The two worlds…an extreme culture shock…for you and I!

Jumping out of one world and straight into another is like walking on what you think is solid ground, and then realising at the last minute it’s a frozen lake, and you stand on a weak bit, and fall through. Out of nowhere there is absolute shock and coldness so incredible you don’t know which way is up, or how to function anymore. Then you find the hole, climb out of it, and now you understand the context of the world around you…can adapt accordingly.

Falling into the icy lake was and is a shock. I’m now in the process of climbing out of the hole, but every so often I slip back in because I forget the traits of a frozen lake.

What is it like? This massive culture shock. I am not exaggerating when I say it really is another world, the one you all live in. I often feel like an alien, completely isolated and unsure of how this world works and functions. I hear about things people have called police for and I think oh. Is that serious enough for the police in this world? But nobody is dead…? I hurt myself or dislocate my shoulder and my friends advise me to go to hospital and I think Okay, fear of hospitals aside, is this really classed as serious enough for hospital? But I’m still conscious? Don’t I just need to get on with it?

I’ll watch people who are in an extreme level of stress over things like coursework, or finances, or relationships, or time management, etc etc. All of these to me seem very worthy things to be stressed about. However, I watch them in that stress and think my God you’re so brave, letting people see you’re stressed. Won’t you get punished for it? And then I remember with a jolt – these people have never been raped by a corkscrew or beaten up or held underwater as a result of showing signs of stress. The idea is probably very alien to them and out of this world…just as their ideas are alien to me and out of my world.

I live at the top of a big hill, which overlooks the town I live in. Sometimes I’ll stand at the end of our drive, and look down at the town. I’ll watch the cars in the distance driving, the trains speeding across the valley. I’ll see a plane or two fly over. I’ll see ants (people) on the fields. And I feel like if I put my hand out, I’ll feel glass, and actually I’m looking into a snowglobe – beautiful but ultimately not real. I look at the world bustling by and think you have no idea, do you? Do you realise there’s an extremely dangerous and dark world running parallel to you? I hear them all talking about the latest doctor who show, or the harry potter films, and commenting on how clever it was of the author/film director to set up a world within a world. I look at them and I want to laugh, very loudly. Clever?! You fools. IT’S REAL. Okay we don’t have patronuses and wands, and neither did I have a helpful tardis to jump me backwards and forwards, but there is very definitely another world running right alongside your own. I would know. I’m currently in limbo and jumping between the two.

Repeatedly I have been told by friends, professionals etc that I have a “right to safety.” Initially, I had no idea what this meant. Nada. None. Zilch. Zip. But they said it with such meaning that I realised they knew exactly what they meant, and the impression I got was that it was supposed to be obvious. Feeling very stupid and naive, I said nothing, but nodded my fake understanding. I felt like the churchill dog.

What is this right to safety? What, indeed, is safety? Wasn’t I safe, when you told that to me? I wasn’t being tortured, I wasn’t being kidnapped, I knew where I was and I knew who I was with. Didn’t this reason as me being “safe”? Okay so I didn’t know if I’d be jumped on the moment I stepped outside the building, and whether I’d be taken in a car and raped…but only at that point am I unsafe, surely? And hey…if they don’t use objects, then I’m really actually quite safe in comparison? No?

Oh Jade how naive you were.

I now understand by “safety” they were using a code-word for this world. “You have a right to safety” basically meant “you have a right to be in this world.” I decided this was what they meant. Which is why it came as a shock when a “normal” man in this world assaulted me. In comparison to past stuff what he did was nothing. But I was stunned. Hang on! You’re in THIS world!! You’re supposed to be safe?!

It was then that I realised this world has its dangers too, of course. No world is idyllic, but then that would be dull. This world just isn’t a world where children being tortured and killed is seen as the norm. This I am still getting my head round. I still have moments of “why are you so shocked?” when my friends look aghast at whatever I’ve just said in passing about the world I was (and am, to an extent) part of. I’m like, but that’s normal? And they’re like..no Jade, it’s really not normal. At all.

And later, I smile. Because who can determine what “normal” is? Especially when comparing worlds. It’s simply not possible. Each world have their own rules, values, systems and norms etc. In that respect the fundamental basics are the same. And yet they couldn’t be any more polar opposite. And there’s stuff each world could learn from each other, if they just wanted to. The “bad” world is far better at keeping their eyes open and understanding what’s going on around them, whereas I have to say I’ve noticed a distinct stubborn blindness in this world – if it’s too horrible, just close your eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist. Guys, you’re not three anymore. Open your eyes, because people need rescuing. The other world is far far more aware of your existence and the way you work, because they have open eyes. This world feels so much more “every man for himself” and yet in the “bad” world such a mindset would get you killed, for certain.

And yet this world has this very important thing called “boundaries” which are simply an unknown concept in the “bad” world, and if a boundary should appear in the “bad” world, it is there simply to be violated. I have said before and I’ll say it again, perhaps the most helpful thing my friends have done in grabbing my hand and pulling me into their world was laying down firm boundaries, and sticking to them, and asking me to stick to them. Suddenly, boundaries were respected and not used to hurt people. This ultimately made me feel safe, accepted, and my rights listened to and respected. Finally, I could say “no.” What a bizarre feeling… also everyone in this world seems immediately more compassionate and understanding, even the adults. I must say this threw me substantially. I met a couple of kind adults and thought they were just extraordinary and going against the norm…until I met more, and more…and suddenly I realised that not every adult is a rapist, murderer or other psychopathic nutjob. I liked this world where adults cared for children and respected each other’s boundaries (on the whole). This is what they meant by “safety.”

What I don’t have time for is the bitching that goes on in this world. It amuses me and exasperates me at the same time. I want to scream LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR THIS. But of course, how would they know? They haven’t been in the position for years of not knowing they’d wake up the next day, and holding children and babies as they took their last breath. They also haven’t been in the position where bitching inevitably cost lives. Unquestionably. If there’d been bitching in the ring, then the wrong person getting that gossip would turn it into something deadly. I watch people here carelessly bitch (and then wonder why they have arguments with friends) and carelessly gossip about each other and ridicule each other, and for no apparent reason pick a fight with someone they apparently care for. It bewilders me. Are you simply so bored? Or is this actually societal norm in this world?

And what is with this whole judging shit? Don’t get me wrong, there were obviously judgements and prejudice in the “bad” world too, but of a different level. But here I see people being judged for weight, height, glasses, hair, sexual orientation, religion, class, home, family, speech, education, looks, body flaws etc and I don’t understand it. By the way, in case you hadn’t worked it out for yourselves, *nobody* has the perfect body. We all have our unique parts. I have stretch marks, but bizarrely not on my stomach. They cover my upper thighs, mainly the back. Random huh? I also have scars. I am also very pale, very small, and with a jawline belonging to a man. I’m also gay.

Judge me if you will, and if you really can’t think of anything better to do with your lives. I see all the hideous stories in your news, judgement after judgement leading to tragedy. Here’s a thought for you: before you open your mouths in shock at my story of the abuse I suffered, how about you stop abusing yourselves? How about you stop abusing complete strangers on the other side of the globe just because they’re not your idea of “perfection”? Do they impact on your life at all? No? Then for God’s sake just leave them be. Because one day that stranger may be the person who rescues you from something evil. Maybe you’ll get cancer and that stranger you abused by judging and ridiculing them, is the one with the right bone marrow. Would you refuse their help because they’re not perfect? Get a sodding grip, and grow up WORLD. You’d all be horrified at the idea of being an “abuser”, the majority of you are good people. And yet you’ll bitch, gossip, point out someone’s flaws, judge people by what they look like or if they’re gay, or if they’re a different skin colour to you, or if they just don’t seem “socially appropriate” because their heads don’t tick in the same way as yours.

Hate to break it to you, but this is called bullying, and cowardly bullying at that, because you’re bullying total strangers who you may not even meet in person, but have just seen in a magazine. And media? I blame you. I blame you for this societal bullying. How you can be so entertained by making an article on how a celebrity has PUT ON WEIGHT is beyond me. People put on weight. It happens. Leave the poor people alone and actually put something in your daft magazines that’s inspirational and won’t give people a body complex, or the reason to think that judging people by weight is acceptable.

This world also seems to have a need for drama, and the “bad” world is full of drama that people have a need to escape from. It’s really quite bizarre being in the middle. By this, I don’t mean that everyone here are drama queens. What I mean is that the royal princess can have morning sickness and it’s worldwide news. (Really?) That is what I mean. And then when some catastrophic news is broadcasted, everyone is stunned – “really? That happened? Can you believe it?” And then the media fogs your brain with images of a “fat” celebrity or news of the latest celebrity divorce.

AAAHHH. How materialistically fucked up is this world? I love this world and the people in it that I’ve met so far. I love the ability to wake up everyday and not get raped. I love the fact it’s not “normal” for children to be subjected to hideous torture. I love the fact there is justice. I love the fact people are generally compassionate. And yet I’m still bewildered at how a more mature society, with more caring people, can make it normal to bully strangers and focus on a pregnant woman’s morning sickness. (It happens, guys.)

Okay rant over. I’m not trying to diss this world, there’s no denying it is the far better one. It just has frankly confusing aspects of what is “normal” in the same way you would all look at the world I’ve just come from and be confused/stunned/horrified at what is “normal.” It’s just a case of cultural understanding.

I have to remind myself I’m in this world, constantly. I will brush my fingers along the cool wall at home, and press my hand on it. I will rest my forehead on it, and I will think – is this safety? Am I finally out of that hell? Is this real? Will I wake up from this dream? Whenever I get a shower, I have to leave it running for a bit first, just to make sure it’s definitely a safe shower. At night I will wake at the slightest sound, convinced someone is in my room and about to rape me. I see black vehicles and go cold, very sure that I’m about to be kidnapped.

And then I stand and feel the wind against my face. I feel the rain pour over me. I feel the sun beat down on me. I sit around a table and laugh until it hurts with friends. I stare at my email inbox which despair, and wonder how I’ll ever get through them all. I go for walks in the countryside. I go shopping. And then I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s all real. I’m really in this world. And it stuns me.

Every night, I close my bedroom door, and the mask comes off. The emotions all hit me, just the emotions of having become a “part” of this world. I sink to the floor, and I cry, silently and heavily. Sad? Kind of. I mourn for the life I had. But also relief, desperate and intense relief. I made it. I’m here. Again, I pinch myself and touch the surroundings around me to convince myself of this, and see a glossy magazine on my desk as proof that I’m in this world.

And then I feel guilt. Because if I’m in this world, and I’m “safe”, or at least safer than I’ve ever been…then why am I alone? Where are the other children? Didn’t they have a right to this world too? Didn’t they have a right to safety? What made me so different that I made it, and they didn’t?

I touch the walls, I rest my head against it. I glance wearily at the glossy magazine and smile at this world’s beautiful imperfections, which makes the idea of this world more accessible and I can believe that I can be a part of it. I look out of the window at the stars, the same stars myself and the children looked at when trapped in the other world, and I wonder about them. I wonder about the ones I knew who look down at me from the sky, and I cry for those that are still trapped in that hellish world, and needing to be rescued.

And this is why I will never “let go” of my past. I will never make a life for myself in this world that’s materialistic or money-focussed, or just focussed on what I want. Because I’m a survivor from that other world, and I know what that world is like, and can look upon this world with a fresh pair of eyes. I’m in a lucky, yet painful, position. I can fight for those children whilst being in this world. What a dichotomy.

And that’s what I will do. I will keep speaking, keep writing, and keep fighting for those children. I can’t fix that world. I can’t fix this world. But I can try and help someone overcome their world.

But first…I must get out of this frozen lake and fully accept the fact I’m not in the “bad” world anymore. I am here. I am naive and young in this world, and yet mature beyond my years in the “bad” world. So I will take from my past lessons which will equip me in this world, and I will learn about the “norms”, and when I am strong enough…I will go back with the knowledge which arms me, and I will fight for the children still trapped in a world of ritualistic abuse.

Keep fighting, little ones. There’s a whole world out here waiting to greet you with open arms…

J

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