A few days ago I posted this status on Twitter “I need deadlines, how about this. once every 2wks (enough time but not so long we lose focus). set a subject use the #, all comment/share. #blogtopicchallenge1 deadline
19th 25th April”
1. A recurring dream/nightmare
Or 2. A memory/experience that has shaped you
Or 3. A major regret
With that in mind… here’s one from me…it covers 1 and 2 and touches on 3… hardly surprising I’ve got something as I came up with the options… I’ll nominate someone else for the next one.
I remember being a very miserable child; geeky, self conscious, academic… bullied.
We moved. I guess not a lot, but some. Dad worked for a company that moved him about and those moves didn’t coordinate with school years or terms. So I would appear at a new school, mid term after all the friendships had formed and all the settling in had happened. And being bright but not particularly socially adept, or whatever it is that bullies can sniff out, they found it and I was bullied. I cannot remember the method of bullying or the bullies. I can’t remember if it was mental/verbal or physical or both. I just remember the emotional trauma of the onslaught. The trauma at home and how, mum visiting school to try and sort it out made things worse. The helplessness of it all. There was nothing my parents could do. Nothing the school could or would do. If adults address the bullies, the bullying just intensifies. If adults openly turn a blind eye to the bullying, the bullying intensifies. If you react to the bullying or pretend to ignore the bullying, it makes no differnece, once you are a target, it becomes a game to them, and kids repeat the same game over and over and over. If you think its bad now, schools then really did have no anti-bullying policy and once you were a victim that was it…
My trauma presented itself, (I’m ssuming this connection), as a reaccuring nightmare over an incredibly long period (I would guess at least a year) ,to the point where I would do anything possible to not sleep.
We lived, at the time, in a semi on a new housing estate in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. A typical estate with loads of families popping in and out of each others houses for a ‘cup of sugar’. The families ran a babysitting circle whereby all the families had tokens and these would pass between parents as they each babysat for each other. It was a good system. I assume there were a few kids in the road who me and my brother played with, I have no recollections. There would have been one particular family who borrowed or gave out more sugar than most, I can’t remember the details, but from the nightmares, I remember her as being called Peggy. The Junior School was a short walk through the Close and down a footpath to the school entrance. The school, at the time, was not big enough for the growing population of young families so many of the classrooms were temporary buildings in the playground, they were freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer. I remember cold feet. I have no recollection of any of the teachers and almost none of the pupils.
I vaguely remember I couple of overhanging apple trees at one end of the footpath , great for scrumping. The only other memories I have of that time were that in our lounge my parents had gone with the fashion of a cork tiled wall with a dartboard, I assume we played or their friends came and played darts fairly frequently but I have no specifics in my mind. I vaguely remember that, as with all housing estates, there was one house were someone ‘odd’ lived and all the children knew to keep their distance from him. Other than that we spend dry days outside, cycling in the road, playing in the street and, as we got older, cycling further and eventually walking all the way to High School and town (which seemed like a long way – probably 20 minutes by foot).
I had a best friend called Claire (I think from Junior school but it may not have been until High School )… she would be the story of my biggest regret, but that’s something I’m still not ready to put into print, even after all this time, the shame of it (despite much counselling over the years), is one of those things only me and Powys Mental Health Team know anything about … watch this space as Quarantine and Lockdown seem to be bringing all my ghosts out the cupboards… maybe this prolonged period of dystopian reality is the perfect time to deal with all our spectres; clear out our metaphorical closets; confront our deamons and, hopefully, when we come out the other side of this, we’ll be able to face the new world with a clean slate and a clearer conscience… we’ll see.
Anyway, back to the nightmare.
All the mums on estate were in on it. Every adult in the babysitting circle was a contributor and I was the last one to escape the conspiracy. None of the other kids seemed to think it was an issue. All the children were blind. Literally. They were blind because the grown-ups gave us pills that made us blind. I had worked it out. I would fake taking the pills and pretend to be blind. For some reason, I remember being in a high chair in the dream, so much younger than my actual age of 8/9. It was a dream world and this didn’t seem odd. I was fed desserts with these pills crushed up in them. Peggy was very keen to oversee the taking of these meds. There was lots of whispering and sly knowing looks between her and mum. They would try and force feed me them . I would wake up screaming just as they finally managed to force feed me the blindness pill.
And there it is. night after night after night after night
I’ve always had dreams that mix a lot of reality with fiction and I’ve generally, to this day, woken up emotionally affected by the contents of my dreams even if I can’t remember the content itself. Throughout my life, I struggle to hold on to memories… I can tell you very little from my childhood. I have lots of part memories from my teens and adulthood but the dates and timelines are all over the shop. What happened in my life in what order is a blur. Even in the relative recent times of the last 25 years with my hubby… and lots of the memories are very vague, much of the ‘bad stuff’ is gone, leaving only the emotional scar with nothing to hang it on to. Is this normal? I don’t know. Judging by hubby; not having memories of childhood, teenhood etc is not normal; not being triggered by certain songs or smells is not normal. But normal or not, I don’t have it. It’s very disorientating, not being able to pin memories to your past and put it in a chronological order, I often feel a bit sea sick from the lack of solid ground under my feet.
I have no idea what any of it means. All I know is the lasting emotional trauma and scarring. From the bullying, from the nightmare, from the confusion in my mind.
Does anyone else have this problem? These days, happily, I rarely have nightmares, I certainly (touch wood) don’t have recurring ones. The worst I have is waking up angry or upset with someone for something that I can’t remember , but it happened in a dream, leaving only the anger , injustice or hurt in its wake. I apologise (particularly to hubby) but to anyone who has bourne my wrath as a result of something I dreamt you did!!!
The mind is a funny old thing,. Sometimes not so funny. Sometimes not funny at all.