have you got any advice from the CAB, they might be able to help you prepare just by letting you know what to expect. Sounds like you’re feeling better though and I think whoever reported you is a complete swine!

    • Oh, the roast dinner always helps ;) S makes amazing roast potatoes and onion gravy, he’s a star.

      I know I probably have nothing to worry about. I’m just scared. I haven’t spoken to the CAB no; I didn’t even think of it to be honest and it’s too late now. I suppose I’m just going to have to get through it and deal with the outcome if the worst happens. It’s not like I can control anything now.

      Thank you so much <3 I think they're a swine too! My mother and I suspect someone's claimed I'm living with S, and the officer is coming to my mother's house to check I actually live here. In which case, it'd be easy enough to spot my mark on the house! I've taken over it.

  4. I am glad you did post about your letter here, you’re doing a beautiful job processing what’s going on. It may neither look or feel beautiful, but it is. You’re sharing a fear and the feelings that go along with a frightening experience and you’re gaining strength with each step closer. I am so grateful folks here are supporting you with empathy, understanding, strength, compassion. :)

  5. looks like you found what i call me time, time spent in the arms of love, soemone to pay attention to you unselfishly, you needed that and i am hoping that you get lots more of that in the future, i am slightly jealous, because i feel i need some me time, bless you and enjoy the feeling that it gave you. hold it to you and let the warmth from it help and guide you through the next couple of days

  6. You’re handling this great! One day at a time! I’m so glad S was there for you this weekend! He is a godsend! It does my heart good when I see you’ve spent time with him! He’s your salvation! Try not to get too overworked with this guy coming tomorrow! Remember, you can appeal any decision he makes! I know, it’s a lot of bureaucratic crap to go through, but you can reapply. If you start feeling panicky just come back here and re read your comments! Strength comes in numbers!

  7. Sounds like the time with S was a very good antidote to the storm that’s been going on at home.

    I love the game Worms in all its forms, it’s just too fun – and it’s better than Lemmings, which is fun but nothing like destructive enough!

  8. Love from rainy Maine! I am so glad you were able to see S. I probably pick on your mother, but I have to say that she is trying to force you to feel guilty, so you’ll stay right under her thumb. As my mom would say, “It’s your fault that I have to (whatever,) because you are so (………..) That is codependence again, and until you convince her that she isn’t going to hang on to you by making you feel guilty. “See, I have to clean this messy house, and make it spotless, because you’re having a meeting about what you need. What about what I need?”

  9. It makes me smile knowing you have such an awesome boyfriend. I know what it’s like to worry about losing your benefits. Here in the States, Social Security does medical reviews on disability income recipients. I will have my next review in 2014. So I am safe for now. Hope you get some reassurance about your benefits soon!

  10. I want to like this one because you had a good ending to it. I’m working to catch up with my reading, I hope you got to keep your benefits. You’re lucky to have a nice boyfriend like that, they’re really hard to come by from what I hear.

    Dinner sounds yummy. I’m hoping to make something tasty tonight! I’ve got my fingers crossed anyways!

    I’m pretty jealous at the sounds of your book collection. I need and want to read more, just not making the time to do so. It saddens me, I need to find something new to read.

  11. I think one of the neatest things you did for all of us was to give voice to the stress of being ‘managed’ by governments.

    The stress of wondering whether or not it’s your turn to take the fall, how ‘sick’ you have to be to get what you need without completely losing your dignity… all these things erode the lives of those of us who need help to live a ‘quality’ life.

    I’m sorry you’re on the docket, for whatever reason listed. It’s foolishness to check your pockets for lint when they should be coming to your door and saying, “how can we help?”

    There’s so much wrong voiced in the your posts and all the comments it makes my heart ache.

    Sending righteous love,

    Meredith.

    • Thanks so much, Meredith <3 Your comments mean a lot, especially when you say I've done something for others. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just wasting my life away – spending my time on the computer or reading or watching TV – when I should be out there, making a difference in society. That's something ele with chronic illness… there's a lot of guilt.

      Sending so much love.

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