There is always one moment in childhood, when the door opens and lets the future in. – Graham Green.
I can remember a moment such as this occurring many times in my own life. Whether it was the kindness of strangers, or in some cases the complete opposite, the cruelness of my family or peers, I can remember so many milestones in my life where I have come to the point where enough is enough, and I have opened that door, seen the future, and attempted to embrace it.
I have always considered myself to be an all or nothing kind of person. Whether it was work or personal relationships it didn’t matter, I will always hit the ground running and head into things at 100mph, often to the detriment of my own self-esteem, or self-worth. My partner, with whom I have shared the last 15 years of my life, has always said that I give too much away to people, and that’s the reason I always ended up getting hurt, but that’s just the way I am, and have always been. I would try and flog the dead horse that was the relationship I had with those I called my family, and continued to go back for more and more painful rejections. Until only quite recently I continued in this vane, only to be cast aside as an odd-ball mis-fit, who just wants to cause trouble and “spread my poison”. However I have now reached the point where I have decided that I won’t do it anymore. I have now cut each and every one of them from my life, or have been completely banished from theirs. The time has now come where even I, the one so desperate for a relationship with them, will prostitute myself no more. The worm has now turned, to coin a phrase. An abusive father, two brothers who abused, and have been convicted of abusing their own children, and a sister who couldn’t be honest, even with herself. That’s the sum total of my family, so one really must question….. Are they worth it????
What does truly anger me though, is the fact that no matter what my siblings do, whatever brushes with the law they have, no matter how low they sink into depravity, it is still me that is ignored and treated like a leper, the black sheep that everyone wants nothing to do with. I am the first to admit that I am incredibly needy and in constant need of reassurance, but is that reason enough to dislike me so much.
My one hope though is that one day I do have the courage to let my mother’s husband read this, and maybe then, he will understand why I despise him so much.
Why am I writing this? Because I want people to know what really happened. I’m not an odd-ball, and the things that have happened were not a figment of my imagination. My father, brothers and sister all claim that this didn’t happen, and refuse even to discuss it. I know it did, and I need to understand why. Were the feelings I had as a child that made me feel like I was worth nothing, at all justified? Or were they just the thoughts of a child who craved the attention of others, doing what he did to shock and create a reaction, any reaction, whether good or bad. What I have found is that when I do afford some time to my writing that I find myself spiralling into a depression. That is something that I know I’ll need to work through as there is so much of my life that I want to get down on paper. Perhaps I just need to walk away from it sometimes.
As I approach my mid-40s, and having been in the most amazing relationship of my life, I have finally come to the decision that I am a good person. I am a pleasant man, who is able to love, and be loved. I have treated some friends appallingly in the past. However I now enjoy a small, but sufficient for me, circle of good close friends, and I think for the first time in my life, a true inner peace. I’m now in a job I truly love, and yes, there are times when I question where my life is going, could I have achieved more? However I no longer look back with regret and anger as I used to. I’ve always tried to live by the rule that life is what you make it, and have never subscribed to the contention that the adult you become is determined by your upbringing. I want others to know why I am the way I am. Why am I someone who continues to try and try at relationships and then just cut people dead, and then find that the need and desire to be loved by them, is transformed into utter distain. I am not someone who gets on with everyone, as I mentioned earlier, I am an all or nothing person, and I make no apologies for that.
I have come to the view that life is too short, and I don’t intend to waste the time I have left on this earth, wasting my time energy or emotions on those who have let me down, betrayed me, or abused my trust. I’m hoping that in cataloguing my life, that those left behind can perhaps understand my reasons, and therefore me a little better.
My life was somewhat chaotic throughout my early years, to be honest it was so until I was in mid-20’s. I moved from place to place, from job to job, and from one doomed relationship to another, I was never satisfied with what I had, I always wanted more, and I just knew that there was someone out there that could love me with every fibre of their being, the way that I wanted to love somebody… anybody else.
I am now, perhaps for the first time in my life truly happy, as I am aware that the need to be loved unconditionally has now been fulfilled, I am loved in the way that I have always wanted to be loved and in the way that I have endeavoured to love those who shared my life, whether they be parents siblings or lovers. That ache in your heart when you’re not able to be with the one you love, that butterfly feeling of anticipation when you’re going home to someone who genuinely can’t wait to see you too. I love being loved and being in love also.
I met my partner Damien in 1999. I didn’t really realise it at the time but Damien really did save my life. My mum died in 1999, and I truly believe that without the love and support I have been given from him, I would not be here today. My life wasn’t about to end because my mothers had, but I do feel without Damien’s input and love, I would be the sad lonely old man I see so often on the now rare occasions that I do visit the Manchester gay scene. The kind of guy you may have known, maybe even slept with in your younger more naive years, who still hangs out in the same pub, drinking Breaker from a can, and attempting to strike up conversations with the “fresh” meat.
Damien is from, what I would call, the ideal family, with dad and mum and two younger brothers. Whilst his sexuality was perhaps an issue for his parents, this has now been overcome, and his parents are truly proud of him and all that he has achieved in his 37 years. He is now a fully qualified Nurse, after completing a 3 year Nurse training course, and like me he is someone who does have some insecurity. His aren’t about his relationships though, they are about his abilities. He doesn’t have that confidence that he should have. He would rather slink off into the background than put himself forward, and perhaps that is why the two of us work so well together as a couple, his ying to my yang.
I was dj’ing at a “show bar” in Manchester, and I can vaguely remember seeing him, and passing some off the cuff remark, about how handsome he was, a few weeks prior to us actually hooking up. The 2nd time was his 21st birthday, and the 2 of us went to a club to celebrate. I was between relationships and for the 1st time in my life was actually enjoying being on my own , and the 2 of us arranged to meet a couple of days later at Stockport, it was we agreed roughly halfway between where the two of us were living and Manchester, where he and I were living at the time. I genuinely could not remember what he looked like when I went to meet him, and remember him coming to the car, where I then had to hide my surprise.
There have been times when the two of us have sent each other insane, however on the whole we tend not to argue, and in almost 15 years together I can remember only one time that we have ever really fallen out with one another.
There wasn’t an instant sexual chemistry or attraction, but there was something. We went out for something to eat, and I dropped him off at his home, and rang my then best friend to tell him about this amazing guy I had just met. I was determined that I wouldn’t forget what he looked like, and got a picture of him on my mobile phone. I then proceeded to have the picture blown up, framed and placed all over the flat I was living in at the time. Poor Damien must have thought that I was some kind of weird stalker when on our next meeting he came to my home. I love him more than I have ever loved anyone before, and I know that he loves me more than anyone has ever loved me before.
My relationship with Damien is completely the opposite of the relationship I have with my parents,
I hate my father; and I have, since her death in 2001, grown to hate my mother. I am ashamed to be part of the family that conceived and abused me as a child. I believe that we live in a world where it’s easier if we can blame everyone else for our own failings, but people should learn to take responsibility for their actions. Perhaps that is what I want my father, my only surviving parent to do, I don’t really know. I don’t feel the vengeance for him that once consumed me, I pity the empty husk of a man, and now, for the first time in my life, I am no longer fearful of him. Until recently I would always say that he was the only person in the world that I was truly frightened of, but I don’t think that anymore. The almost 15 years of silence between us has only strengthened my resolve to make sure that I never waste any more of my energy on him.
The one thing that I always had trouble grasping as a child was that, although I had an older sister, and two younger brothers it was me that was abused. Apparently this now has a term, it’s what’s known as “middle-child syndrome”.
Middle child is the second born child in a family of more than two children. As much as our parents impact the shaping of our over-all personality, so do our siblings. Sometimes, the middle child suffers from a lack of belonging and constantly strives to get his/her parent’s attention. There is a feeling of insecurity in the middle child, because he/she feels ignored between the eldest and youngest sibling and this is called the Middle Child Syndrome. The birth order does make a difference to the parent’s psychology, as a lot of importance is attached with the birth of the first and the last child. The article explores what exactly is a Middle Child Syndrome, apart from the symptoms that a child suffering from it exhibits.
Symptoms of Middle Child Syndrome
Lack of Belonging
The middle child may not feel a sense of belonging to the family in the same way as other children. He/she struggles to be close to the family because of feeling ignored and ‘unwanted’. Sometimes, the middle child also feels sandwiched between the other siblings. It is important as a parent, to not let such feelings overcome their middle child.
Since a middle child feels that he/she is basically unwanted, he/she may have a very low self-esteem. There is nothing worse than to feel not needed and it can badly affect even an adult. For a child, it has a serious bearing on his/her overall development. Such a child will continue to suffer from a lack of self-belief on growing up. A middle child’s confidence may be shaky due to the feeling of being overlooked upon, by his/her parents.
It is, usually, seen that a child suffering from middle child syndrome is not too extrovert or social. There is a tendency among such children to become loners in life. They feel like an outsider in the family and therefore, become a recluse in other areas of life as well. Such a child believes in spending time with him/her self rather than others, because he/she feels uncared for. And so, he/she tries to create a world of his/her own and lean on his/her own self for support.
No Sense Of Direction
The children suffering from middle child syndrome also lack a sense of direction. There is certain disillusionment among them and they struggle to find the real direction of their life. They are not comfortable confiding in their parents, not even in their brothers or sisters. This is not to say that all middle children turn out to be failures in their life. Only those suffering from this syndrome have a tendency to lack any direction in life.
A middle child, on feeling ignored and un-loved, may have trust issues. As a child, we first lean to trust and completely rely on our parents, but a middle child fails to do that and consequentially, faces such issues. Such a child has difficulty in opening up and confiding in anyone. However, not every child suffering from middle child syndrome has a distrusting attitude. Sometimes, such a child is pining to trust and lean on someone.
On reading this piece as an adult, everything just fell into place, my goodness me, Middle Child Syndrome definitely does exists
(2) The early years
I was considered to be ‘under-stimulated’ as a toddler. I was to be in hospital several times before I was able to walk, with broken wrists, various ailments and asthmatic attacks. What I had always thought as a child, to have been where my umbilical cord was attached, was in fact a cigarette burn. Whilst I was always led to believe that I was an ‘awkward child’ I was actually suffering abuse at the hands of my parents from the age of 18 months old. I don’t feel sorry for myself, I do however pity the two people responsible, she must have, and I am sure he will too, take what they did to me with them to the grave, and their consciences can never be clear, no matter how much they may have tried to forget over the years.
Ok, I may have hurt people in the past, but I don’t believe that there is anyone who can say that what I may have said to them or my actions towards them have caused them to truly hate me. The people I called mum and dad however are hated, by me at least, and this will never change. Yes I am angry, not vengeful, and hopefully my ranting in this work will act as some kind of catharsis, I couldn’t honestly tell you my reasons for making this attempt at cataloguing my childhood. I just feel like I want to, I need to exorcise what was my childhood. This is my legacy perhaps, just to make sure that the record is set straight once and for all. And to those who say that I am raking over old ground, spreading my poison or clinging onto a period in time that no-one now cares about, I say this; It was this time, this period in my life, that made me the person I am today, and in writing this log I now have that conversation that no one has ever wanted to have.
This is my side of the story, the truth in all its detail. Some of the names and locations have been changed.
There can be little in life more crushing to a child, than the real and true belief that they are unloved, and unwanted by their whole family. This was an emotion that I felt a great deal throughout my early life. The cold baths for wetting the bed, the husks constant drinking, my mothers’ cruel and hurtful behaviour, and the bullying of ones’ siblings really gnaw at the soul, when they are as relentless as they were for me. I was made to feel like a dog, one that had been bought as a really good idea at Christmas, and then grown bored of. Always there, but serving no real function within the house, never trusted, and always with that undercurrent of nastiness that could rear its head at any time, shadowing my every move. However the need to sink my teeth in revenge was outstripped by the absolute terror I lived in, on an ongoing daily basis. It was never questioned why I used to go out shop lifting. Why did the husk not question why I had actually stolen a half pound pack of butter?? He was the only one in the house who ever ate the stuff. He thought margarine was cheap and nasty, suitable for the kids, but not the ‘man of the house’. The problem was that although he expected his toast, muffins and sandwiches to be dripping in the stuff, he never gave my mother the means with which to go out and buy the best, or at least that was what I was led to believe. A real twist on the champagne taste / beer bottle pocket idiom. I was bullied into stealing by my older sister, and on the instructions of my mother. This was my way into mum’s good books as I saw it. I remember from a really young age, always having awareness that money was incredibly tight. The husk always enjoyed his nights out playing darts at the local pub, and would often return drunk and in a blind rage. He would then come up to my room, to see if I had wet the bed, and invariably I had, as my bedroom door was locked at night, to prevent me ‘skulking’ round the house at night, almost always on the lookout for food. It wasn’t always my greed and or hunger that made me search the house in the dark however. I suffered terribly with asthma as a child and the husk always felt that I couldn’t be trusted with my own medication. This was on account of the fact that I had twice attempted suicide as a child. So desperate was I to escape the torment of life with my family, I once took and overdose of stemetyl syrup (which resulted in a severe bout of lockjaw), and another occasion when I sat for half an hour self-medicating my Ventolin inhaler. In retrospect it was a vicious circle, had I been afforded the privilege of just a little of the freedom given to my siblings, then I really may have felt able to fit in and be part of the family, which at the time I felt I was being forced to live with.
However I was not and never have been made to feel part of our family, and my behaviour was then deemed as attention seeking and just an attempt to wind everyone up. I still believe to this day that there is a guilty secret I have not been let in on. My mother embarked on at least two affairs during her married life, so who knows, maybe in years to come, it could transpire that I am not in fact the spawn of a selfish angry vicious man.
There was talk in my early life that my maternal aunt, and her husband had “offered” to adopt me, and I have never understood why this was the case. Was it that my Auntie Bren and her husband could see the rejection even at that early stage?
Given the fact that my bedroom was damp, and my bedding consisted of a prickly grey army style blanket in my earliest memories of childhood, I always seemed to be suffering from asthma attacks in the night. There is nothing more distressing than struggling to take a breath and knowing that there is nothing that you can do about it. So endemic was the fear I felt for my parents that I would rather stay awake all night struggling for breath, than run the risk of incurring their wrath. My bedroom became an isolated prison cell, where I would often be locked when I arrived home from school. I can remember feeling totally dead within that room. It wouldn’t be too bad, if at least I felt the isolation that engulfed me, afforded me some semblance of safety; but it didn’t. I was aware that at any time the familiar clinking of my father’s necklace would travel up the stairs, and he would come into my room ‘to check I wasn’t getting up to anything’. – Quite what he had in mind I could never fathom, given that there was hardly anything in the room, other than my smelly urine stained bedding, and the awful atmosphere of fear and imminent terror.
As I said earlier, I was burdened as a child with the knowledge that money was always tight. There was often loud arguments within the house over money, and I remember my mother once running away from home, as the husk had found out that she not been paying the weekly rent on the 4 bedroom mid terrace. The crafty old cow had to pay £10 rent a week, and before the days of card payments, direct debits and the like, one simply had a paying in book which would be stamped at the post office. She would complete the paid in amount as £1, get it stamped and then add a ‘0’ afterwards, so the husk was blissfully unaware until the council wrote to him regarding the massive arrears which had been accrued. Even he wasn’t immune from the odd scam though; Coin operated gas meters, coin powered TV’s were often broken into, the same coin being reused to gain pecuniary advantage. When these were removed mother would attach a magnet to the spinning wheel on the electricity / gas meter to slow it down…. that’s where my cunning and guile came from is it? We would often run errands for the local old folk and I befriended an old lady who lived near to us. Her name was Mrs Robinson, and as I remember it she was slightly dotty. She was known to leave the gas on, and many was the time I would be in her home and she would be sat there having a conversation with herself, most disconcerting to a 7 year old. I always remember she always had loads of cigarettes, a cream and blue packaged brand called 555’s if my memory serves me right. Mother was most indignant and thought that these should be shared… with her. I lost count of how many times I stole from Mrs Robinson, dutifully passing on my ill-gotten gains to my mother. However, soon even that wasn’t enough and I would then go into her purse and steal cash. I’ll always remember the look of delight on my mother’s face when I’d return with my swag. She always said that it was because the husk never gave her enough money to get the essentials, but that if ever I got caught, she’d stick by me and in later life promised to tell my dad the truth before she died.
Needless to say, she never did, and when eventually I was caught she insisted I’d acted alone. Why did it not occur to people that a 7 / 8 year old boy stealing tobacco products could be considered at least a little odd? There was always a reward of course when I stole stuff for my mother, a cuddle or a kiss, or sometimes just a slight relenting in the constant struggle to feel wanted. In retrospect, and looking at things as an adult, it’s quite apparent that I was buying her affection.
Then there was Mrs Heath, a toothless old girl who would feed us ginger biscuits whenever we went to see her. Mother even saw her as fair game, despite her old age and infirmity. It wasn’t me that stole from Mrs Heath, although I am certain that mother and possibly my elder sister were at it. Like a modern day Fagin, my mother, one might say.
I can honestly say that for me personally this is probably the most shameful thing I have ever done, and the heaviest burden I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. It most certainly was not a victimless crime.
Occasionally, mother would go shopping and because of where we lived the nearest major supermarket to us was situated in Carlton. To get there, she would take the Ferry boat across the Manchester Ship Canal. There was one time however when mother, for whatever reason didn’t want to take us. She left my older sister ‘in charge’ and I was banished to my bedroom. I suffered an asthma attack, and, either because she didn’t have it, or because she was enjoying the power she had been afforded, my sister refused to help. Mother returned a few hours later, and my suffering was the subject of much amusement. How could this be allowed to happen, was it the pack mentality kicking in? But even in a pack, a mother should be there to protect her youngsters, not single one out and banish him from the litter. This was one occssion where my illness required hospitalisation. The nurses were obviously concerned and made a referral to Social Services. For a time there was some intervention, and I believe they were given a grant to spruce up my bedroom, and for a while by brother and I shared a room. Things soon got back to the way they had always been, and my brother was then moved back to share a room with our youngest brother. It’s my belief that this was an attempt to keep me isolated, as their plaything that they could terrorise at leisure. I can never remember either of my parents showing me any kind of affection, although occasionally I would be called ‘son’, and that did give me a slight warming to my soul. There was never any encouragement and my life within this dysfunctional family was a daily grind, where as I saw it, survival was my only aim. My father had a succession of jobs, a trait I would later inherit, and I remember several half-hearted attempts to set up his own business, either carpet cleaning or video distribution. It never amounted to anything, unsurprisingly.
I loved my daily escape to school, as I saw this as a kind of parole. I didn’t have many friends as I was scruffy and smelled. I was called tramp, and gay boy, and can never remember my older sister being there to offer help, however should my younger brother, who was also at the same school ever be picked on or bullied, she was right there at his side. It was as if I didn’t exist to them. Apart from this the occasional name calling, the other kids, on the whole, tended to avoid me. However the teachers, and dinner ladies in particular were always kind and generous to me, and this I enjoyed. There was always an enveloping feeling of dread though, when we’d had our lessons and the bell rang to signal it was time to return home. I could never be sure what horrors lay ahead. My home was only a few minutes’ walk from school, and I would play over in my mind any perceived indiscretions that I could be punished for. Had they gone into my room and found that I had wet the bed the day before. Had they found the empty packets of jelly I had stolen from the kitchen? Mum always said that she knew when I was lying and had something to hide, as I went ‘white round the gills’, and would always capitulate at the earliest point in their interogations. I’d like to make it clear that I never stole money from home; it was essentials as I saw them, food and my asthma spray. I was 8 or 9 years old, and yes I was still wetting the bed, why did they never ask themselves why this was happening. One of my brothers went on to wet the bed until he was 15. I would often come down in the morning to find my mother hurredly washing the sofa cushions as the husk had fallen asleep and then pissed himself. What a hypocrite, laying there in his drunken oblivion. How could he come downstairs and sleep after he had petrified the living daylights out of his son. Worst of all were the 6 weeks holiday, I’d spend much of it stuck in my prison cell, looking out of the window at the other kids who lived near and around us, just doing normal stuff. I remember one boy in particular, his name was Dominic, and he would just ride round constantly on his bike, a Grifter. He had an uncanny ability to imitate a 2 tone horn with his voice. How I longed to have a degree of freedom away from my family, I simply wanted to exist outside the confines of my familial prison. Occasionally when we had visitors, or when the social services were due to arrive, I would be permitted to escape to the local woods and would befriend the local contractors who were working for the council, sitting in their portacabin wiling the days away, drinking tea and just staying out of the way. I enjoy my time away from the daily torture and being everyone’s punch bag, physically and emotionally.
I remember long hot summers, where I would spend all day in nothing more than a pair of shorts. You see there were not the dangers or at least the perceived dangers that there are today. Nobody knew what a paedophile was, and although I am sure that it must have gone on, we were perhaps less aware of the danger of strangers than we are today. I was during the long summer holidays that we would visit my maternal grandparents in Northenden, a town a couple of hours and at least 2 bus rides away, and I can remember spending some happy times there as a child. You see, when we went there the husk and my mother always had to be on their best behaviour, likewise when people came to visit us. There could be no sly digs, slaps or punches, as my granddad would never have allowed it. I think others within the family knew what was going on but were powerless to stop it, so infrequent were our visits to them. These visits did become more frequent as the health of ‘Nana’, as we called her, deteriorated as a result of Parkinson’s and cancer, and the visits as I remember them became less fun. The stench of imminent death hung around the once happy home. Gone were the days when granddad would sit us on his knee to watch a cowboy film, we were now ushered into the back garden to play, only allowed in for a meal of spam sandwiches and orange juice. Being kids, we weren’t aware of what was happening to our beloved Nana, and I can remember being scared of kissing her goodbye, as she dribbled. Something I have felt a great deal of shame about, however I am sure that she forgives me.
When she died, in her early 60’s, Nanas’ death was my first experience of having a close family member die, and I remember it very clearly. It was one of the very few times my mother’s husband openly cried in front of us. I knew that I was supposed to feel great pain at the death of a relative, but I didn’t. I had seen how this woman had suffered, for much of the time I had been alive, and I saw her death as a great release. Perhaps I was secretly jealous of her escaping the torture that is life