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.

Insomnia

I’ve mentioned before about how I struggle to sleep without self-medicating, (drugs, alcohol, etc) a direct result of PTSD.

As of February this year I started my recovery journey as a survivor of domestic abuse.

I have an ADHD diagnosis as well as Autism, anxiety (full blown panic attacks).

My childhood and upbringing was toxic, and oppressive to say the least.

With all this said, you can imagine that I am working so hard just to keep my head above water. I’m barely functioning with the cards I was dealt.

So of course, any kind of traumatic event is more than just “destabilising” for me. It doesn’t take much for something to completely derail me.

If I’m constantly anxious then I’m getting increasingly fatigued but with my cortisol levels through the roof, I’m wired as fuck but running on empty.

I want to try and sleep without drugging myself or drinking alcohol but my brain won’t shut up.

Im not getting a good nights sleep, which is affecting my ADHD which means my thoughts are completely disjointed which is causing me to panic even more.

Every night I’m battling the urge to drink or drug myself to sleep.

Some nights I win and some nights I lose.

If I win I will eventually fall asleep and get a few hours in. I feel like shit but I’m one step closer to being less dependent on drink or drugs.

On the nights that I lose I get a solid 8 hour sleep. On one hand I hate myself for being weak but I find that I focus really well at work – which makes me feel calmer…

Until it’s time to go to sleep again and the battle starts all over again.

So last night I won – about 3/4 hours sleep I think – but I must have looked so rough for a colleague to point out to me that I look tired.

Fuck I felt such a pang in my heart when they said that.

Not much else to say on this other than, tonight, I lose.

The Minister

This is not a story about god or religion.

I want to write about my old boss, a beautiful human being and my first ever mentor.

This man is a Minister. His church and his congregation saved my life.

I’ll never forget the first day I met him, the day of my job interview. Tragically, my interview was on the day after my aunties funeral.

(She took her own life)

I was in pieces that day and by some miracle I got the job. I was relieved because I was so broke and needed to find a part time job to fit around university.

I was desperate to make enough money and save up for a deposit so I can move out of my grandmothers house.

The mad house, as I used to call it.

Little did I know at the time – just how much of a blessing this was. A few months into the job I was suddenly made homeless because I was being threatened with violence.

A couple of my cousins were after my blood.

It all started one night at my cousins house. She got deliriously drunk and tried to strangle her 8 year old son. I was stone cold sober and was able to stop her.

We managed to escape from the back door of her house. My cousin then called the police and told them I had abducted her child.

The police found us standing in the street. It was pissing it down and we were in our bare feet waiting for a taxi.

They picked us up for questioning and her son disclosed that his mother tried to strangle him, and I confirmed his story.

As a result of this incident, my cousin and her sister decided I was in the wrong and told my grandmother they were going to kill me.

It wasn’t safe for me to stay with my grandmother anymore.

I reached out to the Minister and he arranged for one of the congregation members to give me a place to stay – and I am eternally grateful for that.

I am seriously convinced that if I hadn’t got that job and I hadn’t worked for the Minister I would be dead or in jail right now.

I’m serious.

At one point I ended up in A&E nearly dead, in need of an emergency operation and blood transfusion.

On top of all this, I was such a lost soul at the time, so young and absolutely clueless.

This was pre-ADHD diagnosis so I was broke, unstable, un-medicated, historically unable to hold down a job and just barely keeping my head above water.

My minister was more than just a boss – he was my first mentor and at the time, the only person in my entire life who saw my potential and invested in me.

He inspired me and taught me what I needed to know about life and my own abilities so I could dig myself out of rock-bottom.

He had “unconditional positive regard” for me and everyone he met.

Such a legend.

He emailed me today and asked me where I was on “my journey”. I responded straight away, but I reframed the dark stuff. I disclosed all the recent traumatic events with a positive spin.

I wasn’t as honest and raw as I am here on this blog. It didn’t feel necessary.

I thought about posting a redacted version of my response but I decided against it in the end.

Primed for Abuse

Here’s the thing. I have a bit of a track record for falling in love with abusive men.

I’m vulnerable, sure.

An easy target and “primed for abuse”, as they say.

But why?

What makes me so vulnerable?

I’m pretty fucking sure a messed up upbringing might have something to do with it.

Here goes…

My upbringing was profoundly oppressive – thanks to both parents – and living in the Middle East.

I am the only daughter to an Iranian man and a Scottish woman.

My father is the typical “Middle Eastern Father” stereotype, moody, unable to show affection, over protective, controlling and impossible to please.

The only time my father made eye contact with me was when he was lashing out at me.

He is a complex man. All the ways he primed me for abuse is a struggle for me to put it into words at the moment.

So for now I’ll say that he taught me to accept the “darker” side of masculinity.

The result of having a father like him is that I am mainly attracted to men that really, fucking scare me.

Moving on!

My mother was brought up by her militant, catholic grandmother.

She is neurotic, self-loathing, completely oblivious to her own internalised misogyny. The head-fuckery which she was proud to pass on to me as her “teachings” – so that one day I might become a good wife.

My mother has all kinds of mental illnesses that moulded me to who I am today.

The stories about her are disturbing and I am building up the courage to share them one day.

I digress.

Some of the things she taught me were things like – all men are evil and that woman-hood is nothing but suffering.

As a result of having a mother like her I feel worthless, ugly, fat, unlovable and a failure as a woman.

As well as being controlled and abused by both parents, I grew up as a second class citizen.

I lived in the Islamic Republic of Iran for 7 years, from the age of 12 to 19 years old and the experience for me, a teenage girl was totally unbearable.

I could write endlessly about the injustices for women and girls living in Iran, and I will get round to it…

(Spoiler: I ran away from home, got back to to the UK and was homeless for a while)

I know there are people who are far worse off than me…but looking at the shitty cards I was dealt, it’s obvious that I never stood a chance in love and relationships.

I lost the game before it even started – right?

The second date sucked

The last time I posted about dating, I was excited and optimistic about having met someone new.

We waited a month to have our second date because he was overseas on holiday but we were texting a lot and I can sincerely say that we had an amazing connection.

However, to put it bluntly, the second date was a total fucking disaster.

Idecided very early on in the second date that I didn’t fancy him anymore…but I ignored my feelings and tried to make it work.

He wasn’t very talkative, quite shy so I worked quite hard to avoid it being awkward.

I got drunk and tried to have a nice time. the rest of the night is a blur. Of the bits I can remember, I would rather forget,

To say that the overall experience disappointing would be the kindest thing I could say.

I woke up in my bed, with him lying next to me. I had a stinking hangover and felt totally repulsed.

I dragged myself out of bed and had a shower. Whilst in the shower I continued to ignore my feelings and convinced myself that I could turn it around.

I convinced myself that it would be a good idea to continue the date. So I drove us to this cute place in town for a “romantic” breakfast.

It really wasn’t.

Much like last night, he wasn’t talkative and I tried my best to fill the silence with nice things like admiring the decor but eventually I gave up on it.

My next move was to get him back to his car which was parked at my house so we could say our goodbyes – but he didn’t leave – he followed me into my house.

I didn’t know what to do.

I made us a cup of tea and I told him that at some point I will need to get going because I had lots of errands and things to do.

He said “okay”, then took his shoes off and made himself very comfortable on my couch.

We watched a couple of episodes of The Spy on Netflix – which I thought will bore the fuck out of him (political dramas are not his bag) but he persevered.

Finally I plucked up the courage, got up from the couch and said, “okay that’s it now – I have stuff to do so I’m going to load my car with stuff for the recycling station”.

I took the loads to my car and then with my keys in my hand I said to him, “right I have to go now” and he said “okay, do you need any help?” and I told him that I’m meeting a friend who is helping me.

“Okay” he said. He turned and continued watching the TV.

I started trembling and I abruptly told him “you need to leave now!”.

He was apologetic and left the house with me, we hugged, he got in his car and instead of driving off, he just sat there.

Wtf?

So, I’m still trembling at this point as I back my car out of the drive – I could see him in his car just staring at me as I drive off.

He made me feel so anxious and uncomfortable but I can’t be angry at him because I don’t think it’s his fault.

It’s my own fault. I should be angry at myself for ignoring my feelings.

I should be angry that I didn’t kick him out sooner. I was the one who let the date continue to the point where I felt trapped and anxious about telling him to leave.

You could say that I led him on but it’s more complicated than that.

I honestly thought I liked him – but none of it was true…it was all in my head.

The truth is, I totally deluded myself.

I made myself believe that I liked him and that I fancied him. When it wasn’t going well I tried to force the situation and it didn’t end well.

I think I did this because I was so lonely, because I desperately want a boyfriend.

The second date was a complete shit show and I only have myself to blame.

I’m feel so ashamed and disgusted with myself.

I’m such a fucking mess.