Friday, 10 October 2008

Trauma

I signed up at some research study to do with mental illness and writing or somesuch. I had to write about my most traumatic experience for 20 minutes without a break. What a joke. Follows:

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Most traumatic experience? Ha! Where the hell would I start? There are several, and many of them are bad enough to warrant "most" but none stands out as the one - they shift about - how about watching Nuit et Brouillard as a child, and seeing the bulldozers and the sticklimbs of the dead? and my mother explaining the whole process to me, and how I and my brother and my grandmother Nanny who brought me up would be separated from her and and my stepfather on the platform and sent straight to the gas chambers or perhaps for medical experiments while she (o lucky she) and my stepfather would be spared. She was ever the optimist, the stupid bitch. I was about seven or eight I think. It might not have been Nuit et Brouillard, it may have been some BBC documentary. I can't remember.

Or it might have been when Nanny died. She brought me up when my mother divorced the first time. She became a skeleton at the end. I was fourteen.

The Holocaust has coloured my entire life. There is nothing that the human race is incapable of. Disgusting breed of apes.

The death of my youngest brother's twin in utero through the beating administered to my mother by her [then] current lover was fairly traumatic. I went to the train station with a carving knife to travel to the town where he lived so I could kill him. I didn't of course.

This isn't going anywhere very fast. I don't know life is all trauma really - I'm used to it. How has it coloured me? Completely. I have all the hope in the world for people and no expectations of them. I conceal my angst beneath confidence. I am a sentimental fool who overflows with passion at the slightest opportunity.

The second divorce was traumatic too. I remember begging my mother and stepfather to stay together and not to be so stupid. She was off again, sniffing after pastures new. He was defending her side of the argument, the weak fool.

Trauma trauma trauma trauma nearly killing myself last summer was traumatic. I fell forwards off the west front at Salisbury Cathedral, and only saved myself by a last second grab of the parapet as I tipped over. And all that that led to... hmm lost my business nearly my marriage and children... my mind, my freedom, but this is small beer. No, the worst trauma was when my mother left the first time, when I was three. That must be the root of it. What do I recall? Bad explanations delivered by the children that were my parents. They tell me at one point when I was three I asked them if it was me and my baby brother making them so unhappy. So guilt obviously. And now with my own lovely children I hate the idea that I am screwing them up in similar ways. [Deleted].

How has it shaped me? A perfectionist, very bad at rating his own work - I devalue myself as a matter of course. Why not? It's normal.

Manic depression can be traumatic, but it's life and its events that fuck you up properly.

[paragraph deleted for blogpost purposes]

Argh this is all so superficial. It's not helped that I think I can hear the baby wailing in his cot. Un momente. No - just my imagination.

Two minutes left. I've played with suicide too many times over the last twenty years to even know what trauma is any more. I can see the shit in the past, but have gone beyond blame or resentment. Life is shit, but as an overprivileged western bastard kept fat on the flesh of the third world I don't see what I have to complain about. We feast on the misery of others and oh, the clock hath run empty.

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edit. I've just been thinking about all this, and thinking of my children, and then thinking of my children again... the eldest is 6. Would I 'enlighten' him to the depravity of his species within the next couple of years? I certainly have a gut reaction against it. But then I started thinking again... how can we see the worth in the most humane if we don't know the most inhumane? Would I have been a bland yet useful drone if I had not been shown what we are capable of?

One thing I don't think I've stated explicitly here: I AM GLAD WHO I AM, MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY. Therefore all talk of trauma is irrelevant.

When writing the above, I forgot one particular traumatic experience, that was an extreme physical shock to my brain, my conception of British society, and that woke me up in a big big way.

On the same day as the London Poll Tax Riot, we had a version in miniature in dear old Cheltenham Spa. The reason being, the Conservative Party Conference was going on at the Town Hall. There were lots of police from the Met up for the occasion. I was about 18, having just left 'home' (ha) a few months before.

We marched, and then we got to the police blockades. We took a circuitous route through to burst through a thin line of police who fell back and there we were in front of the Town Hall. We weren't to know that dear old Thatcher had already left.

Anyway, we shouted and chanted for a couple of hours, and a couple of interesting observations: first the police arrested all the journalists; secondly, one of my housemates turned up, jumped the barrier, and was bundled into a van within the space of a few seconds. He came home eventually black and blue.

But what really really really shocked me was this very large policeman when they all started charging the crowd to make us move off. (There was no tactical reason for it by then, it was getting late, people were hungry, thirsty, starting to drift off, but they decided to impose themselves.) Anyway, we all sat down, linked arms etc, got dragged out of the way, but this very large pig kicked a toddler as hard as he could.

Yes: I'll repeat that: this very large PIG kicked a toddler of perhaps three years old as hard as he physically could, while spitting: "Fucking hippy kid".

I'll never forget that moment. I don't know how badly the child was hurt. Everything was moving about too quickly.

I have problems with dealing with 'authority' - that is my foremost reason. I'd kill that 'man' if I had the chance.

6 comments:

la said...

I left a comment here at 5am, pressed publish, connection crashed, went back to bed. I can't quite remember what I said but I'm sure it must have been brilliant and whatever I say now will just be a shadow of its inspired and inspirational genius.

An-y-way.

I think I did the same study (black dog?) and wasn't too impressed with it. Currently (in other writing) trying to focus on the trauma of daily life - not the big life-changing events but the grinding unhappiness and disorientation of everyday existence. Good times.

Also, I would kill the policeman too ... on a spit, over a crackling fire.

And, if you worry you're messing your kids up it prob means you're not messing them up as much as you might think because you're making a conscious effort not to.

Marian said...

Those really at risk of messing their kids up are the ones who deny their trauma, projecting it all into others - their kids, for instance, or a "fucking hippie kid". You don't do to others what hasn't been done to you - probably this pig once was treated as a "fucking hippie kid" himself. Which is absolutely no excuse for his pig-behaviour: at the end of the day, we're all responsible for ourselves, our behaviour. You seem pretty much aware of that. I don't think, you'll mess up your kids. The pig on the other hand... Usually it needs a great deal for people to "wake up", like experiencing extreme states of mind, extreme suffering. Who knows, if the pig ever gets to that point. And even if, there's always the rescue-team of "experts" to tell him, it's all in his biology, not his responsibility at all.

Abysmal Musings said...

Thanks both for your interesting comments.

La: it sounds like a hog roast. And thanks, I do try not to.

Marian: I pretty much agree with everything you said, except while I accept that within the human concept of "responsibility" the cop was at fault, the fact he was determined (as in deterministically determined - not wilfully determined) to be "at fault" does give the cop the cop out. However, it doesn't stop me deterministically being utterly disgusted and antagonistic towards that sort of horrible behaviour.

actionreplay said...

I try not to read about or think about this stuff because it just makes me suicidal and doesn't help anyone...

Life sucks, so many people are arseholes...

Abysmal Musings said...

Yes, they are (people). To be honest, when I feel bad, nothing outside of myself makes it worse or better.

Abysmal Musings said...

NO worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,

More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.

Comforter, where, where is your comforting?

Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief

Woe, world-sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing—

Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked ‘No ling-

ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief’.


O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall

Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap

May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small

Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,

Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all

Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.


Gerard Manley Hopkins