Homeless for the Holidays

It’s the day after Christmas, and my fiance’s father kicked us out last night. It’s not the first time, but it will be the last. We’ve been living in our car since Thanksgiving. He never even noticed we were gone.

My fiance has a weird neurological thing. At this point, we think maybe it’s seizures, but finding a doctor who will listen has been tough. The first one, five years ago, insisted it was myasthenia gravis despite all evidence to the contrary. He was like 90, stubborn, set in his ways. It finally ended when he sent us to a colleague of his. This new guy listened to Kate for about 15 minutes and said, nah, it’s definitely not myasthenia gravis. After that, we thought maybe it was celiac’s or allergies because cutting out certain foods made the situation better. Kate went a huge battery of tests, and every doctor we talked to just shrugged. The last one suggested alternative medicine since no one else had answers. We stopped bothering with them after that.

Kate has muscle spasms, usually. Sometimes, she can talk. Sometimes, she’s completely unresponsive. And sometimes, she starts running violently, uncontrollably, bashing into things and injuring herself. She needs to be left alone when these hit. And there is the crux of our problem. Her father is a bully: a dry drunk who refuses to accept that there’s nothing he can do. Even before the seizures started, he was abusive and controlling, but every time Kate has one of these running fits, he starts screaming at her to knock it off, or standing around staring at her, or he comes up after she’s finally collapsed and starts demanding to know why she did that. As though she does it on purpose.

Thanksgiving was the culmination of a lot of a things boiling over. See, Kate’s mom isn’t a whole lot better. Where her dad is a loud, brash, brutish ogre, her mom is a weasel, infantilizing her and undermining her confidence under the guise of helping and using her father as a boogeyman to keep her under control. Every holiday, Kate’s extended family comes to stay; the noise and stress of having so many people around while the two of us are confined to a 5×10 space that’s mostly taken up by a computer desk causes her to spend the whole three to five days seizing. Every holiday, we beg her parents to find another way, and her mom promises that it won’t happen again. And then every holiday, it happens again. So this Thanksgiving, we went to stay at a hotel and just kind of never went back.

It’s been rough. The first few nights were OK, but then people started calling the cops on us in the morning. And it’s cold and boring, so we started going back to the house some nights. At first, it was just a few minutes, just long enough to cook some food and get out. But then we started hanging out during the day, while her dad was gone. Use the internet for a bit. We tried to sleep there a couple times, but that turned out to be impossible; too noisy.

Kate decided we should spend Christmas with them. I don’t remember how this decision happened. I may have asked, though I can’t fathom why I would have now. (ETA: I’ve just been informed that it was to cash in on that sweet, sweet Christmas money.) But she seemed pretty excited for it. Especially when we mentioned it to them and found out that no one else was coming this time. Her parents were settling in for a lonely, miserable day, and finding out that we were excited for Christmas seemed to brighten their day.

For about 24 hours, we were their golden children, and the house was filled with Christmas spirit. Then dinner was completed, the guests left, and they didn’t need us anymore. I was cooking up dinner for Kate (she can’t eat the same food as everyone else without risking seizures), and then we were leaving. And all she wanted was for her dad to turn the TV down because she felt a seizure coming on. He did. For about 10 seconds. Then he turned it up louder than before. So now, not only is she seizing, his blatant disregard for her needs has pretty much ensured its one of the violent running kinds. And as the cheery on top, as I finally got her into the car to leave, he came running out of the house to tell us to never come back.

He does that sometimes. He kicks us out about once a month or so. But never again.

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2 thoughts on “Homeless for the Holidays

  1. Following your journey, as you have touched my heart. So sorry to hear about her condition. Where do you live? If you are on the east coast, Jefferson hospital is FANTASTIC for neurology. I go there myself for chronic migraines. My doctor is a bit of an ass, but he has yet to give up on me.

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