Friday 10 January 2014

Reliving The Trauma

I've been sat here for over an hour now, the screen remains 99% blank with just a few words filling the space. I'm asking myself over and over if I really want to do this and part of me screams out yes, then there is another tiny voice shouting no, no, NO. 

It was September 2001, I can't remember the date, it's took me so long to forget it, I don't want to remember it again. I was 11 year's old and holidaying in sunny Spain with my family - my Dad, older brother Paul, two older sister's Paula and Chelsea and my younger brother Jamie, we was just a few day's into the holiday, enjoying ourselves to the maximum each fun filled day when it all changed. 

I can't remember much about the hotel, I know the six of us was split between two hotel apartments right next door to each other, me and Jamie (aged nine at the time) was with Dad in one apartment and Paul, Paula and Chelsea was next door in their apartment. I remember each apartment had two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a lounge with a open plan kitchen. I remember the hotel reception, but what I remember the most, is the thing I want to forget - the swimming pool.

Living on a canal boat with Dad and Jamie meant me and Jamie knew how to swim, it wouldn't be much help if you lived with water and couldn't swim could it? I remember before we lived with Dad, he would pick all six of his children up and take us swimming every Sunday, we was all good swimmers and swam from a young age. Me and Jamie were the youngest so carried on swimming more regularly than our older siblings, we would love it when our boat was moored up next to one particular leisure centre and after school Dad would sometimes take us there. When the boat was moored elsewhere, swimming was still a regular activity with Dad driving us to various swimming pools.

Me and Jamie both went swimming with school, would go off with friends swimming and would also go to pool parties, there was even times we was in the river Thames with all the other boat kids. Swimming was a favourite past time for both me and Jamie until that awful day in Spain. Our Dad worked very hard to make sure all six of his children had a fantastic childhood, separating from both of his wives - the mother's of his six children (three with each wife), Dad would not only pay child maintenance for us kids but he also took us all over the UK to various holiday resorts and events.

Spain was kept a surprised until a few weeks before, knowing me and Jamie would drive Dad at the wall, and all our friends too, we was the last two to find out about our first holiday abroad. Our suitcases were carefully packed and the money was converted, our passports had arrived, our plane and hotel sorted, everything was ready and so was everyone. Knowing how hard Dad had worked to get himself, and five of his children abroad for such a excellent holiday, although young ourselves and full of excitement, we wanted our Dad to enjoy himself so would venture out about lunchtime to let Dad have a lay in and enjoy the poolside time.

The swimming pool at the hotel resort was always empty, it was a strange little pool but one me and my brother grew fond of on our first day in Spain. Dad would lay on a sun lounger with a book keeping watch on me and Jamie, whilst the older kids stayed upstairs getting ready, hair, make up and the alike. A little girl would often pop down to the pool all by herself, and soon, me and Jamie become friends with the girl. Her name was Ashley and she was from Scotland visiting Spain with her nan. 

Me and Jamie was too young and oblivious to question why she was in a pool by herself, with no one to keep an eye on her or help her if she got into trouble. We was always told by Dad to never go to the deep, not just in this Spanish hotel pool, but any pool. Every pool back home in the UK we had ever visited we knew if we could not stand tall enough to reach the bottom with our heads above the water, that part of the pool was out of bounds. We would swim to the deep end and back, but keeping ourselves in that area was a no go, even though the pool's back home by law need life guards and Dad would rescue if needed be, we just wasn't allowed to do it.

This Spanish hotel pool did not have a lifeguard, but knowing we would listen to Dad and knowing we had the safety of him there for us, me and Jamie obeyed Dad's wishes - well for the first few days anyway. Me and Jamie would enjoy our pool time with Ashley and we would talk about thing's we was into, I remember her auburn coloured hair and the freckles on her face, I remember she had her tied up everyday, I remember the way she spoke and this dolly she would bring to the poolside with her everyday. 

One day, me and Jamie asked Dad if we could swim the length of the pool, we wanted to see who could do it fastest knowing we was both good and strong swimmers, after getting Dad's permission the race was on. Ashley was squealing, I can remember it all so clearly, cheering us both on, not for one but for both. I can't remember who won, I don't think I want too, I want to forget it all, but I remember after a few races me and Jamie got bored and returned to splashing around in the shallow end of the pool.

Ashley asked me and Jamie about swimming and other question's were asked, I can't remember why we done it but all three of us started 'hopping' around the pool, we would start from the shallow end and hold on to the edge really tight, we done this over and over again for about twenty minutes. It was fun bopping up and down pretending we was doing arm exercises, it reminded me of the strength you use for monkey bars, we needed to be strong because their was crocodiles in the pool, and we could not let go, so innocent, so child like was the games we played.

That day turned horribly wrong, my fun with water was about to end forever. Hell, I didn't even know if I was going to die, not only going to die but watch my brother die before I died.

I don't know how it all happened, one minute we was playing, the next we were drowning. Ashley had somehow got into difficulty and was using myself and Jamie to keep herself afloat, she was panicking and would not get her hands back onto the side of the pool. At first she was holding onto mine and Jamie's shoulders, she was in the middle, me and Jamie being innocent and strong swimmers who was use to water thought nothing of it. We was just telling her to hold back on, but she was flapping and panicking and then that's when it all happened.

Ashley started kicking out and somehow me and Jamie was stuck under water, she was pushing our heads down underwater to keep herself afloat. Me and Jamie tried wriggling/kicking/swimming ourselves free, the force of her adrenaline had us locked, we was doomed, stuck, under water, screaming with no sound coming out but water rushing in. I remember always being the child who hated opening her eyes under water, I would only do it with the comfort of goggles, but now as I opened my eyes under the water, I see my baby brother, panicking, frantically kicking and moving his arms trying to lose the grip she had on him, only nothing was working. 

Tear's well in my eyes now, and I've spent about three hours writing this post. 

I remember thinking at the time I was under water that there was two new boys to the hotel pool, they was older than me, and surely they could see what was happening, why did they not notify my Dad, why had Dad  not come to our rescue? Where was Paul (our big brother), Paul had just come down a few minutes before and was stood next to Dad talking to him. The whole time, I'm panicking myself, a million things running through my head, I'm watching my brother drown, I don't want him to drown, but wait, I'm drowning too, I don't want to drown, I don't want none of us to drown.

This experience seemed to last for the whole day, in reality it was a very short time indeed. Knowing thing's were getting serious when I found the energy in my body starting to lack, a guardian angel rescued me that moment, for out of nowhere I kicked my legs forward hurting Ashley, I carried on another two times, kicking her in the stomache. I didn't want to hurt her, but I had to save myself and my baby brother. I broke free, I shot to the top, I remember it as clear as day, like it just happended a split second ago, I remember the gasp of air, the two teenagers playing with a inflateable pool, the scream that came from my mouth.....


Then I was back under water, this time I was in difficulty myself, I couldn't concentrate properly, I could see Jamie, I wanted to cry, I was screaming, bubbles leaving my mouth, water filling inside it, and then swoosh, a body dived into the pool it was my Dad. I'm crying now, sat here crying whilst writing this down on a blog post 12 years after it happened. 

I remember Dad, grabbing Jamie, he had energy, he had strength, he grabbed Jamie and scooped him up to Paul and then he rescued me. I remember the second I reached air, I started screaming, whaling, crying, I watched Jamie, crying his eyes out, wanting our Dad, we both wanted our Dad. Dad got Ashley out of the pool too, even though she remained above water the whole entire time apart from about five seconds when Dad rescued Jamie, she was still in shock and panic herself.

I just remember Dad and Paul holding me and Jamie, trying to dry us, dry our wet bodies that become ever so cold, patting our backs whilst we spluttered up water and was sick. I remember being led to the hotel room with both of us still crying our eyes out. None of us wanted to leave our fathers side, our big brother and two big sisters rushed around us, kissing and cuddling us, we just wanted our Dad and our Mum, only she was back home in the UK.

The holiday was ruined. Me and Jamie just wanted to come home, although the ordeal was over nearly as quick as it began, we was still under water long enough for it to effect us. It was horrifying, an experience I would never wish for anyone. The pool was out of bounds, Dad marched to reception and demanded why there was no lifeguard, he wanted answers, me and Jamie was young, we just wanted to go home, back to our town and see our Mum.

I don't know about a white light when you die, but I do know about the flashbacks, so many things went through my mind when that happened, and Jamie's too. We cried ourselves to sleep and was terrified to return back to the boat.

My swimming experience has been ruined forever, I'll never step back into a pool and be the happy person I once was whilst swimming. On Tuesday Spud received a letter home from school, it's part of the curriculum that children his age attend swimming lessons with the school, that night I did not sleep, that night my mind would not rest and the next morning (Wednesday), Spud was 40 minutes late to school. I eventually fell asleep, I am unsure of the time, and woke up late, I don't think I even set my alarm.

My psoriasis has gotten considerably worse in the few days since I have received this letter, and I've been using breathing techniques to calm myself down when Spud is in bed and I think about him swimming, in a pool full of other children, without me there to jump in and save him.

There will be a part two for this post, but for now, I must go, I have spent hours on this post now, and really need to try and forget the incident, even if it is only till tomorrow.



  1. What a horrifying experience for you! That's a shame that it has ruined an activity that you previously enjoyed. You must have been so scared, especially to see it happening too your brother too & not being able to help him. It's lucky that you managed to scream out for your dad.
    Try not to worry about Spud...There WILL be a lifeguard when he has swimming lessons and everyone is so much more safety conscious these days, I am sure that he will be safe. Try not to let your anxieties rub off on Spud & spoil his potential enjoyment of swimming.
    I always find the scent of lavender essential oil really helps to calm me down if I am feeling anxious. I hope you aren't in too much discomfort with your psoriasis.

  2. What an absolutely terrifying for you. Big hugs. I know you must be scared to death at the thought of Spud having swimming lessons, but try to focus on the fact that there will be swimming teachers and lifeguards around to watch him every second and that he's learning a very very important skill for life. A skill that might safe his life should he ever fall into water and a skill that might even allow him to safe someone else's life.

    I know the thought of the same thing happening to him kills you inside, and I can see why having read your blog post, but you were just really really unlucky that a) your friend wasn't a confident swimmer b) there was no one around to supervise you and c) there were no lifeguards.

    All that is not the case during swimming lessons, so you can rest assured that he will be watched like a hawk and maybe will learn to enjoy swimming just as much as you did before you went to Spain x

  3. wheres part 2 jada xx