42. Bad karma

I’ve never been someone who believes in karma. I think good and bad things happen to all of us and we just have to muddle through as best we can, accepting everything that life dishes up with as much humour and goodwill as we can manage. Lately though, I’ve started to wonder if my karma’s gone a bit wonky, because bad things just keep happening.

First up, I start a new job and don’t get paid for two months. Being the stubborn old mule that I am I don’t tell anyone, because I’m physically incapable of asking for help, and end up bursting into tears over bento boxes with my mum. “I can’t…pay…my…mortgage,” I stutter through tears whilst she pats my hand: “poor thing,” she says and immediately transfers some money into my blushingly bare account.

Then I get a new housemate and it turns out he’s not very well. He starts pulling off bits of the shower, the dishwasher, like a curious bear pawing at his new surroundings. One day I come home and find my can opener has been dismantled: it’s all there – washer, spring, nuts, bolts – a neat little pile of spare parts.

I pluck up the courage to ask him about it when he comes home:

“I didn’t do that,” he says.

But…but…you did because only two of us live here! I think but can’t say.

I worry constantly about money: this friend’s wedding, that friend’s birthday, how do other people afford it? I take on freelance work, soul-numbing stuff that makes my skin crawl, and fritter away precious hours of my weekend on it. I have no time or energy for anyone. A close family member suffers from a debilitating long term illness and although I try to be there, I feel like I’m never doing enough. I feel like a bad daughter, friend, sister, aunt, human. Guilt pools in the pit of my stomach like acid.

And then one day, this happens:

A friend’s brother comes round with his girlfriend to drop off some books. He bursts through the front door – “CanIuseyourloo?” – and barrels into my bathroom. A few minutes later a rich, sour smell wafts through the locked door. He asks for his girlfriend and she comes back down a few minutes later, white as a sheet.

“I’m so sorry,” she says in a hollow voice, “he’s not very well and he’s had a bit of an accident. He’s going to need a shower and I need to go home and get him some clean clothes.”

I spend the next 45 minutes sitting bolt upright on my sofa, desperately trying to watch Saturday Kitchen whilst knowing there’s a man COVERED IN POO in my bathroom. When his girlfriend comes back she’s carrying armfuls of cleaning gear.

After they leave I scrub and scrub and scrub like I’m Cinderalla in the world’s most fucked up fairy tale. Disney never tells you about THIS I fume, where’s my bloody pumpkin? I seriously consider calling a priest and performing an exorcism. Can you exorcise someone’s poo from your bathroom?

I tell a colleague what happened and she looks horrified: “Did you light an aromatherapy candle?” she gasps. One friend tells me to burn my house down; another whispers “what if you missed a bit?” That tiny bit of phantom poo haunts me for days.

In the end, I’m still not sure I believe in karma: sometimes life serves you up a *ahem* shit sandwich and all you can do is force it down and pray that dessert is on the way. Things will get better; I know they will, because they always do. All I can do is hunker down, ride out this bad spell, do my very best to look after the people I love – and never go barefoot in my bathroom again.

Photo by Léa Dubedout on Unsplash

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