That’s how my first ever counsellor used to refer to my parents’ house. After I’d realized that, contrary to Enid Blyton’s (not-so-) nurturing voice in my ear as I was growing up, it can be that your parents don’t always do what is best for you -it’s more about what they think is best for you, or what’s best for them, and that’s not the same thing.
She used to describe them as being aboard this ship, with their host of problems, not least an ailing marriage, and that I could, contrary to their wishes, cut myself adrift, if I so desired. Theirs weren’t my problems to solve, however much my mother claimed different.
Now, nearly ten years later, my brother, mother, and I have left. And my brother seems to be doing OK, and my mother is decidedly happy, and doing OK. And my father is happy enough in his own way – the house – still not sold – stands as the only miserable remains of HMS Hopeless.
My life-rafts since then, have struggled to stay afloat. I did build one, just after I stopped working with that counsellor, and fought hard to sever the ropes binding it to the ship – taking jobs ever further North from its astutely polished, but nevertheless, rotten, decks. But the raft kept leaking, whenever the slightest thing disturbed it.
And now it’s so bashed about – and the rest of my family’s so well-put-together, that I am wondering, as they go their separate ways, why I am bothering to try to hold things together. Every time I think I’ve rebuilt it, stronger, another wave assaults it, and blasts it to pieces. The life-jacket’s turned to iron. Iron that drags me down daily, as I fight and scream against it. Only a few leaky barrels remain.
And I’m so tired. Tired, yet I can barely sleep. Flat. Exhausted after a week – five days – back at work. Fighting the memories that wall bars, and ropes, and wooden benches in school halls recreate. Trying to shut the door on recollections of not having (had) a best friend.
Miss, what’s your best friend’s name?
I might have left HMS Hopeless. But the boat I’m aboard isn’t much better, and it’s a struggle sailing it. While the others get on with their lives away from the ship, I seem to be stuck by an anchor to the same stretch of ocean that it’s in – ten years later, I’m still capsizing, in its sea of shadows. Ten years is a long time. How much longer?