My name is Stephen. I am 48 years old at the time of writing with a wealth of experience of…..very little.
You see, I have learned from an early age that I was to be seen and not heard and this became a belief, and more so a rule that has plagued me throughout my existence thus far. When I say rule, I mean the norm. Too afraid to speak my mind, to voice an opinion, to suggest other ideas instead of ‘going with the flow’. I haven’t really been confident enough to speak up in a family environment due to this, this has led to conversations being cut short as I have had nothing to say which must mean one of two things…1) I’m not interested and 2) am not intelligent enough. This seems quite extreme but it is my feelings that have accompanied me throughout my life.
Let me start at the beginning. I was born into a world where the patriarch of the family would go to work and the opposite, the matriarch, would stay at home and mind the children. A normal thing for children growing up in the seventies I’m sure. Dad would go to work and then after he had finished his shift as a labourer, would go to the pub to be with his mates. This left Mum with three kids to look after, as well as doing the housework, tidying up after the kids, making the tea, getting us ready for bed, putting us to bed…you get the idea? Then 11 pm would come around and then dad would arrive, wanting to see his children who were asleep and then had to come down to be with him. A normal routine was administered and it became a part of our life growing up. Within this period of time, however, it is now clear to me that as children, we were largely expected to comply with the rules so much so that I feel as though our voice was silenced as I didn’t really have a role model to look up to who could guide, encourage, discipline – although he was there, just not all of the time.
Going through puberty, girls, high school I was pretty much left to fend for myself as I had mum to confide in but honestly, it shouldn’t have been her job and I became withdrawn and isolated from who I should have become. I didn’t have any confidence which became an issue as I left school (with two ‘O’ levels) as I was pretty much a follower of many, a people pleaser and ‘the quiet one’ in the corner. It was only through alcohol (one of the few interests dad and I shared, apart from football), that I started to become more confident which put myself under a false persona.
I had reached manhood and was involved in what can only be described as an event that turned my life upside down. I was involved in a sporting disaster that changed me as a person – to become more withdrawn, more isolated and more in tune with alcohol to drown out who I had become and what I had been involved with. Mum said ‘you changed overnight’ and I can totally understand this from her perspective. There is more to this story in the blog itself.
Fast forward to a couple of years and the appearance in court after a long and bitter dispute, to prove that I wasn’t the father of a child who I had been accused of fathering; lots of mud stuck at that time and I just came to accept that I was destined to be this person with little confidence who didn’t believe his place in this world.
Further heartache and disappointment followed as I went through a period of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. I had a relationship which broke down leaving me apart from my son and coupled with this was bankruptcy, death (not mine!), alcohol, unemployment and a general feeling of uselessness!
Something had to change…..Have your say: join my private Facebook group, The Silent Man, today.