During this year I became friends with ****, a First Diploma Student, who was friends with my friend ***, who had done the ILB and was now on First Diploma, **** and I became very close, but she was extremely wild and mischievous, as well as very confident with the tutors though she disliked the other students on her course, I always watched in amazement as she confidently approached the tutors and chatted to them, I stood there in silence or only spoke to her, I did not know how to speak to them, **** had a lot of problems, but she could speak to adults really easily, students and people she didn’t know got the cold shoulder though, me and her and *** became a team, we looked after each other, and we were joined by another student with more serious problems than any of us, her name was *****, she had a violent stepdad who abused her badly, I didn’t know that until JM told the whole of ****** church about it in one of her sermons, she didn’t use *****’s name, but I recognised who she was talking about and wondered even then if she should have done that, as I was not the only agriculture student in the church, and may not have been the only one who knew who she was talking about. (I did speak to JM afterwards about this, and she confirmed it was that student and that maybe she shouldn’t have used that example).
***** self harmed, had serious panic attacks and was suicidal and openly sexually interested in her tutor, graphically telling me and **** what she wanted to do to him, we laughed in astonishment and horror at these revelations, even **** blushed as this was her and ***’s tutor, who was in a relationship and was very nice and totally proper and well behaved with us, I do not know if she was able to complete the course, I think not, as she was truly struggling.
As for me, I was set apart from my classmates, unable to be part of the group at all, and that was not for want of trying, I did my college work, I did my farm duties, but I was nervous of my classmates, especially as one of them continued to mentally bully me, he didn’t like girls working on farms, and he tried to pick fights with the confident 16 year old farmer’s daughter and failed because she metaphorically squashed him into a little ball and threw him on the dung heap, but he found that he could cause me to become very agitated and distressed, so he persisted, and I got to the point of swearing at him, which was very very strange to me.
I had been brought up non-swearing and it was not at all natural, but I told him to f-off after a prolonged period of dealing with his patronising and antagonising behaviour, the group often swore and made innuendos at each other, so when he went away I thought nothing of it, but he complained to a tutor and I was told off, but again I was not the only one who he did this to, he was about as popular as me in the group, the group had long since nicknamed him ‘brown-nose’ because of his relationship with the group and the tutors, but he was confident and skilled in farm work and I was not, so he fared better than me.
In all of this my rocky, confused counselling relationship continued, the counsellor couldn’t get me to talk about anything properly, because I could not, but he got me to tell him about sexual abuse, he was a confusing man, and I certainly got confused, he used to offer me his hand and say ‘that’s a lifeline’ and he talked about hugging me, he would sit next to me in the counselling room, holding my hand, and I was puzzled, he was a strange man, he got cross with my inability to be part of the counselling relationship, and he threatened to put me over his knee and spank me once, I told him NO! And he assured me he had no meant it in an inappropriate way, but the counselling relationship was really screwed up, and I have no doubt that a lot of blame lies in me for that, I got angry when he got impatient, I got angry when he arranged a time and did not keep to it, I got angry at what he said and did, I got reliant on him, just as I developed a reliance on other tutors there, I think this reliance was insecurity, being away from the ‘closed cult’ family I had grown up in but still being influenced by things my parents told me over the phone, I was frightened a lot of the time and looking for reassurance, I couldn’t find any reassurance in the student welfare officer, she and I didn’t get on, I didn’t like her office because it was full of information on safe sex and free contraceptives and STD advice, posters of such things everywhere, flaunting it, when I was still firmly under the belief system that it was wrong to encourage sex outside of marriage, this woman seemed to think that student welfare revolved around safe, shameless, flaunted sex.
(I still do not believe that people just sleeping with anyone is ok, I think it is harmful physically, emotionally and spiritually, but I am still not mature enough for any adult relationship, so my view is just my view).
So I took up too much of my tutor’s time, and the counsellor’s time, as I tried to deal with the wildly revolving counselling relationship where he was GUESSING things about abuse I suffered, and I was too nervous to correct him, and I was simply very distressed, he had tried to continue counselling me while I was working at the college in the holidays, but I temporarily ended the counselling relationship then, I could not cope with being forced to remember sexual abuse and leaving him to verbalise it, incorrectly, I wanted to know what was wrong with me, and I wanted to talk about the other things that had happened and about my parents and their influence on me. Sadly my resentment and the feelings that the counsellor was bringing up all ended up turning into extreme dislike of him, I tried to control this dislike and was learning about self-help.
During one of a few breaks in the counselling relationship, which I initiated, I found a book on self-counselling and started to learn that everyone has problems and that there is a link between past experiences and present behaviour and attitudes, it was as if I was kind of waking up, the past for me was a blur that I couldn’t think about or really remember, it has only been in the past month that for the first time I have written my past down in detail. (remember this was written in 2011)
I really caught the self help bug, I got tapes, I got books, but I wondered at the fact that no matter how I tried to link theory to practice, there was still a strange gap, a lack of understanding or ability to implement what I was learning, a fuzziness, I went over affirmations frequently, listened to tapes in my sleep, but still I was detached from the world and other people, and still I did not understand a lot of what people were saying anyway, I had never really questioned this. But I used to get in so much trouble with my dad for not being able to comprehend, I was punished frequently and painfully, but I couldn’t explain to him why I didn’t know what he was saying.
In hindsight I think the variety of self help I was taking on was too much and too confused anyway, I was being showered with ‘techniques’ to solve every imaginable problem, but it wasn’t that simple. But over the years I have actively tried to help myself and develop myself, and have continued to feel anguish and embarrassment that I have problems that I cannot resolve and am still spoken about in the same way by people and still ‘odd’. And there are limitations to self help; I cannot learn anger management or behavioural therapy from a book.
I understood the tutors in class as they wrote on the blackboard, but the classroom echoed and I found that painful and it gave me a headache, I liked being outdoors for practicals, but couldn’t understand instructions would tense up at having to work with the other students, especially the smart 16 year old who everyone loved, she made me feel small, and the big bully also continued his rampage through my life as I obviously struggled to keep up, it was stressful, but my home life remained happy.
The counselling relationship was coming to an end, I got into trouble because the counsellor was going to be teaching me in the final year of the course and he said the counselling relationship needed a conclusion; my reply was ‘What is a conclusion? This relationship’s conclusion is that it didn’t work? What are you on about anyway?’
I did not know what a conclusion was, nor was he explaining, just telling me that it had to conclude, and he kept on about it, I was skipping seeing him anyway, so I was annoyed about him pestering me and not explaining, I was rude to him and told him that **** told me about his teaching and that he told people not to walk on the grass in case they killed it and that his ambition in teaching was to get one equine student every year interested in grassland management, I did not like this man at all, I avoided him, and he was annoyed when I tactlessly told him that I saw him in ******, he said that was to do with boundaries, I knew where a number of tutors lived, I had no idea it was a boundary thing, a lot lived on site or in Winchester, one of my tutor friends told me about letting his cottage out to another of my tutors,
I wasn’t bothered, I didn’t go to their houses, I was happy in my home.
So it got to a point where the counsellor gave me a note via my tutor, in front of everyone, demanding a conclusion, and the tutor read it out, I threw the note down the drain,(this lack of confidentiality was as unethical as possible but in those days I had no idea of such things, however, both the tutor and the counsellor should have done).
I went, I sat there in silence, he sat there in silence, I was annoyed and told him I wanted to go outdoors, the room always felt too close and claustrophobic, he let me go, I walked out, a few weeks later I saw him in college and asked what on earth it was all about, he said it was so he could teach me in the final year without either of us remembering the counselling, he sat with me again, he asked why I played up and messed around and didn’t talk when I was perfectly bright and capable, I lost my temper and swore and left the room, I got in trouble with the tutor and got a warning, which was later withdrawn because another member of staff stood up for me and also because I was helping out with college events successfully, I made a complaint about the counsellor, but that came to nothing. I resigned from being course representative; I thought it was stupid to try to do something I wasn’t capable of, in a group where I was an outsider.
One of my worries as college started to finish, was my friend ***, she was struggling badly with her final assessments and coursework, and seemed unable to get any help, she had learning difficulties, her subject tutors were not very helpful, her course tutor was ‘having problems’ and left the college, the tutors who wouldn’t help her were the same ones who were not very helpful to me. I worried about her and did my best to be there for her, though I didn’t feel very helpful. She left college at the end of term with a few assessments she had to come back and retake before she graduated, and she couldn’t afford another year at college, she works in a pub now, and longs to go back into agriculture.