The Great Homecoming

This isn’t a happy story. Last month I drove north to Scotland to spend a week with friends and family.

I needed a break from work and life but with my PTSD, I still don’t feel safe enough to go abroad on my own. I thought a trip to Scotland would be good as its familiar but still a change of scenery. I thought that driving up and staying with friends and family would give me the flexibility to see more people and places without stressing about an itinerary.

I do not have a relationship with either of my parents and I intentionally kept the trip a secret from most of my family so I can peacefully visit my homeland without any kind of drama and bullshit.

How wrong was I.

My trip was so stressful that I cut it short and only stayed for 3 nights.

There are various reasons why it was bad but the most important thing that I need to write about how my experience with a particular friend – which was really confusing for me – didn’t end well.

We fell out.

I have been putting off writing about this because I have been trying to process what went wrong.

I think I am ready now, so here goes.

The original plan was to see my friend for his birthday and he wanted me to stay with him for the majority of my time in Scotland. We were gonna game, eat good food, drink and be merry. During this time I was going to squeeze in a few visits with other friends and spend some quality time with my favourite cousin who I absolutely adore.

In the days leading up to my visit, he was telling me that he was spending a fair amount of time redecorating and cleaning his house. He did some really lovely things like replace the bedding and he bought me slippers and a fleecy dressing gown to make sure I am comfortable staying with him.

He also mentioned he was replacing the mattress and I wondered if that was really necessary.

A few times I had to say to him that I thought he was overdoing it.

Anyways, I drive north and arrive at his house really late.

The first thing that struck me was how cold it was and he house smelt strongly of nicotine and something else that wasn’t good. Cigarette smoke on its own makes me feel really nauseous and I know he did his best to air the apartment but to me, the smell was unbearable.

The carpets were soaking wet from him cleaning them but still covered in dog hair.

I realised that despite my friends sweet gestures and hard work the house was really unclean and I didn’t feel great about having to stay there for majority of my trip.

I started feeling anxious but it was too late to do anything about it so the best thing I could do was get a good night sleep before thinking about how to approach the situation. I had no trouble sleeping that night because he made me an insanely strong alcoholic drink and it wasn’t long before I had to get into bed and was out like a light till morning.

To cut a long story short – I didn’t spend another night at his house and it wasn’t because I was brave enough to tell my friend that the smell and uncleanliness was unbearable to me.

We ended up falling out.

How it happened was weird.

So I am sitting in the pub waiting for him to join me. It is his birthday.

I should rewind and mention that my emotional state was incredibly fragile. The reason being I was anxious and heart broken. The day before I saw my cousin and she came out to me that she had a heroin addiction. I watched her chase the dragon and wept.

She said if she wasn’t so numb from the heroin she would cry too. I promised to her that I would spend as much time with her as possible whilst I was in Scotland.

Fast forward to sitting in the pub waiting for my friend.

I am in flight mode.

I am an emotional wreck from seeing my cousin.

As I sat there waiting I decided that I am not going to stay any longer and that I am going to travel back home today.

So now and I need to break the news to my friend and my cousin who both think they have a few more days to spend with me.

Still waiting for my friend so I text my cousin to say I’ll pop by to say goodbye before I drive home.

I wait for her response.

I think to myself she is going to be really disappointed because I promised we’d have a girly night in watching chic flicks and eating chocolate.

My friend turns up.

I don’t know what to say to him. I am glad that I don’t have to tell him that I can’t stay in his house because of the state of cleanliness.

I talk to him about my cousin.

My eyes are welling up. I am shaking.

I tell him that I’m going to see my cousin before I go home and that I am waiting for her to message me.

I can’t find any other words. I feel awkward.

I check my phone a few times.

He makes a few remarks which upset me. Most of them were stupid but when he pointed out that I am constantly on my phone I completely blew up at him and burst out into tears.

It was a mess. I couldn’t sit there crying in public. I felt like someone was strangling me.

I needed to get away from him.

All I wanted was to be back in my own home, in my pyjamas and cuddling my cat. Where I feel safe.

I ended up spending the night with my cousin before going home the next morning.

After I escaped my friend, I did a bit of shopping for my cousin and then we spent the rest of the evening having our girly night in like I promised we would. We stayed up till the early hours whilst she chased the dragon, chain smoked and opened up her heart to me about the last few years of her life.

The drive home was so long and I thought long and hard about the my fall out with my friend.

My friend was so kind and generous and tried his best for me but I didn’t feel safe around him and I didn’t enjoy spending time with him. I am sorry for blowing up at my friend but this is how things played out.

To wind up the story, the entire trip was a terrible idea.

Scotland itself is full of so much pain for me. Driving around my old haunts brought back a lot of bad memories and made me very sad.

It was supposed to be a safe and familiar trip back home but this time was very different from the other times I have visited. It was like I was forced to face every single fucking demon from my past. The many reasons I escaped.

On top of this all, if I was a little bit broken from re-living the traumatic memories of my distant past, seeing my cousin as a heroin addict finished the job of completely tearing me up.

Of course, me being me, I try to rationalise all of this and the best I can think of was that this was the first solo trip since the police took “him” away. The chronic anxiety, emotional fragility and having to re-live traumatic events of my distant past is definitely linked to the PTSD.

Anyways, that’s about as much as I can write about the matter.

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