“Perhaps we should reconsider the refried bean option” says K, as she cleans them off the kitchen cupboard. I think about this as I remove the combinations of beans, cheese and potato from various parts of the floor. The table is also splattered and Willow the cat sniffs hopefully, but retreats on establishing the absence of meat. A dog would have it cleared in no time. K goes on to say that it always seems to be the beans that are thrown and last time they were found in parts of the kitchen for weeks. She may be right, but these were requested by L, specifically.
In the corner, curled up against a cupboard is a thin, sobbing girl. Screaming and swearing were followed by attempts to smash her way out of the house, restrained by K and I. We have no training in this. K is distressed later when she recalls grabbing L by the throat to pull her back from the door, but this was panic and fear, not intention. The girl is now wailing softly and resists all attempts to soothe her. We have removed the medicine cabinet as this was the first place she ran to and it is hidden in one of our usual places. All sharp knives have been removed and later when C prepares dinner, he will have to find them. In a short space of time, the crying girl will become my daughter again. We help her from the floor and to the sofa, where she returns to a foetal position with her face away. Her father calls to see her and attempts to speak sense to her. K and I complete the clearing up, J completes a master class in eating and C arrives home. I make a protein shake to replace the lost meal and ask L’s father to help her drink it. He says the unit advise her to calm down first – he called their helpline. I go in again and see he is checking football scores on his phone. Resisting the urge to pull it from his hands and smash it, I go to L. She allows me to hold her and I sit there with her. C brings the shake back and I tell L she needs to drink it. I say I know how she feels, as if she just wants to die, because every single little thing is too hard and hurts too much. I say that I feel just the same and if there was a way the two of us could sleep and never wake up, I would sometimes joyfully do this, but what stops me is the devastation it would cause to others and while I may think dark hateful thoughts about myself, I cannot ignore that others love me and need me to keep going on. So, I get out of bed, when it physically hurts to do so and I keep carrying on, sometimes better than at present, but I keep going. And so must she, and this means drinking this glass of milk shake. She holds out a hand for it and slowly it goes. Her father comes back into the room with K and congratulates her, telling her she’ll be eating a four course meal soon. I see K’s face wince in a “Why doesn’t he get this” way. Then L and I sleep, on the sofa, wrapped up in the usual furry blanket. This is the way we live now, accepting the chaos and misery as part of our day to day lives, cleaning up food, hiding knives and other means of harm, hoping that one day things may change. But after two years, you really do start to wonder.