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Testing the Water December 20, 2010

Posted by howibecameawriter in Uncategorized.
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As promised last week, here’s a small selection of the handwritten notes I have been collecting which one day will make up my book. The story is mainly fictional but based on some real-life experiences and events.  Although I remain anonymous, I have changed names and locations.

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Some of my earliest childhood memories are always surrounding two things; me being alone and my parents arguing. I remember spending hours at a time alone in my bedroom, acting out parts in stories – make believe, to escape the reality. To block out what was happening downstairs, outside, in the bedroom next door – yelling, screaming, slamming doors, threats of divorce, incest, theft.

It was all ignored by me pretending to be a teacher in front of a classroom full of children, or pretending I was performing a solo dance on the West End stage. That was until one or the other of them came into my room, entered the classroom or marched onto the West End stage unannounced. Could they not see I was busy teaching or dancing?? No, obviously they couldn’t. At that point, all the make believe would come crashing down around me and I was back to being in the middle of a battlefield in my own bedroom, and this time there was no pretending.

If it was my dad who came into my room, it was with an apologetic, sad and confused look on his face whispering that he was sorry for mum yelling and what was I up to? Well dad, you just interrupted me teaching a class of kids how to spell ‘spontaneous’ and ‘abundance.’  In reality, I shrugged, made myself look busy by tidying my collection of teddy bears or face my wardrobe and not say anything.  I would hardly ever get involved in a discussion with him about mum or their argument.  It wouldn’t be until a few years later that I could start dishing out the advice to my parents; at six years of age I thought I might be a bit young and would only be told I didn’t understand anyway.

Dad would stay for a while looking awkward and disappointed then make some stupid comment to try and make me laugh and then he’d leave. Not before I’d said I was fine a few more times though.

If it was mum who came into my room though, it would be a whole different story.  She would continue with the argument whilst looking over at me every so often. For my approval? Maybe. For my opinion? Doubtful.  In later years, when I was old enough to have more of an input, it wasn’t listened to anyway, not by mum.  I was dragged into the argument but wasn’t allowed an opinion; not one that went against mum’s. It was when mum came into my room that the threats of separation, running away and splitting up came into conversation; it was as if by me being in the room at the same time made it all the more dramatic. Time and again I expected to come home from school and have my bags packed ready to go with mum. I dreaded it and even remember screaming ‘no’ whenever mum mentioned it mid argument. She would cover my ears up tightly with her hands, so tightly it would feel like a vacuum. But I could still hear the shouting.  The moment never came, not even to this day, and I’m still not sure whether that’s a good thing or not.

I came from what I guess you would class as a ‘normal’ working class family; on the outside anyway. And maybe even on the inside. Defining normal is something I struggled with at an early age, and still provides me with a challenge even now. Who defines normal? What is normal? Does a ‘normal’ family even exist? I have come to believe that normal is always an internal feeling; we can define it ourselves. What is normal to one person might be completely abnormal to someone else. I knew that my family were not normal in my own definition, and so as a child whose own perception is their reality I always felt ‘abnormal’.  It’s something which never truly leaves you. It can fade and even disappear for long periods of time but it always lingers, just beneath the surface.  I don’t know if mum and dad saw themselves as normal. I guess they must have to some extent otherwise they would have done something about it, wouldn’t they? The main thing for me is that I know it wasn’t normal because I didn’t feel it was normal on the inside. I knew exactly what normal was because it was all around me…

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Thanks for reading and stay tuned next week for more installments.

Merry Christmas to you all, wherever you are 🙂

 

 

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