I consider myself to be a fairly upbeat kind of person. I try to see the bright side of things when faced with adversity. I try to cheer others up and make them feel better. But I have to admit the past few months have seen my optimism severely challenged, and more than a little dented.
To skip to the end, I am moving house again. I love this house. I love the garden. I love the location. What I most definitely don't love is the neighbour who just happens to be my landlady. I moved in here at her request - I had been renting the house next door for the past 7 years and she asked me to rent her home because she wanted a good tenant who would stay longterm. I pressed her on this last point several times and was reassured that she was tenanting the property until her son had grown up as it was in trust for him.
So I moved in, with my daughter, and for a month everything was peachy. It was a little trying sometimes that whenever I ventured into the garden she would pop up at the fence, or even at my front door, but at least she was friendly. Then came the first time the police and psychiatric crisis team turned up and physically wrestled her to the ground and hauled her, kicking and shouting, out to a police car to take her to the hospital mental health facility.
Then came a repeat of the above, but this took a lot longer as she apparently barricaded herself in somewhere and so firstly my car was blocked in (we share a driveway) and later blocked out (after I had managed to leave eventually and then returned).
The following day she surprised us by asking us to feed her two dogs for a couple of days as she and her partner were going to the beach for a break. She gave us the key and was gone half an hour later. We discovered she had only left a small piece of mouldy dog roll, one dog was simply tied by her lead to an outdoor chair, and the other to a sun-umbrella stand. It was the heat of summer and they had no shade. Of course they both managed to wind themselves to the point where they couldn't move. We sorted out proper running wires for them and bought them food, and she didn't return for another week!!
When she returned she was completely unrepentant, very friendly, laughing about her incarcerations etc. Apparently the day she had come and asked us to look after the dogs she had absconded from the unit, spent a day or two on the run before being picked up again, and had just been released again.
The next day she Cut Us Dead.
We have no idea why.
And nearly two months later she still pointedly ignores us, or glares at us with what appears to be real hatred. Her two dogs are allowed to run loose and have bitten or gone for everyone that comes up the driveway.
My daughter and I have been keeping our heads low and saving to move when we were a bit more financially straight, but yesterday we received an eviction notice as our landlady has decided to move into this house herself. Words really don't convey the awful atmosphere outside the house, or the anger that we keep finding nails and long screws behind my car tyres, or that another neighbour reported that our landlady had allowed her dogs to attack one of our precious cats on our property and stood there watching - and refused to let our neighbour intervene.
We know she is unwell, but we have felt too vulnerable being her tenants to address it, and knowing she is mentally sick doesn't change how much her behaviour has affected us. We have been feeling sick and stressed, only happy when we are inside and out of sight and with our precious pets all accounted for safely. It hasn't helped my stress levels that I suffered a spinal injury at work in January and had to have several weeks off work on a significantly reduced income.
I feel like we've been doing it tough for the past two months, and sometimes - like yesterday when the eviction notice arrived - it was hard not to feel resentful that some people seem to glide through life with hardly a hitch while my life is so often a struggle.
Today we found a house - not nearly as nice as this one, down-at-heel and poorly decorated and with a jungle for a garden (both front and back), but it stands on its own section. No shared driveway. No weird landlady. No bad vibes. We move on 6th May and although it is hard work moving I really can't wait. Again, I have been reassured that it is longterm, and again I have to take that on trust. But the house is sunny, it has all the basics and it all works, a log fire, and it's fully insulated, and private. I am going to paint the aubergine walls that darken my bedroom, and the lime green in the room that will be my daughter's, and the dark blue of the little spare room. And I am going to have to prune overgrown trees and bushes that block light from windows, and make a garden. And ultimately make a home.
But at least, for the first time since moving into this place, I will have that sense of freedom and lightness again. And, as I said to my daughter only a few weeks ago, we are lucky. Despite our many struggles, we are mostly happy and will recover from setbacks like these. We can make a home wherever we go. We have done it several times before, and we will absolutely nail it again this time!