No. 1: Beginnings
Life began much the same for me as for anyone else you might see in the street. The difference was I was born late, blue, and not breathing. There was no apparent brain damage as I grew and developed so there was no cause for concern. Still, it wasn’t the best start in life that you might hope for your son.
My sisters were victims of abuse from our dad. That’s their story so I’ll leave it to them to clarify, but he left before I could remember so you’d assume I was unaffected. Well yes, you’d assume. Not having a father of any kind would have been better than having a father I was constantly compared to. It reminded me for my entire life that I was not from a normal upbringing, and that half of my DNA came from an asshole.
Feeling different from everyone else my age turned into being different from everyone else. I was a private child who didn’t like to share with others. My life was my own and I liked it that way. When school years began I didn’t integrate very well. Something well noted by a few of my teachers. They decided to have me tested for autism. That came out negative, yet as ripples in a pond the repercussions continued to echo through my adult years. When being a victim of bullying became the norm for my life, what else was there to do but accept it into my daily routine? I had no contemporaries to discuss this with and my teachers thought me abnormal, so what could I do but accept it?
Later in school I became a disruption. Our teacher believed me a problem child. I had problems and I was a child, so this wasn’t so far from the truth. I began to rebel against the bullies. Fabricating the trouble they had caused and reporting it to teachers; feeding them false answers when they were demanded; causing them to trip and fall when they ran past me. Eventually of course this meant everyone avoided me. I had started life alone in every respect.
As I entered high school I didn’t know how to be normal. Normal for me was either sitting at home with my mother who struggled financially but still worked hard to keep us. Or it was sitting on my own at school with classmates who avoided and despised me to the fabric of my being. At my core I was a tornado wanting to bring everything down in anarchy around me. I never let this side of me see the light of day… not yet, anyway.
In high school I met friends who would in later years become bigots happy with the cards they were dealt. I absorbed a love of the rock band Muse from a classmate. The bullying continued, but I mostly ignored it. The cliques ran their groups as they usually did. The smokers hung out behind the sports hall, the footballers on the school yard, and the jokers in the cafeteria. I walked around the school aimlessly. I absent-mindedly blended in to each crowd just so I wouldn’t be seen to be stood alone. It made bullying irresistible.
I tried hard in class, but I tried my own way. If a teacher had a thought with which I disagreed, I would show my disapproval (and be sent to detention). My grades had been high in my early years, but they gradually dropped as I got older. Not because I had become stupid, but because as class sizes grew I became less exceptional and more average.
The jokers would sometimes hang out by the bike sheds. This became their territory, and I became their tag-along. I enjoyed the company of one of their brood. He was most definitely different to look at, and although he had the brunt of some bullying, he had persevered and become popular. I envied him, so I studied his actions to see how I could integrate later in life (my time in high school was already lost). The rest of the joker group weren’t happy to see me. They would challenge me at every step. One of their favourite topics of conversation was masturbation. They’d talk about how they did it, when they did it, how many times they did it. It was truly disgusting to me. Then they asked me if I’d done it. I couldn’t imagine rubbing my genitals to feel better so I replied, “That’s disgusting.” For this I became a laughing stock with them.
Yet of course – as all young boys do – I did get round to this pass time. To a 13 year old the full breasts of an 20 year old are like the holy grail. I didn’t share this view. I liked girls my own age as all 13 year olds do. I didn’t look for them in pornography though, so I didn’t get much gratification. This was of course illegal, immoral, etc. etc. Well I looked for legal sites with 18 year old girls who didn’t look 20+. This was a little more gratifying for a boy my age. Of course this took a turn when I stumbled on something I had not bargained for. Back in those times the internet was not as filtered or closely examined as nowadays. It was easy for sleazy paedophiles to find what they wanted most. They disguised their links and sites to look normal from outward appearance. Yet one innocent click from an unknowing reader became my downfall. To find actual filth scarred me emotionally.
Ever since then I’ve hated myself for looking for these younger images. What I looked for may have been legal but it led to something I could not un-see. They led me down the rabbit hole and what was to be found was disgusting. I was right to call pornography and masturbation disgusting because it was for the most part. Conventional porn is acceptable, but the periphery and fringes of what others call arousing was an eye-opener (and consequently a few seconds later an eye-closer). I have struggled with this truth for a long time. I have never told anybody about falling victim to finding this. I have also never told anybody about this later event…
As I grew into 14 years of age, still images weren’t enough. I wanted moving pictures, and so through persuasion and perversion a woman of adult age had enticed me with lies about her age. She wanted me to strip on my webcam for her in exchange for images. As my pants dropped, so did the proverbial ball. The webcam was switched off just as swiftly as I’d closed the filth that had scarred me previously. I had realised what this woman was doing and what had happened to me.
Yet don’t believe this to be a blog centred around bullying or explaining that I am a victim. These are not my intentions. They are merely my beginnings. As I look back on these years I begin to take inventory. I did not have many friends at all. The friends I did have were different from everyone else. In catholic schools full of white children my friend would be the indian boy who had just joined. My grades were average toward my exit and my time in college was a failure. I had been questioned and poked and prodded and examined to determine my IQ and my diagnosis.
They found no mental ill-health, no learning disability and a high IQ. What they wouldn’t admit to was the boy they found. Abused by my classmates via bullying; abused by my teachers via calling me a disruption and removing me from a class I might otherwise enjoy; abused by the perversions of others being placed upon my shoulders.
I was born blue into a plain white world, with a grey sky, and black uniforms. Now I am my own person. I have suppressed my emotions and repressed my memories. While these days I am running with the crowd I now find myself looking at who I am as a wholly different being. I have the empathy of a bullied child; the scars of a teenage victim of paedophilia; and the good sense of a man borne of self-pity and regret. I look at the world and laugh. When your whole life has been the butt of another’s joke, the arousal to another’s monster, and the bag for everyone’s punch, what do you become?
You become whoever and whatever you want to be. If they decided the rules of a normal life don’t apply to you, then become exceptional. Be the man who sees the tears someone is holding back. Be the person who can listen to the words not being said. Be the human who can hold something fragile in their hands and not crush it for pure pleasure. Be the best that you can be, because for all your flaws you can create something wonderful. Life is filled with rules and norms for people to conform to. Don’t let selfishness be the instrument you play best.