It’s not just an overlocker

TW: self harm, emotional abuse


My parents are coming back in a month. Mum made it very clear they can’t afford to stay in a hotel. I was very lucky to be cast in a movement piece that could be customised for my particular braind of disability. Under the guise of “coming up to see your show” they are ensuring that I will have to quit, because it is very clear that having them here will prevent me from being able to participate.


I have DSPS. They have to be in bed by 11pm. I normally go to bed at 6am. That’s eight or nine hours, by the time they sit around drinking, fold out the bed, sit around drinking, that I can’t use my television, my kitchen, my laundry… I am stuck in my sleep room or my room, and I can’t put on music (I need music). I can’t sleep when they’re here, because if I do, I get up to find things have been rearranged and occasionally that strangers have been in the house. The day/night/day before they come is invariably spent curled up somewhere, bawling my eyes out and reminding myself of all the reasons why barricading the door is bad and I have to be good.


Naturally, the house wasn’t clean when they got here. “I will help,” Mum said, and I tried to stop her. Instead, she rearranged my kitchen, making things harder. Then she walked out. She came up again a few hours later, asked what she could do, and then walked out. I didn’t finish doing the dishes until well after I had also had to cook tea.

“I’m sorry I didn’t help, I feel bad.” Mum said. Dad took half the recycling down. Two days later they asked about the rest.

“Don’t bother,” I typed. Because, really, what does it matter if I’ve already spent half the time walking on empty PET bottles if they have a neat room to live in. I sure as hell don’t want them in here, where I stash everything I don’t want coated in nicotine and passes as objectionable.


Naturally, Mum ‘forgot’ that she’d promised to let me get takeout. She started planning meals, then complained that she’s “not this organised at home” when I pointed out, again, the meal plan stuck on the front of the fridge. I’ve been making a meal plan every time they come for two years now, since Mum chucked a fit about cooking because she “never gets a break”. Now I don’t, and I don’t even have an oven, and I went two visits without any food at all because I wasn’t included in her meals. She decided on having lunch out before the show, bought meat and complained that the cheese wasn’t nice. Then she shoved the meat in the fridge, then watched me running around the house trying to find it. “Obviously you’re looking for something,” she said.

She didn’t think, she said, after confessing she put it in the fridge without it even being wrapped. I’m vegan. I am vegan because meat makes me violently ill, I’m anaphylactic to dairy (so of course she brings her own dairy milk from home, as well), and when I started cutting things out (after being forced to eat them until I moved out), I started reacting to everything else. They can’t even keep the dishes separate, so I have to wash their dishes in disinfectant to keep contamination to a minimum.

“It’s very nice,” she said about tofu scramble, entirely forgetting that she’s had it before. Not like I asked.


Same like every time I was dressed in outside clothes. “That looks nice.” I didn’t ask. My outfit is not up for comment.


Tuesday we went into the mall. Mum kept running off. Dad had to chase her once. Another time I did, and I had to grab her jumper and pull her back. She says it’s because she can’t hear. Instead of staying with me, she can be 20 or 30 metres away while I’m waiting outside a store. I tried to take them back to the car and they wouldn’t get in the lift. “I thought you didn’t want to go,” she said. Then they told me they got lost trying to find the car on their own, because I hadn’t shown them the lift.

We went for fish and chips, and I was so grateful that the fish and chip shop people know me, because we ate there and they brought out two plates of chips, so that I could have chips which weren’t served with their fish. I nearly cried.

“How do they know you, though?” they kept asking. Never mind that we’ve been going there for twenty years.


Wednesday we had the show. I had prepared as best I could. I managed to convince them to prebook parking and explained how it worked. We took a picnic instead of eating at home first, so it was very rushed, as I had booked the carpark later to accommodate, knowing it would be very busy there and that the earliest I would be able to leave, given that I had actual work to do prior, was 11am. Eat lunch, go in, park, go to show, sneak in snacks.

Except I went to put the serviettes, cutlery, and bags for the snacks in the bag, and the bag was gone. We ended up in the city, only able to eat half of lunch, because there was no way to cut the apple and no serviettes for the blueberry danish. The bags had been snatched from me when we got out of the car, too, so I had to arrange them as I limped, one starletto stuck on the bottom of the car, my wallet left on the back seat, while I was being yelled at for limping and being in pain. I ended up taking my shoes off to walk, because without the starlettos the heels got caught in each gap in the footpath.

“We need to eat now; we don’t have time,” I tried to say.

“Let’s go eat on the river! It’s so nice today!” And so, I had to sit outside, the sunlight stabbing my head.

When we got inside, finally, Mum ran off again. I found the very last seat and tried to arrange everything. Every time I put something on the floor, my Dad grabbed it and put it on the chair or on the table.

“No, Dad, I’m sorting, I need them down here.”

It took Mum half an hour to get a coffee. “I didn’t think it would be so busy,” she said. “I’m going to complain.”

You wanted to go to a matinee because you thought it would be less stressful.


Then I got yelled at in the show. Turns out, unsurprisingly, that a show that spends ten minutes establishing that people don’t like to be called by a whistle is rather triggering for someone who had to walk out of their previous employment, in part, because one of their direct supervisors used to call them by whistling.

“Stop moving,” I was told. Never mind that I’d already scratched through the skin on my hand, and I couldn’t have my snacks because the picnic meant I’d had to make a show of eating, while in my corset, and Mum had staked mine out for her own anyway. We were in the front row, so I couldn’t do anything else with my hands or I’d distract the performers.


“Oh, you left your wallet in the car too!” Mum said, when we finally got back to the car, after we’d stood around waiting for her to finish smoking. Despite it being illegal to smoke within three metres of a covered bus stop, you know. “We could have come back!”

We didn’t have time, because you wanted a picnic. And Dad had decided to have someone come inspect the garage door, and broke it, because he decided I (despite being perfectly capable for the four months they refused to have it fixed) wasn’t able to put it up myself. Also, that it didn’t need to be unlocked first.

But you know. I looked nice, whatever.

Then I had to remind then that they’d promised takeout. “That was so nice! That was so easy!” they said after. But I was exhausted from reminding them, again, of how to order, that it was possible to order… I put on a miniseries, and fell asleep on the floor, having argued about where I would get to lie down, because Dad now also refuses to sit on the couch, and won’t move his chair to see the TV. It was the only peaceful sleep I got all week, and only because somehow my brain sees Sean Bean as safe and I always sleep through everything he does.  We were going to finish it the next day.


I made the mistake of showing Dad the overlocker I’d bought. He promised, when my handbags all broke, months ago, that he would bring up his overlocker and fix them. I bought one on sale, so he wouldn’t have to bring it, and then he could FINALLY show me how to thread it and I could line things properly rather than spend three hours hand-sewing lining on everything. So when I got up on Thursday, after getting an hour more sleep, he’d taken it outside, unpacked it, and set it up on the picnic table.  Outside, you know, where there’s sun. He took my fabric, a 1m remnant meant for lining glasses cases, and started making corset bags. Without me. And he finished two, entirely too large and along the wrong grain, without the ribbon channel, before he tried to interrupt me cooking lunch to ask if they were what I wanted.

wanted to spend time with him, like when I was little, and he would make one half to show me and then I would make the other half. I wanted him to show me how to thread the machine instead of teaching myself from YouTube and the instruction book (which is now missing, thank you). I was going to set up the table inside and put on Sean Bean and it was going to be a Good Day.

Ended up my day off was an emergency trip to Spotlight, because he needed the sewing machine as well, and in getting it out, managed to lose half my thread and my special red buttons, which magically, I needed, because Mum wanted a gift for my uncle. And, because I had asked and before Dad started, he had not cut me a square for lining the glasses case I was making, I needed new lining as well.


When I got back, the overlocker was packed up, and Mum and Dad were fixing the toilet, because Dad finally noticed it was broken, and Mum had finally snapped and made him do it. Or something. So much for Sean Bean; I ended up chucking on an anime just to make sound, and that’s when everyone sat down to watch it – except it was yaoi. Yeah.


Then Mum got upset because my favourite player was injured and dropped from the team since she’d come up especially to watch him, and then that we lost. I was upset that I’d spent half the day making a blueberry bread pudding, soaking it in rice milk and everything, only for Mum to refuse to eat it because it was “too hard” and that they’d decided to eat their very not vegan pizza off plates rather than paper towelling, so I had to run around washing up as well. I would get them their own plates and cutlery, but they’d either not use it, or wash it all together anyway.


They left on Friday. Mum started crying, because she didn’t want to leave. I hadn’t been able to sleep. I kept hearing them in my head. I was hallucinating them, little versions of them walking on my desk as I tried to write. It is still so cold in here, because I had to have all the windows open for the smoke. Mum had yelled at me for that too; I had one window a little bit open and she had trouble closing it. She couldn’t find Dad, and wouldn’t ask me, even though she saw me open it.


The absolute most hurtful thing from Mum was when she was complaining about Dad. I’m in the middle of whatever domestic they have going, all the time.

“He’s like you,” she said. “He can’t adjust to losing his job. He won’t even talk to anyone from work, even to be polite.”

Because my brain disorder, disproportionately presenting because of PTSD from being systemically bullied, a situation which she repeatedly told me was my fault and she wouldn’t help me leave, is comparable to whatever my dad’s got going on? It’s not even hereditary. She says she can’t cope with him either, but refuses to leave.


I have a very tiny amount left in savings, enough for food for two months. If they can’t afford a hotel, if that’s their excuse, I will book them a room and go without food. They won’t take it, though.


Meanwhile, I’m being sent for a psych eval for disability. I need to prove my PTSD is bad, so they’re sending me to a psychologist, who probably has no idea how my brain is actually broken. They sent me a letter about it. I hid the letter before my parents came, so they wouldn’t find out and insist on staying “to be supportive”. (They’ve done that before actually. I had a psych eval for workers comp, the psychologist yelled at me for not being able to talk, then was very contrite when he realised that I wasn’t just faking it, and suddenly, the next time I had an appointment they were here. To be supportive. And they were rather pissed when I chose not to attend. Or rather, their presence made attending need more spoons than I had. Like performing will.) Now, of course, because I hid it while I was having a massive breakdown, I don’t know where it is, so I don’t know where the appointment is. Funnily enough, all the searches I have tried have no record of the psychologist. It’s not in my online services account as a mandatory appointment. But, the letter was very carefully vaguely threatening – if I don’t go, I don’t get disability. If I don’t get disability, I’m not eligible for priority government housing. I can’t access emergency housing because to do that I have to call them using a paid phone number, which I can only do with the relay, who yell at me for not being fast enough and then harass me all night if I end the call.


When I was making food today I saw the corset bags and started crying. I tried to unpick them, but I ended up having to cut the seaming off. The fabric is now useless for anything, because it’s cut to such a weird size. I tried to get the overlocker out, but it’s stuck in the foam, the book is missing, and I have to remind myself that I went without food for two weeks to buy it so that I don’t smash it. I don’t want it in the house, because it’s a ball of dark negative energy. I tried to put it outside, but then I kept thinking ‘what if it rains it’s too expensive to get rained on’. I was keeping it in the garage, but I have to put the bin out, and it was on top of the bin.


But I don’t want it in the house. I don’t want to look at it. It’s contaminated, for me, because it was meant to be mine and instead my dad was just like ‘oh shiny! i want to play!’ and took it and now it’s set up for him, the same way I can’t use the sewing machine because ‘there’s a trick to it’ because instead of threading it, the thread has to be pulled in some arcane way that puts more tension on it. I suppose I should be grateful he left it threaded, except the threads are so tangled from the spindles being removed and shoved in a box under foam and then thrown around when I tried to get it out, that it needs to be rethreaded.


And now that the book is gone, I literally have no way of working out how to fix it.


Except, you know, waiting a month for them to come back and mess things up some more. Which is, obviously, the very last thing I need.


Now, of course, I have to go to the psychiatrist tomorrow. He will tell me it’s not so bad, express confusion that I’m not getting better because I’m not at work anymore, even though the actual situation is ongoing. He will offer to have his secretary call to find out the psych eval appointment for me, because he doesn’t know that she hates me and is a rather insensitive person (she yelled at me for forgetting my glasses, after making me drop everything to sign the forms, while I was picking up my bag first because trying to put a broken bag over your shoulder is ten times harder when you’re holding two pairs of glasses, an mp3 player, and a teddy bear – literally less than a minute after I put them down in the first place, after not being able to sit for one minute to put anything even in my pocket. And! She yelled at me for arriving while she wasn’t there. Seriously.) or understand that the problem is that it’s at 11am and that I had to hide the letter in the first place. He will also yell at me for not going to the neurologist appointment, which I was never informed about in the first place.

Then, on Tuesday, I have to go to class, put up with my teacher complaining about other students, and asking how everything went.


And of course, being here isn’t as comforting when I go to get something and it’s not there because I had to hide it/put it away/it was moved for me because “it was in the way”/they were just here.


Mum broke my blocking board which I made especially for the blanket she demanded – a 160cm x 160cm monstrosity I’ve been working on for a year already. I finished another square to put on it, after I spent half an hour fixing it and sliding the squares on the new needles.

“You finished another one!”

Yes, Dad, it’s so obvious you don’t even need to comment on it.


I have been crying for four hours straight now. I don’t know what else I can do. I’m sure it all seems so little to everyone else. It all adds up, though. My brother moved to Germany to get away from it. I had plans for London. Unfortunately, they make you pass a medical exam and have employment and a ton of savings before you move there, to prove that you won’t need any assistance. My brain means I will need the NHS. Bye bye London.