Fights, Moving Out and Court Cases

Me & Dad (13)For as long as I can remember my parents were always at each other’s throats. It’s time for more of those vague flash memories now as I go through this stage. Night after night I would lie in my bed and hear screaming and shouting coming from downstairs. I’d bury my head under my pillow or pull my duvet up over me to try and muffle the sounds, but nothing would work. The next day I’d go downstairs for breakfast with no shoes or socks on my feet and step on glass. Fairly painful having little shards of glass stuck in your foot after stepping on something that had been smashed the night before. During the day my parents would barely say two words to each other and I remember the day I caught my mum smoking again after she had quit. After another sleepless night from all the shouting and screaming going on, I crept downstairs into the living room. I remember seeing my Dad sitting on the sofa watching TV. I told him I couldn’t sleep and asked if I could sit with him. He said I could and we shared cheese on toast while watching The Bill followed by Dallas together. I can only imagine my mum was in the kitchen again sweeping up more broken glass. The following day I guess my mum had decided she had enough of it all and packed up some stuff, leaving my Dad with me in tow, seeking refuge at my Gran’s house. I was 8 years old at the time and didn’t understand what was going on. I didn’t hear from or see my Dad for 6 weeks after we left Foxon Lane. One day my Gran caught me tearing up photos of him. When she asked me why I was doing that I said that I thought he hated me because he didn’t want to see me anymore. She explained that wasn’t true and that he and my Mum need to sort some things out and that none of this was my fault, before helping me sellotape the photos back together again. I remember many visits from social workers and solicitors, asking me various questions, like; who I wanted to live with and why, how I got on with other members of my family etc. I also had to keep a diary of my thought and feelings about the whole situation. I didn’t want to hurt my Dad, nor his Girlfriend, but at the time I wanted to live with my Mum as I had made some very good friends around there and felt comfortable. Before they went to court to fight for custody of my, Mum and I lived at my Gran’s for almost two years. I slept on a sofa, firstly in my Uncle David’s room, and then in my Gran’s room. My Mum made a makeshift bed out of two armchairs and slept in the living room. After that we went to live in a single room at a Hostel in Whyteleafe. The dire conditions of having your bedroom, living room and kitchen all in one wasn’t ideal, but then neither was sharing a toilet and bathroom with ten other people. However, despite all this, I made some wonderful friends there with the other kids and those 13 months were probably some of the best in my life. I was reasonably local to school at Marden Lodge, and other friends, and saw my Dad every other weekend. The courts ruled in favour of my Mum having Care and Control but sharing Joint Custody of me with my Dad. Part of me wonders how on Earth that happened considering my Dad had a house with a bedroom for me and we were living in a room the size of a matchbox with no house of our own at the time. We did eventually though; it’s just a shame it had to come at the price of my Dad having to sell his childhood home in order to pay my Mum her share in the divorce settlement. It was when we moved back into Stafford Road I crossed paths with THAT cousin again. I hadn’t seen him seen I was 7 and seeing him then suddenly sent shivers down my spine. He’d come down with his Step-Dad to help decorate and renovate the new house. We never spoke about what happened and have never spoken to each other since. I don’t even know what he does with himself these days, and quite frankly I don’t really care.

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