Coming Home Undefeated
|I'm thirty in less than three months time and I am moving back in with my parents. So many truths that I held as dear have been crushed underfoot in the past six months, and here goes another one: Whatever happened, I would never ever live with my folks again.|
Squish. But as with most of these recent squishings, it is a surprisingly pleasant sensation.
I think it is much harder for adults living with their parents when one party is disabled. I am not capable of living in such a way that home is just a base, somewhere to rest my head and store my stuff and borrow the washing machine once a week, spending most of my time out at work and socialising out of the house. My home is my environment for work and rest and most of my social activities. I cannot live alone and I have to live with people who are willing and able to help me and from whom I am comfortable asking for help.
As a sick teenager, I lived in terror of being stuck at home forever. In my early days as a wheelchair-user, riddled with internalised prejudice, I experienced a special kind of mortification when being pushed around by my mother (not helped by the fact that she initially kept muddling the words wheelchair with pushchair). My parents and I had returned to a practical dynamic we had left behind years earlier and I think, for a short time, our relationship actually regressed; I think my parents forgot how old I now was and I assumed they couldn't possibly adapt. There were real struggles around my desperate need to be both looked after and left alone which I thought could never be resolved. And none of it was resolved before I moved out and in with my ex-husband.
After that, living with my parents remained the big threat. I suppose that between lots of couples, there are arguments that culminate in threats of desertion. But for me, the threat was always that I would be sent back to my parents, like an unruly child who having abused her grown-up privileges, has them taken away again.
For all kinds of reasons, my marriage caused and sustained unnecessary tension between my parents and I and since its end, my relationship with them has dramatically improved. This is mostly about me. I have finally shrugged off my adolescent evasiveness and started to be more honest about my life, my experiences, my health and the help I need. I've also seen my parents through different eyes; my own eyes when no other opinion mattered and the eyes of my open-hearted friends. And thus they frustrate me much less, and I like them much more.
Plus, of course, life's dramas always allow folk to surprise you, either way. My parents have been brilliant in the last six months. Not that I thought they wouldn't help me, but I underestimated their capacity to know how to help me and when. They stepped back when I needed space, they stepped in when I needed assistance. They moved all my worldly possessions from East Anglia to Wales and this weekend, they are moving everything back again.
As you can see, I have new boots. Second two photographs (and plans for the future) courtesy of the amazing Stephen.