Triggers. I’m not adept at listing/highlighting these. It’s a new concept for me. However, I think the idea is sound so here’s my attempt. Mentions of violence, conflict, self harm & suicide and drink driving. Sorry if I didn’t mention something else.
“If you get lost you can always ask a policeman for help”
This was repeated to me so often when I was young it achieved mantra like status. I was a supremely anxious child, constantly worrying about being lost, separated, accidentally getting on fire, getting locked out/in, the car moving when it was just me and my sis in there. All supposedly things that I shouldn’t worry about but all except the fire actually happened, so I was never easily convinced that there was ‘nothing to worry about’.
I don’t recall being small and having to talk to the police. I do remember them coming to help with one of the fallings out my parents had. I was very young, I don’t remember much except feeling very upset and a lot of tall people around me telling me things were going to be ok.
As I became more aware of politics and through debate with my magnificent Granddad I realised that the police were not necessarily a benign force for good and that they are people doing a job where the goals are set by government. I was young enough for it not to affect me really. I was environmentally aware and became vegetarian. I remember the protests about bypasses and other such things, then the criminal justice act happened. That DID affect me. I wasn’t up to anything of any criminal intent. Genuinely. But I could see how this bill could be used to whatever effect the authorities decided. It upset me. I protested. Secretly. My family didn’t know.
When I was around 14 I called the police in desperation to try and ask for help to stop my drunk Mother getting behind the wheel of her car. I did it in secret. It was a huge deal. I felt like a traitor but I was terrified that she’d hurt someone. I wasn’t taken seriously. They told me that if I was that worried I should take the keys off her. Like I hadn’t already tried doing that….They said they didn’t have any people to send and that it wouldn’t be worth it even if they did.
I moved away when I was 19 and had to sustain two, sometimes three jobs just to be able to stay at university. I had worked in the pub near me from the day after my 18th birthday and was excited to get to be a barperson in my new town. I enjoyed bar work, it had structure and rules, although I had no idea about the effects of the overload it inevitably left me with. This new university town had a different feel and culture, I worked in a gay pub, well, a fair few gay pubs in fact. Trouble was common, uni nightlife, a party town, a fairly high crime level and an awful lot of heroin. Yep. Good times.
I dealt with thefts, assaults, abuse, racism, homophobia, transphobia and plenty else as part of those jobs. I got the most help and support from other bar owners/staff. We acted as a network. Some Friday nights we’d get a call from a bar in London to say they’d seen the national front getting on the train to come down to us for the night. We’d have an hour’s warning to get as many people in as possible and warn the customers. It was really effective. I don’t remember the police being involved much. We looked after each other.
I recall one night where a lady outside the pub I was working in put her arms through our windows. Both arms. Her goal was to cause harm to herself. It was a tiny pub, I think I was there with one other person working and we had no more than half a dozen customers in. I went outside to see what was happening and she was out there, hurt and distressed. I got her sat down and went in (before mobile phones this one…) to call 999. I asked for an ambulance and for the police. I was told the police wouldn’t come for just a window being broken (only the property seemed to matter) and that the ambulance would only come if she would agree to get in it (which she wasn’t going to – she was refusing all help but was in no state to decide for herself what she needed). I was stuck. I had tried as hard as I could to explain the seriousness of the situation to the call handler but despite my best efforts the authorities weren’t interested in helping the lady outside. Nor were they interested in helping her to at least be safe elsewhere for the night so we could get on and have our windows boarded up. We were so close to the hospital it was actually easier and quicker to help her get to A&E than to continue trying to persuade anyone to come out.
It wasn’t much better abroad. I lived in Europe for a while. I called the police there once to report some suspicious behaviour I could see going on outside. They weren’t interested. My OH tried to get the police to help stop a lady being beaten up in the street near the railway station. They weren’t interested either. Because the lady was working and it was her pimp doing the hitting. Not their problem.
Yesterday and last night my neighbours had an almighty row. Much shouting, throwing, screaming, crying and slamming of doors. When it started up again at 1am I was not best pleased, I had been on my way to getting sleepy and looked forward to a good night’s rest without an early morning alarm. Instead of that I was treated to a horrible row and my anxiety spiked pretty quickly. I have been thinking about that. Part of the reason I find their arguments so intolerable is that the woman has an accent that reminds me of someone else’s. I have no kind feelings towards that someone else and would rather not be reminded of them at all, let alone have to listen to a similar voice (like a foghorn…) for hours whilst I’m in my home. It triggers feelings that I’d rather not experience time and time again. It’s taken me months to figure out why their behaviours have bothered me so very much, I think that’s the reason.
I was tweeting last night as it helps when I’m anxious to focus on something, even if that’s just saying what’s happening. I saw a message this morning from someone very sensibly asking if I could call 101 next time it happens. I had considered it. Genuinely. I wondered if I should. But I’m scared of causing a row between us and them and also I don’t have much faith that the police would listen or actually do anything constructive. This blog post was my figuring out why that was. Heh. Who needs therapy eh? I did that in my PJs from the sofa.
I don’t think they were being violent to each other directly, I *think* they were just throwing things around and shouting. I don’t assume that either is or isn’t capable of being violent. I wish I didn’t have to think about it. But if it happens again I think my first plan is to pull up the blinds and put the lights on so they know we are listening. Then to maybe go outside in the garden and ask them if they’re ok. I’d rather talk to them than to the police I think.
So. Today I overcame anxiety and went outside to water the garden. Fed it too. That should help it to look lovely for when OH is back. I think they’re not up as everything’s quiet, even the dogs. I’ve had my moment of self reflection there and am now going to focus on doing positive things to help change the situation. That’s filling in a whole heap of paperwork today. Heh, although, it’s not DWP paperwork so I really have very little concern about it, it just needs to be done.
Thanks again to the wonderful twitterverse.