When faced with my demons I clothe them and feed them…

Solly. My Folly.

Yep, this is the guy I took in and sheltered for over a year. He had no income, had an extensive criminal record and shortly after I met him he was notified by the immigration authorities that he no longer had indefinite leave to remain in the UK. He has no parents, they both died when he was 21 and he is now 29. He’s Somalian by birth but has never lived there, was born in Italy and came to the UK with his family at the age of 10.

When I met him, he kinda grabbed me in the street while I was manic. This kind of behaviour does not arouse any suspicion in me when I’m in that state, because I lack normal judgment or inhibition. He’s the kind of person who connects with people on the streets all the time whether he knows them or not. He seems to know almost everyone.

So yeah, being manic and hyper-social I was only too pleased to have a new ‘partner in crime’. No I’m not a criminal, just a figure of speech, but I do seem to be somewhat drawn to criminal types judging from the last couple of partners I’ve had and certain relationships in the past. Is it their ‘edginess’? The way I rationalised it while manic was that lunatics and criminals can team up with each other, as one is a ‘thought criminal’ and the other actually acts it out.

Well yes. I have been locked up against my will over 35 times, for what? Allegedly a ‘danger to myself or others’, but nope, not really. Not ever. The reality is that I am vulnerable to all kinds of exploitation from others, but people have only very rarely responded to me aggressively. I am totally harmless! Yes, I often speak out of turn.Yes I can be abusive and hurtful verbally to the closest people in my circle. But no, I am not homicidal, not out to break the law, mainly I just wanna party like it’s 1999.

So why lock me up? In my manic mind it’s because I have committed a ‘thought crime’. Clearly not a mere figment of George Orwell’s imagination. Or from the vantage point of my currently rational state, I’m locked up for having thoughts that deviate too wildly from the norm. I might add that I’ve never been incarcerated for being suicidal and have never made any kind of serious attempt, or even cut myself.

Anyway, let’s get back to the subject at hand. I teamed up with Solly. I enjoyed his company and felt bonded with him by virtue of his need, his friendliness, and quite a few interests we seemed to have in common. I felt a bit like his teacher if he was being homeschooled. And he also taught me a LOT. He ‘translated’ a lot of hip hop lyrics for me, and street slang. He could compile a dictionary on that! He seemed intelligent, knowledgeable and well-informed on an enormous variety of topics.

He had remarkable verbal dexterity considering English was not even his mother tongue. He told me so many stories about his past, his devotion to his mum, and his childhood. He interested me. I am an amateur psychologist and I love to study people. He was a ‘case’ to me as well as a friend. I hoped that I could help him, I thought he wanted to better his situation and was willing and happy to be instrumental in that. I also found him beautiful, and he is, outwardly, like many Somalians. He had a lot of charm too.

Well the mania had already peaked sometime in 2015 but it took a long time before the police plus a psychiatrist arrived at my home one morning. Solly was on the Internet on my PC as he always was. I was baking cinnamon buns in the kitchen. I had quietened down a lot despite still being delusional. I was largely minding my own business, living quietly, shopping for groceries and cooking and enjoying Solly’s company.

None of that was gonna stop them from sectioning me and I knew that almost immediately. I shouted and swore at the police. Put yourself in my position, a bunch of people come to your house with the intention of incarcerating you when you’ve done no harm to anyone, how would you feel? The police just took it as all in a day’s work. They told me to pack my things. I carefully and thoughtfully packed a couple of bags, thinking of all the things I would need in the hospital. Yes at least I knew exactly what to expect. But would an out of control, potentially dangerous lunatic be even capable of  calmly and resignedly calculating what stuff to take? Would she be found baking cinnamon buns? You decide!

I told Solly what the visiting hours at the hospital were. The next day, while I was still settling into the ward, to my surprise he turned up. It didn’t take him long to get himself banned from the ward, for selling cannabis to one of the girls. I was there when he did it, she badgered him for it, it wasn’t like he was exactly going there to peddle drugs. But he continued to visit regularly and talk to me through the glass door. He went to get money for me. He shopped for me. He picked up stuff from home for me. Then once I gave him my card to get money and he absconded with it, withdrawing £300 from my account. I was devastated by this betrayal. He had bought me a cheap mobile phone as I had lost my smartphone previously and I texted my dismay and hurt.

But hey, as many times since I ended up forgiving him and overlooking his behaviour. He was a criminal after all and I had put temptation in his way. He was my only visitor the entire time except for my care coordinator. Richard my ex didn’t want to know me anymore as I had said some horrible things to him the last time I was at his house. Getting money was a real necessity and no one else was able to do that for me. He also bought me tobacco many times.

I loved seeing his face at the door. I was flattered that a younger and beautiful guy wanted to see me. I was grateful for the visits and grateful for the things he bought me, among them a bunch of flowers, an Easter egg, cream cake and of course the phone.

So eventually I’m allowed out and finally given a week’s leave before  being wholly discharged. Solly was still around. I was very dependent on his company for a while. I had quite severe withdrawal symptoms from the clonazepam they’d given me daily for a whole month in the hospital. I had no idea why I felt like I was crawling out of my skin, could not sit or lie still, was extremely anxious etc, but there could have been no other cause.

After about two hideous weeks that began to wear off and I started the inevitable slide into severe depression. I very much needed Solly. I needed anyone who showed me any kind of love or affection, anyone who was willing to be there with me through all of that. Most of the time I would lie on the sofa while he sat at the computer. Presently in my depressed state I managed to buy a smartphone so then I would be browsing reddit on that. I didn’t care to watch youtube or movies, didn’t care for music, couldn’t even eat, I might force myself to eat a sandwich in the evening.

So you see, that’s how we bonded. Or I should say more accurately, that’s how I bonded with him. I doubt he ever felt the same, for anyone.

He had already robbed me of quite a bit of money and I had to watch my purse all the time. But I more or less supported him financially for a whole year. He had the front door key. I haven’t mentioned he has a severe drinking habit. He’s an alcoholic but  according to him didn’t take drugs and I never saw him smoke weed, it was always about the alcohol. I would ask him what he needed money for and he would account for how he spent it…on travelcards, food, cigarettes as well as cans of K cider. Sometimes he would ask for a bigger sum of money so he could buy weed to sell and supposedly make a profit. This never worked out. He would be back needing more money in a couple of days.

The final time he took money without asking was literally when I was in the kitchen and had my back turned for a minute. He took £60. I threw him out, disgusted. He was gone for a couple of weeks but wrote me a letter of apology and asked to meet up to talk. I didn’t want him at my house where he’d already become aggressive and caused a commotion. So I met him on a bench in the local park. He really did a number on me, telling me he’d had time to think. He admitted to having ‘fucked up’. He was contrite, seemed genuinely pained by his own behaviour. It was so nice to talk to him again. He, after all, was the nearest thing I had to a close friend or confidante at that time. I was still severely depressed, but he cheered me up. I ended up cuddling him on that bench. He came back to the house that day.

Codependent and other unhealthy types of relationships create a rollercoaster of emotions in the sober, stable one (yes folks, in this case that was me!) The feelings of love and affection create ‘highs’. The betrayals and bad behaviour create equally extreme lows. I seesawed between one and other, sometimes he would behave well for a few weeks at the most. Many times I told him to go, some of those times he ended up leaving for a few days. Always he would be back. Everything I read about abusive relationships indicated to me that things tended to get worse, not better. The more you accept, the worse they will behave. And if I hadn’t actually let him get away with murder, it was close!

OK so fast forward to the last few weeks. I had been upbeat and stable for a couple months by this time but I still felt some loyalty to this ‘frenemy’ I guess. He was like a stand-in for my son, who I had no chance of living with or looking after and who largely hates me at the moment. It wasn’t a sexual relationship but we did hug, cuddle, kiss on the cheek and snuggle on the sofa together to watch a movie. I felt I was some sort of mother-substitute to him and I should therefore put up with his nonsense.

The reality? He was a desperate guy, out for what he could get. If he was talking, it was nearly always either a lie or a fantasy. He really was mentally unstable, just had been characterised by the system as a petty criminal and a nuisance rather than mentally ill. He had spent years in jail and sometimes said it was like his second home, that he had tons of friends in there.

But he did know that if he was to go there again he would likely not get back out. He would be detained and deported…to Somalia, a place he had never lived in. A rather dangerous, unstable and scary place. He had no skills to speak of, he only knew how to hustle on the street and was rather unsuccessful at that it seemed.

In a ‘drug deal gone wrong’ according to him, he hit a Brazilian girl/woman. This was not the first time. He had hit another girl, a ‘good friend’, according to him. His logic was ‘if you hit me like a man I’ll hit you back like a man’. He appeared to have NO SHAME about hitting a woman, instead he actually bragged about it to a friend in my hearing. He is not a big or well-built guy, he’s skinny as fuck, looks undernourished, but he knows how to intimidate and has been in plenty of fights. He was essentially a ticking time bomb where I was concerned. I wanted to protect myself at all costs. I was scared. Very scared.

This was beginning to be a bridge too far for me. I had had conflicted feelings about him since forever. I constantly questioned why I was supporting a drunken drug dealer who constantly got into trouble and who I was embarrassed to be seen with.

And then, over a period of days my feelings for him just died. I no longer cared to hear his lies and fantasies. I no longer cared to hear the tales of the mythical Solly. I knew he was using me as an instrument to get what he wanted and needed. Money, company, free internet and a comfortable place to stay. On Maslow’s pyramid of needs those are the basics (well money and a roof at any rate).  Real friendship or emotional attachment wasn’t in his sights. He didn’t bother to get to know me except as a means to manipulate me better. Didn’t want to hear about my views on suicide, simply dismissed them out of hand. Whatever he might have said, however much he had charmed and mesmerised me, I was essentially nothing to him. A means to an end.

And no I don’t judge him for that. I don’t think he’s evil. It’s perfectly normal to want to satisfy your needs and use other people if necessary to do that. We all do that, it’s only a difference of degree and level of harm caused.

But I was very struck by how my feelings for him suddenly evaporated into thin air. I had finally reached breaking point. I just wanted rid. He had become an irritation as well as a threat. His behaviour to me and lack of respect was getting impossible to ignore. I no longer got to see the ‘nice’ Solly. The one who had sworn he wanted to change. That he just needed someone to lean on. That he loved and wanted me in his life. He no longer apologised for anything. He was in constant denial about his own actions or their consequences. He acted arrogant and entitled. He intimidated me in my own house. Finally, after staying here all day with me virtually ignoring him and refusing to engage he literally extorted money from me by threats. For thirteen pounds, all I had in my purse, he was prepared to betray me and finally lose a friendship. If you can call it that.

So yep. It’s over. He is no longer the central focus of my life. And I am thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet, free of the drama he invariably created. He’s tried multiple times to contact me but doesn’t seem to have it in him to apologise or seem repentant in any way. Even if he did I would be an absolute fool to believe it. Been there, done that.

Do I regret any of it? Well, no. I learned a lot. He was very entertaining. He was fun to be around but in the end I just saw through it all. He was essentially a zombie with no heart or soul. He never really reflected on himself or life itself. You couldn’t trust him an inch. You couldn’t believe a word he said. And he couldn’t even face life sober.

I learned a lot, some valuable lessons. We had good and happy times. But they were largely a product of my own mind rather than anything he did. I was distracted by him and thoughts of him for countless hours. I experienced those highs as well as those lows. I loved the hugs, and I used to hold his feet as we lay on the sofa top to tail. That physical closeness comforted me when I was severely depressed like nothing else could.

So no. No harm done and no serious regrets. But ask me again if he attacks me in the street or comes here and tries to menace or harass me again. I am not taking any freaking chances.

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Comments on: "Solly. My Folly." (2)

  1. Hmmm… some of this sounds strangely familiar, very reminiscent of the rollercoaster my ex put me through in that at heart she didn’t really love or care about me… I was “useful” to her in a variety of ways and I put up with it because I genuinely liked and loved her so in some ways I guess I was “using” her but my goal was… well… a serious relationship and to try and help bring her back to planet Earth. And what was her first love above all? Alcohol.

    Regardless to say, it was doomed but I persisted blinded by love. Unfortunately her antics grew ever more reckless and they began having a serious effect on my own mental health to the degree she brought on several breakdowns. Eventually, after a stupid self inflicted accident, I helped nurse her back to health and she pressed one button too many. She literally took the piss out of me, having me running about for her and doing shitty jobs yet she was always well enough to go to the pub or the off licence or hold all night parties… and yes, you guessed right, I was never invited to those. I was being shafted.

    The sad fact was, over the time I knew her, she became a completely different person to the one I met and fell for. I never hated her, but I finally reached the point where enough was enough and I stopped liking her and finally we went our own separate ways. Unfortunately it took a few years for the benefits to kick in so it was all rather traumatic for me. An education, sure, but not one I think I’d want to go through again for since then, my barriers have stayed firmly in place. So, a few parallels with your situation, the feelings similar but conclusions rather different I guess.

  2. Hey Baz. So great to hear from you – and my bad. I owe you an email! I read and very much appreciated your last one. I signed up to the Benefits and Work site you mentioned. You’re right. It’s very helpful. I know you’ve been through hell with the DWP.

    I can only hope you will forgive me for the lapses in correspondence that frequently occur, with me. Same goes for Katy, Alix or any other reader here that I went silent on. I don’t know. Writing emails seems a lot of effort! Do I at least get marks for honesty?

    At least with you Baz I believe you save and store pretty much everything you write in one enormous archive. So at least your words are not wasted but preserved for posterity! I’m pretty sure I will write to EVERYONE in time. I love the fact that you are there, that you are, or at least have been, my friends.

    And don’t, whatever you do, neglect to tell me if you start another blog! I used to love getting your updates.

    And yes. There are quite a few parallels there. Alcohol was definitely Solly’s Number One. He even told me he didn’t ‘do’ relationships. He talked about friendship a lot but also doubted that he had more than three close friends. The rest were just ‘associates’. Look, big, well-built, streetwise guys don’t have a lot to fear from Solly. They could flatten him with one punch! Me on the other hand, I would be easy pickings if he decided he needed a punching-bag. He had past form!

    I’m really sorry your experience of intimacy turned out to be rather disappointing and hurtful. It could always be worse though! I’ve read so many accounts and watched so many videos about abusive relationships. I mean really fucking scary, heart-pumping-in-your-throat relationships where you are hypervigilant for physical or verbal attack at any moment. And you don’t know how to get away! They reduce your self esteem to a pulp. They have babies with you! They can turn really ugly, even murderous, when you do finally leave, or kick them out. Relationships are a minefield. For real.

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