A Darker Path: Part 4 – After the Storm

The ever growing continuation of Part 3.

I was asked a curious question today, which I will post without edit.

I’ve never really wanted to kill myself, I just didn’t think there was any way out of the current situation other to end my life. Is that how you saw it? To escape the environment you were in or did you actually want to kill yourself?

This was my reply: “I truly believed that I was a blight on existence. That things would be better if I were not around. That I was in everyone else’s way. I saw it as a kindness to myself and everyone.” I truly did not see the point in my existence. That hits hard to the rapidly-approaching-senior-years person that I am today. It hurts, and it has taken a long time for me to be to look at it this way.

Delayed Reaction

I had every intention of making a second attempt, but the sense of failure from my first try, and the fear of my parents finding out, meant that I hesitated. For years. At the time, I was not even thinking about what effect it might have on anyone else, I was just scared of failing again, and getting caught.

The move to high school had its positives and negatives. Many of the student body from my primary school came with me, and this was blended with other schools. The effect was to dilute some of the problems I had had in previous years, and presented a rare opportunity to meet new people. I became a bit of a floater, in that I really didn’t fit in with any specific group. I tended to drift.

Occasionally I would be cornered by bullies, both old and new, who took there pound of flesh, both metaphorically and physically, but it wasn’t so constant. In a larger school, there were more places to hide, and more people to “be with.” I became good at blending. Good training for becoming an assassin now I think about it.

My worsening hay-fever didn’t help matters. We tried all manner of drugs and therapy. Acupuncture, desensitisation injections, nasal sprays… It became a costly venture for my parents, but my mother refused to give in. Regardless, my condition deteriorated. The weekly shop usually consisted of several boxes of Kleenex Man-Sized tissues.

Gradually, the thoughts of self harm faded, and I pushed the memories into the darker recesses of my mind. Despite my hay-fever, the slightly easier lifestyle that high school offered meant my grades started to go up. Positive re-enforcement. Then there were classes that really got my interest, like art, technical drawing, French (which I was rather bad at in the end), and I continued with my clarinet in music.

English was interesting as well, as delved into creative writing, except for that one time where we were asked to create a story by adding a line and passing on. I did not find this very appealing. Why would I want to write someone’s story? So when one arrived at my desk that was started by a guy who clearly liked surfing, I floundered. I had no idea what to say. I wrote “I received a wave.” and got rid of it quick. My strong values in the English language, thanks to my mother’s influence, served me well, or so I thought. Apparently, according to my classmates, this wasn’t the lingo at all, and more fool me for not knowing. Well, that’s what happens when you ask someone else to write your story.

When I was left to write my own material, I found it hard to stop. While I never handed in a completed story, because there was just so much to write, I always scored high marks, and had comments like, “Well formed characters.” “Great story.” and so on. To this day, apart from some short fiction, I have not yet written anything with a definitive ending, which is why I don’t write much any more.

I was also introduced to the concept of a Nerd. I had never heard of such a thing, but apparently, I was one, minus the thick-rimmed glasses… Oh yes. The glasses. Late in my first year of high school, I was diagnosed with a visual problems, and I would need to wear glasses. So by the end of the year, I did indeed fit the standard image of a nerd, apart from the overly blonde hair colour, but this was an image I fought against. I went back for a follow up appointment, and the optometrist told me that my eyes had gotten worse. At the rate they were going, I would need bi-focals before I was 30! He then taught me rather simple eye exercises and stressed that I practice these as often as I could. This I did, and within 6 months, before I was half-way through my second year, my vision was almost perfect, and I never needed glasses again.

TRAMPOLINES!

All the students underwent a physical coordination test. I was one of a small group found to have coordination problems, which meant I had to attend special classes. At first, this felt like yet another failure, or thing I wasn’t good, but it turned into something wonderful. We got to use trampolines! GORDON FREAKING BENNETT! TRAMPOLINES!!!! For a could of hours each week, I got to practices throwing, walking with coordination, and other similar activities, and the BOUNCE ON TRAMPOLINES!!!!!!! Damn did we get good a this. Flips, turns, acrobatics, playing dodge-ball on  TRAMPOLINES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some of the best hours of my high school years. I think it was this alone that made life just that little more bearable.

And this was pretty much school life for the next few years. I had a few good friends, still had some problems with other kids, and was doing alright at school. I got involved in, or should I say was dragged into, a few fights here and there, but generally speaking, I was left alone.

The attacks at home didn’t stop, only now my brother and father were preferred targets of choice. Mind you, taking on either of them usually had immediate effect. I tended to retreat and escape where I could.

On the Nose

Then came year 10. For some reason, my hay-fever exploded. Every single day, without fail, I suffered. Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring, it didn’t matter. Runny nose, sneezing, red eyes, dry throat, everything. I was constantly being asked “Do you have a cold?” It was embarrassing, depressing, and occasionally painful. I made a personal record that year with a sneezing fit of 15 without breath. I was basically convulsing due to lack of air by the end. I hid away in the air-conditioned library where the cool air helped a little.

Buried thoughts bubbled to the surface. I never did anything about them. I was too tired and mentally clouded to bother, but they were there, and I started visualising how I could do it. It was different now however. There were things I looked forward to. Certain school subjects, my Ju-Jitsu (training which had gotten very interesting), Scouts, friends. The desire for an end was no longer a dominating force. It had to compete with more positive thoughts.

Through all this, I was restless. I felt that, apart from the sense of general loneliness and isolation I always felt, I was missing something, and I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I was starting to get asked the proverbial question, “what do you want to do after school?” I honestly didn’t know, and I started to worry.

Continues…

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5 thoughts on “A Darker Path: Part 4 – After the Storm

  1. Jeff, it was 1986, at an inter-school sports carnival at Perry Lakes stadium, and I recall seeing you being tormented by some of those bullies. You were sitting on a bench in the grandstand with your tormenters in front of you, your head was bowed and you were quietly crying. I don’t know what the buggers were saying to you but I should have plucked up the courage to sit down beside you, to try to ward them off, and to maybe give you some comfort, but I didn’t, and that’s something I regret.

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