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Confusion……

5 Jul

‘The ability of a child to understand their feelings is limited.  Confusion can easily arise, especially between shame and guilt.  If it persists into later life it can become extremely counterproductive……’

Confusion……

Confusion is nothing new to me.  At six years old sexuality wasn’t something I understood.  I was different and, it was made abundantly clear by those surrounding me, intentionally or not, that it was wrong and shame was something I did understand so I kept quiet, terrified of being ‘found out’.  There was a simple solution to this dilemma; be someone else, which is what I spent my childhood doing.  Soul destroying though it was I needed something to hide behind for fear of the consequences of the truth becoming known and with it, the shame……

Guilt or Shame……

Substantive, tangible guilt is easilly dealt with.  I’m talking about doing something definitively wrong, like theft or vandalism.  You can admit or deny them, but once dealt with any guilt can be let go.  Shame, on the other hand is less easy to reconcile and can become guilt in ones own mind.  It’s the perceived, self-imposed guilt that isn’t so easy to draw a line under.  It has a tendency to to have a cumulative effect over time.  Even things about which you should feel no guilt whatsoever somehow end up in your bag.  I think it’s because guilt and shame are easily exchanged for one and other, to the point where you can feel shame for actions taken against you due to other people’s predudices……

Twisted Reasoning……

I was abused when I was a child.  Not by anyone in my family, but once again shame was at the forefront of my thoughts.  My immature reasoning and fear of shame stopped me from speaking out so it carried on, and worsened.  I had convinced myself that I had been ‘chosen’ because my abuser had worked out what I was and knew that coming forward would ‘out’ me and shame would keep me quiet.  He programmed me to that end.  Yet again guilt and shame became interwoven.  This should never happen to anyone and shame, guilt, embarrassment and fear should not stop you shouting it from the rooftops to make it stop……

A Sad Irony……

Having kept my secret for years, at the age of 21 I finally found the courage to tell my Mother.  Although now I would have done it face to face, I revealed all on the phone.  She was kind of sympathetic but being from a different generation was about to drive in a nail which hurt more than anything I had experienced before.  As if to reinforce the confusing emotions.  This secret could not be revealed to my Father as she was convinced he’d disown me.  To this day, 20 years later, friends and neighbors could not find out for fear of the shame it would bring.  In one telephone call which had taken me 21 years to make, and which could have reconciled the confusing emotional turmoil I had suffered for years, had the opposite effect, making me feel everything I had thought was indeed ‘normal’.

Maybe it’s me, maybe there are others who feel the same but I’m uncomfortable with my sexuality.  This might come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.  Although, it isn’t so much that I’m uncomfortable with who I am, rather, I’m uncomfortable with the ‘scene’ that somebody of my orientation is supposed to inhabit.  Maybe it’s all the guilt and shame bestowed upon me that makes me feel that way.  Either way it has made it very difficult for me to sustain any kind of long term relationship.  I feel like an alien that has no place in this world……

Epilogue……

In yet another twist of irony which I blame on my life experiences, but in reality are the result of my own bad choices, I have more guilt and shame over some of the things I have done.  Although, anybody carrying so much emotional confusion would likely have made similar bad choices; choices that have only added to my feelings of guilt, especially towards the people closest to me, who are affected by the fallout.  I have on many occasions considered putting an end to everything, only to be stopped by the powerful feelings of guilt that are inherent in such a definitive action, but I would know nothing about and be unable to feel by virtue of not being around; yet it still has the power to control……

So, guilt and shame have made me who I am, ruined my childhood, strained family relationships, been at least in part responsible for bad choices and, ultimately, prevented me from taking definitive steps to end my suffering.  And all they are just transient feelings that will end when I am gone……

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Charity Begins at Charities……

21 May

‘It’s not true that charity begins at home. Charity begins in the boardroom, probably a plush boardroom surrounded by antiques, in a nice office, situated in a nice part of town. And, the men in suits sitting around them, because they are mostly men, have a combined income of millions of pounds……’

It is not my intent to detract from the good work done by many unpaid and dedicated people on behalf of charities. However, as we all too aware, everything in the global economy has become a business; why should charities be any different? There are countless well known charities which have become a Golden Goose to support wealthy people. Some, it could be argued are not even charities at all and are using charity status to gain tax breaks.

Follow the Money……

You don’t need to be a forensic accountant to see what I’m writing about. imageRecent figures show that the top 10 bosses of charities are paid almost £4million. Ten people, £4million; charity really does begin ‘at home’. I imagine the 25 year old Scotch in the drinks cabinet will be covered by the ‘company’ credit cards which also pay for the first class travel to the galas and conferences that are crucial in keeping the machine running. Remember, “Your £2 per month could stop Aliesha walking 8 miles a day to collect the contaminated water she needs to keep her and her family alive”; but not before she’s made the equivalent of 2,000,000,000 journeys just to keep the 25 year old Scotch topped up…..

Stealth Tactics……

In this era of ‘social’ media, information is available to those with the money to pay for it and charities love to know our income bracket, occupation, the value of our property and type of car we drive. Older people are generally more generous when giving to charity. Therefore, if you new their age, income, the types of charities they already give to and, sadly, they have been personally affected by illness, they can become a target. Now, I believe charities are a good thing but it makes me very uncomfortable to know that elderly relatives are being targeted. Companies and Charities have been warned about this behaviour and claim that it allows them to collect monies more efficiently. I can speak from personal experience; shortly after we lost a family member to Cancer we made a donation. Within weeks we had received requests from dozens of Cancer charities. My Mother gives to one of the Cat charities and she receives endless requests.  It’s a competition sign you up.

Last year the equivalent of 200 targeted requests were made for ever man, woman and child in the UK……

Opportunities……

A whole new industry has formed around this new model of collecting which doubtless came from a firm of highly paid management consultants. It works like most business models today, using conpartmentmalisation. There are call centres dedicated to collecting, all for a fee of course. Marketing, research,, logistics, efficiency, the list is endless; all doing their bit for charity/a fee……

It’s a sad world when even charities are exploiting people, not for money to help others, but to make money to help themselves. The argument surrounding salaries goes as follows; a person in a similar position on the board of Fortune500 company can earn 10 times what they are paid by a charity. I’ll pause while we all laugh at the irony of that statement;e then point out that they are charities. There are Graduates and people with Ph. Ds in business management who would jump at the chance of earning 1/10th of the salaries paid to the old boy network, who probably have other jobs too……

If it Was Me……

Before I gave a penny to anyone I’d be checking the CEOs salary online. We gave £80 billion as individuals last year. It makes the States contribution look tiny in comparison which is why almost every ad break tells us 1 in 3 will get Cancer and half will suffer dementia. It’s only companies with big budgets and big profits we hear from the rest of the time. What a sad place the world has become when, what had admirable ambitions, has become another cog in the 3 percenters money making machinery, churning 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year…….

A Piece of the Pie……

What really worries me is the conditions created by the Military Industrial Complex. They create a great need for charitable interventions. I’m sure they were near the bottom of the list when 9/11 was at the planning stages but there’s a significantly larger slice of the pie available now……

GIVE GENEROUSLY TO THE DRIPPING TAP VIA PAYPAL “steve.tproject.gmail.com”.

Or just a position as an article writer, editor or researcher will do……

Life, Death and Other Things

10 May

‘You might think that the biggest killer of people aged between 15 and 45 in the UK would be road traffic accidents or maybe one of the many cancers we’re reliably told will affect 1 in 3 of us, but it isn’t. The biggest killer of young people in this first world nation is suicide……’

Suicide outnumbers road traffic deaths by 2:1. The latest statistics put the total number at over 6,000 per year; that’s almost one every hour. So, the question is why? What do such a large number of otherwise healthy young people in the prime of their lives find so unbearable that ending it becomes a viable option?

From a personal perspective there is a big difference between life and living. Life is the mechanical process of converting food and Oxygen to the sustain a heartbeat. Living is gaining satisfaction and enjoyment whilst doing so. In the global model of living which we are forced to accept inequality has never been greater, the basic requirements for taking part can become all consuming, leaving many people simply treading water and trying to plug holes in the dam behind which the necessities for life continually pile up leading to the feeling that living is a secondary concern. This is not to say that all downward spirals are caused by what equates to financial stress; rich people are profoundly unhappy too, but for what may actually be the same thing, albeit caused by different circumstances.

On a planet with 7bn other people it is surprisingly easy to feel alone. The family unit or the need to belong and feel needed, wanted and above all loved is another contributory factor. This is where unhappiness doesn’t care how much wealth you have but there is undoubtedly a disproportionate number of economically strained people making up the suicide statistics. The more time you spend plugging the holes in the dam, the easier it is to begin the downward spiral of loneliness and feelings of helplessness and worthlessness.

Despite the narrative that we recognise and care about people who may be well on the way down the path to ending their pain, there is very little professional help available. I’ll guarantee the paperwork and time spent evaluating and exonerating professionals of any blame in the aftermath of a suicide far out ways the amount generated preventing it whilst they were still living.

Although everything I have just written may be factual, it’s typical of my personality to attemp to rationalise and quantify but when all is said and done it is my own internal battle with suicidal thoughts that I intended to write about. The flippant remarks and often quoted misnomer that someone who is suicidal acts completely normally and “nobody would have imagined that they would do such a thing”, is a somewhat annoying cop out. Making the choice to take your own life doesn’t happen in a moment of desperation or madness, it is a considered act in many cases. I can only speak for myself but I go around in circles considering method, guilt and a whole host of emotions and rationale.

I have asked for help but nothing ever happens. Over time I have become more isolated, unhappy and desperate to escape the overwhelming feeling of impending doom. It feels like every concerted effort I make to change things fails. The failures mount up and as they do the chronic (untreated) depression makes the basics hard to maintain. I am consumed by guilt at the thought of hurting people and it is that, and only that that has kept me alive. But I don’t know how much more I can take. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, or for that matter, a tunnel. This isn’t a cry for help; God knows I’ve cried and cried for help but none has been forthcoming. I have posted many times about this and doubtless I’ll be labelled as the boy who cried wolf. Truth be told, I’m distracting myself from thinking because I’m afraid where it might lead. Death doesn’t scare me and the rationalisation that I could never have to face anymore pain is an appealing prospect but for now I’ll just keep plugging holes until the dam inevitably overflows……

The Right to Choose……

1 Apr

‘Regular readers will doubtless know my feelings on the right to self-determination when it comes to assisted suicide.  Well, yet again, another terminally ill man has to suffer the indignity and stress of fighting the British Courts on top of being in an unimaginable position……’

The case of Noel Conway, 67, from Shrewsbury, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease more than two years ago and fears being “entombed” in his own body as his ability to move declines, is the latest to reach the High Court.  He is not expected to survive beyond the next 12 months.

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Noel Conway

It is  completely understandable that people in Noel’s position fear the indignity, pain, inability to communicate and all of the unimaginable horrors that come towards the end of life as the disease progresses.  To have the added distress of having to fight a court battle, when all he is requesting a peaceful death when the disease becomes intolerable, seems cruel and totally unecessary.  We have the medicines required to bring about this ending painlessly when the time comes.

The legal arguments against assisted suicide always seem to come back to the same thing; that relatives will ‘push’ a terminally ill person to prematurely end their lives for some spurious reason, or that the person feels they will become a burden as the disease progresses.  It has been demonstrated in countries which allow assisted suicide that with the right checks and balances in place this is almost impossible.   I know of no instances where relatives or carers have been prosecuted in such situations.  In independent polls a large majority agree that it should be an option.

There are options available to some, but only if their condition and financial status allow.  Dignitas, Switzerland, are one organisation that can arrange a peaceful death for sufferers of incurable, degenerative diseases, however, the cost involved (approximately £10,000) is prohibitive for some.  For others, their condition makes travel impossible, denying access to the service.

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Established 1998

The unfortunate inability of our courts to legalise assisted suicide has led to despairing people taking things into their own hands which can cause more suffering or, in the worst case scenario, a prosecution.

Death is not something to be feared.  The idea that your place in Heaven will be lost is  nothing more than the remnants of outdated superstition.  When you are dead you are effectively in the same ‘place’ you were before you were born; and anyway, surely a loving ‘god’ will understand your need to end your pain.

It is time we removed the superstition and hysteria from the argument and listened to common sense, ended the anguish and suffering of those people who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having an intolerable illness and placed assisted suicide on the statute books.  It is a sick irony that we don’t allow animals to sufifer but our fellow brothers and sisters are allowed to suffer…….

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A Story of a Life……

7 Feb

I have started to write a memoir to tell the story of my life.  Normally, a memoir is something you’d expect to be written by someone much older than myself. However, most of the things that happened to me happened when I was young, during my formative years, and made me the complex person that I am today.  It’s not a happy story, much of which few people are aware of, even my closest friends and family.  It’s shocking and sad. Some of my friends know bits and pieces, but no one knows the whole story.  I am undecided how to publish it?  Whether to put it on my blog a chapter at a time, publish the whole thing in one go, or, publish it in print.  However I decide to do it, my concern above all else is to protect my Mother; the one constant source of love and support in my life.

Whatever the final format, it’s a shocking tale of secrets, fear, abuse and self destruction.  I’m not going to put any punches, although some names will be left out to protect identities.  I suppose it’s a kind of cathartic exercise to try and rid mysel Of some of the demons that still haunt me but, as you will see, some demons stay with you your entire life, like it or not……

Just Another Story……

30 Jan

‘I’ve never been good at expressing emotion, so I’ll leave it to someone else…..’

 

Stars they come and go, they come fast, they come slowand like the last light of the Sun they go out in a blaze of glory.

But it gets lonely there when there’s no one there to share,

you can shake it away, and make it a story.

People lust for fame, like athletes in a game,

they break their collarbones and come up swinging.

Some of them of crowned, some of them are downed, some are lost and never found.

But most have seen it all. They live their lives in sad cafés and music halls.

And they always have a story.

Some make it when they’re old, before the world has done it’s dirty job.

Later on someone will say you’ve had your day, now you must make way,

don’t they always?

But you’ll never know the pain, of using a name you never owned.

The years of forgetting that you know to well.

For you who gave the crown, then let me down and try to make amends,

without defending; perhaps pretending.

You never saw the eyes of young men at 25, who followed as you walked,

asked for autographs, kissed you on the cheek, but you never could believe they really loved you.

Some make it when they’re old, perhaps they have a soul they aren’t afraid to bare,

or perhaps there’s nothing there.

But that isn’t what I meant to say, I meant to tell my story, cause we all have stories,

but I can’t remember it anyway, so I tell about the mood in the world today permeating even Switzerland. And it goes on…..

So do I keep on going until I get it together?

Some women have a body men want to see, so they put it on display.

Some people play a fine Guitar, I could listen to them play all day but I’m trying to tell my story.

Janis Ian told it very well, Janis Joplin told it even better, Billy Holiday told even better. We always, always, we always have a story.

And the latest story that I know is the one that I’m supposed to go out with.

And the latest story that I know is the one that I’m supposed to go out with.

And the latest story that I know is the one that I’m supposed to go out with.

Love Hurts……

5 Sep

Recently a lot of things that were buried have come back to haunt me again.

When I was a confused, frightened 15 year old boy I fell in reciprocated love for the first time ever. He was older than me, gorgeous, a football player and told me how much he loved me. There was only one thing that had to be kept a secret; that there was an us. He didn’t want anyone to know.

I was submissive to him. It felt like that’s what I should be. He didn’t hurt me and I enjoyed the sex and the feelings of butterflies whenever I thought about him. Life was great, I had escaped the fear of being found out and it didn’t matter that we were a secret. When we were alone nothing else in the world mattered. I was in love.

As time went on we maintained the secrecy, we had our own secret code to communicate and arrange our secret meetings (no instant messenger then).

Then, one night, we had arranged to meet at a pub but I had to stay away from him until the night was over. This was nothing new. The plan was simple. He would leave and we’d go in opposite directions and meet up at his bed-sit when the coast was clear. Everything was ‘normal’ when he came up to me on the way back from the loo, handed me the keys and told me to go. Change of plan, he’d be home soon.

Soon enough he was. I was undressed and couldn’t wait for just another night of passion. How wrong was I. It was clear something was wrong. But what? I had, apparently, spoken to somebody he didn’t approve of. Butterflies turned to fear. He had hold of me by the top of my arms, digging his nails in. I told him he was hurting me and I didn’t even know what I’d really done but found myself apologising. I tried to kiss him; he moved aside. Precisely what happened next is still a bit of a blur but he hit me in the stomach and I went down. Two, maybe three digs later, I was on the floor in tears. Then he raped me. I don’t think I actually said no. I was confused, crying and in a lot of pain. I just froze. After, I can remember being in bed facing away from him so he couldn’t see me cry. Every time he touched me a shiver went through me.

In the morning he got up and left as if nothing had happened. When he’d gone I got up and walked into the bathroom. In the mirror stood a devastated, crying mess. Bruises and nail marks on my arms, a huge bruise on my kidney and an intense pain; the result of two cracked ribs which acted as a reminder of what he could do, even six weeks later.

He came back, told me I shouldn’t have provoked him and I apologised again. How could I still love him? I don’t know but I did. I put up with his paranoia, temper and abuse for almost two years. I blamed myself.

And when it was over it was him who finished it and I still cried and begged him to stay with me.

It was a long time ago but not the last time. What was wrong with me? Was I so desperate to be loved I’d take anything inflicted on me.
It wouldn’t happen now and I would never treat anybody that way. I don’t even know why I’m saying this. I suppose it’s freed a skeleton from the past. Another piece of embarrassing history. He might even see it and think about the damaged he did to an already damaged boy. And, I still love him. How twisted is that?…

But, as I’ve recently discovered, punches hurt less than unrequited love…