Today I went to where my old boarding school at Dumpton Gap is. I wasn’t planning on documenting the experience at all let alone as I did, which is why it might seem to start suddenly. I’m going to write it verbatim, as I wrote it. I hope you all enjoy it.
As I sit here on the concrete water break thing I have a desire to go and walk through the surf, bare feet. I have the urge to go into the English Channel up to my waist. Up to my chin even. I didn’t bring a swimsuit. I don’t even own one that fits. I don’t even have a towel!
I have no reason to be scared of the sea. I do fear open water. The sort of water that my feet will
never touch never be able to touch the bottom. I’ll never go too deep in the water. Chin deep, no. but waist deep, why not?
For today I’ll sit here and drink this can of Pepsi Max. I’ll let the breeze off the sea wash over me, giving me that hit of
sea air salty sea air I remember from so strongly from childhood.
It’s emotional sitting here. Seeing my old school abandoned and left to crumble is heart breaking. My two years there changed my life in many ways. Most of which I
hadn’t haven’t even realised yet.
If I had the money I’d buy it and
makin make it into a retreat and a centre for young people. That’s a pipe dream though. In this world of raping our heritage it will likely be torn down and an ugly block of flats built that doesn’t fit.
On a clear day we’d look for France on the horizon. Today it’s a clear, beautiful day but I can’t see our European neighbour. I see Haze. I’ll be buying some binoculars, a beach towel and some swim shorts for my next visit to the coast.
I am going to go into Broadstairs, but I’ll take a gentle drive and save the walk along the beach front for another day. I can feel wisps of anxiety creeping in, in and I don’t want to push myself too hard.
This is so much more overwhelming than I thought it was going to be. The salt air, the sound of the waves gently crashing in. The wind across my bare skin. The beautify of it. Why did I allow fear to stop me
ex exploring this for so long?
I finally get the courage to sit on the breakfront. My hands are shaking and I need to pee, but the wave splashing mere feet from my feet occasionally splash on my legs and it feels good.
I only realise now how crippling this irrational fear had been.
The water in my eye I tell myself the tears in my eyes are because of the breeze but I know that’s a lie. Its emotionally overwhelming.
I get the best view of my old school from here. Such a beautiful building. The one that replaced it, I drove by. I’m sure its very good
and but it lacks the character of Gap House.
I’d forgot how the sea could be two different beautiful colours.
Sitting in my car I see seagulls atop the roof of Gap House. Its character is still there. A lack of maintenance, no care for it will ever erase that.
I’m going to take a slow drive into Broadstairs town now. Curious for the memories and emotions that’ll conjure.
Does this qualify as a pilgrimage?
The beach is called Dumpton Gap. This is my second stop in as many minutes since I pulled away from where I was parked.
I couldn’t park in Broadstairs. So I drove back to Dumpton Bay, having decided to walk along the seafront.
I have a yearning to be here. For the sound of the sea and that salty sea air. Even the raucous seagulls. My parents go on holiday to Paignton each year. my dad spent a small part of his childhood there. I thin kI understand why he is drawn back there now.
Is this where I belong? on the coast?
Id This feels like somewhere I shoaled be striving to end up.
Time to walk the short walk into Broadstairs.
Those two shades of colour of the water, the greener of the two seems to be where the bay begins. I’m sure theres a scientific reason for this. for me its just beautiful.
This time down here I look at the haze on the horizon and can just see darker shapes. Is this France? or boats.
Is this just nostalgia? or is this where I belong.
I walk along the top of the sea break. Yes there is fear a section of concrete will break away and I fall, but I was sitting on it not that long ago. I know the chances of it breaking are slim to nothing. I walk along it in the hope of the surf splashing up.
I remember walking along here when I was young. With fellow students, teachers and house parents. The older children could walk into Broadstairs town without adults but in at least pairs. Not along the beach though. We had to have an adult with us if we went onto the beach front.
It feels good being out in this air. This is not a million miles away. It’s a simple drive. There is nothing except my own fear holding me back.
This overwhelming but it feels good.
I’m craving the sand between my toes. The sea water on my feet and around my ankles. I must be able to find a beach towel somewhere. I know I don’t need one but I feel like I do.
As I approach Broadstairs town and beach it strikes me me how I’ve just walked a walk I haven’t done since I was eleven. That’s 28 years ago. I wouldn’t have been able to do this even three weeks ago.
I’m looking at hotels and wondering what their rates are. I need more time down here.
Walking on sand in trainers remembering how different it is to walk on. On the walk back I will be barefoot.
I always forget how big, and arrogant seagulls are.
I’m full of regrets and a little anger at not having done this before now. Of not exploring more.I’ve been saying for years I want to get out more, see more of the UK to start with. Realising how much fear and anxiety has held me back, that I’ve allowed to hold me back, hurts. But I’m not letting this sour the day. This is fuelling the urge to get out. The more I can do this, the more I overcome these fears that have no reason to exist.
The next time I come to Broadstairs I will park at Dumpton Gap and make the walk. It’s good for my soul.
This feeling is alien to me. My head should be screaming at me to flee, get back to my car and get home as quickly as I can. Even the fact my car is a ways away should fill me with anxiety. It’s not though. This calmness, this peace isn’t alien. It’s what I should be feeling. Not fear and anxiety.
I don’t find a beach towel, but I do walk through the sand barefoot. The sand is cold in the shade and hot, but not unbearable, in the sun.
I almost walk back along the concrete barefoot but it’s just a little too harsh for comfort.
I’m looking forward to the walk back. From Dumpton
Gap to Bay to Viking Bay, and back again.
I’ve brought trinkets and notebooks (they had awesome notebooks!) in
th a couple of the shops at Viking Bay. I spend a few minutes w off the seafront in the town, but not long.
As I start my walk back I realise the tide is slowly going out. I stop to watch
th as seagulls skim the surface of the with a precision that I can’t comprehend.
The seaweed is so pretty as the retreating tide exposes it.
I watch the people swimming and admire them. I
we don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough or a strong enough swimmer to do that. I’m okay with this.
Is promenade the right word for this concrete path? It seems to fit but I’ll look it up later.
As I walk back to my car I feel I’m walking a little quicker. Not much but just that bit faster. I don’t think it’s anxiety. I think it’s where that feeling of being overwhelmed is softening. There’s been times where I’m feeling almost fuzzy headed. So much to feel. So much to take in. I think It’s going to be a few days at least as I’m processing all this.
Maybe this quicker pace is an urge to get home? I think my mind, mind body, and soul are ready to be in my safe space again. I’m not panicking though. There’s no tightening in my chest. No thumping heart. I’m just ready to take a nice and steady drive home.
Thinking of driving I realise I wasn’t nervous or anxious or scared driving down. This pleases me.
It has struck home just how much I’ve let fear and anxiety ruin me and my life. I’m not going to dwell on it though. I’m not going to let it fester.
My brother has inflatable canoes. Maybe we could bring them down here one day.
This urge to go home isn’t stopping me from stopping and writing my thoughts down.
I hadn’t planned to document they but I had that need to. I’m glad I brought my bag with notebook and pen. Although I haven’t touched my iPad of the book I brought with me.
Money is tight at the moment. But I can afford the fuel and I had a small budget that I’ve stuck to. I’ll be more prepared next beach trip.
I’ve always had a fascination with the sea. I wish I hadn’t let my fears suffocate that.
I haven’t spoken to many people. I regret this but thats something hat will come with more time and exploration.
I feel a little silly and weak with what I’ve felt today. Even sillier for realising just how much I’ve let fear and anxiety ruin my life.
I set out today with only a vague feeling that I needed to do this. I didn’t know what I was hoping for. What I’ve discovered is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
As I sit on this bench, my car a couple of hundred yards away, I’m fearing that I’ll loose this
urge ability to act on the urge to explore. That the fear and anxiety will take it from me again. I can not let that happen.
This was something I had to do on my own. I’d like to these with someone else to share the experience, but somethings I need to brave on my own. To build my confidence.
I’ve stopped at a services close to home. I should have stopped sooner, got a drink as I haven’t drank or eaten enough today. But I did go over my budget a little and I’m close enough to home not to worry about it.
I haven’t been watching the clock on the sat nav on this journey. Not long ago I would have done. I can feel anxiety, but it doesn’t feel as dominating as it used to be.
Now I’m home and reflecting on the day I feel more determined that ever to continue this exploration. Yes, summer is almost over but that’s not going to stop me.
Today was a hard hit. A hard realisation of all the time I’ve lost. Now’s the moment to make sure I don’t feel this way in twenty years time.
12 thoughts on “Breaking Away From Fear and Anxiety”
Loved it. Very personal, Peter.
Although when you come to Mando Con in Florida next year or the next, we drink Coke in this house.
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Thank you, Armand! ☺️
Although I am a Pepsi Max drinker I do enjoy a Coke from time to time 😋☺️
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Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Yes, it totally counts as a pilgrimage. I enjoyed the photos. I’m surprised to see people in the water. Isn’t the water really cold?
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No it was very warm here in the UK today. It was probably the perfect day for being at the seaside. It was hot and sunny but not excessively hot.
Here in the UK there are some people though that’ll swim in the sea year round 😳
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Polar bear people! Brrr!
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Wow ! Loved reading this Very personal account of your trip Peter .
Next time you venture maybe we could grab a Pepsi max together and talk of old times and memories at Gap house . I have very happy memories and loved every minute of my 25yrs there .
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Hi Fran! I would love to do that! Next time I’m down there I’ll give you a shout 🙂 it’ll be great to see you again 🙂
What beautiful writing, Peter. Gap is such a special place for many people. I remember you very well and saw your confidence progress during your time at the school. The old staff still remain friends and regularly see each other. Our time at Gap was special to us as well. My car takes me to Gap two or three times a week to then walk my dog along the path you took. It’s so wonderful to read your thoughts and remember the boy who has grown into a mindful adult able to express his feelings so well. It made me feel quite emotional Would love to meet up with you.
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Jackie! Oh my god hello! How are you! Thank you for your kind words ☺️ Gap changed my life for the better! I credit it and all the staff and students for putting me on the right path ☺️
I’d love to meet up with you too. Next time I’m down there I’ll let you (and Fran as she’s said the same) know and we’ll see if we can arrange a meet up ☺️☺️
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