This is the second part of a bunch of posts that I've finally been bullied into writing after years, and though I hope it is self-containing (it probably isn't: it was written straight after the first at 1:45am), reading part one is probably helpful.
After spending ten years at my first nursery/school, I moved, aged thirteen, to my second. Nothing could be as radical as it was: going from a (private) prep school of around 100 pupils to a (state) secondary school of around 1700, with my year alone three times the size of my prior school; going from somewhere where there were occasional some fights which resulted in nobody getting hurt at all to somewhere where every week or two a fight would conclude with the police arriving; going from being the tallest person in my old school, who knew every last corridor and passageway within the building, to being moved up a year (moving into the third, of six, year) and being among those taller than me, and being completely lost in a far larger building.
I came to my new school, Madras (no, not in the city of the same name, but in St Andrews, Scotland, and yes, there is a reason for the name), seeking refuge from the endless torment of my previous school. Inevitably, I had my reservations about seeking refuge in a place with a far worse reputation for bullying than where I was before (as it turned out, while some bullying there was far worse, the amount of bullying that went on was proportionately far less for the size of the school).
My first day, although in some ways hectic (as it turned out, a piece of paper had been misplaced, and, uh, there wasn't a timetable for me like I should've been), was essentially all right: I ended up in classes surrounded by fundamentally good people, and almost entirely with fairly nice teachers. Even the bunch of people I got dropped into (by the year head) weren't the total teacher suck-ups I was somewhat expecting to be dropped into…
Despite this good start and a generally good opening week, I would miss the following two weeks from stomach pains, what would be diagnosed as nervous fear of my entirely new environment, though that diagnoses would change radically to the early symptoms of PVFS a few months later. After my return, I would be at school for just another two short weeks before missing the remainder of the term, and the entire next term (of the four per year) with the primary part of PVFS (i.e., sleeping around 15 hours per day, and living on 26 hour days).
Eventually, six months after starting, I would, three afternoons a week, get the chance to finally build my life up from what it was at my previous school. I fell into a group of friends easily enough, and everyone was very welcoming, so at least I didn't feel entirely abandoned, a stranger in a strange land. The rest of the year (an entire five months) would pass uneventfully on this three afternoons a week timetable (missing, as it happened, all my French lessons).
Of course, the school, in its own way, the year ended in June… and the next year started the following Tuesday (the Monday was a
teacher in-service training day, i.e., meetings all day for teachers). The summer holidays would start at the beginning of July. It was around this time when I started to move away from the group of friends I had got into five months before (though I would remain with ties to them for the remaining three years) to a new group of friends, who just seemed more fun to be around.
Fourth year passed by and large uneventfully (excluding the eternal hopeless romance) until study leave and the first real exams I had to sit. I already knew that one of the two really good friends I had made was leaving, so gone at least somewhat mentally was one of the two people I really trusted (which, per the previous post, was something I held in highest esteem, as I really like having people I can talk to about almost anything), and the other, just as I was arriving for my first French exam (all four were on the same day, though none over an hour in length), told me he had spoken to the girl who I was at the time hopelessly in love with, and that she had said I was a really nice guy. However, from his tone of voice and his over-reassuring about its authenticity made me doubt the very authenticity he flaunted.
I spent the rest of day (including all of the French exams) trying to reconcile my emotions: one guy I trusted was leaving the school and my life forever, the other had just betrayed my trust and lied to me. How I got the top grade in French that year, based purely upon my exam results, remains a mystery, as by the end up the day I was wondering if one of the very two people who I had very slowly and very carefully got up to having almost absolute trust in had betrayed me, who could I trust at all? Nobody, was the only answer. And how can you live without trust? You can't. That was the first time when I left the house in which I lived with no intention of ever returning, an action that would repeat itself several times per week for the next few months.
Nevertheless, I stayed alive, and would return after study leave to start the next year of school, and to live some of the most surreal weeks of my life. I remember walking down the path, out of school, at lunch with the bunch of people I would have a month prior called my friends, making sure to always be out of reach of them, lest they turn and attack me. I had lost all trust in everyone, and could trust least of all those who I had trusted the most before.
It was these first few weeks of the new year which taught me that living without trust was genuinely impossible, but also it was these first few weeks that introduced me to people in my year whom I had never known before (still a weird feeling to someone who had previously known everyone in his entirely school). It was then that I started to get to know one girl in my year who would become the first person to make me happy after what had happened a month before during study leave (she would remain the only person to do this for many months to come). It was a glimmer of hope, which I clung on to in all desperation, clung on to just strongly enough to survive. The result of her being my source of hope, my sole source of hope, was inevitable: I fell for her, and to this day (two and a half years later) would do anything for her.