30th May 2016
I read James’s letter from the 13th on the bus back to Galway yesterday; it was a very emotional read for me!
I find it hard to articulate how I’m feeling sometimes.
It’s hard to explain to people that I sometimes need alone time to repair myself; it’s hard to express this without causing offense.
Worst of all, I know myself that I’m probably just being too sentimental; less forward and too silent, but I’m the kind of person that favourably takes feelings into account, digests the viewpoint of other people, and tries to seek a balance of understanding the best I can.
I know myself, as you are my witness, that this habit is causing more weakness than strength of character; it puts me on the path of leading others to more confusion as of where they stand with me, as I lose all trace of sincere feeling from pleasing others.
That’s just it; I act one way (portray deep affection) and feel the other (as though I’m inferior of meeting people’s expectations).
Even when the intention is good – especially when it is good! – do I doubt myself earning such treatment, and come to feel guilty and speculating; why are they being so loving, giving and taking me in earnest?
What did I do to deserve this?
It’s always a case where I want to be the giver and expects nothing in return; I’d happily change lives and require only good results: knowing I make people happy…
To me, this is all that matters.
But when I’m on the receiving end and given the world of another, then I could cry inside and ask why…
Why did I come to deserve such amazing love and care?
Surely, it’s a trick!
This voice has been with me since I was a little child and showered with affection from Nanny G; I’d ask myself if it was just a test to see if I was soft.
Really, this doubt and heart-break has grown up with me; how am I to expect changing myself if it’s all I’ve known to remain on safe ground?
James, with all his insights and wisdom, has brought me to contemplate many of my learned behaviours – and to see it with new eyes…
Not bitterly, but with true compassion.
He has certainly helped me with that.
The only person in control of leading my destiny is myself – and I must decide whether that be good or not…
People really can be beautiful; it’s not just my imagination, people can mean good in their deeds and do things out of the goodness of their hearts!
In fact, people can vary but there’s nothing wrong with that; not everything is predictable like we’d want to – and we can gain comfort in mystery, and learning…
Coming to terms with this aspect, and counting my blessings, really helped me not feel so terribly alone…
For once, this wasn’t your usual phase of young contemplation – where it’s a case of sulky mood-swings; this feeling towards past reflection was much deeper and a place I recognize myself at my most vulnerable.
Because I’m not a person who intentionally means to bring anyone harm; I only know what I feel – and that is a great sense of loss…
The way things stand between my family and the past really does affect me deeply, and I’m not one to sweep problems under the rug and play hunky-dory, especially when the reality is spoken with bitterness and treated in a hush-hush manner.
This type of behaviour just makes everyone feel more uncertain and beaten-down…
I feel, although there’s been closure in some respects, as a family there’s been more damage than the sense that things have been resolved!
Maybe that’s just me.
If only everyone weren’t so distant – as I have the feeling I must force myself to get their involvement in my life…
Why do I never get a sense of unconditional love on their end?
A part of me knows that I expect too much and say too little, and that is the trouble!
The thing is, I don’t know how to ask without seeming like a complete idiot – since I know my own part of withdrawing from family life hasn’t helped matters, either…
The truth is: I’ve always been afraid to ask of anything, because a huge subconscious part of me already predicts the judgement and disapproval I was so used to receiving…
I acknowledge that some of my doubts are a source of habit brought on by depression, but for most part I believe it’s a case of truly absorbing one’s harsh reality and only wishing they could change things for the better.
Although these outbursts for expression seem vengeful or possibly selfish, as I know I haven’t exactly painted my family in a positive light – because I only really can speak for my own feelings and impressions on life – deep down I hold them dear in my heart and soul!
They mean very much to me…
I just desperately wish things could be different – and that the unconditional love, which I’m sure is there, might finally show itself…
I can’t tell you how much I need their love right now…
I dream of such things – that it could be just as accessible as adults, but I suppose that’s a bit too needy, for I require something I know myself too afraid to expect from someone!
This reality is a struggle for me, and I wish I could be different – but this is where I know James to be wrong.
I’m not a strong person with a heart of gold; actually, I’m weak because I know I’ve been chasing something out of my reach: true mutual love…
Perhaps I’m unable to accept the magnitude of love, but I’m certainly able to do one thing that makes me immensely proud – and that is to cheer others up and make them happy!
If one can do that, then that makes the inner struggle all the more worthwhile and beautiful – for I feel satisfied enough if I can leave a positive effect on people.
As far as my concerns for family go, I hope I reach a stage in my development as a person to be more willing and compassionate with my approach, and less hardened or insensitive – because, despite all my emotions attached to it, the intention for everyone has always been from an expression of deep love and care…
I hope one day they may see that!
Tuesday, 31st May 2016
Recently my beautiful sister Cindy celebrated her Confirmation!
I was able to get the early bus down to Sligo to attend the church ceremony, which took place at the Sligo Cathedral around morning time.
As a support and companion, Lucy kindly attended the mass with me, as it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen my family – so I was a little anxious about the whole encounter at first…
To my great joy, once I made my appearance and received such a warm welcome from family and friends, the anxiety dissolved and what replaced it was an immense feeling of pride and excitement for my amazingly strong and gifted little sister on her big day!
It was also lovely to see my older sister Maria, who sat next to Lucy and me in the church, and catch up with her about life in general.
I definitely sensed a great maturity develop in Maria, who no longer slags me for little quirks and habits (a clash I always assumed was because of the differences in our personalities), but was now much sincerer and delighted to be seeing her big brother.
It was such a touching moment for me!
I also found the priest’s speech on family very moving.
I was half expecting him to preach The Fourth Commandment: “Honour thy father and mother.”
But, no. He took us on a very different wavelength; one that was pure and refreshing – and which spoke to me deeply.
He was suggesting that we should always honour the little things, like the teachings life itself serves as a favourable lesson, the people that enhance in our process of growth, both as a human being and spiritual soul, and how the most unexpected people that come our way are also a form of family in God’s eyes…
It was so beautiful hearing him talk about spiritual transformation, seeking meaning as we grow into our own independence and find a life of our own in the world… So inspiring!
For me, the priest’s words resembled my connection towards my two wonderful sisters and my need to be a positive example in their life.
I’d like if, one day, my efforts may be a source of inspiration for them to chase their own dreams, for I have complete faith in their potential to do so!
I also connected with Mum shortly after Cindy made her Confirmation and we headed outside the church to take photographs.
I didn’t really know what to say to her at first, because I hadn’t seen Mum since that tough encounter in Dublin.
In any case, she asked how I was keeping and I said she looked lovely in her pink dress. It was very brief but in most instances when something’s said it’s enough.
Soon after everyone headed off to Dublin, where Cindy will celebrate her day with relatives there (from her father’s side).
I gave Cindy a big hug and told her how proud I was.
It surprised me how happy tears came to my eyes while watching them drive off; Cindy waving in the back seat with a big smile…
“Cya soon, Jay!” she told me when hugging.
“Are you alright?” Lucy asked me, when it just so happened I was daydreaming and now staring into nothing on the driveway.
“Yes,” I said, finding my voice. “I’ve never been more proud!”
Lucy gave me a moment to collect myself, and then we headed into town to have lunch at O’Hehirs – where the light-hearted humour was back, and everything felt right.
It was such a wonderful day!
Now I must stop; the heavy emotions are coming back, and I so want to get a good night’s rest – without any intensity in mind…
All is well!
P.S. It’s been arranged with M.I. and me that I will spend more quality time with Cindy at a later date, as there wasn’t enough room to accommodate me in Dublin… I look forward to this and can’t wait to see Cindy again soon!
2nd June 2016
I’m staying in Sligo with Lucy for a few days.
The whole arrangement is a little funny, as I’m staying in the same home I rented for a few years upon leaving my grandmother’s – my old room only across the way (now rented by another lodger) – and we try to stay out of the way from other household members, to avoid painful questions…
Even so, Unna is very nice and extremely hospitable to house Lucy in her home, after I persuaded that she take her on.
It amazed me how much good it brought me to be in positive company; to get out of my own head for a while, and to enjoy the present moments with my friend.
And it wasn’t like it was some secret; I can easily talk to Lucy about my feelings if a moment arises, but what ends up happening is even nicer…
We joke, we laugh, and we see the light in things; it creates this shared energy where it seems we conquer all, and our togetherness a reminder that what we share is enough!
As I’m sure you’ll agree, to be able to turn to friends is always comforting on some level.
For a while, I just didn’t have the courage to reveal my struggle, and so the process has taught me that some pain deserves to get aired…
At the same time, there comes a point where your inner feelings can’t be shared with a second person; it becomes an intimate journey you walk alone.
I’m sitting here at The Back Avenue, on a bench overlooking The Garavogue lake.
It’s nice and peaceful – a place that always seems to restore a feeling of calm and tranquillity within me.
This must be my favourite place in all of Sligo!
This morning I had the strong sense that I wanted to be alone, so that I could enter a place that allows for me to be meditative and fully present; body and spirit.
The Back Avenue just happens to be that perfect space for me; it’s amidst nature and the beautiful turquoise-like river – a reflection of the trees upon the water – which I always associate a presence of healing, being reborn or even catching a glimpse of what God’s smile must feel like; transformed…
Yes, there is certainly no other place I’d rather be!
During the walk here from Cartron I first had my doubts that I may experience this feeling of joy and pure renewal; connecting totally and completely in my own special way, with the Earth and our timeless universe.
But once I reached my intimate destination, stepping foot onto the river’s edge, feeling my balance safely positioned on the rocky man-made bridge, the fresh air nourishing my senses and face, and being completely overcome by this sweet bliss…my hesitations became clarified!
As a sensitive teenager I often retreated to The Back Avenue when times were tough and needed inspiration, when it was nearly impossible to hope and dream in environments that were dismal and tense…
Going on nature walks around here, or playing catch with my puppy Patch, always endeared me and brought back powerful perspectives within.
It is so necessary that, amid the chaos and noise that life often invites, sometimes we might look to solitude and feeling the presence of our pure spirits and friendship with God…
Now when I suggest solitude I don’t mean that people should seek isolation and become enclosed; no, I envision something else…
It is important sometimes that we stand back from the rushes of everyday life and find time to bring gratitude into our minds, and count our blessings.
Because once we give change the voice in our heads, the navigation through our challenges become an enlightening one!
This is something I’ve strongly felt lately.
Everything – absolutely all things – about our perceptions on events channel the results we desire…
Once our thinking takes a new platform and moves away from discouraging thoughts, everything positive in life comes forth, and things we see good work in our favour.
It all begins with The Self and how we perceive life and the world around us…
It all changes once our attitude about that thing sees it with meaning and gratitude; once our presence opens up and invites the unknown, the more we see day-to-day challenges with true victory and compassion…
The more we question cynically, close ourselves off and indeed see the negative, shall that be the result we see coming forth…
It’s all a process; I know I won’t be a changed man overnight, but new hope rises within me – so I believe good things are coming…
God has never deserted me on this journey in life; in fact, I receive visions of the many blessings and treasures I presently have, and the many wonderful things to come!
This isn’t a one-way force; I see that we’re all connected in this symphony we call life – where the vibes are shared collectively, all depending on the tone we choose to give it, negative or positive…
I invite the latter!
Have a beautiful day. 😊
3rd June 2016
Do you believe in God?
Tonight, I’m feeling profoundly inspired; extremely happy and humble – and I give thanks to the universe for this turn on my emotions!
In this letter, I would like to explore my concepts of God and spiritual beliefs…
To begin, I would just like to point out that my view of God isn’t a materialistic one – inspired by any religious order or conformity – but mine rather stems from a strongly sentient nature.
In one sense, I don’t so much perceive God in a bodily form, but instead, I experience what I feel to be divine energy; a collective force we all embody – both the seen and unseen creations of the universe.
Some call this “The Law of Attraction” – the universe sending out a message from your subconscious, more call it their materialistic motivations (positive psychology); some call it religious faith or the angel on their shoulder, and others view it as spiritual intuition or connecting to their God-Space.
I’ve never considered myself to be an orthodox person – I respect and admire the power all religious faiths have, and sometimes find myself engrossed in the religion/spiritual sections of the public library; gaining an understanding of both the positive and negative impacts these belief systems have on culture and the local communities, as well as the security it’s provided people on advancing their morale, or a comfort in giving a sense of purpose.
I also observe how, in many cases across the globe, religion can be taken out of context and cause a lot of bigotry and frustration in modern times…
There always seems to be that clash between the conservatives and liberals (no remedy in-between!); a lot of misinformation caused, and people in our society becoming outcasts.
I believe there is a lot of power in prayer (self-belief) and a sense of belonging in the presence of churches (sanctuaries of people’s God), however, I strongly detest that distinction between people because of their ethnic groups, differences in faith or even treatment towards those who don’t belong to any religious belief…
Humanity has missed something; I strongly believe this…
We are not that different in a humanistic comparison; we all come into the world defenceless, in need of love and security, and each has our own life purpose to discover!
This purpose, however, isn’t worldly goods or materialistic fortunes, but something of a unique kind.
It’s personal to all of us – as we connect with the universe by an inner language, that only “God” as your life-long guide could fully comprehend.
This force works simultaneously, I believe.
I think Divine Love speaks for all unheard pain; it’s that essence which fills the void, empowers the weak and is the compassionate voice we could all relate our favourite love-song…
Essentially, it’s that loud feeling from within, that springs from our chests and sings to the rooftops without care; it is that impassioned truth that yearns to be expressed and heard!
It’s that mysterious drive that motivates the uncertain minds; it’s that bliss which beautifully trusts in the moment and experiencing life with full integrity – purely by putting faith in the unknown and listening to that special source from within you!
For me, I didn’t find God.
Instead, God happened to me!
There is no better way to describe it, really.
I think all of us, whether we like to admit it or not, have sometimes envisioned our lives through the perspective an outsider might looking in; the way the lens of an unseen camera captures your moment – or felt as though you possessed a hidden self.
One half is your interactive self; your social expression and the way the world might judge your personality type.
This is a side of yourself discovered from life experiences, your upbringing, cultural habits and even maybe the accent you habit.
These are all behaviours learned; giving the outside world a superficial representation of how you adapt in the world around you, and how you perceive yourself in progressing society.
No one fully, except your other half, understands emotionally your life’s journey and how it’s led you up to this point.
This is not because the people we encounter in later life are any less compatible; in fact, the opposite is true.
We all experience this dual identification; that part we discover from life experience and the precedent one through which we grow up with emotionally…this is your soul being recognized!
I come to believe that this inner part of us is more like a keen observer as we go about life than the decider of action; like the vehicle being driven its path.
Of course, this source is the essence in a complete person – but all living things have their primal instincts and natural flaws, too, so the process is one that becomes known with emotional growth with us as a person.
For some people, this discovery can be scary, especially if they’ve been raised under religious indoctrination and are new to questioning the possibilities for themselves.
If anything, I feel complete compassion for their position – even if some can’t step out from within that scope and consider a way of seeing life that may be foreign to their own.
Even so, at the heart of things, everyone’s beliefs are personal to them, just as everyone’s relationship with the universe is an on-going process throughout their experiencing life…
It’s all a question of their present perception and the message they project out to the universe on a spiritual or subconscious level.
Humans have a tendency to expect “straightforward” answers; to have their paths steered by outer forces (such as what we now call authority figures), and for that process to be as simple to follow and direct to comprehend.
Needless to say, we all want our experiences on earth to be a comfortable one; for things to be predictable and to reach as much safe ground in our destinations.
But what conversely happens (in the majority of our complex societies of the world) is that life throws challenges our way; the unexpected we come to meet and any opposites we encounter allow us to re-evaluate any preconceptions we inhabit in the rudimentary sense.
In most instances, it isn’t always easy for people to see value in this predicament or even to consider the possibility as an “opportunity,” due to our current fear-driven perceptions at large.
And I am not suggesting people of a particular group or belief system; even the most liberal of sorts share their own prejudices.
This isn’t a social conflict I’m addressing due to different educational backgrounds or a preference of option due to one’s current status quo per se, but an observation I feel is inevitable in our natural flow of life, and which direction our hearts take us depend to a large extent from our life experiences or environmental influences.
I know that probably seems like a bit of a contradiction from the way I’ve limitedly described my point of view, but it’s no paradox that a variety of factors are at play, and a concept which begs more questions than provides simple answers.
Most people obsess a “right/wrong” conviction that they might possibly be neglecting the art of living; we only really know what works for us by experiencing – speculation just leads to more questions and unchallenged bias judgements (my case in point!).
I hope as I grow that I’ll be able to adapt better judgement and to gain a stronger understanding of humanity than I fail to articulate here.
I’m confident that, the process of life and with my willingness in mind, I’ll be able to possess that knowledge.
The reality, as far as I can see, is that life (with all its flavours and complexities) are never simply defined or black and white to distinguish.
And maybe that is the very intention of our being here; to consider more than one way of living, more than one way of thinking, and to consider new or different ways of approaching and connecting with God/the universe.
When we really consider it as a collective, we’ve only scratched the surface of our innate potential and true worth in the face of existence.
Some might visualize this as their spiritual identity (not technically their religious front, but their relationship with God/the universe), and others might take a more intellectual approach and call this growth in their emotional intelligence as sentient beings.
Some people feel content and safe within the religious status they’re accustomed to, and that is perfectly fine.
Who am I to judge?
If this strong faith brings people security and provides the means to truly help believers prosper and become better, more decent human beings (emotionally), and people’s treatment towards others and the world around them has enhanced (behavioural), no one can deny that the power of good faith has its rich resources.
But enough about my preaching.
It was never my intention to make this letter so far about questioning or, darn right, refusing to accept beliefs outside of my way of life!
And yet, I must admit, much of my objections are aroused due to some of the world’s assumptions about me, or people like us.
In this regard, I mean my evolving sexuality and the question of whether a God in which the people abide could possibly accept same-sex lovers, or more explicitly, a “man who sleeps with another man”…
It saddens me greatly, that my capacity to love, feel as a complex person and share with people, is reduced to one act expressed.
I have no doubt that God, as spirit guide and friend, loves me – but, still, in the eyes of much humanity and religious teaching today I’m an abomination and looked at with disgust and pity.
On the contrary, sexuality has always meant more to me than labels, and is truly a complex part of our being, as much our gender. At our true essence, we are much more than simply the bodies and sex we inhabit.
For myself, I’ve always recognized this from a spiritual place, which is why I’ve no problem embracing both the masculine and feminine features my body and mind exudes.
This isn’t me trying to stand out, be different or seek some grand attention; this is simply a feeling of liberation by me showing my true authentic self to those that care to know me, which is really just a person that relates a great deal to people of both sexes.
However society might categorize this measure, I know at a deeper level we are one and the same in spirit, which is what makes reaching the hearts of some in body so rewarding during the human experience.
Despite any mixed messages, brought on by old age religious institutions or the bullies of my past, I carry on – trusting in my conscience; seeing the beauty and goodness of things all the while, in many of the ways God has presented to all my senses.
But, more importantly, I’ve developed a respect and acknowledgement for all things unseen.
As I have drawn out earlier, unseen as the souls venturing through life, not afraid to take risks, finding their place in the world and forming their social make-up.
Come to think of it, we all begin life as wanderers, and grow up to be taught about societal norms and cultural expectations brought by those who came before us.
I don’t mean to rant again; I’m simply aware that prejudice breathes hate and is something which is practised out of fear; therefore, I leave speculations of this kind for God to judge, and focus more my energies on those important to my way of living, and well within my control.
I know, God-willing, life has a way of revealing to us the answers we seek, should we really listen!
I put faith in the possibility that one day a great change will take it’s course, where people – no matter what their religion or beliefs – will find it in their hearts to accept LGBT people as their equals, for I am firmly convinced that this is also how God sees all of us!
On that note, what does God mean to you and your life?
Questions like these are usually provided with controversial answers, which is why I never really discuss matters of this nature; not only because I wouldn’t want to impose or offend, but also because my own discoveries are forever growing, changing and kept close to my heart.
This might explain why God has such an intimate take on my life, but I’ve yet to describe how that took shape.
Growing up, I never gave the concept of God, or spiritual matters, much thought…
I mean, of course, as a born Catholic I occasionally went to Sunday mass with my Grandmother, took confession, went to religiously structured schools (not uncommon in the Republic of Ireland) and took notice in bible lessons.
But from a spiritual capacity, it never held much meaning in my life…
I appreciated the order of things and following in line to make my educators and family proud, yet deep inside something was always nagging at me; something my immature young self knew was too early to comprehend, but was confident of one day finding a path and place of meaning that spoke to me and my soul.
Funny, isn’t it? I’ve always had quite the strong and determined spirit within me!
That young boy would go through many years of hardships and feelings of isolation before forming strength and meaning from it.
I simply had no dear friend or outlets for expression, with whom I might confide in and forget my struggles.
The hardest years during my growing up was most probably the time I was put in a special school, from the age of nine till I was over thirteen.
Despite having a learning disability and needing those special resources to tend to my educational needs, for me it was an experience that felt extremely isolating and a time where I felt deeply misunderstood in my capabilities.
I certainly struggled with maths and developmentally I was extremely immature compared with others my own age, but my understanding of how that came to happen may seem unusual to pronounce…
It’s quite a long story, so please bear with me while it may get tiresome in places; it’s by no means an easy part of my life to confess up to.
Nevertheless, I feel it’s also necessary – if you are to really understand why I approach life the way that I do…
So, here we go!
I believe the home environment, what with all its chaos and disruption, also played a role in my struggle to learn and retain knowledge.
My thoughts were completely caught up in all the fighting between Mum and Tony, my increasing sense of loneliness, and believing I wasn’t contributing enough to support my family.
No offence to Mum and Tony, who I know were simply products of their environment – but I didn’t receive any adequate guidance or encouragement from them in the area of my education.
It’s understandable why, however, since their habits with alcohol and drug use, while at the same time having violent outbursts with each other, would have limited such required attention.
In fact, most memories I have of doing homework with “guidance” brought with it feelings of fear and doubt.
I distinctly remember a time, when I was still quite young, of being assigned to memorize my timetables for primary school.
I’ll tell you how it happened: Tony and Mum had my sisters and me in this unfamiliar house somewhere out in the countryside, and I vividly remember the driving journey there as been pretty frightening.
Picture this; it was in the middle of the night, we were surrounded by trees and darkness, and suddenly the headlights of Mum’s car runs out of use!
Discovering this before our eyes brought a lot of shock and frustration, particularly my two young sisters beside me, who began to cry frantically.
We were all afraid, of course, that an incoming vehicle might speedily approach around the corner and crash into our unrecognizable car…
Luckily, at this point in time, we weren’t far from our destination, and made it there safely!
Anyhow, I just wanted to provide you with a picture of the situation as we came up to what happened.
So there I was, later on going through my mathematics; its exercises seeming beyond me, and – with the added frustration – I had no option but to ask for help with them.
I left the bedroom where I was told to study, and approached Mum and Tony about it all.
Tony was in the corner of the sofa rolling up a cigarette with marijuana, and Mum and my sisters were busily engrossed with whatever it was that they were watching on the television. I believe it was a light horror movie called The Sandman.
Cindy was fast asleep in Mum’s arms.
I told Tony and Mum about the maths problem I was having, and they strictly warned me that I couldn’t go to bed until I learnt off my timetables.
As Tony put it: “I can be here all night, and believe me you don’t want that!”
Immediately understanding what that meant, I shifted upright from where I was slouching on the couch, and headed back to the bedroom to unrealistically reattempt the assignment.
Their method was mind-boggling; once supposedly remembering off my division, I was to return and read aloud a piece of maths asked at random… Boy, if I got it wrong!
The reason this request proved difficult was due to the fact that I wasn’t shown, at my limited level, what it all meant, how to connect the numbers, and why…
Aside from that, there was also the fear!
It was better to avoid asking for help than to receive most definite punishment.
In general, I’ll be honest with you; as a child, particularly when caught up in a vulnerable position and required something from the adults, this is when I was most afraid.
Mostly it was because I anticipated the judgements to come, and extreme measures of discipline brought upon me.
It’s like, for example, when you’re about to be hit, slapped or shouted at, etc., your body can automatically act to defend itself, and that can seem cowardly; like mine did, when I would quickly raise my arms above or tremble all over from being punished in this way.
So, too, it was no different as a mental reflex when it came to my learning, and anticipating what came after, should I get it wrong…
That night, going through the maths with Mum and Tony, was especially harsh!
Every time I got an answer wrong, I was hit over the head, called stupid, and asked to go away and attempt again.
Mum and Tony must have had a good laugh seeing me mess up, and it wasn’t long before they concluded the practice pointless and gave up trying to support me with the homework.
I was given an awful beating and rushed off to the bedroom.
I remember falling into bed that night, crying my heart out and believing I was a failure in every area imaginable.
And yet, as the thoughtful child, I never once fathomed that I was lacking something which was my human right; nurturing from a loving parent, or maybe even emotional guidance as I grew up into my own person.
I simply internalized that the fault was primarily mine (and maybe, in a certain sense, it was!), but I also realized that it was up to me, too, on what I did about that knowledge, and working around those limitations in my environment to do the best that I could.
I felt (though it’s silly to admit) I was an embarrassment growing up to the adults around me, so I learned quickly that if I wanted anything in this life, I had to rely on myself to figure out what worked, and how to receive those ideal results.
Certainly a harsh gulp of reality to swallow…but in another sense I’m glad to have received such awareness, and not simply fallen under reproaches and lived a life that was inevitably expected of me, in such circumstances.
I don’t say that just in regards to the limitations of my familial supports, but also the systems in society – which had their own predictions of how my light might lead…
I can see benefits from having overcome those earlier obstacles, and can now proudly say I’m beginning to develop a better sense of worth, a better sense of where I’ve come from, and also where I might be headed in the future!
I’d just like to note that I love Mum and Tony very much, despite the struggles we all faced as a family – and I hope they also forgive me for any troubles I may have caused them while they were raising me.
I always, always wanted to be the kind of son they needed from me, and to do them proud – but my sensitive personality somewhat proved different in their eyes.
I am a fighter
But not in the way you use your fists
I am a believer
But not in the way you preach
I am a survivor
But not in the way you decide to act
I am yours
Love me as I am!
(This isn’t me attempting poetry; it’s simply words in a straightforward prose, put together for those important to me, and to maybe one day express to them what I really want to get across from the heart!)
It’s always hard to meet high expectations, particularly when they aren’t realistic.
I had my own expectations of my guardians, which can be felt similarly by any young person.
In my case – above all else – I was longing to receive love, without yet articulating what that really meant…
The only real consistent male role model in my life growing up was Tony, and that wasn’t always positive…We had a love/hate relationship to say the least.
Partly it was due to my fear and anger towards him for how he treated my mother when they fought, and the way he was tough with the girls and me when he lived with Mum. I found it very hard to respect him!
On Tony’s end, I remember him finding me odd – very introverted, afraid of eye-contact, head aimed to the floor, and pretty cut off from the others emotionally.
I spent most of my time in my bedroom playing video games, to avoid drama or harsh judgements flung at my head.
My household had a very different sense of life than I aspired to live; sad to say, but I felt utterly trapped and misunderstood by those around me.
Don’t be deceived, by the way.
Don’t assume just because I spent most of my time in the bedroom that this is what I initially preferred.
Other kids in my neighbourhood would bully me a lot, and I hadn’t any friends that stuck at this stage.
My only resources were really: going to school, to be around different kinds of people, or Nanny G’s, and there I was really able to relax.
At primary school I simply acted out as the class clown and was eager for approving attention.
This more often than not brought more harm than good; what with disrupting class lessons and making saucy jokes.
Teachers sometimes reported my behaviour back home, and so a vicious cycle ensued. From there, new limitations became acknowledged…
You would be absolutely astonished by seeing the transformation in me from back home to when I would visit Nanny G…
It was at Nan’s that I really lit up, could be myself without care, and let loose.
But ultimately, it was where I felt really cared for as a kid.
At a young age, I had this fascination with Harry Potter.
I even remember me wearing the black cloak and – with the plastic spectacles falling to the root of my nose and toy wand in hand – I’d jump out from behind the clotheshorse and cast a spell on Nan as she was quietly peeling potatoes.
This always made her let out that infectious laugh, which I adored seeing.
Having to leave Nanny G’s always brought up mixed emotions in me.
I even remember once pleading with Nan, asking that she take me in.
I done this as she walked me home one late evening.
Another occasion, Nan even witnessed for herself the chaos that I was accustomed to; Tony and Mum had been fighting – and it must have been pretty violent because Mum took the girls and bolted over to her brother’s house.
So, when Nan and I turned up at the house, we found Tony leaning out of the upstairs window talking to a lad in our front garden.
He informed us that Mum wasn’t home, that we should check my uncle’s house and see if she’s there.
This bewildered Nanny G; she didn’t know what to do or say.
Nan could only leave me off at my uncle’s and rush off to work, as she was already late that morning.
With deep sadness, Nan would later relate that incident and tell me that she wishes she took action there and then.
But I always reminded her it was never that simple, and probably unlikely; not only because Nan was afraid of Tony and the outcome, but also because she didn’t have strong enough convictions, to have to report and prove a case of child neglect, and getting social workers involved – which is always unpredictable.
It’s a very grilling process, and never a decision made lightly – God, don’t I know it!
Not until many, many years later, when things got so out of control at home and I was desperate, did I take that great risk and done all those things by opening up; using my love and protection over my sisters as a primary force coming forward.
I wasn’t at all sure of my ground, or where the outcome may lead me; I only knew what was happening for us wasn’t right, and it needed to stop so that things could change and get better.
I never felt so alone in all my life, and you must remember it felt like a form of betrayal; I thought exposing this truth would let my family down and cause them to disown or hate me.
Worse yet, things could remain as they did and I’m quite sure it wouldn’t have been long before I found the nearest exit and ended my life.
It was incredibly toxic and abusive, yet I loved these people very much – so it was a very overwhelming place to find yourself; not to mention, being so young.
Afterwards, it certainly broke down the family dynamic more, what with us kids going into the care system, being under the social workers watchful eyes; Mum’s relationship with Tony beginning to deteriorate, and the whole change causing much speculation in my relatives towards me as the first informer…
Many thought I was simply attention seeking, acting out or doing all this to get some “better gain”. All very ridiculous assumptions, of course.
What would I achieve by only bringing more hurt?
By the time my sister Maria and I reached out at that youth club, it all happened instinctually and under a great deal of panicked emotion; we didn’t for one second foresee that we’d have to be interviewed by police officers, be brought to the hospital where our bodies were examined for bruising and signs of child abuse, and of course being introduced to the social working team that would change our lives…
We only wanted to get away after a violent outburst with the adults, who demonstrated their discipline on Maria and me after playing up at a summer camp; never expecting the consequences that came after for all the family…
When I saw Tony slap Maria hard across the face and she fell to the floor (seen from my bedroom, as I sat crying on the bunkbed), that was the last straw for me.
It had me quick up on my feet and ready to run away; there wasn’t any time to think!
I remember strongly saying to myself “No way! This is wrong…enough!”
Despite probably disappointing my family and making a selfish act, I don’t regret having confronted harsh truths if it meant doing what was best for mine and my sister’s safety and well-being!
No adult around us was doing that for us, or thinking about that first, and besides all to the contrary: how we were being treated was uncalled for and especially cruel!
We deserved to be treated better than we did; we were only children, and any human being only ever learns from making mistakes…
While we’re discussing this, I would like to point out that no one child has to react the same so such situations; it affected Maria, Cindy and myself all very differently.
In converse, our outward behavioural reactions may have been unique, and our thoughts about it all, but ultimately it was equally troublesome and traumatic.
What’s more, my sisters and I accepted this earlier treatment from our caregivers as the norm; something to be expected when we were badly behaving.
These experiences do leave a long-lasting impression.
Even today, I’m nearly sure my sisters believe it was tolerable.
They weren’t raised any differently, and so they became conditioned and understood that as their appropriate punishment.
Sadly, this isn’t at all uncommon – especially parents from our older generation acting it out!
I’m pretty sure if you asked my sisters about their experience of growing up, you would probably most receive a very different interpretation to mine.
And I can see why…
Maria and Cindy were certainly more attached to their parents and got more of their affections; in my case, it was tough love and being a man of the house – which I understand had well intentions…
I was fortunate, in that I received much of the love and support I needed – to feel secure and wanted – from my grandmothers.
In saying that, I don’t mean to imply that Mum and Tony didn’t love me in their hearts; quite the contrary!
I’m simply acknowledging that they were unable to provide that love when I most needed it (as a kid growing up and forming his sense of the world).
Interestingly, it wasn’t until my sisters and I went into the care system that I, myself, developed new insights into family life and how they operate, particularly having a better understanding on what makes one healthy and another dysfunctional – while equally sharing their own troubles.
Unfortunately, nobody could ever explain to me “why” …
I wanted to understand the underlying cause for actions under my roof, since it couldn’t just be that parents believe, in their hearts, that corporal punishment works and solves much as a method to have their children really respect them.
If anything, what it really does is instil fear in minors and sends mixed signals; later on causing young people to develop unhealthy attachments and destructive habits, bottling up their angers and resentment, and building strong dislikes towards authority figures – starting with their caregivers as models for that.
These are all phases I, myself, am sure to have experienced as a young teenager.
I imagine it can bring up different kind of reactions for different people.
Luckily for me; enriching friendships, and being exposed to different forms of life, really opened my eyes.
But yes, I always questioned why in the back of my mind; why things had to be the way they were, and why I thought I deserved such treatment at the time…
From me, I have a poor explanation for it.
It’s because I was brainwashed, based on a ritual of behaviours seen and experienced frequently, but more so it’s due to having such an undying love for my family, and trusting that they knew best.
I remember many times Mum and Tony yelling out: “This is the way our mam and dad taught us!” before receiving a wallop from either their hands, the belt or a wooden spoon, etc.
And from me to you here, I completely sympathise with the pain and suffering they must have experienced as children, too.
I couldn’t possibly throw blame on them alone, since it was a method of punishment they only knew too well (by it being put on them from their own parents).
From what I gathered, discipline styles like these seem to repeat itself through the ages, and a cycle that can be difficult to break if much anger issues go unresolved, for parents and children alike.
Some suggest it’s a generational problem, due to one’s poor education and guidance, but I would dispute this view strongly.
Extreme forms of discipline, and the consequences of those practices, can show up in any social class type, and parents from all age groups.
But back to me.
It took many years – until I became my own man, really, and educated myself – that I actually developed some genuine compassion and forgiveness for the people of my past.
I carried much judgement and heavy disappointment towards my mother, since I loved her so deeply and needed things from her that she couldn’t give.
Worst of all, I had a father (my biological link) who was barely part of my life, or crossing my mind with care; I was so caught up in the everyday that he didn’t yet measure expectation.
Those concerns would crop up much later.
Despite Tony’s faults and limitations, he certainly filled that fatherly role, at most in practical terms.
Overall, it was undoubtedly a very complex way to grow up – and all for the better!
It’s saying something that I always found things to make me smile…
It’s as if the spirit within always had a way of accounting for things, and catching sight of those wonderful things to come.
Children can be very resilient, and my sisters and I no doubt were.
Our experiences and hardships made us all the more strong, despite what anyone may say!
We are human; comprising within us both potential to do good and bad things, with a mind so creative it can transform one’s way of both seeing and living life.
There are no certainties; only possibilities!
It’s peculiar, isn’t it?
Once I had so much anger and frustration towards those that raised me; now exists only compassion.
Now – now at last – I can see how exhausting that must have been; carrying around that burden, not letting my past go and giving it wings.
It’s understandable, of course, why I’d feel as I did – but I just wasn’t willing to forget.
I was too stubborn with everybody, because all they really wanted was to put it out of mind and pretend it never happened.
This habit became very typical in my family, under a variety of challenges.
All this only fuelled my sense of abandonment more, and brought my daily progress to feel like a losing battle.
It’s because all I really wanted was some closure, which my family were unable to give – and that was a tough realization to come to grips with.
The only real things that were going to help, with this pain and accepting things as they were (because these were emotional hurts I was experiencing) was time and some faith in something…
These signs of hope would emerge much closer in time than I expected to receive them!
Amazingly, it all started sometime after being enrolled in the Special School.
Of course, the initial change was quite strange and upsetting – and a huge part of me felt I didn’t belong there.
For me, it was symbolical of my family’s absence and their unwillingness to help, but it was especially a sign of their lack of faith in my own potential to achieve much.
Children, however, are fantastic at adjusting to the environments that are revealed to them; so I did just that!
There was a great advantage, which is why I probably didn’t panic after the first week…There were no bullies anymore!
No kids lurking on the school playground, waiting to jump out and pick on me or call me a queer; no more fights, or having to flee my way around long routes to reach home, school or et cetera.
Now there was provided a private bus, what kids on my street called “The Handicap Bus”, which picked us, children, up outside our homes and brought us to school and back.
At most, there was initial gossip about the whole thing, from nosy neighbours or immature kids that would tease me about it in the mornings.
But that was all petty and bearable; more of an annoyance than anything taken to heart.
When I started at St Joseph’s School, aged nine, I had begun all the basics over again; some very useful, such as foundational maths, advanced reading material and English as a study in particular.
But for the rest – the less said the better…!
Let’s just say: with the workload, I felt so under-challenged and bored, and the hours throughout the school day would drag by so slowly…
The teachers on the other hand were absolutely wonderful.
They, of course, had to manage children with all kinds of physical and intellectual challenges, and even still it never broke their spirits.
The teachers also liked when I would offer to help out and support my fellow classmates in any way I could. This always felt so rewarding and good.
The same could be said when the young people supported me in other ways!
In terms of the classroom arrangements, it wasn’t based purely on children in certain age groups.
Aside me – near aged ten – were children as young as five or six…
I guess it was based on intellectual maturity?
I do respect that I started out in many ways what can be considered very childish and wild, but I also bear in mind that I was exempt from the many social interactions between children that are crucial in their development at a certain age, and having consciously mature parents that would guide this process.
But this isn’t Mum’s or Tony’s fault – they were inexperienced and extremely young themselves! – to have the knowledge or awareness about these things.
All I do know is that from then on, from being around a much younger social circle, it definitely had an effect on my emotional maturity as I developed.
I don’t know if this was caused by habit or simply my limited situation, but for a long time I certainly wasn’t mixing with children that were my own age or at my capacity, and so I grew very comfortable in adapting with those much younger than me.
Even outside school this became more of a habit.
Not a bad thing at all, but it unquestionably played with my intellect and made me see myself as much younger than I really was.
This can happen to anyone from a young age and being accustomed (or restricted?) to certain social circles, and age groups in particular.
You could say my sense of innocence and naivety was immense!
Can’t really judge if much changed in certain aspects… 😊
During my first year at the school, I was very quiet and withdrawn, but eventually I accepted my situation and tried to make the most of my time there.
Always in the back of my mind, I thought it was better than being bullied and finding schooldays fearful – so I tried to stay optimistic!
Some days I could be that cheerful chatterbox in the classroom, or that kid who makes his teacher smile.
I might ramble on about high hopes, telling my mentors that one day I was gonna be somebody: travelling the world and becoming famous.
They always smiled politely when I had rushes of happiness, and expressing ambitions as such as these.
There were also many unhappy days, too, when the fighting at home became so intense that I couldn’t sleep at night, that I’d invent excuses for being exhausted at my desk.
Not always did the teachers see the signs; it could have been observed as laziness, or my acting out as an attention-seeker.
It was simply because I was afraid to share anything happening at home, knowing the punishments in store if I ever did gossip about such stuff.
Whenever I spoke to young people, I would invent stories of what my homelife was like; making it seem glamourous and ideal, so as to form some kind of barrier between me and outside school.
It did the trick, to ward off suspicions for my unpredictable behaviour; one moment being the life of the party, and the next a mute that could daydream off into space and be oblivious of his surroundings…
It was exhausting having to play a front day after day!
I’m conscious of the fact that my descriptions about all these developments are put forth so bluntly!
But let me tell you; in the very moment, and with so much going on, there was only utter confusion!
I didn’t have the clarity and sense of confidence as I may have progressed with at present…
I was only a troubled young child, making the most of his situation and playing by feel.
It’s a wonderful thing that, deep in my heart, I still had so much inspiration – and a drive that could be only explained as coming from “Divine Intervention”…
I was blessed with a good disposition, and a vision that saw the best in everything; I marvelled in adventure in any way I could!
This all wouldn’t have been possible had I not, deep within myself, a strong sense of feeling guided and protected by some force.
Call that what you must: God, angels, spirit; maybe even the stronger part me I haven’t yet encountered…
All I do know is that I felt truly grateful for such gentle persuasion!
You might ask: “But, Jay, what was it that started all this change for you…How?”
And I can only respond with saying: it was always there, waiting to be uncovered; that better nature which lies within all of us.
It can only be understood by aspiring to be that better version of ourselves, and really allowing and accepting change into our lives…
Change is where all true healing prospers!
The start of that change began for me when I really turned to writing; to not fear being the dreamer I was, to voice my place in the world – and to try and make sense of things in my immediate life.
It was a gradual process, and there was certainly no magic fix.
But writing became a wonderful compensation for me, as I battled through my most lonely moments.
It’s one thing to say the positive affect this way of expressing myself helped, but it’s not enough without also informing you what encouraged such practice.
In my third or fourth year at St Joseph’s, when I was around twelve or thirteen years of age, I was at this point moved up to a much more advanced level.They called it “Class 3”. I would have been with people near enough my own age, too, or even a little older…
Every student went at their own pace, and teachers formulated class structures which really worked and balanced out every young person’s needs, while at the same time being able to give that much needed support on an individual basis.
In this new class, I was given the nicest teacher you could imagine – who would later go on to become a huge role model of mine; in terms of educational growth.
She was a short middle-aged American lady, who was extremely intelligent and articulate; this teacher really made learning fun and relevant!
She entrusted upon us a love for literature and physical activity.
Every morning, the teacher would get us to do warm up exercises before we met the day; we all would jog around the school in two’s as a means to keep stimulated.
I realize now that many of the children didn’t have playmates at home, so the school offered a compromise.
In the afternoons, we would all gather in a circle of the class and listen to our teacher read with interest, while following along with our own reading companions.
Now and again she would get students to take a turn in paragraphs and ask us our honest thoughts on the part.
This all kept us very focused, feeling very involved and having equal say in our learning.
We read books such as: How To Eat Fried Worms, Bridge To Terabithia (a children’s favourite of mine), Matilda by Roald Dahl, The Golden Compass and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and much more…
As I’m sure you know too tell, Anne Frank’s Diary really resonated with me; both as a writer and a human being.
Back then I didn’t know enough about the second world war, and I was really only beginning to appreciate literature in my life.
However, listening to our teacher read so passionately and with such a professionally spoken dialect; forming a sort of book club with the class, and the rewards we all got for doing well in our efforts, definitely all motivated me in a very special way…
I especially loved pouring through the bookstore catalogues and discovering reading of more interest.
Seeing them arrive in packages and discussing them with the class felt extremely refreshing; I felt so proud of myself that I was beginning to actually enjoy learning, and not being afraid to show it within my efforts…
Anne’s story really moved me; despite coming from extremely different circumstances to mine, I could relate with many of the emotions of growing up that she expressed within her writings: about the relationship with her family, feeling misunderstood and trapped, but more importantly, I appreciated Anne’s drive to seek good and optimism despite the odds.
I certainly wasn’t a passionate writer to begin with; actually, one might say I wasn’t far off from being illiterate in the written expression.
My grammar and sentence structures were really poor, my handwriting was worse than it is now (still evidently needs improving!), and writing as a use itself, in the beginning, was a mere reminder of the tasks at hand.
More a source to “remind” myself and complete goals, rather than anything of emotional significance.
Our American teacher, on a daily basis, would instruct every student to keep a journal and would ask in the mornings to record what we did the day before when we went home.
This was all just something the teachers required to check our progress with writing as a school discipline, and ways to encourage us to keep up the habit as we improved in our literary skills.
But for me, it certainly was to have a more profound usage to my life.
After a while, I decided to start a more personal diary; one that was separate from school criteria, and begin filling it with more intimate content; started by saying how I really thought and felt day-to-day.
For some reason, it done wonders to have something that was mine, and mine alone.
There was tremendous comfort in being able to turn to my diary like a dear friend, and offload if I needed to.
Mad to say, but the self acknowledges a lot more on recall – and by reflecting on paper I felt my concerns were being heard.
More significantly to me, I formed my own logic about things and started to gain some control of my world.
On a more basic level, there was great accomplishment in setting yourself those tasks, being self-disciplined and completing them.
Creating some healthy structure and routine is so important, for body and mind to function positively!
My last year at the special school was crucial in this change…
It was a very exciting time being a teenager and seeing many changes take place, both ones which occur through puberty in general, and emotional ones that manifested within.
I found the whole process wonderful, and a true indication that I was becoming my own person with his own ideals; in control of leading my own destiny!
I suddenly began to develop more self-belief, and felt the world had great things in store for me.
I couldn’t quite explain it to myself, but I was immensely pleased with this better person I was becoming…
I could see how I changed, and why, and I was humbled by this great bliss I was experiencing!
Something was steering me on, and I didn’t know what – but it’s power pushed me through and kept me going with a happy heart…
A very unexpected thing to add about my reflections of St Joseph’s is that despite firstly feeling misplaced and sort of seen as a lost cause for the adults, it wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized this whole experience was actually a blessing in disguise…
I couldn’t see that at the time because I was too busily absorbed in all the pressures that became my every day.
What made this particularly an enlightening experience was how I decided to approach this change with new will, and the unusual perception that overcame me with intensely good feeling.
Such feelings like a deeper sense of gratitude, towards God and the universe itself; for possessing me with good health and strong mobility – but also the many other daily privileges that some of us never think to consider and appreciate.
Appreciations like being able to freely take a walk in the sun or rain; feel the sand and waves beneath your feet as you run or dance; both seeing and hearing signs of the beauty that comes from Mother Nature, and just being able to make independent choices for ourselves and manoeuvring around without needed assistance…
These are all things that can be snatched from us at the blink of an eye – losing one or more of our senses, etc., and so this gives wonderful room for thought.
Aside advancing in my academics at the most foundational level, my best education was both observing closely and experiencing at my most adapted to the challenging environments around me.
Every day brought with it new insights, and human behaviours at their most complex.
Witnessing many of the limitations in my fellow classmates at St Joseph’s, while also having the amazing opportunity to form long-term friendships with them, are all things that gave my heart a new appreciation for life – and maybe some extraordinary perspective on people (if I may say! 😊).
Those children were what I consider true angels throughout my journey of growing up!
They have no idea how much they inspired and impacted on my life; not to mention, also making my everyday worries seem pale in comparison, yet all the more overcome with their presence and support!
When I reflect on my times that came after St Joseph’s, like enrolling into mainstream secondary school, for example, I can see why people found my attitude towards life to be odd for someone so young.
It’s difficult to pinpoint why exactly, but all my inner resources (that were achieved from those earlier experiences) really pushed my spirit ahead with an eye for success; towards the little things, like a higher education (becoming more self-educated), knowing what it means to be independent and truly happy…
And this is where I come back and touch on that question about God.
I’m convinced all the struggles that hit me throughout childhood had a purpose, and from what’s happened a higher power can better understand.
And I can see from thinking this way that’s why spiritual growth really blossomed within.
Had I not been thrown out of my comfort zone and pushed into that unpredictable space (that felt extremely lonely and judgemental), I wouldn’t have connected inward more naturally and developed a better relationship with God.
What I envision when connecting to my God-Space, and being compassionately mindful, is that reassuring voice within – telling me to keep going and helping me get through; feeling beautifully connected to all things, and no longer as insignificant.
In this space, you’re no longer focusing purely on survival needs and the wants of Self, but in the position of balance and considering all points of view; really standing outside yourself and finding equal value in your opposite…
In time, my meditations brought me much deeper than I anticipated.
It brought me to reconsider all the things I had angst about.
I didn’t expect to connect with such deepened pains and trauma, and replace them with pure love and appreciation for all the knowledge it’s provided me about being human.
It’s little things, like gaining a better understanding of our parents, and empathizing with the many struggles they must have been encountering, too; learning to try loving Mum and Tony as people and not begrudging them from expecting ideal parental figures; trying to forgive and form a mature understanding/relationship with my Dad, and catching up on the many years missed; acknowledging without guilt that I’ve really had to be my own parent and guide in growing up.
This journey has taught me what it means to be truly resilient, be it my failures and strengths.
The strange part is I never really felt alone…
There’s a tremendous difference in feeling lonely, and being alone.
I only felt lonely because I knew my family were missing out on the person I am inside, and equally, I was losing an opportunity to really know and understand them as people, be it their survival and emotional stance.
Now I see there is huge advantage in getting closer and coming to know, and all the more sincere when so much is shared and forgiven…
Once we discover where we want to be, all stubbornness and expectations are left behind; connecting beyond material things are where love and care is truly felt!
I wouldn’t have achieved any of these rewarding outlooks if I hadn’t admitted defeat and gave birth to a new change of seeing life…
It was writing to you that really brought out this change of person, and that willingness to see life as an education; not merely the schooling system and what they teach alone!
I am out chasing for my own answers, just as much while I physically evolve – and I have found the core towards an enriching life derives from keeping an open mind.
I wonder what God would say…?
The message I hear back is one who holds immeasurable love and patience!
I really believe that the journeys we take are never truly taken alone; an experience had, is an experience shared…
We are all one in spirit! 😊
I would like to add that I don’t mean to cause any offence in this post.
These are only my personal beliefs along my journey, thoughts and discoveries from experience.
Thank you for taking the time to read it.
I believe we are more alike than we think. 😊