Homeschool

Being home schooled by no choice of my own, I have no qualifications, no GCSES or A Levels. I was removed from school at primary level, reinserted at secondary, with no friends, only to be removed a year later, due to the horrific bullying I became victim to.My mother took up the role of teacher. I suffer with mild dyslexia, a learning difficulty that has always been a thorn in my side, not helped by my so called home education !

I was given little or no structure. Often going on gardening jobs with my mother to help instead of learning, or just given text books and left to it. She was no teacher in an academic sense. I was provided with a below standard education and had little or no social skills. I was never asked, if I would like to do my GCSE’s, I was just told we can’t afford them. The result, I have no document to say I am adequate human being in any area. This haunts me.

Now behind me is a string of menial jobs, my life is a network of dead ends. Continually applying to hundreds of jobs and countless interviews over the years, trying to better my situation, always putting my best foot forward, only to receive the same emails and I quote (I have several of these emails in my inbox as I type this) –

“Dear Sir,

Thank you for your application for the above position and your interest in this role.

We have considered your application for this particular role and regret to inform you that you have not been selected for interview on this occasion.”

I have always loved writing and literature. I remember as a child writing my own books and creating cover art, by folding pieces of A4 paper in half to resemble a book. One of the books I most treasure is Candide by Voltaire (below is a picture of my well-read copy).

The book itself is short and fullsizerender1to the point, but incredibly powerful. I often imagine being happy someday, getting the job and the life I wish for. Like the character Candide I will find my Cunégonde someday, I will be scarred by this world, but I will get make it and get to her eventually.

As you read this I ask you, is optimism naïve? I ponder this question often. Do you wear like a badge on your chest all the bad things that have happened to you, telling anyone that will listen the pain you have suffered, or do you just move on? I don’t want to let go of my anger towards the injustices I have observed over the years, but there is so much of it, it’s exhausting!  There must be some self-preservation. If you don’t care for yourself, no one else will. Your screams for help will go unheard and ultimately ignored.

Yes, we can point out all the wrong and ill in the world and carry it with us, like a heavy load upon our feeble shoulders, but as Voltaire says in the last line of Candide  –

‘That it excellently observed’, said Candide. ‘But let us dig in our garden’

Smile like you mean it

From a young child until I left the organization I practiced door to door preaching. For those that are unfamiliar with this term it’s knocking on doors in the areas you live and giving a brief presentation to a member of public on their doorstep.

The reason I was told, is that witnesses follow examples of early Christians and find it the most effective way to talk to people.

Me and my siblings were taken on the door to door work, rain, sun or snow, usually dressed in hand me down suits and clothing from more affluent members of the kingdom hall that felt sorry for us.

One bleak rainy Saturday morning I had the most profound experience. A turning point you might say. I owe it all to a song by a band called The Killers-smile like you mean it.

I was around 18 (all of my siblings had left or been disfellowshipped the organization by this point), knocking on doors in my home town, with my father and several fellow witnesses. I was feeling particularly down that day, doubt was beginning to creep in. Is this right for me, when it’s causing me so much distress and anxiety?

I was told by several other witnesses that morning “cheer up, you always look so miserable, it doesn’t look good on the door work, we are supposed to be a happy people!” a common theme with JW’S, you are in constant fear you will bring a bad name upon them. I forced a smile even though I feel humiliated, scared and trapped. A mixture of feelings all bad stirred inside me, I honestly felt like bursting out crying. I said to my father “can I have the keys to the car? I’m not feeling to well” he passed me the keys slightly embarrassed due to how it looked to the others.

I walked back to the car choking back the tears, unlocked the doors and sat in the passenger seat; the sense of relief was amazing. I turned on the radio and smile like you mean it came on. The lyrics expressed perfectly how I felt ….. it’s an act, just smile like you mean it ! This was a massive turning point for me, I realised I was an actor and I wasnt fooling anyone.

I found it impossible to continue selling  a religion that destroyed my self-confidence and self-worth and more importantly my family. I ask you this, how can you convince people to join up, when you yourself have doubts about the organization and its harmful effects?

I went home that morning filled with shame, a broken person. This was the beginning of rock bottom, but from this point it just got gradually worse.

The lickin’ stick

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This story starts with something as innocent as buying a CD, but as I found out as a child, and learning later on as a teenager, in the wrong hands, music can have a very powerful effect on people, and  I stress in the wrong hands can have a very damaging effect on peoples life’s.

It all started when my father, while visiting our local record store, picked up a copy of Desmond Dekker’s album ‘Black and Dekker’ he bought it because of the popular track “Israelites” go figure, with my father being heavily religious. At first it started out fun listening in the car signing along as a family, but was a few weeks later when it became more sinister ….

My father got obsessed with the second track on the album “Lickin’ stick” (originally by James brown I believe) playing it over and over again. The song refers to a stick used to administer corporal punishment (or in other words a “licking”).

He used to explain, in great detail to me and my brother and sisters, this was the way the west Indians would punish their children. In his words, the father would send the child out to find a good stick for lickin’ and you would return and receive the punishment from the stick you returned with. The idea being, while looking for a good stick it would give you time to reflect on what you had done, before you received punishment for your actions. In saying that the majority of things my father told me growing up were untrue and Delusional, so I guess this probably was too.

I honestly can’t remember how old I was at the time, nine, maybe ten, I couldn’t have been much older than that; otherwise my memory would serve me better! The day came when the “slipper” just didn’t quench his thirst for violence anymore and he wanted to re-enact this song in real life. I can’t remember what I did, but hey, I was nine or ten years old, so I couldn’t have been anything that bad. With joy in his heart, he sent me out to our back garden to fetch a lickin’ stick, from the willow tree.

We had a rather large weeping willow tree in the garden. It was the most wonderful tree. I have fond memories or sitting under it as a child and reading the popular Goosebumps series of book on my six week school summer holidays. Although beautiful it had unfortunately long, thin, branches particularly good for whipping!

I reluctantly broke one off, and started stripping off the leaves, occasionally looking back to see my father’s dark figure standing, waiting for my return by the back door. Of course I took my time, wouldn’t you! I still to this day remember the fear in my heart, walking back, an overwhelming panic overtook me, waiting for someone to step in and put a stop to this madness… but that rarely ever happened.

Getting the slipper…

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The slipper was an object of fear in my household growing up. It was quite often used as a form of punishment by my father, to inflict pain on me and my siblings, for what could have been anything at the time from, disrespecting the religion, swearing, being disobedient (as he would say), or just because he felt like it. For those of you that don’t know what a slipper is below is the dictionary definition.  Amazingly even the dictionary definition describes beating someone with a slipper, how unfortunate!

Noun – A comfortable slip-on shoe that is worn indoors.

Verb – beat (someone) with a slipper. “He didn’t slipper me hard”

I feared the slipper, as much as I feared my father at the time; he always kept it beside his bed upstairs.  “Getting the slipper” was almost ritualistic in nature, and made much worse by my father insisting, before you got this terrifying punishment, you were to fetch the slipper and carry it down to him in the living room. As you can well imagine, it was the longest walk ever back downstairs. I counted every step on the way down to face my doom. There were exactly thirteen steps, how ironic !I still remember, even after all these years have passed.  I used to rummage around on the way back down, to see if I could find anything to put in my trousers, to numb the sting of the blows. I recall one time stuffing a New World Translation Bible, and various other Witness books down the back of my trousers as it was all my father had in his bedroom, because they are not allowed to read or study any other texts or literature then their own publications. As I found out, this was just further blasphemy, and ended up in more strokes of the slipper!

Sometimes, when no one was in the house, I used to go up into his room and throw the slipper around at the walls and stamp on it, wishing I could throw it away or set it on fire, always placing it carefully back beside the bed so it looked undisturbed, unlike me at the time!

Of course it wasn’t just me that fell victim to the dreaded slipper, I have one younger brother and three older sisters and this punishment was well underway by the time I came along! I could not recount their experiences, as when the slipper came out we all knew to hide. My favourite place was under the bunk bed in me and my brother’s bedroom, I used to keep BMX magazines and copies of the Beano Comic under there, for this very reason, you never knew how long you would need to hide away for. My young brother, found solace sitting in the wardrobe and closing himself in. I never asked my sisters where their hiding places were.

Just as I thought things couldn’t be any worse, along came another form of punishment ….

I will cover this in my next blog post.

Thanks for reading – Love & Peace.

Induction Day

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Being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, was, let’s say … a bit of a challenge. School being one of the biggest. Not that I know an awful lot about the schooling system, as being perfectly honest, I was removed from primary school, as I wasn’t fitting in. I was then subsequently home schooled for a few years, until it was decided that, as my older sisters were doing well and fitting in at secondary school, I should be reintegrated into society. Without so much of a whisper of choice.

As I’m sure you can probably guess… it didn’t end well for me. Less than a year later I was removed due to being severely bullied, but more on that subject later.

I was a fresh, young, naïve boy of 12 years old starting year 7 of secondary school. Full of enthusiasm to meet my fellow students, already worried if I would stand out, or not fit in with the other kids in my year group, and like all kids of this age hoping to make some friends.

I vividly remember, my mother driving me up to the entrance of the school, in our green Nissan people carrier. I was perched on the edge of my seat, peering at this terrifying building through the tinted car window. After a few minutes it was explained to me that a friend of mine from the faith was joining secondary school along with me and he was to be along shortly. This eased my anxiety, as he too was from a large working-class family; we often spent time together at gatherings and kingdom hall meetings.

When he arrived we were directed to the reception of the school, and told by our mothers they would be back in a few hours or so to pick us up, as this was only an induction to the school. A kind of taster of things to come.

The next thing I remember is being herded like an animal into a line of casually dressed children, all waiting to have their pictures taken and be issued with their very own ID card. After standing in line for 20 minutes or so, I had a deep realisation, I did not fit in with this crowd at all!

It was there I heard the first person ever in my life, use the expression “Oi dickhead” shouted loudly across the line, followed by another lad replying “fuck you” simply terrifying. I remember being in a complete state of shock, not really knowing what these words meant. Trying to overlook this, I nervously started talking to the boy in front of me in the line, he introduced himself. The conversation started well, he said call me Ollie, we traded names. After a short while he pulled out his Nokia 3310 (believe it or not they were all the rage back then! You hadn’t lived until you had played snake during a particularly long Sunday morning sermon, by placing it on silent and hiding inside your coat, but anyway I digress) he began showing me explicit sexual images made entirely of symbols from the keypad. This is before we had picture messaging or mobile internet. I was shocked, mainly at the level of dedication some horny, despite teenage boy, that had probably never seen a pair of breasts in his life, had gone to, spending hours making penises and vagina’s out of hundreds of brackets,hashtags, full stops and well placed Y’S. If only they had put this level of dedication into their school work.

I left shortly after a teacher gave us a brief tour of the school in small groups (If you can call a tour being shown a bunch of empty classrooms) “How’d it go?” my mother asked “Not sure”  I said feeling that the whole world had just opened up and swallowed me whole….

Making sense of the senseless

Hello and very warm welcome to you all !

Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog / page. How are you? How are you feeling ? Are you happy ? all questions I wish I was asked during my week that I’m sure you wish your were asked too. I direct these questions to you fellow readers, with a genuine concern for you all, in this cold, uncaring and callous world, in which there seems to be a huge lack of care for people.

The reason I have made this post is to connect with like-minded people,thinkers, like myself. Yes I’m unhappy, lost and fearful, but never defeated !

Most of my existence I have felt voiceless, plagued with anxiety, wishing deep down I had voiced my opinion, but instead sitting silent allowing the dominant to express their feelings freely, views I simply do.not.agree.with. I’m sure you have been In a similar situation, in the work place, at home, school the list is endless.

I just want to share some of my life experiences and try to make sense of the downright senseless !

 

 

The Difficult Times Of A Difficult Person

I’ve been called many things in my life, Stupid, Difficult, a disappointment (mostly by my father) and so the list goes on ! This, as the title suggests is a post about difficult times, probably made more difficult by being a difficult person.

As far back as I can remember, I have been an extremely deep thinker. If there was an olympics for worrying  I would be of Usain Bolt status. I don’t think I have ever made a rash, last-minute decision in my entire life. Everything must be planned out, carefully budgeted and prepared. I lay in bed all night just, thinking, endlessly. My mind is restless.

My grandfather once said to me “Your just like me, full of nervous energy” as he lit his 20th cigarette of the day. He firmly believes smoking calms his nerves. Once after one of my  severe bouts of depression I asked him profoundly  “How can I feel better?” he looked at me and said “Shit and a shave !” I remember just laughing nervously and braking the intense eye contact. After a few seconds of silence he said “You just gotta know when to lick and when to kick” a phrase I have never forgotten.

Suffering with anxiety and depression from my early teens I have spent a large portion of  my life looking at others wondering why I can’t have what they have. Why did I always have to be the outsider, lost and lonely ?

I was raised in an extremely strict home, my parents devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had three older sisters (one was my half-sister) and a younger brother. Our life was hard. One full of anger, rules and bible bashing. My father was self-employed tradesman. We never had any money as a family of seven, we were always looked down on. We had nothing. Often the people of the faith would feel sorry for us, especially after a sermon given at the sunday meeting about caring for the less fortunate. They would give us hand me down suites and old clothing. That’s one thing I despised as, the children would mock you as you walked into the kingdom hall, saying things like “Oi… that’s my suit, why are you wearing it ?” as if you didn’t feel bad enough !

I left after finally seeing sense, in fact, so did all my siblings. I admit openly, it took me a lot longer than them, I was the last to leave. I will be honest it was one of the hardest decisions of my life,as its left me with a huge, overwhelming hole. I’m now 27 years old, I don’t have any friends and other than work have little or zero interaction with anyone other than family members. It’s a lonely existence,  but in the words of one of my favorite  Noah and the whale songs”You know in a year, it’s gonna be better You know in a year, I’m gonna be happy”. Words I desperately clutch too.

I’m currently stuck in a dead-end job working endless hours for minimum wage, being treated like dirt on the bottom of the bosses shoe, hoping one day someone will appreciate all my hard work and dedication.Yeah… dream on I hear the reader say ! I’m convinced I can turn this around and achieve something.

This page is where I wish to share some of some experiences. I look forward to reading your comments and exploring your pages and hopefully find some purpose in this cruel world.

Love & peace to you all.