0: I emerged into the great big world, without a stitch on and not bothered in the slightest. I couldn’t speak the language; I didn’t know the people; the colours looked funny; the buildings were very big; everything was noisy; and I could scream.
1: Still needy. I was understanding things better, but still learning. I was watching everything. Chewing everything. I understood cuddles, warmth, but still couldn’t speak. When I wanted anything – I screamed.
2: Still needy. Starting to become more mobile, speedy on all fours. Able to make strange grunting noises – neither human nor animal, yet similar to both. Chuckles, burps, and, of course – screams.
3: Still needy. Upright more of the time. Walking and crawling. Falling and crying. Eating and needing to be changed (!). And speaking! First words after walking across a room: “Ow’s that?”. First words ever, possibly “Mama” or “Dada”, but I can’t really remember. Oh, and screams.
4: Totally independent. Walked confidently across the porch step into the wide world to go to school. Played with children I didn’t know, in sandpits and water pits. Didn’t know them. Didn’t like it. Screamed.
5: Learning. Learning. Learning. Loved it. Loved playing more, but learning was good. Learning also that screaming is not always good.
6: Learning about people. Becoming wary of people. Not liking certain people. Hurting because of what some people do. To me. To others. Not screaming. Crying.
7: Confidence low. Self-consciousness very high. Time in hospital. First time all alone. Didn’t like it. Wanted to scream. Wanted to run. Went to sleep looking one way, woke up looking different. Self-consciousness lower. Confidence higher.
8: Different me. Older me. Happy me. New school me. Still bullied me.
9: Learning. Learning. Learning. Writing with a pen. Learning about dinosaurs and space. Learning to read better. Learning to write better. Learning better.
10: Growing pains. Met Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. Met fantasy. Better than reality.
11: The big school. The big world. Loved some classes. Loathed other classes. Loved learning. Loathed speaking in front of the class. Loved being home. Loathed walking home alone.
My first twelve years were a bit of a mixed bag emotionally. From being extremely happy to extremely frightened was quite jarring. From feeling being part of the world to being an outsider was quite confusing. But from having everything done for me to doing everything for myself was quite liberating.
I don’t have that many memories of my first few years, apart from those above… and even then, the very early ones aren’t my memories, I don’t think. Growing up is an amazing experience to go through, full of exciting opportunities to learn and develop. The thing is, even though I loved my early years, I would rather be able to remember more good things, than the bullying that started from an early age. Not that everyone bullied me, I hasten to add, but the bullies frightened me. That feeling of fear is getting in the way of the good feelings (which were there the majority of the time). A quote from the movie ‘Strictly Ballroom’:
A life lived in fear is a life half lived
It looks as though I only lived half of my growing years.
My thoughts have certainly got better with age. I know that there are people who don’t know any better than to treat others badly, but is it their fault? Maybe they have a reason to hit out at the world because they are living in fear too? I don’t know. I can’t speak for anyone who bullies anyone. I can speak for myself, however. It does hurt. It does stay. It can’t be forgotten, but it can be forgiven.
Now: I’m me. Still learning. Still reading. Still writing. Thinking back. Thinking forward. Thinking full stop. Feeling good. And on occasions… still screaming…