The breakthrough that changed things

Posted on March 26, 2014

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A few weeks ago, I went on this course called the Landmark Forum. With bold claims that it changes your life for the better, I went with excited intrepidation. 

But the morning of the first day, I got a text saying my grandpa had died. I still went on the course, but by the afternoon my head just wasn’t in it. I just wanted to flop in front of the TV and watch shit stuff. I’d been on the go for 2 weeks, back and forth between Malta and the UK when he was in hospital; and hardly had any time for myself.

Unfortunately it was a 4 day course so I never really got anything from the time I had spent there.

But my friend who has been raving about the Landmark Forum, did the advanced course last weekend and yesterday she invited me to her 4th day – it’s not technically a day, they do it in the evening on the following Tuesday after the 3 day intensive weekend (9am to 11pm every day with very few breaks). And on the Tuesday they let you invite their friends and loved ones to experience a taster of what the Forum is all about.

I went along, with an open mind and I think also secretly wishing a little bit, that I would get something from it. The course isn’t cheap, and whilst luckily they refunded me my £410, I knew I couldn’t sign up for another one just yet because of my cash flow situation. 

The guy sat next to me, we took the piss a bit – more cynical than I am, we joked about how arrogant we must be that we don’t think we have any more ‘work to do’ on ourselves. Even though I knew deep down I probably do, since i’m so bloody miserable all the god damn time.

We heard people get up and talk about how the course had made them realise things they didn’t know, stuff that totally changed their outlook and perspective on relationships, both the good and the bad. And we did some exercises. Simple stuff really, exercises that you almost balk at because you can’t believe you’re seriously doing it. It feels bit simplistic, like the room must be full of people who’ve never had therapy, or picked up a self help book in their life.

But then just as i’m thinking about how sometimes I feel like i’m trapped inside the body of my 13 year old self, feeling lost and alone and desperate to end my life I realise something I’ve never thought before. And it’s triggered by the stark fact that I had a dream about someone from my life back then, literally just the night before.

And there she is, staring me in the face.

The girl who ‘ruined my life’.

The girl who started it all for me. My paranoia. My deep lack of confidence. My need to build a defensive armour.

This is a girl who I thought was my best friend. My confidante. 

I was the girl who stood up for the people who got bullied at school, but then I became the target. And for ages I never knew why. When I walked down the corridors people would whisper about me, and call me names that didn’t make sense to me, until I started hearing them repeatedly and realising they were all about me. I would go back to my friend, get upset and cry and ask her why, why are people saying all this stuff about me. And then it turned out it was all started by her.

I spent a year around that time as a bit of a loner, scared to become friends with anyone.

Then a new girl came and she was just like me. An outcast. And we grew really close really quickly, the loser girls who actually think they’re quite cool and don’t understand why no one else does. We would steal booze from the off license, smoke ciggies at the back of the field at school which quickly upgraded to spliffs – a habit I had (and loved) for another ten years.

I kept quiet about my knowledge of my confidante’s betrayal until one day a few years later. There was a few of us in the same friendship group and we were all quite into the party scene at this stage. We got high on speed and I remember thinking, in that almost innocent way that people open up when they’re high ‘this is the moment, i’m gonna let her know, that I know’. 

But I knew it was a bad thing to do. I wanted her to feel bad. I wanted to make her feel like a bit of a cunt, actually. And that’s exactly what I did. I don’t know if I ever spoke to her again after that. What I do know, is that she never ever took drugs again.

 

So fast forward 18 years and there I am sat at the Landmark Forum on guest night, and I’m remembering that I just dreamed about this old friend from school, the girl who ‘fucked up my life’. I’m thinking about how I’ve held onto this pain for so long, this anger about how she treated me, about how if it wasn’t for her I would probably have made so many different decisions in my life, I would have been a totally different person from the off set, and it wouldn’t have taken me nearly 20 bloody years to sort my insecurities out. As much as I may have pretended that experience didn’t hurt me at the time, it really fucking did. I remember breaking down and crying at school so many times because I knew people were talking about me behind my back and I just couldn’t work out why. I thought I was going crazy. This friend would comfort me and tell me it’s all in my head. Then a few weeks later she’d ask me things that didn’t make sense to me. Stuff that linked back to the very rumours she had been spreading. She was really nasty.

But that’s her issue, isn’t it.

I need to take some responsibility for the way I reacted. And I need to forgive her for being a teenager, and clearly a teenager with issues. But I also need to forgive myself for being a vulnerable, and perhaps a little bit naive, young person as well. And for not dealing with it at the time, and just pretending I was fine when I wasn’t, equally not confronting her about it in the right way.

So I want to apologise for my behaviour.

I need to tell her that the way I dealt with it was wrong. Even if I inadvertently did her a favour and she never took drugs again. Ironically I took a lot of drugs again. I filled my lungs and my stomach with self medication that only served to fill a void and allow me to believe I was happy and having fun, which was the one thing I craved after that experience at school. 

I messaged her earlier on facebook and she replied later this evening.

I think i’m going to meet her for a coffee and clear the air. I reckon it’s time to let go of feeling like the scared, paranoid, unloved little girl.

 

Now, if you can get all that from a few hours on a taster session – i’m just wondering what a whole 3 day course could unearth….

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