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17 and homeless


Lucy was kicked out of home on her 17th birthday

My mother and I have never had a good relationship; the difference in our personalities has always kept a brick wall between us. For years there’s been tension in our household and even months when my mother and I haven’t communicated unless absolutely necessary. She had kicked me out of the house on multiple occasions in the past and would send me to a family member until she had ‘cleared her mind’. But this, on my 17th birthday, was the first time that I felt totally abandoned.

It was smoking weed that led to me being kicked out. I’ve been smoking for three years now and I have always tried to be honest with my mum about my habit but she’s never able to understand why I smoke. When she first found out she thought it was because of peer pressure and that I was an addict when in actual fact I only smoked occasionally – maybe something like every two weeks. But because she has cousins that were weed addicts she never believed me when I said it was just an occasional thing. She tried to move me out of the area; I moved out of Peckham and in with my father but it became apparent that I would smoke wherever I lived and that it wasn’t really my friends who made me smoke. So I moved back to Peckham with the promise that I’d cut down and I did.

But then I went to college and found lots of people who smoked weed. I started doing it every day – every break just because it was always there. I even missed lessons just to smoke. As most of the friends I made in college were older than me, hanging out with them meant being out late and so I started coming home very late. My mother tried to give me curfew, but to avoid being locked out I just started staying over friends’ houses and I’d go days without seeing my mum. This, along with getting arrested for possession of weed, is what drove her to kick me out.

After I got arrested my mother started going a bit nuts – she started panicking and getting ideas in her head that I was dealing and that I was in a gang. Her aggro made me smoke more and made me want to be out the house more. I got a YOT when I got arrested but my mother wasn’t satisfied – she wanted me to go to prison to teach me a lesson. It’s things like this that make me think my mother wants nothing good for my life. She searched my room and found my weed box and finally decided she wanted me out, so she kicked me out with no clothes and forbade any family members from taking me in.

For two weeks I was moving from one friend’s sofa to another and I couldn’t go to college. Mum wouldn’t answer my calls and when I went to the house she’d pretend she wasn’t in. If it wasn’t for support from my friends and from the people at the YOT who helped me get a hostel, I’m not sure what I would have done. There were times when I wanted to leave college as I felt I had no future anymore. Many people have told me that I should just stop smoking weed but I feel that’s unnecessary. I’ve decided to cut down and only smoke on weekends, and hopefully gradually I’ll go back to only smoking occasionally like on friends’ birthdays and New Year’s like I used to. I don’t think weed is bad in small doses – this is what my mother clearly failed to understand and this is why I have had to leave home indefinitely. I do hope one day we’ll resolve our issues. My getting a place may give us the space that we need to build a bridge and redefine the relationship we lost a long time ago.

Taken from Issue 19

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