A Small Trigger
I’m going to learn how to use a sewing machine. I say I’m “going to” with firm assurance because I have attended the first two classes to do so the last two Tuesday mornings just gone with my mother and she is attending courses with me.
I’ve learned to sew in a straight light on a sewing machine and how to turn corners. I also learned how to thread a sewing machine and that my personal sewing machine from eBay is bust (hey – thanks Mr. Seller for not letting me know that – faboo) thank goodness I know two engineering type males with lots of experience of sewing machines both repairing and using (because some real men can knit and sew by both hand and machine, ladies and gents – just as much as some real men can’t).
The first week was pretty hard at the beginning but turned out great toward the end and both my mother and I were looking forward to the next week and planning out our own little sewing group together at her house for when my son is at nursery or school (in future).
It was hard toward the beginning because the community centre was in the neighbourhoood where I lived with my ex (the one before my son’s father) for near a whole year. This was the ex in fact who tried to kill me. We had walked past the community center on almost a nightly basis, where we would walk in the evening or in the dead of night for fresh air and to talk, for several months and we distinctly less than 1000 feet away from the playing field that I had fled to after he’d put his hands around my neck… the field where he found me and brought me back to his place to live for another 5 months because I believed I genuinely had no place to go.
Driving into that neighbourhood again was triggering and it caused me to shake and break down in tears. I sat in the car silently weeping as I relived an experience I have tried to put past me, and into my past, for 6 (running on 7) years. My grandmother and mother were there to support me and to assure me that we were here to replace the bad memories I had with good ones. Even now I start to get a little teary repeating it and I know that it’d probably be better for me mentally to just not go over it but I can’t help it – it needs to get out of my body through my fingers.
Drying my eyes and getting out of the car was hard – but something I did and we managed, my mother and I, to have a pretty good time. Because so many people were away on holiday or sick it was just the four of us and the tutor – a nice quiet African lady named Olla and another woman who I can’t recall the name of.
We got a lot done that day, learning about the different machines that the lady brought in, threading them and sewing straight lines and boxes. My mum made a small pocket which was really cool because she did it quite well and her track record of using sewing machines (spontaneously blowing up on her when she sits down at them) is not great. Fortunately nothing has broken so far.
So we left that session really looking forward to the next week with a positive impression.
I Was Not There to Join Your “Stitch and Bitch”
The next session we discovered something else.
Every Tuesday morning, failing only in ill-health and holidays there is a group of women who all tumble in to a local community centre to do “crafts”. Mostly sewing but with miscellaneous others over the weeks. Anyone is free and welcome to join their group, they come from the local area as well as some of the “posher” areas of our home town. It matters not to them if people are tenants, leaseholders or own their own home. The average age is above 70. The average decibel of the meetings seems to rival that of a KISS concert and tea breaks are decided by them without reference to anything so mundane as passing instructors supposedly leading groups. It is, so far as I can tell, a “stitch and bitch” group – but given the age of the ladies involved, no so bluntly titled.
Last week a course started in that community centre each Tuesday morning for a sewing course run by the local councils (borough and county together, county runs it – the borough does the booking of the people onto the courses) for tenants and leaseholders. They’re very keen on these courses to help people on their tenancy rolls to give them either life skills or something to get them involved in activities with other tenants and build a sense of community or something.
Either way – it’s not an open group, but an actual course run by a paid tutor that had to be applied to through phoning and only through late publication of the pamphlet listing the courses were people allowed to book places less than 4 weeks in advance of the starting.
My mother and I were on the course, and so were the two women from last week, as well as at least two more that attended this week – a nice quiet woman by the name of Sarah who comes from the same neighbourhood as I do and arrives via bus – and a young man by the name of Phillip (who also has autism as well it turns out) who cycled from a village several miles away to attend.
The rest of the women who attended were the established group not on the course but who have decided that the people on the course are “joining their group” – this was decided when a woman introduced herself as coming from a posh area of town and being a home owner – something that had confused Phillip and caused my mother to clarify why Phillip brought it up.
“I don’t see why that matters!” the woman exclaims. “Really – You’re joining OUR group.”
No – no we’re not. We’re on a course for tenants and leaseholders to learning sewing – something that another member of your group has admitted to doing on a regular basis – you are an established craft group who have muscled IN on our course and taken it over.
Which is exactly what they did. They took over.
They were loud, with one woman, identified by my mother later as a “motormouth”, who couldn’t keep quiet for five seconds as she complained to us in long and insufferable details about all the things wrong with her free holiday that someone within her family had won and taken her on.
“Look at all them! They’re miles ahead of me! All they’ve done and I’ve barely started.”
Perhaps she would have been further ahead in her sewing had she perhaps closed her mouth for long enough as to allow her hands to work.
The tutor asked her to quiet once, but this merely responded in a 2 second silence and a slightly reduced level to her whispered conversations with the woman sitting next to her.
Admittedly my mother and I whispered to.
Mostly reassuring each other that it was okay as we both got flustered from the crowd and noise. My mother having an absent fit (not epileptic – no shaking – it just means that she looks like she’s asleep for half a minute while she can’t respond to anything at all, can’t move, can’t open her eyes, can’t speak… like she’s not there. Caused by inter-cranial pressure). After these fits she generally needs to be able to just sit quietly and gather herself… quiet being not just a stranger to the women in their group but an outright declared enemy.
Me – I was so overloaded by so much crowding, a woman looming right over me constantly (she did not sit down due to problems with her back – but she did loom), and so much noise… I shook enough that I couldn’t really sew properly.
I had to leave the room and sit outside the building three times, twice to stim quietly to try and relax… the sound still carrying on upon the breeze that I clapped my hands over my ears to try and block it out, and once as I succumbed to a panic attack and started to convulse for almost a minute and desperately trying to regulate my breathing.
Phillip seemed to be fine, a friendly young man who doesn’t seem to have much of an issue with personal space and could get quite loud – possibly it was a good day for him and merely an average to slightly bad day to me. I had not had much sleep the night before.
Either way – my mother and I had a pretty awful time of it.
We have told the organizers that if there is a repeat next week of this week, the taking over by the crafts group and the tutor unable to control the group properly as well as the noise level being so bad – that it will be our LAST week. We will drop out and merely do sewing at mum’s house together where we can have our cups of tea and speak to each other quietly.