Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Sticking out

I once watched a series of you tube videos looking at how different communities embrace harsh experiences. For example if a whole set of people have experienced an earthquake then they journey together in the path to processing that experience and coming to terms with it. Everyone in the same boat wobbling along together, everyone having and giving support in the most basic form by just knowing what the other has experienced the same experience.

Similarly we at the moment in the UK have just been through the last few years of our banking system collapsing. Everyone has an opinion on it and has or knows someone that has been affected by the capital fear. Its a journey we as a country have travelled together and are still travelling together.

We have friends that work in the village in Romania (near the old orphanage which made us shudder on early 90s news headlines) and although divided in its opinions there is an understanding for those who grew up in the orphanage, there is a massive amount of unsaid communication as to what and why those individuals are the way they are. 

But what has happened to the orphans would have been "rescued" and taken out of that normalising context? Well here I can only express a presumption: but I imagine it is only in the light of them no longer being in the "normal"  that the real affects of their experiences shine as being "not normal". Its in being around children / adults who have not experienced or been shaped by the same environment that these "rescued orphans" have had to come to terms with what has happened to them. In seeing others who do not have the same struggles with attachment trust and behavioural issues, they realise there is some level of difference between themselves and others. (I know I'm boxing allot but please bear with me).

You see there have been a burning questions in me that have haunted me most of my life in context to my experiences in Africa. Why could I not cope with what everyone else coped with? I was not singular in my experience why could I not cope? Why did others not crumble? What I experienced at the various schools I went to was completely "normal". Granted it was not a just world but why could I not cope like everyone else? If you were to ask my family they would say "but that's the way it was out there, I was nothing special, why did I think I should be treated different?

Well going out on a limb here, I would like to put forward the following:-

  • I had something that a lot of those other children did not have. 
  • I knew that life could be different. 
  • I knew society could operate differently. 
  • I had lived in Wales till I was around 5. 
  • I knew of spiders that weren't the size of your foot. 
  • I knew snails could be little. 
  • That there was a place where it rained two days in a row. 
  • A place where there were shops that had food in them, toys and chocolate in them. 
  • I knew there was a place where the police were friendly and didn't carry guns. 
  • Where the world of politics did not mean killing each other. 

So my differences shone out from the others and could see / feel them.

Ironically where we moved back to the UK my issue had not changed. I was still shining out as an oddity, only now ironically from the other side of the pitch. Back in the country I had so longed to get back to but it was still not the wet green safe isolation of Wales. We returned to Watford. The shops were full of food, there were toys and there was no longer the constant possibility of being hurt or killed.

  • Now at school they could not cut your hair if it was too long.
  • They could not put you in stress positions or take food from you.
  • It was a good thing to be brought to the attention of a teacher.
  • Prefects didn't have the power to humiliate you.
  • Aged 11 (my peers) talked about trivial things like cartoons and music.
  • They would talk about subjects I didn't know the first thing of connecting with like boys, make up, parties and clothes co ordination. 
  • They had never worked in the hot sun on a farm or experienced six years of drought. 
  • In the UK you got in cars and they would start without being pushed.
  • There were four seasons not just two. 
  • Bush fires, instead of being a yearly occurrence that everyone was expected to help stop, soon was just another news report.  
  • I would smile that the everyone expected the fire brigade and not each other to take full responsibility.

So my differences shone out. My ability to integrate or cope became a fine daily threat as I balanced on my knife edge. I was different! If I had been left to live a full life in any of the contexts I had experienced without knowledge that the world could be different then maybe I would have coped with what was the norm but for now I offered in my defence the realisation that if there is a tangerine in a bowl of oranges its always going to know its the same colour but will never be an orange.