Scar Tissue.

I have an innate built in mechanism to deal with emotional upset and distress, stemming predominately from when my Mother passed away when I was thirteen years old. I was never given any proper counselling for it, and at that age, that important developmental period of my life, I had to swallow and hold in all the grief, confusion and loss that the experience involved. Looking back (and hindsight is a fantastic way of understanding where things started to go wrong, alas no use for the present), it was the most single transformative event of my life, the main thing I believe that caused my life to go so tragically wrong in my later years. To try to understand some reasons why I failed in my later secondary school years in terms of not passing my end of school exams (just achieving mediocre grades apart from English Literature – the only subject I passed with any distinction) and from going off the rails during those last several school years, I must begin to look back at the lack of support I experienced when my Mother died. I did go off the rails, I did become a rebellious teenager listening to Rock music, drinking and suchlike, I had an awkward relationship with my Father who probably never understood me (and myself not understanding or probably respecting the grief he was still going through), and so on. Fundamentally, I ended up not resitting my exams and went to work, ending up being ‘encouraged’ to leave home at seventeen and moving into a large town, away from the village and peers I grew up with, having to make new friends in the place I moved to; the beginning of the bedsit years had its inauguration in September 1988.

And so I struggled. For a highly sensitive teenager to have to learn how to do his washing, pay his own bills, cope with having so limited money (I was working on a Government Youth Training Scheme in Catering at that time – and that was low wages), plus suffering the pain of not having anyone in my Family to talk to when I finished work, then it was a very tough, very lonely time. I never finished my apprenticeship in Catering as I could not afford to live on the wages it paid, and the other reason was suffering from eczema. I started work in a Factory afterwards, and yet I still found it hard and tough going on my own even with a small increase in pay. The Samaritans were involved with me at one point between the ages of eighteen and nineteen years old because I had become so depressed living on my own in a pokey, sparsely furnished bedsit and having no meaningful existence apart from going to work and living off, for example, cheese on toast for the majority of the time. A very dreary existence. It was only in later years, towards my twentieth birthday that I changed employment to a much more positive office based job and became acquainted with some really interesting people – those dreary, single unshaded lightbulb days faded fast. Lady luck came a calling, and that I believe changed my fortunes back then. Or at least it started to form a much more individual identity to base my own personal liberty and ethos around; less Metal, more Grunge and correspondingly social issues, please. Identity Politics were the rule. A pure Generation X’er, coming from that screwed up past to want to try and change the world, and back then it was a true ‘rags-to-riches’ story – there was much that was good about me I personally and vehemently believe when I look back, albeit with scar tissue.

However, I still struggled. I still had issues within my makeup that had become so deep and hidden and swallowed into my soul, that on occasion would plague me, like some outbreak of fever whose illness would occasionally burst through the defense mechanisms that I had learnt to build around my hardened, but still sensitive heart, stemming from shutting out heartache, pain and rejection. Big huge, barbed wire defenses. As I grew older, this time living with my partner (later to be my wife), life turned slowly into normality; less the radical, freedom and rock-music loving youth – the one who wanted to change the world – more now into a responsible adult. Knowing about my adoption as my Mother never held that information from me (she told me when I was quite young), my late twenties seemed like a good time to uncover who my natural parents were. There are rules about making contact and when I found out various organisations that dealt with this, the law stated that a period of counselling is required before you make contact. I did all of this, I remained within the guidelines, but when the first letter came from my natural Mother, then all the emotions broke loose, ripping asunder the pandoras box where they had laid dormant for such a long time. It was not a quick process, it took me quite sometime to find her, but find her I eventually did. Terms that come into my mind as I write this tonight are: confusion (I still had the bond with my adopted Mother in my subconscious); love (hence confusion) and elation (hence love). Still, even over fifteen years after finding her, it is very difficult to write this up, to put this onto paper, to explain the most intense emotional ‘fuck up’ I ever had to experience. And all those stories about how good some reunions are, the ones that mess up are hardly discussed, or at least feeling the initial excitement of discovery, the bad tales just do not register. I digress. It screwed so much with my emotions – my mind, feelings and long forgotten things came rushing to the forefront of my life; I felt confused about my relationship with my adopted family, feelings about my Mother dying, age-old issues resurfaced with a staggering intensity that smashed through my old defenses, throwing them aside as a whirlwind would blow away a hastily constructed shelter. I felt emotionally ravaged, torn asunder in feelings of severe emotional intensity. I ended up having a serious breakdown from this crazy period of my life, and that really is all I can say about it, or at least all I wish to publish on wordpress at this time. Looking back (again hindsight is wonderful), my partner pulled me back together, and about a year or so afterwards, I married her and had children. Fin.

I believe that this existence, this life we lead whomever we may be, whatever our social circumstances, either makes us or breaks us, and there is the famous adage that ‘whatever does not kill you makes you stronger’. This so much is true. When I do look back at the things that went wrong with paths I chose, or were chosen for me (or highly encouraged), and the fact that I survived some incredibly rough treatment on occasion, then it made me a much more thoughtful, intense and mentally stronger person; the gift of being able to express some of these emotions on a literal level is something I am grateful for because I felt, with the intensity of living through such difficult situations, I needed to write to find closure, to come to terms with issues. Also, despite the initial feelings of joy and euphoria on finding my natural Mother, I do not think I am such a good advert for adoption organisations; it went wrong for me so I truthfully should not endorse the tracing and finding of your natural parents. If you have a stable relationship with your adopted parents, if you have a secure life, if you are emotionally strong, then go ahead and satisfy your curiosity. If on the other hand you are slightly worried in any way for whatever reasons, then give it a lot of thought. Who will it be affecting? Will it damage your relationship with the family that chose and loved you? And make sure you get the counselling beforehand. I am not sure if the law has changed since the late 1990’s, but that was a requirement before any information about your adoption details were handed over, and rightly so.

To conclude this rather confusing (it seems) post, then I think my character has been formed through struggle. Life has made me what I am today. The power and intensity of life-experiences gave me a hardened shell, and much more tougher skin than I ever believed I could have had when I was that sensitive kid from the South Wales Valleys. I most certainly have frayed edges, but I have an inner strength that has kept me together for all these years, an inner determination to prove the naysayers wrong about my character, to counteract deceit against my person. Even the shock of becoming homeless after my marriage ended never killed me, but it certainly has probably caused a more permanent and deeply emotional scar than anything else I have been through – and that truly is saying something.

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End of the year musings.

i) Emotional scars ii) End of the year iii) Some final thoughts.

Some famous author once said that you have to have a degree of talent to become a writer, but much more important is the ability to remember every scar inflicted upon you in this life. Each one of us has a small amount of baggage that we lumber around in our day to day lives; some of us have a huge weight to bear, some deeply rooted scars that, whilst being scars and hence have healed, still retain the marks of their being inflicted on your soul in the first instance. From whence these scars came from, for they being scars of some emotional pain or some great loss or hurt, is the most defining aspect of our existence. And we can, as this famous author once said, if we have a degree of literacy, put these unsettling experiences into words. This I believe can make your stories, poems – your creative writing – stand out from the crowd due to the power and intensity of your personal life experience and what made that wound so deep to leave behind a scar in the first instance. There is also a saying that each of us has a book inside, our lives being unique and individual that we all leave a blazing trail of a comet behind us in our relatively short time on this planet. Our time on this Earth I believe is meant to try and shape our future, to try and leave behind a better world for our children to live in whilst we learn from our own personal scars what hurt us and not to try and make our offspring suffer the same fate. Progress and healing seem good enough words to use to try and understand our existences here, what our material plane of being means in the grand scheme of things. Some of the most powerful authors whose works reside in our library’s and bookshops – some of the most intense novels – are usually the ones whose authors lives were marred with a tragedy or whatnot; some upset of an event they witnessed that made their creative writing convey a sense of depth, understanding and contain a humane outlook. I deign to mention any such authors here however, there are so many that I feel I would be doing a disservice to the ones I missed. Perhaps another post for another time to discuss the power of emotional distress and the authors who managed to put their experiences into form. So, each one of us has some unique aspect about our lives or families, that we all have the capability to actually try and creatively craft words to describe this uniqueness, this individuality – the very thing that may have caused a scar to form.

Its December, hence the final month of another year. 2014 inevitably approaches and again I am pondering just what I have done this year, like the one prior, and nothing really comes to mind. My days sometimes become so hazy that each one carries no unique or different life experiences, they all seem the same like a groundhog day that has lasted for me for nearly three long (but relatively speaking, short) years. I think also this is one reason why I stopped regularly blogging here on WordPress; I felt I wrote what I needed to make clear about my life and there seemed not a lot else to say from what I had written down here. So it seemed that if I did carry on blogging, nothing new would be said, the song would remain the same so to speak, and for this reason I stopped because there was no new experiences to write about, or any part about my past that felt I needed to explain and make clear, originally stemming more from a sense of defence that someone somewhere had slighted my character or did something terribly wrong behind my back. I have a high level of intuition and also, especially when I was younger, an innate sixth sense (and sometimes that is never such a good gift to have) which is why I picked up on things. Its hard to explain. So, a new year rears its head in the next few weeks and I did actually give up making resolutions years ago, I took a fatalist outlook and just accepted that I wouldn’t make anything worthwhile from my life; there appeared to be too many obstacles out there to trip me up, and hence, carrying this fatalist self destructive attitude within me allowed me not to try and put my life into some modicum degree of order and discipline. Perhaps I will try this coming year to try and rectify this.

I have been deeply thinking a lot about the concept of time. Maybe this is due to being in my middle-age; also it could be because I have a lot of spare, wasted time on my hands; possibly because I have always been fascinated with History and Archaeology – digging up the past and discovering how we lived centuries and millennia ago held a deep fascination within me, something I always had from an early age. Its obvious I believe that we are a progressive people, that the whole purpose, as I mentioned above, of life appears to be some form of evolution or maybe intelligent design. We have an actual purpose in our world and that purpose, to me at least, seems to be to develop ourselves and evolve, to progress. I believe that our ultimate aim, like the Age of Discovery inaugurated in 1492 by Columbus, is to explore the universe, to reach for the stars so to speak. It must be. It seems the only logical conclusion to our existence on the Earth, on our home planet. But whilst this may seem a lofty ambition or goal, we must also not ignore the suffering that this world contains, the poverty and starvation, the conflicts that displace people, as well as our unbalanced eco-system. This surely must be the main priority that we face, more important surely than reaching for the stars? I need to think and read much more about this. Maybe for the new year?

‘Changes’

I grew up living in a detached house, an old Station Masters house for the Train Station that used to service the village we lived in, a product of the old days of Industrialisation, the village bearing witness to the growth of the coal mining and steel production centres of South Wales, leading to more and better ways of transportation to take these goods down the valley and eventually to port. The village my parents moved to and where I spent my childhood was a junction between the end of two valleys, where two rivers fed into each other; one route came from the north and another west, both leading from the Industrial heartlands of the Ebbw and Sirhowy valleys, places where coal was mined and steel furnaced. The relics of Industrialisation littered this small village and its surrounds, in terms of both remains from old mines and also chronicling the rapid growth of industry and better and more advanced transportation techniques; we had a canal, railways and later on they built a bypass though the village as all the old train stations had long since fallen into disrepair and ruin, the canal overgrown and neglected. In many ways the whole area was like a living history book; you did not have to walk far to witness the relics of Industrialisation where I lived, from cordoned off old air shafts servicing the old, long gone coal pits, to a communal grave in a field recording a coal mine disaster of the 1860’s – the area contained such a rich source of the past.

Nothing really showed the evolution of our society more so than the place I grew up. The remains of two-hundred and forty or so years, from the early beginnings of Industrialisation to our modern society is recorded in the hills of my childhood; from slag heaps now landscaped and covered with foliage, with really nothing to remind you that these irregular humps once came from the bowels of the earth, to mobile phone masts allowing wireless communication looking like something from a science fiction film of the 1960’s – two-hundred years of history, from an industrial past into a technological future grace the landscape, and all this change stemming really from the past twenty or so years, and especially the last decade. How fast have we progressed compared to the relative slow period of change experienced since the beginnings of Industrialisation from the late eighteenth century onwards? In the space of ten years, roughly, most households are now connected to high speed internet and use mobile devices – a true communications revolution in no uncertain terms along with the free availability of knowledge and a wide variety of different news sources from the internet have never ever been easier to access. Two-hundred years ago, or not even one-hundred years ago, this was the realm of fiction; probably inconceivable even for those times. One-hundred years ago HG Wells wrote The Time Machine, but would he have predicted today?

I noticed that two years ago on this blog I made my first post, a work that I created for a Creative Writing course I was studying, writing about what I remembered from my childhood, or at least the most prominent memories of growing up. Its strange when you think about your childhood that you usually remember sunny days, no? I do, but I also remember the rain on school days, or more specifically, the days I didn’t like going. My memories of growing up were happy ones and the area we lived in was quiet and pleasant, full of wildlife and animals, freight trains on a regular basis, etc.

It maybe also why I have such a love for history, as it was all around me, from finding the old green bottles with the glass ball in the neck in our back garden, to seeing the remains of old railway tracks that used to belong to the old pit, the whole area was an industrial-archaeologists paradise, but today most of this has been cleared away to make room for ‘the new’, or at least that’s how it was several years ago when I last visited. I think it is important to remember our past and preserve as much as we are feasibly able to, so future generations can look back and see how we lived all those years ago.

Lets reminisce

I guess this is my June blog. My last two posts, when I reminisce about them and re-read, were very personal and emotional and perhaps this was too much information. I have not been that prolific in updating wordpress this year; a book review and two in-depth posts about my life situation is all I have posted in half a year. Perhaps since my marriage separation I have become more introverted, more nostalgic and more thoughtful about my past. I suppose that if anyone had experienced the struggle I have endured since August 2008 then they too would become just slightly more aware of things, more deep and still trying to fit their jigsaw pieces into place hoping to make them fit, to continue building their puzzle of their life. When those pieces do not fit, when they are the wrong shade of blue to fit the right part of the sky for instance, then we start over and search for that right piece to allow us to move ahead.

I set up wordpress a few months after my marriage split. My original intention was just to post a few reviews, short stories, works I had created whilst I studied a creative writing course. I never really was out there looking for loads of people to follow my blog, I just posted things as I saw fit. Since setting up Twitter, it has opened it up to a lot more people; if this is a good thing (for me), and I hope it is, then it is not without regret. However I am fully aware it is easily readable by all and sundry and so maybe this is not so good. But these are the sins and consequences of our technological age. Our internet history is quite an unsecure thing and we must always think twice about what information we care to release on the medium of our digital highway. Our own blogs, for some, are an expression of ourselves; it is a fantastic way of creating an online digital journal, a diary, a method of expressing our creative talent to the world. And what do we gain from this? For some (hopefully not myself) notoriety; for others an ability to be able to express themselves, not only to a small circle of friends or followers, but, at a very base fundamental level, the whole world. It is so interesting how the internet has shaped our lives, our methods of communication for the past decade. And it is still in its infancy.

I am fast approaching my thirty-ninth year (in less than a week from when I post this). Nearly forty years old. Middle Age approaches at a speed that even time travel might envy, or at least it seems this way to me. And yet, I still feel, mentally at least, that I am still in my twenties and this is good, because when I was in my late teens and early twenties I never wanted to become old because when we are young and impressionable we always perceived that those ‘oldies’ were fuddy-duddy, were out of touch with youth culture, with the ‘times’ and suchlike. Perhaps this is partly due to my upbringing, perhaps being part of a subculture when I was young did have an effect on me that still lasts to this day. Maybe also it could be partly due to the fact that when I was a twenty year old youth I had an intense, very sexual relationship with an older woman? I am certain this helped shape me. It is also very interesting that when I was that youthful guy, that grunge loving animal rights freak, I related more to older people than I did with my own age group, and this I believe was mostly due to the fact that since the age of seventeen I had lived on my own. I had to grow up very quickly or go under and hence, my old friends I had whilst I was growing up as a teen, quickly disappeared because they still lived at home and we started not relate as we once did.

Time: some call it a healer, some equally a curse. Whatever way you look at it, it always marches forward; healing for many and a major cause of nostalgia and possibly regret for some.

‘Add a couple of years…’

It has been over one year since I blogged and wrote ‘A Brief Testament’. In that blog I described how I was mainly the sole child-rearer, almost from the day both my two sons were born, and my subsequent marriage disintegration and how I felt wrongly cheated. It was me who was the primary parent during the day; doing the main tasks (changing nappies, taking to nursery and school, doctors appointments and so on – all those little essential, important things) whilst my ex-partner was at work, progressing her career, which she did remarkably well. Not wanting to tread old ground here, but yes, later a feeling of being housebound was making itself present in my life, a form of frustration that I could be offering the world more, earning money and using my skills. It was not anger against her (I am the least aggressive man you could ever wish to meet, truth), but it left me feeling a dreaded sense of helplessness against the direction my life was leading. Why this was so is probably because I was a professional IT worker, studying nearly two years for a Computing Degree – I considered myself a really skilled worker within the IT sector – but I never gained full time employment from it. I do not know why and it certainly was not through want of trying. I think that is another search deep within myself to find those, more or less, elusive reasons which led to my predicament. And there are many, so many.

In the twenty months since I have been separated, I have gone through the most brutal time I have ever known in my whole thirty-eight years of life. To find the reasons why this is so is no easy task, and it goes back a long, long way. To live with a Woman for fifteen and half years, being married for seven of them and producing two of the most gorgeous, happiest children I could wish for and then ending up in, quite frankly, a hell that I never ever want to discuss, really began to make me question everything I was and had become – and that is no small task for someone who had never had an easy life. When you begin to reminisce about your youth, your happiest times and see from beyond those years, in your mind, a time of wasted opportunities, then I think we start to become ‘unhealthy’, both in our minds and in our soul. What you perceived yourself to have been in those early, formative, character-making times and what you became before your life took a direction that was forced off the beaten path, then it does not become easy to fit the right jigsaw piece into place. They become two different opposites, pieces from two different puzzles, two alternate directions; the one path screaming at you, the other enticing you into certain demise and ruin.

And I suppose we are all guided by our own instincts, or our own moral code, with our behaviour and personality being the main character formers. Looking back, it sometimes seems as if I was led down that wrong path with deliberate intentions to ruin, becoming misled and ending up being misguided. For me however, it is pure conjecture on the reasons why I ended up in such a messed up state. Again, as I mentioned above, it becomes unhealthy to dwell on these matters and alcohol addiction does not help things either. So, nearly two years since I split from my wife and I am left asking the question where does it go from here? I have had one failed relationship since then – it lasted all of about three months – and in view of that I have not really looked for anyone else. Perhaps I feel too hurt with what has occurred in my life since 2008, possibly I find it hard to trust anyone anymore? Maybe I don’t know how to form a relationship because I still am reeling from what happened to me? Whatever the reasons, whoever the culprits, I feel deep down that I am really, utterly hurt with what has gone on. I feel a wreck.

We have just had an election over here in the UK. Thirteen years of New Labour has now ended with a hung Parliament with the Liberal Democrats forming a new Government with the Conservative Party. If this was the correct thing for the Lib Dems to have done, I don’t know. In my opinion, I see rifts and divisions in the future – I think that is certain – but how they deal with the economy will, I think, be the key factor to their success. I may blog a bit more on this. Perhaps it may give me something to focus on.