For a large portion of my life I managed to satirize my experiences in boarding school in India. In social situations with my “Indiakid” peers, I can keep up with the laughing and mockery and the absurd story-telling… which is usually how most social situations wound up. But then a silence will fill the room when I blurt out something like “… and then I was ankle-deep in shit!” (There was one incidence in which I was truly ankle deep in raw sewage)
By and large it has not been socially acceptable to talk about the difficult aspects of boarding school, and by and large it is avoided. In our early adult lives I had a difficult time expressing my individual feelings, so as a way of coping, I would find something absurd in a shared experience to laugh about.
We are individuals. It’s not realistic to expect that we go navigating the world and our lives as if they are common and shared.
In more recent years I have had to get more real about the harmful aspects of 3HO and India boarding school. Understanding the breadth of my experience allows me to examine my own life, my own actions, my own purpose, and my place in the world. Part of examining it is to acknowledge the traumatic aspects. As a young adult, I was under an assumption that trauma, or even post traumatic stress, was the result of one isolated incident that imprints in one’s mind and haunts the individual forever. But the more I looked at my own life I came to realize that the situation as children in India wasn’t one, singular or isolated traumatic incident. It was the multiplicity of chaotic situations that acted on us as the main stressors. Take the poor conditions of our environment, add the randomness in the kinds of punishments enforced on us, plus the minor but random violence imposed upon by teachers, and you have a institutionally hostile environment that day after day continues to compound the stress.
If this basic outline of our situation isn’t traumatic, I don’t know what is.
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