Sunday, 9 March 2014

Some missing pieces

I have realised that I have missed out some of the details in my series “What made me the man I am today” so, before I carry on with the final part of that series, I thought I’d fill in the gaps and other details that have sprung into my conscious memory.

The first formative collection of incidents date from the couple of years prior to the start of my descent into depression and surround the first bully who took a shine to making my life a living Hell; his name was Wayne.  I have no idea why he took a dislike to me as, prior to the age of seven, I was a delightful friendly child (apparently), however, take a dislike to me he did and he persecuted me mercilessly.

My recollections of this time in my life are rather minimal but I do remember one very formative incident that shaped the slightly paranoid personality I have today.  I used to be the kind of child that loved to go out in as little clothing as possible during the hot weather – shorts, trainers (sneakers to my American readers) and the bare chest of an individual who didn’t care that he was a pasty, thin weakling.  I would have continued in that reckless abandon if it had not been for Wayne who, for reasons best known to himself, decided to come up behind me one day and start to strike my bare back with a thin but very rigid metal rod.  None of the children I was playing with helped me in fear of bringing Wayne’s wrath down on them so I ended up with a back full of welts from the rather frenzied attack until he stopped.

I can’t remember what made him stop but the psychological damage had already been done.  Ever since that day, I have been rather paranoid about being attacked from behind although my vigilance has not always been enough to stop myself from getting attacked.  If you follow me for long enough as I walk around the town, you will see me stop and look behind me to check for attackers, a trait that is directly attributable to that attack.  It also left me unable to go out without a suitably thick layer of clothing on my body regardless of how hot the weather becomes.

At around the same time, my fear of Wayne led to me having an accident on my bicycle whilst trying to escape him.  There was a man-made lake not far from my home that had a shin-high ‘fence’ made up of wooden posts with a metal pipe running through the posts just below the top.  I was riding my bike around the neighbourhood when I was followed by Wayne and his friend.  Being a much faster peddler than either of them, I managed to get quite a distance ahead of them but still not far enough to be out of danger from him.  I turned to look behind me to see where they were as I approached the lake and I mistimed the turn I had to make.  I came to an extremely painful and abrupt halt as my left shin hit one of the sharp edges of a wooden post at high speed.  I tried to cycle home but the pain was too much for me and when I looked to see why, I saw that I had cut a chunk of flesh out of my shin that exposed the bone beneath.  Thankfully, Wayne and his friend had given up the chase by then and I was able to push myself along with my good leg whilst I kept my injured one as still as possible.

A little later in my school career, having moved from the infants school (for the pre-seven age group) up into the junior school (7-11 age group), I finally did something that justified Wayne’s wrath although it was not something I wanted to do and was rather forced into it by my ‘friends’.  Wayne was already the kind of kid you knew would grow up to be a criminal type so it was only a matter of time when he was caught shoplifting from a local shop.  I was, unfortunately, one of a number of children to see the theft taking place but when the head teacher of the school asked for people to come forward with any information, all the eyewitnesses stated that, although they had been there when it happened, the only person to see anything was me.  Being the kind of person I am, I told the head teacher everything I saw because it was the right thing to do and Wayne was suspended from school.  His anger at me was volcanic and I was in fear for my safety until he was removed from the area.

As an addendum to this section, I have to say that Wayne did not have a happy home life so I suppose the anger and hostility he directed at me was due to the need to feel power over someone else.  This does not excuse what he did but does explain it to some degree.  That said, however, I know people may not like me saying this but a few years after his removal from my life I heard that Wayne had died and I couldn’t help but feel happy at the apparent justice.  I still don’t know whether the reports of his death were genuine or not but they certainly cheered me up at the time.

During my early years I had become quite interested in the paranormal, the supernatural and the extraterrestrial but my life has been sadly untouched by such phenomena apart from two instances.  The first of these instances was shortly after I joined the junior school aged seven.  One night I had a prophetic dream.  I dreamt the entire events of the next day in every detail which would seem to be a tall claim except for the events I prophesised were not the run of the mill events that could have been explained.  It was a markedly different day to any other despite most days being much of a muchness.  It’s something that never happened again but is something I have always wanted to be repeated if for no other reason than to make me a more interesting person.

I was unfortunate enough to have the first medical symptom usually attributed to a much older person during my junior school career – the appearance of a papilloma, a kind of wart, on my eyelid.  The family doctor, father of Mike Oldfield (of Tubular Bells fame), explained that papillomas usually occurred in middle-aged men and was at a loss to explain why I had been cursed with one.  It wasn’t the papilloma itself that was the major problem (although it hardly improved my appearance), it was the method of getting rid of it – a cotton bud on the end of a long stick was swished around in liquid nitrogen and then pressed hard against the papilloma in order to burn it away, the same method used to get rid of warts and verrucas.  The procedure was extremely painful and was unsuccessful for a number of years despite repeated regular treatments.  Strangely, it was during a Physical Education lesson when I was eleven or twelve that the papilloma was finally eradicated after a fellow student hit me in the eye ripping the papilloma from the eyelid in a torrent of blood.  Thankfully, it never grew back.

In my second year of comprehensive school, after a spotless attendance record, I asked my mother if I could stay home as I was feeling unwell.  Being the son who was never listened to, despite always telling the truth, she made me go to school.  The following week, I woke up covered in spots and a trip to Dr Oldfield resulted in being told that I had German measles and had probably been incubating the condition the previous week.  I had tried to tell my mother but she hadn’t believed me and that is a pattern that kept on recurring during my childhood.  My brother could get away with anything whilst I was ignored, not believed and left to my own devices.

During the rest of my school career, I attracted the unwanted attention of a number of bullies that further added to my feelings of worthlessness.  There were the simple acts of name-calling and isolating me from the rest of the class up to and including physical violence during break times and even during Physical Education lessons.  Rumours were spread about me to the effect that I was a drug addict or homosexual and the bullies belittled me at every chance.  It’s no wonder that after five years of such abuse I wanted to kill myself.

I can remember only two of the violent incidents with any clarity.  I was not at all a fan of football, rugby or any of the team sports that most guys are supposed to like but I always tried my best and it was during a rugby game that I happened to get the ball and, against all odds, managed to score a try.  This was a bad move on my part as it angered one of the bullies who had me in his sights and he took the opportunity to stamp on my knee cap with his studded football boots.  There was no reason for him to have been anywhere near me and I had given him no reason to hurt me apart from scoring a try.  The stud penetrated my flesh and removed a chunk of it, almost forcing my knee cap out of position.  I didn’t realise I had been hurt so badly until a friend of mine pointed out that my knee was gushing with blood.

The other attack was an unprovoked attack during one of the breaks.  I was talking with a couple of my friends when, out of the blue, a fist came from behind me and connected with my nose.  I was knocked off my feet by the blow that also caused me to become dazed and confused for several minutes.  I was covered in blood from the injury and the bully who did it got off with a very minor punishment.  Obviously, my vigilance built up over the period being bullied by Wayne had let me down on that occasion.

Shuffling forward to the period following my Grandma’s death, I ended up suffering with yet another medical complaint usually reserved for the older gentleman.  This time I was peeing blood.  I had blood tests done but nothing could be found so I was sent to the hospital to have a camera inserted into my penis so they could have a look around in my bladder following an inconclusive ultrasound scan.  An anesthetising gel was forced into my penis to deaden the area but I could still feel every millimetre of that camera’s progress into my penis, around my bladder and out again.  My only solace came from the fact that, despite having an almost empty bladder, I was still able to pee all over the doctor who was causing me so much pain.  The annoying thing was that, even after that painful procedure, the doctors could still give no explanation as to why I was peeing blood.  It cleared up on its own but I still have periods of peeing blood even now.  I even had to go through that painful procedure again with no conclusive results and the prevailing theory is that I keep passing stones but there is never any evidence of them.  I suppose passing stones is as good a theory as any and would explain why, every so often, I feel like I’m peeing shards of glass.

As I don’t want to overburden my regular readers with too much detail about my pathetic life, I’ll relate just one final incident that has had a formative influence on my psychological makeup.  If you recall, I was throttled by a neighbour after I had opened the door to offer him assistance late one night.  It seems strangely apt that, following my breakdown, my doctor sent me to what he told me was a drop-in support group for people with mental health problems only to find that not only was it not a drop-in support group as he said it was but that the man who throttled me several years before was sitting at one of the tables.  To say that it traumatised me to be in such an emotional state and suddenly confronted by the man who tried to kill me is to understate the situation.

The man who ran the whatever-it-was said I could stay for a while but, after about fifteen minutes, I left feeling even worse than I did before I went there because the man who strangled me and got away with it was sitting there as happy as Larry enjoying his life without a care in the world as my life was falling apart leaving me a psychologically broken man.

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