I was spoilt rotten as a child. Not that my parents gave me anything I wanted, but still more than I deserved. I was one of those obnoxious little shits that can’t leave you the fuck alone and insist on harassing everyone, preferably in public. I was a severe case of ADHD, or that’s what the diagnose was after I ran around with wires glued to my head for two days. The recording device was an ordinary tape recorder, believe it or not, making me afraid of thinking all the wrong things in the dark. It broke and no information could be recovered, but in retrospect the doctors didn’t think it was necessary anyway- not after making me sit still for two hours to remove the glue.
I was also very afraid of many things. I couldn’t cross an everyday bridge or take a train without taking all sorts of precautions “just in case”. I still have this reflex: give me a wall and I will stand out of its reach: all it takes is for me to “notice”. It took me a long time to learn to ignore the fear itself.
Other than that, I was as careless as they came. My grades were decent although I never studied, and my condition gave me a development setback that made me bounce third grade despite very good grades. But, nothing bothered me much as long as I got to play.
That all changed when I was 10, and my mother passed away.
Three days was all it took, during which I never saw her. In fact, the last time I had seen her was in a huge fight about homework. I had reached the limit of what I could learn independently and my grades were dropping. It stressed my mother out and she suffered from thrombosis in the brain. I remember like it was yesterday, how my father came to pick me up from scouts camp, yelling at me because “I made my mother sick with my behavior”. It took me seven years to get over the paralyzing feelings of guilt stuck in my head.
What was left was a broken home, a family of three. My father, my younger sister, and I. I think my sister took it the worst; she looked up to our mother. It was hard to see her suffer but there was nothing we could do. She also lost a good friend in time, a girl living down the street. Much to her frustration, I had started liking girls and the little redhead was the first thing in sight. Puppy love maybe, but the relationship was to last many years.
My father, although he is a good man, is a terrible parent. He couldn’t take care of us any more than himself. Additionally, he has a weakness for women, and soon one followed the other. Eventually he found someone, a friend from his youth, to live in with us. She too had a daughter, and thus our family suddenly counted five.
It’s a long time ago and a blur now, but I don’t think I took this change well. I froze up and turned inside. My actions literally became slow, much to the frustration of this new woman. She would scream at me in the morning while I tied my shoes, taking forever.
Where we were used to living in a happy family, life had hardened her and she had grown used to living by herself. Her daughter was her everything, which in turn angered my father. Things went from bad to worse and one morning, she was no longer there.
Everything was awkward. No one spoke anymore. The relationship between the remaining three of us was sour and we only communicated when repeating the same old arguments. My father let me have the freedom of going to art school to do photography. Not only did I fail, I also abused that trust to get involved in one problem after the other. Several types of drugs passed the revue, and I learned to fight- all this away from my father and girlfriend’s eyes. I was happy though, the world was a confusing place but life was interesting.
At the end of his wit, my father suddenly switched to the opposite extreme: He found the harshest catholic boarding school he could find, and locked me up in there.
The principal was an abusive nun, and she and her army of “educator” did everything in their power to keep us at bay. I learned one thing and one thing alone behind those bars: You did nothing wrong until you get caught. It was a year filled to the edge with crimes, vandalism, fighting, and Maynard knows what else. Two major breakthroughs however: First of all, I discovered the healing power of music. I started off with Papa Roach and Limp Bizkit, and evolved further towards Metallica.
The second was sexual exploration. I loved my girlfriend passionately and despite several flat-out offers, was unconditionally faithful to her. It wasn’t even hard for me, up to the final days I had never even considered cheating. But after five days spent like a caged animal, she would know when I got home. I kept track of her periods, so I knew when it was a bad weekend to rape her behind the kitchen door.
I had taken the lessons I learned in the outside world, to heart: I let my hair grow, and marked my clothes with a red anarchy symbol on the arm. Oh they tried, but they couldn’t beat it out of me. At the end of the year, as my father came to “continue the contract”, they told him I was no longer welcome. Although I rarely did anything wrong (as far as they know), they couldn’t punish me for what I was. They had the scum of the city in there, but at least they could be beaten into behaving. While I behaved, I still managed to quietly protest by simply being different. My arguments made sense, and they couldn’t handle it.
So, another boarding school. Although I didn’t lose my demeanor or clothing style (picture torn jeans and the biggest shirts I could find), I was much happier there. We played indoor football (soccer for the americans) every night, and I became the best goalkeeper of the school. Metaphorically, my room bare kept absolutely bare. Where others made it into their private little home, I did no more than hang up a drawing of my girlfriend, and toss a coarse blanket over my mattress. I never even bothered to wash it, as if I would be leaving the next day. I just didn’t care.
Although I had a couple of good friends there, I couldn’t really express what was on my mind. So I started to write. Whatever questions needed an educated answer, I could ask the family therapist my father paid to save our already destroyed family, but those were exceptions. Two years in a row, I wrote, every day. I gave my findings to my girlfriend, I didn’t need them. I reasoned through writing, and whatever was on paper, I would know for the rest of my life. Today, I still strongly believe in the ideas I then developed, and often encounter them in reasoning followed by actual philosophers.
This same therapist by the way, helped me to get over my guilt issues. After seven years, he told me, "Try. Try to think that maybe, it was bound to happen. She had a condition no one was aware about, and it’s not really your fault. Think that for me." I did. I had the physical sensation of a huge weight falling off my shoulders, and suddenly everything looked different. I should send this man a thank you note some time.
But, my grades never improved. On my eighteenth birthday, I was still in fourth grade (tenth in US counting) and failing again. Confident that I had all the answers I needed, I dropped out and went to see the world.
My father had found another girlfriend by then, and this time she had not one, but two daughters. He ended up marrying her, despite her intense hate for his children: my sister and myself. I moved back home, and suddenly the house had no less than 6 people. As could be expected, my father kicked me out whenever he had the chance, so I would find a job and place to live. I did look, but no more than a few hours every week. The days in between I spent in the cyber cafe, heavily addicted to something new my friend had introduced me to:
An expert by now in lying, cheating and stealing, I had little trouble getting my claws on the cash I needed to play hours, days on end. And when I was done, I would go home empty-handed and play there.
I did find a job, eventually: Industrial Cleaning. Surrounded by illegal immigrants and borderline retards, I would clean factories. It was the worst job in the world, an assault on all your senses, but it made fortunes. And looking at my colleagues and seeing their dirty faces and clothes, I smiled, because I knew I was different and this was only to make some quick cash.
Or was it? As I came home and looked into the mirror, all I saw was another one of those faces. Within weeks, I grew more and more sick of this job, and even more of myself. I needed drastic change and I knew it.
And that change came, the day I enlisted. My long hair, uncut since my first year of boarding school and symbol of my freedom loving nature, made room for a “coupe militaire”. People gave me a second look when I told, and all asked the same thing. “You do know what the army is like, right?” I knew. But I was motivated, and that was all it ever took. Not wanting to end up in situations where I would have to murder fellow humans, I took training as a medic. Although I was a good shot (like it matters) and mentally strong enough to compensate for my smallish size, my big mouth often got me in trouble. But, I needed something life changing, and life changing it was. Two years later, after politely refusing a continuation of my contract, I walked away a different person. Sure, I was still game addicted (much to my girlfriend’s despair) and a loud-mouth kid with an answer to everything, but I learned to take matters into my own hands.
And so I did. I found a job as a roadie, and found it to be everything I ever wanted in a job- except for a good wage. My relationship on the other hand, collapsed under the strain of time spent behind a computer, and provided me with the most difficult year so far. I owe pretty much everything to a friend who put up with me for that dark time, a favor I never managed to return. But she came back to me, and we continued our twisted relationship for two more years, during which I moved three times. She ended up cheating on me, because there were too many issues she couldn’t talk to me about. Whose fault it is, I am tired of thinking about. It took many, very drastic things for me to set my mind straight again, and learn to be happy again.
Today, I think “alone” is the key word. I don’t have anyone extremely close to me, and somehow I end up pushing people away in favor of spending time by myself. I still love my job, but perhaps it is time to move on. I feel like I’m reaching another pivoting point, a sort of “reset” before the next chapter in life. What it will be, time will tell.