If I had written this post last week it would have been bleak. It would have detailed my feelings of failure and desperation on the day that I had to walk from a crowded, hot waiting room to sit behind a glass safety screen that reflected my pained expression back to me as I said ‘we have no where to live‘.
That day I officially applied for housing with homeless status because our home has gone, our lives lay half forgotten in storage and I can’t make a home for my husband and my baby and it’s all my fault. The feeling of sadness and failure and guilt that circled around me like a fog, thick and choking, is something that I won’t forget in a hurry; I’ve let everyone down, made everyone’s lives hard and downright miserable but I’ve also made things so much worse. The husband couldn’t work because I wouldn’t let him. Because without him I would not have coped. No way. So when our landlord put our house up for sale and when it sold within days of being on the market and when we were asked to leave we had no where to go and no money to go there. No savings, no money for a deposit, nothing.
Signing a form after form after form declaring us homeless and broke and broken cut deeper than anything ever has. And I’m covered in scars.
A week ago, if I had written this then, I would be telling you about the flat that we went to see. The flat that sat behind the bolted door at the top of three steep concrete flights of stairs in a musty stairwell. The flat that was tiny and provided no way of leaving alone with a toddler and a buggy and my mind all at once. We walked around the entire space in thirty seconds and all I could feel was that it would be awful, like caging a beautiful bird (Beans) in a rusted cage in a room with no light and no breeze and no life. No.
We were put under pressure. We were told that we had no other options, that we had to live there. Somehow I ignored the smiles of those stood around us, not sure whether they were curling their lips at the delight of a bit of drama or because if we said no it would be theirs and I found an argument from deep inside my belly and I fought and I said something about standard of living and rights of children and we were given another seven days.
Seven days and six nights to resign ourselves to the fact that there was only one other property that we could even think about, the only one that would be accessible with a pushchair and a child and me. 168 hours to come to terms with not having choices and having to live in an area that we wouldn’t have dreamt of on a road that we would ordinarily avoid.
If I had written this a day or two ago I would have told you how the shards of glass, each one glinting in the bright sunlight, crunched and splintered under my feet as I made my way towards the front door. I would have told you that we viewed the property without Beans after feeling threatened and vulnerable the last time. I would have tried to paint a picture of the sights and the smell and the destruction that we were greeted by when the (half kicked through) front door slowly eased open and my eyes adjusted to what was waiting.
I would have shown you things like this
and I would have perhaps asked why and how and what makes things this way. Not just for us but for anyone. Why? How? What? Who would live like that and just how?
I would have recounted how, as we stood in what once could have been a kitchen in the gloomy light that only boarded up windows can offer, the tiny baby girl, no more than a few months old and cradled in her mothers arms lifted her bight blue eyes to look at me before spreading her lips into a gummy grin. She stared at me and I stared back and a council official was talking about repairs and pipe work and central heating and all I could think was if we say yes to this house then this baby might not have a home either. Her or us? How does someone deal with that while round new eyes hold you in their gaze, questioning. Pleading? Understanding?
But it’s not last week and it’s not a few days ago and I need to do this. So rather than telling myself over and over that this is all my fault I need to tell myself over and over and over that I really do believe that everything happens for a reason and that maybe, just maybe, we can make this ok.
Rather than thinking about the stark reality
it’s the hidden gems and interesting secrets that are where the fun is waiting to be found.
It’s making things alright and happy and safe and normal, no matter what. Is finding ‘nothing special’ furniture in second hand shops and seeing their beauty and helping them to show it again.
It’s putting down roots and settling and being. No matter how many times I feel like I’ve tried to do that already and no matter how sad or guilty or responsible I feel. None of that is what matters and every single thought clouds my brain and brings back the mist.
This is our life and this will be our home and in it we will love and be loved and laugh and cry and grow and play.
And, I hope, get better.