My favourite thing to do as a child was play in the garden by myself, but satisfied in knowing that at least one of my parents or minder was in the house if I needed them, I then was able to safely enter the fantasy world I loved, darting in and out of the trees, rocks becoming my horses, my treehouse became my fort and the water sprinkler was the enemy. At this stage of my life I did not like my name and had a wild infatuation with calling myself John in the various roles that I chose to play out in that magical world I had built for myself.
I grew up in a very protected home with a lot of love, my family was simple and enjoyed an amazing life, but I don’t think I can recall a time that the absolute perfection we portrayed was actually real, although we all liked to pretend and act that it was. Most of my upbringing was fraught by ups and downs financially like an ever looming roller coaster. My parents never fought, my brother and I were not really allowed to fight, we sat up straight, minded our manners and knew exactly what was expected from us, especially when on display to others. I lived to please my parents with my brother and I forever in competition as to who would be the beneficiary of our parents attention and reward of being told how proud they were of us. We were good kids and my parents were amazing, but in the strive for perfection we lost big parts of ourselves.
So when being perfect and presenting happiness is all you know, how do you deal with reality of a world that is hard, imperfect and often cruel?
The best lessons in life seem to come from the toughest of times, and ultimately finding courage and bravery in ourselves leaves us far more rewarded. So again, when you have been able to lean on your family your whole life, when the safety of a parent's hug and arms protect you from the whole world and when everything you thought you knew and understood is changed, how is that one can survive?
I guess the answer to that question is, the best one can, and I am an example of that!
I was married by 24, not only to a wonderful women, but a women that is Jewish, amazing, kind, giving and a perfect mould of my mother, I managed to pip my older brother to the post making me the sparkle in my parents eyes, I know he resented me for this, but in a sick way it pleased me. I had 2 kids by 27, with my oldest being a boy. I had managed to achieve the white picket fence on a magnificent home with a garden that would make the perfect playground for my children’s fantasies. Life was good and easy and I was miserable! I managed to gain my happiness and reward from seeing the people around me content, I was fulfilling all my roles as far as husband and son were concerned, but when it came to me, I was living a lie. Just like the little boy who had transformed himself to play in the garden as John I was actually doing this in reality too, the problem is if you don’t know that you are dreaming, you have no alternative but to believe it.
I have written so much in the past about my journey of coming out the closest, I have managed to gain both an understanding and courage to find myself travelling both the most beautiful and terrifying experiences of my life, but what I haven’t been able to conquer is now that the music has stopped for me, now that the enticement of drugs, sex and rock n roll are well out of my system, I seem to be missing pieces of the puzzle as to how and where I fit into the world. Whilst I present tremendous confidence, am able to integrate amazingly well into social situations and seem to be very liked, the truth is that I battle with being an introvert with low self esteem and self worth. Despite my wild exhibits of dancing on speakers with my shirt off in clubs, wild parties and losing myself in the pursuit of all things gay, the reality is that all I was doing was jumping from one lie to another while still presenting happiness and in a skewed way, perfection. People looked at me with intrigue and even in the imperfect direction that life had taken me, I had managed to kind of do it in the most perfect of ways, which still elicited pride from my parents.
So then, another question for myself, if I keep finding myself jumping from one untrue life choice to another, who the hell am I really???
I am a conservative simple chap, who is scared to be alone. I have an extremely strong moral compass which always seems to point to my father sitting on my shoulder wondering what he would think or say. I love giving, even if it means losing myself, and I am absolutely infested with guilt. Guilt at letting people down, guilt at seeing my son’s look at me when I told him I was leaving home, guilt for not being perfect, and then guilt for myself for not knowing all the answers.
So with carrying on my theme of questions, what am I doing with this guilt?
I guess the answer to that lies in the belief that if I can do something truly wonderful with my life, if I can help someone, or many “someones", and impact their lives significantly enough well then to me it would all seem worthwhile!! Thats the way I feel, but I know that it is not the right or true answer for me. The lesson for me ahead is that I need to learn to help myself first, because unless I am able to have a significant effect on my life and that of my children nothing else can surely matter, but to me it does, it all matters and with that I am nothing more than overwhelmed and lost.
I find myself in a relationship with a recovering drug addict who also battles being bi-polar which really is both the perfect storm and challenge for me to effect and help someone else in a meaningful way. He hints at being the most amazing person, the person I fell in love with and he manages to in many of ways add to the presentation of perfection to the the outside world. Generating a Facebook page that looks nothing short of the most amazing of lives, but behind all of that, what I am truly left with is a lie. The only difference in this lie to the others is that instead of me hurting myself or anyone around me, I am now the one who is being hurt over and over again, with that pain becoming my addiction as I crave the next taste of the person I know is somewhere behind the selfish and often cruel behaviour that I take onto myself as my failure.
The ultimate lesson and last of questions I have for now, is why do I think I have control of anything further than myself, why in a world that has shown me nothing less that the fact that I control absolutely nothing, do I still choose to battle and waste my energy trying to fight so hard to accept humbleness in this regard, why can I not just let go and live and find a place where even writing those words doesn’t have to petrify the living hell out of me?
I don’t have the answer for myself to that question, and in that lies the lesson of accepting that not having the answers is also ok.
I have lost the safety of my garden and John who got me through those earliest of years, we change, we grow, we live, but in all of that, I know my true journey is finding out who my leading character in life really is without having to live an act.