No one knows your story like you do. You can tell people all about the trials and tribulations you have faced and overcome throughout your life, but no one else will truly understand the impact each and every moment has on the person you were then and the person you are today.
It has been almost two weeks now and these damned thoughts wont stop badgering me. Admittedly it has been a lonely couple of weeks, with only my dogs and my laptop to keep me company, which is always dangerous, coz my exuberant mind loves toying with me at every opportunity. It’s amazing how one pathetically basic question can regurgitate so many haunting memories. You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m even on about. Well two weeks ago I (finally) got my census form in the mail. I decided to do it on paper coz, well, I don’t like the internet much (no offence). It all seemed pretty straight forward and boring and within minutes I was staring down at the last page absolutely dumbfounded by one of the questions.
‘Where did you live five years ago?’
This question followed a similar one asking me where I lived 2 years ago – that was an easy question, because I knew I had moved into my home in 2012, only 12 days before my first medical assistance dog, Holdenpassed away. But five years ago? Fuck knows! I started thinking back and for the life of me I couldn’t remember and you never know with these government forms – you answer one question wrong and the next thing your tax is being withheld and you’re being investigated for possible fraud. Okay, maybe not that far – but hey, you can never be too careful can you?
So to try and get the facts right and simply because I myself was now curious as to the answer to that question, I dug out my old journals and started flicking back through the pages in an attempt to figure out what the hell I was doing with my life 1,825 days ago (yes I needed a calculator to work that out).
As I read through my journal entries, everything started flooding back to me – everything! And once my brain had started filling up with memories, they wouldn’t stop. Possibly one of the most frustrating things about living with Epilepsy is the memory loss, which is why I started keeping a journal in the first place and for the first time ever, I realised that sometimes memory loss wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Five years ago marked the downfall of my life; my ultimate low. I had been pushed out of society in all possible ways, completely alienated and dehumanised. I had risked everything in a desperate attempt to escape from an extremely toxic, abusive relationship and found myself living on the streets with only my medical assistance dog to keep me warm. I was battling with depression and crippling anxiety on a daily basis, to the point where I was too afraid to even try and venture out into society, or to access available services.
The motor in my car had died and I had no choice but to leave it behind as I had no income, I was riddled with debt that I could see no possible way to overcome and just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, I was sexually assaulted whilst recovering from an Epileptic attack at a friend’s house.
I was then receiving threats on my life in an attempt to scare me away from the witness stand and friends of my attacker were yelling at me in public and throwing things at me as they drove past. I had no life, no future and no escape. For me life was over.
I sold my meagre possessions and went in search of anything to help relieve my pain, even for just a moment. I was offered some pills from a so called friend after I shouted him a drink and I didn’t think twice; I didn’t even ask him what they were and I didn’t particularly care either. I couldn’t have sunk any lower if I’d tried.
After reading a few journal entries, I slammed the book closed and focused on the question glaring back at me from the census form and I let it sink in that it all happened only 5 years ago. I took a deep breath and patted Cruizer, my young assistance dog in training and took a long hard look around me. My warm, comfortable, inviting home, my published books sitting on a display shelf in front of me, my ‘new’ second-hand car in the driveway, all my paid bills filed away in the filing cabinet in my office, a bottle of water in front of me and an amazing boyfriend who makes me smile every day and knows that arms are for holding and not for throwing punches.
Today I am the happiest and most stable I have been in my life.
I looked back at the question: ‘Where did you live five years ago?’. With a shaking hand, I scrawled my answer in the box provided… ‘Homeless’.
Homeless yes - but there was so much more to it than that…