It’s lockdown so it’s either we won’t see each other at all or… My partner and I move in together, to one room in a friend's house and my van parked in the street to use as a kitchen so we can be separate from our hosts. We cut our teeth as a couple by running systematically through all the possible arguments we could have around the house. We fight about the food shopping, about following the hygiene rules, over bedtime and weekly chores. We do it well, with fire and fortissimo until I go out and sit on the front step and we text each other sorry and I love you.
They say the washing up always spoils romance, but I treasure these clashes and how we come out stronger. I treasure them because I remember growing up with the daily terror of shouting and rage and being blamed that left me weaker not stronger. There was no option to go and sit on the front step. No “sorry and I love you" afterwards, or if there was, none that really counted because these explosions never stopped, were never for a reason and so could never be resolved.
For those of you who are locked in together who can’t stand the sound of each other chewing at dinner, but who can argue, listen to each other, shout and scream and respect each other, forgive each other, love each other, argue once or twice on each topic and then solve it, I would wish you every happiness but I know you are already making it.
For those of you who are locked in with someone who says they love you but whose anger you are afraid of - trust your fear. Whether you are a child or a grown-up, and whatever they call their behaviour, from “just letting off steam” to “just an argument”, if you feel afraid all the time then the real name for their behaviour is violence even if they haven’t laid a finger on you, no matter if they say sorry, and whether they are someone who says it was all your fault or if they are someone who says it’s theirs and that they won’t do it again - it isn’t ok.
*If you can leave, leave now. Go home if you are not at home or if you are at home, and you can find somewhere else to go to, go now - consider it an essential journey.
!!! IMPORTANT !!! Consider your safety before attempting to leave an abusive household. For more information, advice and a listening ear Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247 or visit https://www.refuge.org.uk/
Since lockdown began, calls and contacts to Refuge's National Domestic Abuse Helpline have rocketed by around 66%. They need urgent funds to help meet demand - visit their website to contribute.
*note - this last paragraph was not included in the recorded audio as it was considered too directive for a contemplative piece. However, it's also worth knowing that to "Move to a friend's address for several days to allow a "cooling-off" following arguments at home" IS considered an essential journey under lockdown restrictions.