Monday, June 13, 2011

Sound of Music - Loss of Innocence

This is a sweater, set in sleeves, I am in the process of knitting on my Silver Reed 830 fine gauge machine. I have used TD5 and the gauge is 37st and 53r to 10cm.
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The yarn is 70% Mongolian Cashmere and 30% Silk. It is 2/58 weight (2900m/100g). I have used 6 ends together. I do not do anything special. I threaded 3 ends into two separate masts.

I have used this yarn 3 times before and sold each sweater.
This time I would like to keep this for myself! The handle is fantastic. So soft and smooth you could wear it is a jock strap.

It is machine washable and can be tumble dried.

I have had a strange day. I think my mood could be best described as melancholy. I do not mean depressed. Not at all. I have been listening to music which has sent me back in time to my childhood. Nana Mouskouri and the soundtrack of The Sound Of Music move me deeply. For years this has been so. Just listening, no matter my mood, brings tears quickly to my eyes and constricts my throat.

I have been trying to figure out why. I think I have.

We went as family to see the Sound of Music when it first came out. About 1965. I would have been between 6 and 7yrs old. I very clearly remember wanting to dance and sing on the way home and I did. It is a very happy memory in what was otherwise a very dark period of my life. My father's reaction to my reaction to this film-joy-was one of shame and anger. I can't think of another moment in my childhood where I understood clearly that I was not acceptable to my parents.

This whole period was very strange. I was already afraid of men yet I do not know why. My father's violence, as far as I can recall, was yet to explode upon me. I only know that it was during this period that I began to hate school. I turned up one day to discover that my class teacher was a man and I was frightened and unhappy. During this same time period I witnessed by best friend at the time be killed in what would now be classed as a racist hate crime.

My father's cruelty was apparent even then. One day he dragged us out to the garden to show us our dead pet rabbit. He blamed us for it's death. Typical of him. No sense of personal responsibility and always ready to blame. I saw it's dead eyes, covered in some sort of white stuff. I imagine it died of myxomatosis. Of course a 3, 6 and 9 yr old were to blame.

Nan Mouskouri also marks another sad time in my time life. To put it mildly. Living in Australia, after 3-4 years in Singapore. A soft English boy uprooted yet again but this time dropped into the tough outback of Australia, in a sheep town. I stood no chance. Within weeks I was being sexually abused again, a teacher who was a child pornographer, and feeling I was to blame.(Well, I was told so! I was wickedness personified. Nuns had been telling me this for years.)

So why on earth do I listen to this music? What is it about it that has me yearning? The memories it conjures up are not good ones.

I think it has to do with innocence and loss and hope. I was unaware back then. I did not know I had been robbed of my innocence. I did not know how much I had lost. I had no idea of these things. I felt very little back then. I had learned to disassociate and I was expert at it.

Hope. It was also a time of hope. I still had hope back then. This was before the fantasy I lived in was shattered and I had to give up hope.

The fantasy I lived in, my make believe world, was one filled with impossible dreams and soul destroying hope. I kept going because I believed I was going to find what it was that was missing in me. One day, I was going to be loved and accepted by my family and I would be popular amongst my peers. I would be noticed. I would do great things. I would prove to my parents and the world that I was a good boy. The world was black and white, as I had been taught it was and in that world, all I had to do was find the key that would transform me from this shameful, unacceptable, ugly wretch into a someone that people would want to be around and not shun.

It seems therefore obtuse to feel the loss of that so keenly. It isn't. Black and white thinking is comforting and it feels safe. It is why the world is full of people who think in such terms (religious fundamentalism is one such result of black/white thinking). It is not obtuse to long for a time when life was very simple, even if that life was also very painful.

It was a time when one could really believe that nothing bad could happen to a good person. Bad things happened to me on a daily basis. Therefore I was bad. I clung to the hope that I could make myself good and thus stop the abuse.

This is why my real recovery did not happen until I had given up hope.

Today I know I shall die. I know that bad things happen to good people. I also know that no matter what I do, no matter what I become, I will never be who my parents wanted. I will never be acceptable to my family or the world at large.

I also know who I am today. I know that I am good and whole. I know that I cannot regain what I have lost. I know too that I would never want to go back into that dark thinking, that admitted no light, no relief, no love. Who I am today is not a boy whistling in the dark to keep my spirits up. I truly understand how good and whole I am. I also know that this is no protection from the bad things that happen to human beings. I know that one day I will suffer the ultimate loss and there is nothing I can do about it. Nothing at all.

I choose therefore to live today, now, in this time that I have. I choose not to go back. I choose not to allow others to drag me down or back. I choose to resist the temptation inherent in rigid thinking patterns. I choose to keep my mind open.

I have envied those who long to be a child again. I have assumed they must have had a good and happy one. Now I know that isn't true for all of us and that it isn't so odd to hanker after a period of life that was so truly awful it is the stuff of present nightmares. It isn't the reliving of childhood one hankers after, it's the innocence of thought, the hope, one longs for.

The hope that one day the truth will not be the truth. It is the fairytale, the fantasy, that one can change others and events by being good.


Pru said...

This post affected me profoundly, Colin. While I was thankfully never exposed to the cruelty and abuse which you suffered, this too was a very unhappy age for me (bullies and corporal punishment at school), yet I still think back to those days wistfully, perhaps because there were occasional bouts of escapism like trips to the flicks to see films like "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins". You are right, many of us still hanker after an innocence long departed, even if the time itself was miserable. Thank you for your thoughtful posts. Few boys grew up to be Billy Elliot, more's the pity.

Multimedia Class said...

"It is the fairytale, the fantasy, that one can change others and events by being good." Yes I so agree. What a misconception. I have had to learn this lesson over and over again. Sometimes it is good to be a little bit bad!!! Its for the greater good.

Terri said...

I think the sound of music represented proof (to most abused children), that it WAS possible to be a child whose parents valued them and from our black and white perspective - we believed that the ability to sing and dance was the key to earning that value.

Tamara Gwathmey said...

I wish you love, joy, peace, wholeness, and healing...all these that I am currently holding onto as a "childhood" survivor. I love music as well, and it still soothes the mind.