EVENTUALLY the social workers and psychologists realised I was no longer a runaway risk. They gradually allowed access visits. These were humiliating and awkward for everyone.
Half an hour with the family once every two weeks? Help.
Family is a long term transitional process so that you become used to how crazy it is living with all these weirdos. Half an hour with family is like a coffee date with your boss. You’re not sure you should be doing this but there’s no way you can say no without feeling worried about the consequences. All you can do is put on your best behaviour.
At first we would visit somewhere neutral, like at McDonalds. I was accompanied by a social worker watching like some celebrity bodyguard. Mum seemed either withdrawn, or tried too much to be friendly. There’s a photograph of us cutting a birthday cake of Charizard together at the fast food restaurant that I’ve got somewhere. My sister is beaming at the camera, my little brother wary, my mum talking and frantically keeping the family together during this occasion.
I blamed myself for these restricted visits.
It’s your fault we’re doing this, is what I felt. Your fault.
In the early days I would come home from access visits and cry over my photographs, because I already missed my two-year-old sister.
The visits increased in length and originality.
Once we went on a rainforest walk with my social worker. “Hey big, fat, hairy, man!” I said to him casually. “Take a look at this funny, looking tree.”
And Mum gasped because she didn’t know the big, fat, hairy man was okay with this nickname.