Period 1993 – 1997
Hazel (not her real name) became a kindred spirit. Our friendship is one of a platonic nature. After a day or so, she invited me to her room for a chat and a drink. For starters, she was very generous with her measures of whiskey! As you do when you’re first getting to know someone, there was an exchange of questions. She told me she was a singer-songwriter. I am very interested in what inspires creative people, so it was a natural question for me to ask. Hazel explained it was both her childhood and a one-way love experience in her early adulthood; both of which I could immediately relate to as these had, and were still, happening to me. The latter I shall discuss in a future blog.
Soon after this first meeting, Hazel invited me to listen to a studio demo tape she had recorded. This was the real deal; her music blew me away. One of her songs hit a very personal chord, relating to some difficult and traumatic experiences in my childhood. Although Cerebral Palsy is regarded as a physical condition, for me, the mental side was as much of, if not more than, an issue, especially in my youngest years. The biggest frustration had been not being able to communicate, and be understood, by others, or to even understand myself. This led to screaming fits, which I know were a massive stress factor for my parents, particularly my dad, whose way of dealing with me was physical punishment.
I was a big fan of the Simon Bates’ ‘Our Tune’ slot on his Radio One morning show. Listeners would write in with a story around the heartache of love etc. and a song request as a backdrop to their story. As a kid, for me anyway, I believed that this kind of thing always happened to other people. However, a few days after 1990 New Year, prior to going back up to Liverpool for college, I answered the phone. It was a man asking to speak to mum. I thought nothing of it and went back up to my room. After an hour or so working on a course project, I went downstairs to the kitchen and found my parents having a serious conversation. I asked what was up and dad told me he was having an extra-marital relationship. Basically, the person who I had answered the phone to, was the husband of the woman dad was seeing behind mum’s back. This shook me to the core; it was totally unexpected.
Over the next five-years my parents had an on/off marriage, this was all due to dad’s indecision. To cut a long story short, in late 1995, mum decided she needed to protect herself emotionally and cut off all ties with dad. The stresses of the previous six-years had taken a massive mental toll on mum and had pushed her into a deep depression. I am very close to mum, so what she experiences affects me greatly. Christmas 1995, I decided to go down to Winchester earlier than usual, to give her some moral support. As mentioned in previous blogs, Winchester is a place which triggers some traumatic childhood memories for me, which it certainly did during this stay.
Over the next couple of years, the people who Hazel introduced me to would become genuine close friends. For the first time, I could be open and talk about things in my life, as never before. I’d had plenty of sessions with child psychologists, but as a kid, trying to explain to others, things which I did not understand myself, was extremely difficult. However, with my new friends, I had finally found empathy.
As I hinted at the beginning of this blog, no matter where you run to, your past will always follow. As illustrated, this was the case for me, but I did not recognise it at the time. My reason for coming up north to college was to gain new and exciting experiences. However, looking back, perhaps it was unconsciously to escape my unhappy childhood memories. In late 1996, Hazel encouraged me to undertake counselling to deal with the feelings of guilt I had. Mainly, blaming myself for the negative parental treatment I received as a young kid, particularly from dad. This step was one of the hardest I had ever undertaken in my life, but as the saying goes, ‘No pain, no gain’. My belief is that, with counselling, positive results will ensue, especially when it is something you feel the need to do for yourself. I had a very good counsellor who challenged me to confront things. At the end of the prescribed twelve sessions, I felt in a position to move on in with my life without the burden of guilt.
This was not a cure, but a way of learning to accept the past and moving forward with my life. I feel, the key to making sense of life, is being comfortable with yourself. This is a lifetime journey, but personally speaking, it is worth it.
Jarmin Apple, March 2022