JM was drawing me into her church more and more, I was terrified of my parents finding out as they were set against the church and their anger and grudge were pretty terrifying when one of us children did something they didn’t like, the more I went to church, the more I saw of FM and his anger as well, and it made me deeply anxious, but other people in church were kind to me, as ever I couldn’t learn names easily, but I got to know kind faces after a while, E and P.M were some of these kind faces, though E could be very sharp if she wanted to and at first I was nervous of her but I actually really liked her brutal honesty and found it refreshing, somehow I got the job of painting E’s fence and shed, and from that sprung a weekly gardening slot with the M’s, though E loved to remind me just how much I messed up in the beginning because I knew nothing about gardening, and E was more than happy remind me of the time I dug up all her foxgloves and left a great big plantain in the middle of the border.
The M’s became my friends, blunt honest down to earth friends who fed me delicious food and coffee, and who I wanted nothing from but a chat over a cup of coffee occasionally, and who did me the world of good through the years until recently the church destroyal of me took them and my other friends from me,
(E now looks straight through me with disgust on her face but gabs behind her hands to others if she sees me, thanks to Jane Fisher and JM, I am sure God will reward them fior their unchristian harm to me! and maybe it is a lesson for me about friendship and the CofE and wealthy older cliques).
The M’s were at S. Church, but JM was drawing me into L.church as well, I remained uncomfortable, asking a million questions about church when I could verbalise them, and terrified of JM when she dressed in her black cassock, for some reason it caused me to flash back to my early childhood and the women next door, one evening I couldn’t come into church as I was so terrified, JM tried to coax me by saying ‘come in and meet these nice boys’ I replied ‘There is no such thing as nice boys’ which showed just how disturbed and wary I was.
I did meet the nice boys and joined in ‘prayer and praise’ and with the help of some wonderful people – (three youth leaders’ Names redacted), I became part of L. Youth Group, which remains one of the most blessed and rewarding and helpful parts of my young adulthood (back then I was one of only a few college students in a mainly school-age youth group), I grew to love prayer and praise and youth group, though I was way out of my depth at youth group as every young person at youth group came from the wealthy and high flying families of (the Benefice), and there was I, scruffy and with no background, surrounded by young people who literally had everything and more, but they accepted me as I was, and this was the first time I had known acceptance from young people, the last experience of a ‘Youth’ organisation had been when I was twelve, the youth club on the estate,where knives and fights happened and my brother was threatened with a knife.
I didn’t stop being ashamed of my poverty compared to the youth, my lack of style and speech and possessions, their conversations were about their horses and phones and weekends and going out and holidays and school situations, I listened and enjoyed the food and the company, but I had no holidays, no possessions, no ponies, no home, no wealthy family, nothing, and yet they accepted me as I was, and that youth group and their acceptance was one of the most beneficial things to me in all my adult years.
It offset the crazy inappropriateness of me with my background and condition being brought into such a wealthy church in such a wealthy district and suffering from church politics in this wealthy church where most of the congregation had extremely privileged and carefree lives and no understanding whatsoever of disturbed people and poverty and the things I had been through to leave me so disturbed;
this and JM’s opinion of me and FM’s behaviour meant it was hard for me to really belong properly, though during the time I was part of the L. benefice I did a tremendous variety of work for the church: sideman’s duties and welcoming at all three churches, reading lessons and prayers, handbell ringing at L. and bellringing training at C. –ended by my injured shoulder, tea and coffee duties, Sunday school helping briefly, Youth group helping, youth group sponsored events, taking all kinds of parts in helping with prayer and praise and all age worship, drama parts, fetching and carrying for JM, helping with many church related fundraising events, churchyard work, mission support work, helping with lunch club, helping with community based events such as S. fete, L. show, L. show service, L. flower festival, sometimes helping with flower arranging, these works were over the time I was part of the L. community and they helped me to grow and develop and communicate, I helped, I helped and nothing has ever given me more joy and delight in my life; and knowing that those days and my usefulness are gone and have been replaced by the label of wickedness and a criminal record is too much to bear.
JM would invite me for tea before church and youth group, FM was extremely unpredictable about this, and I was frightened of him and JM said he knew this, JM’s parents were also unpredictable and bickered with FM as well, I was always nervous being there, if FM made silly jokes rather than shouting then I would laugh to try and keep him nice instead of him turning angry, but he also liked to embarrass me and make me flustered and embarrassed, but his temper flipped suddenly and frequently, and the way he spoke to JM a lot of the time was horrible, she simply ignored it and told me that FM was ‘not nearly as bad as he used to be’.
One evening ( a youth leader ) was driving me and some of the others back from youth group outing, and she invited me back to her house for supper, she told me that her boyfriend, M., was cooking, I was a bit surprised, back then I had become dependent on the peace and healing service though, so I told her I wasn’t sure about missing that and missing seeing some of my friends there, but I feel sorry I turned that down, but at the same time I was a bit scared of meeting M. and also a bit puzzled as it hadn’t been that long since (her late husband’s) death, anyway, the youth leader married her new boyfriend and stopped being part of the church, the new family had four children in it, (2 names redacted) who were part of our youth group, and (tow younger children) who were very wild and threw stones and things when they first arrived in the village, but turned respectable with the village and A. and R.’s influence, and I wished I had been lucky enough to come from sadness into a good family like A&R’s, I always longed to be part of a family, I never considered myself part of A&R’s family, but later on in the last few years of her life, I remember A. inviting me to stay for a weekend and I said ‘are you sure?’ and she said ‘yes, but you will have to fend for yourself here, like the rest of the family do’. I accepted her invitations to stay, until it got to a point where I knew that even if she invited me she was too ill to have me to stay.
Through the Youth group I started being involved in helping with church activities, following the example of one of the members, *****, who was a sweet kind girl who helped out with church and community events, I managed to start taking part, when I met *****, she was at my very first L. show, handing out cakes at the show service, I was amazed to be greeted with a smile by her and when introduced, she was so friendly and welcoming, I honestly was not used to friendship from young people and I was amazed, delighted and panicking at the same time, she and her friends ***** and ******, some years younger than me, remained an inspiration to me for years, with their generous heartedness and compassion and good works. It was the first good I had known from young people.
The college work placement fell through, as I had known it would, JM jumped in and completely took over my life, it was as if I wasn’t human any more, she made the decisions, no one listened and heard what I had to say about the placement, JM said that the farm people couldn’t cope with me not listening to them, I tried to explain to her that I actually couldn’t understand most of what they were saying, but I was brushed aside, later diagnosed with dysphasia/speech input disorder, which has improved over the years, I was redeemed from that particular image of being awkward, but they had complained about me going back to the farm cottage for the toilet or when I fell down the bank, no one knew I had fallen down the bank because the jealous tractor driver’s wife had been so fierce that I had simply gone back to work upset, she gave the Tractor driver so much grief about him being alone with me or me going back to the cottage with him for lunch that that no doubt helped this hopeless placement to fail, an inexperienced or backward farm student needs to be on a stock farm, not a one-man arable farm, it was a disaster, and I was left with every ounce of the shame and blame for the disaster.
I had been trying to arrange a stock farm placement in Devon with a couple who seemed keen despite my problems, but JM took me over, I was not given the option of pursuing either a placement or a job on this farm, JM made arrangements to take me out of college, she did not consult me, she and the tutors were treating me as if I was an object, which made me lash out and react, the mentor who had told me all those untrue things about his life and had encouraged me in anger and given me his low opinion of my tutors and their attitudes was now in agreement with them about me, he had given up on his fantastic tales of South Africa, Shamans, being all kinds of things and having shamanistic powers, he wouldn’t even speak to me.
The tutors gave some sort of talk about how I could come back next year and do the management year and not get a qualification, which was insane because I would never get the funding, I had struggled with funding for two academic years, I would not be competent for the management year and I would be back alongside my old classmates who despised me, and would not have completed my work experience as they had. So I said no, I had lost the course, I was not being allowed to go into a new placement, and so I also lost my place in college accommodation, I was homeless. JM later said that the tutors had let her down and something about how she had agreed something about me going back with them, but this was when I had to get a letter saying I had left the course in order to be entitled to any benefits. JM helped me to apply for benefits, which I could never have done on my own.
( I wanted the qualification but didn’t really like the tutors or the college, I didn’t really realise that, despite being a big college, they had many problems, especially debt and personell problems, and they eventually merged with another college, and I hope they are doing better now, they are an animal care college now with very little agriculture). As I said in previous posts, I returned there within a year and studied various horticulture courses, but even so, I still didn’t like the place, and so many staff, most of the ones I knew, quit in the years following me quitting my agriculture qualification, which I took up succesfully and passed with distinctions at another college later).