A Dark Mile



I’m sitting at my writing desk and feeling like the weather outside: a bit shit.

The last week has been one of the worst ever, for various reasons: the anniversary and Valentine’s Day, the return of my past causing problems and that in turn causing a few more people to choose not to talk to me. The loss of my belongings: overcoat, gloves and bag. The bag contained my body warmer, some food, almost 50g of tobacco (a valuable commodity on the road), library books, my phone charger (so it’s back to the helpful staff at the O2 store daily) and my journals. I also have no money as a result and therefore no credit on my phone, which I managed to retain. And some people think I choose to live like this; that I enjoy it even. I may be slightly mentally impaired but I’m not insane.

I would much rather return to the warmth and comfort of a shared bed but I know that’s not on the cards, so I’ve been concentrating on moving myself forward but I keep getting knocked back, temporarily sighing and occasionally giving up. My benefits paperwork was also in the stolen bag, so I have to go through that whole process again. My application for temporary housing is lodged though, whilst I re-apply for the longer term solution.

I’ve been resourceful and received a little help from friends but as it stands, I’m unable to eat, enjoy the small daily luxury I afford myself of a McDonald’s coffee, text or phone anyone.

And then there’s the Telegraph vouchers which I sold: I posted them via business mail but they’ve apparently not arrived with the buyer. They have therefore launched a dispute with PayPal and my account is frozen as a result. That money was destined to be the deposit for my netbook while I wait for the funds from CRI. I really need more time than the one hour per day permitted in the library. I don’t just type the blog (at 80 words-per-minute) but I research, network, build my websites, look for business and find work.

Among my resourceful endevours is a desk / bedside lamp, which I’ve fashioned from a cigarette lighter (one with a LED torch in the base: 99p for five from 99p Stores) and some leather string, tied tightly around the lighter to keep the torch button depressed. Then the light element is stuffed into the neck of an empty vodka bottle (not mine) and the clear glass radiates the light from the LED. I’m not even a pretty face.

And there are the products of my whimsical moments last night, when I decorated my phone and baccy tin with aliens, robots, space ships, stars and planets. They serve as reminders of my children. These are children’s stickers acquired from Sainsbury’s for £1.49. Extravagant? Indulgent? I could have spent the money on baccy or drink; even food but I’d rather go without food and gaze at something which invokes beautiful memories. My kids love cartoon aliens and robots and so on and the stickers are applied in a way which the kids would do themselves: for example, aliens with lightning bolts coming out of their arses. And why a tobacco tin? Because although perhaps inappropriate, it and the phone are pretty much all I have. I’d have loved to decorate my journals but they were stolen. And maybe I’d have given the journals to the kids, as I want them to read this when they’re older (their mum has told them what’s going on with me), so they can learn of the journey and not follow it. Just as I want to be able to look back on all of this when I’m better.

Even though I’m in a dark place now, my key worker has said that with sobriety and sanity comes clarity and I’ll be able to look back and be almost incredulous of some of what I’m writing now. In much the same way that my life story will have to be published as fiction as no-one will believe the truth (and some still don’t).

Just like the writing, the stickers were therapy.

I suffer knocks; I pick myself up.

What little I have, I share.

I help others when I can and sometimes get knocked back as a result. But I pick myself up again.

I aspire, inspire and amaze.

This has been a dark period in the journey but I keep smiling; I keep walking. This too shall pass.  

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