I am 33 years old, born in the same year as the announcement of the state of emergency by FW de Klerk. Can't remember the party's name.
Grew up relatively poor, mostly outcasted because my sister and I didn't have Billabong and Nike clothes. My mom made ours. My dad was an alcoholic and isolated us. After my mom hit him back, he stopped being physically abusive and focused all his attention on being mentally abusive. Or emotionally. Whatever.
He died when I was 12 and you'd think it gets better but it didn't. TBH life was good when he was alive. Rent was paid, there was food, even occasionally ice cream. Structure. Discipline. A lot of crying, but when you're a kid that's easy to forget. Car rides on Sundays. Christmas lunch. Sure, you never knew who was coming home - happy dad or raging alcoholic Father. But either way, whichever one, in the stupid childlike trust of youth, we still had a bed to sleep in and dinner.
After my father's death, my mother's family (younger brother) swindled her out of the little that my dad left us.
I tried to get a job but I was 13 and the uncle at the shop said no. My mom threatened to give us pills and put us in the car and gas us all. Today, I wish she'd followed through on that threat.
We lost the house; they drove away our new furniture my father had bought the year before, on the back of a cattle truck. Then began a long stream of sleeping over at a "friend's", then a pastor, then living with an elderly gentleman in the back room of his house, on a farm, in a residential guesthouse in one room, then renting two in a lady's house, then managing to rent two, and finally 3 rooms, in an old boarding house turned into single room apartments. Shared bathroom, of course.
I was 19 when we could afford a townhouse of our own again. But our family had been lost long before then. My sister finished school and fled the town as soon as that matric certificate landed.
I stuck around. Where could I go? I did first year of a BA degree through correspondence while working any job I could find. Couldn't finish the degree, because there was no money. Every time I think, "This year I can pay UNISA", something else goes wrong.
I started working for a real salary. My fiancee cheated on me and buggered off. I met a nice young man.
I got a better job for a terrifying man who trained me to fluently speak Bastard. I love him to this day.
We moved from the townhouse out to a farm. After sleeping in the living room for three months because of the policeman next door's noisy music, we got a chance to move to a different farm. I cycled to work on a bicycle who's head was on skew and the chain kept coming off. The police never did anything about the noise. I started getting panic attacks when taxis with loud bass passed me in the road. (If you know South Africa you know how many of those there are.) I have been diagnosed with misophonia, due to that episode on the farm.
I was misdiagnosed with depression in 2010 and put on anti-psychotics. I became suicidal. The more I told the state psychiatrist "I am suicidal", and showed her the cuts on my arms, the higher the dosage became. Then they changed the meds, which it made it worse. I was admitted to hospital, in hysterics. Thanks to our country's brilliant healthcare, despite the fact that I tried to hang myself that night in the bathroom, I was released the next day.
Our private doctor tested me for hypothyroidism. Ah, so that's what was wrong the whole time.
Cheater came back, hit me, I called the police on him and sent him on his merry way. The Portuguese man swam in and out of my life. I didn't care about him but I wanted to adopt his two daughters who I loved as my own but I wasn't financial enough, I was too young (24?) I didn't have my own home. It's now 2020 and I'm still waiting for the call from the social workers. My girls are gone, I will never see them again, hold them again, read them bedtime stories again.
It took me a year to recover from the burnout and the antidepressants, while faithfully taking my thyroid meds.
I got my job back, the one I lost while being pinned down in the hospital for a tranquilizer shot. For a while, life was good. I could buy my own shampoo again. We worked damn hard but we could go out for Sunday drives again. The nice young man moved in on the farm.
And then it went wrong. The owner of the company gambled away the profits and wouldn't pay us. The company folded. The farmer's son decided he was afraid in the big house on the hill, brightly lit by lights on the farm and the big road that ran before it and he wants the house we're living in, the one set against the trees, at the back of the farm, with no outside lights. We had to move.
Nice young man decided he rather wants to be with mommy, so he moved back home. Without salaries we couldn't find a place. I found a room for my mom to rent.
I had just started dating the man I'd admired for years, the man I am now married to. Out of desperation I asked if I could crash on his couch for a week or two. He said why don't you just come live here, we're in a committed relationship aren't we?
We made it out of the farmhouse just in time to not have to face a cattle truck a second time.
My job wasn't enough to cover food or rent in the new apartment. We lived off charity and donations. I rode a scooter for two years, rain or shine, gale force winds, getting pushed off the road by trucks, taxis and SUV's, to the next town for my job and it still wasn't enough.
I got a new job in my home town. Pay was the same, but at least I didn't have to drive to Wellington anymore, I could walk.
We carried on. In 2017 something snapped inside of me. I've been angry since January 2017 and nothing I do makes it go away. In 2018 I got a promotion. For the first time since 2013, we didn't have to count everything we put in the basket. I'm not talking about luxuries, two-ply toilet paper, fillet steak and cream cheese. I don't use Pantene shampoo and demand Gilette razors. The tomato sauce doesn't have to be All Gold. Woolworths isn't an option, not even a desire. I mean we could put a packet of mince, discount pasta and "house brand" tomato puree in the basket and not worry that there wouldn't be money left for tomorrow.
Then last year August, after complaining about the diesel truck being idled in front of my bedroom at 6am every Sunday morning, we were forced from our apartment to the new one. My mother lives with us, and apparently 3 people in a 1 bedroom flat is against the rules - but the 6 people in the 1 bedroom flat (who idles their truck in the middle of the night) is okay. I checked. They're still living there.
The new apartment costs R1500 more than the old one. After I paid all the bills and the rent, I have R200 left. (It does not include the hypothyroidism medication, my husband's amitryptiline or my mother's blood pressure medication.) No exaggeration. Exactly the same place we were in 2015, 16, 17 and part of 18.
The new apartment is nice. It's peaceful, so I can relax and not feel too anxious about not being able to provide. Except since December the neighbour directly above us moved out, didn't cancel her contract and instead gave the place (empty) to her 18/19 year old washout son (we have to feel sorry for him because his father committed suicide last year) as a party pad. We have to listen to their music, their lewd conversation, their constant shagging. Asking them to be quiet doesn't help. We walked in there once and found 6 boys in underpants and 1 naked blonde, desperately searching for a t shirt. I am still nauseated by it.
Call the police. Did that, on the landlord's orders, after sending them recordings of the deafening noise on a Sunday afternoon. Still waiting for the police to arrive though.
The landlord said they sorted it out and he's not allowed on the premises without his mother. Except Saturday night they partied again and Sunday morning while trying to read my Bible I had to listen to the squeaking bed again.
In South Africa jobs are scarce, especially for a fifty year old white male. My husband does what he can but apparently here you don't need self defense and a baseball bat will do. Combat is all he knows, is all he's ever done. People's insensitive remarks that he should just "get a job" without taking into account his severe PTSD, his Asperger's, his PhD, his multitude of injuries that has me constantly worried that he won't be able to get out of bed (broken back, broken knee, bullet injured shoulder, etc.) has driven both of us to desperate suicidal ideations.
Every time we say something about someone not following the rules we are punished. The old ladyin the corner can complain about people's windows being open too wide for her liking and that's cool, but we're not allowed to speak out against the orgy club.
As I'm typing this we're getting ready for another bout of loadshedding. It's going to be about 38 today, no wind, just summer sun beating down.
I have to find a way to stretch a thousand rand over three weeks for food and I don't know how.
I have a headache, I am tired. I am tired of living, of fighting against a wall of misery and guilt because I know others have it worse so who am I to complain.
There are so many others things that I can't list here. The rampant sexism. The racism. The load shedding. The fact that I am trapped in this country and can't leave because I don't earn enough, no matter how hard I try. I have General Anxiety Disorder that I take hideously expensive pills for. My husband has Asperger's, PTSD and is constant pain. Yesterday he tried to get up from the couch and his knee just gave in under him. If we want it looked at, we have to go to a state hospital and there you'll die before you're helped.
No, there is no church that I know of anymore that I can ask for help. I doubt if the Salvation Army would help us. I don't know of any other instances that could/would help.
The hole is getting darker and darker and I can no longer see a way out. I have this crackling ache in my chest that I know is my heart breaking, and the hysterical tears are lodged in my jaw. I don't want to cry because I don't know if I'll be able to stop again.
We have done everything we know of to do, we have been good, and honest, and hardworking. And we've still lost. I have failed, again. Please don't tell me that I woke up this morning and that's a blessing because honest to God that's a blessing I could do without. Positive thinking and counting my blessings doesn't put food in the cupboard.
The only reason I haven't killed myself yet is because the provident fund I belong to doesn't pay out for suicide and then there'll be no one to take of my mother and my husband.
I am overwhelmed and I am tired. Every day I do my best and it's still not good enough, even though I just want to crawl into a hole and die. I've written so many suicide notes in my head. The one I wrote on Saturday even had a list of people. I'm considering having myself taken up in a mental hospital but the state is useless and I can't afford the private one. So we carry on. What else can I do?
I'm afraid, I am tired, I am burning out. I am afraid of what this is doing to my brilliant, generous, caring, warrior husband. I'm afraid that one day the frustration will be too much for him too. I'm afraid one day his knee will snap back and he won't be able to get back up and continue teaching his classes.
I'm afraid of what this is doing to my mother. Of the stress and anxiety a 70-year old woman is going through, knowing that we are trying to provide but every avenue is a dead end, every door we hope for is slammed shut, and every attempt falls short.
I have lost hope, but I have to go on, for their sake. Please, help.