Saturday, 22 March 2014

Mind the Gaps - A Fear Overcome. (Written 2006)

'The train now approaching the station is the eight fifteen, Bath Spa to Cardiff Central', the announcer said. 

My mum squeezed my hand as we walked towards the edge of the platform. I wasn't scared of the thunderous noise as the train approached, not with my mum's fingers wrapped reassuringly around my own. 

I wasn't even scared as a crowd of people hurried behind me. "Come on, step up," my mum said as the train came to a halt and its big doors opened. I did as I was told and stretched my little leg to bridge a gap between platform and train. 

Suddenly there was a sharp pain through my knee, a cramping pain that ran right to my toes. I froze. "Mum," I whispered, "Mum". She didn't hear me. "Mum," I said, much louder this time. I couldn't make the gap. My heart was pounding. This time she heard me and to my relief lifted me over and into the warmth of the carriage. I took my place and the sense of relief was so strong. I nearly cried. 

As I sat there, in the safety of the seat, my seven year old mind realised then and there just how different my life was from that of other people's. I remember the moment clearly. The memory of that train, pain, and the 'black gap' would give me nightmares for months and trigger a phobia that would last over fifteen years. 

"Honey, I can't do this," I said weakly. We made our way to the edge of the platform. I trembled as the doors of the 8.53 to London Paddington opened. 

"Don't worry love," Colin said as he stepped on ahead of me and held out his hand. "Just don't look at it." But I knew it was there and took a fleeting glimpse at the black hole between platform and train that was my nightmare. I swallowed hard, put my shaking fingers in his and stepped across. 

Once in my seat the relief washed over me and as my hear rate returned to normal, I thought back to that day so long ago. 
Just like before, I had what you would call an epiphany as I sat there, with my husband's arms wrapped around me. 

It suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't scared any more. I had him and he accepted everything I was, disability and all. More importantly, I had accepted me. No longer a shy seven year old, realising for the first time how hard life would be, I was now twenty-five and married. I had lived, and I had done it the hard way. 

What I'm trying to say, maybe not as articulately as I usually would, is that you can overcome anything. All you need is the guts to take a chance, and the most importantly, the love of someone who believes in you. Even if you don't have that from someone else, you can find it within you. If you have faith in yourself and take things step by step, you can do it. 

While I'm here too, I will tell you, that I'm not afraid of those gaps anymore either, I just put my best foot forward... 


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