I shared a room with my little sister until I was thirteen.
From about eleven, the start of secondary school, I started to become acutely aware of these dark thoughts I was having. Often I felt overwhelmed by them, but unable to articulate them to anybody around me.
The only time I had to myself would be the seven minutes I walked towards school before meeting a friend, or the times when i’d get home and everyone would still be at work. These few hours would be when I would find solace in what a lot of people would consider to be unhealthy coping mechanisms, but to me they were survival.
It was a tense space. A space where often the rules of the game would change depending on someone's mood and so the odds were against you.
I revelled in being out. At the park, walking around talking about how bored we were, calling the sex line number in the phone boxes. It didn’t matter what we were doing, as long as it was out.
If I was thirteen now I'd be desperate for space. I’d be saying the wrong things at the wrong time to the person in the wrong mood. I’d be desperate for a weekend staying at my Nans. I’d be tempted to exceed my government allotted exercise time to try and walk there, but I’d probably get lost because at thirteen I still have a terrible sense of direction but I don’t have google maps. I’d be envying the people with their own bedrooms or with gardens. The people with space.
I wouldn’t know how to explain that I don’t want to make anybody sick but that I need to be out because I feel like I’m suffocating in that space.
It’s jarring to me that space is treated as a privilege, and it stings me to think of all the people unavoidably treading on the wrong toes because they don’t have enough of it.