Growing up, I had a particularly bad childhood full of physical, but more so, severe mental torture. From living in the smelliest, filthiest house in a bad area of town, being bullied at a ‘posh’ school (i got a scholarship of some sort) for being the poor kid, and bullied on my estate for being the kid that went to the ‘posh’ school, it was tortuous to say the least. It has left me with lasting effects that have run in to what are now my mid-to-late thirties.
What I feel robbed of most during my non-existent childhood is that I was ridiculed for being who I actually was. My evil father and talentless mother considered my ‘intellect’ anywhere from being gay (which I wasn’t) to being extremely uncool and sad. Growing up, while most of you reading this had cuddles and love from your parents, I had literally zero physical contact with mine, other than a rare occasion of violence from my dad.
Now, add on top of that a formidable amount of daily mental abuse that cascaded down so that it was corroborated by my siblings and then of course adults and especially children of the local estate, it was no wonder that I was the loneliest kid in the world. Everything that I did was ridiculed by almost everyone in my life. From the music that I listened to, to the hobbies I enjoyed, I was made to feel like I was the scum of the earth – by the people that I should have been moulding me in to a man. By the way, the music I liked was ELO and hobby was programming computer games. Both are pretty normal, but it has taken me 30+ years to realise and appreciate this – I have only recently in the past few years been able to let people know what music I listen to, for fear of rejection and humiliation. It’s deep-rooted, is mental torture.
One of the worst crimes to happen to me was, from an early age, my own, sick father declaring on many occasions to his friends (and fathers of people on my own estate) that I was gay. Now, I wasn’t gay, but imagine a herd of lesser-educated people on an estate full of children that I encountered on a daily basis thinking that I was gay – in the 1980s on a council estate. I imagine being gay for young people is very tough, but imagine the injustice of having to suffer all that young gay people suffer, but to not be heard that I wasn’t – and all by generally less well-educated people that there was no talking to. I had no chance. No protection at home from bullying – in fact, that’s where the cycle and rumours started. Not to mention the attempted sexual attacks by friends of my dad that had managed to get me alone and try out their fantasies…This made life unbearable for all of my childhood and I honestly don’t know how I survived it.
So why am I writing all of this down? Because I never – ever – stopped being myself. Not for one single second. It is the thing that has made me the man I am today – I have plenty of faults, as I am only human, but I am also very proud of what I stand for. To thank for this, I have an angel that I am sure was only in my life to give me enough strength to make it through until I could make a life of my own. This was my granddad – not my real granddad, but someone that entered my life via my evil dad’s mother, luckily for me. True to form, not a few weeks after I became a man, he left my life to the skies like the angel he was.
This man inspired me to live. He gave me sage advice, made me understand the predicament that I lived in, cajoled me into continuing on and gave me the desire to beat my enemies. Not with violence, not with slyness, not with secretive ways, but with love and kindness – and education.
He himself was an ex-footballer and miner. He would not have been seen as a clever man, but the way he lived his life, he garnered more respect than any person I have had the pleasure of meeting since. This may not seem a lot to most, but the sight of seeing this man walk through a really rough estate of feral-like children but be the only person (especially old person) that was not heckled, but in fact admired is something that is imprinted on my mind forever. He instantly turned bored, cynical, naughty, cheeky, disruptive kids into children again. I can see him now, his 6’6 frame and rough, dirty kids treating him like he was santa claus.
Because I have little feelings about my own family – not hatred, just no feelings, I have dedicated my life to inspiring others to be as successful as they can be. The people that work at my company become my family and I do my utmost to help each and every one of them. Even the ones that regularly let me down.
All through this, I am still myself. And I give myself. All of it. I try to do what my granddad did for me and help others to reach their maximum. I am sure that some of the people that work with me think that I am weird, or strange, or uncool (and more!), but as each of them leaves the nest eventually, I give them the gift of dedication, hard work, humility and living with a sense of fun and passion. After all, it’s all I have to give them.
Despite my childhood, it’s a beautiful world, for you, and for me. Take pleasure in it, it’s nice to be alive. Live it, and work it, like there was no tomorrow.