Have a wonderful life

dscn1220The title of this weasel comes from a message that I received from someone unable to attend this morning’s festivities. I finally retired today so thanks for the sentiment which, if you’re a glass half full type of person, might be deemed quite optimistic in the face of old age. Actually, I’ve never fully understood that half a glass scenario: full or empty, it’s always the poor relation to a second bottle.

I think I should be sad. I’m not, although I did feel a tiny bit lonely later when they all cleared off to Wednesday afternoon training: ‘presentations in a nutshell’ or some such cryptically entitled event. ‘I envy you’, said the last of the departing in a slightly accusing voice; although I think this was more to do with the impending nutshell and accompanying parking problems rather than my escape.I suppose I will be sad when the enormity of my decision kicks in. Well, when I realise how many folk I will miss. My friends I mean; not the students.

I’ve been in the education game for thirty years and in the one-to-one business since 2000. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed working with the young people but, latterly, it’s all become too tricky. Some years ago, way before I was ever employed in Additional Learning Support, they gave me a young man to work with. Let’s call him Ahmed. It wasn’t his name but he was of the Muslim religion. His problems emanated from an horrific beating he’d received at school. In truth, I think it was more to do with colour than religion or culture. I was employed to help students overcome barriers to learning. Ahmed had a barrier to life. He spent all of our tutorials crying. He shouldn’t have been there so far from his family. He made such a huge impression and everyone loved him and wanted to wrap him up in tissue and repair his world. And we failed.

Since then, mentally and physically scarred young folk with the most dreadful problems have passed in and out of my office. They are traumatised by unspeakable things that happened to them before they ever arrived at university. They don’t eat or they eat too much. They don’t wash or they are obsessively clean. They have no friends because they can’t bear the thought of rejection. They cut themselves with blades and experts say ‘this is normal’. Well it’s not bloody normal and I am an educationalist and NOT a psychologist or psychiatrist or carer or anyone else dealing with lost causes. I don’t tell my family or friends what I’ve been up to because I’m ashamed that our institution, country, society puts the well-being of broken people into my hands. And that’s why I’m off.

So I went to meet an audiologist. You only have to look back over the weasels to understand the dreaded tinnitus. Paul, for we are already on first name terms, said he’d ‘assessed’ me from the moment he saw me in the waiting room. Apparently, the lost causes slump in their seats. I was upright and showing interest in ‘Escape to the Country’ on the TV; with handy sub-titles for those with ear problems. Well, given it was an audiology clinic, that would be all of us then. Mindfulness had been previously suggested. Paul ruled this out because he said I was already practising this by ignoring life. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, also previously suggested, was also eliminated as he said he could judge that I would not engage. This is a euphemism for ‘sneer’. I suggested that joining a tinnitus club might be depressing. Paul found this hilarious. He stuck a white noise aid in my ear. That’ll do then. Might’ve been useful earlier.

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