Tag Archives: eviction

Trip to Morrisons

So, as I alluded to in my last post, I am a (hopefully recovering) agoraphobic.

I never previously considered myself an anxious person (although I suspect my husband might disagree because he is so laid-back that he thinks hippies are highly strung! 🙂

But we have had a run of hard times, culminating last year with our landlord evicting us – not because we were bad tenants, or because we weren’t paying the rent: we were good, regular rent-paying tenants – but simply because he wanted to sell the house. My friends in the US were shocked and appalled that such action is legal, but here in the UK, tenants have almost no security, even when it’s the landlords who are bad, as in our case.

Our old house stood empty for almost a year while our greedy landlord learned the hard lesson that greed doesn’t always pay. And needless to say, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him.

So, here I am, traumatised! Really not liking the house we are in now, but ironically stuck inside a lot of the time because going out sets off the anxiety, and I find ways to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. Shopping deliveries have been a ‘life-saver’ in that regard.

But I am on the mend, hopefully, and trying to make sure that I do step out as much as I can.

So far this year the weather has been pretty horrendously un-outviting (humour me!) But since today was a little brighter, I girded my loins and got myself out… To the supermarket. Morrison’s in fact. By car. Not my favourite place, for sure. (And no pictures, obviously) But I did it.

One of these days – perhaps in the summer, I will actually start walking to places from home again but, for now, going by car and not having a panic attack inside was a small achievement.

So, yes, I do hope that my next outing will be more fun and joyful than a supermarket!

And it will be really great if you can forgive me for the boring blog without pictures so far, and help me with encouragement and accountability to keep trying 🙂

Advertisements

Annus Horribilis

Previously on the Prairie…

2014 was not awful, it wasn’t the happiest year – I didn’t have the life I wanted, and I was very lonely and pissed off with our bad landlord (the last in a long line of bad landlords who nrefused to fix broken plumbing).

At the end of 2013 we had moved house, out of a fire into a frying pan it seemed. It wasn’t the best move, but previous to that we had lived three years in a rental that had *so much* wrong with it, that it shouldn’t have been legal, BUT it was a bungalow (which, being on one level, was perfect), it was in THE most beautiful location, with views of fields in every direction, a village pond opposite, and a regular procession of visiting ducks, sheep and turkeys. So when we moved, it wasn’t a clear 100% improvement – it was a compromise. I miss the ducks and the beautiful views, but I don’t miss the disgusting brown water etc. The new house was pretty good, apart from the not hot water (honestly, not sure which was worse.)

2015

I made the stupid mistake of reading a horoscope (or was it a ‘prophecy’?) in January which said I would soon have access to a completely new social support network. Well, it hasn’t happened yet.

But then, I could not have *imagined* the idea that we would be evicted in 2015 from that same house after barely one year as good, regular rent-paying tenants. And again, although every idiot thinks that if I’m not happy I must be a ‘glass half empty’ kind of girl, because, d’oh, you live near the sea, within walking distance of the supermarket, what more could you freakin want?

We have been housed in a totally unsuitable three-storey house, with a moronic design – kitchen and single bedroom on the ground floor, living room and single room on the middle floor, and double bedroom and bathroom on the top floor. There is no question whatsoever in my mind that this is one of the reasons why I have become so ill since we moved. I am now largely confined to one floor, largely unable to leave the house, effectively housebound/ bedbound where a year ago I was able to be fairly active.

Add to that the fact that there is no garden for the children, just a completely unsuitable yard not big enough for any practical purpose, horrible neighbours, my marriage sucks, an ongoing dusty, dirty, dangerous building site which makes cleaning nigh on impossible, and still, 9 months later – because we are poorer almost than we have ever been, living so ‘hand to mouth’ at the moment that we can’t do Christmas *at all* (if money doesn’t come in soon, we may need to go to the Food Bank for our Christmas groceries) – we have no floor coverings, and I can’t tell you just how depressing that is.

It hasn’t been my Annus most Horribilis actually. 2010 or 2011 would probably be very strong contenders. But I am not sure I have ever been more miserable.

Quite apart from my ill health which is severely limiting me right now, choices become few and far between when you have no money. I have cancelled every single outgoing that I could think of. So although I have been mulling around in my mind what ‘resolutions’ I can make for 2016, I don’t know how much is within my control to change. That is by far the worst thing – the fact that I feel completely powerless.

I’ll try and think of something positive to say next time.

What are the chances that 2016 will be our Annus Mirabilis, do you suppose? I think we deserve one.

Out in the cold, dark night

So here we are, almost nine weeks after moving out of our rented house, from which we were being evicted, into the brand spanking new housing association property. Minus the mold and the awful landlord and letting agents, but also minus carpets and curtains, the gardens, the fabulous view and minus the dining room, the built-in wardrobes. (We’re also still waiting for our deposit to bĂ© returned) I could go on, but I’m trying not to dwell on the negatives.

One negative I am really struggling with though is the lack of landline phone and internet. Thank God for my mobile phone, but it is costing me almost as much to run this mobile as our only phone and internet source as it was to run broadband and wifi for the whole house before.

Nine weeks is long enough, don’t you think? If I had a choice not to use BT I would certainly vote with my feet, but of course they rely on your inability to go to anybody else for a landline.

I have been through a few traumatic events in the last few years, so in one way I’m used to it, but in another, I feel battle-worn and weary, traumatised too many times.

I’m basically middle-aged now. I thought that by now we would have a stable, comfortable home with a stable, comfortable network of friends and family around us. Nothing could bĂ© further from the truth.

Needless to say, my health has taken a turn for the worse in the last few weeks, to the extent that – apart from a few necessary errands – I am mostly needing to lay down in bed in my room. Even sitting up is too painful, my neck feels unable to hold my head up for long.

I had a conversation on Saturday morning with a pentecostal friend, and I mentioned my ill health, so she said a prayer online which she asked me to agree to, which I did, but then she said “Now we have done ‘spiritual warfare’ and you are healed. Don’t invite back the spirit of infirmity.”

I have spent some time in pentecostal churches, so it shouldn’t have surprised me but I was taken aback. If only life were that simple!

The problem with having such a simplistic worldview is that it becomes inevitably judgemental – if you don’t get well, if your circumstances don’t improve, you must have failed in some way, failed to adequately wage spiritual warfare, had a lack of faith, spoken negative words to “invite” negativity back into your life! (Remember the ‘Secret’?)

Unfortunately, unless you want a potentially self-defeating argument, you learn to have to watch what you say around people with this kind of thinking. I feel another sense of loss that I can’t trust this friend with my true thoughts and feelings.

Anyway, our big news is that, in view of our circumstances, in view of my health, our finances, my husband’s age (over 50 now), we don’t intend to pursue adoption.

That decision comes with another terrific sense of loss and grief and guilt, but we left it too late I think. I wish we had looked into it ten years ago, but on the other hand it would not have been good to put adopted children through what we have been through in the last few years. It looks like it just wasn’t meant to bĂ©. (Either that, or I didn’t wage enough spiritual warfare. Joke.) 😩

I dreamt last night that there were a bunch of children that weren’t mine out in the shed, out in the wet cold night, and one of them broke into the house and threatened me with a gun. Somehow I knew that they were out there, and I was more shocked that I hadn’t let them in than that this child was standing in front of me with a gun. Dreams are stupid, but I expect that’s the guilt talking. I would let you in, but I don’t think I would bĂ© very much good for you.

Grumbles

Just a quick (ok less quick as it turns out) grumble. I’m still clearing out our old house and trying to clean the darn thing.

We have had the de-humidifier going non-stop for three weeks, and some of the more disgusting black mold has disappeared, but I just feel incensed that we have had to live in these awful places, and that our scumbag landlord would add insult to repeated injury by turfing us out on our ear for profit.

I sat in the garden yesterday, looking at the beautiful view of fields and the sea, and just wept thinking about the place we are moving to, with a sorry excuse for a tiny garden with 6 foot high fences and a view of a shed. Ok, we’re escaping the mold, and our tenancy should be safer now as it’s no longer private renting, but it’s not a clear improvement by any means.

My mum keeps calling to say first one day that she’s desperately unhappy and can’t cope with living alone and wants to come and live with us (so can we get the ‘spare’ room ready for her), and then the next day that she doesn’t want to leave London and would rather live near my brother. I’m sure she can’t help it, but it’s relentless and feels like emotional torture.

Also, about three weeks ago I wrote to the Church hierarchy with an update confirming that, after my year of waiting, I was still interested in ordination. I still have yet to receive any kind of acknowledgement at all despite specifically requesting one. In the meantime, I sent details of an online course to the same person that I thought might be interesting. Bearing in mind that I wasn’t asking for the church to pay for the course, the fact that I received a very terse response “NO” within five minutes felt like a big slap in the face with a wet fish.

Frankly, I’m no longer sure that I want to be connected with an organisation that treats people so rudely.

And then finally, and no doubt due to the amount of stress I’ve been under, I’m experiencing what feels like the beginning of another relapse – all my lymph nodes are swollen, my throat is sore, my head, back, neck and spine are tender and my arms and legs are achy and weak, so I am having to take it easy and move slowly to hopefully ward it off. Last night I went to bed around 9pm, slept round the clock, and woke up with a migraine. The washing, and washing up are piling up around me and I can’t do anything about it.

Memories of Lidingö

This is probably a bit random and disjointed. It’s largely taken from a series of tweets that I posted, so apologies for anybody who has already seen most of it. Apologies also that there are no photos – I have some, I just can’t figure out how to get them into WordPress.

Earlier in the week, I was unable to sleep. I was worried about the whole business of eviction in general and specifically about meeting with the housing association the next day. As I was tossing and turning, a memory came to me which reminded me that this is actually our third experience of eviction.

Last time, it was quite a different experience – the landlord decided that he wanted to move in to the house we were renting, but because we had only been there a few months, we hadn’t unpacked everything.

I had unpacked too much, but most of it was still in boxes and some of it was still in storage. So although it was unpleasant, I don’t remember it completely flooring me. Somehow, we just got on with it. It didn’t even occur to us to apply for emergency housing because at the time we still had our own house that we were renting out back home.

The first time we were evicted, we were in Sweden. We were renting a tvĂ„a apartment – that is, a two room apartment (one bedroom, one living room) in Hjorthagen in Stockholm.

We were only given one month’s notice to get out, due to the whole apartment block being refurbished.

I had finished my course (Scandinavian Studies) at Stockholm University as part of my degree from UCL in London – the reason we were there in the first place – and since we had felt quite homesick, and it was so hard to survive there on one income, we decided to move back to the UK.

I don’t know what we were thinking. Can you imagine what it is to organise an international move inside of a month?!

To complicate things, Husband’s employer refused to let him go.

I don’t know what the laws surrounding housing or employment are in Sweden. Now, it seems to me that both these demands were unreasonable. Surely one month isn’t sufficient notice of eviction, and it surely isn’t acceptable for an employer to refuse to accept a month’s notice to leave a job! But that was what happened, and not knowing any better, we just did what we were told.

Somehow we packed our stuff, cleared our apartment, bought a big trailer to fit all our furniture and shipped it  all back (actually took it ourselves), with our car, to my mother-in-law’s house and then we flew back to Stockholm.

We had found and arranged a temporary sub-let of a tvĂ„a apartment on Lidingö – the beautiful, big island outside of Stockholm. We were there for around six weeks, and it ought to have been a pretty fabulous summer holiday, except for the fact that I was too stressed to enjoy it.

lidingömap

I remember buying bread (I’m not sure why that’s such a vivid memory) and I remember that the little local library was ‘sommarstĂ€ngd’ (closed for the summer) the whole time we were there. I had forgotten until I started thinking about it, but the main library in Lidingö Centrum stayed open, and I remember getting the bus there with my son several times.

I have a vivid memory of being on the bus to Stockholm one time when my son needed the potty, and I just had to get it out for him there and then! His dagis (short for ‘daghem’, day home, meaning nursery or kindergarten) hadn’t been willing to potty train him at all, so I had decided it was time and that I would get him trained before the end of the summer. I don’t recall whether or not I was successful. I suppose I must have been.

We had to walk past the library every day to get to the little supermarket and the beach. I remember there were dozens of flying ants all around the pathway through the woods to the library, and that they fascinated my little boy but gave me nightmares, playing to my fears of being powerless I suppose.

I remember spending a lot of time at the tvĂ€ttstuga – the ‘washing cottage’ which is a communal laundry centre that apartment buildings have. This apartment complex was much more modern than the one that we had lived in all year in Hjorthagen. There, you only needed a key to get into the building (and it seemed to be left open during the day) but on Lidingö you needed two sets of keys just to get into the tvĂ€ttstuga.

I also remember with envy the fantastic torkskĂ„p clothes driers. You can’t get them in the UK, which is such a shame because, in my opinion, they are much more efficient than tumble driers and since you hang the clothes up to dry inside the cupboard, they come out in a much better condition. Perhaps one day I will be in a position to import one! 🙂

The landlady was a divorced American vegetarian, Sunny I think her name was, with a son named Attila, which is obviously memorable. She was taking her son to the States for the summer, and our enforced holiday perfectly coincided with hers. I have a vague feeling that we may have left meat in her freezer, and I worried for ages that I might have left the toys out, or left the back door unlocked. That’s the sort of thing stress does to you. If you’re reading this, Atilla’s mom, I apologise. Thank-you for letting us use your lovely apartment.

I also remember a fellow Englishman coming to visit and cooking spaghetti bolognese for us! Mike? He was a friend of a friend (Marie Åberg – whatever happened to you?!) that I had met at the Swedish Church in London. Neither of us were religious at the time, but it is a great place to connect with Swedish people when you’re learning the language.

I remember that, on the last day before we went home, Husband was late coming home from work. I remember being super stressed and irritable and worried about making our connections the next day.

While we were waiting for him, we went to the play park behind the apartment building. I remember having a conversation with another foreign mum. I can’t remember whether she was British or American, but she said that she had lived in Holland before moving to Sweden. I asked her how she had found Holland and how it differed from Sweden.

She answered that she found that Swedes were not at all service-orientated. She explained that there was no ‘the customer is always right’ philosophy. Whereas in Holland, or the US or even in the UK to a lesser extent, people will go out of the way to ensure that the customer was happy and would return for more business, but in Sweden, people dealing with the public all seemed a bit grumpy and unhelpful. I confess I had also found that somewhat to be the case myself. I had also found that you get a completely different attitude depending on whether you spoke English or Swedish, but that’s for another post I guess.

I remember that, while we were on Lidingö, Husband caught the ferry to work rather than the bus through Lidingö Centrum and into Stockholm. That was pretty cool actually. I miss the ferry. Cornwall definitely doesn’t have enough ferry boats. Ferry boats are my favourite. After hovercraft. (That shows my age a bit there!)

The last week we were there, my son lost a little ‘kramkanin’, a soft cuddly rabbit. We lost it somewhere in Stockholm, so we had to go back and retrace or steps but we never found it. He had had it since we first went to Sweden when he was 20 months. In fact, I think it was something he had had since he was a little baby and that it was a gift from Grandma. When we left Sweden, he was 3 and a half. So I had gone out to Sweden with a baby, an d was coming home with a big (little) boy.

That little kram-kanin represented him and his lost ‘babyhood’ somehow. I think I was more distressed and emotional than he was. I may have made up the word ‘kramkanin’ by the way. I remember trying to explain to the ferry staff that we had lost this little teddy rabbit, and they looked at me like I was nuts. So I suspect that ‘kramkanin’ probably isn’t a real Swedish word! 🙂

All of that happened 17 years ago now. But it is all very fresh in my mind now. I hadn’t even thought about Lidingö for ages up til now.

It is funny thinking of living so close to the seaside then, since we live by the sea now (although not close enough to walk there). The weather that summer was fabulous if I can trust my memory and I think we went there almost every day.

It was quite a nice beach although I don’t really remember whether it was sandy or stony. Stony, probably. I remember that the great big Silja car ferries came past between Stockholm and Lidingö on their way to Finland, and that as they did they caused a huge rippling wave to crash onto the beach, and that it made all the children scream with delight.

I remember finding an injured bird on the way home from the beach one day, and that all the people I asked to help with it refused, saying that “Things just die. It’s the natural way of things.” I didn’t dare take it back to the apartment as there were lots of cats around, so I just left it. But I remember being a little shocked and stung to find that people could be so hard. Or maybe I’m just a softie?

Anyway, the stress of being evicted and unsettled after Sweden began ten years of insomnia for me. I eventually managed to get on top of the problem but I know I am prone to sleeplessness. I really don’t want to start it up again so I try to be quite strict about bedtimes, and if I can’t sleep I try to avoid getting up and going downstairs.

But now we are so unsettled again I think I may need to learn some kind of meditation techniques or something to protect myself.

We saw the Housing Association yesterday and it all seemed positive in the morning. They pretty much said that the house was ours.

But in the afternoon, there was a flurry of calls from the Housing Association and the Council querying the fact that we used to have a house, and we used to have money a few years ago and now we don’t.

It seems as though they think that we are somehow scamming them or have done this to ourselves on purpose. Because, you know, losing your house and job to rent somebody else’s place is *such* an attractive and tempting prospect. (Really?)

And then to top it all, I finally got a call back from the Adoption Agency this morning, three weeks after telling them that we were having to move house. They have decided to take us off their books and close our file, and they told us that, if we want to go ahead and adopt, we will need to contact them again in a year’s time.

Realistically, having waited all this time after all these losses, I think I am just exhausted physically and emotionally. I also think I will just be too old (45) in a year’s time. Unless my health improves drastically (as opposed to worsening due to stress and disappointment), I don’t think I will have the ability to take on another child, and especially not a deeply traumatised one as I know is inevitable with adoption from foster care. So that is probably the end of our adoption journey, unless God intervenes with blessing and favour, of which – despite everything we have been through – I always remain hopeful.