I’m not quite sure what’s triggered me off today other than the fact I feel like shit and have been watching programs about people with issues. I ended up leaving work after two and a half hours because my stomach has acted up going into spasm and having me end up in the bathroom in agony and feeling very sick for the rest of the night too scared to eat anything.
My mind this past hour has been reliving and wondering about past experiences, though I don’t quite know how to put the images that come to mind and the anxiety/fear/anger/hate that they bring to the surface. As I’m typing I’m trying to plan in my head how to tackle these times in a way that will not be just a list of nasty things I remember because I don’t want to have that as the only thing I do on here.
So….where to begin…
I was a musical child and am still a musical adult if a little less so. I learnt to play any instrument I could get my hands on, the piano in my parents house was a constant fixture of my bored times alone at home where I would try to mimic music I enjoyed and learnt to play a lot of 60s and 70s music in my lessons. I really wish I had enough space and money to have one in my house now! When I was six I was called to the classroom of the year 6 teacher because a cornet had become available and he wanted to see if I was interested. I remember being terrified of the big kids that were all sat around watching me as I came in and was handed a mouthpiece to see if I could make a noise with it. Have you ever been told to blow a raspberry in front of a class of your peers? Not the most proud moment of my life! I began playing the cornet from then on, I was never any good at it and my teacher struggled to get me enthused about it I think we both knew that I was never going to be a brass player.
When my next birthday came along my parents had listened and I got what I had wanted most a clarinet.
When I laid hands on it I knew, I knew that it was the instrument I wanted to play and as soon as I tried I could produce a tune from it. Within the first minute I had fallen in love with my clarinet and knew that it would be part of me, after the first year I had taken my first exam on it and was part of the school band flying through the skill set I needed to gain a First position (much coveted in my mind).
We were pretty good that little band and played all round the county at fairs and concerts that took up a lot of my childhood. Aged between seven (that would have been me) and sixteen year old students with a couple of teachers who joined in it was a great bunch of music loving nutters that became my world for ten years of my life. Now we were not like the band geeks you see on films such as American Pie but this will probably turn into me saying ‘and this one time at band…’ for which I apologise!
The guys who were ‘top dog’ were the brass playing older boys and wooooheeee did I ever have a crush on one of them! To me he was lovely and I would have done anything to have him notice me and want to be with me but I think at the time a five year age difference was a bit much. Strangely as the years went by that never changed, the boys who played cornet/trumpet and were good at it were fancied by so many girls at my school and I always seemed to have a crush on someone who was in band.
Right back to the scenes that keep replaying through my mind. Some of these might seem utterly stupid and as if I should have shook them off years ago but still when I think of them my stomach goes into knots and in some cases I’m almost in tears at the emotions that they evoke.
The one that has had me thinking this evening was something so simple that it’s hard to write about but here goes.
The band had been asked to have an exchange with the school band of a town in Germany that my home town was twinned with and we duly trudged our way over there. I was the youngest person on the trip at eight years old and I do wonder sometimes whether it was a good thing that I went or not. I struggled with the fact that the friendships and cliques that I was involved with were transient at best (something that I will cover properly another time) and ended up being babysat basically by some of the older girls in the band. They didn’t like this and would often push me away or run off to flirt with the boys they found leaving me lost and alone in a foreign country.
The peak of my fear on this trip was over a trip we took to a swimming pool.
I love swimming always have and the idea of going swimming in a pool that had a load of slides, boards, outdoor pools and parts I can hardly describe I was giddy. We had great fun racing down slides, swimming outside in a heated pool when it was -16 celsius outside and experiencing the whole place was amazing. But…I lost my goggles and was so panicked and frustrated that I went round and round that pool so many times I can’t remember until I amazingly found them some kind person had left them on the side.
When we were called to leave I went to get changed with my friends, I was segregated by them even though there was four of us and they struggled to all fit three of them went to get changed together leaving me alone. ‘Fine’ I thought and went to get sorted on my own. As I didn’t like my body even at this age I went off to get changed alone, torn between being happy that I wouldn’t have to change in front of them and feeling abandoned. I was ready last and came out to try and sort out my locker which was when the real problem started. They used cards to lock and unlock the locker, where I was used to a pound coin being used for the mechanism the card was inserted and removed. I went to remove the card and it ripped.
So what right? But before entering the complex we had been told that this card was the ‘be all and end all’ of our experience. It was how we got in, used for the lockers and how we would get out of the place again. My mind went into overdrive as the ticket ripped, I panicked and looked at my hand in horror trying to remove the rest of the ticket from the locker. I held back the tears as it wouldn’t come out, saying to the older girls what had happened and asking what to do being met with blank looks and ‘I don’t know’s as they walked off to get back on the coach. The panic in my chest rose as I went to the exit, I was going to be trapped here in a foreign country surrounded by people that I don’t understand, they would leave me here and I would never see my family again, I was an idiot, useless, didn’t deserve to be here.
I think you can gather that my anxiety was already well established by this age.
Walking up to the barriers tears in my eyes I look to the lady behind the window next to the barrier holding my torn ticket in my hand, hyperventilating and unable to utter a word. Finally someone from my group of ‘friends’ noticed the fear on my face and the fact I was crying and from the other side of the barriers brought it to the attention of one of our escorting parents. She asked me what was wrong and after I filled her in handed me another ticket ‘I got some spares, I thought something like this would happen’.
So simple. The whole episode of terror ended by something as simple as someone having another ticket that I could use. I was stunned and left the place as quickly as I could not looking back as I didn’t want to remember anything about it not even the outside. The whole experience that should have been wonderful tainted forever, something to relive whenever my brain wants to rebel against me. To be honest the entire trip was a week of anxiety, feeling out of place and an intruder. The photos are hidden and if I look at them I am torn between happy memories and wishing I had never gone.
Why can’t I let go of things like this? It was over twenty years ago and yet it still preys on my mind. So many memories lying in wait that I never want to remember yet are triggered by things that shouldn’t have anything to do with them.
I need to clear away the hidden bear traps in my mind. Might need to invest in a self help book or two.