The ex…

The ex…

Rupy Kaur will be writing for DH on some of the experiences that happen to her on a day-to-day basis. Stay tuned, as this is only the preview of the series!

#DHgurus

Let me put this into perspective: the story I’m about to tell you occurred back in January 28th. The following day I took time to write it all down in my diary. I’m now sharing it with you all…

So yesterday I decided to have a shower when disaster happened. My PA turned on the tap to which she found a slight dribble of water. We both simultaneously said ‘what the fudge?’ You see, the thing was that on this day in particular, lack of running was not an option. I’ve been followed around for a week by a television company who have been exploring the relationship between PAs and the people who they support and yesterday was the last day of filming meaning that my hair had to be perfect and therefore washed. Anybody would know that hair can’t be washed with a dribble of water so the only logical solution was to go to the local leisure centre, in my pyjamas as that was the only place in Sale with a hoist and a shower, and have my shower there.

I rocked up to the leisure centre, with sleep in my eyes and asked to use their facilities. They were a bit flabbergasted but they didn’t really have a choice because I was in that shower room before they could answer! So I had my shower and it was great…but what followed after was not so great. In order to escape the leisure centre the only accessible route is to enter the swimming pool area and wait until an attendant unlocks the door for freedom. So whilst my current PA and I are waiting I turn to observe the swimming lesson that’s happening. There are babies learning to swim with guidance from their parents. Everything seemed so lovely and I could feel my ovaries about to burst observing the little creatures until they shrivelled away because I noticed that my ex’s brother and his wife were in the water teaching their child to swim. It was awkward. Me and my ex had a bad break up and the horrible feelings that I felt at the time of the break-up came swarming back. They got close to my family and I got close to theirs and the fact that the nuclear family swam to the back of the pool once they saw me was not a good sign. As the palms of my hands got sweaty and as my heart began beating fast, the attendant finally came to unlock the door and release me from the torture. The ‘ex’ that I’m referring to here, is in fact my EX PA…

It looked as though the ‘relationship’ could have been beautiful at the start. We knew each other for seven years and could speak on the phone for hours. We knew each other’s family and we both became part of each family. We knew each other’s secrets and we were best friends. So when my PA at the time handed in their notice and I knew my ‘friend’ needed some extra cash for her med degree, I thought it would be perfect to offer her the role, and she accepted! (though now I know why they say don’t mix business and pleasure). It was all going so well, we had a laugh and she helped me organise my life but the ‘romance’ only lasted a short while. She started to come to work in a foul mood and everything became a ‘big effort’ for her. She used to sigh and roll her eyes if I asked her to do stuff and started snapping at me a lot. I was working as a national representative at the time for the NUS and often meetings would overrun but that was the deal. She used to make snide comments about how I made her late for her personal life at home and things got really difficult. I felt guilty for wanting to ‘live life’ even down to the things we take for granted like for asking to go the toilet. On top of that there were money issues. I was being manipulated at the time to pay her extra and I felt as though I couldn’t say no because she was my ‘friend.’ In my head I knew it was wrong but I felt as though I couldn’t escape. The worst thing was the anxiety, the tightness, I felt every morning in my chest because I knew I had to face it all again.

Then the day came when she got accepted at med school. I was relieved because I couldn’t really ‘sack’ her. I naively thought that once she had left, our relationship would go back to the way it was before, you know, before she became my PA. Wrong. A week later I received a letter from the CRB with them asking me to pay her ‘properly’ for shifts she claimed she hadn’t been paid for. She had been paid for those shifts and my records demonstrated that in fact she had been overpaid but I decided at the time not to reclaim any costs. I had lost my self-worth and dignity…that was a big enough cost in itself. I ‘de-friended’ her on Facebook and now she is just my ex PA…

Apart from learning never to mix business and pleasure, I’ve learnt now not to compromise myself for anybody. In the PA/service user relationship it is very easy for control to be taken away from you without you realising. I didn’t realise at the time but the ex-PA psychologically abused me and that’s never going to be acceptable again. I’ve had some really good PAs since the ex and they’ve taught me that “asking for my needs to be met” is not demanding and is not something that I should feel guilty about. Do not sacrifice your mental health and your personality to please somebody else. I would encourage you to speak to somebody if you feel like you’ve experienced some of the things stated here. I know it can be scary but in the long term it’s better for you. Something so subtle can easily escalate but remember you still can regain control over the situation. I did… and now I have fantastic PAs…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. I’ll be back with another in April!

By Rupy Kaur

Check out…

Employment and Disability: why should I employ you?
Disability and Travel: a Norwegian cruise ship
Disability, sex and relationships: it’s all about confidence

Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com or leaving your comments below.

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