Sunday, May 28, 2017


I decided that it was time to move on from my job as a busker on the London Underground. Even though I was going to miss making money performing on my instruments, I'd grown sick of the increasingly mobile phone-obsessed public no longer appreciating my music; of having to put up with drunken behaviour; the heat down there; noisy station announcements and of exposing myself to the threat of terrorism just to pay my bills. It was good while it lasted, but enough's enough.

It's scary, though, thinking that I could fail in my quest to find more satisfying work as a musician, but when I think about it, I'm already doing it - earning good money locally as a double bass, piano and violin teacher. Hopefully it's simply a case of building on that; of nurturing my new-found sense of self-worth.

Whilst still in the midst of working through the trauma associated with being a survivor, trying to regain control of my 'pavement checking' OCD and now, struggling with a serious disconnect I've experienced with my counsellor, fighting for better things feels as if it's going to be a lot easier said than done.

Even in my darkest hours,however, my allotment, pets and partner, Jan, keep me loving, hopeful, and at the end of the day however bad life's got, my music's always had my back (so long as I work hard). Over the past year, yoga, too, has helped me enormously in terms of both my mental and physical health: OCD is no longer the boss of me, my headaches are fewer, and I've learnt how to breath and remain grounded throughout terrifying flashes I'll probably always have, associated with PTSD.

I've suffered from 'the doubting disease' of OCD for over 10 years: In that time I've learnt not to rely on my own memory in favour of compulsively writing down my experiencing and up until recently have lived life in a constant state of hypervigilance and fear. It's become clear to me that if I'm ever going to reverse this tendency and trust in myself and life again, I'm going to have to train myself to think positively.

Therefore, in addition to my yoga practice, I've added more or less daily meditation, journaling and the noting down of positive affirmations into the mix - and slowly I can feel my mindset shifting: Now when I fall into obsessively checking household appliances are off before leaving the house, I can think to myself and believe, "I can trust myself to protect myself and others." This doesn't stop me over-checking, but I no longer get myself into such a state in the process.

There are days when I feel so confused, so sad, not in control of my emotions, suicidal, utterly exhausted; like a lit firework in a confined space, and when my brain is having to process lots of new experiences or a change of routine it sometimes goes into meltdown and I find myself fixating on imaginary monsters coming out of an air vent; the pattern on somebody's shirt. It's beyond frightening, and I have to go straight to bed and stay there until it passes. It's also helped in these moments to take every day as it comes and not to look too far ahead.

And so to end with a couple of small victories: In the past whenever I taught my male double bass student, I suffered from bloating and abdominal pains throughout the lesson (somatic pain connected to having been sexually abused whilst alone in rooms by my grandfather). For the last three sessions, though, I haven't experienced this and have felt a lot more relaxed. Practicing kundalini yoga online with Carolyn Cowan has helped in this regard.

I also managed to put off asking Jan for reassurance for a couple of days that a man who invaded my personal space hadn't hurt me when I was badly triggered. This is the longest I've gone without this type of reassurance.


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