No. 6: Junctions
Why would I want to recount these events? Each is painful to remember. Each had the potential to brake me. Each has its place in my private hell. Wouldn’t it make sense to drive the hateful and destructive memories from my mind? The truth is I don’t know exactly. Every period of my life before I reached 25 bears a scar. Some are physical, others emotional. Even my soul has suffered more than its quota. Perhaps recalling these memories and storing them in the public eye is like deleting junk mail. Perhaps not.
All I can tell you for sure is this: At every junction in my life I’ve had a choice of which path to walk down. Each problem had its own method of self-preservation. I chose every one of them. Ignorance, isolation, instigator. They all have had their place on my yellow brick road. There came a time when I became tired of the coward’s role call.
It came when I worked for a clothes store. I started there filling the shoes of a boy my age who had died in a car accident a week earlier. He was much loved, and I was much resented. In this place of work it seemed I would play the role of puppet. The person pulling my strings will enter stage-left in one moment…
She spoke all of the right words, made all of the right moves, and offered me a role of seniority. I lapped it all up, as gullible as can be. She began with earning my confidence in her managerial prowess, yet things soon changed. One of her junior managers was nipping at her heels and she disliked it. Firing him was not an option, as he had done nothing wrong. Instead she went one worse.
One day he had made a comment that she was not happy about. It was on the shop floor in front of a handful of customers and staff. She requested that I join her in the office, and explained that she was afraid of her younger rival. Her hand reached for the telephone and, as she dialled the area manager’s mobile phone number, she explained that she was on a store inspection nearby. Conversation over and telephone receiver replaced, the younger manager came into the office. He asked me to leave, but the office’s other occupant demanded I stay. I felt as if I should stay out of protection for her safety, and so I placed myself in-between them.
He began the conversation yet was interrupted abruptly by our manager. She informed him that the area manager had been telephoned about his behaviour and she was on her way to ‘sort it out’. At this he became visibly angry, yet he remained in place by the office door. His hand gestures were elaborate, but he kept control of his temper well. He left the office and confined himself upstairs – I assume to calm down.
At the AM’s arrival she asked me to provide a statement. The store manager remained in the office with us both as I gave this, and began suggesting things that had happened. My words on their own were pure statement of fact, yet with her embellishments it soon became a story of threat and fear. The AM suggested that the store manager go on her lunch via the service entrance to the store. As I went to close the door behind her, she reminded me quietly that I ought to tell her about the threats of violence. I found this puzzling, but I didn’t think much to it.
From the statement already given, the AM decided to put the junior manager on immediate paid suspension pending enquiries. It took me two weeks but I eventually faced the truth: The person who had been so kind to me in providing me with a senior grade job had been manipulating me into getting her junior manager fired. I responded by telephoning the AM myself and talking to her about the events properly. My leading question was whether she had noted down my manager’s comments while I provided my statement to her, because they were untrue. I explained the full story in complete unbridled honesty. In short, he returned from suspension a vindicated man. She on the other hand, was fired immediately. Something very hushed up by the company.
Why did I let a good thing go? She gave me all of the things I wanted at the time: a senior job, a good pay cheque, responsibilities and trust. Why did I stop this before it had really started? Because a man was soon to lose his job for no good reason. He may not have been a role model for his whole life, but he had a talent for clothing sales and he didn’t deserve to be painted as abusive.
I had started work in customer services because of my diluted ambition to help people. I had worked in this sector for many years before starting at this clothing store. It was while I sat and pondered on my role in returning him to work that I realised something. This was the first real time that I had helped somebody. I knew that it was impossible to continue righting social injustice every day so I looked for a better way to spend my time.
Sculpting had been a solid interest of mine, so I applied my hand to learning carpentry. It fell apart when I realised I was not passionate enough for it. The history and extended history of our lives interested me – theories and all – so I started a distance learning course in hypnotherapy and regression. Nobody would volunteer to be my first patient, meaning I could not qualify. Eventually I found myself in this clothing store looking directly down the barrel of a wasted life.
One day my colleague informed me that she was soon to be leaving to be a student nurse. I did not know much about this nobel pursuit, so I paid it no heed. She encouraged me to look further into its merits, and so I did. All of the parts of being a doctor that I had been passionate about were all written on this webpage in front of me. It meant helping people on a daily basis from all walks of life.
I applied on a friday and started the following monday.
It took me until just after my 25th birthday to qualify as a nurse. I took the opportunity and used it to travel away from my hometown. Its values were detestable and its people despicable. Ever since moving to work in this big city hospital, the winds of change have blown through my life. I found my ex-girlfriend, had my sofa thrown in a skip by a crazy landlady, and started medication for the depression my ex caused me.
These you may agree were not the greatest moments of my life. They were, however junctions. These moments each presented me with choices. With my ex I chose to be a devoted and loving boyfriend. With my landlady I decided it was time to move into an apartment alone. And with my depression I decided to build up my own confidence.
My confidence would not return by mere will-power alone, and so I decided that my journey lay in an athletic pursuit. It has challenged my sense of self-image, my fitness level, and has earned me the best friends a man can have. I have discovered more strengths to my character doing this than I ever had before. It is as much a part of my life as my career in nursing, and I would not be without either of these. Now I am a kickboxer. I heal wounds in the emergency department by day, and inflict them by night.
Ever since I turned 25, life has given me challenges that were just as difficult as in my youth. These challenges have brought me to a better stage in my life than ever before. I now live on my own in a large and affordable apartment. My car is my own and was my dream car since I was a child. Nursing is turning in more directions than I knew existed, and it is taking me along for the ride. And at kickboxing my friends are teaching me to be a stronger and more confident man. I have stopped needing medication to improve my mood; my fitness has come on leaps and bounds; and I have learned there that no matter how hard a person hits me I will never back down. Blame this determination on my lifetime of trials and tribulations – but blame my newfound confidence on my friends!