I'm writing my autobiography, having been encouraged to do so by a number of friends who'll probably live to regret it. That's assuming they'll live long enough to regret anything, since some of us did meet on suicide watch. Hooray for trauma bonding! Heh. (In truth, I've been writing my life story for about a decade or two, since I first started keeping a journal in high school as a means of coping with my crazy, problematic life. However, I am only now going through those old, yellowing, age-spotted and probably mildew-heavy volumes. (Shortly before a mid-life crisis hits is probably as good a time as any, if ever there is one).
My journals are mostly filled with an angry teenager/young man's rants and incoherent nonsense too cringe-worthy to ever see the light of day. However, there is at least some content worth salvaging, in places. (My poetry is passable for the most part, as far as I'm concerned.) If nothing else, my many musings over the years are proof that my writing has got better with time (although I'm still no Chaucer, Falkner or Shakespeare, much as I'd like to be).
When complete (if ever; I keep writing as life keeps swinging and connecting with the whipping boy, so I'm chasing a moving target, which my various blogs prove), I'll publish on Patreon and Buy Me a Coffee. I doubt any reputable publishing house would be prepared to print my tale(s) of woe. Then again, A Child Called "It" made the cut, so one never knows until one tries ...
At any rate, I've written the intro (which I have revised and/or scrapped and put down anew at least once).
TW: Bullying and physical abuse
Somewhere between the ages of eight and ten (I don't recall exactly, thanks to concussing myself falling down a bank when I was nine and wiping out most of my childhood memories in the process), I met the first boy(s) who bullied me. The first I know only as Dougal. He came from a broken home and poor parents who could neither house him nor provide three square meals a day, so he lived with his gran (not that she could, either). Consequently, he didn't do well in school (having an almost perpetually bad attitude and poor concentration that resulted in him being held back a year or three; the guy had stubble by the end of the day). If the other kids (including me) didn't bring an extra sandwich or two for him, he'd hit them/us.
The second I shall call Theodore Ross (although that isn't his real name). He was severely mentally challenged (and probably still is, if he made it to adulthood). He should have been sent to a school like Peter Pan (for children who'll never grow up), because remedial schools couldn't do anything for someone that far gone. He had thick cola bottle glasses and used to stare at the sun as a pastime. His other hobby was hitting me and locking me in confined spaces. Attempting to escape is how I ended up with a damaged nail-bed for life on my left hand, difficulty learning to play the guitar and claustrophobia.
It is during these years that I met Chris Willows and Calvin Wood. They taught me the importance of friendship, humour, perseverance and bearing adversity with grace while under duress.
At thirteen or fourteen, I changed schools to one of the prestigious private high schools in the city in which I live (and have done for most of my life). The school places very high emphasis on sport (particularly Rugby and Cricket), so much so that attendance is compulsory. Being small, wiry and uncoordinated, I hated that and was worried I'd get mangled on the field, so used to bunk practice. The school is (or at least was at the time) single sex and actively abstains from engaging in social events with the girls' schools of the city (even the reputable Christian one just down the road from it). The boys there have little to no clue how to interact with girls/women and lose their minds/decorum and manners at the sight of an attractive one. (I was in my late twenties when I figured out how to go about having and maintaining a long-term relationship without being a complete arsehole, despite being raised in a mostly Feminist family with many female relatives.) I hope I'm the only Charley in that boat, but I doubt it.
It was in high school that I met the boys who would subject me to further and severe physical abuse, in the Science lab after lunch break when I was sixteen (and again in the computer lab/library a few months later). [Part of this paragraph has been redacted.] I think they thought they could teach me a lesson for not being a gung-ho, testosterone-and-machismo-filled rugger-bugger (which was very much the type the school's powers that be wanted; academics was slightly less important). I don't actually know what their motive was. Maybe they thought I was gay and they were trying to "correct" or "realign" me.
Life goes on and the world turns as time passes. I go in and out of psychiatric therapy, through a number of doctors and councilors. (I've seen the insides of various shrinks' offices so much that I could almost have an honorary qualification for participation alone.) In all that time, I never once get to or confront the root of the problem and do anything to solve it. Any time a shrink gets close or leads me there, I relive the trauma, have a panic attack and stop my appointments. Neither do I go to my parents for help, because I neither trust them nor think them capable of helping. Their interventions and meetings with the school authorities only lead to stern words and slaps on the wrists for the perpetrators (who are first team players and thus untouchable); the bullying only got worse.
I developed trust issues and anti authoritarian/anarchist world views and attitudes. There were incidents of self-harming behaviour and petty theft in my past (from friends, family and shops), although I never got caught (at least not by security or the police) for the latter and they went unreported.
Life goes on and the world turns. I go to University and study programming. (I figured since I can't change or instruct people to do what I want, I would have more success with computers. Little did I know then ...) I cruise along, never really applying myself. Consequently, I fail the first time around and have to repeat the course at my own cost/expense (a first for me, to my shame). So I get a student job, but I don't take that seriously either (due to my issues and failure to grow up). I end up having a strained relationship with my boss (a pattern that has now been established and will repeat later in life), which comes to a head when I find a development job and resign without sufficient notice from my existing one. I eventually scrape through with less than impressive qualifications and find jobs that I can't keep, either (particularly for/with soulless and stifling corporate entities; I'm a family business man).
During this time, I still struggle with depression, low self esteem and my other unresolved issues (just as much as, if not more than, when I was a teenager). Some periods are better than others and I (mostly) get by through sheer force of will, meditation and surrounding myself with good company (but I shun those with mental health issues and mood disorders of their own, for the sake of protecting myself and my own tenuous grasp of sanity — or so I claim, anyway).
There is more to come. This writing is to be continued, in ePub format, for my Patrons, should I ever again have any (and enough time to complete it over and above searching for work, to no avail).
Post thumbnail photo by Karina Zhukovskaya from/on Pexels