Leaving College 2000 aged 19

  • It was nearly Christmas when I left the work placement
  • The college, farm and JM talked and excluded me, so I was early on, made into a voiceless object by the Church of England.
  • JM wrongly believed I was not leaving college but taking a break so that she could 'straighten me out' or so she said, she then said the college hadn't honoured that, but I do not know what she meant, what I do  know is that when you have to claim benefits, you are not allowed to be 'on a break' from college, so I had to get the college to send me a letter for the benefits office to say I had resigned my course, the only other choice had been, according to the tutor, for me to join the third year without completing my work placement, but that would not get me a qualification and would not be valid in the eyes of funding bodies, and anyway, with me so far behind on the course anyway, continuing was not an option.

  • So, basically homeless and on income support, low and bewildered, I was in a bed and breakfast for Christmas 2000, having no wish to go back to my family even if I had been able to afford it or travel on packed trains.
  • JM wanted me to spend Christmas with her family, her bad-tempered husband said no, he didn't like being reminded of his estranged daughter even if JM did.
  • So I was alone, homeless and peniless for Christmas 2000.
  • Previous to being in the bed and breakfast, JM, still taking charge, had dumped me with a church couple who were about to go away for Christmas, it was an embarrassing and unsuitable situation, but they kindly kept me for a few days before they went away.
  • While I was there, again without my consent or knowledge, JM arranged to send the mental health services round, and phoned this church couple about it but made no attempt to speak to me.
  • I walked out, terrified, because all I knew of the mental health services was what my parents told me. That they imprisoned and dehumanised people.
  • That evening I walked lost in the dark and ended up at JM's house, where her husband shouted at me and turned me away and didn't tell her, I eventually returned to the church couple, who acted as if nothing had happened, but I guess that was the start of being branded, even though the mental health had gone away.

  • In the bed and breakfast over Christmas, I started delivering papers for my old shop again, which gave me some routine and purpose, and the tips were good.
  • JM would often come and collect me for church services and events or I would walk all the way to her church or home at her invite.
  • I would also study in the library, in the hope of returning to a college, but it remained that I didn't know what was wrong with me. I was being treated for depression by the same doctor who had asked if I was hearing voices, but he never asked or cared about my background, and seeing him was baffling because I did not know what was expected of me. Nothing except depression was diagnosed and I was left sick and dizzy with anti-depressants, having never been on prescribed drugs before in my life, and did not know I had rights and choices when it came to taking anti-depressants
  • I also kept in touch with my old landlady and her family, who were my 'friends'. They remained kind, hospitable and welcoming and that made life brighter for me. I felt I had a root in Winchester.
  • JM came to visit me in the bed and breakfast and told me she would have had me for Christmas if it hadn't been for her family, she then confided in me about her stepdaughter, Sally, who looked identical to me and who she had had to abandon because of her husband.

  • Christmas itself was not as bad as it could have been, this is because, encouraged by attended JM's church, decided to go to the local massive charismatic Church of England church, and so instead of being alone for Christmas, I was picked up by a couple who were taking in 'pity' cases for Christmas, they ended up with myself and two language students who had nowhere to go.
  • I spent Christmas day and Boxing day with this couple, who held positions in the big Charismatic Church. They later became part of JM's church and heard her side of me, and as with everyone, I was then too embarrassed to face them, they also became readers in JM's church and became very officious in the church and also embarrassed me with my friends by taking me away from my friends in church as a 'pity case' for Easter lunch. But back at Christmas 2000, I was very grateful to them for providing Christmas.
  • Nonetheless, that Christmas was embarrassing for me, I had no social skills, no 'normal' life experience to share, and I knew I could explain, and people couldn't cope with, my background. So the couple's sons were talking about the yacht and their holidays and things and I was embarrassed because I had nothing to say, and they laughed at me because I had never been on holiday and asked a silly question.
  • The couple's sons were both at university, one studying maths? and the other pharmacy, they were twins, and reminded me vaguely of my delinquent twin brothers, but these two were well off and self-assured and I was embarassed that I could not, aged 19, join in the conversation on any level. Also being homeless because I had quit college was embarrassing.

  • The Bed and breakfast was run by a very eccentric and deaf old lady who used to be a slave, she lived at the top of the house and never heard the doorbell, she would deadlock the door in the evening with no warning, and one night she locked me out and never heard the bell, so I spent my first night sleeping rough, and it was -5.  She was a bit shocked when she let me in in the morning, she was very eccentric, she thought that the breakfast part of bed and breakfast was strange Jamaican meals delivered to my door at all times of the day, and she didn't like me running water for a bath.
  • One day JM, and surprisingly, her husband, came to collect me for a church service, and the landlady didn't hear the doorbell and they eventually left, I wasn't allowed to answer the door and couldn't hear it either. But I remember being surprised that JM's husband came with her. 

  • I continued to go to JM's churches, often assisting her with small services and visits and tasks, in churches, homes and local nursing homes, and to our surprise, in the early spring or late winter of 2001, JM's husband said to her that I could stay with them at the rectory, until the council housed me.
  • JM said she had been waiting for him to agree to it for ages and she had always wanted me there, and her husband said that they could get the money to keep me from the council, which I presume they did.
  • So, I moved in with them in ?February 2001, and JM was singing 'here comes the sun' as she drove me from the bed and breakfast, presumably she thought she had got her lost stepdaughter back, and in the days that followed she often showed me pictures of her, and she did look like me, but it freaked me, and JM often called me 'Sal' by mistake, which also freaked me, as my sense of self was not strong and I almost wondered who I was.
  • So now I was living in a Church of England rectory and my life was about the day to day life of a Vicar and her family, but I was surprised to find that the family didn't lead a Christian and tranquil life.

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