An Unhelpful Familiarity

Nobody can really understand why I’ve put myself back into an environment that is so unhelpful to me. The people in this environment fail to see the damage they do to me. They tear me apart and say it’s because they care, they take out their feelings on me as if I am oblivious to the impact it has on them, and forget I will have feelings about the situation myself (and that I am all too aware of the impact my health has on them without them driving that reality through my heart like a knife).

I was woken up today to go and have the flu vaccine at my local pharmacy. The local chemist took me into what can only be described as a converted broom cupboard, and stuck a needle in my arm. He went to ask me if I was ok with needles, but this guy has seen my prescription, so he actually laughed at his own question before explaining that he didn’t really need to ask that to someone who stuck a lot of them in themselves every day. He’s an awesome guy. Not only a gentleman but a gentle man. He reacted in the way that most health professionals do when they hear that I do biomedical science. Our conversation instantly veered off in this direction, about science and the future and options and stuff. It was actually really helpful to have this discussion with a pharmacist, as I’ve had this conversation with so, so many doctors (many of whom have done my degree too), but never really with anyone from a different field.

I’ve decided that I want to do a masters degree, but my mum told me immediately that that was far too expensive for me to do. After the masters, I’m still torn between journalism and research, but I think I may go down the PhD route… I say this, and I don’t even want to finish this degree. Anyway, the pharmacist was so helpful to talk to because he’d done a masters and a doctorate after his degree, and he told me to go for it. My mum then, to my surprise, told me to go for it. If this woman changed her mind any more often she’d basically have to be the British weather.

My mum and I went out with my grandparents to see the new home they will be moving into as soon as they can sell their house. On the way my mum got a phone call from a family friend (the one in his late 30s who calls me sick note and thinks its funny to joke about me not living until my next birthday or Christmas and stuff) asking if he could take my dog for a short walk. That was at about 12:30. It’s now past 9pm, and my dog isn’t back. He isn’t coming back, because instead of taking him for a walk, the family friend took him to work with him on a building site over an hour away, and then decided to keep him there. My dog. My dog that I can’t sleep without. My dog that gets severe hip pain after walking a few hundred metres so I know will be up all night crying with someone who doesn’t know how to help him or probably where he even hurts. My dog who is the only reason I am in this house. My furry rock. The thing holding me together. So when my mum told me casually that the family friend had called and said he wouldn’t return my dog until tomorrow, to my absolute horror, I cried. I just broke down. I felt a thing. And it hurt. And I wanted my dog.

He gives me the safety I need to sleep because he wakes me up when I become unwell. I was away for him for one night on Wednesday night and in that night I nearly died and had no idea until it was almost too late. He wakes me from my nightmares and holds me while I shake, sometimes not even remembering the dream but riding the adrenaline rush it induced. He is the only reason I came home. I hate this house. My mum is so… No understanding. She’s so stress about things that just don’t matter like how her kitchen looks, and she gets angry at me for not putting away all the washing up that my family leave on the side and other ridiculous stuff… Anyway. I was thinking of maybe going back to London on Sunday night, which means that this is the last night I would have with him, and I was robbed of that by someone who isn’t even part of this family. I hardly ever see my own dog any more, and he’s old and his health is failing him, so the time I get with him means so much to me. I really need him right now. I want to hold him and just never let him go whenever I am with him, and for the first time in his life he cries when there is a shut door between me and him. (Trigger warning, maybe? Probably. Ok just… Warning)

I went upstairs, and I sat in my dog’s bed (which is an old quilt folded up on the floor next to my bed), and I wanted to calm down. So I went to reach for him, because he calms me down… And there was no dog. So I cried even harder and I was just like WHAT ARE YOU DOING SELF??! And I couldn’t cope. Without my furry rock, there was nothing to cling to in the rising water of whatever was in my mind, and I drowned in it. I thought about hurting myself. I really, really just wanted to hurt. Kind of as a punishment for being so stupid and pathetic, but also because I was crying but had no idea why because the feeling wouldn’t fully happen, and being emotionally dead is so weird that I just wanted to feel something, just to remind myself that I was alive. And then my brain jumped the gun and it wanted to do more than hurt. It wanted to go. I didn’t just want to, I ached to. I physically ached. I have not wanted to die like that for a long, long time (except this time, there was no other emotion behind that feeling, usually there’s a whole jumble of thought and feeling fuelling it, and this time it was just there). I didn’t even want to be dead, I just couldn’t cope and death was a solution (I know it isn’t. There’s some rationality in there somewhere). And I know it’s so pathetic that a dog can hold me together, but in my current mental state he’s the only thing that can. I can’t understand how he helps me. I know I’m pathetic, I get that you probably want to slap me as you read this, and I’m sorry.

I went downstairs, and I sat on the sofa, and my mum went off on one. She shouted. She said I was being selfish, she said I was stupid, she said I was sulking. And then she shouted at me to get a grip and stormed out of the room. She returned a while later, ready to go out for dinner, and wanted a plan about university. I learned that I’m not ready for that yet, I’m trying to sort my mind out, I really am. She shouted at me. She told me I either had to go back or leave. My dad made this big deal of stomping off to get in the car showing he couldn’t possibly stand to listen to my response. I tried to say to my mum that I was on the verge of a mental breakdown (if not kinda in the middle of one) and she kind of sighed in a tone that gave off the same sort of vibe as an eye roll. She dismissed my statement, ignored it. She has no idea how on the edge I am right now, I don’t think anybody does. My mind is such a mess. I’m struggling. People think I’m ok, I’ve even had comments on here where people think I’m getting it together because I’ve put stuff out in words… I think my brain just hides behind that. I think these words are its distress call.

This house is toxic to me. It’s toxic. The antidote is my dog. And he’s not here.

“Can I just ask you something?” My Fellow Third Wheel said to me on the phone the other say. When I said yes, he continued, “Why are you there?” After some confusion, he clarified himself, “Why are you at uni? You really don’t sound like you want to be there and you’re really unhappy there, so why are you doing this to yourself?” And I could no longer find a justifiable answer to that question, so I removed myself from that situation.

A lot of people reading this will ask me why I stay in this house with my family when it usually makes me so unhappy. It’s familiar. And I know how to deal with familiarity. When I can feel, it destroys my mental state and makes me feel inadequate and hate myself, but right now I can’t feel. I know that being surrounded by my family really isn’t helpful right now. My mum doesn’t understand, and is not helpful at all. The man I call dad hates my guts. Honestly, I can’t even exist right in his eyes I’m sure. I often feel like I can do no right by him, so I no longer try to. My brother doesn’t notice whether I’m here or not because he’s so wrapped up in his technology and stuff. But I don’t know where home is. I don’t know where I belong, and I am so lost and so empty that my brain is just craving familiarity, no matter how destructive or hurtful it is. I know how to deal with that destruction. I know how to handle it. The feelings from this will roll like water from a duck’s back. And the best place to start again, to reassemble yourself or even start looking for pieces, is from the place you know better than anywhere else.

It’s a place I don’t need to be, but at the same time a place I do need to be. I think.

I don’t know.

I’m so dead inside.

And I didn’t know what to do without my dog. So I watched the rugby and then downed A LOT of beer, which should start to hit some time right about… Now. I know it wasn’t the thing to do, but I didn’t know where else to turn. It was another familiarity. Around this time last year, when everything went wrong, I couldn’t face reality unless I was drunk. I couldn’t even get out of bed without downing a cider first. I’m ashamed of it. And I know it’s wrong. But it… It was all there was tonight.

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6 thoughts on “An Unhelpful Familiarity

  1. Just thinking of you tonight – you’re not alone, even though you furry rock is away, he will be back tomorrow – hang on in there ’till then. I honestly don’t know what to say, just want to let you know that you’re heard and sympathy goes out to you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this. Sometimes the fact that people even cared enough to try to find words means more than what the words say. I don’t know why I ended up feeling the way I felt, I know I should feel ashamed and embarrassed about that and I guess it’s good I don’t have the ability to feel that right now because I don’t think it would help things. I’ve kind of settled back into the numbness now, but I keep going to stroke my dog or talk to him or give him a piece of whatever snack I was eating and… I just don’t want to go to sleep, so I probably won’t. But thank you for your words. They do mean a lot. Not quite sure things are crappy enough to warrant sympathy, but thanks for caring. Really. xx

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  2. I totally missed this post the first time through 😢 Love the pharmacist ❤️ 💉

    I’m actually glad to read that you know “home” is toxic but that it’s the devil you know. There’s a lot more to process, but it makes a lot more sense now. I, however, have no question why you are at university. Where else could you be that would teach you what you need to know? There’s too much to learn to stop now. 📚 📖

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not surprising, I’ve been throwing an awful lot of… awful posts out there lately as I try to figure things out. I kind of forget that people read this blog. And then awesome comments kind of make me glad that people do. Anyway, I can only apologise for the spam that has been my recent blog posts. Weirdly, I feel kind of fresh now… After I spent my entire night up writing an essay… And had no sleep… And… But yeah, uni gave back some of what it took I think, just now.

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  3. This post brought me to tears. The part where you said those reading you might want to slap you over getting in such a state over a dog. I feel so relatable to this post. I have suffered for a long time and my only constant was my dog. She died late last year and I have spiralled out of control ever since.
    I am furious at your mum for not recognising how much you need that dog! That she doesn’t seem to recognise even though you sound like you’re throwing her all the signals you need her to step up too.
    I also lost my way at uni. Funnily enough a friend asked me what I was doing at uni when it was such torture to me it actually gave me the courage to leave. I will say 8 years on part of me wishes I had kept going. It is a regret of mine.
    Stay strong xx

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    • Sorry my words made you cry, and genuinely heartbroken to hear about your dog. I honestly don’t know what I would do if my dog died. I thought about it this morning and burst into tears. Today is his eleventh birthday and our previous dog died a couple of weeks before his eleventh birthday (I was 9. I cried myself to sleep every night for a year and every day prayed for five more minutes with him just to say goodbye) So eleven is a big age for a dog in this house, and my dog really is my entire world right now.

      My mum doesn’t understand how an animal that can’t talk or understand can mean so much to me, but words are so shallow and he picks up on body language and subtly signs that people overlook. He makes me feel needed and wanted and loved, and a reason to function for something other than myself. He looks at me like the sun shines out of my butt and he really helps me with my PTSD and stuff. I honestly wouldn’t be alive without that dog to hold on to, and a lot of people think that’s absurd so thank you so much for understanding.

      This is reassuring to hear I guess. In eight years time I probably would regret leaving, but I’m going through so much at the minute and I’m falling out of love with my degree (I’d like to go back in time and pick immunology instead, if there’s even a degree in that). Leaving isn’t an option, my parents wouldn’t let me.

      Thank you so much for leaving this comment. It was helpful, thoughtful, and it means a lot that you took the time to write it

      Liked by 1 person

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