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I moved out of the house on Monday with Jon’s help. I spent the weekend leading up to Monday at Darren’s sister’s house because I was so distraught and couldn’t bear the thought of going back to the house if Jon was going to be there.
On the Monday morning when I went into the house, it was warm and toasty. I was quite upset about this because for the past year I had been walking around the house freezing. Even when I had adjusted the thermostat, no heat would emit from the radiators. It was when I walked into a warm, cozy house that I realised that Jon had tampered with the heating apparatus in order to make sure that I never got too comfortable in his house.
Jon was walking around the house in nothing but a pair of men’s bikini underwear, which I found to be quite disconcerting. Even though I was uncomfortable with Jon parading around the house in next to nothing, I knew it was all a part of his illness and tried to ignore what he was doing. An ordinary person would have showed a modicum of modesty and clothed themselves. For Jon, however, part of the thrill was being able to prance around the house exposing himself to me, thereby eliciting shock, surprise and displeasure.
Jon went to the trouble to buy me a grey plastic box to put all of my files in. I couldn’t understand why my estranged husband was being so nice to me. It would, however, be years before I would discover that he bought me that box to put my files into because would be that easier for him to break into my home to find whatever documents he needed.
It wasn’t long after I moved out of the house that I happened to come across Glennys in the street. I tried to ignore her, which is what I preferred to do, but my mother-in-law made the first advance.
‘How are you doing?’, Glennys asked me.
‘I’m fine.’, I smiled sweetly as I spoke. Even if I had been on my way to kill myself, I certainly wasn’t going to tell her.
‘I am so sorry that you and Jon are having problems,’ Glennys said to me, as I tried to extricate myself from the situation.
It was only a few years earlier that Glennys made a point of trying to split us up, which undoubtedly put a strain on our marriage and ultimately brought us to divorce.
I was astonished that Glennys was expressing such sympathy that our marriage was falling apart. It was she who told me that she would never accept me, asked to have a memorial service for her son even though he was still alive, and refused to attend our wedding. Did Glennys really think that our marriage stood a snowball’s chance in Hell after all of the negative energy that she had directed at it?
Jon didn’t waste any time formalising my leaving the house forever. He was kind enough to bring me a television to watch and the mail that had been accumulating since I had left the house. He wrote a letter to Lloyds Bank, closing our joint account, which I had to co-sign. He also wrote a letter to the Royal National Institute of the Blind, saying that I could no longer collect charity for them, which I also signed. I was happy to sign any paperwork that Jon wanted if it meant that he was no longer a part of my life.
One morning on late February 1998, in desperation, I made a last ditch effort to try get back with Jon. I phoned him in tears and told him how unhappy I was. Jon wasn’t interested in me or my personal problems in the least. Although he wasn’t rude to me, the only thing that he could say was to keep taking the Prozac that the doctor had prescribed. I wasn’t an idiot and knew that Jon didn’t want me back.
With all that I had been through, with absolutely no support mechanisms or friendship to speak of, I started going through a breakdown. My whole body started shaking and nothing I did could get the shaking to subside. I would go through periods of elation to periods of despair. What I wanted to do most of the time, however, was to kill myself, and would spend hours on end thinking of how best to accomplish the act it with the most dramatic effect.
For the past several years I had employed the services of a mobile hairdresser, who came into my home to wash, cut and blow-dry my hair. At times I had thought of going to a salon, but I knew that she needed the money and continued to see her. It is of interest to note that my hairdresser had in the past lamented to me about the off-hand fashion that she had been treated by some of her customers, so I tried to be extra sensitive to her needs and even saw her socially. A year or so later, however, when my hairdresser decided to go back into accounting and no longer needed the money, she didn’t even have the courtesy to return any of my phone calls. This affirmed the ancient axiom that ‘we all get treated the way that we treat others’. My hairdresser had treated me in exactly the same way that she had complained of people treating her!
On this particular evening in March 1998 when my hairdresser came to cut my hair, she commented to me about how nicely my hair had been growing. The reason why she brought this to my attention was because the stress of living with a sex offender had the knock-on effect of afflicting me with alopecia. Although I was only in my mid-thirties, my hair was very thin and I even sported a bald spot at the front of my head. I had always prided myself on my luscious brunette hair, but for the past several years my hair just lay limp on my head. I hadn’t realised it, buy my association with Jon had even affected by body’s ability to grow hair.
My hair, it seems, wasn’t the only thing to suffer from my involvement with Jon. I hadn’t noticed the gradual change, but my normally hard nails were always breaking, sometimes down to the quick. A beauty therapist had told me that if a person goes through a really stressful period or trauma, it will show up in the nails for some time after the event because it can take the nail up to a year to grow. It wasn’t until some years later, when my nails no longer broke, that I was able to associate the trauma of my involvement with Jon with the growth of my nails.
The minute Sue, the woman I lived with, lured a man into her house, she threw me out onto the streets, thereby making me homeless.
Because I had nowhere to go, Elaine, a friend from work, asked me to move in with her. She told me that the money wasn’t important, but as it turned out, the money was very important. Elaine was being made redundant from Philips Consumer Communications, where we both worked. She was worried about the money and decided that she would learn extra income by renting out one of her rooms, which was just marginally larger than a cracker box.
Shortly after moving in with Elaine, I phoned Jon to give him my new address and phone number. When I related to him the circumstances of my move and that I had moved in with Elaine because I had nowhere to go, his reply with the standard, ‘yeah, yeah’. The moment Jon made that sarcastic response to something that had caused me such anguish, I knew there was no point in discussing my personal problems with him because he was simply wasn’t interested.
When Elaine left Philips, she got a job at Racal, Jon’s old company. She also got back together with her estranged boyfriend and therefore had no further need of me. I noticed a change in her personality immediately, but since I had nowhere else to go, put on a happy face and tried to make the best of a bad situation.
Elaine knew all about my personal problems and helped me through my difficult time by telling me that she wanted me out of her house. The excuse she gave me that the she had claustrophobia. Elaine knew all about mental illness because she told me that she had suffered from agoraphobia in the past, her father had been an alcoholic, her sister suffered from post natal depression, one of her brothers was homosexual, and another brother hadn’t had sex with his wife for over eight years. If anyone should have had any understanding of what I was going through, it should have been Elaine, which makes her actions even that more inexcusable. Before Elaine made me homeless, however, she made sure that she made a point of speaking to all of my co-workers at Philips Consumer Communications and told them that I had only been invited to stay with her for a short time, but I had worn out my welcome. That, of course, was in variance to what was said to me because her exact words to me were, ‘You can stay as long as you like.’
Elaine also told her family that she had to ask me to leave because of the safety and protection of her children. As far as I could see, Elaine was the only one in the house doing all of the screaming and hitting of her children.
The next house I moved into was a family home. I stayed there one night because I wasn’t allowed to use the phone and couldn’t have any visitors.
I then moved in with the son of a woman who worked at Country Casuals for three weeks. It was made crystal clear to me from the very beginning that I was only staying there as a favour and I needed to make some alternative living arrangements quickly. I was therefore put under enormous pressure to find another place to live, and soon.
Within a week of moving out of Elaine’s, she phoned me at work and told me that she had just received her bank statement. I, apparently, had lived in her house for a week and hadn’t paid any rent for a whole week. So much for money not being an issue.
I paid Elaine £220 a month for a room that was even too small for a bed, and never complained once about the situation that I had been forced into. During the conversation, I agreed to give Elaine some more money, but since I have never seen her socially since leaving her home, it wasn’t possible for me to keep my promise.
As a favour to another friend, I agreed to move in with her mother even though I had serious reservations about doing so. When I spoke to Joan, my prospective landlady, my first impression of her was that she was a real bitch with a capital B. Since I was under so much pressure to make alternative living arrangements, however, I didn’t feel as if I had much choice in the matter and decided to take the accommodation she was offering, against my better judgement.
On the day that I moved in with Joan she took advantage of my vulnerability and raised my rent by £20. Since I had already moved my things into the house, there wasn’t a great deal that I could do about it.
Although Joan had originally said that I could take incoming telephone calls, she behaved so badly whenever a call did come for me that I didn’t feel comfortable giving the number out. Joan’s behaviour in the house was so erratic and antisocial that even her daughter felt compelled to apologise for her behaviour, which should be an indicator to anyone just how bad the situation was.
I tried my best to stay out of Joan’s way because I knew that even the act of breathing was enough to antagonise her. One evening, therefore, when I heard the phone ring, I knew that even if the call it was for me, Joan would not allow me to accept it.
I heard Joan say, ‘Yes, she lives here……’
I knew that I must be the topic of conversation, but Joan didn’t seem willing to discuss it and I didn’t feel that I could ask her. A day or so later I received some post, which had come from Jon. It contained a note, stating that there was a job in Newbury going for at least £16,000 per annum. I though it odd that Jon should be taking an interest in my career, but nothing much surprised me anymore.
It was also about that time that I found the situation at Philips to be so untenable that I had no other alternative but to leave. Having no job and friends, I tried my best to be friendly, polite, and not do anything to upset Joan. It was most difficult, however, trying to find another job when I didn’t even have a phone to use. Despite this, I was able to get a three-month maternity leave cover to work for Snap-On Tools in a little village called Bramley, which is situated on the train line between Basingstoke and Reading.
A couple of weeks after I started working for Snap-On Tools, I woke up one Sunday morning and started working around the house. Even though I had nothing and no one, I still tried to put on a happy face. Joan came downstairs into the kitchen in her white dressing gown and as soon as she realised I was in the kitchen, she left in haste.
I was hurt by Joan’s behaviour, but by that time had become used to being treated as an untouchable. I went upstairs into the little sitting room that I had been given to use and started typing some correspondence. Joan walked into the room, handed me a letter, and fled downstairs. I opened the envelope to find a letter, addressed to a ‘Jackie’. I had been living with Joan all those weeks, and she didn’t even know my name!
The letter was essentially evicting me from her house for no apparent reason. Although Joan’s behaviour had been very bizarre in recent weeks, I certainly never expected to be evicted because I had done my very best to keep peace in the house. That in itself was no easy task because Joan had a very abusive personality and a cruel streak not dissimilar to that of my own mother.
When I asked Joan why she was evicting me, her only reply was, ‘I’m not ready to be with other people.’ The fact that Joan would admit to such a thing was in and of itself a statement of how ill she really was.
‘But how will you get by without the money?’, I asked Joan. The only reason why she had me in her house was because she needed the money.
‘I’ll be just fine.’, was Joan’s reply.
Joan wasn’t prepared to discuss the matter. The mother of one of my best friends had used me just like Sue and Elaine had, and when she no longer needed me, she also cast me aside.
I was pulling my hair out trying to find another place to live, and Joan wasn’t making it any easier for me. I didn’t have access to a phone, which made it all the more difficult for me to ring people who advertised rooms. My boss at work, another abuser, wasn’t very sympathetic to my plight, which made it all the more difficult to use the phone at work to try and sort out my living arrangements. I was in a real mess.
The Saturday morning following my eviction letter, I woke up to Joan running through the house yelling and screaming.
Joan starting pounding on my bedroom door, and when I got up to open the door, she screeched, ‘I want you out of this house by 7:00 tonight. If you aren’t out, I will have someone here to physically remove you!’
I followed Joan downstairs and tried to calm her down, but it seemed as if she had gone completely mad. Joan’s mind had reverted to another place and time, so it was very difficult for me to try to reason with her.
‘What you are doing is illegal,’ I asserted myself to Joan.
‘So, sue me!’, the crazed woman spat back at me as she took a drag off a cigarette. ‘You are intentionally trying antagonise me by slamming doors and keeping me awake at night!’, she screeched.
‘But how can you say that?’, I asked Joan in earnest. ‘I haven’t even been here to antagonise you. Besides, I have nowhere to go.’
It was my declaration to Joan that I had nowhere to go that she reverted to a past time that must have been very traumatic for her.
In this altered state of consciousness, Joan mumbled, ‘I know. I know what it is like to have to leave someone’s home. I had a small child to think about, too.’
When Joan was speaking to me, she clearly wasn’t in the present. She had gone to that awful time in the past where she herself had been evicted from someone’s house and had nowhere to go. Joan’s life experiences must have undoubtedly warped her mind because instead of vowing that she would never treat anyone the way that she had been treated, she decided that she would hurt others before they had a chance to hurt her.
Joan was, in many ways, very much like my own mother. Joan had become so demented that she decided she was going to treat others just as badly as she had been treated, if not worse. Interesting enough, it is well known amongst the mental health professionals that people who have been abused tend to abuse others, which perpetuates the never ending cycle of abuse within our society.
I managed to calm Joan and told her that I had already made plans for the day, but if she wanted me to cancel those plans and try to find another place to live, I would. I suppose that some temporary sanity came to Joan because she told me that she didn’t want me to cancel my plans for the day.
But of course, my day had already been ruined. I went ahead with what I had intended to do, but the woman who I spent the day with was clearly very tired of me telling her all of my problems. How on earth was I supposed to enjoy myself after my horrendous marriage, unreliable friends, and sinister landlords. There is no doubt in my mind that I made a very bad impression on this woman, but I was coping the best way I could all on my own, with no help from anyone, and vast amounts of hindrance from just about everyone I happened to meet.
That evening I walked the streets for hours, not wanting to go back to the house that was supposed to be called a home, wondering what big brute Joan had found to throw me out of the house. When I did arrive home, no one was there. There is no doubt in my mind that if Joan could have persuaded someone to threaten me with physical violence to get me out of her house she would have. Because of Joan’s personality disorder, however, she wasn’t very well thought of and therefore had few, if any, friends to do her evil bidding.
In addition to the fact that Joan had physically threatened me, she had my belongings locked up in her garage. She saw my belongings as a ransom of sorts. The only way, therefore, that I was able to get my things back from Joan was to tell Lynda, Joan’s daughter, what her mother had been getting up to in that house.
Lynda suggested that I try to talk to Joan, but I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to do anything to antagonise Joan any more that she already was.
Lynda had made the mistake of once telling me that Joan ran around the house with a knife in her hand, chasing one of her husbands, hoping to stab him. I simply wasn’t prepared to be Joan’s latest casualty. I had enough wounds that had been inflicted on my by violent people already.
When I related to Lynda Joan’s bizarre, anti-social behaviour, our friendship essentially ended then and there. Lynda, who had been one of my best friends, simply couldn’t come to terms with the fact that her mother was very seriously ill and needed psychiatric help. She tried to make excuses for Joan, saying that she had a very sharp tongue, wasn’t a monster, and was really a very nice person underneath, but we both knew the truth. We both knew that Joan was a very disturbed person who was in reality a nasty piece of work.
One thing that Joan did do, which I thought to be very peculiar at the time, was to take a sheet of paper and wedge it in her bedroom door. When I saw what Joan had done, I thought she was being paranoid.
For some reason, Joan must have thought that I was going to go into her room and tampering with her things, which I never did. The entire time that I lived in that insane asylum that Joan tried to call a home, I had never once violated her privacy by entering her room or looking at any of her personal belongings.
I moved out of Joan’s house on a Thursday while she was at work. I intentionally didn’t tell Joan when I was moving because it didn’t take a genius to figure out that she is one of those individuals who likes to stir up trouble. I had enough problems and I didn’t want to be a part of her latest display of entertainment for the neighbours.
The person who I feel the most sorry for is Lynda. Lynda was such a nice person and she certainly didn’t deserve to have a mother like that. Deep down inside, I am sure that Lynda knew that her mother was clearly not well, but tried to deny it and pretend that she was normal.
Evidently, Joan’s personality disorder has been with her for most of her life because Lynda told me that she didn’t care if I went around telling other people that her mother was a ‘psycho’, but she didn’t want me saying it to her. I had never once made mention to the fact that I thought that Joan was a ‘psycho’ (even though I did), so I can only assume that Lynda has had to defend her mother’s actions since childhood.
When I did move out of the house, one of the neighbours told me that nobody in the neighbourhood liked Joan, that she had been turned into the council for defrauding the government on more than one occasion, and that everybody who had ever lived with her thought that she was mentally unstable.
A couple of weeks after I had moved out of Joan’s house, m friend Darren went over there to see me, not knowing that I had moved out of Joan’s house. It was at that time that Joan told Darren that I had no respect for anybody else’s personal property.
It hurt me greatly that Joan would say such things about me because I tried my best to do as she asked. I tried to treat her the way I would have liked to have been treated. The only consolation that I have with regard to the things that Joan said about me was that she may very well have been able to say that I had no respect for other people’s personal property, but at least she couldn’t say that I was crazy, which is what everybody who knew her has ever said about her.