Brother and Sister

Late last year, Z told me of a friend who was looking for a home for his two cats. Both a year old, brother and sister, one ginger and white, one black and white. S and I had been considering getting a cat for a while but always put it off due to my concern that the physical issues would make caring for them difficult while S is at work all day; I’ve found looking after myself hard and have had to forgo showers and basic self-care at times due to the stiffness and pain.

However, I admit to falling in love. I grew up with cats always in my life and since Molly died of kidney cancer years ago I’ve been reluctant to go through that pain again. I’ve always known that a cat is what’s missing, though. Over the next few days S and I weighed up the pros and cons and came to a decision – that the positives would outweigh the negatives and I had plenty of support if I found caring for them difficult.  We decided to go for it.

A week before Christmas, Stimpy and Magrat came to live with us.

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I am in love; two cats have never been so adored. Aside from a major anxiety freakout when Stimpy went missing for three days, the negatives have never materialised – in fact, caring for them has made a huge difference to both my mental health and my mobility. Agoraphobia is a lot easier to deal with when you have two silly creatures trotting after you, and I no longer feel lonely during the day. Feeding them forces me out of bed and onto my feet, and even on my worse days I have very little choice; which makes a huge difference to how I deal with the hours stretching in front of me.

In such a short space of time, they have turned my world around and shown me that giving up simply isn’t an option. I can no longer lie in bed all day feeling sorry for myself, and that can only ever be a good thing.

Lighthouses

Lighthouses, they don’t bring you to me,
my torch burned out and lights always fade,
I’ve told this story, I’ve walked this line,
this path of betrayal which we both made.

My touch, does it mean little to you now?
I stand on the sidelines, too afraid to speak.
Always the one who stood in the background,
you’re seeing strangers, but do you ever see me?

A new world, one I can’t bear,
cast out to sea with no strength to swim,
not waving, not drowning, just watching the lighthouses,
throwing their lights on everywhere we’ve been.

Beacons, they never clear your path,
and too many obstacles for me to remove,
a tiny flame long since snuffed out,
the control of strangers with their arms around you.

I draw maps, but they just lead you astray,
who’d ever think you’d be the one who would leave?
So strong, so solid, a thing of perfection,
something of envy, at least that’s what I believed.

Lighthouses, they can’t ever bring you home,
sex destroys everything and love always lies,
strangers surround you and I crash with the waves,
you’ll never come to me first; I’ll never shine.

(c)

Love Story

Faith
was a myth I never quite
believed.

Trust
was a lie, a few
empty words.

Love
was a story I wrote
for you,
and you took it away
so easily.

I turn the pages
but you changed the ending.

(c)

When I met O, I had such hopes and dreams for us; just as I had for every other past relationship. He was to be my saviour, a knight on shining armor to rescue me from every mistake I ever made and every man who ever made me feel worthless. At the time I believed that nobody – not a single other person in the whole world – felt as much for somebody as I did for O. I adored him. Clung to him like a limpet. Demanded his attention 24/7; at the time, I honestly believed I was doing the right thing. I thought he appreciated knowing just how special he was to me.

And for a long time, we wrote a love story together. O was just as attentive and clingy; demanding to know who was texting me or why I’d not answered my phone. We were perfectly destructive for each other, but the constant friction created a passion which kept us coming back to each other, time and time again. 

Then it all changed. He broke free of the bonds we’d created and walked his own path. I thought I had the ending all worked out, but he added his own epilogue. 

Unspoken

Sitting together and so far apart,
a thousand words unsaid and truths unspoken,
I never felt more alone, more out of place,
as I do tonight,
sitting by your side.

.
A bottle in my hand and a cigarette in yours,
I open my mouth but no words will form,
it all seems so trivial when I feel this broken,
when you’re sitting so close to me,
yet not here at all.

(c)

Writing about 2008 is more difficult than I ever imagined. On one hand, I almost feel uncomfortable writing about my past relationships now that I’ve been with S for eighteen months; I know he probably wouldn’t mind, but it must be weird for him to know I’m writing about my exes. On the other hand, it’s only now that I can see just how low I sunk; I knew I was falling apart but what I didn’t realise is that I’d totally cracked long before it got to this point. I can see that now. It’s difficult to think about. I acted in ways I’m not proud of and damaged my body god knows how much with handfuls of amitriptyline, tramadol, diazepam, co-codamol, small antidepressant overdoses to get me through the night in a dazed drug-fuelled stupor instead of having to deal with the reality of everything in my life going incredibly wrong. 

O and I… we stopped speaking one day. Conversation turned to bitter arguments and shouting matches. Slammed doors and a smashed laptop. Midnight chases down the street; it was always me doing the running. I just couldn’t face any of it. 

I remember sitting on his swivel office chair, gulping from a bottle of cheap peach schnapps and watching him smoke cigarette after cigarette, sitting on his bed and brooding. He threw me out that night. 

Of course, we got back together. We did a lot of getting back together. 

Under constellations

Constellations, satellites,
once again I am alone tonight,
a sleepless wish, a dreamless prayer
needing nothing more than for you to be there.
A broken heart, a forgotten vow,
the realisation I dont have you now,
I leave the cold tears on my face,
because I know I’m alone in my disgrace.

Cigarettes burn, ashes fall,
tonight I feel impossibly small,
my limits are pushed and my hands aren’t my own,
under constellations, entirely alone.
A pen in my hand, blue ink on my fingers,
I try to push it away but this image of you lingers,
I can still feel your body, I can still taste your breath,
I can hear your voice telling me how you loved me to death.

But the satellites no longer guide me home
I dont hear your voice on the telephone,
just a memory
of your kiss,
your touch,
perhaps…
just maybe…
I loved you too much.

(c) 2008.

Not one of my favourites at all, but this poem was written – like others in 2008 – during a time when I was falling apart entirely. I don’t know how much of my relationship failings to blame on BPD, and how much is just the result of me being entirely incompetent. I have always loved too much. Too strongly. I love with an iron grip; twisting my way around a person entirely so they can never escape. Each boyfriend has been The One, without a doubt. I’ve loved them entirely, with every ounce of my body and soul. Handed over money to fund their habits, because giving gifts means receiving more love. 

Shrugged off affairs and one night stands. Forgiven each and every man who cheated on me. Accepted it, so long as he didn’t ever leave me. It hurt – oh, it hurt like hell – but I simply couldn’t stand to lose somebody so close to me. Even if it meant sharing them. 

I needed. I wanted. I grasped. There’s a song by James called Tomorrow, which has lyrics which sum it up perfectly:

“Now your grip’s too strong, you can’t catch love with a net or a gun”

I’ve attempted to catch love using any means possible. Self-harm. Starvation. Begging. Tearing chunks of hair out as proof of my distress. Clinging to his arm even as he walks out of the door. Refusing to leave. Refusing to move. Refusing to get out of bed. Refusing to accept it’s over. 

I’ve destroyed a lot of lives.

No alarms and no surprises

* Trigger warning: contains talk of calorie amounts and eating disorders. 

I’m not entirely sure what happened this weekend. Something inside me doesn’t want to write about it, but I’m aware that I rarely talk about my weekends; by the time I get home from S’s house I’m exhausted and it sort of slips away until it feels too late to describe the days.

I’m aware that while I’m writing so much, I’m neglecting other blogs, and that makes me feel guilty. It’s very much all about give and take for me, and knowing I’m taking all this support and not giving anything back… it’s uncomfortable for me. I apologise; things have become a little difficult and writing feels like my only outlet.

Food. Food is an issue. Today I ate a whole low fat banana loaf and some vegetarian sausages and beans on wholemeal toast. Around 1000 calories. Yesterday… maybe around the same; I didn’t count. The past week… around 300-400 calories a day. Sugar-free squash and strong coffee and taking anti-inflammatories on an empty stomach. By Friday I was flaring heavily and dizzy from lack of food. A good dizzy. Confirmation that I’ve restricted enough calories. My stomach was rolling and, despite being almost empty, cramping like crazy. I spent most of Friday afternoon on the toilet.

So really, I do know what happened. The flare combined with restricting; not forgetting regular joints and a bit of alcohol… it all brought me down. S doesn’t have much money right now – it’s getting close to payday – so I packed two big bags of food from the cupboards and fridge. I’d bought a cherry pie and ice cream, thinking that we could snuggle up together in front of a film and I’d feel safe enough to eat. I baked the pie; baked it at 11pm and we watched Andy Kaufman’s standup on Youtube. I couldn’t eat it. I tried; I really did. I wanted to. However much I attempted to swallow though, the pie just became bigger and bigger in my mouth. It tasted of nothing. All I saw in the bright red sauce and cherries was calorie upon calorie. I ate perhaps three small spoonfuls, then gave up. I’d only had a tiny slice. A 16th of the pie, S said.

I tried chocolate Philadelphia on walnut bread. Two small slices later, I felt horribly full and self-aware. Coffee with almond milk became a big no-no once I started thinking, “nuts have fat in…”. I told S that I was feeling ill and that’s why I wasn’t eating. It wasn’t exactly a lie; I felt downright bloody awful.

Saturday, and the weather was lovely. I spend it indoors, either sleeping or reading. I couldn’t face daylight. Cooked pasta and again, couldn’t eat it. S said it was lovely – I’d cheated and used ready-made sauce, but had chopped up some onions and garlic to add to it – but I just couldn’t taste anything. It was like eating cardboard.

I slept a lot, sweating buckets all over S’s mattress. Occasionally he’d wake me with a kiss or a nuzzle, and give me a cuddle. For the first time, well, since we met really, we didn’t have sex once on Saturday or Sunday. I just couldn’t feel anything. Couldn’t find the energy. S didn’t mention it, which is a comfort. Since O left, I worry that the man I love will walk away because I can’t always manage to perform. S… it just didn’t seem to be an issue with him. I’m very lucky; I know that.

He treated me like a princess. Fluffed my pillows and tucked me in with a kiss on the forehead. Didn’t tease me about my hairy, unshaven legs. Helped me over the back step when we went out for a smoke. Didn’t pressure me to go to a party we were both invited to, and came back in the time he said he would, giving me a big kiss and telling me about how much I’d have hated to be there anyway.

We talked a lot about the new flat. The bathroom’s been done; there’s a large corner shower apparently, and they’re doing the kitchen now. We’re getting an oven, fridge/freezer and washing machine. New cream deep-pile carpets. S has a huge leather sofa with a chaise longue. A chaise longue! We’re going to get a Rasperry Pi and set it up as a server for all our music, and have Age Of Empires battles.

We’ll be moving in soon. Around two or three weeks from now.

I’m hoping a lot will change once S and live together. He grounds me. Keeps me balanced.

I came back home on Sunday night, shuffling into a taxi and clinging onto my new phone like crazy so I could have some connection to S. My mobile broke a while ago – the camera stopped working and then the touch screen – and on Thursday I spilled a full cup of coffee on it, destroying the poor thing entirely. I spilled a lot of coffee that day. I’ve been knocking drinks over like crazy for a couple of weeks now.

An acquaintance (I’d say friend, but you know the issues I have with that word) offered me a Samsung Ch@t for free, and dropped it off at S’s house on Friday night. I can’t help but mistrust this person, like I do pretty much everyone else, but it was a kind thing to do. I hate the name of the thing – Ch@t, for god’s sake – but it’s a cool little thing and has a QWERTY keyboard, meaning I can send texts comfortably again. Touch screens made my fingers ache.

Didn’t sleep on Sunday night. I missed S too much. When I’m feeling like this – down, but not depressed – all I want is to cuddle up next to him and feel his arm around me. When we sleep, he wraps his whole body around me sometimes. We’re always touching in some way, and we usually wake up holding hands. It sounds unreal, and part of me is still convinced it is. I just wish I could get my brain in order; I can see a future with this guy.

And I don’t think that’s the BPD talking.

Hole

Puppet strings are bearing down on me
Trying to control the enemy inside me
Choking me
Destroying me.

There’s a hole in my soul
Which I filled with everything
but love.

(c) 2001

I lost my virginity in 2001. I was fifteen and my boyfriend – soon to be fiancé – was eight years older. He lived in a council-owned property with a nerdy Lloyd Grossman lookalike, at the end of a long, narrow street in Liverpool. Over time, he would move to my hometown to be closer to me. We were together for a couple of years, and there’s a reason why I have rarely mentioned him; simply because the thought of his face gives me panic attacks. 

During that time I was still struggling with anorexia. I’d gained a little weight, but my BMI was still too low. However, I’d walked away from the mental health system (as I’ve done many times) because all they could offer were pills and force-feeding. I was vulnerable – much younger than my fifteen years both physically and emotionally – and when a man eight years my senior paid attention to me… I jumped straight in. Didn’t give a damn about consequences or morals. I jumped in feet first and, by the time the relationship ended a couple of years later, I’d grown up immensely. I knew what it was like to be hit by a man. To be sworn at and locked in his flat. When he chased me down the road, hurling a full can of Coke at my head and pulling my hair until I hit the ground… I stayed. I stayed because I was desperate to be loved. 

We ended with his boot in my belly and a footprint on my face. Police and concerned strangers. My mobile smashed, shattered across the road. Black eyes and swollen fingers. My mother and auntie taking me to the police station to give a statement. And, finally, an injunction. A letter stating he couldn’t come within ten feet of me or contact me in any way. 

Still. He inspired poetry. 

I’ll write about him one day.

 

Posted for dVerse Poets Pub:

D’verse Poets Pub is a place for poets and writers to gather to celebrate poetry. We are many voices, but one song. Our goal is to celebrate; poets, verse & the difference it can make in the world. To discover poetry’s many facets and revel in it’s beauty, even when ugly at times.

Love.

For all that has happened in my life, I have always hung on to the idea of love. Perhaps not the feeling – I’ve cradled a lot of bitterness over the years – but I’ve never allowed myself to give up on romantic love existing somewhere. I’ve watched couple after couple break up, seen the horrible ways some of my generation treat each other, and had my heart broken constantly since I was fourteen by boys who cheat and men who use cruel words and fists to express their opinions. I’ve stumbled from relationship to relationship, trailing grief and bad decisions like a cross across my back, determined to find somebody who understands me despite my ability to ruin everything no matter what I try.

I’ve been jealous and angry. Although I can never forgive O for cheating on me – and getting her pregnant when we were still sleeping together, while I was still wearing the engagement ring – I know I caused a lot of the grief between us. I’ve never been brilliant at coping in relationships, and I jumped in far too early, determined to cling to something safe. Thing is, I never chose the safe options, and it was easy to let everything snowball once I decided I was always going to be somebody who chose the damaged ones because I was so damaged myself.

Then S came along. And now I’m sitting here, hours after starting this post, finding it impossible to put into words just how happy he makes me. I can’t possibly describe how wonderfully the weekend went, or how happy I am that – despite everything else – I have somebody like him.

I wanted to write about love, and how it’s shaped me. But I’ll just leave it here:

S is the best thing to ever happen to me, and he’s the reason why I want to get better. Not for him, but because I know harming myself in any way is something I just can’t put him through, and in his own gentle way, he’s taught me that life doesn’t have to be about rolling from one failure to another. I now know that how I feel extends beyond myself, and I can’t go around messing up other’s lives just because something is wrong in my head and needs fixing.

I love him. I adore him. If I ever lost him, I don’t know what I’d do.

 

I hope you’re feeling happy now, I see you feel no pain at all.

We drank vodka and orange juice, beer, cider and rum and coke. Played Boggle online, keeping a tally of scores. Sat in the garden – both rain and shine – and smoked while getting sunburned one day and sheltering from the torrent by squeezing into the spider-infested shed the next. Ate pizza, kebabs, garlic mushrooms, toast, a roast dinner, chocolate mousse, biscuits and pack upon pack of Wotsits. We sat by the lake and stuffed our faces with chips, watching a swan paddling away near a stack of beer barrels and an old paddle-boat which is long past its prime but still takes tourists out on the lake in the summer; rust and all.

We lay in bed for hours. Napped when we felt like it, and stayed up late. Ventured out to buy large mochas and sat for hours, watching the world go by. Bought blackcurrant beer and German ale, and laughed at the weird and wonderful passing our little spot in the street. Had mind-blowing, sweaty sex, over and over. Watched Trailer Park Boys on YouTube and ordered takeaways so we wouldn’t have to go shopping. Played 8-ball with a couple of friends and smoked a not-so-sneaky joint outside the pub. Got drunk and stoned and laughed at nothing, for days on end.

Now, it’s Wednesday morning – almost 5am – and I’m sitting on my bed, wide-awake, cannabis smoke floating in the air and through the detritus which covers my bedroom. I don’t know what happened; a miniature hurricane, I can only assume. Pill packets and incense sticks are cluttering up my desk, along with bottles of nail varnish remover, jewellery holders, and empty tobacco packets. The coffee I made is strong and bitter, with grounds still floating on top, and my mouth is dry from all the smoke. I haven’t slept, and I have a doctor’s appointment at 9:30.

After such an amazing, hedonistic weekend… I should be happy. I am, really. I’m just… eh. Angry, I suppose.

I’ve occasionally mentioned having tendonitis. Acute Achilles tendonitis, to be exact. I’ve had it for over a year. There was no real obvious cause; the sole of my foot started aching every time I moved and, in a worryingly short space of time, I lost the ability to flex my foot up or down. I stuck it out for months, deciding it was yet another frustrating part of fibromyalgia, until the pain became so unbearable – like knives being driven into the back of my ankle – and I woke up one morning unable to hold any weight on my left foot. It was just dead; tingling and unresponsive with sharp ribbons of pain snaking over the whole of my lower leg. Naturally, I was a bit concerned and, considering I couldn’t walk and felt a weird combination of numbness and excruciating pain – along with balloon-like swelling of my foot and ankle – I went to A&E.

Long story short, I was given some painkillers and told to go home and rest. I wasn’t even seen by a doctor. I cried, but it got me nowhere. After going to my GP to complain that nothing was done to help the obvious damage, I was referred to a podiatrist/physiotherapist. He manipulated my foot, gave me insoles to force the tendon into place, and covered my ankle in ice until it burned. Whatever he did, the swelling refused to go down and so he referred me onto the biomechanics clinic to see a rheumatologist who specialises in movement.

Of course, they wrote to me and informed me that my appointment was to be moved to September.

That’s not why I’m angry. I’m angry because, after over a year, I’m still in pain. It’s yet another ridiculous sensation to deal with, and I’m sick of being pushed from pillar to post when nothing really seems to achieve anything. I’ve had an ultrasound scan, but still – over a month later – don’t know the results.

For the past four days, I’ve been unable to walk without standing on tip-toe on my left foot, because the tendon is so damn tight I can’t move it without pain. Tooth-gritting, wincing, tears-in-the-eyes pain. S has been his usual amazing self – fetching cups of coffee for me and helping me get over the back door step – but now that I’ve come back to my mother’s after an extended weekend (from Thursday to last night; S took some time off work) I’m quickly sinking into the old frustrations and regrets about not pushing harder for treatment. I’m such a mouse sometimes. I don’t want to tell anybody what to do.

That has to change today. Originally, I was seeing my doctor for a swollen finger; hardly the medical drama of the century, but a very painful inconvenience, and I figured I could get the whole blood pressure/side-effects/general emotional well-being stuff out of the way for another month or so. However, the red skin and suspicious ridged nail will have to take a backseat, because I’m determined to get something done about this damn foot today.

If I have to cry, I think I will. I rarely cry in front of doctors – I already feel inferior to them – but quite honestly… I just want this pain to stop. I have enough to deal with already, and I just need some respite. Some time to enjoy the effects of Lyrica – which doesn’t work on tendon pain or swelling – and try to start living my life again. Instead, this fucking tendon has taken over my life.

Over the weekend, the photograph of myself I posted has been weighing on my mind. Did I do the right thing? Am I utterly off my head to think that putting a photograph on such a personal blog is a good idea? More than once, I’ve thought about removing it; just deleting the post and forgetting it ever happened. However, doing that would also mean I’d lose all the comments which, although hard to read without wanting to run away, really made me feel secure, and my cold old heart was pretty damn warmed by knowing there are people reading this who don’t think I’m disgusting.

Also… nothing is ever lost on the internet. It’s there forever now.

So I just need to suck it up and accept that my anonymity was ruined a while ago, and it’s not like I’m a celebrity. The chance of somebody I know finding this blog on their own is still lower than low, and if they did find it… well, maybe they shouldn’t be so nosy. Perhaps they’d learn something.

I should really write a list for my GP. Each time I see him, I forget something vital. I only refuse to do it because my mother insists I write a bullet-point list – typed and printed – for every appointment; a bit of teenage rebellion which I never quite grew out of. This time… I haven’t slept. I haven’t drunk nearly enough coffee, and the weed is stronger than usual. Great for pain; not so great for thinking clearly.

If I throw myself on the floor and have a tantrum, do you think it’d achieve anything? I feel like it’s about time to direct my anger elsewhere than at myself.

 

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.