Guess who’s coming to dinner?

My husband and I are visiting relatives.

When we arrive it seems to be the same as always.

They’re friendly.

I’m friendly.

We’re chatting and having a good time.

I’ve been having a hard time. I’ve been suicidal. I’m barely working.

Joab, my nephew speaks to his mother and sisters at the opposite end of the table to me.

It’s a long table, and I can’t hear them properly.

He starts talking about how I’m only being nice to them so I can take their money.

It hurts.

When I spend money on them, it makes a big impact on my finances.

It’s another betrayal trauma. I care about what they think of me. I want them to like me. I treat them with the courtesy that is due to them as human beings, and I wasn’t expecting them to attack like that this night.

Those accusations hurt.

I put my head down and say nothing. Inside I start to sing a counting song I learned as a child.

They start talking about how I want to eat my husband. What our sex life is like.

It’s humiliating to have a 19-year-old talk about it at the dinner table.

I involve myself in the conversation at my end of the table. They’re talking about trains.

My 24-year-old niece puts a plate of chocolate on the table and 19-year-old Joab says

‘She’s eating a chocolate nut. Cos you’re a nut that’s been covered in crap. She’s eating you’.

I’m angry this time. I put my head down and grit my teeth. Counting song’s still playing in my head.

They’re talking about trauma and self-harm, and being able to discuss problems. I don’t know if they’re gas-lighting me, but they say they’re trying to help. They do put a strong smell of Eucalyptus in the room which makes me feel better. At my end of the table, we’ve moved on to talking about TV.

They start talking about how their voices have told them I’ve got Dissociative Identity Disorder and I’ve got a sadistic-paedophile inside. They talk about how that’s not true too.

I don’t know how to handle the cruelty of that accusation. I behave in socially acceptable ways. I work on improving myself. I am kind to animals and children and everyone I can be kind to. That’s what it is to be human.

They start talking about how they’re ready for bed. It’s nearly 8.30pm– polite time to leave.

I ask my husband if we can go, and he says yes.

He’s delayed in the corridor and I burst out the door as tears start to fall.

I cut myself that night. It’s a deep one, and when my husband sees, his feelings are hurt.

That’s what it’s like living with voices.

Mine, our relatives, and my husband’s voices interacted in awful ways that night. There’s good things and bad things about hearing voices.

However luckily we live in Australia, and when our interactions create situations like that, we can go to the hospital and they’ll stitch our self-harm wounds up for free.