I look around me now. Boxes out, and overflowing. That shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I signed everything over to him, because he wanted it, and I didn’t care, I just wanted to be free, and to enable my children to still maintain a life in our community (academic studies, and mother instinct, told me how important that is).

He insisted I couldn’t throw anything out though, because it was ‘his’. I respected the law, I adhered to the decision I made, when he did a drive by and noticed a crappy $5 stainless steel bathroom bin, that had started to rust, and put out with the rubbish, and was told, I couldn’t do that, because it was his, and he didn’t approve of me throwing it out.

I wasn’t allowed to throw anything out, even the junk – it was his. But then, two days before I had to vacate the family home, he came in and cleared out what he wanted. He didn’t take that bin, or the multitiude of stuff that belonged to him. He took the cream, and then sold the fridge to my brother (I had to end up renting one).

He left me, with a huge housefull of shit, that he hadn’t allowed me to throw out, because he was the rightful owner, but then never took any of it with him – apart from the furniture, and the best stuff of course, and the stuff he could sell to my family.

Because I’d been banned from throwing anything away, and being a law abiding citizen, I was left with this houseful of junk, to supposedly be able to try and clear away in two days. I was heading to a tiny rental flat, and there was certainly no room for it there, but time was against me, and I didn’t know just how much time would be against me as things evolved over the next couple of days.

Thanks to a good friend, who wasn’t even that at the time, more a stranger, who had a good heart. I managed to chuck what I could into boxes, figuring I’d have time to sort through things when I got to the flat. But even then, there wasn’t enough room, or boxes. Two trailer loads of shit was left. I felt guilt. I’d packaged it all up in the driveway, but hadn’t had time to arrange for removal. Again, this new friend helped me out (I’ve since learned the contents were strewn down an alley way in Fitzroy – which I applaud, and hope someone found something useful).

A couple of days after I moved into the flat – which was piled high with all this stuff that I wasn’t meant to own, but had to by default because the owner, my ex, wouldn’t let me throw it out, but then didn’t want it when it came to the crunch, I was oh so fucking lucky (the gods were definitely smiling) to buy a teeny, modest unit in the suburb next to where I used to live at auction (I shouldn’t have got it for the price I did, which was the maximum I could afford, but it happened). This was exciting for me. I didn’t think it was possible. But I had so desperately wanted to keep my children in the same area, going to the same school, to be part of the same community, that it did almost feel like a gift from the gods.

But then, on the day of the morning, that I’d had this wonderful victory, and was feeling powerful about moving forward, I had an accident. A genuine accident, not a car accident or anything (been there, done that) no, this was about the most innocent, and ironic accident you could imagine. Second date, with a charming gentleman, who in the first 10 minutes, turned off the lights to show me his glow in the dark ghostbusters mug, and me, feeling the call of nature, got up to find the loo, and instead found myself plunging down some steep stairs.

Blood everywhere, hysteria, the ambulance, neck brace, drugs drugs drugs, x-rays from head to toe (yes, I’d been through that before, but I was unconscious the first time, when I was 14, so couldn’t remember), and the knowledge that I’d majorly fucked up this date. The results ended up being worse than I expected – broken ankle, ruptured something in two of my fingers which required a lot o painful physio, and I still can’t straighten them, and a shoulder injury which ended up costing me over ten grand to get fixed enough to at least be able to undo my bra.

So, that’s where I was at, within 24 hours of getting to the flat. I’d been deprived the opportunity of dumping shit because of my ex’s games before getting there, so I did what I could, and then I wasn’t mobile in that six weeks I had in the flat (where I’d planned to throw 95% of what was in those boxes out). I was fucked, and it followed me.

Enter PTSD, because another experience where I could (or perhaps should) have died, triggered all sorts of other feelings, things to deal with…anxiety…depression…the need to get an intervention order against my ex for full on stalking, intimidation and threats – which had persisted after I’d moved out of the family home…just a day in the life really….

And I couldn’t do it then – my focus. Purely and simply, was my children, and survival. Without the former, the latter wouldn’t have mattered. Toss in as followed, in my weakness, being fucked around, and majorly exploited by new people who wandered into my life – and I do admit, that only happened because of the weakness, sadness, and worthlessness I felt within myself. But the driving force to want to be everything I could for my children, and give them the best of me, even though I knew I was failing, became a daily struggle. So those boxes of shit – and more accumulated shit from others who had entered my life since, hung, sullying my environment, but I couldn’t find the time, or the energy to face them, clear them out, dump them at the tip where they belonged.

I admit, I was vulnerable, and some people saw that, took advantage of it, and played me. I’m embarrassed about that now. But I know I did the best I could at the time, with a pure heart, and genuine intention, of wanting to help others to not have to face alone, the kind of pain I’d felt, or the experiences I’d been through.

But finally, after all this work, after all this battling, after all this feeling like I’m drowning under it all. I’ve got there. I can find the time and space to go through that stuff, and trash it, feeling confident, and knowing the emotional toll it’s taking on me is not going to overwhelm me.

That’s progress.

– Judi Reed, 2015