After 1 busy holiday in Greece I have finally said farewell to the temporary flat hubby and I used there for the last 5 years.
The story of this little flat was a complex one but it was set up by my father as a neutral base for me because I could no longer live under his roof. When I moved back to Greece in 2011, I did it partly because my father said it would give him the strength to divorce his wife. I also did it as a new start for myself, after spending 11 years living in the UK with many failed relationships, heartache and confusion.I was growing closer with my Dad again and the hope that he would finally leave his dysfunctional marriage was really strong. Greece will always be my home, the place I was born and grew up in.
When I first moved back and stayed in the house he shared with his wife and my half brother, there was constant tension, arguing and toxicity. I had arrived to live in the ground floor of his maisonette, which was a separate flat in itself. It had its’ own shower-room, bedroom and a small kitchenette which was also accessible by the rest of the house. His wife was not happy I was back. She had done her best to isolate my father from me for years, to control him and to not allow him to have a relationship with me. My father had also chosen to marry this woman and had chosen to mistreat her, abuse her and cheat on her. Through guilt (apparently) he had then allowed her to bleed him dry by spending ridiculous amounts of money on antique furniture, 50,000 euro cars and the best of everything.Through guilt, he allowed her to control him in the end. Their lives were full of threats and lies and drama.
Where did I fit into all of this? Where did my older brother fit into all of this? And my younger half brother? He is yet another innocent child caught up in a severely dysfunctional home.
After this first week of me moving back home and battling with all the anxiety of moving countries, trying to sort out my bedroom after all my boxes had arrived and trying to deal with the unpleasantness of having my evil Step-mother living upstairs, I returned to England to pick up my cat. He was being looked after by a friend of mine, until all the boxes had been sent off. I was trying to make things as stress free as possible for him, so decided to fly back to Greece with him, after I had unpacked and set up my flat. The morning of my return, my father announced to me that I couldn’t come home. He told me that he had just announced to his wife that he wanted her out of the house with my half-brother… that he was getting a divorce. She had obviously gone absolutely crazy and reacted very badly to my father’s cruel discard. The way he had presented it, made me look really bad. Like it was my fault that he asked her to leave. She went absolutely crazy and smashed my things..What followed after that was a whole summer of arguing, threats and trauma.
Minutes after landing in Athens with my cat, I had to make alternative arrangements to stay somewhere else! My anxiety was through the roof. I couldn’t go home to my new home. I was already extremely unsettled but now I also had my poor cat to think about, who was extremely nervous and confused. Luckily I called the mother of a friend of mine and she let me stay with her.She had let me stay with her once a year in the summer, when I visited my friends and Dad. It was a safe haven in all the chaos of my father’s life. She let me and my cat stay with her and her husband for 2 whole weeks, until I could actually go home (or so I thought).
What followed after these 2 weeks, was a temporary flat my father had found through a fellow architect friend of his. I still couldn’t go home. My cat and I had to go to this temporary flat which was completely empty and had nothing in it. My dad found some really old, filthy furniture from his office and brought it there for me. I at least had a bed, small uncomfortable sofa and a really old fridge that was filled with mould. He gave me a mini oven & hob and a fan to help me cope with the hot summer temperatures. I was on the top floor of a block of flats and it was like a sauna in that flat. The sofabed, was covered in dust, cat piss and cat hairs. It had collected all of this dirt from years and years of being unused in his office storage cellar. This was the best he could give me..
I remember asking for a hoover and never getting one.I only had a broom and dustpan. I remember asking my father to go to his house, so I could at least collect some of my things. This was very difficult to arrange, as his wife was always there and he didn’t want us to be anywhere near each other. I had to go there very quickly for 5 minutes at a time when she wasn’t there and collect as much stuff as I could to bring to the other flat. I also had to do the same whenever I needed to do my laundry. The whole situation was utterly ridiculous looking back on it. I felt like a criminal, like a bad person, when in actuality it was all my father’s fault.
The rest of the summer got worse and worse for me. He would visit me, unload all of his stress onto me and then my anxiety and ptsd would deteriorate. I was trying so hard to cope with it all. Eventually I was so ill, I had to see a therapist that my friend recommended for me. She looked after me, did a psychological assessment on me and got me into group therapy. She arranged for my Dad to come in so she could explain to him that I don’t need additional stress, as moving countries was already enough stress for me.I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD. I learned that I will just have to come to terms with the fact that I will always be overly sensitive to stress.
When the temperatures started reaching 37, 38 degrees Celsius, I couldn’t cope anymore. I desperately needed air-con to cope with the heat in that flat.One morning, the anxiety was so bad from the heat when I woke up, that I was vomiting, seeing spots of light and I literally thought I was going crazy. My friend’s mother saved the day once again!
I ended up staying in this flat for 5 months before I could finally return to my Dad’s. In that whole time my Dad was trying to get his wife and my half-brother re-settled into a very expensive apartment. I on the other hand, didn’t even complain for the state I was living in.
After I eventually moved back into my Dad’s house, I enjoyed 7 months of having my Dad to myself, for the first time in 12 years. We even spent Christmas together and when my little brother came home, I try to make it magical for him. The poor kid was so traumatised. He was only 7.
The only silver lining in all of this chaos and unsettlement was the time I spent with my Dad alone, and the fact that I met my now husband. When I met him, I was overwhelmed by his kindness and interest in me. He was so loyal and supportive to me and with the support of my group therapy, it all turned out well. After meeting my husband and realising that we couldn’t stay in Greece anymore due to the financial crisis that was present, I told my father and he was devastated. A week or two later, he told me that he realised that he had made a mistake kicking his wife out and couldn’t afford to pay for her flat anymore. The reality of it was that my Dad couldn’t deal with being on his own. So once again, I had to leave his home before I was ready. I finally moved into my last home in Greece which was this little flat seen in the photos below. This little flat was very well located luckily and my Dad arranged a deal with someone who owed him money, to ‘pretend’ that he was renting it from him for 10 years. He of course wouldn’t pay this guy any rent, but would still have to cover the maintenance costs and bills. I lived there for 3 months before finally leaving Greece when my husband found a job at a university in Cornwall.
This little flat was a very important one. It was the flat that we always returned to when visiting friends & family. It was the flat that we got ready in for our wedding day and the flat that we slept in for the first time as a married couple.
It was the flat that I stayed in when my father attempted suicide, 7 months after our wedding. The memories were both happy and traumatic. After having no contact with my father for over a year, It didn’t feel the same anymore using this flat. It was in his name, yet he wasn’t paying the maintenance bills or utility bills. Going to Greece was no longer a happy occassion for me.
Last week, we emptied the flat. We sold the washing machine, air-con, cooker, microwave and everything else of sentimental value, we brought home. We left the furniture for my Dad to sort out and tomorrow I will be posting my father a letter to tell him we have vacated the flat and no longer need it, or want to pay for it. A friend of mine will also be dropping off the key at his office and that will be the end of this chapter in our life.
Hubby and I are now free to have holidays on more neutral ground and even though I no longer have a ‘home’ in Greece which has caused me a lot of grief, I have come to the realisation that ever since my parents split up back in 2000, I already didn’t have a ‘home’. This was just the end of another chapter in my life..
Thanks for reading ♥