Don't Let **These** Bastards Grind You Down
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It’s 7.30am on a Saturday morning.
The grey drizzle of London seeps in through the blinds, as if to confirm this strange sense of foreboding that’s been washing through my consciousness for the last few hours, refusing to let me fall back to sleep.
I’m alone in bed – my fella’s away for work and right now, I really feel his absence.
Instinctively, I know that all is not well.
As I adjust my eyes to the light, my phone alarm goes off from its location on the other side of the room – a crafty technique I’ve used for years to stop me pressing snooze and forfeiting my morning meditation.
I then proceed to do what I always do – crawl to the end of the bed on my belly, reach for the phone, then pull it back under the covers and press snooze anyway.
Except, this time I don’t press snooze.
This time, I turn the alarm off – and then straight away, I turn flight mode off, too – something I endeavour to resist until 9 o’clock in a bid to stop the noise of the world crowding my morning until I’ve blasted myself with light. (And caffeine).
But today, I’m already alert.
My fingers take me to the Instagram app. As soon as I open it, the first post I see is from my sister.
It’s a video of a smashed door in my family home, that then tracks to my parent’s usually pristine bedroom – now turned upside down, inside out.
Stuff’s everywhere, apart from all of my mother’s jewellery and most valuable possessions.
The camera pauses for a moment over an object on the floor – my dad’s ice axe that he uses for climbing (which, ironically, is what he’s doing right now in Nepal – minus the axe).
It takes a moment for me to register why the axe is out of its box, and when I do my whole body is overcome with numbness and nausea.
I call my sister to be told we’ve been burgled for the second time in two years – as my mum lay asleep with the dog on the sofa downstairs.
Both didn’t stir once, despite the arseholes smashing through three layers of thick glass.
“I’m on my way,” I tell her as I throw some clothes into a bag.
I get into my Uber armed with yellow roses, a bar of pink and white nougat (mum’s favourite) and a packet of twenty Marlboro Lights from the Tesco Express at the top of our road.
All is not well, I tell myself – and:
I knew this was coming.
Well, not this exactly, but something; something inevitably had to come along and fuck with the most consistently serene and happy month I’ve ever had.
I was waiting for it to.
And you always get what you expect.
I just wish it had been us and not her – mainly because there’s bugger all in our flat worth nicking - except, I’ve just been informed, three of my boyfriend’s possessions (that I won’t name here for obvious reasons).
But, even the loss of them would pale in comparison to the hateful pillaging of my mother’s wedding and engagement rings.
The taxi ride is fraught with a sense of relief and gratitude that no one was harmed, which is quickly punctured by an oppressive sense of guilt.
I saw this I saw this I saw this.
- Is what I can’t stop saying to myself.
I’ve often been told by spiritual types that I have the gift of prophecy or Claircognizance (the ability to know something without a physical explanation why a person knows it).
Amidst relishing this most luminous of months, I’ve had dark visions of myself and those I love in perilous situations – most, too horrible to put into words here.
L’appel du vide, the French say: call of the void.
“It’s because you grew up in an unsafe environment where things did go wrong – you and your family were in danger for a long time, so no wonder you’re hyper-vigilant to it happening again,” a wise friend explained to me recently when I told her of the visions.
The truth is, the only things I’m genuinely afraid of being taken from me are the ideas I write down in my phone or computer (which, for the most part, are **hopefully** protected by ‘the cloud’, wherever that elusive parallel universe may exist) and my close friends and family – which includes the man I share my bed, body and (a) bank account with.
Unfortunately, there ain’t no alarm system or CCTV camera that can defend my people against the many terrifying scenarios I’ve conjured up in my mind – or the ones that haven’t even crossed it (yet).
All I can do is love them hard while I’m lucky enough to have them.
Sometimes it takes something as hideous as this to remind me of that.
I arrive at my parent’s to find mum chuffing on a fag while on the phone to dad in Kathmandu. Somehow, she’s laughing. Probably the shock.
Our kamikaze puppy, Baby Margaret (WORST guard dog in the history of the world) runs up to greet me, 100% ignorant of the danger she was in only hours earlier.
My sister tells me that she’s never seen mum so distraught – even dad’s a wreck, insisting (against mum’s objections) he fly back and abandon his trek.
When I go in to their bedroom and see the axe on the floor, this strange fusion of trepidation and relief that I’ve been feeling all morning is amplified tenfold.
The only way I know how to deal with awful things happening to you (that aren’t your fault) is to try and find some meaning within them.
I can’t allow myself to succumb to the idea that we live in a scary, random universe where shitty things happen to good people for no reason - and nothing good can come from them.
It’s just too depressing.
As I watch my mum writing out a list of what’s been taken for the insurance company, I feel wracked with rage.
A neighbour kindly brings pink peonies, and we receive numerous calls and messages from friends to see if we’re ok.
“Thank God no one was hurt. It’s only stuff – you can’t take it with you,” - is the general theme.
I know they mean well – and it’s exactly what I’d say were I them, but the thing is, it isn’t ‘only stuff’.
It’s my mum’s stuff, stuff she’s taken such exquisite care of over the years – stuff that’s now probably lying in a heap in the back of a stolen van on its way to some shitty carboot or pawnbrokers in Leytonstone right now.
It isn’t only stuff, it’s the fact that, after years of struggle, pain and bloody hard work in creating their dream home, my parents have now lost their right to feel safe in it.
It isn’t only stuff, it’s stuff that was taken by dangerous, axe-wielding criminals while my mother and dog were asleep directly beneath them.
A while ago, someone told me that Kim Kardashian deserved to be tied up and robbed for “showing off” her wealth.
I quickly suggested that it’s this kind of ridiculous thinking that’s been used to justify raping women for wearing short skirts or figure hugging dresses.
You may want it, doesn’t mean it’s yours to take – or that they’re at fault for having what you don’t.
As we’re waiting for a man to come and board up the broken door, I share a post on social media about how I’ve done some really crappy things in my time. I took things that didn’t belong to me with little care for the consequences, simply because I could.
I may have behaved like this in reaction to a difficult childhood – in the same way that these criminals may well have.
Regardless of the reason, I still behaved like an arsehole.
And when you behave like an arsehole karma will, of course, get you in the end.
You don’t need me to tell you that there’s no joy or pleasure to be derived from a life of deceit and indecency.
This, you know – even if those burgling bastards have yet to grasp it.
(By the way, the only ‘spiritual’ attitude I’m able to manage right now with regards to these thieves is: Bless you, but FUCK YOU.)
The next morning I awake at my parent’s house, having – inevitably – been tossing and turning all night.
My mum, sister and dog stayed on the living room sofas – my sister, with dad’s ice axe by her side, “just in case.”
As Sunday rolls on, our ears are pricked to every sound – even Baby Margaret’s barking exhaustively at the mere buzz of a fly outside the window.
“Too little too late, sweetie,” my mum says, three coffees and seven fags in before noon.
This makes the three of us chuckle, because even if the dog had woken up to hear the burglars yesterday, she’d have been about as much use as a leaky bucket on a sinking ship.
It’s difficult to witness mum moving back and forth between feeling relieved no one got hurt, and anxious that they’ll come back for more (though it would be a waste of their time. They’ve cleaned her out).
One minute she’s being hilarious:
“Only Kim Kardashian knows how I feel!!!” she writes on Facebook.
The next, she’s running upstairs to check if maybe they missed the ring dad bought her for their thirtieth wedding anniversary.
She returns to the living room, despondent.
“Nope, they got that too.”
When this happened last time, I wrote a newsletter for Addictive Daughter about how mum was determined not to let them ‘take her happy;’ it’s the one thing she still had that couldn’t be stolen.
I recall her words back then and am resolved to somehow find a way not to let this horrible incident take my own happy.
Less than forty-eight hours ago I was walking around London full of so much hope, excitement and positivity that glittery rainbows and unicorns may as well have been shooting out of my arse.
The dark visions, though unpleasant, were not strong enough to hinder my overall feeling that all was well.
Now, I can’t stop thinking about how very dangerous it is to live in a city like London.
I (or someone I love) could be run over!
My boyfriend and I are planning to go travelling for six months at the end of this year, but now I’m overwhelmed with thoughts about how very unsafe the world is: what if we’re attacked when we’re away and are left stranded without money and passports??
I know I cannot afford to continue to entertain this line of thinking, but it’s hard not to when your family home – the place that’s meant to be your safe haven – has been invaded and violated by a bunch of balaclava-wearing, ice axe-wielding dickheads with the ability to bust their way through an ‘unbreakable’ door without waking up the jumpiest of dogs.
Then, as if on cue to halt my stinking thinking, another miracle:
Mum, who’s up in her bedroom tidying away the empty jewellery boxes - runs down stairs clutching a string of black pearls.
“Jenny’s pearls! Jenny’s pearls! The fuckers didn’t find Jenny’s pearls!”
Jenny, who sadly passed away three years ago, had been mum’s best friend since they met in rehab back in the nineties.
Last time our family was robbed, the only precious thing the burglars missed were the pearls Jenny’s husband Shaun had given mum after Jenny died.
Somehow, they’ve managed to survive this burglary, too.
Mum tells my sister and I how she found the necklace at the back of her bedside drawer (which had also been raided, but the burglars must have missed them.)
“It’s so strange, I don’t remember putting them there – I always put every piece of jewellery back in its box,” she says.
Mum calls Shaun with the good news.
“I think it’s Jenny’s way of showing she was there protecting you,” he tells her.
In ‘The Inner Fix’ I shared how my belief in God – or a Higher Power – stemmed from the fact that over the years, my family has been though an unbelievable amount of crap – particularly my mother – and yet, we’ve also experienced more than our fair share of miracles.
Even in the darkness, I feel we’ve been looked after.
Nearly a week on from the burglary and I’m reminded of something blaringly obvious, yet profound (and easily forgettable when your back’s up against the wall):
A lot of bad happens in this world, but so does a lot of good.
It’s up to you which of these you choose to focus on.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU:
Have you ever been robbed/ mugged/ assaulted – or experienced some other kind of horrible shock or trauma? How did you heal and get back to ‘normal’ living?
I’d truly love to hear your thoughts and insights around this – please share them with me below and I’ll do my very best to respond as soon as possible :)
With love + gratitude,