I’ve been looking in the wrong way. Mum called me an ‘angry young man’ some time before her cancer diagnosis. And every time I’ve looked back for root causes for what’s been wrong I’ve always hit this and thought it was at the root cause of things, at the heart of a continuum which has lasted 25 years. No. That was being a normal, impatient teenager, who couldn’t stand having left the wide, diverse and interesting world, for a narrow-minded, backward-looking island. Where my world had been wide open, in 1980 it became very narrow indeed. The fog into which I fell came later – in 1985 – when my support systems stopped and I a) had to look after myself without the necessary tools (they hadn’t developed yet) and b) I mimicked the support systems and coping mechanisms I was surrounded by. That’s remained unchanged until now.
When things went wrong, they always went terminally wrong (mimicking 1985). And during the un-‘terminal’ times, I’ve grasped for gratification as a means of managing and survival (mimicking 1985). My means of developing the skills to resume a rich and interesting life, exploring my world, got postponed & then ignored – I didn’t even know what to ask for or that anything was missing for that matter. My family, trying to beat cancer, was all I knew, just at the wrong time. I did get breaks in the fog, but it still kept my sexual orientation invisible from me until I was 24. Other people even in those days (and on that hellish rock) were coming out at 15, but not me. Mum’s death in 1990 was a final disengagement of body and emotional minds.
Since then I’ve blown a vast amount of money when Alistair has taught me my missing happiness could have come for free. And my relationship with my father became mercantile, only showing pockets of emotional potential, leaving us both confused and not fully comprehending each other. Essentially in the last 20 years I’ve asked for his support only twice – keeping him close to me for meaningless times, not meaningful ones. It’s no wonder that he was confused on both occasions. Now though I’m learning daily skills of looking at the world around me through a choice of prisms, rather than believing there was only one, and only experiencing explosions of the others. I can now see that my relationship with my father has had its own entirely distinct path – which had been foggy and unused since 1985, but no longer.
It’s taken 22 years – my sister took much less to her real credit – but I’m finally taking tentative, real steps forward and leaving my unskilled approach, my long, cosseted suicide behind. Of course laced in this ‘missing time’ – this ‘fog’ – are all sorts of problems, not the least of which the bog standard one of retaining characteristics of the age at which the trauma which set it off happened. I’ve tried to catch up in numerous ways since the fog first broke in 1994, successes have been few (but key – Tom for one), the failures dramatic. In a fog it’s not surprising, but I’m racing ahead now. One day I’ll be happy to say goodbye to the boy I never had the chance to be.