I stayed at my grandparents the other night for the first time in over fifteen years. It was an intense experience because there are so many memories in the house and, I am sad to say, the bad memories overshadow the good.
I lived there for a while when my parents were getting divorced, with my mum and brother. I remember nights sitting on the landing listening to upset voices from downstairs.
I have spoken before about the big parties my grandparents used to host. Christmas, New Year, Hallowe'en. Now I am older I realise I was completely oblivious to the family politics - the unspoken hostility between certain people. How innocent I was.
At this time my brother and I were the only children and we were content with this. It wasn't until I was ten years old that my family started to grow. And with it, the hostility.
The family really fell apart thanks to one particular member of the family and the parties ceased. No more Christmas, New Year, Hallowe'en. No more communication.
My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. The bad memories really began.
Back to the other night. The most intense flashback of my life happened when my grandmother asked what happened to the door frame in her bedroom. Thankfully she does not remember her psychotic breaks. The screaming. The struggles . The breaking-down of doors. The police cars and ambulances. The anger and the fear.
After many of these incidents she was put into a psychiatric hospital. My visits always ended with tears. I would cry so hard I couldn't breathe. That was before I learned to accept myself as a stranger in her eyes. This acceptance makes it easier for both of us.